Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own. The Wizard of Oz references in this chapter and next are to the book, not the movie.
Sookie gasped and sat upright. Something moved under her. She tentatively touched her damaged neck, but frowned when she found perfect, smooth skin. The light in the room had a weird glow to it. Wait. That’s me. I’m glowing. She frowned and looked at her arms then down at her chest. Where’s my dress? What am I wearing? She jumped up, hitting her head on something. She glanced up. Ceiling.
“Don’t panic,” Eric said.
She spun to face him. She’d been sleeping on top of him on a bed. They were in a room. A bright strip of light glimmered under the door. “What happened? Where am I?” she said carefully, realizing she had full control over her voice again. “Where are my clothes? What time is it? Why are you here?”
He held his hand up to stop her.
Pain shot through her stomach, sending her to her knees.
Eric handed her a bottle. “Drink.”
She squinted at it in the near darkness of the room, unable to read the label. It was familiar. She tilted her head backward and opened her mouth. When the foul liquid touched her tongue, she gagged.
“I know. Drink anyway. Trust me, you’ll feel better.” He rubbed soothing circles across her back.
For some reason, she obeyed and fought the urge to puke and swallowed instead. Sure enough, the pain dulled. “More,” she said. He was ready with a second bottle. After she finished it. Pieces started falling into place. She had just downed two bottles of synthetic blood. That’s why it was familiar. She’d seen the bottles on display and smelled it on Bill’s breath. But only vampires drink bottled blood. It doesn’t work on humans.
Oh shit. I’m a vampire.
Sookie cradled her face in her hands and rocked back and forth. “Oh my God! Oh my God!”
“It’s okay. You’re safe. Nothing can hurt you.”
“Of course it can’t!” she snapped at him. “I’m immortal!” She sighed. “Oh my God! What happened?”
“Calm down,” he commanded.
She glared at him. “Don’t tell me what to do!”
“I’m your Maker, it’s my job to tell you what to do.”
“Go to hell!” Sookie screamed, slipping off the bed and yanking the door open. The light blinded her. She covered her face with her hands, shielding her eyes. They didn’t want to adjust. She shook her hair over her hands and peeked at her clothes. She wore a giant shirt with FANGTASIA scrawled across the front. Just like the ones on display above the bar.
Eric came up behind her and touched her covered shoulders. She whirled around and swatted his hand, managing to smack herself in the face in the process. “Don’t touch me!”
He tightened his grip.
She growled and then fought against him, but he was stronger. She finally sighed and let her arms hang limp. “Where are we?” Her eyes had adjusted slightly, but all she could see was a set of stairs.
“In my house. I stayed with you the whole time.”
“What whole time?”
“During your transition.”
“How long was that?” She opened her eyes wide and regretted it. She went back to observing him through angry slits.
“This is the third night.”
“I’ve been gone three nights?” she screamed, and then she started breathing fast and shallow. Of course, it didn’t have any effect on her, since her body no longer required oxygen. “My gran must be worried sick. And Sam! I’m sure he’s freaking out.”
“I handled it.” Eric ran his hands across her shoulders.
“What do you mean you handled it?”
“I called Sam and let him know what happened. He wasn’t happy.” He shook his head slightly. “But I convinced him not to blame either of us, so—”
“Me?” she screeched. “Why would he blame me? If anything this is all your fault!” She jabbed him in the chest. “You asked me to work for you, one little job, no big deal. Remember? None of this is my fault. Now I’m a vampire!” As the last thought left her, tears filled her eyes. As they streaked down her cheeks, Eric wiped them.
I’ve never seen anyone react like this. I wonder if it’s just her stubbornness or—
The thought stopped immediately as he licked his finger.
She didn’t know what was more disconcerting, the fact that she had bloody tears or that she seemed to just hear Eric’s thoughts. “Touch me again.”
He put his hand on her shoulder. Nothing happened.
“No, on my skin.”
He smiled and put his hand back on her face. Yes. Finally. This might not be so bad after—
Sookie pulled away. “Shit.”
“I can hear your thoughts.” She groaned. “This is the worst day of my life.”
“What do you mean you can hear my thoughts? And technically you’re not alive, also, it’s night.”
“Shut up!” She stormed past him and back into his bedroom. The light was killing her. She flopped onto his bed.
Eric followed her. Of course. “Can you hear my thoughts now?”
“No. Only when you touch me.”
“Like this?” he asked, running a hand up her bare leg. She’s so soft.
She hit him again. “That wasn’t an invitation.” She pulled her legs under her and stretched the baggy T-shirt over her knees. It barely covered her ass, but at least she was still wearing underwear. “Where’s my dress and bra?”
“I burned them along with all the other bloodied clothes.”
“That was my favorite dress.” She pouted.
“I’ll buy you a new one.”
That cheered her a little. “Tell me what happened. The last thing I remember is Long Shadow stabbing me.”
“He punctured your kidney. The wound was deep.”
“And then he tore my throat open. I couldn’t talk or breathe.”
“Belinda was making so much noise I didn’t even realize he’d gotten you. When she saw what happened, she started screaming and flailing even more, which made it more difficult to get to you.” Sorrow filled his eyes and then he apologized, “I’m so sorry he hurt you.” More than hearing his apology, she felt it somehow.
She touched the side of her neck as the memory of the pain came back.
“I threw Belinda down the hall and rushed back to you. Belinda was screaming. I broke her arm. Thalia was going crazy. Clancy and Pam worked hard to restrain her. Your blood is very aromatic, to say the least, and Thalia isn’t great at controlling herself. They finally dragged her outside while I cut Long Shadow’s head off.”
“Ew!” She grimaced as she realized she’d survived death by drinking Long Shadow’s blood. How much did I drink?
Eric nodded. “I didn’t think of what would happen after, I just needed to get his head away from you, so that’s what I did.”
“And his body fell on top of mine, smothering me.”
“And his blood was all over me.”
“And yours,” Eric added. “It took hours to clean the floor.”
“Sorry for the inconvenience,” she sassed.
Eric glared at her. “Then I took you to my office and brought you back to life.”
“So I passed out and you decided to undress me?”
“I did remove your dress and clean your skin, but only because I knew you wouldn’t want to wake in a crusty layer of blood. I didn’t do anything,” he added. “I wanted to. But I didn’t.”
“How noble of you.” She sighed. “So then I spent three days and two nights unconscious with you, in your bed.”
“Again. Nothing happened.”
“Thanks for clearing that up. Tell me about Sam.”
“I called him and let him know what happened,” he started, the same way he’d done last time. “He was furious, but quickly came around to understanding the gravity of the situation. He said he would call your grandmother and explain that your job would take a few days and that you would be home as soon as you could.”
“So I have to tell her? I have to go home and tell my gran I’m undead?” She dreaded that conversation more than anything. Gran had pinned all her hopes of having great-grandbabies on Sookie. Sure, Jason could probably knock up some skank, but raising kids didn’t seem to be part of his path in life. No great-grandbabies for Gran. She frowned. “Sam is already short-handed at work. It must’ve been nuts the last few days.”
“At Fangtasia. Running things. Without me or Long Shadow she’s taken on the entire business, which is no small task. We need to go. She’s waiting.”
“Long Shadow and Bill were working together,” she said.
“Bill was going to use me. Long Shadow, too.” She shuddered.
Eric nodded solemnly.
“Why does the light hurt my eyes so much?”
“Everything changes, including your vision. You’re more adapted to seeing in the dark now. It wasn’t an issue when I was young, since electricity hadn’t been invented yet. Now,” he said with a shrug, “it’s painful.” Again, he felt sorry for her and she knew it somehow.
“I’m not ready to see my gran. Not yet.” A terrible thought entered her head. What if she bit her?
“I understand. When you’re ready to visit, I’ll go with you.”
For some reason, that comforted her. But what did he mean by visit? Did he understand how dangerous it would be for her to live with her grandmother? Where would she live? Who would take care of Gran?
“How can you read my thoughts?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I couldn’t before. Maybe something happened during the transition. It’s different with people. They’re like radios that are on all the time. Touching them makes the radio louder, so to speak. But you’re not transmitting anything, like your radio is switched off. I have to touch you to turn you on.” The moment the words left her mouth she knew what he would say. A cocky smile slid across his face. “Shut it. You know that’s not what I meant.”
“Touching me is definitely the best way to turn me on,” he said. It was like a compulsion. He couldn’t help himself. She wanted to punch him.
“Did you find the money?”
Eric nodded. “Long Shadow had it hidden all over his apartment. I found all but ten thousand.”
“Maybe it’s at Bill’s house.” Sookie frowned. “I bet it’s Bill’s new electrical upgrade! I wondered how he could afford to fix up his house without a job. I just thought he had a savings account or something. I guess he was using your money to update everything.”
“Mystery solved. I sold his car, so now we’re even. Well, I’m even, he’s dead.”
“What am I supposed to do now?” she asked, drawing her knees closer to her chest and hugging them. Her whole world got turned on its head and for the first time in her life, she didn’t know where she fit. “I don’t have a job or a home or a family.” She squeezed her eyes shut and willed the tears not to fall. She couldn’t stand the thought of having blood on her face again.
“You can have Long Shadow’s job.” He smiled. “As for your home, you should live here while you learn how to survive. It is my duty to look after you. That also answers the question of family. Pam and I are your family.”
“I’m her Maker.”
Sookie tilted her head. “So we’re like sisters?”
“I guess you could look at it like that.”
“I always wanted a sister.” She smiled. “When you say that I should stay here, do you mean in your house, or in your room?”
“You know what I would prefer,” he answered. “But there are other bedrooms if you would feel more comfortable for now.”
“For now?” She scoffed. “Don’t push your luck.”
He went on as if she hadn’t spoken, “In fact, Pam already went shopping for you. There is a closet upstairs ready for you, so if you’d like to use that room, you may.”
“Isn’t there sunlight upstairs?”
Eric shook his head. “No, everything is light-tight. Custom built. I’ll show you.”
He turned all the lights off and led her upstairs to a plain room. The closet was packed with clothing. Expensive clothing. He pointed out a dresser filled with bras and panties.
“How did she…”
Eric pressed his lips together. “She read the tags on your ruined clothes before we burned them. No one touched you.”
“Thanks for clarifying again.” She pulled out a beautiful green cashmere sweater and held it across her chest. Perfect fit. “Can I have some privacy to try some of this on?”
Eric nodded and motioned to the adjoining bathroom. “Make yourself at home.”
After he left, Sookie locked the door. Not that a dumb doorknob could keep Eric out, but it still made her feel a little better. She whipped the T-shirt off her head and threw it on the ground. A shower was in order. Her panties joined the shirt and then she had the best shower of her life. The water tinged pink when she rinsed out her hair. Eric must not have gotten all the blood off her. Shampoo did the trick. When she was done, she wrapped herself in a plush towel and paraded through the room to the full mirror. With the lights off, her skin glowed softly like amber.
Eric knocked on her door.
Sookie opened it just wide enough that she could see him with one eye.
“You might not want to wear your favorite tonight.”
“I’m going to teach you how to feed from a human. Sometimes it’s messy.”
“I couldn’t!” She gasped and released her grip on the door.
“They will be willing. More than willing.” He frowned as he looked across her exposed shoulders and said, “How is your skin the same color all over?”
“We’re not discussing my tan. We’re discussing me biting someone. I don’t think I can do that!”
“Your instincts may change your mind.”
“I don’t think so,” she argued.
He sighed. “Fine. I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to do, but just in case, wear black.”
“Whatever.” She closed the door and locked it again. Why does he always have to be so high-handed? Jeez. Facing the closet again, she sorted through the dresses until she found a silver one with a plunging neckline. Screw him.
With her ensemble fastened and her breasts wiggled into place, she kneeled in front of her new shoes. Pam must really like shoes. Like, a lot. She counted twenty pair. Not the cheap ones from Payless, either. Some were probably handmade! The matching silver shoes were a no-brainer. They hugged her feet as if they were made for her. She suddenly felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz: about to begin a strange journey.
When she walked out into the kitchen, Eric turned to face her.
His mouth fell open, but he finally said, “I said black.”
She pouted. “You don’t like it?” She smoothed the fabric at her waist over the curve of her hip.
“That’s beside the point.”
“So you do like it?”
He groaned with frustration. “Pam is expecting us.”
Eric is going on a strange journey, too. He just doesn’t know it yet. 🙂 Read on Petulance: Chapter 6