Earlier that day…
“Will you be here when I wake up?” Sookie asked sleepily, and snuggled against Eric a bit.
“I thought you wanted time,” Eric said, grazing his fingertips over her bare shoulder in a soothing manner.
“I do, but… I like having you here when I wake up,” Sookie confessed in a whisper.
Eric smiled at that but made her no promises. He would try to get back to her, but there were no guarantees with what he had planned for the rest of the night. Her breathing got deeper and her heartbeat slowed, letting Eric know she was asleep. He remained there beside her for a bit before carefully shifting her to rest on his pillow before getting off the bed. He crept from the room, but Moli stayed behind with her mistress. He closed the bedroom door and pulled his cell phone from his pocket. He dialed the number Nora had last called him from and waited for her to pick up.
“Speak,” she said without identifying herself.
“We need to meet. Now,” Eric said in as controlled a tone as he was capable of. “I have a safe house on the corner of Magnolia and Cherry Lane in Red Chute. Be there in fifteen minutes.”
Eric didn’t wait for a response; he simply hung up and then placed a call to Pam to tell her the same. Pam knew where the house was and would find him easily. Nora would see him from the sky since he would be waiting for her in the yard. Eric didn’t waste any time flying the short distance to Red Chute, and dropped down in the backyard of the house located in a relatively new development on the outskirts of the small town.
Pam arrived a short time later on foot, dressed in one of her Fangtasia costumes. She still had blood on her lips from the feeding she was more than likely in the midst of when Eric called her. She didn’t look happy about the interruption either.
“This better be good. I was fangs deep in an AB negative with fantastic tits,” Pam stuck her hip out and propped her hand on it.
“You’re about to meet your Aunt Nora,” Eric smirked, and looked up to see Nora hovering overhead. He gestured for her to land.
“I killed the last aunt I had,” Pam said in a dangerous tone, and Eric remembered the brutality of that killing particularly well because it had forced him to punish Pam for the first time after turning her.
Not that the old woman didn’t have it coming, since she had pushed an orphaned Pam into prostitution, but as an infant vampire, Pam had to learn self-control and the importance of not leaving too much evidence behind when she killed.
“And this is officially bullshit that I can’t fly,” Pam glared at Eric when she spotted Nora floating overhead, as if he had any control over the gift whatsoever.
“You must be Pam,” Nora said when she landed. “Godric told me a lot about you.”
“I’ve never heard of you,” Pam said, clearly bored already with the new vampire.
“So what am I doing here so close to dawn, Eric?” Nora asked.
“We’re here because you tried to go over my head with the human I’m very close to bonding myself to. If you want something from Sookie, you come to me and I will discuss it with her,” he said.
Pam snorted, but Eric ignored it. Reacting to Pam would only guarantee that she would continue on with her theatrics.
“She seems to be of sound mind, Eric. I didn’t see any problem with it. Besides, did you not tell her I am a vampire she can trust?” Nora pointed out.
Pam turned her head toward Eric with a look of surprise on her face. “I thought you said the only vampire a vampire can trust is a vampire he made?”
“As my sister, I wrongfully thought she would be an exception to that rule,” Eric said, staring Nora down.
“What’s the big deal? So she pals around Bill now and again to see what she can pick from his brain. I’m not asking her to fuck—”
Eric grabbed Nora by the throat and slammed her against a tree. Her fangs punched out and for a moment there was a hint of bloodlust in the air. It wouldn’t really be a fair fight since Pam was more than prepared to defend her Maker, and Eric was older than Nora anyway. Still, the threat was there.
“Does she know how we used to entertain ourselves on winter nights in Iceland, Eric? The Viking in you never did die,” Nora managed to smile, even with Eric’s hand tightening around her throat.
Pam hissed on Eric’s behalf. Her feelings where Sookie were concerned were still up in the air, but there was a part of her that knew she was good for him, even if it pained her to admit it. Eric had been more alive recently. When you’re faced with an eternity of darkness and endless time, life can start to feel tedious. If nothing else, Sookie Stackhouse definitely made things interesting again—even if she was trouble.
“I know you have a meeting with your queen tonight,” Nora said, and that got Eric to release her. Nora landed gracefully and continued, “I have spies in the queen’s court. She’s playing it close to the vest, as humans say, but she’s aware that you are currently in possession of what she considers to be her property.”
“She always was quick to lay claim to things that don’t belong to her,” Eric retracted his fangs.
“With what is sure to be the king’s untimely death she has several options at her feet, and all of them seem to conclude with her framing you to meet a similar end to Russell Edgington’s,” Nora said. “I don’t know how she plans to accomplish this, but I’ve heard… ideas.”
“Do they concern Sookie?” Eric asked.
“Some, yes,” Nora nodded. “Your affection for the girl is a weakness, Eric.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Eric said a moment later. “If you think for a second that I have lost the ability to protect what is mine, just try me and find out just how much fight I have in me.”
“Good, because you’re going to need it. Has Sookie reached a decision?” Nora asked.
“You’ll have to ask her that yourself later tonight,” he said. “I planned to bring you along to the meeting I have with the queen later. I thought you might be interested in sitting in on our talk.”
“I would indeed,” Nora agreed, and looked to Pam. “Why aren’t you taking her?”
“Because I need a vampire I know I can trust beyond a shadow of a doubt to guard Sookie while I’m gone. Don’t think I don’t know this meeting could very well be a trap,” Eric said with a hint of offense in his voice. “I thought you would make a nice insurance policy that I get out of there alive.”
Nora smirked and said, “Godric did teach you well. I’ll meet you in New Orleans. What time is the meeting?”
“Midnight,” he answered.
“I’ll meet you there ten minutes before in the Quarter. I haven’t had any good Creole in a long time,” Nora’s eyes danced in the darkness, and then she looked to Pam again. “It was lovely to finally meet you, Pam. I hope to see you again soon.”
Pam rolled her eyes and remained at Eric’s side as Nora took off into the night sky.
Once she was gone from sight Eric turned to Pam and said, “I will be leaving Sookie with a bag for emergencies only before I go tonight. Her location will be kept secret, even from you for your safety as well as hers. You know the procedure should something go wrong. I will leave instruction for Sookie to rendezvous with you at the safe house we have previously selected as the best place to go. If I summon you, that is your signal to run. I will meet up with you there as soon as I am able. Do you understand me?”
“Eric, if the meeting is that dangerous I should go with you,” Pam argued.
“No,” he shook his head. “Nora is a member of the Authority, Pam. It would be suicide for Sophie-Anne to kill a member of the Authority.”
Pam looked and felt momentarily stunned by Eric’s revelation, but then recovered and said, “If I get hungry, am I allowed—”
“Not if you wish to ever feed from another human again,” Eric cut her off, already knowing where she was going.
“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Pam shrugged and arched a brow. “What makes you so sure Sookie will fall in line on this?”
“Because she doesn’t want to die,” Eric said, and then launched himself into the air.
He made a few stops on the way back to the penthouse to get what he needed to put together an emergency bag for Sookie. Long ago he had a contingency plan put into place for her that included phony identification and passports. She would have to travel on commercial airlines in order to get to her destination. Pam could go to ground and travel on foot. Their initial meeting place would be a desolate cabin near Horse Thief Lake in South Dakota.
When he returned to his resting place, Eric filled the bag with the identification, prepaid cell phones, a list of locations that were safe for Sookie to travel to if she had to part company from Pam and information that would allow her to access a bank account that wasn’t traceable to him. It would take her several lifetimes to drain it, so even if she decided to skim money from the account without his permission—which he knew she would never do- he wouldn’t even feel the sting of it.
Time got away from him and before he knew it he could feel the pull of the sun. It was too late to return to Sookie. Instead Eric reached for his phone and made a call to Sam proposing a trade in waitresses to prevent Sookie from losing her job by taking more time off. While he thought she could do better than working for the Shifter, she seemed to enjoy being there, and Eric knew one of the quickest ways to set her temper off was to try and control her life too much. She had offered to bend her life a little to accommodate his wishes, and he could do the same.
“Hello,” the Shifter grumbled.
“This is Eric Northman,” Eric answered. “Sookie is going to be calling you today to tell you she needs time off, and you’re going to give it to her without hassle.”
There was a moment of what would have been silence had it not been for Eric’s vampire hearing that allowed him to hear Sam breathing on the other end of the line.
“What are you doing with her now, Eric?” Sam grumbled.
“This was her decision. She’s in a precarious position at this point in her life—a crossroads, if you will, and you are in a position to either help her make good decisions or force her hand into making bad ones. She needs time away from Bon Temps for her own safety, but her loyalty to you insists that she do the right thing. I’m offering to send one of my waitresses to cover her shifts for the duration of her time away so that her job will be held until she returns,” Eric explained.
He knew by appealing to the Shifter’s affection for Sookie that it would be easier to get what he wanted, and it worked like a charm.
“That’s a deal I can live with,” Sam said, but he didn’t seem happy about it. “Just how much trouble is she in this time?”
“The usual,” Eric said.
“Must be Tuesday,” Sam joked and Eric actually smiled. “Got any idea how long she’ll be gone?”
“No, I’m not sure how long she’ll be away, but you can discuss that with her later when she calls. I’ll have Pam send over one of the servers starting tomorrow, if that’s soon enough?”
“Excellent. Good day, Sam,” Eric said, and hung up the phone.
He wrote up a quick email for Bobby with several tasks in it that included locating the oldest copy of Gone with the Wind he could find, and then set his phone aside to charge. Resisting the pull of the sun, Eric started his computer and surfed the internet for a short time, researching human dating habits and looking for ideas of what a twenty-something-year-old human woman might want to do on a date.
When he was sure he had a good plan put into place, Eric started an email account for Sookie and sent her her first message. With all of that accomplished, he closed the laptop and finally let himself rest for the day.