No one else in the room had anything to say.
“Sookie, how are you sure he has Jason?”
A worried tear fell from the corner of her eye. “Because the servant is picturing him and he wouldn’t know what Jason looks like if he wasn’t here. Bill kidnapped my brother. How could he be so stupid? You told him that if he hurt one of us…”
She buried her face in my chest and Adele hugged my arm. “Majesty, I told Compton that if any harm came to Stackhouse life, limb or property, he’d regret it. After his little display most of Bon Temps was witness to the warning and order to leave my Area which he obviously ignored.”
“I see. I imagine that our business discussion won’t be waiting like I hoped… Hadley, take your grandmother and cousin to my chambers.” She motioned to Andre to get rid of Quinn and the donor.
Adele’s hands loosened from my arm slowly but she eventually followed Hadley…
Sookie wasn’t going to cooperate. Her second hand found its way to clamp onto my wrist. She was terrified.
“Eric, I can’t hear him.”
“You’re worried that Bill could have turned him.”
She nodded again, tears falling freely. “He wouldn’t have wanted it.”
“Adele spoke to him this morning to let him know you arrived safely. There hasn’t been time for it. He’s probably just out of your range. The building is full of people, vampires and other beings.”
She wasn’t feeling more assured in the least. Not distrustful, just skeptical.
“Majesty, would you permit Pam to join the ladies?” Hadley’s small ‘bubble’ might not be enough to help Sookie focus.
“Do you think she has nothing to offer our discussion?”
I turned to Pam, giving her a brief nod so that she could share what little she knew…
“Majesty, I didn’t witness the warning or his eviction. I was witness to a phone conversation between the Sheriff, Compton and Sookie several nights ago. He was insubordinate. He threatened his Sheriff that he’d go over his head to you and made demands. He tried to scare Sookie away from the Sheriff. He was endlessly annoyed that it didn’t work and pulled the door from the hinge when he left.”
“How did he attempt to scare Sookie?”
“Compton called him a monster and said that she wasn’t safe with him… while the Sheriff was actively protecting her from a human threat and still is. She didn’t buy it.”
“And he had plans to turn her? How did that plan reveal itself?”
I took over. “Sookie was closer to the situation and deduced that something was ‘off’. She said that since he was so aloof until I was part of the equation, it wasn’t adding up. He was late for his speaking engagement. Car trouble was his excuse, but he arrived fresh from having bathed. She suggested he might have been late because of his preparations to turn her. I sent underlings to check her suspicions. They found a fresh grave between his house and the meeting hall as well as the verification of dirt in his home.”
I pulled my phone out of my pocket and retrieved the photos Liam had thought to send. The grave. Malcolm and Dian in the grave, proving its scale. The muddy foot prints in Bills foyer. The mud slick in the bottom of his tub. The pile of filthy clothing he left behind…
Sophie-Ann’s fangs ran down, a showing she reserved for only the most contemptible conduct… “Do you know how he assumed he’d manage such a feat?”
I nodded. “He had demanded to see Sookie to confirm her well being the night before and then asked her for a ‘moment alone’ with her on the night of his speaking engagement. He didn’t know I would be accompanying the ladies to Bon Temps. He was clearly dissatisfied to see me there.”
“Did you instigate in any way?” She’s known me too long.
“No, Majesty. In spite of his leering, I was on task. The human threat was present and my priority that night was to protect them from him. It wasn’t until he started a scene in the parking area that I justified his behavior with a reaction. He grabbed Sookie’s arm.”
“As her Master you had the right to end him.”
I nodded. “I would have enjoyed nothing more, but there were too many witnesses. I secured Adele and Sookie in my vehicle, ejected him from my Area and ordered him to return to you since he informed me that he had been tasked by you.”
“Do we have a list of all the ways he ran aground in his assignment?”
“For starters, he could have reported back to you 4 days prior to my introduction. He was received at the Stackhouse residence with true bloods and smiles, just as I had been. Jason Stackhouse is the only family member with any trepidation of our kind and he is still anxious to reunite with Hadley.”
Sookie confirmed everything by giving a nervous nod.
Sophie-Ann nodded absently. “Insubordination. Conspiracy. Blackmail… He’s been having too much fun…” She turned to Sookie, surprisingly concerned. “… Sookie, go with Pam. We’ll make sure that your brother joins you shortly. Even if your family isn’t very special to Hadley, you have already proven that I should be quite invested in your contentment.”
Sookie didn’t let go of my hand until she had a tight grasp on Pam’s…
I was feeling nothing but Sookie’s fear and my own resentment as a result as we waited for Compton to be escorted to the throne room… Andre had gone to do the fetching. It would be Bill’s first hint that he’d fucked up.
The Berts quietly unsheathed their swords and waited in their usual stoic, alarm inspiring postures… hint number two
Even better, I was sitting next to the queen on her settee. I was going to get to see Compton’s ‘if vampires could shit’ face again. The fact alone would have made me smile, if it weren’t for Sookie’s angst throbbing in my chest.
“If you hadn’t needed to call about Compton’s interference, when would you have brought Sookie’s gift to my attention?” Right to the point…
“My plan was to call Flood this week and test Sookie with Weres. I’m surprised that she read Quinn so well since her boss is a shifter and is difficult for her. Once I was more sure about her abilities with the other breeds, my plan was to ask you when you wanted to meet her. Sookie and Hadley were laughing about it earlier… What their reaction would have been if they ran into each other under those circumstances.”
She raised an eyebrow, seemingly accepting my answer. “She’s quite a find. How did you stumble over her?”
“Compton brought her to Fangtasia. Her brother is a suspect in a double homicide in Bon Temps. Sookie was hoping to find someone who knew of other victims that might not have been bedded by Jason Stackhouse. Pam delivered her to my office because Compton didn’t bother announcing their purpose, his presence in my area or a need for an audience. I imagine he thought his task of feeling out the Stackhouses superseded his need to follow custom… After hearing the victims are Fangbangers, I decided to look into the situation rather than having to deal with the media fallout.”
“But you’ve learned who the killer is.”
“Sookie used herself as bait. She’s a waitress and I went to her bar to help her entice the man into thinking about something along the appropriate lines. It worked. Sookie saw his thoughts. As it turns out he’s followed victims home from Fangtasia, murdered and raped them including his sister. Jason had been with the two Bon Temps victims and then mentioned that they had markings to his coworkers. At the moment, we are in a holding pattern. The Shreveport PD is trying to get a warrant.” Sookie’s emotions were still chiseling at my subconscious.
“How did you get the police to take you seriously?”
“I lied. Humans don’t know any better so I gave Sookie an alias. Detective Coughlin now believes that a vampire named Dian Kingsley is a telepath. Sookie easily confirmed his thoughts as well as another officer and he was believing enough to be willing to verify what she told him. The two Bon Temps killings, one in Shreveport, one in Bossier City, and Cindy Lanier was listed as a Jane Doe in Area 2. All of them were killed in the same fashion.”
“What’s more, my accountant called about a sixty thousand dollar discrepancy in my books. Sookie sat in my office at Fangtasia and ruled out employees while I gave her a back rub…”
“You were giving her a back rub?” Snarky bitch.
“Physical contact helps her focus. She uses my lack of thoughts to help isolate others.”
“Hence the vice grip she had on your hand.”
I nodded, hoping to continue. “She went out to the bar and ‘flirted’ with Long Shadow and was able to get out of a waitress’s jealous thoughts that she was his unwilling accomplice. He was glamouring her to make deposits for him.”
“And what happened with Long Shadow?”
“When his theft was revealed he attacked Sookie. I was forced to act. He was ended, but I would have done it with or without his attack on Sookie.”
“Have you notified his maker?”
“Not as of yet. This only took place the night before last.”
“Don’t. I’ll have it handled. He attacked an asset of my monarchy while stealing from my Sheriff. If you notify Hot Rain, he could demand recompense. When I have Andre do it, he’ll offer an apology.”
“Thank you, majesty. You’re too kind.” Uh… wow. I’m not sure I could remember a time that she’d left me so shocked. She tended to be as predictable as Pam. I’m quite sure she was seeing my ‘if vampire could shit’ look.
“Kindness has nothing to do with it. Your pet is invaluable. She has limitless potential. This room is warded and her abilities reached past them. She can identify what and how many… I’m so impressed that I’m offering her family official protection in addition to your rights to protect them. Sookie is to be kept happy and it seems very clear that your being her master is part of that scenario. We have too much invested for you to have an angry maker distracting you.” Who is she and what did she do with the real Sophie-Ann?
“We have yet to discover what she didn’t want to mention in front of the others.” The marriage contacts, perhaps?
“I have an idea. We’ll get to that soon enough.”
That was definitely the real Sophie-Ann… completely unable to comprehend that anyone but her was capable of reading between the lines.
I’m sure the doors were opened for Bill so slowly for dramatic effect.
The knob noticed me as soon as he noticed the queen and balked before he took his first step.
It was like watching a funeral procession. It was beautiful.
Jason was clearly in a daze as he matched Bill step for step, directly behind him. That would explain why Sookie couldn’t hear him; Bill had glamoured him to keep him cooperative.
Instead of bowing for his queen, he glared at me… Addressing me first. I assume he figured he couldn’t be more fucked.
“It’s a long way to drive to be a tattle tale, don’t you think, Northman?”
I managed to smile tauntingly in spite of Sookie’s growing impatience while the queen answered. “It might have been if he wasn’t flown here in my personal plane on my invitation. You have some explaining to do.”
“I’m here to report back to you since Northman expelled me from his Area, preventing me from fulfilling my task for you.”
She sat forward, wearing an unfriendly smile. “Please, remind me. What was the task I gave you?”
“To make contact with the Stackhouse family and report back.”
“I don’t see how it is that Sheriff Northman prevented you from completing your task.”
“He has kept me from contacting Sookie and Adele.”
“Lie! You were given your invitation to enter their home and welcomed with a True Blood several days before Sookie was introduced to the Sheriff.”
“She was mine.”
She sat back and rolled her eyes in my direction. “I see what you mean… Bill Compton, explain how you came to the conclusion that she was yours.”
“She said she was mine in front of other vampires.”
Sophie-Ann gave me a look asking me to clarify.
“Three of my more annoying underlings (Malcolm, Dian and Liam) were calling on Bill Compton and were tempted to dine on Sookie. His claim on her was a protective charade. He’s only had traces of her blood from cleaning a wound and the only time she had his was when he reciprocated her efforts to save him from drainers. She was nearly killed when they retaliated.”
Compton was comically pissed that I knew the whole story. “How many times has she had your blood? You can hardly…”
I snarled as I interrupted him. “Twice. I intend to bond to her… While you intended to turn her against her will.”
Sophie-Ann started chuckling. “Back to the original point… Compton, you were sent to meet the Stackhouses. You met them and failed to report back to me. Is it because you intended to levy favor from me by bringing me a telepath?”
There it was. The face. If he could… He would have. Spectacular. Sookie was excellent for all sorts of entertainment. Compton never expected for me to share Sookie’s talent. His jaw dropped with his fangs as he realized exactly how completely fucked he was, and how many ways it was going to be done.
Everything he tried to say got stuck in his throat like a balloon in a baby seal. Another shining moment for Bill Compton.
Sophie-Ann and Andre were enjoying Bill’s reaction as much as I was and let it continue until he looked like he might actually have something coherent to say.
The queen made a motion with her hand, cueing Andre to lead Jason forward, inspiring panic from Compton.
“My, my, my, isn’t he pretty.”
I almost laughed, since pretty is almost his sum total. “Majesty, this is Jason Stackhouse.”
She smiled, not taking her eyes from him. “Compton. You’ve glamoured him?”
“I was ordered not to harm him by Northman…”
“SHERIFF Northman. Remove your influence…” Ooooh. She’d lost all humor for Bill if she was snapping corrections in defense of my position. “…Why did you bring him to me?”
“Because he was the only Stackhouse I was allowed access to since Northman refused me access to Adele and Sookie.”
“You no longer needed access to any of them. You were sent. You arrived. You met Sookie on your first night in Bon Temps by my accounts. Are you really this inept? Had you done your job, you would have left Bon Temps more than a week ago rather than lingering like a plague… I should have sent Bubba.”
I started laughing through my nose at the wounded look he gave her and I might have seen Andre smile.
It took a moment for Jason to become cognizant. Bill had seemingly kept him under glamour for the extent of their trip.
He looked irritated and befuddled at first, focusing on Andre who was closest, then Sophie-Ann… finally me….
The dolt smiled. “Where the fuck am I?”
Sophie-Ann gave me a nod, letting me explain. “Bill Compton was pissy that I gave him an order so he kidnapped you and brought you to New Orleans. Out of curiosity, would you mind checking yourself for fang marks?”
Just mentioning it made Bill hang his head. As I scanned the queen and Andre, I remembered the deluge of television programs and movies I’d seen and a childish voice echoed… ‘oooooh, you’re gonna get it…’
Jason gave me a confused look. “I’d remember getting bit!”
“Do you remember being in a car for 5 hours to get here? Give yourself a pat down. You’ll feel it.”
His first pat was his neck, as though we couldn’t have seen that, and then his chest. He winced instantly and pulled out the neck of his t-shirt. “MOTHER FUCKER!…” He looked up at me and then apologized to Sophie-Ann, I assume because she appeared to be too young to hear ‘the f-word’. She was amused.
He gave me a leery look as his hands patted down his hips and his lower legs. He gave me a semi-satisfied smile when he was ‘done’, shaking his head.
I ‘cleared my throat’ and nodded in the direction of the areas he glossed over. He looked like he was going to be ill as he ran his hands over his groin area, finding another tender spot on his inner thigh. He stopped. It was clear the poor bastard was afraid to find more. Andre became impatient and gave him a full ‘search’ with no discretion, finding yet another marking on the back of his shoulder. Jason didn’t care as much about the bite on his back as much as he was relieved there weren’t any on his ass.
Bill made an attempt to say something and thought better of it when the Berts each took a step towards him. So fucked.
Sophie-Ann gave me an expectant look. Finally.
I called Pam and she came through the doors of the queen’s apartment in an instant.
“I thought you’d never call. Sookie has one hell of a grip.”
“Pam, this is Jason Stackhouse. Could you take him to his family?”
She smirked at him, sizing him up. “Certainly… Follow me.”
“Pamela, hands off.” If I hadn’t warned her, Bill wouldn’t be the only vampire to get Jason’s pants off.
She moped, “Understood.”
Sophie-Ann smiled in my direction. “Loyal, but high maintenance?”
“Yes ma’am.” The statement was akin to calling Pol Pot ‘cranky’.
“I know the feeling. Hadley follows orders well, but sometimes…”
“You want to pull your hair out?”
“Pam likes to shop. I like for her to shop in Europe. A few times every year.”
She laughed. “I’ll have to keep that in mind… So… Compton failed my orders and disobeyed yours.” He’s fucked… Neener. Fucking. Neener.
“He intended to use his ‘new child’ for his own gain.”
“He fed on an unwilling human using glamour.” I felt a sudden surge of relief and Sookie’s panic was gone in an instant.
“It sounds as though we both have an axe to grind.”
I nodded. “Your axe is my axe, majesty.”
She smiled. She does love having her ass kissed. “When do you intend to return to your Area?”
“The ladies hoped to do some sightseeing and of course they’ll all be happy to stay and visit with Hadley. I planned on being here for a week.”
“Good. Then it’s settled. Andre will take care of this disobedience on my end and then you can take him home to take care of his debt to you until his maker can fetch him.”
I smiled, probably too wide. “Majesty is very generous.”
Andre licked his lips, his stare locked on Compton. “Don’t bet on that, Northman. There might not be much left for you to play with.” As much as the pompous prick rubbed me the wrong way, he was zealously protective of his maker and her interests. At least that much could be said for him.
I chuckled and sat back, enjoying the horrified look on Compton’s ugly mug. “I’m sure I can think of something to do with the scraps. Pam and I both have a healthy imagination.”
Bill tried to resist when Andre started leading him to the exit. It would have been pointless anyway since he’s 800 years Andre’s junior, but Sigebert and Wybert made their showing swiftly. Before Bill could correct himself from pushing himself off balance, there was cold, hard steel resting on his shoulders, biting into his neck. The word ‘don’t’ said in unison by the brothers was all it took to bring Compton’s reality crashing down on him. At their age and strength, a slight push on their parts would slice his head off too smoothly. Bill would feel his own head crash to the floor before he started to disintegrate.
It would make the trip completely worth it.
Sophie-Ann looked at me with raised eyebrows. “I thought I was going to be bored.” I wanted to laugh. So, it wasn’t just me.
“Sookie thinks that she’s ‘trouble’.”
“She’s right, but quite worth it. We’ll have to make sure to keep her encouraged. What sort of pay scale were you thinking?”
“I’m rewarding her on a sliding scale at the moment. She works for tips. I don’t think she’s got the slightest inkling of what she’s worth.”
“She’ll need to quit her human job.”
“That isn’t in the cards at the moment. Right now she’s suffering a certain amount of shock. Being out of circulation at my home has left her raw. Her shields are suffering for it. She needs to be around humans in bulk to be able to maintain them. I can negotiate with her boss to provide a stand in when she’s called away. I don’t believe working at Fangtasia will be beneficial for her morale either.”
“Sensible… $50,000 retainer to give me priority-one and $5,000 per day plus expenses and travel.” A feather. That’s all it would have taken to knock me on my ass.
“Double pay for bank holidays. An expense account for appropriate attire. Non-exclusivity clause to allow her to contract out as you see fit including the other Louisiana sheriffs.”
“Contract specific to her telepathy and union hours (she’ll be useless without rest). Her expenses to cover a Were guard of my choice for daytime while working. Vampire scale for any injury she might receive.”
“A bargain at twice the price.” She wasn’t exaggerating in the least. My ‘loyalty’ to Louisiana was giving her one hell of a deal, but I still didn’t expect Sookie’s pay to not come out of my pocket.
“You’ll have the papers ready before we leave for Shreveport?”
She nodded. “I suppose we should finish so that you can take them home.”
When Pam escorted Sookie back into the throne room, she startled the Berts by walking towards me too quickly. They settled down again once Sookie and I were on the sofa across from Sophie-Ann’s.
Andre took my former seat since we were being more casual.
The queen grinned at Sookie. “Hadley is excited to see Jason. Their reunion is going well?”
“Yes ma’am. Happy tears everywhere. They were always close growing up, same age and all.”
“Compton’s many infractions are being dealt with.”
Sookie giggled and nodded towards Andre. “What about his infractions? Jason says he copped a feel.”
Andre wasn’t amused, but the rest of us were. She was still smiling when she turned to business. The queen might be as impressed with Sookie as I am. “You said that there was another matter.”
“I don’t want to speak out of turn, but is this private?”
“Most certainly. I trust these three with everything. They are loyal to a fault.”
Sookie nodded, cleared her throat, straightened her dress. “Ok… Uh… I might not be able to tell who, but one of the men working in the next room… There’s no point in negotiating the marriage contract because you’ll be dead within a year of marrying Threadgill anyway…” Oh hell.
Andre was on his feet and pacing erratically without warning. He didn’t say anything. He just paced.
“…It could have been one of your own lawyers being paranoid, but the tone was more taunting than worried. There was another that thought that you’re an idiot to marry him since you aren’t gaining a damn thing that you couldn’t get on your own. That thought was pretty snarky too…”
Sophie-Ann stared at her as though Sookie slapped her.
Sookie’s nerves started coming back to her in a wash. “…If you want me too, I don’t know, go in and offer refreshments to try and get a bead on the voices…”
Sophie-Ann waved her hand dismissively. “I only have one lawyer in the room and he was the one you can’t identify. A Daemon, by the way.”
Sookie quickly shook off the bombshell of ‘daemon’ and grimaced in the direction of her knees. “The marriage is for political reasons.” Listening to the meeting again.
The queen nodded.
“Without a ‘mate’ you seem easier to overthrow because picking you off would be easier than taking both of you out.”
Sophie-Ann nodded again.
“You don’t need the money, Arkansas does. He wants the clout you have to offer.”
Another royal nod and Andre’s pacing sped up and spread out.
The room became completely silent for what seemed like forever.
Sookie took my hand, not squeezing, not even much of a hold for that matter.
Sookie cleared her throat. “Uh, I really don’t want to overstep…”
Sophie-Ann shook her head. “No, we’ll listen.”
“Um… since it’s for political security… and you’re about the same age and strength and you trust him anyway… why not marry Andre and make him your King?”
Andre stopped pacing and seemed like he was about to insult her.
“I’m sorry. I just… I met my first vampire two weeks ago. I’m new to all this. I’ll shut up.”
“It’s brilliant…” It was almost a whisper, but Sophie-Ann looked like Adele had when I told her about Bubba. She was astonished as she turned to Andre. “I can’t think of anyone who’d protect my interests more.”
Andre stared back at his queen and maker in complete wonder. “You’re serious?”
The queen stood so quickly that it startled Sookie. “Thank you, Sookie. You’ve given me much to consider. Sheriff, I’m sure your party would feel more comfortable in less formal surroundings. I’ll let you take your leave.”
Sookie was practically despondent as we were chauffeured back to my house. Her idiot brother bounced around in the back of the car playing with every button and lever until we arrived.
Without a word Sookie pouted her way up the stairs and into our… my room.
She flopped back on the bed, covering her face with her hands. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to… Andre looked so pissed.”
I sat next to her, removing her shoes and resting next to her. “You managed to shock him, but I don’t think he was upset. They were both very impressed with your idea. It’s solid. It would resolve her predicament. For a moment, I was concerned that you were going to suggest me.”
She shook her head. “Nope. Not interested in sharing you… You sure you’re not upset. I feel like I put my foot in my mouth.”
“No, Sookie. You have no idea how impressed with you she is.”
“Will it make me feel better?”
I was smiling when I pulled her hands away from her face. “She’s having a contract drawn up for your services. She’s offering you a sizable retainer so that she gets priority over anyone else and per diem.”
“What’s sizable? Per diem?”
“Fifty thousand. Per diem is a daily rate. Five thousand plus travel expenses and extras.”
I’d never seen her eyes so wide. “SHUT UP!”
“I’m pretty sure that I’ve already told you how lucrative your ability could be.”
“That’s not fair! That’s too much! Last year I made 22… all year!”
I chuckled. “I was smart and invested early.” I got her for the nightly rate of a backrub.
She giggled, rolling into my chest. “Did you expect that much?”
“No. I had to pretend to not be stunned. Technically, since you are mine and I already work for her I expected to be negotiating your working conditions, not your rate… You’ll be making more when you contract out though. If someone else contacts me to use your services, your daily rate will be higher.”
“That’s just greedy. I don’t know if I could…”
“Sookie, no one would be forcing them to hire you. And you aren’t locked in to a rate so you can still work pro bono as you like such as what you’re doing for your brother. Think about it though… After all the years Adele took care of you, you can return the favor.”
Her chin puckered and her eyes misted over. “That would be nice… I could buy her a new mattress. She hasn’t had a new one as long as I’ve lived with her.” She’s about to deposit 2 years worth of wages into her bank account at once and she’s looking forward to spending $800 on someone else. Altruistic, along with everything else about her…
“And I explained to the queen that I wasn’t requiring you to quit waiting tables, but we should find a couple waitresses that could cross over from Fangtasia to fill in for you with Sam when you need to travel.” I figured I’d get this out of the way now.
“That would be a long way for them to drive wouldn’t it? And a serious pay cut. Most of your waitresses make 3 times what I do in a shift.”
“I would subsidize them so they wouldn’t be losing money.”
“No. I’ll do that… You’ll be with me, right? I won’t have to go alone.”
“I’ll be with you. It’s a given because you’re mine.”
She sighed a heavy breath into my chest. “So you think things went well tonight?”
“Very well, Sookie. You managed to impress 4500 years of vampire tonight. You are magnificent.”
“What’s going to happen to Bill? You know he fed on Jason, right?”
“Bill is going to be quite uncomfortable until he is turned over to me… Then I’m going to embarrass him until he wants to strap himself to a tree and wait for dawn… then his maker will continue his lesson.”
“You’re not going to hurt him?”
“Andre will be doing plenty of that for the way he defied the queen. My plans are less painful, but far more entertaining.”
“Do I want to know?”
“No, but you’ll get a laugh. I promise you that.”
I left her to rest. After she’d been reassured that she hadn’t ‘bombed’ all that was left was exhaustion.
I found the family in Adele’s room, their smiles seemed to diminish when Hadley opened the door for me… all of them concerned for Sookie.
“Is she okay? Is something wrong? We got hustled out of there so fast…” Hadley’s rapid fire questions were so human it made me wonder if she had gained any vampire mannerisms to go with the condition.
“Sookie is fine. She’s simply worn out. It’s safe to say that they’re all very impressed with her.”
I gave her a level glare. She’d learned nothing of disclosure either. “She was able to inform the queen about some things that need to be tended to.”
She seemed to finally catch on to the fact that some things didn’t need to be shared with the whole family. Thankfully…
“You’re welcome to stay the day again. Same conditions apply… Jason, the couches in the den and study are yours for the taking. I’ll need your insurance card though, to give you a reason to miss work.”
His usually puzzled demeanor became exaggerated as he stood up and fished his wallet out of his back pocket. “Wow, thanks. What are you going to do?”
“You’re in a hospital bed unconscious after a car accident. You were on your way to visit a friend in Baton Rouge. Turn off your phone while you’re here so that you aren’t tempted to answer it. I’ll have your employer notified.”
He smiled at me. “Damn. You’re good. I coulda used alibis like that all along. Thanks, man.” As though I was doing it for him. At least he was appreciative.
“You’re welcome… I’m going to leave a list for Paulette on the kitchen counter. If anyone needs anything, just add to it. Jason, I’m sure you’ll need clothing since you didn’t get to pack… Adele, make sure you find something for us to do tomorrow night. I doubt we’ll be required by the queen.”
She smiled brightly and nodded. “Absolutely. I already have a short list from talking to Paulette today.”
“No more fairs?”
She laughed. “Not so soon.”
I chuckled at her. “Good enough. Goodnight all.”
Pam was sulking at the kitchen table with a true blood in hand.
“We were shooed out before I got to feed. Is there anything we need to worry about?”
I thought about that for a moment. “Andre is torturing Bill to within an inch of his sanity and then turning him over to me so that I can play. The queen offered a 50 grand retainer and the most generous contract I’ve ever heard of for a pet before Sookie overheard from one of the Arkansas lawyers that Threadgill intends to assassinate the queen once they marry to take over the state so Sookie made the recommendation that Sophie-Ann marry Andre to keep it in the family, as it were. We were run off so that they didn’t have to hide how excited they were over the idea.”
“Close your mouth.” I pulled a notebook and a pen out of a drawer and sat down next to her to start Paulette’s list.
“You didn’t even know she was that good did you?”
“No. We hadn’t had the chance to test her yet. I had an idea after Long Shadow. I think she surprised herself.”
“Quinn’s thoughts were a bolt from the blue.”
I nodded. “Proximity? My blood? We can’t be sure.”
“So we’re feeling good about tonight?”
“Yes, I think we are. Time will tell though if my pet is going to end up being Sophie-Ann’s favorite new toy.”
She nodded. “I still think you love her.”
“I still think you want to see if I’ll hit you.”
“Damn, Eric! What would it hurt to admit it?” I’m going to glue her hands into her hair.
“Damn, Pam! What would it hurt for you to fucking drop it?”
“Fine. I think she’s good for you.”
I growled at her, not understanding where the fuck I went wrong that she doesn’t know when to shut up.
“Will you admit that you care for her?”
“If it will shut you up, yes. I fucking care for her.”
She smiled wide enough that I was sure I could put my foot into it. “Thank you.”
She laughed. “Getting halfway there… You aren’t a lost cause after all.”
“Pam, go away.”
“I was here first.”
“You didn’t used to mind having me around.” She hadn’t made a single gesture of leaving.
“You didn’t used to pester me.”
She finally got up to leave, pushing her chair in. “You didn’t used to make it so much fun.”
I actually pulled my hand back to practice my backhand, but she had the sense to get out while she could still walk.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that I’ve collected more company. Sookie’s brother is an accidental tourist and came completely unprepared for a visit. He’ll need a few days worth of clothing and toiletries. He’ll need formal wear as well so if you could do your best to have a tailor come to the house for a rush job, it would be most appreciated.
Adele will more than likely need some help making reservations for her tourist choice for the evening. I’m sure she would like to be able to take photos to show to her friends at home so I’d be grateful if you could find a user friendly camera for her.
Just in case I forgot to mention it, you did a remarkable job getting the house together so quickly. The Stackhouse ladies have had nothing but good things to say about you and I wanted to remind you that I’m prepared to offer whatever is necessary to encourage you to relocate to Shreveport. It’s only fair since you make your equivalent there look like a bigger idiot every time I visit New Orleans.
The phone call to arrange Jason’s ‘injury’ was simple. It was a call I’d made before and would make many more times over. It was a standard service that was eagerly offered by most night shift nurses because it was well rewarded.
Well before dawn and nothing more on my mind, I returned to my room to find Sookie tossing around in her sleep. Her mood wasn’t troubled as though she was having bad dreams. She simply seemed uncomfortable.
I did my best to slip into bed unnoticed, knowing how worn-out she’d been after her long night.
No sooner than my head touched the pillow next to her, she turned again. This time suddenly, if not violently, to me. Her movement seemed automatic as her leg curled over my thigh and her arm went across my ribs… As though she’d been waiting for me.
It almost didn’t occur to me… but it felt like I’d been waiting for it too…
“Are you uncomfortable?”
She hummed deeply. “Not anymore. I missed you.” She missed me? I’d been gone less than an hour.
I pulled my arm up to wrap it around her shoulder and kissed her forehead. “Goodnight.”
“Night, Eric. Love you.”
I didn’t bother questioning it this time.
I felt it. Appreciated it… Enjoyed it.
Instead of dealing with it, I thought of something else to do…
Is a fucking status report too much to ask for?
You’re paid too well to ignore my messages. I know where you live.