Lafayette agreed to meet with Eric face to face, but he would only do so in a private home where an invitation could be rescinded if Eric got out of line. Sookie proposed her house since it was neutral territory, and not a place that anyone from Lafayette’s coven might turn up to look for him. The biggest potential threat they faced was Bill, and having a couple of witches around that could maybe work a spell to keep him away might not be such a bad thing.
After getting off the phone with Lafayette, Eric put his phone back in his pocket and asked, “Are you aware that Bill is expecting you to travel with him in the near future?”
Sookie’s eyes widened and that was all the answer Eric needed.
“He called me before sunrise this morning to warn me to stay away from you. He seems to be under the impression that you’ll be going with him on assignment somewhere,” Eric informed her.
“He didn’t… after you left I went to sleep,” Sookie told him. “I was in bed alone when that jerk Bobby showed up at my house.”
“Bobby woke you?” Eric lifted an eyebrow, and it was obvious to Sookie he was unhappy. “He wasn’t supposed to wake you. He was supposed to leave the car, and the note attached to the windshield.”
“He must have gotten his signals crossed somewhere because he was pounding on my door before the sun was even fully up,” Sookie told Eric.
Eric growled unfavorably and said, “I’ll have a talk with Mr. Burnham about better following my instructions in the future.”
“A talk with words or a talk with fists?” Sookie asked nervously. “I don’t want to get him in trouble.”
“He represents me,” Eric said sternly. “When I send him on tasks his attitude reflects back on me. When he fails to follow my instructions to the letter that also reflects on me. My intention was to make today easier for you, not have you up at the crack of dawn to receive visitors.”
“Thank you, by the way,” Sookie said politely, and held out the keys for him. “I appreciate your kindness, but I can’t take your car even on a temporary basis. It would raise too many eyebrows. There’s no way Tray Dawson has a shiny BMW as a loaner.”
Eric smiled and said, “Never let it be said that you aren’t practical when it suits you.”
“I don’t like lyin’ and sneakin’ around, Eric. I don’t feel good about it, and it’s not the way my Gran raised me. But I also don’t want to end up dyin’ because I made too many foolish mistakes. I told you last night that I need your help, and that’s still true. I thought I could give Bill the chance to come clean and tell me the truth, but… well; he seems to have plans to kidnap me and make it look like I volunteered to go along. So I’m going to do what you said, and I’m going to trust you. Please don’t make me regret it,” Sookie said with pleading eyes.
Eric’s phone buzzed then and he answered it quickly when he saw Pam’s name on the display, “Speak.”
Sookie sat back against the couch, arms folded over her chest while she listened to Eric’s side of the conversation. He wasn’t speaking in English any longer, and neither his face nor tone gave away any clues as to what he as discussing. Sookie gathered that since he wasn’t speaking a language she could understand that it was more than likely something Eric didn’t want her to hear. The conversation was over as quickly as it began, and Eric was on his feet.
“Come with me,” Eric ushered Sookie out of his office.
“Where are we going?” Sookie asked nervously.
“We have a visitor, one that it’s best not see you here,” Eric led Sookie down the hall.
When he opened the door she discovered they were at the top of a long flight of steps. Eric gestured for her to go ahead. Sookie looked up at him with hesitation for a moment before she remembered the promise she had just made to trust him. She walked down the steps, carefully clutching the railing since the space below was lit only by the light coming from behind them. Sookie stopped short when she got to the bottom of the stairs and realized where she was.
“This is where you kept Lafayette and the others,” Sookie’s stomach dropped as she looked around.
There was a wheel fixed to the ceiling with chains hanging from them. Her eyes closed while she tried to replace the images in her mind of the things Lafayette had seen while he was held captive. It was awful, and it made her sick to think that her friend had been down in the basement while she was upstairs being treated for her wounds. The entire experience was actually sort of the perfect example of why Sookie had been so hesitant to trust Eric to begin with. While he was taking care of her, helping her heal he also had a crop of terrified humans in the basement just waiting for more pain and suffering.
“I need you to stay here. Do not come upstairs until either Pam or I come for you. Do you understand?” Eric said tensely.
“Who’s up-” she started, but was thrown off when Eric reached for one of the chains that had a collar around its end and closed it around her neck. “Eric, what are you doing?”
“I need you to trust me. If someone comes down here you must appear to be here against your will, and I need to be sure you won’t try to run. This is for your own safety. Do you understand?” Eric reiterated, and his impatience told her he was running out of time.
“I understand,” Sookie nodded, but was none too happy about having that collar around her neck. It was heavy and already biting into her skin in places.
“Good, then stay put,” Eric said, and then moved up the stairs at vampire speed.
Considering some of the vile, disgusting and violent acts that had taken place in the room Sookie was standing in, the basement was surprisingly clean. Sookie dropped her shields in attempts to listen for whomever it was that might be upstairs, but there were simply too many voices. She tried not to think too much about the shackles on the walls, the lengths of silver or some of the other implements of torture that were laid out for convenience sake.
There wasn’t much else to look at down in that basement. There certainly wasn’t any art on the walls, no magazines to read. Not that there was enough light to read them if there had been. The only source of light came from one of those exit signs off to the left. Sookie looked at it curiously and noted the door was closed. It was probably locked as well. She could only imagine what sort of alarm might be triggered by anyone foolish enough to try and escape through that door, but she wondered where it led.
There was just enough slack in the chain for her to kneel if she wanted to, but she chose to walk. She could only pace so far before the collar around her neck would start to choke her. Sookie listened for the humans above, but the thoughts mingling in her head were the same as she would expect to find any other night at Fangtasia. It was the brain on the other side of the door that intrigued her. A woman thinking in a foreign language was there, and Sookie suddenly stopped moving.
She tapped into the woman’s mind and saw her sitting in a little shop with all these little trinkets, candles, crystals and books in it. The woman was sitting at a small table with a pretty cloth over it and a crystal ball in the center. Another woman entered the picture and she was older. Her hair was dark, her lips were thin and she was wearing a rather shapeless dress. A fortune teller, Sookie presumed by the deck of cards that were brought out once the crystal ball was moved from the middle of the table.
The cards were laid out one by one in a pattern known only to the reader of the cards. While the older woman analyzed what she was seeing on the cards the mind of the woman Sookie was reading was thinking the same question over and over: does he love me?
Those were the only thoughts the woman was thinking in English, and her accent was thick. Just then the door opened in the basement, and Sookie startled to see the woman she had seen the night before when she had first arrived at Fangtasia. She was dressed, although not wearing very much. Her name was Yvetta, if Sookie remembered correctly, and she was dressed in a leather corset, fishnet stockings attached to a garter belt and knee high leather boots with five inch spike heels on them. Her hair was styled perfectly to give it that wild, tousled look, and her makeup was flawless.
“You are the Master’s friend,” Yvetta purred in her thick accent.
Since she was still in Yvetta’s mind she saw a very clear image of the woman completely naked and chained to the wheel with her legs wrapped around Eric while he… she slammed her shields up, not wanting to see anymore.
“My name is Sookie,” she said in as friendly a fashion as she could, but it was obvious something had changed in Yvetta’s demeanor.
“He likes the sex,” she said with a hint of bitterness. “He brought me here for the night once,” her tone changed again like she was recalling a romantic memory. “He’s good lover.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Sookie said, and let herself back into Yvetta’s mind.
“He likes chains, but this,” she stepped closer to Sookie to touch the collar around her neck, “Is too much for me.”
“I’m not here for that,” Sookie said through a clenched jaw.
“Good,” Yvetta wrapped her fingers around the collar and jerked it closer to her, bringing Sookie along for the ride. “He doesn’t know yet, but he loves me. If you’re smart, you stay away when he finishes with you.”
Sookie stared into Yvetta’s wild, heavily made-up eyes. There was definitely something threatening and scary there. Sookie looked into Yvetta’s mind one more time just out of curiosity…
The spell Marnie give me will work. I will drink the tonic, he will bite me and we will fall in love. This American whore means nothing to him. Look how pathetic she is…
Sookie had heard enough. She kept her eyes on Yvetta’s, but said nothing. Just hearing the name Marnie let her know some serious shit was about to go down. She could only hope that Eric wouldn’t feed on Yvetta again before she got the chance to tell him something was wrong. Much to Sookie’s surprise, Yvetta leaned in and kissed her cheek before letting loose a maniacal cackle, and making her way to the stairs without saying another word.