Eric had to be out of his clodhopping mind if he thought Sookie was going to wear the outfit he’d picked out for her. No. Way. In. Hell. There were prostitutes that dressed classier than what Eric was expecting her to wear. Sookie threw the door open and marched into the bedroom.
“Do you see anything about me that says I want to look like a low rent Gothic hooker?” Sookie demanded. Her hands were on her hips, her chest was heaving as she struggled to control herself and that Viking son of a bitch was smirking at her. Smirking!
“You’ll look like a vampire’s pet,” Eric reasoned.
“It’s such a damn stereotype!” Sookie yelled back. “If I have to wear that hot mess, you have to wear a cape.”
“A cape?” Eric quirked an eyebrow.
“Yes. In pretty much every old Dracula movie I’ve ever seen, the vampire always has a ridiculous widow’s peak and a cape on. So if you want me to dress like I just escaped the Red Light District, you owe me a cape, buddy.” Sookie poked him in his chest for good measure.
For the first time Sookie got a taste of Eric’s intimidating side. His fangs were suddenly right there in her face. Eric was definitely in her personal space and not because he was feeling playful. She’d poked the bear one too many times, apparently.
“I’m doing you the favor, not the other way around. Any time you want to call this off, just say the word and I’ll arrange for another vampire to take my place,” Eric snarled at her.
Once again, Sookie didn’t back down, even though she was a little scared of him. She didn’t want to leave, she just didn’t want to wear the hooker costume. On the other hand, she was sure that he didn’t really want to get roped into her mess and he was doing her a favor. In her head she heard Gran telling her that she made her bed, now it was time to lay in it.
“Fine. You win,” Sookie relented, keeping her tone defiant.
She spun around and went back to the bathroom to change. One piece at a time, she pulled out the clothing Eric had picked out for her. Black leather pants, a black and red brocade corset, red platform MaryJane pumps with little studs on the heels, a skull ring with gold roses on either side of it and a pair of ruby and amber chandelier earrings that matched her Authority necklace perfectly. Sookie blew out a deep breath and looked at all the components of her outfit.
It’s not so bad, she told herself. It could have been worse. Honestly, after being in the heads of some pets, this outfit was practically a nun’s habit. Sookie double checked that the camera was switched off in her pendant and then started undressing. She stripped all the way down to just her panties, and then grabbed the pants. They were going to be a tight fit, but she managed to wiggle her way into them.
The corset was a little trickier to get into, but she finally got the last hook into place and slowly slid the corset around the other way. She adjusted her boobs so they were sitting right and hello cleavage. Gran would have a fit if she saw the way Sookie was dressed. Good God Almighty. Sookie took off her pearl earrings and the ring she was wearing, and replaced them with the jewelry Eric supplied. The last thing she put on was the pumps.
It was easier said than done with those nearly skin tight leather pants on, but she got it. Sookie opened her makeup bag and adjusted her makeup to fit the role she was playing. She darkened her eyeliner to create a smokier eye, added more mascara and lipstick, and then took her hair out of the bun it was in. Sookie finger-combed her hair into thick waves and gave them a little spritz of hairspray.
She hated to admit it, but she looked hot. Eric had chosen wisely. Dammit.
Sookie took a deep breath and then left the bathroom. Eric was sitting on the edge of the bed and the second he laid eyes on her, the best she’d seen in them before was back. So were his fangs. Eric stood up quickly and Sookie realized he had changed clothes as well. No more jeans and fitted T-shirt. He’d traded them for his own pair of leather pants, a black button down shirt and a black jacket.
Cape, shmape. This was a million times better.
“Are you ready to go?” Sookie said instead of throwing herself on him like her uterus was begging her to.
“Yes,” he said, and at that vampire super speed of his, Eric moved so he was right in front of her, back in her personal space again. “You look good enough to eat,” he whispered in her ear.
How did he do that? How did Eric manage to say things that would normally irritate, offend or frighten her but manage to make them sound do damned sexy?
“Thank you,” Sookie looked up at him and flipped her hair back over her shoulder. It was as close as she was willing to get to apologizing for sassing him.
Eric seemed satisfied with that and they headed out for Fangtasia.
Because it was Friday night the bar was packed. Eric took Sookie in through the door in his office. He and Pam were the only ones with keys. Pam had really outdone herself this time. At first when Eric looked in the bag she had brought over he wasn’t sure it was going to work, but Pam proved once again to be worth all of the pains in his ass.
If another vampire so much as looked at Sookie, he was going to have a hard time not relieving the motherfucker of his or her head. You know, appearances and all.
Loud club music with a Gothic edge blared away in the bar. How humans could tolerate that shit was beyond him. If he was still a breather he’d have a headache after ten minutes of it. But it was part of the Fangtasia experience, he supposed. This was no honky tonk. Rednecks need not apply. Pam was known for snatching the hat off the head of anyone fool enough to set foot in her bar wearing a cowboy hat.
And if you had cowboy boots on Pam might not even let you through the door.
“If this gets to be too much for you let me know and we’ll leave,” Eric told Sookie.
“I’ll be okay for the first hour or so, but after that it’ll get harder and harder,” she warned.
Indeed, Eric thought as he watched her ass as they walked into the bar. He kept his thoughts to himself, though. What he did do was pull out his cell phone and send a blast text to all of the vampires in his area, warning them that Sookie was his. Any vampire fool enough to move on her after that deserved whatever punishment he could conjure up.
And what do you know… Bill Compton was still grouped with the Area 5 contacts on his phone. The great thing about the Great Revelation was that because of the laws in regards to vampire/human relationships, humans had more say in what happened to them. It alleviated a great deal of bickering over pets. Age and station used to determine a vampire’s rights to a pet. It was a complicated system of checks and balances that generally gave Eric a phantom migraine.
Centuries old vampires squabbling over a near Renfield of a human was among one of the more annoying tasks he saw to as a sheriff. His favorite solution to this problem was a fight to the true death. Whoever won got to keep the practically brain dead human. Whoopee!
Now it was a simple matter of asking the human what he or she wanted. When the human was too far gone from glamouring, the kindest thing to do was to euthanize it. Even Alzheimer’s would be preferable to living with a swiss cheese brain like theirs.
Eric led Sookie through the crowd to the platform at the far end of the bar and gestured for her to take a seat on the chair next to his. A text came back from Pam as a waitress came to get their drink order.
Pam: Damn, I’m good. You can thank me with a new pair of Louboutins. Oh wait… you already did. Twice.
Sookie ordered herself a glass of water and then explained, “Alcohol makes it harder for me to control things up here,” she tapped her temple.
“Are you listening now?”
She nodded. “Yep. If I hear anything unsavory that doesn’t have anything to do with your customers thinking you can do better, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
Eric lifted an eyebrow and then scanned the crowd. Sure enough, the faces of the humans were contorted with expressions of curiosity, disapproval, jealousy and sometimes pure malice. Not a single one of them held a candle to Sookie. Oddly enough, when he thought about her, her special skill set rarely entered his thought process. Her abilities certainly fascinated him, but there was more to her than reading thoughts, glowing hands or the sweetest blood he had ever tasted.
It would be so much easier for both of them if he saw her as just an object, but he didn’t; he saw her as a person. It was almost a foreign concept to him. For just a moment he considered the possibility that Godric had been wrong about humans. What if they weren’t a liability after all?
Eric watched Sookie’s lips wrap around her straw when the waitress brought her the water she asked for, and he had to fight back a growl. In his mind he could see her wrapping her lips around something else. For the first time in his life he was jealous of a straw.
What the hell was she doing to him?
Eric was more than a thousand years old and he was jealous of a straw?
“Master, you’re back.” A grody little woman wearing too much makeup and latex was attempting to touch him, but Sookie reached out and knocked her hand away.
“Don’t. He’s mine,” Sookie said in a possessive tone that only further tested Eric’s resolve.
The other vampires in the room were immediately interested in what might become a conflict between their superior’s new pet, and a pathetic fangbanger with too much ego and not enough sense.
“Get your hands off me, whore,” the fangbanger hissed and jerked her hand away.
Eric growled a warning and said, “Do not speak to her that way, rodent.”
“She’s got Hep-D,” Sookie informed Eric, and at that, every pair of fangs in the room dropped all at once.
Hep-D was a precursor to Sino AIDS, and there was no cure for it. So far it was the only known disease that a human could pass to a vampire. It was a deadly disease that vampire scientists were working on a cure for. So far, one hadn’t been discovered.
Pam was there in an instant to remove the fangbanger from the premises. A little glamour would prevent her from offering herself to any other vampire, and she certainly wouldn’t ever be setting foot inside Fangtasia ever again.
Eric looked over at Sookie, and she was pissed.
“Thank you,” Eric said and lifted her hand to kiss the back of it.
There were a few gasps from the crowd and the way Sookie flinched, he assumed the thoughts in the room turned ugly. Sookie’s eyes met his, and to his surprise she leaned over and pressed her lips to his. It was completely unexpected, but he wasn’t complaining. She wasn’t shy about kissing him either. Sookie really went for it.
Whether she meant it, or she was just putting in a show, Eric didn’t care. He kissed her back until she had to pull away to breathe. Sookie had a dopey smile on her face, but promptly looked out at the crowd and flipped the bird. Eric’s phone buzzed in his pocket. Pam again.
Pam: If you don’t keep her, I will.
Hearing Sookie claim him like that was surprisingly sexy and at that moment Eric knew he was fucked. Not literally, of course, or he’d be a shit ton happier than he was. He realized he had two choices: either accept what was happening with his goddamn feelings, or send Sookie away before he could get any further attached to her. Option two held zero appeal, and quite frankly it made him sick to think of her leaving him.
Less than thirty-six hours had passed since she breezed into his life and already he was questioning a thousand plus years of teaching. It was confusing as fuck but he decided he wasn’t going to keep fighting it. He was going to figure out why this woman intrigued him so much if it was the last thing he ever did.
Holy fucking hell, I shouldn’t have done that, Sookie thought as she blocked the thoughts of the fangbangers in the room. Eric was a phenomenal kisser, but that was part of the problem. At his age he should have been a great kisser, but he surpassed that.
And what the hell was that possessive cave lady act about anyway? Eric was a big boy, capable of telling that disease ridden fangbanger to fuck off, but no. Sookie just had to intervene like a jealous girlfriend. She told herself it was because she was playing the part of his girlfriend, and when that didn’t work it was because that fangbanger was carrying a deadly, infectious disease that could kill Eric, or anyone of his kind.
But that was bullshit and the kiss confirmed it. She wanted another, and without dozens of pissed off fangbangers watching to ruin it for her. Sookie sat there with her arms folded over her chest and a sour expression on her face. She was so damn confused about what to do. Her head and heart were at war with each other.
Her head was being all logical and telling her that a relationship with Eric would be doomed. He was a vampire, for starters, but that was the least of her worries. Her heart wanted to give him a chance. She identified with him where being an outsider was concerned, and even though Sookie had stopped trying to hide her telepathy she still felt like she was in no man’s land. Sookie didn’t completely fit in with humans, but she didn’t fit in with vampires or the fairies either.
Why did it have to be so fucking complicated?
Or was it much more simple and she was just making it complicated?
Slowly but surely, Sookie started to lower her mental shields and began to filter thoughts again. She found a few people that had snuck in with fake IDs and overheard a human being fed on in the bathroom. After two hours of sitting out on display with Eric, she’d had enough.
She looked over at Eric and said, “I think I’m ready to go.”
“Then we’ll go.” Eric rose and reached for her hand.
Sookie let him take hers and she was immediately struck by how there was no creepy factor like there was earlier in the evening with Bill. No instincts were screaming at her to cut and run. If anything, she wanted to pounce on him. But she wouldn’t do that in the bar. Eric led her through the crowd and back to his office. He grabbed some paperwork off his desk and then they left through the same door they had entered through.
When they got to his car, Eric opened the door for her.
“Thank you,” Sookie said.
Before she could get in, though, Eric had her caged against the car and was staring down at her. Sookie was going to ask if something was wrong, but then his lips were on hers and every thought in her head disappeared.
Yeah, she was in big trouble.
Bill closed his office doors and went around behind the desk. Lafayette had brought him the list as he’d been glamoured to do, but Bill had too many appointments at the start of the night to take a look at it. This little investigation was staying off his books for the time being. If he made it a formal inquiry there was the possibility the Authority would make Sookie aware of it.
If Sookie became involved she would figure out quickly that her brother had been glamoured, as had Lafayette. Bill couldn’t say for certain what Sookie’s reaction to that would be, but he was willing to bet that it wouldn’t be favorable. He was hoping that by doing this asinine favor for her grandmother, that Sookie would remember she owed him. She knew how his world worked. There were no free rides. All debts were paid in full, and the telepath owing him a favor was a nice little advantage to have in his corner.
But as Bill looked at the list his good fortune improved. Of all the names on the list there was only one that jumped out at him: Jason Stackhouse.