Of all the situations I’d found myself in over the years, faking my way through the remainder of Spoiling Day proved to be one of the worst. I’d have preferred being silvered, but at least I wasn’t alone.
Unavoidable as the situation was, it would have been nice if Lafayette had waited to call Sookie. It’s not as though he could’ve known Merlotte would’ve managed to ruin our evening… for that matter, Merlotte probably didn’t know the extent of his actions, but while Tina and Shelly wandered between racks of infant clothing, Sookie apologized quietly, explaining that her heart just wasn’t in it.
Since she’d only taken my blood once, it was easy for me to partition Sookie’s feelings from mine… but it didn’t matter. We were trapped, watching a shit storm roll towards us, and there didn’t seem like a way to come out smelling like roses.
As it was, Sookie and I barely managed to pace the aisles of Babies R Us and pretend to be engaged in the task…
Her shields seemed to be working well enough for the girls to not notice and that was all we could let ourselves be concerned about for the time being.
I’d done my best to slip a few pink, purple or yellow items into the cart because the girls were smart enough to have noticed something was amiss if I hadn’t.
Sookie fooled herself into oblivion for long enough to replace the carseat and diaper bag, choose a few blue blankets, but she didn’t want to do more shopping because she wanted to be able to enjoy the task, not simply get through it.
We thought we’d done well… Sookie had only faltered once and that was only because we passed a rack of shirts that had slogans such as ‘Daddy’s Little Helper’ and ‘Don’t Make Me Call My Daddy’. She misted up and pretended to be interested in tiny Santa suits, mumbling, “If he’d lived long enough, he could’ve bought those just to piss me off.” Then she cleared her throat and called Merlotte an asshole. It didn’t escape me that she was referring to him in the past tense.
We hadn’t done well enough.
As soon as I started the car so that we could go home, Tina asked what was wrong because we were in bad moods.
I bought us some time by saying we should get settled in at home before we talked about anything.
Sookie added panic to her pool of feelings and chewed her fingernails until I took her hand to hold it.
The girls worked diligently to help unload all of the purchases and ran upstairs to put on their new ‘Big Sister’ night shirts.
They weren’t willing to wait for information and they were eliminating our stall tactics.
When they came back downstairs, they climbed onto barstools at the kitchen counter. Sookie and I hadn’t managed to think of anything to say, or debate, or decide.
The only thing I could figure was that lying to them would be pointless. They’d discover the truth eventually and the last thing we needed was for them to not trust us anymore than they did Merlotte.
Tina, all business, glared at us with her arms folded until she couldn’t take the silence anymore. “Did y’all fight?”
“Is that what you’re worried about? No. Your mother and I haven’t argued.”
“K… then what’d Daddy do?” Too smart.
Sookie whimpered and bit her lip. “I… Eric, I don’t know…”
I growled at her, only half flustered that I was left to explain because the other half of me was honored that she trusted me to do it. “Girls, your father did something very stupid tonight.”
Shelly squeaked, “He dead? Mommy thought ‘bout dead…”
“No. He’s not dead… that doesn’t mean that he won’t be soon though.”
“He killed a Vampire tonight…”
They both gasped.
“Girls, the problem is he did it with witnesses. There’s no shortage of people who saw him… the Vampire…”
Shelly interrupted, “Vampires come back.” Fuck.
“There are ways to kill a Vampire for good… The Vampire your father killed still has a Maker. Can you imagine how upset I’d be if someone killed Pam?”
Tina’s face contorted, eyes spilling. I fucking hated it. “The Maker’s gonna kill Daddy?”
“It’s possible… This isn’t something I have any power to control. Makers are allowed to get their own justice.”
“You’d kill someone for hurting Pam?”
“Absolutely. I’d kill someone for hurting you too.”
“I don’ like Daddy… but I don wannem dead.”
Shelly whimpered, “Can’t do nothin’?”
“I can try, but the only thing I’ve thought of would mean you wouldn’t be able to see him anymore… and it still might not work.”
“What!?” Both of them asked in unison while Sookie gasped behind me.
“If he ran away, which I can’t make him do, he might escape the Vampire’s Maker, but she won’t forget. He could be found eventually.”
“K… but he’d live?” It would probably be kinder if I just snapped Merlotte’s neck. If Lorena had to look for him for any period of time, she’d torture him endlessly, healing him just enough to prolong her fun.
“Maybe. Do you think you can help your mother think about something else, while I…”
They cut me off by nodding and promising to distract Sookie.
I kissed their foreheads. “Try to stay awake. So I can give you news when I get back. I shouldn’t be gone long.” I had Sookie follow me to the study so I could withdraw enough for Merlotte to use as mad money. If it wasn’t for the girls, I’d call Lorena and give her directions in exchange for a video of Merlotte’s suffering.
Sookie whimpered, “What are you going to do?”
“I need you to call Calvin and have him meet me at the Sheriffs’ station in 20 minutes. I’m going to arrange for Merlotte’s release…”
“Why? Eric, just let him rot. He brought it on himself.”
“It’s Spoiling Day… I have to do whatever the girls ask of me, remember?”
“Don’t you think you’ll get caught if you glamour him out of jail?”
“I’m not new here, Sookie. I’ll take care of it.”
“He doesn’t deserve your help.”
“Do you think he deserves to be tortured and tormented in ways you can’t even begin to imagine?”
“He’s an epic pain in your ass. I want nothing more than to end that prick for what he’s done to you… We wouldn’t lose much sleep if Lorena got to him, but what do you think Compton’s Maker will do to their father when she finds him? When she finds out that her child did nothing to provoke him?”
“He’s in jail. He’s safer there than…”
I tucked $5,000 into my back pocket as I stood up. “If I can glamour to have him released, Lorena can too. Call Calvin for me. Explain what Merlotte did if he doesn’t know already and have him meet me at the Sheriff’s station.”
When I tried to walk past her, she grabbed my wrist to stop me… wrapped her arms around my sides… finally let herself cry. She choked, “I’ll never forgive you if you get in trouble trying to help that piece of shit.”
“I’m not doing it for him… Try to relax. We still have plenty to think about. I’ll be home soon.”
Fortunately, Norris was waiting in his truck not far from the station…
And in an even better stroke of luck, the building didn’t seem to have a back-up generator, making my plans to kill the power easier… One uprooted tree falling on a transformer was easy to believe.
I watched for a moment while the large tree caught fire and the few nearby buildings’ electricity died… waiting for 2 deputies to leave the station to look into the reason for the noise and the outage…
Norris ran to my side, more curious that anything else. “What the hell you doing? You could just buy fireworks.”
I chuckled at him. “I need a diversion, not a fine.”
He tipped his head from side to side. “Alright… Sook said you wanted me out here, but she was too upset to give me a lot of details. I brought 3 other guys since I wasn’t sure what you needed.”
“Did you think you were coming out here to help me kill Merlotte?”
“Yeah… I’m not?” Just precious.
“I wouldn’t need help or witnesses. Send them home.”
I nodded. “Hurry up. I want to get back to the house.”
As he turned around and went to the truck parked behind his, he couldn’t have looked more surprised if I offered to suck his dick.
It was cute that one of the Weres he’d brought with him didn’t want to leave him with a Vampire after one of theirs killed one of mine.
Even though there was an emergency power source providing dim light to the building, the lights on the security cameras were off…
The only individual occupying the lobby of the station was a large, unattractive man who stood at attention quickly enough to bang his thighs into the desk. “What are you doing here, Norris?”
“I thought I’d come to check on Sam.”
The goon shook his head. “Sorry. I can’t let you do that…”
As though Norris knew what I had in mind, he pointed to me. “Aw, c’mon Bellefleur. This guy came all the way from Shreveport to see him. I told him you wouldn’t be a stickler about visiting hours…”
As soon as he looked at me, I took control… he was so simple that children had been more difficult. “I’m going to need Sam Merlotte’s personal effects and a few minutes to speak with him.”
When he nodded, his chin disappeared into his thick neck.
He took a brown paper grocery bag from one of the desks and passed it to me over the counter. “I’ll need the key to his cell too…” When he handed it over, he looked like he wanted to be rewarded with a cookie. “Sit down. Let us know if someone comes in. I’ll call you if we need anything.”
He nodded. “Yes, sir. Thank you.” and pointed to a doorway behind the desk.
As we walked towards the back, Norris chuckled quietly. “That’s just… Wow. That help with Sookie at all?”
“My life would be easier if any of them could be glamoured. Especially tonight.”
“Mind readers can’t be glamoured apparently.”
He snorted, “Good luck with the handful you took on then. Stubborn’s in their DNA.”
“All Faeries are stubborn… the remarkable thing about ‘My handful’ is how loveable they are in spite of that blemish in their pedigree.”
“Amen… they are that. You’re already hooked, huh?”
“That would be an understatement.”
As we turned the corner, Merlotte jumped from his cot and began pacing… I let him speculate about why I was there until I made sure the other cells were empty.
Seeing the way he struggled to look unbreakable even though he was terrified was almost too much fun.
I actually began chuckling, “You really know how to shit where you eat, don’t you Merlotte?”
“I’m not in the mood for your bullshit…”
“I can leave. Let you sit in here long enough for Compton’s Maker to get here. She’ll have a lot of fun with you, maybe even turn you so that you can be her bitch forever… Or, you can shut the fuck up and listen to your options.”
“Why the fuck would I care about what you have to say? Just kill me for staking your little fangy friend and get it over with.”
“Not that you care, but I have more pressing matters to get to…”
“Like running damage control, you insolent prick! Some stack of shit murdered a Vampire in my Area tonight… That Vampire just so happened to be sent BY THE QUEEN to acquire a TELEPATH! What an awesome windfall for her Majesty… to find out that one of her Sheriffs has claimed to protect the telepath she wants to add to her toy box and that she’s bred MORE OF THEM!”
He covered his mouth for a moment before he lunged for the commode in his cell. I let him retch for a while before I continued, “In all your infinite wisdom, you publically killed a Vampire whose final death will be the first thing Sophie-Ann hears about tomorrow night when she rises. If you weren’t busy playing your asinine woe-is-me games, we’d have been able to find out why he was looking for Sookie. If he’d been left in the dark about her ability, then we’d have a better idea of what we’re looking at. We could’ve bought some time. Instead of worrying that your wife was going to find out about your other children, maybe you should have thought that it’s just as likely that Sookie and the children could be given royal protection as it is that they’d be taken as slaves.”
He whined into the bowl, “There’s nothing I can do, is there?”
“You definitely don’t have many options.”
He snorted, “I’m sure they’re great. Lemme here ‘em.”
“You could hang yourself in your cell tonight after leaving a sentimental suicide note for your children.”
He shook his head before he started gagging again. “My… my survival instincts… I’d shift. It wouldn’t work.”
“Congratulations. It takes a special breed of retard to fuck up a suicide. I promised your children I’d help you, so unfortunately, I can’t kill you.”
Calvin offered, “I didn’t promise.”
I smiled at him. “But the girls would catch you…”
“SHIT! That’s why you had me come, isn’t it? Your witness that you didn’t hurt him.”
“Only in part. He doesn’t seem to listen to me.”
“Yeah, well fuck him. He’s too busy being butt-hurt to realize how good you are to his family. He don’t deserve how much you do for them.” Fuck. Another part of the country heard from.
Moving on, “Merlotte, your other option is to run.”
“Run where? I’m stuck in here.”
“That’s why I’m here, you imbecile. You could stay, but I think I already covered what would happen to you while you waited for your trial.”
He laughed into the bowl and spit a few times before he flushed and stood up. “Ok. I run. Then what?”
“Then I put a bounty on your head. I can’t let the murder of a Vampire by a Shifter slide. The story will be that your Packmaster came to me to bring my attention to the murder. You’ll be disavowed, abjured… you’ll have to get the fuck out of the state tonight…”
“And never see my kids again!”
“Not until Lorena is as dead as Compton. There isn’t much wiggle room there. You made this bed. You’ll establish an email address in Hadley’s name so you can email letters to the children. You’ll send gifts to them at Fangtasia and use Jason’s address as the return to make sure they get to them. None of it will raise any attention because it’s coming from ‘family’… It’s better than not ever having contact again.”
“I might as well be dead!”
“No. When you’re dead, you don’t get emails or the ability to spoil them via UPS. This isn’t just about what you want. The girls understand if you don’t disappear you’re likely to be killed in retaliation for your crime against Compton. They’d rather know you through emails than have you die.”
“You told them what I did!?”
“You want me to lie to telepaths? They can’t read my mind, but Pam and I are the only ones they wouldn’t get that information from. Those girls are inquisitive. Sookie only stopped reading minds because she wanted to.”
“That’s it? You open the cage and set me loose?”
“And warn you that if you ever come back, I’ll kill you myself. I’m not stupid enough to risk their lives by letting you get close to them again.”
“And you live happily ever after with MY wife and MY kids.”
“I was going to do that regardless of your murder charge, sweetheart. You lost it all a month ago. I didn’t have anything to do with that… Maybe you can find a sweet little piece of Shifter ass up in Oregon, have a kid or two with her and when you’re buying Christmas and birthday gifts for the 6 children you’ve had to desert, it’ll remind you of what being a complete fucking cocksucker can do to end a family in the blink of an eye. Sookie’s given you a month to settle down. How did you not catch on?”
He scowled at me for long enough that I was ready to walk out and leave him to Lorena.
Norris started shaking his head. “You thick asshole. If you stay, you’re fucked.”
“If I leave I’m fucked, Calvin!”
The Packmaster huffed, “Not as much as you should be, stupid. You wanna be a sore loser, that’s fine. Northman ‘stole’ your wife and kids. Boo fucking Hoo. At least they were stolen by someone who’s good to ‘em. I know you can’t see it over the chip you got on your shoulder, but you couldn’t have asked for them to be better off… I know he’d rather kill you ‘cuz I’d rather kill you right now… he’s only helping you because it’s what your kids want. He’s better at doing for them than you ever were. If you cared half as much for your kids as you say you do, then you’d put your fucking boots on and run.”
“Or I could go home and eat a bullet…”
“You go right on ahead with yourself, sport. The kids will add ‘coward’ to their vocabularies. Make your choice. We got families to get back to.”
“Thanks for rubbing that in!”
“Pssh, boy I got a family ‘cuz I know how to cover my fucking tracks. Same for Northman. Going once… Going twice…”
Merlotte huffed, “FUCK! Alrightalright… Let me out.”
I glamoured Bellefleur to think he’d checked on Merlotte when he heard him vomiting, then the Shifter escaped by locking the oaf in the cell… He probably wouldn’t ever live down that he’d been a big enough idiot to let a murderer break out, but judging by the journals, he was a comedy of errors waiting to happen.
With only half of the problem taken care of, I made my way home, not as worried about explaining the outcome of my meeting with Merlotte to Tina and Shelly…
But the 20 minutes of complete silence didn’t give me the answers I needed to keep Sookie and the girls, possibly Magnusson as well, safe from Sophie-Ann’s notorious greed. By the time I was close to home I was saying a prayer to ‘whoever was listening’ that something brilliant would come to me.
Tina and Shelly were waiting for me at the door to the patio. Both of them biting their lips and more tense than any child their age should have to be.
I didn’t make them wait… I simply scooped them up and took them towards Sookie while I explained that I’d enlighten them all at the same time.
I sat with them on the sofa in the study, since I’d found Sookie at the desk with her laptop, scribbling notes on a legal pad.
“Because I can’t excuse what he did, I have to offer a reward if he’s brought to me, but by the time I send out the word he’ll be long gone…” Before I could finish, the girls were fighting to get all of their arms around my neck. “He’s going to start emailing your mother letters from an account in cousin Hadley’s name… so we’ll be able to read them to you and you can dictate your letters to him through us. You won’t be able to see him, but he’s going to know all about how you’re doing. I can’t do anything if that Vampire’s Maker finds him though, but at least this way he’ll have some contact with you.”
Tina sobbed, “He can’t be mean in a email. Tha’s good, right?” I should’ve just killed him.
“No, he can’t… You might not get excellent visits, but you’ll be able to enjoy emails.”
Shelly whimpered, “Good… how’dya gettem out?”
“Long or short version?”
“I pushed a tree onto some power lines so the power would go out in the station. The security cameras were off that way. I glamoured the detective to give me the key to his cell. Calvin helped me talk to him since he doesn’t like me. Then I glamoured the detective to get into your father’s cell while he ran off to get a few things before leaving town.”
Tina let go of me enough to sit back and grimace. “We can’t use nunna that.” Silly me. I’d thought they were just curious… they wanted tactical tips.
I chuckled, “Sorry. We have different abilities… Are you two alright? He’s safe for now.”
Shelly finally sat back to wipe the tears from her face. “Only one sec’n chance. This is his.” I’d told them that the night before when they were getting a second chance at the round they’d lost to the Weres.
I nodded at the little sponge on my lap. “Yes ma’am, you’re right about that. We’ve helped him all we can at this point. What he does with his second chance is his choice.”
She nodded, seeming to fully understand the situation. “Mommy ‘stracted herself. We washed Monser Sink.”
“Did you finish Monsters Inc?”
They both nodded.
“Then maybe you two should get some rest. I still have to calm your mother down.”
They kissed my cheeks before they slid from my legs to give Sookie her goodnight kisses and run upstairs.
No more than she’d reacted to anything I’d said, I might as well have briefed the girls in the back yard.
“What are you so engrossed by?”
She huffed, “While you were wasting time on Sam’s dumb ass…”
“I wasn’t wasting time, Sookie. It isn’t as though we could’ve hidden what happened from them. Come here.”
She shook her head. “You come here…”
As I stood up, so did she, giving me the chair, but I had to pull her onto my lap. I’d wanted to be closer to her so I could explain some minutiae quietly.
I whispered, “The odds are in Lorena’s favor. He’ll be lucky to have a year. I don’t consider the girls’ peace of mind a waste of time.”
“So you gave him an empty promise?”
“That’s one way to look at it, but it was preferable to his suggestion that he just went home and shot himself in the head.”
She huffed, “Can we just… I don’t want to talk about him. He’s gotten too much press as it is.”
I nodded, “What did you want to show me?”
She took a deep breath, turning to sit sideways so she could look at me. “If Compton was sent to find Sookie Stackhouse then Sophie-Ann had a skip… You and I aren’t bonded, but I still skipped. Same thing must’ve happened to this Queen.”
“I managed to get that far.”
“I think you should call the Queen right now.”
“And tell her what exactly?”
She faked a chuckle in a deeper tenor and as soon as she started speaking, I knew she was doing a ‘me’ impersonation. “Hey Majesty, funny story. That Vampire you sent to Bon Temps, he died. We should probably chat about how I know you sent him…”
“My accent isn’t that thick.”
She snorted, “It is when you’re pissed.”
“You think I should just lay all the cards on the table.”
She nodded. “I do. She’s skipping. How long will it be before someone does the research and finds out the Shifter who killed her errand boy is married to the telepath she’s looking for. How long do you think her next spy will have to sniff around before she finds out that said Shifter had a hard on for Vampires because his wife left him for her Sheriff? Because you know that’s what most of Bon Temps has heard by now… I think, tell me to shut the fuck up if I’m completely off base, the best way to keep from getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar is to get ahead of it. Explain that I came to you after I skipped, that I left my husband because of what I learned, blame the pregnancy for why you didn’t take me down so she could kick the tires, now that I’ve had the baby yadda-yadda blah-blah, you couldn’t figure out how to explain the journal until you found out it was Compton in Bon Temps, then you knew she must’ve skipped too since she knows about me… Would you like me to email a copy of the journal to you now, Majesty? That kind of thing.”
“Lie your pretty little ass off if you have too. This is a contingency that neither one of us saw coming, but she was sympathetic to the situation with Hunter and even hid him in other versions. She might get why you’d want to keep me quiet since I’ve got little ones.”
“It would be easier than what I came up with. And my plan could still be implemented if your idea doesn’t work.”
“What was your idea?”
“Strategically killing her and all of her children. Taking the throne and dealing with being King to keep her hooks out of you and the children.”
She raised an eyebrow at me. “Yeah. Let’s try my way first.”
I chuckled, “We don’t have the luxury of a bond.”
“Why am I the only one thinking about you nursing? If I gave you…”
“That’s why they make formula.”
“They make formula for the sole purpose of replacing what dries up when the mother is prematurely forced to bond to a Vampire?”
She snorted and swatted my arm. “I’d rather breast feed, you turd… Gauge it. If she’s too anxious for your tastes, then I adjust. I’d rather formula feed the baby in freedom than breast feed in indentured servitude.”
“You make an excellent point.”
“You’re badass and all, but how would you manage to kill four Vampires your age when they have a telepathic connection to each other?”
“Carefully. The connection is a new hazard, but I’ve had a lot of time to perfect my technique.”
She sighed, “Pride aside, I’d leave before I let you get into trouble over me.”
“You’re not going anywhere.”
“I don’t want to see your head on a spike because you got caught lying to protect me. Haven’t you heard how selfish I am? I’m finally happy…”
“We could jump on a plane and move to Switzerland tonight…”
She interrupted by slapping me and wagging her finger in my face. “Don’t. Tease.”
“That was a legitimate offer… now I’m trying to think of actual teases though.”
She giggled, “Seriously, Eric. Something’s got to be done and I know you don’t want to be King.”
I growled as I pulled my phone out of my pocket. “Didn’t you warn me about getting wrapped around fingers?”
She nodded, biting her lip. “You didn’t listen either. I’m not the only one who’d be miserable if something happened to you. Even Maggie responds to your voice.”
I jokingly gasped, “Guilt, Sookie?”
She nodded. “If that’s what it takes, yeah.”
I had to talk Andre’s rankling ass into letting me speak directly to Sophie-Ann. While I waited for him, and he took his time, to get to the Queen, Sookie scribbled a note and handed it to me.
“Mentioned in the journals: Barry Horowitz & Michelle Johnson. Lie. Say they were going to be a wedding present or some shit.”
I chuckled quietly. Sookie managed to make desperation entertaining.
The Queen finally answered, sounding as bored as ever. “Sheriff Northman, what can I thank for your insistence?”
“That’s a long story, Majesty. I suppose I should start by informing you that Bill Compton was murdered tonight.”
I could only imagine the ‘oh shit’ look on her face while she searched for the ‘right’ reaction. “Why would that concern me? Are you having Fellowship problems in your Area I should know about?” Good one.
“No ma’am. Nothing of that nature. I simply thought you should know because I assumed you sent him to my Area.”
“Why would you assume that?” There wasn’t any bit of the coyness that I’d expect in her voice.
“Last I heard, he was working for you, yes?”
“He did. He chose to return to his home in Baton… no, Bon… yes, Bon Temps. Infuriating being. He’s your problem now.”
“Very well then. If by chance, his Maker inquires about his final death, point her in my direction, if you would. I’ve offered a reward and might be able to help her find the killer.”
“I will. Is that all you needed? You could’ve spoken to Andre about Compton.” Even if her ignorance had been faked, she’d have wanted details of how Compton was ended if she’d sent him… but she was trying to end the call.
“My apologies, Majesty. As I said…”
“Yes, yes… you thought he was on an errand. Good night.”
When she hung up, I was more confused than I had been in a while. “Sookie, she didn’t seem to have any idea of what I was talking about.”
“Not a bit.”
Sookie massaged her forehead for a moment, then wrung her hands… the whole time, she chewed her lip and seemingly studied the air in the room. Finally, she started with a hum. “Erics and Sookies bond. Hadleys and Sophie-Anns bond. Hadleys and Andres bond… shit, there was that one version where that Bill douche turned a Me. Do you think he could’ve skipped?”
“Possible. The question would be whether or not he’d have told his Maker about his Bon Temps goldmine.”
“If Pam was up to something in another Area, wouldn’t she have her Maker with her to run interference?”
“Yes, but… A- she has a magnificent Maker…”
Sookie nodded with a very serious look on her face. “Don’t forget humble.”
“That too, and B- Pam can be impetuous. She isn’t a cretin like Compton .”
“Compton reads as being pretty daft though.”
“He is… how do we find a needle in a haystack?”
She wiggled her eyebrows and shifted to fish her phone out of her pocket.
The phone rang until a man snorted, “MmmmSook?”
“Hey Hoyt, how’s my favorite ex-boyfriend?”
“Sleeping. How you? You hear about Sam?”
“Unfortunately. I’m alright though. Were you home early enough to hear the news from your Momma?”
“The Bon Temps Daily? Hell, she waits up to give it to me now. She must’ve talked about Vampires taking over small towns like terrorist cells for like an hour tonight. I swear she’s losing it.”
Sookie giggled, “She’s always been afraid of everything. That isn’t new. What’d she always tell you about me?”
“That you can’t trust anyone who dyes their hair… then, you can’t trust albinos… or Scandinavians… and girls that shave above their knees are easy. That AIN’T true by the way. I’ve done thorough research.”
“I gotta ask, armpits are above the knees…”
“She’s talking about thighs, I guess. Not sure how she’d know that you shave everything… unless you told her.” Everything?
“She’s seen me in a bikini, but I don’t think I want to dwell on why she’d pay that much attention to… nevermind. She just went from loony to creepy.”
He laughed, “No shit, right? So why did ‘the one that got away’ wake me up at 2am? Baby keeping you up?”
“Curiosity’s got me tossing over that Vampire. He hadn’t checked in with Eric yet. I didn’t know if maybe he’d had friends around. I hate that there’d be no one to claim his remains or anything.”
“So you figured you’d wake me up to see what Momma’d been ranting about.”
“If anyone would know, it would be you.”
“Well, you’re dating the Vampire King of Austria. That Vampire Sam killed was a Polish Vampire spy. Don’t worry though she called Bud and reported him. And there was the pretty Vampire lady at the Walgreens buying ginseng scented body wash, aloe and salt… Shit hon, can’t remember what else, but Momma’s convinced she was gonna cast some kind of spell. You know, because Witches and Vampires are the same thing, right?”
“Hoyt, I’m gonna be honest with you… Eric isn’t a King. He’s the Sheriff so he’s pretty much the King of Shreveport. The Vampire Sam killed was looking for me and we can’t figure out why… Since your Momma is about half right, I kind of need to know, secret squirrel, why she’d think that Vampire in the drug store was going to cast a spell.”
“You’re kidding? Damn… Um… she said the Vampire was sweet as pie, like you’d expect a Witch would act in public. She was waiting for someone to dig out orange oil from the back room… You know Momma, she asked… the woman said there was more than one way to tame the savage beast. I guess she thought it would be a love potion or some shit.”
“You know what, that helps a lot, sweetie. Thanks.”
“No prob. Could you do me a favor and get stalked on weekends though? Singles like me need their beauty sleep.”
“I’ll do my best…”
By the time she hung up on her ex-boyfriend, I was dialing to wake up Paulette.
Porter answered the phone, though.
“I know that it’s late, but I have a quick magical question to ask. It won’t take long.”
“She’s in the tub. Give me a try.”
“Alright. I’ve heard that a Vampire was shopping for orange oil, salt, ginseng body wash and aloe. Is there a spell that a Vampire could cast with those ingredients?”
“Well, that makes for one hell of a relaxing bath, treatment for a sunburn or… if you add a few things like garlic and goldenseal, you have a mild hypnotic.”
“Could those items be found at a drug store?”
“Yeah… it’s always better to use fresh, but you’d be surprised what you can cast with a trip down the vitamin aisle.”
“How would something like that relate to the saying, ‘more than one way to tame a savage beast’?”
“Uh oh… first thing that comes to mind is glamouring. I can’t think of a reason why a Vampire would want it other than for Weres.” I had to remember to ask Paulette for more details for that one.
“Those too.” Shit.
“Thank you… No need to have Paulette return my call. I was just confirming that someone is up to something… Vampire fuckery at an elementary level.”
“Anytime. Hey, congrats on the baby. Paulette showed us pictures. Love the name too. You’d best teach him to whoop some ass if you’re gonna keep calling him Maggie though.”
“I would regardless. Thanks again.”
Sookie was actually holding her breath.
“It sounds like the ‘sweet as pie’ Vampire was shopping for spell ingredients to glamour a Were.”
“Would she be crazy enough to sacrifice her own child?”
“You mean have Merlotte attack him? I doubt it.”
“K… so we have a mystery Vampire with bad juju plans… In my head, I’m picturing that they went to my house and found it empty, but smelled Sam all over the place. Since he didn’t ask for Sookie Merlotte, they didn’t think to look in the mailbox, and lucked out by going to the only gossip hub in town, probably asking locals about me last night while Sam was in Shreveport. Lorena went shopping and put together the mojo bag and sent Compton to finesse my whereabouts out of Sam.” Solid theory.
“Then I’ll wager to guess that Lorena will be at Fantasia tomorrow night to report the murder of her child and ask for my assistance.”
“I want to go.”
“No. You need to stay home.”
“Sookie, if she’s not melodramatically prostrate with grief, she’s gorging on locals to build her strength. You’re staying home tomorrow night if I have to have Paulette bind you to the house. I’ll take care of Lorena and come home in time to read a bedtime story.”
She slumped for a moment before she jerked from my lap growling, “Fuck!” and stormed out of the study.
I followed her to the kitchen and leaned against the counter while she snatched a bottle of juice out of the refrigerator. I was noticing a pattern while I waited, but since I could feel how frustrated she was, I was better off than I had been the night before.
She gulped down most of her drink before she looked in my direction. “What?”
“If you want me to cave and let you put yourself in harm’s way…”
“Not that!…” She walked over and whispered, “You’re going to kill her, right?”
“So Lorena’s out of the picture… 24 hours and the problem is gone. We JUST got rid of Sam, but…”
“Sookie, he still can’t come back. The murder charge isn’t going to go away. It might give us the opportunity to be charitable and let him visit the children from time to time out of state, but he’s going to be wanted, hunted in Louisiana. There’s no statute of limitations…”
Before I could finish, before I could realize what she was doing, Sookie grabbed my shirt, popping the stitching to yank me down…
How she felt in my arms…
Strapped against me…
By the time she pulled away, growling as she ended the kiss, more frustrated than before, one leg wrapped behind mine…
I needed more.
She panted, taking a step back. She shuddered when she sighed, “I told you your timing sucks.”
“Actually, you said it was ‘for shit’.”
She snorted, “Whatever. I’m on a bit of a leash at the moment.” She punctuated her statement with a sarcastic smile as though I need to be reminded of the ‘no intercourse’ part of her discharge instructions that made Eugenie blush.
“The next few weeks…”
She growled, “Tell me about it,” as the garage door began screeching open.
Pam… the walking bucket of ice water.
She eyed us both carefully when she walked in with hands full of shopping bags from various stores and I was sure I didn’t want to know how many people she’d glamoured into staying open late for her binge.
“You can rest easy knowing that I’ve exhausted my Louboutins at Neiman Marcus, Macy’s and Nordstrom’s to make sure Magnusson will be the sexiest mini-man Shreveport has ever seen… and I found time to get spectacular highlights.”
Sookie nodded. “Show and tell… and yeah… spectacular is the word I’d use. Where did you go?”
Pam set the bags on the counter and pulled out a tiny, black satin jacket that made Sookie coo. “The Bee Hive… Dare I ask how your evening went?”
Sookie motioned to me, letting me take the floor. “Well, we’ve been invited to spend the Christmas holiday in Western Hills with Sookie’s family. Lafayette called to inform us that Merlotte murdered Compton in the middle of his bar with witnesses. While I broke Merlotte out of his holding cell and wished him happy trails, Sookie deduced that we should out ourselves to Sophie-Ann instead of getting caught in a lie, but when I called her she didn’t know why the fuck she should care that Compton is dead. We regrouped and assumed that it was possible Compton had experienced a skip of his own, and after a couple of brief phone calls discovered that his Maker is in the Area with him. I’ll be with you at Fangtasia tomorrow night long enough to relieve that cunt of her head before she can cause any more trouble. We’ll most likely be informing the Queen of Sookie’s ability in a couple of months.”
Again, Pam eyed us both carefully for a moment before she asked, “Seriously?”
Sookie and I nodded.
Pam took a deep breath and nodded as she reached into another bag… “Ralph. Lauren. Makes. Crib. Shoes.”