Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own. Short and plot-filled.
Even though Sookie wanted to talk to Eric more than anything, she knew they would have to wait until they got to Eric’s house. As soon as the front door shut behind them, she opened her mouth to talk, but he covered it.
“Is there anyone around?” he whispered.
He had never been so cautious in his house and his anxiety put her on edge. She concentrated on the various brains in the neighborhood. “Just the usual. Humans. No vamps. What did he say to you?”
“The queen has requested an audience.”
“She sent him to spy on us. How do they even know about me?”
“It’s protocol. When a human is turned, their Maker must alert the Sheriff, and the Sheriff must tell the ruling body.”
“So when I died, you told the queen about me?” she asked trying to wrap her brain around what she’d picked up from Andre.
“I told her about Compton and Long Shadow’s fight to the death and turning you.”
“That’s not what I mean. Who was that guy, anyway? He gave me the creeps.”
“Andre is Sophie-Anne’s closest ally. What did you hear?”
“He thinks you’re lying about Long Shadow and Bill and that you turned me to keep me for yourself.” She narrowed her eyes. “He also didn’t think I looked special. Does he know about my telepathy? Was Bill working for her, too?”
Eric shrugged. “Yes, as her procurer.”
“He said Bill had never made contact. What does that mean? Was Bill hired by the queen to procure me?”
“Apparently so. I wonder how much they know.”
“She has a source. Someone who said something about me. What was she going to do with me?” she asked.
“We’ll never know.”
“Am I safe now?” Her eyes widened at the thought of leaving Eric and being forced to live with Andre.
“We’re bonded. No one can take my progeny.” He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against his chest.
She relaxed into his arms and sighed; satisfied for once that Eric had claimed her. “Do you think Bill lied about me to the queen? Do you think she knew about his plan to rent me out? Was that her plan?” She shuddered.
“I’m not sure. I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.”
* * * *
As Sookie got ready for her day rest, her stomach churned. Not only did she have to meet the queen of Louisiana, but she would also be going home that night. Thursday had crept up on her. She had to face the reality that seeing Gran might be an emotional experience. Emotions were dangerous. Anxiety burrowed deep inside of her and made it more challenging than usual to find her happy place before sleeping.
Sensing her worry, Eric held her tightly and said, “It’s going to be okay.” It had become his standard statement of comfort, and even though he couldn’t force her to calm down, knowing he would be right there with her had the same effect. The fear and worry eased out of her mind as she slipped into unconsciousness.
As they were preparing to leave for Bon Temps that night, Eric said, “If you feel yourself slipping, wait outside and let me handle it. Don’t worry about tomorrow. One night at a time.”
She nodded and drank two more bottles of blood. She didn’t want to be hungry for her family reunion.
They drove in silence until he turned down Hummingbird Lane.
“Am I making a mistake?” she whispered, peering through the windshield at the familiar forest that surrounded the house she’d been raised in.
“No. She deserves to know the truth.”
Sookie took a deep, unnecessary breath in an attempt to calm her nerves. It didn’t work. Her legs quivered as she walked up the front steps. She knocked.
After a few seconds, Gran opened the door already in her nightgown, ready for bed. A smile crinkled the edges of her eyes. “Sookie, honey!” She opened her arms but when Sookie tried to hug her, something stopped her.
Sookie pushed against the invisible barrier, but it was stronger than she was.
“Good evening, Mrs. Stackhouse. My name is Eric Northman,” he said. “Would you please invite us in?”
“Of course! Come in.” Just like that, the barrier disappeared. “What’s going on, honey?” Gran reached out to touch her arm and recoiled. “You’re so cold.”
“Why don’t we go inside to talk?” Eric suggested.
Sookie nodded and followed Gran into the living room, wincing when the overhead light came on.
“I know you’ve been working and all that, but I’ve been worried about you. You sounded … off the other night.” Gran sat across from her on the couch. “Can I get you something to eat?”
“God, no,” Sookie mumbled.
“Mrs. Stackhouse, there’s something you need to know, and there’s not easy way to tell you.” Eric folded himself into one of the squishy armchairs off to the side.
Gran looked at her granddaughter solemnly. “You’re pregnant.”
Sookie burst out laughing. If only it were that easy. “No.” She shook her head. “It all started a little over a week ago. Remember when Bill came to pick me up?”
“My other job, for my friend Eric,” she said, motioning to him.
“Oh!” Gran smiled. “I wondered how you fit into all this. So you hired Sookie to help you out?”
“Yes, but things didn’t go as planned,” he said.
“Someone was stealing from Eric, a lot. So I interviewed his employees to find out who it was.” Sookie twisted her hands in her lap. “It turned out to be one of his partners … and Bill.”
“What?” Gran’s mouth hung open.
“Yeah, that surprised me, too. Anyway, there was a fight between Bill and this other guy, and I was in the middle of it.”
“Oh honey, were you hurt?”
She nodded. “Yes, fatally.”
Gran frowned and turned her head. “I don’t…”
“If Eric hadn’t saved me, I would be dead.”
Sookie glanced at her gran and then down at her lap. “I’m a vampire,” she whispered.
The big clock on the wall ticked as the seconds passed and then Gran finally spoke. “I see.”
Sookie had been doing her best to stay out of her gran’s head, but at that moment, she couldn’t help herself. Fragments of thoughts swirled around as Gran put the pieces together. “Please don’t be mad.”
“Oh, honey, I’m not mad.” Gran smiled. “I’m sorry that happened, but I sure am glad you’re still here.”
Sookie smiled and sniffed. “Me, too.”
“Does your brother know?”
She shook her head again. “You’re the first person I’ve told.” It was technically true. Sam already knew about her, but she hadn’t told him and she didn’t figure he’d told anyone else, either. “I’ve been laying low in Shreveport, trying to figure things out.”
“With Eric?” Gran asked, looking him up and down.
“Yes. He’s helped me with the transition. I’d be lost without him.”
Eric smiled. It was the most recognition she had ever given him. He cleared his throat. “I’m sure you have a lot to catch up on. I’ll give you some privacy and wait outside. Unless you need me to stay?” He gave Sookie a meaningful glance.
She smiled. “I’m fine. Thanks.”
Eric bowed and stepped outside, closing the door behind him.
“So how have you been?” Sookie asked once they were alone.
“Same old, same old.” Gran shrugged. “Trying to keep up this old place and stay abreast of gossip. Everyone’s been talking about you and Vampire Bill.” Her frown returned. “What happened to him, anyway?”
She swallowed down the memories of his gruesome demise. “He died.”
“I wondered why I hadn’t seen him around.”
“It was really terrible.”
“I’m so sorry, honey,” Gran said. “And Eric is your new beau?”
“Bill was never my beau. He was only interested in using me. I found that out the hard way.”
“Eric isn’t using you?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.
“No. He’s … different. He cares about me. He’s teaching me how to survive, how to control myself, how to be happy. It hasn’t been easy.”
“And you’re living together,” Gran asked, her mouth set in a firm line.
“Yes. It’s not safe for me to be away from him.”
“Would you just tell me what’s going on with you two? Are you dating or not?” she asked finally.
“We’re together.” Sookie looked at her lap again, relieved she couldn’t blush. “I know it must seem sudden, but I’m happy with him. I’ve never felt this way before.”
“I guess there’s not a lot I can do at this point.” She sighed. “Are you in love with him?”
Sookie’s eyes met Gran’s and then she stared at her lap. She didn’t know how to answer that question. “He’s wonderful. You’ll see. We’ll visit a lot.”
“Visit?” Gran’s eyes filled with tears as the reality of the situation confronted her.
“I can’t stay here. As much as I want to be here for you, it’s not a good idea. There’s still so much for me to learn and I would be afraid of hurting you. Not on purpose,” she added quickly. “It’s all so new.”
Gran wiped her cheeks. “I knew this day would come. I just didn’t expect … this.”
“I know. I didn’t either.” She didn’t talk about the things she had anticipated in her life: marriage, children, living to old age, and eventually dying. None of that would happen now. Not in the same way, anyway.
“I really am glad you’re okay,” Gran whispered.
“I’m glad you’re okay with me,” Sookie countered. “I was so afraid you would be mad.”
“How could I ever be mad at you?” Gran reached out and hugged her then, her tears dripping onto Sookie’s shoulder. When they parted, Gran’s age showed.
“It’s late,” Sookie said. “We should go.”
Gran nodded. “I’m wiped out. You’re coming back, right?”
“As often as I can,” she replied. After one more hug, she stood and walked out of the room, stopping in the doorway. “Thank you, Gran. I love you.”
“I love you too, honey.”
Sookie closed the front door and joined Eric on the front porch. “She had a lot of questions.”
“I’m sure she did.” He leaned back in the chair and laced his fingers behind his head.
“Mostly about you.”
He smiled. “Really?”
“Yep. My gran is old-fashioned, so me moving in with you didn’t sit too well with her.”
He laughed and said, “Are you ready to go?”
Sookie nodded. “She’s pretty worn out. It was a lot to take in. I’d like to come back and help her around the house every now and then. I’d also like to take my car.” She walked over to the beat up yellow car parked near the side of the house. “That way I can come whenever I want to.”
“I don’t like the idea of you traveling alone.”
She sighed. She knew he wouldn’t let her go anywhere without him, but she didn’t have to be complacent about it. “Fine. But I’d like to drive some of the time.”
“We can discuss this later.”
Sookie dug in. “I’m not leaving without my car.”
She stared at him. “Eric?”
“Has anyone ever told you that you’re stubborn?”
“Yep.” She opened her door and got into her car. “Before we leave town, I’d like to stop by Merlotte’s.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“How bad could it be?” She joked before turning the key in the ignition. If she had known the answer to that question, she would’ve gone back to Shreveport that second.
More plot ready and waiting! Petulance: Chapter 14