The social dances were fun, but Sookie's favorite dance was by far the waltz, so she was glad to see the small orchestra taking it's break and the curtain pulled fully open to reveal the DJ stand.
"Your forbearance is greatly appreciated, my love," Eric whispered from behind her as he leaned and kissed her neck. She didn't answer, but raised a hand to his face and smiled. "Your happiness makes you radiant. I hope to feel this often repeated, Dearest. So often it becomes your normal state."
"I can't even describe for you how I feel tonight," Sookie murmured.
"Close your eyes," he purred into her ear as he wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "Don't think about how you feel, simply feel it."
He began to sway as Rob Thomas' My, My, My filled the air.
After only a few seconds Eric turned her toward him. His face was beaming. "Welcome, my love, to the place you belong." In a move she barely saw, he grabbed up the edge of her skirt and hooked the small black loop onto her ring and stepped into the slow waltz.
"That's it!" she said with a tear in her eye and an adoring smile for him. "I belong here … in this world … with you."
Together, Eric and Rob Thomas sang her answer …
~~ Time after time ~~
~~ You're falling behind ~~
~~ Hold on to me ~~
~~ Never leave ~~
~~ Forever be what you mean to me right now ~~
Sookie followed as Eric twirled and dipped her elegantly around the floor, the long, red folds of her skirt dramatically surrounding them in wave upon wave of rich glistening blood.
The impact was immediate and exactly as Eric had imagined it would be. The world stopped and only he and his Queen moved within it. Across the dance floor, kings and commoners alike made way. He heard Anna ask Vincentas to take her home. Even the mad woman was forced to see the certainty of their union. His triumph was complete.
For hours they alternated between dancing and giving individual attention to their guests. Sookie was introduced to everyone she didn't already know, primarily vampire representatives from an assortment of European courts. Vincentas was the only actual European King who came, but Eric told Sookie that was to be expected. The European Kings rarely left Europe except in cases of war. Vincentas of course had the dual purpose of visiting his brother.
Their mission for the evening was simple. Eric was to appear noble and confidently in-charge and Sookie was to be vivacious and captivatingly charming. Regardless of how the American vampire royalty felt about them, it was very important to Eric, Sookie was deemed acceptable to the courts of Europe. Despite their newly formed hierarchy in North America, the European aristocracy still held sway. They were the final authority. If Sookie was accepted there, no one here could move against her. So she greeted a string of Ambassadors and courtiers of various levels throughout the evening. And she took great care to treat each one as if she were as honored to make their acquaintance as she would be their respective king or queen.
She couldn't breathe. She couldn't make the air come. She was choking, no, there was nothing in her mouth, but, but there was something, it, she was blindfolded. Why? Where was she? It wasn't hot yet she could feel the space around her, as if she were standing in the middle of a fog bank or a particularly hot afternoon in New Orleans when the air was thick and salty. Eric was near, she could feel his presence. She couldn't hear him, but he was calling to her. He was summoning her. "She heels well." She remembered him lying to Andre as he convinced Andre to allow her to establish a stronger blood bond with him rather than force her to bond with Andre. She moved and hit something. No, someone, it was Eric. She shook her head and looked up. The blindfold was gone and Eric was sitting beside her, holding her and looking into her eyes, smiling.
"I am happy to see you have decided to rejoin us, my love," he said with a grin and a wink.
"I fell asleep," she said as she reoriented herself. "Did you try to wake me? Or call my name?"
"I did not, the hour is very late," he answered. "In fact, I made every attempt to not disturb your rest. Had you remained sleeping another five minutes, it was my intention to take you home and put you to bed."
She smiled and kissed his cheek. "That sounds awfully tempting. Perhaps I should pretend I'm still asleep."
"We have guests," he reminded her with a grin.
"Uh oh, I didn't fall asleep in the middle of talking to someone did I? I didn't offend anyone?"
He chuckled softly and squeezed her reassuringly. "They are all as in love with you as I am."
"Liar," she accused.
"Do not speak of them so harshly of them, my love. They try, but no one could possibly match my love for you."
Sookie looked around the room and noticed many had left. "I don't suppose we could just slip out, could we?"
"Alas, no," he replied. "Of course we could dazzle them and make a grand exit, leaving them wanting more," he added cheerfully.
"And how do you suggest we do that?"
"Armed with that dress? With a waltz, of course!"
They waited and when The Grand Illusion by Styx was nearing its end they stood and Sookie looped the small black loop close to the bottom of her skirt onto her ring. Eric raised her hand high as they took the floor. The DJ's cue to play their final waltz, Tenterfield Saddler by Peter Allen.
"Ignore them, Sookie," he whispered. "Dance for me."
She looked up at him and her smile reflected the love she saw there. Each locked in the gaze of the other, they danced, among the glistening cascades of blood pulsating to the soft, rhythmic beating of the music around them.
Once secluded in the privacy of their room, Eric sat on the side of the bed happily watching Sookie twirl until she finally came to rest between his legs with her arms around his neck. She giggled and reeled as she caught her breath and her balance. "It was a wonderful party, my darling. I had the best time ever." She smiled and kissed him on the forehead.
"How very chaste a kiss as reward from a woman who claims to have been greatly entertained," he said with a sly grin. "Dare I hope for more?"
"More than more," she replied with a teasing grin of her own.
"I am intrigued," he said, his voice ringing with curiosity.
"I'm ready," she said, looking directly into his eyes and holding his face in her hands.
"For what, my love? I am at your service." He smiled, turning his head and kissing her palm.
She gently pulled his face back to look at her. "I'm ready," she repeated in little more than a whisper.
"I love you," she breathed and kissed him passionately on the mouth.
He hungrily returned her kiss. His love, his beautiful Sookie who had brought him back from the long tediousness which had driven so many to meet the sun, was his now, freely his. He had only himself left to give in return. He had them both undressed in seconds.
She leaned into him, maneuvering him to lie back, her kisses coaxing him into compliance. When he was lying flat on the bed she raised her head to look at him. He was the stuff of dreams in his perfection, and by some unbelievingly lucky twist of fate, he was hers, and he would love her until time was forgotten, just as he did now.
She reached down and found his hardened cock waiting for her. She felt it quiver under her touch and when she saw Eric close his eyes briefly she felt a tiny ripple in her stomach as he absorbed the feeling.
She stared into his eyes as she held his erection and guided herself onto him. As always, the sensation of him filling her, momentarily took her breath away. "Will you still, feel this good?" she asked between shallow breaths.
"More intense," he answered with a beautiful smile.
"Not possible," she gasped as she took the last of him.
"You will discover many new possibilities, my lover." He sat up and lowered his mouth to her breast. He held her back as she arched and moaned as his tongue danced circles around her hardened nipple.
She rocked gently against him, slowly savoring the feeling of him moving inside her as he lapped and sucked eagerly at her breast. She ran her hands down his back and back up again. How could anyone call him undead? Every muscle, every sinew in his body was alive with desire and the need to give pleasure.
She entwined her fingers in his hair and pulled him backward, disengaging him from her breast and pushing him back to the bed. She sat up and leaned back slightly as she began to rise and fall on him with more urgency, drawing in a sharp breath with each impact of their joined flesh. No, he had to be mistaken. It was too long ago for him. He didn't remember. Nothing could be more intense than this.
Of course, having thought that, he immediately proved her wrong. She felt his hand on her stomach, inching her backward. When her curiosity caused her to slow her other movements, he quickly placed his free hand on her hip and brought her back to the previous pace they had both been enjoying immensely.
He continued pushing her backward until she had to put her hands behind her on the bed to keep from falling. From this position, even his smallest movement inside her caused shudders of pleasure to surge through her in torrents, turning her leg muscles into rippling lines of jelly, too weak to maintain their work.
He held her hips and increased his action beneath her. She screamed his name as her moaning melted into a rhapsody of impassioned cries.
When he had reached his own release, he pulled her beside him and held her as she recovered. He ran his fingers through her hair, and smiled at the sight before him. She was never lovelier to him than when she was like this, overcome with the pleasure he had given her.
Eric took her hand in his and brushed his lips along her arm as he raised it and brought it to rest over her head. "Do you trust me?" he whispered into her ear.
"Yes," she replied weakly.
"Trust that I love you."
"Yes, my love?"
"Kiss me," she said softly.
He complied at once, engulfing her mouth in a full, all encompassing kiss. Never had she tasted more sweet than she did in this moment. He gently pulled her free hand from his hair and brought it to his chin. As his lips left hers and he kissed her hand, she murmured, "It's alright, my darling, I'm not afraid."
Of course that wasn't true. He could feel her fear. But he gave her the lie. It was so little to ask. He raised her hand so he was now holding both her hands just over her head, then dropped his free hand between her legs and began softly caressing her slick, swollen flesh. Her second orgasm would come quickly.
Her moans were already coming deeper and faster in the short time it took his tongue to find her carotid artery. A jolt ran through her as he pierced her neck. He closed his eyes and told himself it was only the usual sting of his fangs which caused it.
He took a deep draw and felt her fingers tighten on his hand. "I love you," she managed almost incoherently. Her fear now mingled with her heightening pleasure so they were inseparable.
Several light sucks before another long. Her leg twitched and one hand tugged slightly at his grip. 'It's because she's so hyper-aroused', his mind reasoned, but he knew better. She was beginning to weaken, her body was instinctually beginning to try and fight back.
He quickened pace of his fingers on her clit and casually slung a leg over both of hers. He felt her alarm rising as brought her to climax. She tried to pull a leg away and he tightened his hold on both her legs and her hands. His body pinned her helplessly to the bed. She screamed as a second violent orgasm threw her body into uncontrolled spasms, Eric sucked. 'It's her release!' his thoughts vehemently insisted. 'She always screams. It isn't me taking her life.'
Two more deep draws and only involuntary movement remained. He squeezed his closed eyes as tightly as he could and continued. He released his holds and she fell limp beneath him. His hands came to support her neck as he finished the deed.
When he finally retracted his fangs, he could not bring himself to open his eyes. He lay his head over Sookie's left breast and let the last mouthful of her blood drip from his mouth as he listened to the echo in her chest. 'The faint heartbeat was too shallow,' he thought in a panic. 'I withdrew too late! She won't survive.' He straddled her on all fours as tears of blood began streaming from his still closed eyes into rills along her side and pooling in the sheets. Compressions wouldn't help. She didn't have enough blood for that. Calm down Eric. Listen again.
When he had listened long enough to be convinced beyond doubt he had indeed properly drained her, he summoned the courage to open his eyes and confront what he dreaded most.
He'd thought about it and played it over in his mind a million times for months and months. He had practiced positioning his fangs at different angles on a string of donors to determine which angle afforded him the optimum drawing ability. Of course all he did was verify that he was capable of being every bit the quick and proficient killer he'd always believed himself to be. So why had it seemed to take so long? He was certain he had killed in half the time before.
He hadn't wanted to hurt her. He hadn't wanted her to be afraid. That was the difference. The thing which had made every second stretch into torturous spans of time, making her brief but futile struggle against him seem to take hours.
He moved his gaze upward and looked at her face. He was greeted by what he knew would be there. Behind her now glassy stare it was clear, terror. Before she had succumbed to the mercy of oblivion she had been terrified … of death … of him.
He closed her eyes. He could bear their recriminations no longer. He pulled her up and slipped behind her. He cradled her lovingly in one arm as he opened the wrist of his other and held it over her slightly open mouth.
He stared blankly at the dripping wound on his wrist and watched as his blood slowly trickled into her mouth. Every time it would begin to heal he would bite again, each time more viciously than the last. He ripped and tore at his own flesh. He wanted it to hurt. He deserved the pain. He wanted to suffer as he had made her suffer. He sat repeating the cycle, and waiting.
It was Nevada all over again. He had heard her scream. He had thought James killed her. The waiting for word of her. The waiting until he heard her voice on the phone. The waiting for … there it was … at last … his blood more than simply flowed into her, she swallowed. He closed his eyes and waited for her to do it again. It was extremely weak and involuntary, but she had done it. It was alright now. He could relax. All which remained now was to wait for her to wake from her sleep. Tomorrow, or perhaps the evening after, and she would be his forever.
Eric hugged Sookie's cool limp body and held her close, burying his face in her hair. "Soon, my love," he whispered and kissed her.
He laid her carefully on the bed and covered her. He took a pillow and went into the bathroom. He put the pillow into the tub and ran a warm, shallow bath, then got Sookie and put her into the tub with her head propped up on the pillow to keep her from drowning.
He put on a pair of black silk pajama pants and matching bathrobe. He stripped their bed and threw the bloody bedding into a pile near the door before going into the main living area of the house.
Ausra was alone. Sitting on a sofa, her hands folded in her lap. When she saw Eric she stood and nodded.
"Have Oliver and Mina returned?"
"I see. Go and rest well. You will be needed tomorrow."
"Do you have my instructions?"
"You are to keep watch over your Mistress' door from noon until sundown. If any save Mina should try to enter, kill them."
Ausra didn't flinch. She took her instructions as if they were perfectly reasonable and normal. "Yes, Your Majesty," she replied. "If you will excuse me." She nodded again and went to her room to go to sleep.
Eric went back into the bedroom, got his cell, and called Oliver. "Bring me a microwave oven, a case of True Blood, a dozen of those Taste of Louisiana boxes and three donors who can give me up to three days -- and bring Mina -- are you questioning my rights? -- send Mina now and follow as soon as you have the other things I require. He closed the phone, propped the bedroom door open and went to check on Sookie. He took off his robe and knelt by the tub to wash the blood from her hair. When her hair was clean, he gently washed her body then drained the tub. As he was running fresh water, Mina entered the bedroom.
"Master?" she called tentatively as she entered and saw the pile of bloodied linens on the floor.
Eric turned the water off and went into the bedroom not bothering to put his robe back on. He had more important concerns.
"Go change your clothes," he said to her. "That is a beautiful gown. I would not wish you to stain it."
"Yes, Master," she answered.
She turned to leave. She was obedient. She was clearly apprehensive, but she was prepared to do whatever Eric told her to do. "Mina," he called.
"Yes?" There was a slight tremble in her voice. It was obvious she thought she would be asked to give herself to him, for feeding … or more. She didn't want to, she loved Oliver, but she would obey.
"Do not fear me. You were a gift to Oliver and you are very dear to my beloved Queen. Trust I would not dishonor her by taking that which she has given to another."
She exhaled heavily and a hand reflexively went to her stomach in her relief. "Thank you, Master," she said softly.
"I call upon you to serve your Queen. She has chosen to rule at my side for eternity and now she sleeps. I am entrusting you with her comfort. If you would see to the bed and remove those things." he indicated the pile of bedding. "But do change first."
By the time Mina was changed and on her way back to Eric, Oliver was coming in the front door with a stack of boxes and a microwave piled on a dolly. He met Mina's eyes and quickly looked away.
"No, Oliver, it's alright," she assured him, running to put a hand on his arm. "He only wants me to see to the Queen."
Oliver was visibly relieved. "So he has turned her?"
"I haven't seen her, but I think so, yes."
"Can you not gossip and move at the same time?" Eric questioned from the bedroom doorway. "I can promise you, your curiosities will be quelled much faster if you address your questions to me."
"I beg your forgiveness, Your Majesty," Oliver said with as much dignity as he could muster. "For Mina as well."
"I have no time to listen to you beg for anything," Eric barked. "There are scarce two hours before sunrise. My Queen has chosen to join me in the half life. Even now she is in her death sleep. Her chamber must be readied for her awakening.
From this moment, no one save myself and Mina may enter My Lady's chamber, until she emerges. Where are the donors?"
"I had a car take them to their homes to retrieve clothes for a 3 night stay. When they return, the concierge has been instructed to see to their accommodations until they can be fetched at sundown tomorrow."
"Very well. Here. I'll take that." Eric took the dolly from Oliver.
"If I may, Your Majesty, does it appear my Mistress will make the transition without difficulty?"
Eric turned back to Oliver and paused before speaking. "Your Mistress is an extraordinary woman, Oliver. I do not doubt she will be an extraordinary vampire who will rule our hearts and lands for millennia." He turned back to the bedroom. "Come Mina."
Eric dried Sookie and dressed her in a long, sea foam green, satin vintage night gown before tucking her into bed as if she were only napping. The matching satin and brocade peignoir was carefully arranged on a chair beside the bed.
Mina was given the keypad code for the door and instructed to check on Sookie at least once every hour during daylight hours and watch for changes. Mina should not be able to detect breathing or pulse. At this stage, only particularly sensitive medical instruments or vampires would be able to do that. In extremely rare cases a new vampire would try to rise during the day. The results were usually disastrous. If Mina saw any sign of life, she was to get out of the room immediately and lock the door. The shielded room should be strong enough to contain Sookie if that happened.
Barring that, Mina was simply checking to make sure Sookie remained properly covered and keep her hair straight. She looked like a life-sized doll lying there and for whatever reason, Eric wanted her to stay that way. Mostly he just wanted the reassurance someone was looking after her as he slept. He would assume full responsibility for her care when he arose.
The next twenty-four hours passed excruciatingly slowly for everyone on the top floor of Valhalla. Ausra, in her black dress armor and fully armed, stood to the side of the bedroom entrance all afternoon. Every time anyone but Mina violated her definition of too close, she stepped in front of the door and put her hands on her weapons. No one was left in any doubt of her willingness to carry out her orders.
At sunset, once he saw Sookie was not going to rise immediately, Eric stepped out and relieved Ausra of her duties for the evening. He cancelled all his business appointments and had the donors brought up to the apartment and installed in guest rooms. He waited at Sookie's side until sunrise.
She couldn't breathe. She couldn't make the air come. She was choking, no, there was nothing in her mouth, but, but there was something, it, she was blindfolded. Why? Where was she? It wasn't hot yet she could feel the space around her, as if she were standing in the middle of a fog bank or a particularly hot afternoon in New Orleans when the air was thick and salty. Eric was near, she could feel his presence. She couldn't hear him, but he was calling to her. He was summoning her. He was, no, no not Eric, sleep, sleep was calling her, compelling her. But Eric was near. She could almost touch him.
Sunset Monday when Eric opened his eyes he found himself alone in the bed. He jumped up and looked around wildly, his eyes finally coming to rest on Sookie. She was standing at the window staring out into the night sky. "I can see so much further," she said as she turned to look at him. Seeing the look on his face, she laughed.
He had never heard a more beautiful sound.
"I've startled you, my darling." In an instant she was in front of him with a hand on his cheek. In her other she held a bottle of True Blood. She looked at the bottle. "I never thought to ask anyone how long to microwave the Taste of Louisiana bags. I knew how to warm this, but you were right. I don't know how anyone drinks this. It's awful."
Eric let loose a hearty laugh and pulled her close to him. "Let me call for something more appetizing. You must feed. We have donors waiting for you, Dearest."
"You see, I'm still causing you trouble."
Eric took the bottle of True Blood from her and sat it on a dresser. He took her hands in his and looked into her eyes. "My eternal love, you are glorious."
I have resisted using author's notes throughout writing Need, but here at the end I feel obliged to share some things with you.
I have been truly overwhelmed by the response I've gotten to Need. All the reviews, comments, alerts and PMs have meant more to me than you can possibly imagine. I am a very moody individual and there have been many mornings when I've gotten up in a dreadfully morose mood, only to be buoyed by finding something so endearing and heartwarming in my inbox my mood couldn't help but be raised. I can't thank you enough for all you have given me. I feel absolutely certain the gifts of your words to me have far outweighed any small pleasure I may have been able to impart to you with my meager scribbling. You have blessed me.
In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I must tell you the ending you just read was not my original plan. Originally I had planned for James to hit Sookie with his car and then skid into a tree with a branch coming through the windshield and staking him. His cell phone would have fallen somewhere close to where Sookie lay dying, so Eric (standing in Nevada, having just killed Felipe) would be able to hear everything going on, but far enough away that Saule, Ausra or Sookie would not have been able to hear him. He would hear them trying to save Sookie's life. He would hear them fail. He would hear Sookie regain consciousness long enough to scream his name before she died.
This would drive him to the edge of madness as he planned a beautiful funeral for her, to be held on a beautiful early summer day in the sunlight she was so loathe to leave. The funeral would be held and at an appointed time, the casket would be ceremoniously opened for people to pay their final respects. Of course when they opened the casket, Eric would be inside with her so he could meet the sun and spend eternity with his love.
I still prefer that ending, but I was assured by multiple sources that killing Eric was simply not an option anyone but me could live with … and if I killed Eric, my own life may be in danger. At least virtually. LOL
So I will take a few weeks off now from writing a chapter story and perhaps, if I think of anything I find interesting I will write a sequel and call it Beyond Need about their lives together as vampires.
Also, I've never given links to any of the songs I referenced in Need. I always figured that if anyone wasn't familiar with the song and they were curious, they could simply go to YouTube or some other place on the web and find it. The song I used in this last chapter for Sookie's last human waltz, "Tenterfield Saddler" is a song by the late Peter Allen. It was written the after his father committed suicide. Tenterfield is the small town in Australia his family is from. His grandfather George made saddles, thus the name of the song.
I don't know about other places, but at YouTube it's difficult to find a good copy of the song. The link below is the best I could find. It actually has the song twice, back to back. First is Hugh Jackman (who played Peter Allen in the musical play The Boy From Oz) As Hugh Jackson sings, you see pictures of Peter Allen's life. The second version is Peter Allen singing as you see pictures of Hugh Jackman portraying Peter Allen in the play.
I felt obliged to tell you about it because it's a song I dearly love and it's so hauntingly beautiful I wanted to share it with you.
Here is a link to the lyrics.
*kisses and hugs*
I love you all.