Chapter 11: Psychotic Girl

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Eric found Sookie standing in the foyer waiting for him. There were burns on his wrists where he’d been cuffed by Bill’s overzealous guards. He wasn’t sure of what to make of her feelings in that moment. He knew how he felt and he was limiting what he was sharing with her. He’d thought after making up the night before that Sookie would drop the matter. Instead he woke to find that she wasn’t just gone from the house, but that she was at Bill’s.

Truthfully, he wasn’t surprised she’d gone there. What angered him was the text message she’d sent him. Don’t worry about me, I’m fine. Be home soon. He didn’t trust Bill and it was obvious Sookie naively believed Bill wouldn’t stoop low enough to try and manipulate her. Did she ever learn?

Eric said nothing as he walked toward her. As a matter of fact, he walked right past her and out the front door. Sookie following right behind him and handed over his keys when Eric held his hand out for them. She went to the passenger’s side of the car and got in. Eric tried to get behind the driver’s side but Sookie had moved the seat too far forward. After adjusting it, he fell in behind the wheel and slammed his door.

“Bill is going to expunge the warrant,” Sookie said as Eric moved to put the key in the ignition.

“You didn’t need to come here,” Eric growled and started the car.

“Yes, I did. He’s playing games, Eric,” Sookie pointed out like he wasn’t already aware of that.

“Of course he is. He’s doing whatever he can to make sure that he’s all you have. It’s what vampires do,” Eric put the car in reverse.

“Is that why we’re bonded?” she asked him and he put the car in park again, his anger flaring.

“We’re bonded because I love you, in spite of my better judgment,” he glared at her.

“So if you had a choice does that mean you wouldn’t love me?” Sookie asked him.

They were in dangerous territory and they both knew it. Questions like the one Sookie had just posed had potential to wound when answered. She braced herself to hear whatever it was he planned to say.

“Would you?” Eric asked her and she wasn’t crazy about him answering her question with a question.

Yet, it was the exact right answer. Truthfully, she probably wouldn’t love him if she had a choice in the matter and the way he looked at her told her he felt the same. Love wasn’t a choice; it just was. So where did that leave them?

“I didn’t get a choice in the matter but I’m not sorry,” Sookie said first, finally letting her eyes find Eric’s.

“Nor am I,” he leaned toward her, pressing his forehead to hers.

She touched his face and brought her lips to his. She kissed him softly at first, her apology for being thoughtless, and when Eric moved to deepen the kiss she let him. Before they could take it too far, Eric put the car in gear again and drove back to Sookie’s house. He chased her from the car to the front door and once they were inside, he kicked it closed and carried her up the stairs to her bedroom.

In frenzied movements he managed to get his pants open and hers pulled down enough for him to slide inside her from behind. He thrust fast and hard, both of them eager to feel connected to one another and put the anger behind them. It didn’t take long for either of them to climax and once they had, the bitterness in their bond completely disappeared. Eric pulled out of her and settled Sookie on her bed before going to the bathroom to get a washcloth to clean her up with.

“There’s something else I need to tell you,” Sookie said as Eric cleaned her. “I went to Merlotte’s to see if Sam was back in town and Lafayette was there. He pulled me into Sam’s office when my Gran started talking to him. I listened and she told me that Marnie is still a danger on account of Lafayette being a medium.”

Eric stopped moving and his eyes narrowed as the weight of what Sookie was saying hit him. Fucking witches.

“Lafayette is going to talk to Jesus and see if there isn’t some sort of way he can keep Marnie out, but since there’s no guarantee, there’s a chance she might come back,” Sookie warned, even though Eric had already arrived at the same conclusion. This was no good.

“There’s another way to make sure she doesn’t invade him,” Eric said and Sookie immediately shook her head.

“You’re not going to kill him,” she said fiercely. “That isn’t even close to being an option.”

“It may come to that, Sookie,” he warned her and she shook her head again.

“No,” Sookie said firmly.

“It’s a last resort,” Eric told her but she continued to shake her head.

“It’s unacceptable, Eric. There has to be another way to keep Marnie from taking over. We have to find another medium who knows how to deal with this,” Sookie insisted.

“True mediums are only a little more common than telepaths, lover. The majority of the fortune tellers you see on TV are sensitive, but they have no true power. Lafayette’s best bet is if his lover can concoct a spell to bind him. Short of that, it’s possible Lafayette may end up dead,” Eric warned. He didn’t bother to mention that Marnie could just as easily hop into the body of any other medium. Finding one would be difficult but it could be done.

“What if he was already possessed by another spirit? Could he host more than one at a time?” Sookie questioned.

“I don’t know,” Eric admitted. “I don’t know enough about mediums to have an answer for that.”

“Fuck,” Sookie muttered under her breath.

“We’ll figure something out,” Eric swept some of her hair away from her face and tossed the used washcloth to the side.

Just then the doorbell rang and Eric’s fangs shot out. Sookie rolled her eyes, dropped her shields and said, “Calm down there, Viking; it’s just Tara coming to get her stuff.”

Eric’s fangs receded and he got up to let Sookie out of bed. She stood up slowly on wobbly legs and pulled her pants up. Eric stood and tucked everything away where it belonged but made sure to land a playful slap on Sookie’s backside as she hustled out of the room. She smiled over her shoulder at him and took the pins from her hair as she went down the stairs. She was finger combing her waves when she got to the door.

“Hey, Tara,” she stepped out of the way to let her friend into the house.

“It’s weird ringing the doorbell here. I ain’t rung the bell at this house since we was kids,” Tara recalled sadly. Things had definitely changed.

“You didn’t have to ring the bell this time either, you know,” Sookie closed the door.

“Judgin’ by that Mercedes outside you still got company. I don’t need to walk in on you fuckin’ that vampire,” Tara pointed out and it was actually a good thing she hadn’t shown up a half hour earlier, or she might have done just that.

Sookie flashed a poker face at Tara but the flaming of her cheeks was all the evidence Tara needed to know she’d dodged a bullet. Eric appeared at the top of the stairs and Tara’s eyes swung in his direction. She glared at him with all the malice she could muster. Regardless of what Sookie said, Tara still didn’t trust Eric.

“Eric, you remember Tara, right?” Sookie asked to break the tension.

“The human who threatened me with a fire poker,” Eric smirked.

Tara rolled her eyes and turned to Sookie. “Can I go upstairs and get my stuff?”

“I’ll be in the kitchen. I need to speak with Pam,” Eric said once he was downstairs.

“How is Pam?” Tara gave an evil smile.

“Right as rain, now that Sookie’s cured her,” Eric said, taking the wind right out of Tara’s sails. He kissed Sookie’s head and swaggered toward the kitchen with Tara staring after him.

“What do you see in that guy?” Tara looked to Sookie.

“Let’s go upstairs,” Sookie insisted and started for the stairs.

Eric would be able to hear them up in the attic but that didn’t really matter. He was already aware that Tara didn’t approve of him and quite frankly, Eric wasn’t a fan of hers either. The tension in the house was almost tangible. If nothing else, it was definitely uncomfortable to be caught between one of her closest friends and her current boyfriend. Tara hadn’t approved of Bill either. Hell, Sookie couldn’t think of anyone Tara would approve of.

“I haven’t had the chance to take a look around up here and see what’s what since moving back in. I’m not sure what Eric kept and what he got rid of when he remodeled the house,” Sookie explained as they climbed up into the attic.

“He shouldn’t have thrown away anything if he really was keeping the house for you,” Tara said judgmentally.

“I’m sure we’ll find your stuff. What we don’t find now I’ll keep searching for and get it back to you as soon as I can,” Sookie promised.

Sookie began to move around the attic, impressed by how neatly labeled and stacked all the boxes were. In addition to the boxes was at least a houseful of old furniture, most of which had been built by various ancestors of Sookie’s long before even Gran lived in the house. For nostalgic reasons Gran had a hard time parting with things like that. She’d always tried to impress upon Sookie and Jason the importance of family and knowing where they came from.

It was, however, while Sookie was going through the various boxes that she realized she didn’t have a complete family history to work from. Somewhere along the way fairy blood came into the picture but there was no record of when it had happened. Then again, that wasn’t really the sort of thing anyone was going to admit to, since infidelity may have been a factor.

“Oh my God,” Tara said with disbelief. “Sookie, you have to come take a look at this!”

Sookie turned and went over to where Tara was standing. Tara was holding a picture of herself with Sookie and Jason from high school. Jason was in his football uniform all muddied up from a game and Sookie immediately remembered that night. Jason got drunk at a party after the game and ended up kissing Tara. Being as clueless as Jason was, he had no idea how much that meant to Tara. She’d gone home heartbroken when Jason ended up leaving the party with some pretty, blonde cheerleader with a toothpaste commercial smile and legs for days. Tara had always compared herself to those girls and it was a waste of time since she was never going to be one of them.

“That night was awful,” Sookie tilted her head against Tara’s.

“You know I used to think so,” Tara set the picture down. “That was before I knew what kind of horrible shit was in store for me.”

Sookie sighed and stepped away from her friend. “I’m not sayin’ you don’t have a right to be angry about the things that happened to you, Tara, but you can’t go holdin’ onto ’em forever. At some point, you gotta let it go.”

“Talk to me about it after you get raped,” Tara spat back.

“Did you forget about Bartlett?” Sookie shouted back at her. “Don’t act like you invented the wheel.”

Now granted, Bartlett hadn’t raped her as a child, but Sookie knew what it was like to feel powerless against her attacker. It had taken years before she could talk about what had happened to her without getting all choked up about it. She’d blamed herself for what had happened, which was ridiculous since she had done absolutely nothing wrong. Hearing Bartlett’s thoughts had really been the worst part of it all. The fact that he’d touched her inappropriately was bad enough, but hearing the things he was thinking while he did it was what really messed her up.

“No offense, Sook, but what happened to you ain’t the same as what happened to me. You’ve also had almost twenty years to put it behind you. I’m not saying what happened to you doesn’t count; it’s just not the same,” Tara turned and grabbed one of the boxes from the pile.

“Fine,” Sookie dropped the box she was holding. “You want to deal with this all on your own, then you do that. I’m done trying to help someone who clearly doesn’t want it. I’ll be downstairs with Eric.”

Tara didn’t say anything else as Sookie climbed down the ladder and then headed down to the kitchen to find Eric.

oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo

Hours later Tara had taken all of her little things. When Eric had the clothes packed up he didn’t know what was Tara’s and what was Sookie’s so it was all mixed together. Tara promised to come back the next day, which Sookie was fine with. They made an agreement to meet in the afternoon since Sookie wasn’t sure where she was sleeping later that night but she would make sure to be back in Bon Temps on time if she ended up back at Eric’s place.

Sookie went with Eric to Fangtasia to sign the papers to regain ownership of her house. Pam signed off on them as a notary and then they were faxed back to Eric’s lawyers to be filed. After that Eric changed clothes. He kept a spare suit in the closet in his office for the occasions when he slept in Fangtasia’s basement… or feeding got a little messy.

“I need to go out front and sit on the dais for a while. You can come with me or stay here; your choice,” Eric told Sookie as he finished buttoning his shirt.

“I think I’ll stay here for now. I should look at potential office spaces,” she smiled at him and he smiled back.

“Excellent idea,” Eric agreed and went over to his desk to start his computer for her.

Sookie didn’t say anything about it but her first step was actually going to be looking at her bank account. She’d deposited the check Eric had written her for her services in Dallas and since the money had gone untouched for more than a year, she was sure the interest she’d accrued in that time would add a nice little bonus. When the computer was all set, Eric reached for his jacket. He was wearing a gray suit and black shirt with the top three buttons left undone. He looked good enough to eat.

“You better get out of here before I maul you,” Sookie warned, her eyes traveling the length of his body.

“Mmm… being mauled sounds like more fun,” Eric winked at her and she flushed a little.

“Hush with that. Go do what you need to do and I’ll bring you what I find,” Sookie promised. Mauling him later was implied.

Eric moved back behind the desk, tilted the chair onto its back wheel and kissed Sookie. She kissed him back, her hands wanting desperately to lift up and grab his neck, but she forced them to stay attached to the arm of the chair. When the kiss broke she sucked in air while he planted a light kiss on her neck.

“Later,” he growled, almost to himself, before standing up and easing the chair back down.

“Is that a promise?” Sookie taunted as he made his way to the door.

“That’s a warning,” he winked at her and then disappeared out the door.

Sookie found her bank website and created a log in for herself so she could look at her account activity online. Since no one else had access to her banking information and there was no death certificate issued for the year she’d been gone, everything was just as she’d left it. As she suspected there was an additional couple hundred dollars in her savings thanks to the interest that had amassed in the last fourteen months. In total she had just under $54,000 in her bank account. It wasn’t a bad start but it wasn’t great either.

Still, it would be enough to at least put down a security deposit on an office space. She found a couple of vacant lots that were for sale but she wasn’t sure she wanted to get into building her own place. She certainly didn’t have the money to do something like that. Although it would be amazing to build a smaller replica of Tara, the plantation in Gone with the Wind. She was a long way away from that, though.

It was better to start small and not count her chickens before they hatched. Sookie found a space that was promising just a few blocks away from Fangtasia in one of the older buildings in town. There would be ample space for a reception area, a private office for Sookie and a small conference room. It dawned on her then that she was going to need employees. Holy shit. How would she go about staffing her little company? What would she even call it?

There were so many things to consider.

Before she could get overwhelmed, however, Sookie took a mental step back. She opened a word document and started to make up a checklist of all the things she thought she might need in order to get her business off the ground. She knew a little something about it from being so hands-on at Merlotte’s but she was she sure there was even more she didn’t know. Thank God Eric knew what he was doing or she would be lost in a matter of minutes.

Sookie printed the office spaces that looked the most promising, along with the list she’d written up for herself. When she was finished she shut down the computer, pulled the pages she’d printed and headed out to the bar. Eric was seated on the dais, just as he had been the night she first met him. He looked bored out of his mind until his eyes found Sookie’s. He smiled then and wiggled his fingers at her, beckoning her forward just as he had the first time she came into his bar.

Sookie walked toward the dais, smiling at the memory of how nervous she had been to approach him. She had tried like hell not to let it show. Eric’s eyes had been traveling all over her, the piercing blue scorching her own eyes when she chanced a little at them. He’d been sprawled in his chair, looking every bit like sex personified. It was no wonder every human in the room wanted a piece of him.

“You look like you got lost on your way to grandmother’s house, little girl,” Eric smirked at Sookie when she stopped in front of the dais.

She looked down at her dress and smiled. She was wearing a gray tunic dress with lace flowers at the neckline and lace trim around the short sleeves and the hemline of the skirt. She’d coupled it with a pair of gray Mary Jane heels and a pewter cameo cuff on her right wrist. With her hair pulled back from her face the way it was, she did look at least five years younger than she was.

“No, I’m not lost. I just took a little detour,” Sookie kept her hands behind her back.

“What are you hiding behind your back?” Eric tried to peer around her but she shifted.

“I don’t know if I can trust you. I’ve heard stories about a big bad wolf lurking in the woods, waiting for a sweet little girl like me to come along,” Sookie smiled sweetly at him.

In the blink of an eye Eric was on his feet and lifting Sookie off the floor. “I assure you, little girl, I am not a wolf.”

“Your teeth say otherwise,” she reached up and touched his fangs with her fingertips and he growled at her.

Their little game momentarily forgotten, Eric pulled her closer and said, “Careful, lover, or I’ll have you right here in front of everyone.”

Sookie gasped but removed her fingers from his fangs. He kissed her then until she had to pull away to breathe. Eric set her down a moment later and took the papers she offered him. Sookie sat down in the chair beside his. He looked at the pages one at a time, studying the research she’d done in the hour and a half she was back in his office. He’d felt her become overwhelmed and then calm herself.

“What do you think?” Sookie bit her bottom lip, leaning toward Eric to hear him better.

“What I think isn’t important. What do you think?” Eric asked her. He would reserve his opinion until she had the chance to say what she wanted to say.

“Of the spaces I have there,” Sookie leafed through the papers until she found what she was looking for. “This is the one I liked the most.”

Eric nodded after taking a look. Sookie didn’t sound like she loved it. He didn’t want her to settle for a space. If she was really going to do this, she should do it all the way and in a place she felt comfortable with. Ideally, she would be a bit out of the way and not surrounded by other businesses. Vampires were still leery about dealing with humans and relying on them was even harder. Eric already suspected a great number of vampires would want Sookie to read their human employees, just as he had done the first time he tested her, to be sure her gift was for real. Vampires would take nothing at its word; they had to see it for themselves to believe.

“Do you get a good feeling about it?” Eric asked her.

She shrugged and said, “It’s hard to say without actually setting foot inside the place. I was thinking maybe I’d book an appointment and check it out for myself.”

“That’s a good idea,” Eric agreed with her and she smiled.

oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo

The next morning Sookie woke just before noon. She spent the night at Eric’s place, having decided she wanted to take a look at one of the office spaces that was up for lease. She called the building manager and made an appointment to see the space that afternoon. Since Sookie wasn’t sure she’d make it back to Bon Temps in time to meet Tara, she called and left Tara a message.

“Hey Tara, it’s me. Listen, something came up and I have to go take a look at some office space here in Shreveport. My appointment is set for two but I’m not sure how long it’s going to take so if you want to get a head start without me, that’s fine. I’ll catch up with you as soon as I can. Talk to you later,” Sookie hung up and headed for the shower.

After getting cleaned up Sookie got dressed in a pair of off-white skinny jeans, a pink knit cropped sweater and off-white ballet flats. She dried her hair so it fell in waves down her back and put on a pair of pink pearl earrings. A little mascara and lip gloss later and she was ready to go. Sookie left Eric a note on her pillow so he’d know where she went and then headed downstairs.

Climbing into the Range Rover was an adventure, as always. The drive to the office building didn’t take long and since she knew how to work the GPS, it didn’t take as long to program the darn thing. After checking the building directory, she took the elevator up to the third floor where building management was and asked to speak with Bradley. She took a seat to wait for him and had just settled into an article in People Magazine when he appeared.

He had striking blue eyes and a goofy smile. “Sookie?” he extended a hand to her.

“That’s me. Nice to meet you,” Sookie shook his warm hand. He was a little taller than her but only by a few inches.

“Same here. So, you’re interested in seeing the office space for rent?” Brad asked, even though he knew darn well why she was there.

“I am,” she nodded and he gestured for her to go out the office door first.

Brad led her back to the bank of elevators and they rode up to the seventh floor. “So what sort of business are you running?”

“Freelance consulting,” Sookie smiled over at him.

He nodded but she could tell he was hoping for more detail than that. Seeing as how she had no idea what kind of clients she was going to have, she thought it best to keep it to herself. And really, she had no way of knowing if the business was even going to take off. Eric had assured her this wouldn’t be a waste of her time or money but she was going to take things one step at a time.

The space for rent was comparable to the size of a small two bedroom apartment but it was perfect for someone running a small business. The reception area was about the size of Sookie’s living room at home. There was a small kitchen just big enough for a sink, a little table and enough counter space for a coffee maker and a mini fridge to go underneath it. There was a supply closet with built-in shelving where she could store extra office supplies (or True Blood and weapons). There were two other rooms, the larger of which she would turn into a conference room and the smaller would be her office.

“What do you think?” Brad asked after showing her around the space.

“It’s nice,” Sookie smiled at him. “If I could, I’d like to take a second walk through with one of my investors before I sign any paperwork. How late are y’all here at night?”

“Generally the building closes at 6:30,” Brad informed her.

“So I wouldn’t be able to have clients here after that?” Sookie frowned slightly.

Brad looked a little concerned and asked, “Forgive me for asking, Sookie, but what sort of clients are you consulting with?”

A quick read of his mind told her he already suspected vampires and she confirmed it for him. “I work mostly with a vampire clientele.”

That was when Brad’s demeanor changed. “That might be a problem for us.”

Of course it was.

“You don’t allow vampires in your building, Brad?” Sookie arched an eyebrow.

“It’s not my rule, you understand. My father is… well, he’s old fashioned,” Brad said but Sookie knew from his thoughts that Brad wasn’t being entirely truthful.

“That’s a shame,” Sookie started toward the door. “Thank you for your time. I won’t be coming back.”

oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo

Sookie was mad enough to spit but there was nothing to be done about it. At least she’d found out ahead of time that the people running that building were prejudiced against vampires. She spent the drive out to Bon Temps thinking over the things Eric had said before about the importance of having a good feel about the place she worked from. On a whim, she stopped at one of the vacant lots where she could potentially build her own office.

The grass was that golden/faded green color it always was just before winter descended. The trees were half bare and fire-colored leaves littered the ground. Sookie closed her eyes and tried to picture her office. Once again she was greeted by a miniature version of Tara and Twelve Acres and she couldn’t help smiling. It would be lovely to work in a place like that.

Someday, she sighed and told herself.

Sookie got back in the Range Rover and finished the drive over to her house. Tara’s beat up car was parked out front and the front door was left ajar. There were two boxes already in the back seat with some of Tara’s clothes peeking out of the top. Sookie felt sadness heavy in her heart. She didn’t want Tara to go but it seemed like maybe that was the best thing for her. Maybe some time away would help Tara get her head on straight.

The odd thing was that Sookie didn’t pick up any brainwaves coming from inside the house as she approached it. Odder still was the distinct smell of gunpowder in the air. Sookie froze where she stood and considered her options. If a gun had been fired recently, and the smell in the air indicated that was what had happened, it was probably best for Sookie to get the hell out of there.

The possibilities of what may have occurred came at her from all angles, all at once. Could Tara have killed herself? Had someone broken into the house and shot her? The possibility that Debbie may have thought she was shooting Sookie instead crossed her mind. Jesus, what if Tara was dead?

“Tara?” Sookie called out, slowly hedging her way to the front door. Before Eric had bought the house she’d kept a shotgun in the coat closet but she had no idea if it was still there. “Tara, can you hear me?”

Sookie stayed on the porch. She wanted to go inside but her gut told her to stay right where she was and for once, she listened. Sookie pulled her cell phone from her purse and dialed Jason’s number.

“Hey, Sook,” Jason said rather cheerfully.

“Jason, I need you to come out to the house. Tara’s car is here and I can smell gunpowder,” Sookie wasted no time.

“Oh hell,” Jason muttered. “Are you sure, Sook?”

“I know what gunpowder smells like, Jason.”

“Don’t go in the house. If she’s hurt, it’s a crime scene,” Jason warned her as he slipped into cop mode.

“I’ll be outside in a giant black Range Rover,” Sookie promised.

“Range Rover? Where the hell’d you get one of those?”

“Jason, focus!” Sookie rolled her eyes.

She wanted to go charging into the house and check on her friend. The gun could have gone off in a struggle. Tara could have been kidnapped, killed… any number of things and the more time she had to stand there and wonder about it, the worse the possibilities became in her mind.

“I’m at Merlotte’s. I’ll be there fast as I can, Sookie,” Jason promised and hung up the phone.

Sookie got back into the Range Rover when a cold breeze kicked up. With about ten minutes to go before sunset, Sookie felt Eric come to life way back in Shreveport. Without hesitating, she opened her phone again and dialed Eric’s number.

“What’s wrong?” Eric asked without even saying hello when he answered.

“There’s something wrong at my house,” Sookie said and explained what she’d seen and smelled when she arrived.

“Did you call the police?” Eric asked.

“Jason is on his way. I’m sitting in the Range Rover waiting for him,” Sookie took a deep breath to try and keep from crying.

“I’ll leave as soon as the sun sets. Stay out of the house, Sookie, until Jason gives you the all clear to go inside. Promise me you’ll do that,” he nearly pleaded with her.

“I’m staying put. If Tara’s hurt, I don’t want to make it worse,” Sookie felt a tear slip from her eye.

“I’ll call in one of my trackers and see if he can’t follow a scent. If it was Debbie that was there, we’ll find her,” Eric promised.

Sookie was quiet after that and stayed on the phone with Eric until Jason got there. By then the sun had set and she’d heard Eric moving around the house, getting dressed so he could leave the instant the sun was down.

“I’m flying in. I’ll be there in twenty minutes,” Eric said and she heard the slam of the door on the other end of the line. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Sookie said and then hung up.

Jason knocked on the window of the Range Rover with a ‘what the fuck?’ expression on his face. Sookie climbed down from the car and closed the door. “Okay, so now will you tell me where this came from?”

“It’s Eric’s,” Sookie rolled her eyes again.

“Nice ride,” Jason stared at the car for a minute.

“Seriously, Jason now is so not the time to eye fuck the Range Rover,” she gestured toward the house.

“I don’t smell gunpowder, Sook,” Jason said as they walked up the front steps.

“Trust me, it’s there,” Sookie said, not really wanting to talk about the amount of vampire blood she had in her system at the moment.

“You wait here. I’ll go in first and take a look around. You don’t come in until I tell you to,” Jason said sternly and pulled his weapon from its holster. “You hearin’ me, Sook?”

“Yeah, yeah, I heard you,” Sookie pushed him toward the door.

Jason pushed the door open with the toe of his boot and took a defensive stance with his gun. He aimed it strategically and Sookie held back the snicker that was threatening to escape when she remembered playing cops and robbers with her brother as a kid. She listened to Jason’s thoughts as he moved through the house. He was going by a mental checklist to make sure he missed nothing. He checked closets, corners and other hiding places.

Shit, she was right. Gunpowder, Jason thought as he moved through the dining room toward the kitchen. Oh fuck! No! No!

Without waiting for the all clear, Sookie ran into the house. She slammed into Jason’s back and peered around him to see what he was seeing. There on the kitchen floor, almost in the exact same position Gran had been, Tara was dead.

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