Never End Ch. 10

Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten: Eyes Opened

Liam was already waiting in Eric’s office when the Sheriff arrived, his fingers tapping impatiently and looking every bit as nervous as he should.

Good evening, Sheriff,” Liam choked, his extensive tattoos quaking as though they had come to life in his cagey fear.

Good evening, Liam,” Eric answered coldly.

Is there something I can do for you, Sheriff Northman?” Liam asked eagerly. Eric tilted his head from side to side as though he was contemplating what sort of favor he might barter. Resting his elbow on his desk, Eric placed his chin on the upturned hand and stared at Liam lazily another moment. “I understand,” he finally began, “that being so new to vampirism, there are times when standard operating procedures can get quite hazy. With so many fresh things to learn and understand, and the rules changing every century or so, it can be quite easy to make a mistake within the set of laws.”

Y-yes, Sir,” Liam agreed.

That said, you are still well below your century mark and the rules have not changed too very much during your existence as a vampire. You are more than aware of the ways in which we deal with human law enforcement. We glamour, we clean up, but we do not kill. We especially do not stalk the one fucking human cop who cannot be glamoured!” Liam swallowed hard at the accusation. “What is your interest in Detective Stackhouse?”

I-I just did what he asked,” Liam pleaded.

What who asked?” Eric demanded sharply, rising from his desk to stand in front of it and closer to Liam. When the younger vampire did not respond by the time Eric arrived before him, the Sheriff grabbed Liam’s arm and yanked it out of the socket. While Liam howled in pain, Eric snarled, “Answer me immediately or I rip it off.”

Compton! Bill Compton!” Liam cried.

Why did he send you to Stackhouse’s apartment?” Eric demanded while he gave the arm another sharp tug when he felt the joint trying to move back into its socket, earning another scream of pain.

I don’t know,” Liam confessed, his voice pleading. “He just said to look around, not to leave anything disturbed. That was fucking hard with those fucking dogs-”


“Back on point!” Eric snarled, jerking his arm again.

I swear! Compton just wanted to know what her interests were, what she was reading, about her hobbies, what kind of music she listened to, the movies she watched. I don’t know why! I just did what he asked ’cause Malcolm wanted Bill indebted to us to earn favor with Sophie-Anne!” Liam explained in a rapid burst of speed.

Have Malcolm or Diane done any such surveillance on Stackhouse?” Eric demanded.

No, just me. Malcolm’s recovering from Hep-D and Diane… Well, you know how she doesn’t like following orders to a ‘T’.”

I am aware.”

I swear, once I smelled you in her apartment, I turned right the fuck around,” Liam promised.

Why did you return?”

Bill said the Stackhouse girl was acting different. He wanted me to scan her apartment again to see if anything changed. I waited a couple nights. I had to wait for her to take those fucking dogs out running. Stackhouse doesn’t follow a rigid schedule… I didn’t notice anything, really.” Eric jerked Liam’s arm again to once more prevent the injury from mending. Liam continued to choke, “So I waited a few more days figuring I’d watch her from the window or something, but by the time I got there, she was out. I couldn’t figure out why she had a life all of a sudden, but she was gone. I slipped in a window and first thing I smell is you, blood, and sex. I fucking bolted!”

Eric released Liam’s arm and leaned back against the edge of his desk. After reflecting on the younger vampire for a moment, Eric spoke, “You will avoid Miss Stackhouse. You will speak nothing of this meeting to your nest mates, nor Compton. If I discover you have divulged the topic of our meeting to anyone, I will end you. Understood?”

Yes, Sheriff,” Liam agreed gruffly.

You are dismissed.”

Liam rose at vampire speed and disappeared swiftly even as Eric watched. The Viking had to admit that between Malcolm, Diane, and Liam, he would have chosen Liam to break into Sookie’s house. Though Malcolm was the oldest at around 500, he was too theatrical and flamboyant. There would have been no way Malcolm could have left the apartment undisturbed. He would have been far too tempted to play. Diane, whose human adulthood and vampire infancy had merged in the late 1960’s, was filled with attitude and a startling lack of restraint. The only female member of the nest disliked focus being taken away from her and greatly detested other females. Finally, there was Liam who had joined the world of The Undead in the early 1980’s. He had taken to the lifestyle with great enthusiasm, but was a bit dim; however, he followed orders very well and had a healthy dose of respect for chain of command.

That begged the question of why he was hesitant to explain himself. Eric did not like that realization at all. If Liam felt he had to hide his actions from Eric on Bill’s command, Eric had to wonder from whom Bill was taking his orders. Of course that really was not a question. There were only two from whom Bill would take orders, Lorena, his Maker, whom Bill would try and detour every step of the way, or Sophie-Anne, the vampire Queen of Louisiana.

Sophie-Anne seemed to be the most likely individual pulling the strings. Eric tensed at the possibilities behind the Queen’s interest in Sookie. The most obvious reason would be Sookie’s telepathy. The vampire Queen had a habit of collecting humans for their gifts and flavors. Sookie would be a particularly impressive addition to Sophie-Anne’s collection.

Worse, Sophie-Anne could become as petulant as a small child would if she did not get what she wanted. This lead Eric to a growth in concern that, in the certain event of Compton’s failure, Sophie-Anne would contact Eric himself to obtain Sookie.

In the event that this might come to pass, Eric obviously knew exactly what would need to be accomplished. He would have to Bond with Sookie. This plan made the Viking fret over timing. With any luck, Sophie-Anne’s notorious impatience would stand firm giving Eric and Sookie the time to come to Bonding naturally. Although given Sookie’s history of having every difficult thing piled onto her shoulders all at once, Eric feared they would be forced to Bond by the end of the week.

As much as Eric wished to disembowel Compton and dance in his entrails, the ancient vampire knew that forewarning Liam was as close as he could get at this time. Sookie would not be at work for a week or two, and therefore would have no reason to run into Compton.

When Bill Compton had come to his bar nearly a month ago offering to become a false informant for the police, Eric had known immediately something was not to be trusted. Bill did not go out of his way to do favors, especially favors for Eric. Still, no matter his motives, the club owner was happy enough to have another deterrent between Fangtasia and local law enforcement, other than his own money.

It had genuinely surprised Eric to find that Sookie knew of Bill Compton. After all, the younger vampire was supposedly a confidential informant in the Vampire Crimes Division and Sookie worked human homicides. Sure, the Police Department was small, but Sookie usually worked eight to six, and Compton was only there for an occasional brief hour after dark.

Sighing to himself, Eric looked at his watch. Tuesdays were slow going, the bar patrons were scarce, and only those with rotating schedules or swing shifts bothered to darken his door. Tonight would be as good as any other night…

Going over to his desk, Eric punched the intercom, “Pam, send Long Shadow to my office.”

Yes, Master,” Pam replied silkily.

Long Shadow arrived at his office door seconds later, his lackluster copper skin seeming more pallid than normal. His typically smooth black hair looked as though he had hectically run his fingers through it several times in the short distance between the bar and Eric’s office.

Yes, Master?” Long Shadow asked tentatively.

Lock the door and have a seat,” Eric gestured to one of the comfortable leather chairs in front of his desk while he stood against the edge as he had with Liam.

Long Shadow did as he was told and sat rigidly in the offered chair. “Is something wrong?” he asked after a long silence.

Eric tilted his head back and forth in his faux-contemplative manner. “That depends, I suppose.”

On?”

Whether you were intending on returning to me all of the money that you have stolen over the past three months,” Somehow the Viking’s timbre was both cold and casual. Long Shadow’s chair groaned as he quickly tensed in his seat. “I was doing the books a few days ago per my accountant’s alarmed instruction. Nearly ten thousand dollars has been siphoned out of Fangtasia over three months, Long Shadow. Did you really think no one would notice?”

I didn’t-”

I would really dislike killing you,” Eric interrupted with a frown that lacked authenticity. “You would not put up enough of a challenge to make it worth the fine I would owe your Maker.”

I-I’ll pay it back!” Long Shadow pleaded.

How do you intend to do that?” Eric asked curiously. “Even if you offered to work for me for free, do you really believe I would want you working in my club any longer?”

I’ll get it back, I promise!”

Bracing his foot on the chair between Long Shadow’s legs, Eric leaned over the vampire. “I must make an example of what happens to those who would attempt to steal what belongs to me.”

Grinning, the Sheriff’s hand lashed out faster than a bolt of lightning and snatched Long Shadow’s forearm. With a modest flex of his strength, he ripped the right appendage from its joint, and in a sickening, shredding sound, sinew and snapping tendons sent cascades of blood splashing all over the office.

Long Shadow’s screams filled the room, but beneath the bone-chilling cry, Eric still heard the gasp from behind his door. Before he could fathom the proximity of FEAR behind that door, it was firmly kicked open and Sookie stormed in, off-duty firearm first. Her Fear turned to Confusion, and then Surprise, finally it settled on an emotion he could not so easily distinguish. He was intrigued by the lack of Terror or Disgust. If he was forced to make a guess, the flavor of her emotion could still be considered in the realm of confusion.

Suddenly, Long Shadow jumped from his chair and lunged for Sookie. His injury was calling for him to feed, to heal. Sookie, being the nearest source of blood, lured him for a feast.

Fuck!” Eric swore as he went to move, but Sookie’s gun, already raised, fired at the advancing vampire. “FUCK!” he shouted as the back of Long Shadow’s head exploded and the vampire dissolved into a puddle of blood and flesh.

Sookie instantly found her arms pulled above her head, gun taken, and body pinned against the wall. “What did you DO!” Pam shouted in her face while Sookie stared, wide-eyed, in front of her.

There was a scream,” Sookie replied breathlessly. “I kicked in the door. There was blood everywhere. The vampire… The bartender turned on me and charged. I fired.”

Master,” Pam’s eyes snapped to Eric, “you are uninjured?” she checked.

Fine,” Eric assured. “Give me her gun, Pam.” He held out his hand expectantly and Pam placed the firearm in his upturned palm. “Leave us.” After his office door was closed as well as it could have been with the latch strike now several feet away on the ground, Eric turned to Sookie. “I told you to call if you decided to come to Fangtasia,” He sat the woman down on the only piece of furniture not coated in blood, his own chair behind the desk.

I-I did,” Sookie stammered blankly. “Your cell went straight to voicemail. I left a message.”

Eric pushed a few papers from the table top onto the floor and leaned against the cleared space. He should have specified to call the club. He had silenced his phone for the meetings with Liam and Long Shadow. “Are you all right?” he asked.

Sookie sat stunned a moment longer before she asked, “Were my eyes playing tricks on me, or were you holding a dismembered arm in your hand when I burst in?”

You interrupted me while I was reprimanding a subordinate.”

By ripping off his arm!?” she asked in alarm.

It would have grown back within a decade or so,” he replied nonchalantly.

Sookie placed her head in her hands. “Did I do the wrong thing?” she whispered after a moment.

Eric sighed. “No,” Her body tightened at his word. “Though I might have restrained him before he had done any damage to you, he would have killed you. His injuries were severe enough that he was in need of blood to heal. However, none of that means you did the wrong thing. I much rather he be dead and I have to pay a fine rather than to see you injured. Admittedly, I was momentarily frozen by your sudden appearance. I had not been paying attention, and did not notice you were coming here. I was distracted when you arrived, trying to gauge your reaction to what you were seeing. I did not respond as quickly as I should have.”

That was probably a good thing. With how fast y’all move, I might have accidentally shot you instead of him.”

Out of curiosity, what the hell are you packing? I have rarely seen handguns blow the head of a vampire apart like that,” Eric commented.

Oh… 40 cal hollow points. I caught him in the mouth. I don’t know if his head would have blown apart like that if I had shot him between the eyes…” Sookie let out a long breath. “Six years without firing my gun outside the range, and now I’ve killed two people in less than a week.”

Eric sighed, stepping away from his desk. As he began stripping off his blood soaked clothing, Sookie’s eyes widened.

Wha- why- What are you doing!?” she shouted in confusion.

Eric laughed as he leaned over to untie his boots and drop his trousers. “Changing my clothes and rinsing off the blood.”

All of a sudden, just like that!?” Sookie reeled at his abrupt action.

You look as if you need to be held. I thought the gesture would only cause you more anxiety if I was still covered in blood,” he reasoned.

Sookie rolled her eyes before waving her hand in a gesture for him to continue. With a cheeky grin, Eric walked naked to an armoire and opened it to retrieve a fresh set of clothes along with a set of towels. He handed Sookie the clothes to keep clean before going to a pocket door and sliding it open to reveal a narrow shower built into the wall. Eric rinsed away the blood before toweling off and returning to Sookie for his change of clothing. Once he was dressed, Eric lifted Sookie from his chair, sat down, and curled her up in his lap.

I don’t think staying in this room is helping my nerves,” she confessed after a few moments of sitting in silence.

I have a room downstairs, but I doubt it will quell your nerves,” he admitted slowly.

Why?”

It is a sex room. Shackles, chains, whips… A bed big enough for eight.”

Have the sheets been washed since the last orgy?”

Of course.”

That’s fine. Anything to get away from the gore.”

Eric rose from the chair and carried Sookie to a set of doors behind his desk. He opened the one to the left and took her down a long staircase to the basement. She was blind in the darkness, clutching the front of his shirt as the smell of dampness sent goosebumps down her arms. The tension in her body made him pause.

Are you all right?”

S-sorry… This smell… It reminds me of the basement where the men and women from the sex trafficking case were kept. Their… Memories are coming back to me. Just talk to me. It will pass.”

Eric nodded though she could not see it. She felt his hair tickle her forehead with the action though. Soon she found herself sitting on a plush mattress, and then Eric was gone for a moment before a light clicked on and she could see throughout the sex room somewhat dimly.

So sexy,” she told him sarcastically.

If you were part of the Domination scene, you might think so,” Eric told her. “I can see how it is not to your taste though.” He came and sat next to her on the bed, and then pulled Sookie onto his lap. “Some get off on the atmosphere. The darkness and shadows amplify the experience of being dominated.”

Have you brought many people down here?” Sookie asked.

More than you would care to know,” he answered honestly.

What’s going to happen now?”

How do you mean?”

Well, vampires have their own laws. What’s going to happen now that I’ve killed your bartender?”

Eric sighed. “I will need to contact his Maker and explain why Long Shadow is dead.”

What will you tell him?”

The truth. I was seeking damages for the loss he caused me. When I was disciplining him, an off-duty officer heard his screams, crashed into my office, gun drawn. Long Shadow went to attack the officer, they shot and killed him.” Eric looked at her face and concentrated on the emotions swirling inside of her.

What does that mean for me?” she asked patiently.

Nothing. It was justified self-defense on your part, and your status in law enforcement gives you a pardon in our culture. We do not kill law enforcement for two reasons. One, if the death of an officer was connected with vampires, it would rain hell on us, and two, the close ties between the Were community and law enforcement could start a war between vampires and Weres.”


“So… That’s it?”


“I will be forced to pay a fine to Long Shadow’s Maker for the death of his progeny, but as I have told you, money is not something of that I am ever in short supply.”

I’ll pay you back,” she whispered meekly.

Sookie,” Eric looked at her with Zen-like patience, “you could not afford to pay me back.”

How much?” she asked, determination etched on her face.

Upward of 1.2 million.”

Sookie’s mouth dangled open. “A-are you serious?”

How do you put a price on a life, or an existence for that matter? 1.2 is just the minimal amount he could obtain. On the other hand, I could keep him from obtaining the cap because his Child was embezzling funds.”


“What’s the cap?”

1 billion.”

Oh My God!” She looked at him in alarm. “Do you even have that much money!?” she demanded.

Eric frowned, “Of course I do. Not in cash, of course, but I have the equity and investments.”

How much?”

How much am I worth?” he asked.

Yes.”

Eric shrugged. “It is constantly fluctuating, increasing.”

I think I might be sick.”

Money sickens you?”


“No, just…” Sookie put her head in her hands while she tried to wrap her mind around Eric’s wealth. “The idea of having so much money that you can’t even work out telling me a number…”

To be fair, it is not all my money. It is my Bloodlines’. Godric, Pam, Emily, and mine… Godric is my Maker and Emily is his Bonded Mate.”

Oh, where do they live?” Sookie tried to be nonchalant as to not give away her earlier conversation with Pam.

Dallas.”

What are they like?”

Godric is wise, strong, patient, caring, and kind. Emily is sweet, soft, loving, and devoted. They met in Chicago in 1892. Godric Bonded with her and turned her during the World’s Fair in 1893. I, personally, thought he lost his mind, but I have never known him to be happier. I understand what inspired him so, now that I have met you, that is.”

Sookie swallowed at his confession. “Don’t say that,” she whispered.

Eric tilted his head curiously. “Why not?”

Squirming under his gaze, she murmured, “I’ve spent my entire life barely living a day ahead… Two weeks ago my boss was saying I’d be the youngest lieutenant in Shreveport history, and all I could think was how that sort of thing doesn’t happen to me. Now I’m on administrative leave.”

You are exceptional at your job, Sookie. You should know that putting you on leave does not reflect your colleagues’ perception of your skill. They just want you to take time and return to one hundred percent. You are an exceptional investigator, but you are also young. I believe what they are doing is smart. There are times to push someone to see how much they can take, but there are also times to pull them away from pushing themselves.”

So what about you? Are you trying to push your feelings onto me to see how much of it I accept?” Sookie asked quietly.

Yes,” Sookie’s eyes snapped to his in surprise that he was so forthcoming. “Because I want you more than anything or anyone in my entire existence. I want you going to bed every night and waking up every morning knowing this. You are the only one in this relationship with any power simply because you are the only one with the power to end it…” Eric’s eyes shied away from her. “You have the power to destroy my entire world by just saying ‘goodbye’ and never again saying ‘hello’.”

Heart pounding in her chest, Sookie tried to play off the swell of emotions within her by staring intently at her fingernails. It was all for naught, however. She knew that Eric could feel her emotions. Feel how terrified, how exhilarated she was.

Are you certain?” Sookie asked quietly.

Of?”

Me.”

I have never been more certain of what I want.”

Then Bond to me. Turn me into a vampire. Be my Happy Never Ending.”

Eric’s eyes softened at her request. “It is never ending, Sookie, but-”

Don’t say ‘but’,” she protested.

Eric shook his head sadly. “I will long for you to request this of me again, but not tonight.”

At least give me something,” Sookie pleaded.

Anything, just not Bonding, not yet. Not immortality… Not yet. You are too hurt right now. There are too many things scaring you, driving you to act out of impulse.”

Sookie wracked her brain for anything to make her feel as though he were speaking the truth. “Make the second mutual exchange with me.”

Eric’s heart ached at her request. “You cannot even say you love me yet,” When her mouth opened, he silenced her with a gentle hand over her lips. “Please, do not ruin what should be the happiest moment of my existence by uttering words I can feel are not yet true.”

Can you say it?” Sookie asked, muffled by his hand.

I could, but I will not,” He leaned his forehead against hers, closing his eyes as though he was exhausted. “I will say them when you are able, and when you can mean them. So do not hold them back in fear of rejection, Sookie. Speak them with your heart and soul and I will do the same.”

Slowly, Eric reclined on the bed and curled Sookie against his body. He stroked her hair soothingly until she relaxed in his arms.

After a long silence, Sookie squirmed against him until she could look up at Eric’s face. Quietly, she asked, “What does this feel like for you?”

Holding you?” he asked, confused.

Sookie giggled. “No… The way you feel for me, what’s it like?”

Eric thought for a long while. Finally, when he spoke, his words were pensive. “Mostly, it is contentment. There are many new fears as well, fears I am not used to experiencing. I worry about you so much. I am unaccustomed to worrying about humans. Suddenly I am concerned about injuries that would be nothing to a vampire, illness, and accidents. It is a good thing that I am completely unaware during the day while you are at work. I would probably call you incessantly with how much anxiety it would cause me knowing you were getting beaten or shot,” He glanced down at her teasingly, breaking his previously-glazed expression before continuing, “You are difficult not to think about as well. My thoughts are drawn to you at rather inconvenient times, when I should be performing my duties as Sheriff, or looking over the bloodlines’ finances. Everything feels new, even things I have done too many times to designate a number.”

When he paused for a long enough time, Sookie asked, “So it’s all contentment, fear, and the newness?”

Eric laughed. “No, it is very much more than that. There are things I feel that I do not know names for defining. They are such complex blends of several emotions. I am excited, happy, amused, playful, and impatient to see you… These are all of the things I feel when I think of you or have you in my arms.” Snuggling into his side, Sookie murmured a sound of agreement. “Is that how you feel about me, Sookie?” he asked softly.

I don’t know,” she smirked into his chest, “do I?”

I am not a mind reader like you. I do not know what inspires your mercurial emotions.”

You. It’s all you. The only emotion you’ve never made me feel was sad. The only negative emotion you’ve inspired is fear,” she confessed softly. “Still, I’ve never been scared of you. I’m scared of what you make me feel. I’m scared of how connected to you I am, how dependent on you I feel. Whether I have a good or bad day, you’re the first person I want to tell about it. Every day I got off of work last week, I couldn’t wait to get to my car and call you. Twenty minutes, I couldn’t wait twenty minutes to drive home just to talk to you.” Her finger traced his chest, both of their eyes tracking its movements. “That scares me.”

You are scared to want things,” he did not ask because he had known the answer to that for as long as he had known her.

Terrified,” she sheepishly agreed.

What if we started simply?” he suggested.

Hmm?”

Tell me something you want… Not something I have promised to give you in the future,” he qualified with narrowed eyes. “Something I can give you right now.”

Sookie looked up at him and smirked. She wracked her brain for something to throw him off balance. Her smirk transformed into a mischievous grin. “Your house.”

Eric’s eyebrows lifted with surprise. “Excuse me?”

Give me your house,” Sookie repeated, the humor in her eyes at war with the sternness on her face.

That is not exactly something I can give you in this very moment,” he told her with a frown making Sookie grin triumphantly. “I will need to file a quit-claim deed and transfer the title to your name. That will take a few days to process.” Sookie’s eyes quickly widened in alarm as he began to explain real estate to her. “It would be faster to add your name to the title than to transfer full ownership. You could take possession of it tonight, but may I ask to stay tomorrow rather than being forced into one of my safe houses?”

You’d just… Give me your house. Just like that?” Sookie asked in disbelief.

If it is what you want,” he answered with a nod.

Eric, it was a joke!” she almost shouted.

Oh,” his eyes twinkled with mirth, “then I do not need to vacate the premises immediately?”

Oh My God, Eric!” Sookie swatted his chest in irritation, causing the vampire to roll on top of her to stop the assault. “You are impossible,” she accused.

Am I?” he asked playfully, kissing her pouting lower lip. “Forgive me?” When she pouted harder, Eric laughed and kissed her lips again, lingering longer this time.

Wrapping her arms around his neck, Sookie spread her knees to cradle his hips between them. Hugging him to her body, she murmured in his ear, “Always.”

You still have not told me what I can give you,” he rumbled in her ear.

Shyly, she looked at him from between her eyelashes and whispered, “You could kiss me…” Leaning in to lower his lips back to hers, Eric frowned when she turned her mouth from his. When he looked at her curiously, she blushed. “Not there,” She arched her hips against his abdomen and said, “Here.”

I see,” Eric chuckled. “You want me to eat your pussy?” She nodded eagerly. “Do you wish to sit on my face again?”

Her eyes lit up. “Yes, please!”

As Eric removed himself from her embrace and began throwing pillows on the floor she made a noise of protest. “What is it, Lover?”

Can we do the thing where I put my mouth on you too?”

69?” he asked.

Oh,” she laughed. “Duh! That makes sense.”

Did you really not know what that was?”

Sookie shrugged. “Most people don’t think the name and visualize the act simultaneously. I know what a lot of stuff looks like, I just don’t know what it’s called. I also know many names for things, but don’t know what they look like. Sex is one of those things that splits up thoughts. Fantasies are visual without words.”

It is still surprising,” he insisted.

I’m sure it is, but my coworkers don’t do ‘locker room talk’ around me, and I diligently block sexual images as quickly as they pop into someone’s thoughts unless it’s critical to a case.”

Why?”

Sookie made a face. “Because it was raunchy and nasty. Not to mention, the people whose thoughts introduced me to sex were my uncle and my brother, neither of which were conducive toward developing healthy sexual curiosity.”

Did your brother’s thoughts of sex scare you?”

Grossed me out was more like it, and…” She let out an annoyed sound, “now I have lost all interest in doing sexy stuff. Damn it, Eric!” She slapped his chest with a loud ‘THWACK’. “Why do you always start your ‘Twenty Questions’ game when I want to do sex stuff? It’s a real buzz kill sometimes!”

Eric chuckled at her attitude. “I apologize. What if you go to the bar and have a couple gin and tonics? I will finish up my work, and then we will go back to the house. Maybe by then you will be ready to wriggle on my face again?” he suggested.

Sounds as good a plan as any,” she sighed reluctantly, rising from the bed. “I’ll be at the bar if you need me.” She was walking up the stairs while she told him this.

Please do not shoot any more of my subordinates!” he called after her.

NO PROMISES!” she called back, halfway up the stairs.

On to Chapter Eleven

Never End Ch. 09

Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine: Stay

Sookie,” Eric’s voice murmured in her ear, “time to get up.”

Sookie groaned at the voice and tried to swat away the tickling breath of his rumble against her ear. “Don’t wanna,” she grumbled.

You wanted to run with the girls before work this morning,” he reminded amusedly.

Pouting, Sookie rolled onto her side with less pain than the previous day. “What… Where… Oh crap! It’s Monday! I spent the night again! Oh no, Mags, Junes-”

Are here,” he reminded softly. “I went and got them around 1 A.M.”

I don’t remember.”

You were crying quite persistently last night. You cried yourself to sleep around eight, I woke you up to eat something. We talked some more. You cried some more. You fell asleep again around midnight, and I held you for a while before going back to your apartment and getting your dogs and some clothes for you. They slept in here with you while I did some work. I kicked them out as dawn drew closer, though.”

I don’t remember much of any of that,” she admitted, trying to to recall shreds of the previous night.

You were quite distraught. During one of your breakdowns, you kept asking ‘why’, a lot of ‘it’s not fair’ comments, and many ‘what do I do’s.”

Sookie played with the duvet self-consciously as Eric relayed information on the previous night. “Thanks for taking care of me.”

Eric pushed a tendril of hair from her face. “I will always take care of you,” he promised.

How are you still conscious?” she asked abruptly after a long silence.

I am quite old, Sookie. I can remain aware several hours past dawn. However, you expressed, sleepily, last night that you wanted to go running with your dogs before work, so I thought I should raise you at dawn so you could do that if you still wished.”

I think a run would be good for all three of us,” she agreed.

Well, remember your keys, and do not get lost,” he suggested. “I will have to succumb to the sun soon,” he warned.

Okay. Sleep or… whatever it is you do. Do it well.” She leaned in and kissed his smiling lips. “I’ll come back tonight,” she promised.

Perhaps you should swing by your apartment and get some more clothes. You may hang them in my closet. There is no need to live out of a duffle bag,” he pointed out.

I’ll do that.” Sookie paused before getting out of bed. Blanching at him in an apologetic manner she asked, “You didn’t happen to grab some sweats when you grabbed my work clothes, did you?”

It just so happens that I did,” Eric replied with a smirk.

Giving him another quick kiss, she murmured, “You’re the best boyfriend,” before hopping out of bed.

You are certainly spry for a woman so battered.”


Sookie shrugged off his observation. “After the first day, you get used to the pain. I can lie on my sides just fine now. Lying on my back isn’t too bad, just so long as I don’t sleep like that. Obviously, pressure on the bruises hurts, but it doesn’t take my breath away anymore… Well, I guess it would if you intentionally pressed directly on one of them, but I know you wouldn’t do that.”

I would not,” he agreed.

Going over to her duffle, Sookie found the sweats that Eric had packed, and quickly threw on a sports bra and t-shirt before tugging the pants on. Lacing up her running shoes, Sookie turned back to the bed and lunged towards the reclined vampire one last time, kissing his mouth slow and languidly. “I’ll see you tonight,” she murmured against his mouth.

Tonight,” he agreed.

{†}

How are you doing, Stackhouse?” Captain Kleinman asked carefully as Sookie arrived at her desk.

Giving him a sad smile, she replied, “I could definitely be better… I uh… I guess I should let you know that I’ll need some time off in the near future.” Her Captain frowned, deep lines of worry etching into his brow. “My Gran was diagnosed with liver cancer. She told me yesterday, and… It’s already pretty far along. The Doc told her she might have a couple months left, but it could be less….”

Her captain’s face seemed to reflect the breaking of Sookie’s own heart. “I am so sorry, Stackhouse,” he tried to pat her back sympathetically, but he paused, not quite certain where her injuries were. “Just let me know when you need time. If you want to take some time off now and spend it with your grandmother, everyone would understand.”

No… I’m not really ready to do that,” she whispered quietly. It would feel too real for her to start spending time saying goodbye. “Maybe after the news isn’t so… Fresh.”

She’s the one who raised you and your brother after your parents passed, right?” Kleinman asked gently.

Sookie responded with a slow nod, resisting the urge to wrap her arms around herself in a faux hug. She could not bear to show that much weakness after yesterday. “That’s right.”

The captain hesitantly patted her shoulder, wanting to show her comfort, but knowing that Stackhouse did not like being touched, and he still could not quite remember where all her injuries were. “I’m sorry that you’re going to experience the loss of a parent for a third time,” he murmured.

Sookie shrugged, grateful when Kleinman took his hand from her shoulder. “I guess there are some things I’m not meant to have for very long.”

With a heavy exhale, Kleinman looked at Sookie’s desk, “Well, I guess I made you feel awkward enough for one morning. Get to work on your incident report from Saturday, and I set up an appointment for you with the shrink.” Sookie groaned, making Kleinman give her a ghost of a grin. “1:30. Don’t be late.”

Sitting down at her desk, Sookie booted up her computer, and started stacking her files related to the Jacobs case while she waited for the monitor to compile. Once she had her office document opened, Sookie went to work finishing her incident report, as well as writing the remainder of her case file on the entire Jacobs fiasco.

It was barely noon when Sookie finished her papers, and she eyed the clock warily, not looking forward to her one-thirty appointment with Dr. Silva, the department psychologist. Reaching for her phone, she called the hospital, requesting to speak with Marla Jacobs.

Hello, Marla, it’s Detective Stackhouse,” Sookie tried to say brightly.

Detective! I’m so happy to hear from you! The officer that’s been watching my door told me what happened the other day. Are you all right? I heard Daniel hit you, but the officer showed me pictures of what you did back to him. I laughed! I can’t believe it, but I fucking laughed! And you killed his girlfriend-” Sookie blanched at the blatant remark, “-and now I won’t even have to worry about her coming after me! You are an angel! A fucking angel!”

I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better, Marla. I just wanted to check in, and make certain that you knew you weren’t in danger anymore-”

All thanks to you, Detective!”

Well,” Sookie wanted to cut the conversation short, “I have paperwork to finish up. Take good care of yourself.”

Sookie hung up the phone quickly after that and stared in bewilderment. “And you killed his girlfriend-”

A cold shiver ran down her spine, and Sookie snapped back from her desk. She needed to be moving, she needed to work out. Anything to warm her body back up.

Hey, Stackhouse,” Trent stopped the woman on her way out of the department.

Hey, Trent,” Sookie replied, heading towards the station’s gym.

Gym?”

Yup,” she nodded.

Company?”

Sure.”

Trent turned around and followed her towards the workout room, splitting up to go their own locker rooms. When Sookie emerged moments later, hair pulled up, tank top and loose shorts replacing her button down and slacks, Trent looked her over.

Shit, that’s some impressive bruising,” he commented when she walked in front of him, exposing the purple and black discoloration that was creeping up her left shoulder blade.

It doesn’t hurt too bad now,” she assured.

One of the veteran officers said you get used to it after a bit. They still hurt, but you just stop noticing the pain.”

That’s about the best I could describe it,” she agreed.

Oh, one of my buddies in the Sheriff’s Department called and told me they started investigating Saturday’s shooting this morning. He assured me it’s pretty cut and dry. You should be cleared by next Monday.”

That’s good to know,” Sookie murmured.

You doing okay?” Trent asked softly as he went to the free weights. Sookie followed him, stretching as he dove right into his workout.

I’m dealing with it. I’d much rather her be dead and me alive than the other way around.” Her tone told Trent to drop the conversation, and he quickly obliged.

They exercised in relative silence until Sookie had a half hour to shower, change back into her office clothes, and get to the department shrink.

She took her time in the shower, and then fussed uncharacteristically over her hair, taking her time to dry it when she would normally throw it into a tight, wet bun. Arriving in front of Dr. Silva’s office door, Sookie paused briefly before knocking.

Dr. Silva answered as though he had been waiting on the other side, hand poised over the handle, waiting for her knock.

He was in his mid-forties. His brown hair was flecked with gray that graduated to solid silver chunks near his sideburns. His eyes were a dull brown, and his mouth wore a seemingly permanent scowl.

Detective Stackhouse,” he attempted to give her a smile that made the lines in his face protest the unfamiliar movement, “come in and have a seat.” He gestured loosely to the leather chair and couch. Sookie sat in the chair while Silva sat behind his desk. “How are you feeling?”

Tired. Workouts make too much blood flow to my injuries,” she admitted sheepishly.

And how are you feeling emotionally?” Silva asked.

Drained,” Sookie wanted to be forthcoming and get through the interview. “On top of killing a teenage girl on Saturday, I just found out my Gran has terminal cancer.”

I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve read in your file that your grandmother raised you from the age of seven. Is that correct?” he asked, his voice sympathetic.

Yeah. She raised me and my brother after our parents were killed in a flash flood,” Sookie told him.

Your brother was under arrest last week, as well,” Silva commented. “How does that affect you? Having all of these hardships thrust on you all at once?”

Sookie thought for a moment. “Well, my brother’s always in some sort of trouble. It was stressful not being able to help him, but I took it in stride. As far as all of this… Well, my boyfriend definitely got to see me at some of my worst over the weekend.”

This is not the Detective Stackhouse I expected. She’s usually so guarded. Why isn’t she fighting this? Where is her sarcasm? Where are all of her walls?

You have a boyfriend now?” Silva asked conversationally.

Sookie nodded. “Yeah, we started dating a few days ago, but we’ve known each other about two weeks now.”

How long ago was your last relationship?” Silva asked.

Sookie squirmed.

There are those walls!

Er… You won’t put my answer in the file, will you?”

What a strange question.

No, this is just me feeling you out. Your romantic life has no business in this report. I am just trying to understand where you are mentally,” Silva assured her.

Sookie bit her lip self-consciously. “Well… This is my first relationship… Ever… Of any kind.”

The Detective had to give Silva credit. Despite the disbelief running through his head, his face remained perfectly composed. Ever!? Of any kind? Is she a virgin, too? Wait, everyone’s been talking that she finally ‘got some’… Hmm, she slept with him after only two weeks of knowing him?

Are you in a potentially long term relationship with your boyfriend?” Silva asked.

We’re hoping so. Eric has told me he wants us to be long term. Currently, that’s what I want, too. He knows I have no idea how to have a relationship, and he’s trying to make it as easy on me as possible. He makes me happy.”

Were you unhappy before him?”

No. I don’t think I was much of anything before him. I had little that I wanted. My job, my family and my dogs were all I cared about. To be frank, I think I’d be a lot worse off emotionally after all of this if Eric weren’t in my life.”

How does that bode with your independent streak?” Silva asked.

Brow furrowing as she considered the question, Sookie admitted, “I don’t know that ‘independent’ is the word I would use to describe myself. I mean, I obviously am. I pay my own way for everything I have, but the way you’re using that word doesn’t have the same context as opposed to the definition.”

Silva’s confusion showed on his face, “How do you believe I meant it?”

Before Eric, I was independent in the truest form of the word, not just because I believe in being able to take care of myself, but because I was extremely isolated. I kept people at a distance, not because I was an introvert, but because trusting someone, letting someone in was terrifying. Giving someone the power to hurt me, to abandon me…”

Would you say you have abandonment issues?” Silva asked gently.

There’s no way to deny it. I’ve run away from people my whole adult life.”

Where do you think those fears came from?”

You’ve read my personal file,” Sookie pointed out. “My parents both died when I was seven. My cousin, who was like a sister to me, ran away when I was eleven. My aunt committed suicide when I was fourteen. My best friend washed her hands of me when I became a cop. My own home town calls me a freak for my hyper-observation. My brother doesn’t talk to me anymore because I didn’t get him out of a DUI… Now my Gran, who has been the only one to stand with me, is going to die in a matter of months.”

Are you concerned that you might be forcing your new boyfriend to fill all of the roles you’ve lost over the years?”

Like a surrogate?” Sookie asked.

Yes.”

She shook her head. “In a way, I think he takes on roles that he feels I need him to. He knows that I’m cautious, distrusting even. He’s patient and tries to protect me from things he thinks I’m not aware of.”

Such as?”

How painful being a cop can be. He thinks I don’t know how stressed I really am.”

How stressed are you?”

Depends on the day… He may or may not realize that he’s overreacting. That, despite my hyper-observation, I’m not much more worse for wear than anyone else.”

Are you certain of that?”

It hasn’t broken me yet,” she answered candidly.

It’s not the same thing,” he protested calmly.

Maybe not, but being a cop is all I’ve ever wanted.”

Do you want more now?”

Sookie smiled her secret smile. “Yes… I really think I do.”

Well,” Silva rose from behind his desk, “I think that is a good place to stop for the day.”

Sookie froze in her chair. “You’re not giving me an all clear,” she accused.

Silva smiled at her sympathetically, “No, I’m not.”


“Why?”

Because I truly don’t feel that you’re ready.” He sat down on the couch nearer her. “I would actually like to suggest that you take some time off. I want to recommend to your captain that we put you on paid administrative leave during the Shooting Team and Sheriff departments’ investigation.”

What am I suppose to do for a week?”

Or two,” Silva wanted to make the possibility known. Sookie’s heart dropped into her stomach. “Perhaps you can spend time with your new boyfriend? Your grandmother? Do not think of this as a punishment. Think of it as a mental wellness vacation.”

What did I do wrong?” she asked desperately.

Absolutely nothing. That’s the problem. “Nothing, Sookie. I’m just concerned that you’ve reached this level of acceptance so quickly. I’ve known for a while that this job effects you a lot more than you let on.”

You’ve never even spoken to me before,” she grumbled defensively.

I’ve watched your interviews with IA.”

Sookie was well aware that Internal Affairs avidly watched her interrogations. At first, they believed she knew far too much information from observation alone, and were suspicious that she had actually been involved with similar crimes.

So, you see,” Silva continued, “I do know a little bit about you.”

Then, it’s either administrative leave or..?”

There really isn’t an ‘or’.” Silva refused to let up.

It really feels like a punishment,” Sookie whispered.

I’m sure it does. I do regret that it feels this way to you.”

What do I do now?”

Silva frowned, “I would suggest you finish up anything you do not believe can wait for your return. I will get the paperwork for your leave through the proper channels, and Captain Kleinman will call you to his office at the end of the day to hold your badge and service ID until the investigation is over.”

That’s it, then?”

Yes. I will call you in after a few days, and we will have another meeting like this one. I want you to know, though, despite how the meeting goes, it will not get you back to work any sooner,” he warned. “It is just a check-in.”

Right,” Sookie mumbled, rising from her seat. “See ya in a few days.” She waved half-heartedly and left the room.

Going back to her desk, Sookie sat motionless for a while, staring at her blank screen and the clutter of files strewn across the table. Eventually she went through the robotic actions of clearing her desk and finishing her reports. By the end of the day she was clicking her pen anxiously and earning glares from Murphy for the obnoxious expression of nervous energy.

Finally, Captain Kleinman called her to his office, and Sookie let out a suffering sigh.

I know you already know what’s going on,” Kleinman grumbled. “I was hoping Silva wouldn’t take this route with you, but he’s the shrink, and I’m going to trust his judgement.”

I know you’re worried about me,” Sookie murmured. “You’ve always had my back.”

Kleinman smiled. “Always will.”

I’m not going to pitch a fit, you know. You can just give me the papers to sign. I hand over my badge and I.D… Let’s not draw this out.”

Kleinman sighed as he pushed the paperwork towards her. She read through it quickly and then signed her name at the bottom. Next, she took out her wallet, removed her badge and I.D, and handed them over to her captain.

I’m gonna call and check up on you,” Kleinman warned. “You take care of yourself.”

Yes, Sir.” Sookie gave him a weak smile, turned, and left his office.

After grabbing anything she would need from her desk, throwing it into her duffle, and retrieving her necessities from her gym locker, Sookie finally went to her car. She drove to her apartment without calling Eric. She knew he would be thrilled to hear that she had been put on administrative leave, and she was unsure if her temper could handle his smugness.

Instead, she arrived at her building, went up the three flights of stairs to her apartment, and began packing several days worth of clothes as well as more dog food. When she was certain she had everything she needed, Sookie went back to her car and stopped at a grocery store. She was tired of eating out every meal when she stayed at his place.

Fancy meeting you here, Detective Stackhouse.” Sookie’s spine straightened at the voice behind her as she strolled down the wine and beer aisle of the market.

Ms. Ravenscroft,” Sookie answered, turning as well. “I was not aware that you were a Connoisseur.” She gestured to the aisle.

I do not drink… Wine,” Pam replied in her best Bela Lugosi impersonation. At Sookie’s amused smirk, she offered, “I have a guest. Since she intends to offer me a beverage, I was inclined to return the favor.”

Sookie nodded. “I see.”

And you?”

Shyly, Sookie shuffled her foot. “There’s no food at Eric’s place.”

I would suppose not.” Pam eyed the human before her momentarily. “You realize, Eric will be at Fangtasia tonight, yes?”

Oh,” Sookie scuffed her toe against the cheap tile, “I didn’t know that.”

He has been neglecting his duties as Sheriff these past few evenings. There has been talk,” Pam offered.

I’m sorry that I’ve distracted him.”

Pam shrugged. “Do not be. Though I can’t comprehend what it is you’ve done to him, I have seen such a thing before.”

Have you?” Sookie asked quietly, sounding almost nervous. Had Eric been this way with another woman before? How long ago had that been? He had said he had tried monogamy before, and she wondered how deeply he had cared for the last woman for whom he had attempted it.

Yes, with his Maker.”

Sookie looked up at Pam in surprise. “His Maker?”


“Godric,” Pam supplied a name.

What happened to Godric?” Sookie pressed, wondering if this was the last one-on-one relationship Eric had been in.

Pam lifted her shoulders, her hands rising as if to say ‘things like these do happen’, “He fell in love. You know, for nearly one thousand years, Eric was his only progeny. Then, suddenly, around the time of the World’s Fair, Godric summoned us to Chicago. He had met a woman there. Her name is-”

Is?” Sookie frowned. How old is this woman?

Pam huffed in annoyance at being interrupted. “I’m getting to that!” she snapped. “Her name is Emily. Absolutely gorgeous girl. A little younger than I’d prefer, but she fits Godric’s age range well enough. I think Godric has a type. Blonde hair, blue eyes.” Pam rolled her eyes. “Then again, I suppose it is the type of Godric’s bloodline.” She gestured to her own face and then Sookie’s. “Eric and I could not believe how suddenly Godric had changed. He had gone from melancholy and distant to vibrant and exuberant in a matter of weeks, according to Eric. He was sharing his emotions with Eric more frequently.”

And Emily?”

Godric Bonded to her by the time he summoned us to Chicago. He wanted to change Emily, and the timing was perfect. Holmes was disappearing women all over the city, and Emily would vanish nicely as well.”

Oh, I didn’t realize you needed your bloodline present to make new vampires,” Sookie tried to reconcile this.

Pam snorted, “It is not a requirement. Merely a protective measure. When bringing over a Bonded Mate, the Master usually calls his own Maker or exceptional Child to bury him and his mate. Sometimes, like with Emily, the Master will command that the Child stay until he and his Mate have risen.”

Did Emily know what Godric was? What he was going to turn her in to?”

Yes, he made absolutely sure that she understood everything before they Bonded. Emily was quick to agree to becoming a vampire, especially after they were Bonded.”

What’s Emily like?” Sookie asked.

Contemplating a moment, Pam replied, “Sweet, for a vampire. I thought she was a bit dim when I first met her, but she’s actually quite intelligent. More so now than she was then. Bonded Mates have a tendency to be much more… Innocent, I suppose is the word. They are also much more cautious in their youth than the rest of us.”

Why, do you think?”

They never know the loneliness of becoming a creature of the night. They are Bonded, and therefore, never alone. They are almost obsessively cautious, even from their first rising because they can feel their Mate, and it makes them careful to take care of themselves to protect their Mate,” Pam explained. “It is a rare thing, you know.”

What is?”

Finding the human you wish to Bond with.” Pam flipped her hair over her shoulder, her look pensive. “Mostly because vampires do not feel the compulsion until they reach the status of ‘Ancient’. Of course, Eric would be the youngest Bonded vampire in our history if you accepted him. He always needs to show up everyone else.” She rolled her eyes.

Is that it, then?” Sookie asked quietly, plucking a random bottle of wine from the shelf just to have something else to look at. “He’s with me to break a vampire record?”

Pam let out a sigh of exasperation. “You are certainly one blind detective,” she scowled. “My comment was meant to point out that Eric is young to have the desire to Bond. You have influenced the motivation to do so. He has fucked plenty of damaged, pretty women like yourself, but did not fall in love with them!”

Sookie’s hands fumbled the wine bottle, and Pam quickly snatched the glass container from midair before it struck the ground. “H-he loves me?” she asked breathlessly.

Pam’s shoulder’s stiffened. “You know, that insecurity of yours gets more information out of Eric and I than your gift has ever gotten out of a human.” Eyeing the woman appraisingly, she asked, “You won’t tell him I told you, right?”

Told me what?” Sookie asked distantly, considering all of the implications behind Pam’s reveal.

Good girl,” Pam praised. “Now,” she handed the wine bottle back to Sookie, “finish your shopping. I can feel that Eric is frustrated that you have not returned to him.”

W-wait!” Sookie called to the vampiress who was strolling away. When Pam turned around, the detective blurted, “When was the last time he tried being in a committed relationship?”

Pam snorted at the question. “Committed? Eric?” she actually laughed. “Ms. Stackhouse, the last time Eric promised to be with one woman and one woman alone, the arrangement lasted two nights. That was his idea of monogamy. Eric has not fucked a single woman since the night you first came into his club. That is how I know this is different.”

Nodding numbly, Sookie continued her shopping rather mechanically, grabbing random items and checking out. Her entire drive to Eric’s house, she was lost in deep thought.

Eric met her at her car door, opening it and looking down at Sookie expectantly. “I feared you would not arrive before I had to leave for Fangtasia.”

Oh, sorry,” Sookie mumbled, grabbing her bag of clothes from the passenger’s seat before getting out of the car. She went around to the trunk and grabbed the few bags of food she managed to make herself buy. “I went to the grocery store so I wouldn’t have to keep going out for food,” she explained as Eric took the bags from her to carry inside.

Ah, yes, that makes sense,” Eric replied casually. “Is there something else on your mind other than groceries?”

Sookie bit her lip as they walked into the house. Mags and Junes whined at their feet as Eric went to set her purchases on the kitchen counter.

Sookie?”

I’ve been put on administrative leave until the shooting investigation is over.”

Eric stood, surprised and staring at her.

I… Had a bad session with the psychologist,” she told him.

What did he say?”

That I should take time to myself to… Come to terms with everything going on in my life. He said my level of acceptance over what happened is a bit too good, and it concerns him that it won’t last.”

He expects you to snap?” Eric asked worriedly.

Shaking her head, Sookie explained, “He’s concerned that I might not have actually processed anything yet. He believes that I am just saying all the right things to get back on field duty faster.”

Are you?”

I don’t think so, but my head’s a whirlwind of chaos right now… I don’t know that he’s wrong,” she admitted.

What did he suggest?”

Spending time with you and Gran… She wants to meet you by the way.”

What have you told her about me?” Eric asked guardedly.

She knows you’re a vampire. She doesn’t mind,” Sookie informed him.

Is that so?”

Sookie nodded, “I think she’s happy that I’m finally in a relationship.” Her head bowed as she said, “Especially now.”

Do you want to come with me to Fangtasia?” Eric asked quietly.

No,” Sookie declined gently. “I think I’ll stay here with the girls, go for a run, and eat some dinner.”

Eric paused a moment, sizing her up. “When do you go back to work?”

A week or two, depending on how long the investigation goes on, and when Dr. Silva gives me ‘the all clear’.”

Contemplating a moment, he asked, “May I ask you to take some of my blood? You will not have any coworkers to explain things to…”

I’ll think about it.”

Eric sighed, “That will have to do. I must get going.” He leaned in and kissed her lips gently. “Call me if you change your mind and want to come to the club.”

I will.”

Eric drew her into his arms, embracing her firmly before kissing the side of her head and leaving for Fangtasia. As he pulled his Corvette out of the garage, he considered the up and coming meetings he had that evening.

On to Chapter Ten

Never End Ch. 08

Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight: All to Myself

Sookie avoided crouching down to eye level with her dogs once they arrived at Eric’s house. Her face was sore and tender so an abrasive tongue was not exactly appealing.

Hey, my girls,” Sookie spoke in a baby voice to her dogs as she leaned down to scratch, pet, and rub them both. The dogs circled several times whining at her in distress. “Have they been fed or walked?”

Eric grimaced. “I admit my worry over you had me running out the door immediately at first dark.”

Sookie blanched. “Poor babies,” she crooned to her dogs as she headed to the kitchen to put food in their travel bowls. The dogs greedily gobbled up their meals, and then whined some more while Sookie walked them to the back door.

Opening the threshold to the night air, Sookie let Eric usher her outside when the dogs tore off into the darkness. She felt his body sidle up behind hers, his arms wrapping loosely around her sides while his hips jutted forward to press against her rear. As he leaned his head toward her shoulder to nibble and suck he kept his chest curled away from Sookie’s back to avoid her injuries.

Sookie moaned when Eric lightly clamped his teeth into the muscle between her neck and shoulder. “That feels so good,” she whispered.

Does it?” he asked in amused curiosity, his hands coming to her breasts and gripping them through her bra and shirt. “How does that feel?”

Better!” she gasped when he aggressively yanked off the front of her shirt along with her bra until her breasts spilled forth just as they had in the bar’s bathroom. Crossing his arms around her chest his palms held the weight of her bosom while his fingertips twisted and plucked once more at her nipples. “So good,” she whimpered, wriggling her bottom against him. Her hands came up to hold his wrists as she settled her head over his shoulder.

When her hips found a steady rhythm Eric released her beautiful curves and trailed his hands sinuously down the front of her body until he was undoing her slacks. The inside of her panties were coated with the fluids he had left inside of her earlier that evening and the aroma perfumed the air causing Eric to press his erection harder against her ass while he let out a deep groan.

You smell so good,” he rasped in her ear rocking his bulge between the crease of her lower cheeks. His hand slipped beneath her panties and Eric felt her legs shift to widen her stance making his access easier.

Yes, please,” she breathed quietly when his fingers ghosted over her entrance.

Is this what you want?” Eric asked quietly, his middle finger dipping into her hole while she nodded frantically. “Look at that, you take my finger so easily now!” He rained kisses along her shoulder as his ring finger joined the middle. “Two, nicely,” He bit her shoulder as he attempted to coax his index finger inside of her. “Yet still so resistant for the third,” Rocking his hand soothingly, his third finger finally managed to creep inside of her and Sookie rumbled deeply in her throat.

Eric,” she whimpered pleadingly as her hips moved in time with the thrusts of his fingers.

The need in her voice would have been obvious to a deaf man as his left hand slid over her clit and his right hand continued to thrust its fingers within her.

Oh! Oh G— ERIC!” Her body tensed violently, curling over itself as Sookie struggled for completion. Eric struggled as well resisting the urge to tell her she could have anything and everything she wanted. He maintained his actions and speed as the woman in his arms writhed and strived under his efforts. “Please, oh please, please, please,” she chanted beseechingly. He could feel her walls clenching around his digits, but they had not achieved the staccato of orgasm. He nibbled, thrust, rubbed, and licked her for several minutes, but to no avail. Sookie valiantly resisted her orgasm. “Eric, I can’t!” she cried. “Eric, please. Please, tell me I can cum,” she begged as she violently shook in his arms. He could feel the strain of her breath; feel her body trembling from near completion and exhaustion.

Reducing his pace, Eric let her body calm enough that she could catch her breath, but continued stimulating her.

Girls,” Eric called to the wayward dogs, “inside.” As the dogs ran into the house, Eric removed his hands from Sookie’s panties, turned her around, lifted her by her bottom, and carried her inside. “I can see this is going to take some time. Maybe you should be in a more relaxed position?” he suggested conversationally while Sookie trembled against his chest. Her eyes were dilated and glossy with yearning as she stared up at him in desperation.

Once they were standing in his bedroom, Eric made quick work of disrobing Sookie entirely rather than letting her remain in her shambled clothing. “Much better,” he crowed when she stood naked before him. He reached up the bed, grabbing three of the pillows, and threw them on the floor at the foot of the bed.

Sookie looked at him curiously as he lay down with his head on one pillow with the other two on either side of his head. “Straddle me,” he encouraged. Frowning, wondering why they could not just do this on the bed where her knees would not be digging into hardwood flooring, Sookie straddled his stomach as her hand reached behind her to rub the bulge in his pants. Eric chuckled. “Higher.” She wriggled up to beneath his armpits, making Eric laugh only more. “Sookie, are you going to sit on my face or must I sit you there myself?”

Whimpering at his words, Sookie wriggled all the way up his body until her knees were planted on either side of his pillow-ensconced head. She scolded herself briefly for not grasping why he had placed the pillows that way. However, all self-irritation ceased when his mouth encased her sex and his arms locked her hips into place preventing Sookie from twisting away from his method. Her body was close enough to the edge of the bed so she could drape her upper half over it allowing all of her weight to be absorbed by either Eric or the mattress. None of her bruises were pressed upon in this position. None of her muscles needed to function to keep her upright. ‘Hell, I can’t even smother him. I don’t have to support my weight at all!’

Sookie moaned into the mattress when Eric’s tongue wriggled inside of her before returning to flicker, and then cover her taut clit.

Mmm, Eric!” She shimmied against his mouth impatiently quickly reaching the brick wall she had hit outside on the patio. “So close!” she gasped with her hips bucking against his mouth involuntarily.

I know,” he mumbled against her sex pulling her down more firmly.

Again, he maintained the speed and intensity that had her walls fluttering in pre-orgasmic preparation. Yet again, her body resisted the urge to let loose. She stayed primed for climax for several minutes before Eric chose a new weapon in his sexual arsenal, one he had yet to subject Sookie to.

Vampire speed.

Almost instantly once his tongue began to move at the unimaginable speed, Sookie’s body buckled and a scream was forcefully torn from her. Eric heard a distinct tearing sound during her wail and he wondered with humor if she had just ruined his duvet.

Easing back to a human speed, Eric continued lapping between her folds while Sookie noisily rode out her orgasm. Her hips were rocking against his face much like a woman in a saddle, she was sobbing into his mattress, and her thighs were clamped firmly around his ears while her pelvis ground against his mouth.

Eric continued his ministrations, having opened the proverbial ‘flood gates’ as it were. He brought her to orgasm several times after that, only resorting to vampire speed once more.

Satisfied that his oral skills were now receptive to her, Eric released her hip with one of his hands to reach down and open his pants. He managed to toe off his shoes and kick his legs free of his clothing without Sookie’s realization. However, when he began sliding her away from his face, parting her knees just enough so that she could glide down the length of his body, she most certainly noticed.

Ride me, Lover,” he pleaded when she lingered just above the tip of his phallus.

Grinning lazily up at him, Sookie reached between her legs and held him steady as she swayed and shimmied onto him. She bit her lip in that way Eric found so sexy and he had to resist thrusting up to meet her. Instead, he kept his hips frozen in place enjoying the slow, circling motions of Sookie’s hips as she found a sedate, yet solid rhythm. The way her body moved above him reminded Eric of a way a woman’s body shifted as she danced to a song with a long, sultry beat; slow, intentional, sweeping motions, laced with well-paced twists and moves.

You are so sexy, Sookie,” Eric murmured beneath her while he trailed his hand between her legs to idly run his thumb across her clit. Sookie made a sweet, husky sound under her breath at his touch. He watched as his cock continually disappeared, and then reappeared beneath her, each time leaving more and more moisture against his pubic hair until he could actually feel her juices trickling down his balls.

After a while, Eric could feel her movements becoming uneven and he smiled up at her knowingly. “Getting tired?” he asked.

Sookie nodded, so Eric began moving his hips beneath her earning a groan as his thumb sped up its movements as well. When he felt her muscles twitch around him, he amped up his speed to the cusp between human and supernatural and grinned when he felt Sookie climax around him.

Fucking perfect!” Eric praised while he thrust wildly beneath her and his own release coated her inner walls. His hand traced the one path along her back clear of bruises. “So perfect,” he whispered, running his hand up and down that single trail.

Sitting up, he found her lips and kissed Sookie deeply as he slipped her off his softening cock and settled her onto the bed before getting the pillows left on the floor. “I do believe I have kept you long enough, Lover. Now, I think it is time for sleep.”

But…” Sookie pouted at him while she curled onto her side only to flinch, switch sides, and flinch again. Finally, she gave up and flopped onto her stomach. Eric came to lie on her left side so that she could look at him unhappily. “We were having such a break through!”

Yes, we were,” he agreed, grinning. “You were doing a very good job cumming when you wanted after we got past that first one.” He curled up on his side so that they could look more easily into each others’ eyes. “Still, you had more than a long day. You need to rest.”

I need you more.”

Eric beamed at her comment. “It pleases me to hear you say that.”

I don’t want to sleep,” she admitted.

Are you afraid of nightmares?” he asked quietly.

Sookie nodded. “I feel so good right now. I’m scared that once you’re dead for the day and not distracting me, all that sadness and fear will return. I’m happy right now. I don’t want that to go away.”

Eric understood her logic, and he tried to make suggestions for her to avoid getting lost in her world of self-blame.

Perhaps you should distract yourself tomorrow. What do you usually do on your days off?”

Err… Go to the gym. Go for extra long runs with the girls. Laundry. Grocery shopping… I read. Sometimes I bring home cold cases,” she admitted.

Eric sighed. “Out of that list, I only consider two and one-half of those distractions.”

Two and a half?”


“Running with your dogs and reading are good. The gym seems like a trying place for you to let go of work.”

Fine, Master of Relaxation, how do you suggest I unwind tomorrow?” she inquired playfully.

If you were not so beaten up, I might have suggested a massage.”

Sookie snorted, “Oh yeah, it’s really relaxing having someone touching me while stressing over all of their problems.”

Ah, I neglected that a touch-related activity could actually cause you more stress,” Eric thought a moment. “What about shopping?”

Oh my Gawd,” Sookie rolled her eyes. “Do you really think I am that girly?”

Yes,” Eric nodded, making Sookie recoil, surprised. “You have lovely taste. The dress you wore the night we met speaks volumes to it. I noticed that it is the only dress in your closet, however.” He played with a tendril of her hair as he smiled at her knowingly. “Why did you buy it, Sookie?” he asked.

Nibbling her lip self-consciously, Sookie told him, “Trent had a crush on me all through Cadet Training. A few years after we joined the force he was thinking about asking me out. I never would have said yes to him, he’s ridiculously loud for a Were. Mentally that is…Anyway, I saw the dress while I was heading to the Shoe Department for running shoes and I was already thinking about Trent wanting to ask me out… I really wanted the dress and I used a potential first date as an excuse to buy it.”

So, you like flattering, feminine things, but do not like to spend frivolously,” Eric nodded in understanding.

Well, I can’t wear stuff like that to work, and if I go out it’s usually after work, or with my dogs,” she explained further.

What about with me?” Eric asked.

Hmm?” Sookie ran her hand down the smooth expanse of his chest, somewhat distracted.

Would you wear things like that dress when I take you out?” he elaborated.

Sookie smiled coyly. “I’d rather stay in with you.”

I would rather stay in you as well. Nevertheless, there are plenty of restrooms, alleys, corridors, and other such hiding places in the world, Lover,” Eric whispered in her ear. “I could fuck you in every single one of them and so much more discretely if you were in a skirt or dress.”

Sookie’s breath hitched. “I’ll go shopping tomorrow.”

Would you like my credit card?” he offered amused when Sookie scowled. “I thought not,” he said laughing, kissing her lips lightly.

Why would I want your credit card?” she grumbled.

Eric gazed at her with an emotion that took her breath away. Devotion shone behind his eyes and Sookie was unaccustomed to the feel of such overwhelming passion directed toward her. “Because I want you to have everything.”

That’s quite intense,” she whispered breathlessly.

To you, perhaps,” he teased. “To me, it is natural. I have been curious about you for several years now; ever since Pam mentioned a human cop who could not be glamoured. I watched your career take off. I learned about your hometown and family. Of course, I kept my physical distance from you. After all, if my scent started popping up around your friends and family, other creatures would grow curious… Still, I studied you.”

Stalked sounds more accurate,” she glowered playfully.

Only a little,” he bit his tongue. “Mostly, I only let myself to show acute interest in your career.”

So, did you know about my brother being arrested before I even came to your club?”

Eric snorted, “Actually, no. I had only heard about the dead fangbangers a few days before you showed up. I had not yet begun my own investigation. Vampire law enforcement moves much slower than human law enforcement. We do not feel compelled to solve most mysteries quickly. If it were not for the fact both women had been in my club, I would not have even heard about it before you showed up.”

Wow, y’all do take your time,” Sookie frowned disapprovingly.

Vampires rarely take immediate action,” he confessed. “We have eternity to act or seek retribution. If a matter involves a human we may hasten our plans, but usually lie in wait a year or so just so we can feel the fear and confusion in their body when we come to administer punishment.”

A shiver ran down Sookie’s spine. “That’s sadistic.”

Eric shrugged. “Many vampires are sadists.”

Are you?”

Eric thought a moment. “I went through a period in my existence when I could have been labeled a sadist. However, I have grown old enough now to see and understand the ramifications of such a lifestyle. I still accept the occasional assassination charge from my Queen. Those requests though are usually for the True Death of a vampire.”

Sookie crawled out of bed and put distance between her and Eric. He felt her Discomfort and Unease escalate at his confession, but he stayed on the bed, his face composed and calm.

Vampirism has its very own set of laws, Sookie.”

You still murder humans on occasion!” Sookie snapped.

I do.”

Sookie’s heart raced. “What am I doing?” she asked herself aloud, pacing naked and uncaring between the bed and the master bathroom. “Why did you tell me that?” she demanded.

Have you never suspected that I am a murderer?” Eric asked her.

Because it was so obvious I never thought about it!” she wailed.

Sookie,” Eric sat up in bed watching her patiently, “please calm down. You have never been an advocator of law; you have always fought for the safety of the public, not the upholding of rules.”

I’m a cop, Eric! It’s the same thing!”

The vampire held his fixed expression. “Sometimes protecting means removing dangers. The vampires and humans I have killed were a danger to other vampires and humans. Human laws do not properly protect vampires from the human dangers that did not exist prior to our thrust into the public eye. I have had to dispatch vampires who have not adhered to the new movements put into place so that we could exist openly amongst humans. Michael with his sex trafficking is an offense punishable by the True Death because it openly disregards our ban on blood and sex slavery.”

Then why hadn’t you killed him before I stumbled onto it!?” Sookie asked in a harsh whisper.

Still patient, Eric explained, “Because he was not the leader of the ring. I was still investigating the true ringmaster when you burst in taking away all of my evidence and leads. Now, I have to wait at least eighty years to properly maul the truth out of him before giving him the True Death.”

It wasn’t just Michael’s ring?”

It was not.”

Sookie stopped her pacing and sat on the end of the bed in deep thought. He could see the injured side of her face trembling as she attempted to scrunch it in concentration, but the swelling only managed to cause the flesh to flutter around her eye and temple.

You can think of me however works best for you, Sookie. Murderer, vigilante, or… Or you can remember that my job is the same as yours, to keep members of my community safe from the dangers around them.”

Sookie remained quiet for a lengthy time. Finally she uttered, “I like that last one best.”

Eric smiled and relief flooded his features. “Thank you. So do I.” Glancing at the spot she had vacated beside him, Eric asked almost shyly, “Will you come back and lie with me?”

When she silently agreed by crawling onto her stomach beside him, Eric gently kissed the three loud bruises on her back. “Maybe we should share some information,” Sookie began after a thoughtful moment.


“Oh?”

When we’re investigating?” Sookie offered. “That way we won’t step on each others’ toes if we have another crossover in crimes.”

Eric chuckled, kissing the bruise on her face just as carefully as the ones on her back. “I suppose we could do that,” he told her.

Why do I feel like you see this as agreeing to take a kid to Disney World?” Sookie griped.

Because I do feel like a child going to Disney World,” he countered.

I meant me. It feels as if you are looking at me like a kid you’re agreeing to take to Disney.”

Eric shook his head. “No, I am the one getting the treat in this case. You are letting me in deeper and deeper. It makes me… Exuberant.”

Flashy word.”


“It is how I feel. You cannot believe the relief it is to me… For you to see most of all that I am, and still lie beside me so vulnerably.”

Shifting closer to him, Sookie draped her leg over his hips and placed her head on his chest. “I have never known the happiness you’ve given me in such a short amount of time,” she murmured. “You could tell me that you are one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and I still don’t think I’d be able to walk away from you.”

Hands finding the safe path along her back free of bruising, he slowly trailed his fingertips across her skin once more. “I hope that the timing does not put you off.”

Timing?”

How quickly we got to this point, emotionally and physically.”

Sookie surprised him by laughing. “Honestly, I think quickly is the only way I would have managed to get to this point. Any longer and I would have chickened out… As far as my feelings for you though… Well, I’m taking a gamble on you, Eric. Either way I think I’ll win. I’ll finally have something I’ll never lose or I will lose the greatest romance in the history of the world. Still, the sex alone is worth the risk.”

Eric kissed her lips amusedly. “You are the only one of us that could end this, Sookie. I am not going anywhere.”

{†}

Sookie awoke the next morning feeling as though she had been hit by a truck. Between her injuries sustained on the job, and then hours of vampire loving, she felt bowlegged and as though all of her joints had been welded together.

A long, hot shower and a change of clothes helped somewhat, but it was not until an hour after popping some Aleve that she felt most of her body stop protesting.

Alone with her dogs and her thoughts, Sookie took a canister of tennis balls outside and threw them around the spacious yard while she thought over all that had happened in the last thirty-six hours. She had sex for the first time, had been shot for the first time, taken a life on the job for the first (and hopefully last) time, had sex in a public restroom, and she had been forced to acknowledge that her boyfriend was a killer.

Then she started again with the last of her musings. Eric was a murderer. Of course, his considerable age and the era in which he began his life brought a hailstorm of complications involving his attitude on the matter. He had been a Viking in his former life. His livelihood had revolved around pillaging and raiding settlements, born in battle, and living with death all around. It was a life that she could not begin to comprehend, and she settled for thinking of it as the life of a soldier today. Of course, it was an incomparable metaphor, but it was the best parallel she could find to equate the two.

Even before being turned, Eric had known and been comfortable with death. His comparison of his responsibilities being similar to hers in a law enforcement career had helped bridge the gap, yet she still did not feel that their roles were all that similar. Eric seemed more like Special Ops to her rather than a cop.

Then Sookie thought about all of the sex and sex-related activities she had partaken in the last two days. In her opinion, nothing regarding that could ever get any better. The level of perfection she experienced under his skilled tutelage would be forever unrivaled. She felt enslaved to his prowess. Eric could command her to bend over the conference table at work and she had zero to little inhibition of doing just that if it was what he asked of her.

Finally, Sookie thought about being shot and, in turn, that reminded her of the life she had taken. There was guilt, plenty of guilt; at the same time, there was acceptance. Nina would not have stopped firing until she ran out of bullets or killed her. That was a clear fact. Still, Sookie wondered if Nina could have actually killed her. There had only been one bullet left in the revolver. If Sookie had let her empty the round, would the detective been able to take Nina in alive?

It doesn’t matter,’ Sookie told herself firmly. Nina had been advancing; a bullet had already zipped past Sookie’s ear while the prostitute drew closer. Three of the four shots had hit her, and the last had been deadly close to achieving Nina’s goal. ‘If I hadn’t fired, I would be dead.’

Though these thoughts barely eased Sookie’s sadness, they did manage to soothe her conscience. No one had put the gun in Nina’s hand or told her to fire on an officer. That had been Nina’s choice, and, in turn, forced Sookie to respond with deadly results.

My life is more important to me.’

Nodding with unsure acceptance, Sookie threw another tennis ball for Junes while Mags tore off for the one further away.

Sookie reached into her pocket and took out her cell phone. She realized she should call her Gran. The news would probably hit Bon Temps any minute and it was her duty to assure her grandmother that she was well.

Hello?”

Hey, Gran, it’s Sookie,” the young woman softly spoke.

Good morning, dear. How are you?” Adele asked cheerily though Sookie could hear a bit of unease in her voice.

I’m good,” Sookie replied. “I was wondering if you read any news from Shreveport this morning…”

Not yet.”

This surprised Sookie. Gran was notorious for reading all of the local headlines, including the happenings in Shreveport ever since Sookie had moved there. “Oh well, when you get around to it, you might read about an officer-related shooting and I just wanted you to know I am fine.”

Were you involved?” Gran asked and the terror rose in her voice.

Sookie sighed, “Yes, I was. I wasn’t hurt though.”

What happened?”

A suspect was running and I pursued on foot. I took him down a quarter mile away. Shots were fired by the guy’s girlfriend and I was forced to shoot her.” Sookie waited with baited breath.

What happened to the girl?” Gran asked breathlessly.

She died before the ambulance could get there,” Sookie told her quietly.

Were you hit?” Sookie groaned internally.

Yes, but my vest took it all,” There was no point worrying her Gran by mentioning a bullet had passed within inches of her head.

Oh God!” Adele cried. “Are you all right? Where were you hit? Have you been to the hospital? What did the doctor say?”

I’m fine. I was shot in the back. Yes, I’ve been to the hospital. The doctor said I’ll have some major bruising, but I had no broken bones.”

There was a long silence before Gran sighed, “I’ve always been terrified of this day. Ever since you were a little girl and you told me you wanted to be a police officer… all I could think of was you getting shot.”

I’m fine. Do you want me to come over just so you can see I’m perfectly healthy?” Sookie offered.

That would be nice, dear…” Again there was hesitation in Adele’s voice that unsettled the younger woman.

Okay, I’ll get Mags and Junes packed up and be there in an hour,” Sookie told her. “Bye, Gran. Love you, see you soon!”

Sookie hung up and called her dogs inside. When she went to get their leashes, Sookie stopped in Eric’s room and wrote a note for him.

~Eric,


I’m going to Bon Temps to visit my Gran. I should be home before nightfall, but if I’m not, I thought you might worry. Depending on when I leave Gran’s, I might just go straight back to my apartment, so I’m taking my stuff with me. Call me when you rise!

Your girlfriend,

Sookie

She drew a little heart after her name that she considered scribbling out, but she left it and began packing her overnight bag.

Items in hand, Sookie went to the kitchen and packed up her dogs’ travel items, and then ushered the dogs out the door and engaged the security system before going to her car.

The drive to Bon Temps was quiet. Mags and Junes curled on the backseat, licking one another periodically before one would rise, lean over her seat, and lick the unbruised portion of her face. Sookie grimaced once she realized Gran would see her disfigured left side and go into hysterics.

Pulling up to the old farmhouse nearly forty-five minutes after calling, Sookie saw her Gran rocking on the front porch.

Oh my goodness!” Gran shrieked, seeing the bruising and rushing her geriatric legs down off the porch. “What happened!?” she demanded.

Sookie laughed lightheartedly while she went to the rear door of her car to let the dogs out. “I told you I was in pursuit of a suspect. This sort of thing happens on occasion when people resist arrest.”

Mags and Junes loped around the familiar yard while the women returned to the porch.

I hate that you’re in law enforcement!” Gran stated crossly for the billionth time in seven years.

I know you do, but some good came out of it that even you will appreciate.”

Oh?”

When I went to check out some leads for Jason’s situation I met someone.”

Gran froze. “Met someone?” she asked with anticipation.

Yes. His name’s Eric Northman. I should tell you though, he’s a vampire.”

I don’t care! Sookie! You have a boyfriend!?” she claimed happily.

Sookie laughed. “Yes, I do.”

That’s wonderful, dear!” Gran hugged her tightly.

‘Just in time!’

In time for what?” Sookie frowned, catching the thought from the contact though she always tried to resist listening in on her family.

Gran’s face paled. “Sookie,” she began hesitantly, “you know that I’m getting old.”

NO!” Sookie shouted, rising quickly from the porch swing and covering her ears, but she had already seen the memories of doctors’ offices and regretful faces.

Dear, everyone gets cancer if they live long enough,” Gran said soothingly and reached to take Sookie’s hand.

No!” she yelled again, yanking her hand away.

I’ve been suspecting things were wrong for some time now. I didn’t get diagnosed until a few days ago. That’s why I haven’t been… around when you wanted to come and visit these past weeks… I didn’t know how to tell you what I suspected until it was confirmed and I didn’t want you to hear it by accident.”

How long?” Sookie demanded.

Adele sighed, easing back into the porch swing. “Maybe another month or two.”

Are you doing chemo?” She eyed her grandmother’s hair suspiciously.

No, I opted to forgo treatment.”

Why!?”

I’m ready, Sookie. I miss your Granddaddy and my children,” she confessed. Sookie plopped heavily on the porch floor, staring at her hands numbly. “I would really like to meet your boyfriend soon,” Gran said gently. “It would be nice to meet the man who finally caught your eye… To see that you’re taken care of…”

Gran, we’ve been dating two days… Officially.”

Regardless, I’d still like to meet him.” Sookie let out a groan. “I’ve already made my funeral plans so you and Jason have nothing to worry about there. I’m leaving you this house…” She gestured weakly to the old farmhouse.

It’s not home without you,” Sookie murmured.

I know, Sookie,” Gran whispered sympathetically.

Brushing a stray tear, Sookie cringed when she pressed too hard on the bruising. “You should leave it to Jason. I have no use for it. I’m never coming back to Bon Temps if you’re not here.”

Jason already has a house.”

I’ll never use it. Give it to Jason.”

Adele sighed at her granddaughter’s stubbornness. “We still have a little time. Think about it.”

Sookie nodded if only to placate her grandmother for the moment.

It’s my time, Sookie. At least there’s still time to spend together and say proper goodbyes.”

I don’t want to talk about it,” Sookie whispered. “Does Jason know?”

Not yet. He was only released from jail the other day. It felt like a bad time to tell him. I didn’t want to let you know just yet either. Not with being shot…” Her eyes squeezed shut. “Can’t you find something less dangerous?”

You sound like Eric.”

He seems like a smart man. How did he react to what happened?”

Sookie frowned. “He was terrified… My face alone left him speechless. When the Captain said I’d been shot, he looked paler than I’ve ever seen. That’s saying something for a vampire.”

Do you like him?”

Very much.”

Do you love him?”


Sookie froze at the question. “It’s only been two weeks that we’ve known each other.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes,” Gran pressed.

Sookie rose from the floor and began pacing. “I don’t know what my feelings are for him. I want to spend as much time as I can with him. My heart races when he’s near. He takes care of my dogs for me when I’m running late at work. He’s protective and patient…but love? The only person I’ve ever loved is you. I don’t know what it feels like to love someone romantically,” she confessed.

Gran nodded in understanding. “Well, it sounds like you’re in the early relationship glow right now. Maybe, in a few months…”

After you’re gone,” Sookie rasped.

Yes,” Gran agreed.

I don’t know if I can fall in love while my heart’s breaking,” Sookie whispered.

The women talked for another hour, both trying desperately to avoid the topics related to Adele’s impending death. When their conversation lulled into an awkward silence, Sookie collected her dogs and drove back to Shreveport.

Returning to her apartment, Sookie got everything settled and sat quietly on the couch. It was nearing dusk before she moved again and fed her dogs who were whining for an early meal. Once they were eating, Sookie grabbed her keys and left.

She drove around Shreveport aimlessly for fifteen minutes before finding herself back in Eric’s driveway.

Getting out of her car, Sookie went to the front door singling out the spare key she had put on her ring the morning before. As she entered the house, she hit the alarm code and shut the front door locking it behind her. Sookie toed off her shoes and began stripping off her clothes until she was in her underwear in front of Eric’s bedroom door. She punched in the second code and entered the bedroom, surprised to see Eric sitting up in bed reading. It was not yet first dark.

Sookie,” Eric greeted her carefully. Her emotions had him worried upon rising and her note gave him pause.

You didn’t call,” Sookie murmured, walking to the bed and curling up against his side.

I could feel your depression. I wanted to wait and see what you would do rather than call. You have a habit of believing your needs are some sort of burden on me, and I did not want you to think that if I offered to console you it would be out of obligation,” he explained. “Are you depressed about yesterday again?”

Sookie shook her head. “No. I think I’m in a good place with that, all things considered.”


“What happened?”

Taking a deep breath Sookie told him, “I went to see Gran… She told me she has cancer. She’s dying.”

Eric carefully pulled her to his side ever mindful of her bruises. “I am sorry, Sookie.”

I’m scared,” she whispered.

I know.”

Why is everything happening all at once? The best and worst parts of my life are happening at the same time!” she gasped around a wave of tears.

Eric kissed the top of her head. “Perhaps the universe saw the impending darkness coming for you and wanted to alleviate some of that pain with something good for you.”

Ego much?” she mumbled into his side.

Very much,” he agreed. “I would not have been my first choice either, but it seems I am whom you are stuck with at the moment.”

I want a very long moment.”

How long?”

It might just be the onset of grief talking, but I want to say ‘forever’.”

Then let us aim for forever.”

On to Chapter Nine

Never End Ch. 07

Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven: Detective Stackhouse or Sookie Stackhouse?

Sookie awoke abruptly when she heard her siren ringtone echoing through the bedroom. She did not even have time to remember where she was as she reached blindly for the phone and gave a groggy, “Detective Stackhouse…”

Stackhouse, you need to come in. Marla Jacobs attempted to commit suicide this morning, and she’s demanding to speak with you,” her captain’s voice came over the phone and Sookie sat up, rubbing her eyes.

How much damage did she do?” Sookie asked, climbing out of bed and catching her foot on the bedside table, “FUCK!” she snapped, clutching her foot while she hobbled right into the dresser. “GOD DAMN IT!”

She looked around the bedroom for a moment, grateful that Eric had left the lamp on for her since there was no window to offer any ambient light while she reacquainted herself with the layout of the bedroom.

Are you alright?” her captain asked worriedly.

Caught my foot on the table,” she grunted. “I’ll be at the station in forty minutes.”

Just go straight to the hospital. Trent will meet you there.”

Okay, I can be at the hospital in thirty.”

The captain paused a moment before stating, “Stackhouse, the station is closer to your apartment than the hospital.”

I’m not at my place,” Sookie replied distractedly as she dug through her duffle bag.

Oh… Well, take your time. Report in after you interview Marla.”

Yes, Captain,” Sookie hung up her phone, finally finding something to wear. She huffed a bit when she realized her blouse was creased from being shoved in her duffle, and she wondered idly if Eric had a steam setting on his dryer that she could use.

Needing a shower, Sookie opened Eric’s closet and found an unoccupied hanger to drape her blouse on and took it into the bathroom with her, hooking it on the towel rack near the floor to ceiling glass-encased shower.

After she started the spray, she groaned when she realized that she had not brought her own soap and shampoo. Guess I’ll smell like Eric today.

Stepping into the warm water, Sookie left the door open a crack to allow the rising steam to de-wrinkle her blouse, and let the warm water soak her hair before distinguishing between his shampoo and conditioner. Thankfully his body wash was not perfumed with masculine scents and she quickly finished her shower.

After toweling off Sookie spied a hair dryer on the bathroom counter. She clasped her hands in relief that Eric used one for his shoulder length hair. He even had a hair pick that she used, leaving her hair wavy and voluminous.

Grabbing her now-smoothed blouse, Sookie grabbed the rest of the clothing articles she needed to finish dressing and left the bedroom, making certain to engage the security system when she left.

Mags and Junes jumped promptly off of the couch when Sookie emerged, and she hugged them tightly before going about most of their morning ritual, minus their run. Instead, she let them run around the backyard all the while staring at her watch until she was forced to call them in and leave.

As she headed to the front door and its nearby table, Sookie found a key on top of a note.

~Sookie,

This is the key to the front door. If you are called into work, please feel free to leave Junes and Mags with me. I will take care of them if you are gone past sundown.

Be safe out there.

Your boyfriend,

Eric

Sookie nearly melted at the note, and she pocketed the message and key before arming the security system and leaving for the hospital.

{†}

Trent leaned against the counter of the hospital’s front reception desk playing with his phone while he waited for Detective Stackhouse to arrive. He was just finishing an article on a recent story from Bon Temps involving a man by the name of Drew Marshal handing himself over to the Sheriff of Bon Temps for the murders of two local women when he was interrupted.

Good morning, Trent,” Sookie’s voice broke his concentration and he jumped at her sudden appearance. “Too much coffee?” she laughed, her voice teasing him. “You usually hear me coming a mile away!”

Trent’s eyes widened at the woman in front of him. This was not the same Detective Stackhouse he had worked with the day before. This was not even the Sookie Stackhouse that had fawned over her flowers and given her co-workers their first glimpse of her personal life after six years of working together!

Her hair was down for the first time he could recall. Her blue blouse was undone at the top two buttons, when she only ever left the very top undone in the entire time he had known her. He was aware of that because no man, married, single, or half dead could keep their eyes from straying to her large breasts, secretly wishing that second button was open so they could glimpse a peek at heaven when she leaned over to…

Suddenly Trent was no longer fantasizing about her breasts. His eyes had snapped to her posture instead. She stood before him with her left arm dangling loosely at her side while her right hand planted naturally on her cocked hip. Her left foot softly rotated outward, slightly in front of her right. Trent had never seen her posture so relaxed and natural. Usually she was rigid, and her stance was consistent with her feet slightly apart and parallel to each other. Detective Stackhouse always stood as though she believed someone would charge her at any moment.

Oh my God, Stackhouse got laid!’ Trent’s mind screamed in surprise, followed quickly by happiness. Sookie briefly heard him recognize the scent emanating from her and register that she had been with a vampire. She was intrigued by the fact that this realization did not stem any sort of resentment. Sookie was not entirely oblivious to the animosity between Weres and vampires.

Sorry, I was reading an article in the Parish news. Some guy named Drew Marshal confessed to killing two women in Bon Temps. That’s your old home town, right, Stackhouse?”

Sookie froze for a moment before remembering Eric had told her the culprit would be turning himself in that week. She did not know why he had made the man wait, but she decided Eric had his reasons.

Yeah, it is,” she finally replied.

Did you know there were murders?”

Yes, my grandmother actually told me about them a couple weeks ago,” she confessed.

Oh. I’m surprised you didn’t say anything,” Trent was not actually surprised.

No, you aren’t,” she accused playfully, and Trent laughed.

This Stackhouse is fun! I’m surprised she didn’t say that Bon Temps wasn’t Shreveport jurisdiction!’

Is Marla in the same room?”

No, she was transferred to Psych for 72-hour observation,” Trent told her, gesturing toward the elevators. He let Sookie walk in front of him, and shamelessly watched the new way her hips moved as she walked with this captivating posture she had adopted over night.

How’d she do it?”

Trent blanched out of his musings over the way her ass bounced with the little spring that now existed in her step. “Broke a light bulb and tried to swallow the pieces.” ‘I love my wife, I love my wife, I love my wife!’ Sookie heard in his head while he anxiously twisted his wedding ring. She felt sympathy for her co-worker despite the extensive and unprofessional way he was viewing her.

However, even though it disgusted her to have men fantasizing about her, most of Trent’s thoughts were not riddled with carnal musings. He was genuinely observing only the changes between the woman he had worked with and with whom he had gone through cadet training. It was not his fault that so many seemingly permanent aspects of her character had shifted rather unexpectedly over night.

Sookie sighed. “I should have seen this. She was too calm. I was worried about her. I told her to take care of herself.”

The pair took the elevators up to the third floor that held the Psychiatric Ward, and Trent lead Sookie to Marla’s room.

I’ll be out here if you need anything,” Trent spoke softly and opened the door for her.

Thanks,” Sookie entered the room, standing out of range from the camera that was trained on Marla. “Hi, Marla,” she crooned carefully. “I heard you had a really rough morning.”

Marla sneered, the light lacerations around her mouth cracking open slightly with fresh blood. “What do you care?”

Sookie’s shoulders hunched at the accusation. “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize just how troubled you were. You were in pain, and I was too preoccupied to see it,” she admitted.

Yeah, and then you just sent Deputy Trent to interview me instead,” Marla accused.

Sookie blanched at the accuracy of Marla’s observation. “Yes, I did.”

Why?”

Sookie resisted the urge to fidget. “Your case was more personal than I usually allow them to get. I was trying to keep a distance from you so I could stay focused on finding Jacobs.”

The woman turned her head away from Sookie and stared across the room toward the window while she considered the detective’s reasoning. “It’s nothing you could have stopped, you know? How could you see what I would do? What do you know about what I’m going through?”

Absolutely nothing,” Sookie told her. “Every experience is different. Everyone hurts in different ways, breaks in different ways.”

You’re not broken,” Marla accused.

If you want to wait until about eight o’clock tonight, I’ll send my boyfriend over and he’ll tell you just how broken I am,” Sookie snorted. “Still, that’s not the point. You don’t really want to die, do you, Marla? After how hard you worked to survive?”

The woman leaned her head back against the wall and continued staring blankly at where the wall met the ceiling. “They still haven’t found Daniel. He’s still out there.” ‘They were going to send me away from the hospital, into a city where he could find me anywhere…’

We would never let him get anywhere near you, Marla,” Sookie assured her. “You don’t need to do something like this,” she gestured to the room, “to keep him away from you. We’ve had a guard on your floor with his picture this entire time.”

He can only come at me through that door when I’m here,” she pointed sadly to the entrance of her room. “He could come at me from anywhere once I’m out.”

We’ll find him, Marla, I promise. Can you tell me about some of his friends? Do you know who he would go to if he had to go into hiding?”

Marla sighed while she tried to press her brain for anything useful.

Maybe his girlfriend’s place? I think she’s why he tried to kill me.”

Sookie nodded. “What’s her name?”

I don’t know. I only know what she looks like. Her name on his phone was ‘Nestle.’ I don’t even want to know where she got that pet name!” she growled.

That makes two of us,” Sookie backtracked. “Where did you see her?”

Getting plowed by my husband in our bed,” Marla’s face gave way to a sneer at the memory, and Sookie had to fight her own recoil at the image. She observed the memory though, noting ‘Nestle’s features as well as a rather flamboyant peacock tattoo on her left breast.

I’ll send a sketch artist by for you to give a description. Remember to tell him about any tattoos, scars, or other distinguishing marks.”

She’s Latina and has a hideous tattoo of a peacock on her left tit. That’s the only memorable thing about her!” Marla snapped.

Okay,” Sookie nodded carefully, trying to calm the irate woman.

I really didn’t intend on killing myself, you know,” Marla told her conversationally. “I didn’t even try to swallow the glass. I just put it in my mouth and bit so they’d put me in here.”

I hope so, Marla. You’re all your mother has left, you know? Has she been in to see you yet?”

Not since what happened this morning, but they won’t let her visit while I’m under observation anyway.”

I see,” Sookie murmured. “Is there anything you want me to tell her? I can call her hotel.”

No. I’ll see her in a few days.”

Okay. You just call the station and ask for me if you need anything.”

Thanks, Sookie.”

You’re welcome, Marla.”

Sookie exited the room, letting out a long sigh after the door shut behind her.

How’d it go?” Trent asked.

Pretty well. I don’t think she’s suicidal. I think she’s scared; scared to leave the hospital.”

They headed back toward the elevators, and Sookie pressed the call button timing their wait.

She thinks the police can’t protect her outside of here?”

She’s been through so much. I think it also has to do with being in that tree for five days. She wants to feel safe and protected. The hospital gives her that right now.”

I guess. It’s pretty extreme chewing a light bulb just to stay in the hospital though.”

She’s in survival mode still,” Sookie defended.

Well, I don’t get it, but it looks as if you do.” When the elevator arrived, they climbed inside. “Sorry you got called in today.”

It’s okay. It shouldn’t take me long to brief the captain and transcribe my recording.”

Did you at least have fun last night?” Trent tried to coax some information out of her.

I did, thank you.”

Please, tell me SOMETHING!’

Sookie laughed, “I spent the night at my boyfriend’s house.”

Oh my God! She actually told me!’

Oh, do you usually do that on the weekends?” Trent asked innocently.

No, this was a first.” She was smiling a secret smile to herself, and it made Trent grin as well.

Good for you,” he murmured when the elevator doors opened and they walked out of the hospital together.

{†}

Sookie was surprised at all of the confused double takes. They were not ‘girl stopping traffic’ stares, but ones of general confusion. Police men and women alike momentarily froze and stared at her as if they had no idea who she was.

Even her telepathy could not explain the strange occurrence.


“Trent,” Sookie hissed when she caught up with him outside their division’s annex, “do I look
that different? People are staring at me as if I’m new or something.”

The Deputy First Class smirked down at her and replied, “When I jumped this morning at the hospital?” he reminded carefully. “I didn’t jump because I didn’t hear you coming. I jumped because I couldn’t even recognize your footsteps anymore. I knew there was someone in front of me, but I had no idea it was you.”

He left out the part about her scent having changed. Obviously she would know a human would not be able to differentiate scents from such a distance.

Oh,” Sookie mumbled, bringing the bent knuckle of her index finger between her teeth. “I never realized I was so rigid or severe-looking. I knew I was sharp when I spoke; I just never realized that shone through my appearance, too. ”

People tend to notice changes, not absences,” Trent pointed out.

That’s true,” she agreed with a laugh as they entered their department.

Detectives Murphy and Burns stopped mid-conversation with Captain Kleinman when the pair walked into the room.

Good afternoon, Stackhouse,” the Captain grinned at her. ‘She looks so happy!’

G-good afternoon, Sir,” Sookie stammered with surprise.

Sorry we had to drag you in, but you have the best relationship with Mrs. Jacobs,” Kleinman explained when he came to stand beside her.

Oh, I understand,” she nodded.

Leaning closer, he muttered under his breath, “I’ll get you back to your weekend activities as fast as I can.” His promise made an unwelcome red stain her cheeks while her breath hitched, and Murphy, Burns, and Trent all noticed. “Get what you need to done so you can get out of here, and we can avoid paying you too much overtime this weekend,” Kleinman laughed, turning to his office.

Anything I can help with, Stackhouse?” Trent asked eager to help her finish her work quickly.

Go contact the hospital and find out when they’ll allow Marla to sit with a sketch artist, and then coordinate with that team when the hospital gives you a time frame for it,” Sookie instructed while she placed the headphone jack into her phone that she used as a recorder during her interview with Marla. She placed a bud in her ear and opened a document to transcribe the conversation.

On it,” Trent assured.

Murphy, can you run a database search of Latin-American women aged 18 to 20 who have a peacock tattoo on their left breast?”

18 to 20?” Murphy frowned. “How’d you get those numbers?”

Marla’s 21. Mr. Jacobs doesn’t strike me as the type to cheat older.”

Murphy grumbled in agreement. “I’m sure he wouldn’t.”

Sookie paused a moment, “Cross reference those with solicitation records.”

You think she’s a prostitute?”

Maybe. Jacobs has enough money that he could afford a professional mistress rather than a girlfriend on the side. See if there are any prostitutes with the street name Nestle.”

That’s a narrow field,” Murphy grumpily chattered some more, typing search perimeters in frantically. He snorted. “What do you know? I actually got one.”

Thank God her name wasn’t Cherry or we’d have over a few dozen,” Sookie muttered, peeking at his screen. “Huh, Marla was right. That is one hideous tattoo.”

I’ll send out patrol.”

I’ll go with them,” Sookie went to her desk for her Glock.

Are you sure?”

I promised Marla that I would make her safe. If Jacobs is at his girlfriend’s house, I am not letting him leave without a pair of cuffs around his wrists.” Holstering her weapon, she shouted, “I’ll grab Trent on the way. Call in a black and white to meet us up the block. I don’t want them to beat us there and spook Jacobs!”

{†}

You all right, Stackhouse?” Trent asked while Sookie smoothed her hand over the Velcro band of her bulletproof vest.

Yeah, just excited,” she said, smoothing again.

You look scared,” he confessed.

A little bit of both.”

You think he’s in there?” Trent pointed to the house they were approaching.

She could already hear his mind. “Yes.”

The patrol car that was serving as their backup pulled up along the curb, exited their vehicles, and waited for Sookie and Trent to come around.

Trent, take Peterson with you to the front. Rookie, you’re coming around back with me,” Sookie ordered. She knew she had a much better chance of being the one to take Jacobs in if she went around back. It was the most common flight pattern.

After Sookie was in position at the rear entrance of the quaint, little ranch-style house, she heard Trent pound on the front door, “Nina Sanchez, this is Shreveport P.D. We have questions regarding Daniel Jacobs and a warrant for his arrest!”

Sookie heard Nina’s panicked mind while she went to the front door. Of course her thoughts were in frantic Spanish; and all the telepath could pick out was ‘Oh God!’ and several images of Daniel grabbing her revolver from a desk drawer.

Focusing now on Jacobs, Sookie saw through his eyes when he came toward the kitchen, heading for the back door. His eyes lit on the stupid rookie behind her, standing with his head square in front of the kitchen window. He raised his gun, and Sookie spun around, diving for the new officer whom she managed to topple to the ground before the bullet sounded. As they fell to the ground, Sookie scrambled back to her feet just in time to give chase to Jacobs who had bolted out the back door.

You’re not getting away from me!” Sookie snarled under her breath as she barked into her radio. “Stackhouse in pursuit of armed suspect on foot. Rounding north of Bessie St, heading east!”

After giving her team notice of her advancements, Sookie kicked her legs into overdrive. She sped quickly after Jacobs, anticipating his every feint and attempted dodge until she lunged into his body and tackled him to the ground.

Daniel Jacobs,” she growled, “you are under arrest for the attempted murder of Marla Jacobs, assault with a deadly weapon, endangering a police officer, resisting arrest, and pissing me the fuck off! You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say-” Daniel Jacobs yelled and thrashed beneath her as Sookie recited the Miranda Rights and struggled to get him turned onto his stomach in order to fasten his wrists behind his back. She was also trying to figure out where the hell his revolver had gone. She knew he had not thrown it, but also had not seen it before or after she tackled him.

While she struggled with the culprit, finally managing to twist him around, a series of shots rang out, and the woman felt as if a baseball bat had smashed thrice against her back. Gasping for air and in shock when a POP rung in her ear, Sookie’s heart hammered even harder at the realization that a bullet had just barely missed her head. Frantically, she twisted and aimed her weapon at her assailant.

Nina! Sookie managed to realize as she fired five rounds at the advancing woman who held a revolver in her hand. An epiphany struck. There had been a second woman in the house who Sookie had thought was Nina’s mind! Nina had recovered Jacob’s gun and pursued them!

There was no time for Sookie to berate herself for her impatience and singular focus on Jacobs which had allowed the presence of three minds and not just two within the house to go unnoticed. All attention was now centered on Nina who crumpled to the ground when Sookie’s bullets tore into her. While Sookie tried to regain her control on Jacobs, the man twisted, and punched her square in the face.

NINA!” Jacobs screamed, trying to scramble away from Sookie and toward his lover.

Winded from the shots, and then disoriented further by Jacob’s swing, Sookie teetered to her feet, and lunged once more for Jacobs. The man struggled with her with greater intensity than before.

If you want her to live, then give up so I can take care of her!” Sookie screamed into his ear.

You killed her! You fucking killed her! Fuck you, you pig cunt!” Jacobs screamed right back, landing several hits to her face before she managed to pin one of his hands under her knee and punch him repeatedly in the face. Her last hit stunned him, and Sookie managed to turn him onto his stomach to finally cuff him.

Grabbing her radio, and hearing sirens pulling up behind her on Bessie Street, Sookie fell onto her bottom as she panted into the speaker, “Suspect in custody. Paramedics needed. 18-year-old female, multiple GSW to the abdomen.”

Clambering back to her feet, Sookie reached Nina and kicked the nearly spent revolver away. The young woman was choking on her blood while Sookie knelt beside her, trying to staunch the bleeding, but finding every shot she had fired had been imbedded in Nina’s torso.

STACKHOUSE!” Trent yelled while he ran up the slight incline toward her. “Are you okay!?”

I’ll live,” Sookie whispered, still holding the wounded woman, feeling Nina’s cold hands clamping onto her overheated wrist. “I’ll live…”

{†}

You okay, Stackhouse?” Captain Kleinman asked softly as she sat at her desk.

I’m fine,” Sookie replied in a hushed tone.

We’ll need your firearm.”

I know.”

You know you’ll have to meet the Force’s psychologist a few times before you can leave your desk again.”

I know.”

Will you go to the hospital now?”

I’m fine.”

Sookie,” her eyes turned to him wearily, “it’s never easy for a cop to take a life. No one expects you to be ‘fine’.” His gaze turned beseeching. “Please? Go to the hospital? Even though your vest took the bullets, it can still crack some ribs.”

The most they would do is bind them anyway,” she grumbled.

What about your face? That’s some major swelling. You could have a broken cheek bone,” he urged.

I’m fine.”

SOOKIE!” The woman’s back went rigid at the sound of her name being shouted by that voice. “What the hell happened!?” Sookie turned slowly in her chair to meet Eric’s bewildered gaze. When he saw her ruined face, he froze mid-step. “Sookie, your face,” he murmured, closing the remaining distance and turning her chair to face him. His cold hands felt wonderful on her throbbing skin.

You the boyfriend?” Kleinman asked.

Yes,” Eric replied distractedly, still touching her face gently while he tried to reconcile his emotions at seeing her this way.

See if you can’t get her to go to the hospital and get her chest x-rayed. She was shot today.”

Eric’s head snapped to the captain’s, and then back to Sookie. “You need to go to the hospital.”

I need to finish my incident report,” she snarked.

You’ll be chained to your desk until the Shooting Team and the Sheriff’s office release you of any wrong doing. Besides, you have to go to the hospital so we can catalogue your injuries into evidence. I’ve tried being easy on you, Stackhouse, but now I’m ordering you. Go to the hospital!”

Rising sharply from her seat, Sookie placed her Glock on her desk and turned toward the door.

Sookie,” Eric walked briskly after her, “let me take you.”

I don’t want to go,” she whispered.

Why?”


“Nina’s there,” she choked, diving into the restroom to hide from a passing officer as tears filled her eyes.

Without hesitation, Eric followed her into the bathroom. She had already barricaded herself into a stall.

Who is Nina?” Eric asked quietly.

The girl I killed today,” Sookie gasped. “I don’t even remember drawing my gun! I don’t even remember deciding to do it! I heard it. I heard the bullet blow past my ear, and then I was pulling the trigger over and over! It happened so fast, and-”

Sookie,” Eric soothed, “it was the adrenaline.” He tried very hard to ignore the fact that a bullet had zipped past her head. How many inches? Fractions? How close had that bullet been to blowing apart the loveliest face he had ever seen? How close had that bullet been to mutilating the most giving mind he had ever explored?

What if one shot would have stopped her? If I’d just shot once? Would she have lived? Would she have stopped?” Sookie babbled.

You are trained to shoot in bursts,” he reminded.

But one shot…” she whispered around a sob.

There was an unbearable amount of silence as Eric felt the dark emotions swirling in her.

Eric, I need you to leave,” When he hesitated to reply, she managed to choke out, “I can’t do this here. I can’t be strong and walk out of this building the way I want when you’re holding my hand. Please, I’ll go to the hospital alone. I’ll come back to your house once I’m done there. I can’t be a cop with you around.”

I do not understand,” he admitted.

Sookie leaned her head against the side of the stall while she tried to articulate what she needed him to understand. “It’s too easy to fall into your arms and let you take all of the bad things away. When I see you, or hear your voice, or read a note from you… I am Sookie. You let me be Sookie. Right now, I have to be Stackhouse, and I can’t be her when you’re here calling for me.”

I do not think you are in a condition to drive,” Eric murmured. “May I wait for you at your car? I will drive you to the hospital, and wait for you in the parking lot if you prefer..?”

Okay,” Sookie agreed. “I’ll meet you down there after I get myself back together.”

All right. I will be patient. Take all the time you need,” Eric walked toward the door and silently left Sookie in the bathroom.

When she was certain he would not return, Sookie came out of the stall and went to the sink to splash cool water on her face. Gently, she dabbed away the moisture and looked at her face in the mirror. The swelling was pretty bad as her captain had commented. Her left eye was nearly shut, and the discoloration was mostly red. She could see the threatening rainbow of her bruise blossoming, knowing it would be in full bloom when she awoke the next day.

Taking low, even breaths, Sookie quelled the anxious heart rate thrumming beneath her ribs. She eased her body to stop its shivering. There was time to fall apart in the safety of Eric’s home and arms. Right now, she needed to go to the hospital, have her injuries documented, assure Marla that she was safe, and maybe eat something.

No wonder I can’t stop shaking!’ Sookie thought as she remembered that the last time she had eaten was her McDonald’s run on the way to Eric’s house the night before.

Laughing hollowly while she was suddenly obsessed with the idea of food after such a grueling day, Sookie took that bit of amusement and managed to smooth her unrelenting sorrow off of her face. ‘There’s the stoic detective everyone knows and loves,’ she thought with further dark comedy.

Finally able to escape the bathroom, Sookie avoided eye contact with any and all colleagues she passed. They seemed to recognize her avoidance, and even managed to keep their sympathetic looks to themselves.

Arriving at her car, Eric leaned against the side; Sookie dug her keys out of her pocket and handed them to him. Eric pressed the remote quickly and opened the passenger side door for her before climbing behind the wheel.

As they pulled out of the lot, Eric asked softly, “May I hold your hand, Sookie?”

He could feel her trying to decide if she would take it. When she stiffly shook her head, he resisted the urge to sigh. Detective Stackhouse did not like being touched. As much as Sookie longed for his comfort, the Detective could not handle any such weakness at the moment.

The drive to the hospital was short, and Sookie jumped out of the car before Eric managed to pull up to the Emergency Room Drop Off.

You should go home,” Sookie told him. “I could be here awhile.”

I will wait here in the parking lot,” Eric told her assuredly.

Sighing at his determinedness, Sookie merely nodded and went into the hospital. Eric found a parking space and closed his eyes, monitoring her emotions the entire time. She was remarkably at ease, for the most part. Every so often he could feel her anxiety spike briefly. As quickly as those bursts came, however, Sookie brought them back under control and maintained her concrete emotions.

Around nine, less than an hour after arriving, Sookie emerged from the hospital. Eric immediately got out of the car to meet her.

You could not have actually seen a doctor by now!”

Cops get served quickly,” Sookie mumbled. When Eric was standing nearly on top of her and sniffing her intently, Sookie rolled her eyes. “Seriously? You think I just sat around in the hospital for nearly an hour without seeing anyone? I had to get photographed for evidence, too, you know. I’m not going to risk my career by neglecting to do so.”

You seemed quite intent to do so at the station,” Eric reminded, verifying several different human scents on her, as well as antiseptics and adhesive.

Satisfied?” Sookie snarked when Eric eased away.

Yes.”

I just needed some time. The captain understood that.”

I know, but he could not feel what I felt. I was concerned about where your emotions were taking you.”

I’m fine,” she assured dully.

Eric shook his head in mild exasperation. “Physically, perhaps. I would argue that you are not fine physically, but I am certain you know better what a beating your body can take than I do. Mentally? You are not fine, Lover.”

Sookie tilted her head to the asphalt and scuffed her boot against it, sending loose black clumps spraying against her car’s tire. “I don’t know what I’m feeling,” she finally admitted. “Other than hungry… I feel sort of numb now.”

Smiling softly, Eric placed his hands on her shoulders. “Let me take you to dinner. We could go to a bar maybe? Low lighting, greasy food, and 90 proof gin?” his voice was laced with indulgent promises.

Flicking an unbidden tear away, Sookie sobbed on a laugh. “That actually sounds good right about now.”

Get in the car, then. I know a bar that is supposed to serve good food,” he encouraged, opening the passenger side door for her.

Sookie slid into the vehicle and leaned back carefully against her seat. Before Eric was behind the wheel, she had fallen asleep. Eric drove in silence, taking her limp hand in his and exalting at the comfort it brought him. Her warm hand radiated against his cooler one, reminding him that he had not lost her that day. Despite her stubbornness, she had proven her continued health and it brought him peace of mind.

After half an hour, Eric pulled up to a bar in Bossier. It was more of a lounge than a bar with its soft lighting, inviting booths, pub tables, and soft music.

“Sookie,” Eric whispered, squeezing her hand. She groaned in her sleep and Eric smiled. “Lover, did you still want to eat?” he asked her quietly, leaning over and kissing her lips until they responded.

Hi,” she mumbled against his mouth, reaching up tiredly to stroke his hair.

Hi,” he returned before pressing his lips once more briefly against hers. “Ready to eat?”

Yeah,” Sookie gave a wincing stretch.

Are you all right?”

Yeah, just my bruises from my vest,” she explained.

How bad?”

38 Special from about ten yards.”

I do not know the relevance of that,” Eric admitted.

Sookie made a face, but could not think of an appropriate description. Instead, she fell back on the old, “It feels like a major league hitter struck me three times in the back with a baseball bat.”

Where? I do not want to put my hands on you and hurt you,” Sookie sighed and flipped on the dome light before turning in her seat. When the light flicked back off, she looked at Eric curiously. “I do not need the light,” he told her simply and she nodded in understanding.

She unbuttoned her blouse and pulled it off with a soft moan of pain. Eric could already see some of the bruising even before she awkwardly pulled her tank top off of her back. Eric hissed at the sight.

That bad?” she asked.

Terrible!” he said between clenched teeth. His hand rose to carefully trace the angry black and blue blotches before kissing each of them in turn. They were as large in diameter as his fist, deep purple and red at the center. One was originating just below her shoulder blade, but discoloring the entire bone structure. The second was several inches down and just lateral of her spine. The third was on her lower right side, five inches above and to the right of her sacrum.

That was the scary one,” she whispered as Eric traced the third bruise. “I was leaning forward trying to cuff Jacobs when Nina shot me. That last one only caught the plate by a half inch,” Eric’s fingers faltered when she said this before kissing the welt just as he had the other two.


“Why did you tell me that?” Eric moaned with distress.

Because… I don’t know what I’m feeling. The more you know about what happened, the more you can help me… Come to grips with everything.”

I see,” he whispered. “Food?”

Food,” she agreed.

Drink?”

Definitely.”

Eric got out of the car and went to Sookie’s side, helping her from the vehicle. When she went to grab her blouse, she could not move her shoulders properly to put it back on. “Forget it!” she snapped.

I will help you,” Eric offered, taking her shirt from her.

No, it’s fine. The cool air actually feels good on it. Your hands felt good too,” she told him.

I am tempted to give you my blood to heal the injuries. I cannot bear looking at your face like that,” he confessed.

Well, I think my fellow officers will get mighty suspicious if I come back on Monday looking fresh as a daisy.”

I am sure they would understand you were reaping the benefits your lover can provide.”

Sookie laughed at a memory. “You know, everyone suspected I got laid last night.”

Is that so?”

Oh yeah! My entire department looked at me like I was from “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.”

Why?”

I was relaxed and fun. I was smiling more. I looked flirty and happy,” she listed.

Eric smiled sadly. “I wish I could have seen it,” he said as they walked into the lounge. They found a quiet, shaded corner, and Sookie accepted a menu from one of the waitresses shortly after they were seated.

Anything to drink while you look at the menu?” the young woman asked, straightening her black apron that blended seamlessly with her little black dress.

Gin and tonic, please,” Sookie replied quickly.

Okay, I’ll grab that while you find something to eat. Anything for you, Sir?” she asked of Eric.

Nothing, thank you,” Eric replied politely, staring at Sookie while she looked at her menu. When the server left, Eric asked, “Are you going to be able to lie on your back at all?”

Sookie looked up from the single page of food offerings, and raised her eyebrows. “Already hankering to lay me down?”

I have never had my mate battered before. I have an overwhelming compulsion to fuck you in response to how I am feeling about your injuries,” he told her.

And how do my injuries make you feel?” she asked.

Angry. Terrified. Concerned. Apprehensive… Many things. Mostly, I want to feel that you are well. I want to reassure myself that you are still here… It is a very confusing blend of emotion,” he confided.

Here’s your gin and-” the server froze at the sight of Sookie’s face. Before, the officer had her hair shielding the left side of her features. Now she was staring at Eric, and her bruises were well on display.

Thank you,” Sookie smiled at her, taking the drink.

Oh my God! Is he beating her? The poor girl!’ The server was thinking sympathetically. Her gaze narrowed on Eric and she scowled at him.

I’m a cop,” Sookie told the young woman carefully. “A man resisting arrest did this, not my boyfriend,” she gestured to Eric.

Oh!” The server reeled. “Wow! A cop? You are? You’re so tiny though!”

Sookie snorted. “All muscle,” she teased, flexing her arm.

Holy crap!” the younger woman laughed at the impressive definition of Sookie’s limb.

I’m… I’m Sookie,” she greeted awkwardly, unaccustomed to introducing herself by her first name. “This is Eric.”

Tess,” the server offered. “So, are you a patrol officer?”

Homicide Detective.”

Cool! Wait! Holy crap! You’re the one who busted that sex trade ring last year! I can’t believe I didn’t recognize… Well,” she grimaced at Sookie’s face.

Yeah, disfigurement can do that,” Sookie agreed.

Oh, sorry, I’m chatting away, and you wanted food. Have you decided on anything?”

Hmm… Is there garlic in the mozzarella sticks?” she asked.

Yeah,” Tess frowned, and then glanced quickly again at Eric, suddenly enlightened.

Could you tell me what on here doesn’t have garlic?” Sookie requested, turning the menu over.

Tess quickly pointed out several options, and Sookie decided on the Buffalo wing platter. “I’ll put that in for you,” the server announced before dismissing herself.

Sookie picked up her drink and took a long draw before pressing the cold glass carefully against her bruised cheek.

That must have been the longest conversation I have seen you carry on with a stranger,” Eric announced while her eyes gently closed against the ice cold glass.

She thought you were beating me. I had to set her straight.”

I could not have cared less.”

Well, I do care. Not just because it’s slander against how well you treat me, but because I don’t like the idea of anyone thinking I’d be with a man who beat me.”

Eric smiled at her prideful statement. “I would be greatly amused to see what became of a man who tried to lay a hand on you… Out of curiosity, what became of the culprit you apprehended that did that to your face?”

Sookie grinned devilishly. “Snapped cheekbone, concussion, and broken nose.”

I am glad to hear you gave better than you got.”

He wouldn’t have gotten a hand on me if Nina hadn’t shot me,” she scowled, bringing the straw to her lips for another hard pull of gin before pressing it back to her cheek.

How are you feeling about what happened today?” Eric asked smoothly, unassumingly.

Sookie sighed as she thought for a moment, and Eric could feel her sadness well though not as destructively as before. “I’m sad…and angry, but not at myself. I’m sad that Nina’s dead, and that I was the one who killed her. I’m angry that any of this even had to happen. If Jacobs hadn’t left the revolver in the house for Nina to use, maybe she wouldn’t have come after us. She definitely wouldn’t have been able to force me to shoot her. I’m angry that Nina is dead and Jacobs is not. If I could switch their places, I would.”

Eric nodded in understanding. “How does taking a life make you feel?”

Sookie sucked her straw back into her mouth, grinding the end of it between her teeth a moment. “Sad, maybe depressed? I didn’t join the police force because I wanted to be violent. I joined to save people from violence. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t enjoy the physical training I do as a cop. I love our hand to hand training options, and I love beating the crap out of the punching bag. I just don’t think of being aggressive like that to people. I think of not being a victim, and in return, saving others from being a victim when I train hard. Today… I couldn’t save Nina from being a victim. Not my victim, but Jacobs’. He was the one who put her in danger, not me. She was so in love with him. When she was dying, she asked if Jacobs was okay. She grabbed my wrist, and choked on her blood, but still managed to ask if he was okay.” Sookie shook her head in absolute marvel. “It’s scary to think of loving someone so much that you would let them put you in danger that way.”

It is scarier loving someone so much and knowing that they are in danger they put themselves in,” Eric said softly. “I care for you deeply, Sookie. I cannot say that it is love yet, but rising this evening and feeling your turmoil, not knowing what had happened, seeing your face, and discovering you had been shot… I have never felt so helpless or terrified than I did this early evening.”

I’m sorry you had to go through that, all the not knowing,” Sookie drained the remainder of her drink and set it aside.

Before Eric could respond, Tess returned. “Would you like another?” she asked, gesturing to the empty tumbler.

Yes, please,” Sookie answered. She did not miss the way her response made Eric’s eyes dilate. “What?” she laughed at his expression.

Eric chuckled as well when his spell of arousal was broken. “Apparently, I have a Pavlovian reaction to you saying that.”

Yes, please,” she husked, making Eric growl.

Careful, Sookie, or I will bend you over the table right now. I will not need to worry about your back that way, now will I?”

Before the woman could respond, Tess reappeared with a fresh drink, and Sookie brought it to her lips swiftly. After the server left, Sookie murmured, “Bathroom?”

Eric stared at her in surprise. At first, he wondered if she was asking him for permission to use the facilities, quickly making him question why she would ask. Then, he realized she was asking him to go to the bathroom with her.

Standing swiftly, Eric took her hand in his, and hauled the woman toward the restrooms. Pulling her through the door, he shoved it closed and put his back to the entrance before listening for any other women in the room.

Take off your trousers,” Eric growled as Sookie looked at him with hope.

As quickly as she could, Sookie bent over and untied her boots, slipping them off her feet before attacking the zipper and button of her slacks. When she was naked from the waist down, with the exception of her socks, which she left on as not to be barefoot on the bathroom floor, Sookie awaited her next instruction.

Eric grabbed her left hip, drawing her close as he brought his mouth to hers and ran his hand up her torso until he could yank her top and bra below her breasts. His left hand joined the assault, groping at one breast while his other hand held her shirt down. Sookie moaned into his mouth as his fingers tugged and plucked at her nipple before attacking the other.

Open my pants, Lover,” Eric told her gruffly while his hand strayed down between her legs. Sookie immediately undid his fly, reaching between the folds to grab hold of his cock. She rocked her hand tentatively around him as his fingers parted her nether lips and began stroking her. “Does the promise of fucking in public turn you on this much, Sookie?” Eric asked as he found his digits already coated in her juices.

Mmm,” she rasped when he twirled those dexterous fingers around her clit, “just the promise of having you does this to me.”

Is that so?” He chuckled against her mouth while he slid his back down the door until he was sitting cross legged on the floor. Sookie followed his movements and crowed happily as he pulled her into his lap. “We will have to do it this way in here. Do you know what to do?” he asked.

Sookie nodded, though it was a hesitant reply. She straddled his member and began to sink down on him. As she came closer to sheathing him entirely, she flinched away.

Slowly, Lover,” he cautioned, holding her hips in place. “It will feel deeper this way.”

Nodding once more in understanding, Sookie let him bounce her shallowly at first, increasing her arousal before pushing her down the remainder of the way. Her body cringed deliciously as he filled her completely, and she wrapped her arms around his neck as she buried the uninjured portion of her face into his throat.

So deep,” she whimpered.

Yes,” he agreed, giving his hips a slight buck to emphasize how deeply he could reach inside.

A hand on either side, Eric rolled her hips in a figure eight pattern, melding his pelvis against hers at just the right angle to cause her body to jolt in pleasure.

Uh! How do you find all the right spots?” she panted against his ear.

Your body tells me everything I need to know,” he whispered back before raising her up and then driving her back down repeatedly. “Touch yourself, Lover. I will not feel at peace until I feel you cum around me.”

Sookie crooned under her harsh breath at his request. Slowly, she reached down her body until she found her sensitive pleasure point. Tentatively she began to rub herself, twitching every time Eric hit another sweet spot inside her.

Just like that,” Eric encouraged as he felt her internal muscles begin to flex.

Moaning at his encouragement, her hand picked up speed, and Eric responded by thrusting frantically beneath her. Their pace intensified further as Eric captured a bouncing tit between his lips and began suckling hard, drawing the nipple between his blunt teeth and biting with an increasing pressure.

Eric,” she choked, her walls fluttering in their telling manner.

Yes, Sookie, keep going,” he coaxed.

Continuing to thrust and simultaneously propel her movements, Eric waited for the unmistakable sensation of her vise-like clenching. However, after several minutes he was frustrated when it did not begin.

Sookie, you have no need to be shy. It is only us. Always just us,” he reminded.

Mmhmm,” she agreed, and he could see the tension on the undamaged area of her face.

Frowning at the level of concentration on her face, Eric delved into the link he shared with her and read Resistance there.

You can cum, Sookie,” he murmured and threw his head back as his teeth clenched with the power of her orgasm. Sookie shouted his name as her walls clutched him violently, and his body, unbidden by him, responded with its own climax. “Fuck,” he snarled as her pussy milked him for all he was worth. He lightly banged his head against the door at the abrupt loss of control. “Fuck, Sookie, what sort of training have you given that pussy?” he demanded jokingly.

I… Don’t know… What you… Mean…” she said between gasps of air.

Eric held her carefully against his body while she collected herself. Mindful of her injuries, he played with her hair and let her relax around him. When he felt the throbbing around his shaft abate, Eric slowly lifted her off of his softening member and rose to set them back to rights.

Ready to go back to our table?” he asked after re-lacing Sookie’s boots.

Nodding mutely, Sookie went to the sink and washed her hands, laughing as Eric came over and did the same out of courtesy.

Sookie paused at the door to listen for any approaching minds before she opened it and lead Eric back to their seats. Her fresh gin and tonic was sweating, and the ice was severely melting when she sat back down.

Sookie groaned when she saw Tess coming over with her buffalo wings, a knowing smirk on her face. ‘God that sex sounded HOT!’ she thought with slight envy.

Here’s your food. I kept it warm for you,” Tess said with a wink.

Sookie groaned as the server walked away and grabbed her drink, taking a deep swig.

She knows, I take it?” Eric guessed.

Yeah, she heard us,” Sookie mumbled with a blush.

Eric merely laughed and gestured to her plate. “Well, eat your meal, and then I can whisk you back to my house. I am certain your dogs are in near hysterics for you by now.”

Oh no!” Sookie gasped before focusing on her food. She quickly devoured the plate, biting a stalk of celery every so often to ease the burn of the excessive vinegar. “Wow, this is so good!” she said after her fourth wing.

The cook here used to be a sous chef in New Orleans,” Eric commented while he watched her eat.

I wonder why he came here.”

His wife wanted to be closer to her family.”

How do you know so much about him?” Sookie asked.

I hired him.”

This is your bar?”

Lounge,” he corrected teasingly. “And yes, I own it.”

Why didn’t the server recognize you?”

I do little more than invest in this place. I gave Keith a rather free reign with it. He was a promising chef who dreamed of running a bar that served worthwhile food. Though his skills are exceptional, his ambitions did not match the necessary levels for an elite chef. He is not a very competitive person. Therefore, I handle the lounge’s finances; he handles the more social aspects like hiring employees.”

I’m still surprised the server didn’t know you,” Sookie said, down to her last wing.

That was actually Keith’s doing. He believes all customers should be treated the same, and he did not wish his staff to be tripping over themselves trying to give me better service than anyone else, and thereby neglecting other patrons. I was inclined to agree.”

Makes sense,” Sookie agreed as well, finishing her plate and pushing it away before downing the rest of her drink.

Are you ready to head back?”

Yeah… I’m just going to actually use the restroom this time,” she told him with a slight blush before rising from her seat and going to the bathroom.

Eric smiled to himself and flagged over Tess. After glamouring her memory of the bathroom sex from her mind so she could not tell the tale to anyone else, he paid their tab and left a hearty tip before rising from his seat and awaiting Sookie’s return.

Okay, I’m good to go,” Sookie announced, beaming as Eric wrapped her arm around his own.

Once they were in the car, Eric paused rather than turning the key in the ignition.

What’s wrong?” Sookie asked, noting his hesitation.

I have a question,” Eric began slowly.

Okay?” She frowned at his careful tone.

Sookie, are you under the impression that you need permission to orgasm?” he asked in that same tentative voice.

Sookie’s eyes widened. “I don’t?”

Eric groaned with annoyance at himself. “What did I do to you in three evenings to cause this much confusion?”

I just…” Sookie played with her hands embarrassedly, “assumed that’s how it worked.”

How did you come to that conclusion?” he asked in a rather conversational way, no humor or condescension present.

Well, the first time you told me to, I kind of needed you to,” she mumbled bashfully. “I was nervous, and… Well, I’d never felt like you were making me feel. I was… Shy…”

I understood that,” he nodded for her to continue.

Then… Well, last night… When… Before we did it… You had your fingers in me and you told me I couldn’t… Cum yet…” Eric bit back a groan when he realized the assumptions she had made. “And… Well, you always tell me to, and I just figured it was… A rule. I thought that’s how you do it right.”

Eric let out a self-deprecating sigh. “There are no rules, Sookie. At least not in the type of relationship I wish to have with you. There are such relationships that could require you to have my permission to orgasm, but that is a Dominant/submissive relationship. Which, in the future, if you wished to explore such a dynamic, I would be content to oblige. However, at this stage in our relationship, the control I exercise over you is purely to protect you from injury or help you let go of your more debilitating hesitations,” Eric looked at her confused expression and reached out to sooth the creases her thoughts had created on her face. He was not going to lie to himself; he had nurtured a form of Dominance and submission in their relationship because it was the best way he knew how to help her.

Until that moment, Eric had thought of himself as the more experienced half in their relationship and merely attempted to guide her along the way. The problem, he was realizing, stemmed from his complete lack of experience in a relationship rather than a mere sexual arrangement. They were both blind in this realm of intimacy, and Eric found himself scrambling to stay ahead of her. He was actually afraid she would discover he had no idea what he was doing, and was instead trying to soften the edges of what he did know. The only comfort came from her will power and trying to overcome her past and present fears. His hope, however, was not to continue the roles of Dominance and submission once she became more secure in her sexuality, and he had managed to discover what it was he should really be doing for her. “You were truly struggling to let go the first time I brought you to orgasm. After I had your blood, I could feel your Hesitation and Reluctance when you were on the edge, and I wrongfully assumed it was due to your unease with reaching orgasm.”


“Oh,” Sookie murmured quietly.

The time I told you not to cum, it honestly was so that I could acclimate you to the girth you would soon be taking. I wanted you to flex around my fingers so that it would not cause you much discomfort when I entered you.”

Sookie’s face was bright red from both the awkwardness of the conversation and the memories of her first night with Eric. “So,” she began meekly, “I can… I can just cum whenever I feel like it?”

Yes, unless you express a desire for me to prolong your wait.”

Sookie frowned, “Why would I do that?”

Eric shrugged. “Being made to wait can intensify the orgasm.”

Can you show me?”

Smirking, Eric nodded. “Yes, I can, but first, I want to lick, suck and fuck you for several evenings, until you are cumming at liberty as many times as you damn well please. I want to be certain that you are capable of achieving satisfying orgasms without me giving you permission to do so.”

Sookie squirmed in her seat. “Can we start when we get back to the house?” she asked breathlessly.

Eric gave her a Cheshire Cat grin. “Absolutely, Sookie.”

On to Chapter Eight

Never End Ch.06

Chapter Six

Chapter Six: Sleepless Overs

All settled in, girls?” Sookie crooned at Mags and Junes when Eric returned from disappearing with her overnight bag, and the dogs’ travel bag was placed on the kitchen counter. Sookie kept a travel bag for her dogs prepared at all times in the event that on a whim she went to visit her Gran.

Are you all settled in?” Eric asked when he came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I never thought we would get here.”

He was, of course, referring to the constant stop and go between her apartment and the ten miles to his house. First, she had realized she had left her flowers in the car, and Eric had offered to run them back up to her apartment. Then, when he returned, her stomach had growled loudly, and he insisted that she at least stop somewhere for drive-thru. Finally, about halfway to his house and half a cheeseburger meal later, Sookie suddenly pulled over to ask what he would do about his car. That had lead to a fifteen-minute roadside discussion about his ability to fly.

At last they were at his home with Mags and Junes instantly claiming his couch.

I’m ready to get back into bed,” she admitted, biting her lip bashfully.

Squeezing her tightly to him, Eric asked, “Do you think you can keep yourself calm long enough for a quick tour?”

Sighing with an expression of great effort, Sookie muttered, “Maybe if you make it super quick.”

Laughing, Eric showed her around the house, explaining how his security system worked as well as the codes for arming and disarming so she could leave during the day for work or food. He apologized profusely for not having food in the house, but admitting that he had not anticipated her coming home with him. He had not felt compelled to admit the offer to invite her home was an impulsive one that he had been surprised to have requested.

Shortly after that they arrived in Eric’s room, and Sookie stared in wonder while they went through one door, only to find a four foot long hallway and another keypad next to a second door.

Light safety measure,” he explained, and punched in a number while reciting it to her. Sookie thumped her hand against the wall before going through the door. “Cinderblock reinforced,” he explained when there was no echo.

Wow,” she exclaimed, surprised at all the measures he had taken.

Eric merely smiled at her wonder and flicked on the lights for the room. “There is a bathroom there,” he told her, gesturing to a door diagonally off the entrance. Sookie noticed her duffle bag sitting atop of his dresser and realized this was where he had gone with it when she was settling in her dogs.

With a toilet?” she asked in surprise.

Yes, it already existed at the time, and I felt no need to remove it.”

Sookie tilted her head curiously, “I didn’t think a master bedroom and bathroom would not have windows..?”

Oh, they did, I had them removed and bricked up when I reinforced the walls.”

That makes sense.”

Sookie wandered around the room taking in the crisp blue of the walls, the vibrancy of the bamboo flooring and the deep wood tones of the furniture that seemed to subdue the high contrast of the floors and walls. The bed was a deeper blue than the walls, but in the same oceanic color palette.

It’s very relaxing in here,” she commented.

It is one of the few rooms where I spend much of my time,” he confessed.

Oh?”

A few hours before and after dawn, a couple hours before sunset.”

You don’t spend much time at your house?”

Not really. I never bring anyone here. Most of my fucking is done at Fangtasia.”

Sookie cocked her head to the side, “Why did you bring me here?”

Because I wanted to hold you while you slept, even if I could not have a memory of it,” he admitted.

Biting her lip shyly, Sookie hid behind her hair while she stared at the bed once more. “You say stuff like that…and it… It makes me happy…and scared.”

Why does it make you happy?” he asked.

She fiddled with a lock of her hair as she murmured, “It makes me feel as if I’m your girlfriend or something.”

Another smile lit his face. “Why does it make you scared?”

You know why,” she whispered.

Because I could leave you?”

She nodded. “Because I sort of want you to want me that way.”

I thought you wanted superficial last night?”

You told me to let you know if things changed,” There was no denying that her reaction to his flowers had been far more than lust fueled fantasy. ‘Not running’ had struck a much deeper chord than carnal motivations. Sookie had exposed the grim birth of her path toward law enforcement, and to have Eric accept that, even begrudgingly, drew her to the vampire.

That I did.”

Pushing her hair behind her ear she asked, “Is that going to be a problem?”

Eric shook his head. “Not at all.”

Why’s that?”

Because I sort of wanted you to want me to want you that way,” he teased.

Really?”

Eric reached to push the hair on the other side of her face behind her ear. “Yes, really,” He pressed his forehead to hers as he confessed. “I was infatuated with you the second you walked into my club. By the end of last night, I wanted very much to give you everything and anything you could possibly want or need,” He planted a chaste kiss on the tip of her nose. “However, I know how injured you are emotionally. I know that I need to move at your pace and your pace alone. I agreed to that superficial fucking because it was what you thought you wanted. I held back when you unknowingly pushed your limits. I pushed when your emotional injuries kept you from going toward what you truly wanted.”

It seems kind of impulsive for you to invest so much time and energy in someone you met two weeks ago,” she mumbled.

Eric laughed a bit. “It might to you, but I am over a thousand-years-old and have only created one progeny in Pam. I am not moved to such strong motivations often. When I felt this pull toward you, I wanted to focus on nothing else.”

So, you’re not just impulsive and fickle?”

Not at all.”

Then you want to keep me around for a while?”

Sookie, I would keep you around forever if you would allow me,” He pulled away to look into her eyes as he said, “But you are not sure enough of what you want yet. That is why I want you to be honest about your wants and needs. I want to prove to you a million times that I can be anything you need of me, and I will be any and all of those things, gladly, happily if it means you will stay.” He stroked his hand against her cheek before continuing, “I can feel that this is getting to be too much for you. So, we will leave it there for now.”

Thank you,” she answered gratefully. “That was quite a bit for me to take in… Still… Does that mean I can call you my boyfriend?”

Yes, you may,” he laughed joyously.

You won’t call me Miss Stackhouse or Detective Stackhouse anymore?”

Miss, rarely. Detective… Perhaps if we are playing some dirty games,” he winked.

Will you tell people I’m your girlfriend?”

If the sentiment pleases you, I will do that,” He nodded in consent.

You don’t care for saying boyfriend and girlfriend?”

I am unaccustomed to it, but not against doing so.”

Because it’s what I want?”

Eric smiled. “Yes, and because it makes you happy. I always want to make you happy.”

You do,” she assured.

Unfortunately,” Eric began slowly, “I do have one heavier topic that I need to address.” Sookie groaned, pulling away from him and flopping onto his bed. Eric had to focus his attention away from how her breasts jiggled with such a violent movement. “It is about an error in judgment I made earlier this evening.”

Sookie’s head shot up, and he felt her anxiety spike. “Wh-when we were…”

Eric rolled his eyes. Of course Sookie would think that he was regretting having sex with her! Silly girl. “When I licked your palm before we left the apartment that was a big mistake.”

Sookie flushed at the memory. “How so?”

Your blood was part of the mixture as was mine since quantities of it are infused with my emissions, although it was actually the blood from my finger that qualified the exchange. My emissions are not quite enriched enough to accomplish such a feat.”

You had my blood last night and it didn’t matter,” she pointed out.

True, but you had not consumed my blood that evening. Tonight you did, and I, inadvertently, drank yours.”

What’s the big deal?” Sookie asked, crossing her legs on the bed, too relieved at knowing he did not regret sleeping with her to be concerned over a little blood swapping.

If a human and vampire share blood in the same evening, it is a mutual exchange. If they were to do three mutual exchanges, The Bond would be forged, and they would be connected eternally from then on.”

Connected how?” Sookie asked.

Eric sat down next to her on the bed, taking her hand in his and playing with her fingers in a somewhat self-conscious gesture. “The human would be able to feel the vampire the way that I can feel you right now. Our emotions would be available to one another at all times. The way humans speak through gestures of love rather than words, but internalized. You could send affection or desire to me from great distances, and I could send those same emotions back to you. We could find one another anywhere on the planet.”

When Sookie’s hands stiffened, Eric could hear her heart begin hammering in her chest. “How do you break a Bond?”

You do not. It can only be severed in True Death. If the human-half committed to becoming a vampire, the Bond would survive the metamorphosis, Bonded Mates for all eternity. If the human chose not to cross over when they died, their Bonded usually meets the sun.”

They kill themselves?”

Surviving without one’s Bonded is… Unrecorded.”

Frowning to herself, Sookie considered what he was telling her. “What if the vampire died, not the human?”

The same thing, only without the combustion. It would be poison or slitting wrists. Either way, the human half would find a way to kill themselves. Although, I can only recall one instance where the human outlived their vampire mate,” he confessed.

So, they can’t be separated. Ever,” Sookie considered his words.

Never,” he agreed.

And that’s three mutual exchanges?” Sookie asked.

Yes. I did not intend to broach this topic at such a stage in our relationship, but seeing as I unintentionally set the possibility into motion, I knew you should be made aware. Accidents are not something I am accustomed to, but there you have it.”

I appreciate that,” she answered quietly.

Tell me what you are thinking?” he requested merely because he was surprised that she was not in a state of panic after what he had told her. Her emotions were rather peaceful, despite the spike in her heart rate.

Honestly?”

No,” he dead-panned, “lie to me.”

Rolling her eyes, Sookie admitted, “I’m intrigued. More than I wish I was…”

How do you mean?”

If we were Bonded, you could never leave me,” she whispered. “Still, all of this is too much. Too new. I can’t know yet if I want ‘forever’, you know?”

I do know,” he assured. “I did not wish to put such considerable thoughts on your mind just yet. I had hoped to put this off for several months-”

Eric, I’m not scared off,” she reassured him. “We’ll try to keep your blood out of my mouth for the time being, okay? We’ll revisit this later, when I know what it’s like to be in a relationship.”

Eric let out a relieved sigh. “That sounds like the perfect plan.”

Good, now I believe you promised to show me something when we got here?” she hinted with a blush.

Grinning at her, Eric leaned toward the woman; planting a hand on either side of her while he captured her lips with his own. Carefully, he eased her once more onto the bed before pulling back and peeling up her shirt.

Hey,” she scolded in annoyance, “I thought you were gonna show me your… Um…”

My cock?” he finished for her.

Yeah. That,” she said.

Say it, Sookie,” he commanded amusedly.

Can I see your… Cock?”

Smiling at her hesitation, Eric rose from the bed and began undressing. When he stood naked before her, he watched with entertainment while she tried to force her eyes to appraise him. After some time her vision finally wandered between his legs before darting away and playing with her hair.

He could feel a dose of confusion coming from her and his curiosity piqued.

Something wrong, Lover?”

It’s not as big as I remember,” she confessed.

Eric laughed, “I am working up to it.”

Oh, it doesn’t just…” Her hand flicked with a sharp movement to gesticulate his ‘rising to occasion’.

Chuckling deeply now, Eric explained, “Lover, I would bust a zipper every time you walked past if my erections came that swiftly.” Sookie placed the bent knuckle of her index finger between her teeth as she considered his meaning. “Do you want to touch my cock, Sookie?” After a moment’s pause, she nodded and tentatively reached for him, surprised when he tilted away from her caress. “Say it, Sookie,” he encouraged, wanting to help her overcome her verbal shyness.

Fidgeting, Sookie mumbled, “I want to touch your cock.” He quickly grabbed her wrist, bringing her hand to grasp his shaft, and clenched her fingers around him. Slowly now, he helped her find a rhythm to stroke him, and Sookie eventually turned her head to watch what she was doing. She could feel a throbbing building beneath her hand and marveled as the fingers that surrounded him grew further and further apart until they could no longer touch. “What makes it throb? You don’t have a pulse.”

It is my body forcing more of the blood I have consumed to the organ. I do not know why it throbs rather than steadily swells. Although, I think the pulsing sensation is much more pleasurable than if it merely built up pressure,” he explained.

Th-this is how big it gets?” she asked in breathless surprise.

Almost,” he laughed at her expression. “Do you want to put my cock in your mouth, Sookie?”

Knowing what he would say if she did not voice her desire, she nodded and answered, “I want to put your cock in my mouth, Eric.”

Good girl,” he whispered, using the hand that had been assisting her stroke, and placing it instead at the base of her skull. He urged her face toward him, and Sookie parted her lips automatically to receive his shaft. She recoiled violently when he struck the back of her throat, and she coughed while trying to settle the lurch her stomach had given.

S-sorry,” she mumbled in embarrassment.

You are doing just fine, Sookie,” he said softly. “You do not have to take the whole thing in your mouth. Just take the first two inches or so between your lips, and stroke the rest of me with your hands,” he instructed patiently. Following his guidance, Sookie found the technique much more manageable. “You do that so well, Lover,” he moaned, running his fingers through her hair and twirling the strands luxuriously. “Explore however you like,” he encouraged.

One of her hands immediately abandoned his cock and traveled up his thigh to trace the sharp lines of his lower abdominal muscles. It highlighted that line between his upper thigh to his abs several times before returning between his legs and exploring the sack below where her mouth was working. She tested the weight of his balls, squeezing them experimentally before pulling her mouth from the head of his cock and drawing her tongue along a large blue vein. When her mouth came to his scrotum, she sucked his balls into her mouth while her hand continued to stroke him.

Enough,” he growled, making Sookie pull away in surprise, a little hurt. When he shoved her away onto her back, she desperately tried to discover what she had done wrong. While Eric yanked off her shorts, shoved her thighs apart, and plunged his tongue inside of her, she realized why he had stopped her so abruptly.

I was doing good?” she panted her inquiry when his tongue took her breath away.

Too good,” he snapped, thrusting a finger inside of her with just enough force to be aggressive, but not enough to hurt her. A second finger joined the first and Sookie twisted beneath his technique. “Apparently it was good for you, too. You took two fingers easily this time. Are you going to let the third one in just as nicely?” he asked as his index finger attempted to gain entry. “No, still nice and tight.” With a bit more wheedling, his third finger worked its way inside, and Sookie sobbed when his mouth finally began playing with her clit.

Please, please, God,” she cried as her body coiled, teetering on some precipice she had only discovered the previous night.

Do not give Him my credit, Sookie. Call out the name of the one doing this to you,” Eric snarled. “Cum and scream my name!”

ERIC!” Her wail rang in his ears as her inner walls attempted to crush his invading digits.


Before their flexing could ebb, Eric once again replaced his fingers with his cock and delighted when their throbbing renewed. With a single movement, he was smashing his pelvis against hers, feeling her thrash violently beneath him.


“Yes, Sookie, keep cumming around my cock,” he husked into her ear, taking short, deep strokes against her. He kissed the soft spot behind her ear, and then tugged at the lobe with his teeth. She jerked sharply as she wept beneath him. When he reached between them to play with her clit, she mewled and began writhing. Her hands lashed out, gripping and scratching anywhere she could find. She turned her head to the side and bit down on his forearm where he was bracing his weight.

Eric,” she whined against his flesh still clenched between her teeth.

Yes, Lover?” he asked in a teasing voice as he changed his pace to long, slow, and luxurious strokes. He felt her walls finally sedate in their throbbing, and he contemplated the thoroughly ruffled woman beneath him amusedly.

What was that?” she panted.

Hmm?” he hummed curiously.

That wasn’t like any of the other three orgasms you’ve given me,” she sucked in oxygen greedily between words.

Well, if you can still keep count of how many you have had, then you can expect even more before the evening is over,” he said as he found the sweet spot where his maximum girth rubbed against her the most sensitive part of her inner walls. He shortened his stroke to rekindle her passion, and hissed in her ear, “I want to feel you cum around my cock over and over until you cannot keep your eyes open any longer.”

Sookie mewled at his demand. Her body was already coiling around him once more, and when he adjusted his movements, crushing his coarse curls against her begging clit, she arched painfully.

You can do it, Lover. Cum again and again like before.”

Tears in her eyes, Sookie exploded around him, feeling his shaft spending inside of her and filling her again like earlier. He roared and cursed against her breast, biting it fiercely with his sharp fangs. While he nursed the wound she felt her orgasm evolve into something more. Her entire body thrummed with life. Her limbs felt weightless. Her brain was empty of everything but the joy and pleasure spilling out of every pore.

Pulling Sookie onto her side to hold her to his body, Eric spoke soft sounds of pleasure as she continued to throb around him. He could not remember a woman’s orgasm taking as long to subside, but he smoothed her hair while he continued holding her, kissing her neck sedately to ease her back into cognitive thought.


Eventually she opened her damp eyes again, and Eric smiled at their glassy appearance. “Feeling well?” he asked softly.

Sookie smiled up at him and reached her arms around his neck to pull Eric into a gentle kiss. “Amazing,” she assured. “I can still count though,” she taunted tiredly.

Perhaps, but your body cannot take any more. Those were some quality orgasms you were having,” he teased right back. “I fear if I gave you another, your body might forget where it should be focusing your blood flow.”

You mean into your mouth?” She pointed to her breast in a playfully, accusing manner. “Aren’t you afraid of another mutual exchange?”


“There needs to be a sunset between mutual exchanges,” he assured. “This makes me wonder if I should give you a bit more blood. I do not want you in any pain tomorrow…”

I’ll be fine. Really, I don’t feel any discomfort.”

That is because my emissions have similar healing properties as my blood,” he explained. “Although that will not help your poor, little clit.” He looked between their bodies with a bit of chagrin. “You will probably be quite tender there.”

That’s okay. A little reminder of you to get me through the day,” she said with a wink.

Eric smiled at her coyness. “I enjoy this side of you.”

Which side?”


“This flirty side. You are so much more brazen now.”

It’s all you, Eric,” she assured. “I couldn’t be like this with anyone else. Not because…” she paused to let out a deep, toe curling yawn. “Not because I’d be too shy…” she yawned again despite her best efforts to resist. “But because I wouldn’t want them when I can have you.”

Eric smiled at her confession. “That is lovely to hear from you, Sookie. You are falling asleep. We will talk more when I rise tomorrow.”

I don’t want to sleep,” she pouted.

It is almost three in the morning and you worked all day,” he pointed out.

But…” she tried to bite back another yawn. “But I want to stay with you.”

I will be here,” he whispered. “I will hold you the whole time.”

My dogs,” she mumbled, and he felt her body twitch as if to rise.


“I will let them out once you are asleep,” he placated her objection. “Then I will come back and wrap you up in my arms.”

As her eyes drooped tiredly, Eric returned to soothing her hair until her breathing evened out and she fell asleep. He did not know how long he held her before he slowly raised her thigh enough to slip out of her sated entrance, but she let a forlorn moan escape her lips at his absence, even in her sleep.

I hope you always want me so near, my Sookie,” he spoke softly, kissing her crown before climbing out of bed.

Eric grabbed his jeans from the floor, sliding them back on before leaving the bedroom. When he exited the second door, Junes and Mags were lying on either side of the threshold looking up at him expectantly while he closed it behind him.

Come on, girls,” he ordered, leading the dogs to the patio door of his house. He opened it for them and the shepherds took off into the night. Leaning against the frame, he watched them run around the acreage until they were ready to come back inside. Mags was noticeably quicker than her sister, and came darting to him when she was content to do so. She immediately jumped onto the couch and turned around several times before settling in.

Junes took her time coming back to the door, sniffing around interestedly at the new surroundings before gracing the vampire with her decision to come back inside. Like her sister, Junes went straight to the couch and jumped onto it, making herself comfortable.

Night, girls,” Eric whispered, returning to his safe room, engaging the security system, and finally curling once more against Sookie’s back. His arms enveloped her loosely so she would not have any trouble escaping when she awoke. He spent the remainder of the dark hours caressing her skin and memorizing every aspect of her scent.

Finally, shortly after daybreak he had determined her aroma. Sunshine. She was the closest he would ever come to smelling sunlight, and it was far grander than the real star could ever be.

On to Chapter Seven

Never End Ch. 05

Chapter Five

 

Chapter Five: Admiring

Sookie grumbled to herself while she returned to her desk after going to the vending machine only to be forced to walk clear across the plaza for a bag of pretzels because the machine nearest to her department was out of order. On top of that, she needed to make another appointment to speak with Marla in order to attempt gleaning any possible locations where her husband may have fled. By the time she returned to her desk, her captain, two lieutenants, a detective, and Trent were perched over her work station like a kettle of hovering vultures.

Who are they from?” Lieutenant Somnar hissed.

Trent, did she say something to you?” Captain Kleinman asked excitedly.

It has to be some sort of threat,” Detective Murphy growled.

Can’t she just be a girl with a boyfriend? Stackhouse is private; she wouldn’t go spouting about a boyfriend to us,” Trent laughed at Murphy’s deduction.

Sookie approached the cluster of men quietly. “What’s going on?”

All five men spun around, returning guilty looks her way while she watched Lieutenant Hartmann try to discretely place a small note card back into a rather impressive vase of red roses.

Flowers for you,” Murphy grumbled, his eyes widening as Sookie’s face paled instantly. “You don’t know who sent them to you?” he asked in alarm.

Sookie reached out shakily for the note that Hartmann had failed to conceal. “What does it say?”

Dunno,” all five men mumbled, and looked away, suddenly finding floors, walls, and ceilings more fascinating than the roses on her desk were a few minutes ago.

She would have laughed at their act, but her heart was pounding. Who would send me flowers? Was Murphy right? Is this a threat? She quickly began thinking of all the criminals she had assisted in locking up, wondering who had recently been considered for parole. I need to check my little black book. Rather than listings of old flames, Sookie’s book catalogued several felons with reminders about impending releases.

Bringing the card to her face, Sookie read it quickly, causing her heart to slam frantically against her ribs.

~Not running – E

E?

Her galloping heart hiccuped suddenly, and Sookie’s bloodless face immediately flushed crimson as she understood the meaning of the note. Eric. He was not scared off by her. She was going to spend more time with him. She was going to feel more of him. She was-

Oh My God, Detective Stackhouse is biting her lip! Hartmann thought in alarm.

She’s blushing; Trent’s mind was a burst of surprise.

Dear, God, is she panting? Murphy seemed moderately offended by her reaction.

Good for her, her captain’s thoughts shocked her most of all.

Er,” Sookie mumbled, fumbling awkwardly with the note, “just… umm…” She did not know what to say. Any word would be too much information. Her face had already been far too telling. Part of her wanted to be angry at Eric for embarrassing her in front of her colleagues, but another side of her argued that the flower arrangement was not over the top. Had she not been such a romantically inept individual, the gesture may not have been so vastly intriguing for her co-workers. Still, even after the congregation around her desk had broken up, Sookie could not look at the vase without flushing timidly.

At the end of the day, Sookie walked out of the precinct with her floral arrangement hugged to her chest and set it gently in her car before calling Eric.

Northman,” he greeted in his usual fashion although he now knew her phone number when she called.

The flowers were from you, right?” she blurted out in slight panic.

Of course they were from me. You do not have a secret admirer I need to hunt down, correct?” Eric laughed.

Sitting in her silent car, Sookie shuffled with the card that had come with her flowers. “They’re very pretty,” she murmured.

I apologize for having them sent to your office that way. I know you are not open to your private world meshing with your professional world.”

That’s true, but I can appreciate an occasional gesture like that… One of my colleagues thought the roses were some sort of threat,” she admitted with a chuckle. “Actually, I thought they were for a second, too.”

Hmm, I suppose ‘Not running’ could be construed as a threat. However, I wanted to assuage your parting remark last night as well as not give away too much information in the note in the event others read it.”

Oh, they did. You can’t send flowers into a room full of investigators without someone snooping. It’s like putting a pile of sugar next to an ant hill.”

Eric laughed for a bit, “Were you planning on leaving your work parking lot any time soon? You should have been here by now, and I have not even heard your engine start.”

I should be where by now?”

Home.”

Are you at my apartment?” Sookie gasped in surprise.

I am.”

Why!?”

It is Friday.”

Sookie froze for a split-second at the realization that it was, indeed, Friday. Her hands scrabbled for her keys, dropping them twice on the car floor before scraping them into the ignition. “My Bluetooth’s about to kick on,” she warned breathlessly, making the vampire laugh.

Excited, are we?” he asked once the phone kicked over to her in car speaker.

Umm,” she mumbled, trying to think of how to respond. She was excited. Terrified, too. What he had done to her the previous night had her body responding strongly to the memory, and she wondered at what degree of arousal Eric would label her in that moment. Personally, she would have been tempted to rub herself at this point were it not for the fact there was an all too willing vampire waiting at her apartment to do that for her. “Shoot!”

What?”

I have to take care of Mags and Junes when I get home,” she fretted, passing a truck that had the nerve to go the speed limit and keeping her from being in bed with Eric that much sooner.

I have already seen to your dogs,” Eric assured. “That trick about cutting a measuring cup to the proper food portion is quite clever. Very simple for someone to feed them in your absence.”

How did you get in my apartment?” Sookie frowned, remembering that vampires needed to be invited by the resident before they could enter.

I pick locks, remember?”

Who invited you?” she clarified.

I convinced your landlord to do that. There are always tricks to these things and many available opportunities when people reside in apartments.” A cold shiver went down Sookie’s spine at that knowledge. “Have I overstepped?”

No… Well, yes, but I don’t mind. You’re saving me time that I’d rather be spending with you,” she assured. “Although, I’m thinking I may buy a house now.”

Eric chuckled at that. “I could find you a good deal on a modest two bedroom. I am quite passable in real estate.”

I’ll think about that… Eric, vampires have a good nose, right?”

Yes,” he chortled. “Why?”

Did you smell anyone else in my apartment?”

Admittedly, your dogs mask a bit of the scent, but I did notice a few old scents… Should they not be here?”

Sookie pondered for a moment, trying to remember the last time she had Gran over. “How old?”

About two weeks… Maybe a bit longer. As I said, the dogs obscure the scent.” Sookie held her breath a moment. “Should this scent not be here?”

Is it a vampire scent?” Sookie asked in a whisper.

It is.”

Exhaling a long breath, she told him, “No, it shouldn’t be there. Why would you think it should be?”

I thought you might have come in close contact with a vampire on the streets or at work and the scent had lingered. That sort of thing happens from time to time.”

Not that close a contact,” Sookie grumbled.

I will deal with it.”

How?”

I know this scent. It is not an issue.”

Are you sure?”

Absolutely. If he were to come again, he would smell me and run for the hills.”

Is it Compton?”

Eric paused a moment. “No… Why did you believe it was him? How do you know him?”

I can’t say how I know him, but I thought it was him because he’s been reading several books I’ve recently finished,” she explained. “It made me suspicious.”

Would they be those Dan Brown books?”

Yes.”

They were quite entertaining. A bit too conspiracy theory for my general interest, but good.” Sookie pulled into her parking space and cut her engine. “It seems I will see you in a moment, Lover. Do not keep me waiting long.” Eric hung up the phone and Sookie sat in her car in silence, staring out the windshield as she took a personal inventory of her physique.

She had hit the station’s gym late in her shift and grabbed a shower afterward, so she knew she would smell rather clean. She knew she would be using the gym that day, so she had shaved that morning. Reaching into her glove box she grabbed her tin of Ice Breakers and popped one before looking in the rearview mirror and running her index finger briskly over her teeth to dislodge any plaque that might have accumulated. They were surprisingly smooth considering it was now evening. Pulling out her hair tie, she smoothed out the notch the elastic had created, her hair still slightly damp from her post workout shower. Thankfully, it would dry wavy and not leave a noticeable dent in the flow of her hair.

Taking a deep breath, the young woman grabbed her duffle bag out of the passenger seat and climbed out of her car. When she reached the front door of her apartment, she could barely keep from nearly running full speed up the stairs to her personal residence. Before she could reach for the handle, a sense of unease filled her.

Was she ready to do this with Eric Northman? She had only known him for little more than a week. Of course, she had waited a quarter century to want to do this with any man. Still, part of her insisted on berating her flippant attitude. Quickly, Sookie squashed that concern by reminding herself that Eric had agreed to prolong their arrangement, asserting that their evening would not be the one night stand Sookie had always predicted for her first time.

Just suck it up, Stackhouse! Sookie snapped to herself and opened the door.

Mags and Junes jumped at her excitedly, “My girls!” Sookie squealed as she always did when she returned home, dropping her duffle, and wrapping an arm around the middle of each dog as she nuzzled against their furry bodies.

They are very well trained,” Eric commented, leaning against her breakfast bar. “How old are they?”

Seven. They’re sisters,” Sookie told him as Junes lapped under her jaw happily.

How old were they when you got them?”

Eight weeks. I got them as a graduation present to myself. I only intended to get one, but they were the last two in their litter. I couldn’t make myself leave one behind.”

How did you come up with their names?”

Oh!” Sookie laughed as Mags leaned into her, nearly toppling Sookie. “Magnolia and Juniper. Mags and Junes for short.”

Eric smiled. “Very pretty names.”

Thanks,” Sookie rose from her crouch and fiddled with her car keys a moment. “So, umm, what do we do now?”

Eric shrugged. “That is up to you. Have you eaten dinner yet?”

No,” she told him.

Did you have food here? Would you like me to take you for food?”

I usually grab take-out on Fridays,” she explained.

But not tonight?”

Sookie fumbled with her keys some more. “I forgot it was Friday, and then you called and… I was anxious to get home.”

The good anxious, I hope.”

Sookie smiled bashfully, hiding behind her hair. “Yes, the good anxious.”

Eric returned her smile and closed the distance between them. “Would you like to eat later, then, Ms. Stackhouse?” Sookie nodded slowly, losing herself in his gaze. “Would you like me to take you to your bedroom?”

Er, it’s kind of a mess,” she admitted in embarrassment.

I kind of straightened up a little while I was waiting,” he admitted as well.

Sookie took that moment to look around. She noted that her magazines were in a tidy pile on the coffee table that appeared wiped down, and the dishes were done and drying on the rack. Thankfully, Sookie left very few dishes in the sink, usually only from breakfast, and she was extremely grateful that last night had been a ‘clean the bathroom’ night.

You cleaned my apartment?” Sookie gaped.

Straightened up. You are quite meticulously clean. I would not have said your bedroom was a mess.” At her expression, the vampire blanched, “And I overstepped again. I promise that I did not actively snoop around your apartment. That is not a reassurance meant in lieu of an apology. I do apologize.”

Sookie tilted her head, absorbing his expression. He seemed uncharacteristically nervous. I make him nervous? Me!? “Oh, then, apology accepted, and, umm, I would like you to take me to the bedroom,” she mumbled.

Eric closed the distance between them and lifted Sookie into his arms before carrying her toward her room down the short hallway. When the dogs tried to follow, Sookie murmured a half-hearted, “Stay,” before Eric captured her mouth with his and closed the door behind them.

Setting her on the bed, Eric promptly stripped off his shirt and tossed it to the floor before reclaiming her lips and leaning her back against the mattress. “I thought you might appreciate me keeping the nudity better balanced this time,” he teased.

How considerate,” she gasped against his mouth when his hands gently tickled her sides. One of those hands came to tangle in her hair, holding her face steady as he kissed her deeply. “Is this all right, Eric?” she asked tentatively, placing a hand on his chest.

Eric smiled against her mouth. “You may touch me anywhere and however you like, Sookie.”

I want you to enjoy yourself, too,” she murmured uncertainly.

They are your hands touching me. I will enjoy myself,” he reassured her.

Empowered by his statement, Sookie let her other hand join her exploration of his torso. She began memorizing the lines of his hard muscles, impressed by the prominence of his obliques more so than his washboard abs where so many gym rats focused.

What were you when you were human?” Sookie mumbled into his mouth. Eric disengaged their lips to look at her curiously, wondering what had brought that question to her mind. “Your obliques are really toned. I only see that on fitness coaches and body builders.”


Enlightened, Eric chuckled and told her, “I was a Viking. Lots of physical training and battles.”

Oh,” She pulled his face back to hers, her legs wrapping around his waist while her hand ran from his sternum to his neck and back again.

Surprised that his former life still did not give her any pause for contemplation, Eric returned his focus to kissing her, allowing his own hands to roam over her body. When her curious fingers found his nipple and tugged on it, Eric responded by squeezing her breast with equal force. Sookie hissed into his mouth in response, but he was aware of the pleasure behind the sound.

Frenzied by her passionate noise, Eric grabbed the tail of her shirt and began pulling it from her body, and then reached behind her and unhooked her bra to expose her breasts. His mouth descended on one rosy peak while his hand cupped the other. He paid them far greater attention this evening than he had the previous, and by the time he was kissing down her belly, Sookie was rocking her hips excitedly.

Oh, yes, please,” she crooned when he loosened her pants and shoved them, along with her panties, off of her legs. He damned her boots when he had to pause briefly to unlace them, but he quickly had her boots and socks tossed across the room. Grabbing her by the ankles, Eric yanked her hips to the edge of the bed and shoved her thighs apart before encasing her womanhood with his mouth, “OH YES!”

Eric bit back a groan as he took his first taste of her that evening. “You are much more aroused than you were when I got to this point last night,” he pointed out.

Mmm, really?” she asked, tangling her fingers in his hair as she arched against the caress of his tongue.

Eric’s reply was a moan while his tongue wriggled between her folds to taste more of her essence. After getting a momentary fill, he replaced his tongue with a finger, slowly working it into her hole. “Let me know if anything hurts,” he murmured before placing his lips over her clit and sucking it into his mouth. Sookie jerked at the action, but then flinched when her motion drove his finger in too deeply.

Ah, that kinda hurt,” she told him breathlessly.

Eric frowned slightly at her admission. “That may be slightly problematic.”

Why?” she asked anxiously.

Normally I can deflower a woman painlessly. Your hymen seems a bit stubborn,” he laughed slightly. “I am sorry, Lover, but I might not be able to keep all the bite out of it.”

Sookie snorted. “Bite.”

Eric chuckled as well before returning to pleasuring her. Under usual circumstances, he would not have broken a woman’s concentration while he was seeing to her, but Sookie Stackhouse was not quite normal. He had to know his boundaries, especially after breaching boundaries twice already, and he had to make her aware of inevitable little pains. Although she mostly spoke of emotional pain being inevitable for her, he knew that physical ones could cause similar reactions.

Sookie was far too dependent on keeping herself in control, and Eric had to ease her into relinquishing that power to him. It was a line he had to navigate carefully, for it swayed either direction quite drastically depending on the circumstance.

Do you… Do you, umm, sleep with a lot of virgins?” Sookie asked quietly.

I have slept with many virgins, but it is not a hobby,” Eric smirked up at her. “Over the course of my existence, fair amounts have crawled into my lap.”

Is that why you weren’t turned off by me being one?” Her voice was so soft, so uncertain, that Eric felt encouraged to ease her self-consciousness.

Slowing down his movements, Eric began conversationally, “There are perks to bedding virgins. There is extreme pleasure in the wonder they experience learning about their bodies. It is particularly fulfilling if they have had my blood because I can share, marginally, in that wonder.”

What does your blood do?” she wiggled impatiently at his slow-moving pace.

It allows me to feel what they feel on a small level. Of course, there are other side effects to our blood.”

Yeah, it gets people high.”

Eric chuckled, “In certain dosages, yes, but my blood is old and strong. I could feel you with only a drop of my blood in your mouth. I doubt you would approve of me knowing where you are at all times though, or knowing what you feel at all times. I doubt you would want me invading your dreams…”

You already do,” she whispered.

Is that so?” He smirked.

Would that be something…you want?”

Eric’s eyes dilated considerably at the hint of an offer in her voice. “Very much,” he husked in response.

Just a drop?”

Just a drop.”

And it won’t get me high?”


Eric chortled, “No, Lover, you will not get high. It will arouse you further, but that is all.”

It won’t show up on a drug test, right?”

Undetectable,” he assured.

Okay.”

You are certain?”

Yeah. If I can’t be good in bed, at least you can enjoy me enjoying myself.”

Eric sighed at her comment, mildly irritated. “Stop that.”

What?”

Doubting yourself. You are not unappealing, Sookie. You are beautiful and desirable. You are feisty and strong. At this point, I want to fuck you just so when I fill you with my cum and roar in your ear, you realize how true all of that is!”

Sookie panted at his assertion, not merely because the thought of him cumming inside of her was strangely arousing, but because his irritation with her had subconsciously sped up the movement of his hand. Now he was pumping a second finger into her, and she wriggled against the delicious pressure it had built inside of her.

Give me your blood, Eric,” she gasped for breath.

Eric moaned at her command. It was the first declarative statement she had made without blushing, stammering, or ‘umm’ing that was related to sex.

Bringing the middle finger of his free hand to his mouth, he unleashed his fangs and lanced the digit, letting it heal and only leaving a droplet of blood on his fingertip. Reaching up her body, he placed his finger in her parted lips, preening when she moaned at his flavor. She suckled his finger rhythmically, not realizing there was no longer a wound from where to draw more blood. While she reflexively swallowed, he felt a blossoming heat in his body as her emotional presence began to flow within him.

Humming to himself as he basked in the new sensations, Eric removed his finger from her lips allowing it to trail down her body until his thumb hovered over her clit. The adroit digit quickly found pace with the fingers pumping inside of her, and he felt her inner walls flex threateningly around him.


“Ah, ah,” Eric chastised, “you cannot cum yet.”

Sookie whimpered when he ceased stimulating her clit. “Why not?” she whined.

Because I need to get one more finger in here before you tighten up like that,” he told her with taunting nibbles along her thigh.

I don’t think another one’s gonna fit,” she panicked. “I already feel full.”

You need to take three before I can put my cock in here, Sookie.”

Why?” She wriggled, but Eric could feel her discomfort as a third finger tried to bargain its way inside of her.

Because otherwise my cock will not fit comfortably for you,” At the terrified jolt in his connection with her, Eric smiled and soothed her, “Do not worry, Lover, it will fit. I know what I am doing, remember?” He placed his mouth over her clit and began suckling it slowly, rhythmically, until he felt her walls give in to his third finger. Once they were rocking painlessly inside of her, he sped up his tempo and murmured, “Now you can come,” as he brought her to a swift, hard orgasm.

Ah,” Sookie choked on her cry, digging her short nails into his scalp.

While she rode out her climax, Eric quickly removed his pants, and then built a good amount of saliva into his mouth to spit onto the fingers pumping into her. The motion worked the fluid deep inside her hole, but Eric did not do this for the unnecessary lubrication. Aside from coagulants, vampire saliva also had mild anesthetic properties that would alleviate the pinch of her hymen rupturing.

As the flexing of her internal walls began to abate, Eric slid the head of his cock against her entrance above his immobilized fingers.

Last chance to change your mind, Sookie,” Eric murmured.

Sookie shook her head as she bit down on her lip. “Uh uh! Do it!”

Chuckling, Eric slowly withdrew his fingers while replacing their absence with his hard member. He watched Sookie’s face scrunch up at the sensation, and listened while her heart accelerated with excitement.

That’s not much bigger than your fingers,” she reasoned.

This is the narrowest part,” he warned, resisting a laugh when her hands clenched in the bedding apprehensively. “Just get used to this, Sookie,” he encouraged, rocking back and forth, penetrating her shallowly, and enjoying the short little moans she made in rhythm with his movements. “This is not so scary, right?” She shook her head, assuring him that it was not frightening at all.

Can you go any deeper?” she asked quietly.

Much deeper, but that is the part that could hurt for a little bit. Are you ready for that?” he asked carefully.

Sookie nodded, reaching her arms around his neck to pull his mouth to hers. Obliging her silent request to be kissed, Eric tangled his tongue with hers, letting Sookie become lost in the carnal movements of their bodies before shifting his weight to push deeper inside of her. When his girth stretched her, he felt Sookie’s hips instinctively jerk back, but his hands were there, holding them in place while he drove past her maidenhead, refraining from slamming in to the hilt.

Her knees clamped tightly around his hips, keeping Eric still as she gasped against his mouth. “I will be still, Lover. You can relax. Are you all right?”


Sookie nodded slowly. “It didn’t hurt too much. It was more like pressure… I don’t know how to describe it,” she admitted. The sensation had caused an impulsive reaction in her heart, like falling through ice or missing a step on the stairs. Neither of those things hurt, but her heart and lungs reacted as though she could have died.

It is all right, Sookie. There is no need to cry,” Eric’s thumb brushed just beneath her eye, and she felt the chill of the moisture there being swept away.

I’m sorry,” she gasped. “I don’t know why-”

Shh,” Eric could recognize her relief far better than she could. “It was not as terrifying as you thought it would be. You are relieved. That is all. Eighteen years of nightmares about this moment, and it was not scary at all,” he crooned in her ear, kissing her cheek.

A single deep sob broke past her lips and Sookie hugged him tighter to her body. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to keep crying.”

I know,” He smiled into her hair. “I also know why you are doing it, and that is fine. You can cry if it is what you need.”

No,” she sniffed, “I think I need you to move.”

Eric smirked. “In or out?”

You can go deeper?” she gasped.

In a moment of comedic relief, Eric reached between their bodies and felt the remainder of his shaft not yet buried inside of her. “I have about another four inches I can give you.”

Sookie’s eyes widened at his confession. “Yes, please?”

Grinning down at her, Eric eased the remainder of the way inside of her, feeling her panic and slight flinch when he filled her entirely.

Did that hurt?” he asked in concern, reaching between their bodies to play with her clit. It had not felt as though he struck her cervix. She had seemed so soft and compliant that he believed her body would stretch properly. Still, he instinctively stimulated her clit to fuel her arousal and soften her womb to his advances. Sookie rolled her hips in response to the attention.

Uh uh,” she shook her head, “just different. I kinda jumped ’cause I expected it to hurt when you were all the way in. I didn’t think it would all fit without hurting.”

I told you to trust me,” Eric teased, pulling his hips back slowly, and then rocking them back and forth before filling to the hilt once more.

Ohh!” she let out a deep moan at the collision. “Do that again!” He did so and she choked, “mmm, again!” He pulled back a little further than before and he felt her walls flex around him and she shouted, “Oh! Right there!”

Laughter in his voice, Eric told her, “You are quite sensitive, you know? Already you can feel my thickest portion in the right spot even though my dimensions are quite consistent. Your tight, little pussy can feel everything!” He began rocking his hips in short movements, dragging the thickest part of his member against the most sensitive part of her entrance. After a few moments she was sobbing and wiggling beneath him. Her hands reached for him, feeling every part of his body they could reach while her knees hugged his hips. Eventually her hands discovered his rear, and she grasped it earnestly as she bucked, rocked, and rolled her hips.

She was driving him mad, from the vice-like walls to the telling flutters, from the scorching heat to the flood of juices. He felt as if he would burst into flames inside of her and be perfectly content meeting his true end so long as it was with his cock buried all the way in her depths.

Eric, Eric, I-I’m,” he felt a glimmer of panic in her and this surprised him.

You can cum, Lover,” he whispered. “I am right there with you.”

With a passionate wail, her back arched off of the bed, and her hands squeezed his ass so that her stubby nails left short lived crescents in his flesh. As she cried out, Eric buried his face in her throat, resisting the urge to bite and cause a mutual exchange. Instead, he snarled violently and thrust recklessly within her as he felt his body release and drain into her inviting channel.

As she sucked in air greedily, Eric peppered her flesh with kisses. “I will be sending you flowers every day for that, Lover,” he murmured between the caresses of his lips. “Please say you agree to only be with me. You would destroy any man less capable than me!”

Sookie giggled at his words, holding him tightly to her body. “If you stay right here for a while, I might let you be with me again in a bit.”

I will stay buried in you until dawn if it means having you again,” he assured.

Sookie rolled her eyes. “C’mon, it couldn’t have been that good for you. Unless you’re actually talking about how you were feeling what I feel, ’cause then you’d be feeling yourself… So maybe it was that good… It was pretty spectacular for me.”

Absolutely ignorant about yourself! That is what you are!” Eric accused playfully. “The only human woman I have fucked that was as responsive as you, I had to train for damned near a decade to become that way.”

Eyebrows shooting towards her hairline, Sookie gaped and asked, “You can teach someone to be responsive?”

Of course. It is all about sensitivity training, but your body is already quite sensitized. It is a miracle you get anything done at all.”

Oh, well… I’m not used to being touched. My telepathy is stronger when I’m touching someone. Unbearable a great deal of the time,” she explained. “That’s why I got my dogs before I moved to Shreveport. I can hug them when I’m feeling alone and they curl up with me at night. They sit with me on the couch,” Sookie shrugged as she explained. “Gran’s the only person I’ve ever let hug me, and she wasn’t coming with me to Shreveport.”

What about your brother?”

Oh, God, no!” Sookie made a face. “His mind is all sorts of ‘nope’. I would probably gag if he hugged me just because of what he would be thinking about.”

Eric chuckled, but also pondered her response. “How do you think your life would be different if you were not born a telepath?”

Sookie shrugged. “I have no way of knowing. That’s like asking me how I think my life would be different if I were born blind.”

Good point,” Eric nodded. “What do you think you would do if you woke up tomorrow and were no longer telepathic?”

That’s the same question. I have no way of knowing, and no reason to speculate. It’s only gotten stronger as I’ve gotten older. I have serious doubts it’ll just disappear after all this time.”

It has gotten stronger?”

Yeah, my range for familiar voices grew larger. I actually have to focus to find someone farther off though. I can delve into memories a bit now, but only memories linked to the current thought.”

Explain, please.”

Sookie sighed as she thought about how to describe her abilities. “Okay,” she began, “there are key words you can say to someone that link several memories together that are unrelated, except by that word. Sometimes those key words open tandem memories too. Like, if I said cookies, and the person I’m investigating thinks of their mother baking cookies, which is linked to a memory of the oven, linked to being burned, to burning houses, to burning someone inside of a house, to killing their wife, to their wife ranting that he lost another job, to…. You see how deep it can get from the word ‘cookies’?” she asked. “The subject isn’t thinking about all these things. They’re just thinking about cookies, but all of those memories are linked either in tandem like I just described, or by the single word. So if I said cookies and they thought about Girl Scout cookies, cookies and cream, or Cookie Monster, any memories linked either by tandem or parallel are available to me. Parallel is better because it’s easier to sift through than tandem. Tandem can tell me more, but it takes a long time to go through all of the branches. It would be super obvious something was up with me if I followed tandem memories very often.” Sookie wiggled slightly against her partner and draped her leg over his hip as he rolled them onto their sides. “Sometimes I use both together. I’ll start with a parallel, and if there’s a distressing parallel word, I’ll follow the tandem memories. Like if I’m interviewing a guy about a child abduction, and the first parallel he draws off of “cookies” is Girl Scout cookies, sometimes I might follow the tandem memories of the Girl Scout to see if he has inappropriate memories of little girls.”

That sounds exhausting.”

It can be,” she admitted. “Of course, I don’t usually have to get that in depth. Most of the time, people see a badge, and the first thing they do is think about all the things they’ve done wrong to receive a visit from us, or a visit to the station.” She laughed at a few memories of such incidents.

They lay together on their sides, hands caressing one another’s bodies in silence, listening to the dogs in the living room fighting over who got to lay on the end of the couch Sookie usually leaned against.

Can I ask you something about sex?” Sookie murmured after a few minutes.

You may ask me anything you wish,” he encouraged.

Biting her lip, she blushed and asked, “How often can we do this?”

Eric smirked, “As often as you like. I could come to your apartment every night after you get home from work and before I go to Fangtasia. I could fuck you until you need to get ready for bed. Hell, I will feed and walk your dogs every night just so I can have you that much sooner!”

Do you think we could walk my dogs together?”

Eric’s smirk softened into a smile, “Anything you want, Sookie.” He glanced away, seeming almost shy himself before saying, “Friday night to Sunday night… You could spend at my place, just so I would not have to leave you before the dawn comes.”

What about my dogs?”

I do not mind if you brought them, so long as they do not piss all over my house. But, they seem like well trained animals, and I have my doubts they would inconvenience me so.”

They wouldn’t. They’re real ladies.”

I have a house on a little over an acre of land. They would have plenty of room to run around, assuming you trust them to come back when they are called.”

They would,” she murmured. “What about Fangtasia?”

What about it?”

Aren’t you, like, an attraction there or something? Shouldn’t you be there on the weekends?”

I own the bar, Sookie, and it is hardly my only means of income. I could close it tomorrow and replenish the losses in a fortnight.”

Are you serious?” She gaped in surprise.

Dead serious.”

She rolled her eyes at his pun. “So, you’d let me stay in your house with you on the weekends? Are you sure you trust me to be there during the day when you’re vulnerable?”

Who better to protect me while I rest than a woman who is an off duty detective packing a Glock 22?” he countered.

What if I’m just trying to lull you into a false sense of security and snoop around your house for evidence?” she teased.

Eric’s eyes narrowed playfully. “I guess I would just have to trust that you care more about how well I can fuck you than you care about the law.”

What are laws again?”

He grinned at her reply and kissed her forehead happily. “Does that mean you will come back to my house with me?”

Tonight?”

Yes, please,” he mimicked her usual response to offers she desperately wanted.

I’d have to take my car in case I get called in,” she warned him.

Understandable.”

Okay,” she murmured, but he could feel her hesitation.

Sookie, I am not trying to make you uncomfortable. We do not have to go back to my house this evening. We could wait a few weeks, and try when you are more at ease,” he suggested.

N-no,” she shook her head. “I want to go tonight.”

Are you certain?”

Can I ask another question?”

Of course.”

Where am I going to sleep?”

Eric’s brow furrowed. “With me, of course.”

Will it be comfortable…? For you?”

Sookie,” Eric sighed, “I am inviting you to spend the weekend at my house. I would not put you in a guest bedroom when you could just as easily set the whole building ablaze and kill me that way if it were your intention.”

Okay, just let me pack some stuff,” she said, squirming away from him and finally dislodging his semi-hard member. Sookie froze momentarily when she caught her first ever glimpse of his maleness, while trying to ignore that it was streaked with blood. “Th-that fit in me?”

Glancing down at his groin, Eric smirked, and then looked back at her. “It was even bigger than this when I was fucking you.”

Really?” she asked in amazement.

Yes, really,” he laughed.

Can I see it like it was when we get to your house?”

Definitely,” he agreed.

Sookie nodded absent-mindedly as she rolled off of the bed and grabbed some clothes from her dresser. She picked out a pair of pajama shorts and a tank top. After all, she was only going to her car.

Lover, you should put on some panties as well,” Eric suggested while he climbed out of bed as well.

Why? I’m just going to my car. No one will notice,” she said, distractedly looking for her bra she had worn earlier. As she bent over to pick it up, she felt a large quantity of fluid trickle down her thigh. Reflexively she cupped herself and quickly checked her hand, unable to comprehend the combination of fluids that had pooled in her palm. “What the..?”

Eric nipped her shoulder as he walked past her and into her panty drawer. Returning to her side, he dipped his finger into the fluids on her hand and pressed it into her mouth. “It is me,” Her eyes dilated at the flavor on her tongue, tasting the tinge of his blood that came through in his semen. “And you,” he added as an afterthought.

We taste good,” she whispered.

Taking her wrist in his hand, he licked her palm without thinking. “Yes, we do,” It was only when he felt the emotional link he had with her strengthen that the vampire realized he had consumed the blood of her torn hymen, accidentally cementing a first mutual blood exchange. He swore internally for the mistake. He would need to be extremely careful from this point onward. Regardless, he needed to explain about mutual exchanges, and where they could lead.

On to Chapter Six

Never End Ch. 04

Chapter Four

Chapter Four: Bullet of Destiny

Eric contemplated the blonde sitting across his desk at Fangtasia. She had called him a little over a week after their run together requesting a meeting with him. Of course, they had spoken every night between their run and now, but this time Sookie made a rather formal request to speak in his office. Eric had to admit he was intrigued.

What can I do for you, Miss Stackhouse?” Eric asked smoothly, smiling internally while she wiggled in her chair. It was a particular treat to see the normally composed woman so unsettled. There was an approachability to her when she fidgeted.

I,” Sookie bit her lip while a blush crept across her cheeks, “I’m going to say something rather forward. I hope you’ll understand that this is difficult for me to say, and I ask that you not judge me on the way I phrase it.”

Eric raised his eyebrows, captivated. “Please, continue. The jury has not yet reached their seats.”

Looking at the corner of his desk rather than in his eyes, Sookie said in a quiet voice, “I’d like it very much if you would consider having sex with me.”

Is that so?” Eric asked, keeping all traces of his surprise hidden. This was not quite how he saw their seduction game going, but he would not complain about her walls dropping sooner than he had anticipated. “And why, pray tell, are you requesting this of me?”

Sookie gave him another delicious squirm. “Vampires are hard for my hyper-perception to read. Their faces give nothing away. It’s easier for me to be around them.”

Eric snorted at that, “I do believe we are beyond pretenses, Miss Stackhouse. You can be forthcoming with me. I know that you are actually a telepath. Apparently your confession means that vampires are silent to your gift?”

The woman stared at him in astonishment. “How did you know about…?”

With modest difficulty, I will admit. I spent a great deal of time in Bon Temps talking to people who knew you. Of course, it was not until I met your grandmother that I discovered the nature of your gift. Which reminds me; I determined who your hometown murderer was. He will be going to turn himself in to the Sheriff of Bon Temps sometime this week. Your brother will be in the clear shortly.”

Sookie gawked at the vampire for a moment. “You… You cleared my brother?”

It was only natural I would stumble upon him while glamouring the inhabitants of such a small town,” He shrugged impassively. “Now, if I could divert your attention back to your request..?” he asked hopefully.

Oh,” Sookie blushed again, “well, vampire minds are silent. I think it would be nice to have sex with one… You’re the only male vampire I’ve come to know at all. I thought… I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.”

Quite the opposite of hurt,” he agreed. “Am I permitted to sample you while I fulfill your request? You know, I would hate to make you feel like you used me,” he alluded to her views on feeding from their very first conversation.

I guess I could do that. I have a few rules about it though,” she told him.

I am always up for negotiations,” he waved for her to go ahead.

Don’t bite me anywhere someone could see, and don’t take so much blood that it will leave me weak for work.”

Extremely responsible circumstances,” he nodded approvingly. “Now, when, where, and how often would you like me to fuck you?” The vampire did not miss the way her body responded to the word ‘fuck’. He watched as her eyes dilated, nipples hardened and thighs clenched.

Er… How often?” she asked with confusion that fumbled from behind the fog of lust.

You did not wish to make an arrangement out of it?”

I thought you only made arrangements with people you’d want to keep around.”

You think I would just let you go once I have had you?” he asked in surprise. “You did not strike me as the type with low self-esteem.”

I’m not very good in bed,” she admitted, chagrinned.

I seriously doubt that,” he laughed.

Sookie sighed, realizing she should warn him. “I don’t have any experience. I can hardly masturbate properly.”

Eric’s eyebrows rose infinitesimally again. “You are a virgin?”

Yeah.”

Hmm.”

I understand if that changes your mind about agreeing to my request,” Sookie mumbled.

Oh no, I am certainly going to take you up on your offer,” he assured. “I do have a few questions for you though.”

Go ahead.”

What would you say about me training you?” It was Sookie’s turn to raise her eyebrows. “Perhaps that was a rather intimidating word. It makes it sound like you would be a pet or something. Let me try again,” He cleared his throat, rearranging his words. “What would you say to me teaching you about your body, and along the way, you learn about mine?”

Sookie played with her hair girlishly as she stared at the strands to avoid looking at him. “I-I can stop whenever I want, right?”

Of course. This is an arrangement between two consenting adults, after all.”

Would I have to do anything weird?”

First,” he chuckled, “define weird. Secondly, you do not have to do anything. I might suggest something outside your realm of comfort, but I will never do it to you without your consent. Just be careful if you ever use the phrase ‘surprise me’.”

I guess I’ll have to tell you if something’s weird when you ask me about it. Although there may be times I might have to ask what it is you’re asking me to do,” she admitted. “Can you just not put anything up my butt?” she mumbled shyly.

Eric tilted his head curiously, “A virgin and already frightened of anal sex?”

I’m a little frightened of everything related to sex,” she confessed.

Why is that?”

Sookie shrugged weakly, “I’m a telepath. I’ve seen scary, horrible things. I’ve seen people remembering doing stuff they didn’t want to do, but doing it anyway because they were afraid of being abandoned.”

I see,” Eric frowned. “Well, I will not abandon you. If our arrangement needs to end, you will be well notified.”

Okay,” she murmured, rising from her chair.

Where are you going?” he asked at her sudden urge for departure.

Er… I thought that was the end of the meeting..?”

Eric rose from his chair, came to her side, and took Sookie’s hand in his. “Would you mind very much if I took a brief tour? I would be greatly interested in preparing myself for our future encounters.”

I-I guess that’s okay,” she whispered, a fresh wave of blood blossoming under her cheeks.

Would you prefer me to examine you on the desk or the couch?” he asked, gesturing to the two pieces of furniture.

E-examine?” she whispered, though it sounded more like a squeak at an octave higher.

At her terrified voice, Eric smiled. Apparently her nerves had destroyed their game of formality. “I want to see your body, and test your sensitivity,” he explained. Placing his hands at the top button of her blouse, he asked, “May I?”

Y-yes,” she whispered, turning her face away as he began to unbutton her blouse.

Do not look away, Miss Stackhouse,” Eric chastised gently. “You asked for me, now do not make me feel as though I am taking what has not been offered.”

Sookie brought her gaze back to the vampire before her, concentrating on her breathing, not the hungry, blue gaze that was consuming every inch of flesh he was exposing.

Once her shirt was open, Eric pushed it from her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Next, he knelt before her, untying her shoe laces and slipping the boots from her feet along with her socks. When he rose back up to his feet, he unbuttoned and unzipped the fly of her jeans before pushing them off her hips, and then down her legs where she shakily stepped out of them.

Go sit on the couch,” he instructed as he left her side and went to lock his office door. Before joining her on the leather couch, he went to his desk and paged Pam. “I will be busy for the time being. Do not interrupt me for anything until I page you again.”

Yes, Master,” Pam’s voice responded quickly, and Eric disengaged the intercom before turning back to Sookie.

Now, Miss Stackhouse, where were we?” He sauntered over to the sofa and kneeled down in front of her legs. Sookie was surprised to find that their faces were level in this position.

Umm,” she mumbled, trying to force herself to maintain eye contact.

Tell me what sort of physical relationships you have had.”

None really,” she told him shyly.

Have you been kissed before?”

No,” she breathed.

Not at all?”

Just family. On the cheek or forehead,” she elaborated.

Then no one has touched you here either,” he placed a hand over her breast, making her breath hitch, “except you?”

Sookie could only nod.

Are they sensitive?” he asked, squeezing her gently and finding her nipple quickly hardening beneath his palm. When he pinched the bud Sookie let out a soft sound, encouraging him to pinch a bit harder and earning a wail. “Quite sensitive,” he murmured to himself. “Are you ticklish?” he asked, ghosting his fingertips down her ribs and earning a wriggle. “A little bit, it seems.”

Eric,” she groaned his name.

Yes, Sookie?”

What are you doing to me?” she panted.

I am merely learning the very basics of your body. Why? What is this doing to you?” he asked quietly.

It’s making me very wet,” she admitted.

Oh?” He could smell her arousal, yet it was hardly permeating the air. Reaching between her thighs, he ran his thumb over her panties between her nether lips. He felt Sookie’s body go rigid as if resisting the urge to wriggle away. Frowning at the lackluster amount of heat he found, his thumb circumnavigated the elastic of her panties and dipped between her folds earning a sharp gasp and small shimmy. Her arousal was only just starting. “This is ‘very wet’?” he asked in veiled concern.

Mmm hmm,” she whimpered.

Oh, Miss Stackhouse, do you not know your own body at all?”

What do you mean?” she gasped as his thumb gathered some of her moisture and glided against her clit.

This is a very early stage of arousal, a stage that can be met merely by encountering someone you desire. Do you feel the urge to pleasure yourself when you are only this excited?”

Very much,” She jerked when his thumb flicked her clit again, forcing a soft cry from her mouth.

It is not all that surprising that you have trouble making yourself climax if you are going full throttle with such underwhelming preparation. I expect your orgasms are not very satisfying.”

Not at all,” she agreed.

Do you want me to give you a satisfying orgasm?” he asked carefully.

Y-yes please!” she gasped.

Eric’s hand slipped from her panties and grabbed her hips to pull her to the edge of the couch. When her back left the cushion, he reached up to unhook her bra, spilling the plentiful bounty of her bosom. Instinctively, Sookie crossed her arms over her chest, but Eric’s hands halted the action.

You do not need to hide, Sookie. You are beautiful. Your breasts are mouthwatering,” Biting her lip once again as her blush migrated down her neck, Sookie let her arms drop rigidly to her side. “Lift your bottom,” he instructed so he could remove her panties. She obliged slowly, trying her hardest to rein in her modesty.

C-Can you…” her request trailed off.

Can I what, Sookie?” he asked gently.

Umm, can you take off your shirt? I feel underdressed.”

I can remove it all if you want me to even the playing field,” he offered.

J-just your shirt will be fine.”

Eric tilted his head curiously at her before asking, “Are you afraid of my cock, Sookie?” Her eyes darted away as she hid her face behind a veil of hair. “Hmm,” he hummed thoughtfully, “this is rather disconcerting. Why are you scared of what you want?”

In a moment of complete clarity and honesty, Sookie replied, “Most of the things I want end up hurting me.”

I see,” Eric murmured to himself. “What is something you wanted that hurt you?”

It’s personal.”

So is this,” he pointed out, rubbing her thigh.

It’s just sex.”

Not for you.”

Sookie stared at him, wide-eyed and vulnerable. “D-does that mean our arrangement won’t work?”

No, our arrangement will work just fine, but I will have to temper my attitude about it.”

How do you mean?”

Smiling at her, he explained, “I mean that your needs will be in a rather turbulent state of fluctuation. You do not know what you want or need, and as you discover those things, I will need to fill those wants and needs, and then later abandon them as they no longer apply. There will be times when you will demand my attention and cling to me. There might be times when you want very little to do with me. Eventually your wants and needs will become more concrete, and we can fall into a much more discernible pattern.”

I don’t understand,” she admitted with a wary shake of her head.

Do not preoccupy yourself with it. Just keep me privy to what does and does not work for you. Remember, I know what I am doing, and I have already accepted the responsibility of teaching you. Where these lessons lead us should not be a burden.”

Okay,” she said hesitantly.

Now,” Eric grinned up at her, “shall I continue your first lesson?”

I’m not really turned on anymore,” she mumbled.

Do not worry, Lover,” Eric purred, removing his shirt, “I can get you back there in a moment.” Reaching for her face, the vampire brought her mouth to his in a soft kiss. After a moment, he brushed his tongue against her lower lip and Sookie pressed eagerly against his tongue. “Just mirror me,” he encouraged before tracing her lip again. When Sookie’s tongue poked out, he quickly tangled it with his own until he was chasing it back into her mouth. He explored the hot cavern, sweeping and coaxing her tongue to dance with his.

Eventually he pulled away to allow her room to breathe, but kept kissing along her jaw to her throat. He felt her pulse quicken as he lightly suckled the skin protecting her carotid, nibbling with his blunt teeth before moving towards her breasts.

His right hand took possession of her left breast as his mouth claimed the right. He squeezed, suckled, nuzzled, and pinched the impressive globes until Sookie panted under his ministrations. The scent of her arousal perfumed the air around him, and Eric murmured against her skin, “This is being turned on, but your pussy can get much wetter.”

Sookie moaned at his words, arching into his mouth and hand. She could feel her body slide against the leather of his couch while her hips tilted; surprised that she was actually producing enough lubrication to achieve this.

Eric,” she gasped when he gave a slightly harder tug with his teeth on her nipple.

Switching breasts, his left hand took her right breast and his mouth took the left, repeating the ministrations on the twin. By the time he began kissing down her torso, the woman’s hips were rocking in anticipation.

Do you usually move your hips when you masturbate?” Eric asked curiously.

No, that’s new,” she whispered heatedly.

Eric chuckled as he let his tongue dip into the well of her bellybutton. He continued kissing down her body before diverting to her thigh. Similar to her breasts, one hand massaged a thigh while his mouth nibbled and kissed the other before switching sides again. When he spread them wide, he was greeted by the sight of her weeping sex.

Oh yes,” he hissed passionately, “that is a hungry pussy.” His thumb ran up and down her gash, the sound of her sticky fluids noisily kissing his digit. “Do you hear that, Lover?” he asked, continuing to illicit the sound of smacking lips from her folds.

Uh huh,” she moaned affirmatively.

That is the sound of a pussy that wants to be touched,” She whimpered as his finger dipped inside of her hole, and keened when it curled within her. “Hmm,” he kissed the inside of her thigh as he hummed thoughtfully to himself again, “you are remarkably intact for a woman your age.”

Intact?” she panted as he rocked his finger inside of her.

Your hymen, Lover. Have you never put anything in here?” he asked, still moving his hand and nibbling her thigh between conversations.

Just tampons,” she told him, her fingers trying to find purchase on the smooth leather of the couch.

Not even your fingers?” he asked in surprise.

I tried that once, but it hurt.”

Does this hurt?”

NO!” she arched as she assured him. “It feels really good.”

Did you use any lubrication?”

Just some spit.”

Eric chuckled at that. “You probably were not wet enough to make it feel good like this,” he explained. “Now, how about I give you that real orgasm I promised?”

Sookie whimpered, “Yes, please,” nodding her head jerkily in anticipation. She felt ready to explode at any moment, never having been so easily on the cusp of orgasm before. Normally she was rubbing herself frantically to get anywhere near this close. Now she lingered on the edge, body primed, and showing no signs of dissolving away from arousal.

Enveloping her clit with his lips, Eric flicked his tongue softly against the swollen nub, making Sookie’s hips twitch with every caress. Flattening his tongue and taking all encompassing laps at the pleasure point, he tried to slide a second finger into her channel and was delighted to find her tightness attempting to reject his advances. Still, her body succumbed like it should and a second digit was soon slipping inside of her.

Umm, umm,” Sookie whimpered, sounding apprehensive. Eric’s eyes darted to meet hers, and he could see the surprise and fear across her face.

You can cum, Sookie,” he encouraged. “Do not be afraid of it.”

His mouth descended to her sex again and he increased his tempo marginally, forcing the woman off the ledge from where she herself could not jump. Her response was awe-inspiring. Her hands clutched his hair, her back arched like a bow, and the most delicious scream rang from her throat as her inner walls tried to crush his fingers. As her climax reached its crescendo, Eric turned his mouth against her thigh and punctured it with his fangs to draw a sweet mouthful of crimson elixir.

At the bite, Eric felt her orgasm recycle, and another cry tore past her lips. Licking the wound he had inflicted, Eric pondered the flavor of her blood while resisting the urge to sneak another sample. In his thousand years, he had never met a human who tasted so delicate, sweet, soft, and mildly intoxicating. Nothing as intense as the Fae, but certainly a delicacy.

As Sookie slumped against the couch attempting to catch her breath, Eric rose from his knees and lifted her enough so he could place her head in his lap and comb the fingers of his free hand through her hair while licking his other hand clean.

A flavor such as hers was covetable. Every instinct of the vampire in him wanted nothing more than to keep her for himself and be the only creature to ever enjoy her splendor, not just the fine quality of her blood, but her responsive body as well.

I wish to make some additional adjustments to our agreement,” Eric murmured when her breathing had calmed.

Oh,” Sookie’s body tightened guardedly, covering herself the best she could with her arms and legs, “did you change your mind?”

Eric looked at her in surprise, “Not at all, I only wish to make some conditions.”

After that, I’m open to negotiations that let me have it again,” she smirked to herself as she nuzzled against his thigh.

I wish for you not to allow another to touch you, and by granting me that, I will extend the same courtesy. I will only fuck and feed from you so long as our arrangement is active,” It was a modest sacrifice for him, but one entirely worth making to keep her just for him.

So we’d be monogamous friends with benefits?” Sookie asked, making Eric laugh.

Yes, something like that.”

I can agree to that,” she whispered. “Is that a thing? Monogamous friends with benefits, that is?”

Eric thought for a moment. “Actually, I believe this is called a ‘relationship’,” he laughed. “A superficial one, but still a relationship.”

Sookie nodded in understanding. “I think that’s all I’ll really want anyway.”

Why is that?” Eric asked curiously, twirling a lock of hair around his finger. He did not believe her resolve for a moment. She was too inexperienced to realize how unlikely it would be for her to keep her heart out of their relationship, an unlikelihood that Eric was banking on.

Because it will hurt less when it ends.”

What is this preoccupation with things ending?” Eric frowned.

Everything ends, you know.”

Sometimes things become more. An aspect of a situation can end without the entirety being lost.”

I’m just used to being left behind,” she told him.

I see,” was his reply.

Sookie looked around the room at her scattered clothes and asked, “Were you going to have sex with me tonight?”

No,” Eric smiled, “I think I will save that for an evening where you do not work the following day. I would hate to overexert you before you return to upholding the law.”

Oh, well, when crime happens, I’m working,” Sookie told him. “Mostly, though, weekends are the only safe bet I have at not being in the precinct.”

What made you want to be a police detective, Sookie?”

The woman’s body tensed momentarily before she shrugged, “I wanted to protect people.”

That sounds like a PR response.”

Sookie sighed and sat up, raising her head from his lap. The look in her eyes was enough warning before she gave a verbal one. “Are you sure you want to go down this road, Northman?” The inquiry might have been imposing if she had not been stark naked.

Knowing you is very important to me, Miss Stackhouse.”

Turning her head away, Sookie spoke to the wall. “My great uncle was sexually abusing my cousin from the time she was three years old until she was nine. I was seven when I found out. I didn’t know what I was seeing back then. Her head was all confused and scared. All I knew was he was hurting the girl who was like a big sister to me. I told him to leave Hadley alone, to stop hurting her. He hit me and said if I ever told anyone about Hadley, he’d do much worse to me than he ever did to her. That night he raped and beat Hadley right in front of me just to make his point. I told our Gran. She called the police on him, and when they searched his house they found all kinds of terrible things. Tapes of him raping Hadley, pictures of other kids. Pictures of Hadley’s mother when she was a girl…” Sookie shook her head to dispel the memory. “I realized then that I had the power to help people. It was my duty to put my quirk to good use, the best use I could.” Placing her chin in her hands, she said, “Hadley ran away when she was thirteen. We never saw her again.”

Eric was quiet a moment before he asked, “Do you enjoy what you do?”

Sookie thought for a moment, “It’s all I really ever knew I wanted to do.”

But not for yourself,” he did not ask.

What’s the difference?”

Eric’s eyes widened at the question. “Lover, it makes you miserable!”

Sometimes Destiny is a bullet. It has a sure line, predetermined, destroying anything that comes in its path to get to its target. I was born a Bullet of Destiny. My life was decided when I found a purpose for all of the insanity around me.” She held out her hand, counting off the holy trinity that carved the path for her career choice, “The insanity of my quirk. The insanity of my overwhelming losses. The insanity of my uncle and cousin… This destiny I’ve been fired through is the only true certainty I’ve ever known, so what is the difference between what my telepathy has aimed me toward, and what I may have wanted if I did not have my telepathy? It’s a pointless effort to yearn for things that will never be within your reach.”

Does it have any appeal to you whatsoever?” he pressed.

I save lives with my quirk.”

At what cost to you?”

I don’t understand what you mean,” she admitted.

Sookie, you look into the minds of some of the most disturbed and violent humans. You see their crimes from their perspectives every day. You do not see how damaging it can be?”

I guess I’ve always ignored it.”

Ignored it!” he rasped in disbelief. “Sookie, by the things I have learned from you tonight, you are anything but ignorant, except about yourself. At the age of seven you witnessed the inner workings of a pedophile and his abuse of your cousin. Today you are terrified of sex. That was nearly twenty years ago. You speak of things only ending, never beginning or lasting. This life is sucking you dry. You are terrified to want, terrified to live.”

Those are the things I know, Eric,” she whispered. “I know abandonment, disloyalty, death, violence… I only have one lasting scrap of unconditional love, and that’s my Gran. She’s eighty-three, Eric, and she will die someday, and I will finally be always alone.”

Rising from the couch, Sookie went about the office, finding her clothes and redressing herself. Once she had her shoes on, Sookie reached for the door and unlocked it. Before departing she murmured, “Hopefully I haven’t sent you running. I had a good time tonight, and I still want to have that relationship we talked about.” With that, she left his office.

Eric watched the woman leave, and all he could see was a broken little girl who had glued the pieces of her life back together into a warped, semi-functioning heap. As that broken life crumbled from its adhesive, she could not even manage to leave the debris behind; she merely picked it up and continued carrying her burden.

So unassuming and cautious.

So fierce in accepting her fate.

So, so broken.

In an instant, Eric wanted to make everything better for her. He wanted to show her that she would never be alone. He wanted to prove that some things did not have to end.

Picking up his phone, Eric left a quick message for his dayman, and then sat down in his office chair.

Eric thought for a moment.

Sookie was strong-willed, calculating, isolated, and completely oblivious to the fact that she was worthy of anything. She was like an island rich with natural resources that she allowed to be stripped away by visitors, and gladly consented to being made barren by their greed so long as she believed that they were helped by her sacrifice.

What was worse! She endured constant psychological abuse and did not even recognize it! She had turned herself into the world’s punching bag, and could not even admit that it was a strain upon her!

Her duality was mind boggling. Intense and sharp-tongued one moment, and then self-conscious and hesitant the next. Eric noticed, however, that the second part was only common when she was the topic or subject under discussion.

Eric considered how to help her see that she deserved far better than she believed. He considered the relationship he was starting, knowing it was far less than he wished it to be. Though he knew that she would come to the realization that she could not separate sex from love at some point, Eric found himself quite impatient for that time to come.

There was the added bonus of Sookie potentially rejecting her feelings for him out of blind fear and insecurity. She had spent so many years building her impenetrable walls, and Eric knew that he could not just come barreling through her blockade. Not only did he need to keep her from panicking and turning from him, he also had to find a way that she would be comfortable and at ease with him.

The questions were now, ‘How do I get her to accept me?’ and ‘How do I become someone acceptable?’

On to Chapter Five

Never End Ch.03

Chapter Three

Chapter Three: Mr. Northman

Sookie sat at her desk the next day rummaging through paperwork. She needed to go to the hospital to interview Marla about her husband’s attempt on her life, and she was not looking forward to it. Aside from the fact that she would have to inform Mrs. Jacobs that they had not yet apprehended her husband for his attempt at murdering her, there was the added bonus of having to relive Marla’s terrified recounting of her experience, complete with mental pictures and genuine emotions potent enough to nauseate her.

It was a tossup as to whether interviewing criminals or victims was worse. On one hand, the victims sent her into a depression while they relived their traumas, inadvertently subjecting Sookie to them. On the other hand, criminals made her feel as if her faith in humanity was being reduced to ashes on a pyre while they delightedly recounted the harm they inflicted upon others.

Either way, her soul suffered even if Sookie had yet to realize this.

A shrill ringing brought Sookie out of her dark thoughts, and she robotically reached for the phone. “Detective Stackhouse,” she barked.

Sookie Stackhouse?” a timid voice asked.

What can I do for you?”

My name is Bobby Burnham. I was instructed by Mr. Northman to contact you,” Sookie’s body tensed. “He wanted me to leave you his cell phone number.”

Why?”

I suppose that he was hoping you might be compelled to call him. It’s really none of my business; I’m just following his instruction. You can do whatever you wish with the number, just let me recite it.”

Sookie sighed, grabbing her pen. She did not know what obliged her to even take the number down, but she quickly scrawled it out as Bobby spoke it.

Have a nice day, Detective.”

Sookie hung up the phone and shoved the post-it into a folder while she returned to her paperwork. Periodically, without willing her eyes to do so they would drift to the folder before snapping back to her work.

Eventually it was time to go to the hospital and interview Marla, and Sookie belatedly realized that she had stuck the post-it in the file. Throughout the interview, Sookie was distracted and her eyes would linger on her untidy handwriting, memorizing the numbers she had written, rather than be attentive and focused on Marla’s recounting. Mechanically, Sookie took notes, but mostly let the tape recorder do the work for her.

Are you all right, Detective Stackhouse?” Marla asked gently, making the other woman look up at her, stunned. “You seem preoccupied.”

Sookie shook her head, “No, I’m right here with you, Marla.” The telepath berated herself for her lack of sensitivity.

Hey, if I could, I would daydream about being somewhere other than here,” Marla said, gesturing to the walls of the hospital. “You looked like you were having a good daydream.”

I’m sorry, Marla, for being unprofessional.”

It’s okay,” she smiled distantly. “Sometimes I need to go to my happy place to get away from thinking about that tree…”

Sookie maintained her focus for the remainder of the interview, and just like the fire extinguisher to the head that Marla had received, Sookie’s head felt as though it was splitting too. The telepath had seen the graphic recounting of Marla’s experience several times while she helped the injured woman out of the drooping willow the previous afternoon.

You’re really strong, you know, Marla,” Sookie commented as she packed up.

Not strong enough,” Marla snorted.

No, even stronger,” Sookie argued. “I’m not talking about surviving in the bayou for nearly a week. I mean right now, in this moment… Anyone else would be a catatonic mess. You’re very calm, and… Listen, just take care of yourself, and remember that you’re strong.”

Marla smiled a bit more genuinely and nodded.

{†}

Hey, Stackhouse,” Trent smiled as he leaned against Sookie’s desk, “what have you been staring at for the last hour?” He tried to surreptitiously sneak a peek, but Sookie quickly closed the file with the post-it in it.

Just going over Marla’s statement,” she dismissed his suspicions.

I guess this case would be a bit more personal to you seeing as you’re the one who found her… Wait! Did you just call her ‘Marla’?” Trent was shocked. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard you call anyone by their first name!”

Sookie shrugged. “Like you said, it got a bit personal.”

I guess,” She could hear in his head that he was unconvinced by her excuse. However, he mercifully changed the subject. “Hey, you want to hit the bar with me and the guys?” he asked, standing up straighter.

No thanks. I gotta get home to the girls,” she declined.

Trent rolled his eyes. “Those shepherds are like your daughters.”

Sookie shrugged again, picking up the file and discretely removing the post-it to tuck into her pocket before placing the file in her drawer. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” she gave him a wan smile before grabbing her gun from her locked drawer and holstering it.

Yeah, have a good night,” he called as she retreated from the department.

You too,” she responded in kind.

Sookie quickly left the precinct, fumbling for her phone. She could not begin to fathom why the need to call Eric Northman was so strong, but there was no refuting the urge within her ever since receiving his number.

Northman,” Eric’s voice was like hot silk despite the brevity of his greeting.

Hi, it’s Detective Stackhouse,” Sookie wanted to face-palm at being so formal.

Detective or Miss?” Eric asked amusedly.

Well, I just left the precinct, so I guess it’s Miss at the moment.”

Good evening, Miss Stackhouse. I am surprised you called.”

Sookie bit her lip, “Well, I didn’t want you to think Mr. Burnham failed to deliver the message.”

Is that what this is? A courtesy call?” he sounded playfully wounded.

Umm,” she floundered for a reply.

So tentative!” Eric laughed. “And you were so quick to quip the other night.”

I guess I don’t know what to say this time around,” she replied.

You have nothing you wish to say to me this evening?”

That was a loaded question. Her words ranged from ‘how soon can you be in my bed?’ to ‘have you heard anything in Bon Temps?’

Deciding that work was always a topic she felt strong in discussing, she said, “I was wondering if you heard anything in regard to the homicides in Bon Temps.”

Eric sighed in what seemed to be amusement. “I will be making a visit out there tomorrow actually.”

Oh. I didn’t realize you would go to such lengths.”

Well, as you are responsible for the safety of humans, I am responsible for the safety of vampires in this Area. If too much whirlwind gets wrapped around the fact that both women were fangbangers, we will have a publicity scandal on our hands, despite the fact that vampires did not commit the murders. That could lead to public outcry and attacks on our kind.”

I understand what you mean. It’s like when a gang member gets killed and there’s trace amounts of evidence affiliated with a rival gang. We have to solve it quickly so there aren’t any turf wars or retributions.”

Precisely,” Eric paused a moment before asking, “What are you doing now that you are done with work?”

Oh, just going home to feed and walk my dogs,” she said conversationally as she got into her car. “I’m about to turn on my car, so the phone might hiccup when the Bluetooth kicks in,” she warned him. “Just don’t think I hung up on you.”

I will temper my anxiety.”

Sookie laughed as she turned over her ignition. After a few moments, the in-car speaker kicked in and she chatted with Eric while she drove toward her apartment.

Do you know Bill Compton?” she asked as she remembered her encounter with him the previous night and how Pam seemingly knew him.

I am aware of him, seeing as he resides in my Area. I did not know that you knew him…?”

Oh, I thought Pam would have told you. She ran into us talking last night.”

What were you discussing with Compton?”

Sookie rolled her eyes. “He’s been forward with me, and I was shooting him down for the umpteenth time.”

I could make him leave you alone if you wished.”

That would be spectacular.”

Consider it done.”

Thanks.”

What are you doing after your run?”

Probably going over some case files, and then going to bed. What are you doing tonight?”

Sitting in my office, going over my club’s books.”

Sounds boring.”

Not nearly as exciting as attempted murder and mayhem,” he agreed.

Sookie pondered briefly how easy Eric was to talk with. It felt like forever since she had such a quaint conversation, even talks with Gran were never this lighthearted.

If you like, I could keep you company on your run,” Eric offered after she had remained silent for a moment.

No, that’s okay. I don’t know that my dogs like you very much,” she admitted with mild embarrassment.

Perhaps they just need to get to know me,” he suggested.

You don’t have to come all the way down here. It’s nearly ten miles from the club.”

I am not at the club. I am at my house. It probably would not be much of a detour on my way to Fangtasia.”

I don’t want to keep you from your work.”

There was a momentary pause before Eric murmured, “If I am being too forward, you could just say you do not wish for my company this evening.”

No, you’re not being forward; I just don’t want to inconvenience you,” How could such a beautiful man want to spend time with her? How could a vampire wish to run alongside a mortal?

If it was an inconvenience, I would not have suggested it,” He hesitated a moment before offering again, “May I come keep you company on your run?”

Tentatively, Sookie accepted, “If you like, I would enjoy that,” She gave him her address after that, and then held her breath, awaiting his response.

I will see you shortly, then. Goodbye for now, Miss Stackhouse.”

Sookie pulled into a parking space near her apartment as he hung up, and she quickly jumped out of the car, locked it, and ran for her building. Tearing up three flights of steps, she was greeted by her dogs with whimpers and happy tongues.

Hey, girls,” Sookie gave them their obligatory ear rubs as she walked to the kitchen to fill their food bowls. Seeing their water bowls empty, she filled them too, and then ran off to her bedroom to change into her running clothes. “Shoot, shoot, shoot,” she mumbled, tossing clothes all around, looking for one pair of sweats that would potentially flatter her figure. When her wardrobe failed to help her impress Eric, she threw on her least ratty pair of sweats and a somewhat fitted t-shirt. She pulled on a new pair of socks and her running shoes before going to the bathroom and fixing her hair into a wild, sloppy bun rather than the smooth, severe one she wore at the office.

Going back to the main room of her apartment, Sookie grabbed her dogs’ leashes and hooked them to her before opening her door and locking it behind her. As the door snapped shut, her heart gave a sudden lurch, and she reached for the handle and her chest simultaneously. She had forgotten to put her keys around her neck, and had now locked herself out of her apartment.

Crap.”

Sighing to herself, Sookie went down the three flights of stairs to find Northman leaning against the wall outside. Peeking her head out the front door, she waved at him embarrassedly.

Sorry, I have to nix the run,” she mumbled.

Why is that?” Eric asked, raising his eyebrows curiously.

I just locked myself out of my apartment, and now I have to call the landlord to let me back in. That means I have to wait around for him near the building.”

Or I could just let you back in when we return,” Eric offered.

Sookie’s face frowned at the suggestion, “How would you do that?”


Eric shrugged, “Pick the lock.”

You can do that?”

Quite easily,” he assured.

Oh, okay. Let’s go then.”

Would you like me to take one of your dogs?” Eric asked as he took pace next to Sookie’s brisk walk.

I don’t know how either one would like that,” she confessed.

Shall we find out?” Eric offered, holding out his hand.

Sookie thought for a moment before surrendering Junes’ lead to the vampire. Junes was the braver of her two dogs, and also the more aggressive. However, Eric was not some fragile human that would throw a lawsuit at her if Junes bit him.

They seem much more amiable toward me this evening,” Eric commented as Junes let him control her without complaint.

You must have taken them by surprise before,” Sookie shrugged, picking up her speed and feeling Eric do the same beside her. “Is it hard to move at this speed? Y’know, ’cause vamps can move so much faster?”

It is something that we grow accustomed to rather quickly. Before we came out of the coffin, we could not move at our comfortable speeds. Over the past couple of years though it has become awkward to move at this pace again,” he explained. “It is easier running beside a human because they can keep me at pace.”

When Sookie’s speed increased again, Eric listened intently to her heart. “You are in marvelous shape,” he commented, and the woman’s pulse thrummed faster for a brief moment.

E-excuse me?” she squeaked, glancing at him out of the side of her widened eyes.

Your pulse is like a metronome. Even while running, it has barely accelerated, and been quite consistent the entire time,” Eric smiled at her flustered expression.

Thanks,” she muttered. “I’ve never had anyone compliment my athleticism through my heartbeat.”

Well, given your clothing choice, I could not compliment how toned your thighs or bottom are,” Eric chuckled.

Bottom?” She turned her head slightly to raise her eyebrows.

Rear, posterior?” he offered.

You could just say ‘ass’. No need to be so proper.”

I prefer to only diminish my propriety in the heat of the moment.”

Oh,” was all she could say to that. She could not quite understand what he meant, but she reasoned that he did not like sounding crude in casual conversation. That thought made her smile to herself. A vampire with manners.

Do you curse often?” Eric asked.

Sookie shrugged, “Not really. Mostly only during interrogations, or if I’m particularly angry. I don’t normally get that angry, though.”

I am glad.”

She felt compelled to confess, “I did call my brother a stupid fucker the other night though. In my defense, I had just found out he’d been arrested for the murders of those girls. He’s always causing me grief.”

Ah, well in that case, the jury will dismiss all allegations in respect to your manners,” Eric dead-panned. “It pleases me to know only such circumstances make curses like that pass your lips.”

Why?”

Women with vulgar language skills disappoint me. It is a wall of defense built around them in the form of off-putting comments.”

Some of us build our walls out of other things,” Sookie pointed out.

What did you build your wall out of?”

Sookie frowned for a moment before replying, “Skepticism and isolation.” She glanced at him briefly as he laughed. “What about you?”

Violence and indifference.”

Are other vampires afraid of you?”

Quite,” he admitted.

Are you extremely violent? Do you suffer outbursts?” Sookie demanded.

Eric laughed at her questioning, “I am capable of extreme violence; of torture. There is nothing uncontrolled about it, however. I am quite ‘Zen’ during my moments of violence. After all, the truly dead cannot repay debts.” The vampire glanced at the detective to see her reaction. She appeared quite unmoved by his explanation. “In my thousand years, I have been an assassin and inquisitor on thousands of occasions. For me, violence is a tool, not a state of mind.”

You’re a thousand years old?” she gasped, her pulse picking up once more.

Give or take a few decades,” he qualified.

Don’t you get bored? You must have done everything by now!”

Many things are worth doing over and over again,” Eric shrugged. “Some centuries find me rather impatient and violent. Other centuries find me particularly gracious and accommodating. Of course, there are also the constant advancements in technology. The leaps and bounds you humans make at times are enough to keep me entertained for a few decades.”

What are some things worth doing again?” Sookie whispered, ignoring the rest of his statement.

Eric thought about her question as well as the hopeful tone of voice she had while asking. Of course, it was obvious there was something she wanted from him. More than likely it was sexual in nature, given her bashfulness, but she seemed to think he would be unwilling to perform it with her.

Many things,” he shrugged. “I have not done monogamy in quite a long time. A little over a century now, actually. A single lover can be even more satisfying than hundreds when they are given the proper amount of attention and patience.”

Are you patient?” Sookie asked quietly.

Eric patted himself on the back for accurately navigating the detective’s subconscious. She wanted him, and was doubtful of her skills to please him. “Quite. Especially when dealing with someone eager to please and learn.”

Hmm,” Sookie hummed to herself before picking up her speed another degree. Their conversation ended there as the woman ran as fast as she possibly could and was rendered incapable of holding a discussion and supplying enough oxygen to her limbs simultaneously.

When they arrived back at Sookie’s apartment complex, Eric followed her inside, up the three flights of stairs, and to her door. Taking a black leather case from the inside of his jacket, he extracted three spring metal tools and quickly picked the lock to her apartment door.

Wow, that was quick,” Sookie mumbled in awe.

Even difficult things can become quite simple with dedication, patience, and practice,” he pointed out.

Do you enjoy practicing?” Sookie asked quietly, the blush that would have come at her comment was hidden by the rosiness left behind by her run.

Eric did not miss the innuendo, however, and his eyes dilated when he replied, “Very much.”

Sookie gripped her dogs’ leads tightly in her hand before giving her head a quick shake and saying in a slightly higher voice, “Well, you probably need to get back to your books. Thanks for the workout.. Er… Run… And… Thanks for opening me up,” she pointed to the door, and not even her run-flushed cheeks hid the blush that ran all the way down her neck. “And that’s my cue to run away,” Sookie ran into her apartment, shouting, “Goodnight, Eric!” as she slammed the door in the vampire’s face.

Goodnight, Sookie,” she could hear Eric laughing softly to himself as she leaned against her door with horror-widened eyes. Never in her life had she strung together so many poor word choices in such quick succession.

Despite her mortification, however; Sookie had discovered that Eric might not be so resistant to the idea of sex with her, even though she was still a virgin. He definitely seemed to respond to her on a sexual level. There had been no short supply of innuendo and none-too-subtle hinting either. He had expressed his patience in relationships, and even commented about potential monogamy in the future.

Still, even if he seemed clued into her lack of experience, she doubted he could possibly know of its extent. Currently, Eric Northman might believe she just lacked self-assuredness in her sexuality. She seriously doubted that he could comprehend the possibility she had never before even allowed a man to kiss her.

The evening had managed to quell some of her doubts. She felt a bit more secure in her desire to ask Eric to take her to bed, but she had yet to build enough courage to ask. Maybe I can make a business meeting over it. Keep it formal when I ask. Like a request for department donations.

Even as Sookie showered, entertaining the thought of Eric’s face when she made her request, Sookie could not help but smirk. She doubted even he would see her approach coming.

On to Chapter Four

Never End Ch.02

Chapter Two

Chapter Two: Marla

Waking the next morning, Sookie lay in bed ensconced between the bodies of Mags and Junes. The warm bodies of the German Shepherds snuggly enveloped her. Mags was slighter than her sister, more agile beneath her steel black coat. Junes was heavier-set and sturdier. Powerful muscles loomed threateningly beneath her red and black fur.

A hand flopped onto either side of her body to scratch between Mags’ shoulders and Junes’ hindquarter. Being encased by the animals while she slept helped to keep the nightmares away, not just the horrible dreams that came from the thoughts of those who shared her building, but the memories of the cases she worked.

Normal cops were haunted by the images of the crime scenes. On more occasions than Sookie wished to recall, she had seen detailed memories of those crimes. She had witnessed enough horrific things in her own time as an officer.

Today she would be seeing yet another haunting memory. Today she would see just what all had become of Marla Jacobs during her second interrogation with the husband.

Crawling out from between her dogs, Sookie went into the bathroom and got ready to start her day. Mags and Junes waited patiently at the door while the detective put her hair up in her usual, smooth ponytail. Clipping the leads onto their collars, she took them for their morning run before coming home to shower and dress for work.

Good morning, Detective,” a few colleagues greeted as she entered the bullpen.

Mornin’. Any news on Marla Jacobs?” Sookie asked as she locked her firearm in her desk drawer and started to buckle down into the paperwork neglected from the previous day.

Yeah,” answered an older detective named Burns who leaned against her desk, arms over his chest, “we found the rental Jacobs used.”

Did the proprietor confirm whether Marla returned with Jacobs from their tour?” she asked.

The owner, Jim Guidry, said Jacobs told him Marla went straight to the car when he went to get his collateral back on the airboat. Guidry showed us the vehicle, but confessed he hosed it down like he usually does after a rental is returned. We’ve got CSI going over it, looking for any biological evidence,” Burns updated the younger detective.

I see. Has Mr. Jacobs come back in for questioning?”

Not yet.”

Hmm,” Sookie hummed to herself thoughtfully.

I know that face,” Burns laughed. “You’re suspicious about something.”

Not really suspicious,” she murmured. “I’m more hopeful.” She surprised herself at her admission.

Hopeful? What, that we’ll find evidence?”

That we’ll find Marla,” She could not get Eric’s comment off of her mind.

A body would really help.”

I think she might be alive,” Sookie rose from her desk and retrieved her gun from the drawer. “Can you give me the address of the rental?”

Burns’ jaw slung open in surprise. “Why do you think she’s alive?”

Sookie shrugged, “Because I just don’t see a guy more worried about a baseball game than keeping a straight face during interrogation taking the time to do a good job murdering his own wife. Jacobs is a lazy, self-loving ass with an ego. I get the feeling he clubbed her and dumped her. If she was only stunned, she might have come to before drowning or getting caught up by a gator.”

That’s unreasonably optimistic.”

Sookie put her hands on her hips while she looked up at the ceiling. She was quiet a moment, as if contemplating just how unrealistic she was being. Finally she looked back at Burns and laughed, “Well, if I’m not, this job will kill me!”

{†}

Admittedly, Jim Guidry was considerably useless. He could not say for certain whether he had seen the wife, and his memory of Marla returning with her husband was circumstantial. He believed well enough that she had come back, but his memory had poorly fabricated an image of her return rather than genuinely witnessed the event.

Did you note how much gas they used?”

Of course. ‘Bout half a tank,” Guidry offered.

Mind if I take their boat out?” Sookie asked.

Be my guest. You’re gonna pay the rental, right?”

Of course,” she agreed.

Then she’s all yours. I’ll fuel her up.”

Thanks.”

Soon, Sookie was pulling away from the dock in the direction that the rental owner remembered the couple departing several days ago. Fortunately, rentals were down this season, and the Jacobs had been Guidry’s only customers that week. It was easy enough for him to recall the couple from nearly five days ago.

Coasting the bayou until she had spent about a quarter tank of gas, Sookie killed the engine and listened to the sounds of the swamp. The insects were humming loudly, nearly drowning out the sounds of birds that squawked in the distance. Every so often a wet flop of a gator slapping back into the waters rented the air.

Frowning now, Sookie reached over the swamp with her telepathy, searching for Marla. It was substantially difficult given that she had never met the woman. Her range was also considerably shorter when listening to strangers. Still, in the bayou there were few human minds to listen for and Marla should have been a beacon.

Unless she’s really dead, Sookie thought audaciously.

Starting the engine back up, Sookie went a little further into the swamp. After all, the rental owner had stated they used ‘about a half a tank.’

Please… Stop… Please… Help… Please… Please… See me…

Sookie cut the engine swiftly, whirling around.

Please… Oh God, please see me!

MARLA!?” Sookie called. “MARLA GRANGE!?” she used the woman’s maiden name. “HELP ME FIND YOU MARLA!”

A wet plopping sound hit the air, and Sookie spun quickly to see the ripples of a small stick bobbing in the water. Letting her eyes wander above to where the twig must have fallen, the detective saw the drooping limb of a willow; the sallow arms of a woman in its boughs.

MARLA!” Sookie cried, kicking the engine back on and speeding toward the trees. Checking for any nearby gators before clambering out of the boat, Sookie was scaling the willow soon after. “Marla, how you doin’? I’ve been lookin’ for ya.”

Are you an angel? Did I finally die?

I’m a detective with the Shreveport P.D. We’ve all been real worried about you, Marla,” Sookie assuaged her fears of death. “Are you hurt anywhere? Can you move at all?”

… Tired…” Sookie had never been happier to hear a person speak.

Oh, I bet you are,” Sookie laughed shakily. “I’m gonna get you outta this tree. You think you can help me?”

Marla shook her head with exhaustion, yet, despite her disbelief at being able to move, she still reached for Sookie. “Don’t leave me behind!”

I won’t. You’re comin’ back with me,” Sookie promised, wrapping Marla’s arms around her neck. It took a great deal of willpower for the telepath not to cringe at the other woman’s contact. Marla was reliving her trauma on a continuous loop, and it was bordering on physical pain for Sookie to remain mentally connected to her memories. “You think you can hold onto me? Don’t let go now.”

Marla’s weak hold tightened only marginally, and Sookie held her tightly with one hand as she scuttled back on the bough toward the base of the tree. Thankfully, Marla had only managed to climb the first row of branches, and as Sookie squirmed toward the trunk, she was close enough to the ground to lower Marla down first before jumping to the swamp floor herself.

Okay, Marla, I’m gonna pick you up and take you back to the boat,” Sookie told her lifting Marla into her arms.

Once the women were safely on the airboat, Sookie radioed back to the rental shop informing the owner to contact paramedics and the police department. She told him to let emergency response know that she had found Marla Jacobs. Alive.

{†}

I still can’t believe it!” Trent roared, raising his shot glass to Sookie. “All of Louisiana is a big-ass bayou, and you find a missing woman in it on your first trip out!” He clinked his shot glass with Sookie before they each downed their drinks.

It was luck,” Sookie mumbled. “Nothing more than heading off in the right direction and knowing how much fuel I needed to start my search. Marla was hanging out in a tree. She wanted to be found, so she made sure she was visible. That’s all.”

Don’t talk it down, Stackhouse!” Murphy, a fellow detective, snarled. “That woman’s alive because of you. Don’t forget that. Especially don’t forget to remember this moment as often as possible, ’cause it don’t happen often that we find an abused wife alive after a husband decided he wanted her dead.”

I’ll remember that,” she murmured. “Well, I should be getting home.”

It’s not even nine!” Trent complained. “You can’t end the party now!”

Sorry, I have to take care of the dogs,” Sookie apologized without sounding apologetic. It was rare that she indulged her department’s sense of camaraderie, but she had turned down the offer of barhopping far too many times this month. It would have been suspicious if she had not caved after such an enormous victory. “Have another round for me.” She threw down enough money to buy her department another set of drinks and left.

Leaving the bar, Sookie began walking to her apartment which was only half a block up the street. Shortly after being out of the bar’s glowing windows, Sookie’s back tensed with the sensation of being followed. Preparing for a confrontation, her eyes swept every possible attack point as her hand resisted going to her holster. She had been drinking, and the last thing she wanted was a run-in with IA over discharging her weapon under the influence.

Sookie,” a voice boomed, making the detective cringe as she spun around at the sound of her name. Her hand clenched on the butt of her gun, however; she paused when she saw Bill Compton in the shadows of the alleyway.

Damn it, Compton!” Sookie snapped, releasing her firearm and closing the catch on her holster. “Haven’t you heard of a phone? Who sneaks up on an armed person in the middle of the night?” she demanded. “And don’t call me Sookie!”

Right, right. Detective,” he corrected. “I heard about you finding that missing wife. I thought I would offer to take you out for a drink to celebrate.”

Sookie resisted rolling her eyes. “Actually, some of the other officers took me out already. I’m just now heading home.”

So early?”

Not all of us are vampires. Some of us have lives,” she snarked.

My apologies for saying so, but I think vampires live more than you do.”

Sookie snorted, “You don’t know me well enough to say how I live or don’t live.”

I know that being a detective at your age and with your gender is not something you came by easily. What else have you sacrificed, Sookie? Friends? Family? Relationships?” Bill closed the distance between them as he spoke, and a flurry of scarlet covered Sookie’s face as he nailed down his suspicions. “When’s the last time you even had a man, Sookie?” he breathed into her ear. “Don’t you want to let go for just a little bit? I’ll let go with you.” He placed his hands on her waist, gliding his palm up her side. When his mouth tried to capture hers, Sookie jerked her face away.

I told you not to be so familiar with me,” she whispered.

When’s the last time anyone was familiar with you?” Bill asked just as quietly.

As he leaned in once more, Sookie clenched her eyes shut in panic. She had successfully deterred male interest in her for years. This sort of advancement was almost unknown to her. Most of the men who noticed her were quickly put off by her scowl or slightly masculine attire. Trent had jokingly told her she had ‘Fuck Off’ tattooed on her forehead. Why, all of a sudden, was a man trying to seduce her? Why, all of a sudden, was her body frozen? Why, all of a sudden; was she thinking of… Eric Northman!?

Detective Stackhouse, is he bothering you?” a lilting drawl caused Bill’s shoulders to tense as he spun around.

Ms. Ravenscroft!” Sookie breathed in relief. “No, he was just leaving.”

Bill scowled before acknowledging the other vampire. “Pam,” he huffed.

Bill,” she said amusedly. Taking her tone as a sign of dismissal, Bill tore off into the dark night. “Has he been a nuisance to you?”

That’s pretty accurate,” Sookie mumbled. “What are you doing out this way?”

My residence is nearby,” Pam answered with a shrug. “You?”

That’s my building,” Sookie pointed to the corner building on the opposite street.

Oh, we are practically neighbors,” Pam smirked to herself before asking Sookie in a husky tone, “Mind if I come borrow a cup of sugar some time?”

And what would a vampire need with sugar?” Sookie frowned.

I could encourage you to lick it off my body,” Pam batted her eyelashes at the detective, making the mortal blush deeply. As Sookie sputtered to reply, Pam took pity and changed the subject. “Eric was crowing about you the remainder of last night,” she began conversationally.

I don’t see why,” she replied confusedly.

Let’s just say that Eric and I have a rather parallel taste in women.”

Oh!” Sookie gasped breathlessly.

Pam pouted playfully at Sookie’s response, “And it would seem his parallel wins this time.”

What?”

Pam’s pout transformed into a smirk, “When I flirt with you, you flush out of embarrassment. When he flirts with you, you flush out of arousal. It is plain to see who could get you in their bed first. Of course, you were flushing out of anger when Compton had you cornered. You are just one blushing little rose, aren’t you? Or do you have a circulatory condition?”

I’m just,” Sookie struggled for a word, “unaccustomed to advances like these.”

Lesbians?” Pam guessed.

Sex.”

Pam snorted. “A beautiful creature like you must have men and women throwing themselves at your feet every few minutes. Why do you feign being unaccustomed to it?”

Sookie gave the vampire a sideways glance. “Because I’m hyper-observant. It unsettles people, and most don’t wish to know me. I also carry a badge and a gun.”

Neither of those would keep interested parties out… Unless you wanted it that way?” Pam guessed. “That would explain the ‘fuck off’ look that is constantly plastered to your face.” Sookie snorted. Pam and Trent would get along well.

Hyper-observation isn’t as cool as it sounds. I see everything about a person when I meet them. I see the drunks, druggies, and abusers from a mile away. I see when I’m being lied to. I see when someone wants into my bed rather than my heart. And…” Sookie trailed off, unsure how to explain the conflict created by her telepathy. She might have been content with a one night stand if not for the fact she would have to listen to someone plotting the best way to escape after it was all said and done without any awkwardness or awakening her.

I see…” Pam observed the woman’s persistent blush, and it made a smile tug at her lips. “You do not have many friends, do you, Detective Stackhouse?”

What makes you say that?” the woman huffed.

Because that was a rather forthcoming disclosure you just made, and you are a very introverted individual. For you to share such a thing with a stranger like me makes me wonder if you have so few people to talk to that you are spontaneously spilling your guts to me.”

Squaring off her shoulders, Sookie responded sharply, “I believe I should be getting home, Ms. Ravenscroft. Please, have a pleasant evening.”

Sookie stiffly turned and walked the remaining distance to her apartment before running up three flights of stairs and diving for her dogs like a lifeline.

Oh, my girls,” Sookie mumbled into the dogs’ coats as they crowded her as she entered her apartment. “I missed you girls,” She hugged and scratched them in turn before changing into her jogging clothes and hooking their leads to the collars.

Down three flights of stairs, Sookie broke into a brisk jog as soon as she, Mags, and Junes were out of the apartment complex. After a quarter of a block, she was running so quickly that Junes was staggering to keep up, and Mags’ tongue was flopping ecstatically at finally getting up to her full speed, something Sookie rarely tempted.

Suddenly, as Sookie rounded a corner Mags yelped and back-pedaled while Junes lunged forward, growling between her panting breaths. Sookie, caught in the middle of the sudden change-up was spun around and dragged to the ground by Mags.

Are you all right, Miss Stackhouse?”

Sookie groaned at the voice connected to the body that had caused the protective and flight instincts of her dogs.

Mr. Northman,” Sookie grumbled, opening her eyes to the giant vampire, “is every vampire I’ve ever met intent on speaking with me this evening?”

I do not know what you are talking about,” the vampire confessed.

I’ve already had conversations with Mr. Compton and Ms. Ravenscroft this evening. Now I am having a conversation with you. That is all the vampires who have ever spoken to me… Well, aside from Grosse, the sex trafficker.”

Hmm, let us hope he does not make an appearance tonight as well. If he did, I would be forced to escort him back to prison.”

Yeah, yeah,” Sookie accepted Eric’s hand as he offered her help from the ground. He even assisted Sookie in untangling herself from her dogs’ leads.

I heard that you found the woman for whom you were searching. She is alive?”

Yes,” Sookie murmured.

Eric nodded. “I am glad it ended so well.”

It could have been worse,” Sookie agreed.

It is quite impressive that you found her in the bayou.”

Well, Marla’s tough and smart. She got herself out of reach of alligators but within view of a rescue party,” Sookie pointed out.

The vampire shook his head, “That is not what I meant.”

What did you mean, then?”

I meant that for you to go into the bayou and find her at all, let alone in three hours, is most impressive.”

I just got lucky.”

It is my belief that people who subscribe all of their accomplishments to luck do not truly believe luck had anything to do with it.”

To what do you attribute your accomplishments?”

Persistence,” he replied offhandedly.

Fine, then, I was persistent.”

Persistence takes more than a few hours, Miss Stackhouse.”

It doesn’t have to.”

True, but it is more fun that way.”

You like the chase.”

Only if what I am chasing is pleasant to look at from behind.”

Sookie blushed for some unknown reason. For a strange instance, she believed he might be referring to her, but quickly squashed the idea, despite Pam’s warning that it was true.

Well, enjoy the run,” Sookie murmured, getting her dogs to heel so she could sprint once more.

You as well, Miss Stackhouse,” Her eyes widened marginally as a fresh wave of blood flooded her cheeks. “With the dogs,” he explained, gesturing to the shepherds.

R-right. Of course,” she mumbled self-consciously.

Would you like me to run with you?” Eric asked carefully.

Er… No. Thanks.”

I could trail a little behind,” he offered in a raspier voice.

No, thank you, Eric,” she replied breathlessly.

Another time, then, Sookie.”

Just as he had the night before, Eric Northman was gone the next time she blinked.

Finishing her run for the night, much slower this time to Mags’ great disappointment, Sookie returned to her apartment in a sort of daze.

She could not remember a time when she had felt so off-center. Were her hormones battling her so fiercely now that even Bill Compton had managed to hasten her breathing?

No, she reasoned. It had not been Compton or his words that had sent her heart into a frenzy. It had been the thoughts they provoked about a certain tall, broad, blond Eric Northman. When Compton had asked when she had last been familiar with a man, she had thought of how Eric’s first name had felt spilling from her lips, and how sexy her name sounded husked by the giant vampire. She had a brief fantasy in that moment, pondering familiarity, where she let Eric into her bed.

Of course the fantasy ended very abruptly once he was laid out in her bed. She knew what would come after they were naked. Her over all absence of any experience at physical intimacy would be made abundantly clear, and Northman would snort dismissively her way. What hundred-something-year-old vampire would want to waste his time teaching a woman how to have sex when she was well into her twenties and should at least have the basic knowledge and mechanics down?

Sookie flopped onto her bed tiredly, curling a pillow under her head as Mags and Junes hopped up to circle thrice, and snuggled up against her stomach and backs of her knees. Both dogs let out simultaneous sighs as they sandwiched their mother, seeming to know she was spending too much time in her head again.

Burrowing her head into her pillow, Sookie contemplated, for the thousandth time in her life, just finding a random stranger and letting him have his way with her. Perhaps if she tried very hard, she could ignore his thoughts while he fucked her. Maybe she would even get a glimpse at pleasure during the act. A one night stand would not be very difficult to find. Sookie was well aware that her appearance could at least attract a single evening of company from a stranger.

Furthermore, if she was willing to chance it, why not go for a vampire? At least their mind would be silent to her. At least she could get lost in her own sensations and not dragged out of arousal by stray thoughts and fantasies of her partner. Maybe she could find a younger vampire that would not be put off by her inexperience?

Sookie groaned at the thought of putting herself in that sort of danger though. She had heard about how unrestrained the young vamps could be. It would be more likely she would suffer injuries if she bedded a fledgling.

Wondering idly if going her entire life without sex would be better than experiencing it even once, Sookie groaned at the longing ache that throbbed through her internal walls. Her body was craving more than usual lately. It screamed and sobbed at the notion of eternal celibacy.

With another exasperated groan, Sookie shimmied onto her back and muttered, “Junes, Mags, go to your crate.” The dogs hopped off of the bed obediently, and Sookie pulled the blankets over her body as she wriggled out of her clothes.


When she was naked, Sookie ran her fingers down her neck towards her chest. She squeezed her round breasts firmly before playing halfheartedly at her nipples. Quickly, she grew tired of increasing her tension, and instead plunged her hand down between her thighs for a swift release. The orgasm was pitiful, though better than when she first started allowing herself to masturbate earlier that year. She was becoming more successful at getting herself off. She rarely tired out her hand before cumming these days, but still managed to leave herself in an even worse predicament on occasion.

Maybe I should get a vibrator…she thought passively while her body longed for another orgasm, but she knew she did not have the endurance, physically or mentally, to provide it.

Lying in bed catching her breath, Sookie waited until her heart and breathing evened out before going to the bathroom and washing herself. When she came back to bed, she was both irritated and amused to find it perfectly dry.

I can’t even turn myself on enough to leave a wet spot; she thought bemusedly as she crawled under the covers once more and summoned her dogs back to bed.

She could not stand masturbating with her dogs in the room. It made her feel as though she was corrupting their innocence. Of course, Mags was currently sniffing at her crotch curiously, so Sookie had to wonder how much innocence they had to begin with.

Ew, Junes, don’t!” Sookie snapped when Junes tried to lick the hand that had previously worked overtime between her owner’s thighs. Tucking the tempting hand under her pillow, Sookie rolled onto her side and fell asleep.

On to Chapter Three

Never End Ch. 01

Chapter One: Good Night, Sookie

Sookie grabbed the phone just before it clicked over to voicemail. With a reflexive glance at the caller I.D., she was not surprised when her grandmother’s voice spoke to her.

Sookie, thank goodness you picked up!” Gran said breathlessly.

What’s wrong, Gran?” the young blonde woman asked as she pulled her hair into a tight ponytail before looping it into a rather severe looking bun.

It’s Jason,” the old woman said nervously as if the subject matter were enough to explain the situation.

Sookie grunted, “What has he done now?” She was haphazardly pulling her navy shirt on over the white A-shirt.

He’s been arrested,” Sookie froze halfway down as she buttoned her blouse. “For murder!” The woman’s fingers were still clenching the button and the receiving side of the fabric as she remained stock still. “Sookie? Did you hear me? Are you there?”

Yeah, Gran, I’m still here. Tell me absolutely everything you know as quickly as you can. I have to be at the station in thirty minutes.”

Her grandmother told Sookie all about the two women who had been found murdered in Bon Temps, whom they were both aware that Jason had known intimately. A clue about vampire bites was enough to get Sookie intrigued. “Okay, Gran, I’ll do everything that I can, but you have to keep it quiet. If word got out that I was looking into an active case involving a family member, things could get ugly fast,” Sookie explained. “I’ll get as much information as I can,” she assured before giving a few more calming croons and hanging up. “Stupid fucker,” she grunted while she unlocked the safe where her gun was kept, and quickly holstered it.

Leave it to my brother to cause me this kind of trouble, Sookie thought as she grabbed her keys off of the entryway table of her apartment. She would try and see if she could find some pictures of the murdered women as well as some background information on them. Her German Shepherd sisters watched while she went to the door.

Be good, Mags! Junes, don’t go picking any fights with your sister! Love you, guys,” Sookie told them routinely as she went out the door.

Ever since leaving Bon Temps over five years ago to pursue a career with the Shreveport Police Department, Sookie had spent little time back there. Of course, she called her grandmother several times a week and visited at least once a month, but she never wandered into town. Her reputation there was tumultuous at best. Most of the locals were unsettled by her “hyper-perception,” and the ones who were not afraid feared whatever problems her position might cause them due to Sookie’s appointment as the youngest female detective in Shreveport history. That career move had cost her a couple of friends, one being her own brother when she refused to pull strings to get him out of a DUI. The other friend she had lost was Tara who kept a distance from her telepathic friend for fear of her cousin’s, Lafayette, freedom.

It was all for the best, Sookie reasoned to herself on a near-nightly basis. Life was easier without friends or much family. The only person in her hometown who would claim her was her Gran, and Sookie liked it better that way.

There was far less to lose when no one loved you.

Morning, Detective.”

Hey, Stackhouse.”

Detective Stackhouse.”

Sookie waved distractedly at the greetings, going straight to her desk, and ignoring the stack of files sitting on the table. Instead, she hopped online to check into web articles regarding the murders of the women in Bon Temps. She was grateful to see their pictures in the same article with the most recent story about the identical deaths. Once her paperwork was completed, she printed out a copy of the images, and then Sookie left her desk to retrieve the paper.

What are you up to, Sookie?” Must be after dark, Sookie thought with annoyance.

How many times do I have to tell you not to use such familiarity when you talk to me, Compton?” Sookie snapped at the vampire. Not even a week ago, William Compton had strolled into the precinct offering his services as a confidential informant concerning Shreveport’s vampire bar. Rather than wasting thousands in supplies and man hours on the fruitless raids, Bill had offered to call the police department whenever he witnessed illegal activity.

But we work together!” Bill tried to laugh in a kindred way.

Folding up the paper she had printed, Sookie pocketed it before turning on Bill. “First off, you are an informant, not a colleague, Compton. As useful as you may prove to be, I trust informants about as far as I can throw them. Secondly, my actual colleagues don’t even call me Sookie. They call me Detective. They call me Stackhouse, but unless you’re my Gran or my brother, you will never call me Sookie.”

My apologies, Detective,” Sookie’s eyebrows rose at the attitude dripping from his voice when he used her title. She had to wonder about the claim of how old this vampire was. He had said he was around 150, though Sookie would have guessed he was adding a digit, and he was actually 15 by the disrespect he showed to authority.

Bill Compton walked away from the detective and Sookie went back to her desk, trying very hard not to roll her eyes at the vampire’s actions. Ever since he arrived, Compton had tried on several occasions to ask her out on dates, meetings, get-togethers, or parties. Even if he had not been an informant, Sookie would have still been suspicious of him. No one dated Sookie Stackhouse. She had resigned herself to a life of an old spinster by the age of fourteen; already owning two German shepherds and living in an apartment by herself nearly cemented her preconceived expectations of her life’s outcome.

Sitting down at her computer, Sookie read up on the vampire club that had made Shreveport oh-so-famous. It failed to give her an idea about any dress code, but Sookie could assume it was Goth. She already knew that an undercover operative would be out of the question. After her sex trade bust a year ago that had launched her career and earned her the promotion to Detective, Sookie’s face had been all over the newspapers. They were all candid shots, but vampires tended to be considerably observant. She could not risk being caught questioning anyone.

Instead, Sookie studied the images of the girls for quite some time, memorizing their faces so she would recognize them in the patrons’ heads at the bar. Perhaps someone would remember whom they were with. It really was too bad she could not read vampire minds.

It was quite the trade-off; she had realized back when she was a rookie patrol officer. She had pulled over a dark minivan late one evening, and had turned on the lights. Her first solo night canvassing for moving violations, and she managed to pull over a vampire!

Of course, she had not known that at the time.

When Sookie had approached the car, anticipating some soccer mom’s sob story about trying to get to and from the gas station with a secret pack of cigarettes after the kids had finally fallen asleep, she realized that the mind coming from the van was silent.

Her hand had inched towards her hip, greatly unsettled by the vacancy of thoughts, but she resisted touching her gun. After having joined the police force, Sookie had discovered the existence of Weres and realized what all of those red, snarly minds were. Somehow, she really came to like Weres, even though they never admitted what they were and she never asked. Now that she had the knowledge that so many had chosen to be firemen, police officers, and paramedics, it had brought immediate respect toward them.

Sookie tapped on the window of the minivan, not at all surprised to find a blonde woman behind the wheel wearing a Mary Kay pink sweater set. “License and registration, please, Ma’am.”

Mmm, what a delicious lady in uniform,” the driver purred at her, and Sookie raised her eyebrows in surprise. Okay, maybe not the complete run of the mill soccer mom, Sookie had thought as she accepted the I.D. and paperwork.

Do you realize that you were driving 60 in a 40-mile zone, Miss… Ravenscroft?” Sookie had asked.

I did, but it was not a big deal, right, Officer Stackhouse?” Sookie’s brow furrowed at the woman’s easy cadence. Most women would be sobbing or screaming at her by now. At least there should have been excuses flying.

Actually, it’s a very big deal. That’s twenty miles per hour over the assigned speed limit. Have you been drinking this evening?” Sookie asked, but she knew the blonde speed demon was sober by a complete absence of alcohol’s scent or strong aromas of perfumes to mask its presence.

I wouldn’t mind having a drink with you,” The driver was practically purring at her. “Would you like to have a drink with me, pretty officer?”

No thank you, Ma’am,” Sookie told her before going back to her cruiser and running Pamela Ravenscroft’s record. Finding it clean of any prior moving violations or outstanding warrants, the officer returned to the van and finished writing out the ticket. With a bemused smile, she handed it and her documents to the adventurous soccer mom. “I lowered the speed from reckless endangerment, but it’s still a hefty fine.”

Why did you lower it?” the woman asked in surprise.

Because you didn’t whine or make excuses, and even a girl in uniform can be flattered despite whether the interest is mutual or not,” Sookie had waved at the soccer mom as she headed back to her cruiser.

It had been almost a year later that vampires had come out of the coffin, and Sookie came to realize that the “soccer mom” had been a vampire, quite possibly, a vampire trying to use “glamour” on her.

Of course, Sookie came to find that the Weres she worked with were becoming increasingly curious about her. They had never seen a human cop be able to pull over a vampire and write a ticket, and Sookie had done so several times. She distinctly remembered hearing one of them think, amusedly, that Sookie had successfully pulled over the Sheriff’s child. This had horrified the rookie cop at first, thinking she had given a ticket to one of her colleague’s kids. Not that she felt being a cop’s child should grant a free pass, but it still had her nervous for weeks.

Sookie’s thoughts moved from her first vampire moving violation and returned to researching the club she would be surveilling that night. It was owned and operated by Eric Northman, a name with which Sookie was not unfamiliar. His money made circuits around the police station as well as other strategically placed campaign donations. She had never actually met him though. Some of the cops in the Vampiric Unrest Department as it jokingly was referred to had mumbled about the business vamp. He was short-spoken and to the point, very no-nonsense, and subliminally intimidating. Sookie was not sure what that meant, but to her, it would define him as if he had “dangerous” written all over him, in spite of never actually displaying said “danger” openly.

The detective found it odd that she had never seen a visualization of Eric Northman in the minds of her colleagues. More than a fair share of them knew the vampire and had spoken with him, yet none seemed to dwell on his appearance. Sookie considered the possibility that Eric Northman’s appearance would be underwhelming and nothing to really commit to memory.

You’re thinking awfully hard,” interrupted Benjamin Trent, a Deputy First Class whom she had gone through cadet training with, as he leaned against her desk.

Sookie shook her head. Trent had been the first Were she had come to know, and quite possibly the closest individual she had to a friend anymore. “You’ve gone on raids with the Unrest Department, right?”

Trent’s eyebrows rose comically at her sudden question, “Yeah, once or twice until Northman made that big campaign donation, and ‘suddenly’,” he threw air quotes around the word, “the Chief and Mayor didn’t think there was so much sinnin’ going on in Fangtasia.”

Sookie scrunched her face thoughtfully, but she was actually focusing quite hard on Trent’s own thoughts hoping to glean an image before asking, “Did you ever see Northman?”

Nah,” he said, “He wasn’t there the nights I was in on the raids.”

Oh,” she replied, disappointed. It would have been nice to know whom she should be looking to see.

Stackhouse!” her Captain called from across the bullpen. “I need you in Interrogation One.”

Sookie rose from her desk and walked toward her Commanding Officer, “What’s up, Captain?”

Missing wife,” he began. “Got the husband in Interrogation One. She went missing three days ago. Her name’s Marla Jacobs. I need you to work your magic, and find out what he knows.”

The department had discovered Sookie’s talent of hyper-observation and utilized it frequently to obtain information about suspects whom they could not get enough evidence on to warrant a polygraph. Of course, hyper-observation was just the cover Sookie gave for her telepathy, but her colleagues had come to accept and respect her abilities.

On it, Captain,” Sookie told him heading to the room.

Sookie entered the Interrogation room with a grim attitude. She had known the truth even before walking through the door. Mr. Jacobs had killed his wife. Her body was in the bayou, and most likely would never be recovered.

Good evening, Mr. Jacobs,” Sookie greeted with false bubbliness, examining the All-American-Boy in front of her. Daniel Jacobs could not have been more than twenty-four years old, with his ash blond hair parted off center and swept across his tan face. His hazel brown eyes were narrowed into frustrated slits.

Jacobs groaned as yet another cop came into the room to question him. He was fed up with the “good cop, bad cop” game, and just wanted to get home in time to watch the opening game of the Atlanta Braves.

I don’t know where she is. I filed the freakin’ missing person’s report! Why would I do that if-”

Well, Mr. Jacobs,” Sookie interrupted him, “to be frank, we have many people filing reports on people they know are never coming back. It’s actually a common thing, what with bayous full of ‘gators ready and willing to destroy evidence,” Sookie watched the man’s face tighten. “Wow, first guess, right out of the gate, huh? You were so poised before. Sure, you had the anger amped up to hide your tells, but I mention the bayou, and your face went whiter than a flour cake!”

Listen-”

No, no, no,” Sookie waved off his aggressive tone. “I’m not here to listen. I’m here to watch. Watch every little feature on your face while I figure out how and when you hurt Marla.” The telepath vividly saw the man on an airboat to tour the swamps. “Now, the question is, did Marla go with you to the bayou, or did you take her body there?” Dark brown hair, almost mahogany in the sunlight. An excited glean in blue gray eyes. A dainty foot in a baby blue Converse stepping onto the landing of the airboat. “I’m going to bet she went there with you,” Mr. Jacob’s jaw tightened. “Hmm…it looks like I’m right again. How do I do it? Well, if she went with you to the bayou, you must have been going under the guise of touring. So, you would have had to rent a boat. What do you think will happen when I canvas the rental spots with your and Marla’s pictures? Do you think someone will recognize you?”

Lawyer!” he suddenly said.

That’s fine. I have enough to start with,” Sookie rose from her seat and left the room.

Good job, Kid,” the Captain patted her back on her way past the Observation Room door. “You’ll be the youngest Lieutenant at this rate!”

Sookie smiled distantly when the Captain walked away to start printing handout pictures of the Jacobs’ to some of the Field officers to begin the canvassing.

Lieutenant…,” Sookie sighed when she went back to her desk to clear her paperwork and head home.

{†}

Cop, homeless person, cop, brimstone evangelist… Ugh!” Sookie turned away from her closet in frustration. She had no idea what to wear to Fangtasia! The vampires would know she was a cop the second they saw her, but the humans would be distracted analyzing her if she stood out too much. Sookie knew better than to try and be covert around the Fangtasia vampires. It would be better to be forthcoming, but if she was, then word could get out that she was investigating a case outside of her jurisdiction.

Sookie looked in the closet again. Something she had heard about Eric Northman was that he was a bit of a horndog. Not that she would jeopardize her glorified status as a spinster just to ‘pump’ the vampire for information, but perhaps standing out just might not be a bad thing, especially if she put her assets, that made her bullet proof vest maddeningly uncomfortable, to good use.

Taking out her red and white flowered dress, Sookie looked at it sadly. She had never worn it before. There had been a moment three years ago when Trent had been thinking about asking her out. Sookie had bought the dress on the pretense of wearing it on their first date. Later that week, Trent met a Were named Jenna, and that was the end of that dream. Trent and Jenna would be celebrating their first wedding anniversary next month.

Better late than never,” Sookie sighed, slipping off her clothes and putting on the dress. She left her hair down and grabbed a red clutch, throwing her badge and off-duty firearm in it. Next, she put on a light layer of make-up, and went down three flights of stairs to her car, knowing she would be walking up those steps barefoot later. She had almost twisted her ankle for every flight of stairs in her red heels.

Putting her purse on the passenger seat, Sookie sat in her blue Toyota for a second taking calming breaths. Once she pulled into the Fangtasia parking lot, there was no going back. If Jason did not forgive her for her lack of assistance with his DUI after this, she would have to call him a lost cause.

The drive was short, and the only sounds in the car were Sookie’s calming breaths. For as many times as she had faced danger in the last six years, she had never been more terrified than she was now, not for her safety, but for her career.

This is stupid. I’m not investigating,” Sookie reasoned with herself. “I’m just checking things out. Looking for reasonable doubt… Investigating,” she sighed with resignation. “Whatever! Family first! Jason’s not a killer, and I can’t let him get railroaded. Driving drunk was his own dumb fault, but this isn’t.”

Pulling into the parking lot of Fangtasia, Sookie saw a face that took her breath away. Her hair might have been pulled into a severe looking ponytail, and her pearls had been replaced with a spike studded collar, but Sookie recognized the flirty soccer mom instantly.

Getting out of her car, the detective approached the vampire at the front door. “Good evening, Ms. Ravenscroft,” Sookie hoped that she might be able to play off this acquaintance to her advantage.

Pam looked at the buxom blond who had approached her. “Well, if it isn’t Officer Stackhouse,” she purred. “Lovely in uniform and in a dress. Absolutely perfect.”

Sookie smiled easily at the vampire. “I thought I recognized you while I was driving past.”

Pam tilted her head curiously. “Past? You pulled into the parking lot specifically to come here. I do not mind being flirted with under false pretenses, but do not lie so overtly.”

Sookie rolled her eyes. “You gonna let me in?”

Depends. Are you the narc for a raid?”

Nope.”

Now that, I believe. Go on in,” Pam tilted her head toward the door. “Eric’s been chomping at the bit to meet you.”

Sookie did not know if she should feel unsettled by that or not. Rather than wilt, she asked coyly, “And why is that?”

A human who cannot be glamoured? What vampire would not wish to know such a mortal?” Pam shrugged as if this should be obvious. “Go on in.”

Attempting to keep her impervious façade, Sookie squared her shoulders and entered the vampire bar with an easy smile on her face. She tried not to revert to her ‘Crazy Sookie’ smile of adolescence, but it was proving difficult when she realized that she was better known than she had thought. Every vampire she passed looked at her curiously, recognition on all of their faces.

In the center of the bedlam that was Fangtasia’s dance floor was a dais hosting a rather impressive-looking chair that Sookie could only think of as a glorified throne. The throne was vacant at the moment, and the telepath humorously considered that Eric Northman was probably a short, unimpressive male who needed a stage to make himself be seen and noticed. Another hundred-something-year-old child, Sookie thought with annoyance.

Going to the bar, Sookie ordered a gin and tonic. Nothing said ‘not on the job’ like a hard, alcoholic beverage, and the detective wanted nothing more than to assure the population of the club that they were not under surveillance.

Officer Stackhouse,” a smooth voice rumbled near her ear, “or is it ‘Detective’ now?”

Sookie turned to have her eyes and head needing to tilt far back to see the face of the individual who had spoken to her. Standing before her was an Adonis seen only on GQ magazine covers. His golden hair hung in waves near his chin, his eyes were as blue as the ocean, and he was so tall that the woman needed to take a step back to fully appreciate his stature. Well muscled arms, but a lean, powerful frame wrapped in pale, vampire skin.

It’s Detective now,” she said, trying not to sound breathless, but at his smirk she knew that she had failed miserably.

Shall I call you Detective Stackhouse or Miss Stackhouse then, seeing as you are off duty?” He pointed at her gin and tonic.

Whichever you prefer,” she told him in a response so accommodating that it felt foreign to her.

The vampire tilted his head contemplatively. “Well, given that you are not here on business, I believe I would rather call you Miss Stackhouse. Perhaps we will come to more familiar terms by the end of the evening.”

You seem to have me at a disadvantage, Mr…?”

Northman,” he smiled in a rather disarming way. Delight flickered in his eyes that she did not know who he was on sight.

Northman!? Sookie reeled momentarily, but kept her face expressionless. He was not at all what she had imagined, although she could definitely see the subliminal danger her colleagues had thought in relation to him. Everything about him, from his frame to the way he held himself screamed ‘POWER.’

It’s a pleasure, Mr. Northman,” Sookie nodded at him slightly, knowing that vampires preferred not to shake hands.

I believe the pleasure is all mine,” he let loose another impressive purr with his words.

Are you part-cat, Mr. Northman? You sure seem to purr often,” Sookie smirked at him jokingly.

Most women appreciate it,” He grinned right back at her. “A mouth that can make quick vibrations is quite appealing to the ladies.” Sookie did not doubt that, but had never considered the enjoyment one could receive from such a technique. Her body responded in a way that she really wished it had not. She could feel her nipples harden, and her hand crossed her chest to rub her arm briskly. “Do not feign cold, Miss Stackhouse. I can smell you thinking of the possibilities,” Sookie’s face blushed minutely at his observation. “A blushing officer. How sweet.”

Not really,” Sookie snapped, trying to hide her embarrassment.

Is it true that you cannot be glamoured?” he asked when he felt her arousal subside with her unease.

Care to try and find out?” She raised her eyebrows in challenge.

Eric tilted his head in that contemplative way again and Sookie wanted to shake him like a bobble-headed doll. “I have no reason to try. It is rather uncouth to glamour unnecessarily, although I have it on the best authority that you are not able to be taken in by our ‘charms’.”

Ms. Ravenscroft.”

Pam,” Eric nodded in agreement.

If she told you, why did you ask?” Sookie demanded though not as sternly as she would have liked.

I was curious if you were aware of your immunity,” he explained.

Ah, well, I am. That sex trade bust last year made it pretty obvious. A vampire was running that show,” she told him irritably.

Yes, I know. I was looking into the circumstances when you stumbled across him,” Eric was maintaining eye contact the entire time he spoke and Sookie felt herself being drawn into the deep, blue pools. Very few dared to look her in the eyes, and she found the unfamiliarity of an unwavering gaze hypnotic.

Why were you looking into it?” Sookie frowned.

I rule over the vampires in this particular Area. Human trading has been outlawed in recent years. Of course, we are far more discrete than sirens and flashing lights.”

I pulled fifteen women and five men from that building. What’s discrete about that?” Sookie ground out.

How I would have dealt with Michael would have been much different.”

A slap on the wrists?” Sookie guessed with visible disapproval.

I cannot discuss the ramifications of such an act. It is a concern of Vampire Law. However, once your human justice system is finished with him, he will have the vampire system to endure next,” Eric assured.

Sookie, at last, took a sip of her drink and looked at the sweating glass a moment. “So, you’re in charge of the vamps in this area?”

I am.”

Heard of a couple of murders in Bon Temps?” she asked.

Eric’s eyebrows rose at the question. “I did not believe Bon Temps was in Shreveport’s jurisdiction?”

It’s not. Why do you think I’m drinking a gin and tonic?” Sookie said pointedly.

Eric gave her an entertained gaze. “I have heard that the women had vampire bites, so, of course, it was brought to my attention. I can assure you their deaths were not related to vampires.”

Not related, or not committed by?” Sookie made him clarify his answer.

The vampire paused before he replied. “Not committed by.”

Do you know what vamps had them?”

Playing with the edge of the napkin on which Sookie’s drink rested, Eric answered, “I tasted the one most recently murdered. I cannot say who sampled the first dead girl.”

Her name was Dawn, the one you used.”

Eric frowned. “Do you really think it is as one-sided as using? I give back plenty for what I get. She gave me her blood, and I gave her my body in repayment. Sometimes it is as simple as a transaction, other times, I might feel compelled to maintain a business arrangement if our encounters are worth it.”

Sookie scowled at that. “It’s always all business with you vamps,” Sookie sucked down the rest of her drink.

Not always, but most often,” Eric defended halfheartedly. “An eternity is a long time, Ms. Stackhouse. One does not commit so easily. Even mortals, in your limited time on this earth, have frequent changes of heart.”

Sighing at the turn in conversation, Sookie told him, “It was nice meeting you, Mr. Northman.”

One drink and you are ready to go?” Eric was only moderately surprised. “I feel used.”

I have work in the morning.”

In Shreveport or Bon Temps?” he smirked knowingly.

Shreveport. Dead woman to find.”

If you must find her, how do you know she is dead?” At Sookie’s hardened gaze, Eric shrugged as though to say ‘I suppose you would know better than I’ before offering, “You know, a vampire could be very useful at that, especially if you have a starting point.”

Sookie looked at him warily. “I think we’ll manage just fine.” Picking up her clutch, she said, “Good night, Eric.”

Good night, Sookie.”

The woman turned to look at him in surprise, but he was already gone. She had just called a man by his first name. Maybe it was the gin. The vampire at the bar had made her drink pretty strong, and she did not normally imbibe. Maybe it was the simple cadence of their conversation. Maybe it was the fact that she had just been talking to a walking God.

Whatever the reason, Sookie had broken her first commandment. Never get on a first name basis.

Still, she had broken her rule, and Eric had called her by her first name as well.

It was so simple. No underlying messages. No insinuation.

Good night, Sookie.

That was all.

 

 On to Chapter Two