fireplace  with tapestry Diplomatic Pouch

The characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries belong to Miss Charlaine Harris. No infringement on my part is intended. The characters on True Blood belong to Mr. Alan Ball. No infringement on my part is intended.

I have no BETA, editor, or other such charming person. All mistakes are my own.

 This story is rated M.

The Diplomatic Pouch       Chapter 9—Day  7

 

“Can,” Sookie stuttered. “Can I please not have the water poundin’ down on me? Reminds me of the rain. How about a bath instead? Please? And, would you turn off the lights.”

“Yes, of course,” he hugged her and then pushed down the stopper and started the water.

When the tub was half filled, he turned off the bathroom light, sat down on the toilet and started to undress her.

Her hands came up in a futile attempt to undo the buttons, herself.

“Do not,” was all he said as the wet clothes came off, then the undies. Wrapping her up in a towel, he placed her hands at the top, to hold it together.

Tucking his towel more securely, he picked her up and stepped into the tub. When he sat down, he sifted her on top of his body and the water came up to her chin as he held her and she shook.

“The adrenalin needs to work its way out. Breathe,” he said to her. “Pull in,” he breathed with her, “then push out. In,” he heard the nasal sound of the air, “then out through your mouth.

Is the water warm enough, too warm?” he asked.

“It’s okay,” she managed, her teeth still chattering.

“Lean back and relax. I have you,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her.

Leaning past her, Eric set the water on a slow, very warm drip as the water drained out as the tub became too full.

“Water is dripping at a fast rate,” she giggled then she was laughing. Hoots and gaffs of it! Oh-h-h-h, there was the hysterical note and her jabbering away a mile a minute, recreating the scene of where she was under the bed and could not see what was going on.

Halfway thorough a word and she was sobbing. Good, the reality was setting in as she cried.

“The first time that you know someone is trying to actively kill you,” he said quietly, with his head resting on top of hers, “is a life defining moment. And for the rest of your days, you will remember that moment.”

“But I don’t want too,” she whispered.

“But you must,” he replied. “You cannot let it own you. Pull it to the surface and take a good long hard look at it. And then tell yourself that you survived. That you were not another notch on his gun.”

“A part of me knows that…then there is the part…” she started to shake, again. “I knew he was going to come after me. But the reality is…” she paused, “I was hiding under the bed and I put your life in danger with my mouth.”

Eric chuckled. “My life is never in danger around a Were. Not even a pack of Weres. I told you I am much stronger, faster and sneakier. Besides, what you said was priceless. I am going to have to use those lines. I will credit you, of course.”

There was something of a snort from her. Good, she could see the humor.

“Thank you for saving my life,” her voice was still weepy but very serious. Turning her head to him she whispered, “I would be dead if you had not been here.”

“It was my pleasure,” he said.

“No,” sitting up she turned and faced him. “I mean that. If you had not rammed me in Baton Rouge and we were not joined, I would be dead. This has been in the works for a while. I was lucky and very blessed the day you hit me. I was so angry,” she started crying. “I wanted to yank you out of the car and…and…beat you with my fists. Then when I found out you were a vampire, I thought a stake through your heart would cure-all my woes. Turns out, you are my guardian angel,” she was now softly weeping.

“I have never been called an angel, before,” he massaged her shoulders. “The devil, but never an angel. I like that. I am going to add that to my business card. Eric Northman: Angelic Negotiator: Problem solver to clients on Earth, Heaven and Hell.”

Laughing a bit she got out, “That is not what I said. And…and thank you for being an adult while I was not.”

“Apology excepted. Now, are you going to stop calling me names and pinching me?” he asked.

“No,” she responded. “Of course not. Your ego goes to the moon and beyond. A three hundred-dollar an hour therapist would not have the know-how to reel you in. They are way to kind.

But not me. Nope, I threaten Were killers and ego driven vampire negotiators that I am supposed to recognize on a dark night. You need me to, you know, keep you from getting decapitated by the space station.”

“Well then,” he chuckled, “I think we have been in the tub long enough. Let’s dry off, put on some comfy jammies, build a fire, get out the Gator’s Finest, watch TV and wait for the police to show up.”

Eric stood up and set her down on the bath mat. “Grab some towels and dry off. I’ll be right out.”

“Okay,” she said. “And thanks.”

He could hear her as she went about her business. Towel drying and hair being rubbed.

It was nice to have a few moments of privacy. Normally when he did his killing, he did not have an audience. While drying off, King Eric was unusually quiet.

“What’s up, old man,” Eric asked.

“We saved her life. Are we responsible for her now?”

“Do not,” was all Eric said. “Just do not. That thought it is not allowed to enter my mind.”

There was a knock on the door. “You can come on out whenever. I’m sitting on the bed with my eyes closed.”

“Yes,” Eric grinned, somewhat manically. “Of course we are responsible for her. The one that is sitting on the bed with her eyes, closed. Of course we are responsible for her!” he hissed. “Not the long-legged one that wants to fuck my brains out! Oh no! Not her! But this one that looks like a china doll that should be sitting prettily on a shelf but if you suggest that she will blow your brains out with her shotgun!”

King Eric was assessing the situation. It was not looking good. His go to guy was about to lose it. He could tell, the time in the tub had been the defining moment. Miss Sookie may not be his type, but she was something and she was making Eric nuts! And this was just not about the lack of sex. Fuck, they had gone for years without sex. Hell, maybe having someone to talk this out with might help. “Hey Eric, do you think we need to see a therapist?”

“We have no need for a therapist, my friend. We have Miss Stackhouse,” he said with the wisdom of the ages and bowing at the waist.

Taking a deep breath, Eric walked out and got dressed while Sookie sat on the bed with her eyes closed.

“Dressed,” he said as he pulled on his Notre Dame hoodie.

“A great big fire,” Sookie said standing up. “And some blankets and pillows,” she said as she started pulling things off the bed.

“You want the eiderdown?” he asked.

“The what?”

“The comforter filled with feathers.”

“Yes, please,” she nodded.

“I’ll grab the weapons as well. Let’s head that way.”

“Okay, I am gonna’ stretch out on the couch. You headed for your favorite chair?”

“I think so, but…” he stopped and picked up the bottle off the coffee table as she arranged the pillows. “That fucking Were finished my bottle. I need a new one out of the kitchen.

Anything else?” he asked as he got down the tequila.

“Just pour me a glass of that,” she said. “A big glass.”

“Alright,” he may have smirked. “Are we talking…”

“Stop your laughin’ at me and take down a jelly glass. Pour it half full ‘cause I am the glass is half full kinda person.”

“Is that so?” he laughed. “You are going to  be  the drunk and passed out kinda person if you drink all that.”

“We’ll see,” she held up her index finger and twirled it.

“So what are we watching tonight?  I have to tell you I am all enamored of just turning that idiot box on and there is a movie for me to watch. Are there any of those go fast car movies?”

“Really,” Eric snorted, “you like Vin Diesel?”

“No, I like cars that go fast,” she replied. “And if there is a plot, so much the better.”

“I am not saying it is the best plot out there,” Eric responded as he turned on the TV to the directory. “But there is plenty of action.”

“Yes,” she nodded as she took a sip. “Man,” she licked her lips, “that is really smooth. Like drinkin’ spring water.

And I like a lot of action,” her attention was once more back on the TV.

Eric said nothing as he found the channel. King Eric was silently chuckling. “Oh yes, she likes plenty of action…just the fast car and not the fast guy type.”

Eric very nonchalantly finger thumped King Eric. “Ouch and the truth hurts, you big oaf!”

Sookie looked over at them. “What?” she asked. “Was that King Eric?”

“Oh yes,” Eric nodded. “Cannot be repeated in polite company.”

“What the fuck, you lying bast…”

There was a great and resounding whack and a moan. “See, not for polite company.

Movie time,” he said with a smile. “Here we go!”

 

When the movie ended, Sookie emptied her glass and refilled it. “Why did that Were call me a Hunter?”

“Because you told him you were a serial killer and you had never hunted Were, before. So he assumed you were a Hunter. Which is a very small, petite female that Berlin hires to dispose of those not wanted.”

“Really?” she eyed him.

“Really. The have super ninja skills and can kick anyone’s ass but mine.”

Sookie raised an eyebrow. “You have a personal encounter?”

“Indeed I did. She saw me on the street, came up to me and put her arm through mine and said, ‘Eric Northman, I am here to bring you the…’ then I killed her.”

“You did not…just like that?” Sookie said snapping her fingers. “What if she was there to bring you the million dollars you had won? Or a night out at The Roxy? Or maybe you won a trip on a cruise?”  There was a shocked look on her face. “I would have at least waited to see if maybe I had won a cruise.”

“Miss Stackhouse,” he chuckled, “you are adorable when you have been drinking. May I remind you, you have death to all who trespass here posted all over your land. You shoot vampires from afar. Wanted to blow the brains out of a Were.

That aside, if a woman comes up to me and puts her arm though mine, I figure she is going for the gut wound. Be it with knife, bullet or stake. And I am not going to be polite and let them finish their hellos’.

And I really set a precedent with her. Berlin had lied about who I was and just what my skill set happened to be. If that Hunter would have known, she would have tried to kill me first and not made polite conversation.

Their guild does not take kindly to Berlin lying to them about the manner of prey they are hunting. They have not sent another one after me since. I am considered armed and extremely dangerous. I understand they have a photo of me on their Face Book page. I get about a thousand likes a day.

See,” he smiled, “just another fine example that everyone knows me.”

Sookie rolled her eyes. “Top of my glass. I need something to cover the smell of your bullshit.  A thousand likes a day,” she hooted.

“Oh yes,” he nodded sagely. “It is a photo of me in a tux. Every hair perfect. My blue eyes honest and true. My lips slightly moist and oh so kissable. Someone even posted my phone number beneath it.”

“Head shot, numbers…” she ticked them off on her fingers, “sounds like a mug shot to me.

But still, I am glad you got her first…” and she started to shake, again as the tears rolled down her face.

Sitting down next to her, he pulled her into his lap. “Sleep,” he whispered to her. “Lay your head in my lap and sleep,” he said adjusting the pillows then her. Pulling up her covers, he stroked her head as she continued to sob until she had nothing left and went to sleep.

Turning off the TV he sat in the dark and solemnly stroked her head. She would occasionally shudder in her sleep or cry out.

“Sh-h-h-h-h…rest,” he would whisper as his hand was a slow and steady rhythm as he listened to the beating of her heart.

A lot had happened to him since she came into his life. Was this a blessing or a curse? Fate or destiny? She called him her guardian angel. He could not remember the last time he had been so touched by anyone’s words.

How could he possible consider carrying her in his diplomatic pouch to Berlin? How could even consider taking her to Berlin at all?

He could not, his rational mind told him. But he was not rational about most things. He was a Viking. If you wronged him, he would hunt you to the ends of the earth. There were several who had met the true death who, if still living, could testify to that. There was no place you were safe if you had wronged him.

Samuel had told him that his berserker rage was so great, he had to discover a new world so he could unleash his madness and mayhem there. “Damn, I miss Samuel,” he sighed. “He would know what to make of this. Fill me with his words of wisdom.

I could use,” he said looking heavenward, “some words of wisdom.”

Sookie shifted and turned her face up to his. “Thank you, I have never been this physically close to someone. It is nice not to be lonely.”

“Go back to sleep,” he stroked her head and smiled. Her breathing told him when she was once more at rest. “Be careful what you wish for…” Samuel always told him. Lonely. She had named it. With her, he was not lonely.

And he pondered that thought like he had no other.

When it came down to it…his maker or her…into the diplomatic pouch she would go. Berlin would not spare her life and when it came time for him to stand with his fellow warriors at the gates of Valhalla, he would be denied entrance. And for all of eternity he would be lonely.

“Hey,” her hand reached out and stroked his face. “What’s going on?”

“I would have to do what I could to save Godric.”

“I know,” she nodded. “I would expect no less of you.”

“I am going to get you killed,” he replied.

“I know,” she smiled at him. “But you know what, I would consider it an honor and a privilege to stand with you at the end.”

“You do not understand,” the tears slipped down his face. “I sent my child into hiding. A fiercer vampire has never walked the earth. I have told all my vampire friends to stay away from me and not to make contact. They would perhaps stand a chance against what sits in Berlin. You would not.”

“An honor and a privilege,” she smiled at him and patted his cheek. “I can count on one hand people who have any type of regard for me. Who would actually miss me if I was gone. I am twenty-seven and that is the best I can do. Five.” She held up her hand and wiggled her fingers around.

“There would be six,” he said as he took her hand and kissed it.

“You need to eat,” she said sitting up and climbing onto his lap she put her arm around his neck so that when he turned his head, her wrist was right there.

“Don’t give me any sass,” her face was set. “Then, I need to sleep. I have to work tonight. The Historical Society is having their monthly dinner at Sam’s.”

“Did you not hear me?” he asked. “I said I would not sacrifice my friends but I am willing to sacrifice you.”

“Then I need a will and a think-about who I am going to leave my legacy, too,” she said pushing her wrist forward. “’Cause it sure as hell is not Jason. You know a good lawyer? Or if you will pay for a bad one, we’ll call it even.”

“Your life for a lawyer?” he arched an eyebrow at her.

“Well, I am not dead yet and if I can get a free will, then I am to the good.”

“Is money always the bottom line with you Miss Stackhouse?”

“When you don’t have any, as a rule, it is. How much does it cost? Where can I get that for cheaper? I need a lawyer and now someone to fix my drywall.”

“You settle for too little,” he said.

“No,” she shook her head. “I settle for what needs to be done at the moment. Tomorrow is not mine to spend. I will prepare for it, but that is the best I can do.”

“For one so small and feisty…”

“Don’t forget mouthy,” she chimed in.

“Oh, I was coming to that,” he stressed. “And mouthy.”

Sookie nodded, “That’s better. I am the fearsome threesome.”

“Yes you are,” he chuckled. “Miss Stackhouse, you are a remarkable woman.”

“Well I thank you for that compliment. Still wish you were on that mini-vacation to the North Pole?”

“Oh yes,” he nodded, “most assuredly…ouch…!”

“You better squeal like it hurt or I will pinch you again. Now eat, I’m starting to get sleepy.”

Laughing he said, “You know that really does not hurt me.”

“I know,” she replied. “That’s why I always remind you to make a noise.”

“I am just going to sniff your skin for a few moments,” as he brought her wrist to his face.

“That’s fine,” she answered. “Whatever makes your meal the tastiest.”

Tastiest…and he felt his body lurch. He paused for only a second as he ran his nose up and down her wrist. He had the visual of how he would take her…against a wall with her legs wrapped around him as they both pushed into each other. Her urging him on until the strain on both was so powerful she tore into his flesh with her teeth! After she had screamed his name, her mouth bloodied, he would flip her onto the floor and have her sitting on his face…that had potential…!

That fantasy sustained him while he made love to her wrist. His fingertips barely touching her skin; his tongue whispering to her blood what his body longed to do. When he finally bit, she was perfectly still. When he closed the wounds on her wrist, she still had not moved.

“Sookie,” he whispered her name.

“Yes,” she murmured back.

“I did not mean for it to be that intimate.”

“I know,” she nodded her head as she lay down on the couch with her head now at the opposite end from him. “You were with that long-legged luscious…” she sighed as she closed her eyes and went to sleep.

He felt like if he could destroy something, he would feel better. But his was her home, she had a brother who was doing an a-one-fucktastic job of doing that for her. If only he could pace or fly or…

…but the hemp required you to be in the same close proximity. What effected you also effected your partner. Somehow, he did not think Sookie would want to go at super-sonic speeds around the earth’s equator while he screamed at the top of his lungs.

So instead, he was counting the raindrops as they hit the tin on the chimney. When his phone chimed, there was a text message from Samuel.

Headlines around the world starting nowUtility Fuels Owned by Berlin Supernatural.

Eric: Can I get into the Texas Hazmat Zone with my press credentials?

Wait one…

I can get you close, but not to the housing site.

Eric: I will need one for Sookie Stackhouse, as well.

Real name?

Eric: Yes.

WTF Eric?

Eric: Either yes or no. We are a package deal.

Yes. Give me twenty-four hours.

At around four, the rain stopped. At around five, there were sirens and flashing lights.

Sookie woke up and rubbed her eyes. “It’s still dark, but not the dark of midnight. What time is it?”

“It is five. Roads must be clear. We have company.”

Sookie and Eric moved the piano and slowly opened the door as Sheriff Andy climbed up onto the porch.

“Damn,”’ he sighed when he saw the door. “You think Mr. Bailey can fix that?”

“I hope so,” Sookie sighed. “That man just needs to live out here. I now have a list growing longer every day. E.E. grab a flashlight off the coffee table, just in case we lose power, again. This way Sheriff. We just left it the way it was.”

“Aw-w-w-w, Sookie,” Andy turned on his flashlight. “Dog gone it,” he said looking into the hole in the bedroom wall. “That fucking brother of yours…”

“What?” she said, with heat in her words.

“Several nights ago, in Merlotte’s, he was running his mouth about this and that and how your gran had important things, things worth money, like a couple of gold bars from the war, walled up in her bedroom.”

“What!” The heat was gone. There was now rage!

“It was probably Jason who broke in. He wants a new truck. The whole town knows that. A dealer in Shreveport let him test-drive a new Ram for a couple of days. Jason wants it bad,” he said, giving her a very sad face.

“So E.E. and I have sat out here all night long, with our loaded weapons, jumpin’ at every little sound, because my asshole brother wants a new truck?”

“Somethin’ like that,” Andy nodded.

“So, you think every time he gets drunk and a notion for an easy dollar, he is gonna’ come back out here and cut another section out of my wall?”

“Probably,” he replied.

“Sheriff, if I find him in my home, with or without his skank on his arm, I am shootin’ him.”

“Oh gawd,” Andy closed his eyes and crossed himself. “He really is fuckin’ Lydia.”

“He really is,” she replied.

“Sh-h-hit! Well if you don’t kill him, Gilly will. I was in the Quickie Mart and Gilly was buyin’ bullets. I hope he wants them because deer season is opening and does not want them to put in your brother.”

“That would be your paper work, Sheriff, not mine. I just plan on leaving his body in the parish morgue. The county can bury his ass in a pauper’s grave.”

“Shit,” Andy mumbled. “That dumb-ass.

Anythin’ else I can do for you,” he asked?”

“I need a new door. You know anyone who builds doors? I am gonna’ ask Mr. Bailey if he does.”

“Not a standard door?” Andy said, eyeing the broken pieces.

“Nope. Sheriff we have been in this house since 1845. No one went to Home Depot for building supplies. Someone in the family built it to fit. I no longer have those skills. E. E. you have those skills?”

“Well, I have built a sail boat. I needed to write about it so I took a class and built one. Actually sailed it.”

“Oh,” Sookie took a step back. “I have a whole new respect for you.”

“Miss Stackhouse,” he bowed from the waist. “I am a successful author. Folks with the technical expertise know if you have actually done something or merely read about it when you write about it.”

“I’ll leave you two to it,” Andy nodded and stepped out the door.

“You really build a boat?” Sookie asked as they stepped back inside and inspected the damage.

“Viking,” he pointed to himself. “And a Boatwright. Those dragon boats did not build themselves. And if you wanted to sail in one, you had best know how to do the repairs.

We’ll ask Mr. Bailey. See if he can recommend anyone. And if he sends someone out, I will from time to time inspect his work. Fucking Were damaged your frame without breaking the glass in the door,” he was running his hand along the wood. “Not to mention, tearing out where the lock was anchored in the wood. This guy knew what he was about.”

“Door can’t be salvaged and repaired?” she asked, hope in her voice.

“No,” Eric replied inspecting the lock. “And if the person who shows up suggests that, his ass is fired before he even begins.”

“Got it,” she nodded. “I need a new everything.”

“Now, let me explain to you what I have been about since you have been asleep. News feeds around the world are carrying the headline that Berlin owns Utility Fuels. They are desperately trying to do damage control and the press is having a field day. So I seriously doubt anyone will be this way to talk to you. This is a much bigger something.

With all likelihood, we will be going to Texas. We shall get as close as we can to the site. I am looking for a whiff of anything.”

“Okay,” she nodded. “I have never been to Texas. Always wanted to go. You whiff and I’ll look around as we pass by and I will think on it as my grand adventure.”

“And you called me odd,” he chuckled.

“Well,” she shrugged, “You are payin’, right?”

“Of course. What you are saving me in blood meals, we can fly first class.”

Sookie hesitated. “Are you serious?”

“Yes,” he nodded. “Very much so.”

“Just how much does a meal-human make?” she asked.

“Why?” What had just happened to his voice?  “Keep it together, Northman. She is just curious.” But then the possessive vampire kicked in.  “Are you interested?”

“No,” she shook her head. “Just curious. I mean, are there different rates?”

“Of course,” he responded very business like. “At the gas station before Shreveport, I pay three hundred. In a supernatural hotel, the cost can be up to a thousand.”

“And…and…does that include sex or just blood?”

“Just blood,” he responded.

“But they have to be pretty, apparently with long legs,” she added.

“Honestly,” he could feel it building up inside of him. That urge to scream MINE! “I never look at their face. I am busy checking out their veins.

And some have cleaner tasting blood then others. That is a bonus. With your blood, you could have a regular clientele. Feed one or two vamps once a week and earn a nice living. Your manager would take a cut of your pay, but, you could still clear 8,000 a month after taxes.” There, he said it. All of it. Well, he left out the sex. Just what the hell her blood must take like after sex! His fangs started to ache!

“Manager? You mean like a pimp?”

“Well,” Eric kept his business demeanor, “we do call them blood whores.”

“Oh,” was all she murmured.

And then his mouth would just not shut up. He was beginning to suspect Tongue was taking classes from King Eric. “Why, are you thinking about shifting careers, Miss Stackhouse?” he asked.

“Who me?” she chuckled. “Odds are good I am not gonna’ be alive by the time the two of us are finished. No need to have business cards printed up. That would be a waste of money.

Now, I’m awake, I’m tired, I am hungry. Let’s have some coffee and some breakfast and since my ass is up, I don’t feel bad about callin’ every one else I know. You know, those four or five,” she chuckled. “And you are already up, so you don’t count.”

“Already up is right,” King Eric moaned. “Damn, Eric, what the fuck, dude! Get ahold of yourself! As in, tell her we need some sweet alone time and take ahold of yourself!”

When Sookie turned around, Eric whacked King Eric. They started for the kitchen. Breakfast was what was needed, or so she said. Most good, they would have breakfast. Only, he did not feel like having breakfast. He felt like raising hell! Bashing in heads! Wading though blood!

Sookie made coffee and took out the bread. “Do you want toast?” she asked.

“No,” he shook his head. “Have you some type of nut?”

“Pecans,” she replied.

“Honey and maybe some pecans. With a spoon.” Good he was back on track. In control. That is who he was, Mr. Control. He was known for it. Made him the best fucking negotiator in the world!

Sookie turned to the cabinet and began taking things out and putting them on the counter. In went the water for coffee, out came the coffee and into the machine and on went the switch.

“Do you want a lot or a little?”

“Of what?” he asked. Oh shit! Did he just hiss at her?

“Well, the honey and pecans…and what is with the attitude? Whoa!” she said turning to face him. “What is with the fangs? And your body language is not happy. I have never seen you look like a scary assed pissed off vampire? What is going on?”

“Do not ever sell your blood to a vampire?” he bit out each word.

“Okay,” she replied.

“I mean it,” he took a step toward her. “Not ever. You will sell Compton’s land and it shall become an animal sanctuary. No one will ever be able to secure it and you will receive a monthly stipend.”

“Providing I survive…” her tone now just as serious as his.

“You are going to survive,” his face was down even with hers.

“When we see the lawyer I will mandate that you are to survive. There shall be no more talk of you not surviving.”

“Good one about the mandate. You had me going there for a minute,” Sookie smiled. “My legs are little shorty nubby things with no veins. No one would want me for their blood whore. And thank you for the mandate. I am claimin’ that.”

Squinting at her his fangs disappeared but he was still scowling.

“Did you know strawberries?” she asked.

“Yes, the small wild ones.”

“What about toast and strawberry jam?”

“I could perhaps try that,” he responded his eyes still watching her.

“Well all right then. That sounds good. I think I will have a piece along with my egg. Could I interest you in an egg?”

“I used to eat them cooked in the shell.”

“We call that hardboiled.”

“Yes, I would try one of those.”

“Do you want some blood?” she asked.

“No,” he shook his head. “I am sufficient for the time being.”

“Can you talk to me yet in something that is not short, clipped words?”

She was correct of course. He was very pissed off. At something that would not happen! And she still might die, he could mandate it all he wanted! Shout it to the angels in heaven and the demons in hell and all the fallen who sat at the table in Valhalla!

“Vampires are very possessive,” he said leaning against the counter. “This is the side society does not see of us. We live by the word Mine.

Humans come and go out of my life. They hold no special meaning. They are truly like the dried, dead leaves of autumn, pushed around by the wind before they crumble into the ground. They provide a service that makes my life easier. Books to read, textiles, automobiles, homes. If I have those things, they are mine. For a vampire, whatever comes into our possession we call mine. We often say mine with a growl and sharp claws and fangs if another vampire lingers too long admiring it or supernaturals and in some cases humans.

Vikings were not so different with the mine attitude.”

“Well humans are not either,” she said pouring herself a cup. “We just carry weapons and not claws and fangs. So what is going on here? Because I fed you, your mindset has changed about me?”

“Maybe…” he replied, his eyes still riveted on her.

“So, I am not to flirt with whoever comes to fix the door?”

“That would be correct. I am not proud of it nor do I have any right to tell you how to live. But for the sake of argument and to put us both on the same playing field, for this time and place, you are mine.”

Chuckling a bit when the toast popped up she spread it with jam. “Putting us both on the same playing field. So I get to call you mine.”

“No,” he shook his head. “No.”

“Why not?” she asked as she had some coffee. “You said we were both…”

“I know what I said and I now regret it. Because…” his answer stopped as he opened the bag of pecans.

“Oh come on, Mr. Negotiator, you with the endless logical words. Spin me some reasoning here and make me understand why I cannot call you mine.”

“Because vampires believe humans are inferior,” he mumbled with a mouthful of pecans.

“Because what?” she asked pulling his face down to hers. “You said what?”

“Because humans are inferior to vampire,” he said. “We are faster, stronger…”

“Do not add smarter to that list. Just because you have lived a long time does not mean you are capable of learning from your mistakes. And I can see that you have not.

You self-centered, arrogant bastard,” she hissed. “I was right about you from the very beginning. Just a fucking asshole! Doing whatever it takes to get your own way. Mine!” she said in a snarky voice.

“I knew you would not understand!” he countered as he opened the bottle of tequila. “Humans have not one fucking clue what goes with being vampire. We cannot and do not care for anything or anyone. If you do, it becomes your known weakness.

We fight to the death to defend what is ours. But we do not fight to the death over a human.”

“Wow…” she shook her head. “So after all the right amount of posturing and if they still did not back down, you would not fight another vampire to protect me. You would just what, hand me over? Turn around and walk off?”

Something new flashed across his face. This was not about him fighting another vampire over anything. The pieces fell into place.

Oh,” she nodded, “it’s more than that. If your maker wanted me, you would hand me over.”

His eyes snapped at her and his fangs were back down! “I would be honored to do so. I am so far beneath him that if he could for one moment even consider wanting something that belonged to me. Gladly I would give it to him.”

“You have got a lot going on inside that head of yours,” she took the eggs out of the fridge and put them on to boil. “You know, you left out the part that you are descended from dragons. That has got to add to this mix, as well.”

“Now you are laughing at me,” he growled.

“No, if I was,” she grinned, “you would know it. So what is the bottom line here, Northman? What is driving all of this?”

“I enjoy your company,” he said.

“I enjoy yours also,” she replied. “Now what else is so difficult for you to say that you will need to recite your Viking heritage…you know all those begots…before you can finally tell me what is on your mind?”

“I don’t know why I enjoy your company,” he responded, slowly enunciating each word. “And this bothers me.”

“So you just can’t like me because of me? I understand why you are not supposed to like me. I am an inferior human. I am a trouble magnet. My legs are too short.”

He smiled at her despite himself. “I do like the trouble magnet aspect of you. I always do enjoy a good brawl ending in death and destruction. So that is actually a plus for you.”

“Well okay then. I am glad we got that talked out. Because I am workin’ tonight and it is Drown Night at Sam’s and my no good brother will be there. At which point I am going to try to remove his head with a tray.”

“Oh,” Eric picked up his plate and set it on the table. He then pulled out her chair as she sat down with her breakfast.”

“Do tell, what is Drown Night?”

“You check in at the door, give us twenty bucks and your cell phone and you get a wristband. We get their phone and money before they get a wristband because on Drown Night lots of folks do stuff they would not be proud for their momma to see on YouTube. Believe me, I witness it and I am not proud of them either. If you show up without a phone, you are not allowed in. That simple. Get drunk, get stupid, and bring your designated driver. Or maybe sleep wherever you fall.”

“Really? A DD?”

“Yes, Sam bought about a million of those little cheap metal lapel pins with DD printed on them. The DD gets one to prominently display and can have all the sodas they want and a free burger and fries. The DD’s also has to blow in a breathalyzer when they pick up their phone at the end of the evening. It they register alcohol, they are charged twenty bucks and for the burger and fries and his riders sleep on the floor.”

“That sounds like a lot of effort.”

“Sam makes a lot of money. We are talking cheap beer. Seriously, it cost more to refrigerate the keg. So they eat and they maybe get tired of cheap beer and order their favorite so we charge them for that. We have a fry cook, Jimmy, worth his weight in golden French fries because he can keep up with this crowd. Sam tips him for just showing up because it gets wild and crazy.”

“And how are we working this tonight?”

“I will be pullin’ beers behind the bar. You can just sit at a bar stool.”

“You won’t be working the floor?”

“No,” Sookie shook her head. “Some of the guys think because I am so small I am so very cute and get real fresh. I have walloped more than one with my tray. Now I work behind the bar on Drown Night. Sam says it is just safer that way.”

Eric added a bit more jam to his toast to cover the rage that just burned through him! So the shifter liked her as well. Would be for the best to steer clear of that discussion. And he would have to watch himself in the bar from now on. E. E. only worked if everyone thought he was gay.

“Are we still goinin’ to Texas,” she asked.

“Have not heard back. And if so, it will be a quick in and out. We will be going with press credentials. That will only get us so far.”

“Okay,” was all she said as she got up and poured herself another cup of coffee. “You want anything else?”

“No,” he shook his head, his eyes on her, King Eric screaming “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

“Do you think Berlin is gonna’ miss the Were? I mean, are they gonna’ be sending someone else here to try to kill me?”

“No, he thought you were a Hunter and that Berlin had placed you here to test him.

Berlin just wanted your land and he failed at procuring it without drawing attention to Utility Fuels. Berlin thinks that because of his gross failure, he has slunk off somewhere to keep from being killed. Because they now want to kill him.”

“Oh, so it is somewhat life as usual.”

“Up to a point. We will always walk on the side of safety. After all, I am sure the good town folks are going to know that someone broke into your house. It is good for us that the Sheriff thinks it is your brother. But,” he stressed, “Jason will deny it so that still, in your mind, remains an unknown.

You have a landline. Might be time to get you home security. I will see who services your local area. Get sensors on your doors and all your windows.”

“And how exactly am I going to pay for that?” she asked.

“You are going to sell me Compton’s land. No one will be able to trace it back to me. You shall receive a stipend every month. This will cover the cost of your cable and security and other incidentals.”

Sookie shrugged. “That might work. A monthly income off my land deal. And Berlin will not be able to make the connection?”

Eric laughed, wholeheartedly. “No,” the smile covered his face. “I have much better contacts than what sits in Berlin. And this is one of the things that amaze me about them. I don’t think they are vampire or any type of human based supernatural. Because clearly, humans are not their forte. Nor are they important to them. What they dumped in Texas is killing humans. Hundreds of humans. No vampire would do that. That is a true waste of human resources.”

“So, do you think we should take Eddy? Have him set up shop?”

“That could be a little hard to explain. But actually a very good idea. I wonder if he could approach the priest that has been nurturing him along?

Oh,” Eric turned his head. “I believe Mr. Bailey is approaching. The burlap is coming off the drive and we can ask him about other things that need fixing.”

 

They oh-h-h-hed and aw-e-e-ed appropriately as the driveway was unveiled, Mr. Bailey just as pleased as he could be.

“And,” Sookie looked embarrassed, “do you know anyone who could build me a new front door? And some drywall repair?”

“What?” he said as a couple of his guys threw the last of the burlap into the back of his truck.

“I had a break in,” she sighed. “Let me show you.”

“Troy, Freddy, come with me,” he called out as they started walking towards the door.

“Troy is one of the best wood workin’ guys I know. He does it in his spare time. You know, makes things and they sell them at craft shows. Freddy grew up doing dry wall with his daddy. But when the housing boom left Shreveport, he came to work for me.”

They waited for them to approach. “Glad to see you fellas again,” she smiled. “Hope you can help me out because I have got work that needs to be done.

The Sheriff told me that my brother has been talkin’ up about how bad he wanted a new truck. Had to have one. Apparently he found some dumb-ass dealer in Shreveport who thought Jason was gonna’ buy a new truck. So they loaned him one because, you know, they were sure they had made a sale.

So after he did not run me off my land so he could sell it, apparently he still wanted a new truck. Well, he has one full of bullet holes. But he probably reported that stolen,” she rolled her eyes. “Now the Sheriff told me when Jason has been drinkin’ he has been sayin’ that our gran hide gold bars from the war in the walls. I am guessin’ he is referencing the Civil War? I don’t’ think he would believe me if I told him our gran was not that old. Apparently he kept insisting that they were his too and that he wanted them so he could buy a new truck.

So, you can see what he did to my door. And of course, he took down some drywall in my bedroom. So once that is repaired, it will have to be painted. It just never ends. E. E. has suggested that I need a security system. I am beginning to believe he is correct. So Mr. Bailey, if you can give me an estimate on my yard and then I will have you back that off to what I can afford because now I need a new door, drywall and paint. Oh, and an alarm system.”

All three men were quiet as they looked at the door.

“Not standard size,” Troy said. “Home made, you can see the adze marks on the panels.” He then began to inspect the door frame itself. “You have had some termite damage in the past,” he said pointing. “See, right here. That is how he was able to bust in the door so easily. If this wood were true, when he hit the doorknob with his foot, it would have broken his ankle. Lucky he did not miss and put his foot through the glass. You would have found him bled out when you returned home. Would you want the original glass back in it? That is old bubble glass. Hard to come by. There are still one or two places that make it but it costs dearly. And I know it’s a good lock, but with this kind of blunt force, I would not trust it to operate properly at a time when you need it the most.”

“Well, just fine,” Sookie said with anger in her voice. “Let’s take a look at the bedroom.”

The three men once more stood, not saying anything, and staring at the wall. “Freddy?” Mr. Bailey said.

“These are old horse-hair plaster walls. I can come close to simulating it because there are some amazing products on the market, but on close inspection, you are going to know. If you did some type of faux painting on the wall, that would help to disguise it, but honestly Miss Stackhouse, I can come close but it will not be perfect.”

“Well, we have no secrets here. You know I have twenty thousand dollars. I must have the house things fixed right away. The sod can wait. Mr. Bailey, if you guys will just level it back out, I’ll give you whatever is left. Just do what you can.”

“Any ideas on money?” she asked the other two.

“For the door repairs, about four thousand all total. I’ll make it out of oak. It will be just as sturdy as the old one with the seasoned wood. I’ll re-do your complete frame. Here again, with that kind of blunt force, your hinges took some of that shock. I would question everything about the door.”

Eric nodded his head.

“For the drywall, repair?” she asked.

“Around three hundred. Do you want me to paint as well?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “

It is going to be a couple of hundred for the paint and three hundred for me to paint. I will do a faux finish if that is what you want. That includes the ceiling.”

“So, around a thousand for the bedroom.  Jiminy Christmas,” she wheezed out then righted herself.

“Mr. Bailey, that is fifteen thousand to you. Do what you can.”

“Yes ma’am,” he nodded. “We will even it out and put back as much as we can to stop erosion. We will sod come March. Ma’am,” he nodded his head.

“Come on, we need to get to work.”

 

All three men went down the porch steps, headed for the trucks. “Fuck,” Freddy said. “Fucking relatives will put you in the poor house then steal your glasses so you can’t see.”

Troy snorted. “I know about that.

My wife, Brenda Lee, her daddy complained about chest pains early one morning so her momma called 911. So she calls us and we are there at the hospital waitin’ with her momma, prayin’ and cryin’ and askin’ God for a miracle.

Well, they run tests and after lunchtime, we find out it was not a heart attack but her dad has Angina. So they talk to him, give him brochures and send him on home.

When we all get him back to the house, her brother Gary, who her momma had called first, since he was the oldest and would want to be there in the worst way; he heard daddy had a heart-attack and daddy is in a bad way, come to the hospital, quick; instead the thief went to the house. He spent the day loading all the tools out of the garage into his garage. When we got there he was loading all the guns into the back of his truck and had hooked up the boat and was getting ready to drive off.

When Momma-in-Law pulled into the garage, Daddy-in-Law just about did have a heart attack! When they stepped in the house, all the antiques were gone. Seems his wife Ruby had been busy as well. But Daddy was dying and he wanted us to have these things, they were both boohooin’ when they were caught. Then they were cryin’ the same thing when they had to put it all back.”

“Oh shit,” the other two men said together.

“Seriously,” Troy replied. “Relatives.”

“Well,” Mr. Douglas was sadly shaking his head. “Let’s do the best we can for Miss Stackhouse. We’ll get her yard straightened out. Save as much grass as we can. After that, you fellas are free to go. Get her house back up and runnin’. That front door needs to be nailed with some plywood. She needs to get that security system installed, pronto!”

 

Sookie was listening to Eric on the phone. It was sounding like a go. “They are comin’ out today?” Sookie said as Eric hung up his phone.

“Yes, by this afternoon. Shield Official Security handles things locally. We will at least get the sensors on all the windows. The front door will wait, but I think we can now park around back and use that door. There will be one there. And a control panel.” His head turned to look at the front door. “Put up a couple of pieces of plywood inside and out and we’ve got a locked door.”

“You sound like you have done this before,” she regarded him.

“Once or twice,” he wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Now you might want to sleep. I have this until the security shows up. We shall walk with him and watch as he does all the windows.”

 

The morning slipped by. There were good productive sounds coming from the yard. Which was most excellent. Because there were not productive sounds coming from his brain. With his laptop lid open, he sat and watched her sleep.

“You are in a fucked-up way, here, Northman, and you know it. And she knows it and is maintaining. I am not maintaining. I have a thousand years of maintaining and yet, around Sookie, I am that boy again admiring Asta from afar.”

“You have it bad for her,” King Eric sighed.

“I cannot afford to,” came his reply. “That is guaranteed death for her.”

“She likes you as well,” King Eric said.

“Did you not hear me? Death walks that road with her.”

“You mean Godric,” King Eric replied. “That is why you like long-legged women. Because your maker is short he likes women shorter than himself. That would be her.”

“You prick,” he thumped King Eric with his finger.

“Ouch and yes I am, thank you for noticing. It has been a while I have been used in that capacity. Instead I am giving out a lot of advice to the lovelorn. I should write an advice column in the paper, or better yet, start my own blog. The Memoirs of King Eric: Tall Tellings and Truths.”

Eric rolled his eyes. “I need you here with me. How soon before Berlin starts calling for me do you think?”

“Soon,” King Eric nodded. “Texas is a fuck-up. They need someone to blame and you are the face of the supernaturals. It does not matter that you had nothing to do with negotiating the purchase of that land. You are the face everyone knows. And if you show up, they will have Godric and her. Unless of course, you disregard the call to come forth and continue on here.”

“I am not a coward.”

“I did not say you were. I think you are in over your head in regards to Miss Stackhouse. And she is such a lady, she is making this as easy for you as she possibly can.”

“I liked you better when you were just a penis,” Eric said.

“Yes, and I liked it better when I was the only dick-head on your body.”

“Oh, good one, and did you just call me a dick-head?”

“Give me a knife, you big oaf, so I can gut you and put you out of your misery.”

 

When Sookie woke it was to the sound of nails being pounded into the 2×6’s that held the two pieces of plywood together that had now become her new front door.

 

Eric looked up from his laptop. “Security guy is out scouting the outside of your house. Looking at phone lines and that sort of thing. He’ll be inside with the hardware in about ten more minutes.”

“Okay,” she said sitting up. “How long did I sleep?”

“About six hours,” he replied.

“That’s good because last night sucked.” Her eyes cut to him and she grinned. “Suck…vampire…get it…?”

Eric rolled his eyes. “I have never heard that one before.”

“Are we not having a good day?” she asked.

Making a face at her she rolled her eyes at him. “Well, we are both still here so I am counting that as a win. Now, I need to pee. Is the bedroom safe?”

“Yes,” he smiled. “And I think you will be pleasantly surprised.”

And she was…

“Wow, drywall looks good, but I see what he means. You can’t really reproduce that texture.”

“Correct, but he came close. Use the facilities then we shall walk about your yard.”

 

“Look past the mud,” Eric told her “and you can see where they have replaced as much of the grass as they could. With the next rain, it will settle the mud off the grass and it will look better. And the grass will continue to grow until your first freeze. And the weather is supposed to be mild all winter. With what money you have left over, you will be able to purchase sod.

Oh good, our security man. Let’s go inside.”

 

Everyone had left and Sookie continued to look around her home. “So I am now a fortress,” she remarked.

“Oh no, a firebomb through the window could end of all of this as well. But at least no one will be sneaking up on you while you sleep or while you are away. When you come home at night, you will know if someone has been in your house. Even if you lose power, the alarm system runs off a battery.”

“So, he will be here to paint, tomorrow and that will be my bedroom redo. Well, I had planned on paintin’, but this was not what I had in mind.”

“Are you sure you just want it done in white?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “It’s unnaturally dark in here. There are a lot of trees that shade this room. For which I am grateful. Keeps it cooler. However it is dark in here even on sunny days. The white should help with that.

I need somethin’ to eat. How are you doin’?”

“Are you offering?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “If you and all this electrical giz-wiz is what stands between me and anarchy, well big guy, I am standin’ with you. And my shotgun. And maybe Mr. Bailey. He seems to know all the right people to put my world back together.”

“I get it,” Eric replied. “I am on the roster of must haves…”

“Yes,” she smiled brightly. “Every one is gone. No one is lurking at my windows. You eat. Either here or in the kitchen.”

Inadvertently Eric’s eyes went to the bed.

“Kitchen,” he nodded and off they went.

He was this is just dinner with friends as he ate this time. He kept his mind to the task. Lick the wrist, bite, drink, heal, sit back and be satisfied vampire. Only he was not. Not satisfied at all.

“Wear the sports bra tonight,” he said looking up from his phone while she cleaned the kitchen.

“Sam hates those,” she replied. “And I get zero tips.”

“Wear the sports bra tonight,” he repeated. “Eventually someone is going to come around looking for the story about the single woman who lives out in the boonies that defeated big oil. Your hair in pigtails in front of your ears is not a bad idea either. Hides your ears from which you can also be recognized. Besides, you are working behind the bar, tonight. No one is going to be tipping you except me. And not for selling me the cheap beer.”

“I don’t think Sam carries the Gator’s Finest,” she said thoughtfully. “Or at least no one has ordered it.”

“Then I shall take my own. You can charge me a set up fee.”

“Got it… Sorry Sam, no tits for you tonight. And Jason, so good of you to stop by, as I whack him over the head with my tray and then try to kill him with it. By the way, this is the best seller dude, E. E. E., yadda yadda yadda, you of the cheap beer persuasion make some best seller noise and one of ya’ll dial 911.”

“I think that sums it up nicely,” he smiled. “So we are all agreed. No tits, death to Jason, write me a chapter and we shall be requiring police assistance or is that the ambulance?” he queried her in his best news reporter voice.

“Hearse,” she replied. “So come on. I’ve got to get dressed.”

 

 

It was a very small town and news traveled very fast. Especially when the work gang from Shreveport stopped at Merlotte’s for a burger and a beer before going home.

Sam was listening intently as the guys at the booth talked about their day.

“Arlene,” Sam stopped her. “You hear anythin’ about a break in at Sookie’s?’

“Hell yes, Sam,” she stared at him like he had grown a third head. “Where have you been? That is old news. Today she got a new alarm system. Apparently Jason walks in and what he cannot steal he cuts open her walls looking for Civil war gold bars. Because you know, Adele had them growing on a tree outback.

How can he possibly think that?” Arlene shook her head in disbelief. “Sookie works every shift she can and is always willin’ to cover. She even stepped in for Big Bubba one night on the burger grill.

That truck Jason has been braggin’ about,” she leaned in. “He did all kinds of damage to her yard with it. I mean, ruts in some places knee-deep. That’s what Mr. Bailey’s crew talked about the entire time they were in here. On Halloween, when Jason tried to drive through their just poured cement that is her new driveway, they filled that truck full of holes. So who knows, Jason may have reported it stolen to the car dealer after he parked it at the bottom of the swamp.”

“Oh shit, I had not heard that,” Sam rubbed the back of his neck. Stress. That was stress! Fucking Jason! “She was workin’ when she got the phone call to come home because of the ruckus.”

“Ruckus would be right,” she leaned in even closer.

“Because when he did not find the gold after diggin’ around in her yard, apparently he busted down her front door. Because it was built to fit the house, she is gonna have to have a new one made. And the door jamb and everything. About four thousand dollars worth.

Just a bullet in his head would be a whole lot cheaper,” she said in a whisper. “Because then he cut a hole in her drywall in her bedroom. Looking for the gold. I don’t care how much money that boy spends in here, we have got to start cuttin’ him off. And taking a good whiff of him when he first comes in to see just exactly what he has been smokin’ out in the parkin’ lot.”

Sam was about to spit nails! Yes, he saw a nice shifter lady in Shreveport, but he always thought maybe he and Sookie would go out for dinner. Not at this rate. She would always be workin’ to pay for Jason’s shit! “Okay, last big question. And you know I don’t hold with marriage breakin’ gossip. But is he fuckin’ Lydia Price?”

“Yes,” the redhead’s eyes got round. “I finally put that one together. She was in here with Gilly the other night making eyes at Jason when Gilly was not lookin. Before closin’, I caught them comin’ in through the back door. Apparently they only got as far as the porch because of the rain.

Sookie did not name names, but it was Jason and h-e-r on top of Sookie’s new bedspread. I tell you what, if he was my kin, I would have skinned them both alive right then. She saved her tip money for three months to buy that. Did not have it a week,” she said pointing her finger at Sam. “Now, I gotta get. Sookie just walked in and will start roundin’ up beer pitchers. Time to get ready for Drown Night.”

 

Eric could smell it throughout the club. This was going to be the sex chapter: It was standing room only at times. The crowd, like the oceans, shifted with the tide, leaving a briny layer with a salty smell. One that you could taste on your lips. There would be a surge and then a withdrawal. Or maybe it was like uncomplicated and solicited sex…the push against tight, wet skin, the pull back of the whisper wanting for more because it was your right…

Eric looked at Sookie and felt his fangs snick down. “What the fuck! Northman!” his mind screamed! “Get out of your head and back to the book!

Now,” Eric righted his jacket. “Where was I? Oh yes…” Sam did not allowing dancing in his bar. Apparently on Drown Night, topless was acceptable; bared breasts proudly wiggling in front of the crowd while coins were being tossed. Tweaking her own nipples while she gyrated her lower body before the willing lass could be pulled down and told to get dressed.

Damn!” he smiled. “All that and we just stepped in the door.”

 

Sitting at the bar Eric sipped his Gator’s Finest with his notebook open taking copious notes and writing parts of the book.

Sookie was right. Sam did not carry his favorite drink. But the shifter was more than happy to charge him a set up fee for bringing in his own beverage of choice. Which was fair. After all, those fuzzy shifter ears were never going to hear Sookie scream his name in passion.

With that thought, King Eric started laughing and slapping himself against Eric’s thigh. “And you think she is going to scream yours? Jealous much?” he heard hooted. Fortunately, with all the noise, what was one more hey-de-ho! Or whatever the fuck the locals said at times like these.

Sitting, he watched Sookie pull beers. And there was much to be said for the cheap stuff. It did bring them in. And when the DD got their free burger and fries, that smelled so good that everyone at the table had to have one as well as wait staff went flying past! And watching Big Bubba work the grill was pure magic.

But he knew why all these folks were here, tonight. Because Jason Stackhouse was going to eventually walk in the door and when he did…well Eric had 911 on speed dial.

 

“You need anythin’,” Sookie asked. There was a lull in the crowd and it was coming on midnight. Eric eyed his drink and then pushed his glass toward her with a twenty-dollar bill under it.

“I’ll pass it to Father Eddy,” she smiled at him. “He’s been out front hosing down vomit. Has been for the past twenty minutes. He will be turning off his hose and heading this way. I just squawked him. I need another keg.”

“You are a good person, Sookie Stackhouse, always taking care of the downtrodden and vomited upon.”

“Well, I do what I can with what I’ve got,” she smiled at him.

It had been a game with him all night. He was running an open tab for his drinks. But for her tip…he would push his glass back to her with a twenty-dollar bill under it. She would grin and hold it between two fingers and turn her head around to the kitchen staff and call out someone’s name. They would pop over, kiss her on the top of the head and pop back to work. A twenty-dollar bill was a very small nothing for the smile she would grace him with. She could pass out twenties all night if she would just keep that smile when she looked at him.

Eric smiled back at her and then began listening to the people outside. The noise was changing up. It sounded like the hero getting ready to take the podium. So, Jason had arrived.

He picked up his drink and set it on his leg wanting to give Sookie as much room as she was going to need when she came across the bar to do damage. This was going to be spectacular!

Since he was not getting up, there was no way Sookie was going to be able to make her way to the back of the bar to beat on her brother.

Eric was watching the crowd. Her dumb-ass brother had sat down at a table back by the pool tables. But Lydia was sitting at a booth with her husband and another couple and Sookie had them in eyesight. Which meant if Eric turned around, he could see them as well.

Why, it occurred to Eric that Miss Stackhouse just might have bribed the hostess to seat Skank & Company there. Such a naughty thing his Miss Sookie was. With a grin, he slipped her another twenty.

“For who?” she asked.

“For Little Hurly,” he grinned. “That basket of fries just about pulled him in.”

“Little Hurly,” she yelled behind her back and held up the twenty between two fingers.

“Thanks Miss Sookie,” the giant of a man swooped in, kissed the top of her head and swooped out.

“What’s up?” she asked.

“Jason came in. He’s in the back by the pool table.”

“Father Eddy,” she yelled over her shoulder.

“Yes Miss Sookie,” he appeared at her side.

“This is for you,” she put the twenty in his shirt pocket. “Sometime tonight there is gonna’ be blood. This is just payment in advance.”

“Thank you,” he kissed her on the top of the head. “The keg is switched out.”

Smiling at him, she turned her attention back to Eric. “Anyone in the kitchen we forget?”

“Little Darla and Baby Jane.”

“Oh-h-h-h, that’s right,” she tapped her head with two fingers. “They are washing dishes, tonight. Sam brings them in special on Drown Night.”

“That is because they are special,” Eric grinned as he slipped her two more twenties. “Little Darla and Baby Jane,” she shouted out over her shoulder. Word was passed and the two women appeared behind Sookie, gave her a kiss and they went back to the dish rack singing Amazing Grace.

Eric had all his senses up and running. Fine tuned, in fact, to the back of the room. From the cheering of the crowd, Jason must now be playing pool. Showing off and knowing Lydia could hear the chatter. But that kind of ego could not stay away from his ladylove for long. After all, Gilly was present. Jason wanted to be the focus of her attention. Not her husband. He wanted to be admired by her.

It was not much longer when Jason came through the crowd, a swagger to his step. Somehow, his t-shirt had been ripped and his jeans, well, oh my, the top button was undone.

Oh, Eric noted, this is what the crowd came for. Their King had arrived. Those in the immediate area started to quiet down and it spread across the room, like an earthquake getting ready to happen and all the birds quit chirping and small furry creatures took shelter with their noses peeking out.

“Hey,” Jason said as he stood to one side of Eric. “Sookie, I need a pitcher of beer.”

“Do you now?” she smiled politely.

No one was talking. As in, a vampire in his day slumber not talking. Eric cut his eyes to the booth. Lydia’s beer had stopped part way to her mouth.

The tic on her right eyebrow gave Lydia away. She knew that this had been a bad idea. It was going to start and panic had set in.

Eric knew a fake smile when he saw one. And most assuredly, if Miss Sookie had been vampire, this is where her fangs would have dropped and there would be some sparks in her eyes to go with that smile.

“Well yes,” Jason nodded. “See, I have my plastic bracelet on,” the only talking idiot in the room pointed to his wrist, “and that means I get a pitcher of beer. Whenever I want one. And hey, not you know, the generic kind. Sam is not lookin’. Get me the good stuff.”

All eyes went to Sam who was hustling food from the kitchen to the counter so the wait staff could pick it up who was perfectly capable of hearing every word Jason said. Sam cut his eyes to Jason and made a face while he shook his head.

“Get you the good stuff…” Sookie replied slowly. “But I thought you were having the good stuff.”

Eric was not going to laugh. Everyone turned to look at the booth. Lydia set her glass down and was shaking her head no.

Jason’s tone was one now full of self-righteousness. “Well, no not yet. But you know, just fill it. That’s your job,” he said stressing each word, “you dumb-ass bar maid,” he chuckled.

“But you were havin’ the good stuff the other day on the top of my bed, huh Lydia?” Sookie looked at her and there was no mistaking the anger in her eyes or in her voice.

B.i.n.g.o.go go go go Miss Sookie! Give the patrons what they came here for!

“What?” Jason stood up taller and leaned in, trying his best to intimidate her from across the bar.

“You heard me,” Sookie hissed. “You fucked that skank on top of my new bedspread and then you wiped your nasty self all over it. No tellin’ what foul diseases you left there. I had not had it for one week. Not one fuckin’ week! And there you are comin’ into my house,” she yelled at him. “My house with your whore!”

Jason stepped back. Shock on his face! “How can you say that about me? I am not diseased and Lydia is not a whore. She is married and Gilly is a really great guy. It is just not his fault that he has to compete with me.

And no offense, Gilly,” Jason turned to him, “but when you have had the best, you just want a taste more of it from time to time. Don’t blame Lydia. This is only natural. I have that effect on women. And you don’t have to worry about her havin’ my baby. She told me she is baby-proof now and no way that can happen. So don’t worry, she won’t be havin’ yours either.”

“You cannot make this shit up,” Eric said gleefully as he wrote it down.

“Now,” Sookie said climbing over the bar. Eric stood up and offered her his hand to help her be a little more graceful. Putting his hands around her waist, her placed her gracefully on the ground. “Give me your credit card. I want my three hundred dollars that you owe me for my bedspread.”

“What?” he made a face at her. “No way!”

Arlene was standing at the bar, needing more beers, now entranced  along with everyone else listening to the conversation.

“May I,” Sookie took the tray from Arlene. “Thank you,” she smiled politely and then turning, hit Jason broadside with it as hard as she could which sent him staggering back. Then she hit him again and sweeping her foot under his feet and he was on the ground. “Give me your fuckin’ credit card!” she hissed at him.

“No way, your crazy Sookie! The kids were right to call you that Crazy Sookie! I am gonna have you committed and then I can have your house! Just you wait, it is gonna’ be mine! Lydia has a buyer for it and I am gonna’ sell it while you rot in the crazy house where you belong!”

“Who in here has a gun?” she yelled. “I mean it. Get me a fuckin’ gun!”

Sam was behind the bar and slid one down to her. Others appeared as well and people walked forward and placed theirs next to Sam’s.

“Let me tell you about my house,” she said eyeing the selection she now had. Picking up Maxine’s Walther she checked the clip. Then she pointed the gun at Jason. “That new truck that was loaned to you that is now full of bullet holes. You think I don’t know that you drove that through my just compacted driveway. Then showed up the next night to drive across my fresh poured cement. I don’t know in the bottom of which bayou you left it, but your pretty boy ways don’t work on me. Remember, I am Crazy Sookie. Now you give me my three hundred dollars or I am gonna’s start by blowin’ your dick off. And that will be the last time you will ever get blown,” she said leaning down and placing the muzzle on his crotch.

“Fuck Sookie! Damn it! Don’t pull the trigger! It is in my back pocket!”

“Yes,” she kicked him, “along with a knife. You just pull it out nice and easy.”

“Here,” he said tossing it onto the floor.

Keeping the gun aimed on him, she tossed his wallet onto the bar. “Sam, run 300. You can take your percent and I want the rest.”

“Jason,” Sam growled. “Really. Get a hotel room. And don’t think you can take Sookie’s house. That is just not gonna’ happen.”

“Well,” Jason was not going to give up. “I know my rights. There is a law or somethin’ somewhere that says if she does not make improvements on it, well it comes to me as the oldest livin’ male. And I want it. Lydia says she has a buyer for it and everythin’, as is. And besides, who is Sookie to naysay me my rights. I can fuck whoever I want on that bed. My grandpa fucked his woman on that bed and maybe my daddy did as well. Lydia said it was my right to fuck a woman on that bed and she was happy it was her that I was expressin’ my authority as a Stackhouse male.”

You could hear “Wow!” being murmured throughout the room as some of the girls climbed up on the back of their guy for a better look at what had to be the dumbest person to walk the planet. Several of them saying as a testament to their sanity and self-respect, “Baby, I have never fucked Jason Stackhouse. That boy is bat shit crazy.

And Gilly is hard-working! Makes a nice living! And she is banging the minimum wage Stackhouse loser!”

And then there were other women who just stood there like deer in headlights! Who had, Sam noted, that not so fresh look on their face! And probably in their undies as well. Undoubtedly they had fucked Jason.

“Did you break down Sookie’s front door?” Sam asked him.

“I, I don’t think so. You mean tonight? No…maybe I did the other night. I had been drinkin’,” he said with a smile.

“I ever catch you in my house, I will shoot you,” she snarled at him. “And anyone you have with you…Lydia,” she turned her gaze on her. “And that goes for anyone else, Hoyt Fortenberry,” she found him in the crowd as well. “You come on my land with him to do damage, I will shot you also.”

“Damn straight she will,” Maxine called out. “Hoyt, I raised you to respect people’s property. You know better than to be tresspassin’ and followin’ the example of this fornicatin’ fuck-head. Or drivin’ that fuck-head around so he can do it without gettin’ his truck blasted full of holes.”

“Sookie,” Sam reached across the bar. “Here is your three-hundred. Jason,” he tossed the wallet back on the floor, “that is yours. Sookie,” Sam gave her a small smile, “please, take the rest of the night off. We have it covered.”

“Okay,” she said and turned just in time to see Gilly shove Lydia out of the booth. She hit the floor and he stood up.

“Your shit will be on the front lawn,” was all he said as he stepped over her and walking over to Jason, pulled him up on his feet and then his right hook to the jaw put him back down on the ground.

Eric closed his notebook and offering Sookie his arm smiled at the group. “I thank you for a wonderful evening. This shall be a chapter in my next best seller.” Bowing, he escorted Sookie out the door.