Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Thank you for the lovely reviews for the last chapter. I hope you enjoy this one as well! All mistakes are my own!
What the hell is wrong with me? Sookie pressed her forehead against her bedroom door. Water tip tapped against the floor below her. She sighed and picked up her towel and dabbed at her wet skin. She looked down at her clothes and heat spread through her body. The fabric clung to her like a second skin, showing off every curve. She tugged at the hem of her camisole and pulled it up and off her head. Her nipples tightened and she closed her eyes, imaging Eric’s hand on her breasts.
What’s wrong with me? What would Bill say? She scoffed. I know what he’d say; he’d scold me for not behaving properly around a vampire. Just like at Fangtasia. He’s always treated me like a child. Eric doesn’t do that. Maybe that’s why I like him.
She shook her head, scattering her thoughts. She finished undressing, collecting her soggy clothes in her towel. She fished through the bags of clothes Pam had brought to her and pulled out a matching bra and panties, marveling at how well they fit, and then got dressed in a pair of shorts and a sleeveless blouse. She hung her wet clothes from the shower curtain rod in the bathroom next to her wet towel and then combed through her hair with her fingers.
She couldn’t find Eric, and figured he was in his room changing too, and was glad for it. The last thing she needed was to make a fool of herself in front of him again. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten earlier. After gathering food from the fridge and cupboard, she started cooking. The pots and pans had seen better days and definitely needed to be washed before use, but they worked just fine.
“What are you making?” Eric asked from the half-wall.
Sookie squeaked in surprise and gripped her chest. “You need to wear a bell or something.” His eyes danced. He had put a shirt on. She had mixed feelings about that. “Pasta,” she answered.
He sat there, quietly observing her while she finished cooking, and then joined her at the table. Rain continued to fall, pounding against the roof.
“Do you want me to heat up a bottle of blood for you?” she offered before sitting down.
“I can—” He started getting up, but she stopped him.
“I’m already up. I can get it.” She popped one into the microwave and then held the cap in place and tilted it back and forth before serving him, checking it against her wrist. “Would you like a glass?”
He shook his head. “This is fine.”
She sat next to him and stabbed a noodle, watching him bring the bottle to his lips. “What does it taste like?”
He grimaced. “Like shit.” He chuckled softly. “Not literally. But, synthetic blood doesn’t taste anything like the real thing. It sustains me, so I guess I can’t complain.”
“Do you ever drink from donors?” she asked.
“Sometimes. I’m a little nervous because of Hep V, but it’s so much more satisfying.” His fangs slid out to prove his point.
Since he seemed to be in a talkative mood, she asked another question. “Do you know who the vampire bartender is at Fangtasia?” Something about the way Bill greeted her and the look that she gave him back had gotten stuck in Sookie’s brain and she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing something.
“Her name is Sabine. Pam hired her earlier this year when she opened the bar,” he replied, taking another sip.
Sookie filled her mouth with pasta and chewed, thinking of what to ask next, unsure if she wanted to know more. “How does she know Bill?” she asked, finally.
“Why do you ask?” He narrowed his eyes.
“There was something about her, about the way she talked to him and looked at me.”
He took a drink. “They used to … date.”
His words hit like a fist to her chest. “Oh.”
“She was probably jealous,” he added.
“Of you,” he replied matter-of-fact. “I can’t believe he would be stupid enough to take you there. Of all places, unless he knew she’d be there and wanted to make her jealous.”
“I asked him to take me.” She frowned. “But we didn’t even look around first, we went straight for the bar. Was he using me?” She thought back to that night and how terrified she’d been and how little he seemed to care about her feelings.
“If he was, he’s certainly paying the price for it now.” He gave her a fangy grin.
“What do you mean?”
His smile grew, turning his handsome face into something frightening. “He’s in her custody.”
“They’re together?” she whispered, tears rimming her eyes. “I guess he got what he wanted. He didn’t really like me, did he? He just dragged me around like a devoted puppy dog so he could make his ex-girlfriend jealous.”
“He’s a fool,” Eric said between clenched teeth.
She sniffed, and willed her tears not to fall. A tiny part of her still wanted him, despite the truth, and she hated it. “I wish I could get the rest of his blood out of my body,” she said, her sorrow turning to anger.
He picked up her hand, brought her arms to his nose, and inhaled deeply. “Most of it is gone. You smell different. You probably taste different too.” His fangs glittered against his lips in the yellow light.
She considered letting him bite her, but quickly changed her mind. The idea excited her a little too much. “Maybe,” she whispered, pulling her arm out of his grasp. “He makes me mad,” she said.
“What was his assignment?” she held his gaze.
“To procure you, for our boss.”
“Why didn’t he just take me to her?”
“Good question,” he answered.
“Because he wanted to use me first, and he couldn’t do that without me being under his control. The Rats played right into his hands. And so did I.” She exhaled forcefully. “And now he’s with his ex-girlfriend, doing god knows what.”
“She’s punishing him, I’m sure.”
She gulped. “He might like that.” She thought of three-beer drunk Dan and his penchant for pain. “I can’t think of that.” She shook her head, but the image clung there, Sabine and Bill having sex. “Tell me things. Anything.”
“I live in New Orleans,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city.”
“I went once when I was a kid, with my parents.” That did it. Her mind slipped into an old memory of the French Quarter with her parents and brother. She was six. They went during spring break when she was in first grade. “Jason got all kinds of attention from the women there. Even as a kid he attracted the opposite sex.”
“Can he read minds too?”
“Nope, just me. I’m the lucky one, I guess.” She frowned. “Do you think my fairy heritage has something to do with my telepathy?”
“I’ve never heard of that. Demons, sure, but not fairies.”
Her mouth hung open. “There are demons, too?”
“Yes. They’re dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.”
“Octavia didn’t mention anything about demon blood. I wonder if my gran knows anything about my non-human family.” She was tempted to call her right then, but thought that conversation would be better in person. “I’ll ask her when I get back.” She changed gears. “How long have you lived there?”
He shrugged. “A while.”
“Do you like it?”
“Most of the time. There are a lot of tourists.”
“I wish I lived in a big city. Small towns don’t give much privacy. I always planned to go away to college, but I couldn’t afford it, so I got stuck in Bon Temps.”
“Do you like your job?”
She laughed. “Slinging beer and getting groped? No, I don’t like it. But it pays the bills.”
He nodded sympathetically. A comfortable silence settled around them while she finished eating.
She watched the storm through the window over the sink as she cleaned up. When she finished, she went to her room, opened the spare set of sheets Pam provided, and covered the couch with the flat sheet, leaving the fitted sheet in her room. “There. That’s better.” She smoothed the material in place, tucking it into the gaps between the cushions and arms, before sitting down gently. The springs dug into her legs, so she scooted over a little. She inhaled experimentally. “Doesn’t smell that bad.”
Eric had watched the whole ordeal and pointed to the other side. “May I join you?”
“Sure.” She patted it gently, not wanting to stir up anything funky inside the worn cushions, and then tucked her feet up under her.
He sat down next to her and nodded his approval. “Much better. I need to thank Pam for the sheets as well.”
“As well as what?”
“The, uh towels,” he said slowly, pointing down the hall.
“Right.” She closed her eyes and rested her head against the back of the couch and enjoyed the sound of the soft rain tapping against the roof. The more she thought of it, the happier she was not to be at work, especially on a night like that. Rainstorms kept people away, which gave the regulars an opportunity to make fools of themselves more than usual. Nope, I’ll take this over work any day. She smiled.
Her full stomach and the soft rain lulled her to sleep. Her mind filled with thoughts of Eric. Standing in the kitchen, shirt off, pressing his body against hers. Her entire being hummed with desire, which lingered until consciousness came back to her.
The next time she woke, she couldn’t move her left arm. Sun poured through the window above her bed. A rectangle of bright blue greeted her.
Eric must’ve carried me in here. I wonder what time it is. I need to pee. She sat up and rubbed her numb arm. The handcuff rested against her wrist bone. I can’t get out today … unless I take the bed apart. She smiled. Two bolts held the frame in place on each side. She wrapped the sharp-edged metal with her pillowcase and tried to turn it with all her strength. It wouldn’t budge.
She grunted and focused on the other three, sliding her handcuff along the bottom bar to work on the other side. They came free, one after another. She pried up the free side, jarring the last bolt holding the headboard. When she went back to it, a shimmer of rust fell away from the threads as she unscrewed it. With all four bolts out, she lifted the headboard up and off the bottom half of the frame. The piece weighed about twenty pounds. She held it against her chest and when she got to her door, she had to balance it on her knee to get out. She wiggled sideways through the opening and went straight into the bathroom. She sat it on the floor while she relieved herself, and struggled to wash her hands, finally giving up, satisfied that she had managed to wash the hand she’d used. She frowned when she touched her pajamas, which were still damp, hanging from the curtain.
Out in the hall, she noticed Eric’s door, closed tight. She had no intention of trying to steal his keys again, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t explore while she had the house to herself.
She unlocked the deadbolt and stepped outside. Birds sang and bright golden light filtered through the leaves of the massive trees outside. The ground was still soggy around the front porch where the rain had carved a trough into the mud the previous night. The sparse grass and weeds a little farther away had recovered from the pounding and held their leaves up to the sun. She clutched the frame against her chest and jumped away from the muddy patch, landing a foot away in the moist grass.
The house didn’t look like much from the outside, especially in the unforgiving light of day. The wood, which had once been bright red, hung raw and exposed to the elements, the paint peeling. Everything looked run down. Behind her, a large meadow sprawled away from the house toward the river. She stepped carefully, avoiding thorny bits and sharp rocks with her bare feet and walked toward the rushing water. The forest bumped into the edge of the meadow, tiny yellow flowers replaced by giant pillars of wood, thick with branches. The river hissed and bubbled as it moved, the reddish water nearly overflowing the banks. As far as she could see upstream and downstream, there wasn’t a way to cross. Not that I want to leave. I need Octavia to yank the rest of Bill out of my body so I can get on with my life. The more she thought about it, the more she realized that being locked in the old dumpy house was the first real vacation she’d had in years. No noise, no invading thoughts, and no distractions. She smiled. Well, no unpleasant distractions. Eric provides the best kind.
As she made her way back toward the house, she found a broken clothesline, all but one arm bent with age. “I only need one!” she said to herself, smiling, and then retreated into the house, retrieved her pajamas, and hopped back outside to the clothesline. She had to prop them carefully so they wouldn’t fall, but figured in the bright afternoon sun, they would be dry in no time. She sat carefully on an old, splintered bench and closed her eyes. She let the headboard rest against the ground, exhausted from hauling something so heavy. She tried to lean backward, but splinters stabbed into her palms. She undressed, placing her clothes under her body to protect her so she could lie down, and let the sun kiss her skin. She figured that being alone in the woods meant she could sunbathe nude if she wanted to, and no one could say a word otherwise. It wasn’t as comfortable as her chaise lounge, but the sun made her feel too good to complain any more.
After a while, she moved the headboard to the other side, and sprawled onto her stomach, letting the sun cook her evenly. Finally the rays became less powerful, signifying the impending sunset, so she dressed, collected her pajamas, and headed inside. She hung up her pajamas in the bathroom just as they’d been before, closed her bedroom door, and lifted the frame back into place, hiding the bolts under the bed. She knew the frame could come apart, but Eric didn’t. She leaned against the wall and waited.
As soon as the sun went down, Eric came into her room, turned on the light, and unlocked her wrist. He bent over her body and inhaled deeply, holding his breath. He didn’t say anything, but his pupils dilated.
“How did you sleep?” she asked, admiring his bare chest.
“Same here,” she said, rubbing her wrist.
Eric narrowed his eyes. “Don’t you need to use the bathroom?”
“Oh, yeah.” She got up and walked across the hall, only managing to pee a tiny bit. Oops. Didn’t think of that. “I’m hungry, but do you want to play cards later?”
“Sure. Do you want to make the game more interesting?” he asked.
“No thanks,” she answered, smothering her smile and trying to ignore the desire stirring inside her. The night passed much as the previous one had, minus the rainstorm and impromptu shower. When she could no longer keep her eyes open, she changed into her dry pajamas and called to him from her bed, where she sat with her legs folded, waiting for him.
He kneeled in front of her bed and slid the handcuff toward her and picked up her left hand. “Did I make it too tight last night?” He turned her hand this way and that way, checking for abrasions.
“No, it was okay. I didn’t try to yank it off like the night before.” She smiled sheepishly.
“You talk in your sleep,” he blurted out as he put her right hand in the cuff and snapped it shut.
He nodded. “A lot.”
A fragment of the dream came back to her, making her cheeks hot. “What did I say?”
“Yes?” she echoed, her heart racing.
“Yes, Eric,” he said, his eyes moving down her body, lingering on her heaving breasts.
She chuckled nervously. “It was a dream where we were having a conversation,” she lied.
“It didn’t sound like a conversation,” his voice went low, turning her legs into jelly.
She cleared her throat. “Have you heard from your boss?” He was close enough to kiss again, and she needed to change the subject fast, for both of their sakes.
“Are you supposed to check in or something? Let her know how things are going?”
He nodded. “I do that before I sleep.”
“What’s it like in your coffin?” she asked, resisting the urge to push his hair out of his face so she could see it better.
“Dark. Quiet. Lonely,” he added, staring into her eyes.
“You seemed pretty crowded in there,” she said, ignoring his last comment.
“It’s not made for someone my height. I have a coffin at home that is perfectly comfortable.”
“You are really tall,” she stated. “So you don’t normally sleep all curled up like that?”
She yawned, covering her mouth.
“I’ll let you sleep. See you in the evening.” He got to his feet and bowed before turning off the light and closing the door behind him.
Sookie curled up on her side and fell asleep. That time, she dreamed of sharing his coffin, dark, quiet, and big enough for two.
Well? What do you think? Ready for more? On to Detox: Chapter 7