Sookie sighed happily as Eric rested on her stomach. She’d insisted that he take some cuddling from her. In truth, he loved to be in her arms so much that she needn’t have. Being held by her was his favorite activity.
The clever kitten had rejoined them on the bed and was currently accepting a belly rub from Eric even as Sookie stroked her husband’s hair lovingly.
“He likes you―you know.”
Eric chuckled. “He likes being pet.”
“Just like you?” Sookie teased as she tousled his hair lovingly.
“Mmm,” Eric voiced as he burrowed into her more fully. “Indeed―as long as the petting is from you.”
Sookie continued to caress Eric’s hair and then his broad, smooth shoulders. He sighed under her light touches. To Sookie’s ears, his contented sound was the best one in the world. She knew in her heart that he had never made such a noise before they’d been together, and that overwhelmed her―both from sadness that he’d gone so many years without what they had together and from gratefulness that they had found such contentment in each other. She still didn’t know what in the world she could have done to deserve the man in her bed, but she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth. She’d already grabbed onto him with both hands and didn’t intend to let him get away.
“What time is it?” she asked.
“It’s just after 8:00, min kván.”
Sookie smiled, “One more hour before the workers get here to start your workshop.”
He raised his body up so that he could look at her; she noticed that one of his brows rose delightfully along with his body. “You did not have to make that the first thing they worked on, wife.”
She continued to stroke his hair, using her fingernails to create contact with his scalp. He sighed again, which caused her to grin and the vampire bond to fill with her joy. “Yes I did. After all, you have a bed to start makin’. And anyway, Scott has to draw up plans for the structural improvements to the house before they can get started on it. That’ll take a few days, and by then your workshop will be practically finished.”
“What wood would you like me to use for our new bed, lover?” Eric purred as he cuddled back into her. “Something sturdy, I’m guessing? Something that won’t squeak?”
Sookie blushed and popped Eric on the shoulder. He grinned wider and kissed her bare stomach. Whenever he could elicit one of Sookie’s little ‘love pats,’ he felt a surge of victory. Sookie felt that surge through the bond and gave him an even louder pop, causing the kitten to look up at her in disapproval.
Both chuckled at this.
Sookie blushed all the way down to the stomach that he was lying on as she said, “Better make it very sturdy—vampire-sturdy.” She bit her lip. “There are so many squeaks in this one now that I don’t think even you could fix them all―despite the fact that you have proven your prowess with―uh―wood.”
He chuckled and gave her a little tickle, earning him a glare from the kitten this time. Unconsciously, Eric patted its head, silently asking for forgiveness, which the kitten immediately granted by sprawling onto its back and accepting another belly rub.
Sookie grinned widely. Both of her boys seemed to be purring in happiness. She asked, “What kind of wood do you suggest? You know more than I do about it, after all.”
Eric looked up at her. “Well, we want something strong that will last a long time.” He moved up on the bed and lay on his side so that he could look at her. He pulled the blanket over her body to keep her warm and rested his hand in the dip created between her hip and her waist as she mirrored his pose.
“There are many lovely woods for furnishings, but I would suggest mahogany or oak,” he said. Sookie noticed a faraway look enter into her beloved’s eyes. She smiled. She associated this look with him accessing something from his past or from the archives of his almost thousand years of accumulated knowledge.
He continued, “The Celts honored the oak tree for its strength and endurance. And Godric spoke of the Romans wearing oak leaves to indicate nobility and power. The oak’s ability to endure for hundreds of years has made it a symbol of wisdom for many cultures.”
Sookie ran the backs of her fingers along Eric’s shoulders as he went on, “I first saw mahogany trees in what is now Honduras, though I had seen the lumber in Europe before then. It is a rare wood now—endangered. It takes one hundred years or more for a tree to mature. Like the oak, it is also known for its endurance and strength.” Eric smiled at her, “Mahogany trees have beautiful light green flowers when they bloom, flowers shaped like little stars.” He looked deeply into her eyes and stroked her cheek. “Sometimes, I see that green in your eyes, mixed in with caramel and chocolate and bronze and copper and wheat and the color of the mahogany tree itself.”
His voice caught, “But when I first saw your eyes in the morning sun—that morning at the lake—it was that green that surprised me. It was the green that I didn’t expect to see there.” Sookie could feel a swirl of emotions coming from him through the vampire bond; there was love and contentment, but there was also longing—intense and never-ending longing for her. She knew that his talk about expectations versus reality applied to more than just the color of her eyes too. Neither one of them had expected to stumble upon the ‘epic’ kind of love they’d found. When she first saw Eric, she had been infatuated with Bill, or maybe she had just been influenced by his blood—maybe both. But she’d never expected to fall deeply and unabashedly in love with the mysterious, gorgeous vampire who’d been sitting up on that throne in Fangtasia. No—her wildest dreams wouldn’t have taken her from that moment to this one. Consequently, she was extremely grateful that reality had proven to be so much better.
He leaned forward and kissed her nose lightly. “I cannot wait, min kära, until we can let the sun into our bedroom in the mornings so that I can see that green in them once more.” His own eyes held a flirtatious smile as he continued to stroke her cheek. “Of course, even now without that hint of green, the beauty of your eyes enraptures me.”
Sookie smiled at him and was silent for a few minutes as she enjoyed the emotions churning between them. Finally she spoke, “So mahogany is endangered? Does that mean we shouldn’t use it?”
Eric chuckled. “I know a guy.”
Sookie chortled and rolled her eyes. “Of course you do.”
Eric tickled her a bit and then brought his hand up to caress her shoulder. He smiled warmly, “This guy raises the wood properly, always replenishing even as he takes. I can get some from him if you like.”
Her nose crinkled a bit. “That sounds expensive—and illegal?”
Eric grinned, “What is legal in the human world is often arbitrary; however, I can assure you that my contact has all the necessary permits.” He paused, his face turning serious. “I know that money is an issue for you, my love. I know that you have swallowed your pride concerning the expense of the renovations to your home, and . . . .”
She interrupted, “Our home, Eric. And yes, it is hard to get used to the fact that I no longer have to worry about money―after a lifetime of worrying about it. I’ll never be the kind of girl that gets designer jeans when a $20 pair from Old Navy or Target would work just as well. I’ll never be one to want to wear diamonds every day, except for the ones on my pledging ring.” She smiled as she looked at the tiny diamonds surrounding the sapphires on her ring finger. “But when it comes to the world we are making together, it doesn’t really matter who buys what anymore, just as long as we both decide on what to buy together.” She grinned, “So, sugar daddy, I’ve decided to accept the fact that I’m married to Daddy Warbucks, but you have to accept the fact that I’m not ever gonna become one of those women who just works to spend her husband’s money all the time.”
Eric chuckled, “Wasn’t Daddy Warbucks bald?”
Sookie popped Eric on the shoulder, earning her a jolt of triumph from Eric’s side of the bond. “I really am gonna have to come up with another way to punish you, vampire.”
Eric leered. “Please do, min älskare. I welcome any attempts you wish to make to force my submission to you,” he added suggestively.
Sookie popped him again before yawning loudly. “You have kept me up all night―again―vampire,” she joked.
Eric kissed the top of her head and pulled her into his chest; he could feel Sookie’s tiredness struggling with her amusement. “Then sleep, min kära.”
She nestled into him, and the kitten settled next to Eric again. Soon, Sookie’s breathing once again rose and fell in even currents, indicating her sleep. Eric smiled into her hair.
At 9 o’clock sharp, he heard Miranda and Jarod greet Scott Cusmano outside. Scott and his workmen had arrived to begin the workshop. Eric smiled even wider, and with his family settled safely into his body, he fell into his own daytime sleep.