“She got what?”
“Arrested! Tara got arrested! Them cops got her for DUI! “
“Wait a minute… Does she even have a car?”
“The bitch stole my fuckin’ car! Them cops are threatenin’ to charge her with Grand Theft Auto even if I ain’t pressin’ charges!”
Fucking Tara… And fucking Merlotte for not being able to stop her!
“You got to help her, Sookie! I can’t do nothin’ and she ain’t got nobody else. You is her last hope…”
I took a deep breath. Fucking Tara…
“Alright… I’ll go down by the station, but I can’t promise anything. I’ll call you as soon as I have some news.”
“Thank you, Sookie!”
I hung up and sighed. I had promised Eric to stay put, to stay away from Bon Temps… I hated breaking promises. Heading back to the bedroom I went directly to the walk-in, not daring looking at my dead for the day lover. I choose a beautiful cream silk blouse and black trouser set and matched them with a pair of black high heels booties. A quick look at the vanity mirror and I was satisfied with the results.
I knew Eric kept a gun in his bedside table and grabbed it and, after checking that it was indeed loaded, put it in my purse. I lower myself a little and softly kiss him.
“I’ll be quick, I promise.”
I met Gran by the staircase, carrying a stack of books.
“Looking fancy, my Sookie. Where are you heading?”
“To Bon Temps…”
“I thought you had promised Eric not to…”
“Tara got arrested last night for DUI and Grand Theft Auto. Lafayette called me. Don’t worry, Gran. I’m only going to the Sheriff station then I’m heading back here.”
She frowned. “I don’t like it, Sookie. You promised Eric you wouldn’t leave the house!”
“I know… And it kills me to break a promise, Gran. But I’m only going to the Sheriff department to bail Tara out then I’m back here. Okay?”
I didn’t let her answer and ran down the stairs. The drive to Bon Temps was tense. I kept looking at the rear view mirror, checking for any car that might be following me. When I parked in front of the station, next to a patrol car, I checked the content of my purse. The gun was still there – where else could it be! – Next to a can of pepper spray. I finally exited my car, careful of my surrounding, and entered the Bon Temps Sheriff Department.
Kenya Jones was standing behind the counter looking rather bored.
“Good afternoon, Deputy Jones.”
“Miss Stackhouse. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I’m here to see a client of mine. Tara Thornton. She got arrested last night for DUI and GTA. I’m here to bail her out, if of course bail as been granted.”
“Well you’re too late, Miss Stackhouse. Tara already made bail. Left earlier today.”
I frowned. “What do you mean, she made bail? Who bailed her out? I was contacted by her cousin, Lafayette Reynolds, he told me nobody could pay the money…”
“I’m not supposed to divulge this information, but seein’ as Lafayette called you to be Tara’s lawyer… Some social worker paid it. That’s all I know. In fact Kevin was the one who was here when she came. I was with Sheriff Dearborn and Andy on a call.”
“I knew I should have called in sick today… Another murder… I should have applied to the Monroe Sheriff department instead… Bon Temps ain’t as quiet as it was…”
“It must have been serious” I said, trying my best not to sound too suspicious, “if the Sheriff, his detective and a deputy were called…”
She sighed. “I guess I can tell you ’cause of what happened at your house and ’cause your brother was cleared out after bein’ questioned… There was another murder. Merlotte’s new waitress, Amy somethin’. And that’s not all, they found remains in her basement, vampire remains.”
So Amy and possibly Eddie were goners. Shit…
“Speaking of those murders, I did some research… Not that I think you don’t have the resources, but any help must be welcomed, right? So I searched some of Louisiana’s cold cases and found one in Bunkie that looks like the ones here in Bon Temps. The Sheriff Deputy to whom I spoke told me he would send you a copy of their case by fax.”
“We haven’t received it yet, but thank you, Miss Stackhouse. Andy wanted to do it, but the Sheriff thought it would be a waste of time…”
Sheriff Dearborn mustn’t think about his re-election if he was daft enough not to ask for other Louisiana’s Sheriff Departments’ help. I handed her my card and wrote down my cell phone number.
“If you see Tara or if you need more information, please call me.”
She thanked me and I left. Once I was inside my car, I locked the doors and drove toward Shreveport. When I finally reached the town’s limits I was finally able to breathe normally. I felt confident enough to turn on the radio and, by the time I was pulling in front of Eric’s house, I was singing along with it.
I scanned the house and, as expected, Gran was hiding away in the library. I went up to my room – God it was so weird to think of it as mine – put the gun back in the bedside table and settled down next to Eric. I felt him stir and ‘woke’ him with a soft kiss.
“You smell like sunshine, min alskäre… Did you pull a Pam and stole my credit card and went shopping?”
I laughed. “I went out, but don’t worry your credit card is safe and untouched.”
He swiftly moved and pinned me to the mattress, his large hands cradling my face.
“What did you do, then?” he asked before capturing my lips.
I let out a moan. “I went out…”
“You went out where?”
I did my best to distract him by letting my hands travelled down his well toned abdomen all the way to the promise land.
“To Bon Temps…”
And the magic was gone. He vamped out of the bed and started to walk across the room like a lion in a cage, a handsome six and a half feet tall blond lion.
“I thought we had agreed that you wouldn’t go back there alone!”
“I know… I only went to the Sheriff Department…”
“You said you could do your research from home, Sookie!”
“I know and I did… I just… You remember Tara, Tara Thornton? The rude African-American woman? She’s a childhood friend and she got arrested last night for DUI and Grand Theft Auto… I went down to the Sheriff station to bail her out, but apparently someone was faster than me. Then the deputy told me there had been another murder – Amy-the-would-be-drainer was found dead and they also found vampire remains. So I guess Eddie is a goner too. I promise you I was safe. I kept looking at the rear view mirror in case someone was following me, I took the gun you keep in your bedside table and I had my pepper spray can. I only went to the Sheriff station, Eric. I didn’t stop on my way and came back here as soon as I could…”
I was waiting for him to go into one of his famous rage – that I heard about, but never experienced, but he just looked at me with his big blue eyes. He looked almost hurt.
“Hey, nothing happened, Eric. I’m okay.”
I crawled to the end of the bed where he had finally stopped his lion in a cage performance and wrapped my arms around his neck. For once my eyes weren’t staring at his chest, but straight into his two endless blue pools.
“It… It kills me, Sookie that I can’t properly keep you safe…”
There was a desperation in his voice that I had never heard before.
“Don’t say that, of course you’re keeping me safe…”
“During night time, yes… But during the day? You could get in a car accident like Corbett and I wouldn’t be able to do anything for you. And that kills me, min alskäre.”
I closed my eyes and felt a single tears escape.
“I love you so much…”
“Inte lika mycket som jag älskar dig. (Not as much as I love you.)”
We stayed like this for a while until a knock on the door took us out of our bubble.
“Sookie, Eric, are you up?” asked Gran.
What she really meant was ‘are you decent’.
“Come on in, Gran, we were just talking.”
She opened the door and smiled.
“I was expecting this room to be a mess… You did tell him where you went today, right?”
“She told me, Adele… And it took me everything not to trash this place.”
“Good. It would be a shame to have to clean up such a mess. Now why don’t you go get dress, young man, and you, young lady, go put something more comfortable. Dinner will be ready in 5 minutes and I warmed a bottle for you, Eric.”
We smiled and went to the walk-in, Eric selecting his regular Fangtasia garb i.e. black tank top, dark jeans, Doc Martens and leather jacket. I followed Gran’s advice and put on a white tank top with a delicate flower on it and khaki shorts. I was undoing my French twist, letting the long blond curls fall when two strong arms wrapped around me.
“We better go down” I said, turning to face him, “unless we went Gran to come back up…”
One last kiss to my lips and he was vamping us to the kitchen.
“Eric Northman!” yelled Gran. “Not vamp speeding in the house!”
The big bad Viking Vampire Sheriff looked terrified of a little old woman! Whispering a ‘sorry’ he sat down on one of the island bar stool and sipped on his bottle of Royalty Blend. I had to fight hard not to laugh, but in the end I just slid in next to him and thanked Gran for the plate she set in front of me. There was a rather pleasant silence while we ate/drank our dinner, silence that Eric broke.
“Since the problem with the drainer and the missing vampire has been solved…”
“I wouldn’t call a woman getting murdered as a problem solved, Eric.”
“What woman murdered, Sookie?” asked Gran. “Not another one… Do I know her?”
I shook my head. “No, she was a new waitress at Merlotte’s. She was also a V addict and a drainer. According to what I was able to gather she kidnapped a loner vampire named Eddie.”
“Poor girl… And poor vampire! Did you know him, Eric?”
“Not really. He was a rather young one. He was, as Sookie said, a loner. Didn’t belong to a nest and didn’t really associate with anybody.”
“Well, it’s a shame…”
“As I was saying” continued Eric, “we still have to deal with Mr. Reynolds.”
“Lafayette? What did that boy got into?”
We told her all about Lafayette’s mother, his money problems, his arrangement with Eddie – although we skipped the whole sexual favours in exchange for the blood, his dealing drugs.
“Because of his friendship with Sookie, he will not suffer the… regular sentence for dealing V. But as a Sheriff I can’t let it go unpunished.”
Gran took a deep breath. “What this boy needs is a good Come-to-Jesus.”
At Eric’s frowning expression she explained.
“He needs to be scared! Scared enough not to do it anymore. That boy is a good one, Eric… But sometimes people are desperate. I’m pretty sure you have seen your lot of desperate people over the centuries and I gotta say your club is full of them…”
“Alright Adele” he said, putting his empty bottle in the recycling bin. “I’ll talk with Pam about the best ‘Come-to-Jesus’ for Mr. Reynolds.”
He kissed her on the cheek before moving to me and planting the mother of all kisses on my waiting lips.
“Have a nice evening, min alskäre. I’ll see you later.”
I was still blushing, an hour later when Jason rang the doorbell. We settled in the comfortable living room, the moonlight filtering through the large windows. I told him about Arlene’s engagement party and the killer’s thoughts.
“Stay away from Bon Temps, Sook. At least until they catch the killer. I wouldn’t want my little sister to get hurt. And I wouldn’t to be near Eric if you got hurt!”
I promised not to go back alone and it seems like it’s enough for him.
“You too, Gran. You’re safer here with Eric, even if he’s dead for the day!”
Gran is the one to tell him about Amy’s death before asking him about the tribunal.
“Pam called me before she went to rest last night. I’m glad I left before the sentence or I would have stake the Magister! Poor girl! Stuck with Compton as a maker and she never asked for it.”
“Poor little girl” sighed Gran. “If I had that Magister in front of me I would give him a trashing that he would remember for the rest of his undead life!”
Both my brother and I smiled picturing our Gran beating up the Magister. Not that we couldn’t imagine her doing it, no, the woman was a real spitfire even at nearly 80 years old.
“Now to the reason of my coming here” started Jason. “I’ve been summoned to Dallas by Godric. I leave in two days.”
“And when do you plan to return, my boy?”
Something changed in my brother and I tried hard to keep my shields up. I could feel he didn’t want me to peek and I respected his privacy.
“I don’t know, Gran. It might be a day, a week or a month… I promise to call you or if I can’t I’ll have Godric call you.”
“That boy better not make you work to death!”
I laughed, yeah, Gran calling a two thousand years old vampire a boy!
Jason finally said his goodbye just after midnight, promising to drop by before leaving for Texas. Gran and I were getting ready to call it a night when the front door opened announcing Eric’s return from Fangtasia.
“Wow! You must be pretty loaded” said a very female voice that didn’t belong to Pam.
We made our way to the foyer and gasped at the young redhead woman standing next to Eric.
“Who’s the blond Barbie and the old crone? My dinner?”
“Jessica! Behave!” snapped Eric.
So this was Bill’s new progeny. What the hell was she doing with Eric?
“Eric, darling, who’s this young lady?” asked Gran, ever the polite Southern hostess.
“Adele, Sookie, this is Jessica. She’s going to stay with us for a while. Jessica, this nice woman is Adele Stackhouse and this is her granddaughter, Sookie. You will show them respect and you will NOT bite them, you hear me?”
“Whatever! I’m a vampire, I can do whatever I want. And if I want to bite Malibu Barbie, then I WILL!”
She vamped in front of me and took a deep breath before Eric grabbed her by the arm.
“My house, my rules! For as bad as he is, your maker did command you to obey me. You will under no circumstance feed off humans! Especially Adele and Sookie.”
“Why can’t I? I’m a vampire and you are not my father, you can’t tell me what to do!”
He sighed. “Thank your Christian God I’m not your father…”
“That’s not fair! That bottle shit is awful!”
“Watch your language, young lady!” said Gran with authority. “If I hear you swear I will take my soap and watch your dirty mouth with it!”
The young baby-vamp bit her lower lips and her eyes quickly filled with bloody tears.
“I’m starving!” moaned the redhead. “You’re just as bad as my maker!”
“We won’t let you starve, Jessica” I said. “What Eric’s trying to explain to you is that you will need to learn to control yourself. We wouldn’t want you to drain somebody, right?”
“Sookie is right, Jessica. You will need to learn to restrain yourself. I have several bags of blood that should sustain you tonight. I’ll have more delivered later and when you’ll have more control we will get you a donor and you will learn to feed properly.”
“Why don’t you come with me, Jessica” said Gran. “I will warm you some blood then you’ll take a long bath or a shower if you prefer and we’ll settle you for the day.”
“Will I have to sleep in the dirt again?” she asked, sounding like a little girl.
Gran laughed, showing her to the kitchen.
“Of course not, you silly goose! You’ll have your own light tight bedroom.”
I turned toward Eric who looked quite tired.
“Care to explain?” I asked.
He sighed. “What is there to explain? Compton came down tonight and dropped her off on me! Apparently he can’t deal with her and do his job as an investigator for the Area.”
“So what, he dropped her off at the Sheriff’s doorstep like she’s a litter of unwanted kitten? Not even a day after he made her? He’s her maker, not you! She’s his punishment, not yours!”
I whispered the last part.
“You think I don’t know? You think I want to be stuck with a baby-vamp so soon after I finished ‘raising’ Pam? I was looking forward to the next couple of decades where I was going to do my duty as Sheriff and enjoy your marvelous body whenever I want, Sookie. But what else could I do? She’s a newborn whose maker doesn’t give a shit. If I didn’t agree to take her in she’d be dead in a matter of months, if not weeks.”
I simply smiled.
“What? It’s not funny, Sookie!”
“I’m not laughing at you, Eric. You’re a good man, you know. Only a good man would agree to take in a stray vampire and ‘raise’ her. There’s a goodness in you that shine so much, even though you try very hard to hide it under your ruthlessness. It’s one of the many reasons why I love you.”
His arms circled my waist and his chin rested on top of my head.
“Will you help me? Can you do that, min alskäre? Can you help me take care of a baby-vamp?”
I nodded. “I’ll always be by your side, Eric. Always.”
We stayed like this for a while and that’s how Gran and Jessica found us. The young girl was looking at the ground, shamefully.
“I… I want to apologize” she said. “For the way I acted. I’m sorry.”
Eric looked confused but one look at Gran and he understood.
“No need to apologize, Jessica. Did you feed?”
“Alright then. We will show you to your room and tomorrow Pam will take you shopping.”
“I’ll even come with you if you want” I said. “You might need my help, Pam is a monster when she’s shopping! Just ask Eric’s credit card! ”
“Thank you, Sookie.”
“How about I lend you something to sleep in… Come with me.”
I squeezed Eric’s hand and took Jessica upstairs to our bedroom. Just like me when I first set foot in this house, she was in awe.
“Pretty impressive, right?”
The baby-vamp who had, a couple of minutes ago, been petulant and rude was suddenly quiet.
“Eric had this house built for me… Honestly I would have been more than okay with a simple cottage, but he has a certain standing and the money for it.”
I grabbed a simple lavender pajamas set and handed it to the redhead before showing her to one of the guest room.
“Are you like Eric’s wife or…”
“No, human-vampire marriages aren’t legal yet in Louisiana. I’m his lawyer, but you could say I’m also his girlfriend.”
Girlfriend was better than lover.
“That’s why he didn’t want me to bite you, then.”
“Yes and no. Yes, because I’m his. I’m not going to explain everything tonight, I’m pretty sure you had quite a night, but by claiming me, it means that no other vampire can taste me. And no, because even if I wasn’t his, you aren’t ready to feed directly from the source, if you allow me this expression.”
“Oh… So, since Eric is like my adoptive maker… Does this make you like my stepmother?”
I laughed. “Think of me more like an older sister, if you want. Now, go take a bath, sweetie. The bathroom should be fully stocked. Then go to bed.”
“But the windows… Won’t the sun hurt me…”
“The shudders will close automatically, don’t worry. You are safe here.”
Eric slipped behind me, letting his hand rest on my shoulder.
“Everything’s under control?”
Both Jessica and I nodded. And out of nowhere, the young girl hugged Eric, whispering a soft thank you before closing the door. Gran was standing next to her bedroom door, wiping away a stray tear.
“That poor little girl didn’t have an easy life… And if we don’t take really good care of her, then her future will be quite bleak. Goodnight, my dears.”
We both nodded and went to our own bedroom in silence. After a quick shower we settled on the bed, my head resting on his unmoving chest. Our love making that night was slow and tender and quiet. We didn’t need words, we had each other and that’s all that mattered.