Chapter Twelve: Considerations
“I could have bought my own shoes,” Sookie continued to complain while her food was placed before her.
Eric rested his chin in his palm, looking at her indulgently. “I know that, Sookie, but I like spending money on you. Is that a bad thing?” he asked.
“I don’t know. It seems as if it should be, but I’m not sure why.”
“If you had to pick a single, negative, emotion to associate with my spending money on you, what would you choose?”
Sookie poked at her food distractedly while she tried to decide on an answer. Finally she murmured, “Embarrassment.”
“What do you find embarrassing?” he pressed gently, still watching her not eat.
A weak shrug lifted her shoulders followed by a long pause. Eventually she whispered, “I guess it’s a few things. First, I’m really unaccustomed to it. No one’s ever really bought me things before and I just… Don’t know how to respond to it..?”
“Are you asking me, or are you uncertain of your answer?”
“All right. What else makes you flustered about it?”
“I don’t want people thinking I can’t take care of myself.”
“Do they think that?” Eric asked.
She shook her head. “No, mostly they’re jealous; if it’s a girl or indignant if they’re a guy.”
“Do you believe that I think you are incapable of supporting yourself?” Eric asked.
“No. You’re well aware that I can and have taken care of myself.”
“So what do you care what someone might think when you know for certain that they are not thinking it?” Eric pressed. Another half-hearted lift of her shoulders made Eric sigh. “Sookie, your inexperience with allowing men to fawn over you would explain your uncertainty and embarrassment at accepting romantic gestures, but this concern regarding the thoughts that someone may have? That seems as if it could be an opinion implanted by another person. Someone you respect or love?”
“Tara,” Sookie muffled around a bite of food.
“The friend who stopped speaking to you when you went into law enforcement?” Eric asked curiously.
“Yeah,” She began playing with her food again.
“I take it she had rather strong views on men spending money on women?” Sookie nodded at Eric’s guess. “I understand valuing opinions of those you care for or respect, but how valuable is the opinion of someone who abandoned you?”
“I guess I’m even more broken than I thought,” Sookie took several bites of food quickly, trying to shove away the topic by keeping her mouth full.
“You are,” he agreed, regretting his comment at her forlorn, puffed-cheek expression. “Yet you have managed to glue yourself together quite remarkably despite the damages that were made to you. Everyone is broken, Sookie. It is how they repair themselves that speaks of who they are. There is no shame in who broke you or how. They are things that were done to you, and no one deserves disgrace from family, peers, or loved ones for such things. What you had to do,” Eric paused while he considered just how much she had shut herself down in order to cope. “What you had to do to make yourself function and be happy in any possible way you could manage is terrifying and… Admirable.”
Sookie scoffed at his words, “I didn’t have it that rough!”
“Oh, Sookie,” Eric sighed, “you did. You really did, and the fact that you cannot see that makes me want to give you so many things. Not money, shoes, or things so frivolous… I want to give you companionship that does not understand the word ‘no’. I want to give you affection that makes others sick with envy. I want to give you adventure and laughter. I want to give you arms to fall into when the world is too heavy on your shoulders.” He looked across the table at her and Sookie swallowed hard on the bite of food she had forgotten was in her mouth. “I also want to give you all of the frivolous, expensive gifts that you know I can afford.” Sookie laughed at that last part.
“You know, Northman, you really do know some amazing lines.”
“Well, Miss Stackhouse, you are the one who inspires such words. How can words spoken about someone so awe-inspiring not be amazing?” Sookie flushed a deeper red while she poked at her food unable to look him in the eyes. “You do not take compliments well,” he remarked.
“I’m not used to it,” she told him. “You’d think I’d be over it by now with how often you say things like that, but it still…”
“Embarrasses you?” he guessed. Sookie nodded. “You know, when I asked what made you uncomfortable with my paying for things and you said that you were just unaccustomed to such treatment, I think that was the honest truth. It is not in your nature to show indignation, so the only remaining response is embarrassment.”
“Could be,” she shrugged noncommittally.
“Has your life really been so absent of admiration, L… Hmm… Baby?”
Sookie giggled at his attempt to avoid his usual endearment in public. “Oh, Eric! The way your mouth moves around that word is hilarious!”
“I do not enjoy calling you by a word that implies an attraction to prepubescents,” Eric objected.
“Then why was it the first alternative that sprung to mind?”
“I had other alternatives before settling on that.”
“Oh?” She gazed at him in a way that encouraged her lover to explain.
Eric sighed before relenting, “I was particularly agreeable to ‘Dear One’.”
Sookie’s lower lip drew between her teeth as she whispered, “I’m agreeable to that.”
Eric’s eyes softened when she accepted the endearment. “Then that is what I will call you in public.”
Returning to her food, all anxiety and embarrassment forgotten, she proceeded to clean her plate.
“Would you like dessert? After all, we have not discussed potential exploits for your super formal dress,” Eric pointed out.
“Oh, well,” Sookie played with her hair, “there was a chocolate cheesecake that looked good…”
Eric nodded, flagging over the waiter and submitting Sookie’s order. As the server left, Eric looked back at his lover and began again, “Were there any events that you would like to attend that would be black tie affairs?”
“I really only know of one event like that and it’s the Shreveport Police Charity Ball. Only, I don’t know that I would want to go,” she admitted sheepishly.
Eric cocked his head to the side. “Why not?”
“Some of my colleagues would be there. No one I work with has seen me dress as I’d be dressed. I don’t know how I feel about that…”
“Embarrassed?” Eric guessed in a teasing manner.
“Afraid they will see what you have been hiding all these years and begin thinking inappropriately about you?” he asked.
“Oh, that happens quite a bit now,” she waved off his speculation.
Sookie frowned. “Of course.”
“What do you mean by ‘of course’?”
Sookie looked at him strangely. “Eric, people do fantasize. It’s a part of daily life, and not to sound vain, but I’m pretty hot.” Eric laughed at her blatant remark. “You disagree that men other than you find me attractive?” she challenged.
“Absolutely not,” he remarked while still laughing. “Only that you were so flustered and shy when I showed my interest in you. I thought perhaps that ‘fuck off’ look you wore on your face deterred men’s open fantasizing.”
Sookie scowled. “You and Pam would get along so well with Trent. For your information, I was so flustered by all the flirting because I could ignore fantasies. I’ve never actually had people, well, vampires, flirting with me so directly!”
“Oh, please, as if you don’t know Pam’s been trying to get in my pants. Although she was easier to ignore than Compton.”
Eric’s eyebrows rose. “Compton? Why was he more difficult?”
“Because he made me think of you.”
Her vampire sneered at that. “How so?”
“He asked when the last time was that I let a man be familiar with me. You’re the only man I’ve let call me by my first name since I graduated high school. In a way, Compton opened a floodgate by associating familiarity with sex. You were the first man who called me ‘Sookie’ and got away with it. It started me thinking about how beautiful you are and who wouldn’t mind making an exception for you,” Sookie’s head inclined slightly, hiding her face behind a curtain of hair. “Then I ran into you that same evening, we had our banter, and I was so restless after I got home. I thought about you just so I could fall asleep.”
“I see,” Eric understood her less-than-subtle hint at masturbating to thoughts of him. “So it took you a week and a half of thinking of me before you built up the courage to ask?” Sookie nodded mutely. “Perhaps that is good. It gave you time to determine the extent of your attraction. I am grateful we had that extra time to speak to one another over the phone and get to know one another.”
“So am I, although it felt as if you were learning a heck of a lot more than me,” she confessed.
“Perhaps, but I am a difficult person to know… We have gotten off topic again,” Eric pointed out. “Do you really have no desire to go to the police charity event?”
Sookie shrugged. “I really don’t know… I do because I’d like to attend an event that supports law enforcement, something that I could still feel good about if my first formal event isn’t all that impressive…”
“It is May 24th?” Eric checked.
Sookie was stunned that he knew. “Yeah, how did you know?”
“I donate money quite frequently to the Shreveport Police Department,” he reminded. “They sent me an invitation a few weeks ago to the ball.”
Nibbling her lips, Sookie asked quietly, “Do you know what else is on May 24th?” Eric tilted his head curiously and Sookie laughed. “My birthday.”
“Really?” he looked at her in delight. “Am I allowed to spoil you then?”
Sookie’s eyes narrowed carefully. “Elaborate on ‘spoil’.”
“May I give you my credit card on your birthday so you might get your hair and nails done for the fundraiser?” he asked.
Hesitantly, Sookie asked, “Is it very expensive to have those things done professionally?”
“You never have?”
“Well, I get my hair trimmed every few months, but I’ve always just kept my nails short and cut back my own cuticles,” she explained.
“What if I made reservations for you at one of the spas that is a favorite of Pam? They would have my credit card on file there…” Sookie gave him a surprised look at that and he quickly explained, “Pam usually uses my credit cards, particularly for her clothes and body treatments.”
“I thought vampire bodies didn’t change?”
“They do not, but we still indulge from time to time, especially after The Great Revelation,” Returning to topic, he finished his earlier thought, “Since the spa already has my card on file, you may have any treatment you wish done, and it will just get billed to me. No need for you to see any costs or worry about something as inconsequential to my bank account as a trip to the spa.”
Sookie hesitated momentarily, “So my letting you do that would make you happy?”
“Very,” he assured.
Seeing that he was being perfectly honest, Sookie nodded in agreement. “Okay.” After another second she asked, “Eric, do you know much about manicures and stuff?”
“I suppose. Pam prattles on about it enough and I have had manicures before. That was only buffing and shaping my nails though, nothing like what Pam has done.”
“Do you know what that paint job is?”
“Where it looks like a natural nail? A flesh tone at the nail bed and white tipped?”
“A French manicure?”
“Is that what it is?”
“Yes,” Eric nodded. “Why?”
“‘Cause that’s what I want for the fundraiser. Something classy and subtle.”
Eric nodded enthusiastically, “That sounds very sexy.”
“Oh, yes. A beautiful woman should be remembered, not her flashy nails or slinky dress.”
“Well, my dress is pretty sexy.”
“It is on you. Of course it looks sexy.”
Sookie flushed, and then her eyes widened when the server came by with her cheesecake. She dove into it enthusiastically. “I’ll need to hit the gym tomorrow morning,” she mused.
“Speaking of plans for tomorrow, I thought it might be a good idea to visit your grandmother tomorrow evening.”
Sookie’s fork paused halfway to her mouth. “Why?”
“Did you not tell me she wished to meet me?” Eric asked.
“Well, yeah, but…”
“Are you still hesitant to acknowledge your time with her is limited?” Eric asked gently.
Sookie set down her fork, desire for chocolate cheesecake eclipsed with sorrow. “Yes,” she finally admitted.
“Sookie,” Eric murmured quietly, “it may not seem like it, but you have a very nice advantage right now. Your grandmother is still well enough to genuinely enjoy part of her remaining time. Would you not prefer seeing her spry and happy while you can still make more memories?” Sookie nodded slowly. “Then let us put aside time in the early evening to spend with her. As often as you like, but we should definitely go tomorrow evening to start.”
“Okay,” Sookie quietly agreed.
“Would you like if I diverted your thoughts a moment?”
“Yes, please,” Sookie began poking at her cheesecake now.
“Do you know how to dance?” he asked.
Sookie froze for a moment, “Umm… What kind of dancing?”
“Black tie dancing,” he teased, pinching his tongue between his teeth.
“Then, no. I can’t dance,” Sookie admitted.
“Perhaps we should practice then,” Eric suggested.
Sookie leered at him from over her cheesecake. “I’ve enjoyed the sorts of practice you’ve introduced me to so far.”
Eric grinned cheekily at her and Sookie finished her dessert. After Eric took care of the check, he drove them deeper into the heart of Shreveport until they arrived at a little club where Sookie could hear the music crooning from the sidewalk. It was not the heavy thrum of a nightclub, but the intoxicating invitation of smooth jazz.
“So help me, Eric, if this is another club you own…”
“It is not,” Eric laughed while interrupting her threat. “I do know the owner, however.”
Sookie rolled her eyes, “You know everyone it seems.”
Eric just laughed to himself as he led his lover into the club. The atmosphere was just as inviting as the music had been. It was cozy, though surprisingly larger than the outside had led on. There was a small dance floor where only two other couples swayed to the music. About twenty other people were enjoying the music from their seats.
“Shall we?” Eric asked, leading her to the floor, grinning internally at the apprehension rolling off of her.
“Eric, I really can’t dance,” Sookie moaned nervously, her legs freezing up on her.
“Do not worry, Dear One, I will not let you embarrass yourself,” he reassured her, thawing out her legs as he lead Sookie to the dance floor. “Have I not already taught you so many things your body is capable of that you never knew?”
Sookie shivered as he lulled her onto the floor, placing her left hand to his chest and taking her right hand in his left one while his right hand gently clasped her hip. It was easy for Sookie to find the rhythm of the song, and Eric pulled and pushed her so deftly across the floor that moving with him was as effortless as being in bed with him. The ground instantly melted away and the thoughts of the other club goers hushed with the silence brought by his touch. It was just the two of them pulling and pushing each other across the surface of the Earth like magnets simultaneously attracting and expelling one another in a cooperative rhythm. It was not difficult to realize why so many thought of sex as horizontal dancing.
“And you said you could not dance!” Eric murmured in her ear as the song ended and he leaned in to kiss her throat. As his body was inclined over hers, Sookie felt his hand leave her side to run down the curve of her hip briefly tracing beneath the hem of the skirt she wore. The fleeting contact made her breath hitch as she was instantly reminded of her lack of panties. Her heart pounded despite the brevity of Eric’s suggestive evocation.
“Eric!” she gasped, her hand clutching the front of his shirt.
“Hmm?” he slid his hand back to her waist and began moving their bodies around the floor as the next song began. Distracted as she was, Sookie used all of her willpower not to stumble while they began dancing once more.
“That’s not fair,” she pouted up at him.
“What?” Eric asked, wearing a grin so diabolical it made Satan’s horns look like a halo. Before she could reply his right hand migrated toward her bottom giving it a playful squeeze. The action effectively pressed his growing bulge against her stomach and Sookie let out a breathy moan in response. “Ready to go?” Eric whispered. He could smell her arousal perfuming the air around them.
“Yes, please,” she answered breathlessly.
Squeezing her hand in his, Eric lead Sookie out of the club and back to his car. When Eric opened the passenger door and sat down, his lover looked at him in confusion until he unzipped his pants and pulled her onto his lap.
“Eric,” she whined quietly when she felt his erection brush against her aroused entrance. “Someone could see-”
“Was that not the point?” Eric asked, taking her hips in his hands gently urging her to slide down his staff.
“You can say no, Sookie,” he assured her easing his hands from her sides.
Sookie chewed her lip for a split second before succumbing to his suggestion and sinking down his cock, the tiniest whimper escaping her slightly open mouth. Frantically, her mouth reached for his and her hips began rocking urgently against him.
“In a hurry?” Eric laughed against her mouth.
“I don’t want to get caught,” she mumbled back before tangling her tongue against his and moving that much quicker.
Eric nipped her tongue with his teeth while his hand moved beneath her skirt to hasten her release. Her fingers wove into the hair at the nape of his neck, pulling it and causing his hips to crash upward into hers. Sookie gave his hair another sharp tug and groaned at the responding collision.
“Yeah, Darlin’, just like that,” Sookie hissed as his thumb speedily rubbed against the pleasure point above her opening. Her teeth clenched tightly before her hips gave sharp, violent jerks. She leaned forward and dug her teeth into his shoulder stifling her cry when her inner walls began contracting around the thrusting rod inside her.
“Mine!” Eric snarled quietly into her ear as he came shortly after her.
“Yours,” she agreed with a gasp for air. Once her breathing calmed, she asked, “Mine?”
“Yours,” he assured, eyes still closed while her body relaxed around him. When Sookie moved to rise from his lap, Eric pulled her body back to his, wrapping his arms around her. “No,” he murmured quietly. “Stay right here.”
“Eric,” she fretted.
“I would glamour anyone who found us,” he soothed her. “Just let me hold you awhile longer this way.” When Sookie relaxed against him, Eric purred happily. “Thank you.”
Resting her head against his shoulder, Sookie took in a deep breath of his scent and let out an appreciative moan. “You smell so nice.”
Eric gently laughed as he began stroking her hair. “Thank you.”
“You ready to go home?” she asked quietly, nuzzling against his chest.
Humming thoughtfully, Eric finally relented after giving her body another squeeze. “I suppose.”
“I was wondering, when we get home, could you give me some of your blood?” Sookie asked shyly. “I think I’m ready for these bruises to heal.”
A flash of happiness passed through the vampire at her request. “I would like that very much. I have disliked the unease that seeing you damaged this way has caused me,” He paused a moment before asking, “You will not feel ashamed when you go to work for your next psychological evaluation with your bruises healed?”
Sookie smiled at him. “If anyone has the gall to ask, I’ll just tell them I’m reaping the benefits my lover provides me.”
“You are a marvel, Dear One,” Eric pulled her mouth to his, enjoying one last drawn out kiss before helping Sookie rise off of him. When he was zipped up, Eric climbed out of the passenger seat and placed Sookie into it before getting behind the wheel and driving them back to his house.
“What do you plan to do tomorrow during the day?” he asked once they were in bed for the night.
“Probably do some more shopping. I need to buy shoes for my dress and now I really want to buy some sexy undies too,” she teased him.
“Oh, I see,” Eric leaned over her body and sought her lips with his own. After a deep kiss, he pulled away and asked, “Are you ready to lose the bruises?”
“Yes, please,” Sookie grinned.
“The amount of blood you need may give you a persistent urge for sex,” he warned.
“Darlin’ if it gets much more persistent, I’m gonna have to quit my job and you’re gonna have to find a way to stay awake during the day,” she challenged.
“Quite the incentive!”
Sookie scowled at him. “You really don’t like me being in law enforcement, do you?” she demanded.
“I really do not,” he replied honestly. “I respect your abilities as a detective and I respect your decision to serve the public at the risk of your own safety. That does not mean I like the thought of my lover’s life in danger every time she goes to work.”
“Well, get used to it, Buster! I want my cheap, gold watch,” she stuck her tongue out at him. Eric’s smile turned distant and Sookie felt her tongue slip back into her mouth. “Eric,” she restarted softly, only continuing when he hummed that he was listening, “what’s the worst damage I could take before your blood wouldn’t save me?”
Eric paused a moment before stating, “It depends on what you mean by ‘save’.”
Sookie frowned, contemplating his meaning before realization struck, “You mean the difference between living and surviving?”
“Yes,” he whispered quietly.
“Surviving,” she told him.
Eric turned onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. “So long as your brain and heart remained undamaged, I could ensure your continued existence. The moment your heart stops, I cannot give the same guarantees. Each human is different, you see. Some cling to the shell of their body longer than others do. If the spark of their existence is still shining past their death, they may still be transformed, but it does not always work out well. There are possibilities of insanity or mental retardation.”
Sookie stiffened at his side, swallowing hard at the potential ramifications. “That’s only if my heart stopped, right?” she asked in a whisper.
“Yes, or if your brain were damaged… Like taking a bullet to the head,” he whispered hoarsely.
Pausing for a moment, Sookie asked, “What would happen to my body if I were taking your blood regularly?”
“You mean if we were Bonded?” Eric asked quietly.
Taking a deep, unnecessary breath he explained, “Your body would heal faster, become stronger, and your reflexes would increase to the realm of exceptional for a human.”
“Would I be able to-”
“Sookie,” Eric stopped her, “I would not wish for you to have those abilities while you are in law enforcement.”
“Why not? I’d be safer-”
“You would also be more reckless and overconfident,” he argued gently.
Sookie sighed at his point. “I can’t say you’re wrong.”
His body relaxed at her admission. “I am going to make something very clear, Sookie… If you agree to Bond with me, your career in law enforcement would not last long.”
“You’d make me quit my job?” she demanded, though she tried not to sound stern or angry.
“No. You would want to quit your job,” he tried to clarify.
“Oh, that’s the thing about being extra cautious for the sake of your mate, right?” Sookie asked.
Eric was stunned by her immediate acknowledgement. “Yes, it is.”
“I see,” Sookie nibbled her lip thoughtfully.
Cocking his head at the action, Eric smiled to himself. “You know, you chew on your lip quite often around me, but you are far less fidgety around others.”
Smiling at his observation, Sookie asked him, “Haven’t you realized I don’t have any of my walls up around you?”
“What is the likelihood of us accidentally Bonding?” Sookie asked, thinking of her career and not so much the Bond itself.
Eric sighed, wondering the same thing. “It is hard to give a probability ratio, especially since you see me so close to dawn and spend time with me before sunset so often. I can try my hardest to prevent accidental mutual exchanges, but accidents do happen. Also, with your career, there is always the chance I might need to heal you with my blood after I have drunk from you. It seems unlikely that I would be unable to resist your bleeding if you were the one to drink first. I am old enough and have enough control to avoid such an incident.”
“I think losing my career is going to be harder for me to accept than the prospect of never having kids,” she told him quietly.
“Yes,” he agreed sadly, “I suppose it will.”
Looking at his despondent expression created an ache in Sookie’s chest that she had never experienced before. Her body yearned to offer him some shred of comfort, but she knew a future broken promise would hurt him far greater than some immediate, temporary relief.
“I wish I could give you more hope,” she murmured. “You’re everything I never hoped to dream of, but my career is what I’ve always struggled toward.”
“I know, my Sookie,” he turned onto his side and kissed her face softly. “I think we have had enough deep conversation for one day. How do you feel about exploring a different sort of depth for the evening?” His sorrowful expression suddenly turned mercurially playful.
Forcing her own genuine smile through the layers of concern on her face, Sookie traced her thumb over his plump lower lip before leaning in and kissing him carefully. He returned the comforting expression, easing his hand into her hair and tangling it around his fingertips until she pulled away for a lungful of air.
“Turn onto your other side, Lover,” Eric urged, gently pushing her hips until she rolled onto her right side while he pressed his chest tenderly against her back. After a moment, a soft ‘snick’ rented the air, and a bleeding wrist was offered to Sookie’s lips. She latched onto the wound tentatively and took a deep pull of blood down her throat. As a moan sounded around his arm, Eric’s knee slipped between the back of her thighs separating them so that her left leg was hooked over his and her center was open to receiving his hardness.
When he slipped inside of her from behind, another cry muffled against his flesh urging Eric to kiss and nibble her shoulder. He crooned in her ear periodically about the overwhelming heat of her sex and the luxurious wetness that coated him. All too soon, enough of his blood had been consumed and he could see the bruises on her back fading along with the swelling of her face receding to its normal curves and planes.
Disengaging his self-inflicted injury from her mouth and earning a groan of protest, Eric smiled to himself, and then reached between her thighs to languidly run his fingers over her clit. As his slow ministration caused Sookie to wriggle in his loose embrace, Eric merely continued his sedate pace and showered her shoulder, neck, and back with his kisses and love bites.
It was not long until she was climaxing around him drawing out his own release, and Eric moaned loudly against her healed shoulder blade. His throbbing cock filled Sookie with the evidence of her affect on him, and she moaned happily at the satiation his ecstasy brought her.
“Mmm,” she hummed contentedly, “it feels so good when you fuck me like that. Like my whole body is having an orgasm.”
Eric buried a smile into her shoulder, his eyes closing gently. “That is because I am not fucking you, Dear One. I am making love to you.”