The Big Bang- Ballroom Blitz: Part 2
Eric, allow me to introduce Alcide Herveaux, The King of Nevada.
Fighting with everything in him Eric stopped his fangs from extending as he bowed slightly to the Monarch before him and ground out a greeting. “Majesty.” The King looked Eric up and down, his eyes showing his surprise when he confirmed what his senses had already told him. Vampire. For a moment their gazes locked and Eric felt himself being assessed warrior to warrior. It was curious, most Fae considered Vampire beneath them. The King of Nevada however, clearly was looking to see if he was equal in other ways, man to man, rather than Fae to Vampire. In the split second the interaction lasted, Eric allowed him to see a bit of his true self. The man that Sookie had insisted a short time ago lived at the heart of him. The King’s eyes widened a little and then he nodded, a small sign of recognition and respect. Then he flicked his eyes to Oklahoma, raising a brow in question.
Understanding that question was again man to man, Eric met it with a steely gaze and a low growl. Just enough to make his point, not enough to disrupt the détente of the event happening around them. The King held his gaze a moment longer, not backing down, rather showing the same stone face instead.
They were clear in that moment. Both of them cared about her safety. Both of them would place her needs and wants above their differences, should the time come. In that split second, a bond had been formed between them over the Queen of Oklahoma and Eric felt his jealousy both recede and increase. Not only is he pretty, he is also a good man, he thought to himself. Pulling back from that, starting to doubt his place in all this. Sookie squeezed his arm again, lightly, reassuringly. He glanced at her.
“Eric, could you excuse us for a moment?” She felt anxious in the tie, but not worried.
“Of course, Majesty. I will be over here if you need anything.” Sookie watched him retreat from the dance floor and then turned back to Alcide, stepping gracefully into his arms.
“Well, I guess you finally did it, huh? That’s him then?” he asked softly looking toward the Viking who was now watching them intently from about ten feet away.
“Yes,” was all she said.
“And you still think this is the only way?” he pressed.
“You know that-“
“I know,” she cut him off.
We were very good together you and I, he spoke to her with his thoughts.
“Yes, we were.” She smiled at him then remembering all that had passed between them. It had been a century since they had been this close to each other, but even now she remembered that he had loved her intensely during their time together. He had made her happy, but something was missing for her. He as a good a valiant man, and he cared for her unconditionally, but he lacked the kind of wild passion she needed in a partner. For a moment she stopped listening to him and pulled back looking at him. She could not see him making love with her in a thunderstorm with wild abandon. He was too controlled, too regal to indulge in such flights of fancy. Fancy that she found she needed to stay connected to feeling alive.
We could have it all, Sookie. We could have a family and I would stand beside you in the battle to come. We could pool our resources and be that much stronger together! His gaze was filled with passion and for just a moment she wondered if she had misjudged him about that ride through the storm. Internally she sighed, this was the only way. Not only did this fulfill every desire she had had as a child and a woman she needed Alcide to be where he was.
“I need a second front. If I fall, I need to know you will go on. It’s too important to throw everything into a single plan.” She looked at him. “I trust you to do this, as I would no one else. I know in my heart that you will.”
You are my heart.
She leaned up and kissed his cheek softly as the music ended and then took a step back toward her Viking.
Call upon on me if you have need.
“Right back atcha,” she smiled again, and then let go of his hand leaving him there.
Eric had listened to the exchange on pins and needles. Despite her keeping it one sided as she had done with him earlier he was able to determine that she had once been the lover of the King of Nevada, and that he still wished it were so. He knew that she considered him an ally, and that she trusted him. She trusted him a lot. She also cared for him. That last but stung in new places that he didn’t know he had.
She spoke of battle and falling, so clearly Herveaux knew more than he did about just what the hell was going on.
He also knew that while she felt a great deal of affection for this man, it was not romantic love. At least not on her side.
And finally, that Herveaux was not surprised to see him here, and in fact had been expecting to find him there at her side. The list of questions was growing.
She reached his side then and pulled him down to kiss him passionately, somehow managing to make it gentle and dirty, perfect for public consumption while its effect on him conjured more intimate memories and promises of things to come.
“He is not you,” she whispered when she pulled back looking up at him, a hair’s breadth from his lips. That told him everything and nothing like most other things she said. He glanced up then and saw that the fairy king had retreated from the dance floor. His vampire instincts demanded that he find and drain him. His inner warrior demanded that he strip and fight him to do the death proving that he was a better match for Sookie. The man in him wanted to sweep her away from here now, before more suitors showed up to put their hands on what she had just told him was his. She looked at him with warmth and understanding radiating from her eyes.
“I belonged to you even when I was with him.” Those words dropped like stones on the floor of his heart. They were heavier than they should be if she were talking just about the dance they had shared. They were too weighty to mean just that. He opened his mouth to speak but she shook her head. “Later, I promise. We have many nights ahead of us and this is not the place.” He nodded of course she was right. He needed to be focused on safety first, and rest could wait. If he lost her due to his own inner turmoil distracting him at a critical moment her answers would hardly matter anymore.
“Come on, I want you to meet my executive team at Brigant.” She led him into the crowd and started the introductions.
Her office staff was mainly human and he found that surprising for some reason. The exceptions were mostly Fae, but he met a Shifter, Luna Garza, her head of PR, and a Were that she introduced as Major Colonel Flood of the USAF, a special consultant to Brigant Enterprises.
“Colonel Flood is working with me on some special projects,” she smiled at him warmly and shook his hand as if they were old friends.
“Yes, and I would like to put your mind at ease. They are going well, quite well,” he added winking at her and smiling back with the same warmth she projected at him.
“That is good to hear, Colonel. Can you come to the house tomorrow evening and provide additional details?”
“Yes. Eight sound good?”
“Perfect.” She was turning around when out of nowhere appeared a fairy who reached out and grabbed her. Eric was in motion instantly, already tensed to spring when he saw him approaching a moment before. He pulled the fairy back, none too gently and placed himself between them.
“Sookie, what the hell?” the male fairy sputtered as he brushed his expensive tuxedo as though Eric had soiled it with his touch. Stepping around him, Sookie addressed this latest visitor with an icy tone.
“Claude, just what do you think you were doing, manhandling me like that?”
“Manh-” he stopped and laughed rolling his eyes for extra drama. “If you think me attempting to embrace you is manhandling I would call into question just what kind of man you have handling you these days.” Eric heard the Were Colonel beside him growl, and knew that he had taken stance to defend Sookie as well. The King of Mississippi looked Eric over from head to toe, somehow managing to be lascivious and condescending all at once. “Someone his size should be able to manhandle with the best of them.” Sookie rolled her eyes then.
“What do you want, Claude?” Turning back to her, he smiled his best smile, which was quite impressive, he too was a very attractive fairy.
Doesn’t she know any ugly men? Eric wondered petulantly.
“Darling, Sookie. I thought Preston made it clear tonight what I wanted.”
“Yes, and I thought that I made it clear that my answer was no.”
Not put off in the slightest he took a step forward. “Oh, but you started that denial with a ‘yes’. You want me, you know you do. You are just playing hard to get. How adorable.”
Eric had reached his limit. “Take another step, and you will see who is playing and who is not.” Continuing to look at Sookie, but not moving any closer he spoke to her.
“You should teach your dog better manners than to jump up on the royalty when they come to visit. I could train him for you, if you like. Break him…in.”
“You will watch your tone, in Oklahoma, Claude. This is my Protector, and,” she continued drawing herself up to stand straight, pride clear in her voice, “my Royal Consort, Eric Northman. Eric, this is Claude Crane, King of Mississippi.”
“YOUR WHAT?” Claude had obviously forgotten the public venue they were in. “SERIOUSLY?” She nodded, reaching out to take Eric’s hand. “You choose this creature over me? OVER ME?” She didn’t answer, feeling that her taking Eric’s hand had already adequately conveyed her stance on the matter. Claude was such a fucking drama queen.
Gathering himself, he adjusted his cuffs, and stepped back. “I see. You are just as crazy as everyone said you were. I was willing to take you anyway and overlook your inadequacies.” Eric growled now, showing his displeasure at his disrespectful remarks to Sookie. “See, no better than a dog. I could have gotten you one of those to keep you company in my palace. One with better manners.”
“One more word, Claude and I am going to have security toss you out on your ass.” Her tone was cold and deadly serious. Claude opened his mouth one more time and saw her catch the eye of the nearest security man. He could have killed him in a moment, but The Council frowned on the use of powers in front of the public. Bad for the Fae image, and they had been known to punish with iron shackles and high fines. He closed his mouth, nodded curtly and walked away quickly. He felt Sookie relax beside him but she kept his hand in hers.
“You know the most interesting people, lover,” he leaned down and whispered in her ear, squeezing her hand gently.
” Just one of the many, many reasons I need you, lover,” she whispered back with a wink. “I’ll show you the rest when we get home.” Need, she said need, not want. ‘To need a thing is to declare it essential to your very survival.’
“Exactly,” she said acknowledging his remembrance. “Take me home, Eric, please?” He was moving them to the door before the ‘s’ in her plea had left her lips. He was done with being blitzed in the ballroom as much as she was.