Hello!

I'm back from my holiday at last and you'll be pleased to know I did quite a bit of writing during my peace time. I had a blast, lot of writing, got a tan somehow and went horse riding nearly every day on a massive Clydesdale which was painful in the beginning lol. I managed to cross something off of my 'to do before I die' – go galloping across a beach. So, here's my entirely new story, I hope you like and I'll let you read on.

Charlaine Harris owns the wonderful Southern Vampire Mysteries


"Is Jason there?" I asked for at least the tenth time that evening. The dread that had been a constant factor in my life for the past week was springing to life again and the bats were once again taking flight in my stomach.

"No Sookie, I'm sorry chere. I'll call you if he comes in." Sam replied with honest sympathy down the other end of the phone. I was actually a little amazed that he didn't sound exasperated; I'd been calling a least twice a night, even when I'd been working, to see if my brother was in the bar since he'd disappeared off of the face of the earth a week ago. Now, my brother had gone missing for a few days before, usually when he was holed up somewhere with a new woman. The difference this time was that he hadn't called anyone. Never before had he just gone; he'd always called me and his boss before. The scariest problem for me was that I wasn't entirely sure how long my brother had been missing; I'd noticed a week ago but I hadn't actually spoken to him for ten days. No one else could be entirely sure the last time they'd seen him either.

"Alright, thanks Sam, I'm sorry." I truthfully was sorry for bugging him so much, I just wasn't sorry enough to stop calling, my brother meant too much to me. My grandmother had died just over a year ago which left me with Jason as my only family as I didn't count my Uncle Bartlett, the only other living blood relative.

"Don't worry about it Sook, I know you're worried. I gotta get back to work, but take care of you."

"Thanks again, you're a good friend. I'll see you in a couple of days. Goodbye," I called as cheerfully as I could so that he wouldn't worry as much. Even though I was alone I couldn't stop my bright and tense smile from stretching across my lips, it was the one I usually wore whilst I was working at the bar.

I sighed heavily as I put the phone back on its holster and settled back into the sofa so that I could pull my grandmother's knit blanket closer around my slim shoulders. Night had fallen a couple of hours ago and my house was completely shrouded in darkness now as I hadn't bothered to switch any of the lights on in my home. There was only one more person to call on my list and I really wasn't looking forward to calling them even though I knew they were the most likely source of help. With another sigh I picked up the phone once more.

"Hello, Sherriff's office, Kenya speaking." She sounded bored and I couldn't really blame her; in our little town nothing of note happened on a regular basis, at least not until the drunks started appearing which wouldn't be for another few hours.

"Hi Kenya, any news on Jason?" I asked with a little apprehension, just knowing that I was going to get shouted at. I didn't have to be in the same room as her to simply know.

"No, now Sookie you've got to stop calling us. We'll call you if we have any news. You're wasting police time, especially since Jason's disappearance isn't high importance. Now stop calling!" The phone was rudely put down, rather harshly, on me and I had to fight back the tears that had sprung forward in my eyes.

It was what I'd been hearing for days and I was fed up to the back teeth with it. No one wanted to help because of the person Jason acted like; a complete scoundrel who liked to play the field was merely putting it mildly. No one was willing to help me, of course my friends were supportive but there wasn't anything they could do. Jason's boss wouldn't do anything but call me every day when Jason didn't turn up for work and the police were refusing to do anything. As far as I could tell all they'd done was call up a few places to see if anyone had seen him. They said until he'd been gone a substantial amount of time they were limited because he'd gone off without warning several times before. But by golly, a week was definitely a substantial amount of time, at least in my book.

I resigned myself surprisingly quickly to what I had to do. I didn't have enough money for a private investigator and I'd exhausted everything that I could do on my own. I needed back up and the solution I came up with was one Bill Compton who happened to reside just over the cemetery from me.

Normally, going to a neighbour for help wouldn't have been a strange thing, but you see, my neighbour is a member of the undead. The vampire population had come out of the coffin about two years ago, six months after the big revelation Bon Temps had gotten its first and only resident vampire. It turned out he'd been a citizen here during the war era, the civil war era that is. Vampire Bill as he was affectionately called by the locals was now a regular at Merlotte's so I knew him quite well. I couldn't deny the draw I had to him because I'd discovered that I couldn't read his mind. He'd even asked me on a date a few times, unfortunately my grandmother had died in the time between asking and going, which caused me to of course cancel. After that I hadn't felt like dating, when I did he'd stopped asking. So going to him could prove to be awkward, however, I had no one else left to turn to.

I grabbed my flashlight from the under stairs cupboard, slipped my Wellie's on as well as pulling my old, thick coat around my shoulders before stepping out of the door. The cold air nipped at all of my exposed flesh as I began the trudge across my yard towards the woods. My face was buried as far down as I could manage into the soft collar but my nose still felt like an icicle by the time I reached the cemetery, I didn't even want to know what colour the hand holding my torch had turned. What felt like an hour later due to the sheer lack of heat, even though I knew the walk only took about five minutes, I reached the old Compton house.

My heavy knock seemed to echo around the clearing in which the decayed house stood, all living creatures seemed to avoid vampires on instinct; one of the tell tale signs of a vampire to standard humans was that wild creatures grew silent in their presence. This however, did not give me reason to believe that Bill wasn't inside his home. I barely got a split second's warning by his brain signal before his deep yet rough voice was whispering in my ear.

"Hello Sookie." I still jumped, my conscious mind not having had enough time to process all the information.

"Bill! Don't do that!" I snapped as I whirled around to face him. As per usual he was dressed in khaki trousers with a long sleeved dark blue shirt on top, in recognition that it was winter he'd pulled a leather jacket on top. Having it unzipped did ruin the affect though. It wasn't like he needed it though, only truly extreme temperatures affected vampires, they tended to wear coats and things to help blend in with humans.

"Sorry, I'm not used to having visitors with good intentions this late at night." He replied smoothly. He smiled at me which made his handsome face light up; his dark hair was flopping into his eyes which were a rich blue, the stubble on his chin made him look rugged, yet in a good way. None of it distracted from the calm that I felt wash over me simply by being in his presence.

You see, I'm a telepath and I can pretty much read anyone's mind, although shape-shifters and Weres give me a bit of trouble, vampires are the only one that remain completely blank. So, after twenty six years of hearing everyone's unwanted thoughts and having to try every waking minute to keep up mental shields so I can keep them out, being able to completely relax is a real luxury.

He leaned past me to unlock the door then gestured for me to precede him inside. I'd only ever been in his house once before and that was before the start of the restoration work. Everything inside was now finished, it was just the outside that was still in need of repair. Every surface gleamed with newness and paintings decorated the walls although there seemed to be no correlation between them. He'd probably picked them up over the years as many different styles were represented, I noted as I walked down the hallway to the small kitchen.

Once in the kitchen I saw that although it was stalked, rather simply, for human use none of it except for the microwave looked like it had ever been used and there was no table, just the breakfast bar that held two bar stools. So, with nowhere else to sit, I perched on one of them, facing into the room so that I could track Bill with my eyes.

"Can I offer you a drink? I'm afraid I don't have much." He gave me a bit of a lopsided grin before heading to the fridge where he pulled himself a bottle of True Blood out.

"Do you have any hot tea?" I asked politely, I could never forget my manners. It also wasn't that much warmer inside that out, it was obvious that Bill didn't bother with the heating, although he probably did when he expected company.

"Yes, I'll make a pot." I sat in silence as he quickly made me a cup of tea which was placed in front of me within two minutes along with milk and sugar. I didn't use the sugar though; it only ruined the taste in my opinion.

"So what do I owe the pleasure of your company?" He asked, taking his bottle out of the microwave and leaning against the counter top opposite me.

"I've actually come to ask you a favour, I know I shouldn't, we don't really know each other well enough but it's about Jason." I was suddenly quite nervous, not knowing the etiquette for asking vampires favours and what I might have to do in return. If this had been Arlene I would have offered to watch the kids and clean the trailer, now, well I just didn't know.

"Jason your brother."

"Yes."

"What's the problem?"

"Well he's gone missing. He's been gone at least a week but more likely ten days and he's never quite done this before. I'm really worried about him." I finished and I realised that tears were beginning to prick the corners of my eyes. A box of tissues was placed in front of me, with Bill not saying a word. That was a good thing, if he'd tried consoling me or registering my tears more, I'd have probably cried much harder.

"Why are you so worried? He's a grown man, he can look after himself." It wasn't a question and it made me question, for the first time too, how well my brother and Bill knew each other, because Bill sounded oddly confident about my brother's capabilities.

"Well he's gone missing before but never for longer than a few days and he always calls me. We're the only two left out of our family now, so we look out for each other as much as possible. He may be a bit of a flake at times but he wouldn't make me worry unnecessarily. But, it's his lifestyle recently that's really making me worry. I haven't been able to tell the police because it wouldn't exactly spur them into gear."

"You mean his recent fascination with vampires?" Well that shocked me, I hadn't been aware that anyone other than me really knew the extent of his recent curiosity.

"Erm, yes."

"So you think you're brother has got mixed in with the wrong crowd and you're coming to a vampire for help?" He didn't sound angry though, slightly amused would have been much closer.

"Oh Bill, it's not really how it sounds!" I gasped, trying to cover my tracks as it honestly wasn't as bad as it sounded. "You know how I feel about vampires," I continued. Bill was one of the few people outside of my family that knew of my telepathy of fact; he also knew I couldn't hear a single thought in his head. "I think something bad has happened to Jason, I'm not entirely sure what, but it may have something to do with vampires and the humans around here are doing nothing to help!"

"Okay then, there's no need to look so worried Sookie, I know what you mean. When was the last time you heard and saw Jason?" He proceeded very politely and concisely, automatically giving me more confidence in him than the police who had all but laughed me away.

"I saw him two weeks ago when we had lunch together and I spoke to him last Thursday evening on the phone, he mentioned a girl he was taking out on a date the next day, they were going to a vampire bar in Shreveport." I couldn't think of anything else of importance that he'd said.

"Fangtasia?" Bill asked and when I looked up to his face it was a stone mask, he wasn't moving at all and his eyes had iced over. I couldn't stop myself from swallowing uneasily as a little shiver ran down my spine.

"Yes, is something wrong?"

"I don't know yet." He suddenly moved and his face became more animated; he blinked, licked his lips and the cold sheen across his eyes melted until they were once again soft. "Who was his date with?" He asked changing the topic slightly.

"He didn't actually say and I didn't ask because he goes on so many dates I don't keep track anymore. He did say she was from the west of Bon Temps, which could mean Hot Shot." Hot Shot was a small community built on a little used crossroads about four miles to the west of Bon Temps. Strange things seemed to happen there, disturbances that the police would respond to only to be told it was a false alarm. We hardly ever saw any of the folk from that neck of the woods even though they lived so close. As far as I could tell they never left their little village. The whole place and its inhabitants was just a little unsettling.

"And he was taking this girl to Fangtasia last Friday," Bill summarised adeptly.

"Yes."

"Then we might have some trouble. What do you want me to do Sookie?" He placed the now empty bottle in the sink, letting the water from the tap fill it up and getting all the dregs out of the bottom so he could pop it in the recycling tub.

"I was hoping that you could take me to Fangtasia, I could show people a picture of my brother and see if he made it to his date. If he did, it cuts down how long he's been missing and someone might have heard him say something." I couldn't have kept the hope out of my voice if I'd tried.

"Okay, but on one condition," he replied and my stomach dropped straight through the floor. When I didn't make any form of reply he continued with his request. "Go on a date with me." My stomach rose so far that I could feel it in my chest and my heart picked up its pace so I could feel it thumping against my ribs. I couldn't help but wonder if Bill could hear it beating, if what I read about vampires in the media was anywhere near correct he most definitely could.

"Okay." It was actually one of the best outcomes I could have possibly hoped for and I'd get an honest to God date out of it where I wouldn't have to constantly worry about hearing something I didn't want to. Of course, I would only go on the date if Jason was found and he was healthy, I just hoped Bill understood that point because I didn't want to spell it out for him.

"Good, I've been wanting to go out on a date with your for months. Can I get you another tea?"

"No thanks. Can we go to Fangtasia tonight or do we have to wait?" I glanced nervously at the clock as more time had passed than I'd realised.

"We'll have to wait until tomorrow evening now, the bar will be closing in just over an hour and we will need a full bar to get the best answers. I will pick you up at seven. Now, would you like walking back to your house?" He asked with all of his Southern charm.

"Oh, no thank-you. I like the walk actually, even in the cold. I need the time alone to think." I stood after placing all of the things in front of me neatly together so it would be easier for him to tidy them up, then I padded towards the front door. "Thank-you for everything Bill," I whispered once I reached the door. Silent tears were once again threatening to brim over my eyes. Without caution I threw my arms around his neck and gave him a hug.

His hard body was like stone at first, immovable beneath me, but then he yielded to the contact, letting his arms snake around my waist and pull me in tightly to him. Then he did something I really didn't expect; he placed a tender kiss on the top of my head before pulling away. I smiled my thanks at him again and then I turned on my heels and left the house, heading into the darkness across the cemetery to my own home.


So what did you think? You know I love reviews and I promise that Mr Northman features in the next chapter.