Hunter’s instructions to me had been simple: to look pretty, to smell nice, to hold his daddy’s hand, and to dance—a lot.
It seemed like a brilliant plan to me.
“One minute,” I heard from Eric through the bond as I looked around excitedly. Given the lust and anticipation building from his end of the bond, I decided to wait to turn on the camera, just in case Eric came in and “attacked.” I took a deep breath as I felt my husband approaching.
As I left the cubby and stepped into the hallway, I inhaled deeply; Sookie had worn lavender oil, and that—mixed with her usual scent—enthralled me as always. I felt my lust escalating.
I wanted her flesh. I wanted her blood. I wanted her adoration. I wanted her love. I wanted everything from her. Everything! Being in her presence always made me feel more vampire than I had ever felt during my long existence, and the vampire wanted to feed from his mate.
However, I paused for a moment in order to calm my “appetites.” Sookie had also brought to the forefront something else within me to sit alongside my vampiric nature. Perhaps it was my long-forgotten humanity, but, ironically, it felt more primal than that—more animalistic in a way. It was the need to protect and to nurture what was mine.
Devour and shelter. Consume and defend.
These were the contradictory impulses that my mate stirred within me. The dark and the light. The violent and the restrained. The fact that she knew of this—that she knew of all the parts of me and still wanted to be mine made me stand taller than I had ever stood. Feel stronger than I had ever felt.
So I calmed myself.
Sookie had obviously wanted me to dress like this for some reason, and I could feel her excitement and nervousness in the bond. I was not going to ruin her surprise by “attacking” her—at least not until she asked me to.
However, when I saw her, all internal promises about self-control immediately left the fucking building. I stopped in my tracks, and I half-groaned and half-growled at the vision in front of me. Both my fangs and my cock reacted as well, and I suddenly regretted the tight cut of my trousers.
I was predator. She was prey. I was ready to stalk her and take her into me.
However, she kept me where I was with both the calm she sent into the bond and the well-placed force-field she erected around my body. I was panting. She was smiling.
She was fucking perfect.
And she was waiting for me to get control of myself again. However, her arched brow and the hand on her hip were not helping her cause. Neither was her coy smile. She understood very well the effect she was having on me. And she was enjoying it.
I steadied myself with a sigh and took in the beauty in front of me. She was standing in the middle of the living room in a curve-hugging dress that seemed a perfect blend of the one she wore for our pledging and the one she had on the first time I laid eyes on her. Defying logic, the dress managed to be both incredibly sweet and fucking sexy all at once. I should not have been surprised; that was the wonderful mix that had always been my mate.
“Perfect,” I whispered out loud. In truth, that was the only word I could think of. I struggled a bit against the force field that she had enclosed me in, but it held me tight.
A feeling of lust from Sookie’s side of the bond drew my eyes up to hers, but she was no longer looking back into mine. Her eyes were too busy roving down my body. Deciding she had a brilliant idea, I also allowed my gaze to drift downward until my eyes stopped at the four-inch red heels she was wearing.
I intended to fuck her in those heels; I intended to fuck her well.
“You look perfect, lover,” I said seductively, hoping that the passion—and the promise—in my voice would encourage her to let me go so that I could see those heels a bit closer—for example, right next to my cheek as I pounded into her.
“So do you,” she said coyly. She bit her lip and then used her force field to compel me to turn around in a slow circle. I felt her lust spike again as my back was turned to her. My progress stopped for a moment, and I knew that my wife was once more fixated on my ass.
“New trick, Lover?” I half-growled and half-chuckled. On the one hand, I hated not being in control of my body. On the other, I was very happy that my wife was. My all-consuming lust began to lessen somewhat as my amusement grew. That had probably been Sookie’s plan all along.
“Claude and I have been working on it,” she said as she spun me slowly around so that I was facing her again.
“Your turn?” I asked a bit roughly.
She gave me a sly smile and then turned in a little circle, her hips swaying suggestively. Her heels clicking against the wooden floor propelled my lust higher again.
Oh—yes—those shoes would definitely be staying on her feet when I was next inside of her, which was exactly where I wanted to be. I would start by bending her over the back of the couch and then I would take her against the wall. Then I would drop to my knees and taste her until she screamed my name and her legs could no longer support her. Then I would sit her on top of me on the couch and let her ride me to her third—no fourth—orgasm. Plan in mind, I once more struggled against the force field, but it continued to hold me in place.
“Let. Me. Go,” I said, my voice sounding pained to my ears.
She smiled coquettishly. “Why?”
“I need to fuck you. I need to taste you,” I growled.
She giggled and shook her head, though her lust grew along with mine. She took a single step toward me.
And that was when I noticed the camera set-up, which her body had been hiding.
“Would you like to make a,” I paused and leered at my mate, “special video for our enjoyment, wife?” Immediately, she blushed a deep red. I was surprised, but also excited by the idea of a sex tape with Sookie.
After seeing the movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape in the 1980’s, Pam went through a phase where she wanted to film herself enjoying carnal acts. In fact, I was pretty certain that she tracked down a couple of that film’s stars and seduced them into reenacting some of the scenes. However, I had never had the desire to make a video of myself fucking. What would I do with it? Watch it for the woman, whose name I probably did not even know? Admire myself? I had a big fucking ego, but my “self-love” had never gone that far. And I certainly did not need to watch such a tape to try to “improve.”
However, the prospect of making a sex tape with Sookie was a whole different ballgame, and especially if it was something she wanted, I was all for it.
Her face still flaming as red as the flowers in her dress, Sookie put up her hand. “Down boy. We’re not gonna make that kind of video—not today at least.” She bit her lip and then shook her head. “Probably not ever.” She giggled a little nervously. “I think I prefer you live.”
My eyebrow arched in question, I asked, “Then why the camera, Lover?”
“Well,” she motioned around her, “I know it doesn’t look like much, but you and I are at our prom.”
“Prom?” I asked, trying to recall what one of those was. I felt my head tilting to the side as I motioned for her to explain.
Although she had yet to let me out of her force field, she closed the few remaining feet between us and placed a gentle kiss on my lips before grabbing my hand.
“It was Hunter’s idea,” she said, “and, well, Emma’s too. She learned about proms from one of her friends, who has an older sister. And Hunter got it into his head that we needed a special date. He’s got that picture of us dancing after the pledging, and his mind just ran with everything.”
“A prom is a dance for adolescent humans?” I asked for confirmation as I finally retrieved the word’s meaning from the files of my brain.
My lust had dissipated sufficiently for Sookie to set my body free, and I pulled my mate into my embrace. “I want crazy Sookie as my date—always,” I soothed as I breathed in her scent. Instead of enflaming me this time, her smell settled me. For now, the beast inside of me that wanted to pillage my mate was quieted.
She looked up at me with a bright smile and a giggle. I could feel her happiness at my words.
I could not help the smile that rose to my own lips as I thought about my son planning something like this.
“So,” Sookie continued with a little shrug, “I don’t have a sequined prom dress that I’d only wear once, but I thought you’d like this one.”
“I do,” I assured. “You look as beautiful as I have ever seen you, min kära.”
“Sorry I had to hold you in a force field like that,” she said, with another little giggle. “But I sort of wanted to keep this dress in one piece.”
“Then you were very wise to hold me,” I chuckled as I kissed the top of her head.
She gestured around the room. “We don’t have a cheesy prom theme with cheesy decorations, but we do have candlelight. There aren’t lots of couples around us sharing the dance floor, but we have music too.” She grinned. “Hunter helped to pick that out too. And that,” she said pointing to the camera, “is because he wants to have a prom picture of us.”
I grinned. My son, it seemed, was a budding photographer and loved his pictures. “And the Internet connection?” I asked.
Sookie’s smile became more muted though no less sincere or lovely. “He wanted us to have this special night so badly, but it was clear that he also wanted to share it with us a little. And I think he’ll feel better if he can see us and know we’re okay too, so Molly fixed it so that we can call him and talk to him, and then he can watch us dance for a little while.” Her voice hitched. “He wants to see his daddy happy, Eric. He loves you so much.”
Her eyes and the bond were telling me an incredible story in that moment. In them, I felt her love for me as always. But I also could feel her love for Hunter, and I could distinguish the emotion she felt for him from her others. It was a beautiful thing. And it also told me something that I should have already picked up on before.
“Hunter is worried about me,” I said quietly.
She nodded. “Yeah. And I’m worried too, Eric.”
Her eyes were bright, and I knew she was close to tears so I sent comfort through the bond.
“Why, min kära? I am fine,” I assured as I softly cupped her cheek.
“I know you’re okay. But you’re also still in pain; you had to live through so much because of Russell.”
My skin crawled at the mere mention of Edgington’s name, and I sighed deeply. Sookie was right. A few weeks before, she and I had spent several hours one night speaking about what had happened with Edgington and also about the other times that I had been raped during my long life. She had not pushed for the information; she had simply listened to what I said—what I needed to say. And—as always—Sookie had accepted everything about me, even the bruised parts, with nothing but love in her heart.
“And there was also me being gone so long,” she continued in a quiet voice.
I pulled her into me as my heart was gripped by a sudden fear. I did not like to think about the time she had been away from me. I could not lose her again! I would not!
Immediately I felt Sookie’s comfort in the bond, and I tried to push aside my fear. In truth, since she had been back from the fairy realm, I had avoided speaking to her or to anyone else about the time she had been away from me. I wanted to forget it.
Sookie sighed and caressed my cheek with her fingertips before lightly turning my chin until I was looking her in the eye. “Eric Northman, I love you with my whole heart,” she said in barely a whisper. “And I can feel how much it hurt you when I was gone.”
“I could endure Russell’s torture night after night,” I heard myself saying in a voice that did not quite sound like mine. “But I could not endure being away from you again.” A shaky breath that I felt like I needed to take passed in and out of my mouth. “Not like that. Not ever again.”
I did not even know that a tear had fallen from my eye until Sookie brushed it away with her thumb and brought it to her lips.
“I don’t like your tears either, min bóndi,” she said in an even quieter voice than before. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I can’t even begin to understand the pain you endured because we were apart for so long.”
“The physical pain was as nothing,” I told her.
She gasped a little and brushed away another tear that I had not felt falling. “Eric, I know that you are trying to act like I was never gone. I know that that’s what you need to do in a lot of ways. I know you need to live for the now, and I love that you’ve helped me to fit seamlessly and immediately into your and Hunter’s lives. I love the life you’ve built for everyone around us too.”
The devotion and care that I felt from her in that moment stifled another shaky breath in my throat.
“You’re workin’ so hard to make sure we are all happy and safe—not just for now but for the future too. But,” she paused, “I can still feel your fear.”
I nodded. I could not lie to my bonded even if I wanted to. “I am afraid. What if I lose you again? What if I lose Hunter?” I voiced my two greatest fears out loud for the first time as another haggard breath followed the words out of my mouth.
“Then you’ll find us,” she said with such simplicity and faith in me. “But,” she said as she placed her hand on my chest over where my new scars were etched into my skin, “I don’t think you and I will be able to get lost from each other now.” She shook her head a little. “Every time I think about being away from you or from Hunter, I get scared too. It’s okay to be a little scared about the future; our doin’ that will help us to stay safe and to keep our little boy safe. But—if I’ve learned one thing from all this, it’s that bein’ scared of the past is not gonna help. What happened then will not happen again, Eric. It couldn’t.”
I could not help but to feel pride in my mate as I looked into her beautiful brown eyes. For one so young, she said things of great wisdom. And she was right. I had been trying to hide from the pain I had felt during the past years—especially the pain at being without my bonded one. But hiding would not help me. She was also right that I should not be afraid of the past. The fear of ghosts and “what if’s” would do me no good. I closed my eyes and felt something shift in me as her words and her touch and her light all worked together to heal me.
“I missed you so fucking much,” I said as I opened my eyes. This time, I felt the tear that fell down my cheek.
“I know,” she answered.
“I barely held it together. Without the others around me—without Hunter,” I stopped midsentence.
“I know,” she said again.
“I felt weak. I felt powerless,” I admitted in a low tone as another tear fell.
“I was weak. I was powerless,” I corrected my previous words.
“Yes,” she said. “In some things, you were. But in the important things, you weren’t weak or powerless at all. Despite all the odds, you kept your faith in me and in us. And you took care of Hunter better than anyone else could have. Everything you could do, Eric—you did do! And it was enough. It will always be enough. You will always be enough!”
My mate’s expression was heated with emotion; she was a beautiful fire.
“Okay,” I said simply.
She smiled. “All Hunter and I will ever need is you, Eric. I know that you expect perfection from yourself, and you come pretty darned close most of the time, but you have been taking too much onto those shoulders of yours.”
“I cannot help it,” I admitted, feeling myself return her smile.
“I know.” She shook her head. “You’re gonna keep on puttin’ Hunter and me first. I get that! And I love it. But you need to know that we’re doin’ the same thing right back at you. All I want is for you to take off a little bit of the fear you’ve been feelin’. The past will not be the future, Eric. I promise.”
After a few moments, I nodded even as I felt the truth of her words and the depth of her concern. “What did I ever do to deserve someone like you?” I asked as I drew her into my arms.
“The same thing I did to deserve you,” she chuckled. “Nothing.” She paused, “And everything!”
I bent down to give her a little kiss.
She looked up at me with glistening eyes. “You ready for our prom?”
I chuckled and nodded. She moved out of my embrace and toward the computer. Since our hands were linked, I followed along after her.
“Good,” she grinned. “‘Cause we have a little boy waiting for our call.”
“Wait,” I said.
She turned around to look up at me.
I took my freehand and gestured toward my face. “I do not want Hunter to know that I shed tears after learning of his surprise for me. He would not understand that they were,” I paused, looking for the right word, “necessary—good tears.”
Sookie examined my face and then brought her thumb to her mouth, quickly getting it wet with her saliva. She then used the moisture to wipe away the smudges of blood under my eyes. The act reminded me of something my human mother would have done to get a speck of dirt off of my face. It was a simply act of affectionate care, but from Sookie, I had learned that those acts were the best kind.
“Have I told you that you look beautiful tonight?” I asked.
“Tell me again,” she ordered playfully as she fixed my collar to her liking.
“You are beautiful,” I said as I kissed her forehead.
She grinned and then turned around to push the button on the computer.
(Just b/c we needed to see more of how Eric looked for “the prom.”)