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Chapter 20: A Side of Fries with That


I heard no news from Sam and Bill that night, nor the next day, nor the next night. By the time I went to bed the second night, my nerves were frayed. I stayed in bed that second morning for a very long time, again, thinking about Eric and me and the times we had shared. There were so many times that I had wished for a nice, normal, boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, and yet, whenever I thought of him over the last few days, everything I thought about were normal, if not somewhat mundane moments. It was enough to make me cry.


I remember one time after I had found out about Niall, Eric called me from Fangtasia and asked if he could come over. It was right after a ten hour shift, where I closed, and I moaned and groaned and told him that I was tired, and didn’t feel like messing with him. I mean, how mean was that?


He laughed and admonished, “Maybe I don’t feel like messing with you either, lover. Maybe I just wanted to talk. I mean, I’m assuming ‘messing with me’ is a euphemism for sex, right?”


“Oh, Eric, I just meant I worked late, I had to work a double shift. I just got home, I took a shower, I’m tired, someone didn’t pay their bill tonight so I had to pay it out of my own pocket, one guy called me a bad name, right after another jerk pinched my butt, and I just want some peace and quiet, two things I never get around you.”


“What’s the name of the man who pinched your butt?” he inquired. His tone was neutral. I didn’t know the guys name anyway, but if I thought Eric was going to go all ‘Bill’ on me and get jealous, I wouldn’t have told him even if I did know.


“I don’t know. Frankly, I’m pissed more about the guy who called me a bitch, and even more so about the party of five that ran out on their bill,” I said.


“Well, you can be a bitch at times, Sookie,” he confirmed. I could hear the smile on his voice.


“That’s no way to endear yourself to me, Mr. Northman,” I said sincerely. “Not likely to say come on over now, Mister.”


“What if I pay the bill for the losers who, what did you call it? Skipped out on their bill?”


“You want to pay me to come see me, but it’s not about sex?” I asked, incredulously.


“Sure, why not,” he said with an easy air.


“Alright, come on over,” I laughed.


He laughed as well. “I’m already here, my love. Open the door and let me in, or I’ll huff and puff and suck all your blood out.”


“Umm, I don’t think that’s how the fairytale goes,” I grinned, walking toward the front door, my cell phone in my hand.


“What fairytale?”


I closed my phone and let him in.


He walked in, closed the door, and looked down at me. He smiled. I could get lost in his smile. He said, “How much money do I owe you for your time, Sookie?”


“Their bill was fifty-five dollars and forty-seven cents.” I actually held out my hand.


“Do you take plastic?” he asked. He held my hand in his, and traced the lines on my hand with the opposite index finger. He said, “Do you want me to read your future?”


“I’ll read yours, instead,” I said snarkily. I cradled his large hand in both of mine, looked down at it, then traced the lines with one finger. “I see a long night by yourself if you don’t have fifty-five dollars and forty-seven cents.” I dropped his hand like a hot rock.


He reached in his pocket, pulled out his wallet and declared, “I only have a hundred dollar bill. I don’t suppose you can make change?”


I had to smile. “No, consider it my tip.” I took the hundred from him, pulled on his hand, and took him toward my room.


“Why, Sookie,” he teased, somewhat surprised, “I thought I was paying for talking only. I didn’t know I was getting special treatment after all.”

“You aren’t, so don’t get excited. I only want to rest on the bed. Just rest, Eric!”


And the thing was, that was all we did that night. We rested on the bed, talked, giggled, and had a great time. We talked about religion, talked about Fangtasia, talked about my lack of fashion sense, we cuddled, we kissed a bit, and then about four in the morning, he gave me a chaste kiss goodnight. He slipped off the bed, and I purred, “Wait, come back for a second.”

He leaned over me, and I reached over to my bedside table and handed him the hundred-dollar bill. “Here, I think I owe you after tonight, not the other way around. You were just what I needed.”

He leaned down, kissed my forehead, then my lips, a quick, fleeting kiss, and said, “My dear, I knew that. Why do you think I called you? I felt that you needed me through our bond. I’ll always be able to know when you need me.” He touched my cheek, his finger moving down it slowly, and then he stood. He snapped the hundred, held it up to the light, and deadpanned, “Is this real? It looks counterfeit. If it’s not real, I’m bound to call the law.” Then he laughed, stuffed it in his pocket, and left.


Now I wondered if I would ever see him again.


On the third morning, I asked Jason to go home, because I could only deal with so much at once, and he was being more of a hindrance than a help. He wanted me to wait on him hand and foot …”Hey Sookie, could you get me a glass of tea?” “Hey Sook, I sure would love some of your sweet-potato pie.” “Sis, what would I have to do for you to make me breakfast this morning?”


I mean, seriously, if this was his idea of protecting me (i.e.: free slave labor), then I would rather be in danger. Besides, Larkin said he would give me a week, and I still had four more days, so I was safe enough for now.


I spent that whole day cleaning my house, top to bottom. Cleaning was cathartic to me. It helped me to relax. It made me feel better about myself. I’m one of those people who can’t relax in the evening if there are dirty dishes in the sink. After my house was clean, (even the ceiling fans and the baseboards) it was late, and I hoped and prayed that Sam and Bill would be returning soon. I decided to shower, but instead of getting ready for bed, I dressed in a casual dark teal sweater and a comfortable pair of jeans, with a hole in the knee, and which fit me like a glove. I decided to go sit in my grandmother’s old rocker, and concentrate on Eric. I wanted to see if I could feel him through our bond.


I sat in the chair, with a pillow on my lap, I closed my eyes, and I thought again about the memory I had yesterday morning. Eric had come to me when he felt that I was sad. He said he felt me through our bond. I began to rock back and forth, the old chair creaking against the weathered floorboards in the living room. I remember Eric had said that when the Fairies took me, he had felt my fear, my pain, and my desperation. I knew that vampire senses were more acute than human senses, but still … our bond worked both ways. I should be able to sense him, feel him. I had felt him before.


However, as I sat there, and rocked, and hugged that pillow tight, I felt nothing. I felt less than empty. I felt devoid of all feeling. A wave of sadness came at me like a deluge. I had a hallowing, empty feeling. I felt bereavement, and a terrible sense of grief, and I prayed that the empty feeling I felt wasn’t because something bad had happened to severe our ties. Please, not that.


I brought my knees up to my chest and hugged them tightly to me, and before I could evaluate what I felt, the phone in the foyer rang. I lifted myself from the chair, walked to the phone, lifted the handset from the cradle, and said a very small, but very succinct, “What?”


“Sookie?” The voice on the other end sounded familiar, yet not so familiar that I could instantly place it. Usually, when that happened, I felt too embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t tell who the caller was, and I would talk for a while, until it came to me. Today, I wasn’t so inclined.


“Who is this?” My mind was still swirling from the emptiness I felt. It took a moment after the caller said his name for me to register what he said. He said it again.


“Did you hear me? It’s Quinn.”


Could things possibly get any worse? “What do you want?” I asked with an edge to my voice. I have to admit, I didn’t feel very nice right now.


“I’m calling about Eric.”


“Eric?” I repeated. Now he had my attention. “What do you know about Eric?”


“I know that he was brought to Nevada to face judgment against de Castro, the charges being treason and sedition. I know that his trial was last night.”

I began to shake all over. I collapsed to the floor, both hands now holding the phone receiver. “You’re working for the king still?”


“Yes. I’ve been ordered to bring you in the moment they found him guilty.”


“You mean if they found him guilty,” I corrected, though I knew exactly what he meant.


He knew I knew, so he didn’t make a comment about that statement. “He was found guilty. He was sentence to enclosure in a silver-lined coffin, for ten to twenty-five years. I placed him there myself, this morning.”


I was on the edge of falling apart, I really didn’t know what I could do, being so far away. “What do you want?” I cried out, disconsolately.


“I told you, I’ve been ordered to bring you to the king,” he repeated.


My sadness turned to instant panic. I was here all alone, by myself, and I didn’t know where Quinn was, but he was ordered to get me for the king. “Are you going to do it? Take me to the king?” It seemed like a smart thing to ask. I had so many things swirling around my head at the moment that it was a good thing I was already on the floor, or I probably would have fallen down by now.


“Maybe, maybe not,” he answered flippantly. How could he be so blasé? This was my life! He acted as if I was asking him his favorite color, or if he wanted a side of fries with his hamburger, instead of asking if he was going to take me to my imminent demise.


“Let me guess,” I seethed, anger swelling up in my chest, “it depends on whether I do what you say, right? You want something from me, right? Everyone wants something from me! Larkin, you, everyone!”


“Larkin? What has he to do with this? Do not go near that creature!” he barked.


“Like you can tell me what to do!” I ordered right back. “He said that if I go with him, at least he’ll help Eric go free. Can you claim to do the same? If I go with you, will you promise to help Eric?”


“For all I care, Eric Northman can rot in the coffin for all the rest of his unnatural long life,” he spat.


“Fuck you, Quinn!” I hated when people used that word, but sometimes no other word was appropriate. “Did you ever think that what Eric was trying to do was a good thing? He didn’t want some outsider from another state to tell him, or his, what to do any longer! He just wanted his freedom back. Can’t you, of all people, relate to that? Didn’t you fight and crawl and dig your way out of the pits to gain your freedom, and the freedom of your family, only to give it all up again to serve that bastard de Castro? You know, Eric would give you your freedom again, and you wouldn’t have to worry about it being snatched away. You aligned yourself with the wrong vampires, Quinn, and I swear, if you so much as touch one strand of Eric’s beautiful hair I’ll personally come and kick some tiger ass!”


There was silence on the other end. It lasted so long that I was sure he had hung up the phone, except that I could hear him breathing. I stood back up, and twirled the phone cord around my finger. I waited.


“Sookie, have you calmed down enough for us to talk now?” he asked, and I have to admit, he didn’t sound at all condescending.


“Yes,” I muttered, though if he could see my face, he would see me pouting.


“Don’t trust Larkin. He has no power to set Eric free, and if he’s already made it clear that he wants you, then he most certainly would not want to ever see him free. Don’t be swayed by him. He’ll be dealt with, soon enough. He was instrumental in Eric’s arrest and downfall. You’re a smart woman, so think about that.”


I felt like such a fool, because Quinn was right.


He continued. “On the other hand, I do have the power and the desire to help you, without any personal gain.”


The implication of his words hit me broadside. The empty, hollow feeling I was experiencing moments ago was filling up slightly with something that resembled hope. “Do you mean you would help me avoid being taken to the king, or you would help me get Eric back, because if I could only have one, and not the other, I’ll pick Eric. You get him out, and I’ll gladly, of my own freewill, go to the king.”


“There’s no reason for you to be the martyr, Sookie. Just answer your door.”


That statement confused me. “Aren’t you calling from Nevada?”


“Yes, open your door,” he urged again.


My phone was the old type, a receiver attached to a phone with a cord, attached to the wall. It wouldn’t reach as far as the door. I could place the phone receiver down and go look out the door, but instead I asked, “Why should I trust you? Who’s outside my door? I’m all by myself, and I don’t mind telling you, I’m more than a little bit afraid right now, Quinn.”


“Answer the door!” he all but growled.


“You know what? Go to hell!” I stammered back. I leaned toward the door, to see if I could see out it. It was almost dark, so it could be a vampire, a Were, a shifter, or anyone. I wasn’t taking any chances. “Why should I trust you? You said yourself that you hated Eric! Why would you help me?”


“Because I don’t hate you, Sookie, and because you don’t hate Eric,” he replied. Now he sounded defeated. “Please, trust me. Open your door. The answer to our problem is outside the door.”


“JUST TELL ME WHO IT IS!” I shouted, loud enough to wake even the dead.


I heard him curse. Then, I heard voices, more than one. Another person came on the phone, this one so familiar that I didn’t have to question who it was. “Cher, open the door, and don’t be afraid. The person at the door has agreed to help us. He didn’t want to but he will, but you have to trust us.”


“Sam?”


“I know, Sookie, I know.” That was all he said. It was enough. I placed the phone on the table, because I didn’t know if I was supposed to hang up or not. I rushed over to the door, flung it open and gasped.


Pam stood to the left, Bill to the right, and between them was a mirror image of Larkin, except this man, creature, god, had dark hair and eyes. He smiled, but unlike Larkin’s smile, which at times seemed menacing and evil, this man’s smile seemed resigned, sad, and resolute.


He held out his hand. I placed my hand in his, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He said, “Hello, Sookie. My name is Iain Donegal. I’m your cousin, Larkin’s half brother, and his worst nightmare, and I’ve been convinced to help you. May I come in?”


I still had his hand, and I saw that each of his wrists had iron manacles on them, and they were attached to an iron chain that went around his waist. Bill had one piece of the chain around his hand, and Pam had the other piece around hers. He was being forced to help us, and that didn’t sit well in my craw.Let him out of the chains, so that he and I can talk, okay?” I looked at Pam first, and she merely looked at me amused, smiled and shook her head no. I looked at Bill and he smiled a smile that almost said, ‘sorry sweetheart’, to me.


Iain smiled softly. “That’s fine, Sookie. I don’t hold you responsible for the actions of these vampires, and I hope you don’t hold me responsible for the actions of Larkin, and I am sincere when I say that I want to help you.”


“Well, alright then.” I opened the door all the way and let them all in.

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