Chapter 6 – Does He Notice?

Nothing’s Gonna Change My World

I woke up the next morning with a new sense of purpose.  True I was still sad.  True I was still a little out of it.  But I no longer felt alone.  Eric had taken care of that.  He’d taken care of me, like he’d done so many other times.  I wondered if he had a little bit of a hero complex, and then decided that I didn’t care.  His true motives for taking care of me were his personal business.  They had still driven him to do the right thing by me, and I was grateful.

My morning consisted of watching a pair of carpenters – sent by Eric – install a new mantle piece on my fireplace, signing for a brand new cell phone delivered by the FedEx guy – also sent by Eric – and starting the packing up of my grandmother’s bedroom.  I even used my brand new cell phone to call Gran’s estate lawyer and ask him for the name of a good realtor, AND I made an appointment for the realtor to stop by the day after.  I was on a roll.

The cell phone had been a surprise for sure.  I knew better than to be bad-mannered about accepting it, or to insult Eric by telling him I’d pay him back.  Although I really wanted to.  But the note that came with it made me think twice.  On a piece of Fangtasia letterhead he’d written: “I want you to want me.  Call me anytime.  E.”  The first line alluded to one of the songs I’d belted out on the drive home the night before, which meant he was still thinking about it after he left, which meant he was still thinking about me.  I had to admit that I was selfish enough about his affections to find that I liked that he thought about me.

I opened the box, explored its contents, figured out how to use the little silver Nokia, and sent him the first text message: “Thank you so much for this very thoughtful gift.  I promise to call you when I need you.”  I even used proper words, because it was the polite thing to do.

I was feeling pretty good about myself, all things considered, when I arrived for my shift at Merlotte’s.  One look at Sam though, and all my good feelings left me like I’d been punched in the gut.  His face spoke of my slight betrayal, of his disappointment, and of a dashed hope.  He obviously thought that our date would lead to more, and then it didn’t.  Not only did it not lead to anything, I had three men waiting for me at the end of the night.  I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, nor did I want to rummage through his brain to find out.  Obviously this would be a popular topic with Bill and Sam from now on.  I’d chosen somebody else after leading them on.  It made me look bad, but I thought I’d been justified.  Now I wasn’t so sure.

I got a lot of “how are you coping?” “How are you dealing?” “Are you going to sell the house?” “How’s your brother?” and so on and so forth from my customers, most of them I’d known forever.  Although they meant well, the questions were only a reminder, and answering each one in a polite way zapped my energy.  What are you supposed to say?  Nobody wanted to hear the truth.  I’d destroyed my living room, that’s how I was coping.  I hadn’t seen my brother, so I didn’t know how he was.  And it was nobody’s business whether or not I was going to sell the house.

When night fell I was suddenly comforted by a buzz from the phone in my pocket.  Only one person had the number.  I made a bee line for the bathroom and checked my phone.  Eric had sent me a text message responding to my earlier one.  “I hope you need me soon.  Please call me when you get home.”  Darn it all!  He was already keeping tabs on me.  Oh, well… couldn’t be helped.  Now that I was “his” he would be ever vigilant over me.  I sent him a quick message letting him know I’d be home as soon as the new girl took over for me, which would be in another hour or so.  I was hoping she’d be early.  I still had plenty to do at home.

As I washed my hands (even though I hadn’t used the toilet, but it was still best practice), I heard a commotion from the main dining room.  Some woman let out a loud cackle.  Fear hit me like a wrecking ball.  I recognized the laugh, my mind showing me the first time I’d met that particular vampire: Diane.  Malcolm would be with her.  I’d met them at Bill’s house.  They’d come to Merlotte’s and behaved abominably, and had their house burned down soon thereafter by a mob.  I wasn’t sure how they would die this time, since the mob had been instigated by Rene Lenier and he was in jail, but this little display was sure not going to keep them alive.  Moreover, was there another vampire in the bar tonight that would stop them?  Bill had been there the first time.  Was he there now?

I came out of the bathroom slowly, phone still in hand and a message already typed and waiting for me to hit send.  I scanned the dining room quickly and only saw two vampires.  No Bill.  I hit the send button and put the phone away.  As soon as I did that, Diane’s eyes drifted over to me.  Not good.  Not good at all.

“Hello, little waitress.  I see you’re still alive,” Diane said, sauntering over closer to me wearing a lime green bodysuit.  Everyone in Merlotte’s was stunned into silence by that point.  Except… I caught a whiff of the general feeling around in the room.  They weren’t so much stunned as righteously indignant.  Rene had tried to kill me in my own home, and everybody knew it.  Diane’s comment sparked suspicion.  She was right in front of me when she added, “Isn’t that amazing?”

Sam came to my side immediately, and Diane shifted her gaze.  Malcolm approached us, and from the corner of my eye I could see several men getting up from their seats.  A cold chill ran down my spine, and I sincerely hoped none of these people were stupid enough to want to engage a vampire.  Diane and Malcolm didn’t care about making a scene, and would probably not care about exposing Sam.  I felt like I had to do something, but my brain felt sluggish with fear.

“I heard you’d gone to Fangtasia with Bill.  How did you enjoy the walk on the wild side?” Malcolm asked me.  He was raking his eyes over me, missing nothing, and making me feel all kinds of dirty.  Suddenly he peeled his eyes off me to look around.  “Where IS Bill?”

I put on my best lunatic smile, if only to buy some time and hopefully so I didn’t have to answer that stupid question.  “Diane, Malcolm, would either of you care for a True Blood?” I asked, though they didn’t seem like the kind who would drink anything synthetic.

My question achieved two things: it made the vampires refocus on me, and it made Sam way more nervous beside me.  Not exactly the greatest of outcomes, but I wanted their attention away from the rest of the humans.  Diane’s deep brown eyes were full of malice, just like her smile.  “Are you no longer Bill’s?” she asked, about to put a finger on me.

“No, she’s mine.”  The calm deep voice coming from the front of the bar took everyone by surprise, including me.  “Put a finger on my Sookie and you will lose it, Diane.”

I stepped back, no longer feeling the need to stand my ground.  As I did Diane and Malcolm turned around and bowed to their sheriff.  I took Sam’s hand as a precaution, not that it would have been effective in holding him back.  He reclaimed his hand quickly but quietly, which was probably for the best but it still hurt a little.

Eric was the picture of ease, dressed in leather pants and a red long sleeve shirt, paying no mind to the hot September night.  His hair was pulled back, which made the angular plains of his face look that much fiercer.  His look was incongruent with the way he carried himself.  He was leaning against the front door with the bored look everyone has while waiting in line at the post office.  His eyes gave him away, though.  They were sharp and trained on Diane and Malcolm.  One false move and he would take them out swiftly.

“Hello, Sam.  How are you tonight?  We’ll be out of your hair in no time,” Eric said with a beatific smile, becoming a diplomat at the drop of a hat.  “Come on Diane, Malcolm,” he said, holding his arm out and summoning them with two fingers, like a father whose kids needed to be corralled and removed from a situation.

Diane and Malcolm had no choice but to obey the sheriff.  The alternative would have been painful, and I’m sure they knew it.  They moved slowly but surely out of Merlotte’s followed by Eric.  The moment they were outside somebody said, “Man!  They’re nothing like Vampire Bill,” and that was everyone’s cue to laugh nervously and try to resume their activities.  I started to move to my tables when Sam stopped me by grabbing my upper arm.  He moved us swiftly to his office.

“What was that?” he asked, pointing in the general direction of the front of the bar.

“What do you mean?” I asked.  I wasn’t sure if he meant Diane and Malcolm or if he meant Eric’s assertion that I was his.  Or both.

“Who were those two?” he specified.

“I met them once at Bill’s, and he defended me.  He’d said I was his…”

“That’s very serious,” Sam interrupted, “for a vampire to say you’re his it means…”

“I know what it means!” I said quickly.  It also came out louder than I’d intended.

“So you were Bill’s and now you’re Eric’s,” he said, and it was meant as a question, but it sure as heck didn’t sound like one.  Sam’s face was getting red, ruddy with undisguised anger.  I also noticed he was eyeing my neck.

“Stop it!” I said, feeling like my own temper was about to run away from me.  I took a deep breath and reined it back in, adjusting my volume to something more civil.  “Are you asking as a friend or as my boss?  Do you want me to answer this as a friend or as your employee?”

Sam cooled his jets immediately.  We were in his office inside his bar.  No matter his answer to my question, we were in a position of employer and employee therefore he had to watch it.  He was smart enough for that.  I knew I was being unfair, but it was the only way I knew to make him back off.

“It’s none of my business,” he said and put his hands up in surrender.

“I’m going back to work,” I said, and started to walk past him.

“Don’t bother.  Susie is here.  She’ll take over now,” he said, still bitter.

Without a word I went to the desk drawer where we kept our purses, retrieved mine, and walked out to the employee parking lot.  Eric was leaning against my car, hands in his pockets, staring at the ground.  My aggravation with Sam became all but forgotten the moment I looked at him.

I couldn’t help the smile that blossomed on my lips as I walked faster.  Eric looked up, blinked once and smiled too.  I felt shy suddenly, and my smile faltered.  Could he read me?  Did he know how much he meant to me?  It was probably too soon to show him, but God!  All I wanted was to drag him into the knot of pines bordering Merlotte’s and jump his bones.  As it was, he moved towards me and closed the gap between us, scooping me up so that I could wrap myself around him.  His lips found mine immediately after, hungry for the contact.

He pulled away quickly and searched my face.  “How are you tonight?” he asked, his fangs lengthening, his eyes scanning until they reached my neck.  He was truly hungry.

“I’m good now,” I said, making sure he knew it was because of him and trying to catch my breath at the same time.  “Eric… Oh!”  I was about to suggest he take me home so I could feed him, but his lips at my neck drowned out my words.  I managed to ask him while he kissed and nibbled at my neck, and he nodded and grunted.

“This car is small,” he said when he finally got himself inside the passenger seat.  I giggled when his leather pants squeaked as he tried to get comfortable.

“Are you working the floor tonight?” I asked driving as fast as I was comfortable with.

“Yes,” he answered, one of his hands landing on my knee then starting its way up north.  I stopped it with one of mine firmly around his.  He turned it up, our fingers twining, and he continued to caress my bare thigh with the back of his hand.

“I’m sorry I had to call you about Diane and Malcolm,” I said, turning into my long driveway.

“How do you know them?”

I hesitated at his question, but knew I’d better not lie.  “I stopped by Bill’s house once to give him some information, and they were there,” I said and made a face remembering the nasty things I’d seen that day.  Even with my curse and being able to see into everyone’s mind, what I’d seen in real life had been beyond what I could tolerate.

Eric was turned to me and saw all the emotions as they passed over my face… probably felt them too: my surprise, my disgust, my fear.  When I parked in front of my house and turned to him, he was frowning in that concerned way he had adopted often, particularly lately.

“What?” I asked, unsure.  Was he mad at me, merely worried, what?

“I’m glad you’re not with Bill anymore.  He should not have exposed you in that manner if he was supposed to safeguard you.”

“I was never with Bill,” I said in a quiet voice and feeling the need to look away.  I wasn’t sure what he thought of me, but being with Bill was not something he should have been thinking.  Ever.

He must have felt both my embarrassment and my conviction, or maybe he didn’t want to make me mad.  “I figured that out when you said you’d never fed another,” he said, and his voice was deep and calming.  His statement was tantamount (Word of the Day) to him saying “of course.”

Eric put his arm over my shoulder as he walked me to the house, and waited until I pulled him inside to come in.  He stopped me in the middle of the living room, his huge hands on my shoulders massaging gently.  I closed my eyes, enjoying his touch immensely, wishing I had the guts to ask him to stay, but knowing I didn’t.  Not yet.

His thumbs caressed my neck, stretching all the way to the bottom of my jaw.  I’d missed his touch.  I’d pushed him away for so long, and why?  To hold on to some shred of… what exactly?  Pride?  He’d tricked me into being his wife, to save me, because he knew I would have never accepted to be his.  Yet I said I loved him.  There was something wrong with me.  Or maybe he was the one at fault for loving someone like me.  He had been the damaged one for loving someone as damaged as me.

My eyes opened with new clarity.  What had I done to this man?

“Oh, Eric…” I whispered on the verge of tears.  I’d done nothing but hurt him; perceived every one of his gestures as hidden agendas; pushed him away whenever my heart was about to give in.  That wasn’t his shortcoming.  It was mine.  I was too late to remedy it by the time I used the cluviel dor.  My wish brought me back in time to repair my relationship with Eric.

“Please don’t cry again, Sookie,” he said and kissed me softly.  “What can I do to stop your tears?”

“Feed,” I said without hesitation and pushed against his body.  He landed on the sofa and I knelt astride him.  His face was priceless: shocked agape with his fangs lengthening.  “Take what you need,” I said, tilting my head and offering my neck.  My hands kneaded his thick shoulders, spurring him on.

Eric growled low in his belly, almost mimicking an empty stomach, staring at the vein he liked best at my neck.  He reached up and caressed the area with one finger, his other hand knotting in my hair, pulling me forward.  He kissed my neck once, twice, three times, then licked.  The anticipation was driving me wild.  I felt about as aroused as if we were about to have sex, although there was an unspoken agreement between us that this was only a feeding.

It struck me that this was his first time feeding from me, aside from licking my wounds the night before.  He was being, or trying to be, gentle because he thought it was my first time too.  Sure enough, the next words that came out of his mouth were his way to try to comfort me, sweet nothings really, said in that deep sultry voice of his.  He was just as aroused as I was.

He sunk his fangs slowly, the tiny sting soon replaced by pure bliss.  I moaned in spite of myself, feeling the pull of his mouth on my skin.  In a quick move I was under him, lying on the sofa as he continued to feed.  He wasn’t pulling hard, just sipping, but it still felt out of this world.  Eric moaned after he swallowed, his hips grinding into me in another type of need.  He took another sip, followed by another moan.  I gasped when his erection pressed into me in a way to tease me.  He knew what he’d done and repeated it, then ground his pelvis into mine and it was my turn to moan.

With one last sucking pull at my neck he froze, and when he swallowed he shook above me.  I smiled to myself, hoping he’d been wearing underwear under those fancy leathers.  He lapped at my neck softly, letting a soft mewl escape as a tiny aftershock rippled through his body.  I was happy to have done that for him.

He wasn’t damaged for loving me.  I could love him back, wholly, without hesitating at every turn.  I had it in me now that I knew better, but how to show him without driving him away?  Surely it was too soon to be in love.  But I was… I was in love.  Thoroughly.  Could he tell?

“You’re so sweet,” he whispered, “so beautiful, so soft.  Thank you for being mine,” he said, and I knew he meant it.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

I was putting coffee to brew when I heard a car pull at the front of the house.  It was very early, only seven in the morning, so I knew it wasn’t another delivery.  A knock on the back door let me know it was my brother, the only person in the whole of Bon Temps who knew the family used the porch door as the main door.  I opened it for him and he greeted me with a grim face.

“You look better, Sookie,” he said, closing the door behind him.

“Thank you.  I’m feeling much better.  Can’t say the same for you, though.  What’s going on?”

“Uncle Bartlett died last night,” he said with a somber voice.

Oh… right.  That old bastard had kicked it thanks to Bill.  I wondered how he died this time.  “How did he die?”  I was curious to know, but that was all.  I would not mourn his death this time, just like I hadn’t the last time.  He’d left me several thousand dollars and I had given it all to a mental hospital, earmarked for victims of sexual abuse.  This time?  I might give them half, depending on the sale of the house.

“They don’t know yet.  His nurse found him dead in bed.  Probably a heart attack like Gran,” Jason said, and I knew he was mourning.  I’d been so mean to him about it.  He hadn’t suffered at Uncle Bartlett’s hands (thank God!) and I’d thrown it in his face, like it was his fault he didn’t get molested just as I had.

“I’m sorry, Jason.  I know you liked him,” I said in a subdued voice without giving away much.  I even turned away and fiddled with coffee mugs so that he wouldn’t have to see me roll my eyes.  He didn’t deserve that.  “I have some more bad news… well, maybe you’ll think they’re bad.  I wanted to tell you now so you’re not surprised.”

“What’s that?” he said, sitting at the table and accepting a mug of coffee.  He braced himself.

“There’s a realtor coming today.  I’m thinking of selling the house and she’s going to price it for me.  If I like the price she’ll go ahead and list it.  I’ll buy something smaller inside a neighborhood.  It’s too lonely here,” I said, giving him my best reason for selling.  There were several other reasons, such as the house being a money-hungry character that had sucked the life out of me in a previous life, always a liability, never secure or safe enough, too far from Eric, and WAY too close to a fairy portal.

Jason nodded, understanding coloring his expression.  “I can understand that.  It’s a big house for only one person…” he drifted and looked up at me.  He looked different, and was looking at me differently.  “Would you like to switch houses?  Mine is closer to town, but it still has the lake and stuff.”

I knew Jason had kept our parents’ house immaculate.  His truck and his house were both priceless to him, and for him to offer it to me was a huge deal.

“You would do that?” I asked, even though he’d just told me he would.

“I would if it would make you happy.”

I blinked, mostly thinking that Jason rarely put another’s happiness above his own.  “Would you be okay living here?”

Jason looked around.  We looked alike, male and female versions of our parents mixed genes, his eyes and hair the same color as mine.  “The house needs work that you can’t afford now.  The driveway needs redoing, the whole of it needs a new coat of paint, and this kitchen needs to be completely updated.”  Boy!  Didn’t I know it!  “I already did all that to my house, and you won’t need to make any major investments for several years.”

I shook my head in disbelief.  It wasn’t often that Jason was so clear and level headed, least of all with me.  I knew he had it in him.  He was the supervisor of his crew, after all.  I was tempted to touch his forehead and see if he had a fever.

“I hate to say this, because I don’t want to discourage you from your concern for me,” he looked at me like I’d grown another head.  I continued.  “But what brought this on?”

He took a deep breath.  “You’re right about it being too lonely here.  It’s not safe for you to be here alone.  Look what happened with that motherfucker.”  He would never again say Rene’s name, I knew that much.  “When I came to see you… do you remember me trying to make you eat?”  I frowned and shook my head.  “I was here the day after the funeral.  You were like a zombie.  I stayed with you for hours and you didn’t move, just stared into space.  I thought I’d lost you too.  I called Arlene and later she told me she’d gotten you to shower and dress.  So then I thought that you just didn’t want me here.”

“I don’t remember you being here that long…” I mumbled.  “I’m so sorry.”

He shook his head, like I didn’t need to apologize.  “You had just gotten attacked and then Gran died.  I’m just sorry that Vampire Bill got to rough up the motherfucker and I missed out,” he said with a rueful smile.

We spoke about the realtor and we agreed to have her go to Jason’s too and price his property, just in case I decided to buy it, then he would buy mine.  If they were close in price then we could do an even exchange.

One thing was for sure: I was not staying in that house any longer than I absolutely had to.  I wanted out.  Holding unto things had gotten me deep in a horrible rut, to the point that my actions had ultimately (if indirectly) caused Eric’s death.  No more.  I needed to change.  I’d said it once and was convinced I’d changed enough, but I’d been wrong.  I was scared of change.  Now I had to embrace it.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The next week passed by too slowly.  I kept busy with work and packing up the house.  The people at Goodwill and the Salvation Army got to know me pretty well, as I kept bringing anything and everything that would fit in my car.  I was getting rid of years and years’ worth of junk from the house, including stuff that had belonged to me or my brother.  Slowly but surely the clutter disappeared.  I felt light.  I thought I would miss the stuff, but I was actually feeling better the more I gave away or threw away.

Things at work took a turn for the worse.  I never imagined that Sam could be a mean or hostile boss, but the air around him had turned nasty.  He was very cross with me at all times.  He would go out of his way to find mistakes.  The more mistakes he found, the more I would make, like an ice skater who falls once, then keeps falling during the rest of her routine.  I was seriously thinking that one of the changes I needed to make was getting another job.

I wasn’t able to see Eric, which just added to my sour mood.  Thankfully we talked on the phone every night.  That was more than we talked during the last few months of our relationship.  Our lack of communication then felt so wrong now.  We set up a date to go out, which maybe explained why it felt like the week was dragging.  Our conversations on the phone were always fun, but they always ended with one of us saying we missed the other.  The first time he said it, I told him I didn’t believe him.  How could he possibly miss me?  He barely knew me.

“Believe me, Sookie.  I would never lie to you.  I miss your beautiful smile, and your kisses, and your sweet blood.  If I weren’t so busy I would be where you are right now,” he said.  His voice had turned sultry and had me fanning myself as my core temperature rose.  I was silent, not knowing what to say.  I missed him too, so, so much.  “Sookie?  Are you still there?”

“I’m here.  I… miss you too,” I said, my voice coming out like a whisper.

From then on I began counting the hours until I could see him again.  I tried to make it through my day, put up with Sam’s hostility, keep busy so time would pass by faster and so I didn’t have to think.  At night, right before bed, I would read or catch up on Doctor Who episodes.  I wasn’t mad at the Doctor anymore and saw him more like a kindred spirit.  I’d even told Eric about my sudden love for the Doctor, and he had teased me that he felt jealous.

Of course, all that waiting around for something to happen made me nervous as a mouse on the night of our date.  All day I was getting tiny tremors in my middle.  I lost my appetite and not because I was feeling sick.  I was very excited to see Eric.  I’d asked him to keep the date simple, just the movies, even though he’d invited me to go dancing.  I was honestly a little too tired to go dancing, and it didn’t feel right to go so soon after my grandmother dying.

Even though it was a simple movie date, I made an effort to look good.  I put on the jeans that made my butt look nice, the high heeled sandals that showed off my freshly polished toenails, and a low cut shirt that showed off my boobs.  I left my hair down in waves and put on some subtle makeup.  Eric didn’t know it yet, but he liked this look on me.  A lot.  Since I didn’t want to smear lipstick all over him, I didn’t put on any and stuck the tube in my purse for later.

When Eric knocked at my front door it was all I could do not to run through the house like a giddy teenager.  I opened the door and his eyes told me everything I needed to know.  I flushed at the unspoken compliment, grabbed my purse and walked forward, only to be stopped by his massive body stepping forward too.  He put his hands on my waist, holding me at arms’ length and taking me in over and over.  I took the opportunity to do the same.  He was wearing jeans too, with a nice pair of sneakers and a navy T-shirt that showed off his rippling muscles.  We were locked in a stare-down, a la O.K. Corral, when the phone rang in my kitchen.  It made me jump.

“I better go pick that up,” I mumbled, feeling lightheaded and stumbling a little when he let me go.  It was Sam on the phone, letting me know that my check was ready if I wanted to go pick it up.  I was sure Eric had heard everything Sam had said (and Sam’s tone), since he’d been standing not two feet from me as I talked on the phone.

“Do you mind if we stop at Merlotte’s?” I asked Eric.

He shook his head and got close again.  “You owe me something,” he said in a very deep and serious voice.

I lost all my air.  “What… what do I owe you?” I stammered.

He got as close as our two bodies could get without touching, bent at the legs and pulled me into him.  One of his thighs ended up wedged firmly between my legs.  I closed my eyes without meaning to, holding back a moan.  His lips were so very soft brushing over my jaw.  My lips parted, mostly to take in air, but Eric took advantage and covered my mouth with his.  His tongue went in search of mine at the same time that I threw my arms over his neck and held on.  He was going to have to use his considerably greater strength to pry me off him.  He’d given me blood and felt some of what I felt, but I wondered if he could feel the depth of my feelings for him, how much I loved him right at that moment.  Did he know?

Another moment of clarity hit me.  I had to separate us, to maintain a modicum of decorum.  I was not an easy catch, kissing his face off aside.  I would still be his Sookie, but he had to earn my affections.  That’s what he had liked about me.  That’s why he loved me.

It took every ounce of self-possession I had to break off that kiss.  “We’ll be late for the movie,” I said as I tried to catch my breath.

He seemed to understand, though it took him a good minute to let me go.  I could feel why.  Goodness me, I really wanted to take care of him!  The thought of our last time together, during the past that was now my future, kept intruding and wasn’t helping.  He’d been such a giving lover, and the way we had come together… it was good, it was right.  It was “us.”  I wanted “us” back.

We walked hand in hand into Merlotte’s, and outside I’d spotted Bill’s car.  It couldn’t be helped, he would see me.  I’d tried to talk Eric into waiting for me but he refused, and I gave in quickly.  I wanted to do right by him, even in the little things.  Obviously it meant something to him to walk with me and hold my hand.

Sam, I knew, was seething when he saw us.  I couldn’t understand it.  He hadn’t gotten this bad when I dated Bill.  He left the bar area and returned a second later with my check, the quicker to get me out of there.  I was hurt.  Had I messed the friendship I’d had with him?  I put my check in my purse and was ready to leave when Eric suggested we go say hi to Bill.  We were standing in front of Bill’s booth before I could object.  Yet another hostile man… although, his smile gave nothing away.

“Eric, Sookie, I would like you to meet Harlen,” Bill pointed at the vampire youngster sitting across from him.  “He’s visiting from Minnesota on his way to New Orleans,” he said and turned to the kid.  “Harlen this is Eric Northman, Sheriff of Area 5 here in Louisiana, and his human Sookie.”

And there it was, reduced in Bill’s mind to being Eric’s meal.  Great.

“Excuse me, Bill,” Eric said, making Bill’s mouth shut as he was about to say something else.  Eric turned to Harlen.  “This is Sookie Stackhouse, my girlfriend.  Really, Bill, and you say you’re mainstreaming,” Eric tsk’d.  “And now we take our leave, as we have a date.”

Harlen nodded his head at me first with a pleasant smile, then at Eric.  That’s when the memory hit me.  Harlen wanted to meet Malcolm.  I couldn’t let either Bill or Harlen go to the Monroe vampires’ house.  I wasn’t sure if their house would be safe.  The Monroe vampires had been making humans angry not just here, but all around wherever they could.  It might have been Rene’s idea to burn down the vampires’ house, but who was to say nobody else would have the same idea?

“Excuse me, Bill.  Where are you taking Harlen tonight?” I asked, much to all three vampires’ surprise.

“Bill is taking me to meet Malcolm.  He’s a legend!” Harlen gushed.

Crap on a stick!  “Um… you might want to stay away from them, Harlen.  They have been causing a lot of trouble around, and there are a lot of humans who wouldn’t mind hurting them, and you if you’re with them,” I said.  It was the best warning I could come up with.

Eric pulled me aside quickly.  “What do you know?”

“Somebody might burn down their house as soon as the sun rises tomorrow morning,” I said in a quick whisper.

“Might?  It’s not a sure thing?” he asked.

“I’m not sure.  I’ve heard things, rumors, and incomplete thoughts, but it’s enough for me to warn them.”

Eric thought about it without taking his eyes off me.  Then he gave me a quick smile.  “You’re a good person, Sookie.”

Eric proceeded to tell Bill to get the three vampires out of their house for the night.  I wasn’t sure that it was going to work, but at least I’d done the right thing.  Now we just had to wait and see.  Something told me that Malcolm, Liam, Diane, and Harlen, along with the one human woman, were all going to die that night regardless of my warning.  It was just a matter of finding out the way they would die.

Next Chapter 

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8 thoughts on “Chapter 6 – Does He Notice?

  1. I always thought her hanging on to that house, her waitressing job and all things Bon Temp was dumb. Most people grow up and leave home. CH had her hang on to everything and this just kept her from moving forward and grabbing on to her ‘OWN’ life. I like your take on this. Your version has her moving forward aware and open to fixing things. Next chapter.

  2. I so love this story and freaked (temporarily, dut still did) when I tried to go read where I left off in FF.NET and it wasn’t there. I am so glad that I was able to find it!!! WOO HOO!!!

  3. Wow – I absolutely love this story, thank you so much for posting it (found it through fanfic) I read it first when it was a competition entry and then found the rest of it a bit later. It is so refreshing to read a different scenario and with Sookie being more receptive to Eric. I like that fact that major events, e.g. people dying, still happen in this parallel universe, as it seems like you can’t alter major things happening in time, just how they happen. Like fate! It is absolutely gripping story and I find I can’t put it down, it’s very well written.

  4. Thank-you for posting the link to your web site on fan fic. I just love your storiy and to be able to get updates sooner is great. I’ve gotto to go look around in here now and see what I’ve been missing.

  5. Hopped over here from FF to see if Chapter 7 was up yet. LOVE this story. Do you have a regular posting scheduled?

    I am bummed by the way Sam is treating Sookie, but I am hoping that it will just reinforce that Eric was always THE ONE. Sookie seems to be firmly on the right track with Eric, but every little bit that pushes them together is just a bonus.

    Iam really hoping that you will continue to re-write the events of all the books in this story so we can see how things might have played out if the real Sookie were a little smarter from the get-go.

    Also, I really enjoy the TB re-caps and it is AWESOME to have all the Eric moments from each week all in one place. Thank you!!

  6. Looking forward to getting new chapters sooner via the blog. What a great idea!
    I’m really enjoying this fic. I like how Sookie has realized she’s gone back in time to save more than Eric’s life – to also reimagine their relationship in a way.

  7. I didn’t know when your next update will be so i got impatient and check this site and wowla , every chapter just gets more addictive.

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