Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own.
Sookie sulked the entire way home. At least I don’t have to share my seat tonight. Stupid Eric. Why does he have to be such a dick?
“Please don’t be angry with me,” Eric said, breaking the silence.
“How could you tell?” she jeered.
“I’m very pleased with your progress,” he went on, keeping his eyes on the road. “You need to learn how to feed from other parts of the body. Do you know human anatomy?”
She shrugged. “A little.”
“Tomorrow, I’ll show you.”
Instead of watching T.V. with Eric, Sookie decided to spend the rest of the night cleaning. A pile of dirty clothes waited in the laundry room. Apparently Eric doesn’t like to get his hands dirty she thought as she sorted through weeks of clothes and sheets, adding her new nightgowns to the mix so she could wear one come morning.
As the hours passed, she paid careful attention to the subtle changes in her body. Her joints stiffened first, which she hadn’t noticed the previous morning. She could still move, but it took a lot more effort. She downed a bottle of blood, rinsed out her mouth, and changed into her new nightgown.
She walked down the hall slowly and paused once she could see Eric.
Eric turned off the T.V. and stood. “Ready for bed?” He wiggled his eyebrows.
“I’m sleeping up here today,” she said.
His shoulders sagged. “Your choice.”
“Yes, it is. See you tonight.” She turned and went to her room, locking the door behind her. There wasn’t any point to getting under the covers since she no longer felt cold or heat, so she stretched out on top of the soft comforter, wedged a pillow under her head, and waited. Fear crowded all other thoughts out of her brain. I’m safe. She repeated this mantra over and over again. After a few minutes, she couldn’t keep her eyes open.
When she woke, she knew she wasn’t alone. “The lock on the door was meant to keep you out,” she said, still unable to move her limbs. “How are you up here already?”
“That’s not an answer.”
He sighed. “With age, you gain more control over your body during sunrise and sunset. If I need to I can also move during the day.”
She sat up stiffly, like a mechanical being brought to life. “Thank you,” she said, taking the warmed bottle from him and drinking it quickly.
“I like your new nightgown,” he said, running his hand along the open neckline and tugging on the strings meant to tie in the middle.
She smacked his hand.
“We never discussed your salary for bartending,” he said.
“No, we didn’t. How much are you going to pay me?” She had made just over fifteen thousand the previous year waiting tables. A starvation wage to be sure. Bartenders pulled more than that, but not by a lot.
“How much do you want?”
Her mouth hung open in surprise. “Fifty thousand?” she squeaked.
More than double what I could make anywhere else and he says done like it’s nothing. “Okay.”
“I’ll get you set up with our accountant. You remember Bruce, don’t you?”
She laughed. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget anything about that night.”
“I’ll call him now while you get dressed, unless you want me to stay.” He smiled that beautiful smile.
She pointed at the door. “Lock it behind you.”
He stood, pushed the middle of the knob, and pulled the door closed.
She shook her head and focused on the closet of goods. As she dressed, she realized that unless she was messy or her meal happened to get fluids on her, she didn’t need to shower. No sweat, no greasy hair, no hairy legs. The night she died, everything remained exactly as it had been, which meant she would stay golden and smooth forever. Another perk of being a vampire. Even better, she could squeeze into impossibly tight dresses because she didn’t need to breathe.
So that’s what she chose: a tight black dress made of something that looked like leather, but squeaked under her fingers. She decided it would be fun to play the part.
Eric gave her a cool nod when she joined him in the kitchen. “Trying to fit in, I see.”
“Bruce will meet us at Fangtasia.”
“Will I be able to set up direct deposit into my joint account with my gran? Probably, huh? I’ll ask him.”
“You have a joint account with your grandmother?”
“She put me on her account when I turned eighteen. It’s easier, since we share everything.” She looked down. “Shared.”
“When would you like to visit her?”
Sookie frowned. “Thursday?”
Eric nodded his approval. “I’ll work it out with Pam.”
* * * *
On the way to Fangtasia Sookie asked, “Do I get nights off?”
“We’re closed Sunday and Monday.” Eric glanced at her.
“So I have tonight off?”
“Yes. But we need to meet with Bruce.”
“That’s why you asked me to come in on a Monday night, isn’t it?”
“Thalia and Clancy wouldn’t have been there, would they?”
“No,” he replied.
“Pam would’ve been able to help me, wouldn’t she?”
It was clear that he’d already considered what might’ve been, but she hadn’t until that moment. Reality hit her hard. Her stubbornness had contributed to the events leading up to her death. Monday night would’ve meant a small meeting with the three business owners, Eric, Pam, Long Shadow, and the humans who worked for them. Plus Bill and Sookie. Clancy and Thalia complicated matters. “Why did you want Bill to bring me?”
“I was curious. Long Shadow and Compton seemed close. Too close. I couldn’t rule him out in the investigation.”
“Did you suspect him?”
Eric remained focused on the road.
“Did you set me up?” she shouted.
“No.” He finally looked at her. “I hoped it was Bruce. That would’ve been easy. I didn’t want to assume that my partner was fucking me over, especially with that pathetic weasel. But when you told me it was a vampire, I had to ask everyone working to stay behind, including Thalia and Clancy.”
“And once Long Shadow bit me, Pam and Clancy both had to restrain Thalia.”
He nodded. “She’s very old and very powerful.”
“So I might not…” She couldn’t finish her sentence.
Eric parked the car outside Fangtasia and twisted in his seat to face her. “Don’t think about what might’ve happened. You can’t change the past.”
Before she could stop it, tears spilled out of her eyes.
“Hey,” he whispered, wiping her cheeks clean. “It’s not so bad, is it?”
She squeezed her eyes shut. It could be worse. I could be dead. “You’re right. It’s not so bad.”
He smiled and then gasped when she kissed him. He wound his fingers through her hair and moaned into her mouth. Unprepared, he didn’t have anything witty or annoying waiting in his brain.
“Thanks for talking to me,” she said, pulling away. “We should get inside.”
“Bruce can wait,” he said, but before he could kiss her, she put her hand against his chest.
“I’m hungry again.”
“I’m willing the share,” he offered, putting her hand against the side of his neck. “But that will get interesting.”
“How?” She cocked her head to the side.
Because I need to fuck when I’m bitten. He smiled, all too aware that he had communicated as clearly as if he’d spoken. He transmitted a very clear image of Sookie’s dress pushed up to her waist and her riding him and biting him.
She pulled her hand away, abruptly cutting the feed of her own personal porn. Lust and hunger snaked together, adding to her frustration. The worst part was that she wanted it, too. Her desires fought against the logical part of her brain that told her it wasn’t a good idea. “We need to go inside,” she repeated, more for herself than anything. And then she opened her door and got out.
Sookie waited at the door for a few seconds before Eric joined her with his keys in hand.
“Bruce is waiting for you in my office,” Eric said. He looked right at her. She knew what he wanted and wondered if he could tell she wanted the same thing.
* * * *
The night went better than Sookie expected. Because Fangtasia was closed, she only had to worry about Bruce’s thoughts, but as the night wore on, and the mountain of paperwork grew, she got better at filtering him out. Maybe I’m getting better.
When they were finally done, she escorted Bruce out of the building and nearly bumped into Eric.
A tall young man, dressed all in black, waited behind Eric. He wore dark makeup around his eyes, making them appear sunken.
“Sookie, this is Tommy. Tommy has offered to lend a hand, well, actually his whole body, for tonight’s lesson,” Eric said blandly, as if he were going to tutor them in math.
“Hi, Tommy,” Sookie whispered.
Tommy didn’t respond with words and after a few flashes of him being bound and gagged, she tuned him out.
Bruce started sweating again and was terrified that he might get roped into whatever was about to happen, so he ran to his car as fast as he could.
“Let’s retire to my office,” Eric said, leading the way down the hall. Tommy and Sookie followed.
Once they were inside, Eric said, “Please get undressed.”
“Me?” Tommy asked.
Tommy smiled and yanked his black shirt off, never breaking eye contact with Sookie.
She turned and faced Eric. “I thought this wasn’t allowed at work.”
“Fangtasia is closed. Tommy’s not going to say anything, are you?”
Tommy shook his head and unlaced his tall boots, kicking them and his socks to the side.
“He’s not police, is he?” Eric whispered.
“No.” Although he wasn’t associated with the law enforcement, an image of him handcuffed to the desk popped into her brain. Not in a you have the right to remain silent way, more like you have the right to violate me. She blanched.
Tommy unbuttoned his skin-tight black jeans and unzipped them slowly, as if he were performing a strip tease. When he peeled them off his legs he revealed a pair of bright red boxer briefs. With more confidence than one person should possess, he hooked his thumbs into the waistband.
“Stop!” Sookie screeched.
Eric smiled. “That’s enough, Tommy. Get on my desk.”
He frowned. Sookie listened for a moment and realized why he was confused. The way he saw it, Sookie should be on the bottom so he could fuck her while Eric fucked him. Now, he didn’t know what to think. Finally, he climbed onto Eric’s desk and stretched out, completely unafraid of what was going to happen next. She was reminded of her first visit to Fangtasia. Long Shadow had told her that every human who consorts with vampires wants to die. She hadn’t believed him, but it seemed to be true about Tommy. He closed his eyes and waited.
“You are already aware of the carotid artery,” Eric started, putting his fingers against Tommy’s throat. Tommy smiled and wiggled under his touch. “It runs down to his heart,” he said, sliding his hand down, “and from there it goes to either arm and down the spine.”
Tommy turned his arms to demonstrate the pulsing veins wrapped around his wiry muscles. Eric picked up Sookie’s hand and traced them. Her fangs snicked into place.
“This is the brachial artery. It’s a decent source. Can you feel his pulse?”
Sookie nodded. Her blood lust threatened to consume her at any moment.
“The artery that runs down his spine is huge, but difficult to get to…unless you plan on ripping him in half.”
Sookie cringed, but Tommy barely responded.
Eric dragged her hand down, holding it above Tommy’s swollen dick, straining against his underwear. “Blood flow increases six-fold during an erection.”
That got Tommy’s attention. He grimaced and cupped his crotch protectively.
“But this,” Eric said, guiding her fingers to his pulsing thigh, “this is my favorite: the femoral artery. You have to be a bit more intimate to reach it, but it’s worth it.” He bent his head over Tommy’s leg. “You can bite from the outside, or,” he paused and yanked Tommy off the end of the desk, positioning himself between his legs, “you can bite from here.”
Tommy gripped the sides of the desk and moaned when Eric nuzzled the inside of his leg. A tiny wet spot soaked through his underwear. His breath came out in ragged gasps.
Eric stepped back, much to the disappointment of Tommy. “Try it.”
Sookie shook her head. She wasn’t about to stick her head near some dude’s crotch.
“Try it. Please.” Eric stared at her and then pushed her between Tommy’s legs.
A hint of compliance flickered through Sookie. Still, it wasn’t strong enough to force her to do it. And then her stomach clenched and flipped. Her new instincts were much stronger than Eric’s attempts at persuasion. Tommy’s pulse filled her ears, and when she touched him, his skin burned her. She closed her eyes and bent forward. Tommy writhed under her, lifting his leg to meet her mouth. His artery pulsed against her lips begging her to taste him.
Unable to resist any longer, she opened her mouth and slid her fangs into his flesh. She swallowed quickly as a gush of blood filled her mouth. Tommy strained against her, grunting and quivering, which forced more out, quieting her hunger. The flow slowed slightly, and before Eric had to remind her, she listened to his pulse. Seventy. Sixty-two. Fifty. Forty-five. His pulse echoed inside her, living for another few brief moments. She pulled her mouth away with a loud pop and then licked the wound. Unlike her previous experience, it didn’t slow, so she punctured her tongue and then lapped at it until the skin healed. She straightened her back, noticing immediately the much larger dark spot on his underwear. She looked away.
“Get dressed,” Eric said.
“But I—” Tommy sat up and frowned.
“I said, get dressed.” Eric looked at him intensely and handed him his pants.
“Yes, master.” Tommy complied.
Sookie grimaced. Apparently, Tommy was the male version of Ginger. Gross.
“You’re going to go home. You won’t remember anything about tonight.”
“I won’t?” he asked, his voice dreamy.
“Okay.” Tommy frowned and pulled on his boots.
Sookie picked up his shirt and handed it to him as they walked out together. Eric locked the main doors behind them while Sookie walked Tommy to his car. “Are you okay to drive?”
“Thank you, Tommy.”
He nodded and smiled. He looked like he was sleepwalking.
Eric waited in the Corvette with the engine running. Sookie took her seat next to him and they drove home in silence.
Just inside the threshold of his house, Sookie asked, “Why does feeding always have to be so tied to sex?”
Eric shrugged. “It just is. Especially when they’re willing. You saw him. He came without any direct stimulation. It’s different when they’re afraid. The chemicals in their blood change. You can taste their fear. It’s better this way. I wish there had been willing donors when I was a baby.”
“That must’ve been hard. Having to hide your existence and survive.”
“It was. My Maker wasn’t so … helpful.” He nodded. “You’re flushed.”
“I’m food-drunk. You know, like after Thanksgiving or something.” She blinked slowly.
“It’s the fastest way to feed.”
“Thanks for teaching me.” No matter how irritating he could be, he was a great instructor.
“I want you to do more than just survive, I want you to thrive.” His eyes sparkled. “I want your life to be better than mine. I want you to be stronger. I want—”
She silenced him with a kiss. She wanted things too, but it didn’t involve talking. Her dress squeaked under his fingers as he lifted her off the ground. She wrapped her legs around him and deepened the kiss. She had surprised him again, and for a few seconds, his mind remained delightfully silent. The moment he started thinking, she pulled away.
“Stop thinking. You’ll ruin it again. Take me to your bedroom,” she demanded.
Read on to Petulance: Chapter 10