Late November 2012

Upstairs on the roof.

I had written the note on the printed lab results that I'd left taped to the bedroom door.

It had taken fourteen months from when I was shot to completely clear the silver in my blood. The detectable value had finally, at long last, fallen so low that it did not register for two successive months. Erring on the side of caution, Eric had said that if there was really any silver detectable at all, that he didn't want my blood. He was worried about becoming ill or weak from even trace amounts. It would be irresponsible to have taken my blood knowing there was still detectable silver, he told me, considering the safety of everyone else in his service depended upon his appearing to be unassailable. I had only to look on Sophie-Anne's fate as a reminder as to why this was true. He had, in fact, made a great point of trying to appear as robust as possible in all public appearances for the past year, in case anyone thought that my having been poisoned with silver had affected him. But it had been a peaceful year that was coming to a close. Louisiana was at long last a peaceful state. In the past fourteen months Dani and Rasul had ironed out all the kinks in Area 2 and Dani was now managing multiple successful businesses, including several all night stores that also had restaurants, and several ventures that catered to the night owl students in Baton Rouge. She had also set up a very successful lecture transcription and video conferencing service for students at LSU who could not attend daytime classes but needed the coursework for completion of their degrees. It was a subject near and dear to her heart considering how long it had taken her to obtain her MBA. So Dani and Rasul were happy in their new position and Eric was delighted with their success as husband and wife Sheriffs. It was absolutely unique and in fact they were the only dual Sheriff team in the US. Surely, I told Eric, one thing he could be certain of was that he would never doubt Dani's calling it as she saw it on any issue. She had a gift for cutting the fine line between frankness and getting herself in deep trouble for being so honest that it made you wince.

At 4:40 am, Eric appeared on the roof. He'd changed out of his suit and was in jeans and a black t-shirt. He looked caught off-guard when he saw me. It was slightly warm for November, actually, but he hadn't expected me to look as I did.

I was sitting in the lounge chair, reading with the aid of my book light. I was dressed in a dark red cocktail dress that had a low and rather wide v-neck that showed so much cleavage it could only be described as the very outer edges of good taste. It was slightly above knee length and I wore a pair of new shoes, red sandals with four inch heels. I'd stashed the flats I'd worn to climb to the roof under the chair. My hair, though just shoulder length, was pinned up with a pretty hair clip. The charcoal gray shawl that I had worn in case I got cold was loose around my shoulders. I had a little bit of makeup on, but no perfume. I was sipping champagne and shivering slightly with the cool air.

"It appears I am underdressed," he said.

"You look fine to me," I replied with a smile. "Maybe better than fine."

Planting my feet firmly on the floor, I rose and balanced in the heels as he moved to my side, steadying me.

"It also appears that you're celebrating," he said with a smile, his eyes lighting on the champagne flute and then moving very thoroughly over the dress and heels.

"I haven't started celebrating yet. I can't celebrate without you."

He managed to drag his eyes back up to meet mine after just a few seconds.

"New dress?" he said with a very big smile.

"Yes, just for you. It isn't too trashy is it?"

His eyes moved back down over it and me. He stepped back slightly and looked at me from the feet on up, lingering at the low cut neckline.

"It's… absolutely perfect," he said, looking me right in the eyes. He walked around me and brushed a cool finger from my shoulder down to my elbow. "Does it have a zipper?" he asked me playfully, eyes aglow, as he leaned over and brushed his lips on my forehead.

I laughed and raised my left arm so he could see the side zipper more easily. He caught my wrist and hand in his and brought my hand to his lips. He then pulled me closer to him and, pressing me against himself, kissed me until I thought I couldn't breathe anymore. He seemed about as stirred up as I was, if the contours I felt pressing against me were a good indication of things. He sighed heavily.

"Mrs. Northman."

I smiled as I rubbed my forehead against his jaw. Laughing softly I replied,

"Mmmm? Yes, Mr. Northman?"

"I realize that you appear to have gone to some trouble to arrange something up here and that perhaps you even wished to dance up here. Unfortunately, we must…" he cleared his throat, "go downstairs."

I pulled away from him slightly and blinked, kind of surprised.

"Why?" I said softly.

"We need privacy. And I would prefer not to waste any of my energy achieving it on Andor," he said dryly, nodding his head slightly in the direction of the stairs.

I peered around him and Andor smiled and waved to me from the stairway door. Omigod, Andor could be so annoying at times! I should have put in the note that I wanted him to tell Andor not to come up the way he did sometimes. He'd never leave now that he was here. Both from the standpoint of Eric's safety and from the teasing relationship he and Eric had with one another. Really, I was sure given Amelia's warding of the roof in great detail, that it was mostly the latter that would keep Andor on the roof.

"Oh," I said, in a flat tone. "I see."

We could dance in the library, then. I picked up my book and my champagne flute. He took the glass from my hand and then picked up my right hand in his left and we walked toward the stairs. Andor snorted softly after looking at me and then looking over Eric, but swept aside at the doorway. Eric went down the stairs ahead of me, turning to steady me in the precarious heels. Once on the third floor, as I walked past him I saw him turn and, lightning fast, take a swing at Andor, who'd seemed to be examining my new dress with a little too much care for Eric's liking. Andor dodged the swipe with a chortle and made a very amused face at Eric but smiled at me when he saw me looking at the two of them.

"You look very nice, Sookie," Andor said, nodding to me and then bowing his head so that Eric couldn't question his appropriateness. The grin on his face showed that he was having an immense amount of fun, however.

Eric and I walked toward our rooms with his arm around my waist. Once inside, he disappeared and started my Diana Krall CD mix on the audio system in my dayroom, so that the music drifted into the library. I'd been on a Diana Krall kick for several weeks. He was back and tossed my shawl on his desk. He took me in his arms and we danced silently to The Look of Love. He spun me around to the strains of So Nice and Where or When. As he held me close again with I've Got You Under My Skin, I felt the zipper unzip and a cool hand slipped around my waist inside the dress.

"Fast work, Mr. Northman…" I murmured.

"I'm going slowly out of consideration, Mrs. Northman. I don't want any allegations of being mauled."

"Had those before, have you?"

He leaned away from me and looked down at me with a dark look and a raised eyebrow. Then he broke into a playful smile as he kissed me and miraculously undid my bra strap all at once. Another few minutes of dancing and we were moving on to a very different dance in a different room. The dress was off and surprisingly even the shoes were off and I was happy and filled with anticipation. Ten minutes later, I was still filled with anticipation.

"What's wrong?" he murmured nuzzling my ear. "You are being so quiet and you still haven't come."

"Are you going to bite me or not, Eric?"

I leaned back to look at his face in the flickering candlelight. He smiled at me, not showing me even a millimeter of teeth.

With his hands tangled in my hair he pulled my face closer and kissed me. I tasted his blood. He'd bitten or at least scored, into his tongue with his fangs. He pulled away and then whispered in my ear,

"Where do you want me to bite you first?" in a husky voice.

I shivered in anticipation. Okay. He wanted me to want to be bitten. He'd teased me so many times about the fact that I thought I was messed up for liking being bitten and for missing it so much. Fine, I'd say it. I wanted him to bite me.

"Anywhere… just…" I let out a quiet gasp and closed my eyes. "Just bite me already, because you're driving me crazy, Eric."

"Crazy? Really?"

I groaned and opened my eyes to see him smile even wider, now with some serious fangs. He rocked me back onto the bed and seemed to just float above me, his eyes taking in mine hungrily. I could still hear Diana Krall singing Just the Way You Are off in the distance. He pulled a pillow under my head and shoulders and then kissed me again as he slowly pulled himself out of me, kissing my throat, grazing my neck with his fangs, then moving down my sternum and doing the same with my breasts. By the time he'd gotten down to my inner thighs after lingering in nearby locations for an absolutely maddening amount of time, I thought I was going to just expire. He laced the fingers of my hand into his as his other hand held my thigh open.

"Don't close your eyes," he whispered. "Watch me bite you."

I kept my eyes open as long as I could but was just swept away on the pleasure of it. He moaned softly enjoying it himself until I felt almost lightheaded and he stopped, sealing up the wound quickly and, with a tug on my hand, pulling me up to sitting. He kissed me, climbed back into the bed and then shifted us onto our sides and we resumed. After a while he shifted so that we were sitting as before, with me in his lap and my legs curved around his hips. Brushing my hair, which had mostly come loose, out of his way he kissed and then bit my neck and then kissed me passionately, letting me taste my blood, and his, all mixed, until I could hardly even breathe. Then he whispered,

"Bite my neck? Mmmm?" He offered me his neck, turning his head to the side.

"You want me to have more?" I said softly.

"I want to feel me, inside you, everywhere… everywhere," he whispered, holding my face in his hands and guiding me to his throat.

I bit and he gasped with the pleasure of it, his hands on my breasts. His pleasure just reverberated in me. His thick, sweet blood flowed slowly and then the skin began to heal quickly. I kissed the spot and stroked my finger over it when the skin was smooth. I glanced up at him and saw him looking down at me with still glowing, but gentle eyes. He looked so happy. He rocked me back into the pillows and started thrusting into me until we were both crying out. For a long time he was just heavy on top of me and I brushed my fingers through his hair as I savored the familiarity of the lingering taste of his blood in my mouth. He finally sat up and patched up my thigh and my neck, then rolled onto his back, pulling me partially on top of him as he did so. He pulled the clip out of my hair and stroked the hair out onto my neck and lightly near my shoulders. It was slowly growing back out and was thicker than it had been. He raised my hand to his lips and then said, with a wry tone,

"Consider yourself bitten."

I burst out laughing and then we both laughed happily.

We lay there in the dark before the dawn, and he gently stroked my thigh, which was lying across his hips and thigh. Rosie finally jumped up on the bed and planted herself in the middle of my pillows, purring loudly and evidently quite happy that all the ruckus on the bed was over for the night.

"I hope you won't mind my telling I told you so," he said softly.

"Sure. Tell me," I said, kissing his shoulder where my head rested on it.

He rocked his hips into mine and said,

"I told you so, tvivlande kvinna."

"What does tvivlande mean?"

"Doubting, skeptical, disbelieving?" he said, tickling my thigh.

"Well then, I think you're crossing the line a bit on the 'I told you so thing'," I replied in a sleepy murmur.

"Easy for you to say, when you're not the one being doubted."

"Hard for me to say, since I've never given you a reason to doubt me," I said.

"Oh, really? Let's not even start comparing notes or you will embarrass yourself. I've never given you a reason to doubt me, ever, Sookie Northman."

I hesitated, thinking back to spending about two months in an apartment with Jamie and trying to maintain our cover. I should get a pass on that but there was that whole photo business and shutting him out so he wouldn't feel how freaked out I was. And not telling him what Hunter had told me about being in Lafayette. Not telling him about nightmares. Or that Hunter would come and live with us. And there was the whole running away thing. Plus, a few other occasions of not exactly having been straight with him. Okay, I was going to shut up.

"Ha!" said Eric, sensing my defeat and almost quaking with laughter. "At least you're silent when you're called on it. A rare moment in life with Mrs. Northman when she backs down. I'm making a mental note. I have to tell Andor and Pam."

"I'm going to sleep now," I announced, trying not to laugh.

"Ja, ja. How convenient." After a moment's pause, he said, "You have the doctor's appointment tomorrow in the afternoon, right?"

"Yes. Bert's picking me up so no worries on the bodyguard thing since Harry's away. I told Jamie I'd just stay with Bert until Toussaint and Cadel can come. Amelia says they'll do the history and a couple of blood tests for both of us. No injections and stuff yet."

"You're going to be okay with doing this for them?"

"I am, don't worry. After I mentioned it to Bert last year, I've thought about it. I really want to do it for Amelia. It's the right thing to do."

His arm tightened a bit around my shoulders, almost protectively, and he stroked my leg again.

"I'm not so sure it will be the easy thing to do, though, especially if it works and you see them raising your child, Sookie."

"But that's the thing, Eric. It won't be my child. It will be theirs. And I'm fine with it. Are you sure you're going to be alright with it?"

He sighed a bit.

"It makes me feel odd to think of a child that is half yours and half some other man's. But it is your gift to give and I understand why you give it. If you are content with the arrangement, I am content, Lover."

"Good," I said in a whisper. I wrapped my arm around his and sighed contentedly. In the distance, I could hear the Diana Krall disc finish and hear my favorite Wilco song, You and I, start playing.

"What do you want for your anniversary present this year?" he asked quietly after a minute or two. "It's only a month from now."

"Another year like this one? Peace and quiet. Jason's son being born healthy."

"I was thinking more like travel or jewelry. You know, stuff I can control?" he said with a snort.

"I've traveled enough this year with my two trips with Alla. And I have enough jewelry. How's about we ask Bert how to make the roof even safer so that we can dance up there in peace. That would be a gift."

Eric rumbled with laughter. He glanced over at the nightstand and blew out the candles.

"Lover, you never want the easy things, do you? As if Andor would actually trust Bert to protect the roof… He doesn't even trust that Amelia has properly warded the roof, but Bert?" he said shaking his head. "We can try. And maybe we can put up some sort of a privacy screen, so that…"

I elbowed him, but he said softly,

"It's my anniversary, too."

"En hemsk man."

"It is gratifying that your Swedish is improving."

"If only your penchant for teasing me would improve, Eric."

"It's very hard to teach an old vampire new tricks."

I groaned.

We went on talking in the dark, until dawn, the way we always did...

Next up: The Darkest Hour and The Gravity of Love, then the conclusion of this series.