Fangtasia was busy as always when Eric and Sookie arrived with the amended contract that needed to be faxed back to Mr. Cataliades for the queen’s review. Pam was at the door, as per usual, and had one of those smug, knowing smiles on her face that never ceased to make Sookie both nervous and defensive.
“Well hello again, Sleeping Beauty,” Pam jabbed.
“Catwoman,” Sookie greeted, taking in the leather catsuit Pam had on.
“I guess that makes you Batman,” Pam looked at Eric. “The vigilante crime fighter with ambiguous sexuality.”
“Pam, are you a comic book nerd?” Sookie asked, which got a smirk out of Eric.
“Pop culture is something we must keep up with in order to blend in,” Pam said in attempts to save face, but it didn’t go unnoticed that she didn’t deny Sookie’s accusation.
“Uh huh,” Sookie smiled and walked into the bar.
Not only was she smiling on account of the possibility that Pam was a secret comic book nerd, but also because she had followed Claudine’s advice before pulling into the parking lot. She had closed the door in her mind and as a result the only voice she was hearing in her mind was her own. Eric led her back to his office, the crowd in the bar parting quickly to make room for him. Even without reading their thoughts Sookie knew what the patrons of the bar were thinking; it was written all over their faces.
She didn’t have time to worry about their opinions, however. There were too many other important things going on to be worried about what the fangbangers thought of her. Sookie completely ignored them and walked past Eric when he politely held the door for her. When they got to his office he went straight to the fax machine.
“Is there anything else you wish to add to this before I send this off to Mr. Cataliades?” Eric asked.
“Do you think anything is missing?” Sookie asked him. “There’s a lot about your world I don’t know and wouldn’t even think to ask. What about travel expenses?”
“That’s covered in the clause about your compensation. The queen will be required to pay all costs incurred with any travel you might have to do,” he said.
“How about adding something that reserves my right to renegotiate the contract after six months, like a probationary period?” Sookie suggested.
Eric nodded and said, “That’s not a bad idea. I’ll add it and see what we get back.”
He made a few notes on the contract and then dialed the fax number. While the fax went through Sookie looked at some of the merchandise that was sitting on the shelves in Eric’s office. There were cups, t-shirts, keychains, shot glasses, even sunglasses.
“Fangtasia sunglasses?” Sookie held up a pair.
“Pam’s idea,” Eric said with a straight face. “She found humor in it.”
Sookie snorted and said, “It is actually kind of funny. Sunscreen would be even funnier.”
Eric smiled and said, “I’ll be sure to run that by her. I tend to leave the promotional stuff to her.”
“So, is there any news on the werewolf that was sent to attack me?” Sookie asked.
“Not yet,” Eric said. “But I’ve got the appropriate people looking into it.”
“We could ask Alcide,” Sookie suggested. “I got the information from Russell out of his head, and since he’s a werewolf maybe he knows people who are involved. I got the impression his ex-girlfriend is a part of that group.”
“Looks like the Were might not be completely useless after all,” Eric smirked again and pulled his cell phone from his pocket to dial Alcide’s number.
“Be nice,” Sookie ordered, and got an arched eyebrow for it. “Please,” she added.
It wasn’t everyday a human barked an order at him, but Eric found he rather enjoyed it when Sookie did. Alcide answered on the third ring and with irritation in his voice.
“Herveaux,” he said gruffly.
“A Were from Jackson was sent to abduct Sookie a few nights ago,” Eric revealed bluntly. “I have it under authority that you might know Weres in Jackson that might be responsible for this.”
It was as close to polite as Eric was going to get considering Alcide’s previous failures.
“I know some people,” Alcide said just as curtly. “But I don’t know anyone that would want to take Sookie unless it’s any enemy of yours. In which case I’m sure the list is long.”
Eric growled and let Sookie take the phone from him.
“Alcide, it’s Sookie,” she said.
“Sookie,” Alcide sounded a bit surprised. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Listen, I know things didn’t go so well the last time we saw each other, but it seems I’ve got more trouble than I thought. I knew about that ex-girlfriend of yours because I’m a telepath and I saw what happened to her in your head.”
Eric’s brows furrowed when she revealed her telepathy, but there wasn’t much of a way around it as far as Sookie could tell. She’d also spent enough time with Alcide to know that he was the loyal kind, and he had thought enough of her to be concerned for her safety just because she was hooked up with a vampire.
“I knew there was something you weren’t telling me,” Alcide said bitterly.
“The fewer people in the supe world who know, the better,” she explained. “I didn’t tell you because I wasn’t sure I could trust you.”
“But you do now?” he asked suspiciously.
“I need your help, Alcide, so I’m going to have to trust you, aren’t I?”
There was a moment of quiet before Alcide asked, “Can you tell me anything about the Were that attacked you other than he was from Jackson? There are a lot of Weres in that area.”
“Talk to Eric,” Sookie said, and handed the phone back. She didn’t bother relaying what Alcide had said since she knew he’d heard everything.
“The Were that came to attack her had dirty blonde hair, muddy brown eyes, about six-two and a brand on his shoulder near his neck,” Eric told Alcide. “He wanted my blood.”
“Nazi werewolf,” Alcide muttered.
Eric put the call on speakerphone so Sookie could hear everything and maybe fill in some blanks if there was something she heard from the Were that she hadn’t already mentioned.
“I’m guessing this Were is dead,” Alcide said.
“Dead and buried,” Eric said.
“If he had a brand on his neck then he’s one of Russell’s lapdogs,” Alcide spat. “That means there are more, and they will come looking for their brother.”
Sookie sighed heavily and let Eric pull her onto his lap when he sat down behind his desk. “You know for absolutely certain that Russell Edgington is the one running the Weres in Jackson? I thought your kind runs in packs.”
“We do,” Alcide nearly barked. “These Weres are different. Russell pulls all of their strings. They do what he says, when he says and they don’t question his orders. His word is law, as far as they’re concerned and there is no overthrowing him. So if he gave the order for Sookie’s abduction they won’t stop until they have her.”
“So the only way to make them stop is if I give myself up,” Sookie suggested, and Eric growled right along with Alcide at that notion. “Or if Russell is killed, is that right?”
“That pretty much sums it up,” Alcide said. “But Sookie, you would be crazy to give yourself over to Russell Edgington. I don’t know what he wants with you, but he’s not the kind of vamp you want to be involved with. Not that a girl like you should be involved with vampires anyway.”
“Were, your commentary is—”
“Stop it!” Sookie said, hoping to nip that whole thing in the bud before it even got started. “Alcide, I appreciate your concern for my well-being, but I’m perfectly safe with Eric.”
“For now,” Alcide said.
“Say Alcide, where is that werebitch of yours right about now?” Eric asked, rubbing salt in a very open wound.
Sookie’s head whipped around and she stared daggers at him as she said, “I told you to be nice.”
It was on the tip of Eric’s tongue to say, “He started it,” but he kept it to himself.
“If there’s nothing else, I have other things to do,” Alcide said.
“Flea bath?” Pam asked, appearing in the doorway.
“Fuck off, Elvira!” Alcide retorted.
Sookie rolled her eyes and said, “Thank you for all of your help, Alcide. I appreciate it.”
After she hung up the phone Sookie looked back and forth between Eric and Pam and said, “You two are incorrigible.”
“Like father like daughter,” Pam shrugged, and parked herself in the chair across from Eric’s desk. “Am I going to need to stock up on pooper scoopers and flea collars?”
“No, but you might get to play dog catcher,” Eric smirked, and got a slap on the shoulder from Sookie for it.
“He didn’t have to help us, you know? You could try being a little bit nicer to people. Your results might be better if you were,” she advised.
“That’s all well and good for humans,” Pam said. “But Emily Post’s rules on etiquette don’t apply in our world.”
“Pam, enough,” Eric stared at her. “I think it’s time we put Compton to work for us and see what he knows.”
“You want to call Bill about this?” Sookie’s eyes widened in surprise.
“There are dangerous Weres sniffing around near his property,” Eric said with faux concern. “It is my duty as sheriff in this area to ensure that my constituents are properly notified and able to adequately defend themselves against all threats so no one can say I feed them to the wolves.”
“No pun intended,” Sookie rolled her eyes.
“No, it was absolutely intended,” Eric said with mirth.
“Does he do a standup routine I’m not aware of?” Sookie asked Pam, jerking her thumb toward Eric.
“Not since the seventies,” Pam sighed, and Sookie got the feeling that for once, Pam wasn’t kidding.