Eric tenderly ran his fingertips over my arms, where I had started to bruise already, courtesy the ape man I was fool enough to fool around with, and I saw his jaw clench. My heart skipped a frantic beat, before continuing its happy race against time and suddenly I got the feeling that he could be thinking about going after Alcide to pick the proper fight he was raring to go for earlier, when he had to let the wolves drag their errant child from the party. A part of me wanted him to do exactly that out of spite and embarrassment of being made a spectacle off, in the middle of so many onlookers. But as soon as my vindictive side raised its head much, something else choked it right there and then, something that wanted Eric with me there…The same thing, that couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to dance with him…The same thing that couldn’t let go of the few moments I could get with him, before he had to go do whatever he was doing for two whole hours before turning up, asking for a dance.
Why I even had this side after pushing him away all my life? I honestly did not know.
No I could not miss up on this so before Eric could so much as take one step away from me, I again took hold of his hands and guided him to an intimate dancing pose. I guess the band had some kind of empathy thing going on because they started performing the song that always had me swooning. Yes I wanted to do all those things that the chorus was singing about. It didn’t take me much brain cells to come up with a face to have that fantasy with.
At this point, there really was no one else.
At this point, I really didn’t want anyone else.
There was just Eric…
The realization hit me like a wrecking ball. My eyes automatically went to his face, to his eyes and saw the longing, the adoration, the fear, the regret burning in them. I knew I could not be glamored, Eric knew I could not be glamored, but right then I felt Eric’s eyes subsume all my faculties, break all my barriers and knock down all the doors I had erected around my heart over the years. Yes just his eyes could do that to me. He pulled me out of my innermost hiding place and took me within him, consuming me whole.
And I wanted to never come back.
This was the reason I was always afraid to open my heart to him.
This was the reason I backed away and hid. The reason I had to rip my heart from my chest and probably ripped out his dead heart too.
I hated him for the power he had over me, if I let him get away with it… of what I would do for him if he only asked.
I was scared…
I hated myself for being scared…for not feeling enough for this overwhelming being…for feeling I shouldn’t be scared if I loved him enough…for feeling my love would not be enough for him.
But, I still loved him, in my own fucked up way….
I loved him and I hated myself…
Someone called Eric from behind me and then added. “Well if that isn’t our trouble stirrer tinkerbell again…Haven’t mastered the disappearing act yet have you?”
I felt Eric tighten his hold on me for a second before he un-wrapped his arms from around me and stepped back. I instantly felt bereft without his comforting touch and looked up a tad disappointed with myself and resented him for moving away.
His voice was as gentle as ever. “Excuse me Miss Stackhouse. I need to get to some urgent business.”
I turned and greeted Pam, as politely as I could, which was tough given how she had burst my little bubble of almost happiness. “Hey there Pam. Polite as always I see.”
Pam smirked. “I learnt my politeness from dad” She glanced slyly at Eric and then ran her eyes up and down my frame. By the look she was giving me, I knew she was thinking anything but polite thoughts, but then that’s Pam, as always. “You do look mouthwatering tonight.”
“Pam!” Eric almost barked. I jumped a little at his sudden harsh tone. Hard to believe he had spoken so gently just a second ago.
Pam turned a poker face at Eric and responded in a flat voice. “You are expected at your meeting in five minutes.”
Eric nodded at her slightly and then turned to stand in front of me, blocking Pam from my view. He didn’t have to do that because he was wearing a formal black tuxedo and he could stand anywhere he wanted, my eyes would still look only at him. I don’t believe I had seen him in a tux before. No, I had not and no, I wouldn’t forget if I had. There is no way a girl could forget how that jacket hugged that body.
When I could tear my eyes away to look into his eyes again, he was smirking and his left eyebrow was already questioning my roaming gaze, with mirth of course.
“See anything you like?”
I somehow remembered exactly where I had heard him say the same thing before.
I blushed from toe tips right up to my hair, but couldn’t look away. I couldn’t form a coherent sentence either. Eric’s smirk dissolved into a rare smile. He touched his fingertips to my cheeks and slowly moved his hand till his big palm covered half of my face and his fingers were in my hair, gently pressing on my head to tilt it up.
Pam mock coughed from behind him and I nervously glanced at his shoulder.
“Look at me min älskare.”
I looked and I was trapped. There was no way I was getting away from those eyes. Not that I wanted to get far anyways…
My internal rambling was brought to a swift halt as he lowered his face and tenderly touched his lips to my cheek. He lingered there for a whole breath and then very slowly, he took a step back from me, still holding my gaze. “Take care of yourself.”
He was saying goodbye…Already?
I could only manage a whisper out of my constricting throat… “You too…”
He started turning around and I could not stop myself from asking aloud. “You live in New Orleans now?”
He stopped but didn’t look at me. “Yes I do…”
My spirits fell at his response but I still needed something to hold on to. I couldn’t go on without something to hold on to. “I’ll see you …uh… around? I guess?”
Damn vampires and their cryptic responses. “On what?”
He glanced at me, his patent smirk again in place, “Good evening Miss Stackhouse. It was my pleasure, as always…” he bowed with a flourish and walked away with Pam, to wherever it was he needed to go.
Long after we were back at the hotel and long after everyone went to bed, I still lay sleepless on my beautiful huge bed. I knew I had been staring at the paint on the ceiling for far too long, but I didn’t know what else to do.
I was finally reaping all the fruits of my mistakes over the years. And the fruits were bitter.
My heart’s desire had been standing right in front of me, and before this night, this day, this trip, I didn’t even realize he meant so much to me.
When I first met Eric Northman, I was fascinated by the pull he had over me. That and some lust that I killed in the bud before it could wreak havoc in my life. Eric was gorgeous but I was with Bill after all. Then when Eric tricked me into drinking his blood, I was terrified that he would feel me and that my cover was blown. I didn’t even think how his own cover story of being a ruthless cold vampire sheriff was blown for me on the rooftop when Godric met the sun. The way Eric looked at me after that incident told me he knew exactly what I was trying to suppress within myself. Whenever he came in front of me, Bill or no Bill, it always became a conflict of feelings for me, with my attraction towards him always warring with my caution. We went through so much together. I saw so much of the real person hidden behind all his careful facades. I always got him. I always understood what he did, even if it took me some time to come to terms with it. And even if I keep on denying it, he always got me too. I was just too chicken to own up to it.
I clearly remember the night I walked out on him. The night I ripped my heart out of my chest and still the pain I saw in his eyes was way more than what I felt inside me. He never meant to show it. And he never dropped his shields with me after that. I don’t think he ever got the chance to mourn what he lost that night. Hell, even I didn’t get that chance. But truth remains that that night we lost a chance at something either of us might never have again…
All those years led to this night when all I could do was stand in the corner and look at him, as he graciously met and talked to his guests, being the perfect host he was supposed to be. Everyone was gravitating towards him, vying for his attention. I felt an impossible longing at my core when I saw random women smiling and fawning over him. It was exactly like being at Fangtasia for the very first time, all over again. Just when that pang of yearning hit me, Eric had looked right across the room and his eyes had found mine. He didn’t stop speaking whatever it was that he had been speaking before looking at me and when I felt self-conscious and looked away, he had still been looking at me.
I touched my cheek where he had kissed me and my fingers still tingled. I was no innocent. I had seen, heard and done things most people never even dream about. But his one small kiss seared through my skin and went right through to my core.
I sighed and got out of bed. There was no way I was falling asleep tonight and I might as well do something else for distraction. I felt in my head around for my other fairies in the suite and was quite surprised to find that I was alone in the huge suite. I switched on some lamps in the sitting area and found a note placed on the center table. I hurried to it.
I need to attend to some business…Will be back later…
Well gee! Wasn’t everyone attending to some business tonight? I felt a mild annoyance at being left alone. First it was Eric, now Niall. Seems like it is just I who has nothing to do but stare at ceilings.
I whipped out my phone and called Tara. She answered after three rings. “Bitch I am busy!”
Yeah hello to you too “Good for you Tara. I am sure you have some business to attend to?” I couldn’t help the biting edge to my words.
“Huh? What crawled up your ass?”
“Let me think…Oh yes, I just broke up with a jerk in front of a zillion people…My family is too busy for me…It is four in the morning and I haven’t had a wink of sleep…I have stared at a stupid ceiling all night and now the only person I can call is busy too!”
Tara let out an uncharacteristic sigh. “Yeah that’s fucked! Wanna talk about it?”
I wanted to still be angry but Tara didn’t need to be on the receiving side and so I ended up sounding morose instead. “I don’t know. Are you available to listen?”
Tara chuckled and I heard her telling someone to leave the room. “So you did get a date, didn’t you? I am the only looser who spent a shit load of money to look perfect, had people fighting over her and still left alone.”
“Tol’ ya to change teams…Guys are just not worth all the crap they pull!”
“Ha ha…Like I don’t now!”
“And don’t even try to throw a pity party here over your break up. You looked pretty cozy with grand pops afterwards!”
“Tara! I was not…”
“Nuh uh! Don’t lie Stackhouse…If that’s how you been checking out that old piece of ass, I am surprised the dog didn’t throw a fit before.”
“It’s not like I spend my days checking him out Tara…For the record, I saw him after about a year and a month or so.”
“Yeah? So you wanted to mope on your break up or did you want to talk about grand pops? It’s not like you were counting the days since when you hadn’t seen his majesty or somethin’!”
“Cut it out Tara! Stop calling him names already!”
“AM not! He is grand pops and he is his majesty!”
“Shut up! What do you mean he is his majesty? Last I knew, Bill was the king of wherever.”
“Didn’t nobody tell you? Eric Northman is the fuckin’ king of Louisiana and Mississippi now. This whole shindig is about his getting to meet all alien non humans of two states, you included. We weren’t supposed to say anything about it before now. But it is out there for the world now.”
I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to say…Eric? King? Since when?
And how do you react to that?
“Uh yeah Tara? I am here…”
“I don’t think so…You alright there?”
“Yes Tara and someday I am going to whoop your ass for not telling me earlier…”
“Tell you what?”
Uhhh… “About Eric ofcourse!”
“Oh yeah! So we are still talking about grand pops and not about how you are drownin’ in your tears over the break up.”
“Yeah…I am drownin’ in tears…I am holding a knife over my wrist and as soon as I am done getting the latest town gossip from you, I’ll cut myself up and lie here in a pool of my fairy dust.” I grumbled.
Tara chuckled again. She certainly was in a good mood. “Don’t waste your fairy dust on the hotel rug! I know a few people who would hold it against the rug for getting all the goods.”
I grinned. My first one since I came back from the party. “Fanger!”
I laughed aloud. “I miss you Tara…I miss gran, Jason, you…Do you remember when we used to have sleepovers on school nights and smuggle Jason’s beer into my room to drink and sputter and puke out? We used to be brushing our teeth for hours after that so that gran won’t smell anything…Why can’t we ever go back to those times again?”
“Yeah those were good days…But hell, I don’ wanna go back to my crazy mom again. We can’t go back Sook!”
I sighed again, for the hundredth time. “Yeah I know! I just wish everything was good and happy and sunny again. I am tired of all this shit that keeps hitting the roof!”
“I know! Hey wait…say what…there is still two hours to sunrise! What do you say to a sleepover with your vampire girlfriend? I can get hold of beer and blood…”
I felt a small flicker of excitement. “Can we do that?”
“Of course we can! We won’t even have to lie around for the beer!”
“Tara it is four fifteen in the morning”
“Yeah and you aren’t sleeping and I am a fanger and can’t sleep! So what the hell?”
“Ok! What the hell! Where?”
“That’s my girl! I am sending a car to fetch you…And I’ll meet you here…”
“You’re sending a car Tara?”
Tara did a mock scoff… “Don’t fuck with royalty hooker! Just get your ass here as soon as you can…You don’t need to pack anything. And since it’s a sleepover, you can turn up in pajamas…”
I jumped up from the couch I was lounging on and started towards my bedroom to throw on wrapper and my flip flops. “Ok see ya!”
Inspite of what Tara said, I did pack a bag with a change of clothes and underwear, a hairbrush and my toothbrush and I was ready for my slumber party…Ten minutes later I got a call from the hotel front desk that my ride had arrived. I quickly left another note on the coffee table to tell Niall where I was going and went downstairs with my small overnight bag and my purse.