The vampire watched from the cover of trees, standing downwind from the Viking and the pretty fairy hybrid. Her scent wafted over to him and made him salivate. He’d already drained a human per night since he broke from his internment, but none could compare with the blood of one Sookie Stackhouse. He owed the Viking a slow final death, but the fairy would be his to keep on tap, shiny electrifying fingers notwithstanding. He would think of something to keep those from hurting him, even if he had to cut her hands off.
As soon as the Viking left in his fancy new car, his companion grunted in disappointment beside him. He rolled his eyes at her and made a face. She had already stunk to high heaven, and only the spell he’d worked on her made the stench mildly tolerable.
“What’s the matter, pudding?” he asked her, to see how she was progressing with the talking thing. He’d fed her the remainders of his human victims, and she seemed grateful enough that chose to hang around with him, if only for food. He would take his friends anywhere he could find them, since obviously the vampire and human communities were lacking. A fresh body from the cemetery? It was a good thing he’d learned his fair share of Voodoo magic throughout his long three-thousand-year-old life.
“Haaauuun-grrrrry,” his companion muttered. She was indeed getting better at speaking.
“You don’t want to eat your friend, do you?” he asked. She nodded, her hair falling forward revealing the part of her head that was missing. “Tell you what: if you can get inside the house and bring her outside, I will let you eat her brain. How does that sound?” She grunted, probably in agreement, but who really knew? “If Franklin could see you now… he’d be so proud of you,” he muttered and fixed her hair a little, then sent her on her way.
Russell Edgington was nothing if not impatient. He’d learned to simply take whatever he wanted, and his long life was proof that patience is overrated. He watched from the trees as the young zombie made her way to the front door of the house. She fumbled at the stairs, not quite able to figure out how to climb them. Nobody said Russell had the cleverest friends, and right now she was the only one who could go inside that house and retrieve what he wanted.
Of course, the promise of giving the zombie the brains of her fairy friend was as empty as his heart without Talbot. It was so not going to happen. He needed Sookie Stackhouse whole.
The zombie tripped over the stairs with a loud wet crash of limbs and sinew, probably doing her body more damage in the process. A light came on in the upstairs part of the house, then another, letting Russell know that Sookie was not alone in that house. Better safe than sorry. He called his zombie child over to him, and she tried to obey, taking lumbering steps back into the woods.
A tall dark man opened the front door suddenly, holding a gun and aiming it at the clumsy specter.
“What the fuck is that?” he said, lowering the gun so he could see better, but it was too late. “I swear to God…” he muttered in an angry tone.
Lafayette turned back inside the house, convinced that Tara’s ghost had been trying to get into the house. But why hadn’t she come in just like all the other ghosts he’d seen? He couldn’t come up with a ready answer. After all, the seeing-ghosts business was brand new to him. Maybe not all behaved the same way, and God knew Tara was a crazy bitch in life.
“Everything okay?” Sookie asked from the top of the stairs, where she had remained under threat of a gun to her ass.
“I think Tara’s ghost was trying to come in now,” Lafayette said, returning the gun to the coat closet next to the door before making his way back upstairs.
“You think so? I would really like to see her again. I miss her,” Sookie said, feeling the tug in her heart from missing her friend so much.
“I’m not sure, sweetie.” Lafayette took a deep breath. Sookie was the only one left that cared for him, even opening her house so that he wouldn’t feel lonely. He stopped in his tracks. “How did your date go?”
Sookie gulped and plastered a fake smile on her face. She hated lying to Lafayette, but felt she had to, given his history with Eric. “It went great. Are you going to be here Sunday evening?” she asked, because if he was she would have to finally come clean about Eric.
“Nah… I have to go work for ‘da man.’ Sam won’t be in and he left Terry and me in charge of Merlotte’s. I don’t ever see you in there at night, not even on your nights off from school.”
“I need to study on those nights, you know?”
“Except tonight, huh?”
“I can make exceptions.”
“Uh-huh,” he smiled. “It’s okay. You’re finally smiling again, that’s a good thing. He better treat you like a queen,” he said, pointing a finger and wiggling it at her.
Sookie giggled. “He has so far. He’s been very sweet and gentlemanly.”
Lafayette and Sookie went back to their respective beds, but neither was able to fall asleep right away. Sudden frights were never good, particularly at night.
“I forgot to tell you something,” Pam began when she saw Eric walk into his office at Fangtasia. The bar was still busy, even though it would close in only an hour.
“Did you forget or were you too mad to tell me?” he asked, settling in his seat behind his desk. He kept replaying Sookie’s kisses over and over in his mind. Delicious.
“Something like that,” Pam mumbled.
He could already tell it had been something rather important. The wonderful night he had enjoyed was about to go down the drain. He didn’t want to say the wrong thing after the frail peace that seemed to have descended between them, so he waved at her to proceed.
“Alcide called asking about a silver chain he found in a parking lot. He said the lot had to be repaved because there was a big hole and a huge silver chain lying next to it. He wondered if we knew anything about that, and then he wondered if you had made the hole and if you were going to pay for the damage,” Pam said, watching as Eric’s face changed from disbelief to all out anger.
He cursed loudly and in Swedish. Pam had read that when people revert back to their mother tongue it’s because their thought processes are atrophied, such as during strong emotions or if the person was sleepy or tired. Eric wasn’t sleepy.
“When did he tell you this?” Eric bellowed, already standing in front of her baring his fangs. Immediately she knew she’d made a huge mistake.
“That was Russell, wasn’t it?” she asked, trying to stall. He continued waiting for her answer to his question. “Alcide called me almost three weeks ago, right after the witches’ thing. I thought you were going to kill Russell.”
“Russell Edgington deserves to pay for what he has done to me and what is mine,” Eric growled low in his chest. Then a new fear settled deep within his gut. “Sookie… she’s not safe.”
Immediately he grabbed his phone and called her, letting out a breath when she answered in a drowsy voice. “Eric? Are you okay?”
“Yes, I was going to ask you the same thing,” he said, pacing.
“Mmm-hmm… I just fell asleep not two minutes ago,” she said. Eric could hear the sound of sheets rustling.
“Did anything happen after I left?” he asked, needing to be where she was.
There was a pause of the line that seemed too long. “Funny you should mention it,” Sookie began and yawned. “Sorry for yawning in your ear. Um… earlier Lafayette and I heard a noise outside, but it turned out to be nothing. Actually Lafayette thinks it might have been a ghost.”
“Sookie, I need to stay the night in your house. We have a big problem and you need protection. Is it okay for me to spend the day in the cubby?” Eric didn’t want to have to ask for permission into his own house, but if he didn’t then the progress he’d been making with Sookie would have been for absolutely nothing.
“I keep it locked,” she said in a very low voice, “so Lafayette doesn’t know what’s in there. You can come, but you better tell me what’s going on. I need to know, you understand?”
“I’m on my way,” Eric said and hung up. He grabbed a change of clothes and a bag, knowing that he’d forgotten to leave any while settling in Sookie’s house before Sookie returned from the land of the fairies. He hadn’t forgotten his books, but he’d forgotten his clothes. It just went to show where his mind had been.
“This conversation isn’t over, Pamela,” he said, walking away swiftly without giving her a backwards glance.
Pam took it. After all, she understood that she shouldn’t have kept something like that from him. It had been more than petty. It had been cruel. She had been hoping that Russell would find Sookie and make her disappear, but now she wasn’t so sure that she really wanted that. Eric would suffer tremendously at the loss of his lover. It wouldn’t be fair to him. Even though she had no choice but to stay and close Fangtasia, she made plans to go and find Russell herself.
Nobody would mess with Eric.
Eric arrived at Sookie’s window, which she had left open just a smidge. He lifted it and snuck inside, closing it again so she wouldn’t get cold. Sookie took a deep breath and turned to the sound of rustling fabric. Eric was quickly taking off his shoes so as to not make any noise whatsoever.
“Hi,” she said, and gave him a sleepy smile.
Eric glided over to her bed, remembering all the wonderful ways he’d had her in this very room. He pushed away the memories. Sookie was tired and, besides, they weren’t at that point yet. He sat beside her and tucked a golden strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry I woke you,” he said in a whisper.
“I’ve been jumpy since earlier, don’t worry,” she said and moved to the other side of the bed and away from him. Eric’s heart sank until she patted the bed beside her.
He lay down, careful to remain above the covers and to maintain some space between Sookie’s body and his. She reached for his hand and twined her fingers in his.
“I feel better now that you’re here, but you have to tell me what’s going on,” she said and her eyes closed. Without another word she fell asleep, her body giving up and succumbing to her exhaustion.
He made her a silent promise that he would tell her everything. This time it was different. Now she was his and she needed to know what was going on. Thankfully it seemed that Russell hadn’t caught on to the fact that Sookie was no longer the owner of her house, something that Eric needed to rectify immediately. It would be the only way to keep him outside and Sookie safe within.
Eric sent a quick text message to his child, and asked her to begin the paperwork necessary for the transaction. Then, in another quick blur, he sent a message to his king, letting him know that Russell Edgington had broken through the confines of his cement grave and was now roaming through northwestern Louisiana. He was sure Bill would appreciate knowing the threat was at large.