Chapter 7: Courtship
“Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”―William Shakespeare
June 15, 2004, 4:00 p.m., Shreveport
It’s difficult to believe that yesterday at this time I didn’t even know Eric Northman. I would think that I was dreaming if I hadn’t already pinched myself—several times—just to be sure.
It hasn’t taken me long at all to figure out several things about Eric. One is that he really does have great bed linens. Another is that he’s quite the planner. And another is that he’s a man who—once he makes a decision—acts upon it quickly.
Our week together is going to be “interesting”—to say the least! Hopefully it will be the first of many.
Eric suggested that we should make a vacation out of our “courtship,” and I was agreeable. So we’ll be heading to the Dallas area after sundown. There—we’ll stay in one of Godric’s residences and keep a low profile for a week while we get to know each other. I’ll also get to meet Godric. As a bonus—even if Sophie-Anne somehow found out about Eric and my agreement—there was no way she would act while we’re in Godric’s territory.
I’ll admit that I listened—and held back giggles—as Eric called his queen and lied like a dog, telling her that he’d been “summoned” for a visit by his maker. Eric then asked for Sophie-Anne’s “permission” to leave his area for a week or two.
Since Eric had put the call on speaker phone, I got to hear how Sophie-Anne practically leapt at the chance of getting Eric out of the picture for a while; she was probably thinking that his absence would make Bill’s “project” easier to complete.
Off-handedly, Eric had mentioned that he was taking a new and “delicious morsel” along with him for his visit. When Eric had winked at me, I’d barely stifled a giggle, though—thankfully—I’d already had a wadded up T-shirt over my mouth, so that my breathing wouldn’t have to be explained to Sophie-Anne.
By the time Eric had hung up the phone, Pam was knocking. She seemed surprised when she saw Mr. C and, perhaps, even more surprised when she saw that I was fully clothed. She reported that Bill was safely stowed in a silver-lined coffin in one of Eric’s warehouses. She pouted a little when Eric told her that she wouldn’t be able to “play” with Bill while Eric and I were out of town. She was only to tell Bill that his incarceration was punishment for his failure to check in and then leave him encased in the coffin until further notice.
Despite her obvious fondness for torture, I think that Pam and I are going to get along just fine. She seemed a bit wary of me at first, but seeing the dagger and hearing some hastily-spoken words in Swedish—or, perhaps, it was Old Norse—from Eric was enough to content any doubts she had about me.
I can tell that I don’t want Pam as an enemy. I can also tell that Eric cares for her, so I truly hope that we got along.
After he and I signed our preliminary contract, Eric insisted upon doing several things before he and I took off for our “trial period”/vacation.
First, he saw to Gran and Jason’s safety by arranging for them to go on a vacation of their own! When he asked what they would like to do, I suggested a tour of Civil War battlefields that Gran had always wanted to go on. And—as for Jason—I asked that he get a couple of days “off” from the touring so that he could go fishing or something. Eric called his day-man, Bobby, to make arrangements. From the sounds of things, both Jason and Gran would be getting their dream vacations, and I knew that Jason would be good company for Gran. When it came to stuff like that, he always had been attentive to her. Nonetheless, Eric was sending a Were named Alcide to accompany them during the day and a vampire named Indira to watch over them at night. I appreciated the fact that Eric was already watching over my family.
After Eric had called the queen and had arranged for my family’s vacation, he’d also arranged for our lodging for the night. We’d planned to stay with Mr. C in a house he kept in Shreveport, but Eric arranged for us all to stay at the luxury hotel he owned. I didn’t protest the move, especially once he said that he would arrange for Gran, Jason, and me to have a spa day. I’d opted out because I knew I couldn’t fully relax if I had to keep up my shields to keep out the thoughts of whomever was touching me. But I knew that Gran would love it, and she definitely deserved to be pampered after all she’d gone through the last day or so. And Jason too! He kept it under wraps, but Jason enjoyed a good pedicure more than just about anything in the world.
Those arrangements made, Mr. C had said his goodbyes to me and had promised that he’d go give Gran an update and make sure that she and Jason were settled into the hotel and that they met their new guards.
After Mr. C had left, Eric and I had been alone for the first time since we’d talked briefly in the hallway. But—just like all the moments that have passed between us so far—that one wasn’t awkward. Eric asked me if I would stay with him as he tried to phone Godric. That word, “tried,” had pulled at my heart. I could tell that Eric was nervous about speaking with his maker; I could guess that Godric hadn’t answered some of Eric’s calls in the past. So, of course, I had stayed. I’d been honored that he’d asked me. I’d wanted to give him my support.
I’d needed to.
After he’d dialed, he put the call on speaker—another act of trust on Eric’s part. Another pull to my heart.
Eric had seemed relieved when his maker answered and even more relieved when Godric said that he was willing to host us. In fact, Eric’s features had relaxed exponentially during the short call. He’d not mentioned who I was to Fintan; news like that would be better told in person. However he had said that he was bringing a woman with whom he was considering forming a bond. Godric has sounded intrigued—interested. And a smile had eased onto Eric’s face.
After the call was over, Eric had walked straight over to where I was sitting and kneeled down in front of me. Then, without a word, he’d given me the best kiss I’d ever had.
I’m pretty sure that it was the best kiss that anyone has ever had!
Oh, Diary, I’m trying to be practical—to pause and analyze my feelings. I’m trying not to get swept away. After all, Gran has instilled practicality into me. Fintan too. And Mr. C as well.
But I’m pretty sure I fell in love with my second vampire in as many nights when I first locked eyes with Eric.
However, the “feeling” of being in love with the different vampires couldn’t be more different!
With Bill, I knew that something was wrong—off—even as his blood had tried to fool me. I had felt as if I were surrounded by a web and would become trapped if I made one wrong move. Thankfully, the people who loved me—including myself—didn’t let me move toward Bill’s web.
And with Eric? Well—I was feeling something for him before I took his blood—and not just lust either! And—perhaps, most importantly—no warning bells regarding Eric had gone off in my head during our long and revealing talk. On the contrary, my instincts told me that Eric was going to change my life—in a very good way.
Diary, the feelings that I already have for Eric seem older than just a few hours. They seem older than a few weeks, a few years, or a few decades. They seem older than even I am—but how can that be?
When I went to Gran’s room to chat with her a little while ago, she said that it sounded as if I’d met my match. But how can I know that? How can I trust that I’m not just experiencing a “crush.” After all, I’m not exactly an expert in romantic relationships.
Gran reminded me that she still has crushes on Grandpa Mitchell and Fintan—even after all these years.
Let me tell it to you straight, Diary. There is something between Eric and me that makes my heart soar. Is it his looks? I won’t lie and say that’s not a part of it. But it’s a lot more than that. Eric makes me smile and laugh more than I can ever remember doing before. I felt safe with him—even when his words seemed borderline threatening. I want to know him more. I want to reveal myself to him more.
In short—I want every part of him; I want to give him every part of me. And I feel this in a “possessive” way that Gran says reminds her of how Fintan was sometimes. She says that it is the Supe in me—wishing to mark her territory.
Do I really see Eric as my territory? As mine? Already? All I know is that even as I write these questions, I can feel my “light” stirring. And—from deep inside—I know the answers to them. I want to scream those answers!
Yes! He is mine! Eric Northman is mine! He has and always will be mine! Hell—if I were a dog (sorry Sam), I’d probably pee on him. LOL.
Still—I’m wary of the suddenness of everything. Maybe that’s the “human” part of me doubting the existence of “magic.”
Gran once told me of the moment she met Fintan. She’d been hanging up laundry, and—suddenly—she’d seen him at the tree line. She told me that her heart had managed to drop to the ground and soar into the heavens all at the same time.
Fintan, who didn’t change at all in appearance during the years that Gran knew him, was certainly a “dish,” as Gran called him. Thus, it didn’t surprise me at all that humans, vampires, and fairies—male and female—had been attracted to him.
However, when Gran lets herself think about Fintan, her memories of him are always filled with a lot more than physical attraction. In fact, her feelings for him had adapted, changed, and amplified over the years, and they were still growing—even though he was gone. And, every time she pictures him, she still feels giddy.
Similarly, Gran’s memories of Grandpa Mitchell are filled with a myriad of emotions—longing, deep affection, and comfort. She feels giddy every time she thinks of him too.
But there’s something sad in Gran’s memories of Fintan and Grandpa Mitchell too. She loves them both—equally—thus, she doesn’t believe that either of them was her “true” match. I think that, melded together, they would have been the perfect man for her. And I can’t help but to wish that both were still in her life.
Could Eric—just him, only him—be the perfect man for me?
Or could he at least be the perfect man to be my “first” lover?
After seeing him up close, I was—at the very least—certain about my answer to the second question: “YES—PLEASE!”
And—by close up—did I mention that I am leaning against the headboard of the same bed where he is “sleeping” even as I write?
Maybe I should have opened with that—huh?
So why am I in Eric’s bed? Well—funnily enough—it never seemed to be a question between us that I would be here. Once we got to the hotel, I simply followed him to his suite. I’d wanted to stay with him—to keep talking to him, to keep spending time with him. There was a guest bedroom in his suite, and I knew that I could have stayed there. But I hadn’t wanted to. I hadn’t needed to.
But let me rewind the story a bit for you diary.
Before we even left Eric’s office at Fangtasia, he “claimed” me with his blood! The experience was both wonderful and so very “tantalizing.”
As I said, following his phone call to Godric, Eric kissed me. After that, he backed away a little until he was resting on his knees in front of where I sat. Then, he bit into his wrist and held it up for me. His eyes had been a storm of passion that seemed to be a thousand years in the making. Without hesitating, I’d offered him my own wrist, even as I took a deep breath and drank from him.
This I know for sure: Eric and my blood exchange was the most sensual experience of my life—at least so far. But—gauging from the look in Eric’s eyes after the exchange was over—that won’t be the case for long.
And that prospect—frankly—makes me tingle in some very “happy” places.
Just like after I’d drunk Bill’s blood, I’d felt a little drunk from ingesting a little piece of Eric; however, I’d also felt more “alive” than I ever had. I’d wanted more of everything that was Eric, but at the same time, I’d been happy with everything I had in that moment.
Eric had seemed to feel the same way.
After his wound had closed, Eric licked and healed the fang marks I’d barely felt being made. Then he picked me up and sat me on his lap on the couch, where we “cuddled” together quietly for several minutes before Eric went back into planning mode.
Those quiet minutes had been perfect—just what we’d both needed to slow down the world after it had sped up so much for us both.
And what about Bill? Well, it seems that even a small dose of Eric—both the vampire himself and his blood—has been enough to get rid of Bill. I am glad that Bill’s blood will be completely eradicated from my body soon enough. Meanwhile, it is enough that he can’t affect my feelings anymore.
And let me tell you, Diary, I am happy to feel like “myself” again. Oh—I suppose that Eric’s ancient blood could be making me even more enamored with him—if that’s even possible!
But one of the clauses of Eric and my contract is that he won’t purposely try to influence me with his blood. And I truly believe that he won’t.
So how did I go from the couch at Fangtasia to Eric’s bed in his hotel suite? Well, Diary, the truth is that we stayed up all night and talked—mostly.
I used to get a bit jealous of the girls who would be thinking of similar nights with guys or girls—nights when they would talk about anything and everything with the person they were “crushing” on.
Now, I have no reason to be jealous anymore—no reason at all.
I’d had such a night with a thousand-year-old, hotter-than-sin, deeper-than-imaginable Viking vampire! I would never have reason to “complain” about missing out again!
Eric and I talked about our jobs. He told me about his place in vampire politics—and how he both liked it and hated it. We talked about how he was getting bored with being on “display” at Fangtasia. We talked about the fact that I liked being a waitress—a job that some found to be too “simple.” I’d known a lot of waitresses who’d wanted something different—something “more”—and I respected that and them. But I was happy doing little things to help others. I told Eric about some of the people I’d helped—like Andy and Jane Bodehouse and Arlene and lots of semi-inebriated people who’d spent time at Merlotte’s.
We talked about our parents and how they had been murdered—mine by the water fae and his by a mysterious vampire who controlled a group of tattooed werewolves.
We talked about Godric and Fintan and Gran.
We talked about history and art.
We talked about literature and movies.
We talked about music and favorite television shows.
I told him about my treehouse and my diaries.
We talked about my telepathy and his ability to glamour, and how we might use those gifts to complement each other.
I showed him my “light” gift.
In turn, he took me flying.
And the next thing I knew we were laughing about the possibility of him dive-bombing enemies as I shot them with my light from his back! He suggested that he could commission a “Sookie-pack” to be invented so that he could “wear” me without his maneuverability being affected. Of course, even as we were laughing, I could tell that he was already planning who might be our first victim.
Sometime—late into the night (or early into the morning—depending on one’s perspective)—he proposed that I work for him at Fangtasia. He said that I could continue being a waitress if I wanted—though he also offered to teach me how to bartend, which sounded fun too. He said it might just be the perfect job for me—since I enjoyed anticipating needs and I seemed to be a part-time counselor as it was.
I’d laughed at that remark—though I was also considering his suggestion quite a bit.
Diary, we talked for hours and hours, yet I am certain that we’ve barely scratched the surface of the things we could say to each other.
We also laughed a lot. He told me about Pam, and I told him about some of the strangest thoughts I’d ever “overheard.” And sometime during the night, I discovered that a vampire could be ticklish.
When we weren’t talking or laughing, we were kissing and touching each other—though Eric didn’t push things too far.
I know that—after our weeklong “courtship”—Eric and I will have a lot to decide. First, we’ll need to figure out whether or not to go through with forming a permanent bond, which is really the only way for Eric to solidify his claim on me. Otherwise, the queen could pull rank—so to speak.
Of course, even if we bond, we’ll have to decide if we want to carry on with a romantic relationship. I am already pretty sure what my preference is gonna be. And I’m almost as sure about his preference too.
The contract allows for anything or almost nothing between us—as long as we both agree to the parameters and as long as a true and equal partnership is maintained between us. In other words—if we have a romantic relationship, it will need to be on terms we’re both okay with.
We talked about that a little last night too—when I admitted to him that I was already starting to “fall” for him. I asked if he could be faithful, and he told me that he wouldn’t have any trouble staying monogamous to me—as long as we were both content. And he promised that—if we ever did run into troubles in the future—we would talk it out. He also assured me that he would not betray me with infidelity. He said that there might come a day when one or both of us decided to end a romantic relationship—but that we would respect each other enough to be upfront about that.
I know that I could not expect anything more than that from anyone—human, Were, fairy, demon, or vampire.
So—in one fell swoop—Eric had allayed my biggest fear. I’d worried that he would tire of me and begin seeing others behind my back—eventually breaking my heart. But knowing Eric even a little, I now realize that he wouldn’t feel the need to hide it if he wanted to end things between us. He would simply tell me, and we would deal with it.
Speaking of monogamy and long-term relationships, I told Eric that I am gonna have a very long life—or, at least I hope I will. I also told him about my amulet and how it should hide me from other fairies for a while. Hopefully, our plan to convince the vampires in Sophie-Anne’s court that I’m part demon will work to protect me for even longer. However, I know that the fairies will find me sooner or later.
I just can’t help but to wonder if Eric will decide that I’m more trouble than I’m worth.
“I won’t,” came Eric’s voice from next to me.
Startled, I jumped a little. “You’re awake before sunset.”
“And you talk out loud when you’re writing,” he winked. “Have you eaten? I smell only coffee.”
I nodded. “Yeah—I went to Gran’s room and we had a late lunch together.” I grinned. “She’s impressed with you—you know. And I’m not just talking about the spa day you arranged for her.”
“She enjoyed it?’ Eric asked, genuinely interested.
“I am glad; I will arrange for similar days for her—during the times when Jason is on vacation,” he paused and smirked, “from their vacation.”
I giggled. “Do you want me to order you something from room service? A TrueBlood?”
“That depends,” he leered.
“On what?” I asked, suddenly feeling a little breathless.
“On whether you want to do our second exchange tonight. I would like to do it if you are amenable. And I would like to do it properly,” he added, licking his lips a little.
“Properly?” I asked with a gulp.
“What does that mean?” I asked, biting my bottom lip.
He groaned a little, his eyes focusing on my mouth for a moment. “That means that I want to be inside of you when we next exchange blood.”
Unintentionally, I bit my lip a little harder. “Oh. I thought we were going to Dallas tonight,” I said, panting a little.
“Godric is sending his private plane, but it won’t be at the airfield for three hours. And—we can leave whenever we want.” His eyebrow arched. “You’re biting your lip. Why are you nervous, Sookie?”
“Um—I figured that we’d be waiting to exchange blood again—and other stuff—until the end of our week together. I guess I’m just surprised that you’re already suggesting we—uh—go to the next step.” I took a deep breath. “Properly.”
“I do not need a week to make up my mind. I want to complete a bond with you,” he said with certainty. “And—as you are learning—once I make up my mind, I act.”
“But your life will change with me in it. I could endanger you.”
“We went over this last night,” he reminded.
“I know, but I thought you might need time—to consider all your options.”
“Do you believe in fate, min lilla ormtjusare?”
“Yes,” I answered quickly.
“So do I,” he said with a smile. “The connection between Godric and Fintan—and their connections to you and to me—I don’t think those things are accidental.”
“Do you think fate traps us?” I asked.
“Like a spider traps its prey?”
“Yes,” I whispered. I’d not told Eric that Bill’s blood had felt like a spider’s web as it had tried to manipulate my feelings. Sometimes, I could swear that he could read my mind—and see my fears.
“No,” he said. “I don’t think fate is out to ensnare us. It is too powerful for that. I think that it already has our stories woven.”
“So we have no choice?” I asked with a shiver.
“We can choose to snag the tapestry fate has woven,” he said, “to fuck it up. Or we can choose to enjoy the picture.”
He went on. “I think that—if we are careful enough and vigilant enough—we will recognize the gifts that fate brings to us.”
“And accept them,” I said, thinking of the moment Gran had put my first diary into my hands.
“Yes,” he agreed as he took my hand, thread his fingers with mine, and lifted our entwined appendages.
“This is a gift. Do you not feel it? The heat? The energy? The connection between us?”
I nodded. “Yes. I feel it.”
He smiled his most beautiful smile. It was relaxed, free, and open. He’d told me that he’d not smiled like that in years—until I’d walked into his life.
“I know that my life may change with you in it. It has already changed, and I like it,” he winked. “But I’m not a fool either. I will do what it takes to keep your enemies from hurting you, me, and the others who owe me fealty. I will punish them—kill them with my own bare hands if I can—because I like the feeling of my enemies’ blood running through my fingers.”
“I am vampire,” he said, looking into my eyes as if he were looking for acceptance.
“And I’m okay with that,” I said after a moment.
He smiled a little. “You need to recognize that being around me will likely make your life more dangerous too. Our lots will be together—so to speak,” he cautioned.
“And you’d be willing to accept that togetherness indefinitely? I mean—Fintan was almost a thousand years old, and he said I had just as strong of a spark as he did.”
“I actually quite like the idea of you being around a long time. And, perhaps, one day, I will turn you so that I can keep you even longer.”
“Greedy,” I giggled.
“Yes—very,” he agreed, stretching out lazily. He put one arm behind his head. His other hand stayed locked with mine.
He’d taken his shirt off—or I’d taken it off—sometime the night before, and as the sheet slipped down his torso, I momentarily became fixated on his amazing abs.
When I was finally able to look back up to his eyes, they were not leering at me or celebrating my attraction of him. On the contrary, his eyes were closed, and his face was more peaceful than I’d seen it before—even when he’d been sleeping.
He spoke in a whisper, almost as if he were in a trance. “Your attraction for me—your affection—is like fireflies lighting up all around my blood. I can see your feelings for me in your blood. They’re growing.”
He opened his eyes. “I can also feel that you are a little afraid of those feelings.”
“I am,” I admitted and then took a deep breath. “Do you think love can happen at first sight?”
“Lust? Yes. Curiosity? Yes. Attraction? Yes.”
“I felt all of those things for you when I first saw you,” I disclosed.
“You were not alone in those feelings,” he responded sincerely.
“I felt something else too,” I whispered.
He brought my hand up to his lips. I let the motion draw me closer to him, though I was still sitting.
“What did you feel?” he asked.
“A kind of understanding—as soon as ours eyes locked. I’ve never felt anything like that before.”
“Do you think it was love?” he asked, truly curious.
“What does my blood tell you?” I responded, meeting his question with one of my own.
He shrugged. “I’m not sure. I haven’t often given my blood to others. Pam has had it—of course. Godric too. And an enemy—a Were—but she didn’t live long after she had it.”
“Really? Only three—in a thousand years?” I asked, truly surprised.
“The blood is sacred,” Eric said.
“Yet you gave it to me?” I questioned, hearing the awe in my tone. “After knowing me for only a couple of hours?”
He kissed my hand again, turning the palm upward his time. He inhaled deeply. “It is my scent that mingles with yours now.” He smiled. “It smells good.”
“Like linnea? The flower you told me about last night?”
“Yes—and like me too,” he responded impishly.
“What do you smell like?” I asked.
He shook his head a little. “In all of my days, that is a question I’ve never been asked.”
I giggled. “Well—it’s good that I can surprise you a little.”
He smiled softly. “It is very good.”
“So? What do you smell like?” I asked again.
“Can you tell me?” he responded, lifting up our hands.
“I can try,” I said as I picked up his hand and put a kiss onto his palm.
He seemed to purr a little as I inhaled deeply. Almost unwittingly, I opened my mind to his. Once again, I heard the snakes swirling.
“Are you trying to cheat?” He asked with amusement in his tone. “Are you trying to steal the thought from my head?”
“Shhh, I’m trying to concentrate,” I said, pretending to scold him as I breathed him in again.
He smelled pure and fresh—so much so that there was almost no odor to him at all. The closest thing I could come up with was snow.
“Snow?” I asked aloud.
He chuckled. “Close. But no.”
I inhaled again, and this time I picked up something slightly more distinctive. “Rain?” I asked.
He sighed and gave me another one of his beautiful smiles. “Godric told me once that I smelled like a waterfall near the source of the Nile.”
“Do you?” I asked, figuring he’d been to the place in order to see for himself.
He shrugged. “I don’t think so, but some waterfall somewhere? Yes. I just haven’t found it yet.”
I giggled and couldn’t help but to kiss his palm again. “You’re weird.”
He chuckled. “Me? You are the one who asked me to tell you what I smelled like.”
“Well—you have a stronger sense of smell,” I defended with another giggle, even as I attacked his ticklish spot. In turn, he attacked mine, and it was several minutes before either of us admitted defeat.
For a while after that, we lay stretched out—looking at each other, but neither touching nor speaking.
“You are right,” he finally said. “There was a kind of understanding forged between us when our eyes first met. You were lovely and unafraid, and I knew right away that you would change my life. Maybe that is as close to love at first sight as anyone can get.”
“Maybe,” I said.
“I do know one thing,” he said, grinning almost boyishly.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“I like feeling the fireflies—in your blood.”
I giggled. “Do you feel them too? In your blood?”
“Yes. They are off-putting, but yes.”
“Rattling,” he said with a smirk.
“Don’t you like being rattled?” I asked coyly.
He chuckled. “Every once in a while, I need to be rattled. I have a feeling that you will be good for that.”
I smiled at him. I liked the idea of rattling him.
“You came up with your week-long ‘courtship/job interview/trial period’ idea for me—did you not? So that I could back out if I wanted?” he asked.
“And for me too,” I answered honestly. “I wanted to be sure before I acted. I wanted to make the best choice for my family and me.”
“I’m the best choice for you,” he said with certainty.
I giggled. “You aren’t the least bit apologetic for that ego of yours—are you?”
He laughed as well. “Not even a little. So?”
“So—let’s do it,” I said.
“You are certain?” he asked.
“Yes. We haven’t known each other for long, but I’m sure.”
“And will we be exchanging blood properly?” he asked.
A/N: Thanks so much for all the comments about the last few chapters. I’m pleased as punch that so many of you are “into” this story! All of your comments have been great to read.
P.S. I wanted to announce two exciting things happening in the TB/SVM fandom.
1. The talented Sephrenia is hosting a writing contest. To check out the details, look at the blog by clicking here.
2. The Kittynaz Facebook group has organized some awards for TB/SVM fanfiction. I would be honored if you would consider my stories for nomination—but even if you prefer other stories, I hope that you will support the fandom by making nominations and then voting once that opens. Click here to get more info.