A/N: Sorry it's been so long folks! If anyone is still reading this, please feel free to yell at me. It reminds me which story I should be working on!
I laughed at the face Eric pulled as we waited at the bar. The man didn't like waiting, and he certainly didn't like waiting for a drink, being so used to prompt service at his club. Of course, when we did attract the attention of the bartender, he took my order while staring pretty openly at my tits. Eric certainly didn't appreciate it, and audibly growled at the guy, who practically sprinted off to fetch my gin and tonic.
"Geez, Eric, chill out. It's not the first time a guy talked to my boobs, not my face. You've done it plenty of times yourself." I hugged him around the waist and gave him a quick half smile.
He, of course, was still frowning and watching the bartender. "Yes, well, he should be more professional."
To give the guy credit, he was back very quickly with my drink, Eric glaring daggers at him the whole time. I grabbed some money out of my purse, since I hated that Eric was trying to pay for everything tonight. I'd been very gracious about him paying for dinner, I figured he could let me have this. Of course, when I looked up from my purse, the bartender had already turned around to help someone else and when I dropped my shields to see how much I should be slipping into Eric's wallet later, the guy's thoughts were fuzzy, kind of out of focus.
I elbowed Eric in the ribs, none too gently. "Eric," I hissed, "did you seriously glamour that guy into giving me a free drink?"
He smiled, making me picture a cat licking cream off his whiskers. "He thoroughly enjoyed looking at you. The least he could do is buy you a drink." I sighed, not particularly wanting to hash this out right now. I suppose, in a way, it was almost deserved. The man hadn't even tried to meet my eyes. Eric's arm wrapped around my shoulder and pulled me to a vacant table. "Now you can sit and drink it, and then dance with me." He pulled out a chair for me, and I sat, shaking my head slightly.
Eric, of course, still looked pleased with himself. He pulled his chair close to me and leaned in to speak to me, brushing my hair away from my neck. I shivered as his fingertips traced over my skin. He was being extra touchy-feely tonight and it was driving me a little crazy. Good crazy, but still crazy. I had to force myself to focus on his words. "And then, lover, when you have had your fill of dancing and drinks. I am going to take you home and I am going to fuck you in this dress, and out of it, until dawn. Does this sound like an acceptable plan?"
I took a gulp of my gin and tonic. Eric's hands were roaming quite a bit, one tracing up and down my spine as I leaned lightly forward in my seat, the other tracing patterns on the inside of my thigh, just at the edge of the hem of my skirt. Did I really need the dancing part? Maybe just the part where we went home and he fucked me until dawn. I shook my head slightly, trying to focus. "Sure Eric, sounds like a good plan." My voice sounded a bit breathy, but I could work with that. My free hand found one of his thighs, my fingers playing with the inner seam on his jeans. I leaned in and kissed him softly, feeling the tips of his fangs against my slightly parted lips before I steeled my resolve. We were going to dance to four songs before we left, at least. And I was going to finish my drink first. I took another gulp. "So, honey, anything exciting planned for the week?"
He leaned in close again as he spoke. "I have some very exciting plans for tonight. Perhaps you'd like to discuss those?"
I laughed. Sometimes he was just so over the top. "Come on, Eric, let's have an actual conversation. What are you up to this week?"
He sighed theatrically, but shifted slightly away from me, one arm still casually draped over the back of my chair, his finger tips absently brushing the exposed skin on the back of my arm. "Well, Pam has been talking about doing another calendar. We didn't do one for this year, because of the general upheaval from the takeover, but things are fairly stable now, and we have a good base of vampires in the area. It sold very well last time, so it seems like a worthwhile idea."
I nodded. I certainly remembered that calendar. I still had it, folded open to January, tucked away in my closet, as well as a photo that hadn't made it into the calendar, one he'd sent me as a note. "Sounds like a good idea. Which month would you be this time?"
He grinned. "I'm thinking perhaps December, to save the best for last." That got me a wink. "Of course, you could go through the proofs with me, to help me choose the best one. I'm still hoping you'll relent and let me have a photo of you."
"I don't think I could ever pose nude. Posing in clothing is bad enough. Did I ever tell you about the time Claude got me to pose for some photos with him?" Eric shook his head, looking slightly puzzled. "He was entering a contest for models for the covers of romance novels, and he wanted to have some portfolio pictures. Of course, he decided that it wasn't enough to just have pictures of himself, he needed a blonde to pose with him. So naturally, he asked me, since all the blonde stripers he knew would expect him to pay them and he knew I'd do it for free. We got dressed up in ridiculous outfits and everything. Claude did win the contest, though, so I guess it was worth it. I've even got a poster of the cover he's on. He sent it to me as a thank you a while back."
"Do you have any of the pictures of you?" I couldn't tell if the idea made him horny or angry.
"Nope." I popped the 'p' and took another long sip of my gin and tonic. "Claude might still have a couple in his portfolio, or the photographer might still have them. I never even saw the finished product, I just know what a pain in the ass it was, trying to pretend to be attracted to Claude, while he pretended to be attracted to me."
Eric laughed at that and I could feel his mood leveling out. "I've not spent much time with your cousin, but even with my limited exposure, I could imagine it would be hard to ignore his personality." Eric was right. Claude was, generally speaking, an asshole and completely tactless. Still, he was family and he had his good moments. Eric changed the subject. "I was hoping you could come and sit in my club this week. What is your work schedule like?"
I shrugged slightly. "I'm on about twenty hours a week as I see out my notice, so not too busy. I'm working Wednesday during the day, Thursday night and Saturday day. I've got to meet with a state prosecutor about Arlene's trial on Tuesday during the afternoon, and Wednesday night, I'm going to a baby shower in Clarice for my friend Tara. So, I'm free tomorrow night, Tuesday night, Friday night and Saturday night. I guess tomorrow or Saturday would be best, since I won't have to work the next day. What do you want me listening for, exactly?"
Eric pursed his lips. "Well, we always get threats, being a vampire owned business, but some that we've received lately…" He paused. "Seem a bit more official."
Now I was just confused. "Official how?"
He shrugged. "Normally it's the usual drivel from religious groups. 'You will burn forever in the pits of hell, spawn of the devil', that sort of thing. Recently, there have been threats of a federal investigation into our business practices. We're not doing anything particularly wrong at the moment, so I honestly don't know what kind of federal case could be brought against us, but in order to investigate, agents would have to come to the club. I'd like to know if any show up, get a better idea of what they might be looking for."
I cradled my head in my hand. "Shit, Eric, I bet I know what this is about. It's Lattesta again, I know it. Since you're helping Sam clear up his troubles out of Monroe, he's going after you. This is all my fault." I felt tears stinging the corners of my eyes, but I refused to cry.
I felt Eric's fingers on my chin and he gently lifted my face so I could look him in the eyes. "Dear heart, don't let it concern you. All visible aspects of my business interests are above board. He can look all he likes, but he isn't going to find anything." I tried not to dwell on those aspects of Eric's business that weren't above board. I had a sneaking suspicion that the FBI had ways of finding those things you least wanted them to see. Eric's thumb stroked my cheek. "Tell me, what does this man look like. I've somehow not met him yet."
I shrugged. Agent Lattesta was so average as to be unremarkable. "I guess he's tallish, maybe five foot ten. He's got dark hair, it's pretty short. He's white, doesn't get out in the sun much. Maybe forty or forty-five."
Eric was frowning now. "I think he might have been following us earlier." I gasped. That was just insane. Why would Lattesta bother? I mean, I knew he was scared of me, and Hunter, and I knew he didn't like me, but why would he be following me around Shreveport? What was he even doing in Louisiana? Was he attending another hearing or something?
And why had Eric not bothered to tell me we were being followed? "Okay, why am I just hearing about this now?"
Eric pressed his lips together slightly. "I didn't want to worry you, and it did not yet seem like a credible threat. I told Pam to be aware."
"I don't appreciate that, at all, Eric. With all that's gone on in my life, everything that's gone wrong, I need to have as much information as I can. I don't like being blindsided." I was angry, but mostly because I was scared. "If he's watching us, we need to get out of here."
Eric shrugged one shoulder. "I don't particularly see why. We're in a public place, and if this man is with law enforcement, it seems unlikely he would do more than verbally threaten where it would be observed. Even verbal threats could cost him his job. Most likely, he just wants you to know he hasn't forgotten you, even if he has been officially forced to leave you alone, because of your great grandfather. Since you have given the shifter your notice, he may feel that he has caused you trouble, and perhaps he is feeling victorious and a bit cocky. He was not being evasive at all when he followed us. I can only assume he wanted to make it clear that he is keeping an eye on you. I don't see any particular reason to allow this to ruin a very enjoyable evening." He leaned in, brushed lips just below my ear, making me shiver. "I'm certainly enjoying myself."
I rolled my eyes. Of course Eric was enjoying himself. He was flirting with me and thinking of a potential fight. The last of my drink went down in a gulp. I stood, pulling on Eric's hand. "Well, if we're staying, I want to dance." The music pumping through the speakers had a good beat. "You know I love dancing."
Eric rolled his eyes at me, but followed me out to the dance floor. I'd almost forgotten what a good dancer Eric was, and as we moved together to the music, my worries about Lattesta fell away. Eric and I joked and laughed and I realized how very much I loved the man. We had so much fun together, when the world wasn't falling apart on our heads, and somewhere along the way I'd almost forgotten that. This was the Eric I'd missed for all those months, more even than I'd missed my Eric. I'm missed my friend, and having that back meant even more than having him as my lover, though having that as well really was the icing on the cake.
I lost track of the number of songs we danced to as one track bled into the next. Finally, when I was hot and sweating, but oh so happy, I caught his eyes. Seeing the happiness reflected back at me, my heart swelled, and I felt so very, very much. I co9uldn't find words, just pulled him down to me for a kiss. "Come on, lover," I said with a wink. "Take me home."
He grinned back at me. "Of course, Sookie. As you wish."
The comment made me wonder. "Hey have you ever seen The Princess Bride?" He looked back at me as we threaded our way through the crowd, which had started to thin, and shook his head. "Seriously?" An arched eyebrow. "Well, that has to change as soon as possible. You're so coming over for a movie night. That is a classic." The cool night air hit my skin in a wave as we left the club, and I closed my eyes for a moment, just breathing it in. When I opened them, I saw Agent Lattesta standing in front of us, holding a gun.
Eric pushed me behind him, but I refused to stay there, pushing at him until I was in front of the much taller vampire. When he tried to pull me back again, I shook my head once, sharply.
I nodded at the FBI agent. "Good evening, Agent Lattesta. You having a good night?"
A small crowd was gathering, as people who were drifting out of the club saw the gun being held on us. I hoped that I could keep Lattesta talking long enough for the cops to arrive. "You're wrong. You don't deserve to live a normal life like the rest of us."
It was nothing I hadn't heard before, both aloud and from people's thoughts. I kept my voice calm. "Well, I don't think this is the best solution to the situation."
I could feel Eric fidgeting behind me, and I knew if there weren't so many people around, he would have solved this problem in his own, very final, way. "You deserve to die."
"What have I done to you? What have I ever done to you?" I was so sick of this, all this crap. I knew I shouldn't antagonize him, but I just couldn't keep calm any longer. "I have done nothing to you, and you refuse to just leave me in peace!" Eric tried to move in front of me again, but I shook my head violently. There was no way I was letting him take this bullet for me.
The thoughts streaming out of Lattesta's head were a jumbled mess of hate and insanity, but one thing was coming through loud and clear. He was going to shoot me and the bullets in his gun were silver. The only hope I had was holding him off long enough for the cops to arrive.
Of course, it didn't go that way. Lattesta started raving about how I was an 'unnatural abomination' and needed to be 'cleansed' when I noticed the bouncer creeping up behind him. The world seemed to slow down for a few agonizing seconds before everything exploded in a blinding flash of pain.