A/N: I got so wrapped up in a new story that I started ("Destiny Calling," which is loads of fun to write, and I've been told it's just as much fun to read), I completely forgot that this chapter was almost finished and ready to post! Silly me. Sorry for the delay. I don't have the next chapter started yet, and due to some RL angsty-stress, it may be a while before I'm eager to work on anything too serious. I did what I could to leave this chapter at a decent stopping point, just in case.
Also! Mavrosal made a totally sweet banner for this story! It's uploaded on my WordPress blog (sophiemyst dot wordpress dot com), but here's another link for it: yfrog dot com / h0mfnmnj
When I rose the next night, I kept my eyes closed and listened to the sounds around me; it was something I did every now and then. With one exception, anyone watching would think I was still out cold; Eric always knew, but Pam generally couldn't tell. I'd used that little trick to catch the tail end of one or two of their conversations. He'd told me it wasn't a bad way to wake: if there were any humans around, they would be fooled long enough to give me an advantage.
I felt something against my back and another something draped around my waist; the scent in my nose told me it was Eric. I wasn't surprised to find him still in bed with me when I woke up; if he had his druthers, we wouldn't be getting out of bed at all tonight. Unfortunately, there was enough going on around us that we probably couldn't afford to take another night off.
Opening my eyes, I initially started to frown: this wasn't my room. I failed to remember how, during last night's activities, we'd managed to get here. Granted, we'd made something of a mess of my room, so he may well have carried me here after I'd gone under for the day.
Even though his body was perfectly still, it was a given that Eric was awake. Aside from dying for the day, vampires didn't do much in the way of sleeping. We could put ourselves into a mild trance-like state that I found restful, but even in that condition we were more aware of our surroundings than most humans were when they were fully awake.
Grinning impishly, I tried to roll away from Eric. Just as I'd thought would be the case, his seemingly casual hold on me was anything but: I could barely move an inch.
"Where do you think you're going?" he asked, his voice coming from mere inches from behind my head.
"Nowhere, looks like." I scooted back, pressing my body even closer to his. When he made a noise somewhere between a growl and a purr, I couldn't help but shiver. Last night he'd been delighted to find out exactly what kind of effect those types of noises had on me.
If I'd been human, there was no way I'd be able to walk upright this evening; not after the way he and I had spent the last few hours before dawn. Thank goodness for vampire strength and healing; I wasn't even sore. If he wanted to stay in bed another hour or four, he wouldn't get any objections from me. However, since his hands weren't moving, I figured we were either getting up soon or he wanted to talk about something.
There wasn't any huge mystery over what he might want to talk about. I knew he'd been surprised by my sudden willingness to give in to him last night, but it wasn't like he was going to stop so that we could discuss it then and there. In some ways, it was a spur of the moment decision on my part. It would be a lie to say that I hadn't wanted to have sex with him before, but I hadn't planned on it happening. If it had been something I planned, I would have wound up getting myself way too worked up about it.
At least part of my decision was that we'd been alone in the house. Had Pam been there, I'd have felt awkward, like we were ignoring or excluding her. She'd still know about it the minute she saw us: I already knew that much. Pam was sharp as a tack when it came to reading our body language, and she'd probably be able to smell it – something I didn't want to give much thought to.
I was concerned as to how this would change our little family's interactions. They were both fond of telling me that "change is the only constant," but this had the potential to be the most drastic change I'd experienced since being turned. The consequences would be long-term; of that, I had no doubts.
I just wanted them to be happy consequences.
Behind me, Eric shifted slightly. "I can feel you pondering something, Sookie. You're not having evening-after regrets, are you?"
I thought about that briefly before answering. "No. Just wondering how things will be different now."
"Do you want things to be different?"
It felt like we were ramping up to a game of you-first-no-you-first. I didn't know if I had the courage to answer him, and wasn't sure I wanted to hear the answer he'd give if I had been the one to ask.
"What was that language you were speaking last night?" I asked, in a completely shameless attempt to change the subject. "I didn't recognize it at all."
I felt him roll over behind me, so he was lying on his back. I turned around and curled up against him, resting my head on his shoulder. He let out a frustrated sigh, but answered me anyway.
"You wouldn't. It's the language I spoke during my life as a human. No one really speaks it anymore."
"So you didn't grow up speaking Swedish?"
"No, that was the only language Pam seemed able to learn. Her accent is still horrible."
"I think she does that just to mess with you."
"Are you being evasive for similar reasons?" he asked.
I sat up enough to look at him. He looked hurt; I cringed and shook my head. He pulled me back down and curled an arm around my shoulders.
"We're not leaving this room until we talk about it, Sookie."
I scowled, feeling frustration and anger building up inside of me. "That's not fair."
"Didn't your maker ever tell you life wasn't fair? I'm fairly certain he has. Recently, even."
"How could we possibly have any sort of relationship, if you can just order me around like that?"
He was silent for a moment. "Tell me where I can find another thousand-year old vampire with whom I might have an exactly equal relationship." His voice was quiet, but there was an underlying bitterness to his words.
The more I thought about that, the more it stumped me. A profound loneliness filtered through our bond: something I'd never felt from him before. Not on that level. And here I was, whining about unfairness like a brat. His intention had been to make a point, not to make me feel bad; his hand gently rubbed my back in an attempt to comfort me.
"What if things go bad between us?" I asked quietly.
"What makes you think they would? We've fought before; no doubt we'll do it again. How we handle our differences is a choice, each and every time."
So far, neither of us had outright stated what we wanted. It was the proverbial elephant in the room. If I was being truly honest with myself, I knew I had feelings for Eric.
"Where do we go from here?" I asked.
"You tell me, Sookie. Between the two of us, I'm not the one who doesn't know what he wants."
"And you're not telling me because why?"
"Because I don't want you mistaking it for an order or command. I know you. If I say what I want to happen, you'll throw it back at me in your moments of frustration and anger."
If he was going to let me be the one to make that decision, maybe something more between us could actually work out. All this time, I'd known he wasn't going to push me for sex because he felt strongly against non-consensual sex. He'd never forced anyone, and never would. The idea that he wouldn't try to manipulate or pressure me into a more intimate relationship than what we already had... it was comforting.
Hell, if anything, that was going to do more to convince me than anything he could do in bed.
And, as I'd found out last night, he was quite skilled in that department.
I rolled and shifted positions so that I was straddling his waist. Hope and lust flared at me from behind his eyes, and I realized that he didn't need to tell me what he wanted. I could feel it rolling off of him in waves, now. He wanted parts of me that could never be taken, parts that weren't physical. His hands rested on the tops of my thighs, but he was holding me in place rather than pushing me further down his body: he didn't want me distracting us from the discussion.
"You know, I've never had a serious relationship before. I'd have no idea what I'm doing."
He smiled, looking more than a little relieved. "I'm a bit out of practice, myself. Some of it we'll have to figure out together, but when have I ever refused to help you learn something new?"
With a grin, I asked, "What would you like to show me first?"
Quick as lightning, he rolled us over so that he was on top of me. I let out a startled giggle, which seemed to bring an wicked gleam to his eyes.
"For starters," he said, sliding down my body, "I think I'll demonstrate one of the many things I'd prefer to spend the rest of the night doing."
Over the next hour, he gave me a lot to think about, and even more to look forward to.
How we even made it to the car, I'll never know; neither of us could keep our hands to ourselves. We couldn't stay holed up any longer, no matter how much we might want to remain locked up in one of our bedrooms. Our lives would always be busy, but we had more time than I could fathom. Before pulling out of the garage, Eric sent Pam a quick text to let her know we were on our way to the club.
"Think she'll freak out on us?" I asked.
He smirked. "She's more likely to throw a parade, at this point."
Oh, hell. She probably would, too. I didn't even want to know what the floats for that would look like.
Pam was at the door, as usual. Seeing us pull into the lot, she raised an eyebrow in our direction and disappeared into the building, leaving a startled fangbanger standing at the door.
By the time we got out of the car, she was standing at the back door, holding it open for us. Her arms were folded over her chest.
"Finally. About damn time you two..." she paused and sniffed the air. The expression on her face was one of disbelief. "What the fuck are you doing here?"
I was asking myself the same question. Eric laughed. "The door to my office has a lock."
Pam glared at him. "Eric, I think I might actually hate you right now."
"And here you thought she'd be pleased," I said, poking Eric in the ribs as we walked inside.
Once we reached his office door, he pulled me into a deep kiss. Afterward, he gave me a light swat on my behind. "Go sit out front? I'll never get any work done if you're in here with me."
I didn't get a say in the matter: Pam grinned wickedly, grabbed my arm, and dragged me off to our booth. After I sat down, she plunked down next to me, blocking me in.
"You're not going anywhere until you spill."
Flustered, I waited to say anything until after the waitress left; she'd brought us some bottled bloods and gone back to the bar.
"First off, you're not really mad at us, are you?" I asked.
She laughed. "Aside from being mildly jealous that Eric got into your pants when I didn't? No. I'm already over it. I'll probably give him some hell about it for a while, though."
I let out a sigh of relief. There was already too much going on; I didn't want Pam upset with us along with everything else.
"Talk, woman." Pam squinted at me.
"Um. What do you want me to say?"
She rolled her eyes. "Bloody hell. If it wasn't so visually obvious, I would seriously doubt whether or not you were female. Tell me everything. What got you to change your mind?"
Uncertain how to put it into words, I bit my lip. "It was just something I decided on my own, I guess. I didn't plan it or anything, it just kind of happened."
"Wow, Sookie. You really suck at sharing." She pouted. "You grew up with Jason and your Gran, and yet you still don't know how to gossip?"
"What?" I asked indignantly. "It's true: it was a totally spontaneous thing. And it's not gossip when you're talking about yourself. That's different."
Remembering something odd from last night, I interrupted her before she could even start speaking. "Hey, I have a question."
"I have an answer. Let's see if they match."
I leaned in closer and whispered low enough that none of the other vampires in the bar would be able to pick it up; the only ones here tonight were younger than Pam. "When vampires have sex, they don't get warm, do they?"
Startled, she pulled back and stared at me. "No," she responded, keeping her voice as quiet as mine. "And don't bring that up again, not here. Fuck, Sookie, you should know better than to ask me that kind of weird question in public."
I narrowed my eyes at her. "How was I supposed to know? It's not like there's a handbook for this kind of thing."
To my surprise, she laughed. "All right, don't get your knickers knotted. But didn't I tell you he was good?"
"Okay, talk about weird questions..."
She sighed. "I forget how young you are, sometimes. You'll loosen up after a decade or two. Speaking of, if you ever decide you two..."
Knowing by her tone what she was going to say, I cut her off. "Because Eric is so good at sharing, right?"
Even thinking about what it was Eric and I wouldn't be sharing with Pam made me tingly. He must have sensed it, and the resulting swell of lust through our bond would have knocked me over if I'd been standing up. I wondered if he'd been able to get any work done, and was trying to resist the temptation to go find out.
We might not be able to communicate telepathically, but sometimes the bond worked just as well. Whether or not he'd felt my curiosity and hesitation, I could feel him starting to pull at me. When I shivered, Pam shot me a knowing look and scooted out of the booth so that I could stand up.
I deliberately ignored the way she smirked at me as I walked back towards Eric's office. The door opened before I could even knock, and without any warning, he was pulling me into the room, into his embrace.
I found myself pushed up against the door before I even heard it close. The last coherent thought to run through my brain, before he obliterated it with a searing kiss, was that I could definitely get used to this.
Disclaimer: All of the characters contained in this story are property of Charlaine Harris (except Felix, he's all mine). I don't own them; I just like to play with them a bit.