I think I may have flinched, but I recovered quickly.
“You haven’t known many telepaths have you Sherriff?” I laughed before continuing. “I’ve been scanning the brains in your bar since I got here. Well, in all honesty, I’ve been scanning about a half mile radius.”
I could hear the challenge in his voice and it pissed me off. He was standing just about an arm’s length in front of me now and I really wanted to slap him for his tone. You can question a lot of things about me, but don’t challenge my skills when it comes to my telepathy.
“Yes, really.” I huffed. “As a matter of fact, you have five underage kids, a V user, and a human that’s stealing from you out in the bar. Plus, you have a drug dealer using the woods in the back corner of your parking lot as a pickup site. I was going to try to be helpful until you decided to start playing detective, being accusatory, and insulting my skill.”
“I apologize if I have offended you. We would be grateful for your assistance.” Eric replied diplomatically and I could tell he was itching to take care of all the issues I had found in his bar.
I smiled widely since I had successfully avoided the question.
“However, you didn’t really address my question.”
Ah, Eric’s smirk was back. This couldn’t be good for me.
“And what was that?” I replied innocently.
“Have you been in my bar before tonight?”
Well, I guess he really wanted an answer because now I either had to outright lie or confess. I couldn’t avoid the question anymore because I’d done it too much already and it would be obvious.
Normally, I’d lie.
“Of course I have been here, Eric.” I sighed and his fangs clicked down. I knew he’d be pissed. “Oh, I could lie to you and you wouldn’t have any way to prove it unless you asked again with a blood bond in place, but what’s the point? I’m not ashamed of it. Besides, if you are honest with yourself then you know you would have done the same thing if given the chance.”
“Fairy, you should know vampires value their privacy.” He growled at me.
“Come on, Eric. What are you worried about?” I said with impatience. “I sat in your club and observed. I eavesdropped on the human’s minds and I listed to the vampires’ conversations to see if there were any issues of concern. I didn’t go through any papers or anything because you would have noticed anything I moved. And don’t worry, I didn’t follow you into the basement with your little plaything.”
“Oooh. Jealous.” I guess he decided not to be angry since he was teasing me.
“Umph. Hardly.” I said as I rolled my eyes.
“Really, because I was. He wouldn’t share last night.” Pam pouted. Of course, she was jealous. She seemed to love brunettes.
“Oh, I think you were jealous, Princess.” Eric completely ignored Pam’s comment as he moved closer to me. “You know, you could have followed us to the basement. I’m sure it would have been more entertaining than the patrons of my bar you found so boring. Or were you just watching from her thoughts and daydreaming about taking her place?” Eric wiggled his eyebrows.
He was very proud of himself and he was really trying to push my buttons. He had a long row to hoe to make me jealous of that harlot.
“Really, Eric.” I said indignantly as I placed my hands on my hips. “You think I would be jealous of a woman with so little self-worth that she allows herself to be passed around for a feed and fuck? If I were to be jealous of every person in the bar you’ve used, then I’d be pissed at probably a third of the customers here tonight. I’m not that naïve.”
I didn’t believe that he really liked my response. I was sure he wanted me to be jealous. I decided to it would be fun to provoke him.
“What’s wrong, Sherriff? Does it bother you I’m not jealous of all your past fucks?” I ask in a mock concerned voice.
“No.” He replied coolly. “It will make things easier if we have this understanding now.”
“Excuse me?” I’m sure my anger was showing in my voice and face now. I didn’t like where this was going.
“I don’t want to deal with a jealous wife who goes homicidal on my playthings, as you call them.”
I couldn’t tell if he was serious and it just made me madder.
“I think you better be sure to read the fine print before you sign anything then Romeo.” I said with an angry, mocking laugh. “Because there will be no more playthings. I do notshare.”
“You fairies really are something.” It was Eric’s turn to pull out the mocking laughter before he hissed at me. “To expect me to agree to this alliance is asking a lot. To expect monogamy is insanity.”
Eric let his words linger as he stalked back over to his desk chair and sat down. We were both fuming with anger and I noticed Pam was still enjoying the show from the sidelines. As I stared at Eric, I could see from his eyes he was getting more and more angry the longer our silence lasted. I needed to find a way through this apparent deal breaker and quickly.
So, I went back to my old standby.
“Fine.” I sighed and released all visible signs of my anger. “You’re right. It’s a political alliance.”
“So, you can be reasonable.” Eric smirked with his perceived victory.
Not so fast, Viking.
“Of course.” I smiled. “Besides, fairies are highly sexual beings and you are unavailable during the day. So, playthings are actually an interesting idea.”
“ABSOLUTELY NOT.” Eric roared at me and he was back in front of me in a flash. “YOU WILL BE MY WIFE AND BONDED. NO OTHER WILL HAVE YOU.”
Oh, and I did notice he said “will be my wife.” I wanted to laugh. He was already mine.
“You can’t have it both ways, Viking.” I replied calmly at first but my words became more and more heated the longer I spoke. “I am not a human for you to parade around and treat like a pet. If you get playthings, then so do I. To expect anything else is beyond insulting. It’s worse than serving as one of your nightly meals. At least they have freedom of choice.”
“Careful.” He growled. “You are trying my patience.” I could see the bloodlust rising in his eyes. He meant what he was saying. I was really pushing him.
“As you are trying mine.” I actually heard Pam gasp as I hissed back at Eric.
I knew neither of them was used to someone standing up to Eric and I intended to use it to my advantage. I am not just another pretty face and they needed to understand that now. I was going to push Eric to the brink to see if he was seriously considering this alliance. Too much was happening too quickly and I didn’t need to waste my time.
“Niall was obviously wrong about you. I can see this is not going to work.” I straightened my back and started gathering my energy to pop back to the penthouse. “Good luck handling your problems, Viking. You’re going to need it.”
Right before I popped away, Eric’s hand encircled my wrist. It wasn’t painful but it was firm.
“And what of your troubles, Ms. Brigant?” Eric had quickly gained some control over his anger and his voice was now low and sexy. “I was under the impression you needed this.”
I glared at him as I replied evenly. “Thank you for your concern, Sherriff, but I am not nearly as meek as you seem to believe me to be. I have been groomed to take the throne since I was ten. I am a terrific strategist, a fierce warrior, and loyal to a fault. Our assumption was these traits would make us a good match since Vikings were said to value strength in their women. Obviously, we were misguided.” He let go of my wrist as I finished my speech. “You may be the best option but you are not the only option.”
“I can see your grooming did not include guidance on controlling your temper.” He glared at me as he spoke.
“On the contrary, I’m controlling it quite well at the moment.” I laughed to break the tension as I continued. “I haven’t destroyed your office yet.”
The truth was I had learned what I needed to find out and I was ready to stop pushing him. He had reined in his temper and stopped me from popping away. If he weren’t seriously considering the marriage, then he would have let me leave.
Suddenly, I felt something shift in my mind and my senses heightened. The current argument was forgotten as I reached out to find the cause for my newly alert state.
“Sookie?” Eric’s tone told me he had sensed my change in focus but I wasn’t ready to give him my attention.
It didn’t take me long to find my problem. I was sensing a high level of anxiety and some fear from my brother, Jason. I was considering popping to him when I felt him start to calm down.
“Sookie?” Eric’s voice was more forceful this time so I returned my gaze to his. He seemed annoyed and maybe a little confused or concerned.
“Sorry.” I knew it was rude not to offer an explanation but I was still tense. It always took me a few minutes to relax after any of Jason’s “false alarms.” It was even worse now that I was living in this realm.
“Would you care to explain what just happened?” Eric seemed to be trying to control his annoyance so I decided to stop being difficult – for the time being.
“I’m a guardian and, for a moment, I thought my charge was in trouble.” I explained as I walked over to the couch and sat down.
“What’s a guardian?” Pam asked.
Before I could answer Pam’s question, my cell phone started ringing. I glanced at the caller id before addressing Eric, “Sorry. I have to take this.”
“Go ahead.” Eric answered as he made his way back behind his desk to sit down.
“Jason.” I answered into my phone.
“How’s my favorite little sister?” Jason’s voice greeted me and I saw Eric raise his eyebrow.
“I’m your only sister, Jase. Does that make me your least favorite too?” I laughed.
“Only when you cramp my style.” We both laughed at that one. I knew Jason was referring to the few times I had popped in at inappropriate times. My brother was definitely a ladies man so I’ve learned to be more careful with my unannounced visits.
“So, what’s up big brother?” I knew this wasn’t a family social call. It was too much of a coincidence that he had called right after I felt his anxiety.
“I saw my friend Jackson today and his dog finally had her puppies. Do you still want one?”
Eric was studying me during my phone conversation and I could see he was annoyed. I knew he could hear everything we were saying and couldn’t understand why I had to have this conversation now, but he would have to wait until I was done for me to explain the subtext.
“Of course I still want one.” I gave an excited squeal. “How many did she have? Do I need to hurry? Does Jackson have a lot of people interested? I don’t want to miss out on my chance.”
“I knew you’d want one.” I could hear Jason’s smile in his voice. He loved these conversations. “She had five and I wouldn’t wait too long. You know how in demand they are. They’ll be gone before you know it.”
“Okay.” I said and paused for a moment as if considering my next move. “Where are you now? I’m not too far away and I could meet you. Do you think it’s too late to go see them?”
Eric growled a little at me but I ignored him. He would understand soon.
“Nah. Come meet me at the bar and we’ll go together.”
“Sounds great.” I replied before adding. “Oh, is that nerdy girl still nippin’ at your heels?”
Jason let out a great big laugh in response. “She is still hanging around me every chance she gets but I haven’t seen her in two nights. Nice break for me. Maybe she’s moved on.”
“Good luck with that one. She seems persistent.” I knew I’d eventually have to take care of that problem. “Well, I’ll see you in a few. Don’t go running off with any of your women before I get there.”
“Now, why would I do that when my little sister is coming to see me?”
“Good point. See ya soon.”
“And that was a call you had to take?” Eric snapped at me as soon as I ended the call.
“Yes.” I replied easily. I didn’t have time for another fight so I decided to forthcoming for once. “As I said, I’m a guardian. My job is to protect my charge and my brother is my charge.”
“Why would your brother need a guardian? Isn’t he like you?” Pam asked.
“We share the same parents but he doesn’t have the spark that gives us our magic. So, while the otherness of his blood and his physical attractiveness has a tendency to get the attention of other supes, he doesn’t have any magic to defend himself. So, I had myself assigned to protect him as soon as I was old enough.” I explained.
“Why would Niall agree to that arrangement if you were to take the throne?” Eric asked. “Your brother would be a liability for you.”
“Loyal to a fault, remember?” I smiled a genuine smile and shrugged. “He’s my brother and I’ve been protecting him since I was eight. Giving me the formal title of guardian and the magic to sense him just made me worry less because I could always feel him. Guardians can sense any emotions in their charge that indicate danger. Fear, anxiety, and pain for example.” I shrugged. “Besides, he is a very carefully guarded secret.”
“And what if he were to talk to others about your magic?” He challenged.
“He is bound.” I was smiling because Niall had already addressed this concern years ago. “When my parents and grandmother were killed, I was taken to Faery because I had the spark. My brother couldn’t go so he was left in the custody of my Aunt. My grandfather placed magic on the whole family so they could not reveal anything about fairies or our magic. They can’t even reveal it under glamour.” I added that last part with a little smugness in my voice.
“So, he lives in Louisiana?”
“Yes. Being this close makes the connection stronger. It’s going to take me a little while to get used to the change.” I explained while getting up from the couch. “Would you like to come with me to meet him?”
“I’m guessing your conversation was not actually about getting a puppy?” Eric smiled as he stood up and pulled on his jacket.
“No.” I smiled back at him. “It seems there are five Jackson Weres at Merlotte’s snooping around.”
“So, we are going to Bon Temps?” Eric asked.
I wasn’t surprised he knew where Merlotte’s was located. It was in his area and the owner was a shifter.
“Yes, and maybe while we’re there you could tell William Compton to stay away from my brother.” I smiled at Eric sweetly.
“OH! OH! Please tell me he’s the ‘nerdy girl.'” Pam chuckled.
“Right you are, Pam.” I smiled at her. “Jason called me a couple weeks ago to tell me he moved into town. He knows that Bill has sensed there is something different about him. Jason’s been trying to avoid him but Bill keeps trying to talk to him whenever he’s around. Jason knows better than to make eye contact but he’s pretty certain Bill is looking for a chance to glamour him.”
“Why?” Eric asked.
“Who knows? Maybe just a feed because he smells sweet.” I shrugged. “I don’t have any reason to think it’s anything else just yet, but it would be best for Bill if he just stayed away.”
“We can stop by his home while we’re in town.” Eric said as he walked towards the door.
“Where are you going, Sherriff?” I smiled and tilted my head to the side when he turned around to look at me.
“I thought you wanted to go to Bon Temps.” He sounded exasperated.
“I do.” I held out my hand towards him and when he realized what I was saying I had to laugh at the expression on his face. It was a mixture of apprehension and excitement, but he quickly returned to his emotionless mask. “Oh, come on. It’s fun and we’ll be back before you know it. Besides, this way we can show up cloaked.”
That got his attention.
“You can cloak me too?”
“Yes. As long as we’re touching and you don’t let go.” Well, I earned a smirk for that comment as he quickly placed his arms around my waist and pulled me flush against his body.
I laughed at his antics before I wrapped my arms around his back, focused on Jason, and popped us to his side.