Keep It In The Family
As tempting as it was to use Hadley to remedy what Sookie had done to me, I opted for a different brand of entertainment.
Knowing perfectly well that Hadley could be glamoured, I walked into the house I used for recreational purposes with every intention of getting as much information from Hadley as possible…
And I was hardly acknowledged.
She was sitting in the living room that was only lit by the television… arms folded with her leg twitching violently… the sullen look on her face completed her high curmudgeon. The display might have been more impressive if she hadn’t bathed as I told her to before I left Glamour.
Given that she barely glanced in my direction when I walked in, I waited, assuming I’d finally see how Hadley wore jealousy because she knew I’d been with her cousin.
She finally turned off the television during a commercial break and scoffed, “Have fun with Sookie?”
Up until the point when her grandmother interrupted, yes.
“So much that I plan to see her again tomorrow night.”
“Sookie Stackhouse? Why the fuck would you want to see that little freak again?”
“Don’t be catty, Hadley… You do know you aren’t really my type, don’t you?”
I corrected, “Flesh… I prefer thighs I can sink my teeth into without hitting bone.”
“Pshhhhh… I’ve seen the girls you take to your office. I’m not even close to the skinniest.”
I was suddenly thinking about the way Sookie’s thighs felt on my lap, how her ass filled my hands…
“Fucked and sent on their way… because there wasn’t anything to snuggle.” Among other things.
Hadley gasped, “Asshole! You aren’t perfect either!”
“Oh really? Care to air a grievance?”
“You need a fucking tan.”
I chuckled, “I’d be perfect if I had a tan, yes?”
“Maybe some manscaping… and since we’re being picky assholes, you’re heavy-handed as fuck… and you always do the same damn thing… blow job, thigh diving, doggie style, goodnight.”
“Thanks for the advice… I doubt Sookie will mind that I’m heavy-handed as aggressive as she is, and I’m not particularly a fan of doggie style, but you look like a blowfish and whine when you cum. Looking at your boney ass is definitely preferable.”
“Good luck with Sookie then… Her nickname is Princess Blue Balls. The first guy to fuck that lard-assed goody-two-shoes will be front-page news.”
That was classy.
Even when Sookie insulted Hadley, she wasn’t as crass…
“That’s not a very flattering way to talk about your family.”
“I don’t care. I told you we don’t get along… She’s crazy and antisocial… And I thought we had a good thing going, but I’m not down with sharing with my cousin. That’s creepy anyway, but with her… Fuck that noise. And the funny part is that you’re gonna get sick of her before she even puts out.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Because she’s creepy as hell… She’ll know all your fucking secrets in two seconds… and she’ll judge the shit out of you for them.”
Actually, Sookie already knew most of what she could ‘judge the shit out of’ me for, and… she told me to bring a book when I visited her again.
“I’ll take my chances with Sookie… When did you decide you had an opinion on who I fuck?”
“When my cousin became an option for you.”
“Is that why you hesitated to have her size me up?”
Hadley’s gasp was so animated, she might have made the house smaller. “She told you!?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
Given that her chin was already bouncing as she couldn’t gather her thoughts, I pulled my phone from my pocket and called Sookie.
After several rings, she panted, “Hello!?”
“Erik? Is something wrong?”
Yes. I was with Hadley instead of Sookie.
I teased, “I miss you already,” Hadley began scowling at me.
“Oh my God! Don’t call people so late. I thought something bad happened.”
“What is my phone curfew then?”
It was easy to imagine Sookie nibbling her lip as she hummed. “Well, 9:00 is pretty much ‘rude o’clock’, but after 11:00, is a guaranteed heart attack.”
“I’ll take that into consideration then. Feel free to call me any time.”
“Wow. Thanks for that… Did you just call to flirt?”
“No, but I’m curious about why you’re panting. Were you thinking about me?”
She scoffed, “I was putting out the garbage and had to run inside to answer the phone.”
“That isn’t very exciting. You should have lied to me.”
“Erik! Would you get to why you called?”
“It occurred to me, now that I’m in Hadley’s company… You mentioned your aunt’s fantasies.”
“What? You mean the ones where Hadley stops partying and grows the hell up?”
“Yes… Repeated glamouring could damage her mind, so… I’m asking if you’d like me to tinker a bit.”
“You’re asking if I want her reprogramed.”
“Not a complete brainwashing or anything as fantastic as that. I can encourage her towards specific behaviors though.”
Sookie was silent for a moment while she considered my offer… meanwhile Hadley scoffed, “I don’t think you’re funny. Even I think it’s tacky as shit for you to flirt with my cousin while you’re with me.”
Sookie snickered and breathed, “Holy shit, Erik. You found a line to cross. We didn’t think she had any.”
“I don’t think she does. She’s just jealous of you…”
Hadley’s eyes bulged and she threw a sofa pillow at me and shouted, “Asshole!”
I continued, “She didn’t appreciate hearing that I think you’re much more interesting and beautiful than she is.”
Sookie snorted, “You’re asking to be kneed in the junk. That’s actually really shitty for you to say in front of her.”
“She had her turn. I need a tan and manscaping. I’m heavy-handed and predictable.”
While Sookie giggled, Hadley pouted, “I’m outta here…” As she pushed herself from her chair, she grumbled, “Fucking bullshit. What? I’m a joke now? I knew I shouldn’t have called that freak…”
Hadley continued to slam and bang everything she came into contact with in the bedroom, having a conniption fit that was undoubtedly meant to inspire an apology from me.
She was wasting her energy on the wrong ‘guy’.
I asked Sookie, “What’s the verdict on Hadley’s glamour?”
“I don’t know… I mean… the perfect scenario would be for her to get a job in an office somewhere and chill out enough to be a decent mom…”
“So your family would prefer that she keep the baby, yes?”
Sookie took a deep breath and answered, “We’re all pro-choice, but if she put it on the table, the family would vote down an abortion just because we’d all help her as much as possible. The only ‘excuse’ she’d have to get an abortion would be if she doesn’t want it because, whether she believes it or not, we’d be there for her… But…”
When she didn’t finish, I urged, “But what?”
“Can you just leave that out so the choice is all hers? Getting her to buckle down is one thing, that’s for her own good, but… going either way on the baby-matter is… that makes my skin crawl.”
“When I glamour her, she’ll believe she’s been working at Glamour and crushing on me, and she’s leaving Glamour to find a more sedate position in an office setting. She’ll make a vested effort to respect the opinions and input of her family and immediately abandon irresponsible and promiscuous behavior.”
After a moment, Sookie breathed, “Wow… yeah, that sounds great.”
“Consider it done… You’ll be nude when I arrive tomorrow night, yes?”
The last thing I heard from Sookie before she hung up on me was a strange choking sound, but that was just before Hadley stormed through the living room to leave.
When she reached for the doorknob, I asked, “Where are you going?”
“Home. I don’t have to put up with this shit.”
“What about the baby?”
Hadley slammed her forehead against the back of the door and growled, “I’m going to kill her!”
“Why didn’t you just mention it to me?”
“Because we’re just fucking! There’s no damn difference between what we do and what I do with anyone else except that I know your name because you sign my checks… You’re only more likely because we fucked repeatedly instead of one-and-done.”
“In theory, but even that doesn’t hold water. I can’t possibly be the father.”
“Right. Which bullshit reason are you going to give? The last time, I heard ‘I only have one nut’.”
“You fucked a guy with a missing testicle?”
She still had her forehead against the back of the door when she scoffed, “When he was a baby something was wrong and it didn’t descend or whatever… It doesn’t matter. He only needed one. He broke a dry spell so I knew it was him… So… What’s your excuse? Childhood fever?”
I dropped my fangs, wanting to test her… if not document yet another difference between cousins.
“You could say that dying had something to do with it.”
She finally lifted her head to look at me, and when she did, she dropped her bag and backed into the corner.
She looked like she was very close to shitting in her pants.
I approached her slowly and asked, “Why are you afraid now after months of fucking me?”
“What… what are those!?”
“When. Did. You. Get. Them!?”
“Nearly a thousand years ago.”
“I’ve had them all along. Do you think I’ll harm you?”
“I think you’re gonna drink my blood!”
“I’ve already done that, but you haven’t noticed. Are you really frightened of me or are you frightened of what you don’t know about Vampires?”
As soon I was within arm’s reach of her, she fainted, and hit the floor like a chunk of lead.
I’d actually fed from Sookie…
But showing my fangs while behaving as nonthreateningly as possible caused enough anxiety for Hadley that she passed out…
I might be able to fill a book with the differences.
As soon as Hadley regained consciousness, I glamoured her to reform her behavior and showed her to her car so I could begin planning my ‘reading date’ with Sookie.
Rising an hour before sunset, I had plenty of time to confirm if Bobby had found his list items, berate him for failing to find something as simple as an outdoor lounge, shower while I hoped Bobby’s ‘plan B’ wasn’t a complete wash… and wonder what I’d find in Bon Temps when I arrived…
By the time I was pulling into the driveway, I was almost sure I’d see Sookie on the roof of the house with a hunting rifle…
But I wasn’t even lucky enough to find her waiting for me on the porch swing again.
Sookie’s car was there and the engine was still clicking as it cooled… and I could hear the shower running in the back of the house.
She was actually nude when I arrived though.
It was almost perfect that I’d have time to set up my new purchase while she bathed… It spared me from whatever argument the ‘prude’ might think to make about the hanging bed I was installing in the tree closest to the porch.
Hanging bed… installed.
Mosquito net… draped.
Yates books… in place.
Camping lanterns… charged.
All with time to spare… Sookie was still in the shower when I was finished.
Since I hadn’t been invited into the Stackhouse home yet, my fun was limited by the frosted window in the bathroom.
The outline of her body while she rinsed her hair was almost enough.
She gasped and dropped something when I tapped on the glass… and she nearly fell when she slid the window open because she wasn’t expecting to see me… which is probably why she hadn’t covered herself.
She leaned against the tiled wall and scoffed, “Why are you at the bathroom window?”
“I knocked on the front door for a while, but you didn’t hear me.”
“Bullshit. You came straight back here, didn’t you?”
“No. I was around front for fifteen minutes before trying the window.”
She stretched up to try to see out. “Sorry then… What the hell are you standing on?”
“Nothing. I’m hovering.”
I drifted away from the house far enough for her to see that I wasn’t making contact with the ground.
When I closed the gap again, I offered my hand. “Would you like to join me?”
She actually moved her hand as though she would… and then she remembered that she was nude.
“Maybe another time. The door’s unlocked. C’mon in. I’ll be done in just a sec.”
Without hesitation, I sped around the house to the front door and let myself in…
But when I reached the bathroom, Sookie had a wrapped a towel around her body and was tucking it into itself. She pouted her lip as she stepped out of the shower and cooed, “Poor Erik.”
She snickered, “How did I know you were going to do that?”
Because she paid attention.
“Because your grandmother isn’t here to protect you with the garden hose.”
She placed her hand in the middle of my chest and advanced, herding me back until I was past the bathroom threshold. “I’ll be out in a minute. We need to talk.”
When she opened the bathroom door again, she didn’t seem at all surprised to find me exactly where she left me.
Another snug tank top and microscopic pair of shorts.
“You could have waited in the living room.”
“But what if your grandmother had returned? Seeing me in her living room might have startled her.”
“Seeing you in the dark hallway on her way to the bathroom would have resulted in a mess… She’s at Aunt Linda’s house anyway, so there’s no telling when she’ll be back.”
I leaned over to wrap my hands around her thighs. “Oh really?”
As I lifted her, she argued, “Oh no you don’t… Put me down.”
“Your grandmother isn’t here, but you didn’t cancel our date.”
“Gran already knew you were coming over tonight. Deviating would make it seem like we know something.”
“For someone who hates lying, you’re very good at thinking of contingencies.”
“Thanks… Put me down.”
“Close your eyes.”
She snorted, “Not in a million years.”
“I have a surprise for you.”
“That wouldn’t be a surprise… The surprise is outside.”
“Are you actually going to take me outside, or will you take me to the closest bed as soon as I fall for it?”
I chuckled, “When you close your eyes, I’ll carry you outside to the surprise.”
“Would you be willing to lead me outside with my eyes covered?”
“I could do that, but you might stumble. It isn’t on the porch. It’s further into the yard.”
She stared at me for a moment before sighing, “God help me,” and closing her eyes… She even reached up to hold my neck as though there was any risk of me dropping her.
As soon as I started walking, she asked, “Do I get a hint?”
“No… And you missed a loophole. You didn’t ask if the surprise was a bed.”
She giggled, “Oops. What was I thinking?”
She clearly thought I’d been joking until her back touched the mattress. She kept her eyes closed in spite of her confusion…
I couldn’t help but enjoy the view from my knees. Even the concerned little crease between her eyebrows was a tease until I told her she could open her eyes.
Her eyes were impossibly wide while she looked around me as much as she could. She breathed, “What is this? Like a papasan swing?”
It was much larger than any papasan chair I’d ever seen, and flatter…
She moved to inch out from under me, but it seemed like her only reason was the floating bed.
“I think it’s an amalgamation of sorts. The base is strung like a hammock so water isn’t trapped in the upholstery.”
She crawled to the side, making the bed sway slightly, moving the pillows around, and inspecting the lanterns.
“This is like the best reading spot ever… the mosquito net is awesome… it’s a good thing Gran’s gone. She would have helped you put it up just so she could try to call dibs.”
Bobby suddenly had a stay of execution. He was lucky I hadn’t decided to kill him before I left Shreveport.
“I think there’s room for both of you when I’m not here to ‘call dibs’ on you… Does this count as a room?”
Sookie blushed and tossed a pillow at me. “No. I don’t think it does.”
“Oh well. I tried…” I tilted my head towards the opening and asked, “Thirsty?”
She crawled towards the edge of the bed to look out, finding the cooler that doubled as a step. She chose a bottle of juice and giggled as she closed the mosquito net again.
“I could freaking live out here… No joke… I’ll only need to go inside for books and bathroom breaks.”
“It isn’t what I initially wanted, but I’m pleased that you like it.”
“Happy accident then. Thank you… Did you want an outdoor bed?”
“Yes… something you could sunbathe on. It’s backordered.”
She snickered, “I’m so not surprised, but this is better because I won’t get carried away by bugs, and I can still get sun.”
“The tree this is hanging from provides too much shade for that.”
“Only mid-day… you don’t want me sunbathing then anyway. Wouldn’t the smell waft away or whatever? I’d get plenty of sun right here in the last couple of hours before sunset.”
“And what was it we need to talk about?”
“Did you change your mind about the details?”
She shook her head and took a sip from her drink… and then looked over the bed again…
She finally started, “I could tell you glamoured her.”
“How is that?”
“I’m a mind reader.”
I chuckled, “Oh really? Then you know she fainted when I tested her reaction to my fangs.”
“Why would you go and do a stupid thing like that? I told you she’s a closed-minded nitwit.”
“I was curious… and I wanted to see how exaggerated her reaction would be. You took the news very calmly. I don’t think you would have had much reaction at all if I hadn’t fed from you.”
“Oh, I would have had a reaction, but I would have been all up in your business… I still have questions.”
“We’ll get to that… Her mind wasn’t right. She came to see me at work today and asked me to keep an eye out for baby stuff. When people leave stuff behind in storage units, we can do whatever we want with it.”
“I didn’t as much as mention the pregnancy when I glamoured her.”
Sookie nodded. “Thank you… but that’s not what I’m getting at… When I asked her why she wanted the baby stuff, she told me she’s pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is… and then she said she’s going to quit Glamour as soon as she finds an office job… That’s when her thoughts changed. She went from having normal thoughts to having… I guess you can call it ‘etching’. It seemed like her master plan was tattooed or burned into her brain… So congrats on that, but… it’s the same weirdness I picked up on when anyone mentioned her job at Glamour… Specifically, whenever anyone congratulated her for sticking with a job long enough to replace the car she wrecked. Erik, Hadley’s been glamoured before.”
Where the fuck was I supposed to start?
“How is it that you came to read minds?”
“I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember… I don’t know what it is about you, but I can’t hear your thoughts. I think I might be getting a grasp of when you’re full of crap though… It’s why Hadley wanted me to get a bead on you. She was hoping you’d interview me thinking about how much you like her so she’d know how to proceed with the baby thing.”
“She called you a freak. She said you’d know all of my secrets in two seconds …”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah… She hates it. She keeps her distance from me whenever possible. I only really see her for Sunday suppers. It’s how I knew she was seeing you and what you look like, because she hasn’t said a word about you.”
“But you haven’t heard my thoughts?”
“No. Your mind changes a lot, a range of grays, with surges like someone’s shaken a snow globe or something, but no actual thoughts.”
“You’re a mind reader?”
“You know, part of me was hoping, since I know how old you are, that you came across it before, maybe even knew what the hell caused it… Oh well… Yeah. Sookie Stackhouse: mind reader.”
“You could be playing a prank. It seems very convenient that you can’t read my mind.”
She shrugged, “We could go to Merlotte’s and I can tell you every secret in Bon Temps. You’d be bored to tears though.”
“I wouldn’t know if you’re lying or not.”
She clicked her tongue and grumbled, “Good point,” before staring out into the yard as though the answer was waiting there.
I was effectively on pins and needles, waiting for her next move.
She finally whimpered and pushed herself to her knees. “I thought of something, but I’m pissed that we need to leave.”
“What did you think of?”
“We’ll run up to the Grabbit Kwik. You can go in and buy a few things, even drop a few words of wisdom on the cashier. When you come out, I’ll tell you what you were up to.”
Reasonable enough… but I didn’t want to leave the swing either.
“If I already believe you, do we have to leave?”
She grumbled, “But you’re still curious. C’mon. Let’s get this over with so we can test drive this thing…” Before I could make any suggestions of my own, she quickly added, “For reading.”
Touching people amplified her ability, which was why she didn’t shake or take my hand when we met. It wasn’t until we were in my office that she realized she couldn’t hear my thoughts because until then, she was using what she called shields…
Her ability was also why she wasn’t interested in working at a busy night club… and why she knew Hadley didn’t know I’m a Vampire. As harmless as Sookie’s ability was, Hadley was terrified of her.
I really did believe her, if for no better reason than, because it seemed like a ridiculous claim if it weren’t true… but Sookie was right about my curiosity.
And she certainly rose to the occasion…
When I returned to my car after making my Grabbit Kwik purchases, Sookie had her eyes closed even though I’d parked around the side of the building so she couldn’t see anything I’d chosen…
“A four-pack of Bartles & Jaymes Fuzzy Navels, a three-pack of Magnums, a Hustler, a tie-dyed dew-rag, a pouch of cashews, and Maudette gave you her phone number.”
I couldn’t help myself…
I went back into the Grabbit Kwik to buy another armful of test items…
When I returned to the car, Sookie held her finger over the door lock so I couldn’t escape and giggled, “A can of Fix-A-Flat, two ‘Strike It Rich’ scratch tickets, strawberry daiquiri wine coolers this time, candy orange slices, peach buds, and a pack of honey straws… You also told Maudette your name is Tyson and you gave her his number… with an Irish accent that made her weak in the knees.”
She smirked and reached for the paper bag. “Gimmie those orange slices.”
“You heard all of that from the mind of the cashier?”
She nodded and ripped open the bag of candy. “You’re sex on a stick, and she’s hoping you come back for something else. She’s watching to see what you drive…”
“That’s phenomenal. You’re really a telepath.”
She giggled as she nibbled an orange slice. “Says the flying Vampire. Can we go back now? I’ve got this cool new reading spot that needs to be broken in.”
I started the car and asked, “Through walls?”
She raised an eyebrow at me. “Because the rest isn’t weird enough? Yeah, through walls…”
“Not weird. Impressive… Is anyone else in your family telepathic?”
“Nope. Just me… Poor Jason used to get into fights sticking up for his freakazoid sister all the time. Hadley and my mother were freaked out by it for as long as I can remember. My mother just wanted me to be normal, but Hadley likes to lie, and I haven’t ever had any problem calling her on it… Jason’s not really crazy about it, but mostly because he likes some privacy and being around me makes him think about things he wants to keep to himself. He catch-22s himself. I generally try to stay out of people’s heads, but the ole bullshit meter’s come in handy almost as much as it’s gotten in the way.”
“Your grandmother and aunt know too?”
“Most of Bon Temps knows. Gran and Aunt Linda are the only ones who aren’t freaked out by it to some extent. I tell you what, some days I want to start writing blackmail letters. Everyone’s paranoid about their ‘big secret’… So… back to the reason for all this… now that you know I can actually read minds… Hadley was glamoured before. Did you do it?”
“I held her attention so she wouldn’t remember feedings. I told you that though.”
“Why would that have come up when… Okay, the last time I noticed that sizzle in her mind was during Sunday supper a month or so ago. Aunt Linda asked Gran how she liked her car and mentioned that Hadley had almost saved up enough to buy her own.”
“There definitely doesn’t seem to be a connection… Could Hadley have bought the car from a Vampire? If she went to his resting place to purchase it, then he probably glamoured the address from her memory.”
She shook her head and nibbled another candy. “I doubt it. Gran knows the previous owner from the DGD. Her son sold it because she’s going senile. Poor thing would forget how to get home from the same grocery store she’s been using for decades. She’s reported it stolen four times already, so Gran drives the most famous car in Bon Temps right now.”
“I can’t begin to guess… Last night was the first time I glamoured her to forget anything or to alter her behavior.”
“I believe you. I just want to know who else was tinkering in her brain… You said you know the other Vampires in the area. Is it possible someone was glamouring her for info about you? If someone caught wind of your standing date…”
“I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Can you glamour her to find out who else glamoured her?”
I shook my head. “I doubt that would work. I know a Witch that might be able to help Hadley regain her memory of being glamoured, but it would probably null my glamour. I’d need to redo it. I’ll call her to find out.”
“A Witch, huh?”
“Asks the telepath?”
“Touché, but in my defense, I’m only 19 and just found out about Vampires last night. Bite me- oh wait- you already did that.”
She punctuated her comment by blowing a raspberry at me… I was almost sure the grudge she had over that event was dissipating.
Sookie hardly waited for me to stop my car before she grabbed the bags from Grabbit Kwik and ran to the floating bed…
The wine coolers were placed in the cooler, save one, and she kept the cashews as well… She then proceeded to make herself comfortable on her stomach with a pillow tucked under her chest.
It wasn’t until she reached for the stack of books, and I was already joining her, that she thought of something…
She’d forgotten to grab her book.
She trudged into the house, grumbling under her breath about getting ahead of herself, and she was gone for longer than I thought was necessary to just fetch a book. It wasn’t as though the Stackhouse home was sprawling by any stretch of the imagination…
She emerged from the house again with two books and a plate.
“I think I covered my bases… I used the bathroom, made a sandwich and grabbed extra reading material. My bed’s going to forget me if the weather holds out, I swear.”
“Are you not scheduled to work tomorrow?”
“Nope. Thursday and Friday are my weekends… but I do have an interview at Merlotte’s Friday morning… Funny story- I think Hadley already slept with that guy too.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because Mr. Merlotte danced naked across her mind when I mentioned the interview. It could just be that she considered it, but who knows with her.”
“After what you did at the convenience store, I think you’re selling yourself short to consider waiting tables. You could make much more than minimum wage with your ability.”
“Oh really? Like how?”
“Off the top of my head, I think you could do well at casinos.”
“I’m not even old enough to get into a casino.”
“You can work in a casino at 18, but it wouldn’t be an imposition to provide you with a fake ID. I’d pay salary and you’ll be able to keep your winnings.”
“You have a casino?”
“The Red River in Shreveport is mine. Would you care to audition?”
She shook her head. “No. I’d have to leave the swing.”
I chuckled, “Tomorrow night. You’ll need to leave once in a while just so you don’t suffer any atrophy.”
She cringed and nodded towards her car. “I have a decent reason to be worried about the commute.”
“I think you’re underestimating your earning potential based on the common perception of your ability, Sookie… I’ll give you five thousand dollars in chips tomorrow night…”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“You’ll repay me, and keep your winnings. I’m almost sure you’ll walk away with enough to buy a more reliable car for your commute.”
“You seem pretty sure of that.”
“You said you already have an idea when I’m full of crap, yes?”
She took a deep breath and sighed, “And you’re completely serious…”
“Actually, I was suggesting you’d have an excellent idea of the inner-workings of your opponents.”
Her eyes widened. “I hadn’t even thought of that.”
“I’ll send a car for you tomorrow night and meet you at the Red River at sunset. You’ll lose nothing by trying. Think about it.”
“You want me to work for you while you’re trying to sleep with me?”
“Technically, I’m trying to fuck you since I don’t sleep… but I don’t own the only casino in Shreveport. If you’re worried that my interest in you has anything to do with my offer, remember that you could move on to another casino at any time. Either way, Merlotte’s will still be there.”
She whimpered, “I had to ask.”
“You would have been a fool not to… It could be a while before you learn how to detect if I’m offended. It doesn’t happen often. I know plenty of people and Vampires who would make the offer with strings attached.”
“Why aren’t you?”
“Because hiring a telepathic loss-prevention specialist for my casino is windfall enough. As far as I’m concerned, the delicious little bibliophile and the talented telepath might as well be two separate individuals.”
She stared at her lap for a moment before asking, “So you think I should… what, like play blackjack and look for card-counters and hustlers?”
“No. If you play blackjack, you’ll rob me blind. Play poker while scanning other gamblers for card-counters and hustlers.”
She snickered with a cringe on her face. “Gotcha… That could be too much for me though. I’m not used to scanning. I usually try to block.”
“Could you concentrate on a table with a handful of other players?”
“Yeah. That wouldn’t be a problem.”
“Then tomorrow night you’ll focus on the games we play. If you can stretch your ability to other parts of the casino, even briefly, then you’ll know practice is in order. As quiet as this town is, and as much as Hadley paints you as a loner, it’s possible that you only need to exercise.”
She nibbled her lip and smiled at her lap. “Okay… I’ll give it a shot… no promises though.”
Convincing her to industrialize her ability had been easier than I thought… I wasn’t proud of myself yet, but it seemed like a waste for her to pump beer when she could do nearly anything else with her ability.
She made herself comfortable on her stomach again and began reading her book while nibbling her sandwich and sipping the wine coolers she wasn’t old enough to buy….
And I barely managed to read the first fucking chapter while her feet, her fucking feet, continually distracted me.
She’d bent her legs and every fucking time she moved them, I looked up from my book…
She hadn’t bothered with shoes even when we left the house to prove her gift because she planned to stay in my car.
Crossing and re-crossing her legs at the ankle, relaxing either of her legs enough for a heel to rest on her ass, occasionally hiding them under the edge of a cushion…
I didn’t even feed from ankles often.
And the only thing to distract me was Adele Stackhouse’s homecoming… and that was because Sookie sat up.
The woman was clearly unhappy when she left her car, but it was obvious that her mood wasn’t caused by my presence or the large piece of furniture hanging from her tree… in fact, it seemed like she tried to ignore her mood to greet me.
“Mr. Nordmann, nice to see you again.”
Sookie pushed herself over to sit much closer to me and patted the swing as her grandmother’s invitation. “We might need walkie-talkies so you don’t have to yell for me. I don’t plan to come inside for a while.”
Adele offered a half smile as she joined us. “Why would I need to yell from here?”
Sookie giggled, “So what’s up at Aunt Linda’s that all I got was a note?”
“Yeah, uh oh… I’m going to be a great-grandmother.”
Sookie sighed, “I don’t guess you’re talking about your usual display of awesomeness, huh?”
“No… Hadley considered an abortion, but when she decided to ‘give it a try’, she made the announcement by waking her mother up this morning… Hadley wants to get a quiet job in an office, so Linda’s beau said he’d find a place for her at his construction company… She’s got until April to buckle down.”
“That’s an awfully short synopsis after you were over there all day.”
“We didn’t do as much talking as we did busy work… You know your aunt. We went through half of Shakespeare on tape while we made candles… She’s not ready to be a grandma… That vain woman actually said ‘grannys don’t have legs like this’…”
Sookie giggled, “They really don’t.”
Adele continued, “But she was willing to admit that if you were the one pregnant, she’d be knitting already. She’s not ready to be a grandmother because Hadley doesn’t have any business being a mother…”
Sookie sighed, “We’re not going to do this though, right? She hasn’t even had a chance to screw up. You can’t try and convict Hadley of crimes she hasn’t committed yet. Even Aunt Linda was wild until Hadley came along. Why do I have to remind you that Daddy’s the only reason Aunt Linda didn’t try to invent a car seat for a motorcycle?”
Adele huffed, “Good point.”
“It’s not going to do Hadley any damn favors to remind her of all the stuff she screwed up. How many times have you seen an overwhelmed mom in public and said ‘confidence is 90% of the job’? Making a baby sound like cold fusion is just going to make her think the job’s impossible… Damn it, Gran. I don’t even like Hadley. Don’t make me her campaign manager.”
Adele gave a little laugh. “You win. We should’ve had our pow-wow at Belangers so you could set us straight… So other than hanging my new reading swing, what have y’all been up to?”
I had an excellent view of Sookie’s ass while she reached into the cooler to give her grandmother a wine cooler and grab another one for herself. “I’m trying not to rattle apart…” She sipped her drink and huffed, “Telling Erik about my ability didn’t scare him off.”
Adele grinned and cooed, “Obviously.”
“And he talked me into trying to use it… telepathy… He’s taking me to his casino tomorrow night. He thinks I might be able to make better money finding cheaters than waiting tables.”
She reached over and slapped Sookie’s thigh before she left the swing.
Sookie laughed as her grandmother stormed towards the house. “It’s your job to be positive! He’s the only person who knows and hasn’t run for the hills.”
Adele grumbled, “Get the candles out of my trunk when you come in so they don’t melt in the morning.”
Sookie cackled, “Come on! You know it was only easy for him to talk me into it because of you… And he came up with an idea that could actually be executed.”
Just before the woman closed the door behind herself, she paused to blow a raspberry at Sookie.
Sookie shook her head. “She’s not really angry. She’s just frustrated because…” She stopped to roll her eyes and shake her head. “She’s still complaining.”
“She’s mentally chiding you?”
“The best idea she’s had is me working for the police because I wouldn’t just be a lie detector, but I could save a lot of man-hours by hearing exactly where to look for evidence or whatever… but how the hell am I supposed to do that? Walk into the police station and tell somebody I can read minds?”
“You’re more likely to be carried out in a strait jacket than be offered a job.”
“I know, right? So… it’s just that I haven’t had the opportunity to do anything with it… Gran’s pretty quick too… I’m surprised she didn’t raise an eyebr-”
Before Sookie could finish her thought, Adele Stackhouse opened the front door and asked, “What are you?”
Sookie snickered under her breath, “There it is.”
At least Sookie was amused.
As Adele charged in our direction, she shook her head and scoffed, “Everyone’s scared of that poor girl as soon as they know what she can do. What are you?”
Sookie offered, “I can’t read his mind, Gran. He’s just safe.”
Sookie nudged my leg and shrugged. “She raised a mind reader.”
That didn’t mean she would take to Vampires or keep her mouth shut.
Hopefully Adele was just as glamourable as Hadley.
I nodded as Sookie’s cue and prepared myself to catch Adele and glamour her.
Sookie sighed, “He’s a Vampire, Gran. He’s not freaked out because he’s seen much weirder stuff.”
Adele stared back at Sookie as though she was waiting for the real answer.
“Really, Gran. Erik’s a Vampire.”
Adele placed her hands on her hips and snorted, “Oh really? Which ones?”
Sookie answered, “None of the above. Dorian Gray, minus the painting, plus fangs, multiplied by the power of blood…”
That was one way to put it.
“The other hooey?”
What other hooey?
“He’s super strong and fast.”
Adele teased, “And an excellent kisser?”
Sookie’s face turned beet-red in an instant. “Yeah. That too.”
“Do his fangs get in the way?”
When Sookie slapped her hands over her face as though they could hide her, I dropped my fangs and offered, “I can control them.”
She gasped and took one step back, but then she actually leaned into the swing to get a better look.
“You’re really a Vampire?”
I nodded. “Last time I checked.”
“Do you know why you’re a Vampire?”
Odd question, but then again, the whole situation was odd. Why the fuck wasn’t Adele Stackhouse frightened?
“How old are you? Have you been around the block enough to know why Sookie can read minds?”
“I’m a thousand years old, give or take… Other than her ability, Sookie seems Human to me.”
“What… What else is there? Vampires, Humans, annnnnnnd…”
“The majority are Shifters, Daemons, Faeries, and Witches… There are scattered oddities that usually end up being a bizarre genetic recipe…”
“Have you heard of Potnia Theron?”
“Mistress of the Animals, right? From the Iliad. ”
The fact that she was familiar with such an obscure concept was impressive by itself.
“A combination of Shifter and Dae… It’s not a common coupling, and only the female offspring have the ability to call to beasts, and only if she’s the first-born. What’s more, they shift and wouldn’t know they have the ability unless they’re identified by another of their kind. The last one I met thought she was simply ‘good with animals’ for the first fifty years of her life.”
“The Pied Piper of Hamlin rid the town of rats… Was he really a she?”
There was a camera hidden somewhere.
“He was a Witch… But some of the biblical plagues are the handy work of Potnia Theron.”
She nodded astutely for a moment before blurting, “Bombay blood! That’s Supernatural, isn’t it!?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Because it’s ‘only in Bombay’. How does that happen with migration and immigration and breeding? Whatever it is, was just ‘almost caught’. I’m right, aren’t I?”
I chuckled, “Elves. They’re easily confused with Human midgets.”
Sookie whispered to correct me, “I think people with Dwarfism prefer to be called ‘little people’.”
“That’s silly. What difference does it make? Midget, Dwarf, Little Person… it all means the same. They’re all pitiably short. Political correctness is getting out of hand. What’s next, vertically incomplete? Can we start calling fat people dimensionally abundant?”
She shrugged and giggled, “Maybe you feel that way because there’s nothing to tease you about. I’m broke and from the sticks, but I prefer ‘country girl’ to ‘white trash’.”
“Fair enough, but…”
Adele Stackhouse interrupted my debate with Sookie by pushing the swing hard enough to make it rock and turning for the house again. “Don’t tell me anymore. I don’t want to know if I can’t tell anyone!” I started chuckling at her but she stopped on the porch to turn around. “Wait- one more… Der Butzemann. Was he a Vampire?”
“He still is. Any time there was a rogue Vampire in the Old World who preyed on children, der Butzemann rumors were circulated. Bogeyman became the Anglicized adaptation… It worked for centuries. The most prolific der Butzemann, the origin of the lore, lived in Hamburg for a long time, and he went on hunting trips in the German low country when he craved children. He’d travel from village to village for a few weeks at a time… A couple of centuries ago, a political move was made that pushed him back to Kiel, and made him too paranoid to leave his home to feed. I understand he feeds from his servants now.”
“If everyone knows who he is, why is he still alive? He could have made a lot of trouble for the rest of y’all.”
“Because the motherfucker is a King.”
She nodded before she whimpered and went inside grumbling a barrage of pseudo-profanity in her frustration over seeing into Pandora’s Supernatural Box.
Sookie snickered, “She won’t tell anyone, but I understand if you need to glamour her.”
I wasn’t sure I wanted to… it would take the fun out of her reaction for me. And I definitely understood Adele’s temptation to call someone… My mental list of friends I would have called started with Pam, but they would all think I was mad for leaving the woman’s memory intact for the time being.
“I’ll consider it… Why didn’t she ask if I’m feeding from you?”
“Because she trusts me to say something. It’s not like I have a problem complaining about anything.”
“But you were angry last night and hadn’t said anything to her before I arrived.”
“I was trying to settle down and wait for my brain to stop arguing with itself.”
“And you didn’t say anything after I left because I’m an excellent kisser, yes?”
Sookie rolled her eyes and groaned, “Oh boy, here we go… I knew you’d stop behaving eventually.”
“You’re lucky I lasted this long. How many chapters did you read while I read the same paragraph over and over…?”
She snorted, “Eighty-ish pages, I guess? I didn’t do anything. I was just reading.”
I reached out for her ankle and sighed, “This foot. How the fuck did your foot distract me repeatedly?”
She gasped and yanked her leg away. “I don’t know… Do you have a thing for feet?”
“No. I’ve never had a preference for a single anatomical area. I do prefer long hair, but I’m getting used to shorter trends finally.”
“Women started bobbing their hair in the 1920s, right?”
“Women of standing, yes. Lower classes tended to wear their hair shorter for comfort and hygiene. Are you trying to change the subject?”
I reached for her foot again and pulled it onto my lap. “What should we talk about then?”
“Can’t we go back to reading?”
“Did you miss that I wasn’t reading? You can read. I want to play.”
“With my foot?”
“It’s a start…”
She tried to pull her foot back, so I ran my finger over her sole, making her whole body twitch.
She scowled at me and warned, “I’ll. Get. You.”
I chuckled, “Promise?” at her seriousness, and ran my fingers over the back of her calf…
It was a very good thing the swing was so well padded… and was hanging from a strong branch…
The way she contorted and writhed shook the tree hard enough to cause a storm of leaves and acorns…
She whined and kicked her free leg, and threatened me, and tried to grab my hand as though I was trying to kill her… and I hadn’t even touched her above the knee…
The only reason I stopped was because she seemed very close to hyperventilating…
And that was my downfall.
She didn’t bother trying to free her leg, but without the thrashing and squirming she could control herself enough to sit up…
And her hands went directly into my armpits…
I didn’t even realize I was ticklish until I was looking up at Sookie’s victorious grin…
And she was more relentless than I’d been, perhaps because I don’t need to breathe, but…
The only positive was that while I was trying to escape without hurting Sookie, she’d climbed on top of me and straddled my stomach.
What saved me was Adele…
Sookie stopped tickling me when she realized Adele had left the house again. She didn’t move, leaving me to look up at her grandmother with my head inches from the woman’s legs.
Adele’s hands were on her hips when she scoffed, “I almost bought it.”
“That I’m a Vampire?”
She nodded. “Sookie told you about the pondering we do about Supernatural things we read about, right?”
“No. She didn’t coach me.”
I chuckled at her persistence and offered, “Also known as ghouls… Daemon blood is toxic. If Vampires consume it, we decompose at an alarming rate. Our motor and brain function deteriorate and the zombies you see in movies are actually very accurate dramatizations of what happens to us. Our teeth and hair fall out. Our skin turns gray. We wander like retards, rarely attacking anyone because within moments we’re just moving because we can, until dawn kills us or someone takes pity and stakes or beheads us. If the Zombie in question is contained, it only lasts a few nights. Zombie hordes are a product of fiction.”
The color drained from Adele’s face. “That’s horrible.”
“Yet, Daemons are relatively comfortable with that facet of their being. And their blood isn’t the least bit tempting to us. If Daemons tasted like Faeries, then there would be Zombie hordes… Do you know how to take a pulse?”
I held my arm up and offered, “Good luck.”
Adele took my wrist and moved her fingers to several new locations while she searched for a pulse she wouldn’t find… and Sookie was scowled at for giggling at her grandmother when she released my wrist and put her fingers to my neck…
I finished, “Dead.”
“What’s Sookie then?”
Sookie giggled, “A tickle-monster,” and wiggled her fingers in my armpits again.
When I twitched, Adele asked, “Vampires are ticklish?”
Sookie wiggled her fingers again and answered, “This one is.”
I growled, “This one is about to fight back.”
“You started it. You tickled first.”
Adele scoffed, “But who’s on top? You said he’s strong and fast. You better be smart enough to realize he’s taking it easy on you.”
That was practically an invitation to retaliate.
While Sookie gave her grandmother a surprised look, I took advantage of the opportunity…
I flipped us over, taking the top, and pinning Sookie’s hands to the mattress over her head.
She scoffed, “Thanks a lot, Gran! I was winning!”
Adele turned for the house and laughed to herself, “I know when I’m not wanted.”
“Gran! You come back here…”
“Good night, you two. Don’t wake the neighbors.”
“Gran! Get back here and help me!” When her grandmother ignored her, she looked at me and warned, “My bladder’s full of wine coolers. You can’t get too carried away.”
I chuckled, “She left you pinned under a vengeful Vampire.”
She turned her head to shout at the house, “And she’s totally off my Christmas card list!”
While Adele laughed quietly in her house, I asked, “Any famous last words?”
She stared at me for a moment before breathing, “Yeah, come closer…” I leaned over, prepared for a countermove, but I didn’t expect for her to catch my earlobe between her teeth.
“Ballsy move, biting a Vampire.”
“This isn’t biting. This is nibbling.”
The way she breathed into my ear…
“Then you might be nibbling off more than you can chew.”
She released my ear and scoffed, “What happened to all that talk about biting you last night then?”
“You’re still welcome to bite me, but we should probably discuss your boundaries.”
She growled, “Because I’m a prude?”
“Because I’m not.”
“Why do we need to discuss it? Why can’t we just…”
“Just… just… fool around a little… Does it have to be all or nothing?”
“No, but I need to brace myself for stopping short… It’s less painful… Sookie?”
She cringed like she knew what I was going to ask. “What?”
“You ‘don’t do physical contact’.”
She whined, “Are you going to make fun of me?”
No. I was going to notify the press that there was a completely fuckable virgin left on the planet.
“No. I’m going to brace myself for a miserable case of blue balls.”
She started squirming to get away from me. “God no… I’m sorry. I don’t want…” She looked like she would start crying if I didn’t do something to stop it.
I released her wrists, but I stayed where I was.
“You’re assuming I’m as impatient as the boys who started calling you Princess Blue Balls, yes?”
“Oh… my… God… I’m gonna kill Hadley.”
“She isn’t worth the trouble… What do we do about this?”
“My lack of boundaries and your lack of experience.”
“I still want to know why we have to talk about it.”
To prove my point, I leaned over to push her top out of my way and grab her nipple between my teeth…
I was expecting her to complain that I’d crossed a line, but…
Judging by the way she wrapped her arms around my head, my plan was flawed.
And it all fell apart.
Every bit of control I thought I had… every plan I had to behave…
It was her fault though.
I know all I would have needed would be for her to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’, but…
When she pulled my hair, she pulled me closer.
When she lifted her legs, she wrapped them around mine.
The wine coolers had only sweetened her lips instead of tainted them.
She rubbed. She clawed. She nibbled…
Even as I slid my hand between her legs, I was only given a warning look…
No ‘nos’ or ‘stops’…. Gasping and whimpering my name.
And the way her fucking sweat tasted on her skin…
I knew I was going to regret it, but I was the one who pulled away…
And no sooner than my ass was on the mattress again, Sookie advanced to straddle my lap.
Because she was having fun.
I was trembling with the effort it took to keep from shredding her clothes, but she was having fun.
Before I could decide if I was a willing victim, she started chewing my neck… and pulling at my jeans…
She whispered a warning that she might need coaching because she didn’t know what she was doing and as soon as her warm hand took hold of my cock, I realized I’d only seen the tip of the torture iceberg.
“Sookie, how often do you drink?” My voice was much closer to a whine than I expected.
She breathed, “I don’t,” but the way she raked her teeth over the side of my neck almost made me forget that I’d given a fuck about the fact that she’d had four wine coolers.
But I didn’t want to stop.
It was difficult enough to pull away the first time.
When I said her name to get her attention, she tightened her hand and gave a long slow pull…
What the fuck was I going to say?
Her argument consisted of, “Wouldn’t I know?” as she chewed her way to the other side of my neck.
“Last night, your grandmother caught us kissing and you were mortified. What if she comes outside during my hand job?”
Sookie stopped long enough to pull her top over her head and toss it aside. As she grabbed my cock again, she breathed, “She’s in bed with Northanger Abbey.”
Two perfectly pink nipples begging for attention…
I wanted to cry.
I took her wrists and held them together between us. “You were bashful enough earlier that you leaned against a cold tile wall to cover yourself…”
She gasped, “You’re going to be the bucket of ice water!?”
“I’d rather have blue balls than have you regret fucking me.”
“The guy who was ‘just fucking’ my cousin?”
The cousin who only had a standing date with me because of the taste of her blood…
I actually had fun with Sookie… and she was delicious. Sookie was worth more effort.
“Because that’s all your cousin had to offer, but if it makes you feel better, I’m going to regret stopping.”
She huffed, “So, what are you going to do? Go to Glamour and find something you can ‘just fuck’?”
“Get it out of my system, yes?”
She grumbled, “Something like that.”
“I could try, but I think I’d just leave wanting you more…” When I pulled her closer and licked her neck she shivered. “I think I’ll return to Shreveport, take an ice-water shower, pack a bag, and check into a suite at the Red River…”
“You’re going to go stag for the rest of the night?”
“And plan how we’ll ruin the suite tomorrow night when I’m not concerned that you’ll regret how uninhibited you are right now.”
“If you think I’m only going along now, then why get your hopes up for tomorrow night?”
“Because I’ll have the room stocked with wine coolers as back up.”
She pulled her wrists away from me to slap my shoulders and laugh, “How do you pull off ‘sweet asshole’?”
“You must be drunk… I’m anything but sweet.”
“You’re limping home to take a cold shower because I might have a buzz.”
“Don’t remind me… And put those away.”
She raised an eyebrow and snorted, “Fangs first.”
“My fangs aren’t going anywhere while you’re topless…”
When she giggled, they bounced… and I may or may not have whimpered.
“I need to leave.”
“You don’t seem married to the idea.”
“I’m being held down.”
She asked, “Really?” and went limp, leaning back to rest her shoulders on the mattress between my feet. “Think you can get away now?”
The way her ass rubbed against me was fucking horrible, but the look she gave me made me sure I was being punished.
I refused to walk away alone in frustration.
She giggled when I lifted her hips, but I moved slowly enough to enjoy the panic that flickered in her eyes as I pulled her little shorts to the side enough to steal a taste…
A recurring theme, I know, but her scent was painfully intense…
Her thighs clamped to my head while I rolled my tongue over her clit… Breathless squealing that could have been confused with how she sounded while I was tickling her…
I pushed her until I was sure she couldn’t be closer to cumming…
And then I tossed her to the mattress and darted for my car.
She shouted, “Erik Nordmann, you turd!”
Mission accomplished… She was just as close to a killing spree as I was.
“I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
She moped, “Not if one of us dies of frustration first,” and I almost went back to her.
If I hadn’t tried (and failed) to remember another time I was so eager for anything, I would have.
As it was, I corrected, “Anticipation,” and forced myself to leave.
It was a very good thing I’d be dead for thirteen hours of my wait.