It was still early, so Eric drove to Fangtasia first (in the “Bugatti”, which I figured must be Italian for “suped-up, high-priced whore of the automotive world”). New Orleans was a few hours away, but the gathering didn’t start until ten and we had plenty of time. Eric wanted Pam in the loop. I figured he’d disobeyed me and schemed while I’d shopped. Naughty boy. On the steering wheel, his black driving gloves squeaked as he made a turn. He hadn’t said anything, but he’d pointedly stared at me when he’d reached over my lap and opened the glove compartment to retrieve them. He made quite a slow show of putting them on, making it damn clear that the gloves were for handling me and not the car. Later. I watched the perforated leather stretch as he gripped the wheel tighter. Once he parked in the employees’ lot in the back, my door made a futuristic beeeeewr noise and it lifted up and away, like a bird’s wing. He was standing at my side, offering his gloved hand, before it completed.
I sat in the seat with my brows in my hairline. “Seriously?” The door opened like a wing?
He cocked his head. “Isn’t it polite to help a lady from her car?”
“Sure it’s polite. I’m talking about this,” I waved my hand at the dashboard. “This car is beyond ridiculous. Admit it, you’re trying to shock me.”
Smirking, he reached in and scooped me out by the shoulders and thighs. I tensed, jerking my hands away from him, mindful to not touch his neck or face as I always did when he held me. He set me down gracefully and clicked the toggle that made the doors close and the locks flip. Beeeeewr. Click.
He offered his arm and I took it. “Not at all,” he said breezily, lying through his damn teeth. “A certain amount of spectacle is required for this type of event. Vampires of means must show off.”
I flicked my wrist dismissively. “Surely you of all people don’t need to. Even if you were five nights old and dirt poor, you’re still the prettiest vampire in the world. You could show up in a Gremlin and still turn every head.”
I didn’t give a thought to my comment. It was true. Even if I’d found him clawing through the dirt on his very first night as a vampire, naked and hungry and disoriented, I’d still love him every bit as much as the wealthy ancient he was now.
But I guess it was a bigger sentiment that I realized.
He stopped walking and grabbed my shoulders, turning me into him, glaring at me accusingly. “Why do you torture me? Why do you cherish me and spurn my wealth and cover yourself in fucking silver? How am I supposed to respond when I can’t even touch you?” He squeezed his fingers together, making the leather squeak again, emphasizing his point.
I sighed. “I don’t spurn your wealth. I just don’t care about it. And…well, you can kiss me,” I offered pitifully, knowing full well it wasn’t enough.
“I want to tear this dress off with my teeth and lick you clean.”
I whimpered at the image. “W-well. You can return the compliment, at the very least. You never told me that I looked nice tonight.”
His eyes clouded and he pulled me closer. When he whispered, not even the vampires inside could have heard him. “Nice, Sookie? You want to hear you look nice?” The word dripped with disdain. “You look like rough sex, lover. You smell like me, and yet the set of your shoulders and your sparkling eyes are those of an eager virgin. Your politeness makes me hard. Your shoes make me want bend you over this ridiculous car. Everything about you makes me want to fuck your mouth with my tongue, your pussy with my cock, and your ass with my fingers, so that there’s not a single point of entry in you that isn’t filled with me.”
I gasped and looked at the ground. Splinters of broken glass glinted in the dim street light. A black finger appeared at my chin and lifted my gaze back up. A beautiful man stared at me. “And yet you look like you’ve never been touched. I feel as though I’ve never had you. It physically hurts to look at you. That’s how…nice you look tonight.”
I swallowed. Fucking silver. I hated myself. Why was I so shortsighted about this? Didn’t I realize that Eric would blow my brains out with filthy compliments until the stupid dress was ruined with girl come anyway and I jumped him right here on top of his car? That maybe smelling like fresh Eric sex was just as preventative as an ounce of colliodal silver? Who would touch me if I were dripping with his semen? Who would dare?
I could feel my eyes tighten, telling me that if he kept talking, I’d end up crying. “I love you. I’ll buy another gown for you to rip. I’ll dress up just as pretty. I’ll give you all the rough sex you want.” I looked sideways. “On any car you want.”
I heard him chuckled softly through his nose. I dared another glance upwards. He was smiling. “Sookie, I…” he paused, “…I know it sounds contradictory, but I love that I can’t touch you. So little is ever denied me. You are my brilliant little fairy. Mine, yet untouchable.” He lowered and kissed me. The one thing he was allowed. “Wonderful, infuriating Sookie.”
I bit my lip. “I still want you.”
“When we get home, I’ll throw you in the pool.”
“You have a pool?” I really needed to take a proper tour of his house.
He led me inside. Pam was already setting up. She was alone. I guess Ginger was late again. She turned at the feel of her master’s presence, but her fang drop was all for me, baby. “Ssssookie,” she drizzled at me, her eyes sliding all over my dress and leaving an oily residue behind.
Eric’s fangs dropped as well. It was infinitely hotter. “Pam, I want to be good to you. Why are you bad?”
I snorted. Hadn’t I heard that on some Lifetime movie from some abusive husband? Women getting knocked around because they “asked” for it? I shrugged mentally.
Pam’s lips pulled into a piss-poor imitation of a smile and her fangs obediently went back up. “You both look…lovely.” It clearly took her a minute to find a word that wasn’t “fuck-hot”, “tasty”, or “biteable”. Poor Pam.
I smiled and thanked her. Eric snapped his fingers impatiently. “Get in my office. We need to talk.”
He waited until we were all inside before locking the door. Pam leaned in to sniff discreetly as I walked by her to get to the couch. “Silver,” she noted of my jewelry. “Kinky.”
I winked at Eric. “Told ya.”
“It’s more than just her jewelry, Pam. She’s coated herself in colloidal silver. There isn’t an inch that’s not protected.”
This had her attention. She gave him her classic bitch-you-crazy brow arch and cocked her chin. “Protected? Why in the fuck does she need protection?”
She turned to me. “He is letting you sleep, right? This isn’t some anti-sex device to make sure he doesn’t fuck you while you’re trying to recuperate?”
“Bingo. You should read palms when you’re not working the door.”
“Sookie,” Eric gently admonished my sarcasm. “Pam, I’ve been summoned to the formal announcement of the new Magister this evening. Sookie is my companion, but since we don’t want a repeat of the Sophie Anne fuck-up, she has taken a brilliant precaution.”
Pam frowned. “But no vampire may touch her. She’s yours.”
“True. And now no vampire can touch her. They’ll singe their dainty fingers if they try, and then their fingers will be the least of their worries.” Squeeaak. Eric’s gloves agreed as he laced his hands together in front of his lips.
I crossed my legs. The slit in my dress fell open, revealing my entire thigh as I settled one knee over the other. Squeeaak. I didn’t look up as I brushed nonexistent fluff off my clutch. I knew Eric’s hands were liking the show.
Instead, I focused on Pam. “Any luck finding guards for Hunter?”
Her eyes flicked away from my thigh (dirty vampires) and up to my face. “I’ve sent out feelers. We should have several candidates soon.” She slid her gaze back to Eric. “What shall I do about Miss Happy tonight?”
“Hadley,” he automatically corrected her. “When she isn’t with Jason in his home, I want Herveaux to watch her.”
“Oh, comm’on, baby. You can’t expect Alcide to be at her side 24/7. He has his own life.” Plus I didn’t want the beginnings of their possible romance to get messed up with a business transaction. They should be able to come together on their own.
Eric didn’t agree. “Pay him,” he instructed Pam. “Whatever he deems fair.”
“No!” I said, crossing my arms. “I don’t like this.”
“Name your alternate,” Eric replied, his steely eyes boring into mine. “Name someone you trust implicitly. Someone who understands the danger your cousin is in. Who can protect her, or at least knows how to avoid a stronger enemy. Name him, and I shall procure him.”
God damn him. I bit my cheek. No one. I trusted a very few. Even fewer understood Hadley’s clusterfuck. And the list of who could save her from it whittled down to one. I huffed. “I don’t know as many people as you,” I retorted petulantly. God, that sounded stupid.
But he smiled indulgently. “Lover, you wouldn’t trust a guard for Hadley if you didn’t know him. May I use the wolf?”
I huffed again. I guess those two would just have to fall in love while Hadley tried on jeans at the mall while he watched. That’s what guards did, right? Watched girls in their custody try on clothes? That might be another Lifetime myth. I wasn’t sure.
He nodded to Pam. It was settled.
“What shall I do in your absence?” she bowed her head, acknowledging his unspoken command to call Alcide.
Eric stood up slowly, smoothing out his sleeves as he spoke. “Until I return, Area Five is yours. The other sheriffs will be in attendance tonight as well. If there’s inter-area trouble, call their seconds. Anything vampire-related I expect you to handle yourself. If, for any reason, you detect fairies…” he stilled and shot a chilly glance at me. Our bond churned possessively. I felt a momentary stab of his fear. Fear that I would be taken from him. I shook my head softly. Never fucking ever.
He came back to himself and stepped around his desk. “Summon me,” he finished. Immediately.”
Pam nodded again.
Eric offered me his hand and I took it hesitantly. Leather aside, I still worried about touching him. I stood and he guided me towards the door. As we passed Pam again, she said, “You’re the only temptation in the world that would make a vampire knowingly endure silver, Sookie.”
I paused midstep and smiled, raising my bare arm to her. “You’re awful sweet, Pam. Care to try?”
It was only a joke, but Pam’s pupils dilated and Eric jerked me back into his arms before I could chuckle. “Never offer yourself to another,” he hissed in my ear. “Even in jest.”
I looked up into his rock-hard expression and swallowed. Dammit. I’d done it again. I’d offered something to Pam that belonged to Eric. Why did I keep doing that? “I’m sorry,” I said humbly. “You know I never would, really.”
The chill melted and he smiled faintly. “I know this.”
He held me tightly as he led me to the car.
I stood next to my door waiting for him to click his beeeeewr button, but instead he took my hands in his. His lips were near my ear again. “Lean forward.”
I turned my head to look at him. “What?”
“Lean forward. Now.”
My stomach clenched instinctively. I knew that tone of voice. My mind reeled. The small, soft words told me I was about to receive another disciplinary fuck. I shook my head. The reality of the silver all over me made that impossible. My confusion must have showed.
He took my hands and guided me until I was leaning over onto the squat car window, almost ninety degrees.
“W-what are you doing?” I squeaked right back.
I felt the silky whisper of my dress slowly being pulled to one side. The slit on my hip made it easy. He simply pulled from the other side until all of my legs were bare, then slowly peeled it upwards until it was hanging over my hips, the majority of the material gripped tightly in his gloved hand.
I inhaled softly. The cool night air played over my naked ass. I was bent over that stupid car half naked before I even realized what he was up to. I felt his eyes glaring at me from behind, cutting into the chill.
“The only temptation in the world,” he repeated Pam’s words softly. Suddenly his body filled the space behind mine. I gasped as he cupped my ass fully in both hands. On pure instinct, I arched. His hands always felt good, but the leather gloves were a different experience. I felt a stab of excitement at their impersonal feel.
“We’re going to be late,” I whispered, hoping like hell we would be.
“Why?” he whispered back grumpily. “I can’t fuck you. I can’t touch you. I can’t do anything I want…except this.”
I gasped again as he delivered a light, stinging slap to my right cheek. “Uhh!” Fuck! I moaned softly, arching even further back into him. He’d spanked me! Like a little kid! And it felt fucking unbelievable! It echoed loudly between my thighs. My clit was vibrating. Suddenly the air felt even colder as wetness peeked out from my folds.
“Oh, my God,” I groaned. “What was that for?” And thank you, sir. May I have another?
He was already rubbing the spot soothingly, clucking his tongue in mock sympathy. “For the silver,” he replied lightly.
Another light slap hit my left cheek. “Uhh!” I was louder. I broadened my stance, opening to him.
“For the dress,” he explained.
Another slap on the right side. I pushed on my hands, unconsciously waiting for his hips to lock onto mine and begin slamming me against the door. My arms prepared for the strain. My mind wailed in impatience for it. “Eric,” I whimpered his name pleadingly. But there was nothing he could do. I’d made sure of that. Stupid, stupid Sookie.
“For offering your gifts to Pam. Again.”
I nodded wildly, bent over and splayed wide, hoping for a more serious punishment.
When it came, I cried out in delighted surprise.
Two of his fingers rimmed me before sliding snuggly inside. “For me,” he rasped, his cool, disinterested tone replaced by a clenched hunger.
“Yes,” I agreed desperately, pumping backwards, fucking his gloved hand. “For you. Always you.”
Another slap to my left cheek as he worked me. “Mine!”
“My angel. My Sookie. My virgin, no matter how many ways I fuck her, or how many children she gives me. Mine!”
“The second you’re clean,” he growled in my ear, “I’m going to bite this perfect ass of yours while you fuck my face.”
A hard slap to my right and suddenly my vision failed me and I screamed, coming hard around his fingers, my walls collapsing and dragging him in, almost breaking them off at the knuckle.
Eric roared in victory, continuing to pump them, his other hand gripping my hip as he bucked his erection against me, his hips curved around mine.
I sobbed and trembled, nearly falling face first into the car. He anticipated this. One his feet went between mine and suddenly the wall of his body crowded mine. I was sandwiched over the top of the car, hugging it as I tried to catch my breath. My bare legs and butt were pressed warmly against him, while the coolness of the car seeped into my front. I shivered at the contrast. There was no noise except my hitching breath and the grit scraping under our shoes as we adjusted our stance.
“I’m so in love with you,” I told the man behind me, my face pressed against the roof.
My dress was released and smoothed back into place over my legs. An enormous cock was jabbing me in the back, but I received nothing more than a single finger tipping my chin up and sideways, where I got a very soft kiss over my shoulder.
I smiled with post-coital laziness. “Can we go home yet?”
He smiled back. “Once I’ve shown you off. Once I’ve rendered onto Caesar. And once you’ve told me about your day. Then yes. We’ll go home.”
I made a noise of annoyance, but pushed up from the car and shooed him backwards. “What happened to no touchy?” I asked playfully as I rearranged my gown and took a tissue from my clutch to discreetly wipe between my thighs.
He hit the button and the doors opened. He helped me in before getting in himself. He didn’t respond. Instead, he brought his index finger to his mouth and slowly licked from base to tip. My mouth dropped open a little as I watched him tongue my flavor off his glove.
He keyed the ignition. We took off.
The drive took about two and a half hours.
I told him about my detour to Bon Temps that day. I’d been gone for so many days now, I figured everyone I knew was entitled to an explanation… or a lie that mollified their worries, at any rate. My first stop had been Sam. After a mighty bear hug and a kiss on the cheek, he proceeded to brow beat me for being AWOL for three whole shifts that week. I apologized profusely. I was a brat, I knew. I told him what I could, not that he already couldn’t tell. Just like Alcide, he’d taken one whiff, then snorted in disgust.
“You reek of the sheriff.”
“Be nice,” I chided, my hands automatically going to my hips. “Long story. Basically I’m his and he’s mine. I’m going through some serious shit right now, and even if I wasn’t crazy about him, I’d still need him. So back off.”
He frowned. “What kind of serious shit are we talkin’, here?”
I couldn’t tell him about the fairies. I trusted him completely, but I couldn’t risk explaining it to anyone. Not when they were susceptible to glamouring vampires and mind-reading fairies. Any enemies who came asking questions would find the truth ‘fore they could spit. Ignorance was best. So I shrugged. “It’s bad enough. But with Eric, I’m pretty sure I’ll work it out.”
I quickly changed the subject and asked (very sheepishly) if he’d take me off the work roster for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t risk disappointing him, not when I couldn’t account for my whereabouts from one hour to the next. It wasn’t fair on the other girls. He grabbed his clipboard and began to erase my name from the next two months. He brow quirked in annoyance.
“Is this on account of the shit?”
“For now. Yeah. I just don’t wanna keep letting you down, Sam.”
He brushed away some eraser rinds. “Not that it’s my business, but what the hell are you gonna do for money?”
I bit my lip and didn’t answer. Eric and I hadn’t discussed it, but now that our bonds had virtually melted us together, I was certain that, should any financial troubles come my way, that he would suggest/demand that he take care of them. I wasn’t at all happy at the prospect of being a kept woman and nor did I plan to stay one, but for now, slinging beers in a remote bar was an unnecessary risk. Between getting kidnapped or possibly killed or even tortured by our bonds because of the distance, I really didn’t have much room to argue about minimum wage. Not when my boyfriend drove a million dollar “whore of the automotive world”. We could revisit my earning my keep once these multiple problems got ironed out.
The eraser did its job. My name was gone from the little shift squares. For some reason, I felt equal parts of relieved and sad. I guess I felt bad about leaving a big piece of my old life behind. At the same time, if anyone did come looking for me, that clipboard was one less place they’d find any clues. I was a ghost.
I chatted a little while longer. In the end, I hugged him again and begged off to go find my brother. Sam got to preen a little that I’d seen him before family, and I had my excuse not to dawdle.
Jason and Lafayette were working the crew, as I’d expected. Jason had been an inarticulate machine gun of questions, while Lafayette simply hugged me hello and shook his head when I asked if he’d heard from Tara. They were both pouring with sweat. Our hugs and conversations were brief. I told Jason that I was fine and that I’d be staying with a friend until I got a few things sorted out. I hated being so vague, but I felt exposed on the road. Nor did I want to explain
to my brother about fairies and Authorities and bonds, not when his surprise contributed directly to the volume of his questions. There were just too many guys within earshot. So I shushed him and assured him and promised I was always a call away. Any time he needed me, I’d be there.
His mouth pressed into a thin line, but he relented. “A’ight, Sook. Just promise you ain’t into any weird, dangerous shit again.”
I smiled and lied through my teeth.
Eric listened intently throughout my story. When I finished, he smiled gently, and I could feel an increased tolerance in him for the other people in my life that hadn’t been there before. Maybe he was learning that my love for others had no bearing whatsoever on my love for him. Another thing to thank to bonds for. He could feel that I loved him best.
When we finally arrived, I let out a low whistle.
“Dang. You weren’t kidding about the spectacle, were you?”
He chuckled as he turned into the gilded gates that led up to a massive mansion on the top of a hill. Every window was lit. The drive was nearly on fire with dramatic torches. It was the middle of the night, but I had to shield my eyes a little.
The palace in front of us put Russell’s and Sophie Anne’s abodes to shame.
“What is this place?” I asked.
My eyes were glued to it, but Eric barely cast it a glance. “A meeting place. The Authority owns it. It was built twenty years ago for functions like this.”
“Is there one in every state?”
“Some states have several.”
My head sawed back and forth in wonder. “Huh.” The gleam of the white walls caught the light from the fires. The effect was ghostly… A pale, shimmering monument to wealth and power. I cast my mental nets inside. I picked up on a few human minds, but given how many vampire voids I detected, we were very much in the minority. I was guessing that the humans I did sense were probably dinner.
Eric slowed as we reached the valet. A vampire in uniform stood at the driver’s side while Eric exited his door and came around to fetch me. I was relieved. Obviously, vampire etiquette meant that servants weren’t to touch pets. Given how jealous they could be, this didn’t surprise me. But most of all, it meant that I didn’t have to refuse his hand helping me out of the car. We wouldn’t get very far into the evening if I burned the damned help.
Eric, having already pocketed his driving gloves, casually offered me his elbow. I took it and pulled myself up to his side. His eyes on mine, he disdainfully tossed his keys at the valet. Without a word, he swept me towards the entrance.
“Anything I need to know?” I asked rather belatedly. I was such a dumbass. Why hadn’t I asked when we were an hour away?
He shook his head. “Your behavior is perfect, lover. Just stay at my side, use your quaint Southern manners, and stay alert.”
I gripped his elbow tighter. “Yes, boss.”
We entered the foyer and I had to smother my rubbernecking gawks into mere glances of disinterest. The space opened up into an enormous marble space. The exterior had given the impression that the mansion was like any other, i.e. built for living. Inside, it was clearly nothing but a big, public show off. Twin, curving staircases led to a mezzanine level, which was already filled with elegant guests who stared down at the foyer, eyeing us with the same bored indifference that Eric was deft at returning. The ground floor was equally filled to capacity. Even with our prior knowledge of the event and quick arrival, we were some of the most tardy. I didn’t need to read vampire minds to hear the reeling clicks of their brains, noting exactly who was here, exactly when they arrived, and whom they’d brought.
Hackles rose on my exposed neck. The eyes on us only took a fleeting record of the Sheriff of Area Five before they settled with much more interest on me. I was visually frisked up and down, side to side. I stood straighter, welcoming their inventory. I would not cower from their deliberate subjugation of the sheriff’s human plaything. I would allow it. I would haughtily ignore it. I belonged to Eric Northman and I didn’t give a fuck about their high-and-mighty judgments. Still. For the first time that night, I was grateful for the tiny silver atoms that covered me.
They could stare all they liked. Just as long as they kept their looky-loos in their head and not in their hands.
Eric led us some sort of manned register in the center of the room. Following the red carpet that herded arriving guests, I glanced briefly from side to side, wondering if I might see anyone I recognized.
In the sea of strange faces, I wistfully remembered that many of the few vampires I knew were gone. Bill. Sophie Anne. Edgington. Lorena (thank fuck). Godric. Stan. Longshadow. Really, aside from Isabelle, with whom I had a passing aquaintence, I only knew Eric and Pam. The realization made me sad. In a room full of vampires, we had no allies.
I stood even straighter. All the more reason to present a strong front.
We stopped in front of a smartly dressed vampire with a pen and a huge ledger.
“Eric Northman, sheriff, Louisiana Area Five.”
The man ticked off Eric’s name, then flicked his eyes towards me.
Eric, mindful not to use his hands, held his elbow out further, displaying me slightly.
“Miss Sookie Stackhouse, my registered and bonded companion.”
The vampire’s eyes narrowed a little as he scribbled my name alongside Eric’s.
“You were expected sooner, sheriff,” he said without looking up.
Eric’s eyes narrowed in response. “Forgive my lateness. We were fucking.”
“Eric!” My cool facade had lasted all of three minutes.
He turned to me indulgently. “Yes, lover?”
My face burned with embarrassment, but I held my tongue. Vampires were direct. They had no real use for euphemisms. Or modesty when it came to sex. I made myself remember that I probably did reek of sex, given how much of it I’d had recently. There was no point in denying it, even if my ‘quaint Southern manners’ chaffed at the TMI-ness of it. Instead, I forced myself to smile. “Nothing.”
With check-in complete, Eric escorted me to the bar at the far end of the room. I was in luck. They actually had refreshments for humans. I ordered a Virgin Mary, hoping to kill two birds with one stone. I didn’t want to get tipsy, and I was a little hungry. Since food literally wasn’t on the menu, I made due with tomato juice and told myself it was like having gazpacho. Eric, mindful of appearances, ordered a carbonated B negative. The bartender slid it to him in a martini glass.
Our two bloody drinks in hand, we both turned at the sound of a familiar voice.
“Sheriff. Miss Stackhouse. So pleased you could make it.” Paulo Domingo, dressed to kill as always, bowed deep.