Chapter 4

Sookie POV
I’m exhausted. I had a crap night last night, my cousin was attacked and is in a coma and to top it all off I forgot that there was a 1,000 year old vampire resting in the same building as me. Said 1,000 year old vampire apparently has the sense of humour of a 10 year old and thought it would be hilarious to surprise me by jumping out from behind the kitchen door with his fangs out shouting ‘boo!’. After dropping the basket of clothes I was carrying and running away, screaming to lock myself in the nearest bathroom did he realise that perhaps he hadn’t made the right choice in pranks.

“Sookie, please come out. I … I didn’t think I would frighten you so much. I really mean you no harm.”

His muffled almost apology from the other side of the bathroom door melts my ire enough to gather my wits and prepare myself to properly scold him for his juvenile behaviour but when I open the door I discover that the only clothing he has on is a pair of black boxer briefs. I clap my hands over my eyes as I feel the blood colour my face

“Eric! Will you go and put some damn clothes on?!”

“As my physical appearance seems to offend you then yes, I will dress.”

His near nakedness didn’t really offend me but I’m just not the type of girl who ogles, even when faced with something ogle-worthy, completely ogle-worthy. I return to the kitchen to get the clothes basket to discover that most of its contents were scattered across the floor in my haste to escape Eric the Menace. I bend over to put everything back in when I get the feeling I’m being watched, I stand and turn to find Eric leaning against the door enjoying the show

“Quit staring at my ass.”

“No. However I will try to be less obvious about it in the future.”

“Is sex all you think about?”

“I occasionally think of fighting and blood but they both end up in sex anyway so basically yes.”

“Whatever.” I didn’t think he’d actually answer that truthfully, guys usually lie about that kind of stuff “So what kind of outfit will I need for this Club Alcide’s taking me to?”

“Not a sundress.”

“I like sundresses!”

“You suit sundresses, they match your personality but there is a dress code at Josephine’s.”

“So I need to go shopping then?” He nodded “Great, because my brain is really geared up for that activity.”

“Sookie.” Eric scowled “Where is your cousin?”

“Oh that.” He raised an eyebrow “She was … uh … attacked by a Were at Merlotte’s. Alcide and I think she was mistaken for me, we’re about the same height, same hair colour. She in the hospital in Monroe, in a coma.”

“Do you know if they’ve contacted Sophie-Ann regarding this?”

“I doubt it, I told them her name was Hadley Stackhouse and that I was her sister. If I’d told them the truth they wouldn’t let me visit her or give me updates on her condition.”

“That was … very clever of you.”

“Have I shocked you Mr. Northman? I can see tomorrows headlines ‘shock grips nation as small town waitress actually uses her brain’, thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“No not shocked by how clever it was but it was also very devious Sookie.” I shrugged “So to sum up, the Queens spy has been incapacitated and Lorena thinks you have been beaten almost to death.”

“Those are very good points. Also I have Hadley’s phone, so if the Queen should attempt to contact her I can intercept. Eric I’ve been thinking a lot today…”

“About how much you want me?”

“No!”I sighed “I have a lot to thank you for.” He raised his eyebrow again “If you hadn’t been here last night I would never have guessed Hadley was here for any other reason than to freeload between fixes and I wouldn’t have known to read her mind to find out any different. Strangely, if you hadn’t contacted Lorena, she wouldn’t have taken Bill and I’d be stuck in a sham marriage. So thank you.”

“I’m sure it will be my pleasure once you give in to my charms.”

“Eric!” I slapped him on the arm and stomped upstairs to pack. Other than the points I had just made, having Eric around lightened my mood. I knew he was totally serious about me ‘yielding’ to him, but the playful way he spoke to me was something I’ve never experienced before. I’ve never been chased, Bill and I just fell into a relationship, no flirting, no courting, we didn’t even go on a date until after he’d taken my virginity. He told me he loved me, did he mean it? Did he love me and this stuff with the Queen just got in the way? I flopped on the bed, it wasn’t that late but Alcide wanted to get an early start to Jackson the next day so I decided to turn in.

I was woken by someone tucking my hair behind my ear, I wasn’t sure if I was having a dream. I heard Eric’s voice whisper that he would see me in Jackson and that I’d be safe as the Were’s thought they had done their job. I opened my eyes briefly to see Pam hanging two garment bags on the back of the door.

Bill POV
Since I was taken from the restaurant I’ve been a prisoner, then a partner and now I’m a prisoner again. It seems that someone heard about a little computer project I had undertaken for Sophie-Ann and decided they would like it for themselves, being the twisted bitch that she is, Lorena had taken it upon herself to convince me to hand over everything I’d compiled.

“Well William, do you want the good news or the bad news?”

“Good.” I spoke through split bloodied lips. I’d been denied blood and my body wasn’t healing like it usually did.

“It seems that Coot has come through for me. Your little waitress was dealt with; if she’s still alive she won’t be awake.”

If that was the good news I didn’t want to hear the bad, but I knew she’d tell me anyway. The fact that Sookie was badly hurt, perhaps almost dead, affected me more than I thought it would. Not just because the Queen would kill me very, very slowly for not protecting her. Strangely not just because I wouldn’t be able to taste her blood anymore, perhaps the torture was messing with my mind but when I was in the most pain her face would be the thing that kept me strong.

“The bad news is that you still haven’t told us where your program is, so my employer has called in an expert to try and help you remember where you put it.” Lorena turned her head towards the door “Debbie, show us what you can do!”

Eric POV
Sometimes the stars align just so and it turns out to be a good night. Tonight was one of those nights. Lorena’s goon squad laid into Hadley thinking it was Sookie, taking Lorena’s ridiculous jealous revenge out of the equation and making the Jackson trip a lot easier to execute. Then Sookie shows us just how valuable she is by thinking on the spot at the hospital, making it harder for the Queen to keep track of her spy. As long as Sookie has Hadley’s cell phone we can make it seem as if they are still spending time together for at least a couple of days. As if that didn’t make me chipper enough, Sookie was warming to me quite nicely.

I called Pam and told her to pick up a couple of dresses for Sookie; she had good taste and could tell what size a woman was at first glance. I’m sure she would find something flattering for Sookie to wear to Josephine’s. I drank one of the True Bloods from Compton’s stock, grimacing at the vile metallic taste but I didn’t think I’d made enough strides with Sookie for her to provide me with a meal – yet.

Pam arrived with two dresses, one red and one champagne, both very elegant, I could imagine Sookie wearing them; I could imagine Sookie removing them. I snapped myself out of my daze and went upstairs to let Sookie know I would see her soon then Pam and I went to Fangtasia so I could feed properly. I found the humans here were disgusting me more and more, throwing themselves at us, not even looking at the vampire they begged to bite them, just looking at the fangs. They should be terrified. They should have more respect for us

“Master!” speaking of respect, Yvetta decides to show me how little of it she has by touching me in public – again. I remove her hand from my arm and look at her coldly.

“I didn’t see you last night, where were you?”

“Are you questioning me?”

“What? No! I’m sorry, sorry Master I won’t do it again!”

If she were Sookie, she wouldn’t have backed down. An image of Sookie wearing a red satin gown, face flushed with anger, passionate anger runs across my mind and I’m instantly hard. I drag Yvetta into my office and lock the door, ripping her outfit in my frenzy; I grab at her breasts with one hand and slap her hands away when she tries to touch me with the other. Checking her folds I find her slick with need and bring her to release quickly with my fingers, sinking my fangs into her neck to drink deeply as she reaches her peak. Her blood reeks of fear and desperation and I feel my erection wilt at the taste, it angers me that my thoughts for the telepath are affecting me like this.

“M … Master? Am I not to your liking this evening?”

“You disgust me. All of the humans that surround me and worship me for what I am not who I am, you’re like vermin. Get out of my office now.”

“B … but Master I can …”

“OUT!”

She picks up her scraps and scurries off I call Pam and ask her to glamour her to forget ever entering my office tonight. Sookie, what the hell are you doing to me?

Tara POV
Could this day get any weirder? First Sookie shows up with her waste of space cousin Hadley, then she has to take off with Hadley to the hospital because she must have mouthed off to the wrong passer-by. I mean I feel bad for Hadley an’ all but the girls has always been dumber than a box o’ rocks and louder than a bachelorette on shots, it was sure to get her beat up some time.

Then while Sook is gone three girls show up lookin’ for uniforms so they can get to work, I mean what the fuck? I told them we ain’t hired anyone new but they all just looked at each other and said they were here to help out while Sam and Sookie were away. That secret squirrel bitch didn’t say anythin’ to me about going out of town again. Shit. Maybe if I hadn’t cut myself off from everyone they’d tell me about this stuff.

Sook came back and when I asked her where she was runnin’ off to she told me its ‘complicated’, that’s the same damn thing she said to me the last time I asked where Bill was. Dollars to dimes she’s off doing vampire shit with him. He might be as ‘Southern Gentleman’ as they come but I knew that mutha was trouble when he showed his pale ass in this bar.

The new girls were doin’ good, seemed to get on well with the customers and one of them had a licence to tend bar too. I didn’t know where Sam was gettin’ the money to pay for them but right now I didn’t care because with them here I might actually get some time off. As soon as I thought that the phone rang and I heard Terry shoutin’ that it was for me, probably my Momma wantin’ to make sure I’d be back to help her pray before bed. I picked up the handset

“Tara here.”

Hello gorgeous, it’s Franklin. You remember me from Angelo’s bar?

“Uh … yeah, I remember. I didn’t think you would call though.”

When I ask a pretty lady out and she refuses it just makes me more determined.

“That sounds creepy.”

I certainly don’t intend for you to feel uncomfortable around me. Would you like to go on a date with me tomorrow night? My friend owns a club in Jackson; I would be the envy of every man in there if I showed up with you on my arm.

“Jackson is a little far away for a night out for me.”

No problem, I’ll pick you up and bring you back. I just want to get to know you a little better Tara.

“Well … okay then. What kind of club is it? Do I have to dress up?”

Definitely. I can’t wait to see you in your finest Tara; shall we say I’ll get you at your workplace at 8pm?

“Alright then, I’ll see you tomorrow night. Bye”

I’ll look forward to it.

I hung up and puffed my cheeks taking a deep breath. The ordeal with Eggs almost broke me but I’m gettin’ back on the horse. This is a new Tara, a more sociable Tara, who accepts dates with charming vampires she doesn’t know much about. I’m not like Sookie, I’m not gonna get drawn in til I’m so deep I can’t get back out again. I got more experience than that.

Alcide POV
I had arranged to pick Sookie up early so we could have plenty of time to get our stories straight before setting foot in Josephine’s or Club Dead as we Were’s call it. We had to pass as a couple, to do that we had to be comfortable around each other. Not that I was uncomfortable around Sookie and I hope she wasn’t uncomfortable around me but I took my time driving and stopped a couple of times more than I needed to so we could carry on with our small talk. It had been agreed that Sookie would stay in my Jackson apartment, our company had an office there, luckily it had two bedrooms.

I unloaded her bags from my truck and put them in the spare room, it was coming up for lunchtime so I offered to make something. We sat across from each other at the breakfast bar with our sandwiches; I’d been wondering how to phrase my question all morning and hadn’t come up with a more polite way to put it yet

“So, Sookie, I’d like to know why some vamps want you dead and some want to keep you alive. They usually don’t care either way for humans.”

“Lorena wants me dead because her child and I guess now her lover asked me to marry him. Eric wants me alive because I’m useful.”

“Useful?”

She sighed and rubbed her hands over her face “Yes useful. I’m not a normal human but then neither are you Alcide. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

Her turn of phrase was flirtatious but the way she said it was like a challenge. She didn’t want to tell me why she was so useful, but if I told her what I was she would let me in on her secret.

“I’m a Werewolf.”

“I’m a telepath.”

I leapt from my stool and backed away from her “Can you read my mind?” If she can read my mind I’m surprised she agreed to get in the truck with me.

“Not really, it’s like your mind is surrounded by red mist. My boss is a shifter; he can project thoughts to me if he really wants me to know something.”

“That’s good to know. I’m not projecting now am I?”

“Not right now.” Shit! Did that mean I had been? What had I been projecting to her? I’ve had some very nice fantasies involving Sookie since I met her, what if I’d broadcast what I imagined her doing to me in the shower this morning? I cleared away the dishes and told her I was going for a nap, she said that sounded like a good idea and padded down to her room. I lie on my bed and put my arm over my eyes. I take it all back – paying off debts to Northman was a lot of trouble.

Sookie POV
As I puttered around getting used to my surroundings I couldn’t help but go back to Alcide’s reaction to my telepathy and that he had been unknowingly projecting thoughts to me. Most of the car ride I was snippets of his curiosity regarding why I was so important to the vampires but when I let him know he’d been sending things to me he seemed … mortified. Obviously he had some thoughts he didn’t want me to know about, whether they were good or bad I don’t want to know, I’ll make a point of keeping out of his mind from now on just in case. There’s nothing worse than creeping in someone’s brain and discovering they hated you.

I settled on the bed and drifted off to a place between sleep and wakefulness until I was fully roused by voices back towards the kitchen. I fixed myself and wandered in their direction

“So you’ve got some fangbanger staying with you?”

“She’s not like that Janice, she’s nice, besides even if she wasn’t Dad’s marker got called in and I’m taking care of it.”

I cleared my throat to announce my presence and weakly waved in a vague apology of interrupting the conversation. Alcide smiled and the very pretty woman he was talking to just looked at me, unimpressed. She was a little shorter than Alcide but she had the same green eyes, long straight brown hair fell halfway down her back and she was dressed some kind of boho/biker style, she suited it.

“Sookie! This is my sister Janice. Janice this is Sookie.”

I stuck my hand out and she looked at it for a moment before shaking it. We exchanged ‘pleased to meet you’s’ and Alcide explained that we were going to Club Dead tonight. Janice snorted and looked me up and down

“She’ll get eaten alive baby brother.” She turned to look at me “He’s right you’re … nice. Nice girls will get noticed in Club dead, you don’t want to stand out; I’ll do your hair and make-up. Not because I want to be your BFF, but for him” Janice jerked a thumb at Alcide. “He told me about your ‘covert op’ and if he gets hurt trying to keep your Southern Belle butt alive I’ll come after you myself.”

I swallowed loudly and nodded. Janice told me to show her the outfit I had planned, I realised I hadn’t even looked inside the bags that Pam brought me. We went to my room and I unzipped one, it had a gorgeous champagne coloured knee length dress inside, it was silk overlaid with lace and had a halter style fastening. The other bag had a red satin floor length gown with jewelled spaghetti straps and an empire waist.

“Go with the red, you got make-up and hairspray?” I nodded “Good, we’ll eat then get started. It’ll take me a while to say goodbye to Sandra Dee here.”

Alcide smiled and said we’d go to the diner in the next block for dinner. The food was fantastic and despite our strained introductions, the conversation flowed. Janice and I swapped brother stories, Alcide tried to embarrass Janice with childhood tales.

“Thank you for bringing me here, that’s the best dinner I’ve had in a while!”

“It’s nice to see a woman eat.”

Janice snorted again and looked pointedly at Alcide. We went back to the apartment and I showered and shaved, wrapping myself in a large fluffy towel before sitting down to let Janice work her magic. My hair was back-combed and twisted into what looked like a bird’s nest but Janice assured me that with the make-up it would look fine. She spent the longest on my eyes, with mascara, eyeliner and three different shades of eye shadow before painting my lips with the closest red to the colour of my dress. When I looked in the mirror I was shocked, I looked … sexy. I liked it! She left me to get dressed and I heard her shout a goodbye to Alcide as she slammed the door on her exit.

I shimmied into the gown, it felt amazing against my skin but when I tried to fasten it I realised my arms couldn’t stretch round enough to get to the zipper. Shit. I called for Alcide and stood with my back to the open door, when I heard him behind me I asked if he could help. Soon the zip was up and I adjusted the dress a little before turning round to see Alcide dressed in a dark grey suit with a white tuxedo shirt open at the neck with no tie. My breath caught in my throat at the sight, he was … gorgeous and I couldn’t not stare at him, when our eyes met it was like magnets drawing us together. My brain switched off as he leaned down and pressed his lips against mine as soon as it switched on again my first thought was Bill. I pulled back and Alcide looked confused

“I … I don’t want to start anything until I get things … sorted with Bill. I’m sorry.”

“No, its okay Sookie, I get it, you’re right not to want to complicate things.”

The look on his face told me that it definitely wasn’t okay and even though he understood, he wouldn’t mind making things more complicated. Luckily before things could get any more uncomfortable my phone rang, it was Eric.

“Eric, thank you for the dresses, I appreciate that.”

I’m sure you look delectable Sookie, I’m leaving for Josephine’s soon but I’m in disguise so you won’t see me.

“Disguise? Whatever. I’m kind of in disguise myself actually. You’ll be there to keep an eye on things?”

Yes, if things go south I won’t be leaving you to face it on your own. Go in, listen and get back out again. It’s a full moon tonight and Alcide will need to change at some point.

“Okay. Bye”

He’d already hung up. I asked Alcide about the full moon thing and he said it was like a compulsion, Werewolves had to change at the full moon the same as shifters. I hoped that I’d be able to get some information on Bill’s whereabouts before that happened. I put my cell phone in my purse and we got on our way. The Club was hidden in what looked like a bad part of town, Alcide parked and we walked towards an unmarked door with a red awning. He seemed twitchy, then I looked in the sky and seen why. It was a cloudless night and the moon was shining brightly, he said he’d be fine once we were inside.

We walked in and I looked around stopping in my tracks when I saw a very familiar face sitting at a table laughing with a vampire. Tara! What the hell was she doing here? With a vampire too! I couldn’t go in there, she would recognise me, there was no hiding. I pulled Alcide into a dark corner and got my phone out, sending her a text

Whn u c me call me Adele. Dnt ask q’s. Danger.

I peeked out and saw her get her phone from her purse, turning away from her companion to read it then looking up searching the room for me. I grabbed Alcide’s hand and walked to the bar where he ordered drinks. I took my Gin and Tonic and headed in Tara’s direction, I could see her staring at me, not knowing what to do

“Tara! Honey how are you?”

I pulled her into a hug and whispered that everything was fine and that she shouldn’t worry.

“A … Adele. What have you been up to?”

“Nothing much. This is my friend Alcide. Are you on a date?”

“Uh … yeah. This is Franklin.”

I nodded to him, knowing vamps don’t shake hands and he invited us to sit with them. I wasn’t sure whether to take up his offer or not but Alcide pulled out a chair for me and looked deep into my eyes. I dropped my shields to hear him projecting that Franklin was one of the most important vamps in the State and refusing him might cause problems. Good thinking Alcide. We sat in an awkward silence for a while, Tara looking at me accusingly. She was wondering when I became such good friends with my contractor that I’d go dancing with him and if I was out with him then what had happened with me and Bill.

“Tara, do you know where the restrooms are?”

“No.” Recognition dawned on her “We’ll find them together shall we?”

We walked off arm in arm, following the signs to the ladies room. When we were out of sight from our table I stopped and turned her towards me leaning in close so I could whisper

“Tara, you need to relax. I know it’s a surprise to see me here and with Alcide of all people but whatever you do don’t mention Bon Temps or Bill or that we work together.”

“I don’t understand why you’re pretending to be someone else but I can see you’re scared so I’ll do what you say but when we get back home you better make time to tell me everything!”

“I will Tara, I promise.”

We found the restrooms and spent some time touching up our faces, when we walked back out there was a vampire staring at me. He had light blue three piece suit on with a navy blue shirt, a hat that made him look like a 1940’s gangster and black rimmed glasses. He looked into my eyes and smiled, running his fangs out, it was Eric! He was right about a disguise; you’d have to look very closely to recognise him. Tara tugged my hand and I followed her back to the table.

Eric POV
Josephine’s was in a different league to Fangtasia. Unlike my club it catered solely to Supes and their human companions, it was nice but not the most lucrative. The interest of humans in my kind has feathered my nest very well and while they still want to dip their toes into the vampire world Fangtasia will remain as is. I had noticed Alcide seated at a table with Franklin Mott, that confused me, I was unaware they had an association. I guessed Sookie had left to tend to her human needs and waited where I knew I would see her when she returned to her table.

I vaguely recognised a girl as one of Sookie’s colleagues at Merlotte’s and wondered why she was here until the blonde she was with looked at me. Stunning. I’d imagined Sookie in that red dress ever since Pam showed it to me but seeing her in front of me with her face made up and her hair styled made me realise how feeble my imagination actually was. My fangs ran out at the sight of her and I couldn’t hide a smile when she recognised me. I moved to where I could see their table but kept my eyes focussed on the dance floor; drawing attention by staring at her would be a stupid mistake to make after going to such lengths to keep our presence hidden.

My eyes flicked to her now and again, she seemed to be having a good time but I could see she wasn’t concentrating on the conversation. With any luck she’ll hear something of interest soon and we can all get out of here. I fed before coming here but looking at Sookie I was filled with hunger, as if to torture me she took to the dance floor with her friend and they swayed and gyrated to some 80’s tune making everyone in the club pay notice them. The way she moved made every cell of my body pay attention, I could tell she had no idea what she was doing to every male in the area, she never did and that was just one more part of her allure.

I watch Sookie return to her table and seat herself next to a very pissed off Alcide, then my attention is drawn to the entrance. Russell Edgington enters with his entourage and they occupy the table next to where Sookie is, I notice they have a few humans with them and suddenly feel a stab of fear and anger through the tie I share with the telepath. Jackpot.

Lorena POV
I’m not one to turn down the chance to torture someone but when, after a time, it becomes obvious they won’t break – it loses its edge for me. Not for Debbie Pelt, she’s not interested in whether Bill talks about the computer program Russell wants or not, she just enjoys inflicting pain. I’ll not deny that I have a cruel nature, but any pain I inflict always has an end game be it information, blood or revenge. Bill won’t give us the information, I can’t survive on his blood and my revenge has already been sated. I watch Debbie as she cuts into my child and laughs, she was never interested in the project, in fact she jumped at the chance to torture a vampire because, in her own words ‘they last longer and don’t die from shock so you can inflict pain for weeks’. My child was just a toy for her to play with and it was starting to grate on me.

“That’s enough for tonight. Let him heal a little.”

“What? Oh Come on we’re just getting started!”

“Really? Since you came here what have you found out from him?”

“Nothing and to be honest I stopped asking after the first session. I just like the way he screams.”

“Get out. Leave us.”

I go to my child and cradle his head, comforting him as best I can. Through our bond I can feel how broken he is and my heart aches for him. We’ll start again, somewhere new. I remember what Godric told me at his nest

You’ve had hundreds of years to better yourself, yet you haven’t. You are still a savage, and I fear for all of us, humans and vampires, if this behaviour persists.

Bill had come to care for a human and there was no doubt that vampires needed to evolve lest we be hunted. Humans know so much about us now, how to kill us mainly and they outnumber us too. I just have to buy a little time, Bill can heal quickly if I get a couple of bags of donor blood smuggled in, when he’s strong enough I’ll get him out of here.

Sookie POV
I watched as the people at the next table left and were replaced by a vampire and two human men. I heard one of the men think about how they would have to stand daytime guard over the prisoner while the Were’s recovered from the change tonight. In his mind I saw Bill tied to a chair, he looked like he’d been beaten. I felt sick, angry and afraid for him. I flicked my eyes over to where I had seen Eric last and he gave me the tiniest nod. I turned to Alcide

“Y’know honey, I don’t feel so good. Can we go home?”

“Sure sweetheart” I cringed at him using the same term of endearment that Bill used “It was nice to meet you two.”

He nodded to Franklin and shook Tara’s hand. I hugged Tara and nodded to her vampire friend and turned to find myself face to face with a woman I didn’t know but had clearly pissed off somehow. Alcide was growling at her, his eyes flicked to me before he spoke

“Debbie. Is there something you need?”

She stepped back a little and cocked an eyebrow before jutting out her hip and placing a hand on it. The people at the table next to ours seemed awfully nervous all of a sudden and the vampire with them stood up.

“I’m just wondering what you’re doing out partying with Blondie here when you know how good we are together.”

“Debbie, you cheated on me and manipulated me. You’re no good for me, if you’ll excuse us; Adele and I were just leaving.”

She picked up the shawl I had hanging on the back of the chair, purposefully dropping it and wiping her feet on it before handing it to me.

“You’ll never be able to satisfy him. He’ll drop you like a rabid puppy and come back to me begging.”

She stomped off and was followed by the vampire from the other table, I saw him grab her arm and they spoke for a little while. From what I saw it wasn’t a friendly chat. The vampire came back to our table and looked at me, taking the shawl from my trembling hands.

“Some of my patrons have no idea how to be civilised Miss…”

“Uh … Hale, Adele Hale.”

“I do hope that Ms. Pelt hasn’t sullied your opinion of my club and that you’ll come back sometime.”

“No, I enjoyed myself very much. I’m sorry; I don’t know your name.”

“Russell Edgington, I own this establishment. Please, allow me to escort you and your companion to the exit where I’ll grab some free passes for you to use next time.”

“Thank you very much Mr. Edgington.”

I could see Eric lurking near the door, obviously wanting to stay close. Russell gave us the passes and opened the door for us; Alcide noticed Eric and couldn’t hide the look of recognition. Russell glanced back and forth between the two of them then Eric sprang into action, grabbing Alcide in one of those man-hug fist-bump kind of greetings

“Alciiiide! Has it been so long you don’t recognise your buddy Leif?”

“Leif? Wow it has been a while, how are you?”

They bantered for a short while as Russell watched, obviously intrigued by how friendly a vampire and Were were acting towards each other. Alcide introduced ‘Leif’ to Russell and me, when we heard voices I turned just as I heard a voice I recognised

“Take them out!”

I turned to see Steve Newlin and two men raising crossbows in our direction. I looked into Newlin’s eyes and he remembered where he’d seen me, grinning he raised his crossbow and fired in my direction. The arrow left the bow a millisecond before three other vampires ran out of the club and tackled Newlin and his cohorts. I felt a sharp pain in my side as I watched the Fellowship people throw silver nets at the vampires and run off. I looked down and saw the arrow sticking out of my side at an awkward angle, it had gone straight through my side and blood was pouring from the wounds, I fell.

Alcide was at my side but as soon as saw his nostrils flare I knew my blood was affecting him, he started to shimmer and I knew the combination of the moonlight and my blood was making him change into his wolf form. He snarled and ran in the same direction Newlin and his men went in. He left me, bleeding on the sidewalk. I kept conscious long enough to see Eric and Russell looming over me, Russell had his fangs drawn and Eric looked … concerned?

“Don’t let them eat me … Leif.”

Then I lost my will to keep my eyes open.

Eric POV
I knew that Were would end up being a liability. Fuck. A mass of Supes had come out of the club to see what was going on and as soon as they scented Sookie’s blood I knew she was in danger. I looked at Russell, he was king of Mississippi, Franklin Mott was one of his lieutenants. Sookie’s friend had come out with Franklin and screamed when she saw her lying bleeding.

“Alcide cannot help the change, I will help his woman. Do you have somewhere we can go to take care of her?”

“Sure … Leif was it?” I nod “Bring my car, we’ll go back to my residence, I can arrange a healer.”

I picked Sookie up gingerly, and placed her in the back seat of Russell’s car, sliding in beside her and lifting her head onto my lap. The journey was short and Sookie slipped in and out of consciousness the whole way. We arrived and I lifted her out of the car and carried her into the room Russell directed us to, laying her gently on the bed and making sure there was no pressure on the area the arrow had pierced her, one of Russell’s henchmen tore the red satin from her body, leaving her in her underwear.

Russell came into the room with two vampires as Sookie woke up again. She was pale as a ghost from blood loss and visibly terrified when she noticed she was surrounded by vampires she didn’t know and her dress had been removed.

Adele … I’m here, hold my hand.”

She turned and looked relieved I was present … which pleased me. When she placed her small hand in mine I felt the need to comfort her. Pleasure at helping a human woman and wanting to comfort her was very alien to me but that would need to be mulled over at a more opportune time.

“Adele?” Sookie looked at Russell “This is Ray-Don, you know that vampires have a coagulant in their saliva to heal bite marks?” she nodded limply “Ray-Don has the most effective and abundant supply of coagulant we’ve come across, he will feed from his mate then lick your wounds when we take the arrow out to stop the bleeding. Do you understand?”

Again she nodded and turned to look at me, her eyes telling me she knew how much pain she was going to be in for the operation. I held onto her hand as tight as I dared without crushing her bones as the shaft of the arrow was snapped to make removal easier.

“Look at me. Look into my eyes.” I held her gaze and forced all my energy into trying to glamour her into not feeling as the arrow was pulled quickly from the wound and Ray-Don started lapping at the gaping holes left behind. She passed out from the pain despite my best attempts and I could see the blood clotting at her injuries. When Ray-Don had finished Russell looked at me

“Will you be staying here with her?” I confirmed, no way was I leaving her here alone “It’s best you find somewhere for her to go before sunrise, you know what I mean.”

I nodded; understandably, Russell didn’t want strange humans wandering around his residence while he and his vampires were at rest. As soon as she was well enough I’d have to take her back to my hotel room. The effect of Ray-Don’s saliva was staggering, I checked her wounds after everyone left the room and was shocked to find them scabbing over already. I could only hope there was no internal damage. I put her under the blankets on the bed to keep her warm and strip down to my boxers before climbing in beside her. I could feel the flesh around the wound burning and lay my cold hand over it, relief streamed through the tie we had; I watched her sleep and contemplated the fact that feeling some of her emotions had awoken something inside me. Before having a connection to her I just wanted to know what made her tick, since she took my blood I needed to know.

Bill POV
My existence has been split, daytimes are filled with pain and the humiliation caused by someone hurting me simply for the sake of hurting me. Nighttimes are spent with my maker, my lover, my saviour. When the Were’s are gone she feeds me and unties me from my silver shackles so I can regain enough strength for us to disappear. I won’t be ready for a few days yet, but without Lorena’s help I would have given up by now.

Through our bond she must have felt my resolve break after I heard Sookie may be dead, as much as I had resented my mission and felt stifled by the demeanour I had to project to Sookie, I found that I missed her. Touching and feeding from a warm body that was there for Bill Compton rather than a vampire, at the time I thought she was a fool, but now I crave that intimacy and tenderness. Perhaps it’s the torture making me crazy.

“You’re thinking about her aren’t you?”

“Yes Lorena, I am. Sookie is one of a kind. I hope that she survives whatever your goons did to her, she didn’t deserve that.”

“I know. I was jealous; she could give you warmth where I cannot. She can come to you smelling like sunshine, I cannot. Back in Dallas I told you that loving you was becoming a constant humiliation, the way that girl spoke to me … I couldn’t let it slide William.”

I nodded, vampires live for centuries, you’d think we would be above holding grudges and avenging petty arguments but we’re not. I don’t know where Lorena and I will go, but as long as I stay with my maker, Sophie-Ann will not be able to summon me back to Louisiana for failing the mission she sent me on.

Sookie POV
I woke to the joy of every muscle in my body screaming at me. The pain was more pronounced in my left side. What had happened to me? I tried to move but could only groan in discomfort.

“Lay still Sookie.”

Was that Eric? I opened my eyes and tried to get a better view of where I was. In a bed, in a room I didn’t remember coming into. Why is Eric in bed with me?

“Where am I?”

“You’re in Russell Edgington’s home, he arranged your healing.”

Healing? White hot pain flashed in my side again when I tried to turn towards Eric’s voice and I remembered. The arrow, Alcide’s change, Eric stroking my hair in a car, a vampire licking my wounds, looking into Eric’s eyes.

“Did they catch Newlin?”

“I have no idea. You are in a lot of pain.”

“Very much so but I’m not dead from blood loss or being drained by vampires so that counts for something right?”

“It’s good to be optimistic. Can you move at all?”

“Not without puking all over you in pain, no.”

“We need to get out of here soon; they don’t want you around in the daytime. I can take you back to my hotel room until Alcide gets in touch.”

“How am I going to manage that?”

“Take my blood.” I started to protest but Eric put his hand over my mouth “You need strength; we still have to find Bill, what did you find out at the club?”

“He’s in a shack near Patrol Lake. Because of the full moon he’ll be guarded by humans from dawn until the Were’s recover from the midnight run. They’ve been torturing him.”

“Interesting. Why would Lorena torture him?”

“I’m more concerned about why one of Mr. Edgington’s humans would have detailed knowledge of it.”

“Good point. Have you tried to move again?”

I shook my head and attempted a slight wriggle, burning agony; I whimpered and felt tears spring to my eyes. Eric was moving around behind me, he hooked his hands under my arms and I bit a hole in my lip trying not to cry out too loudly from the movement. I screwed my eyes shut until I had stopped moving and opened them to find myself sitting up with a knee either side of my hips. Naked knees, I turned my head to see naked arms, then looked down to find I had been divested of my dress and was clad in a red strapless bra and matching boy shorts.

“Eric, where are my clothes?”

“They had to remove your lovely dress to get to the arrow.”

“Where are your clothes?”

“I didn’t want them creased while I comforted you.”

“Did we…”

“No! I might be deviant and sometimes perverted but I always like my women awake.” I heard a tearing sound and his bleeding wrist was in front of my mouth “Drink Sookie.”

Knowing what I now know about drinking vampire blood I was obviously hesitant. I had had Eric’s blood, would taking more of it make me more attracted to him? On the other hand, refusing to drink so I could heal would be idiotic, the owner of this home wanted me gone, his reaction to finding me here at dusk would not be positive. Drink the blood and have sexy Eric dreams, don’t drink the blood and get drained by vamps who think I’m squatting. My survival instinct says drink, so I drink.

It seemed like years ago since I’d had Bill’s blood but I’m sure Eric’s blood tastes sweeter, maybe because he’s so old. I take small sips at first, his free hand caressing my uninjured side, stroking lightly. I feel his body react and his delight at such an intimate act becomes apparent against my lower back and buttocks. His fingers flutter over my right breast instantly causing my flesh to prickle and sweep over my already hard nipple, the action makes me moan and draw his blood into my mouth deeply.

I hear him hiss with pleasure and his hand moves lower, beyond the elastic of my scant underwear to tease and rub the places only one man had ever touched before. Eric was rhythmically moving his hips against me, desperate for friction and in my aroused condition I met the feel of his fingers by rolling my own pelvis into him. I could feel his fangs gently scraping my shoulder but when I took one last draw from his wrist he shuddered and groaned with his release.

“Don’t bite me.”

I meant it to come out more forceful than it did, it just sounded like a moan. He tipped my head back and kissed me deeply, still bringing me closer and closer with his talented digits. Eric hardened once again and started to remove my bra, there was a voice in the back of my head that wanted him to stop but it was smacked down by my lust. I was on the cusp of something wonderful, better than anything I’d felt before when there was a pounding at the door.

I flew away from Eric, returning to my previous position under the blankets, it took less than 3 seconds, I could feel Eric’s blood coursing through my veins and I was thrumming with nervous energy. Eric called out for whoever was there to come in. A curly haired vampire entered the room and set a pile on the edge of the bed

“I brought some clothes for her she can’t stay much longer.”

“Understood, I’ll have her out of here as soon as she’s dressed.” The door closed again and Eric spooned against my back. “Where were we?”

I jumped out of the bed, flushed with a mixture of lust, embarrassment and guilt.

“No way Eric! We shouldn’t have even gone that far. I’m going to get dressed, we’re getting out of here and we’re going to find Bill. That’s why we’re here, you need to find him for your Queen and I need to find him so I can get answers.”

“If Bill being missing gets me that kind of Sookie action again he can stay lost.”

I threw a look at him and pulled on the sweat suit that the vampire had left for me, not caring about the dampness on my back or in my panties. Eric sighed and dressed himself before reminding me that I’m gravely injured and handing me my blood spattered purse. He supported me as I groaned, shuffled and limped away from Russell Edgington’s mansion. When we were out of sight, Eric held me tightly and took off into the air, earning a gasp of horror from me. He had to tell me that we’d landed five times before I let go of the death grip I had on his shoulders so we could enter his hotel.

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