Time is a relative concept to a being as ancient as myself. New, old, short, long are words that vary based on perspective. Fangtasia, for example should have been new to my thousand year old eyes. I had established it just over three year ago. A drop in the proverbial bucket of my life. Somehow it felt older.
The Great Revelation had been in equal parts blessing and curse. The blessing was that we no longer had to hide our existence from the mortal masses. We are vampire. Hiding may have been necessary for survival but it had been demeaning. Now we are in the open, free to prosper and legally profit from our prey. Not, of course that I advocated the recent trend of "main-streaming". For those vampire who choose to live among humans, catering to their sensibilities I feel only concept. They are hiding more than ever. Some I even suspect of trying to recapture their former humanity. Even if such a thing were possible, it was certain not desirable. What self-respecting vampire would willingly return to a life of being weak-minded prey.
Looking around the bar, the pathetic specimens were abundant. The tourists sat snapping their photos, huddled together for safety. As if being in herd would protect them if one of my people chose to break the rules of the bar. Not that they would. They have my orders. Any conduct that would hurt my business would not be punished lightly. The other group of human patrons were the vermin, the creatures other humans referred to a "fang-bangers". I personally preferred the term 'livestock'. The lazier of my kind appreciated the convenience this subculture provided, meals that would come to a vampire without glamour or even seduction. I partook occasionally because it is expected of me as Fangtasia's owner, but lately there has been this sense of dissatisfaction. Perhaps I miss the hunt. Or perhaps all humans have become so dull and predictable that taking their blood was uninspiring. Pam was apparently sharing my disquiet. One of the groveling masses had crawled across the floor to kiss Pam's boot. Her disgust was starkly apparent. Pam has even less patience with the foolish cattle than I did. Mindful of my orders she exerted only a fraction of her strength as she kicked him in the shoulder and sent him flying a few feet. I looked at her with mock admonishment.
"If you keep rejecting your food you'll go to ground hunger. Or perhaps you'd like some Tru Blood instead." Pam despised Tru Blood, as I very well knew.
"I will make my selection when I am good and ready. It's not my fault this crowd is exceptionally lackluster. Also I notice you have not chosen a companion for the evening." True enough. There was hardly a warm body in the room that would not welcome my advances. It is not conceited of me to think this way, it is merely the truth. I had any number of choices available to me, but how to choose when they were all the same. They were all disgustingly subservient, eager, and weak. All wearing the same dark gothic clothing that they somehow imagined would appeal to vampire tastes. Perhaps not all. In a booth across the room a human woman sat in a white dress with small red designs. The dress was tight and fit her well, revealing a tempting amount of tan skin, not to mention cleavage. Her long blond hung around sweet features. She was lovely. I would have her. Pam noticed the direction of my gaze.
"Yes, I saw that earlier. Unfortunately Bill is escorting her." Bill? Looking beyond the human I saw that Bill Compton, a recent addition to my area, was sharing her booth. The vampire had checked in with me a few weeks ago, as courtesy dictated. First impressions led me to believe Bill was a dull individual, but obedient and intelligent enough not to cause me problems.
"Pity." Custom dictated I refrain from poaching on preserves of vampires in my area. It was true other sheriffs had been known to overlook the custom when it suited them, but I'd always found such behavior ill-advised. The self-gratification wasn't worth it in the long run. Vampires could hold grudges for long periods of time, however minor the slight. One specific human was hardly worth the inconvenience.
Still there was always the chance Bill will be lured away by one of the throng. He would be a fool to abandon his prize but sometimes there was no accounting for taste. I resumed my conversation with Pam, every so often checking to be sure Compton hadn't left his white lamb untended. Each time I was disappointed. Compton, it seemed was no fool. This revelation put me in an inexplicably foul mood. I turned away supplicants who I would have settled for on an ordinary night. Pam, who knew me better than any creature except my maker, noticed the change in my disposition, but she wisely choose not to comment. The slight quirk of her mouth was all that gave her away when the visitors approached our table. I scowled at them until I realized that it was Bill and his companion. Dare I hope he had brought her as a present for his sheriff? If so, Bill would be considerably raised in my esteem.
"Bill." I nodded to him in greeting before resting my eyes on the girl. She was beaming energetically her eyes traveling from Pam to myself. She smelled of vitality, the sun, and some other delectable scent I couldn't quite identify.
"Who's your friend?" Pam's fangs had run out a little leading me to believe that A)she wanted Bill's companion for herself B) She wanted to frighten the human, or C) She wanted to irritate me. Knowing Pam, it was undoubtedly A, B, and C.
"Hi, I'm Sookie Stackhouse." Unusual that she didn't defer to Bill to make the introduction. She and Bill must have not been together long. Perhaps they were not together at all. Despite the fact Bill's hand encircled her arm, she had no marks of ownership on her. No visible bite marks of any kind. That thought made my mouth water. If what she smelled like was any indication her blood would be as much a treat as her body.
"Aren't you sweet." My words implied an invitation a beautiful woman such as this one must be familiar with. I was already imagining sampling her and finding out for myself.
"Not especially." That was not the response I had expected. If she was mildly clever I would have pictured a response such as "Very," or "See for yourself". If she was dim an inviting smile would have served quite well. Her reply struck me as a refusal, albeit a polite refusal. This unprecedented occurrence provoked my first laugh of the night. Pam quickly followed suit, no doubt for the same reason.
"Sookie this is Pam and I am Eric." Pam and Bill nodded to each other. I waited to see what the breather would say next. I noticed her marginally opening her mouth then close it as though signaled to be silent. I suspected Bill's grip on her arm had something to do with it.
"My friend Sookie would like to ask a couple of questions." She was one of those. How disappointing I glanced at Pam, who seemed to share my sentiment.
"Like how long are our fangs and what kind of coffin do we sleep in?" I mentally added 'How many humans have we killed for asking stupid questions?' to Pam's list. Tourists, honestly.
"No, ma'am." It seemed the woman was speaking for herself again and in such a surprising manner that neither I nor Pam knew what to make of it. Humans who knowingly come in contact with vampire usually speak with fear, hate, or lust. Sometimes it is a combination of these emotions. This woman, Sookie Stackhouse, spoke with respect, but only the polite respect she would have afforded to a fellow human being.
"I'd like to know if you've seen either of these women in the bar." She rummaged through her purse and produced two pictures which she presented to me and Pam. A glance at Bill told me he was not happy. His face had gone quite expressionless. Bill was very aware of the unusual nature of his "friend" and was probably regretting bringing her to my attention. Returning my focus to the photographs I choose to answer the woman's questions. Certainly there was no harm in it and perhaps if I proved cooperative, she would prove likewise.
"I have been with this one. She liked pain." I indicated the woman I had tasted. Neither her blood, nor the sex had been particularly memorable. The other woman was less attractive. If she had come to the bar she would have been beneath my notice. Pam seemed surprised I had responded, but like a good child, she followed my lead and confirmed that both women had come into the bar. The woman seemed satisfied and returned the photographs to her purse once more. How intriguing she was.
"Thank you very much, that's all of your time I need to take." Again I had the oddest sense this human did not understand or perhaps acknowledge the difference between her kind and mine. She turned to leave, despite the fact I had not dismissed her. I looked to Bill to indicate my displeasure at her attempted departure. Bill's face had become colder still but his grip on the human's arm prevented her from moving. Her surprise was evident. How naïve she was.
"Bill, are you quite attached to your friend?" A polite request was always advisable to start with. If Bill was prepared to be reasonable there needn't be any conflict what so ever. Bill knows my reputation well enough to know I can be generous to those who please me.
"She is mine." And to think I'd believe Bill to be moderately intelligent. I'd have to pursue this at a later date. I inclined my head to indicate that they were temporarily free to go while giving the human a final eye roll. Bill's frame relaxed. He must not have realized his reprieve was only a temporary one. Sooner or later Bill would either lose interest or need a favor from me for which I'd demand a specific payment. About the woman's willingness I wasn't abundantly concerned. Clearly if she was Bill's she had no objection to vampire lovers, and when it came to vampire lovers, few were better than me.
I followed her with my eyes as they made their way back to their booth. Even with my vampire hearing I couldn't discern their conversation from the bar's noise. They appeared to be having a disagreement of some kind. That was good.
"It's unlike you to concede so readily Eric." Pam had decided to stir up trouble. It is her favorite pass time and her go to activity when she became bored. I generally allow her to get away with it as she is my favorite child.
"Who says I've conceded anything?" The fight appeared to have reached its conclusion. Bill was standing, but not apparently to leave. He moved through the crowd toward the bar. The woman, Sookie, appeared to be awaiting his return.
"Pam, if you would?" Pam had left the table before I'd finished the sentence. She knew me very well.
Turning my attention back to the woman, I noticed her posture was different from how she was sitting earlier she was keeping her head down as though she was aware of my gaze and deliberately avoiding it. Bill must have said something to her. I felt a wave of irritation toward him. I was his sheriff, he should be acceding to all my wishes, whether great or small, rather than hindering me. In my pique I decided to break custom and use my glamour on a human declared to be another vampire's.
I reached to Sookie Stackhouse with my will and commanded her to come to me. It didn't matter that she wasn't looking at me. My thousand years of unlife has granted me enough power that I didn't need eye contact to trap a human's mind. Sure enough she looked over at me almost immediately, but her expression was of confusion, rather than the blissful serenity of the glamourized. She didn't leave her booth. I pushed even harder, puzzled. She still didn't come. Instead she turned back to Bill, who had returned with their drinks and was looking angrier than I'd ever seen him. Not the Bill's ire troubled me a great deal not when I had so many other things to think about.
What was Sookie Stackhouse, that I couldn't glamour her? I had thought her merely human, a vital, attractive, and unusual human, but still a human. Yet there had been that slight whiff of…something. Not vampire, shifter, were, or witch, but something else, something other. And Bill had known it or he would have been surprised, not angry at my failed glamour. Bill had been holding out on me. Not smart Bill, not smart at all.
Within a minute Bill and Sookie were standing, and heading to the exit. I initially thought they'd been fleeing me, but Bill signaling me as he passed my table told me otherwise. Trusting both my instincts and him I did as advised and evacuated Fangtasia. I grabbed the bouncer at the door in my flight as she was already on way, but Pam had already left for the night and I trusted the others to look out for themselves.
I waited by my car as Bill and the human followed me outside.
"There's going to be a raid," Bill said, by way of explanation. I would require more of an answer than that.
"How do you know?" Bill looked conflicted, aware that silence would not suffice but still reluctant to answer.
"Me," It appeared the human who was more than she seemed was the one Bill hadn't wanted to expose. His loyalty was interesting, "I read the policeman's mind,". So that was her little secret? This could potentially be very useful. To know humans' real intentions, to see through their deceptions could be invaluable to my businesses. I wondered how this little quirk would affect the quality of her blood. I vaguely recalled the gypsy woman four centuries ago who also had abilities beyond the normal human range. She had known me for what I was right away, but hadn't exposed me. I in turn knew her for many nights following.
"That's interesting. I had a psychic once. It was incredible." Sonja was her name I think.
"Did the psychic think so?" Wasn't she feisty? What a refreshing change she'll make from the obsequious wretches I usually bedded.
"For a while." At least up until her family had realized the significance of the bite marks and stoned her to death. A regrettable waste. There is no account for the savagery of human nature. I would have said more but police had arrived. Sookie might now leave with Bill, but that would not always be so. Someday, someday soon, she would be mine.