Thank you so much to Nicole for reviewing this chapter 🙂 I can’t express enough how much I appreciate her hard work. She has also offered to review from chapter 20 which was when I started publishing without any reviewer.
I pulled into Salon Rouge’s parking lot just before 6 p.m. I grabbed the bag I had packed before I left my house. It was filled with new work clothes, my shampoo and other toiletries I needed to get ready for my shift. I don’t know how long I stayed inside my house hugging my shotgun but at some point you snap out of it and get a grip. My leg had been bleeding for a while and I felt weaker by the minute. No one had come after me, no animal, and no human. I waited with my back against the door for at least 2 hours before I dared to move. I was so sore, my body had been screaming to get up and my mind had been screaming at me to get a grip but I didn’t listen to either until I felt confident no one was after me. There was a rage inside of me that I knew didn’t belong to me. I was frightened not angry. It had, however, helped me get through my fear as it cradled me; the hum became my safe place. It was as if there was an untamed beast within me that was clawing at its cage to get out. It felt as if it was ready to pounce, to protect me. In some weird way, it comforted me. Eventually, I had gotten up, gathered my stuff, because there was no way in hell I was going to take a shower in my home, and just ran to my car. At that point, the rage was gone and I was left only with feelings of concern and my own fears.
I had probably spent the entire car ride paying more attention to what was playing in my head instead of the road but thankfully, the road between Bon Temps and Shreveport wasn’t a particularly busy one at this time of day. Of course, there was the rush hour in the Shreveport but I needed the mental break anyway and I felt safe in my car. Many thoughts had passed through my head while I was stopping and going. Something was not adding up. Sam had had plenty of opportunity to hurt me. I mean he was a friend, why would he do any of this? And that coyote, where had it come from? Was it the were guard Eric had mentioned previously? The ones who were responsible for my family’s safety? They were doing a shitty job if you ask me. Where were they when Gran was taken? These questions were the only thing I could focus on as I made my way to the back door; I was really slow and my leg hurt a lot more than I remembered in my house. My shin had taken the worst of it, it felt tight every time I took a step as if it was going to rip apart. I could feel my heartbeat through it and I would bet it was really hot to the touch.
“Are you alright?” one of the bouncers exclaimed as I waved at him. “You look like shit.”
“I am, thank you for asking. I just need to take a shower and I will be back to normal.” I replied.
“Heck you won’t. You smell of blood. What happened?” He said sniffing the air around me, getting awfully close to my head.
“Excuse me. While I appreciate your concern, I am fine.” I said pushing him away and walking in the door.
“Are you his now?” he asked me, which made me stop dead in my tracks.
“How so?” I said, ticked off.
“You smell of him. You are bonded.” He stated this as a fact. I guess seeing the puzzled look on my face was enough for him to continue. “In our world, it means you belong to him.” He said quietly, as if it was the biggest secret of the century.
“Well in my world, people don’t own people.” I snapped loudly and turned my back to him.
“Why are you offended? “ He asked intrigued, but I didn’t pay any attention to him and just kept on walking.
I reached the main room and looked around briefly. Everything was exactly the same, while my nightmare of a couple days had happened; this place had stayed the same. I felt a bit of comfort from it, as if the notion of life that kept on going as normal could bring me a sense of normal.
“Sookie! You’re back!” I heard behind me and turned around. Kim was standing with a case of beer in her hands. She was early and I had not expected to see anyone.
“Yeah, finally,” I said waving.
“What the hell happened to you?” she asked with concern, after eyeing me from top to bottom.
“Don’t worry about it; I just need to take a shower.”
“I don’t think you will find one here.” She said but she had no idea about the living quarters in the basement where I was hoping I would find one. Otherwise I would resort to the bathroom sink.
“I’ll just use the bathroom sinks. I won’t be long! What are you doing here so early?” I inquired trying to sound nonchalant.
“Oh, we all work these hours now. Pam said something about more coverage. We come in around 6 and we leave a bit earlier now. I am sure it has something to do with you guys being gone for almost a week now. Anyway, it works much better for me.”
Great. That meant Kim wasn’t the only one here and as if on cue, Lexi came out of the back room with the twins. I didn’t look at any of them, how could I? I knew the twins were from the Order and I didn’t know if I was ready to face them again. What did they know about me? Were they here to procure me as well or something else?
Their thoughts made their way to me before their words. They all thought I looked like shit and wondered what had happened to me. I didn’t care and as their questions started, I shrugged and just told them it was a long story. The twins didn’t think about the Order or anything remotely about it. Perhaps their involvement was minimal, it wasn’t clear. Only Kim and Nathalie seemed happy to see me. No surprise there I guess.
I made my way to Eric’s office when I was sure none of them were paying attention to what I was doing. I had told them I needed some things from my car, so it looked like I was using the back door, not heading for his office and the secret closet door.
I opened it and found it to be locked. I frowned, how the hell was I supposed to open it? There was no key hole to be seen, not even a knob. In my exploration, I landed on a pad that was on the right hand side of the door. When I placed my hand on it, I felt a quick prick on the tip of one finger which caused me to yank it away quickly and suck on it to stop it from bleeding. What the hell was that about? The machine beeped and the door opened as if satisfied with the blood sample it had taken.
Why and how would it know my blood?
Thank the heavens; there was not only a bathroom down in the living quarters but a luxurious spa like one. The shower was one of those 5 jet ones and the raindrop like thing overhead had washed away a lot of my stress. I had watched the brown water down my leg disappear in the drain and had spent some time trying to clean it. It was a nasty bite. Sam had managed to rip a lot of my skin off and the bleeding had not stopped since. I pretty sure I was missing flesh as well but I had not looked at it that closely. After re-wrapping it with bandages I had brought from my house, I got dressed quickly, did my hair and makeup as if nothing had happened and headed upstairs for work. I had promised Eric after all.
The doors opened at 8 p.m. on the dot and I was behind the bar ready to take orders. My leg was really stiff, making hard to walk around but I had popped a bunch of painkillers from my pharmacy which I am assuming started to kick in at the precise moment. I took a few deep breaths and plastered a smile on my face to serve the first customer.
“So what happened to your leg?” Kim asked me between two orders.
“Oh, I just twisted my ankle.”
She nodded and smiled before asking me how the trip had been and if anything interesting had happened.
“Well, you’ll have to wait after the shift.” I had said with my best smile but truth be told, I didn’t feel like smiling anymore. This was going to be harder than I had expected.
“That is so exciting!” Kim said as Nathalie made her way to us.
“What is?” she asked intrigued.
“Sookie has stories from her work trip for the boss! Or should I say with the boss?” They both giggled and I kept my smile on.
I wished I could tell them the truth that the work trip had been an awful trial that had been the target of a bombing and a coordinated attacked. I wish I could have shared with them how scared I had been, that my Gran and my brother had been missing only to find out they had joined the Order of the Bones, information I had learned while being a prisoner to the vampire Queen.
There was nothing more I desired but to share with them my worries and my fears but also, the incredible moments I had spent with Eric. As if we had stolen them from an impossible reality, he had been hurt and I had healed him. He had taken me and I had his blood. We had formed a bond that I still didn’t understand well but that was with me always. I wish I could tell them about how worried I had been afterwards, that Eric had acted strange, I wish I could ask them about bloodlust, about vampire politics and about shifters but, I simply couldn’t.
I sighed in exasperation but they didn’t notice. I couldn’t tell them anything and it saddened me. I decided to focus on the humming that I knew was Eric inside of me. It was a bit stronger now and I wondered if his day rest was nearby. Sundown was eminent and I was eager to see him, to hold him and to tell him what had happened. I guess I was a bit clingy when I was scared and I hated it.
“Well I look forward to it after work Sook’! “ Nathalie said before taking her tray full of liquor out to the floor.
I kept glancing at the front door always expecting to see him and then glancing at my watch to see the time.
The bar was not busy at all; actually it was pretty dead because it was early on a Thursday night. The music was pretty quiet to match the mood of everybody around, we normally only turned it up later at night, so it was easy to make my way through the minds without too much disruption.
I was in the middle of pouring a rum and coke when I heard the front door swing open with a large bang. My back was to the door so I didn’t see who had come in but the humming within me was no longer a humming. I had not paid attention when it had changed but it was now more like a raging animal destroying the inside of its cage than anything else.
“Where is she?” I heard Eric behind me in a low and icy tone, it chilled everyone to the bone. Actually, it sounded more like a menacing growl but nonetheless, all thoughts became pretty clear and I could tell some of the customers were planning on leaving out of fear.
I turned to face his direction and started to walk to him as he spotted me. Actually. it was more like a hop because I could no longer put weight on my leg. I’m pretty sure my face was beet red as I could hear people’s thoughts and what they thought of the little outburst. I continued to him as quickly as I could manage, his eyes never leaving me. Lexi tried to come between us but like a hunter with eyes on its prey, Eric didn’t even pay attention to her. As soon as we reached each other, he looked down at my leg with his nostrils flaring. I now knew this to not be a good thing. He could smell my blood. The rage I felt through the bond took my breath away.
“What happened?” he demanded but I shook my head.
“Not here.” I whispered. “Calm down Eric, you are making a scene. I am fine.”
Everyone was looking at us, from the DJ to the clients in the booth and the rest of the staff. He finally snapped out of it, looked around us and then back to me.
“Can you walk?” He whispered in my ear.
“Yes, I’ll be right there.” I said to him before returning to the bar to finish my order I had abandoned. He had left without any other words.
It took a few minutes and a few blinking eyes before the chatter resumed and people got back to minding their own business. I didn’t have the heart to have my shields down at that moment and I had made sure I couldn’t hear any of them and what they thought about what had just happened but inside, I was dying with embarrassment.
“What was that about?” Kim asked me quietly.
“A long story.” Is all I managed to say.
“Tell me about it. What did you do?”
I guess to the outside world, it looked like the target of his rage was me. They didn’t have the benefit of knowing his feelings, his caring.
“I better go find out.” I said dismissing any other questions. She agreed and moved to the side so I could leave the bar.
I reached his door hissing with pain, the painkillers were long gone. I didn’t knock on the door, and instead just let myself in to find the couch as quickly as possible.
I threw myself onto it but I didn’t get to touch it, Eric had used his vampire speed to catch me before. He was holding me and sat on the couch slowly, bringing my body down with him, my head resting on his lap. I closed my eyes not wanting to ever leave his embrace again.
“What the flying fuck Sookie.” I heard Pam somewhere in the room. I could feel her cold hands on my leg bringing my pants up and removing the bandages. “Looks like a bite.” She concluded as she looked at it and moved my leg from side to side. “A nasty one. It’s infected.” She added and I guess that explained the pain and the tightness in my leg.
I risked an eye down to it, which was now double the size it should have been. The bite and the claw marked were a deep shade of red with yellow puss oozing out of it. I could see my muscle exposed at various spots which gave me nausea.
“Lover,” Eric murmured with a much nicer tone as his hand gently played with strings of my hair. I could tell his rage had been replaced by something else, something much softer. “What happened?”
I recalled the events as much as I could, remembering them as clearly as possible. It was hard to tell, everything had happened so fast.
“Are you sure it was the shifter?” he inquired which took me by surprised. “Your wound doesn’t smell like him.” He added as if he was trying to explain his question.
“I am sure it was him.”
“Did you see him shift?”
“No but it is the same dog shape that he always takes.” I quickly added but now I was wondering too. “You think it might have not been him?”
“Shifters can just look at an animal and take their shape. As much as it pains me to say this, it is completely possible Sam wasn’t the dog that attacked you but instead the coyote that helped you.” He explained.
“Fucking shifters.” Pam said getting up from the crouched position she had taken to examine my wound. “She needs blood. Fast. Make it a fucking habit while you’re at it.” She added before leaving the room.
Pam was still angry with me, I could tell just by the way she was addressing me but Eric didn’t seem to pay attention, instead he was staring at me. I felt the concern through our bond.
“You know you just have to ask if you want my blood lover. I will give to you freely.” He chuckled and I lazily punched his lap. I couldn’t manage anything else, I was too tired. “Don’t worry about Pam. She will come around. She is just preoccupied at the moment.” He also added.
“Aren’t we all,” I mumbled. “Can I really not fight this infection the conventional way?” I asked. “What would it mean for the bond? Would it count as a second time?”
“No it won’t. We have to exchange blood at the same time, remember.” He said softly stroking my hair.
“What about bloodlust?”
“It will never happen again, I promise you.”
I nodded and gave into the tiredness I was feeling. His words seemed to be getting further from me but I could still feel his lap under my cheek.
“Drink.” He demanded, I felt his wrist near my mouth. “Please.” He added in a whisper before bringing it to my lips. I sucked in the blood lazily and after a few pull I stopped. I was so exhausted. I turned onto my side keeping my head on his lap but now facing him instead of up.
I mumbled a thank you but kept my eyes closed focusing on his blood travelling through my body. His concerns didn’t fade away and I narrowed on to it as if I was looking to understand. I tugged on it, I could see myself dancing with it, twirling and moving around in all its mystery. Why would he still be concerned? I had taken his blood.
I reopened my eyes but my head was no longer on his lap, it was now on a pillow. I was still lounging on his couch my head on one end, my feet on the other. I blinked a couple times and then got up to my forearm to eventually stretch into a seating position.
Eric was sitting at his desk and had watched me the second I had opened my eyes.
“I fell asleep?” I wondered, puzzled at the realization. He nodded. “Well I guess it explains how I could dance with your concerns.”
He frowned, his eyes forming tiny little slits.
“I must have been dreaming.” I added but I could still feel the same tug within the bond. Something was wrong. As if he read my thoughts, he replied to me.
“Nothing is wrong; it’s just, you don’t heal the same way as humans do. It takes much longer. A human being would be completely healed by now, no scar left. But you, I can tell your wound just closed enough that it no longer bleeds, yet is still very fresh.” He explained.
“And that is not mentioning most of them get high from it. You seem perfectly fine.” Pam added. She was sitting in front of Eric at the desk.
I couldn’t be sure exactly what all that meant but I took them at their words.
“Here we are again, wondering if I am not human.” I chuckled before adding, “How long was I out?”
“3 hours.” He replied and I gasped.
“Oh my god! What am I gonna say to the staff!” I exclaimed.
“Absolutely nothing, it is none of their business.” Eric snapped which kinda surprised me. The possessiveness in his tone ticked me off.
“Well you may not care about what they think, but I do. Some of them are my friends, I wouldn’t just take off on them like that. They will want an explanation. “I shot to my feet and walked over to the door but instantly regretted my decision as I felt the throbbing in my leg. “I don’t know what I will tell them but I’ll have to figure it out sooner than later. Besides, we should keep this relationship on the down low. I don’t want to be known as the boss’ girlfriend.”
I reached for the door and opened it. I didn’t make it one foot out the door; Eric was behind me holding my arm. Pam went around us and exited the office stating she didn’t want any part in this. He tugged on my arm enough that I was back in his office and he closed the door.
“Explain.” Is all he said.
I couldn’t believe his audacity. He addressed me as if he was my boss or something. Okay he was, but this was a personal matter, he didn’t need to talk to me like that.
“Don’t talk to me like that!” I said pointing at him.
His sole response was a growl.
“What is your problem?”
“Why would you not want them to know about us?” he managed to ask between his teeth. The rage I felt was oozing out from our bond.
“Because, they will judge me.” I said, equally angry.
“You are ashamed of us?” he asked in disbelief and I was too dumbfounded to respond.
Confusion was all I could feel at that point but Eric let go of my arm and reopened the door. Before I could say anything else, Pam came back in the office and looked at me suspiciously.
“I took care of the problem; you can go back to work now.” She said to me.
I blinked a couple times before exiting. I still couldn’t believe what had just happened. I wasn’t ashamed of us! How could he think that? I loved him. It was just a matter of perception; I knew that half the staff didn’t like me already, being with the boss wouldn’t help anything. Besides, I was sure that Lexi was still hurt about all of it and I was not the type of woman to go dangling her pain in front of her.
I huffed at my thoughts, who was I kidding. None of it was the truth, these were just petty excuses.
“I’ll be right back, I just need to get a case of beer from the back,” Kim said to me as I passed her on my way to the bar.
I stood behind it, a bit in shock about what had happened between us but Lexi brought me back to earth.
“Are you going to serve them or are you still mentally on your pee break?” she snickered to me and I shot her a glare.
I served the customers and got back into the cadence of my job. None of the girls asked me where I was for the last 3 hours and when I snooped into their minds, I found nothing. I guessed Pam had glamoured them, it was the only explanation.
I tried to concentrate for the rest of the shift but truth be told, the bond was unbearable. I don’t know if it was the fact I was close to him or if it was because I had more of his blood but I could feel his inner turmoil clawing at me and mixed with my own just made me sick to my stomach. At some point though, it lessened enough that I could manage the rest of my shift.
As soon as the last patron left the bar and the bouncers had locked the door, I went to his office but deep down, I knew he was not there anymore. I entered nonetheless, only to find Pam looking into the black book and the receipts we had gathered tonight.
“He is not here Sookie.”
“I know.” I said looking down at my feet. I guess she was waiting for me to leave but I didn’t. Should I be asking where he was? Should I go to him and explain myself, but what could I say? I didn’t even know why I didn’t want the entire world to know I was with him other than the petty excuses I was making.
“He has a lot on his mind. He is trying to locate the Order.” She added and stared at me for a response that never came. “We will find your family Sookie.”
I sighed heavily and replied that I had no doubt about it.
“You know, he is taking a lot of risk for you.” She said without taking her eyes off me. “I have never seen my maker this way.” She said sadly and I felt terrible.
“I am sorry.”
I didn’t know why Eric would chose to stay with me if I made him take risks. It wasn’t a question I had dared asking him but it had crossed my mind. If he was as old as I was told he was, then one would think he would know better than to be with a petty human like me?
I chose to leave Pam to her receipts and grabbed my bag on the couch. She didn’t say anything else to me but I could tell she wasn’t as angry with me anymore. She just looked concerned.
I went back to the main room to say bye to the girls but they were all gone except for Kat and Becca. I waved to them but Becca asked to stay behind just one moment because she had something to show me. I frowned, my instincts instantly kicking in and looking at the door to see if the bouncer was still there; he wasn’t. I thought about Pam and how she was just next door and that reassured me as Becca made her way to me.
“Jake says hi, and asked that you follow us tonight.” She said with a smile which was disturbing considering it was Becca we were talking about.
“Fucking traitor,” I spat at her and she actually looked genuinely surprised.
“Why would you choose vamps over your own family? He warned me this could happen.” She said in surprise.
Kat walked up to us.
“You are family Sookie,” she said, reaching for my shoulders but I pushed her hands away.
“She is too far gone I think.” Becca added, thinking about me and Eric. I shot her a glare.
“They must glamour you all the time or something,” Kat added. “No one is that naïve.”
“Well, Jake said your brother could be an unfortunate casualty if you gave us any trouble or alarmed the vamps.” Becca said with a friendly tone that did not match her menacing threats.
I was so pissed off at them; I couldn’t manage any other feelings. I knew this was a mistake but I did not really have a choice but to follow them. I also had no way of letting Pam know about what was going on. I thought about the bond and perhaps Eric would feel me but as I searched within me, I found it difficult to find it.
As if on cue though, Pam entered the room and crossed her arms on her chest watching us.
“What are you guys doing here still?” she asked with a hint of suspicion.
“Kat and Becca were,” I started, but Kat elbowed me on the side as if to remind me I couldn’t say anything, “asking me for a ride home.” I quickly said hoping Pam would get it. I stared at her, trying to communicate as much as I could in one look.
Her stone cold face showed nothing and I grew even more frustrated.
“Have fun.” Is all she said but something in me told me she knew exactly what they were up to.