Boy it would be nice to be able to talk to Gran about the tangled web in Sookie’s head, but she couldn’t do that… or could she? She could pose her questions in a hypothetical way, right? So the next day Sookie showered, dressed and ate a small breakfast of toast, coffee and fresh fruit before sliding into Eric’s Audi and driving out to Bon Temps. It was a humid day with dark clouds starting to move up from the Gulf.
Sookie arrived in Bon Temps just after noon, and was delighted to see Jason’s truck parked in the Merlotte’s lot. She pulled in and parked next to him, intent on letting him have it for blowing off dinner. Just who in the hell did he think he was putting a date in front of Gran like that? Gran didn’t ask for much, and after all she’d done, Sookie didn’t think a family dinner request was too much. She walked into the bar and marched right over to Jason’s table where he was sitting with Hoyt Fortenberry and René Lenier.
Jason’s back was to her so he had no warning before Sookie smacked him upside the head. He dodged out of the way, turning around at the same time. His buddies were laughing, but Jason didn’t see the humor in the assault.
“What the hell, Sook?” he demanded, rubbing his head.
“You couldn’t put off getting laid for one night to have dinner with Gran and me? Do you have any idea how selfish that is, Jason Stackhouse? After everything Gran has done for you, you can’t quit thinking with your man parts for just a few hours?” Sookie demanded and smacked his shoulders a few times until Jason was out of his seat and moving around to the other side of the table.
“Sook, will you quit it? Listen, I ain’t sure what happened, alright? I was fixin’ to go to Gran’s, but then I woke up that mornin’ and I don’t know… I just felt the urge to cancel, so I did. I stayed home by myself, I swear,” Jason said.
Sookie looked at him skeptically, but there was a really simple way to confirm his story. She hated reading Jason’s mind. It was too easy for her to stumble onto something she didn’t want to see, hear or know about her brother. But seeing as she may have just attacked him when she shouldn’t have, Sookie took a risk. A quick sweep of his brain indicated a black hole. Jason had been glamoured, and judging by the location of the missing memories, it had happened just a few nights before. He was telling the truth.
“I’m sorry,” Sookie apologized. “Can we talk alone for a minute? I promise no more whoopin’ on you.”
She could heal and unlock the memories that had been erased, and that was exactly what she was going to do, but she could hardly do that in the middle of a crowded bar’s lunch rush. It was Jason’s turn to look skeptical, but he gave in and followed Sookie outside. She walked him around the side of the building, where the only person likely to see Sookie tap into her Light was Sam, and he already knew her secrets.
Sam was a safe confidant because he couldn’t be glamoured for information, not to mention he was as loyal as the dog he favored shifting into. Once they were in place Sookie cleared her mind and concentrated on harnessing her energy. Healing didn’t take as much out of her as hurting someone did, but there would still be a drop in her energy level for a little while.
Her hands started to glow a little and Jason jerked back from her. “What the sparkly fuck is going on with your hands?”
“It’s one of the pros of the fairy in our blood,” Sookie explained. “I think you were glamoured by a vampire and this energy I’m channeling can fix it so you remember everything.”
“You ain’t gonna scramble my brains are ya?”
“No worse than they already are, I promise,” Sookie said, and her dunderheaded brother nodded his consent.
Sookie stepped closer to Jason and put her hands on his head. She reached out into his mind with her own and her Light seeped into him to lift the heavy black curtain that was closing off his memory. It all came back immediately once the curtain was lifted. Bill Compton, king of Louisiana, had glamoured her brother into doing some of his dirty work. This was precisely the sort of shit she had worried about.
But even more troubling…
“You’ve used vampire blood?!” Sookie was back to taking swings at her brother.
“Sook!” Jason dodged her, but Sookie wasn’t giving up so easily this time. “Sook, it was just a couple times. I swear, I didn’t hurt any vampires to get the blood.”
“I don’t care! Do you have any idea how dangerous that is? Yeah, I know you bought from Lafayette, and I’ll be gettin’ onto him, don’t you worry. You don’t know the vamp the blood came from. You could kill somebody while you’re high on V and not even know it, Jason!” Sookie continued to yell and slap at him.
“It was just for fun, Sookie,” he tried to explain.
Way wrong answer.
Sookie’s frustration boiled over and she ended up putting the whammy on him. Jason fell back like he’d been tazed, and flopped on the ground while the charge ran through him. Sookie stood over his body. Seriously, how was it possible they shared DNA?
“You ever do V again, and I’m tellin’ Gran,” Sookie threatened and then walked off.
What was he thinking? Oh right, he probably wasn’t. Jason wasn’t really known for thinking things through all the way. Consequences weren’t a big deal for him, but then he was good at weaseling his way out of trouble. There was almost always someone standing by just waiting to take the fall for Jason, or at least split the responsibility with him to soften the blow. Even Gran sometimes got suckered by Jason’s never-ending well of charm and sweet talk.
It was one thing to blow off curfew at seventeen, but taking vampire blood to impress a girl? That was just stupid. And if he got caught using by a vampire, it could get him killed. Sookie didn’t feel any sort of remorse for the shock she’d given him. Hopefully he would remember it, and her warning.
Sookie headed on to Gran’s and hoped she was home. Gran had been charmed by Bill, but she had been dazzled by Eric. Sookie was sure Gran would see right through the hypothetical situation, but it was in Gran’s best interest that Sookie framed things that way. When she pulled up to the house, Gran was on the front porch grooming her flower boxes.
The house had been repainted a buttery shade of yellow and there were pretty pink peonies combined with tall grasses and wildflowers growing in the boxes. A new swing was hanging and Gran had a pair of old rocking chairs refinished that had been living up in the attic out on display. Sookie paid for a landscaper to come and cut the lawn, and Gran had gotten good gardening tips from one of the guys that came. As a result, the flowerbeds never looked better and Gran wasn’t struggling to keep the weeds from taking over.
“Sookie, run around back and get my shears, will you?” Gran asked as she approached the house.
“Sure Gran,” Sookie paused to kiss Gran’s temple before going through the house to the mud porch to fetch the shears Gran wanted.
As Sookie stepped onto the front porch again she heard that first rumble of thunder in the distance. Gran took the shears and said, “Thank you, honey. What brings you out here today?”
“Well, I need your advice on something,” Sookie said. She wanted to tell Gran about what Bill had done to Jason, but decided to keep that to herself.
“Lets hear it,” Gran said.
“A friend of mine is having a hard time deciding the right thing to do. See, she sort of has a thing going with a coworker and it’s messing with her ability to focus on her job. Her head keeps telling her it’s a mistake to get involved, but her heart thinks this guy could be something special. What should she do?” Sookie asked.
Gran continued to fuss with her flowers. “That’s a tough one. You know what I think about listening to your heart, but then it’s never a good idea to shit where you eat,” she said without looking up from her task. “I think this girl needs to ask herself if this relationship is something she’ll regret not pursuing if she gives it up. It’s important to give your best efforts to the work you do, but in my opinion love always trumps everything. So if she thinks love is what she’d be giving up, she better make sure what she’s trading it for is worth it.”
It was good advice, but that was exactly why Sookie had come to Gran for help. Her words gave Sookie a lot to think about. She had no idea if she could love Eric, and she was even less sure if Eric could feel that way about her. Love wasn’t something Sookie had thought much about. So far her brain was stuck on what Eric looked like naked, and whether all of his claims about being the best she’d ever have were actually true.
There was something about the way Eric had appealed to her to stay the night before. His hands on her hips made his desire clear, but there was softness and a little desperation in his voice. He hadn’t commanded her or barked any orders at her, but he hasn’t asked her either. It was a declaration, of sorts. Eric didn’t want her to go.
It would be easy to assume it was all because of sex and her blood, but knowing Eric for the short time she had told her he wasn’t that shallow or superficial. A vampire didn’t get to be that old by thinking with his fangs… or any other parts of his anatomy he could get inside her. Thinking all he wanted from her was her blood was really an insult to both of them. If that were true it would mean Eric saw no value in her beyond a meal and/or sex and it would mean Sookie saw herself the same way, at least to a degree. She was more than that and she was sure Eric knew it too.
“Do you love him, Sookie?” Gran asked.
“Eric. Do you love him?”
“No,” she admitted, but there was something in her answer that betrayed her. She didn’t love him yet but, she realized, it was possible she could.
“Do you want to talk about it, sugar?”
“I do, Gran, but it’s best for you if I don’t until I finish my job.”
Gran nodded and said, “Come inside. We’ll have some lunch and then we’ll watch a movie.”
“That sounds perfect,” Sookie smiled and followed Gran inside.
Eric rose to a quiet house. There was no heartbeat echoing in his ears, no breath being drawn and released. Sookie wasn’t home. No, there; Sookie wasn’t there. Eric’s house wasn’t her home, just a place to stay to bolster her story. Yet another thing he wasn’t happy about.
He reached for his cell phone, refusing to rush up to the master suite to see if Sookie had merely placated him the night before when she said she would stay. There was a surprising request waiting for him from Sookie via text message. She asked that he ‘bring Lafayette in for questioning in regards to his sales of vampire blood.’ Her request represented a problem for him since Eric had been a part of the sales ring, and Descration of the Blood was a serious offense among his kind. She was a member of the Authority and duty bound to report his offense.
Sookie didn’t strike him as the kind of person that would simply disregard his role in a crime because she might have feelings for him. It was true he had been acting on the orders if his regent, but that would mean precious little to the Authority. The whole thing was a crap chute. If he had reported what Sophie-Anne was doing, he would have been labeled a traitor. By selling the blood of his mind he was still a traitor. Decisions, decisions.
Eric decided to call Sookie back to hear what her plan was. Maybe she had no interest in turning him in. Bigger fish to fry and all. There was still a killer on the loose, and that was the focal point of Sookie’s investigation. It was possible she’d just sweep all of this V selling stuff under the rug. There was only one way to find out.
“Hello, Eric,” Sookie answered on the third ring. He could hear a screen door bang shut and then the din of rain falling heavily.
“Where are you?”
“Visiting Gran. Sorry about the noise. There’s a hell of a storm going on here. Did you get my message?”
“Yes, I did. I guess what I’m not understanding is why you don’t just call in someone from the Authority to deal with this,” Eric said.
“Because if I call in the hounds they’ll just kill him, and Lafayette is my friend. But if you take him as your prisoner, I know he’ll be in a relatively safe place out of Bill Compton’s reach. The way I figure it, I don’t know why you have Lafayette in custody, but if Bill tries to take him from you in my presence that’s when the Authority card can be played,” Sookie explained.
She was a smart cookie, he’d give her that. What the hell did Bill want with Lafayette? There was something Eric was missing, he was sure of it.
“You’re not telling me something,” Eric said.
“That’s true, but now isn’t the time given my location,” Sookie said. “I drove your Audi out here, but I think I need to drive my Batmobile back. I’d feel safer in my death-proof mini-tank right about now.”
Yeah, he’d feel safer with her in that car, too.
“I’ll send Pam to collect your friend. Shall I meet you at your grandmother’s?” Eric offered.
“If you’d like. Otherwise I’ll make arrangements to have your car brought to Fangtasia,” she said.
“I’ll come to you. Give me an hour.”
“Thank you, Eric. I’ll see you soon.”
Their call disconnected and Eric immediately sent a text to Pam, issuing the order for her to bring Lafayette in alive, and put him in the basement at the bar. He made the decision to fly out to Bon Temps even though the rain there would leave him soaked when he arrived. The opportunist in him saw the possibility of strolling around Sookie’s house nude (or nearly so) while his clothing dried in a machine. Never mind the spare set of clothing in the trunk of the Audi with his emergency bag. The bag included passports, cash in several currencies, spare clothing and disguises in case he needed to make a run for it.
Eric dressed quickly and then took to the sky, headed for Bon Temps.
Her master had to be kidding. Even from the outskirts of Shreveport Pam could tell it was raining to the east. He seriously wanted her to go get that dark chocolate swish from his backwater hovel? And ruin yet another pair of Louboutin’s? Fucking maker’s commands.
Well okay, technically Eric hadn’t issued a command or she would already be on her way. He hadn’t given her a time frame for the snatch ‘n grab, but she suspected Eric was looking for a quick turnaround time on this. And she suspected the arrival of the telepathic cupcake had something to do with it. Eric had been dealing with turmoil and emotional fuckery almost nonstop since Sookie Stackhouse was dropped in their bar by that uppity, British cunt Eric called a sister.
To Pam, Nora was a true waste of fangs. What was the point of being a vampire if Nora was essentially going to drive a desk for the duration of her undead life. Who wanted to sit around talking politics, drafting policies and handing down edicts? While Nora was busy making rules and regulatoions for how to live one’s life, Pam was actually out there living it.
Two schools of thought warred in Pam’s brain. One side said mainstreaming was for pussies, but like her maker, Pam wanted to live. She cared fuck all about the Authority’s laws. As far as she was concerned, the Authority had been created to lead vampires that were too stupid to function on their own. Stupid humans made for dangerous vampires. Being a vampire was all about adaptability. Vampires that couldn’t adapt to their environment weren’t going to last long.
The other side understood the intent of the agenda the Authority was pushing and it made sense. While vampires might be superior to humans in a great many ways, the fact still remained that vampires were playing in a human world. Daylight was a pretty large advantage for humans to have on their side. Refusing to play by human rules would only cause an uprising from their kind and the ending wasn’t likely to be a happy one for vampires.
All the same, it seemed ridiculous that a panel of vampires had to be put together to reinforce what should be common sense ideas and ways of living.
Plus Pam despised Nora.
But Nora was an annoying house fly on the scale of potential problems or threats. Sookie was much more hazardous to Eric’s wellbeing, and therefore her own by extension. Pam felt every flicker of desperation, possessiveness, desire, need, amusement, delight, intrigue and a whole bunch of other things Eric shouldn’t be feeling for a human, let alone one employed by that fucked up think tank. Sookie was trouble. Pam knew people, and she had seen Sookie’s reaction to the fangbanger that had tried to put her grubby mitts on Eric.
More than that, Pam had felt the shift in energy in the bar and she was sure Sookie was the cause of it. She couldn’t prove it of course, but there was definitely a charge in the air. On the one hand it was good to know that Sookie would defend Eric, but on the other hand, why the fuck did Sookie care if Eric hooked up with another human? And what the fuck was up with Eric’s engine revving over Sookie’s very territorial response?
Pam was sure that fucking her keeper wasn’t part of Sookie’s job description.
But that was something to think more about later. For now, she had a task to focus on. Because Pam refused to look anything but fabulous, no matter what the situation, she dressed as she normally would and then departed for the garage that housed most of Eric’s car collection. Pam parked her car in a vacant space and then went to the vault where the keys were kept. She and Eric were the only people with access to the garage. Her fingerprint allowed the vault door to open, and she selected the keys for the Spirit van.
She checked the back to make sure the chains were secured and after donning a pair of black leather driving gloves to protect her hands from any silver she might encounter, Pam got behind the wheel of the van. There were several places she might be able to find Lafayette, but she was willing to bet that redneck watering hole he slung hash at was a good place to start. So that’s where she headed.