Sookie and Eric stood on the porch for a few more minutes before Eric noticed Sookie shivering. He shook himself out of his awe for his bonded one and wrapped the old afghan around her before picking her up and taking her back inside.
“A fire, min kära?” he asked.
“Please,” she smiled and then asked, “So, what’s on the agenda tonight? Don’t you need to go into work at some point?”
“I am working,” he said in mock defensiveness.
“Oh―and what kind of work are you doing, pray tell?” she asked, feigning sternness.
He pulled her into his arms, “I am in training to be a good husband to you. I am working to make sure all your needs are met.”
Sookie smiled, “Well, so far, your training is going quite well.” Then she became more serious. “But Eric, I don’t wanna be the reason for you not doing what you need to.”
“As I told you, now that we are together, I will be turning the running of Fangtasia over to Pam and Chow. Truth be told, this has been all but done already in the past year.”
“But you love your club, Eric.” She flashed him a mischievous smile, “You love sittin’ on your throne and being the center of attention.”
Eric scoffed, “I am a tourist attraction, my love―or at least I was. I admit that I enjoyed the challenge of making Fangtasia successful after the Great Reveal, and at first, I also enjoyed the choice of women who would present themselves to me in my club.”
He felt Sookie’s jealousy rising in the bond, so he quickly continued, “But I have not felt that way since you walked into the doors of Fangtasia. From that moment on, I wanted you more than any other―until finally I wanted only you. Fangtasia no longer holds any delight for me, and as I have told you before, I have more money than I could spend in a thousand more years, more than even Pam could spend in a thousand years, I think.” He chuckled. “And I have investments that are making me more every day.”
He reached over to stroke her cheek, “Many times in my life, I have taken time to find a new passion or business interest. If you think you could bear having me around, then that is what I intend to do for the immediate future, even as I enjoy learning to be a doting, attentive, adoring husband.” Eric bent down and kissed Sookie’s forehead at each of his last four words before placing a light kiss on her lips. “I think they call it a house husband.”
Sookie giggled, “Oh, I think I can handle having you around―as long as you earn your keep.”
“Whatever do you have in mind, lover?” Eric leered, pulling Sookie closer to him. “I’m ready to beginning earning.”
Sookie smiled up at him teasingly, “Then you better get that cute ass of yours in gear and make me a fire!” Sookie swapped his bottom playfully.
“Cold-hearted woman,” Eric sighed in mock exasperation.
She laughed. As Eric made a fire, Sookie tried to distract herself from looking at his beautiful body, now clad only in his boxers, by pulling the quilts that she’d folded earlier back down on the floor and remaking their pallet. She said, “I should call Jason and tell him about our pledge!”
Eric looked back at her, “Of course, lover, but I instructed Pam to make sure Jesus, Lafayette, and your brother met you tomorrow evening at the safe house. If you wish to tell them in person, you may do so then.”
Sookie contemplated for a moment. “I think I’d like to call him now, just to tell him what’s happening.”
Eric zipped to the cubby and back at vampire speed, returning with his phone. He was dressed in track pants and a T-shirt when he came back in. “I will give you a few moments in private to call your brother and friends. I’ll just do a quick sweep of the surroundings to make sure we are secure.” He kissed her gently on the forehead and left her sitting on the pallet in front of the warm fire he’d built for her.
She dialed Jason, suddenly quite nervous.
“Hello?” Jason answered after a couple of rings.
“Hey Jase,” Sookie replied.
“Sook! Pam called me last night to tell me I had to come to Shreveport tomorrow night, but I was sorta asleep when she called, so I thought I might be dreamin’ it. When I came by your house this mornin’ to ask you about it, only Miranda and Jarod were there. What’s up?”
Sookie took a deep breath. “Well, Jase, remember the other day when Eric proposed to me?”
“Well, you can’t tell anyone about this, but tomorrow night, we’re gonna be pledged―that’s like gettin’ vampire married.”
There was a pause at Jason’s end. “Do I have to give you away or anythin’? Should I wear a suit?”
Sookie laughed, “No, Jase. It’s not all that―uh―formal. I’m just gonna go in to Fangtasia and hand Eric a dagger, and then we’re pledged.”
“A dagger?” Jason asked. Then he paused again. “Well, vamps don’t do shit normal, that’s for sure. But I’ll be there, Sook.”
She grinned into the phone, “Thanks, Jase. See you tomorrow, and remember not to tell anyone, okay?” After Sookie hung up with her brother, she dialed Lafayette and Jesus’s house. Jesus answered.
“Hey Jesus,” Sookie said.
“Hey Sook,” Jesus returned, “what’s up?”
“Well, I was really just callin’ to give y’all some warnin’ about tomorrow night.”
“Yeah, Pam called us last night―actually real early this morning―and told us to meet you in Shreveport tomorrow night. We’re supposed to ride in with Bubba. What’s going on, Sook?”
“Jesus, Eric and I are gettin’ pledged tomorrow night.”
There was silence on the other end of the line for several moments. “Sookie, this is big.”
“I know,” Sookie smiled. “Eric said that a vampire has never pledged to a human before.”
“Wow,” Jesus said. “Laf is at work right now, but I’ll tell him, Sook,” Jesus assured. “And I’m real honored to be there for you.”
“I’m happy you and Lala will be there too, Jesus.”
Sookie hung up the phone and lay on her side looking into the fire. She thought about all the people she’d like to have at her pledging that would not be there: Gran, Grandpa Earl, her parents, Tara. But of all of them, she’d miss Gran the most.
It was the bond that let Sookie know that Eric was back in the room with her. She turned and saw him standing just a few feet away from her.
“Hey,” she greeted.
“You are sad, min kära,” Eric said in a low voice. “Does your family not approve of our pledging?”
Sookie smiled up at him, “It’s not that. Jason and Jesus both seemed happy for me―us. I was just thinkin’ ‘bout all the people I’d like to be there, especially Gran.”
“Oh,” Eric said as he lay down behind Sookie and pulled her to spoon into his long body. He rubbed gentle circles into her shoulders and arm for several minutes before speaking. “I find myself wishing that Godric were here as well.” He paused for a moment, “And, like you, I wish that your Gran were able to see us pledge. She became,” he paused again, “important to me.”
“I know. Your dream self told me.”
Sookie nestled into Eric and lay her head onto his arm. He draped his other arm over her and tucked her into him fully.
Pressed together, they lay quietly for a little more than an hour, just looking at the fire. Eric felt Sookie’s grief for her Gran through their bond and knew that there was nothing that he could do to take that particular kind of pain from his beloved one. He recognized that he could distract her body and mind with a sexual act, but that would merely cover up her grief, not take it away.
Eric knew first hand of the emptiness of such attempts. He had tried to use Yvetta and many others to cover up the hole that had been left inside of him after Godric’s death. That hole had been healed only by time.
So he lay quietly with Sookie, soothingly stroking her arm and shoulder as he watched the fire with her, and he gave her time.