**A/N: Originally I started this part off with Eric and Sookie already being in Dallas (oops, was that a plot tease?) but then I realized – we have to GET them there first, right? Thus The Second Night was born. At this point this segment is projected to have three parts. We’ll see. Enjoy!**
Eric barely kept himself from reaching for his phone when he rose the next afternoon. It was annoying enough that his first thought was of Sookie, but when his hand automatically reached for that damn phone… Some strange part of his brain assured him that checking in with her regarding her safety was, indeed, an appropriate reason, but his gut told him that he mainly just wanted to hear her voice.
This wasn’t…this was not like him. Entanglements, engagements, the ubiquitous one night stands…that was the life he had lived for so long. Recently the all-you-can-drink buffet known as Fangtasia had vastly simplified his emotional calendar, and that was just fine with him.
There was no need for him to start trying to envision things like “a future” and “going slowly because she’s a virgin” and holding her on his lap simply because “it felt nice”.
There simply wasn’t.
He fervently hoped the old man never got wind of this.
What the fuck is wrong with me? I’ve known the girl for a handful of hours and I’m wanting to, what, call her? Check in with her like some acne-ridden teenaged bimbob with no impulse control? Next thing I’ll be wanting to pick her flowers and toss chocolates at her or something. I’m a grown man, for fuck’s sake – I’m well over a thousand years old!
Suitably appalled with himself, he ventured irately into his maid-cleaned but long unused bathroom and took a quick shower.
As he prowled through this particular safe house afterward, he cursed himself for his inattention the previous night. Had he been thinking clearly instead of devoting the vast majority of his ill-functioning brain cells to Sookie and her lips – he rolled his eyes when he briefly considered what a great band name that would be – he would have left earlier and flown to his real home.
This safe house was fine barring the couple of spiders he’d already had to end. The Were maid crew he employed cleaned it monthly and ensured the blood supplies he maintained for emergency use were viable, but the place was distressingly mundane.
He and Pam both kept several changes of clothes and some preferred toiletry items on hand, but that was about it. Otherwise the place was little more than a facade for the local humans in the neighborhood. It was a place to crash but it wasn’t home.
No…oh, no, I had to “hang out” with the pretty little telepath in her decaying farmhouse, deal with her bitch of a grandmother…fuck, well, I did play with a pussy but its fucking name is Tina! What the hell is wrong with me? I could have had my choice from any bar in the city last night…could have trolled any club, any establishment…had my pick of any flavor…
He squished another spider. The damn things gave him the shivers thanks to one day too many spent in a safe but questionable location. He’d yet to spot a web so he knew the maids were doing their job…maybe the damn things were just attracted to him.
I meet one girl, a young chit of a mortal at that, and all of a sudden I’m playing with cats and changing my entire fucking life? Well, ok, so I’ve been considering making some changes…vaguely dreaming of the possibilities…so fucking bored…and like she said, I do miss my Maker…
He stared hard into a dark corner convinced yet another creepy-crawly lurked somewhere in that area but didn’t see any sort of movement.
Ah, fuck, I’m even quoting her in my own thoughts now. Get hold of yourself – you’re a fucking Viking for Odin’s sake! The old man would laugh his ass off at me if he could hear this.
While berating himself he gave into temptation after flicking his hair out of his eyes and checked his phones for messages. Nothing new on the burner meant that Rasul hadn’t heard anything, so he checked his regular phone. Alcide’s “all clear” update caused a bit more relief than he wanted to admit, but he smirked at Cataliades’ confirmations. The Dae had readied several different types of contracts and had scheduled time for a meeting to be held as requested at “the young lady’s abode” an hour after dark.
After Eric had safely reached his over-day location that morning, he had fired off several other texts, one of which was again to the attorney, this time asking that certain specific pre-arranged documents be readied for his signature.
Throughout the years, basically the entire length of his servitude to the teenage drama queen, once in a while he would allow himself to indulge in dreams of other lives, of other choices, and by nature part of those night-dreams involved parsing out the logistics of how to go about implementing this or that mythical option.
The dream phase was over.
A surge of rare, fundamental excitement tingled in his blood as if he were gearing up for battle.
He was going to do it.
About fucking time.
The spider hiding in the corner chose that moment to move and Eric pounced on it with a brief victory yell. Damn thing hadn’t stood a chance.
As he cleaned this latest blob of spider goo off the sole of his boot, he thought about how he’d never planned on staying in this territory for very long in the first place. As time passed, however, he grew comfortable in the lazy routine, and that comfort and convenience had lulled him into an illusion of contentment.
Well, the illusion had burst wide open thanks to the interference of some sunshine in a curvy blonde bottle.
So…tonight was the night he would finally execute Phase 1. Once he had Sookie’s telepathic autograph binding her to the contract of her choice, he would take his turn with the attorney and ‘sell’ all his holdings within the state of Louisiana…to his Maker. His houses, his cars, his apartments, his businesses, his warehouses…everything with a deed or title attached would be transferred immediately. Afterward and at his leisure, he would decide what he wanted to keep or sell, and go from there.
He had thought strongly about deeding Fangtasia over to Pam, perhaps even encouraging her to follow in his political footsteps and become Sheriff herself, but nagging doubts about the teenage tyrant stayed his hand. Pam would certainly excel at either occupation and it was, indeed, time for her to spread her wings – not to mention use her own credit cards – but he wasn’t willing to risk her safety.
No, my spoiled rotten brat is coming with me after she solves the murderer-brother problem. No way in hell am I going to leave her to the tender auspices of a pissed off Sophie-Anne. Time-wise there was some leeway but once the queen realizes that Sookie is out of her grasp, Bill is MIA, and I’ve officially resigned…a text counts as a resignation, right? Anyway, once she realizes that she’s lost control of so much, she is going to go ballistic. That would be an interesting event to watch, but Pam doesn’t deserve to be caught up in the fallout. I should keep a live feed going at the bar to catch queenie-poo in action because she will surely fly up to cause a scene. Hmm…”Godric” could put Ginger in charge…that would be fun to see, too…no, I can’t do that…unfortunately. I’ll figure out who to put in charge of the bar later but it’s time to set the screamer free.
Eric promptly fired off another text to the attorney authorizing him to anonymously gift Ginger with $25,000. He added instructions for the cash to be given to her along with a notice of termination after he and his were long gone. It was beyond time for the woman to begin a new life for herself…somewhere else, but damn she could scream. The echoes from receiving such a bonus would undoubtedly be heard for miles.
Maybe she should go into film…horror and porn flicks always need screamers…
Given the broad spectrum of upcoming events, he fired off a final text, this one to Pam ordering her to stay home until he arrived as soon as possible after dark.
He grinned a little evilly. Pam would have so much packing to do. Even if she remained for another full week – the timeline was flexible enough that it was likely, plus she had a couple murders to solve – she would be busy packing and shipping the entire time if he didn’t keep tabs on her progress.
She tended to get caught up examining – if not outright fondling – every single thing she owned unless he reminded her of silly things like “deadlines” and “shipping schedules”.
Sookie…the thought niggled that she could possibly choose not to remain in Dallas. True, the night before she had seemed in possession of at least some common sense, and he had tried to present the situation to her honestly without purposefully scaring the excrement out of her. But she was young, and one constant throughout all his time on this earth was that the young always thought themselves invincible.
She didn’t seem stupid, though, so that was in her favor. Unfortunately she wasn’t susceptible to glamour, so he would have to give some serious thought about what to do if she chose not to work with Texas, or with some other vampire in a different kind of situation. He was certain Godric would have some ideas of his own.
As it was, he hoped Cataliades had worked some contract magic and that between them they would be able to convince Sookie to sign something, anything, naming her as his personal asset. He wasn’t sure how the whole asset conversation with her would go, but had faith in his persuasive abilities.
After investigating the stockpile of frozen blood, he unenthusiastically heated and swallowed enough to tide himself over until he could feed from a live source at the bar later.
Sookie smelled compellingly sweet and luscious…too much so for him to risk being in her vicinity without having swallowed at least something.
The thought that maybe he wouldn’t want to partake of the bar’s offerings later on with Sookie in tow popped into his mind, but he firmly ignored it.
Food was food, right? And a vampire’s gotta eat, right?
For some reason the residual blood in his mouth suddenly tasted even worse.
While waiting for the sun to lower he inspected the house for anything he might want to take with him to Dallas. Although he normally never kept anything of any value in any of his safe places, there was always the chance that something…
With a sigh he plopped down on the rarely used early ’90s version of a sofa in the den.
Honesty was something he valued over most anything, and honesty with himself was a necessity. That honesty, unfortunately, demanded that he admit something harsh, something that caused his face to tighten into a grimace, something quite…lowering.
He was impatient to see this Sookie chit again.
There, he admitted it.
Somehow that sweet, sassy, bold-eyed blonde had managed to make him… feel things.
Last night she and her temperament, her bright eyes and her subtle humor had taken him by storm. Today, in the cold dim light of later afternoon, he had thought to achieve some perspective. He had hoped to find a way to keep the excitement of an exciting new phase in his life while tucking those strange, unnecessary, and highly inconvenient feelings into a little box or something and hiding, or better yet, ignoring them as would be appropriate for a vampire of his age and stature.
But no, of course that hadn’t worked. Naturally his innate self-honesty would choose then to pop up – it just would not let him gloss over the situation and get on with his night.
Eric scrubbed his hands through his too-long hair then rested his hands over his eyes as he leaned against the sofa back.
What is it about her that intrigues me so? Her attitude? Her fortitude and gentle humor with her grandmother? Just to look at her she’s not that special. I’ve certainly had countless others with bigger breasts, better bodies, more classically beautiful features… Many were much better educated and most were by far more experienced, some even having been trained in the arts of pleasing a man… So what is it about Sookie Stackhouse?
He shifted his hips trying to rearrange his himself in jeans that suddenly felt tighter.
Thinking back, it must have involved her eyes. An intriguing blend of smart and wise with naiveté and innocence spiked with humor and compassion… Patience, candor, and bravery… Maybe she has magic in her eyes… It’s like they’re a vacuum cleaner sucking me in!
Her lips… She certainly has magic in her sweet, soft lips…
Oh, oh hell no…
Don’t go there…
Eric’s not-so-hastily completed second shower of the evening was oddly both more and less satisfying than his first, but wind resistance was a thing that existed and he would be flying…
Finally…eventually…the damn sun fell below the horizon. Eric ran a last check over his house, saw nothing he specifically wanted to take with him knowing movers would collect it all later, and took to the air.
Pam answered his knock with surprising speed for one so generally prone to laziness. Still dressed in her pink skull and kitten jammies with her hair going everywhere but how she would like, she waved him in and snuggled back into her favorite ’70s replica beanbag blob. She resumed cuddling her mug of heated blood as she obviously waited for him to speak.
Suddenly Eric was at a rare loss for words. How could he explain the slowly building ennui, the dangerous boredom camouflaged as “contentment” he’d been suffering with for years? How could he explain to the dreadfully practical, pragmatic Pam that…that things were suddenly different now? That he’d had enough and it was simply time to break ranks and veer off into a new, brighter, almost limitless direction?
How could he explain the Sookie effect?
He sighed, then a mischievous twinkle took residence in his eyes.
“Pack your bags, Pamela. You have two murders to solve within about a week then you’re going home to your GrandMaker.”
Pam promptly spewed warm blood over her Laura Ashley carpet.
“And get that cleaned before it stains.”
Thirty-five minutes later Eric left a bemused Pam with orders to take the night off but, considering Compton, the Queen, and various other issues, to remain available. And to get her carpet cleaned.
While he had glossed over what he was now considering “the Sookie effect,” his child was brighter than he would sometimes like and had simply quirked an infuriating brow at him.
With an annoying lighter heart and no reply, he left en route for the relative if questionable sanity of Bon Temps.
He had to consciously tamp down the smile tugging at his lips…smiling could lead to grinning and flying while grinning equaled bug teeth and that wasn’t the impression he wanted to give Sookie.
To refresh your memory, there is a drill of sorts, but you know it.
This is where you run to the toilet or grab a drink/snack/fractious offspring/nagging kitty and do what must be done.
Afterwards, you bring me a coffee (and a grilled cheese with pickles and fries if you want) then settle back down to read the rest of what crawled out of my inglorious brainbox.
Got it? Good. I knew you were smart.
As he circled her property, he could detect only one heartbeat, and since he knew the difference between the grandmother and the granddaughter…
His heart sank while his anger rose. Sookie wasn’t home. Her car was; her grandmother was; but she wasn’t.
Where the fuck is she? What the fuck has happened? Why hasn’t that damn wolf called?
With a snarl he landed just inside the forest mere feet from one of Alcide’s pack members. Before he could say a word, the jeans-and-plaid wearing male spoke.
“Northman,” he acknowledged respectfully but not fearfully. “That shifter boss of hers called about half an hour ago, said one of the waitresses had to go home and he needed Sookie to come in. Alcide tried to talk her out of it but when she wouldn’t budge, he drove her in himself.”
Trying to ignore the brief flash of fear that surged over this stupidest of all the stupid choices the stupid little chit could have made, Eric nodded at the adult loner Were, Trey something, then soared into the air. He headed for the shifter’s bar at the flying version of a dead run.
As of yet he hadn’t had the fucking time to secure Compton, of course, and he instantly both thought of and discarded the option of procuring the procurer in his own condemn-worthy hovel next door. He could do so easily, but without a vehicle for transport he would have to wait for Pam to arrive thus leaving Sookie open to the threat of Sophie-Anne, Andre, The Berts…not to mention some lunatic running around killing young females known for “consorting” with vampires.
For now, Compton would have to wait.
And what the hell was that damn shifter thinking? Calling in a young woman known for befriending vampires to work when he knows there’s a serial killer on the loose? What the hell? Fucking balls for brains…
Within moments he was floating over the stale ale and fried grease haven known as Merlotte’s. After texting Cataliades that he and Sookie might be running a little late, he tuned his ears and nose to the vermin down below, and sure enough caught the barest whiff of Sookie’s scent. Sam the shifter was, true to form, barking orders at the cooks and one of them was humorously mouthing back at him in a way Eric could definitely appreciate.
He smiled begrudgingly when he heard Sookie backing up something called a “Lala” said against Sam’s pissy attitude. When the shifter decided to bark at Sookie, however, all humor fled Eric’s face.
Seconds later – after impatiently flicking his hair out of his eyes yet again – he flung open the doors to the fine establishment and entered as though accompanied by his own movie score. Every eye in the joint turned to him but he only had eyes for Sookie.
And there she was…standing by the bar apparently waiting for a couple of pitchers of the shifter’s watered-down beer. The silence that suddenly descended in the bar caught her attention and she looked over in his direction. His heart gave an odd little jump when her eyes brightened noticeably upon seeing him.
“Just a minute,” she said, her quiet voice clearly carrying over the mostly silent bar while her sweet smile seemed to brighten the night.
He nodded then turned his glare toward Sam now seemingly torn between scurrying around behind the bar and trying to emit some sort of puppy growl.
It seemed as though the mongrel’s eyes then focused a tad too long on Sookie’s ass as she walked away to deliver the pitchers.
Did he just try to growl at me? Was that even supposed to *be* a growl? It sounded more like a Yorkie startled by its own fart, but please let it have been a growl. Oh please, oh please…
Suddenly spoiling for a fight, a feral grin tipped Eric’s lips as he strode toward Sam. Now that he had seen with his own eyes that Sookie was fine, a little frazzled but in good health, he decided to have a conversation with her soon to be ex-boss.
As far as supes went, Sam wasn’t that bad. Ok, he was shifty, ineffective, and irrelevant as far as the circle of life went, but so long as he was on the same “live and let live” wavelength that Eric preferred, he was decidedly easy to ignore.
Eric tipped his head toward the end of the bar where he decided to take up post. He’d thought about taking this to the shifter’s office but wanted to keep his eyes on Sookie…especially in case Compton decided to show. With that probability in mind, he texted Pam to come to the shifter’s bar.
The brat was fantastic backup and he wouldn’t put it past Compton to bring trouble with him be they more drainers, the Disco Triplets, or even more truly awful clothing choices.
He barely stopped a smirk in appreciation of Sookie’s name for the rabid destructivists. She did have a way with words…
“What do you want?”
Sam’s snarled question naturally struck him the wrong way.
“You to be neutered but I’ll settle for you firing Sookie tonight.”
He smirked as the scruffy manling’s jaw dropped before the sputtering started.
Surveying the bar room as he kept an eye on Sookie, Eric ignored phrases like “you can’t tell me what to do” and “best waitress” and “blah blah blah” as the mutated were wore himself down.
“Enough,” he finally declared. “When she next approaches the bar, you will pull her aside and you will terminate her employment.”
Just as Sam inhaled in preparation for being furious, in walked none other than Bill fucking Compton.
As Eric sprang forward, he sent a burst of “get your ass here now” to Pam. This could devolve quickly depending on…
Oh, hey, would you look at that…
Sookie had also seen Compton’s arrival and in true temper had grabbed her tray from the table where she had delivered the pitchers and stalked right up to the sideburned cocksucker.
Eric knew he had never seen a more beautifully enraged bull as he slowed his roll to listen as Sookie called the shocked cretin every name in the book and quite a few she apparently made up on the spot.
She truly did have a way with words…
The enraptured denizens of Merlotte’s received an impromptu education on theories of Compton’s ancestry and on blood bonds and other ways vampire blood affected humans.
Sookie’s tirade was a thing of beauty.
As Eric came to a stop beside the irate telepath, he noticed a nice looking but otherwise slovenly young male loping over from a booth across the room while self-importantly “hauling up his britches”.
Something about him… The brother…that must be the brother. Need to make a chance to sniff him…
Sookie’s furious voice drew his attention back to the confrontation.
“… care who you think you are, Bill Compton, but don’t you ever call me again and don’t you ever come by my house again! And did you really think you could con me into letting you haul me off to your bitch-queen? Really? Are you so stupid that you actually thought that shit would work? You ain’t that pretty and I don’t even want to think about your dick, asshole, so what did you think you were going to use to force me to go – your disgusting blood? Hell no! I am my own person and you can NOT have me. Is any of this sinking into your thick skull?”
“But Sookeh,” he finally took the chance to began his spiel while wearing an affected look he obviously hoped somehow appeared both “innocent” and “wounded”. Eric rolled his eyes at the cretin’s horrendous version of a Southern accent and the bad acting. “I don’t understand what has gotten into you,” he whined as he turned suspiciously angry eyes toward Eric. “I see you have made Mr. Northman’s acquaintance – what lies has he been fillin’ your pretty little head with?”
The brother arrived just as Compton reached forward to grab Sookie’s arm and surprised Eric with how quickly he intercepted the vampire’s hand.
“Now hold on there, Vampire Bill,” he stated more firmly than his appearance would have suggested. “My sister said for you not to even call her again and I think that means you ain’t got the right to touch her anymore, either, so why don’t you just keep them hands to yourself.”
Pride showed in Sookie’s face as she watched her brother come to her defense. The boy even planted himself between his sister and the aggressor.
Eric was glad. He had gotten the impression the night before that the brother was shiftless and incompetent, but perhaps the boy simply lacked a decent role model?
Air movement carried the boy’s scent and Eric caught that same slightly sweet “otherness” that was part of Sookie’s unique fragrance. That otherness was stronger in Sookie, but there was definitely something about that family…
Compton began sputtering, and somewhere in the background the shifter began whimpering about the scene they were causing, but Eric’s eyes were focused on the vampire before him. He could sense Pam’s approach and hoped she had her usual set of silvers in her van.
Before Compton could attempt to either touch Sookie again or scurry from the premises like the cowardly rat he was, Eric decided game time was over. Firmly tamping down the surprisingly strong urge to rend the disgusting little fuck-up limb from limb, he instead grabbed Compton by the upper arm and jacked him up so that his gait would be too uneven to find purchase on the dingy floor.
Loudly so that the entire bar would hear, Eric intoned, “Bill Compton, you are under arrest for not registering your presence in my Area, for illegally maintaining a decrepit but unregistered hovel in my Area, for not reporting knowledge of drainers to your Sheriff, and for the deaths of those drainers. I would add “criminal stupidity” and “crimes against hair” but unfortunately those still aren’t viable charges.”
Pam chose that moment to enter the bar. She smirked as she took in the scene then a bright, chilling smile exposed her dropped fangs. It provided a nice contrast to her oddly prim pink and beige sweater set.
“My, my, what do we have here? Eric, does this mean we can finally arrest him for crimes against fashion and hairstyles? Nature? Oh, I have a list…”
Eric almost laughed – Pam was seconds away from clapping like an excited seal over finally having a viable reason to be rid of the walking mothball-scented Crime Against Sideburns. She truly detested Compton…as would any vampire with a brain in their head, and his child was smarter than most.
A sudden thought struck fear in his gut – what if Pam and Sookie didn’t get along? Or, potentially catastrophically worse, what if they did?
“Unfortunately not, but he’ll be serving his time in painfully debilitating silver. Do you have your cuffs and chains?”
“Of course,” she replied with a slightly worrisome purr before blurring back outside.
“Now wait one minute,” Compton demanded in a pompous huff as his feet vied for purchase on the grimy bar floor. “I am here on The Queen’s Business,” he proclaimed as though anyone believed him…or cared. The locals’ expressions didn’t hint at any loyalty toward “Vampire Bill”. “You will unhand me at once!”
The demand fell on deaf ears with more than a few snickers from the fascinated locals as Pam blurred back from her van.
See how fast it came back to ya?
Yeah, I thought so. Told’ja you were smart.
But srsly, you gotta go potty by now, right?
UTIs are a thing, y’all…
My coffee’s cold.
From his periphery, Eric kept an eye on Sookie as she observed the proceedings with a tight smile. Her arms were folded across her ample chest, her jaw was set, and her eyes were fierce. Her brother had awkwardly patted her shoulder a few times then stayed by her side with one hand crammed into a pocket while the other one scratched at various body parts in no discernible pattern. He may have rocked back and forth in his dirty old work boots and he might be giving the vague impression that he had a flea problem, but he did stay by his sister’s side.
Eric quickly ran a mental compression.
Side by side as they were, he could see a generic familial resemblance, but had to agree with his intuition – it did seem as though there was something else in the blood they shared.
Once Pam had the prisoner secured – ah, the scent of burning enemy flesh early in the night could have a definite appeal – he released his hold on the flabby arm and walked with his child as she took the whining, squirming load to the back of her van. There she promptly gagged Compton with a silver-enhanced “specialty” ball gag that he did not want to know how she came to possess.
After slamming the door shut, she turned to breathe softly into Eric’s ear, “You know that by now he’s calling for mommy, right?”
With a nod, Eric allowed her to see the text he was just then initiating…to Thalia.
Only rarely did he ever see the ancient vampiress, but they had an understanding. She would be perfect to have on hand should pity-boy actually get his mommy-Maker to show up to save him from his highly deserved incarceration. Thalia reminded him of a badly-trained but ultimately decent guard dog with a few…people issues. Treat her well, though – give her the respect she deserved and the solitude she preferred – and she responded appropriately. Annoy the shit out of her and she’d end you.
He tended to agree with her sentiments.
“Ahh,” she replied in understanding then tilted her head toward the occupied van. “Number 2?”
He nodded in approval; the second cell in Fangtasia’s basement would be perfect for Compton’s week-long pre-death vacation.
Given the complexity of the unfolding situation and his lack of familiarity with one blonde telepath, leaving some maneuverability in his scheduling was a necessity – logistics were great but one had to remain flexible with one’s plans. Luckily, depending on how things worked out, Compton’s “vacation” could easily be extended as long as two weeks, but the sooner that moldy blob of rat shit disappeared, the better.
The only hold-up was that Lorena would undoubtedly know the instant her overly coddled progeny called for his mommy, and would most certainly know the instant he dissolved. Given that Lorena was the laziest and most self-absorbed social climber ever Turned, it was just as likely she would leave her beloved child to his fate until it was too late.
Either way, that was where Thalia would come in.
With her vast age came extraordinary strength – it would be nothing to her to haul his silver-bound ass to another territory to meet the sun. Should Lorena be a problem, Thalia could simply enjoy an unexpected two-fer and be on her way.
Pam reached for the driver’s door but stopped when the growing sounds of a heated disagreement between Sookie and the shifter reached both their ears.
In a blur Eric reentered the bar with Pam hot on his heels.
“…don’t give a crap what you think, Sam! You ain’t my daddy to be tellin’ me jack shit about who I can date or what I can or can’t do when I’m not workin’!”
Sookie stood toe-to-toe with the visibly frustrated shifter. Her brother stood nearby keeping a close eye on the situation but wasn’t intervening. He somehow managed to appear both concerned and confused.
“Sookie, listen to me! You can’t trust none of them vamps! Not a single one of them! You know that! You saw how Bill was and Northman probably knew all along what he was up to! Do you want to end up some sort of fangbanger? Is that what you want?”
“Whether I do or not ain’t none of your damn business! What the hell has gotten into you?”
He scrubbed his hands through his brushy reddish hair and then gesticulated wildly.
“Dammit, you saw what happened to Dawn and Maudette. They died because they were vamp whores. You know we got a murderer running loose! I just don’t want the same thing happening to you. I know you’ve got a heart of gold, Sookie, but you can’t go around believing every little thing any vampire tells you. Next thing you know the bastard who murdered Dawn and Maudette will be going after you, too.”
Eric, who had been staring between Sookie and Sam, noticed Pam turning her head sharply to the left as if something, or someone, had caught her eye.
Leaving her to her own devices, he stalked on over to Sookie and rested a hand on her waist. A weird little something in his chest seemed to unfurl when she snuggled minutely into his side, but he would investigate it later.
“Everything ok over here?”
She shook her head.
“For some reason Sam here thinks he can tell me who I can be friends with and who I can’t. He puts it like he’s lookin’ out for me and even brings up the murders of girls who hang out with vampires, but not an hour ago he’s the one calling me to get me to come to work after dark to take Arleen’s place. Seems to me that if he was so damn worried about my safety he wouldn’t want me messin’ around after dark while some murderer is runnin’ around killing girls with bite marks.”
Sam started sputtering but his guilty expression said more.
Suddenly the little telepath by Eric’s side grabbed the back of his shirt and went stiff as a board. A couple moments later she leaned up as if to whisper in his ear, so he obligingly leaned down.
” Rene Lenier is the murderer. I just heard it in his thoughts,” she barely breathed. He felt her shiver and, almost immediately afterward, jerk. “Oh my God, Eric, Jason – Rene killed his own sister!”
This time her shaky voice carried. Ignoring everyone’s sudden attention, she ordered, “Sam, call the sheriff. Dawn and Maudette’s murderer is in this room and he even killed his own sister, too!”
Pam had been making her way nonchalantly around the room but when a dark haired man with a wild expression on his face started to rise, she blurred to his side and planted a hand on his shoulder and pressed firmly. He retook his seat with a thud.
As Sam called the local sheriff, Sookie and Jason, as well as the other diners and drinkers, stared at Rene in shock.
“Rene?” Jason’s voice sounded heartbroken as he said his friend’s name. “Why’d you do it? You killed your own sister?”
“I don’ know whut da fuck yer crazy sister’s talkin’ ’bout, I sware I don’,” he began, but Sookie strongly interrupted his beginning rebuttals.
“Shut the fuck up you lying murderer,” she began as she stalked in his direction. “You killed her because she was with a vampire and wouldn’t sleep with you! What a nasty pervert you are! Gross! You strangled her with her own apron strings while she was trying to go to work!”
Not wanting to see what trouble Sookie’s surprising temper could get her into, Eric quickly came up behind her and wrapped his strong arms around her waist. Granted Pam had the killer locked into his seat, but he wasn’t taking any chances.
To Eric’s surprise Jason nodded in approval of his tactics then barreled toward the now sweating and fidgeting Rene.
A certain madness seemed to overtake the murderer’s features.
“Well she deserved it,” he began, his “Cajun” accent suddenly missing. “Just like Dawn and Maudette running around with whatever bloodsucker she could get to pick her up! She was even working to support one of them and coming in at all hours with fucking fang marks all over her neck and…”
Almost as quickly as Pam would have, in a blur the brother planted his huge fist in the killer’s face and smiled smugly when the crazed man’s head ricocheted to faceplant in his plate of fries and half-eaten burger.
Irrelevantly Eric wondered if the pickle slice atop the burger would leave an impression on the man’s forehead.
When the sound of approaching sirens drew their attention, Sookie looked over at Sam.
“Y’all got this?”
Eric almost felt sorry for the shifter. The longing and regret were obvious in his puppy-dog eyes. Sookie apparently felt it, too, but didn’t cave.
“Well, we’re going to go,” she began as she withdrew the pitifully small wad of tips from her apron then untied the strings.
“You know, Sam, I think it’s time I left, and I don’t mean just for the night.” She handed him the apron. “You’ve been good to me, and I’ve mostly enjoyed working here, but it’s time I found something different.”
Defeated, crestfallen, Sam nodded. “I’ll miss you, you know that, right?”
“I know. Thanks for hiring me way back when, Sam, and I hope things go well for you, but I just can’t take you trying to run my private life. That’s where I draw the line. You’ve done it before and I’d always thought you had my best intentions at heart, but now I wonder.”
She shook her head sadly as she turned to Eric. “Hang on a minute while I go get my purse.”
He watched as she walked quickly to Sam’s office, went inside for a second and then came back out with her purse in hand.
Sam had started talking again, but he completely ignored whatever it was the dog said.
At exactly the moment Sookie returned to Eric’s side, Alcide finally emerged from the restroom, his ear noticeably reddened from having his cell phone pressed against it for so long. One look into Eric’s glacially furious face told Alcide that he was in more trouble than he’d ever thought possible.
Eric bared his fangs at him then deliberately turned his back on the undependable Were.
The Viking’s thoughts on the subject of warm future wolf pelts did not bear repeating.
He turned to look at Sookie.
“He was your ride?”
She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and he drives like a freakin’ maniac. I’m not sure he even knows what a speed limit sign is for!”
She ain’t seen nothing yet…
“Pam needs to take the trash to Fangtasia. The weather is nice tonight, so…want to go for a flight,” he asked with a gleam and a grin.
Eric had always particularly enjoyed his ability to fly and like the callow boy he’d so recently disparaged, he noted with interest that he couldn’t wait to share this gift with Sookie. Wryly he realized he was almost giddy with anticipation.
Despite all the drama of the evening, a beaming smile spread across Sookie’s lips and her eyes brightened up once again as she nodded happily.
He sent Pam the all-clear and heard her crank the van and head in the direction opposite the now painfully loud sirens. The moment she had realized that they weren’t hanging around for a chat with the local blue-suits, she had eased on out of the bar to her van.
Although he had sensed no fear in the telepath’s desire to avoid speaking with the human law official, he concluded that she didn’t wish to speak of her telepathy in such a situation, either. He couldn’t blame her, and besides, enough of the local fauna had heard the moron admit to the killings. They could handle it.
Evasive maneuvers it is, then.
Once Eric escorted Sookie out the back door, he checked to see that her purse was safely over her shoulder then took her securely into his arms. With a joking admonishment to hold on tight which to his delight she immediately heeded, he slowly rose into the cooler night air.
The sounds of her excited squeals and giggles caused him to have the most unexpected response – a great burst of laughter. And then another one. Soon enough they almost felt…normal.
He kept their lateral ascension measured and steady so as not to frighten his precious passenger, but they were quickly at a nice distance and altitude to evade most detection.
When he realized that her old homestead wasn’t nearly far enough away, a notion struck him hard: sometimes even thousand year old Vikings wanted to give a pretty girl flowers and chocolate – and yes, even long, meandering flights through the night sky…and that it was perfectly fine to do so. Anything to brighten her eyes and widen her smile…
Eric grinned wickedly as he adjusted his speed once again.
The Dae could wait his turn.
**A/N: Well…there it is in all its unbeta’d but hopefully majestic glory. What did you think? The thousand-year-old Viking Vampire may be having a bit of an adjustment period, but that’s to be expected after all this time, right? So, what did you think?