Sookie paced back and forth in front of the door. She checked her watch. It was almost eight o’clock and he wasn’t here yet. She had been dressed and ready for the past hour, but went back into the bathroom to redo her hair and makeup for the millionth time to help pass the time.
As she walked back to foyer, her heart skipped a beat when she saw headlights coming slowly down her driveway. She peeked out the window and felt a little dizzy when she saw Eric get out of his red corvette. He was wearing black slacks and a silver-grey button down shirt. His hair was pulled back in a low ponytail. It looked like he had a bouquet of flowers in one hand as he walked with a few strides with his long legs up to her porch.
She forced herself to wait until he actually knocked on the door before opening it. Her breath hitched as she looked at him. A sharp wave of desire shot through her.
He flashed a dazzling smile at her and held up a bunch of daisies.
“Hello Sookie.” His silky smooth baritone made her shiver with just those two words.
She admonished herself. No need for her to melt into a quivering puddle of goo before their date! But her body’s betrayal was a bad sign. A very bad sign…
“Um, hi Eric.” She warred with herself for a moment before she spoke the words. Should she invite him in or just meet him out on the porch? She hoped she was making the right choice. “Won’t you come in?”
He turned the full force of his smile upon her. He looked so happy that she had asked him to enter her home. No man should look that good. God help her.
He nodded and stepped in as she opened the screen door.
Once inside, he devoured her with his eyes. Her long blonde hair hung down loose and curled, the ends hitting her mid chest, curving temptingly around her breasts. The white and red sundress and little red high heel sandals made her look even more demure and delectable. He felt his cock stir.
She nodded and held her breath as he slowly brought his lips to her face. She pursed her lips in anticipation but he instead placed a soft kiss on her cheek. She suppressed a small moan as he straightened up to his full height.
He smiled crookedly at her. “I recall you mentioning a fondness for these flowers. I believe you said these were acceptable to give to you?”
She nodded and gave him a shy smile. “Yes. They’re perfect. I love them! I’ll put them in water.”
She took the bouquet from him and headed to the kitchen. She got on her tiptoes and opened up a cabinet in the kitchen, reaching for an old chipped milk pitcher she often used as a makeshift vase. She felt him press up against her and retrieve it without difficulty. He brought it down and handed it to her while placing his hands on either side of her, trapping her against the countertop. She could feel his hard body pressing into hers. She closed her eyes while fighting the desire to turn in his arms and pull him to her. After several seconds, he pulled away and walked over to the dining room.
She took a deep breath and turned her head and glanced at him as she filled the pitcher up with tap water from the sink. He seemed to be looking at all the roses with a slightly smug expression on his face.
She took out some kitchen shears and cut the bottoms off the stems so the flowers could absorb more of the water and arranged them in the pitcher. She placed them next to the hyacinths on the kitchen counter.
She smiled at him. “I’ll just put them right here. I’ve kind of ran out of room with all the roses, you know?”
He turned to her and said softly, “I know you said you prefer simple flowers, but truly the rose is your flower, Sookie.” He plucked one from a nearby arrangement and held it up to his lips, stroking it back and forth across his mouth before holding it up to his nose. He had not taken his eyes off hers the entire time.
Sookie felt her walls crumbling down as she watched him. He was just so damned…sensuous. It looked as if he was using the rose to simulate what he was thinking of doing to her. But..his self-assuredness was also galling. It seemed as if he was just biding his time until the inevitable happened. The thought of all the other countless women who he had charmed or “glamoured” into his bed was like a cold bucket of water thrown in her face.
“Well, don’t get me wrong. I love roses. And the perfume from them in the house is amazing. But all of these arrangements were just over the top. I meant it when I said no extravagant gifts anymore. It’s just not proper…and speaking of which, please don’t think I’m not appreciative and all, but I just couldn’t wear the outfit you sent this morning. It was too expensive.”
Eric looked at her with a puzzled expression on his face. “What outfit?”
Sookie frowned at him. “The Michael Kors dress and Prada purse and shoes.” She paused and blushed. “The lingerie set.”
He shook his head. “I did not send any such gifts to you.”
“But your assistant, Mr. Burnham, delivered them with a personal message from you. He said you wanted me to wear it with the jewelry you had given me.”
Eric had a suspicion that a certain errant progeny of his was the culprit. After his last conversation with her, she had likely taken it upon herself to send instructions to Bobby under his email account. Her “dating expert” role had taken on a life of it’s own. He groaned internally. Any excuse to shop. Any excuse and his child was off and running. He decided to keep mum about Pam’s role in her the gifts. But Pam would hear from him later…
“Ah yes, I apologize. I had forgotten I had placed the order days ago. May I see them?”
Sookie had the boxes still stacked in the living room, along with the jewelry he had had delivered. He followed her and opened the box that held the dress. He pulled it out and held it up. The thought of Sookie in the tight white dress instantly made his fangs itch to descend. He kept his expression neutral as he placed it back in the box. He ignored the shoes and purse and went straight for the lingerie box. He caressed a cup of the satin bra and then held up the lace thong. He stared at her as he fingered the lace. Pam did well. Although she should have not taken it upon herself to send the packages, she had excellent taste.
Sookie blushed as she grabbed the underwear and hastily put it back in the box. “I, um, obviously didn’t put this on, so hopefully they will refund your money.”
A sly smile played at the edge of his mouth. “I would very much like to see you in this outfit, Sookie. Perhaps on our next date?’
A lightning bolt of desire shot down her spine to her lady parts again. Damn it! She straightened her back. “Well, we haven’t even gotten through this date. And no, sorry. I can’t accept the gifts. I thought about it and I just wouldn’t feel right about it.”
“It’s because of what the shifter said to you, isn’t it? You feel as if I am trying to “buy you”?” His temper was starting to rise as he thought about Sam. His fingers actually ached from the effort to suppress violence.
She shook her head. “No, Eric, it really isn’t that. It’s just the way I was raised. I’m a simple country girl. My Gran raised me to work for everything that I have…I can’t just let a man I barely know come in and sweep me off my feet with a fortune’s worth of stuff. I mean…a Mercedes and diamond watch!” She shook her head. “I just can’t.”
Eric took her hand and guided her to the couch. “I am trying to understand. I see you have a strong worth ethic and I respect that. That is something that I too share. When I was a human, my people had to fight for our very existence, as our world was harsh. Even as vampire, I had to work hard to amass my wealth.” He smiled gently at her as he stroked her cheek. “But I have been very…comfortable for quite some time. I have several lifetimes worth of riches secured. Honestly, the gifts I have given you are mere drops in the bucket in terms of the amounts that were spent.”
“Well, the cost of the gifts may not mean much to you. But I just wasn’t raised that way…you’d be surprised how much I make in a year. It’s probably what you spent on the outfit…”
He kept silent for a moment. He actually did know her annual income. Along with her clothing and shoe sizes, date of birth, social security number, and a host of other personal data. Along with his own sleuthing efforts, his private investigator had done an excellent job with providing detailed information about her. He had not mentioned the checking account he had opened for her at his bank. He thought it best to wait to broach that subject given her reticence to accept a few gifts…
“Sookie. In the interest of moving on from this topic, how about we agree to disagree about this issue? I propose that you keep everything I have given you, but I will try to curb my spending impulses when it comes to non-essential gifts?” He attempted an innocent expression on his face but wasn’t completely successful.
She raised an eyebrow. What the hell did he mean by “non-essential”?
“So no more jewelry and cars. And designer clothes?”
“Well, the car is yours and hopefully it will suffice for your needs right now.”
Sookie opened her mouth to argue but stopped when he held a finger to her mouth.
“Your car is old and unreliable. I worry about your safety and want you to have the Mercedes. I chose it specifically for you. As far as jewelry is concerned, you told me a simple piece would be acceptable after a period of courtship, correct?”
She nodded her head but didn’t speak since his finger remained over her lips.
“Well, think of the jewelry as being token gifts marking the start of our courtship. And as far as clothing goes…well, clothing is an essential item, isn’t it? I don’t think it unreasonable to purchase you occasional outfits.”
She moved his finger from her mouth. “I have my own clothes.”
“Yes, I understand. But it would please me to see you dressed in something of my own choosing occasionally.”
“I’m not some doll to dress up, Eric.”
“No. You are not.” In his head, he thought, ‘No, you are my woman, my mate!’ but didn’t vocalize his thoughts for fear of scaring (and angering) her. Soon. Soon enough she would realize the truth…
She sighed. “I see we will just keep going round and round on this. Can you at least try to curb the lavish gifts? Really, it makes me uncomfortable.”
He nodded and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead. “Yes. I will try.”
She looked at him and smiled. “Thank you. For trying at least.’
He stood and pulled her to a standing position. “Come, we have reservations for dinner.”
She nodded. “Just let me get my cardigan and purse.” She went to the dining room and retrieved her small red handbag. She draped the cropped white cardigan over her arm and met him at the door.
As she locked the door while he stood on the porch, she whispered,”You know… I invited you in tonight.”
He smiled and answered softly, “Yes. The significance of that gesture was not lost upon me.”
Sookie turned to him. In the dark, with the glow of the porch light illuminating him from behind he looked to her like an earthbound seraph. A fallen angel, perhaps…
“Well, don’t make me regret extending you the invitation.”
His beast rose dark and hungry. He had no intention of making her “regret” the invite…but he also planned on taking a liberal interpretation of it. Perhaps after she was asleep tonight. Not that he would mention it to her now…
He smiled. “Of course.” He offered his arm. “Shall we?”
She looked up at him and narrowed her eyes. He was thinking something…something that would likely come back to bite her on the ass later. She shivered with the unintentional visual that thought produced.
He escorted her to the car, opening the passenger side door for her. She noticed him admiring her legs when the dress hem had hitched up and she quickly smoothed it down. He smiled and leaned over and buckled her seatbelt. Before she could react, he had closed her door. In the blink of an eye Sookie saw him slide into the driver’s side seat, which she noticed was pushed as far back as possible to accommodate his long legs.
As he expertly backed out of the driveway, she noticed him wincing.
“What’s wrong?” She was suddenly was embarrassed when she realized his discomfort was due to the poor condition of her driveway. “Oh…yeah, sorry. I know the drive is in bad shape. I’ve been meaning to get around to getting it done but…” She smiled apologetically.
He didn’t comment right away but made note of it in his head. He would have a paving company come out on Monday to redo her driveway. He thought asphalt to be a better choice, as he was not fond of gravel drives. He would also have her roof and siding repaired while he was at it, since he had noticed the state of disrepair the old home had fallen prey to over the years. She had not fought him on the “non essential versus essential” gift stipulation and he planned to take full advantage of it.
“No problem. I just want to make sure I don’t damage the suspension system. Vettes sit lower to the ground…”
As soon as he hit the main road in front of her house, he floored the gas. She gasped as he sped along, seemingly heedless to the dangers of the pitch black of the back country road.
He smiled at her, noticing her discomfort. “Not to worry. You are perfectly safe with me.”
She gulped. “I’m sure you’re an expert driver with your heightened reflexes and all, but there are a lot of deer out here. One could jump in your way and we would hit it. Or you would have to swerve and may hit a tree or something,” she muttered. It had happened to Jason before.
“Well, if that were the case, I could have you and myself out of the car in less than a second before we even impacted. Remember…I can fly.”
Sookie had not forgotten but now that he mentioned it…”How can you do that? I mean, are all vampires able to fly?”
He shook his head. “No. Only a few vampires manifest the ability.”
“Wow. It must be amazing…”
“I would be more than happy than to take you flying with me, if you’d like. There is not much else that compares to it.” In his head he thought of one act that would be rank higher…He had to adjust himself as his erection pushed against his thigh.
She smiled shyly. “I’d really like that.” She looked at his profile as she answered him and saw how her answer pleased him. It was evident by his brilliant smile. God! That smile…he was always breathtakingly beautiful, but when he smiled…”
He caught her staring at him. “What are you thinking?”
She blushed knowing that he caught her ogling him. “Nothing.” She changed the subject quickly. “Where are we going?”
“I am taking you to a restaurant in Shreveport on Cross Lake that is reported to be good. And afterwards, if you’d like, we can go sailing. I have a boat docked there.”
“Oh. Wow. That’d be great. I didn’t know you could sail at night. I mean…don’t they restrict the hours you can do that?”
“Yes, they do generally. All boats that are not houseboats are supposed to be off the lake by 1:00am but I am friendly with the Shreveport Chief of Police and therefore the Cross Lake Superintendent. They are agreeable to my extended sailing hours.”
Sookie nodded but kept silent. She wondered how Eric had become “friendly” with them and whether glamour had anything to do with their laxness in enforcing the curfew.
They drove in companionable silence for some time. He leaned over and turned on the radio.
“Why don’t you find a station that you like, Sookie?”
“Are you sure? I don’t want to force you to listen to something you may not like.”
“I like all genres of music. As long as the artist is talented or has a unique sound, I often find value if not enjoyment in the song.”
She smiled nervously. “Well, okay.” She played with the tuner until she found a classic rock station. She liked it and thought there was a chance he would as well.
All too soon (given Eric’s heavy foot), they arrived in Shreveport and pulled up to the restaurant. He handed his keys to the valet and got out to help Sookie out of the passenger side of the car.
They were immediately greeted by the manager of the establishment upon entering the restaurant.
“Mr. Northman? Ma’am. Welcome to Jayne Marie. Everything is prepared to your specifications. If you are ready, I’ll show you upstairs.”
Eric nodded and took hold of Sookie’s hand. She looked up at him with a hesitant smile.
He smiled back at her and said, “I hope you like this place. If not, we can leave and go somewhere else.”
Sookie shook her head. “No. No I’ve heard it’s wonderful. I’ve just never been here before.”
The manager escorted them to a stairwell to the side of the restaurant. Eric took hold of Sookie’s hand and steadied her as they went upstairs.
Sookie looked around and saw that the entire floor was empty, with the exception of a single table that was sitting in front of a huge floor to ceiling glass window. Sookie let out a small gasp as she looked out on a beautiful panoramic view of the lake.
“Oh my gosh, Eric. This is…gorgeous. But where are the other diners? Is this a special event room or something?”
The manager smiled and answered her. “Yes ma’am. It can be reserved for special occasions or parties.”
She looked at Eric with a raised eyebrow but kept silent.
Eric guided her to the table, pulling out her chair and pushing it in when she sat down. He sat across from her and nodded to the manager, who handed them both menus. Another man approached. The manager nodded to him and said, “This is Jonathan, your server for the night. Enjoy.” He bowed and turned and headed down the stairs.
The waiter took their drink orders (red wine for both) and Sookie picked up the menu. Sookie ordered a steak dinner. When the waiter left to put in her order, Sookie spoke hesitantly.
They talked about the lake and his sailboat, which he purchased in the past year. Sookie was enraptured as he talked about his history of sailing, which harkened back to his days as a Viking. All to soon, the waiter returned with her entrée.
She looked at the food and back at him with a shrug. “I feel bad eating in front of you. I mean, I feel like it’s rude.”
“You are not being rude. You are eating. It’s a natural act for all creatures.”
She smiled apologetically and said, “I am starving. I haven’t really eaten all day.” She began eating her steak, which was cooked to perfection. She hummed appreciatively.
He didn’t tell her, but he was enjoying watching her place food in in her mouth…watching the way her plump lips wrapped around the fork, listening to her small moans of pleasure. He was actually hard from imagining her mouth doing other things…
She looked at him intently. For a moment he wondered if she had caught his thoughts, but she surprised him. “You must be hungry too. I mean, just as me eating this steak is “natural” for me, drinking…” Her voice trailed off as she blushed.
“Blood. Yes. Drinking blood is “natural” for me.” He stared at her, gauging her reaction.
“Well…aren’t you hungry as well? I mean, how do you…um, do you plan to…” She shook herself. “I’m sorry. You must think I’m being terribly rude.”
“No. I don’t think you are being rude. Merely curious. Yes, I am a bit hungry, but vampires my age do not have to consume blood as often as the younger ones do.”
“But if you don’t mind me asking, how do you choose your, um, meals?”
“Well, we discussed this a bit before in your bedroom, the night you were sleepwalking in the cemetery. If you recall, I told you that vampires have to rely on stealth and secrecy to obtain a meal. It’s not as if we can just go into a grocery store and buy blood off the shelves. Well, at least not yet.”
“There are scientists working on creating synthetic blood. In fact, I donated a very large sum of money to a Japanese research group who are making strides on such a project even as we speak. Perhaps some day the synthetic blood could be used for my kind to sustain ourselves, allow us to come out of the shadows. Well, that is my thought anyway.”
Sookie cleared her throat. “Well, until then, how are you going to satisfy your…”
He gazed at her with an intense expression on his face. “I will eventually have to feed again.”
She cast her eyes down for a moment. As she looked up at him, she whispered, “Like you fed on me while I was sleeping.”
“Have you fed from anyone else since then?”
She blushed, her cheeks turning crimson. “I know I don’t have the right to feel this way, but…I don’t want you feeding from anyone else.” She took a large gulp of her wine.
He didn’t reply immediately. He struggled to keep a neutral expression on his face. Eric the man was rejoicing that she cared and appeared to be jealous but his beast was gloating triumphantly, just waiting for the chance to sink his fangs into her again. It also strengthened his claim on her that she was his mate. His.
Sookie nervously drained her glass of wine. The waiter jumped in to ask if she wanted a refill (she did) and took her dessert order (Italian crème cake).
As soon as the waiter left the room, Eric reached over and took Sookie’s hand in his. “I must feed again. It is something we all must do to survive.”
“Do you only feed on women?”
“Yes. It was not always that way, in the early days I also fed upon men. We could not be as selective given the circumstances of that time, but yes, it has been only women for the past few centuries.”
Sookie felt crestfallen. “Oh…so does that mean that you also…” She shook her head. “I’m sorry. It’s really none of my business what you do or with whom you do it with.”
“I disagree. It is very much your business. I want no other woman but you.”
Her face flushed with a sudden influx of blood. She didn’t know how to respond. A heavy silence fell over them as the waiter brought her dessert and a fresh glass of wine. Eric asked for the check, which was provided and paid for discreetly. He watched her with a hungry and speculative look on his face as she ate her dessert.
“Yes. I’d love to. I just need to stop off in the restroom on the way out.”
He held on to her arm as they descended the stairs, where the manager of the restaurant met them. While Eric politely responded to his inquiries about their meal, Sookie ducked into the ladies room.
She used the facility and then stared at herself in the mirror as she washed her hands. She couldn’t believe her boldness of broaching the subject of his…eating habits. But the attraction she felt for him was so intense. It seemed as if it was growing stronger, a juggernaut of feelings that was leading her…where? Into the bedroom? She shivered. The pull towards him was stronger than she anticipated. She would have to really watch herself, since her brain seemed to go on autopilot when she was near him. She had a feeling that getting on his boat would be…challenging for her.
She reapplied her lipstick and readjusted a few strands of hair while steeling herself. She opened the door and walked down the hall to where Eric waited for her, smiling that breathtaking smile of his. He outstretched his hand to her.
She took a deep breath and smiled back at him, placing her small hand in his. Together they walked outside where the valet had already pulled the corvette up to the entrance.
AN: Okay, I was originally going to have a little bit of angst thrown into this chapter, but changed my mind after last night’s True Blood joke of a season finale. I just couldn’t do that to poor Eric. So, the next chapter will have the second part of their date on the boat, but I wanted to see what you guys think…I’m thinking it’s still too early on for a full blown lemon, but as a writer I am getting impatient (as I would bet some of you are as readers) with the lack of E/S action. I want to recapture the eerie quality and intensity from the sexual tension of the early chapters. So…I’m wondering, slice of lemon next time or not? Too soon or too OOC for Sookie? Let me know what you think. And thanks as always to everyone who left reviews or sent me PMs for the last chapter! I appreciate your feedback.