I put my hands through his long hair.
“You’re in bad need of a haircut, Eric.”
He laughed. How I loved the sound of it, as seldom as it was.
“I thought you liked my hair long.”
“When I was a rebellious teenager, I did. But now… You look like Kurt Cobain. All that’s missing is the flannel shirt.”
“I’ll let Pam knows. She’s been harassing me about getting some highlights.”
“Who does she thinks she is, Vidal Sassoon?”
He invited me to sit on the well-worn leather couch. He was so close to me that his scent invaded my nostrils.
“You still smell like the ocean in winter…”
“You know that it’s impossible, min lilla.”
“I don’t care… You do smell like the North Sea. Maybe it’s the fae in me…”
He just kept smiling.
“So… I saw the improvement you made to the farmhouse. You’ve got to tell me how much it cost so Jason and I can repay you…”
“You and your brother owe me nothing. Think of it as some sort of payment for the kindness Adele has shown both Pam and I. Your Gran is one exceptional woman. Had I met her in her younger years I might have been tempted to turn her.”
“Then we wouldn’t be sitting here having this conversation.”
The look he gave me made me weak in the knee. Good thing I was sitting.
“You are right, we would not. But back to the improvements to the farmhouse, it served another purpose; it gives me another safe house in case of emergency.”
“Safe house? But it is not light tight…”
A smirk appeared on his face.
“You haven’t found my cubby yet?”
I couldn’t believe it! A cubby?!
“You built a cubby in my Gran’s house? A cubby?”
He nodded. “Adele was the one who came up with the idea. She thought an underground cubby would be safer than to light tight one of the upstairs bedroom. Next step will be to add a state of the art security system.”
“A cubby? Where? Nothing has changed in the house…”
“Nothing has change, min lilla. The large wardrobe in the living room hides the entrance.”
He took my hands in his large ones. “You already said that, min lilla. And the improvements to the house were also for you. I wanted you to be comfortable.”
“Did you have to glamour Gran into letting you do all those improvements?” I asked, half joking, half serious.
“She wasn’t that hard to convince. I only had to glamour her into finally stopping asking me how much she owed me for all the works.”
I shook my head and smiled.
“Thank you. I really appreciate it. You’ve always been so thoughtful…”
“Just don’t let anyone find out how thoughtful I am.”
I kissed his cheek and closed my eyes. I don’t know if it’s because of our bond, but every time he touches me, every time I touch him, it’s as if the world stopped turning. Even though it had been years since our last blood exchange, it was still as strong as it was when we first made it. I was still surprised by the fact that the effects of my taking his blood were as strong after all those years. Albeit the effects were not the same as when I was a child.
During our summer in Öland, I had experienced some of the side effects of taking vampire blood. Every night I would dream of Eric. Totally innocent dreams, I mean, I was 8 years old! But with the years, those dreams took a different turn. I must have been 16 or 17 when they changed. It was no secret that I had always find him attractive, but he was my father’s client and friend, a thousand year old vampire. And he had known me since I was a child. At first, I thought it was a typical teenager ‘sex dream’. From what I had gathered from the girls at school, they all experienced it, albeit their dreams were starring famous actors, singers. Mine seemed to be totally different from theirs. Mine were featuring my Viking and they were extremely graphic. Let’s just say that these dreams didn’t really help me with the boys of my age. How could they ever compete with my Viking? My Viking who I had loved since I was a girl, who had a thousand years of experience, who, I knew, cared for me and who, unlike those stupid teenage boys, I couldn’t hear?
I opened my eyes and blushed.
“I… About the land… The one you want to buy from Sam Merlotte? We went to his bar, last night, with Gran and Jason.”
“So, what did you think of the Shifter?”
I let out a sigh.
“He’s one hell of a jerk. He thought I was a fangbanger! Said because I smell like vampire, I was automatically one.”
“Want me to go and hurt him for it?”
“No, he’s not worth it. And I outed him, sorta. Told him I knew about him being a Shifter. Do you know what the little creep likes to do? Shift into a dog and spy on one of his waitress. In fact, you might know the waitress. Her name’s Dawn, she’s a regular here.”
He seemed to try to remember her. “Yeah, I think I remember her. She offered to let me drink from her one night, but the disgusting smell of the Shifter was still on her. She then tried to make a pass at Jason.”
I laughed. Lots of women had made pass at Jason. He might not have inherited our Grandfather telepathy, but he sure had inherited the enhanced beauty of the fae and their sexual magnetism.
“So, I made him the offer and told him to call me back with an answer. Even though I told him I was working for vamps, I didn’t tell him that AIK was owned by one. And he doesn’t know for which vamp I work.”
He simply nodded.
“You didn’t tell me what you wanted to do with this land… You’ve never been interest in acquiring real estate in Bon Temps before.”
“Well, I plan on giving it to Adele. I’ve had Jason working on acquiring the old antebellum mansion across the cemetery.”
“So she may do whatever she wants with it. Who knows, maybe Jason will build himself a house on the land once he settled down… Maybe you will want to build yourself a house. And the land was once part of the Stackhouse estate, so I’m just giving it back to its rightful owner.”
There was a pregnant pause. I didn’t know what to say. Thank you seemed like it wouldn’t be enough.
“Is Gin and Tonic still your poison?”
I nodded and we left the office. A tall Native American vampire was mixing drinks behind the bar.
“Long Shadow, I’d like to introduce you to Miss Stackhouse, my lawyer.”
“Doesn’t look much like a lawyer. And I thought your lawyer was that guy who keeps attracting your leftovers.” He took a deep breath. “She does smells like you…”
“Miss Stackhouse is MINE, Long Shadow. You best remember it.”
I felt a tingle in the pit of my stomach as he acknowledges me as his.
“Miss Stackhouse will take a G&T. Have Ginger bring it to my booth.”
His private booth was located in a quiet area of the bar where he could still have a clear view of the whole floor. I lowered my shields for a second and quickly regret it. Sex was mainly what was on everybody’s mind and the mean thoughts the fangbangers had about me didn’t interest me.
“Oh, I forgot… Nan Flannigan kept calling. She wants me to make some appearance at a VRA rally. I told her I wouldn’t agree to anything until I talked to you.”
“Nan Flannigan can go fuck herself. I’ve made enough donations to the AVL so there’s no need for you to become a target of those fucking anti-vampire groups.”
“I’ll be sure to relay the message to her.”
A blond waitress, wearing several bites marks on every bit of skin exposed by her skimpy attire, brought my G&T to the table.
“Will you need anything, Master?”
“Ginger, this is Miss Stackhouse. You are to serve her with the greatest care whenever she is at Fangtasia. Have I made myself clear?”
“Of course, Master. I’ll take good care of your pet for you.”
Eric quickly grabbed her wrist.
“She is MINE, but she is NOT a pet. Have I made myself clear, Ginger?”
Fear filled the woman’s eyes as she nodded before leaving us.
“You didn’t need to be this mean, Eric.”
“I will not let anyone disrespect you, Sookie. You are not a fangbanger nor are you a pet. You are so much more…”
I smiled. This was a part of Eric that only a few lucky ones got to see. He might be the mighty Viking Vampire Sheriff of Area 5, a ruthless leader, but deep down there was this sweet being… The one who offered his blood to save the daughter of a friend, the one who spent a whole summer with a little girl, showing her the beauty of his homeland, the one who had dinner with an old woman every Sunday, the one who fixed an old farmhouse so I would be comfortable…
“I forgot to ask Jason about Godric… How is he doing?”
When Jason had joined the family business three years ago, our father had kept Eric and Pam as clients, but had given Godric to my brother. It had been the plan that when I’d graduate I would get Eric as mine, leaving my soon-to-be retired father with Pam. But a fatal car crash had changed everything.
“He’s doing great, as far as I know. But you know Godric; he’s not the most talkative vampire on Earth.”
I nodded as I sipped my G&T.
“And how’s the Queen?”
Although I had never met Sophie-Anne Leclerq, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, I had heard about her a lot since I was a child.
“Still a thoughtless bitch. She spends money that she does not have, did not help with the reconstruction of New Orleans after Katrina… She barely ever leaves her mansion and has a harem of pets at her disposal.”
“It’s good to be Queen… I’m still surprised you haven’t attempted a coup against her. I mean, you are the oldest vampire in Louisiana… And you would make a much better King.”
He smiled. “But I’m lazy…”
“Come on! Pam is lazy, you… Look at your work as Sheriff! Your area is the most profitable of all Louisiana! You bring to the queendom way more money than all four other areas and that includes New Orleans, the Mecca of Vampires!”
“Well, according to my father, I am lazy.”
“Your father said that a thousand years ago, Eric. You were human and you didn’t have all the experiences you have acquired today!”
“What was is that he said… ‘You can’t spend your whole life between a woman’s tights’. I told him I could try. I became Sheriff for one reason and one reason only, Sookie. So I wouldn’t have to answer to anybody.”
“Still, you have to answer to the Queen in some ways, right?”
His smirk grew bigger.
“You know me well enough to know I don’t give a shit about Sophie-Anne. She may be Queen of Louisiana, but that does not mean I respect her.”
We talk some more, about my leaving Boston for the backwater town of Bon Temps, about business deals he was looking into. I finished my drink and yawned.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t think I would be this tired.”
He sent a text quickly before getting up and offering me his hand.
“I’ll drop you at the farmhouse.”
“But… What about my rental? I…”
“How about you visit the car dealership tomorrow and get a new car? On me, of course.”
I was too tired to argue. We exited the bar by the employee entrance and I started walking toward his Corvette. He stopped me before handing me his leather jacket.
“You’re gonna need it.”
He put it on my shoulders, circled my waist, sending me against his chest and we were up in the air. I must have fallen asleep ’cause I woke up the next morning, fully clothed, in my tiny single bed. On the bedside table was a handwritten note.
Hope you had sweet dreams, min lilla älva.
My day man scheduled an appointment for you at the Audi dealership in Shreveport at 2PM.
Choose whatever you want, whatever the price.
Guess I was car shopping today.