Twenty minutes later, Eric and Sookie landed in the front yard of what looked like a normal suburban home in a normal suburban neighborhood.
“I’m still waitin’ for that Gothic castle, Northman,” Sookie grumbled playfully.
Eric smiled at her, “Miranda and Jarod are inside, min kära.”
“Everything else okay?” Sookie asked, reaching up to touch his nose.
“Yes,” he answered. “No one who shouldn’t have has been here.”
Eric held Sookie steady until he was certain that she had regained her balance after their flight, and then each grabbed the other’s hand like it was the most natural thing in the world. They grinned at each other.
“They’re like magnets―you know?” Sookie said squeezing his hand and raising their shared grip up a bit.
“I know.” He pulled their hands to his lips and kissed the back of hers before letting them drop. She playfully swung them back and forth as they walked toward the house.
Eric approached the front door and exposed a hidden panel, not unlike the one at the cabin. “So all your houses have this?” Sookie asked.
Eric nodded. “Yes―most of our houses do. But different people have different levels of access. For instance, you know the main code that I use, and your thumbprint has been keyed to access everything. Pam is the only other to have this level of security, though even she has a different number to use than we do. Others, like Miranda, are coded only into certain residences.”
“Oh,” Sookie acknowledged.
As Sookie and Eric entered, they were greeted by Jarod, who nodded, “Hey, Sookie! Good evening, sheriff.”
Miranda came into the room, “Everything is ready, Eric. Bobby dropped off the food you ordered, and Pam came by earlier.” Miranda looked at Sookie with a little smile playing on her lips. “We put the packages she dropped off for Miss Stackhouse into the master bedroom.”
“Excellent,” Eric said.
“What packages?” Sookie asked.
“You’ll have to find out, min kära,” Eric said mysteriously. “For now, I should go so that I can see to area business. That way, we can get to ours quicker.” He bent down and kissed Sookie lightly on the lips. “Soon―my love.”
And with that, he left at vampire speed. Sookie felt an immediate sense of loss at his absence that seemed to pulse through their bond. She wondered if Eric felt it too. She smiled, thinking about how they’d been closer than any two people could be in the last several days, ever since Wednesday night when he’d come over for her “test.” They hadn’t been apart since then, and she sighed at the separation now, wondering if she’d ever get used to it.
Miranda interrupted her thoughts. “Miss Stackhouse, there is some food in the kitchen. And the others will be here in a little while. I suspect that you might want to start getting ready right after that.”
“You should call me Sookie―please,” she told Miranda with a smile.
“Okay,” Miranda responded, looking closely at Sookie.
“What?” Sookie couldn’t help but ask.
“It’s just that you smell a lot like him now, and he smells of you as well.”
“Well, we’ve been around each other a lot, and we’ve had each other’s blood. Wouldn’t that do it?”
“Yes,” Miranda agreed. “But there’s something a little different too. I just can’t quite place it.” She shrugged, “Oh well, you hungry?”
Sookie nodded her head vigorously, “Famished actually.”
Miranda pointed out the direction of the kitchen, and Sookie had begun to follow her toward it when she suddenly stopped, remembering something. “Oh damn!” she said, worriedly. She turned toward the front door nervously. In her mind, she was screaming, “Eric!”
Eric had felt the absence of Sookie by his side acutely from the moment he’d left her. His side of the bond was throbbing with his longing for her, but he managed to squelch his desire to immediately return to the safe house. “Suck it up, Northman,” he said to himself. “You’ll see her in just a few hours.” He sighed and smiled to himself. Never in his life had Eric felt so connected to another individual, not even to Godric. Sookie was such a large part of him now that he was not surprised that his mind and body cried out in her absence. The feeling of it―the feeling of being part of something bigger than just himself―made him all the more thankful for her.
When he was about a minute away from Fangtasia, he suddenly felt something odd from Sookie’s end of the bond. It was a rapid burst of anxiety. Immediately thereafter, he felt something that could only be compared to a vampire summoning his or her progeny. He’d had a similar feeling when Sookie had summoned him into her dream, but what he was experiencing right then was even more powerful―more like it felt when Godric had compelled him to do something.
Instantaneously, Eric stopped his progress and whirled around before heading back to the safe house as fast as he could.
Less than a minute later, Eric touched down in the yard. Sookie was waiting for him and launched herself into his arms. Miranda and Jarod were both standing close by and on high alert as they had reacted to Sookie’s sudden behavior shift from a minute before.
“What is it, my love?” Eric asked anxiously, even as he inhaled deeply to search for any threats. There were none.
“I’m sorry,” Sookie said into his chest. “It’s just that―I remembered something, and I got worried.”
Eric picked her up into his arms and walked them over to a bench on the porch. He nodded toward Miranda, and she and Jarod went inside the house. “What did you remember, Sookie?” he asked softly as he settled them onto the bench.
“You didn’t put on your vest, Eric,” Sookie said worriedly. “You promised me you would.”
Eric couldn’t help but chuckle a bit. “Sookie, the vest is at Fangtasia. I promise that it will go on me as soon as I get there, and I will carefully scan the area before I land there; I even have a secret entrance on the roof that I use. I will be fine, min kära.”
Sookie looked up at Eric, her large brown eyes bright with her worry. “I know, Eric. I know that you are more than a thousand years old and that you are obviously really good at surviving. I know that you can protect yourself and me, but I just can’t help but worry when I’m not with you.” She chuckled a bit at herself. “I just feel all wifey all of a sudden. And having snipers with wooden bullets seems like exactly the kind of thing Bill would do.”
Eric pulled her onto his lap and touched her forehead with his. “I like the idea of you feeling ‘all wifey,’ Sookie. And you needn’t worry about snipers; I am able to hear even guns that have silencers on them. And, as you know, I can avoid bullets if I wish.”
“Yeah―or run right into them.” She sighed, remembering when he had intercepted the bullet she’d intended for the Were from Jackson.
He grinned. “Perhaps that was all just a ploy to see if you’d suck it out again, min kära.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” she said, looking up at him with mirth in her eyes. “That is absolutely somethin’ that you would do, you tricky Viking.”
Eric grinned wider. “Did you know that you called me to you?”
“Huh?” Sookie asked inelegantly.
Eric chuckled, “You called me like a maker can call his or her vampire progeny―like I can call Pamela or like Godric could call me.”
Sookie looked a bit confused and then asked, “Do you think that this could be what Jesus was talkin’ about―us bein’ able to share each other’s gifts to a certain extent?”
Eric nodded, “I think so. Also, our bond and my blood may be magnifying your own fairy powers. Remember that some fairies are able to project their thoughts into others.”
Sookie nodded and bit her lip. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you or anything. I just wanted to make sure you’d be safe.”
Eric pulled her close again. “It is alright, my love. I like that you have this ability now and hope you will retain it. This way, you can call me to you whenever you need me. Also, it is nice to see that some of my own powers are being transferred to you. I was beginning to think that I was the only beneficiary when it came to gift-sharing.”
Sookie hit him lightly on his chest and looked up at him seriously. “You know that the only gift I need is the one I’m looking at, right?”
He nodded, “Ditto.”
“You really have―like―a bat entrance on the roof of Fangtasia?”
Eric chuckled, “Yes. I’ll show you sometime.”
“I bet you have a bat cave somewhere too―don’t cha?”
Eric laughed out loud, “But of course. It is underneath my castle.”
Sookie smiled and rested into Eric for another minute before getting up. He stood beside her.
He spoke low, “The next time I see you, you will be coming toward me to be my bride.” He kissed her forehead and then rested his on hers for a long moment.
“The next time I see you, you will be waiting to be my husband,” she said in a low, emotion-filled voice as she entwined her arms around him.
Eric kissed her lightly on the lips and escorted her back inside the safe house.