“Tucker Wayne Campbell, and I was twelve,” Sookie recalled with a bittersweet smile. “He did it on a dare, and I knew it but I was curious and he was cute.”
“So you kissed him anyway?” Eric lifted the corner of his mouth.
“I had to kiss a boy sometime,” Sookie shrugged.
“How was it?”
“He had horrible breath,” Sookie said and Eric laughed loudly. “It’s not funny!”
“It just seems perhaps you were evenly matched,” he said, and Sookie slapped his arm.
“I do not have horrible breath!”
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Eric said, and explained, “He assumed you were crazy so it would make you a bad kisser. The tradeoff for kissing a cute boy was that he had bad breath.”
Sookie rolled her eyes and said, “It couldn’t have been that bad for him. He kissed me a second time but didn’t want anyone to know about it.”
“Fool,” Eric shook his head.
“Thank you,” she smiled. “He’s married now. Got four kids, I think. Do you remember the first girl you kissed?”
Eric had to think way, way back in time to dig out that memory, but he found it.
“Yes, I do. Her name was Mær. She was the eldest daughter of a local fishmonger. She had the most amazing hair I had ever seen at the age of twelve. It was fiery red with natural wheat blonde streaks in it, and every summer those streaks turned almost white in the sunshine. She had milky white skin that never seemed to brown no matter how many hours she spent outdoors. We knew one another, of course, having grown up in the same village. I was down by the creek on a warmer summer day, bathing myself there as most did when the weather allowed for it.
“Nudity has never been an issue for me, and wasn’t even then. We swam together for a bit in the creek, and then got out to dress ourselves again. I plucked a wildflower for her to weave into her braid and she kissed me for my kindness. Her lips tasted like berries and honey, if I remember right,” Eric recalled with a smile.
“Did you love her?” Sookie asked.
“No,” he laughed. “No, I kissed a great many women before I was turned and I didn’t love a single one of them.”
“Were you married before you were turned?”
“I was too busy in battle for marriage,” Eric said. “After my father’s death I had to step up to lead my people. It was my birthright, but I also felt it was necessary to honor my father’s memory. I owed him vengeance for his murder, and the best way to seek it was by heading up an army of my own. So that’s what I did. Every land we raided I searched for my father’s killer.”
“What if you never find him?” Sookie asked pensively.
“Then I will go to my true death with regret,” Eric said, and Sookie knew by their bond that he meant it.
She smiled in attempt to lighten his suddenly dour mood and asked, “What if you’d met me when you were human?”
Eric chuckled and said, “I would have filled you with my child immediately.”
Sookie blushed. She should have known better.
“You would look marvelous round with child,” Eric told her. “And I would have made sure you birthed many.”
“I bet you would,” she shook her head, but then her smile faded. “Does it make you sad that you can’t have children? I mean, biologically speaking.”
“It would certainly be a challenge,” Eric nodded. “And at least the whining would be due to not knowing any better, unlike Pam just wanting to get her way,” he paused to laugh but then said, “I don’t think it would be wise to have a child, even if it was somehow medically possible for such a thing to happen. You see how my kind works. If I were to have a child it would just become a pawn that could be used against me.”
The waiter came with Sookie’s plate of pasta and a newly warmed bottle of Royalty Blend for Eric. She smiled and thanked the waiter before picking up her fork to stir the steaming pasta around a bit.
“What about you? Have you never wanted children?” Eric asked her.
Sookie carefully considered her answer before she said, “It’s not that I would be opposed to being a mother, necessarily, but I have a whole list of reasons why having kids probably wouldn’t be the best idea.”
“Such as?” Eric looked at her curiously.
Sookie began to twirl her fork in her past as she said, “Well, because of my abilities, for one. I know how hard it is to grow up with that, and while I could help my children learn to cope with it, I don’t know that I would want them to have to. I wouldn’t want my kids to feel like outsiders the way I always have. Then there’s my… other family,” Sookie lifted her eyebrows, and Eric nodded at her. “Claudine seems real nice so far, but what if that’s all just an act or something? I don’t know enough about where I come from to really bring another generation into the world. Then there’s vampires. Now obviously we’re bonded, which means I’m fairly certain you wouldn’t much approve of me carrying another man’s baby, and unless there’s some big medical breakthrough that would make it possible, I couldn’t have your child even if you wanted me to. But mostly, it’s just too dangerous. Like you said, if you had a child it could be used as a pawn, and if you think I’m protective now of the people I love, imagine how much worse it would be if I had a baby.”
“Sometimes I think we might be cut from the same cloth after all,” Eric leaned over to kiss her temple.
Sookie took a bite of her pasta and chewed thoughtfully. When she swallowed she continued, “If I’m being completely honest, I do think the expression on your face would be hilarious if I got pregnant. I can’t imagine you volunteering for diaper duty.”
“At least you would have someone willing to stay up with the child overnight,” Eric smirked at her. “I hear that is something human couples frequently argue over.”
“Your parents never did?” Sookie asked.
“Women took care of the infants and children,” Eric recalled. “The men were too busy working, fighting or the like to have much time for swaddling infants. As soon as I could walk my father had a wooden sword in my hand, teaching me to fight.”
“Awww…” Sookie gushed, imagining a blond toddler stumbling around with a wooden sword in his hands, challenging his other toys to a fight.
“It was serious business,” Eric told her. “Everything was so advanced back then. Life expectancies back then aren’t what they are now, so life went quickly. By social standards at that time, I should have been married by the time I was fourteen. By the time I was turned in my early twenties, I should have been a father many times over and teaching my sons to someday take my place.”
“If you could go back and do it over again, would you?” Sookie asked.
“You mean get married and have a family of my own?” he asked and she nodded. “I don’t know. I’ve thought about it a time or two, but if I had done that there would be no guarantee that I would be here now. All of my choices fell into line to bring me here, right now to this restaurant so I could listen to you make those delicious noises while you eat.”
Sookie blushed again and said, “I’m not making noises.”
“Oh, but you are,” he leaned closer to her and whispered in her ear, “They’re very close to the sounds you make while I’m fucking you.”
Sookie nearly choked on her mouthful of pasta, and quickly reached for her glass of water. Eric straightened up a bit, feeling as if he’d accomplished his mission. But of course, two could play at that game. To that end, Sookie intentionally made her moans of appreciation a little louder, and she knew it was feeding the lust that was steadily building in the bond. When she was finished eating, she suggested they go dance, and Eric was more than willing to oblige her.
Their bodies fit together perfectly as they started to move around the dance floor. The restaurant they were in was owned by another vampire in Eric’s retinue, and there were several vampire customers patronizing the establishment that evening. It didn’t take long for Eric to notice that the vampires in the room were all watching Sookie. No doubt they had all caught her scent, and were probably curious about the extra hint of sweetness she carried, but then his scent had married with hers. They were entwined in so many ways.
“You’re a good dancer,” Sookie said, looking up into his eyes.
“Thank you,” he smiled at her. “I took lessons in Paris during the nineteenth century.”
“You did?” Sookie’s jaw fell open.
“Pam’s idea,” Eric said. “It was a good way to meet meals.”
Sookie snickered and shook her head.
“That Pam sure is resourceful,” she said, and Eric laughed quietly.
“It’s one of the reasons I turned her,” he admitted.
“How old is Pam?” Sookie asked. “Am I allowed to ask that?”
“I thought a lady never told her age,” Eric teased, but then continued, “Pam is just over a hundred years old.”
“That’s it?” Sookie was surprised.
“That’s it,” he nodded.
“Wow. I thought she was older for some reason,” Sookie said, and lay her head on Eric’s chest.
“She acts much younger than her years, I’m afraid.”
“Pam’s not so bad,” Sookie said quietly. “Sure she flirts with me a little too much sometimes, but she did good with this dress.”
That was very true. Pam had done extremely well with her task. Sookie was once again dressed in red material, only this time it was silk, and hugging her curves. Black satin ribbon ran under the bust of the dress and there was a hint of ruffling at the hem of the skirt. The neckline of the dress was square, and the lingerie Pam had selected to go underneath the dress had Sookie’s breasts looking fuller and perkier than they usually did. The shoes weren’t quite Sookie’s taste, but Pam was nothing if not a shoe whore. Eric liked them and thought they complimented the outfit nicely.
They danced until Sookie decided she’d had enough. Eric paid the bill for dinner and Sookie took her leftovers along with her when they left. As always, he opened the car door for her before she got in, and then hustled around to the other side of the car. He got in behind the wheel, and they were peeling out of the parking lot when he asked Sookie what she wanted to do next.
“It might be nice to be outside for a while,” she suggested. “I’ve been indoors a lot lately, or at least it feels like I have.”
Eric was glad to hear her say that. He had an idea.