I always felt her before I saw her or sensed her scent. It was always like that.
Sookie was standing in front of that door, with a determined look of concentration in her eyes and her head swayed when she tried to summon her light within the semi-circle of her hands.
The light flickered and went out and her hands froze where they were. I knew she knew I was there, a few feet behind her. Sookie waited, holding her breath, for me to speak up. I just stood there, taking in her sleep attire, her ruffled hair and her unsteady body. From the rate her heart was beating and by her erratic breathing, I knew she would be blushing. I couldn’t see for sure because her hair was loose on her shoulders and she was covered from head to toe, much to my disappointment. Her evening dress had been magnificent, showing off her body to perfection. But even in her full sleeved top and full pajamas, she looked an angel to me. I couldn’t show it though. I could never show how much of a weakness she was to me. I needed to be in control.
I was still battling my demons when she whispered. “Oh thank god…I must have passed out!”
What? Why on Earth would she say that of all the things?
“Why Miss Stackhouse?”
She turned and looked sheepishly at me, one eye closed…Adorable!
“Why I passed out or why I thanked God for it?”
I was fighting a smile…hard…
“Why do you think you fainted?”
“Don’t even get me started.”
I quirked an eyebrow. Could her night have been as long as mine?
She snorted. Even that was endearing…“The longest ever. One thing led to another. My shields won’t work and my head won’t stop spinning. But thankfully I passed out and am blissfully dreamin’ my ass off somewhere in this labyrinth.” She took a deep breath, while a smile grew on her face. “Yep…definitely dreamin’…I can’t hear a thing now…”
That would be me!
She looked me up and down and giggled. I was still wearing my tux but somewhere during the night, the jacket had come off, the bow tie was untied and still hung around my collar and the full sleeves of my dress shirt were folded up my arms. I hadn’t gotten time to change. But why was she laughing? And did I just feel a spike of lust from her?
Sookie stepped a little unsteadily towards me and came to stand right in front of me. She was doing her ‘head tilted completely upwards and bent a little to the side’ thing, to look me in my eyes. She lifted a hand and touched my nose with her index finger. I was still fighting my smile.
“You are never so serious in my dreams. Something troubling ya?”
She was still thinking she was dreaming…Did she dream of me often? Shit I shouldn’t think of that!
“Yes something is troubling me. A wayward pixie won’t let me sleep…” I was very serious about that.
She giggled again. It was one of the most amazing sounds I’d ever heard.
“Mr. big bad vampire king is bothered by a pixie? We can’t have that now, can we? I must zap it away.” Then she leaned in and winked conspiratorially, “don’t move an inch… I’ll find it.” She placed a finger on a button on my shirt and started to walk around me, slowly, grazing her hand around my torso as she went around…tracing my arms…scraping my back. She suddenly came to a halt and gasped. Her hand went down and then …Oh Fuck me!
“Did you just pinch my butt?” I turned around and caught her roaming hands in mine. She giggled and swayed again, before replying in a sing song voice.
“ ’s a beautiful butt!”
And just like always Sookie Stackhouse fucking blew my control to shreds!
I grinned and said the obvious. “You are drunk…”
Did she always grope me in her dreams? What else did she do?
“Shhhhh….I am not drunk! I was…before…but then someone attacked me…they took that sword…” her forehead scrunched, “He took that sword from that office. Eric someone stole a sword here.”
Her tone became frantic. “Yes, big heavy, looked old, from that office with the sparkly windows and a gazillion books. He was running when he tripped on me and then he ran off with it. I don’t know where he went. I thought he would kill me. But he ran away.”
That would have to be my office and my sword! How did she know about that?
Wait…Someone stole me sword? Mine? How dare…
She winced and I realized I had squeezed her hands painfully. I let go of her hands and held her shoulders to hold her steady and to check on her. I’d get everything from the security footage but I needed to know whether she was fine.
“I am sorry! Were you harmed in any way?”
Her eyes moistened a little. “I am fine now. I just got scared. He was so big.” She placed her soft warm hand over where my heart used to beat and the warmth penetrated the fabric of my shirt to reach inside. “But I am fine. You need to catch a thief. I’ll help with whatever I can.”
Just then I heard someone turning the corner and a very breathless Niall came upon us. I had cleared his entry to this building on my way, knowing he would want to get to Sookie too.
“Sookie? Are you alright dear? What happened?”
Sookie stiffened. “Niall is never in my dreams…But I still can’t hear anything, so I must be dreamin’.”
And it was time to bring her out of her beautiful fantasy. I reluctantly let go of her and stepped back. “You know you couldn’t hear a thing because of me Miss Stackhouse. This is not a dream.”
Her eyes widened and she stumbled back from me. Thankfully Niall caught her.
“But…but I…I just…Oh good GOD!”
And there was that beautiful blush again, rising to the roots of her hair. How do I control my body from running and crushing her into my arms till we were one? How?
I had to smile again. “You are always a delight, Miss Stackhouse.”
She tried to say something but sputtered. I knew what she wanted to say.
Before I could do something I would regret, like showing emotion in front of Niall Brigant, I nodded to him and hurried to take my leave. “I need to go over to security and then retire for the day. It looks like there was a breach here. Sookie would you be able to identify whoever attacked you? Did you get a good look at his face?”
She looked a little shaken at that but silently thanked me with her eyes for changing the topic of conversation. “It was dark. My eyes were blurry and he was behind me most of the time. But I think I could recognize him if I tried. He was quite tall, bulky, bald and oh yes, he was a were’ of some kind. His thoughts were really snarly.”
A fucking were’! “Hmm, I could work with that. He couldn’t have gone far. And I am sure he left his scent in my office.”
“That was your office? And was that your sword?” she looked contrite.
“Yes and yes. And by the way, how would you know about that?”
“Ummmm….I might a’ wondered in there…I was looking for some water and uhhh…” her expression grew more ashamed, “I touched it… I uh touched and cut my finger on that sword. It was so fascinating. I am really sorry I know I shouldn’t have been there.”
She cut a finger on my razor sharp sword blade and she was sorry! When would she stop getting hurt? “Why do you…” I stopped myself from exploding and took a breath of her calming scent. I couldn’t keep getting mad whenever she hurt herself out of her own curiosity. I looked at her face and she was still on the verge of tears. Oh Gods no! I could not handle that!
I tried toning down my voice to sound gentle and light. “You just walked into my office? Was it not locked? Or did you blast that door too?”
She took a breath and smiled a little before replying, no doubt relieved that I wasn’t angry. “No! I just…the door was not locked…”
What the hell! I locked my office before leaving…How was this possible? There was something very wrong here and I needed to find out. Fuck the dawn! I was old enough to could manage a couple more minutes in the light tight corridors.
“I’ll leave word with the guard room to help you with anything you need. I need to check this out. Please excuse me.” I turned to leave.
“Wait!” Sookie called out before I could go.
No! Don’t use that word with me again…
“Adilyn is trapped in that room. She…uh…didn’t tell her dad…and sneaked out in the middle of the night…We need to get her out.”
Niall sighed. “Pesky little kids don’t know anything…Mr. Northman I am sorry about this. Can you help us here?”
Pesky little kids indeed! I knew Niall would see this as a favor from me and feel indebted. If Sookie were a normal human, she would have been punished just for entering my office without permission and then trying to force entry into another vampire’s room. I could see why Niall was looking nervous. He was not comfortable with owing one to a vampire king. He clearly didn’t know my history with Sookie yet. I needed to convey I wasn’t going to hold it over his head later.
“When we are not in company, call me Eric please. Believe me Niall, she doesn’t plan it but things just happen around Miss Stackhouse and I am used to it now. I believe I can unlock a few doors in my home for her sake. She can maybe read my staff later for investigation sake?”
Niall looked relieved and nodded to me. He got my point. “Yes. Yes that would be appropriate. Sookie can do that tonight, can’t you dear? Thank you for your help.”
Sookie nodded. I walked over to the door she was trying to blast off earlier, the door to the room my European friend Stephen was occupying.
“Is she here?”
At least Stephen was old enough to control himself and honorable enough to not kill a guest in my home. He and Adilyn huh? Who was I to judge?
I pressed my hand into the console by the door, to override all locks. The door swung open silently, to reveal a very agitated half fairy standing right next to it. She hurried out of the room and silently hugged Sookie in relief.
Sookie looked at me, with something shining in her eyes. “Thank you, Eric.” She lingered a bit on my name. It always sounded different when she said it. Oh well what could we do about that?
“You are always welcome Miss Stackhouse. I am sure you’ll impress upon Adilyn the importance of extreme caution with vampires. Niall, I’ll get in touch later. Good bye… for now!”
I turned and Sookie called out, “Good bye Eric…”
I walked away at human pace and I could somehow feel her eyes on me, following my retreating form. I needed to get away from those eyes full of light. Sookie wanted it that way…I had to honor her wish. I had to honor myself.
From our frail bond, I could feel she still loved me. That love was what made it so difficult for me to always walk away from her. In my thousand years in this world, I had fought many battles, ended many foes and outsmarted all competition. But this was new. This battle was not like anything I had faced before. This time, I was fighting myself. I was fighting my blood.
I forced my mind to concentrate on the theft Sookie was talking about. I would need to check out all my staff. It was surely an inside job. The entire building was sealed. No one could get inside without my authorization, not even the guards at this hour. I kept it this way to eliminate the danger from any errant guard. Plus, no stranger could walk into the compound two steps without getting caught, let alone this building of all. It housed my progenies and my closest associates. How had some were’ broken in and then walked out without anyone noticing?
Who the hell was stupid enough to steal from me? Was I losing my touch already? I could not afford that to happen! My position needed to be respected. The supes needed a reminder of what I could do. I needed to make an example out of this thief…