Rising the next evening, I lie in my bed pondering the events from the night before. The conversation with the Stackhouse family went better than expected if I am being completely honest. I’d expected difficulties from all three members of the family, for one reason or another; I was surprised it was only one though; Sookie is proving to be difficult in other ways. I want her; there is no question about that. The question is for how long. I am bound to the Stackhouse family for the foreseeable future. I do not keep pets like others of my kind. Monogamy is something I’m not familiar with; I didn’t practice it as a human, and I certainly haven’t practiced it as a vampire. I cannot see Sookie willingly turning a blind eye when I decide to feed and fuck from another. Nor do I see her being the type to engage in a casual fling. Despite her flirtatious manner, she is still very much an innocent. While I have enjoyed deflowering more than my fair share of virgins without a care in the past, I cannot do that to Sookie. Oh I want nothing more than to introduce her body to the sensual arts; I’ve fantasized about her taste and the feel of her body wrapped around mine. And if it hadn’t been for Dawson’s timely interruption, I would have known exactly how true my fantasies were. But then where would we be now?
As much as I wish it otherwise, Sookie Stackhouse is off-limits.
Later at Fangtasia, my nightly meal is doing her best to suck me off; unfortunately her best is not cutting it. I have already fed from her and fucked her to her satisfaction but I am still in search of my release. Bored with fucking her mouth, I have pushed her head farther down on my dick, but her skills are lacking. She is sloppy; my dick feels like it is submerged in the Mississippi.
Pam walks in my office without knocking. The girl on her knees tries to scramble away, but I grip her hair tightly to keep her where she belongs. It’s nothing Pam hasn’t seen before and the odds are she will see it again.
She speaks in Old Norse. “Are you almost finished? Sookie is waiting for you in the bar.”
My head whips to the side. “What is she doing here?”
Pam shrugs, “I didn’t ask, but she seems upset. She tried to come back here to see you, but I parked her at your booth.” She looks down at the girl on her knees and my still erect cock with a raised eyebrow. “Looks like you’ll be awhile. I’ll go keep Tinker Bell company.” Pam gives me a knowing smirk and wink before vamping out of my office.
Not knowing why Sookie is here has me worried. We’d made no plans for this evening; in fact, she is supposed to be working. I need to get out there quickly, both because I need to find out what’s wrong and because I worry about what my progeny will say. Using my hands, I hold my dinner’s head still so I can fuck her face quickly. She’s gagging slightly both from my speed and my length, but I don’t care. Thoughts of Sookie and the building anticipation of seeing her in a few moments has me cumming. It’s sad that simply thinking about Sookie’s mouth and body has the ability to make me cum but nothing the pathetic blood bag did could get me off.
I glamour the human (whose name I never cared to learn) to go clean up in the bathroom and then use vamp speed to put myself back to rights. Checking my hair in the mirror as the last step I stride purposefully out to the main floor of the bar. Sookie is sitting exactly where Pam said she would be. She looks so forlorn and tiny sitting there. Her head rests between her hands and her eyes are scrunched closed. The expression on her face looks pained and her body is tense. Pam sits across from her in the booth with no expression on her face. What the hell is going on?
“Sookie,” I call her name quietly once I am beside the table. She jumps as if I had shouted her name in her ear. I slide in the space beside her and she throws herself in my arms. Without thinking, I wrap my arms around her to comfort her. Pam raises an eyebrow at my action.
“So Dawson was right? You are starting to fall for her,” Pam says with a knowing smirk. Thankfully she is speaking in Old Norse and Sookie has no idea what is being said.
“Enough Pamela,” I snarl in my native tongue. “What have you done to her?” Sookie is trembling in my arms. If my progeny upset Sookie, there will be consequences. Perhaps I will give her latest Parisian shopping trip to Goodwill.
“Nothing. She’s been quiet except for pointing out a group of minors in the bar. You really should consider hiring her Eric. Think of all the problems we could avoid,” Pam says before sliding out of the booth to resume her post by the door. She flashes her fangs at a man who tries to touch her and he shrinks back in fear. Pam smiles an evil smile of pure enjoyment as she continues her walk across the bar.
“Sookie, what’s happened?” I focus all my attention on the small figure in my arms. I try to stifle my body’s reaction to her nearness, but my cock has a mind of his own tonight.
“It’s Jason,” she sobs out. “They arrested him for murder this afternoon.”
“What?” How could this have happened? Why wasn’t I told immediately? Where were his guards? Someone may die tonight if I do not get answers soon! This discussion isn’t appropriate for the middle of my bar, so I guide Sookie out of the booth and head down the hallway that leads to my office. I lean Sookie against the hallway wall, holding her shoulders in my hands. “Tell me what happened.”
“After he left the house last night, he went to Merlotte’s,” Sookie begins after taking a deep breath. She pulls a tissue out of her pocket to wipe the tears from her face.
“He was drinkin’ like usual, but was spoutin’ off a lot of nonsense according to Lafayette and Tara. They said he ended up leavin’ with Maudette. She’s trashy,” Sookie says with disdain. “She’ll let anyone do anything to her, anytime, anyplace. I’ve always stayed outta her head because her thoughts were always so . . .” Sookie shivers in disgust. I wonder what my naïve ray of sunlight would do if she could hear my thoughts or even knew a fraction of the things I’ve done.
“Anyway, Maudette’s naked body was found this mornin’. Her momma found her naked with strangulation marks around her neck. Sheriff Dearborn and Andy arrested Jason while he was at work; they’ve had him ever since. Sookie pitches forward and ends up with her face buried in my chest. I once again wrap my arms around her. The woman from my earlier meal walks out of the bathroom at the end of the hallway. She gives Sookie a dirty look as she walks past us. I snap my fangs down and growl in warning towards the pathetic fangbanger who scurries away. Sookie has stiffened in my arms and she pushes against me so I’ll release her.
“I didn’t realize you were busy this evening. I’m sorry to have bothered you. I shouldn’t have come here,” she says before walking quickly down the hallway and pushes her way through the bar. What the hell is that about? I vamp through the bar and grab Sookie’s arm as she stomps across the parking lot.
“What are you talking about? You absolutely should have come here if your family is in trouble! Why haven’t the guards notified me there is a problem?”
“Because I wanted to tell you myself! Because I wanted to see you and have you tell me everything’s gonna be alright! I wanted you to hold me again; I wanted to feel safe like I did last night in your arms! But that was just stupid on my part,” she says with disgust. “Go back inside; go let your fans worship you. I won’t take up anymore of your precious time. I’m sure you have better things to do than worry about me and my family!” Sookie stomps off and climbs up in the cab of a large diesel pickup truck, one I recognize as belonging to Tray Dawson. He sits behind the wheel staring through the windshield at me. Sookie and Dawson exchange a few words before Dawson slips out of the truck to come speak with me.
“What happened?” I demand answers and I’m not going to get them from the overwrought woman in the truck. Her behavior still baffles me. Perhaps it is due to the stress from her brother’s situation.
“Exactly as she told you,” Dawson tells me in his matter-of-fact way. “From what I can tell you, the police in Bon Temps are a fucking joke. They’re discussing the case in Merlotte’s for everyone to hear,” he says with contempt. “The detective on the police force seems to have a hard-on for Stackhouse; he thinks he’s the only one who could’ve done it. Videos were recovered from the dead girl’s house showing her having sex with different men, vamps and Weres included. The girl liked it rough. Jason was the last video recorded; it’s from the night she died. I called Johnson, the pack lawyer, to represent Stackhouse. I figured you’ll probably get one of them fancy lawyers to represent him, but I thought you would want someone there to keep him from saying something he shouldn’t. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed,” Dawson finishes wryly.
“You’re right; he probably would have confessed even if he didn’t do it,” I say in disgust. My eyes flick to Sookie who is sitting in the truck with her arms wrapped around her middle, trying to comfort herself. I want to be the one to comfort her, but something has spooked her tonight. It seems I take two steps forward with her and five steps back. Sighing, I tell Dawson to take Sookie home; she needs rest and I have a murderer to find.
Dawson starts to walk back to his truck, but then stops. He turns sideways to look between me and Sookie. “You know, she held it together all day. She was workin’ at the bar when she got the news about her brother. I don’t know how she managed to handle hearin’ all the thoughts from those assholes in that town thinkin’ her brother did it, but somehow she did. Merlotte’s the one that told her to leave, that she didn’t need to be there anymore.” Dawson crosses the space between us quickly, so he is standing near me again. “She was fine until she came outta your bar. So what the hell did you say to her?” Dawson’s tone has become menacing and his hands begin flexing as if he is preparing for a fight. Tonight is not the night to test my patience.
“I said nothing,” I say as I feel my fangs aching with the need to tear something apart. “Remember who you work for Dawson. You will not question me again! The girl and her family are mine to do with as I see fit,” I say coldly.
“My job is to protect Sookie Stackhouse,” he tells me firmly. “Even from you if I have to.” His nostrils flare as the wind shifts and he picks up an unidentified scent. “You smell like cheap perfume and booze. Please tell me Sookie didn’t find you with your nightly meal,” he says with disgust.
“Of course not,” I snap. “She stayed in the bar until I joined her. Then we moved our conversation to the hallway outside my office.”
If possible, Dawson’s expression becomes more disgusted. “In your bar where she can hear every person’s thoughts and will know exactly what you were doing while she was forced to wait? I never pegged you as an idiot Northman.” He walks quickly to his truck and climbs in. The engine starts shortly after he’s settled and they drive away while I stand as still as a statue in the parking lot.
I’ve killed men for far less than what Dawson said to me, and I wanted to lash out at him for his insubordination. But I cannot, especially when he’s right. Sookie may not have seen anything with her own eyes, but her ability might as well have made her a spectator with a ringside seat. In my haste to get to Sookie, I neglected to glamour our encounter from the fangbanger’s mind.
Pam approaches me in the parking lot. I have stood there long after Dawson’s taillights faded from my sight. “Eric?”
“Call Cataliades,” I say shortly. “Tell him I need the best defense attorney in the state for Jason Stackhouse. Do not tell the Queen; I need more information before I update her. I am going to Bon Temps.”
“For what it’s worth,” my progeny says softly, “I didn’t think about what Sookie would hear about you from the vermin. It is my fault Master,” she says with her head lowered respectfully.
“Pam, the only one I can blame is myself,” I admit honestly before taking flight. It’s true; I’ve never outlined with Sookie what her role is to be in all of this. Given our encounters, including last night, I can see why she is upset. Humans put undo importance on commitment and monogamy. Sookie may not be entirely human, but she was raised that way. And she will see my fucking another woman as some type of betrayal. This cements that Sookie and I can be nothing more than business associates.
It’s not what I want, but it is what needs to be done.
My flight takes me to the Bon Temps Police Department. There are only two cars in the parking lot. Good, it will make what I am about to do much easier. I walk in the harshly lit lobby of the building. My eyes are constantly scanning for video cameras, but I see none. It will make it easier to cover my tracks this way. Modern surveillance has been a blessing and much appreciated advancement when it comes to protecting me and my interests, but it’s been a bitch when I find myself needing to stay incognito. It used to be you could take the video tape that everything was recorded on, but the digital age has made everything infinitely more complicated. Fortunately, I have a technology wunderkind in my back pocket when I am in need of such expertise.
There is no one in the reception area, only a sign telling me to ring the bell for assistance. I lean against the counter and press my finger against the metal bell. After a minute, a gangly Caucasian male in the beige and brown uniform of the police department appears.
“Can I help you?” His voice has the deep Southern accent one expects from this area, but it is even more garbled because of the speech impediment he works to cover.
It is easy to catch him in the hold of my glamour. He confirms that he and his partner are the only two in the building; no inmates are in the cells. When I ask about Jason Stackhouse, the deputy tells me the sheriff was forced to let him go earlier because Stackhouse’s lawyer showed up. They couldn’t charge Jason with anything because the video of Jason and the victim shows him leaving her house and she was still very much alive. I have the deputy take me to where all the evidence for the case is. We find the deputy’s partner there and I glamour her as well. They will not remember my visit, and they are suddenly very hungry. The two officers leave the building with instructions not to return for two hours.
Speed reading through the notes on the case, I learn the victim is named Maudette Pickens, a single white female, mid-twenties, that was found inside her home. There was no sign of a struggle which indicates the woman knew her attacker. She had been killed by strangulation; the pictures of the bruising on her neck indicate a belt or rope of some kind was used. Her body was covered in bruises and there were several bite marks on her neck, thighs, and breasts. Based on the pictures of those, they are older, having been given several days earlier. The dead girl was a fangbanger; I will need to ask Pam if she remembers seeing this girl with any of the vampires in the bar. This girl had offered herself to me and I had found her too pathetic for my attentions. The evidence indicates that a human was the one to kill her, but I wonder if a vampire could have done it. Many may think a vampire will drain a person to kill them; while that may be true for younger vampires, it is not necessarily true for older vampires. We have more control; we are not always ruled by our bloodlust. And I have often killed in a way similar to that of a human; it has helped deflect attention from vampires.
Dawson wasn’t kidding about the victim’s video collection. There are at least two dozen videotapes of amateur porn. I select the most recent tape of the dead woman and Jason Stackhouse. The video begins with Stackhouse and the victim on the sofa. She is the aggressor; pushing him down on the cushions as she kisses her way down his body. The victim disappears from the frame; given the noises and Stackhouse’s reaction, she is performing fellatio. I fast forward through the tape until I see the woman move off Stackhouse’s dick and go to the center of the room. There is something dangling from the ceiling. She puts her hands up on the item and spreads her legs. Stackhouse rises from the couch and positions himself behind the victim. As he fucks her, she begs for it harder and faster. She wants him to be rough with her; she needs the violence to get off. You can tell it disgusts Stackhouse to do as she asks. This man isn’t a killer; he cannot stomach violence and isn’t able to give her what she wants. Despite his disdain for what she asks of him, Stackhouse finds his release. He leaves quickly afterwards. The woman eventually walks to the video camera and turns it off.
Glancing at the time, I see I have an hour before the two deputies return to the building. I rewind the tape and eject it from the video player, returning it to where I found it. The police have separated the tapes in two groups: human and vampire. There are only three tapes in the vampire pile. The tapes in the human pile have been labeled with the names of the men that were her featured partner on the tape. The tapes in the vampire pile have not been labeled. Grabbing a pad of paper, I hurriedly jot down the human names; it’s not much, but it is something to go on. I need to know how the vampires are featured on the remaining films. The first tape is of the victim and Liam, a vampire in my area that I’ve had problems with before for getting too rough with humans. The second tape is also of Liam, though his nest mate Diane is also a key player on the video. But it is the third video that I am most curious about. Pam and Long Shadow have some explaining to do.