Charlaine Harris owns almost everyting. I own the rest. Thank you, SeriousCrush. I don’t know where I’d be without you. I must also thank meridiean for sharing her brilliance with me. 🙂
Chapter 6: Torn
It turned out that Long Shadow had been with Dawn on more than one occasion, but Sookie believed him when he said he didn’t know anything about her death. He seemed almost sad, like when a favorite restaurant closes.
Shaken by seeing Eric again, Sookie ordered a drink. Long Shadow gave her the creeps, so she focused on Bill while she swallowed her gin and tonic. Suddenly, something pressed against her brain. She didn’t need to look to know it was Eric. She could feel his eyes on her. Bill had done something similar a few times during the brief period she’d known him. What is that?
She was about to ask Bill when a stray thought popped into her head.
That fanger in the bathroom isn’t going to be too happy when backup gets here.
Sookie scanned the room and found him. An undercover cop dressed as a tourist. Her eyes met Eric’s briefly. She mouthed, “Get out,” and then pulled Bill toward the door. Because of his long legs, Eric walked out the door before they did, and they were followed by most of the vamps in the club. Sookie had unknowingly alerted all of them by warning Eric.
“What is it?” Eric whispered as they walked at a brisk pace through the parking lot.
“Undercover cop. Backup on the way.” Sookie gasped for air between sentences. Her heels weren’t exactly made for running.
Eric stopped and frowned. “How did you—?”
Just then, distant sirens filled the air. The cops were almost there.
“Gotta go.” Sookie fought through the pain in her toes and bolted for Bill’s car. The vampires spread out in all directions, taking off on foot faster than she could follow. Except for Eric and Pam, who took off in a bright red Corvette.
Bill sped down a deserted road, narrowly avoiding the swarming police. Once they were a safe distance away, Bill pulled to the edge of the road and turned the car off. “How do you know Eric?” His fangs were out.
Sookie narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t want to talk about it. Please take me home.” Her silence gave her power she hadn’t had before, and deflated Bill. They rode home in silence.
When Bill stopped in front of her house, Sookie turned toward him. “Thank you for taking me to Fangtasia tonight. At least I know a little more about Dawn.”
Bill wouldn’t look at her. It was like talking to a wall.
“I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night at the Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting?”
Bill nodded but remained silent.
“Okay.” Sookie sighed and got out of the car. Men! She wanted to stomp all the way to her front porch but her sore feet reminded her they had already had enough excitement for one evening. When she closed the front door, she kicked her shoes off.
“Sookie, honey? Is that you?” Gran called out from the kitchen.
“Hi Gran.” Sookie collapsed into the creaky wooden chair next to her at the table.
“How was your date?” Gran’s face lit up.
“Strange.” She squeezed her eyes shut, forcing Eric out of her mind. “Are you excited for tomorrow?”
“The phone’s been ringin’ off the hook! The ladies can’t believe I got a real War soldier to come and talk.” Excited energy came off her frail body in waves. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight!” She grinned. “Good thing I’ve got this Danielle Steele book to keep me company.”
“I’m going to take a bath and go to sleep. Night Gran.”
“Night honey.” Gran opened her book and leaned against her hand as she settled back into the pages.
During what was sure to be known as the most interesting Descendants of the Glorious Dead meeting in the history of the club, Sookie found herself softening to Bill. The stories he told were incredibly vivid and filled with emotion, he had the whole audience on the edge of their seat. Sookie was no exception. She learned more about him in that hour than the whole three weeks they had known each other. Granted, they’d spent most of their time together in strange situations, and there’s not much time for conversation during a fight, especially when one of them was struggling for their life. As he spoke, Bill’s cool demeanor slid away from him, like a shell cracking open to reveal the softness inside. It was the first time she caught a glimpse of how he must’ve been when he was human. She liked what she saw.
Sookie waited quietly on the side while the line of little old ladies had their fill of Bill’s company. Most of them forgot their fear for the few moments they asked about their ancestors or a specific battle. Bill definitely seemed to be enjoying the attention too. By the time they walked out together, he was smiling.
“That was wonderful.” Sookie took his hand. “I’ve never seen those ladies so animated, or the meeting hall so full. You put on quite a show.”
Bill’s smile spread to his eyes. “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”
Sookie nodded her head. “It was really—”
Bill silenced her with a kiss. It took her breath away and reminded her of how it could be to have someone touch her like that. Her pact started to dissolve. Perhaps she hadn’t given him a fair chance. He hadn’t even asked her out yet. She was the one who always did the asking.
When he pulled away, she was panting. “Bill.”
She took a step backward and could see his fangs glinting in the dim light coming from the parking lot security lamp. She was still holding his hand.
“Oh Vampire Bill, that was just wonderful.” Gran gushed as she walked toward them. “I can’t thank you enough.”
“It was my pleasure.” He rubbed his thumb against Sookie’s palm, sending a shock through her body.
“Honey, are you ready to go home?”
Sookie glanced at Bill’s face, which mirrored hers for a second: disappointment. “Sure Gran. See you some other time Bill?” Her eyes locked on Bill’s again as she waited for him to respond.
“May I call on you some time?”
Too bad she wasn’t wearing a petticoat and gown. “Yes. Please.” She resisted the urge to curtsy.
On their way home, Sookie stopped at the grocery store. Gran needed a few things, and Sookie was happy to carry the basket for her.
Still floating on cloud nine, Sookie drove home in a daze. It ended abruptly when she pulled into her driveway and parked next to a sports car. It was a Corvette. A shiny red one. “Stay here and lock the doors.” Sookie slipped out of the driver’s seat before Gran could say anything. She heard the locks click behind her. Is Eric here somewhere? She closed her eyes and found him, the big blank spot near the back of her house. He was alone. Her heart raced as she passed the front porch.
“What are you doing—” Sookie frowned as she walked up the back steps. Eric’s hand was through her screen door.
“I assumed you would come back tonight, so when you didn’t show up at Fangtasia, I came here to talk to you. Someone was here. A human. I must’ve scared them away.”
“So you decided to ruin my screen door while you waited?” Sookie hissed and smacked his arm, forcing him to withdraw it. It was then that she noticed the screen had been slashed with a knife, which was still wedged between the screen and the house door.
“It looks like they were trying to break in, but they didn’t get to finish.” Eric narrowed his eyes and flicked the latch, letting the broken door fall open. “This frame needs to be replaced, the lock won’t hold if they come back.” He rubbed the doorjamb making splinters of wood rain down. “I’m glad I got here before you did.”
Or Gran. Oh shit, Gran! Sookie took off toward the car. She forced a smile onto her lips and knocked on the window. Gran popped the knob and stepped out.
“Everything okay?” Gran frowned and then clutched her chest when Eric suddenly appeared next to Sookie.
“Gran, this is Eric, he’s, um, a friend of mine from Shreveport.” If she had known where he lived two years ago, she would’ve scoured the city trying to find him, if only to beat the shit out of him for leaving her. There wasn’t time to think about that though.
Eric bowed deeply. “Mrs. Stackhouse, I presume? It’s an honor.”
Gran gave him a nervous smile. “What brings you to Bon Temps, Eric?”
“I need to have a talk with my friend.” Eric glanced down at Sookie.
“Gran, someone tried to break in. They left a knife. A big one. I don’t feel safe here. Maybe Jason would let us stay with him?”
Gran’s eyes were wide. “Do you think it’s the Bon Temps Strangler?”
Sookie felt all the blood in her face drain. Was she the next target? Her heart was pounding.
“I’ll go call Jason.” Gran nodded as she hobbled up the front steps.
“Tell him it’s a secret. No one can know we’ll be staying with him, not even his friends,” Sookie called out after her. Her legs wobbled and then gave out. Before she hit the ground, she was in Eric’s arms.
Cradled against his chest he chuckled. “Do you always make a habit of falling into my arms?”
“Did I ask you to catch me?” She scowled at him.
“I could’ve let you fall.” He put her down on the front steps. “Maybe next time I will. You smell like Bill.”
She chose to ignore his comment. “How did you find me?”
“Phone book.” He crossed his arms over his chest and rocked on his heels. “We need to talk.”
“So you said,” Sookie replied with an equally cool voice.
“How did you know about the raid?” He stared at her, and then he pushed against her brain like he’d done the night before at Fangtasia. He was frowning.
“Whatever you’re doing doesn’t work on me.”
“Curious.” He tilted his head. “How did you know about the raid?”
“I’m a telepath, okay? I heard the undercover cop think about backup arriving.” She shrugged.
“Amazing. That’s quite a gift you have.”
Sookie let out a bitter laugh. “It’s a curse, not a gift.”
“Can you hear me?” he asked.
“No. You are gloriously silent. So is Bill.” It was what initially attracted her to them, but he didn’t need to know that. “Anyway, are we done? I need to pack.” She tried to stand but knew she wouldn’t make it inside with how weak her legs were.
Without being asked, Eric put his arms around her shoulders and steadied her body. Sookie didn’t complain. She was afraid he’d let her go if she did.
They moved toward the front door, and then Eric stopped suddenly.
“You must invite me in.”
“Please come in, Eric.”
His fingers squeezed her shoulders as she said his name, and then they continued inside toward her room. She could hear Gran packing a few things in the bathroom. The longer she stood, the easier it was to walk, but she still leaned heavily on Eric’s arm. She closed her eyes and inhaled the masculine scent that clung to his skin. Memories of their night together, two years ago, came rushing back to her, making her feel faint all over again, but for different reasons. A gasp escaped her lips.
Eric rushed her to her bed and lifted her onto it. “Are you okay?” His hair brushed her face as he scrutinized her.
She swallowed hard and nodded. “Just scared.” And turned on.
He backed away immediately.
“I’m not scared of you. I’m scared of whoever came to my house tonight. If I had been in my right mind, I would’ve been scared of you two years ago.”
“Oh.” His eyes were cast to the floor. “I’m sorry about that night.”
His eyes met hers. “I’m not sorry about what we did. I’m sorry I had to leave you.”
Sookie sat up. “It was some birthday present. Waking up in bed alone. You promised. You said you weren’t going anywhere.” Her throat began to squeeze shut and she fought tears.
“I meant it. I looked for you the next night, but you were gone.”
“You could’ve left a note.”
“I don’t leave notes.” His voice took on a haughty tone.
“Well excuse me! You put me through hell for months. It was a shitty thing to do.” Anger burned through her body, giving her the energy she needed to overpower her lust and start packing. She turned her back to Eric and started pulling clothes out of her closet, along with the dingy brown suitcase that belonged to her parents. She pushed past him and grabbed a handful of socks and panties out of her dresser and threw them into the open suitcase. The next time she turned around, Eric had a small box in his hand.
“This is for you.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What is it?”
“See for yourself.” He pushed it toward her.
The box creaked as she opened it. Nestled against black velvet was a fine gold chain. A delicate golden fairy was positioned between two stunning purple gems. It was beautiful.
Eric was next to her, peering over her shoulder. “The wings are too big, but I thought of you. I bought it with the hopes that—”
Sookie frowned and looked up at him. “You think you can buy my forgiveness?” She snapped it shut and thrust it back into his hands. His face was nearly impossible to read, but she swore she saw pain in his eyes for a split second. There’s a killer after me, I don’t have time to deal with Eric. Back at her dresser, she pulled out several nightgowns and stormed past him to her luggage. She turned her back to him and started folding the clothes from her closet. When she turned to face him, he had her flannel nightgown in his hands, inhaling deeply.
“Put that back.” As much as she hated to admit it, being with Eric was soothing, even if he did rummage through her suitcase and sniff her sleep clothes. He walked over to her dresser and tossed her a bottle of perfume, which she caught without blinking.
“You’ve had vampire blood?” Surprise was evident on his face.
She nodded slowly. “Bill’s. He saved me from a sure death. I was ambushed and beaten pretty badly. Bill asked me to meet him after work, but those bastards got to me first.”
A low growl emanated from Eric. “Convenient he got there after they beat you within an inch of your life so he could feed you his blood.”
“Listen, mister, he saved me, and I’ll be forever grateful.” She was piping mad all over again.
“What?” Sookie paused her frantic packing.
“How have you repaid him?” His gaze moved down her body, lingering for a moment on the swell of her breasts and then stopping abruptly between her legs.
“That’s none of your business.” Sookie’s blood was boiling, which counteracted the swooning feeling she got whenever he looked at her like that. “For your information, I saved him first, so he was repaying my kindness by saving me.”
Eric shook his head, refocusing his eyes on hers. “You. Saved him?”
“Yeah, from drainers. Trashiest people I’ve ever met.” She’d put her life in danger that night, and she did it because Bill reminded her of Eric. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’d like to leave before the killer comes back to finish what he started.” She zipped the suitcase closed and dragged it out into the hall.
Eric skulked out of her room and pressed his body against the wall to get out of Sookie’s way.
“Eric? Be a dear and take these things to the car,” Gran said motioning to the two pieces of luggage by the front door.
“Yes, ma’am.” Eric nodded and lifted the suitcases as if they weighed nothing.
Sookie stared after him with her mouth hanging open.
“He’s a nice young man, your friend.” Gran smiled.
“It’s an act. Don’t fall for it.” Sookie shook her head. She had to admit that it was nice of him to help. Why hadn’t she thought of asking him? By the time Sookie and Gran were standing on the front porch, gravel bounced against Sookie’s car as Eric sped down the long driveway. He didn’t even say goodbye. Just like last time. “Real nice. Huh?” She scooped up Tina in her arms and rubbed her furry chin.
Gran patted Sookie’s arm. “Jason’s expecting us.”
See what happened? I changed the book. Just like that. 🙂