Chapter 4: We Never Change
It had been over a week now since the death of Eric’s maker and his “brother”, but I hadn’t seen him since the following night. He’d called several times, but always seemed distant and distracted. He wouldn’t answer my questions about what was going on, but I was sure it had to do with his plan to deal with Victor.
Pam had stopped by twice, I’m sure to “guard” me, but she wasn’t very helpful either. All she would tell me was that her maker was handling the situation. I was beginning to desperately wish that someone would tell me what was going on.
Dermot seemed to be doing his best to keep my mind on my “magic” training whenever I wasn’t at work. I seemed to be having a little more success at gather and recognizing my magic, but using it had only been to slight success. I’d managed to call a bird to myself only once more, and I was frustrated by the lack of progress. It surprised me how exhausted I was at the end of every day. Between my shifts at Merlotte’s and my training, I could hardly wait to crawl into bed at night. I was doing my best to focus on my training each day, but every day that went by without Eric only made me think of him more.
“Focus!” Dermot admonished me, I think for the twentieth time, but hey, who was counting. I tried to pull my mind from my absent vampire and focus on the fairy uncle I was very much starting to wish was absent.
Fixing my uncle with a glare, I replied, “I’m trying! But I can’t do it!” I could hear the frustration seeping into my voice but I couldn’t help it. For the last two days Dermot had been pushing me harder and had moved on to trying to teach me how to teleport. I guess that was the correct term for it and not “pop”, though that sounded more accurate to me. I wasn’t trying to teleport very far either, just from the backyard to my kitchen, but I wasn’t making any kind of progress.
“Your mind is wondering too much, focus on the task at hand,” he said. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard that either.
“Why have we moved on to teleporting so quickly?” I asked. “You said earlier in the week that I might not be ready for months yet to try it, why the sudden rush?”
Suddenly Dermot looked nervous, and his tense demeanor reminded me of how he’d been while he was cursed. He gracefully shifted ever so slightly from foot to foot, clearly trying to decide what to say.
Finally, it hit me. “Oh! You saw something didn’t you!” I gasped.
Dermot studied me for several seconds before he reluctantly nodded.
“What did you see?” I asked, stepping closer and taking my uncle’s hand. After a week of living with my uncle, I was beginning to embrace the touchy-feely thing—at least with my uncle.
“It is more a feeling, than anything I saw,” he finally said hesitantly. I squeezed his hand and nodded for him to continue. “Something is coming, and I just want to make sure that you are as prepared as I can make you.”
We stood in the backyard for several moments, me silently considering my uncle’s words. “So you decided to ramp up the magic training,” I eventually said.
“Yes, but perhaps I have pushed you enough for one day,” he replied with a sigh. I started to argue, thinking that if something was coming, damn straight, I wanted to be prepared, but my uncle cut me off. “No, I think we have truly done enough for one day, you are exhausted and we are due in at the shifter’s bar for this evening’s shift.” At least when Dermot called Sam “the shifter” it didn’t sound like he was some kind of disease; it was just a simple statement of fact.
Dermot had continued to come in to work with me, and Sam had eventually decided to try teaching him to bartend. It seemed like we could always use another one, and Sam was getting busier and busier just actually running Merlotte’s so he wasn’t able to bartend much himself anymore. I was surprised at how quickly he was able to learn how to make all of the various drinks, and he was great handling the drunks. When he told someone that they were done and that they should go home, they’d never fight him on it, even Jane Bodehouse. Being a half-fairy he wasn’t deathly allergic to lemons, at least if they only touched his skin, but they did bother him, so I always cut a bunch up for him at the beginning of the shift and then he would serve them with toothpicks. All in all, he was proving to be real useful to have around.
Dermot and I had just gotten in to work our shift when Sam asked me to talk with him in his office.
“Sure, what’s up Sam?” I asked as I put my purse away in my drawer.
“Well, it sounds like my brother’s wedding is for sure back on,” he explained.
“Oh, that’s just great Sam. I’m sure he must be relieved. Have they set the date?” I asked, sitting down on the chair across from Sam’s desk.
He leaned back in his chair. “That’s the thing, cher; he wants to have the wedding quickly now that his fiancé’s family is onboard again. They’re planning to have it this weekend.”
“This weekend? Wow, that’s really soon. That’s like four days, soon.”
“I know it’s short notice, but I was wondering if you still wanted to go with me,” he asked, giving those damn puppy-dog eyes. “I already checked and your boss will give you time off work.”
I rolled my eyes at that. “Yeah, my boss is pretty understanding,” I teased. “I should be able to go, but I need to tell Eric, and let him know I’ll be out of town.”
I could tell that Sam wanted to say something about that, but he only nodded his head in understanding.
I stood up to make my way out of Sam’s office. “Well, I should start my shift, I’ll let you know after I talk to Eric and we can go over travel arrangements,” I said.
Making my way out to the bar, I saw my uncle already hard at work. He was smiling and flirting away with a couple of women at the bar. Either he had a way with women too, or he’d taken a page out of Jason’s book. I was starting to see more of the differences between Dermot and Jason as I spent time with my uncle, but seeing him shamelessly flirting like this I couldn’t help but think how much like Jason he did look. As a matter of fact, I was pretty sure that both of the women he was serving at the bar were women Jason “dated” at one time or another. Maybe it was good for Jason’s doppelganger to be around for them to focus their attentions on since my brother really seemed to be trying to give him and Michelle a go.
Which reminded me, he’d called to invite me over to his place to barbeque this weekend if I had time off, but it looked like I was going to have to call him and tell him I couldn’t come. And that reminded me that I was going to have to call Eric and let him know too. That was a phone call I wasn’t really looking forward to.
We got through our shift without incident. A small group of protesters had been back a few days ago, but Dermot had sent them off just like the one before. I was hoping Lattesta would finally give up on that idea and maybe leave me and Sam alone, but I had a feeling he would just look for a new idea.
When we finally got home, I really was exhausted. Dermot went straight upstairs without a word. Sometimes he still seemed a little overwhelmed with all of the human interaction at the bar, but I guess I couldn’t blame him since he’d been living under a curse for who knew how long.
Just as I was picking up the phone to call Eric, there was a knock at the door. I was surprised to see Pam standing there in her black Fangtasia wear. All leather and latex.
“What’s up Pam?” I asked with my eyebrow raised. It seemed kind of late for a social call.
“My master asks for your company tomorrow evening at Fangtasia,” Pam informed me with an unpleasant look on her face. I had to smirk at her wording. She obviously seemed to find it distasteful to say that Eric was asking for me to come by, but I was impressed that Eric seemed to be learning and hadn’t requested or demanded my presence again, like I was some dog that should come when he said “heel”.
“Well, I work the lunch shift tomorrow, so that should work out I guess, what does Eric need to have me come to Fangtasia for?” I couldn’t help but asking.
We’d been standing in my entryway, but Pam moved past me into the living room and sat down in the armchair. “How should I know?” Pam replied waving it away. “He sends me to deliver a message, so I deliver a message.”
“They did invent phones a while back, he could have called me,” I said.
Pam raised an elegant eyebrow at me. Even in leather and latex, Pam could pull off elegant. “Yes, I am quite aware of the concept. I was also told to check the perimeter of your home,” she explained.
I thought about that, and then asked, “So, is Eric expecting trouble?”
Pam actually laughed at that. “With you? Of course, my master is always expecting trouble. Just now however, he deems it necessary to be more cautious. Is your fairy still around?” Now that I looked at Pam, I could see that she was struggling to keep her fangs up. I really wish it were easier to have my vamps around my fairy relatives. At least without my vamps wanting to eat my relatives.
“Yeah, Dermot is upstairs, why? What’s going on?” Eric taking extra precautions, coupled with what Dermot couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me earlier today was really starting to make me nervous.
Pam waved the matter away with her hand again, but did answer, “Nothing for you to concern yourself overly with. After the trouble with Bruno and Corinna, Eric is simply being carefully. More than that, you will have to ask my master yourself.”
Standing up, Pam made her way to the door again. “Now I have given you my master’s message, and checked your home, so I shall be on my way.”
I considered waiting to tell Eric until tomorrow night about the wedding I was going to with Sam, but I figured I better give him as much heads up as I could. Maybe he would be easier to deal with about the whole matter by tomorrow night when I got there. “Pam, listen, can you let Eric know that Sam’s brother’s wedding is back on for this weekend, and I told Sam months ago that I would go with him to it, so I’m not going to be around this weekend,” I said in a rush.
Pam smirked at that. “Oh, that’s rich. I’m going to love informing my master that his wife is going to be going on a date with the dog to a wedding. He’s going to love that,” she said sarcastically with that usual glint in her eye she got when she found something to tease Eric with.
I rolled my eyes at both her wife comment, and the usual dog comment. “It’s not a date,” I said, deciding to ignore the wife part. “And his name is Sam, not “the dog” or “the shifter”. I’m going as his friend because I promised him months ago.”
Pam was still smirking as she left. “I will deliver your message to my master,” she said, and then she was gone.
As I closed the door, I wondered what kind of blowback I was going to face the next night.
The next day at work went by just as uneventfully as the night before. As soon as we got back from work, since I was going to Fangtasia that night, we worked on my training. Knowing from both Eric and Dermot that something was coming, I redoubled my efforts to focus and concentrate on what my uncle was trying to teach me. I still wasn’t able to teleport yet, but I was able to call three birds, so I considered it a marked progress.
After I had showered and changed, I said good-bye to Dermot and headed for Shreveport. Dermot of course chose to stay behind. He said he would find something to do, but I wasn’t ever really sure what he did when he wasn’t with me. I doubted he spent his time with Claude at his strip club, but I didn’t ask.
Pam was waiting at the door when I walked up to the front of Fangtasia. “You look quite delicious my friend,” she said, looking me over.
It was the first time since the fairy war that I was somewhat comfortable wearing anything revealing again. I still felt like people could see the scars, even though most of them were pretty minimal now. I was wearing a dark blue dress that fell to my knees and tied around my neck in a halt-top style. I had gotten it from Tara before the fairy war, but hadn’t had a chance or been willing to wear it until now.
“Thanks Pam,” I said as I started to walk in. She took my elbow to lead me in, flicking her fingers at another vampire I didn’t know to take over door duty. I leaned in close to Pam to ask, “The fairy smell isn’t too bad is it?” I whispered. I’d tried to be very careful after my shower to not touch anything or get too close to anything that might have been touched too much by Claude or Dermot. I didn’t want to come to a vamp bar and incite a riot—or an orgy.
Pam leaned in and sniffed me. “Mmmm, it is slightly stronger than your usual fragrance, but not noticeable,” she assured me.
She continued to lead me to Eric’s usual booth. Eric stood as we got closer, his fangs running out as he took me in. I blushed at his stare, but it was oddly comforting to know that after everything I’d been through, I could still have this affect on him. Eric took my hand when I stopped in front of him and pulled me into a sweet, gentle kiss.
When I pulled away, I looked Eric over, taking in his tight black jeans and dark grey silk shirt. Eric of course caught me looking him over. “Do I meet your approval, lover?” he asked with a grin.
I shook my head at him and slid into his booth. Instead of sitting across from me, he slid in beside me, pulling me close into his side. “You look quite edible this evening, my lover,” Eric whispered into my ear.
I shivered, but decided to get down to business. “Why did you want me to come here tonight, Eric?” I asked.
Eric’s eyebrow rose as he looked down at me. “Do I need a reason to wish to see my wife?”
“Come on Eric, something’s been going on that’s been keeping you busy, and then you suddenly want me to show up tonight. What’s up?” I persisted.
One of the new waitresses stopped to drop off drinks for Eric and me. I sipped my usual gin and tonic as I peered at Eric, waiting for his answer. “In addition to seeing you, lover, I was wondering if I could hire you to screen my potential hires for a new day-man,” he said cautiously.
I tensed up, not feeling comfortable about my boyfriend, husband, or whatever, hiring me for something. Eric sensed this, “I knew you would object lover, but your services are valuable, and I would gladly pay for them.”
“I dunno, Eric. We’re in a relationship, I’m not sure I feel comfortable having you pay me. Why don’t I just do it for you, you don’t need to pay me.”
Eric sighed in exasperation, “Lover, I would pay good money for your services, this is strictly professional. This, for me, is for business, so let’s keep it business and let me pay you.”
I sighed, knowing he wouldn’t give up, “We’ll see.”
We sat together quietly for a while, Eric had draped his arm over my shoulder and was rubbing soothing circles into my arm. I relaxed and leaned my head against Eric, but I wasn’t ready to give up on trying to get information out of Eric yet. “So are you going to tell me what you’ve been up to?” I questioned quietly.
I could feel Eric look around the bar. He replied back just as quietly, “We have been making some progress on our problem, but that is not for you to worry about,” he squeezed my shoulder in warning. I wasn’t sure if he didn’t want to talk about it at all, or just not in the bar. “When were you going to tell me about leaving the state with the shifter,” he finally asked with a slight edge to his voice.
Sighing, I gave a slight smile and said, “You make it sound like I’m running away with Sam or something. I’m just going with him to his brother’s wedding. I think he’s afraid to have his family meet his girlfriend yet.”
Eric looked at me in surprise. “The mutt managed to find another mutt to chase rabbits with?”
I rolled my eyes at him. “His name is Sam,” I said. I was getting tired of having to correct him and Pam. “And he’s dating a Were from Alcide’s pack,” I explained.
Eric simply nodded. “I take it I cannot talk you out of accompanying the shi— Sam, to this event?” he questioned.
I smiled, happy that Eric seemed to be learning. “I promised him months ago,” I repeated.
I was surprised that Eric wasn’t fighting this more. “That’s it, you’re ok with this?” I asked.
Eric gave a short laugh. “Being ok with it and accepting it are two different things. If I have learned anything about you, it is that you are incredibly stubborn. I could sit here and argue with you, and you would still go, or I can accept it and save the hassle and time I would spend arguing, doing something more pleasurable. Besides, I know you would not run off with the mongrel, not when you are married to such a handsome catch,” Eric told me, waggling his eyebrows.
I laughed, “Conceited much?”
It was Eric’s turn to laugh, “Confident, lover. I know you are loyal; it is one of the many attributes I admire in you. It is Merlotte that I do not trust.”
I poked him in the side, “Well, just remember that I’m trustworthy.”
Eric grunted. “I still do not like you leaving the state right now, but perhaps it will be for the best for you to be out of the area, although, I will have to speak with Merlotte about your safety.”
I started to object, but stopped. I’d been through enough lately to learn that I should probably leave my safety to Eric. Eric seemed to sense my inner debate, and when I didn’t object gave a self-satisfied grin. I was tempted to poke him again for his “confidence”.
Eric slid out of the booth and held his hand out to me. “Come, dance with me, I desire to see you move in that dress.”
At the moment, they were playing some hard rock song that I just couldn’t see Eric dancing to. I really wasn’t sure I wanted to dance anyway. I was starting to feel confident enough to wear some of my nicer dresses again, but I wasn’t sure about dancing with Eric and having everyone watch us. “I can’t dance to this stuff,” I said in excuse.
Eric wasn’t taking “no” for an answer, he pulled me out of the booth, pointing to the DJ and saying, “Go and tell them to play another song then.” Most of the time the bar just played the radio, but Pam had talked Eric into trying a vampire DJ a couple of times a month.
Reluctantly, I made my way over to the DJ, trying to think of something to ask them to play. As I came to a stop in front of the DJ, the perfect song came to mind. I leaned down to whisper the song in the vampire’s ear so that Eric wouldn’t hear me. The DJ smiled and said he could download the song within a couple of seconds. I smiled and made my way back to Eric.
Just as Eric was taking my hands, the first low beats of the song began to play. Eric cocked his head to the side, listening to the first few lines of Carly Simon’s song.
You walked into the party
Like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye in the mirror
As you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and
You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? Don’t you?
Eric threw back his head and laughed long and hard at the first line of the chorus. The whole bar came to a standstill to watch him, I’m sure no one expected to see any vampire, let alone this vampire, laughing. Eric drew me into his arms again, and we began to dance. The song actually had a great beat to swing dance to, and Eric’s good mood was infectious. “Touché, lover, touché. You certainly never bore me, my wife,” he said as he began to swing me around. For a big guy, Eric was actually a great dancer, and I was no slouch on the dance floor either. I soon found myself smiling and laughing along with Eric as we danced.
Too soon, the song was over. It seemed to have worked Eric up again, judging by his fangs anyway, and soon he was pulling me out of the bar. “When do you work again, lover?” he breathed into my neck as he wrapped his arms around me from behind. The back hallway to his office and the backdoor was thankfully deserted.
“I have to work the dinner shift tomorrow,” I replied as I folded my arms over his around my middle.
“Perfect,” he purred, grinding into my backside. “Come home with me tonight,” he said as he took my hand and began leading me towards the backdoor.
“Hold on, Eric. I drove here. I need to go get my car so I can get home tomorrow,” I said. I also knew I’d have to get up a little earlier than I normally would, so that I could get home for some training with my uncle before work. I felt a little uneasy about the fact that I hadn’t mentioned it to Eric yet, but I wasn’t really sure what to tell him. That I could sometimes call birds? That didn’t seem at all helpful.
“I will arrange for Pam to bring your car to my place before dawn,” he replied, once again leading me towards his Corvette. I sighed and went along with him, but I didn’t really feel all that put out, I was feeling as anxious as he was since it had been more than a week for us.
Eric settled me into the Corvette, and we were off.
A/N: Not a lot of action in this chapter, it’s kind of a filler chapter, but it was needed to get a couple of little things out of the way and set some things up for later. It was kind of nice to work in some lighthearted interaction between Eric and Sookie too. There should be more action coming up.
Just FYI, there’s kind of a lot of things that are left hanging in the balance so to speak after Dead in the Family and I’ll probably not being handling every one of them. I probably won’t deal with the FBI thing much, and I definitely won’t focus on the Weres very much like the last book did. They’re will probably be a few other things as well.
Anyway, let me know what you guys thought! Can’t wait for True Blood tonight!