Adele watched Jim haul her suitcase up the stairs of the modest semi-detached home that he owned with Betty. She could hardly believe that she was there, in another country. Not just another country but on another continent! The drive from the airport to the Paterson’s house in the Merrylee area had been … an experience for the native of Louisiana. She hardly understood a word of the conversation her friend and husband had shared and was astounded at how extensive the suburbs of Glasgow really were. The drove for over thirty minutes through built up areas without going anywhere near the city centre.
“So, here we are!” Betty clapped her hands and shocked Adele out of her musings. “Do ye want a cuppa tea?”
“Oh my, that sounds wonderful!”
Adele followed Betty through to the kitchen and sat at the table while her Telepathic friend flicked the kettle on and took two mugs out of the cupboard. The American gazed out of the window at the grey clouds and drizzle, and missed the heat and sunshine of her home state. Adele smiled at Betty as she came towards her with a steaming mug but soon became pre-maturely homesick when she was handed the cloudy drink. This wasn’t how they made tea in Louisiana.
“Oh … um … thank you.”
“I didnae know what ye took so I made galactic standard, milk an’ two sugars.”
The American kept her polite smile screwed on but internally she balked at drinking her tea made in such a way.
“Believe me, with the weather we get here – you’ll need the warm drinks.”
Adele looked back outside again and remembered how the damp had seeped into her very bones during the short walk from the terminal to the car park. She sipped at the hot tea and smacked her lips together. She came here for an adventure and if that meant taking her tea hot with cow juice then by golly, she’d do it!
Merlotte’s was buzzing with the gossip of Sookie’s vampire visitor the previous night. Sookie had to stifle her amusement as they whispered behind her back, none of them knowing that she could read what they were talking about from their narrow minds. The only customer who had the mettle to ask her outright was Andy Bellefleur.
“I heard you had to deal with an angry vampire last night Sook. Did you stake him too?”
Sookie smiled at the detective condescendingly. “No, we talked out our problems. He won’t be harassing anybody again.”
Andy chuckled and muttered under his breath. “Talked? Yeah right.”
The Telepath narrowed her eyes at him and sneaked into his mind to find him imagining all sorts of sexual situations between her and Eric. She removed herself from the thoughts of the detective and went back to her office. Jackie was inside, surfing the internet for places they could go after their shift was over that night. Sookie had opened the bar today, so they would be free to go wherever they pleased once 8pm rolled around.
“There’s a strip club in Monroe.” Jackie wiggled her eyebrows. “C’mon, it’ll be good! Hot guys takin’ their kit off and shakin’ their tackle, what could be more fun?”
“Gettin’ screwed by said hot guys?” Sookie grinned wickedly. “Think about it, what’s the point o’ goin’ there and gettin’ all worked up when we dinnae have warm welcome when we get home?”
“Good point.” Jackie huffed and continued her search for a short time before speaking again. “Um … I’ve been thinkin’ about what happened last night, ye know that he’ll want to taste ye don’t ye?”
“Who?” Sookie opened a filing cabinet drawer and began putting the completed orders into it before turning to the Were-Wolf.
Jackie rolled her eyes. “Duh! Eric? The vampire you admitted to being part-Fae to?”
Sookie’s mouth formed an ‘o’ shape as the realisation hit her. “Maybe he won’t be that bothered. I’m sure it won’t be a big deal.”
“Ye know that fairy blood to vampires is like teasing a Doberman wie a big steak, right?”
The Telepath shrugged. “So we’re tasty and juicy.”
“Naw, it’s more than that. It’s like … they’re attracted to it, it gies them a high like a kind o’ drug. Drinkin’ from a full-blooded Fae can send the vamp intae a frenzy. The fairy disnae survive … ever.”
Sookie pinched at the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. “Well, thanks for that Jackie. Now I can shit myself wie full knowledge o’ how I’ll die!” She slammed the drawer closed and leaned against the cabinet. “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I was thinkin’ about asking Jason and Hoyt if they wanted to come out with us tonight.”
“Cool. I like Hoyt, he’s a nice guy. Very sweet.” Sookie raised an eyebrow at the expression on Jackie’s face as she spoke about her brother’s best friend.
“He is, and yer only here for another week. If ye get into anythin’ tell him up front, I don’t want ye to hurt him.”
Sookie scrutinised her wardrobe, she had very few offerings for going to a nightclub and she wasn’t sure she would even fit into them anymore. She picked out her only two dresses. One was stretchy and black with pink rhinestone straps and a cowl neckline that showed off the hot pink lining as it draped over her generous cleavage. The other was a baby pink Chinese style dress with pale green piping and pattern over it. After trying on the polyester pink affair and not being able to fasten it across her hips or chest, Sookie sighed.
“Aye well, back in black.”
Jackie knocked lightly on Sookie’s door before entering and frowned at the exasperated huffing and puffing that she heard as she walked in. The Were-Witch cleared her throat and Sookie looked up at her, dropping the pile of underwear in her hands onto the bed.
“What are ye up to?”
“I’ve got one dress that fits, just, but it’s that tight every single pair o’ knickers shows up. I dinnae have a strapless bra to wear with it, so I’m already going without up top, I’ll be damned if I’m goin’ commando intae the bargain!”
Jackie bit her lip to prevent her giggles escaping. “Sookie, I hate to say but I think yer gonnae have to.”
The Telepath groaned and wiggled out of another pair of panties, cursing her Gran’s good cooking under her breath. When she slipped her feet into a pair of worn sling back kitten heels, she took in her friend’s outfit. Jackie was wearing a deep purple strapless tube dress with plain block heeled pumps. Their outfits complemented each other, they were both dressed up without looking over dressed and after they styled their hair and put on their make-up, they waited in the kitchen for Hoyt and Jason to pick them up.
They didn’t wait long; soon the sound of Jason’s truck was evident as it rattled along the potholed drive. The women grabbed their purses and made their way outside, Sookie waving at her brother and his best friend from the open doorway. As the Telepath closed the door and inserted her key in the lock to secure her home, the sound of another car was heard. Sookie locked the door and counted to ten, she knew her visitor was a vampire and there was only one vampire who had the means to find out where she was at all times. When the Telepath turned around she spotted a red Corvette and stood at the bottom of the porch steps with her arms folded, waiting for Eric to make his presence known.
“Oh dear, have I arrived at a bad time?” The Vampire grinned at Sookie and she narrowed her eyes in return.
“Aye, we’re just leavin’ so whatever reason yer here will need to wait.”
“I don’t think so.” Eric stood directly in front of Sookie and bent down to whisper in her ear. “That blonde man looks a lot like you, your brother perhaps?”
Sookie grit her teeth and glared at him. “You’re a tosser, has anybody ever told ye that?”
The Vampire chuckled at her. “No, but I value your opinion. We’ll be spending some time going over the details of the work you’ll be doing for me tonight.”
Jason and Hoyt had both gotten out of the truck and, along with Jackie, were shuffling closer and closer to Sookie and Eric. “Sook? You need help?”
Sookie stepped around Eric and shook her head. “Guys … somethin’s come up. I won’t be able to go out dancin’ after all.”
Jackie’s eyes filled with sadness as she saw Sookie’s defeated expression. “No! That’s not fair; ye were really lookin’ forward to the night.”
Eric looked at the four humans and sneered at their despondency. Then he remembered how Sookie’s foul mood ruined his previous night. “You will still have your evening out; you can all come to Fangtasia. I will only need to borrow Sookie for a short while.”
The Telepath looked at her friends before glaring at Eric. “No. Leave me yer number and I’ll call ye tomorrow night.”
“No.” Eric took a step closer to Sookie, making her crane her neck so she would keep eye contact. “This requires immediate attention.”
“Are ye gonnae kidnap me?” Sookie’s mouth twitched into a smirk. “I don’t work well under duress.”
The Vampire strained to keep his fangs up, it was clear to him what she was saying. In a subtle way, she was telling him that if he forced her to work for him, he wouldn’t be able to trust if her readings were accurate. She couldn’t lie to him right now, but the blood would wear off at some point.
“I will give you free passes into the club for all of you.”
“And pay for the bar tab.”
“First round for free.”
“All or nothing.”
Jackie, Jason and Hoyt watched Sookie and Eric’s interactions with great interest. Their stance was identical – backs straight, arms folded, mouths set in a firm line. They both had fire in their eyes and refused to back down. The Were-Witch stepped forward and stretched out her arms to protect the human men, which confused both Jason and Hoyt and led to a struggle between the three of them as to who was going to be shielding who. This, in turn, broke the tension between Sookie and Eric as the Telepath and the Vampire turned to watch the comical scuffle.
“Fine.” Eric ground out from gritted teeth. “Free entry and bar tab, just … keep them from doing that.”
“Guys!” Sookie clapped her hands. “Enough with the happy slappin’, let’s shoot the craw.”
Eric watched the group climb into a black truck with pink and aqua swirls down the side, but when Sookie took a step towards the vehicle he put a hand on her shoulder.
“Why don’t we ride together hmm?”
The Telepath froze. “I’d rather not.”
“Despite my wording, it wasn’t a request.” Eric slowly walked over to the passenger side of the Corvette and opened the door.
Sookie shrugged at her friends who watched from the confines of Jason’s truck and begrudgingly took her seat in the sports car. She watched Eric wince as his car bumped along the drive down to Hummingbird Road and stifled her giggles when it looked like the harm to his car’s suspension was causing him physical pain.
“Do you keep your driveway in such a treacherous fashion simply for the amusement value Miss. Stackhouse?”
“Aye, I get so many folk in sports cars visitin’ me that the disastrous state of my drive is comedy gold.” Sookie deadpanned.
“No need to be rude.” Eric smirked at her. “How long ago did you have my blood?”
Sookie sighed; she knew that the journey would be full of questions about things that seemed like a lifetime ago. “Three nights ago.”
She watched Eric’s profile as he digested the information. He had strong features which were partially obscured by his long blonde hair; his Fangtasia t-shirt was snug over his muscular torso and wide shoulders, she noticed his smirk widen before he turned to look at her. His hand reached out and pressed on her knee, which had been bouncing up and down at a frantic rate.
“Three nights, yet you seem jumpy. Was your itch not scratched sufficiently last night? Current man not up to snuff?”
Rage coloured Sookie’s cheeks and she squeezed Eric’s hand tightly before pushing it way from her violently. “That is none of your fucking business.”
“So that’s a ‘yes’ then?” Eric grinned and slid his hand back onto Sookie’s knee. “I can take care of that you know.”
Sookie arched an eyebrow and removed his hand for the second time. “Yeah, you offered that three nights ago too.”
“You … refused?” Eric gripped the steering wheel with both hands as Sookie mock-pouted at him.
“Aww … did I hurt yer feelin’s?”
“You are obviously very faithful to your partner.” He shrugged and smiled at the Telepath.
Sookie gaped at the Vampire. She was amazed that he thought the only reason she had turned him down was that she was already involved with someone. “I don’t have a partner; I had a friend with benefits but he … he’s not around anymore.”
Eric was confused. Beside him he had a pretty woman who was, by all accounts, in need of some attention and available but she didn’t want him. He knew he was handsome and had an attractive physique, he couldn’t understand what was holding her back. Any other woman, human or not, would be very amenable to having sex with him.
“So you’re horny and single and here I am, offering you a night of passion. Are you damaged in some way?”
“Stop the fucking car right now. That’s it, I’ve had enough.”
Eric watched as Sookie unclipped her seat belt and came to a screeching halt as she opened the door. Angered he exited the car and appeared in front of her as she was trying to flag down Jason’s truck. Jason jumped out of the truck and ran to his sister.
“Are you okay Sook?”
“Apart from having some kind of disability, I’m fine.” She ground out through her teeth. “Eric seems surprised I’m not interested in a ride on the Vampire express.”
Sookie snorted and tried to pass Eric, but the Vampire wrapped his arms around her and held her in place. “We aren’t finished, not by a long shot. Get back in the car.”
Jason stood tall despite his fear and glared at Eric. “She don’t wanna ride with you means she ain’t riding with you. Let her go, we’ll come to your club and you can do your talkin’ but she rides with us.”
Sookie and Jason both heard the click of Eric’s fangs elongating, followed by a deep growl in his chest. By this point, Sookie had lost count of the amount of times she had thought she was going to die. And even though her fear consumed her, she simply closed her eyes. Eric felt her resignation through his blood and let go of her, pushing her towards her brother. He was shocked that one so young, and one so full of life, was so complacent about death. Her fear had excited him but her acceptance disturbed him.
“Park behind the club, I will wait for you at the employee entrance.”
The four friends watched Eric’s Corvette speed into the night before setting off for Shreveport. Jackie and Sookie sat in the back of the truck, waiting for the boys to get sick of silence and start talking about sports. It only took ten minutes for that to happen. Jackie turned to the Telepath and spoke in hushed tones.
“He wanted to have sex, I didn’t. His blood is … powerful, I’m horny all the bloody time but I’m no givin’ in.”
Jackie was confused. “He’s hot, he wants you, yer horny, what is it that’s holdin’ ye back? Is it Sam?”
Sookie shrugged. “Maybe, it’s only been four weeks.”
“Ye say that like he was the love o’ yer life. He wisnae, he was a regular shag when ye got lonely.” Sookie regretted filling Jackie in on her relationship with Sam and rolled her eyes at the Wolf’s comments. “Ye used Sam, so what’s so different about usin’ Eric?”
“Eric is different. Sam … had a thing for me, he wanted to settle down.”
Jackie’s eyes widened as she realised what the real problem was. “So it’s fine to use someone who has feelin’s for ye but not if they’re usin’ you right back. That’s it isn’t it?”
“No really.” Sookie huffed and played with the hem of her dress. “If I let Eric use me once … he’ll think he can do it again and again. And if what you say about fairy blood is true …”
“Bullshit. Ye told me that ye didnae want to settle down with Sam because ye wanted to get out there and have fun, how much fun are ye gonnae have in Bon Temps? Is there a steady stream o’ hot guys that ye can’t hear floodin’ through the doors o’ Merlotte’s?”
Sookie glared at her friend but pursed her lips. The remainder of the journey passed in stony silence.
Eric approached the back door of Fangtasia and threw it open to find Pam waiting on the other side. She raised an eyebrow at the fact he was alone.
“Where is she?”
“She … will be arriving with her friends. You’re … excited.”
Pam shrugged; she was excited to meet Sookie. She’d never been able to catch a fairy, she’d only seen, and smelled, them from afar. Since Eric had told her everything last night, including how tasty Sookie smelled, she had been very interested in meeting her … and other things.
“Are you saying you would turn down the opportunity for part-Fae blood?”
“Not at all.” Eric grimaced. “But she can’t be glamoured, therefore it has to be consensual and I very much doubt you’ll have better luck than me.”
Eric turned back to the parking lot where he saw Jason’s truck pulling in. He felt the faint disturbance of air as Pam disappeared, only to return seconds later wearing a mischievous grin. The Vampire checked on Sookie’s emotions, resisting from holding his head in his hands. She was sad, angry and frustrated. He groaned internally, he had been hoping her mood might have improved after spending time with her friends.
“Is she ever happy? What the hell was I thinking? I gave my blood to a manic depressive!”
Pam sniggered behind him and watched as four people walked cautiously toward the door. A blonde woman, fairly pretty with extremely nice breasts, was first to greet them. Pam guessed this creature was Sookie. She inhaled deeply, leaning forward to get closer to the Telepath.
“You smell … divine.” Pam crooned as her fangs ran out.
“Pam!” Eric glared at his child, he needed to get this meeting over with and make sure everyone knew where they stood. The way the evening was going, Sookie was likely to bolt.
“My most humble apologies.” She gestured to Jackie, Jason and Hoyt, pointing them in the direction of the bar. “Tell the bartender you are guests of Eric and Pam. We will have your Sookie back by your side in a jiffy.”
Jackie waited for a second, looking at Sookie. When the Telepath made a shooing motion with her hands, Jackie reluctantly followed Jason and Hoyt into the bar. Sookie walked behind Eric as he led her into his office, looking at the cluttered desk and sagging couch. When the door closed and Sookie heard the click of the lock she spun round to find Pam smirking at her. Pam stretched out her hand in greeting and Sookie eyed it warily, as did Eric.
The Telepath held out her hand tentatively. “Sookie Stackhouse.”
She felt the sting as soon as Pam’s hand clasped her own and pulled back instantly.
“Oh dear! I’m so clumsy!” Pam grinned at the cut the razor hidden in her palm had made. “Here, let me.”
Sookie stepped back quickly. “I don’t fuckin’ think so bitch. No need!”
“Pamela!” Eric growled and his child stopped her advance on the Telepath. “Leave us.”
Pam narrowed her eyes, angry that her plan to have her first taste of Fae had been foiled by her own maker. She hissed at him before unlocking the door and slamming it closed behind with such force that the walls shook. Eric made his way to where Sookie was standing; he didn’t have to tap into the blood tie to know that she was livid. He gazed at the red wound in her hand, the scent was over-powering and his fangs ached to lap at the cut but he knew he had to treat Sookie with kid gloves.
Sookie’s eyes widened as she was sucked into Eric’s mind. It was like being blind and trapped in a small room. She shook her head and Eric peered at her with interest before going to his private shower room to get a towel. When he returned, Sookie still looked in a state of shock and he was surprised when she allowed him to take her hand.
“I can stop the bleeding better if you allow me to feed on the blood. After we feed, we release coagulant through our saliva to help close the wounds.”
Sookie looked at the towel, at Eric, at the rapidly pooling blood in her hand and then back to Eric, focussing on his mouth. She wondered if he had set this up, Jackie had told her he would want to taste her. But then she remembered his reaction to what Pam had done and concluded he was simply an opportunist. Wasn’t everyone? With the amount of blood and the fact that the wound throbbed hotly rather than stinging, it was a deep cut that seemed to run from the base of her fingers to the base of her thumb. She couldn’t be sure until the blood flow was stemmed. Sookie thought that she may actually need to get some stitches. She looked into Eric’s eyes and nodded slowly.
“No funny stuff.”
“Of course not.” Eric smirked and bent his head to her wound.
Sookie watched as the Vampire lapped at her hand and tried to control her feelings at his close proximity. But the groan of wanting he exhaled when he swallowed his first mouthful of her blood made her weak. Eric licked and sucked at Sookie’s injury, marvelling at how rich and fragrant her life-force was. He breathed in the scent of her, her essence, her skin and her arousal. It made him giddy and hard as a rock. When there was no more blood for him to drink, he sealed her wound but continued to run his tongue further up her arm, past her wrist, then crashed his mouth to hers. He jumped back when she bit him and before he could focus on her face he felt her stinging blow as she slapped him.
“I said no funny stuff, bawbag.”
“And still she resists.” Eric smirked, knowing full well how the experience had affected her. “I can make you feel good, Sookie. Don’t you want to feel good?”
“I want to feel safe!” Sookie snatched her hand away from him and looked at it, the skin was still raw but it was no longer bleeding. She would need to take care and dress it when she had the chance. “Do you have a first aid kit? I need to keep this clean.”
Eric nodded, thinking about her comment on safety. It hadn’t occurred to him before, he had been wrapped up in his ‘recruitment’ of a Telepath, but she would need to be kept safe. Hidden, even. He went out to the bar and grabbed the green box from beside the till and returned to his office to find Sookie sitting on the couch, staring at her hand. She accepted the kit with a small smile and a nod and he leaned on his desk and watched as she smeared cream and wrapped gauze.
“I will keep you safe. You are my asset and it’s my responsibility to ensure your safety.”
“Really?” Sookie remarked dryly. “And who’s going to keep me safe from you? I’ve lost count of the number o’ times I’ve thought you were gonnae end me over the last week.”
Eric simply nodded and moved to sit next to her on the couch; he noted that she scooted further away from him when he did. “I would like to test your abilities. Would you be amenable to read a human for me right now?”
“Sure, it’s not like my night isn’t already ruined.” Sookie shrugged.
The Vampire was slightly confused by her statement but fired off a text to Pam for her to bring in Ginger. A few moments later the door to his office opened and his child entered with the ditzy waitress in tow.
“Sookie, this is Ginger.”
Ginger eyed Sookie with some apprehension but mostly jealousy. When the waitress looked at the Telepath she saw herself ten years ago and wondered if her boss would pay her more attention if she were still young and firm and unscarred by the various vampires who had fed on her. Sookie quirked an eyebrow at Ginger before turning a questioning gaze to Eric and flicking her eyes toward Pam.
“Pam is my child, we don’t have secrets and you can be assured she will keep it to herself.”
Sookie thought about that for a moment, she knew that maker and child were bound by blood until final death. Pam knowing she was part-Fae explained her earlier actions with the razor blade and Sookie was quite sure that Eric could control her. She was angry but understood his situation. “So … what am I looking for?”
“Looking for? You can’t read her?” Eric glanced at Pam and Ginger.
Sookie snorted. “She’s comin’ in loud and clear … mostly. But how am I supposed to look for information when I don’t know what information to look for?”
Eric’s brows knitted together slightly and Sookie sighed. He leaned forward on his seat and steepled his fingers together at his chin. “Ginger, how much was in the drop last night?”
“$8,000.” The waitress’ voice was clear and confident … unlike her thoughts.
Sookie frowned and got up from her seat, walking towards Ginger and placing a hand on her shoulder. “How much?”
“$8,000, are you deaf?” Ginger sneered.
“Somethin’ isn’t right, her memories o’ the till count say they counted $10,000, she’s giving us the wrong answer but she believes that it’s right.”
Pam and Eric looked at each other for a second before Eric spoke. “Thank you Sookie. Pam … if you could do the honours?”
Sookie watched with interest as Pam glamoured Ginger into thinking that she had never been in the office or seen Sookie. Once Pam and Ginger had left the office, Eric turned to Sookie.
“You just confirmed something for me. Money has been going missing and we didn’t know who was behind it. Ginger’s confusion narrows the list of suspects to Vampires.”
“Well, glad to be o’ service. Can I go and drink with my friends now?”
“The night is young, and I have more questions.”
“Yeah, you would.” Sookie huffed and threw herself back onto the couch.
“Tell me how we met.”
“Sam Merlotte was killed by a vampire, you came to ask questions. Next.”
“How did you find out other Vampires wanted to use you?”
“A Vampire came to the bar and tried to glamour me. He mentioned me bein’ a telepath and somethin’ about my cousin. Then when you came back, you were all friendly, so we cast a truth spell on ye where ye revealed that ye’d been sent to befriend me for yer boss.”
“I see. You knew my motivations weren’t innocent? That’s very reassuring … to know that you don’t trust easily and, may I say, casting a truth spell on a vampire? Very dangerous.” Sookie worried about Eric’s comment for an extremely short time. He smiled widely and leaned towards her. “You are a very interesting woman, Miss. Stackhouse.”
“Yeah, you’ve said that before too.”
Eric wondered exactly how much of the last forty-eight hours had been repetitive for her. Before he went to rest that morning, he checked the safe in his home to find he already had a file on Sookie. The Vampire considered contacting Laurie Gallagher but decided against it – the chances are he thought of that the first time he looked at the file and calling the Were-wolf again would make him look … crazy. Sookie’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
“So, what, exactly, are ye gonnae do with me? I’m a Telepath; I’ve proved I’m a Telepath, what next?”
“I would like you to sit in on business meetings, spend time in the bar looking for underage drinkers and such.” Eric narrowed his eyes as Sookie started laughing. She laughed so hard she was bent double and the only thing that shook her out of it was Eric’s growling. “The idea is amusing to you?”
“Eric, I’m a bar manager. I work well over seventy hours a week and I work every single day. I take my job seriously; it requires planning and communication skills, not to mention keeping the customers in check. What on earth makes you think I have the time or inclination to sit and bore myself listening for people who might piss you off?”
“You will be well recompensed.”
“It’s no about money. I have responsibilities. I can’t be at Merlotte’s trying to keep it afloat and be here pointin’ out drunken college kids. Expectin’ me to do both is just stupid, I’ve got no intention of hospitalisin’ myself for exhaustion.” Eric was not expecting that. “Last night I specified that I would use my Telepathy for ye now and again, which means no more than once a month.”
Eric pondered on that for a moment. At first he was annoyed that she wouldn’t be available to him whenever, but he respected that she was responsible and hard-working. Telepaths were rare, having one all to himself was exciting, but the more instances she used her ability for him – the more exposure she would get. That would mean more vampires knowing about her and, in turn, more vampires that would want to use her talents. Her safety depended on her anonymity, the less hidden she was – the more danger she was in.
“No more than once a month, on one condition.”
Sookie groaned and slumped in her seat. “And what would that be?”
In a flash Eric had her pinned to the arm of the couch, his body covered hers and his eyes shone with desire as he looked into Sookie’s eyes. “Yield to me, Sookie.”