Chapter 12

Eric came into consciousness the same way he had done every evening for more than a thousand years now. Immediately and fully aware of his surroundings and the fact that it was not right after sunset as it should be, but was rather just a few hours away from sunrise. It took a few more seconds to remember what had put him in the unfamiliar position of regaining consciousness-with a fucking headache no less! He searched his immediate surroundings for the little fairy bitch that had done this to him but found no signs of her presence in the basement of his bar. Well...the fact that she foolishly did not take advantage of his...temporary weakness...might be enough to keep him from punishing her too much when he tracked her down.

He stood and then became aware of the splatter of blood on the opposite wall. It made a messy almost V shape dripping down the wall and it was still rather fresh. It was Sookie's blood. The hot sensation rising from his gut through his chest and into his brain was not something he could recognise so he ignored it and searched for his blood, using it to track her down. She was hurt and bleeding and he needed to make sure she was alright. Then he needed to kill what the fuck ever had somehow gotten into his inner sanctum and caused her damage before taking her. There was no she could have gotten herself out of here, not with that much of her delectable blood dripping gruesomely down his wall.

He closed his eyes to better search for that thread of light that was the bond he had begun with her but was disturbed to realise that he couldn't grasp hold of it. It was still there, but it was a lot dimmer than it had been. It was no longer the tangible path that he could follow to her location and he was further disturbed to realise that it was dimming more even as he tried to grasp it.

He quickly dropped that plan to track her and instead began to search the air for her scent as well as the scent of whatever had hurt her. He could only find her scent, still infuriatingly mixed with that soon to be dead shifter. But it seemed off somehow. Not as sweet but somehow even more tempting. Hot and spicy almost tingling on his taste buds. He ran up to the bar following the scent and was shocked to find her sitting behind the bar drinking a glass of...he scented the air more deeply...tequila. She was sitting up ramrod straight with no signs of the weakness that he felt sure she must be feeling after such a drastic loss of blood as was evidenced downstairs. As he walked cautiously towards her he felt for the still dimming light inside that was his blood inside her. It was almost gone, something that shouldn't have been able to happen unless she was dying, but here she sat pouring herself another shot of tequila and knocking it back like a pro before she finally looked up and cooly acknowledged his presence.

"Viking." she greeted with a tilt of her head. "I only stuck around to let you know that the agreement we reached has been breached and so is now null and void."

What the fuck was she on about now? Who breached it? He knew he hadn't. How could he? He was unconscious!

"As you may have already noticed, the beginning of our bond is almost completely dissolved. Despite the possibility I now have of escaping you, I find myself somewhat reluctant to leave the area of my home and the people that I love. I am still needed here in Louisiana, and so am willing to open new negotiations with you. Do you find this agreeable?" she looked at him just as cooly as she had spoken, loving the look on his face. It was a mix of confusion, frustration, anger, and desire. And happily, underneath all of that and almost completely hidden she could see fear. She didn't know what the fear was for but that didn't make her any less glad to see it.

"How have cut the bond? What did you do?" he demanded.

"That is not something I am going to share with you Viking. Are you willing to open negotiations with me or should I look elsewhere?" she said, keeping her voice cool and downing another shot of tequila. She knew she was doing damn good at looking and sounding unaffected by his answer, but inside she was a mess of confusion. She didn't want to make any kind of a deal with this unmitigated asshole, but she trusted her Grandfather, and he had said that Eric was probably the most trustworthy vampire she was going to find in her area. So part of her hoped that he was willing to negotiate. On the other hand, her Grandma didn't raise no fools and she knew that this time around she was going to have to be extremely careful and detailed in the final agreement if she wanted to avoid any more of his abusive nature and she knew she'd probably be better off going to Texas and finding the other vampire her Grandfather had spoken of. Eric's maker, Godric.

"Where else do you think you could possible look to find someone older and stronger than me little fairy? I am the oldest vampire in Louisiana." he said smugly.

She wanted to point out that he was the oldest in America, and certainly not the oldest in the world. Hell, he wasn't even the most trustworthy vampire in America. She wanted to rub his face in what she had done while he was unconscious but frankly she had had enough of his volatile temper and had no desire to deal with it again tonight. The tequila she was drinking was keeping her calm enough to hide the changes that had occurred in her, as well as the confusionsadnessterror those changes had caused, but she couldn't count on that to continue if she had to defend herself against his insanity again and she really didn't want to clue him in to the new situation just yet. If ever. "Are you willing to open negotiations?" she asked calmly. If he couldn't give her a straight answer this time she was leaving. She had plans to make, defenses to erect and alliances she would need to forge.

He cocked an eyebrow and decided to go along with whatever game she was playing. Clearly he wouldn't be getting any answers from her as long as she was still focused on this foolish negotiation she wanted. "Yes. I am willing to open negotiations."

"Fine. We've already established that you desire use of my telepathy, access to my blood and body, and completion of a bond with me. Is this correct?"

"I also desire your love, respect and obedience, your...submission to me." he responded smoothly. She snorted at him. Again! "As well you to never make that noise at me again. It is very rude and I do not care for it. You should show me the respect I deserve."

"By waiting for you to wake and offering to open negotiations with you I have already shown you more respect than you deserve." she snipped. He opened his mouth to respond and she lifted her hand in the universal gesture of stop, or talk-to-the-hand, as this clearly was not a stop-in-the-name-of-love situation. "I am willing to offer my telepathy for a small fee, and to swear my fealty to your area, not to you and I will make that clear when I take the vow. With the vow in place the cost for jobs using my telepathy in your area would be just enough to cover costs for the time it takes to complete the job. For outside jobs I will expect to make a profit. A large profit for that matter as I seriously doubt my skills are easily acquired. I refuse to offer you my blood or body but I will be willing to revisit the issue of a blood bond at a later date if you promise to keep anything other than my telepathy that you might find out about me a secret and if our business is agreeable to both of us." she offered hoping that the business talk would distract him from his rant, or that her refusal of anything physical at all with him would throw him off his game long enough for her to negotiate in her favor.

"You're blood and body are the things I most require from this deal. Why would I negotiate with you and not get what I want?" he asked haughtily.

"Because that's a deal breaker for me. If you insist that any agreement must include those points than negotiations are closed." she informed him, feeling rather proud of herself for how even her voice was. Her back began to burn and she could feel a tingle in her skull alerting her that it was time for another shot of tequila. Eric watched her down the double shot and decided that if he could just keep her here and drinking long enough than he would be able to take advantage of her inebriation before finalising the deal.

"I am willing to continue discussing the matter until we reach a conclusion that is agreeable to both of us." he responded calmly while taking the bottle of her bar and pouring another shot for her. A triple shot this time. She only barely managed to bite back a smirk at his painfully obvious ploy, feeling quite pleased that he was going so easily along with her distraction she took a small sip this time rather than shooting the glass down.

"I feel I should make it clear to you that when I say my body is not on the negotiation table I full mean it. I do not want you to ever touch me without my permission unless it is an issue of safety. This and keeping my secrets is something that will be implicit in any agreement we come to. If you cannot agree with this point than negotiations are over because these are all points that I am not willing to concede." she informed him cooly glad to note that the tequila was doing it's job and the burn in her back was receding. "Do you agree to this point, Viking or shall we consider these negotiations ended?"

He did not like where this was going but she had stated her intentions that he not be allowed to touch her so bluntly that he couldn't see any way out of this that would make him happy. "Why are you so insistent on this point. Surely you must be curious about the pleasure that my touch could bring to you?" he tried to redirect.

She snorted again. He was definitely going to have to make that snorting thing she did a point in their negotiations. It was disrespectful and rude and he wouldn't put up with it on a permanent basis. "So far you have forced you blood on me and stolen mine while molesting me sexually, choked me into unconsciousness, hit me into the same state-twice, locked me up-twice, burned the very flesh from my bones, and threatened further harm to my person. Why would I ever want you to touch me again?" she said seriously.

Well when she put it that way...

"Fine. I am willing to concede that I will not touch you without your permission unless it is a matter of your safety. I still want access to your blood, and I still want a bond with you." he stated his terms.

"I may be willing to consider sharing my blood with you but I will not agree to a bond at this time." she countered.

He really wanted that bond but he was smart and knew that with the ability to touch her while drinking her blood he would be able to quickly change her mind about the bond as well as allowing him to touch her freely. After all, he did have a thousand years of experience in physically pleasing the opposite sex and if he played his cards right he could have her begging for his touch in no time. "I will be willing to forego the bond- for now- as long as I have access to your blood every night." he agreed, not quite succeeding in hiding his smug smirk.

"We are agreed on that point then. You have nightly access to my blood and cannot touch me without permission unless it is a matter of my safety. You cannot force your blood on me again or push me into a bond at this time but at a later date we will re-open negotiations on the possibility of a bond, and you will keep any abilities I may show you beyond my telepathy to yourself. Is this so?"

"It is so." he said simply. He felt that electrical rush of magic again and just barely managed to control his startled reaction to nothing more than a brief widening of his eyes.

Before he could question anything she moved on to the next point. "Now onto the matter of my telepathy. Do you agree to the terms as I stated them before? I will swear fealty to your area and will only require the costs incurred for the time of the job as long as it is for Area Five of Louisiana. For any jobs that are not for Area Five of Louisiana I will expect a hefty profit. Say... two thousand dollars an hour on easy jobs twenty thousand dollars per day on the more difficult ones as well as any expenses for travelling or hotels. I will not include the cost of food but if a certain wardrobe is required then either you or the client shall provide the costs for that. Is this agreeable?"

"Not entirely. My queen will be upset if she has to pay more for your services than I do seeing as I am sworn to serve her." he countered.

"That is not my problem as I will not swear to serve her or you. I will swear fealty to your area for an agreed upon term of, say... one year. At the end of this term, Area Five will have the first chance to negotiate new terms with me and if we cannot come to an agreement then I will negotiate my safety elsewhere. If there is a difference between what Area Five pays for my services and what your queen is willing to pay it is your job to make up the difference as the Sheriff of Area Five."

"I would require that you swear fealty to me. Not my area." he replied controlling the urge to force her into his terms.

"I refuse this point. I will swear fealty to Area Five or I will not swear fealty at all." she said. Damn. There goes her back again. She downed the remainder of the triple shot he had poured for her and quickly poured and drank another double shot.

Eric could not understand it. She had already drank more than half a bottle of his top shelf tequila. With her tiny body and the gin and tonics she had drunk at the beginning of this infuriating night she should be receiving treatment for alcohol poisoning already and here she was outmaneuvering him in negotiations and not even slurring a tiny bit. He did not like the confusion this little almost human was causing him and it was making him angry, a position that he knew was not a good stand to negotiate from.

How had this entire night gone so wrong for him?

"Will you accept the terms as I have stated them or would you like to negotiate the fees?" she asked.

If he stayed vague then he could possibly play around within the terms. "You swear fealty to my area and will receive costs only for jobs concerning my area. For all other jobs I am willing to concede that you receive one thousand an hour or ten thousand a day."

"So you've found a telepath that will work for less than my earlier stated terms?" she asked before pausing to wait for some sign...there it was. The ever so slight thinning of his lips and tightening around his eyes. "Fifteen hundred an hour or fifteen thousand a day, and I swear fealty to Area Five."

So much for his plans to keep the area point vague. He didn't sigh. But it was close. "Agreed."

"Good. Is there anything else we should negotiate?"

"I do not want you to share your blood with any other vampires."

"I will agree to that stipulation."

"You will not share your body with any other male either. Of any species."

"I already told you that the use of my body is not on the negotiation table. If you continue to try to make it a point of negotiation than all agreements we've come to tonight will be voided and I will look elsewhere for my protection." she stated. She may not be able to marry Sam and fulfill her dream of hybrid supernatural babies, but she'd be damned if she let him have any control over her body or sexuality at all. Even if that low growly noise he was making right now was kinda sexy and making her panties wet and her skin tingly.

Shit. Tingles again. She had to wrap this up. "I will agree not to give my virginity to anyone that is not you during the year of our agreement but that it as much control over my body as I am willing to give you. Take it or leave it." she offered. There was plenty more she and Sam could do without breaking that little bit of skin, and she wanted to be able to explore her sexuality after the things she had felt in the last couple of days, even if it was only in a somewhat limited way.

He didn't like it. He knew all about the things that were available without breaking a woman's hymen, having lived through part of the Victorian Age working around that stipulation while working his way through the Queens Court. But he wasn't so blind as to not realize that he could work with this little bit of leeway. And he could also get rid of the competition he already had as well as the competition that might come up later. "I'll agree."

She saw the look of victory in his eyes so she poured another triple shot and drank it slowly, buying time to think about that glint in his eyes. She didn't like it. Why would he suddenly be okay with her doing everything but that one thing after the fit he'd had about Sam's scent on her. Not to mention the way he had taken in that scent so deeply as if to...Oh! Duh! "I will as well as long as you agree to take no actions on anyone for anything I may do with them unless my virginity is taken."

Dammit! Why wasn't the alcohol affecting her thought processes yet? "I also want to know how you cut the bond. This is non negotiable to me. If you will not tell me than we will have no deal at all."

"Fine. I agree to tell you how that happened after we have finalized negotiations and come to an agreement acceptable to the both of us." God she hated having to talk like a damn lawyer, but she was still grateful for the lessons in negotiation she had received now that she could use them without fear coursing through her and messing her up. Thank goodness that all the horrible events of this night led to a renegotiation of their original terms.

"That is agreeable to me."

"Alright then. Let's drink to it." she said. Sharing a drink would be more binding than the handshake she had used the night before.

He only cocked that insufferable eyebrow of his. "I do not drink bottled blood."

She smirked and grabbed a mixed drink glass and a knife from under the bar. His eyebrow went higher and he moved to stop her as she brought the knife to her palm but there was an invisible barrier preventing him from touching her so he could only watch as she sliced her palm open and then made a fist squeezing blood into the glass on the bar. She grabbed another mixed drink glass from under the bar and poured the tequila into it at the same level as his glass of blood then raised her glass as if to toast him. "To the terms we've agreed on." she said.

He raised his eyebrow but matched her movements and touched his glass to hers repeating her toast before they both downed their drinks in one go. "Now that negotiations are over you will tell me how you managed to break the bond so easily."

"Easy he says." she muttered and then she snorted again. Dammit! He forgot to add that into his terms. "I think it would be better if I showed you." she muttered. He nodded and waited. "Um...we should probably go to your nasty little room downstairs. I don't want to...mess up your bar."

"That is fine." he said before reaching out to pick her up and run her downstairs, too eager for answers to wait for her to get there at a human pace. He was forcibly reminded of his deal not to touch her when his hands slid around her still two inches away from her skin. He growled in frustration at the evidence that he really wouldn't be able to bend this rule at all and she laughed. A lot. She laughed so hard tears squeezed out of her eyes and she had to clutch her stomach where it was beginning to ache. He just growled louder which made her laugh harder but when she finally got her self under control she decided to throw him a bone.

"You can touch me long enough to carry me to your nasty little room but no wandering hands." she said.

He grinned at her thinking he could work with that. After all, she hadn't said how he had to hold her and she may have specified that his hands couldn't roam but she hadn't said anything about his fingers. He rushed around the bar to stand behind her and noticed that she had dried blood dripping down her back in a shape similar to the V on the wall downstairs rousing his curiosity, but not enough to delay his quickly formed plan.

Sookie gasped and squealed when he wrapped one arm around her chest grasping her breast in his hand and then grabbed right between her legs with the other hand to hoist her up and hold her tightly to his chest. He shifted her just enough so that one of his muscular thighs would slip between her legs with every step and then he began using the fingers she hadn't put any restrictions on, tweaking her nipple with two fingers and stroking the seam between her legs with the other. "Cheater!" she gasped out, trying to fight against the heat that was suddenly running through her whole body. This was a whole different type of burn than the one she had been fighting against with the tequila. This was a burn that she hated just because it felt so good.

He walked around the bar and across the dance floor towards the back room, making certain to keep moving because he was quite sure that if he stood in one place it would go against the concession she had made and he would lose his chance to touch her before he accomplished his goal, but he walked slowly. Slower than she would have done on her own. After all, she hadn't said he could carry her so he could get them there quicker even though he was sure that had been her intention. He began to press and release with the palm that was gripping her pussy, knowing that he was adding a counter to the rhythm of his walking and pushing into her clit. If he could do this right he would be able to bring her off at least once before they reached his 'nasty little room.'

He succeeded. Twice.

Although she had been writhing and moaning during the walk down there, once he set her on her feet in the room she stumbled to lean against the nearest wall and glare at him. "Asshole." she said.

"I told you you would enjoy my touches." he said with a smirk.