I was still a little dazed, staring at Eric and not quite seeing anything else. I felt the wind pick up my hair and watched as Eric’s hair was ruffled as well. I was mesmerized by the wind playing with Eric’s hair. He was there. He was safe. I had done it. Jesus Christ Shepherd of Judea! What had I done? ! I’d turned back time! Cher’s song popped into my brain, the lyrics curiously appropriate.
Bill’s voice brought me back to my new here and now. It was like nails scratching a chalkboard. My mind landed back inside me, hard.
“There’s going to be a raid,” Bill said.
“How do you know?” Eric asked. He’d been staring right back at me until Bill had spoken, and I hadn’t minded one tiny bit. I’d barely paid attention to the vampire woman next to him, the bouncer. I didn’t even know her name.
Bill got stuck on his answer, and I sort of remembered that it had been me who had told Eric what I was.
“Me,” I answered Eric’s question. He returned his gaze to me. I remembered that look. It was the look that told me I’d have to explain.
“I read a policeman’s mind,” I said, my voice sure. I was not afraid of him, even though his look was thoughtful, and hungry.
“That’s interesting,” he said. “I had a psychic once. It was incredible.”
That’s when I lost it. The sense of déjà vu was so strong that I started laughing. The first time he’d uttered that statement I’d gotten upset. This time I knew that he was making a joke. I was laughing as I said, “Did the psychic think so?” like a well-rehearsed line.
Bill drew in a large gulp of breath, which made me laugh all that much harder.
Eric chuckled. “For a while,” he said, his eyes never leaving me. I turned to Bill, who had snuck his arm around my waist, and slapped his chest lightly, trying to contain my laughter.
The distant sound of sirens sobered me up some, as Eric shook his head and turned to get inside his car. Bill walked me swiftly to his black Cadillac, and sort of shoved me into the passenger seat. I chuckled a little. This car was so BILL. I buckled up before reaching inside my purse for a tissue to wipe my eyes. “He had a psychic… It was funny,” I muttered to myself, still giggling. Bill got us out of Fangtasia’s parking lot at almost the same time the cops were arriving with their vampire transport vehicle.
We had driven a few blocks when suddenly Bill pulled into the parking lot of yet another darkened strip mall. I groaned, remembering the steamy kiss that awaited me. Like a movie I’d seen over and over, Bill moved over me, unclipping my seat belt, moving my seat back, and grabbing me. He started kissing me with what I had once thought were expert moves. After kissing Eric, though, Bill’s expert moves paled in comparison. Besides, it felt like I was cheating on Eric.
I knew Eric wasn’t mine… yet. I knew I wasn’t his… yet. Not on that night, and not for a long time yet. But in my mind I’d made love to Eric not two hours before. I’d just moved in with him that very same day! He was my husband! I was his wife!
My mouth didn’t respond to Bill’s kisses, so he stopped kissing me. I moved away from him as much as I could. Instead of passion in his eyes, I saw confusion.
“Sookie?” His voice was ragged, the way it got while we were in the middle of having sex. That thought sent a chill down my spine. I would not, could not, allow Bill to be my first lover, or my lover at all.
“Take me home, Bill,” I said, keeping my voice even. I could feel some of what I’d felt for him still. It’s hard not to feel love for the first love of your life. But Bill had hurt me beyond what I’d be able to endure ever again.
Bill moved to his side of the car and we both buckled up again, missing the cop that had found us that night by leaving very soon after stopping. All the way home he kept that same sullen silence that had bothered me so much. Now it was just a welcome respite from having to make conversation while my mind was full of other, way more important… stuff.
I looked down at my legs. My short skirt was sitting high on my thighs, high enough that I could see how the skin was back to the way it had been before… before… even thinking about it was tough. I closed my eyes and swallowed, and when I opened them I looked at my thighs again, running a hand over the smooth skin. There would be no other sign of the fairies’ abuse on my body, I knew that much. The memories were still there, though. I looked back up and noticed we were getting close to the exit for Bon Temps.
Instead of hoping Bill would want to kiss me again that night, I began thinking about Gran, and the fact that I had so many questions to ask her. Would the cluviel dor still be inside that desk? Would I be able to bring up Gran’s relationship with Fintan? What would be the point, anyhow? She had obviously been embarrassed, and I didn’t want to upset her. Maybe I would breach the subject slowly.
What about Rene killing my Gran? Would it happen? Could I stop it? My head began swimming with dread, trying to make a plan to stop Rene or catch him doing something wrong so that he would be taken into custody right away and not have a chance to harm anybody else. He’d already killed Dawn and Maudette, I remembered that much. Gran was next. No! Wait! I was next! He’d wanted to kill me and had found Gran in the house instead.
“Oh, Lord Jesus!” I muttered out loud, earning me a surprised look from Bill. We were about to turn into Hummingbird Road.
“What’s wrong, Sookie?” he asked. His voice sounded truly concerned. I was wondering if I should trust him. I knew he would keep me safe if I asked him. How to phrase my concern, though? I took a deep breath. After all, I’d gone to Fangtasia with Bill to clear Bill’s name as well as my brother’s.
“I know that neither you nor Jason killed Maudette and Dawn,” I started. Bill nodded slowly so I continued. “But I think that the same person killed both women. I also don’t think that the person was a vampire.”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m saying there’s a serial killer on the loose. I’m saying there’s someone who hates women, in particular women who date vampires. That person killed both Maudette and Dawn and might just kill me for dating you.”
Bill parked the car in front of my house and turned to me. He eyed me seriously for a moment. He was listening. I was glad, because I was scared. “I won’t let anybody harm you,” he said in a grave voice.
Now I was at a quandary (Word of the Day): should I continue dating Bill for a little bit in exchange for his protection? I simply couldn’t see myself doing that. Nevertheless, Bill had been sent by Queen Sophie-Anne, and would simply HAVE to keep me safe or face the wrath of the queen. I decided to leave it vague for now, neither pushing Bill away nor pulling him to me (figuratively speaking, of course).
“Thank you,” I said then decided to add something else. “I think I know who it might have been…” I trailed off.
Bill frowned. His face was not worried anymore. He was mad. “Who, Sookie? Who wants to harm you?”
I gulped. I remembered what he did to Uncle Bartlett. Oh, hell! “Rene Lenier,” I blurted out.
“What makes you think so?”
I answered quickly. “His thoughts are weird when I’m around,” I lied a tiny bit. “And he was in front of Dawn’s house when he had no reason to be,” I lied a tiny bit again. “Don’t they say the perpetrators go back to the scene of the crime?” I asked.
“I’ll look into it, Sookie. I can see how this worries you,” he said and nodded in his usual way.
“Thank you, again,” I said. There! I’d done it. I’d changed the future. I hadn’t pushed Bill away. I knew I needed his help, and I knew he was the only one who could help me. I didn’t like myself very much for using him, but it just went to show that my self-preservation was alive and well.
Bill got my door and helped me out of the car. He was being a gentleman, and I had not understood that the first time he’d done it.
The night was cool and breezy. The wind picked up my hair and made me shiver. I hunched my shoulders and wrapped my arms across my chest. Bill draped his jacket and then his arm around my shoulders, and walked me to my door. I turned to him, a little bit surprised. He wasn’t the cold vampire that had delivered me to my door the first time I’d gone to Fangtasia. He looked different, somehow. He looked more like the way I’d known him lately. His eyes were warm and full of worry for me. I felt a pang of guilt, remembering how sick he had been during the time he was recovering from his silver poisoning.
I put my hand on his face and he put his hand over mine, holding it there. I stroked his sideburn with my fingertips and gave him a rueful smile. He obviously didn’t know why I was feeling sorry, but returned my smile anyway.
This time I did return the kiss, for old times’ sake.