Close to Dead

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Chapter 23: A Monster named Sookie

Eric and I walked down the long hallway of the hotel, heading toward the elevator, when we both turned around at the same time. We both turned around at the same time because a door opened behind us and a man snorted, “Isn’t this quaint, the lovers reunited after all.”

We turned around, and Eric’s hand, which was holding mine, slipped away, but only so he might position me behind his body. “Sookie and Eric. What a pleasure to see you both together again.”

“Larkin Talkington,” Eric said stiffly. “What an utterly displeasure to see you alive.”

He laughed. “Really? Now Eric, my dear cousin here will be under the impression that you don’t like me very much, if you keep up that hostility. Perhaps we should let bygones be bygones.”

Eric smiled, a menacing smile, if I do say so myself, and squared his shoulders, “Perhaps we should finally fight it out, man to man, or should I say, vampire to whatever the hell you happen to be.”

Quinn walked down the very same hallway at that same moment and he could see that there was tension … hell, a blind man would be able to see the tension between all of us. “Northman, I think you’re facing enough trouble. Don’t cause any trouble here at this hotel. I’m watching you. Remember that. There’s nothing that goes on here at this hotel that I’m not aware of, so I suggest you take Sookie downstairs to the reception, now.”

Eric turned his cool demeanor toward Quinn, “And I suggest you tuck your tail between your furry little legs and run away, Tiger. You have no say over me or mine.”

The fact that I was the ‘mine’ part of that sentence irked Quinn more than the comment about the tail and the furry little legs, I could tell, but he clenched his jaw and gritted, “Don’t forget, I’m in charge of security for the king, so no fighting of any kind, or your ass goes back in the cell, vampire.” He gave me a pointed look, and then turned to Larkin and insisted harshly, “And you’re to stay in your room, fairy. The king doesn’t want you to interfere tonight.”

Larkin smiled, that smile that literally lit up his whole face, making him look so handsome that it hurt, and which scared me to no end, and then he actually bowed toward me, said silkily, “I’ll see you soon, my sweet, dear cousin.” He backed into his room and closed the door. At the mention of the word ‘my’ I openly flinched, though I didn’t mean to do so. Eric, however, remained stoic and calm, at least on the outside. I could feel his hate on the inside, and it was massive, black and consuming.

I looked up at Eric, and he looked down at me at the same time. We both turned around and he pushed the button of the elevator, and his jaw flinched slightly. Quinn took that moment to walk away.

“Quinn is over security now?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, abruptly.

The doors opened and we walked into the elevator, and since we were all alone, I asked, “Do you think Quinn is faithful to the king?”

“I would not know, nor do I care,” Eric said evenly. He leaned against the back of the elevator, and pulled me to his side. He took my hand, brought it up to his mouth, and kissed the top.

“The only reason I ask is because he seemed to want to help us. He flew here with us, by us I mean Bill, Pam, Iain and me, and he seemed to want to help me avoid Larkin.”

“I’m sure he did want to help you,” he said, stressing the last word of the sentence, “but I for one will never trust the tiger. I would suggest that you not trust him, either, lover.” He tried to smile at me, but I could see it was forced and contrived. “How dare he try to threaten me? I could care less that he’s watching. Let him watch. It might be interesting.”

I didn’t know what he meant by that comment, so I let it pass. “Did you know that when Quinn called me the other night, right before we made arrangements to come here, he told me that you had already had your trial, the night before, and that you were sentenced to enclosure in a silver-lined coffin, for twenty-five years. He also told me that he had placed you there, himself, that very morning. That was the morning that I stopped feeling you. Is that the truth? You just told me in my room that you hadn’t been sentenced yet, but why would Quinn lie about something like that?”

Eric tensed up. He stood upright, let go of my hand, and suddenly found the changing number light, denoting the different floors on the elevator, extremely fascinating.


“How long does it take for an elevator to get from the sixth floor to the first?” he asked. He touched the number one button again, quite unnecessarily.

I leaned forward and pressed the ‘Stop’ button. Just like on TV, the whole thing came to a sudden halt, and it bounced up and down. He looked at me and said, “Well, now you have my attention, beloved.”


“What?” he asked. He suddenly seemed bored.

“Don’t lie to me, please, not again. I can’t stand the lies, even if you think you’re doing it for my own good, or to protect me, I can’t stand it any longer! Please! Were you in a silver-lined coffin BEFORE you were placed in the cell tonight, and before you were told to feed, dress, and all? I have to know.”

“Why do you have to know?” he asked back. “Why does it matter?”

“Are you joking? Why does it matter? Eric, is that why I stopped feeling you? Were you already sentenced to that fate, worse than death?” I grabbed his arm and pulled on it. “I’m not some weak, southern belle, who might wilt at the slightest sign of unpleasantness. I’ve proven that repeatedly. I’m strong.”

“Right, you’re so strong that you were coming here to rescue me, and if you had arrived, and found that I had indeed been sentenced already,” he started, “and was already beginning said sentence, what as a strong, southern woman would you have been able to do? Sookie, I want to keep unpleasant things from you. I want to be the one that protects you, not the other way around. Why can’t you understand that?”

He reached over and started the elevator. I felt his anger again, and I knew it was toward me. He said, “What is twenty-five years to a long life such as mine? I would have endured more, to protect you, but the fact is I would not have had to, because I had a plan. You should have known that I had a plan. I shouldn’t have to spell everything out to you. You are so imperceptive, sometimes.”

“And you’re so damn arrogant, sometimes,” I answered. “Twenty five years is a lifetime to me, and I would have suffered unnecessarily, thinking that you were buried in that coffin, in pain, away from me! I hate it when you lie to me. I hate it when you keep things from me. You know that, yet you continue to do it, and I’m not putting up with it a second longer. You had better stop it, or I swear you’ll lose me! Screw you and your plans.”

I turned slightly away from him, but continued to rant and rave. “When I had that attack, I take it that you were being pulled from your coffin, right? That wasn’t just me feeling your anger that I was here. It was me feeling your incredible pain, because the silver-lined coffin no longer blocked it, right. That’s what you would have endured for twenty-five years, to protect me—terrible, indescribable pain. I think you’re the imperceptible one. You can’t even see how much your pain would have caused me pain, you stupid, big dummy.”

“Dummy?” he repeated, tasting the word with a raise of one eyebrow. “I’m not sure I’ve ever been called a ‘dummy’ before.”

“I don’t know why not, you are one.” I know it was an immature thing to say, but compared to a thousand year old vampire, I was young and immature. I had to look away from him, because I thought I might cry, because he had hurt me more than he knew, with his lies and by withholding things from me. It was like he was another Bill.

I looked back at him right as the doors opened. I thought I saw a wince of pain at that moment, because maybe he could feel MY PAIN, but his face turned back to an even mask as he reached for my hand, and hauled me from the elevator. We walked across the lobby, toward a hallway that led to a banquet hall.

Right before he opened the set of double doors he looked down at me and said, “I’m sorry my pain caused you such pain, Sookie. I’m sorry I lied to you. I didn’t know the tiger had told you that I had already been sentenced. I know you hate it when people keep things from you, and lie to you. I don’t always mean purposely to lie to you. It just happens.”

“Lying just happens?” I asked, sarcastically.

“Yes, sort of like death and taxes, it’s unavoidable,” he said, with a smirk.

“Stop lying to me,” I said tightly, pointing my finger in his chest.

“I love it when you’re bossy and tell me what to do. You are like a little dominatrix,” he said and then he winked.

“Eric, don’t make light of this,” I warned. “I stopped seeing Bill because of his lies. Remember that.” That was the only warning I would ever give him on the matter.

He sighed. I always find the fact that he sometimes sighed and such strange, since vampires don’t even need to breathe, so when they do something so utterly human, so humdrum, as sighing, I know it’s just a holdover of their humanity, and it gives me a sort of comfort. Yes it does.

He took me by the shoulders and pulled me over to the side of the double doors. “Sookie, never compare me to Bill. I will stop hiding things from you, when I can. Some things aren’t any of your concern, and I know you hate that fact, but that fact will always remain the same, and I can’t and won’t change it. Before we go in,” he continued, “I have to tell you there have been a few more lies, so don’t fault me for lies that happened before your command for me to stop lying, alright?”

Now I sighed. It was a vicious cycle with him. The doors opened for us, and the King of Ohio smiled at first Eric, and then at me. He said amicably, “We’ve been waiting for you two to come. It’s very interesting in there. Come on in and see,” and then we were ushered in.

The next few hours were a complete blur. It was a stupid cocktail party, for goodness sakes. Everyone was dressed to the nines, (except for Eric and me) and there was blood being served in wine flutes, a stupid band playing, and I guess since this was Las Vegas, de Castro’s people had set up a Roulette wheel, a poker table, a slot machine, and everything else you could think of that had lights, bells and whistles. Eric was treated like the man of the hour, instead of a prisoner of war, which was what I thought of him as.

Once I asked him what would happen if he and I just slipped out, caught a plane, and went back to Louisiana. He looked down at me and rejoined, “What do you think would happen, Sookie?”

I knew what would happen, but it didn’t hurt to ask.

By about three in the morning I was dead on my feet, just like everyone else in the room, I thought with amusement, and I was actually leaning on Eric, not for support, but because if I didn’t lean on him, I might fall over. He realized how tired I was and he showed me to a chair in the corner, and said that he had to talk to a few more people, and then we could go back up to our room.

I was half-afraid that de Castro or Victor would come over and talk to me if I was left alone, but they didn’t, which was just as odd. They kept their distance. Bill and Pam hung behind Eric and me most of the evening, and I watched as Eric went to talk to members of the NVA, and again, Bill and Pam flanked his sides. It was an odd thing to watch, and I couldn’t make heads or tails of the whole thing. I could live as long as Eric and I would still never understand vampire politics.

I noticed that I was the only non-vampire in the whole room. I didn’t think that was too odd, but I still wondered why. I slumped in my chair, and was about to rest my head on my arms, on the table in front of me, when the King of New York walked up to me. I straightened right up.

“Hello, Miss Stackhouse,” he said in that New York accent which I loved for some reason. He sounded like Tony Soprano, but he was ten times cuter.

“Mr. New York,” I said. “I’m sorry; I don’t recall your name, Your Highness.” I really didn’t remember his name. He laughed.

“Well, don’t call me ‘Your Highness’. If any of my friends heard that, they would make fun of me. My name is Anthony Salvo. What a boring name for a vampire, right?” he asked.

“No, I think it’s a fine name, Sir,” I said. It also fit him to a tee. I yawned, and said, “Excuse me, I didn’t yawn because of your company. I’m tired. We had a long flight, and I’ve had a long couple of days before that.”

“I realize that.” He looked out at the crowd and he said, “The League is granting Eric a new trial tomorrow, although it’s all for show. Ohio, his wife the Queen of Pennsylvania and I have also offered de Castro compensation for any wrongs he feels we may have made for trespassing on his supposed property, when we visited Eric without letting him know first, although that was the whole point of our visit, that he would find out and become enraged. That was the plan from the start. He’s still unaware that he, himself, may face a trial, although I think he’s worried, that’s why he’s putting on this show tonight. However, for Eric’s sake, and your own, I believe everything will work out.”

“Good,” I said as a short response. “I hope so. I was willing to offer myself to de Castro for Eric, you know.”

He gave me a smirk that would rival Eric’s any day and said, “Yes, I know, but that will never have to happen. Instead, the NVA make him an offer of some sort, and he won’t refuse.”

I suddenly had a picture of Marlon Brando from the ‘Godfather’ saying, ‘We’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse’. I wondered if de Castro would find a horse’s head in his coffin tomorrow morning. “Oh, good,” I said, apprehensively. I leaned forward and said, “So, I shouldn’t be worried?”

He smiled at me, and I thought he looked nice and all, but I wouldn’t want to be in an alley alone with him, you know, because he also looked a bit menacing. He said, “I’m sure Eric wouldn’t want his human mate to worry.”

I had never been called a human mate before, and for some reason, I laughed at that. I excused myself again and flushed, “Sorry, the whole human mate thing made me laugh, Sir. Sometimes when I’m tired, I get a bit punch-drunk.”

“I don’t know that term,” he said, although he seemed amused. He didn’t ask me to explain. Instead he stood up and said, “Well, we’ll see you tomorrow, Miss Stackhouse. Don’t worry about anything.”

“Call me Sookie, and thank you, Your Highness,” I tried to stifle another giggle, because he had told me not to call him that, but still I didn’t know why I was laughing. He gave me a slight bow and before I knew what happened, Eric had replaced him in the seat next to me.

“Flirting with another man, Sookie?” he asked, though he had a smile on his face. He didn’t seem worried.

“Not at all. He was just explaining to me that I didn’t need to worry, and he called me your ‘human mate’, which I found hilarious, and did you know that his last name ended with an ‘o’, but he did seem sort of nice, in a Mafiosi sort of way,” I said. I realized I was rambling. I did that when I was tired, too.

Eric glared at me, and then took my hand. He laced his fingers with mine. “A perfect stranger tells you not to worry, so you don’t worry. I tell you not to worry, and you call me a dummy.”

“A big dummy,” I reminded him. “And I called you that because of the lies. I’m tired, and I want you to make love to me. Can we go now?”

“That’s the best invitation I’ve ever heard. I love it when you’re tired and horny,” he said with a laugh.

“I don’t like that word,” I frowned, as we stood up and crossed the room.

He nodded slightly to Pam and Bill and then as we walked out of the banquet hall he teased, “You don’t like the word ‘tired’? Well, I’ll never use it again. I’m sorry.”

I just shook my head and he laughed again. He always loved to irritate me, and he especially loved to do it when I was tired for some reason, so since he was the ‘man of the hour’ and he had recently endured some bad things, I would let him go at it, at least for a while.

We got back on the elevator, and I leaned against him. He placed his arm around me. There was a mirror on the back wall of the elevator. He leaned away, pushed a button, and the elevator started. He kept us turned toward the back, toward the mirrors.

“How tired are you, Sookie?” he asked.

I tired to turn toward him, but he kept me facing toward the mirror, and we stared at each other’s reflections. I looked up and saw the numbers go by. One, Two, Three, Four. We even passed our floor.

“Eric, what button did you press?” I asked.

“The top floor,” he said, as he kissed my neck.

“Why?” I asked, breathlessly, and no longer a bit tired.

“So I would have more time to do this,” he murmured. He continued to kiss my neck.

“Eric, turn me around and kiss my mouth, please,” I begged.

He looked at my reflection again and said, “I might not want to. Convince me to kiss you, Sookie.” I turned in his arms, leaned over, and pressed the damn ‘Stop’ button again.

“Maybe I don’t want to kiss you,” I said.

“Now who’s the liar?” he asked. He pulled me up to his chest, but then he turned me around again, so that my back was against his front. I watched in the mirror as his right hand went to my stomach, and into the waistband of my skirt. His left hand went to my neck, and grasped it lightly. The feel of his arousal on my backside made me want to melt like a puddle at his feet.

He forced one of his legs between mine, and he inched my skirt up with his hand on the front part of my thigh. The feel of his rough pants on the smooth skin of the back of my thighs made me highly aroused, as did the sight of our reflections in the mirror, and the fact that we were in a public elevator. I felt reckless and wonderful.

“I love you,” he crooned. He didn’t usually say that without prompting, or without other words around it. His lips went to my shoulder, and he pulled back my shirt collar and his teeth gently grazed the skin on my neck, before he bit down. His hand went from the outside of my skirt, to the inside of my panties in two seconds flat. He pressed me against his erection, as his fingers did wonderful things that made me moan.

Eric continued to suck on my neck, his right hand still in my panties, and his left hand kneading my breasts over my blouse and bra. I know I began to whimper. I wanted him completely. I wanted to go to our room, and do this the right way, but I also didn’t want him to stop. I placed my hands on the smooth glass of the mirror, to brace myself. He was lifting me up slightly, as if I weighed nothing, I had nothing to anchor me, and I felt light and weightless, anyway. I begged, “Please, Eric, let’s go to our room!”

He finally stopped sucking on my neck, his tongue dragging slowly across the wound. He whispered, “First, I want you to come for me, right now, in this elevator.”

I arched against him. I couldn’t help it. I was so close, and it had been so long since I had been with him, in any sense. He was supporting almost all of my weight by this time, and he was doing everything right in my book, and my head turned, and his lips captured mine, in a hard, deep, demanding kiss, and it was a good thing that he kissed me right then, because that was the moment that I came, and if his mouth hadn’t been on mine, I would have screamed aloud.

When my legs stopped feeling like jelly, and the spasms stopped, he turned me to face him. He pulled down my panties, leaving on my skirt, undid his zipper, picked me up, and I wrapped my legs around his waist. He pumped into me so hard that he had me pressed against the mirrored wall of the elevator. This time, I did cry out, and I felt no shame, because it was a natural thing to do. His hands held me upright, right under my butt, and I was in pure ecstasy. He made a few noises himself, some grunts and groans. When his climax hit, it seemed to hit me at the same time, and after the longest climax I ever experienced, he almost collapsed against the wall of the elevator, with my legs still wrapped tightly around him.

I don’t know what it is about having sex standing up with Eric, but man oh man, it’s always amazing, of course, all sex with Eric is amazing, if I do say so myself. His head slumped down to the crook of my neck, and I finally placed my weak legs back to the ground. He pulled my skirt down, for which I was grateful, because my arms were stuck around his neck.

Then that’s when I saw it, in the corner of the elevator. A small security camera. I hadn’t seen it the first time we were in the elevator, but I saw it now. I patted Eric’s arm, and then pointed over his shoulder and said, “Oh my God, Eric. There’s a camera in here!”

Eric zipped his pants, reached down for my undies, stuck them in his pocket, turned around, and looked up at the camera. Then he smiled, hit the ‘Start’ button, hit the button for the sixth floor, and took my hand. He pulled me over; his arm slung around my neck, kissed the top of my head, and said, “I know. I saw it when we were in here earlier.” He looked down at me and said, “So what? Now the tiger will know for sure that you are mine, without a doubt, and before you become angry, I didn’t lie about the camera. I can’t help it if you are imperceptive, my lover.” He looked like the cat that swallowed the canary.

I looked up at the camera again and I didn’t have one single thing to say for once. I really didn’t. He was right, he didn’t lie about the camera, and I was imperceptive, but from now on, Eric Northman was going to have to be on his toes, because Sookie Stackhouse was going to be so damn perceptive that he wasn’t going to get away with anything. The elevator doors opened, he looked down at me again, and this time, I smiled up at him. What he didn’t know was that he had just created a monster … a monster named Sookie.

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