It has been three days since Sookie warned Eric about the raid on Fangtasia. Eric fled the scene with Pamela, his progeny. The police ransacked the club searching for evidence of illicit activity, but there was none found. The vampire feeding on the human in the bathroom had been silvered by Long Shadow, the bartender, and taken to a secure location for punishment. The human the vampire fed from was glamoured by Thalia and dumped far away from the bar.
Eric was especially harsh in doling out his punishment due to the offense being two-fold; destruction of his bar and disobeying his rules as sheriff. In addition to financial recompense, Taryn, the guilty vampire, is being held in Fangtasia’s basement. She is chained to the wall, naked and bound with silver chains at her wrists and ankles. She was whipped with a silver flogger. Her wounds are slow to heal while she is silvered, and she is only being fed one bottle of True Blood per day. Eric also removed Taryn’s fangs. Eric usually enjoys dishing out punishments, but he feels no satisfaction this time. He is still frustrated with the entire situation and it is because he lacks answers to one unsolved puzzle.
And that puzzle is Sookie Stackhouse.
How did she know about the raid and the illegal feeding? He had his investigator, Mustapha, search for information about Sookie Stackhouse. Mustapha had left his findings on Eric’s desk earlier in the day, knowing Eric would want to read it first thing in the evening. After reading the report, Eric is more frustrated than ever. Mustapha had included complete dossiers on the entire Stackhouse, including Sookie’s deceased parents. The information about Sookie Stackhouse fills a single sheet of paper; date of birth, social security number, family members, schools attended, and credit score. There are no known associates or affiliates, and no employment history. The only attached documents are her birth certificate from the hospital in Monroe, a criminal background check, and her college transcripts from the University of Mississippi. Skimming through the transcripts, Eric learns Sookie graduated Magna Cum Laude, and held Bachelor of Arts degrees in public policy, international studies, and journalism with a focus on public relations. After attending Ole Miss, it is as if Sookie vanished. There is no record of her until she turned up in Louisiana less than a week ago.
The door to his office flings open, and Pam stalks in. “We have a goddamn problem,” she states in irritation and slaps a file down on his desk.
Eric picks up the file and reads the contents. He growls, “Are you sure of this?”
Pam nods her head. “How do you want to handle it?” Her fangs snap down at the thought of being able to torture someone.
“No, I have a better idea. I think we shall need a mediator to help us resolve this issue,” Eric says as he gazes at the picture of Sookie included in Mustapha’s report.
Sookie sits at the dining room table of the farmhouse with files spread around her. The files contain police reports for murders throughout the state of Louisiana. All of these murders are cold cases that have one thing in common; all the victims were women known to associate with vampires. There are five known cases in all, spread out over the time since The Great Revelation.
Sookie had not lied to Eric when she said she is a mediator; she typically handles business transactions that involve humans and Supes. She predominantly works in the kingdoms of Texas and Mississippi, but will occasionally work in another area provided that certain rules are followed. This is the first time she is working in Louisiana, and it is only because she specifically asked her superiors for this case. This case hit too close to home for her.
The fifth victim was Maudette Pickens, a woman from Bon Temps. She worked at the local convenience store. She was a loner; no friends or family were listed in the police report. The autopsy report showed that she was strangled like the previous four victims, and there were bite marks on scattered all over her body. She had not been exsanguinated, indicating the killer is not a vampire. A vampire would have drained a victim before staging the scene to make it seem there was another cause of death. However, because all the victims associated with vampires, human law enforcement believed the murders were committed by vampires.
Sookie reads the evidence report for Maudette Pickens which includes an inventory of homemade pornographic movies. Sookie glances through the names of the identified male (and female surprisingly) participants in the movies when her eyes stop at a name she recognizes.
“MOTHER FUCKER!” The last name on the list is Jason Stackhouse.
Bill Compton is playing Wii Golf in the living room of his home. The ancestral home of the Compton house is in horrendous disrepair; wallpaper and paint are peeling, carpets are threadbare, furniture is sparse, the railings on the stairs are rickety, and evidence of vermin is present. Bill is not allowed to renovate the house to make it more livable; it is part of his punishment by the Queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne Leclerq.
Bill is being punished by Sophie-Anne because he inadvertently drained one of the donors in her donor pool during an episode of bloodlust. Sophie-Anne did not mind sharing her donors with the other members of her court, but it was with the understanding that none of the donors be drained unless it was at her behest. Bill also attacked André, the Queen’s child and second-in-command, while in the throes of bloodlust. The injuries to André were severe; he lost several fingers on his left hand.
Bill did not know what caused the bloodlust to rise up in him. He had merely been looking for a meal that evening, and decided to choose one from the donor pool. Sophie-Anne did not care to hear any excuses. She sentenced him a three-part punishment; first, he was forced to make Jessica a vampire. Sophie-Anne reasoned that because Bill did not have a child of his own, he could not fully understand the pain Sophie-Anne felt while André was injured. The first night Jessica had risen as a vampire, Bill was placed in silver, and forced to watch as Jessica was beaten by the “Berts”, Wybert and Sigebert, Sophie-Anne’s fiercest bodyguards and children. After Jessica healed, Sophie-Anne banished Bill from her court. He was forced to return to Bon Temps, taking his petulant child with him.
Bill had been back in Bon Temps for almost a month. He was halfheartedly training Jessica on how to survive as a vampire. He’d never wanted to be a maker, never wanted to pass this curse on to another. His maker continued to make his existence a living hell even though he had been free of her for decades. As soon as he is free to do so, he will release Jessica so that he is no longer burdened with her.
Bill’s cell phone interrupts the game. He checks the caller id and sighs. He does not wish to answer the phone, but he knows he cannot avoid this conversation.
“Have you completed your task yet?”
Bill grimaces. “No, I have not had the opportunity. You see…”
The caller cuts Bill off. “We do not care to hear your excuses. You were given a specific task by your Queen. If you fail in this task, I would hate to see what the consequences will be.” The line goes dead.
Bill needs to formulate a plan to complete the last part of his punishment from the Queen. Bill is to give recompense to Sophie-Anne for the loss of her donor. In this instance, Sophie-Anne does not want financial restitution; she wants another female donor…another part Fae female donor.
Sookie sits on the old porch swing buried underneath an old afghan her Gran made a long time ago. She rocks back and forth enjoying the sounds of the night. She contemplates the conversation she had earlier with Jason. She worries for her brother because the Bon Temps police are focused on him as the primary suspect in Maudette’s murder because his had been the last sex tape made. Sookie knows Jason is incapable of murdering anyone, but she needs to find the evidence to clear him. She spoke with the local police earlier; Detective Bellefleur and Sheriff Dearborn were not willing to hear anything Sookie had to say on the other crimes. Kenya, however, told Sookie that she would look into the possibility of other cases with similar circumstances.
Sookie sometimes really wishes she could glamour people; it would make her life so much easier.
While sitting on the swing, she feels a void approaching the farmhouse at a fast pace. Sookie’s heart speeds up, not in fear, but in anticipation. The void is familiar to her and it is one that she has expected.
“Hello Sookie.” Eric appears on the porch steps smoothing his windblown hair. Tonight he wears black jeans, a white fitted t-shirt, and a black leather jacket. His eyes are an icy shade of blue that stare at her coldly.
Sookie sighs. “What do you want to know?”
He vamps in front her, bracing his arms on either side of her. His fangs snap down in his anger. “What are you?”
Sookie looks at Eric with wide eyes. She does not want to lie to him, but there are some things she cannot tell him. She decides to start with the most basic of facts. “I’m a telepath.”
“A telepath . . . I had a psychic once,” he says after pulling back from Sookie.
“Was it good for her?” Sookie sasses him as she feels an inexplicable sense of jealousy settle over her.
Eric moves in again to cage Sookie in his arms. He purrs in her ear, “I always make it good.” Sookie shivers and her nipples tighten in desire. Eric skims his nose along the column of her neck, inhaling her scent. “You smell like wheat, and honey, and sunlight,” he says as his eyes roll back in his head.
Sookie feels desire pooling in her lower body. Eric glides his hands slowly up and down her arms, causing goosebumps to break out. He buries his nose in her hair, inhaling her scent. She can feel his stubble along her cheek. She pants out, “What do you want?”
Without missing a beat he replies. “Everything.” His lips ghost along the curve of Sookie’s jaw, and her head rolls back, exposing the column of her throat to him. Eric’s fangs snap down in approval.
Hearing his fangs snap down breaks Sookie out of her lust-induced haze. Her head rolls forward again and she looks Eric in the eye. She asks softly, “Why are you here Eric?”
The look of hunger fades slowly from Eric’s eyes and his fangs slide back up in his gums. He moves to lean against the porch railing. “I am in need of a mediator,” he says in a business-like tone.
She chuckles. “I told you before; you can’t afford me.”
He frowns in disapproval. “This is not a laughing matter; someone has stolen $60,000 from Fangtasia.”
Sookie sobers. “And you want me to listen to the thoughts of your employees to find if they did it. I can read human minds, but vampire minds are a void to me.”
Eric nods in understanding. “It is better for you that you cannot read vampire minds; it would put you in great danger.” Sookie gives him a look that implies “duh”.
“I will help you, but I need a favor from you in return.” Eric nods his head for Sookie to continue. She explains to Eric about the five murdered women and how they were targeted because they associated with vampires.
“How is it you know about these five cases?” Eric crosses his arms in front of his chest wanting to know how a human (mostly) girl knows something about his world that he does not.
Sookie looks at him warily and hesitates before replying. “It is the next assignment for my job. And before you ask, I cannot tell you who I work for.”
Eric grins arrogantly. “I could glamour it out of you.”
Sookie returns his cocky grin. “Bring it on Cowboy.”
Eric is in front of Sookie again, looking deeply in her eyes while pushing his glamour. “Sookie you will tell me the answers to the questions I ask.” Sookie’s eyes lose their focus and her expression is blank. “Who do you work for?”
Sookie opens her mouth to answer but instead starts laughing. Eric looks indignant and she laughs even harder. She pats his hand in a comforting motion. “Don’t feel bad Cowboy; vampires older than you have tried to glamour me and it hasn’t worked. Just one of the perks of being a telepath, I guess.”
Silence stretches between the two of them. Sookie resumes rocking on the swing and Eric stands looking at the house. He finally asks, “Are you going to invite me in?”
“And why would I do that?”
“So that I can have passionate, primal sex with you,” he leers. Sookie’s lower body clenches in desire but she needs to focus on the unresolved issues between them.
“If I read your employees for you, you’ll help me with my investigation about the murders of those five women.” Eric nods his head. “Shake on it?” She extends her arm and Eric wraps his hand around hers to seal the deal.
He keeps her hand in his, a sardonic grin on his face. “This is not the deal I was hoping to seal this evening. Come to Fangtasia Monday evening. We are closed. You may conduct your interviews then.” Eric flips their hands so that hers is on top. He places another kiss on her hand, nipping lightly at the veins before letting go. With a final wink, he vanishes in the night.
Sookie whispers into the night, “I’ll see you soon Viking.”