A Babe In The Woods
Once we were in the car, Sookie had the sudden thought to run back into the house. Whatever chore had taken her back inside took only a moment.
She locked the house again and she was still wearing the same smile as when she left.
I joked, “Did you forget to tuck him in?”
Her eyes met mine, her mood instantly soured. She sighed as she reached for her seatbelt. “If by tuck him in, you mean pee because I had a lot to drink, yes.”
“Here’s the defensive Sookie I’ve been waiting for. I was making a joke.”
“Here’s the possessive Eric I’ve been expecting since you’ve watched every move Alcide and I have made all night.”
“I was really making a joke, but it’s easy to see the reason for the rumors. You and Herveaux act like a couple.”
“Because it’s impossible to believe that a guy and a girl can be just friends.”
“I wouldn’t be willing to accept being just your friend…”
She interrupted, “Are we a couple, Eric? Just the two of us? No more fangbangers for you?” Between the look on her face and the aggressive mood she fell into, I didn’t appreciate the challenging tone she used.
“That was my intention.” I’d told her before that once I’d been with her, fangbangers had lost what little bit of appeal they’d had.
“Fine. I won’t fuck Alcide anymore. How’s that?” I nearly ran over the stop sign at the end of Herveaux’s street.
“Since you refuse to get it through your thick skull that Alcide and I haven’t been fucking all along, will you at least accept a promise that I won’t fuck him now that you and me are a couple?”
“You’re being cynical.” Just like always. One could say that the ‘honeymoon’ hadn’t lasted long… then again… geese and ganders…
“Have you been keeping it in your pants? Have you gone the last 2 months without fucking anyone?”
“No, I’m not denying that.”
“Then let’s assume that you don’t already think that Alcide and I have been fucking everywhere from Dallas to Atlanta. I’m with you and not interested in doing it ‘anymore’. I’ve never had the luxury of a lot of friends. Alcide is the best of all of them by a long shot. I’m not giving him up. If he’s right and you are just biding your time until you can inch him away from me, I’ll warn you now, I’m going to end up hating you for it. Alcide is the deal breaker, buddy. Get used to it or cut your losses. He’s not going away.”
“I’ve told you how I feel about being called ‘buddy’.”
“Pssh. Like I give a shit when you think I’m a two-faced slut.”
“I don’t…!” I had to take a moment, calm myself down before I said something I didn’t mean or pulled the steering wheel apart. “I was watching you two tonight… I’ll admit that. You’ve both admitted to spending a lot of time together. You’ve been avoiding certain topics. And you two act like a couple…” More importantly, I could feel that she was hiding something from me. That’s what bothered me.
“You’ve already admitted to sneaking into my house unannounced. I know damn good and well you haven’t smelled anything to make you wonder.”
“I’ve been hearing rumors about you two for months. You can’t think I’d just instantly forget it all. It just took seeing you together!” And hearing his thoughts.
She began shaking her head, frustrated to a degree I’d never felt from her. “We had that talk. With us being such good friends, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine us as a couple, but we decided that we liked being best friends. We have enough complications. Let me tell you something about that guy… if he was half the lecher you are, he’d be waiting for you to fuck up so that I’d turn to him, and I would… but Alcide is more worried about you breaking my heart than he is about losing me to whatever image you want to uphold.”
“I knew as much before. I told you, I started to understand that once I’d seen you together tonight.”
Her eyes finally met mine again, a disappointed frown on her face… it reminded me of one of the wolf’s thoughts… not trusting her would break her heart. “It’s not fair. I told you we’re just friends. That should’ve been enough.”
“In turn, it’s not fair that you’re angry with me for being suspicious. It’s in my nature to be guarded and you have a collection of jilted suitors.”
“Point taken? That’s it?”
“What else do you want?”
She forced an annoyed breath and groaned, “From time to time, we’ve fooled around out of boredom and loneliness. Never fucking. Just heavy cuddling followed by cold showers. Basically, your idea of flirting. And for the record, that stopped the second he started dating Carla. He’s a good guy. You’ll probably poo-poo most of his morals.”
I didn’t want to think about that. I’d only just gotten to the conclusion that I didn’t have anything to be paranoid about. I shook my head. “What I meant was an explanation as to why you’ve been seen together ‘everywhere from Dallas to Atlanta’… the topics you’d been skirting that made me suspicious of your relationship with him in the first place.”
“Why does it bother you so much that I’ve been seen with him though?”
“Because you…” Finishing that statement guaranteed an argument.
“Because I what?”
“Because in the past, when I’ve heard of you spending any amount of time with someone, they’ve become an obstacle for me. It seemed like you developed an unwavering devotion to Quinn overnight and all this time, I’ve been sure that Alcide was your ‘new Quinn’.”
“Yeah… I get why you’d have that notion in your head…” She sighed again, resting her elbow on the door to massage her forehead… Every fucking second she made me wait felt like forever. “You’ve kept things from me…”
“This is what, payback? You let me think that I was going to be waiting out another phase…?”
“Bloody hell! Shut up and let me explain… You’ve kept things from me before with good reasons. I understand that…” Her phone interrupted her and she kicked the dashboard and groaned a long string of ranting and cursing about timing before she fished her phone out of her purse.
She faked a friendly greeting to cover her mood, “Hey there, Margaux! How are things tonight?” When did she meet someone named Margaux?
“Sookie dear, I didn’t hear back from you today. I emailed you just before I went to rest.” As soon as I heard her Greek accent, I knew who it was… I hadn’t needed the clue that she was a Vampire. Sookie was talking to the Queen of California.
“I’m sorry. I’ve been busy all day and haven’t checked my email. What can I do for you?” Side work? Maybe? If she’d been traveling as a telepath, I should’ve been told. If Madden or de Castro had found out… Fuck. What was she thinking?
Queen Nicolao bitched, “You can tell me what the fuck to do with all of these damn refugees. I’ve received no less than 3 each day for a month. They don’t have walking papers.”
Sookie giggled, “Margaux, why are you asking me? This is a matriarchal conversation and I’m just a telepath.” Not only was she ‘chatting’ with a Vampire Queen, she was behaving as casually as she had been with the Weres at the cookout.
“My white ass! Don’t give me that shit. You’re not just an anything. I need to hide 100 Vampire fugitives.”
Sookie managed to hide how amused she was from her voice. “I don’t think you need to worry too much about it. They’re just looking for high ground. Are they all in Frisco?”
“I’ll call Niki and see if she’ll send her plane… they can just disappear for a week. Sound good, Mama?” Niki? Mama?
“I don’t know what we’d do without you. Northman’s a lucky bastard. You take care of yourself.”
“You too. Kisses.”
Before I had the chance to ask for answers, Sookie held her finger up to stop me as she dialed her phone.
The woman who answered greeted her nonchalantly, “Sook?”
“Hey Niki, we have collateral damage.”
“What might I be able to do for the cause?” What fucking cause? Who the fuck was Niki? Margaux, I knew of… No Niki… Niki… Nicholette? Nicholette della Rovere? Sookie had the private phone numbers for the Queens of California AND NEW YORK?
“Margaux has an infestation. It seems that the natives are taking to the trees. Might we be generous enough to send a plane and put them up for a week or so? There’s about a hundred.”
‘Niki’ cackled into the phone. “Sookie, you know that I couldn’t say no to you if I wanted to. Let Margaux know that the plane will be waiting at sunset to bring them here for vacation. I have news for you, but it will have to wait since you’ve given me chores to do… Thank you. Kisses”
As soon as Sookie hung up, she began texting… Texting a fucking Queen.
I forced myself to sound calm, even though she had to know better. “Lover, I don’t like being confused.”
“Eric, would you trust me if I told you that you shouldn’t know. Can you accept waiting?” No. No. Hell no. Not when she was talking to two Queens as though she knew them personally.
I growled as I forced myself to remember the subject matter of the argument we’d just had. “I trust you. I can accept waiting. You need to know that it will be all I think about though.”
She winced, no doubt feeling how loaded my answer had been. “Then I propose a deal. You’re smart. You have great hearing. You probably already have an idea based on what you heard. If I answer 3 yes or no questions for you, will that tide you over until everything reveals itself?”
Three yes or no questions. That wasn’t much of anything. All I could really accomplish with 3 answers was making sure the important concerns could be addressed.
She’d been to Dallas, Jackson and Atlanta. So she’d been in contact with Davis, Nansemond, Edgington (probably Crowe by proxy), and della Rovere and Nicolao had just been added to the list…
Davis, Edgington and Nicolao had been allies of Sophie-Ann… Nansemond and della Rovere hadn’t ever been though… But… both of them had been feuding with de Castro for as long as they’d been in power…
Refugees had been mentioned.
Sookie’d given me a clue the night before… I’d told her that there were worse Vampires than de Castro… Her reply was, “None that I can think of.”
Silly me. I hadn’t imagined that she’d been meeting with a surplus of prominent Monarchs.
Sookie’s ‘vacations’ with the Wolf had been a smokescreen… romantic little escapes to distract from the fact that she’d been up to her delicious little ass in politics. Being seen with the Packmaster in each place had been the rumors that had gotten back to me… Not that she’d been cavorting with her hosting Kings and Queens… and I’d have bet a limb that she’d meant for me to buy into the misdirection too.
While my mind wandered through the insane amount of information that had been deliberately kept from me, artfully camouflaged to look like something else entirely, Sookie’s tension had grown enough to turn her into a mass of worry…
I still made her wait…
Payback for hiding things from me.
When I killed the engine in my parking place behind Fangtasia, I finally began narrowing down my list of hundreds of questions to the highest priority.
“I think that could pacify me… You have a deal. Are you in danger?”
She let a smile pull at the corners of her mouth. “No. No more than usual.” That wasn’t at all settling considering she’d been shot, staked, beaten to a pulp… several times, mauled, drained, raped and very nearly blown up. Sure, that answer cured all of my worry. Fuck!
“Is there about to be another power shift for us to suffer?”
She squeezed her eyes shut, drawing in a deep breath. “Ummmm… I can’t answer that due to your choice of words.” Word games? Really?
“Is there about to be another power shift?” I didn’t bother hiding how annoyed I was.
“Yes.” Fuck. What had she done? What the fuck had she been up to? She was a baby wading in a fucking piranha pond. She should’ve known better than to play political games… She’d seen firsthand that there was never a happy ending… We always lost someone… and all I had left was her and Pam. All she had was me and her Wolf…
“Will I have to wait long for the news?”
“No. This will all be over faster than a knife fight in a phone booth.” Part of me was relieved… a small part. The rest of me knew full fucking well that when it came to knife fights in phone booths… Nobody. Gets. Out. Unscathed.
“This is what you’ve been doing? Politicking and intrigue. Playing games you can’t possibly understand the consequences of.”
“That’s you’re fourth question.”
“No. It’s not. Stop being flippant. This is what we were talking about before you took a phone call from a 1300 year old Queen asking for your advice.”
She sighed, “Yes. This is what I’ve been doing. When Alcide and I went out of town, we were working. I couldn’t explain because there’s no guarantee that you aren’t being watched.”
“Is Niall involved?” It was probably the only factor that could make the situation worse.
She gasped, “God, no.”
“Why do you say it like that?”
“Because you don’t trust him. Alcide might’ve had the hots for me at one point, but at least you trusted him to watch out for me when I had to go to Jackson.” That was… that was almost too much to think about. Not only had she chosen him to stand in for my protection because that’s exactly what I’d done… but I’d been thinking the worst of her… that she’d been lying to me… And all along Alcide had just been helping in her efforts.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. There it was… I was officially as ashamed of myself as I could be. Fuck me.
“Eric, are we alright?”
“Your answer about not being in danger doesn’t make me feel better.”
“My hands are clean.”
“There’s no proof that I was in Atlanta. Russell and Stan have history with me, so I ‘worked’ for them while I was there.”
“That was very sneaky. Even I didn’t know what you were up to.”
“Well, I know a really, really sneaky Vampire. I’d like to think I picked up a few tricks from him… We’re ok?”
I nodded. “This is why I don’t like secrets.” I wanted to retire, walk away from Louisiana and politics… Being surrounded by it all had pushed me to assume the worst of the only human that I could trust, had ever trusted.
“I know. This is why I don’t like having any… C’mon.”
Since Sookie was showering, washing away the cookout, I changed quickly and left Sookie’s things in my office…
I slithered up behind Pam as she checked IDs and wrapped my hand around her throat. I whispered against her ear, “You have a lot of explaining to do.”
She hummed, feeling more amused than I thought she had the right to. “What should I start explaining, Master?”
When she started laughing, I gave her throat a squeeze. “It would’ve spoiled your surprise.”
“You told me she’d matured… you failed to mention that she’s bisexual and conniving.”
I growled, “Am I supposed to ignore that you aren’t surprised to hear that she’s bi?”
She shook her head as much as she could. “She’s just curious. Dancing, kissing, body shots… What do you mean conniving?”
“You’ve kissed her?”
“What do you mean ‘conniving’, Eric?”
“You’ll know when I know. She’s been up to something.”
“Why haven’t you forced her to explain?”
“I can’t exactly do that. We’d only just been arguing about how poorly I’d been hiding my suspicions of her Wolf.”
“I’d talked to him enough to get some peace of mind by then, but she’d noticed how wary I was at first… It seems as though he hasn’t gotten any more out of his friendship with Sookie than you have… Sookie’s changing in my office. She has something for you.”
She wouldn’t smile among the vermin, but she had a twinkle in her eye. “What?”
“She had her Wolf coach her through shopping today. She bought dresses for you.”
“She needed a coach?”
“Sookie says that he has ‘ESP’… Ensemble Sensory Perception. She hates shopping for matching shoes and lingerie, but he relieves her from the task.”
“Does he have a fetish?”
I shook my head. “No. She’s caught him fantasizing about gouging his eyes out while he waits for her to make the decisions.”
She raised her eyebrow as she started to walk towards the back. “That’s sweet. Most husbands wouldn’t go shopping at all.”
She’d been partly to blame for my pondering… She’d reported back, and early on, that Amelia told her Alcide and Sookie were sleeping together… Since Pam didn’t smell any traces of sex, she joked that the trip to Jackson was probably to elope. ‘Only married couples spend that much time together without fucking.’
Pam was more than pleased. Not only did she have the chance to taunt me, but she’d been ‘thanked’ with dresses and well matched Manolo Blahnik pumps…
Not that I cared. Sookie’s attire had quickly made me overlook my aggravating discussions with her… it made me wonder why we’d never had a ‘Naughty School Girl Night’ at Fangtasia… Pleated skirt, obscenely short. Flirty little tie-front top, suggestively sheer. Lacy bra, matching panties. All of it was light pink and black. Complete with pigtails…
As soon as we were back on the floor of the bar though, I remembered why we hadn’t experimented with themes… The customers were grotesque enough on their own. They didn’t need to be encouraged.
When Pam returned to her station at the door, she seemed to want to leer at me, so I strategically sat next to Sookie with my back to Pam.
Sookie waited for the waitress to leave with her drink order before she gave me a questioning look. “I’ve had a lot to drink tonight… Don’t you want to get a True Blood?”
“You had just as much to drink last night and it didn’t spoil you.”
“Not at all?”
I shook my head. “You didn’t taste as though you had any alcohol.”
“But I had…”
“Eleven servings… I counted.”
I shook my head slowly, pulling her hand to my mouth and nipping her finger to steal a sample… as pure as ever. “Tonight you’ve had enough alcohol to put a large man on his ass and you’re not the slightest bit affected.”
She stared at my mouth for a moment before she shook her head and sighed, “We’ll figure it out later.”
“Perhaps it’s part of your new attributes of unexplained origin.”
She shrugged, seeming reluctant to discuss it.
She faked a smile. “How did you imagine showing me off?”
“You’re avoiding another topic.”
She sighed and began fumbling through in her purse, pulling out a small compact to check her makeup. I was about to push the issue when I heard her thoughts… she’d just been creating a diversion. “Do you think it has anything to do with me meeting Niall recently like Alcide does? The timing is right.”
“I do. I’m surprised you told him.”
“I kind of had to. When he caught me being lazy and moving the TV remote with my mind instead of getting up for it, he was on a tear and planning to go after Amelia for fucking with magic in my house.”
“That’s kind of funny.” And not unlike my list of possible sources.
“Not really. The more I think about the new powers, the more I wonder about why I have them… I’m not really happy with Niall right now.” She closed her compact and put it back in her purse. “So… You wanted to bring me here. What did you have in mind? What’s appropriate for me to do with my Sheriff, to him, while he watches? Especially here…” Mmmmm, the way she purred, leaned, cut her eyes… there wasn’t a single thing that came to mind that I’d have any objections to… but I wasn’t about to limit myself by giving her a definite answer.
“I think we should adopt a trial and error approach.”
Her tongue played inside her cheek until the waitress had left her drink on the table…
She took a sip…
Ran her finger along my thigh…
Dug her nails in and scratched from my knee until the back of her hand brushed my cock…
My fangs were down by the time she straddled my lap…
The club we’d been to the night before had been one thing. In my bar, among Vampires, it was so much more…
Dancing in my lap…
I pulled her closer for more friction and she grinded into me…
I thought I was testing her…
Seeing how far she’d go…
She was testing me…
She never stopped her game when I opened her top…
Nipped her neck…
Chewed her nipples through her pretty pink bra…
She put her lips to my ear and let them tickle the rim as she breathed, “What are you waiting for?”
Her game was risking her modesty. “Lascivious behavior? Public feeding, Sookie?”
She giggled against my neck, twisting, rubbing, acting as though my growl wasn’t warning enough. “Is this when I’m supposed to talk you into it?”
“This is when you stop teasing me before you push me too far.”
She hummed, never backing down. “One, you’ve never been shy… Two, no one knows what we’re doing…”
I turned my head to scan the bar… Sookie turned her attentions to the other side of my neck to continue toying with my control… in a room full of Vampires that could smell arousal like a farmer could smell rain, no one, not a single being noticed that Sookie was so wet that I could feel it through my jeans. “You’re doing it?” Cloaking?
She hummed, “Mmmmm hmmmm. So…” She reached between us, stroking me…
Her hand tightened around the bulge in my jeans. “So… what… are… you… waiting… for?”
She really had asked for it… I didn’t have the control I needed to make her stop… or make myself wait…
She whimpered when I pushed my fangs into her neck, twisting her fingers into my hair and holding me closer…
Still rolling her hips in perfect circles…
Panting and groaning, making her throat vibrate in my mouth…
I only stopped myself, barely, because I wanted more later…
And when I pulled away, she met my lips with hers, moaning into my mouth, kissing me like we were the only two in the building… no more attention than we’d drawn, we might as well have been.
Sookie’s heart was still racing… my cock was still aching when Pam decided to interrupt.
She cleared her throat as though it was necessary and purred, “Sookie are you free for a dance?”
Sookie leaned away from me slowly, smirking, raising an eyebrow. “Mind if she steals me for a song?” Mind?
I shook my head as I released her… anxious to see her ‘curiosity’ in action.
She kissed me again on her way out of the booth and when Pam’s nostrils flared at Sookie’s scent, she spanked Pam’s ass and told her to behave.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out what seeing me and Pam dancing did to Eric. He looked kind of stoned when we slid back into the booth to join him. It was funny to think all it took was seeing two girls dancing together to spin him up… then again, I wasn’t dumb enough to think that us being bonded to him wasn’t a factor.
Of course, Pam being Pam, she decided to tease. When I first realized that she’d left out a few details of our girls’ nights out, I figured she was sort of saving it for later, so it’s not like I was surprised. “I’m very pleased with how sexual you’ve become of late, Sookie.” She made it sound like I was getting a gold star from Dr. Ruth. If my legs had been longer I could’ve kicked her under the table since Eric and I had all but argued about my relationships earlier.
I shrugged, trying to play it off. “I’ve always been me. I’ve just never had an outlet.”
She faked a surprised look. “Surely while you were with Bill, he let you explore?” I felt more than a little uncomfortable talking about my sex life about an ex-boyfriend in front of my future husband, but Eric was just as curious as she was. I could’ve kicked him, for all the good it would’ve done.
“Explore? With Bill? Not even close unless you count missionary work.” Pam laughed, but Eric had the decency to try to hide how amused he was…
I couldn’t have been happier when my phone rang and kept her from picking… even considering who it was, since I’d been expecting the asshole’s call.
I gave Eric the best warning look I could before I answered, “Governor Madden, how are you enjoying your Saturday evening?” Eric and Pam’s eyes widened like saucers and their fangs ran out. It wasn’t fair since I had to fake charming and sweet.
“Sookie, I insist, call me Victor.” The way he hissed my name gave me goosebumps. “I’m in need of your services. I’m missing several Vampires. They’re underlings, but I’ve been unable to contact them.” Gee, I wonder why they’d take off. Jerk.
“Victor, have you heard rumblings? Do you think it could be the Fellowship?”
“I can’t confirm it. That would be why I’d like your assistance. I’ll pay.” I rolled my eyes. I could practically smell the bullshit from 350 miles away.
“I’m sure you’ve heard about the love I have for the Fellows. Is Thursday soon enough?” Eric furrowed his brow and shook his head. Instead of his old trick of forcing calm to me, he was practically forcing panic down my throat. I took his hand and laced our fingers together.
“That will do nicely. I must say, I am surprised that you’re cooperating.”
“You know how girls are. You just have to dangle the right carrot. The possibility that I could be part of catching Newlin makes the job offer irresistible. I’ll drive down during the day so I can start working as soon as the sun sets. I’ll have Packmaster Herveaux with me to help and watch my back. Do you think you could have someone put together some info for me? My telepathy is advancing and I’m becoming a bit of an intuitive as well… if I know more about the missing Vampires, I might get a pull in the right direction. No guarantees though. I’m still exercising.”
“I’ll arrange lodgings for you and the Packmaster and you’ll have the info you need soon. I look forward to working with you.” Yeah, whatever.
“Victor, don’t worry about lodgings. I have a place in the city. I’ll call you if I get anything from the info you send me. I could get a lead that your people can follow before I get there. Anything else?”
“No, Miss Stackhouse. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Victor.”
Eric couldn’t hold it, so I went right back to cloaking our conversation so that no one overheard him freaking out.
“How could you agree to go down there?! It could be a trap. It isn’t safe. I don’t trust him… That sleazy asshole has taunted me about you every fucking night since the takeover. You can’t, not after everything, be naïve enough to believe he actually wants you to find his underlings. If they hadn’t ‘taken to the trees’ as you so artfully put it, he’d just as likely kill a few to bait you down to New Orleans. Not to mention that he went over my head to secure your services, completely breaching protocol. Sookie, what the fuck are you thinking, making arrangements to go down there with nothing but one fucking Were as your ‘backup’? Without discussing it with me first? You said it yourself that you don’t trust them. You just agreed to work for the Vampire who held a hostile takeover on your lawn.” While he aired his complaints, Pam nodded like she was agreeing to gospel at Sunday service.
And that’s why I loved Eric… He loved me enough to flip his lid. It took me too long to realize it, but he cared enough to freak out. He would argue with me instead of yell at me. He’d make a scene instead of staring a hole into the side of my head. Contrary to my original impression, Eric actually had a full range of feelings. The part that worried me was that he managed to hide them all unless I was involved.
When he finally stopped, I took my turn, giving his hand a squeeze. “A knife fight in a phone booth.” Eric’s face locked down as he processed the clue. The defensive posture fell away from his shoulders when he came to the realization that things would be over before I would be going on the little trip.
“You said soon, but…”
“I’m sorry… soon is kind of relative. You were figuring longer?”
He nodded, showing how much more calm he was about… well, it seemed like he calmed down about everything at the same time. I couldn’t fault him for it. A lot of information in a short amount of time… I understood better than anyone how someone could overreact… especially since I made a stink over damn near everything for a long time.
Pam didn’t get it. She hadn’t gotten the information Eric had in the truck. “Master, can you please explain what’s going on?”
“No, but it seems that Sookie might be a better Vampire than either of us. She’s gotten quite duplicitous.”
She raised her eyebrow in my direction. “You, recalcitrant little Sookie Stackhouse, are up to your adorable little ass in Vampire politics and not complaining for once?”
“Actually, I’m up to my come-hither baby-blues in Vampire bullshit and not complaining. When in Rome, right?”
She laughed through her nose and shook her head. “You’ve gotten a mouth on you.”
I blew her a kiss. “You’d know.”
She rolled her eyes while she tried to think of a subject change. “So Eric, judging by your scent, you enjoyed Dancing With Wolves.”
I giggled at her and started sorting through the 14 texts I’d gotten over the course of the night and answered them.
Eric told Pam that she should tag along to the next cookout we got invited to, then described the different things that he noticed as though he were reporting back to ‘the mother ship’. By the time Eric finished his total recall about the pack/Were paradigm, I was done with my texting, so I butted in. “Pam, are you gonna come out to Bon Temps tomorrow night and terrorize Merlotte’s too?”
Her eyes had gotten bleary because she’d been bored with Eric’s story, so the idea of screwing with Sam’s head made her eyes light up. “That sounds exciting.”
“Good. I want to hook you up with Alcide. As long as you are nice to him, that is.”
“You want to pimp me out to your Were friend?”
“No. I want to introduce you to my friend Alcide. Trust me… you like me, so you’ll like him. We’re a lot alike. He’s a real stand up guy. Between the 2 of us, we have that brother/father/sister/mother dynamic covered so the only thing missing for him really is sex. What else you want to put into it is your call. He doesn’t know that I was going to mention it. He never mentioned it, so if you meet him socially and get a cold fish, whatever. But he’s sexy and has a great sense of humor. Worst case scenario, y’all have great sex for a while.” I wanted to stomp Eric’s foot for looking surprised. He wasn’t shocked that I was trying to hook up my friend with his child. He was surprised that I was farming my ‘other boyfriend’ out. So dense sometimes. I swear.
“What’s his background with women?”
“He wants to settle down. He’s a ‘couple’ kind of guy. Last three serious girlfriends… Psycho. No chemistry. Control freak. In that order.”
“Which one are you?”
“I’m the girl he threw in Psycho’s face.”
I raised an eyebrow in Eric’s direction. “Wellllll, she assumed just because she saw us together in public that we were sleeping together. He got sick of it and told her I’m great in bed just to shut her up.”
“How did that work out?”
“I shot her in the face when she wouldn’t Back. The. Fuck. Off.”
I couldn’t tell if Eric growled or cleared his throat, but he was suddenly very interested in what was going on in the rest of the bar. He might as well have hung a halo over his head and said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’. Mr. Innocent. I almost laughed, but that was his intention.
Her eyes ping ponged between me and Eric for a second before he offered, “I trust him.” I couldn’t tell if he was trying to convince me that he’d come around or if he was trying to encourage Pam. Either way, our jaws dropped.
Pam thought about it for a moment. “Well, any man who knows a good shoe when he sees it, is worth an introduction. I’ll be at Merlotte’s, dressed to kill. No promises.”
“Good. I work until 8. We can go do something after.”
Eric and I managed to get a few dances in once the crowd thinned out a bit. It was a way to nudge Pam out of our date a little bit, but it was fun… maybe a little weird that I liked that the other Vampires in Area 5 were seeing me as Eric’s… but still fun.
He was as anxious to take me to his house as I was to finally see it, but I had to encourage him to take care of some light business before we took off. Since we had other plans for Sunday, I’d have felt bad if he got behind.
I was waiting for a Coke at the bar when Pam came over to me with a stranger. She stomped her last step as she tended to do. “Where did the Sheriff go?”
“He’s in his office returning business calls.”
She nodded towards the stranger. “Sookie, babysit the ‘check in’ while I offer my assistance.”
“Yes ma’am…” I fought the urge to salute as Pam took off.
The Vampire she left me with was pitiful looking. She managed to look like a wet kitten… just terrified. She had beautiful shoulder length red hair and her eyes were grey like a storm cloud that took charge of her otherwise delicate features.
I ordered a True Blood for her and led her to our booth. She settled into her seat and picked at her perfect cuticles… a left over habit since Vampires don’t get hangnails anymore than they get colds.
“I’m Sookie Stackhouse.”
She cringed. “Angela McCourt.” She had the misfortune of sharing a name with the title character in Angela’s Ashes… Vampires. Ashes. That wasn’t a positive segue.
“Oh. Unlucky coincidence.”
“So where are you from?”
“I grew up in Amarillo but most recently Orange down on the gulf.”
“Wow, that’s a long way. How’d you end up there?”
“I went to Texas A&M. When I graduated I took my idea of the perfect job in Orange. I was happy there…” She trailed off as she covered her face and started to cry. I jumped up and grabbed some napkins from the bar and slid back on the bench next to her. I was waiting… any minute, Pam would come back from the office and make it worse by teasing that I make Vampires leak too.
“How long since you were turned, sweetie?”
“Aww. That’s rough but you’ll be fine.”
She nodded, but it was just to be polite. “I’m worried about the sex. I’ve never had sex with anyone I didn’t date for a while. The girls in my sorority called me the Angel, and not in a friendly way.”
“Well, first of all, you should track them all down and key their cars…” She giggled enough to be encouraging. “What sex are you worried about?”
“With the Sheriff… I ran into another vampire who told me to find somewhere to live and report to the Sheriff. He told me that I would have to have sex with him or he’d make my life miserable… and I’d never find a nice one because they all know each other.” I shushed her and rubbed her shoulders. “Are you what they call a fangbanger?”
I shrugged. “Of sorts… I…”
Eric’s voice boomed behind me, “You most certainly are not.” I scooted out of Angela’s way so she could do the appropriate bowing. “I’m Eric Northman, Sheriff of Area 5. Who is your maker?” He made a gesture towards the booth for us to sit…
She immediately started sobbing again.
Eric sent, “I hate to see a woman cry.”
“She was told that you’d require sex from her… Maybe… maybe introduce me as your fiancé. She’s only 3 months old.”
His friendly face, yeah, didn’t happen. “I assume you’ve already been introduced to my fiancé.”
The thought of a monogamous vampire seemed to help a little. She nodded, dabbing her eyes. “Yes sir.”
“Why is it that your maker isn’t with you at your age?”
“I never met him or her. I was in a car accident and I died… woke up in a fridge at the hospital. My parents were on their way to come get me and take my body home for my funeral.”
“So your family is local?”
She shook her head. “No sir. They’re back in Amarillo.”
“Do you have employment? Shelter? A vehicle?”
She shrugged. “I interviewed today for a job at the 24 hr. Wal-Mart and I’m staying in the Vampire-safe room at the Red Lodge right now.”
“Ridiculous. What did you do before you died?”
“I was a teacher. I taught elementary school. I always liked working with kids.” Damn. There goes that.
He looked even happier as he pulled out his phone. I might have had a small heart attack when I heard Alcide pick up the phone.
“Yeah… Eric? What’s wrong?”
“Hello Princess. Sorry to wake you.”
“That’s fine, Cupcake. I missed you anyway.” If Alcide remembered the call, I was so going to tease him for that.
“I miss you too… kisses.” He was making fun of me, making it really hard to not laugh.
“Is this a booty call?”
“Why do I have to want something? Can’t I just miss the sound of your voice?”
“Sure, what are you wearing?”
Eric chuckled before managing to get to his point. “Do you know of any families that need a tutor/night nanny/governess? I have a young vampire here that was a teacher before she turned.”
“No. Around here, most kids spend their transition stage getting home-schooled. The community here is big enough that it’s easy to insulate.”
“Keep your ear down then.”
“Will do. You coming over to lick my nuts?” I had to slap my hand over my mouth so that I didn’t deafen poor Angela. Even she got a giggle out of it and she had no clue to Eric’s and Alcide’s history.
“Lick your own.”
“I’ll wait. I bet Sam will do it.”
“Tomorrow night then. Wear something pretty for me.”
“And your favorite cologne. Freak.”
Eric ended the call and smirked, kissing me on his way to the back.
He was gone long enough that Angela was calmed down before he called us to the back. I really think that seeing him joke around had helped more than anything.
When we walked into the office, he quickly introduced Pam and told Angela that in his absence, she was to answer to her…
He gave her a list of important phone numbers, including mine…
He was still being more friendly than I’d seen him with other Vampires, but his mood started getting worse and worse once we were in the truck.
On the way to her motel room, he gave her some Vampire etiquette tips, including his role over her and that without a maker she could have problems. He explained that he would claim her to protect her, but if she fucked up (his words, not mine) she’d get exiled…
It only took her a few minutes to pack her things with my help and our next stop was a parking lot. He handed over a Fangtasia key chain and pointed to a champagne colored Dodge Caliber and told her to follow us…
A few minutes later, we pulled into an apartment complex where Eric grabbed her things and a case of True Blood, carrying them to the 3rd floor and opening the door for her.
We walked into a furnished apartment without windows and he put her things on the couch… He was still in one of the worst moods I’d ever felt and hiding it like a champ.
“Welcome home, Angela. This apartment is yours to do with as you choose. Leave it as you found it. Feel free to take a roommate for the extra cash. The car is yours too. And this…” He gave her an envelope with a few thousand dollars in it. “Consider it from the welcome wagon. There’s a business card in there as well. They’re expecting you tomorrow night at 6pm. I assume that since you went to college, you’ve waited tables or done something in the realm of customer service…”
She gave a wide-eyed nod.
“You’ll need to wear jeans and athletic shoes. A pair of shorts or jean skirt will garner more tips if you’re so inclined as long as it’s blue denim. Uniform shirts are provided. It’s a sports bar and open until 2, so for now the hours will be good, but you should explore the teaching avenue as summer gets closer. Four hour shifts won’t give you much spending money…”
I was as shocked as Angela. Eric’s hands had been in his pockets, so when she hugged him, he was helpless… and he looked it so he kept talking.
“The phone and cable are taken care of with the utilities, but you should get a cell phone as soon as possible. The local Packmaster, Sookie and I will be on the watch for child and/or education opportunities for you and something will come up soon. Do you have your hunger under control?”
She nodded. “I drink a lot, but never live.”
“I’ll have Pam set up a delivery from the local blood bank. At your age you should have real blood at least twice each week. Right now you could get by, but if you were to see real blood in quantity… like an injury, you wouldn’t be able to control yourself.”
She nodded and it made me want to cry that it was all new information to her.
“Welcome to Shreveport Miss McCourt. I hope you like it here. Call your family and let them know you’re safe. Don’t forget that you have our numbers. We’ll check on you often, especially Sookie. I’ll give you a few days to settle in before I have you come to Fangtasia. You’ll need to be seen with me… In the meantime, if you’re given any grief by other Supes, tell them that I’m your maker.”
“Would anyone believe me though? I mean…”
“Your maker should have kept you in seclusion for your first couple of months while you learned to feed and adjusted to your heightened senses anyway. Your ‘coming out’ will appear to be in a timely fashion. There aren’t many who would challenge me regardless.”
She nodded, taking a deep breath that she didn’t need before grabbing me for a hug.
When Eric and I got back down to the truck, he was still just as pissed as ever… and I let him have at it. He drove too fast. He turned without looking. When we stopped, he stomped on the brakes. When we went, the tires squealed. I let it go on for a few minutes before I said anything… to be honest, the only reason I did was because my nerves were starting to get the best of me.
“Want to talk about it?”
He yelled, making me jump. I wasn’t expecting yelling… I was thinking more along the lines of clenched teeth. “Talk about what!? The irresponsible bastard that turned her and left her? The intimidating Vampire that told her she’d be a sex slave? Or her family who left her on her own?”
“There’s that… or we could talk about how lucky she is that she chose the northbound train.” I put my hand on his shoulder in an attempt to calm him, but he actually shrugged away from me.
“I’m sorry, Sookie. I just need a minute.”
“Fine. Can I keep talking though? Your driving is kinda freaking me out.”
“That depends. Are you going to try to make me feel better?”
I did my best to make my voice seem playful. “Did I hear you tell Alcide to wear something pretty for you?”
He tried really hard to not smile. “Damn it, Sookie!”
“You told him ‘kisses’.” He snorted instead of laughing. “Thank you.”
“Joking around made her feel better, less scared of everything… and there’s the fact that you’ve been trying.” As much as he could.
“I promised to try.” By my calculations, we were ahead of schedule since he was trying instead of still faking it. The best part was that he wasn’t still pissed about poor Angela’s situation.
“Y’alls bromance better not interfere with the wedding.”
“Bromance? I don’t think you have to worry about that. I think Pam and Alcide could be a good match. It would make sense that our counterparts…”
I corrected, “Best friends.”
“Agreed. It would make sense that they might, as a minimum be sociable.” Nevermind that part of Eric would feel better if Alcide weren’t single.
“Well then, I hope they like each other as much as we do.”
He agreed with a nod, but he was quiet for a minute… until he realized that I’d totally tricked him out of his rage-bender.
He smirked at the road and found my hand to give it a gentle squeeze, “Thank you.”