Chapter 36: I Got a Feelin’ in My Body
TWENTY MINUTES BEFORE SUNSET
Eric had woken up about thirty minutes before. By habit, he’d used his blood to feel for his ties. His vampire children were both as expected—and both still dead for the day. His maker was a slight hum within him, but that was all.
Sookie was an amalgamation of emotions with happiness, anticipation, and excitement at the forefront.
Eric shared those emotions; however, to them was added nervousness—a kind of nervousness that the vampire could barely remember experiencing. If he searched his memories carefully, he realized that his current feeling was close to the feeling he’d experienced on the night of his human wedding. He’d had sex before that night, but he’d been worried about pleasing Aude, who’d been his brother’s widow. It wasn’t even that he loved her; it was that he’d been uncertain about how to behave with her. Though only sixteen at the time, it had been his duty to marry Aude and to take over the rearing of his brother’s children—as well as to father more children with Aude. However, she had clearly been deeply in love with Eric’s brother, Leif, whom Eric had revered.
Yes—the night of his wedding had been unnerving for the young Viking. In the end, it had been the older, more experienced Aude who had invited a long talk with him before inviting him to his new bed with her.
They’d come to a mutual understanding of affection and respect, and they’d had a solid, though relatively unromantic, marriage because of it.
Still—Eric had never forgotten the uncertainty he’d felt before she set him to ease.
Even at one-thousand-years-old, it seemed that the vampire could still have moments as an uncertain man—as he did not know exactly how to behave on his first night with the woman he wished to spend the rest of his existence with.
Of course, he and Sookie already meant a great deal to each other. Thus, Eric marveled at his own nervousness—confused as to why he would feel it. It wasn’t as if he was uncertain about his preference of and feelings for Sookie.
He wanted her, and—though the night ahead was a kind of beginning for them—they’d already “begun” in his mind and heart.
Just as he was comparing his own emotions to the general sense of calm and joy emanating from Sookie, her own state changed to one that matched his own.
Immediately, the vampire felt comforted, and he chuckled to himself.
They were both nervous—clearly anxious for (and anxious about) their first “date.” Eric felt no hesitation from Sookie, however—nothing to indicate that she’d changed her mind about “them.”
“Butterflies?” Eric asked himself in wonder as he named the human feeling that he’d been almost certain that vampires were incapable of feeling. He chuckled again. He’d just have to add that emotion to all the other new ones Sookie Stackhouse had awakened in him.
He found himself enjoying the novelty of the feeling, enjoying the fact that he no longer felt the inclination to “hate having feelings.”
The nerves had not hit the telepath until she was putting on the beautiful deep purple dress she’d been hesitant to even try on that afternoon. In fact, Tara had had to order her to do so since purple was not a color Sookie generally gravitated toward. However, the eggplant hue (as Tara had called it) and 1950s cut of the garment complemented both her skin tone and her figure. As a bonus, her eyes looked remarkably blue as soon as she put on the dress. Indeed, the purple seemed to find shades within her eyes that had never been found before.
Quite literally, seeing herself in the dress had taken Sookie’s own breath away.
She hoped to make the vampire in her life catch his—especially since breathing wasn’t something he needed to do.
It wasn’t as if the dress was scandalous or anything. It just fit well—as if made for both her body and her personality. Though it made her “girls” look fantastic, it had a modest sweetheart bodice with capped sleeves; thus, there were no issues with her wearing a bra, which Sookie needed to keep those “girls” in check. The fitted top cinched in at her waist, and the skirt flared in a full A-line, accentuating Sookie’s hourglass shape. The dress ended at her knee, and when she spun, the dress was given life.
Yet as the telepath looked into the mirror with her hair and make-up looking just how she wanted them to look and her dress looking even prettier than it had in the store, butterflies started to dance in her tummy.
“It’s our first date,” she told the mirror—as if she were realizing that fact for the first time.
Her nerves ratcheted up a bit more when her telepathy picked up the change of shift between her two-natured guards and her vampire guards.
If the vampires were out and about, that meant that Eric was on his way!
Sookie took some deep breaths and distracted herself by focusing on Maria-Star’s report to Thalia, which included a brief discussion about the security the Were was already putting in place for the trip to the mall Sookie planned to make Tuesday morning.
Sookie was almost able to laugh as she witnessed Thalia’s sneer through Maria-Star’s thoughts when the Were mentioned that the mall trip was for Christmas shopping. Sookie decided in that moment that she’d be getting Thalia The Grinch that Stole Christmas as a gift that year.
Unfortunately, Maria-Star took her leave, leaving no discernable thought patterns in Sookie’s range—though her own “thinking” of the word “discernable” distracted her for a moment or two as she made a mental note to add a new Word-of-the-Day calendar to her shopping list since she was pretty certain that Arlene and she wouldn’t be exchanging gifts that year.
Sookie frowned. The redhead’s thoughts had become less friendly when it became widely known—thanks, in part, to a conversation Bill must have had with Maxine at some point—that Sookie had quit Merlotte’s in order to take a job working with a vampire. The telepath scoffed. Of course, Bill hadn’t been “in the loop” about what her new job actually entailed. Indeed, he’d likely gotten his initial gossip about her quitting Merlotte’s from Maxine—before twisting it into something that seemed unsavory and then feeding it right back to the town gossip so that she could spread the juicy new intel on “Crazy Sookie.” As it was, many in town now assumed that she would be working as a waitress at Fangtasia, and most of them figured that “waitress” and “fangbanger” were synonyms when it came to the vampire club.
Arlene sure did!
“If she were my true friend, Arlene wouldn’t have a problem with me being a waitress at Fangtasia or a fangbanger—as long as it was what I wanted!” Sookie muttered with exasperation. Like so many small-minded people—Arlene just couldn’t seem to get past her preconceptions. And, sadly, the redhead hadn’t even had the decency to follow up by asking Sookie about what her new job really involved. She just assumed.
And she assumed the worst.
And that made Sookie both angry and sad. Still—as with Sam—she hoped that Arlene could get over her prejudices, and Sookie did intend to try to set her straight about her new life. But in “overhearing” Arlene’s assumptions, Sookie had also heard even more disturbing thoughts: like the thought that Arlene had always felt like Bill Compton should have wanted her and not Sookie; and the thought that Bill had to have chosen someone ‘damaged’ like Sookie only because he wanted to use her; and the thought that Sookie needed to be brought down a peg or two; and finally the thought that Arlene was happy Bill and Sookie’s relationship seemed to be at its end because she still wanted to entice the vampire to her bed.
Sookie shuddered. “She can have Bill!” she said aloud, shaking her head. “Actually, no she can’t; thank God he’s left town, or he would have used her to get to me,” the telepath sighed, acknowledging the kind of manipulation Bill was capable of. “Arlene might be a little mean at heart, but she doesn’t deserve him,” she added softly, still talking to herself in the mirror.
In fact, as with all the people she really “listened” to, Sookie had learned that Arlene was . . . . “Complicated,” she said aloud, completing her thought.
Being a telepath—and one who had finally used her gift fully for the last week—Sookie had learned a lot about Arlene, things she’d never found out before because of her rule to try to keep out of the heads of her friends and family. At the root of almost every negative or “nasty” thought Arlene had about someone else was fear and sadness due to her own situation.
She feared not being able to take care of her kids. She feared having another child with another man who wouldn’t stick around. She often recalled her lonely, long hours in delivery rooms as she went through the pains of childbirth without a man at her side to hold her hand. She envied women who had men like that—men whom they could count on to be there for them. Arlene had never known that kind of love; she’d never even seen it up-close as her own mom had been a single parent with six kids from six men: two from failed marriages; three from failed, though long-term, relationships; and one from a one-night-bender when Arlene’s mother had drunkenly slept with more than one man. That night had produced Arlene, whose mother was only partly certain of her paternity because only one of the men she’d been with had been a red-head (she didn’t remember his name though).
Sookie closed her eyes; in truth, along with the not-so-good, she’d found a lot to admire about Arlene—and a lot to pity. She’d been treated like a burden by her mother, but she’d grown up to be hard-working and responsible—as best as she could. When she’d followed in her mother’s footsteps by getting pregnant at a young age, she reacted without bitterness. Instead, she opened two savings accounts: one for Lisa’s college and one so that she could save up to move away from the town she’d grown up in. She wanted a fresh start, and she was resolved to give her child a life that was better than her own: a life where—above all else—the child always felt loved and wanted. It took Arlene a while to accomplish that goal; in fact, she had a failed marriage and another child before she could. However, she had kept saving for her dream, even as she’d added another savings account for Coby when he was born.
Sookie knew that the day Arlene was in a position to move to Bon Temps was the proudest of her life. She knew that Arlene still put as much as she could into her kids’ savings accounts each month.
And—most importantly—she knew that Arlene had succeeded in making sure that Coby and Lisa knew that they were wanted. They were good kids, and—though Arlene couldn’t afford luxuries for them—they did feel loved. Arlene, on the other hand, didn’t feel so loved, and that was the root of her pain. Rene Lenier’s presence in her life had screwed her up even more—because she felt guilty for letting a monster have access to her kids. Now, Arlene worried that she’d never find someone to be with her—to love her. In a way—she had counted on Sookie always being single so that she wouldn’t be by herself in singleness. Yes—a big part of Arlene was glad that Bill and Sookie were no more—because it meant that Sookie was alone again too.
The telepath shook her head. Of course, Arlene didn’t know that Sookie was anything but single in her mind—and in her heart. It didn’t matter that it was only her first date with Eric; she was the opposite of being “back on the market” to keep Arlene company.
“First date,” the telepath said, her anxiety coming forward again as her thoughts returned to the upcoming night.
After a few composing breaths, Sookie shook herself a little and then laughed at herself for her nervousness—though that laughter didn’t quite quell her butterflies. Still, she managed to put on her shoes (she’d decided on a nice pair of flats for comfort).
“Heels wouldn’t make much of a dent in our height difference anyway,” she chuckled as she took one last look in her mirror.
She glanced at the clock, wondering what she could possibly do to distract herself until Eric arrived so that she wouldn’t get too wound up again. Ultimately, she decided that she’d check the table she’d set for her and Eric’s meal.
Of course, it was already perfect. She’d pulled out Gran’s “good china” for the occasion since Eric had gone to the trouble of arranging such fine dining for her. She’d also pulled out the only two remaining crystal glasses from Gran’s collection.
Indeed, she’d had to get the stepladder in order to fish them out of the corner of the top-most cabinet in the kitchen (the one above the refrigerator), which was where they’d “lived” ever since Jason had broken the rest of the set when he’d decided that Gran would somehow accept him playing with his new ball in the house on Christmas day when he was ten years old.
Sookie could still remember how sad Gran’s thoughts had been about losing most of the set which had been passed down to her by her own grandmother. Jason—to his credit—had realized her sadness (despite his usual cluelessness) and hadn’t argued about his punishment of losing the ball for a month. He’d also helped Gran clean up the mess and had been overjoyed when two intact glasses had been found among the broken ones.
Gran hadn’t taken any chances with her two remaining glasses after that. However, Sookie had decided that keeping them in that unseen corner of the world wasn’t any better than risking them being broken.
The comparison of those fragile glasses to her own life—as she ventured from the corners of her small town into the limelight of the Supe world—didn’t escape her. However, she was trusting Eric to keep her from breaking. In fact, she knew that he would have to be shattered himself—before he ever allowed her to be hurt.
That thought scared her; Eric seemed so strong—unbreakable—but she knew that he could be broken—and that she was one of his vulnerabilities.
“He chose you,” she said to herself softly. “You’re choosing him.” She nodded to herself; Eric might be willing to sacrifice himself for her, but she would do the same for him. She just hoped that—somewhere in the cosmos—someone would be watching their backs so that neither one of them would have to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Shaking off that thought, Sookie lit the candles on the table, and then she went into the living room and turned on the Christmas tree lights before glancing at the wood next to the fireplace. She chuckled as she thought about the mountain of wood stacked neatly at the side of the house. Eric had cut enough for three winters!
And she couldn’t have been more grateful. Along with the wood waiting to burn, Eric had also preset a fire. She’d decided to wait for him to light it.
As she glanced around, looking for something else to do, Sookie “heard” Thalia’s signature void moving quickly toward the road. Within the next few seconds, Christa’s mind came into Sookie’s range with Thalia’s void tracking her.
The telepath chuckled. Though her gift seemed to make her more aware than Weres in some ways, it was clear that Thalia’s senses still had more range. Sookie knew that the vampiress would be gratified to learn that—if she ever told her.
Meanwhile, Sookie was grateful that Christa was there with her food. That would be another distraction as she waited for Eric to arrive.
A/N: Hello all! I hope that you’ve had a good week and I hope that you enjoyed this little chapter. Next week is the date—I promise. But I enjoyed writing this little chapter to demonstrate the butterflies that both Eric and Sookie are feeling.