Note: due to this website being a pain in the ass, I'm posting this as True Blood for now as we can't seem to post for SVM.
I have posted this once, but tried to change it to SVM and it crashed on me, so sorry if there are two versions! This is the correct one.
Yeah, me again. I wasn't planning on writing anything so soon, but this idea hit me for the IndieFic competition, but I decided I wanted to expand further on the idea, so hence the new story.
The building I'm describing a bit lower down is actually the Lloyd's Building in London.
I give you … Into The Unknown…
I could have done without this.
I jumped into the shower and washed my hair for the second time in one day. I didn't see why he had to insist on meeting me at seven in the evening for a business meeting. It wasn't even as if he would accept meeting in a restaurant, which was the usual acceptable thing to do when having an evening meeting.
But no, Mr Northman, it seemed, was nocturnal and only held meetings in the evenings. For the most part, I'd conducted the business through his associate Mr Burnham and lawyer Mr Cataliades, but this was the first time I had been invited to meet him.
In the few years that Mr Northman had been buying up property and businesses around the Shreveport and Bossier City area, he'd hardly been seen. He didn't attend the charity functions and galas like most other business leaders did, and more often than not, he didn't even send a representative. It seemed that Mr Northman was quite elusive.
And it certainly wasn't the case that I hadn't tried to do any research. I had tried to find those that had met him, but it seemed that no one could quite remember him in detail. I understood that he owned a 'goth bar' in an industrial area of Shreveport, which seemed completely bizarre to me, and his acquisitions appeared to be random, not focussing on any one line of business. And as for his life before Shreveport, even less was known of that. It seemed like this man had just come out of nowhere
Once I was out of the shower, I dried my hair roughly and pinned it up into a sophisticated up-do that elongated my neck, and pulled on my trusted grey Marc Jacobs skirt suit with a red blouse on underneath. It was one of my favourite outfits, and it managed to say both sexy and powerful – something I really planned on being in this meeting.
It was a little before six in the evening by the time I left my old family home in Bon Temps to make the drive to Shreveport. I knew that really, it would have made sense for me to live in the city, but the farmhouse had always been my home, and after my Gran had died from a stroke a few years earlier, I couldn't face leaving it. And anyway, I'd spent a fortune on getting a high-speed internet line installed, so it seemed only right to make sure I used it.
As I walked across the newly laid gravel to my Mercedes, I was startled to see a man stood in the shadows. He was completely still and his eyes were on me. I almost wondered if I was seeing things.
"Who are you?" I asked, wishing I had some kind of weapon on me.
"My name is Bill Compton, ma'am," he took a step forward and into the light that my security lighting was spilling across the driveway. I made a mental note to speak to Jason about fixing it so that there were no shadows.
"Nice to meet you Mr Compton, would you mind telling me what you're doing on my property?"
"I apologise, and please call me Bill."
"Certainly, Bill." He didn't look old enough to have such a name, but had a very strong Louisiana accent that seemed not from this time.
"I wanted to introduce myself, I have recently moved into the house across the cemetery from you."
"Oh, you're a relative of Old Mr Compton? I didn't realise he had any surviving family." The old man who had lived there before had died around six months earlier, and the house had been empty ever since.
"I am quite a distant relative, but the only one." He smiled and stepped forward. "I'm sorry; I didn't get your name."
"Sorry, my apologies," I faked my crazy Sookie smile at him. "My name is Sookie Stackhouse."
"Nice to meet you, Sookie. Such an unusual and beautiful name."
"Um, thank you. Look, I hate to be rude, but I have to get going as I have a meeting."
He looked at me directly in the eyes. "Why don't you invite me in, Sookie?"
I could feel a headache coming on, and I really wasn't in the mood for games by creepy neighbours. "Look, I just said I have to go to a meeting. I'm sorry to be discourteous, but I really have to run. Why don't you pop over tomorrow morning; I should be here until midday. I'm sure I could make you a cup of coffee."
Mr Compton looked confused, briefly, before he schooled his features.
"I am sorry, I'm busy tomorrow, but I do hope to see you again soon."
"Likewise," I lied. The man was truly very creepy, and I watched him skulk off into the darkness of the trees between our properties. Maybe I should also ask Jason about erecting a fence around the property as well as fixing the lights. It had never been needed before, but I didn't like the idea of random men walking onto my land.
I climbed into my silver Mercedes SLK and drove off towards Shreveport, my iPod tuned to a mix of Biffy Clyro and Kings of Leon. I arrived in Shreveport with quarter of an hour to spare, and I took the chance to update my nude lipstick before heading to the Area Five building. No one really knew why his businesses were under the name of Area Five, but it seemed like a good enough name, and it was memorable.
The building itself was large and imposing, and faced with dark steel that made it look even more daunting. It seemed to have the elevator shafts, conduits and water pipes on the outside and it reminded me of something out of the film Brazil, with no lights on in any of the windows other than the reception hall of the main building. I could only assume that they had used reflective glass, but I didn't see why someone would want to make a building look so unwelcoming.
I got out of my car and walked up to the entrance, showing my ID to the guard who told me to go on up to the eighteenth floor. The elevator was equally as cold and clinical, and it turned out the eighteenth floor was the top floor. I checked my make-up one last time in the mirror before the elevator dinged to announce my arrival on the top floor.
I stepped out of the elevator to be met by a blonde girl who didn't look any more than in her late teens or early twenties, but she had a confidence and an air about her that seemed to be much older, and not to mention the fact that she dressed like a soccer-mom.
"You must be Miss Stackhouse," she said drolly.
"Yes, are you Mr Northman's assistant?" she looked more like she could be the work experience girl, but I didn't want to be rude.
She looked offended nonetheless. "I suppose you could call me his protégé," she said with a smirk. I really had no idea even how old Mr Northman was, but I had assumed he was in his forties or fifties. Maybe this girl was his daughter.
She was staring quite intensely at me, like she was really studying me, and I again felt a headache come on. I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples, before looking back at her.
She gave me a quizzical look then turned and indicated for me to follow her down one of the poorly lit corridors. I was beginning to think that Mr Northman was trying to scrimp on his electricity bill.
"I'm sorry; I didn't catch your name."
"That's because I didn't give it to you," she said over her shoulder. I should have used that line when my neighbour asked me.
She suddenly stopped in front of a pair of dark wooden doors that went right to ceiling height. "Mr Northman will see you now."
She gave me a small smirk and opened the door for me, indicating for me to go in. I swallowed audibly, my ears clicking at the pressure change and my mouth feeling bone dry. The room was as large and imposing as everything else about the building, but it had minimal furniture. There were two large leather sofas down one end of the room sat a right angles of each other with a dark glass coffee table, and then a huge dark wood desk dominating the other end.
And behind it sat a blond man smirking at me.
As soon as I had seen him, he stood up to greet me. "Welcome, Miss Stackhouse, to Area Five. My name is Eric Northman." He had slight accent that sounded northern or eastern European, but I wouldn't have been able to locate it closer than that.
"Nice to meet you, Mr Northman," I held out my hand for him to shake, but when he didn't respond I put my hand back down by my side, feeling a little embarrassed and surprised by his attitude.
The man was really not what I had expected. He was tall, very tall, and was probably in his late twenties or early thirties. He was wearing an impeccably cut dark blue suit with a crisp white shirt on underneath and no tie. The man looked like he could be an Olympic swimmer with the broadness of his shoulders, but the fact was that he was without doubt the most gorgeous man I had ever seen. He had striking pale blue eyes, a strong nose and jaw, perfect lips, alabaster skin and long blond hair that was tied at the back of his neck, with a few strands loose to frame his face.
When I finally met his eyes again, it was obvious that he had noticed me eye-fucking him, and I felt my face flush.
"Can I get you a drink, Miss Stackhouse?"
"Sure," I said, still feeling a little flustered. "Um … what do you have?"
"I believe we have tea, coffee, wine, or maybe something stronger…?"
"Coffee would be great. I'm not used to having business meetings this late, I could do with the caffeine."
"Certainly." He pressed a button on his desk that was no doubt an intercom and asked for his assistant, or protégé as she had called herself, to bring me a coffee. Only moments later, she entered the room carrying a cafetiere filled with steaming coffee, a small jug of cream, sugar and one mug. Mr Northman showed me to the sofas at the far end of the room, and we both sat on different ones so we could have our conversation.
"Are you not having any?" I asked him before I went about serving myself.
"No, I never drink … coffee." He had a slight smirk on his face.
"Sure." I used the time focusing on the drink to try and take control of myself. The man was seriously making me flustered.
I took the time to lower my shields and see if I could gain some knowledge on the man from his mind. It wasn't my usual style. I tried to be as ethical as possible when it came to my telepathy, and I had worked hard on increasing my shields over the years to the point where for the most part, I didn't hear people's thoughts unless I concentrated on them, touched them, or were a particularly loud broadcaster, which some people.
But with Mr Northman there was nothing. I could tell he was there, so it wasn't as if he was invisible, but there was a void or hole where his thoughts should be. I had met those who were harder to read than others, my ex-boyfriend Alcide Herveaux being one of them, and my friend and restaurant owner Sam Merlotte being another, but I had never met anyone where they had no thoughts at all. Even embryos had thoughts to some extent; this was nothing.
After adding sugar and cream to my coffee I turned back to him to see that he had been watching me.
"I'd like to thank you for agreeing to meet me, Miss Stackhouse, I understand that this is not a hospitable time for you. I hope that you have not had to come far."
"I live in Bon Temps, which is about thirty miles outside of the city."
"Do you live alone?"
It was a somewhat personal question, but I didn't mind answering him. "I do. I lived with my grandmother until she passed a few years ago, and I live in the family home that has been with the Stackhouses for generations."
"That is quite some history," he said with a smile. "I understand that your Grandmother took over the business after your grandfather passed?"
He had done his research. "She did. She hadn't been trained in business, but my grandfather taught her everything he knew and she did a great job."
"Now tell me, I believe that she left the business to you and your brother equally, but I understand that you are now the majority shareholder."
I bristled slightly. "My brother was not interested in running the business, so he sold thirty per cent of the business. Unfortunately he was more interested in chasing after women then running the company, so it was left to me." In all honesty, I was glad when Jason relinquished control to me. He was more of a manual labourer than a businessman, but ran the building division of our company very well.
"And you don't mind that?"
"Not in the slightest. I enjoy the challenge."
He leaned back into the sofa and crossed his long legs in front of him. "Your company has done well under your control. You have made some very fortunate acquisitions."
"Thank you, although it was not just good fortune. I work hard, Mr Northman, it is not simply luck that I have done well."
"I apologise, I did not mean to offend you." I wasn't entirely sure that I believed him, but he obviously knew the right thing to say.
We talked about our work and business, or should I say I talked about my work and business. Any time that I asked Mr Northman a question he dodged it, choosing to ask me one instead or skilfully sidestepping the answer without actually giving me any information. The man was obviously a very skilled politician.
And then we came down to the nitty gritty of what we were here to discuss. I owned some land on the outskirts of Bon Temps that Mr Northman wanted, and he had put in a very good offer, much over market value. It hadn't really understood why he was so keen to buy the land from me, but then I had also never understood the importance of the land either. All I did know is that it had been Gran's specific instruction that it should never be sold.
"I'm sorry Mr Northman, I really hope that I haven't wasted your time in being here, but I won't be selling the land."
His eyes were intense on me, but he didn't look angry or upset at my rejection of his offer to buy the land. "You will sell the land to me, Miss Stackhouse."
I felt the headache come back, but I couldn't understand why he was being so rude. "I'm sorry, Mr Northman, but I will not. I have already made my position clear on that matter."
He looked momentarily shocked, before intensely staring at me. "What are you?" It was more a whisper to himself than a question to me.
Mr Northman looked at me further before standing up. "Do excuse me, I need to have a brief word with my associate."
He left the room quickly and I was alone. I finished off the coffee and started to look around. There really wasn't anything personal in the room other than a painting of an old wooden boat that looked like it could be Viking. I wasn't too sure, though, history never had been my strong point.
I stood up to stretch my legs, wondering what was so important that he had to speak to someone else, and I stilled my breathing to hear whether I could hear anything being said. When I heard nothing audible, I lowered my shields and cast outside to see what other signatures I could detect. What surprised me was that I could hear no thoughts at all, and the only 'minds' I could detect was Mr Northman's and what I assumed to be his associate. But she, too, had no thoughts. They were both blank voids.
I jumped when the door suddenly opened behind me, and Mr Northman and his associate, or protégé, walked back into the room. I couldn't help but feel there was a slight tone that I was being hunted by them, and in that instant I worried that they were going to hurt me.
"Miss Stackhouse," Mr Northman started, "I am very sorry that we cannot come to an understanding over the land, but I would like your assurance that if you ever do sell the land, that I will be your first port of call."
"I won't be selling it," I reiterated, "but I can assure that if I was going to, I would contact you." It was irrelevant really, but it seemed only polite.
"Thank you, Miss Stackhouse, I will walk you to your car."
"Oh, you don't have to do that, I can find my own way."
"Please, I insist."
I swallowed. "Thank you."
He led me to the elevator where we both climbed in, and I was sure that I heard him sniff me, which certainly seemed very odd. The fact was that I was really having a strange evening, what with meeting my new slightly creepy neighbour, and now this building and Mr Northman.
"Good night, Miss Stackhouse," he said, taking my hand ever so gently in his hand and placing a soft kiss on the back. His lips were much cooler than I had imagined them to be, but then it was a slightly chilly November evening, and it hadn't been that warm inside his building. "I hope to see you around."
"Of course, and you."
I climbed into my car and drove home, relieved to be finally tucked away in bed. I didn't sleep well, however, and I was sure at some point I heard some animals fighting outside, but I didn't get out of bed to investigate. It was all a little too bizarre for me, and I was looking forward to getting back to normality.
"Okay, Missy, I'm calling an intervention. You are working too hard, and we're going out tonight."
Amelia and Tara were stood in my kitchen, both of their arms crossed and staring at me. "Look, guys, I'm really busy. Can we do this another time?"
I'd had a hectic few weeks since I'd been to see Mr Northman that strange evening, and although the girls were right, I really didn't want to go out.
"No we can't!" they both said in tandem.
Tara continued. "Look, Laf is coming as well and you know he doesn't get many Saturday nights off. So come on, and get your smelly ass in the shower."
"Firstly, I don't smell, and secondly where the hell are we going? You two look like you're going to a funeral."
They were both dressed head-to-foot in black, which was particularly strange for Amelia, as she normally preferred to dress like a suburban housewife.
"We're going to Fangtasia!" they announced at the same time again.
"Fangtasia? Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? And what, exactly, is Fangtasia?"
"It's the new goth bar that opened," Amelia explained.
"You two aren't goths. None of us are!"
"So? Rumour has it it's the place to be. Look, Sookie, you need to find a new man. I have Tray, Tara has JB, and Laf has, well, everybody. But you need a new man."
"You know how hard it is for me…" They both knew all about my telepathy, and knew what a struggled it was for me to have a relationship with anyone when I could hear their every thought. I got lucky with Alcide in that I couldn't hear him as well as other men, and although I liked Sam as a friend I could never see him as anything other than a loyal friend.
"Well, maybe there are more like Alcide out there. You know that you can't hear Tray very well either, but you hear me easily. Maybe it's like some genetic flaw that means there are some people you can hear better than others."
My mind instantly conjured up the image of Mr Northman in my head, being that he was someone I couldn't hear at all. Which reminded me. "Shit, tell me this isn't the place owned by Eric Northman?"
"Yeah, that's him. Apparently he is incredibly hot!"
I kept quiet. I hadn't told the girls about my strange meeting with him or my even stranger next-door neighbour
I sighed with resignation. There was no point arguing with these two when they were like this, and it would much less hassle for me to just go along with them.
"You do realise that I have nothing to wear. And I really don't suit black, so don't even think about it."
"Sookie, Sookie, Sookie, everyone suits black! But don't worry, we have something else for you." She had an evil glint in her eye and I had a feeling of dread come over me. It was dress-up-Sookie-time.
After showering and washing my hair, I dried it into loose curls and applied more make-up than usual before squeezing into the red dress Tara had brought for me to wear from her clothes shop. I didn't want to admit it, but I looked damned good and I really liked the dress, even if it wasn't my normal style. It was strapless and fitted across the chest, with a white ribbon around the waist and an A-line skirt that came to just above my knee. Paired with my trusted black Jimmy Choos I was ready.
Tara and I had already had a glass of wine each by the time we left my house, and with Amelia driving we picked up Lafayette and drove into Industrial Shreveport.
I didn't really know what to expect of Fangtasia. It was a building all on its own with a large parking lot and no windows whatsoever. There was a gaudy neon sign on the roof of the building with the club's name and posters outside. What's more, was that there was a massive queue of people around the outside of the club, and ninety-seven per cent of them being dressed solely in black. I was definitely going to stand out in my red dress, and I immediately regretted thinking it was such a good idea to wear it.
After parking up, we joined the back of the queue and slowly made our way forward. There certainly seemed to be an odd mixture of people. It obviously was the trendy place to be seen, as there were people – like us – who really didn't belong in a goth bar, and then there were those that really did: those that had tattoos, pale skin and piercings. I didn't want to feel intimidated, but I couldn't help it.
When we eventually got to the front, I couldn't be more surprised to see Mr Northman's associate standing at the door. This time she was dressed in a barely-there black leather dress and spike-heeled black leather boots. She raised a manicured eyebrow when she saw me.
"Miss Stackhouse, I am surprised to see you here."
"Um … yeah, I didn't think I'd be here either. My friends wanted to come." She ran an eye over each of them before settling her eyes back on me, her intense gaze back once again.
"Come on in. Mr Northman will be keen to see you." She indicated inside and someone came to replace her on the door as she guided us inside.
"Oh yes, and he will think that you're quite delicious in that outfit."
I swallowed and looked around. Laf, Amelia and Tara were squealing behind me, but I couldn't see what was so exciting. The room was decorated solely in black and red, and had some kind of horror movie vibe going on, with black leather sofas, red tables and pictures of famous horror actors on the walls like Bela Lagosi, Max Schreck and Christopher Lee.
The blonde lady led us to the bar and indicated to a Native-American looking barman to serve us. I ordered my usual gin and tonic while the others went for cocktails, but I noticed that the barman had a strange other-worldly glow about him. And come to mention it, the blonde lady did as well.
This was all getting a little weird for me, and I was considering getting a taxi home as I knew that the others would not want to leave quite so early.
"Fuck me!" I heard Lafayette exclaim loudly. "That man is truly gorgeous. I want me a piece of that!"
I followed his gaze to a slightly raised platform where there was a large chair. And in that chair was none other than Mr Northman, his gaze planted firmly on me. The blonde lady was by his side and whispering something to him, he arm along the top of the chair.
I found that I couldn't pull my eyes away from him. This time he wasn't in his well-made suit, he was wearing only a black vest, dark jeans and black heavy boots. But he looked spectacular. The arms and shoulders I had fantasized about before were every bit as defined as I had imagined them to be, and his hair was down, brushing his shoulders. He was truly a sight to behold, and I didn't doubt that if I raised my shields I would hear lusty thoughts from everyone else in the room.
"Fuck, Sookie, he's staring straight at you!" Amelia squealed into my ear. "You should so go and get some of him. Although you may have to fight Laffy off first!"
I looked away from him, and turned back to the bar, only to see my neighbour stood there. Great, just what I needed.
"Miss Stackhouse," he drawled. "How good to see you here, although I wouldn't have imagined that I would see you in a place like this."
"Yeah … I'm, um, here with some friends."
Except that when I turned around all three of them were on the dance floor and I'd been left alone with my creepy neighbour. I was really going to be having words with them when we got home.
He smiled. "It seems your friends have left you. Perhaps you would care to join me."
I really didn't want to. "No, it's okay, I'll go and join them on the dance floor, thanks."
I tried to pull away from him, but he grasped hold of my arm to hold me still. His grip was much tighter than I had anticipated, and I let out a squeal of surprise as he held me in place.
"Let her go, Compton," a voice behind me commanded, and I was stunned to see Mr Northman stood there. I had no idea how he's managed to get from the dais so quickly.
"She is mine!" Bill hissed back at him.
"Excuse me," I said to him. "I am not yours, and I would appreciate it if you let go of my arm. And while we're on the matter, please do not come onto my property uninvited again."
Bill didn't move, but was glaring at Mr Northman rather than me. "You heard the lady," he said with a smirk.
After five more seconds of the two men eyeballing each other, Bill let go of my arm and walked out of the bar. I couldn't remember ever having two men fight over me in such a way, or certainly not since elementary school.
"Thank you, Mr Northman," I told him politely. "You didn't have to do that."
"Trust me, I did. Pond life such as Bill Compton should be avoided."
He took my hand gently and led me to a private booth. A waitress came up to me and gave me a new gin and tonic, although I noticed that I was again alone in drinking. He leaned back into the booth and stared at me. I felt almost naked under his penetrating gaze.
"Why are you here, Miss Stackhouse?" he leaned forward again and rested his chin on his hands, his elbow on the table.
"My friends wanted to come and I agreed to come along. Am I not welcome here?"
He grinned at me. "Oh, you are more than welcome. But I find you very intriguing. I have never met anyone like you before. There is something unusual about you."
I could say the same about him. About this whole place. "Really? I said as innocently as I could.
"Yes, and I believe you know it as well."
"I don't know what you mean." I was normally a good liar having learnt to school my features when it came to hearing what people were thinking.
"I smell bullshit."
His blue eyes were twinkling, but I got the sense that I was not as safe as I thought I was with him. "I should probably go and find my friends."
"I think they just left." His voice was calm.
"What? They wouldn't go without me!" I stood up and looked around the room, and was shocked to see that they were nowhere in sight. "They're probably just outside."
I stood up and walked out of the front door of the club, highly aware that both Mr Northman and his associate were right behind me. As soon as I got out of the door I ran as best as I could to the place where Amelia had parked her car, but it was gone.
"Where are they?" I sobbed.
"I told you, they went home."
I'd had enough, and I leaned against a car in the lot and allowed my tears to come. I was trapped and alone in a bar in Shreveport, and I'd have to get a cab back, or at least spend the night in a hotel in the city.
"Come, Miss Stackhouse, please come back inside. I do not like your tears."
I looked up at him to see that he looked a little uncomfortable. I gave in and followed him, noticing that rather than going back in through the front door, they were taking me into the back entrance of the club. He led me to a small and untidy office that was a world away from the one he had in his other building.
I sat down on the large sofa, wrapping my knees underneath myself and taking the Kleenex offered to me. He took a simple metal chair and placed it in front of me as he sat on it the wrong way, his arms resting on the back of the chair, and his legs parted around the back as he faced me.
"May I call you Sookie?"
We probably were beyond calling each other by our surnames. "Sure."
"Then you can call me Eric."
"But what I want to know, Sookie, is what exactly are you?"
So, what do you think? Should I continue?
This is (obviously) set before the Great Revelation, so no one knows anything about vampires or the supernatural.
I'd love to know your thoughts.