AN: Thanks to everyone who took the time to review last chapter! You guys rock!
On a side note, I am really hating my job right now…I have been going through this ongoing love-hate cycle (mostly hate) with my career for the past few years. I wish I could make money writing fanfiction. If I could, I’d quit so fast it’d make your head spin (as we say here in Texas). Sigh…
Eric stood in the deep shadows of the cemetery and watched Sookie while she rocked on the porch swing. He was pleased to see her eat one of the chocolates before she went into her house. He then flew around the periphery of the tree line until he had an unobstructed view into her bedroom. He perched on a branch and waited for her to go upstairs. He saw her enter the bedroom and open her window. He thought she spied him at one point and hastily backed up further into the shadows until he finally saw her turn out the lights.
He waited for several minutes and then floated up to her bedroom. He wanted to gaze at her one last time before he left her house for the night. Seeing that she had fallen asleep quickly and seemed to be resting peacefully, he flew back to the old house.
Outside the house, lumber and various building supplies had been loaded around the property. He ignored the clutter and went straight into the living area.
He pulled out his cell phone and saw that he had two messages. One was from Pam and the other from an unfamiliar number. He played the one he didn’t recognize first.
“Hello Mr. Northman. It’s Selah Pumphrey. I, uh, wanted to touch base with you to see how you’re liking the property. I also wanted to extend an invitation to you to come to my place for dinner. I know it’s short notice and all, but I’m thinking tomorrow night if you’re free? And if not, let’s set up another time. Give me a call back at this number, the same one I wrote on the back of the card I gave you. In case you lost it, my number is-”
Eric deleted the message and played Pam’s, which, as always, was succinct and to the point: “Master, call me back.”
He dialed Pam’s number.
She answered on the second ring. “Hello, master. How did she like the gifts?”
“She was pissed. They pissed her off.”
She was silent for several seconds. “What do you mean, “they pissed her off?”
“She was offended and tried to give it all back. Said I was trying to “buy her off.” That goddamned shifter got to her and tried to warn her about me. Your advice to keep him alive appears to have detrimental to my plans.”
“Something must be seriously wrong with her. What woman in her right mind would give back Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany jewelry for Christ’s sake?” She paused. “Wait. Did she try to give back the Mercedes you special ordered for her?”
Eric heard a sharp intake of breath in response.
He continued. “She has informed me that material items are offensive to her.”
“Nonsense. Absolute nonsense. And Dear Abby says that-”
“Pam. Your courtship advice has not been of benefit. Luckily, she has agreed to go on a date with me tomorrow night desp-”
“Wait! She accepted a date! That is progress. It seems my advice was beneficial after all.” Eric rolled his eyes at her smug tone.
“As I was saying. She agreed despite her reservations about the gifts. She still intends to give them back to me.”
“Well. I suspect she may just feel nervous about the cost of the presents? She has grown up in that backwoods town after all. You just need to acclimate her to the finer things in life.” Pam’s tone was absolute in its conviction.
Eric sighed. “Perhaps you are right.”
“Where are you taking her for a date?”
“I am taking her to an upscale restaurant in Shreveport. I have reserved the entire second floor of Jayne Marie’s. If she is so inclined, I will then take her sailing on my boat docked nearby at Cross Lake.”
“Hmm. Well, it’s a start, I suppose. Are you sure you don’t want to fly her up here to New York? After all, you have your private jet at your disposal. You don’t have to stay in that shithole area.”
“No, Pam. As I said, she is a woman of more simple tastes. I would just scare her off further and perhaps drive her into the arms of that shifter. That is unacceptable. She is mine. She just doesn’t realize it yet.”
“Hmm. Well, simple tastes or not, she is a woman and I still say that gifts are appropriate when courting. And this shifter…he is still causing strife between the two of you?”
“Yes. I plan on disposing of him tonight. He has ignored my threats and sought Sookie out in an attempt to poison her mind against me. He also turned down the attempt to buy him out. He is proving to be difficult and annoyingly persistent. I tire of dealing with him.”
“As I said before, you will be making a mistake if you kill him, master. Think about it: she agreed to a date despite his pathetic attempts to turn her against you. I think you will cause her to fear you if she discovers that you have harmed him.”
Eric paused for a moment, considering her words. “I see your point, and yet I cannot abide him interfering in my pursuit of Sookie.”
“I understand, and while I am normally all for quickly dispatching enemies, I think George Herbert’s “living well is the best revenge” proverb is appropriate in this situation. If he wants this Sookie for himself, seeing her with you will rankle him to no end.” She chuckled, obviously pleased with herself.
“I will consider your words, Pam, but I do not want this shifter to think he has outwitted me. He obviously does not fear me sufficiently. I think that I am going to pay him a visit to remind him.”
Pam sighed. “I know you well, master. I would advise against it.”
“I have listened to you Pam, and now it is time to follow my own counsel. Good night.” He hung up on her and placed his phone in his pocket.
He strode out of the old house and shot up in the air towards Merlotte’s.
Sam clung unseen to a low branch of a tree that overhung the Compton house. Despite his fear of discovery, he had stayed downwind and remained undetected. He had witnessed the entire exchange between Sookie and Eric, which was entirely too friendly for his comfort. He couldn’t believe she had agreed to go on a date with him!
Afterwards, he had followed him back to the old house. With his keen hearing, he was able to eavesdrop on the voicemail messages and conversation with someone named “Pam” and had heard of his intent to murder him. While not surprised, he nonetheless felt a cold lump of dread in the pit of his stomach.
Sam shivered when he thought about the direction he saw Northman head towards. He would not return home tonight but what about tomorrow night? Or the next? The Sheriff was known to be relentless and it would only be a matter of time before he caught up with him. Sam hated the idea given his independent nature, but he would have to seek out assistance from other supes, starting with the Shreveport wolf packmaster.
Sam took off and flew past Sookie’s window, assuring himself that she was asleep and safe in her room. He planned on staying in his hawk form until dawn, at which time he would return home. He flew further south, near the edge of a swamp and perched while waiting for sunrise.
He thought back to the voicemail he had heard on Northman’s phone. Selah Pumphrey was interested in him. Maybe he could use that information to his advantage…
As Eric flew to Merlotte’s, he could see from his aerial view that the bar was closed and the lights were off in the trailer. He landed a few feet away from the back of his hovel. He instantly noted that there was no one inside. Suspicion arose dark and sharp in his mind. The bastard was wily. Where was he? He rose back up in the air and hovered around the property, scanning for him.
Stalking a shifter was not the easiest of tasks. He could have taken any number of animal forms, which would mask his human scent. Fury flooded him as he headed back to Sookie’s house. If he caught the runt lurking about her property he would end him then and there, damn the consequences.
He circled around her house and the cemetery, as well as the periphery of the woods around their conjoined land but noticed nothing out of the ordinary. He was not placated, however. Something was amiss. He decided to stay on the property until dawn.
He descended and sat on Sookie’s porch swing. ‘Let the prick try to sniff around Sookie’s house,’ he thought.
Unfortunately, he could not risk going to ground on the property with the shifter lurking about. As much as he hated to be away from Sookie, he would have to return back to Shreveport to ensure his safety during his day death.
He took out phone and began emailing Bobby with instructions. He was going to make sure that his date with her went perfectly.
Sookie woke up feeling well rested and surprisingly relaxed. She glanced at her alarm and saw that it was already mid-morning. Sitting up quickly, she started to head to take a quick shower before work but then remembered she had told Sam she was taking time off. She frowned. The loss of tips was going to hurt, especially since it was a Friday and she had been slotted to work a double-shift. Well, she would just have to be extra careful with her money for the next couple of weeks.
Her breath hitched when she suddenly recalled last night. Her cheeks flushed when she thought about Eric. She would be seeing him tonight for dinner. Oh…The thought of seeing him made her heart beat quickly. She felt nervous, excited, and a little bit frightened. She would be going to dinner with a vampire. An actual vampire! She giggled to herself but then stopped when she recalled his words to her. He was right; she wasn’t exactly the run of the mill “girl next door.” She had never been able to date human men, so maybe a vampire was her answer after all. Maybe gran was right about him? She would try to have an open mind and give him the benefit of the doubt.
Even though…the thought of him spying on her and sneaking into her house was pretty over the top. Yes, he apologized and seemed contrite, but what did his actions say about his personality in general? The man gave her a fortune’s worth of gifts and didn’t even bat an eyelash on his handsome face. She had a feeling that dating him was going to be an experience…one she wouldn’t soon forget.
She startled when she heard a knock on her front door. Who it could be was anyone’s guess. She groaned aloud.
She threw on her old bathrobe and plodded down the stairs. Whoever was at the door was impatient since they continued to knock without pause.
“Just a minute!” She called as she pulled her robe together and tied the sash. She peered out of the peephole and saw Bobby Burnham, looking sour enough to curdle milk. She rolled her eyes. She decided she would try to “kill him with kindness.”
She opened the door and said, “Why hello Mr. Burnham. What brings you out here at this time of day? I was just about to put on a pot of coffee. Would you like a cup?” She smiled pleasantly at him though the smile melted as she read his thoughts, which were vitriolic. He was irritated that he had to keep “coming out to this white trash tramp’s backwoods hovel.”
He thrust a garment bag and some boxes at her. Once again, he attempted to recite a memorized script to her while continuing his inner rant. “Mr. Northman asks that you would consider…”
“Wearing this outfit that he selected for me. He wants me to wear it with the sapphire jewelry that he hopes I will keep.” She finished for him, pulling the words out of his head.
‘There, take that,’ she thought to herself.
His eyes widened in fear as he nodded curtly and turned, nearly falling down the porch steps in his haste.
She took the items inside and slammed the door. She knew she was being rude, but her famous Stackhouse temper was showing. She realized she shouldn’t have been eavesdropping, but she was sick of the man’s shitty thoughts about her. What did she ever do to him?
Shaking her head she draped the garment bag over a chair in the dining room and placed three smaller boxes on the table. The first box held a silver Prada clutch and the second had silver satin and crystal t-strap high heel sandals (also Prada, she noted with an eye roll). She checked the size. Yep, size 7. How did he know?
She turned to the garment bag next. She unzipped it and pulled out a sleek white silk sheath dress. The tag indicated it was a Michael Kors, size 8 (her size now that she had lost a little weight since Gran died). It was beautiful, with a low neckline and wide shoulder straps that crisscrossed in the back. She held it up to her and saw that it came to about four inches above the knee. She turned to the smallest box, which was pale pink and had “Agent Provocateur” in black script across the top. She pulled off the black ribbon and opened it. She gasped when she discovered its contents: a nude lace thong and convertible satin bra. She snorted and peeked at the tags, which were also her size.
How high-handed! She had just explained to him last night that she didn’t approve of lavish gifts, and here he was, giving her designer clothes and expensive…ass floss. She held up the thong and shook her head. No matter how attracted to him she was, no matter how much her body might betray her, there was no way in hell he was going to get her in or out of a lace thong tonight.
“Keep dreaming, buddy,” she murmured. She’d go on the date with him, but dressed in her own clothing and wearing her own plain cotton underwear, by God!
She turned and headed back to the kitchen to get some coffee brewing. She figured she better get her errands done in plenty of time for her date. She had a feeling she’d have to be on her toes tonight…
Sam peeked in his rearview mirror, slicking back an errant hair. He knew what he was about to do was a long shot, but he was desperate. Both Colonel Flood and Calvin Norris were hesitant to get involved in his affairs once they found out Northman was the one gunning for him. He suspected if he was a true werewolf or werepanther they might be more inclined to stick their neck out…but being a shifter up against the vampire Sheriff, it looked like he was on his own.
Shifters as a group tended to not be as organized as other wereanimals. While he had gotten some sympathetic responses from friends he had emailed, they had all kept him at arms length. The bottom line was that no one wanted to cross Northman. He didn’t blame them, really, but it was disheartening nonetheless.
And now, here he was…He felt a pang of guilt. He hoped that Northman would have his interest diverted long enough to get Sookie away from him. Or better yet, it would anger Sookie to the point she would tell Northman to leave her alone. Long shot, yes, but still worth a shot.
He got out of his truck and approached the Bon Temps Realty office. He took a deep breath before opening the door. The door had an electronic “ding dong” noise as he opened it. The cool rush of air conditioning and heavy scent of floral potpourri hit his nose. He stifled a sneeze.
A well-coiffed young woman greeted him. “Hello. Mr. Merlotte, isn’t it? You own the bar and grill? How can I be of assistance?”
He smiled nervously. “Uh, yeah. I’d like to speak to Ms. Pumphrey. I’m thinking of buying a house. You know, living behind the bar is getting a little old.”
She eyed him curiously. “Oh, I see.” She clicked on the computer and scanned it for a few seconds. “You’re in luck. She actually has a free slot before her next client. Please have a seat while I contact her.”
Sam sat on a plush wing-backed chair in the waiting area as the woman spoke briefly on the phone. She looked up at him and smiled robotically. “She’ll be right with you Mr. Merlotte.”
Sam had to wait for another 15 minutes before he saw Selah swish down the short hallway. Holding out a perfectly manicured hand, she greeted him with false enthusiasm. “Mr. Merlotte. Karen tells me you’re thinking of buying a home?” She raised a speculative well-plucked brow.
Sam stood and shook her hand. “Yes, I am.” He saw the look of incredulity on her face but ignored it.
She nodded. “Well all right then. Why don’t you follow me back to my office and we’ll discuss your preferences and uh…” She barely suppressed her disdain before continuing. “Price point.”
Sam followed her down the short hallway and sat in one of the two chairs in front of her desk. As soon as she sat down, he leaned over and closed the door.
She raised her eyebrows and looked at him expectantly.
Sam cleared his throat. “I’m not here looking to buy a house.”
“No? Then why are you here and wasting my time? I’m a busy woman.”
“Yes, I realize that, and I apologize for taking up your time, but I wanted to talk to you about Eric Northman.”
Her eyes widened as she paused for a few seconds. She sat back in her chair and said, “I’m all ears.”