We promised there’d be more and here it is…
Day 3: A Gift For AlisonActually from Natsgirl Part II
A HOLIDAY TALE
Chapter 2 – In the Lane, Snow is Glistening
Three nights later, Eric Northman was again standing on Sookie Stackhouse’s front porch. Sookie was wearing black slacks and a pair of black pumps. Her suitcase was in the hall behind her and she looked up, and then up again, so she could give Eric her ‘I’m ready’ smile.
Truth was, the sight of the vampire was leaving Sookie a little breathless. He was wearing a dark suit that had a light stripe, almost like chalk shadows, and it fit him like it had been made for him. His shirt was bright white and the collar was open. Sookie always thought of Eric as more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. Recently, she’d seen him in a shocking pink bodysuit that she still couldn’t quite wrap her head around, but this was different. Sookie realized she’d always thought of Eric as a bit of a lowlife thug. Sure, he ran a business, but it was a sleazy nightclub that catered to people who wanted to get bitten. Tonight?
Tonight, the vampire who looked at her, his long hair carefully brushed back, was every inch what Sookie considered to be the picture of a wealthy, successful businessman. It was disconcerting. He looked more sophisticated than Bill Compton and that wasn’t how Sookie was comfortable thinking about things.
“Where’s your coat?” Eric was looking over her shoulder and around her hallway.
“I have this,” Sookie held up her arm with her short, black raincoat.
Eric’s mouth thinned and Sookie could see he was annoyed. “I told you to get the right clothes. It’s been snowing there.” He looked behind him and before Sookie knew what was happening, there was another vampire standing behind Eric. “Invite him in so he can get your suitcase,” Eric wasn’t looking at her anymore. He was texting on his phone.
Sookie hesitated and Eric wasted no time showing her his impatience. “It’s just that….”
“You may uninvite him as soon as we’re in the car,” Eric growled, and Sookie looked past Eric to see the black sedan in her driveway, the doors open and the engine running.
“Please won’t you come in?” she said politely to the driver, but her face was burning. Sookie glanced again at the car, “I don’t know, Eric. Maybe I’m not the right person…”
“Cold feet, Miss Stackhouse?” and amused Eric was back. “Since when do you become shy about any challenge? You’ll march into an orgy wearing shorts that let your rather lovely ass cheeks hang out, but now you’re shy?” When Sookie swallowed, gathering her reasons for calling this off, Eric continued, “I know it’s not the plane ride. You’ve done that. I know it’s not traveling with me. You’ve done that too and enjoyed both experiences.”
“What am I going to do in a big city?” Sookie blurted. “The biggest place I’ve ever been to walk around is New Orleans and it’s not the same. New York?! I’ll stick out like the sad sack country cousin I am!”
The driver had walked past them with the suitcase and Eric stepped through the doorway. He stepped closer to Sookie, so close she stepped back. He kept her eyes captured with his own and his laughing, teasing face turned serious. “You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you?” he purred. “You are a strong, attractive, commanding woman. People notice you when you walk through the door. You could have anything you want, but you don’t understand the power you hold.” His hand was cupping her face and Sookie could feel herself leaning into it, into him. “You belong in places like New York,” Eric was saying, his eyes pressing into her in a way that almost felt like he was trying to glamour her. “You belong wherever you wish to be.”
And just like that, he dropped his hand and stepped back. Sookie realized her mouth was hanging open a little and she shut it with a snap. Her blush rushed over her, a whole-body burn, and Eric’s smile returned. “Come on, Cinderella,” he teased, and held out his hand for hers. Sookie was so dazed she took that hand without thinking, and together they walked to the sedan.
When they got to Shreveport, they didn’t head for the main airport. Instead, the sedan turned off on a side road that looked like it led to garages where cargo and planes were stored. Sookie glanced over at Eric, but he didn’t look worried. He was staring out the window, his strong profile etched by the glow of streetlights. The car swung in a slow turn and they pulled up to a large garage, its door open. There were several people standing there and Sookie could see a travel coffin on a rolling stand.
When the car came to a stop, Eric opened the door and then turned, holding out his hand to her. “Time to go,” he said. His voice was kind, but it added to the underlying nervousness Sookie was feeling. Before she could think about it too much though, Sookie was out of the car. The driver was taking her suitcase and another from the trunk. Eric walked forward toward the travel coffin and Sookie watched him touch a button that made the top lift. He took something from inside and shut the top again. The suitcases were with one of the dark-suited people who worked here and Sookie saw the dog head insignia that told her this was Anubis Airlines. Anubis was the preferred airlines for vampires. Their planes were equipped to carry travel coffins and the windows were light-tight. She realized Eric was standing in the garage staring at her and she made herself move toward him. He didn’t wait. Instead he turned and walked through an open door and Sookie followed.
The plane was waiting just outside. It was kind of small and Sookie swallowed, trying not to think about it. She had only flown a handful of times in her life. It wasn’t bad except for the taking off and landing. Those left Sookie in a cold sweat.
Eric stopped at the bottom of the plane stairs, and Sookie realized he wanted her to go first. “Afraid I won’t come?” Sookie asked.
“I don’t doubt your bravery,” Eric replied, which was nice to say since Sookie had plenty of her own doubts.
The inside of the plane was like the one she remembered from Dallas. The seats were wide and upholstered in light leather. Sookie figured the airlines didn’t worry too much about dirt since vampires didn’t sweat and didn’t eat. Then she wondered about blood stains and she felt her face flush again.
“Thinking of me?” Eric asked from right in back of her, and she blushed harder. He was grinning in that annoying way he had that made her feel silly, and he gestured toward two of the seats, “Why not sit there?” He turned and tossed the book in his hand on to the seats across the aisle. Sookie figured that was what he must have retrieved from his coffin. She hadn’t thought about what vampires did in their travel coffins. She figured they were probably in their day death, but having a book in there suggested maybe they weren’t inanimate all the time.
“I went ahead and arranged dinner for you,” Eric was saying. “I seem to recall you enjoy steak. The meal was prepared by one of the restaurants in Shreveport. I’m told it’s very popular.”
Sookie was opening her mouth to protest when Pam walked into the plane. “Oh!” Sookie exclaimed. “I didn’t know you were coming, too!”
“I’m not,” Pam sniffed. She held out a dark coat and a hat. “I’m bringing you this.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Sookie felt embarrassed. “I would have been all right.”
“You would not have been all right,” Eric snorted. “Where we’re going it’s cold, probably colder than you have ever experienced. I have a duty to present you in reasonable health and maintain you in that condition until your job is done.” He turned to Pam, “Thank you, Pamela. I apologize for interrupting your evening, but it was necessary.”
“She could have called me,” Pam gestured toward Sookie as if she was some inanimate object. “Tell her next time it’s not a request. I can only hope my date is still ready and willing when I get back.”
“I’m sorry!” Sookie apologized. “I will call you next time…if there is a next time.”
Pam turned to her, “Oh, there will be a next time! Your little parlor trick is all the rage. Everyone wants a piece of it. Who knows? You could even become a wealthy woman if you play your cards right.”
“That’s really nice of you to say…” Sookie stammered, but Eric interrupted her.
“That’s enough, Pam. I’ll call you when we arrive.” Pam bowed to Eric, but not courteously and then giving Sookie an arch look, walked off the aircraft.
Sookie waited for Eric to settle into his seat before she asked, “Do you think I could get wealthy from doing these jobs?” She had to ask. Pam obviously thought so and for a girl who had never not had to worry about money, it was something she had to explore.
Eric had opened his book and he put his thumb in his place and lowered it to look at her, “Yes, I think you could make a great deal of money by selling your services, but I’m not sure you’d like the attention that would come with it.”
“What?” Sookie asked. “You don’t think I could handle being rich?” She felt insulted. Sure, there were plenty of stories about folks who won the lottery or came into money and made bad choices, but that wasn’t her. Sookie had been level-headed and practical all her life.
“No,” Eric shook his head, “It’s not that. You seem to enjoy your independence. You have been quick to deny Bill Compton’s claim to you, and you haven’t been claimed by another vampire.”
“I am my own person, thank you very much,” Sookie huffed, feeling even more insulted than before.
“Without the protection of a strong vampire, there is no incentive for others to not bargain for your services,” Eric sounded as if he was talking to a slow child and Sookie could feel her temper curling and growing. As if he knew, he was suddenly across the aisle, his face so close to hers she could count his pores, “There is no one standing between you and any vampire smart enough to snatch you and declare you their prisoner.”
Sookie jumped a little at his demonstration and Eric didn’t bother hiding how smug he was feeling as he returned to his seat. “Well,” Sookie squeaked, and then clearing her voice, said, “Well, you could be my business manager, Eric. You could make the arrangements and I’d pay you a commission.”
“No, thank you,” Eric replied.
“Why not?” Sookie asked. “You know this could work out for both of us. What’s the problem?”
Eric’s smile said Sookie had no idea what she was saying, and as he re-opened his book he told her, “First, there are political considerations. Unless I were to claim you as mine…”
“Over my dead body!” Sookie snorted.
“Yes,” Eric nodded, “I thought that would be your answer. While I can’t go into any detail right now, I will tell you there are others who have a greater claim on your services than me.”
“Oh yeah?” Sookie snapped, “Like who?”
Eric glanced her way, his eyebrow raised, “Like the person who arranged this trip as a favor to a contact in New York. Did you think I was paying our expenses? You are being paid a fee. I am not.”
“Oh,” and Sookie thought about it. “So, do you have a boss or something?”
“Or something,” Eric grinned. The plane was moving and Sookie was pretty sure they were about to take off. She quickly fastened her seatbelt and pulled the strap to tighten it. She gripped the armrest until her knuckles turned white. She could see she was amusing Eric, but she was too busy holding her breath, almost willing the plane to take off to snipe at the vampire.
She felt the moment the plane lifted into the air, and she let out her breath in a loud sigh. When she rested her head against the backrest, Eric continued, “I have made it known that your gift requires long periods of rest. It seemed a logical way to keep those interested from becoming too enthusiastic.” Sookie opened her mouth to protest and Eric held up his hand, “I hinted that there might be some form of expiration with your telepathy, that you might use it up.”
“So, you made sure I couldn’t get enough work to really take care of myself!” Sookie protested.
“I made sure you wouldn’t attract enough attention to warrant someone kidnapping you, or turning you, so they could own your gift,” Eric growled.
Sookie paled, “I guess I hadn’t thought of that, she said. “I owe you some thanks, then.”
“I suppose you do,” Eric said mildly and turned his attention to his reading.
Sookie stared out the window thinking about what Eric had said and wondering about New York when she saw a reflection in the window. She turned to see an attendant she hadn’t noticed. He had a covered tray in his hands. “Your dinner,” he bowed.
Sookie lowered her tray and he slid the tray into place and lifted the lid. There was a really thick steak, a baked potato, and thin green beans all arranged on the plate in a pretty way. Sookie’s stomach growled so loud she said, “Sorry.” She told the attendant she’d like water and iced tea, and by the time he returned, she’d already sliced into the meat. Her knife slid through it like butter, and she made such short work of her dinner she was embarrassed. It was the best thing she could remember tasting in a long time.
As she sat back, sighing, she glanced at Eric who hadn’t so much as looked at her. “I hope this doesn’t bother you,” she said to him.
“What?” Eric asked, his eyes never leaving the page. “The way you eat food as if you’re some starving animal?”
“I guess I was pretty hungry,” Sookie grinned. “No, I mean having food around. I know it bothers Bill. I guess y’all are pretty sensitive to smells.”
Now Eric did glance and his eyebrows were pulled together, “Bill makes you uncomfortable about eating?” he asked. When Sookie shrugged, Eric told her, “Not all vampires are as…delicate as Bill Compton. I prefer that my humans be healthy and eating is essential.”
There was something about how Eric said ‘my humans’ that caused a small tendril of something that might have been jealousy tighten in Sookie’s stomach, “Good to know,” she snipped, earning her another toothy grin as Eric turned back to his book.
Sookie looked out into the darkness, but after a few minutes turned back. She wished she’d thought to bring her own book. There were no magazines in the seat pocket in front of her. She glanced around, and then, feeling restless, turned back to Eric. “So…” she leaned toward him, “What are you reading?”
“A book on T.E. Lawrence,” Eric told her. “By Michael Korda.”
“Hero?” Sookie asked. Eric glanced at her in surprise. “It was really good,” Sookie smiled. “I always loved that Lawrence of Arabia story. I had no idea he was involved in so many other things.”
“He was the father of guerilla warfare,” Eric agreed. He closed the book again, “You surprise me, Sookie. You keep finding a way to do that.”
“I just like to read,” Sookie shrugged it off. “Books are easier than people for someone like me. I pretty well read the whole library by the time I was done.”
“Well,” and Eric glanced at his watch. “There are still several hours before we arrive. Why don’t you consider getting some sleep? I can guarantee that things will be busy once we arrive. We should be late enough that the ride to the apartment won’t take too long, but it is likely you’ll be required to meet the beneficiary of your services.”
“You just want to get some reading done, don’t you?” Sookie grinned.
“Perhaps,” Eric grinned back. Sookie put her seat back and the attendant reappeared, placing a blanket over her. Sookie was sure she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, but she was wrong. She didn’t wake up until the plane was touching down. She sat straight up, disoriented, but just like that, the plane had landed and they were taxiing toward a row of dark buildings.
Eric was picking up his suit jacket, “You snore.”
“I don’t,” Sookie protested, but her throat was dry and she had a sneaking suspicion the vampire wasn’t lying.
“You’ll want to fix your hair,” he told her in the same way he might have said, ‘you have something stuck in your teeth.’ Sookie reached for her purse. The plane was still moving, but Eric pointed toward the back, “There’s a restroom.”
Sookie started to stand when she asked, “If y’all don’t need to use them, why do you have them?”
“We don’t always travel alone,” Eric answered smoothly, then looking at her, “Like today.”
There was something in the way he was looking at her that had Sookie moving. When she saw her reflection, she groaned. Her hair had come undone from the twist she’d worked so hard to get in place. There was no time to fuss with it, so she pulled out the pins, shook it, and used her brush to bring her curls into some order. There were Kleenex and she wiped a few smudges from under her eyes and applied a little light lipstick. “Ain’t perfect,” she told her reflection. Thinking about it, she decided to take care of human needs, too.
Exiting the bathroom, she walked back to her seat. Eric had laid the coat Pam brought across the top. “Put it on,” he told her. “We’re in a hangar, but I don’t think there’s much heat.”
Sookie figured it was wool, but the coat was soft and downy to her touch. There were gloves in the pocket and Sookie pulled those on, too. As she pulled her hair out to flow over the shoulders, Eric leaned in, sniffing. “You smell wonderful,” he sighed.
“Uh…thanks,” Sookie stammered. She looked up, making clear he needed to step back.
There was a moment when she thought he might have been just as surprised by his statement as she was, but that moment passed and his eyes took on that calculating look, and he leaned closer. “It wouldn’t take much for me to claim you. You would be happy being mine.”
Sookie set her lip and pushed against him. “I’m still Bill’s, kind of, and even if I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d be choosing you, Eric Northman!” she declared.
“We’ll see,” he grinned, and there was something in the way he looked at her that made her breath catch and her heart pound. He did step back then and without waiting, walked to the front of the plane and out the open door.
Sookie shook herself a little, gathered her purse, and followed. Eric had been right. It wasn’t freezing, but the hangar wasn’t exactly warm either and Sookie shivered. There was another black sedan with its doors open and Sookie headed toward it. Eric was standing off to the side and Sookie saw a van further away and Eric’s travel coffin being loaded into it.
The sedan was running, and when Sookie slid into the back seat, the door shut behind her. It was surprisingly warm inside and she settled and unbuttoned her coat. After a few minutes, Eric got in, too.
“So, how far do we have to drive?” she asked.
“It depends on traffic,” Eric replied. “Maybe a half hour, maybe an hour.”
“You never said. Are we staying in a hotel?” Sookie started to feel a little nervous. She had been so excited about the idea of seeing New York, but now she was here, alone, and in a car with Eric Northman whose hand seemed to be resting a little too close to her thigh.
“Not exactly,” Eric was looking out the window as they started down an airport side street. “The person whose gift we are maintains an apartment in the upper 70’s.”
“Oh, I see,” Sookie replied. Of course, it didn’t explain anything, and she fidgeted with her skirt as she tried to pick the first of the swirl of questions that were running through her head.
Although Sookie had some of Eric’s blood inside of her following Dallas, it hadn’t been much. The effect, which allowed Eric to feel her emotions, had worn off. Still, he seemed to sense her tension. “I haven’t been to this apartment, but I understand it’s directly across from Central Park. There will be separate bedrooms, of course, unless you’d prefer to share.” When Sookie snorted, Eric shrugged and continued, “There is a concierge of sorts who will take care of our needs while we’re in the city.”
“So, what exactly am I supposed to do?” Sookie asked. She knew it involved using her telepathy, but Eric hadn’t given many details on the particulars.
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure,” Eric shrugged. Sookie’s nervousness ratcheted up a bit, but Eric didn’t seem the least worried. “When we get there, we’ll get settled in, and I assume we’ll receive more instructions.”
“Well, what if this turns out to be something really bad?” Sookie asked, and her mind started imagining all kinds of terrible situations. “What if they expect me to go somewhere terrible or do something that makes me sick?”
“How your mind works!” and Eric laughed out loud. He reached across and patted Sookie’s hands, which were laced tightly together on her lap. “You are here as a gift, not an offering. People who are given gifts rarely abuse them. I think however your skills are used, you won’t be made uncomfortable.” Eric settled back and set the book he’d been reading in between them.
“Did you ever go to a desert?” Sookie asked. The picture of Lawrence of Arabia was staring up at her from the book jacket.
“A few times,” Eric smiled.
“Did you like it?” Sookie had never seen a desert and it occurred to her that Eric Northman was probably better traveled than Bill Compton.
Eric smiled in a kind of self-conscious way, “No, not much. You see, deserts are dangerous places for my kind.”
“Because of the sun,” Sookie offered.
“Because of the rock,” Eric corrected. When Sookie looked puzzled, Eric explained, “There is sun everywhere, and for approximately the same number of hours anywhere on the planet. As long as vampires can find shelter, we have no fear of sun.”
“But it’s so hot!” Sookie interrupted.
“Temperature doesn’t bother us either,” Eric smiled. “We register the temperature, but our bodies don’t need to adjust. I will wear a coat here because I need to blend in, not because the cold bothers me. The desert is the same.” Eric’s eyes became a little unfocused as if he was remembering, “There is a beauty to desert nights. The sky is vast and the air still. It reminds me of nights at sea, except the sound of the sand is different than the sound of the waves. As long as you are in a place with sand, the day passes quickly and all is well. The problem is that most of any desert is rock, and if you find yourself in one of those places as the sun rises, it’s the final death.”
“That’s funny,” Sookie said, then realizing what she’d said apologized by saying, “I don’t mean funny that you would meet the final death, I mean funny that I never think about deserts being rock.”
“Most people don’t,” Eric agreed, and he looked away signaling the conversation was over.
Sookie looked out the window. She couldn’t see much. They seemed to be driving on narrow highways hemmed on both sides with high concrete walls. Cars and trucks drove by quickly, and then they started up toward a high bridge. “Look,” Eric said, and Sookie looked out the vampire’s window to see the skyline of New York lit up against the night sky. Eric pointed out which points of light corresponded to which buildings and Sookie turned to try and see the Statue of Liberty from her side of the vehicle, but she couldn’t. “What are you looking for?” Eric asked.
When she told him, Eric shook his head, “That’s on the other side of Manhattan,” he told her. “We won’t see it.”
“Oh, sure,” Sookie said quickly, then smiled to hide her disappointment. Eric was watching her and after a bit, Sookie glanced at him, “What?”
“You have never been here,” and he looked a little sad.
“No, I haven’t,” Sookie swallowed, “Truth is, I’ve never been anywhere until I started traveling with vampires. Heck, Dallas is the farthest I’ve ever been from home!”
“Would you like to see some sights while we’re here?” Eric asked.
“Could we?” Sookie realized she sounded like some star-struck girl, but she didn’t care. “Like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building?”
“We might have time,” Eric said indulgently.
“I’d sure like that,” Sookie sighed, and she realized some part of her nervousness was replaced by a growing sense of excitement.
“We will have a few nights here. I am sure we can arrange some things,” and Sookie found herself smiling into Eric’s face. “You’d like that,” he seemed bemused and his hand reached up to touch her cheek, “Your eyes are shining.”
“Yes, Eric,” Sookie felt her chest tightening and she wasn’t sure if it was the promise of touring or the feel of his fingers stoking her face that was causing it. “I would really like that,” and she turned away so as not to give herself away.
They were in the city now, stopping every block or so for a stoplight, and then they took a right. There were tall buildings on the right and a fence with darkness beyond on the left. “That’s Central Park,” Eric gestured, and Sookie spun in the seat, staring, although there was really nothing to see.
The car glided to a stop and the driver announced, “This is it.”
The building looked more like some office building than apartments, but a man in a uniform walked out from the glass lobby. Another man stepped forward pushing a carriage to the curbside and he and the driver started unloading their suitcases. “My coffin will be arriving in the back,” Eric told the man who seemed to be in charge.
“Of course, Sir,” the doorman said, then turning to Sookie, bowed a bit and said, “I’m James. I’m the doorman here. That,” and he gestured to the second man who had collected their bags, “That is Claudio. One of us is usually here. There is another doorman who comes on duty, Frank.” He handed Sookie his card. “If you have any problems or questions while you’re visiting, you only need to call us and we’ll take care of you.”
“We are meeting someone,” Eric stated as they walked into the shining, marble entrance with a massive wreath on the wall and a shining Christmas tree all decorated with white lights.
“Your visitor is upstairs waiting for you. Basil let him into the apartment.” James had pushed the elevator button. Claudio nodded to them, then turned to push their bags further into the lobby and took a turn.
When the elevator arrived, James stepped in with them and pushed a button for the sixth floor, then stepped out. “I’ll call Basil. He’ll be waiting for you when you get upstairs. Have a nice night.”
“Thanks,” Sookie was breathing a little hard, overwhelmed by all of it. “Wow!” she said when the doors closed, “Just… wow!”
Sookie could see Eric’s smile in the reflection from the elevator’s polished walls. It was that look he got when he thought she was being a little too precious. “I’m glad I amuse you,” Sookie just shook her head. She knew she could try to act like this wasn’t her first time in the big city, but it was, and pretending just wasn’t in her. She was delighted and wanted to enjoy the feeling.
“You are a constant source of amusement,” Eric replied, and his smile slipped a little, “and I find it most intriguing.” Sookie wasn’t quite sure she should like the sound of that, but then the doors slid open and there was an honest to God butler standing in the doorway.
He had one of those black suits. His hair was a little thin on top, but he was tall and fit and he bowed as they stepped out. “Good evening,” he said in a British accent, “and welcome to New York, Mr. Northman.” Sookie could tell he was human and for some reason she found that comforting. He turned to her then and bowed once more, “And you must be Miss Stackhouse. It will be my pleasure to take care of you both while you are with us.”
“Thank you, Basil,” Sookie replied. Eric seemed to be standing taller and that made Sookie square her shoulders a little too as they followed the butler down the hall.
There weren’t many doors and he led them to the one at the end. He opened it, saying, “A Mr. Cataliades is waiting for you in the sitting room. He said you know him.”
“I didn’t know he’d be here!” Sookie was delighted.
“Neither did I,” and Sookie noticed Eric didn’t sound as happy about it.
Basil walked them through a showy living room. It had windows that stretched from floor to ceiling, soft drapes covering them. The sitting room was through another door to the side and it was smaller and warmer somehow. There was a couch upholstered in soft leather and two chairs in a muted floral design. The attorney stood up to greet them, stepping forward to take Sookie’s hand in his. “You’ve arrived,” he spoke directly to her. “You look like you didn’t have too many misadventures.”
“The plane ride was real smooth,” Sookie told him, “I slept mostly.”
“A prudent plan,” he said agreeably. He glanced over her shoulder, “Mr. Northman. You will be heading into the city to review arrangements this evening. The instructions are written out,” and the attorney indicated a sheet of paper on the side table.
“I hadn’t expected to see you,” Eric sounded guarded.
“When I heard my dear Miss Stackhouse was traveling here alone with you I asked to be included. What an adventure!” He turned to Sookie, “You’ve never been to New York, have you?”
“No!” Sookie exclaimed. “Eric and I were just talking about the things I’d like to see while I’m here.”
Mr. Cataliades was looking at Eric in a funny way, “And Mr. Northman was offering to take you to see the sights? How kind of him.”
“I am sure our assignment would allow some free time,” Eric sounded a little defensive.
“I’m sure,” the demon was smiling, but the way he and Eric Northman were squared off had Sookie looking between the both of them.
“Is there something going on here I should know about?” she asked.
“No, nothing that concerns you,” Mr. Cataliades said smoothly. “But I would get moving if I were you, Mr. Northman. The number for your contact is also there.”
“Very kind of you,” Eric picked up the paper. “and, where will you be staying while you’re here?”
A slow smile spread across the demon’s face, “Why, right here with you! There are four bedrooms in this apartment. I took the liberty of having Basil set up the front one for Sookie. She should have the view of the Park while she’s here. I took one of the back bedrooms, and, of course, the other one would be yours, Mr. Northman.”
“I hope I won’t disturb you when I move around at night,” Eric’s tone was mild.
“I am a light sleeper,” Mr. Cataliades replied. “But I can’t think of many reasons to walk around the apartment once everyone settles for the night. I’m sure if you are searching for entertainment, you’ll go out.” The attorney turned to Sookie and, in that moment, she realized he’d come to act as a chaperone and she wasn’t sure if she was flattered or annoyed, or both.
‘It’s not like I wanted Eric to sneak into my bedroom,’ she told herself, but she found herself glancing at the vampire as he leaned over the table to pick up the instructions, and for a minute, she wasn’t so sure.
“If you aren’t too tired during the day, we can use that time to sight-see,” the attorney was telling her. “As for now, have you had anything to eat?”
Sookie assured him she had and then a huge yawn escaped her. “I’m so sorry!” she stammered.
“Not at all,” Mr. Cataliades assured her. “Perfectly understandable. I’m sure your things are in your room now. Why don’t I walk you there and we’ll see each other in the morning? Basil assures me he has a lovely late breakfast planned and then we can take a walk in the Park and decide what you’d like to see first.”
“Well,” Sookie smiled, “That would be great!” She stood up and started to follow Mr. Cataliades, but she paused as she passed Eric. “So, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
“As you say,” Eric said mildly. He didn’t look happy.
“And Eric? Thanks for everything, the car, the talk, dinner. Everything,” and she laid her hand on his arm. She looked up and suddenly, for a moment she found herself lost in his eyes. He looked at her with something that felt like longing, and Sookie found she couldn’t breathe.
“Sleep well, Miss Stackhouse,” Eric Northman said to her.
Mr. Cataliades took her arm, “I’m sure she will,” he told Eric, and Sookie found herself being politely, but firmly, steered to her room. As Mr. Cataliades bowed to go, he told her, “You should probably lock your door, my dear. This is a strange city and it’s never wrong to take precautions.”
Sookie almost heard her Gran saying in her soft voice that good girls needed to be careful, and Sookie thanked the demon and listened as the lock engaged.
*A SPECIAL THANKS TO NATSGIRL FOR GIFTING ALISONACTUALLY WITH THIS STORY. DO LEAVE YOUR LIKES AND COMMENTS LIKE YOU ALWAYS WOULD, THEY WILL END UP WITH NATSGIRL.
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