Chapter 22

I was no better than the rest of the patrons in the bar when Eric walked in. I stood there frozen, completely taken aback by his sudden appearance. It shouldn’t have been surprising that he would just turn up like that since he was so good at keeping me off balance, but I wasn’t expecting him to show up at my work. What snapped everyone out of their trance was the deep, guttural growl that came from Sam a split second before he leapt over the counter and lunged at Eric.

“Sam!” I shouted, and made a run for it, but Eric was more than capable of defending himself.

He caught Sam by the neck and held him at arms’ length. Sam snarled and was making all sorts of noises. He sounded like an angry dog, while Eric stood there calmly, as if it was normal for a perfect stranger to be attacking him like that.

“Sam, what the hell is wrong with you?” I demanded.

It wasn’t at all like Sam to go on the offensive like that without being pushed into it. There were times when guys would have too much to drink and end up throwing punches at each other, leaving Sam no choice but to get involved so they didn’t wreck his bar, but this was different. This attack was completely unprovoked.

Thankfully a few other guys, including my brother, came forward to pull Sam back.

“You,” Sam gasped for breath while he pointed at Eric, “are not welcome in my bar!”

“Sam!” I stared at him.

“It’s okay, Sookie,” Eric said calmly.

“Out! Now!” Sam ordered.

“Whoa, Sam, chill out,” Jason said. “The guy doesn’t look like he’s here to cause any trouble.”

“Sook, you didn’t tell me you were dating this Eric,” Sam stared at me.

“I didn’t think I needed to.” I looked back and forth between my boyfriend and my boss. “How do y’all know each other anyway?”

I was certain Sam wasn’t a member at The Playground. If Sam was, Eric would have told me already since he knew every single member of the club personally. I was willing to bet that I probably wouldn’t have been accepted as a member if Sam had been accepted before me. There was definitely at least one piece of the puzzle I was missing, and I was determined to find out what the fuck it was.

“Business,” Eric said simply.

There had to be something more to it than that in order for Sam to have such a strong reaction.

“It ain’t important, chér,” Sam said.

Oh it was important. There was something going on between the two of them that had to be pretty serious if Sam went on the attack like that. I wanted an explanation but I was sure I wouldn’t get it in the middle of the bar.

“Out,” Sam said in as lethal a tone as I’d ever heard him use.

Eric smirked but then leaned forward, with his eyes still on Sam, and kissed my forehead. Sam growled like an angry pitbull.

“Come on, Eric, I’ll walk you out,” I offered, thinking it was best to give Sam the chance to cool off.

I walked out of the bar with Eric and followed him to his fancy sports car. He leaned against the hood and folded his arms over his broad chest with a smirk plastered on his face. I didn’t know if I wanted to kiss him or smack him at the moment. Really I wasn’t angry at Eric. He hadn’t done anything wrong. All he’d done is come visit his girlfriend at work and there was nothing wrong with that.

“So what’s with you and Sam? He’s not usually that aggressive.”

“It’s no big deal, Sookie. We’ve just had some run-ins with each other in the past and Sam is… we don’t see eye to eye on business,” Eric said.

“Uh huh,” I folded my arms and popped out my hip. “Full disclosure, Eric; I know you’re not telling me all of it.”

“Sookie this is business related,” Eric straightened up and looked deep into my eyes. His large hands cupped my face and in that soothing voice of his he said, “Just trust me. Sam and I do have a history but it is inconsequential to our relationship.”

I nodded my head slowly. Eric had always been open with me before. I had no reason to distrust him now. Besides, Eric wasn’t the one that had gone on the attack.

“Did you know that coming here would set Sam off?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t. I had assumed that any issues we had were settled and in the past. If I had known he was going to react so violently I wouldn’t have come without warning,” Eric said reassuringly.

I sighed and apologized on Sam’s behalf. “I don’t know what y’all have had go wrong in the past but I have never seen him act like that. It was kind of scary.”

“Well, we all have a dark side, an animal that comes out when we’re pushed past a certain point. I’m sure you have one, too.”

I did. I didn’t let it out that often but I was sure it was there. It was human nature, wasn’t it? There were people who brought out the best or the worst in us and sometimes it was hard to tell which was which until it was too late.

“What are you doing here anyway?” I asked with a smile as Eric resumed his much more casual pose.

“You said you weren’t going to complete your task before midnight. I wanted to see if maybe I could assist you,” he wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

“That’s very sweet of you, but after what just happened I don’t think Sam will be letting me go early if it means I’m leaving to spend time with you,” I sighed. “I’ll just have to accept whatever punishment you give me.”

“Or, given that I may have just caused you some trouble here, I could give you an extension until noon tomorrow. How far did you get?” he asked.

“I got to six,” I admitted.

“That’s all?” he teased.

“You hush! That task you gave me isn’t easy, mister. I’d like to see you cum fifteen times in a day.”

“Would you now?” his smirk grew into a devilish smile, and all of a sudden I got a case of the shivers that told me I’d just opened a big can of worms. “I’ll see what I can do about that.”

Me and my big mouth.

“I should get back to work,” I said a moment later. “Want me to call you when I get off?”

“Always.” There went those eyebrows again.

“That’s not what I meant!” I laughed and went to slap his arm playfully, but he caught my hand and pulled me closer to him.

His other hand cradled the back of my head as his face lowered and his lips brushed over mine. I felt the same little rush I always did whenever Eric kissed me, and it didn’t take much for me to get caught up in it. It was amazing to me how easily the rest of the world disappeared when he kissed me. It was like no one else existed or mattered. My arms wrapped around him as the kisses deepened. If his goal was to give me material for when I got home he was seriously succeeding at it.

That is until I heard a growl from around the side of the building. I broke off the kiss to look, and Eric turned his head that way as well. A scary black wolf was crouched in the attack position, teeth bared and gnashing, ready to do battle.

“Sookie go inside,” Eric whispered.

“Are you crazy? I’m not moving. That thing’ll make me its dinner,” I argued in a whisper. “Besides, if it attacks I’m not leaving you here to bleed to death.”

“I’ll be fine,” he insisted. “Just please go inside.”

“Do you moonlight as a lion tamer?” I sassed. “Eric I know you’re strong, but that wolf looks like a nasty customer. I’m not leaving you out here.”

“I said go!” Eric said, and then shoved me toward the building.

“Eric!” I hollered as I skittered forward. I lost my balance and fell flat on my front on the gravel like I was sliding into home plate. Sliding on gravel in thin clothing is no good—no good at all.

It all seemed to happen in slow motion after that. I rolled onto my back to catch my breath in time to see the wolf spring from its crouched position and fly at Eric. The wolf actually looked majestic as its strong body sailed through the air. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the power that was coursing through its veins and muscles. I was so busy watching the wolf that I didn’t even look back at Eric. I just assumed he made a run for it like any sane person would do.

Instead, he let the wolf land on him. I screamed and pushed myself up off the ground.

“Eric!” I hollered and ran toward him despite the terrifying creature he was wrestling with.

“Sookie, go inside!” Eric ordered yet again but I wasn’t going anywhere.

Well, no further than to grab a stick to poke the wolf with to get it away from Eric. There was a voice in my head telling me that I was asking for trouble by doing that, but did it stop me? No, of course not. I found a sturdy stick that was nearly big enough to be a branch and I jabbed it into the wolf’s side.

“Go on, get outta here!” I yelled at it, but that did little good.

I started to wonder why no one was coming out from the bar to see what was going on. There were plenty of customers in there and even with the music on we were making a commotion, but not a soul ventured outside. Then I saw the blood on Eric’s arm and it was like the wolf got even stronger all of a sudden. Eric cursed in another language but he didn’t stop wrestling with the animal so intent on making a meal of him. I did anything I could think of to get the wolf off of Eric. I swung the stick at it, hitting in several places but that just pissed it off and I knew when it bit harder because I’d hear Eric growl or grunt a little under the pressure.

Things were starting to look bleak when I remembered the gun that Sam kept hidden behind the bar.

Truthfully there was probably a more powerful weapon in any one of the trucks in the lot, but I knew where Sam’s gun was. I didn’t want to leave Eric but there wasn’t much choice if I didn’t want him to die of blood loss in the next two minutes. My plan was to run inside, get the gun, fire a warning shot to see if that scared the wolf off and if that didn’t work I’d shoot it. Only I didn’t even make it to the door before something furry and heavy hit me hard and threw my body forward. Again I was knocked off balance and moving too quickly for my reflexes to allow me to catch myself. My head hit the rear fender of a nearby truck and it sank me immediately.

“Sookie!” Eric shouted, or least I thought he did because everything went fuzzy and then dark for a few seconds.

When my eyes opened the wolf was hovering over me, gnashing and gnarling its teeth. Its eyes seemed to almost glow but I figured that had to be my mind playing tricks on me. Heavy paws pressed me to the ground, and claws dug into the spot where my shoulders and chest connected. I whined and tried to push up but the wolf snapped its teeth at me. I whimpered and lay still, preparing myself for the wolf to bite me.

My eyes squeezed closed as the wolf’s head lowered, but then the weight was off of me and I heard the whine of the animal as it was being wounded in some way. I opened my eyes to see a bloodied Eric standing over me, holding the wolf by its neck.

“Eric, what are you doing?” I panted. My head was killing me.

“This is no ordinary wolf, Sookie,” he said, and I had to have a severe head injury because I was sure Eric had fangs all of a sudden.

“Eric, your teeth,” I said in a faint voice as I tried to sit up, but my head spun and my side hurt. It took me a few seconds to get vertical again, and when I did I realized I was all scratched up from the gravel. Everything hurt, and the head injury was killing me. I was dizzy, in pain and confused as fuck as to what was going on.

Eric stared at the wolf as he choked it and I wondered why he was even bothering with it. Maybe it had learned its lesson and would just go away if Eric let it loose. He offered no explanation for what looked like razor sharp fangs coming out of his jaw where regular eye teeth should be.

“Sookie, stay here. You’re hurt and I don’t want it to get worse,” Eric said in a firm tone.

“But the wolf,” I argued.

“I’ll take care of it. Do you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you, but that’s a goddamn wolf! How are you holding it up like that?” I knew Eric was strong, but holding up a wolf like that when he was as injured as he was?

I got to my feet and staggered the few steps over to where Eric was standing and it was just my luck that the wolf started to fight back at that moment by squirming around and swinging its paws. I knew the nails were sharp from the pressure applied to my shoulders, but being scratched was something else entirely. I felt the sting of my skin tearing before I actually saw the paw coming at me. I screamed and fell to the ground again as my chest started bleeding. The claws had gone through my t-shirt like it was butter. Nasty, deep and bloody scratches were on display, and my scream jerked Eric out of whatever line of thinking he’d had where that fucking wolf was concerned.

“Sookie,” he growled and the literally hurled the wolf toward the woods like it was a frisbee.

“Eric, how…” I sank to my knees and stared at my chest. Between the head injury and the blood loss my body was shutting down on me.

The last thing I saw was Eric biting into his wrist and then bringing it to my lips. Then everything went black.


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