Chapter 5: Mean Streak

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“Keep your eyes closed,” Eric said as he let go of Sookie’s hand.

“Where are you going?” she asked, her hands staying out around her sides, groping at unoccupied air.

“Just keep your eyes closed,” Eric said from somewhere a few feet away.

Sookie knew she was outside but that was all she knew. She could feel the humidity on her skin and even though it was a week away from Halloween, it was still fairly mild outside. She wondered what vampires did for the holiday since she hadn’t been with Bill long enough to celebrate the day. She recalled that on Buffy the Vampire Slayer that was a night when vamps just hung back and chilled out at home and she wondered if that was really true. She’d have to ask Eric later.

“Okay,” Eric was behind her, his hands resting coolly on her shoulders. “Open your eyes.”

Sookie opened just one eye a sliver but when her brain registered what she was saying, both eyes popped open. “A swimming pool?” her head turned to look up at Eric as best she could. “You have a pool in your yard?”

“Is it that surprising?” Eric smirked at her.

“Well it’s not like you can go for a dip anytime you want,” Sookie smiled in return.

“I can’t but you can,” he kissed her forehead.

The pool was gorgeous. In fact, the entire yard was amazing. The pool looked more like a tropical lagoon than it did your average swimming pool. There was a waterfall at the far end but the water wasn’t running just then. Sookie craned her neck and Eric took her hand to walk around the perimeter of the pool with her. There was a small section blocked off from the rest of the pool that she assumed was a hot tub.

“This is amazing, Eric,” she smiled up at him. Large hands began to pull up the silky material of her nightgown. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“No clothes allowed in the pool,” he kissed her neck and pulled the material up higher.

She could feel the lust building inside him and pushing its way into her. Oh boy. Her heart sped up and without a second thought; she raised her arms so he could pull the gown up over her head. It swished against her leg as it dropped to the cobblestone path at her feet. Sookie turned her head again and her eyes were barely closed when his lips crashed down on hers. She turned slowly, kicking off the slippers as she did. Her hands rested on his sides and slowly moved down to the elastic band of the track pants Eric was wearing.

It was slightly ridiculous how good he looked without product in his hair and nothing but a pair of running pants. Eric held her by the back of her head, pushing her back toward the steps at the shallow end of the pool. When they were close to the edge he lifted her easily and her legs circled his waist. Sookie broke the kiss and looked down to push his pants down far enough for him to kick them the rest of the way off.

“I never would have thought you would be so okay with sex outdoors,” Eric smiled against her neck and gently turned her face so he could kiss the line of her jaw.

“If your neighbors lived closer, I wouldn’t be,” Sookie pulled his mouth to hers.

The water was surprisingly warm, not that Sookie paid much attention to that. They waded to the far of the pool where the water was deeper and Sookie discovered there was a water slide that was hidden by the rocks of the waterfall. Eric lifted her out of the water and set her on the end of the slide, leaving her legs dangling over the edge. Air that had felt slightly chilled was dangerously close to cold. Sookie leaned back, bracing herself on her elbows and watched Eric’s mouth move gently up the inside of her thigh. Her breath caught when he paused where her femoral artery was and wondered if he would bite her there.

As if he knew what she was thinking about, he smirked and kissed the spot but didn’t bite. In fact, his fangs weren’t even out at the moment. Eric moved further up her leg and inhaled when he got to her center. Sookie’s eyes met Eric’s and she watched him closely as he pressed gentle kisses against her warm, wet skin. His tongue parted her slowly and he took his time tasting her.

Sookie could feel his excitement, lust, desire, need, love and a bunch of other things flowing into her and it was a little overwhelming at first. Just feeling her own pleasure was a little intoxicating but feeling Eric’s as well pushed her over the edge quickly. It was an amazing turn-on to know he was so turned on by her. She hadn’t even realized her fingers were in his hair until she was nearly pulling it out with the force of her orgasm.

Eric rose out of the water and floated up over her. She gasped, having forgotten that he could fly. His lips landed on hers and he carefully scooped her up off the slide. Sookie’s arms circled his neck, holding his mouth to hers while they floated over to one of the chaise lounges on the deck. Eric landed on his back and Sookie shifted herself so she was straddled on top of him. She let go of his neck and moved one of her hands between them to stroke his cock. He growled when her thumb swept over the head and the slight twist of her wrist his had fangs shooting out of his mouth.

Eric sat up on the chair, intending to tilt Sookie’s head to get at her neck but she wasn’t having any of that. Instead, she kissed him again and stroked his fangs with her tongue one at a time. The sounds he made were incredibly sexy and seemed to have control over Sookie’s hips, since they lifted off his lap. She positioned him just right and then slowly slid down until he was fully sheathed inside her. Their eyes met and it felt like a firecracker went off in their bond.

Sookie rocked her hips against his just once to let him know she was ready. Both of Eric’s hands were in her hair, holding her steady. Her hands braced on his shoulders, prepared to give her the leverage she was going to need. The sex after the bond had been too quick for her to really appreciate just how amazing it was but there was plenty of time now. Eric began to thrust slowly and the little bit of grinding he did against her skin felt fantastic in that position. He moved her head one way and then the other so he could kiss every inch of her skin he could get his lips on. No part of her went unkissed.

With what seemed like zero effort on his part, Eric stood suddenly, his hands grasping her ass firmly. Sookie expected to end up on one of the glass tables or up against a wall but he just stood there, his hands guiding her up and down. Her legs stayed around his waist and she suddenly what he’d meant by stamina all those months before when she’d caught him in the basement with whatever her name was. The knowledge he was with someone else had disappointed her in ways she didn’t fully understand at the time. Back then she was so confused and not at all sure of what she was feeling.

She had convinced herself that her feelings for Eric were completely blood induced. No way could she ever love a man like Eric. He was ruthless, hard and had no humor. But she knew there was more after what she had witness on that roof in Dallas. He wasn’t all stone and blank stares. There was deep love in him; he was just extremely selective of who he would give it to. No way had he loved the woman he had strung up in his basement, although it was obvious she was there by choice. Knowing what she did now, Sookie couldn’t blame her for it one bit.

“Tu es à moi,” Eric said once he had her pinned against the sliding patio door.

Sookie remembered just enough high school French to know what that meant. She looked him right in his eyes and said, “Prouvez-le.”

Eric growled when Sookie turned her head, baring her neck to him. His nose nuzzled against the pounding of her pulse under her skin. She felt his fangs drag along the column of her neck and when he’d found the place he wanted to bite, he kissed her softly before letting his fangs take over. He hit her a little harder than he had in the past but the little bit of pain only made the pleasure feel that much sweeter and Eric growled in satisfaction when Sookie’s orgasm pounced on her unexpectedly. Knowing that being bitten like that turned her on was just another bonus among the many he found in her.

The intoxicating sweetness of her blood in combination with the tight squeezing of her hot inner muscles stole what little control Eric had left and with one last, hard thrust, he released with a growl loud enough to make the glass door vibrate. Sookie clung to Eric, her heart threatening to beat right out of her chest. Her legs went limp and it was a good thing Eric seemed to have boundless energy or they would have been a tangled heap on the cobblestone patio. Sookie pressed little kisses up and down the column of Eric’s neck and then over the line of his collarbone.

He licked away the few drops of blood that had escaped him since he was unwilling to see a single drop go to waste. He made sure to seal her wounds but he wasn’t sure if she wanted them healed. He pulled his head back and kissed her on the mouth before asking, “Do you want the marks?”

“Not where anyone can see,” she said and he was okay with that.

Eric pricked his finger and rubbed his blood over the little wounds. They were gone in seconds, her skin perfectly knitted back together the way it was before he bit. He kissed her neck and then gently set her down on the ground. She giggled when her feet hit the patio. Her legs wobbled a little and she steadied herself by grabbing his ass. He quirked an eyebrow at her and she just shrugged.

“It’s where my hands landed,” she said casually and squeezed the cool, firm muscle under her hands.

“Lover,” he grinned at her and she felt her cheeks burn a bit at the use of a pet name that would have sounded too much like it belonged in a trashy romance novel had anyone else used it. “You can put your hands on me anywhere, anytime.”

“Careful what you wish for,” Sookie smirked and then reached behind herself to push the patio door open.

oOo ~ oOo ~ oOo

The sound of Sookie’s cell phone buzzing on the nightstand was what woke her up. The room was mostly dark, except for the closet light that had been left on for her so she wouldn’t trip when she got out of bed. Eric had offered her the spare bedroom but Sookie had declined for the time being. Bill hadn’t much cared for Sookie sleeping beside him while he was dead for the day and she assumed it was because it made him more uncomfortable than it did her.

She grabbed the phone just before it went to voice mail and was surprised to see Alcide’s name on the display. “Hello?” she spoke softly, not that she would wake Eric no matter how loud she was.

“Sookie?” Alcide’s gruff, gravelly voice filled her ear.

“Yeah, I’m here,” she got out of bed and grabbed for the silky silver robe that matched the nightgown she was wearing. “What’s going on? Everything alright?”

“I was hoping maybe we could get together for coffee this afternoon. There’s something I need to talk to you about and it would be better if we met face to face somewhere away from your house,” Alcide told her.

“Sure, I can do that. I’m in Shreveport, actually. Where do you want to meet and when?” Sookie asked as she headed for Eric’s enormous closet. It was big enough to be a small bedroom.

“There’s a diner on the corner of Abelard and Kensington. Do you know where that is?”

“I can find it. How soon do you want to meet?”

“How’s thirty minutes?”

“Works for me. See you then,” Sookie said and hung up after saying goodbye.

There was a small shopping bag with clothes in it that Pam had brought for her. Sookie looked at the outfit Pam had selected and she shook her head at all the pink inside the bag. It was obvious that Pam had picked the clothes. Sookie sighed and stripped off the nightgown. She hung it on one of the vacant padded hangers and left it hanging with Eric’s clothes. Sookie slipped on the matching bra and panties and didn’t even want to know how Pam knew her sizes. She would just assume Pam had checked the tags on what Eric had taken off of her the night before.

After that she pulled on a pair of light gray skinny jeans that fit her perfectly, along with a pair of socks. Finally she slipped on pinkish-beige blouse patterned with roses in various shades of pink. Pam had even brought her a pair of pink pearl earrings and a pair of gray knit Uggs that matched the jeans. Finally, at the bottom of the bag, was a magenta hoodie that matched the blouse. The outfit was the right blend of stylish and cozy and everything fit Sookie just right.

She went to the bathroom and brushed her teeth and hair. Sookie didn’t have any makeup with her but considering the fresh dose of Eric’s blood she’d taken just before sunrise when he’d asked her to bite him while they were making love, she didn’t really need makeup. Her skin was perfectly clear and almost glowing like she’d just stepped out of the summer sun. She quickly wove her hair into a braid and secured it with a little elastic she found in one of the drawers in Eric’s bathroom.

Just so he wouldn’t freak out if she didn’t get back before the sun set, Sookie wrote him a quick note on a piece of paper she found in his office. She left the note on her pillow but hoped she would be back before Eric was awake. A little voice in her head said Eric wasn’t going to be thrilled with her going to see Alcide but that was just too bad for him. Alcide was her friend and that’s all there was to it. Eric was just going to have to get over it.

Before the sun had come up Eric had told her there was an SUV in the garage she would be able to use if she needed to go out during the day. The fact that he wasn’t expecting her to stay in bed with him all day long was a relief. Those couple of days that had been spent in Dallas had been boring as hell for her. While Bill had never flat out told her he expected her to stay with him, she’d felt weird about leaving. She knew he would rise with questions of where she’d been all day. He was always suspicious of her which was something she had mistaken for concern. In looking back, however, she wondered if Bill ever trusted her.

She hadn’t given him a reason to think he couldn’t, and yet he’d kept a very close eye on her. It seemed as if no aspect of her life was too private for it to be privy to him. Funny how that didn’t work both ways. Sookie shook thoughts of Bill from her mind and kissed Eric’s forehead before grabbing her purse and leaving the house. The SUV in the garage was a giant Range Rover she practically needed a step ladder in order to climb into it. The keys for it had been hanging on a hook near the garage door and after opening the overhead door; Sookie slipped the car key into the ignition.

The car started easily and she was surprised by how quiet the engine was. The electronics installed in the car came to life. She didn’t have a clue how to work half of the stuff. She certainly didn’t have a GPS unit in her old car; that was for sure. She moved the seat forward since her feet didn’t reach the peddles with it being as far back as it was. Sookie fastened her seat belt and attempted to get the GPS to work. It took a few minutes to figure it out but she was able to find the intersection she was looking for.

With the GPS calculating the route for her, Sookie put the car in reverse and started to back out. The windows were tinted and she wondered if they were bulletproof as well. She wouldn’t be surprised if they were. The car drove easily for its size and it didn’t take long for her to get to the diner Alcide suggested they meet at. His van was parked outside the diner and it was obvious he wasn’t expecting to see Sookie jump down from the Range Rover.

“Nice ride,” Alcide said as she walked toward him.

She hit the button on the little remote to activate the alarm and then accepted the hug he offered her. He stiffened and growled when he breathed her in. He could smell Eric all over her and it wasn’t just his blood he smelled. Very vivid images of Eric on top of Sookie, both of them naked in the woods, came barreling into his mind. He had hoped it was just a onetime thing—a moment of insanity on Sookie’s part. Knowing she couldn’t be glamoured left him with the knowledge that she had chosen to be with Eric and that didn’t sit well with him at all.

“It’s Eric’s,” Sookie admitted, seeing no reason to lie about it. “I was at his place when you called.”

“You’re staying with Eric now?” Alcide obviously didn’t approve of this change.

“He’s got his memories back. The spell was lifted two nights ago at the hotel when all that stuff went down at the Festival of Tolerance,” Sookie explained as they walked toward the entrance of the diner.

Alcide held the door open for her and Sookie walked inside. A waitress in her fifties told them to take a seat anywhere they wanted and Sookie picked a booth in the front by the windows. Menus were laminated and propped up by metal napkin dispensers at the far end of the table. The waitress came over a minute later with a pot of coffee in her hand and Sookie eagerly flipped her mug over.

“Y’all need a minute?” the waitress asked.

“Yes, please,” Sookie smiled as the waitress—her name tag read Peggy- filled Sookie’s cup.

“Just holler when you’re ready. The soups today are chicken gumbo and southwestern corn chowder,” Peggy advised them before moseying back behind the counter to do her side work.

Sookie looked over the menu and decided something high in protein was in order and a little boost of iron wouldn’t hurt either. Once Alcide had decided they flagged down the waitress and put in their orders. Sookie got the chicken fried steak and eggs while Alcide got the huevos rancheros with bacon and turkey sausage added to it. Where he planned to put it all, God only knew since the picture on the menu showed a giant platter full of food. Just for the heck of it, Sookie also ordered a double vanilla milkshake.

“So how did you end up at Eric’s place?” Alcide asked, barely keeping the growl out of his voice.

“I went along last night when Bill wanted to blow up the Moon Goddess Emporium. Things got a little out of control and I ended up blacking out,” Sookie told him and of course, Alcide growled at that. “Oh stop it! I’m fine. Antonia is history and it’s my friend Lafayette who got hurt the worst. Bill got shot and I don’t know if his leg is going to heal.”

“Why wouldn’t it heal? If the bullet wasn’t silver it should work its way out just fine,” Alcide stared intensely at Sookie.

“How the heck should I know? All I know is that Pam took a shot at Antonia and the bullet bounced off the magic shield that was surrounding the emporium and it hit Bill in the leg.”

“So how’d you end up getting knocked out?” Alcide added sugar to his coffee.

“I must have overdone it and it just got to be too much for me. Luckily I was already on my ass or I really would have gotten hurt. I had a little bump on my head but Eric took care of that for me,” Sookie admitted and Alcide shook his head. “What’s your problem, Alcide?”

“You know damn well what my problem is,” he glared at her again.

“And I thought we agreed we weren’t going to judge each other’s relationships anymore? If you’re just going to second guess me to death then this is a waste of my time. It’s bad enough I got Bill just waitin’ to tell me what’s on his mind,” Sookie folded her arms over her chest and sat back in the booth.

Peggy brought over Sookie’s milkshake without saying a word and then disappeared again. Sookie unwrapped the straw and plunged it into the thick, creamy goodness of the shake. She stirred the ice cream/milk concoction while Alcide tried to dig himself out of the hole he was in. Alcide had made it abundantly clear how he felt about Sookie being involved with vampires. While there was a part of her that sometimes questioned her sanity, there was something natural about the way she fell in with them. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons why she should stay away but dating humans just wasn’t an option for her.

“You’re right,” Alcide finally admitted. “I just worry about you is all.”

“Like I don’t worry about what’ll happen to you if Debbie falls off the wagon?” Sookie arched an eyebrow and the grim purse of Alcide’s lips told her he got the point. “Look, Alcide, you don’t have to understand it or accept it, but I do ask that you respect my choices here. Whether you want to believe it or not, Eric really does love me and I love him back.”

“How can you be sure he loves you? People lie about that sort of thing all the time and vampires will say just about anything to get humans to do what they want them to,” Alcide took a drink of his coffee.

“First of all, that’s not just limited to vampires. Manipulation is manipulation whether you have a pulse or not—that ain’t exactly exclusive to vampires. Second of all, I know Eric loves me because I can feel it. We’re bonded now,” Sookie admitted and Alcide choked on his coffee.

“Fuck,” he growled and wiped at his shirt. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“Do I look like I’m kidding?” Sookie sat there straight faced and Alcide shook his head.

She lose her mind? Vamp’s gonna get her killed… Lost Debbie trying to help her…

Sookie glared at Alcide after hearing his thoughts. She hadn’t meant to listen but they were coming in loud and clear. “What?” he asked with a slightly annoyed look on his face.

“I didn’t lose my mind and don’t even try to tell me you weren’t thinking that because I heard you,” Sookie continued to glare.

Alcide’s eyes widened in surprise and then anger. “You stay out of my head.”

“You were thinking it too loud. I didn’t hear it on purpose,” Sookie sighed. “What did you mean about losing Debbie?”

Peggy came by with their food just then and set the plates down on the table in front of them. “Y’all need hot sauce or ketchup?”

“No, thank you,” Sookie reached for her fork.

“Can I get a glass of water and some hot sauce?” Alcide asked and Peggy nodded.

A beer would be better… Maybe some tequila.

“So what’s this about Debbie leaving you?” Sookie asked a second time.

Alcide picked up his knife and started slashing through the sunny side up eggs that were resting on top of the pile of potatoes, black beans, salsa, guacamole and tortilla strips. Oh, and then the bacon and turkey sausage. Sookie was willing to bet that platter weighed at least two pounds. As it was, Sookie was sure she would end up taking half of her meal home with her.

Peggy brought by Alcide’s water and the hot sauce he’d asked for and then disappeared again. While he was doctoring up his food the way he wanted it, Alcide started talking. “I got home late last night and Debbie wasn’t there. I stayed up for a while, thinking maybe she’d gone out with some of the other girls in the pack we joined. But I fell asleep before she got home. I woke up when I heard a motorcycle in our driveway. I look out the window and see her climbing off the bike of our new pack master. She kissed him and then came inside. I get downstairs and she reeks of the guy. She was drunk off her ass and it was obvious she’d slept with him. We got into a huge fight and she admitted she cheated.

“And as if that’s not bad enough, she started using V again. When we got back together I told her the only way it was going to work is if she stayed faithful and quit it with the V. She promised me that was all behind her. She told me all she wanted was a quiet, normal life. When Debbie’s sober, she’s a great person to be around. She looked like she was taking it seriously and I trusted her when she said she was clean. Now I don’t know what to think. I just… I love her. I’ve seen her be a really great person. When she’s not on that shit we’re good, but the V makes her do crazy things.”

It was hard to tell if Alcide was angry or saddened by the things that had happened. Sookie found herself wondering how she fit into the equation. If Debbie was on V again, that would certainly explain why she’d shown up like she did at Sookie’s house. Sookie had suspected something was off about the woman. True, Debbie had apologized already for what had happened the last time their paths crossed but Sookie took that with a grain of salt. She accepted the apology for Alcide’s sake because being at odds with his girlfriend wouldn’t work if they were going to be friends.

“I’m sorry all that happened,” Sookie said sympathetically. She didn’t really know what else to say. “I have to ask, though, what does this have to do with me?”

“She smelled you on me the night you got shot. I wasn’t supposed to be out there but I… I had a feeling you were in trouble so I went. I wanted to make sure you were okay and Debbie followed me.” Alcide explained.

“And you didn’t think you should tell her where you were going? Does she know that we’re just friends?” Sookie cut her steak into bite size pieces.

Alcide sighed and Sookie could tell he was working extra hard to keep her out of his head. He was hiding something from her. She fixed her gaze on him and set her silverware to the side. Whatever he was holding back had to be the key to all this; the reason why Debbie had cheated on him.

“What aren’t you telling me?” Sookie asked after Alcide got a little too quiet and focused on his food. “I know you’re blocking me from something. You’re pushing at me. You can either tell me yourself or I can go in after it.”

Alcide growled and grumbled under his breath. He chewed for a few seconds before swallowing and then taking a big drink of his water. He wiped his mouth, clearly stalling for time. “I saw you.”

“You saw me? What does that mean?” Sookie’s brows furrowed.

“The full moon. Debbie and I were initiated into the pack that night but you were out there running around with a shotgun asking about werepanthers and… we ended up going to look for you even though you said you were okay. I tracked your scent and when I found you, you and Eric were… you were on the ground.” Alcide said with a dip of his chin and a lift of his brows.

Sookie sat there stock still, waiting for the earth to open up and swallow her. Shit, shit, shit. Talk about an awkward moment. “How much did you see?” she asked her voice soft and her eyes fixed on the table.

“Enough to make Debbie question my feelings for you,” Alcide admitted.

Sookie’s eyes shot up to Alcide’s. The way he looked at her told her that Debbie had a right to be concerned. “We’re just friends, Alcide.”

“Yeah, I know,” he looked pained to admit it.

“Well if you were that convincing with her, no wonder she got the wrong idea. What were you…? I can’t believe you saw us,” Sookie shook her head. “And then on top of that you disobey your pack master and get involved when he told you not to? What were you thinking, Alcide?”

“I don’t regret it, Sookie. You could have died that night and I’m not sorry I went out there. Debbie can think what she wants; it doesn’t change what she did.” Alcide insisted.

“No, it doesn’t make it right but it does explain it.”

“And the V? What about that?”

Sookie sighed and pushed her plate away, her appetite suddenly gone. “I don’t know. Did you ask her why she started up with that again?”

“She said she wants to have a baby,” Alcide said and Sookie nearly choked on the mouthful of milkshake she had.

Right, because a baby was exactly what a crazy V addict needed. Sookie could only imagine what taking V would do during a regular, human pregnancy and the effects couldn’t be much better for a werewolf. Alcide went on to explain that this wasn’t the first time they’d clashed over kids. Debbie wanted to be a mother, whereas Alcide didn’t want to put a kid through the kinds of things he’d gone through as a child.

“I’m big now but that was before I went through my first change. I was a scrawny little kid next to all the others. It was like that until I hit puberty and went through my first change. I shot up like seven inches in just a couple of months. All of a sudden I was bigger and stronger than everybody else. I was a wimp one way and a freak the other. I’ve always felt like an outsider and if I have a kid with Debbie, it’s going to be a wolf. If I have kids at all, it’s going to be with someone who isn’t one of my kind,” Alcide informed her.

Suddenly Debbie’s fears made even more sense. “Someone like me? Alcide, do you… Christ on a cracker, men are dumb sometimes.”

“What?” he really didn’t get it.

“Think about it for a second. Debbie wants babies and you’re telling her you’re only going to have them with women who aren’t like her. Then you go sneaking off to help some human girl who you obviously care about after your pack master ordered you not to. No wonder she thinks you’re cheatin’ on her!” Sookie shook her head. “The fact that you and I are just friends doesn’t really matter to her. Then you throw V on top of it when you know what it does to her and of course she went a little crazy.”

“You think this is my fault?” Alcide glared at her.

“I think you were inconsiderate of her feelings. If I were in her shoes, I would have dumped you,” Sookie said without hesitation.

Alcide looked unhappy with Sookie’s lack of sympathy but the way she saw it, what did he expect? She hated that she was actually feeling sympathy for Debbie in this situation but it was hard not to. Debbie having babies was a terrifying prospect but it wasn’t up to Sookie to decide whether or not Debbie should be allowed to have them. As far as Sookie was concerned, that was a matter for Debbie and the Lord to work out.

“There’s something else you need to know,” Alcide sighed and Sookie braced herself.

“Marcus is… well, he’s a real alpha. You have to be in order to run the pack or no one’s gonna take you seriously. Apparently some shifter was fooling around with his woman. I didn’t find out until it was too late that the woman is his ex, and the shifter was your boss. I told Marcus I would sorta play his lieutenant so Sam would take him seriously. Only Sam mouthed off to Marcus and it ended up being this brawl of four on one. They beat him up pretty bad and when he blacked out, he shifted into someone else.”

“What do you mean he shifted into someone else?” Sookie’s mind was racing, imagining poor Sam beat to heck because some wolf had a bad attitude.

“Said his name was Tommy; he was Sam’s brother,” Alcide informed her.

She vaguely recalled Tommy. She hadn’t seen Sam since the day he fired her. She’d thought there was something off about Sam’s behavior that day; he just didn’t seem like himself. Sookie had no idea that people could shift into other people, but after the things she’d seen with Antonia, Marnie and Lafayette, anything seemed possible. Really, if that was Sam that fired her, he wouldn’t be out of line. Without meaning to, she’d been gone for over a year. Of course he would need to replace her in that time. Not to mention, she was constantly needing time off or asking to leave early for one reason or another. Enough was enough. Maybe it was best she just cut her losses and move on. But what would she do? Sookie sighed as she realized the only things she was really qualified for dealt with the supernatural community and she wasn’t sure she wanted to get that involved.

“He died, Sookie. Marcus and some of the guys in the pack beat him to death.” Alcide told her, jarring Sookie from her thoughts.

She gasped and her eyes filled with tears. She didn’t know Tommy all that well but she knew Sam, and she felt horrible for not being there for her friend when he was going through a rough time. No matter what the state of their friendship was, she wouldn’t turn her back on him anymore than she did on Tara. With her appetite most definitely gone, Sookie asked Peggy for a box to put the leftovers in.

The sky was starting to darken and that was Sookie’s cue to pay her half of the check and get the heck out of there. Alcide followed suit and once the tab was settled—they argued for a solid five minutes over who was paying- he followed Sookie outside. He walked with her to the giant Range Rover and leaned back to take in the exterior of the car.

“There’s one last thing,” Alcide said and Sookie laughed.

“Of course there is,” she sighed and then motioned to him in a beckoning manner. “Whatever it is lay it on me.”

“I don’t need to tell you how dangerous Debbie is when she’s on V. And if she’s hooked up with Marcus, that only makes it worse. He doesn’t care that he nearly beat the wrong guy to death. He’s going to be looking for the real Sam, real soon. If that vampire loves you as much as he says he does, he’ll keep an eye on you. I don’t want you getting killed, too.”

This was so not what Sookie needed right now. Just when there was the chance things might calm down a little and she could maybe try and settle into a real relationship with Eric, Debbie Pelt had to come along and fuck everything up again. Her last partner in crime had been a nasty enough customer, but this Marcus guy sounded even worse. Throw in a little more V and it would be a total replica of the last time. So much for Debbie wanting to be her friend.

“You know you’re going to hear from Eric about this, right?” Sookie sighed and shook her head, already imagining the tirade Eric was going to go on when she told him about this.

“I can handle him.” Alcide grumbled.

“And you realize that if she comes after me while he’s around, he’s going to kill her, right?” Sookie asked because she had no doubt there would be no way to talk Eric out of it.

“I know,” Alcide said in a defeated tone.

Sookie put her takeout box on the driver’s seat of the Range Rover and then turned to give Alcide a hug goodbye. “For your safety and my sanity, it’s probably best if we don’t see each other for a while.”

“Probably,” Alcide hugged her tightly. He lingered a little longer than he probably should have but he wasn’t thrilled about letting her go. “Just promise me that if things get bad with Eric or you need someone to watch your back that you’ll call me. It’s my fault you’re in this clusterfuck in the first place.”

Sookie agreed although she knew Eric would be all over it. No way was he going to trust Alcide with her safety again after this. Sookie climbed up into the Range Rover and set her takeout box on the seat beside her along with her purse. She started the car and Alcide stepped back so she could pull out. With the GPS guiding her, Sookie headed back to Eric’s house, hoping to get back before the sun had officially set.

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