“What is Eric doing here?” Bill asked a second time when he didn’t get a quick enough answer.
“I came to bring Sookie the money I owed her for her services in Dallas,” Eric said smoothly.
“This was something you thought best done at three in the morning?” Bill asked as he stepped closer to the house.
“Pam came earlier, but Sookie was unavailable. I thought I would try myself before going to ground for the day,” Eric stood firmly on the porch.
It was obvious from the way the two vampires were staring each other down that there was mistrust between them. Sookie wanted to step outside, but thought it best to stay right where she was. She had whispered a revocation of Bill’s invitation into her home, and judging by the way he was approaching the steps it was obvious he hadn’t heard it. To keep him from figuring it out Sookie stepped out onto the porch so he wouldn’t try to come in after her in the name of marking his territory.
“Bill, Eric was just about to take off. I’m really tired. Can we just talk tomorrow?” Sookie asked.
Bill looked into her eyes, and judging by the look he was giving her she had no doubt that he would be glamouring her right then if he could. Instead he made a big show of leaning down to kiss her. Sookie pushed him back, feeling her skin crawl a little. The kiss wasn’t about affection, but marking her as his.
“Where’s your car?” Bill asked, noting that it wasn’t in its usual parking space around the side of the house.
Shit. Sookie contemplated lying since it would serve Bill right. How many times had he looked her right in the face and lied to her since they met? Sinking to Bill’s level and lying to save herself the trouble was the easy way out. At the moment, however, it didn’t seem like there was any other choice.
“Still at the bar,” Sookie said, which was the truth as far as she knew.
“How did you get home?” Bill questioned.
“Me,” Eric said with a smirk. “Her car wouldn’t start so I flew her back.”
Sookie opened her mouth to argue with Eric, but then shut it when he continued to talk.
“I think it was something to do with the ignition. I took a look under the hood for her, but I don’t know much about car maintenance,” Eric said casually. “I’ve already put a call in to Tray Dawson. He’ll be around in the morning with a tow truck to bring it into his shop.”
Sookie stood there silently, trying to remain calm so that Bill wouldn’t notice anything off in her blood. Eric didn’t look like anything was bothering him at all, and Sookie supposed it was because he felt confident in taking Bill on if it came to that. However, seeing as how Bill sill had an arm around her it wasn’t as though she could go anywhere. For the time being, she was going to have to just pretend like everything was normal and hope that her blood didn’t give her away.
“How thoughtful of you,” Bill said with a sneer.
“Don’t be rude, Bill,” Sookie admonished him. Before anyone could say anything else Sookie said, “I really am tired, so if y’all could be on your way, I would greatly appreciate it.”
Bill looked to Eric, expecting him to go first so as to have a moment alone with Sookie before she turned in for the evening. “Goodnight, Eric,” Bill said pointedly.
Eric looked at Sookie and said, “Sleep well, Miss Stackhouse.”
“Goodnight, Eric. Thank you for your help tonight,” she said sincerely.
He nodded, stepped off the porch and then shot into the sky, leaving Sookie and Bill alone in front of the house. Sookie stepped out from under Bill’s arm but didn’t go back into the house.
“Where’s your ring?” Bill asked as soon as he was satisfied they were alone.
“In my purse. I took it off when I as cleaning at the bar so it wouldn’t get lost or damaged,” Sookie explained. She had a lot of things to say but wasn’t sure how to bring it all up. “Hey Bill, can I ask you something?”
“Anything, sweetheart,” he gave her one of those charming smiles she had always found so reassuring in the past.
It dawned on Sookie that the particular smile she was seeing was one Bill almost always flashed right before he lied to her. She braced herself for whatever he might say, but figured she would give him the chance to tell her a small truth.
“Is Eric your boss?” Sookie asked him, clearly catching Bill off guard.
“He’s my senior, but I wouldn’t call him my boss,” Bill told her.
“So then who is your boss. You told me that vampires have sheriffs and kings or queens in their state. If Eric isn’t your boss, even though he’s your sheriff, then who do you report to?” Sookie asked him, paying close attention to his face as he processed her question.
Bill flashed another one of those charming smiles and countered her question with a question of his own. “Sookie, where is this coming from all of a sudden?”
“I’m curious, is all. We seem to keep getting sucked back into vampire business and I’d just like to know who I should be keeping my eye on.”
“Let me worry about that, sweetheart,” Bill reached out and put his hands on her shoulders. “Trust me, Sookie. You know I want nothing but the best for you. I will stop at nothing to keep you safe from vampires like Eric who want nothing but to drink your blood and use you for your gift.”
Stop before I throw up all over your freshly pressed Dockers, Sookie thought to herself, and slapped on one of her Crazy Sookie smiles to cover up her distress.
“Now how about I come inside, tuck you in and tomorrow we’ll see if we can’t start making wedding plans,” Bill suggested, but Sookie removed his hands from her body.
“I meant what I said about bein’ tired, Bill. And I still don’t know if I’m ready to get married just yet. I need more time to think things over. Please respect that,” Sookie looked him in his eyes.
He nodded, but then leaned forward to kiss her goodnight. Sookie forced her lips to move against his, but hearing him say that he loved her made her stomach flip-flop. Maybe it was true and maybe it wasn’t. At the moment she didn’t know what to believe. All she wanted was to get herself locked in the house where she was safe, take a shower and go to bed.
“Goodnight, Sookie,” Bill said softly and then disappeared into the night.
Sookie went inside, made sure all of the doors were locked and then jogged upstairs to her bedroom. She peeled off her clothes, took her hair out of its ponytail and then went to the bathroom to start the water in her old fashioned tub. While she was waiting for the water to warm she brushed her teeth and washed her face. When the water was warm enough she pulled the pin on the faucet that would start the shower, and stepped into the tub.
The water felt nice as it rained down on her. She washed quickly instead of luxuriating the way she normally would have. All she wanted was to get clean so she could relax and go to sleep. The sun would be up before too long.
Sookie showered in record time and then turned the water off. She stepped out of the tub, wrapped a towel around herself and grabbed another to dry her hair a little. After combing her hair out Sookie went to her bedroom and headed straight for the dresser to grab a nightgown. She was in the midst of drying herself off when there was a low growling sound behind her.
She whipped around to see Eric lying on her bed with his arms behind his head and his long legs crossed at his ankles. His eyes sparkled with mischief and lust while Sookie scrambled to get herself covered appropriately with her towel.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Sookie demanded angrily.
Just when she thought she could trust him…
“Just in case Bill went to investigate I took the liberties of actually disabling your vehicle,” Eric told her, and Sookie’s jaw dropped while her temper spiked.
“You did what?” she was tempted to throw her hairbrush at him since it was the nearest thing to her.
“I’ll pay for the repairs. I have actually spoken with Dawson now. He’s got quite a reputation in my world,” Eric smirked, still staring at Sookie in an admiring way.
“Could you please get off my bed?” Sookie asked through a clenched jaw.
“Only because you said please,” he said, and then before she could blink he was towering over her, breathing her in.
“You came to tell me what you needed to tell me; although why you felt you had to wait in my bed-” she glared up at him, her eyes fixed right on his.
“It seemed the most logical place to wait since you’d made a point of telling us both how tired you are,” Eric reasoned.
“Lucky for you Bill went home,” Sookie kept her eyes on Eric’s.
He grinned, lifted a hand and lightly ran his finger down the side of her neck, past her collarbone to her sternum while he asked, “Is that an invitation?”
Sookie gasped and stepped back as she realized what she’d said. “Fuck no!”
“I do so enjoy when you talk dirty to me,” he taunted while her indignation continued to grow.
“You are so… I can’t even… I want you to leave now,” Sookie sputtered.
“Are you sure you don’t need any further assistance,” Eric tilted his head and looked down the length of her body. “I usually prefer to undress my women, but…”
“Out! Now!” Sookie pointed to the door.
“I’ll go this way,” Eric pointed to the open window he had used to enter the house in the first place.
“Why do you do this?” Sookie groaned in frustration. “You do things to demonstrate that I can trust you, but then you do something sneaky like this that makes me think I’ve misjudged you. Why, Eric?”
“Because I enjoy frustrating you,” he said simply, and it was then that Sookie realized he really did think of all this bantering back and forth as a game.
“You want to play?” she lifted an eyebrow.
“With you I would like a great many things. If play is all you’re offering, I’ll take it,” he swaggered toward the open window.
Sookie was at a loss for words. They shared one last parting look that said more than their words could anyway, and then Eric was gone.