Charlaine Harris owns almost everyting. I own the rest. Thank you SeriousCrush for reading and editing even when your life is full. This is the part where we get right into Dead Until Dark, but I’ve rushed through the first part of the book and taken liberties with the story line. It’s a little short, but I hope you enjoy it.
Some of you may notice the change in Sookie’s age, luckily, heralderofspringtime pointed out the timeline of the book (which I had gotten wrong when I re-read the book!), so I changed it so everything is in line now. Sorry about that! I hate getting details wrong, and I’m relieved to have readers who help me keep things straight. 🙂
Chapter 4: Fangtasia
A lot had happened since her twenty-third birthday. Sookie and Dawn had gotten jobs together at Merlotte’s, Jason moved out of Gran’s house, and vampires came out of the coffin. The last bit of news always made Sookie feel more normal than ever before. For once, she wasn’t the only person who was different.
But no matter how many years passed, Sookie never forgot Eric. She never forgot the pleasure or the pain. How could she? One night of absolute bliss followed by a morning of fear and rejection. She had kept her resolution and had turned down offer after offer from the drunken fools who stumbled through her life.
And then, one night at work, everything changed. It was the night she met Bill, got into her first fight, and learned something about the man she had shared a magical night with years ago: he was different because he was a vampire. She learned that by being around Bill. They were both silent and strong.
Being around Bill was nice, but it filled her life with drama. First, she saved Bill, and then, he saved her. In her opinion, she was much closer to death than he had been, and she was sure that if he hadn’t given her his blood, she would’ve died on the spot. No wonder vampire blood was so popular. She was like a new woman within a few minutes.
Despite Bill’s efforts to woo her, Sookie never gave herself to him. It wasn’t that she didn’t like him. His quiet mind was a pleasure, just as it had been with Eric. But, she couldn’t let go of her fear of being hurt again. Perhaps Bill’s charms would’ve been more effective on her if she didn’t have a past with Eric. Still, they saw each other on a regular basis. It sure beat sitting at home on her nights off, even if he did have creepy friends that scared her to death.
Things had been going relatively well between them until Dawn died. It shook her to her very core to know her friend had been killed, and she vowed to do whatever she could to find out why. Bill made it clear that a vampire wouldn’t strangle a woman, but Dawn had bites on her body, and there had to be some connection.
Dawn was the second woman in Bon Temps to turn up dead. Both with bite marks. Sookie asked Bill to help her. Begged him to take her to the vampire bar in Shreveport where she knew Dawn had gone. Maybe someone there would know more about her mysterious death.
Bill agreed to take her and implied it would be like a date. Sookie hadn’t dressed up in years. Not since Mardi Gras. As she dressed for the night out, Sookie smiled at her reflection. She was sure to get anything she wanted in a dress like that.
Bill brooded for most of the drive to Shreveport and once they arrived, he held onto Sookie’s arm like a child on a crowded playground.
“You look like a white candle in a coal mine,” Bill whispered as they walked inside the bar.
Sookie had never been to Fangtasia before, but it was exactly as she imagined a vampire bar might look. From the bottles of synthetic blood on full display to the vampires dressed in dark flowing clothing. But nothing could’ve prepared her for the shock of her life.
Eric was sitting in the middle of room.
Anger welled up inside her. Her hands clenched into fists and she twisted out of Bill’s grasp and stormed toward Eric. He didn’t notice her until her fist flew through the air, connecting solidly with his face. “You liar!” she shouted.
Everyone in the room went quiet. Only the faint melody of the song on the radio broke the silence. All eyes were on Sookie. She was breathing hard, trying to control the tears that threatened to ruin her perfect makeup. She wanted to hit him again … or kiss him. No. Definitely hit him.
Bill was behind her a moment later, ripping her away from Eric. “Sookie,” he scolded, “what’s gotten into you?”
Eric’s lip was bleeding. He sucked it into his mouth and then smiled. “It’s good to see you again, Sookie.”
“You son of a—” She struggled to get out of Bill’s grip, but it was pointless. His hands were like a vise around her shoulders.
“I’m so sorry, Eric. There must be a misunderstanding. I’m sure my human didn’t mean to assault you.” Bill’s voice was smooth and soft unlike his hands, which squeezed her harder.
“Let go of me,” Sookie ground out between clenched teeth.
“Your human?” Eric’s eyebrow rose. He leaned forward. His presence seemed to push against Bill.
Bill’s fingers eased out of Sookie’s skin. The usual steadiness in Bill’s voice was gone when he spoke again. “She is mine.”
Sookie rolled her eyes.
The woman sitting next to Eric placed her hand on top of his arm. “You’re drawing a crowd.”
Eric nodded. “Good point, Pam. I think it would be best if we continued this conversation in my office.” He stood, towering over Sookie and Bill.
It wasn’t a request and Bill must’ve understood that. Sookie didn’t feel up to a conversation with him at the moment, but since she was still held firmly in Bill’s sharp fingers, she didn’t have a choice in the matter.
They walked down a dark hallway and then Eric escorted them into an office decorated with heavy wooden furniture. “Release her,” Eric demanded.
Bill growled, but he complied.
Sookie rubbed her shoulders. There were red marks where Bill’s fingers had just been.
Eric leaned against his desk and crossed his arms over his chest. “What brings you to Fangtasia?” His gaze was intense and never left Sookie’s.
She looked away. Focus. Don’t look at his eyes. Those beautiful eyes. “I’m trying to find out who killed my friend. Remember Dawn? I know it’s been a while.” She pulled Dawn’s picture out of her purse and showed it to him.
Recognition slid across his face. “I remember. Yes. She has been here.” He frowned and when he spoke again it seemed as though he was talking to himself. “I knew she looked familiar, but I never could place her.”
“She’s dead. Someone strangled her, but she had bite marks on her body.” Sookie swallowed hard, choking down her grief.
“I’m sorry. Do you know each other?” Bill said as he moved out of the shadows. Sookie had forgotten he was there.
She laughed bitterly. “Yes, I know him. He’s the gift that keeps on giving. You can trust him. He won’t hurt you.” The muscles in her jaw tightened. Two years of pain and longing came back to her like a punch to the gut.
She held her hands up, stopping him short. “I didn’t come here to talk about that. Can you help me with Dawn, or not?”
“Long Shadow will be able to help you.” Eric turned his back to them.
Bill nodded. “I will take Miss Stackhouse to him.” His hand was on her arm again, pulling her out of the office. Once they were in the hall, he whispered, “How do you know him?”
Sookie swallowed hard and pressed her lips together in a firm line. She wasn’t about to discuss her past right outside Eric’s door.
Bill sighed. “It’s obvious Eric wants you. He is much better looking than I am. He’s older, more powerful, and I understand sex with him is unforgettable. Are you inclined to go with him?”
She glared at the closed office door. “No.” He had his chance, and he blew it.
Sookie’s angry…how long would you hold a grudge?