“Eric Northman! In what world do you think giving me sex toys is an acceptable Christmas gift?!?!?!” Sookie’s shrill voice rings in Eric’s ear, creating a vibration of sound that is painful. After the back and forth flirting and sexting from the night before, in which Eric had sought relief from his sexual frustration through the comfort of his own hand, he had changed up the gift for this evening. ‘Eight maids a milking’ wasn’t really an inspiring idea. All Eric kept thinking of was milk and cows, neither of which Sookie would appreciate. Inspiration had struck last night when he said he wanted to be the toro to her matador. While sexting Sookie, he shopped online for a variety of sex toys, eight in all, which he and Sookie could use to enhance their pleasure. Thanks to the marvels of the internet and same day delivery for the holidays, Eric was able to have the toys delivered to his home by early afternoon. He had instructed Bobby to place the package in his bedroom closet as soon as it arrived. What Bobby didn’t know was that the entrance to his daytime resting chamber was hidden behind a panel in the closet. Eric retrieved the box when he had risen for the evening, carefully inspected each item before placing it inside the gift box. The note he placed inside the box had said, “Eight ways to milk the pleasure from our bodies. I look forward to using them on and in you.” When Eric had exited his chamber, he gave the wrapped present to Bobby to deliver to Sookie.
Sookie continues her rant without waiting for Eric to answer. “Do you have any idea how inappropriate that gift is? You should have given me a warning on the box that it wasn’t meant for other people to see! My brother and Lafayette were here when I got your gift. Do you understand how embarrassed I am that I opened that box in front of them?!?!?! Lafayette thought it funny but Jason . . . He’s my brother for God’s sake! He doesn’t want to know what I do behind closed doors any more than I want to know what he does! It’s bad enough I get glimpses of it in his head!” Sookie’s voice gets higher and higher in pitch as she screams at him in all her righteous indignation. Eric knows that her anger stems from her embarrassment at having others see the contents of the box. But it doesn’t bother him; he lost all modesty eons ago, not that he had much of it to begin with. And his relationship with his “sister” is drastically different from the one Sookie has with her brother. Sookie was raised with very repressed views about sex; it reminds Eric of the ridiculous 1950s sitcoms where sex was never talked about and husbands and wives slept in separate beds.
Sookie pauses to take a deep breath and Eric knows this is his opportunity to speak. He keeps his voice calm and soothing because he doesn’t want to rile her any further. “Forgive me Lover. I did not mean to cause you undue stress by unintentionally embarrassing you in front of your friend and brother.” Eric has more he wishes to say but Sookie’s sarcastic snort cuts him off, ending his patience and the leash he has on his temper.
“Oh please. Save your fake apologies for someone dumb enough to believe that shit! I’m not buyin’ whatever it is you’re selling!”
“Sookie you know I wasn’t trying to embarrass you. Stop acting so childish,” Eric snaps. He had meant the gift to be something to inflame her passion. However anger isn’t exactly the type of passion he was going for.
“Childish?!?! That’s rich coming from you,” she scoffs. “Your over a thousand years old and you act like a horny teenager finding his father’s Playboy stash. If all of this is just about sex, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. Go find one of your adoring fans to munch on,” she says bitterly. He calls her name a few times only to realize that she isn’t there. She hung up on him. Eric bellows in frustration and ends up crushing the phone in his hand.
“Sometimes I wonder why I bother with her! She is infuriatingly stubborn!”
“Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black,” Pam says from the doorway. She’d come to inspect what had angered her maker. She had caught the tail end of his conversation with his paramour and could tell that the two of them had dug in their heels and refused to back down.
“Not now Pam,” he says through clenched teeth.
“Yes now. As much as it pains me to admit this, I have to agree with the breather on this one,” she says with a pinched expression as if she is smelling rotting fish on a hot summer day.
“You’re siding with Sookie against me?” Eric doesn’t believe this is happening! Since when does his progeny ever side with a human?!?! And not just any human, but Sookie? She hates Sookie! Hate may be too strong of a word, though she did try to fire a rocket launcher at my bonded. That wasn’t done in hate though, it was done out of love for her maker. To be honest, Pam didn’t hate Sookie, but she did hate how the telepath made her maker act. It has taken her time to realize that Sookie, other than her ridiculous devotion to Bill, hadn’t done anything to annoy Pam. In fact, Pam had been impressed by the fortitude the mostly human Southern woman had displayed on more than one occasion.
“Eric, you’re a thousand years old and still you don’t understand women,” his progeny says with a smug expression. The Viking narrows his eyes at his child, thinking of punishing her by making her wear clothing only purchased at Goodwill or the Salvation Army for the next three months. Before he can issue his chastisement, she puts the situation in perspective for him. “How would you like it if Sookie had embarrassed you in front of Godric?”
Eric’s irritation with his progeny and anger with his bonded plummet to the deepest ravine in self-recrimination hell. Fuck! Eric knew if he had been embarrassed in front of his maker in such a way he would have lashed out in anger at whoever had been the one to cause such a situation. And if he could not lash out at the source, then he would have lashed out at who or what was a convenient substitute. The last time he had felt embarrassment in front of his maker was when Godric had chastised him for giving blood to the German Were bitch in the hopes of finding her master. Godric’s disappointment in Eric had both embarrassed and shamed him. He had been further disheartened the next evening when he rose to find a letter from Godric telling him he was no longer willing to help Eric find the murderer of his human family; that his sense of vengeance would be his ruination. When Eric had tried to apologize to his master for his foolish action, he could not find him. Godric had vanished and closed their bond so that Eric could only tell his maker still existed, nothing more. In his anger at what he viewed as his maker’s betrayal, Eric had gone on a rampage in the heart of Germany. His rampage corresponded with the Allied forces advancement in Germany heading towards Berlin. Those that had survived Eric’s attack were captured by the Allied forces and spoke of a monster in the night coming out of the shadows to attack them. The Allied forces had found no monster, instead choosing to refer to the advancement in Germany as Operation Plunder, which was a decisive part in the Allied forces victory over Hitler.
Feeling his guilt well up inside him, Eric hears Nora’s voice whispering in his head and he snarls in frustration because he knows what he has to do.
“Where in all your Dear Abby columns does it say I have to act like a fucking pussy because I love her?” Eric turns to his progeny for his answer. It isn’t necessarily that he feels emasculated because he loves Sookie, but it is making him act very out of character and he hates it! He has spent several centuries doing as he pleases; it is aggravating to feel as if his sense of choice has been taken away. Being with Sookie doesn’t make him feel trapped, but there is an extra weight on him to consider her in all his decisions. Loving her is both freeing and suffocating at the same time.
“You wanted her; this is what you have to do to have her.” Pam walks closer to her maker, placing her hand on his arm so he will stop his pacing to look at her. She gentles her expression and softens her voice, a rare show of compassion from his cold and callous progeny. “Don’t drag this out and string her along if you are only going to break her heart. Just because you love her doesn’t automatically guarantee happiness. Really stop and think if pursuing this is the best thing for both of you.” Pam squeezes his arm slightly and smiles softly before stepping back. Her cold demeanor is firmly in place as she walks out of the office back to the bar.
Eric drops down on his couch, his head cradled in his hands. It’s such a small misunderstanding between him and Sookie, it really should be insignificant. But it has shown the bigger differences that exist between the two of them. As much as it pains him to admit it, Pam is right.
Sometimes love isn’t enough.
“Hooka why’s yo panties in a twist?” Lafayette stares intently at Sookie as she waits for her order from the Merlotte’s cook. All day she has been irritated and snapping at people for no reason, completely out of character for her. She is usually a ball of sunshine despite whatever crazy shit she hears from other people’s minds. Lafayette had never really put much stock in her mind reading until vampires made themselves known to the world. Even then, he thought she was just lucky or psychic. But given his experiences with his beloved Jesus and being a medium, Lafayette has a whole new appreciation for Sookie. He doesn’t hear voices like she does, but he now sees the spirits of the dead lingering about. His guilt over killing Jesus would have eaten him alive if it weren’t for the fact that Jesus’ spirit is always nearby to comfort him. The night Sookie had freed his body from Marnie’s control, Lafayette had nearly killed himself because of the grief he felt over having killed Jesus. Even if he hadn’t been in his right frame of mind, Jesus still died by his hands and those images will haunt him until the day he dies. Lafayette had been ready to end his own life; the bottle of sleeping pills had been in his hand. He could have popped a few pills and never woken up. It would have been so easy and he was tired of all the pain and loss in his life. It seemed he was destined to never be happy.
But it was the blonde staring at him across the pass-through that had saved Lafayette’s life. She had heard his thoughts and come to console him, keeping him from upending the bottle in his open, waiting mouth. She had pleaded with him, railed at him, and finally held him as they cried together for those they had loved and lost. Sookie had given him the strength and resolve to go on one more day, knowing that he could always end his life another day if he really wanted it. While he had slept, Lafayette had felt the bed shift and it had woken him instantly. When he turned, he say Jesus’ smiling face staring at him with nothing but love. His conversation with Jesus had given him the strength to go on, and he was so thankful for that. Lafayette had been there to help Sookie when she was attacked by Alcide’s ex-girlfriend. Lafayette had been awake when the two-natured woman had snuck in the house to get to Sookie. He hadn’t been able to stop her when she had kidnapped his telepathic friend but he had been able to follow after her, calling Alcide and Sam to come help him. It hadn’t been easy, and ultimately Sookie was forced to take the V-addicted Were’s life, but Lafayette had come to realize that if he had ended his life, then no one would have been around to help save Sookie.
“I’m fine Lafayette,” Sookie says tersely as she taps her fingers impatiently against the stainless steel counter. Lafayette comes toward the window carrying two baskets of food. He sets them in the window, and Sookie quickly snatches them up. Lafayette grabs hold of her wrist before she can walk away.
“Sook, you can fool everybody else, but you can’t fool me,” he says gently. “What’s wrong baby girl?” Sookie begins blushing a tomato-red color under his intense gaze and refuses to look him in the eyes.
“Are you still upset about that gift from tall, blond, and dead?” Lafayette looks incredulously at his friend, amazed that after everything they have seen and done she is still embarrassed by sex. “Go drop off your food and meet me outside. You needs a come to Jesus moment. You’s in luck, because I’m feelin’ extra religious with Christmas right around the corner.” Sookie opens her mouth to protest, but he mimes a zipper and gives her a hard stare, daring her to refuse. Once Lafayette lets her go, she stomps off to deliver the order to her table. After doing a round to check on her tables, she goes outside to meet her friend who is drinking from a cup that smells strongly of tequila.
“Can you make this quick Lala? I can’t leave my tables for too long,” Sookie says impatiently.
“Hooka you ain’t gonna make any tips today anyways since I’ve seen gators be less snappish than you,” he says with pursed lips. He pats the bench next to him. “Now sit your pretty little ass down and let’s talk.”
Sookie sighs heavily before crossing the dirt to sit next to her friend. “Alright, I’m listening.”
“No you ain’t; you patronizin’ me. Lose the tude missy and really listen to what I have to say,” Lafayette says astutely. He puts a finger under her chin and turns her face to him. “What’s troublin’ you?”
“Eric,” she sighs out. “It’s not the gift he sent me…well it is. I don’t get why he would think that’s an appropriate gift. He should have warned me what’s in it! You and Jason shouldn’t have seen that!”
“Honey you think we’ve never seen sex toys before?” Lafayette gives her a sideways look and makes a dramatic gesture with his hands. “Bitch please, I wanna know where he got some of those things. They look like they’d be fun to use. You’ll have to let me know what you think,” he says slyly.
“Lafayette!” Sookie looks mortified by her friend’s words.
Lafayette shakes his head. “Sookie you a telepath. You see sex every day. And I knows you ain’t a virgin no more. Something tells me that Viking a yours knows a trick or two to keep you more than happy. So what’s really the problem here? Why you makin’ a mountain out of a vibrator?”
Sookie opens her mouth and closes it a few times. A dull red flush sweeps up her chest and neck to heat her face. “I kinda overreacted didn’t I?” At Lafayette’s nod Sookie groans as she raises her face to the sky so she can stare at the white billowy clouds drifting by. “I called and yelled at him Lala. I was so mean to him before I hung up on him. God, I’m such a bitch! Why do I always lash out at him like that?”
Lafayette smiles as he pats Sookie’s knee. “Because you love him. If he didn’t matter to you, he wouldn’t be able to spin you up like that. And you do the same to him. You both are stubborn but passionate people; there’s gonna be lotsa fireworks between the two a ya. But think of all the fun yous be havin’ makin’ up,” Lafayette says with an exaggerated waggle of his eyebrows which causes Sookie to laugh.
“Sook, yous in love with a thousand-year old vampire. He’s a badass mutha fucker, and he scares the shit outta me. But he loves you. You weren’t here to see him that year yous gone. He was absolutely beside hisself when no one could find you. Idda thought Bill be da one to keep lookin’ for ya, but he acted like he didn’t care yous gone. But Eric Northman,” Lafayette turns his head to look Sookie in the eye so she can see how serious he is, “he never gave up on you. Hell, he would come to Merlotte’s or my house just to have someone to talk to about ya. He fixed up ya house for ya and he made sure your Gran’s grave was maintained. If that ain’t love Sook, I don’t know what is.”
Sookie pulls up to her house after finishing the lunch and dinner shifts at Merlotte’s. Lafayette’s words had rattled around her brain for the rest of her shift. She knew he was right. Despite being her first love, Bill never caused such a reaction from her. Even with all of their issues, Sookie had never reacted as passionately with Bill as she did with Eric. Her Gran’s words about loving her grandfather come to mind.
Lord there were days I wanted to hit that man over the head with my frying pan cause he made me so mad. But all he had to do was smile at me a certain way or kiss me and I’d forget what I’d been mad for. Your granddaddy was the love of my life. Why would I go looking for a replacement when I know it would never be as wonderful as what I had with him?
Sookie finally understands what her Gran meant. Eric is it for her; even if things do not work out between them, she will never love another as much as she loves him. Has she finally pushed Eric away with her stubborn behavior? She had tried texting him at first dark to apologize and say they needed to talk but the text message came back saying undeliverable. She’d tried calling when she left work and it went straight to voice mail. Had this been the straw to break the camel’s back?
Sookie had tears in her eyes as she walked up her porch steps. There were no packages waiting for her, so she could only assume Eric had tired of her antics. Sniffling as she unlocks her door, Sookie walks in the house and closes the door with a loud click behind her. She leans against the door and finally loses the battle to keep her tears from falling. Great heaving sobs wrack her body and she doubles over as if in pain, her purse and keys falling from her hands to land with a crash on the floor at her feet.
A pair of strong arms wrap around Sookie, pulling her against a hard, masculine body. Eric lifts her in his arms and carries her to the sofa, pressing kisses to her head and whispering soft words of comfort. He rubs circles along her back as he rocks her in his arms. Sookie clutches at the material of his shirt, holding it tightly in her hands as if she will keep him here by sheer willpower alone. Eric continues to hold her until her sobbing becomes loud hiccups that rock her entire body. Eric tries to set Sookie on the couch, but she refuses to let go of him, shaking her head wildly.
“Lover I’m just going to get you a glass of water. I promise I’m not going anywhere,” Eric vows as he kisses the side of her head again. Sookie eases her hold and Eric slips out from beneath her. He is in and out of the kitchen in seconds, holding a glass of water in front of her face. She takes it, bringing the glass to her lips where she takes several small swallows. Eric brushes the hair back from her face gently, worry for her clouding his beautiful face.
Sookie takes a deep breath before looking at Eric. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I was embarrassed but I shouldn’t have said everything I did. Lafayette made me realize how much I overreacted today. I tried to send you a message and call you. When you didn’t answer I thought maybe you finally realized I’m not worth all the trouble,” she says as fresh tears shimmer in her eyes and her voice shakes with emotion.
“I need to get a new cell phone. I may have crushed my phone in my hand last night because I was frustrated with you,” he admits with a small smile which fades as he looks at her tear-stained face. He brushes his thumbs along her cheeks, trying to erase her earlier misery. “I am sorry I embarrassed you; that was not my intention. I may be a thousand years old, but all of this is new to me. Be patient with me Lover; I don’t really know what I’m doing. The only advice I have comes from Pam, and I really don’t want to listen to her recite Dear Abby to me,” Eric says with a long-suffering sigh which makes Sookie giggle.
“I don’t know what I’m doing either. It’s not like Bill and I had a normal relationship. We’ll just have to figure everything out together,” Sookie says with a smile as she links fingers with Eric.
Eric brings her hand up to his lips and places a loving kiss against each of her fingers. “That sounds like a better plan. Would you like your present for tonight?” Seeing Sookie’s wary gaze he rushes to reassure her. “I can assure you it is nothing risqué. I remember you told me of the love you shared with your Gran for musicals from the Golden Age of Hollywood. I brought you nine movies,” he says shyly.
“Nine ladies dancing,” Sookie says with a smile as she squeezes Eric’s hand and leans forward to kiss his cheek. “Thank you. I love it!”
Eric’s face settles in that shy smile Sookie loves best and her heart flutters seeing it. “Will you stay and watch one with me?”
“I can’t Lover. I have to go back to Fangtasia tonight because I won’t be there tomorrow night.”
“Oh,” she says disappointed. “Where are you going tomorrow night?”
“We are going to see The Nutcracker tomorrow night. I have already checked with the Shifter, so I know you have off,” Eric says confidently.
“Oh yeah,” Sookie says giving Eric the look he has patented. “Who says I want to go to the ballet with you?”
Eric can tell through the bond that she is teasing him. He growls playfully at her, surging forward to press her flat down on the couch. “Are you trying to play hard to get?” He nips gently at whatever exposed skin he can reach as his hands seek out her ticklish spots which causes Sookie to twist and turn as she shrieks with laughter. Eric continues his assault on her body, but there is a shift between them as the playful caresses and teasing touches become more ardent and passionate. Sookie arches her body against Eric’s and turns her head to capture his lips with hers. Her hands reach down to slide in the pockets on the back of his jeans, squeezing his firm flesh as she rubs her body hungrily against his. Eric, always one to give as good as he gets, places his hands on her bountiful breasts, kneading the firm globes and rubbing the palms of his hands against her nipples. Sookie groans as she wraps her legs around Eric’s hips, lifting her lower body to rub against his erection.
Eric grips her hips to hold her still, a groan of frustration rumbling out from his lips. He holds her body still as he rests his forehead against hers. “Sookie I have to go,” he says in a voice that is a cross between a growl and whimper. He really hates that he agreed to take throne duty all night tonight so he can have tomorrow night completely off. Eric wants nothing more than to spend his evening in the arms of his woman. Her sweet scent is heavier because of her arousal and he is desperate to slide down her body so he can have a taste. With a last groan, he wrenches his body off the couch. He stands beside the couch, looking down at his lover. Her skin is flushed, her hair is mused from his fingers and her thrashing, and her legs are parted in invitation. With a frustrated snarl, he vamps out of the house and flies off towards Fangtasia. As he flies to Shreveport, Eric seriously considers setting his bar on fire just so he can return to the arms of the woman he loves.