Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Thanks, Meridian for editing help. All remaining mistakes are my own! I borrowed a lot of CH’s dialogue for the wedding ceremony, and referenced a whole bunch of other parts of All Together Dead in a whole new way in a big, long chapter. Enjoy! 😉
jfozz totally read my mind, but don’t be sad, Eric shows up eventually. I should also mention this chapter is NSFW. I’m not taking things slowly. Hold onto your hats!
Sookie looked the man up and down.
What do you think of that guy? I can’t get in his head. It’s all scratchy, Barry said.
He’s a were. Take my hand. Sookie reached under the table and their fingers met. Her head filled with his jumbled thoughts about work, ceremonies, his sister, and then images of Sookie popped into his brain. Sometimes when she listened to people, she didn’t realize she was staring at them intently. Apparently, she was doing it right then, and the guy had noticed.
Here comes trouble, Barry said pulling away from her again and leaning back into his seat as if he were getting ready for a fight.
The were strolled across the room, grinning like a Cheshire cat. He bent over the table, completely ignoring Barry, and said, “You like what you see, babe?”
Sookie frowned. “Babe?”
He flexed the muscles in his arms. “I couldn’t help but notice you checking me out, so I thought I’d come over here and introduce myself. The name’s Quinn.” He flashed his perfect smile.
I’ve heard of him. He’s made a lot of people a lot of money. He’s a weretiger and prizefighter, Barry said.
Too distracted by Barry’s thoughts to think better of it, Sookie extended her hand. “Sookie Stackhouse.”
He shook her hand slowly, letting his gaze slide down her neck toward the gap in her blouse where her breasts showed. She didn’t have to be a mind reader to know what he was thinking. “Maybe we could get a drink after the ceremony tonight.”
She pulled her hand away from him and tugged her mouth into a tight smile. “Sorry, I’m allergic to cats.”
He frowned and clenched his jaw. “Your loss, babe,” he said, trying to sound casual. He left without another glance at their table.
Babe? Really? Does that usually work for him?
It must. Barry chuckled. I’m allergic to cats? That was a good one!
Sookie smiled. Thanks.
Remind me not to be a misogynistic asshole to you, okay?
She laughed and then her pager buzzed. Time to work.
He pulled his pager out of his pocket at almost the same time. Me too.
By the time they joined their parties in the Ballroom, everyone was talking about the wedding between Indiana and Mississippi. The two kings were still in negotiations, and probably would be for much of the night, but that didn’t stop people from speculating about their ceremony. A crowd of vamps mingled as they waited, all walking the fine line between being respectful and being respected. Sophie-Anne attracted a lot of attention, which was why she came.
Sookie circulated the room listening to everyone she could while staying close to her group. Most of the humans in the room were in awe of the powerful vamps that surrounded them. Of course, Sookie had met most of those vampires, so they didn’t have the same effect on her, but she never forgot their power. As she meandered through the crowd, she caught a snippet of a thought that included Louisiana, so she followed it. She zeroed in on the fast-eater in black.
The woman looked at Sophie-Anne as she thought. I guess she is kind of pretty, in a creepy underage girl kind of way. I wonder if the king has proposed to her yet.
Proposed? Sookie frowned. As far as she knew, getting married wasn’t in Sophie-Anne’s future.
Once he controls Louisiana, we’ll be able to clean house. Starting with those ugly twin vamps following her. She smiled. By then, I’ll be a vampire too, so I might even get a chance to help. I can’t believe he turned Becky before me. I’ve served him way longer.
The woman glared at the two vampires next to her and then they all started walking, apparently following someone. Her master was none other than the King of Arkansas, Peter Threadgill. Sookie had only met him once, years ago, and didn’t think much of him.
Sookie turned on her heel and cut across the room, intercepting Arkansas’ advances on the queen, who was deep in a discussion with the Queen of Alabama. “Excuse me, Sophie-Anne, may I have a word with you?”
Andre tensed and glanced around the room, following Sookie’s line of sight to the Arkansas entourage coming their way. He nodded and escorted the women out into the hall.
“I’m sorry to interrupt. Have you been visited by Arkansas tonight?” Sookie asked the second they were alone.
The queen frowned. “No, although I believe you just prevented that from happening.”
Sookie sighed. “Good. He’s going to propose to you so he can gain control of Louisiana. He plans to clean house.”
Sophie-Anne’s face hardened.
“He knows you’re weak right now. That we all are, after Katrina, so I’m sure he’s going to offer money … with strings attached,” Sookie said.
“A marriage would solve many of our problems,” Andre admitted with reluctance.
“If I refuse him, it could start a war. You know how Peter is,” Sophie-Anne said, her forehead wrinkling slightly.
“Not if you already have plans to marry another,” Sookie suggested. She had to think fast. “Have you ever considered Texas?”
“I’ve always been fond of Stan,” the queen said. “That’s not a bad idea, Sookie.”
“Marriage?” Hadley asked, her chin wobbling.
“Darling, it would be purely political,” Sophie-Anne said reassuringly.
Hadley sniffed and wiped the bloody tears out of her eyes before running toward the stairs.
The queen sighed. “Poor Hadley. She’s such a jealous thing. I’ll talk with her after she’s had a chance to cool off.”
“Being tied to Texas wouldn’t be so bad, would it?” Sookie asked.
Sophie-Anne turned to Andre. “What do you think?”
“I’ll set up a meeting,” he said, kissing her hands and then heading back into the Ballroom.
A half-hour later, Sophie-Anne, Andre, Stan, and Joseph had a closed-door meeting in the queen’s suite. It didn’t last long, but when they returned to the party, everyone was smiling, even Hadley. Sophie-Anne returned to her Saxon warrior children where Sookie waited, but before they could talk, Arkansas strolled up.
“Sophie-Anne,” Peter said, oozing a little too much charm, “you look more beautiful with each passing year.”
She kissed his cheeks and smiled. “Thank you, Peter.”
The fake smile on his face faltered when she didn’t reciprocate his compliment. “I wondered if we could talk. I was so sorry to hear about your hardships.”
Yeah right, Sookie thought.
Sophie-Anne nodded. “Yes, the hurricane was very devastating. The palace suffered a great deal of damage.”
Peter leaned closer. “I would like to offer my assistance, among other things.”
At that moment, a loud voice boomed over the speakers that lined the walls in the Ballroom. “Your attention, ladies and gentlemen, kings and commoners, vampires and humans!” Quinn stood on the stage in a ridiculous genie outfit, down to the garish gold belt and shiny leather boots. “You are all requested and invited to attend the union of Russell Edgington, King of Mississippi, and Bartlett Crowe, King of Indiana, in the Ritual Room. The ceremony will begin shortly. Please make your way through those double doors,” he said, motioning to the doors with a cheesy sweep of his hands.
Andre took Sophie-Anne’s arm and pulled her away from Arkansas while she said, “We should set up a meeting later!”
Peter didn’t look happy. At all. But he followed the crowd into the Ritual Room and found his group as all the vampires did, including the two vampires and the fast-eater she’d seen him with earlier.
Carla nudged Sookie’s shoulder. “Hey girl, did you get settled okay?”
Sookie realized from the information coming from her brain that Carla didn’t remember Sookie’s name. “I sure did. How about you?”
Carla grinned and winked. “Me and Gerry got settled all right.” The vampire she had latched herself onto smiled.
“You must be Gervaise. I’m pleased to meet you,” Sookie said, giving him a deep nod.
“Sookie Stackhouse, I presume?” Gervaise replied, smoothing his sleek sandy hair. “I’ve heard much about you. The queen holds you in high regard, which must be why she doesn’t share you with anyone.”
“She shares for the right price, one that works for both of us. I think she’s pretty great too,” Sookie replied. She liked her boss, and her response got a smile from Gervaise.
“Have you met Cleo Babitt? Sheriff of Area Three?” Gervaise asked, gesturing to a stocky woman with jet-black hair and a full mouth.
Cleo nodded. “A pleasure to finally meet you, Ms. Stackhouse.”
“Likewise,” Sookie said nodding respectfully.
“Where’s Eric?” Andre asked.
Cleo laughed, deep and throaty. “He got conscripted. He’s going to officiate.”
Officiate? Sookie thought.
Andre smiled. “That’ll be something to watch.”
The rest of the people from the Ballroom filtered in around them, anxiously awaiting the event. The stage had been decorated with gold for Mississippi and blue and red for Indiana. The kings ascended the stage wearing elaborately embroidered robes. They smiled at each other and waited with everyone else.
Quinn, still in his stupid Aladdin outfit, waited until the murmurs in the audience quieted and then motioned to stage right.
A figure emerged wearing a black velvet hooded cloak. It hid the person’s face as they walked across the stage and stopped between Mississippi and Indiana. The being raised their arms.
“The ceremony begins,” Quinn announced. “Let all be silent and witness this joining.”
A dead calm fell over the crowd, which made Sookie acutely aware of her breathing.
The hood fell back, and the man who had been hidden inside it looked out across the crowd. His eyes met Sookie’s for a brief moment, blue challenging blue. Sookie felt a jolt of excitement pulse through her. His long blond hair had been tied behind his neck, and the front of the cloak hung open thereby exposing a broad and perfect chest.
Who is that? She’d never seen a more beautiful man in all her life. Before the thought even had a second to swim around her brain, someone in the audience answered her.
Bobby Burnham, to be exact. Master Northman.
She groaned, catching the attention of everyone around her. “Sorry,” she whispered.
“We are here to witness the joining of two kings,” Eric said. “Russell and Bart have agreed, both verbally and by written covenant, to ally their states for a hundred years. For a hundred years, they may not marry any other. They may not form an alliance with any other, unless that alliance is mutually agreed and witnessed. Each must pay the other a conjugal visit at least once a year. The welfare of Russell’s kingdom shall come second only to his own in Bart’s sight, and the welfare of Bart’s kingdom shall come second only to his own in Russell’s sight. Russell Edgington, King of Mississippi, do you agree to this covenant?”
“Yes, I do,” Russell said, holding his hands out to Bart.
“Bartlett Crowe, King of Indiana, do you agree to this covenant?”
“I do,” Bart said, taking Russell’s hands and smiling.
Quinn knelt between them, holding a goblet under their joined hands, while Eric removed a blade from a hidden pocket in his robe. He sliced their wrists quickly to allow their blood to trickle into the cup. When the wounds healed, Russell took a deep swallow from the chalice and then handed it to Bart, who finished it off. At that point in the ceremony, the vamps in the audience gave a collective soft moan. Nothing excited them as much as a blood exchange and Sookie could feel the energy in the room change. Russell and Bart then kissed, deeply and passionately, obviously more excited than anyone else. They then began cleaning the wounds on the others’ wrists, an equally erotic task for them and the majority of the crowd.
The next step included signing copies of their marriage contracts, which turned out to be not nearly as thrilling as the first part. Sookie sighed with relief because, although there were willing donors waiting to satisfy a few hungry vamps, there weren’t enough to satisfy everyone, and she knew from experience her heritage made her more irresistible than others. The legal end of the ceremony had the same effect as dousing everyone with cold water.
Eric stood watch over the newlyweds, and when the last form was signed he held his hands up and said, “The marriage is sacred for one hundred years!”
Cheers rose up through the crowd while Russell and Bart kissed again.
“Beautiful ceremony,” Rasul said, popping up at her elbow without warning.
She gasped, making him smile. “Yes, it was.” She looked up at the stage, hoping to catch another glimpse of Eric, but he had already slipped away. Her shoulders fell.
“Time to meet the Sheriff of Area Five,” Rasul said nodding his head toward the front.
Sookie frowned and followed his line of sight. The crowd parted around Eric, who was heading straight for her.
Sophie-Anne stopped him. “Wonderful ceremony.”
“Thank you, my queen,” Eric replied, bowing respectfully.
“I believe you know everyone except my Hadley. Oh, and Ms. Stackhouse mentioned she hadn’t met you yet,” she said, gesturing to Sookie.
Sookie blushed when Eric’s eyes met hers for the second time. Suddenly, the room seemed too hot, too crowded. She nodded. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Charmed, Ms. Stackhouse,” Eric said, closing the gap between them.
“Please, call me Sookie.”
“Sookie,” Eric repeated in a sensuous voice. “My day man didn’t tell me how beautiful you are.”
Her flush deepened. “Perhaps he doesn’t think so.”
His eyes flashed over to where Bobby stood, obviously waiting for orders. “I don’t believe it’s a matter of opinion.”
She didn’t have a response for that.
“Excuse me,” he said before disappearing in the crowd.
“You have another fan, it seems,” Rasul grumbled.
Sookie smiled and willed her heart to stop pounding in her chest. She followed Rasul and the rest of the crowd back into the Ballroom where a band was playing.
Gervaise swept Carla onto the dance floor, making her squeal with delight. Rasul held his hand out to Sookie and said, “Join me?”
“Sure,” Sookie replied, smiling. Rasul held her hands tightly and led her around the room, moving to the fast-paced music. Her cheeks hurt from smiling, and Rasul was obviously having a good time. When the song ended, he pulled away from her and bowed. When he returned to his upright position, he looked over her shoulder. She turned and nearly bumped into Eric who loomed over her, still wearing the black velvet robe.
“May I have this dance?” he asked.
She glanced at Rasul as he slipped away into the crowd, a look of defeat on his face. “It looks like I just lost my dance partner, so yes.”
Eric took her hand in his, pressed his other hand against the small of her back, and pulled her firmly against his body. She held onto his massive shoulder and followed his lead.
“You are very graceful,” Eric complimented her as they glided around the room.
“Thank you.” She smiled shyly. “I can’t sing worth a damn, but I love to dance.” He twirled her away and then snapped her back into his arms. Her smile grew.
When the song ended, she curtsied and he bowed, and then he had her back in his arms. The tempo slowed as the sweet melody of a love song filled the room. His grip tightened, and instead of holding onto his shoulder, she rested her hand against his chest. Her face inches away from his exposed skin, Sookie inhaled his clean, strong scent.
“I hope my day man apologized to you,” he said.
“He did.” She blushed. “I have to admit I had a little fun at his expense.”
Eric arched one eyebrow and smiled slightly. “Do tell.”
She looked down at his sublime chest again as she confessed, “I dipped into his mind and used his words against him. I know I shouldn’t use my gift like that, but I—”
“Of course you should. If I could read minds, I would use it to my advantage. Can you read my mind?”
She stared at him and shook her head. “No.” She smiled. “One of the many reasons I enjoy working for vampires: the silence.”
His eyes held hers for a long moment as something pressed against her brain.
“That won’t work on me,” she said. “I can’t be glamoured.”
He pressed his lips together trying to smother a mischievous smile.
“You’re not the first who’s tried. Far from it.” She closed her eyes and leaned her cheek against his soft robe. Although he hadn’t been the first to try, it would’ve been the first time she wouldn’t have minded. “What were you trying to do?”
“What do you mean?” he replied, obviously playing dumb.
She looked up at him and gave him a deadpan stare. “You know what I mean.”
His smile broke through and his grip tightened, pulling her more firmly against his hard body. “I might’ve been trying to influence you to spend the rest of the night with me.”
“Oh?” she said, trying to keep her voice even. “And what would you say if I told you I don’t date?”
“Who said anything about dating?” he replied, the humor sliding off his face as unguarded lust took over.
“Then why didn’t you just ask?”
“My apologies. Let me try again.” Eric smiled, showing the tips of his fangs. “Would you like to fuck?” He emphasized the last word by pressing his very firm body against hers.
Her heart hammered in her chest and a flush worked its way across her entire body. That’s the best question anyone has ever asked me. It’s just one night. It doesn’t have to mean anything. I probably won’t even see him again once the Summit is over. “I’m working,” she said, more as a reminder to herself. It’s not like I have to be right here the whole time. She can always page me if she needs me.
“The queen doesn’t need you now, she and Andre are dancing.” He nodded to their swaying forms nearby.
Sookie struggled to breathe as she made up her mind. “No one can know,” she whispered, knowing he could hear her. “Room 1538.” She pulled out of his grasp and slipped through the crowd as if she were headed to the bathroom. At the last moment, she turned and exited the Ballroom. Alone in the hallway, she took a deep breath. Every cell in her body hummed with excitement. She darted for the stairs, wanting to avoid anyone who might see her in the lobby. Her heels clacked against the concrete steps as she hurried up the first flight. She gripped the railing and swung herself around the landing between flights, and gasped when someone came up behind her.
Eric wrapped his arms around her, encasing her waist in black velvet. She leaned back into him and sighed. His fingers spread out and moved up her ribs to cup her breasts. She arched into his hands and moaned, and then twisted her arms behind her and gripped his ass. He groaned and his hips jerked.
“Cameras,” she said, nodding to the upper corner of the stairwell.
“So I shouldn’t do this?” he asked as he unbuttoned her blouse partially and thrust his hand inside. His cool skin sent a ripple of goose bumps across her chest.
“No, and I shouldn’t do this either,” she said tugging at the belt holding his robe closed and running her hands down the fly of his slacks. She worried for a minute that her heart had stopped after feeling the giant bulge waiting for her. “My room, now.” She panted for breath and pulled away from him. “I’ll go first.” She held onto the railing and ascended the final flight of stairs, leaving him behind. Her hands shook as she opened the doorknob leading to the hallway full of rooms. She held her blouse closed and hustled to her door, sliding the key into the slot. Down the hall, she heard the stairwell door close and then Eric stood behind her. “Come in,” she said, stepping into the room and letting the door close behind them.
Before Sookie got far, Eric wrapped his arms around her again, but that time she turned to face him. He finished unbuttoning her blouse and then pushed it off her shoulders. He ran his fingers down the strap of her bra and then brushed against her nipples. She groaned.
“I like that sound,” he said. “You made it before the ceremony, too.”
“When I realized who you were,” she explained.
He clicked his tongue. “I thought you were excited just by looking at me.” He flicked his fingers against her back and her bra slid away from her skin and joined her blouse.
She laughed. “No, you’re going to have to work to make me come.”
He grinned. “Sounds like a challenge.” With that, he sank to his knees. He sucked on one nipple while he rolled the other between his thumb and finger.
Sookie leaned against the wall and closed her eyes. She dug her fingers into his hair, urging him on. He scraped her with his teeth while he sucked on and licked her sensitive flesh. He unfastened her pants and ran a finger along her slit. She bucked against his hand. He kissed his way down toward her bellybutton, and then licked along the waistband of her panties. She wiggled her hips, letting her pants fall.
Eric inhaled sharply and sat back on his heels so he could help her step out of her clothes. He planted kisses starting at her black pumps and ending at her lacy black panties. He inhaled again and his body shook. A second later, he ripped the fine black material and planted a kiss on her sex. He lifted one of her legs onto his shoulder and gripped her ass possessively.
With each heaving breath, her anticipation grew, and then, with their eyes locked, he pushed his tongue inside her. She gasped and tilted her hips, willing him to do it again. He did over and over. The room filled with the sounds of her pleasure building and then she screamed. His moan reverberated through her pussy as she quivered against his lips.
“Mm,” he hummed, and then he stood to his full height, letting his robe join the pile of clothes on the floor. He stripped quickly as Sookie tried to fill her lungs. His massive cock jutted up at her from his powerful legs. He pushed a hand between her legs and then stroked his dick, making it shiny with her cum.
“Yes,” she managed to say.
“Tell me what you want,” he said, pumping his cock faster and harder.
“I want you to fuck me and make me come again.” She had never wanted anything so much in all her life.
Eric growled and lifted her off the ground, the head of his dick pressing impatiently against her slippery lips.
“Yes,” she hissed as he pushed inside, filling and stretching her. Shocks of ecstasy shot through her.
He squeezed his eyes shut and held perfectly still.
She locked her feet around him and dug her fingernails into his back. He pulled out and then slammed into her, knocking all the air out of her lungs. She had barely gotten a chance to take a breath when he did it again. She was prepared that time, and held her breath. “Again,” she demanded.
He smiled and his hips stilled.
“Please,” she whined. His smile grew and then he fucked her so hard and so fast that she couldn’t track his movements. Her orgasm surprised her, tightening every muscle and forcing a cry out of her mouth. Eric grunted and then his cock swelled inside her. She rubbed her head against the wall and rode out the waves of pleasure until her body relaxed.
Eric cradled her against his chest and sat her down on the table near the end of the bed. Without pause, his dick hardened and he began thrusting again. That time, he moved slowly, deliberately, setting her nerves on fire.
“Yes,” she said, moaning after each thrust. She flattened her palms against the table and leaned backward. Her eyes snapped open when her pager buzzed in the pile of her discarded clothing. “Shit. That’s the queen.”
“She can wait,” Eric said, swirling his hips.
Her eyes rolled into her head. “Yeah. She can wait. I’m close.” The next time he pushed into her all the way, he rubbed her clit. “Mm,” she moaned. “Yes.”
He did it again and again, thrusting, spiraling, and rubbing, turning her into a twitching pile of flesh. She came hard, screaming again. Her throat hurt, but she didn’t care. He came with her again.
Her pager buzzed a second time. With a heavy sigh she pushed him off her, shuddering at the loss of contact. Eric leaned against the wall and watched her dress. She handed him his robe and pants. “I have to go. That was fun,” she said. “Maybe I’ll see you later?”
“I’ll be sure to find you again,” he said, still not dressing.
She put her hand on the doorknob, looked back at his sublime body, and smiled. “I’d like that.”
Poor Eric doesn’t know what hit him. Read on for Eric’s POV: It Happened In Rhodes: Chapter 4