Sookie finally caught her breath and found her voice after about ten minutes of resting her head against Eric’s silent chest, “You should write a book.”
He laughed, “On what, my lover?” He emphasized the last word, causing an involuntary shiver to go through her body.
“Female anatomy―and, of course, what to do with it.”
He chuckled. “Do you think it would be a great money-maker, min kván?”
“Oh yeah,” she sighed. She was silent for a moment and said contemplatively, “I don’t know how you manage it, but it seems that sex with you just keeps gettin’ better and better and better. And since our first time next to that little brook was the best physical experience of my life up to that point, the fact that it’s gettin’ even better is almost impossible to believe. It’s scary.”
“I shall have to strive to keep improving then,” he chuckled as he lazily stroked her back. “There is still much we have not done together,” he said, his voice rippling with promised future passion.
“Cheese and rice!” Sookie exclaimed. “If it gets better than tonight, I don’t know if I can take it!”
“Oh―you’ll take it,” Eric teased naughtily.
Sookie laughed and hit his arm lightly. “Don’t get all nasty,” she playfully scolded.
“But I cannot help myself,” his voice was just as playful. “I want to do all kinds of very, very bad and nasty things to you.”
She swatted him again but giggled. “Well, you’re gonna have to shelve those thoughts for now, cowboy, ‘cause I can hardly move!”
He grasped the hand that had just swatted him and entwined his long fingers with hers. “I do love it when you call me that. I am glad that you haven’t chosen a pet name that I do not enjoy. There are many insipid ones in common use today.”
Sookie laughed. “You’d better keep me happy then, cowboy, or I’ll start calling you something like ‘sweetie pie’ or ‘snookums.’”
Eric chuckled with her, “I shall endeavor to do everything I can to avoid that, min kära―even if I must make your happiness my sole pursuit in life.”
They both smiled widely, she into his chest as she snuggled deeper, and he into her hair as he took in her scent.
Her fingers had unconsciously begun to trace patterns on his chest and fell upon the pendant he’d carved for her, which was lying next to the claw necklace that he always wore. She’d noticed that he’d been wearing it when they’d made love; now she thumbed it gently. “I’m glad you found this. I didn’t even know I’d lost it.”
Eric brought his hand over hers―over the pendant. “When Debbie took you, it was torn from you. The knot did not hold.”
Sookie sat up in bed next to him. She readjusted so that she was sitting cross-legged facing Eric and then pulled the comforter over her lap. “Well, Mr. Viking. Do you know how to tie knots that can’t be broken.”
Eric looked at her seriously. “I do.”
She nodded. “I thought you would. Show me.”
Eric sat up against the headboard and took off the necklace he’d made for Sookie. His deft fingers quickly untied the simple knot he’d put in the leather cord earlier, and his fathomless blue eyes took on the faraway look they got when he was about to access his human past. Sookie couldn’t help but to reach out and put her hand on his hip, which was poking out just above the blanket. No matter how close she was to him, she longed to be touching him, especially when he shared a part of himself with her like she knew he was about to.
He spoke in a low voice. “My father taught me to tie knots that would lock a ship to its anchor no matter what the condition of the sea or weather. He taught me how to moor one of our ships at harbor through the winter so that it would be secure until it was needed again the next spring.”
Eric took Sookie’s hand in his and then held it up before him. He placed the leather cord that held the pendant over her wrist. “Godric told me of the Knot of Hercules, the love knot. In ancient Greece and Rome, this knot was used to symbolize the everlasting bond of marriage.”
Eric smiled at Sookie as he moved his own wrist next to hers and entwined his fingers with hers. He draped the leather cord over his wrist as well and then circled their joined wrists with it.
“Have you heard the phrase ‘tie the knot,’ lover?” Eric asked, his tone equal parts playful and serious.
With a smile of her own, Sookie nodded as Eric brought the leather strip around their joined wrists a second time.
“The phrase is most likely derived from the use of knots to symbolize eternal love as in the case of the Celtic love knot.” He paused as he lightly traced the path of the leather strip around their wrists with his free hand. “More than five hundred years before I was born, the Celtic love knot was first seen in art and stonework. Celtic love knots are said to represent the entwining of two souls for eternity.”
Sookie tilted her head a bit and looked into Eric’s soulful eyes. “Is that what you want, Eric? Eternity?”
The vampire continued to trace the leather cord around their connected wrists even as he looked directly into her expressive brown eyes, which seemed so deep that they anchored him to the very earth itself.
“It is not,” he said, surprising her. “Not unless that eternity includes you with me.”
Sookie looked at Eric contemplatively, “What is it like to live for a thousand years?”
He returned her earnest look. “It is long. Sometimes―in moments of great change―it is wonderful. The world seems to open up to endless possibilities and a thousand lifetimes seems too little. Other times, I have felt like one of the wooden ships of my people that I have seen in museums―weathered and worn away until there was little left of value or use.” He raised his free hand up to Sookie’s cheek. “I was in such a state when I first saw you.”
“And now?” Sookie asked.
Eric smiled, a smile that literally took her breath with it; his eyes lit up like the pictures of the Mediterranean Sea that she’d seen in travel magazines. “Now―I am the one who has been moored safely to harbor, min kära, safely knotted to my home―to you.”
A tear slipped down Sookie’s cheek. “In another thousand years, would you be tired of me, Eric?”
The vampire shook his head and smirked. “Sookie,” he said sincerely, “a thousand years with you would be the tip of the iceberg. I am sure that you would surprise me every day because you―my love―are the kind of woman who would learn something new every day just so that you could.”
Another tear joined the first down Sookie’s cheek even as a slide of tears formed on her opposite cheek. Eric used his free hand to thumb away her tears and then returned it to the leather cord around their wrists, giving Sookie a moment of silence to compose herself. She moved her free hand over Eric’s, and looked at him through unshed tears. “One day, you’re gonna want me to become a vampire, aren’t you?”
“And if I don’t?” Sookie asked, her voice tumbling with emotion and―perhaps―a bit of fear.
“It does not matter, min kära,” Eric reassured, “not as much as you might think. It is simply what I want, but not what I need to have happen.”
She looked at him with questions in her eyes, “Why not?”
He answered, “Our days―our very existences―are tied like a knot now. Five minutes, five hours, five years, five decades, five centuries, five millennia―these are all merely numbers that represent corporality. I will take all the time with your body that I can, but after that,” he paused and took in an unneeded breath, “after that I now have found confidence in my soul. It will find yours in whatever realm it moves to after this body meets the true death.”
“And my soul won’t let yours get away,” she smiled as more tears slipped down her cheeks. “Never.”
Eric smiled back at her with confidence. “So it is settled then, and you have time to decide what you want.”
“Time to decide if I wanna be a vampire.”
“All the time you need, min kära,” Eric said sincerely.
Sookie smiled wider, “In that case, you’d better tie me a good knot then.” She gestured toward the leather strip around their wrists.
A smile grew on Eric’s face as well, “Which one do you want? The Celtic love knot? The knot of Hercules?”
“Tie me the one from home, Eric.”
A red tear slipped down Eric’s cheek as he tied the knot that his human father had taught him almost a thousand years before, a knot that he hoped would forever moor Sookie to his side.
Once finished, he gently placed the necklace back over his beloved’s head. He had left just enough give in the leather cord so that it could be put on easily but was still secure. The pendant with their carved initials fell to just above her heart. He knew that the knot would hold.
Sookie brought her hand up to wipe away his tear and then moved it to the pendant. She stroked it lovingly before moving her fingers to his chest, where the necklace he always wore lay.
“What kind of claw is this?” Sookie asked thumbing Eric’s pendant.
Eric smiled and brought his hand up to join hers. He traced the claw’s edge and then leaned back against the headboard more fully again. “It is an eagle’s talon.”
“Why do you wear it?”
Eric smiled wider, “Godric gave it to me.”
“Oh? Does it mean anything?”
“It means many things, my wife. Do you know who Odin is?”
“Yeah,” Sookie nodded. “He was one of your gods, right?”
“Yes,” Eric confirmed. “Odin, the All-Father, was chief among the gods and goddesses of my people in the Æsir, which was the pantheon of our gods. He was associated with battle, war, and,” he paused, “death.”
Sookie moved so that she too was sitting against the headboard but turned her body so that she could look at Eric as he spoke; unconsciously, he pulled the comforter over her.
He continued, “Odin was also associated with magic, poetry, and wisdom. He was able to transform himself into an eagle to better see the actions of men and the other gods. He was a crafty one, was Odin.” He smiled.
“Like you,” Sookie said as she once again brought her fingers up to his pendant.
“Perhaps,” Eric smirked. His eyes once again drifted into the long ago past. “When I was young, I loved hearing the stories of Odin more than any others my mother told. I liked that he had two sides. He was a fierce warrior when he needed to be, but he was always wise and prepared for battle. In addition to becoming an eagle himself at times, he had two ravens that he sent out every day to gather even more knowledge for himself. I admit that even as a young boy, I was thirsty for knowledge, especially from those whom my people had captured and brought back to our homeland as slaves. Once they integrated into our community and learned our language, I could often be found pestering them for their people’s stories. My father, however,” Eric smirked again, “did not like my interest in other cultures, but in my mind, I thought of Odin.”
Sookie grinned, “So you compared yourself to a god.” She joked, “And I thought your ego was big now!” She reached over and tickled his ribs a bit, causing the vampire to giggle like the boy he’d been when he’d first heard the tales of Odin from his mother. And the thousand-year-old vampire let himself giggle freely too, a fact that caused Sookie to grin even wider.
Eric went to tickle her back, but Sookie raised her hands. “Wait!” she squeaked. “Tell me more. Why did Godric give you the eagle talon?”
Eric laughed at his bonded’s diversionary tactics and settled for a quick kiss on the lips rather than a tickle. He leaned back once again, resting against the headboard he’d made and enjoying the feel of the smooth wood next to his skin. “I once told Godric about my fascination with Odin and why it was that I liked him so much; I was especially drawn to his ability to transform into an eagle.” He chuckled. “I think it was because I was able to fly too as a vampire. I have often used this ability to gain knowledge.”
Sookie shook her head, “Maybe you are a little like Odin, after all: a warrior, but a wise one.”
“I try to be,” Eric said earnestly before continuing his story. “Godric was born Gaul, but when he was a young boy, the Romans took over the area where he was raised, and he was taken in by a Roman legionnaire, who trained him in the art of war,” Eric smiled and then added, “as well as the art of love.”
Sookie gasped, “How old was Godric? He couldn’t have been much more than a kid.” Involuntarily, she cringed, as she thought about Uncle Bartlett and her own experiences as a child.
Sensing Sookie’s change of mood and correctly guessing the source of that change, Eric quickly scooted closer to her so that he could take her into his arms in comfort. He assured, “Things were not the same for young people in the past, Sookie. In Godric’s culture, he would have been declared a man at age 12 or 13. It was the same for me. And people often married quite young.” Eric stroked his beloved’s hair. “Do not fear that the Roman took Godric against his will. My maker often talked of him with great affection. I am certain that even after more than two thousand years, Godric carried much love for him.”
Sookie nodded and snuggled into Eric’s chest. “Tell me more?” she asked.
Eric continued, “Godric followed the Roman legionnaire into many battles. The eagle was the symbol of the legion. This predator was said to carry Jupiter’s thunderbolts into war; thus, it was a sign of great strength.”
Sookie once again thumbed the talisman.
Eric’s voice grew quieter. “Godric saved my life many, many times, especially when I was a young vampire. That ego you spoke of got me into trouble at first, and I was often over-confident. But Godric was always there until I learned better.”
Sookie sighed and kissed Eric’s chest, becoming even more thankful for Godric.
“I saved Godric’s life once, only once,” he continued. “It was almost 700 years ago, and we’d been traveling in northern Spain, trailing and feeding upon a group that was on a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Godric and I separated one evening near a small town. He went to feed, and I desired to take a look at the structure of a Medieval church that was nearby; the church was reputed to have used a unique kind of buttress as support. About an hour after we had separated, Godric called me to him, which was unusual. Even more unusual was that I felt anxiety from him through our bond; generally, Godric was extremely proficient at shutting his side of the bond off from me. It was one of his many talents, but that night, I could feel that he had lost control of that ability. I flew to his location quickly, but I did not go straight to him. Instead, I stopped so that I could figure out the best course of action before I went in to get Godric.”
Eric grasped Sookie’s hand lovingly and then continued, “Many of the pilgrims were quite wealthy and had precious materials with them to present as an offering once they got to the cathedral. Somehow, a group of them had discovered Godric feeding, and by chance, one of these offerings was a silver sceptre with a sharp, pointed end. Godric had been stabbed by it, and the silver was weakening him; he could not escape. The pilgrims had other silver pieces too, and they had been clever enough to place them over Godric’s body as well. They had sent some of their number to awaken the town’s priests, for they thought that Godric was an agent of Satan, who had come to deter them from their pilgrimage.
“There were about twenty men left behind to guard Godric with one acting as sentry outside the dwelling, which luckily was not a private residence, but was instead a kind of stable and storage house about a mile from the town proper. I glamoured the sentry to believe that another minion of Satan had been spotted attacking the town, and all but two of the pilgrims were sent to help. They took several of the pieces of silver with them. I was able to incapacitate the two remaining men quickly, and I took Godric safely from the area before the others returned. It was close to dawn by then, so I fed Godric some of my own blood and the blood of an eagle, which I had found near the cave that we’d been staying in. The next evening, he presented me with the eagle’s talon as well as with my freedom. Of course, I chose to stay with Godric on and off after that, but the gift of freedom from a maker to a child is very precious, especially given the number of makers who wish to keep complete control over their progeny.” Eric said this last part with derision, and Sookie couldn’t help but think about Lorena.
Sookie ran her fingers once more over the talon and sighed as she thought about the complexities and depth of the man she loved.
After a few moments of silence, Sookie yawned, and Eric lay them down again. After they’d settled once more into each other, his hand reclaimed hers, and he placed their shared grip over his heart.
His fingers traced the lines of her palm for a few minutes, and then he brought her hand to his lips before lightly kissing each fingertip, the back of her hand, her wrist and finally her palm. He said softly:
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.
“What’s that from?” Sookie asked. “I’ve read that before; I know I have. Is it Shakespeare?”
“Yes,” Eric said softly, once again kissing her palm. “It is from Romeo and Juliet―when they first meet.”
“Love at first sight,” Sookie sighed sleepily.
“Probably closer to lust,” Eric chuckled. “They were teenagers, after all.”
“And they died before they even got started,” she said sadly.
Abruptly, Sookie sat up in bed, now fully awake; the tension was clear on her face.
“What is wrong, my love?” Eric asked alarmed, as he also sat up.
Sookie spoke passionately, “Debbie called you ‘Romeo’ earlier and me ‘Juliet,’ and I don’t want to compare us to them.”
Eric would have laughed, but Sookie’s look was so serious―so earnest. He assured, “I was not intending to compare us to them, min kván.”
Sookie nodded her head, her fiery nature spilling out. “We can fight for each other―always come to save each other like you did for me tonight, but we can’t be stupid like they were.”
“Stupid?” Eric asked.
“Yeah. I hated that play after I was done reading it. When you think about it, Romeo and Juliet are just two stupid kids. At first, he’s all talkin’ about how he loves some other chick named . . . ,” she paused as she tried to remember.
“Rosaline,” he supplied.
“Yeah―that’s it. And then Romeo and Juliet see each other and fall in love in―what―like two minutes, and then they get married within two more, and then, the next thing you know, Juliet is takin’ a drug that’ll make her look dead before Romeo even knows the plan! Before he knows the frickin’ plan! I would make darn well sure you knew the plan before I did anything half so dumb! And then Romeo kills himself, and then she kills herself for real. Stupid―right?”
Eric couldn’t hold in his laughter this time. “See what I mean?” he said. “You, my love, see things in such unique ways. I will never get tired of hearing everything you think.” He gripped her hand and raised it to his lips again. He got a mischievous look in his eyes, “Then who should we compare our love to?” Antony and Cleopatra? Tristan and Isolde? Or maybe your Rhett and Scarlet?”
“No!” Sookie exclaimed quickly before laughing at her own zeal. “Definitely NOT Scarlet and Rhett. That silly woman lets that beautiful man get away, and I don’t intend to do anything of the sort. She pines away years for Ashley Wilkes and can’t even see that the love of her life has been in front of her the whole time―always watching out for her!” Sookie snorted. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Ashley was a vampire and that he’d tied himself to Scarlett and was manipulating her with his blood. That’s the only possible explanation for her not recognizing that Rhett was so much better!”
Eric laughed out loud. “The actor that played Wilkes was certainly as pasty as Bill Compton. Of course, Bill’s Southern accent is much more annoying.”
Sookie giggled, “Scarlett needed to break the blood tie and toss Ashley to the curb.”
“Like you did with Bill,” Eric said, reaching out to tickle Sookie’s ribs.
She laughed and pushed his hand away. “Exactly.”
After a minute, Sookie added, “I don’t think we should compare what we have to anyone else.”
Eric chuckled, “You are right, min kván. There is no one like us.”
“Damned skippy,” Sookie said, smiling. Just then, her stomach let out of loud growl, causing them to laugh together again.
“We must feed that monster,” Eric said dramatically, rising from bed. He went to his dresser and quickly pulled on a pair of track pants before going to the closet and getting a black, button-down, long-sleeved shirt out of it. He turned to her and leered, “I would very much enjoy seeing you wear my clothing, min älskare.”
The lustful look in his eye when he said those words made Sookie shiver again. She bit her lip and got out of bed, walking naked toward him. She turned around as he helped her into the dress shirt, and then she turned back around as they both buttoned her into it, him starting from the top and her starting from the bottom. Their eyes never left each other’s.
“You know I want you again,” he growled. “I always want to be buried into you―to be as close to you as possible.”
She smiled and bit her lip even harder, ready to forsake her stomach so that they could both take what they wanted from each other’s bodies. However, the traitorous organ had other plans and growled again, even more angrily.
They both laughed. “Soon,” he promised.
“Very soon,” she confirmed.
Sookie quickly went to the bathroom and saw to her human needs before washing her hands. She found Eric in the kitchen, looking in the cabinets. “We shall have to get you more and better food tomorrow evening, wife. I’m afraid, I do not have very many selections.”
“What you have is fine,” Sookie scolded as she reached up and grabbed a can of soup. “I love everything that you bought and put into this house―and all your other houses―just for me. Everything is perfect!”
Eric chuckled as he got out a pot for Sookie to use to warm her meal and the can opener from a drawer. He loved it when Sookie’s passion rose unexpectedly over mundane things.
He opened the can for her and then dumped the contents into the pot. She turned on the burner as he put the pot onto it. And then she wrapped herself into his arms, enjoying the feeling of his cool, bare chest on her warm cheek.
“Shall I build us a fire, my love?” he asked as he kissed her forehead.
“That would be real nice,” Sookie answered. He kissed her again and moved into the living room as she staying in the kitchen and stirred her soup.
It didn’t take long for it to warm, and by the time it was ready, Sookie had prepared a tray with some crackers she’d found, a glass of water for herself, and a warmed blood for Eric. She added the steaming bowl of soup, a napkin, and a spoon, and walked into the living room just in time to see the best sight in the world, Eric’s bottom in the perfect position for study as he bent over the fire to add another log. He’d already fixed them a pallet on the floor.
“Yummy,” she muttered as she put the tray on the coffee table and sat down on the pallet.
“You seem quite enthusiastic about your―uh―food, lover,” Eric teased as he turned around to face her. From the flame that immediately colored her cheeks, there was no doubt about what she’d just called “yummy.”
Sookie teased back, “Yes, I was just thinkin’ about how scrumptious and tasty my soup is gonna be.” She took her spoon and dipped it slightly into the hot soup before bringing it slowly to her lips and blowing on it. When it was cool, she brought the bite to her mouth and then made a point of licking the spoon until it was sparkling clean. Her eyes never left Eric’s.
Eric watched her with glazed over eyes, his cock stirring noticeably under his thin track pants. “If you want to get through that meal of yours, min älskare,” he growled dangerously, “you’d better be a bit less naughty yourself.” His eyes glistened with amusement and lust.
Sookie chuckled as Eric calmed himself, joined her on the floor, and picked up the blood she’d brought for him. They settled into a comfortable silence for a few minutes as they ate their respective meals.
“What will you name your kitten, min kära?”
“Don’t you think we should name our kitten together?”
Eric thought for a moment. “Perhaps, but he was your gift, so I think that ultimate naming rights go to you.”
“Always you with your logic,” Sookie teased. “I don’t know. Maybe we should wait to see what his personality will be like. We hardly know him yet. I think we should bring him up here with us when we come, however. I don’t like that we’ve left him all alone.”
Eric smiled, “If you really wish to bring him to the cabin, we will. However, he’ll have to learn to fly with us.”
“We’ll get him a little cat carrier that we can close him up tight in so that the wind doesn’t freeze him,” Sookie said, taking another bite of her soup.
Eric laughed. “We’ll get a special one made if need be.”
There were a few more minutes of comfortable silence between them as Sookie finished her meal.
“I love this,” Sookie sighed contentedly as she stared into the fire.
“Sharing meals?” Eric asked, following Sookie’s gaze.
“Yeah that,” Sookie said as their eyes pulled from the fire to each other’s at the same time, “and also just sharing life with you.”
Eric nodded. “I love this too.”
A/N: By the way, I really do think that Romeo and Juliet is kind of an insipid love story―I think W. Shakespeare would laugh his ass off if he knew that these star-crossed lovers were looked at as one of literature’s ultimate love stories. I think that Shakespeare was poking fun at the craziness of young love even as society itself can destroy the innocence of youth. I much prefer Eric and Sookie’s love story. But if you are a fan of Romeo and Juliet, I’m sorry if I offended. Just don’t do anything crazy―until after your beloved knows the plan.