In the hours between leaving the Shifter’s bar and 2:00 am, I decide to do some reconnaissance of my own on the Stackhouse family. Other than the Shifter and my soon-to-be-pets, there were no Supes in the bar. Where are the Weres supposed to be watching the Stackhouses? Someone’s ass will be mine if they think they can get away with slacking on the job. I am about to take off into the night sky for the Stackhouse home when the fresh scent of Were hits me from the woods surrounding the Shifter’s bar. Tray Dawson, a Were that has no affiliations with any of the local packs, steps out of the woods and waits for me to join him.
“Evenin’ Sheriff,” he addresses me as he pulls a cigarette from a pack. He drops the pack of cigarettes in the chest pocket of his denim vest then pulls out a silver Zippo lighter. The orange flame flares in the night sky as he brings the small fire to the tip of his cigarette, inhaling deeply as the stench of tobacco fills the air. I’ve always liked working with Dawson over the other Weres in my area. His no-nonsense approach is something I appreciate and he doesn’t let any prejudices get in the way of him doing his job. To Dawson, money’s money; it doesn’t matter who’s paying him in the end. That isn’t to say he lacks a moral code; he just marches to the beat of his own drum. When Pam contacted him about watching the Stackhouse girl, he made it clear to Pam that he was only going to watch her; he wouldn’t be involved in anything that would harm her unless she attempted to harm him first. It’s not the first time I’ve had Dawson make stipulations when it comes to the jobs I offer him; in fact, it makes me respect him more for not just accepting without asking any questions.
“She knows you’re watching her. You were supposed to stay inconspicuous,” I say harshly.
Dawson takes a long drag of his cigarette before exhaling slowly. “It’s kinda hard to stay inconspicuous when she seems to always know where I am. At her home, I’d shift into a wolf to watch her from the woods that surround the house. Whenever she’d be outside, she’d always turn her head and stares at the spot where I’d watch her from. A few times, she came into the woods to see if someone was watching her. As for when she’s working, I hung out in the bar a few nights; the Shifter’s a problem though. After the third time I came in, he cornered me, wanting to know why I was in his bar. I lied, telling him I got into a fight with some Weres over at Howl at the Moon and was trying to lay low. I don’t know if he bought my story or not,” he says with a shrug. “Since then, I’ve been watching her from out here.”
“How far away were you when you watch her at your house?” Her ability is fascinating! Never once did it occur to me that she would have a range when it comes to reading people’s minds. For some reason, I envisioned her ability only worked over short distances or would need her to be touching the person to know their thoughts. Gods, the possibilities for using her gift are limitless!
Dawson shrugs again. “Over a hundred feet or so; I was close enough I could keep an eye on her but not so close that I thought she could see me. Like I said, she knew where I was every time though. How’d she do that?” I do not answer his question and the silence stretches between us.
“She’s not entirely human is she?” Though it is posed as a question, it is more of a statement from the Were. Before I can respond he asks me another question. “What are you planning to do with the girl?”
“The girl is none of your concern,” I tell him in a cold voice.
“Normally I would agree with you,” he says with the cigarette dangling from his lips. He takes one more long drag before dropping it on the ground, smothering the lit end with his boot. “That girl is probably the most decent human being I’ve ever met. She’s kind to everyone even though most of the people in this backwoods town treat her like the gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe. I’ve seen her work 10 to 12 hour shifts just to go home and help her grandmother around the house. She’s certainly not materialistic,” he says pointing towards a rusted yellow piece of shit that is supposed to pass for a car. I make a note to replace that as soon as possible; I’m not going through all the hassle of protecting her just for her to die in a car accident with a mosquito because she drives a rusted tin can of a car. Tray’s last words bring my focus back to the conversation. “Sookie Stackhouse is a good woman Sheriff; not the typical woman who hangs around with vampires. What could you possibly want with her?”
“It’s complicated,” I answer the Were honestly. “I will need a team to set up a security detail for the entire Stackhouse family. Would you be interested?”
“As long as it’s for the girl or her grandmama,” Dawson shrugs his acceptance of the position I’m offering him. “No way in hell do I want to guard the male Stackhouse though,” he declares firmly.
“Why is that?” Is there something I need to be aware of that the investigator missed?
“He doesn’t have the sense that God gave a rock. And I think he spends more time between a woman’s legs than you do Sheriff.”
I can’t help the chuckle that escapes my lips. I admit that I do have a very healthy appetite when it comes to sex, but my exploits lately have been exaggerated by the fangbangers. The pathetic sample of humanity that comes to Fangtasia lost its appeal quickly; I feed and fuck out of necessity and to relieve boredom. It’s been several months, years perhaps, since I’ve had a sexual partner that I legitimately desired. An erection is nothing but a mental or physical stimulation that triggers the penile blood vessels to relax allowing for blood to flow freely into the penis which is then trapped within both corpora cavernosa. Ejaculation is nothing more than a man reaching a critical level of excitement. However, to actually desire someone or something involves some type of emotional attachment; there would have to be feelings of excitement, longing, need, or in some cases, love. The women and the men I’ve fucked in the recent past have been interchangeable; nothing distinguishes one from the other.
“I think that can be arranged Dawson. Who’s supposed to be watching the brother tonight? I don’t sense anyone else around.”
“Herveaux,” he says with a chuckle. “I sent him to get us food since neither one of us wanted to deal with Merlotte. The Shifter was frothing at the mouth the one day Herveaux had lunch in that shithole he calls a business. Apparently Merlotte thinks he has some claim over Miss Stackhouse. He warned Alcide to stay away from her.”
“Leave the Shifter to me. He’ll learn not to interfere with my pet or I’ll put him down,” I declare in a business-like tone.
Dawson looks incredulous. “Your pet?” Fuck! I wasn’t going to admit that. I might grudgingly respect Dawson, but he’s still a Were. They are notorious fucking gossips. I give it twenty-four hours before every Were in Area Five knows that I’m taking a pet.
My mulish expression is all the confirmation he needs. Instead of peppering me with more questions, the cagey Were quietly chuckles. Seeing my perplexed expression, his chuckles become guffaws. His humor has him bending at the waist, his hands resting on his knees as he tries to get himself under control. What the fuck is so funny? Dawson finally stands upright, wiping at the tears in his eyes from laughing so hard. The humor is clear in his voice as he takes in my annoyed expression. “Miss Stackhouse is your pet? Little Miss Sunshine and the Big Bad Vampire Sherriff of Area Five; I can’t wait to fuckin’ see this!”
After my frustrating conversation with Dawson, I run to the address that is the home of the Stackhouse women. I do not like that the house is so isolated; it is too vulnerable to an attack. If something were to happen out here, it would be days before anyone would notice. Standing in the woods, I can tell the structure is old and in need of repair but it is meticulously maintained. The grounds are recently trimmed and someone with a green thumb and eye for color tends the flower beds that line the house. An older model sedan sits in the parking area around the back of the house. No lights, save for the flickering of a television, are on. Looking through the window, I see the matriarch of the Stackhouse family resting in her bed. She wears a long white cotton nightgown and her grey and white hair hangs limply around her shoulders. Even from this distance I can tell she appears relaxed as she watches a show on The History Channel. The shit they pass off as history on that channel is laughable; I understand that history is written by the victor, but most of the stories on that channel are just as fictional as the complete works of Shakespeare.
There is nothing to be gained from staying at the old farmhouse, so I fly back to Merlotte’s. Landing near Dawson, I relieve him for the evening, no sense in both of us watching the Stackhouse girl. Alcide Herveaux is also with Dawson. Herveaux and I have a strained relationship at best. He blames vamps for the gambling debt his father has amassed. The elder Herveaux is banned from all gambling halls in the state with the exceptions of the Creole Queen and the Warrior, two casinos owned by my maker and me. The only reason he hasn’t been banned from there is so he doesn’t seek out less reputable gaming establishments that could get him and his family killed. Of course, the younger Herveaux thinks it is so his family will be indebted to me indefinitely. If I wanted to be a complete dick about it, I could call in the markers and bankrupt not only their construction business but the daughter’s salon too. But where’s the value in that? It’s not like I need the money.
“Do I get to go home too?” Hostility radiates off every inch of the younger Were. No wonder the father has racked up so much debt. If his poker face is as shitty as his son’s, a blind man would be able to see it.
“Where’s the male Stackhouse?”
As if he heard we were talking about him, Jason Stackhouse comes out of the bar with his arm around a homely girl. I would have thought him more discerning, only willing to sleep with attractive women. Then again, given what I saw inside the bar, there weren’t many options. Looking more closely at the girl, I recognize her from Fangtasia. She’s a fangbanger; she’ll fuck any vampire that will have her. She’s offered herself to me on more than one occasion but I’ve never been that desperate.
Inclining my head towards the couple that are currently pawing at each other against the side of a black pickup truck with flames painted on the sides, I address the sullen Were. “I think you have your answer Herveaux. Make sure someone watches him throughout the night. The girl he’s with is a fangbanger.” Maybe another vampire sent her here to acquire fresh blood and a willing fuck. I’m not willing to take the chance, so the wolf can just run off with his tail between his legs to sulk.
“Fine,” he growls before stomping off towards his truck.
I can’t help but chuckle at the young Were’s irritation. However my humor is short-lived because Dawson is staring at me with a shit-eating grin on his face. “Do ya mind if I stick around and watch the fireworks show?”
“Go home Dawson!”
He gives me a jaunty salute before strolling towards his motorcycle parked not too far from where we stand. He gives me a mock salute after the motor roars to life and he peels out of the parking lot leaving me to my solitude. There are still a few hours left until Miss Stackhouse will be free to meet with me. Thankfully, I have cell reception in this shithole, so I’m able to get access to my email. There are a few new messages but nothing important. I begin drafting an email to my day person, Bobby Burnham; he is a total sycophant but he is willing to do damn near anything I ask of him. I know that he thinks being associated with me elevates his status in life, but it just makes him more of a pompous asshole because of his superior than thou attitude. Bobby is in desperate need of a reality check; perhaps I’ll let Pam have some fun with him. My fingers fly over the keys of my iPhone as I type my email.
Here is your latest set of tasks:
Contact the car dealership where I purchased my Corvette. I want to buy two new vehicles: a Tahoe and a sedan of some type, something for an elderly woman. Use your brain; do not be a fucking idiot. These vehicles will be for two human women. Again, do not be a fucking idiot when you pick the color of the car. Better yet, let me know what color options they have available and I will pick out the color.
I need three phones added to my cell phone plan for Sookie, Jason, and Adele Stackhouse. For Sookie and Jason, iPhones will work. For Adele, find a phone with the largest screen possible. Also buy all the necessary accessories. Don’t be fucking cheap; it’s not your money you’re spending.
Contact Alcide Herveaux. Have him come out to the Stackhouse property on Hummingbird Lane (he knows the address) and do an estimate for a complete home renovation. Again, this isn’t your fucking money, so don’t be a cheap asshole. Have Herveaux send the estimate directly to me when he is finished. Also have him include all the necessary costs for a security system similar to the one in my residences.
I save the draft email and put my phone away because I sense two humans drifting closer to me. They think I’m unaware of their presence, but I had made note of them while I was inside the Shifter’s bar. It’s kind of hard for a vampire to miss two V addicts in a roomful of people. Judging by the way they are approaching me and the smell of silver in the air, I’d say these aren’t your run of the mill junkies; they’re also drainers. My fangs drop in anticipation; oh goody, I get to play with my meal after all tonight.
My eyes flick towards the business not more than ten feet away from me. I don’t want the Shifter coming out here while I’m taking care of this annoyance, so I move further in the woods. How the fuck have these drainers managed to sneak up on any vampire? They are not trying to be quiet with their movements and they have no strategy. How do they think they can possibly defeat me? A newborn vampire maybe, but I’m over a thousand fucking years old; two strung out V addicts aren’t going to be the reason I meet my True Death. Once I stop moving, the male comes at me in a full-out run, a silver chain in his hands. I thought maybe I’d get to enjoy this fight a bit, but I internally roll my eyes. The silver chain in his hands, while irritating, is not enough to completely disable me. What’s actually more worrisome is the gun in the female skank’s hands. Wooden or silver bullets will definitely disable me. These drainers are more skilled than I thought.
More worried about the woman than the man who is lunging towards me, I shoot up into the sky to avoid an attack from either one of them. Why engage them head on when I can pick them off at my leisure? I’m sitting high up in a tree about twenty feet away from where I left the ground. In the darkness neither human can see me.
“Where the fuck did he go?” The female’s voice is shrill and full of irritation over my sudden departure. She turns the force of her anger on her partner. “You were supposed to throw the chain ‘round him so he couldn’t go nowhere. Fuck Mack! You can’t do nuttin’ right! Now we got nuttin’!”
“Well how the hell was I supposed to know vamps can fly?!?! Maybe he’ll come back once he thinks we’ve gone. He seemed real interested in Crazy Sookie.” A low growl rumbles in my chest as I listen to this pathetic excuse for a human talk about using the young waitress as bait to get me to come back. I was going to kill them anyway once I had all the information from them about any other potential drainers in the area as well as their client list. But now . . . now I think I’ll let Pam have some fun with them . . . after I’ve tortured them first.
The female scoffs at the one called Mack. “What the fuck Mack?!? You really think a vamper was interested in that dumb bitch? I think you’ve had too much V if you think anyone’s interested in that fat cow. She’s too stupid to know what to do with a man.”
“I’d show her what she can do with a real man,” he says while licking his lips and grabbing his crotch.
“You’re a fucking pig!” The female slaps her partner in the shoulder, disgust all over her face. A deep rage settles in my chest as I hurtle out of the tree, colliding with the one called Mack so that his body is thrown into a tree while I fly back up in the sky to hover above the scene. He lands in a heap at the base of the tree, his neck broken. So much for letting Pam have any fun. It doesn’t matter; I still have the female to deal with.
“Mack!!!” The female screams in horror as she sees the twisted, broken body of the man lying on the ground. His neck is at an unnatural angle, his face frozen in an expression of shock, and his eyes are lifeless. Part of me is pissed that he met his end so quickly; he deserved to suffer for even thinking of putting his hands on Miss Stackhouse. I have done many depraved things in my existence but rape has never been one of them. Raping another is a sign of weakness and cowardice.
I turn my attention to the slutty female, enjoying the scent of fear in the air. She fires two shots into the air; unfortunately for me, one of them grazes my arm and I bellow in pain. Fucking wooden bullets! Before the female can fire again, she crumples to the ground, groaning in pain. Standing over the injured woman with a bat in her hands is none other than Sookie Stackhouse. My, my . . . she is just full of surprises. She picks up the gun the drainer had dropped when falling to the ground. I drop to the ground and walk slowly towards her, my hands raised in front of my chest so she knows I mean her no harm.
“You alright?” She looks at my arm where the bullet grazed me. My jacket is torn, but the skin has already stitched itself together. There is just an itching sensation as the skin completely heals.
I nod my head once. I turn my attention towards the body. “Who are they?”
“Denise and Mack Rattray,” my future pet offers. “They live in a trailer out near Four Corners.”
“Shut up you stupid cunt!” Denise Rattray obviously has no sense of self-preservation, not that anything will save her now. I catch the drainer’s eyes and glamour her into sitting still and shutting the fuck up. Finally, some peace and quiet!
Pulling my phone out, I text Dawson asking him to return to the Shifter’s bar with his truck and some rope; he replies that isn’t going to make my conversation with Miss Stackhouse go any easier. I tell him to fuck off and hurry up because I have two drainers; I neglect to tell him that only one of them is living. He responds that he’ll be back within thirty minutes. I put my phone back in my pocket and find my soon-to-be pet eyeing me warily.
“What prompted you to come out here?”
She looks flustered for a minute before she responds. “I uh . . . I overheard them talking about wanting to get some vampire blood. I knew you were waiting for me to finish work so I hurried here after them.”
I smirk at her obviously bad attempt at lying, but I push it to the side for now. “Were you worried for me Miss Stackhouse?”
She huffs indignantly. “I don’t know you Mr. Northman, but no one deserves what the Ratts had planned.” She looks down at the glamoured drainer in disgust. For a moment I think I’m the telepath because I can tell the brave woman in front of me wants to kick the drainer in her ribs and it makes me chuckle.
Tonight is certainly not shaping up the way I had envisioned. I fully intended to propose everything to the Stackhouse family a a business proposition, keeping our relationship strictly professional. However, all of that went out the window the moment I laid eyes on the blonde telepath. I admit, her ability is very valuable, but compared to everything else I’ve learned about her this evening, it is not the most impressive thing about her. Dawson was right; Sookie Stackhouse is Little Miss Sunshine and I feel myself inexplicably drawn to her. It is more than her scent, her blood, or her telepathy; it’s her, but I couldn’t explain it to anyone if I tried. I don’t like it. I need to maintain the upper hand in my dealings with this girl and her family.
“Go back inside,” I command coldly. “I will wait here until my associate comes. We will talk once your shift is over.”
“Excuse me,” she huffs. “Next time I overhear someone planning to drain you, I’ll ignore it!” She stomps away from me muttering under her breath with righteous indignation. She doesn’t get very far though; she spins on her heel and stomps back in front of me. “What kind of big fat a-hole are you that you can’t even say thank you when someone helps you out? Where I come from risking your own life to save someone else results in a ‘thank you’. You know what, forget it! I don’t wanna talk to you when my shift is over. In fact, I’ll be happy if I never see you again!”
Gods, but I want her! She is absolutely beautiful in her fury. Her eyes sparkle and her cheeks are rosy; her breasts rise and fall rapidly with her quickened breathing. But the most alluring thing about her in this instant is her scent. Before it reminded me of sunlight, honey, and the wheat fields from my childhood; now it has intensified, like how the air thickens right before a thunderstorm. I have to stop breathing the air or else I will be fangs and balls deep inside her before her back hits the ground. This isn’t just about sex or passing the time because I have nothing better to do; I truly desire the diminutive blonde in front of me. Fuck, could this situation get any more complicated?!?!
Before she spins away from me for good, I grab her arm. “I’m not finished with you yet,” I tell her with a hint of a smile lifting my lips. However, she must not have any sense of self-preservation since she slaps me hard across the face. My eyes blaze hotly, not with anger but with a burning passion that threatens to consume me and her. I use every ounce of control I’ve acquired in my thousands years to tamp down my feelings of lust, so I can focus and bring us back on track. We have many things we need to talk about, and sex, while I’m sure it will be immensely pleasurable, will not solve anything tonight.
I release her arm and take a step back from her. It’s impressive to see she is not intimidated by me at all, something I have not encountered from a human in many years . . . but she is not entirely human though she does not know it. “Unfortunately for you Miss Stackhouse, there are still many things we need to discuss this night. Let’s start with what you ‘heard’ from the drainers.”
She crosses her arms over her chest. “I told you everything I heard. I need to be gettin’ back inside ‘fore Sam comes looking for me,” she looks over her shoulder towards the Shifter’s bar, and shifts her weight as she stands before me.
“One question then,” I say holding up a single finger.
She rolls her eyes but waves her hand around, gesturing for me to hurry up. I smirk as I ask what’s been lingering on my mind ever since I first saw her in action earlier tonight.
“What’s a telepath doing wasting her talents in a backwoods bar in Bumfuck, Louisiana?”