Disclaimer: Characters and setting belong to Charlaine Harris. I just decided to play a game of 'What If?' with them.
Setting: 2000s, Louisiana
SVM Timeline: The glorious period during which Bill was seeking nirvana at Machu Picchu in Peru.
I heard the noise outside my window but ignored it at first as just the trees rustling in the mid-January winds. Snuggled under my yellow-cream bedspread, I was engrossed in my historical romance novel, due back at the Bon Temps library on Saturday. It wasn't until I heard the noise a second time that I put down my book and concentrated.
I sensed a void directly outside my bedroom wall.
A void could only mean one thing: there was a vampire outside.
I quickly dismissed a fleeting thought that it might be my ex-boyfriend, Bill.
Bill Compton, not only my ex-boyfriend, was also my only boyfriend. While I continued to feel a pang here and there over our breakup, I couldn't help but recognize that I was getting over him. He had cheated on me with his ex, Lorena. In addition to being his ex, she was also his vampire maker. Long story short, she'd found out about a vampire database he was working on that would make somebody very wealthy. Wanting that somebody to be her, she kidnapped and tortured Bill to get him to reveal the location of his database. Despite the fact that he left me for her, I went to Jackson, Mississippi to rescue him. While I was able to save Bill from where he was being held captive, I had to kill Lorena to do it. That, and some other stuff that happened when I rescued him, made for a pretty awkward situation between us. Not sure if there's a quick and easy way to bounce back from "I killed your ex who was also your mom who kidnapped and tortured you." That was just my side of the story. Bill's side was equally bad. Jerry Springer would've had a field day with us.
It was ironic, considering all the complications of our human-vamp relationship, that it was just run-of-the-mill cheating that did us in. I'd heard a lot of women—like my co-worker Arlene—go on and on about "once a cheater, always a cheater." And they were talking about human guys. If your boyfriend's a vamp and he's a cheater, and he's been around for a hundred years or more, I'd figure he'd be even more set in his ways than a human guy would be. The impulse to cheat ingrained over a hundred plus years has got to be a tough habit to break. I'm human. I just don't have that kind of time to devote to boyfriend make-overs.
It wouldn't be Bill anyway since he was off climbing Machu Picchu in Peru.
Whoever this vamp was, I knew I was safe as long as I stayed inside my house. Vampires can only enter a human's home if the human invites them inside. I had rescinded the invitation of all the vampires I had ever allowed inside my home—five, including the aforementioned ex—a month earlier.
Of course, for most humans, the power of withholding invitations was temporary at best. This was because vamps can glamour— or hypnotize—most folks into extending invitations. Not me, though.
My quirky brain came with one gift that seems to often put me in danger with vamps and another gift that can actually help keep me out of trouble with vamps.
The first gift is that I'm a telepath. I can read human minds. But not vampire minds. Well, not usually. Vamps like to use my quirk to test their human employees, to make sure they're trust-worthy. Since vampires are very vulnerable during the day, they need to take extra precautions with who they let into their world.
The second gift is the fact that I can't be glamoured.
I guess if my telepathy is the booby prize, the can't-be-glamoured thing is a consolation prize. While there are many days I wish I weren't a mind reader, I thank my lucky stars every day for the anti-glamour shield. Most vampires have been around a long time. They're not used to not getting their way. Their ability to glamour allows them to always get their way. Well, almost always.
As I sat in my warm bed, I was determined that whoever was outside was going to stay outside. Being involved with vamps just got me into Heaps of Trouble, time and time again. But that was last year. New Year's had just passed and I had vowed to turn over a new leaf. A new vampire-free, danger-free leaf. So far, so good.
I still, however, needed to know who was outside my bedroom window.
Tossing off my covers, I jumped out of bed and walked over to the window. Pulling open the curtain, I gasped when I saw who was out there. Given how many times this particular individual has peered at me through closed windows, you would think I wouldn't have been so surprised. I guess some things are just harder to get used to than others.
I quickly unlocked the latch and opened the window. I felt a rush of cold air hit my skin.
"Eric! What the heck are you doing here?"
Eric Northman was the vampire sheriff of Louisiana's Area Five. Technically he was Bill's boss as well as the head honcho of the Shreveport region vamps. He was also six foot four with a mane of thick blond hair, strong, chiseled features, and sapphire blue eyes. Gorgeous and muscular, I think Eric probably didn't need to resort to glamour as much as other vamps might.
Eric was also pretty lively for a dead guy and he—unlike other vampires I'd met, including Bill—had a healthy sense of humor. I was always impressed by that. You'd think being a 1,000 years old would have made him jaded, but Eric actually appreciated finding fun in the little, everyday moments. He and I certainly shared a few fun moments of our own. We'd also shared a kiss or two, a little blood on occasion, and a little ...ah...exploratory third base action. I was technically still with Bill at the time. Well, I did mention how awkward that breakup was.
Eric, meanwhile, was standing on my porch staring at me. Like really staring. Looking down, I noticed for the first time since his arrival what I was wearing.
Tight Bon Temps High t-shirt. Oops.
Snug boy shorts. Double oops.
No bra. Triple oops.
Just so it's clear, I should be wearing blinders and a chastity belt when Eric's around.
I frowned. I wasn't the only one who should've been wearing blinders.
"Eric, do you think you can pull your eyes off my chest long enough to tell me why you're here?"
Eric focused his gaze on my face and grinned.
"Sookie, of course I can do that. But why would you deny me such a simple pleasure? They are quite lovely. They certainly deserve attention and appreciation."
I noticed Eric's eyes shifting over my shoulder to the other side of my room, by the door to the hallway.
"There's no one else here, if that's why you're looking over that way."
"Yes, I smelled something around the other side of your house."
"What?" I asked.
Pausing briefly, he lowered his gaze when finally he replied. "It was likely nothing." He looked up at me again. Then down at my chest again.
"Eric! You didn't come out from Shreveport just to stare at my breasts!"
Eric smiled then, exposing near-perfect white teeth.
"I didn't? My Sookie, if ever I doubted you when you said you couldn't read vampire minds, you've quite disabused me of that notion now."
"Foof! Eric! I'm gonna go wrap myself like a burrito in a Snuggie if you don't cut it out! Tell me what you're doing at my house at 11:00 o'clock at night! Don't you have a bar that you need to be tending to?"
Eric just continued to stand outside my window. I took note of his attire for the first time. Underneath a black leather jacket, he wore a snug black t-shirt with his bar's logo in red and white. Fangtasia: the bar with a bite. The shirt's thin fabric was pulled taut on his chest like a professionally wrapped Christmas present. I realized I must've been staring for a while when Eric shrugged out of his jacket and started flexing and doing strong man poses.
I told him where to go with that.
"Stop that Eric! I don't need to see you flexing your arms like that!"
Eric stopped flexing and, smiling, he shook his head.
"Sookie, do you not see how similar we are?"
"Huh?" Male vampire. Human female. Hmm. Not really. "Well we're both blond and blue-eyed and living in northwestern Louisiana. Oh, even that's wrong. We're both existing in northwestern Louisiana. I don't see what else we might have in common," I shrugged. I really didn't see where he was going with all this talk and all his staring at my "girls." I could think of one surefire way to hose him down from whatever state of hot-and-bothered he'd managed to self-induce. "Oh, and of course, we both know Bill Compton!" I glanced over at my softball trophies as I rubbed my hands up and down my arms to warm them up and nodded. "Yeah," I turned back to Eric and gave him my breeziest of smiles. "Bill," I repeated for good measure. "I think that about sums up the extent of the stuff we have in common."
Eric, meantime, looked piqued now. Internally I patted myself on the back. Sookie-1, Eric-0. Staring at me, Eric shook his head and looked down. When he brought his face up again, a grin was playing at his lips and he was chuckling softly.
"Fine, Sookie. You win. Blond hair, blue eyes, northwestern Louisiana, and the ever-erstwhile Bill Compton. But for these, you and I should find no other common interests with which we could occupy ourselves."
Unfortunately mouth reacted a hair faster than my brain.
"Eric! Stop with all that nasty talk!"
Eric let out a snort of laughter. As I watched him laugh, I felt my cheeks burn. Embarrassed at first, I was quickly getting pissed off.
"Eric!" Okay, I may have been whining a teensy bit. "Stop laughing at me! I don't even know what you're laughing at! Nobody said anything funny!"
"No...Soo-kie..." Eric, still chortling, was sputtering out one syllable at a time. Finally he choked out a sentence. "The fact that I say 'common interests' and you hear 'nasty talk'...no…this ...this is not funny at all!"
Damn if he didn't launch into a new round of laughter. See what I mean about him having a healthy sense of humor? I could feel a blush travel down my neck.
"Well, Eric! I can't help it if you leer and make all these sexual innuendos when you talk!"
"But I was not doing anything like that," he replied, finally settling down. "I assure you." His eyes were dancing as he looked at me. "I know I am capable of such things but this time I did not."
"Oh." Yeah, I'm not always very quick around Eric.
"May I come in, Sookie?"
"I think I like you outside, thank you very much"
"Oh, I think you'd like me better inside."
I felt my cheeks flame up again at the all-too-clear innuendo in his words.
"Dammit, Eric! That! That's what I'm talking about! You did that on purpose! I know it!"
"Yes, I did. I wanted to show you the difference."
"What? You're trying to teach me how to tell when you're making nasty insinuations at me?"
Eric, staring at me, held his mouth in a tight line. He looked like he was about to burst. Suddenly he was laughing again.
"Yesss..." He actually doubled over he was laughing so hard. He continued for a bit, until finally his laughter petered out.
Shaking my head, I just stared at him. "I can't believe you find this so funny. I swear if you've got blood tears from laughing so hard, I'll —"
Eric was finally done laughing. Calm and collected, he brought his eyes to mine. No blood streaks.
"What, Sookie? What will you do?"
Suddenly he was serious. The way he was looking at me sent a shiver down my spine. In a good way. Dammit.
"I'd just be real surprised to see a vamp laugh so much that they waste blood."
"Yes, well I did not."
"No," I smiled, "you didn't."
"I think, Sookie Stackhouse," Eric's gaze held my own, "that it's only a matter of time."
I could tell from his tone, his words held multiple meanings. But he was being serious. He wasn't teasing me for once.
"It's a matter of time until what?"
"It's a matter of time until you will hear my words and not only your internal assumptions."
He did have a point. Being a telepath, I don't have to wonder what most people are thinking. I can easily enough dip into their brains and find out. With vampires it's different. I can't do that. I never know what they're thinking. I certainly never knew what Bill was thinking. So I'm left to make assumptions. Eric, I figured, thought about sex a lot. And maintaining order in his vampire area. Maybe he thought about Pam, his vampire child, once in a while. They seemed as close as siblings. (Since Eric and Pam each looked to be in their 20s, it was weird to think of them as parent and child, or maker and child.) Going back to the list of things I thought Eric had kicking around in his head, I'd have to say getting into my pants was definitely one of them.
Eric seemed pleased as he glanced around my bedroom.
"Well, if you are not going to invite me in, let me tell you what brings me here. The esteemed Mr. Compton is the investigator for my area. You remember this?"
Bill had lobbied the Vampire Queen of Louisiana to get himself appointed investigator. He claimed to have done it so that he would have more standing in the political hierarchy and 'we'—since there was a 'we' at the time—would have some standing in the vamp community and 'we' wouldn't be forced into stuff. Since Bill was thousands of miles away in Peru and I was standing in my bedroom with Eric Northman outside my window, whatever Bill had been trying to do seemed to have worked for one of us. And it wasn't me.
Thanks, Bill. I'll have to remember to send him a thank you note.
"Yeah, Eric. I recall something about Bill being the investigator."
"Well, Sookie, as Bill's human—"
"Whoa there, Eric! I'm not Bill's anything anymore!"
Eric smiled then, but it didn't quite make it to his eyes, which still seemed serious.
"Yes, thank goodness for small favors."
"Well, I guess we found something we can agree on, but I doubt you came all this way out from Shreveport to just go off on Bill." Eric looked ready to retort but I cut him off. "Not that I doubt you wouldn't want to—heck it would probably make your top ten list of favorite things to do! Following Bill out to Peru just to sit beside him each night to insult him might be your dream vacation itinerary. But I know better. I know you're busy. Busy being Area Five Vampire Sheriff. So, out with it, please. Why are you here?"
"I find that there are situations in the area that require investigating…"
Eric paused. Gorgeous though he may be to look at –and certainly not the worst thing to be looking at before bed—I was tired and had had a long day.
"Come on, Eric! Out with it! Enough with this do-si-doing. It's late! It's cold. I should be in bed!"
Eric raised an eyebrow at that. I cringed when I replayed the words in my head. I knew which ones he would pick up on.
"Sookie, we can easily relocate our conversation to your bed so that you're warm and comfortable." His eyes dropped back to my chest briefly. "You have only to ask me in and we may both lie in comfort. We've had such discussions before."
Yawning, I turned to glance at my bed. It looked so inviting. I work as a waitress at a bar/restaurant, so I'm on my feet all day. I'd worked the day shift but stayed on a few extra hours to cover for one of my coworkers, Charlsie, who went with her pregnant daughter to a doctor appointment.
I focused my attention back on Eric and caught him in an uncharacteristically unguarded moment. He was staring thoughtfully, pondering something.
Heck, did I think Eric Northman was going to try to kill me or harm me? Well, he certainly looked hungry enough when he was around me, but I knew he wasn't hungry for my blood as much as he was hoping to relive our past physical interludes. I wasn't going to have any of that and I knew he would never force me. Don't ask me how I knew this, I just did. I couldn't be glamoured. I didn't have anything to fear on that end. He'd been really considerate paying to have my driveway graveled just before the holidays. I'd sent him a thank you note, but maybe an in person thanks was in order? Decision made.
"Eric, won't you please come inside?"
Eric stared at me and groaned.
"I swear you do that on purpose to tease me," he grimaced.
Confused, I thought back to what I just said and would've been absolutely mortified had I not looked at him right then. Eric had such a pained expression on his face—like he was a three year old I'd just asked to hold a bag of lollipops but instructed not to eat any—I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. I pushed the screen up and moved away from the wall so that he had ample room to fold his large body in through the window.
That is how I came to work on solving Southern Vampire Mysteries with Eric Northman, former Viking, Vampire Sheriff, and model gorgeous heartthrob.
A/N: So, this is an idea I had. I always thought, in retrospect, that CH was going for something different in the early days of the SVM series before her muse shanghaied the story. Even the series' official name, the Southern Vampire Mysteries, belies this. Aside from the Dallas investigation and looking for you-know-who in Mississippi, there never were any official mysteries. What if there were? What if Eric and Sookie found themselves partnered up to solve real supe mysteries? Where am I going with this? Does anyone remember the classic film series, "The Thin Man"? How about "Remington Steele"? Maybe "Moonlighting"? Yeah, it's like that.
Thanks, as always, for reading.