“Damn,” Sookie grumbled to herself when Eric’s phone rang. He was stretched out on the bed on top of the covers, and she had just gotten nice and comfortable curled into his side. At some point that night they were supposed to head back to Shreveport, but she’d been enjoying this nice break.
She watched as he strode quickly from the bedroom back to the main living area while talking on the phone and wondered briefly who James was. When she suddenly remembered, she hurriedly put her shoes back on and joined Pam on a sofa as they both waited for Eric to finish his conversation.
“That was James calling to inform me that his brother Robbie has information that I might find useful.”
“Such a good little glamoured boy, isn’t he,” snarked Pam.
Eric agreed with a smirk, then continued. “He gave me Robbie’s location. We’ll pick him up and ask him a few questions. Ready?” He looked at Sookie.
“Sure. Where are we going?”
“Oh, well, since we were going there anyway,” she shrugged.
Once in the vehicle, Sookie asked, “How long does it take to get from Monroe to Shreveport?” She knew they weren’t that close to each other.
“About an hour and a half if you were driving.”
After making a face at Eric for the “humans drive so slow” jibe, she replied, “Is Robbie going to stay in place till we get there?”
Eric thought for a moment, then extracted his phone from his pocket. After dialing a number, Sookie overheard him telling someone named Thalia to go to an address, pick up Robbie, and take him to some warehouse. He passed the phone to Sookie. “Describe Robbie.”
“Thalia? Robbie seems to be about 5’8″, orangish-red hair, pale skin, bad complexion, and muddy brown eyes. He’s got some muscles on him, so be careful.”
“Seems,” snapped the gruffly feminine voice on the phone.
“Yup. I’ve never met the man. I’ve just seen him in his brother’s mind, but he’s definitely short, kind of stout, and his hair is a strange orangey-red color.”
The voice on the other end of the conversation snorted, then hung up.
Sookie looked at the phone for a second in confusion then handed it back to Eric.
“She just hung up!”
“Thalia is not known for her…manners,” he replied wryly.
“I haven’t met her yet, have I,” Sookie asked, already considering that she might just prefer it that way if she was as rude as that.
“No. I can promise that if you had, you’d remember her.” Eric trusted Thalia to be loyal and discrete, but that was it. “Thalia considers manner useless, and to her, humans have even less value. As long as she knows that you are mine, however, she will not be a threat to you.”
She shivered. “Well, that’s good to know.” It wasn’t like she planned on striking up a conversation about the weather with the rude woman.
“Did James give you have any idea of what kind of information Robbie might have?”
“Yes. He knows that Robbie has been in contact with “the Deacon” and thinks that he might know more, but he didn’t say what.”
“So I need to look for anything related to this “Deacon”, whose real last name is Brown, and see what else I can hear.”
“No. I will glamour all the information I can from him, then send him away with the same instructions I’ve given James,” Eric stated firmly.
At Sookie’s confused look, he elaborated. “I can guarantee you that his mind will not be a pretty sight. You don’t need to see that kind of thing, and I will not ask you to read him unless it becomes absolutely necessary.”
“Oh, ok,” she said faintly, taken aback by his unexpected consideration.
They completed the rest of the drive in contemplative silence. As they neared the outskirts of Shreveport, Eric’s voice startled her.
“Do you need to stop for a “human moment”, as you call it, before we arrive at the warehouse? I doubt the facilities there would be to your standards.”
“Ewe. Good idea.” Sookie wrinkled her nose at the thoughts of the facilities in a warehouse. “Can you find a clean looking convenience store so I can get something to drink?”
Eric nodded, then turned off at the next exit. A few minutes later he pulled into the parking lot of a well-lit store and parked. To Sookie’s surprise, he accompanied her into the store and stood near the restroom doors while she had her “human moment”, and then led her over to where he’d seen a refrigerated case of pre-made salads and sandwiches.
“I realize that the events of the past few days have caused a disruption to your normal routine, including your eating habits. Bluntly, I haven’t seen you eating as much as even I know an adult human should.” He gestured toward the pre-assembled foods. “I don’t know if these items are considered healthy, but they have to be better than crunchy bagged chemicals.”
With a laugh, Sookie had to agree. After choosing a fresh salad with packaged dressing, she looked at the dates on the sandwiches and chose the freshest one she could find that wasn’t tuna. She was sure Eric’s super-nose would appreciate that consideration. A cup of strong coffee and a bottle of water later, she was ready to go.
“Stay out here and eat, and keep the doors locked,” He ordered as he pulled into the parking lot of a large, older warehouse. The only other vehicle in the lot was a small red Audi, which she guessed belonged to the rudeness that was Thalia. “I shouldn’t be too long.”
Sookie nodded, then began organizing her food. She doubted the dark, creepy-looking warehouse had a clean table to eat on, anyway.
Twenty minutes later, just as Sookie finished her pimento cheese sandwich, Eric emerged from the warehouse with dazed-looking Robbie and a petite, dark haired female vampire with a scowl on her face. That must be the lovely Thalia, she thought.
As they approached the red car, she caught a fleeting thought from Robbie. She immediately exited the vehicle and softly called for Eric to wait. She knew he would hear her with his souped-up vampire ears. He came to an immediate stop and commanded Thalia to do the same. Leaning against the side of the vehicle away from the trio, she ignored what had been Eric’s questioning gaze and Thalia’s irritated scowl as more broken thoughts seeped from Robbie’s brain.
Long minutes and several disturbing and disgusting thoughts later, she figured she had gained as much as possible from Robbie’s rotting brain, and quietly told Eric she was finished. She climbed back into the vehicle and barely a minute later they were en route to one of Eric’s homes in the area.
“Sookie! I didn’t want you…” He was angry that Sookie had listened to Robbie’s foul, degenerate mind even after he’d told her that she didn’t have to.
“It’s ok, Eric,” she quickly interrupted. “Do you know a vampire named Raban?”
“No, why?” He hated to think of what she’d seen or heard.
“Because when you and Thalia were bringing him out, I heard him thinking about that name in a sneaky kind of way.” At Eric’s still-irritated glance, she elaborated. “Different kinds of thoughts sometimes have a different feel to them. It’s really hard to describe, but I can sometimes tell when someone is trying to be sneaky, and he defiantly was.” She shrugged her shoulders.
“Anyway, from what I heard just after that, it seems that this guy Brown, “the Deacon”, takes orders from some vampire named Raban. Scumbag Robbie was remembering thinking that it was weird enough that a vampire would not only be ok with his crew draining other vampires, but that it was even weirder that a vampire would be behind it all.”
“Yeah.” She took a sip of her now-cold coffee, grimaced, and thought for a minute. “So, what did you learn?”
“Brown gave Robbie another list of vampires to target, including me and Pam, and that he was being pressured by his boss to complete this mission. Brown is also based in,” Eric paused for a moment, “Dallas.”
“As you wish, but we’re a bit pressed for time tonight. We only have about six hours before daybreak.”
“Eric!” She couldn’t believe he could possibly be thinking about sex at a time like this!
“Sookie.” The lethal smirk gracing his lips and the arrogantly confident quirking of his brow made Sookie blush even more.
“So, Dallas, huh,” she changed the subject.
“We will leave at first dark tomorrow night. I have an unofficial house in that area. I’ll call the housekeeper and have her ready it.”
“Unofficial house? Housekeeper? But you don’t live there; why would you need a housekeeper?”
“For security purposes the house is not in my legal name so I consider it “unofficial”. The housekeeper comes by once a week to clean and air out the house and keep it ready just in case I need it.”
She nodded, somewhat dazed by the thought of having so many houses, and a housekeeper scheduled to keep an eye on a house that wasn’t even used!
Eric called Pam to meet him at his home in Shreveport and told her to bring a database of some sort, then called his aforementioned housekeeper and instructed her to have the house “aired and fully stocked for a human female occupant” by the next evening.
Eventually they turned into a gated, wealthy-looking community, and Sookie marveled at the large fenced-in mansions spaced far apart and set well back from the curb. She was awfully glad she wasn’t responsible for mowing those huge yards. Wait, she thought, people that rich had “vast lawns”, not huge yards.
When they finally turned into what she figured was Eric’s driveway, she began gathering her purse and the remains of her meal. She glanced up when she felt the vehicle stop, and watched as Eric entered a code into a small box. Apparently he entered the right one, she thought, as the gate before them suddenly opened and he drove them around the back of a very large house. He parked beside a red Corvette in the enclosed four-car garage. Beside the Corvette was a dark colored Lincoln of some sort, and beside that? A Harley. Somehow, Sookie was not surprised.
She opened the vehicle door then blinked when Eric suddenly appeared in front of her. He held his hand out for her trash, then deposited it into a garbage can on the far side of the garage just as the door stared closing.
“Timer,” he remarked at her startled glance. He strode to the door, unlocked it by pressing more buttons, and flipped the lights on inside a large wet room. He asked Sookie to wait a moment while he retrieved her bag from the vehicle, so she took a look around and started to toe her shoes off since they were starting to pinch a bit. By the time she’d toed them off, he was back with her bag, so they entered the bare but uselessly well-appointed kitchen. He placed her bag on the counter and faced her.
“I regret that I have nothing to offer you to eat or drink, but I promise that the next time you are here, I will have supplies for you.” It was obvious that he felt bad for not being able to offer her anything.
Wanting to erase the regret from his face, Sookie sat her purse down and waved her hand negligently. “Eric, I’m fine, honest. I need to lose a few pounds anyway,” she laughed it off as she patted her shapely hip.
Before she could blink, he had her up against the kitchen wall, his hands on her ass lifting her up so that they were nose to nose.
“Sookie,” he hissed, his blue eyes flashing, “I do not ever want to hear another disparaging remark from you about either your weight or your figure. Do you understand me?” He was surprised by how livid her negative remark about herself made him. How could she not see how beautiful…? How could she doubt…?
Eyes widened in surprise, mouth slightly agape, Sookie could only nod.
Taking thorough advantage of her parted lips, Eric lowered his head and crushed her lips with his, impatiently thrusting his tongue against hers as he deepened the kiss. She brought one hand up to grab the bunched muscles in his broad shoulder, and slowly threaded her other hand through his silky hair. He cupped her ass in his large palms, and purred when she raised her legs to encircle his hips. He paused for a second to allow her to catch her breath as he ground himself into her center.
Long minutes later he slightly raised his head to speak against her kiss-swollen lips. “You are perfect, Sookie,” he said, his voice gravelly and his massive erection blatant against her crotch. ”Absolutely perfect.”
Sookie shuddered when he immediately reclaimed her lips, softer this time, teasing her bottom lip with his sharp teeth, gently nipping then soothing with his cool tongue, sucking on her swollen lower lip and nipping again, over and over, before plunging his tongue into her mouth to dance and slide against her own. Soon he began thrusting his big body into hers in time with the movements of his tongue.
“Well, this is interesting. Need a third?” Pam’s unexpected singsong interruption was a virtual splash of ice water down Sookie’s overheated spine.
If her breathing had been any steadier, Eric’s barely-heard explicative might made Sookie giggle since he so rarely cursed. She guessed he was as unhappy with the disturbance known as Pam as she was.
“Oops, did I do wrong?” Pam could barely control her own laughter as she placed a couple of plastic bags on the counter while inhaling deeply.
Sookie almost snorted at how fast that one word, commanded in that one tone, shut the female vampire up, except that when Eric lowered her to her feet, her knees barely held her up. Grabbing the counter to her side, she steadied herself and prayed her cheeks weren’t as flushed as she feared. She didn’t dare look at Eric…not for a million bucks…
After unnecessarily clearing his throat, Eric asked Pam if she’d brought the “borrowed” database he’d mentioned earlier. Wisely deciding not to play around anymore, Pam quickly replied, “Yes, Master,” then hurriedly produced it from her large pink leather purse.
“Good. Follow me.”
Sookie brought up the rear after grabbing her water bottle from her own purse, and entered what was obviously Eric’s home office. After booting up his computer, he inserted a disc, tapped a few keys, and after a few minutes of silence, he spoke.
“Robbie was hired by a Mr. Brown, also known as “the Deacon”, who was himself hired by a vampire named Raban. No Maker is listed, and there’s only one child, a female named Elspeth. Brown is based out of Dallas. And, according to Bill’s database, so is this Raban.”
“Well, that’s convenient since we’re going there tomorrow anyway,” Pam snarked, paraphrasing Sookie’s earlier statement.
“We are. You are not.”
“But Eric,” she began, not wanting her Maker to go into an unknown situation without her there to back him up. Beneath her snark and shoe fixation, she really did adore her Maker.
Trying not to be swayed by the beseeching look on her face, Eric replied, “No, Pam. I need you here as my Second to take over the Sheriff’s duties in my absence. You can play with Stan another time.” Eric knew of his child’s loyalty and protective instincts toward him; he felt the same for her. But he needed her in Shreveport protecting their interests and watching their collective backs while he was away.
Realizing that she was going to be staying in Shreveport whether she wanted to or not, Pam resignedly turned her attention to the outrage at hand. “So we have a vampire hiring a so-called Deacon to drain other vampires?”
“Yes. And furthermore, this Brown may well be an actual Deacon… for the Fellowship of the Sun’s so-called church.”
At Pam’s raised brows, he explained, “Sookie had seen in James’ thoughts that this Brown wore a particular tie pin. This evening we passed a billboard advertising this church of vampire hate, and their insignia matches his pin.”
Eric quickly turned to his computer, and ran a quick search. “And guess where this church of hate is based.”
Sookie and Pam both replied “Dallas”.
Suddenly tired and overwhelmed, Sookie threw her head back against the wall where she leaned. This was getting surreal. All roads didn’t lead to Rome, after all. Apparently a suspicious number of them also led to Dallas…where they were headed the next night. Oh, joy.
Sensing her fatigue and stress, Eric suggested to Sookie that she go take a relaxing bath. At her nod, he rose and told Pam to keep looking through the “borrowed” database.
He grabbed Sookie’s bag and led her down the hall with an arm about her waist until he came to a small setting room. He touched a panel on the wall, and Sookie gasped as a section of the wall slid away to reveal a door with an electronic keypad. Eric punched in some numbers, then opened the door to a set of steps leading down into darkness. He flipped on a light and motioned for Sookie to proceed.
At the bottom of the steps she came to a large bedroom remarkably similar to the one below the warehouse. This one was just larger, and subtly more masculine.
“You will not need a code to exit this area, but you will not be able to re-enter.”
“So don’t leave here till I’m ready, huh?”
He placed her bag on the bed, then indicated a closed door.
“The bathroom is through there. Take your time. I’ll be upstairs with Pam for at least another hour or so.” He turned his head as he heard a noise that escaped Sookie’s normal hearing. “Hang on,” he said just before vamp-speeding toward the bedroom door.
Less than a minute later he was back carrying two bags.
“Pam picked you up some snack foods and more drinks. Be sure and take them up with you tomorrow if you should leave this room before I rise. I have to ask you not to leave the house for any reason, though.”
“Oh, the usual, eh?” She joked tiredly.
Eric placed the bags on a nearby chair, then cupped Sookie’s face in his large hands. He slowly kissed her forehead, then spoke.
“I’m sorry.” He truly hated knowing that he was the cause of her fatigue and frustration. She deserved none of these hassles.
She wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her face in the curve of his shoulder, taking strength in his tall, muscular frame and in his arms as he lowered them to hold her close.
“It’s not your fault, Eric. It’s a pain, but it’s just the way things are for now. It won’t be like this forever.”
“No, it will not,” he resolutely promised as he lowered his nose to slide along the curve of her neck. “We’ll go to Dallas at first dark, and we’ll come home as soon as we can.”
Not wanting to leave her arms but knowing she needed a relaxing bath and then sleep, Eric gently squeezed her for a moment, placed a kiss to the top of her head, then reluctantly released her.
“Go. Take a nice warm bath, then get some sleep. I’ll join you as soon as I can.”
She laughed when he waggled his brows lustfully, then prowled through the bags when he left. Pam was getting better, she thought with surprise as she found several chocolate bars, three bottles and two cans of coffee drinks, a bag of powdered donuts, more gum than she’d chew in a year, two bags of chips that she actually liked, no beef jerky, no shoestrings, no tampons, and two pairs of clean socks in her size.
Shaking her head, she entered the bathroom and started the water to fill the tub. She was really too tired and overwhelmed to enjoy her luxurious surroundings, but did spot some nicely scented body wash.
After a long soak and a short shower, Sookie did feel a little better. She dried her hair enough to get by, donned her long sleep shirt, and quickly fell asleep between the extremely soft cotton sheets.
At some point she felt Eric’s strong arm slide along her waist and gently turn her to rest on her back. His lips felt surprisingly warm when he lowered his mouth to hers, and his tongue felt surprisingly warm, too, as he stroked and rubbed her own.
As his kiss warmed her from the inside out, his hand trailed down her side to grab the hem of her sleep shirt, then she felt his fingertips slowly brushing up her thigh as he raised the material. He broke their kiss for her to breathe, then kissed and nipped from her lips to her jaw, and down the side of her neck while he released the sleep shirt to cup her breast.
She gasped when he gently pinched her hardened nipple and started rolling it between his thumb and fingers while he sucked and nipped the side of her neck. Moaning and slowly kicking her legs about as she searched for more, she almost came undone when his lips closed around her nipple and he started sucking.
He slid his hand palm-down across her stomach until he reached her panties, which he ripped off her with one flick of his wrist.
“Spread your legs for me, Sookie.” His voice sounded every bit as gravelly as it had earlier when he’d held her against the wall.
Unable and unwilling to stop herself, she did as he asked, and was rewarded when he immediately ran a fingertip lightly across her swollen, sensitive clit. Any other time she might have been embarrassed by how very wet she was for him, but just then, she couldn’t care less.
Each stroke across her clit was followed by a stronger lick and suck on her nipple and then he added a second finger and stroked her clit a little harder and faster. At some point he switched nipples and tongued and sucked harder and harder, and stroked her clit harder and faster until she came so hard she woke up.
Eric was innocently dead for the day beside her, with one arm wrapped around her waist.
Damn blood dreams.