Sookie was awakened by Eric’s slight movement next to her. She was deliciously sore and tucked into his body, her flesh touching as much of his as she could in their position.
“Don’t move,” Sookie said groggily.
Eric chuckled, “I’m sorry, min kära. It is already a bit past dawn, and I will have to go to the cubby soon. I feel that my time lingering in your light is almost at an end.”
Eric’s words slowly filtered into Sookie’s conscious mind until she grasped them suddenly. Her eyes opened widely, and she shot up into a sitting position. The morning sun was already flittering slightly into the window.
“What are you doing?” she cried out. “Why aren’t you in the cubby?”
Eric shrugged a bit. “I did not feel the pull of dawn, lover. And from here, we are not in the direct line of the sun. I think it must be the fairy blood or the bond―but I do not feel as if I am in danger right now.”
Sookie got up, obviously upset. “Eric, you need to get to the cubby right now. I can’t have you burn; I can’t lose you!”
“Sookie,” Eric said calmly, “you won’t. A vampire’s instinct, more than anything else, pulls him to his daytime rest. Right now, that instinct is not telling me to flee from the sun.”
Sookie tried to calm herself. Eric was only half-covered by the blanket; his face, arms, and chest were all exposed to the dim, natural light in the room. However, the direct light of the early morning sun was still on the other side of the room. Sookie walked around to Eric’s side of the bed and examined his exposed flesh for any redness or burning.
“See, min kära. I am fine. It seems you really have given me light again.”
Sookie sat on the bed next to him. “Promise me that as soon as you feel anything―even a twitch of your vampire instinct thingy or a tic on your skin―that you will go to the cubby right away.”
“I will,” Eric promised her.
“What time is it anyway?” When did the sun rise?”
“It is 6:49; the sun rose at 6:37, min kära.”
Sookie sat pensively next to him before Eric drew her into his arms and covered her with the blanket. Eric spoke quietly into her ear, “Do not worry, little one. I will never leave you now. I promised, remember?”
Sookie nodded and settled into Eric, though she was still obviously nervous.
“Remember on that day with Russell―your blood protected me from the sunlight.”
“I know, but that was only for a few minutes, and by the time I got to you,” Sookie had to stop in order to hold back her tears at the memory of his burning flesh.
“I know. I’m sorry, Sookie,” Eric said, pulling her closer.
She composed herself, “Did you take more from me last night than you did that morning?”
Eric considered for a moment, “Probably about the same, I think. Russell took more than I did by far, but he is older, so I knew that once your blood wore off, the sun would kill him more quickly.” Eric began to lightly stroke her hair.
Sookie pushed herself more fully into Eric’s embrace, subconsciously trying to cover up as much of his body with hers as she could. “That morning―when you and Russell took my blood―I wanted to hate you so much. I wanted to despise you, but as soon as you bit me, I felt your hand stroking my hair, just like you’re doing now. Somehow, at that moment, I knew that things weren’t as they seemed.”
“Is that why you came for me, Sookie?”
“Yes. There was that. But also, I felt―I don’t know,” she paused. “I felt that if I didn’t get to you, that I’d be losin’ somethin’―some part of myself.” Sookie pulled herself up, once again studying Eric’s flesh closely.
“Everything’s still okay, min kära. I’m still fine. Enjoy this morning with me, Sookie.”
She settled back into him and sighed.
“Do you remember being on the lake with me?” she asked.
“Of course, lover,” Eric purred. “And I remember being in the lake with you. And I remember being in you in the lake.”
Sookie swatted his chest playfully, “Okay, enough dirty talk, mister. Did we actually do the second bond in real life or just in that fantasy that we were in?”
Eric looked at the two almost-healed puncture marks on Sookie’s breast. He ran his fingers lightly over them, raising goose bumps on her flesh. “These are from the bond we made at the lake. And I feel you more strongly than before. I believe us to be twice bonded, my love.”
Sookie nodded, “Good.”
“Very good,” Eric agreed. “Can you still feel my emotions as you did at the lake?”
Sookie once again concentrated on their bond. She picked up wonder and joy coming from Eric. “Yes, you are happy right now―real happy. And you seem surprised by something.”
“Yes,” Eric said quietly. “I am very happy in this moment and very much in awe of your gifts to me.”
They lay silent for a few minutes.
“Tell me what you will do today,” he asked. “Talk to me about your plans after I fall into my day slumber.”
“Well,” Sookie began. “I’m fixin’ lunch for my brother and the boys―that’s what I call Jesus and Lafayette now. And Alcide too. In fact, I―uh―well, Alcide sort of told me he wanted to be with me the other day. And today I’m gonna have to tell him that that’s just not gonna happen. I don’t want to hurt him, but after the increased libido caused by Bill’s blood was gone, I just didn’t really feel that attracted to him anymore.”
“You have vampire blood in you again, my love. What do you think you will feel now?”
“Honestly, I was a bit worried about that until Jesus and then you told me more about blood bonds. I’m guessin’ that it is the tie that caused my―uh―sex drive to get all out of whack. I think that the bond is only about you and me and will work to make me less attracted to anyone else. Given what we have and given that I know now that I really love you, I don’t think the increased libido thing will be an issue.”
“Better not. I do not handle jealousy well, my love,” Eric said, though his demeanor was casual and secure.
“Anyway, I can take care of any increases in your libido, lover.
“I just bet you can,” Sookie purred, smoothing her hand over his chest.
“You will wait until your brother and the witches are here before you tell him, min kära?”
“Yes,” Sookie agreed. “I know it is kind of cowardly, but I wanna wait to make sure we’re not totally alone. I know he won’t do anything, but . . .”
“But you have learned that being cautious is best when it comes to supernatural things.”
“Yes,” Sookie agreed.
“I am sorry that I arranged for Alcide now, my love. I wanted you to be comfortable around your protectors, but now I can feel that you are not; I made an error in judgment.”
Sookie smiled, “No―you didn’t. You knew I would accept Alcide, and you were right that I wouldn’t have accepted anyone else right then. I can be a bit . . .”
“Stubborn,” Eric completed.
“Maybe,” Sookie said coyly, “but pot meet kettle!”
Eric laughed, “Oh―how I love your sayings, little one.”
“Still okay?” Sookie questioned looking him over.
“Yes,” Eric answered smiling at the woman in his arms. “About your day guards . . .” he began.
“What about them?” Sookie asked, picking up on the fact that he’d used the plural.
“I have arranged some protection for you, just like we spoke of before, something more permanent. I’m also sure that you will be more comfortable with them than you are now with Alcide.”
Sookie sighed. “I know I need it because of everything Eric; I just hope it doesn’t really have to be permanent.”
Eric brought her tighter to him. “I know, but when I am not with you, I must know that you are taken care of. Believe me, if I thought I could get away with it, I would chain you to my side even as I sleep.”
“Oh, I believe it,” Sookie said sarcastically. She noticed that the sun was brighter and cringed a bit.
“I am still fine, Sookie,” Eric said, sensing her apprehension. He reached to the nightstand and picked up a piece of paper. “This is the phone number of some old associates of mine, Jarod and Miranda. They will be your new daytime security. I think you will like them.”
“Associates?” Sookie asked.
“Yes, I once saved their lives, and they were also part of Godric’s day security team, so I trust them.”
“Are they Weres?”
“She is a Were, but not a wolf. She turns into a lioness.”
Sookie gasped a bit. “Wow!”
Eric continued, “And he is a shifter like your boss, but he enjoys taking on a lion’s form in order to run with his beloved.”
Sookie smiled, “Are they together then?”
“Oh yes, as long as I have known them. I saved Miranda’s life one night about eight years ago when a large group of deer hunters had her trapped in my area. Jarod had tried to attack to save her, but he was also taken.”
“And you swooped in?”
“Yes, quite literally,” Eric laughed. “Miranda and Jarod had been caught off guard by the hunters, but I could tell that they were formidable; they could have killed the humans, but obviously did not want violence. That being the case, I sent them to Godric. They stayed with him, protecting his daytime resting place, until . . .”
Sookie hugged Eric tightly to her, not needing for him to continue. They sat quietly for a few minutes.
“What else will you do today?” Eric asked after a while. He could feel his body becoming tired but still felt safe in Sookie’s presence. He felt certain that his own survival instinct and the bond would tell him when he had to go to the cubby.
“After lunch, I’m gonna do a whole lotta nothin’,” Sookie smiled. “Jason’s gonna watch a movie or television with me, and Lafayette and Jesus will probably stay unless Lala has the night shift. Oh―and I’ll call and invite Miranda and Jarod over as soon as Alcide leaves, I guess. It’ll be nice having another girl around―too much testosterone already!”
After a pause, Sookie asked, “Oh―do you want Jesus and Lala to wait to work on their spells until after we talk to them together?”
Eric thought for a moment. “That would probably be best, lover. I want to talk to Jesus about whether the privacy spell can be altered. As I said before, I like very much having privacy with you, my lover,” he leered, “but I also need to be aware of what is outside.”
Sookie smiled up at him, kissing the cleft of his chin. “You’d think,” she teased, “that after two blood exchanges, lots of sex, and even some kind of shared drunken ‘trip’, that you would be satisfied, vampire.”
“Never,” Eric said, kissing Sookie’s forehead. He enjoyed his morning with her for a minute longer, and then began to feel a bit sluggish. “I think it is time for me to go to the cubby, lover,” he said regretfully.
Sookie jumped up and examined him.
Eric chuckled, “Do not worry, min kära. I am just feeling a slight pull now, but nothing else is happening to me physically. Will you join me for a while?”
Sookie smiled. “I was planning on it.”
Sookie grabbed her robe off of the end of the bed and her phone, and Eric picked her up, half carrying and half flying her to the cubby. They settled into each other comfortably after Sookie set her phone alarm.
“I love you,” Eric whispered as he fell into his daytime slumber.