The rain was finally slowing down. Gran had gone on to her bridge game over at Everlee Mason’s house closer to the church, leaving Sookie alone in the farmhouse. Since Jason had been glamoured recently, Sookie checked Gran to make sure nothing had changed since Bill’s visit. Thankfully Gran was fine. Sookie moved over to the stove with a full tea kettle in her hand and started warming the water.
Her job with the Authority had allowed Gran to do some renovating all over the house. The appliances were new but they looked older. Gran wasn’t crazy about stainless steel. She thought it made things look too sterile, but she had to make a few concessions. Sookie’s favorite thing in the kitchen was the big apron sink. The stove had six burners and a griddle on it, which Gran was absolutely in love with. It was a restaurant quality stove that Gran put to the test regularly by taking up the duty of making meals the church would deliver to folks recovering from surgery, illness or even to new mothers.
Sookie loved the character of her childhood home, and in spite of the fresh paint and sparkling finishes on some of the things Gran had picked out, the house still felt like home. Gran wasn’t the type to go over the top with decorations when she had renovated. In fact, she had taken down most of the cabinet doors in the kitchen so now she just had to reach over and grab what she needed from any given shelf. The space was more functional for Gran and that was the most important thing.
There was something tapping on the window above the sink and Sookie turned to see Eric there. She smiled and waved him inside. She hadn’t told Gran to rescind Eric’s invitation so he strolled right in.
“Whoa, you’re soaked,” Sookie said, taking in Eric’s drowned rat appearance. “Wait there while I get you a towel. How did you get here?”
“I flew,” Eric said as Sookie hustled down the hall to the linen closet.
“You flew?” she grabbed two towels and ran them back to him. Sookie stopped short when Eric began to levitate.
That little tidbit sure as hell wasn’t in his dossier.
“I didn’t know you could fly,” Sookie said, and offered Eric the towels.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
“So did you pick up Lafayette already?” Sookie asked, wanting to change the subject before she could focus too much on the way his shirt was plastered to him like a second skin. To that end, Sookie turned around to attend to her tea.
“I dispatched Pam to take care of that. What I need to know is what you didn’t tell me before.”
Sookie grabbed a mug from the cabinet and then the canister with the tea bags. She turned to face Eric and nearly dropped what was in her hands at the sight of him standing there shirtless. Good God, he was perfect. Chiseled in all the right places. Not too big, but definitely muscular where he should be. His skin was alabaster and damp from the rain. Sookie licked her lips and tried to get her brain to function on a business level, and not flop into the gutter.
So of course her thighs rubbed together, and with the shorts she had on it had to sound like a mating call to him. Eric looked amused by her reaction to his sudden partial nudity.
“Why are you shirtless in my Gran’s kitchen?” Sookie adopted a more business-like demeanor. Her lady parts needed to cool it. Literally.
“Because I’m wet.”
That makes two of us.
Sookie took a deep breath and got herself steady, which was easier said than done. She set the mug and tea bags down on the counter and said, “Excuse me.”
Before Eric could completely strip down she ran upstairs to Jason’s old room and found a pair of his old sweatpants to put Eric in. They were going to be a little short on Eric, but they’d keep him covered while his clothes dried. Gran’s first purchase after Sookie set up the house account was a new washer/dryer combo. The machines were top of the line and out on the back porch which had been renovated into a four seasons kind of room. When she got downstairs, Sookie handed Eric the pants.
“Put these on and I’ll put your wet stuff in the dryer,” she said and bent to pick up his shirt. Sookie wasn’t expecting Eric’s jeans to hit the floor while she was bent over. “What are you doing?” Sookie asked without looking up.
“Giving you my wet clothes.” The smirk was there in his tone.
Sookie kept her eyes averted, knowing that if she looked up, all bets were off. They’d just had a talk about professionalism not twenty-four hours ago and he was already going back on their agreement. Sookie picked up his shirt and turned herself around before standing up. In the blink of an eye Eric was handing over his soggy jeans to her. The kettle started whistling so Sookie took the jeans and turned the stove off. Getting away from Eric seemed like the best way to avoid going back on her end of the agreement.
Being polite and appealing to his common sense hadn’t worked, so maybe it was time to try and beat him at his own game. Yes, Eric was a thousand plus year old vampire, but at his core he was still just a man. If there was one thing Sookie had learned from being around his kind, it was how to play dirty. Gran probably wouldn’t approve, but Sookie was sure that deeply emotional conversations weren’t going to be effective.
It was worth a shot to try things differently. She put Eric’s clothes into the dryer and set the machine for a half hour. Eric was in Jason’s sweats when she returned to the kitchen. Sookie grinned at the ridiculousness of his appearance. The pants were definitely too small.
“Oh wow,” Sookie giggled and covered her mouth.
“I’m wearing these for your comfort only. Nudity doesn’t bother me,” he said, and with a body like his, she could understand why.
Those pants were meant to fit a man about six inches shorter and a little narrower in the waist. That meant the sweats weren’t just short, they were also tight, leaving precious little to the imagination. Leave it to Eric Northman to make old sweatpants at least two sizes too small look sexy.
I can do this, Sookie thought, I can play his game.
It would be a David vs Goliath sort of match, but she wasn’t going to give up too easily. Sookie poured water into her mug and stuck a tea bag into it. For now, though, she got back to business.
“So what I didn’t tell you is that I saw my brother today. I confronted him about skipping dinner with Gran and me the other night, and Jason explained that he’d planned on coming, but the morning of the dinner he woke up with the urge to cancel. He stayed home alone that night instead. When I checked his mind to make sure he was telling the truth, I found a glamoured spot. I can heal a glamouring, so I did. He was glamoured by Bill Compton,” Sookie revealed and deposited her tea bag into the trash.
“Interesting. Go on,” Eric said, rightfully expecting there to be more to the story.
“What I saw in my brother’s memory suggests that Bill suspected my friend Lafayette of dealing vampire blood, and he used Jason to look for evidence in Lafayette’s house since Bill couldn’t get into the house himself. He glamoured Jason knowing I would figure it out and made him cancel dinner to delay me finding out about all of this. I doubt Bill knows I have the ability to heal glamoured minds. Not even all of the chancellors have that information, so I don’t know how Bill would know. If he’s looking into Lafayette he must have something other than a hunch, and Jason was able to confirm that Lafayette has dealt V in the past.”
Sookie didn’t mention her brother’s V use since it had nothing to do with Lafayette being sought out by Bill. Knowing what she did about vampires that caught humans dealing V, or abusing it recreationally, she assumed it was only a matter of time before Bill got his hands on Lafayette. Sookie wanted the chance to speak to Lafayette before Bill got involved. If she could depose him on record without Bill’s knowledge it would be better for Lafayette.
“Why didn’t you just go talk to him? Why did you ask me to bring him in?” Eric asked.
“Because I wanted him to get spooked into never doing it again, that’s why. If he’s dealing V it’s only a matter of time before it gets him killed. Not to mention, I hope like hell that he’s not draining vampires so if he’s being supplied by one, I would think you’d like to know who his source is.”
Sookie took a drink of her tea and moved to the kitchen table. Eric selected the seat to her right. She ordered her eyes not to dip below his neck. Nothing good could come from eyefucking him so it was best she not even start with that or she would just get sidetracked.
Focus, Sookie, focus.
Maybe flip your hair just a little. You could use a little air on your neck. Sure is warm and humid in here from all that rain…
What Eric said, however, stopped her cold. “I’m aware of Lafayette’s dealing already. Sookie, would I be any good at my job if I didn’t already know who was making transactions like these in my territory?”
Good point. Well fuck.
“You know about Lafayette? Is that how Bill found out?”
“No, I’ve never reported that information to him. There was an arrangement with Sophie-Anne,” Eric explained. “She was using V dealers to subsidize her flailing queendom.”
Sookie didn’t need to ask why Eric hadn’t come forward with this information sooner. Doing so would have labeled Eric a traitor and marked him for death, even though his queen’s orders were against vampire law. But if Eric hadn’t told Bill about Lafayette dealing V, then how had he known? Sookie supposed word of mouth could be blamed, or there could have been a setup from the vampire supplying Lafayette with product.
“So you’re telling me that Sophie-Anne condoned the sale of vampire blood to humans?” Sookie asked, just to be sure.
“More than that, she was supplying the dealers. I don’t know where she was getting the blood from,” he said.
Huh. A queen acting like a drug kingpin. This wasn’t usual regent behavior.
“I’ve never heard of a king or queen doing that before,” Sookie shook her head.
“Sophie-Anne had a few interesting habits and hobbies. For instance, she liked to collect things,” Eric said. “She had a thing for the unusual, especially items that were one of a kind… with or without a pulse.”
Eric’s pointed stare told her she had been on the former queen’s radar.
“Me? Why? How?” Sookie asked. This was news to her.
“I don’t know how she found out about you. Before your employment with the Authority became public knowledge, she sent a vampire to this area with the mission of procuring a human for her. That vampire was unsuccessful in his mission and just so happened to take up residence in his ancestral home–”
“Right across the cemetery,” Sookie finished for him.
Well that explained the creepy factor when Sookie was around Bill, but it didn’t answer the question of how Sophie-Anne knew she even existed and Sookie damn sure wanted an answer to that. She also wanted to know how Bill knew about the dealing Lafayette was doing. Was it possible the former queen had simply told him about it? There had to be a certain level of trust between them if Sophie-Anne had assigned Bill to collect Sookie on her behalf.
And yet, Bill – a much younger vampire than Sophie-Anne – had been able to best her in a fight. Something wasn’t adding up for her. Corruption in Bill’s kingdom wasn’t entirely Sookie’s mission, but his rise to power had raised some eyebrows among the chancellors. Sookie took mental notes to relay back to Nora later on. Perhaps a visit to headquarters during the day to do a little reading on Bill Compton was in order. With him ascending a throne, there wasn’t much the Authority hadn’t been able to dig up on him.
It was time for Sookie to get her Nancy Drew on.
Eric’s bigger fish to fry theory paid off. There were no lectures from Sookie for his involvement with the V ring Sophie-Anne had been running. Selling the blood of his kind certainly wasn’t Eric’s idea, nor had he condoned the sales, but there was nothing to be done about it. Sookie was still mulling over the bomb that had been dropped on her where Bill was concerned. Eric didn’t have any direct evidence to substantiate his claims, but sometimes suspicion was enough.
The timer went off on the laundry and Sookie got up to check his clothes. A second wave of storms was gathering momentum to the south. If they didn’t hurry up and get going drying his clothes would be a moot point. Sookie came back with his T-shirt and handed it over.
“Your jeans still need a few minutes,” she said.
“Thank you.” Eric didn’t put his shirt back on immediately, however. He was enjoying how flustered Sookie was by all the skin on display.
“Aren’t you going to… never mind.” Sookie picked up her mug and took it to the sink to be washed.
Frankly, with his shirt off, he felt they were evenly matched in the bare skin department. Sookie had on a colorful pair of plaid shorts and a pale pink tank top he was sure he’d be able to see right through if they got caught in the rain. In fact…
“Would you like to go flying?” Eric offered. It was worth a shot.
“Flying as in you launching us into the air… no emergency landing gear?”
“I won’t drop you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“No, it’s not that, but Bill’s security detail might take a shot at you, thinking you’re a threat,” Sookie pointed out.
“So I won’t go in that direction. We don’t have to if you don’t want to. I just thought you might appreciate the view.”
Sookie smiled at his perceived thoughtfulness and said, “I would. I’m just not sure tonight is the right night. You’re still in Jason’s sweatpants and there’s another storm on its way.”
Sookie knew about the other storm? How did she…
“Sky fae,” Sookie explained before he could ask. “I’m sensitive to changes in energy and thunderstorms require immense changes in energy.”
Of course, that made sense.
“Nice try getting me wet,” she said with a smirk, and before Eric could make a comment she added, “In a way everyone can see.”
Sookie promptly turned around and stretched to replace the mug where it belonged on a shelf. Her body elongated gracefully and he could see the way her muscles moved under her soft, warm, sun-kissed skin to complete the tasks she had ordered her limbs to carry out. Her long hair hung in loose waves down her slender back, nearly reaching her waist when her head tilted back like it was just then. The fact that Sookie hadn’t buckled at his attempts to get under her skin when he first arrived was impressive to him.
And also disappointing.
His actions had affected her; he knew by the change in her scent, but she wasn’t going to let herself be led by it. Eric couldn’t say he was happy about her solution to his ‘problem’ of having no clothing to wear. At least with a towel there was the possibility it might fall. Then again, the pants she had loaned him could conceivably split if he moved the wrong way, they were that tight on him.
Sookie seemed to be taking it all in stride, although he had seen anger flare in her eyes when she figured out Bill’s interest in her. Eric wondered what the Authority would think of their newest regent trying to sway away their favorite asset? Vampires, being the possessive lot they are, Eric doubted the Authority would be interested in sharing their toy. Just like he was sure Sookie had no interest in becoming Bill’s new favorite toy.
The very thought of Bill getting his hands on Sookie brought back those same feelings he’d experienced at the thought of Sookie being pregnant with another man’s child. He didn’t like it. Bill Compton had no place in Sookie’s life.
Mine, Eric thought, although he didn’t know why. Actually, that wasn’t entirely true. Sookie fascinated him in a great many ways. Ways he never wanted a little shit like Bill to know about firsthand.
“Then how about I stick to getting you wet in ways only I can see?” Eric suggested. Seemed like a good idea. His dick certainly agreed, seeing as it kept twitching every time Sookie bent over.
Why stay in his pants when it would much rather be in Sookie’s?
Her response was to gather up her hair, twist it at the back of her head and then secure it in place with a pencil from the junk drawer. Sookie then began to fan her neck, which was wet with perspiration. Her scent filled his nose on the small breeze being created by her little, flopping hand. Gods, she smelled incredible.
Eric’s phone buzzed on the table. Pam was checking in.
Pam: I’m taking him to the basement. He’ll need hosing down.
Eric: I know it isn’t in your nature, but try to be nice.
Pam: We’ll see.
“Pam has Lafayette in custody,” Eric said.
Sookie looked relieved for all of two seconds. “He’s alive, right?”
For now. Mr. Reynolds had rolled the dice quite a bit. This was a favor for Sookie. It would do Lafayette good to remember that.
Sookie went back to the porch to check his clothes again and returned to the kitchen with his jeans. They were dry and warm.
“We should probably get going,” Sookie said.
Yes, he supposed they should.
Bill sat in his office, working on locating buyers for the collection of antiques he’d inherited from Sophie-Anne, when Katie buzzed his desk.
“Mr. Compton, we’re ready for you now,” she said.
About damn time.
In two seconds, Bill had abandoned his post behind the desk and was standing on the lawn. His motorcade was ready and he was escorted into his SUV… after gesturing like a gentleman for Katie to precede him. Katie was nothing if not a lovely, cunning creature. She was sharp as a tack and kind to everyone she met. No details slipped through the cracks with her as his assistant, and she excelled at reminding him to maintain a certain sensitivity toward human concerns.
She was also a fantastic fuck.
Once they were settled in the back of the SUV, Katie ran down the list of appointments, phone calls or other commitments Bill needed to attend to once this little job was taken care of. The whole time Bill stared at her stockinged, crossed legs, watching the way they subtly rubbed together. Katie always smelled delicious. She took excellent care of herself, and was always willing to serve whatever needs Bill might express.
And he had quite a few.
At the moment, the unconscious moving of her legs called to the surface a need that hadn’t been met in a while. His fangs desperately wanted to be let loose… and then sunk deep into Katie’s femoral artery. She wasn’t his pet, of course, but she would make a good one. Subservient, clean, willing and always telling him how smart he was, how lucky the state was that he came along to save them when he did. Yes, Katie was good for his ego.
The motorcade traveled the short distance to the home of Lafayette Reynolds. Bill would wait in the car while his security team would extract the scumbag V dealer from his sub par living space. He would be shackled, blindfolded and brought to Bill’s detention center for questioning. Most of the questions would center around Sookie and Jason Stackhouse to find out just how much he really knew about them and their heritage.
Bill fought the urge to make use of this little lull in their schedule and take advantage of having Katie all to himself. The uncrossing of her legs proved to be his undoing, and in the blink of an eye, Bill was on his knees before Katie with her thighs pushed apart. The sudden gasp that escaped her excited him, and before she could really recover from her surprise, his ultra sharp teeth were piercing the milky whiteness of her inner thigh. A warm splash of blood hit his tongue, and Bill growled as he drew on the wound. Katie moaned in pleasure and the scent of her arousal bloomed in the air. Yes, he would be fucking her before sunrise. It had been too long since last time, and Bill was still frustrated over Sookie’s rebuffs at their first meeting.
His mind cycled back to all of the unsuspecting whores he and Lorena had drained this way, feeding from them savagely and then fucking in pools of blood, surrounded by the nearly lifeless corpses. Bill lost count of how many lives they’d taken that way. Back then, the world was their playground. Night after night he succumbed to the barbaric debauchery, filling himself on the wasted life of one common whore after another, leaving their useless bodies for a madame or sheriff to discover.
Whatever remorse he might have felt was quickly snubbed out by his own self-loathing and the need to feel like he was in control of something. He couldn’t escape his maker’s clutches, but he could decide whether the whores lived or died. Bill didn’t see those deaths as cold blooded murders, but as favors. He released those women from the horrid fate of a lifetime spent on their backs, being used by men much worse than himself. Men with wives and children, breaking the covenant they made before God. He was doing a public service.
Katie’s slender fingers moved to his hair, but he moved her hand away, lest she ruffle his style and make it obvious how they spent their time alone in the SUV between appointments. A mainstreaming vampire, especially one as public as Bill Compton, shouldn’t be caught feeding from a human. Bill continued to drink from Katie, enjoying her moans and the way they grew louder and louder until they suddenly stopped and her head snapped up. It was like someone threw a shot of ice water into her veins, and Bill retracted from her.
“Your Majesty,” she started, never a good sign. “The suspect has already been taken. There are signs of a struggle inside the home.”
Son of a bitch.
Bill moved at vampire speed to the door of the house, which was as close as he could get without magic bouncing him on his undead ass. He inhaled deeply, catching the scent of the dealer, opiates, Chanel and vampire. Someone had beat him to it, and in a single breath he knew precisely who it was that had gotten to Lafayette first.