Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Short and sweet and HEA. Thanks, Meridian for sharing your awesomeness! It took me a little longer to post because I was adding more to this chapter. Enjoy!
Outside the safety of his room, Eric went on high alert, regarding every other person they passed with suspicion. He held her tightly, not only so he could enjoy the feel of her warmth against him, but so he could protect her from another potential attack, too.
She rested her head against his chest on the ride down to her floor and sighed when the doors slid open. For the second time that night, he could feel regret coming from her. He identified it right away, because he felt it too.
Her steps slowed the closer she got to her room. “Well, here we are.” She slipped her card key out of the plastic pouch that held her security badge and slid the key into her door. When it beeped and clicked open, she dropped the bundle in her arms just inside.
She silenced him with a fierce and passionate kiss. She pulled on his neck and sighed when he wrapped his arms around her.
He withdrew reluctantly when he sensed someone approaching, and made eye contact with Jake, who stopped where he was halfway down the hall. “Jake’s here.”
“He can wait,” she said before pressing her body against his and kissing him again.
As surprised as he was by her unguarded display of affection in front of someone, he wasn’t about to miss the chance to revel in her arms one last time. When she pulled away, her eyes were red as if she were trying not to cry.
“I don’t like goodbyes,” she explained, hiding her face.
“This isn’t goodbye. I’ll see you again,” he promised. He wanted to tell her how he felt, but instead of professing his love he squeezed her hands.
She nodded and sniffed. “Okay.”
He kissed the top of her head before she darted into her room, the door closing behind her. He motioned for Jake to take his place outside her door, and the were reluctantly joined him. “Will you see her to the airport?”
“Yes,” Jake replied. “I am in charge of her safety until she boards the plane.”
“Good.” Eric turned to leave, calling Bobby on the way. “Come to my room.”
“Yes, master,” Bobby said before hanging up.
Bobby stood dutifully outside Eric and Pam’s room, waiting like a statue.
“Bobby, my things need to be packed.”
“I’ll get right on it.” He bowed and then bustled into the room, setting to work.
Pam glanced up from her luggage. “How’s Sookie?”
“Better,” he replied.
“It smells like her blood in here.”
“She had a head wound,” Eric explained, gathering his clothes from the bathroom that had been soaked with her blood.
Pam followed him and narrowed her eyes. “And how are you?”
He sighed. He wasn’t sure how to answer that, so he settled with, “Fine.”
She cocked her head. “You seem sort of attached to her, but she’s not coming home with us. What are you going to do about it?”
“I’ll think of something.” He tucked his bloodstained shirt in his coffin next to her panties while a plan started to form.
* * * *
Eric woke that night at home with a fully formed idea. He just needed to work out the details and make it a reality. He opened his coffin and surveyed his house. Bobby had already taken care of his luggage so everything was in order. In the six years he’d lived in Shreveport, he’d never really enjoyed his house. It had simply been a place to sleep, fuck, and eat. That wasn’t enough for him anymore.
What he needed was a change of scenery.
* * * *
“Are you listening?” Eric said a few nights later at Fangtasia. “This involves you.”
“I heard!” Pam said a little too loudly. “And what if she doesn’t want you? What if you go through all this trouble for nothing?”
“Then I’ll come back.” His shoulders slumped at the prospect of Pam’s words holding any kind of truth. “Are you on board or not?”
“Yes,” she whispered. “In all the time we’ve been together, I’ve never seen you so happy. I’m willing to put my own feelings aside for you. I support you, even if your idea is insane.”
He sat behind his desk and dialed the queen.
“Hello, Eric,” she said once they were connected.
“Have you been well?” she inquired.
“Yes. I wondered if I could schedule a meeting with you,” he said.
“I have a business proposition.”
“Do tell,” she said, the lightness of her voice gone. Her shrewd business sense had served her well over the years.
Eric took a deep breath and went over the lines he’d been practicing. “During the Summit I noticed you seem to be overworked. Especially now, as you recover and build a relationship with Texas.”
“I think it might be wise to assign a Sheriff to Area One so you can focus on more pressing matters.” He took another deep breath, preparing for the rest of his speech. “And I would like you to give that position to me.”
A long silence filled the phone before Sophie-Anne spoke. “You already oversee Area Five.”
“I propose that Pam replace me here. She is loyal, hard working, and has intimate knowledge of the work required for this position.”
“Is she willing?” the queen asked.
Another pause. “I’ll consider it and be in touch.”
“Thank you,” Eric said, not sure how to interpret her reaction. His entire plan hinged on the queen’s cooperation, which he wasn’t sure he could rely on.
“One question,” she said.
“Does this have anything to do with Sookie?”
He swallowed hard and struggled with his answer. Thankfully, she went on before he got a word out.
“I don’t know what else happened during the Summit, but she’s barely left her room since we’ve been home. You two looked very … close. Is this an accurate assessment?”
“Yes,” he whispered. “She means a great deal to me.”
“I have a feeling Rasul would say the same thing, if he were still here.”
Eric frowned. “Rasul’s gone?”
“He asked to be released from his position here. He left tonight. I think Sookie had something to do with it,” she added.
“Surely you’re not blaming her.” His jaw clenched.
“No, of course not. Rasul made his own decision. I was simply stating what I’ve always suspected: he’s in love with her, and now he knows he doesn’t stand a chance, he doesn’t want to be around her.”
Doesn’t stand a chance? Is she confirming that Sookie has feeling for me, too?
“Rasul is in Texas. He and Joseph work well together, so I asked Stan if we could reassign him there.” She paused, and when she went on he could hear the smile in her voice. “Stan said he was happy to help me in any way possible.”
“I’m pleased you are so well matched in your marriage.”
“As am I.” She cleared her throat. “I’ll think about your proposal and be in touch.” Without much warning, she disconnected.
Eric cradled the phone and looked across the desk at Pam’s eager face.
“Well?” Pam asked.
“Now I wait.”
* * * *
Sookie spent the first two days after the Summit sleeping. The queen had given her a temporary leave of absence, but the longer she spent in her room, the more depressed she became. She missed Eric and that made her angry.
She sat in front of her vanity mirror and brushed her hair. Tears streamed down her cheeks and fell onto the crumpled material of Eric’s shirt. Well, technically, it was her shirt. They’d traded fair and square.
She wanted to call him and ask him when he was going to come see her, but that would make her sound desperate. But I am desperate. She sighed. “This is why I don’t date,” she said to her reflection. “Dating means being vulnerable and falling in love. Love sucks.”
Meals were delivered at regular intervals throughout the day, but she didn’t leave her room except to retrieve the serving dishes. The third night, someone knocked on her door. She pulled the covers over her head and hid, hoping they would go away, whoever it was.
An hour later, she crept to her door and stepped on a piece of paper. Her name was written beautifully on the outside. When she opened it, she read:
My Dearest Sookie,
It is with a sad heart that I now see you were never meant to be mine. You deserve happiness, and to my sorrow you have found that with Northman. He is worthy of your love, but should you ever need me, I remain at your service. However, I hope you understand why I must leave now. If you are ever in Texas…
Sookie crumpled to the floor in a heap and cried. She cried for Rasul and she cried for herself. Why did she allow herself to fall in love with Eric? It hadn’t brought any happiness to her life, and now one of her closest friends was gone because of it. She reread the lines several more times with her bleary eyes, only making more tears fall. Worthy of my love? She laughed bitterly. How can I be happy with him when he’s not here? He hasn’t even called me!
She cried herself to sleep that night, and didn’t leave her bed for the entirety of the next day.
She fluctuated between watching television and wallowing in the tub. The programs she watched only made her feel worse, and the baths only managed to remind her of Eric and make her skin pruny.
The following night she held her head under the water, making music with the bubbles escaping her mouth when someone knocked on the outer door. The water distorted the sound. She floated to the surface just in time to hear a much clearer second series of knocks, more incessant than the first set. Her shoulders slumped against the back of the tub as she pushed herself up to a seated position. Another set of rapid knocks fell on her bedroom door. She growled and got out of the water, pulling on a robe and yanking the belt around her waist.
They knocked a forth time, faster, more insistent. She gripped the handle and tore the door open, shouting, “What do you want?” Her anger melted the moment she saw him.
“Eric?” She blinked several times sure she was hallucinating.
“Hi,” he said, smiling nervously. He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. “I can come back if this isn’t a good—”
She smiled for the first time in days and silenced him with a kiss. “Hi,” she replied, resting her forehead against his. “You came to see me.”
“I said I would,” he said, pulling out of her arms. Anxious energy spilled out of him.
She nodded and invited him into her room. They sat side-by-side on the edge of her bed. “I’m glad you’re here.”
His forehead wrinkled with concern. “The queen said you haven’t left your room.”
She shrugged. “I haven’t been feeling well.”
His frown deepened. “Have you been sick?”
She picked up his hand and put it over her heart. “Here.”
That seemed to brighten him. “I’ve spent the last five nights planning.”
“A way to get back to you. For good.”
“I don’t understand,” she said, her breathing shallow.
“The queen just promoted me to Sheriff of Area One,” he said, his jaw tight.
She frowned. “But she’s Sheriff of Area One.”
“Not anymore. Not if you want me here.”
Her head swirled so fast she thought her words might not make it out of her mouth. “What are you saying?”
“Do you want me to stay? Do you want me?” he asked, his eyebrows forming a hopeful arch.
He took her in his arms and they kissed, the first of many they shared as a couple.
I hope it was the HEA you wanted. Please review, you know I love them. 🙂
The Detox sequel I’ve been working on isn’t ready yet since I’ve been spending my free time working on edits and revisions for my book, In Your Shoes, which will be published December 28, 2015. Follow me for updates! I’ll post the new FF story as soon as I can!