Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. Thank you, SeriousCrush. I love you so! Erica, here’s another little piece of Eric, just for you.
Spoilers from Definitely Dead…just warning you now. 🙂
The next couple of days are going to be insanely busy for me…so I thought I’d post a little early so you wouldn’t have to wait. 🙂 Enjoy!
Chapter 9: Watcher
Eric had left Fangtasia as quickly as he could without much explanation.
Despite his efforts to help Sookie, he didn’t get there soon enough. She was bloody and beaten, on the cusp of consciousness. Her attacker was in much worse shape. He wanted nothing more than to finish him off, but Sookie had asked him not to, so he left him alone, more or less.
Her body shuddered in his arms, her muscles clenching with pain. She winced when he set her down, and then her body went limp. Eric leaned over her, trying to assess the extent of damage.
His fingers moved across her bones, finding fractures on her collarbone and arm. She was in pain, but her life wasn’t in danger. As much as he wanted to lick the blood off her face and hands, he resisted. The police would need it for evidence. He picked up the phone in the kitchen and dialed 911. He held the phone close to Sookie’s mouth so the dispatcher on the other end could hear her labored breath. He hung up once the woman’s voice said the location had been found and help was coming, and then put the phone in Sookie’s hand.
Eric waited another five minutes before he left. He kissed her forehead. “The police are almost here. I wasn’t. Understand?”
Sookie tried to nod, but it was obviously difficult.
He needed to leave before he was seen at the scene of the crime. He also had a long drive ahead of him. It was time for him to protect Sookie the best way he knew.
By the time he got to the Queen’s palace, it was an hour before sunrise. Eric had called on his way and made an appointment.
Queen Sophie-Anne was waiting in her office. She stood to greet him, and said, “It’s been a busy night for Area Five.”
Eric stopped mid-bow. “What do you mean?”
“I had a meeting with Bill a few hours ago. I assumed you knew.” She tilted her head and returned to her seat.
Eric took the chair next to her. “No. Was he here on business?”
She nodded. “I sent him on an errand a few months ago, and he finally came through.”
“Did your errand bring him to Bon Temps?” As soon as she answered yes, the pieces fell into place. Bill had been after Sookie since the minute he walked into town. “How do you know about Sookie Stackhouse?”
Sophie-Anne’s eyes danced. “I have a relationship with her cousin. She’s very forthcoming with information about her family.”
“So you sent Bill to procure her so she would work for you?” Her stare confirmed his assumption. “It’s a brilliant idea. A telepath is a wonderful asset.”
“Bill seemed to be up to the task, and tonight he reported she was under control.”
Eric laughed. He had never seen Sookie under control.
The Queen leaned forward in interest, betraying her stony face. “How do you know Miss Stackhouse?”
“I met her two years ago. She is an amazing woman, in more ways than one. She and I have a special relationship.”
Sophie-Anne’s delicate eyebrow arched skyward. “It seems as though she has a special relationship with you and Bill.”
Eric shook his head, his lips pressed together in a grim line. “Bill doesn’t know the first thing about Sookie.”
“He has made it clear that he has claimed her.”
“How can he claim someone who doesn’t belong to him?”
A laugh erupted out of her. “So you’re saying she belongs to you?”
“I am.” Eric squared his shoulders. “That is why I came here tonight. She belongs to me.” The Queen didn’t seem concerned with the argument over whom she belonged to, but business would pique her interest. “She was present the night Long Shadow met his true death.”
The Queen let out a long sigh. “Hot Rain is not happy about his progeny meeting his end.” She paused and then went on, “Why was Miss Stackhouse present?”
“After discovering her gift, I asked her to assist me in solving the mystery of who was stealing from me. While she cannot read vampire minds, she can read humans quite well. She promised to work with me again. I don’t believe she made any such promise to Bill.”
“What are you getting at?” She was all business.
“If you would like to employ Sookie Stackhouse, I will offer her a contract. Bill will play no role in this proposal.”
“Bill is my procurer.”
“So have him procure someone else. Sookie belongs to me.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Why should I believe you over Bill?”
“Have I ever given you reason to doubt me?” Eric crossed his arms over his chest.
“No. Then again, neither has Bill.”
“Perhaps it would interest you to know Bill stood by while she was beaten so he could give her his blood. That is why he has a claim on her, because he is a coward. He put her life at risk. Is that what you asked of him?”
She shook her head. “No. I asked him to locate Miss Stackhouse, verify her telepathy, and bring her to me. She is too valuable to lose.”
“I agree. I wouldn’t trust him with acquisitions. Not if I wanted them alive.” A vision of her broken body in his arms came to him as he waited for the Queen to go on. He couldn’t let that happen to her. Not again.
Sophie-Anne sat in silence for a while, and then she stood. “Take care of it. Bring her to me.”
“She’s in the hospital. Perhaps she’ll feel up to it next week.”
She waved a hand dismissively. “Of course. Do whatever you can to ensure her safety.”
“I will. You can trust me.”
The Queen nodded. “I believe you.”
Sunrise forced him to ground in the Queen’s palace, but Saturday evening, Eric made the drive north, heading straight for Bon Temps. It wasn’t difficult to find Sookie’s hospital room, because two officers flanked the door, keeping track of everyone who came and went. While Eric never got close enough to register with the police, he talked to the staff so he could find out how she was doing. As he suspected, she sustained a broken collarbone, a fractured arm, a broken nose, and several broken ribs. When he visited the billing office, her medical bills were already several thousand dollars, so he left a credit card number on file.
He avoided the busy hallway outside Sookie’s room and took to the sky to keep an eye on her. Through the window, he could see her sleeping body and the various machines she was hooked to. The only time he left was when Pam called him from Fangtasia to go over a delivery.
Pam seemed to be enjoying her expanded duties at the bar. Ordering people around was always her forte. She seemed irritated to see him until she remembered she had called him.
Chow stood behind the bar, shirtless. He had always been loyal to Eric.
“Is he Long Shadow’s replacement?” Eric asked once they were alone.
Pam smiled. “Yes. The customers love him.”
“Good.” Eric nodded.
“Is she better yet?”
“Getting there.” Eric lowered his voice. “She is my charge. The Queen gave me permission to offer her a contract.”
“A contract for what?”
“For her to work with the Queen as a telepath,” Eric explained.
“What about Bill?”
“Bill is out of the picture.”
Pam narrowed her eyes. “Does Sookie know that? She seems kind of attached to him.”
Eric shook his head. “She won’t be once she knows the truth.”
The moment of truth is coming…on to Sookie’s Present: Chapter 10