Sookie walked into the kitchen and noticed a veritable feast of what looked like catered food. There were fixings for sandwiches and various types of salads as well as sodas and tea. Sookie filled up a plate with a sandwich and two types of salad and grabbed a Dr. Pepper since she hadn’t had a soda for several days.
“There’s plenty for everyone to have some food,” Sookie said to Jarod and Miranda as she went into the living room to join them.
Jarod quickly took her up on her offer and went to the kitchen.
Sookie took a seat on the couch so that she could set her plate onto the coffee table.
“We were just watching a bit of the news,” Miranda said. The two women watched quietly and a bit awkwardly for several minutes as Sookie ate her food.
When Jarod rejoined them, he had a plate piled with more food than Sookie could have eaten in a whole day. He gave her a wink.
“So you worked for Godric?” Sookie asked after a few more minutes, trying to make small talk and to get to know the couple that she was going to be seeing a lot of for the foreseeable future.
“Yes,” Miranda answered with a sad smile on her face. “He was a great vampire. He treated the Weres and shifters in his area with respect and sought to work with them. He saw them as equals, which is unusual for vampires.”
Sookie smiled, “That doesn’t surprise me. I didn’t know him for long, but he seemed so kind-hearted and wise.”
“He was,” Jarod said. “It was a pleasure working for him.”
“I just wish we had known that he was going to . . .” Miranda’s voice trailed off.
“I know,” Sookie said quietly.
“You were with him,” Miranda asked quietly, “at the end?”
“And Eric?” Miranda asked.
“He was there right before,” Sookie said quietly. She didn’t want to share any specifics about Eric and Godric’s last exchange. The emotions it brought up in her were raw, both concerning the loss of Godric and the pain her beloved had felt.
Just then, Sookie’s cell phone rang, and she went to the entryway to fish it out of the backpack.
She saw Eric’s number displayed on the caller I.D. and smiled as she answered.
“You just left again,” she chided.
“True,” his voice said on the other end, “but I found that I missed you again as soon as I had parted from you, min kván. And then I felt your sorrow. Is everything okay?”
“Yes,” Sookie said. “We were just talking about Godric.”
Eric was quiet, and Sookie reached into the bond and felt Eric’s own sadness at the mention of his maker.
She changed the subject, “So has your business started yet?”
“No, but the first vampires I am seeing will be arriving soon.”
“Vest on?” she asked.
He chuckled, “As soon as I got here.”
“Okay,” Sookie said.
There was a pause. “I will see you soon, my love.”
“And I, you. Eric, I love you.”
“And I, you,” he echoed as he hung up.
She stuck her phone into her pocket.
Jarod smiled at Sookie when she returned to the living room. “Eric’s a lot like Godric, actually,” he said.
“Maybe,” Miranda said screwing up her brow.
“He is open to the new,” Jarod said looking at Sookie significantly.
“Yes, he it,” Miranda relented.
Sookie watched with interest as the exchange continued between Miranda and Jarod. It was obvious to her that the two were deeply in love. The little gestures they made to each other gave them away―their leans toward one another, their stolen glances, the way they smiled at each other with their eyes. Sookie stopped listening to what they were saying after a while as they went on to other topics. Instead, she became lost in her own world as she wondered if Eric and she looked like that to others.
She was interrupted from her reverie when both Miranda and Jarod went on high alert, their bodies tensing. Sookie couldn’t help but wonder what they looked like when they shifted into lions.
After a moment, Miranda relaxed and Jarod followed suit immediately after. “It is Bubba and your people,” Miranda said as a knock sounded at the door.
Jarod gestured for Sookie to stay seated and Miranda took a position between Sookie and the entryway as Jarod went to the door.
Sookie stayed tense until Lafayette, Jesus, Jason, and Bubba came into the entryway. Jason went immediately to Sookie and gave her a big hug. “Sis, I forgot to tell you on the phone yesterday, but congratulations.”
Sookie smiled widely and chuckled, “Thanks, Jason.”
“Well, I’m real happy for you, Sook. I think Eric’s a real good guy―I mean vampire. Gran would be real happy that you found someone who loves you like that vamp does.”
Sookie hugged her brother again, this time with tears in her eyes.
Lafayette spoke up, “This is all well and good, hooker, but you’s needs to get yourself ready or you’s gonna be goin’ to yo’ weddin’ in blue jeans.”
Sookie smiled and brushed the tears out of her eyes.
Miranda spoke up, “You should use the master bedroom, Sookie. And check those packages from Pam before you get dressed.” She winked knowingly at Sookie.
Sookie started toward the stairs and then paused, “Lafayette, when we talked earlier, you were at Merlotte’s, right?”
“Yeah,” he answered.
“Could anyone have overheard you talkin’ to me about the wedding?” she asked him.
Lafayette shook his head, “No, Sook. Don’t worry your pretty little head ‘bout that. I stepped into the walk-in freezer to talk to you, hon.”
She looked at Jesus and Jason, “Y’all didn’t tell anyone about us gettin’ pledged tonight, did you?”
Both shook their heads and Sookie confirmed this information with a glance into their thoughts, just to be safe.
Sookie sighed with relief and looked at Miranda, “Can you text Eric to say that everything is still okay and that no one told anyone.”
“Sure,” Miranda said, already pulling out her phone.
Lafayette grabbed Sookie’s arm in his and said dramatically, “We’ll be back when we’s beautiful.”
“Last door on the left!” Jarod yelled as Lafayette dragged Sookie toward the stairs.
Sookie heard Miranda telling Jason and Jesus that there was food in the kitchen, and she smiled at Jason’s predictable excitement.
As Lafayette pulled her into the master bedroom and then pulled the door closed behind them, she noticed for the first time that he was holding a bag over his shoulder.
“Da-yum,” Lafayette intoned, seeing the room. “You’s got yourself a keeper!”
Sookie took in the room as well. It looked like a picture out of Architectural Digest, but Sookie found herself longing for the rustic charm of the farmhouse or the cabin. In that moment, Sookie realized that at the end of the day, her taste and Eric’s were actually quite close. His favorite home had all the uniqueness and comfort of Gran’s; she smiled to think that Eric had seen this too as he had painstakingly renovated Gran’s home―now their home.
She was pulled out of her musing by Lafayette, who was grasping a tiny box from Tiffany’s that lay on the bed. “Shit, girl, who do all these belong to?” Lafayette said, gesturing to several boxes and a garment bag on the bed, all with designer labels on them.
Sookie shrugged. “Miranda said that Pam brought them for me.”
“Hey, there’s a note,” Lafayette said, picking up an envelope with Sookie’s name on it and handing it to his friend.
Sookie opened it. “It’s from Pam,” she said. She read it out loud, “Sookie, Eric asked me to pick out some things that you might like for this evening. But the Tiffany’s is something he got for you right after the Longshadow incident. It’ll be good to have it out of his desk drawer at Fangtasia (and you’re welcome for not stealing it). The little black box is something that he had made. The rest is the best I could do with such short notice. Really―given all the trouble I had to take, you must ask me to be your bridesmaid at your human wedding now, just to make it all up to me.”
Sookie chuckled, especially at the underlined words, and then put down the letter. She took the Tiffany’s box from Lafayette’s out-stretched hand. She opened it tentatively, and in it, she found the most beautiful ring she’d ever seen. It had three deep blue sapphires along the top, each one surrounded by small diamonds. The middle sapphire was round and larger. The other two, one on either side of the center-piece, were slightly smaller. The overall effect of diamond and sapphire was beautiful, and the platinum band that held the stones was the perfect balance of delicate and thick.
Lafayette gasped as Sookie picked the ring out of the box and held it. “Shit, Sook,” was all he could manage.
Sookie looked at the ring and saw an inscription inside. It read, “min kära.” Tears began to pool in her eyes as she held out the ring for Lafayette to see.
“What does it mean?” he asked, looking at the inscription.
“It means, ‘my beloved’ in Swedish. He first called me that in a dream, and now he says it all the time.”
“So what did she mean by right after Longshadow?”
Sookie smiled, “That was the second time we met. I was still with Bill then. It was before Eric kidnapped you. It was before―well―almost everything he and I have ever gone through together.”
They both sat down on the bed side by side. Lafayette asked, “So he bought this before you disappeared, before all that shit with the maenad, before you even went to Dallas?”
Sookie only nodded as she twirled the ring in her hands. She finally said, “He likes red; red is his favorite color.”
Confused, Lafayette waited for Sookie to make a point.
“He didn’t know blue was my favorite color at the time either. How could he have known that I love sapphires so much?” She continued to turn the ring over and over in her hands.
Lafayette shook his head, “Somethin’ about that vamp just seems to gets somethin’ about you, baby girl. Don’t ask me to explain it.”
“Yeah,” Sookie nodded. “He always has.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “It’s the perfect ring for me, Lala. It’s not too gaudy or big, you know? But still so beautiful! It looks antique!”
“Put it on,” he encouraged.
Sookie slipped the beautiful piece of jewelry onto the ring finger on her left hand. She gasped as it fit perfectly and seemed to light up her whole hand. “Perfect,” she whispered.
“Yep,” Lafayette agreed. “It looks right on your finger―sure enough.”
She smiled at him, her tears threatening to overwhelm her.
Lafayette quickly said, “None of that, hon. Don’t make your eyes all swollen ‘fore the weddin.’ Let’s check out these other packages.”
Sookie nodded, and Lafayette picked up and unzipped a thick garment bag. The bag held three dresses, all in Sookie’s size. Sookie and Lafayette both gulped as Sookie ran her fingers over the beautiful garments.
Lafayette opened one of the boxes and found lingerie, also all in Sookie’s size. Sookie blushed as she saw them, but then noticed that they were obviously chosen with each of the dresses in mind.
Another box held three pairs of shoes and handbags, each item meant to complement a dress.
“Shit, Sook!” Lafayette said as he handed her a small black box that had been on top of the lingerie. “This shit makes the stuff I brought you seem pretty uninspirin’.”
“I can only imagine,” she said as she thought about her closet’s contents. She lifted the lid of the black box and gasped for what must have been the hundredth time in the last ten minutes. Inside was a pair of beautiful drop sapphire earrings that had obviously been designed to match her ring.
Sookie sat speechless as she tried to take in all the beautiful things around her. It was Lafayette that sprang into action. “Well, missy, you’s needs to get movin’ and try these dresses on so we’s can pick one. How long do we got?”
“About two hours or so,” Sookie said a bit overwhelmed.
“Well, then you’s better scoot, hooker!” he grabbed the boxes of lingerie and shoes and put them into the en-suite bathroom. Then he pulled out the first dress. “Here, put on this one first,” he ordered. “After you’s done pickin’, we can gets to your nails and hair and make-up.”
Sookie nodded obediently. She took the dress, went into the bathroom, and shut the door to change. The dress was mostly ivory, though there was a black ribbon that tied around the waist. It was sleeveless with a V-neck, but the straps that went over the shoulders were sheer. The shirred chiffon that made up most of the dress began with a flattering modern sweetheart style cut. After the black ribbon pulled in the fabric to a flattering waistline, the skirt flowed to mid-thigh in a subtle A-line shape. Sookie grabbed the ivory-colored strapless bra and the matching lacy thong and quickly dressed. She added the ivory, strappy heals that were in the box and then took herself in in the full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door.
“Hey, hooker, you’s still in there?” Lafayette called through the door.
Sookie opened the door and peaked out. The dress fit her like is was made for her, and the cut was both flattering and a little sexy. She loved the crinkled look and feel of the chiffon.
Lafayette whistled a bit as she walked out. “Wow, Sook! You look really pretty.”
“Thanks, Lala,” she grinned. “I don’t think the others can be better, do you?”
“Maybe not, but you’s gonna try them anyways. Here―this one’s next.”
Sookie grabbed a deep blue, satin cocktail dress from Lafayette’s hands. The color was beautiful and the blue matched the stones in her ring almost perfectly.
Sookie returned to the bathroom. Wistfully, she took off the ivory dress, putting it on the counter lovingly; she was certain that she’d be coming back to it, but Lafayette was right. She needed to try on the other dresses just in case. She pulled on a black lacey bra and panty set that she knew was meant for the blue dress. She pulled the dress off the hanger and carefully put it over her head. She shimmied into it and marveled at the effect even before she zipped it up. This dress was sleek and sleeveless, much tighter than the first. The neckline, like the one on the other dress, was V-neck, though it plunged much more deeply and much less innocently. Right under the bust-line, the vertical ruching of the top of the dress gave way to tight, horizontal ruching, making the dress a modern take on an empire cut. The dress hugged and slimmed Sookie, and she immediately felt like the sexiest girl in the world in it. Whereas the ivory dress had been innocent with a touch of sexiness, this dress was all sexy.
She pulled on the black stiletto heels that Pam had gotten for the dress and again took herself in. She smiled sexily at the image; Eric would definitely like this one. And she absolutely loved the color.
She stepped outside the bathroom door. “Oh, baby!” Lafayette said, “I think we’s got ourselves a new front-runner.”
Sookie grinned. “I know―right?” By this time, Sookie was ecstatic. The ivory dress had been a ten in her book, yet this blue one seemed even more prefect.
“One more,” Lafayette smiled as he handed her the final dress, a one-shoulder fire engine red number.
Sookie took it and headed to the bathroom. She pushed off the black heels and unzipped the blue dress even more lovingly than she’d done the ivory one. She put it down gently on the counter and quickly changed into a red strapless bra and matching lacey boy shorts. After maneuvering the one-shoulder design of the red dress over her head, she felt it drop over the rest of her body with ease. The fabric felt luxuriant and was shirred toward the shoulder. The dress flowed naturally from the top of the single shoulder to her waist and beyond until it reached a few inches above the knee. The skirt, to off-set the one-shoulder look perfectly, was slightly asymmetrical.
Sookie pulled a pair of red strappy heels from the box and sat on the toilet lid as she maneuvered them on. As she stood up, she took her first look at herself in the full-length mirror and gasped yet again. She would have never picked this dress off a rack for herself, but there was something about it that made it seem meant just for her. The color off-set the lingering tan of her skin, and she felt the perfect mixture of feminine and sexy in it. The second she saw herself in it, she knew it was the dress she would pledge herself to Eric in.
She stepped out into the bedroom to the stares of both Lafayette and Jesus, who had obviously just brought his boyfriend a plate of food. Neither said a word as they took in Sookie. They didn’t need to.
Sookie turned a full circle, and Lafayette finally managed to speak. “That’s it, girl.”
Jesus added, “I didn’t see the others, but I agree.”
Sookie’s grin was radiant. She thought of how free and easy she felt in the dress, like some kind of goddess. And she also thought about Eric. He’d love the exposed shoulder, ready only for him to touch―to bite. She had to fan herself at that thought.
He’d love the way the color played with her sun-kissed skin; he’d know that the color of her skin had come from the days she’d sat out in the sun with just him in mind. Plus, it was his favorite color, and she thought about how she’d look next to him: he in his perfectly cut black suit and her in this dress. She swirled again, thinking of how the blue of the sapphires would contrast vibrantly with the red of the dress.
At that moment, a buzz was heard from her phone, signaling a text. She lunged for it, knowing it was from Eric. It read, “Remember to tell me what you were doing at this exact moment, lover. I must know.”
Sookie quickly typed back, “You’ll know when you see me.”
A moment later, Eric had sent, “I miss you. Soon.”
Sookie sent, “Yes, soon.”
Sookie smiled brightly as she put her phone back down. She raised her eyes to see Lafayette and Jesus looking at her with wide, indulgent grins on their faces.
She could only grin back.
A/N: Please indulge my little dress-finding episode. I just really love a good dress! I’ve included pictures of various things described here so you can visualize them.