Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own.
Eric sat in his chair as anxiety gripped him. It only lasted a few minutes, but it was too intense to ignore. He couldn’t sit any longer and began pacing the hall close to his office. Suddenly, the worry drained out of him just as quickly as it had appeared.
He frowned and leaned against the wall.
“Pam,” he said as he returned to the bar. Their eyes met and he nodded to his office. She followed him immediately. “Something’s wrong.”
Pam’s fangs descended. “What?”
Eric walked back and forth in front of his desk. He frowned again. “I’m not sure, but a few minutes ago I had this feeling of … uneasiness.”
“Is trouble brewing?” She grinned. Pam loved a good fight.
“I need you to do a sweep. See if you can find anything out of the ordinary. If I’m the target, I would rather stay here. Let them come to me.”
“I’m on it.” Her eyes gleamed.
Eric couldn’t hold still. And just as suddenly as the first wave of nerves hit him, another one lapped at his feet. The knock on his door intensified it. With dread settled firmly in his stomach, he opened the door to Pam and Sookie. He couldn’t mask his surprise. What is she doing here? He took in the sight of her beautiful body. And wearing shorts and a tight T-shirt on top of it all.
“Look what the cat dragged in.” Pam smiled and gestured to Sookie.
Sookie frowned. “Are you the cat?”
Pam shrugged. “I guess. And that makes you my mouse.” She licked her lips, making Sookie cringe.
“Thank you, that will be all,” Eric said, dismissing Pam.
Pam pouted but closed the door behind her.
“What are you doing here?” Eric asked, trying to keep his emotions in check.
Sookie looked at the floor. “I, um, I didn’t feel safe at home. I didn’t mean to bug you. I just had to get away for a while so I could rest. I’m so tired.”
“Were you sleeping in your car?” He tilted his head, piecing together the ebb and flow of moods he’d experienced in the last thirty minutes.
She nodded but wouldn’t look up. “I have been anxious all day. Like I keep waiting for something bad to happen.”
“And you came here because…” He smiled.
“I feel safe around you,” Sookie whispered.
“What’s that?” he asked, though he heard her perfectly well.
Her eyes met his and she glared at him. “I’m sure this is all very entertaining for you. I just can’t shake the feeling that those guys are going to come back for me.”
“All you need to do is choose me over Bill.” Bill would accept it. Eventually.
Sookie rolled her eyes. “The last time I saw Bill he was brutally murdering some poor kid who volunteered on the wrong night.”
Eric cocked his eyebrow. “And?”
“I’m not ready to talk to him.” She crossed her arms over her ribs, jostling her breasts.
She appeared to be wearing a very small piece of clothing under her T-shirt. It wasn’t like any bra he’d ever seen. “What are you wearing under there?” He reached toward her when she smacked his hand.
“A bikini. Not that it’s any of your business.” A bit of the tension in her shoulders disappeared. “Do you mind telling me what happened last night?”
“You fell asleep on the plane. And then I took you back to my house.”
Her eyes leveled with his. “Eric, I specifically told you I wanted to go home.”
“You were practically comatose. What was I supposed to do? Abandon you in an empty house?”
She looked away. “I guess you’re right.” She sighed and her energy dipped. “Do you always get what you want?”
“Usually.” He grinned. “Not with you.”
She took a step closer to him. “What do you mean by that? You are constantly manipulating me to get what you want.”
“Not everything.” He reached out to touch the side of her neck. That time, she didn’t hit his hand away.
She closed her eyes and it took considerable effort for her to open them again. “I’m exhausted.”
He nodded, smoothing a piece of her hair behind her ear. “You didn’t sleep well last night. Nightmares. A lot of nightmares.”
Her eyes widened. “How do you know that?”
“I stayed with you.” He kept his voice gentle, she was almost in his arms again, a feeling he would give almost anything to experience again. “It seemed to give you some comfort, having me there.” Her arms and legs held him all night long as if he were the only thing tethering her to Earth.
She blinked slowly again. “Can I sit down for a minute?”
He moved her to the leather couch in the corner. The same one she’d been stretched out on when the maenad attacked her. A thrill went through his body. That was the only time he’d tasted her blood. Even tainted by the maenad, it had been an exquisite experience.
Sookie’s voice was sleepy but held an edge of irritation. “It is comforting to be near you.”
“Shh.” He wrapped his arm around her and pulled her against his body. She was warm and soft and it stirred something deep inside him. Desire. Longing. Happiness.
Within a minute, she leaned heavily against him and her breathing leveled out. He inhaled deeply, tasting the sunshine and Sookie’s own distinct sweetness on his tongue. He closed his eyes and sighed. Pam’s heals clacked against the floor as she made her way down the hall.
Eric held Sookie for a moment longer, and then deposited her gently on the couch. He opened the door before Pam could knock. He held his finger up to his mouth and pointed to Sookie. He pushed Pam into the hall, closing the door quietly behind him.
“Why is she here?” Pam put her hand on her hip.
“She’s exhausted and feels safe here. She needs to rest.”
Pam raised an eyebrow. “Do you need me to keep an eye on her?” A smile cracked her serious face.
“No. I will check on her periodically.”
“I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The errand?” Her forehead lifted. “The one you just sent me on because something was wrong?”
“Oh. It was Sookie. I could feel her anxiety, which explains why it went away and then came back. She fell asleep and then was startled awake by you.”
Pam gave him a deadpan stare, obviously waiting for more information.
“I took a bullet for her in Dallas. So she got it out.”
“How?” She was smiling again.
“She sucked it out. It was spectacular.” A ripple of pleasure moved through him.
“She had your blood?”
He nodded. “Only a little. I don’t understand why I can feel her so intensely.”
“You have had large quantities of her blood, poisoned or not.”
“And now she’s here. Sleeping in your office?”
He nodded. “If I feel her waking, I’ll attend to her, otherwise, this will just be like any other night.”
“Uh huh.” Pam scoffed and went back to work, followed by Eric.
Pam watched him carefully, pretending she wasn’t when he would look at her. They both knew that having Sookie in his office was not like any other night.
Sookie only woke once during Fangtasia’s business hours, and he got her back to sleep by holding her hand. He wanted to stay with her, but there was still work to do and he wanted to prove Pam wrong. By the time everyone was getting ready to leave after they closed, Eric buzzed with energy.
“You’re staying here with her, aren’t you?” Pam attempted to suppress a smirk.
Eric shrugged. “I’ve got some work to do.”
“Work? Is that what you’re calling it?”
“Business expense reports.”
“Uh huh.” The smirk broke out across her face. “Whatever you need to tell yourself.”
“I have receipts from Dallas.”
Pam laughed. “See you tonight.”
He locked the door behind her and practically flew to his office. He opened the door without making a sound and crouched in front of Sookie’s sleeping body. With only the small light on his desk illuminating the room, he could see her serene face. He longed to kiss her again. For a moment, surrounded by the chaotic aftermath of the bombing in Dallas, she surrendered. He wanted nothing more than to make that happen again, to make her want him as much as he wanted her. He’d had his share of forced affection, both giving and receiving, and nothing was further from his mind. The best passion is given freely.
Resigned to keep her company from a respectful distance, Eric sat behind his desk and got to work. It didn’t take him long to finish. With a little under four hours to kill before sunrise, he stretched out on the floor next to the couch. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the steady sound of Sookie’s beating heart.
The first thing that changed was her breathing. It sped up, followed immediately by her pulse. Another nightmare. Sookie sat up. Her unfocused eyes opened. Eric joined her on the couch and touched her back. She didn’t respond she just fell back into Eric’s lap. She curled up on her side with her back to him, gripped his thigh, and went back to sleep.
At first, he didn’t move. Terrified she’d wake up. But after a while, he gently stroked her hair, fanning it over his jeans. They sat like that for hours: Sookie quietly sleeping and Eric holding her as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
And then she moaned.
The sound went straight to his cock, bringing it to full attention. Her fingers dug into his skin as her bare legs moved. Her breathing became fast and shallow, but not from a nightmare. Even in sleep, he could feel the lust coming from her. She moaned again and arched her back. A tiny tremor vibrated Eric’s leg and Sookie sighed. He fought the urge to kiss her, surrounded by her heat and the scent of her arousal. Energy pinged through his body as the temptation began to overwhelm him.
Sookie gasped and sat up again, wiping the corner of her mouth. She stretched, making the hem of her shirt rise, showing off the curve of her hips. She was unguarded for a split second until she focused her gaze on him.
“Eric! What time is it?”
“Close to sunrise.”
“I’ve been here all night?”
He nodded. “Do you feel better?”
“Much.” She yawned and then looked at his lap. “Did I do that?”
Eric looked at the bulge in his pants. “Yes.” It was beyond discomfort at that point.
“I’m so sorry!”
To his complete surprise, she reached toward him. His heart almost started beating again, but his hopes were crushed when she touched a wet spot on his pants instead of attending to his needs.
“I can’t believe I drooled on you. That’s so gross. I’ll wash your jeans for you if you want.” Her face turned red as she wiped her mouth again. “Why was I sleeping on your lap? Were you here the whole time? Is Pam still here?”
“Pam left hours ago. I was working for most of the night, you had another nightmare, so I sat next to you to comfort you, and when you fell back asleep, you fell onto me.” He sighed. “It’s almost dawn.” Their night together was coming to a close.
“Oh, yeah, of course.” Sookie stood abruptly and fidgeted with her shirt. “Thanks for, um, letting me stay here.”
“You’re welcome. Are you going to repay me?” He was happy to help, but it never hurt to ask. A sly smile turned up the corners of his mouth. “We don’t have much time, but still…”
Sookie rolled her eyes as if she was annoyed, but her body language gave him a different impression. “You never let up, do you?”
She laughed nervously and had her hand on the doorknob. “Well, um, I appreciate the sleep. I better let you go while you can still make it home safely.”
Eric nodded but couldn’t get up without making his erection obvious.
“Thanks again,” Sookie said before she disappeared through the door.
Eric sighed and adjusted his tight pants. Being near her was torturous, and while he had never identified as someone who enjoyed torture, she was beginning to change his mind.
On to Stay: Chapter 5