It was two o`clock in the afternoon when I woke up. I rarely sleep in, but I figured I was entitled after having had half my blood taken from me and replaced by Erik`s and the bottled kind. The latter had left me with a stale taste in my mouth. I felt like I had wall-to-wall carpeting on my tongue. I could definitely understand why vampires preferred human blood to the bottled kind.
The blood had done wonders to me, though. I got out of bed and felt just fine for someone who had almost died from blood-loss. For someone who had almost been killed, I corrected myself. A sadness crept over me. I started thinking about what Rasmus had told me. I had liked and trusted Erik and I had certainly enjoyed him last night. Without comparison, it had been the best sex I had ever had.
I had enjoyed sex with Sam. He was a caring and thoughtful lover, but he had never shaken me like Erik had done. Imagine what it could have been had it not been for Eric`s stupid idea of turning me. At that thought I knew just what I wanted to do and that was definitely not to wait for Erik to rise.
If I had been a different person, I would probably have done `the right thing`, namely waited for Erik to wake up and have a good, long talk with him. But I`m Sookie Stakhus and I`m not good at that kind of conversation.
Sam had often accused me of running away from any problems we might have had. It wasn`t in my nature to have long conversations about who said what, and why. I got mad or I ran away. Those were my MO-s.
I was mad last night – now I was planning on running.
I got dressed and had some breakfast. Soon I was in the imagined safety of my car and drove faster than usual. Halfway home I dialed Amalie.
“Hi Sooks, how are things with your hot vampire?” I cringed. I realized how badly I wanted to be able to reply that things were great and we would be having hot sex from now `til doomsday.
“Not too good, Amalie. We actually had great sex last night.” Amalie gave out a loud whistle and some wolfy howls. “But then he tried to turn me.”
“Why would he do that? I didn`t even know vampires turned people anymore. I thought there were some strict rules against it – or at least that the turning should be absolutely voluntary.”
“Well, that`s just the thing, Amalie. He thought I wanted to.”
“WHAT? Why would he think that?”
“Hmm, apparently he misunderstood my nibbling a bit on his neck.”
“YOU BIT A VAMPIRE ON THE NECK??? Sookie, where have you been the last 15 years? It`s common knowledge that biting a vampire could make him lose control.”
“Well, excuse me for not reading the `20 reasons to have sex with a vampire`-articles in the magazines. He asked me to bite him earlier and I saw how much it turned him on, so I just did it again without him asking me to. I didn`t know it would make him want to kill me.” I felt like crying and Amalie picked up on that.
“Are you afraid of him now? Do you want me to come over to your place and make a ward keeping him out of your house?”
Amalie was a witch. She could make teas that would relax you and drinks that would improve your mood. She knew her herbs and spells and could even turn people into cats. Or at least she had done that to a lover once. The only problem was that she couldn`t turn him back so he had to stay feline for half a year.
Vampires and weres were out and I thought witches would come out of the broom closet, so to speak, too. They didn`t. I guess the witch-hunts a few centuries ago had put a scare in the witches. It probably didn`t help that Danes celebrated the June 25th, Saint Hans, by burning witch dolls on huge bonfires and “sending them to Bloksbjerg”.
I thought over Amalie`s offer. “No, you don`t have to make a ward. I don`t think he actually wanted to hurt me. He had just lost his child and I suppose he felt lonely. He wanted a family and I can relate to that. I just don`t want to be the blood-drinking child of someone I would have to call `master` instead of father. Hell, three days ago I could have sworn I would never even sleep with a vampire.” I let out a sigh.
“When will you be back at your house?”
“In half an hour, or so.”
“OK, I`ll be there when you get home.”
I was touched, but as much as I wanted her comforting presence, I also wanted a long, hot bath. I asked her if she could give it another hour or so and she agreed. I send her mental hugs and kisses.
“And Sookie. You`re not going to work tonight. I`m sending Troels over to fill in for you.” Troels was Amalie`s were-husband.
“Thank you.” I whispered. “You are the perfect friend”.
We hung up and I drove home feeling slightly better.
As soon as I had entered my door, I went to the bathroom and turned on the hot water in my bathtub, adding some bath-salts that I rarely use. I took off my clothes, took care of some pressing needs and got into the hot water. I leaned back and let my feelings get the better of me. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I even let out a hulk or two. After ten minutes of heavy crying, I dried my eyes with the back of my hands and started scrubbing my legs with a hemp glove. When my legs were red and warm, I gave my arms the same treatment. Today I would give my body a thorough treatment. I would even shave my legs.
I hadn`t taken `Murphy`s law` into consideration, though. You know, the law about the phone always ringing when you are in the bathtub. This time it wasn`t the phone. It was the door. I looked at my watch and was a tiny bit annoyed by the fact that Amalie had come almost 45 minutes early. Well, she would just have to sit in my living-room while I was finishing my bath; I thought, grabbed my robe and went to answer the door.
“You are a bit early….” I said and realized that it wasn`t Amalie at my door.
I looked up into the purple eyes of a muscular, bald man showing me all his pearly teeth.
“Hi babe.” He said. I disliked when he called me babe. I`m a 37 year old woman, for Pete`s sake.
“Hi John…mmm…. Quinn.” He hated being referred to by his real name, which was John Egede. If you lived in Denmark, you would have put good money on John being from Greenland with that last name – and you would have won. Since half of Greenland`s population was living in Denmark, Copenhagen being the capitol for Greenland and all, you would hear the `Egede` fairly often here too. Of course Quinn`s features also gave him away. If he hadn`t shaved his head so thoroughly, his hair would definitely have been black.
I hated calling him Quinn. I thought it was ridiculous, but he loved it when people used his nickname. Most people get nicknames from parents or friends, but Quinn had made his up himself. Apparently a local radio-DJ had had a thing for Manfred Mann and had played `Mighty Quinn` all the time, when Quinn grew up. Quinn loved the `mighty Quinn` and he identified with `Quinn the Eskimo`.
Quinn was definitely mighty and he was also an Eskimo, even if that term had become pretty politically incorrect over the years. Most of the native Greenlanders preferred the term `inuit`, but Quinn didn`t care. Being `Quinn the Eskimo` was too important to him.
“Did I interrupt something?” He asked. I rolled my eyes.
“No, I always run around wet and in my bathrobe.”
My Gran would have been shocked, but I had good reason to treat Quinn like I did. Quinn and I had a history and it had ended badly. It was almost two years after Sam`s death and Amalie had convinced me to date again. Quinn had been on a job that involved my bar and we had started flirting. Actually he had done most of the flirting, but I hadn`t turned him down. We had gone out a few time, kissed a little and even been as close to sex as you can be with your clothes still on.
I hated being reminded of that now. The whole thing had ended poorly. I was still in emotional turmoil after Sam and Quinn had some problems with his mother and sister. I had called it quits, but he had not agreed.
Now he was in my doorway. I did not want to invite him in, and I was freezing on my wet, naked legs. It was almost dark outside and with nighttime came freezing cold. I would have to make him leave before I turned into Sookie the icicle.
“Why are you here, Quinn?” It wasn`t the most polite question, so I quickly softened it at bit. “I was in the middle of a warm bath and I would like to get back before the water gets cold and I freeze to death.”
“Why don`t you invite me in, babe, and I can wait in your living-room while you bathe.”
My temper was starting to boil in my veins. “Don`t you `babe` me, Quinn. I`m not your anything and I am a grown up woman.” I was fuming and I wished I had asked Amalie to make a were-polar bear-ward instead of a vampire one.
Yes, Quinn was a polar bear every time the moon was full – or when he chose to be one.
Before the were and shifter revelation, Quinn had to stay on Greenland. He could make small trips to Alaska, but that was the extent of his travelling. He had hated it because he loved being in the centre of things. He would prefer the limelight to the Northern lights any day.
It was hard enough for the werewolves when people saw them in their canine state and reported it to authorities. There had after all not been wolves in Denmark the last 200 years or so. The authorities had made plausible explanations like “It was probably just a huge dog you saw, madam” and things had never gotten out of hands. A polar bear roaming the forests of Denmark would have been so much harder to explain.
The were revelation had been so much easier for the were-foxes and the were-badgers – and for the shifters like Sam. He could shift into anything, but he preferred to shift into a dog; usually a sweet and clever Great Dane.
“Can`t you just say what you came for? I`m exhausted and I want to sleep after my bath.”
Quinn shifted on his feet and for a second his face displayed anger.
Right then I heard his thoughts. It`s hard to read the minds of were`s, but Quinn`s thoughts came through loud and clear. He was thinking about how he really needed to get to Eric Northman. He had brought a silver net and he hoped he could retrieve the vampire without hurting me. He even felt he was protecting me by ridding me of the Viking vampire.
“Sookie, you know I do some work for vampires. Usually it`s arranging parties and that sort of stuff, but now I`ve been asked to retrieve a lost vampire. My employers are very concerned about his well-being. Apparently he is staying at your place and I just wanted to talk to him and make sure he`s ok.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
“I think your employers are mistaken. It`s been months since I had a vampire staying with me and I certainly don`t have any in my house now.” Well, the last part wasn`t a lie. “Was that all you wanted?”
“Sookie, don`t be like this. We had a good thing going. There is no reason why we can`t pick up where we left.”
“That would have to be some other time, Quinn. I have a bath and a bed calling for me.” I started closing the door. Unfortunately the movement made my robe travel a little down my shoulder, disclosing faint fangmarks on my neck. Quinn jumped into my house and tore my robe even further down and pulled my hair away.
“What the hell! Are you a fangbanger now? Shit, Sookie, who the hell are you fucking? Is it Eric Northman, the vampire I`m looking for? I heard he`s breaking women`s hearts by the hundreds, but I never figured you to fall for something like that. Where is he, Sookie?”
He started shaking me like a ragdoll. I could hear some angry and quite jealous thoughts. I bet that he wouldn`t be calling me `babe` now.
“Quinn, get your stinking hands off me. Who I`m fucking or not fucking is none of your damned business, but I can tell you that Eric Norseman is a name I`ve never heard before.” I deliberately pronounced Erik`s name wrong, hoping it would add some credibility to my supposed ignorance.
Before I could do anything, Quinn was running towards the vampire part of the house. He gave a frightening roar when he realized the door was not only locked, but also impossible for him to break through. He stood still for a moment and sniffed the air. He came back to me where I stood dumbfounded.
“You have had a vampire here recently, Sookie, but he isn`t here now. Tell me where he is.” He yelled into my face and was back at his Sookie-shaking-routine.
“Stop it, Quinn. You know I never talk about any of my tenants. I`ve had that rule since day one so stop shaking me. It hurts.” I was angry. No, I wasn`t angry, I was pissed.
Quinn stopped shaking and looked at me in disbelief. You could almost hear his brain working overtime. All of a sudden he grabbed me around my waist and threw me over his shoulder. He was walking towards the door.
I yelled: “You can`t carry me out in a freezing November-night in a bathrobe and nothing else. You`ll kill me.” I squirmed and tried to get free, but Quinn was just too strong.
He stopped in his tracks and sidestepped over to the closet by the door. He was holding my legs with one hand while retrieving my coat, a hat and some boots with the other. Then we were out the door.