Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own. Short and action-packed!
Sookie exhaled loudly as she stood just inside the door at Merlotte’s. Eric put his hand on the small of her back, which did wonders for her nerves. At ten o’clock on a Thursday night, only the usual crowd occupied the bar. Except one difference, instead of JB drinking at the bar, he was behind it. With an apron tied around his waist, he filled a few glasses, loading them onto a tray. Jason, Hoyt, and Rene sat at the bar, shooting the shit, Andy was at the far end, slumped over, and a handful of booths were occupied by people Sookie had known her entire life. Everything was just how she’d left it. No one had moved an inch. No one except her. Reality smacked her right between the eyes: that could’ve been her. Having the same tired conversations with the same boring people for the rest of her dull life. Not anymore. She squared her shoulders and stepped into the room.
Sam noticed them first and made a beeline for her. He pressed his lips into a grim line and grabbed Sookie by the arm. “Stay here,” he barked at Eric. Before she could say hi to anyone, he whisked her down the hall toward his office. His hand seared her arm and his thoughts came through loud and clear. He was happy to see her and piping mad all at once.
Sookie pulled away from him and entered his office on her own. “Look, I know you’re mad, but you really think I had anything to do with this?”
“Of course you did! You associated yourself with them and look what’s happened to you!”
Her mouth hung open. “Are you kidding me?”
“No!” His voice became hysterical, like he was trying not to cry. “Why couldn’t you just mind your own business? Why did you have to go?” He wiped the edges of his eyes and sniffed.
“I wanted to find out what happened to Dawn. We both did.”
He shook his head. “Now I’ve lost you both.”
“I haven’t gone anywhere!” she shouted. “I’m just a little … different.”
“Northman is going to pay for this.”
“Pay for what?” Eric said from the door.
“I told you to wait outside,” Sam growled, his eyes flashed gold and his shoulder hunched like a cat ready to pounce.
“She’s my Progeny.”
“I know that!” Sam yelled. “You think I don’t know that? How you stole her life so you could control her and use her.”
Sam and Eric faced off, Sam breathing hard, his skin humming with energy and Eric towering over him. A low growl came from one of them.
“First of all,” Sookie started, getting between them and pushing them apart, “Eric didn’t steal my life. He saved it. Second, I’m not going to stand here while you fight over me. You guys duke it out. I’m going to talk to my brother.” The moment she stepped backward, Eric and Sam snapped back toward each other almost bumping chests.
Stupid men. She slammed the door behind her and stormed over to the bar.
“Hey Sook!” Jason greeted. “I thought that was you. Where ya been? Why’s Sam so pissed?”
She rolled her eyes. “Long story. Hey, can I talk to you for a minute? Out back?”
“Sure.” Jason frowned and pushed away from his friends. “Don’t drink my beer.”
Hoyt laughed but Rene looked at her intently. She couldn’t worry about him right then. Jason was her top priority.
When they were alone on the back porch that served as a loading dock for Merlotte’s, Jason exhaled slowly.
“So, what’s up?”
Still a little agitated from her encounter with Sam and Eric, she put a little distance between her and her brother. “I need to tell you something.” She kept her voice low since anyone visiting the bathroom would be able to hear them through the screen door.
She snorted. “When was the last time you saw me with a man?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, a couple years ago when you went on that date with JB, why?”
“Because I’d need one of those to be pregnant. Of all the girls in Bon Temps, why would you assume I’d be the one to get knocked up?”
He rubbed the back of his head and slumped against the support beam opposite her. “I don’t know. Sorry. Why don’t you just tell me this time and I’ll keep my trap shut?” He gave her a crooked smile.
“I’m just going to come right out and say it.” She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I’m a vampire.”
“No shit?” His eyes widened. “Vampire Bill have something to do with this?”
“Yeah, but not the way you think. He and his friend killed me. They both ended up dead, and here I am.” She gestured down her body.
He scooted a little closer and squinted in the dim light. “You got fangs?”
“Yeah, but they’re not out right now, thankfully,” she added in a whisper. “That guy I came in with, Eric, he’s been taking care of me. He saved me.”
He nodded as if she hadn’t just shocked him. “Have you been … okay?” He honestly didn’t know what to say to her. One little thought rattled around in his brain: holy shit.
“It’s been hard, but Eric is teaching me how to survive. He’s actually pretty great.” She smiled.
“Are you guys…?” His heart hammered in his chest.
“Together? Yeah.” Her smile grew. “Are you okay?”
“It’s a lot,” he mumbled. “Does Gran know?”
“I just told her, too. She was okay, mostly, but kind of freaked out.”
“I know the feeling!” He chuckled. “Can I tell the guys?”
She hesitated. “Maybe we should wait.”
“Okay, sure. I’ll just never talk to them again,” he joked.
“I know, but I’m not sure who would take the news well. My transition has been hard enough. I don’t need a bunch of my friends hating on me. I was worried you would be scared or something.”
“Me? No. We’re good.”
“Good,” she answered. “Thanks for being so understanding. I had to talk to you before we left. I’m living in Shreveport now.”
“Well don’t be a stranger, okay?” He smiled and then walked toward the back door. That was about as much heart-to-heart as he could handle.
She laughed and followed him inside. Sam and Eric’s argument leaked out of his office and spilled down the hall. Still at it. I should probably go break them up. She was so focused on what she was going to do next that she didn’t see what was coming.
Namely, a mop to her head.
Dazed by the blow she staggered to the wall and held on tight. Blood seeped from her forehead and spilled into her eyes. Her fangs descended. She winced when she prodded the wound, which had already started to heal.
“What the fuck, Rene?” Jason shouted and then another blow fell. The mop handle cracked and something heavy hit the ground.
“Jason?” Sookie called out. She wiped her eyes, but couldn’t see much of anything.
“Vampire scum,” Rene spat, holding the broken broom handle to her chest. The ragged tip cut through her clothes and dug into her skin, opening a new wound. His sour breath puffing against her face. His ugly thoughts overwhelmed her. What he’d done and what he was planning on doing to her. She wanted to vomit. “That’s right. Be afraid. I’m going to—”
She didn’t get to hear him say what he was going to do because in the next second, Rene was gasping for air.
“Sookie? Are you okay?” Eric asked.
A shotgun cocked next to them. “Put him down.”
Sookie wiped her face with the sleeve of her shirt and took in the scene. Eric had Rene by his neck, Rene dangling a foot off the ground. Sam blocked the hallway with a shotgun raised to his shoulder, aimed at Eric. Hoyt squatted next to Jason, who groaned on the floor behind Sam while the rest of the bar patrons stared on in disbelief.
“Calm down. Everyone, calm down.” Sookie held her hands up. “Eric, put him on the ground. He can’t breathe.”
“He doesn’t deserve to breathe, he was going to—” Eric shouted.
“I know what he was going to do. Put him down.”
“Sam has a gun on you, so why don’t you just do what I’m telling you to do.” Eric growled but eventually gave in. “Good. Now Sam, put the gun down.” She stared at him and nodded. When he finally lowered the barrel, she said, “Hoyt, call Bud. Tell him he needs to get out here to make an arrest.”
Rene tried to talk, but Eric squeezed his throat, making him wheeze.
“Don’t hurt him, Eric. He has to confess to the murders of Maudette, Dawn, and his sister.” Those disturbing images would stay with her for the rest of her undead life.
“Whores! All of them! Vamp whores!” Rene rasped.
Sam snarled and lunged toward them, jamming the barrel against Rene’s chest. Tears filled his eyes. “You fucking monster!”
“Don’t do it, Sam,” Sookie whispered, putting her hand on top of his, pushing the gun toward the ground.
“He should get what he deserves,” Sam choked out.
“He will.” She nodded. “But right now, you need to back off.” She didn’t have to tell Eric to keep his hold on Rene, so she went to check on her brother. “Where did he hit you?”
Jason squeezed his eyes shut. “The side of the head. Knocked me clean out.”
Thankfully, he wasn’t bleeding. Time would heal his injury. She sat next to him in silence for a few minutes until the wail of a police siren announced the arrival of Bud.
“I’ll talk to him,” Sam said, pushing through the crowd and into the parking lot.
“I guess I don’t have to keep your secret,” Jason whispered.
Sookie almost laughed. Leave it to her brother to find something positive about her near-death experience. “Nope. I bet half the town knows by now. I need a drink.” She stood and walked behind the bar, popped the top off a bottle of blood and downed it in two seconds flat.
Hoyt stared at her, his mouth agape.
She made the mistake of smiling, which made him flinch. She covered her mouth. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.” She tried to lick the red dye off her teeth, but knew it was a futile effort.
“Does this mean I’m out of a job?” JB asked, his shoulders slumped. “Sam asked me to fill in while you were gone.”
Of all the things that had just happened, that was what JB was most worried about. “Nope, JB, you can keep it. I bet you’re a hard worker. Sam would be crazy to let you go.”
JB grinned and held his head high.
“Where is he?” Bud boomed, as he walked into the bar, Sam close behind. “Damn it, Andy!” he said, hitting his friend’s shoulder hard enough to knock him off the stool.
Andy hit the ground hard and grunted. That’s what it took to wake him. “What’d I miss?”
Bud waved him away and shook his head.
“He’s in the hall,” Sookie said, leading the way. “Eric, this is Sheriff Bud.”
“You have the right to remain silent…” Bud started, whipping a pair of cuffs off his belt.
Rene gasped for breath and clutched at his neck the second Eric let go, and then Bud handcuffed him and read him the rest of his rights.
“Don’t nobody go nowhere,” Bud said before escorting Rene to his cruiser.
Within a few minutes, Kenya and Kevin walked inside, notebooks ready to record statements.
Sookie sat down next to her brother and waited for her turn.
Well? What do you think? After you’re done reviewing, read on! Petulance: Chapter 15