Looking as surprised as any paid TV audience would be, watching the stains magically disappearing under Billy Mays’ laundering hands for the very first time, he asked, “How do you know that?”
“How do you not know that?”
How did he not know that?
Did The Fellowship of the Sun need a red ‘As Seen on TV’ logo on the upper corner of their church and a thirty-minute long infomercial for him to pay attention to them?
And without waiting for his reply, I launched into him – finger wagging and all – and said, “The Fellowship of the Sun are nothing but monsters dressed up in their Sunday best. They’re all but running ads on TV! Come one! Come all! Come stand around and watch as the poor defenseless vampire gets burned up underneath the Lord Almighty’s magnifying glass. Sinners to be burned by the sun at sunrise! Refreshments to follow. BYOB.”
Bring your own bible.
While visions of an audience literally thumping their bibles as their applause danced through my head, he snapped defensively, “It’s not as though any of my kind are members of their congregation!”
“And neither am I!” I snapped back at him. “But it’s not like they’re trying to two-face you all, offering you a welcoming shake with one hand, while thrusting a stake into your chest with the other. My god, Eric! You can find a lot of what they’re up to using any internet search engine and – with a little knowhow – you can easily find the rest. The layers of security safeguarding their internal communications are the equivalent of using a pillow duct taped to your chest and then walking into a warzone!”
He just stared back at me – obviously pissed – be it at me or at them, but I didn’t give a damn. He could just join the goddamn club.
I was pissed that my one and only friend was a careless dumbass!
Maybe I wasn’t a deadly threat to him, but they sure as hell were.
“There aren’t even any of their churches in my area,” he huffed. “The closest one is in Dallas.”
“Ooooh…Dallas,” I drawled out sarcastically. “I can see why you haven’t kept up then. That’s like Jupiter or something, huh?”
And still glaring at him, I asked, “You’ve been around forever and a day, right? So tell me, is that how the people in Italy felt back in the early 1300’s when they heard about some nasty old plague called the Black Death was working its way through China?”
If he could have killed me with a look, the one he was aiming my way would have done it. But no one could rightfully accuse me of being smart.
After all, I’d woken up snuggling a naked vampire, wearing nothing more than a t-shirt myself, on that very day.
So I didn’t hesitate before mocking him with, “Shall I go out and pick you some pretty flowers? You can party like its 1349 by shoving them up your nose to ward off the stench of hypocrisy and The Holy Spirit.”
Considering how old he was, I had to wonder just how antiquated the rest of the vampire population were. He’d already told me how they had kings and queens ruling the states and his area sounded exactly like a fiefdom straight out of twelfth century England.
They would probably bring swords to a firefight.
And as if he could read my mind, he stared back at me and acquiesced, “You’re right. I have been remiss in my duties to safeguard my kind by disregarding the religious zealots and viewing them as a non-threat. Vampire are forced by our very nature to adapt or face extinction, but perhaps we haven’t done enough to keep up with the technological age.”
He sat back and suddenly I could see every year he’d been alive etched onto his face. The weight of a thousand years fighting for his very survival settled into his every pore.
And wanting to lift some of his burden, I reached out and took his hand, saying, “I’ll help you, Eric. I was just surprised that you didn’t see them as a viable threat. Hitler was a twenty year old starving artist in Vienna, once upon a time, and you know the devastation he managed to cause.”
Christ, if Bailey joined up with The Fellowship, it could be the lynchpin to World War III.
Would they call themselves the Humaryan race?
“Why?” he asked, staring straight through me.
But not knowing what he was asking me about, I went with what was last said by me and replied, “Uh…because Hitler was an asshole?”
“No,” he shook his head. “Why are you so willing to help bring down other humans who mean us harm? You have been attacked by five of my kind in just the last week alone.”
And then leaning forward, I would swear he had the ability to freeze me with nothing more than his gaze because I couldn’t move a muscle, as he said, “You do know that vampire justice is very different from the human justice system. There will be no trial. No appeals. No mercy.”
I guess I hadn’t really thought about it, but I’d already figured out that human law enforcement wouldn’t be up in arms about a vampire being murdered either.
It was why I’d never contacted Bud Dearborn when I first discovered there were drainers in and around Renard Parish.
But I’d already killed in defense of my own life – albeit without any conscious effort on my part – several times. However that didn’t mean I wouldn’t have staked all five of the bastards he’d just mentioned, if I’d been given the chance.
Bailey and The Fellowship should have thought things through before going up against the likes of vampires.
But suspecting it worked both ways, where Eric and I were concerned at least, I asked, “And what would you have done, if you had managed to reach Andre before I popped him, like a fat tick on a hound dog’s ass?”
“I would have ripped his head from his shoulders.”
His calm matter-of-fact tone was contradicted by the fury in his eyes and his fangs snapping down. And considering the topic of conversation, I really shouldn’t have found all of it to be so arousing.
I shouldn’t have.
And likely feeling what I was suddenly feeling, his cold stare heated up into inferno-like temperatures.
How in the hell did we go from talking about the bubonic plague, Adolf Hitler, and the impending execution of Humaryans to me suddenly wanting to rip his clothes off?
I supposed, it could be – in part – due to his stupid sexy smirk.
Seeing it turned my fountain of Wikipedia knowledge into a fountain of Stickipedia in between my thighs.
Maybe he had a Sham Wow I could borrow?
I could MacGyver it into a pair of panties to try and soak up the mess.
But short of that, I thought for a moment to ward off his less than holy spirited ideas by shoving some flowers over my girly bits.
However the look on his face told me he’d be more than happy to deflower me.
In more ways than one.
So I was surprised when he got us back on our previous topic by asking, “How long will it take for you to gather information on The Fellowship’s plans and this James Bailey?”
I quickly wrung out the dirty thoughts from my mind and focused on the other dirty work to be done, saying, “I’m not sure. A week, maybe? I’d already looked at Bailey before, so I kind of had a head start with him. But it shouldn’t take me very long to dig into the others.”
He nodded, seemingly agreeable with the time frame I’d given him – not that he had much choice in the matter – and figuring there was no time like the present, I turned back towards the laptop, ready to kick some virtual ass and take some literal names.
But Eric had other ideas.
Ones that would necessitate a Sham Wow, if I was reading him correctly.
Or at the very least, some fragrant flora to cover up my blossoming lady business.
Because in the blink of an eye, he replaced the computer in my lap with his own.
With his own lap on top of mine.
Now sprawled out underneath him on the couch, I barely had the wherewithal to register our new and much more intimate positioning, when he nuzzled his face into the side of my neck and breathed out, “Do you know what I find interesting?”
And despite his obvious attempts at bringing sexy back, I couldn’t stop the snort from escaping because he reminded me of Bugs Bunny.
– Monsters lead such interesting lives.
I bet this one sure did.
But since he still hadn’t moved and seemed content to wait right where he was for an answer, I gave him one in the form of sarcasm.
“I think you find many things interesting, especially if there’s a thirty-minute ad on late night TV to convince you they’re interesting.”
His playful growl tickled and only made me laugh and squirm underneath him, but it also alerted me to the presence of another monster on the couch with us.
A one-eyed monster, if you will.
With his face still planted against my neck, it was easy to feel the smile form on his lips, just as he teased, “Oh…do that again, lover.”
I would have held perfectly still – after all, it was the standard operating procedure in the human handbook of what to do when faced with a monster – but Eric was proving himself to be no ordinary monster.
As it turned out, he was the tickle monster.
His fingers attacked my sides and I squealed like a little girl coming face to face with Harry Styles at Hot Topic. Contorting my body into every letter of the Arabic alphabet, I tried and failed to escape his jihadist hands, before he finally had mercy on me and let me suck in some much needed air.
His eyes danced, just like the stray hairs hanging down from his head, with my panted breaths making them sway back and forth. And I could feel the tickle tears that had leaked from my eyes were currently making their way down the sides of my face.
But the lightened atmosphere suddenly thickened when I looked back at him, and I involuntarily held my breath when he wiped a stray tear away from my face and popped it into his mouth.
His blue eyes closed for a moment, as if he was savoring the flavor, but when they opened again they were much darker, like a tempest sky about to unleash a biblical-like storm.
Or maybe that was just my hoohah.
Thinking now was a good time to change the subject – not that he would know the subject was the brouhaha going on in my hoohaha – it turned out I wasn’t really thinking at all because I heard myself ask, “What was it you found interesting?”
But I really should have thought that one through, considering that was the hot topic that got me my new vampire Snuggie.
His one word answer was my only warning that Hurricane Eric was about to make landfall, with his lips crashing down onto my own. But no longer worried it would be a literal kiss of death for him, I didn’t push him away that time.
The thought didn’t even occur to me.
Separated by nothing more than jersey cotton times two and a layer of denim, my hands took a tour of his body.
His arms. His chest. His back.
One by one, they were all checked off of my Eric itinerary. But when they arrived at the star attraction – his ass – they decided to set up camp.
But I couldn’t really blame them.
Not when I wanted to plant my flag and claim it as Mount Sookie.
And speaking of mounting…
Eric was taking his own scenic tour, with his lips trailing after his hands, as they made their way down my body. Cupping my cotton jersey-covered breasts in each of his hands, his face hovered just above them, as he smiled, “I find these very interesting.”
“You and most of the male population,” I snickered.
They were just boobs.
I didn’t get the fascination.
But I certainly wouldn’t be complaining about his interest in them.
While my virtue may have still been intact, I was also a healthy young woman with needs. Ones I satisfied in the only way available to me up until then.
With my hands and a small collection of toys ordered off of the internet.
But that was nothing compared to the way it felt having Eric’s hands doing all of the heavy lifting – so to speak – and my back arched up into them, while my hands simultaneously pulled his lower half against my own.
Christ it felt good.
But as good as it felt, I still didn’t know what we were doing.
Well…I knew what we were doing, but I wasn’t sure how far I wanted it to go. I wasn’t sure what he wanted with me beyond the obvious and I didn’t know if I could be just another one of his friends with benefits.
I was undoubtedly already attached to him, in more than just the literal sense. But whereas before I could at least force my irrational jealousy away with logic – he couldn’t be with me when it would surely kill him – now that argument no longer held true.
So now what?
Oh, I’ll tell you what.
I whimpered like a wanton floozy when his hands disappeared from my chest, but when they moved further down my torso, I stilled completely when they came to a complete stop on the hem of my shirt.
Or rather – his shirt.
I knew it was just semantics, but better to ponder that than the state of our relationship.
Not a word was spoken between us, but his eyes did all the talking for him, silently asking if it was okay for him to go beyond the cotton barrier.
This was it.
The moment of truth.
I could hem and haw my way around whether or not the hem of the shirt was a line I wouldn’t allow him to cross and thereby bring sexy back to a screeching halt.
Or I could just go with the flow.
Like the one currently going down in between my thighs.
Which – in theory – he could also do, if I gave him the go ahead to go down on me.
Staring up at him now, despite the lust emanating from his every pore, I knew without a doubt he wouldn’t go any further than I wanted him to.
I also knew, without a doubt, I trusted him with my life. Something he must have felt for me in return to have allowed me to stay with him during the daytime, when he was at his most vulnerable.
In his home.
In his bed.
The former – by his own admission – no one other than his child had ever been invited to and the latter – perhaps – not even she had been offered.
And – without a doubt – I knew that was enough for me.
So, without any doubts coloring my thoughts, I smiled shyly at him in return and issued his invitation to cross the double-stitched threshold with a small nod of my head.
But we would just have to wait and see if I would be up to giving him and his one-eyed monster the whole tour of the Sookie homestead.