It was still a little early for the bar crowd since it was just past 9PM when we arrived at Fangtasia. I only noticed a few cars as we passed the customer parking and my guess would be that they belonged to the “hard core” fangbangers.
Suddenly my stomach dropped and I felt overwhelmingly nauseous. Why hadn’t I thought of that? Fangbangers. I was going to have to feed on them. I was going to have to come here and be part of the show for them. They would be food for me. They would expect sex from me. My breathing was speeding up and I was feeling the flight instinct overtake me more than ever before. What had I done?
I felt a hand on my knee and I jumped slightly in my seat in Eric’s corvette. “Sookie? What’s wrong?”
Oh, I was just realizing that Fangtasia was going to be my new McDonald’s for the McPeople. Couldn’t really say that could I? So I just looked out the window and mumbled “Nothing.” I’m sure I wasn’t at all convincing.
Of course, Eric wouldn’t stand for that response. He took his hand off my knee and placed it under my chin so that he could turn my face to look at him. “You’re panicking. This is the first time you’ve panicked and I don’t understand what caused it.”
“I . . . its . . . well . . . uh.” I couldn’t finish any thought. I really just wanted out of the car and away. My chest felt like my heart was going to beat out of it and I was feeling overwhelmingly claustrophobic.
“Breathe, Sookie.” Eric was actually trying to be soothing. If I wasn’t freaking out I might find that a little touching or funny, but right now I did need to breathe or I was going to hyperventilate. I closed my eyes and tried to just concentrate on my breathing for a minute and forget everything else. Slowly, I began to calm down a little.
“Good. Now, can you tell me what upset you?” he started in a quiet tone and it was obvious he was hoping not to set me off again. “I can’t help if you don’t tell me.”
I opened my eyes to look at him and I could see that he was really trying to figure out how to help me. Surprisingly there was no annoyance on his face – at least at the moment.
“I . . . ” I started but didn’t really know how to explain this to a vampire so I took another deep breath before starting. “Eric, I think for the next couple of days certain things are just going to hit me that I hadn’t thought about or I had realized them but not really considered the reality of it all.” I was hoping that would be enough of an explanation and I wouldn’t have to explain that I hadn’t come to terms with the most basic principle of being a vampire – feeding. I was so wrapped up in everything else that I’d completely ignored that basic, very important, fundamental fact. I was going to be a parasite. Fangbangers were going to try to get me to bite them and I would enjoy it. Jesus Christ, I was right back on the ledge again and I think I was toppling over it.
“I don’t know if I can do this. I’m completely freaking out.” I had pulled my chin out of his hand and buried my tear-streaked face in my hands.
I felt his hand on my hair as he quietly questioned, “Sookie?”
“Don’t. Just don’t Eric.” I sobbed.
“Sookie” That damn commanding tone was all it took and I lost control completely. My face came out of my hands and I was livid.
“Shut up!” I could tell by the look on his face that he was surprised but that was quickly followed by anger and I just didn’t care. What did it matter? What was he going to do? Kill me! HA! So, I just continued down the path I’d started. “Just shut up! SHUT UP!” I yelled and with that I got out of the car and slammed the door.
Only to find a very angry Viking in my face.
“YOU WILL NOT TALK TO ME LIKE THAT. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” he growled.
I laughed. God help me – I freakin’ laughed. “What are you going to do Sherriff? Kill me!” And before he could respond I had crumbled to the ground beside his car and I couldn’t tell you which I was doing more of – laughing or crying. I was hysterical.
I felt him pick me up and I started pushing him away and trying to beat at his chest but of course that got me nowhere. My eyes were blurry with tears so I couldn’t see where we were going nor did I really care. I was past all reason and falling down the rabbit hole.
The next thing I knew I was out of Eric’s arms and on the floor somewhere. I curled up in a ball.
And then I was freezing.
“What the hell Eric?” I said as I tried to stand up. He had placed me in the employee shower and turned the cold water on. I was drenched and trying to get away but he just pushed me back down.
“You will stay there until you tell me what this is about and you have gained control of yourself again.” He ordered as he towered over me from his place beside the shower.
“Damn it just let me out!” I yelled.
“Not until you tell me.” He commanded.
“You will tell me.” His voice was as icy as the water.
“No” This time it was more of a sob and a whimper than a yell and I was resting my head on my arms which were crossed on top of my bent knees. I was shaking from the chill caused by the cold water.
“I am just as stubborn as you, Sookie. We will stay here until you tell me.” He growled.
“Stop, please stop.” As Pam predicted, I was begging and crying. “I just . . . I don’t . . . please just stop.”
“Tell me.” He was crouched down beside the shower now and his tone had softened. The less intimidating position and tone just caused it all to come spilling out from my jittering teeth.
“Please let me mainstream . . . and drink True Blood.” I said between sobs without raising my head. “I just . . . I can’t . . .The Fangbangers . . . I don’t . . . ” I couldn’t finish a sentence.
Eric surprised me then by pulling me out of the shower and onto his lap in the floor of the bathroom. He had a towel and he wrapped it around me as I continued to cry into his chest while he stroked my hair.
When my sobbing had quieted and there were just a few stray tears falling, Eric lifted me up, turned off the shower, and carried me into his office. He laid me down on the black leather couch by his desk and walked towards a closet. We still hadn’t spoken since I’d confessed the cause of my panic attack and I wasn’t sure what to make of that fact.
Laying a large red Fangtasia t-shirt beside me, he stated evenly, “You need to dry off and put this on. It’s long enough to cover you. I’ll send Pam to get you some more clothes. I’ll be back in a minute.”
I wasn’t going to argue with him on this point. I was soaking wet and cold. As soon as he closed the door I stripped out of my clothes and finished drying off with the extra towel he’d laid out. When I pulled the t-shirt on I was relieved to see that he was right. It came down to my knees so it covered everything and easily concealed the fact that I had nothing on underneath. I found a red Fangtasia blanket in a package by his desk and decided that I shouldn’t feel guilty about opening it. After all, it was Eric and Pam’s club.
So, I was on the couch wrapped up in the blanket with my knees under my bottom when Eric came back in carrying a gin and tonic. I noticed that he had changed into dry clothes as well.
“I thought you might need a drink.” He stated as he handed me the glass and sat down on the couch in the opposite corner.
“Thank you.” I didn’t look him in the eye when I said that but I hoped he understood I was saying thank you for more than the drink. I was embarrassed by how I reacted and lost control. While I didn’t appreciate the cold shower, I did appreciate the comfort that followed.
We both sat there in silence for a couple of minutes and I didn’t really want to be the one to break it this time. So, I just continued sipping on my drink until it was gone. I looked for a place to set the glass but Eric reached to take it. After sitting the glass down on the corner of his desk, he turned back to me. I could tell he was ready to talk, but I still wasn’t ready to meet his eyes.
“Sookie, I’ve already told you that you have no reason to be embarrassed around me. I know you are a strong person but frankly I was more worried that you hadn’t lost control yet.” With that statement my eyes met his questioningly. “Normally I would have expected it the night you rose vampire, but that would be because you wouldn’t have known what was happening. It was very rare before the Great Revelation that humans knew they were being turned. Now, well . . . things are different and if I had to choose whether you dealt with your change before or after you were turned, then I’d much rather we handle it before.”
“Why?” It was the only thing I could think to say.
“As I told you before, newly risen vampires are extremely emotional already and act on pure instinct. If we can deal with some of your emotions beforehand, then it will make it easier for both of us after.” I just nodded in response.
Eric sighed before continuing. I seemed to make him sigh a lot lately. “As for your request.” Immediately I tensed. “I will honor your request as much as I can.”
“What does that mean?” I asked quietly.
“Sookie, synthetic blood may not always be available. You will have to know how to feed on humans.” I shuddered slightly and started to protest. “It’s also for their safety.”
Now, that was confusing. How does my feeding on humans equate to making them safer? “How does that make sense, Eric?”
“Synthetic blood taste and smells like shit. If you were injured and a human was nearby or you were exposed to an injured human while you were hungry, you would be more inclined to lose control since it was more appetizing than what you were used to.” He explained reasonably. “Also, if you don’t learn how to feed properly, you wouldn’t learn control and would be more likely to kill the human than just feed on them.”
I considered what he was saying and it was very logical. I didn’t want to lose control and kill anyone and at least I wouldn’t have to feed on humans all the time. Maybe if I could focus on the safety angle then I could make it through the lessons.
“Okay” I said softly. “I can handle that I think.”
Eric reached across the couch and held my hand. “See, I can be reasonable if you just ask me for what you need.”
I gave him a small smile and a nod before removing my hand to wrap the blanket back around me. Pam chose that moment to join us in the office.
“I’ve decided that I’m going to buy Sookie a wardrobe to keep here. She’s only been here three times and twice she’s needed new clothes.” She said as she threw a bag onto the couch beside me and placed her hand on her hip. “Seriously, Sookie. If you’re going to ruin your clothes, you should at least do so with more pleasurable activities.”
“Thanks Pam. I appreciate the clothes and advice.” I said as I stood up and put the small duffle bag over my shoulder. “I’m just going to go change.”
“Sookie, come right back when you’re done. We’ve still got some things to take care of here and we have to make it to Bon Temps by 11:00.”
I just nodded and started out the office door.
“Oh Sissy?” Pam called and I turned to glare at her. “I told you so.” She smirked at me and I knew she was talking about her stages of grief comment from earlier in the night. “Never doubt our Dear Ms Abby again.” I just rolled my eyes and closed the door behind me.
Luckily I made it to the bathroom without anyone seeing me. Pam had brought me another pair of jeans and a black wrap shirt with a deep V-Neck that was sexy but not slutty. I was thankful that she thought to bring undergarments, shoes, and a hair dryer. I was dressed and back in the office in about 15 minutes. With the recent infusion of Eric’s blood, I didn’t really need make-up.
Pam and Eric were talking about a missing vampire when I walked back into the office. Pam was sitting on the couch and Eric was sitting behind his desk. I didn’t want to interrupt them so I just walked back over to the couch and sat down with Pam. Apparently, the missing vampire, Eddie, hadn’t shown up for his last two shifts at Fangtasia. The previous vampire in my life had told me that Eric required every vampire in his area to put in appearances at Fangtasia to keep the tourist and Fangbangers entertained.
“Why don’t you go by his house and I’ll take Sookie to Bon Temps?” Pam asked. “Honestly, since you can feel her emotions it may be healthier for her friends if you weren’t there. And maybe you can track Eddie down while we’re handling the loose ends at her house.”
“No, I should be there.” Eric argued.
“Eric, I appreciate your wanting to be there but it probably isn’t going to be the easiest thing for me and if you’re not going to be able to control yourself when my emotions are all over the place, then I’d rather Pam take me.” He looked like he was going to protest so I added. “Please, tonight’s going to be hard enough for me without worrying that you’re going to go all Viking on my friends.”
“Fine. I’ll go see if Eddie’s just being lazy or if there’s any sign that he’s gotten himself in trouble. There’s no one else here tonight that I’d really trust to investigate properly. Eddie’s a waste of a vampire so I wouldn’t be surprised if drainers preyed on him. And we do need to know if there’s a new team of drainers in town.” Eric seemed resigned to Pam’s plan and it did sound safer for my friends. “But I will join you in Bon Temps when I’m done” then he exchanged a meaningful look with Pam. “I do expect you to keep things from getting out of hand.”
“Of course Master. I think I can handle a couple of humans and a shifter.” She replied with a fangy smile.
“I don’t think that will be necessary Pam.” I said calmly. At least I really hoped it wasn’t.
“Never the less, Pam will be there to ensure it doesn’t go too far.” Eric replied as he picked up his cell phone. “But before we all leave, let me call the damn fairy to see what I can learn.”
Suddenly there was a ‘pop’ sound and someone else was in the room standing in front of Eric’s desk.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Vampire.”