My first order of business should have been to call the palace and hope Andre believed a slightly fabricated version of events…
But knowing Sookie was ‘looking in’ on Bill sporadically, the scheming of Nevada (since it wasn’t exactly ‘breaking news’) was deprioritized.
Sookie’s burns still hadn’t healed completely.
I needed to have a short conversation with her… and then she needed to feed.
Nevada’s plans to annex Louisiana would wait.
I led Sookie directly to my office while Pam went to the locker room to change into her ‘cliché costume’.
By the time I closed the door behind us, Sookie was so anxious it was written on her face.
“I did something wrong… I’m sorry.”
“Why do you think you did something ‘wrong’?”
“That has nothing to do with anything you’ve done… I have to ask… Why the fuck are you more timid as a Vampire than you were when you were still alive?”
She took a hard swallow and stared at the floor. “Because… I’m nothing.”
“I’m a newborn. I’m nothing… If I’m not careful, I won’t see a century. I could piss off the wrong Vampire… be staked just for looking at him the wrong way.”
“Did Bill tell you a hypothetical Vampire would lash out at you, or did he use me as his model?”
She didn’t have to answer. The way she didn’t answer spoke volumes.
I walked towards her and actually had to lift her chin so she’d look at me.
“While there is an art to knowing who you can push and how far they can be pushed, and more art still to knowing the time and place to challenge someone… you were already an excellent newborn before you were brought over. You’re already a better Vampire than your Maker… You took the initiative to expand your telepathy to study moods while he toyed with his computers. You were resourceful enough to make arrangements for bagged blood while he was feeding from whores instead of teaching you how…”
“Stop that. Don’t cry… The only good Compton is a dead Compton… Your Maker was lazy. Keeping you in seclusion made it easy for him to ignore his responsibilities to you. You’re loyal. You’re brave. You’re cheeky. You’re eager to learn. And you’re probably the most compassionate individual I’ve ever met… Seriously, stop crying… Considering what we learned from Jason when we spoke to him, I’m sure being told you’re nothing was easier to believe because of your mother’s opinions, but… you, better than anyone, should know bottom-feeders do everything they can to keep others down… Bill Compton is nothing, a drone, a puppet. I doubt an original idea has ever crossed his mind. He’s the master of wisdom and experience that left you alone after a serial killer threatened you. He’s a self-professed computer guru, but his ‘nothing’ pet was the one who thought to search Stan Davis’s nest for bugs. Consider the source, Sookie. You haven’t been ‘nothing’ in your entire life. You’ve always had something special… bravery, intelligence, determination… and yes, you just so happen to be a stunning telepath.”
She cleared her throat and snatched the box of tissue from my desk. She wasn’t just crying, she was trembling.
What the fuck did I say?
“Your gift does have potential though. We learned that tonight. You could easily make friends and enemies, depending on who you choose to side with, of nearly every King, Queen, Lord, Earl, Knight, and Sheriff I know of… That, in my estimation, makes us peers of sorts since that’s exactly what I have done. The fact that I’m a few years older than you suggests you might want to follow my advice from time to time, but I don’t enjoy the submissive behavior. Publicly, I’m your Sheriff, but when we’re alone, don’t second guess yourself. Don’t confuse me with someone who’s envious of your intelligence. I’m the one who respects it. Tell me you understand.”
She nodded and continued to wipe away bloody tears. “I think so.”
“Good. In case you haven’t noticed, there isn’t a shortage of D-cups out there… There’s only one bullet-sucker.”
She snorted out a laugh, but the laugh came with a fresh wave of tears and a puckered chin.
“I’m really not a fan of the crying.”
She scowled at me. “Then stop being so… so… sweet.”
“You’re clearly having hallucinations. They’re probably caused by malnutrition… I’m not sweet… I just thought you were due the truth. If you’re going to cry every time I…”
Before I could finish, she wrapped her arms around my sides, tucking her head under my chin. “Thank you… and I’m sorry.”
I kissed the top of her head. “You’re welcome… but why are you apologizing?”
“I didn’t know better, because of what Bill was telling me, but I wasn’t… I thought you had an ulterior motive all along.”
“I did. I wanted to fuck you.”
She was smiling when she stepped back. “You know what I mean.”
I nodded. “I do… Are you ready for your first feeding?”
Her fangs snapped into place when she smiled… and she covered her mouth. “God, I’m…”
I pulled her hands away from her mouth and chuckled, “You’re hungry.”
She shrugged. “I don’t… I mean, I don’t think so. Six bags. I had six bags earlier.”
“And how many bags every week do you have?”
“Um… I normally get about ten, but since they’re about to expire, I drink them all that night. Once a month.”
“Since December, you have only fed as much as Pam did in her first week.”
“True Bloods too though.” She seemed too sure of herself.
“True Bloods are… for lack of a better word, bullshit. True Blood was developed to keep the Human vascular system from collapsing due to blood loss. It just fills the void until their body can replenish its own supply. Our bodies don’t reject it, but it doesn’t offer any nutritional value. The company certainly didn’t mind bottling it. They’d have been fools not to take advantage of the profits. Seeing Vampires drink from a benign little juice bottle puts the Human public’s mind at ease. The shock of the Revelation would have left most Humans afraid they’d be attacked, instead of realizing we’ve been feeding from them all along and we hadn’t left any evidence.”
“Because everything they ‘know’ about Vampires means if they aren’t drained to death, the bite will bring them over.”
“So… by extension… mainstreaming?”
“Mainstreaming is typical of a Vampire who wished the Revelation didn’t happen. Assimilated little social-butterflies in Polo shirts and Dockers, still pretending to be as Human as possible.”
“Where do you stand on the matter?”
“That bell can’t be un-rung, so it doesn’t really matter. I adapted to the change, like I have with so many others, like you will… There are pros and cons.”
She snickered, “That was so a non-answer.”
“I wasn’t against the Revelation, just the execution. I’m sure there was a way to make the announcement more smoothly. Is that better?”
She nodded. “Yeah… What about pros and cons?”
“Are you stalling?”
She whimpered, “Yeah, I am… I’m excited and terrified… and…”
I chuckled as I backed towards the door, pulling her slowly towards the meal she’d needed for months.
“I’ll give you one pro, and then I’m going to walk you through every step of feeding, alright?”
She nodded. “Okay.”
“Pam’s first meal was a small boat full of fishermen. We spent hours looking for an isolated group of adult Humans. What we found were unwashed peasants, and the birds they’d been using as bait, and their fishy cargo… but since you were brought over after the Revelation, you have the benefit of a cornucopia of eager donors, waiting just a few feet away.”
Once I’d led her to stand on the stage, I moved to stand behind her and whispered, “Men or women?”
“Um… what’s the difference?”
“Men have penises. Women have a vagina.”
She covered her face and turned away from the bar, laughing silently and shaking. Even Pam chuckled from behind the bar.
As ever, the throngs of fangbangers had noticed my appearance and began staring as though I would do parlor tricks for them… Sookie’s sudden laughing fit made them all the more curious.
She had to wipe more tears away from her eyes and she took a deep breath she didn’t need before turning around to face the buffet again.
“I needed that.”
“I know… There isn’t a marked difference in flavor between sexes. Not here. Fangtasia doesn’t have many body-builders, or organic dieters, or pregnant customers. I asked because I’m teaching you to feed from the carotid. You’ll be very intimate with your donors.”
“Why the neck?”
“You’re stalling again?”
She shook her head. “I’d rather feed from women than be pressed against strange men. And the height thing. I’m genuinely curious about the location though.”
“Fair enough. The carotid is more pronounced, so there isn’t as much guessing involved. It’s a faster feeding and I’ll be able to gauge how much you’ve taken based on how many times you swallow.”
She nodded as she absorbed the information and offered, “Thanks… so… just any girl?”
“Does anyone stand out to you?”
Sookie scanned the crowd of eager slag before pointing to a female wearing plastic wrap and a leash. “Not her. She’s so drunk I don’t know how she’s standing. She’s seeing three of us.”
“Not funny. Two of us are bad enough… Anyone else?”
She pointed towards brunette twins in matching corsets and short skirts. “They… They just got here. They aren’t high or anything either. One of them will do.”
I pointed and motioned for them to come forward and wait…
“Five. I doubt you’ll want to stop once you taste fresh blood. Better safe than sorry and we have reading to do. Hiding bodies is time consuming.”
She snickered, “And you’ve got a cop in the bar…” She proceeded to wave at said officer and offered a flippant salute. He left his bar stool and stormed out.
I chuckled a reminder in her ear, “Three more.”
She hummed for a moment before pointing out two more women; both of them had their hair slicked back into tight buns.
While they joined the twins, I pointed to a fifth possible donor, but she shook her head and pointed to her own choice…
As we led the group back to my office, Sookie asked, “Is it weird that I want a picture of them?”
“A photo? Of them?”
She giggled, “Yeah. There’s pictures of my first steps and my first birthday… and the lock of hair from my first haircut is still in my daddy’s old wallet in Gran’s closet…”
I chuckled and waited for the donors to file into the room.
“Remove your pumps and line up. Don’t speak.”
Sookie anxiously stared at the ceiling while the donors kicked their shoes towards the wall and lined up in front of my desk like sheep.
She looked like she was going to rattle apart.
She whimpered, “I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
“I’m sure…” As I walked towards her, I blocked her view of the donors. I pushed my fingers through her hair to pull it away from her neck. “You won’t just bite. You’ll lick first, running your tongue over the neck to find the artery.”
I pulled her head back to expose her neck and ran my tongue over the side. Her lack of a pulse might have annoyed me if her fangs didn’t click into place as soon as my tongue touched her.
“One well-placed bite… Push your fangs into the neck, then tilt your head forward as though you’re digging in… Because you’re tapping the carotid, the heart will do most of the work for you. It won’t be a chore like pulling blood from a Vampire for a healing… Once you’ve tapped the artery, you’ll swallow by the mouthful. Push against the pulse with your tongue while you swallow. It slows down the flow.”
She nodded slightly before I leaned down for her neck again… pushing my blunt teeth against where her pulse used to be… massaging her neck as though I could still feed from her…
I could have forgotten the donors were there when Sookie began panting, sliding her hands up my sides to grab my shirt.
Her pupils were dilated. Her nostrils were flared.
She breathed, “Should I be…” Instead of finishing the question, she blushed.
“Aroused? You were the last time I nibbled your neck… You’re close to bloodlust, Sookie. I’m going to hold you. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will. There’s more than enough blood here to satisfy you. Once the first one has given as much as she can, you’ll release her and move on to the next.”
She nodded slowly. “I… I’ll try…”
So help me, the way she was looking up at me pushed me…
“Lick. Push. Lean. Draw. Dam. Release.”
She repeated, “Lick. Push. Lean. Draw. Dam. Release.”
I turned to address the donors and explained. “You’ll step forward. She’ll feed. As soon as she releases you, run to the other side of the room to make room for the next donor. Understand?”
Once they all nodded, I cued the first one to have her approach… One of Sookie’s twins.
Sookie twitched as soon as she made eye contact with her meal.
“Focus on the steps, Sookie.”
“Lick. Push. Lean. Draw. Dam. Release.” She was already so eager…
I couldn’t imagine how much more bloodthirsty she would have been if she hadn’t raided the Berts’ stores.
The first twin was the same height as Sookie, offering easy access… The woman winced, grasping Sookie’s arms when she was bitten…
Sookie let out a series of moans, each one louder than the last.
After six long drags from the donor, Sookie showed no signs of slowing down…
I pushed my hand into her hair, pulling gently as a warning, but it didn’t help.
“Sookie, release her.”
She growled against the woman’s neck, taking another deep pull.
I yanked her away from the donor, tilting her head back to be given a crazed, feral look. Open bloody mouth, exposed fangs, curled lip… She was still reaching for the donor…
“There’s no excuse to drain this one. You have four more.”
I snapped my fingers to cue the next one and warned, “You’ll obey me this time or the rest will be sent away. Tell me you understand.”
She hissed, “I understand. More.”
Sookie hardly licked the neck of the second twin before shoving her fangs in, oblivious to the woman’s pain…
I moved to stand next to them, leaning over to whisper, “Sookie, I know you can taste that. That’s what fear tastes like. That bitterness, it’s because you’re being rough…” As Sookie swallowed her sixth mouthful, I tugged her hair again. “That’s enough.”
She froze, closing her eyes for a moment before pulling her fangs out.
“Much better. More?”
She nodded eagerly as the donors moved.
“Did you enjoy the taste of fear?”
She grimaced slightly. “Not as much.”
“Try to be gentle this time.”
She nodded, not resisting my hold any longer, approaching the donor more calmly…
Dragging her tongue over the side of the woman’s neck slowly…
A much more patient bite…
And Sookie was pulling away as soon as she’d taken the sixth mouthful…
She gave me the most pleadingly innocent look, waiting for approval.
“That was nearly perfect… More?”
She grinned and nodded.
Instead of snapping, I offered my hand to the fourth donor and led her to me rather than Sookie.
“It will be a while before you’ll be able to control yourself enough to be able to finesse your first donors, but numbing their necks is something you’ll need to work on… and it tends to excite them. Lust tastes much better than fear.”
I watched Sookie over the donor’s shoulder while I worked her neck, just like I’d done to Sookie a few minutes earlier…
She watched, completely rapt, studying but anxious to feed again…
Quickly grabbing my hand as soon as I offered it…
Perfectly content to be led to join us, wedging herself between me and the donor…
And keeping hold of my hand.
Sookie had it in her to try, massaging the neck for a few seconds before pushing her fangs in, moaning against the woman, clearly enjoying the difference in flavor…
When she released that donor, it didn’t move away immediately.
I whispered in Sookie’s ear, “That was perfect… and it tasted much better than the others, did it not?”
She tightened her grip on my hand and nodded. She cooed, “Much-much better.”
“How are you feeling?”
She sang, “Incredible.”
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“Should I have Pam bring more donors?”
She thought about it for a moment before shaking her head. “I think I’m almost full.”
Sookie actually waved to have the last donor approach her… and she’d calmed down enough to put in the effort, working the woman’s neck until she was panting.
Sookie had barely swallowed four mouthfuls of blood when she’d slowed down enough to make me sure she was forcing herself to continue.
I chuckled into her ear, “You don’t have to ‘clear your plate’. I won’t send you to a corner.”
She sputtered blood when she giggled and as soon as the woman backed away, Sookie found my other hand and pulled my arms around her.
I explained, “There’s a Vampire in the hall, waiting to tend to your markings. Thank you for the donation.”
Sookie added, “And I’m sorry for hurting y’all. I’m just learning.”
Of course. Why wouldn’t Sookie apologize for biting someone who wanted to be bitten?
Oddly, one of them actually smiled at her, sympathetically at that.
As the donors filed out, Sookie turned around and stretched up to kiss my cheek.
“Thank you. I feel indestructible… Perfect… I was so stiff before… I’m sorry I ignored you, you know, with the first one.”
“You can’t be held accountable for that. We’re all wild at first. We’ll be here every night for a while. There are more than enough donors to keep you gorged. As long as Fangtasia’s open, there isn’t an excuse to let yourself become hungry enough to kill. And there isn’t a reason for you to suffer starvation. Some Makers use starvation as a form of discipline, but I think it’s a brutal practice… You did really well. I’m proud of you.”
Her smile faded as her chin dropped to her chest… I was sure something I’d said upset her, but when I tried to ask what, I only said as much as her name before her arms went over my shoulders to hug my neck.
While Sookie sobbed, Pam glamoured the donors to forget the ‘pretty baby Vamp’ and sent them to the bar for free drinks…
And I couldn’t have been more relieved when Pam entered my office.
I was hoping she’d have an idea. I knew she’d been listening at the door while Sookie fed.
It was Pam. Eavesdropping was what she did.
Pam closed the door and approached to slide her hand over Sookie’s shoulders.
“You did better than I did. I nearly drained seven men that stunk to high hell…” Without a change or response from Sookie, Pam shook her head and tried, “If he was punishing you, it was for his mistakes… It’s just more proof of what a bastard he is… for now.”
That was it… The way Sookie’s arms tightened around my neck all but confirmed it…
But she still couldn’t bring herself to say anything.
Pam offered, “Why don’t you take her to clean up? I’ll call Bobby with a list…”
“Given that Gwen’s a variable, you’ll stay with me until future notice. After you’ve fed, pack a few things. Be careful you aren’t followed.”
She smirked. “I thought I was going to need to dream up an excuse to sit in on that research you’re planning to do.”
“Lucky you… Be careful.”
Sookie was still so upset that she didn’t seem to notice anything about our flight back to my house.
It wasn’t until I moved her leg from my waist so I could reach into my pocket for keys that she loosened her grip on my neck at all… by then, my neck and shirt were drenched with her tears.
She sniffled as I walked through my house, still carrying her, to my bedroom downstairs.
She finally lifted her head when she heard water begin filling the tub.
She asked, “We’re at your house?” as I set her on the counter.
“One of them… I didn’t mean to suggest he was punishing you.”
“I know…” She paused to sniffle and look around. “No tissues?”
I reached into the cabinet to take out a washcloth. “I’m not a crier and I don’t have visitors.”
She nodded and began wiping her face. “I… I guess it’s just been a long night… seen a lot of woulda/coulda/shoulda… ways things could be different, better… it just all hit me at once when it occurred to me that a so-called monster taught me to feed, while my Maker was with one of his whores… He was told that his only child is being held hostage, he hears me screaming, and he goes on a date. I don’t know how much more of his shit I can take.”
“None. You don’t have to take anything else from him. We’ll be waiting for him and if you can’t protect yourself from what I have planned for him, he’ll be ended quickly.”
“What you have planned? I want in on that action… I’m sure he doesn’t care, but I’ve got some things I want to get off of my chest.”
I couldn’t help but smile. “Do you think you’re ready to play with monsters?”
She nodded, “Hell yeah… Now that I’m…” She paused for a moment before she giggled, “Nietzsche. Battle not with monsters, lest ye become one, or something like that. ”
“How fitting… Do you have something specific in mind?”
She shrugged. “I have until tomorrow night to think of something. While I was picking donors, Bill Compton and George Lee bought tickets on different airlines to New Orleans, but Tom Sherman has a ticket to Shreveport. Anubis. He’s flying in a box and landing at 10:10… Anyway, he doesn’t get to die with any notions that I was still in oblivion… and please don’t let me chicken out… It might be the most cathartic thing I could do.”
“You used to be so squeamish.”
“I used to be a lot of things. I think I’ll make a list of everything he took away from me. Maybe that’ll help me think of what to do to him.”
I nodded. “Probably… Now that you’ve calmed down, I’ll leave you to bathe. I’ll bring your bag… Pam will arrive shortly.”
“If Pam’s coming, maybe I should borrow a T-shirt from you. I left the other-Sookie bag in Pam’s car with my purse. You ‘don’t have my bag’, remember?”
Very good point.
After taking one of my shirts to Sookie, I distracted myself from the idea she didn’t have any underthings… I moved the bagged blood I had from the refrigerator upstairs to the mini-fridge in my room. I turned on my desktop and loaded the information from the thumb-drives, then did the same with my laptop (which was exactly where I thought I’d left it). I texted Pam to ask what she’d put on Bobby’s list and while I waited for an answer, I did background searches on Brandon Rousseau and Remy Savoy for Sookie…
Brandon was just a few miles away and working as a mechanic, and Remy Savoy was in New Orleans, working for a company that made custom cabinetry.
With all of that done I was left with the sounds of Sookie’s bath while I began reading the journal entry of our hosts.
Annoying as it was to be reminded that Sookie had lost so much to Bill’s greedy fuckery, there was a note mentioning ‘things could always get worse’, followed by a short list of examples. There was no such thing as a Sookie who’d had an uneventful life.
And apparently, there was no such thing as an Eric who managed to ignore she was a perfect match for Me… not for long.
When Sookie finally emerged from the bathroom, she offered, “Sorry I took so long. I got lost and had to get directions from a bale of sea turtles. Nice tub.”
I chuckled, “At least I don’t have to worry that you’ll drown during the day,” and then I made the mistake of looking at her.
I expected her lack of panties to needle me, but seeing her in my shirt, and it was just a simple fucking T-shirt, was almost enough to make me forget she was still so fragile.
If I’d learned anything, it was not to push her… and that was before another Me told me as much.
She crossed the room to stand next to me and rest her arm on the back of my chair.
“So the new ability thing… It’s really wild… I don’t even need to know where something is to find it. I focused on Bill again and he was on the phone with Gwen while he packed… He’s had himself a little hissy fit and trashed the house. Anyway, Gwen is taking the program to New Orleans and apologizing for her sister’s child’s behavior.”
“Their theory is that Bill will be able to avoid a punishment, yes?”
As she nodded, I took her hand and led her to sit on my lap.
Fuck. No panties.
“Yeah. Braveheart, that one… So, Gwen’s flying in from Las Vegas tomorrow night. She’ll get there at midnight… Do you think everything can be spun to avoid mentioning the skip and my bonus ability so the Queen can get her hands on Gwen for info about the coup?”
I thought about it for a moment, pondering different scenarios while she seemed perfectly content to warm my lap. The long bath had raised her body temperature.
I finally nodded and proposed, “After Bill and Sookie’s sudden disappearance, I put the word out. I focused on Dallas and Jackson because of Sookie’s recent work as a telepath, and Seattle because Bill’s Maker had most recently resided there… Which is actually completely truthful… Last week, Bill and Sookie were shopping in Seattle and one of my associates recognized her from the photos I’d emailed. He glamoured a clerk for a credit receipt to find Compton had been using the identity George Lee… As a newborn, Sookie wasn’t difficult to abduct and ship to Shreveport. My intention was to hold her as leverage until Bill surrendered the database to the Queen, but while Bill made arrangements to travel, the bugs that had been planted in his house gave me insight to a plot… As it turns out, Gwen Roth is party to information about a takeover attempt by de Castro. Her plan was to take Sookie Stackhouse and Compton’s program to de Castro as tribute, hoping to be rewarded with a position as a Sheriff in Louisiana… How does that sound?”
She smirked, “That’s part of why I didn’t trust you… None of that registered as complete BS. Just the bit about the shopping trip was off. You’re like a… a lie ninja.”
“I didn’t lie as much as I chose my words carefully. That way, later, I’m not ‘caught in a lie’. It was simply a miscommunication… You’re the bug, of course.”
She snickered, “Yeah, or you’re a lie ninja… Pam’s in her car, screaming along with Total Eclipse Of The Heart… Hunter’s asleep, hugging a big dinosaur pillow… Oops! The Berts are on their dinner break…”
“You don’t have to, but I suggest you keep that ability to yourself. Working as a telepath is less threatening because you have to be in the company of your Human target. There are some individuals who wouldn’t take the news well… that no matter how careful they are, they can be watched.”
She nodded. “You don’t have to tell me twice. If a putz like Bill can see telepathy as a cash-cow, I don’t want to know how much drama this geopathy shit can stir up.”
Good girl. Finally thinking about her own well-being first.
Andre was giddy to hear he’d be able to show Gwen a taste of southern hospitality, and was making plans to meet her at the airport to offer a personal tour of New Orleans since she seemed to be so interested in Louisiana. The excited little prick’s innuendo was so thick Ginger could have been able to figure out what he meant… but I couldn’t bring myself to care since he graciously accepted my offer to act as Sookie’s foster/handler and he gave me permission to do whatever the fuck I wanted to Compton.
As I began giving Sookie a tour of the house, I made sure to point out there was a pro to telepathy. I couldn’t think of another situation, in all of my years, where a newborn was left unharmed when their Maker was punished somehow. I’d suffered alongside my Maker several times. Under other circumstances, Sookie would have been tortured for information if she were too loyal to volunteer it. She compared loyalty to karma and mentioned, very casually, that if she owed loyalty to anyone, it would be me.
Passing through the kitchen, she giggled, “My Gran would’ve given you the stink-eye for that kitchen since you never use it.”
She became glassy-eyed when I showed the pool to her.
When we reached the door of my study, she gasped, “Sonofabitch… Nice reading nook…” but our attention was pulled elsewhere.
Pam was already speaking before the garage door was closed behind her car.
“I gave Bobby an impossible list, and only two hours to complete it. I love to see that mongoloid simper… I stopped at Target for cat food on my way home, and… well, I’ll have to wait to see Sookie in La Perla, but at least Target is a step up from Hell-Mart…”
Sookie shook her head and giggled as we walked back towards the kitchen… to the original score to Pam’s life. Rustling shopping bags.
Pam continued, “I perused the entertainment department while I was there. They had Quantum Leap… Eric, you have to watch at least the first episode…” As she entered the kitchen, with both hands full of shopping bags, Sookie’s bags, and a small cooler… and a box tucked under her arm, she blurted, “FUCK! Forgot cat food.”
Of course she did.
“Have Bobby buy some.”
She ignored me to scan Sookie from head to toe… She raised an eyebrow and cooed, “Silly me, I bought pajamas for our sleepover… Something you can lounge in while you watch TV tomor-”
Sookie interrupted, “Read, but thanks… You didn’t have to go to the trouble.”
Pam whined, “Read? What kind of things do you read? I have an illustrated version of De Sade’s complete works on my computer.”
I rolled my eyes and offered, “She illustrated it herself… with Disney characters. Keep in mind, if you can dream, you can have nightmares.”
Sookie covered her eyes for a moment while she laughed quietly. She finally giggled, “I’m a library rat. I’ll read just about anything. The past few months, I’ve been doing more studying really. That’s still fun though.”
“What have you been studying?”
“Mostly languages, history, and ‘mythology’. I figured I’d make a piss-poor Vampire if all I knew was from a public-school education in a conservative state. And it wasn’t like I didn’t have time on my hands.”
More of the initiative I’d mentioned earlier.
Pam began clapping slowly. “Brava, sister, brava… Did you learn anything interesting?”
“French, German, Spanish and Italian. I’m sure my accent is horrible, but I can read and understand them. I’m proud of that much though. I ended up in Home-Ec because I couldn’t concentrate in school… Ebay is a great place to get used textbooks for cheap. I think my favorite was the anthropology lot I found. Since I can get a bead on how old Vampires are, I can almost picture how their lives were… Oh, and computers. I’m no hacker or anything, but Bill dies for the day, so Murphy’s Law dictates that every damn problem I had was while he was dead. Until we went to Washington, the most I’d ever done on a computer was use the catalog at the library.”
Seeing Pam’s jaw drop made me realize mine had too.
“You’re proud of ‘that much’? You taught yourself four languages in six months. That isn’t a small feat.”
She shrugged. “I only rest for a few hours a day. No friends. No job… There’s only so much housework that needs to be done after two neat Vampires… Gran woulda whooped my ass if I wasted all that time.”
Pam tilted her head back to stare at the ceiling for a moment before offering, “We could talk about my boner all night. I spent five years learning Flemish and I still suck at it… Eric’s an excellent history professor though. He’s lived through all the interesting stuff. You might be behind schedule with feedings, but you’re fucking up the grading curve for the rest of us.”
I volunteered, “Given that tonight was her first feeding, she’ll fuck up the curve in that class as well. She only lost herself with the first donor… And she’s already discovered her Vampire gift.”
Sookie dropped her head to hide she was blushing… another failure on Bill’s part… he hadn’t complimented her enough.
Pam chirped, “Yes, yes, we’re gushing. You were an interesting little creature when you were alive, even if we were mostly trying to figure out what you could possibly see in Bill Compton. And now, you’re an impressive Vampire … We won’t blow smoke up your ass though. If you fuck up, we’ll tell you… Now…”
Pam pulled a camisole out of one of the many bags on the counter and wiggled her eyebrows at Sookie.
It was white chiffon, just one layer… I didn’t have any complaints.
Sookie snorted, “Next.”
“What’s wrong with it? It’s cute.”
“If by ‘cute’ you mean ‘sheer’, sure… I’ll be a good sport, but I’m not wearing that. I might as well be naked…” When Pam opened her mouth, Sookie quickly added, “Also not an option.”
Pam blew a raspberry and tossed a light blue bundle of fabric to Sookie.
A short cotton knit robe and a sleeveless romper.
Sookie held the item up and eyed them appreciatively. “If this is half as comfortable as it looks, I could practically live in this.”
Pam nodded. “Heather, green, white, blue and pink… for both of us. Let’s change and dive into those files.”
The ‘best part’ of the rompers Sookie and Pam wore was that, unlike a nightgown, they didn’t ‘need’ panties.
That didn’t help…
Sookie was folding and sorting Pam’s purchases when I went to shower away Merlotte’s, the donors, and traces of Bill…
When I left my bathroom (in a new pair of pajama pants), Pam had brought a mattress down from a guest room and made a second bed out of it.
Sookie and Pam were lounging, toying with the laptop Pam bought to replace the one Sookie had in Lake Bosworth, but as soon as Sookie spotted me, she lunged for the side of the pallet for the bag the other Sookie had provided.
“I almost forgot…” She held up two gris gris bags. “The other Sookie mentioned that there’s a couple of journal entries where Bill was worse than mine. They started packing gris-gris bags from a family recipe in the skip-kits. I guess since we have a problem with variables, we could use these tonight. I can always make more because she gave me the recipe. It’s just an ill-will charm.”
“Good idea. I didn’t know your family practiced.”
“Mine didn’t but another version… My brothers and I went to college in Vegas and used Their abilities to clean up. They pissed off that de Castro guy personally. Brandon was dating a Witch so They started dabbling with protection spells just so They didn’t have to worry about being robbed.”
I snorted, “Stackhouse ingenuity.”
“That’s nothing. You should have met my aunt… So… did I miss anything interesting while I was gone or was everything quiet because I wasn’t here to stir anything up?”
Pam shook her head and yawned, “It’s been so boring. No trouble-maker, no trouble.”
At least they were getting along.
“There was a Witch in the Area shortly after you disappeared. She sent a minion to Fangtasia to make demands. Given the timing of it, I followed the minion…”
Pam finished, “And then he tortured a Were-Witch to death because she didn’t know anything about your whereabouts.”
She made it sound romantic… and it was five Witches.
“The ‘Were-Witch’ demanded a percentage of my profits and sex. It was too ridiculous to be an actual demand. In any case, I had reason to believe she was part of the Jackson pack.”
Sookie raised an eyebrow. “How many people did you kill trying to find me?”
40, give or take.
“Not enough since I never got the answers I wanted… Have you loaded the journals on your new laptop or is it still cycling through the initial start-up?”
Pam offered, “All of the computers are loaded up and ready to go…”
Surprisingly, Sookie decided to wait to watch the litany of videos made by family members she’d lost or hadn’t met yet. She was sure she’d cry buckets and figured we’d been subjected to enough of that for the evening.
Our initial ‘plan of attack’ was to each read a different reality, spreading out, covering more ground… taking notes on stark differences to help us prioritize.
Three hours later, Sookie laughed that our plan had been ‘shot to shit’… It didn’t seem like any of us could read more than a page or two of any entry before we were discussing, inquiring, or ranting about something.
Pams were Sheriffs, Lord Chancellors, Queens, Lieutenants, or just dutiful Seconds…
Erics were retired (not enough of Us), Sheriffs, or Kings…
Sookies were waitresses, car sales women, professional gamblers, business women, professional telepaths, writers, mothers, housewives, Lord Magistrates, or Queen Consorts…
The collateral ‘players’ were the most curious to us because our present situation was relatively concrete…
On my part, it was taking a herculean effort to remain rational about how many Sookies were Mine. I already hated Compton enough for the entire journal.
I’d taken several breaks from reading to perform more background checks because Sookie and Pam agreed it would be fun to begin making connections that seemed to work really well in other versions.
While Pam was upstairs (berating Bobby), Sookie left her bed to take Pam’s mess of strewn paper to the bin and when she walked past me, I caught her scent.
I grabbed her wrist before I realized I was moving, pulling her closer, sampling more deeply.
“You don’t smell like Bill.”
She leaned over me and inhaled. “What a coincidence… you don’t either.”
“You should smell like your Maker.”
“I usually do since we live together. He’s complained, but it’s not like I do it on purpose. Probably another Fae thing… I didn’t absorb ambient nastiness while I was alive.”
“You’re suggesting that you didn’t take on you Maker’s scent…”
“Because Faeries smell like sunshine, not bullshit… Sure, why not? We can make shit up as we go along. I hear it’s fun.”
“At least you won’t be associated with him forever.”
“It could be worse… at least I wasn’t raped and tortured for months while earning for him and his dysfunctional family. I’ve just been on a semi-permanent vacation.”
“That was temporary though. He intended to command you to serve de Castro…”
“But we didn’t get there yet. Don’t get me wrong… I still plan to- OH! Can I… Do you mind if add to the list Bobby’s getting, so I don’t have any errands tomorrow night?”
I nodded and opened my mouth to ask what she’d thought of, but she’d already sped from the room.
Bobby shrieked like a little girl just a moment later.
Sookie waited patiently for Pam to finish admonishing Bobby for forgetting cat food… then she added her items to the list…
- Duct tape
- Latex gloves
- Silver leaf
- Fireplace matches
- Silver hat pins
- And… a dildo ‘the size of Texas’
I was still laughing when Pam and Sookie returned to the room.