I seem to be back on track with the writing again. Many thanks to Mini for her Beta-Skills. Any errors are still mine!
Quick Update: Eric has persuaded Sookie to visit Fangtasia to use her talent to find a thief.
Of course, Eric reached Fangtasia first, but he waited in the parking lot for Sookie to arrive. As soon as Pam sensed his arrival, she joined him.
"Is Sookie Stackhouse not with you?"
"She is on her way." Eric replied, with no explanation. "Is everyone still here?"
"Yes, I counted stock as slowly as a human could. Long Shadow knows something is wrong, but he does not realise it is connected to him." Pam spoke in Swedish, so if Long Shadow over heard he would not have a clue that he was being discussed.
"We shall do this in the bar. Start with Bruce and get the waitresses to wait in the staffroom."
Bruce was Fangtasia's accountant and easier to read than a book. Eric wanted Sookie's first task to be easy, so she would have a boost to her confidence.
When she arrived, Sookie looked a mixture of nervous and irritated. Eric decided it was a good time to stay silent and he lead her through the back hallways of Fangtasia until they reached the bar.
"I am sure you remember Long Shadow and Pamela?"
Long Shadow did not speak, but Pam drawled, "Welcome Sookie," in her best Louisiana accent.
"And this is Bruce, our accountant."
Bruce was sitting at one of the large bar tables, with a stack of paperwork and a laptop in front of him. He stood as he was introduced, then sank back down into the chair again.
"I would like you to listen to my colleague and answer her questions." Eric decided not to name Sookie; Bruce was unlikely to share information about her, but it was best to be careful.
"Would you like to sit too?" he asked her.
Sookie seemed to be deciding how to proceed. She took a chair by Bruce's table and sat at an angle to him, watching him intently.
It was clear to Eric that Bruce was terrified, but not guilty and he was almost entirely sure that Bruce knew nothing.
After a moments pause, Sookie took Bruce's hand, then moved her grip around to his wrist. "Have you stolen from this bar?"
"No," was his misery-filled reply.
"Do you know who did?"
Sookie looked around to Eric, "Not this guy"
She sounded confident and Eric was pleased the first step was over.
"Bruce, you may leave." As an afterthought Eric added, "Take tomorrow off in lieu for this evening. I shall see you here on Tuesday, to discuss our new procedures." Eric was pleased he had avoided paying Bruce overtime, and he hoped he looked like a generous boss to Sookie.
Bruce collected his papers and left as quickly as a human could. After a nod from Eric, Pam went to collect Sookie's next challenge. While Eric, Sookie and Long Shadow were alone in the room there was silence. Long Shadow paced in away that was most unlike a Vampire, then stood still as Pam returned with Ginger.
Ginger was a good waitress, always ready to stay late or put in another shift on her day off, if necessary. She was also a Fangbanger of the worst kind. She had been tasted by many local Vampires, mainly when they did not have time or the inclination to look for a more appetizing meal.
She entered the bar with a flirty smile for Eric and Long Shadow, but ignored Sookie. Pam directed her to the chair that Bruce had vacated and Eric instructed, "Ginger, answer this woman's questions."
"Yes, master," she simpered and seemed to notice Sookie for the first time.
As before, Sookie reached out to take Ginger's arm.
"Don't touch me!" Ginger hissed. Her over reaction cranked up the tension in the room.
Eric spoke in a commanding tone. "Pamela, hold Ginger still."
As Pam did as he asked, Eric wondered if Sookie would object to a human being held down but she seemed eager to complete her task. Again, she took Ginger's wrist and asked, straight out, "Did you take the money?"
Ginger gave a piercing scream, followed by a stream of curses and struggled in vain against Pam's hold.
Sookie stayed remarkably calm. "She knows who did, but she can't say the name."
Ginger began to sob.
"It's like a compulsion; she can't even picture him." Sookie sounded fascinated with her discovery. "Is there someone else who might know something?"
Eric nodded. "Bring Belinda in."
Pam was about to follow his instruction, but she paused. "Should she stay or go?" Pam directed her question at Sookie. Eric could not remember his child asking the opinion of a human since she had been turned.
Sookie considered Ginger, who was now shaking uncontrollably. "She should go, she'd scare anyone else."
As Pam exchanged waitresses, Eric spoke quietly to Sookie. "You are doing very well."
She nodded slightly in reply. There was a human phrase that Eric had heard which applied to her; 'in the zone'. He understood that phrase better now.
Belinda was older than many of the waitresses, and a good deal more sensible. As she arrived in the bar, she understood this was a serious situation. She took the chair offered and did not object when Sookie took her wrist.
This time Eric began the questions. "Belinda, what Vampire has Ginger been seeing?"
"Anyone that would have her." Belinda replied honestly.
Sookie took charge quickly, "Which one from here?" She must have got her answer, as Sookie looked straight at Long Shadow, who was standing to the side of her.
It was incredible that Sookie reacted first, she was half way to standing when Long Shadow launched himself at her. Her arms flew up involuntarily to her face and were her only protection as the furious Vampire tried to rip out her throat. Belinda had to scramble off her chair, as Eric grabbed it and snapped the side off it.
Long Shadow had slammed Sookie back on to the table that she had been using. She gave a strange scream as he bit her forearm, but then Long Shadow bit no more as Eric's newly made stake plunged through his back, into his heart.
Pam had moved quickly too; going to the far side of the table she grabbed Sookie under her arms and pulled her backwards. Sookie back-peddled with her feet, eager to be free of the deteriorating Vampire.
The parts of the back of the chair were still attached to the makeshift stake, which was now stood upright in the corpses back. Only when the body began to decay, did the chair back slip to one side.
Eric saw the blood from Long Shadow had covered Sookie, her arms had been some protection but her chest, neck and face were coated. He could not resist moving closer.
Pam was still holding Sookie's back against her chest peering over her shoulder as they both watched Long Shadow disintegrate and smoke into nothing but a scorch on the table top.
"You're gonna need a new table," said Sookie, sounding vague and confused, "and a new chair."
"You're mouth is bloody," said Eric, moving a step closer. His fangs were still down and considering how Sookie looked right now he did not expect them to be withdrawing them soon.
"He bled into me," Sookie whispered.
"Did any go down your throat?"
"Probably, what does that mean?"
"That remains to be seen," Pam whispered into Sookie ear. "Usually, we drink from humans, not the other way around."
For the first time Sookie realised she had escaped from one Vampire who wanted to kill her, to be faced by two who wanted to fuck her.
"How do things look to you now, Sookie?" Eric said smoothly.
Sookie found herself in a Vampire sandwich. "Looks like time I left," she whispered.
"You smell different, Sookie," Eric murmured.
"I did this for you, Eric, and now I need to go. No retaliation for Ginger or Belinda or Bruce. OK? We agreed."
Eric was proud of Sookie for defending the others, while two Vampires closed in on her. It took a moment to realise that he was one of the two Vampires and he had to release her.
A click in the room made all three of them turn to the sound. Belinda had just reached the door and turned the handle, but froze as she became everyone's focus.
"Pamela, see Belinda out," said Eric.
Eric continued, quickly in Swedish. "Make sure she forgets."
Pam made a slight snarling noise, right in Sookie's ear. Sookie jumped and hitched in a scared breath.
Pam obeyed her maker. Although as she left, she could not resist looking hungrily over her shoulder.
As Sookie backed away from him, Eric gradually regained his composure. He still did not want her to leave, but he no longer wanted to drain her dry and damn the consequences.
"I'm going now." Sookie said, making her way to the door.
"Sookie, you cannot leave." His words were a low growl and as soon as he spoke, Eric knew he had said the wrong thing. Sookie looked terrified again, of course she did. It took an effort, but Eric retracted his fangs, not fully, but partly. "I cannot let you leave looking like that. Imagine if your Grandmother saw you."
Sookie looked down at herself, the quickly, drying blood was flaking away, scorching the material of her dress.
"We have a shower here and you need clothing."
Still, Sookie hesitated.
"I did not stake Long Shadow, so that I could harm you myself. Of course you will be free to go, as soon as you are presentable. Please, this way." Forcing himself to be polite, helped Eric's control. He led Sookie out of the bar and was relieved that she followed him to the staff shower room. "No one shall disturb you."
Eric entered Pam's office as he heard her put down the phone.
"Clean up are on their way," she said in a much subdued tone.
"I could not have let you feed from her Pam, we would have both gone too far."
She gave an exaggerated shrug. "Belinda was fine... I thought we were going to share Sookie, like the good old days."
"Another time, another human," said Eric quietly.
Pam was distracted by the sound of the shower being turned on. "Is she still here?"
"Yes, I need clothing for her. Her dress was damaged."
"Well, at least that is something we can thank our old friend Long Shadow for." Pam saw that Eric was not amused, and added, "I'll find something."
Pam opened a large locker in the corner of the room and continued sounding quite uncomfortable. "Are you taking her to your house?"
"No, she is going home." Eric could feel Pam's jealousy, but he could not tell if she was jealous of him or Sookie. He suspected a little of both.
Pam changed the subject, "Shall I call Hot Rain for you?"
Hot Rain was Long Shadow's maker, Eric knew he could not let Pam take the responsibility of calling him to let him know what had happened to his child. "I shall call him, I will need to call our Queen first, although I'll probably have to speak to Andre."
"This Sookie Stackhouse is certainly causing you a lot of trouble. When will you hand her over to Queen Sophie-Anne and be rid of her?"
"I may not."
"Eric..." Pam's concern was clearly felt by her maker.
"Do not worry Pam, I shall come to some arrangement with New Orleans. Sookie is too valuable to our Area to simply hand over."
Pam did not seem convinced, but she would not speak against her maker when he seemed so certain.
"Not sure if she will like these." She handed over a red Fangtasia T-shirt and a denim skirt to Eric. Fangtasia was the kind of place where you could always find a spare denim skirt.
As he heard the shower stop, Eric tapped on the door of the room and opened it a little. From inside, Sookie screeched and Eric could even hear the flap of a towel. He found it impossible not to smile at the thought of the sight just behind the door.
"I have brought clothing, I shall leave it by the door."
"Thanks, but please don't come in!"
"Did you enjoy your shower?" asked Eric as he put the clothes on the floor.
"Yes, but you're not invited in!"
"Sookie, that does not work here; I own the building. Of course, I will not enter." Eric heard a huff of relief from the other side of the door, but he was distracted by her scent. Long Shadow's blood had altered it a little, but not for long. The beautiful aroma was back, fresh and sweet and stronger than ever. Eric did not wish to close the door just yet.
"I hope the clothes fit," he said, grasping at any conversation.
"I'm sure they will, but doesn't matter, I'm driving straight home."
"My office is just along the hall, please call in before you leave." Sookie did not reply, so Eric continued. "We need to talk about what happened tonight."
"OK, OK, but please shut the door."
"Certainly," Eric inhaled before he shut the door and enjoyed her scent.
Eric could usually be incredibly patient, but he felt quite frustrated as he waited in his office for Sookie to join him.
As soon as she arrived, he could see the difference Long Shadow's blood had made, her skin was clear with a slight glow and her eyes even brighter. Her hair was still damp and combed back so it was difficult to spot any difference there, but Sookie might notice tomorrow. Humans were finding out that great skin and fuller hair were a positive side-effect of Vampire blood.
Sookie looked quiet self conscious as she entered, she tugged down the hem of the short denim skirt, and Eric suspected that the t-shirt was tighter and redder than she liked.
"You look quite different. I am sorry about your dress, I shall replace it."
"That's fine, it wasn't new. You probably sell this t-shirt for more than that dress was worth."
"Please keep it, wear it, you are excellent advertising."
Sookie smiled and shook her head at the compliment. "Will you get in trouble for what happened Long Shadow?"
"No, I do need to report what happened, but no trouble." Privately he added to himself, 'but it will be expensive'.
"Did you glamour the waitress?"
"Pam did. Belinda has known Long Shadow a long while, it seemed best that she should not remember his decay."
"I wish I could forget it too." Sookie mumbled; she did not object to the glamour.
"How do you feel Sookie?"
"Fine!" She said, sounding a little surprised. She stroked her forearm where she had been bitten and added, "The bite has cleared up, barely a scratch."
Eric rose from the sofa, ostensibly to look at the injury but primarily to get closer. "That's good."
Sookie shrugged, "My cat's done more damage to me than this!"
Eric did not respond straight away, he was surprised that he felt jealous of Long Shadow, as he had tasted her in his last second. Enveloped by her scent again, Eric thought that might be a good way to go, although he planned to stay around for more than just a sip of her blood.
On impulse he reached to touch the little scar, he stroked it, just as Sookie herself had done. She did not move away, but seemed to tense a little.
Eric's hand moved to just above her elbow, and he kept talking in a hushed voice. "You landed heavily on the table, does anywhere else hurt?"
"I'm fine, I should go," Sookie was whispering too, looking up at Eric who was so close now.
"Stay just a little longer." Eric was speaking so quietly, he almost mouthed the words, as he dipped his head and pressed his lips against hers. Her lips were soft and full and warm, so warm. He was thrilled as she returned his pressure, she even opened her mouth, just a little and he let his tongue flick against her lips.
Eric let his hand move to the small of her back, her hands moved up against his chest and, for a moment, the two of them were totally together.
Something stopped her. Eric had no idea what, but Sookie pushed against his chest and her lips became still and immobile. His initial reaction was to hold her tighter, but quickly her realised she was desperate for him to let go.
As he released her, Sookie stepped back, staggering a little. "I got to go."
Eric fought the temptation to follow her, as she bolted out of his office, he heard her struggle with the outside door, eventually start her noisy car and drive off.
He made himself sit and savoured the taste of her lips on his. He did not allow himself to follow her. He could have used the excuse of checking she was safe, he knew the real reason would be that he wanted her, but she had pushed him away. He could not have her. Not tonight.
I always hated that in the books Eric was supposed to be out of control enough to feed from Ginger! I feel like I've righted that wrong - for me, at least – and hope you enjoyed this chappie.
Thank you again for the support, reviews and alerts. I'm relieved you have stuck with the story.