Tara rung in my purchase, then handed me back my new dress. “I hope you have a great time tonight.”
“Thanks.” I took the dress and started to walk towards the door, when it suddenly opened up and Bill Compton walked through.
I was surprised to see him. Although, it was now dark and he was Tara’s landlord, so I shouldn’t have been. I stared up at him, curiously, wondering if he was going to say anything to me or not.
“Hello, Sookie,” he greeted me in that cold, polite way of his. “How are you?”
“I’m good, and you?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve got to go. Eric is taking me out on a date tonight and I’ve got to get ready.” I explained, as if I had to explain everything to him.
“A date?” Bill repeated, as if he were slow or hard of hearing, which was far from the truth. He frowned. I could tell that he didn’t like hearing that Eric was making our relationship public. “I’ve never heard of Eric taking anyone out before…” he commented, almost to himself.
“Yeah, well…now he is,” I replied back, ready to leave the store and out of Bill’s sight. I didn’t like how Bill had to criticize every little thing that Eric said or did. Eric was his sheriff. He had to answer to him. I felt perturbed that Bill thought that he was better than Eric in any way, shape or form. I felt angry on Eric’s behalf and protective of him too. “Thanks Tara,” I called out behind me, as I walked out of the store and towards my car.
Don’t get me wrong…since I’d had Bill’s blood too, I still thought of him in a special way. He had been my first love, if you could call it that. Sent by Queen Sophie-Anne, to ensure that I would be useful to her and her kingdom, Bill had seduced me. I had fallen for it; hook, line and sinker. Maybe it had something to do with my inexperience with men? Maybe it was the fact that he was the first man that I had met, where I couldn’t read his thoughts? Maybe I had just been lonely and bored and he had helped fill the void? I don’t know…but now the sight of him, made me feel awkward and uncomfortable, but yet, I knew that he cared for me. It was really confusing.
He would tell me that he loved me, which would force me to look at him differently…but when he did it in front of Eric in order to prove who loved Sookie more, in a game-like competition…it was annoying. I could tell that all it did was make Eric mad at Bill. Eric was not the kind of man who minced words or said things that he didn’t mean. Didn’t Bill realize that? Did Bill say things that he actually meant?
I forced my mind back on my plans and expectations for my date. I wondered where Eric would take me and what we would do.
As I got closer to my house, the more excited I became. It wasn’t my excitement on it’s own. It was Eric’s too. He was happy and excited and full of plans.
“I’m home, just coming up the driveway now,” I told him in my mind.
“Good, I’ve missed you and after reading your note…I’m concerned about you,” he replied back in his.
“I’ll tell you as soon as I get there. Then, I’ll change into my new dress I bought, which reminds me…you should know that I put it on your account over at Tara’s Togs. I wanted to wear something nice…” I offered, in my way of explaining. I still felt guilty that I couldn’t afford decent things.
“Dear one, you don’t have to explain anything to me.” He replied. “I can’t wait to see you in it and then later on…take you out of it.”
I couldn’t help it, I laughed. Trust Eric to have a one-track mind. I rolled my eyes, then came to a stop in my driveway. I grabbed my new dress and climbed out of the car. I walked towards the door.
I realized that I had forgotten Eric’s Tru-Blood as soon as I had reached the door. I quickly dashed back to the car and picked it up out of the passenger seat, where I had placed it after I had bought it. I grabbed the movie rentals as well.
This time, Eric stood in the now open doorway, watching me as I walked towards the door. I smiled up at him. He was still in his t-shirt and jeans and looked just as sexy as ever.
“Hi,” I greeted him. I stood up on my tippy-toes and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I handed him the case of Tru-Blood. “Here, you better put this in the refrigerator,” I suggested.
“You know how sexy you look bent over to get the stuff out of the car?” he offered. “Nice ass-ets,” he winked down at me.
I laughed once again and rolled my eyes. “Well, this ass-et is glad that you’re awake. You’re just the kind of medicine that she needed.”
“What happened?” He asked, curiously. His wicked smile was now gone and he was full of concern. “What was the sad news?”
I walked into my bedroom. Eric quickly put the Tru Blood in the fridge then followed me in. “I found out that there was a car accident…not far from here.” I paused, trying to figure out how to best explain it. I couldn’t remember if I had ever told Eric about Hunter or not. “It’s a long story…”
“Go on, we have time,” Eric glanced at his watch, just to be sure. “We don’t have to be there for another hour or so.”
“Where are we going?” I asked, curiously.
“Nah-uh,” Eric shook his head. He was starting to sound a lot like me. His mannerisms and lingo were beginning to be the same too. “What happened?”
I sat down on my bed and he sat down next to me. I took his hand in mine and turned to look him in the eyes. “You remember Hadley?” I asked, already knowing that he would. He had met her after she had been turned. She had been in many of his meetings with the Queen, since she was her paramore and Eric was Sheriff of one of the Queen’s Areas.
He nodded his head, then patiently waited for me to explain.
“Well, before Sophie-Anne turned her, she had been married. She even had a baby. His name is Hunter. He’s about four years old,” I paused, as tears came to my eyes. Eric squeezed my hand, giving me courage to continue.
“Hunter has been living with his father since the day that he was born,” I explained. “Last night…” I paused once again, while my emotions gripped me. “Remy, his father, and his girlfriend, Kirsten were killed…in a car accident,” I cried out as my tears started to roll down my face.
Eric wrapped his arms around me and I cried into his shoulder. He comforted me, while I let out all of my anguished emotions. I pulled back, then gathered myself enough to continue. “They were killed by a drunk driver, they think. Since I’m one of the last next of kin, the police came here to tell me this terrible news.” I shuddered. “The officer told me that Hunter is now in foster care.” I began to cry again, at the thought of it.
“Shush,” Eric comforted me. “It’s going to be alright.”
“No, it’s not going to be alright,” I cried out. I lifted my head again from his shoulder. “You see, there’s more…lots more.”
“What?” Eric asked, curiously.
“You see…Hunter is special. He’s a…he’s a telepath, just like me,” I explained. “I met him briefly a number of weeks ago. That’s when I realized that he was telepathic. I suggested to Remy, his father, that he keep my name and number in case he needed help with Hunter when things got too difficult for him. Which they would’ve.” I took a deep breath. “But now…if he’s lost in the system…there’s no way that I can be there for him and there’s nothing that I can do to help him.” I started to cry again, at the helplessness that I felt.
“Sookie,” Eric said, softly. “I know that you feel helpless, but what can you do?” he asked. “What would you like for him?”
“What I would like…” I paused, trying to find the right words. I wondered how Eric was going to react to this part. “I would like for Hunter to live here…with me.”
I purposely kept my gaze away from his. Partly, because I didn’t want to see his reaction and partly, because I was scared.
Eric was silent. He kept his thoughts closed off from me. I wasn’t sure if I was grateful or not. All I could tell, was what he was feeling. I could feel his shock, fear, concern, and amazingly, his love. I dared to look up at him, to see what his face revealed.
“You want him to live here.” Eric repeated, his tone not giving away any of his feelings. “And how would you support him?”
“I don’t know,” I shrugged my shoulders. “I was just voicing what I wanted for him. I didn’t say that it was practical or that it was a great idea or anything. I just think that if he had family close by-someone who’s telepathic, like me-it would be better for him, than living with a foster family, that’s all.”
I was kind of put out, by Eric’s lack of feeling, but then again, I wasn’t. He didn’t particularly care for my brother, Jason either. There was a lot of things that I didn’t understand – reasons why Eric thought the way that he did. He had always looked out for himself, first. If you affected him directly, then he cared about you. That was the way he was and always had been since the day that I’d first met him. If you didn’t figure into his plans, then he pretty much left you alone.
“Sookie,” Eric sighed. “I know that you have a good, kind, and caring heart. It’s one of the things that I love most about you. You care about your family, even when they do you wrong. You try your best to protect them. But this…are you wanting a family of your own? Is that what you’re saying?” He looked puzzled. “Is this your way of saying that you are wanting children?”
“No!” I exclaimed, although I had thought about it a time or two. I had to admit. But I also knew how unrealistic the notion was. Especially because the man that I’d always pictured as the father, wasn’t able to give me any. Sometimes, loving a vampire had it’s drawbacks.
“And you can’t afford it. You keep refusing the money that I offer you. Raising a child these days is expensive. You have no idea what you would be in for. Have you ever looked after children in your life?”
“Yes, I have,” I argued back. “I’ve babysat Arlene’s kids.” I told him.
“But not full-time. You wouldn’t be able to return him if you couldn’t handle him. It would be a major responsibility for you.”
“I know that!” I shouted at him. I stood up and glared down at him. “Don’t you think that I’ve thought about it? I know that there’s probably no way that a family court would ward me custody, when I’m single woman and I work as a barmaid, anyways! I was just sayin’…that I thought about it after I heard about the accident. I didn’t say that I’d pursue it or do anything about it!”
Eric stared at me, silently and calmly, throughout my tirade. “Are you finished?” He asked, calmly.
“No!” I shouted back at him. “I know that you probably don’t want to have children either and that it would put a major kink in our love life, but that’s how I feel. I’m just telling you!” I was frustrated and had done enough explaining. “Now, if you wouldn’t mind, I’m going to shower, get ready and then we can go out on our date!” I shouted at him, as I grabbed my dress and disappeared into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me.
I don’t know how long I took, but when I came out of my bathroom, Eric was no longer in the room. I figured that he had gone into the spare bedroom, and was changing into his own clothes.
The shower had calmed down my temper. I knew that Eric was right. There was no reason why I should’ve shouted at him, when he did care about me and that he was only looking out for me. I had thought the same things too. I was just frustrated and felt helpless. I was losing another family member. One that I had something in common with; who was very also very young and helpless. My motherly instincts were kicking in. I was also sad that I wouldn’t be able to have children of my own, not if I were still with Eric, in a committed relationship.
I gazed at myself in the mirror by my dresser. I hoped that Eric liked what he saw. I walked out into the living room, where Eric stood, looking into the lit fireplace.
The house was cold. I appreciated his thoughtfulness.
He turned around when he sensed me standing there. His eyes travelled up and down my length, from head to toe. “Lover, you look beautiful,” he said, softly. “The dress I bought you looks amazing on you.” His eyes glinted and I could see the love he felt for me in them.
“Thanks,” I blushed. My heart raced, as I took him in too. He was dressed in a dark suit and tie. He looked very GQ. His hair was braided, like how he’d done it before. It briefly reminded me that he still hadn’t shown me how to braid it like that. “Where are you taking me?” I asked. I couldn’t imagine, because there weren’t many ritzy places in Bon Temps that we could go to, dressed up like we were.
“That’s a surprise,” he winked at me. “Come on, let’s go, we’re already running late.”
I took his arm and he led me out of the front door. I was surprised to see his red Corvette in my driveway. “When did you go home to get this?” I wondered.
“While you were getting ready.” Eric held the passenger door open for me. I sat down in the luxurious seat. He flew around to the driver’s side and turned towards me. “Bucket up.” He reached across me and grabbed my seatbelt and strapped me in.
It was a good thing that he had. He drove at a breakneck speed. I was surprised that we hadn’t been pulled over by the cops.
I realized that we were leaving Bon Temps and were driving towards Shreveport. I turned to stare at him in the darkness. Only the lights from the dashboard and the headlights, allowed me to see the grin upon his face. “Where are you taking me?” I asked again.
“I told you…that it’s a surprise.”
I was definitely surprised when we drove into Shreveport and pulled into Fangtasia’s parking lot. I turned to look at him, not very happy. “You couldn’t have forgotten all about your business until after our date?” I asked, both angry and disappointed.
“Who said that I’m here to work?” Eric tossed back, disappointed that I wasn’t happy by the location. “I’m the owner. I told Pam to close it down for a few hours so that we could have the whole place to ourselves. I hear that the food is really good too. Besides, Pam wanted to see you again.”
I felt guilty all of a sudden. I knew that Eric had had the best of intentions. And I always liked to talk to Pam. She was the closest thing to a friend in the vampire world that I had. “I’m sorry.” I reached over and took his cool hand in mine. “It’s just not what I had expected. I’m sure that I’ll love whatever you have planned.” I tried to reassure him.
“I hope so,” Eric said, then squeezed my hand back. “Come, I have more surprises for you.” He stepped out of the car and walked around to the passenger side of the car. He opened the door and waited for me to climb out of the car. I climbed out, awkwardly, because I was wearing a dress that I didn’t want to ruin. It had risen up a little bit too high, exposing my thighs, in the car.
Eric, of course, noticed and grinned down naughtily at me. I felt my heartbeat quicken.
He took my hand and led me inside. As if on cue, Pam greeted us at the door. “Welcome to Fangtasia, the bar is closed for the night so that my boss can get some nookie.” She joked, but then reached towards me and hugged me. “You look good enough to eat,” she whispered in my ear. “How did you manage to get Eric to arrange this date for you?” She gazed at me, curiously.
I guessed that Eric’s actions were unusual. Bill had mentioned something earlier too. I glanced over at Eric to see if I could read it in his mind. Nope. He purposely kept it closed off from me, so that I wouldn’t know what he was planning. “I have no idea…” I shook my head at her. I didn’t miss the unspoken look Eric threw at Pam, which made it known that he didn’t appreciate Pam pointing out how out of character it was for him.
Pam immediately grew serious. “Let me lead you to your table.” Pam motioned for us to follow her, playing the perfect hostess. Eric held the chair out for me, while I sat down, then sat down across from me. We were right, smack dab in the middle of the Fangtasia dance floor. “Tonight’s special consists of lasagne and salad.” Pam gagged at the words. “Would you like a drink from the bar?”
I looked over towards the bar where Felicia was standing there, eyeing me warily. She was scared of me, because she knew that I was partly responsible for three Fangtasia bartenders getting killed, since I’d known Eric and Pam. “A gin and tonic,” I replied.
Pam scurried off to get my drink. I turned back towards Eric, who gazed at me from across the table. He reached across the table and took my hand in his, giving it a squeeze. “I’m sorry about earlier. I was just trying to be the voice of reason.” He explained. “I wanted you to think about it more before you did anything about it. It would be a life-altering thing for us.”
“Is that something that you would like?” I asked, because I wanted to know. “Is having a child something that you have always wanted, but never had the chance to have?”
Eric thought about it for a moment or two. “I do and I don’t. I’m glad that I’m not able to have any children because I’m not sure what kind of father that I would be. Not in this day and age. All I know how to do is to fight in battles and run a lucrative business. I don’t think that I would be able to do all the rest.” He paused, then grinned at me. “But I do know that their blood is very tasty and sweet.”
“Ewww…yuck,” I exclaimed. I pulled my hand out of his. “Must you always think about how people taste?” I cried. “We are not cows. We have feelings, thoughts and dreams, you know.” I was totally disgusted.
Eric laughed. “I’m just teasing.”
“You better be.”
Pam returned to our table with my gin and tonic and placed it down in front of me.
Eric looked up at her. “Do you know what Sookie wants to do?” He asked.
Pam shook her head.
“She wants to adopt a child. You know, a little human being who runs around and plays?”
Pam looked towards me in surprise. “I hear that their blood is very sweet and tasty.” She echoed Eric’s earlier sentiment. “But I’ve never had the pleasure. Why would you want a child, Sookie?”
I sighed and rubbed my forehead with my hand in frustration. I could tell that Pam had the same thoughts as her maker. “It’s nothing…Eric wasn’t supposed to say a word because I was only thinking about it.” I looked up at her. “What’s Eric like as a father?” I asked, knowing how that question would make him feel.
Pam shrugged. “He yells. He makes me do stupid things for a human woman that I see no point in. But he does pay good and gives me some of the profit.” She said, as she thought about it.
I wondered what Eric thought, sitting right there in front of us. “And if you were a child of four or five years old?” I asked.
“Well, he does love to play games…” Pam answered. “Sometimes, he’s like a big kid himself, when he’s not too busy rolling heads.”
I looked at Eric, to see how well he was taking our teasing of him. He didn’t appear to be bothered by it at all.
“Thank you, Pam. Now, leave.” Eric ordered, instead.
“Yes, master,” she bowed, then walked away from our table.
“I really wish that you would not encourage her,” he admonished.
“In what way?” I asked, innocently. I shrugged. “We like to have fun and that’s what we consider fun, so what?”
Eric sighed, then reached for a black velvet box on the table, that I hadn’t noticed until now. He handed it over to me. “Let’s get back to the real reason why we’re here.” He replied, changing the subject. He paused, while he looked at the box and then back at me. It was a jewelery box. “I wanted to buy you something nice. I hope you like it.”
I was speechless. I stared at the box that he held out towards me in shock. Slowly, I reached up and took the box from his hand. I slowly opened up the lid and peered inside