His phone started ringing a moment later and I chuckled again when he made a halfhearted attempt to reach for it on the nightstand – across the room – before giving up and letting his hand drop back to the floor. But since it was – in part – my fault the king was out of service when his cell signal was not, I figured the least I could do was retrieve his phone for him.
Because I wasn’t so sure my own legs would work, but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing me stumble.
Teleporting it into his lap, he glanced down at it and then smiled at me, saying, “Well aren’t you handy.”
I might be handy, but he was handsy.
His eyes darkened, with my own lust colliding with his as it barreled back at me through our now completed bond. But the only physical movement he made was reaching for his phone and he answered it, without even looking to see who was calling and barked into the receiver, “What?”
“Your dick exploded. Congratulations!”
I didn’t know if it was from our close proximity or the amount of blood I’d just consumed, but I could hear his child easily from where I sat.
“Thank you,” he smiled and reached out with his free hand, tickling the top of my leg by tracing an invisible pattern across my skin.
“No…thank YOU. The force of it made me cum a little too. I knew she was badass, but I had no idea even her pussy was magical.”
“You’re welcome,” he grinned and added, “And you have no idea, nor will you.”
“Pussy hoarder. I’m going to sign you up for one of those reality shows to come and film you and your stash of magical fairy snatch. Or maybe what you need is an intervention. I can sign you up for Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.”
His growing amusement at his child’s antics peaked when he winked at me and casually said, “Sign yourself up while you’re at it. The size of your shoe collection is ridiculous. Oh, and by the way, we’re bonded.”
And her screeched, “YOU’RE WHA…” was cutoff when he hung up on her.
His phone started ringing again almost immediately, but he only chuckled and turned it off, saying, “At least she can’t say she was the last to know.”
And while his relationship with his child amused me – if not confused me at times – his statement brought home the fact that we were bonded.
I didn’t regret it at all and I’d known full well what I was doing when I went forward, but now I had questions.
A silly one, in particular.
And perhaps feeling my uncertainty, his smile disappeared as he asked, “What’s troubling you?”
It was stupid.
It made no difference.
It was so trivial, I shouldn’t have even thought about it.
But when a strong wave of his desire for an answer hit me, I swallowed my pride and asked, “Shall I still call you Master?”
I’d called him Eric before – a few times – but only in challenge to him calling me lover. I’d been teasing him at the time.
But at the time, I hadn’t been his lover.
Much less his bonded.
His smile returned, with his hand leaving my leg to take my own hand in his, as he said, “You can call me shithead if you want, but you’re my bonded now Sookie. Every Supe we encounter will know that by your scent alone, so no one will think anything of you calling me Eric, if that is your wish.”
And then placing a soft kiss to the back of my hand, he playfully admitted, “But I would prefer that over shithead.”
So I smiled in return and playfully teased, “Then I guess it’ll depend on the day.”
I was still leaning back, resting my weight on the hand behind me on the floor, so he curled his body forward to hover over me. Burying his face against my neck, he inhaled my scent and kept it in his lungs for a long while, before slowly exhaling and asking, “Are you saying there are some days when you think I’m a shithead?”
“Nooo…” I playfully denied, going back and forth from shaking my head one moment to nodding in the next.
And if my movements hadn’t given me away, the fact I could hide nothing from him now thanks to our bond would have. So he pulled back to look into my eyes, likely feeling the ‘but’ I’d had yet to say and I gave it to him by adding, “But you’re always dead for the day, so I only think you’re a shithead on some nights.”
And because he could hide nothing from me now, I sensed his impending attack and let my common sense prevail for once.
By teleporting myself out of his reach.
But that bond was proving to be a bugger because I suspected it was the cause for why we seemed to reach his shower at nearly the same time. And I was still laughing and reaching for the handle to turn the water on, when he made me forget what I was there to do, by giving me another reason to be there altogether.
Bathing would never be the same again.
When we eventually emerged from his chambers, it was much later than his normal time. And while my legs still worked just fine and my gait remained the same, I was sure it was only due to that amount of his blood I’d consumed.
Not that I would admit to that.
And my stubborn refusal to acknowledge it at all only grew when I could feel the smugness radiating from him at every slight sting I felt in the center of my thighs, as I descended the stairs.
“Would you like for me to carry you, lover?” he smiled, when I turned to glare at him.
So I smiled in return and replied, “Thank you, but no. Shithead.”
His barking laughter was enough to bring several of his guards out of hiding, with Rasul, Herveaux, and Kitty appearing at the bottom of the stairs. I’d gone back to using magic to cloak my true scent while we’d been in the shower, but even so I could tell from their eyes – and two red and snarled thoughts – they suspected we’d completed the bond.
But before I could call out, “Here kitty, kitty…” and try to hug him to see if Ma…Eric…had meant what he’d said earlier, the oaf skidded into the foyer from another room.
With all of the grace of a dying moth being chased by a hungry sparrow.
Could he truly be MY brother?
My bewilderment over that very question caused Eric’s smug amusement to evaporate, with his concern and affection pouring into me in droves. And when my steps faltered in the same moment, he reached out and braced me with his hand on the small of my back, waiting for me to make the first move.
The oa…Stackhouse boy…beat me to it, by bowing down clumsily and saying, “Hey there Mr. King Northman.”
But the slight uptick in his amusement disappeared just as quickly when the boy followed up with, “Can I uh…speak to your uh…associate for a sec? Alone?”
Taking another step down, to bring his body alongside of mine, he left his hand on my back and looked at all four of them saying, “Susannah is not my associate. She is my bonded.”
All of it was still so new, both the title and the strength of our bond now. But I was struck even more by not only the pride he felt in making the announcement, but what else I could feel coming from him.
He felt lucky.
Lucky to have me.
Maybe he wasn’t such a shithead after all.
Awareness lit up in three of the four sets of eyes staring back at us and I nearly laughed out loud hearing the boy’s thoughts as to why the king would need his own personal bail bondsman.
And then the king did laugh out loud when I whispered the thoughts to him in Old Norse.
But he was still waiting on an answer, so Eric gave him one by saying, “The choice is hers as to whether or not she will meet with you.”
I was surprised he was still there. It was nearly three hours past sunset and much later than I’d ever known him to stay at the house. A quick telepathic sweep told me neither his grandmother nor cousin remained, but his thoughts were too scattered for me to pick out any one in particular.
But from what I could decipher, he was hungry and wished he’d known we would be so late because he would have eaten a sandwich to tide him over.
I was still confused as to what I felt about the possibility he could be my brother. But my certainty that I was the bonded of the most powerful vampire king on the continent – and the knowledge that wasn’t even what made him so great – was enough to straighten my spine and agree, “We can talk in the kitchen.”
The boy’s relief was visible on his face.
My amusement over his thoughts I might make him a sandwich while we were there was visible on mine.
We left the others and headed for the kitchen, with me smiling when I sensed his disappointment as we entered the room and I selected a piece of fruit from the bowl on the counter to keep my hands occupied. And I didn’t do much to hide my smile from him, as I asked, “What is it you wished to talk about?”
His eyes dropped to his feet and he shoved his hands into his pockets, as he shuffled in place for a moment before looking up at me and saying, “I uh…I just wanted to say that I was sorry. You know, for before?”
My hands, while still occupied by the orange peel in them, stilled as I irrationally panicked for a brief second.
If he was my brother, then the possibility existed he could be a telepath too.
But my panic was met with a strong wave of concern washing over me and nearly buckled my knees with the force of it.
And had it been under any other circumstance, I might have assumed it was Eric’s way of keeping to his word to make my legs useless.
But before I could dive into the boy’s thoughts to see if my concern was warranted, he spoke up and added, “I was just teasin’ when I said you could be called Sucky and I felt real bad when you run off like that.”
His expression changed for a moment into one of being impressed, when he said, “You’re real quick. You only had a thirty second head start before I took off after ya, but I didn’t see hide nor hair of ya.”
As he spoke, I could see the images in his mind, replaying our encounter from his viewpoint and I felt…moved…by his genuine concern.
Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
But when I had yet to say anything at all, he went back to shuffling his feet and said, “Gran, well…she raised me better than that, so…you know…I’m sorry for bein’ a shithead and all and hurtin’ your feelings like that.”
I knew from his thoughts his Gran had scolded him for his behavior, but remaining at the house to apologize to me personally had been his idea alone.
And for some reason that heartened me even more.
So I smiled at him – genuinely that time – and said, “I accept your apology.”
Even though he’d had no reason to offer me one, but I wasn’t about to explain why.
And hearing his stomach growl – just like some jealous kings I knew – I chuckled and tossed the orange aside, saying, “I’m going to make myself a sandwich. Would you care for one?”
“Hell yeah,” he grinned and patted his flat stomach, adding, “It takes a lot a gas to keep a finely tuned machine like this runnin’ smooth.”
I laughed, having heard some of that gas leaving his finely tuned machine after he’d overloaded it with sauce covered wings. So while I made the sandwiches, I filled the silence with my curiosity by asking, “You were raised by your grandmother?”
“From the time I was three,” he nodded, taking a seat on one of the stools along the island and picking up the orange I’d left behind. Inhaling it in four bites, while he waited for his sandwich, he didn’t bother waiting until he swallowed all of it before adding, “After my parents died, she took me in, even though she didn’t have to. And when my Aunt Linda passed, she took in Had too. That woman’s a saint.”
According to some fairies, my great-grandfather wasn’t.
“Why wouldn’t she take you and your cousin in?” I asked. “You are of the same blood. It would be expected.”
“Where’d you grow up?” he asked – not that I would have answered – when he quickly followed up with, “’Cause around here good jobs are hard to come by. Never mind for someone Gran’s age when she suddenly had to take care a two kids after she’d done already raised two kids of her own. With all of the cancers and radiation sickness goin’ around, people are dyin’ left and right, leavin’ their young’ens with no one to look after ‘em. Orphanages are harder to get into than them Ivy League schools, so a lot of ‘em are left on their own. Sad.”
Where I grew up, it was a given that kin looked after kin, regardless of who lived or didn’t live. But, regardless of realms, perhaps by being raised in a royal household, my viewpoint was skewed.
And perhaps my viewpoint of the old woman had been skewed as well.
I couldn’t decide yet.
I also couldn’t decide if that meant my bonded and maybe-brother weren’t the only shitheads in residence.
But – made of shit or no – my head only shook with laughter, when I passed him his plate and he leaned forward and asked, “So…just between you and me…why does the king need you around to post his bond?”