Bombshell begins in the middle of the events of All Together Dead, right after Andre had agreed to let Eric bond with Sookie—rather than doing it himself. It is inspired by the following prompt by Switbo: “Personally, I was always appalled that after Eric saves [Sookie] from being bonded to Andre by letting her bond to him instead, she never so much as thanks him from keeping her out of Andre’s clutches and they never really talk about what the blood bond means. As a ‘proper Southern woman’ as she always claims to be, how she could fail to thank him for saving her always galled me. And he’s too intelligent to fail to explain to her exactly what the bond means. Her not knowing is dangerous for both of them (as becomes obvious in later books).
Many thanks to:
Three people for making this story possible.
switbo for the inspiration
Sephrenia for the banner art
Kleannhouse for the beta-ing
Chapter 1: Schooled
The idea that a person’s life passes before his or her eyes in the moments before death is very true; I know that with certainty because little flashes of that life will converge into a person’s thoughts when he or she is experiencing moments of great stress.
Trust me. I’m a mind-reader, so I should know. Plus, I’m also a mind-reader who has killed people, so I really know.
I had to suffer Rene Lenier’s “greatest hits,” and let me tell you, that experience was horrifying enough that I was glad he’d been killed.
And Debbie Pelt’s snarly remembrances? One word: disturbing.
I’m just glad I’d not been able to hear Lorena’s last thoughts; I would have likely been scarred for life!
And, of course, I’ve been in enough anxiety-laden situations myself to know that my own memories will zing haphazardly through my head in times of trouble.
Behind a black cloak—where I was creating an even bigger blood connection with Eric Northman because Andre was forcing us to do so—my thoughts turned to my education, of all things!
Snippets of my life—representative and random.
I had never gotten a college education; hell, I’d passed my high school classes only because my teachers had been scared shitless of me.
Score one for the crazy girl.
“What if she tells the principal that I used the copy machine for personal documents?” Ms. Johnson had wondered right before she gave me a C- on my algebra text, even though I had missed enough questions to have merited a D.
“What if she tells my wife that Dawn Green gave me a blowjob to get out of detention?” Mr. Carter, the Drivers Education teacher had dwelled upon—for a whole semester. Dawn had been seventeen at the time.
I had been disgusted by both her and Mr. Carter. And I’d been even more disgusted because the blowjob had taken place in the Drivers Ed car—the very car that I had to drive once a week.
That whole semester.
I cringed a little in pain as Eric bit into my flesh. I figured it made me a little masochistic, but I liked to be bitten during sex. However, this moment was not about sex. It was about control—and I was currently sacrificing a lot of it so that I wouldn’t lose all of it.
Lesser evils and all.
As Eric tried to comfort me with a caress, my thoughts went back to school—so to speak.
If I’d had better ethics, I might have assured my teachers that I would keep their secrets locked up with all the others in my head.
So many secrets.
Stray thoughts about wrongs done to others.
Flashes about wrongs done to themselves.
Petty crimes and misdemeanors mostly.
I had learned early on that it was important to keep these things locked up inside—unless I wanted to get locked up in a padded room, that is.
Otherwise, I might have told Ms. Johnson that I didn’t know anyone in Bon Temps who’d not stolen at least five bucks out of his or her mom’s or wife’s purse—or father’s or husband’s wallet. A few photocopies of tax returns made clandestinely (thank you word-of-the-day calendar) weren’t anything!
Or I might have let Mr. Carter know that Dawn had made it a personal mission in her life to give “head” to as many teachers at Bon Temp High School as possible. It had been how she was getting her self-worth at the time. It was also how she was getting her grades.
Not to mention the fact that she had given a blow job to one of the deputy sheriffs in town to get out of a ticket.
And to the minister of the church that Gran had preferred for no other reason than because of the forbidden nature of it.
I cringed with that memory—her memory, still embedded in my brain even though she was dead.
Indeed, I might have told any number of secrets—to any number of people. But I didn’t—not then and not now.
Instead, when I was in school, I had been kind of grateful that my teachers had feared me. And I’d been even happier that they’d passed me along from grade to grade, year after year—because going to summer school was a prospect that I hadn’t even wanted to imagine back then. Summer, except for Sunday mornings when I’d gone to church with Gran, had been my time to hide in the woods—my time to rest.
I shivered a little as Eric licked the wound he’d made in me. My turn to drink.
I closed my eyes for a moment. It hadn’t taken me long to learn the two most tangible lessons that school would ever teach me. Number one—some subjects were just too hard to learn. Number two—anything I did manage to learn was going to hurt.
I opened my eyes right before Eric opened a wound in his chest. I latched onto the cut.
And then I slipped back into my random memories.
Math classrooms had been the worst places for me to endure—so many numbers going through so many heads all at once. It was similar to the time that I’d stepped foot into a casino in Bossier City; it had been for a “girls’ night out,” a treat to Tara and me from Gran after we’d both turned 21.
I’d known that it was a bad idea, but Tara was so excited, and I’d been telling Gran that my shields had gotten stronger, so she didn’t think it would be a problem.
It had been. All at the same time, I’d heard a cacophony of slot machines—all singing at different rates—and human thoughts—all begging for different things.
Screaming for them.
“An ace! Just an ace!”
“Red 22! Red 22!”
“Three 7’s in a row!”
“I need another bottle to drown the losses!”
“Just one time! Just wanna be lucky one time!”
“If I don’t win this, I’ll lose the house!”
Before Tara could even put a coin into a slot machine, I’d turned around and run out of the casino. When she’d followed me, I convinced her to go back inside for a while. But, by herself, she’d not had much fun. She hadn’t much cared for what the vampires saw as my “gift” that day. But she had helped me to lie to Gran; we’d told her that we’d had a great time.
See? I’d run from difficult situations before! But I couldn’t leave the one I was in, so I drank on—trying not to think about how thick Eric’s blood was.
Sadly, I’d never been able to drop out of school either. It would have broken Gran’s heart for me to be a dropout—not to mention the fact that she would have never heard the end of it from Maxine Fortenberry.
Instead, I’d learned to endure—as much as I could. And I’d learned to lie every time Gran had asked me how school had been.
Shields had not come naturally for me, nor had they come early. I made my first one when I was thirteen—after five hours of prayer. At school that day, Jason had fought people who were bullying me—again. Gran had been proud of him. But in the dead of the night, I had heard Jason wishing that I could just be normal; in fact, a part of him had just wanted to make fun of me along with all the rest of the kids, some of whom were his friends.
I can’t say that Jason and I were ever really “friends.” Family—yes. Friends—no. I thought back to the sting of his strike after Gran died.
I sighed. Gran had wanted me to be normal too. In fact, she had often prayed for a higher power to take away my ‘handicap.’ And she had often felt guilt as she’d prayed it.
Shields had been the best that God could offer to either Gran or me.
It had been a lot better than nothing.
At first, those shields had been mostly ineffectual—like a raised hand trying to keep the sun out of the eyes on a really bright day. One slip and the sun would be even worse than before. But I’d worked at them.
And, within a year or so, I’d been able to shield for about three hours of my school days.
Unless I was jostled in the hall.
Or unless there was a difficult test to take, which raised my anxiety levels.
Then all bets were off.
Still, despite my early failings, I kept practicing my shields—especially re-raising them when the world took them down.
By my senior year of high school, I was able to raise them when I left home in the morning and keep them up for almost the entire day; usually, it was fifth or sixth period when I became too tired to keep them up.
They would slip away, and I’d try to re-raise them. Again and again. Rinse and repeat.
Of course, my shields sapped my energy, and—ironically—I made more mistakes related to answering unasked questions after I had started counting on my mental barriers to help me know the difference between thoughts and words.
So there was no “winning” for me.
My teachers would alternate between thinking I was crazy to thinking I was listless and lazy.
But they still feared me.
Thus, my report cards had read like the scantron tests of a bad student trying to play the odds.
Funny—Gran had been so proud of every C that Jason had ever brought home. A report card, showing the results of Jason’s junior year of high school—five C’s and a B—had decorated the old refrigerator in Gran’s kitchen until Debbie’s blood had dotted it.
Not surprisingly, none of my report cards had ever made it onto an appliance. Gran always tried to comfort me. She would tell me that she knew I would have been a wonderful student—if only my little “hiccup” didn’t get in the way.
I appreciated Gran’s words. She knew I tried to do well in school. She knew that a part of me hated getting C’s that weren’t earned. So the report cards were simply signed and returned to the school: an acknowledgement of charity.
I had come to hate that word—and the feeling of receiving it. It was too close to pity.
I thought of that word, “charity,” as I finished swallowing the blood of the thousand year-old vampire who had swept into the room to save me from having to take Andre’s blood.
Was it “charity” that had made Eric do it? Pity?
I looked up into his bright blue eyes. He’d obviously been aroused by my drinking from him, and his expression contained an element of bliss. But his eyes also told me that he felt bad about the situation.
And that’s why I had to close my own eyes again—this time in order to escape from his gaze. I didn’t want to see if he felt bad for me too. Or bad for himself.
I could feel the slight breeze created by Eric lowering the cloak. Vampire blood always sharpened my senses.
But this time, the blood seemed to be doing more. I wasn’t sure what that “more” was, but I felt different—both more like myself and less. But, even if a gun were put to my head—or more fangs to my throat—I couldn’t have described the sensation.
But I could describe my newest fear.
What if the ‘sensation’ I was feeling was Eric’s thoughts trying to creep into my mind?
“No! No! No! No! No! No!” my mind cried out, though my lips stayed sealed.
Having vampire blood had made me hear vampire thoughts—though fleetingly—in the past.
What if this blood exchange was the one that made that phenomenon more common—or permanent?
“I hate having feelings,” Eric might be thinking. “I hate having feelings—for you. For someone like you,” he might be adding with accusation. Hatred.
I felt Eric’s hand touch my shoulder softly, and it seemed as if a jolt of comfort propelled itself into my body.
I braced myself and opened my eyes, and I looked into his eyes again. As I did, I prayed that my shields would be bolstered by the fact that I was surrounded by vampires—rather than destroyed by vampire blood.
A paradox—I know.
Eric gave me a slight smile. His fangs were still down, still pink from my blood.
My shields held. I thought about smiling back at him, but I couldn’t muster the expression.
I didn’t have long to celebrate not hearing Eric’s thoughts, however, as Quinn hurled himself through a door and into the corridor, and with his presence, my shields dropped.
A/N: Bombshell is the first of the “SHORTS” that I will be writing to fulfill reader requests. On my WordPress site, I have a page where readers can suggest a “wish” story. You can find it by clicking HERE. And–if I can–I will fulfill those “wishes.” I plan to do these stories when I’m “blocked” on my longer pieces-or when I just feel like devoting some time to something new.
This story is dedicated to switbo, who gave me the “prompt” for the work.
I hope you like this story so far. And I hope that you will comment.