Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own. Thanks for all the brilliant ideas, GabbieAnnie.
Sookie stood in the middle of the bustling room, taking in her surroundings when Bill gripped her arm, pulling her close.
“You look like a white candle in a coal mine.”
She laughed, because it was true. Everyone else wore black or gray, including the vampires. She wondered if they dressed that way because it was their preference, or because the clientele expected it.
Bill dragged her toward the bar and pushed her, unceremoniously, toward the bartender.
The wiry man smiled at her, his fangs on display and his nostrils flaring.
Bill ordered a warmed bottle of blood, while she ordered a gin and tonic. A few of the fangbangers were sipping bottles of blood, too, but it just made them more pathetic than they already were.
“Long time no see, Bill,” the man said, combining the liquids in her short glass. “Is she your meal for the night?”
“She’s the one I was telling you about,” Bill whispered. Sookie focused on a couple standing nearby, but heard him and didn’t miss the meaningful glance the bartender gave her. “Sookie, this is Long Shadow. She has a few questions.”
“Anything for such a special woman. Do I get to sample the wares?”
“She’s mine!” Bill puffed out his chest and glared at his friend.
A few uneasy moments passed before Sookie pulled out the newspaper pictures of Dawn and Maudette. “Have you seen these women here before?”
“Yes,” the bartender answered.
“Do you know who they spent time with?”
His eyes narrowed and his mouth pressed into a grim line. “That’s not something you should ask. Privacy is important to us.”
She looked away and mumbled an apology before trying to pull the papers back toward her.
Long Shadow put his finger on Dawn’s face. “She wanted to die.” Something about the way he said it made her believe him. “Perhaps you do, too.” He leered at her and licked his thin lips.
Bill dug his fingernails into the tender flesh under her arm and started pulling her away.
“Leaving so soon?” Long Shadow asked.
“I’ll be in touch,” Bill whispered before forcing Sookie into a recently vacated booth. Her drink sloshed onto the table.
“What was that all about?” She scowled at him and rubbed her arm at the same time. “You were hurting me.”
“He would do much worse,” Bill stated.
“Why would he say that, about me wanting to die.”
Bill shrugged slightly. “That’s what we are: death. That’s what most of these people want.” He gestured at the pitiful fang-bangers and terrified tourists.
Sookie closed her eyes and listened to the room. “Nope.” She zeroed in on one young man, slumped at the bar. “Okay he does, but everyone else is here for sex.” Her heart raced as her mind was flooded with graphic images. Most of them featured either a blond woman or a blond man. She frowned and tilted her head. “They’re all thinking about the same vampires.” She glanced around quickly finding the beautiful couple everyone with a pulse pined for, only to see that they were both staring at her. She swallowed hard. “Who are they?” The man wore boots, jeans, and a vest. His pale skin glimmered in the dim lights.
“Eric and Pam,” Bill said, his voice going cold. “He’s the oldest thing in here.”
At that moment, Eric signaled to Bill. Bill sighed and slid out of the booth, dragging Sookie with him.
“Where are we going? My purse is on the table.” She tried to reach for it, but he had her in his iron grip again.
“He wants to meet you,” Bill whispered. “We mustn’t disappoint Eric.”
They pushed through the crowd and stopped about ten feet away from the raised platform where Eric and Pam sat.
“What have we here?” Eric asked, looking Sookie over from head to toe for the third time, lingering a little too long over her curves.
Sookie curtsied and bowed her head slightly, taking cues from how Bill interacted with other vampires. No one seemed to shake hands, which didn’t matter much since they were so far apart. “Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Aren’t you sweet?”
“Not particularly,” she sassed, earning a raised eyebrow from Pam.
“Sookie, this is Eric and Pam, they own the bar,” Bill explained.
Sookie nodded. They were beautiful and powerful. Of course everyone wanted them.
“Out for a night of thrills?” Pam asked, showing her wicked fangs as she smiled.
Sookie cowered. “Actually, I have a few questions, if that’s okay.”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Like how old we are and how big his dick is?” She pointed her thumb at Eric, smiling again when her words sank in and made Sookie blush.
“No, I… I… My friends have pictures.” She squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath. “I mean, I have pictures of my friends, if you wouldn’t mind looking at them. They’re in my purse.” She looked over her shoulder, hoping it hadn’t been stolen from their abandoned table.
“Fetch it, will you,” Eric said to Bill, as a demand not a request.
Bill nodded and released his hold on her.
Sookie rubbed her arm and inspected the soft flesh, which already had a bruise forming. When Bill returned, he pushed her red purse into her hands and then reached out to regain his hold on her. “Stop it, you’re hurting me.” She twisted away from him and stepped toward Eric. Bill didn’t follow. “Have you seen these women before?” She pulled the folded newspaper clippings out of her purse and held them out.
Eric’s blue gaze slid down her neck, hovered over her breasts, and then followed her arms to where the pictures rested in her shaky palms.
Pam leaned forward and then looked at Eric. She seemed to be waiting for him to say something.
Eric nodded. “Yes. I’ve been with her,” he said casually, touching Dawn’s picture.
Pam nodded. “I’ve never been with either, but that one was pathetic. Desperate to fuck anything undead.” She flicked a finger toward Maudette’s picture.
Sookie scoffed. “Like most of the people in here?” She listened again and that time, gasped as a new thought broke through the wall of lust.
“What about you?” Eric asked, his eyebrows formed a hopeful arch.
“No. I’m more concerned with getting out of here. Right now.”
Pam straightened her back and looked around them. “Why do you say that?”
“There’s going to be a raid,” Sookie whispered.
Eric looked at one vamp after another, giving them a different signal than the one he’d used with Bill before he stood, towering over Sookie. He offered his arm to her, which she took out of habit. His arm felt like steel.
Bill made a growling sound behind them.
“Careful, Compton,” Eric said, escorting Sookie outside while the other vampires came up behind them. Once they were in the parking lot, Eric paused and looked down at Sookie. “How do you know?”
“A cop saw a vamp in the bathroom biting a fang-banger. He called for backup. I read his mind,” she said with a shrug. While she normally kept that detail hidden from regular people, she didn’t think it would be the weirdest thing Eric had ever heard.
“As much as I’d love to chat, we should probably go,” Sookie said, trying to pull away from Eric. He put his hand on top of hers.
“I would be happy to drive you home,” he offered. “So we can continue our conversation.”
“She’s mine,” Bill said for the second time that night.
“Are you attached to him?” Eric asked, ignoring Bill.
“I… We are… Um, I mean, I don’t—” Sirens in the distance cut her off.
“I’ll take that as a no.” Eric turned and faced Bill. “I’ll take her home tonight.”
Bill opened his mouth to respond, but promptly shut it. He nodded briskly and moved in a blur to his shiny Cadillac.
Eric guided Sookie into the passenger seat of a bright red Corvette. Of course he drove a Corvette.
Sookie took a deep breath and then sat on her hands. She couldn’t get them to stop shaking. Nervous didn’t begin to explain how she felt. She happened to be getting a ride from the most beautiful and dangerous man she had ever met. Scratch that. The most beautiful and dangerous vampire she’d ever met.
Eric pulled out of the parking lot just as the police entered through the other driveway. Once they were a safe distance away, he asked, “Where do you live?”
“Bon Temps,” she answered. “It’s about—”
“I know where it is.” He looked at her sideways. “You don’t seem like Compton’s type.”
“Oh?” she asked, her voice unusually high. “What are you implying?” Bill had already made her feel like shit by not complimenting her outfit, so she was fully prepared for whatever insult Eric was about to dish out.
“He usually gets his meals from much more willing humans.”
Sookie snorted. “He’s mainstreaming.”
“So he says.” Eric paused and looked at her again. “You don’t seem willing … despite the dress,” he added, a hint of a smile tugging up his lips.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Her anger flashed like a stove fire threatening to consumer her.
“Your outfit is meant to show off your body and yet, you’re awkward and uncomfortable.”
“Maybe you’re making me uncomfortable!” she retorted.
He growled and pulled the car over to the shoulder, stopping their progress.
She covered her mouth and couldn’t look away. Sassing a vampire might not be the best move.
“I’m making you uncomfortable?” he asked, leaning toward her, pulling her hand away from her mouth. His lips inches from hers. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. “Has Compton ever told you how delicious you smell?” He ran his thumb across her palm, sending a shiver through her.
“He may have implied it,” she whispered. The memory of him licking her forehead after the Rattray’s attacked flickered into her head. Do I taste different than other people? Yes. What are you?
“Are you fucking?”
Heat crept up her cheeks. “Not that it’s any of your business, but no.” She yanked her hand away from him.
“Interesting,” he replied, inhaling again.
“Like my telepathy?” she asked, wishing desperately to change the subject.
“I had a psychic once. It was magnificent.”
“Did they think so?”
“At first…” He smiled and leaned back in his seat, probably reliving some gruesome death scene. “I’ve never had a telepath.” His dark, hungry eyes roamed over her body.
“I’d like to keep it that way,” she said curtly. “You promised you’d take me home.”
“I did.” He didn’t seem to be certain about why he had agreed to that. She thought he might change his mind, but then, he pulled back onto the main road. “Can you hear my thoughts?”
She smiled wide, partially out of relief, partially because she reveled in his silence. “No. You are blissfully quiet, like all vampires. Humans are very noisy.”
“I can only imagine.” Several minutes passed in silence before Eric spoke again. “If you’re not fucking, how does Compton have a claim on you?”
She crossed her arms over her chest and looked out the window. “As I said, that’s none of your business.”
Eric let out a startled laugh. “You are full of surprises.”
She kept her eyes on the scenery that passed by her window in a haze. Soon enough, the familiar wood that surrounded Bon Temps came into view. She sighed. Almost home. “Turn left in a mile, down Hummingbird Lane.” She considered telling him to let her off at the Grab It Quick, but couldn’t imagine walking a mile in her shiny red heels. Not to mention the fact that Bill might be home and furious with her. Being out at night unaccompanied probably wasn’t a great idea. Plus there was the Bon Temps Killer on the loose.
Eric slowed his car, carefully avoiding the ruts in the worn driveway before coming to a stop.
The porch light glinted off Eric’s glossy car. “Thank you for driving me home.”
“It was my pleasure,” Eric said before rushing out of the car and opening her door. His eyes trained on her golden thighs.
Acutely aware of how much skin she showed, Sookie twisted clumsily out of the low seat in an attempt to keep a little of her body hidden. Eric offered his hand, but she refused to take it. When she had finally managed to stand upright, she smoothed her dress into place and took cautious steps across the uneven gravel. She extracted her keys from her tiny red purse and shuffled up the front stairs trying to minimize any movements that might be construed as sexual. Eric blew past her and relaxed against the doorframe.
“You move fast for such a big man.”
“You have no idea.”
What the hell is that supposed to mean? Sookie frowned and then unlocked her door, stepping across the threshold. “Goodnight.”
“Until next time.” He bowed and then retraced his steps to his car.
Next time. Shit.
Bill doesn’t stand a chance. Read on Petulance: Chapter 2