A/N The plot is ours, but all known characters are based on those created by Charlaine Harris and/or HBO’s True Blood. No infringement is intended.
The taller vampire followed his companion’s gaze across the room. “Who is she?” he asked, focusing intently on the small wide-eyed figure stalled by the bar. Though the woman in question was his Child’s type, she was not his Child’s ‘type.’
“The phone call,” she snapped. When her Maker smirked, she huffed. “You can barely see her!” she protested.
“What is her name?”
As if the vampires had called to her, Sookie’s eyes suddenly shot to the pair watching her. The tall one nodded, while the shorter one, the female, hastily beckoned Sookie to them. She carefully wove her way across the room, relaxing her grip on the portfolio she clutched to her chest, and by the time she reached the pair of vampires, it dangled from her hand.
Sookie’s eyes danced between them, occasionally above their heads as if something were hanging from the ceiling. A broad smile stretched across her pretty face as her posture relaxed, and she offered her hand.
“Ms. Ravenscroft?” Sookie guessed.
The female arched her perfect eyebrows. Sookie’s hand was warm in her cool one, and her grip was steady. “Miss Stackhouse?”
“Sookie,” she replied breathlessly. “Sorry about the phone call. I just wasn’t sure when I pulled up that this was the right address.” She nodded slightly at the female and looked expectantly at the male.
“This is Eric Northman, my…associate.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Northman.”
Ignoring Sookie’s hand, Eric looked her over quickly, wondering what set her apart from the other humans crowding the dark room. He supposed it could be her serious manner of dress, though he especially admired the heels she wore with her tight-fitting suit. Sookie’s was the appealing type of figure that was difficult to hide under drab clothing. Her blond hair was longer than his, her eyes a different shade of blue, but there was something familiar amongst their differences.
“You may call me Eric,” he said finally, ignoring the noise of disgust his Child made too lowly for Sookie to hear. He gestured to the empty booth in the corner and waited for the two women to sit before sliding in next to his Child. “A drink?”
“Ice water would be fine, thank you,” she said.
As a rule, humans invited to sit with vampires, which Eric could not remember ever having done, were not as comfortable as Sookie now appeared to be. “Have you been here before?” he asked, knowing she had not.
“No,” Sookie replied, chuckling as she drew out the word. “Sorry! I mean, no. I’ve never been here before.” She had never been to a vampire club, never seen a vampire and certainly never talked to or touched one. “It’s, uh…” She watched a waitress place a glass of water in front of her before placing two bottles of synthetic blood in front of the vampires. It occurred to her that Eric and Pam were not patrons. “You own the place.”
“We both do, Pam and I,” Eric confirmed.
“Shall we discuss Miss Stackhouse’s qualifications?” Pam asked abruptly.
“Oh!” Sookie exclaimed. She had been distracted at the sight of Eric drinking deeply from his bottle and fumbled to pull out her resume. “You didn’t mention it, Miss Ravenscroft, but here’s my…” Her voice trailed off at the combined looks of disinterest in the paper she had placed on the table. “I have a copy of my certificate, too,” she went on.
“Certificate?” Pam asked.
“Private investigator?” Sookie looked from Pam to Eric. “The ad?”
“Was for a personal assistant-”
“With an investigative background,” Eric said, interrupting Pam. He suddenly stood and motioned for her to move from the booth. “Leave us.”
“Fuck her and get it over with,” Pam grumbled, slipping past him.
“Watch your mouth,” he replied, but all Sookie could hear were sharp hisses. Eric resumed his place at the booth and picked up the paper. “Sookie Stackhouse,” he murmured. A local girl, high school graduate, no formal college education. “Why did you reply to the ad, Sookie?” he asked, his eyes not leaving her resume.
Sookie had tried to prepare herself for everything, she thought, that might come up in what would be her first job interview in her life. She had spent hours online, researching interview questions used by various business models. She had even practiced in front of her own mirror. But the moment she had stepped inside the vampire club, she realized no amount of preparation could have left her ready for the vampire sitting across from her at that moment.
“I’m qualified,” she said. It was for the most part true, in that a few days before she had printed off her certificate of completion of a six-month private investigation online course. Eric’s ad hadn’t specified the length of experience needed, and Sookie was certainly discreet and single.
When he didn’t reply and continued to read, she took the opportunity to observe his club. Letting her mind relax, Sookie tried not to flinch at the sudden onslaught of thoughts and images that immediately invaded it. It was her secret, and further proof of her ability to be discreet, that she was telepathic and had been so as far back as she could remember. And though it had only taken her six months to qualify for her new occupation, it had taken twenty-six years to get up the nerve to decide how to put her telepathy to some use.
Sookie had always been good at caring for others, and she had always felt a pull to help those in need. Eric’s ad, and the idea of getting paid to do so, seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“How so?” he abruptly asked, and for a second, Sookie wondered if he could read her mind.
“How so?” she repeated.
“How are you qualified?”
“I fit your criteria,” she answered simply.
Eric smirked and laid down the resume. “You are unattached?”
“One brother. We don’t talk much.” She watched as Eric’s long fingers traced a pattern she couldn’t see on the wooden table top. “I’m a little unclear on the ‘obedient’ part,” she admitted.
“Can you do what you are told?”
“Do you mean, can I do what’s asked of me?” she clarified, and he nodded. “Isn’t that what you’d be paying me to do?”
Eric’s eyes trailed Pam as she flitted behind the bar. “You would be surprised how difficult that can be,” he said distractedly.
Sookie cleared her throat and took a sip of water. “Would you be my boss?” Was he the ‘busy entrepreneur’?
“You would work directly under me, yes.”
Sookie nodded carefully and glanced around the room. Most of the waitresses, from what she had heard from their heads, had ‘worked under’ him in some capacity. As had many of the patrons. It wasn’t surprising, given how attractive Eric was, and from the memories she’d seen, very skilled with most parts of his anatomy. “What hours do you require from an assistant? Daytime?” she asked, hoping that might be the key to avoiding falling into the same trap.
“Sometimes. Why?” Her demeanor had changed, and Eric wondered what had caused it.
“The ad mentioned flexible hours,” she explained hastily.
Eric leaned back against his seat to study her. “You have misgivings about the position.”
Sookie’s eyes fell to her lap. “I’m not like your…employees here, Mr. Northman. Or any of these women, really,” she said, embarrassed. It was startling, the number of females with whom he’d been intimate in one room. She had to assume Pam could be included, though much to Sookie’s surprise and initial delight, she had learned that evening that she couldn’t read vampires. It had at first thrilled her, but the more she heard from the outside, she feared what was actually going on inside.
“No, you are not,” he agreed. “As far as I can tell, you have not parted your knees in invitation below the table, you have not offered your obvious charms or blood, nor have you been anything but professional, Miss Stackhouse. Have I mistaken your sincere interest in the job for something else? Is there a fang-banger hiding under that suit, waiting for me to bend her over my desk in my office?” Eric’s voice had risen, and Sookie could hear a more pronounced accent to his words.
“I wasn’t implying-”
“This position is not a ruse,” he said seriously. Though his angry behavior was. Eric had envisioned Sookie in many positions on nearly every surface since she’d sat down. Were it legal and had he known Sookie would apply for the job, he would have listed unlimited consensual sex in the ad as a requirement.
“I understand, I meant no offense.” She smiled widely again and looked around. “Is there a restroom I could use?”
Eric gestured to a hallway beside the bar, and Sookie excused herself, her empty seat immediately occupied by Pam. “Your thoughts?” he asked, smirking.
“She has great tits.”
Eric laughed and silently agreed. When Pam moved to look through Sookie’s bag, he stopped her. “Leave it. I doubt there is anything in there.”
“She is poor,” Pam went on. “Her clothes are cheap.”
“One’s lack of personal wealth does not detract from my desire to hire someone I expect to pay,” he reasoned.
“Are you seriously considering sending her on your wild goose chase?” Pam knew Eric’s interest in Sookie Stackhouse went beyond the expendable human he needed at the moment.
“What is your concern?”
Pam stared thoughtfully at the resume lying between them. “She lacks a certain…fear.”
“That could be favorable,” he argued. “She adapts well.”
“Yes,” Pam agreed. “But why? It’s clear she has never associated with our kind. Is she really that naive, to have no inherent…hesitation? Perhaps she is stupid?”
“Why would you care?” he asked. Eric did not, for a moment, believe Sookie lacked intelligence. She had been correct, he agreed, that she was unlike any woman at Fangtasia. He also didn’t doubt that she was probably ‘hesitating’ all over the toilet in the bathroom as they spoke.
“I do not,” Pam admitted, standing. “Give her a shot, it’s not as if you can’t glamor her if she doesn’t work out.”
Eric watched his Child glide away as Sookie returned to the table. “How are you finding the club?” he asked, genuinely interested in her answer.
“You could use a better doorman,” she quipped, settling across from him. “Those three girls right there by the bar are underage.”
He coolly glanced at the young trio, before looking back to Sookie. “How do you know?”
“I heard one of them in the bathroom.” Which wasn’t a lie, though she would not specify which part of her did the hearing. Sookie reached for her resume, only to be stopped by Eric’s large hand covering her smaller one.
“I wish to keep it.”
She swallowed and pulled back. “I don’t think you want me for this job, Mr. Northman.”
“You are wrong, Miss Stackhouse. I very much do want you.”
And that right there was the problem for Sookie. After splashing cold water on her face in the bathroom and trying not to hyperventilate in the toilet stall, she had mentally attempted to list the pros and cons of working for a vampire. More specifically, a vampire like Eric Northman. Though she had no experience with them as a group, even Sookie could tell she’d stumbled across a big one.
“Give me a week,” he said soothingly. “A trial period. To see if you ‘fit’ my criteria,” he added, raising his eyebrow.
Sookie couldn’t help but laugh at the forced look of innocence that fell over his very handsome face. “I’m sure you read I worked at a bar the last six years. I’m not buying your act for a minute,” she joked, blushing.
Eric found himself smiling at their banter. “Fortunately for you, those days are over.”
She tried to ignore the tingling sensation that started at her tailbone and made its way to the base of her skull. “That’s kind of…it’s just…” she stammered.
“A promise, Miss Stackhouse.” Eric rose to his feet and offered his hand. “Come back tomorrow, after dark. You can give me your answer then.”
Sookie opened her mouth, knowing already how she wanted to answer, and closed it. “Tomorrow.”