“I still don’t understand what you need from me in all this?”
“Considering Eric’s voracious tastes he has somewhat of a reputation among suitable candidates for the job. Broken one to many hearts and/or necks,” Pam spoke accusingly at Eric who responded with a suitably innocent expression and a small shrug.
“So your queen is setting you up to fail and you need to pass me off as a doting companion?” Sookie summarised.
Chapter 4 – Luxury
“All right I’m in. Let me know the date and I’ll make sure Sam keeps my schedule clear,” Sookie responded. Sophie Anne sounded like a right bitch to her and she’d happily come along for the ride to piss her off.
“It’s not that simple,” Eric replied.
“We’ll need to pass you off as a lesser noble fae. As delightful as you are we’re going to need to educate you in all things supernatural, decorum, etiquette, blah blah, blah,” Pam drawled with a more urgent impatience spurned on by her impending meal. She desperately needed to wrap this up before she would have to succumb to drinking the vile synthetic.
“How much time are we talking about?”
“The Summit is in six months I think we will need every night before that to pass you off as legitimate,” Eric stated matter of factly.
“Six months. That’s too much I can’t miss out on work for that long,” Sookie grumbled looking for a polite response to bow out.
“You will be paid accordingly. We will feed you and dress you befitting your status. You would live with me as a companion would. All we require of you is your input and effort.”
“How much are ya paying her?” came a voice descending from the staircase.
“Jason!” Sookie scolded at her older brother.
“What? It’s a legitimate question,” he responded unimpressed with his younger sister’s scolding before his eyes took in the sight of Pam. “Hey there pretty lady. You in need of a date too?” He finished off with his patented shit eating grin.
Pam cocked her eyes at him, the male sex had lost its appeal long ago but she was feeling peckish and he did smell awfully good. Sookie and Eric weren’t making this go any faster. She gave her maker an annoyed glance to seal the deal already.
“A hundred thousand dollars,” Eric replied in response to Jason’s initial question.
“I’ll do it!” Jason exclaimed with gusto.
“The offer transcribes only to your sister,” Eric spoke coolly wondering who had dropped him on his head repeatedly to be so far intellectually removed from the other known Stackhouses.
“Pamela why don’t you take Jason for a walk and explain the meaning of transcribe,” Eric spoke giving his progeny a knowing glance. Between Pam’s hunger and Jason’s interruption Sookie was becoming more indecisive and Eric needed her on board now that he had committed himself to Pam’s plan.
Jason happily followed after Pam like a lost little puppy hoping for a treat leaving Eric and Sookie alone.
“You’re asking me a lot,” she started once the landing had quieted down.
“I am well aware.” Sookie gulped audibly at his disconcerting stare.
“You’re paying me a lot.”
“I can afford it and you deserve it,” he replied coolly.
“Way to make a girl feel special,” she mumbled disgruntledly.
“Let me be clear I am paying you for your time, not for sex and not for your blood. Although I would very much like to savour both,” he said with an accompanying leer. “I consider that to be leisurely pursuits outside of work time. It is not a condition to our working relationship.” He had continued in his business tone once more.
Well that answered any of Sookie’s wonderings about the cause of those scorned hearts, it seemed he was lacking one.
The prospect of devoting herself to this project of subterfuge was daunting but the money was enticing. The amount of money scared her at the same time. Could she really perform in accordance to the salary? She thought of what her Gran would advise her to do. That settled it for her.
“I’ll need to check that I’m not leaving Sam in a lurch but I guess Mohammed is going to the mountains,” she sighed feigning some enthusiasm to mask the intimidating task ahead of her.
Sookie was startled at how quickly her life was wrapped up and packed on its way to Shreveport. Sam had been expectantly disgruntled at her sudden departure but had refrained his disapproving opinions to remain within Sookie’s good graces. Jason was happily stuffing suitcases rushing his sister out the door whilst Pam disapprovingly rid said suitcases of any clothing that did not meet her discerning eye. Sookie ended up with a very light suitcase.
Eric had the demon lawyer Cataliades messenger over the contract for Sookie’s employment and it was promptly signed with a little extra nudging from Jason. Her brother was already talking Sookie’s ear off with one his get rich quick schemes. Pam couldn’t decide whether Jason was an idiot savant or just an idiot. Eric leaned heavily on the latter.
Sookie had said goodbye to her home for and even found the time to visit her Gran’s grave. The eventful night had them arriving at Eric’s estate closely before midnight. Walking up the gravel drive with a single decidedly empty suitcase she pondered for the possibly hundredth time that night how she had ended up agreeing to this.
Sookie hadn’t known what to expect of Eric’s home. She knew it would be far from a Gothic castle with moats, dragons and coffins. On the drive over she had a hard time imagining the vampire inhabiting a traditional antebellum period home or a suburban idyll enclosed with a white picket fence. She had sniggered briefly much to the confusion of her accompanying vampires at the thought of a cheery yellow lab waiting within that picket fence waggling its tail in greeting. Eric didn’t seem like a dog person or a cat person for that matter.
The home that stood before her wasn’t anything she could have conjured up in her imagination. She didn’t know whether it would be considered modernist or contemporary for she had never seen a home like it. The house was a juxtaposition of boxes made up of sheets of clear glass and smoothly polished limestone gathered round a reflecting pool. The property was secluded amongst a forest of cypress trees that extended into a bayou in the back that was illuminated by the waxing moon.
“The trees here remind me of the birch forests of my homeland in winter,” Eric noted when he saw her admiring the rigidly linear bare foliaged shapes that make up the inherently characteristic shoreline of a bayou. She had nodded appreciatively as she followed him in to the interior.
“Do the mosquitos get high on your blood?” she blurted out at random, her mind still on the stagnant water out back unable to quite process what was in front of her.
He chuckled at her question before responding, “I believe they prefer their victims as warm blooded as we do. I’ve never suffered a bite.”
“Lucky you,” she mumbled as she continued to gaze around the home. If she had ever thought to contemplate what her choice of decor would be it stood to be related to the comfort of her Gran’s home. Even though it was officially her home now she would always consider it her grandmother’s. She would have said something so distinctly contemporary would never suit her tastes but as she followed Eric around his abode she began to understand its appeal.
Where she had expected a cold indifference from the inherent restraint in decor she found how all intent was vested on specific pieces instead. Undoubtedly sourced through the ancient vampire’s many lifetimes. Every surface, finish and corner spoke of a calculated decision; it was all distinctly him. Everything that was on display was singularly significant. It was in contrast to her own home where objects of importance were strewn amongst each other competing for notice.
Eric’s home was in a word contemplated. There was intent and purpose within every space. The rooms were not exaggeratedly oversized or minimally spaced; it all made sense in relation to the adjoining spaces. He had pointed out some of the more utilitarian spaces and the entrance to his underground layer before they ascended upstairs to the second level.
They had arrived in what would be Sookie’s bedroom during her stay. For all intent and purposes it was the master bedroom to the house but it had obviously never been used. The finishes were impeccable and completely unscathed and Sookie swore she could faintly smell the paint fumes in the somewhat staid air.
“It’s nice,” she spoke as Eric set down her suitcase in the adjoining walk in closet.
Sookie had stayed uncharacteristically quiet as she took in the visual plethora that was the house tour. Eric somewhat relaxed at her spoken words for some unknown reason her appreciation of his house was important to him. He had smiled appreciatively in response.
Eric would hardly be considered a social vampire; his home was his sanctuary and had been carefully curated with an architect that was promptly glamoured upon completion. Pam had thus far been the only other being aside from a maid that had entered over the threshold once Eric had taken up residency here.
“My home is your home for as long as you are here,” he offered. “Don’t be shy about settling in.” Eric spoke as Sookie stood peering out of the expansive glass facade over the back of the property. She turned her head over her shoulder whilst mouthing a quiet thank you as she returned her gaze in the direction of the fire pit in the yard.
“Shall I build us a fire?” he spoke after he had silently moved his body closely behind hers where he let his large hand rest on the small of her back. His gesture startled her already high strung nerves as she let out a small gasp. The bodily contact was not unwelcome to Sookie albeit a rare occurrence in her life. She had already decided for herself that their pretence would remain exactly that.
The prospect of being another stop on the Eric Northmann express was anything but enticing to her. It would surely complicate their working relationship, for that same reason Sookie had never responded to her former boss Sam’s advances. Attraction alone would never be enough for her she had convinced herself, she would hold out for the luxury of something deeper and meaningful.
The casual business tone in which Eric had propositioned her for sex earlier in the evening was anything but that. She knew she was seeking a needle in a haystack when it came to her love life but she stubbornly refused any compromise. It was all or nothing for her. Eric and Sam had both offered her nothing for what she was seeking.
“A fire would be nice,” she stammered out awkwardly.
Eric sought to reassure her by rubbing his hand along her back which only unnerved her more causing her to stiffen further. He grazed his nose over the delicate scent emanating from her hair as he spoke softly into her ear, “You know if we are to pass as lovers you need to be more comfortable with my caresses.”
The way he had enunciated the word caresses had only further relegated shivers down her spine not from a lack of warmth rather an abundance of it. She was fast losing her footing. The speed at which her life had been turned upside down, the adjustment to a new environment and new people. No matter how comfortable she had found herself with it all rationally, she was in unchartered territories and she was desperately searching for her innate bravery.
Eric pulled her along downstairs by her hand and uncharacteristically she let herself be led. They stopped briefly by one of the built in hall closets from which he pulled a soft beige cashmere blanket still wrapped in a ribbon from when it was purchased. She wondered what a vampire would ever have use for a blanket for.
“Pam,” Eric answered the unasked question which apparently was easily legible from her expression.
“Pam gets cold?” she asked confused. Eric gave a small chuckle in reply.
“No, Pam’s a shopaholic. She said it goes with the house. I’m glad to have found a use for it or rather someone.”
“Oh,” came out her most inelegant reply. Eric settled her into a lounge chair by the fire pit draping her in the blanket as he set out to start the fire. Sookie happily left him to it, alone with her thoughts and the sounds of the Louisiana cicadas. At least there was something familiar in that.
He briefly disappeared and returned with a box of matches and a cup of warm cocoa. Apparently another purchase of Pam’s. She thanked him kindly like Nanny Bitty would expect her to. She assumed to adjust to the persona that would be expected of her now. With the fire blazing and cackling in the cool night air she regarded the night’s events that had brought to the place she sat in now.
“So this is what luxury feels like,” she finally spoke after an endured silence. The cashmere grazing her skin was the softest material that had ever withheld her. The cocoa was intoxicatingly heady and rich, more so than she had ever tasted before. The fire was deliciously fragrant and warming. It scared her for the comfort she found in it, knowing it was a state of being that wouldn’t last.
Eric was thrown by her statement. He was comfortable, certainly, but he did not perceive his lifestyle as overly sumptuous. A multitude of lifetimes had made him well aware of the pleasure in comfort and how time would transform luxuries into necessities. He wondered if he was doing right by Sookie Stackhouse in thrusting her into his world of vanities. He never considered the person who would stand beside him in six months. Would that person so humbly invite two stranded vampires into her home? Most likely deceiving himself he stood to think she would.
“The presence of good company is always a luxury,” he replied after some contemplation.
A/N: Thanks for reading once more. For those of you haven’t seen it yet I dropped a new story to celebrate the ‘magnificence’ that is the final season. It’s called It’s Already Gone and it’s a series of ten connected one shots with an E/S HEA to nurse the wounds the show is inflicting.