ERIC POV, continued
I nodded. “Yes. Now I understand why my feelings for you became so intense during what seemed to me to be one day-sleep. You have to know that I would have behaved very differently that evening that I left your home if I’d remembered everything—if waking up in your home with unexplained feelings hadn’t been so damned disorienting.” I shook my head. “In truth, I should have behaved better despite that. I already cared about you—wanted you.”
“And I didn’t help by keeping things from you,” she sighed. “Maybe I just suck at the relationship thing.”
“You’ll practice,” I offered. “We both will.”
She chuckled, but then nervously took another drink. “So—um—about the living arrangements.”
I tensed, hoping that she wasn’t going to fight our living together. Our pledging would certainly be challenged if we didn’t.
She raised her hand in a calming gesture. “I understand that there really isn’t a choice about our living together, Eric. I was just asking about logistics.”
I calmed immediately and handed her a folder that had been on the coffee table.
“Choices,” I responded.
She didn’t say a word as she looked through the folder. In it were descriptions and photos of each of my safe-houses (save the one being used for Vood) and a detailed construction plan for the building of a safe-room in her home in Bon Temps, which included an estimate of how long it would take. There was also a picture of a piece of property located almost exactly halfway between Bon Temps and Shreveport as well as a preliminary sketch of a floorplan for a home that could be built on it.
“Highhanded?” I asked as she closed the folder.
“Contingencies,” she offered instead.
I nodded. “Yes.”
“The house between here and Bon Temps—why so huge?” she asked.
“Two separate wings. Two separate entrances. Like a large duplex—though there would be a door between the wings that could be dead bolted from either side,” I answered.
“Like adjoining rooms in a hotel?”
“A his side and a her side,” she commented.
“If that’s what you wanted,” I responded. “Privacy. Independence.”
“We’d live together, but be next door neighbors?”
“If that’s what you wanted,” I repeated.
She sighed. “It’s not.”
“What do you want?” I asked.
“What about you?” she challenged.
“What we had when I had amnesia,” I answered without hesitation.
“That’s impossible. You have responsibilities,” she said.
“I know,” I returned with a slight roll of my eyes. “But instead of walking aimlessly around your home after you fall asleep, I could use those hours to fulfill my duties.”
“What about Fangtasia?” she asked.
“I don’t have to sit on display to run the bar. Now that we are pledged, I have a good excuse not to. But—in truth—I didn’t need one. I’ve already hired vampires to replace me on the throne.”
“When?” she asked.
“As soon as I’d healed—after Rhodes,” I responded.
She smirked a little. “And have you been faithful—since Rhodes?”
I chuckled. “No. Have you?”
She frowned. “I haven’t been with anyone since then, but that’s because I wasn’t in a relationship.”
“Neither was I,” I challenged.
“I know.” She looked worried. “And now?”
“I’m yours,” I answered.
She didn’t look surprised. Good girl. Finally seeing her worth—at least starting to.
“Won’t you get bored?”
I scoffed. “You must really stop thinking that could happen. Would you have thought that the ‘other’ me could get bored with you—be unfaithful to you?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Is that why you didn’t accept his proposal that he stay as he was?”
“No,” she responded immediately. “I didn’t want to rob you. And—I would have missed you.”
I smiled. I couldn’t help myself. “I’m glad you feel that way. Now you get both.”
She smiled back. It was a rich smile, one full of hope and gratefulness. “That easy—huh?”
“I’ll be as easy as you want me to be,” I leered. And then chuckled when I saw a blush and felt a surge of lust from her. “Don’t worry, Sookie. We’ll work by your timeframe.”
“Fast or slow—whatever you like.”
“If I wanted to keep living with Amelia and Octavia in Bon Temps . . . ,” she started.
“Then construction of my safe-room would begin tomorrow,” I finished. “Meanwhile, we’d need to stay here or at another one of my homes.” I gestured toward the folder. “Unless Octavia accepted me in her closet.”
“You’d be miserable living with them though,” she commented.
“I would adapt,” I said.
“But you wouldn’t choose that,” she emphasized.
“Ah—but you chose the pledging. That is what I wanted. Where we live is less important to me. And no residence is ever permanent.”
She shook her head. “No. It’s not. I told Octavia you might move in, and she responded by telling me that she’d move out if that happened.”
“Don’t be. She doesn’t hate vampires or anything. Heck, she even offered to do some work for you while she’s here—warding and things.”
“You asked her for that?”
She nodded. “I thought we’d need it.”
I couldn’t hide my pride from my face or the bond.
She smiled at me. “Anyway, her living with Amelia and me was always gonna be temporary. And—frankly—she was starting to wear on me. Best to part as friends—right?”
“Yes. You don’t want a witch on your bad side.”
“Selfish at times, but who isn’t? And she’s a lot more tolerant,” Sookie said. “She worries I might be making a mistake, but she really does want me to be happy. No matter where I live, she’s gonna stay in the house—at least until she knows how things with Tray Dawson are gonna work out. Once she does, I figure she’ll either move in with him or go back to New Orleans.”
I nodded in understanding.
She was quiet for a moment. “We should build the safe-room in Bon Temps regardless. Meanwhile, we’ll stay here and reassess after the construction is done.”
“We’ll need to go to Las Vegas within two weeks,” I said.
“The later the better?” she said as a question. “That’ll give Sam longer to get back.”
I nodded in agreement. “Sounds good. By the time we get back, the safe-room should be done.”
I got up to stoke the fire.
“Where will I sleep tonight?” she asked.
“You can choose any bedroom in the house, though the master bedroom has the nicest bathroom.”
“What’s your room like?” she asked.
“I thought we were courting,” I smirked.
“We are,” she responded. “What’s it like?”
“Nicer than most of my other resting places. The basement was unfinished when I bought the place, so I was able to tinker. Plus, it’s large. I designed a sitting room, bathroom, and bedroom.”
“Does the bathroom have a toilet?”
I chuckled. “Every contingency, Sookie.”
She smiled. “You gotta T-shirt I can borrow? I don’t want to sleep in this.”
I nodded as she rose and took the leftover food to the kitchen. She’d polished off the bottle of champagne. I followed her with the empty bottle and both of our empty glasses.
I was curious about where she would sleep. And—given her level of drunkenness—I was also curious about how she was walking in a straight line. After she’d wrapped and put away the food, she walked (still in a relatively straight line) to the door that led down to my chamber and seemed to be mentally steadying herself as she opened the door and then carefully walked down the stairs.
Again, I followed. At the bottom of the stairs was another door.
“The code?” she asked as her fingers were poised over the keypad.
“I prefer words to numbers,” I informed.
“So do I,” she agreed, looking back over her shoulder at me.
“E.” She punched it.
She giggled and quickly punched in R-Y-C-O-N-T-I-N-G-E-N-C-Y.
The woman “got” me.
Gratefulness is what I sent to her through our bond.
Maybe it was because she was drunk, but she didn’t glare at me for sending her a part of “me.” Instead, she smiled at me, and I felt the odd feeling of happiness being sent from her to me. It was the first time she’d actively “sent” something my way.
I liked it.
Once the door was open, she looked around for about a minute before taking one of my T-shirts into the bathroom to change her clothing. I took the opportunity to change into sleep pants as I heard her opening a new toothbrush and then using it. “Every contingency,” she muttered as she spit.
Every. Fucking. One.
She walked to the bed when she left the bathroom. “Which side’s yours?”
“Both. Once I die, it doesn’t matter. And I want to keep the mattress sound, so I switch.”
She chuckled and chose her side, climbed into bed, and then patted mine. “This is yours now.”
“Okay,” I agreed.
“You don’t need to sleep yet. There are several hours before dawn,” she grinned. “But I know you’re here for a reason.”
My eyebrow rose. “Not sex,” I said firmly.
She chuckled. “No. As soon as you poured me a second drink, I knew you weren’t looking for that.” She patted “my” new side again.
“Then what’s the reason?” I asked as I lay down. I was content for her to tell me since I wasn’t quite sure myself.
She sighed and snuggled into my body before taking hold of my hand.
“This,” she said simply.
“Yes. This,” I responded. “But this isn’t courting?”
“Define courting,” she challenged, as she snuggled deeper into me.
“I had no idea until I looked it up online,” I admitted.
She giggled. “And what did you find?”
“Dates: movies, dinners, walks in parks, weekend getaways. Flowers: roses bought with color in mind to represent stages of a courtship rather than preference of color by the receiver. Discovering one another’s interests, dislikes, and likes. Determining compatibility. First date—holding hands. Second date—a simple kiss. Third—a longer kiss, some petting. Fourth and beyond—let the woman dictate the pace. And don’t be an ass if she wants to go slower than you do.”
She barked out a chuckle and looked up at me. “You learned all that online?”
I shrugged. “There was a lot more. Those seemed to be the more reasonable rules.”
She squeezed my hand. “Don’t you think we are past rules?”
I nodded. “Yes, but I’d be willing to follow any rules you set.”
She sighed. “You? The man who loves having choices?”
I knew she wasn’t teasing me or taking advantage of knowing my past because I could “feel” the sincerity of her question.
“I trust you,” I said.
She smiled. “I don’t think that I’ve thanked you for that part.”
“And I am remiss in thanking you,” I returned.
Her smile softened.
“I would enjoy watching movies with you, Eric, but I prefer home to the theater.”
“Because you don’t want to have to block thoughts,” I said. “I considered this when I bought the home-theater system here.”
She chuckled and shook her head, but then nodded. “As for dinner—I’ll try anything at least once, and I haven’t found many things I don’t like to eat. I don’t mind restaurants so much—as long as they’re not huge.”
I nodded, taking in her words and running them against the list I’d already considered.
“Walking or flying with you would be nice, but I’d prefer waiting until it warms up.”
I chuckled. “Noted.”
“Flowers are sweet on occasion, but I don’t care about meaning. I like yellow and white best—and not just roses.”
“As for the rest, we’ll learn about each other together.”
“Together,” I mimicked.
“As for the time frame? I can’t imagine a scenario where I don’t attack you in the shower tomorrow night,” she stated.
I laughed. “I could shower tonight.”
“I’m too drunk to properly enjoy it,” she responded, smiling against my bare chest.
I squeezed her hand. “At least I got the first date level of affection right.”
She giggled before I felt her mood turn serious. “Court me for the rest of my life if you want, Eric, but you have to know that I’m already yours.”
Again, I was speechless.
“If Bill hadn’t raped me in Jackson . . . ,” she whispered.
With difficulty, I kept my growl at bay. I’d known that he’d violated her, but this was the first time she’d acknowledged it aloud in my presence.
“If he hadn’t,” she continued, “I would have broken up with him—officially. And on my own terms.”
“And I would have begun my official courting then,” I said.
Once again, she smiled against my flesh. “We would have gone out on proper dates.”
“Hallow would never have happened,” I said.
“No loss of memory.”
“I would have chosen you,” she said.
“I’d already chosen you,” I returned.
Again, she smiled.
It tickled everywhere—especially into my unmoving heart.
Unmoving. Not dead.
“I’ve chosen you too, Eric,” she said in a whisper of kisses against my chest.
We lay quietly until her breathing was steady. I carefully peeled myself from her side without waking her up and then pierced my finger. After giving her a little blood so that she wouldn’t wake up with a hangover, I zipped upstairs only to find Pam sitting in front of the fire. I’d known she was there. After all, I’d called her.
As I put out the flames, she studied me, her curiosity as strong as I’d ever felt it.
“You’ve protected yourself and her by pledging,” she finally said. I could tell that she admired my strategy.
“As much as I can,” I responded as I sat next to her on the couch. “But I would have wished to pledge with Sookie even if we had no enemies.”
She nodded in understanding—and relief. “Even a pledge won’t stop imbeciles,” she cautioned.
“Imbeciles will be dealt with. And they are easier to kill than kings. Kings have to stand by the ‘rules,’ or the Council will remove them.”
“You always were a crafty bastard,” she smirked.
“Yes—but that’s not why I did it,” I returned.
“You love her,” she commented.
“I know,” I responded.
She got up to go toward the door.
“No more questions?” I asked her.
“None worth asking,” she responded, grinning at me. “By the way, Victor tried to follow me here.”
“But you lost him.”
She nodded. “Yes. And while I was waiting for you to come up from your lair with the telepath, I filed a formal report with Sandy and the Council explaining that Victor was clearly trying to overstep against a pledged pair.”
“You are the best child a maker could ask for,” I grinned.
“And an unimaginable bitch,” she added.
“Of course that.”
“It gets better.”
“Lambert, the Council’s chief enforcer, was deployed to take out Victor. Apparently, the Ancient Pythoness had already foreseen Victor’s attempt to interfere with a pledged pair. Judgment had been dealt out an hour before I called to report the crime. They were only waiting for Victor to actually make his first move.”
“Which he did by following you.”
She looked like the Cheshire cat. “Exactly.”
“Lambert won’t be swift about things,” I observed.
“No. He is a time-taker,” she returned with an evil grin. “He could teach even you a thing or two.”
“I’d love to watch him work.”
“I’ll call to see if I can arrange that before his current job is done,” she smirked.
“Felipe?” I asked.
“The Pythoness apparently saw Victor’s attempted coup too.”
It was my turn to grin like the mythical cat. Vampire “rules” didn’t protect kings from usurpations, so the Ancient Lady chose not to interfere in those. That meant that Victor’s duplicity against Felipe was now known only because my pledging to Sookie had been threatened. And the Ancient Pythoness’s involvement provided a validation stamp for that pledging!
Pam walked toward the door but then paused. “Sookie’s okay with it all?”
“Not all, but her complaints aren’t about the big things.”
She turned to smile at me. “Good. You deserve,” she paused, “all you desire.”
I moved to kiss her forehead. “Thank you,” I whispered.
After Pam left, I did a little work. I secured Fangtasia’s two most “normal” waitresses to report to Merlotte’s the next day. I researched an itinerary for Vegas. I responded to an official email from Felipe informing me that Victor was to be executed. Sandy was to replace him. She was inexperienced, but efficient. I’d already decided to like her.
“Better,” I said to myself as I went down to the room Sookie had chosen to share with me. “Much fucking better,” I added quietly when I saw she was wrapped around the pillow I’d been using earlier.
Of all of my contingencies, the one I’d given the least thought to had been perfection. At minimum, I’d thought that it would take much “courting” before I was in Sookie’s bed—let alone in her heart.
“I missed you,” she mumbled, reaching out for me, despite still being mostly asleep.
I took my place next to her and held her. “I missed you too, my wife,” I returned even though she was already fully asleep when I said it.
Yes. I’d planned fully for every contingency but the one I was living. “That’s one of the reasons why I love you,” I added softly as I gently caressed her hair.
Sookie. My bonded. My pledged. My beloved.
She was beyond contingencies.
But I’d still plan for all of them I could fathom nonetheless.
She was worth it.
And so was I.
A/N: Well—there you have it! I hope that this SHORT was enjoyable to you! If so, be sure to leave me a comment. I need to, once again, thank ncmiss12 for the inspiration for this story! And, of course, thanks to Seph and Kleannhouse for their contributions.
And thank you all for reading!
P.S. Remember, if you have an idea you’d like to see brought to life in a story, be sure to leave it for me in a “comment” on the SHORT/Story Requests Page by clicking HERE.
Hello--I'm including the link to the full .pdf here. I hope you will still take the time to leave a comment. Every Contingency .pdf