Chapter Thirty-Nine: For You, I Would
“Best graduation present ever,” Jason groans as he stretches awake. Kappa president, Cynthia Marsters, is still passed out with her head on his chest.
“Yes,” I reply dryly, “I even let that ‘eat dat pussy’ comment slide.”
Jason gives me his lazy, fuck-tired grin, “I got excited. It was my first threesome.”
“You did better than I expected,” I congratulate him. “I only had to keep our guest entertained for a collective hour during your recuperations.”
“Just wait ’til January,” He smirks. “I’ll be the fucking Energizer Bunny. Y’all won’t be able to get the ladies offa me.”
“Yes, and you will need a chaperone the first year or so,” I tell him amusedly after Cynthia moans and hugs Jason tighter. His response is to pick up her hand and begin kissing the inside of her wrist.
“What’s that face for?” Jason asks, staring at me and grinning amusedly.
“What face?” I can feel that my lips are pursed and my brow is furrowed.
“You look ’bout ready to scold me,” Jason chuckles and gives Cynthia’s index finger a light suckle. She moans in her sleep and I think back to the last time I was cuddled by Jason Stackhouse. “Y’know, I got two arms and two tits. Ya can get some cuddles if ya want.”
My face tightens further at his taunt, but I cannot deny that perhaps I may be a little jealous of Cynthia. Something in the back of my mind is clearly stating that she is enjoying my cuddles. With a sigh and roll of my eyes to save face, I crawl up the length of the bed and flop into Jason’s offered arm.
I do not appreciate when he chuckles and kisses the top of my head, “Felt left out, didn’t ya?”
“Shut up, Stackhouse,” I grumble and shut my eyes. I allow myself to get lost in his warmth and the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he breathes.
It strikes me for the hundredth time that in less than a year, I will never feel his warmth again. I will not lay in his arms and be rocked into sedation by his breathing. The realization is always startling in the despair it brings me.
“What’s wrong?” Jason whispers.
I cannot help but laugh when he asks me that, “How do you know when something is wrong?”
“I got a sister,” he says simply. “Vampire or human, I think I got a knack for judgin’ when a girl’s feelin’ down. I think y’all want us to know whenever something’s wrong.”
A moment of silence passes between us before I confess, “I will be sad when you become vampire.”
“Why?” His question is entirely one of curiosity. There is no indignation nor annoyance.
“I will miss your warmth and breathing,” I admit.
“Well, I can always pretend to breathe,” he points out with a laugh. “I guess we could just crank up the radiator for some warmth.”
“You know what I mean!” I scowl.
“Yeah, I do, but it’s the way it’s gotta be,” Jason sighs.
I pause a long moment after he says this. I pause because that isn’t the way it has to be. There is an alternative. One that Sookie would be so happy-
“No, Pam,” Jason yawns.
“You and I ain’t gonna Bond,” Jason clarifies he is well aware of my thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if he has his sister’s telepathy, but for vampires.
“You could stay alive if we did. You wouldn’t have to give up-”
“But there’s all the things you and I would miss out on,” Jason objects. “Listen, Pam, I know you think the whole romantic love thing is bullshit. You love me, you love Eric and Sookie and Godric, even Cammie now… But you don’t love us like Eric and Sookie love each other, or Godric and Cammie love each other. That’s okay. It just hasn’t happened yet, but if you waste it on me? It never will.”
“That sort of thing is not meant for me, Jason,” I insist. “For you, I would give up the opportunity. It is no great loss for me.”
“You say that now,” Jason smiles, “but I bet there’s some sexual tigress out there just for you. A girl who can put on the sweet girl act, but is a total vixen in the sack. You’ll meet her one day and you’ll look at your thrown away Bond, and then hate me and yourself.” I cannot help but roll my eyes at his assessment. “And y’know, I know I could love a woman like that in the future. Not right now, though. I wanna fuck anything and everything I can before I meet my girl. I wanna be the best lay she could ever hope to have, so she never even thinks about wanting to fuck somebody else.”
“You are an idiot,” I tell him. “I am offering you the chance-”
“You’re takin’ away my chance, Pam. You’re takin’ away your own chance, too,” he argues gently. “All ’cause you’re scared I’m the closest you’ll ever get to something epic or legendary like Eric and Godric have. I ain’t as scared. I know my girl’s out there. I know yours is, too. So, let’s not be scared. Let’s just have fun ’til we find them.”
“You desire a Bonded,” I realize.
Jason gives me another of his sweet grins, “Damn right, and I know it’ll happen when we’re ready for it.”
“What if I am never ready?” I ask quietly, almost afraid it is my real problem. Was I too broken in my human life? Perhaps I am to jaded by time and experience. The desire or will to love has never afflicted me. Eric experienced loved in his human life and Godric longed for it. I never did. Maybe at the time of my human conception I was made wrong. Am I missing something? Am I defective?
“She’ll come along, Pam,” he assures me. “Godric didn’t think it’d ever happen to him, but it did. Although, so far y’all seem to Bond to damsels in distress. What, Sook gettin’ mugged, Grissom takin’ Cammie, but I bet that’s just a fluke.”
“What do you think your future Bonded will be like?” I ask him curiously. Perhaps if I have some inkling of what I should be looking for, it might seem more plausible.
“Ya gonna paint my nails and do up my hair while I tell ya?” he teases while adjusting Cynthia’s head more comfortably against his chest. I had almost forgotten she was there.
“If you would like,” I tease right back, but in my much dryer tone.
“Nah, that’s okay,” He gives me another exaggerated grin. “As for my wife? I dunno, but she’ll have a killer smile. Smiles for days, y’know? I don’t care much what color hair or eyes she’s got, just so long as her smile is beautiful. Not your snarky li’l smirk neither,” He points at me accusingly. “Sweet and beautiful and genuine. I guess I’ll figure out the rest as the years go by, y’know?”
All I can do is shake my head in amusement. Only Jason can take something as complicated as Bonding and remove the unsurmountable anxiety from the prospect. Still, he is young, and probably cannot fathom the centuries, or possible millennia of waiting for your mate to be born. He cannot grasp the panic of spending another century alone.
Personally, I do not get it either, but I have experienced it from Godric through Eric. They were short, fleeting glimpses, but it was enough for me to never long for love or Bonding. Now, feeling not only the Master of my Bloodline, but my own Maker clutched in the embrace of a Bond, it is all I can think about. Every moment I spend seems to have that very thought running in the back of my mind.
My and Jason’s discussion is ended when Cynthia stretches against his chest and blinks her eyes open. “Oh,” she giggles, “hi!”
“Hey there,” Jason grins down at her and captures her mouth with his own. “Passed out on me, huh?”
“Mmm,” she moans and gives another stretch, pushing her breasts firmly against him. “How long was I out?”
“Only an hour or two,” Jason tells her, stealing another kiss.
“Ugh,” Cynthia grunts and tries to sit up. “I have to get back to the sorority and finish packing. My Sisters are throwing me a going away party, and I won’t have time to pack tonight.”
“You want me to drive you home?” Jason offers.
Cynthia smiles at him and steals her own kiss, “No, you two have done more than enough for me already,” she laughs. “Don’t change, Stackhouse.”
Our little playmate crawls out of bed after that and quickly dresses. After she is gone, Jason flops back against his pillow and groans, “Man, I can’t believe I get to spend centuries doin’ shit like this!”
All that I can offer is a soft, quiet smile. I hate that Stackhouse always manages to give me far too much to think about.
“Yes, your Majesty,” Eric replies into the phone. “Thank you very much. You are most gracious.”
“It is my pleasure, Northman,” I hear Sophie-Anne answer and I roll my eyes. Offering the use of her estate for Eric’s wedding is nothing more than an excuse to have her own security running the event. Of course, having the nuptials at a Queen’s compound also means that other royalty will be invited, which means Sookie can look forward to the best gifts that not even money can buy.
I watch while Eric hangs up the phone and groans. “Not so thankful?” I cannot help but goad him.
Eric looks up at me from his desk. “What was your first clue, Pamela?” he asks.
“Perhaps the way your jaw tightened so severely I thought I heard a tooth crack?” I consider.
“Sookie will not have a single thing she wants if our wedding is held at Sophie-Anne’s estate,” Eric growls in frustration. “She will not even be able to wear her heirloom gown if that much royalty is present.”
“Then decline her offer,” I shrug disinterestedly. “It is not as if we are truly beholden to anyone any longer.” Of course, that does not mean we should go about rubbing influential vampires the wrong way. Still, if anyone plans on upscaling my Barbie Doll’s wedding, I will be damned if it is accomplished by anyone but myself!
“I plan to decline Sophie-Anne’s offer,” Eric tells me. “It is a matter of doing so diplomatically. There is always a way of amicably refusing someone’s generosity.”
“You are going to consult Sookie, aren’t you?” I accuse playfully. It is true, the Stackhouses are quite adept at politely refusing help. Why would they not be just as artful at declining lavish offers?
“I am,” Eric confesses with a cocky smirk when he rises from his desk and vamp speeds his way to the drawing room. “Sookie,” I hear him begin. “The Queen of Louisiana has offered to host our wedding celebrations at her estate.”
“Oh, that was very kind of her,” Sookie sincerely voices, making me contain a howl of laughter. Yes, kindness was Sophie-Anne’s motivation, not the opportunity to host the most novel and rare gathering in the vampire community!
“Yes, however, if our wedding took place at a royal estate, it would mean that our guest list would rise from seventy-five to about seven hundred and fifty,” Eric exaggerates only moderately. Seven hundred and fifty might be invited, but only about five hundred would show up.
“A-are you serious?” Sookie stammers in shock.
“Quite. And many would be politicians and vampire royalty,” Eric tells her. “It would mean that your mother and grandmother’s dress would be viewed as…inadequate for your wedding gown,” Eric sounds legitimately regretful.
“Oh, I see,” Sookie deflates before quietly continuing, “Would it be wiser for us to accept rather than come up with some reason to decline?”
“That does not matter, Sookie,” he tells her gently. “What matters is what you want.”
I can practically hear Sookie biting her lip thoughtfully. “This might sound paranoid, but if we do decide to accept her offer, I don’t think Jason should be there. The idea of that many higher-up vamps makes me uneasy. I’d be worried someone might hurt him at the wedding if the Queen hosts it,” Sookie finally admits reluctantly.
I must admit, I never would have thought our little Sookie could be so pragmatic, but she has a habit of surprising me. By the hesitation Eric’s exhibiting, I can guess he is just as stunned by her statement. Rather than wait for him to find his words, Sookie continues, “Do you think Pam would be able to spruce up my wedding dress, so it might not stick out like a sore thumb?”
Before Eric can reply, I shout down, “Of course I can!”
Sookie giggles and tells Eric, “All I need for this wedding is you, Eric. If Jason can walk me down the aisle and I get to wear some incarnation of my Gran’s dress, that’s just a bonus. It’s a little thing for me to sacrifice, but it will give us the opportunity to cement some good associations and relationships before we turn the vampire world on its ear.”
“You are quite right,” Eric tells her, and I hear the awe and affection in his voice.
“Pam,” Sookie calls to me, “if you’d like to coordinate all of the details for me, I think that would be best.” My body tightens excitedly at Sookie’s consent. Have I just been given free rein to coordinate her wedding!? “You know my taste, and you know how to incorporate it into something beautiful and opulent.”
“You had me at ‘coordinate all the details!’” I assure her excitedly and run down the stairs to grin in her face. “I will consult you on shades and patterns,” I promise her before whipping out my cell phone and calling Sophie-Anne’s Events Coordinator. It is only a matter of minutes before Sophie-Anne’s youngest progeny, Grace, has assured me the information I will need will arrive by courier before morning. “Where did you put your dress? I need to look it over objectively. Eric, I am taking it and going to my condo,” I tell my Maker quickly. I have the opportunity to blow Sookie’s mind again, and I am not going to waste it!
Damn, I’m a college graduate, I think amusedly. I’m sitting in the kitchen of my lonely apartment, lookin’ for a job to tide me over until I get turned. Pam’s said I’ll stay with her at her condo after I get turned, but, for now, I’m still in the duplex where my life was turned around.
It’s crazy thinkin’ back to just two years ago. Back in May, 2000, when Sookie and I went full-time at our jobs, scramblin’ to save up enough money to survive the upcoming football season, I honestly thought we’d never make it to this day. I was certain somethin’ would have to give well before I could graduate college, mainly my shoulder. Instead, two vampires came into our lives and saved me and my baby sister in so many ways, there just ain’t enough words to thank them.
Hell, I wouldn’t even be alive today if we hadn’t met Eric and Pam. If I hadn’t been given Eric’s blood to heal my shoulder, there’s a real good chance I would have been killed by that maniac on Christmas morning. Sookie would have been all alone in the world, or thrown into the care of Aunt Linda. Would Linda have killed Hadley if Sook had been stayin’ with them? I wonder, but the thought quickly slips away. After years of strugglin’ to keep afloat, it’s become natural not to dwell too long. Every so often I slip down the hole of ‘what if,’ but they’re short, little falls that’ll only make me pause a moment.
A knock at my door makes me look up from the newspaper I wasn’t really readin’ and I get up to answer it.
“HEY!” My sister launches herself at my middle and ’bout squeezes the life outta me.
“Hey, Sook,” I laugh and hug her back. “What’re you doin’ over here?”
I go about makin’ a pot of coffee for the two of us while she starts chattin’ ’bout the changes in her wedding plans.
“You’re gettin’ married in New Orleans now?” I ask in surprise after we sit down to a cup of coffee and she gives me a weak, little shrug. “You ain’t happy about it,” I point out.
“I’m… Conflicted,” she mumbles. “I mean, it’s gonna be an awfully big wedding with a bunch a people I don’t even know.”
I give her an encouraging smile. “Yeah, but you can charm most anybody. I’m sure they’ll talk to you five minutes and fall in love.”
She gives my shoulder a playful punch. “Whatever,” She rolls her eyes.
“It’ll be fine,” I tell her soothingly. “Besides, if you really don’t wanna do it, just tell Eric. He’ll put a stop to it.”
“His ‘boss’ is the one hosting it now. I don’t think it would be a good idea to turn her down,” Sookie’s entire face droops with a frown.
“So? His boss don’t got any room in his personal life,” I tell her.
My sister shrugs half-heartedly before mumblin’, “I just got this feelin’ that if we refuse, something bad will happen.”
“Is it a heart feelin’, or a head feelin’?” I ask.
“Head,” she admits reluctantly. Sookie knows I accuse her of spendin’ too much time in her head. I guess that’s a problem for a telepath, though. She’s seen so many mental reactions alongside the physical reactions that I guess I can’t blame her. That’s why I think we’re so good for each other. Even though I’m no idiot, Sookie has always been the brains between the two of us. I’ve always been more of the do what I want and accept the consequences type, although that side of me hasn’t shown up again till recently.
After I was made Sookie’s guardian, I couldn’t be as impulsive. Given my age, one slip-up would mean I wouldn’t see my baby sister ever again, so I put all that energy and idiocy into working myself to death. Strong enough to do it, stupid enough to ignore the strain it put on my body.
During our three years struggling to stay together, I’d gone from 171 pounds to 128 pounds, and I had been solid muscle before our Gran had died. Bein’ a QB that light is like askin’ to get wrecked. College tackles tear through you like tissue paper, and there’s not enough pads or flesh to dampen the impacts. I bruised for months after my offensive tackles couldn’t protect me and more injuries than just my shoulder would keep me awake some nights with their singin’. To this day, I don’t know how we survived those three years, but here I am, sittin’ across from my sister, healthy as a horse, and a college graduate. The first Stackhouse to graduate college…
“I suppose I’m conflicted because there’s very few things I want for my weddin’. I want Eric, you, and Gran’s dress. If I got those, then it could be held in a cemetery for all I care.”
“Well, it is a vamp weddin’,” I tease her and she rolls her eyes. Problem is, even though she’s rolllin’ her eyes at me, I just feel this sadness about her. Something’s buggin’ her, and my tone goes from teasing to concern, “What’s wrong, Sooks?”
“I don’t want to have it at the Queen’s,” she whispers.
“Why not?” I ask just as quietly.
“I’m scared you’ll get hurt,” she confesses.
My face folds into a frown after she says this, and I realize a lot of things. Eric made some bold statements to a really important vamp not too long ago, and if that vamp shared any of those views with others, this weddin’ party might turn a bit sinister. That wouldn’t matter none, if it weren’t for me and my pesky mortality. I’m officially the weakest link in our chain. Sure, Sooks and Cammie can’t fight for nothin’, but they also can’t be killed. I won’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell, no matter the odds if a single vamp decides to be makin’ examples. Worse yet, Cammie and Sooks is Bonded, so that makes me and Pam the only fair game if laws are followed. Hurt Eric by hurtin’ Pam, or hurt Eric by hurtin’ Sookie by hurtin’ me. Man, I’m a part of this no matter what.
“Then I’ll get turned between Thanksgivin’ and your weddin’,” I finally decide, makin’ my sis look at me in surprise. “That way, you get one more food holiday with me, but I’m just as indestructible as any of ya for the nuptials.”
“Oh, Jason,” Sookie moans, “I hate for ya to feel this kinda pressure!”
“Ain’t no pressure, Sook,” I assure her with a laugh. “I’ve been achin’ to turn, honest, I have. I’m sick of bein’ the odd man out. I wanna feel part of your family again and lately, it don’t feel that way. I feel like you and I are drifting apart and that’s okay. It’s the good drift, like a brother and sister startin’ their own lives, but there’s this divide I can’t reach across anymore. I can’t protect you like I could before.”
“You don’t have to,” she assures me.
“I know, but I’m your big brother. I gotta always have your back,” I tease with a wink, making Sookie laugh and then give me a big hug. “So, I’ll let Godric know that I’m good to go a couple days after Thanksgivin’.”
“I love you, Jason,” Sookie murmurs into my chest, and I run my hand over her head soothingly.
“Love you, too, Sooks,” I whisper right back and kiss her crown.
We talk awhile longer about the wedding, and I swear she’s just ’bout ready to burst into a ray of sunshine now that she’s not so worried about me. I can’t really absorb anything she’s said, I’m too busy trying to permanently memorize how she looks right now. I’m not doin’ it so I can remember her this happy. I know she’ll be this happy the rest of eternity. I’m memorizin’ her face because this is how happy I want to make someone in the future. This face is how I’ll know my Bonded because I know the smile on Sookie’s lips and the glow in her eyes has nothin’ to do with me or my willingly be turned a month early. My sister is happy to be marrying the man of her dreams. She’s the exact image of a woman who’s found her soulmate.
And I want to recognize it when I see it aimed at me.