Charlaine Harris owns all of this.

How in the world did I ever get myself into this position? I pride myself on being a damn good reporter. And a generally bright person. And of course, a telepath, but nobody else knows about that and I'd like to keep it that way. And yet, smart, telepathic or not, here I am stuffed in a closet with my hands and feet tied, terrified that today just might be my last day on this earth. I'm only twenty-five years old and I had plans with my life, goals to achieve, a happily ever after to search for. Thoughts like that make me think of Eric Northman. No, he's certainly not the kind of man I thought I'd have in my life, and yet here I am, facing the real possibility of dying and he's all I can think about. I've only known him a few weeks and in that short amount of time, he has gotten completely under my skin. Heck, I just might be in love with him.

I assumed that everybody could read minds when I was little. It wasn't until I started getting unwelcomed attention in school and had to go see lots of "special" doctors that I learned to keep my mouth shut about it. Now the only person who knows is my brother, Jason. Everybody else just thinks I'm a little crazy, which is fine. I'm used to that. I've learned how to control it a bit, and can now kind of put up shields so I'm not constantly bombarded with thoughts. But there's always the din of noise in the back of my mind even with my shields up. That's why I was so shocked the night that Eric snuck up on me. I was in the break room at the station one night waiting for an assignment. I was pouring myself a cup of coffee when I was startled by his voice behind me. All he said was, "Good evening," but I nearly jumped out of my skin. I turned and must have been staring at him with an odd look on my face because he followed with, "Is there something wrong?" How do you tell a person that you can't hear his thoughts like you can everybody else's? Well, you can't.

"No. I'm sorry, I guess I just didn't hear you come in." I looked down to my shaking hand holding the coffee cup.

"Maybe you should switch to decaf." I kind of laughed nervously. "I'm Eric Northman, by the way."

"Oh, Sookie Stackhouse. Nice to meet you." He didn't extend his hand to shake mine, which I guess made sense since I was holding my cup of coffee that apparently should have been decaf.

Eric Northman filled a cup from the water cooler and left the room with a polite smile. I sat down in the closest chair to regain my composure. I told myself that I was shaken up because I had never had anyone sneak up on me before. It was alarming that Eric Northman's thoughts were hidden from me for some reason. But the real reason I was shaking was because Eric Northman was the sexiest man I had ever laid eyes on. Jiminy Crickets, he was positively breathtaking. Tall, blond, broad-shouldered. His presence just kind of filled the room. His face was beautiful and masculine at the same time, but what really got me was the color of his eyes. I had never seen eyes like that before, and wondered what kinds of wonderful goodies living your life with eyes that color must get a person. I felt lucky just to get to see them for a minute. And I was hoping to see them again very soon. Crystal blue. Pale turquoise. Clear aqua. I'd never get over them.

I got my assignment and went out and got the story before the eleven o'clock news went on the air. I got home at a fairly decent hour considering, but had trouble falling asleep. All I could think about was Eric Northman and his blue eyes and silent mind and perfect body and masculine scent. I had never been so affected by a first meeting before. A part of me wanted to chastise myself for having a silly school-girl crush on a perfect stranger, but another part of me just wanted to enjoy the feelings. It had been a very long time since I'd had a boyfriend. I'd broken up with Bill Compton months before and hadn't been even remotely interested in dating since then. In a way, that was good because I was able to focus completely on my work and I could see that I was doing a good job. But another part of me—the private part—the part that made me more of a woman and less of a reporter, had missed that element in my life. I hadn't thought about sex for a long time. I'd had no need whatsoever. But for the first time in months, I found myself feeling need and want and plain old lust, and I gave myself permission to relish those feelings. I closed my eyes and touched myself and wasn't even surprised when I heard myself whisper a name shortly after: Eric.

Later that week, I casually asked Sam, my boss and the station manager, about Eric Northman. I was trying to seem as nonchalant as possible, but feared that Sam could see right through me.

"Oh yeah, Eric. He's doing a series of interviews for the station. Mostly local politicians, business owners, that sort of thing. But they're one-on-one in-depth interviews. We're hoping to put them together in a show we can air after the late-night talk shows. He's cheap and highly recommended. He uses the studio late at night, only needs one cameraman. Really, there's not much at risk even if the show doesn't work. He's some big shot from CNN, I guess semi-retired, and just wanted to come here to do these interviews."

"From CNN?"


"I've never heard of him. And isn't he awfully young to be a big hot shot?"

"Oh, I think he went by a different name."

"Well, that's odd. What was it?"

"Um, I can't remember."

"What do you mean?" Sam seemed a little confused.

"Well, anyway, he came highly recommended, like I said."

"Recommended by whom?"

"Um, I'm not sure." Sam was definitely rattled, so I lowered my shields and listened to his brain, but there wasn't anything there. It was the oddest thing. I repeated my questions and listened again, and it was as if there were blank spots in Sam's memory. I had never felt anything quite like it, and I was more than a little worried about Sam. I was also even more curious about Eric Northman and decided to use my well-honed reporter skills to learn more about him. He had definitely piqued my interest.