Chapter 3 – A Walk in the Park
Eric ‘Viking God’ Northman who has spent over a thousand years never caring one way or another what anyone thought of him was now filled with apprehension concerning the approval of one elderly human woman. He would laugh if this weren’t so crucial to his plans for Sookie.
While he had never met Adele Stackhouse in the other world, he’d heard about her often enough to know that she had been everything to his lover, and if she decided that Sookie should not be with him, his lover would leave him without blinking.
He’d chosen a night when his beloved was working to be able to make this visit on his own terms. He loved his southern belle dearly but having her flit all around the room nervously would only distract him. Raising his hand he knocked on the old farmhouse door and waited patiently for this ‘Gran’ to answer.
Hearing the knock on the door Adele rose from her chair in the living room. Who in the world could be visiting her this time of night? Really the only people she knew who kept such hours were her grandchildren and neither of them ever knocked.
Opening the door she looked up at her guest, then had to look up again to find the giants face. Oh my goodness. This great hulking blonde must be Eric the young … well man who had taken Sookie out the other night and gotten her so turned around. Now she could see why.
“Yes, may I help you?” She may be getting on in years but she was no fool. She knew better than to ask if he was Eric, never give a stranger an identity they can use to gain entrance into your home. She’d learned that last week at that seminar for elderly living they had at the church.
“Yes, my name is Eric Northman. I took your granddaughter Sookie on a date the night before last and I was wondering if we could speak.” Oh my, once more. That body coupled with that voice her granddaughter was one lucky woman.
“Of course Mr. Northman won’t you please come in? My granddaughter tells me you’re a vampire, my apologies but I haven’t any True blood to offer you, is it possible for you to drink tea?”
He was the first vampire she’d ever met and she intended to find out as much as possible from him before he left. She wasn’t sure just how old he was but he must have seen so much history.
“No ma’am we can neither drink nor eat human food. I am fine without anything it is no surprise that you have no True blood. How could you when you did not know I would be stopping by.”
Oh he was good. He’d given her the information she’d been fishing for and smoothed over the lack of hospitality all in under ten seconds. She nodded her head and lead the giant to her living room to sit and have whatever discussion he’d come all this way to have, and on a night when Sookie was working no less.
“Sookie’s not here but I assume you already knew that.”
“Yes Ma’am I was aware that Sookie would be at work at the time of my visit.” Honesty, that would work in his favor.
The longer she was in his presence the more certain she became that she knew why he was there. The thought of a vampire asking permission to court her granddaughter was laughable but somehow it seemed to fit. And if she was honest the thought of it pleased her beyond words, it caused a peace to fall over her knowing that this man was worthy of her granddaughter. She knew deep down that he would always look after her, simply because he knew how much she meant to Sookie and took the time to come and see her.
“Shall we cut through all the pomp and fuss then? I believe I know why you’re here Mr. Northman. You’re here because you care about Sookie and Sookie cares about me am I right?”
She knew what they always say about providing a stranger with a reason to be in your home but damn it she wasn’t getting any younger and she wanted to get to the good stuff while she was still awake enough to appreciate it.
“Yes Mrs. Stackhouse you are correct in your assessment.” The amount of relief in the vampire’s voice nearly made her pat him on the shoulder.
“Alright let’s get down to brass tacks then. Out of all the men who’ve tried to make a relationship with my granddaughter you are the only one who’s come to see me and not treated it like a chore. From what Sookie told me of your date the other night, you are kind, understanding, and you won’t push her to fast. I also believe after meeting you now that you aren’t like most of the others, you know just how smart my little girl is and you respect her. So for now you have my blessing, but know this if you ever do anything even remotely unkind to my girl, and I ain’t talking about normal couple fighting so set your mind at ease there I have had a relationship or two in my time and I know couples fight, I will take back my blessing and do everything in my power to end your relationship with her. Am I making myself clear?”
He took the implied threat far better than she’d first thought he might. He simply nodded his understanding and gave her a little smile of amusement.
“Now down to the really good stuff, just how old are you and even more importantly were you involved in the civil war?”
Pam hoped that Eric knew that her very genuine love for her master was the only reason she was standing in the mud in the middle of nowhere in some backwoods hick town with her favorite boots sinking in the mud. This Drew Marshall had better get here soon or she was going to get even angrier with him. It was bad enough this disgusting excuse for a human was planning to try and kill her makers chosen mate but that he dared to cause her to wait for his pathetic ass was just too much to bare.
Finally a rickety truck pulled up to the dilapidated home. Now all she needed to do was glamour the mouthy redhead into believing that she and the redneck had a fight and he left her in a huff. Shouldn’t be too hard to do. Putting on a burst of vamp speed she quickly and quietly glamoured the man into silent stillness, then grabbing the redhead by the throat she told her that she was very tired after her fight with her honey and would go in and straight to bed. Watching the weak willed trailer trash walk away without a backward glance she turned to her new toy and smiled.
Sookie worked the morning to early evening shift today at Merlotte’s much to her relief. She hadn’t spoken to Eric since their date and she planned to go to Fangtasia tonight to see him. She didn’t want to be to forward but she also didn’t want to just sit at home waiting for him to call either, she was more of a take charge person than that. Thinking about the night to come she had a huge smile on her face as she walked into Merlotte’s.
“Oooh Sookie, what you grinnin’ bout?” Lafeyette as usual shouted his colorful question loud enough to gain everyone’s attention.
“Not a thing Lala, it’s just that after today I have two days off to enjoy myself is all.” She tried to downplay her happiness, not wanting others in her personal business.
For the next six hours her day went pretty much as it usually did. Lots of nasty thoughts and fake smiles, but the closer it got to time to go home the happier she got, until she felt a familiar grinning once more.
“That is a hell of a lot of happiness just for two days off. Unless you gots a man waiting to light your nights up!” Lafyette’s comment was so unexpected that Eric popped into the forefront of her mind, mainly Eric’s kisses. A blush heated her cheeks until she had to fight not to fan herself.
“Oh honey child I recognize that blush. You got a man darling?”
“Maybe.” She wanted to giggle like a school girl but refrained. Lala however had no such restraint, his laughter drew Arlene’s attention who was already in a shitty mood. Apparently she and Rene had a fight last night and he up and left her.
“What’s so funny over here, I could use a bit of humor today.”
“Not funny red just a long time coming is all. Sookie here, gots herself a man.”
“Really who? Is it that power man from over in Bosier?” The power man from Bosier, had a limp, was blind in one eye, and had a wife and two kids. So it wasn’t exactly a compliment that Arlene picked him as her potential suitor.
“No his name is Eric he’s from Shreveport and we’ve only been out together once so he’s not mine.”
Hoping that would be the end of it she grabbed her tray and went back to work, but she should have known better than to think people would mind their own business. Round two came when she went to the bar to get another pitcher of Bud for some college baseball players.
“Sookie Cher, I hear you got a guy now. Anyone I know?”
Sam was a sweetheart but his worry was really annoying. She knew he had a thing for her but he should have stepped up to the plate long before now if he wanted an actual shot. A guy who needs competition to make the first move is not the kind of guy she was interested in.
“Probably not, I met him through Bill.”
“Bill? Bill Haddin from over in Hotshot?”
“No Bill Compton my neighbor.” Taking the pitcher she went back to work never giving it a second thought.
“Sook Sam says you met this mystery man through Vampire Bill. Is he a vamp to?” Lafyette was the only one she didn’t mind talking to about Eric. While the others were insulting and condescending with their questions Lala only seemed curious.
“Yeah he is.” But still safer not to give away too much information about Eric, at least not until she knew one way or the other if they were actually a they.
Finally down to the last hour of the day she only half paid attention to the people around her. She was too busy mentally putting together an outfit to wear to see Eric after sunset, and deciding exactly when to go see him. She didn’t want to go right when the bar opened that would seem to clingy and desperate, but she didn’t want to wait too long and have him not be there.
During the last ten minutes of her shift she cleaned her stations and got everything in order for her replacement. Finally when it was time to go she turned and to go get her purse from the office and clock out and ran into a… wall of co-workers. There in her way stood Arlene and Sam. Alright less of a wall and more of a shrub, but still.
“Did ya’ll need something?”
“Sookie we care about you and well, you don’t got much experience when it comes to men. Are you sure you want your first experience to be with a dead one?” Arlene’s tone was both acidic and condescending as though she was talking to one of her children.
“Well what I think is that my experiences are my business Arlene. Is there anything else I could do for you?” Crazy Sookie smile firmly in place, they would not ruin her night.
“Cher, we just want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.”
“Yeah Sookie, what would your Gran say if she knew you were off spending time with a … vampire?”
Arlene whispered the last word as though she was cussing in church.
“Actually Arlene, Gran has met him and she adores him. Now if that’s all ya’ll wanted you can rest easy knowing I’m a grown woman who knows her own mind and can do whatever she wants. Since my shift is over for the day please excuse me while I head on home.”
The entire ride home her anger tried to overtake her mood. How dare they try and lecture her, she was the best behaved out of all of them. If she decided that now she wanted to do something just for her than that was her right wasn’t it. As long as what she did didn’t harm any of them they could just stuff it and keep their opinions to themselves. Pulling up to her drive and seeing her nosy neighbor on her porch did nothing to lighten her mood.
“What do you want Bill?” She tried really hard to keep her voice pleasant, after all her mood wasn’t his fault. From the look on his face some of her exasperation must have made its self-known.
“Sookie, I would like to apologize for my previous behavior in your presence, and I would like to take this opportunity to make amends.”
The little half smile on his face made her want to slap him, but for the second time in as many hours she showed restraint and just plastered on her patented smile.
“Nothing to apologize for Bill, now if you will excuse me I have things to do.” She tried to side-step around him, but he moved to block her path. Somehow she’d known it wouldn’t be that easy, not today.
“I thank you for your absolution of my reprehensible behavior and by way of thanks I would like to help you. I noticed that you and Mr. Northman are getting close and I would feel remiss in my friendship with you if I did not warn you about him. Eric is not what you think he is, he is not a nice person. He is a vampire.”
“Yes he is, and so are you Mr. Compton and you just called yourself my friend.”
“That is true however, while I am attempting to mainstream and live my life honestly and openly among humans, Eric disdains all humans. He is what some would call a pure vampire, much like humans supremacists he is the type of vampire who believes himself above all others. Unfortunately that kind of outlook comes with age and he is older than most.”
The more he spoke the deeper he dug that hole, she was half surprised he hadn’t looked up to find himself in the middle of China yet. How dare he try and tell her to stay away from Eric which was exactly what he was doing.
She just had to get through this and soon she would see him again. She didn’t know what she felt for Eric, and she definitely didn’t know where this thing with him was going but the way that nearly everyone she knew was clamoring to tell her to abandon ship was both insulting and eye opening.
Apparently no one in her life other than her Gran and maybe her brother thought that much of her intelligence. Poor little Sookie ain’t no bottle blonde we need to help her think things through. Oh it was enough to make her wanna scream.
“Thank you for your concern Mr. Compton. Now if you will excuse me I really do have things to do.” Like get dressed to go see Eric. Walking past him she quickly got up the steps and into her home, for some reason she thought he might try to stop her. Closing the door firmly behind her she leaned against it and let out a sigh of frustration.
“Sookie, darling how was your day?” Gran’s smile made an answering grin tug at her lips. At least one person in the world would always be there for her.
“You don’t even want to know Gran.”
Eric was sitting at his desk actively fighting the urge to go see Sookie. While he truly wanted to see her he didn’t want to give her the impression that he was crowding her. Coming off as an obsessed stalker would not win him any points with his feisty southern beauty. Just as he was forcing his mind back on his work for the twelfth time Pam walked into his office, without knocking as was her usual, and stood in front of him hands on hips.
“What was the name of the southern temptress of yours again?”
“Sookie Stackhouse as you well know, what is this about?”
“Well if I’m not mistaken, which I never am, I do believe your hot and heavy honey just walked into your bar. Thoughts?”
Within moments he was out of his office and at the edge of the dance floor. Scanning the room didn’t take long with his eyesight and sure enough standing at the bar holding a gin and tonic was the love of his undead life. Unfortunately she was attracting as much vampire attention as she always had, and he hadn’t publicly claimed her yet. Speeding to her side he flashed his fangs at the vampires around her before clearing his throat to gain her attention.
“Sookie what are you doing here?” He kept his voice light so she didn’t think that he didn’t want her here, or was upset to see her. On the contrary he was beyond ecstatic that she’d taken the initiative to come see him.
“Oh, I uh, I hadn’t heard from you in a little while and decided to come see you. If that’s okay, I mean I know you’re busy and everything and if my being here is…”
“Sookie darling seeing you is the highlight to my night, and I would have come to see you sooner or called even, but I wasn’t sure when that would be alright. I didn’t want to make you think I was a smothering boyfriend who needed to see you every night. I was informed by many humans I questioned that, that sort of behavior was bad.”
“True it is, but that only really applies if you call me every hour on the hour and ask where I am, who I’m with, and what I’m doing. If you just call once or twice a night to talk then it’s fine. I think the smother threshold is four calls a night. For future reference.”
“Thank you for the correction. Would you like to get out of here and go somewhere more private to talk?”
He knew he would feel far better when he got her away from all the vampires in the club. Not that he couldn’t take any of them brave enough to step up and challenge him, but he doubted fighting over her in that way would gain him much with her.
“Sure, where did you have in mind?”
He always seemed to know the right thing to say. She envied him that, she always seemed to babble on too long, or say the wrong thing.
Riding in his corvette was a new experience for her, the wind in her hair made her feel like she was flying, when she’d told him that he’d smiled his secret little smile that seemed to say that he knew something she didn’t and told her that maybe someday soon she would truly fly. She was going to ask him about it when he stopped the car, looking away from him for the first time since seeing him at the club she looked around to see where he’d taken her to be alone and saw… the park?
Looking back at him again he met her questioning gaze with another smile before getting out of the car and speeding around to her side to open her door for her and offering her his hand.
“My darling Sookie, would you care to take a walk with me?”
“Of course kind sir.”
Trying to keep from laughing she tucked her hand into the crook of his arm and walked beside him towards the lighted path of the dark park. She’d never known just how beautiful a park could be after sunset, but looking now she saw thing she could never see during the day.
The way the moonlight struck the grass and reflected off of the petals of certain flowers. The way the fireflies danced on the air around the trees so haphazardly yet so beautifully. Or most importantly of all the way his blue eyes seemed to sparkle as they caught the lights around them.
She’d been paying so much attention to the beauty around her that she hadn’t even notice that they had come up on a small playground.
“Would you care to make use of the swings my dear?”
Looking up at him she couldn’t keep her smile to herself at the thought of swinging high in the sky again. When she was a child the swings were one of the few escapes she had at school. When she would really get going the air rushing by her would drown out the voices and leave her with nothing but the weightless feeling of flight.
Releasing her grip on his arm she ran to the swings grabbing the chain of one and whirling around to look at him. He really was her white knight, though his armor may have been slightly dented she wouldn’t have him any other way. He listened to her, every time she made a mistake he would either act as though he hadn’t noticed or gently correct her so she wouldn’t do it again. He always seemed to know what to say to make her heart melt and that, more than anything was what drew her to him.
It was like he knew her better than anyone even though they had only just met. He always seemed to know what she was trying to say whenever she would stumble over her words. Sitting down and bracing herself for the first shove and the freeing feeling of flight she knew without any doubt in her mind that she was starting to fall in love with this man.
Eric knew he needed to be able to tell her things about him so that she would start to care for him, and eventually fall in love with him. He knew his Sookie and no matter what world she was in she would always be ruled by her heart. If he had any hope at all of making her his, he would have to win her heart first.
“I have been led to believe that it is customary while courting in this day and age to play games meant to help the two people get to know one another better. I believe that twenty questions is the customary practice of such things. Would you like to play a game with me?”
He hoped she would agree, because beyond that he was at a loss of any way that would not be construed as rude to tell her about him, the real him.
“Sure, sounds like a plan who goes first?”
“Ladies first, I doubt that has changed.”
“Alright first question have you ever kicked a puppy?”
Doing a double take he pushed her slightly on the swing and thinks about her question. Of all the questions he had expected her to start with this hadn’t even been in the realm of possibility. Glancing up at her face he tried to figure out if she was serious or not.
“No I can honestly say that I have never harmed a canine of any age.” Except the occasional werewolf but he didn’t consider that part of her question since at this point in the timeline she didn’t even know their kind existed.
“Well that is very good to know and tells me a lot about you, I could never be with a man who would kick a puppy, your turn.”
The laughter in her voice told him that her first question had been merely to set the mood of the evening. Light, care free, and not to serious. He wondered what her response would have been had he said yes?
“Have you ever walked on water?”
“Ha ha. No I can honestly say I’ve never walked on water.”
Her laughter was as just as light and contagious as he remembered. He knew then and there that he would do everything in his power to hear it at least once a night maybe more.
“Damn, and here I thought you were a saint, I suppose I’ll just have to change my thinking won’t I.”
Laughter filled the air around him making him smile. Pushing her slightly harder while she laughed sending her higher, soaring through the air.
“Your turn once more my dear, what do you wish to ask me?”
“Hmmmm, let me think, what is the most memorable thing that’s happened to you since you became a vampire?”
He closed his eyes and thought over the long years of his life. There had been so many different experiences and incredible moments, to choose just one that would take a moment.
“Ah, I know. Just after I turned Pam she and I traveled to Spain….”
They talked together for hours both exceeding their twenty questions but by that point they were no longer keeping track, they were simply enjoying each other’s company.
After pushing her for an hour she decided to try her hand at pushing him saying she wanted him to have the sensation of flying to. If only she knew, but that was for another night. This one was for her to be able to get to know him, since he already knew everything there was to know about her he took pleasure in hearing her answers all over again.
Walking her towards her house she shared with her Gran he thought of all the things she’d asked him, all having to do with his past and thought about when the time finally came that she would ask him about their future.
“So, Eric was this our second date?”
“No this was just you being with me and me being with you. For something to be a date I understand that one should put a great deal of forethought and planning into it and tonight was just…”
“Exactly, and do you know why it was perfect my dear Sookie?”
Smirking he took her face between his hands and leaned down slowly, giving her time to make her decision. When she tilted her face up to his he closed the last inch separating his lips from hers. Knowing she was still inexperienced he kept their kiss light but still filled with all the passion he held for her in his raging body. Leaning back he was pleased when it took her a moment to open her eyes again.
“Because we’re perfect for each other.”
With that he turned and headed back to his car, and Fangtasia.
Damn, that man should be illegal, he was downright lethal. Raising her hand she held her fingers to her lips where she could still feel him. Smiling to herself she turned and went inside to talk to Gran.
“Sookie dear is that you?”
“Yes Gran it’s me! Where are you!?”
“The kitchen and don’t shout it very unladylike!”
Grinning she decided not to point out that she had in fact shouted her admonishment. One did not back talk their elders after all. Walking into the kitchen she found her Gran sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of hot tea, a cookie, and a copy of a Daniel Steele novel like every night.
“So dear, I assume since you’re getting home so late your visit with your vampire went well.”
“He’s not my vampire Gran, and yeah it did. He took me to the park and pushed me on the swing while we played twenty questions, and no matter what I asked he answered me and never made me feel like I was stupid for asking. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined Gran, but…”
Looking her Gran straight in the eyes she saw exactly what she’d always seen in her. Someone who would listen to her and never judge her or condemn her for what she was thinking or feeling. Eric had that same look about him, at least with her he did.
She noticed that sometimes when he thought she wasn’t looking he would get this look on his face around others like he didn’t understand why they were there, like he didn’t want them to be there. While the fact that he seemed to want to be alone with her was thrilling it was also worrisome.
“Well Gran I know I’ve only been out with him twice now but I can’t help but seem to see a pattern. The first time he took me to a rooftop garden and we gazed at the stars and just talked, this time when I went to see him at his club he got me out of there as quick as could be and took me to the park and well I just can’t help but wonder.”
“You think he might not want to be seen with you? That maybe he’s embarrassed to have his people see the two of you together?” Of course she understood, she always did. She was Gran.
“Yeah, how’d you know?”
“I know because it’s a common problem that all women face at one point or another. Not that their partner is embarrassed by them but the fear that they might be. I will tell you here and now that that man is not now nor I don’t believe will he ever be anything other than thrilled to be with you. My guess would be that his problem is the opposite. It’s not that he’d embarrassed to be seen with you but that he doesn’t want anyone else around you because he wants your undivided attention. While that too isn’t the best behavior it’s easily fixed, all you gotta do child is tell him how you feel.”
She wished she had her Grans confidence but she was just too inexperienced and even though she’d only known him a short time the thought of losing Eric or of him not wanting to be with her made her heartache so much it physically hurt.
“How can you be so sure Gran?”
“Simple darling, any man who was so easily embarrassed and let his emotions rule him so easily would have never come calling here asking for my blessing to be with you.”
That was news to her. He’d really come here to talk with her Gran. If she hadn’t been close to losing her heart to him before she would have been now.
“He came to see you Gran?”
“That he did, and I gotta tell you darling that is some man you got there. Now all you gotta do to keep him is be yourself, and never let anyone tell you that he isn’t yours. Because darling I’ve looked him in the eyes and while he might not be able to say it yet, him being a guy and all vampire or not, but he loves you deeply. All you gotta do is trust him with your heart cause you already got his.”
She knew somewhere deep down that her Gran spoke the truth. He was already hers, just like she was already his. It was crazy and stupid to fall for someone after only a date and a half but she had. Looking into his brilliant blue eyes she just knew that he would never hurt her. All she needed to do now was decide if she was gonna tell him or if she should wait for him to say it first. It would just suck if she had everything she ever wanted then lost it all because three stupid words spooked him. She knew more than most that it wasn’t the words that mattered anyway but the emotion behind them.
Giving her Gran a quick kiss on the cheek she bounced up the stairs and off to bed to dream of her Viking.