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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chapter 15 ~ Diagnosis: Exhaustion

His face a dark mask of tension, Eric took long strides through the hall, intently following the pull of his bonded. He soon found himself heading straight towards the small group of people Sookie held dear. Her brother, Tara, Lafayette and another black man he didn't know were all seated in a row of folding chairs in the hallway. None of them had noticed him yet as they were focused on the room in front of them. Walking straight up to Jason, he clasped his hands behind his back and bruskly ordered, "Brother of my human, explain. Now."

Jerking in surprise as Eric appeared in front of him, Jason opened and closed his mouth a few times before standing up as well. A rush of anger flooded his body. "Your human? What the hell are you talking about?"
 

Tara jumped up to face Eric, wanting to avoid a confrontation. "He doesn't know! Sookie hasn't told him yet."

Shifting his eyes to the girl who lived with Sookie, Eric quickly decided she would be better to get information from and was about to demand she tell him everything when a human voice behind him announced, "Sookie Stackhouse?"

Turning around, Eric nodded and crossed his arms over his chest as he affirmed, "Yes."

"Now wait just a damn minute! I'm her brother! Not you!" Jason argued as he pushed past Eric and looked towards the doctor. His voice was righteous with anger and confusion. "What's wrong with my sister?"

Looking between the two men, the doctor quickly surmised that the taller one in black was the one it wouldn't be wise to piss off and addressed him.


"You are ...?"

"Eric Northman. Proceed."

The slight doctor, who stood all of 5'8", didn't have it in him to inquire further of the hulking vampire before him and shot Jason a sympathetic look before continuing. "We just got Miss Stackhouse's test results back. She's suffering from severe exhaustion and minor malnutrition. Her blood pressure is elevated, she's dehydrated, and it appears she hasn't been eating very much of anything for a few weeks. Coupled with her menses starting, her body just gave out. She has also suffered a concussion from her blow to the head. She has several minor wounds on her arms and legs from the broken glass. We've stitched her up and none of her injuries are substantial, but she's going to have to start taking better care of herself."

When the doctor was finished, Eric turned to face Jason and demanded, "What happened?"
 

Jason scratched a hand on the back of his head and  winced, "I don't know, man … she, uh … she was getting me and my friends some beers and … well, uh … she just went down. She cracked her head real hard on the bar and hit the floor. After that we called 911 and, well … here we are."

Arching a brow, Eric asked, "She just went down?"

"Yep. Fainted dead away on us. We couldn't rouse her."

The doctor interjected, "As I mentioned, her injuries aren't substantial but we would like to keep her overnight to get some fluids into her and keep an eye on the concussion. She can go home tomorrow."

Growling low, Eric shook his head and tautly replied, "Absolutely not. I shall see to her care. You may go."

"Hey now! I'll decide what's best for Sookie. Not you!" Jason said as he whirled on Eric in indignation.

"Jason, shut up!" Tara demanded as she grasped his arm and tried to pull him away from Eric. She knew that the blonde vampire put up with a lot from Sookie, but she'd seen firsthand just how vicious he could be to everyone else.

Glaring at Sookie's brother, Eric warned, "You would be wise to listen to the girl. Sookie is under my care now and I shall see to her. You may go."

"Where do you get off—?" Jason's words were cut off as Eric lifted him by the neck and dangled him two feet above the floor. Hanging in midair, his feet kicked out uselessly as his hands wrapped around the vampire's wrist trying to break the hold. The vampire's strength was unbelievable and Jason's own vulnerability hammered into him as he struggled for breath. 

Snarling up at the fool boy, Eric hissed, "I will not warn you again. Your relation to Sookie alone has spared your life in the past and continues to do so now. But do not try my patience, boy. You will leave this place and Sookie's care to me and take the rest of these vermin with you."

Dropping him to the ground, he turned to head into the room he knew Sookie to be resting in.

Very fearful of the tall blonde man in black now, but following hospital policy, the doctor stuttered, "Well … uh … sir … if you're going to be taking Miss Stackhouse now there is the issue of her bill. She has no insurance and it will need to be settled ... or—or she'll need to leave her information with us so we can set up a payment plan."

Turning back to the doctor with a sneer on his face, Eric withdrew his wallet out of his back pocket. Pulling Bobby's business card out of it, he tossed it in the man's face and ordered, "Call this number and the bill will be paid in full. Bother me no more." With that he turned back towards Sookie's room, hit the pneumatic doorplate and stepped inside. The door closed behind him with a satisfying whoosh.

Once he was gone, Jason scrambled to his feet, his hand massaging his throat. His voice was like a squeak as he sputtered, "What the hell? Who does he think he is?!"


He coughed and worked his throat. "He's got no right trying to look after Sookie like that! I'm her brother, for Pete's sake!"

Having been practically cowering in his seat while Eric was in front of him, Lafayette managed to stand on shaky legs. "Yo Jace … listen, you my boy and all, so trust me … you do not want to mess with that man."
 

Tara nodded, adding, "He's right, Jason, and … well, there's more to the story that you don't know. Just trust me on this, Eric will look after Sookie, and well … to be honest, she won't want you getting between them. She can handle him on her own just fine."

Turning to look at Tara, Jason narrowed his eyes and asked, "What do you mean there's more to the story? What do you know that I don't?"

Feeling three sets of anxious eyes on her, Tara let out a pained sigh, "I can't tell you. It's not for me to say. You'll have to ask Sookie … but trust me when I say that Eric isn't going to hurt her … and it would be really stupid to try and stop him from looking after her right now. When she comes to she can make her own decisions and if she sends him packing that's up to her, but until then I think we should all go on home and wait to hear from her."

Jason looked at the door his sister was behind before turning back to meet Tara and Lafayette's worried gazes. Eggs shrugged. He was only present for Tara's sake and would follow her lead. Jason let out a sigh and said, "Fine. We'll go, but if Sookie comes to and is pissed we left, I'm telling her it was all y'all's idea and I was against it from the start! Now who's giving me a ride home?"

Inside the room, Eric stood at the foot of Sookie's hospital bed as he regarded her. He'd heard the conversation between her friends outside, but hadn't cared enough to listen in to what was being said. The room was dimmed but caused no problem for him to see that his Sookie had an IV in her arm with some kind of clear liquid being pumped into her body. There was a large bandage on her forehead and he saw multiple minor wounds on her arms. He could also see the dark circles under her eyes along with the pronounced hollow of her cheeks and he was not pleased.

'I should have known that the clothing I selected was not the wrong size. Foolish girl has not been taking care of herself and she's been losing weight. Once I am more intimately familiar with her body I will notice these subtle changes in time to prevent such an occurrence from happening again. I did not know she was so overstressed. What has she been doing to run herself down like this?'

He, certainly, had nothing to do with her rundown condition. Knowing he wouldn't get an answer until Sookie was better, Eric moved to her side and set about getting her prepared to leave. He saw her bag of clothes and belongings placed on the floor beside her bed but didn't want to take the time to dress her. Taking hold of her arm, he gently pulled the IV out and leaned down to lick the miniscule wound closed. 


He would take care of the other wounds once they were away from here. He removed the clip on her finger monitoring her heartbeat and ignored the alarm that went off as a result. Pushing the bedding back, he grabbed her bag of belongings and easily swept her up in his arms. He moved to the door, balancing her as he hit the inside doorplate with his elbow and exited the room. He was sweeping down the hallway in moments. He earned several curious stares but ignored them all. Once outside, he again ignored the people around him and shot upwards into the sky as he thought, 'If she cannot take care of herself, I shall do it for her.'
 

The night air was cold, whipping icy fingers right through her flimsy cotton hospital gown and stirring Sookie to consciousness. She blinked up at Eric in confusion. Her hair shot out wildly in the wind as she raised a weak arm to clear her face. "E … Eric?"

"Shhh … go back to sleep little one. We will be home soon."

She moved her head a fraction and mumbled, "Are we flying?"

"Yes."

A small smile crossed her face and she snuggled into his chest as her eyes fluttered closed. She whispered, "You would have to be Superman, wouldn't you?"

When she succumbed to unconsciousness again, Eric's upper lip quirked. "You are the only damsel in distress I give a damn about, my Sookie."


After their brief exchange, he had flown slower than he normally would so as not to disturb Sookie again, thus arriving at his house about a half hour later. It was on the other side of Shreveport, deep in the forest as he was not fond of neighbors. He landed compactly on the lawn and quickly made his way towards the front door, slinging Sookie over his back so he could unlock the door before shifting her again in his arms and striding inside. He laid her down on his couch in the living room and pulled his phone out of his pocket to call Pam.

"So I take it you have found her, then?" Pam asked in a bored tone when she answered.

"Indeed. I shall not be returning to the bar tonight. You may leave my car there."

"She is unwell?"

"Not for long. Bobby will be bringing a number of items by the bar tonight and you will drop them off here before you return home for your daytime rest. Understood?"

At the bar, Pam rolled her eyes before replying, "Yes, Master."

"Call me if there is a problem." After hanging up on her, he dialed Sookie's home number to leave a message for her roommate, but was surprised when the girl answered instead of the machine.

"Hello?"

"This is Eric Northman."

In Bon Temps, Tara was sitting on the couch with Eggs beside her. She'd made sure to keep the portable phone with her in case Sookie called, but she hadn't expected a call so soon … or from Eric. "Uh … is something wrong with Sookie?"

"No. I am calling to inform you that you will see to the shifter's bar until Sookie returns. I shall be keeping her with me for a few days to ensure she fully recovers."

"Shifter? What are you talking about?"

Belatedly, he realized that Sookie was apparently the only one who knew what Sam truly was. He could amend his words but that would only call more attention to them and confuse this girl more. Instead, he continued without explanation. "The hovel you work at. You shall see to its running while Sookie is away. I will be displeased if anything happens to it while Sookie is with me. If she returns to find problems you will face my displeasure. Is that understood?"

Angered by his high handedness, Tara snapped, "Perfectly."

Dial tone.

"Jerk!" she hissed as she slammed the phone down on the coffee table.

Next to her, Eggs asked, "Is Sookie alright?"

"I guess. Eric called and said he is keeping her with him to recover for a few days. He told me to look after Sam's bar until she gets back."

"Well at least he's looking after her, Tara … right?"

Nodding, Tara snuggled against his chest as she replied, "Yeah … but he doesn't have to be a jerk about it."

Back at Eric's house, he stood looking down at Sookie while speaking to Bobby who had just gotten off the phone with the hospital and paying Sookie's bill. "Bobby, you are to buy food suitable for Sookie to eat. I need at least a few days' worth but I would prefer a week's. I want you to get fresh foods. Fruits and vegetables and good meat ... fish ... and nuts. Something to drink," he added and then paused because he had no real idea of what that might constitute; it had been more than a millenium since he'd consumed anything more than blood. He continued, "Healthy foods that she can eat and will make her strong. You will drop them off at Fangtasia for Pam to deliver to me at the end of the night." While he had limited knowledge of what humans ate, he knew those kinds of foods were good for them.

"Sir, if you want fresh produce, milk, meat and the like, it will need to be refrigerated quickly. I should wait until it is near closing before delivering it. Is that acceptable?"

"Indeed. Just make sure you get a lot." Hanging up on his day man, Eric tossed his phone on the coffee table before picking Sookie up, sitting down, and holding her in his lap. He very carefully pulled off the bandage on her head and frowned at the ugly stitches marring her skin.

'They will need to be removed so that I can heal the wound myself.' Letting his hand move to rub her abdomen, he inhaled deeply as he thought, 'Her time of bleeding has come … she smells delicious … I wonder if she will permit me to drink my meals from between her thighs? Probably not. Pity.'

Deciding that this was not the spot to see to Sookie's care, he stood with her in his arms and headed for the entrance to his underground resting place. Passing through the hidden entrance and securing it behind him, he carried Sookie to his bedchambers. 


Setting her down gently on his bed, he stood back to look at her. 'All the times I envisioned her in my bed she was never in a hospital gown … but at least she's here.'

Grinning at that thought, he moved to lie next to her. He traced his fingers over her cheek as he regarded her fondly. He knew once he gave her his blood she would be awake and aware … and very much angry about his decision to keep her here for the next few days. So for now he wished only to see her sleeping peacefully beside him.

'I should have kept a closer watch on her. This is unacceptable. How could she have been so foolish to run herself down in such a way? For all her intelligence and skill my pet has such little regard for her own health and safety. I will not allow it.'

 
Rising from the bed, he went to retrieve a knife from the living area of his lair and returned to Sookie's side. Delicately he removed the stitches from her head one at a time, slicing little nicks into the threads and then extracting them nimbly. A red ooze seeped from the bruised area and he ran a finger across the blood, bringing it to his mouth where his tongue swiped at the sweet ambrosia.  He closed his eyes in delight, a satisfied smile lighting his face.


With the stitches out, he moved to sit with his back against the headboard and shifted Sookie so she was lying between his legs with her head resting against his abdomen. He bit into his wrist and tilted her head back, pulled her mouth open with a hand on her jaw so the healing elixir of his blood would pour down her throat. Automatically she began to drink. When he knew she'd had enough and he saw the wounds on her arms and legs disappearing as her forehead stitched itself closed, he shifted Sookie so she was cradled sideways in his lap. Stroking a hand through her hair, which still had some blood in it, he waited for her to wake. When she woke to find out her new circumstances it was sure to be an interesting conversation.

Sookie could feel herself returning to awareness slowly. There was a gentle petting motion going through her hair that threatened to lull her back to sleep, but she fought it. She knew something wasn't right and her subconscious was tugging at her … telling her to open her eyes. Letting out a whimper, her eyes fluttered open and she saw Eric's face above her. "Eric?"

"Yes my pet, you are finally awake."

From their position, she realized at once she was sitting in his lap and Sookie scrambled away from him only to find she was sitting on a bed—that wasn't hers. "Ahhh!" Jumping up, she backed away from him before noticing she was in a hospital gown. Wrapping her arms around herself, she asked, "What the hell? What's going on?"

Lounging against the back of his bed, Eric raised a knee and propped his arm atop it as he observed her. "You tell me?"

Looking around madly and taking in the obvious masculine d├ęcor and Eric's ease in his surroundings, she screeched, "Is this your room? What the hell, Eric! Why am I here?"

Arching a brow, Eric let his eyes sweep the room before asking, "Is the room not to your liking?"

"What? Eric, that's not what I meant! Why am I here?"


Unhappily, he would have to table getting her opinion on his bedroom for a later date, so he got straight to the point. "Tell me, Sookie … when did you last eat?"

"What?" Sookie was looking around wildly as she tried to make sense of her surroundings.

'What is going on? This had better not be his bedroom!'

"Answer the question. When was the last time you ate?"

Flicking her eyes to him, she shook her head and spat, "This morning. Now tell me what the hell is going on!"

Ignoring her questions, Eric continued, "What did you consume?"

"Eric, stop talking about food! What the hell is going on?!" Her voice was taking on a screechy tone he was finding offensive.

Blue eyes pinned hers, his voice darkened to show his displeasure. "You will answer my questions and then I will answer yours. Now, what did you have for breakfast?"

Sookie could see he was becoming angry. If she was going to get answers to her questions, maybe she would answer his imbecilic ones first. "I had an apple."
 

Eric's irritation flashed in his strong face. He pressed, "And what did you eat the day before?"

Thinking for a moment, Sookie finally answered, "Two pieces of toast and an apple."

He could feel a growl, deep and fueling fast, burning in his chest and continued, "The day before that?"

Biting her lip for a moment, Sookie finally answered, "Uh, I don't think I ate anything that day … I was really busy and I didn't find the time during the day and when I got home I was just too tired."

"When was the last time you had a full meal?"

Rolling the question in her mind, she finally shrugged and embarrassment skittered across her face. "Uh … well, I guess it would be the dinner I ate with Bill the night he was taken."

Hissing, Eric was off the bed and in front of her to grab her arms and pull her against his chest as he snarled, "You foolish girl! How could you do something so stupid?"

Scared of his intensity, Sookie shook her head and pushed against him. "Let me go!"

"Stop struggling! You are already weak and I do not want you wasting any more energy."

At the heat of his tone she stopped fighting his hold, and asked, "Will you tell me what's going on now? Why am I here? Where is here? And where are my clothes?"

Swooping her up in his arms, he carried her into his massive bathroom as he explained, "You passed out at work from exhaustion and minor malnutrition. You hit your head on the bar and cracked your skull open. I had to retrieve you from the hospital and brought you here to heal. That is why you are in a hospital gown."

Her mouth gaping open in shock for a moment, Sookie shook her head adamantly. "That can't be. I … I would have known if it was that bad. I—I mean, I know I've been a little tired and dizzy lately … and I've dropped a size, but I couldn't have been that bad."

Anger flooding him, Eric's voice lowered until it was dangerously soft and he asked, "You have been aware that your health was declining … and you did nothing to stop it?"

Feeling fear begin to prick at her with his intent gaze so focused on her, Sookie swallowed and stuttered, "Uh … well ... I—"

"Enough." Setting her down on her feet, he pointed to the bath and said, "You shall bathe. I will return shortly." He turned and headed out of the bathroom but Sookie's voice stopped her.

"Wait! Where am I? What happened after I fainted?"

Turning back to face her, Eric clasped his hands behind his back as he launched into his explanation. "When you passed out at work, your friends called an ambulance as you were bleeding from your head wound. They closed the bar and followed you to the hospital. I retrieved you from there and brought you here … to my home."

"Uh … why didn't you just take me back to my house?"

Eric regarded her coolly for a moment before replying, "I will answer that after you have had your bath. You may use any of the products in here that you wish. I shall return shortly." With that, he turned around and left her to her bath. He wished he could stay and help her, but she needed food. Pam would not be arriving with the supplies Bobby procured for hours and he wanted to get some form of sustenance inside of Sookie now.

When he was gone, Sookie looked around. Eric's bathroom was much larger and more expensive than her own. It was all done in dark woods, tan marbles, and earth tones. It was very masculine, but appealing. The bathtub was located in an alcove and looked like it was large enough to fit ten people and the shower was nearly the size of her own bathroom at home.

Feeling grimy and sore, she decided a bathe would be nice. Taking out her tampon and flushing it, she headed over to the tub and saw a wooden set of shelves beside it that contained a number of bath products including shampoo, conditioner, bath salts, bath oils, and several kinds of bubble bath. The bubble bath really surprised her. Deciding to take a quick shower to wash off before having a soak, she untied the back of her gown and let it fall to the floor before grabbing the shampoo and conditioner and stepping into the shower.

Outside of the house, Eric took to the sky and flew to the closest grocery store. Walking inside he grabbed the first female he saw and glamoured her into telling him what she used to take care of her monthly, and then found out what kind of food was good to give a human energy. Once he had the required information he sent the woman on her way. Going to the aisle to retrieve the pink box labeled Tampax Pearl, he then went to the health food aisle and grabbed a box of energy bars and headed for the checkout. After paying for his purchases he left the store and took to the sky once more.

Sookie was lounging in the bath with her hair lying on the rim of the tub when she felt a shudder run up her body. Opening her eyes, she saw Eric standing over her while looking down at her with a decided leer. She was glad she'd used the bubble bath and used its foam to sink down into the suds to make sure her chest was covered. "Where did you go?"

Crouching down beside the tub, Eric let his fingers skim through the bubbles, ignoring how Sookie scooted away from him. "I went to get you some food and to procure you some items to deal with your bleeding. I've placed them on the counter by the sink."

Blushing bright red, Sookie drew her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them as she croaked, "You … you bought me … oh lord!"

Amusement lit his face as Eric continued to let his fingers twirl through the bubbles. "I myself would prefer you didn't use them. The idea of your delicious blood running freely down your thighs pleases me … and makes me hard."

"Eric!"

Laughing at the horror in her voice at the very notion of such a thing, he continued, "But I knew the idea would not be half as exciting to you so I got you tampons for you to use."

Was Eric's casual mention of buying her feminine products any more mortifying than being in the company of a vampire during menses? She didn't know. She didn't want to know. Sookie stuttered, "Uh … oh … well thanks—did you happen to get me some clothes?"

Eric thought for a moment about allowing her see her closet next to his and letting her pick an outfit from there, but decided she would freak out. He also didn't want her realizing that he intended for her to live with him just yet. So instead, he said, "You can wear one of my shirts. It will be long enough to cover everything. Finish your bath. I'll leave a shirt on the bed. When you're done come out into the living area so we may talk." Standing, he leaned towards her to press a kiss to her brow before turning and leaving.

Sookie could feel her blush intensify at his behavior and when he was gone she let out a despondent sigh before grabbing the washcloth from the side of the tub. Now that he was back she didn't think it wise to soak for much longer. Quickly finishing with her bath, she unplugged the tub before stepping out. She grabbed the towel she'd put nearby and patted herself dry before wrapping it securely around her. She dug through the drawers around his sink before finally finding a comb. Pulling it through her wet hair to get out the tangles, she peeked her head out of the bathroom. Eric wasn't in the bedroom so she strode towards his bed and found a black silk button down shirt lying atop it. She buttoned it up to the neck before hesitantly walking out of the room, thinking, 'Here goes nothing.'

Eric was lounging on the couch with his feet kicked up on the table in his underground lair as he watched Sookie come tiptoeing around the corner. He could scent her nervousness and feel it through the bond as she stood in the entrance of the hallway looking at him. Patting the couch next to him he ordered, "Come."

"I don't think so," Sookie sing-songed as she took a seat on the chair next to the couch. Tucking her feet under her, she continued, "So, uh … what now?"
 

Eric felt a brief annoyance that she declined to sit beside him. He picked up the box of energy bars from the floor near him and tossed it at her. When she caught it, he said, "Eat those and then we shall talk."

Looking down at the box, Sookie let out a laugh. They were the type of energy bars that weightlifters used. "Uh … Eric, I can't eat all of these! I'll eat one and you can fill me in on what's going on while I do."

Narrowing his eyes, Eric replied, "You will eat more than one. You have not taken in the sustenance your body requires in over two weeks and you will begin rectifying this problem … now. I will wait until you have finished your first one, and once you are started on your second, I shall tell you what my plans are."

Rolling her eyes, Sookie tore the box open and removed two of the bars before reaching forward to set the box on the coffee table. She tore at the wrapper of the first bar with her teeth, then pulled the sides down to expose it and took a bite. It tasted like dirt. Gritty moist dirt. Gritty moist dirt with chewy rocks, to be precise. She grimaced, but managed to choke it down. When she had opened the second one, she said, "Okay … so what's going on?"

As soon as she started on the second bar, Eric began, "It has become quite obvious to me that you are incapable of seeing to your own care. As such, I have decided to take a more involved approach towards seeing to your protection; starting with you remaining here for the next two days to rest. I have spoken with your roommate and ordered her to see to the shifter's bar in your absence, and I've made arrangements for the supplies you'll need to be delivered later tonight."

Nearly choking on the bar now, Sookie sputtered, "What?! I'm not staying here! And I can take care of myself just fine, thank you very much!"

Eric maintained, "Did you or did you not admit to me that you knew your health was declining and you took no measures to prevent it?"

"Well … kind of, but …."

Holding up a hand to stop her before she could launch into some pitiful excuse, he continued, "Did I or did I not have to retrieve you from a hospital after you fainted from exhaustion?"

Glaring at him now, Sookie replied, "I don't know. That's your story, but for all I know you knocked me out and kidnapped me!"

Glaring back, Eric moved to put his feet on the floor and leaned forward to rest his arms on his knees. "I assure you that if I ever decide to kidnap you no drugs will be necessary to bring you under my control. Tell me, Sookie, what is the last thing you remember?"

Letting her mind think back, her shoulders slumped as she recalled, "Waiting tables at Merlotte's."

"Indeed. If you still doubt my word, you can call your brother or your roommate and they will verify what I have told you. You pushed yourself to the limit and collapsed. I will make sure this does not happen again. As you are incapable of taking proper care of yourself, I shall do it for you."

She shook her head adamantly. "I just need time to get used to my new schedule. That's all … and yeah, I've been skipping a few meals, but I won't do it anymore. Take me home and I'll be good as new tomorrow."

Ignoring her demand, Eric asked, "Tell me of your schedule. I know you are working more hours at Merlotte's but other than that I don't know what else you're doing when you're not working for me."

Sookie thought about ignoring his question and insisting he take her home, but decided if she wanted to make any headway with him it would be best to cave on the little things. "Well, I get up around 8 every morning, just about. Some mornings I sleep until 9. I'm at Merlotte's by 10am and I work until 2am on the days I don't work for you; maybe a little later depending on how long it takes to get rid of Jane and finish up the books. On the days I'm scheduled to go to Fangtasia I get off around 5 or 6, go home to shower and change so Pam can pick me up at 8pm and then I work for you until you bring me home."

"What about Sundays? Is the bar not closed then?"

Shaking her head she replied, "We're open 7 days. We're supposed to close at 10pm on Sundays, but Sam has a real loose schedule and we'll stay open as long as there's business. The last couple of Sundays we've been open later and I'd stayed late to do the books."

"Do you not have Saturday mornings off to sleep in?"

"Merlotte's is open in the mornings on the weekends. During the week there's not much breakfast business, but on the weekends there's lots. I've always worked the morning shifts since two of our other waitresses have young kids and mornings are bad for them."

Eric thought for a moment before saying, "I know for a fact your roommate opens and closes for you sometimes, so what are you doing during those hours?"

"Well that's the time I use for doing things I need to do. I go by Jason's and clean up his house and do his laundry, I do my own housecleaning, the yard work, go grocery shopping, and now that you have Ken coming over I have my lessons with him."

He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Staring at her in disgust, he reiterated, "So you are telling me you work from the moment you get up at 8 until 2 or 3, sometimes even 4am the next morning? Get at most 4 hours of sleep and then start all over again the next day? And on top of all that you've been doing it without food?"

Hearing it out loud, Sookie realized how bad it sounded but argued, "It's just until Sam gets back. It's no big deal. I'm going to start making a point of remembering to eat so I won't pass out again … I don't need to stay here. You can take me home."

Sitting back on the couch and propping his feet back up, Eric returned, "No."

"No? What do you mean 'no'?"

Quirking a brow, he asked, "Have you suddenly lost the ability to comprehend English? I said NO. You will be staying here for the next two days and you will do nothing but rest and eat. At the end of the two days, if I believe you have recovered enough, I will entertain the idea of allowing you to go home."

"Eric, you can't keep me here!"
 

Eric laid his arms across the back of the couch, his voice imperturbably unconcerned, "Can I not?"

Jumping up with her hands fisted at her sides, Sookie protested, "You might be able to prevent me from leaving right now but the minute you die for the day I'm outta here! I don't care if I have to walk all the way back to Bon Temps barefoot!"

Eric let his eyes travel over Sookie's body appreciatively. Her hair was wet and plastered to shoulders, making his shirt cling to her. The fresh scent of her was heavy in the air, and since she was without underwear he could smell the heat of her sex more clearly than ever. It was driving him to distraction. His shirt was far too large for her as well and hung off one shoulder while draping down nearly to her knees. Her tan skin contrasted the black silk nicely and he found he liked her wearing his clothes. No one else ever had before, but he thought she looked … cute. Shaking his head at the foolish notion he said, "Take a look around you, Sookie … do you see any windows?" When Sookie turned her eyes from his to scan her surroundings, he continued, "This is my underground lair and there is only one way in or out."

Fisting her hands on her hips, Sookie hissed, "And how is that?"

He pointed to the massive door along the far wall to his right. "That door. It is solid steel with an inner layer of silver and iron, and will only open by retinal scan and key code access. Your eye has not been scanned into the security system, and you don't have the key code. I would very much like to hear of how you intend to leave without me letting you out." Of course, he didn't mention the escape hatch … which she wouldn't be able to use either.

Gasping in outrage, Sookie screamed, "Eric Northman, you cannot keep me here!"

"I can, and I am. Accept it, my pet, you are here to stay until I decide to let you leave."

Sookie was still for a moment before reaching down to the coffee table to pick up some sort of statue adorning it and throwing it towards Eric's head. It was just the start. She grabbed whatever was next handy, as she shouted, "You overbearing, manipulative, controlling, egotistical, self-centered ...."

As Sookie continued to spew unflattering descriptions his way while grabbing whatever she could get her hands on, Eric simply dodged her projectiles as he laughed, "My, my Sookie! I didn't know you were given to such violence!"

"I'll show you violence, you insensitive jerk!"


Grabbing a lamp, Sookie hurled it towards his head, but when he caught it midair and merely tossed it onto the couch, she screamed in outrage and flew towards him as she kicked, scratched, hit and clawed at him in any way she could. She was so tired of him pushing her around. "You can't do this to me! I'm not your pet!"

Eric let her rail against him until it no longer amused him before grabbing her wrists, spinning her around with her back to his chest, and then holding her against him with his arms banded around her chest. "Be still, pet. You are too tired to be wasting such energy."

Sagging against him as her adrenaline ran out, Sookie begged, "I want to go home, Eric … please take me home."

She was losing the energy to fight. Nuzzling his face into her hair and feeling her weariness through the bond, he softly replied, "I will, little one … when you are recovered. For now, you need rest. You will be staying here, Sookie … try to make the most of it."
 

Tears of frustration filled her eyes as she whimpered, "It's not fair … I want to go home."

Her feelings and emotions were pressing at him through the bond. He knew she was quickly approaching unconsciousness after her outburst. She'd had little energy to begin with, and she'd wasted that throwing her tantrum. Using his vampire speed, he swept the items off the couch so he could sit down with her still secured in his arms. She squirmed against him for a moment before tiring out and letting her head fall back against his shoulder.


Nuzzling her neck, he let a purr fill his chest to rumble against her back. He'd never done this for anyone before but strangely, it was almost instinct with her. "Rest, little one. Things will be better when you wake. You'll see I'm right and you'll accept this. Sleep, my Sookie … let me take care of you."

"I'm not yours ...." Sookie whispered softly as she succumbed to unconsciousness again. Her outburst had sapped what little strength she had, and the soothing rumble of Eric's chest at her back was lulling her to sleep.

When he knew she was out, Eric kissed her temple and stood with her cradled in his arms. Carrying her into his bedroom he tucked her between the black down comforter and red Egyptian cotton sheets. Kissing her forehead, he whispered, "But you are mine, Sookie … you just don't know it yet." With that, he strode from the room to head towards his office. He would get his work done from home tonight. He wasn't about to leave Sookie alone her first night here. As he settled in his office chair and started up his computer, he smiled at the situation he found himself in. 'I just might decide to keep her indefinitely … now that she is here, I don't like the prospect of letting her leave. My poor Sookie … you are in more trouble than you know, my pet.'

2 comments:

  1. Jason needs to be real careful, but someone needs to tell him whats going on real soon. Jeez Eric, what did you expect....She has her normal responsibilities plus all the other crap you've made her do too. Duh. hmmm Wonder how long till she finds a phone and calls someone?

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  2. ooohhh she is in so much trouble, not taking care if herself and then her outburst didnt not bode well for her stamina or Eric's irritation. he has his sweet moments and then his overbearring asshole moments... But like ladykt said Jason needs to be told something soon before he blows a gasket at the wrong person or vampire.....love it Krisite

    here is a couple of oopps
    "seeing to your protection; starting with you remaining her for the next two days to rest." you left the E out here "reamining here for"
    2- "Did I or did I not have to retrieve you from a hospital after you feinted from exhaustion?" i think you meant "fainted"----after you feinted----- because feinted is movement from a punch or such


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