Eric owned many residences, most of them outside of the country. More often than not he ended up resting in a hidden space underneath the bar, but he also owned two houses in the Shreveport area. One was registered in his name and the other was in the name of his corporation. He planned to take Sookie to his house in a nice subdivision about ten minutes from the bar.
The smell of sunshine clinging to her suggested that Sookie enjoyed being outdoors. There was a pool out back for her to spend time at during the day. Mostly he was hoping she would be too worn out for that, but his instincts told him that Sookie would be a challenge. Glamouring her into giving him her blood and all the sex she could take wasn’t going to work. He had no doubt he was charming enough to sway her his way, but that would take time.
And time wasn’t something they had an abundance of.
If their story of her being his pet was going to be believable, his scent was going to have to be all over her, and in various ways. That close proximity thing wasn’t going to work more than once. There was also the matter of making sure she knew how a proper pet should behave. He suspected she did because she spent so much time around vampires, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Eric took his time driving to the nearest grocery store. Sookie was going to need certain things that his house wasn’t currently stocked with. Food, for starters, but there were personal hygiene items she would need as well. Items he probably didn’t even know about, if he was being honest.
“When is the last time you had a pet?” Sookie asked, breaking the relatively comfortable silence that had settled between them.
“Not since the late 1700’s,” Eric answered. “Back then it was a necessity. Not just for feeding purposes, but for shelter. The problem with pets is that they can only be glamoured so many times before their brains only operate on the most basic levels.”
“I’m aware. I’ve been in the minds of pets like those. It’s scary.”
“You’re lucky you can’t be glamoured.”
“You know, sometimes I wonder if that’s actually true,” Sookie confessed. “I mean, how do I know for absolutely certain that I can’t be? I felt it when you were trying earlier, but without another telepath around to scan my brain for those black holes I don’t know for sure. I certainly never thought I’d grow up to be a professional telepath.”
“What did you want to be?”
“I don’t know… a teacher, maybe. I like learning. I read a lot. School was just a nightmare for me because there were so many other people around that it was hard to concentrate. If I had been homeschooled that probably would have been better for me, but my grandmother had to work two jobs to support my brother and me, so there wasn’t enough time in the day for something like that.”
“You lived with your grandmother?”
“My parents died in a flash flood when I was eight. My Gran took my brother and me in and raised us the best she could. The only way I was ever going to go to college was if I got a scholarship, but I didn’t get good enough grades for that since it was so hard to concentrate.”
Eric pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store and easily found a parking space.
“Do you have a fully stocked kitchen, or am I limited to a microwave?” Sookie asked as she took off her seatbelt.
“Pam stocked my kitchen to look like a normal, human residence when I moved in.” It was all for show since the only appliances he ever used in the kitchen were the fridge and the microwave.
“Good to know.”
The two of them got out of the car and went into the store. Sookie pushed a shopping cart with Eric following along. Eric watched her pick produce, smelling the different fruits to see how ripe they were. He remembered the wild berries his sisters used to pick by the basketful in the summertime. If he thought about it hard enough he could remember the sweetness of them.
“I wonder if strawberries still taste the same,” he said randomly, leaning down to smell them.
When Eric closed his eyes he could see his sisters running in the sunshine, chasing each other and playing games until their household responsibilities would force them back indoors. Even though Eric’s father had been a chieftain, his mother had insisted their children be brought up the same as less privileged kids would be. Someday his sisters would be wives, mothers and overseeing their own homes. They needed to know how to do all the things the woman of the house should be able to do.
“I can’t help you there, Sparky,” Sookie said with a smile in her voice. Eric opened his eyes in time to see Sookie grab a pint of the berries from the display.
She was wrong about that. In fact, Eric could think of several ways he could find out if strawberries tasted the same, but all of his favorite ways involved getting her naked.
He watched her pick out apples, bananas, green beans, and a few other things before they moved on. Eric remained quiet, opting to observe Sookie and the way she moved. She was graceful and moved with confidence. He could hear the swishing of her skirt with every step she took while his eyes focused on her hips. Hips that were perfect for carrying children.
That last thought gave him pause. The idea of Sookie carrying a child made him… feel things. Godric had always told him it was a mistake to get emotionally involved with humans. Their lives were so temporary, and even if he turned his lover, a day would come when she would want to go off and explore all the things the world had to offer. The lesson Eric took away was that feelings in general were a waste of his time.
But the image in his mind of a belly rounded with child made him… angry? No, it wasn’t anger. What was it? Disappointment? No. Frustration? Maybe a little. That was the one thing he knew he could never give her. So if Sookie ever found herself pregnant, it wouldn’t be his child she was carrying, but why should he care about that?
Why did it bother him? He didn’t even know her.
Eric took note of all the things she picked out. He told himself that it was because he should know basic things about her if she was going to play the role of his pet and nothing more. Yes, he was curious about her and he definitely wanted to fuck her. She was exactly his type. If Eric was going to build a woman from scratch, she would end up looking just like Sookie.
When it came time to check out, Eric moved to pay for her things, but Sookie stopped him.
“The Authority is paying for this,” she said, producing a black Amex with her name on it. She swiped the card and made sure to put the receipt in her purse.
Expense reports, no doubt.
Eric helped her load everything into the trunk of his car, and then they were back on the road, headed for his house. Sookie fired off a few text messages on what Eric was sure was an encrypted, untraceable phone.
“You should probably give me your cell number,” Sookie said.
“I’ll do you one better when we get to my house,” Eric said, the corner of his mouth lifting just a little.
No way in hell did he want the Authority listening in on their conversations. They weren’t the only ones with access to encrypted, hi-tech cell phones. Eric owned several businesses, and he was a major investor in a technology research firm. The phones he used were all prototypes created by that company. He knew if they talked on the phone provided by the Authority, the line was most likely bugged.
His personal life was none of their damn business.
A few minutes later Eric pushed the button on the remote clipped to the visor and by the time they turned into the driveway the garage door was open. Eric pulled into the garage and as soon as the car was parked, he closed the door. There was a second car parked in the garage and he made a mental note to leave the keys for Sookie in case she needed to go out the next day.
“Do you have a car in Bon Temps?” Eric asked as they unloaded her purchases from the trunk.
“I do. Usually I drive a reinforced, virtually death-proof car that belongs to the Authority,” she revealed, and followed Eric into the house.
The interior of the house had been professionally decorated by a ‘friend’ of Pam’s. The woman had done a nice job of incorporating Eric’s personality into the overall look of the house. The first floor looked almost like a hunting lodge with all of the wood walls and iron furniture. The house had character.
“You have a lovely home,” Sookie said as she followed Eric to the kitchen.
“Thank you.” Eric put the bags up on the island.
Sookie got to work putting things away in the refrigerator and freezer. Eric left her in the kitchen while he went upstairs to get one of the spare phones he had in case of emergency. He activated the phone on his laptop and double checked to make sure the GPS tracker was engaged, along with the call monitor. He programmed not just his number into the phone, but Pam’s as well.
By the time Eric got back down to the kitchen, Sookie was finished putting things away. He handed her the phone and said, “Call me with this phone. I don’t want the Authority sticking their nose in my business anymore than they already do.”
Sookie took the phone from him and asked, “Is this bugged?”
“Already you don’t trust me?” Eric leaned against a counter.
“I need to know because if I have to return to headquarters they’re going to search all of the devices I’m carrying to make sure I’m not relaying confidential information.”
“The phone is encrypted and has a GPS device implanted in it,” he told her.
“Got it,” she nodded.
He wasn’t sure what that meant, but Sookie knew better what would get confiscated than he did.
“How about a tour of the house? I need to scan you into my security system anyway.”
“Lead the way,” Sookie gestured, and followed behind when Eric started walking.
Stop staring at his ass. Stop staring at his ass…
Sookie hoped if she kept repeating that sentence her eyes might actually listen. So far, they seemed to be playing dumb with the commands coming from her brain. Eric’s house was beautiful. It wasn’t entirely her taste, but it screamed of him. She liked the distressed furniture; it reminded her of some of the older pieces hidden away in Gran’s attic.
There were paintings on the walls and little artifacts scattered throughout the house. The house wasn’t nearly as big as Sookie was expecting it to be. There were three bedrooms upstairs, one of which had been turned into an office. The master bedroom had a large en suite bathroom and a little sitting area. The linens were ruby red and black. The bed frame was iron and ornately shaped at the headboard.
There was a lot of red in the master suite, but it looked good. The spare bedroom was modestly decorated, compared to the master suite, but it was still nice. Sookie had assumed the spare room would be hers, but she was wrong.
“You’ll stay in here,” Eric said while Sookie was looking at a painting in the master suite.
The hairs stood up on the back of Sookie’s neck as she asked, “But isn’t this your room?”
“It’s a decoy. I have a resting place in this house, but it’s not in here,” he informed her.
Sookie felt simultaneous relief and disappointment at that. Of course this room was a decoy. A vampire as old as Eric would know better than to be so obvious about where he was resting during the day. Vamps were good about building secret rooms, or adding reinforced basements to their homes. Since the Great Revelation there were tons of companies specializing in making homes light tight during the day so vamps would be safe. No doubt Eric had hired such a company to makeover his house.
“So then we won’t be sleeping together,” Sookie said in a voice that didn’t sound like her own.
“Vampires don’t sleep,” he said with heat in his eyes.
When was she going to stop setting the pins so Eric could bowl them over?
“Well this girl does,” Sookie informed him in a snappy tone that had more to do with her frustration at herself than Eric’s lines. “And she prefers to sleep alone.”
What she didn’t want to discuss were the concessions she was going to have to make if this whole scam was going to work. Sookie was well aware of vampires’ advanced reflexes and much keener senses. She knew why a vampire kept a pet as well as she knew the sort of behavior that would be expected of her. Sookie was known for being generally kind, but for having sass to her as well.
She didn’t tolerate vampire bullshit very well, and she didn’t buy into their superiority bullshit either. Vampires weren’t invincible. While Sookie could agree that in many ways humans were a more fragile breed, vampires certainly had some pretty serious vulnerabilities and all any human needed to exploit them was a sunny day.
“That’s a shame,” Eric said bluntly. Once again his eyes were traveling over her. He had no qualms about blatantly eyefucking her, and Sookie supposed she had better get used to it.
“Look, Eric, I’m no stranger to how the vampire/pet relationship works. I’ve seen it in the heads of pets more times than I can count. I’ve seen some of the depraved things vampires expect of their pets, and I’ll admit that’s part of what’s kept me from getting involved with a vampire romantically. But I also know that not all vampires treat their pets like drinking fountains or fucktoys.”
Sookie could have sworn she heard him growl a little at the use of the word ‘fucktoy,’ but she ignored it.
“I can be the quiet, subservient pet that only speaks when spoken to, but I won’t tolerate being disrespected by other vampires. I won’t tolerate it from humans either. I won’t let you mark me, but I realize that there will be questions if other vamps can’t smell my blood on you, just like they’ll question why I don’t smell of you in certain ways. So to avoid the question of why I don’t smell like you sexually, it makes sense that I would be on punishment.” Sookie was mostly thinking out loud, but her suggestion made perfect sense. She could also claim to be marked by Eric in places that no one but him could see.
“That’s an acceptable explanation,” Eric said after a moment. Sookie smiled with relief, but then he added, “Of course we could just have sex and then there would be no reason to lie.”
She had been so close to sidestepping a comment like that. Sookie bit her bottom lip and did her best to shove the mental images out of her head. Eric wasn’t going to make this easy on her. It was obvious that with him, if she gave an inch he would take a mile. Her senses rallied again and she decided it was time to let the sass out.
“I may have to lie about the sex, though,” Sookie pulled a sympathetic face. “There are lots of vampires that think they’re amazing in the sack, but could really stand to learn a thing or two.”
In the blink of an eye Eric had Sookie caged up against the wall with his fangs close to her throat. The odd thing was that Sookie wasn’t threatened by his sudden burst of aggression… It was hot. She felt his nose graze against her skin and heard him inhale her scent. Sookie held her breath and felt her heartbeat in her ears. If Eric had a pulse she was sure she’d be feeling heat radiating off of him, but all she got was his silence.
That lovely, black abyss she had been able to leech onto in the supermarket to keep the other voices at bay. Her eyes closed and Sookie finally allowed herself to take slow, measured breaths. She could sense all of Eric’s movements, but stayed still. Neither of them spoke for about two minutes.
Finally, Sookie opened her eyes and looked right into Eric’s. “Does this mean I hit the nail on the head?” she smiled just a little.
“Why don’t I show you, and you’ll know firsthand?” Eric countered.
To her credit, Sookie didn’t look away from him. Her cheeks flushed but she held her ground. There was definitely a little voice in her head screaming, “Yes please!” at his offer, but she refused to let the words pass her lips. Getting involved with Eric that way would just complicate things. Her mission would end and she would go back to the Authority to pick up a new job.
Eric backed off and said, “You’ll change your mind. Before you finish your investigation, you’ll know for yourself if you were right.”
Sookie wanted to sass back that he was wrong, that she could withstand whatever sexual advances he threw her way but her libido was hopping around, pleading with her to let the reigns go loose. Honestly, did she expect to stay a virgin for life? It was way past time to take that step into adulthood.
“Come with me and I’ll get you scanned into my security system so you can come and go from the house without a key,” he said and turned to leave the bedroom.
Once again, Sookie’s eyes went straight to his backside as he walked away. It seemed Eric wasn’t the only one doing the eyefucking.