Since she’d only been joking about leaving, she made no complaints when I had returned to my seat and kept her on my lap…
I was being greedy, but my curiosity as to how long she’d stay there was the perfect excuse to enjoy the contact.
The answer… even though she’d gotten up to use the restroom, she returned to sit on my legs as we continued to bring each other up to speed about own ‘tutorials’… I’m sure that the reason she hadn’t thought to move was that I was, for all intents and purposes, a ‘conversational chair’. As much as I’d have given to serve as her Sybian, my hands and remarks stayed in the realm of PG.
Sookie only moved once Pam suggested that the two of them ‘do something’ with Sookie’s hair with only 15 minutes left of the flight… even then Sookie sat on the floor between Pam’s legs as her living doll until the pilot announced the pending landing…
She’d been so completely comfortable that her sudden panic was a shock to both of our systems. She was nearly hyperventilating when she quickly climbed back into my lap. She leaned against me, putting her hands to my neck as she tried to situate.
She whined, “It’s not working.”
“I could try to distract you.”
She frowned at me and grabbed my arm to rest my hand on her bare leg… Poor me. “You’re all covered up… Damn sleeves.”
“Are you asking me to take my shirt off?”
She went still for a moment, but began fidgeting again with a growl. “If I find out that you made this up just to screw with me, I’m gonna be sooooo pissed.” She began fumbling with the buttons on my shirt while I chuckled at her, opening two of them before sliding her hand into the gap to rest it on my chest…
“I’m not sure that will work. You should try my pants.”
She pinched me, but only a split second later she relaxed completely…
‘It’ had finally worked…
Pam was staring. “What?”
She smirked. “If I had known getting felt up was part of it, I’d have volunteered for the job.”
“How is she?”
“She’s curled into a ball on my lap. How do you think she is?”
“I meant, how does she feel? Is she calming down?”
“She’s… ‘neutral’. It’s as though she’s asleep without dreaming.”
“Cop a feel and see if she notices.”
“I’m not going to ‘cop a feel’ and if you don’t stop using so much slang, I’m going to put parental locks on all of your media devices.”
“Why? It’s not as though ‘cop a feel’…”
“And ‘boner’… it’s not as though they’re obscure… they’re common enough… you knew what I meant.”
“You’ve gotten worse since we opened the bar. You’re starting to sound like a college student.”
“What is ‘WFE’?”
“What. Fucking. Ever.”
“That’s it. I’m shutting down your blog.”
“The ‘Well Dressed Vamp’ and ‘Not At Fangtasia’. They’re absurd anyway.”
“You’re just pissed that I blocked you.”
“Right. That’s it. I’m feeling so very dejected that I won’t get a weekly update about plaid being the new polka dot or pictures of the rejects that you humiliate in public before you send them away from the bar in tears.”
“I still think you should feel her up to see if she’s that out of it.”
“I still think that we should let natural selection help you pare down your shoe collection.”
She gasped. “ARSON IS NOT ‘NATURAL SELECTION’!”
“Think about it… If a Grizzly can only catch the slowest of the salmon… the ones who wouldn’t make it upstream to spawn anyway…”
“My shoes can’t save themselves!”
“No, but you’d finally prioritize them.”
“I have one closet. It has everything I could possibly need and there’s room to spare.”
“Men’s fashion is less complicated. If I own 10 black shirts…”
‘IF’, my dead ass. “You do.”
“If I wear those black shirts two nights in a row, people would assume that I’m wearing the same one, night after night. You could wear the same shirt night after night and no one would notice.”
“That’s because I exude a natural awesomeness that you lack.”
“You own 8 pairs of nearly identical black Louboutins.”
“Nearly… and not so close that the difference went unnoticed. You just helped my point.”
“I only know that they’re different at all because you describe them in great detail when I ask you why I’m paying $1200 for another pair.”
“Oh, indeed. As much as I try to ignore it… I remember too much.”
“You remember enough to make me happy at Christmas.”
“Not this year. I’m bored with Christmas.”
“You’ve been saying that for 300 years.”
“And I’ve meant it. We’ve done it your way, but I didn’t even meet any Christians until I was dead… And other than using biblical figures as expletives, you only observe Christianity as an excuse to give me a shopping list every December. I’m done with it. I’m allowed.”
“Will you buy more for my birthday?”
“Pamela, I couldn’t possibly buy more for your birthday. You wouldn’t have the chance to wear it before the next season. You are not neglected.”
“Bastille Day?” Grasping at straws…
“We could exchange gifts for Dia De Los Muertos. You’ve always appreciated the way South America celebrates.”
“That’s because they do it passionately and with style. Europeans and Americans are so blasé… It’s only two weeks after your birthday though.”
She winced. “Eww. Good point… Yule then?”
“It’s sad that you don’t realize that Christmas is the bastard child of Yule and Chanukah… Nearly everything but the greed was borrowed and renamed… plagiarized.”
“The important thing is that you’re not bitter.”
“I’m not ‘bitter’, just informed. Christian holidays are a ‘best of’ anthology of all the so-called pagan holidays.”
She scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Fine. Saint Patrick’s Day?”
“Seriously? Do I have to remind you…”
She waved her hands like she was shooing flies. “Ok! I get it! Don’t celebrate Christmas then!”
I smiled at her. Sometimes she made it too easy to fuck with her. I’d gotten so used to the little game we played that I probably wouldn’t know how to act if she didn’t behave like an angel between her birthday and Christmas in a last ditch effort to get onto the ‘nice’ list… Seasonally well behaved… That was the best gift of all… “I’ll make a deal with you.”
“We’ll still exchange gifts if you spare me from decorating.”
“And Fangtasia. The black trees with red feather boas and lights are a bit… well, completely wretched. Not to mention the wreath you put on the hood of my car or the disgusting Santa bobble-head… there’s still adhesive on my dash.”
“Not even outside?”
“Nowhere on the property.”
“Ohhhh, come on… Just stockings for the staff in the locker room. That’s it.” She held her hand out to ‘shake on’ the deal but since the plane was still bouncing along the runway, moving my hand away from Sookie might not have produced the desired results.
“We have a deal.”
“You won’t move your hands?”
“I’m not being ‘sweet’. I’m quite happy to leave her where she is without causing an anxiety attack for her in order to do something as meaningless as ‘shaking on’ a deal.”
“Feeling her up wouldn’t be ‘meaningless’.”
“You’re right. It’ll be a lot a fun, but I’m going to do it when she’s awake.”
“She’s not as much of a prude as you think. She had me wash her back.”
“She did not.”
“She did. Might I say, the way the water…”
“Eventually, I’m going to set her down and when I do, you’re not going to be as amused.”
“Did you know that she has a tattoo?”
“She does not.” I’d seen enough of the other Sookie to be relatively certain Pam was full of shit.
“It’s called a tramp stamp… On her lower back… It’s kind of a calligraphy type of flourish. Simple really, but it accentuates her hips and makes her dimples stand out… I couldn’t help but notice. You know how I love those dimples.”
“That’s why I was so eager to find that particular evening gown… Sookie told me that the back was so low that she had to take her panties off so they wouldn’t show… but the dimples did.”
“I’m not laughing.”
“I know. You’re thinking about proving it. Go ahead. See for yourself. Just lift her skirt.”
“I’m not going to lift her skirt to prove that a tattoo she doesn’t have isn’t there. If she’s aware of what’s going on around her, she won’t trust me any further than she can throw me.”
She started laughing in her throat and stood to go sit across from me so that I couldn’t reach her. “It seems to me that she already has. Thrown you, that is.”
She was going to pay for that. “I never liked you.”
“Stop pushing me.”
“I’m not pushing you… I was thinking that I might be able to convince her to ‘add to it’… You know, ‘Eric’s’ or something of the like. Maybe an ambigram so that you could read it… either way.” Either way… bent over or… on her knees with her mouth… Fucking Pam. I should’ve punished her more often.
“Shut the fuck up.”
Since the plane was gradually taxiing to a stop, I decided that Sookie wouldn’t be likely to panic if I set her down… Not only would Pam stop needling my nerves once I could reach her, but I’d lose ground with Sookie if she regained consciousness to feel my hard on under her thigh… her soft, supple thigh… Fucking Pam.
Her head had been laying against my chest, tucked under my chin and it wasn’t until I’d started backing away from her that I realized how comfortable it had felt to have her against me… Normally contact with humans annoyed me when cumming or feeding wasn’t involved… even then there were plenty of exceptions.
More noticeable than anything was that the lingering feeling of her body against mine was the same as the mysterious warmth I’d felt in my bed… and I was greedy for more.
I stood over her, watching for awareness, rather, the life to come back into her eyes.
When she finally became aware of her surroundings, she seemed to almost smile before she took on a worried expression. “What’s wrong? You look pissed.”
“Pam likes to irritate me when we’re confined together. It’s her favorite sport.”
Her grin seemed sympathetic. “I’m not touching you.”
“No. I had to put you down so that…”
She started shaking her head and put her hand on mine. “No, no, no… that’s the name of the game. ‘I’m not touching you’ is the bane of every road trip with kids. Jason would just stare a hole into the side of my face anytime we were in the car for longer than 20 minutes. It made me want to ride in the trunk.”
“She does that too.”
Pam started chuckling behind me. “I have Sookie to thank for how much more fun it was this time. Her being in your lap was better than having you chained.” What I wouldn’t have given for even the smallest amount of silver.
Sookie giggled, but looked wicked doing it. “Well, then that’s gotta suck.”
Pam chuckled. “Why would anything suck?”
“Because it didn’t occur to you that Eric could retaliate by giving me orders for while you’re resting…” Sookie’s eyes locked on mine and all I could do is smile back as my mind started racing with options. “…I mean, it’s not like I’d have a choice and it only seems fair since you got him while he couldn’t defend himself.”
“You used me, Pam.”
“I didn’t use you, per se…”
“You took advantage of the fact that I was in his lap to push his buttons harder than you normally would’ve. Just like you used me at the bar last night. How’d that work out for you?”
“I don’t want to talk about that.”
“I wouldn’t think you would want to talk about it… I mean the panic written all over your face when you heard that the ‘villagers were sharpening stakes’… You were so worried about him. I could’ve sworn I saw a tear before you left… The guilt you must’ve felt over your joke causing a chain reaction that could get him hurt… You should be careful… Someone might think you actually care.”
“That’s enough, human.”
“And that’s nothing compared to the speech you gave me through the bathroom door… you haven’t already forgotten have you? You know, when you told me how you like me and all but if I did anything that got him hurt, you’d make sure I’d regret it… That was really sweet.” Never mind that Sookie managed to ignore a threat to realize the reason for it…
Pam folded her arms and set an angry scowl. “You can stop any time now.”
“Why? Are you afraid that I’d spill the beans about what the other Sookie told you? That she and the Pam she knows have talked a lot about how much he…” Before Sookie could finish antagonizing Pam with ‘feelings’, Pam had shot across the cabin to tackle Sookie back into the seat.
She sat on her knees over Sookie’s lap, covering her mouth. “My life would be much easier if you could just be glamoured to shut up.”
Rather than fear, I felt nothing but amusement coming from Sookie as she laughed into Pam’s hand. She mumbled, unaffected by the dam, “Now you know how Eric feels, huh?”
Pam’s mouth fell open and Sookie reached up and pinched her cheeks.
Sookie mumbled again, “I win. Now, get off me.”
Pam’s nose wrinkled as she fought to hide how much fun she was having. “You’ve only won the battle, telepath.”
Sookie narrowed her eyes in jest. “Battle not with monsters lest you become one, vampire.”
Pam cackled as she slid out of Sookie’s lap… but I couldn’t help but be a little more impressed with the ‘simple waitress’ who could quote Nietzsche.
Contrary to what we’d been expecting, there was no company, no test waiting on the tarmac. The driver was ‘boring’ by Sookie’s standards since all he did was think about paying his bills.
No sooner than the doors to the ‘palace’ were ushered open for us, we had a ‘tour guide’ waiting for us.
Sookie stopped directly in front of Andre. “Since we’ve talked a couple of times, it’s nice to put a face to the voice.”
“Miss Stackhouse, you mentioned seeing me in red and blue shirts.”
“I did, but the only thing those folks remembered right is your eyes. It’s normal for there to be some distortion… The pet you sent that has a crush on Pam only got her mouth right.”
“It’s not always the same feature then?”
“No, it’s usually the feature that makes the biggest impression on the person in question.”
“That’s very interesting.”
“Not really. I could bore you with this crap eventually.”
He actually looked amused. “Perhaps… We’ve arranged for a ‘party’. It seems to be the best bait to gather our donors. There’s a mandatory staff meeting being called at midnight as well. Would you like to screen the donors or rest first?” I didn’t hide my surprise that she was given an option any better than Pam did.
Sookie grinned. “Let’s get the donors out of the way. I’m rested and ready for work.”
It took the whole hour for Sookie to screen the donors since there were nearly a hundred of them. She used several tactics as she clung to me, mingling, shopping… She used different conversational keywords, each and every time, she provoked more thoughts that brought about the removal of another lowlife… Everything from mentioning her ‘friend Peter’ to asking me if there were any places like Fangtasia in Little Rock… she multitasked, looking for Church spies by muttering the occasional fundamental no-no… faking a twisted ankle and saying, ‘Goddamnitalltohell!’ helped her find 3 of them… and calling them ‘bible thumping wack-a-doos’ as they were escorted out helped her find 4 more…
There were two donors specifically that Sookie didn’t need to bait… She pointed them out without hesitation almost as soon as she laid eyes on them and as the man and woman were escorted past her, she shied away from them… I decided to ask at a later time, but I had a feeling they had been the two responsible for the attack on Pam and Hadley since they matched the description that I’d been given… even if I was imagining the male with a knife handle jutting out of his spine.
All in all the ‘dining room’ lost a fifth of it’s inhabitants by the time she was done… and as she and I followed Andre out to the staff meeting, Sookie gave a nod to let Pam know the brunette she’d been eying had been telepath approved.
As soon as the doors were closed behind us (minus Pam), Sookie breathed a loud sigh. “Andre, maybe you should hold onto to them until we’re done with the staff meeting… I should take another pass. If you hold onto them, then they should be pretty paranoid by the time we go back.”
“Do you believe you might have missed a few?”
“There were a couple that were getting a little jittery, but for the most part I just want to be sure… The donor restrooms and lounge need to be searched… there’s weapons stashed in there.”
“Nets, stakes and… gloves… like the kind for noodling with silver net sewn into the palms.”
Andre raised an eyebrow at her. “Dare I ask what a ‘noodling glove’ is?”
Sookie giggled at him. “Catfish aren’t too easy to catch with a rod and reel since they’re bottom feeders… you kinda have to dive in and grab them. I never did it because water I can’t see through still kinda scares me, but Hadley and Jason used to go ‘noodling’ all the time when they were kids. They’d use the gloves because catfish have spiky fins.”
Sookie’s smile widened… “You know… I hear the hardest part is holding your breath long enough… Hadley could actually bring home more than Jason nowadays since she doesn’t have the problem anymore.”
He rolled his eyes, amused but trying to hide it. As he led us away from the ‘dining room’, he mumbled about an ‘untapped vampire forte’ and told her to name her price if she had pictures of Hadley noodling.
For the staff meeting, Sookie and I were placed at the head of the conference table next to Andre and she was given a seating chart. The obvious purpose for the meeting was security and attention to detail being of ‘paramount importance’ considering all of the additional traffic and preparations for the wedding. Since the employees underwent background checks, the staff of more than 200 only offered 8 moles… and Sookie seemed more confident with that group than she had the donors.
Andre seemed to be trying to stifle how surprised he was at the extent of Sookie’s ability as he escorted us back to the dining room and Sookie was clearly thrown by how stoic he was.
Even when she proved herself right by finding 3 more of Arkansas’ scouts in the dining room. They panicked almost as soon as they noticed us coming back… and one of them struggled in vain to break away from the guard who grabbed her. According to Sookie, she was hoping she’d be killed quickly in Louisiana because if she went back to Arkansas, ‘Jennifer’ was going to take her time… Hearing that one of the spies had instructions from Jennifer Cater, Peter Threadgill’s Second, put a sinister twinkle in Andre’s eye.
If Sookie had been concerned about the lives of the ‘people’ she was turning over, she was doing a remarkable job of hiding the emotion, even from me. Considering our company at the time, gushing over her accomplishment wouldn’t have been wise even if it were in my character… so I preoccupied myself with wondering why Sookie would’ve made me promise to turn a thief into the police when she’d discovered Long Shadow’s embezzlement since she seemed so willing to identify people who were going to be dead sooner than later.
The thought that Bruce’s fear might’ve been troubling her crossed my mind only briefly… there wasn’t any way the 30 plus infiltrators weren’t terrified to be shepherded into the unknown by the Berts.
I was too curious to let that go… that was a conversation I’d be having with her.
Since Andre was going to be spending the rest of his evening wringing answers out of spies and zealots, we were invited to return the next night to speak to Sophie-Ann about the culmination of Sookie’s ‘hunt’ and Andre’s ‘inquiries’. Sookie was beginning to fade quickly enough anyway, but I was sure Sophie-Ann and Andre would want to discuss plans for not only Sookie, but retaliating against Arkansas and ‘church proofing’ as well.
I wasn’t going to embarrass myself by trying to find Pam on our way out. She’d clearly decided to stay for ‘dessert’.
Once the driver closed the car door behind us, Sookie unwrapped herself from my arm and placed my hand on my leg. “Thanks for the loan. You can have that back now.”
I nodded, still wondering about the reason for Sookie’s double standard.
“You’re not worried about Pam, are you? There wasn’t anything going on in that donor’s head, well unless you count that she was trying to figure out if she wanted to drop her economics class.”
“No. I’m not worried.”
“You’re being quiet though… OhmiGod! Did I do, SAY something in there!? Did I screw up!?”
“No. I’d have signaled you somehow. You did very well. I’ve never seen Andre so cheerful.”
“Cheerful, huh? I’d hate to see him angry then… so what’s up with you?”
“I’m not sure I want to talk about it.”
“Ooooooh kaaaaaay… I can take a hint… I could use some quiet myself. As long as I didn’t mess up or anything.”
“You didn’t mess up.”
She grinned, albeit sleepily and leaned against the side of the car to watch the scenery…
I ended the tour of my house by showing her to the room she’d be staying in. She’d been struggling to carry her own luggage while eating a pear she’d appropriated from the groceries Paulette had left, but still, she’d insisted on not putting me out.
“It’s such a pretty house. It’s a shame nobody lives here.”
“Are you saying that it’s wasted on dead people?”
She wandered to the window to peak out through the curtains. “Oh, don’t be like that… I meant full time… your maid has done an amazing job in the garden… it’s gorgeous. It smells phenomenal. If I promise to shower before you’re up, do you mind if I lay out tomorrow?”
“I can’t think of a reason you shouldn’t.”
“Just making sure it wasn’t a thing for your home owners association or something. Thanks.”
“Can you think of anything you need?”
She furrowed her brow, wrapping her rich lips around her snack to take a bite… watching her mouth, her throat move while she considered my question almost distracted me from my puzzle. Eventually, she started shaking her head. “No… I’m sure I can figure out how to ‘work’ the bed and bathroom… What about you?”
“What about me?”
She pushed the curtain open and leaned against it to hold it open, still enjoying the view. “Well… it’s not like you, in my experience anyway, to mince words… Is it political stuff that you can’t talk about? If I didn’t screw up with Andre, did I put my foot in my mouth or something?”
“I’m not sure I know what you’re implying.”
“You just…” She started shaking her head and finally turned to look at me. “…There’s one for the ole diary… I’m actually asking someone what’s on their mind.”
I might have laughed if I wasn’t so preoccupied… “I’ve been trying to figure something out.”
“Like… which way to screw a lightbulb or relativity? I could help with the lightbulb… physics isn’t my strong suit though.” Cute.
“You mean like why he’d have taken the money from you? I didn’t get anything about it from Ginger.”
“No. It doesn’t matter to me why… You bargained for me to report the theft to the authorities. I imagine you automatically assumed I’d kill the thief.”
“Yeah… based on what I’d been told about you.” The way she glanced at the floor echoed the embarrassment she felt.
“You just identified 34 humans that are going to be dead before the weekend is over.” She was taken by a strange blend of remorse and displeasure.
“Call it silly if you want, but I kinda think killing someone for stealing is… overkill.”
“But Long Shadow is dead… Is it acceptable because he’s a vampire?”
“He would’ve killed you.”
“Well, yeah… I’d feel like crap if I helped him get killed over money. He didn’t die for stealing though, right?”
“Seeing as how he was a vampire, I would have killed him for it. In my position, I couldn’t have let it go. When I agreed to your proposal, I was still under the impression that the problem was human.”
“You’d have held up your end of the bargain if it had been though.”
“Then what are you trying to figure out? I’m kinda lost here.”
“You don’t seem to appreciate the consequences of revealing those humans.”
She huffed. “Oh, believe me… I know the consequences.”
“You aren’t feeling as much as I thought you would.”
“I can’t feel for them, Eric… We’ve already established that I pretty much grew up under a rock… and if you told me to go spy on another vampire for you, even I know I should run the other freaking way… The Arkansas spies were sent so that Threadgill could stage a hostile takeover… The church members are volunteers sent to gather information so that organizers could plan a riot that would make the Civil Rights Movement look like a Girl Scout Jamboree. Even by human standards, the crime of conspiracy to commit murder carries the same sentence as the actual murder… Don’t do that.”
“Hold me to a higher standard because you think I’m so innocent… 8 days ago I was a breath away from ‘kill or be killed’ and believe me, I’d have killed Rene to save myself… maybe I’m a little raw from that still… maybe I will regret sending them to the gallows, but tonight I’m going to sleep knowing that those 34 nuts were kamikazes.”
“I wasn’t holding you to a higher standard.”
“I thought you were being a hypocrite.”
“I’d been trying to find the reason for the double standard.”
“Oh, really? Do I want to hear what you came up with as possibilities?”
“I wasn’t sure. I considered that you might have had a sympathy for waitresses that inspired you to make a deal with me… I thought that maybe the difference was that in Shreveport it was ‘just money’ and here you’re trying to protect family… the worst of all my options was that your potential paycheck for the task made their lives less valuable to you.”
She turned to stare through the windows again. “That’s. Just. Beautiful.”
“I wasn’t coming to a logical conclusion… not one that I cared to accept anyway. I couldn’t solve the question.”
“You thought that I considered them ‘just fangbangers’.”
“That crossed my mind…”
“But then you remembered how we met… That I came to you trying to find who was murdering them…”
“That didn’t really quell the idea… Your main concern was your brother.”
“I barely knew Maudette, but Dawn was my friend… Jason was why I got involved, but I didn’t think any less of Dawn for being a ‘fangbanger’… I felt sorry for her.”
“Because she’d stoop…”
“STOP THAT! Stop assuming stuff about me! I felt sorry for her because she was beautiful and sweet… and didn’t have anyone… sex with vampires isn’t why I felt sorry for her, it was that she had sex with anyone… If it helps you down from your high horse a little, I feel sorry for Arlene too… She’s been married more times than I can remember for the same sad reason Dawn was running low on fresh guys… anyone was better than no one.”
“Yes. You. Jason. Her mechanic. Two of her neighbors. At least one tipsy over-tipper a week… The crush she had on Sam just because he was nice to her… anyone. She starved herself to stay thin, spent more time on her hair than cleaning her house and every guy who ‘never called again’ made her feel more empty… tell me that that isn’t a good reason to pity her.”
“Your reasons for feeling sorry for her aren’t recently adjusted? Perhaps since you dated Bi…”
Before I could finish the admittedly low blow, Sookie took a furious step towards me. “Fuck you! No they aren’t because I dated Bill! I’m not adjusting my principles to justify my behavior. I was trying to forget that I’d been so stupid… Since convincing myself that I’d been played wasn’t helping me ignore that… that… I was just as pathetic and scared of being alone as Dawn… and I almost ended up just as dead because of it… Thanks though! I really appreciate the reminder that just because I’m slightly more useful than a normal human, doesn’t mean that I’m not still just a human to you…”
She took a deep breath and wiped the angry tears from her cheeks before clearing her throat. “Eric, It’s been a long night… and I’m sure Gran would slap the snot out of me for asking you to leave a room in your own house, but I really just need some rest.”
Pissing her off hadn’t been my goal. I’d known that saying anything on the subject, even suggesting that she was being hypocritical practically guaranteed a mood swing, but…
I’d never considered…
Not for a second…
It never crossed my mind that I’d hurt her.
I wasn’t even lucky enough that her ‘hurt’ was figurative… her feelings weren’t simply hurt as though I’d insulted her hair… The pain in her chest, the pounding in her temples, the irritation in the pit of her stomach was all quite real…
I only barely left her room. Annoyed as she was that I was pacing the floor just beyond the door, I wasn’t leaving until I could think of a way to undo something, somehow.
I’d hated that she was scared of me… Just remembering the way she squeezed past me to leave after I ended Long Shadow, careful not to make any contact whatsoever, I detested the look in her eyes. She had no reason to not be fearful of a vampire, let alone a vampire covered in fresh blood, concentrated on her… only an idiot would begrudge her for that…
Even after her insulting and irrational tirade of stereotyping when we’d had our visitors was forgivable in my eyes… she’d just found out that a vampire she trusted had betrayed her on untold levels…
Knowing that I’d fucked myself… knowing that I’d undone what strides she’d made to get past what she’d recently gone through… knowing that the stiff, uncomfortable feeling, the regret, the cynicism, the grief she was feeling was my responsibility…
I fucking hated it.
I fucking hated it more than anything I could bring to mind…
I was only biding my time until she was finished with the shower that wasn’t helping her mood any more than I expected it to and I barely acknowledged that Pam texted me to not ‘wait up’…
With the surplus of subterfuge that we’d already seen firsthand, I should have cared that she wasn’t being more wary…
If I didn’t know better, I’d call the sensation to get to Sookie an ‘itch’… It started as soon as she turned the water off and intensified gradually while she moved around the room…
Waiting was nearly insufferable…
I knocked lightly once I was satisfied that I’d given her enough time to dress.
She sighed deeply, “Really?”
I cracked the door, still unsure of what to say and even over the scent of her recent shower, the salt in her tears was the first thing to reach me. “I want to apologize, maybe try to explain.”
She was already laying with her back to the door and lifted her head from the pillow only slightly. “Is there really any point? We should probably just call it a night before we piss each other off.”
I crossed the floor, closing the space that made her more comfortable and irritated me to no end. “I don’t think it could make matters worse. We’re already half way there.”
“I’m not really pissed. I’m…”
I slid onto the bed behind her and finished, “Hurt. You’re hurt and it’s my fault. I’m sorry.”
She gasped, becoming rigid as my arm went over her waist except to jerk her arm away. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to apologize.”
“In the bed, Eric. What are you doing in the bed?” There was no mistaking the edge to her voice.
“Technically, I’m on it. And I’m not doing anything but trying to apologize. I promise.”
She huffed, lowering her arm, but still too tense for my taste… but I’d brought that on myself.
“I don’t have a good excuse.”
“Something tells me that you don’t have a lot of practice apologizing either… I’ll take that into consideration.”
“You’re right. I don’t… Not only do I not do it often, but I seldom experience the urge to.”
I was about to continue since she hadn’t said anything, but she took a sudden breath that stopped me. “Then why now?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“No… I don’t know. Normally… I’d have called anyone else a hypocrite unquestioningly, without caring about the circumstances or how they felt about it… I wouldn’t have spent any time trying to examine any motivations. I wouldn’t have avoided the discussion. I wouldn’t have cared if they cried or hung themselves afterwards… What I do know is that I’ve never been more relieved to be so wrong. I hate that I upset you and hearing you start the shower instead of roll your suitcase across the floor made me grateful for the chance to apologize.”
“For someone who doesn’t do a lot of apologizing, you’re not bad at it.”
“It’s not practiced… I mean it.”
“I know… I’m sorry too. I should’ve backed off. You were obviously trying to steer clear of the subject.”
“I was only just realizing why the possibility of a double standard would annoy me so much.”
“Really? Mind if I ask?”
“I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not sure that I know how to trust someone.”
She scoffed. “Righty, tighty. Lefty, loosy.”
“I told you, I can help with light bulbs… You’ve got the wrong girl if you want help with trusting someone.”
“You have more experience with it than I have.”
“Ah, but you’ve seen how well that’s worked out for me. I should erase the word from my vocabulary before it gets me killed.”
“That’s certainly the more widespread vampire practice.”
She’d slowly started to relax, pleasant enough on its own, but her hand found mine and rested over it… The enjoyment I got from the way she absently skimmed her thumb back and forth across my knuckles was unreasonable and intense. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… Trusting people can get you killed quick. Trusting no one guarantees a long empty life… Sounds like fun.”
“Trusting yourself is sound.”
“Did you give yourself any insight?”
“I was speaking figuratively, not literally.”
She giggled, “I’ll take that as a yes.”
“I’m sure she told you a few things as well.”
“Yeah… you don’t want to talk about it though.”
“It’s not that…”
“It’s that it feels weird, maybe even crazy to believe it?”
She was thoughtful for a moment before she hummed. “Nuff said.”
I almost thanked her, but it seemed like the idea of discussing ‘it’ any further was just as awkward for her as it was for me. “Alright then. Now that you proved that you have no idea what you’re doing would you like for me to show you how to properly ‘work the bed’?”
She cackled, bringing her heel back to kick my shin… but she never moved her hand.
“I’m only guessing, but I’m sure you misused the shower too.”
While she calmed her laughing, she told me I was ‘bad’ and, if anything, only held my arm to her more tightly.