The Unsolved Mysteries Contest (Sample Fic)

Title: Exquisite Beauty

Pen name: Tradermare

Beta's pen name: Bontempscutie

Virgin Writer : No

Unsolved Mystery: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe

On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. (from wikipedia)

Characters: Eric and Sookie

Disclaimers: Eric and Sookie belong to Charlaine Harris


Eric stretched his legs out in front of him with a languid motion, enjoying the relative silence of the bar. Just after closing was his favorite time of night. The walls of Fangtasia no longer shook from the bass beat that blasted from the many strategically placed speakers. Only the soft murmur of the wait-staff mixed with the clink of empty bottles and glasses remained. The human patrons were finally gone, having filled his cash registers with their money in exchange for watered-down drinks and the thrill of interacting with the supernatural. Now that the bar was closed and his Area Five business complete, Eric could finally indulge in planning his evening's pleasure.

He kept his eyes on the waitress as she stretched across the sticky tables, washing the residue of beer and liquor and assorted mixers from the surface. Her short, black skirt rode up the back of her thighs as she reached across to the farthest spots, teasing him with a view of her tanned, bare legs. In his mind, he thought of running his hands up the back of her legs, before raising that skirt as she begged him to take her. He smiled and shifted in his seat.

Then she stopped and turned her head around to look at him, giving him a smirk that said she knew where his eyes had been as she bent over the table. She probably knew what he was thinking, too. He licked his lips, and gave her a nod of approval. With a shake of her head, and a laugh, she returned to her work.

He felt a twinge of annoyance that her blouse was no longer crisp and white, as it had been when she started working. The fabric sported a multitude of assorted stains and creases, evidence of her hard work that evening. But then his gaze turned to more pleasant things as he noticed how her ample breasts caused a gap between the buttons, teasing him with glimpses of white lace and pale pink ribbons. He wondered if she wore matching panties, and vowed silently to find out before the night was through. She brushed the hair back from her face, the band around her tight ponytail no longer containing her silky blonde hair. Errant wisps of golden strands framed her face.

She was absolutely beautiful, and she was his.

Eric smiled as she moved to the next table, watching her repeat her actions. She belonged in his bar and not as a waitress or barmaid, but he knew it would take time for her to accept him in that way. With each night she spent at Fangtasia, he sensed he was closer to his goal of having her with him all the time. She would quit working at the shifters bar. It was only a matter of time before he got what he wanted.

If they had been alone, he would have pulled her into his arms and kissed her until she no longer thought about work. But he knew better. Pam was at the bar, and Felicia was restocking the coolers, while busboys washed the glasses in the back. There were too many onlookers in the bar for that. He had a much better chance of seduction once they were back in the private environment of his office. He would just have to wait.

She finished wiping down the tables that lined the perimeter of the dance floor and was just about to lift the bus-tray full of used glasses and plates when he stopped her.

"Leave it, Sookie." He stretched his hand out to her.

She threw the bar mop into the tub and placed her small hand into his. He pulled her between his outstretched legs until his arm curled around her waist. He loved how he fit perfectly into her curves, as if she had been formed just for him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and settled into his lap, her legs draped across his strong thighs. His large hands gently massaged her calves. His reward was her soft sigh of contentment as he worked the smooth texture of her warm skin covering her athletic frame.

"Better?" He kissed the top of her head.

"Yes, much better. That feels wonderful. What a long night. You really need to hire some more reliable help, Eric."

Then she looked up at him, her eyes narrow and her lips curled into a sly smile "Or is this all part of your plan to get me to work for you instead of Sam? Because I know what you are up to, Eric Northman." Although she seemed to be chiding him, her voice was soft and husky and full of promise.

He placed a finger under her chin, and turned her face to his. "No plan, Sookie. But I will not lie about this. I want you here, and I would prefer that you were here as my wife, not as my barmaid or waitress. But I will take what you are willing to give me."

Sookie leaned up and gave him a quick kiss, before she gestured at the television mounted above the bar. "Hey, look! Vincent Price! I love his movies!"

Eric gave her a playful smirk. "Nice change of subject, Sookie."

He knew this was all part of the game they played. If he pressed too hard, she would insist upon going back to Bon Temps. No, he would not be denied so easily. He would seduce her, just like he planned, treading carefully around the roadblocks she would throw in his way. "You like this movie? What is it called?"

"It's House of Usher. A classic! Tara and I would watch these old movies every Friday night when I was a kid. Gran would watch with us sometimes." She paused, a hint of sadness crossing her face. Then she smiled again. "Vincent Price was so creepy and campy in these movies. You didn't know whether to laugh or hide behind your hands. He made a whole bunch of scary movies like this. Have you seen them?"

"I am sure I have at some point, although I do not recall this particular story. Would you like to watch together? Maybe in the office? Or we can go back to my house?" Eric nuzzled her neck, enjoying Sookie's renewed energy. Things were definitely looking up. A scary movie might be just what he was looking for.

Sookie arched her neck to give him better access. "Can we just stay here? I might fall asleep on the ride to your house."

"Agreed. I do have one condition." He whispered in her ear.

"Yes?" She gasped as his lips teased her throat.

Eric became very still. He waited until he could feel Sookie's anticipation, then he whispered again. "You remove whatever you have on under that skirt."

Sookie pulled away from his lips, so that she could look him in the eye. She raised her eyebrows and with a flirtatious smile on her face, she replied. "What makes you think I have something on under my skirt, Mr. Northman? Maybe I've been serving your customers all night without..." She giggled.

He knew she was bluffing, but Eric growled low in his throat, his hand inching up Sookie's thigh. "What will it cost me to find out?"

Sookie giggled. "Watch the movie with me? No area business, no phone calls...and I promise to be agreeable." She waggled her eyebrows.

In one motion, Eric stood up, holding Sookie in his strong arms. Over his shoulder, he called out, "Pam, lock up and go home."

He ignored Pam's sarcastic reply and kissed Sookie deeply as he carried her to his office, calculating how long it would take to get under her skirt. He pushed the office door open with his foot, and set her down gently once they were inside. She kept her arms around his neck, reaching up to remove the tie holding back his long blond hair. She fluffed his silky mane with her fingers and gave him a quick kiss.

"I'll put the movie on—you get the blankets, okay?" she said.

He grabbed the thick, silky comforters he kept in the closet of his office for moments like these. The leather couch with it's washable surface was more ideal for feeding or a quick amorous rendezvous, but not so compatible with snuggling. If he had any hope of taking advantage of Sookie's promise to be agreeable, comfort was of the utmost importance. Eric lit a few candles around the room and flicked off the harsh fluorescent light before he locked the office door. Then he took his seat on the couch, spreading the blankets around him to make a fluffy, down-filled nest for Sookie.

Sookie found the remote control for the television hidden beneath one of the piles of paper on his desk. She quickly tuned it to the channel playing the movie. The screen filled with images of a decrepit mansion set to strains of violins and other instruments. He held back a laugh at the hackneyed attempt at suspense, but any reservations he had about watching the movie vanished when Sookie turned around and gave him a broad smile. She kicked off her shoes and stood in front of him for a moment, her hands on her hips. Then she raised her skirt and reached underneath, her sun-tanned legs and the scent of her arousal teasing him.

A low growl formed in Eric's throat, the tips of his fangs showing as he inhaled her scent and caught the first taste of her in the air. She edged the panties down her legs, pausing for a moment so he could see the Fantasia logo on them. Her seductive smile caused something in him to stir, and when she put the panties in her pocket, he had to resist the urge to throw her on the couch and take her right then.

The sounds of the movie then caught Sookie's attention, and she turned around to look at the screen, giving him a view of her shapely bottom. Her shirt hung loosely at her waist, having been released from the restriction of the skirt's waistband. She backed up to the couch as she watched the movie, and Eric was just about to pull her into his lap when she pivoted toward him and held out her hand.

"Phone," she said with a seductive smile.

Eric pulled his cell phone from the pocket of his jeans, set it to vibrate and placed it on the table next to the couch. Once she was satisfied he was making an attempt to ignore all calls, Sookie curled up on the couch, sliding her body next to his until she found a comfortable spot under his arm. She rested her head on his broad chest and pulled the blanket over both of them.

"Very nice, lover."

"Shhh," she admonished.

He settled in, holding her close against his body while his hands found strategic positions near her most sensitive places. Then he waited.

The movie was dark and moody, punctuated liberally with music that reached a crescendo with every suspenseful moment. Eric wasn't sure if Sookie was scared or amused, but she was definitely aroused when she clutched at his shirt in feigned fear. She let his hand slide under her skirt to follow her lovely curves, each caress of her smooth skin waking something in her as he explored her tender valleys. She made no move to stop him later when his explorations became more insistent and his expert fingers slid between her folds to fondle her softest, most intimate places. Her body responded to his touch, arching and moving with him. She answered by letting him in, allowing him to dip and stroke inside her until the room was perfumed with her sex. She never took her eyes off the old gothic on the screen, and her soft sounds of pleasure came almost in time with the building strains of violins dominating the movie.

And then she wasn't watching the movie anymore. She arched her neck toward him, her milky white throat displayed in a long line before him. Her body molded around his. Eric couldn't take his eyes off the delicious vein that pulsed in time with the fingers he pressed inside her, and his fangs ran down in anticipation. But he controlled his urge to bite, knowing she wasn't quite ready yet. When he pressed his palm against her clitoris as his fingers found her most sensitive spot inside, her body tightened. That was when he leaned down and pierced her throat with his fangs, setting off an explosive climax that had Sookie crying out his name.

He took a draw of her sweet blood, and then tenderly licked the wounds. When they were both coherent again, the House of Usher burned in flames as the closing credits rolled on the screen.

Sookie sat up and took Eric's face in her hands, kissing him tenderly. "Hmmm, we should watch these movies together more often."

He wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her back. "Yes, I would enjoy that lover."

Sookie giggled. "Oh, I can see it now. You'll have a stack of movies for us to watch the next time we're together. They did make a bunch of movies based on Edgar Allan Poe stories. Have you heard of Edgar Allan Poe?"

Eric stroked Sookie's back and then began to recite, his voice clear and low.

"For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side

Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,

In the sepulchre there by the sea,

In her tomb by the sounding sea."

Sookie stared at Eric, a surprised look on her face. "Oh, Eric, that's beautiful. Annabel Lee, right? We read that in high school. When did you learn it or is that a silly question?" She paused for a moment. "Wait a minute. You didn't know him, did you? Edgar Allan Poe?" Sookie tilted her head and gave him a quizzical look.

"I learned it from the man himself. He recited that poem every night I knew him. It was one of his last published poems."

"Are you pulling my leg, Eric Northman?"

"Not at all. What would you like to know about him? I can't tell you much, since I only knew him personally in his last days. He was not a well man."

"Yes, I'd love to hear you tell me about him." Sookie reached out and stroked his face. "I love when you tell me about your past. It's one of the things I love the most about you."

Eric's lips curled into a rakish smile. "Really Sookie, I thought you loved other parts of me. As a matter of fact, those parts are quite eager to continue to please you."

She leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. "The night is still young, and I think I'll stay here in Shreveport with you tomorrow, if that's all right with you? Then whatever we don't finish tonight, we can finish when you rise."

Eric nuzzled her neck. "Yes, lover, I would like that very much. Would you like to hear my story first, or when we get back to my house?"

"I think you'd better tell me now, because I think we'll be busy once we get back to your house." She said, the promise of pleasure vibrating in her voice as she waggled her eyebrows at him.

^V^

1849

Eric stood in the shadows watching the travelers come ashore at the Broadway Pier in Fell's Point, Baltimore. It was the perfect place to hunt, and his nest was well fed. Ships traveled up the Chesapeake Bay, bringing their cargo and travelers to the Pier where he sized them up. He owned a little bar about a block from the docks, called The Horse, and a newly turned Pam managed the bar while he lured the male travelers to the establishment. Once there, he could have his way with them, using the power of his glamour to erase their memories of him, his bar, and his fangs. Money and blood—it was all they needed to survive. The docks were the perfect place for them to hide in plain sight.

He had turned Pam a few years ago and taken her as a lover. They were happy there, running the bar together and looking out for the other vampires in the area. Many humans traveled through the seaport each day, and there was always a wide selection of unsuspecting breathers. They targeted those traveling alone, or drunk, or wanting to get out of the rain, or just plain tired after a long journey. They were very likely to have money in their pockets. Hand-picking their clientele and a little caution was all that was needed to keep their true nature hidden.

Each night, they fed from the unsuspecting. Before dawn, Eric would fly Pam to their nest in an old farm house, where the basement was completely underground and gave them a safe place to rest during the day. If for some reason they had to stay down at the docks, there was an old graveyard close to the bar, and they could always share a crypt with its current occupants. It wasn't ideal, but it gave them options.

The money they fleeced from the humans paid the bar bills and anything left over was kept in a fund for the nest. For the most part, that nest consisted of Eric and Pam. From time to time other vampires would stay with them for a few weeks to a month, working at the bar until they could move on to a new destination. He also allowed other vampires into his bar for feeding, for a fee. It was a profitable venture. After taking their fill, they healed the patrons wounds and glamoured them before sending them on their way. It was easy to stay out of sight down at Fell's Point, where patrons had many bars and hotels to choose from.

It was a day like any other in the autumn of night had a coolness to it that suggested the leaves had just started to turn, and birds flocked to the wharf as they made their way south. Eric stood in the shadows near the docks, appraising the human offerings. The boat from Richmond had just docked, and the travelers were scrambling to find lodging for the evening.

A man staggered as he walked down the wooden gangplank, tripping over the uneven boards. Eric spotted him immediately, and reached out to right him when he almost fell, grabbing the short, dark-haired man by the arm.

One deep whiff told him that the man was ill, and did not have long to live. Eric thought about releasing him, preferring a more healthy human for sustenance, but something he couldn't put his finger on stopped him. "Are you in need of assistance? Lodging? Food? Drink?" Eric asked, giving the man a closer look.

"Drink," replied the man.

"I have just the place. Come with me."

Eric took the man by the elbow and after a quick walk away from the wharf, they stood at the door of his bar. Pam looked up when they entered the dark tavern, a relieved expression on her face. Tonight wasn't a good night to leave her alone. Elections were taking place, and the officers in charge of the vote liked to spot check the bars for potential voters along Fell's Point. That meant humans they hadn't pre-selected were in the bar, which was always a dangerous proposition.

He deposited the ailing human on a bar stool and came around to give Pam a kiss and a spank, as any good bar owner on the docks would do. Pam glared at him, and gave him a playful push when he came closer for another kiss.

Eric laughed and spoke to the stranger he had just brought into the bar. "My lady, she's angry with me."

The man raked his eyes over Eric, giving every inch of him a thorough perusal, even going so far as to look at his backside. "She will not stay angry for long. Of that, I'm certain," the stranger replied with raised eyebrows and a tip of his head.

Eric laughed. "You are quite right. What is your name?"

"Edgar, Edgar Allan Poe, and your name, sir?"

"Eric Northman. What will you have to drink, Edgar? Ale? Wine? Perhaps something more substantial?"

"Red wine, thank you."

Eric thought hard for a moment. The American Review. That's where he had read the name before. "You say your name is Edgar Allan Poe? The poet and writer?"

Edgar gave him a pleased look. "You know of me?"

"Of course! I've had the good fortune to read your works. How do you happen to be in Baltimore?"

"I'm on my way to Philadelphia. I have written a new poem. Would you like to hear it? I expect it to be published soon."

"I would like that very much, Edgar."

When Eric realized who was about to do a poetry reading in his bar, he didn't want Pam to miss out, and signaled for her to come closer. "Pam, our new friend, Edgar, is going to read us a poem. I think you will like it."

Edgar pulled a sheaf of papers from his breast pocket, and paged through them until he found what he was looking for. He smoothed the paper in front of him, and began to speak. It was the poem, Annabel Lee. His mouth didn't just speak the words, but seemed to caress each syllable as if it was his most tender offspring. By the time he reached the last stanza, the entire bar was still, hypnotized by the melodic stanzas and curiously macabre content.

Everyone at the bar yelled for more. Edgar read the rest of what he had in his pocket, graciously entertaining the patrons of The Horse until the wee hours of the morning. Eric stopped him just before dawn, offering Edgar a bed in his office for as long as he chose to stay in Fell's Point. There was Edgar's safety to consider. Even though Edgar had only a single glass of wine, he seemed very unsteady on his feet, and Eric imagined he might become the victim of some unscrupulous criminal.

Eric let everyone in the bar know that the poet was under his protection, and that Edgar was off-limits for feeding, fleecing or any other activity that might come to mind. Anyone breaking that rule would feel Eric's wrath, which most knew to be in proportion to his generosity. No vampire would dare to touch Edgar, and he occupied the little office room for four nights.

Every night he would read to the bar patrons. There were short stories, and poems, and new prose that he would draft during the daylight hours when he couldn't sleep. Edgar was magnificent in his words and delivery. When he would tire, he begged Eric to tell him stories of his travels. Eric and Edgar talked until moments before dawn, forcing Eric to rest in a crypt in the local graveyard. He didn't ask Pam to do the same, but she was more comfortable spending her daytime hours with Eric instead of alone. On the third night, Edgar gave his stack of handwritten poems and prose to Eric for safekeeping. He placed them in the bar safe, protecting them as if they were his own.

It saddened Eric to know Edgar did not have long to live. Edgar wore the smell of death like a suit, and Eric contemplated what he might do to change the course of Edgar's short life. It really wasn't his way to interfere in the lives of humans, but he mourned the soon-to-be loss of Edgar's artistry.

On the fourth night of his stay, Edgar kept to the tiny bed in Eric's office, and Eric worried that the end was near. He waited anxiously for Edgar to come out to the bar for his nightly poetry reading. He didn't appear until almost midnight, staggering into the bar and tripping over a chair before Eric caught him and helped him into his seat. He clenched something in his hand, and when Eric examined it, he found a paper covered with illegible scribbles.

Once he was settled in at his table, Edgar started to recite his works from memory, swallowing wine in greedy gulps between stanzas. Not wanting to see his friend suffer any longer, Eric made a decision—a decision to offer Edgar a longer life.

Eric and Pam watched over Edgar until the bar closed. At times he was almost lucid, before slipping back into delirium. It was during one of those more sober moments, when Eric spoke up.

He placed his hand over Edgar's. "You are ill, my friend."

With a great sigh, he looked up at Eric. "Yes, I know. There is no other explanation for the pain in my head."

"I can help you, Edgar. Free you from the pain."

"What can you do? You are not a physician. I am too far gone. There is no help for me now."

"What if you could live forever? No more pain, with more years to write, to create...would you take it?"

Edgar gave him a questioning look, and for a moment, Eric thought he was lost to the delirium again. "But how can that be? All things decay. All things die."

Eric turned his hand palm up. "Feel my hand, Edgar. There is no warmth, for I do not breathe as you do. Yet, I live." Eric pulled a knife from his pocket and ran it down his arm. The wound healed immediately. "I do not feel pain, nor suffer injury." Eric paused. "This I can offer you, Edgar."

"How?" he asked. Then Edgar pulled his hand away, recoiling from Eric. "What are you?"

Eric let his fangs run down. "I am vampire."

Edgar gasped, and turned pale. "Christabel." He whispered.

Eric leaned back and laughed. "Yes, Coleridge did tell quite a story with that poem, did he not?"

Edgar sat back in his chair, and thought for a moment. Then he let out a hearty laugh.

"There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion." Edgar quoted from his short story, Ligeia, as he looked around the bar. But as he raised his glass to his lips, his body shook with violent spasms, and most of the wine spilled on his clothing. Eric held him tightly in his arms until the shaking stopped.

The delirium had returned, and Edgar paced around the bar, looking at Eric through frightened eyes, tearing at his hair and screaming "No!"

Pam placed her hand on Eric's shoulder and gave him a comforting smile. They both knew there was only one solution to their predicament, and as much as they regretted having to take this course of action, they knew they must. They moved quickly.

"Pam, I need a change of clothes. Do we have anything in the back that will fit him?"

"Let me check, Eric. Will you be able to glamour him in this state? What if his illness prevents it?"

Eric smiled in an attempt to put Pam's mind at ease. "I won't know until I try, but I'm not worried. His condition is such that I doubt anyone would pay attention to him anyway, but we don't want him dying here."

"I'll go look for those clothes."

Eric nodded and turned his attention to Edgar, who now sat at a table in the back of the bar. Perfect. He froze Edgar in his seat with his glamour, waiting for Pam to bring the clothes. Then they stripped him of his wet, wine stained clothing and dressed him in clothes that were one size too big.

Then Eric went to work on him, erasing Edgar's memories from the time he had arrived on the Broadway Pier. With a heavy heart, he carried his friend to another tavern a few blocks away, leaving him on a bench out front. It was the last Eric saw of him. Four days later, Edgar was dead.

It wasn't until months later Eric realized that Edgar Allan Poe's last writings were in his safe.

^V^

Sookie's mouth hung open as she stared at Eric. "You were one of the last people to be with Edgar Allan Poe? Really?" She shook her head in disbelief.

Eric nodded his head, trying not to look too pleased with himself. "Yes, that is true."

Sookie looked around the floor and then she stopped. "Hey wait a minute, what happened to all the poems he left you? You made that story up, didn't you?" Sookie reached down and retrieved her shoe from under the couch.

"No, I did not. You can ask Pam. Of course, she might not want speak of those days. She was considerably more docile back then." He said with a broad smile.

Sookie laughed. "I see your point. It was a good story, Eric."

"Sookie, you hurt me. I have the papers right here." Eric went over to his wall safe and dialed the combination. The door opened with a snap, and he sent his hand back into the farthest reaches of the space, coming back with a small wooden box. He held it out to Sookie and then pulled it back when she reached for it.

"You want to see what's in this box, Sookie? Confirm my story is truthful?" He teased.

She repeated his words from earlier in the evening. "What will it cost me to find out?"

Eric tapped his finger on his chin. "I'm sure I can think of something. Let's start with those lovely little panties in your pocket—"

Sookie laughed. "Start with? Okay, well, I need to see the goods first." She gestured with her hand for him to open the box.

Eric unhooked the clasp on the box and handed it to Sookie. She lifted the lid, and went over and turned on the fluorescent light. Then she looked at the papers inside. She gasped, and looked at Eric, her eyes wide.

"Oh Eric, this is amazing. Do you know what you have here?" Her voice was quiet and reverent.

Eric gently cradled Sookie's face in his hands, his fingers stroking her cheek. In an equally quiet voice, he said, "It would be my pleasure for you to have them, Sookie."

"Eric, I can't. This is too much. Do you know what these are worth?"

He wrapped her in his arms, and placed his finger on her lips to silence her. Then he kissed her lips. "No, but I know it is not nearly enough."

She held onto him for a while before she spoke, and her voice shook with emotion. "Please put these back for safekeeping then. And some night, I would like it if you read them to me, okay?"

"As you wish, my lover." He put the box back in the safe and gathered up his keys and phone. He took her hand and shut off the lights. Then he smiled as he drove her to his Shreveport home, his plan for seduction executed to perfection.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the story. Much love to my darling beta on this story, my friend and writing partner, Bontempscutie.

If you are a Night Huntress fan, then you might enjoy the NH fanfiction story I'm writing with Bontempscutie under the pen name OTD4500. It's full of action and angst, and includes some new characters along with the wonderful Night Huntress characters created by Jeaniene Frost.

You can find it at www . fanfiction s / 6652451 / 1 / Choices