The work day at Merlottes was like usual. Attempting to keep up a mental barrier as the assault of deviant intoxicated thoughts or mindless banter pounded against it. She was too emotionally exhausted to keep most of it out, but nothing any town drunk could say would top her current problems. Tips were feeble at best, she collected the crumpled bills and change as the last of the days customers shuffled out the door. Her mind wandered as the silence of bar now gave her own thoughts clearance.

I wonder if Bill is alive or dead...not that it matters...but I would like to know...

She sighed, letting her body go through the motions of closing time, wiping down tables with a ragged and stained cloth. Her ponytail flipped as she looked out the window to take in the beautiful blend of purple and pink that was the impending dusk. Since it was Sunday night Merlottes closed early, and she would be able to enjoy a bit of light before the full moon came out. Sam gave her a look of concern from behind the bar, his hands making themselves busy by cleaning out beer mugs. He had obviously heard about the fire since word spreads around a small town very quickly. He had tried to corner her all day to talk about it, but she had purposely avoided his advances. Sam meant well...more then well actually, but she wasn't quite ready to fill him in on the details of last nights events, she hardly remembered much of them herself. With a the final salt and pepper shakers refilled Sookie removed her work apron and headed for the front door, giving Sam a reluctant wave as she turned to walk to her car.

The ride home was short, and hardly anyone was on the backwoods country roads. To look at her on the outside, she would look as calm as anyone on auto-pilot driving home, but her inner thoughts were frantic. Each worry would barely exclaim itself before being pushed aside by a new one.

Where is Bill now? If he's alive, what if he comes after me again? ...Or after Jason or someone else I love?...

A slightly less worrisome thought passed through...

When is Eric coming?

Pulling up into the driveway, she sat quietly in her car for a few moments and let the rumbling of the old engine vibrate her body. Eyes closed, she held back sudden tears that threatened to explode from her.

It was all a lie...I was too blind to see it...he never loved me...

She sniffled and was determined not to cry about him. Woefully plodding up the front steps, she took a glance behind her before going inside, the sky was now an ocean of soft grey and blue and it would surely be dark within a the next half hour. Though her entryway was free of evidence of her pain, it still shook her with fear and rage to be standing in it. Once more she could feel the memory of the cold wood against her back as her blood flowed around her in one thick sickening puddle. She had been moments from death, if a certain hand hadn't pulled her back to Earth. The thought stuck with her for a moment...that amidst the terror and agony of that night she had also felt hope... Erics uncharacteristically concerned faced flashed by her in a mental image, he was that hope...and her strength to come back to life. she remembered being cradled in his arms, where it was safe and warm, new but somehow familiar and comfortable.

It's all so sudden...I know Eric has lust for me...but is he capable of caring? What if he knew what Bill was doing behind my back all along...

The questions flowed through her brain for a few moments before she let them free, and her gaze drifted to the shimmering red box from this morning. The bow had been placed aside. and the package now sat atop a small iron table near the door. Picking it up with both hands she climbed the stairs towards her room and set the box back on her dresser. She gingerly opened it back up and after putting the pink note aside, unfolded the soft undergarments. There was no denying the set was beautiful and surely had been attached to a hefty price tag. She pictured Eric rifling through racks of lingerie in a pink-walled store and it made her want to giggle for a moment, the humor was a nice break from her post-traumatic stress.

What should I wear over this?...Little black dress?...Jeans and a T-shirt?..

She had never really worn anything but standard cotton panties and bras, and wasn't quite sure what wearing something as fancy as this meant. Did he expect her to greet him at the door in nothing but underwear? She blushed...

I don't think so buddy!...He's lucky I'm even putting this on at all...I'm not exactly feeling frisky...

She removed her work uniform with a sigh of relief and let the night air dance across her naked body for a moment. She undid her ponytail and shook out her hair, she felt a slight tickle as pieces brushed against her collarbone. She clasped the black velvet bra around her chest, it snapped together in the front, and cupped her breasts perfectly. The thin lace on the straps made her feel dainty and feminine despite the solid black color, she couldnt help but feel seductive as she admired how well it fit her...

Gotta admit...he knows how to dress a he's measured me precisely, like it was made just for me...

As she slid the panties up her bare legs, the coolness of the inner lining reminded her senses of the tips of Erics skilled fingers. A shiver rushed its way up through her core, and she shook it off with a pant. They fit snugly, and exposed most of her bottom, the sides were barely more then soft strings.

Only one thing missing from this outfit...

She gave the collar a skeptical stare, it sat at the bottom of the box, the metal D-ring polished and pristine. Picking it up, she wrapped it around her neck and struggled for a good while with the buckle. The collar was thick, and covered a good portion of her neck, but it was soft and pliable due to it being made of the same velvet. Once she felt it was secure enough, she gazed at herself in the full length mirror on her closed bathroom door-face. The intense ebony of the velvet made someone even as tan as herself look pale, but her strong legs and ample bust proved she was no waif. The collar was different...but oddly erotic, she ran her fingers across its soft plush and pulled slightly at the D-ring, it had no give whatsoever.

Sookie posed a few ways in the mirror, attempting to see herself in various angles, the bed behind her was perfectly made, and had a new red satin comforter she had purchased a few weeks back. She had thrown the ivory set Bill had nearly devoured her on straight into the trash before she left for work. She peered down at her feet, bare with pink-painted toenails and wondered what kind of shoes would "go" with her current ensemble. Slowly her head drifted back up to the mirror, and there he was...

He was perched at the end of her bed like a stalking predator and staring at her body with no regard to decency or false pretenses. His hair was tussled and lacking its usual product, the soft blond strands fell carelessly over the tops of his brows. He was clean shaven and the blues of his eyes were somehow even more striking then usual in mirrors reflection, they stood out above all else. She stared at him for what seemed like hours, their gazes locked as tightly in the mirror as if they were only inches away from one another. His posture and intense expression amazed her ... even though by every standard he looked exactly like a normal man, at the very same time any eyes could tell he also held within himself a dark and primal animal.

His low voice broke the silence, his stare unfaltering.

"Looks gorgeous..."

"Yes...thank you, it's very pretty..." she looked down at the bra, and though she knew full well he could see everything, but she couldn't help but cross her legs slightly and fold an arm over her chest.

"I wasn't talking about the clothes."

She felt her cheeks flush up again as she shifted her weight.

"Listen...Eric...I don't remember much of last night, but I want you to know that I'm thankful you saved me...more then you'll ever know."

"How thankful are you?" he arched a brow, his upper body leaning in just ever so slightly. Though he was still only a reflection, she could feel his presence behind her drawing closer.

"Comon, I'm serious...I've never been so scared in all my life...he was going to take everything from I want you to know I'm grateful."

Eric gave a solemn nod at the seriousness of her statement, his eyes intently scanned her room before returning to meet hers again in the mirror, still facing her back. "I have a question to ask of you...when Bill drank from you, did he tell you of any ...complications?" his hand made a waving gesture with the last word before he became dead silent in anticipation of her answer.

"No, why? Complications?", her puzzled look confirmed to him that she had no idea.

"I find that I am...hearing things...specifically your voice...which allowed me passage into your home last night. Its quite puzzling...though I suspect whatever bloodline you carry when mixed with mine has formed some sort of internal connection... I don't know if the effects are permanent or not as of yet."

Sookies eyes widened and she turned around to face him in one quick spin, freezing afterwards to let the information sink in.

He can hear me?

Eric smirked with the tiniest glint of a sharp canine, fangs sheathed but his mere expression still giving off the distinct air of danger.

"Loud and clear min älskling."

Sookie was used to putting up a mental boundaries, this was true...but to wipe her mental palate clean? This was uncomfortable and foreign...

Don't think about anything, he cant hear you if you just don't think about anything!...

"On the contrary I can hear your aimless babble...and I must admit I suspect this new ability is going to be entertaining for other uses..."

"Bill couldn't hear me...or at least he never told me..why you?"

"I can't tell you for certain...but I do know we have a deeper connection than whatever you had with him, my lover...Compton was never fit to look at you, let alone touch you...taste you...", his eyes roamed her body, suddenly looking hungry and wanton ,"you and I...our paths were drawn together with purpose...not by chance."

"...You mean like soulmates?"

She gave off a sheepish smile, and let her hands fall down to her hips, holding herself as she watched him, "Mr. Northman your going soft..."

His eyes and tone now shot off annoyance...

"Firstly I don't have a 'soul'...ridiculous religious bullshit...secondly, I meant that ...that together we are a were made for me...and I for you"

He was obviously searching for the right words, English was nowhere near his first language, and to explain sentimental or deep concepts was especially hard. The angry look on his pale face dissipated and his voice tapered into a purr...

"..and third of all I am anything but soft..."

She stood with an unconvinced expression and repeated herself.


"...Fine, if you insist." Eric rolled his eyes while rifling through his pocket, still perched on the bed with unearthly balance.

"Enough chat min älskare...I ask you again, how thankful are you?"

Her confidence faded, he was coming on even faster then she expected, "...Very I suppose...what do you want?"

A grin grew across his lips and he commenced a painfully slow descent of his gaze down to her most private of areas, his eyes rested there. She twitched and her legs stirred, his stare wasn't breaking and she was starting to feel uneasy.

"I want you to touch yourself."


He was silent, he looked back up at her face which was aghast with embarrassment.

She stammered and looked away from him,"...I don't do that!...I don't even really know how..."

"You simply do whatever comes natural to you...but there's no rush... first, come here my pet."

He patted his knee, beckoning her to come forward to him. Though he was intimidating in both size and in reputation he now looked playful and mischievous. His dark jeans were doing a poor job of concealing the fact that he was already excited by viewing her in the outfit of his choosing.

She snapped at him with abrupt insult... "Pet? Oh no...the collar is bad enough, but I'm no ones slave..."

"Insolence already? Correcting you will be most enjoyable...though your right, you're not a slave..."

In a blur she could still never quite get used to he was on her, his shoulders tilted so that he stared straight down upon her face. The soft cotton of his tank top pressed against her naked skin, his hard muscles beneath it tense and rigid.

"...You want it."

She was so used to pushing off his incredibly direct approaches that playing hard to get with him was second nature. However, with his body looming above her... and with the knowledge of his intimate prowess...she knew he was right. The collar suddenly began to make her neck feel warm and constricted, she longed to tug at it and loosen it, but it would surely give away the fact that she was getting hot and sweaty from his advances.

"Can't we take things a little bit slower this time Eric, maybe go out somewhere?"

"We have an eternity to do the mundane things you humans find so enjoyable...right now I am still interested in what I find enjoyable..."

She felt one of his hands begin to trace a line up her stomach, the other crept its way around her back and pulled her further into him. She gasped as his trailing hand slid between her breasts, skimming over them and eventually resting at the D-ring of her collar. He rubbed the cold metal between his fingertips, while the other hand dug into the small of her back. Leaning in, his hot breath smothered her neck and earlobe as he spoke.

"I can hear your thoughts, I can feel your desires...I know you wont refuse me...but I love that you pretend to lover."

Her eyes shut, and suddenly her neck felt heavier, her eyelids reopened.

"Hey, what the...?" She looked into his face, now with a sadistic smile plastered across it and gave him questioning eyes.

Fingertips still in the flesh of her back and her waist still pressing to his, his right hand now gripped the end of a glimmering chain firmly attached to her collar. He rolled the length of it up into his palm, leaving her barely any room to squirm as he pulled her face up to his.

"You will do as I say, and I want you to touch yourself"

His words were stern and direct, sending warmth and tingling through her lower body, her legs suddenly felt weak. She had become a cat in heat, her body already begging her to comply, to begin towards the release she knew he would give her again...and again.

"Your filthy..." she breathed out heavily, her lips inches from his as his fingers continued to coil the chain tighter.

His tongue darted out, licking softly at her cheek, she could see his fangs beginning to descend.

"...And you love that."