The drive back to Shreveport was uneventful in comparison to my night at Merlotte’s. I did my best to stay calm since I didn’t want Eric to feel the maelstrom of emotions inhabiting me. I made it back home first and, after making sure Gran was alright, decided to take a quick shower.
After a trip to the walk-in to grab a red silky slip, I entered the shower and let the hot water wash away the remnant of the evening. I felt dirty, soiled by the discoveries I made. I was reaching for the bottle of body wash when I felt a presence behind me. Before I knew it, two big hands were cupping my breast and soft lips were kissing my nape.
“Eric! One of these days you’re going to give me a heart attack!”
He didn’t answer, only turned me toward him and crashed his lips against my own. For the first time this evening, I felt safe. Safe in the comfort of my Viking’s arms, being cherished and loved.
What I had intended as a 5 minutes shower ended up being a rather long one. The whole bathroom was filled with steam when we finally exited. Even with the lust overflowing our bond, I could feel the mix of emotions in Eric. According to his text I wasn’t the only one with lots of explaining to do. We both got dressed, me in my red slip, him in a pair of black Armani boxer briefs – a gift from Pam I bet, and settled on the bed.
“I missed you… I know you haven’t been gone long, but I missed you.”
His huge hands cradled my face and in his eyes I could see the depth of his love for me. I knew he had never said it, but my Viking was a man of few words.
“So did I, min alskäre. Now I think you had some information for me.”
I first told him about this Royce guy and his involvement in the demise of the Disco Triplets. And just like that I had sealed somebody’s fate. I knew there was no way Eric would let him live and there was no way he would simply hand him to human authorities. While Vampire hate crimes were taken seriously by the authorities and prosecuted in the North it was a totally different thing in the South. The sentences were basically a joke. But if it had been three humans that Royce had killed, here in the South he would have gotten the death penalty.
“You know what will happen to him, right?”
I nodded. “He’s a murderer, Eric. He needs to be punished.”
“And you do realize what this punishment will be?”
” Good. Was there something else?”
I bit my lips. “Yes… You have a vampire in the area named Eddie Gauthier, I think.”
He frowned. “I think so. He’s a young one if I’m not wrong. I’ll have to check with Pam. Why?”
“Well… He had an arrangement. From what I gathered, in exchange of sexual favours, Eddie sold his blood to Lafayette who, it turns out, is a small time drug dealer. But he’s not a drainer! He never drained a vampire, of that I’m sure. It’s just that, his mother needs medical care, expensive medical care… She has mental problem and working the road crew and Merlotte’s is not enough to pay for all the expenses.”
“So Mr. Reynolds has a deal with a vampire for V? Why are you telling me this, min alskäre? I thought he was your friend. You do know that as Sheriff…”
“I’m telling you because Eddie Gauthier has gone missing. I’ve known for a little while that Lafayette had an agreement with him… I know I should have told you earlier, but they weren’t hurting anybody. Well, what I mean is that Lafayette wasn’t draining him. Eddie gave his blood willingly. But now he’s gone missing and Lafayette thinks that Amy had something to do with it.”
“Amy? Who’s Amy?”
I took a deep breath. “She’s the new waitress at Merlotte’s. Jason met her the other night at Fangtasia. He thought she was trying to score V or any other type of drug. According to Lafayette’s thoughts she’s a V user. She… She was at the party tonight and was hoping Jason would be there so they could have ‘epic sex’ with the stuff she has at home.”
I looked down, not daring to look him in the eyes. I realized that if I had told earlier it would have saved a lot of trouble.
“You had quite the evening” he finally said.
“That’s not all… I heard… The killer was at the party.”
“What?! Did he attack you? Tell me, Sookie!”
I could feel his rage through the bond, but I could always feel his love for me and the guilt he felt at not being able to completely keep me safe.
“No, I just heard him. I don’t know who he is. I… I soon made my excuses and left, but I heard him and… I saw… I saw his memories… His memories of killing Maudette, Dawn… and another woman. He killed before them, Eric. Dawn and Maudette weren’t his first victims… And apparently they won’t be his last. I think I’m next, Eric. And if I’m not then another girl will be.”
I was quickly engulfed in his strong embrace. I let the tears I fought so hard roll down my cheeks.
“I’ll keep you safe, min alskäre. I’ll meet the True Death before I let anyone hurt you.”
His lips brushed my own in a soft reassuring kiss. I don’t know how long we stayed like this, but after a while the tears finally dried.
“What are we going to do, Eric? We have to do something! We can’t let this… this monster get off! He’ll kill again…”
“I know, but we have to keep you safe, min alskäre. You can’t go back to Bon Temps alone. I won’t allow it!”
Normally I would totally go nuts by his ultimatum. I was an independent woman, no one, not even Eric could dictate my action. But his love was overflowing the bond, nearly drowning me. I knew that in no way he was trying to undermine me, to control me. He was only trying to keep me safe.
“I won’t” I said. “But…”
“Please! He already killed someone before and got away with it. It’s probably a cold case… With today’s technologies I can search it without even leaving this house. I promise to stay put, you can even assign me guards to keep me safe…”
“I don’t want you to be a prisoner in my house, min alskäre.”
I smiled. “I don’t feel like a prisoner, Eric. Although we can play jailer and prisoner if you want.”
A ghost of a smile appeared on his handsome face.
“But you do understand why I have to pursue this, why I have to find him?”
“I know, min alskäre. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be the woman I love so much.”
His declaration filled me with joy. I swiftly kissed him, pressing myself against his chiseled body. Feeling adventurous, my handsneaked inside his boxer briefs, stroking his length. My ministrations were rewarded by a long moan coming from my lover’s throat.
“You better stop now, lover, or it will be over before long…”
“Good thing you’re a vampire, darling. I hear that you have quite the stamina…”
With a groan he flipped us up, pinning me to the mattress and entering me in one long velvet glide. In that one moment, I swear I could have died and never regret anything. I came so hard that I bite into Eric’s shoulder. I bite so hard that I drew blood. The instant his blood hit my tongue I felt as if I was surrounded by extreme heat. The feeling was so intense that I didn’t even realize that his fangs had pierced my own shoulder.
It took me a while to get my breathing back to normal. We simply lay there, a mess of tangled limbs, my sweaty body glued to his own.
“You didn’t tell me about the Tribunal…”
Another groan, an annoyed one, escaped his lips.
“I guess we’ll be out of a neighbor for the next five years? Five years in silver is the sentence for such a crime, right?”
“Normally yes… But in this case, the Magister choose another punishment.”
“The True Death?” I asked.
He shook his head. “No… Once the Magister learned that you were the one Long Shadow attacked, he decided on a… peculiar sentence for Compton.”
“Since Compton decreased our number and seeing as he didn’t have a nest and had never made any progeny, he decidedthat his punishment should be to become a Maker.”
I nearly burst in laughter at it, but Eric’s seriousness worried me.
“So what, they brought in a guy who wanted to be turn and Compton is now responsible of him? Eric…”
“Compton’s new Childe… It was a forced turn, min alskäre. Both Compton and his new Childe were quite reluctant.”
And that’s when he told me. About this poor young girl, begging for her life and the Magister literally laughing in her face.
“Shit… It’s my fault! All of this, it’s all my fault!”
“Calm down, min alskäre!”
“No! Eric you don’t understand! It’s my fault! I’m responsible for this poor girl’s fate! Fuck… It’s my fault and now she’s stuck with the world worst maker!”
He let out a laugh and I slapped him on the chest.
“Don’t you dare laugh! Compton might have drained her of her life, but the way I see it I did that to her…”
“Hush, my lover. I only laugh because I thought the exact same thing. That Compton would be the world worst maker.”
He circled me with his arms and softly rocked me.
“I want you to banish all that guilt. You are in no way responsible for young Jessica’s fate. If we have to put the blame on someone, then let’s put it on both the Magister and Compton. It’s not your fault, min alskäre.”
Easier said than done. I could only imagine how that poor girl would feel, once she rises the next evening. If only… If only I hadn’t outed Long Shadow out loud… If only Compton had let Eric deal with it instead of acting impulsively… If only… So many ‘if only’…
“You are awfully quiet, min alskäre.”
“I’m just thinking” I whispered, settling my head on his broad chest.
“A woman thinking, what a dangerous thing!”
I playfully elbowed him before his lips captured mine.
“What are we going to do, Eric? I mean, about this Royce, Lafayette, Amy, Eddie and the killer?”
“How about you sleep for the meantime, lover. What’s that famous saying? The one from that book Adele loves so much? ‘Tomorrow is another day?’ ”
“I would normally be laughing at the Great Eric Northman quoting Gone With The Wind, but we can’t wait ’till tomorrow night, Eric! We have to act quickly…”
“Dawn will soon come, lover. Sleep, then tomorrow you can start looking through those cold cases. When I rise tomorrow we’ll decide on how to act and I’ll make arrangements with Pam about Gauthier’s disappearance and Malcolm, Diane and Liam’s killer.”
He sighed. “I’m still unsure about what to do with Mr. Reynolds.”
“Please don’t have him killed! I’m not one to beg, but please… He wasn’t hurting anybody, well not really… He just needed money and…”
“Sleep, min alskäre. We’ll come up with something tomorrow.”
He kissed me one last time and with a smile on my lips I finally let myself fall into Morpheus’ arms. When I woke up, nestled in my Viking’s embrace, the feeling of guilt that had inhabited me the previous evening had almost completely left me. I still felt guilty for poor Jessica’s fate, I don’t think I’d ever be able to get over this guilt, but I now had a mission: I had to find out the identity of the fangbangers’ killer and bring him to justice. I reluctantly left Eric’s side and got ready for my day. Gran was in the kitchen, setting the table.
“You sure look in a better mood, my dear. Eric’s back?”
“Come sit and eat something.”
After a full breakfast I headed to the home office and started looking through the Internet for unsolved murders. From what I had gathered from the killer’s thoughts he had a specific Modus Operandi. There were no traces of breaking and entering, sothe victims had either known him and let him in or he had access to their residence. They had both been strangled and both had carried fangs marks. My search lead to several unsolved cases, one in New Orleans, one in Bâton Rouge, one in Bunkie and one in Alexandria. I quickly dismissed the one in NOLA and BR. The victims were both males and the one in Alexandria was an elderly woman.
The one in Bunkie… Even before seeing her picture in the Bunkie Record Newspaper’s article, I knew Cindy Marshall had been the killer’s first victim. She had been found strangled in her home, with bite marks on her neck. Her brother, Drew Marshall, had suspiciously gone missing the same day and was wanted for questioning. From what I knew, there was no Drew Marshall in Bon Temps, but he could have changed his name, take a new identity.
I made a quick call to the Bunkie Sheriff department. After quickly explaining the situation in Bon Temps, how the two murders here were strangely similar to Cindy Marshall’s, it didn’t take a lot to convince the detective to whom I spoke that they were connected. He promised to fax the files regarding the case and a photo of Dew Marshall to Detective Bellefleur – I still didn’t trust Sheriff Dearborn to be objective on this case.
I let out a sigh once I hung up the phone. One thing to cross off the list. Now I had to wait for Eric to rise in order to deal with the others. The fates of Royce, Amy and Eddie Gauthier didn’t really bother me. Royce was a murderer, Amy a V addict and probably a kidnapper and Eddie, by his own actions, was responsible for his situation. But Lafayette? I liked him, I could even say that he was my friend. I knew Eric was a fair but firm Sheriff. V dealing had become quite an epidemic since the Great Revelation. At first, human authorities had made examples of V dealers by giving them long jail sentences. But two years later, they barely received more than a slap on the wrist. Oh, the AVL – the American Vampire League – was still lobbying for longer sentences and harsher punishments, but most of the time Area Sheriffs were the one left to deal with them. And since a majority of Vampires considered V dealing as being a blood offence, most dealers were found dead soon after being apprehended.
The sound of my phone ringing brought me back to reality. Checking the caller ID I smiled.
“Hey Lafayette! I was actually thinking about you… What? She got what?”