The cold night air slowly cleared Eric’s head and he forced control back to him little by little.
Right now is not the time to entertain irrational thoughts about Sookie Stackhouse. Separate the beautiful intriguing woman from her value as an asset. Because that is what she is going to be, a very valuable asset in the supernatural world. Everybody is going to be after her. Judging by the number of times Compton calls the queen and the presence of Andre in Bon Temps of all places means the Queen knows about her and wants her. So Bill must be just a tool for the queen! Even the fairies are circling. Sophie Ann must have felt Andre in trouble. She’ll be calling to inquire and I better have a straight answer. I hate this shit!
Eric reached one of his many homes that he was currently using as his office, and was greeted by a very annoyed Pam, tapping her expensive jimmy choo pumps, all worked up for a confrontation.
“You have been missing!”
He raised a tired eyebrow at his child.
“Get back to the world. Associating so blindly with a human, for the world to see? Really Eric? You get a distress SOS from your human and you just chuck everything and run to her? Your minions have started exchanging glances behind your back.”
Eric had to smirk at the scolding Pam was trying to give him. “She is just a valuable human, Mom. I am saving an asset for my area.”
“Save that smirk and your lies for your human Eric. I can feel your conflict. It is weakening you and muddling your common sense. Get your act together.”
Eric stopped and considered his child. Pam never acted out over his casual flings. Casual flings? He started getting annoyed too. Why did everyone, including himself, have to question him about Sookie Stackhouse?
“Is something wrong Pam? Have I disregarded any business?”
“Check your phone!”
“I haven’t had any calls or messages this evening.”
“Yes, because it is switched off!”
What? He reached inside his pocket for his phone and sure enough, it was switched off, maybe died out because he hadn’t charged it. Eric frowned at the blank screen and realized he was usually swamped with calls and texts but could never turn it off because of the nature of his responsibilities. He never forgot about it. Funny to have forgotten all about it!
“You see? Now will you listen? Oh and please call the queen. She has called like five times in the last hour.”
“What… already?” Shit!
Now Pam raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow at his sudden alarm, silently demanding an explanation.
“Pam something happened.”
So out poured the entire story of the evening; Sookie… Bill… Andre… vanishing Andre… Niall and some other bloody hidden presence.
“And now I don’t know where Andre popped to. I can’t tell her of Sookie’s involvement. The bitch will have us all killed if she gets to know that Andre vanished after attacking Sookie and I was trying to save her. Damn I need to think and all I keep getting is visual replays of that lightning bolt in my head.” He sat down on the couch and hung his head in his hands. “I can’t think Pam. I don’t know what is wrong with me.”
Oh this was totally getting out of hand. “You need to calm down and call the queen Eric. Maybe Andre contacted her. You said you didn’t attack him. Tell the queen as much. He is her child and not our problem. She will find him out. Whatever it is, you first need to hear her out. And stop obsessing about that human Eric or I’ll kill her myself.”
Eric suddenly had Pam pinned against the wall, eyes bright with anger. “You will never speak of harming Sookie!”
Pam didn’t look frazzled. She was used to Eric’s anger. She kept a steady gaze on his eyes till he loosened his hold. Pam straightened her dress and snapped back. “Are you done with the over reaction? I don’t care who you eat Eric, just stop showing you are attached to it. Now call the queen.”
Eric let her go and turned to the task at hand. He could deal with Pam later. He took a few focused breaths and calmed down. Then he called the queen.
An hour later, he paced his office, one hand holding his temples, the other clenched in a fist. Pam stood in the corner, watching her maker and trying to hold back her own anger and furiously working at understanding what had happened.
“Fucking Compton….l’ll kill him!”
“Eric why did he say you made Andre disappear! He knows everything that happened. He was right there. What’s in it for him?”
Eric kept up the pacing. “Oh yes he was there. He was right there when Andre was draining Sookie. He was right fucking there when the light struck and Andre vanished and I touched ground. He was…” Eric stopped and spun around to face Pam, a feral smile of understanding dangerously playing on his lips.
His voice became an almost caress. “So, our Mr. Compton plays!”
“What do you mean?”
“You see Pam, he wants Miss Stackhouse. The queen wants Miss Stackhouse. The queen sent Andre when Bill didn’t give her up. Andre, however, came to covet Miss Stackhouse too. So he began drinking and our Mr. Compton became truly helpless because he couldn’t take on Andre but how lucky for him…There I landed to save the fucking day and then lightning struck. Andre was gone, Sookie was saved. He told the queen I did something to Andre so that I’ll be taken out of the equation too.”
Pam gasped. “Eric the queen can give you the true death for this supposed treason.”
Eric gave Pam a loaded stare. “Do you see what roads he has opened up?”
“Well Andre was the queen’s most loyal second and you are the queen’s most powerful sheriff.”
“And the queen?”
“…Is an over-emotional bitch!”
“So with Andre, her cool voice of reason, and me, her muscle and strategist, gone?”
“She is a sitting duck!” Pam’s eyes widened with alarm, comprehension and anger. “Fucking Compton! Is he a spy?”
Eric ticked an imaginary checkbox by flicking an eyebrow and smiled wryly. “That or he is one lucky bastard!”
Fangtasia opened with a big party on October 31st, Halloween. All the vampires of the area were present. Sophie Ann and her retinue were conspicuous in their absence. Everybody noticed it but no one said anything, not in front of the drunk human partying crowd or the sheriff at least.
Even if he didn’t want to and had absolutely no time for it, Eric had to sit on his newly constructed big throne, under a spotlight. As if he needed a spotlight for people to notice him. But mentally he was not in the club at all.
He had a shit load of mess to clean up. To count his recent blessings, there was the attack on his bar, an ongoing police investigation, mysterious white explosions; a queen’s missing second in command, fairy sightings and an infuriating telepath. Not to mention weird dreams and a new tie with a very emotional human; a human who absolutely refused to leave his mind, especially now that he was again sitting in Fangtasia, on a throne, under a spotlight.
Oh and the queen had decided to drag him to a trial at the vampire convention in Rhodes, to be held in a month, just out of pure spite. He might get away with five years of silvering if Andre was found before his trial, just for going against the queen’s second in command. If Andre was not found in that one month, then Eric was clearly getting the true death.
He really needed his wits around him. All his spies searching for any trace of Andre, were drawing blanks. He could not go after the fairies without starting a war. He had no idea where to even start looking for the third presence he felt that evening. The only remaining path to follow with the search was Sookie. He deliberately turned away from that.
The bombing however was tying very satisfactorily to FOTS. He had all evidence for an indictment. But then again, nothing from FOTS could be connected to any sound, sonic or alternate energy weapon. Eric knew the church imbeciles hadn’t actually used such an advanced weapon. But there was no way the human authorities could be explained about the big bang of that evening. The thing just hung there, nobody having any idea what to make of it. The only line of investigation went straight again to the lovely Miss Stackhouse. What in bloody hell does she keep on doing!
No matter which angle Eric thought about, every piece of the growing puzzle led again and again to Sookie Stackhouse. And then he couldn’t think straight.
He couldn’t afford to get distracted now. He could not afford time to sit down to analyze his feelings because he could not afford feelings. Feelings brought out weakness and weakness was not an option for him. Not if he wanted to survive. He had not battled through more than ten centuries to get stupidly ensnared by a woman in the end, however special she may be. Getting entangled with women always brought trouble. And loving someone more than thyself just about blasted everything. He knew this. He had seen it happen time and again, repeating like clockwork throughout history, all through his long undead life. This fascination with love and feelings had cost monarchs their kingdoms, saints their sanity and humans their minds. No point living that life if you could learn nothing from experience.
For the hundredth time that evening, he tuned Sookie out of his mind and concentrated on strategizing the cleanup of the wreckage around him.
Someone walked inside the bar and every vampire and supe present was immediately aware of her presence. Eric’s attention snapped to her. She walked with the grace of a floating cloud, the crowd just melting in front of her, to give way for her to pass. She wore a form fitting silver dress, starting low on her bosom and reaching her ankles, with an enticing slit at the side that reached her thigh, showing off perfect long legs in six inch silver heels. Her straight, shining gold hair artfully left lose, formed a halo around her face. Blue eyes highlighted with heavy mascara and smoky makeup, red lips with sparkling lip gloss and not even one blemish on her skin. The humans stopped dancing and drinking and just stared. That was not just a pretty face though. A damning, mesmerizing scent of rain and sky wafted from her and every vampire in the bar forgot their true bloods. A collective click of popping fangs rang through the whole bar. Fairy!
She walked up to the throne and gave a slight nod to the gorgeous Viking sitting there, not breaking eye contact for even a split second.
“Eric Northman!” her voice was pure liquid, sweet and salty at the same time. “Good Evening!” she gave a seductive half smile. “My name is Claudine Crane. A word with you…” she glanced around the bar and then fixed her smoky eyes on Eric again, “in private?”
He was the last to do so and the sound of her voice combined with her scent was the last straw before Eric’s fangs dropped and his sight became clouded with lust for the shining fairy in front of him.