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The Tilted Kilt Chapter 9
Sookie’s feet were firmly planted in the spot they had been when Eric drove away. She smiled as she inhaled and found his earthy scent on her skin. Just thinking about the kiss they had shared made her light-headed. With a silly smile plastered to her face, she walked inside, only to find Gran unusually busy.
“Whatcha doin’?” Sookie sang as she walked into the front room.
“Nothing.” Gran pressed her lips together and smoothed down her hair.
“You didn’t happen to be spying on me, did you?” Sookie raised her eyebrows and snickered.
“Spying? You’re accusing your ol’ gran of invading your privacy and watching you kiss that beautiful man?” Gran grinned.
“Yes. Yes I am.” She flopped down on the couch. “He really is something, isn’t he?”
“Oh yes. Please tell me all about your date.” Gran cleared her throat. “If you want to.”
Sookie smiled at her. “He took me to La Caille. It was so amazing. Everyone was staring at us. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to be at a fancy French restaurant with him.”
Gran chuckled. “Well honey, you certainly deserve a night out. I’m so glad you had a good time.”
“I really did. I had the best time.” Sookie’s cheeks flushed at the memory of the kiss in the car. “I’m going to have a nice long bath. See you in the morning.”
“Good night, honey.”
As the tub was filling, Sookie tied up her hair, wrapped herself in her robe, and padded to the bathroom. The small room was filled with steam. She sighed as the warm water licked her skin, engulfing her body.
The smile Eric had given her still remained on her face, making her cheeks ache. She didn’t mind. Eric made her happy and happiness wasn’t something she was accustomed to. She also wasn’t used to the desire that radiated through her body and refused to go away. She had read about it in the romance novels she devoured in her teenage years, but until recently, had never experienced it herself. The thoughts coming from the boys and men she liked were enough to quench even the tiniest spark of desire. But things were different with Eric. He fanned the fire inside her until she was sure she would burst into flames.
Sookie couldn’t put her finger on what made her want him so much. His confidence, poise, and power all contributed to her longing, but he had something extra. He oozed raw sexuality in a way she had never seen before, and she was having a difficult time resisting him.
While she soaked in the bath, Sookie couldn’t come up with a single reason why she should resist him. She had been waiting for years for a man to come along and sweep her off her feet, and she was smart enough to recognize that it had finally happened. As terrified as she was of intimacy, she knew she didn’t want to hide from it anymore.
As soon as Sookie snuggled under her covers she was asleep, but her dreams kept her from sleeping soundly. She was flying with Eric while she was kissing him. Her legs were wrapped around his waist and her arms gripped his neck while his large hands supported her ass. His tongue pushed into her mouth and something hard nudged against her sex. She gasped and writhed, trying to get more contact. Suddenly, they were on her bed. Eric was under her and Sookie was grinding against him over and over again. She came in tiny spasms, letting euphoria wash over her in the moments before consciousness claimed her. Eric’s name was on her lips when she woke, sprawled on her bed with her robe wedged between her legs. Evening couldn’t come fast enough.
Sookie nibbled on her bottom lip as she walked down the hallway to Eric’s office. It was the moment she had been waiting for. She was going to ask him on another date, now she just had to muster the courage to go through with it. She raised her hand to knock as the door opened.
Eric stood in front of her with a satisfied smile on his face making her forget about what she was going to say.
“You wanted to see me?” She shook her head, clearing the haze of lust that settled into her brain at the sight of him.
Surprise didn’t begin to explain how she felt about him asking for help, especially why he needed it. She wasn’t very practiced at getting information the way he wanted, and was going to express her concerns until Eric explained how important it was. She had to help him. His existence depended on it.
Sookie didn’t feel like interrogating a bunch of strangers wearing a mini-skirt, so she changed before they left. She couldn’t help noticing the way Eric’s eyes lingered on her tight T-shirt, which made her smile.
Once they were in his car, she was tempted to crawl onto his lap and make her dreams come true, but she reigned herself in and focused on the job ahead of them. Eric certainly wasn’t helping keep her mind out of the gutter. His comments made her blush.
Sookie stared up at the brightly lit brick building and swallowed hard.
“Follow my lead.” Eric touched her back, helping soothe her nerves.
She squared her shoulders and followed him inside the building. A dark-haired woman sitting behind a desk in the entryway greeted them. Sookie opened her mind to the woman and was surprised to find a blank spot, just like Eric and Pam.
“Oh. Mr. Northman. What a surprise.” The woman shifted in her seat as her eyes darted to the door leading to the lab. “What brings you here tonight?” It didn’t take a mind reader to see she was nervous.
“Just an unannounced inspection.”
“Of course. Please let me know if you need anything.” The woman half-smiled at Sookie.
“We will need to use the break room.”
“Yes, of course.” The woman bowed her head and didn’t stop them when Eric moved into the lab.
Massive metal vats lined the back wall, all of which were surrounded by people who looked like doctors getting ready for surgery. Their hair was covered, and they all wore lab coats and blue booties over their shoes.
“Should we change or something?” Sookie looked down at her shoes, which looked downright grimy in such a clean place.
“No need. We’re going over there.” Eric pointed to a room a few feet away.
Just as they started moving toward the room, one of the workers nodded to Eric and began to descend the scaffolding surrounding the rim of the vats.
The break room featured two round wooden tables, a handful of chairs and a long couch against the far wall. A pot of coffee was warming on the counter between the fridge and the sink. Eric and Sookie had just settled into the room when the worker entered. He pulled the cap off his head, revealing long black hair. He gave Sookie a broad smile, nearly as large as his nose.
“Eric, what brings you to Alexandria on this fine November evening, and with such a tasty little guest.” The man raked his eyes over Sookie’s body, making her feel naked.
“Long Shadow, this is my associate, Ms. Stackhouse.”
Long Shadow didn’t offer his hand, and Sookie wasn’t inclined to offer hers. Everything about him revolted her. He popped open the snaps on his lab coat revealing a fair amount of skin and a tangled mess of metal jewelry. He smiled when Sookie looked at his naked chest. His hand brushed against a particularly flashy necklace featuring a large lightening bolt. He was smiling again. Sookie grimaced.
Sookie fought the urge to greet him, choking down her Southern hospitality with a chaser of bile.
Eric stepped in front of Sookie. “We are here on business. We will need to speak to all of your employees. One at a time.” He looked at Long Shadow expectantly, waiting for him to comply. It didn’t take long.
Once Long Shadow was out of the room, Sookie released a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “That guy gives me the creeps.”
“He’s not my favorite.” Eric shrugged.
A minute later, Long Shadow returned with an employee. “These people are going to ask you a few questions. You’re going to answer them. Understand?”
The man winced and then nodded quickly. Long Shadow rolled his eyes and left.
Sookie could feel fear coming off him in waves. She smiled and held her hand out to him. “My name’s Sookie.”
“Al,” he said as he put his hand in hers. His smile dissolved when he made eye contact with Eric.
Sookie glanced over her shoulder. “Um, Eric? Could you have a seat at that other table? I think Al’s a little nervous.”
Eric didn’t say anything, but he nodded and did what she asked.
Al exhaled. Sookie was still shaking his hand while she opened her mind to him.
“So, Al. Do you like your job?”
“Yes.” Al’s mind showed her images of Long Shadow scaring him on a regular basis. He liked the money, but was thinking of quitting as soon as his wife got benefits from her job. Working swing and graveyard shifts was difficult to keep up with, especially with two kids at home.
“What do you do here?” Sookie didn’t release her grip on him.
“I’m an inorganic chemist. I deal with minerals mostly.” Al measuring and combining white and brown powders on thin pieces of waxy paper popped into his head.
“Do you know why we’re here?” Sookie stared into his eyes.
Al nodded. “Something’s wrong with the formula.” It’s not me. I don’t want to lose my job. Not yet.
“Thanks Al. Can you ask someone else to come in and talk to me?”
When the door clicked, Sookie turned to face Eric. “It’s not him.”
Eric gave her a satisfied smile and nodded.
Sookie worked with one employee after another, getting no results until a woman came in, escorted by Long Shadow. “There are still five more after this one.”
She plastered a smile on her face. “Thank you Long Shadow, I’ll take it from here.”
Long Shadow hesitated to leave and when he did, Sookie could tell he was just outside the door.
“Hi, I’m Sookie.” She held her hand out and blinked when the woman’s hand touched hers. She was an open book, which wasn’t that unusual, but what was strange was the pages were blank.
Allison answered all the questions Sookie asked, except the last one. She had no idea why she was being questioned. All the other employees were afraid of losing their jobs, but not Allison.
“Are you and Long Shadow dating?” Sookie saw a flash of him without his shirt on and grimaced. She could hear Eric shift in the chair behind her.
Allison looked down at the table and blushed. “I don’t know what we are. It’s all a little hazy.”
Sookie smiled at her, giving her hand a reassuring pat. “Does he ever give you special jobs?”
Allison blinked and stared past Sookie. “I clean sometimes, which is weird, because I’m in the quality control department, but I don’t question him. It’s better that way.”
An image filled Sookie’s head, of Allison pouring gallons of bleach into the vats, which were already full of a red syrupy liquid. “Does he make you use bleach?”
Allison nodded blankly and then frowned. She opened her mouth to say something, but her words never had a chance to leave her lips as Long Shadow landed a blow on the side of her head. Her body fell to the ground with a soft thud, and then he was holding Sookie’s throat. His attention flickered for a moment when something crashed behind her, but then he began to squeeze.
Long Shadow’s fangs were fully descended and he was growling. “Fucking bitch, sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong!” He lunged at her, but before Sookie could blink, his body exploded.
Eric was covered in blood and was standing where Long Shadow had just been with a broken table leg in his hands, which had a bloody lab coat draped over the end.
Sookie’s face was wet, and she started to hyperventilate. Her hands were covered with stringy bits of bloody tissue. She realized with horror it was what remained of Long Shadow. Before she could decide whether to scream or vomit, she passed out.