Monday, August 31, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy nine

Chapter Seventy Nine

When we got home, Eric driving the S.V.V. and me driving the car I had left parked on Crestview, I waited for Eric to chastise me about my dangerous behavior, but he didn't say anything. He told me he had some phone calls to make and he would join me in the bedroom as soon as he was done. I wanted to ask him who he was going to call, but I knew better. I wished him good luck with his calls and went to shower and get in bed. I was tired from all the sneaking around.

He would tell me who he called when he was done. I suddenly had the strange and fearful thought that maybe he was going to call someone and have me sent away, or go away himself. Maybe he wanted to call a divorce lawyer.

My guilt was making me fearful. It reminded me of the time Jason and I had stolen a comic from the drugstore in Monroe. It was a few months after Mom and Dad died and I had come to live with Gran. I don't know why we stole the comic book, we didn't even really want it that bad. Every time the phone rang for months afterwards I had gotten sick to my stomach, sure it was the drugstore owner calling to tell Gran what we had done.

When the police came to the door one day, collecting for their benevolent fund as it turned out, I tearfully confessed to them what I had done, leaving Jason out of it. I went and got the stolen comic, now the worse for wear, and turned it over to the police. I was such a tear streaked hiccuping mess that they just mildly told me not to do it again and left. Gran said she was disappointed in me. I told her I was disappointed in me too and she held me until I stopped crying. I never did anything like that again.

Now I had that same feeling. At the time I thought I was doing the right thing, but now I was seeing it from Eric's point of view. He thought I was going to get killed all the time because I was human. Okay, time to be honest with myself, because I was human and because I did dangerous things. But they didn't seem dangerous at the time, they seemed normal and necessary to me. I needed to talk to Eric about this. Not talking to him was how I got into this situation in the first place.

Eric was gone a long time. When he got into the bedroom he sat fully dressed in a chair by the bed. I knew we weren't going to snuggle. There wouldn't be any snuggling until I stopped smelling like Jure. But we could talk.

"How did your phone calls go?" I asked, though that was the low on the list of things I wanted to discuss with him.

"I called the palace to let them know the Countess and her guard were detained. I called Pam to find out how the club was, then I called Bill to let him know his data base was being used by The Fellowship at the Shreveport Sun to find and harass vampires. He said he would take care of it when he returned to Bon Temps in a week or so. He is very busy setting up the computers for Vampire Land. It is an ambitious undertaking." Eric looked at me with his usual expression of kindness and affection.

"You're not mad at me?" I asked, getting right to the point.

He came over and sat on the edge of the bed, holding my hand. "No, my precious angel, I am not mad at you. I thought about how I would have acted if the situation was reversed. I am grateful you came to help me. I am in awe of your resourcefulness. My pride is not so great that I can not allow you to aid me."

I was flabbergasted. I had never heard Eric speak so reasonably. All the things I was going to say to him to try to get him to see my side of things evaporated away. That left me with very little to say.

"Thank you Eric for being so understanding," I noticed my voice was quavering a little. I was so relieved I could cry. I guess I really had been scared he was going to send me away.

I had something I needed to ask him. "Eric, in the past when I have done something to help you out ..."

"To save my life," he amended. I looked at him with surprise, impressed he could admit that.

"To maybe save your life, your pride was wounded that I was the one to, you know, do the heroic thing when you thought you should be .."

"Mr. High and Mighty?" he finished, with a twinkle in his eye. I had called him that once on the phone when I was talking to Pam, she must have told him what I said.

"Well .... I wouldn't put it that way, but that's sort of the idea. Why have you changed? Why can you accept ...."

"Gratefully accept ..." he said.

"Gratefully accept my assistance now. What has changed?" I asked.

He stood up and began stripping off his clothes. "Because now you are mine, my blood, my flesh, my wife." His voice was hoarse with emotion.

more to come ....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy eight

Chapter Seventy Eight

Eric asked me to wait in the SVV while he spoke to Jure. Since I had done enough to get Eric all riled up tonight I obeyed the Master of the house as meek as a lamb.

He wouldn't get into a physical altercation with Jure, there was no reason for that. If Jure had wanted to interfere with Eric's duties as Sheriff he would have stepped in to prevent the arrest. Instead Jure had stayed in his room listening, or pretending to listen, to classical music. He was sending the clear message he didn't want to be dragged into the mess Adrijana and Bojan had created. There was no point antagonizing the King by thwarting the King's orders. It was a righteous bust, to use a human term, and Jure knew it.

More complicated was the connection between the murdered lawyer and the stolen items from our garage. That was when it dawned on me that neither Jure nor Eric knew about Jacie Woods stealing my ring the night I was brought here with a concussion. I needed to tell them about that. The woman was a thief and she might be part of the problem that had caused Slide to get killed, since the theft of our items and the death and robbery of the lawyer seemed related.

I got out of the SVV and went to the porch door. "Yoohoo!" I called, just like Gran would have done. There was no answer so I went a little further into the house, into the kitchen and called again, "Yoohoo!". I heard two male voices, Eric and Jure, both talking at the same time. Vampires rarely over talked each other, so their discussion must be heated.

I went to the closed door of Jure's suite and knocked lightly on the door frame. Instantly the door flew open and an angry Jure snarled, "Yes?" He sounded really mad, and he looked slightly altered, like he was headed towards his more primitive fighting mode. He was in an honest to gosh red silk brocade dressing gown held shut with a tasseled tie belt. I had only seen something like that in the old black and white movies Eric and I liked to watch.

Eric was standing in Jure's lushly appointed bedroom suite. The red and black decor reminded me of Fangtasia, but the gleaming hardwoods, fabulous antiques, and rich fabrics reminded me more of the palace. Eric looked calm and unruffled, but he had perfected that facade. He could be seething in lethal fury and you would never be able to tell by looking at him. Not until he flew into a rage, and by then it would be too late.

"Hi," I said, "I have something I need to tell you all." I knew this wasn't a "you all" situation as soon as the words left my mouth, but it was too late to take them back now. I should have told Eric about this privately first. Now he would look bad in front of his vampire neighbor. It would be obvious to Jure that I hadn't told Eric, my husband, about discovering the ring was missing and coming here alone. Oh if only I could take back those words. Me and my big mouth. Then I had an idea.

I went over and stood by Eric. I said to him, "I don't know if you have gotten to the part of the story where you told Mr. Grando about me discovering my wedding ring was missing and how I came back here during the day," I stressed those words, "and got it back from Jacie Woods, the housekeeper, but I also read William Woods' mind and he knew his wife was stealing. She pretended to go get the ring, but she had it on her finger under the cleaning gloves she was wearing." Jure would know I had read her mind, it wasn't a problem to refer to my telepathic abilities in front of him.

I was counting on Eric's supernatural poker face abilities not to give away his surprise at hearing his wife had lost her very valuable wedding ring and come over alone to the house of his hated rival to retrieve it. My cheeks were burning with shame and regret. Was it any wonder Eric kept being stressed out about my staying human? Look at how I behaved.

Jure looked amused. I bet he could read all this drama right from my brain. At least he wasn't headed for Meltdownville anymore, that was a good thing.

He flipped his long silky blue black hair back over his shoulder with his manicured hand, an oddly affected gesture for such a rugged looking man. His emerald eyes fastened on my baby blues and sent a small shock wave through me. He was such a show off. My guards were up though and he couldn't glamour me. Of course he wouldn't dare with Eric standing right here. Again I wasn't sure if the reaction I had to him was just to the attractive man he was, or if he was throwing some hoodoo my way.

"Thank you, Mrs. Stackhouse, for letting me know," he said smoothly. "I apologize for the deplorable behavior of my staff, they will be dealt with." He gave a little bow. I couldn't help but smile back a tiny bit.

Eric said, " I will leave it up to you to deal with these matters. However, as I am still under suspicion I will need a full confession from the member of your household responsible for the human's death. The police need to know who killed the lawyer to end the investigation."

I wondered if they had covered the shutterbug Morea's recent trespasses too. But I wasn't going to open my mouth and say a mumbling word about anything until I had talked to Eric first.

Lesson learned, Sookie Stackhouse, lesson learned.

more to come .....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy seven

Chapter Seventy Seven

As hard as I could, I stabbed Bojan right in the middle of his back with Eunice Crapper's solid silver dessert fork. Then I stabbed him with a second fork just to be on the safe side. The big man went down like a ton of bricks, bellowing like a wounded bull. The Countess had about half a second to look shocked before Eric had slapped the cuffs on her.

She shrieked, and I noticed the padding had "accidentally" gotten torn off the cuffs. Her wrists were smoking, and smoke was pouring from the fork wounds in Bojan's back. Eric came over to Bojan and cuffed him, then he looked at the dessert forks sticking out of Bojan's back.

"What are ...," Eric began, but he didn't finish the sentence. I had taken off the talisman and put it back in its little white box. I magically appeared to Eric's surprised eyes.

"Sookie?" he said wonderingly, probably doubting the evidence of his own eyes for the first time in a thousand years. He reached out and touched me to make sure I was real.

"Yup," I said. "I was worried about you and came to see if you were OK." I gave him a modest little smile. I hoped he wasn't going to be mad. I put the little white box in my waist pack and zipped it shut.

"Let me get the Countess down to the SVV, then we will talk," he said. Duty first. Beside, she was yowling like a cat in heat, the noise really grated on your nerves.

With vampire speed Eric lifted the screaming vampire and took her out to the SVV. The sound of her shrill voice receding into the distance at such speed was a little comical, like listening to someone screaming as they fell down a well in a cartoon. I knew she'd be fine.

In a flash he was back and removed the big vampire from the room. He was gone a little longer this time, then he was back. Of course he wasn't out of breath. He held my dessert forks in his gloved hand.

"Are these yours?" he asked. I noticed two of the tines were bent. It didn't matter, nobody was going to use them for dessert. They had sure come in handy tonight, though.

"Yup," I said, as I returned them to their velvet pouch and tucked it back in my waist pack.

"Why are they engraved 'E.C.'?", he asked.

"It's kind of a long story. Don't you need to take those two to the jail?" I asked, hoping to avoid a lecture on my behavior.

I rode along as he went to the Shreveport location where part of his converted red brick turn of the century warehouse had been transformed into a private jail for vampires. Of course he was well paid for this by the King, as well as being paid for the safe detainment and transportation of vampires. Eric was a businessman. A good businessman. I wanted to be an asset in all his affairs, a helpmeet to him. I wanted to help him get ahead.

We didn't talk on the ride over. I think Eric needed the time to process everything that had just happened.

Since most of the rogue vampires that had emigrated here after the Great Revelation had been rounded up, things were quiet at the jail. Deputies came in to work as they were needed. Tonight a deputy met Eric in the dark narrow alley behind the building where the prisoner's entrance was located, helped get the prisoners into their cages, light tight cells lined with silver of course, and took over the paperwork for their transport to New Orleans tomorrow night.

Eric signed off on the dreadful duo, and we rode back to Crestview to tell Jure what had happened, as a courtesy. Once I told Eric about my discoveries, I was sure Eric was also going to have a few words with Jure about his charges leaving a decapitated lawyer on our property and sneaking around taking photographs for the Fellowship of the Sun newspaper.

On the way I told Eric about the talisman, about finding the credit cards and my things in the shed, and about my decision to see if he was all right.

"Jure didn't chop off Morea's hands, you know. I saw her tonight and her hands were fine." I thought this line of conversation would keep Eric from focusing on my risky behavior.

"I know," Eric said. "I thought it was too harsh, but I do not interfere with how a Master rules his home, as long as he rules it well." His tone implied that Jure was in trouble. Eric also might have been thinking about how he ruled his own household. That would be me. And Roscoe, I guess.

Not interfering with how a Master Vampire ruled his or her household was the same reason domestic violence continued in some human families behind closed doors for years. The police would get called, or the battered person would go to the emergency room, but the incident was seen as private business, to be handled within the family, and not something for the courts to meddle in. The abuser would be apologetic, then go on to do it again.

It was only when new enlightened laws were passed making it mandatory for the abuser to be taken into custody and charged, no matter if the battered person pressed charges or not, that the problem of domestic violence was taken out from behind the facade of a happy family into the harsh light of public scrutiny.

Vampire law was centuries behind American law and based on the times when Kings and Queens ruled the peasants with an iron hand. Chopping off of heads and hands, lack of the appeal process, torture and other harsh measures were the rule rather than the exception in vampire court. It worked wonderfully well to keep the vampires under a King or Queen in line. But it also was a constant threat that rendered each decision a vampire made a matter of life and death.

Eric could get in big trouble, serious trouble, if the vampires under his jurisdiction misbehaved. His job was to keep them all in line, and keep any negative publicity from damaging the vampire mainstreaming efforts.

Vampires were being presented to the human public as worthy members of society that just had the bad luck to get a disease that rendered them allergic to sunlight and necessitated a diet of blood. The King had issued strict edicts that the vampires he ruled, the vamps of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas, were not to make waves.

But obviously not all the vampires were going along with the King's edicts, and Eric could very well take the blame.

more to come ....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy six

Chapter Seventy Six

I looked through the open doorway and saw a frozen tableau of Eric, Adrijana, and Bojan. The three vampires stood absolutely still, like they were playing the children's game of statues. Adrijana was farthest from the door, against the wall with the front windows and seating area. She had on beige slacks and a light green silk blouse.

Her room was done in a lovely palette of muted fruit colored pastels that complimented her short strawberry blond hair and hazel eyes. The rug looked like it was ancient and woven from silk, a complex pattern of melon green, peach and baby blue. Every item in her room had been selected for its refined beauty and superb craftsmanship. It was dazzling. I was a little jealous.

Even though she was petite her posture and her bearing gave her stature and importance. She was staring at Eric with narrowed eyes, as if she was evaluating him. His hands were empty, no silver coated net this time. He was trying to handle this arrest with dignity, but I wasn't sure if that was going to work. He had thick leather gloves stuffed in his back pocket and two pairs of padded silver cuffs dangling from his belt.

Directly behind Eric was the enormous hulking Bojan. The Countess' guard was looking at her, waiting for her to give him a signal. Bojan was all in black and looked like a henchman. His hands were curved, ready for action. Since Eric was facing the Countess he must believe she was the more dangerous of the two. Or maybe it was the respectful thing to do.

Since Bojan and Adrijana had emigrated here from Croatia they had been nothing but trouble, in my opinion. Unfortunately the King was star struck having European royalty in his kingdom and would do his best to keep them happy even though they had plotted to kill him and seize power. That put Eric in the unenviable position of having to carry out a sentence against them while keeping them happy and safe. It didn't look to me like Adrijana was going to that SVV without a fight.

"I need to pack," Adrijana said, sounding completely unconvincing. She was stalling for time.

"You were given three weeks to pack. Now you are coming with me." Eric said. His voice was flat and hard, a cop's voice.

I took a tiny step into the room. No one noticed me. Son of a gun, I really was invisible! I wanted to move behind Bojan. I thought that Eric could handle the tiny Countess, but Bojan might be able to overpower Eric, especially from behind. Eric had the excellent eyesight of a vampire, but he didn't have eyes in the back of his head. Bojan was just waiting for a signal to pounce on Eric's back.

Vampires don't breath and they don't fidget. They don't cough, sneeze, or make chit chat. They don't do anything to cover up the small amount of noise I would make getting into position behind Bojan. Then luck smiled on me. The Countess walked over to the dresser and picked up the gilt edged papers that had been in the black envelope Eric received. That movement and the rustle of the papers as she sorted through them gave me the chance I needed to get right behind Bojan and open my waist pack.

"I do not see where it says I am to leave tonight," she said. Now she was going to try to nitpick the orders. Nothing was ever easy with her.

"Page three, third line from the top," Eric said. He waited while the Countess found the document and read the lines of print.

"I see, yes, you are correct. However, I am not prepared to leave at this time," she said royally. She almost had me convinced that the time of her departure would be left up to her. Almost.

Eric pulled the thick leather gloves out of his back pocket, put them on, and took the silver cuffs off his belt.

"I do not want to cuff you Countess. Please come downstairs now. You will not be harmed," Eric said. He wasn't losing his patience like a human cop would have. Vampires are very very patient because they live just about forever.

"As I said, I am not prepared to leave tonight. Please make an appointment and come back at a later date," she said, in a haughty bored voice, sounding like the conversation was concluded.

She continued to stand there, staring Eric down. Bojan moved a tiny, almost imperceptible, step closer to Eric. No one moved. I didn't know how much more time I had to be invisible, so I was going to have to make the first move.

more to come .....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy five

Chapter Seventy Five

All the credit cards belonged to Leno Slide. I bet they had been taken out of his wallet after he was killed. Why were they here in the Crestview potting shed?

The answer was obvious, the killer put them here. That meant that one of the vampires in the house was a thief and a killer. I knew Jacie Woods was a thief, and her husband put up with her stealing, but I didn't think Jacie could have even lifted Eric's big sword, let alone swung it around and chopped Slide's head clean off in one stroke. It would take a vampire's strength to do that.

However, I wasn't concerned with catching Leno Slide's killer right now, I was interested in finding out how Eric was doing with his arrest. I tucked the forks in my waist pack and slid out of the shed, oozing along the side until I could peek around and see what was going on.

The backyard was empty. The throwing knives were laying on the picnic table. I saw they were the same kind of knives as the one I had found in the grass. It was one of these knives that had been thrown at Eric when he chased the photographer. That photographer would be Morea. She was taking photos to give to Quentin Matchitehew, the owner of the anti-vampire newspaper, the Shreveport Sun. Since Preston saw Morea was getting paid for it she was probably taking photos of Eric for the money. Maybe she was the one that was stealing from my garage too, and she had killed the lawyer behind the garage for some reason.

I saw the SVV parked by the tree line so I snuck over there and looked in the back. The shackles hung there empty. No captured vamps, no Eric. He must be in the house rounding them up. I needed to go inside to see what was happening. Again I thought about leaving, but I had come all this way to find out how Eric was. I couldn't turn back now.

There was no cover at all the last forty feet to the house. I walked slowly up to the back porch door and turned the knob. It wasn't locked. Since everyone was home they didn't have the alarms turned on. A house full of vampires wouldn't have much to worry about in terms of intruders at night when the vampires were active. I heard a radio playing classical music somewhere in the house. I remembered the house had great acoustics. I tried extra hard to be quiet.

I stepped into the kitchen and looked around. There was nothing happening in the kitchen. Aside from nuking the occasional bottle of True Blood vampires didn't have any use for a kitchen. Eric had put a full kitchen in this house so it could be sold to either a vampire or a human. I tried to see if I had a reflection in the brushed stainless surface of the fridge. I thought I could see myself. It was maddening not knowing if I was really invisible. I needed to know, but there was no way for me to find out until it was too late.

On the plus side I knew this house like the back of my hand. I had spent enough time here with Eric before he sold it to know the floor plan perfectly. I figured the downstairs master bedroom was probably Jure's room. It was the room I had recovered in after getting a concussion in the woods. So, if Morea and Bala were staying in the RV, then Bojan and Adrijana's rooms would be upstairs. The house was eerily quiet.

Eric was in this house somewhere. I wished I had vampire hearing. Aside from the radio I couldn't hear a thing, no voices, no movements, nothing. After peeking around the doorway into the living room, I went quietly upstairs. I remembered the third step from the top creaked, so I stepped over it.

The upstairs hallway was dimly lit. I heard the air conditioner come on and the cool air swishing from the floor vents. The house smelled faintly of furniture polish and the unmistakable pleasant piney crisp smell of vampire. I moved down the hall to the first bedroom. I saw Bojan's enormous slippers next to the bed, so this would be his room. He didn't sleep here of course, he used the safe room with the Countess, but he probably got dressed for his daily sleep in here.

I hit the jackpot with the next bedroom I looked in.

more to come .......

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy four

Chapter Seventy Four

I clapped my right hand over Preston's mouth before he could say anything. I put my left index finger up to my mouth in the universal sign for "hush up". Preston looked at me over the top of my hand with big eyes, so I made the hush sign again and nodded my head, making my eyes ask him a question. He nodded his head too, so I took my hand off his mouth. He was silent.

I pointed to him and made a semicircle sweeping gesture with my hand to show him I wanted him to go around to the other side of the house. He looked perplexed so I made the gesture again, pointing at him, then making my first two fingers into a little walking person, then pointing at him again and making the wide sweeping gesture towards the other side of the house while nodding.

This was like the game of Indians Jason and I used to play as kids in the woods around our farm house. We got really good at speaking to each other silently in our made up "sign language". But Jason understood me because he was smart and used to the game. I didn't know if Preston had a clue what I was motioning about.

After a moment of hesitation he nodded, then started walking out towards the road, hopefully he was headed over to the other side of the house. I didn't care what he did over there as long as he drew attention away from me over here. I felt around in the grass and found my talisman. I hoped dropping it didn't affect the magic.

Once I had the talisman fastened securely around my neck I walked slowly towards the house. I looked at my hand, but I could still see it. I wondered if I was really invisible, or if I was sort of like the reverse of the Emperor in the story "The Emperor's New Clothes" where I imagined myself to be invisible, but others could still see me perfectly well. I had loved that story as a little girl, laughing like crazy at the part when the Emperor walked down the street naked thinking he was wearing a fine suit of clothes.

Now the story didn't seem so funny. I had more to lose than just my dignity. William Woods had warned me against trespassing, and I'm sure the vampires living here wouldn't be very tolerant of me creeping around their house. Not to mention how angry Eric would be to find me here. I thought about leaving, but I just needed to make sure Eric had made the arrest and he was OK, then I was out of here like a rocket.

Morea and Bala were not in the back anymore. I saw the big beige RV was still in the back yard. There was a light on inside, but the windows were too high for me to see into. Then I saw a shirtless Bala walk past the big picture window in the RV. I hoped they were both in the trailer, that would mean less vampires in the house for me to have to sneak past. Maybe the two teen aged vampires lived in the RV. Perhaps they moved around from nest to nest. I knew from Bill's experience with Jessica how extremely trying a teen aged vampire could be. Two of them would egg each other on, making it ten times worse.

I tiptoed closer to the house, moving behind the large gardening shed at the back of the rear parking area. Everything was quiet. I peeked in the grimy window of the shed and I saw something that caught my attention. A red velvet pouch was laying on the potting table, and next to it was a cheap white vinyl covered jewelry box. I recognized those things, they were in the boxes I had brought from the farmhouse in Bon Temps, boxes I had stored in my garage.

Very quietly, hoping the door wasn't wired into the security system, I slipped into the shed. The red velvet pouch held eight small solid silver dessert forks. When Gran was seventeen she had earned money cleaning house for a wealthy woman named Eunice Crapper. The name stuck with me, it wasn't one you could forget. Jason and I had snickered over it when Gran couldn't hear us. She wouldn't have put up with us making fun of anyone because of their name.

Mrs. Crapper had given Gran those silver forks for a wedding present. I knew this story because I had asked Gran why she never used the forks. She said it was because they had the initials E.C. engraved on the handles. Gran's married initials were A.H.S. so she wouldn't put them on her table.

Yet the forks had been a gift, and they were solid silver, so Gran kept them but never used them. Now that I had inherited them from Gran I brought them to my new house. Someone had stolen them from my garage. The vinyl jewelry box was one I had when I was a girl playing dress up. It contained some old pieces of costume jewelry Gran let me have. They weren't worth anything, but they had sentimental value. It made me mad someone had stolen them from my property.

There were some other things on the table too, including some credit cards. When I angled the Visa card so I could read the name by the light coming in the window, I saw the card had belonged to Leno Slide, the murdered decapitated lawyer.

more to come .....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy three

Chapter Seventy Three

As I watched the tail lights of the SVV pull out of the driveway I had a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Eric was the bravest man I ever met, and he loved a fight, but he was going to be facing five vampires. Those odds weren't very good.

I tried to think of who I could call. Bill? Sam? Alcide? Quinn? No, none of them would be any use tonight. I didn't even know where Bill was, the last I heard he was in New Orleans helping set up the computer software for Vampire Land. I couldn't call Claudine, she was a fairy. The vampires would just eat her for a snack.

Pam? If Eric had wanted Pam to help with this he would have asked her. She was completely loyal to him, but she was also kind of a loose cannon when it came to using force. She was such a fierce fighter she might take out the whole nest before Eric could stop her. It's funny, it never occurred to me that Eric might be protecting Pam by not calling her in. I believed that Eric was protecting the Crestview vampires from being massacred by Pam, a force to be reckoned with when she was defending her Maker.

That left me to try and help out any way I could. Should I just sit here and wait for him to call? I was asking myself this question as I was putting on my black jeans, a black tee shirt, and gathering up the few things I wanted to take with me and stuffing them in my waist pouch. Guess I was asking myself a rhetorical question.

I set the cell phone on vibrate so it wouldn't ring if I was sneaking around. I planned to just take a ride over Crestview way and see what I could see. What I was hoping to see was two pissed off vampires securely chained in the back of the SVV. Then I could just drive on home with Eric being none the wiser. I knew he would not be happy to have me over there, but I simply could not just sit quietly with my hands folded in my lap and wait for Eric to come home.

The night was cooler and crystal clear. I parked at the end of Crestview and walked slowly towards the house. I cut into the woods and came around behind the house, darting from tree to tree. From all the time I had hung out listening to Jason and other hunters I knew to move around to where the light breeze was blowing towards me. That way my scent would blow away from the Crestview house. Once I had on the talisman my scent would be gone, at least, that's what the spells were for.

I figured Eric probably parked the SVV behind the house so as not to draw attention from the street. Jure wouldn't want the neighbors to watch some of his housemates being carted off in shackles, and Jure had some pull with the King. Eric wouldn't want any complaints from Jure about being embarrassed.

I got close enough to see the back yard was lit up with the back porch lights. Then I jumped when Morea suddenly let out a blood curdling scream. I looked in the direction of the scream, over towards the garage. I saw Morea standing spread eagled against a big target with a knife sticking out of her arm. Blood ran down her arm and dripped on the ground. Her white face was twisted in pain. Bala threw another knife and it sunk into the pale flesh of her smooth arm right next to the other one.

Jesus Christ Shepherd of Judea! Morea was being tortured by Bala. He was throwing knives at her! Then I heard her scream again and laugh, pulling the knives out of her arm. As I watched the wounds healed.

"You suck!" she shrieked at Bala. But her face was smiling, so obviously she didn't mind. She spun a few times like a top, her dark hair flying around and her colorful skirt twirling out like a parachute. "My turn," she said.

I noticed she had two good hands. They couldn't have grown back that fast, so that meant Jure had lied to Eric about cutting Morea's hands off. I was glad her hands hadn't been cut off, but I was angry Jure had lied to Eric.

Now it was Bala's turn to stand in front of the target. Morea threw ten knives so fast you could only see the blur of movement and she said, "There! That's how it's done."

Bala was outlined by knives, one even had his sweater pinned to the target, but she hadn't pierced his flesh. The one between his legs was dangerously close to his private parts. He must trust her skills. Morea was the experienced knife thrower, and it looked like she was training Bala. I had seen acts like this in the circus. Usually it was a woman in a skimpy costume that was against the target. Maybe this was the vampire teenager version of mumbletypeg.

If Jure kept as tight a rein on Morea and Bala as Bill kept on Jessica, then they were probably very bored. Since they had picked me up and flown me through the woods, banging my head in the process, they were probably grounded. I needed to get past them to get closer to the house.

I backed away from the house so I could get out my talisman and put it on. I wanted to check my watch so I could time my invisibility. I got out by the road so I could see the face of my watch by the street light. I felt around in my little waist pouch and took out the box holding the talisman. I wished I had a chance to try it out and make sure it worked before tonight, but it was too late now. I was going to have to put my faith in Wonderful Wanda and Octavia. I also said a little prayer to the Creator upstairs just to cover all the bases.

I took the magical talisman out of the box and unclasped the ring on the chain. Before I could put the chain around my neck an icy hand grabbed my shoulder. I jumped and dropped the necklace.

more to come .....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy two

Chapter Seventy Two

Without the soothing effect of Eric nearby, the next day I developed an increasing feeling of worry about the arrest Eric was going to make. I woke up feeling uneasy and by the late afternoon I had worked myself up into a state.

All the vampires in Crestview had reasons to want Eric out of the way. Jure had a strange attraction to me, if Eric wasn't around he could move in on me. The Countess had been netted twice by Eric and he had foiled her plot to take over as Queen. I'm sure the small venomous vixen vampire would love to get Eric out of her pixie cut hair permanently.

Bojan was Adrijana's guard. If the giant vampire was instructed to kill Eric he would obey. Morea had her hands chopped off due to Eric's call to Jure about the teens attack on me. They claimed it was a joke, but the near fatal blow to the head I had received at their hands was no joke. Bala was attached to Morea in some way, he must resent Eric and me for causing Morea such agony.

Eric would do his duty. There was no point in asking him not to go. He had to go, he was under the orders of the King. And Eric had his pride. Just like me, if he had a job to do then he was going to give it his best. I admired that about him. The houses he flipped were showplaces when he got done. His bar was run with military efficiency. He had invented and created the Sheriff's Vamportation Vehicle now in use by vampire law enforcement around the country. He was a caring and creative lover, the loyalest of husbands. He would not shirk his duty, of that I was certain.

Could I get him to take a deputy with him? I knew Eric preferred to work alone. He had been a successful Sheriff for a very long time without my helpful suggestions. I didn't think he would change his methods or plans based on my concerns. However I did intend to tell him about my feelings because I was trying to be more open to Eric about what was going on in my mind.

Of course I wasn't telling Eric about everything in my mind. I still had a big secret from him. My distant relative, a telepathic vampire named Anna Hita, had given me a great gift for my wedding. She had gone back in time and gotten sperm from Eric while he was still human, frozen it, and placed it in a sperm bank for my future use.

I had a few years to decide if I wanted to have his child. I would live a very long time due to my longevity gene, and Eric would live until the end of the world as a vampire, but our children would be mortal, with normal life spans. The only way we could keep them with us would be to turn them Vampire once they became adults. Or we could let them live, grow old and die in the natural way humans did. I didn't know if I could stand that.

I wanted to know how being Vampire affected the personality, the personhood, of an individual. So much of vampire personality was due to centuries of being both the hunters and the hunted, of living in a kill or be killed outlaw society. It has only been since synthetic blood and the Great Revelation that vampires were able to interface with human society. Would that result in them becoming more open to having feelings, to developing attachments, to being moral and kind? Or was it the Vampire nature to be cold, calculating and selfish? I needed to know.

My way of dealing with this big secret was to just not think about it. I had a lot on my mind today so pushing this issue to the back of my mind wasn't too difficult. But I knew the night would come when I would need to discuss this huge topic with Eric. I didn't know how Eric would feel about it. Right now, I didn't want to know.

I planned out how I was going to deal with Eric's trip over to Crestview tonight, then I took a nap.

After Eric got up and discovered I still wasn't completely cleared of Jure's blood, he drank a bottle of True Blood without me even asking him to and got dressed. He didn't have an official sheriff's uniform, so he just wore a Ramone's tee shirt with the sleeves cut out and his comfortable jeans. The way his jeans hugged his bottom just about made my mouth water.

He looked so darn sexy I was tempted to ask him if he couldn't just put a clothespin on his nose and make love to me. Of course the smell wasn't the real problem, the real problem was my blood. He was very hungry for my warm blood flowing from the vein. For Eric, drinking True Blood was like trying to live on a bad tasting diet shake. It got old fast, and it had been old for Eric before I even started dating him.

My nearness, the passion of sex, would drive him into a frenzy of desire and blood lust, a thirst he could not quench. It would torment him. I think it might be knowing he couldn't feed from me that was making him hungrier and hungrier. His sex drive and his hunger were entwined, the hungrier he got the hornier he got, and vice versa.

I told him I was concerned about his trip over to Crestview. I asked him if he thought he should take a deputy, someone competent to help him out.

"No. No one is more competent than I am. I would need to protect the deputy. It would be one more distraction. I will be fine, Sookie. This is just a formality. The sentence has already been passed, they would be foolish to resist at this point." Eric seemed relaxed about this capture, but I was as jumpy as a squirrel.

"Please do not worry about this," he said as I followed him to the door, trying not to wring my hands.

"Can you call me?" I asked him, just about in tears. This must be how many wives of mortal human police officers feel every time their husbands go off to face criminals with guns, and how the husbands feel if the officer is the wife. I couldn't stand this worry every night. Did the spouses ever get used to it? I doubted it.

"When?" he asked. He was ready to go, but I wasn't ready for him to leave. I wanted to cling to his waist and keep him here safe with me.

My face must have been twisted up with worry because when he gently stroked my jawline with his thumb I could feel my whole face relax and melt. I didn't want to make this harder on him than it already was. Facing five not very nice vampires was enough for him to think about. I didn't want to add his fear ridden wife into the equation. I gathered myself together, stiffened my spine, lifted my chin and smiled at my husband. My years of training myself to smile to cover my inner concerns came in real handy right about now.

"How about if you give me a call on my cell phone once you have little Miss Who-She-Thinks-She-Is and her goon chained up in the paddy wagon?" I said, using a lighthearted tone of voice.

At least I thought it was lighthearted until a serious Eric looked in my eyes and said, "I promise I will return to you tonight, my lover."

more to come .....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy one

Chapter Seventy One

Being busy serving drinks, hearing the vampire DJ Bruno's eclectic mix of dance tunes, and having Eric gazing smolderingly at me with pride while he totally ignored the women that threw themselves at him left and right kept my mind from worrying about the arrest Eric would be making the next night.

During my break Eric and I went back to his office. I saw the scratches on the floor where Eric had driven his old oak wooden desk right across the hardwood planks with the power of his thrusts into me as I lay on top of the weighty piece of furniture. He saw where I was looking and smiled.

"Pam offered to fill in those scratches, but I told her to leave them," he said. His office was a big mess again. I was guessing the waitress Angellica had given up trying to keep it neat.

"That's sweet of you, Eric. I remember that time vividly. Remember the books falling all around us?" The desk had finally crossed the room to hit the bookcase and jarred loose the books. They had rained down on me, with the copy of Dracula falling open across my forehead.

"Have you heard anything about Saytanna?" I asked. She was a troublemaker and Angellica's evil twin. Saytanna was in Hades right now for a personality tune up.

"Not a word. That is the way I hope it stays." Once Eric shut a door he had no interest in re-opening it. There was a finality about his decisions that didn't give any room for do overs.

I only worked for three hours that night, a far cry from my seven hour shifts at Merlotte's carrying heavy trays. Eric was only willing to stay in the club for three hours to appear to all the fang fans that lived to lay eyes on the glorious supernatural being. He tired of the admiration and fawning, but he wanted to encourage business and therefore had to be a little more gracious than he was naturally inclined to be.

Over the weekend he was having another bus full of tourists come to Fangtasia. I would sit next to him on the other throne and drink V8 juice from a True Blood bottle. It was great fun pretending to be a vampire and being treated with such awe and deference by the humans. It almost made me want to bite one.

When we got home the Sheriff's Vamportation Vehicle, or SVV, was parked outside the house. It was a modified Vampulance turned into a paddy wagon for vampires. There were padded silver coated shackles attached to the insides, and the inside was completely light proof in case it ever broke down and was stuck in daylight.

Several sheriffs had gotten together and paid for this impressive armored bullet proof vehicle to transport wayward vampires to either the jail Eric owned in Shreveport, or else to the King's court in his palace in New Orleans. One of the other sheriffs must have dropped the SVV off so Eric could use it tomorrow night to restrain and transport the convicted vampires to New Orleans. Eric wasn't going to have to drive them, a deputy would do that once Eric had Bojan and the Countess under lock and key.

I was excited about the prospect of Vampire Land opening up soon. We had postponed our honeymoon until it opened so we could go there. Travel with a vampire is cumbersome. They need to lie in complete darkness during the day, of course. There are hate groups like the Fellowship of the Sun that would love to stake a helpless vampire. A wealthy vampire could be kidnapped for ransom, and there needed to be a sure blood supply for the vampire wherever he or she went.

Vampire Land took care of all that. They had a contract with Anubis, the airline that catered to vampires, to transport them safely to the hotel or the palace. The palace, where Eric and I would be staying, had more security than we had at our home.

And Vampire Land would have features that would be fun for vampires including donor dances where all the available partners were also certified donors, a daylight simulator that would look just like the vampire was once again walking through the sunlit daytime, but was completely safe.

The many historical eras a vampire might be nostalgic for would be set up as staged villages, and there would be several kinds of synthetic blood available. Humans would get to walk through Dracula's house, be stalked in the woods by a real vampire, and try out being glamoured by a vampire, all with guarantees of complete safety.

As I fell asleep, I thought about which eras I would like to visit. The Viking era was the first destination on my list.

more to come .....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part seventy

Chapter Seventy

There were no undercover cops in Fangtasia that night. Pam and Steve were chortling as they told us about the confusion and paperwork involved with the citizen's arrest. It turned out the two women police officers were not there officially, they were doing a favor for a fellow cop trying to get something on Eric or his club.

Since they were not on assignment, and there was a cassette tape of their attempt to sell 15 vials of V to Steve, there was no clear protocol for how this would be handled. Internal Affairs was investigating. If this was a legitimate attempt by the two women to sell V their career in law enforcement would be over. On the other hand, if it was, as they said, a free lance attempt to do some undercover police work they would be in hot water with their department. Steve helpfully mentioned his brother worked for the Shreveport Sentinel to the I.A. officer, so nothing was going to be swept under the rug.

"Can you really arrest someone?" I asked Steve. He was educated, had a pleasant manner, and a lovely rich speaking voice. He could have been a radio announcer or book on tape reader. He had a Northern accent, maybe New York.

"In Louisiana, any citizen can make a citizen's arrest if they witness a felony," he said. "Once they tried to sell a large quantity of V to me I had the grounds to make an arrest. I hate V dealers and I want to see them all put away where they belong." He smiled devilishly, showing me his citizen's outrage had been mostly bluff and bluster. He definitely didn't look like the type of upstanding John Q. Citizen that would make an arrest like that.

Pam smiled approvingly at him and he gave her a little squeeze. His looks were deceptive. He was not the smelly, ill tempered motorcycle outlaw he appeared to be. His worn and beat up clothes were clean, and I bet his record was too. I could see what Pam liked about the beefy guy, he was substantial. I couldn't help but compare him to her last donor, a frail scientist she had emptied out like juice box.

Since Steve's brother worked for the Shreveport Sentinel, I asked him what he knew about the Shreveport Sun. He snorted, "That horrible rag? It's a joke. Somebody should burn the place down."

"Do you know if there's a man with bright yellow hair that works there?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, that's Quentin Matchitehew. He runs the paper, if you can call it that. He's the head of the local Fellowship of the Sun, and a pain in the ass. Stay away from him, he's a rich crazy anti-vampire fanatic, but he has followers that will do his bidding, and that makes him dangerous. He dyes his hair yellow like that to resemble the sun." Steve was being slowly led away by Pam, so I said goodbye to them and went behind the bar.

Mike came over and handed me my apron. "I'll be letting you mix and serve a few drinks tonight, if that suits you, Sookie. Under my watchful eye of course." He winked at me, letting me know he wouldn't be too critical of my efforts. His smile had so much charm in it I started to fall under his Irish magical spell a little. Mike looked magically delicious.

Gosh, I must be kind of horny, I thought. I usually didn't think of other men like that, not since I had started going with Eric. I would be very glad when the blood in my body was the sweet nectar Eric liked to sip, not the hated venom of a rival vampire.

Apparently the fact that I was married didn't have much effect on Jure's designs on me. I tried to think that he had saved me, and I tried not to think that he had instructed the terrible teens Morea and Bala to nearly kill me so he could exchange blood with me again, but I couldn't be sure. Vampires were so incredibly devious that you really couldn't put anything past them, and the older they were, the more devious they got.

That reminded me. I asked Mike if he knew what happened to the other bartender that used to be here, Hans De Burgh. I tried to sound light and casual so it wouldn't be obvious I was checking up on what happened to Pam's empties.

Mike said, "Sure'n I do." He got a magazine out from under the counter. "Here's the man himself." The magazine was already folded open to the article about De Burgh, so maybe I wasn't the first person to ask about his whereabouts or well being. It was a UFO Journal magazine. The caption under the photograph of De Burgh read, "Noted cryptozoologist and investigator into the supernatural, Dr. Hans De Burgh, has recently returned from a lengthy abduction by a UFO."

The article gave long quotes from Dr. De Burgh about being beamed aboard an alien ship, taken through the universe to another planet, and shown the cities of an alien civilization. Some of it sounded pretty convincing. I wondered if this was the story implanted in his brain by glamour, or if he just made all this up to explain his long absence. He wouldn't have known where he was, maybe he just made this up to fill in the big blank.

I used to think glamouring people was immoral, but I have come to see the necessity of it under certain circumstances. Vampires had to cover their tracks sometimes, and glamour could be a very humane solution to a human seeing something they shouldn't have seen. Pam had stretched out De Burgh's experience a little too long, in my opinion, but here he was, seemingly healthy and making waves in the paranormal community with his sensational story.

more to come .....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty nine

Chapter Sixty Nine

The next day I went out and looked at another house Eric might want to flip. It had some big ticket problems and I thought Eric should probably take a pass on this house. With all the foreclosures lately, Eric had his pick of quite a few properties, he could afford to be choosy. I would look over another possible flip tomorrow or the next day.

The previous house, the one I had recommended, had turned out to be a great flip for Eric. His crew was already busy working on it. I drove over to that house and walked around, making notes on the work that had been finished and the projects that still needed work. Eric had a project manager, but he wanted me to check up on what the project manager was telling him to make sure things were as on track as he said they were. I was learning what to look for, what the signs of shoddy work were.

I hadn't heard anything from the police or from Merry Dixon, so I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. Amelia called me to find out what Hollice Clutter had for me. I told her about the woman's chock full house and that she hadn't been able to find what she had set aside. Amelia told me her mother had a friend like that and that I was right, it was a mental thing. I told her I had been talking more to Eric about my feelings. She was very supportive, it was good to have a friend like her. I told her that and we decided to get together again for lunch next week.

Things seemed to be improving, I thought in the shower. My blood was becoming almost tolerable to Eric, I had spent a night at Fangtasia beginning to learn about bar tending there. I would go back tonight and learn a little more before actually serving drinks. I was getting more experienced in the house flipping business, the police weren't at our door, and I still had the magical talisman and Valerian powder in case I needed them. I had gotten my wedding ring back from a thief. I didn't take it off when I showered anymore. I wanted to know where it was every second. After I was done with my shower I dried it and watched it sparkle like crazy.

When Eric rose I stood across the room from him, hoping the blood from Jure had run its course. I saw him test the air, then give a sad little shake to his head. Not my extended sweaty work out today, my long hot shower, my eight glasses of water, nor my liberal use of Obsession cologne had removed the taint of Jure's blood from me.

A quote I once learned in high school for a play popped into my head. "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand! Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No."

Eric looked startled, and I figured he had probably never heard of Shakespeare. Then he surprised me by saying, "The course of true love never did run smooth; But either it was different in blood."

I looked so surprised he laughed. Then I laughed because he was laughing. We were able to hug because Eric didn't have to breathe, but we weren't able to hug for very long because the nearness of my pounding heart and blood filled veins aroused Eric's hunger terribly, yet he was unable to feed from me. I forced him to drink another bottle of True Blood. I offered to sweeten the deal as I had last night, but he said no, he would wait until we could both enjoy the moment. I actually did enjoy what we had done, but I understood what he was saying.

We got ready for the club and took care of Roscoe. As I was changing the dog's water in the kitchen I heard a knock at the front door. Eric answered it, and there was a short conversation. I didn't go in to see what it was because I didn't know if I was going to need to call a lawyer, or what I might need to do. If I remained hidden I would be free to go and act if some action was needed.

Once I heard the door close I took a peek into the front foyer. Eric was opening a large matte finish black envelope with a saucer sized official looking golden seal covering the flaps. He tore through the seal and opened the flaps on the envelope. He took out some gilt edged papers and read them.

I waited quietly while he studied the papers. I figured they weren't from the police because of the unusual black envelope.

"This is from the King." Eric said, continuing to read. "Tomorrow night I am to go over to the house on Crestview and take Bojan and the Countess into custody. The King is almost ready to open Vampire Land and he wants them there to rehearse and serve their sentences."

Eric, in his role as Sheriff, was going over to that house filled with crazy homicidal vampires to take two of them into custody tomorrow night. I felt the icy fingers of fear squeeze my guts.

more to come .....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Complete List of My Stories

Redstar asked me a great question, what order should my stories be read. Thank you for taking an interest. I should have been listing the story lines all along. I know how confusing this website can be because the stories are published "upside down".

Several of the stories are stand alone pieces. They don't really tie in specifically with the two main story lines. The stand alone stories are:

Sookie's Birthday Surprise

A Little Fantasy

There are two main story lines, one with Bill written from author's point of view, and one with Eric written in the style of the SVM from Sookie's point of view. I love both Bill and Eric as characters, and I felt bad for Bill because he needed therapy, that's what got me started on his story line. The Bill stories are:

The Vampire Bill Compton Sees the Truth
The Vampire Bill Compton Learns What is Safe
The Vampire Bill Compton's Dark Fantasy (A side piece to this story line)
The Vampire Bill Compton Gets Real
The Vampire Bill Compton Feels the Love
Sookie Stackhouse Is All Shook Up (A side piece to this story line)
Bill and Sookie Visit Cirque du Macabre (This is a little aside from the story "The Vampire Bill Compton Learns What is Safe")

I left off with our beloved Bill feeling the love, that was my main goal with him.
I adore Eric, and seem to be writing about him right now. The Eric stories are:

Sookie Stackhouse Wins Eric Northman
Sookie Stackhouse Misses Eric Northman
Sookie Stackhouse Ties the Knot With Eric Northman
Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead - the current story.

I have also put on various fantasy images of how I imagine the characters might look.

Again, to everyone reading my stories, I thank you for joining me in my interpretation and variations on the brilliant and, for me, life changing richness of the works of my Maker, Charlaine Harris. She has Turned me into a Fanpire.

more to come ....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty eight

Chapter Sixty Eight

Once we got home I realized that I wasn't going to be able to snuggle up to my honey again tonight. I had spent years alone in my childhood bed in Gran's house without a problem, but now I was spoiled. I was used to having unrestricted access to Eric at night. I would be sleeping alone again. I was missing him like the dickens.

I must have looked glum because Eric caught my eye in the mirror while I was changing and asked me what was wrong.

A lot of things were wrong. But the thing that was troubling me at the moment was the lack of intimacy. I told him that, hoping he would understand I didn't blame him for the distance. I literally had another vampire's blood running through my veins. And with vampires, the blood is everything. It had been sullied. It would be as if Roscoe had been sprayed by a skunk, I supposed. I would still love the little dog like crazy, but I sure wouldn't be cuddling with him until the smell went away.

"We can be intimate," Eric stated, sitting down on the couch in our bedroom.

"We can? How?" I walked over as Eric patted the chair across from the couch, inviting me to sit. He got up and lit three small candles, then he turned off the electric lights.

He sat back down and said, "Tell me how it feels to be you."

Oh wow, he meant emotional intimacy. I wasn't prepared for that. I had to think about this. It was a good question.

"I feel sort of lost. You are the center of my life, I depend on you to fill up all the empty places inside me." Eric lifted an eyebrow at this. I laughed. "Yeah, those places too. But I also got used to you touching me, admiring me, wanting me. I am who I am because of the way you react to me. Now that you're not free to react fully I feel like I'm making mistakes, doing stupid things, not good enough. I feel like a reject, the way I felt almost all my life." Tears blurred my eyes at the truth of this. Was it only Eric's lust for me that was standing between me and painful loneliness? I hoped not.

"I can still admire you, but I just can't drink from you yet," Eric said.

"Do you know how soon we'll be able to be physically close again?" I asked, sounding a little pitiful.

"Soon Sookie. Almost tonight, but not quite. Maybe tomorrow night." He motioned for me to put my foot in his lap and he massaged it. I don't know if all Swedish people just naturally know how to give massages, or whether Eric had been trained, but he was so good at it. I felt myself relaxing, and being kind of turned on at the same time.

"How does it feel to be you?" I asked, since we were being emotionally intimate. It was something I wasn't that good at. I was trying though. I preferred to be the one asking the questions.

He gave this some thought. "I can tell you how it feels to me right now," he said. I sensed there was a "but" at the end of his sentence. He went on however, overcoming whatever reservations he might have. Like PeeWee Herman said in his movie "PeeWee's Big Adventure", everyone has a big "but". That line had cracked me up and seemed profound at the same time. I never forgot it.

"I have tried with all my strength to hold on to things but time always wins. Time is a force that erodes away everything, everything that has meaning for me. I know it will happen, yet I can not prevent it. I am trying to hold on to you, my wife, my dearest love, the light of my life. I can hold on with all my might, but one night I will open my eyes and you will be gone. I feel powerless to keep you by my side. Jure can take you from me any time he wants. A car accident, disease. Fate is cruel and fickle." He stared into the candle light like he was in a trance. He had stopped rubbing my foot.

We sat in silence. Now I knew what the "but" was before Eric spoke. He was going to say "But you won't want to hear it" because it was yet another appeal to let him Turn me. As a vampire I would be nearly indestructible.

I didn't want to be Turned. But if I did, I would want Eric to be my Maker. Of course, that would mean Eric had control of me like he did Pam. She seemed happy enough with Eric as her Maker, but would I be as happy as Pam with the arrangement?

Eric was so worried all the time about my safety. I could only imagine the many fortunes, the many attachments, the many safe places that had slipped through Eric's fingers. How did he keep going? How did he dare to care, to love yet again? What kind of courage did that take? How could I comfort him?

I knew I couldn't promise him anything. The only thing I had to rely on was what Gran had taught me. "Eric, no one is promised tomorrow. All we have is right now. We have found each other and we love each other. That's enough, for me. I don't know what's going to happen. You could be taken from me too, you know. I'm just grateful for every moment I have with you."

He lifted his eyes from staring at the candle. At that moment, to my eyes, in the warm flickering glow of the candle light, he seemed like the most beautiful and tragic man in the world. The sight of him wrung my heart. I went over to him and rested my head on his legs.

"Jure will never take me, Eric. I would die first," I said.

"I know," he said. "That is what I meant."

I looked up in his face, his eyes were serious and huge. We hugged for a very long time. Then he laughed and reminded me I had one massaged foot and one unmassaged foot. We kidded about how angry the neglected foot would be, and then Eric massaged it. I knew he was lightening the mood for me and I appreciated it. We put on some Frank Sinatra music and danced. I noticed that Eric could tolerate my nearness for a longer period of time tonight. That was a good sign.

When I yawned he lay down on the bed outside the covers and watched me sleep until he had to go.

more to come ....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty seven

Chapter Sixty Seven

We went back into his office. He shut the door and sat on the edge of the desk while I sat in the hard wooden chair looking up at him. The florescent lights made his complexion a ghastly grayish white and made the dark circles around his eyes more pronounced. I longed to turn off the overhead lights and put on the more flattering incandescent desk lamp, but I knew we weren't here to discuss the lighting.

"I know I messed up," I said, hoping to shorten the conversation. I was saying that a lot these days.

"I wanted to thank you for alerting me to the plot by the police," he began. He had taken a business management course a while back and I'm sure one of the things he was taught was to begin any kind of employee correction with some positive reinforcement for the good stuff. He was trying to be tactful and I appreciated that effort. He had needed his killing and hunting skills a lot more than his tact over the last thousand years.

"But I shouldn't have sent Mike to tell you about the plot, now he suspects I have the gift," I said before Eric could say it.

"The more people that know about your special talent, the less of an advantage we have," Eric said. This made perfect sense, and I agreed. "And it puts you in danger of being abducted and forced to perform."

"You are absolutely right, it was a bone headed thing to do. I'm sorry Eric, I'll try to be more aware of situations that could create a problem." I realized I had said this to him before. I was starting to sound like a broken record. It was hard not to get caught off guard and just do something dumb. Everyone makes mistakes. None of these things helps though, once the horse is out of the barn.

I told Eric I would try to minimize what Mike knew and come only to him or Pam with any telepathic information from now on.

"Thank you," Eric said, somewhat stiffly. I didn't need to be a mind reader to know what he was thinking. He was thinking that I never made the same mistake twice, I kept thinking up new ones.

The wind had gone out of my sails about bar tending for tonight. Mike and Clement had things under control since the night was getting old, so Eric and I decided to leave.

While we were pulling out of the parking lot I saw a group of punk rocker types standing next to a customized van talking and smoking cigarettes. There was the inevitable Mohawk, this time in purple, the goth type girl with Raggedy Ann red hair, and a guy with spiky hair in a shocking neon yellow color. They looked like exotic birds.

We were about a half mile down the road when it hit me. "Turn around!" I exclaimed. Eric was a vampire of action, he spun the car around like a stunt driver and back we roared towards the parking lot.

"There was a guy in the lot with yellow hair. Remember, Preston said some guy with yellow hair was the one that paid Morea for the pictures," I said excitedly.

We skidded into the lot in a cloud of dust and a hi ho Silver, but the van with it's colorful occupants was gone. Drat!

more to come .....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty six

Chapter Sixty Six

I nodded at Eric, our prearranged signal to let him know when the undercover policewomen came in. Few new patrons were arriving, so they would have been easy to spot even without my nod, once I read the undercover cop's mind and alerted Eric.

Pam was acting as the bouncer right now, though Clancy had been at the door earlier. I saw Pam have a prolonged interaction with both women, checking two forms of identification and taking her time doing it. The women kept looking at each other in a conspiratorial way, and then making eye contact with the male officer at the table. They sure weren't very subtle, maybe they were still rookies.

They sauntered in, looking around like they were taking in the new surroundings. Both were dark haired and olive skinned, one was slender and quite pretty, with bangs cut straight across her brow line and chin length silky hair. The other woman was a little taller and big boned. She was almost twice as wide as her partner. Her skin had the marks of acne pitting her rounded cheeks. Her coarse and somewhat frizzy hair was just pulled back in a rubber band. It must be difficult for her, I thought, to be teamed up with such a lovely partner. Her partner would always be the one to turn heads, get the compliments, and be treated in that special way pretty women are.

Steve walked up to them smiling a sinister gold toothed biker dealer smile. He didn't seem to be glamoured, so I tuned into his head. Then I knew why the vampires had laughed. He was going to get them to offer to sell him a large quantity of V, then he was going to make a citizen's arrest! That was pretty funny. He led them off into a corner where they talked seriously for a few minutes. There was shrugging, nodding, consulting between the women, and finally a handshake. Then Steve grabbed each woman and called Pam.

Pam came instantaneously, even on four inch heels, and called Clancy. Clancy came over with Leslie Fujikawa, a vampire police officer in Shreveport, and a friend of Eric and Pam's. She had the cuffs on both women before either of them could get out their wallets to show their badges.

Steve took a mini tape recorder out of his jacket pocket, reversed the tape a bit, and played it back for Leslie. She nodded, put the tape in her uniform pocket, and practically dragged the two protesting undercover officers out of the bar. The undercover male cop followed them out. All this took less than three minutes. It must be a world's record for ridding a bar of undercover officers.

Pam walked up and kissed Steve, I mean really kissed him, full on the lips, and they both came over to the bar.

"That went well," she said with a slightly British accent. Steve had a great smile, even with the gold teeth.

"Thanks for alerting us," Pam added. She moved over next to Steve and slithered her side against him like a hungry cat. I was starting to think that Steve wasn't just another fan of the fanged for Pam to glamour and feed from, she really liked Steve. They were going down to the station to sort out the citizen's arrest and fill out paperwork next.

Mike squinted at me, smiling, making rays of tiny wrinkles around the outer corners of his intelligent brown eyes, "There's more to you than you let on, lass," he lilted. "Do ya have the gift, then?"

I looked at Pam for guidance, but she just shrugged. I hadn't discussed this with Eric so I didn't know how he would feel if anyone knew about my telepathy. I stood there mute, trying to think of what to say when Eric appeared behind me. He had come up in the silent way vampires have, although with the noise in the bar he probably could have tap danced over in tap shoes and I might not have heard him.

The thought of Eric tap dancing made me smile. Mentally I put a tuxedo, and a top hat on him. And I gave him a cane like the one Fred Astaire used. We would have to see a few of those Fred Astaire, Ginger Rodgers movies during our next movie night. I put those on my mental Netflix list, then mentally moved them to the top of the list. I seemed to have a computer in my head these days. I could see why the darn thing was so addictive.

"Sookie, may I have a word?" he asked. He looked serious. I hoped nothing was wrong. Mostly I hoped I hadn't screwed up on my first night of tending bar, not that I'd gotten any bar tending done.

more to come ......

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty five

Chapter Sixty Five

Eric saw me watching Pam and said, "That's Pam's new pet."

Pam had a constant string of pet humans she liked to feed on. They were all so different from each other I couldn't tell what their common denominator was. Maybe the taste of their blood was what kept Pam with one person or another. Many vampires liked to drink from different donors all the time, but Pam liked to find one guy or gal and just about kill them. There wasn't another one like her. I still hadn't found out what had happened to De Burgh, Pam's last "pet". I was almost afraid to ask.

"What's his name?" I asked. The song playing now instructed us to "Be Careful. They're Watching". That was true. I saw the undercover cop trying to act like a lonely guy nursing his drink. He was making notes in a little cop notebook when he thought no one was looking. He should listen more to the lyrics, I thought.

"Steve," Eric said. I mentioned the cop to Eric and he nodded like he already knew about it.

Mike Malone was taking a break and a second bartender, Clement, was behind the bar now. Mike came over to our table and told Eric he was ready to show me around the bar if now was a good time. His Irish lilt was lovely to listen to, but not so thick he wasn't perfectly understandable.

Over the years I had gotten better at shutting out the minds of the people around me. Of course I didn't have that problem with vampire minds. I couldn't read them at all. Just a wonderful silence, like a hole in all the chatter where I could think my own thoughts undisturbed. I was better at shutting people out earlier in the evening. When I was tired or under stress my guards weakened and more chatter leaked through. As we walked past the cop I tuned in to his thoughts. Oh, wow.

Behind the bar was a new bartender's apron for me. I had on a Fangtasia tee shirt custom altered to show off a little of my cleavage. I had several Fangtasia shirts altered by Katherine Purdue, the seamstress that had made my wedding dress. The shirts fit like a glove, and the necklines were low enough to show I was a woman, without being so low I looked like "that kind" of woman. With my tight jeans and pony tail, I felt ready to do a night's work. Of course I knew to wear comfortable walking shoes from my years of waitressing at Merlotte's.

"Listen, Mike?" I said. He looked at me, giving me his complete attention. "Two women are going to come in here soon and try to buy drugs. They're going to be undercover cops too. You need to get them out of here before they can connect with anyone that is willing to sell them anything. We need to tell Eric about this."

Mike agreed. He went over to tell Eric while I looked around for the two young women I saw in the undercover cop's mind. I knew that in any bar crowd there would always be someone with a joint or few drops of V to sell. The whole bar could be shut down for weeks if they made a deal on the premises. I watched as Mike told Eric. Eric texted on his phone and Pam came out from the back and talked to Eric, then they all laughed. When a bunch of vampires laughs it usually means something real terrible is going to happen. Gulp.

Mike came back smiling. "All's well now, Mrs. Stackhouse." He was as chipper as could be. It occurred to me that I should have gone over and told Eric myself, but I had just gotten behind the bar and I didn't want to leave my post ten seconds after I got there. Hindsight was always twenty twenty. I hoped Eric wasn't going to be put out with me about this. We had enough to deal with.

"Please call me Sookie, we're going to be working together," I replied.

"Done. And you call me Mike," he replied. I already liked the man, he would be fun to learn from. He had to give a few flirtatious women new drinks then he showed me where everything was. I could tell I was getting some annoyed looks from the women that were sitting at the bar flirting with Mike. I felt like telling them not to worry, that I was taken. But soon they would see the ring on my finger and figure it out.

Most of the rules for being a bartender were basic common sense. Don't overpour, giving a customer an exceptionally strong drink can catch them off guard and ruin their evening. Never drink while on duty, never serve a minor, and don't serve an intoxicated person.

Fangtasia's policy was to err on the side of caution because there were always a few vampire hating cops that were looking for any excuse to shut the bar down. They suspected blood drinking was happening somewhere in the bar. It was, but they would never find the hidden room. It was only happening between vampires and willing donors, and only Eric's special friends.

As Mike was showing me where they kept the cut lemons and limes I spotted the two women I saw from the images in the policeman's mind come through the front door.

more to come .....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty four

Chapter Sixty Four

Mike Malone, the bartender, was as busy as a one armed paper hanger so I waited to be tutored by him until things eased off. It was gratifying to see Fangtasia was so busy.

Eric lips curved in a small smile of satisfaction as he looked over the dancing, drinking crowd. This was his fiefdom, his kingdom, he even had a throne of sorts to sit on. But tonight we weren't sitting on the throne, we were sitting in a corner booth. Perhaps Eric would ascend to Fangtasia's throne once I got behind the bar, the better to keep an eye on me. Not that he would be checking up on my movements, but he was very protective, ultra protective, of my well being.

The crowd was made up of college age people, fang fans and Goth types of all ages and persuasions, curious tourists, locals that just wanted a drink, and, of course, vampires. You couldn't have a vampire bar without real vampires. Most of the vampires here had a duty to show up a few nights a month to fulfill their obligation to Eric. He was their Sheriff, looking out for their well being, and part of his benefits for this sometimes dangerous and sometimes demanding job was that the vampires under his care needed to sit around looking sufficiently lethal and vampirey for a few hours a month.

This worked out well for the vampires too, because clients just lined up hoping to be chosen as a vampire's next meal. Unless you have been in thrall to a vampire's bite you wouldn't understand why anyone would do it. But it was pretty terrific, let me tell you. In fact, just thinking about it was getting me a little turned on. I looked at Eric and he was looking at me intensely, his nostrils flared. He could smell the change in my chemistry. Vampires. They sure took some getting used to.

"I was just thinking about you," I said to Eric, so he wouldn't think I was entertaining a fantasy about someone at the bar.

"I know," he said, his face an unreadable blank. Then he winked at me, surprising and delighting me. He motioned for Clancy to come over.

Clancy was not one of my favorite vampires, and I sure as heck wasn't one of his favorite humans, but now that I was Eric's wife he greeted me with the dignity befitting any vampire of status. It was nice to be treated with such deference, even though I knew how Clancy really felt about me. Eric and Clancy talked about the recent shipment of glasses they had bought, the new dance floor, and the increased scrutiny the bar was under by the police. There was an undercover officer in the bar every night now. I wondered if it had anything to do with the ongoing investigation into the lawyer's death.

While they talked I looked around the club. It hadn't changed in the years I had been coming here. It still had the lurid red and black decor, the campy vampire wall art, and the killer lighting and sound system that made the club such a hot dance spot.

Tonight the DJ was a human named Joy Joy. They also had a vampire DJ named Bruno that played an interesting variety of music. He had been the DJ for my wedding receptions.

Joy Joy played mostly Techno, and after a while the only thing that distinguished one song from another for me was the repeated line in the lyrics. The one playing right now was "You'll never see me again" repeated in many different ways. The multicolored lights over the dance floor flashed and spun in time to the pounding beat.

Pam was looking over our way. She waggled her beautifully manicured fingers at me when she saw me looking at her. She was talking to a really rough looking Hells Angel type of guy. He was over six feet tall, big and burly, with a narrow chin beard, gold hoop earrings and a bandanna holding back his long curly brown hair. He had all the expected motorcycle regalia on, chains, leathers, thick soled boots. I could see tattoos on his hands and up his neck, so he was probably covered in them. He looked like he had a long and checkered past.

Pam was petite, with silky white blond shoulder length straight hair, perfect features, and a trim figure. She had on a sleek conservative Donna Karin dress in a honey and gold swirl pattern, and her trademark super high pointed pumps in rich deep cinnamon patent leather. The big biker towered over her and would have looked menacing if I didn't know Pam was a vampire. For all her adorable cuteness, she was as lethal as a land mine and could move faster than sound. She could reach into the guy's chest, rip his heart out, and take a bite before the big man could blink. And not even break a nail doing it.

I watched Pam walk out of the club into the back hall holding hands with the guy. She smiled and nodded coyly at me as she went past. I mentally wished the guy luck, he was going to need it.

more to come ....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty three

Chapter Sixty Three

I was just about in time to make it home when Eric rose. Tonight we were going into Fangtasia and I was going to get the first installment of my training to tend bar. Not only would it give me a job for two nights a week, it would ease Eric's mind to have me in his sight where he knew I was safe, at least for those two nights.

I finished carrying the last box of Bon Temps stuff from the car to the garage and came in the front door of the house. Eric was just getting up. He stood in the living room staring at me, his cheeks seemed to be sunken and dark circles around his eyes made his blue eyes look like glowing azure embers in the night.

"What's wrong sweetheart?" I asked him, full of concern. He hadn't looked like this since the time his will to live had started to fail.

"I'm so hungry," Eric said, his deep voice had a strange hollow quality to it, like he was speaking in a cave.

I tried to think of the last time Eric had fed from me. Was it the night Merry Dixon the lawyer had come to meet with us? How long ago was that? Just a couple of days. He shouldn't be depleted yet.

Still, this happened sometimes with vampires, they had a sudden hungry spell where they needed extra feedings to sustain them. Maybe it was brought on by stress from the last few days. Eric seemed famished and in need of blood. I rushed over to him and bared my neck.

"Feed right now Eric," I said, feeling my heart pounding with concern.

He bent his golden head and sniffed my neck delicately, like a big cat. He stood back up and shook his head.

"No, I can not feed from you yet. You are still ..... unacceptable." He shrugged slightly and smiled crookedly, trying to take a little of the sting out of his words. They still hurt like the dickens.

Unacceptable? I was unacceptable? I felt like a plate of burgers and fries that was being sent back to the kitchen because the food was not up to par.

Without wanting to, my eyes stung with tears. I was so used to Eric finding me yummy in every way this rejection was getting to me. I was still me, I said inside, I still loved him, I still had the fairy blood he loved. Yeah, I answered myself, but your blood is tainted now with the smell of another man, another vampire. I tried to get my emotions under control. Eric was very hungry, I needed to deal with that first.

"Then I'll heat you up a bottle of True Blood. You come with me right now." I used the no-nonsense voice Gran had used with Jason and me when she wanted us to know she wasn't playing around. I marched into the kitchen and opened the bottle, microwaved it, put the cap back on and shook it to distribute the warmth, and gave it to Eric.

He made a face, but he sat down in a kitchen chair and put the bottle to his lips and drank. I admired the way his Adam's apple bobbed in his long throat as he swallowed.

"Ghaaaa," he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. I knew he found the stuff repulsive, but it would keep him going until I shed all my Jure blood. I had an idea. As he put the bottle back towards his mouth I sat on the floor next to him and slid my hand up his silk clad leg towards his lap. As I touched him he said "Oh yes," and responded immediately. I was hoping I was far enough away from him that my smell didn't reach him very much.

"Keep drinking and I'll make it more enjoyable," I said, kissing his knee. I continued to rub on him and he drank while I did all those little things I knew he loved. I knew where all his most sensitive spots were, and the silk acted like a lubricant as my hand slid up and down and all around. I had my eyes closed and was so into the moment I was surprised when he bucked and made a short sharp sound. I opened my eyes and blinked a few times. The kitchen now seemed garishly bright. My butt was going numb from the hard floor.

I looked up at Eric and he smiled at me. He had True Blood smeared on his teeth and gums. To someone not used to it I guess it would look scary or horrifying to see the fangs and the synthetic blood. But to me it was beautiful because it meant Eric had managed to get down a bottle of True Blood. He had fed and I was relieved. I hugged his legs and he rubbed my head.

Then he lifted my chin so I would look in his eyes and he said, "Thank you, my beautiful wife. That was kind and generous." His color was pinker and his dark circles were much less. He wasn't completely back to normal, but he was doing much better.

I stood up and rubbed my rear to get the circulation back. His cool hands replaced mine and he kneaded my bottom and moaned. "I miss this so much. Once you told me that my backside was your favorite part of me. I didn't understand this. But now, oh Sookie, ....." and he went off talking in that wonderful lyrical language he used to express himself when he had complex emotional things to say and could only find the words in his ancient native tongue. His ode to my tush.

Then he just stood there holding my bottom for a time, making small moaning noises and soaking in the wonderfulness that was my round hot pale fanny. Then he seemed to come out of a trance and said we needed to shower and get ready to go the club.

As he took his shower I got undressed to shower when he was done, feeling more hopeful that soon all would be well between us.

more to come ...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty two

Chapter Sixty Two

I stopped just inside the door, stunned. The room was packed full of things. There were couches on top of other couches, tables on top of tables, boxes stacked to the ceiling, rolled rugs piled up to a height of five feet, paintings and pictures stacked dozens deep against the walls, chairs balanced precariously on other chairs like some weird modern sculpture. There was nowhere for me to sit. There was barely room for me to squeeze through the maze of things to follow her. She led me to the bedroom.

I was still holding Roscoe because there was no clear spot big enough to set him down. Her mattresses were piled up like an illustration in a children's book I had when I was child. The story was the Princess and the Pea, and the plot revolved around the fact that only a princess could be sensitive enough to feel a single pea under nine mattresses. Ms. Clutter had ten worn stained old fashioned cotton mattresses piled up and I doubted if anyone on the top one would feel an anvil if it was placed under the bottom mattress.

She said, "Maud wanted you to have something." I didn't know who Maud was, but I was guessing Maud was the name of Herkimer Phipps' widow. Less than a year ago Herkimer Phipps' corpse had been reanimated to deliver a message to me. Now this strange woman who apparently collected everything had something for me.

Mr. Phipps had died in an accident but had been reactivated by vampire blood to become a zombie-like creature. He had disintegrated to dust in my driveway. When his brothers came to find out about the corpses' strange disappearance I wasn't able to tell them the truth right away, but in time I did tell them exactly what happened. I think they were grateful and maybe this gift was their way of saying "thank you."

Hollice Clutter was digging around in a box she had put on top of a pile of dresses. I wondered how she managed to function in this clogged house. There was hardly room to turn around. I could see the dust motes floating in the little bit of light that managed to filter through the piles and stacks of things.

"Ah'm seventy fo' years old, Mizz Stackhouse," Hollice Clutter said in her slow rural mountain drawl. "Ah have outlived mah husband and all his people, and Ah'm the last of eight sisters. The things you see in this house are things they left me. Ah just don't have the heart to throw any of it out." She continued to look through the box, then went on to another box. Roscoe was getting restless and started to squirm. It was hot, dusty and stuffy, and I didn't have the patience to stand there and watch her look through all this stuff.

I sneezed twice before I spoke. "I'm afraid I have to go now, Ms. Clutter. I can come back another time, that will give you time to find what you're looking for." I got one of my real estate cards out of my little purse. "Here's the number where I can be reached."

I knew she didn't have a phone, but maybe when she went to the store she could use the pay phone if she ever found what she wanted to give me. And if she could find my card. A place like this must swallow stuff up never to be seen again. I needed to get out of that house right now.

"Ah know it's heah somewhere, Ah put it up in a special place so'sn Ah could be shoah to know where 'tis," she said in a distracted tone, looking around with her hands on her thin hips. I was already heading out towards the door. I think I was feeling claustrophobic, though I don't usually have a problem with that.

"That's OK," I called back over my shoulder. "No rush, just call me when it turns up." I darted down the steps and hopped in the car before the old dog could make it back over to the car and get Roscoe all riled up. I would stop once I was to the blacktop road and let Roscoe make a whizz if he wanted to, but I wasn't going to stop for anything now, I had to get out of there.

Hollice Clutter came out on her crooked porch and shielded her eyes with her hand from the sun, which was now low in the sky. I waved my arm out the car window and hollered "Bye now, thanks!" I didn't know what I was thanking her for, but it seemed to be the polite way to end the visit.

I could see her slight wave in my rear view mirror, then she turned and walked back into the jam packed house. I wasn't going to expect to ever hear from her again. It would take a task force to find anything in that house. How did someone end up like that, I wondered. How did she put up with the inconvenience and the dust? Even if she was very attached to her husband and her family she didn't need to keep every stick of their furniture to show her love. I think she had some kind of mental sickness that caused her to keep everything from her past.

As I turned the corner to get back on the blacktop road, a box I had in the back of the car, a box filled with Grans old Christmas cookie tins, fell over, making a clatter.

more to come .....

Sookie Stackhouse Helps Eric Northman Get Ahead part sixty one

Chapter Sixty One

Hollice Clutter lived in an unpainted shack made of scrap lumber and topped with a tar paper roof. I didn't know there were any rough dwellings like this in Bon Temps anymore. I knew the living arrangements of the mountain folks was casual, but this close to town most of the houses were regular carpenter built houses, or for those that couldn't afford a house, there were two trailer parks available.

I pulled into her yard and waited in the car for her to come out of the house. Often people that lived in remote spots had one or more unfriendly dogs that would charge at you if you set foot out of the car. Besides, I was showing up unannounced, it seemed more polite to give Ms. Clutter a chance to see she had company and get herself together for it.

I recalled reading that was the way the Navajos visited a long time ago. They showed up prepared to sit outside someone's house for hours until the person inside noticed them, tidied up and invited them in. A society without phones would need to be very sensitive to the needs of others when just showing up unannounced.

An ancient blue tick hound with a grey muzzle plodded out from behind the house and walked slowly towards the car. Her tail wagged slightly and she gave a few hoarse little barks, but she was too old to either threaten or greet someone with much energy. A tall slender woman of about seventy came out of the house, drying her hands on the bottom of her shirt, a man's blue dress shirt that was worn at the cuffs and had stains on the flapping hem.

She wore a patchwork skirt, thick green athletic socks and men's dress shoes so scuffed I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be black or brown. Her white hair was as fluffy as a dandelion gone to seed, and her face had lines of both laughter and sorrow deeply etched in the tobacco brown tanned skin. This woman had spent many years in the sun, and her lined leathery skin gave me a moment's worry about the effects of sunbathing on my own complexion.

"Mizz Stackhouse?" she asked, squinting at the light being reflected off the car windows. Her voice was strong and had the same distinctive rustic twang to it I had heard in the Phipps brothers' speech. I rolled down the window. How wonderful it would be if she could just hand me whatever she had for me through the open car window without me having to exit the car.

But I knew I would have no such luck. Southern hospitality among the old timers was a formula that was not to be broken. I would be invited in, complimented, shown where to sit. offered a beverage, engaged in small talk, required to recite who my "people" were, that is, who all my relatives were until we discovered how we were very distantly related or acquainted, then we could get down to business.

After asking if I could bring my little dog in the house with me and getting grudging approval, I climbed the rickety steps to her door. Many people, including Gran, didn't think a dog belonged in a house, and the idea of bringing a dog into the house was as foreign to them as if Tray had wanted to park his motorcycle in my living room. I couldn't leave the dog alone in the car, and I sure as heck wasn't going to tie him up outside, so he would just need to sit in my lap during our visit. Maybe it would speed things up.

Trying to hurry a person such as Ms. Clutter would only slow her down. She would become flustered, lose her place, and have to begin again. It was best to just let her proceed however she wanted. At least, that was my thought before I stepped through the door.

more to come .....