The second stop Eric had decided they would make was one he was sure Sookie wouldn’t be anticipating. It was a split second decision, but one that was inspired by the things she had said about the cat that had been killed. Vampires weren’t really known for keeping pets, but as a human Eric had had several of them. Well, technically he supposed they weren’t really pets since they were used to assist in hunting and guarding. Dogs could be companions but they had jobs; they weren’t just to keep a person from being lonely.
Dogs were loyal, faithful creatures that would defend their master to the death if properly cared for and trained. It was, in that spirit that Eric decided Sookie needed a companion that would not only keep her entertained, but make her feel safe as well. When she realized they were stopping at a pet store, her surprise was written all over her face.
“What are we doin’ here?” Sookie asked almost cautiously.
“You miss your cat, yes?” Eric asked, and Sookie nodded excitedly. “Do you have the same affection for puppies that you do kittens?”
“I’ve never had a dog before,” Sookie admitted, but she was smiling. “I’ve always wanted one though.”
“Good. Come with me,” Eric said, and got out of the car.
Sookie followed him into the shop, and the man behind the counter smiled when they walked in. He was a vampire, and Eric assumed Sookie figured that out when he heard her gasp behind him.
“Sheriff, what brings you to my establishment this evening?” the vampire asked, nodding with respect.
“Miss Stackhouse requires a guard dog,” Eric said, and Sookie gasped a second time. “I was thinking a German Shepherd would be an excellent choice if you happen to have one.”
The vampire nodded and came around the counter with a smile on his face to introduce himself to Sookie. He was young, relatively speaking, having only been turned in the last century. He was a Louisiana native and had owned the business before he was turned. When it came to dealing with animals, there were few people more learned on the topic than him.
“Miss Stackhouse, my name is Hank; it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said, but didn’t extend his hand.
“Likewise and please call me Sookie,” she said politely. “You have a nice shop here.”
“Thank you, Sookie,” he said with a bright smile. “Have you ever owned a Shepherd before?”
“No, I haven’t. I admit that I’ve only had a cat in my lifetime. I don’t really know much about trainin’ a dog,” Sookie said somewhat nervously.
“Don’t worry; German Shepherds are highly intelligent canines. They are very good at learning commands, and are fairly easy to train. The Sheriff has made a good choice in guards for you,” Hank said, and then led them toward the back of the store where the kennels were.
Sookie stopped short at the sight of all the dogs and puppies in the various cages. All of the animals started barking at once, more than likely excited about having a potential new owner. Eric had a great respect for dogs, even if he didn’t own one himself. Hank led them to a spot at the back; there was a small pen with five small puppies toddling around and play fighting with one another.
“These pups are eight weeks old and ready to be sent to good homes. There are three males and two females, all of them pure bred,” Hank said.
“They’re so cute!” Sookie gushed, and looked like she wanted to pet them but was afraid to.
“Go ahead, Miss Stackhouse, they’re very affectionate animals. You’ll know you’ve found the right one when it heels to your call,” Hank advised her.
Eric stood back to watch while Sookie reached into the pen to let the animals sniff her out. The ones that weren’t so interested went back to their play. When she spoke, there was one in particular that jumped up quickly and scrambled to get her attention. Eric smiled, in spite of himself, at how Sookie’s movements seemed to mimic those of the puppy.
“He’s so cute!” Sookie scratched the dog’s head and it licked feverishly at her hand and wrist.
“This one is a female,” Hank told her, and lifted the pup from the pen so Sookie could hold her.
Their new love affair continued while the puppy tried to lick Sookie’s face, and it was obvious that Sookie had found her match.
“She’s so little!” Sookie said, and then looked at the puppy. “You’re an itty bitty thing, aren’t you? Yes you are,” she baby talked the dog.
Eric stood back, watching Sookie with amusement while she continued to carry on a one-sided conversation with the puppy. When it became obvious that Sookie was head over heels in love with the dog there was no way they would be leaving without it. Eric was actually thankful for that since it meant not having to fight with her. Or so he thought…
“So how much is this itty bitty ball of adorable?” Sookie asked with the dog curled in her arms. They looked like they belonged together.
Hank looked to Eric, which Sookie caught immediately and her smile faded.
“Eric, I can’t let you pay for this dog if that’s what you’re thinkin’,” Sookie said immediately. “I appreciate you bringin’ me here, but-”
“You wouldn’t be getting this particular breed of dog on your own would you?” Eric cut her off.
“No,” Sookie admitted and continued, “I would probably get a cat.”
“Consider this to be part of the security measures we discussed before,” Eric said, but offered nothing else.
“I’m paying you back,” Sookie said a minute later.
Eric smirked but looked at Hank and said, “We’ll take her, and everything else she’s going to need.”
“Excellent choice, Sheriff,” Hank said, and then proceeded to show Sookie around the store so she could pick and choose the accessories that the dog would need.
Eric, meanwhile, hung back and called Pam to check in.
“Sookie has ended things with Bill,” Eric said in Swedish.
“About time. Have you fucked her yet? I’m assuming not since I didn’t feel that little tingle I always get when you come,” Pam said, sounding almost disappointed in her Maker.
“No worries, Pamela, I have a plan,” Eric smirked again.
“You always do,” she responded with confidence.
“There are circumstances I need to inform you of. For the meantime Sookie will be staying in the penthouse downtown. I need you to contact Herveaux and let him know we’re calling in his debt,” Eric said.
“You’re going to trust Sookie’s safety to a mutt?” Pam countered. “She’ll smell of dog all the time.”
“I suspect she will anyway. We’re currently at Hank’s shop,” Eric informed his child.
“What the fuck are you doing? Has she managed to pussy whip you without actually giving you any?” Pam teased.
“Careful, Pam,” Eric growled, “I would hate for anything tragic to happen to your Louboutin collection.”
Pam hissed in response and asked, “Is there anything else you require of me, or can I get back to teasing the vermin?”
“As a matter of fact, there is one more thing…” Eric said, and then laid out his plan for Pam.
It was amazing how much stuff a small dog needed in order to be fully trained. Taking her somewhere with a yard would be better, but Eric didn’t anticipate keeping Sookie in the penthouse for long. He only wanted Sookie to be away from the house long enough for Pam to be able to do a thorough sweep of the house for any listening or surveillance devices. If any were found it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out who had planted them, although who might be listening could be a bit trickier to ascertain. The list could be quickly narrowed down to a few select sources, though.
Eric pulled up to the apartment building he owned on the north side of the city. It would take him just a few short minutes to fly to the building if need be, and since Sookie would be in the penthouse he could easily land on the roof and let himself in through a secret hatch that he’d had constructed in case he ever needed a quick escape route. The ability to fly wasn’t terribly common among vampires, so if he needed to leave quickly that was his best bet.
He rarely spent the night in the penthouse, but the master bedroom was outfitted for it should the occasion ever arise. There was also a private roof garden where Sookie could take the dog when it needed to relieve itself. In the beginning Hank advised that Sookie take the dog out every couple of hours to get her used to going outside. Shepherds trained easily, so it shouldn’t be too much trouble. Since the dog Sookie had picked seemed especially enthusiastic about its mistress, Eric suspected it would be even easier. Animals were much more compliant when they were well cared for and given the proper amounts of affection.
Generally speaking the building didn’t allow for pets, but Sookie’s dog would be the exception. Eric would send an email to building security informing them that there was a special guest staying in his penthouse until further notice and no one was to be given access to it aside from Bobby, Eric and Sookie’s new bodyguard, Alcide Herveaux, whom she would be meeting the following day. Eric had the building renovated after purchasing it. Everything sparkled and gleamed as if it had just been installed. There was an elevator that led straight to the penthouse, and someone was watching that elevator at all times.
A video monitor at the door required anyone wishing to gain entry to the penthouse to show themselves before access to the elevator could be granted. Eric bypassed that by pressing his thumb to the security pad, and the elevator doors opened for them.
“Eric, this building is beautiful,” Sookie said as they boarded the elevator.
“Thank you,” he said politely.
Sookie was carrying the puppy and Eric had the bag she had packed. The rest of her things would be brought up by one of the building employees and would most likely arrive via freight elevator minutes after they entered the penthouse. There was a second exit into the hallway where the roof access was, and that was also where the freight elevator was located. More often than not that was the elevator Eric used when he hadn’t flown to the building.
The elevator doors opened a few seconds later to reveal a masculine and modern style penthouse that was decorated in neutral tones. The walls were mostly dark brown and there were black and white accents scattered throughout the apartment. There was a lot of glass, and the view was spectacular. Sookie stopped with her jaw hanging open while she took everything in. The apartment was pretty hi-tech with the flat screen TVs that were built into the walls, the shades that were set to open and close on timers and the touch-operated appliances in the kitchen.
“Wow,” Sookie said as she turned slowly to take everything in.
“Come, I’ll give you the tour and then we can get your puppy situated. Have you decided on a name for her?” Eric asked, and reached out to pet the little fluff ball in Sookie’s arms.
“Well, since it was your idea that I get her, I was thinking I’d name her something a little different. Vikings spoke Norse, right?” Sookie asked, and Eric tore his eyes from the undoubtedly adorable puppy.
“Yes,” he said with a faint smile. “I’m impressed, Miss Stackhouse.”
“I read a lot,” she shrugged. “When being around other people is a bit of a curse there isn’t much else to do besides sit at home and watch movies or read books. Besides, I always liked reading. So do you think we could come up with a Norse name for her?”
“I think that could be done,” Eric conceded. “Do you have any ideas?”
“Not really,” Sookie admitted and set the puppy down on her feet. She looked at her surroundings and slowly started to walk around, sniffing her way as she went. “I can’t believe how itty bitty she is. She’ll be all grown up before I know it.”
“You know, it might be wise to give her commands in a different language so that it won’t be obvious to others what it is you’re telling her to do,” Eric suggested while they watched the dog move about.
“That’s a good idea,” Sookie grinned, and continued, “I could teach her in Norse if you’re willing to tell me what the commands should be.”
“I can do that,” Eric agreed.
“So why am I staying here, Eric?” Sookie asked as they started to walk around the penthouse.
“As we speak, Pam is at your house. I sent her there to do a sweep to ensure that the house isn’t bugged. She will report back anything that is found, and the devices will be destroyed tomorrow night after we stop by your brother’s house. Until I’m certain your house is a secure place for you to be, I would prefer you not be there,” Eric told her.
“Well as far as alternatives go, this is a pretty neat place,” Sookie said.
“Unfortunately I can’t tell you how the appliances in here function,” Eric said when they entered the kitchen. “I’m only familiar with the refrigerator and the microwave, both of which are some of the best inventions from the last century.”
“Better than TruBlood?” Sookie teased while she peeked inside the oven to see how much space was in it; it was enormous. It was no surprise to her to see a Viking stove with six burners in the kitchen. “Did you pick this on purpose?” Sookie pointed to the stove.
“Pam,” Eric said with a straight face, and Sookie laughed.
“She certainly has her own brand of humor,” Sookie shook her head.
“That’s putting it nicely,” Eric said just as the doorbell rang, alerting them to the arrival of Sookie’s groceries and the puppy supplies. “I’ll get that; you keep looking around.”
“Okay,” Sookie said, and bent down to pet her dog while Eric departed for the hidden door.