I woke up around 11 a.m. to someone knocking on my front door. I stretched, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and threw my hair up in a loose ponytail as I made my way through the living room. When I opened the door, a man was was standing there with two boxes, a large square one and a long rectangle sitting on top. After I signed for them, I took the packages inside and set them down on the kitchen table. I opened the long rectangular box first and smiled. Eric had sent me a dozen long-stemmed red roses. They smelled heavenly, and as I arranged them in my fanciest vase, I couldn't help but inhale deeply and savor the fragrance.
I opened the other box and my jaw dropped. Inside was a gorgeous red and black cocktail dress. It had a slightly vintage feel to it, with a halter and an antique brooch. Silky, with a slight flare that would stop just above my knees, I knew it would complement my curves beautifully. I draped the dress over the nearest chair and looked into the box again. Inside, I found a matching black wrap and an unmarked envelope. I lovingly caressed the silk of the wrap and placed it back in the box so I wouldn't wrinkle it. The dress followed and I took the package in my room. I sat on the bed and opened the letter.
I hope you enjoy this token of affection. Some token, had to have cost an arm and a leg. Do me the honor of wearing this tonight. I am sure you will look beautiful in it, as always. I will be at your house at seven this evening, dear one.
I glanced at the clock on my nightstand and saw that it was after noon. Okay, I had a while to get ready. I threw on a pair of jeans and a sweater to go run some errands before my primping session. Return library books, pick up some more True Blood, grab some coffee and gas. When I got home, I ran the vacuum, dusted a little, and washed the dishes. I painted my nails deep red, the exact shade of the red on my new dress, and my toenails, too. When I was sure they were dry, I hopped in the shower and loofahed and scrubbed and shaved until I was baby soft and smooth. I toweled off and rubbed my favorite lotion all over, a subtle blend of orchids and vanilla. Half of my hair went up, while I arranged the rest in loose curls around my shoulders. I applied light eye makeup and bright red lipstick. I peeked into my bedroom to see the clock reading 6:37 p.m. I couldn't have timed things better if I tried.
I slipped on the dress, careful to not smear my makeup or flatten my hair, and stepped into my black high heels. Those were a complete and total splurge item, and I was thrilled there was an occasion to wear them. As I was putting on the finishing touches, a pair of Gran's diamond earrings and matching tennis bracelet, I started to get nervous. This was it, we were going to have The Talk. A wave of calm suddenly washed over me, and I knew Eric was near.
I was standing in the living room when I heard the gravel crunch under the wheels of his Corvette. I could barely contain my anxiety and the urge to peek through the blinds to see him. I sensed, more than heard, him walking up the steps and onto the porch. When he knocked, I all but jumped to the door and flung it open. Eric smiled down at me and gave me a slow once-over.
I could see the desire in his eyes and feel the surge of lust through our bond. I smiled back and asked him to come in. I stepped aside and he walked in, taking a cursory look around the room, only for his eyes to settle on me again. As usual, Eric was dressed handsomely. No, wait, take that back. Handsome was the understatement of the year when it came to describing him. He was absolutely, unequivocally, drop-dead gorgeous, no pun intended. His 6'4" frame was clothed in an expensive black suit that had to have been custom made. A white shirt and a red and black tie that matched my dress completed the ensemble. These were just minor details compared to his face, which I could barely tear my eyes from. His long blond hair was impeccably groomed, and he had a perfect smile, which I noticed had some fang showing. His eyes, oh, his eyes. They were vibrant blue; the clear, crystal blue of the Caribbean. As I looked at him, he raised his hand and made a spinning motion with his index finger. I obliged and slowly turned in a circle.
"Sookie, you look good enough to eat." His eyes blazed with lust.
"I could say the same of you, Eric. Would you like some True Blood?" I asked him. I couldn't forget my manners, even if the sight of him dressed to the nines reduced me to a babbling idiot.
"No, thank you, lover. We need to be going, we have reservations." He placed his hand on the small of my back and walked with me through the door. I locked the door and walked with him to the car. He opened the door for me and sat down slowly, trying to keep myself covered. He shut the door for me and slid in his side. He turned the key and the 'Vette purred to life.
As he pulled onto Hummingbird Road, I turned in my seat to face him. "So where do we have reservations?"
"Exalté. It's a supe-owned restaurant outside Shreveport. Did you like your gifts?"
"The flowers are beautiful, Eric. And this dress is amazing, it's perfect. What prompted this, though? We haven't spoken in over a month, and all of sudden you're sending me presents and taking me to fancy restaurants."
"Felipe de Castro and his retinue have returned to Nevada. Victor has gone to New Orleans. You have several days reprieve from working for the shifter. There is no time like the present to talk, lover." He looked over at me and smiled.
I could feel my anger rising. "So this whole time you never had access to a phone, a piece of paper to write on, another vamp to give me a message? For God's sake Eric, I live next door a vampire! You could have kept me in the loop. Do you think I enjoyed not knowing what was going on? I knew how you were feeling, but I didn't know why. I can't even tell you how many times I had a mood swing for no reason. I didn't know if you or Pam, or Bubba, or even Bill was okay."
"Sookie," Eric started, in a consoling tone. "Dear one, I would not have estranged myself from you if it had not been in your best interest. Felipe is too interested in your abilities and our bond for my liking. I saw no need to put you in a position where he could observe you further, or annex you for his own use." Before I could start on him for deciding what is or isn't in my best interest he continued. "I know you don't appreciate when I make decisions about you without your consent, but I refuse to allow Felipe any more access to you than he already has. And to address the phone issue, I am quite sure he has had my phones tapped or bugged in some fashion, as it is what I would do, were I in his place. Until his entire entourage was in a plane, flying back to their home, I didn't feel comfortable enough to send any vampires to you, let alone Pam or myself, for fear they would have been followed."
His speech took all the wind out of my sails, and all my indignation went out the window. I didn't like him making decisions for me, but I could see that he had done what he could with the situation he had been in. And he did contact me as soon as it was safe to do so, I couldn't deny that much. I relaxed and sunk back into the leather seat. "I know, Eric. You did what you felt was best. And you're right, I would like to have as little to do with the new King as possible."
Eric took this opportunity to run his fingers lightly across my shoulder and down my arm to hold my hand. Even though his touch was cool and left a trail of goosebumps, it felt like he was drawing fire over my skin. "My lover, tonight is not the time to speak of the new ruling regime. It is time meant for us, for you and I to discuss our future together." His words scared me, but I couldn't deny the rush of pleasure I felt when he referred to 'us' and 'you and I'. I know he felt it through the bond, because he gently squeezed my hand and gave me one of his stunning smiles.
"How much longer until we're there?" I switched to a safe topic for the time being. I was ravenous. I had been so nervous about this evening I had forgotten to eat anything today.
"Just a few more minutes. I know you will enjoy it here."
We drove in comfortable silence for a little bit longer. He turned into the parking lot of a pristine white building. Underneath a long canopy, he stopped and got out of the car. Before I could reach for the handle, he was on my side of the car and had the door open. He held out his hand, and I took it, grateful for the assistance. The shoes I was wearing had higher heels than I was used to, and I probably would have landed on my face without his help. He handed the valet his keys and a tip, put his hand on the small of my back, and escorted me inside.