Full moon, and the stars were a glittering spray of diamonds thrown against a sky of black velvet. The night air was warm and lush with the fragrance of magnolia trees, the heavy blooms illuminated in the ethereal glow cast from the pearlescent orb above. Letting out a deep, shuddering breath, Sookie gazed up past Eric's shoulders to the blanket of stars above them. He had set down a bed of furs for the stargazing lovers, and, now sated, Sookie snuggled deep into the strong arms of her vampire. He leaned down to trail lingering kisses from her forehead, down her nose and then over mouth, his fingers idly tracing swirling patterns across her hip.
The field Eric had brought them to was alive with the night calls of courting frogs. Summer's humidity had yet to take a chokehold in Bon Temps and it was a perfect night for outdoor play.
“You are quiet, pet.”
Smiling enigmatically and pressing herself tighter against him, she gazed out into the darkness, “Don't you enjoy my silence for once?”
He laughed gently before kissing her shoulder. “I could spend every night from now to eternity listening to your voice. You say the most amusing things. A vampire's life is never-ending boredom punctuated by brief moments of interest, but since meeting you I have known only intrigue.”
She shifted to her side as he spooned her, his arms drawing her intimately into his embrace. He cast a thigh over her hips as she slipped a leg back against his. Letting her fingers toy with his curled against her belly, she said, “I'm thinking.”
“Hmm … and can I know what it is about us that has you so far away from me?”
Looking at him over her shoulder she said, “I'm right here with you, silly.”
Nuzzling her cheek, he whispered, “And yet you are not. Your thoughts, whatever they are, take you away from me. I want to know what they are. Perhaps then I can pull you back.”
She remained quiet for a moment before confiding, “I'm afraid.”
A low growl rumbled up from his chest. “You never need fear anything, little one. You are mine and I will never let anyone harm you.”
“I'm afraid of us … for us.”
“I do not understand.”
Rolling over in his arms, now facing him, Sookie stared into his eyes for a moment before asking, “What is our future, Eric?”
“Our future is each other. Our home, our status, our friends, our world will always change around us. Time moves forward, my pet, and we cannot remain the same … but one truth will always hold true for us: we will always have each other. We are our future.”
Tears filled her eyes as Sookie's voice shook. “I do not want to be a vampire, Eric … I'm afraid of losing my humanity.”
“Humanity is not a state of being, Sookie. It is an idea. A belief. A way of living. Godric had more humanity in him in the end than many of the humans in the world today. I have no doubt you will retain your humanity when I turn you. You will still be my Sookie. My light. My loving light.”
“Eric, I do not want to live forever … I don't think I can.”
He stroked her cheek with all the reverence he'd accord a rare and priceless object. To him, she was. He replied, “I would not turn you if I thought you were incapable of standing the test of time. There will be moments when it is not easy, of course, but you will always have me. I will carry you when you find yourself too weary to stand on your own. Those times will eventually pass and you will know joy walking beside me in the night once more. I will always be there for you as your Maker, as your friend, as your lover.”
Cuddling against him once more, she rested her warm cheek against the cool, hard planes of his muscular chest. “What if I say no?”
Eric remained silent for a moment considering her challenge before replying, “You know I will not accept that answer.”
“You would turn me against my will?”
“I will do what I must to keep you by my side. You have always known this, Sookie.”
Silent tears slipped down her cheeks, misty eyes met his gaze. “Please don't.”
“Do not ask for what you know I will not, cannot, give.”
“Why is the choice yours alone?”
Licking the tears from her cheeks, he asked, “Would you leave me? Would you force me to watch you grow old and die? Would you make me stand helplessly by as you succumb to the ravages of time and slip away from me forever? Could you be so cruel?”
“You are immortal, Eric. You knew life before me and you will know life after me.”
He tightened an arm around her while his other stroked up her back to cradle the base of her skull as he pressed his lips to her forehead. “Listen well, my Sookie. I knew life before you, but now that I've known you, now that I've known what it is to bask in your light and love, there is no life for me without you. If you left me, I would not survive it. If you left me, you would take my will to live with you.”
She raised her head, staring into his vulnerable eyes. She saw the truth of his words and was shaken. “Oh Eric … I don't know what to do!”
“Trust me, my pet. Trust that I know what is best for us. Trust that I will always take care of you … all you have to do is let me.” His fingers threaded through her hair, his lips moved to the inviting curve of her earlobe, taking its softness into his mouth. “Can you do this?”
She was silent in appraisal, looking into his eyes for long moments before finally whispering, “I don't know.”
“You will,” Eric replied, nipping her ear, draining the very will out of her as a rush of heat bolted through her body. Growling soft and low, he rolled her beneath him. He slid his hands over her shoulders, down her arms, one closing around her waist, the other reaching down lower to grab her hip. Their bodies melted together, her hips cradling his, her thighs parting to welcome him. He placed gentle kisses down her neck, alternately licking and biting, his tongue tracing the galloping beat of her pulse and the soft dip of her throat as he painted a wet trail down her body. His mouth lowered to her breast and he took a hardened nipple between his teeth and tugged.
The liquid burn of his mouth against her sensitized nipple sent her nerve endings into shock. Wrapping her arms around his head to hold him to her, Sookie arched beneath him, encouraging his suction, her moan echoing in his ear. The cool confines of his mouth against her heated flesh created such a delicious reaction within her. Their eyes met, burning.
“Oh Eric ….”
His tongue rasped and mouth pulled and suckled her gently for long moments. Switching from one breast to the other and back again before he nipped and kissed his way up to her lips, he whispered, “My Sookie, I must have you for eternity, I will have you for eternity, my pet.”
Not wanting to argue, she said, “How about you concentrate about having me now, my golden warrior?”
“As you wish.” Capturing her lips with his own, his mouth devoured her, his tongue delved deep within her silken cavern to alternately lick and suck hers. Bracing himself on one forearm, he let his other hand slip between her thighs and stroked her heat. She was molten fire in his hand, and he reveled in the feel of her essence slicking his fingers.
Breaking the kiss, she threw her head back as her hands fell to his shoulders pulled taut by his arousal. “Ah! Eric! Oh please!”
“What? Tell me what you want Sookie.”
She struggled to form a coherent thought. Her body shook with tension.
“You … I want you! I want to feel you inside me!”
“As you wish.” Reaching down, he positioned himself between her lips. She felt the blunt head of his penis pressing through her portal, felt her hips arch instinctively to take him, to be pleasurably stretched as he tunneled inside her narrow channel. His eyes above hers were dark and insistent, his voice thick with lust.
“There is no going back my pet. Not for you … not for me. We are one.” He pushed forward.
Eyes snapping open, Sookie bolted upright, her heart hammering in her chest. Dragging her hands through her hair, she whispered, “Oh my God!” She swung her feet out of bed, stripping her nightgown hurriedly and darted for the shower. Stepping inside, she turned the cold water tap on and gasped as it hit her hot skin, immediately cooling her.
Ever since she'd taken Eric's blood in Dallas, she'd been having sex dreams of him. Every night, images of their bodies intertwined in heated embraces had taunted her. She hadn't been happy with the situation, but she'd accepted it. However this was different. This time there had been more than sex, much more. They'd never spoken in any of her other dreams. They'd never discussed what was between them, and she'd certainly never felt such emotion for him … because of him. But tonight? Tonight she could practically feel the connection between them in the dream. She could feel thousands of tiny threads connecting them together, and she could feel her love and desire for him. It terrified her.
When she could stand the cold spray no longer, and felt sure the fire awakened in her by the dream had been doused, she turned on the hot water to create a warm combination. Leaning against the tiled wall, she let the warm water soothe her muscles.
'What is happening? Is this because of the blood? It has to be. I don't love Eric … I don't! He's manipulating me again. The next time I talk to him, I'm going to make him tell me everything his blood is doing to me.'
She finished her shower quickly before heading downstairs. She saw her answering machine blinking and hit the button to retrieve her messages. She'd never had one before, but, after Gran had died, she'd gotten it to avoid having to be a slave to the phone every time it rang. Moving into the kitchen to make breakfast, she listened to her messages. The first was from Sam.
Hey Sook. Just calling to let you know I arrived alright. Wanted to call and check in to let you know I'm okay and to see if everything is okay with you. If you have any problems, call me on my cell. I might not answer, but I'll get back to you as soon as I can. I'll call to check in again. I really appreciate this and I'll pay you back for this favor ... promise. Bye.Stirring some milk into her coffee as her bread was toasting, she smiled at his gentlemanly ways. Sam was such a dear heart. She took a long sip of the hot liquid that was sure to get her brain functioning in the early hour as she listened to Tara's voice next.
Hey Sook … so yeah girl, what the hell was up with tall, blonde, and dead the other night? Everyone has been asking about that! Are you with that guy? I thought you were dating Bill and things were serious between you two? I guess we'll talk about that later. I just wanted to let you know that I've had enough bonding time with momma and, if it's alright with you, I'll be coming back tomorrow night. Not sure when you'll get this message so that will be Thursday, in case you're wondering. I'll see you at work, and if that's not good for you, just let me know. Bye girl!Sookie grinned as she shook her head, 'As if I'd tell her she couldn't move back in!' She could understand why Tara was feeling a little insecure about it, after that whole thing with Maryann, it was no wonder her friend was feeling a little weird about everything. Now that she thought about it, she was pretty sure that Tara had gone back home to her mother to give Sookie some time to think about whether she wanted her back. She did, of course. She wasn't used to living alone and would enjoy having her friend around. 'Of course, it will be easier to keep Eric in line if there's someone else around, too.' Grinning deviously at the thought, she promised herself to assure Tara today at work when she saw her. The next message was from Jason.
Hey Sook … uh … so what was up the other night? That was Eric right? From Dallas? He seemed pretty pissed about something … I just wanted to make sure everything is okay. Heard you're running Merlotte's while Sam is gone. How's that working out? Any chance of a few free rounds? Nah, I'm just kidding. Anyway, give me a call and let me know that things are okay.A genuine smile lit her face as she grabbed her toast and made her way to the breakfast table to eat. Apparently, their little heart to heart while in Dallas really meant something to him. He was actually following through with trying to make sure they stayed close as brother and sister and looked out for each other. She made a mental note to call him from her new cell phone today so he'd have the number and assure him that she was fine. Next up was Jessica.
Um … Sookie? Hi. This is Jessica. So, I got your note and I guess I'm not too worried. You made it sound like his Maker really cares about him, and I remember Eric, so if he's promised to get Bill back I'm sure he'll be home in no time. I've actually been going to Shreveport the last couple of nights to check out the local vamp scene, so I've been keeping myself entertained. I'll call and check in though, and of course you can come by whenever … uh, so yeah. I guess I'll talk to you later. Bye.Sookie felt a twinge of guilt that she hadn't followed through on her promise to seek Jessica out to talk to her in person, and made another mental note to buy some A+ True Blood from Sam's stock for her new vampire friend. Jessica had to be running low and she didn't want the girl to have to suffer drinking the O- that Bill preferred. She would run it by the house after she got off tonight, and hopefully catch Jessica before the girl left for Shreveport, or, if she was already gone, she'd just leave it in the fridge with a note. She also reminded herself to talk to Eric about her. Bill had stressed that new vampires needed supervision, and she didn't want the young girl getting into mischief. As she finished her last bite of toast, she grimaced as Eric's voice filled the air.
Hello, my pet. I just called your cell and it went straight to voicemail. It's a little after dawn right now so I assume you forgot to turn it back on before you went to bed. Tsk. Tsk. Make sure it does not happen again. You are not scheduled to work tonight, but I want you to call and check in every night regardless of your work schedule. So I expect to hear from you sometime this evening. Also, I want you to set up an email account today on your laptop. There is a wireless device in one of the pockets of your case, and you just plug it into the USB port and the Internet connection box will pop up on your screen. Hit connect and there you go. Once you set up an account, text me your email address so I'll have it. That's all the instructions I have for you at the moment. I look forward to speaking with you tonight ... until then, little one.Even after his message ended, Eric's voice continued to vibrate in a strange way within her body. She got up to put her plate in the sink before heading back to her room. His was the last message. Taking a seat on the bed, she opened her nightstand drawer and picked up the ring there. Eric had removed her engagement ring that first night he'd brought her home, and she hadn't had the heart to put it back on. Not only did she not want to be reminded that Bill was gone and possibly in real trouble, but she also didn't want people asking questions if she wore it. Which they would. That's just what happened in a small town like Bon Temps.
Twirling the sparkling diamond band in her fingers, she found her mind drifting to thoughts of Bill and their relationship. The past few days had been so unbelievably hectic and stressful she really hadn't had the opportunity before now. However it was only a little after 8am, and she had plenty of time to get to work to do the books.
'I don't understand why he didn't tell me about what his blood would do. Why would he keep something like that from me? And why wouldn't he tell me how dangerous it was for vampires to know what I could do? He didn't warn me before we went to Fangtasia, and the most he did while we were there was shake his head at me. He never said one word about vampires trying to use me, or kidnap me, or posing a threat to me at all. He led me to believe that it was just Eric that wanted to use me, and that I should stay away from him. Why would he do that? Why didn't he warn me that other vampires would want to use me for my handicap?'
Lying back on the bed, she slipped the ring on her finger to admire it. She had to admit she liked the look of it on her hand, but looks weren't everything.
'How can I be in a relationship with a man I don't trust? More importantly, how can I be in a relationship with a vampire I don't trust? I told him … stressed to him, that he couldn't keep things from me after I found out about Jessica, and he swore he wouldn't do that anymore. Now I find out all this business about the blood, and now there's this whole possibility of vampires in general being dangerous to me because of what I can do, and he never said a word about either of them!'
'Of course none of this is going to matter if Eric can't get Lorena to give him back.' Feeling a stabbing pain in her heart at the thought of never seeing Bill again, Sookie forced herself not to cry. She didn't want to go into work with bleary red eyes.
'I don't know what I'm going to do if Lorena won't give him back. We might have some things wrong between us, and I might end up giving him his ring back because of them, but I couldn't stand knowing he was trapped with her. Especially since everything I said to her in Dallas might have caused her to lash back like this. Lord, everything is so complicated! Eric promised she won't hurt him because she loves him, but how good is his word, really? He did trick me in Dallas. Oh God! What if this is all just some elaborate plot on his part to make me his own personal telepath?'
Sitting up and hugging her knees to her chest, she was clutched by fear.
'He's more than made it clear he wants me. Even before Dallas. And the only proof I have that Lorena took Bill is his word that it was her scent in the restaurant. He could have staged this whole thing to get Bill out of the way so he could just swoop in and take me! Mother of Mary! I never even thought of that! Would he do that? Is he capable of that kind of deceit to get what he wants?'
Remembering Eric's Oscar worthy performance of a dying vampire in Dallas, she grit her teeth and hissed, “Of course he is!” Mentally kicking herself she thought, 'First thing I've got to do is get some proof that Eric isn't behind all of this. He's got to prove to me that Lorena really has Bill, and that Bill is still alive or the deal is off. I've been a fool to just blindly accept his word up until now! I was just so scared, so tired and stressed, that I wasn't thinking straight! And that big jerk took advantage of it! Well, not anymore buddy! No siree bob! He better come up with some proof or there will be no more listening from me. And damn sure no more blood exchanges!'
Firm in her decision, she slid the ring off and put it back in the drawer before sliding off the bed and grabbing her uniform from her dresser. She got dressed quickly and headed in for work. She had to get the totals done from last night since she'd taken off early, and she wanted to get them done before they opened. She had three girls she was interviewing today, and she was hoping at least one of them would work out. If they did, she'd be able to send Ginger and the other waitress back to Eric. Luckily in a town like this, word of a job opening spread quick, and everyone was always looking for extra work.
Her day actually went a lot smoother than she had expected. Tara had come into work early to talk to her since she'd known that Sookie was getting there ahead of time to do the books. Fortunately, she'd already finished the books so they'd been able to sit down and talk. Sookie had assured her friend that not only was she glad she was coming back, but was truly looking forward to it. She'd told Tara she didn't like living alone and missed her; that they were like sisters and her home was always open to her. Tara thanked her profusely and then presented an idea to handle their staff problems.
Tara suggested that she could be a waitress. She'd really calmed down over the last few weeks, and learned to handle her anger better. Plus, most of the citizens of Bon Temps knew not to mess with her. That would leave only one opening that Sookie would need to fill for a swing shift/fill-in waitress. When Sookie had asked about the bar and who would tend it, Tara had looked a little sheepish and asked if she'd consider hiring Eggs. She'd assured her that Eggs had tended bar before and could handle himself well. Sookie had taken a quick dip inside her friend's head and seen that Eggs was desperate for work.
Maryann had taken care of him for so long that he didn't have anything in the way of savings. Tara had set him up to stay at her old motel room until he could find a more permanent place, but if he couldn't find work in Bon Temps soon, he'd have to leave for a town with more prospects. Knowing that now he wasn't under Maryann's influence, Eggs was actually a good guy (she knew because, let's face it, the moment she got him alone after that awful night, she'd taken a long look inside his head to make sure he was good enough for her friend), and Sookie quickly agreed. She told Tara to have Eggs come in sometime that day to fill out the necessary paperwork and he could start the next day. She also said she'd give him an advance on his paycheck. Tara had given her a look to say she knew that Sookie had been inside her head, and Sookie had just shrugged and offered a tiny smile.
Shortly thereafter, the three new prospective waitresses arrived for their interviews and Tara set about getting ready to open up as the other employees began trickling in. Sookie handled the interviews quickly and had no qualms about dipping into the heads of each girl. She decided on Christine, or Chris, who was 23 and had a 3-year old daughter at home. The girl was honest and hard working, and needed the job since she'd kicked her deadbeat boyfriend out. The other two girls were nice but not in as bad a way as Chris.
Around noon, she called Jason from her new cell. He asked about the new number, but she wasn't ready to tell him everything about all that was going on and simply said she'd gotten a new and better plan. She felt bad for lying since he was making such an effort to be a better brother, but swore she'd tell him everything once she was sure where she stood with Eric. Jason asked about Bill and she told him the same thing she'd told Tara when they'd talked earlier—he was out of town and would be gone for a few weeks. Both Tara and Jason had expressed concern over the incident with Eric, but she'd brushed it off and managed to play it down. Thankfully, neither of them had detected any deceit on her part, and let the matter drop. It wasn't until about 6pm that her mood soured.
It was the middle of the dinner rush when her day started to get bad. As she was cleaning up yet another of Holly's messes, the door jingled indicating that a new customer had come in, but she didn't pay it any mind. Arlene could get them seated. However when the room went suddenly silent, curiosity got the better of her and she figured she'd better take a look. Standing up from the floor where she'd been helping Holly clean up the three chicken fried steak dinners the clumsy girl had spilled, Sookie gasped at the sight before her. Four men stood at the entrance of Merlotte's. One of them was holding a clipboard and looking around and the other three were holding a rather large ice sculpture. It was somewhat abstract, but it was easy to tell that it was the form of a man and woman in an erotic embrace.
Her face flushing beat red, Sookie made her way towards the man with the clipboard and signed for the delivery.
“Where do you want it Ma'am?”
“Oh … uh … well, it can't stay in here! Put it outside. Far enough away so that once it melts it won't leave a puddle by the door.”
“Whatever you want. I'm supposed to give you this, too,” the delivery guy explained as he handed her an envelope. It was black linen and quite obviously from an expensive stationery set.
“Uh … thank you.” When the delivery guys had left, Sookie ignored everyone around her and opened the note.
My Sookie,If possible, her face became even hotter. She saw Arlene sidling up next to her trying to get a peek at the note, and she quickly stuffed it back into the envelope. Looking around she was met with a sea of eyes. Everyone but everyone, was staring at her. She bristled with embarrassment. “I'll buy everyone a round of drinks if you don't say one word!” She almost laughed out loud at the collective 'whoosh' from people turning back to their dinner conversations. Sookie knew with the money Eric had given her, and the added income she'd be getting from working for him (if she continued to do so once she'd talked to him about whether or not he was responsible for Bill's disappearance, she reminded herself), she could afford to drop a hundred bucks on drinks to get everyone to keep quiet!
To help you cool off from last night.
After that, she'd had words with Lafayette. He'd apparently found out from Tara that she was hiring Eggs and expressed his displeasure over it quite clearly. While he knew that Eggs was just as much a victim of Maryann as Tara had been, he still hadn't forgiven the man for hitting Tara. Sookie had been forced to pull him into Sam's office to explain to him that she'd had similar concerns, and had taken a long walk through Eggs head to insure he was a good guy.
Lafayette seemed relieved at this news, but added, “Well you keep droppin' in to take a peek, Sook. Cuz that motherfucker lays one hand on Tara again, and I'm gonna lay my shit down and handle that fool for good.” She'd agreed wholeheartedly, and promised to do so.
The rest of the night passed without event. Jason and his friends had apparently headed over to a friend's house to drink beer and watch some game on TV and didn't show at the bar. Things slowed down considerably so Sookie decided to close early when it was nearing 1am. Jane, the local drunk, was the only one left and Sookie left her sitting at the bar to wait for her son to come pick her up while she worked on the books and did the nightly totals. Tara headed out to get settled back in after Sookie assured her she was good. Around 1:45am, Jane's son arrived to pick her up and take her home, and since she'd just finished the books, she followed them out.
She'd groaned aloud at the sight of the partially melted ice sculpture near the edge of the parking lot. Now it looked outright obscene. As it had melted, the ice man's face had dropped into the ice woman's lap. She wondered if Eric had planned that, too. She hefted the bag of bottle bloods she'd bought for Jessica out of Sam's supply and made her way to her car.
She parked at her house and walked over to Bill's. She knocked first, but, when no one answered, she used her key to let herself in. She called for Jessica, but was pretty sure the girl wasn't there, and, sure enough, a quick check of the house proved her right. Heading into the kitchen, she opened the fridge to put the bottles she'd brought into it and was surprised to see that there were actually quite a few already inside. 'Huh … I guess Jessica was a step ahead of me. That's great. It makes me feel better about her being here all by herself to know that she's seeing to her own needs.'
Jotting a quick note for the girl and leaving it on the table, she headed back to her house. Tara was already asleep so she was sure to be quiet. She knew she should probably eat something since all she'd had in the last three days were two servings of toast and a sandwich, but she just didn't have the energy. She promised herself that she'd eat something more substantial tomorrow. With everything that had been going on, she just hadn't thought about food.
Once she was in her room, she quickly changed into a sleep shirt before grabbing her new phone that she'd remembered to bring upstairs with her. Climbing into bed, she took a deep breath and prepared herself for the coming conversation. It was just after 2am now, so Eric would still be at Fangtasia. Since it was a vampire bar, they stayed open a little later, just didn't serve alcohol after 2am. She was pretty sure they stayed open until 3am. She'd already decided to wait until tomorrow night when she saw him in person to ask if he was involved in Bill's disappearance as it wasn't a conversation she wanted to have over the phone, so she was hoping that their talk tonight would be brief. Pressing the 2 button and holding it down, she listened to it ring.
At Fangtasia, Eric was sitting in his office working on the liquor orders when his phone went off. Seeing the caller ID, he smirked and answered, “Hello, my pet.”
Growling, Sookie replied, “How many times do I have to tell you not to call me pet!”
Laughing softly, Eric asked, “Did you get my gift?”
“Oh yeah. I got it. You big jerk!”
His grin widening, he replied, “Why Sookie, I was only trying to be helpful. Isn't that the gentlemanly thing to do?”
“You did it to embarrass me and you know it!”
“Perhaps … so how was your day?”
Leaning back on her bed she pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed, “Long.”
When she said no more, he said, “I'm fairly certain this is the part where you're supposed to ask me how my day went.”
“You are the last person to be lecturing me on manners, but, if it will get me off the phone faster, then fine. How was your day, Eric?”
“Dead.” Laughing at his own cleverness, he continued, “But my night has been lively. So many vermin to entertain, so little time. It would have been better out there sitting amongst their stench if you had been at my side to distract me with your delicious aroma.”
Clenching her teeth, she said, “You wanted me to call and check in. If this is all you're going to do, sit there and annoy me, then I'm hanging up.”
“Oh Sookie … you are so much more entertaining in person, but very well. Strictly business. Tomorrow is Friday and I want you to work. A car will pick you up again, and you will read your first batch of my employees. Is this acceptable?”
“Very good. I did not receive a text with your email address today. Did you get that done?”
“Crap … no. I forgot. I'll do it tomorrow. I had to interview new waitresses today and a new bartender and it totally slipped my mind.”
She heard the creak of his chair and knew he was sitting back in it. He tapped his fingers on the arm as he replied, “You seem to have trouble remembering things from time to time. Your Blackberry has a planner and reminder alert setting. I would suggest you familiarize yourself with it and use it. I do not like you failing to come through on your responsibilities.”
Forcing herself not to snap at him, Sookie bit out, “I'll get right on that. Speaking of responsibilities, I wanted to talk to you about Jessica.”
“Ah … Bill's annoying child. What about her?”
“She's not annoying! She's just high strung! Anyway, Bill made it sound like new vampires need a lot of supervision.”
“Indeed.” Recognizing where this conversation was going, Eric grinned as he sensed an opportunity approaching to maneuver Sookie into a more favorable position for himself.
“Well, I explained what happened with Bill, and she's not freaking out or anything. I told her to call me if she needed anything. She left a message on my machine that she's been going to Shreveport to hang out with other vampires at some local hangout there the last couple of nights. I went by after work to drop off some True Bloods for her in case she was low, and the fridge was actually full so I think she's doing alright looking after herself, but I was wondering if you could make sure she stays out of trouble until Bill gets back?”
Eric was silent a moment as he digested what Sookie had told him. He knew that there were only three other vampire hangouts in Shreveport besides Fangtasia as he owned them as well. They weren't part of the mainstreaming movement, and were underground locations where vampires were free to behave naturally. He knew Bill had never taken Jessica to these places so it was doubtful she even knew they existed. Factor in that Sookie had found the fridge fully stocked with True Blood, and he had his suspicions about what Jessica was up to. He doubted she'd bought any new bottles of that artificial crap, as he doubted there had been a need to replace any of them since her Maker had been taken. This would be bad for Jessica if she were indeed responsible for what he thought she was.
While he himself still enjoyed a good hunt that ended in a satisfying kill from time to time, vampires had to be cautious now that they were out of the proverbial coffin. If a vampire wanted to hunt instead of using a donor or fangbanger these days, they had to be careful to leave no body behind. He'd gotten a report of a drained truck driver the other night. A vampire in his area was filling his car up at that truck stop and had caught the scent of a dead body and investigated. He'd seen the drained man and immediately called the Cleaners to hide the evidence.
Then, last night, another truck driver had been found dead and drained, but this time the police found him. Thankfully, their vampires on the force had been able to glamour the right people and aid the Cleaners in again covering it up. And now he had a prime suspect as to who killed the men. This didn't bode well for Jessica. Endangering their kind now that they were out was a crime. It was alright to hunt, as long as you ensured that there was no evidence left behind that could implicate their kind. The only reason they were able to come out was because humans believed they survived solely off of True Blood and willing donors. Drained bodies turning up was a big no-no.
“Eric? Are you there?”
Shaking himself out of his thoughts, Eric decided he'd give this matter a little more thought before acting. If there were any way to get more out of Sookie through this situation, he'd find it. If not, then he'd simply confront Jessica and hand out the appropriate punishment for breaking the new law on hunting.
“Yes. I'm here. I'll have to look into the matter. I'll let you know what I come up with tomorrow night when you're here.”
“Ok. So … is that all?”
“I believe so. Remember to set up your new email account and send me the address, and I'll see you tomorrow night.”
“Don't call me pet!”
Laughing to himself, he slipped his phone in his pocket and sat back in his chair to contemplate the situation Sookie had presented him with. First, he'd have to find out whether Jessica was responsible for the deaths of the truck drivers. That was simple enough. There were several hours before sunrise, and if the bratty redhead was apparently stupid enough to stick to the same hunting ground, she would be caught. He'd sent Chow to stake the area out tonight to see if they could find out what vampire was so foolishly hunting in the open like this. If it turned out to be Bill's new child, he could very well turn this to his advantage.
He knew Sookie held a fondness for the girl, and if she believed Jessica to be in trouble, she might be willing to negotiate to get her out of it. However, that in itself was a problem. If Sookie learned that Jessica had killed these men, she might believe the girl deserved to face punishment for her crimes and leave the girl to her fate.
'Knowing Sookie as I do, she will not indebt herself to me even further for someone she knows is guilty of murder. No matter how much she likes her.'
His smile turned predatory as a sudden thought struck him. 'Of course, if she thought that Jessica was only guilty of a smaller crime … say, feeding on an unwilling human, but not taking enough to kill them, she might just conclude Jessica needs a firm hand. If Jessica is guilty I will force her to lie to Sookie about what she's done. She'll obey if she doesn't want to spend the next month chained with silver in my basement for foiling my plans. Not to mention the lashes with the whip she'll get for breaking the law. I'll bring her before Sookie and let my little Southern belle know that feeding on an unwilling human is a grave offense now that we're out and carries with it a heavy fine. Jessica will play her part and turn on the water works and beg her for help, and then being the predictable caring woman my Sookie is she will bargain for Jessica's safety … and I know just what I'll ask for in payment.'
Hearing Pam knock on the door he said, “Enter.”
Opening the door, Pam stood in her black corset dress and leaned against the door as she said, “Chow found the vampire you were looking for. You'll never guess who it is.”
Pouting, Pam asked, “How did you know?”
“I'm sheriff. It's my job to know,” Eric replied with a smirk. His mood brightened considerably. “Call him back and make sure he handles her roughly. When she gets here, I want you and him to beat her bloody and break both legs and arms, then chain her in the basement with silver. I'll speak with her before I leave for the evening.”
Raising an eyebrow, Pam asked, “That's a tad harsh. Any particular reason you are going so hard on her? Normally in situations where new vampires lose control, they get ten lashes with a silver whip.”
Smiling at his child, Eric replied, “I want to give her incentive to go along with a plan of mine.”
Realizing what this was probably about, Pam asked, “And does this plan have to do with a certain telepath?”
Eric heard the unmistakable hint of annoyance in her voice. He cocked a brow and asked, “And if it does?”
“I don't understand your fascination with her. You've never put this much effort into obtaining a meal or bedmate. You had the use of her skill even before Bill was taken. I don't understand why you went to such lengths to have her made into your own asset. You paid the million dollar fee to have her registered as yours with the Council, and pledged the mandatory four acts of service that they can call in any time they wish. You know how rare it is for anyone to log an asset for themselves with the Council. It makes me wonder what your plans are for her.”
Sitting back in his chair, Eric's eyes narrowed as he observed Pam. He knew she was jealous of his attentions to Sookie. She'd always prided herself on being his only child, and she hated to share anything. And while he usually found this endearing about her, it did not extend to Sookie. Sookie would be bound to him soon, and he would not have Pam driving her away. “She will be my child … and your sister.”
Hissing in outrage, Pam stepped forward and argued, “Eric you cannot be serious! That girl? She is completely unsuitable for our lifestyle! She will make a horrible vampire! I cannot believe you would be so foolish as to—”
“Enough! Do not forget who is Master here, Pam. You are my child, and you are dear to me, but I make the decisions and give the orders. It is your place to follow them. If you have a problem with this, you know you are always free to leave me and make your own way in the world. I have decided I want Sookie as my child and thus it shall be. Understood?”
She realized she had overstepped her bounds to speak to her Maker in such a way and bowed her head contritely, “I beg your forgiveness, Master." Her face was grave, her voice distant as she continued, "I understand … I just think, perhaps you allow your desire for her body and talent to cloud your judgment. You told me once that making a child is a great responsibility and should not be done lightly. I worry you have not thought this over enough.”
“Believe me, Pam, I have thought of little else since meeting Sookie. I have never been more certain of an action in my life. Sookie was born to be mine and I will have her.”
Stiffening, Pam looked away as she felt a twinge of jealousy in her undead heart. She'd never heard him speak with so much emotion in his voice. He'd certainly never spoken of her that way. Lowering her eyes to the floor, she said, “Very well, Master.”
Eric held his hand out to her, sensing Pam's emotions through their bond as Maker/child. “Come here, my child.” When she had moved forward, he took her smaller hand in his own, and stood to pull her into his arms. They rarely shared moments like this since they'd stopped sharing a bed. Pam was not an overly demonstrative woman, and he respected that about her. He was not fond of overt displays of affection either, though he found he enjoyed holding and petting Sookie very much and would not mind cuddling with her at all; however, right now he knew Pam needed his comfort. Stroking a hand through her long straight hair, he said, “You are mine as well, Pam … that will never change. You will always be dear to me, and no one could ever replace you. I wish you to know this with all that you are.”
Wrapping her arms around Eric's waist, she rested her head against his chest and softly nodded. They were close in height, as she was a tall woman in high heels right now, but he always made her feel small and sheltered when he held her. She enjoyed it. He had also taught her to be strong, and she respected and loved him all the more for that. They rarely spoke of their feelings, as vampires it was not their way, but moments like this assured her that her Maker cared for her. She knew she was lucky since many Makers were not so kind.
She got right to the point. “I do not like her. I do not like that you are so enamored by her.”
“But you are my Maker and I will follow your lead. If you say she is worthy, then she must be. I will try to see what you see in her. I … I do not wish to leave your side, Master. I'm not ready to go yet.”
Smiling into her hair, Eric replied, “Good. I'm not ready for you to leave yet either. You do not have to like Sookie, Pam. Your emotions are your own; however, I ask that you have enough devotion to me to respect my choice and desire to have her. You know I am not a vampire that makes hasty decisions. I have thought long and hard on this, and I know she is meant to be my child.”
“Then I will one day call her sister.”
Releasing his hold on her, Eric resumed his seat at his desk and replied, “Good. Now go call Chow and deliver my message. When he arrives with Jessica be sure to treat her to the skills I taught you about punishment. I need her compliant.”
Bowing her head, Pam turned and headed out of the door. “Yes, Eric.”
When she was gone, Eric leaned back in his chair and began formulating his plans. He knew most of it was entirely dependent on Jessica playing her part well, but he was certain that once Pam was done with her, the annoying redhead would be more than ready to toe the line. 'Oh yes. She will do as I tell her and play her part well. Then Sookie will be just where I want her, and I can begin moving forward with my seduction. Sookie will be in my bed before Compton returns. He will come home to find his darling Sookie saturated in my scent and filled with my blood. He will return to find that she is mine in every way. Yes … it is good to be me.'