As soon as he walks inside Merlotte’s, every eye in the bar turns to Eric. He is used to commanding the attention of those around him so it does not bother him. Though he is not a telepath, Eric can tell what the patrons inside the bar are feeling. Equal amounts of lust, disgust, fear, and curiosity are coming from those seated at the tables and bar. His crystal clear aqua colored eyes slide over to the bar where the Shifter is standing.
Someone must have given the Shifter an attitude adjustment; he isn’t his usual sneering, contemptuous, superior self. Instead, the Shifter nods his head respectfully and then his eyes flick over to the kitchen. Eric nods once and makes his way to an empty table in the middle of the bar. Once he is seated, conversations resume at their normal volume and people return to whatever it is they were doing. A skittish redhead in the Merlotte’s uniform makes her way to the table, standing as far away as possible from Eric.
Her voice quivers as she speaks and the stench of fear assaults Eric’s heightened senses. “What . . . What can I get ya?”
The waitress jumps off the ground and shrieks in fear when a slender hand touches her shoulder. She turns around to scream at whoever is behind her but stops when she sees Sookie’s reassuring smile.
“It’s alright, Arlene; I got this one. He’s not gonna hurt you because of what Rene did,” Sookie says soothingly. The redhead waitress whispers ‘thank you’ before running away as fast as she can. Sookie’s gentle look disappears the moment her gaze meets Eric’s. “What can I get you, Sheriff?”
Eric does not say anything in response for a moment. He feels sucker punched by her beauty; she looks better than he remembered. Her hair has more highlights from time spent in the sun, and her skin has darkened to resemble molten caramel. The darkness of her skin makes her eyes stand out even more, but instead of the warmth in her eyes Eric is used to, there is nothing but a flatness indicating a lack of emotion. Even their blood tie is uncharacteristically silent.
This can’t be good, Eric thinks warily.
Eric nods his head at the seat next to him. “I would like a few minutes of your time Miss Stackhouse,” he requests formally.
Sookie shakes her head causing her golden hair to swing from side to side in its tie. “As you can see, Sheriff, we’re quite busy tonight, and I already took my break. If you want to talk to me, it’ll have to wait until later when I’ve finished my job. Now if that’ll be all, I have to get back to work,” she replies dismissively though her tone is completely polite. Southern people are the best at saying ‘fuck you’ while shrouded in politeness.
“I’ll wait; I relieved Thalia of her duty. Would you please bring me a True Blood, O positive?” Sookie’s eyes narrow a fraction at Eric’s polite request and she stomps off to fill the order. Eric cannot take his eyes off her magnificent body encased in the tiny black shorts that make her legs look long and firm while the white t-shirt only emphasizes the natural bounty of her breasts. The thin cotton material does nothing to hide the pale pink lace bra Sookie wears underneath.
Eric’s lust ratchets up as he wonders if she’s wearing underwear to match. Are they sensible cotton briefs or something naughtier? Perhaps a pair of sexy little boy shorts that ride up on the curve of her hips and buttocks. Or maybe it’s a minuscule pink thong that barely hides the Valhalla that is her vagina. Eric shivers with barely controlled lust and fights the urge to grab Sookie and have his way with her for all the patrons inside the backwoods bar to see. As it is when she delivers his warmed bottle of blood, he gives her a fangy smile which earns him a scowl.
Sookie places the bottle of blood on his table with all the pomp and circumstance as if it were a fine bottle of wine. She places a green cocktail napkin down on the scratched wooden table top and then bends at the waist to put the bottle on the napkin. While she is bent at the ninety degree angle, she turns her head so that only Eric can hear her whispered words and read her lips.
“Don’t think that you can win me over with a smile. I’d rather break this bottle over your hard head than serve it to you. However, I don’t think my boss would appreciate me assaulting the paying customers. Though in your case I bet he would make an exception,” Sookie hisses venomously before hurrying away to the kitchen in response to someone calling out that an order is up.
Gods I love her fire! If his cock wasn’t hard before, it certainly is now. Eric shifts in his seat and adjusts himself under the table as he watches Sookie efficiently do her job. He is reminded of the night he first came here. If he had known then what he knew now, would he have agreed to what both his queen and the fairy prince wanted? Had he known then that a tiny blonde woman with a passion for life that matched his own was going to upset the balance of his life, he would have agreed to be silvered in a coffin and not deal with these emotions? Eric’s heart and mind scream within him, battling over the answer to that question. Logically, he knows that Sookie Stackhouse is a weakness he can ill afford. His pragmatic side that has allowed him to survive for a thousand years would have snapped her pretty neck if he wouldn’t have had two supernatural monarchs clamoring to end his existence. However his heart is gripped with an icy terror at the thought of Sookie not being in his existence.
Eric sits quietly in his seat, sipping at the foul concoction in the bottle. His eyes never stray from Sookie, though she studiously ignores him. She is a far better waitress than the other two girls working with her. Clearly her telepathy allows her to expect people’s needs without them asking. Her talents are wasted on the rednecks in this town; even if she still wanted to be a waitress, she would make far more money at Fangtasia than she does here.
But can Eric handle seeing her on a daily basis? Clearly going two months without contact was a bad idea because he was unprepared for how hard seeing Sookie again would hit him. Maybe daily contact would help him build up a tolerance; some type of immunity.
Do they make vaccines to cure love? They really should; it’s like any other disease that takes hold of the body and ravages it. At least that’s the way Eric feels at the moment as he watches Sookie laugh easily with one of her customers, putting her hand on their shoulder in affection before walking away. He feels chewed up and spit out watching her be affectionate with others yet so cold to him.
Yet that doesn’t compare to the absolute fury he feels when a group of drunkards harasses his woman. There’s always one group in a bar that acts like assholes and ruins the fun for everyone else. They think they are being funny, but really they are offensive. In this case, it’s a group of five men, all overweight; wearing what must be the finest in this season’s redneck fashion line of camouflage and plaid. Eric has watched them all night, knowing they will be a problem. The Shifter has been keeping an eye on them too, even going so far as to deliver their pitchers of beer to the table so that Sookie can keep her distance. At one point, the dog had even asked the men to dial it back a notch; that it’s a family establishment. The group of inbred hicks had placated Merlotte, but they were only bidding their time.
One of the men thought himself a regular Casanova; he’d been flirting with Sookie every chance he got, calling her ‘sweet thang’ and ‘sugar lips’. Sookie for her part, had been professional, and Eric could see her slap the ‘Crazy Sookie’ smile on her face, an indication to him that she’d heard something extra from one of their minds. As Sookie finishes placing their order of food on the table, Redneck Casanova grabs her around the waist, pulling her down on his lap and grabbing her breasts roughly while she struggles. His cohorts laugh and hoot encouragement. Everyone in the bar pauses either in shock or anger; even the Shifter doesn’t get a chance to move from behind the bar.
In less time than it takes to inhale and exhale, Eric has Sookie extracted from her sexual harasser’s arms and has both arms twisted behind his back at a painful angle.
In a deadly voice, Eric begins speaking. “In my time, women were to be treated with the utmost respect. They were the ones who tended our homes and fields while the men went A Viking. My human mother was far stronger than my father, and he knew this. Do you know what happened to those within our society that treated a woman the way you did?” The pinned man whimpers in pain as Eric leans down and whispers so quietly in his ear that no one else can hear. However, it is easy to see the man lose all color in his face and hear his pleas for mercy.
While Eric is dealing with Sookie’s attacker, one of his friends thinks to play the hero and tries to move stealthily out of his seat. A loud whack and the sound of a human body crumpling to the ground accompany the sound of the man pleading for his life. When Eric straightens up, he sees Sookie standing over the fallen man with her server’s tray held in her hands like a weapon. The man on the floor is curled in a ball with his hands over his nose. From the smell of blood in the air, his nose is broken. Eric looks at Sookie with a raised eyebrow and she shrugs nonchalantly.
“Junior here thought he’d play the hero and stake you with a toothpick. Bobby next to him is wondering if you’re gonna eat all of them. Royce, the one you’re pinning down, is begging the Lord to save him. Jimbo is trying hard to keep from soiling his britches, and that’s just sick!” Sookie glances at the fifth man in the group whose eyes have widen so much that you can only see his pupils and his whole body flushes red. If Eric had to hazard a guess passed on smell alone, the fifth man is getting off on all of this and is having some pretty graphic fantasies.
“I wouldn’t spoil my appetite by taking any part of their blood inside me,” Eric replies with disgust. “As for killing them . . . that would be too easy. But if I find out anyone of you try anything again with Miss Stackhouse …” Eric leaves the threat unfinished, knowing that the fear alone will keep them from doing anything. He releases his hold on the one called Royce and backs away, pulling Sookie with him so that he is standing protectively in front of her.
“I suggest the five of you leave; NOW!” The four men scramble out of the bar as fast as they can with their fifth cohort hobbling behind them. A few people in Merlotte’s applaud Eric for how he handled the situation, while many others begin whispering about the vampire and ‘Crazy Sookie’, and it’s not entirely favorable what they have to say. Eric shakes his head in disgust as he hears the people talking so negatively about Sookie. Why does she continue to surround herself with these fools?
“Couldn’t you at least get them to pay their check before making them leave? They’ve stiffed me on a bill over $60,” Sookie grumbles as she sets her tray down on the now vacant table. She quickly fills the tray with the discarded glasses and plastic trays of food.
“I will cover their expenses; it’s the least I can do,” Eric replies while watching her work. He shifts slightly on his feet, his hands moving into the pockets of his jacket. When Sookie rises with the tray in her hands, she nearly bumps into him because he is so close. “Thank you for that by the way. I knew he was moving, but I appreciate you defending me,” he says with a small smile.
Sookie gives him a tight smile in return. “It’s the least I could do. After all, you defended me.”
“SOOK! Yous alright hookah? Where dem mutha fuckers at? Imma kill every last one of ‘em! I shoulda beat the shit outta dem the last time they came in here asking me to hold the AIDs on their burger. That one punch wasn’t enough!” A muscular black man dressed in a black studded kilt with black combat boots and a white muscle shirt with gold lettering saying ‘I’m fabulous bitches!’ comes storming out of the kitchen with a look of anger on his face. The man also has a gold turban on his head which matches the gold eyeshadow and fake eyelashes. Eric isn’t one to judge, he’s worn some pretty interesting things over the course of his lifespan, but seeing this in a backwoods bar in bumfuck Louisiana is completely unexpected.
“I’m fine, Lafayette,” Sookie hurries to placate her friend. “Lafayette, this is Eric Northman; Eric, this is Lafayette. They don’t shake hands,” Sookie whispers in an aside to Lafayette so he doesn’t commit a faux pas.
Lafayette’s eyes move slowly up and down Eric’s body, licking his lips hungrily. “That’s alright, Sook. I gots sumthin’ else he can shake for me!” Eric smirks and Sookie flushes hotly.
“LAFAYETTE! What have I told you about talkin’ nasty? I won’t have it!”
“Aww, Sook, I can be a whole lot nastier if you want,” he says with a wink and a smirk in Eric’s direction. Judging by the look on Sookie’s face, Lafayette’s thoughts are rolling around in the gutter with no plans on coming out, though Eric’s positive there is lots of ‘cumming’ in Lafayette’s thoughts. It doesn’t bother him to know the obviously gay man finds him attractive; he’s been with both sexes many times throughout the centuries. What Eric finds more amusing are the feelings of jealousy and possessiveness that are coming from Sookie.
What does that mean?
Isn’t she with the telepath?
Does she still want him?
“Here; if you can’t be decent, then make yourself useful and take this back to the kitchen. I got work to do!” Sookie shoves the tray in Lafayette’s hands which he reluctantly takes.
“Alright hookah; I know when I’m not wanted. But if yous changes ya mind, ya know where to find me,” Lafayette says in Eric’s direction and puckers his lips giving Eric a kiss in the air. Eric, wanting to explore Sookie’s feelings more, gives Lafayette a wink and a fangy grin. Seeing it, Sookie huffs and walks away from Eric, throwing her hands in the air. It only makes Eric’s grin widen as he strolls back to his table, draining the remnants of the bottle of blood there.
Maybe there’s hope for them after all.