A/N: Hello. If you are interested in my music selection when I was writing this chapter, click the picture.
Chapter 203: In Knots
Eric shifted on his feet as Reverent Tom Daniels joined him at the front of the auditorium.
The clergyman had a kind, understanding look in his eyes. “Nervous?” he asked.
Eric couldn’t help but to nod.
“All grooms are nervous,” Reverend Daniels mused. “I don’t see why vampires would be any different than humans.” He gave Eric a knowing smile. “I was tied up in knots the day I married my Joann, but it was the best thing I ever did.”
Eric could only nod again as Reverend Daniels reached out and patted him on the shoulder. Daniels was one of only two human ministers who had agreed to perform vampire-human weddings in Louisiana thus far. While many religious people in the state had supported the marriage legislation, it seemed to be a different matter altogether to allow vampires and humans—or gay couples, for that matter—to marry in their churches.
However, Daniels had proven to be a trailblazer, leading his congregation to be accepting of all couples to whom the marriage legislation applied. And—beyond his progressiveness—Eric had liked Reverend Daniels as soon as he’d met him.
Daniels had been an early advocate of the Fellowship of the Sun but then had dramatically switched sides seven years before when a vampire saved his wife from being raped one night as she’d been on her way home from a church potluck.
Daniels had allowed himself to be humbled in that moment. And he’d changed.
Since then, the reverend had lived his life by the tenant that no one ought to judge another being that he or she didn’t know personally—especially not based on simply a “type.”
Before he landed in the modest—though lovely—church where Eric now stood, Daniels had been the minister for one of the largest congregations in Florida. But when he had preached that it was the heart of the individual that counted―not his or her race, gender, or “species”—he’d been told to “toe the line” and preach what the elders wanted him to or to leave the church. He and his wife had left without a second thought.
After Daniels had moved to Louisiana and taken up his current post two years before, he and his wife became strong advocates for the Fair Marriage Act.
Sookie and Eric decided to approach Reverend Daniels about performing their marriage ceremony as soon as the legislation had passed. What made them “like” him was that he always treated them like a “normal” couple. Plus, Hunter gave the reverend his seal of approval when Daniels and his wife came to one of their Monday night football gatherings and proved himself to be a Vikings fan—just like his daddy and him.
Eric was broken from his thoughts and tensed up as the music started; he automatically reached out to his bonded—seeking his mate’s “help.”
He felt her readiness. He felt her certainty. He felt her calm. He latched onto that last emotion like a lifeline and steadied himself as the song Sookie had chosen for their wedding party began to play. He took in a deep breath that he didn’t need.
In that moment, it struck him that they’d chosen too large of a fucking wedding party, and he was not sure that he could wait any longer for Sookie to be in his arms. Just as he had the impulse to rush to her, he felt her calm surging into him again. Luckily, he was able to prevent himself from panting as he concentrated on keeping his feet on the floor.
Tray and Amelia were the first to walk down the aisle. Tray unconsciously pulled at the neck of his tux, and Eric couldn’t help but to laugh a bit. The Were hadn’t even worn a tuxedo for his own wedding, but Sookie—in that way she had of doing everything—had convinced him to do so for theirs. On his arm, Amelia—who had become a close friend of Sookie’s―looked lovely in the long black dress she’d chosen.
However, to be honest, Eric’s only wish was that they would walk faster; he didn’t give a damn about who wore what clothing. Well—that wasn’t quite accurate.
He was eager to see what Sookie was wearing, having been denied access to her before the fucking wedding AND the night before the wedding—by the direct order of Thalia, who commanded him as his fucking queen!
Eric groaned lightly. As anxious as he was to see her dress, he was even more excited to see what she was wearing under the dress. He hoped it was lacy or satin or—better yet—nothing at all. It had been 28 hours and 26 minutes since he’d last seen her—too damned long—and now that he knew she was so close, it seemed unbearable to wait a second more.
With difficulty, he stopped his fangs from dropping and willed himself to stop thinking along those lines, lest he try to consummate the wedding before, during, and after the actual ceremony. He didn’t think Reverend Daniels would appreciate that.
The evening before—just after she’d risen—Pam had fed him some lines about bachelor parties being “necessary” for the human marriage ritual and about how it was bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. Given Eric and Sookie’s understandable reluctance about being apart for even one minute because of the time she’d spent in Faerie, it had been difficult to convince them to separate. However, Eric had been persuaded, ordered, and finally “threatened” by Thalia.
So—after a glorious shower with his wife—he’d agreed to go to “Vamp Cave” for a bachelor party while Sookie stayed at home for a bachelorette party. Eric had found out from Bubba that it had been Jesus who had convinced Thalia to issue the order.
Eric felt himself pouting a little. Duncan had stopped him when he’d tried to sneak off to rendezvous with his mate three hours before sunrise—just as Sookie had been stopped by Pam.
But it had been fine—difficult for them both, but fine. And he’d been able to tell that she was having a good time, just as he’d enjoyed his own party. Of course, Eric had monitored Sookie at all times during the night. And he’d spoken to her through the bond in order to tell her that he loved her before they both slept.
His mate had been safe and happy, so the brute, possessive, cavemanish vampire in him had allowed for the short-term separation.
Hunter had even enjoyed part of the bachelor party with Eric until Niall “popped” him home at his bedtime.
Unlike with the wedding party, the attendees of the bachelor and bachelorette parties had been separated along the gender lines, with two exceptions. Breeta—as always—moved where Hunter moved at night. And Lafayette had stayed with Sookie because—in Sookie’s words—she “needed Lala’s margaritas” at her bachelorette party.
Eric chuckled in remembrance. From the sounds he’d heard from the women’s party, they’d definitely been rowdier than the men—though their main activity of the night was giving each other manicures and pedicures. Later Eric found out that Claude had given Pam a small vial of his blood so that the vampiresses in the group could get “buzzed” along with everyone else. That—apparently—accounted for the rendition of “You Light up My Life” that he’d heard Pam and Thalia playing on the piano and singing an hour before dawn.
Tray gave Eric a knowing smile as he walked Amelia to her place and gave her a kiss on the hand before joining Eric on his side of the altar. Still trying to calm himself down and drawing as much strength as he could from his mate, Eric nodded to the packmaster of his area.
Next up the aisle came Miranda and Jarod. The Werelioness looked radiant—glowing even—and Eric was one of the few who were privy to the cause of her glow. She was once again pregnant. She was only about a month along, so she’d not yet begun to show, but Eric could smell the little one inside of her. Miranda and Jarod’s twins, Jim and Maggie, had been born Werelions, just as little Godric had. And Eric knew that Jarod secretly hoped for a shifter this time, even though he would be content with any child who had the proper number of fingers and toes. Eric was holding back the fact that the child did indeed smell different than his or her siblings had. He couldn’t be certain, but Eric was betting that Jarod would get his wish.
Eric chuckled a bit as he thought about the conversation that he’d overheard between Miranda and Pam two nights earlier when Pam had joked that black wasn’t actually much of a minimizing color where Miranda was concerned. Although Miranda was currently almost as slim as she’d been before she’d had her children, Eric had thought that the Werelioness was going to kill Pam. Eric schooled his features as Miranda and her mate approached the front of the auditorium. The Viking was no fool―after all―and he was not going to rile the Werelioness.
Eric had no problem admitting that Werelioness hormones were a scary, scary thing, but Miranda looked content enough in that moment, and her cubs were being well-tended by Jessica, Holly, and Katherine—who’d recently perfected the skill of hiding her fairy scent so that she could attend the wedding. Seeing Miranda looking happy, Eric relaxed a little.
Once the couple reached Eric, Miranda kissed the vampire on the cheek, and then Jarod walked her to the groom’s side so that she was standing next to Tray. Then the shifter took his place on Sookie’s side. Eric was glad that he and Sookie had foregone normal gender lines when choosing their wedding party. Miranda had always been closer to him, and he was proud to have her standing on his side, whereas Jarod was closer to Sookie.
Hearing Maggie fussing a little, Eric looked out in the crowd and gave Jessica, who was holding the little Werelioness, a nod. Her own wedding was set for two Christmases from then. She looked beautiful in red and was now holding the toddler snuggly in her arms. The idea of not having children with Jason had been a hard pill for Jessica to swallow, and she and Jason had been slowly working through that for the last few years, but the couple—as far as Eric could tell—was solid.
Jessica’s fiancé walked down the aisle next—with Tara on his arm. As odd as it might have seemed a couple of years ago, Jason walked a smiling Tara to Eric’s side of the aisle, and she gave the vampire a pat on the arm as they passed him. After the rocky start to her relationship with Henry, Tara had become a closer friend to Eric than she was to Sookie, so it had made a strange sort of sense for her to stand on Eric’s side. The Viking glanced at Henry and noticed the look of pride in his eyes as he stared at his wife. She was staring right back at him.
Jason shook Eric’s hand as he passed back by him and then took his place on Sookie’s side next to Jarod.
Eric was getting even antsier as he watched the next couple—Duncan and Batanya—slowly approach. He once again regretted the fact that Sookie had insisted on so many attendants.
Duncan, seeming to sense Eric’s impatience, grinned wickedly and slowed down their pace even more. Batanya, whom Eric had never seen in a dress before, looked beautiful on his arm. She looked even better when she glared at her mate and—thank the gods—gave him a tug in order to get his ass moving faster.
At first, Batanya had been reluctant about being a part of their wedding party, but once she’d learned that Hunter would have a prominent place in it, she agreed. She wanted to stay close to the boy that she still thought of as her responsibility even though the Britlingen contract had long since been transferred to Breeta. That didn’t seem to matter much to Batanya, however.
Because Sookie and Eric’s legal adoption of Hunter had become public record as of eleven days before, Batanya didn’t want to let him out of her close proximity during the wedding. She figured—correctly—that Sookie and Eric would be distracted with each other. In fact, it had taken Claude promising to keep a shield around Hunter during the whole wedding for Batanya to agree to walk down the aisle without her sword strapped to her back. However, Eric knew from Duncan that the Britlingen warrior had several smaller weapons concealed under her long skirt. Duncan, too, had “a trick or two up his sleeves,” as he put it.
Of course, Eric didn’t mind Batanya’s rabid protectiveness of his child one bit. He gave the Britlingen a respectful nod, which she returned, as Duncan settled her on Sookie’s side. His vampire brother gave Eric a quick jab to the ribs as he moved next to Tara.
Eric couldn’t help but to roll his eyes in Duncan’s direction.
Next up the aisle were Pam and Lafayette; to be honest, Eric was not sure who was leading whom. Pam looked elegant in the Armani suit that she’d “borrowed” his credit card to obtain. The bill for it had come just the day before, and he’d been “agitated” to say the least. At that moment, however, his vampire child looked so splendid that the price of the suit seemed well worth it.
He would be asking Jesus to ward his credit cards though.
Just as Pamela had decided to dress differently than the other women in the wedding party, Lafayette had opted to be “different” from the other men; he wore an all-black tuxedo rather than the more traditional tuxedos that the other men in the wedding party were wearing. They’d all happily let Sookie choose the style of their tuxes, but Lafayette wanted to “make a statement.” Sookie had vetoed his attempts to choose something in powder blue, but Lafayette had managed to find an all-black tuxedo with velvet trim that Sookie had Okayed. The hat on his head—of which Eric was pretty certain Sookie had not approved—also set him apart. Eric chuckled.
The sound of a shrieking baby caught Eric’s attention, and he saw little Jim fussing on Holly Bellefleur’s lap. Holly had married Andy Bellefleur the year before. The two had already entered into Eric and Sookie’s close—but not immediate—circle of friends a few years earlier because of Andy’s closeness to Jason and Holly’s kinship with the other witches in the group.
Andy, who was sitting between Jessica and Holly—and, therefore, in between the twins—was slapped on the arm by little Maggie as she reached protectively out for her sniffling brother. Looking like a deer caught in headlights, Andy quickly traded places with Holly. Eric smiled. The change of positions had been enough to placate the little Werelions, and since Miranda was still looking relaxed, Eric didn’t worry about the little disturbance.
Pam and Lafayette parted in the middle of the aisle, and Lafayette took his place on Sookie’s side while Pam took her place on Eric’s. Eric couldn’t help but to notice that the rims of his child’s eyes were somewhat red, but he made sure she didn’t see his smirk.
Eric took a moment to nod to Bubba and Thalia, who were standing inconspicuously in the back of the room. He knew that they weren’t part of the wedding party only because Sookie had wanted to make sure that Bubba was comfortable and that his anonymity was protected. The crooner had promised to sing for them that night at their private reception on the ætt land.
Bubba was happy to stand guard over Hunter and Sookie—as always—and both he and Thalia were glad to stay out of the limelight. Plus, Eric knew that Thalia liked being in the back of the room so that she could keep an eye on everyone. She trusted the AVL members that were present about as far as little Mia could throw them. It had not escaped Eric’s notice that Kibwe and Mei were in attendance, as well as Molly. Eric was thankful that his queen had—unsolicited—put her own defenses into place for his wedding. And he continued to be extremely grateful that she was his monarch. Decades of tolerating Sophie-Anne and then a couple of years of dealing with Compton’s shit had taught him the value of a good ruler—one who was worthy of respect.
Eric turned his attention back to the aisle.
Walking side by side came the two individuals whom he and Sookie were calling their “chief attendants.” Jesus had agreed to stand up for Eric, and Claude had been Sookie’s choice. Both men looked dashing and—thankfully—they both radiated calm. Eric immediately felt slightly more settled. He remembered the night when he and Sookie had agonized over whom to pick for the most honored roles among their attendants—other than their best man, of course, who was always going to be Hunter.
Eric had considered Jesus, Duncan, and Pam for his chief attendant, while Sookie had gone back and forth between Claude, Lafayette, Tara, and Jason. Finally, they’d both simply decided based on what would feel right to them, rather than worrying about hurting the feelings of the others. Luckily there hadn’t been any jealousy. Plus, Claude and Jesus made very practical choices considering their necessity during one of the portions of the ceremony.
And—truth be told—once Eric really thought about it, he knew that he could choose no other than Jesus to stand right next to him.
As Eric thumbed the ring Sookie had ordered for him after their pledging—the one that Jesus had given to him when Sookie was in Faerie—he thought about the night he’d helplessly pounded into the ground in the backyard, practically unearthing the site of the pool with his bare hands. He’d been angry—so angry—that he was powerless in bringing Sookie back to him.
His heart had been laid bare that night.
It had been one of the lowest nights of his life, and he wondered sometimes if he would have simply stayed out in the yard to meet the dawn if it hadn’t been for Jesus.
True to form, both Claude and Jesus gave Eric reassuring pats on the arm before settling into their places. Given the turmoil that had ruled his and Sookie’s early years together, it seemed no wonder that they had chosen the fairy and the demon as their brothers.
Eric saw Jesus looking in Diantha’s direction. She was sitting next to Mr. Cataliades and holding the child that Lafayette and Jesus had adopted. The two-month-old—who was half demon—had been unwanted by his teenaged mother, and Cataliades had immediately thought of Lafayette and Jesus for his parents. They’d named him Kyle Eric, a fact that still made Eric feel very proud. Kyle was Eric and Sookie’s seventh godchild—younger than Mia by two months.
Next down the aisle was little Emma. Her job was to make sure that flower petals were strewn along the walkway. Eric chuckled as he saw that the eleven-year-old was taking her job very seriously. She was studiously and efficiently making sure the aisle had a thorough dusting of petals as she approached the front of the auditorium. Eric was thankful for her speed much more than her thoroughness, however.
Once she was at the front of the auditorium, Emma smiled and him and then skipped to take her place next to Amelia. Eric glanced at Sam, who was looking at his child proudly. The vampire smiled. He and the shifter had turned out to have much in common. Both of them had found themselves the fathers of children who were not biologically theirs, and both of them had realized that biology sometimes didn’t really fucking matter at all!
Eric inhaled sharply and looked toward the doors at the end of the aisle. He could tell that his Sookie was right outside of them.
When he saw Breeta slip into the room and take her position against the back wall, he knew that the moment he’d been waiting for had come. Breeta was not to leave Hunter’s side until the last possible moment—even though everyone knew that Sookie could protect him as well or better than anyone else.
The doors to the auditorium were both pushed open fully by Scott Cusmano and Henry, who were acting as their ushers, as the music changed. The vision that Eric saw coming towards him seemed to freeze Time itself. He’d felt a similar phenomenon the night he’d pledged with Sookie.
Almost frightened to behold his mate—his goddess—in that moment, Eric turned his gaze to Hunter first. His son was proudly holding Sookie’s hand as he walked her down the aisle.
As the two most important people in his life approached him, Eric couldn’t help but to remember an amazing day which had occurred almost three years before. On that day—a little more than a month after Sookie had returned from the fairy realm—Hunter and Sookie had taken a day-trip to the Blue Bayou Water Park in Baton Rouge―just the two of them (except for, Batanya and Breeta, of course). Eric hadn’t worried about Hunter or Sookie’s safety, knowing what he knew about his wife’s powers. And the Britlingens—as awkward as they may have appeared at a water park—were not back-up to be sneezed at either.
When the two had returned to him exhausted, a bit sunburned, and very happy that night, Hunter was calling Sookie ‘Mamma”—with a decidedly Swedish pronunciation—and Sookie was smiling a million-watt smile that looked moments away from tears. After that, Sookie was “Mamma” and Hadley was “Mom.” Eric hadn’t questioned the change in Sookie’s name, nor had he ever asked Sookie or Hunter for details.
Eric had not been surprised. He’d known the day was coming ever since Sookie had returned to Hunter and him. Hunter and Sookie obviously loved each other, and everyone could feel their connection in a palpable way. To Eric, the “renaming” of Sookie was natural because his wife simply was Hunter’s mother in every way that really mattered.
Eric was fine with Hadley playing a small part in his son’s life, especially since that made Claude a bigger piece of it, but—as odd as it may have seemed, given the fact that he was not related biologically to Hunter—the vampire had always “known” that Sookie’s cousin was not his son’s true mother. Hadley had tried—and was still “trying”—to be a good mother to Hunter. But it was the “trying” part that Eric felt bitterness about. Hadley was a good mother to Adele without having to try. But she’d never really chosen Hunter, and Eric thought that was her fucking loss.
Eric looked at his son proudly. Hunter was standing up straight and proud, and he’d officially been Hunter Eric Northman for eleven days, ten hours, and three minutes now. Eric shook his head to still his emotions. The day that the adoption had become official was one of the best of his long life—right up there with this night. The family had celebrated by having a gathering that Lafayette had made sure rivaled Thanksgiving. It had to—after all. Hunter was one of the things that he and Sookie were most thankful for.
Given the fact that Hunter had decided to remain in the human realm―except for his visits and schooling in the “in-between place”―Hadley had quickly supported Hunter’s desire to become Eric and Sookie’s son legally. After that, Hunter had been over the moon about the process. The only hiccup, ironically, had come from the precocious Emma, who had needed an hour to decide whether she could accept being Emma Northman and not Emma Savoy as she’d been planning in her head. Luckily for them all, she’d determined that she preferred “Northman” in the end. Hunter had been especially nervous since he’d learned about the concept of the “deal breaker” from his sissy.
Strangely, Eric felt that Hunter looked more and more like him all the time, especially since his boy would not stop growing upward. Plus, Lafayette often remarked that Eric and Hunter shared the same brain. Given the sharpness of Hunter’s intellect and his ability to command a room, Hunter had certainly picked up on Eric’s best traits. Eric smiled at his boy proudly. Only their eyes made them look different, and Hunter’s eyes looked more like Sookie’s each day. Simply put, Hunter looked like, seemed like, and simply was his and Sookie’s child.
There was no question in Eric’s mind that the three of them had been meant for each other. It’s just that fate had to find a “creative way” to bring them together. And Eric was not about to question fate anymore. It had been too damned good to him during the last several years.
Eric inhaled fully as he finally turned his attention to Sookie. As soon as he focused upon her, he felt incapable of looking away as all his senses were drawn into her. She looked perfect.
She smelled perfect.
She’d obviously lain out in the sun for him, despite the fact that the early November day had been chilly. And somehow—even though they were not in season—she was wearing a peach blossom in her hair.
He felt his hand move upward, as if reaching for her.
Eric couldn’t help but to pant a little as—bit by bit—he absorbed her appearance and her scent, especially since he’d not seen her for more than 24 hours and 30 minutes now.
She was beautiful.
She was more than that, but his ancient brain couldn’t quite grapple with the many languages rattling inside of his head in order to come up with the appropriate superlative. Perhaps that was because a word didn’t exist to describe her.
Perfect—was still the closest he could get.
Tilvalið—as his human father had called his mother.
His mate was wearing a one-shoulder gown, meant to remind them both of the dress she’d worn for their pledging. It was ivory and shirred from the strapless side toward her natural waste. From there, it was shirred in the opposite direction, creating an effect that only added beautifully to the voluptuousness of her curves.
He licked his lips and sucked in a very unnecessary breath as he started to move toward her. He couldn’t seem to keep his feet planted to the floor anymore. After he’d taken a step, however, he felt Jesus’s hand on his elbow and―as if in a haze―heard the man whom he thought of as his brother reassuring him, “She’s coming, Eric. Just hold on a few more seconds.”
With difficulty, Eric stilled and then let Jesus pull him back into position. He felt strength coming from the bond. Yes—he thought—he could wait for Sookie to come to him. Only a few more seconds.
He took in the rest of her dress. Pam had said—as she’d teased him about not being able to see it before the ceremony—that the dress draped on Sookie like a dream come true, and Eric couldn’t argue with that statement.
She was his best dream.
The dress’s fabric pulled in one direction and then the next, but all that pulling seemed effortless. It continued its zigzagging until it hit her above her knees, and then it draped down the rest of her body; the effect was beautiful.
One of her hips was hugged by the curving of the fabric, while the dress traveled softly down her other hip, creating both a sexy and elegant effect. The fabric met in harmony above her knees and then fell gracefully to the floor. There was a short, but flowing, train behind her.
She was a gyðja—a goddess.
Sookie wore the “E/S” pendant that he had carved for her as a “token” of love—though it had been temporarily put onto a delicate choker made from white organza. Her sapphire drop earrings matched her pledging ring, which she also wore. The pewter ring Hunter had given her was on her right ring finger—as always—and Adele’s wedding bracelet was on her wrist. Overall, the jewelry she wore was simple, elegant, and eclectic, just like his bonded one. The pieces had been chosen because of their meaning, not because of their price. Sookie was still teaching Eric that lesson. He wanted to bathe her in diamonds, but she was able to stop him with a look.
Eric continued to catalog every detail of his wife’s appearance. Her golden hair was in a bun, which exposed her lovely neck to him. She was wearing a long veil—what Pam had informed him was “cathedral length.” The veil was attached to the back of Sookie’s hair and fell gracefully behind her. What was important to Eric was that it did not cover her face, so he could clearly see the smile on her lips.
Eric sighed as he once again thumbed the ring already on the third finger of his left hand. They had gotten wedding bands that would complement the pledging rings they already wore, bands which they would wear on their left index fingers. Hunter already had a ring to match theirs on his left hand. The inscription inside was the same on all of their rings: Ætt. “Family.”
Eric knew that Jesus held the rings for Sookie and him in his pocket, not only because Eric trusted his chosen brother but also because he smelled the white gold.
Eric had avoided Sookie’s eyes until that moment—mostly because he was pretty sure that once he looked into them, he might not be able to stop himself from running to her immediately. But when she was about half-way down the aisle, he was pulled into them. They were gazing at him with a look of ardor that made him want to be holding her right then—buried deep inside of her—the ceremony be damned. He swayed on his feet as he tried to keep from rushing to her and then swayed again as she gave him a slight flirtatious smile as if she could read his mind. He heard Jesus’s slight chuckle and then felt his brother’s steadying and stopping hand on his elbow again.
Only with Sookie could the Viking be brought figuratively to his knees, and he fucking loved it. With great effort, he stayed in his place even though half of him―okay more than half of him—wanted to take her right in the middle of the fucking church. It may have been only 24 hours and 31 minutes since he’d last seen her, but it had been 24 hours and 42 minutes since he’d been home inside of her.
The sun on her skin, the peach blossom in her hair, the lavender soap she had used earlier in the day, and the faintest hint that her menses was approaching in the next day or so were almost too much for the vampire to withstand.
He could feel his panting become more obvious. He also felt Jesus’s grip tighten, and he was grateful for it.
It had taken Sookie a while to get used to her amorous vampire’s extra “attentions” during her menses, but that time of her cycle had become a very looked-forward to event for them both now. The enriched and thickened menstrual blood was a wonderful treat for Eric, and Sookie enjoyed the fact that Eric was able to use his own blood to hinder any cramps she might be feeling. They’d both reveled in the fact that their honeymoon was occurring at the perfect time during her cycle, and Sookie had giggled about the irony that most brides would have thought the exact opposite.
Of course, the hint of that blood made it even more difficult for Eric to stay in his place at the front of the church. However, Sookie’s now fully-teasing smile and her insistence on walking so damned slow made it impossible.
It was too fucking much for the Viking! Eric easily broke from Jesus’s iron grip and would have run to his mate in that moment, but he found that he couldn’t move.
He heard Jesus chuckle, and, out of the corner of his eye, he saw him nodding to Claude.
“Thanks for the assist,” the brujo whispered to the fairy.
Knowing that Claude had just put up a shield around him to keep him from moving, the vampire growled a little, but Sookie’s tanu only chuckled.
Not being able to get to Sookie and seeing the heightened amusement in her eyes, Eric decided to give her a taste of her own medicine—a big one. Waggling his eyebrows in a challenge, the vampire pushed his lust into the bond to repay Sookie’s coy little smile. Watching her sharp intake of breath and seeing her steps falter before they quickened a little, Eric knew he’d won.
Niall chuckled as he watched and recognized his great-granddaughter and young Eric’s play as she walked slowly down the aisle. Despite everything they’d gone through—every separation, every fear, every torture—they’d maintained the playfulness and joy they took in each other.
He was thankful for that.
Britomart snickered, “It is difficult not to be amused by them—is it not?”
“Very,” Niall agreed.
Sookie’s cheeks went aflame with a tell-tale blush as she was hit with Eric’s lust through their bond. In the next moment, she felt even more lust flowing from him―probably because of said blush.
Her teasing forgotten, she had the sudden urge to sprint to her mate; luckily, however, Hunter’s grip on her hand and the four-inch heels she was wearing ensured that she would have to keep walking at a relatively even pace.
As Sookie’s wonderful scent filled the air so that every supernatural being in the room—and not just he—could enjoy it, Eric emitted a very low warning growl, which he knew only other vampires, Weres, and shifters could hear. The growl was designed to say one thing and one thing only: “Mine!”
Of course, Sookie could sense through the bond what Eric was doing, but she couldn’t fault him for it. Throughout the last several years, she’d often found herself becoming very territorial over her husband too. Just the other day when they’d taken Hunter to Target to get him some new shoes because his feet seemed to grow a size every month, they’d been practically stalked by a fangbanger who recognized Eric from his PSA announcements and who was trying to entice him by her not-so-subtle leer. Her husband hadn’t even noticed the woman, but Sookie had.
She was almost ashamed to admit that she had sent a subtle thought into the woman’s head using her “Jedi mind-trick.” Oh—Sookie hadn’t done anything “too bad,” like she’d wanted to; she’d merely told the bitch—uh, lady—that she needed to stay away from all men who were obviously out with their “F-in” families!
Sookie didn’t like to use her ability to influence the minds of others; however, she’d been pissed by the woman so clearly coming on to Eric while Hunter was standing right next to him. She justified her actions by telling herself that she simply wanted to get the woman away from them so that Hunter wouldn’t hear the lewd thoughts she was having about being in various sexual positions with his daddy. But Sookie had known that Hunter’s shields were up, so that wasn’t a good excuse. No—Sookie admitted—she wanted the bitch to back the “F” off and to stop ogling her “F-in” property.
Sookie’s ego took a boost as she could tell that Eric was feeling the same way even now; his nose flared and he looked threateningly at some of the AVL members who had attended the wedding for publicity and who were now looking at Sookie like she was a nice, juicy steak. Sookie sent feelings of calm to Eric through the bond. Of course, she also sent encouragement and mirth. In the end, she loved it—absolutely adored it—that her husband didn’t want her to be looked at by others, even though she was the bride, who—by definition—was supposed to be the center of attention.
Yes. Sookie had learned, finally, that possession could have a profound beauty when—paradoxically—it was shared.
A/N: Thanks to all of you who took the time to read and review the last chapter (or just read). I continue to be floored by all of your support.
By the way, “Tilvalið” is as close as I can get to “perfect” in Old Norse.
If you want to see Sookie’s dress—and the other dresses/clothes/etc., for the wedding, check out the “bonus features.”