Lafayette lived in a small house about a quarter mile from Crawdad’s Restaurant in a wooded area. As it was with most homes in a small town like Bon Temps the honor code was still in effect, so folks felt free to leave their doors unlocked, or wide open on hot summer nights. On the drive over to Lafayette’s house, Bill learned that vampire blood wasn’t the only thing the effeminate cook was dealing.
When they arrived at the house, Jason went to the front door and walked right in like he owned the place.
“Jason, I need you to invite me in,” Bill reminded.
“Oh yeah,” Jason smiled. “Come on in.”
Bill knew it was possible this might not work, since Jason wasn’t a resident of the home, but it was worth a shot. Bill tried to step forward, but the magic barrier remained, barring him from entering Lafayette’s home. It was a mild setback, but nothing fatal. He still had Jason Stackhouse at his whim, after all.
“Jason, I need you to go to the refrigerator and tell me if there is anything inside that resembles blood,” Bill instructed.
“Yessir,” Jason said, and made his way through the house to the kitchen.
Bill peered inside to check out the décor. Lafayette’s tastes screamed of thrift stores, estate sales and secondhand shops. Nappy afghan blankets covered the back of the slipcovered sofa. The carpet was shag and had more stains on it than it did clean fibers. Gaudy art hung on the walls, and as one might expect, the electronics were top of the line.
Nothing said good living like selling narcotics to over-privileged college students and then kicking back to watch an HD movie on a sixty inch flat screen. Bill’s skin was practically crawling with distaste for what he was seeing. Jason came back from the kitchen with that same blank look in his eyes that was there even when he wasn’t being glamoured.
“No blood, sir,” Jason said.
“Very well. Thank you, Jason. You have been incredibly helpful. Now you go on home and get a good night’s sleep. And if you had plans to attend dinner at your grandmother’s, you’re going to call her in the morning to cancel,” Bill said, not wanting to risk Jason remembering something and telling Mrs. Stackhouse, or worse, Sookie, about this little field trip.
“Yessir. Goodnight,” Jason said, and then headed for the truck.
Bill remained on the porch after Jason left. He took a seat on one of the deck chairs to wait for Lafayette to return. The minutes ticked by slowly and after an hour Bill went into downtime. Merlotte’s closed at midnight on Thursday, but that didn’t mean Lafayette was coming straight home from work. In fact, midnight until two or three in the morning were prime dealing hours.
Eventually, it was the impending sunrise that snapped Bill out of his stupor. Ten more minutes and he was going to have to give up for the day, or end up frying himself. The sound of a car about a quarter of a mile away gave him hope, and seconds later the shabby old Mercedes appeared. The car was barely in park before Lafayette was hauling ass for the front door.
“Mothafucka!” he shouted as he took the front steps two at a time. “Yo they ain’t betta be no crazy rednecks up in mah house! I will whoop yo’ ass like yo’ mama should have.”
Bill let Lafayette go inside and do a quick sweep of the house to set his mind at ease. Nothing was missing or out of place, aside from the front door being wide open.
“Shit, I gotta stop sampling my own product. This shit is fuckin’ with a bitch’s head,” Lafayette said to himself.
Just as he was about to close the front door, Bill stepped into the doorway, making Lafayette nearly jump out of his skin.
“Good morning, Mr. Reynolds,” Bill said in his smooth, southern cadence.
“Who the fuck is you?” Lafayette asked, clutching his chest while his heart beat thunderously.
“My name is Bill Compton. I’m the king of Louisiana. I believe you used to work for my predecessor, Sophie-Anne LeClerq.”
“Bitch, I ain’t got one good goddamn clue what’chus talkin’ ’bout, and it is too goddamn late to be gettin’ involved with vampire shit. And befores you ask hows I knows you’s a vampire, it’s because you’s as pale as a bed sheet on a redneck ’bout to burn a cross in mah front yard,” Lafayette sassed, but then made the mistake of looking Bill in the eye.
“Mr. Reynolds, all I need to know is if you are still selling the blood of my kind for profit,” Bill said calmly.
“No,” Lafayette said. “I done run out that product.”
“Very good. And who was your supplier?” Bill asked.
“I don’t know. The blood was delivered to me by Eric Northman, or that tall bitch he always with,” he said.
Pam, Bill figured.
“I need a list of your buyers, Mr. Reynolds. You will type it up and deliver it to my house before sunset, and you will tell no one that I was here. And you will not deal vampire blood anymore,” Bill said. Lafayette nodded his agreement so Bill released him from the glamour and promptly sped off.
Only three minutes remained until sunrise.
Eric peeked in on Sookie. He really needed to get to his resting place, but he needed to check on her one more time before going to ground for the day. She was in a deep sleep with her hair fanned out like a glowing, golden halo. Her cheeks were a little flushed, and one of her perfectly golden-brown legs was sticking out from under the comforter. For the first time he noticed her toenails were painted a shimmery, iridescent white-gold color that sparkled even in the dimness of the room.
Silent as could be, Eric moved into the bedroom and drew the rest of the curtains closed so Sookie could sleep for as long as she wanted to without the daylight interfering. Her scent permeated the room, and he wondered how long it would linger on his bed after she was gone. She wouldn’t be staying forever.
Not that he wanted her to.
It was just lust. He had come to that conclusion while he was out earlier. There was no way that what he was feeling for her could be legitimate. Eric reminded himself over and over that getting attached to her would be a mistake that could get him killed. Not only was she human but she was, for all intents and purposes, property of the Authority, and they didn’t like sharing their toys.
The sun pulled at him, warning him of the danger if he remained where he was, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave quite yet. His argument with Nora replayed in his mind. Her jealousy was apparent, and yet there was nothing to be jealous of… if you didn’t count the fact that Eric was the first and only vampire to taste Sookie’s blood.
But the jealousy wasn’t really about that. Nora genuinely cared for Sookie. Having been there from the beginning, being the one to recruit the telepath to their side before the human government could get their hooks into her, Nora felt a bond with the girl. They were friends. Sookie helped keep the loneliness at bay, and saw beyond the fangs to the person behind them.
In Nora’s eyes, Sookie was fearless, intelligent, creative, caring and just. Sookie made her determinations without prejudice or allowing her personal feelings get involved. Those that she loved she defended fiercely, with everything she had. Nora had admitted that Sookie and Eric shared several key qualities, and it was part of the reason she had become so enamored with Sookie.
Sookie reminded Nora of him.
He looked at her delicate sleeping form, studying her small frame and the way her chest rose and fell with every breath that filled her lungs. Eric found himself wanting to curl up beside her, protect her from the monsters that might haunt her dreams. But when the sun rose, he would be useless to her and even to Eric it was obvious that Sookie was a creature meant to be in the light.
She didn’t belong under the moon and stars with him.
Forty-five seconds left. Still, he didn’t move. He stood and he watched as the seconds ticked by until he could wait no longer. When there was just five seconds left he finally forced himself to move and take shelter for the day. Down in his day chamber, Eric didn’t go right to rest. He showered to get the chemical smell off of his skin. Eric had planned to go to rest smelling of Sookie, but Nora saw to it that didn’t happen.
Seeing Sookie in his clothes had also changed his plans for the evening. Eric had planned to be at Fangtasia when it opened, but he decided it would be better if he put Sookie on display at his side to bolster their story. To that end, he had sent Pam a text, tasking her with finding Sookie a ‘pet appropriate’ outfit to wear at the bar. Her response?
Pam: Your pet? Seriously? Is her snatch magic? If so, will you share?
Eric: Yes. Yes. Wouldn’t you like to know. Fuck no. Just do as you’re told.
Pam: Possessiveness stopped being in fashion around the time raping and pillaging became unpopular, just so you know.
Eric hadn’t responded to her text. All it would do was spur her on. Besides, it was a task Pam would enjoy. In her free time, Pam enjoyed nothing more than spending Eric’s money. She raised a stink with just about every task Eric ever gave her, but she always did as she was told. He had no doubt that Pam would deliver.
After a quick wash up in the shower, Eric dried off. He could feel the bleeds coming on. His movements were sluggish. The sun was demanding he rest, so Eric plugged in his phone and then collapsed in his bed to let the day take him.
Comfortable. Sookie was so damn comfortable. She had no idea what kind of mattress she was sleeping on, but Sookie was seriously going to look into getting one for herself. She rolled onto her back and stretched. The room was pitch dark. The curtains were all closed. She hadn’t closed all of them, had she?
She didn’t remember closing all of them. Her head turned to the right to look for an alarm clock but there wasn’t one. The left side wasn’t any better. She sighed and reluctantly rolled off the huge bed to go to the bathroom. The marble floor in there was surprisingly warm, and sunlight poured in through the block glass window. She did her regular morning routine and then went down to the kitchen to get the coffee started.
There was a note waiting for her on the island along with a set of keys for the spare car in the garage.
I’ve changed my plans for this evening. I’ll make sure I’m in Bon Temps later on tonight, but I won’t get there too quickly. I’ll send a text when I’m in route. Take the Audi in the garage. I won’t be needing it. If you can, I suggest taking a nap. It’s going to be a long night.
Enjoy your day.
Long night, huh? Sookie rolled her eyes. She couldn’t imagine what Eric had planned, but he obviously had something up his sleeve. Sookie set the note down and went to the fridge to get the coffee out. While she was in there she grabbed the eggs, sausage, butter and strawberries. The time on the fancy pants microwave read 10:27.
That was close to the time she was usually up. Sookie didn’t completely keep vampire hours, although there were plenty of very late nights in her line of work. The good thing about working for the Authority was that she had the option of working during the day while reading humans. Her employers ensured a security team was dispatched with her, and all of her sessions were recorded digitally, as well as fed live via webcam.
There was always a Chancellor awake during the day. Each of them was assigned a day, and they suffered through the bleeds to oversee conditions in the world outside so if there was a catastrophic situation going on, there was someone available to make decisions or sound the alarms. Since it was Friday, it was Rosalyn’s day. Tomorrow was Nora’s day. The chancellors always met on Sunday.
Sookie got her coffee going and then started warming a skillet for her sausage to cook in. Gran, she needed to call Gran. It had been too late to call last night without waking her. Sookie ran upstairs to grab her phone out of her purse and hoped that Nora got someplace safe before sunrise. She still had no clue what Eric and Nora had fought over, but she wasn’t going to ask. It wasn’t really any of her business.
Once the sausage was started, Sookie dialed Gran’s number and put the call on speakerphone. Gran picked up on the fourth ring while Sookie was rinsing strawberries.
“Good morning, Stackhouse residence,” Gran said in her usual, cheerful tone.
“Good morning to you too, Gran.”
“Oh, Sookie, sweetheart, it’s good to hear your voice. I was starting to worry,” she said.
“I’m fine, Gran. I had a last minute change of plans and I didn’t want to call and wake you.”
“Are you still coming for supper tonight?”
“Wouldn’t miss it. Unfortunately the job I’m working won’t let me stay with you like I planned, but I’ll be there tonight and I’ll come out to see you every day I can,” Sookie promised. She hadn’t quite worked out yet how she was going to introduce the story about being Eric’s pet.
She hated lying, but the truth could only get Gran into trouble. Sookie was always worried about her family’s safety, especially in Gran’s case. Jason was young and strong enough to have a fighting chance. Gran was a tough old bird, but she was no match for a vampire or werewolf. Hell, Gran vs. a flight of stairs could have dire consequences if Gran didn’t come out on top.
“It’s alright, Sookie. You know I understand. I’m proud of you and the work you’re doing,” Gran reminded her.
Gran’s opinion mattered to her more than anything, and it was Gran’s reasoning and logic that had ultimately tipped the scales to get Sookie to take the job. As a result, Sookie was making more money than she knew what to do with. Since she didn’t need much, she had an account set up for Gran to make sure she had everything she needed, whether it was a new water heater, knitting needles or groceries. Sookie figured it was the least she could do after all the things Gran had done for her.
“I know you are, Gran. I miss you,” Sookie said.
“I miss you too, honey. Oh, before I forget, Jason called this morning to cancel, so it’ll just be the two of us.”
Sookie bit her tongue to keep from saying something that would earn her a switching when she got home. Fucking Jason. No doubt he’d blown off dinner in favor of getting laid. Not that Sookie didn’t want to see her brother, but she was more disappointed for Gran’s sake. It wasn’t often the three of them could get together anymore thanks to Sookie’s schedule. Would it kill Jason to push things back until after supper?
But Sookie held her tongue. Going off on a rant would only make Gran feel worse than she already did.
“That vampire fella is still coming, right?” Gran asked, since Sookie had been the one to request the audience with the king.
“Yes, ma’am. One of his people called to confirm it yesterday. Mr. Compton will be arriving at nine. His security team will do a quick check of the house to make sure we’re not assassins, and then we’ll have him for an hour before he has to move on to another engagement,” Sookie explained.
“Oh, I’m so excited I could just spit,” Gran said. “I never, in a million years, thought I’d get to talk to a real Civil War veteran.”
Well there was the opening Sookie needed. She took a breath and said, “Well, it’s going to be a historic evening, Gran. My friend Eric will be coming by tonight. He’s also a vampire, and when he was human he was a Viking.”
“My stars,” Gran breathed. “What do you mean by your friend, Sookie?”
Of course Gran would latch onto that, but Sookie had been hoping she would.
“Is he really just a friend, or is he your beau?” Gran asked.
“He’s something in between,” Sookie answered. Gran was quiet a minute, probably trying to figure out what that meant. “He owns that bar Fangtasia over in Shreveport. I’ll be staying with him during my investigation. He’s going to be helping me.”
There was more silence before Gran said, “He better behave himself.”
“I think you’ll like him, Gran. He’s… he’s got a lot of personality.”
“Is he good looking?”
Sookie grinned and said, “Yes, Gran, he’s very good looking.”
“Then it’s a good thing vampires are sterile.”
“Gran!” Sookie’s cheeks flushed at Gran’s assumption.
“You’re a grown, unmarried woman. You should enjoy it,” Gran said. The interesting thing about Gran was that for all of her christian values and lessons in morality, she hadn’t been pushy about abstinence. Jason took that to an extreme, whereas Sookie had remained as pure as the driven snow. Of course it would probably be different if it wasn’t for the telepathy.
“Uh huh. Listen, I’ll be home by four, so I’ll see you then.”
“I’ll be here. Enjoy your day.”
“You too. I love you.”
“I love you too. Bye bye now,” Gran said, and then they both hung up.
Sookie set her phone aside and got down a coffee mug. After breakfast she was going for a swim in the pool, even if she had to go in her underthings.