Author's Notes: Charlaine Harris is the sole owner of these characters, and as always I am just borrowing them for amusement

**** Before going any further, I want to thank my best friend and cohort Kathy, who keeps me writing even when I'm convinced I should give it up and take up basket-weaving; and also Jesi, who has helped me a great deal with suggestions and editing.

****Here is the first chapter of the sequel to Pour Some Sugar On Me. This story will be told from the alternating viewpoints of Sookie and Eric. Even though you see some of the night from both points of view, you will always learn something new from each. As in the first story, the first half is very much a romance, with much more action in the second half.

Just to remind you of the major events in PSSOM: Sookie and Eric finally recognize their love for each other, and after a very short engagement, they get married. Niall has promised them a rather mysterious wedding gift, which he has not delivered yet. Sookie has discovered that she has fairy magic of her own, but unless her life is threatened, it is still very unpredictable. The Viking and the Telepath have entered into a very rare, very sacred relationship called a Second Bond, which means not only can they feel each other's emotions, their souls are actually intertwined. It has some drawbacks, though; they constantly crave each other's company, and in fact cannot be parted for very long without very serious repercussions.

Eric has given Sookie a restored mansion on a several-hundred acre estate, which she has named Valhalla. It is located half-way between Bon Temps and Shreveport. Sookie has given up her job at Merlotte's, but finds herself quite busy helping out with running Fangtasia, and also in her new role as Eric's wife and partner.

To keep Sookie from being added to Felipe de Castro's nest, and also to avenge his former Queen Sophie-Ann, Eric very deviously allowed Victor Madden to follow through with his plans to kill Felipe. In turn, Eric killed Victor, thus allowing Eric to become King. His claim was upheld by the Ancient Pythoness; who, after proclaiming them to be "Fated" to be together, also issued a mysterious prophecy regarding Sookie and Eric's future. Quinn the Were-tiger was involved in a plot to break Eric and Sookie's Bond, and perhaps even conspired with Victor to have Eric killed. He disappeared the night of the coup, and has not been seen since.

Eric and Sandy Secrest were co-conspirators in the plot, with the agreement that they would split Felipe's old Kingdom. Sandy is uncertain of her hold on Nevada, however, and has made her interest in making a political Royal vampire marriage with Eric known to him (which is allowed under vampire law in spite of any prior marriages to humans). Sookie is unaware that this is even a possibility, and Eric has vowed to keep it that way. Eric was also aided in the take-over by his life-long friend and nest mate, Sir Robert (a Knights Templar in his human life), and Stan, King of Texas.

This story begins a couple of weeks after Eric has become King of Louisiana and Arkansas...

Addicted to Love

Chapter 1

Sookie's POV Wednesday

I had never been so happy to see a vampire bar in my life. Well, not just any vampire vampire's bar, Fangtasia. We had just pulled into the back parking lot, and parked his red Corvette near the back door. Eric got out, stretched up to his full 6'5", and then came around, opened my door and offered me his hand. Taking it, I slid out as gracefully as I could manage, and then shivered a little as the cool night air hit my exposed body parts...which were most of them. My Viking had picked my outfit, darn him. Obviously he had never had to escape the clutches of a Corvette's low slung bucket seats in a tight black leather mini-skirt. He said that since I was now his Queen, I would have to start dressing the least at the club. Pam had come home a little more than a week ago to oversee Fangtasia and Area Five in Eric's absence. Eric's day man, Bobby Burnham, had driven the 'Vette out to the airport to meet our plane. He had taken our luggage back to our home in the country, Valhalla, while we drove straight to Fangtasia. We had been gone from home for about a month now, counting our honeymoon; the last few weeks had been spent in New Orleans getting all the kinks out of the transition.

What is the proper term for a take-over of a take-over? I didn't know, but the whole event had resulted in my husband and Twice-Bonded, Eric Northman, former Sheriff of Area 5, becoming the vampire King of Louisiana and Arkansas. Instead of living in New Orleans full time like his former Queen, Sophie-Ann Leclerq, he had opted for running things from Shreveport. He had decided to keep the "Royal Residence" there, because he would still have to go there frequently (he was definitely a hands-on type of vampire) and all the important vampires that he would be dealing with would no doubt rather meet in New Orleans for events than the more sedate Shreveport.

Since Eric had taken over as King, I had found myself pretty busy helping him screen all the day humans that were associated with Area One, and also I had been in charge of re-organizing the staff and so-on at the Residence. Oddly, I didn't find it much harder than hiring waitresses. Eric had been all for firing everybody and starting over, but that hardly seemed fair...or prudent (a recent Word of the Day… I took to buying my own calendars after falling out with Arlene). Due to Katrina, the workforce was much slimmer than it once was, so I just "listened in" on each member of the staff until I figured out which ones were worth keeping. It turned out that Reuben (the head day-human at the Residence) wasn't a bad guy at all, and good at his job; and so he got to keep it.

Eric had appointed Rasul to the very important position of Area 1 Sheriff, after both Bill and Pam had turned down the job. Bill and Mr. Cataliades were both still in New Orleans, and would probably be there for at least a few more days. Eric had surprised the heck out of me when he told me that he had given Bill the option of either being one of his two Lieutenants, or staying in his current position as Area 5 Investigator. Apparently, Bill had still not given him an answer. Since Eric and I had gotten married, the two of them had finally managed to get along fairly well. Although I could tell it still took an effort for the Viking to not be jealous of my former lover, he had learned to control it much better. As for Bill, he seemed less inclined to irritate Eric on far.

In any event, we were finally home...Well, almost. I could tell that Eric was glad to be back in his own neck of the woods, so to speak. Eric held the back door of Fangtasia open for me, and I stepped into the long hallway leading up to the bar. In my left hand I carried a small gift bag. Pam must have heard us come in, because she came gliding out of her office. She bowed deeply and then said formally, "Master. Mistress. Welcome back."

I rolled my eyes. We'd had this same talk bout fifty times already. In exasperation, I said, "Pam! Cut it out! You know very well that you do not have to call me that!"

I looked back at Eric, to get him to back me on this, but he just stood there with a little mischievous grin on his handsome face. I could tell he was enjoying this battle of wills between his two women. Men! Arrrg. "Some help you are," I said frostily. "Well, I'm sure you two have a lot to discuss, so I think I'll go give Felicia her gift."

I turned and marched down the hallway towards the bar. It was only a Wednesday night and the place was packed. I could see Felicia busily hustling drinks along with the two other vampire bartenders. She glanced up from her work and saw me coming, and I could see her swallow, hard. If it had been possible for her to get any paler, she no doubt would have. I sighed. I guessed she did have good reason to be a little nervous, since the prior bartenders of Fangtasia really didn't seem to do very well around me...although I was only directly responsible for one final death. Nonetheless, I was determined to win her over, so I had bought her a little something while Eric and I were on our honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands.

I slid in behind the bar. The other vampires gave me a little half-bow, just to acknowledge my new status, and then went back to work. Felicia turned towards me, bowed very low and then said, "Mistress. Welcome back. Can I get you something?"

"I saw this while we were on our honeymoon, and I thought of you. I hope you like it," I said, giving her my best smile, and handing her the brightly colored gift bag. I said,

Her eyed widened, and I could tell that she was shocked that I had even bothered. She reached out and took the little sack. Plunging her hand inside, she pulled out the little wad of tissue, and opened it. It was a lovely pair of earrings that I had bought from a beadwork artist on Tortola. She stammered, "Ah, Mistress, I don't know what to say..."

I said gently, "Just a "thank you" is plenty. Listen, I know that you and I had a rocky start, but really...I promise you are completely safe from me."

She stared down at the little earrings, and said, "Thank you very much. They are beautiful and I will treasure them as a gift from my new Queen."

"Listen, about that...Please, just call me Sookie, okay? I'm not really a Queen...well, I am, but only in the sense that I'm married to the King. A consort, I think they call it. You know, I have no real authority or anything." I would never tell Eric, but it made me feel a little strange when anyone but him called me by that title. I had never wanted or expected to be the Queen of anything, but then, I knew Eric had not really been all that hot to become King, either. He had mainly done it to save me from the awful fate of being added to Felipe de Castro's Royal nest, so the least I could do was accept my new role as gracefully as possible.

For once, Felicia looked me right in the eye, and said, "Excuse me for saying so, ma'am, but in this kingdom you have plenty of authority....what vampire in their right mind would go against the King's Twice-Bonded? They would be staked immediately!"

A wave of unease swept over me. She might very well be right, and I absolutely did not want to be the cause of any more deaths, vampire or otherwise. As I had vowed to do on Mardi Gras, on Ash Wednesday I had gone to St. Louis Cathedral and had ashes put on my forehead, as a gesture of atonement; and had said prayers for all those deaths that I had anything to do with...I realized as the priest was placing them on my forehead how appropriate they were...ashes for ashes, so to speak. However, I had every intention of keeping my head down from now on, or as much as I possibly could given the much more important position that Eric now held.

I patted Felicia's arm and said, "Just chill, okay? Nobody's going to get staked on my account. Now, can I have a couple of Bloods for Eric and Pam, and a coke for me?"

She bobbed her head, and said quickly, "Of course, Mistress! Right away!" When she handed them to me, though, she gave me her beautiful smile, and that time I believed it to be a genuine one.

I dutifully carted all three drinks back to Eric's office, balanced myself on one foot, and shoved the partially closed door open with my other, which wasn't all that easy in 4" stiletto heels (also Eric's choice). Pam was sitting on the edge of his desk, and apparently they had been having an intense conversation. As soon as I entered, they both looked up at me, twin looks of total innocence on their beautiful faces. Pausing at the door, I surveyed my vampires. I realized that, in addition to those patently ridiculous looks (who ever heard of an innocent vampire, I ask you!) I had also caught just the slightest twinge of guilt coming through our Bond. What on earth were those two up to now? I sighed. As much as they trusted me, and loved me, clearly they still weren't ready to spill every little vampire secret.

I walked over and carefully sat all three drinks down on the corner of Eric's desk, then handed them each a bottle. I took my coke, and sat in one of the chairs. Rather mildly, I said, "Felicia seemed to like her earrings."

Pam rolled her eyes and drawled, "Sookie, really! You didn't need to get her anything!"

I could see that around her neck she was wearing the really beautiful diamond and amethyst drop that Eric and I had brought her as a gift. I just smiled, and changed the subject by asking, "So, what's going on in here? You two look as thick as thieves."

Again, the tiny hint of guilt through the Bond, but Eric spoke up and said, "Lover, we have received an invitation from Sandy. She is going to hold her coronation ceremony in about ten days, and has asked that I attend. "

What? We just got home! What I really wanted to do was just hang out for awhile, work on decorating the wonderful old home Eric had given me as an engagement present, and visit my friends. I was also homesick for my old farmhouse, and I hadn't been to see about Gran's grave in weeks. I had never been away from home for this long in my life, and I just wanted to stay put for awhile. Of course, the big question was... why did Eric feel guilty about going to Las Vegas? I asked, "Why so soon? Sandy just became Queen a couple of weeks ago. Do we absolutely have to go?"

Something about Sandy made me very nervous, but I couldn't exactly put my finger on why. She had always been perfectly polite... but then, so had Felipe de Castro, right up until I had told him I wasn't too crazy about the idea of Eric and I living in his Royal Nest in Nevada. I couldn't help but wonder what Sandy had up her sleeve.

Calmly, Eric answered me, "Yes, my Love, we must go. She wants to make it clear that I support her, and have no intention of trying to regain Nevada. She will be attending my Coronation, for similar reasons."

Sensing that I was about to argue, Pam spoke up, and said, "Mistress, it will be fun! You have never been to Las Vegas, have you?"

Reluctantly, I shook my head. She continued, "There is so much to do! Besides gambling, there are many great shows, and wonderful shops. You and I can go to the night spa, and have massages and pedicures! You will enjoy it, you will see!"

She sounded downright enthusiastic, which made me know without a doubt that something was definitely up. Pam was never, ever enthusiastic about anything not involving blood, sex, or fighting. All I could think to myself was, Oh, crap! Here we go again!

Pam stood and smoothed down her mini skirt, and said, "Now, Sookie, if you are still interested in helping me with the scheduling, I have the new chart ready to be filled in on my desk. Will you come have a look?"

I could tell it was a diversion, but I obediently got up and trailed behind her to her office. She brought the schedule over to her little sofa, sat down, and patted the cushion next to her. I joined her, and she showed me the list of available waitress, bartenders, maintenance people, etc, and the time slots needing to be filled. I noticed right away that Becca's name was no longer on the roster. I asked Pam why she quit. "Oh, I think she said something about getting a job in another state..." she replied vaguely. "Now that you are back, we will need to hire someone new. I will see about posting an ad on the Internet tonight."

Given Becca's past relationship with the now finally dead Clancy, and my part in him becoming that way, I figured that it was just as well she had moved on. Pam showed me what to do with the scheduling, and then she said she was leaving it up to me. Now that Eric was King, things were a bit more complicated than before, and he and Pam were busier than ever. Since almost all of the Kingdom staff in New Orleans had come from Nevada, Sandy had taken most of them back with her. Eric was already talking about hiring more people to help run things, but until then I was going to pitch in and help as much as I could until things settled down. Right then, it was time for Pam to take door duty, so I went and sat at her desk and worked on the schedule. Fangtasia had a lot of employees and since this was my first time to do the scheduling by myself, it took me quite a while. However, I finally filled in the last slot, made copies for everyone, went and posted them in the proper places and taped the copies to each employee locker, as instructed.

I was headed back to Pam's office, when I saw a boy who looked like a college student coming cautiously down the hallway. He was carrying a couple of boxes, and appeared to be very nervous. His eyes were darting around, and I could a light sheen of sweat on his brow. If I had just listened in on that phony fangbanger the first time I laid eyes on her, I could have saved everyone involved a lot of unnecessary worry; so this time, I let my shields down and heard....I promised Dad that I would never come into a vampire bar, but I need this delivery job!...Why do vampires need food delivered anyway?...Oh shit! Maybe they are really after the delivery guy and not the dinner!

He looked like he was about to bolt back down the hallway, so I gave him what I hoped was a reassuring smile and said, "Hi! Can I help you?"

The young man cleared his throat, then stammered, "Uh... yes, ma'am. Food delivery for Sookie Northman?"

That vampire! He could have asked me first! In the last few weeks, I had been losing some weight, and Eric seemed intent on seeing that I ate regularly. Tonight I had been too busy packing and then getting to the airport on time to eat in New Orleans. I said, "That's me. Um... let me get some money."

"Oh. No, ma'am, everything was paid for by credit card, including my tip." He handed me the boxes, and I could hear him think, Is she a vampire? She couldn't eat food, could she? Whatever she is, she sure is pretty! Maybe vamps aren't as bad as Dad says...

Well, bless him for that. I said kindly, "Thank you for delivering. I'll bet you've never been here before, huh? I remember the first time I ever came here. It seems pretty weird, right? I've gotten used to it though; I just married the owner."

He gave me an appraising glance and asked, "Really? Wow...are you...human?"

Reminding myself to make an appointment at the tanning salon, I laughed and said, "Yep. Now, you had better get on back, you won't make much money if you take too much time on each order." He turned and scurried out the door without a backward glance.

Pam was still busy out front, so I took my dinner in her office to eat it. It had come from a real restaurant, not a fast food place, and was quite good. Although I really wasn't very hungry, I ate as much as I could get down, threw the rest away, and then went to brush my teeth in the locker room. While I was in there, Julie, the waitress I had helped hire, came in. Apparently she was on her break. The minute she saw me her face lit up with that engaging smile of hers. "Hi!" she said cheerfully. "You're Mrs. Northman now, right? I haven't seen you since the wedding, so... congratulations!"

"Thank you, Julie," I replied, as I returned her contagious smile. "How is the job working out?"

Enthusiastically, she answered, "Great! The tips here are super!"

Just as she opened her locker to retrieve something out of it, she fumbled and dropped a pen on the floor. She leaned over to grab it, and as she did I happened to notice several fresh fang marks on her neck and shoulder. When I interviewed her, I didn't remember seeing any. I said gently, "Um...not that it's any of my business, but are you dating a vampire now??"

She stood back up, and absently rubbed the little marks with her hand. She grinned sheepishly, and said, "Well, not exactly dating... just a little fun after work last night. Nothing serious."

"Someone from here?" I asked, in spite of myself.

"No, just some vamp chick drifting through. I've never seen her in here before. She had the coolest English accent, though!"

That's what I get for not minding my own business. I hadn't realized Julie was bent that way, but okay. However, instead of letting it go, I discovered that I still wanted to know more. I guessed that after all our recent troubles, I was still a little paranoid, so I asked, "Julie, did she ask any questions about Eric and me?"

I think she could tell I was not just being nosy. She thought for a minute, and said, "Well, she did ask a few questions about the Master... er... your husband. Actually, she wanted to know more about you, come to think about it. I really don't know very much about either one of you, but even if I did I would never spill anything important about you guys... I know better, and I really like this job! However, she was in the office talking to Pam for a long time, anyway, so maybe you should ask her."

If she was talking to Pam, she was probably okay, just checking in, as was protocol. However, something made me ask, "What did she look like?"

The little waitress gave me her special, infectious grin and said, "She was gorgeous! I can't believe that she even thought about hitting on me! She was about 6 feet tall, black hair, green eyes... a real knock out. She was pretty extreme in bed, too... oh, TMI, right?"

Way too much information! Thoughtfully, I said, "Julie, if anyone ever asks you any questions about any of us, other than the ordinary ones the tourists ask, you need to tell me immediately, okay?"

She looked at me very seriously, and said, "Yes, ma'am. I understand completely. I keep my ears open, and I know that Mr. Northman isn't exactly your average vampire, especially now."

Most humans still did not know anything about the vampire hierarchy, but I supposed that humans working for vampires were bound to figure it out pretty rapidly, if they had any smarts at all. I just winked, and said, "Oh, he's very special in many ways. Speaking of my husband, I'll bet he is wondering where I've run off to... I'll see you later, okay?"

She grinned again, and nodded. Leaving the locker room, I went straight down the hall, passing Eric's office. The door was partially shut, and I glanced in. He was on the phone, and when he saw me his face broke into a grin. I almost went in, but since he was clearly busy, I

reconsidered. Instead, I just gave him a little wave, and went out into the bar in search of Pam. Sure enough, she was out on display, giving the tourists their money's worth. I walked over and took a seat next to her. She said in a bored tone, "Mistress, I am glad you are here. This crowd is so dull I was just about to bite someone to get the place popping again." She saw my glare, and she amended, "All right, all right... Sookie."

I glanced around, and it did look a bit duller than usual at this hour. However, I had come out here with a specific goal in mind, and I decided just to dive right in. I asked, "Pam, I understand that a vampire woman was in here last night, and talked to you. She was tall with black hair, and spoke with a British accent. She was questioning one of the waitresses about Eric and me. Who was she?"

Although she never moved so much as a hair, I could tell my question had startled her. Nevertheless, she said smoothly, "Just an acquaintance, passing through town. Believe me, no one you should be worried about."

Something about her answer bothered me, but I couldn't put my finger on it... but before I could ask any more questions, Pam stood up, grabbed both my hands, and pulled me to my feet. She said, "Come on, Sookie, we need to get this crowd fired up. They aren't drinking nearly enough. Let's dance!"

Before I knew what was happening, she dragged me out onto the dance floor. I had no idea the title of the song being played, but it had a great beat, and the lyrics (at least the ones I was able to understand) were plenty suggestive. I was having a blast in no time! Pam must have invented the concept of dirty dancing and, as intended, I could tell that we were whipping the crowd up pretty good. Sometimes I could hardly believe she had been a carefully raised, very proper Englishwoman in her human life. I was no slouch either, and between the two of us we were giving the bar patrons a pretty good show. After the last several weeks of stress, I was enjoying being able to let go of some steam.

Almost immediately, I could tell without even looking that the Viking had put in an appearance. I glanced over my shoulder, and sure enough, he was standing on the edge of the dance floor, arms crossed, watching us with his most inscrutable look. The tourists were certainly getting their money's worth tonight; he was dressed entirely in black (my choice), his long golden hair was flowing loose over his shoulders, and in general he looked huge, dangerous and completely gorgeous. I nudged Pam to make sure she saw him. I raised my eyebrows and wiggled them at her. Instantly on the same wavelength, she gave me a shark-like grin, and nodded. Sliding in close behind me, she placed her hands on my hips, and we very sensuously snaked our way over to him. We both started rubbing all over him in time to the music, and I seductively pulled his head down and kissed him full on the mouth. Through our Bond, I could feel amusement, followed closely by a jolt of pure lust. Putting an arm around each of us, he pulled us in close. He turned and kissed Pam lightly on the lips, patted her on the butt, and then let her go. As for me, he turned those blazing blue eyes on me, reached down and swooped me up in his arms, and rapidly carried me back to his office.

Not too long ago, I had been pretty reluctant to have sex in his office, and most especially when the bar was open and full of customers. Right now, though, I thought my hootchie was about to spontaneously combust at any second. Eric had come to bed too close to dawn this morning to have time for love-making; and of course we hadn't had time tonight, because we had to catch our commercial commuter flight not long after first dark. I was more than ready, and of course it was obvious that he was, too. Any arguments from me would have likely been a complete waste of breath! Also, I had quite recently given up any semblance of ladylike behavior when I actually agreed to having sex in front of a room full of vampires. Granted, it was a required part of a very sacred ceremony, the room had been completely dark, and there had been drapes... but still! Every time I thought about it, I blushed like crazy.

So, when my vampire kicked his door shut, sat me the edge of his desk, and started giving me some of his no-holds-barred, totally erotic, panty-drenching kisses, I figured... what the hell? I had pretty much asked for it with that sexy little dance with Pam, hadn't I? Fortunately, the music in the bar was really loud, so no one could hear a thing; and they all thought we were in here doing exactly what we were doing anyhow. Eric ran his hands up under my short leather skirt, ripped my panties off in a flash, parted my legs, and then dropped to his knees. He was growling deep in his chest, and I could tell he was really, really looking forward to making up for lost time. I leaned back on my elbows, and prepared to be pleasured by the Master. He did not disappoint, either. In practically no time at all, he had me twitching and moaning; and then he bit into my femoral artery and started off my orgasm, and my god! It felt so good!

He stood, quickly pulled off his shirt, and unfastened his pants. He stepped between my legs, and I reached in, pulled him free, and his erection sprang into my hands. I stroked his smooth hardness for a minute, then I pulled him to me, guiding him to my entrance. He slid his big hands up under my bottom to steady me, and then shoved into me in one smooth motion. Oh! Oh! Even after all this time, I still had to adjust to his size. He began to move, first slowly, then with increasing speed. It was not the gentle kind of loving that I knew he was capable of either; it was the ferocious, growling, claiming kind of sex that was guaranteed to have me screaming his name in about a minute. I slid my arms around his neck held on for dear life. Sure enough, in practically no time I felt myself building up to another climax, and I was waiting for him to bite me, but surprisingly, he didn't. He had just taken a tiny sip from my leg earlier, so I was a little surprised, but then he hit just the right spot and the waves of my orgasm began to roll over me, and I ceased to think about it.

Sure enough, in spite of having told myself earlier not to, I found myself gasping out, "Eric! Ahhhhh! Ahhhhh!" As always, this seemed to make him even more inflamed, and he pounded me, hard, about three more strokes, moaned loudly, and then came inside me in a torrent. I clung to him, panting, my heart pounding away in my chest. Even after his climax, he kept moving inside me just a tiny bit, as if he just wanted to keep us joined a little longer. He whispered something to me in his old language, and I didn't know what it meant; but I could feel the sentiment behind it through our Bond. I noticed he had been speaking to me that way much more often now, and it always sent a thrill through me when I heard the liquid syllables rolling from his lips.

I hugged him, tight, and said, "I love you, baby. I'm sorry we missed this earlier."

He chuckled, and said, "Dear One, I love fucking you on this desk. In fact, I would say it is one of my all-time top five fantasies."

I pulled back enough to look him in the eye, and asked in a sultry voice, "Oh? What are the other four?"

"Don't worry... I think I'd rather just show them to you one at a time," he replied, breaking in to his most mischievous grin.

He went around to the other side of his desk, got a little soft towel out of a drawer and then proceeded to clean me up a bit. Other than my poor panties, I was still pretty much fully dressed. I slid myself off his desk, took the towel, and excused myself. I went on down to the restroom and finished repairing the damage. As I was making my way back down the hall, Pam was heading into her office. She quite obviously inhaled as I got close, and her fangs ran out immediately. She smirked and said, "Bar tabs up 20 percent in the last twenty minutes. Sookie, you and my Master are good for business!"

I had noticed the phenomenon at Merlotte's. When one couple on the dance floor got really amorous towards closing time, bar tabs would start rising immediately. I once asked Sam to explain, and he called it the "Drink 'em pretty" effect. In other words, it was late, suddenly everybody wanted to get laid by whoever was willing, and drunk enough that it didn't really matter what their partner looked like. Sad, but true.

In any event, I went on back to Eric's office, and found him dressed and sitting on the sofa drinking a TrueBlood. I sat down next to him, and he pulled my legs up over his lap, and then began to stroke them rather absently. For the second time that night, I wondered what was going on in that beautiful golden head of his. As for myself, I was wondering what in the heck he was doing drinking bottled blood when he just had an opportunity to have as much as he wanted of vintage Sookie Stackhouse Northman.

Just as I was about to ask him, his cell phone rang. He set his bottle down, dug in his pocket and pulled out his phone, and then flipped it open. As he began to speak, I leaned my head back against the sofa, closed my eyes, and just enjoyed listening to the sound of his deep voice. He continued to run his hands up and down my legs, and it was so soothing....

The next thing I knew, I heard Eric saying gently, "Come, Angel, it is time for us to go home."

I opened my eyes, and realized I had fallen asleep on his sofa. He had covered me with the soft blanket that he kept in his office for me once I started coming to Fangtasia with him all the time. He took it off and tossed it over a chair, then lifted me and carried me out to his car. He tucked me in the Corvette, jumped in the driver's side, and we set off for home. I think I was asleep again before we hit the end of the parking lot.

Surprisingly, he drove us all the way to Valhalla. I woke when we pulled up in front of the gates. Now that Eric was King, there were guards posted at the house twenty-four hours a day, and at night they were vampires. They bowed and opened the gates. Eric drove on through and then down the long drive to the house. The lovely old mansion came into view, and as always it was just so beautiful that I could hardly believe that I actually lived there. Bobby must have come earlier and dropped off our luggage, because the porch lights were on and the downstairs windows were glowing softly in welcome.

As soon as we came to a stop, I opened my own door and got out all by myself. As much as I loved it, Eric didn't need to carry me around like a baby all the time. We walked up on the porch, and he punched in the code and unlocked the huge old door. We stepped into the hallway, and I gasped! It looked... magnificent! My interior designer Daniel had been supervising the painting and wallpapering of the areas that had already been planned and approved. The wallpaper looked fantastic, and he had already hung the huge antique mirrors, and a few paintings. There was a round mahogany table sitting under the chandelier, resting on one of the oriental carpets that I had bought with Robert in New York. On it was sitting an enormous arrangement of fresh flowers. A small envelope was propped next to it. I looked questioningly at Eric, but he just shrugged.

I opened the envelope, and pulled out a note card with a golden royal crest on the front. I opened the card and read:

To King Eric of Louisiana and Arkansas and his lovely Queen Sookie,

Congratulations and welcome home.

Prince Niall Brigant

I smiled. I had called the Prince on Ash Wednesday, to be the first to tell him about our little change in circumstances. Of course, he already knew all about it. He seemed a little steamed that Eric had allowed me so close to the action, but was clearly pleased at the outcome. I guess if his great-granddaughter just had to be married to a vampire, at least it was to a vampire King. I had also thanked him heartily for my magic tutor, Faeryn. His wonderful laugh had spilled through the phone, and he had said, "My dear, she thinks you hung the moon! She was very pleased at your progress, as am I. Tell me, have you been practicing?"

Rather guiltily, I admitted that I had not. Too many other more critical things had been happening, and plus, I had been surrounded by vampires who weren't supposed to know anything about it! He chastised me by saying, "Sookie, my child, you really must devote some time to this every day. You must not let vampire affairs come before your own best interests. Now, promise me that you will practice!"

I had promised, and now tried to practice a bit every day. As Faeryn had predicted, it was harder to do magic now that I was home. I still had a huge amount of trouble getting things to come to me. I had learned the hard way to only practice with non-breakable items, since my attempts to knit things back together were a complete waste of time. Niall had told me that he was going to be away for a few weeks, but would contact me on his return. He reminded me that we still needed to "discuss" my wedding gift.

After reading Niall's card, I smiled and handed it to Eric. He looked it over, and asked me, "Did you tell him we would be home tonight?"

"No, I haven't spoken to him in a couple of weeks," I replied.

He looked thoughtful, but said no more on the subject. He did, however, take a good look around the entry and commented, "This is quite lovely. I approve of your choices. Shall we see what else has been done?"

I was still pretty sleepy, but I was dying to see the progress. We had only been at Valhalla a short time on the night of our wedding, and the groom had other things on his mind that home furnishings; so Eric had really seen none of the things I had purchased. We walked from room to room, and I could tell by the way his eyes were glowing that he liked everything very much. I was absolutely astonished at how much had been accomplished in the last three weeks! It was amazing!

Although I had my hands full at the Royal Residence, I had talked with Daniel almost daily while Eric and I were in New Orleans, and he had e-mailed me many times with pictures of choices. I had been somewhat worried about decorating a house remotely like that, but so far, everything looked just wonderful! It was every bit as lovely as the Residence in New Orleans, just not nearly as stuffy. It looked like people could actually relax and have fun here, which was exactly what I wanted. The formal areas were plenty fancy enough for company, which was good given Eric's new status. At the time I had stared the project, I had no idea that Eric becoming King was even a remote possibility.

I had finally gotten Eric to explain to Daniel all the technical issues involved with making the bedrooms light-tight, and most of that work had been taken care of in our absence. The upstairs was still not completely done, but was well on its way to being ready for vampire (or other) guests. Eric took my hand, and said, "You have done a wonderful job, especially given the circumstances. I am very proud of our home, and my lovely wife. Now, it is nearly dawn, and I would like a shower before we go to rest. Will you join me?"

I gladly followed him down to our room, and went straight to the bathroom. He undressed quickly and then helped me finish removing my clothes. He ran his hands over my body, with what I imagined was a slight frown. He started the water and we had our mutual shower. It was a lovely shower too, the kind where you get clean, then dirty, then clean again. However, even though I enjoyed it very much, he still had not bitten me. I was starting to get a little worried. Had I been eating garlic without realizing it? In New Orleans it had been nearly impossible find anything without garlic in it! Did he just not like the way I tasted anymore? I would know if he had been feeding from others, wouldn't I? Looking back over the last couple of days I realized that he had fed from me very, very little.

My vampire had gotten into bed, and patted my spot next to him. He said, "Come, Dear One, dawn is getting close and I want to hold you a little."

I crawled up next to him, and laid my head on his chest. He wrapped both arms around me, and pulled me close. He kissed the top of my head, and asked, "It is good to be home, is it not?"

"Yes, it is," I hesitated a moment, and then asked, " Eric, will you tell me something? Why are you not feeding from me? Is there something wrong?"

My vampire seemed to mull this over before carefully replying, "You are losing weight. I have been taking too much from you. You must stay healthy."

I didn't know why, but that answer made me want to cry. I said, "Baby, you were right. I just haven't been eating enough. I promise, I will do better, now that we're home. But it's not because of you taking too much blood! I feel absolutely fine!"

He sighed heavily, and said, "Nevertheless, until you start regaining some weight I will drink the bottled blood, except for just a nip now and then."

I knew by the way he said it he meant it. When he had that tone it usually meant that his mind was made up, and that was that. I have no idea why, but the next thing out of my mouth was, "Eric, do you love me?" Gah. I couldn't believe I sounded so... needy. I wished immediately that I could take it back.

His face became serious and he said something sharply in his native tongue, and then amended it to English so that I could understand, "Yes, of course I love you. What kind of question is that? You are my Queen and my Twice-Bonded. Now, Beloved, close your eyes and rest with me."

With that, I could feel the sunrise, and he fell into his daytime slumber. I lay there, wrapped safely in his arms, but it took me a long time to finally go back to sleep.