When I arrived at Sookie’s the following night, she wasn’t there. She’d left a message on the voice mail at Fangtasia, simultaneously yelling at me and thanking me for her new door. She made no mention of her work schedule in the message. The new door was nice. Bobby did an excellent job picking one out, based on the picture I’d sent him. It was appropriately distressed and had dual deadbolts. Of course, the door was locked.
I went around to the back door and stopped short when I saw the coat soaking in the wash tub. I leaned down closer to the water. It was just barely pink and I could smell a faint trace of blood. Had she been injured while rescuing her brother? I shook that thought away, figuring the Shifter would have mentioned it to me when he called. Either that, or Sookie would have said so in her message. She’d mentioned Jason’s return, and asked that I thank Pam for her assistance in locating him.
A closer look at the water revealed something else. I picked up one of the bits floating on the surface and looked at it carefully. It was squishy, for lack of a better word, after soaking in water for so long. It took me a moment to identify it as brain matter. What the hell was Sookie doing with a bloody coat with brain matter on it? Was this part of the witch war, or had something else happened?
I let myself into the house (the door was foolishly unlocked), and was relieved to discover she hadn’t rescinded my invitation. Her check was in my pocket. I paused while I considered the best place to leave it for her. There were magnets on her fridge, but I didn’t want it to be that obvious, just in case someone else happened to drop in while she was out. I kept the check in my pocket while I moved from room to room, hoping for some sort of trigger to unlock my missing memories.
From kitchen, to dining room, to living room, to bedroom I went. Not a single memory came into focus. My scent was still in Sookie’s room, although she had changed her sheets since my departure the day before. I considered laying down on her bed for a few minutes, but decided against it. Instead, I went across the hall to the spare bedroom. The closet was put back the way it belonged. My scent was especially strong in that particular room.
The notebook I’d been holding was exactly where I’d stashed it. I was about to flip through it when I heard a car coming up the driveway. I quickly made my way out of the house, and out the back door. I hid in the treeline for a few moments, watching as Sookie made her way from her crappy car to the back of the house. I tucked the notebook into the waistband of my jeans in the back, then made sure it was covered over with my t-shirt and leather jacket. A short flight later, and I was walking up the front steps to knock on Sookie’s new door.
When she flung the door open, she didn’t seem the least bit surprised to see me. She did, however, seem sad and tired. There was longing in her blood. I felt the urge to wrap her in a hug, but I pushed it away. Hugs were for people who had feelings, and I hated having feelings. Yet, I knew I had them for her.
“Eric,” she stepped back to let me inside. “Thank you for knocking, and not just barging in.”
If her senses were keener, she would know I had already been in the house. I wanted to lecture her about her lax security, but decided against it. I stepped inside and declined her offer of a True Blood. She showed me to the kitchen, then excused herself to go change clothes. When she returned, she was dressed in a pair of flannel pajama pants that were too large on her and rolled at the hips. Her shirt hung to about mid-thigh and the ponytail she’d been wearing was gone, her hair sprawling down her back in thick waves the same shade of blonde as my own.
“What brings you here this evening, Eric?” Sookie asked me.
“I have something that belongs to you,” I reached into the inner breast pocket of my jacket, and presented the check to her.
She took a look at the amount and her eyes were as wide as saucers. “Eric, this is too much.”
“On the contrary, it’s not enough, but I know any more than this and you would find it insulting.”
She debated with herself for a moment before deciding to be gracious. “Thank you, Eric.”
“You’ll have to pay taxes on it, of course.”
“Yes, I’m sure I will. Are you sure I can’t get you a blood?” she bit her bottom lip.
“No, thank you.”
“Was this the only reason you came?”she held up the check.
“Not quite. First, I wanted you to know Hallow is dead. I tried to get some information out of her about the spell she used, but Pam had gotten as much out of her as we were going to get. Are you sure I wasn’t able to tell you anything about the spell?”
“No, I’m sorry, Eric. Believe me, I would like to know just as much as you why you ended up on Hummingbird Road. It seems a little too coincidental, don’t you think?”
“I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t like having all of these questions hanging over my head, Sookie. Up until a few days ago, I had complete and total recall of my memory. It’s one of my gifts, in addition to flying. I can remember entire conversations I’ve had with people back in the 1300s when I was living in rural Italy, but I can’t remember what we did Tuesday night. It’s very frustrating for me.” Her blush at the mention of Tuesday night made me curious. “What did we do Tuesday night?”
There was embarrassment in her blood, along with a pang of lust. I was tempted to reveal the notebook to her, but I wouldn’t until I’d had the chance to read it.
“Uh, Tuesday? Tuesday…” she was taking too long on purpose.
“Alright, if you won’t answer that, then answer me this: why is there a bloody coat with bits of brain matter out on the service porch?”
Sookie’s eyes went wide and I felt her panic. “Brain matter?”
“Yes, brain matter.”
“Oh, well, see, what happened was-” the doorbell rang, saving her from having to weave a half truth. “Excuse me a moment.”
I stayed where I was in the kitchen and listened to her talk to a Were named Amanda, who was asking questions about Debbie Pelt, of all people. That venomous bitch had shoved Sookie into the trunk of a car with a starving, wounded vampire. Sookie had never said so outright, but Bill raped her in the back of that car. I should have ended him then. Hell, I should have ended him decades ago when our paths first crossed in Chicago and he was still in the clutches of his maker. The restitution I would have paid to Lorena would have been worth it.
Debbie’s car had been discovered just off the highway, but Debbie, herself, was still missing. If Sookie had been nervous before, she was panicking now. She let Amanda walk around the house, and she stopped short when she got to the kitchen.
“Sheriff, I didn’t expect I would find you here.” Amanda stared me down, looking fairly unimpressed.
“Sookie and I were just discussing her compensation for her work in this matter.” I glared at the Were.
The brief look of disgust on her face told me she had something to say, but Amanda wisely bit her tongue. She asked a few questions about whether or not I’d seen Debbie Pelt. It was a ridiculous line of questioning.
“What Were is going to spend time in a vampire bar for kicks, I think is the human expression?”
“We’re just trying to figure out where she’s gone. Her family is very concerned for her safety.” Amanda explained.
“She was abjured,” Sookie offered, getting a growl from Amanda. “Doesn’t that mean-”
“It means we’re through here.” I cut Sookie off and stared at Amanda. “Sookie, do you know where Debbie is?”
“No,” Sookie said with conviction. She was telling the truth. I could feel it in her blood, but there was also guilt there.
“She’s telling the truth. It’s in the blood.”
Amanda’s eyes blazed, but she turned on her heel and showed herself out. I waited until I knew the Were was gone before getting back to my line of questioning before we were so rudely interrupted.
“So, Sookie, you were just about to tell me why I found brain matter with your coat before the Were came and fouled up your house with her stench,” I leaned toward her. “And don’t lie to me. I’ll know if you’re being deceptive.” I put a little threat in my voice.
I watched the wheels turn in Sookie’s head. I could feel her weighing her options. Whatever she was concealing had to be big. I knew Sookie was cautious, at times, and rightfully so. I could understand playing her card close to her vest. I did it all the time. It was important to know which bits to keep to yourself, and what to reveal. Only in this instance, I had a feeling whatever she was holding back included me in some capacity, and I damn well wanted to know what I’d done.
“After the witch war, we came back here. Debbie was waiting for me. She wasn’t expecting you to be here, too. She had a gun. You jumped in front of me before the bullet got me. She would have shot me in the head, but you took it in the chest instead.” Sookie explained to me. She was very scared, and fidgeting accordingly in her seat.
“And then what?”
Sookie rose from her seat and went to the water heater near the door. She reached behind it to reveal a shotgun. “She was stunned to see you on the floor, coughing up blood. Before I knew what was happening, I fired the gun. I killed her.”
Sookie’s heartbeat echoed all around me. She was absolutely terrified, although I didn’t know what she was so scared of.
“Do you think I would turn you in to the police, Sookie?” I asked her out of pure curiosity.
“You? Involve human police in Supernatural business?” she snorted. “No, Eric, calling the police was actually the furthest thing from my mind.”
“Then why are you so scared?”
“Because you have a tendency to keep score of debts. Getting you shot is probably a pretty big debt.”
“Did you arrange to have Debbie here?”
“Of course not!”
“And when she shot me, you fired back, yes?”
“Yes! It was either kill or be killed. She wasn’t going to stop at you. She was here to kill me.”
“So then you defended yourself against a deranged woman who broke into your home, which explains the door, and then tried to kill you, only to shoot a vampire instead. Never mind this wasn’t her first attempt at killing you. You have a history with her. Even if I wanted to call the police, which I don’t, I don’t see how there could be a crime committed on your end.” I stood up and began to pace, which made Sookie nervous. “Except, of course, for one thing.”
“What?” she squeaked.
“Where’s the body, Sookie?”
She gulped and said, “I don’t know.”
Again, she was telling the truth, but there was guilt mixed in with her confession.
“If she was dead, she didn’t just disappear on her own.”
“No, she didn’t.”
“So what happened to her, Sookie?” I waited for her to speak, and got those same feelings from her that she’d had the last time I confronted her in her kitchen for information. “Sookie, calm down. I give you my word I won’t hurt you.”
Icy blue eyes stared at me. “No, you’ll just hold this over my head until the end of time.”
“Why would I do that? We both know your curiosity gets the better of you when trouble arises.” I smirked at her, which only furthered the frustration in her stare.
“We cleaned up the kitchen together, and then you disposed of her body. I don’t know what you did with it, or where you put it. You put her in a trash bag, and left. Then you moved her car away from my property.” Sookie confessed.
I thought it over a moment. Even if the Weres had the ability to catch my scent on the car, they obviously had no evidence Debbie had been here. They could confront me with Debbie’s death, if they wanted to, but they would have one hell of a time disputing Sookie’s story of self-defense. Especially considering she’d been abjured by the pack.
“And you thought I would use this information against you?” I sat down once again, the need to intimidate her had passed.
“You sat in that very same chair a few months ago and threatened to torture me, and that was just to get information.”
“Sookie, disposing of the body wasn’t the optimal solution, but it was what was necessary at the time. I have no intention of holding this over your head. You did the best you could, and you did keep your end of the bargain. You defended me the best way you could. I can tell by your guilt, this isn’t easy for you.”
“Oh, that bitch had it coming,” she said venomously. “But I do feel badly for her family. They should be able to bury her and have a funeral. And Alcide…”
“Did he abjure her?”
“In the middle of Pam’s living room when she confessed to taking part in Bill’s torture and then pushing me into the trunk of the car. Bill ra-” she stopped short of saying what she’d never been able to say to me. “I was attacked because of her. She cheated on Alcide for years and treated him like shit, but she blames me for him not fighting to get her back. She helped torture someone I cared about. She was a selfish person who only cared about herself. Alcide finally got fed up with her, but that’s my fault, too. I’m sorry I took a life, but I’m not sorry she’s dead.”
“She’s lucky she’s dead,” I growled quietly. “You have my word you will not be held accountable for this, Sookie. In our world, what happened was vengeance. She got what was coming to her.” I paused after that before switching topics. “How is your brother doing?”
“He was bitten several times by a Werepanther,” Sookie sighed and let her head sink into her hands. “He’s alive.”
“You know what it means that he’s been bitten, yes?”
“Yes, I know what it means. Calvin has given his word to help Jason through the transition if he goes through the change next month.”
I nodded, happy to hear the pack was going to take responsibility for him. “Good.”
Sookie snorted and said, “There’s nothing good about it, Eric. If you think I can be brash and irresponsible with my personal safety, Jason is… well, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. He’ll put himself in a dangerous situation just to impress a pretty girl if he thinks it’ll get him somewhere.”
It was amusing to hear her speak of her brother like she did, considering some of her own choices. However, I didn’t think she’d taken the risks she had to impress anyone. She’d done it because she either thought she had no choice in the matter, or because she thought she was doing the right thing. The fact that the reward wasn’t usually as big as the risk didn’t seem to matter to her. She and her brother had that in common.
“Not to mention, Jason isn’t very well educated on supernatural matters.”
“He will be,” I laughed quietly. “He will be expected to follow pack rules. Punishment for breaking their traditions is severe.”
“And if he opts not to remain part of the pack?”
“He’s still subject to Supernatural law, Sookie. Whether or not he chooses to run with a pack is up to him, but he will be held accountable to their ways just as much as he’s bound by human law. I don’t think I need to remind you how differently the two-natured handle things.”
“No, you don’t,” she gritted her teeth.
“The Were who bit Jason, is he-”
“Dead? I don’t know. Sam said that would most likely be the punishment.” Sookie tried not to sound too affected by it.
“Sookie, it’s human instinct to want vengeance.”
“That doesn’t make it right.”
“But we don’t play by human rules.” I reminded her. “Thinking like a human in a world that is anything but will get you killed.”
“So is that why you tricked me into drinking your blood in Dallas?” she snickered and looked away.
“We’re back to that again?”
“I’m still mad at you for it.” she folded her arms like a petulant child.
“If I had explained to you my reasons, would you have agreed?” We both knew the answer to that. “You may think I don’t have your interests at heart when I act, and I am only doing things to get my way, but I assure, I would never put you in danger intentionally.”
“Because you have feelings, right?”
I growled at her, remembering the night she was staked and the argument we’d had afterward. Stubborn woman. “You say that bitterly, my dearest one, as if you’re disappointed I don’t act on those feelings.”
“Why would you when you can just use your blood to control me?” she snapped at me.
In a flash I was hovering over her. “Never, in all my many, many years have I forced myself on a woman, Sookie.”
“Until Dallas,” her answer was smug, her eyes cold.
“You liken what I did to rape, is that it?” I’d never considered it that way. I suddenly felt disgusted with myself. I knew what rape was. I’d witnessed it as a human while on raids with my tribe. I’d suffered it at the hands of my maker as a young vampire. “You believe I raped you.” I staggered back from her.
“Eric,” she stood up quickly, remorse coursing through her.
“I will go now, Sookie.” I felt the wire of the notebook tucked in my pants digging into my back.
“Eric, wait,” she reached for my arm.
“There are many things we must discuss, Sookie, but I can see you aren’t going to tell me what I want to know,” I leaned into her. When I got close, she flinched a little and held her breath. “But I’ll be back, dear one. This isn’t over.”