Pam’s voice came from behind where Eric stood on the rooftop of Fangtasia.
“What did you do, go down here this morning?” she asked incredulously. She could not remember an evening when he had arrived at the club before she did, and as it was less than thirty minutes after sunset, she assumed Eric had not rested in his home.
He ignored her and crouched down, surveying the parking lot. It had not been his intention to remain at the club. Once Pam had left after closing the bar, Eric found himself in his office, accompanied by the only blonde waitress he could find. What should have been a routine and somewhat satisfying experience had turned into a fiasco. The girl looked wrong, sounded wrong, smelled wrong and failed to hold his interest, though not for lack of trying. Furious with himself and for having to glamor the crying wreck bent over his desk out of what was obviously not going to happen, he had stood in the then-empty main room of the club, staring at the spot in which Sookie had sat hours before.
“I had no choice,” he grumbled, standing up again. “What did you find?”
“Nothing interesting. She’s squeaky clean as far as I can tell.” Pam sighed unnecessarily as she came to stand beside him. “Not many to miss her, if that’s your concern,” she added, though she was coming to realize that it was not.
“What of Merlotte?”
Pam shrugged. “She no longer works for him. As for the shifter himself, you know as much of him as I do. Miss Stackhouse has been living from her ridiculously meager savings.”
Eric glanced at Pam and frowned. “She’s going to take the job.”
“Is that not the point?”
It had been, when he and Pam had placed the ad. “It is,” he replied.
Pam did not think he seemed sure. “Hire someone else, Eric. It does not have to be her.”
He turned to face her fully and crossed his arms. “I believe it does.”
“She’s affecting your judgement,” Pam hissed. “This is your Maker we’re talking about-”
“You wish to send someone out there, for whom you have this mysterious hard-on-”
“I said enough!” he barked, his voice loud enough to disturb the patrons standing in line below, forcing them to crane their necks to see who was on the roof.
Eric grabbed Pam roughly and flew them both to the rear entrance of the club before dragging her with him to his office. “I will not allow any harm to come to her!”
“What the hell is wrong with you?” Pam seethed. “Your last day man died, Eric! For all we know, it could have been Godric himself who drained him!” While Pam could not have cared less about another dead human, she now knew a particular human her Maker would care about very much, should she end up dead.
“I will go with her,” he said quietly.
“Then why not go yourself?” Pam demanded. “Have we not been through this? What is she going to find for you, that you could not find yourself?”
“I cannot, it is not my place!” he said angrily.
“Were something wrong with you, Master,” she said, emphasizing the word, “I would seek you out myself!” They had argued the point before, many times, and it only became more and more frustrating for her.
“You are not me, and I am not Godric.”
“And thank fuck for that!” she replied, throwing her hands in the air. Pam snarled and marched to the door of his office, flinging it open to find a very startled Sookie with her fist poised, ready to knock. “Well, look who showed, just in the nick-”
“Pam!” Eric yelled, causing both the women to flinch. “You will apologize and leave.”
“My sincerest apologies, Miss Stackhouse,” Pam said sweetly, and Sookie nodded, slowly lowering her hand. “If you’ll excuse me?”
Sookie hastily stepped aside and stared after the vampire as she darted down the hall. “Sorry,” Sookie said softly. “The bartender sent me back…”
“Sit,” Eric said brusquely and stalked to his desk. He quickly brushed some papers into one of the drawers and slapped shut the computer, catching sight of Sookie as he did so. He felt his anger dissipate as he watched her nervously smooth out the skirt of the sundress she wore and glance around his office.
“Hey,” she said kindly, once she noticed him watching. “Everything okay?”
Eric chuckled and slowly shook his head. “I am sure you sense that everything is not ‘okay.'”
“What were y’all arguing about?” she asked hesitantly.
“Work,” he replied vaguely.
“Do you still want to discuss the job, or should I come back another time?”
Eric wondered if Sookie would allow him to discuss the job with her perched on his lap. He knew how her soft backside would feel, resting on top of him. “We will discuss it now.”
They stared at each other for a moment, and Eric caught himself unintentionally attempting to glamor her into coming across the room to him. He was about to stop, when he realized Sookie did not appear to be affected. Eric immediately stood and began to move toward her.
“Eric?” she asked nervously. “What are you doing?” There was a tickling sensation in the back of her head, and her palms began to sweat. He had reached the couch and stood over her, glaring. “What are you…what?” She was as far back in her seat as possible with nowhere else to go.
“Look at me,” he commanded, and she did, for a second, before averting her eyes and instead searching for an escape. “Look at me!”
“No! Stop! Whatever you’re doing, just…stop!” Sookie was almost in tears, confused by Eric’s sudden change in demeanor and embarrassed with herself.
Immediately he stepped back, amazed, as he had never encountered a human he could not persuade or hypnotize. “You are human, yes?” he asked seriously.
“What?” she asked, her voice breaking. “Am I human?”
Eric could not get into her head, and that fascinated him. He wondered if it were just with him, or was she that way with all vampires? He did not plan on asking Pam to test any theories. “I have frightened you,” he said matter-of-factly. Perhaps it did not matter that he couldn’t glamor her, he could probably scare her into doing anything he wanted. “I apologize.”
Sookie stared, open-mouthed, at the tall vampire in front of her. “Is this what it’s like all the time?’ she asked, gesturing to him and the door. “Are you and Pam always like this?”
“Only around you, it seems,” he replied, smirking. He cautiously moved closer, extending his hand and smiling. “Come.”
“Come where?” she asked suspiciously and eye-balled his hand.
“I will not harm you,” he said seriously. “Come. We will get you a drink.”
Sookie tamped down her anxiety at what had happened in the office as she followed Eric to the same booth as the night before. There had been something going on in her head back there, and she was sure Eric had been the one responsible. He hadn’t looked too happy about it either, though he had apologized for making her uncomfortable.
At first Sookie had thought he would touch her, that his advance was sexual. The strange sensations in her head, though, had confused her, and she had soon become mortified at her body’s reaction to him, whatever he was trying to do. Had it gone on one second longer, she was sure she would have burst into tears, and that would have been the end to her non-existent new career.
She slid into the booth, and was surprised to find Eric sitting down next to her. “Is Pam joining us?”
Eric glanced at the bar and shook his head. “No, I do not believe so.”
Sookie swallowed and tried to subtly move away from him, but his size made it impossible to not be touching some part of him. “Can I get a drink?” she blurted, thinking there was no way she would make it through the weird evening without some help.
Within the minute, something was brought for her to the table, and Sookie downed half of it appreciatively. “Thanks,” she said, wiping her mouth. It tasted tart and fruity, and it went down probably a little too easily.
Eric seemed content to sit by her and watch over the room, and Sookie was content to finish her drink and start on the fresh one that arrived soon after. He really was something to look at, and she couldn’t help but sneak glances at him when he wasn’t looking. Even if nothing came of the job, at least her new boss was easy on the eyes.
“Oh, my gosh,” she exclaimed. “I didn’t tell you I want the job!”
Eric laughed and slipped his cool hand over her bare knee to squeeze it. “You mean you are not here to simply enjoy my company?” he asked dryly.
“I do enjoy your company!” she said sincerely, if a little too loudly, before clapping her hand over her mouth. “I don’t drink much,” she admitted.
“I can tell.” His cool fingertips grazed the inside of her thigh ever so slightly as he withdrew his hand. “I still wish for you to give it the week, before making your commitment.” It was a standard procedure he used with human employees, as opposed to the three month period to which they were accustomed. It did not take a vampire three months to figure out the intentions of a human employee, and it would not take Eric a week to know he would not let Sookie go.
“Alright,” she said agreeably. “Should I start tomorrow?”
“You started the moment you pointed out the underage women in the bar last night,” he said smoothly. “Pam has already placed you on my payroll.”
Sookie was confused, but the word payroll helped her to focus. “Do you offer benefits?”
Eric chuckled darkly and didn’t bother to keep his fangs from clicking down. “I can offer many benefits, Miss Stackhouse.”
“Wow,” she said in awe, staring at his mouth. “Even dental?” Her cheeks turned bright red and her eyes widened. “Oh, my God, ignore me!” Never had the sight of someone’s teeth caused her to reflexively cross her legs.
“Yes, you will receive the information on Fangtasia’s health plan,” he said, resisting the urge to show Sookie the benefits of his mouth. He needed to redirect the conversation, as his usually straightforward plans of action tended more and more to veer wildly when Miss Stackhouse was involved. “We will also come up with a schedule of your hours,” Eric went on, though in his mind she would be at his disposal twenty-four hours a day, every day.
Sookie tried to sit up straighter in her seat and regain some composure. “Right. We haven’t discussed salary, either.” She already knew the waitresses at Eric’s club were paid slightly above minimum wage, which had impressed her, and that the tips were plentiful, which had surprised her. Fangtasia was definitely not Merlotte’s.
“By definition, as my personal assistant, you will be always be on the clock.”
She would have to take Eric at his word, as she’d never been a personal assistant, or known someone who had one. “Okay.”
“You will keep track of the details,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “The hours you are actively completing what’s asked of you.”
“Alright,” Sookie said agreeably. “Would that be, like, here?”
“Perhaps. I may need you to run errands. Or I may require your presence at my home.” Eric surprised himself with his statement, as his previous assistant had never once set foot anywhere near Eric’s resting place. “For that, you will be paid fifty.”
“Dollars?” she asked, choking on the sip of drink she had attempted to swallow.
“Per errand?” she clarified. Surely she hadn’t heard him right.
“Per hour.” Eric looked down at Sookie and frowned. “Is that inadequate?” He had paid the late Bobby Burnham less than half that, but perhaps Eric should have quadrupled the amount. Since he could not glamor her, he assumed financially enticing her would improve his chances with securing her loyalty. “You will be compensated for travelling, as well.”
“Deal!” Sookie squeaked, nearly knocking over her drink. “Deal, no, sounds good. It’s…yeah, perfect. I’ll, uh…I’ll sign the papers…whenever…” Her hands shook with relief badly enough that she tried to hide them in her lap under the table. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Dress code! Is there something I should wear?” Sookie hadn’t noticed anyone in a Fangtasia t-shirt, and she couldn’t imagine running around for Eric in any of the skimpy get-ups the waitresses were barely wearing. Even Pam’s clingy, black, Halloween-inspired dress seemed inappropriate.
He glanced at the view of her cleavage afforded him from his height and smirked. “I prefer you the way you look now.” Sookie appeared, to Eric, innocent and healthy. She looked human. He was attracted to her in a way that was different for him, and he had no desire to alter her appeal.
Sookie blinked and glanced down at her dress. She’d had no idea what to wear that evening, but it had been so muggy, and it was one of her nicer summer sundresses. Pairing it with strappy sandals, she’d figured she looked dressy enough for a casual evening out as opposed to an afternoon barbeque. “Okay.”
“Sookie…” Eric started, before gazing across the room and falling silent for a moment. “What has been your experience with vampires?”
She tried not to snort as she finished her drink. “Well…there’s you and Pam,” she said earnestly. Sookie tried not to stare at the handful of other ones around the room. “I’ve got no issues with them. With you. Any of you,” she stammered. “Is that what you mean?”
It wasn’t. Something about Sookie was different. He sensed it, Pam sensed it, and if that were the case, Eric knew other vampires would sense it, as well. “We will discuss it another time,” he promised. The vampires under him, the Sheriff of Area 5, would recognize that she was at the very least, part of his retinue. Her presence with him the last two evenings in a row would alert those closest to Eric, that she was his. He could probably avoid a public declaration for some time, depending on how he decided to best utilize her.
Eric casually stretched his arm around her, resting it on the back of the seat they shared. “This will be enough,” he said reassuringly, ignoring the confused look on Sookie’s face. “For now.”