I was crying as I stood at the sink, in my Gran’s kitchen, trying to wash the blood off my hands. It wouldn’t come off no matter how hard I scrubbed. It was as if the blood had permanently stained my skin.
A wrinkled hand reached out from behind me to turn off the water. I refused to turn around and face the person I knew was standing behind me. I wouldn’t be able to handle the disappointment I knew I’d see in her eyes.
“It’s no use, child. Blood always stains.” Gran said softly, “I’m afraid it will be on your hands forever.”
“I’m sorry.” I cried, as I turned around to wrap my arms around her waist in a tight hug. I was so afraid she would hate me for what I’d done. “I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to do it.”
“Hush child.” Gran whispered as she stroked my hair. “Better her than you or someone you love.”
“But now everyone will know I’m a bad person.” I said desperately, as I stepped back from her and looked at my blood stained hands. “Everyone will see.”
“What have I always told you Sookie? Don’t let others shape the way you see yourself.” She said sternly. “Do you think you’re a bad person?”
“I killed her, Gran. I’m a murderer.” I sighed softly as the tears continued to pour down my face.
“No. A murderer would have killed her out of spite, greed, or just for fun. Their stains would be a display of the darkness they carry in their souls.”
She grasped my bloodstained hands as she continued. “You did not take joy in ending her life. You did what you had to do. You were courageous. Your stains show others that you will stand strong and protected what is yours.”
“But she’s dead.”
“Yes, she is.” Gran agreed before continuing. “Sookie, it’s sad. She was a person filled with greed, hate, and no morals, but you didn’t cause her to be that way. You can regret that she didn’t have the right guidance in her life to lead her down the right path, but don’t regret protecting what is yours.”
“You sound like Eric.” I whispered.
“Then maybe you should trust him more if he gives the same advice as I do.” Gran scolded before wrapping her arms around me in a comforting hug.
“You could never be a bad person, baby girl. Your heart is too pure.”
I wrapped my arms back around her to let her warmth and love take away my remaining doubts. “Thank you, Gran. I love you.”
“I love you too. Nothing will change that.” Gran placed a gentle kiss on my cheek before stepping back out of our embrace. “Now, you be sure to cleanup the sink before you head off to bed!”
I half-smiled at my Gran. “Of course, Ma’am.”
I turned around to cleanup the mess I’d made, but I was no longer in the kitchen and the sink had disappeared. Now, I was in the darkened cemetery by my house and I was standing in front of my Gran’s grave. I immediately fell to my knees with the overwhelming pain of my grief.
“No!” I brokenly sobbed while the tears streamed down my face.
“No. No. No. It can’t be true. You can’t leave me Gran. You’re all I have. No one else understands me or loves me like you do. I need you. You’re everything to me. Please don’t leave me alone.”
Strong arms wrapped around me. I was pulled into a hard chest and my head was gently nudged into the crook of a cool neck. A deep, calming voice whispered in my ear.
“I told you that you would never be alone. I will always be here. I will be your everything now.”
I closed my eyes and cried into the chest I now knew belonged to Eric. He ran his hand soothingly up and down my back as I mourned the loss of my Gran.
When I opened my eyes again, we were lying in my bed at our home. My back was against Eric’s chest as he spooned me from behind and softly stroked the small amount of skin on my stomach that was exposed below the hem of my shirt. I felt so safe and cared for in his arms. I relished the feeling and I needed more of it.
I turned in his arms to face him. He looked down at me questioningly before I leaned forward and gently kissed his lips. He didn’t hesitate in returning the kiss with equal gentleness.
“Eric?” I whispered against his lips.
“Lover?” He whispered back without interrupting our kiss.
“Make love to me. I need to feel loved. I need you.” I spoke in a husky voice as I peppered kisses along his jaw.
“As I need you.” He rolled us over and he was leaning his weight on his arms to allow him to hover above me on the bed. Then he began kissing his way down my neck and towards my chest.
“Sookie,” I heard my name called from the corner of the room. I turned my head towards the voice as Eric ripped my shirt to expose my bra. Bill was leaning against the wall looking at me with pity. “Do you really think he’s any better than me? You are so naïve.”
“Aaahhh.” I moaned and my back arched off the bed as Eric ripped off my bra and captured my nipple in his mouth.
“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.” Bill mused from the corner as I buried my hands in Eric’s hair to encourage his attention to my breasts. “You were so easy for me to manipulate and Eric has centuries more practice. Plus, you have had a lot of his blood now.”
My attention was drawn back to Bill as his words broke through my lust-induced haze. “What? His blood?”
My next words were lost in Eric’s mouth as he pulled me into a heated kiss and his hands ripped away my jeans and lacy underwear. I was already wet and ready for him so when his fingers moved down to my warmth, they slid in easily and I moaned into his mouth.
“Of course, Sookie.” Bill answered steadily from his place in the corner. He acted as if he couldn’t see what Eric and I were doing on the bed. “We are vampires. It’s always about the blood.”
“Lover,” Eric whispered as he nibbled on my ear lobe and slid deep inside me.
I hadn’t even noticed when he had removed his clothes, but feeling his naked body against mine and his length inside of me was heaven. I was complete.
Our pace was slow and sensual. Our mouths explored each other’s neck and chest while our hands learned every secret of the other’s body. I had never felt such tenderness. I felt like I was home, and before long I was nearing my release.
Eric gently kissed my neck and whispered, “Forever, min Älskare,” before he slipped his fangs into my neck. His bite was enough to send me over the edge and I was screaming from the intensity of my orgasm.
Suddenly, I heard a pounding noise that distracted me from my blissful state.
I looked to the corner and Bill was pounding on an invisible wall. I don’t know how I knew it was an invisible wall but I did. He appeared to be using all his strength to break through and get to me as Eric continued to draw blood from the wound on my neck.
“NO! She is mine. I must take her to my Queen!” he yelled as I felt Eric suck harder on the wound and stiffen inside me. The sensation of his mouth on my neck and the force of his orgasm sent me over the edge again.
As the knocking continued and I started coming down from blissful state, I realized my body was becoming heavier and my heartbeat was slowing.
“Sookie!” Bill yelled as he continued to pound on the wall that kept him away from us. “Sookie!”
I was finding it really hard to keep my eyes opened when Eric finally pulled away from my neck and looked down at me as he bit into his wrist.
“Sookie!” Even though my body felt like lead and it was getting harder to think straight, I was startled when my name was called by a voice I didn’t recognize.
I tried to look around but my body was too heavy. The pounding was getting louder too but Bill was no longer in the room.
The strange voice filled the room again when it yelled, “Sookie! Sookie! Are you there?”
My eyes flew open and I gasped. I felt shaken. Something had startled me and woke me up. What was it?
I heard pounding and my name being called, “Sookie? Sookie? Answer the door or I’m going to have to break it down!”
“Shit,” I mumbled as I glanced at the little clock by my bed. It was five after twelve and I was supposed to meet Alcide at Noon. I had fallen asleep in my clothes from yesterday and without setting an alarm. This was a great start to my day.
Since I was still dressed, I jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs to let him inside.
I didn’t think Eric would appreciate the Were breaking his door.
I think I was talking before I had even fully opened the door, “I’m so sorry. We got home right before dawn and I fell asleep in my clothes without setting an alarm.”
I had the door open by the time I finished my apology. The man standing on the doorstep was huge. He had green eyes and tousled black hair that was thick and curly. He also looked mighty put out but also somewhat surprised.
I understood his feelings of annoyance toward me, since he had probably been standing here for the past five minutes trying to get me to answer the door, but I didn’t understand the surprise.
“Well, I guess that’s better than finding out you were hurt or worse.” He smiled slightly. “I’m Alcide Herveaux.”
“Oh, where are my manners? I’m so sorry. I just don’t function without coffee.” I laughed as I reached out to shake his hand. “I’m Sookie Stackhouse. Why don’t you come in and have some coffee while we talk?”
“Thanks, but Northman made it really clear what would happen if my scent was in the house for any other reason than to protect you.”
His tone made it obvious what he thought about Eric and his threats. Definitely not a fan of the Sherriff, but I guess I couldn’t blame him either since Eric had threatened his family if he failed at his job.
“Well, that’s just crazy since he told you to come talk to me.” I huffed but he looked unconvinced. “Fine, why don’t you go around back and sit down? I’ll join you in a minute with coffee for two. Do you want a bagel?”
“That would be great.” Alcide replied with a full smile this time before he started to walk back off the porch to head around back.
After closing the door and starting a pot of coffee to brew, I ran back upstairs to straighten myself up a bit. I brushed my teeth and pulled my hair back up into a ponytail. My clothes had some dirt smudges on them from the night before so I quickly changed into jeans and a t-shirt before heading back downstairs. I would have to get this test with Alcide over with quickly so I could take a shower and get ready to see my grandfather.
I poured two cups of coffee and took them out onto the patio. After finding out that Alcide took his coffee black, I set the cups down and told him I’d be right back with the bagels and cream cheese. I’d seen both of the items in the kitchen yesterday when I made dinner, so I grabbed them quickly and made my way back out to sit with Alcide.
“I want to apologize again for making you wait. Last night was plum full of problems and I barely even remember falling asleep.” I stated as I took my seat beside Alcide.
“It’s okay. I’m sure keeping vamp hours has to be hard.” I could hear the edge to his voice but I could also feel some curiosity.
Oh! I hadn’t even been paying attention to my shields and I hadn’t even started trying to read his mind. I really needed to drink my coffee to get my brain in gear.
When I dropped my shields completely to listen to Alcide, his mind felt like it was buzzing and pulsing with energy. It’s hard to explain but it kind of had a red hazy feel to it. I couldn’t really get a good read from him though. No real words, but I could get a general feel of his emotions. Right now he was bitter, cautious, and curious.
Since his face showed some of his curiosity, I decided to just come out with it. “You look like you have something you want to ask me.”
“Well,” he shifted a little uncomfortably in his seat, “I don’t want to offend you but you really aren’t what I expected. What’s a good girl like you doing hanging out with Northman? You don’t look anything like those sick bitches that are always throwing themselves at vampires.”
It was my turn to shift a little in my seat. I liked his directness and honesty but I could tell he really hated vampires. I didn’t know how he’d react if I told him my story and I wasn’t sure if Eric would want me to do so. I decided to evade the question for the moment.
“What did Eric tell you about me?”
“Not much.” Alcide admitted, as he cocked his head to the side studying me. “He said you were important and there were others who would like to take you. Other than that,” he shrugged “most of our conversation centered around what would happen to me and mine if I didn’t do my job to his satisfaction.”
“Oh.” I could pick up his honesty as well as his hate for Eric from his mind. If Eric didn’t tell him about me, I wasn’t sure if I should. “Did he tell you why he wanted you to come see me today?”
“He said you wanted to meet your guard.”
I felt the apprehension in his mind as he spoke the words. I guess my line of questioning had alerted him to the fact that there was a lot more going on here than he was told.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s really going on?”
“I don’t know yet,” I sighed as I took another bite of my bagel and relaxed back in my chair to think. If Eric wanted me to keep everything a secret, wouldn’t he have made a point to tell me? Or did he just assume I would know to keep it all to myself? I’d like to test a couple of more things out with Alcide, but I’d have to tell him about my telepathy in order for him to cooperate. Well, Eric wanted me to test myself with a Were, so he was just going to have to accept my decision to tell him about my ability.
“Look, I’m going to tell you why you’re meeting with me right now because I need to do so in order to do this right, but I’m guessing you better not tell anyone or Eric will not be happy.” I was afraid it sounded like I was threatening him but I knew Eric would be mad if he went around blabbing his mouth. I thought I should at least warn him.
“Fine.” He answered gruffly and I knew he was unhappy with my words, but they were for his own good.
“I’m a telepath.” He stiffened in his chair and I took a deep breath. “I’ve never met a Werewolf and Eric wanted me to find out if I could read your mind.”
Alcide was obviously not happy with this information and I didn’t really expect him to be. Who really wants to know that their thoughts are not private?
I decided to let him off the hook a little.
“I can’t read you like I can plain ole humans.” I reassured him. “Your mind is really hazy. Mostly I get emotions.”
Alcide visibly relaxed a little. “So what do you get from humans?”
“Pretty much everything.” I shrugged before I mumbled. “More than you’d ever want to know.”
“I’ve never heard of a real telepath before.” He mumbled back. I thought he was just searching for something to say as he digested my secret, because who really would have thought telepaths truly existed? Then again, who would have thought werewolves and fairies were real?
After a couple of moments in silence, I decided to move on to the rest of my test.
“Alcide, I want to try two more things if you don’t mind” I asked him shyly. “I really don’t like invading people’s privacy so I promise it will only take a minute.”
“Alright, I guess.” He agreed reluctantly after studying me for a minute.
“Thanks.” I said putting down the coffee cup I had been holding and reaching out my hand. “I’d like to try reading you while holding your hand. With humans it makes their thoughts clearer and I want to know if it works the same with you. Is that okay?”
“Why not?” He tried to laugh it off. “I don’t guess you want to tell me my fortune too?”
“Telepath, Alcide. Not psychic.” I reprimanded him with a small smile as I took his hand.
His thoughts were still hard to read but I was able to get a couple of broken phrases. I knew he really wanted to protect his privacy, because I caught enough phrases to know he was singing the national anthem in his head. I also read the words ‘hope she can’t hear me’ and ‘not like I need to hide.’
Well, at least the last phrase was reassuring and I felt like he was trustworthy enough for my purposes.
“Well?” Alcide asked after a minute or two. I released his hand before replying with a smile.
“It’s still hard but I can catch a few phrases. Nowhere near as clear as humans though.” I couldn’t resist teasing him then. “You know, singing a song in your head doesn’t really work.” I saw the surprise on his face and I laughed. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”
“What do you mean it doesn’t work?” He actually seemed more interested than aggravated so I took that as a good sign.
“People have tried it with me before but whatever they’re really thinking is right under the song and still comes through. The only two things I got from you were that you were hoping I couldn’t hear you and you didn’t have anything to hide.” I explained and he relaxed even further.
“Okay then, so what’s the last test?” He still seemed apprehensive but his curiosity was getting the better of him.
“I’d like you to try to think at me. I’m interested to see if I can get everything if you are really trying to let me hear you.” I wasn’t sure if it would work because I’d never tried it with anyone, but it was worth a shot.
Alcide looked away and out over the pool area. ‘I’ve always loved swimming. We have a pool a little smaller than this at my father’s house.’
“I love to swim too, but we never had a swimming pool. We went to the county pool a few times every summer when I was a kid.” He looked at me and the shock was evident on his face. However, I was happy that my theory was correct so I just had a big smile on my face.
“Wow. I guess that test was a success then.” He finally laughed.
“Yes.” I agreed. “Thanks for being my test subject. I know it makes people uncomfortable when they know what I can do so I appreciate your help.”
“I won’t lie and say it still doesn’t freak me out a bit, but you seem nice so I don’t think you’d use anything against me.” He grimaced before continuing, “So, is that why Eric has you here? Is he holding you to use your telepathy?”
Crap. I thought I got away from this subject.
“No. Not really.” I mumbled and looked away.
“Uuh-hu.” It was obvious he didn’t believe me.
“I . . . Well . . . I.” Was I really going to tell him the whole story? I wasn’t really sure what to say so I just started talking. “It’s a really long story Alcide, but I agreed to be turned to save an innocent girl’s life.” He gasped but I continued. “The person in charge offered Eric the role of my Maker and he accepted.”
“Are you nuts?” He stood up and looked down at me with a look of horror on his face. “You’re going to be a bloodsucker? Why would you do that?”
“Look, I’ve already heard enough of this from my friends and family.” If I hadn’t let them push me around then I certainly wasn’t going to let a guy I just met make me feel stupid. I decided it was time for him to leave. “It’s my decision and it’s done. Thank you for your help today. I have to get ready for an appointment later.”
I walked away from him and back into the house without another word. I was done justifying myself to others.