FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24 (10:00 a.m., Louisiana Time)
“So—uh—how’d you want me to peel the carrots again?” Jason asked with confusion.
Sookie chuckled and rolled her eyes. A master of the culinary arts her brother was not!
“It’s okay, Jase. I got this,” Sookie assured, taking the peeler and the parsnips—not carrots—from her grateful-looking brother.
He looked up when he heard a loud noise from upstairs. “You know, Sook, I tried seein’ what was goin’ on up there. But that big fella in charge—what’s his name? Mason Harpo or somethin’—wouldn’t let me,” Jason whined like a five-year-old. “What all you doin’ up there anyhow? And on Christmas Eve?”
“It’s Jackson Herveaux. And just some renovations and upgrades. And—um—the workers are real happy to get extra holiday pay,” Sookie responded somewhat enigmatically (her word-of-the-day the day before). Jason didn’t need to know all the details of what was being done—or why it was important for her to do it when she was doing it.
“Well—the dude in charge wanted me to tell you that they’d be done by 4:00 p.m.,” Jason reported.
“Great! That’s even before he said they’d be done!” Sookie smiled.
When she’d popped awake on the previous Tuesday morning with her idea for Eric’s Christmas present, she’d worried that her plans were unrealistic—that there was no way that the renovations she wanted could be completed in only one day’s time—which was what would be needed in order to make “the gift” a surprise for Eric. Though disappointed, she’d reconciled herself to the notion that she’d simply tell the vampire about her plan on Christmas; then she’d gone back to trying to figure out what to get him as a physical gift for exchange.
It had been mild outside when Tara came by for a quick lunch that same day. The two had decided to eat on the porch, and Sookie had mentioned her idea to her friend—when Maria-Star was within earshot.
The Were had very good ears.
And she was nothing if not an effective organizer and initiative-taker. By that night, Thalia was involved in the project. And the next thing that the telepath knew, Colonel Flood was calling her Wednesday morning with the names of a few potential contractors, with whom Sookie discussed her project—and its time limitations—on the phone Wednesday afternoon.
All without Eric knowing.
Needless to say, given what she’d seen that week, Sookie wondered if there was any logistical project that Maria-Star and Thalia wouldn’t be able to accomplish together! Hell! They’d even arranged for the contractor’s equipment to be “magically enhanced” so that things like piping and tile could “set” quickly and be used immediately. Jackson indicated that such things were common actually, especially with vampire jobs.
Seeing Jason start to poke around in the ingredients she had out on the counter, Sookie went to the refrigerator to grab her brother a beer. It was early in the day, but there had to be some sort of game on television to keep Jason occupied—right? Just then, she “heard” Tara and Tray come into her range.
“Hey, Jase? Would you mind helpin’ Tara and Tray bring in the groceries?” she asked, happy for the excuse to get him out from under-foot—as least, temporarily.
“Sure!” Jason enthused, glad that he would now have a male companion to hang out with since he’d been told by Maria-Star that he couldn’t “hang out” with Onawa until her shift was over—a delay that seemed to be causing Jason physical pain, at least, that’s how he was acting.
The telepath smiled to herself. She had to admit that Jason’s thoughts had been almost one-track since he’d first laid eyes on the gorgeous shifter—with the one-night detour with Crystal Norris being the only exception. And Onawa’s eyes seemed just as smitten by the elder Stackhouse sibling.
“Match made in either heaven or hell,” Sookie muttered as she heard Jason and Tara greeting one another.
Thankfully, Tara’s re-budding interest in Jason had fallen off the vine before it had really started to ripen; indeed, she’d been out on two dates with Tray just that week—one on Tuesday night and one the night before. The two seemed equally taken with one another; in fact, the night before, they had even discussed exclusivity.
Tara’s excited and squealing 3:00 a.m. phone call would have woken Sookie up the night before when she’d not been able to put off gushing about her date—if the telepath hadn’t been on an outing of her own. With a certain blond vampire.
As for Jason and Onawa, Sookie couldn’t help but to think that they might be heading in the direction of a committed relationship too—even though the thought of “Jason” and “committed” being used in the same sentence would have shocked her the week before.
“Unless it was bein’ committed to beer,” she chuckled to herself.
Somewhat surprisingly, on Wednesday night, Onawa had asked to meet with Eric and Sookie in order to discuss her desire to begin “dating” Jason. The shifter wanted not only to tell Jason what she was, but also to show him. However, she’d been aware that Jason knew nothing about the two-natured, and she didn’t want to step out of line by telling him about the existence of shifters and other kinds of two-natured beings.
Ultimately, after discussing the matter with Eric, Sookie had decided that Jason needed to know some of the basics about the Supe world and about his inherited “allure.” That way, he could avoid situations like the whole Crystal Norris debacle. Mostly, however, Sookie felt that Jason had the right to know what Sookie knew about their family lineage.
She shook her head—hardly believing that it had been only four nights since her meeting with the part-demon—since she herself had learned that she was, indeed, part fairy as Eric and Thalia had speculated. Of course, none of them had suspected that the Stackhouse siblings would be related to Fae royalty!
To his credit, Jason had taken in the knowledge that there were two-natured beings, demons, fairies, and Britlingens pretty well. He’d been introduced to the Were guard that Eric had protecting him, Henry, and the two seemed to get along great. Jason had—as could be expected—taken the news about Gran and Grandpa Mitchell a little hard. From her brother’s head, Sookie picked up that Jason could understand their motivation to have children. However, his own identity was shaken quite a bit when he learned that he’d inherited the allure of the Fae. In truth, Jason’s ego had been bruised due to the fact that it wasn’t just his “natural charms” that drew women to him. He didn’t like the fact that genetics (a science he’d mistakenly called “geriatrics” in his mind—much to Sookie’s amusement) had been helping him “score women.”
Still—all things considered—Jason had done well with the knowledge that he was more than human. Sookie shook her head and smirked. In typical Jason fashion, just as he’d begun to re-grasp his “mojo,” a thought had occurred to him. He’d anxiously asked her and Eric if being a fairy would turn him gay; for a second, Sookie had been tempted to tell him that it would. But her sometimes simpleton brother’s head would have likely exploded—not because he was prejudiced against gay people, but because he just couldn’t imagine himself not liking women.
“Which is why he was an idiot for askin’ about it in the first place,” the telepath muttered. And—because he could be an idiot, Eric had glamoured Jason—as a safeguard—to ensure that he would not to speak of the Supernatural world (including Sookie’s telepathy and his own Fae-nature) to people he shouldn’t.
After his needless meltdown that his own sexuality might suddenly change, Jason had “redeemed himself” when he’d been told that most of Sookie’s day guards were two-natured. According to his thoughts, Jason had never had even one “second thought” about his attraction for Onawa. In fact, he’d immediately asked if she’d shift for him; he’d been in awe of her when she took on her bear form in front of him. Sookie chuckled as she remembered his exact words, “Jesus Christ, Sookie! My girlfriend is a fuckin’ badass!”
In truth, the telepath had been a little floored by the pride in his voice and pleased by his immediate acceptance. However, she’d been downright shocked that he’d called her his “girlfriend.” That was a first for Jason—and after only a couple of days too!
It seemed that love was in the air.
Sookie looked up as a loud drill started up upstairs. As she’d been periodically doing since the workmen came at sunrise, she skipped into one of the workers’ heads and then another’s and then another’s and finally into Jackson Herveaux’s thoughts. Most of the workers were just focused on doing the job quickly and well so that they could get home to their families for the holiday. Despite working on Christmas Eve, however, they were also quite pleased that they were earning bonus pay for the project.
As for Jackson, he was looking forward to seeing Janice, his daughter. But he was disappointed that Alcide had claimed that he had other commitments for the holidays. The older Herveaux regretted his strained relationship with his son and blamed himself.
In truth, after her last interaction with Alcide, Sookie had initially worried about bringing any Herveaux onto her home’s renovation project. And she’d heard (and “heard”) a lot of negatives about Jackson from Alcide during their brief trip to Jackson, Mississippi. But—of all the contractors she’d talked to on the phone—Jackson had shared the renovation plans that had sounded most appealing to the telepath. And she’d immediately gotten the feeling that she would “like” the elder Herveaux, despite what Alcide had said (and thought) about him. In a follow-up call to Colonel Flood, Sookie had made sure that Jackson Herveaux could handle the work she wanted him to do. The packmaster had assured Sookie—vouching personally—that Alcide’s father was doing a lot better in his personal life, even getting help for the root causes of his gambling—a mixture of alcohol abuse and grief over the death of his wife.
Ultimately, Sookie had hired Herveaux and Son based on her gut, Colonel Flood’s assurance, and Maria-Star’s recommendation (as well as the Were’s positive thoughts about Jackson Herveaux, despite his past difficulties). The telepath figured that—if anyone would know potential problems with Jackson Herveaux—it would be the head of her daytime security. Moreover, Sookie trusted Maria-Star—more and more every day.
Of course, none of her guards knew the full story of why Sookie’s hiring choice might have been an awkward one for her to make.
Thalia, of course, had thoroughly checked into everyone on Jackson Herveaux’s team. The Were hadn’t minded; he also hadn’t asked any questions when Sookie specified that Alcide be left off the crew—if he was even back in Shreveport. According to Jackson’s thoughts, he was simply grateful—grateful that his life no longer seemed to be swirling down a drain pipe and very grateful that Colonel Flood had, quite literally, pulled him out of a gutter and helped him to get his life back on track the month before. In fact, the Were kept thinking with pride about the thirty-day sobriety chip currently in his shirt pocket. And—at least for the moment—Sookie knew that Jackson’s thoughts about both gambling and alcohol were tinged with disgust, grief, despair, and fear, a list of emotions that the telepath hoped would keep him away from his addictions.
All in all, Sookie was happy for Jackson Herveaux and—so far—she was extremely happy with his work.
However, her feelings about Alcide were still quite mixed. On the one hand, she really had enjoyed his company—at least, for most of her Jackson trip. And she’d not really discouraged his romantic overtures in her direction. Looking back, she knew that she’d kissed Alcide because she was still smarting over Bill’s abandonment and reeling due to her tumultuous, suppressed and—at the time—unresolved feelings for Eric. A part of her now felt very bad, for—in a way—she’d used Alcide. On the other hand, the Were—too—had taken advantage of their covert, Bill-finding operation. Alcide had used Sookie to make Debbie as jealous as possible—despite knowing that his werefox ex had obsessive tendencies.
The telepath shook her head. Whatever may have happened with Alcide under different circumstances, his odd possessiveness of Sookie after the trunk incident was bewildering and disturbing to the telepath; in some ways, it seemed out of nowhere, as did the Were’s animosity for Eric in particular. Alcide had thought about her as being his, and Sookie hadn’t been comfortable with that at all! Indeed, especially now, she didn’t need Alcide Herveaux thinking any thoughts about her. Now that she had resolved her feelings about Eric, any romantic notions Alcide had regarding her would just hurt him.
And she didn’t want to hurt him, which was why she’d asked Jackson to exclude his son from the job on her home. Plus—on Christmas Eve—especially given the nature of the work she was having done in her home—the telepath didn’t need the drama of Alcide trying to talk her out of her decisions—again!
“I swear I will never, ever again go to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve!” Tara lamented as she carried in two bags of groceries. Tray and Jason followed, their burdens even greater.
“It sucked two days ago, too,” Sookie commiserated. “And I even had Maria-Star, Diantha, and Onawa with me as a buffer.”
“Is—uh—when’s Onawa gonna get here?” Jason asked trying—and failing—to sound nonchalant.
Tara rolled her eyes. She was grateful that it had taken her only about a day to get over her nostalgic feelings for Jason; of course, getting to know Tray had helped her along with that process.
“She and Willow are comin’ over at 4:30 p.m.,” Sookie conveyed. “But Warren and Mustapha aren’t due till after dark since they’re on duty till the vampires wake up.”
Jason smiled widely. “Hey—since Willow’s gonna be here, maybe I should call Hoyt!”
“Jason Stackhouse!” Sookie said loudly, as her sometimes-clueless brother pulled his cellphone from his pocket. “You are not gonna take Hoyt away from his Momma on Christmas Eve!”
“But you don’t even like Maxine,” Jason pouted.
“That’s not the point!” she scolded, shaking her head.
Jason shrugged. “Whatever. I’m sure Hoyt would prefer bein’ over here, but fine. Come on Tray,” he said, grabbing his beer and then another from the refrigerator for the Were, “I’m sure there’s a game on.” Jason left the kitchen after stealing a few olives from a bowl Sookie had just put out.
Tray bent down to kiss Tara on the cheek. “Need any help?”
Tara smiled up at him. “No. Just keep Jason out from underfoot, and you’ll be doin’ us a big favor.”
“Amen,” Sookie chuckled as Tray left the room.
“Are Jason and Onawa actually an official couple yet, or are they still just flirting like crazy?” Tara asked in a low voice as they heard Tray greet Jason and ask him which game was on.
Sookie chuckled. “As of Wednesday night, they’re official. Unfortunately—Onawa was thinking about him this morning when I woke up and did my sweep of brains,” she sighed. “Note to self: No reading Onawa ever again!”
“She might just be what he needs,” Tara observed. “You know—Willow told me that Onawa is sort of the female version of Jason. What would a female ‘man-whore’ be called?” she asked herself.
Sookie frowned. The female version would just be called a ‘whore’ in Bon Temps—not that Sookie thought that was right. For her part, she’d always hated the double-standard with how male versus female “conquests” were viewed. Indeed, Sookie didn’t like the idea of making “conquests” at all. To their credit, neither Jason nor Onawa viewed their many lovers as notches on their bedposts. Both of them simply seemed to enjoy casual sex and had no problems finding willing partners. Sookie didn’t judge either one.
“I just want Jase to be happy. Onawa too,” Sookie said sincerely.
“Yeah,” Tara agreed.
The two friends went about unpacking the groceries.
“We may be going overboard,” Tara chuckled when she looked at everything.
“True, but Gran would be pleased that we’re actin’ like grown-ups and hostin’ our first big Christmas dinner together. Don’t you think?” Sookie asked with a wide grin.
“I do think! Plus, I’ve seen both Tray and Jason eat!” Tara said with a smile as she got to work on the potatoes.
“Well—if Tray eats like Jason, then we might need more!” Sookie chuckled as she turned back to mixing up stuffing and thought about how her little Christmas Eve get-together had come about.
After Tara had excitedly agreed to cohost, the two friends had spent much of the last couple of days planning a menu. They’d decided to have the buffet-style meal ready for human and two-natured guests by about 6:00 p.m. Of Sookie’s regular day-time guards, Onawa, Willow, Mustapha, and Warren were coming. Of course, Sookie had extended an invitation to Maria-Star too, but the Were had declined. Sookie had felt sad thinking Maria-Star would be alone for the holiday until she’d caught a stray thought from the Were’s head about going to Colonel Flood’s house after sundown. She’d even be taking the next day off so that she could stay overnight with her godparents.
In addition to her full-time guards, Tray, Jason, and—of course—Tara would be in attendance. Sookie had also considered inviting Aphra. After Mr. Cataliades’s visit, Sookie had phoned the part-Britlingen, who had met with her on Tuesday afternoon following her lunch with Tara. Sookie had appreciated Aphra’s guidance in understanding Supe behavior, and she’d come away from the counseling session with a better understanding of why Fintan had suggested his deal with Gran and Grandpa Mitchell in the first place. Even after their productive meeting, however, Sookie had decided not to invite her counselor for Christmas Eve. Oh—she liked Aphra a lot, but she realized that it might be better if they didn’t mingle in social settings—given all the sessions the two had in front of them.
Oddly, Ginger had made the invitation list. Unexpectedly, she’d become a quick friend when Sookie had spent Tuesday night practicing her telepathy at Fangtasia. Indeed, the bottle blonde wasn’t nearly as dimwitted as she had seemed at first—probably because she was no longer being glamoured extensively by Long Shadow. Surprisingly, Ginger had been downright welcoming and—unlike the other waitresses—was happy for Eric and Sookie when it became apparent to her that the two were a couple. When Sookie surprised herself by inviting her for the party, Ginger had truly regretted saying “no.” As it turned out, many of the Fangtasia waitresses were going over to Ginger’s house for Christmas dinner, and Ginger needed Christmas Eve to prep.
The telepath had also extended an invitation to Diantha, whom she’d liked almost immediately, despite the fact that she could catch only about half of what the young demoness said. Of course, Sookie hadn’t held any reservations she had toward Mr. Cataliades against Diantha; after all, Diantha hadn’t known about Fintan and his mostly-human offspring. However, the demoness had ultimately declined the invitation since she wanted to return to New Orleans to spend the holiday with her sister and uncle, something she’d been able to do since the Britlingen guard, Batanya, had arrived the night before—quite a bit before expected.
Sookie could admit that Batanya intimidated her a little. Okay—a lot. The brunette guard was stunning, but she looked so fierce that Sookie wondered if she could kill with her eyes alone. According to Aphra, Batanya was one the best and strongest Britlingens available for hire, and “Supe rumor” had it that she had been in talks to join Clovache, Aphra’s grandmother, in guarding the King of Kentucky when Mr. Cataliades had made a higher bid for her services. “Supe rumor” also had it that the demon lawyer had offered Batanya double her usual asking price because she was so skilled.
Sookie didn’t like to contemplate the costs of the Britlingen’s service; however, she wouldn’t let herself feel bad for Mr. Cataliades either. If he felt the need to make things up to her, the telepath was going to let him in this case. Since the night he’d made his revelations to her, Sookie had learned more about fairies from Eric. Hesitantly, he’d even told her about the reputations of Neave and Lochlan. Ultimately, after hearing his words, Sookie had been extremely grateful that her parents had merely been drowned, a fact that she was certain of since she’d seen their corpses from Bud Dearborn’s head long before they’d been cleaned up for their caskets.
The telepath shook herself from that memory and focused on the fact that she would no longer need to worry about the likes of Neave and Lochlan. They would be no match for Batanya, who could quite literally work all day and all night. According to Eric, she could kick major fairy ass. Also, according to Eric, Batanya could even kick his ass, though a fight between them would be a close call.
Sookie had quite literally “felt” Eric’s void “soften” when Batanya had arrived—as if a weight was off his shoulders. He’d been worried about the fairy threat—much more than he’d let on. Eric could now assure her (and himself) that Batanya could take on anything that arrived during the day time.
A small army of “anythings,” in fact.
As Eric and Sookie had discussed and agreed upon, Batanya would remain “cloaked” most of the time to preserve the secret of her presence. Moreover, it was clear that the Britlingen preferred it that way! Sookie hadn’t needed Aphra to tell her that Britlingen guards were all business when they worked—even more so than Thalia and Maria-Star, whose stony demeanors still seemed un-chippable. Sookie was okay with that, though she had a feeling that she would “crack” at least one of those two—eventually. In fact, she and Pam had made a bet as to which one would crack first. Pam thought Maria-Star would be the one. Sookie was betting on Thalia.
Needless to say, she wouldn’t be betting on Batanya “cracking” any time soon, and it was clear that she’d have no interest whatsoever in attending the Christmas Eve gathering.
Sookie had contemplated inviting Sam to the get-together, but ultimately decided against it. Sam hadn’t given her any reason to doubt his friendship since their heart-to-heart talk the week before, but she didn’t want to risk an awkward situation when the vampires in her life showed up to the party after sundown. And—to be frank—she cared about their comfort a lot more than she cared about Sam’s Christmas Eve plans.
Turning her thoughts to those vampire guests, Sookie smiled to herself. Pam, Bubba, and Molly were all planning to attend. She’d invited Padma, but the beauty would be with her vampire sister that night, and Thalia would be on duty. Of course, Eric would be coming to the party; she felt herself warm a little at the prospect of seeing him—though she’d said goodnight to him less than twelve hours before.
“There’s your Eric smile again,” Tara said with mock chiding.
The telepath blushed. “Yeah,” she admitted.
“So? How’s all of that goin’? Still good? Wait—let me rephrase. Still great?” she amended with a knowing smile.
Sookie sighed. “Yeah.”
“Any details you’re willing to share?” Tara giggled.
“Same old, same old,” the telepath grinned widely.
Tara knew by now what that meant: long talks, both about super-secret “Supe” stuff and personal stuff; lots of “necking,” kissing, and light groping; and even more snuggling.
After talking things over with Sookie, Tara had been happy to get glamoured so that she couldn’t talk about the Supe stuff she was aware of, which was only a little compared to Sookie. Or—at least—Tara couldn’t talk about her knowledge with humans. She was free to talk about it with Sookie and other Supes—like Tray.
“That’s Tray’s smile,” Sookie whispered knowingly.
Tara nodded but put her finger over her mouth. She definitely knew about Supe hearing. She mouthed the word “later,” to which the telepath nodded.
Of course, from Tara’s head, Sookie had already picked up the fact that things were going really well with Tray. As they’d only been on two dates, they hadn’t had sex yet, but Tara thought it was only a matter of time.
Just like her and Eric. The telepath sighed as she mixed a green bean casserole.
She and Eric had spent extensive time together every night since he brought her home from her Monday-night meeting with the demon. Tuesday, she’d done her practicing at Fangtasia, and Wednesday, she and Eric had dealt with the Jason situation before Eric had taken Sookie with him for several meetings with some of his business associates. The night before, they’d had their second “official date,” going to the Supernatural restaurant, Les Deux Poissons, since Sookie had loved the take-out she’d had from there and wanted to see what it was like firsthand. The meal had been lovely, as had been meeting Amelia, the witch who had a talent for stasis spells. After dinner and a bit of dancing, Eric had taken Sookie to a lake in the middle of nowhere, where the vampire had built a bonfire and had begun teaching her about the constellations which had once guided his own sea voyages.
They’d been interrupted briefly by Tara’s call, but—other than that—they’d been able to shut out the rest of the world for hours.
Since Monday (after the meeting with Desmond Cataliades), Eric had stayed over in her cubby every day. Sookie had greatly enjoyed his company in her home and found that she slept better when she could fall asleep in his strong arms. She was ready to wake up in those arms.
She hid the blush that rose with that thought by turning away from Tara to put her casserole in the oven, a difficult task, given the number of dishes already in the space; then she refocused on the training she’d done earlier in the week. All in all, it was going along very well! Diantha, who was also a telepath, even gave Sookie a few pointers, which she’d been very grateful for.
Through Diantha’s guidance and practice, Sookie’s range had increased to the point that she could pick up people as far away as Bill’s house, though she couldn’t hear specific thoughts from that distance. At closer range, she was now able to move from head to head much more quickly and without becoming overwhelmed—just as she’d been doing with Jackson’s team, who’d just finished the first main part of the project. She smiled at that knowledge and inserted herself into Jackson’s head (he was the most visual broadcaster) so that she could “see” the work better.
It looked great!
Unfortunately, constant “jumping” between brains did tire Sookie out after about fifteen minutes, but she could feel when that fatigue was coming. She’d already discovered that she could “rest” to a certain extent by taking Eric’s hand at such times. It was as if he could “shield her,” so that she could “rest” her own shields. By “resting,” she had already staved off a couple of potential migraines. Of course, Eric’s inadvertent shielding was experimented with too, and the couple found that—even holding Eric’s hand—Sookie could still hear others around her if she tried. In the end, they determined that the vampire was quite literally like a “mute” button for the telepath. However, she could “switch on the sound” without breaking her hold on him any time she wanted.
And that was a good thing for a variety of reasons, mostly because she liked it when they touched—indeed, she was liking it more and more each night—even if that touch was simply the holding of hands under the table.
Though the telepath had worried about all that she might hear once she opened herself up, Sookie hadn’t found “listening” at Fangtasia to be that bad. Lust-filled thoughts had a certain “texture” to them, so—unless that kind of thought was also influenced by some kind of bad intention—Sookie could simply skip the minds which were focused only on lust, and—at Fangtasia—that meant a lot of minds! With Diantha’s help, Sookie had also learned how to almost immediately recognize when a thought was laced with a bad intention; those thoughts were a little rough—almost like sandpaper in her mind.
During the night she’d listened at Fangtasia, Sookie had discovered around a dozen underage patrons, a cop who was out to score V for himself, two V dealers, a drainer, and several Fellowship members. Some of those Fellowship members fashioned themselves as “prayer warriors” who entered Fangtasia to quite literally sit in a corner, nurse ginger ales, and pray for the redemption of the fangbangers and the damnation of vampires.
Thalia had taken to hissing at these “warriors” when Sookie was safely tucked next to Eric in a booth.
The vampiress found sport in it.
Frankly, neither Sookie nor Eric minded the “prayer-warrior” kind of Fellowship parishioner. Sure—they were misguided, but Sookie could tell that their hearts weren’t evil. On the other hand, a few hardcore Fellowship members had entered the club to do reconnaissance. They were glamoured for more information and then followed.
Ironically, Sookie had found more “crime” in the heads of Eric’s business associates, though that wrongdoing wasn’t geared toward the vampire himself. It was targeted at their human clients and colleagues. They were too scared of Eric to try to swindle him.
Still, at Sookie’s suggestion, the vampire had cut ties with the most crooked of his business associates. She worried that it was only a matter of time before the man was found out to be guilty of several crimes, and she didn’t want Eric to be implicated in any way. The vampire agreed with her logic. In addition, anonymous tips were sent to the humans the crook had been stealing from—at Sookie’s request, of course.
After her “listening” shifts, Eric had also been giving her brief lessons about the Supernatural world—often on the drive to or from Bon Temps. She still had a lot of work to do and a lot to learn, but—after the new year—Eric felt that she’d be ready to “open up business”—at least, for a few select clients, such as the vampires in Eric’s area that wanted their own human colleagues or day-people “read” and Colonel Flood, who had already asked for Sookie’s services to “secretly read” a few of his pack-members.
Yes, the training was going well, but it was the personal—the one-on-one—time that Sookie spent with Eric that she most treasured. She fell in love with him more every day, and she was ready to take their physical relationship to the next level. Indeed, her Christmas gift to him would make that desire pretty clear. She quickly jumped from mind to mind of the Were workers to check their progress and then blushed as she saw that one of them was working on the feature that would give Eric the biggest hint that she was ready to become more intimate with him.
“Now that is an Eric blush,” Tara accused playfully.
Sookie grinned, but didn’t even try to deny the truth of the observation.
A/N: Well? What did you think? I know that this chapter had a lot of narration, but I wanted to get you caught up with what happened between Mr. Cataliades’s visit (on the previous Monday) and Christmas Eve (a Friday). But I didn’t want to write whole chapters about those events. I hope that everything makes sense as Sookie considers the jampacked week she’d just had. Please consider reviewing if you have the time and the inclination. I always love hearing what you have to say.