Eric had had a psychic once. That was the thought going through my mind as I dialed Fangtasia’s number.
If he believed in those, could he believe the possibility that I was a time traveler?
“Fangtasia—the bar with bite,” a bored-sounding voice greeted.
I smiled at the sound! I couldn’t help myself. There was no way in Hell that Pam would ever be in Merlotte’s Heaven—or any Heaven!
For the first time, I let a hopeful thought run free into my mind: Had the cluviel dor sent me back to the past? To change things? To make amends?
Was I still alive?
I took a deep breath, knowing I would need to tread carefully with the vampiress.
“I have a message for Eric Northman,” I said, trying to sound confident.
“No—he doesn’t sleep in a coffin. Unless the occasion calls for it,” she said drolly.
“I didn’t say that I had an asinine question for him,” I stated tartly, though I was trying to keep my voice low. I’d never quite determined just how good Bill’s hearing was.
Pam’s laughter made me smile wider. “What’s your message then? Are you wantin’ to know if he’s got time to bite you tonight?” she added sarcastically, affecting a thick Southern accent.
I scoffed and shook my head. “Eric bites only what he can tolerate,” I returned.
“True enough,” Pam responded, sounding slightly intrigued.
I took another deep breath. “Tell him that a vampire named Bill Compton has just walked into Merlotte’s, a bar in Bon Temps.”
“Where’s that?” she asked.
“Area 5,” I whispered. “And I figured that the Sheriff of Area 5 would want to know that a vampire has been sent by the queen to poach in his area.”
“Who are you?” Pam asked, suddenly sounding a lot more interested. And a little angry.
“Eric had a psychic once,” I whispered before hanging up.
I took a few steadying breaths.
I hadn’t lied. I’d just misled. And I really hoped that my words would be enough to convince Eric to make an impromptu trip in my direction.
Terry brought me my burger a few minutes later, and—oddly enough—I found myself suddenly starving.
I saved the raw yellow onions on the burger for last. I blessed Terry for remembering that I liked extra. I recalled that I’d stopped indulging in them after I started dating Bill.
He’d hated the smell of onions!
I belched as I walked back into the bar. I almost laughed as Sam and Bill were the only ones to look in my direction; however, I managed to pretend as if I hadn’t just made the “unladylike” sound. After all, I wasn’t supposed to know either of them could hear my bodily functions from such a distance.
“Feeling better?” Sam asked me when I approached the bar.
“Much!” I slathered on my “crazy Sookie” grin.
“I took care of your tables while you were on break,” Sam relayed.
“Thanks so much,” I returned sincerely.
He looked at me funny, inhaled, and frowned. Good—he could smell the onions. I usually brushed my teeth if I ate something during my break.
But I was prepared to get fewer tips because of my “onionness” if it also worked as a vampire deterrent.
I noticed that the Rattrays were gone already. Apparently, Bill had felt no need at all to interact with them since I’d not been in the room, which lent a lot of proof to my theory that he’d glamoured them to attack him.
And then me three nights later.
So that Bill could get his blood into me.
But—then again—from our first moments of interaction (the first time around), I’d behaved in a way that would indicate to Bill that I was “different.” Hell—I’d practically gaped and jumped up and down when he’d been silent to me. Thus, to test me for telepathy, the methodical Bill had likely decided at the last minute to use the Rattrays. They were convenient.
But not this time.
I intended to behave differently this time. Whether I was in Heaven, Hell, a dream, or the past—Bill would not be finding out about my telepathy!
I checked on my tables from the back of my section to the front—methodically. When I finally got to Bill, he stared at me as if trying to figure me out.
I smiled broadly, exhaled sharply, and pushed out my chest shamelessly, trying to look like a dumb blonde bimbo—a smelly one. “Can I get you another glass of wine?” I asked, wondering why Sam hadn’t offered Bill a TrueBlood before remembering that the bit we’d gotten after the Great Revelation had expired about a month before Bill showed up.
“No thank you,” he said, glancing at the full glass of wine in front of him.
“How ’bout somethin’ to eat?” I offered as if ignorant of what he was. Taking a cue from Pam, I also exaggerated my accent for effect. “Um—we ain’t got a lot that’ll go with your wine, Mister, but maybe cheese fries?” I suggested.
I got a slight feeling of pleasure as Bill blanched at the thought.
“I hear wine and cheese pair real well,” I went on. “How ’bout nachos? We got some jarred jalapeños that we can put on ’em”
“Just bring me the check,” he said as if nauseated—before catching my eye. “And you will come out to the parking lot to visit with me in ten minutes time,” he added in a low voice.
“The check and a visit,” I nodded mindlessly doing my best impression of a glamour “victim.”
I hurried off, shaking my head as if shaking myself out of a daze. I knew Bill would be watching me. But I also knew that he’d think that his glamour had worked.
I just hoped that the supposed gentleman wouldn’t bite me—wouldn’t notice that I smelled different from other humans. And I also hoped that I could keep my emotions in check. Luckily, even though I felt like I was in the middle of the Sixth Sense—seeing dead people (who were not vampires)—I made myself feel the numbness I’d been carrying with me since the previous day.
Or—the future day.
However one wanted to look at it.
I knew things would be even more difficult once Eric showed up—if he showed up. I almost hoped that he would send Pam, but—knowing him—he’d want an excuse to get away from the boredom of the vermin.
I just had to mentally prepare myself not to jump into his arms the moment I saw him.
EIGHT MINUTES LATER
I’d found the opportunity to eat several more rings of raw onions since Bill had left the restaurant. And a few jalapeños too.
Trying to keep my wits about me, I’d kept a close eye on the clock.
Exactly ten minutes after Bill had ordered me to do so, I stepped out of the back door and into the parking lot as if I were in a stupor.
My shields were all the way down, and—thank God—the Rattrays were nowhere to be found. But I sensed a void. Still, I showed no reaction as Bill came up to me suddenly.
“You are Sookie Stackhouse,” he said, looking me in the eye, once again “capturing me” with his glamour.
I nodded obediently. “Uh-huh.”
“Speak with words,” he ordered impatiently.
“Yes,” I said, exhaling heavily. “I’m Sookie.”
He frowned, clearly noticing the onions and jalapeños. Served the asshole right!
“You are the cousin of Hadley Delahoussaye?” he asked, sounding bored.
Again I nodded in affirmation. “Yes.”
“You will answer ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir,'” he ordered superiorly.
I supposed I’d not noticed this on the night I’d originally met him because he was interested in me and, therefore, put on his Southern charm for me. Now I knew how he treated “normal” people.
“Yes sir,” I said dreamily.
“Hadley has conveyed that you can read thoughts. Can you?” he asked.
“Conveyed?” I asked, furrowing my brow as if I didn’t understand the word.
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Can you read my thoughts, Miss Stackhouse?”
“No sir,” I said truthfully, even as I felt another void approaching. I used all of my strength to keep my emotions in check.
A thud signaled Eric’s landing.
“Why—if it isn’t Bill Compton!” the Viking enthused, looking at Bill and then at me.
I felt my heart quickening. Fuck!
Calm. I needed to stay calm.
Bill looked at me suspiciously, so I pretended to be the stereotypical human amazed by vampire abilities.
“You flew!” I said dumbly—dumbfounded. “That’s not possible.”
“No—it is not,” Bill said, catching my eye again.
“It’s not,” I agreed, “taken in” by his glamour once more. “Are you Superman?” I added, dreamily looking at Eric.
The vampire chuckled, and the sound of it seemed to warm the world. However, I somehow managed to not respond to Eric’s voice—deep, disturbing, and beautiful as it was.
“He is not Superman,” Bill said insistently, after he—once again—caught my eye.
“That is a matter of opinion,” Eric smirked.
Luckily, I’d done a good enough job of getting my emotions in check, or Eric’s presence was distracting Bill. Either way, the younger vampire no longer seemed suspicious of me.
The older one just looked amused.
“Don’t tell me that you are attempting to feed on this poor woman, Billy Boy,” Eric said facetiously. “And against her will too? You know that it is illegal to feed without consent these days,” the Viking added with a smirk that I had to try hard not to smile at.
“I am on assignment for the queen,” Bill said gruffly.
“What assignment would send you to my area without my knowledge of it?” Eric asked coolly.
Thankfully, the two vampires were now ignoring me.
Bill considered what he wanted to say for a few moments, and—when he did speak—it was to protest his “innocence.”
Some things never changed.
“Queen Sophie-Anne has a pet named Hadley,” Bill informed.
“I am aware of her,” Eric nodded. “The queen is extremely selfish when it comes to sharing her, however.”
“I know,” Bill agreed flatly.
I held back my cringe—with difficulty. Thinking of Hadley with Bill was—yuck! Thinking of Hadley with Eric was—well—unthinkable!
“Hadley—as it turns out—is quite a storyteller,” Bill relayed.
“Oh?” Eric asked.
Bill nodded. “One of her stories was that she had a telepathic cousin—a young woman named Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Not her?!” Eric chuckled, not even looking at me. I will admit that his reaction hurt a little.
But—then again—I did smell like onions.
And the lemons I’d just cut—so that I would send the message: “NOT A FAIRY!”
Rather than the signal that I was “vampire-nip.”
“Yes,” Bill responded. “Her,” he said somewhat distastefully.
“And the queen sent you to assess the situation?” Eric asked dispassionately—too dispassionately.
Apparently Bill thought so too; in my estimation, he was wise to look a little afraid.
“I’m sure she didn’t mean to circumvent your authority,” Bill replied quickly. “If the girl proved promising, I was to assert a claim on a descendant’s home in the area and pretend to be mainstreaming in order to conduct further reconnaissance. I would have reported to you at that point—of course.”
Eric didn’t look at Bill so much as he studied him.
Bill wasn’t up for the test.
He shifted on his feet uncomfortably and looked guilty as Hell!
“Of course. So—how goes your assessment?” the Viking asked.
“The girl smells better than the norm—despite stinking of grease, liquor, and horrific human food. But—then again—Hadley smells good too,” Bill commented. “However, I’ve seen no reason to suspect she is anything but ordinary. Under glamour, she just told me that she didn’t read minds.”
“Do you mind if I try questioning her?” Eric asked.
My heart skipped a beat.
I was glad that Bill didn’t seem to notice.
“Of course,” Bill said with a bow. “I’m sure the queen would value your appraisal.”
Eric turned to me, and I quickly became locked in his eyes.
He’d never needed glamour to draw in my attention, after all.
“Can you read my thoughts?” he asked me.
“No,” I responded.
“Can you read anyone’s thoughts?” he followed up. Clever vampire.
I’d already rehearsed my answer—as I’d eaten my Lafayette burger. They really were better when made with real beef.
“Just Hadley’s,” I responded, giggling as if I were stoned, “when we were kids.”
“What do you mean?” Eric probed.
“Jason and me used to play tricks on her,” I said. “He’d find out stuff about her—secrets—and I’d pretend I could hear them from her head. She was real mean to me, so it was fun to mess with her.”
Bill rolled his eyes. “I figured this fucking trip would all be for nothing,” he said with frustration. “Hadley is a fucking simpleton.”
“But a lovely one,” Eric observed. Again, I barely avoided cringing.
Bill’s fangs clicked downward. “I think I will try this human’s blood—before I leave—so that the evening is not a complete waste,” he added.
I wondered if the cluviel dor—or the rules of my “new life”—or the regulations of Merlotte’s Heaven—had kicked in when Sam came outside.
“What the fuck is goin’ on out here?” the shifter demanded with a growl, his eyes flashing to yellow.
“Just a little questioning,” Eric responded smoothly.
“Sook?” Sam asked concerned. I pretended to still be glamoured, of course.
Once again, I thanked God for the overall feeling of numbness that was still lingering in my body—in my soul. The surreal nature of my experience helped too—as did my years of practicing the art of “non-reaction.”
“She is fine. Untasted,” Eric assured, though with a bit of regret in his tone.
“What is going on here?” Sam asked again.
“Mr. Compton was sent to determine whether Sookie was special,” Eric answered calmly.
“Is she?” Bill asked Sam, obviously trying to trap the shifter with his glamour.
“Fuck you,” Sam told the younger vampire, much to Eric’s amusement.
“Don’t let it bother you,” Eric laughed. “Shifters are notoriously difficult to glamour.”
“I will return to the queen’s court tonight,” Bill practically pouted.
Eric nodded to him. “Please let Sophie-Anne know that I would be happy to help her in any matter.”
“You could help me with one matter,” Bill said suddenly—as if a light bulb had been turned on in his head.
“What’s that?” Eric asked.
“How did you know I was here?” Bill asked suspiciously.
“I didn’t know,” Eric responded immediately—smoothly. “I knew only that there was a vampire here—thanks to the shifter,” he added, motioning toward Sam. “I have many contacts that keep me fully-informed of the goings-on in my area,” the Viking added with just a touch of menace in his tone.
Eric had lied. I knew that. Sam knew that.
Bill clearly didn’t, however. I found myself wondering how often Bill had been fooled in his vampire life.
Honestly, I intended to be angry at Bill—as soon as I could truly “feel” again. After all, he was a rude asshole, disinterested in me—except that he wanted to taste me. Thinking back, I realized that I’d given myself completely away the first time we’d met.
Betraying how captivated I was by his silent mind.
Acting like a giddy fangirl.
Saving Bill—while wielding a chain—as if I was some kind of redneck superhero.
Bill would have deduced that I was telepathic right away. This time around, I knew that Bill couldn’t—wouldn’t—ever be trusted with that knowledge.
“You ought to release her from your glamour,” Eric told Bill.
Eric had already “freed me” from his own glamour, even as I’d been lost in my thoughts. But—honestly—being spaced out only helped me to appear unaffected by the Viking I loved.
Bill released me with a scoff, “instructed” that I was merely on a “break from my duties,” and then took off into the night.
“Leave us for a moment,” Eric told Sam, after he easily glamoured the shifter.
I watched Sam with surprise as he left robotically.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” I whispered to Eric as soon as Sam was inside.
His eyebrow rose sharply. “I’ve never met a shifter or a human who could resist my glamour,” he said playfully.
God—I’d missed this side of him. The one that was full of mischief—full of the joie de vivre.
Full of shit.
“You still haven’t,” I whispered.
He stepped toward me, looking down into my eyes. “You cannot be glamoured. What are you?” he asked with a twinkle in his bright blue eyes.
“I’m a waitress,” I returned somewhat playfully, allowing myself to enjoy being in Eric’s presence again.
I’d missed him so much.
“Are you a psychic?” he asked.
I shook my head. “No.”
“Are you the person Pam spoke to on the phone earlier?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Are you a telepath—as Bill thought you might be?”
I’d already decided that I needed to throw my lot in with Eric—to tell him the truth about “me.” If I truly had traveled in time, Eric had been responsible for my voyage. Moreover, I’d poisoned myself, so it was quite possible that Eric’s wish and the cluviel dor had—quite literally—saved my life. Saved me from myself.
So I owed him my life.
Plus—honestly—even if I were crazy or dead, it didn’t matter. I was just glad to have so many people back! I couldn’t even fathom how I was going to react when I saw Gran!
In truth, seeing Eric made me want to crawl out of my skin—and crawl into his skin! But I had to keep reminding myself that he didn’t know me.
So—yes. I was going to tell Eric that I was a telepath. In fact, I planned to tell him everything and then let him decide for himself if I was insane or not.
But I found that I could say only one thing as I looked up into his impossibly blue eyes—eyes I’d thought I would never see again.
“I love you, Eric.”
A/N: Well—what did you think of her last line? LOL. Poor Sookie.
I loved all of your speculations about the vampire who’d entered Merlotte’s. I know that many of you were hoping it was Eric and that he’d remembered along with Sookie. Unfortunately, it was Bill. I know that you are all disappointed that Bill’s not dead yet, but I hope that you are happy with Sookie. If I were her, I wouldn’t have been able to keep it together at seeing Eric. Of course, even though Sookie is beginning to think that “her” Eric’s wish brought her back in time, she’s still trapped somewhat in the surreality of the situation.
Anyway, thanks so much for reading, and I hope that you will comment when you find the time.
Until the next,
Thanks to Kleannhouse and Seph for everything!