“Let me make something clear, Compton: Sookie is MINE!”
I shivered at the sound of Eric’s angry voice.
“Yours? She smells like you, but not enough for you to have given her your blood…”
Eric’s grip tightened around Compton’s neck. I was nearly afraid he would rip his head off. Not that it would cause me great pain, but to clean that type of mess?
“Next time you’re close enough, Compton, take a good sniff. My blood is in her. It has been for years.”
“That doesn’t make your claim on her…”
“On second thought, don’t come close her, Compton. How long has it been since you entered my area?”
“I’ve arrived yesterday, why?”
“Yesterday… And you still haven’t reported to the Sheriff? I would have thought that after years spent in Sophie-Anne’s courtyou would be aware of simple protocol. I should throw you out of my Area.”
The dark haired vampire smirked.
“I was sent by the Queen, Northman! I’m the new Investigator for Area 5.”
An even bigger smirk appeared on Eric’s face.
“Then it makes it even easier. I’ll be able to keep a closer look on you. I expect you tomorrow night at Fangtasia, Mr. Investigator.”
He let go of his hold on Compton, sending him down the steps.
“Compton… My warning about Sookie still stands. Stay away from her.”
“And what if she’s the one who can’t stay away from me?”
The arrogance of that man! Eric simply smiled.
“You are overestimating yourself, Compton. You are not Sookie’s type.”
“Is the great Viking having feelings for an insignificant human?”
“Sookie Stackhouse is a lot of thing, but insignificant? No.”
Compton let out a snort before zipping at vamp speed to his decrepit house. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was exhilarating to have someone protect me like this. I knew what a big deal it was for Eric to so openly admit he had feelings for me. But then, he didn’t really admit it, more like an admission by omission.
“The coast is clear, min älskling” he said. “You can come out.”
I went out on the porch, biting my lower lips, not sure about what was going to happen.
“You heard everything?”
I nodded, not trusting my own voice. He took my hand and we sat on the swing. When I looked into his eyes I saw the same kindness, the same care he had shown me all those years ago when he had saved me from death.
“I made a promise to your father, my dear friend, when he entrusted you to me. That I would treat you like the precious treasure you were. I will never back down on that promise, min älskling. Even if, by doing so, I have to meet my True Death.”
“Don’t! Don’t you dare say such a thing! I would rather drive a stake to my own heart if you were to truly die because of me.”
His big hand softly stroked the side of my face and he softly pressed a kiss to my forehead. But that wasn’t what I wanted, what I needed. I grabbed the back of his head and attacked his lips in a very aggressive way. At first he tried to resist me, but Iguess lust got over him as his fangs came down and he finally responded to my kiss.
My first kiss. And it was to my Viking. I switch position, lying down on the swing, but he quickly released my lips.
“No… I don’t want you to do anything you would regret later.”
I smiled shyly, caressing his long blond hair.
“I could never regret this…”
His blue eyes were filled with something I had only seen when he was experiencing bloodlust.
“Det kommer att finnas en tid och en plats för dig att bli min älskare.” (There will be a time and a place for you to become my lover.)
He kissed me one last time.
“We’ll talk more tomorrow night.”
He vamped to Jason’s car and in a matter of seconds he was gone. He was gone and I was now alone. Alone to ponder onwhat had happened. What had gotten into me? How could I risk throwing more than 20 years of friendship?
I barely slept that night. The taste of Eric’s lips was still lingering on mines and the long list of what ifs was making it impossible for me to find solace in Morpheus’ arms.
I woke up to a soft knock on my bedroom’s door. Slowly opening my eyes I smiled at Gran, a steamy cup of coffee in her hand.
“Long night, sweetie?”
I nodded, still half asleep. She sat next to me and stroked my hair while I sipped my coffee.
“Wanna talk about it?”
Did I really want to talk about it? And with my Gran, of all people?
“I don’t know, Gran… I… I don’t…”
“Who’s causing your tears, my Sookie? Not Eric, I hope.”
“No… Yes… No, they’re my own fault. I… I think I…”
She looked in my eyes and kissed my forehead.
“You think you love him, don’t you?”
How could she read me so well? Wasn’t I supposed to be the telepath in this family?
“I think I do… But he can’t love me! Care about me, yeah. But truly love me? How could he? I’ll forever be Corbett’s daughter for him. He may lust after me, that wouldn’t surprise me knowing him, but love…”
“I think you underestimate Eric, sweetie. Why couldn’t he love you?”
I couldn’t believe I was having this conversation with my own grandmother.
“He’s known me ever since I was a little girl, Gran.”
“Pamela has known Jason ever since he was a little boy as well, but that didn’t stop her from taking him as a lover.”
“You know about that?!”
She smiled. “There’s only so little things I don’t know about my grandchildren, my Sookie. I’ve known about your feelings for Eric for a while, you know. And those feelings predate your ingestion of his blood.”
“Yes, I had his blood, but only to save my life!”
“Did your father ever tell you how you came to have to take his blood?”
I nodded. “I was sick and the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me. Daddy asked Eric to give me his blood to heal me.”
Gran let out a sigh. “You were sick, yes, and the doctor didn’t know what you had. But your father didn’t ask Eric for his blood. He offered it. In fact, both Godric and Pamela offered their blood to you, but you rejected it almost immediately. Godric had never seen a human reject vampire blood that violently. They thought at first that his blood was too potent, but you also react the same way to Pamela’s. But when Eric gave you his blood…”
“It saved me.”
She nodded. “They did some test, later when you were safe. They again tried to give you their blood, but you again rejected it, except Eric’s. You’ve always had a connection to him, am I right?”
“Daddy said I used to fall asleep in his arms… That he was my bubble… But that still doesn’t explain why I could take his blood, but not Godric’s or Pam’s. Is it because I’m part-fae?”
“I don’t think so, sweetie. Albeit he doesn’t have the same gift as you, Jason is also part fae and he never had a problem with either Pamela’s or Godric’s blood.”
“Are you trying to say that Eric and I are…”
“I don’t know what you and Eric are… What I do know is that from the first moment of you meet him, there was something magical between the two of you. What’s between you goes beyond the blood bond. It’s as if the two of you are… fated. As if he spent a thousand years on this Earth just waiting for you to come along.”
I let out a laugh. Fated? Me and Eric? I might believe in fairies, daemons, weres and vampires, but there was some limit to what I could swallow.
“Now… Finish your coffee, sweetheart, and get dressed. I called a special meeting of the DGD to prepare for Mr. Compton’s presentation. The other ladies are meeting us at Merlotte’s.”
Merlotte’s again… I was going to have to take a subscription to this Bar & Grill. Did they have those fidelity program cards that you get stamped every time you go there? I looked through my closet and settled for a white tank top, a black pair of skinny jeans and a soft beige cardigan. I pulled my hair into a ponytail, not something I normally do – I tend to prefer sophisticated buns and twists. A touch of foundation and gloss later, I was ready.
Gran was waiting by her Caddy, dressed in her Sunday’s best.
“I have to tell you, sweetheart, Maxine Fortenberry is going to be there…”
“Don’t worry, Gran. I’ll try not to listen to her.”
I only lowered my shields upon our entrance at the Bar & Grill and put them back on almost immediately. The thoughts of Mrs. Fortenberry weren’t very nice. I was supposedly overdressed and was trying to show them how much better than them I was.
“Ladies, you remember my granddaughter, Sookie.”
The five elderly ladies accompanying Mrs. Fortenberry acknowledged me with several hellos and old stories about when I was a little girl and I was visiting Gran.
“Have you heard about that poor girl?” asked Mrs. Miller.
“Yes… What a shame! So young and such a tragic fate!”
Gran and I both frowned.
“Haven’t you head, Adele?” asked Maxine Fortenberry
“Heard what, Maxine?”
“About that poor Maudette Pickens, of course!” said Mrs. Norris, who I learned was the mayor’s wife.
“Maudette Pickens? The girl from the Grabbit Kwick? What happened to her?”
Mrs. Belanger and Mrs. Hebert both got teary eyes.
“The poor girl was found murdered in her own house!”
Maudette Pickens… Where had I heard that name? Oh yes, last night. According to Dawn she was a regular at Fangtasia. Iwonder if…
“Caroline Bellefleur said Andy was called early this morning” explained Mrs. Rochon. “The poor thing was strangled!”
“And she had… bite marks!” whispered Mrs. Belanger.
“Bite marks?” I asked. “Like mosquito bites?”
“No… Apparently, poor Maudette was… what is it they call them? Vampbanger?”
“That’s not the word, Jeannine Belanger!” exclaimed Mrs. Fortenberry. “She was a fangbanger!”
She said the word as if she was saying the name of the devil. Gran cringed at it and I just rolled my eyes.
“So she was killed by a vampire?” asked Mrs. Norris.
“Well, she was clearly no angel and she was associating with these… these things! I wouldn’t surprise me if she had been.”
That was it for me.
“Mrs. Rochon, you said she was strangled, right?”
The little old lady nodded, while sipping her cup of tea.
“Well then it sure wasn’t a vampire who killed her!”
Mrs. Fortenberry looked at me as if I had grown a second head.
“And how would you know that, young lady?”
I smiled. “If a vampire had killed her she would have been drained, not strangled. If you had the most amazing meal in front ofyou, Mrs. Fortenberry, and you could eat it all… Would you let it waste and end up in the garbage?”
The ladies chuckled and, dropping my walls a little, many thought that there was no way Maxine Fortenberry would let food go wasting. Apparently she was quite the glutton.
Gran got the meeting back to order and it allowed me to see her at her best. She was majestic. She explained about Compton and how he was THE William T. Compton who had fought in the War. She told them that he had agreed to come and talk to the club and that she was hoping to make some sort of event about it. The ladies were at first reluctant. They were clearly afraid. At first his vampiric state was a total deal breaker for the ladies, but Gran told them that even though he was now a vampire, he had been a citizen of Bon Temps once. That he came from one of the founding families of the city and that he had decided to come back here. She finally got them to agree to the idea. As she said, it’s not every day that you get to have a firsthand account of the Civil War by a veteran.
The meeting ended with Gran promising to talk to Compton to settle a date for his speech and with the other ladies agreeing to let everybody know about it. They all left for Mrs. Fortenberry where they would plan the menu for the event. We were getting ready to split up in the parking lot when Mrs. Hebert approached me, asking me about my work.
“In my days we would have never dreamed of seeing such a young lady being a lawyer! Your grandmother is so proud of you and that brother of yours!”
“Thank you, Mrs. Hebert. I’m doing my best to make her proud.”
“And she said you have your own firm, too! What an accomplishment!” added Mrs. Rochon.
I dropped my shields a little and realized that both women were sincere in their praises. Mrs. Hebert had been a nurse before marrying and had dreamed about becoming a doctor, but in those days a female doctor in Louisiana wasn’t very common.
“And you are working for businessmen in Shreveport, right?” asked Mrs. Belanger.
I nodded. “Our firm only has 3 clients. Jason is mainly in charge of the one in Dallas, while I’m taking care of the two in Shreveport. In fact, they have been with the firm ever since its foundation.”
“They were your father’s client as well?”
“Yes, but the firm dates back to… 1476 if I’m not wrong.”
Their reactions were priceless!
“The firm was first started as a private bank, in Italy. Over the year it changed from a bank to a law firm. My father took over after he finished law school.”
“So, their business is some sort of… family business?”
“You could say that, Mrs. Miller.”
Gran smiled. “Their clients are vampires, Lucille.”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
“Aren’t they dangerous?”
“How can you work for these monsters?” finally said Mrs. Fortenberry. “How can you be a Christian, Adele Stackhouse, and allow your flesh and blood to work for those monsters?”
“And you call yourself a Christian, Maxine Fortenberry? How can you make judgment on people you never met?”
“People? They’re not people, Adele! They’re vampires! Bloodsuckers!”
“And you are a bigot! These so-called bloodsuckers are honourable, loyal people. Over the years they have taken care of my grandchildren. You have no rights to say bad things about them!”
Surprisingly the five other ladies took my Gran’s side against Mrs. Fortenberry. In the end, Gran and her friends left for the mayor’s house, leaving Maxine Fortenberry alone in the parking lot.
“You better watch out, young lady. One day you will regret your association with these soulless demons.”
I rolled my eyes and made my way toward the farmhouse. The sun was getting ready to set and I needed to call Eric. He said we’d talk more tonight, but I wasn’t sure I wanted this conversation to be face to face. I didn’t know if I could ever face him again…
I walked around the house like a zombie, preparing my dinner and watching TV. Once the sun had finally set I took my cell phone and called him.
“Good evening, min älskling. ”
I took a deep breath.
“Good evening, Eric.”
There was a long silence. I hadn’t thought about what I was going to tell him.
“Sookie? You’re still there?”
I walked to the porch and sat on the swing. Not a good idea. A walk around the house was a better idea.
“Yeah… I’m… How was your day? I mean… The rest of your night yesterday and the beginning of your evening?”
He laughed. “Good. I did some paperwork, dealt with Area disputes. Are you alright?”
Was I? Not really.
“Yeah… I… I forgot to tell you… Last night… I kinda saved Compton from two drainers.”
“What?! When? Before or after I left you?”
“Before… It really was nothing. They tackled him from behind and held him up with cheap silver necklace.”
“You should have told me! Compton should have told me!”
“Hey, don’t worry! I tased them and I’m pretty sure they won’t come back.”
“Drainers are dangerous, min lilla.”
“I know… Can we… can we talk about something else?”
Like, can we talk about last night? Did I really want to talk about last night?
“What do you want to talk about, min lilla?”
I smiled. “Why did you call me ‘love’ last night, when we were with Compton? You’ve never called me that before and… Was it all an act? Was it all for Compton?”
He took a deep breath. “Pam would be delighted if she was here. She’s been ready this ‘Dear Abby’ column in the paper…”
“You’re not at the bar?”
“No, I’m still at home. I hadn’t planned on being on display tonight. I was hoping to stop by Bon Temps…”
“To be honest with you, min lilla, it was all for Compton… at first. But the moment the word escaped my lips I realized that I truly meant it.”
As Gran would say: Jesus Christ, Shepherd of Judea!
“I’m not good with dealing with my own feelings, Sookie…”
Something was moving near the trees. I walked toward it, curious.
“Sookie, you’re still there?”
“Sorry, there’s something in the…”
I never finished my phrase. I was thrown to the ground and hit in the side. And hit and hit and hit again. I was still holding the cell in my hand and I could hear Eric nearly screaming. Another blow to my face… Blood, so much blood. I was grabbed by the hair… A kick to my jaw. It was broken. A kick to my chest. I could barely breathe. The two shadows were now hovering above me, taunting me. Another kick to my face. I don’t know how much time had passed, but I knew that I was dying.
He appeared out of nowhere, throwing my attackers to the ground. I heard the horrible sound of necks breaking and it was over. But the pain wasn’t over. He swept me in his arms, softly putting my head on his laps, bit his wrist and brought it to my lips.
“Unless you want to commit a blood offense, Compton, I would suggest you keep that wrist away from her mouth.”
My Viking! My Viking had come for me.
“And I’ll heal her! Now go back to your decrepit house before I stake you!”
Eric brought his wrist to my mouth and I gulped several mouthful of his sweet blood. I could already feel its magic healing me.
“Drink, min älskare (my lover).”
He grabbed his own phone, still holding me as if I was the most precious thing in the world
“Pam, don’t ask any question. There are two bodies lying on the Stackhouses’ yard. I need you to come and clean it out for me…. Then bring him with you! And go pick up Adele, wherever she is, but don’t bring her back… I’ll tell you more later… Yes, she’s healing now, but she was badly hurt. I’ll stay with her and rest in the cubby.”
In a flash we were down in his cubby. The wound on his wrist had closed, so he brought it to his fang, opening it again, before giving it back to me.
“I’m here, min älskare. Drink…”