Since I didn’t have to work the next day, I decided that I needed to go shopping for some household items and groceries. I went to Merlotte’s to join the lunch crowd, while having a bite of lunch myself. Most of the regulars were there. Holly and Arlene were working.
I could feel Arlene’s unhappy gaze when I entered and sat down. I could read vividly in her mind, exactly what she was thinking about me. She thought I was smarter than that. That she should tell her boyfriend about the latest rumor going around that was about me. Which surprised me, because I wasn’t aware of any new rumor. I wondered what it was. I tried reading more people’s minds in the room.
This burger is great. Sookie looks like she’s glowing. Should I have another beer? Those were only a few of the thoughts that were going on in the bar. Nothing that hinted at what the rumor might be.
Holly approached my table with a smile on her face. “Hey Sookie,” she greeted me, cheerfully.
We had been through the witch war together and had somewhat of a close bond. Although, Holly and Amelia knew each other, they weren’t crazy over the other. They were too different, I thought. Holly was a Wican, who practiced the love of nature. While Amelia took witchcraft to a much higher level.
I wondered what Holly knew of this Agatha who had had a hand in my kidnapping.
“Hey Holly,” I greeted her back, smiling up at her. “I’ll have a burger and fries, thanks,” I told her, knowing that she would be taking my order since I was seated at one of her tables. I handed her the menu, which I didn’t need to see because I worked there and I already knew what I wanted. “How are things?” I asked, curiously.
She had been seeing my brother’s friend, Hoyt for the last few months. I wondered how well it was going.
“Oh, things are good,” she replied, smiling back at me. “Hoyt’s an amazing guy. I just wish…” her smile faded and she began to frown. “That his mama felt the same way,” she sighed.
I knew what Hoyt’s mama was like, so she didn’t have to do any more explaining. I nodded my head in understanding. “I’m sorry, I’m sure she’ll grow to like you with time,” I tried to reassure her.
Holly smiled. “I hope so,” she replied back, trying to put on a brave face.
She wandered off towards the kitchen to put in my order. I sat there watching her work, while I tried to figure out how the best way get my answers about Agatha.
Soon, my order arrived, I dug in to eat. I hadn’t realized how hungry I had become but remembered that I’d had only toast for breakfast. It hadn’t been much.
After I had finished eating, Holly came back to gather up my dirty plates. “How are you?” She asked, with a concerned expression on her face. I knew that she was wondering how I was from the kidnapping. It felt nice knowing that I had friends who cared about me and my welfare.
“I’m okay,” I answered. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was once Eric got there,” I explained.
Holly suddenly grinned. “I heard about that rumor,” she replied back.
“What rumor?” I asked, surprised and curious. Maybe this was the rumor that I’d heard in Arlene’s mind?
“Oh…” Holly paused, unsure if she should let me in on it. “There’s a rumor going around that you and Eric are turning into an item,” she explained, after making the decision to tell me. “Is it true? Are you seeing him?”
I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say to that. Eric and I had decided to keep it a secret for now. I think neither of us was ready to face the outside world yet with our new relationship.
“If I were…is that a bad thing?” I asked, instead, trying to gauge what was going on in her mind. Holly knew of my curse, or talent, as Eric liked to call it. She often blocked her mind from me, especially when it came to certain things.
Holly shook her head. “No, actually…” she paused and looked around the room, making sure that nobody else could hear our conversation. Nobody could, the music was turned up way too loud. “I think you deserve happiness wherever you can find it. I just hope that you won’t get hurt, like you did with Bill.”
At the mention of Bill’s name, the smile left my face. It brought back too many bitter memories for me. I hoped the same thing as Holly did too. That was partly why I had been so reluctant to start anything up with Eric. I’d always known that Eric had the capabilities to really hurt me, mostly because he’d always touched someplace deep inside my soul. He’d touched a place that even Bill couldn’t reach.
I nodded my head in response to Holly’s statement, trying to come up words to express what I was feeling. It was crazy, but I felt like I really needed to confide in other women, who might be more experienced than me. Eric made me feel really insecure in my feelings, although he’d never given me a reason why that would be, but there was a part of me who was scared of being hurt. This time, I knew that I wouldn’t react the same way that I had reacted when everything had happened with Bill.
Holly must’ve been able to sense my discomfort. “I’m sorry, if I made you feel uncomfortable,” she apologized. “I guess that answers my question in a way.”
That made me look at her with surprise. “How so?” I asked, puzzled by what she had said.
“Well,” Holly shrugged. “If you weren’t seeing him, then you would’ve reacted differently, that’s all,” she explained.
“Oh,” I looked away from her, not sure of what to say to that. Then, I figured that it was the perfect time to ask Holly what I was most curious about. “Hey, have you ever heard of a witch named Agatha?” I asked, afraid of what Holly might say.
Holly looked around the room, in case someone was eavesdropping in on our conversation. I could see the scared expression written on her face. “Agatha? I’m not sure who you mean,” she blinked, then looked away from me. She was lying to me. I didn’t need to read her mind to know that. I only wondered, why?
I could tell that she was hiding something important but I knew that this wasn’t the time or the place to get into it. “Oh, are you free later?” I asked, curiously. I wanted to find out the answers and Holly wasn’t being helpful. I figured that maybe Holly might want to clue me in on it later on in private. Once she was finished work or something.
“Oh, no,” Holly shook her head. “I’m terribly busy. I’m meeting Hoyt after my shift is done,” she explained.
I could tell that she was using Hoyt as an easy excuse not to meet with me. It bothered me because it reinforced my fears about Agatha. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was not going to like whatever it was that I would find out about her.
“Oh, well, hope you have a great night,” I replied, deciding to let the matter drop for now. I had to get home and put my groceries away before it got to be too late. I paid my bill, then left Merlotte’s.
Driving away, I figured that I might have to take a little trip. I needed to find out as much as I could about her. I wondered if Amelia might want to come down to New Orleans with me. It also would reassure me that I had someone there by my side.
After I returned home I realized that Amelia wasn’t home. I was disappointed. I would have to enlist someone else’s help in order to help me. But who? I briefly considered asking Eric, but knew that he would only try to stop me. But then again…who better to help me than my bonded?
Eric didn’t take a car with him this time. He could fly and he didn’t want to ruin the loaner vehicle that he was driving. He landed on the front step of Dimitri’s mansion. Darkness had fallen awhile ago. It was pitch black outside. A moonless night. But the lights were on inside of the mansion.
Eric opened the door, not waiting for an invitation. He barged his way in, checked out possible attackers hiding in the shadows, but there weren’t any.
It was weird. Dimitri had seemed to let his defenses down. It had been really easy to escape with Sookie. It had been easy to walk right in, unannounced this night too. Not that he would’ve waited for an invitation, but over the years, Eric had learned a few things about warfare, even when he’d been human. Defenses had to be up at all times and you didn’t let guests come and go at will. It made him wonder what game Dimitri was up to because Eric knew that he wasn’t stupid.
He searched the main floor of the mansion looking in rooms and corridors. Finally, he found him behind his desk in the study.
Eric didn’t bother to knock. He walked right in. Dimitri looked up from the papers on his desk, surprised to see him standing there.
“Did you forget something?” he asked, puzzled at Eric’s sudden appearance. He glared across the room, his displeasure evident on his face.
Eric nodded his head. “Yeah, I did,” he moved further into the room, until he was standing on the other side of the desk. Dimitri gazed up at him, with a curious expression on his face. “You and me need to have a little talk.” Eric placed his hands on the desk, leaning down from his tall height so he would be better able to meet Dimitri’s eyes.
“Go on,” Dimitri urged, patiently.
Eric could tell that Dimitri’s mood had now switched to one of amusement.
“What’s going on? Why did you lure me here by using Sookie as bait? Who’s working with you?” Eric demanded, sure that he was going to get answers. He vowed that he wouldn’t leave until he found out who was behind all of this. He was convinced that Dimitri was only the means. Whomever was behind this, was the one who was really in charge.
“My, my,” Dimitri laughed. “Look who’s full of questions,” he taunted. “Do you really think that I’m scared of you?” Dimitri shook his head.
To Eric, that was a bad mistake. One that would definitely cause him to make Dimitri’s head roll. Not that he didn’t need convincing. He really enjoyed showing people who’s boss. It had taken him many years to get there and he had always thought of himself as a leader, not a follower. “Do you really think that I wouldn’t want revenge for hurting my bonded?” Eric replied back.
“Is she hurt?” Dimitri asked, surprised. He frowned. That had not been in the plans. The plans had only included using her long enough to make sure that Eric had agreed to follow directions.
Eric shook his head. “No and you’re lucky,” he growled. His fangs elongated. “If she had…” he purposely let the sentence hang in order to scare Dimitri. “Use her or touch her again…you will regret it.”
Dimitri laughed. “I don’t see what the big deal is. You got what you wanted. Which was time with her and a bed; nice, close and handy. It’s not a secret how you feel about her. Tell me, didn’t you enjoy the time you shared with her?” He asked.
Eric was confused. He knew that Dimitri was purposely trying to get under his skin, but at the same time, he was afraid of just how transparent his feelings had seemed to be. It further proved to him that he and Sookie would have to keep their relationship a secret. Especially from vampires. They would love nothing more than to use her to get to him, which he would never allow.
“I refuse to answer that question,” Eric replied, not very forthcoming. “Didn’t your mother teach you proper etiquette?” he asked, curiously.
“Of course she did,” Dimitri replied. “I’m only surprised that a mere human was able to tame you,” he explained.
“Who said I was tame?” Eric growled down at him, letting his temper show. “In fact, Sookie gave me her blessing to make sure that whomever is behind this pays.” Eric couldn’t remember if Sookie actually said that, but he didn’t think it would matter all that much to her, if he lied to Dimitri. In fact, Eric could now remember that Sookie had wanted to help him get to the bottom of it. He only hoped that she’d listen and not do her own investigating.
“I find that hard to believe,” Dimitri scoffed, waving his hand, as if it were nonsense.
“Try me,” Eric replied back. “Call her and ask her yourself,” he suggested. He knew that Dimitri had enough pride that he wouldn’t waste his time trying to call her up about it. “Now, tell me what you want from me,” Eric changed the subject back to what was on his mind.
Dimitri sighed. “This would’ve been a whole lot better if my partner had decided to stick with the plan and come visit me while you were still here,” he explained.
Eric was confused. “Who is it? Why did they change their mind?” He asked, puzzled. He would keep trying to get the information out of him, if it was the last thing he did.
Dimitri realized that he’d given away too much. His face looked full of guilt. “Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough,” he winked at him, teasingly.
Dimitri stood up from his chair and walked over to a shelf on the other side of the room. He picked something from it, which looked like a long stick. Eric didn’t know what Dimitri had planned. He checked behind him to make sure that there weren’t any guards standing there. When he turned back around, Dimitri had the wooden stake pointed at his own chest.
Eric looked on in horror. “What are you doing?” He cried out, alarmed by Dimitri’s actions.
“Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve been wanting to meet the sun for awhile now. I’m getting bored and ever since we came out, this life isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be,” Dimitri explained, sighing. “Times have changed and I’m not crazy about the future.”
“You wouldn’t,” Eric was appalled. He had never really known anybody willing to die their final death on purpose like this. “You can’t…not until you tell me who you’re working with,” he demanded.
Dimitri shook his head. “It’s no use. Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon enough,” he repeated, sure that he was doing the right thing. “I messed up. I don’t belong here anymore. My partner will kill me anyways, once he finds out that you escaped.”
Eric frowned and growled at him. He moved quickly across the room to try to keep Dimitri from ending his life. But he wasn’t fast enough. Just when he got there, Dimitri plunged the stake into his chest. Turning into ash and fading away so quickly, that Eric was stunned.
Eric heard the stake fall to the ground. Dimitri’s ashes and clothes were the only thing left of him. Eric stood there motionless and feeling powerless to do anything else but stand there.
I was almost at Fangtasia, to see if Eric would help me, when I could feel this overpowering feeling of powerlessness overtake me so much so that I almost steered off the road. The only thing keeping me alive and not in a pile of mangled metal, was Claudine who suddenly showed herself in the passenger seat next to me. Finally the car stopped moving and we were parked on the side of the road.
In a daze, I turned to her, seated next to me. “Hey,” I greeted her, as if she hadn’t just saved my life. “What’s up?” I was feeling really shaky and disoriented.
Claudine returned my look, with a little bit of resentment. “You’re what’s up,” she replied, angrily. “I was in the middle of something important when I could tell that you needed me. What’s wrong with you? You almost drove into a ditch.”
I sighed. I couldn’t explain my reasons to her, because I could barely explain them to myself. “Would you believe me if I told you, that my wheels slipped on a slippery road?” I joked, hoping that Claudine wouldn’t be angry for long.
“No,” Claudine replied, knowing that I was lying. “It’s him, isn’t it.”
“Who?” I asked, bewildered by her questioning. I looked at her with wonder, trying to figure out if she knew that I was seeing Eric or if it was someone else.
“Eric,” she replied, knowingly. “Niall told me that you and he have a blood bond and that when you were kidnapped, Niall noticed the state of mind that Eric was in,” she explained. “I’m not sure what it’s like in the human world, but in the fae, two and two equals four.”
I had to grin at her analogy. It was so close to how things were for humans, that it was funny. Maybe the fae wasn’t so different after all?
“Well…” I hesitated. “Maybe it is?” I decided to suggest it, without admitting it. I wasn’t sure how happy my great-grandpa would be at the thought of me with a vampire. “Needless to say, thank you for saving my life,” I smiled over at her, trying to charm her into a better mood. “I haven’t seen you in a long time. I was hoping that I would.” I paused, unsure if it was proper to ask about Niall. “How is grandpa?” I asked, curiously.
Since Claudine and I were technically cousins, I thought that she might be able to help me out when it came to him. He was still a puzzle that I couldn’t solve. Always trying to help me out in some way, shape or form, but never there when I actually needed him. That was where Claudine came in. She was my guardian angel, so to speak.
Claudine shrugged. “Busy as usual,” she replied. “Look, I don’t know what you’re trying to do with Eric and I really don’t want you to get into any details. But since Niall respects, and for some strange reason, likes him. I can’t tell you who you can or can’t date, but you should really be more careful.”
I knew that she was trying to scold me for giving her a scare. I knew that she liked me in her own special way. I grinned. “I’m sorry,” I replied. I suddenly frowned as it hit me. “I wonder why I was feeling like that?” I thought aloud. “I was feeling…powerless, as if I couldn’t move. That I’d seen something that shocked me so much, that I couldn’t do anything.”
Claudine looked at me, curiously. “Is that how come you swerved off the road?” She asked, with a bewildered expression on her beautiful face.
I nodded my head. That was when it hit me. Eric.