Let It Be
She… She agreed?
Sookie agreed to being turned. Granted, her only reason at the moment was that she wouldn’t want Adele to suffer interring yet another of her loved ones, but it was a leap in the direction of having Sookie forever.
But I had more than a few questions. For instance, she mentioned that she was starting to think about it on her own… That ‘it’ might not be ‘so bad’…
‘It’ has a tendency to not only be that bad, but tedious… Until a few nights ago when she graced my existence with her fun, her laughter… and all the life that came with it.
…The idea had been dancing around in that pretty little head of hers… She’d been questioning the concept of existing as a vampire.
She’d been entertaining forever as a possibility.
More questions though… Had she started thinking about being made a vampire because of Compton’s plotting or was she considering being mine, my child?
I can’t say that it mattered.
My overwhelming urge to celebrate the small victory made me question more than her reasons…
I hadn’t given Pam the choice. I hadn’t even introduced myself to her. The technicality of it was that the first time she laid eyes on me was the night she first rose as a vampire… So why the fuck did it matter to me if Sookie wanted to be made or not?
Pam has always been defiant and unorthodox. Had I asked, given her the option, the impertinent little wretch probably would have tried to stake me, but after she’d calmed down (her first meal was the only reason for any sensibility) she became excited at the idea of the freedoms vampirism offers… Especially given the pedestrian social constraints of her life at the time. Her father had arranged a marriage for her that she was in the process of rebelling against when I first noticed her.
The simplest of things made her more than happy to be free of her life. Specifically that she wouldn’t be living in the quiet (dull) Lake District any longer… Even dying for the day was (in her eyes) a fair trade for nightlife and moving to a city with possibility as her only possession.
When it came to the topic of Sookie though, she’d be sacrificing more than a few things to become a vampire…
…Tanning, Adele’s cooking… possibly the little bit of mental peace she gets. If Vampirism heightens her telepathy, she may only be happy as a hermit… as social as she seems to be… I couldn’t imagine what the adjustment would do to her.
Even if she were to grow to want vampirism outside of its current designation as her ‘back up plan’, life support, if you will…
Making her would cost me her warmth, her scent, her taste…
While turning her tonight, every night since I first laid eyes on her for that matter, was tickling at my consciousness… I’d be lying to say that I wanted it now.
If I’m right, if she is Fae in some part, she could easily hold onto her youth, especially with my blood… I might be able to selfishly hold off for a couple of decades before wanting to push the topic…
Certainly by then, we would have had to lay Adele to rest… by then her decision would be based on a forever with me as opposed to not wanting to upset her grandmother.
I’d come full circle.
This wasn’t a situation that I could have prepared myself for. This tiny thing, snuggled up to my side, on the way to further secure the safety of the queen had turned me inside out.
“You aren’t upset with me are you? Because I don’t know…”
“Of course not. It’s a big decision. I wouldn’t want you to regret it.”
“Does that happen a lot?”
“I couldn’t say. I don’t care enough to ask.”
“Then why do you care if I regret it?”
“That would be a question I’ve been trying to answer for a while now.”
“You don’t usually care, so why do you care about me?”
“Generally speaking, yes.”
“You don’t have to, you know.”
“Have to what?”
“You don’t have to answer it. Sometimes things just are. Sometimes stuff happens that just can’t get explained. If you think about it, we’re both freaks. I know it might not seem like a long time to you, but I’ve been trying to figure out why I can read minds for my whole life. Even if I found out why I can read minds while my brother can barely access his own, it wouldn’t change that it just is. You were human once, and then you woke up one night and you weren’t anymore. You can wonder about the ‘how’ all you want, but it just is.”
“Is it really that simple?”
“No. It’s just what Gran told me when I talked to her about you. It made enough sense that I keep repeating it to myself so I don’t get an ulcer.”
“Adele is an astute woman. Perhaps we should listen to her.”
She sighed, “I usually do.”
“What were you talking to her about?”
“I couldn’t figure out why I was so pissed about going back to Bon Temps.”
“So she told you ‘it just is’?”
“No. First, she tried to tell me that it was because I want to stay in Shreveport so she can keep using you for your library.”
I had to laugh. “She’s priceless!”
“You don’t have to tell me that… then she told me the other.”
“And then you calmed down.”
“No. Then I gave her a look that got me popped so she told me to stop being a turd and if I had to have a reason, it was because I had already settled on the idea of being alone because of what I am… That I’d closed myself off so that it wouldn’t get to me so I was having a hard time accepting that we’re good together.”
…And it took the insight of a woman one thirteenth of my age and experience to break the surface tension on some of my own speculation. It all translated too easily to my own circumstances. I had to question if she might have had the double meaning in mind all along.
“And then she told me that if I push you away by being pig-headed I’d get the belt.”
I started laughing again. “I was asking how you felt about her point of view.”
“That she’s a pain in my butt.”
“I hate how easy it is for her to figure it all out.”
“No you don’t. You wouldn’t go to her if you didn’t truly appreciate it.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re trying to think of what to buy her.” That wasn’t the point.
I chuckled at her. “So?”
She smiled up at me. “She hit the damn nail on the head. Happy now?” More than she realized.
“I think the more appropriate adage would be ‘killing two birds with one stone’.”
I nodded. “She got us both without trying.”
When we walked through the door we were greeted by Andre and the Berts.
Andre snarled at Sookie the moment he laid eyes on her. “You’re not funny.”
She started laughing. “Oh lord! Are you afraid that your face will crack if you smile?”
I didn’t have to ask. Andre immediately tossed a gift box to me… I eyed Sookie as I opened it… the little box contained a pill bottle and a note…
“Crescent City Steakhouse
1001 North Broad Street
This should fix you up.
The Berts were pleased in their own rights, so I didn’t bother to hide how damn funny it was to me either. “Sookie? Pamprin PMS?”
She beamed up at me. “The pharmacy was out of Pamprin Max. He might need to double up.”
The Berts turned around, trying to hide their laughing as Andre’s face only contorted more… “Sookie, apologize.”
She pouted her lip out and turned to Andre. “I’m sorry. Since you obviously have no sense of humor, I won’t ever try to make you laugh again.” That wasn’t what I had in mind.
“Fine… “ He looked at me. “…The queen sends her apologies. We’ve had an interesting evening already. She asks a favor of you. In the interest of time, would it be acceptable to offer the Berts as Sookie’s escort for her task while we discuss yours?”
I looked to Sookie.
She shrugged. “I can give it a try…” She let go of my hand and reached out for the Berts’.
With a firm grasp on them both, her eyes closed for a moment.
She finally opened them with a slight grin. “It’s not as good, but it’ll work if you’re okay with it.”
I can’t say that I wasn’t surprised. 1600 years of vampire should be more than enough to help her focus… unless it was having my blood that made the difference.
I gave her a nod and they started on their way.
Andre only let them get about 50 feet away before he opened his surly mouth to start his explanation of my task.
I held up a finger. “If this is confidential, you’re premature. She’s had my blood in quantity. She’ll hear you.”
“That would explain how she was conscious of the need to write down the information regarding the vampire conspirator.”
“How was your evening after you left? I assume you’ve been with a few of the donors.” Prick. He was actually hoping that the discovery would have caused some friction between Sookie and I.
“3. She didn’t say anything. She knows better.” I was implying that she knew better than to challenge me, but that she’d know better than to feel threatened by fangbangers was my actual meaning.
Sookie looked over her shoulder. “It was 4 and yes sir, I do.”
Andre offered an impressed nod. “She heels nicely for such a new pet.”
“How do you handle discipline?”
I almost laughed at the idea. “A belt.” Even if she heard the answer from around the corner they’d just turned she’d know I was only joking. And sure enough, I felt her amusement.
Andre nodded and a few seconds later raised his eyebrows impatiently.
I tested her hearing by quietly saying her name and she replied with a ‘yes master?’. “Perhaps somewhere more secure then?”
He gave me an annoyed look before he turned and started leading me down the hall.
As soon as the elevator doors closed, he punched the stop button. “The queen is not happy.” His tone seemed accusatory.
“Waldo. He came to the palace last night to comfort the queen having felt her mood. He was very surprised to see Hadley so well.”
“And where do I come in?”
“The queen can’t bring herself to… She knows it needs to be done… She doesn’t want it to be one of us. Because your child and pet would have been collateral damage, you’re within your rights.”
“I’m being asked to end one of her children?”
“She trusts you to do it quickly to spare her. She’s prepared to offer you ‘anything’ in return.”
“You’ve gotten information from him?”
“He’s admitted his part.”
“His association with Arkansas?”
“No, but the queen can’t tolerate the methods we’d need to use… She’s confident that Sookie will be able to make up for what we can’t get from him.”
“To be clear, I’m being asked, not ordered, to end Waldo and be free from repercussions?”
He nodded. “Name your price.”
“Lead the way.”
He nodded again and pressed the button to start the elevator again. “Your price?”
“To be named later.” Allowing me to end Waldo myself was favor enough, but they didn’t need to know that…
He remained quiet for a moment and finally broke his gaze on the door. “Acceptable.” Showing his cards…
It was something I’d most likely dismissed dozens, if not hundreds, of times over the years as deliberation or reflection, but knowing Sookie’s suspicions… he showed his hand in regards to his vacant stare… a ‘blank check’ favor wasn’t something he’d give without Sophie-Ann’s consent… A situation has to be dire for any vampire to agree to a payment of such ambiguity.
Sookie had done it again…
She’d impressed me.
Two levels down and a maze of hallways later, a ridiculous set of stone doors were pushed open for us by 2 of the six armed guards…
Concrete walls, dimly lit, the sound of water dripping along with occasional whimpers and moans…
“A dungeon? Seriously Andre, could you be more cliché?”
“It provides a certain ambiance. Don’t you think?”
“All it does is prove that you’re uninspired.”
He scoffed. “Pray tell, what do you use?”
“It all depends on what I need… a dental office, a dry cleaner, a day spa… various construction sites. They all have something special to offer… What’s come of the planted donors?”
“The last 3 are waiting for an unfortunate car accident. Most of them were kept uninformed as to the plot, only knowing their parts.”
At the end of another amusingly dank hall there was an inspired wall of silver fencing… chicken wire. As a pair of daemons opened the gate for us, I actually asked about the manufacturer.
I removed my shirt and borrowed a sword from one of the guards, somehow, over the scent of blood and human waste, another aroma reached me… Something fruity…
I started laughing. “Andre, do I smell bananas?”
He nodded with an eerie smile. “They arrived for Compton the night he did. I’ve been taking advantage of them.”
How fucking perfect.
Knowing Andre, knowing what he was best at… Bill had most likely only been fed cold, spoiled blood (most likely from an animal)… and then forced to eat bananas… the violent retching and pains from eating food would be more than enough torture. I know. I’d done it… And that’s only taking into account how Bill would react to them being put into his mouth.
The large open area that contained Waldo, just so happened to contain… my little ‘friend’…
While Waldo’s albino ass was humanely restrained with leather to buffer his skin from the silver chains….
Bill wasn’t quite as lucky.
The knob was dangling from the ceiling nude, only supported by the single silver lanyard around his neck. The front of his body was stained with his own bloody ‘vomit’ and small chunks of banana…
Waldo had a moment of panic, but his concern diminished when he realized that Bill started kicking and grasping at his noose in a sad little attempt to free himself.
I suppose that this is what humans mean when they mention a ‘Christmas in July’ feeling…
“Hello Bill. Nice to see you.” Considering how hard I was with the temptation of a ‘two for one’, it was a colossal understatement.
“What are you doing here?”
“Just saying ‘hi’.”
“You aren’t… it’s not your turn!”
I looked back at Andre, laughing. “Do you have a bat? He’s just hanging there like a piñata. If I hit him, I bet bananas will fall out.”
Andre smiled and nodded to the far wall where there was an iron rod. “No less than 5.”
I rested the sword against the wall to grab the club. “If I keep my eyes closed, will you swing him around to make it more fun?”
“Only if I get a turn.”
I gave him a nod and if I didn’t know better, he was excited as he started taking off his own shirt… and Bill started kicking so fiercely that he was close to taking his own head off.
I only missed once out of the ten swings I took. Not a bad batting average…
Andre was having more fun than I had, occasionally holding the rod out so that Bill’s velocity could do the work of skewering Bill for him…
While Waldo was preoccupied with Bill’s misfortune, and Andre was winding up for his last swing, I took the opportunity…
When we entered the room together, Waldo spent a moment believing that we were there for him, but when our attention turned to Bill he relaxed.
Feeling a reprieve from what he thought was a pass as I had fun test driving my new toy, Waldo never saw it coming.
Neither did Andre.
When he suddenly looked over to see the disintegrating remains of his ‘brother’, Andre might have actually seemed grateful.
On his way over, he kicked a couple of ‘ejected’ bananas out of his path. “The queen will be grateful, I am sure. She’s feeling quite relieved that he didn’t suffer.”
“She’s the only reason he didn’t. If Pam had betrayed me in the same way, I’d have endured the pain to do the job myself. Has she decided when to marry?”
He nodded, not taking his eyes from Waldo’s remains. “Next month.”
“Then her king will have to make sure her generosity is closely guarded.” Anyone to learn of that Achilles heel could use it against her.
“It seems he’ll have an ally on that front.”
I nodded, knowing that her softness for her children does make her weak… putting us all in jeopardy even if it is her only vulnerability. “Whatever service I can provide.”
Bill grunted and snarled, getting our attention finally. He’d gotten past his pain enough to bare his fangs… Angry enough to be hard. Stupid enough to be burning his hands on the silver rope around his neck.
He choked out, “You’ll pay for this. I’ll tell Sookie what you did.”
I laughed at him. “That I beat the bananas out of you or that I ended the vampire responsible for nearly killing her friends?”
“It’ll be old news by the time you get to her, but feel free to snivel.”
I walked over to him, picking up one of his bananas on the way.
“She isn’t as blind as you believe her to be.”
“She doesn’t know what you’re really like. She’d never be with you.”
“As opposed to being with you? The vampire that planned to turn her against her will?”
“I still could.”
I was about to run the sword through him, when Andre took it from my hand and interrupted. “If you were to do that, she’d be free of you when she first rises. Sookie Stackhouse has the formal protection of the queen. She officially belongs to Northman. If any vampire turns her without his consent, they will be subject to final punishment.”
“Formal?…” That was all he managed to get out of his gaping mouth before I shoved the banana in…
…And walked out.
When Andre and I came out of the elevator, Sookie was waiting on a bench with Hadley between the Berts. Her inquisitive grin quickly diminished as I got closer. Perhaps she smelled the blood that had gotten on my pants during batting practice.
The ride back to the house was a quiet one. I could feel the swell of curiosity building for Sookie, but she still wrapped herself around my arm in spite of her uncertainty. Her eyes remained focused on the dark speckles on the leg of my pants.
Hadley seemed just as focused, only her gaze was locked on the crystal tumblers rattling in the bar. Her solemn mood was no doubt caused by her maker’s bereavement.
My mouth remained closed, the lack of conversation allowed me to hide that I was still incensed enough with Compton’s threat that my fangs were down…
As soon as we walked through the door, Sookie leaned into the kitchen to announce that we were going to change, and that we’d be down soon…
No sooner than the door was closed… “That’s Bill’s blood. Is he dead?”
“No more than he was the last time you saw him.”
She nodded and paused a moment before she reached up and pressed her lips against mine… her body followed suit, leaning against me.
When her mouth left mine to tease down my neck as she unbuttoned my shirt, I had to ask… “Not that I’m complaining…?”
“If you remember, you were the one to put me off earlier… Now, I’m taking advantage of how spun up you are.”
Once my shirt was out of her way, she started dragging her teeth over my chest, opening my belt… pushing my pants down. “We need to talk.”
“Can’t we do that while we’re getting dressed?”
I thought about our time limits… I thought about them for all of 3 seconds before her hand slid down my cock and gave a squeeze that made me come undone…
Her attention only left me for a moment to eye the shreds of her dress lying on the floor. She giggled with a sinister grin, “Impressive. But you missed something.”
I took the dare and just as easily relieved her of her bra and panties and scooped her up to take her to the shower while she was still blessing me with her excited smile… and impish mood.
And while she was bent over to turn the water on, I lost my patience… Watching her shower earlier… the temptation to kill Compton… ending Waldo…
I wanted it.
I took it.
All of my ‘control’, every bit I had, was lost in an instant.
She held herself up, one arm snaked behind my neck, one foot on the side of the tub, lifting her … Meeting me at the perfect height and pushing back to take me in…
I reached around, finding her clit, just to push her…
Her moaning and gasping erupted into a loud, pained whine that echoed through me until I cut it off by putting my hand over her mouth…
And the closer she got, the harder it became for me to resist…
Her nails digging into my neck…
Her pulse was hammering through her veins…
Resisting, wanting wait…
Until she took the second to sweep her hair away from her shoulder… Inviting me…
My fangs pushed in and she released a long, low moan that resonated through her body…
Clutching me as she came…
Taking in her blood, her life… sweet and pure… letting it fill me, sooth me…
Satisfying more than just hunger or lust…
Making me wish there was more…
Knowing she’d give more than she could afford.
I had to force myself to stop.
I had to regain some control…
I had to force myself to finish…
I pushed her over, wrapping one arm around her waist to lift her and driving into her until she started gasping, begging me to come…
As soon as her feet were under her again she leaned into the wall, trying to catch her breath and finally leaning into me. She giggled against my chest, “That’s better.”
“You’re cooler than the tile.”
“And that’s a good thing?”
She hummed, pressing her cheeks against my chest in turn. “Definitely. Especially right now. All the blood I have left is in my face.”
I chuckled at her and quickly healed her marking. “Feeling better?”
“Absolutely. You less wound up now?”
“I’m certainly cured of my foul mood.” Most of it. Compton still needed to be ended with extreme prejudice…
She stepped back and smiled up at me as she pushed the water through her hair briskly. “Good. You’re sexier when you smile.”
“Oh really?” I watched as she washed herself quickly.
“Yes, really. It’s your own fault you have all those fangbangers sniveling at your feet, you know?”
“What makes you think that?”
She kissed me with a grin and stepped out of the tub without a word.
“I just needed to get out of there before your ego took up the whole damn room.”
I chuckled, stepping under the water. “I’m not that bad.”
“Oh yeah, you are… Hey, should I call Pam so you don’t need to repeat yourself? She’s going to be curious.” Those two were going to end up closer than I thought…
“Don’t you want us to dress first?”
She teased, “Shyness among vampires?”
“Go ahead then, brat.”
While I sped through the functional part of my shower, I heard Sookie call down to ask Pam for a braid they’d discussed…
The very idea that she thought so well on her feet was impressive. She certainly would make a good vampire… eventually.
When I came out of the shower, Sookie was wearing a pair of her short shorts and a clingy pink t-shirt and Pam was on her knees on the bed behind her, pulling Sookie’s hair back into an intricate braid… Like sisters might behave.
They both looked up at me expectantly.
Sookie grinned as she started, “I’ll go first because it’s quick and what’s left can be for later. 11. I found 11 spies. Only two were Arkansas though. The rest were Fellowship. A couple from Dallas, a couple from Shreveport, so it’s everybody’s problem… Now how did Bill’s blood and the smell of banana end up on your pants?” Right to the point.
“How do you know its Bill’s?”
She shrugged. “I’ve had his blood. I can feel it.”
“I don’t know how. I’m just assuming. It smells like normal vampire blood to me. But it was creepy. When you got off the elevator, I thought he’d be behind you.” That was interesting enough to want to explore it more later.
“I was asked to end Waldo.”
They gasped and only followed the noise with a shocked expressions. They were waiting for more.
“The queen couldn’t bring herself to do it, so when Andre took me to him and he was confined with Bill, I abused Bill for a while before I ended Waldo.”
Sookie seemed puzzled. “Why? You said you wouldn’t hurt him.” Pam was (for once) staying quiet, but her sense of justice was evident, as was her gratitude.
“I hit him quite a few times, but the blood is from what Andre did and you don’t want to know about the bananas… Waldo felt safe in that we weren’t there for him, so he never had the chance to be fearful. It was fast.”
“You took part in Bill’s torture to spare the queen the pain of feeling her child’s panic at the end.”
“Yes, but I’d be lying to say that I didn’t enjoy every hit.”
She nodded slowly. “So you got to end the vampire that was responsible for your child’s injuries and beat up the one that planned to turn me right under your nose.”
I nodded. “And was given a favor in return.”
“I haven’t decided yet. I’d have done it without the promise, but by asking to save it for later I may have confirmed your suspicions. I believe that Andre discussed the favor’s uncertainty with the queen telepathically.”
She beamed, full of satisfaction. Duly prideful. “You beat up the knob. You killed our attacker. You got an open ended favor. You discovered the queen’s secret… You shouldn’t have seemed so angry.”
“Unfortunately, I didn’t think to silence Compton.”
“He riled you up?”
“He said that he could still turn you.”
She huffed. “You’re the only one that could get away with that.” Pam’s mouth fell open, but she wisely remained silent.
“Sookie, if he got to you he’d get away with it.” And keep her from her family to punish her for his list of mistakes… He’d keep her from them as a start… Since he was lunatic enough to have abducted Jason, he might kill them to keep her in line.
“Then can I make a suggestion?” The only suggestion she could have that would calm me down was that I should end Compton before he could steal her from me.
“It needs to be brilliant, Sookie. He’d take everything from you.”
She nodded absently while she thought through an alternative. “Don’t take him back to Shreveport. Leave him here for Andre. Have him ejected from the state and then if he ever comes back to Louisiana again, it could only be because he’s suicidal.” So far, so good…
“He needs to be taught a lesson though. This punishment, what Andre is doing is too private. Too many saw him challenge me.”
She stared at the ceiling, biting the corner of her lip while she pondered the hitch in her plan. Finally, “Oooh, I know. That reception… the one tomorrow night. The queen is short staffed at the moment. He could serve drinks on a leash or something. Pam could still dress him up and take pictures… then you could send them out so that everyone knows to be on the lookout for him re-entering your area. Like wanted posters and make sure his maker gets one. Besides, being humiliated in a room full of vampires would have to be worse than just a few and some fangbangers.” Her eyebrows went up as though she was waiting to be graded.
“If he’s allowed to leave then you’d be unsafe indefinitely. You’d have to be guarded.”
“You were going to do that anyway, butthead.” Pam snickered that Sookie called me ‘butthead’… maybe that she knew I was going to have her looked after. It didn’t matter why, I still gave her a warning look.
“Yes, but the Weres that would have been around your property wouldn’t suffice after dusk.”
“No, but sleeping in a warded house with a thousand year old vampire would. I could stay with you for a while until the safe room is finished… I wanted to talk to you about that anyway because of the Fellowship thing… it’s a growing issue. I caught that one was thinking specifically of Fangtasia. I was thinking that I should listen in for about a week or so when we get back anyway.” If I hadn’t been facing my closet, getting dressed, Pam would have had endless fun with the undefeatable smile on my face. Even knowing she’d feel how happy the proposal of an extra week with Sookie made me wasn’t keeping me from enjoying the moment.
“What then, Sookie? He’s a vampire. He won’t just forget how embarrassed he’s been.”
“I don’t expect he would, but… I’m yours, Eric. If he’s dumb enough to come after me, especially once he knows I have protection…”
“You understand that I’d have to end him.”
She nodded. She wasn’t excited, by the prospect, simply accepting of it.
“What of your job? And Adele’s thoughts on staying in Shreveport?”
“Sam? Are you kidding? I’m not telling him that he was right about Bill! Besides, he still hasn’t settled down enough to call me, so he’s really being a jerk about this. If I’m not dealing with working for him, then on Thursday, I can screen your applicants, test myself with Weres and maybe find one to be that day guard for when we travel.” Ever the muli-tasker.
“Really? Do you think I need to ask? She likes your house more than the one she’s been in for 60 years. And I’m sure it’ll just break her heart to have Bubba sit with her while I’m looking for assholes at Fangtasia.”
“And you’re sure you don’t want to go back to Bon Temps?”
She snorted. “We’ve already discussed your ego… There’s another perk.”
“My ego is a perk?”
She blew a raspberry at me, refusing to tell me, again, that she wants to stay with me. “As much as Paulette cares for Gran… She might consider a trip to Bon Temps, by extension Shreveport, to ward our place for us.” Brilliant.
“If she wards the property against vampires…”
“Not all vampires, just Bill. All she needs is his blood for it to be specific. I asked our first day here, but got a little ‘eh’ about how to collect it. Problem solved, right?”
She got up from the bed and carefully removed my belt and phone from my discarded pants and folded them to put in her bag.
Pam was slack jawed as she watched Sookie, with her now perfectly done hair move about the room… “Pamela, do you have anything to add?” I only asked hoping that she was just as dumbfounded as I was.
“Paulette called while you were out. She said to call her if it didn’t work for you, but she’d meet you here at 3. What was that about?”
“If it was any of your concern, she might have left a more detailed message, don’t you think?”
She snarled at me. “Yes.”
“I think our time is up. Gran gave me a 15 minute warning on my way up.”
Sookie had quickly checked her hair in the mirror and leaned over to peck Pam on the cheek. “It’s gorgeous. I like using hair as a diversion… I’m gonna run down to gather everyone so that you have the chance to say what’s on your mind.”
Without another word Sookie was gone.
I eyed Pam steadily. “What do you have in mind?”
“Firstly, thank you.” Her tone was humble and grateful… She could only be speaking of the reprisal acted out in her defense.
“My pleasure. Anything else?”
“Only if you recognize that it’s out of curiosity.”
“How often… How much of your… She…”
“Pam, could you move this along? The family is waiting.”
“You aren’t bonded yet, but it was like she was… that entire plan was something you would come up with… I don’t understand how she’s so calm. And did she say that you could get away with turning her?”
“She is. Her calm is unexpected and extraordinary. And yes, we’ve discussed the possibility of her becoming vampire.”
Had it not been for the wide, excited grin that took over Pam’s full lips I wouldn’t have been able to identify her mood. “She wants to be a vampire?”
“No, but she’d rather be vampire than be dead. We’ve discussed her turning in an emergent situation. She is considering the otherwise as well though. Her primary concern being that since all vampires get heightened senses…”
Her eyes widened as the dawning came to her. “Oh lord! She might go mad. She’d get no peace. Unless…”
“Her shields could quite reasonably become stronger in tandem.”
I smiled at Pam’s addition as though it was a remedy to an ache. “Thank you. That perspective lightens my burden.”
“So… You do want to turn her.”
“Yes, but at the moment we are quite comfortable with her in her current state.”
“It doesn’t bother you that I actually like her, does it?” She didn’t need to be told that it pleases me to no end that they get along so famously. What she felt was enough.
I smiled as we walked towards the door. “Only until you start rubbing off on her.”
Her grin was still firmly affixed. “On a side note, the reception… Do you approve of the gowns from the boutique?”
“I do, but… Perhaps you should call tonight. I’d like for her to wear blue.”
“A certain shade?”
“Light, like the slip she bought at Hot Chocolate.”
She nodded. “Are you really not going to tell me where you are going with Paulette?”
“No. I wouldn’t want to risk spoiling the surprise for Sookie. She practically has the hearing of a vampire. You’ll find out when you rise tomorrow. I’m sure she’ll still be yelling about it.”
As we walked from one cemetery, church, ‘city of the dead’, and ‘haunted’ home to another with our comically gothic (not to mention painfully oblivious) tour guide, I found myself more entertained than usual. Not by the subject matter of the tour, more the jovial nature of the Stackhouses. Even Hadley, a ‘walking dead’ herself seemed to be recovering from her saddened state of earlier.
The poor fool of a guide was more than puzzled at the reasons they all (and eventually Pam and I) laughed every time he uttered the word ‘dead’ in his theatrically ‘spooky’ tone… Eventually he changed his verbiage to say ‘unliving’… which only caused more frustration for him since even Jason caught on to the irony… our laughter continued to grow as his mental thesaurus tried every synonym he could imagine…
The most preposterous: Disembodied Souls.
As we wandered through the children’s section of one of the many cemeteries, Hadley noticed an aged headstone simply marked ‘Jason’, free of dates. He humorously laid himself on the grave, placing his hands behind his head to pose for one of Adele’s many photos and only a few moments later, we interrupted the tour again when we stumbled over a headstone marked Pamela. She refused to lie on the ground not only because of the dew, but she thought it was far more ironic to stand on the small monument… Adele laughed at her pose until she was breathless. Apparently, the pose could be considered ‘vamping’.
The ‘vamping’ comment inspired our guide… We all began rolling with laughter as the obtuse boy began imparting all of his infinite wisdom on the topic of vampirism… Including our lack of reflections, repulsion to ‘holy water’ and garlic and our favorite, our inability to appear in photographs…
The unforeseen amusement, the hilarity of the farcical outing was more enjoyable than I could have hoped, but the credit for that fell exclusively on the company.
Bartholomew (Sookie revealed that his actual name was Sean) was finally given a clue to our enjoyment… After relieving him of a large amount of his stock of souvenirs, Adele asked him to take a group photo for her. As the 6 of us posed, he captured the image… but Adele was feeling puckish… “One more… with fangs.”
The boy urinated.
By the end of our tour, Adele’s mood hadn’t diminished in the slightest, but it was obvious that her stamina had been tested. She only laughingly resisted as I scooped her up to carry her back to the car and by the end of our 4 mile walk, she’d fallen asleep in my arms. Jason had even jokingly taken a ‘piggy-back ride’ from Hadley for a few blocks of the trip as ‘payback’ for one he’d given her as children due to a sprained ankle she’d gotten falling while they played. They reminisced about playing at their ‘fort’ in the woods by extension, even making plans for the three of them to visit the site when Hadley ‘goes home’ to see if anything was still left. They hadn’t been back ‘in ages’. Since none of them were 30 yet, I almost mocked their use of the term. I only forgave it because two thirds of their life would be ‘ages’ to them.
By the time we returned to the house, Adele had found a second wind and went directly to the kitchen to dish out banana splits while we all gathered, enjoying what was left of the evening…
Enjoying that I was somehow letting go of my earlier stress.
No. I certainly didn’t mind that Sookie and Adele would be staying with me longer than planned…
“Adele, did Sookie mention that we have thought of an excuse for you to stay with me in Shreveport?” My cautious approach was greeted with a bright smile.
“You don’t say. What’s our excuse?”
“While at the palace tonight, Sookie ‘heard’ that there might be a threat in my area. It would be very convenient for you two to just stay with me while she surveys my customers for problems.”
“Do I still rate a babysitter?”
Sookie giggled an I-told-you-so while Pam cackled.
Jason gave her a confused look. “You’re staying with a vampire and you’re scared to be alone?”
She laughed at him. “If that’s the story I have to tell… My babysitter was so much fun… He even sang to me.”
Pam was instantly jealous. “He… What did he sing?”
“Let It Be… He’s still got it.”
Pam scoffed. “The Beatles? He sang a Beatles song?” I suppose no one bothered to remind him of his soreness towards the Beatles he carried in life.
Jason’s eyes widened. “JOHN LENNON IS A VAMPIRE!?”
I laughed at him. “Of course not, no one reached him in time. It’s for the best though, while I enjoyed his music, he would have turned that shrill wife of his. Imagine that echoing through the ages… Adele’s body guard simply has a spectacular, and rarely shared, singing voice.”
Adele seemed positively giddy with her little secret and shared a wink when Jason’s attention went back to his ice cream.
Paulette arrived 10 minutes early and as she knocked, I pointed to Sookie. “Shields.”
“Paulette may very well think about our task and if you pry, you will be disturbed.” Loosely worded as it was, she gave me a wide eyed nod.
As it was, I only gave Paulette a moment to say her hellos before hustling her out and telling Sookie not to wait up.
I’d waited until I drove down the block before explaining to my very confused witch… “I apologize. I’m shopping for Sookie tonight and she’s a telepath. I didn’t want her to have the chance to get any hints.”
She giggled. “Really? I knew there was something about her… a telepath? I’ve never heard of a real one.”
“Neither have I. She’s very unique.”
“That’s a relief. I was… I mean… When you said you had human company…”
I nodded, sparing her from struggling through her phrasing. “They’ve been staying with me in Shreveport. I should have mentioned that, so that you wouldn’t feel concerned.”
“So, the jeweler?”
“Yes, please. Go ahead.”
“Ok, so I couldn’t find one that would open early or stay open late for a vampire. They were all worried that you’d drain them or whatever. So… I got… ‘tricky’.”
She nodded sheepishly. “If you don’t want to… I went to the one that boasts about their Sapphires… I took my brother. He’s a witch too. We cast a confusion spell on the owner. Right now he thinks it’s 9 AM and he’s opening for normal business. So all the cameras and everything won’t pick up on anything being out of the ordinary. But afterwards, he’ll remember some but not much, kind of like he was drunk.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “THAT is impressive. Thank you!”
“You aren’t angry?”
“Not in the least. Your idea was inspired and makes me want you in Shreveport all the more. What’s keeping you here?”
She huffed. “My family. My brother hasn’t been able to find work. So him, his wife and little boy live with me.”
I smiled at her. “What is his trade?”
“He’s a welder.”
“So a construction job for him, a large house with a yard and a vehicle with GPS along with your doubled salary would encourage your relocation?”
“Are you SERIOUS?”
“You’re… How bad is your day-guy?”
“He’s served me well enough for the past few years, but he’s annoyed by Sookie’s presence. He’s less than complimentary. He’s insulting. He has few uses except for errands and your casting ability has proven to be quite practical.”
“He’s mean to her?” Impressing me more was that she seemed to be angry in Sookie’s defense.
“She’s a telepath so his impolite thoughts have reached her. Sookie and Adele very much enjoy you though. You’ve proven yourself to be priceless.”
“IF I accepted, what would my job include?”
“Occasional warding, not much or often. Errands that would include overseeing certain small projects and shopping. At the moment Bobby is ‘swamped’ with having some improvements done to Sookie and Adele’s home. The week before we left he shopped for some clothing for them, ordered several items online and arranged for a background check.”
“You pay someone to shop online for you?”
“No. He takes the easy way out from time to time. Adele and I both enjoy antique books which can be hard to find and I asked for him to have a bracelet made for Pam.”
“Antique books? There’s a shop… the front is antique books, but the back is for witches’ supplies. They have a huge section of first editions. Some of them signed.”
“I think you’ve just added to your list for tomorrow. Adele has no collection of her own. She’ll be easy to please. She seems to like everything. Especially more obscure titles by well known authors. She was endlessly pleased with The Innocents Abroad by Twain.”
She smiled. “How many?”
“We’ll only be here for tomorrow and the next day… 10 books should take care of the rest of her visit. You might see if there is a way we could be notified when they receive more stock. Once we get back to Shreveport, I’ll have you collect more for her… Perhaps bring a few more when you move?”
She giggled. “I need to talk to my brother.”
She rolled her eyes at me as she pulled out her phone.
Her call started with an apology for waking him and blaming her ‘pushy vampire boss’. She quickly explained the job offer package. Her brother’s response was to call her a bonehead for thinking twice about taking the job, even if his own employment wasn’t part of the proposal. He insisted that they could have her apartment packed for her before the end of the week if needed.
For the rest of the trip we discussed informalities of her move. That her relocation expenses would be covered and that I would make sure that vampires would arrive the night before they left the area to do the packing for them since it could all be done in a couple of hours. They’d then deliver their things to her new house where her car and new tools (cell phone and laptop) would be waiting with all of her utilities already taken care of. She’d have enough to do by way of closing up my house and tying up her own loose ends…
The prospect of glamouring Bobby to forget his many errands and realize his wishes to climb Mount Fuji was making me more generous than usual.
As promised, the jeweler was waiting behind a display case. The confusion spell worked well enough that he was finishing a nasty phone call to one of his ‘no-show’ employees.
My evening had certainly taken a turn to the lighter side of things… especially considering the heft of seriousness it began with.
As I perused the 4 cases of sapphires, my only disappointment was in knowing that I’d earn more of Sookie’s wrath than planned if I bought all the pieces that I found suitable for her…
But I easily thought of a loophole to allow me to still buy more than my ‘threat’ included.
I was only further pleased to quickly find fitting items for Adele and my brat.
When all was said and done, once the jeweler’s wit returned to him, the large sale was most likely going to buffer him from his mystification.
In my experience, 6 figures usually prevented questions from being asked.
Not wanting to disturb Sookie, but too pleased to resist, I hovered over her to gently place the necklace and bracelet on her… Only sliding the ring into place once she had snuggled up to my side.
She didn’t seem to notice the new additions, just that I was with her again. “Missed you.”
“I thought about you the whole time I was gone.”
“Aww. Me too.”
“What did you do before you came to rest? You seemed to be having fun.”
“We taught Pam to play Uno… She hates us all now.”
I laughed quietly so I wouldn’t completely wake her. “She still had fun.”
“I know… She called one of her pets to order a new dress for me. You don’t like the purple one?”
“I do, but if Bill is there, I’ll need the distraction and seeing you in light blue will remind me of your little slip.”
She giggled. “You’re a dirty old man, but I love you anyway.”
I chuckled as I kissed her head, hoping that eventually, she’d say it while she was awake.