They stopped at Eric’s house long enough for Sookie to put her leftovers into the fridge and abandon the shoes Pam had purchased to go with her outfit. Eric found a spare blanket in a hall closet and handed to Sookie.
“What’s this for?” she asked.
“We’re going to fly and you might get cold in that dress,” he said.
“We need to go back to the penthouse to get my clothes. We also need food. I can’t live on nothing but fresh fruit for long,” she told him.
“I’ll make sure there is food for you in the morning,” Eric assured her. “We’ll deal with the clothing issue after sunset. Unless, of course, I can persuade you to adopt a nudist lifestyle. That would be preferable.”
“Don’t hold your breath, Vampire,” Sookie snickered.
“I’m prepared to put up a very convincing argument,” he told her as he led Sookie outside.
She unfolded the blanket and wrapped around herself before Eric scooped her up, and launched into the air. If only airplanes were as smooth as he was she might not panic when she flew. They had been airborne for five minutes before Sookie asked where they were going.
“If we had more time before dawn I would take you back to that lake in Texas, but we have maybe two hours before we need to return home,” he told her. “There’s a lake not far from here that I thought you might enjoy.”
“No gators, right?”
“Not that I know of, but I promise not to let you become a meal for them,” Eric assured her.
“Good. I don’t think I would enjoy their bites the way I do yours,” she said, and nuzzled into him a little more.
The flight took another ten minutes or so, and then Eric landed softly and gracefully on a plush patch of grass. He set Sookie on her feet and she unwrapped the blanket from around herself. The lake was lovely and the moon wasn’t quite full so there was no reason to worry about werewolves stumbling upon them.
“You like being near water, don’t you?” Sookie asked as they started to walk.
“I do,” Eric admitted. “After crossing the Atlantic once or twice before the twentieth century I always shied away from large bodies of water for a while, but I always seem to find my way back to it.”
“Did anything scare you as a human?” Sookie asked since it was hard to imagine him being afraid of anything.
“Responsibility,” he answered without hesitation. “Now failure is my biggest fear.”
“What do you think your father would say about that?” Sookie looked up at Eric, and reached for his hand as they walked along the grass.
“He would probably be annoyed. He was always pushing me to live up to my potential, and I dodged it all for so long because I was lazy and foolish. Now it feels like all that time I took for granted is coming back to haunt me,” Eric said.
“You don’t think your father would be proud of the man you’ve become?”
“I think he would,” Eric nodded. “But I also think he would want me to take more of an offensive position than I have lately.”
“So why haven’t you?” Sookie asked.
“Because it’s foolish to launch an attack when it isn’t clear who the enemy is,” Eric explained.
“And now you know?”
“It’s becoming clearer. What I’m left wondering is whether or not Sophie-Anne and Russell are working together, or if they are two separate enemies. The queen alone isn’t much of a threat to me. Russell, on the other hand, is much more dangerous.”
“Because of his age?”
“That’s part of it. Mostly he’s dangerous because if he’s sponsoring the Nazi werewolves he must have powerful allies keeping watch for him to keep the Authority away,” Eric said.
“Or maybe someone in the Authority,” Sookie suggested.
“I suppose that’s possible,” he conceded. “It would explain the punishment of probation instead of a much more severe penalty.”
“What’s going to happen to Lorena? Will she be charged with anything?” she asked.
“For the kidnapping? That will be left to the queen. My credibility and standing are good with the Authority. I have given them no reason to find fault with me, but getting a charge of conspiracy to stick is easier if you’re a regent,” he explained. “And it’s unfortunate for Lorena if she was acting on her Maker’s order since blaming him would be considered a treasonous act.”
“Does that mean Bill would be charged with treason too?”
“Not against Russell. Lorena would face treason charges because she informed on her king, who also happens to be her Maker. Bill would be charged with treason for desecration of an asset belonging to a regent,” he told her.
“Y’all have a lot of laws,” Sookie smiled up at him.
“That we do,” he agreed.
They talked for a while longer about what Eric suspected would happen with Bill and Lorena until Sookie found a nice place to sit for a little while. She wrapped the blanket around herself again, and then sat in the space between Eric’s long, stretched out legs. It was comforting that Eric was being so open with her and answering her questions. He wasn’t getting annoyed or losing his patience with her the way Bill sometimes seemed to, nor did Eric bother to sugarcoat his answers. He made no excuses or apologies for the brutality of his world.
The way he figured it, he was doing Sookie no favors if he tried to paint vampires as harmless creatures. Besides, she wasn’t stupid. Sookie had witnessed some of the dark side, and she deserved to know that was just the tip of the iceberg if things ever got really bad.
“What if the Authority ever decides to take an interest in me? Will the bond keep them at bay?” Sookie asked.
“Sadly no. Should the Authority ever become a problem for you, your best defense is your fairy kin,” he told her.
Sookie smiled and said, “That applies to you now too, doesn’t it? Since you have fairy in you all on your own and I’ve taken you as a mate. Their protection should extend to you as well.”
That was an excellent point, but Eric wasn’t willing to bank the rest of his undead life on that possibility. He would much rather be prepared to deal with whatever came is way all in his own. Time had proven he was a warrior and a survivor. It just wasn’t in Eric’s nature to let someone else fight his battles.
“Perhaps, but I still plan to be prepared for anything that may come our way,” he said.
Eric felt Sookie’s sudden uneasiness in their bond and wondered what he had said that was wrong, or what had crossed her mind to make her feel that was. He didn’t ask since he knew she would talk about it when she was good and ready. But then as time passed, and silence along with it, her uneasiness grew.
“What’s bothering you, Sookie?” he asked, nuzzling against her warm neck.
She sighed and nuzzled back a little before she said, “I’m happy. For the first time since Gran died I feel completely safe again, even with what happened just last night. I trust you or I wouldn’t have agreed to finishing the bond. I don’t know what’s coming next, or if there’s a chance that maybe Bill is right and trusting you is a huge mistake, but right now I’m happy with my life and the choices I’ve made. But I’m also scared that it’s all going to disappear,” Sookie confessed, and shifted in Eric’s arms so she could look up into his face. “Because I do love you, Eric. I didn’t see it comin’ and God knows I didn’t plan it, but there it is. I love you.”
In the blink of an eye Sookie was trapped underneath him with his lips on hers. She let herself sink into the bond and all the things it offered her. This new feeling had been coming on slowly for a long time, and it wasn’t until the night before that she knew what it was. Sookie recalled very clearly lying in Eric’s arms with him stroking her hair, holding her like she was something precious. Even though she hadn’t been able to feel him then, the look in his eyes said it all; he had nearly lost something he loved very much. Contrary to what Bill would have her believe, she wasn’t just another of Eric’ whores. In fact, since Yvetta, she hadn’t seen his fangs go near any other woman but her.
Sookie hadn’t demanded that he stop feeding on other women. In fact, she was hesitant to admit they were in a personal relationship at all. She had tried to keep her distance from him because deep down she had known that once she got sucked into his world there would be no exit strategy that didn’t involve an undertaker. But there was no denying it anymore. She was in love with Eric Northman.
Piece by piece their clothes came off, and in spite of the chilly air, Sookie felt like she was on fire as Eric’s lips touched her skin. He somehow managed to be everywhere at once but still give Sookie the impression that she was being worshiped and not just devoured.
By the time their bodies finally joined Sookie was bordering on desperate to have Eric inside her. He was slow and gentle with her, whispering things in her ear about how beautiful she was and how much he loved her. If she hadn’t watched the transformation with her own two eyes, Sookie might have thought Eric was under a witch’s spell or something. But no, all of the things he said were backed up by the bond they shared.
Eric rolled onto his back and the blanket Sookie had been lying on remained half twisted under him and the other half fell from her shoulders to drape across his thighs while she rode him. Her hips rocked and she was breathing hard, on the cusp of another orgasm, when Eric sat up so they were eye to eye. His hands cupped her backside to help her keep her rhythm, and completely take over when the pleasure overwhelmed her.
And still, he carried on.
Before he was finished it felt like Eric had bent her into every position in the Karma Sutra, but Sookie was too blissed out and exhausted to care. Eric came with a roar on top of her, and then sank into her warm body. Her heart thundered under his temple and her chest rose and fell as she labored to breathe.
“I feel like I’m floating in my own body,” Sookie said with a quiet giggle a few minutes later.
“You are magnificent, lover,” Eric smiled against her skin but refused to lift his head.
“I’m cold, is what I am. You don’t offer any body heat,” she said and kissed the top of his head.
“Next time I’ll bring more blankets for you,” Eric promised.
“Or maybe next time we should control ourselves better,” Sookie suggested.
“There’s no fun in that,” Eric said, finally lifting his head. “But we should start heading back. Sunrise will be coming soon.”
“Yeah,” she sighed and sat up slowly, covering herself a little in the process. “Where are my clothes?”
“Around,” Eric smirked, but got up and had them gathered up pretty quickly.
Sookie got dressed and then wrapped herself up in the blanket again before Eric kissed her one more time, and then launched them back into the air to go home.