Chapter 10 – I’ll Stick Around
I checked my watch for what seemed like the hundredth time, it was only 9.30, still plenty of time. Ricardo came and took my coffee cup away and asked if I wanted another, I politely declined, even though it was really good coffee I didn’t want to be peeing all night. I decided to spend the time playing with my new phone, it had a really cool game on it and I was just getting a super high score when a shadow fell across the table.
“Glad you were able to keep yourself occupied.” I looked up at a smirking Eric, Lord he was handsome! His eyes were twinkling with mischief as he sat down across the table from me. I tucked my phone back in my purse and smiled at him
“Hi Eric! I’m so glad you could help me out here tonight, it’s very lucky you were available otherwise … well I guess Gervaise might have come for me … wait, why didn’t Gervaise come for me?”
“When her Majesty called him he was … busy. She is rather … perturbed at his disregard for the situation you were put in.”
“Oh. Well, I guess I should get this over with. You only need to take me in so I can let him know I’m here and then make sure I get in a cab or whatever then the rest of your night is yours!”
“We will check in with Gervaise, then speak of Compton’s behaviour, after that I would very much like to spend some more time getting to know you better.” The way he licked his lips gave me a funny feeling in my toes
“Uh … um … okay. I heard … well Bill told me that private clubs are …”
“If that’s how you would describe it.” Personally the thought of having sex and having vampires drink my blood in front of an audience could be described as disgusting rather than ‘more open’. “I’m not interested in seeing or hearing and especially not partaking in anything like that so I’ll just be quickly meeting with Gervaise and then getting back out.”
He nodded “I understand you are more sensitive than most humans who involve themselves with our kind, however clubs like Privilege are quite common and very popular with younger vampires. I doubt this will be the last time you will have to enter such an establishment.”
“Well, I’d still rather that it occurs as little as possible.”
“Of course. Now, you are wearing a scarf. I assume that it has Compton’s scent.”
“Oh!” I didn’t even think of that! I only have one scarf “Yes he did, will I have to get rid of it?”
“I would think so. Going into Privilege with one vampire and smelling like another would be … very bad for you reputation.”
I took the scarf off and considered putting it in my purse but before I could, Eric had plucked it out of my hand and thrown it in the trash. I looked at him, my mouth dropping open, my brain desperately trying to find the right words to say
“Looks like we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way Miss Stackhouse.”
Okay that really shouldn’t have made me warm in my private places but it did. He stood and offered me his hand, which I accepted shakily. I saw his nostrils flare as I got closer to him and he looked at me with as much shock as I guess a vampire can muster
“My Sookie. You have been a busy girl!”
Work brain, work! “Uh … it’s been a wild few days since I saw you, that’s for sure!”
He led me out of the deli, looking for something, I’m not sure what. I was pulled into an alleyway, where once again Eric was looking intently at his surroundings. He took both my hands and fastened them around his neck before taking my waist in his hands and smirking at me. I was a little lost in his eyes, knowing that he’d be rubbing against me at any time and it took a second or two to realise that my feet weren’t on the ground anymore!
“What are you doing?”
“Taking us somewhere more private.”
I closed my eyes until I felt my feet hit something solid and opened them to find we were on a rooftop. My heart was pounding in my chest as I looked back into his eyes, he kept one hand gripping my hip and the other moved upwards to cup the back of my head as his mouth moved closer to mine. I felt like I was choking, I could hardly breathe with the anticipation, my ears were ringing as his lips brushed softly against my own before moving down to my neck. Oh God! Did he just lick my neck? I could feel the rough texture of his stubble against the juncture between my neck and shoulder, then I felt the scrape of his fangs against my soft skin
“Okay! That’s quite enough for one night Mister!” I tried to get out of his grasp but he held me tight. When I looked up at his face he was smiling broadly.
“I wasn’t going to bite you Sookie, it’s just a struggle to control them with your scent.”
“Can we go? I just want to get this check in over and done with. We’re probably late as it is!”
He nodded and picked me up bridal style slowly floating back into the alley next to the deli. Eric put me down and I fixed my rumpled shirt before he took my hand once again and led me across the street to Gervaise Private Club. The bouncers nodded respectfully at Eric and one of them grinned widely at me, running his fangs down and making me shudder. Eric must have felt me shake as he growled at the scary vampire and pulled me closer, wrapping an arm around my waist.
Inside the club I thought it wasn’t as bad as I’d first suspected. It just seemed to be vampires and humans milling around chatting and drinking, then we went through an archway into a larger room with beds in the corners … occupied beds at that! I cupped a hand around my eyes to reduce my field of vision but in front wasn’t much better. The humans were enjoying being fed from everywhere I looked, although I had been partly prepared for it to be shocking, it was different actually seeing it with my own eyes rather than experience the visions from the minds of the donors. I looked up at Eric, pleading him with my eyes to just find Gervaise and get me the hell out of here! The area Sherriff was in a booth in the corner with a half naked woman on either side of him. I saw a flash of anger in Eric’s eyes as we approached
“I’m so glad you put your whore’s comfort above that of the Queen’s prized asset Gervaise.”
“No need to be like that old friend! She’s a big girl, she can look after herself.” He looked at me, I felt greasy with just his eyes scanning me “You’re not uncomfortable are you sweetheart?”
I didn’t know what to say to that, I was very, very uncomfortable but if I said it out loud they’d just humiliate me further, luckily Eric was able to speak when I couldn’t
“You will not address Miss Stackhouse in such a lascivious manner. You will dismiss your … companions, deal with the paperwork regarding Miss Stackhouse’s stay in your area and then we will be leaving.”
“Fine, fine. Come back to the office.” Both of the women were thinking about how small-town and uptight I looked. One of them wondered if Gervaise would let her watch while he broke me in. I felt sick.
He slithered out of the booth and kissed one of the women passionately while thrusting his hand down the front of her panties. I felt so embarrassed and humiliated and … innocent, I shouldn’t be ashamed to be innocent dammit! Eric turned my head towards his chest and I heard the girls laughing at me as I was blindly guided down a corridor and Eric gently pushed me into a room and onto a sofa. Once he knew I was settled he turned on the Sherriff and pinned him against the wall by his neck.
“That was uncalled for Sherriff. Due to your neglect I have been requested to protect the Queen’s asset, if that requires protecting her from you then so be it!” Eric let him go and Gervaise wandered around to sit as his desk as Eric sprawled across the remaining space on the sofa.
“I was just trying to have a little fun Northman.”
“Well I didn’t think it was funny!” possibly the most obvious statement I could ever make “I just want to sign whatever forms you need me to and get out of here.”
“Miss Stackhouse, did you think that maybe you’ll need to get used to this kind of behaviour? We are Vampire; we won’t hide who we are and what we enjoy just because the Queen’s telepath is in town! Besides, from what I hear you’ll be having all sorts of fun when you get back to the compound!”
Eric narrowed his eyes, obviously he hadn’t been informed of the high stakes betting at my expense “Well it’s a shame they’re getting worked up over nothing, the forms please.”
“Nothing? Last night I heard you had a queue of 15 waiting for you at the palace!” Eric turned to look at me with mild distaste
“They’re waiting for something that no longer exists. The bets on who would take my virginity are null and void.” I stood and slapped both of my hands on the edge of his desk “The forms Sherriff. Now.”
As Gervaise busied himself in his desk I caught Eric’s eye again, he seemed sad. When I turned back around there were the 3 basic forms I had signed at Fangtasia, I filled out one with the address of the hotel, signed the one to waive Gervaise protection if I left the area and picked up the acceptance of the Sherriff’s claim form and showed it to Eric, he shook his head, I took that to mean he would be providing me with that protection seeing as we would both be in the area tomorrow night. I threw the unsigned form back at Gervaise and nodded to Eric to get me out of there.
When we got outside, I swear the air in down town Baton Rouge had never smelled so sweet! Eric held on to me as we walked around a corner but as soon as we were out of sight of the doormen I unwrapped myself from him and sank down to my knees against a wall sobbing. Eric hunkered down next to me and put a hand on my shoulder
“I’m sorry you had to see Gervaise displaying his most hedonistic behaviour, although the Queen hasn’t given out any orders regarding how we should act around you, it would have been more respectful of him to take into account the clauses of your contract which make it clear you aren’t familiar with these situations.”
“Thank you Eric.” I sniffed and rooted around my purse for a tissue, blowing my nose loudly “I … I guess I just got used to the way everyone acted around me in New Orleans and you and Pam have been so nice to me … I guess I know about stuff like this, I see it all the time from the donors, but I just wasn’t quite prepared for it to be so … so …”
He nodded and waited for my sniffles to subside before offering his hand again and leading me to his car. Eric held the door open for me and waited until I was buckled up before starting the engine and asking me where I would like to go.
“Somewhere quiet, I still haven’t told you about Bill.”
“Indeed. I would also like you to explain the comments Gervaise made about your return to New Orleans. We are staying in the same hotel, perhaps we could speak in your room?”
I remembered Bill’s reaction to the smells in my room and felt a chill climbing up my spine “No. Your room would be fine.” He quirked an eyebrow “Uh … what I mean is … I don’t have any uh refreshments in my room that you would be able to have so …”
“Of course, blood. Very well, my room it is then.” A smirk was playing at his full lips, yeah, he saw right through that one.
Parking for hotel guests was in a structure attached to the rear of the building and we entered through a back door next to the elevators. I was glad of this because I’d hate to imagine how terrible I looked and the reception staff already had a low opinion of me from the time I’d been here. As the elevator slowly made its way to the top floor I felt myself becoming more uncomfortable under Eric’s gaze. Why he was so interested in Bill and what Gervaise said was anyone’s guess, I just wanted to tell him what he wanted to know and curl up under the covers in my room until I had to read for the Sherriff the next night. Even then I wouldn’t be able to escape my indiscretions, after all, it was in that bed I made my life more complicated and less complicated at the same time. Eric slid the key card into the slot on the door and let it swing open, indicating for me to enter first, I scurried over to a small chair and perched on the edge.
“So, firstly, what happened with Bill earlier? The Queen was a little vague.”
“Well, he was real jumpy the whole time and he told me that he might have to leave me in the club to go to a meeting. Then when we got to the club he told me what went on in there and we argued a little. He said the name ‘Lorena’ and then he just … left. I don’t know who Lorena is but she’s sure got him in a bunch of trouble I would guess.”
“Lorena is Bill Compton’s maker. When your maker calls you have to go, it’s really not Bill’s fault, it’s a compulsion. If anyone is in trouble I would say it was Lorena, despite her child being employed directly by a monarch she still called him and forced him to abandon his project.”
“Maybe she didn’t know.” He looked at me like I’d just asked him to put on a pink bra and hula dance for me
“The grapevine in the Vampire world is rampant – she knew.”
“So on to other things. From what Gervaise mentioned I can gather that there has been some sort of furore surrounding your … virtue, which as I detected through your scent earlier, is no longer an issue.”
“You gathered correctly. That’s why I didn’t go to check in with Gervaise last night, it’s a whole sordid mess and I’d rather put it all behind me if you don’t mind.”
“You didn’t check in with the Sherriff because you were losing your virginity?”
“What? No!” I sighed and saw Eric’s face was set in an obvious ‘you’re not getting out of here until you tell me everything’ expression. “Fine! When I got back to New Orleans I decided to get better acquainted with my boyfriend only to find that he’s very loyal to his pack and had not been monogamous while waiting for me to … get used to the more physical side of our relationship.”
He looked bored but nodded for me to continue “I was … hurt, so I came to Baton Rouge to spend time with the DA’s while I waited on a new guard to be available …”
“He was your security guard?”
“Yes.” Now he looked interested “So I was telling Lisa, y’know Lucy Talbot – she’s Gervaise DA – and she spoke to me about … the issue and made a comment about guys taking bets on who would get there first.”
“That seems very … juvenile.”
“It is and it’s offensive too! Anyway, Bill came in and basically said that, yeah, there was a pool going on who would ‘do’ me first and I got all grrr and Lucy took me out and we got really drunk and I woke up the next day not a virgin!”
“Was it consensual?”
“Oh yes, completely. It took me a while to remember things in the morning but I was totally involved in the decision.”
“Good. I’d have to kill Bobby otherwise.” Mack truck in the face, recover quick Sookie!
“WHAT! I mean, I don’t know what you mean.”
“Oh Sookie!” He laughed, he’s not angry! Was he just kidding? “I noticed you smelled of him earlier and the fact you made up some ridiculous excuse to prevent me from going into your room – the epicentre of the action I presume – just completed the puzzle. That and the fact he was extremely flustered when I mentioned your evening out together.”
“He … you can’t tell him you know, he’s scared in case you find out.”
“Hmm … well I can see his point, however he’s misguided. I will not deny that I have an interest in you sexually but I’m in no position to reprimand or punish anyone for being in the right place at the right time. As long as he was respectful and ensured your enjoyment I have no problem.”
“Then there’s definitely no problem.” Y’know those moments you wish you had a time machine to go back and stop yourself from saying things? He just raised an eyebrow and smiled “Okay! So now we’ve had an extremely awkward chat about my sex life or lack thereof and you’ve made me aware of your … uh … interest, I’ll get going!”
“Sookie.” I cringed on my way to the door and turned to look at him “I fear that your inexperience will make your working with vampires very uncomfortable. I understand that Sophie-Ann rescued you and she is natural in wanting to keep you to herself but you are in a gilded cage. Despite how nice your surroundings and treatment are – you still aren’t experiencing the full world.”
“I hadn’t actually thought about that but after tonight I suppose you’re right. Maybe I should speak to the Queen about visiting Bon Temps more often?”
“I would always be pleased to see you in my area Sookie. You should seek independence; I think you’ll find it suits you.”
“Thank you Eric. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night for my reading at the bar?”
“Yes. Shall we meet in the foyer at 9pm?”
“That’s fine. I’ll see you then.”
I turned to face the door and took a step forward to find Eric in front of me; I was so shocked at the speed of his movements I just stood there as he pulled my head towards him and kissed me. Wow what a kiss it was! I could feel it in my eyebrows! It just went on for the most wonderfully long time before he let my lips go and I could breathe. He opened the door for me and guided me out with a hand lightly at my back
“Until tomorrow Sookie.”
I tried to say goodbye but I think it just came out as an incoherent mumble. I shambled back to the elevators and had thankfully recovered somewhat by the time I closed the door to my room. Oh my!
I slept very late the next day; it was almost 3 before I was roused by my phone. It was Lucy wanting to know if I checked in with the Sherriff okay, there followed an awkward moment where I wondered whether to say ‘it was fine’ or whether to tell the truth
“To be honest Lucy, it was highly uncomfortable. I had to check in at Privilege …”
“Oh no Sookie! I’m so sorry! That place is … just far too intense for … well … someone with your … uh …”
“Yes. So did you recover from Friday night okay? I was like hell yesterday!”
“I noticed when I called you. I had some … recovery to do I guess.”
“Hey did Bobby get you back okay? I know he and Stephen were going to meet for breakfast but Bobby didn’t turn up.”
“He made sure I was back in my room but I didn’t see him again after he left me.” That was the truth, so help me God.
“He sent me a text saying he had a great time so he must be okay right?”
“I’m sure he’s fine Lucy. I’m gonna grab some breakfast and chill until I meet Eric tonight.”
“Eric? What happened to Bill? Not that I’d take Mr. Morose over the blonde Adonis any day but …”
“Bill had to go somewhere unexpectedly so Eric is taking over his protection of me.”
“Well lucky you doll face! If I don’t see you before you go, I’ll call you in a week or so, maybe have a night just us girls huh?”
“Sure thing Lucy.”
I dressed quickly as I was famished, opened my door and waved to my Were, then went to the coffee shop of more of their yummy pastries. When I was done I still had hours before I had to meet Eric so I decided to take a stroll around the stores nearby, I didn’t have a great deal of money left but I would get paid again in just over a week so my situation wasn’t completely dire. Once I’d bored of being frugal I removed myself from temptation and decided to surf the internet on my laptop on my room.
Soon it was 7pm and I decided to shower, change and get something else to eat. If I was going to a tourist bar something black would suffice, I picked out jeans and a nice top to wear with my heels. I really needed to expand my footwear collection! Once again the Were followed me to a small Italian place which seemed fairly informal and I had some amazing ravioli. I checked my watch, plenty of time to wander back to the hotel and meet Eric. Just as I was leaving the restaurant, the Were came over and took my arm
“There are two vampires who have been watching you in the restaurant; they aren’t part of the area team. Are you meeting your night guard soon?”
“Yes, in the foyer at 9pm.”
“Good. I’ll wait with you until he arrives.”
We hurried back to the hotel where we found Eric waiting in a chair next to the reception reading a magazine. The Were filled Eric in on what he had noticed, and also that the two vampires he’d seen nosing around were now nowhere to be seen. Eric nodded to him and offered his arm to me, taking me out the back door to his car. Once we were inside and buckled in I decided I’d like to be kept in the loop
“So what do you think those vampires wanted?”
“For my gift?” he nodded “But why wouldn’t their boss just ask the Queen to borrow me?”
“Because then they’d have to pay her for your time. If they kidnap you they get a telepath, blood and sex without spending a dime.”
I blanched “That’s horrible! I can see why the Queen likes me to be escorted at all times though. I guess she’d be pretty pissed to lose me when she’s invested so much.”
“Now you’re thinking like a vampire Sookie.” He grinned at me and pressed a little harder on the gas, before I knew it we were outside what looked like a gothic funhouse
“Yes. Gervaise always had a flair for the dramatic.”
“I prefer Fangtasia, at least it has humour.”
He nestled a hand at my lower back and ushered me inside. It was awful, all of the waitresses looked like Sally from ‘The Nightmare before Christmas’ and I’m pretty sure the cobwebs in the corners were actually real. The seats were hard black plastic and the tables were dirty and cigarette scarred. Eric pointed to a table near the dance floor and I nodded, he beckoned a waitress over as we sat
“What can I tempt one of the dark ones with tonight?” Holy crap, I hope they get paid a lot to say stuff like that!
“I will take a Royalty Blend and …” Eric looked at me
“Oh! A ginger ale thanks!” She sneered at me, wondering what the hell such a gorgeous vamp was doing here with a plain Jane. That stung a little. She walked off putting so much sway in her hips she almost lost balance.
“Are you okay Sookie?” Eric placed a hand over mine on the table, which, again, was surprisingly affectionate for a vamp.
“I’ll be fine. I can read some of the staff from here but I’ll need to move around to get everyone so you might need to dance with me at some point.”
“Not a problem.”
I spotted Gervaise in a corner, with another scantily clad woman. I don’t get it, he doesn’t seem like a nice guy, he’s not particularly handsome yet he has girls hanging off him like Brad Pitt without a wedding ring. The Sherriff came over to the table, followed by his female du jour, and greeted Eric and I.
“Miss Stackhouse, Northman. Is there anything you need?”
“No thanks Sherriff, I’ll be just fine right here.”
“May I present Carla, my pet.”
I shook her hand lightly; she’d been glamoured so many times I’m surprised she still had basic motor function. Just then I saw Eric’s eyes flick back towards the entrance.
“Have those two vampires checked in with you yet Gervaise?”
“Yes, arrived last night from Las Vegas, just passing through apparently. Say they’ll be leaving tomorrow night.”
Gervaise nodded and they made a silent, intense eye contact mojo where it seemed they agreed to keep an eye on them. Eric explained that Las Vegas was ruled by a very ambitious vampire named Felipe De Castro, apparently he was quite willing to stoop to great depths to have more power. That made me very nervous, but the two visitors were just milling around, chatting with fangbangers.
After 2 hours they left. Eric came to the conclusion that it was a scout mission, checking out what I looked like, what my security detail was like, if I had a set schedule. Scary stuff. By the time the bar was closing I’d discovered three waitresses dipping the till, a dancer was being blackmailed by the Fellowship into giving them information, and 4 of the regular fangbangers were actually underage. Gervaise was not happy, so in revenge for his treatment last night, Eric and I skipped out and left him to deal with it on his own.
Eric was still a little concerned about those Las Vegas vamps and went driving around for a good while before heading back to the hotel in case we were being followed. We just chatted about mundane things while we travelled what I see in people’s minds, what kind of gifts Eric gets sent in the mail from crazy fans. We had agreed that he would drive me back to New Orleans the next night and set a time to meet up. Since he already knew about Bobby, I didn’t see the harm in agreeing when he asked to walk me to my door. I had just put my card in the slot when he spun me round and smothered my mouth with his own. God he could kiss! If I never ever kiss another man, I’ll be okay with that, his kisses were just. That. Good. When he let me breathe I muttered something about not being ready, I felt like kicking myself after saying it, because there were parts of my body that were very ready, unfortunately my brain wasn’t one of them. He took my face in his hands and looked me right in the eye
And with that parting shot, he walked away from me.