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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chapter 7 ~ Oscar Contention

The following evening, Pam was pondering her Maker's obsession with Sookie as she drove towards Bon Temps. Even though she felt marginally better after last night's talk with Eric, she still had reservations.  

'He says he is sure and I have never known him to be wrong. But why her? He told me once that he knew I was meant to be his child because he had felt a pull to me before he even saw me the night he turned me. When I asked him what he meant, he told me he would explain it to me when it was time for me to leave his side and walk the world as my own vampire, and I respect that. Yet, I know he did not feel this pull towards Sookie. He's wanted her since he first saw her, but in the beginning he wanted her merely for a toy … and, of course, her power as well. He knew the moment he saw me I was to be his child, so, whatever this pull is, he didn't feel it for her. So why does he wish to turn her now? What has changed? What has happened since their first meeting that has caused him to have such a need for her as a child? What is it about her that draws him so?'
She turned off the highway to take the exit for Bon Temps and continued to chew on the situation. 'Her mannerisms are different than most bloodbags, and her scent is certainly far better than any other human I've been in contact with. Last night, I asked Eric why she smells so different and he merely smiled at me and said one day he'd let me find out, but only once. I guess that means he'll let me feed off her once. I have to admit, I wouldn't mind that.'

Smiling, Pam focused on Eric's words regarding Sookie once again. 'He told me he wants to keep her as a pet for a few years to enjoy her as a human before turning her. He also wants to use the time to train her. As he is forming a blood bond with her, she will be a life companion to him. This is probably the strangest of his actions towards her yet. Taking her as a child is one thing, but making her into a life companion? Not many vampires do this. Sophie-Anne is the only vampire that I know to do this. Many believe that she shares a special bond with her children, but Eric told me the truth is she blood bonds them to her before turning them to keep them loyal. It is a handy tool, I'll admit, but I could not imagine living the rest of eternity with the same person by my side.' She frowned.

'I love Eric and wish to remain with him for awhile yet, but there will come a time when I wish to venture into the world on my own. And at some point he will wish me to go as well. Vampires are not made to stay together forever. And yet, he is setting himself on this course with Sookie. It is strange. The whole thing confuses me … and I am jealous. While I do not wish to remain with Eric forever, I do not like that he desires Sookie so much he is seeking to make certain she does. What is it about her that has him wanting to chain her to his side for eternity? What makes her so different?'

Turning onto the country road that Sookie's house sat on, she thought, 'I will have to speak to her more. I wish to see what my Master sees when he looks at her. I wish to know what it is about her that draws him. If she is to be my sister, I want to hold some regard for her. If I cannot find anything to like about her, the animosity I hold will only grow, and I will be forced to leave Eric's side sooner than I had planned. If some type of accord cannot be struck between us, sooner or later my disdain will spill forth, and knowing what I know of Sookie, she won't take it lying down. She will fight back, and as Eric desires her for a life companion, I doubt he will side with me … I do not like that thought. I do not like it at all, but I know it to be true. He may love me as his child, but his emotions for her must be stronger to want her for eternity. I will have to find something endearing about her to focus on … or I will have to leave.'

Pulling up in front of Sookie's house, she was out of her car and at the front door swiftly with her vampire speed. She knocked loudly. 'I have to remember that Eric does not want her knowing he intends to turn her yet. When I speak with her I must keep this in mind. He said it would drive her farther away … though I cannot understand why. All humans that try to form relationships with us are doing so to seek immortality. She must wish to be a vampire if she is dating Bill … well, was dating Bill. Eric said she does not comprehend that by letting him feed from her and take his blood that she has severed her connection with that fool. He also said she has no idea what signing his contract meant. I cannot understand how Bill could not have warned her about our world. He has been so careful about keeping her away from Eric you'd think he'd prepare her to defend herself from his advances, but he has left her completely helpless …. and Eric has taken advantage of that. Sookie is his whether she knows it or not.'

Sookie hurried to check her appearance in the hall mirror before opening the door to Pam. She smiled, embarrassed. “Hello. Sorry it took me so long to answer the door. I couldn't find my phone and Eric has been harassing me about keeping it with me all the time.”

Pam inclined her head and replied haughtily, “It is fine. Humans are inherently slow. This is a fact I am familiar with. Are you ready?”

“Yep.”

Pam watched Sookie buckle her seatbelt. Now was as good a time as any for her to inform the human of the new arrangements. “Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will be the one to pick you up from now on … unless, of course, Eric chooses to. Is this acceptable?”

Clearly startled, Sookie babbled, “What? Oh … well um, I guess that's fine. Though I don't understand why I can't just drive myself. I'm sorry to have to bother you.”

“It is no bother. As my Master's child, it is my duty to see to his wishes. He desires you to arrive safely to the bar and return home the same way. In an effort to insure this, he arranges for transportation.” What Pam didn't say was that she had told Eric she would assume the transportation responsibilities for Sookie. Understanding her desire to get to know the telepath better, Eric had agreed, letting Pam know he was well pleased with her.

“Doesn't that bother you?”

“What?”

“Having to do everything he says, whether you want to or not?”


Slanting her eyes towards Sookie, Pam debated the merits of this conversation. After a minute pause, she decided that, while she was still conflicted about her Master's desire for Sookie, in deference to him she would aid him as much as she could towards his goal. 


“Eric is a good Maker. Few Makers care for their children, and most consider those they turn little more than property. Eric has always been kind and fair to me. He rarely gives me orders and never has asked of me more than he knows I can give. There are times I do not wish to do things, but that is more out of laziness than true dislike. He did not order me to see to your driving on a permanent basis. I volunteered since I know your safety is important to him. I do this because he is such a good Maker.”

“Wow … I, uh … didn't expect that.”

“What did you expect?”

Sookie laughed self-consciously, “Well first I never expected you to own up to such a human personality trait as laziness.”

Pam grinned sardonically. The human did have a good sense of humor. “We carry with us into this life much of what we had in our human one. I was the spoiled daughter of a rich baron when alive. I have never been fond of work, and will never be. Eric was a Viking warrior and chieftain and thus retains much of those same characteristics now. Your Bill was a Southern gentleman … and, as you yourself know, he carries many of those same traits still.”

I have no doubt you will retain your humanity when I turn you.
 
Sookie jerked as Eric's words from her dreams came unbidden. Pam had just said that vampires carried much of what they were in life into their undead existence. She didn't know if Eric was aware of the content of her dreams. He made it sound like the only carryover effect of ingesting his blood would be erotic dreams. 


Looking at Pam she asked hesitantly, “Uh Pam … when a human has a vampire's blood more than once, does it cause them to have dreams?”

Pam snorted, “Getting all hot and bothered, are you, Sookie?”

“Will you just answer the question?!”

“Do not raise your voice to me, girl,” she barked. “And the answer is yes. The more of Eric's blood you have, the more you will dream of him. A vampire's blood acts as not only an enhancer to humans physically, but a powerful aphrodisiac as well. You might even have daydreams of Eric. This serves to increase your attraction to him so that you wish to share his bed. I was led to believe he made you aware of this.”

“He did … I just wondered if the dreams ever consisted of anything besides … uh, well … sex?”

“Like what?”

Biting her lip, Sookie shook her head from side to side managing, “I don't know … anything? Will I ever dream of us doing anything other than having sex?”

“You wish to stop having sex dreams of Eric? I'm afraid that won't happen. Even if you stopped taking his blood now it would take months, possibly years for the effect of his blood to wear off enough that you no longer dreamed of him in this way.” Pam didn't add that if Eric completed a blood bond between them, which took three mutual exchanges to form, she would never be free of him.

“But that's all they'll ever be, right? Just sex dreams?”

Pam huffed impatiently, “I don't understand what you're asking. What do you wish to dream of with Eric if not sex?”

“What do you mean, 'what I wish to dream of'?”

“You direct the dreams … well, as much as you can. His blood inside you sows the seeds of his desire for you, and then your own desires shape your dreams. He wants you, so his blood makes you dream of him, but after that you direct the dream. He told me you claim you do not desire him, but, if that were the case, you would not have sexual dreams of him. He would merely be a background character to whatever you are dreaming on your own. He cannot create attraction that is not there. He can only build upon it.”

“Then why is Lafayette dreaming about him? He hates Eric!”

Laughing delightedly, Pam avowed, “He might hate Eric, but that doesn't mean he doesn't desire him physically. Humans are naturally drawn to us. It is part of our magic. So every human is attracted to every vampire they meet at least a little. That is why we give our blood sometimes. If there is a human we want, but they do not desire us enough to come to us, we can give them a bit of our blood and it will amplify even the smallest spark of want.”

“Why don't you just glamour them?”

Shaking her head, Pam corrected her. “Glamouring a bed mate is not ideal. A glamoured human can only do as commanded. You would have to order them to do every little thing. We tend to prefer willing partners in our beds, and in the past, before we came out, we would glamour them to forget those details that would reveal ourselves as vampires. Like feeding during sex. So, if there were a human we wanted that was not attracted to us enough to come to us, we would glamour them into taking our blood and erase the memory. Then we'd sit back, and wait for the dreams to build the desire for us within them until they came to our beds of their own free will.”

Angered, Sookie replied, “That's not free will. You're making them want you!”

“No … we are building on the small spark of want already there. You still have free will, Sookie. You desire Eric, but have not given yourself to him. The dreams drive you to want him sexually more than you did before, but the decision is still yours. Eric cannot make you accept him as a lover. His blood can only persuade you to be more open to doing so.”

Sookie folded her arms angrily over her chest and bristled. “It's still crap in my book.”

“Perhaps you need new reading material.”

Gasping, Sookie looked over at Pam who was wearing a small smile and said, “Did you just crack a joke?” Pam shrugged and made it clear their “chat” was done. Sookie thought, 'Well at least I know that Eric isn't making me dream about him. Pam made it sound like the dreams are my idea, and dream-Eric merely takes part in them as much as I allow. What does that say about me? My dream last night was so intense, so real … and what we talked about! The whole thing freaks me out. I'm going to have to think long and hard about this … but not now.' She fell silent brooding over what the night might bring.


...
...
...

Jessica hit the concrete floor with a bone jarring thud. Eric had thrown Jessica down contemptuously, watching dispassionately as the young vampire's elbow hit his desk as she fell in his office. He'd retrieved her from the basement a half hour ago, wrenched from the silver chains she'd spent all day in, and allowed her to feed on several glamoured fangbangers so she could heal adequately enough so Sookie seeing her would be none the wiser. “Do you understand what you are to do when Sookie arrives?”

Scrambling back from Eric, stark terror in her eyes, Jessica nodded her head rapidly as she huddled on the floor by the couch. “Y … yes, I—I'll do it—she'll believe me!”

“She'd better. If you fail me in this, Jessica, what you experienced downstairs will be mere foreplay compared to what I do to you then.”

“NO! Please!” Her eyes were wild with horror.  “I … I'll get her to do what you want! Sookie cares about me a whole bunch! She'll help me! I swear!”

Taking a seat in his chair, he leaned back, a dark grin stretched across his corrupt face as his tongue licked at his descended fangs. “She had better. You would hate to disappoint me.”

A short time later, Pam led Sookie through the back door of Fangtasia and towards Eric's office. She knew what Eric had planned as she'd played a large role in getting Jessica to come around to their way of thinking. The girl had been shocked to learn that she had broken some kind of vampire law, and, even more so, that she was facing punishment. She'd been belligerent—at first, saying that if she was going to be punished then she'd wait for Bill to return to do it. She'd even gone so far as to say to Eric that he couldn't punish her since he wasn't her Maker. Eric had thrown back his head in laughter. She'd been made to see how very wrong that assessment was. After hours of brutal torture, Jessica had promised to do anything they asked and Eric had elaborated on the details of the plan as he alternately wiped and licked at her blood splatter from his hands and face. As dawn approached, he'd left her chained in silver to make certain she did not forget her lesson in humility any time soon.

'I wonder if Eric is going to impress upon her just how unwise it would be to go back to Bill when he returns, telling him what we did to her. Eric broke no laws in torturing her since, as sheriff, he is allowed to hand down whatever punishment he sees fit for exposing us like she did. I doubt there is much that fool Compton could do by the time he gets back anyway since Sookie will be so thoroughly bound to Eric by then. But Bill could tell Sookie and that would create problems for Eric. Hmm … I'll ask him about it later when Sookie is not around. More than likely, he's already thought this through and seen to her silence.' 

Opening Eric's office door, she grinned broadly at the sight of the cowering Jessica on the floor. The redhead looked a little worse for wear, but, since they'd taken her clothes off before torturing her, at least she wasn't covered in her own blood now. Taking a seat on the couch, she waited for Sookie to enter and for the play to begin.


“Jessica!” Moving quickly to the girl's side, Sookie crouched down and smoothed some of the matted hair away from her face. “What happened to you, darlin'?”

The performance had to be worthy of an Oscar. Jessica reached down inside herself to release the tension of her own fear of failing Eric, letting tears fill her eyes. “Sook! Thank God! I'm in so much trouble!”

Knifing a quick glare at Eric, Sookie focused on Jessica. She was wearing the yellow sundress she'd loaned her some weeks ago, but it was torn and filthy. There were streaks of dirt and grime on the girl's face, arms, and legs. Her hair was matted and tangled badly. It was obvious she'd been in some kind of skirmish. “What happened, Jess? What's wrong?”

Enjoying the burlesque, Eric took in the sight of Sookie. She looked stunning tonight. She'd chosen one of his favorite dresses to wear, and it looked delicious on her. It was a dark blue satin ensemble, with a jeweled bodice that hugged her curvy figure and stopped mid-thigh. Tiny straps strained to hold her breasts tight and pushed forward. She was absolutely stunning. As Sookie fawned over Jessica, he steeled himself to focus on the matter at hand, and not Sookie's bountiful cleavage threatening to spill from the dress. He was more confident than ever that his plan was going to work. “Yes Jessica … tell Sookie what you've been up to.”

Jessica's eyes fell to her lap to keep from betraying this wicked ruse. She worked to inject tremble in her voice as she replied. “I'm sorry Sookie, I … I know it was wrong, but I wanted it so bad!”

Stiffening, Sookie asked, “Jessica … did you kill someone?”

“NO! No, but I ... well ... you see—”

“She fed on an unwilling human in sight of other humans,” Eric finished brusquely. “She did not kill the boy, just took enough to slake her thirst, but he filed charges the next day, and she was arrested for it last night.” He walked around the front of his desk and bent down to where Sookie stooped over a distraught Jessica. The position gave him a wonderful view of the generous swell of Sookie's breasts. He continued with the feign of the situation's gravity. 


“The Cleaners had quite a time of covering it up. This type of situation is very dangerous to our kind now that we are out, Sookie. She has broken the law, and will have to face severe punishment when I inform my superiors. I have brought her here to say goodbye to you since I know you are fond of her. You probably won't be seeing her again.” 

He could see the shock register on Sookie's face, her eyes miserable with the realization of the predicament her friend was in. 'Yes … step right into the spider's web, Sookie,' he thought with no small amount of triumph.

Sookie felt Jessica's cool hand grasp hers, and she looked long into the girl's distraught face. Jessica was a part of Bill and therefore a part of herself. She had to help. “What will happen to her, Eric?”

Eric shrugged, standing once more. “That is not up to me. It is up to the Magistrate. However, as her Maker is not here to argue on her behalf or negotiate for a more lenient sentence, I doubt it will be anything good. He will more than likely make an example out of her to caution other newborns, and remind their Makers to keep closer watch on their children.” 


He leaned against his desk, studying Sookie, arms folded across his broad chest. He acknowledged he was painting an unrealistic portrait but the ends justified his Machiavellian means. He knew, at worst, Jessica would get 20 lashes with a silver whip for the killing of the two humans let alone only feeding on one unwilling one that was left alive, but Sookie didn't need to know that. Nor did Jessica.

“Please! I'm sorry, sheriff! I won't do it again!” Jessica begged. She let more bloody tears run down her cheeks now. She felt conscience-stricken for agreeing to deceive Sookie as she really liked her (not to mention Sookie had only ever been nice to her), but she was far more afraid of Eric. The things he'd done to her last night would haunt her for years. She couldn't go through it again.

“You have committed a crime and must face the consequences. I've been kind enough to allow you time to say goodbye to Sookie since I know you two are fond of each other. Say your goodbyes and then I shall have you delivered to the Magistrate.” He paused for effect. “And have your crime reported.” Eric knew the last would catch Sookie's attention, and, as expected, she leapt on the chance to save her friend.


“So you haven't reported it yet?” Sookie asked hopefully. She was not only her friend, but Bill's child, and she felt a level of responsibility for the girl. 'I should have checked on her sooner in person! This is all my fault!'

'Gotcha!' Eric laughed to himself. 'Stellar performances all round. This was too easy.' Tamping down a look of exultation, he voiced impassively, “No. I was going to do so after you say your goodbyes and then begin reading my employees. I will make the call shortly and Pam will deliver her to the Magistrate for judgment and sentencing.”

“Is there any way to avoid doing that?” Sookie protested. She glanced at Pam whose even expression betrayed nothing and then back to Eric.


Eric affected a contemplative posture. “Pam … take Jessica down to the basement and hold her there while I speak with Sookie,” he commanded coolly.

“Yes Master.” Pam bowed as she grabbed Jessica's arm and yanked her out of the office. The bar was already open for business and the throb of music beat against the din of conversation. Ginger was the only human allowed in the vicinity of the basement, and she knew damn good and well about what went on down there. She observed Pam dragging a flailing Jessica toward its door and quickly reached for a towel to wipe up a bar spill. 

Best to keep eyes averted. Best to stay alive. 

Eric watched Sookie take a seat on the couch and wait for him to answer.  He spoke gravely. “What you are asking of me is dangerous, Sookie. There are others that know of what she's done. If word gets back to the Magistrate that I did not report this and deliver her to him for punishment, I could face dire consequences myself. Not following the chain of command and showing respect for our laws is very dangerous.” While this was true, Eric knew he was stretching the truth. As sheriff, he had full authority to mete out Jessica's punishment himself since they had managed to cover up her true crimes. There was no actual reason to alert the Magistrate, and, in truth, it would be looked upon poorly for him to do so for such a trivial thing as a few dead humans, let alone the fake story he'd concocted. But he knew that Sookie didn't know that, and he intended to take full advantage of her ignorance.

Wringing her hands in her lap, Sookie begged, “But you could do it, right? You could cover it up? Can't you talk to those vampires that know and get them to keep quiet? I … I don't want anything to happen to Jessica. If I had checked on her in person earlier this wouldn't have happened …. she's Bill's child. I feel like I owe it to him to look after her, and she really is just a child. You said yourself she didn't kill the boy. She just needs some guidance.”

He found it endearing that Sookie seemed to take responsibility for everyone in her life. She always managed to make everything they did wrong her fault. It was foolishness, of course, and a habit he intended to break her of once he turned her, but, as his human, the trait was beneficial to him and he would use his cunning to exploit it. He also found it amusing that she was arguing for leniency for a girl who had killed two men in cold blood … and didn't feel bad about it at all. Of course, he wouldn't either as they were worthless bloodbags, but again, Sookie need know none of this. Finally nodding, he said gravely, “I could do it yes, but I won't. I'm not going to endanger myself and my position as sheriff for her. She is not my child, and, while I understand your feelings of responsibility towards her, there is nothing you can do for her. You are a human and have no say in vampire matters.”


'I can't just let him turn Jessica over to the Magistrate. Who knows what would happen to her? Bill may not have wanted to turn her, but he has come to care for her as his child. He would be devastated to come back and find out that anything bad happened to her. I know wherever he is, he expects me to look after her. I can't fail him.' 

Sookie steeled herself, knowing that what she was about to do was foolish, but having no choice. “Is there nothing I can do to change your mind?”

Eric's face turned predatory; just a tiny bit more and he'd nail this. 


And later, her. 

But now, however, he did not want Sookie to know this had all been a charade, or that he was pleased by her oblique offer. He wore a look of compassion mixed with just a dash of gruff. “I'm sorry, Sookie. While I do not wish to upset you, as you know, your arguments will do you no good. The law is the law and I will not break it just to make you feel better.”

“That's not what I meant.”

Barely able to contain a laugh, Eric pressed, “What did you mean?”


Sookie sighed. In for a penny ....  “Is there anything I can trade for you taking the risk of covering this up?” And then, reading the unmistakable leer on his face, she quickly added, “That doesn't include sex?”

Eric moved back to his chair and sat down heavily, tapping his fingers on the arm as he pretended to consider her offer. After long moments where she began to fidget under his scrutiny, he said, “You understand that if it were ever found that I had done this, that I had intentionally ignored our laws and failed to follow the chain of command, I could face severe punishment? Far worse than what Jessica would be facing now since I am older and in a position of authority?” This was partly true: if he were ever to do defy authority, he would face his final death for doing so, if it were an actionable offense


This was not. 

Nodding, Sookie winced, “I understand that I'm asking a lot … that's why I'm willing to trade. What will it take for you to get Jessica out of this?”

“Other than having you in my bed, I already have access to what I want from you. You already work for me.”

“Is there nothing else I can do? I can work for you for free. The new contract I signed says I get paid over $8000 a month. You can keep it all if you'll let Jessica go.”

“Money is not a motivator. The money I'm paying you is nothing to me. We clear that in a night here. Not to mention online sales, and, as I've said to you before, this is not my primary business. No, money is not a good enough reason for me to risk running afoul of our laws.”


Please Eric.” It pained her to beg him for anything, but she had to try. 
For Jessica. For Bill.

He set his jaw and closed his eyes. Counted to 30. Opened them and possessed her gaze. “I promise nothing, Sookie. I'll have to consider this. I need to think on what you can give me that I would be willing to risk doing this for. For now, I have all my employees from my investment firm here tonight. You will read into them and then report your findings to me. After that, you'll join me on the stage to read the vermin. At the end of the night, I will tell you of my decision.”

“And Jessica?”

“She will remain chained in the basement until a decision has been made.”

Shaking her head, Sookie beseeched, “The only thing that would hold her is silver and I can't be up here knowing she's in pain down there.”


Eric smiled humorlessly at yet another reminder of her tender heart and assured, “We have special chains. They are made with silver but padded with leather on the inside of the cuffs. She will not be burned, but will not be able to get free either. You can see them if you'd like.”

Sookie nodded, “I'd like to see Jessica.”

“Very well. Come with me.” He led her out of the office towards the basement, reminded that the last time she'd gone down those stairs she had found Lafayette in chains and she had come to an arrangement over his incarceration, too. Eric was glad that they had no humans here they were presently torturing. They'd finished off the last one a week ago, and hadn't had any new ones scheduled for roundup.

Following after Eric, Sookie forced herself not to think about the last time she'd been down here. She only hoped there weren't any humans chained up and being hurt. She didn't know what she'd do then. The basement was dank as an armpit and still carried a terrible urine smell. She consciously switched to breathing through her mouth to keep from getting sick. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Sookie saw Pam standing in her Fangtasia themed red corseted dress as she looked on at Jessica in total boredom. On her hands were gloves to prevent her from being burned by the silver. Just as Eric had said, Jessica was chained to the wall with silver cuffs, but they were indeed lined so she wasn't hurt. 


“Jessica!”

“Sookie!” Jessica wasn't sure if Eric's plan had worked, but she was going to continue to play her part. She didn't want to think about what he'd do to her if he didn't get what he wanted from Sookie.

Running past Eric to the girl's side, Sookie assured, “I'm going to do everything I can to get you out of this Jess … I promise!”

Tears again filling her eyes, Jessica replied, “I really messed up, huh?”

“Yeah, but it's my fault. I should have had you come stay with me as soon as Bill was taken. If I had, you wouldn't have had the chance to get into trouble.”

Eric and Pam shared a smirk. Not only was Sookie playing right into Eric's hands, but the idea that Sookie could have stopped the young vampire from feeding if Jessica really wanted to was laughable. Bored with the pretense and not one to enjoy emotional displays, Eric stepped forward and said, “You've seen her and now you have a job to do. It is time to go back upstairs. Jessica's fate will be decided later. Let's go.”

Offering Jessica one last brave smile, Sookie turned and headed for Eric. He motioned for her to precede him up the stairs before following after her. It provided him a nice view of her ass. He was, after all, nothing but opportunistic. As they headed back up the stairs, she fretted, 'I was going to question him about Bill and demand proof that he wasn't involved in his disappearance, but I don't think that's such a good idea right now. I don't want to put him in a bad mood while he's deciding about Jessica. After she's safe, and we have a deal that he'll cover it up, I'll ask him and get proof. For now, I have to leave that topic alone.'

When they were back in the office, Eric was dictatorial. “Sit at my desk. I'll be sending my employees in to you one at a time. Everyone that works at my investment firm is out front and waiting. I have a list of questions for you to ask to use as a guideline to look for deceit or betrayal on their part. Of course, you are free to ask any questions you like as well. If you need to write anything down, there is pen and paper in the desk. There's only one locked drawer and obviously you are to stay out of it.” He motioned for her to sit down in his chair before asking, “Any questions?”

She sat down cautiously. She was extremely uncomfortable with sitting in his chair for some reason; it seemed so personal. 


“You aren't going to be in here with me?”

“No. I must enthrall the vermin. They come here to gawk at me, as you know. However, I can stay for a while if you'd like me to, my pet.”

Glaring at him, Sookie shook her head. “I was just surprised you didn't want to monitor me to make sure I did what you told me to. That's all … and don't call me pet!”

Grinning, he spun the chair so she faced him. He put his hands on the arms and leaned in close to her, a hairbreadth away, completely aware of what the impact of his closeness would have on his Southern belle. “You are an honest woman, Sookie Stackhouse. You will not lie to me about what you find … nor will you fail to do your job. I may not know you well, but I know you well enough to know you have a strong work ethic. I do not need to supervise you.”

Shivering at his close proximity, she took a deep breath and pushed back to give herself a buffer zone against Eric's undeniable sex appeal. “I … I'd better get started.”

Eric stood, his grin widening. He could smell the rich scent of her arousal. Patience. He proceeded authoritatively, “There are twelve employees from the firm and then four human staff members from the bar here tonight. I want you to do my investment employees first as they are not used to night hours, and are quite obviously uncomfortable here. Simply question them and then send them on their way. They are seated together and know what order to come in. When you're done with them you can take a break, and then I'll send the human staff here in one at a time. Understood?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” With that, Eric strode out of the office. He caught himself humming on the way to the dais and couldn't stop himself from laughing. It was beyond good, things were great; his little human was behaving exactly as he had predicted. By tonight he would have her right where he wanted her … and that much closer to his bed, his ownership. He took his seat and nodded to the office manager of his firm, a man who had worked for him for 20 years. He plucked him right out of college and doubted he would betray him, but Eric had learned humans were capable of anything … as were vampires. He would start the investigation at the top and work his way down. Of course, his employees didn't know that Sookie was a telepath, and would probably find the entire questioning process strange, but he didn't care. He didn't pay them to understand his reasoning.

One by one, Sookie interviewed each of Eric's employees from his investment firm. The list of questions Eric had comprised was actually very simple and effective:

  • Are you honest in all your dealings with Eric?
  • Have you ever betrayed him or his interests while employed by him?
  • Would you betray him for financial or personal gain?
  • Are you aware of any problems concerning Eric's business or interests?
  • Are you, or anyone you know, a part of the Fellowship of the Sun?
  • Have you ever thought of joining an anti-vampire organization?
  • What are your feelings concerning vampires?
  • Are you for or against vampire rights?
  • Do you believe humans and vampires can coexist?
  • Do you know of any crimes being committed against vampires?

It took her two hours to get through them all and she only discovered two problems. When she had sent the last employee away, Eric came in and stretched out on his couch. “Well?”

She found it strange to be sitting at his desk while he was on the couch, but pushed the feeling aside and said, “Well you don't have to worry about anyone betraying you to the Fellowship of the Sun, but I did find two problems.”

“And these are?”

“Stephanie, the office secretary, has a brother with a very serious drug problem and she suspects he's addicted to V. Their parents died when they were both young and she's been responsible for him so she can't force herself to use tough love and send him to rehab or kick him out. She thinks he's a part of a group of drainers because she found a silver net in his room and there was blood on it.”

Eric's fangs dropped down. “That is a problem.”

“Remember our deal, Eric. You can't kill people I find with my handicap that have wronged you. I won't work for you if you do.”

“Stop doing that.”

Sookie jerked at the rebuke, “Well I just want to make sure you know my boundaries.”

Shaking his head, Eric stated sternly, “I'm not talking about reminding me not to hurt those pathetic bloodbags. I'm talking about referring to yourself as handicapped. You are not.”
If possible, she was even more unnerved. “Why would you care how I refer to myself? 'Bloodbags', as you so rudely call us, don't concern you. You've made it more than obvious you consider us beneath you.”

Eric laughed conspiratorially. “Sookie you don't have to pretend to be like those vermin. We both know you are a breed apart from them. While you still rank beneath a vampire on the hierarchy of all things great and noble, you are certainly of higher standing than the cattle around you.”

Sookie glared angrily. “Just because I can read minds doesn't make me better than any of them. I want to be judged for my actions and own merit, not some freak attribute I have no control over.”

“I'm not talking about your telepathy, though that does set you apart … and elevates you higher, as well.”

Cocking her head she asked, “Then what are you talking about?”


“Your blood, of course. Your heritage.”

“What about it?”

Sitting up straight, Eric cocked his head, opening his mouth to reply and then closing it as he thought better of it. 'Could it be? Could she really not know? How is it possible she has no idea she is part fae? The fae are strongly aware of their progeny. The magic of their blood enables them to sense any of their line. It is not possible that her faery relations do not know of her existence. They would be aware of who bred with her human ancestors. I can understand her brother not knowing as the essential spark has obviously bypassed him, and his scent is every bit as foul as the rest of the vermin, but Sookie's scent is untainted. Her fae relatives should have contacted her at the very least. This is very strange.' Shaking his head he asked, “You really don't know?”

“Know what? What are you talking about? What's wrong with my blood or heritage?”

Leaning forward with his arms resting on his knees Eric regarded her closely as he examined the bond between them. He detected absolutely no lie or deceit as she peered at him curiously waiting for his reply. 'By Odin, she really doesn't know!' He thought that Sookie had never talked about her blood because she hoped he hadn't noticed the small amount of fae she possessed. He figured that since Bill hadn't realized what she was, she believed he wouldn't either. However Bill was much younger, and nowhere near as powerful. To Bill, she probably just tasted delicious, but, to him, he could identify a myriad of flavors in her blood. He could literally taste the sunshine in each drop, and, of course, he could discern her essence of faery.

He had assumed that she believed if he knew of her heritage he would use it against her, and that was why she was keeping mum about her fairy lineage instead of trying to use it as a bargaining chip. Human-fae hybrids were much admired by his kind, after all. Her blood was powerful, and a vampire of his standing could easily detect and benefit from it. It wasn't enough to drive him berserk, but it still made her damn intoxicating in a wonderfully aphrodisiacal sense. Not to mention that, as he fed on her more and more it would increase his own powers. He'd fed off a few full fairies during the vampire-faery war and he'd been able to walk in the sun for long periods of time. Fairy blood was pure magic and could do incredible things. He didn't know what taking her blood on a regular basis would do for him, but he was more than willing to find out. It had made Bill stronger, as he'd discovered in Dallas when the younger vampire struck him. Given time, Bill could have gained even more powers, and, had he fed on Sookie regularly instead of drinking that True Blood crap, he probably would have begun to see a significant difference in himself. But again, Bill was a fool.

Her ignorance could pose several problems … or advantages, and he'd have to consider it thoroughly before revealing all to her. He said, “We'll speak of it another time. Just know you are far more than those bloodbags, and you are NOT handicapped. To imply you are anything less than those pathetic creatures is a travesty. I won't allow it.”

Rolling her eyes, Sookie sighed. “Whatever … so what are you going to do about Stephanie's brother?”

Eric shrugged. “I'll collect him and glamour the necessary information out of him. If he's part of a group of drainers, I'll get them as well and then use the ruse you came up with last time; get them arrested with their drug of choice and put in jail. Human lives are so short that any amount of time lost to confinement is devastating to them.”

“Okay. That sounds good.”

“The other issue?”

“Bob Turkleson is getting ready to leave your company, and he plans to take quite a few of your clients with him. He's been talking to some of your most influential ones behind your back and convincing them they'd be better served following him. Apparently, he's your best investment analyst and advisor, and has been for the last 5 years, and he wants to capitalize on his own genius. He has plans to leave and set up his own firm in a few months' time.”

Shaking his head, Eric reflected aloud. “I knew when I hired him that his ambition would be a problem.”

Sookie cleared her throat anxiously. “What will you do?”

His lips drew taut into a straight line. “I'll speak to him. If he wants to leave and start up his own firm that's fine, all the luck to him. But stealing my clients? Not smart. Not smart at all.”

“What do you mean by speak?”

His eyes met hers. “I won't harm him, but I'll make it clear if he takes any of my clients with him he'll regret it. Now it is time for you to do the Fangtasia staff … unless you want to take a break.”

“No. I'd prefer to just get it done.” She took a deep breath, exhaling slowly.

“Very well.” Eric left and sent Ginger in.

It took her less than an hour to interview all the Fangtasia waitresses, and, as expected, they were all completely devoted to Eric. Richelle was the hardest to interview, because every other thought the girl had was hateful as she was jealous of the attention Eric paid Sookie. When the last waitress left, Eric came to ask her how it went and she told him what he already knew: those women worshipped the ground he walked on and wouldn't betray him.


Sookie excused herself to use the restroom, splashing cold water on her face. She reapplied her lipstick she's brought with her in her purse before joining him on the dais to scan the patrons, and was surprised to see him holding a gin and tonic for her.

It was a little after midnight now, and Sookie didn't have all that much to do; while Fangtasia was in full swing, by now the fangbangers were all well on their way to intoxicated and were harmless. She spent the next two hours sifting through the oversexed, drunken thoughts of those around her. She had purposefully left her phone in Eric's office so he couldn't annoy her with text messages this evening, but he countered her move by throwing out random sexual innuendos her way. She was beyond grateful when, at 2am, as the night was winding down, he said they could go to his office to discuss Jessica.

Eric led Sookie back down the hall and into his office. He had purposefully made it so this negotiation would take place at the end of the night for two reasons. First, he wanted her to believe that he needed the time to think of something for her to offer up in trade. Of course, since this was all his plan, he knew exactly what he was going to ask from her, but she didn't know that. And second, he wanted her tired. He knew she still wasn't accustomed to using her gift and the reading of all his employees and listening to the bar patrons would wear her down. Add to the cocktail the weariness of her worry for Jessica, and fear of failing Bill, and he was sure Sookie would show impaired judgment and cave fairly easily to his proposition. He knew she'd put up a little fight, but inevitably she'd agree; believing it the only way to save the girl.

Seated behind his desk, his eyes sought hers on the couch. He said baldly, “I've been thinking about it all night.”

“And?” Sookie's eyes were bright with hope. He was right, besides sex she didn't really have anything to offer him that he didn't already have. She knew she was asking a lot, but she couldn't let Jessica suffer. She was praying for a miracle.

“The way I see it, you are technically asking for two favors from me.”


Puzzled, she shook her head. “No I'm asking for one. To get Jessica out of trouble.”

“Yes, but in order to do that I have to do two things, two very dangerous things. I have to cover up her crime by getting the vampires in my area that are aware of what she did to remain quiet about it, which will cost me, by the way. And I have to ignore my responsibility to report the crime to my superiors, which is my job as sheriff. Both carry a heavy penalty if I'm caught. So, if I'm going to do two things for you, you should have to do two things for me; both, however, further one goal of mine.”

Not liking one bit where this conversation was going, Sookie asked, “What goal would that be?”

His grin was feral as he replied. “My seduction of you.”

“I'm not going to sleep with you, Eric! I thought I made it clear you couldn't ask for sex!”

“I'm not going to demand sexual favors, Sookie. I've told you before and I'll tell you again … when you come to my bed, it will be because you wish to be there, because you want me.”

'Irritating, exasperating, arrogant jerk!'
She scowled. “Not going to happen. So what two things do you want then?”

Ready to sell his plan, Eric leaned back in his chair comfortably. “First you will agree to … what is it you humans call it? Date? Yes, that's it. You will date me until your Bill returns. Next ….”

“No freaking way! I'm with Bill and I'm not going to cheat on him! I'm not that kind of girl!”

“While I admire your honor, you miss the point. I'm not asking you to engage in anything that would be considered cheating. We will not have sex unless you wish to. I'm asking that you agree to spend time with me outside of work … alone. I want time to convince you to be mine.”

“Newsflash Eric: that is cheating.”

“How? Do you not spend time with others besides Bill? Do you not spend time with your shifter friend?”

“That's—it's—it's just not the same!”

“It is the same, and, frankly, you don't have a choice. If you wish me to endanger myself I want something out of this that is worthwhile. The opportunity to seduce you away from Bill is the only thing you have left that I want.”

Folding her arms over her chest indignantly, Sookie took a moment to digest what he was saying. 'He said there won't be anything sexual unless I initiate it, which I won't, so we would just be spending time together. Is that really so wrong? Can I say no? I can't just let Jessica go before the Magistrate. Crap. This totally sucks.' Meeting Eric's studious gaze, she moved for clarification. “You won't try anything? No sexual advances?”

“I did not say that. I said we won't have sex unless you wish us to. I intend to make many advances. It will be up to you to decide how far things go.”

“You seem to be setting yourself up for a lot of rejection. Can your ego handle it?”

Grinning at her cheekiness, he replied, “Whether you want to admit it or not Sookie, you want me. I know this, and I know you deny me because of some misbegotten sense of loyalty to Bill. Takes the sting out of your 'no's'. And, more importantly, my dear Sookie, I do so love a challenge.”

Glaring at him, Sookie pressed, “I need to know what you're mean by 'date'. How much time are you talking about? What would you want to do?”

“As much time as possible. I'm aware you're working for the shifter but you are going to have to cut back on your nights there to fulfill this part of the bargain. If you need help with staffing or the books, I can arrange for more resources to be available, but you will have to free up most of your nights. The nights you don't spend working here I will want you spending with me. I, too, will free up my own schedule to make room for this arrangement.”

Running tired fingers through her hair, Sookie replied, “That will be hard, but I think I can do it. I can do the books in the morning, and, now that we're fully staffed, I don't have to work nights. Tara can close up for me. But you still haven't told me what you mean by 'date'? Have you ever even been on a date?”

“No. Nothing like it existed in my time as a human, and I've never had or felt the need to do so since it became common practice for unattached females to spend time alone with males not related to them. However, I am familiar with the concept, and assure you I will make appropriate plans.”

Sookie rubbed her temples. The long day was wearing on her. “There's nothing else? Nothing else I can offer?”

“No. I will not force sexual favors from you, and your time is the only thing you have left that I want.”

She felt drained. She exhaled a pained, colorless sigh. “Okay. I'll spend time with you, but you have to promise that whenever you make these advances if I say stop, you'll stop.”

Growling irritably, Eric replied, “I've told you I will not force myself on you.”

“Then we have a deal. I'll spend time with you and you'll let Jessica go.” She couldn't believe she was making this deal. What was Bill going to say? She was pretty sure it wouldn't be anything good. She assured herself, though, that once he understood that nothing ever happened—because she was not going to let anything happen—he'd get over it.


“Not so fast, Sookie. We agreed I was doing two favors for you so you had to do two for me. That was the first one … you still owe me one more.”

Her eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Okay. So what is the second one? You just said that the only thing I had to offer you was my time, so what else could you want?”

“You will accept any gifts I buy you while we are dating … and you cannot give them back after Bill returns. You must keep them.”

Sookie was incredulous. “How is that a favor?”

“Would you accept them otherwise? I seem to get back half of what I give you, and I end up arguing with you about what you are willing to keep.”

“I can't be bought, Eric. Giving me expensive things isn't going to make me want you.”

He knew that. It was one of the things he liked most about her. Money and power meant nothing to his little fae-human. He'd spent his whole life surrounded by people who were only interested in what he could do for them. Godric had been the exception to that rule … and now Sookie. Even Pam expected things from him. She was not greedy, and was extremely loyal, but she expected him to pay for certain high ticket items, or buy her gifts she couldn't afford for herself. He didn't mind, he enjoyed doing it, but he also liked that Sookie didn't want that from him. It's why he wanted to do it for her. “I'm aware of this, but I hope it will at least soften your heart towards me.”


Sitting back on the couch, Sookie observed Eric observing her. She didn't understand what he was doing. Why would he want to throw away his money on her? Fatigue clouding her ability to think beyond simply wanting to get home to bed, she decided it didn't matter. If accepting gifts from him was all it would take to finalize their agreement and get Jessica out of here, she'd do it. 


“Fine.”

Smiling a toothy grin, Eric agreed, “I shall make the arrangements to ensure Jessica faces no penalties for her crimes.”

“So I can take her home now?”

“No.”

“No?”

“She will be staying here at Fangtasia. I will have Pam prepare Longshadow's old room in the back for her. Just as Bill said, Sookie, since she is a new vampire she will need supervision. Until he returns, she will stay here so that she isn't tempted to misbehave. I cannot afford for her to mess up again.”

It made sense. Even her tired brain could understand the logic in his reasoning. “Okay. But will I still be able to see her?”

“You will see her every time you are here working. I am going to put her to work as well. She will earn her keep.”

 “Fine,” Sookie shifted restlessly. “Can she at least come out of the basement now?”

She yawned heavily and Eric acknowledged the evening's fine performance was at a close. The house lights were coming up, the audience had enjoyed the show and were filing out of the theatre. It was time to get Sookie to bed. Alone for now, he ruefully accepted.


“I will text Pam and have her see to it. Right now, we are leaving. You are exhausted so I'm going to take you home.”

Again her weariness kept her from arguing. 'I'll see her the next time I'm here, and he said he'd have Pam let her go. That will have to be good enough for now.' Nodding, she stood up and said, “Fine. Let's go.”

Eric walked around his desk to take Sookie by the arm and led her out the back door towards his Corvette. She had barely finished sitting and buckling her seatbelt before she fell asleep. His grin was downright proprietory as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed for the highway. 'She is becoming more engaged, more attached, more immersed and falling so much more deeply into my arms and doesn't even know it. By the time Compton returns, I will be so thoroughly embedded in her life she won't be able to send me away.'

Turning onto the highway and accelerating way beyond the speed limit, he enjoyed the graceful purr of his finely tuned vehicle. He gazed at Sookie's succulent body next to him, his eyes feral as they poured over her luscious breasts and tiny waist. He grinned to himself. This was winding down to a perfect day.

'I know just what I want to do with her on the first date and she's going to kick herself for not insisting on putting limits to what I could buy her come morning when she gets her first gift. Bobby informed me earlier tonight he was able to procure it, despite such short notice. I have to hand it to Jessica. She was a consummate actress this evening, an act to rival the spectacle I'd originally envisioned. Now I have Sookie unable to deny me the time I knew I'd need to win her confidence and affections.  Sookie, Sookie, Sookie. Oh my pet … prepare for the seduction to end all seductions.'

2 comments:

  1. Wow never realized he could be such a liar...... he's going to regret it when she finds out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. its me again..... oh man when Sookie catches wind of what he did to Jessica she is going to be pissed. I think Pam is truely trying to figure Sookie out and become her friend. will see how long that take.... Kristie

    i think you might want to change this but its up to you
    "When she had sent the last employee away, Eric came in stretched out on his couch. “Well?”
    it should read "came in and stretched"

    ReplyDelete