Not his fault he needed food, blah blah.
When it’s freely offered, why not take it, blah blah.
He knew I was due to arrive.
He knew I would let him drink.
He knew the fact that he chose to drink from another woman would hurt me deeply. And he did it, anyway. Unless there was something I didn’t know about this woman, or something she’d done to Eric that had triggered this reaction, this signaled that he didn’t care about me as deeply as I’d always thought.
I could only think, Thank God I broke the blood bond. If I’d felt his enjoyment while he was sucking on her, I’d have wanted to kill him.
Eric said, "If you hadn’t broken our blood bond, this would never have happened."
I had another solar flare in my head. "This is why I don’t carry a stake," I muttered, and swore long and fluently to myself.
I hadn’t told Pam not to speak. After eyeing me intently to assess my mood, she said, "You know that in a while, you’ll adjust. This was a question of timing, not of unfaithfulness."
After I took a long moment to resent the hell out of her conviction that I was going to accommodate Eric’s behavior, I had to nod. I wasn’t necessarily agreeing with the premise behind her words-that when I’d calmed down I wouldn’t mind what Eric had done. I was simply acknowledging the fact that she had a point. Though it made me scream inside, I pushed aside all the things I wanted to say to Eric, because something more urgent was happening here. Even I could see that.
"Listen, here’s the important stuff," I said, and Pam nodded. Eric looked surprised, and his back stiffened. He looked more like himself, more alert and intelligent.
"That girl didn’t just wander in here out of the blue; she was sent," I said.
The vampires looked at each other. They shrugged simultaneously. "I’d never seen her before," Eric said.
"I thought she came in with Felipe’s pickups," Pam said.
"There’s a new guy at the gate." I looked from one to the other. "Where’d Dan Shelley go, tonight of all nights? And after Pam called me and told me to be here at nine, Mustapha called me right back and told me to be here an hour later. Eric, I’m sure that girl tasted different to you?"
"Yes," he said, nodding slowly. "I’m still feeling the effects. She was extra …"
"Like she’d had some kind of supplement?" I suppressed another surge of hurt and anger.
"Yes," he agreed. He got up, but I could see that standing wasn’t easy. "Yes, as if she’d had a Were-and-fairy cocktail." His eyes closed. "Delicious."
Pam said, "Eric, if you hadn’t been hungry, you would have questioned such an opportune arrival."
"Yes," he agreed. "My mind isn’t yet clear, but I see the sense of your words."
"Sookie, what did you get from her thoughts?" Pam asked.
"She was earning money. But she was excited that she might die." I shrugged.
"But she didn’t."
"No, I got here in time to interrupt what would have been a fatal feeding. Right, Eric? Could you have stopped?"
He looked profoundly embarrassed. "Maybe not. My control was almost gone. It was her smell. When she came up to me, she seemed so ordinary. Well, attractive because of the Were blood, but nothing really special. And I certainly didn’t offer her money. Then, suddenly …" He shook his head and gulped.
"Why did her attraction suddenly increase?" Pam was nothing if not pragmatic. "Wait. I apologize. We don’t have time to get lost in the whys and wherefores. We must get through this tonight, us three," she said, looking at me and at Eric in turn. I nodded again. Eric gave a jerk of his head. "Good," she said. "Sookie, you got here just in time. She wasn’t here by accident. She didn’t smell and taste that way by accident. A lot of things happened here tonight that reek of a plot. My friend, I’m going to repeat myself-you have to put aside personal pain for tonight."
I gave Pam a very direct look. If I hadn’t gone into the bedroom, Eric might have drained the woman, and the woman herself had considered that result. I had a hunch something had been set in motion to catch Eric red-handed-red-fanged, more appropriately.
"Go brush your teeth," I told him. "Really scrub. Wash your face; rinse out the sink with lots and lots of water."
Eric didn’t like being told what to do, but he understood expediency very well. He went into the bathroom, leaving the door open. Pam said, "Let me go check on what’s happening with our special guests," and disappeared down the hall into the living room, where the low music had continued without a break.
Eric stepped back into the bedroom, drying his face with a towel. He looked more alert, more present. He hesitated when he saw I was by myself. Eric was pretty much a stranger to relationship problems. From little clues and reminiscences he’d let drop, I’d gotten the picture that during literally centuries of sexual adventures he’d called the shots and the women had said, "Whatever you want, you big handsome Viking." He’d had a fling or two with other vampires. Those had been more balanced connections, but brief. That was all I knew. Eric was not one to brag; he simply took sexual relationships for granted.
I was already feeling calmer. That was all to the good, since I was alone in a room with a man I’d wanted to shoot a few minutes before. Though we weren’t bonded anymore, Eric knew me well enough to realize that he could now speak.
"It was only blood," he said. "I was anxious and hungry, you were late, and I didn’t want to just bite into you the moment I saw you. She came in while I was waiting, and I thought I’d have a quick drink. She smelled so intoxicating."
"So you were trying to spare me," I said, letting sarcasm drip off my words. "I see." Then I made myself shut up.
"I acted impulsively." And his mouth compressed into a straight line.
I considered him. I acted on impulse sometimes, myself. For example, the few previous times I’d been this angry or this hurt, I’d walked out of the situation-not because I wanted the last word or because I wanted to make a dramatic statement, but because I needed alone time to cool off. I took a deep breath. I looked Eric in the eye. I realized we both had to make a huge effort to move past this, at least for tonight. Without conscious thought, I had identified the subtle scent that must have screamed out at Eric’s senses.
"She’s already part Were, and she was doused in the scent of fairy blood to make you want her more," I said. "I believe you’d have had better sense, if not for that. She was a trap. She came here because she expected to make a lot of money if you fed from her, and maybe to flirt with her death wish."