As Sookie reentered the tent—her face having been pronounced “fixed” by Pam and her human needs having been tended to—she felt completely at ease. As she’d been walking back to the reception, she’d poked into Lafayette’s head to make sure that he was okay, and she was pleased to find that—after a little healing magic from Claude—her friend didn’t even feel tired after his experience with Gran; in fact, he was looking forward to dancing the night away with Jesus.
She smiled. There was something about hearing Gran endorse her and Eric as a couple that made everything just that much better in Sookie’s eyes. Gran’s blessing hadn’t been something Sookie had needed, but—she realized now—it was something she’d wanted to have. Even more, however, she was happy that Eric had gotten to “meet” Gran, if only for a few minutes. They were the two most important figures in her life, and having them meet was both surreal and wonderful. Eric was her mate—her true partner—and she’d often wished that Gran—her true mother—had met him.
She smiled. In truth, she’d wanted to show her off to him—to show him off to her. And she’d wanted for Gran to see how happy Eric made her.
“I missed you,” Eric said from behind her as he placed a kiss on the back of her neck.
“I was away from you for fifteen minutes,” she giggled.
“Mmmm,” he nuzzled her neck with his nose. “Too long.”
“You always say that,” she said with a little gasp as he scraped the tender skin at the nape of her neck with his blunt teeth.
“It is always true,” he said as he wrapped his long arms around her stomach and pulled her back into his chest, lazily resting his chin on her bare shoulder.
“You okay?” he asked her.
She nodded. “More than.”
“Jesus and Claude have assured me that Lafayette is fine, min kära,” Eric reported. “Not even a headache.”
Sookie nodded again. “I know. I just checked his thoughts to make sure.” She sank into her husband’s arms as they looked around the room.
“We have a boy very anxious for cake,” Eric whispered. With his cheek, he nudged her head gently toward where Hunter and several of the other kids were gravitating closer and closer to the newly arrived wedding cake.
“Oh do we now?” she grinned. “Then I supposed we’d better cut it.”
Eric chuckled. “I cannot tell if Hunter is guarding the cake or trying to sneak a taste of it himself.”
Immediately there was a slight twinge of guilt from Sookie in the bond.
“Lover?” Eric asked as he leaned his cheek into hers.
“We may have already snuck a taste this morning.”
Eric chuckled again and spun her gently around in his arms. “Naughty, naughty,” he said with a grin.
She giggled. His grin—that was what was naughty in her mind! “We were very careful to cover our tracks, but it was yummy.”
“You are not planning to smear the concoction on my face, lover—are you?” Eric asked, a twinkle in his eyes. “Pam has warned me all about that tradition, and I am prepared to retaliate.”
“Nope,” Sookie said with a mischievous look in her own eyes. “That is not my plan with the cake at all.”
He leered. “What is your plan with the cake then?”
“Hmm,” she sounded. “Me know, you enjoy later,” she teased.
“I intend to,” he said in a seductive whisper and a nip to her earlobe. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to enjoy me now.”
Sookie sighed and looked over at a bouncing Hunter; he was now actively shielding the cake from Godric, whose little fingers seemed to be itching for the icing.
“Your son. Cake,” Sookie reminded.
“So now he’s just mine?” Eric asked with mirth.
“Uh-huh,” she said with a grin. “Any time that boy’s stomach gets involved, it’s totally your fault.”
Eric tilted his head. “Your logic is flawed, wife. I do not even eat human food.”
“But you do have a big—uh—appetite,” she said, as she bit her lip seductively. “Very—um—hearty.” She stretched her neck a bit to the side, tempting him with her pulse point.
He nuzzled her neck. “Insatiable—where you are concerned, min älskare. Fucking. Insatiable.”
She leaned into him, and even through the layers of fabric of her wedding dress, she once more felt just how insatiable he really was.
Just as Eric was about to fly his wife to somewhere much more private, Hunter spied them from across the room and started running toward them. “Daddy, Mamma—is it time for cake?” he yelled excitedly.
Eric quickly adjusted his insatiable member and let go of Sookie with a whispered promise, “We will continue our discussion of ‘food’ later, lover.”
Before Sookie could assure her husband that they would indeed carry on that particular discussion, Hunter was upon them; as usual, Eric picked up their son mid-stride and spun him upside down and around. Sookie giggled as the hair gel in Hunter’s bangs fought gravity and centripetal force to keep his unruly locks in place. As Eric brought Hunter back to his feet and tousled his hair as always, Sookie knew that the battle had been lost. She raked her fingers through her little man’s hair to try to re-tame it.
“Mamma,” Hunter complained at the motherly attention.
Giving up, she chuckled and then did a bit of ruffling of her own. “Fine,” she said as she tickled his side. “Let’s get this cake show on the road.”
He grinned at her. “And then we can do some dancin.’”
At the mention of dancing, both Eric and Hunter lit up, and Sookie grinned at her two boys as she grabbed their hands and led them over to the cake.
In truth, Sookie did have “wicked” plans for that cake, but for now, she wouldn’t smudge any onto Eric’s face. She did, however, take a moment to lick his delectable fingers when he fed her a piece—just to make sure all the icing was off of them, of course.
The butter cream icing tasted divine. Her man tasted even better.
Sookie finished the last bite of her cake and leaned contentedly back into her seat.
As the human, Were, shifter, and fairy guests had enjoyed the cake, Eric had brought out a new product in development at RBL for the vampires. It was similar to gelato in consistency, but made out of synthetic blood.
It had become a popular trend, especially among affluent vampires or those involved in politics, to eat more “human-seeming” fare, so, when Sookie suggested the idea of a gelato version of RBL, Eric had run with the idea. Well—he’d run with it after he’d shown her his appreciation of her idea—several times as Sookie remembered it. It had been dessert indeed—a whole jar full of orgasmic delights.
Sookie grinned. She couldn’t have been prouder of the way her mate built his and Niall’s business from the ground up. The speed at which the company had started earning profits awed her. But what awed her even more was that Eric always wanted to share with her the business prospects about which he was most excited. But there was more to it than that. He listened to her suggestions with rapt attention, sometimes taking her ideas outright and sometimes tweaking them to make them more practical in the business world. And, in turn, she did the same when it came to her own work at the school. Eric’s actions had made clear from the start that they were full partners both in business and in their private lives. He’d once told her that he would always tell her the truth about things—but that he might have to hold back some information about vampire politics. However, Sookie had never felt him holding back. He trusted her with everything.
“Judging from the reactions of the vampires present—especially the A.P.,” Eric whispered into her ear, “RBL’s newest product is going to be a hit, lover.”
Sookie nodded in agreement. Britomart was on her fourth bowl. “Yeah. Only you and Bubba didn’t go back for seconds,” she whispered back as she gestured toward Bubba’s hardly-touched bowl. Thalia was eying it greedily, while Bubba didn’t look enthused about it at all.
Sookie smiled at her loyal guard and friend. Bubba and Thalia pledged soon after Sookie had returned from the fairy realm, but since Bubba didn’t want to have anything to do with the politics of running a kingdom, he’d decided to continue watching over Hunter and Sookie, except on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, which he took off so that he could spend more time with Thalia and also travel with her on some of her shorter trips.
Sookie had to admit that even with the protection spell still firmly in place and Eric with them most nights, she always felt more secure when Bubba was helping to watch over the ætt land. However—despite the fact that Bubba said he liked Mister Eric’s RBL blood much better than TruBlood—the singer still didn’t care for it much.
Though she and her husband didn’t talk about it, Sookie knew that Eric consistently stocked the woods in the area with a large number of stray cats that were slated to be put to death from the area’s animal shelters. She hated the idea of the cats serving as Bubba’s food source, but at least the creatures had a chance to live out their final days in the woods rather than in cages. And several of the more wily cats had managed to elude Bubba for years. In fact, two spring litters from a couple of the strays had given them Art and Brit, who had joined Ham and Odin as the family’s pets.
“Why didn’t you finish yours?” Sookie asked as she leaned forward and motioned toward Eric’s bowl of now-melting blood.
“I don’t want to ruin my appetite,” he answered rakishly, even as he raked a finger along her spine. “Plus,” he leaned in and whispered, “I’m with Bubba. This blood is not tasty compared to the things I,” he paused as his finger moved toward the swell of her bottom, “crave.”
Sookie’s breath hitched, and she was about ready to try to catch Batanya’s eye to see if her little love nest was ready when someone thumping on a live microphone stopped her. She looked toward the other end of the tent, where Jason was holding the mike.
“Oh no,” Sookie chuckled as she feigned fear. “Someone gave my brother a microphone.”
Eric grinned as they looked at Jason, who was standing a bit awkwardly as he continued to poke at the microphone. Frannie Quinn, who had arrived a little while before to run the music for the reception, took the device from Jason, made a quick adjustment to it, and then returned to her place next to the sound equipment. Sookie was pleased that Frannie was functioning as DJ, instead of Quinn as had been the original plan. She smiled and nodded toward Frannie, whom she really liked.
On the other hand, she didn’t care for Quinn at all.
The Weretiger had proven to be a good asset for Area 5, just as Eric had known he would be, but as of that evening, Sookie hoped that he was no longer a resident of it. Sookie had caught Quinn staring at her one too many times. Actually, he’d been leering at her—even though she’d made it perfectly clear to him that any attentions from him—or anyone other than her mate, for that matter—were unwelcome.
To make matters worse, he’d done much more than just his usual leering that afternoon. He’d “thought” at her—sent her a message. In that moment, the nuisance of Quinn had turned from annoying to unacceptable. It didn’t help Quinn’s cause that he’d done this even as the decorating for her wedding had been going on. Her wedding! And it most definitely didn’t help his cause that Hunter was in the building. Her child!
Quinn’s “message” hadn’t been sexually explicit, nor had it threatened Eric with violence, but it had been wholly inappropriate nonetheless.
As Sookie watched Jason’s ongoing fight with the microphone—a fight that looked like would take a while and leave her brother as the loser—she thought back over the events that had occurred late that afternoon before the wedding. She and Eric had faced only a few minor threats to their safety during the last several years, and no situations had threatened their relationship, but all the disturbances that they had encountered shared the same important characteristic: she and her husband had functioned as partners to deal with them. That day, the situation swirling around John Quinn had been no different.