Escorting Sookie from my office and away from Bill we were quiet as we made our way out to my car. I knew Sookie was nervous and had been the entire week waiting for an opportunity for us to talk about how I felt now that I had my memories back. The week had been a busy one, to say the least, but our time together had never been far from my mind.
I knew that I loved Sookie before getting my memories back, but I was unwilling to put a name to the emotion or be truthful to myself. I wasn’t sure it was wise to let myself fall for her. From the moment she had stepped foot into my bar, I had been trying and unsuccessful in staying away from her. Sookie was always on my mind even when I was fucking some disgusting fangbanger. Eventually, I could no longer tolerate their smell or voice while I unsuccessfully satisfied my baser needs and after the curse was lifted, I no longer tried to fuck Sookie out of my mind. It felt like a betrayal to the feelings I had risen with. I wasn’t sure how they had changed so drastically over the course of a week until just a few days ago.
Now I knew. That Eric, her Eric, was who I’d be if I didn’t have a thousand years of hardening myself to the world and opened myself to the only one in the world who I could be myself without worry. Sookie was my refuge, my light. I only had to knock down the walls and let her in for her to love me and she did for one magnificent week.
Sookie said she loved the real me and wanted a relationship. A relationship. My experience with relationships had always been built on duty, not love. The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t stay away from her any longer. If Sookie had been with the Tiger or Bill when I got my memories back, I would have stopped at nothing to have her.
Pulling Sookie deeper into the Supernatural world was not something either of us wanted, but it was an unfortunate circumstance that came from being with me. One I hoped she didn’t regret later down the road. Once it was known how important she is to me, others would use her as a way to get to me. After finally coming to admitting to myself that I had loved Sookie even before I was cursed, I wanted to bond myself to her. I also hoped that in the future she would agree to become my bonded child. If I opened myself up to her, to loving her, and to one day lost Sookie, I don’t believe I would be able to go on.
If anything, was to happen to her because of me… I needed to keep her safe. Always.
There were so many things that would have to wait until after the summit. My Queen’s fate was unknown, and so was the outcome of her trial. We could have a new monarch once all was said and done. If that was the case and depending on who it is, we might need to leave Louisiana. There were too many what ifs, but I needed to plan for all of them. I had too many people that relied on me to be unprepared.
“Hey,” Sookie said, resting a hand on my bicep. “You’re quiet. Stressed. If you want to do this another night, I’ll understand.”
“No,” I replied, bringing her hand up to kiss her knuckles. “We need this. I need this. I want to clear the air between us. Let you know what I’m feeling and thinking before my nights are too busy with preparations. I don’t want you second-guessing yourself while we are at the Summit. You need and deserve to know what I want.”
“I thought men don’t like to talk about their feelings. You in particular,” she responded a small smile gracing her full red lips.
“I have no problem discussing my feelings if I understand what I’m feeling,” I replied as I exited the highway. “I am unaccustomed to speaking of my feelings. Vampires do not discuss such topics. We are very impersonal if you hadn’t caught that by now.”
“I have. Do you still hate having feelings?” she asked.
Sookie nodded her head. “Always.”
“No, but there will be times that I may feel that way.”
We were quiet as I maneuvered down the streets until I pulled up in front of the restaurant. It was owned by a Were in Alcide’s pack and was strictly for Supernaturals. Making my way to the passenger side, I opened Sookie’s door and helped her out of the car, tucking her hand in the crook of my elbow.
The restaurant was quiet and smelled strongly of garlic. I believed the pungent smell of garlic was to deter vampires from visiting too often. There were other establishments for the Supernatural community that vampires used more often, but I felt Sookie would be more comfortable here. She couldn’t easily hear the occupants, but if she wanted to Sookie could listen to them.
“Mr. Northman,” the were-panda said as we approached the hostess stand. “We have your table ready for you.”
I watched Sookie as we followed the hostess. She was curious and confused by the clientele. By the look on her face, I knew she was trying to listen as we made our way to our table.
“Is this location up to your specifications?” The hostess asked. We were at the back of the large room in an area where I would be able to see everyone who was coming and going. The tables around us had no occupants giving us the privacy we needed.
“This will do fine,” I replied as I pulled out a chair for Sookie and waited until she was seated to push it in and took my seat across from her. Yes, I had manners and knew how to use them. If the smile on Sookie’s face was any indicator, she was surprised but happy by my chivalrous act.
Sookie studied her menu after the hostess left for a couple of minutes before sitting it down and giving all of her attention to me.
“Have you decided what you want?” I asked. I didn’t need to look at my own menu. All synthetic blood tasted horrible. Once I was in my resting place, I’d have a bag of donor blood.
“Yes,” she answered, looking around the restaurant. The walls were exposed brick with arched ceilings and mirrors on the walls making the restaurant look bigger than it actually was. White table clothes adorned the tables with candles throughout while soft Italian music was piped in through the speakers.
After one final trek around the room, Sookie’s eyes came back to me alight with wonder. “This isn’t a regular restaurant. Aside from being the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever been to which is beautiful by the way, I can’t read a few of the people here.”
It bothered me that Sookie had never been to a nice dinner, but I would soon rectify that. I would take her to all the best restaurants in Shreveport and the surrounding areas. I wanted her to have the best the world had to offer, and I was going to give it to her and have her accustomed to the fine things in life.
“No, this place only caters to the Supernatural. I wanted you to be able to enjoy yourself and not have to block the entire restaurant’s thoughts.”
“That was very thoughtful of you,” Sookie responded with a soft smile.
My only response was to smile back. She didn’t need to know that I wanted this date to be perfect. Special. I knew she was already nervous, and I didn’t want to make it worse for her.
“I think I need a lesson in Supernatural creatures? Is that the right word? It sounds wrong and rude to use.”
I chuckled before answering. “Many of us are creatures of the night, my dear Sookie. As for the different types of species that are here tonight, there are of course Weres, a few Dae, a couple of witches, vampires, and elves, and one fairy if I’m not mistaken.”
I watched as Sookie took this all in and as she tried to identify each species. It only took her a few minutes to ascertain who was what.
“Are you okay with a fairy here?” She asked looking in the direction of the fairy.
“Yes, she’s all the way on the other side of the restaurant, and I can barely smell her over the garlic. I have complete control of myself. No need for you to worry,” I answered. If I had to, I’d stop my intake of air, but I doubted the fairy was unwise enough to venture over to our side of the restaurant. She had been here when we arrived and knew, at least, one vampire was on the premises.
I knew Sookie remembered when I was cursed and how I, along with Pam and Gerald had been at Merlotte’s with the fairy. I had barely held myself back from the delectable fairy that was in the room. Fortunately for all of us involved, she was asked to leave the room so that she could further explain her knowledge of the witch coven.
“Are you ready to order?” A pimply faced Were asked from beside our table keeping tabs on me from the corner of his eye. If he thought he could take me, he was sadly mistaken, but I’d play along for the sake of our date. I didn’t want to ruin tonight for Sookie.
“Yes, I’ll have the Crispy Gnocchi with Pistachio Pesto with a glass of your house wine,” Sookie answered.
“And for you?” The waiter asked me.
I wanted to say nothing, but I knew it would make Sookie uncomfortable to sit across from me and eat while I had nothing.
“True Blood O Positive,” I answered then brought my attention back to Sookie.
Once the waiter was out of sight, Sookie rested her arms on the table. “In the car, you said that there might be times when you’ll dislike your feelings can you expand on that?”
“Of course, there are two reasons. First, I am new to relationships and feelings of caring about someone who makes rational thought escape me are dangerous. I am afraid that my feelings for you will get one or both of us in trouble.”
“Why would your feelings get you or I in trouble?” Sookie asked with confusion.
“I don’t like to admit this, but I sometimes make terrible choices where you are concerned. I once told you I’d protect you as long as it didn’t jeopardize my own life. That seems like a lifetime ago,” I said shaking my head. “Now, I would die protecting you. I would do anything for you Sookie. I killed Long Shadow for attacking you when I barely knew you and look what that got you. Your house almost burned to the ground.”
“That wasn’t your fault, Eric. How could you have known that would happen? Do you regret saving me?” she asked in a whisper.
“Never once, but I do regret the trouble it has caused you,” I answered.
“What’s the second reason for not liking having feelings?” she asked brushing aside my earlier comment.
“We should have talked about other things tonight before I say this to you, but we are here now. This comes in two parts. I care about you more than I ever thought possible, and I have for a long time. Since before we went to Mississippi. I wasn’t honest with myself about how I felt about you, but after getting my memories back, I can now identify what I’ve been feeling. I love you, Sookie, and it’s not because I’ve got my memories back. I loved you before they were ever taken from me.”
Sookie’s face brightened at my words and a beaming smile spread as she held her breath.
“One day someone will most likely try to use my feelings for you to get to me. I don’t want to scare you, but you’ve seen some of what my world is capable of, and I’m not only talking about vampires. I want everything with you and with that comes the consequences of my world. Ones that I know you do not want. If I open myself up to you and let myself really feel for you, others will see and know how important you are to me. They already suspect you are more to me than an asset. On the other hand, opening myself up and letting you in, something I have never done before now could end in disaster,” I tried to explain. I didn’t think I was doing a very good job of explaining myself so that she would understand.
“You’re scared,” Sookie stated simply.
“Yes,” I answered surprising her. Sookie’s hand reached across the table to hold my own offering support. “It will not be easy for me to let you in fully. For over a thousand years I’ve had one mindset, and I need to adjust my life to where I can be open to you. After I do all that you will more than likely one day leave me.”
“I’m not going to leave you, Eric,” Sookie said with conviction.
“You cannot assure me of that, and I’m not talking about breaking up with me and never seeing me again. I mean that one day sooner or later you will die,” I answered trying to keep my emotions at bay.
“We’ll all die someday,” Sookie attempted to explain.
“Yes, but unless I can convince you otherwise you will within a human lifetime. This is all more than we should be talking about as we begin a relationship, but I know what I want. This may seem fast, but I’m tired of wasting time I might not have and fight what I feel for you,” I admitted my fears out loud to myself and Sookie.
“Wow!” Sookie exclaimed. “When you layout there you don’t hold back.”
I couldn’t stop my lips from tipping up as I watched Sookie beam from across the table.
“Why do I feel there’s more?” She asked nervously after a few quiet moments.
“Because there is. None of it needs to be said tonight. It can wait if you want.”
“So far almost everything you’ve said has been wonderful. Is this the part where you break my heart, or I get mad at you and never want to see you again?” Sookie asked before she anxiously started to bite her lip.
“I certainly hope not. There are things that I want for us in the future, and you may not be agreeable,” I stated. I wasn’t sure if now was the right time to bring up what I wanted for us.
“What do you want?” She questioned quietly.
“I hope that you’ll agree to bond with me and one day become my bonded child,” I stated with conviction.
“That’s being married in your world, correct?”
Was Sookie going to ignore the part where I wanted her to become my child?
“Yes,” I answered as I watched what I wanted, sink in.
“I’ve thought about being bonded to you since you brought it up. You weren’t sure if you would want to be bonded or not.”
“I am now,” I said interrupting her.
“You want to be married? For me to be able to feel what you’re feeling? She asked unbelievingly.
“Yes, I want to take care of you, provide for you, to be the one you come home to and for you to be the one I come home to at the end of the night. I want for us to sit in front of the fire and talk about our nights, to be able to make love to you, and have you in my bed,” I declared.
Tears filled Sookie’s eye, and I was sure she would soon start crying, but our waiter came with her food and distracted her for a few moments. Long enough for her to pull herself together. Once the waiter had sat her food down and refilled her wine glass, it was my turn to reach out and hold her hand.
“Sookie, I want what we had when I was cursed, but more. I’ll be more. This time, it won’t end in a week. Hopefully, it will never end. What do you want, my Sookie?”
Sookie cleared her throat and then took a drink of wine before responding. “I want those things and want to be with you. I guess… I never thought I’d have them.”
I knew after Bill; Sookie thought she’d never be married or have a typical relationship. I would give her all those things, but we wouldn’t be normal or ordinary.
“But Eric,” Sookie said gently, interrupting my thoughts. “I don’t want to leave my house.”
“Did I ever ask you to leave your house?” I asked. I knew that Sookie would never want to leave, and we had some very fond memories there.
“No, but my house is nowhere near as nice or as safe as yours,” she responded.
“If we are going to be living together and one day be bonded, I feel as if it’s my duty to make your house more secure. It’s my way of providing for you and it’s not something you would need if I weren’t there.”
“You want to live in my run down house?” Sookie asked surprised.
“I have very fond memories at your house, and I hope you do too. I would like to put in a security system and an underground chamber that would be light-tight and secure, but also our room. The only time I’ve shared a bed was with my Maker,” I held back my body as it tried to cringe at the thought of my Maker. “And Pam. You would be the first to share a bed with me because we both want the connection and not because it was our only option to hide from the daylight or security.”
“You trust me that much?” She asked breathily.
“Sookie, I want to bond with you. If I didn’t trust you with my life, I wouldn’t be asking to live with you and bond. I only need to make what would be our residence, safe for the both us. I could possibly have it done by the time we are back from Rhodes.”
Sookie sputtered as she took a drink of her wine.
“So soon?” She finally squeaked out.
“That’s what I would like, but if you want to wait we can,” I answered somewhat disappointed. I thought Sookie would, at least, want to live together. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been the most hospitable host while I worked through my feelings
“Eric,” Sookie called my name with a soft smile. “These last few months I’ve wanted nothing but what you just proposed. I guess it seems to good to be true. I never thought I’d get my happily ever after and you just handed it to me on a silver platter. What if this doesn’t work? I don’t think I’ll be able to survive losing you again.”
“If I thought for a moment that we wouldn’t work out, I would never ask you to tie yourself to me. I have faith in us. Will we have problems along the way? Yes, every couple does, but we can work through them if we want to make this work. I may be new to relationships, but that’s because I never have in over a thousand years wanted one until now. I will strive to be the best… companion.”
“I want to make this work more than anything else in the world,” Sookie promised with her words, eyes, and our tie. “Do you really think they could have my house, I mean our house ready by the time we get back from Rhodes?” Sookie asked excitedly, almost bouncing in her seat.
“Yes, they may have to work a little overtime, and I’ll most likely have to find someone other than Alcide for our day security while we are at the Summit, but they’ll get it done,” I answered.
I watched as Sookie scrutinized my face for a long moment before she spoke.
“Have they already started some the work you mentioned?” Sookie asked with some annoyance in her voice.
I had promised that I’d never lie to Sookie and didn’t want to go back on my promise, but I didn’t want her getting upset when our night was progressing better than I imaged it would.
“Some,” I answered. They were nowhere near finished with what I’d already ordered for them to do to her house, but if Sookie’s farmhouse was going to be our main residence, then I’d have to add more for them to do. Her house could be too easily burned to the ground, and while the chamber underneath the house would be fire-proof, I wanted Sookie to be safe no matter where she was day or night. “Please don’t fight me on this. I want you safe. Always.”
“The only reason I’m not going to fight you is because I want you safe. I know I can’t be there all the time and protect you. Not that I think I could protect you, but I’d do everything within my power to keep you safe.”
“I feel the same about you, Sookie. If we are going to make this work you’re going to have to let me provide for you and one of the ways of me providing for you is to keep you safe. I promise your house will look the same as it always has unless you want it to change.”
“Thank you, Eric. You have no idea how much this night means to me. I think this is the most I’ve ever heard come out of your mouth. I always thought getting you to actually talk to me would be like splitting nails on the head, but tonight you’ve shown me otherwise. In some ways, I feel like I know you and others I feel like you’re a complete stranger. How can I love you when there is so much of you I don’t know?”
“We have plenty of time to learn everything about each other. As for how you can love me, I have no idea. I’ve been asking myself that every night since you told me you love me,” I confessed.
“Believe it or not, you are very easy to love when you’re not acting like an ass, Eric Northman,” Sookie answered with a smile.
“Then I’ll strive to do my best not to be an ass,” I responded. “Now that you’re done with dinner would you like some dessert or are you ready for our date continue?”
“I can’t eat another bite, and even if I could, I want to see what else you have planned for tonight. In case I forget to tell you later, I had a great time. You’ve blown me away tonight and I love you,” she replied earnestly.