“Would you like to go out?” he questioned out of genuine interest. Sookie had become very housebound despite Eric’s encouragement for her to venture out during the day or for her dinner, to which he would gladly accompany her.
“No I think I’ve had enough excitement for one night,” she responded as her head found the rounded neckline of her t-shirt. “What did you have in mind?”
“I thought we would retire to my bedroom,” he spoke leeringly as he peered his head round the door where he disappointingly found her fully dressed.
“Fat chance asshole. I’m a lady,” she snorted at him. In her simplicity, surrounded by elegant clothes, in full effect of her true self she was a rare sight to behold.
“Glad to see you back,” he beamed at her.
“Glad to be back.”
“I was serious about the bedroom,” Eric spoke as they made their way downstairs.
“As was I,” she responded with her sharpest tone, it was as lethal as any blade Eric had ever wielded. “Don’t even try it, I’ll go kicking and screaming.”
“Trust me,” he leered and halted both their progress down the steps. Their height differences now stood even as he spoke suggestively, “When you’re in my bedroom for such reasons there will be no objections to your screaming.”
The fire in her eyes was surfacing to a scorching glow and Eric relished at the sight of what he had been missing in his Sookie. He was however, well aware of the necessity to tamper it down before she erupted needlessly for a second time that night.
“What I am proposing,” he said with a friendlier tone, “We order you some dinner and watch a movie in my bedroom. It has the better setup.” Eric motioned towards the small TV in the seating area as his defence.
“Oh,” she returned slightly taken aback. Despite his invitation to do so, she had never ventured down into the basement level beyond a small peak down the stairs. Eric never watched the TV in the living room so she had just assumed he never did.
“Ok. But you better keep your hands and your fangs to yourself,” Sookie said pointedly. He simply nodded with the innocence of a good schoolboy, which she sceptically accepted.
They sent out for her order and Eric suggested they pick out the evening’s feature while they waited its arrival. She obediently followed him down the other set of stairs that opened into a room holding a simple yet stylish lounge and small kitchenette.
It was clearly an area constructed for use in emergencies when one would be confined to this level. Like the rest of the house it had seen little use. Sookie was well aware that Eric often sought the comfort of the library instead. They continued down a long hallway covered in bookend grey veined white marble slabs. The hallway was illuminated by a blue glow that startled Sookie as she discovered its source.
“You have a window into your pool?” she asked mesmerized at the sight while she looked out towards the upper surface of the water. The waxing moon allowed her to see more than her mortal eyes would otherwise permit.
“Yes,” he replied answering her rhetorical question. “When I was a child I enjoyed looking up at the world from underneath the water. This way I can do it without getting wet.”
“It’s beautiful.” Though it applied to the sight, she found the beauty in the concept of the thought. To be able to enjoy looking outwards to the world like that as the first and last thing to see before going to bed.
Eric refrained himself from telling her the admirer of the view was far more beautiful in his eyes than the sight before them.
“This does close up during the daytime right?” she asked eying him warily.
He murmured a non-committal reply but it was far from an affirmative answer. Eric was unsure if she asked in regards to his safety or for the sake of her own modesty. He had thoroughly indulged his voyeuristic tendencies as she, blissfully unaware, made use of the pool on the rare warm days of the late fall in his time before sunset.
The large sheet of glass into the pool had been one of the more costly items of the house due to its expansive size and the fact that it was UV repellent. He had deemed it worth every penny since Sookie’s arrival to his home.
Eric moved onto the bedroom and Sookie followed suit even though she would have quite contentedly continued to look up into the world through a thick sheet of water.
His bedroom was decorated in the same warm greys as the rest of the basement the marble slabs were replaced with the most luxurious carpet Sookie had ever placed her bare feet upon. The bed was large but not excessively so, adorned with crisp white linen and a dark grey textured comforter.
Above the bed a rectangular shape was extruded from the wall and at her continued observation of the cut out Eric had grabbed her hand and told to come along as they ventured beyond the wall into the small projection room. Sookie was completely taken aback by the old fashioned projector and the racks filled with film canisters.
“Where did you get all this from?” she marvelled as she ran her fingers over the different titles seeking out her favourites. Her penchant for old Hollywood films were represented in greater abundance than she could ever have hoped for.
“I used to own a cinema but progression leaves behind many victims, so I house them here.”
“Well aren’t you the Good Samaritan?” she mocked at his false modesty.
“Hardly,” Eric whispered with a cool breath into the shell of her ear encouraging goose bumps to travel down her spine. He covered her dainty hand with his own in her attempt to adjust a canister in order to read the title.
“My Fair Lady?” he offered.
Sookie’s hands had become stiff at his touch while she barely registered what he had spoken to her. “What?”
“My Fair Lady, is that what you wish to see?”
“Erm. No,” she said shaking her head and herself out of her stupor. “I always preferred the play to the musical and the situation seems too familiar now. Although I do like Audrey Hepburn in it.”
“You are not a sucker for happy endings then?”
“I am, but sometimes they can be more anticlimactic than a realistic ending,” Sookie explained finding her footing again in the cramped space. “Shaw’s play was truer to the original myth I respected that he insisted on an unpopular ending.”
“Galatea must not return to her original state as she was,” he deduced from her reasoning. “Eliza had to embrace her emancipation from Higgins.”
“Exactly,” she returned, unsure whether she was still speaking of Eliza or herself.
“Your food is here,” Eric announced as his acute sense of hearing picked up the distant sounds of an approaching vehicle. He sped off to take delivery of her meal before she could even blink or make a reply. When she appeared upstairs Eric had already laid out her meal upon the dining table and the enticing smells had her stomach grumbling appreciatively.
“Thank you,” she smiled at him before she dug in with gusto.
“Eric don’t you need to eat? Or drink I guess,” Sookie asked as he simply sat at the table with her watching fascinated at every movement her hands seemed to make with the cutlery before it all disappeared into her mouth. He liked to stare at her lips when they were talking but this was captivating on an entirely different level.
Sookie had seen the stock of donor blood in his fridge and freezer but had yet to see him drink any of the ample supply.
“I already ate this evening,” Eric said with a slight grimace that she couldn’t place in accordance to the action. It was in memory of the desperate fangbanger that had gotten off on the violence of the feed.
Considering Eric hardly ever left Sookie’s side when he was at home Sookie had deduced that it must have been a fresh feed and she didn’t really want to think of the circumstances and extras such feedings entailed.
“Has it become easier you know being out in the open?” she probed genuinely curious as she swallowed another bite of her own.
“Yes and no,” he returned honestly. “It is expedient that I don’t have to hide myself and my businesses. There is no longer the constant threat of exposure. I would be lying if I said I didn’t revel in the admiration of the fangbangers with our initial coming out. It’s what brought about Fangtasia. I did not realise in advance what our presence in human society would really mean.” Eric had spoken his last sentence somewhat dejectedly. It surprised Sookie for as short as she knew Eric there was little besides the subject of his maker that ever gave way to such feelings.
“I had expected a backlash like the Fellowship of the Sun, fear is a natural reaction to the unknown,” Eric explained. “It is the culture of adoration of our kind that threw me off, even though I have helped cultivate it. It was flattering at first but it quickly turned into something insipid. The fangbangers are just looking for the next bite, riding the momentary wave of euphoria, indiscriminate of who or what bites them. We have become a means to an end.”
“Like a drug,” Sookie observed. “Making you just as disposable as the fangbangers themselves. I’m sorry for that Eric.”
“Why would you be sorry?” he questioned wondering if he had bitten her in some distant past. However, he knew had her soft skin ever met the sharp end of his fangs it would be a memory that would not simply have passed like all the other anonymous bites.
“It’s not exactly a nice representation of humanity to be acquainted with,” she offered finishing up meal. “I hope you realise not everyone is like that.”
“They come seeking death we are it,” Eric surmised. “As long as one is aware it is a mutual exchange of needs, albeit a tainted one, there are no feelings lost. It does make one reminisce of the old days when a meal was still a conquest though.” A wink of the eye was expressed her way which met the retaliation of her protruding tongue.
“Always looking for a chase,” she said good humouredly while shaking her head.
“Have you decided on a movie yet?” he asked changing the subject as she stood to clear her dishes.
“Yes,” she returned pleased with her choice. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
“Ah, one of Pam’s favourites,” he noted.
“I should have figured considering her status as a clothes whore.”
“Try not to call her that in her presence,” Eric chuckled as they moved themselves downstairs again. “Fashion is her lifeline, clothes are from Walmart. She doesn’t ‘do’ Walmart. It is couture, prêt-à-porter, pieces, gowns and a whole lexicon of terms only her vaulted mind can archive.”
“The first step is acknowledging you have a problem,” Sookie quipped.
“Pam’s version of an intervention would end up a blood bath,” he snickered back as they entered the bedroom again.
“She’d probably use it as an excuse to buy more clothes,” Sookie volleyed back as she carefully installed herself on the bed covering her legs and feet with the cashmere blanket that she had become accustomed to carrying around Eric’s house. After he finished setting up the projection equipment he joined beside her, somewhat closer than she was comfortable with.
“Don’t worry I don’t bite,” Eric chortled out with mischievous eyes. She huffed unbelievingly at that. “Well not unless you ask,” he said as he continued to laugh at her.
“I must have missed the audition signs for a pin cushion,” she returned with a roll of her eyes. “Ask all you like buster, never gonna happen.”
“Only time will tell,” he winked at her.
“Luckily you have plenty of that,” she retorted much to his amusement. He used his expansive wingspan to pull her closer forcing her to rest her head upon his chest. She shifted herself away in protest.
“We already discussed this,” he spoke down to her admonishingly, “You have to get used to my touch. Try it, you might actually like it.” He finished with, in Sookie’s opinion, a far too satisfied grin.
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Sookie mumbled to herself hoping he had not heard her unintended vocalised thoughts. However, vampire hearing would never grant her that courtesy. Eric chose not to react and leave her wondering as the chords of Moon River started to play and Audrey Hepburn stepped out of her New York yellow cab.
Sookie had fallen asleep near the end of the movie despite her adjusted vampire schedule. The emotional toll of the night’s earlier events were expressed in her slow and rhythmic breathing. Despite the age of the old projector the control of it had been completely digitized. Using a tablet that controlled every electrical part of the house Eric switched off the movie’s ending credits and watched the projection screen disappear into the ceiling as silence filled the room. He adjusted the lighting so it was comfortable to his sensitive eyes but dark enough for her to sleep comfortably.
He looked at the warm body snuggled up against him. Never had anything with a beating heart entered his bedchamber after construction had completed. Pam had entered it on the requisite house tour but never since.
His child never understood his insular tendencies. She accepted the security implications necessary during vulnerable day light hours. To her that was what glamour was for; Pam was perhaps a little too reliant on its use. If it hadn’t been for Eric’s maker command to not glamour Sookie, the evening would have most likely started very differently. Eric didn’t even want to think what Pam had in mind in terms of grooming.
He liked those hairs on a female’s body. It gave him something to pet, to tantalise, a contrast of textures. Eric even missed the hair of the underarms sometimes. Mostly since it had just seemed to disappear, not because he had been particularly fond of it.
He hovered his fingers over the soft blond hairs of Sookie’s forearms making the slightest of contact with her golden skin. He wondered if these hairs would disappear next with all the others, time was a strange thing to a vampire after all. Humans made themselves believe the strangest things about hygiene and beauty throughout the ages. He found no beauty in a woman who pretended to be a child.
Beauty had nothing to do with pretence, to him it was a representation of honesty, of nature’s bounty not its embellishment.
The small but perfectly formed being beside him was an example of that. To most humans she would seem ordinary. Pretty perhaps but she would be marked as slightly ‘off’. No human would recognise the great beauty she possessed, what he recognised resided inside. It was connected to her inner light, shining brighter than he had seen in a millennium. The sun had been absent in his existence but not from his mind and Eric was sure she rivalled its intensity.
Of all the species he knew, humans were the most disconcerted with the unusual. The exotic was nothing more than the alluring side of fear. Humans preferred the comfort of the known. Supernaturals in contrast abhorred the normal, the average. When time was not a limiting factor the ordinary had little to offer. It was the find of the unusual that kept you pushing through the seemingly endless years.
He wondered if Sookie was such an interlude in his many years, helping him onto his next. Reluctantly he had signed onto Pam’s scheme. She had shown him a determination he didn’t think his child was capable of. He had to admit that part of it was that beckoning light that was Sookie.
He agreed to a bet he wanted to lose as much as he wanted to win. He wanted his cake and eat it too. Something humans told their tea cup versions in warning all the time. It didn’t apply to vampires. Yes there were rules but not many applied to an ancient vampire in a position of power. Cakes were handed to you whether you wanted them or not.
This was different, the warmth beside him was something beyond a physical feeling. He made up his mind not to wake her. For the first time in his vampire existence he would let a human sleep next to him. Well mostly human.
He remained cautious and scanned the room for anything that could work as a makeshift stake. Satisfied he found none he slowly pulled the covers from underneath her body and pulled the plush duvet over them both. He removed her cashmere blanket and placed it by the foot of the bed.
It was still many hours till dawn but he knew this is where he would remain until he woke again at sunset. He wrote a note instructing her where she could find food if she wanted to stay downstairs and a temporary password to leave the basement level.
He settled himself on his back and carefully kicked off his sweatpants and tossed them in a corner. Eric moved his body marginally so he could continue to experience the warmth that radiated from her. His nose took in her unique perfume. It was an exquisite scent; he bathed himself in it wishing he could bottle it for eternity’s sake. Things as inimitable as this were unfortunately often a blip in time, never meant to be kept. It insured that you could recognise it as such for the next time it comes around.
He monitored the depth of her sleep and when he was certain his attentions wouldn’t wake her, he darted out his tongue, over her wrist to her palm where he could sample the strongest concentration of her taste.
“That tickles,” she giggled. If he had a heartbeat at this point the organ would surely have skipped a beat. He calmed when he realised she was talking in her sleep. It shouldn’t have surprised him, he had come across this before many times. Humans were especially useful informants when they conversed in this state, often more effective than glamour.
“Sookie?” he tried.
“Mmmm,” Sookie hummed in response.
“Sookie do you like living in my house?” he asked tentatively.
“It’s very nice. Your house,” she answered. “I’m scared I’ll break something.”
“Do you like me Sookie?”
“You’re very pretty,” she gushed with half a murmur. He chuckled a little at the choice of adjective. The feminine never had caused insult or threat to his virility but in his thousand years no one had ever described him as pretty.
“You scare me,” she said in the tiny voice.
“Because I’m a vampire?” Eric asked stroking soft the hairs on her forearm again.
“No,” she replied assuredly. “You would never hurt me.”
“Why do I scare you Sookie?”
“You’re my boss,” she offered as an explanation.
“Were you scared of the shifter too?”
“No Sam’s a big ol’ pussy cat,” Sookie said. At this Eric had to desperately contain himself from barking out in laughter and risk waking her. “He likes me, but I only like rubbing his furry belly. He thinks I don’t know when he’s pretending to be Tina.”
The conversation was taking a weird turn and Eric still hadn’t gotten the answers he was looking for despite the hilarious images he was conjuring up at the expense of the shifter.
“Do you think I like you, Sookie?”
“No,” she sighed. “You just want to have sex with me. I don’t want to have sex with you.”
“Why not?” he asked as he ran his nose over the crown of her hair inhaling the scent of the remnant sun.
“You won’t love me,” the tiny voice spoke again.
“Is that what you want?” the vampire probed. “Love?”
“Everyone wants love,” she replied with determination. It was so strongly present Eric feared she might wake from its intensity.
“Even vampires?” he queried even though he had not meant to voice his inner thoughts out loud.
“Especially vampires,” Sookie sighed.
She didn’t respond to his interrogations anymore after that and truthfully he didn’t know what to ask of her anymore. Eric questioned himself to what he was doing instead. He could offer her the world but what she asked of him was the one thing he did not think he could ever come to possess. He wasn’t capable of anything beyond familial love, not even in his human days.
If he were a sensible man he’d lift her out of his bed and put a halt to his consuming infatuation. Eric was sure that was all this was, a fascination with the undiscovered. He didn’t move her regardless of his rationale.
He pulled her body closer to his instead and repeated her answers over and over again inside the confines of his mind. Picking apart at each sentence and every word till all that was left were the individual letters.
Finally he understood, under that tough exterior she was a romantic. He should have known by her choice of film. She wasn’t unlike Holly Golightly, an introvert playing an extrovert. This wasn’t merely a job for her, excelling beyond expectation, this is how Sookie lived every day of her life.
A part of the puzzle that made up her whole had fit into place and with that thought he finally succumbed to his day rest, wondering what the next night would reveal.