“Rumor has it Bill Compton has set up shop in a little backwoods bayou north of here called Bon Temps.”
I looked up from my desk to see my child standing there with her hand on her hip, managing to look both bored and contemptuous at the same time. I tried to remember if she first rose as vampire that way since it certainly had been her preferred stance since then, but couldn’t recall. And searching for the missing sixty thousand dollars in the pile of bank statements and receipts on my desk wasn’t nearly as amusing as she, so I gladly ignored them. Kicking my feet up onto my desktop and tenting my fingers, I drolly offered, “You don’t say.”
Bill Compton was a useless vampire born of an even more useless vampire. I never understood what made Sophie-Anne choose him to be a member of her court, but I truly hadn’t given it much thought since the farther away from court I was, the better I felt.
“I do say. Apparently he’s returned to the hovel of his former human home and has rested there for a couple of weeks now. I was told by one of the bloodbags in their pitiful attempt to…befriend me,” she said with her face scrunched up. She attempted to regain her bored affect by adding, “As though knowing Vampire Bill,” she mocked with a fake southern drawl, “would make them any more palatable to me.” But even with her genuine distaste, I could feel through our tie something akin to a taunting anticipation. She knew all too well I didn’t look kindly on many, much less a vampire who failed to report to me in a timely manner.
And she’d been a good girl lately, so I saw no reason to disappoint her.
My eyes narrowed and I let loose with a growl rumbling through my chest – with a more genuine feeling behind it than I’d planned – as I stood from my desk, saying, “Watch over the bar. Perhaps when I return, you’ll have a new toy to play with.”
“202 Hummingbird Road,” she called out after me no longer trying to hide her glee.
We rarely had a vampire to play with these days with everyone watching their step – as it were – in the days since the Great Revelation. Humans were so…breakable, so I could understand her excitement. However feeling her enjoyment only lasted until I was in my car and then I let the true anger I felt over his disregard for protocol – and therefore his disregard for me as the area sheriff – simmer hotly with my mind playing over the unknown variables. It wasn’t our monarch’s duty to inform me a member of her court would be staying in my area, but anything more than a few nights’ long visit would’ve normally warranted a phone call at the very least. The fact he’d apparently been in my area for several weeks, while I’d received no word whatsoever from either of them, struck me as off. But I had no idea what they could be up to. His position as her procurer was the obvious trail for my mind to set out on, but there was nothing to lead me from that point. There’d been reports of a possible maenad sighting roughly in that area, but that wouldn’t concern our queen. And there was nothing in my area that I knew of that she could want, but whatever it was she could have just come to me.
That really was my only clue.
Unless Compton was acting on his own – something I doubted since he was so firmly under Sophie Anne’s thumb he should be covered in a high gloss red to match the rest of her fingernails – whatever it was, she didn’t want me to know about it. That thought only served to make me even angrier and more than a little curious as to what it could be. I’d been nothing but her loyal sheriff and the fact she couldn’t trust me with whatever it was she had him doing galled me. But the only bright side was knowing I’d rather deal with the queen’s fuckery than what was going on in Area 9. One of Stan Davis’ nestmates was missing and assumed kidnapped by the religious zealots led by the Reverend Steve Newlin under the guise of heading a church – The Fellowship of the Sun.
Why not just call it Auschwitz for vampire? Same thing…
I was still seething halfway up the interstate when my superior vision caught sight of three of my more problematic vampire pulled over on the side of the road behind another piece of shit car that had its hood up. A human woman was surrounded by the three of them and just because I was already in a shitty mood, I decided on a whim to spread the cheer and pulled up behind them all before exiting my car.
“Is there a problem?” I calmly asked, with my eyes taking in the trembling blond in the center of the three unruliest vampire in my area.
“No sheriff,” Malcolm replied. “We were just…lending the little lady a hand.”
The fear on her face told me otherwise, but it wasn’t something I would normally concern myself with. And yet I found myself to be concerned nonetheless. She was beautiful to be sure, but it was more than that.
She was an innocent.
Unlike the trash that begged for our attention on a nightly basis at the bar, she wasn’t anything like the typical fangbanger. Her modest clothes and fresh face – completely devoid of makeup – along with her prey-like ready-to-bolt stance told me she hadn’t sought their attention, like so many of the desperate women I’d just left behind. Her unshed tears told me she didn’t want their attention, but the stubborn set of her jaw showed her courage nonetheless.
I was impressed.
She would’ve been impressed if she’d known how very seldom that occurred.
I’d killed countless numbers in battle both in my human life and as vampire. Even now I doled out punishments that fit the crime no matter what the species was in front of me, but I’d never condoned violence against innocents. It was something we could no longer afford, especially now that we’d revealed ourselves to humans, but even before then there had been plenty of women who would’ve gladly gone off with the three of them. If I’d caught even the barest hint of her wanting to be in their presence, I would’ve let them be, but she looked as though if she could magically wish herself away, she would.
“I’ll see to her welfare,” I said with my tone brokering no argument.
So, of course they argued.
Diane hissed in my direction while Liam and Malcolm turned to face me. Their fangs had already been dropped when I’d arrived, but now they were openly snarling at me, while Malcolm spat out accusingly, “Poaching, sheriff? We saw her first.”
He looked weaker than when I’d last seen him a few weeks earlier. His skin was taking on a greyish hue, making me wonder if he’d been infected with the Sino virus. There would be karmic justice in that, but instead of showing my amusement over the thought, I took a step closer and dropped my own fangs as I said lowly, “I am your sheriff. Even if she reeked of your blood and cum, I could take her from you if I so desired.” I made a show of inhaling deeply – finding myself surprised at her unusually sweet scent – and smiled, adding, “Thankfully, she is unsullied by your stench.”
I could tell she didn’t know whether or not to be relieved at my assertion, but she barely had the time to decide when she cried out in surprise as Malcolm grabbed her and pulled her body closer to his. Placing a long lick from her jawbone up into her hairline, he taunted, “How about now, sheriff?”
I was merely a blur – as was his arm when I ripped it from his own body and away from hers – and I only gave him enough time to realize his true death was seconds away before I tore his head from his shoulders. His blood sprayed out painting his shocked victim, but I placed my body in front of hers, while facing the remaining two, and calmly asked, “Did either of you have anything to add?”
The three of them combined were no match for me, so I wasn’t concerned about the remaining two if they were to try and team up on me. Instead they both backed away, stuttering, “No…no sheriff,” and moved slowly to their car before speeding off into the night.
I stared after them until they were out of sight, but made sure to turn around slowly, hearing the whispered frightened whimper behind me. Her bravado seemed to have left at the same time Malcolm lost his head and she kept her head down, with her eyes trained on her feet. The blood was still dripping from her body when I found myself softly asking, “Are you alright?”
She seemed to steel herself by straightening her back, but never looked up, as she asked, “Are…are you…” Instead of finishing her question, she then altered her course by only nodding and saying, ”Thank you…for saving me.”
I remained silent for a time, waiting for her eyes to look back at me so I could glamour the events from her memory. But when her gaze finally met my own – a slightly lighter shade of blue eyes than mine staring back at me – I was left somewhat awestruck. There was a warmth there – along with an understandable dose of remaining fear – that I couldn’t recall ever having seen before. So rather than glamour her right away and lose out on the strange sensation it had evoked, I humored myself by asking, “What is your name?”
“Sookie,” she half-whispered. “Sookie Stackhouse.”
Sookie. Yet another thing I had never come across in my millennia.
“Well Sookie Sookie Stackhouse, I am Eric Northman.” My attempt at putting her at ease seemed to have worked, given the small smile playing on her lips, while she chuckled out, “Just Sookie.” So I glanced over at her piece of shit car and said, “I assume you’re having car trouble, but I’m afraid my skills are lacking in that regard.” And looking at her car, I estimated it was likely an animal sacrifice and black magic would be the only way to bring that thing back to life, so I offered, “Shall I see you home? Or have you already called for a ride? I could wait with you until they arrive.”
“Um…” she paused with her eyes not quite knowing where to look, between the vampire assassin in front of her and the vampire puddle at her feet. The scent of her fear was slowly diminishing and it wasn’t as though she was unpleasant to look at, so I remained silent. Watching her until it became too much for her and she finally said, “I…uh…don’t have a phone?” She’d ended her statement as though it was a question, but before I could offer her the use of my own, she added, “And…uh…you’ve already done…um…so much for me already?” Again, as a question, but she seemed to be on a roll now that the floodgates had opened and rambled on with, “I would hate to put you out. I live in a small town up north and I’m sure it’s out of your way, but if you wouldn’t mind maybe dropping me off at the nearest gas station I can call my brother to come pick me up? I mean, I was going to walk, you know…before, but…uh…that doesn’t really seem like a good idea anymore after…you know…”
She glanced down at her blood stained clothes and was a fidgeting mess by the time she was through, but I found myself amused enough to say, “Well, I happen to be heading to a small town up north, so perhaps you could show me the way. Have you heard of Bon Temps?”
Her responding gasp gave her away and her eyes zeroed in on my face, looking for what I had no clue, but she eventually admitted, “That’s where I live.”
“All the better,” I said, with my arm outstretched towards my car while wondering over the coincidence. “I’ll see you home and then be on my way.”
I could tell her internal dialogue was rambling just as fast as her mouth had been moments earlier, so I tried to appease her worries by saying, “Miss Stackhouse, if I had any intention of harming you, I would’ve done so already. And while time is no longer a concern for my kind, sunrise is. If you’d rather, you may use my phone to call your brother and I will wait with you until he arrives.”
She mumbled something that sounded like, “Probably drunk as a skunk by now,” but said clearly, “Are you sure it’s no bother?”
“I am sure.”
I started walking back towards my car, but I could tell from the silence behind me she wasn’t following, so I turned just as she said, “Um…your car. It’s really nice, but I uh…I’m covered in…um…yeah, so I’m afraid of ruining your upholstery.”
I couldn’t hide the surprise from my face over the fact she’d just faced three vampire, intent on doing things to her she couldn’t imagine in her very worst nightmares, only to see one ended by another vampire she’d never met. And yet she was concerned about my leather seats getting blood on them?
Mindboggling…and I felt disappointed as well knowing I’d have to glamour her. More so because then she would have no recollection of me.
She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but it was mostly just her upper half that was drenched in Malcolm’s blood. I didn’t really care about getting blood on my seats, but I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her. I was used to women fawning at my feet, begging for any amount of attention I might give them – a byproduct of having spent so much time on my throne at the bar I supposed – and yet the little blond in front of me hadn’t shown the slightest interest except for her polite gratitude. She had mentioned calling her brother, not a husband or boyfriend, so I didn’t think she was attached to another male. So I performed my own narcissistic experiment, that would have Pam rolling her eyes, by removing my own t-shirt at vampire speed and leaving myself bare from the waist up. Holding it out for her, I said, “You can change into this.”
My chest inflated right along with my ego seeing the fleeting look of lust in her eyes, but she blushed just as quickly before averting them and stuttering, “Oh…um…that’s um…you don’t have to…uh…I uh…the blood will just seep through and then we’ll…uh…both have ruined shirts?”
“Not if you remove yours first,” I smiled.
My grin only widened seeing her indignant eyes dart right back to my amused ones as she said, “I’m grateful for your help, but I’m a lady and won’t tolerate that kind of…of…suggestion.”
Yes, it will be a shame to glamour her.
The thought of seeing her in my shirt overrode any annoyance I might have felt otherwise. Not only did I want to see her draped in my clothes, but for some inexplicable reason I wanted to cover her in my scent, after having witnessed Malcolm defile her with his own. Considering she was covered in his blood it was a moot point, but the pretense alone would ease my need to track down Diane and Liam and torture them until dawn for even thinking of harming someone as pure as she. So I smiled once more and turned away from her saying, “I promise I won’t look. Unless of course, you’d like me to?”
My head turned back just in time to see her eyes widen like saucers as she took in the broad expanse of my bare back, but she quickly rearranged her expression into annoyance as she replied, “Are you sure your name is Eric and not Tom? Quit peeping and turn back around Mr. Looky Loo.”
She emphasized her words by pointing her finger at me and twirling it in the air, indicating I should turn around, but even as I did as she bade I couldn’t hold back the barking laughter that escaped my throat at her antics. Nor could I hold back from saying, “You’re the one ogling me from behind. Or, perhaps, it is my behind you’re ogling?”
I wiggled my hips suggestively and she swallowed hard enough for me to hear it, only making my ego – among other things – inflate even more. But she let out an outraged huff, as I heard her peel the shirt from her body and quickly cover it with my own. Her stomping steps rang out loud a moment later as she plodded to her car, with me following along behind her. She took out a plastic shopping bag and her purse before turning to face me once more – not letting her eyes stray anywhere from my own – and saying as nicely as she could muster, “I’m ready whenever you are.”
Yes, seeing her in my shirt was doing all sorts of things for my ego and my dick, but I doubted she was ready for the things I wanted to do to her. So in keeping with the gentlemanly theme I seemed to have adopted in her presence, I led her to my car and opened the door. Once she was seated, I shut it behind her and moved at a human pace to the other side, while trying to will my hard-on away. It was another moot point because now that she was trapped within the small confines of my corvette, her scent was concentrated to the point of making my fangs strain just as hard as my dick. All of me wanted inside of her. I had hoped to pass the drive in silence, now feeling like a newborn vampire struggling to control my urges, but she ruined that by asking, “Are you friends with Bill Compton?”
Her question brought to mind Pam’s earlier rant on Vampire Bill and I wondered if perhaps I’d misjudged her earlier hesitance to be around vampire. I’d attributed her growing ease around me because I had saved her, but Bill Compton wasn’t the mainstreaming type. However she hadn’t smelled of him – or any vampire – so I ignored her question in favor of asking one of my own. “Why do you ask?”
“Well, he’s the only vampire in Bon Temps, so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out who you’d be visiting.”
And I really didn’t want to glamour her.
I also didn’t want to give her my reasons for going to Bon Temps, so I deflected by saying, “Who says I’m going to visit a vampire?”
I saw her shrug out of my peripheral vision and her head turned towards me, with her eyes concentrated on my profile. A light bulb seemed to pop over her head just as she simultaneously blushed and said, “Oh! I thought you loo…uh…I mean…so you’re going to see Dawn.”
Dawn? I knew of no vampire named Dawn in the area and asked, “Dawn who? I thought you said Bill was the only vampire in town.”
“Dawn Green. She’s a human and works with me at Merlotte’s where we’re waitresses. She…uh…told me she…um…had a vampire friend?”
The name Dawn Green meant nothing to me, but by the way she was carefully choosing her words made me suspect her co-worker had been one of my former…meals. For yet another inexplicable reason – knowing she was nothing like the women who frequented my club – I found myself not wanting her to be turned off by the fact I sometimes used them for blood and sex. So I deflected once more by admitting, “I’m going to see Bill.” If anything, my admission only seemed to make her tense up even more, so I asked, “Are you acquaintances?”
“I…” She paused for a long moment before continuing, “I’ve met him before. He’s my neighbor.”
She didn’t sound too pleased by that fact, prompting me to ask, “Do you not like him?”
It would only raise her even higher in my estimation of her, so I was amused when she hesitantly stuttered, “I…uh…I um…yeah, no. I don’t like him. I’m sorry since he’s your friend and all.”
I laughed again, admitting, “Bill Compton is not my friend. He’s an underling. I am sheriff of this area and I’m going to see why he hasn’t bothered to check in with me, even though he’s been in my area for several weeks.”
“A month, at least,” she nodded. But before I could become irate, learning he’d been in my area for a full month, she asked, “So you’re like in charge of the vampires in this area? Is that why those other ones were afraid of you?”
“They’re leery of me because I am their sheriff. They fear me because I am much older and therefore much stronger than they are,” I explained while trying to get a rein on my anger not wanting to frighten her. But Compton would be paying the price later on for ruining my good mood.
Her surprising giggle did more for my mood than anything I could come up with and she chuckled, “Well, I’d ask how old you are, but I have a feeling that would be rude. So instead I’ll ask, shouldn’t you be wearing a uniform or a badge? You look more like a Chippendale’s Sheriff at the moment.”
“Why Miss Stackhouse,” I chuckled, “If you wanted me to strip for you, you only had to ask.” I ended with a smirk and all traces of the anger I’d felt moments earlier had all but disappeared.
“Oh you,” she blushed and actually smacked my leg. “Rude it is then. How old are you?”
I was questioning more and more my need to leave her unglamoured, but I set that aside and answered, “I am roughly a thousand years old.”
“Wow,” she gasped and then smiled. “So, I guess you can kick Bill’s butt pretty easily since he’s not even two hundred, huh?”
I felt my eyebrow rise up as I asked, “If you aren’t friends with Compton, then how is it you know his age?”
She snickered again, replying, “Well his headstone is in the cemetery that separates our houses. Again, it doesn’t take a genius to do the math.”
She was in danger of becoming an obsession for me. Or perhaps I was the one in danger, but I couldn’t be bothered to care at the moment and said, “You seem to have no issue with me – other than ogling me from behind – so I would hazard a guess that your issue with Compton has nothing to do with him being vampire. What has he done to earn your distaste?”
She remained silently thoughtful for a few minutes and gestured to the exit ramp for Bon Temps, only saying enough to give me directions to her house. The driveway had seen better days, as had the old farmhouse, but it was maintained as well as could be expected, considering she likely didn’t make much at her job as a waitress. I pulled up in the front of the house, regretting the inevitability of having to glamour her, so I put it off a final time by asking, “Well Miss Stackhouse?”
“He…” she began and then stopped. Her eyes searched mine before she took a deep breath and continued, “He creeps me out. He came into Merlotte’s about a month ago, where I waited on him, and ended up leaving with the Rattray’s who…aren’t good people. I was worried they might…try something, so I went out into the parking lot and found them next to the trees trying to drain him. I fought them off, but he was just…just…weird about it all? And rude. He asked if he could come by and see me again. Since my Gran is a Civil War history buff, I knew she’d get a kick out of meeting him, so that’s the only reason I agreed. Only she ended up falling and breaking her hip the next morning, so I was at the hospital with her for the next few days. When I came home I decided to run over to his house real quick to explain where I’d been, but he…had company. Those same three vampires from earlier were at his house and after I saw what they were doing through the window, I hightailed it home. Bill stopped by a little while later and he obviously wanted me to invite him into the house, but I refused. And he’s been coming around nearly every night since then. Is it true you all can hypnotize people? Because I think I can feel him trying and it doesn’t work on me.”
I closed my gaping mouth once I realized it was hanging open, finding myself even more fascinated by her. Not only did she put herself at risk by saving a strange vampire, she could feel his attempts to glamour her?
“What do you mean you could feel him trying?” I asked without answering her question.
Never in my millennia had I heard of a human being able to withstand the effect of glamour. And no matter how inept of a vampire he was, all vampire had the skill required to do it. Unlike other gifts such as flying, glamour came with fangs and no heartbeat. It was necessitated for survival, much like the instinct to take shelter from the sun.
“It feels like a pressure in my head,” she answered innocently, like she wasn’t a vampire marvel. Her eyes brightened a moment later as she offered, “You try it,” but then narrowed suspiciously when she added, “but no funny business mister.”
Unbidden laughter escaped my throat once more and I suddenly felt no remorse over glamouring her now that she was inviting me to do it. Locking my gaze with her own, my mind reeled with the endless possibilities. But instead of having her do anything she would likely slap me for if she had her wits about her, I pushed at her consciousness and asked, “Do you find me attractive?”
Given all of her blushing and stomping from earlier, I figured she’d never answer the question willingly had I posed it beforehand. But my own unease over her possible negative reply was eclipsed by surprise. Her focus never wavered as she snorted, “Well I have eyes, don’t I?”
Flummoxed, I pushed harder, ordering, “Put your hands up.”
My relief was short lived when she did so because she laughed again, saying, “Are we playing cops and robbers now? Or are you playing at being a Chippendale’s Sheriff? Because I don’t think I have any singles on me.”
I couldn’t do anything but stare at her completely dumbfounded. Nor did I realize she’d even exited the car until I saw her standing outside of the open door, saying, “Thank you again for saving me, for the ride home, for the shirt and for putting me at ease. I wish there was some way for me to repay the favor, but the least I can do is return your shirt. Where can I send it to you?”
I could think of plenty of ways for her to repay me and they all began with her taking off my shirt. But instead I just smiled and said, “You can bring it to me at my bar in Shreveport. Fangtasia.”
I definitely wanted to see her again, but her lips screwed up to the side and her eyes crinkled as she said, “I’m sorry. I don’t go out at night anymore thanks to your underling. If I hadn’t gotten lost, I would’ve been home before sunset and before my car decided to die on me.”
I felt my ire rise up once more over Compton, but only because he was bothering my new…distraction? If anything, I was grateful he was such an insubordinate ass because had I not been on my way to his home, I never would’ve met the curious young lady I now coveted.
“Compton will no longer be an issue,” I nearly growled. But seeing her eyes widen at my unspoken threat, I added, “But, if you prefer, I could always stop by tomorrow evening to pick it up.”
I gave not one single fuck about getting my shirt back, but I was more pleased than I cared to admit to when she smiled, saying, “Well then, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night. Goodnight Mr. Northman.”
“Goodnight Miss Stackhouse.”
While I watched her go inside I made a call to a local Were to have Sookie’s car repaired and returned to her by morning. I was still smiling idiotically as I drove to the ramshackle house next door, but my smile only grew when Compton opened the door. He had the same sickly pallor as Malcolm and his initial shock at seeing me quickly turned to dread. Thanks to the good mood Sookie had left me in, I no longer felt the need to kill him and decided to let Pam have all the fun. But I would be getting my answers over what he wanted from her regardless of who wielded the whip. He opened his mouth to say something, but I cut him off by striding in through the open door and saying jovially, “Bill! Let me guess…have you been dining with Malcolm recently?”