Chapter 16: Sensory Change

Meanwhile

Chapter 16

Sensory Change

**

In all of the insanity that Sookie had dealt with over the course of her day, she still remembered my shirt.

I chuckled when I first saw it on the bathroom counter because she’d folded it carefully and placed it in a plastic bag in an effort to seal in its fragrance.

I’d doubted the bag would do anything but make the shirt smell of plastic… but her idea worked.

Genius. It worked well enough that as I pensively cracked open the lip of the bag expecting the faintest of traces, I was greeted with a concentration so thick, so powerful that I could’ve closed my eyes and fooled myself into thinking I was with Sookie poolside.

My Sookie had, indeed, figured out a way to bottle the sun for me.

Sookie stood in the doorway of the bathroom, wrapped in a towel after our shower waiting to find out if she’d been successful…

I hadn’t needed to say anything. My eyes still hadn’t left my shirt when she left me to go dress.

**

Sookie’s dress for the evening almost made me feel guilty for what Pam would be rising to since she was the one to have found it. The same pale blue as Sookie’s eyes. Low cut enough, front and back that it was close enough to being backless. The short skirt was made of layers of chiffon so, in theory, it was see-through…

Delicious from every angle.

Paulette was waiting to greet us at the bar when we left our room, but the witch’s ‘hey there’ was interrupted by a foul mouthed explosion that leaked into the living room from behind Pam’s door.

Paulette pointed at Sookie. “I freaking told you… you don’t mess with resting vampires.” Sookie was so ‘worried’ that she succumbed to a giggling fit and crashed into my side.

She’d barely recovered when the door to the suite crashed open and two very ready Saxon’s were standing in the space waiting for a cue of some kind. Half dressed, but still ready for battle. Herveaux was right behind them, but rather than being alarmed, he sat on the barstool next to Paulette and leaned back to wait for the show.

The six of us stood in the living room watching the door. After a few minutes, Herveaux explained to the Berts what was going on. I could feel Pam moving around in her room, but I was ignoring her feelings so that they wouldn’t ruin my mood. After all, I was wearing a marvelously sun-kissed shirt, I’d enjoyed the laugh of a century and ‘owned’ my own personal Sookie. I couldn’t bring myself to think about the news waiting for me when I rose, much less care.

In our anticipation of Pam’s reaction, none of us noticed that someone had made their way down the hallway to our suite. Jason Stackhouse had arrived.

“Damn Paulette, you put enough juice in this ward? You’re killin’ me. Lemme in.”

She smiled at him and left the barstool to issue his invitation. “You quit that whining, Jason. How’ve you been?”

He kissed her cheek. “Bored as hell. I should just follow y’all around to get my excitement. Cable just ain’t doin’ it for me anymore now that I been to New Orleans with vampires, witches and weres. What’s goin’ on?”

She giggled, “Your sister punked Pam while she was dead. I just learned how to say ‘you’ll get yours’ in 5 languages, I think. She hasn’t come out of her room yet.” It was actually 7 languages, but who’s counting?

He snorted and shoved his hands into his pockets. “Hang on, lemme dig out my surprised face… Sookie? Stirring shit up? Nawwww.”

The rest of us were amused, but Sookie stuck her tongue out at her brother.

After saying ‘wow, y’all look nice’ to Sookie and me and acknowledging the Berts, Jason walked over to Herveaux with his hand out. “So uh, you’re the… ‘piece of shit, mother fuckin’, asshole, sum’bitch, junk yard guard dog’… Alcide, right?”

Herveaux shook his hand, but he wasn’t amused. “I guess so.”

“I don’t know what you did to Sam Merlotte, but he loves the shit out of you enough to have your baby.”

The wolf cracked a smile, but Sookie scowled at him. “Alcide! He should’ve left a couple hours ago. What did you do?”

His eyes shifted while his smile widened.

“Alcide.”

“I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t expect from a junkyard guard dog.”

“What. Did. You. Do?”

“I may or may not have had his truck filled with French fries.” Getting a raise. A big raise.

Sookie glared at him. I was the only one who knew she was almost as amused as the rest of us.

I put my hand in the small of her back and took over the conversation. “Berts you’re free to go finish dressing…” They looked down to realize they were still barefoot with open shirts and gave a nod before they left. “The rest of us have things to do. Sookie, why don’t you have your talk with Jason while you show him where he’s sleeping tonight. I’m going to take care of things with Paulette…”

“Alcide was mean to Sam all day AND had his truck filled with greasy food and…”

“And. I’ll. Take. Care. Of. It.”

Before she could say anything else, Jason grabbed her hand and yanked her towards the door, reminding her that she’d probably done much worse to Pam.

**

As soon as the door closed behind them so that Sookie could show Jason to Maria-Star’s former room, I turned to Herveaux.

“French fries were inspired. Very well done. Thank you.”

“My pleasure… That guy is a piece of work. I swear, if he called telepathy a ‘disability’ one more time, I’d have had him deep fried. Dick.”

I sat across from Paulette who was eagerly waiting with her supplies to charm Sookie’s ring. When I held my hand over the bar, she winced as she pricked my finger and I chuckled at her just like I had the last time. “Sookie called it a disability herself. It used to be quite the hindrance in her more human life.”

He nodded. “She told me… Definitely not a choice ability considering all the downsides. She joked that she’s pissed about being able to hear weres now… Merlotte used to be the most quiet she could get.” But now she had me.

As Paulette toiled, she added, “Maybe telepathy isn’t as rare as everybody thinks… There might just be a high suicide rate. If Sookie hadn’t had her Gran to remind her that she wasn’t crazy…”

Herveaux interrupted by clearing his throat to agree with her, but the way he was acting didn’t bode well.

“What?” The first thing that came to mind was that Sookie had shared that she’d been suicidal at some point in her life. Having been told about her own mother’s feelings about Sookie’s gift, I wouldn’t have doubted it.

He squirmed and eyed Paulette. “Um… hypothetically speaking… it would be the only reason a telepath would get involved with vampires…” He waited a beat for Paulette’s attention to be elsewhere before he mouthed ‘Michelle’. “…I mean, with all the things it would keep them from enjoying that normal folks can do… I’d probably have a plan and everything.” There wasn’t any wonder left as to why Michelle would be willing to sign a contract with Salome after I warned her to establish an exit strategy. Suicide wasn’t exactly the exit strategy I had in mind, but if she’d already been thinking of killing herself, she really didn’t have anything to lose. It also explained why Sookie was so eager to lead Michelle into the service of vampires… being useful rather than being a self-classed pariah was definitely an upgrade.

The subject needed to be changed before Paulette realized we weren’t speaking generally. “Other than being predictably annoying, is there anything else that I should know about Merlotte’s visit?”

“Sookie tell you that he was all kinds of pissed that you had her ‘locked in a cage’ until 2? He wanted to save her from you. Offered to hide her and everything. Ain’t he just the sweetest?” A real angel.

“Oh really?”

“I tried to get a picture of the look on his face when she said y’all are bonded. It came out blurry.”

“You could describe it though.” Paulette giggled while she worked and called us ‘bad’.

“It looked like it was going to cave in or turn inside out or some shit. He grumbled about her being tied up in ‘this shit’, promised to help her with money if that’s why she was here, told her he knew some people who would take her in if she wanted to hide out… That girl… she told him, ‘If I wanted to hide from Eric, I wouldn’t have bonded with him’. Bam! She might as well have shot him… Then he started in and told her she might as well become a vampire because she’d never get away from you… called her a moron… He really got under her skin when he brought up her grandmother… he tried ‘What would your Gran think about all this?’… I’m surprised his leg isn’t broken as hard as she kicked him.”

“Sounds like a lovely visit.”

“I got an excuse to punch the fucker, so… I’m cool.”

“Sookie mentioned it… how long was he choking?”

“Choking? You mean when I hit his throat? Oh… that was just a love tap. He was fine in a few minutes. He grabbed her in the lobby on our way through. Probably took Sydney a while to get his blood up.”

“He grabbed her?”

“By the wrist… he wasn’t trying to go anywhere with her or anything. Scared the shit out of him when he saw two fists flying at him. She got his mouth. I got his nose.” I should’ve been infuriated that she’d left that little detail out of our conversation, but… she hit him just for touching her.

Details. “She hit Merlotte too?”

“He was still nagging about how she wasn’t safe. She told him that she’d done just fine without having a father so far and that if he wanted a starring role in her life he should’ve done something before he locked himself in the friend zone. He grabbed. We swung. Cue applause. Clean up on aisle 2. She told him to go clean himself up and when he met up with her at the pool, somebody had learned to be a good boy except for eyefucking every inch of her body… but that turned out to be him looking for bite marks…” He shrugged. “…How was I supposed to know? I’m not the mind reader.”

“I’m not planning on holding it against you… other than being jealous. I don’t think Sookie would be as forgiving if I’d been the one to hit him.”

“Uhmmmm. Could that be because he wouldn’t get up?”

I chuckled, “That’s not the point… How did Cooper take to her walking papers?”

“She probably would’ve been happier about it if she knew. She wasn’t in the room when I got back upstairs. I packed her shit, grabbed our keycards, took her bags down to her car and got new cards from Phillip so hers wouldn’t work. I’d already called the Colonel and left a note on the door by the time she got back. I don’t know where the fuck she was hiding.”

“What did the note say?”

“Go the fuck home.” Ahhh, a poet. I had to appreciate his prose.

“Is there something I should call Flood about?”

“No. He was 4 shades of pissed when I told him that she’d been useless. He’s probably still lighting her ass up…”

**

It was probably the first interesting conversation I’d ever had with a Were, but it was interrupted by Pam.

We’d been waiting. Since her outburst, we’d all been anxious to have some fun with her reaction and Sookie would be upset that she missed it… if there had been one.

Pam left her room and crossed the commons to sit next to me at the bar… without a word, she set about the task of painting, rather REpainting her nails.

Her moods weren’t offering any help on the matter. She was in as blasé of a mood as I would expect if she were checking IDs at the door to Fangtasia.

“Pam?”

“Plotting.”

“You seem to be taking things better than I expected.”

“Are there pictures?”

“Just on my phone.”

“Are you going to order me to not retaliate?”

“No. As a matter of fact, Sookie asked me not to. I think she’s getting cagey and looking forward to your return.”

“Good.”

“Pam…”

“I won’t hurt her.”

“I know that. I was just going to say that the mud mask did wonders for your…”

She interrupted by hissing at me… But the corners of her mouth turned up to give her away when the rest of us laughed.

“I should warn you…”

“I said I wouldn’t hurt her…”

“She said she already has another prank lined up.”

“You’re just going to let us go at it, aren’t you?”

“Of course. I’ll get all of the enjoyment without any effort of fucking with you myself.” I leaned over and kissed her forehead.

When I sat back, her eyes were glazed over slightly. “You smell divine.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Cocky prick.” Paulette and Herveaux laughed at her bitter little snipe.

“And your point would be what?”

“Just thinking out loud.” Then she stuck her tongue out at me.

Pam scowled in silence, but it was all a façade. She was as impressed with Sookie’s imagination as I’d been.

**

After a few minutes, Paulette took a phone call from her brother. I had a feeling that I knew what it was about, but held judgment… I held it for all of two seconds after her bedroom door closed behind her and she squealed my name at a deafening pitch. Her car must’ve arrived.

She ran back to the commons from her room. “Why!?”

“The rings weren’t in your job description.  Consider it a thank you.”

“You can’t be serious!”

“Can you imagine how much peace of mind your charms give me? You should be appalled that I low balled you.”

“No! A Range Rover isn’t a ‘thank you’! Flowers, a gift basket! That’s a ‘thank you’!”

“You could send it back, but I think it would be useful in your new job.”

“What new job?”

“The one that pays three times as much as the one you have now and comes with a house big enough for your family…” I heard her brother telling her to ‘take it’ through the receiver that was now at her hip. “…Of course, I wouldn’t expect your casting ability to be used for anything that you find distasteful and your brother would have his choice of jobs. I have three companies for him to choose from as a welder. There’d be no magical pressure for him either.”

“Take it. Take it, Paulette. Take it. Paulette! PAULETTE!”

Pam, Herveaux and I laughed at her brother’s persistence, but Paulette hadn’t heard him, so I nodded towards her phone.

“Porter?”

“Don’t be an idiot. Take the damn job. You’d be brain dead not to.”

“Porter, moving is…”

“Screw that. I’ve applied for jobs as far away as Florida. If you have to move, you have to move. That pot was too sweet for you to pass up before he offered me a job. Take it.”

“Are you sure? You should talk to Maggie about it…”

“Ok. Hang on…” We waited for a moment, shameless spectators that we were. Pam joked that it made up for missing Big Brother.

“Hey, Mags?”
“Yeah, sweetie?”
“Paulette’s on the phone… She got offered a promotion, but she needs to move to take it…”
“You’re kidding!”
“Heart attack serious.”
“Well… with her out of town does she want us to help pack or…”

Porter put the phone back to his ear. “See. Take the damn job.”

She snickered, shaking her head. “I’ll talk to you later. K?”

“Not if you don’t take the job. I might give you the silent treatment for being a bonehead.”

She hung up on him and put her hands on her hips. “I guess you have yourself a witch, Sheriff Northman.”

“Wonderful… You should talk to the resident Telepath to get all of the good gossip.”

She giggled. “I’ll do that… I’m just going… to go to my room… so I can freak out… in private for a few minutes.”

“Take all the time you need. You aren’t on the clock.”

**

With the door closed behind her, Pam started smiling. “Sookie?”

I nodded. “I didn’t know that Paulette was helping to support her unemployed brother’s family. The rings made for one hell of a tie in, yes?”

“Hell yes. Can I fire Bobby?”

“No. I did it last night.”

“You called him last night? Before you knew if Paulette would accept?”

“I emailed to inform him that his services were no longer necessary and it didn’t matter if Paulette took the job yet or not. He needed replacing.”

“Oh, right. I’d almost forgotten about that…”

The sound of Herveaux’s cell phone ringing reminded us that he was in the room and, admittedly, there was something suspect about the way Pam and I turned to look at him.

“Ooooh, is there a Range Rover for me too?”

I chuckled, “Funny, but no.”

He left his seat and went to the hallway to take his call.

When Pam looked to me, I shrugged. “Coincidence.”

After hearing Herveaux yell ‘what?’ in the distance, Pam snorted and sang about my pants being on fire. I really had no fucking clue what was happening that time.

**

When he returned, he wore a sour expression to go with the foul mood he was practically encased in.

“I told you there was no Range Rover.” I wasn’t interested in ruining my mood by proxy. Even Merlotte and Sookie’s ill-behaved cousin hadn’t undone the highs I’d already had for the evening. Pam’s prank, the deed to Sookie, my shirt and a new assistant.

He huffed and slammed himself onto the barstool. “Family bullshit.”

“Is working for a vampire causing said bullshit?”

“No. My father is.”

“His gambling addiction?”

His eyes widened. “You know about…? How…?”

“I have ways of gathering information.” Such as having very detailed conversations with myself. Pam laughed through her nose.

“Yeah… well, he’s run up a marker I didn’t know about. He just got his ass handed to him by some Vampires with Mississippi tags.”

“Who called you?”

“A friend from the pack. It happened outside of Flood’s house. When he drove up, they bolted too fast for him to get an eye on them. Just tags.”

“What do you know then?”

“Nothing other than they worked him over pretty well. Dad isn’t talking.”

“So you aren’t sure that it’s a gambling debt.”

“I’m not sure that the moon isn’t made of blue fucking cheese either. Call it an educated guess.”

“Fair enough. Call him directly and make sure he wasn’t given a message for me.”

“Why?”

“Because the king of Mississippi might be less patient for Sookie’s assistance than he lets on.”

“Fuuuuuuck… you’re kidding… How would they know? Here’s one, why the fuck would they think you’d care if my father got his ass beat?”

“They shouldn’t think I’d care. Call your father to eliminate wasting energy.” There were a thousand possible options. Including leveraging Sookie’s guard to kidnap her to Jackson during the day to ‘save his father’.

He growled and dug for his phone. “This is wonderful. He’s with the Colonel… I doubt he’ll say anything in front of him.”

I raised an eyebrow and reached for my phone. “That makes things easier…”

“What are you… He won’t talk to you any faster that he will me.”

The phone was already ringing. “We’ll see about that…”

**

“Northman, I think I have enough fangs to deal with tonight.” His manners weren’t usually so impaired. I supposed that having someone pummeled on his lawn put the old dog in a pissy mood.

“Herveaux is with you?”

“One of them. You have the other.”

“I want to know who he owes and how much.”

“What?”

“My Herveaux is better behaved than yours and at the moment, your Herveaux is likely to have been beaten for a gambling debt. If not there are other things that could be the cause and I’d need to get a handle on them quickly.”

“Like what?” Petulant mutt.

“At the moment, since all we know is that Papa Herveaux was beaten by Vampires from Mississippi and Edgington is eager for Sookie’s services, he could be trying to bump his place in queue by creating a problem. It’s also entirely possible that they were after you. It did happen at your home.”

“I’m just going to let him talk to you.”

“Fine. Stay close.”

“Yeah…” Flood ordered Herveaux to cooperate with me as he handed over the phone. “Whatever you do, don’t piss that mother fucker off.”

The noise Alcide’s father made as he took the phone was something of a growl/groan hybrid. “What?”

Herveaux junior rolled his eyes and warned me that his father was a ‘bigger stubborn ass than Sookie’. I smiled when I tried to think how that was at all possible.

“Jackson Herveaux, who are you in debt to now?”

“That’s none of your…” The sudden deep growl wasn’t his own… Flood was reminding him to play nice. “Lucy Swerenger. She owns a few riverboats.”

“Did the vampires you wrestled with identify themselves as her thugs?”

“Yeah.” Good. At least there wasn’t more for us to deal with.

“How much?”

“Not as much as I owe you.”

I laughed at him. Some assholes could still surprise me with how ignorant they could be. “Obviously. This is just a suggestion for your future reference; don’t owe poor people. They tend to be less patient about repayment. Do you at least owe her as much as the vig on my marker?”

“No.”

I rolled my eyes out of the sheer frustration of it all. “Herveaux. How much do you owe Lucy Swerenger?”

“Thirty grand.”

“Other than the balance you owe me, is she it?”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“You’re a pain in the ass. Are we it?”

“Yes. Go fuck yourself.”

“I could do that. Or I could take care of Lucy so that your daughter isn’t the next visit on her thugs’ list.”

“What?”

“She wouldn’t have loaned a dime to you if she didn’t know everything about you. The next warning you get from them will hurt in a whole new way.”

“What do you want?”

“Your business.” Alcide fidgeted so I winked at him. It only made him more anxious. I almost laughed.

“You’re going to call in my marker and hers at the same time?”

“No. In case you haven’t heard, Fangtasia is suffering some technical difficulties. When I return to my area, I’ll need somewhere to hold meetings. I’ll need the use of an office and your waiting area after hours.”

“That’s all? For how long?”

“We haven’t decided if or when we’re going to rebuild, but to be frank, since you owe me six figures you aren’t exactly in a position to argue about anything. While we share space, I’ll put a hold on the vig and deduct $5000 from your marker every month.” When Alcide heard that his father owed so much, a hard scowl set on his face and he clenched his jaw.

His father was still contemplating my offer when Alcide leaned towards my phone. “Dad, if you don’t take that offer, I’ll. Cripple. You. Don’t let something happen to Janice because of this shit.”

The father growled, “Ten thousand a month…”

“Three.”

“What? You offered 5.”

“And you’re wasting my fucking time, wolf. You’re as adept in a negotiation as you are with a deck of cards. I can make arrangements to hold my meetings anywhere. ”

“Fine. Five.”

“Four it is then. It’s a pleasure doing business with you. My assistant will contact you about getting copies of your keys. Put Flood back on.”

While I waited for Flood to take the phone back from his stammering pack-mate, Alcide slumped on his seat. He looked just about as relieved as possible.

“Yeah?”

“Flood. You understand the arrangement between Jackson Herveaux and myself?”

“It’s more than a ‘gentleman’s agreement’. I’m sure when the shock of the attack wears off, Jax’ll be more appreciative.” Like I cared. If it weren’t for knowing that the unlucky bastard’s son was the best of all known options when it came to Sookie’s daytime safety, I wouldn’t waste my battery life on the call. Herveaux could continue to be ‘reminded’ of his markers. Charity wasn’t a factor. Pragmatism was.

“Do your friend a favor. Do your best to keep him the fuck out of human casinos.”

“You’d rather he owed you money?”

“No. In case you haven’t gathered, I’m a little annoyed at the extra effort it takes to be repaid. By the end of the night, he won’t be able to play as much as slots at any supe run establishment. I’m putting the word out.” When Pam pushed her purse over to me, I rolled my eyes and took her phone out to spare her from having to re-repolish her nails. She laid her phone on the bar and proceeded to use her knuckles to punch the keys to send out her ‘Blackball Alert’. Then rewarded herself by smelling my sleeve.

“Why?”

“Because I haven’t killed nearly enough people this week. I feel like throwing my weight around.”

He started laughing. “Slim pickings in the Red Stick?”

“You could say that. Call me if Herveaux has any more trouble.”

“Sure thing.”

**

Before Alcide had the chance to do anything but gape, I held my finger up to stop him and dialed my phone again. It was a very good thing Sookie had thought to charge the battery.

“Eric? Eric Northman? Is that you?” Lucy Swerenger, apple polisher.

“Yes.”

“Well, I do declare, to what do I owe the honor…”

“I’m not in the mood for you and your voice hasn’t changed from the last time I told you it was like nails on a chalkboard. The ‘southern gentility’ only makes things worse since I know you spent the first half of your existence in Asia.” Alcide tensed again, no doubt concerned that I’d be so abrasive toward someone I wanted a favor from because he didn’t know that I was the one granting a favor.

“You seem troubled. I heard about your loss. What can I do for you?”

“The debt you owe…”

“I’m sure we can come to an agreement. Do you need help rebuilding Fangtasia?”

Pam snorted ‘stupid cow’ and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

“Lucy. Explain why it is that you set your stooges loose in MY fucking area with the sole purpose of assaulting one of the Weres belonging to my associate, Packmaster Flood.”

“He… he was late on repayment.”

“Again. Why couldn’t you be bothered to inform me of your intention to conduct business in my area?”

“I… I didn’t want to bother you… Since Fangtasia was bombed…”

“Of course. How very considerate of you. I was just telling Pam that it couldn’t possibly be that the mice were taking advantage of the cat being away.”

“No! No… no. That’s not it. Eric, I wouldn’t dream…” Pam’s ‘silent’ laughter made the conversation more enjoyable. Stammering vampires were hysterical.

“Good. I’m buying Jackson Herveaux’s debt from you. Deduct it from what you owe to me. If you or your thugs go near him, his family or his property again, heads will roll. Tell me you understand.”

“But…”

“Say that you understand so that I don’t cripple your finances by scuttling your little poker barges.”

“I understand, but…”

I disconnected the call and set my phone on the bar. “Done. Now is there anything else that wants to try to irritate me?”

Pam started to laugh as she reached over to pinch the sleeve of my shirt. I let her lift my arm to my nose. “I think we might finally be figuring out why humans go on about deep… calming… breaths.”

**

Since Alcide overheard every word of the negotiations, no explanation was necessary… Unfortunately, the free-flowing gratitude that he began to spew was beginning to approach the territory of uncomfortable by the time Sookie returned with her brother.

The ring that I was extremely pleased with had been placed back in its box and set in the middle of the bar. Sookie eyed it as though she was waiting for it to do a trick while she served Herveaux and her brother a beer and took a can of Red Bull for herself… When she noticed that I was watching her, she pointed to Alcide to have him confirm her promise that it was her first one of the day.

She took a few sips while continuing to stare at the box while Pam became amused enough that she was close to squirming. I’d be lying if I said Sookie’s preoccupation wasn’t entertaining as a minimum.

She finally looked at me. “If you don’t want me to know until you give it to me, you’re gonna want to expedite things. I can’t promise that I’m going to stay out of folk’s heads.”

“Would you be such a brat?”

“You know I would.”

“What if I commanded you not to?”

She sucked air past her teeth with a coy grin. “Would you be so mean?”

“Maybe….” She looked up with big doe eyes and a pouty lip. It was working. I wasn’t about to make her wait for long. She was the last of us to get her ring and it had been her inspired idea to begin with, but I did want to tease her.

I was about to give in, push the ring box towards her, when Michelle arrived.

**

The ‘newbie mind reader’ had barely been introduced to Jason when he pegged her as a telepath. There was ‘something about’ her. Being able to sense a difference made Alcide ask if there was something different about him or vampires…

While Michelle worried that she was too exposed by suddenly being around supernaturals, Jason explained that there was a difference… He could see vampires’ distinction. Because Compton was the first vampire he’d met, Jason thought that ‘the douche’ just needed to get some sun because he seemed to glow in the dark, but once he met more vampires, he realized that we all ‘glow’… Weres were different in that even when they were sitting perfectly still, they seemed to be ‘hyper, tight like a spring’… Paulette stood apart because he had a physical reaction to her. He compared it to the feeling he gets when he realized that he’d leaned back too far in a chair just before he started to fall. Dolt. The train of thought led him to ask about the Cataliades family and ‘that Phillip cat’ who checked him in… They all smelled like ‘hot rocks’… Not only did Sookie agree with him along the way, but so did Michelle… Considering that we knew the Stackhouses’ Fae heritage was watered down by a few generations, all of us were curious as to how they all had such a keen sense of other supernaturals.

We didn’t get to think about it for long though.

The conversation ended when Salome arrived with Owen, more importantly, without Mickey. Paulette and Jason took Michelle to Paulette’s room so that she could wait in private to find out about her contract.

Salome was positively giddy while I read through the contract. She’d used the one I’d sent to her for Sookie’s services as a template and simply adjusted rates and added vacation time and the section outlining the methods of keeping Michelle’s anonymity. The contract was written for a precursory one month term with an addendum to extend the contract to one year. Michelle would be paid $10,000 upon signing, $50,000 upon extending and an additional $5,000 per month including full health benefits…

While I acted as Michelle’s manager, Sookie explained to Salome how to contact her missing vampires and the mystery had been solved with one phone call.

When I joined Michelle in Paulette’s room and explained her contract line by line, she cried… She explained that she’d been struggling to make ends meet while hiding her ability for most of her life… in retrospect, it ‘burned a little’ to know that she could’ve been comfortable all along.

Owen was to be one of the four staff members who would know about Michelle’s actual purpose so he was made aware the he was in our suite to meet the ‘mystery mind reader’… Seeing that he’d already met her, he looked like he was kicking himself. He actually joked while she was signing that he’d noticed ‘something different’ about her since he’d been working so closely with Sookie, but he reassured her that it wasn’t something obvious.

Sookie’s mood was too light, as though she hadn’t been plagued by a frustrating, if not disappointing day… I can’t say I was disappointed. She was very pleased with herself for helping Michelle, rightfully so.

She cleared her throat as she opened another Red Bull. “So, I was thinking… The vandalisms that we were concerned about were just disgruntled employees. The missing vampires weren’t in danger, just in hiding. We know about the Fellowship’s plans to burn a vampire and the problematic fundraising they’re doing… Maybe we should move on to the next area? I mean, the big stuff is taken care of and the little stuff isn’t any different that it was before… Now that Salome has her own telepath on staff, maybe we should think about the next job… I can spend tonight with Michele, giving her tips and whatnot… We can head out at sunset tomorrow… I’m sure Eric needs to deal with some of the fallout of Fangtasia being bombed too.”

I nodded. “I need to sit down with the fire inspector and insurance adjuster as a minimum.” I was grateful that she brought it up.

Salome gave a sigh. “I do wish I had the cooperation of the packs here, but I suppose it’s just greedy to keep you all to myself when there are other areas in need of your help.”

Sookie smiled at her. “Once things settle down, I can come back for clinics since Michelle is staying incognito… But… why don’t you call your packmasters? Have them come in tonight before it gets too late. I’ll mediate. They might distrust me less because I’m human… well, to be more specific, not a vampire.”

“You wouldn’t mind? I mean you certainly seem to have a way with…” Salome paused to nod towards Alcide. “Well, you seem to have a way with everyone.”

Sookie gave her a very bright smile. “Everyone but humans. And of course I don’t mind. I’m all about keeping the peace.”

**

Before we left our suite, Sookie ‘tried Owen on for size’ so that she would know what Michelle was dealing with. Since he wasn’t quite 150 years old yet, his mind wasn’t nearly as much help in comparison to mine, but Michelle didn’t have my mind to judge against it. Sookie took my hand and dropped her shields, inviting Michelle into her mind so that she could ‘see’ how Sookie uses her ability. While Sookie’s eyes were closed, she repeated the thoughts of the few people on the floor immediately beneath ours while Michelle gaped… She compared her own ability to a dragnet because she caught too many thoughts to be able to decipher them all when she was in crowds. But Sookie’s ability was a heat seeking missile… Sookie could search out any mind she chose. With Owen’s ‘help’ Michelle was able to hear a few scattered thoughts from Alcide as well.

Sookie explained that her ability wasn’t much stronger until she started ‘stretching her legs’ and that she noticed the biggest difference when she was given vampire blood. Owen offered to provide some. Not his own, of course, but security at the hotel routinely found people with recreational amounts and they just destroyed it. Michelle said that she’d think about it, but she wanted to see what ‘exercise’ would do for her first.

With Jason, Pam and Alcide in tow, the telepaths and their respective vampires went to Shed first.

While Sookie and Michelle sat in a loaded silence, I called Andre.

“Northman, I know for a fact that Hadley isn’t causing any trouble tonight. She’s under lock and key.”

“That’s not why I’m calling, but if that were the case, she wouldn’t have access to the phone she used to call My Sookie and make threats today.”

“She called Miss Stackhouse?”

“And threatened to harm and/or drain Jason Stackhouse as well as Sookie’s friends. It seems that Hadley feels as though Sookie is at fault for the punishment she’s receiving for her own poor choices.”

The uncomfortable silence he answered me with was ended by the sound of a loud crack followed by a crash and a whimper. Knowing that Hadley had been in arm’s reach, made me understand the appeal of tattling. “I’ll see to the matter myself then. What was your reason for calling if not to report the threat?”

“We feel as though Sookie’s services have exceeded their need here in Baton Rouge. I was calling to let you know that we’ll be returning to Shreveport tomorrow evening and to ask if the Queen has a preference as to where Sookie ventures next. If the Queen has no reason to argue, I think that Sookie’s ability might be valuable to Stan Davis in Dallas since it’s the headquarters for the Fellowship.”

“Miss Stackhouse has remedied the problems plaguing the casino so quickly?”

“Most of them within hours of arriving… The vandalisms were committed by insolent employees. The picketing was halted because Sookie threatened the local police with a vampire civil rights fueled protest. The missing vampires were just in hiding…”

“Cowards.”

“My thoughts exactly. Sookie discovered a couple of Weres who were gathering information for Arkansas. They’ve been taken care of and there seems to be a bounty on the head of any vampire issued by Reverend Newlin. He intends to televise a vampire going up at dawn. Sookie has read nearly 400 pets and donors and found a fellow telepath for Salome’s use.”

“She found another telepath?”

“The new mind reader doesn’t have the strength Sookie does. Salome has her under contract for the sole purpose of additional security. She has no talent for Weres…”

“How much weaker is she?”

“While Sookie found Hadley several floors away from us in a closed room, the new telepath found 30 feet of open space and only 3 readable minds difficult.”

“I’ll inform the Queen.” I was surprised that Salome hadn’t already given them some sort of account of Michelle’s being.

“Thank you for passing that along. She’s hopeful that with practice, she’ll get stronger as Sookie did.”

“Having two telepaths in the kingdom is remarkable enough… To the best of my knowledge, Gervaise and Cleo aren’t reporting anything out of the ordinary. I’ll ask the Queen if she prefers that Sookie goes to Mississippi before Dallas as a diplomacy measure, but given what I know, Dallas sounds more emergent. Every pet in the area is likely a Fellow.” In his millennium as Sophie-Ann’s lackey, he’d forgotten that some of us had survived without a petticoat to cling to. Having him agree with my approach wasn’t any form of compliment.

“If you would, let me know as soon as possible so I can call either about arrangements. We’ll be traveling and doing meetings tomorrow and Friday. We’ll be available to Edgington or Davis on Sunday.”

“Will you need to appoint someone to stand in for you?”

“No. I’m going to leave my Area’s emergencies to Colonel Flood.” Alcide had been discussing baseball statistics with Jason until he’d heard me. His eyes bulged.

“You’re leaving your area to a Were?”

“Most of the squabbling and nonsense comes to me as calls and emails. Colonel Flood can be trusted to handle matters with decorum until Pam or I can return for anything more pressing.”

“That’s unprecedented to say the least… but it’s your choice since you have to manage affairs if you’re wrong. Have you found full time security for Miss Stackhouse yet? I’m still hoping you’ll take my offer of Quinn.” Alcide offered a sickened snarl as he shook his head. I should’ve been annoyed that he was eavesdropping, but I was too amused at his reaction to the tiger’s mention.

“For now. You can keep your tiger. Flood provided a very able Were for Sookie’s security. He’s working out quite well.”

“Very well. I’ll have to wait to find another excuse to be rid of him. I’ll be calling you back shortly.”

“Thank you.”

**

“You want me to be Sookie’s full time guard?” Alcide hadn’t waited long enough for me to place my phone back in my pocket.

I nodded. “She hasn’t complained about you much…”

He shot a dirty look in her direction. “What did I do?”

She giggled, “Bully.”

He pointed at himself. “Uh… body guard… Fine while we’re whining, I want to lodge a complaint about her damn bikinis. I spend most of my time growling at hard ons trying to get a piece.”

I chuckled when she showed him her ‘fuck you’ finger. “Put the complaint in writing.”

He scowled at Sookie before getting back on track. “Still… I have a job to get back to.”

“Since you work for your father, I doubt he’ll put you in a position to be searching for permanent employment. Sookie will be doing a lot of traveling for the time being, but once everything settles down, we’ll be returning to Shreveport. You can resume working for your father whenever we’re in Area 5. You’ll be compensated and given per diem, of course.”

“Working for you includes protection, right?”

I nodded. It would be a given since letting him die defeated the purpose of hiring him in the first place.

“Extend protection to my sister and her family and I’m in.”

“Not your father?”

“My sister needs protection because of him. He’s made his bed… He’s lucky you intervened as it is.” I can’t say I was surprised, but he managed to impress me again.

“No Range Rover?”

He chuckled. “My truck is my baby.”

“I think we’ve reached an accord then.”

**

I’d been distracted from Andre’s call to tell me that Sophie-Ann was in agreement about Davis’s need for Sookie’s services by the way Jason kicked his sister to get her attention and point to a donor who was wandering around in Shed. He was ‘up to no good’.

Owen, Pam, Alcide and I all watched him and the thin man with sunken eyes didn’t seem to be a threat to anything but aesthetics… Until Sookie confirmed quietly, “Drainer. He has a net.”

Before anyone could decide how to handle the silver risks, Jason slipped under the table and reappeared on the floor outside of the booth. He walked up behind the man, tapped his shoulder and the man turned only to be greeted by Jason’s childlike smile and probably one of the sexiest punches I’ve ever witnessed.

The drainer went down with a cartoonlike flop as he hit the floor. He didn’t show any signs of getting up either… The Berts actually chuckled as they carried him out of the lounge after they congratulated Jason. Somehow they knew what a ‘left hook’ was. Pam grabbed his ass when he crawled under the table to take his seat back. I’m not sure how he returned the favor, but it made her jump.

**

Our party crowded around a Blackjack table near the center of the casino with the exceptions of the Berts who were enjoying their ‘dinner break’. A pit-boss delivered chips for Sookie and Michelle and returned with mine from the cage. Sookie shared hers with Jason and I rolled my eyes when Pam stole half of mine. Alcide refused to touch ‘the damn things’.

While the telepaths worked, I watched Jason Stackhouse amass chips. There was no rhyme or reason to his method. He’d stay on 11, hit with 18, split 6s… he didn’t lose a single hand dealt to him even if the dealer did have to explain that he couldn’t split a jack and a queen just because they were both worth 10. I might have been joking when I spelled ‘rainman’ into Sookie’s palm, but Jason’s instincts were far more than the ‘acute’ description I’d been given… I’d use the word unequaled. I didn’t know how he was doing it. The dealer’s tell was a miniscule twitch when he reached for the cards or an equally small pull on the right corner of his mouth, both of which, Pam was missing to the extent of $5000.

I leaned over to Sookie and whispered, “Focus on your brother for a few minutes.”

Her lips brushed the rim of my ear when she answered. “What am I listening for?”

“How he hasn’t lost a hand yet. I’m curious.”

She giggled lightly but it was enough to give me chills. “Spotting the drainer before the rest of us isn’t nagging you?”

“That too.”

She kissed my earlobe before she sat back and no sooner than she did, Jason gave her a dirty look. “Get out. Cheater.” Alcide leaned over Pam to mumble that he couldn’t feel it when Sookie read his thoughts as though he was reading mine. I’d never seen anyone else as much as hint that they knew Sookie was doing it.

She giggled at him. “I can’t cheat at blackjack by reading your mind. Chill out.”

“Then what are you doing?”

“Just curious.”

“Fine. Enter at your own risk.”

A few minutes went by and Sookie waved a floorman over to point out a couple who was lurking near the slot machines in search of a mugging target… then again, when she found someone with loaded dice at the craps table. He didn’t have the right color dice, but he needed to be scared off before he had the chance to use them… and a third time when she found a woman with a purse full of wallets that didn’t belong to her.

I leaned over again. “Is the casino too busy to focus on your brother?”

“I found them because of him… I swear, his mind, if he could pass a written test, he’d make a great cop. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but he can just sense when someone can’t be trusted.”

Jason grumbled. “Not always. I missed the Rene thing.” He barely looked up from stacking his chips.

Alcide leaned over Pam again. “Is it crazy that I think he should go to Dallas too?”

I shook my head. “No. I’m curious…”

Jason interrupted. “I don’t think it’ll do any good. I spent some time thinking about it. I think I missed what Rene was up to because he really thought he was doing the right thing. Those folks with the church ain’t gonna be no different.”

“You’d go though? To settle our curiosity?”

Sookie added, “It can’t hurt.”

Jason laughed. “Can I share a room with Pam?”

Sookie and I were too amused at the way Pam purred that ‘something could be arranged’.

**

A messenger was sent to inform Sookie that the Packmasters were due to arrive at 1am and that someone would be sent to get her when everyone was ready to start the meeting so we stayed where we were except for the suspicious (and simultaneous) departures that Pam and Jason took…

Alcide and the Berts followed as we were led to a high roller lounge to be met by Salome and two Weres, both of them were oozing hostility. Our arrival only seemed to exaggerate their moods.

The taller of all of them was a woman, long dark hair with a stern scowl. “Nice move vampire. We’re cornered. What do you want?”

Salome sighed, “Margret, they aren’t here to corner you. This is my associate Eric Northman and his pet Sookie Stackhouse. The rest are her guards.”

Sookie smiled and offered a little wave that didn’t reduce Margaret’s suspicions. “Why would she need guards?”

Salome nodded in Sookie’s direction to let her explain. “I’m a telepath. I’m working here for Salome to help find the source of some problems…”

“The Fellowship isn’t our problem.”

“Not yet. What happens when y’all come out? They’ll be your problem then… Think about it, they’ll petition for ‘full moon hunting licenses’ and organize hunting parties on any reserve they can find in the name of everything ‘holy’… Don’t be shitty. You were only invited here to talk.”

“I get a late night phone call from a vampire demanding that I come to the casino as a command performance. I’m sorry. I left my manners in my other purse.”

“Pea Ridge has been in the area under false pretenses. When they checked in with Travis over there, they said that they were just visiting friends in the area. They were actually sent by Arkansas to take part in Threadgill’s attempt to overthrow LeCerq. Do I need to spell out the repercussions of what happens if any of you seem to be sympathetic to another state’s spies in a vampire coup? Do I have your attention now?”

“We wouldn’t want any parts of that shit. Did they implicate us, our packs?”

Sookie shook her head at the agitated Were. “Of course not. If either of you had been implicated, you’d have been brought here instead of invited. Other than the fact that Travis didn’t trust his instincts about those two Weres, y’all aren’t being blamed for anything…”

Margaret turned to growl at Travis.

Sookie protested, “Knock it off! You’re acting like a child! Salome invited y’all here so that she could ask for some give and take. She wants a little cooperation. A freakin’ phone call if y’all get any new Weres from Arkansas interloping.”

Travis grumbled, “What is she offering in return?”

“For starters, reciprocal consideration. You need to actually man up and speak directly to the scary vampire in lavender to negotiate, damn wussies.” Alcide got a dirty look from the other Weres in the room for chuckling.

Margaret snarled at him, “What’s so damn funny?”

His voice boomed, “That Miss Stackhouse is right. You’re being uncooperative chicken shits. Salome just wants her vampires to be safe. You can help by giving her a phone call.”

“Look, I don’t know what kind of fantasy you assholes in Area 5 are living, but down here, we don’t get along terribly well with fangs.”

Sookie shook her head with a confused look. “Why not?”

Margaret sighed. “Just last month I had one of my wolves nearly killed by a vampire.”

“Did you report it?”

“Why would I? She wouldn’t do anything!”

Sookie snorted, “Uh… she can’t possibly do anything about it if you don’t report it.” Alcide grumbled ‘no shit’ in agreement.

Salome raised her eyebrows. “Is he recovering well? Do you know any of the details?”

The bitch snarled, “He’s just now getting up without help. Thanks for asking. It was a dispute over some human.”

“Romantic or…”

Margaret opened her mouth to answer, but Sookie was faster. “Romantic for the Were. Possessive for the vampire. The woman wanted to be with the Were… Since the Were lost, she’s stuck with… Mickey’s keeping her against her will. Her name is Iris.” Salome visibly cringed at the idea of her child being such a colossal pain in the ass.

She nodded deep enough to surprise the Weres. “My many apologies. I’ll immediately see to his medical expenses and his lost wages. The vampire will be barred from contact with either party. Is there anything else you’d like for me to do?”

Margaret looked like she’d been hit. “Just like that?”

“I wasn’t made aware so that I could do something sooner. Mickey will be punished more extensively on a private level. He isn’t allowed to keep pets.”

“Is this just because you want something?”

Salome shook her head. “Nothing more than a working relationship. I’m envious that Sheriff Northman enjoys such reciprocity in Area 5.”

Alcide added, “Edgington too. His sheriffs are under orders to play nice with Mississippi packs. Terrence doesn’t socialize, but he knows he can go to Edgington… like the Colonel knows he can go to Northman.”

Travis snorted and walked towards the doorway. “I’ll let you know if anyone checks in with me.”

Margaret gasped and called him back. “How can you agree to work with these things?”

“It’s not enough that I’d rather get along with someone who can rip me in half?”

She snorted, “No! No, it’s not. This is the equivalent of handing over your lunch money before you get wedgied.”

“Then how about this… I don’t need your permission to have allies. The woman invited us here to ask for a fucking phone call…”

“Did you ask what happened to the Pea Ridge Weres?”

He shrugged. “They’re dead. If they aren’t they should be, if for no better reason than to take their dumb asses out of the gene pool. Those idiots put themselves in the middle of a plot to overthrow a vampire in power most likely for cash… fuck them and fuck getting caught up in the bullshit… Salome, I’m sure I’ll be talking to you closer to the full moon. They have to check in so they can run.”

Salome nodded. “Thank you. You have no idea how much I appreciate your assistance.”

As Travis left, Mickey entered uninvited. “What’s going on?”

Salome lifted her chin. “Where is Iris?”

He gaped at her for only a moment before he turned to Sookie and hissed, somehow blaming her for his idiocy. His first step towards Sookie hadn’t landed before the Berts and I formed a wall between them. Sookie’s hands rested on my back as she filled with anxiety.

He opened his mouth in protest, but in the small window of time before my fist could form, before Salome could ‘call’ him… Mickey was yanked back with force.

I watched in awe as Alcide grabbed him by his clothes and dropped to the floor to slam Mickey over his knee. The resounding snap of Mickey’s spine shattering and the thump as he limply fell to the floor was bittersweet. Sure I was impressed, sure Mickey deserved it, but I wanted to be the one to do it.

Alcide kicked Mickey in the side of the head when he stood up. “I think your maker asked you a question, bitch.”

The only reply Mickey offered was a grunt and some slight twitching.

Sookie ran out from behind us and kicked Alcide’s shin on her way to Salome. When Mickey’s spine was broken, Salome’s knees had buckled. She was sitting on the floor with her hand to her head. Sookie pleaded, “I’m so sorry… I don’t think Alcide knew about the connection between makers and children… He never would’ve…”

Sookie offered her hand, but Salome shook her head. “Don’t you dare apologize for him. He was doing his job, impressively at that.”

Sookie gave her a morose grin and offered her hand again. “He didn’t have to have so much fun though.”

Salome gave her a little laugh as her transferred pain eased. “Why not? I would’ve.”

Sookie gave up trying to help her up, not realizing that Salome was only refusing her hand because of propriety, and slid a chair away from the table and left it behind her.

It took Salome a moment, but once she had lifted herself into the chair, Mickey started to writhe and sputter for her to stop. She was using the call to make him regret charging Sookie and it was beautiful. “Don’t make me repeat myself, Mickey.”

“She’s… she’s… in my room… she’s mine.”

Salome shook her head. “No she isn’t. You aren’t allowed to keep pets. You can’t be trusted… Mr. Herveaux, would you mind retrieving the girl so that we can look her over before we release her to Margaret’s care? Room 603.”

He nodded and left without a word.

**

The rest of us waited in silence except for Mickey’s pained groans. Every time he tried to peal himself from the floor, Salome reminded him to stay there.

Alcide’s arrival was announced by the door being kicked open because his hands weren’t free.

The girl, Iris, was limp. Alcide was carrying her wrapped in a sheet. Her body was covered in bite marks that weren’t healing because she was so anemic. She wasn’t conscious… In fact there wasn’t a single lively thing about her. Her heartbeat was too faint to think she’d live another week under Mickey’s ‘care’.

Alcide growled, “There wasn’t a stitch of clothes for her in the room. When she saw me, she was so scared she cried, but she’s too weak to move.” In Mickey’s world, there was no excuse. He had a donor pool of his own available to him every night and his maker didn’t have a cruel bone in her body.

Salome looked sickened. “Margaret, I would heal her, but she’s so close to death that my blood could turn her…”

“That’d be great. Just what we need. Another vampire.” At the sight of what Mickey had done, there wasn’t a vampire in the room who could take offense.

“I’d like to suggest that you take her to the hospital.”

“If I do that, the police will be…”

“Looking for David ‘Mickey’ McKay. He lives here and will be confined until they arrive with a warrant. Encourage her to press charges without fear of retaliation. Perhaps some time in a silver cage will change his mind about how to treat humans. I’ve tried everything else.”

Margaret’s jaw was slack. “You seriously want me to take her to a hospital…”

“I’ll take care of the bill myself in addition to anything else you tell me she needs.”

“…And you’re asking me to turn in your child for blood slavery.”

“Yes. I am. I’ve given him everything I could by way of direction. He’s clearly incorrigible.” That was one way to handle it. As much as I loved Pam, she wouldn’t have seen her 100th birthday if she’d ever been so out of control.

**

Alcide carried Iris through the service entrance so that her appearance wouldn’t startle the customers and guests. Margaret left with a new appreciation for Salome’s temperance and agreed to contact her if she smelled anything ‘fishy’. The Berts carried Mickey’s still partially paralyzed body to Salome’s holding area since she was still too weak to do it herself. The ‘olive branch’ Sookie suggested hadn’t been the meeting anyone suspected, but the result had been the same. Salome had started a relationship with her Packmasters.

With everything else out of the way, Sookie and I went through the casino so that she could check on Michelle’s progress before we retired to our room for the night. Since we’d left her, she’d found two prostitutes and a waitress who was padding her tips.

The elevator was a welcome sight by the time we were done.

As soon as the doors closed behind us, Sookie grabbed my shirt and pulled me to her… She practically climbed me for a kiss.

The chaos we’d been victim to since we’d left our room might have been a torment, but the sensory change wasn’t unwelcome.

Before she had the chance to argue, I lifted her, pinning her to the wall to pull her legs around me.

Had Sookie taken her mouth away from mine, I might have asked what brought on her attack, but after just a few floors, talking was the last thing I wanted to do.

She wedged her hand between us to yank down my zipper and push her hand into my pants…

One squeeze of her hot little fist was all it took to bring my fangs out…

She pulled and rubbed… kissing me like she didn’t need to breathe…

And just before the door opened, she slammed her head back against the glass of the elevator with a whimper. Her mood was spoiled so quickly, mine suffered.

“What’s wrong?”

“Pam and Jason…” For more than two hours? The idiot was a champion among human men.

“You can ‘hear’ them from here?”

“And Dana and Misty.” He might deserve a trophy.

In a desperate grasp to not completely lose the mood, I started teasing her neck. “They aren’t playing backgammon then?”

She panted as she shook her head, but she didn’t stop me. She stilled for a moment before she seemed to rebound…

She leaned back to me, pressing her cheek to mine to whimper into my ear while I played…

“Shields?”

She nodded against me. “If I hear them, I’ll be screwed though. Any ideas?”

I chuckled against her shoulder, causing a shiver to wrack her whole body and take us both a moment to recover from. “The roof?”

I felt her surrender before she said, “You’re the boss.”

**

The hinges on the door to the roof almost didn’t survive. The rain has eased but the sky was almost constantly lit with spikes of lightning cutting through the clouds.

I took her to the back of the stand for the stairwell to avoid the security cameras for the landing pad and take advantage of the shelter offered by the overhang, but by the time we had all the privacy we would get, Sookie had unbuttoned my shirt one button and nibble at a time.

I pushed her back into the smooth concrete wall earning a loud hiss as she arched her back away from the cold surface to rub into me.

She clawed for my belt… whimpered against my chest when I pulled her panties away from her…

Kissing me desperately…

Whimpering with my lip trapped between her teeth as I pushed into her…

Everything from my knees to my chest ached…

Every part of her throbbed with the wake of her excited pulse…

Watching the rain cascade over her skin…

She rocked her hips to me…

Tightening her legs around my waist…

Giving in completely like the electricity in the air cured her of her ‘sensibilities’…

She was more vocal than before…

Freer without the worry that someone would hear…

Her voice competed with the thunder…

Her body warmed us both to the point that I felt like I was sweating…

And every hot breath she heaved against me only pushed me…

I shoved her face against my chest, wanting her to bite, wanting her to take my blood, wanting more of me to be inside of her…

But she breathlessly pulled away, letting her head fall back, giving her neck to me…

Her legs tightened as her hips rocked into me…

Pulling me deeper…

Her face contorted in agony and need as her body tensed around me…

And I couldn’t resist the pounding in her neck any longer…

When I pushed my fangs into her, she all but vibrated…

A long desperate moan escaped her and washed over me as her blood rushed from the wound on her neck like it needed to be consumed…

Her breathing stopped while she came…

Her face flushed to a bright red with her mouth open, ready to release the heated and heavy noises trapped in her throat…

She forced open her eyes, locking them on mine taking my lip between her teeth and biting… just enough to break the skin…

Just a drop, maybe two… It was enough.

As my blood touched her tongue, my body seized under the euphoric wave and the sensation was just enough… just the push I needed…

My knees tried to fold and Sookie winced from my fingers digging into her hips as I came…

And when it was all over, I collapsed into her… It was the only way to not fall over.

I was panting again.

**

Once I could, I sat down… Sookie’s legs still around me, my cock still tormented by her occasional quakes.

She gave me a worried look while I tried to stop breathing.

Since I didn’t know why I was breathing, I didn’t want to waste time thinking about it. “What’s next?”

“Ummmmmm. You call Stan Davis and I call room service.” That wasn’t what I meant.

“I was thinking that I’d put you on your knees on the skylight and fuck you until just before dawn.”

“You’re on crack if you think I don’t need a break.”

I laughed at her. “Fine. We’ll order your dinner and then return to the roof to fuck on the giant window.”

She sat back, biting her lip. “You’re not going to turn me into some kind of exhibitionist overnight.”

“You just fucked me on the roof of a building, Sookie. I think it’s too late try to make that claim.”

“The tallest building for miles with no witnesses. We might as well have been in our room… The skylight is open all the way down to the lobby.”

“You’d have fucked me in the elevator.”

“That’s different. Our clothes would’ve been on and you would’ve been blocking me from being exposed and I still would’ve been nervous.”

“Then I’ll lie down on the skylight and you can be on top…”

She narrowed her eyes as she put her feet under her and stood up. I watched her, completely amused, as she took a few unsteady steps and then walked over to the door to the stairwell.

She yanked the knob a few times as panic started to set in.  “Eric, we’re trapped up here.”

I stood, quickly straightening my clothes and by the time I reached her, Sookie was the picture of alarm. I picked her up and lifted us from the rooftop. “What has you so worried that you’d forget I fly?”

She wrapped her arms around my neck and cringed. “Dawn is only a couple hours away.”

“You’re so worried about dawn that you forget I can ‘call’ Pam, fly, pull the door from the hinges, use my cell phone…”

“I was stupid. I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.”

I kissed her forehead as I descended to the terrace of the 4th floor’s ballroom. We were both soaking wet, so going through the lobby would’ve been less than discreet “You don’t need to worry about me, but I love that you do.”

“I love you. I don’t want anything to happen to you.”

“I still want to fuck you on that skylight.”

She giggled. “When’s your birthday?”

“I don’t know. We didn’t use the same calendar calendar.”

“Pity… That seems like a birthday request to me.”

I set her on her feet and opened the door for her. “Did I say I didn’t know? I was just joking. Tonight is my birthday.”

She giggled, “Nice try.”

**

While Sookie showered in an attempt to drown out the noises coming from Pam and Jason’s ‘love shack’, I called Stan Davis to make arrangements for our Sunday arrival in Dallas and waited for room service’s arrival.

Her food was waiting when she joined me, so I finally had the chance to ask her if she had any thoughts on procedures…

Her eyes studied the ceiling while she chewed… “Ummm. Considering how right Andre could’ve been when he said that every pet and donor in Dallas could be a Fellowship spy, I think maybe… How about a mandatory pet screening? Could he order every vampire in his area to bring their pets for a clinic? If he has the space… What’s his population look like?

Without prompting, Stan answered, “We exceed 300.”

She tiled her head with a slight shrug. “We can split it up over a couple of days. I’d rather do it at night though. Considering… His contract needs to include that the masters can’t kill spies. The sudden disappearance of half of Newlin’s parishioners could spark something nationwide. There’s no way to get ahead of that.”

Stan grumbled. “What does she suggest we do with them?”

She scowled at the phone. “Buy them a pony…” She started giggling at me when my eyes widened because of her sardonic remark. “…Look, I’m not trying to tell you you’re business, but you want to hire me so you can find spies. Go ahead. Kill them all. And when vampires from Land’s End to Tijuana start leaving a trail of ashes, I’ll let their sheriffs know that you were the one that couldn’t keep his fangs in check.”

“That leaves us knowing who the spies are and not being able to do anything about it.” I might as well have set the phone down since it didn’t seem like I was needed.

“Not really. Reverse it. Set them up. Glamour them into armed robbery with no ammo, stealing cars, breaking and entering… They’ll go to jail and be off the streets and out of your way. I’m sure you have a reporter that can break the story of the ‘Fellowship Crime Spree’… Shame them. Discredit them. That’s how you get the self righteous.”

“We’re free to end the individuals that have no church affiliation though.”

She rolled her eyes. “To your heart’s extent, but you might want to make sure your serfs don’t dump the bodies in Dallas.”

“I doubt they’d be so foolish. Do you have a preference of that too?”

“Area 3. Arkansas.”

“Little Rock?”

“And the surrounding areas… As a matter of fact, just for fun, y’all could put all the bodies into a stolen UHaul… and then Dallas’s bodies are Little Rock’s nightmare.”

He snorted, “I’d laugh if I wasn’t concerned that she would tell Edgington to ship his bodies to me.”

I laughed. “That’s not Sookie’s style. She was being facetious because you seem anxious to kill humans.”

“She’s quite cheeky.”

“I have no argument. However, she’s rarely wrong. Her worth allows for a very long leash…” She blew a kiss to me. “That she rarely takes for granted.”

“I’m sure… I’ll contact you tomorrow night once travel arrangements are made.” Sookie made an incredulous face while she shook her head. The look was usually reserved for her brother’s fuckery.

“I’ll take care of that myself.”

“You’re sure?”

“Davis, you’re concerned that you have spies within your nest. Why would I travel on an itinerary one of them could’ve arranged? We’ll leave at sunset on Sunday.”

Sookie left the table disappearing into our room for a few minutes…

When she came back she leaned over to place a kiss on the side of my neck… It wasn’t until I felt her warmth that I realized how wet my clothes were…

I wanted her heat back and nothing Stan said managed to get my attention as Sookie knelt between my feet.

I covered the receiver. “Is your break over?”

Her eyebrow quirked as she whispered, “Ask my master.”

I growled loud enough that Stan asked me if he should end the call, which I ignored. “Is sunrise why you didn’t take my blood earlier.”

She cringed as she nodded. “Losing time outside like that…” Enough said.

“Stan?”

“Yes?”

“Call me tomorrow.”

Sookie was already smiling when I carried her to the bedroom…

When her teeth cut into my wrist…

The last thing I could understand was the sound of fabric ripping.

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58 thoughts on “Chapter 16: Sensory Change

  1. Awesome! I am extremely happy that you updated Meanwhile. I like how you’ve introduced Jason’s intuitiveness and I am greatly looking forward to the next chapter.

  2. Fantastic as always. I guessing the Dallas stuff is a lead in to a sequel? I really wanted either this E&S or the BTD couple to film their “losing time” we know what’s going on externally. For all we know they could be completely still and everything their experiencing be more metaphysical or something.

  3. I’m so happy you updated Meanwhile! :D I’ve been waiting for this for what seems like so long. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love ICB and now, with that kiss, I’m SO looking forward to the next one, but this…I’ve loved for longer. haha. I’m so great with words at 1AM. Go me!

    Looking forward to the next update,
    xoxo
    Gaby

  4. Oooooo, I really liked this one, Sam getting a trunk full of french fries, Jackson being taken care of to keep from messing with Alcide, Alcide’s rant, Mikey getting caught, Jason being so much more than a dumb hick and Stan having to learn that Sookie has some great ideas. Great chapter, you are wonderful.

  5. wow that was a long one. this will be fun going to texas! sookie does have a way with people. jason and pam are double trouble. hehe. i love jason in this story and i hope he is helpful in texas! :)

  6. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I’m the first one to comment. Anyway, I got very excited when I saw the email alert for this chapter. I love the way you tell a story. I wonder if Pam realizes Sookie is getting some of the benefit of her activities with Jason. I also love that Jason has abilities of his own, even if he does march to the beat of a different drummer. I wonder if Salome may have to give up and put Mickey to sleep. He’s a monster. I’m glad they were able to rescue that girl before she died. Poor thing. As always I look forward to more of your stories.

  7. Wonderful chapter as always! Thanks for giving us a nice long chapter too… I was trying to take my time reading it but I was too excited!

  8. A big smile appeared on my face when I saw I had a Meanwhile update. Good chapter; Sookie continues to impress, Jason continues to grow, Eric continues to be a hot M-F! Maybe he can fit into my size XXXL Chanukah stocking! (part of him?)

  9. I can’t get enough. I LOVE this story all the time, every time. I love how E & S are to each other, the fun they have. Interesting about Jason. Alcide is doing a great job and he’s hilarious. Jason & Pam, umm, not sure about that. Well, I am glad we are moving on to Texas. I needed more. You are the best. Thank you!

  10. I hope Salome is able to get Mickey under control because I’m not sure Michelle will be safe with him around… nobody is safe with him around!
    I was happy to see Jason show up in this chapter… he does have hidden talents. Look forward to Dallas trip. Thank you for this great chapter!

  11. I’m really intrigued by how this Jason is turning out. I like a smarter version. Well done.
    Love these two. Can’t wait to see what Pam comes up with to get Sookie back.
    Cheers, Balti K

  12. God, so sexy! When he ‘takes’ her to the part of the roof that is less visible and takes her on the concrete :) oooh oooh. And I LOVED the skylight idea, either seeing his arse pressed against it or his junk from underneath :)

    You have me thinking nawty thoughts…:)

    What a great solution for captured Fellowship Spies, I hope they B and E into each other’s places though, rather than civilians :) hey maybe they could all get jailed for indecent exposure or something. Hee hee.

    You make Jason so sexy too, if I’d have been Pam I’d have goosed him too. That gif at the beginning, Ryan Kwanten may be shorter than our big, sexy Swede but he’s concentrated hotness!

    Lucky Misty and Dawn too, great names btw I got the joke, they have the attentions of a part Fae sex machine and a full vampire sex goddess :)

    Almost makes you consider being gay :)

    Lastly in my ramble, I enjoyed the Fangreaders chat last night, hope you’ll be on again soon maybe. With one of your sequels or new books :)

    Thank you EIM, ya rock.

  13. And I over use these – :). It’s your fault, your writing makes me smile and laugh out loud. French fries for McNugget!

  14. Oh, thanks for the awesome update!! I have learned to like and respect Salome, but Mickey seriously needs to go! I love how she is turning her area around with Eric and Sookie’s help. I hope Michelle will do well.

    Go Alcide…what an awesome bodyguard he is turning out to be. Too bad his dad is such a schmuck. And I am SO loving Jason and Pam! His intuitiveness is turning out to be such an asset. I love seeing his character evolve. And I can’t wait to see where things go with him and Pam.

    Great chapter as usual :D

  15. Yaaaay!! I am so happy to have another chapter of Meanwhile!! I love this story so much. I love the Eric and Sookie banter, how smart and cheeky Sookie is and, and how everyone seems to respect and listen to her! I love that Mickey is probably gonna spend some time in a silver cage! I love howw Sookie is a natural problem solver!! I can’t wait for the next chapter!! How many more chapters do you have planned for this story?

  16. looovvvveeeddd it!!! great chapter and welcome back from the ICB world. oh and i am just loving this Jason…i wonder what he’ll do in Dallas besides the obvious ;) question, why would Alcide fill Sam’s truck with fries instead of nuggets? just wondering haha

  17. Loved the update! While your AH stories rock, I really LOVE your “canon” stories –all your stories are such a cut above, but I really really want more of these!

    Pat

  18. Thanks for the update. Although I’m now partial to ICB, Meanwhile is still one of my fave fanfic. Great chapter. =D

  19. Really great chapter. I love the BTD and Meanwhile world.I loved the way you showed the other side of Jason. I loved that Micky will be going to jail.I am looking forward to the trip to texas.

  20. I love that Jason isn’t a complete fucktard here. It’s great. Though part of me wanted ICB still, regardless of how much you’ve updated that lately. But wow, this was great. Thanks!

  21. Awesome MW update. It’s great to see canon again. Love Pam reaction to the prank. The whole were storyline is wicked cool. Paulette & family – great reaction.

    I love what you have done with Jason. Giving him something special is awesome. Love it all

  22. Love our saucy lill’ telepath in this one……Mickey i fear will be a problem once he’s done jail time. Hope Michelle works out for Salome….

    Wonder what ex telepath Stan Davis has to say about Sookie??? so looking forward to it.

    JoXx

  23. happy you updated Meanwhile Sookie is all kinds of helpful. womder what in store in Dallas….. Jason is to funny with his sixth sense, and off to have sex with Pam tooo funny….. waiting ofr the next chapter.

  24. Wonderful, loved her messing with Pam. I like that you give Jason some sense and make him fun. Great roof sex. Thank you for making Monday bearable.

  25. Just love the way you write Eric in all your stories. If it really is coming to an end then I hope for a sequel too.

  26. although I like ICB, BTD and Meanwhile are my favorites. Thanks for the newest chapter! Did I miss where he gave her the ring or not? I’ll have to go back and re read.
    SO very glad that Jas isn’t an idiot in this story. Poor thing always gets the short end of the stick…..

  27. Really great chapter!! I’ve been looking forward to an update and am looking forward to their Dallas trip. It will be so interesting to see them there with Jason and Pam. And to see how Jason progresses. I love how you’ve given him some extra talents, and there is still Pam’s revenge for Sookie, and Sookie’s reaction to the ring….so much to look forward to. Please don’t make us wait too long! You’re the BEST!!

  28. Loved the chapter!!!! It’s been so long!! I loved Jason in this one, at least he helped instead of fucking shit up. And I DID get to see more od Michelle! I hope she turns out okay. Of course, I loved Eric! ’nuff said!!

    Can’t wait for the next chapter!

  29. I’m loving the idea of Jason and Pam hooking up, especially with Jason’s strong intuition. I wonder if Michelle is part fairy as well since she gets the same sense of the supes as Jason and Sookie. Sookie is hilarious with her ideas about how to deal with observation.

  30. Your stuff is outstanding ! Love ICB, but ecstatic over the Meanwhile update. This is the greatest Eric of all time. Can’t wait for more of anything you write !

  31. So I reread the story (shame, right) and I really can’t say how much I love this story. This was a great chapter. My greediness is warring with me – wait until you’re finished and then U get to read the whole thing – or wait between each wonderful chapter. I don’t think I would make it till you finished. This was a great chapter. I can’t tell you one thing I liked more than another. I was very excited to see the chapter update and I was no where near disappointed. Thank-you again for sharing this with us!

  32. well what can i possibly say that hasn’t been said in triplicate already :) I LOVE LOVE LOVE your work. Glad I was able to get to read it last night, it was such a great chapter. I really liked that Salome was willing to punish her progeny in front of a were. I think that tying in Paulette’s Job was genius, I am very interested in where the story goes from here, (will Sookie find a Telepath in Texas? will they have any misadventures while there?) I like how Jason is developing as well, and I feel for Sookie who has to ‘hear’ his escapades. I am truly enjoying all the pranks as well… Thanks for posting cant wait for more :)
    Marie

  33. Ok, I haven’t even gotten half way through this chapter yet but I just spat my oatmeal and spilt my cofffee on my lap thanks to you.

    I love the shit out of your Alcide and Jason. Thanks for the laugh…even if it was a messy one.

  34. I have been absolutely terrible about keeping up with your updates. Between writing my story and starting Saint and Sinners (God, that sh*t is addictive as hell), I have had much on my plate.

    Anyway, this was an amazing chapter and you can’t know how much I needed good writing, great plot and amazing Eric/Sookie chemistry after reading that pile of tripe that was Dead Reckoning. You writing is like an aged scotch mouthwash after eating rancid cheese. Sorry for the gross visual, but DR was a mess.

    OK, I’m off to catch up on the other chapters of Meanwhile and ICB. I also hope to finish S&S by the end of the week and I’ll post a review when I’ve completed the story.

    Much love to you, you’re beyond awesome.

  35. Would Lucy be Al Swerengen’s progeny?
    I howl so much while reading these chapters that I often forget to click on the pretty gold stars. A sin of omission…my intentions are good.

  36. Really loved this chapter. So many fun things going on. Alcide’s prank and rant on Sam. Jason surprising everyone, yet again. Michelle’s contract. Salome proving to the weres that not all Vamps are bad.

    Sookie is just awesome. Looking forward to the next chapter! Let’s see if she can impress Stan as much as she has everyone else.

  37. Sweet Pam and Jason hooking up :) I thought they would have in BTD… Nice to see more of Jason’s abilities in this story and really happy to see that Salome is really cool and not the typical scary bitch she is usually… Awesome writing!

  38. I have been around for a long time and reading has always been my hobby. I can’t begin to guess how many books I have read and enjoyed, some repeatedly, and now many FF’s, and I can honestly say you are as good of an author as I have read.

    I found my first FF story by accident and have been here ever since. I really admire your writing style. You say so much with few words and save your readers from all the boring details. I love it and I love your stories. Your E/S personalities exceed anyone elses interpretation and your imagination is amazing. I am so happy to have found you.

  39. I really wish they would record one of the blood exchanges like the other them thought about. It would be really interesting to find out what happens and maybe it could offer some insight about the breathing that Eric does – and anything else he might not be aware of. It seems like someone as in control as Eric would feel like he had to know where the lost time went.

  40. Sorry to have waited so long to review this chapter. It’s another stellar one. And so much happened!

    The sun-drenched shirt. Love that Sookie thought ahead and sealed it away so it would keep its sun-kissed goodness. She’s so thoughtful.

    Sookie’s prank on Pam was priceless. Can’t wait to see how Pam gets her back.

    Paulette finally agreed to become Eric’s full-time daywoman. It’s about stinkin’ time. She fits into the collection of talented people nicely. Her family will get all the perks, like the Land Rover, and Paulette’s brother gets a job. She shouldn’t have held out so long.

    Eric taking care of Jackson Herveaux. Not only does the deal protect Janice, it cements Eric’s relationship with Alcide. Definitely a nice touch. Alcide is another fabulous addition to the talented people collection. And I have two more words to say about him: French. Fries.

    Jason’s talent further manifesting itself. Loved how he was kicking himself about Rene. Like he’s supposed to be perfect or something. Yeah, that was a big miss, but c’mon,

    Sookie mediating between Salome and the local Weres. I loved that they actually started listening to her. And her finding out about Iris – not only did they save the girl’s life, Salome proved to Margaret just how fair and balanced she could be. And not just because she wanted something, but because it was the right thing to do.

    Sookie and Eric bleeping on the roof. Ah, young love … LOL So. Hot.

    And last but not least, Sookie shows her smarts again while Eric talks with Stan Davis. I want her brain. And her man. And her figure.

    You have again shown your brilliance as a writer and a storyteller in this chapter and I’m eager to read the next chapter, even though I’ve read it before. Your writing just draws me in. Thanks again for sharing it!

  41. OMG Eric laying down the law to Lucy – soooo powerful, soooo sexy. And he and Alcide having some man time. I love it, he’s in need of a man’s POV occasionally, especially when his two brats are being uber-girls.

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