October 29, 2003
When Eric rose for the night, Sookie was sitting in the kitchen, anxiously waiting for him. Her smile was the biggest he’d seen yet, and while that pleased him, it also saddened him since all he could offer was phone calls with Gran. He needed to be sure that Sookie’s story would work before he could commit to anything more. “I take it you’re ready to call her?”
Potts answered, “She’s been driving me nuts all day. Please do it right away so she can calm down. She has me jittery from all her nervous energy.”
“She’ll need to wait for a short bit, we need Pam.”
“Well, go get her then!” Sookie yelled.
“It’s Pam, Sookie. She’s doing her hair.”
“She doesn’t need her hair styled to watch me make a phone call for Christ’s sake!”
“Sookie, it’s Pam, it’ll be a while. I can think of something to occupy our time.” He said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
“I’m good with just sitting here waiting, thanks.”
To Sookie, it seemed to be hours later when Pam finally joined everyone in the kitchen. Sookie yelled at her for taking her time, but she just teased her about being overly anxious. Eric suggested that Pam and Sookie join him in the office for the call to Gran. He explained that he had Weres at the farmhouse and they confirmed that Gran was home alone. “I also have Indira in the woods. She’s the vampire with the talent for glamour that I mentioned to you before. I know you don’t want to glamour your Gran, but if she becomes too upset or tries to contact help, we may need her help.”
“Ok, it’s a backup.”
“Yes, always have backup plans Sookie.”
“Like you did when you couldn’t glamour me?”
“Good one Sookie. Are you ready?”
She nodded enthusiastically and Eric pushed the phone to her and she dialed. “Come on Gran, answer!” Sookie said while she bounced her leg impatiently. Finally, after the 4th ring she heard her Gran and Sookie yelled her name into the phone before Gran finished saying hello.
“Sookie, is that you baby?”
“Yes Gran it is.”
“Where are you?”
She looked at Eric and he nodded. “In Shreveport Gran. Before you start with a million questions, I’m OK and I can explain what happened.”
“You’re OK? Really?”
“I am. Did Jason make it home alright?”
“He did but he was tore up that he left you there to get help, and by the time the police made it back you were gone.”
“Yeah, um, what did he tell you? Did he tell you about the money he owes?”
“Oh yes, and I was so mad I smacked the tar out of him when he told me.”
“Good Gran, he deserved it.” She hesitated and Pam squeezed her hand to encourage her. “The thing is Gran, Jason wasn’t kidnapped for owing money to the drug dealing loan sharks.” She hesitated. “Gran, he was taken because he helped Amy kidnap and drain a vampire so he could take V.”
“WHAT?! I’m gonna kill him!”
“Gran, hang on, there’s more.”
“Ok baby. You tell me.”
“Gran, some of what Jason told you was true. I did manage to find where he was being held. You see Gran; crimes against vampires are handled by vampires outside our legal system. Under vampire law, Jason could’ve been killed for what he did to that vampire. Amy was killed ’cause she actually staked the vampire they kidnapped.”
“My lord! How horrible! That poor man. I never liked Amy but I didn’t think she was capable of murder.”
Eric remained quiet but inside he was trying to figure out these Stackhouse women. ‘She is learning that her grandson was being held for a crime and she is expressing sympathy for a vampire she never knew. AND just like her granddaughter, she calls vampires men. Puzzling.’
“I know I was right mad at Jason for sure. Well Gran, the thing is the vampire in charge informed me that the punishment for Jason’s crime was his life; he was just going to keep Jason alive rather than dead.” Sookie took a breath and was a little unsteady when she continued. “Gran, with Dawn being pregnant and all, I made a deal with the vampire keeping Jason. I traded myself for Jason. I’m going to stay here with the vampire in place of Jason.”
“It’s fine here Gran. I’m living in a mansion with the vampire and I have a daytime companion – she’s really nice. Oh, and I’m working on the gardens here, I picked up a ton of bulbs to plant at the beginning of the year.”
“Can I see you baby girl?”
She answered the question as they practiced. “Not right now, but he’s slowly giving me more privileges, maybe that can happen soon.”
“Sookie, this just isn’t right. I get that Jason did something horrible, but now you’re being punished for it.”
“Gran, if I leave, Jason goes back. The vampire here answers to even more powerful vampires. If he doesn’t enforce this, he’ll be in trouble. We also CAN’T discuss this with anyone, as far as Bon Temps knows, Eric helped me get away from Jason’s kidnappers and I chose to stay in Shreveport with him.”
“Sookie, I still think we should call Bud and tell him to go get you.”
Eric started to grow concerned that Sookie’ plan was not going to work. He pulled his phone out to dial Indira. Sookie put a hand on his arm and pleaded with her eyes. She continued on. “Gran, Dawn is pregnant, Jason needs to be with her, not dead, or kidnapped, or beat-up. If you call Bud, he’ll still be in trouble per the human law. He kidnapped and drained a vampire.”
Gran was quiet for a few minutes before breathing out and acknowledging Sookie’s logic. “I hate that you’re right baby girl. I get it; this is where we are right now. That doesn’t mean I don’t want you figuring out a way to visit me and maybe someday getting out.”
Eric nodded and put his phone away, impressed with Sookie and her Gran’s pragmatism.
“Gran, how are you doing with the bills?”
“Everything is fine Sookie. I hope you don’t mind but I did need to use the insurance payout from your car being totaled. Sam also dropped off your last pay and I’m pretty sure it was more than you would have normally made. Oh and someone is looking at the back acreage finally. I’m staying afloat for now.”
Sookie and Gran spoke for a while more, and Sookie steered the conversation towards Bon Temps gossip. Pam and Eric remained in the office, but worked on their laptops while she chatted with Gran. Sookie ended the call a while later assuring Gran that she would call her weekly until she could make arrangements to visit. Gran cried a little when they were saying goodbye, and that caused a chain reaction with Sookie. “Sookie, you’re sure you’re OK?”
“I am Gran. I’m even celebrating Halloween at a party tomorrow. I need to do this for Jason and the baby.”
“I miss you baby girl.”
Sookie sobbed in then answered. “I miss you too Gran.”
After she hung up, Eric started to speak but she just shook her head and ran out of the office. When he got up to follow Pam stopped him. She explained that she would most likely resent Eric at the moment, and she was sure there would be another fight, a setback or both. Reluctantly, he agreed and Pam went.
“Sookie.” She knocked.
“Seriously, I can’t have a few moments to wallow?”
“You can, I just wanted to offer to come in if you want company.”
“Come on my sweet croissant, I need to hear about your final dress fitting for Halloween.”
“I’m not going to the party.”
“Sookie, you told your Gran you’re going; you’ve been so excited. Eric wanted you to go.”
“I don’t care what Eric wants. I’m nothing but his puppet, I’m just nothing. He can take Bambi or one of his other whores for all I fucking care.”
“Bambi? Sookie, can I please come in so we can discuss this?”
“I want to be alone.”
“I’ll come back after work.”
“I’ll be asleep.”
Pam turned and left, but she walked right into Eric. It appeared he heard the conversation and at first Pam thought he came to talk, but he looked … pissed? Now she was concerned. What was he going to do? Pushing him back wasn’t working. “What are you doing?”
Ignoring Pam as she kept trying to pull him back, he pounded on the door. “Sookie,” He bellowed. “l’m coming in.”
He opened the door and found her crying in the bed. “Why did you just mention Bambi? How could you possibly know her name?”
‘FUCK! Sookie thought, I did it again.’ She didn’t answer him and instead put on a defiant face. In reality, she needed the moment to think about how to answer. ‘I guess I’m just going to throw Bambi under the bus, if you will. I’ll say she said something to me at the garden center.’
She took too long to answer and Eric bellowed, “Answer me.”
“She said something to me at the garden center where she works about you guys being together. I think she was jealous of Potts and me after hearing that we were there shopping with your account.”
“The garden center?”
“She works there. If you’re her boyfriend, wouldn’t you know that?” She looked up, and raised her chin in a challenging position.
“Sookie, don’t taunt him when he’s pissed, please.” Pam pleaded.
“Go to Fangtasia Pam.” Eric ordered.
“Go, or be punished.”
Pam was horrified at Eric’s reaction to the whole conversation. She was scared for her friend; and she was scared that Eric was going to cause a huge set-back. Now that he was so angry, she knew he wouldn’t calm down and listen. The best she could do was leave and arrange to come back before Eric later so she could do damage control with Sookie. She made one last plea to Sookie to please back off and she turned and left.
Eric stood tall with his arms crossed over his chest while he waited to hear Pam’s car leave the garage. He turned to Sookie and said. “You’re keeping something from me.”
“I don’t understand, we’ve known each other for just over two weeks, of course you don’t know everything about me.”
He felt a pang of panic as she answered. He wanted to know the cause of these feelings that did not match her answers. Making himself as intimidating as possible, he used his height to loom over her as she lay below him in the bed. “Of course you’re right about that, but I’m not talking about the name of your first boyfriend Sookie. You have something that causes you pangs of panic when you answer some of my questions, but you should not be feeling the panic. Your feelings and your answers don’t match. What are you keeping from me?”
She stood to try and reduce the difference in their heights. “I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know about these panics. Could you possibly be so unaccustomed to human emotions that you aren’t reading it right?” She worked very hard to steel herself as she spoke.
“No. I just asked you why you know about Bambi, and your first reaction was panic. Why?”
“ERIC, I didn’t mean to mention her at all, I was just upset. Of course I panicked because I found out about a girlfriend or whatever she is. I thought you would be mad that I knew.” The whole statement was a lie, but she hoped it would work. She then remembered the other thing that worked: tears. She thought back to saying goodbye to Gran and was able to muster up some tears. “I’m sorry Eric,” she sobbed, “I was obviously upset at calling Gran and I just wanted to be alone. But Pam pushed too much and I just spoke without thinking.”
The tears worked, and he actually moved to wrap his arms around her. Knowing she had dodged a bullet and not wanting to upset him further, she leaned into the hug. After a moment, he started sniffing her hair and she pointed it out. “Eric, are you sniffing me again?”
“Any chance I can get.”
She laughed at Eric and started to pull away. “I really do want some time alone, and you need to work, remember?”
When he didn’t let go, she added. “Besides, Pam might break a heel or something from pacing out of nervousness. You scared her.”
“She doesn’t scare that easy.”
“Well I do and you really frightened me tonight.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t figure out how you could possibly know about Bambi. And Bambi is not a girlfriend. I don’t have girlfriends. I have one companion, and that’s you.”
“Eric, you don’t need to explain anything to me. We don’t have any relationship.”
“Yet Sookie. Yet. I’ll leave you to your alone time. And next time you’re upset, we’ll try to respect your need for wallowing.”
“I won’t let you go back into your depression again.”
“That’s not happening tonight. I just need to process the call to Gran; my future.”
“I’ll check on you when I get home.”
Once alone, Sookie thought about her predicament. That he could read her emotions was scary – especially since he was right. When she had information from her telepathy that she blurted out, she panicked. If she really came across the information innocently, she shouldn’t panic. ‘I’ve got to get better at keeping information from people’s heads to myself. He’s going to figure it out if I keep making these mistakes. The Halloween party is really going to be hard. All those minds; all those disgusting thoughts. At least I can come back to quiet. I may not like being in captivity, but I do like that I’m not Crazy Sookie here. It’s nice to just be me.‘
After her little reminder talk on her telepathy slips, she felt that a bath was in order. Once soaking, she had to admit she liked the tub here too.
On his drive to Fangtasia, Eric considered the ‘evidence’ he was gathering about a possible secret Sookie was keeping. He was started to line up quite a list of clues, and he considered going to Bon Temps to glamour information out of some folks, even Jason or Sookie’s Gran. In the end he decided that Sookie needed to trust him enough to tell her himself. He could wait.
When he arrived, Pam WAS pacing the back hallway when Eric arrived and he chuckled to himself that Sookie guessed that one correctly. “WHAT HAPPENED?”
“NOTHING? You felt like you were going to kill something when I left. Did you hurt her?”
“No Pam, have a little more faith.”
“Then what was that all about? Was it Bambi – she was a fangbanger we both had, right?”
He explained that it WAS the mention of Bambi that concerned him. Since he’d fucked Bambi once, he had no idea how Sookie would know the name. To make him even more concerned, when he asked about Bambi, Sookie panicked. Now he had Pam’s attention.
“She panicked? Why?”
“She explained that she was afraid that she knew; that I would be mad at her for having found out about Bambi. When I tried to explain about Bambi, she just brushed it off, but Pam – she was jealous. I could feel it.” He was grinning like a fool.
“You’re acting like a school boy.” Pam smiled. “I like it. I like her for you.”
“Yeah, me too. ….. You know, Godric turned me into a sap.”
“Let’s finalize the plans for the Halloween party and then go out and scare the vermin. Maybe we can find a vampire to punish so you can get to be the badass that I know and love.”
They both took their seats on the thrones as they watched the pathetic humans. As usual, Eric started tapping on his Blackberry and after they had been on the floor for a while, Pam could feel a spike in Eric’s anger. “What are you reading over there?” Since Pam usually only surfed the fashion sites on her Blackberry, she was sometimes surprised at the work Eric did on the small device.
“Two of the other Louisiana Sheriffs have decided to join us for Halloween.”
“Shit, Cleo and Gervaise are coming in.” He nodded. “Do they expect you to put them up for the day?
“Yes, but I’ll send them to a safe house.” He pulled his hand through his hair as he often did when he was frustrated. “Pam, Sookie can handle acting the part, but she doesn’t smell like me.”
“So you keep saying. I’ll give her the choice. But maybe you should be there to help.”
She nodded her agreement; then looked around the club. “Are you picking someone for tonight?”
“I’m not in the mood.”
“The RSVPs from Cleo and Gervaise deflated you.”
“I don’t know that I want her exposed to anyone, regardless of whether she smells of me or not. She also won’t like the ‘ceremony’ involved with having other Sheriff’s at Fangtasia – or the donor buffet.”
“Eric, you can’t keep her hidden at your house forever, she’ll lose herself. As far as the ‘ceremony’, she needs to get used to it. Better now than later when things are really going well and then she sees the donor buffet for out of town hierarchy. I’ll get several donors lined up for that, by the way; we’ll use one of the rooms downstairs.” She thought for a moment. “Why did Cleo and Gervaise change their minds anyway?”
“They want to stay and meet on Nov 1st about Fellowship of the Sun issues in their areas. Apparently, the radical religious group is expanding outside of Texas.”
“Wonderful. Did you have any good news?”
“Yes, we’re done for the night, Longshadow can close.”
“THAT is good news.”
“Oooh. Don’t stop.”
“Ahh Sookie, you’re finally starting to stir.” Eric chuckled.
Pam snickered, “Sookie, it took you long enough, Eric’s been rubbing those feet and legs for about a half hour now.”
“It helps that her feet were already cold when I started, she didn’t notice my cold hands.” He motioned his head to the coffee table. “What’s all this?”
Sookie stretched to wake up. “After you left I had a wonderful soak in the tub and I really got my creative juices flowing.” Eric raised one eyebrow and opened his mouth to say something. Sookie stopped him. “I’m certain I just said something that would normally produce some lewd comment from you, but just refrain yourself or I won’t tell you what all this is.” He motioned for her to go on. “I started thinking about lighting.”
“Yeah, landscape lighting. You know the garden plans for the spring call for bunches of new flowers, but I didn’t include lighting. Well, I never thought of it before because I was never constrained to what could be enjoyed in the dark. Well, landscape lighting can really add to the garden. I mean, beyond some of the walkway lights and such you have now. Potts loaned me her PC and I started doing some research online but I don’t know too much, so I only jotted some ideas down. You’ll probably want to consult with an expert.” Eric just stared at her. “What? Did I overstep? I’m sorry, I, you um, well you seemed so excited about the new plans; I thought this would enhance them. We can just stick to the original plans.” She sat up and started to stack the papers on the table.
“No Sookie, I ….. leave the designs. I want to go through them.”
“You didn’t look like that at first, you’re just humoring me.”
“I’m not humoring you, I was stunned. That you would go to this trouble for a vampire’s yard made me speechless.”
“It wasn’t trouble, I enjoyed it.”
“Show me.” He smiled at her when he asked.
They spent the next hour reviewing her research and plans. Every time Sookie tried to downplay her work or ideas Eric would turn her comments around and encourage or praise her. They both agreed that the electrical work would need to be handled by experts, but her actual designs appeared sound. Still, Sookie asked Eric to review the plans with a lighting or landscape expert before he invested any money. He said no. “We’ll meet with these experts together and find someone who will mentor you.”
“Sookie, I don’t know if you understand the talent you have shown on both your garden and now overall landscape planning.”
“It’s just an interest Eric.”
He wanted to discuss this more, but honestly, he didn’t know how to address that he felt she had an opportunity to learn more and make this a career. ‘Why would I encourage a career when I want her home with me? Companions don’t work. I’ll need to think about this.’
He took the drawings and placed them back on the table. “Sookie, we’ll talk more about your gardening later. I need to discuss something with you about the Halloween party.”
“Judging by the look on your face, I’m not going to like it. Just get it over with, please.”
He shook his head then told her the situation. “Two Sheriffs from other areas in Louisiana have decided to attend. They notified me tonight.”
“Ok, so all that stuff about behaving means even more. Eric, I was already planning to behave as discussed since there are already going to be vampires from this area in attendance.”
“It’s more than that, Sookie.” Pam started to explain.
Eric nodded, acknowledging Pam’s point then continued. “Until I heard from these Sheriffs, only specifically invited vampires from my area were attending the party. Vampires I trust to keep our relationship quiet.”
“Why does that matter?”
“Sookie, if it gets out to vampires I don’t trust that I care for a human, you can be used against me.”
“Against you, how?”
“You could be kidnapped to ensure I could be used by someone; a monarch from another state or someone even within this state that wants to expand their power base.”
“You would, my kidnapping would … you… I…” Sookie struggled to understand.
“Sookie, we’re getting off track. I need to explain about the Sheriffs.” He said to Sookie, but he said to himself, ‘and I’m dangerously close to admitting that if she were kidnapped, someone would have me as their puppet to get her back.‘
“Ok, explain the sheriffs.”
“Right now, you would really need to be perfect in your performance, or I would have to punish you, publicly. ” Sookie swallowed hard. “That’s only part of it. For me to keep you as a companion, it would be hard to explain why we haven’t exchanged blood.”
“You need to drink from me? You already did that once, I guess I can handle that.”
“You also need to have my blood.”
“I’ve had your blood.”
“Not enough and too long ago now to smell it. If they don’t smell my blood in you, they’ll think I can’t control you. It’ll be hard enough explaining why we don’t smell like we’ve been having sex. ”
Sookie’s eyes grew wide. “Vampires can SMELL that?”
“They can smell if we’ve had sex, or in our case, that we have not. They will also smell that you’re a virgin. We can probably explain that, but not the blood.”
She didn’t hesitate. “I’m staying home.” She even stood to leave the room.
“Sookie.” He stood and took her hand.
“I can’t handle this right now. I was already nervous about screwing up and needing to be punished, but they’re all going to smell my virginity? They’re all going to wonder if you care enough about me that you just aren’t fucking me; that I don’t have enough of your blood for you to control me. That’s what’s gonna happen, right?” She started crying now and added while sobbing. “And you won’t admit it, b … because that’s why you changed the topic, that you do care for me and if I were kidnapped, it would be a problem. I didn’t ask y … you to care for me. I c … can’t deal with this anymore, it’s t …. too much. Let m … me go.”
After releasing her, he watched her run for the stairs. When Pam stood to follow her he reminded her that sometimes they needed to give Sookie space. She persisted and he reminded her of the blowup from before, when Pam had wanted to be supportive, but she pushed too hard and Sookie lashed out. “Give her a short while then go knock. If she lets you in, then fine, otherwise you leave her alone. I’ll alert Potts to the situation.”
“This sucks Eric. She wanted to go.”
“I’ll make it up to her. I have tickets to a symphony next week.”
“I don’t know that going to the symphony is going to make it up to her.”
“Do you think we can arrange a visit with Gran?”
“I think we can, and THAT would certainly do it Eric. Would we bring Gran here, or take Sookie there?”
“Start planning to have Gran here first. We can also have her select some of Sookie’s things for Bobby to pack.”
“This is good.” She moved to sit on the couch next to Eric. “She’s right, isn’t she? You’d kill for her; she’s a weakness for you.” He simply nodded and she grabbed his hand. “Then I’ll stand with you for her. And, you’re not going to like this, but I won’t tolerate it if you hurt her either. She’s my friend.”
“YOU won’t tolerate it?”
“Yeah, I know, you can do whatever you want, but it’ll be a problem between us if you do.”
“I don’t plan to hurt her Pam, not just for your benefit either.”
“I know. I’m just letting you know how I feel. It’s crazy you know? We only met her two weeks ago and lord knows she doesn’t return the feeling.”
His eyes sparkled. “Remember, I can feel her feelings Pam, I wouldn’t be so sure about that. There’s something there ”