“I’ve got it right here,” Sookie said as she pulled the list of topics out of the pocket of her discarded jean shorts.
I smiled. “Floor or couch?” I asked. “Or bed?” I asked more suggestively, having felt a twinge of lust from her only moments before.
She gave me a mock glare. “Aren’t you the one who said that we should talk first? And now you’re tryin’ to tempt me,” she chided.
“You tempted me first,” I challenged. “Or was that someone else’s ass I saw swaying.”
“I never promised not to tempt you,” she returned with a self-satisfied smile.
“Floor or couch then?” I asked with a grin that felt a little lop-sided—as if I were a teenaged boy. I was continuously amazed by both the feelings and the facial expressions my mate drew from me. Most of the time, I felt as giddy as a pimply-faced teen in love for the first time. Granted, I was in love for the first time, but I was no teen. And I’d never had a fucking pimple—not even in my human life.
Of course, I didn’t want to give up any of the new sensations my wife elicited from me. Each one felt precious. Each one was a gift.
She was my gift.
“I’m comfy right here,” Sookie said, patting the floor next to her.
I nodded and then reached for the large bag we’d brought with us. I knew that Sookie had brought a bottle of wine that she wanted to enjoy while we talked, and I’d seen Lafayette fix her a snack.
“Wait!” she cried, pulling the bag away from me.
“Wait for what?” I quirked a brow as I realized my wife was definitely up to something. I looked down at the bag, which she seemed to be guarding now. It had seemed quite heavy—come to think of it—a lot heavier than a couple of days’ worth of clothing and a bottle of wine.
“Do you have a surprise for me in that bag? I love surprises, lover, especially yours.”
My mind immediately went to something black and silky—no red and lacey—and lust surged through me.
“Down boy,” she chastised with a giggle as she opened the bag just a little and carefully pulled out the wine bottle, a corkscrew, and a wine glass she’d packed. She also grabbed a Ziplock bag with some cheese and crackers in it. I’d brought over some other food provisions for her a couple of days before after Hunter had gone to sleep and while Sookie had been watching a chick-flick with Miranda, Thalia, Pam, and Batanya. Now that was a group that even I was slightly afraid of.
“If there is a surprise for you in here,” she said saucily, “then you’d best keep your hands off.”
I chuckled and reached out to take the bottle and corkscrew from her. I knew that she was perfectly capable of opening the bottle herself, but she knew that I liked to do it for her. It was a tiny thing, but I enjoyed taking care of her, and she was learning to let me do it—sometimes.
As Sookie made sure the bag was zipped up tight and out my line of sight, I thought about the work she’d been doing for my queen.
About two weeks after Sookie had returned from the fairy realm, Jessica had mentioned in passing that Thalia was going to be interviewing some humans for positions in her three queendoms during the subsequent weeks.
Thalia—to her great credit—had not asked for Sookie to “read” the humans she was interviewing; in fact, she had never once hinted that Sookie should work for her. However, after Sookie and I had talked about it, my wife decided that she wanted to help Thalia—not because she was our queen or because she had helped to keep us safe in the past. No—I knew that my bonded wished to help Thalia because she was a friend.
So Sookie had asked Jessica when the first interview was and simply showed up for it.
Not needing to question why she was there, Thalia had stationed Sookie in a room off to the side so that she wouldn’t be seen by the humans being interviewed. Knowing Thalia, that room had likely been made with Sookie in mind—so that my wife would be safe and comfortable in case Thalia ever did need her help. It was safe to say that my mate and my queen—though their acquaintance had been short overall—respected and even liked one another. It was also safe to say that the two worked well together.
The room Sookie was set up in was comfortably furnished—unlike the rest of Thalia’s home—and had plenty of space for Sookie, as well as Bubba and Batanya, who’d both wanted to be her guards when she worked for the queen. It was already equipped with a state-of-the-art communication system that Molly had rigged up. If Sookie heard something that concerned her during an interview or if she had a question she wanted Thalia to ask the interviewee, all she had to do was speak into a headset.
That first night, my brilliant fucking wife discovered a Fellowship sympathizer and a spy for the court of the queen of New York. The next day, a check was messengered to Sookie. She’d thought about not accepting it, but then she reconsidered.
Sookie ended up putting half of the generous, though fair payment into a fund I’d started for Hunter when he’d come to live at the farmhouse. She put the other half into the account that I used to run our household. Sookie had felt proud of herself for earning her own money again. Of course, she knew that I had accumulated a lot of wealth over the years, but she still didn’t really care about the amount of money I had. And she never considered not working or going to school or doing something else productive with her time. Sookie saw money as a means to an end; it would keep us secure throughout time, but that was no need to spend it in excess. And she definitely didn’t see it as an excuse not to do something meaningful with her time.
I smiled. My wife and I were cut out of the same frugal cloth. Even when she’d been working at Merlotte’s and living paycheck to paycheck, Sookie had always made sure to sock some money away for a “rainy day” or for her future. She still had that same mindset, except now her future had become much, much longer. She felt proud that she was contributing to our household and to our son’s future as well. Moreover, she was happy that she was making sure Thalia was more secure.
After those first interviews, Thalia and Sookie seemed to reach an unspoken agreement. Sookie was emailed the times of upcoming interviews, which occurred once a week and always after Hunter’s bedtime―usually on Sundays when I would be busy at Fangtasia. It was obvious that Thalia appreciated her access to Sookie’s gift, but she did not treat Sookie like an asset or even a traditional employee. And it was even more obvious that my queen didn’t intend to take any time away from my wife and myself. And I appreciated that fact greatly.
“What else is in that bag, lover?” I leered as she pushed the bag a few feet further from us.
“Be nice and maybe you’ll find out, Northman” she leered back, though there was a tiny blush on her face as well.
Gods, I loved her blushes.
“Talk first. Surprise tomorrow,” she smirked.
“Tomorrow?” I pouted.
“Tomorrow,” she giggled and held out her wine glass to me. I quickly filled it as she looked down at her list. After putting the bottle of wine on the coffee table, I got myself situated so that I was leaning against the couch with my knees drawn up a bit. Sookie scooted close to me, put her glass and snack on the coffee table as well, and settled herself against my raised knees.
We both sighed at the comfortable contact and stared at each other for a few minutes. I breathed in her scent and felt myself relaxing more than I’d done in a very long time. She was so beautiful and she was here—really here with me.
“Okay—what’s first?” I asked. “I have more business with your body tonight.”
She chuckled, blushed, and looked down at her list. “Lafayette and Jesus’s wedding.”
I smiled. Jesus had asked me to be his best man a few weeks before. Lafayette had asked for Tara and Sookie to be what he was calling his “groomsmaids.” Jarod was going to join me as Jesus’s other groomsman.
Sadly, the marriage legislation in Louisiana was not going to pass any time soon since several Congressmen were currently holding it “hostage” in committee. I’d done background checks on all of the legislation’s major opponents. The ones who had skeletons in their closets—the kind that made their position on the bill hypocritical—had already been blackmailed to resign quietly if they did not want a scandal on their hands. However, the men fighting so vigorously against the legislation now were no worse than any other politician. Oh—they’d all accepted campaign donations from slightly unethical sources. But show me a politician who hadn’t, especially in a state where the oil business was so prominent, and I’d show you someone who hadn’t been elected. But they were otherwise good men; they simply held the opposite position from me and from those I loved.
I’d asked Miranda and then Tara to write the marriage legislation, which had been dubbed the Fair Marriage Bill, with one major goal in mind. I wanted to marry my mate according to human law. I’d gotten the idea to spearhead the legislation myself when Sookie had been in the fairy realm, and I’d hoped that it would be a gift to her when she got back. The fact that it would include couples like Jesus and Lafayette, as well as Weres and shifters when they made themselves known, had also become very important to me.
But to glamour or to threaten those who were currently fighting the bill would have crossed a line that I had promised myself I would not pass when I first asked Miranda to begin drafting a bill. And Sookie, as well as Jesus and Lafayette, had agreed. Plus, it would have looked too suspicious if all the opponents of the legislation were suddenly silent, and the government already feared vampire glamour to the point that they had threatened to revoke our citizenship if it were ever proven that vampires had glamoured lawmakers.
So the only thing that could be done was to wait for the Louisiana Congress to shift in their thinking. We had a lot of support on our side, and I knew it was just a matter of time before Sookie and I could legally wed in our state of residence. And—thankfully—we both planned to lead very long lives.
However, Jesus and Lafayette’s case was different because Lafayette would have a human lifespan. Thus, Jesus and Lafayette had decided that they were going to go to Massachusetts to wed. Our family and close friends were all traveling to an estate I bought many years ago—just outside of Boston—for Thanksgiving, and they’d be wed the Saturday after the holiday.
“What about security for the wedding?” Sookie asked me in a practical tone. I kissed her cheek as my pride for her radiated through the bond. She truly was my partner.
“The ownership of the house has already been officially transferred to you, so that means the protection spell will apply there as well. And after seeing the pictures of the property, Lafayette wanted to get married on the estate, so we will not have to worry about securing another venue. The trees will still be lovely with fall colors, and apparently Lafayette has a ‘vision’ in mind,” I chuckled.
Sookie laughed a little and nodded. “Yeah, Lala and Jesus showed me the pictures this afternoon, and the property is beautiful, but,” she bit her lip and paused.
“But?” I asked as I caressed her shoulder comfortingly. I hated the anxiety I was getting from her.
“But won’t it be too cold for Hunter outside?” she asked.
She got another kiss for that question. I loved that she thought first about the comfort of our son. It had been my first thought as well.
“We’ll arrange for a covered space—probably a tent of some kind―and heaters can be used. Hunter will be warm,” I promised. “He is hoping to see snow, in fact.”
Sookie smiled, even as she shivered a little. She was a woman of the sun and warmth. But then she smiled, and excitement entered the bond. “If there’s snow, we’ll have to make a snowman with Hunter. Oh! And snow angels too!”
I nodded and stroked her face gently. She was my angel. “Hunter is hoping to go sledding as well.” I chuckled as I remembered my distant past. “When I was a small child, my father allowed me and some other children to use the shields of the men to slide down a small hill near our village when the first snows came—before the extreme cold set in.”
“That sounds like fun,” Sookie said as she caressed my bare shoulder.
“Yes,” I said remembering the glee with which I’d played with the other children.
“We never had enough snow for things like sledding,” she said wistfully. “But it would have been nice to go with Tara and Lala.” She laughed, “Even Jason.”
I felt my brow crease a bit.
“What is it?” my mate asked with sudden concern at my change of mood.
“Emma,” I answered.
“What about her?”
“Sam has informed me that he, Luna, and Emma are going to spend the holiday in Monroe with Emma’s paternal grandparents. The grandmother was just diagnosed with cancer.”
“Yeah. Luna told me,” Sookie said, as realization hit her. “You’re thinkin’ about Hunter not havin’ Emma there to play with—aren’t you?”
I nodded. “Yes. Hunter would have more fun with Emma there,” I said matter-of-factly.
She gave me a beautiful smile—made even more beautiful by the fact that I knew it was a look she only ever gave to me.
“You’re such a good father, Eric.” She leaned in to kiss my lips chastely. “Even though Emma cannot come this time, we’ll take her and Hunter somewhere with snow later. Plus, Coby and Lisa are both coming to Massachusetts, so Hunter’s gonna have kids he can play with.”
I contemplated for a moment. “You are right, min kära. And we can plan a trip to Sweden in the early spring. The snow will still be deep on the farm, but the temperatures will not be bitter. I can take Hunter to the same hill I used to play on, and we will invite the Merlottes to come.”
Sookie smiled with excitement. “That sounds wonderful. I can’t wait to see where you grew up, and I know that Hunter’ll be excited too.”
“I will talk to Sam and Luna when we get back so that we can begin planning,” I said, feeling better about the fact that Hunter’s favorite companion would not be in Massachusetts with us. “Because of the Russell situation, they were not able to finish their honeymoon. Perhaps, the trip can be that to them. There is both an estate and a cottage on the farm now. They can have their privacy in the cottage.”
“Sounds perfect,” she said as she kissed my shoulder and then grabbed a piece of her cheese. “So where is everyone gonna stay when we’re in Massachusetts? Is the house big enough for everyone?” she asked before popping the cheese into her mouth.
She moaned a little, and I gave her a warning look, which was answered by a little giggle from her. “Sorry,” she said, even though I knew she wasn’t. “It’s just yummy.”
I chuckled and answered her previous question. “The estate won’t house everyone that is coming to the wedding, but there is a nearby vampire-safe hotel with excellent security. And Duncan and I both have good relationships with the King of Massachusetts, so we should be fine with both accommodations and security for the others. I chartered a plane to fly us all up there at night so the vampires in our group will be awake.” I paused. “Plus, Hunter liked flying before, and I wanted to see him enjoy it again.”
My wife smiled at me and took a sip of her wine before popping another piece of cheese into her mouth. I could tell that she didn’t really mean for it to be an erotic act, but when she moaned again at the taste of the cheddar, my already stirring cock began to harden. I closed my eyes and willed my G.P.—as she’d taken to calling my cock—to take a break, but I knew it likely wouldn’t cooperate for long, especially if she continued to make noises as she ate.
“Problems?” she teased with fake innocence.
“Nothing you could not solve, lover” I said suggestively.
Feeling my lust in the vampire bond, she gave me a sly grin, but—much to my disappointment—she went on with our discussion. “Well—the wedding planner that Miranda found for Lafayette and Jesus is gonna be flyin’ in next week for an interview, and we’ll quickly see if she means us any harm. Hopefully, she can give Lala everything he wants.” Her lips curled up. “You’re right. He definitely has a ‘vision’ in mind.”
I grinned. “According to Jesus, purple and velvet are the most common words in Lafayette’s vocabulary these days. However, I am already looking forward to feeling velvet against your skin, min älskare.”
Hoping to derail the conversation I’d earlier been so insistent upon finishing before our “play-time,” I dragged my fingers along her collar bone and shifted to let her feel my still-present erection so that she would know just how much I was looking forward to that particular treat.
Sadly, she didn’t allow herself to get off topic.
“Who says it’ll be me in the velvet?”
I chuckled. “Oh—I am fully aware that I will be wearing it too.” I leered. “I believe that I will look very good in purple velvet—don’t you think?”
“You’d look good in pink spandex,” she said under her breath.
I couldn’t help but to laugh a little harder and to give her a kiss on the cheek. I loved her so fucking much that it shocked me at times!
“Do they still insist on paying for the wedding?” Sookie asked me.
I nodded. “The wedding—yes. But they are letting us cover the cost of the travel and their extra week in Boston.”
“And Scott thinks he can have their surprise ready when they return?” Sookie asked mischievously.
I nodded. “Lafayette and Jesus finalized the plans for their new house with the architect earlier with week, but Cusmano has told them that he won’t be able to get to anything beyond the foundation before the wedding.”
“And they’re really gonna be able to finish the whole house before they get back from their honeymoon?” Sookie asked.
I shrugged. “Yes—if the weather cooperates. The outside will be finished and all the plumbing and electricity; however, the interior will be waiting for them to design as they wish, except for,” I paused.
“Except for what?” Sookie asked suspiciously.
I grinned. “Pam insists that she’s going to design and decorate one of the guestrooms for them so that they will have a place to stay as they work on the rest of the house.”
“And we trust Pam to choose something appropriate?” Sookie asked skeptically.
“Absolutely not,” I shook my head and waggled my brow. “That’s what will make it fun. And they can always change things.”
Chuckling and shaking her head, Sookie looked down at her list. “Okay—the next item is the marriage legislation itself and whether we are gonna wait for it to pass before we get married.”
I sighed. “I’m still scheduled to testify about it in a week, and now that you’ll be with me, that might help.” I paused, “But as you know, it seems pretty clear that it won’t pass for at least a few more years. We just don’t have the numbers right now. But we will keep fighting, Sookie.”
I took hold of her hand and traced the lines of her palm.
“We could have a Massachusetts wedding of our own,” I said.
She played with the ring on my left hand—the ring that she’d had made for me after our pledging.
“I know,” she said a little sadly. “But Louisiana is our home—where we’re choosing to raise our son. And I have to believe that the good people in this state will eventually change the laws so that we can get married.” She sighed. “Given the fact that you are a vampire and I’m hardly aging at all, we have time. I wanna try to wait them out for now.”
I nodded. “Humanity will eventually evolve,” I reassured. “It always does. So we will continue to fight. And you are already my wife—min kván—in all important ways.”
“And you are min bóndi,” she said, even as she seemed to come to an internal decision. “We’ll revisit this topic each year—okay? And if either one of us loses patience, we’ll go to Massachusetts and just do it.”
I nodded. “Sounds good. Next topic?” I asked.
A/N: Thanks for the continued support and your kind words about this story! I’m glad you are enjoying this little vacation for this version of Eric and Sookie. Of course, we know from Come Back to Me that Eric and Sookie are able to get married in Louisiana a few years after this conversation, but it was nice to get to imagine them deciding what they were going to do. I also wanted to give a more specific timeline for when Lafayette and Jesus got married. I have to say that it was nice to write a conversation that didn’t include a discussion of how they were going to deal with some threat.
Thanks again for reading! Y’all are the best!