Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Loves to GabbieAnnie for brainstorming and reading for me. All remaining mistakes are my own.
Eric stalked into the dilapidated front room, yanked off the drop cloth, and threw himself down on the sagging sofa. A cloud of mildewy dust filled the air around him. He swatted at the plume impatiently. Of all the assignments Sophie-Anne has sent me on, this one is the worst, and it just started. How long am I going to have to stay here, in the middle of nowhere, with that annoying woman? He took a deep breath in an attempt to quiet his mind, which turned out to be a mistake. He coughed out the foul air and moved toward the window, yanking it open. The frame splintered in his hands and the pane of glass slid onto the floor, shattering at his feet. “Fuck.” He kicked the wall, leaving a dent in the mushy drywall.
“Hello?” she called out. “Everything okay out there?” She rattled the knob and pounded on the door.
He couldn’t take it anymore. Once he stood outside, with the door closed behind him, he could barely hear the sounds of her whines. The still summer night air hung around him, heavy and moist, pressing against his skin, sticking to his clothes. A half moon drooped in the sky, reflecting off the hood of his Corvette. He wiped at the side panel with the bottom of his T-shirt, removing a smudge of dirt from the mile ride down the bumpy driveway. He leaned against the cool glass and glared at the house.
The queen told him it was a cabin. It wasn’t.
“I need you to work on a special assignment for me,” Sophie-Anne had told him.
“Of course. Anything you need.” He had been eager to get out of New Orleans. The constant stream of tourists got old fast.
“Bill has made a mistake. He was supposed to collect Ms. Stackhouse for me, but instead, he’s claimed her. I don’t want her to be influenced by him. I want her to work for me. She needs to get his blood out of her system.”
“I understand,” he had replied. Everyone in the queen’s inner circle knew about Sookie Stackhouse, and he couldn’t deny that he had been curious about her.
“There is a cabin at the end of Willow Bend Road; near the Red River. It will be safe for both of you.” She paused and handed him a set of keys and a pair of handcuffs. “That’s where you need to keep her until we can reverse his hold on her. Then I will meet with her and offer her a position. Pam has her in custody right now. She’s expecting you.”
Eric nodded and stood to leave.
“Eric. I want her untouched. Understood?” She narrowed her eyes.
He nodded again. “Yes.”
“Excellent. I’ll call.”
The drive to Shreveport had been like any other, long and uneventful … until he arrived at Fangtasia. It had been months since he’d seen Pam. The moment he knocked on the front door of her bar, she was in his arms. He smiled and held her, enjoying their brief reunion. “You’re doing well?” he asked, smoothing her hair out of her face.
“Business is booming! There’s a tour group that comes through almost every night.” She laughed. “You should see them!”
Eric laughed too, imagining their bland faces filled with wonder and fear. “You look wonderful.” He pulled away from her and admired her.
“Busy.” He shook his head. “Is she here?”
Pam nodded. “She’s in the basement. Drugged.”
“What’s she like?” he asked, curiosity getting the best of him.
Pam tilted her head and thought for a moment. “Sweet, quirky, beautiful.”
He lifted his eyebrows and smiled. Maybe this assignment won’t be so bad after all! Even as the thought formed in his mind, Pam seemed to know what he was thinking.
“She’s also a fighter and annoying. You’ll see.”
“How long do I have until the drugs wear off?”
She shrugged. “An hour? I have more if you need it.”
“Take me to her,” he said. He followed her down the steep concrete steps to the storage room under the bar. A cot had been set up near a stack of crates where a woman lay, motionless, wrapped in a plain white sheet. “Is she alive?” He bent over her and touched the side of her neck. Her warmth burning him as her pulse pounded against his fingertips. He let his hand linger a second longer, enjoying the silkiness of her skin. He inhaled deeply, holding his breath, letting her scent wash over him. He could smell Compton, more than anything, but under that, he could sense her fear and something else, something delicious. He had to resist the urge to sink his fangs into her flesh and suddenly understood why Compton had claimed her. “What is she?”
“You know just as much as I do.” Pam gazed at Sookie’s sleeping face. “She smells delectable, doesn’t she?”
He nodded, remembering the queen’s orders. Untouched. “Where’s Compton?”
“Sabine is watching over him.”
“Didn’t they used to…”
“Fuck? Yes, until Bill disappeared for his assignment.” She made a sour face. “I thought she might enjoy reminding him of what he’s missing, until the queen decides his fate.”
“I almost feel sorry for him,” Eric murmured.
Pam rolled her eyes. “There’s nothing wrong with a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to take it.”
Eric stared at her. “I won’t argue with you. I’ll just say I’m not a fan of knives.”
She chuckled. “Sabine does love her knives, and she’s angry at Bill for leaving her for a human. I can only imagine what she’s got in store for him.” Her eyes lit up.
Eric shook his head and laughed softly. “He deserves it. And more.”
Pam nodded her agreement. “He led her into a trap, let her get hurt so he could rescue her. Pathetic,” she spat. “Where are you going?”
“A cabin at the end of Willow Bend road.”
“How long will you be with her?”
“As long as it takes. The queen didn’t give me a timeline.” He squatted next to the cot and lifted Sookie into his arms, her warmth radiating through the thin sheet. She didn’t rouse from her slumber. “I need to go before she wakes.” I also need to put her down before I drain her dry.
“She’ll need food,” Pam reminded him as she trailed behind him up the stairs.
“I’m aware of that, Pam,” he snapped. He paused, mid-step, aware that he’d just lashed out at the only person he loved. “I’m sorry. This assignment is making me agitated.”
“It’s okay,” Pam replied in a whisper. She opened the doors for him and then his passenger car door.
He carefully lowered Sookie into the deep seat, his fangs descending again as the sheet shifted and her white dress slid up her golden thighs.
“Call me if you need anything,” Pam said, pulling him away from his comatose passenger.
“Thank you. I will,” he said. He kissed the top of her head and then got behind the wheel. Before leaving the city, he stopped at a fast food restaurant with bright neon signs that read: OPEN LATE! He tucked the bags of food at Sookie’s feet and drove out of town. As he traveled along old parish lanes and abandoned neighborhoods, the roads got worse. He wove to avoid the potholes, and then he had slow when he couldn’t anymore. He grimaced every time the underbody of his car hit the uneven ground, but Sookie didn’t move. Her head lolled against the window for the duration of the ride.
He unlocked the warped front door, flicked the lights on, and sighed. After a quick survey, he found two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a kitchen and front room that were joined by a half-wall. The back bedroom had no windows and a small steel coffin in place of a bed. His shoulders slumped. The coffin isn’t big enough. The second room held one small bed covered in a dusty drop cloth. He removed it, finding a decorative metal frame and a bare mattress.
Once he placed Sookie on the bed, he spread the sheet out under her, tucking it into the front edge of the mattress. He opened his phone and called Sophie-Anne. “We’re here.”
“Excellent.” She let out a long exhale. “Mr. Cataliades hasn’t been able to find a witch powerful enough to do the detox spell.”
“Great,” he mumbled.
“Unhappy with your assignment?” she asked, her voice turning to ice. “I’m sure I could find—”
“That won’t be necessary.” He straightened his back and glanced at Sookie’s peaceful face.
“Good,” she replied a little warmer before hanging up.
He had sighed and leaned back in the chair, waiting for Sookie to wake up.
The memory snapped him back to reality. He laughed and kicked at the gravel next to his tire. To think I’d wanted her to wake up! Now she won’t shut up. Maybe I should’ve asked for a replacement. No, I can’t let the queen down.
“Hello? Eric?” she called from inside the house, loud enough that it pierced through the quiet night like an arrow aimed for his ears. Her voice carried an edge of desperation as she banged on the door.
He hauled himself off his car and went inside. Just as she started shouting for him again, he opened her door. “What?” he barked.
She sighed. “I need to use the bathroom.”
“Right.” He turned on the light and gestured to the small room, stepping out of her way as she rushed inside. The lightweight doors didn’t afford much privacy, so he went into the kitchen while she took care of business, returning when he heard the door open.
She sighed and smiled. “Thank you, I feel much better.” Without warning, her stomach growled. She clutched it tight. “You don’t happen to have any food here, do you?”
Eric nodded and led her into the depressing kitchen, years of grime ground into the seams in the worn vinyl floor tiles. She leaned against the half-wall and watched him pull one of the bags from the fridge. He plopped it onto the table and waited for her to eat, but instead, she tore off a paper towel and got it wet in the sink. Only after thoroughly wiping down the table and cracked vinyl chair, did she sit down.
She glanced at him sheepishly. “Habit.” She opened the bag and peered inside, frowning. “I don’t really like Taco Bell,” she said.
Anger welled up inside him, but before it could bubble to the surface, Sookie added, “But I appreciate you getting me food.”
“I didn’t know what you would eat.” He couldn’t figure out why he should care, but he did.
“That’s okay,” she said after taking a bite. “It’s not so bad. I’m too hungry to be picky.” She ate in silence for a few minutes, devouring everything in the bag, even the tiny packets of salsa. “Will you please tell me what’s going on?” she asked, her voice calm and even.
Eric smiled and sat next to her at the table. I like this Sookie. I won’t mind watching her. “I’m not at liberty to say.” It was true, the queen hadn’t said one way or another how much he could tell her, and less always seemed to be the best option.
She wiped the corner of her mouth with a brown paper napkin and glared at him.
“You can’t just go around snatching up humans and holding them prisoner! It’s against the law!”
“You think I give a shit about your laws? I’m following orders, and unlike Compton, I get the job done.”
“What job? What orders?” She shook her head. “What does Bill have to do with this? I told Sheriff Pam I was sorry for asking questions. I swear. You can ask her yourself.”
She sighed. “Earlier tonight, well I think it’s still tonight. How long have I been out?”
“A few hours,” he said, motioning for her to continue.
“Okay then, earlier tonight, Bill took me to Fangtasia so I could try to figure out if my friends had ever been there. Show pictures, that sort of thing. They both died recently, both with bite marks, but I don’t think vamps killed them.”
“Why’s that?” he asked, leaning toward her.
“They were both strangled, not drained. I just thought if I could figure out where they had been and who they hung around with, I might be able to figure out who killed them.”
“And you thought showing pictures of a couple of dead fangbangers around a vampire bar was a good idea?”
“They weren’t a couple of dead fangbangers,” she ground out. “Dawn was my friend.”
“Your questions have nothing to do with why you’re here.”
“I suppose it’s a big coincidence, huh?” She leaned back in her chair, her breasts heaving against the neckline of her tight dress.
“Your visit to Fangtasia merely illuminated Compton’s incompetence.”
“How dare you!” Her mouth hung open and her eyes widened with fury.
“Pam told me that he allowed you to get hurt so he could claim you.” He studied her face while he spoke.
“That’s not how it happened. The Rats snuck up on me and nearly beat me to death.”
“And he showed up in time to save you with his blood,” he guessed.
“Yes. We were supposed to meet, but he was late.”
Eric let out a short, bitter laugh. “He wasn’t late. He led you into a trap. He wanted you to get hurt.”
She reached across the table and tried to slap his face. He caught her wrist and held it while she struggled against him. She lunged out of her chair, trying to attack him with her other hand, but he soon had both of them restrained in one hand. She screamed and yelled as he carried her down the hall to her room, her dress climbing up her flailing legs. With one slick movement, he pulled the handcuffs out of his back pocket and linked one around her wrist and the other around the headboard before dropping her onto the mattress.
She tugged against the bed and screamed, “You can’t do this to me.”
“I just did,” he retorted. “The sun is coming, and you need to stay put.”
The metal chain clanked against the headboard as she got to her feet. “What if I have to use the bathroom?”
He sped into the kitchen and retrieved a bucket, dropping it on the floor next to the bed. “Use this.”
“I’m not peeing in a bucket,” she screeched.
He scoffed. “You’re spoiled. I’ve lived for centuries without indoor plumbing. Get over it.”
“When Bill finds me, and I know he will, he’s going to tear you apart.”
“Compton’s not coming for you,” he said, watching the hope and righteous indignation in her face fall. “Get some sleep.” He closed the door behind him, her screams morphing into sobs. When the sun came up, he slipped into his day rest unsettled by the relentless sound of her cries.
I hope you liked it! Leave a comment and let me know! On to Detox: Chapter 3