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.”
“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 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.
“It is a sex room. Shackles, chains, whips… A bed big enough for eight.”
“Have the sheets been washed since the last orgy?”
“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?”
“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 am I worth?” he asked.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
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.