Catalyst Ch. 29

Chapter Twenty-Nine: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Jason’s POV:

“You sure it’s cool for you three to be out durin’ the day?” I ask nervously, glancin’ around the crowd to see if anyone notices my vampire companions. All three of ’em got ball caps and sunglasses on. Eric’s got his long-ass hair tucked up under his cap, but man, that’s a helluva lot of hair!

“Weres do not play in human leagues,” Godric shrugs. “They find it boring. As do vampires. We will not stand out all that much.”

I can only nod, then regain my earlier excitement about seein’ Sooks play baseball…er… softball again! She ain’t played since her freshman year of high school because she transferred to Shreveport durin’ our ‘adjustment’ period. There just wasn’t time for her to be in any after school shit with both us workin’ all the time. It made me feel like shit that I was still playin’ football when she had to give up her sport, but she always reassured me it was different. My playing let me stay in college, her playing was never going to bring her a scholarship. I argued that it could have, but Sookie always told me her chances would be better academically than athletically.

Rising to my feet, I clap as Sook’s team takes the field. She was excited to find out my football number wasn’t taken, and the bright, white, number ‘9’ beneath ‘Stackhouse’ makes my chest feel ready to burst!

Sook’s playin’ second base today, and I’m vibratin’ in my seat once I sit back down. Godric looks at me all amused.

“Excited?” he asks after I let out a loud ‘WHOOP’!

I nod with a giant grin on my face, “Sook has loved baseball all her life. It broke my heart when she couldn’t play all through high school, especially with me still on the football team,” I confess. “She wasn’t too happy when she grew up and had to play softball instead of baseball, but she just avoided pitchin’.”

He laughs and nods, “I see. What position did she play back then?”

“Catcher,” I answer. “Only girl on the team they didn’t have to train not to run away screamin’ when a runner slid at them.”

Godric chuckles at my response, but it’s true. The first ‘All Girl’ team Sookie played on in middle school wasn’t a very good team… We’re talkin’ ‘why does this school even have a softball team’ bad. Most hadn’t ever played softball before, and all the rest were too short for basketball, or too ugly for cheerleadin’. Don’t even pretend that ain’t a thing, you know you’re lyin’ to yourself!

“Eric, was she excited this morning?” Godric asks, leanin’ over me to talk to the giant blond on Pam’s right.

“Very,” Eric tells him with a smile. “Although, she withheld sex this morning, so I am uncertain how much I will like her playing on this team.”

I groan and shake my head as the first pitch is delivered. Centerfielder catches it off a bounce, but he can’t get it to first before the runner gets on base. Second hitter knocks one toward left field, but the shortstop intercepts. He lobs it to Sooks who makes a swift double play. The third hitter pops it up and the left outfielder makes an easy third out.

Clapping while the teams change positions, I nudge Pam who’s lookin’ more enthusiastic than I thought she’d be. I realize quickly that she’s just happy to be out in the daytime for a change. She don’t care where she is, only that Godric and Eric have approved the outing.

Kristin’s first at bat, and she’s so itty-bitty that the pitcher can’t throw a freakin’ strike on her. She’s walked to first. The next two batters manage to do their jobs and get on base, loadin’ ’em up. Aw, man, aw, man, aw, man! I know Sookie’s up fourth, a designed plan for their first round of batting. Apparently Sookie’s a monster hitter, which surprises me. She managed to get a homer once her freshman year, so I’m pumped to see what she’s got now.

I can practically see the other team laughin’ when Sookie comes to the plate. They think the team’s got a wasted opportunity in their midst with the bases loaded and a tiny, little blonde up at bat. Sookie don’t seem all that preoccupied by it, and I notice she don’t crowd the plate like back in middle school. She must be pretty confident.

The pitcher throws outside and Sookie remains stock still, ball. Inside, and she needs to jump back a bit, ball two. Right down the fuckin’ middle and Sookie crushes the fucker!

I watch as the opposing team gapes, but only for a second, ’cause I’m up with the crowd as everyone yells and waves their arms like we’re tryin’ to make a gust of wind, “No! No way! No way! Go! Go! GO!” and that grapefruit goes bouncin’ past the fence!

“YEAH, SOOK!” I scream as her and her teammates round the bases. Bottom of the first, and my Sook put her team four ahead!

They finish off the inning with only one additional run, but a five nothin’ lead is bad vibes for the opposition. They get a runner on first, and the second pitch is lookin’ like another double play, except the fucker runnin’ from first to second slides and it’s a motherfuckin’ train wreck!

Sookie may be able to hit ’em outta the park, but she’s still a tiny woman! When ’24’ comes crashin’ into her, her little feet go flyin’ into the air, and even I flinch when she hits the ground. She flips right over and lands full force on her throwin’ arm. Shit, is this how she feels watchin’ me get tackled? I wonder.

Both me and Eric are already runnin’ off the bleachers and her team is on their way to Sookie while we jump the fence. Sook is still on the ground and Pussy #24 is walkin’ away, all smug.

“Back it up!” I holler at her teammates. Kristin’s yellin’ and makin’ a big huff, but I ignore her and crouch down to check on my sister, “Hey, Powerhouse.” I see outta the corner of my eye that Number 24 just flipped off Kristin and David catches her at the waist after she takes a leap at him.

“What was his number again?” Sookie asks me, somewhat groggily.

“24. You want me to kick his ass?” I ask, givin’ her a hand. She reaches for it, then flinches away quickly. “You okay?”

Eric kneels next to her and Sookie slowly sits up. “Did something break?” he whispers, smoothin’ some of the hair that’s come loose from underneath her cap.

Sookie tries wigglin’ her right wrist, “Nah, just a sprain,” she murmurs a bit unevenly, like she’s tryin’ not to cry. I know a sprain’s bullshit ’cause her wrist is fuckin’ huge! That’s a break! I know my fuckin’ breaks.

“Sook, you can’t play with that,” I tell her in a hushed voice.

“I’m fine,” she assures us. “It’ll be fine by the time I’m up to bat.”

“Yeah? How you gonna throw ’til then?” I ask, annoyed by her sheer stubbornness, wonderin’ how she ever put up with me.

“I’ll deal with it!” She snaps and pops up to her feet. The crowd starts its slow clap, and after Eric and me head back to the bleachers without her, the applause gets louder. They all thought she was outta the game.

Thankfully, Sookie don’t have anythin’ to do again for the first half of the inning. The team is babyin’ her, but she quickly puts that shit down once they head to the dugout. I can see her glowerin’. Even before living immortality, I seen Sookie play with a broken finger, shin splints, and a broken toe. Not all at the same time, of course, but she’s one tough cookie when it comes to sports.

I still think Pussy #24 shoulda been tossed out.

By the seventh inning stretch, this game’s lookin’ like a shutout, but I don’t say so out loud. Instead, I get up to grab somethin’ to eat and Godric follows me.

“Playin’ bodyguard?” I tease.

“No, I plan on keeping you from hunting down Number 24,” Godric confesses with a knowing smile.

“Am I really that transparent?” I ask, frowning. Here, I thought I was bein’ pretty calm and laid-back, but Godric’s givin’ me this look like I’m a man ready to explode.

“When it comes to your sister, you are,” Godric laughs.

I look nervously at all the people watchin’ me and Godric go to the concession stand, and I can’t help but murmur, “You sure it’s safe to be out?”

“It is fine, Stackhouse, I have not smelled a Were or any other supernatural all day,” he reassures me, and I think he’s getting a little exasperated. “It will be nice when we do not have to hide from the supernatural community at all, but the wait is only making the excitement that much more grand!”

I quickly buy a soda and hot dog, takin’ it over to a secluded picnic bench to ask a few things that have been botherin’ me for awhile. Mostly it’s the transformations Sookie and them have gone through, but some of it is me, bein’ scared of my own approachin’ change.

“In a way, though, aren’t we always gonna be in the shadows if we never let the humans discover what we are? Won’t it be like never coming out?” I ask, not sure how it makes me feel.

“Yes,” Godric agrees, “but the freedom it will bring us will be far greater than the secrets we have been forced to keep. Also, with Sookie still needing to maintain basic bodily functions, it will make it that much easier to blend in. Her children will only help cement those normalcies.”

“That’s got me stuck,” I tell him.

“What does?”

“Sooks is a living immortal, right?” I begin carefully.

“Yes?” He’s lookin’ at me with intrigue, or maybe he’s just glad to hear that I’m curious about all this stuff. I’ve been a bit tight-lipped since before we even left for England over the summer, and I think it’s made him concerned.

“So, why does she still need to eat and sleep?” I ask.

“Ah,” Godric nods in understanding. “Sookie could stop eating, but the magic maintaining her immortality will only keep her alive, not all that vital. She could be starved, but not to the point of death. Her body could shrink itself quite traumatically before the magics of her immortality would kick into survival mode. At that point, she would be extremely weak and unable to do much more than maintain consciousness. Injuries would heal very slowly; broken bones would not mend… It would be an extremely horrific existence for her until she was nourished once more, along with a very extensive recovery period.

“As for sleep, that has to do with mental faculties. Her mind, though immortal, is still human to a degree,” Godric continues. “She may go much longer than humans without sleep before her mind would begin to flounder. I believe Ludwig suggested she could go roughly three months without sleep before showing any signs of loss of mental acuity. Of course, I cannot imagine Sookie ever needing to stretch herself that far. It is also Ludwig’s speculation that a regular eight hours of continuous sleep is all that would be needed for her to be refreshed after an extended period of wakefulness.”

“Dang, so Sookie can stay up all week, sleep in on Saturday morning, and then stay awake a whole week again?” I ask in surprise.

“Easily,” Godric nods.

“Shit! College is gonna be a breeze for her!” I laugh.

“Yes, but if she stays awake all that time, it means that she needs to eat more,” Godric tells me. “About twice as much as she does now. This is the same for our bloodline. Since we are aware continuously, it means we must feed more often. That will be a hurdle for you. Newborns need to feed every two to four hours during their first year of existence. That means you will need to feed every hour throughout your first year. After the first year, they need only feed once an evening, so that will mean twice a day for you.”

“Dang, that’ll be rough. Maybe I’ll take a year sabbatical for that,” I consider.

“It might be a good idea, now that we are discovering some of the repercussions of our impervious immortality,” Godric agrees.

“How often do you and Eric need to feed?” I ask.

“I have required nourishment bi-weekly, but Eric is back down to once a week,” Godric tells me. “He had my bi-weekly schedule before the change.”

My face scrunches, knowin’ from where the extra blood is comin’. You’re the one who asked, dumbass!

Pam’s POV:

Fuck, yes! Out in the sun!

I wander around during this ‘stretching intermission,’ and I happen upon the Number 24 who blatantly tried to take Sookie out of the game, and by “happen upon,” I obviously mean that I ruthlessly stalked him.

“Hello there,” I purr at the tanned player. His jaw drops when he sees me and I brush my hair to the side, exposing my ample cleavage. “What is your name?”

“Uh, Jake,” he mumbles shyly.

“Hello, Jake,” I close the distance between us. “I could not keep my eyes off you for nearly the entire game,” I tell him in my best husky voice, which is obviously effective after over a century’s effort at perfecting it.

“R-really?” he asks breathlessly.

“Mmm-hmm,” I trace my fingers down his face and cup his jaw, bringing it closer to my lips. His eyes are batting frantically in surprise and arousal, and I skim my lips along his cheek until they are next to his ear. “Ever since I saw you undercut my sister in the second round.” I revel in the sound of his heartbeat stuttering and the feel of the blood draining from his face against my hand. “Such a shame. You were so cute, but no woman wants to go to bed with a man who takes cheap shots.”

I pull away and glare at him with my withering gaze. Jake stammers and I cut him off, “Play clean, Jake, and apologize to Sookie. Then, I might reconsider my opinion of you.”

With that, I turn away and stroll off, making sure to roll my hips in a fluid saunter. Yes, little boy, long for what you cannot have! I think smugly. Sookie has asked all of us to avoid glamouring people associated with her, unless we absolutely must. However, she said nothing about using our sexual prowess to get what we want.

When I am seated once more on the bleachers, I watch as Number 24 comes running over to Sookie’s team’s bench. I listen amusedly to the conversation taking place.

“Um, Phillips,” he addresses Mark, the team’s thrower and leader. “I was wonderin’ if I could talk to Stackhouse?”

Mark stands up, crosses his arms over his chest, and cockily tells him, “You got somethin’ to say to Powerhouse, you can say it to the team.”

’24’ shuffles awkwardly a moment before looking at Sookie and saying, “I’m really sorry about that slide in the second inning. Even though the ump called it clean, it wasn’t. I was tryin’ to take you outta the game. I’m sorry, and I’m glad you weren’t hurt.”

I can practically feel Sookie running through his mind, looking for a glamour. When she does not find one, I hear her surprised reply, “It’s okay. I’m fine. Thank you for apologizing.” She almost sounds exasperated by the end. Oops, she probably saw my coercion in his head! Who cares? An apology is an apology! “Let’s just have a good game.”

Jake nods and shakes Sookie’s hand. Mark and the rest of his team appear astounded by the event while their opponent runs back to his own team, who are glaring at him.

When the intermission ends, Stackhouse is back with Godric, and we buckle down for the last two rounds. They are boring as Sookie’s team widens the gap in points and Jake’s team cannot manage a single goal… Wait… That’s not right. There are no goals in baseball, or is home base the “goal?” Shit, it’s home plate, but the other three pillows are called bases… Fuck this game!

When the game ends, Jason turns to me with a big grin, “That was awesome!”

I frown, “The other team did not even earn a single point.”

“I know, right! A real shutout!” Jason is crowing proudly.

“I thought outs were bad?” I reply, confused, then Eric begins to laugh while Jason’s jaw drops. “What?” I snap at his look of disbelief and Eric’s overwhelming amusement. He knows damn well I never gave a flying fuck about baseball!

“You have no idea how to play baseball, do you?” Jason asks, flabbergasted.

I shrug, “Why? Should I?”

“You live under some rock the last hundred years!?” Jason exclaims. “It’s America’s pastime!”

“Technically, I am not American,” I tell him.

Jason rolls his eyes at me, “Whatever! You and I are having a baseball talk later.” Before I can object, Sookie comes running up to us and Jason points at me, “Pam has no idea how baseball is played!” It is now my turn to roll my eyes.

Sookie only shrugs, “So?”

“So? So!?” Jason is furious. “Who lives as long as you and doesn’t know about baseball?” he asks me, completely baffled.

“Stackhouse, if it means that much to you, we will sacrifice our sex time and you can teach me baseball,” I offer.

I see the hesitation in his eyes and I smile triumphantly.

“Or, the next time we go to the salon, I could teach you baseball,” Sookie grins. “Actually, aren’t we supposed to do that on Wednesday?” she asks innocently.

Fuck my unlife.

On to Chapter Thirty!


Catalyst Ch. 28

Chapter Twenty-Eight: Confessions

Sookie’s POV:

Coffee with Kristin went great. She listened with fascination while I told her about my trip to England over the summer. She begged and pleaded for me to come to softball practice with her on Saturday until I finally caved, and we drank way too much coffee. Kristin was practically vibrating in her seat while Eric drove her back to campus.

That’s why I’m standing in a pair of track pants, one of Jason’s old high school football shirts, and my beat-up tennies when I could be gettin’ busy with my Bonded back in Bon Temps.

Admittedly, I am havin’ a lot of fun. Kristin’s on a very good team, and I can feel my competitive nature rearin’ her ugly head. When they put me up to bat, I bounce on the balls of my feet, and give a few practice swings on my way to the plate. The tiny woman on second base relaxes her posture and places her hands on her hips like she’s sizin’ me up. After she’s done checkin’ me over, I see her buckle in and take me seriously. Good.

“Got this, Stackhouse?” David, the team’s catcher asks.

“Bring it,” I laugh, pullin’ into my swinging stance.

David chortles, pulls his mask down, and crouches in preparation for the pitch. It’s way outside, so I ignore it. Mark throws another pitch, and this time, it’s right in my zone. I swing, crush it, and don’t even watch to see where it sails until I hear ‘WHOA!’ from all around me. I stop, mid-run, to watch the softball rocket past the fence, barely miss a car, and then bounce to the end of the parking lot. Oh no! I forgot about vampire blood!

I might have also forgotten, despite Eric’s claims, that I am not fit enough to keep up with him. I realize that he is, indeed, a vampire and no regular human could keep up with him. I am, however, in much better shape than he gives me credit.

“Holy shit, Stackhouse!” Mark throws down his glove, then he and David are running to where I’ve frozen between home plate and first. “You sure you just want to be a sub?! Kristin said you haven’t played in forever, and your first hit went outta the park!”

“It must have caught the wind or something. There’s no way that was all me!” I protest nervously. “Even though I haven’t played baseball in awhile, my brother and I grew up on sports, and I was just real nervous, so maybe it had a little extra oomph than I usually have… But it had to have caught a breeze!” I’m babbling worriedly as more of the team continues to gawk at me.

This isn’t what I wanted… I just wanted to play and have fun! I think sadly.

“Why don’t we try another pitch?” Mark suggests after a moment.

I nod eagerly and head back to the plate. This time when I set up my swing, I relax my shoulders to take some muscle out of my hit. I don’t want to bunt, or they might think I’m intentionally trying to hold back. The bat makes contact and we all watch as the ball flies down centerfield and clips the fence, yet still makes it out.

Crap! Even with no muscle, I could still hit it outta the park, I think in dismay. Mixed with the fact that I get distracted by competition, and I can’t guarantee I’ll stay relaxed enough not to put any strength behind it. Long and short of it? I can’t play on a human team.

“Aw, man! You can’t just be a sub! You gotta be full-time,” David is crowin’ at me, and I feel my heart sink when Kristin’s thoughts drift into my head.

‘She already has a man and now David’s all over her!’ she thinks sadly, and my heart aches.

“Y’know, David, could you hold that thought? My phone’s ringin’,” I tell him, quickly whipping out my phone to speed dial Eric.

Sookie, what is it?” Eric sounds surprised to be hearing from me.

“Darlin’, I know it’s not quite dusk yet, but could you come to the field and do some glamourin’?”

What happened?”

“We forgot I get a little more power ’cause of the blood swappin’. I’m hittin’ home runs all the way to the parkin’ lot,” I whisper.

Eric pauses a moment, “Sookie, you have not had my blood in over two weeks.”


Heightened strength like that is only present for two or three days after ingestion,” he explains, soundin’ all amused and from our Bond, I can feel he is.

“Then…those home runs were all me?” I ask in disbelief.

Yes, they were, my beautiful powerhouse,” He’s laughin’ now.

“Holy crap!” I’m completely shocked, “And you keep sayin’ I need to work out!”

To keep up with a vampire, Dear One,” he reminds me teasingly. “So, I suppose you will not need me on the field?”

“I guess not!” I’m laughin’ now. Suddenly, I remember Kristin’s disappointed musings and a plan forms in my head. “Well, I better get back to practice!”

Hangin’ up the phone, I pull my engagement ring from under my shirt, letting it hang on top. I walk back to David and apologize, “Sorry about that.”

“No problem,” he shrugs, and I purposely play with my engagement ring. “Wow, that’s quite the rock, huh?” He sounds nervous, maybe a little disappointed.

I fake looking at my necklace and then laugh as if I’m embarrassed, “Oh… Yeah, I can’t wear my glove over it. I guess my finger misses it…”

He nods slowly, takin’ in what I said, and then his face splits into a big grin, “So? What do ya say? Full-time player?”

I shake my head, “I wouldn’t want to steal someone’s spot. Plus, I really don’t want to sacrifice all my weekends, being away from my fiancé. I think I’ll stick to subbing.”

His disappointment is evident this time, “Man, we could’ve used someone like you… Well, after practice, you wanna grab a beer?”

“I’m only eighteen,” I tell him.

“They won’t card you at our bar if you’re with the team,” David assures me.

“I have a party tonight,” I answer, trying again to dismiss his attempt.

“Raincheck then,” He’s grinnin’ all big, and I can tell from his mind that he’s not gonna back off. Crap.

Now I need to figure out how to salvage my relationship with Kristin!

Walking over to my friend, I still have no idea what to do. I can’t think of any way for her not to be angry with me over this and I’m more than a little upset myself. It’s not like I wanted David’s attention!

Before I can figure out what to do, Kristin gathers her stuff, and stomps off to the parking lot. I grab up my own bag and follow her gloomily. We stand in silence while we wait for Jason to pick us up and finally, I break the icy mood with a nervous, “Did I do something wrong? You seem mad at me.”

She sighs, “No… David was paying you a lot of attention.”

“I’m sorry,” I whisper.

Kristin sighs again and looks at her feet, “I really like him and I thought he wasn’t responding to me because he had a girlfriend, or maybe he was too shy. Then he was talking to you all through practice, and I noticed you flashed your engagement ring… He still invited you out to the bar, even though he knows you’re underage. He never invites me.”

“I’m sorry, Kristin,” I offer sincerely.

“Is there something wrong with me?” she asks almost desperately. “You have a freakin’ engagement ring that should scare the crap outta any guy who sees it, but they all still flock after you!”

I answer her with an amused smile, “That’s why they flock. It’s not because of me, it’s because I’m eighteen, and they all want to see if they can make me cheat. It’s a game, Kristin. I’m not all that special. I’m just a challenge to their egos because they can’t have me, and honestly? Any guy who openly tries to get with an engaged or married woman isn’t worth your time. A decent guy would see a wedding or engagement ring and turn right around.”

Kristin smiles and nods in agreement, “You’re right. David’s just hot! That doesn’t mean he’s good enough for me!”

Still grinning, I agree, “You’re absolutely right!”

Eric’s POV:

So, my Sookie is hitting them out of the park? I laugh while I set down my phone. I would have loved to have seen her face when she made that home run. Hell, I would have loved to have seen the humans’ faces as well!

Glancing at the clock, I decide to start preparing for the party we are attending. Sookie told me to be on guard because Sin, as she calls the Kappa President, will more than likely make her move on me tonight.

I laugh at the very idea and I am almost tempted to publicly humiliate the girl. However, I know Sookie enjoys the company of a few of the Kappas, and I do not wish to have her ostracized by the entire sorority. Although, I have my fears that it still may happen, regardless of shaming the aspiring coquette. Once I deny her advances, ‘Sin’ might begin snubbing my Bonded out of spite, very unbecoming a Sorority President.

Going to our closet, I take out one of my suits and a tie. I shower, dry my hair, and dress. Looking myself over in the mirror, I remember that my hair was far shorter the last time the Kappas saw me. Fortunately, my hair had been tied back at the time, so maybe it will go unnoticed.

After I am finished preparing, I glance at my watch and see it is time to pick up Sookie from Kristin’s dorm. My Bonded left her clothes and make-up in her friend’s room, so Jason would not have to drive back and forth to drop off the girls.

Grabbing my car keys, I head out and enjoy the sensation of Sookie’s growing anticipation. It is always reaffirming to feel her need for me, to know I am not the only one who pines for my other half during the day.

I arrive at the dorm and see Sookie standing in the doorway, waiting for me with Kristin. They hug briefly and Sookie apologizes to her friend for being unable to attend. I am just grateful the sorority will not have a ceremony during the party and that the actual affair is for Kappa members only. The party is merely a celebration of the sisterhood, and only a select group of outsiders are invited to join the festivities.

“Hello, Dear One,” I say, climbing out of the car to open her door for her. I would have walked her from the door, but she was already walking toward the curb as I pulled up.

“Hey, Darlin’. How was your afternoon without me?” she pouts playfully.

“Lonely,” I tell her, smirking. “Our bed is cold without you in it.”

“I suppose it is,” she teases right back. “What did you do all afternoon?”

“Researched a potential investment,” I shrug. “I do not believe I will take a chance on it. The venue seems to be a dying market, but I will ask Pam her opinion.”

“What is it?” she asks curiously.

“Downloadable music,” I answer, delighted by her interest, “although, the laws are becoming very restrictive.”

She nods slowly, “I don’t know, Limewire is huge now that Napster’s gone.”

“Also, illegal,” I point out. “Some companies are attempting to buy rights to artists and songs and sell them legally, but I do not know how lucrative it will be. People may continue to successfully skirt the restrictions. The Internet is already a deep labyrinth to navigate. Who knows how long people may trade music for free without being discovered?”

“What companies are trying to start online sales?” she asks me, now intrigued.

“I know Apple is a frontrunner,” I confess. “With their market in iPods booming, I believe they will make a successful run. Still, I am uncertain if it will be a fad or a long-term success.”

She becomes thoughtful, but eventually shrugs, “I’m an English major. I don’t know what to tell you. Although, I can say if there was a legal way to get the one song off a CD I like, I’d jump right at it. If I just had to pay fifty cents or a buck for one song versus having to spend ten to fifteen dollars on a CD, I’d love that.”

“Dear One, I would buy you all the CDs you could handle, even if you only wanted one song from each. Nevertheless, not everyone can buy one hundred CDs on a whim. You make a fair point.”

“Why, thank you,” she laughs as I pull up in front of Kappa house. I step out of the car and open her door for her, offering my arm. “Always such a gentleman.”

“Only for you,” I tell her while we walk up to the party.

“Yay! Sookie, you made it!” Leslie grins at my Bonded, her blonde hair and perfectly straight teeth shine against her black dress. “Oh, and you have Eric with you… Wow, was your hair that long last month?” she asks in surprise.

“Yes,” I reply shortly. Damn.

“Huh, well, I guess when you’re watching a guy being held up by his throat, it’s easy to forget the little details,” she laughs.

“I was holding him by his shirt, actually,” I remind her.

“Throat? Shirt? What’s the difference when you’re telling a good story?” she teases.

“Assault charges,” I offer, and she laughs as though I am not entirely serious. I will be so happy when Sookie finishes college and I no longer will need to attend these things.

“Come on, Sookie! Piper’s waiting for you in the kitchen!” she says, grabbing Sookie by the arm and pulling her toward the back of the house. I sigh and follow less enthusiastically behind them.

I stand and lean against the kitchen cabinets while the women talk, and Piper looks at me with raised eyebrows.

“Um, we’re kinda having some girl talk,” Piper tells me apologetically. “I promise she won’t get backhanded in your absence!” The girl accurately assesses my primary concern.

Sookie looks at me with big, guileless eyes, silently telling me she is sorry for once again being out of my reach today. I offer her a reassuring smile, lean in, and give her a brief kiss before heading back to the living room. It is there I see the second reason I have for staying near Sookie.

Cynthia walks toward me and she has enhanced the features of her Asian heritage in her clothing and cosmetic choices, no doubt to try to entice men with promises of an exotic sample. Too bad for her; I have had more than a mere sample from the continent and she could never ignite my lust with her physiognomy.

Pam, on the other hand, has what she affectionately refers to as ‘Yellow Plague.’

“Hey there, Eric,” Cynthia greets me, and I note that her normally thin lips seem much fuller than they were last month. I find myself studying her mouth, trying to determine if this is an illusion from cosmetics, or if the girl actually injected botulism into her face. I see her eyes glimmer while I continue observing her mouth, and she puckers them slightly. Botulism it is, I realize.

“You know, Botox will make your lips sag when it loses effectiveness,” I tell her conversationally.

The woman blinks rapidly at me and I know that she is taken aback, not only by my very unmannerly remark, but because I know that her lips have been altered.

Cynthia recovers quickly and her lips tilt slightly in a smirk, “I can afford to keep them full.”

Persistent, I tell myself, a trait I find enticing in some, annoying in most. She falls into the latter category. When she reaches to touch my arm, I easily pull away.

“I would prefer it very much if you did not put your hands on me,” I tell her.

“Another woman can’t even touch your arm? Wow, Sookie’s got you on a short leash,” Cynthia taunts, “yet she can go around hugging on all the football players?”

“I do not desire your touch,” I tell her coldly, disliking the implications she is making about Sookie’s familial embraces of Jason’s teammates.

“Most men do,” she purrs, still not giving up.

“And I am sure you are very accommodating,” I snap. She blinks her rapid, Morse code again and I realize it is her way of not losing her temper.

“Maybe, but I could do things with your body that a little girl like Sookie would never dream of,” Cynthia sounds more combative than seductive now. I have finally broken from persistence to saving face. Thank the Gods!

“A woman is only handicapped in bed by a lack of openness or enthusiasm. Sookie has no handicap,” I tell Cynthia smugly and rather than wait for her next attempt to either seduce me or salvage her pride, I head back to the kitchen.

Sookie takes one look at my expression and groans.

“Do you want to go?” she asks me.

I shake my head and tell her, “No, we can stay. I think she has finally gotten the message.”

Leslie and Piper are biting their lips anxiously. Sookie flinches, but covers it by brushing her hair from her face.

“Eric, we should go,” Sookie whispers, taking my hand in hers.

“What is wrong?” I ask.

She looks at Leslie and Piper guiltily, “Excuse us,” she mumbles and pulls me out of the kitchen. When we have a private corner, she whispers hurriedly, “Cynthia’s pissed. I don’t want her to see me talkin’ to any of the Kappas and go off on them.”

“I could very easily fix all of this, Sookie,” I remind her.

Sookie shakes her head, “No. I don’t want you to use glamour. This is the crappy part of bein’ ‘normal’.”

“But we are not normal, and you like those two girls,” I insist.

“I do,” She nods slowly. “Only…”

“Only?” I frown as her face becomes enlightened. There is a dawning of realization in her eyes and she smiles up at me. “What?”

“I don’t want to leave!” she says suddenly, turns on her heel, and runs off, back to the crowded living room. All I can do is tilt my head and slowly follow her.

Sookie’s POV:

“Hey, Cynthia,” I greet merrily. She looks at me like I blew out the candles on her birthday. “This is a great party!”

“Thanks,” she replies politely, but she’s sulkin’.

“I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate bein’ invited. It’s really an honor,” I tell her. “You and the Kappas really changed my mind about sororities, and the types of girls who join them.”

Cynthia blinks slowly before asking, “What do you mean?”

Embarrassed, I look at my hands, “I guess sorority girls really intimidated me. They’ve got this cool sisterhood thing, and I always thought that meant they snubbed anyone who wasn’t in one. Then I came to one of your parties and everyone was so nice! They treated me like anyone else, and it’s been real fun gettin’ to know you guys. I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for showin’ me what sororities are really about, and not all that back-stabbin’ diva stuff they put in movies and TV.”

I don’t miss Cynthia looking at her feet, almost ashamed, “Sookie, I’m really, really sorry.”

“For what?” I tilt my head in feigned curiosity.

“I was only nice to you because your fiancé is fucking hot. I’ve been hitting on him behind your back,” she confesses softly.

I stare at her a moment, genuinely surprised that she’s outright admitting this to me, “Eric is pretty darn hot,” I finally utter.

“Will you forgive me?” Cynthia asks.

“Are you gonna hit on him again?” I ask.

She shakes her head, “No, and not just because he made it perfectly clear there was no way in hell he’d cheat on you with me, but because… Oh, my God! I can’t believe I’ve been acting like this! This isn’t me at all,” she babbles, so I place a soothing hand on her shoulder.

“Hey,” I push her toward the stairs, “let’s go talk somewhere.”

Cynthia takes me to her bedroom and we sit on the duvet while she holds her head in her hands, “Can I tell you something terrible?”

“Sure,” I reply tentatively.

The Kappa president keeps her head down as she whispers, “I found out before coming back to school that my dad’s been cheating on my mom… I was the only kid among all my friends in high school whose parents weren’t divorced and I was always so proud of them for that. I was proud my parents were in love with each other. Then, I found out they weren’t; that dad was cheating. This is going to sound horrible, but I was so mad! …And even though your fiancé’s hot; deep down, I just wanted to prove to myself that love isn’t real. All men are pigs and it’s okay to just hate all of them!”

I put my hand on Cynthia’s knee, “Y’know, I’ve known you were tryin’ to get in Eric’s pants.” She looks at me mortified. “I thought I hated you for that, and I was just scared to really call you out on it because you might have kept me from hangin’ out with Leslie and Piper.”

“I thought about it,” Cynthia confesses. “After Eric told me there wasn’t a chance in hell, I thought about banning you from Kappa House.”

“Why didn’t you?” I ask, even though I know the answer.

“Because that’s not how a Sorority President should behave,” she says, and I feel warm inside. “I realized I haven’t been acting like the president the girls chose, and that I needed to get my shit together. The girls have been walking on eggshells with me and that’s not how it should be. I should be someone they can turn to and lean on, not who they whisper about and treat with kid gloves.”

“Maybe you should talk to your sisters about what’s happened with your parents?” I suggest.

“I don’t want to burden them,” she mumbles. “I feel bad enough about the crap I’ve put you and Eric through the past month.”

I smile and pat her back, “Well, you can burden me all you like. I’m a good listener and I’m really great at keeping secrets.” Cynthia looks at me in surprise. “What?” I laugh.

“I just told you I’ve been trying to steal your fiancé, and you’re offering to be my shoulder to cry on?” Cynthia asks. “I was just telling you all this so you could get me back, or give me my just desserts!”

I look at her and laugh, “You thought I was goin’ to spread all this gossip about you!? No way! Hey, we all get sucker punched in life. That’s no excuse to be kicked while we’re down… And, y’know… Tellin’ me the truth really does make me like you. I’ve been callin’ you ‘Sin’ for the past month to Eric and Jason and now I feel guilty for that. I’m sorry I didn’t realize you were hurtin’ so bad!”

Cynthia chuckles, “Really? ‘Sin’? I guess I could be Lust or Envy?”

“Ooh, Sinvy!” I tease, making her laugh. “You ready to get back to the party, Sinvy?”

She nods and we both hop downstairs. We party and dance, and I’m very happy to see the relief on all the Kappas’ faces when they recognize that their leader is back in her right spirit. Eric holds me and sways in a slower pace than the music and whispers in my ear, “Telepathy is cheating, too.”

I shrug, “Hey, it’s one thing to take advantage of a game’s glitch to win; it’s a whole other thing to rewrite the game’s code to win.”

Eric rolls his eyes. I’m not lookin’ at him, but I instinctively know when he does.

On to Chapter Twenty-Nine!

Catalyst Ch. 27

Chapter Twenty-Seven: Passing Time

Sookie’s POV:

Oh, no! Save it! Save it!” Kristin squeals excitedly after her poorly-tossed Frisbee lists far from target and I’m forced to make a mad dash.

Kristin is a super-pretty blonde in my first morning class. We both have huge gaps between our two morning classes, so we’ve taken up Frisbee to pass the time. As we get better and better, we try to see how long we can go without missing a catch. Right now, we’re at thirty minutes, and she’s gone and spun it like a mad woman! Jason might have something to say about my intensity for playing games like these. Just like with pick-up football, I take sports very seriously. Diving for the Frisbee, I snatch it from about six inches off the ground, then slide almost three feet on my side.

‘Jesus, it’s just a game!’ I hear someone think in bewilderment as I sit back on my knees, the Frisbee held over my head in triumph. Kristin starts screaming excitedly, and I’m grinning hugely after I jump to my feet and lob it back to her.

We manage to go another ten minutes before she throws another wobbly disc and this time, I can’t save it. Groaning because our streak has ended, we both flop down in to the grass to catch our breath. The game was pretty intense in those last five minutes!

Kristin takes a deep breath and starts laughing, “You’re very intense with sports, huh?”

I blush guiltily, “Yeah, and I get a little mean, too.”

Really?” Kristin looks at me curiously. “I didn’t notice.”

That’s because you didn’t blame me for the miss at the end,” I laugh.

Kristin groans, “Oh, gawd! I know the types you’re talking about! The ‘future pros,’ right?”

I nod frantically, “The ones who think they’re so good, if their pass gets intercepted, it’s always the receiver’s fault, every time.”

What about the pitcher who blames the outfielders for home runs!” Kristin giggles.

Gosh, I haven’t played ball in forever!” I confess.

Really? I’m part of a softball league,” Kristin tells me. “You should try and join!”

I consider it a moment before confessing, “I used to be on my school’s softball team, but I haven’t played since my freshman year.”

It’s not like it’s the college team,” Kristin teases.

Are there any night games?” I ask optimistically.

Kristin shakes her head, “No. Sometimes we might run pretty close to dusk, but there’s no actual night games. Why?”

I shrug sadly, “My fiancé works a lot. He has a tough time getting outta work before night time.”

That’s perfect then!” Kristin beams. “That way you’ll have something to do while he’s at work!”

I mope internally. It means I would spend less time with my Bonded; no afternoon delight, no more comin’ home from classes to be pushed up against the wall by the front door and gettin’ the day’s lessons humped out of my head.

Externally, I grin and nod, “Yeah, maybe I’ll try out!”

Kristin smiles at me with a strange, knowing expression on her face, “Does your fiancé work from the house?”

Er, yeah, why?” I ask cautiously.

She shrugs and giggles, “Your eyes got a little sad and distant. I figured maybe he takes a little break from work after you get home.”

My face flushes while I quietly admit, “More than a little break.”

Kristin full-out laughs. “Well, it’s not like we practice every day, and you could always just join as a substitute. Then you don’t have to be there for every game,” she suggests.

My face brightens. It would be the best of both worlds!

That sounds great! How do I try out?” I ask.

Shrugging, Kristin tells me, “We have a practice this Saturday. I’ll let the team know I have a friend who’s interested in substituting.”

Thanks, Kristin!” I grin at her.

Which has me thinking…”

What?” I ask curiously.

Would you like to hang out some time outside of school? Maybe go for coffee?” she asks hesitantly.

That would be great,” I hope she is reassured by my tone I am not sayin’ it out of obligation.

“Cool. Maybe Thursday? We could go to Starbucks and just hang out after classes?” she suggests, now a bit more self-assured.

I think about my classes that day and tell her, “I’m out at two.”

I’m done at three-thirty,” she grimaces.

That’s okay,” I assure her. “I’ll hang with my brother until you get out.”

Kristin nods and then asks, “Do you drive?”

I shake my head, “No, Jason was supposed to teach me over the summer, but we got distracted with the engagement. Then we went to England until school started.”

Wow! You’ve been overseas?” Kristin rises off the ground and I follow. Our next classes are in the same direction, but different buildings. We always walk as far as we can before we say goodbye.

Yeah, it was our first time,” I tell her. “My fiancé took both us and his siblings.”

Okay, I want you to tell me everything about England when we go for coffee on Thursday! We’ll have to find someone to take us, though, ’cause I drive, but I don’t have a car down here,” Kristin explains.

I’m sure Jason would drop us off,” I shrug. “If we stay out until Eric’s done with work, I know he’d be happy to pick us up and take you back to campus.”

You’re sure?”

Posi-” my voice fails me as I clutch at my heart. My throat feels as though it’s closin’ and my legs go weak. It feels like part of my soul just up and vanished when Eric’s familiar, sulkin’, boredom suddenly evaporates.

I can’t feel Eric!

Kristin grabs me as my legs buckle and I choke on a sob. Now in a blind panic, I search for Eric, feelin’ for anything I can possibly find. Before I can put forth a proper search, my panic doubles and just as suddenly, I feel Eric return. I haven’t even comprehended what happened when I hear my phone buzzing.

Sookie! Are you all right?” Kristin asks me over and over.

I-I’m fine,” I tell her shakily while I fall on my bottom and dig for my phone.

What happened!?” she demands, worried and righteously so.

I think I-I bruised a rib on that divin’ catch,” I placate her once I’ve finally dug my phone out. “Go on to class. Eric’s callin’ me.”

I’m flippin’ my phone open while Kristin begins to tentatively walk away. She stops after a few feet, and I know she’s not gonna leave me behind.

E-Eric?” I answer.

“Sookie, what happened?”

You felt it, too?” I ask in a whisper.

Felt what?” Eric asks sharply.

“I couldn’t feel you in our Bond,” I cry.

I hear him sigh, and then he lets out a weird, self-deprecating, groan, “Sookie, I died for the day. I did not vanish; you just have never felt me devoid of any emotion. I was there, but you are untrained to feel me in such a state.”

So, you’re okay?” I ask nervously.

I am perfectly fine,” he assures me.

Why did you die for the day?” I press him.

Because you mentioned that my boredom has been distracting you. I thought this might make it easier for both of us. Plus, I wanted to see if I still could do it if I wanted,” he tells me. “I apologize, Dear One. If I had known it would have caused you any sort of panic, I would never have even considered-”

It’s okay. It just took me by surprise. Could you do it again, now that I know to expect it?” I request.

You are certain?” he asks hesitantly.

Yeah. Go ahead. I’ll see you when I get home.”

All right, Sookie. About one minute after you hang up, my presence will wane. Follow it as it recedes and you will be able to find me more easily,” he explains.

Okay. I love you.”

I love you, too. Have a good day, Sookie.”

You, too, Eric.”

I hang up and clutch the phone nervously while I wait. I focus intently on him and just as Eric predicted, a minute later, I feel his presence in me dwindling. However, this time I’m focused on him only and even in his death, there’s still this small part of my heart tellin’ me he’s there and he’s fine.

With a huge sigh, I rise to my feet and make my way to Kristin. She’s considerately waited for me and asks again if I’m all right.

Yeah. All the sudden my rib ached, and it took me a minute to work it out,” I offer lamely.

You scared the life out of me!” Kristin scolds. “You looked like someone had died or something!”

I snort. She has no idea that, in a way, she’s right on point. “Nah, I just couldn’t get any air for a second, and it made me panic.”

Do you want to go to the infirmary?” Kristin asks.

No, it’s not so bad now. I just don’t wanna take too deep a breath,” I am placatin’ her again, and she shakes her head.

Well, this is me. I’ll see you tomorrow!” she waves and takes the fork in the path to her next class and I continue on my way to mine.

Tomorrow,” I agree, waving goodbye.

I’ve only been at Endene a month, and I’ve already gone to my first party and now have my first coffee date with a new friend! I’m grinning throughout the rest of my day and it doesn’t even fade after I see Kappa President, Cynthia Marsters, waitin’ at my brother’s truck.

Hi, Sookie!” Cynthia greets, over-cheerfully.

Hi, Cynthia,” I just can’t take my tone to her phony level of enthusiasm, probably because the last time we were alone together, all she could think about was stealing my fiancé…

We’re throwing a party for all our new little sisters and we want you to come, too. I really wish you had pledged,” she pouts, and her thin lips look suspiciously more like a sneer.

When is it?” I ask, ignoring her comment about my lack of interest in pledging.

This Saturday, starting at eight,” she tells me. “It’s ‘after five’ attire and you should probably bring a date.”

I’ll see if Eric can free up his Saturday night,” I reply, without committing to anything.

Great!” Cynthia beams excitedly, and I can already see her fantasizin’ about talkin’ to Eric the second I step out of his sight. If it weren’t for Piper and Leslie bein’ so nice, I’d probably just tell Cynthia I wasn’t interested in attending another Kappa party for as long as I live. I remind myself that Piper is a Junior and Cynthia is a Senior. If I just tolerate Cynthia for the one year, I’ll be fine.

Hey, Cynthia,” Jason calls when he walks up to his truck. “What’s up? You waitin’ for me?” He gives her a playful wink, and I need to use my best manners, so I don’t get caught rollin’ my eyes. You can do so much better, Jason!

Actually, I was inviting your sister and her boyfriend-”

Fiancé,” Jason and I both say together. She does that on purpose!

Oh, right,” she giggles. “Sorry, it’s just that you’re only eighteen and already engaged! I’m so used to the Freshmen jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend. I’m super-jealous-”

Envious,” I correct curtly. “Jealous would mean you were worried over losin’ something that was yours. Envious is wantin’ something someone else has,” I tell her. While she blinks rapidly at me, I give her a big smile and remind her, “Sorry, I’m an English major. I guess my inner teacher just popped out!”

She laughs a bit too high and I think she’s finally caught on to the fact that I know what she’s up to. “Ha-ha, well, you’ll be a great school teacher. You jumped right on that!”

Mm-hmm,” I nod slowly.

I’ll see you Saturday for the party?” she asks, a bit put out now.

Wouldn’t miss it,” I assure her.

After she leaves, I turn to Jason and sigh. Why can’t she just back off?

Eric’s POV:

My hair was this long before? I wonder in surprise. Pam cut it to my shoulders over thirty years ago, and somehow, I forgot it had once been past my shoulder blades.

As I feel Sookie coming nearer, I feel trepidation over what her reaction may be to my longer hair. She said she wished to see it, and now I am almost fearful she will not like it. Now that it is back to its full length, my hands twist about the ends as if they have found some long-lost security blanket. I missed my hair and now that its weight is resting protectively against my back, I do not wish to part with it again.

Darlin’! I’m home!” Sookie’s voice calls to me from the front door. I pull my braid straight against my spine as not to take her by surprise.

Welcome home, Sookie,” I call. “I am in the bathroom.”

Did you shower or somethin’?” she asks, coming into the washroom and eyeing me curiously.

I have something to show you,” I tell her.

“Oh, yeah? What is it?” she asks excitedly. I reach behind my neck and pull my braid over my shoulder. Sookie squeals and claps her hands. “Ooh! It’s still wet! Can I brush and dry your hair!?” she begs like a little girl, making me laugh.

“Yes. I would like that,” I agree and allow her to lead me where she wants. She quickly grabs the hair dryer and a narrow, long-toothed comb, then hops spryly onto the counter.

Pressing my back between her legs, I slide down until I reach a height that gives her enough access to my head. My legs support my weight without protest from my awkward stance, and I close my eyes to enjoy the sensations of my Bonded tending to my hair.

She is gentle and methodical as she dries my hair, barely tugging and never burning me with the hot air. It is soothing and tranquil, being in her care. Once my hair is dry, she pushes me away, and slips off the counter in one fluid motion. Then, she is grabbing my hand again and leading me to the bedroom. She has two different brushes in her hand and several elastic bands wrapped around her thumb.

Seating me on the bed, Sookie kneels behind me and begins brushing my hair again. I feel the many soft bristles of one brush in the beginning, then a hard, plastic one, sectioning pieces of my hair bit by bit. At another point, I feel her finger-combing and pressing the pads of her fingers into my scalp while she runs her hands through my hair over and over.

All right, all done!” she declares. “Go see if you like it,” She points toward the bathroom. Curious, I go to the mirror and smile at what I see she has done. My ragged wisps of hair are tamed and lovingly cared for now. She threaded two loose braids into the flow of my hair. It is much like the way my human wife often braided my hair. “Do you like it?” Sookie calls from the bedroom.

I love it,” I tell her while I return to the room. “Do you like it?” I point to my longer hair.

Yes!” she crows happily. “I love playin’ with it,” she explains and tangles her fingers around several long strands. “I’ll have to keep my hair straight ’til it grows out more, or else it’ll look longer than mine!”

Laughing, I slowly crawl atop her body and capture her lips with mine. “Have you eaten dinner yet?” I ask between kisses.

Not yet,” she answers.

Get dressed. I will take you out for dinner,” I lean back and give her bare thigh a pat.

There’s food here,” she protests. “I can eat later.” She grabs my arm and pulls me back on top of her, wrapping her arms around my neck.

You should eat, and I have been stuck in the condo far too much lately,” I explain.

Make love to me first?” she asks sweetly, batting her eyelashes at me. Who could resist that request?

As you wish,” I smile.

“‘Princess Bride’?” she asks, hope clear to see in her big, blue, eyes.

Hmm, movie, food, or lovemaking? You have to choose one at a time, Dear One,” I chuckle.

Umm, lovemaking, then dinner, a walk, and then curl up back home with a movie, followed up by more lovemaking?” she suggests.

A full evening ahead of us then,” I chuckle and dive once more into her lips and start pushing away her clothing. “What do you want for dinner?” I ask against her mouth and she laughs while her jeans and panties drop to the floor. “What?”

One at a time, Darlin’,” she replies and pulls away from my lips to lick a warm trail against my throat. Her feet dance for a moment while she toes off her shoes, then steps out of her bottoms.

With that, I clasp my hands beneath her rear and look around the room, trying to decide where to take her. We need more furniture, even if it is only purchased for a new surface to make love on. Suddenly, I remember the one room in the entire condo we have never had each other in, and I make a straight line for the entryway closet.

Where are you taking me!?” she giggles when I walk to the coat closet and fling open the door. From the inside of the closet, the frame of the door is within reaching distance of Sookie’s legs.

Hold onto me,” I tell her, and she happily wraps her arms and legs tightly around my body. I push the garments hanging in the closet aside until I can press Sookie tightly against the wall. “Hold me with only your arms, stretch your legs behind me, locking them against the doorframe,” I instruct her.

Sookie’s eyes light up when she does as I suggest. Her legs tense as she tries to push back against the wall. One of my hands grabs her bottom to support some of her weight and the other traces its thumb between her thighs. She is already becoming wet, so I go to my knees. She remains suspended above me, but I allow her to brace most of her weight on my raised hands. I feel as if I am praying, my upturned hands in supplication to my own personal Goddess. As my mouth descends upon her sex and I drink in the sweet ambrosia of her well, I know I am in the presence of a Goddess.

Eric, Eric,” she moans, and I hear the creak of the drywall as she pushes with her legs. “Eric, I can’t cum like this,” she whimpers, and I feel her thighs begin to tremble. The drywall gives another groan, and I know it is time to give her limbs a break. Immortal body or not, it is still physically weak. She has the strength and endurance of a human woman, but not an Olympian.

Rising to my feet, I hold Sookie up with my power alone. I hold her body tightly to mine, rocking her slick pussy against my lower abdominals until she is trembling in my arms. When her teeth start nipping at my throat and I feel her hands tugging impatiently at my hair, I end the torment and reach between us to guide my cock to her entrance.

She writhes as I sink deeply inside, moaning and tugging sharply at my earlobe while simultaneously tugging my hair. I chuckle, seeing as her actions are very telling. Sookie often does to me what she wants done to herself.

Reaching behind her, I twist her hair around my fist and pull her head to the side. She moans as my hips undulate slowly against hers. The friction of our flesh becomes smoother while the little tug increases her arousal. With her ear now exposed to me, I gently trace it with my tongue and feel the muscles of her womb begin to grip me. I scrape the shell of her ear with my teeth and they clench harder. I pull the lobe into my mouth and the contractions almost synchronize with the suckling of my mouth. Finally, my teeth nip the fleshy part of her ear and Sookie howls with an orgasm that earns my own answering roar.

Maybe,” she pants against my ear, “I should stretch before sex.”

I chuckle and kiss the soft spot behind her ear, “You should probably start working out, too.”

Am I gettin’ fat?” she asks, alarmed suddenly.

No, but for all the things I want to do with you, building some more endurance would be a good idea,” I explain.

She sighs softly with exhaustion, “Yeah, you might be onto somethin’ there.”

Slowly, I lower Sookie to her feet, slipping from her liquid embrace, longing to return to it. Sookie saunters out of the closet with that delicious roll of her hips that is only so prevalent after sex. She disappears into our bedroom, and then I hear the shower.

I follow her, only jumping in long enough to rinse off, and give her delicious bottom a playful smack.

Sookie swats my chest angrily before shoving me out of the shower. “That hurt, Eric!” she chastises me and I can feel her annoyance as she steps out of the shower.

I am sorry, Dear One,” I apologize playfully, seeing my pink handprint on her bottom. I fall to my knees behind her and kiss the angered flesh. “Do you forgive me?” I kiss my handprint again before raining kisses all along her backside.

“Eric,” she groans. “I’m never gonna eat if I gotta shower again.”

This is just for you, by way of apology,” I assure her. Sookie bends over the sink while I widen her stance.

After I bring her to orgasm, Sookie has her cat-with-cream grin firmly in place. She then dresses, her eyes hooded in complete satisfaction.

On to Chapter Twenty-Eight!

Catalyst Ch. 26

Chapter Twenty-Six: New

Sookie’s POV:

Your fiancé is such a badass!” Cynthia tells me while she and Piper lead me upstairs to her room.

He really is,” I agree shyly.

She flings her closet door open and starts flipping through t-shirts. Piper hands me a pale blue tee and I strip off my bloodied shirt and replace it with the clean one. “Here, I’ll go throw this in some cold water before it stains,” she offers, taking my dirty shirt.

Thank you,” I call gratefully.

So,” Cynthia turns to me once Piper’s gone, “when did you meet Eric?”

Back in December,” I tell her. I’m not a huge fan of Cynthia, but she’s Kappa House president, so I can’t really ignore her without being snubbed by the entire sorority.

And you’re already engaged?” Cynthia asks in surprise.

Yup. We got engaged in June, but we’re not getting married until next December,” I explain. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was preggers or anything.”

Hmm.” We need to get him to some of our parties. Maybe I can get that rock off her finger that way.

It takes years of practice not to respond to her thought. It is particularly vicious, and I can tell it’s not a fleeting one. I officially don’t like Cynthia, I frown.

Piper comes back quickly and tells me she managed to rinse out most of the blood and will let my shirt soak until I leave. She offers to run it with her wash and give it back later, but I decline her offer. Piper’s been nice enough to me already.

I spend the rest of the night hangin’ out with the Kappa Sisters and a few pledges. They try again to encourage me to pledge. Cynthia’s almost made it her mission to enlist me, but I know it’s because she wants to wedge herself between Eric and me. Like that could ever happen!

At some point, Jason’s had enough and he tells me it’s time to say goodnight. I hug a few of the girls goodbye, and then follow him back to his truck.

I’m sorry I didn’t keep that from happenin’, Sook,” he apologizes sadly, thinkin’ of my nose.

I shrug, “It’s not a big deal. You can’t stop every guy from bein’ a jerk. Besides, if I’d managed to keep my temper in check, maybe we could have avoided the whole thing.”

“Nah, he was lookin’ for something to rattle my cage all night. He just figured you was the way to do it,” Jason sighs.

Sometimes I think you’re the telepath,” I joke.

Once we arrive at the condo, I hug my brother goodbye, and he waits until I’m in the door to pull away. I throw my purse on the entryway table, and search our Bond for my vampire. He’s pretty far West of me, so I know he’s at the warehouse, doin’ his Sheriff thing.

Pullin’ off my clothes, I go and run a hot bath. When I start to prune, that’s when Eric shows up in the doorway.

Did you have fun after I left?” he asks, comin’ to kneel next to the tub. His hand reaches into the water and takes one of mine, examining how it’s begun to shrivel.

Yeah. I don’t like the Kappa president. She wants to steal you from me,” I poke my tongue out playfully.

Is that so?” he laughs. “Was that the one with the black hair?”

Yes. How did you know?” I frown.

She was giving me ‘the look’,” He shrugs.

“Eric, I’m sure more girls than her were givin’ ya ‘the look’,” I tease.

Yes, but hers was more… Intentional. She was trying to convey something to me,” he explains.

Really now?” I frown again, more than a little peeved.

Are you jealous?” he asks amusedly.

No. I’m annoyed,” I tell him.

Hmm, it feels like jealousy to me,” he taunts and lifts me out of the tub. “You are shriveling up in there. Let me get you dry,” He sets me on the bath mat and starts toweling me off.

You’re usually more intent on gettin’ me wet, not dry,” I grin up at him.

Oh, Sultry Sookie tonight. I approve,” he shares my grin and leans down to kiss me. “Is your school work caught up?”

Mmm-hmm,” I reply with a breathy moan.

A woman who keeps up on her studies should be rewarded,” he says thoughtfully, “and I did tell you I would give you a sample of my abilities with rope.” My breath catches at that and I feel myself beginning to pant.

Without another word, Eric picks me up and carries me to bed. He throws me down on the mattress hard enough to make me bounce a couple times and I giggle. I watch him walk out of the bedroom and return moments later with a length of rope.

I am only going to tie your hands to the headboard,” he tells me as he straddles my waist. “It is a good, versatile binding. I will be able to flip you from your back to your front that way.”

I nod silently as he takes the rope, pulls my arms together, and starts wrappin’ them up. The knot feels loose, and I mean real loose. I could slip my wrists out of it super easy.

Or at least I thought I could until he pulls the rope between my arms and turns the loop into shackles.

Wiggle your fingers,” Eric tells me. I do so confusedly. “How does that feel? Is the rope rubbing you when you move your fingers?” I shake my head. It’s actually pretty comfy. The notch between my wrists is acting like a spacer, so my shoulders aren’t drawn in at all.

Once Eric knows I’m perfectly comfortable, he pushes me onto my back and starts securin’ me to the headboard, which is easy ’cause it’s got slats with just enough space to feed the rope through. He piles some pillows against the headboard, I think to keep me from bonkin’ myself.

All you should feel is immobilized now,” Eric tells me. “You should not be uncomfortable. Your arms might begin to ache from being above your head, but nothing is supposed to hurt.”

Okay,” I tell him uncertainly. He has our Bond to know if I’m hurting or uncomfortable. I don’t know why he’s tellin’ me all this. Am I supposed to let him know rather than just assuming he’ll stop when he feels me hurtin’ in the Bond?

You told me you did not want to be hurt,” Eric says. “I do not want you frightened that something I may do to you might be painful,” he explains at my confusion.

Oh, okay,” I smile up at him. “So, this is gonna be like when you make love to me, only I can’t wrap my arms around you?”

Eric grins down at me, “Not exactly, but I do not want to ruin anything for either of us.” With that, he hops off me. “I am just going to grab something.”

He disappears into the bathroom, and I squirm. I’m naked, maybe a little cold from bein’ damp from my earlier bath, and now I’m tied up in bed. My hips rotate a bit, but I know it’s not from the cold. It’s like my body’s getting restless while I am forced to wait for my Bonded to return.

Eric returns then, naked, and holdin’ a bottle of massage oil. Oh good, I forgot to moisturize after my bath! I think suddenly.

He comes back to the bed, straddles me again, and pours a good amount of oil directly on my sternum. I flinch away at the first drop ’cause it feels cold, but then his cool hands are rubbin’ against my hot skin, and the friction warms me. He coats me in a very thin layer of oil, my breasts, underarms, all the way up to where my wrists are tied.

Then he pours more oil on my sternum and rubs it across my breasts again, then my ribs, and my belly. He pushes against my lower abdomen, making me clench my inner walls in response to the pressure on my uterus. I moan at the pleasant squeeze inside me, never having noticed the connection before.

Each leg gets its own oil. He starts at one foot and works his way up to the crease of my inner thigh and the thicker lips of my pussy, but that’s it. He barely even clips my center before switching to the other leg and repeating the process.

After both legs are massaged, Eric flips me over. It’s almost like an afterthought, ’cause there’s no real gentleness in it. I can almost hear him thinking, ‘Oh, I have covered her entire front with oil. Better get the other side!’

Eric spends a lot more time on my back than he did on my entire front, kneadin’, strokin’, and just pushin’ his palms into my shoulders and along my spine. I feel boneless and relaxed by the time he’s started bendin’ my knees so that my butt’s up in the air.

I feel his thumb strokin’ against my slit, and I wriggle my bottom impatiently. I can feel how wet I am when he does that. It makes me feel even more excited, ’cause I didn’t know I was gettin’ so turned on durin’ my massage. I was too distracted by how relaxed he was makin’ me, I had no idea things had turned into a slip ‘n’ slide down there!

Feel how wet you are, Sookie?” Eric asks me softly. “That is all you, Dear One. No oil, no saliva, all of this is you…”

I moan as his finger slides smoothly inside me. I gasp when there’s a second. I’m panting for the third, and full-on grunting with his pinky squeezin’ in there.

Oooh,” I sob into the mattress when his thumb starts strokin’ my nub. His fingers are fillin’ me so much, and that sweet spot inside me is getting a boat load of attention!

For the first time, I’m feelin’ the ropes, and I want to wrap myself around something. I want to curl my hands into the bedding. I want to reach between my thighs and rake my nails up his forearm. I don’t exactly know what I want, but I need it, and I can’t have it with my arms bound.

That’s when I feel his tongue on my backdoor. He gives it a teasing lick and I feel my knee slide out from under me.

Now, now,” Eric chuckles at me. “Keep those knees right here.” He pushes my leg back into position with his free hand while the one buried in my pussy continues to pump against me and tease my clit.

As if I hadn’t just broken his concentration, Eric puts his mouth back against my bottom. His tongue’s tracin’ and pressin’ against my ring, and I’m real glad I’ve just had a bath.

Of course, once I stop thinkin’ too much about it, I realize it feels really good, like, sinfully good, which is the best kind!

I am really starting to enjoy myself when some of the pressure eases from my center. It takes me a second to register that a finger’s gone missing, and then it takes me only a fraction of that to realize it’s pushin’ into my butt.

It slides in real smooth though, and I can tell from the pressure I’ve lost in one hole and gained in another that it’s only his pinky. And Lord, it’s movin’ in time with the digits thrustin’ into my center! It feels so good… I’m pullin’ at my ropes like I’m tryin’ to climb away from the pleasure.

Are you enjoying yourself, Sookie?” Eric asks teasingly and I know it’s rhetorical because I haven’t stopped making pleasurable noises since he started goin’ to work on me. Still, I do manage a slightly sharper whimper after he asks. “That much?” he taunts softly, and I feel his hand speed up behind me. I don’t even know what noise is comin’ outta me now, but it’s somethin’ that gets the neighbors stompin’ above us. “Yes, Sookie,” Eric growls as I start to cum.

I never really noticed that my bottom did anything when I climaxed, but with his little finger in there I can feel the contractions in my rectum as well as my vagina. I feel both walls squeeze around his fingers, and it makes the orgasm last even longer.

Very nice,” Eric approves once my body finally starts to calm down. “That was a nice, long one you had.”

I whimper as his fingers slowly ease out of me, and I moan at their loss. Then he’s gone from the bed, and I turn my head to see him walk into our bathroom. Water runs for a short time and then he’s back. Eric pats my bottom in greeting when he returns. He grabs me by my hips and unceremoniously flips me once again onto my back.

Eric straddles my chest, and I feel my arms get jerked back into place after I instinctively reach for him. I moan sadly at the restriction, but it soon turns into an indulgent one when Eric grabs my breasts and starts squeezin’ them. It’s slow and all-encompassing at first, kneadin’ the entire breast, workin’ inward until he’s just pinchin’ and tuggin’ at my nipples.

The massage oil is back, and Eric pours a generous amount between my breasts and along his cock that’s been resting hard and rigid against my sternum. He squeezes my boobs around his shaft and starts movin’ his hips slowly, so his cock is pumping into my cleavage. Even though I have a full set of twins, Eric still manages to only need one hand to squeeze them around himself.

Open your mouth, Sookie,” Eric whispers. After I do and his fingers approach, I know he’s gonna gag me. “Ten seconds,” he reminds me, “and I will make you cum very, very hard again.”

I know my eyes light up when he makes this promise because he’s done it to me every day since that first time and every congratulatory orgasm I’ve earned has been just as earth shattering as the first.

His fingers find a new spot in my throat to stimulate and I choke and gag repeatedly. I don’t pull away, but my eyes are watering just like they always do. His cock slippin’ between my breasts make a nice metronome though, and I count his thrusts until his fingers withdraw on their own.

“You are getting so good at that, Dear One,” Eric praises me as he gives my nipples a hard tug and finally stops holding them around his length. He leans down and kisses me, and I’m relieved that his breath tastes minty. He must have swished some mouthwash while he cleaned his hands. My Bonded is considerate. “Are you ready for your reward?” he asks softly.

Yes!” I gasp.

I am going to untie you for it. I can feel your longing,” Eric whispers.

Thank you,” I murmur in relief while he reaches over my head and unties my bindings so quickly, it’s almost dizzying.

Next thing I know, my thighs are shoved open, and Eric is pushin’ himself inside me. Only… It’s shallow, like, just the tip. I feel my teeth clench in frustration, ’cause not long ago, his fingers had been deeper inside me. This is almost torture, just havin’ the swollen head of his cock tauntin’ me with shallow, unfulfilling, thrusts.

I wrap my legs over his hips and try to encourage him deeper, but my weak limbs can’t make Eric do a darn thing he doesn’t want to! I grab his arms and dig my nails into his forearms pleadingly, still flexing my legs in a vain attempt to earn more depth from his strokes. Anything, but he keeps it to empty provocation of my needs.

Please,” I beg when it goes on for far too long. He’s not even playin’ with my clit to counteract the fact he’s not even fucking me. “Eric?” Please? Why are you doing this? Wasn’t I good? Didn’t I do what you wanted?

Suddenly, he’s buried to the hilt. A thick, guttural sound rips past my throat at the unexpected impact, but I’ve long since stopped caring about the not-so-ladylike-sounds he fucks out of me.

He’s stayin’ in fast and deep, and he’s gotta wrap me up in his arms to keep me from escapin’ the John Mellencamp-inspired collision of our sexes. He’s kissin’ my face, neck, and eyes. I can’t keep track of his lips, he’s kissin’ everywhere he can reach! Then, right as I start to feel my orgasm building, his fangs are in my throat, and his fingers are rubbin’ my earlobe.

I think I scream ‘FUCK!’, but I could be wrong because, as usual, my reward fuck has completely robbed me of any recollection of the split second that preludes the explosion. Now, I’m starin’ up at Eric with a shell-shocked expression and pantin’ like I’ve just been traumatized.

His smile is the sweetest smile I have ever known. It’s soft and knowing, almost apologetic.

This is the only way I enjoy seeing tears in your eyes, Dear One,” he whispers, kissin’ away the tears drippin’ down my cheeks. “Are you happy? Did you enjoy that?” he asks, runnin’ his hand up and down my body soothingly.

So much,” I tell him, not quite certain why he asks and explains things when he can feel everything I do. “Why do you ask me stuff like that when you can feel me?” I wonder aloud.

He smiles his sweet, apologetic smile again, falls to his back on the bed, and pulls me across his chest. “Because it is just as important to hear it as it is to feel it. It is like asking me to feel without seeing. Why only desire the satisfaction of one sense and not all five?”

I giggle because it makes a lot of sense, and, in a way, it’s really nice to know that he takes nothin’ for granted.

I love you, Darlin’,” I tell him.

Smiling, he leans in and kisses my lips, “As I love you, Dear One.” He’s right, hearing those words is glorious in their own way. I feel his love all day long, but a completely different thrill fills me when they are whispered intimately against my ear…

Eric’s POV:

Being Bonded is very distracting, I am quickly beginning to realize.

I am lying in our bed, watching my Sookie zip back and forth, preparing for classes. Admittedly, I tend to make her late, but I cannot resist. Knowing I spend the entire day analyzing and critiquing every little emotion that passes through her, it makes me want to keep her in bed with me. I want to keep her in the one place where I know what every little emotional fluctuation means.

Love you, Darlin’,” Sookie tells me as she flings her bag over her shoulder, leans in, and kisses me goodbye. I wrap my hand in her hair and she pulls away with an indulgent laugh. “I have to go to classes. No more of your sexy trickery this morning!”

One of these days, I may need to sneak on to campus and try my afternoon sexy trickery,” I tease, rising to kiss her once more. Her eyes light up, and an adorable blush covers her cheeks. I love seeing that adventurous flush on her cheeks. “I love you,” I finally tell her. “Have a good day at school.”

She gives me one more grin and it turns sheepish when Jason honks from the street. With that, she flies out of the condo, and I flop back on to the bed. My impatience is growing daily. Awaiting Jason’s metamorphosis and the freedoms it will bring us is beyond frustrating. I find myself needing to be reminded that I am over a thousand-years-old and a few years is not all that long. Jason is being generous, wanting to be turned before we are too close to the precipice of the Great Revelation. It will give him a year to acclimate before he is trying to appear human both night and day.

I should tell him to tan as much as his sister prior to being turned…

Regardless of Jason’s generosity, it is still difficult, especially with my beautiful Bonded being unable to spend some of her days with me when she needs to be out of the condo. I would love to attend a farmer’s market with her, or walk hand-in-hand through the park on a brilliant, sunny day. Hell, it does not even need to be an outdoor activity! We could go to the cinema or the library if it was daytime, and I would simply be a husband spending the day with his wife.

Jumping out of bed, I find my laptop and begin typing a list of things I want to do with Sookie once I am free to be out in public during the day. I start with the big things, such as traveling the world and seeing its splendor in the light of day, watching her beautiful, adventurous, grin in the sunlight while I show her The Great Pyramids and many other temples.

By the time I look at the clock again, I find that barely an hour has passed, and I have a forty-two-page agenda typed, and my phone is ringing.

Yes, Pam?” I answer, still reeling at the list I made.

I’m bored,” My Child pouts.

Were you not learning Japanese to pass the time?” I ask curiously.

But it is so nice out today!” Pam whines at me in the way she knows I cannot stand.

Pamela,” I sigh, “we have been given a tremendous gift. You must learn to respect the boundaries of that gift until the time we are free of those limitations.”

I know this!” Pam snaps. “That does not make the waiting any easier!”

I have been writing a list of things I am looking forward to doing-”

I did that forever ago!” Pam tells me impatiently.

How long is yours?” I ask curiously.

Seventy-some pages,” she tells me. “I add a little more every day as I think of things, but I was around fifty when I lost steam.”

I finished forty-two in just under an hour,” I offer.

Pam groans, “I hate idle chit-chat.”

She tells me this as if I am unaware. Pam is terrible at killing time, and I have been checking my credit cards constantly just to be certain she is not spending like a mad woman to pass her days. Thankfully, there has only been a moderate increase in her daily spending. However, my definition of ‘moderate’ regarding Pam is very steep. She has gone from roughly eight thousand dollars to about fourteen and a half weekly. I suppose I should be grateful…

My conversation with Pam tapers, so she eventually scoffs and hangs up after there is silence for a solid fifteen minutes. It cannot be helped. I am currently going over our Bloodline’s financials as well as reviewing paperwork on one of my dozens of companies. Pam thinks she is my workhorse for these businesses but the truth is, she merely gets stuck with everything I have already reviewed. A second pair of eyes as it were.

Once I am caught up on my work, I look at the clock and moan that only another two hours have passed. That means three more hours until my Bonded is back in my arms.

I need a damn hobby, I think in frustration as I slam my laptop shut.

On to Chapter Twenty-Seven!

Catalyst Ch. 25

Chapter Twenty-Five: School Days, Weekend Parties

Jason’s POV:

I pick up my sister at the condo and Good Lord, she looks bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! She saunters up to my truck with a grin I ain’t ever seen before and hops in with a contented sigh.

You ready for today?” I ask as I pull out and head toward campus.

Yup! I’m super excited,” She beams, planting her book bag between her feet.

You know where all your classes are?” I ask.

Yes, Jason,” she giggles. “When are you gonna start givin’ me drivin’ lessons again?” she asks.

I shrug. I kinda like that she doesn’t know how to drive all that well yet. It gives me an excuse to spend this time with her.

We could always carpool,” She points out, havin’ caught my thought.

I know, I know,” I grumble. Sometimes her gift can be real annoyin’, now that she doesn’t have to hide it from me. I can’t wait to be a vampire, then she’ll treat me just like all the other vamps she can’t hear. “Did you sleep last night?”

For the most part,” she replies and this enigmatic, feminine smile tugs at her lips. Ugh, I don’t want to know any more about that!

You think we’ll ever be able to talk all candid about this stuff like Godric, Eric, and Pam?” I ask ruefully.

I don’t know,” she says thoughtfully. “It might be a good, long while before we can, but I’m sure it’ll happen.”

Once we arrive on campus, I give Sooks a hug and then we go our separate ways. We agreed ahead of time to meet at the cafeteria for lunch, and I look forward to hearin’ about the first half of her day.

My first classes of the day are pretty borin’. I spent the week readin’ over some of my textbooks, but most of my classes are all about lesson planning and building a curriculum. Understanding state education requirements and all that bureaucratic crap is also part of my coursework, but it’s what I need to finish my Bachelor’s degree.

By the time lunch rolls around, I’m sittin’ with a big tray of food to split with Sookie. She eventually comes moping into the room, much less energetic than this mornin’.

What’s up, Sook?” I ask at her expression.

Everyone keeps starin’ at my engagement ring,” She pouts sadly. She leans in and whispers, “They keep thinkin’ crap like ‘high school sweetheart’ and ‘doomed marriage’…”

I wave my hand at that, tryin’ to dispel her gloom, “Whatever. They don’t know you or Eric. Tell ’em to suck it.”

I know,” she sighs and starts diggin’ into our lunch. “There’s a girl in my English Lit class who thought it was pretty cute I was engaged. She was thinkin’ it in the not mean way, so I think I’ll try to sit by her next time.”

There ya go!” I laugh.

Her mood brightens considerably after that and we enjoy our lunches. We joke and laugh until it’s time to head for our next classes. She’s comin’ with me to my first football practice afterward, and Eric’s planning on meetin’ us there once the sun goes down.

Hey, Stackhouse!” Harley, our team’s tailback, comes running up to me.

Hey, Harley,” I greet.

I just heard the Kappas are having their rush party this weekend. You think your sister would want to go?” he asks.

I doubt she’d wanna pledge,” I confess. “She’s engaged now and livin’ with her boyfriend. Kappas don’t really like their girls bein’ in big, committed relationships, let alone their pledges.”

Yeah, I know,” Harley replies, “but the whole team’s invited to the party, and I thought since she’d have all of us there, you might let your ‘Papa Bear’ thing go. It’d be good for her to go to a real sorority party. Hell, it’d be good for you, too! You’ve never been to a Greek party before,” he points out.

I’ll have to ask her fiancé about it,” I tell him.

She needs permission to go to a party?” Harley frowns.

I shrug, “Not really. I just don’t wanna blindside the guy, y’know?”

Hey, I promise, she won’t get a lick of booze,” Harley holds his hand up in a ‘Scout’s Honor’ pose. “Whole team will keep an eye on her. It’ll be fine.”

Let me just call him real quick before anyone mentions it to Sooks,” I mumble, reachin’ for my phone.

What is it, Jason?” Eric’s voice comes over the line. “Are you well?”

Doin’ great,” I answer. “Um, one of my teammates just invited me and Sook to a party this weekend and I wanted to know if you’d be cool with lettin’ her go with me and the team. We’ll all keep an eye on her, and you know she don’t like drinkin’-”

Eric cuts me off, laughing, “You are asking me if your sister may go to a party? Did she ask you to do this?”

Well, I haven’t told her yet,” I reply.

That is surprising,” Eric tells me.

I know, I know,” I groan. “With everything that’s gone on the last few months, though, I don’t want to rock your lil’ paradise. Would it cause a fight if she wanted to go?”

Am I invited?” he asks, sounding all amused.

I guess?” I don’t really know how the Greeks would feel about him bein’ there. “It’s a sorority rush party.”

Then I am probably not invited,” Eric laughs again. “If Sookie wants to attend, I will not complain. You just keep an eye on your sister.”

Cool. I’ll talk to her about it on the way to practice,” I tell him. Harley looks at me expectantly after I hang up. “He’s totally cool with it. We just gotta keep an eye on her.”

This is going to be so cool!” Harley whoops. “Your first Greek party!”

I roll my eyes at his excitement, but laugh, and then head to my next class. The rest of the day flies by and then I’m meeting my sister at the truck to go to practice.

How was the rest of your day?” I ask, pullin’ outta my spot.

Real good, actually,” she smiles. “I had much less catty people in my afternoon classes. I even had some from earlier this morning, and they were a lot nicer than my early classes. Maybe it was just a shock for me to be engaged, but they had acclimated by lunch?” she wonders aloud.

That’s good. Harley invited us to the Kappa rush party this weekend,” I tell her.

Oh?” she looks uncertain.

I hope you don’t mind, but I kinda called Eric before I told you about it. I wanted to make sure if you wanted to go he wouldn’t be upset about it,” I confess.

Would you have told me even if he was upset?” she asks me.

Sure,” I shrug. “Then at least it would have given you until nightfall to figure out how to talk it out with him…and he woulda had time to think about it, too.”

She smiles at me, “I think it would be pretty cool.”

The whole team’s gonna be babysitting you,” I warn. “Not so nice things can happen at college parties, Sook. Don’t accept any drinks from any guys.”

Sookie laughs and nods, “I’m sure it’ll be fine. Besides, I got this,” She taps her head.

Parties like these can get pretty packed,” I explain. “You’ve told me the more crowded it is, the more stuff you miss unless you’re focused on someone.”

That makes her frown, “I won’t accept any drinks from guys, unless they’re your teammates,” she promises.

I relax at her promise, “Thanks.”

We make it to the stadium and Larry, my former co-worker, waves at me happily, “Hey, Stackhouse. You’re lookin’ great!”

Thanks, Larry,” I grin at him. “I’m excited to have our first practice.”

How’s the shoulder?” he whispers.

Like it’s brand new. I saw a doc at the end of last year and she took real good care of it,” I tell him. “It’s like it never knew pain a day in its life.”

And the shooting?” he asks softly.

Old news,” I assure him. “I’m good to go, man.”

Glad to hear it,” Larry waves us through and Sookie finds a spot on the bench to start reviewing her class work. She’s already got a five-hundred-page novel to read and report on for her literature class. Makes me glad I was a History major. Then again, she probably woulda died havin’ to read all the biographies I had to.

The whole practice is like a dream. Coach Murphy is whoopin’ and hollerin’ at seein’ my passes, and the team is dog pilin’ me for every clean pass over sixty yards. The new freshmen QB stomps off at some point and I just roll my eyes. Little prick probably thought he’d be startin’ ’cause of my shoulder after last year.

When I get scooped up after the most recent pile on, I see Eric comin’ on to the field to sit next to Sookie.

Dude, is that Sook’s fiancé?” Josh, our defensive tackle, asks.

Yup,” I nod.

Damn, she’s all grown up, Stackhouse,” another of my teammates sounds forlorn. Sookie’s become the team’s little sister, too, over the past three years. “She looks head over heels for him, though,” he offers.

I laugh and roll my eyes, “God, you have no idea.”

Didn’t y’all go to England over summer vacation?” Riley asks.

“Yeah. It was sorta an engagement trip for the two of them. Eric’s brother and sister came, too,” I tell them.

Ain’t Eric’s sister the one who drove you home on your twenty-first?” Josh asks.

Shit, I don’t even remember that night, but probably.”

You hit it?” Riley presses.

Not that night I didn’t,” I laugh.

But you have?” the guys are crowdin’ me.

She’s so fuckin’ hot, Bro. Tell me you hit that,” one of them pleads.

The whistle is blowin’ and Coach is tryin’ to get our attention, but the guys ain’t lettin’ up.

Is she as good as she looks?”

Is all that tit real?”

Fuck my life.

Very real,” I hear a familiar voice behind me and turn to see Pam smirkin’. I realize that Coach was blowin’ his whistle to get Pam to not go on the field.

Hey, Pam,” I grin at her sheepishly.

Stackhouse,” She nods.

I didn’t realize you were comin’ with Eric,” I tell her uncomfortably.

Are you going to answer that boy’s question, Stackhouse?” Pam asks me, giving a devilish grin.

Uh, which one?” I ask.

Am I as good as I look?”

My posture loosens, “Pam, you know that’s a bullshit question. You get any better and I’d break my hip.”

She just grins at me and heads toward the bench. The whole team’s heads tilt as one and I roll my eyes.

Are you two dating?” Riley whispers.

Nah, we just use each other for sex,” I reply and the whole team groans.

Pam’s POV:

I do an excellent job of distracting the entire team while Eric scoops his little Bonded away for privacy. He already has a secluded, off-camera, area selected for a quick fuck. However, he needed to distract the team, especially her brother, from their disappearing act.

Without much interest, I sit on the team’s bench and watch the practice. Over the past two months, I have been conniving to make Stackhouse permit his metamorphosis as early as possible.

I want the sunlight. All the time!

Unfortunately, I cannot have what I desire if Jason is mortal. It would be too dangerous. Some vampire may try to kill or turn him to hurt us since it would be the easiest means of doing so. Currently, no one desires us much ill will since we mostly play nice with others. Sure, others may not like us, and we have more than our fair share of enemies. However, we do not have much to be envied, and, therefore, no attacks have sprung.

That will all change once it becomes known that we have the most coveted abilities, not just among vampires, but all creatures. Immortality, brute strength, uncanny senses, and imperceptible speed; all those without any limitations. No sun, silver, garlic, or stake will ever make us hesitate again. All right, garlic still smells revolting, but whatever! Garlic is to us what dog shit is to humans, unpleasant and lingering.

The only reason I have not unleashed one of my plans upon Stackhouse and begun to seduce him to an earlier transformation is simple. The Great Revelation is only four years away, and he has already agreed to be turned before then. Depriving him of four years of human experiences makes me feel something that seems suspiciously like sadness.

Despite the fact he will not be condemned to darkness like the rest of us were for so long, becoming a vampire is still a major adjustment; the sights, the scents, the sounds, but especially the desires. Although I do not see Jason as potentially becoming overly impulsive, it is still a possibility.

You are thinking very hard, Pamela,” Eric murmurs when he seats himself beside me. He pulls Sookie into his side, and I note the blush across her cheeks and sated drooping of her eyelids.

I still marvel at how your Bonded and her brother have recalibrated the way I make decisions,” I reply.

They do manage it subtly,” Eric agrees, burying his nose in Sookie’s hair. She giggles, twining her fingers into his hair.

Yes,” I smile and look out to the field. “I heard you are going to your first college party, Sookie?”

Yup. It’s a rush party,” She nods. “I’m not gonna pledge or anything, but I’m going in with the team just to see what it’s like. Jason said I can’t accept drinks from any guys not on the football team, though.”

A wise suggestion,” Eric agrees.

You’re not gonna stake out the sorority, are you?” she asks Eric worriedly.

He sighs and shakes his head, “No. I want you to have fun, and that would be difficult if I was leering over you all night. I might check in on my way to the warehouse, though,” he confesses.

Sookie smiles up at him and gives Eric a kiss that makes me roll my eyes. I don’t believe I will ever find a Bonded if that’s what I will turn into!

Jason’s POV:

Come on, Sook!” I holler, bangin’ on the condo door. “We’re gonna be late!”

Eric opens the door and grins down at me. “My fault, Stackhouse,” he says, and I notice his pants are unbuttoned. All I can do is roll my eyes. Holy crap! I rolled my eyes at the sex antics! It’s happening!

Whatever,” I laugh. “Sook, you ready to go?” I watch my sister come strollin’ over in a cute fitted t-shirt and some Bermuda shorts, comin’ down almost to her knees. I’ve been spendin’ too much time with Pam if I know what those shorts are called. She’s got a pair of chucks on and she looks cute as a bug! “You’re wearin’ that?” I ask hopefully.

Yeah,” she looks down at her choice. “Is it okay?”

It’s perfect!” I cheer and take her hand. “See ya, Eric!”

Bye, Darlin’!” Sookie kisses him real quick and then we head to the truck.

You’re sure what I’m wearin’ is okay?” she asks again while we’re driving back to campus.

It’s perfect, Sook. You ain’t lookin’ for a hook up, you’re lookin’ to have fun. No need to wear a dress and heels for that, right?” I remind her.

But, I still look nice?” she asks.

You look adorable,” I assure her.

Sookie worries her lip between her teeth. “You think other girls will talk to me, dressed like this?” she asks.

Probably more so ’cause they won’t see ya as a threat in the guy pool,” I tell her.

Really?” she asks hopefully. “I really want to make some real friends now that I have time to be social. I never got to do that in high school.”

I know, Baby Sis,” I give her a sad smile.

“It’s okay, though,” she tells me quickly. “I still got to hang out with some real nice people, and they treated me great-”

But now you get to do all the social stuff,” I finish for her. “I get it, Sook. It’s okay.”

We arrive at the sorority house, and I can see four of my teammates clamberin’ outta a nearby pick-up. A few more are strollin’ down from the frat houses.

Hey, Sook!” Josh scoops up my sister in a big hug. “Look at you! You’re engaged! Let’s see that rock up close.”

Sookie giggles and holds out her hand. Josh leans in and whistles, “Woo-eee! You could drill to China with that thing!”

My sister chokes on a laugh and gives Josh another big hug, “I missed you this summer.”

Missed you, too, Kid,” he smiles as we all head into the house.

JASON STACKHOUSE!” Terry, second string quarterback and freshman, throws his arms in the air. “I get to party with the Jason Stackhouse!”

I laugh tightly. I don’t like Terry. He’s one of those braindead jocks who thinks he’s gonna play in the pros one day. Doesn’t give a shit about his education and I hate to be an ass, but he doesn’t have pro quality. Shit, I’m not even pro quality, but I sure as hell made first string my Freshman year. Then again, he might have if I still had last year’s shoulder on our first practice. Coach probably had him on the sidelines ready to take over, but got a real surprise when I came out swingin’. I’ll have to ask Sook if the boy gotta grudge about that.

Hi, I’m Piper Disanto! Are you pledging?” A bubbly blonde asks my sis.

Uh, no,” Sookie shakes her head. “I’m here with my brother and the team,” she explains, pointing to me.

You’re Sookie! Oh, my gosh!” she squeals. “Aw, I remember seein’ ya on the bench with your brother all the time. Girly, you grew up so much! Look at you!” She starts spinning my sister around and ’round. “You were such a string bean the last three years and now, look at you! I bet you gotta beat the boys away with a stick.”

Sookie shakes her head with a giggle, “Actually, I’m engaged now, so the ring kinda does that for me,” she smiles cutely.

Engaged? Oooh, let me see!” Piper reaches for Sookie’s hand. “Oh. My. Gawd! That is the most beautiful engagement ring I’ve ever seen in my entire life! We totally should show Cynthia! C’mon!”

I watch amusedly while Piper pulls my sister into a throng of sorority girls. There’s a brief clucking of introductions and then the ring gets flashed. All the girls start squealin’ like stuck pigs and fawnin’ over my sister.

Oh, my gosh! You, like, have to pledge!” one of them insists.

“Totally,” another one of them echoes.

You are absolutely invited to, like, all our parties,” a third assures Sookie.

You should bring your fiancé next time!”

I laugh as Sookie giggles and nods, but kindly declines the offer to pledge. She explains that she lives with her fiancé and wouldn’t give up that for anything.

Stackhouse,” Harley nudges me. “We’re gonna throw the ball ’round in the yard. You comin’?”

Yeah, let me see if Sook wants to join in,” I tell him.

Ah, man, I’ve been waitin’ to see how your sister throws!” Josh laughs. “It sucks I missed that pick-up game with her!”

Sooks used to be on the girls’ softball team. Even made varsity her freshman year, but once Gran died, she gave it up to move to Shreveport. She was workin’ every spare moment from there, and didn’t have the time to play anymore. Still, she has a hell of an arm, and bein’ the baby sister of a college football player, she learned how to throw a football at an early age.

I slink into the conversation my sister’s havin’. It makes me smile to see her grinnin’ and noddin’ at the girls. I was right; engaged, in a cute pair of shorts and t-shirt, made her truly popular real quick.

Sook, me and the guys are gonna throw the ball around, you wanna come?” I ask.

Sookie’s eyes light up, “Sure!”

You’re gonna play football with the team?” Piper asks in surprise.

Sure,” Sookie laughs. “They’re real easy on me. They’ll just pick me up and swing me around. No one tackles me! Besides, they just play touch when they’re not wearin’ their equipment. Coach would kill ’em if he found out they were tacklin’ without their pads!”

Aw, I wanna watch,” One of the girls whines, and then the whole flock of ’em end up followin’ us outside.

All right, all right!” Riley holds up his hands. “We gotta make this fair. That means Sookie and Jason can’t be on the same team. None of that sibling telepathy-” Sookie’s eyes go big, but I just shake my head and laugh. If only he knew how right he was!

There’s not enough of the team here to play a full-scale game, but we have a blast throwin’, runnin’, catchin’ and blockin’. Sookie’s the receiver for Terry, and when he throws to her, I see her stumble and try to change direction. He’s thrown way outside, and she can’t get where she needs to be to catch it. Riley automatically intercepts, and it’s our ball.

“What the fuck, Stackhouse! Where the hell were you running!?” Terry yells at her, making Sookie look at him like he’s crazy.

Hey, Terry, calm down!” Josh yells at him. “It’s just for fun! Don’t talk to her like that!”

You guys stuck me with a chick just ’cause I’m second string!” Terry accuses.

Whoa, whoa,” I run up, furious. “First off, don’t fuckin’ talk to my sister like that! Second off, no one gets stuck with Sookie. She’s a perfectly good player for this kinda game. She’s been playin’ against me her whole life.”

Then you fuckin’ take her,” Terry yells, flingin’ his arms in the air.

You called a fifteen inside and you threw it out!” Sookie finally shouts. “How was I s’pose to get an extra twenty yards further than you told me to be at the last second like that!?”

Maybe you should learn to run!” Terry hollers at her.

Maybe you should learn to throw, ya second string candy-ass!” Sookie shouts, and Josh throws out his arm when she tries to get in Terry’s face.

I grimace. Yeah, Sookie can be pretty competitive, too. It’s about the only time I ever hear her throw curses around. She’s gotten scolded by the coach a few times for some of the shit she’s said at my games.

Fuck you!”

I’ll pass. Fuck yourself!” Sookie snaps and there’s a string of “oohs” all around us. The group of girls Sookie was chattin’ up in the house all giggle. Terry’s face goes bright red and he storms back into the house.

After that we just start throwin’ the ball back and forth for awhile before Sookie excuses herself. I know she feels bad for embarrassing Terry like that, but I’m pretty fuckin’ proud of her. I’m also proud that she’s decided to go in and apologize. She’s good at bein’ the bigger person, especially now that she’s had a bit to calm down.

Me and the guys keep throwing the ball ’round and I turn to Riley, “You see Sookie?”

Riley turns his head to the house and nods, “Yup. She’s talkin’ to Terry. He seems like he’s still pissed, but he ain’t yellin’.”

I frown and toss the ball back, “I’m gonna go in and make sure she don’t throw down. If he’s givin’ her attitude while she’s tryin’ to apologize, it could escalate again.”

I start joggin’ to the door just in time to see Sookie lookin’ like she’s pleadin’ with Terry. His reply is to throw his drink in her face, and I fling the door open.

What the fuck, Terry!?” I shout while my sister gropes for a towel to wipe the beer off her face. The sorority girls are tryin’ to help, since they were all standin’ in the corner during Sook’s attempted apology.

Get your fucking sister out of my face, Stackhouse! She thinks she can mock me in front of everyone and then come apologize like it was no big deal!?” Terry yells.

It was a big deal,” Sookie protests. “That’s why I’m trying to apologize in front of everyone-”

Fuck you!” Terry yells, then fucking backhands my sister!

I tackle Terry into the counter and start beating the shit out of him.

Throw a shitty fuckin’ pass, blame her for it, say ‘fuck you’ to her and she tried to apologize!” I’m shoutin’ as I whale on him.

Riley and Josh are both tryin’ to pull me off him, but I’m pissed. I don’t care that the only reason Terry’s bein’ an ass to Sookie is because of me. I care that he ain’t bein’ a man and sayin’ why he’s such a fuckin’ bitch, so I decide to beat it outta him.

You shouldn’t have even been playing this year!” Terry shouts at me once I’ve been pulled off him. Mission accomplished, dip shit.

Well, I am. Get the fuck over it, or drop off the team,” I snarl back.

What is going on in here?” I hear boomed above me, and I look to see Eric standin’ in the sorority house kitchen. His arms are crossed over his chest, and He. Looks. Pissed! He’s starin’ past me and I look behind me to see Piper holdin’ a wad of paper towels against Sookie’s bleeding nose. Blood’s dripped all down the front of her shirt, and I groan.

Who the fuck are you?!” Terry yells at Eric, and my eyes go huge. Eric’s got almost a foot on the little freshman shit!

Eric looks at Terry like he’s an insect and his voice is a threat itself when he says, “I am the one who is marrying the girl you just struck.”

Yeah?” Terry walks up to him, tilts back his swelled-up face, and says, “Well, your fiancée’s a cunt-”

Eric lifts Terry by the front of his shirt and holds him over his head, “That is very interesting. What else can you tell me about my fiancée?” he asks in that same tone that would make Chuck Norris shit himself.

Terry manages to keep his mouth shut this time, and I admit I’m grateful. I might not know Eric’s ‘ready to kill’ face, but I bet it looks somethin’ like the one he’s wearin’ right now.

Sookie,” Eric calls my sister over. He’s still holdin’ Terry up by the front of his shirt while my sister scuttles around the kitchen island to her man’s side. “Let me see your face.” Sookie pulls the towel from her face and Eric snarls, “You could have broken her nose, you little fuck!”

He drops Terry on his ass and turns to Sookie. All gentle, he traces the bridge of her nose with his fingertip, and Sookie recoils with her teeth clenched. The sharpest yelp I’ve ever heard in my life comes from her mouth.

No need for a reset,” Eric tells her, kissin’ the top of her head. Next, he crouches down to where Terry’s still on his ass. “If you come near Sookie again, I will break your fucking face. Not your nose. Your. Fucking. Face.”

With that, he stands and turns to Sookie, “Do you wish to remain here or come home with me?”

You’re not gonna try to get me to go home?” Sookie asks in surprise.

Eric shrugs, “I think I have made it abundantly clear what I will do to anyone who touches you.”

I’m covered in blood,” she points out.

I don’t miss Eric’s eyes dilating. “Yes. You are.”

Sookie,” Piper steps up slowly, “you can borrow one of my shirts if you’d like to stay? Sir, you can stay, too.”

I snort, “Did you just call Eric ‘Sir’?”

Piper blushes and gives an embarrassed giggle.

Will you stay, Eric?” Sookie asks him.

I must return to work,” Eric tells her gently and leans in for a kiss. It’s one of their slow, kill me now for having to see it, kisses. “Make some friends,” he whispers to her before grabbing Terry by the collar of his shirt and draggin’ him toward the door. “That means, you, Little Fucker, are out of here.” I bet Eric’s gonna glamour the shit outta that kid.

On to Chapter Twenty-Six!