As I parked behind Glamour, I held my hand up to stop Lynn before she could open her door.
“Just a moment…”
She sighed, “If you’re teasing…”
I turned to face Lynn. “I wouldn’t do that… There are Vampires here. In public, you obey me without question…” I turned to Shawn and added, “Both of you. I don’t have to remind my thralls why they know better than to cross me. I can’t exactly allow them to think my children or any fosters I might have are incorrigible.”
Lynn nodded, anxious to leave the car. “Got it. Any big etiquette boo-boos to watch out for?”
“You won’t be far enough from Gawain or me to need them tonight. My thralls will recognize you’re getting a hunting lesson, so they won’t behave intrusively… Shawn, have you ever been introduced to another Vampire as Leland’s child?”
He shook his head. “We never went anywhere together… And I should warn you. I’ve never poached at a club. I’ve only ever gone to smaller bars.”
“It’s Tuesday, so the crowd is half of what it usually is on weekends. We’re going to walk in, settle into my usual sitting area and scan the crowd for excellent candidates. You both need to learn how to poach patiently.”
Lynn whimpered, “Settle into a sitting area? You’re killing me.”
I chuckled, “You fed from nine people tonight. You aren’t hungry… you just want to molest a man. We’ll focus on Shawn first so he can go home to his children. You couldn’t possibly begrudge him that, could you?”
She gasped, “Dirty play! Guilt? Really?”
But it worked.
Lynn hugged my arm as though her life depended on it as we walked into Glamour.
The stark hallway lined with doors to rooms of various purposes…
The first one was my office, the next was the employee break room…
The next two doors, situated across from each other, were private lounges… Their purpose was fucking and feeding. It was why I had so many Vampire customers. Glamour was a meat market, but the meat didn’t know they were on the menu.
Both rooms were occupied and I was told to fuck off when I knocked… but announcing myself and ordering them to end their dates early changed their tunes. A cacophony of apologies and mumbled cursing in various languages proved my point about being taken seriously to Shawn.
I waved off the bartender when we took our seats and gave Lynn and Shawn a moment to adjust to the noise and activity.
There were at least a hundred customers… and even though multiple heartbeats seemed to be a trigger for Lynn at home, she adjusted remarkably quickly… meanwhile no less than three Vampires noticed my arrival and began offering nods in my direction.
“What’s your pleasure tonight, Shawn?”
He answered simply, “Female.”
“You might as well fuck something while you’re here.”
Shawn shrugged. “I prefer brunettes. They don’t have to be supermodels or anything.”
As I scanned the crowd for him, I asked, “See anything you like?”
He took a deep breath and pointed towards a girl at the bar. “I guess that one.”
I shook my head. “It’s likely she’s a cop. She’s been sitting there long enough for the ice in her drink to melt. Her hair is still perfect, because she hasn’t danced, her nails are short, and she’s recently removed her wedding band… Scan the dance floor for marginally inebriated social butterflies.”
Gawain chuckled, “Observations like that are responsible for why I thought you were telepathic.”
By the time Lynn agreed with Gawain, Shawn had already spotted a threesome of girls dancing together… I could practically hear Pam’s commentary in my head… ‘They’re relying on bi-points and the cheerleader effect to make up for plastic surgery they can’t afford. Look- one built like a 12-year old boy, one with a nose you could land a plane on, and one with Austin Powers’ teeth.’
Shawn did say they didn’t need to be supermodels.
I snorted, “Scraping the bottom of the barrel already? We just arrived.”
He shrugged. “I told you. I’m not really picky.”
I pointed towards a pair of men who’d just been dancing with a woman. “They’re more attractive than the so-called girls you’re looking at.”
Gawain offered, “And probably give a better blow job. Those three are desperate harpies.”
Shawn cut his eyes at Gawain and scoffed, “I’ll take the trio of dogs over the sausage two-pack. Thanks.”
Passive as our probing was, Shawn still looked like the idea of touching a man made him ill.
I nodded towards the unoccupied DJ booth to bring his attention to a pair of brunettes who clearly knew where the gym was. One pixie cut, one with long hair. A B-cup and a D-cup. They were dancing close, holding hands, and Pam was going to be very disappointed to hear she’d missed a Phoebe Halliwell lookalike. A Phoebe would have completed her Charmed collection.
Shawn chuckled, “They’re barely old enough to be here. I doubt they’d be interested.”
In the interest of feeding the newborn, I left my seat to approach the girls… and Gawain praised Shawn for recruiting me as his wingman.
I slithered up behind one and took the other’s hand to lead her closer.
“If you’re dancing together so men will imagine fucking you both, congratulations.”
The pixie cut, Phoebe, raised an eyebrow. “What if we’re dancing together because we can’t find anyone worth our time?”
“Are you a package deal then?”
The long-haired one offered, “We’re a couple…”
“And you’re shopping for a man who’s willing to stay in your toy box instead of trying to become part of your life, yes?”
The girls shared a look before nodding. ‘Phoebe’ giggled, “Something like that. Our last ‘toy’ got transferred. Air Force.”
That was an added bonus.
The long-haired one asked, “Interested?”
“No. I don’t fit into a box… but I have a friend who might be interested. If you care to audition him, at least your outing wasn’t a complete wash.”
When they asked ‘where’, I pointed at Shawn… and luckily, he was talking to Gawain and Lynn instead of oozing anxiety and staring.
I chuckled, “Uh oh. He seems to have already lost interest in you… I might have to sell you.”
The couple shared a longer look than the last and practically gave me a personals ad to relay to Shawn…
When I returned to my seat next to Lynn, I offered, “Amber and Candace are a couple. They’re shopping for a ‘DD’, designated dick, for regular casual fucking a couple times per week. Their last DD was transferred. They enjoy anal play, but not full anal, and roughness, but not ‘too rough’… They both have their clits and tongues pierced. Their scent isn’t unpleasant even though they’ve been here for a while… and they’re interested in taking you for a test drive. They could become a standing date for you.”
“They told you all that?”
“They thought they were going to miss a chance to audition a slice of apple pie like you. I told them you had a vasectomy after your third child and you aren’t interested in dating. You’re disease free, attractive and have a functioning cock. As long as you don’t have corn-rowed chest hair or racist tattoos, you’d have to try to fuck it up.”
He leaned forward and asked, “How do I do that? An ongoing thing, both of them, when I’m feeding too?”
“Can you feed without making a mess yet?”
He nodded and scowled at Gawain… he’d been chuckling.
“Give me a break, would ya? I’d only ever had sex with my wife until I died. I’ve been careful because I’ve been learning as I go.”
“I was actually laughing at ‘too rough’… they had needles shoved through nerve centers and the strongest muscles in the Human body…”
Lynn giggled, “I’m glad it’s not just me. I was hung up on that too. I’m guessing you’ll need a map to find the way around their gray area. Probably a little slap and tickle, not ball gags and nipple weights.”
Gawain snorted, “That goes without saying… What is anal play as opposed to full anal?”
“My guess is they like a small plug or a finger for the pressure, but pumping is too much for them.”
He chuckled, “So… anal virgins?”
Because there needed to be two Gawains.
I sighed, “Can I continue?”
They nodded as though they’d forgotten Shawn and I had been talking.
I turned my attention back to Shawn. “Do I need to demonstrate for you?”
He shook his head. “I think instructions will be fine.”
“Watch for an opening and catch their attention as though you plan to glamouring them… feed from a wrist or a thigh while the other is blowing you… make sure you don’t release them early, or you will have to race to glamour them to forget.”
“So I can just hold them?”
The poor bastard… Sadly he’d probably learned more from me in a couple of hours than he had from Leland.
I stood, nodding towards Amber and Candace. “I’ll introduce you, walk you through it, leave you to fuck them… you’ll need to practice. I doubt Lynn will mind extra chances to feed… we’ll meet here at midnight until you’re more confident.”
The only thing to be said for the way he followed me was that he didn’t seem too eager…
His anxiety over feeding during a threesome gave him a hesitant posture.
Hopefully, they thought he was aloof.
I closed the door to the lounge behind us and offered, “Amber, Candace, this is my friend Shawn.”
They smiled and waved at him, saying their own names since I hadn’t been specific.
The girls watched carefully as I walked towards Shawn and whispered into his ear, “Do you need to feed first?”
His head fell back and he sighed, “God… yes, please… I haven’t even tried until I’ve had at least one.”
“Feeding, then fucking, yes?”
“That’s the… I don’t want to hurt anyone and I’m not sure I could keep my fangs back if I had to.”
At least he was aware of his limitations.
I snapped my fingers and pointed to Shawn’s feet.
As the girls poorly faked obedience, I led Candace to stand behind Shawn.
I whispered, “Hold Amber’s attention, feed from her wrist, instruct her to undress, then turn around to repeat the process with Candace.”
When he asked, “That easy?” his fangs were already down.
I nodded and reached into his back pocket for his wallet, just in case Amber and Cadence were trolling for more than cocks.
Candace reached around from behind Shawn to begin opening his belt and giggled, “Whispering is rude… Are you going to let us in on the secret?”
When Shawn and I said ‘no’ in unison, Amber glared at him, making her attention all too easy for him to take.
I breathed, “Just keep her eyes locked on yours. Don’t break eye contact while you feed and heal her marking.”
He nodded slightly and lifted her arm to begin preparing her wrist.
“That’s not necessary either.”
His eyes widened just before he bit into her wrist and, after several draws, he didn’t seem to be struggling to pull away even though Candace was doing everything she could to encourage him to turn around.
Amber stripped while Shawn repeated the process with Candace, and reached into his jeans to join her girlfriend.
It seemed like the only difficulty he had was retracting his fangs when he was finished feeding.
“Find me when you’re finished.”
When I sat next to Lynn again, she giggled, “You’re like the Pope of Pimps.”
Oh goody. Another nickname.
“I prefer Pam’s title: ‘King Of Cock and Fang’.”
As soon as I spoke I knew I’d regret it…
Gawain corrected, “I think ‘King of the Northern Empire’ is sexier.”
I nodded. “It goes especially well with your name. Gawain, King of the Northern Empire. Definitely. That’s so sexy I’m hard just thinking about it.”
“Would you be one of my Lords?”
“Absolutely. I’ll take Limburg.”
He snorted, “You asshole… Why not just ask for Friesland?”
“I didn’t volunteer for District Limburg because it’s quiet. I like my house there.”
“You have houses scattered across the Empire, and most of Europe.”
“But that’s my favorite one and I haven’t been able to use it for longer than a week since the coup… And you know Cornelius would serve Amsterdam better. His own mother was scared to tell him ‘no’.”
He nodded, realizing how right I was. “I should give you Luxembourg and Liege…”
“No. You should appoint Edward and Richard as Lords of Luxembourg.”
“Really? Do you think they’re ready for that?”
I nodded. “They’re absolutely ready. Francesca has trained them quite well. She has no qualms leaving her Area to them when she holidays. I’ve seen them work. They’re composed and efficient.”
“Shall I surround Limburg with Mee and Tilda?”
I chuckled, “By all means, Mee and Tilda wouldn’t be unwelcome in Brabant and Gelderland.”
“Nothing would ever be done. The three of you would fuck to the death.”
I laughed at him, “Foolish King Gawain… Nothing has happened in your Kingdom in centuries anyway.”
He chuckled, “Oh, that’ll change now that I’m King-”
Lynn cleared her throat and asked, “Should I be taking notes? Will there be a geography quiz later?”
“No. You should send your day-girl to purchase a computer for you so you can research sightseeing with Maguire when I take you to London in September.”
She gave me a Cheshire Cat grin. “Think I’ll be okay to travel by then?”
“I’m sure of it. I have friends there who can accommodate your feedings as well…”
Gawain chuckled, “Tyson won’t let one of Eric’s children starve… When he brought over Pam, and she needed to be taken into seclusion, Tyson loaned a country house to him because all of Eric’s properties in his Kingdom were in cities.”
I added, “I was in his service at the time. He used the house for parties and was staffed with servants, and at the time, there was an army of slaves on the property as a favor to another King who was plagued with slave piracy… There was no shortage of feeding options.”
Lynn giggled, “That helps explain your little spoiled brat a bit.”
I nodded. “It should.”
Out of the fucking blue… I didn’t even have time to prepare… She was already taking advantage of our bond. And she called Pam a brat.
I was trying not to think about how fucking miserable Sookie was. It wasn’t as though I could do anything to help.
“She’s not in a wonderful mood.” Given my sense of her location, she was with Alcide already.
“Is anyone going to tell me what the fuck is going on with her?”
I shook my head, keeping my promise to avoid revealing Sookie’s situation to Lynn because there wasn’t a dire need.
Gawain offered, “She’s seeing Alcide.”
That much was declassified since Lynn knew they’d been dating.
Lynn was quiet for a moment before blurting, “WHAT‽ No! Why?”
Her fucking ability… and I was almost sure her roommate had given her what she needed to know intentionally.
I sighed, “You’re going to have to be more specific after the way you tricked me last night.”
“Why is she breaking up with him?”
“I’m still sure it isn’t any of our business.”
“It might be my business if she’s dumping someone she can settle down with just because she’s so attracted to you it’s crazy.”
“You’re right. If she was dumping her boyfriend because she wants to fuck someone else, that would be cause for concern, but that isn’t her reason.”
“That isn’t her only reason?”
I shook my head. “I don’t have anything to do with her reason. I don’t particularly care if she’s ‘in a relationship’ or not. I’d still fuck her… Congratulations on installing her devotion software correctly.”
“Even if her sense of devotion was a direct result of your blue balls?… You’re dancing. If they just aren’t working out or whatever, you’d have said so.”
“They aren’t ‘working out’. They have differences of opinions. They have different plans and goals…”
If she connected those dots, at least I had a witness to the fact that I hadn’t broken my promise.
“He’s a good guy. He’s responsible. He’s a Supe too, so she doesn’t have to hide her ability. They get along really well from everything I’ve seen… That makes for a great base. Why the hell wouldn’t she want to give him a chance?”
Gawain offered, “Maybe she doesn’t want to settle down with the first dog to sniff her garden. Perhaps you should just tell her how well that worked out for you…”
She elbowed him and snorted, “Bite me… Alcide is not Carrey. He has a sense of family… and they’ve got the same damn demons… They’d be good for each other.”
I snorted, “Sookie would be ‘good’ for anyone she chooses. She isn’t interested in rushing into anything…”
“Rushing? Who’s rushi-? Oh my God… Did she catch him thinking about proposing?”
Gawain rolled his eyes. “I quit. There isn’t a way to evade…”
I nodded. “Your estimation of the situation is sensible. I concur… Wasn’t someone hungry?”
Lynn blurted, “She can slow down, for fuck sake. She doesn’t have to bail and let the car wreck.”
I pointed towards a man who was making a pass at the third uninterested co-ed. “What about him? Feed and release.”
She growled quietly and crossed her arms. “I lost my appetite.”
Gawain snorted, “Stop pouting about your niece’s private life. Shut the fuck up and poach for your man-food.”
“What would you do?”
“What I would do is irrelevant.”
“Because you can’t tell me without leading my ability.”
“No, because you’re being irrational. You seem to have pigeon-holed Sookie into your fantasies for her happily ever after. There are more ways for her to be happy than with Alcide…”
“Don’t make me out to be a bad guy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting her to have a happily ever after, especially after the shitty ‘once upon a nightmare’ she started out with.”
“There’s no denying that, but you need to recognize she won’t be happy if she’s just conforming to your idea of happiness… Leave her the fuck alone about Alcide. Stop rubbing her nose in the fact he’s an option based on the braid.”
I was sure I’d never seen or heard of Gawain behaving so protectively of anyone… He wasn’t just defending Sookie’s decisions, this was aegis…
Given the way Gawain and Lynn were oscillating between ignoring each other to glaring at each other, I was beginning to wonder if Gawain would need the keys to one of my other houses.
I wasn’t sure they should be alone together.
As much as I tried to watch to be sure a Faepire versus Faepire brawl wouldn’t erupt in public, Sookie’s rapidly deteriorating mood was chipping away at my concentration.
When we originally parted ways at the house, she was simply unhappy and unenthusiastic, but by the time Lynn accepted an invitation to dance from someone she could feed from, Sookie was livid. At one point I felt as though my arms had been grabbed. The sensation wasn’t as intense as what I was sure Alcide was capable of, perhaps an overzealous attempt to get her to shut the fuck up and listen to his argument… But chest pains, accompanied by a bizarre nausea, began just a moment later.
I was actually bitter about the fact that Pam was blissfully ignorant, and very much enjoying her date with Rowena.
And as I followed Lynn to the back of the club so I could supervise her feeding, I was only more embittered by ‘happy’ sounds coming from Shawn’s dates.
I was the one who needed to fuck something… my blue balls were exactly why I’d slipped and said something to cause a debate with Pam and Gawain…
But Sookie’s mood didn’t make me think that would be possible.
Lynn’s first meal wasn’t pleased to see me join them… He argued for me to leave because he wasn’t ‘into guys’ until Lynn caught his attention… She successfully held him, fed from his wrist, healed his marking, and led him to the back door without incident.
She was rightfully proud of herself… and asked if she could ‘fly solo’ for the next one. She’d taken the edge off of her hunger, but she wanted to continue practicing. Her goal was to resist dropping her fangs every time blood or fucking was mentioned.
Since she understood I’d be just on the other side of the door, and she didn’t seem to be struggling to control herself during the first feeding, I agreed…
After watching the crowd for another fifteen minutes, she led another man to the lounge… I stood in the hallway listening for what seemed like forever… Shawn’s party with Amber and Candace continued, Lynn molested her victim for nearly half an hour, and Gawain found his own entertainment for the evening and occupied the employee break room.
After the back door closed behind Lynn’s second victim, she leapt up to hug me with her arms and legs.
At least her feedings were going smoothly.
“The best part is that I held my fangs back until I was really spun up!”
I actually managed to chuckle, “The best part is that you’re already feeding with the patience of a Vampire who’s a couple of months old. In the summer, we’ll be able to roll out of bed and come directly to Glamour.”
She tightened her arms around my neck and asked, “You really think I’m doing that well?”
“I really do… When Shreveport runs out of hopeful models, we’ll interview for various jobs. Sookie’s idea was brilliant.”
If I began interviewing for mall and hotel personnel, Maguire wouldn’t be exposed to the comings and goings of strangers every night.
Shawn cracked the door to his lounge, holding his jacket to cover himself, and asked, “Interviews?”
I laughed at his modesty, “Sookie didn’t like the idea of having her aunt feed from strippers. She ran an ad for models. The auditions have been held just after sunset.”
“No shit!? That is brilliant… That’s the kind of shit Brandon would come up with too. ”
One of his dates began pulling on his arm to take him back to their fun.
“I think you’re being summoned.”
Lynn giggled and finally put her feet down. “Greedy bitches… they’re already dehydrated from cumming so many times.”
She wasn’t exaggerating… the scent coming from his room was rank.
I offered, “The crowd is thinning out. You should finish in there so you can spoil yourself with extra feedings.”
He nodded and leaned back. “Sounds good. I’ll be out in a few.”
Lynn had already lead her third victim to the lounge, and Shawn was being wantonly thanked for his services as a DD at the back door while he tried to explain he only had a babysitter on Fridays and Saturdays…
I’d almost numbed myself to Sookie’s unpleasant errand, and only thanks to the improvement in Lynn’s mood, but that’s when I felt as though I’d been shot in my left leg.
Pam was sated, completely content…
Lynn was forcing herself to clear her plate because she hadn’t been hungry enough to justify a third donor…
It was Sookie…
Not only was she in pain, but she was panicking…
I waited a moment, hoping she’d simply knocked her shin against something in Alcide’s house…
No such luck.
The pain and panic only worsened… so much so it was painful for me to walk to the employee lounge.
I barged in on Gawain with his dates and all of them tried to cover themselves… Normally, I would have laughed at the way Gawain covered his nipples with his fingertips…
“Sookie’s leg has been injured… Is she accident prone?”
“I’m not bonded to her. It’s hard to tell… If I have to guess…”
He abandoned his pile of bimbos to find his jeans to begin pulling them on. “You do.”
“She’s in a lot of pain…”
“Was she driving? Had she left Alcide’s? What mood is she in?”
I felt as though I was punched in the cheek… Sookie was being battered..
“I think she’s still there. She’s fighting…”
“Are you waiting for her to be murdered?”
I rolled my eyes. “No… I’m bringing Shawn’s wallet and my car keys to you…”
A sudden jolt of pain shot through my entire leg… it didn’t bode well… neither did the next one, especially since there was added pain in my arm.
Gawain looked sickened when he held his hand out to take the wallet and keys. “Go. I’ve got Lynn covered. Go.”
I wasn’t bored.
In the four minutes I spent in the air on the way to Paramount Acres, I repeated how bored I wasn’t instead of thinking about how much more intense the pain in my leg was becoming, or the frequent spikes of intensity racking through the rest of my body…
It was easier to focus on the fact that I’d discovered the cure to boredom than imagining what was happening to Sookie.
I took advantage of the privacy fence around the neighbor’s back yard to land, and before I opened the gate, I could hear heavy breathing.
I could smell blood… Sookie’s and a Were’s.
But I was still too far away from her…
The door to her car was open…
There were fresh skid marks on Herveaux’s driveway…
And there was blood smeared on the For Sale sign on the next lawn…
I found Sookie leaning against the air conditioning compressor between Jackson’s house and the empty one… She was panting, covered with blood, holding a grill brush…
The reason for the pain in her leg was an obvious break… exposed bone.
She looked up at me with the one eye that wasn’t swollen shut and grinned. “I didn’t win, but I think it was a tie.”
She shook her head and pointed towards the back yard. “His crazy ex… he left, but she’s why.”
I was almost sure her adrenaline rush was responsible for why every part of my body wasn’t in agony. It didn’t seem like her attacker had missed anything.
“Is she still alive?”
She winced when she held the grill brush up to offer it to me. “Yeah… but I fucked her up…”
The bristles and the blade at the end were caked with blood.
“Did she shift? Have you been bitten?”
She shook her head. “I wish she had shifted. Nasty bitch is just a Fox… She’s unconscious… this is as far away from her as I could get without stopping to catch my breath.”
“Why not the fork?”
She snorted, “Debbie was faster,” and moved her arm to show me six puncture wounds in her abdomen.
I don’t know how, but I actually thought to use my phone to take a photo of her before kneeling next to her broken leg.
“If I don’t reset this…”
She interrupted, “Don’t warn me. I’ll chicken-”
Only because she didn’t want a warning…
She screamed when I pulled her ankle so the sections of bone weren’t overlapping… as injured as she was, that was when she started crying… Since I almost fell over from sharing the pain with her, she was allowed.
I moved to her side, biting into my wrist and putting it to her mouth… and with my other hand, I lifted Sookie’s shirt to look at her stab wounds…
It was amazing she was still conscious.
There was no way all three stabs had missed her organs… and they still weren’t completely healed when Sookie turned away from my wrist because I’d already healed.
“You need more.”
She nodded. “Debbie’s waking up though… we should get out of here.”
No, we shouldn’t.
“I’ll be back… Stay where you are for now.”
“If you aren’t here to help, I can’t get far… Careful. She’s still got the fork.”
The fork in question had been driven through Debbie’s shoulder and was the first thing to be noticed about the Were’s body…
She might have been regaining consciousness, but given that the yard had been splattered with her blood, I agreed with Sookie’s estimation of their brawl ending in a tie… Both of them were very nearly dead.
I removed the fork and pushed her over to lie on her back, but it took a moment for her to focus on my face.
Most of her face was stippled with imprints of the grill brush’s bristles, her arms and hands were covered with slices from the blade, several of her ribs were caved in, and before Sookie stabbed the Were’s shoulder, she’d stabbed her chest… Debbie Pelt’s erratic heartbeat was testimony to Sookie’s aim.
She rasped, “Fucking Vamps… Scavenging?”
“Asking if you have any last words. You attacked the wrong girl.”
“Fuck you… Alcide’s mine.”
“How very heartwarming.” I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialed.
She breathed, “Calling an ambulance?”
I was sure a mortician would be able to cover the abrasions on her cheek, so I bent over just long enough to twist her head and break her neck…
It would have been more fun to stand on her throat, but as soon as I broke Debbie’s neck, I heard Sookie gasp.
Flood answered, “What do you need at this hour?”
I was surprised he was actually awake… Any time I’d ever called him after midnight, I’d woken him.
“Was Debbie Pelt a member of your pack?”
“Yeah. Is… What’s going on?”
“My pet is an acquaintance of Alcide Herveaux. Debbie Pelt attacked my pet on his property…”
The outburst wasn’t Flood… if I wasn’t mistaken, it was Jackson Herveaux.
I offered, “Darwin Award nominee or not, you still prefer to bury your own, yes?”
Flood growled, “Yeah, we do… You expect me to believe your pet bested a Were?”
“I think they both would have bled to death in the next few minutes. I asked Debbie if she had any last words before I finished the job. Her message to her loved ones was, ‘Fuck you. Alcide’s mine.’ Very eloquent.”
“Why was your pet fighting over Alcide Herveaux?”
“They’re friends. I’m not sure Debbie Pelt was behaving rationally when she attacked. I’ll learn more once I can talk to Sookie, but I was more concerned with killing the bitch who stabbed my pet with a grilling fork several times, broke her leg and beat her until she was hardly recognizable.”
Flood growled again, “Herveaux’s house, right?”
I corrected, “The house for sale next door to his.”
“I’ll be right there.”
As I returned to Sookie’s side, I could hear a large engine barreling through the neighborhood.
Sookie whispered, “You killed her.”
I nodded. “Not that it matters. She was bleeding internally. What happened?”
She sighed, “I was leaving… Alcide and I said pretty much everything that needed to be said. We were on the porch, he’d just walked me out… He got a call. Jack was at Hair Of The Dog, you know, the Were bar… anyway, Jack got trashed and picked a fight. Three younger Weres messed him up pretty bad so Alcide went up to take him to the hospital…”
“But you think Debbie is why he left?”
She nodded, “Now I do, yeah… Alcide had just turned the corner when Debbie walked out from between the houses across the street. She lied to get him out of the way.”
“Wherever Jack was, he was with the Packmaster when I called.”
She nodded and lifted her hand to ask for my phone, arguing to call Alcide and warn him just in case Debbie had set him up to be ‘jumped’ as well, but the first truck was locking up its brakes in the Herveauxs’ driveway and there was already a second one racing through the neighborhood.
Instead of wasting time making calls, I gave her more blood… as her adrenaline rush waned, I was feeling more of her injuries that hadn’t healed the first time…
And I was left to wonder what I could have prevented if I hadn’t wasted two minutes trying to rationalize her injuries and another two minutes explaining to Gawain.
I was just pulling my wrist away from Sookie’s mouth when Jackson crashed to his knees next to her.
He cringed even though the scratches on her face were mostly healed. “Ohhhhh, little girl… what did Debbie do to you?”
Sookie tried to push herself up slightly and answered, “Jealous hissy fit… She had somebody call and say you were hurt so Alcide took off…”
“I know. I called him on the way home… How are you feeling?”
“Like I got hit by a truck, but better than I was… She was looking for a fight, snarling I should stick to my own kind… I really wasn’t in the damn mood for a pissing match, but when I tried to get into my car, she slammed the door on my leg… punches were thrown, and she drove me back to the neighbor’s yard. She pulled some Chuck Norris shit and broke my leg when I was reaching over the deck railing for the grill tools… It was kind of a blur. I’m signing up for kickboxing lessons.”
He chuckled, “Little girl, you fucked up a Were barehanded. You don’t need lessons.”
I lifted her shirt just enough to check on her wounds… After being given blood twice, the stab wounds were still pink.
Jack raised his eyebrow and shook his head. “And you already gave her blood?”
I corrected, “Twice,” and queued the picture from my phone.
“Goddamn! There’s no way anyone’s going to argue… I’m sure Flood’s…” He paused and watched the second truck fishtail in the street before skidding to a stop in the driveway. “I’m sure Flood’s skeptical about shit, but once he gets here, seeing the scene’s going to fix that.”
Once Alcide watched Sookie push herself from the ground to sit on the compressor, he made a valiant effort to seem cool towards her. It was an epic failure…
While Jack reiterated Sookie’s account of the attack, Alcide watched Sookie.
While Sookie used my phone to call Gawain and tell him ‘it’ was a long story, ‘it’ was taken care of, and we’d explain once we were home, Alcide hung on every word she said.
And if he hadn’t already been obvious enough, he kicked Debbie’s body after seeing Sookie’s ‘before’ photo.
Sookie wasn’t completely healed until after a third ‘dose’ of my blood, but I couldn’t be bothered to care if she’d had enough to complete a bond. Taking her to an emergency room, waiting for scans and X-rays, to make sure she was healed ‘enough’ wasn’t an option.
Leaving her to hemorrhage while we rested wasn’t something I was willing to risk.
I’d barely waited five minutes between each turn… and I was prepared to bite my wrist again, but she proved her health by walking and stretching. Stiff, but improving quickly.
Fortunately, when Flood arrived he wasn’t interested in the drama surrounding Sookie’s injuries… He knew better than to assume I’d randomly select a Were to murder before Jack volunteered his theory that Debbie went ‘Single White Female’ based on presumptions and explained that Sookie and Alcide only knew each other because Jack had dated my child. The photo I’d taken of Sookie was superfluous by the time I sent it to his cell phone. I didn’t expect he’d need to see it, but with my luck, Debbie’s family would assume she’d been innocent.
In spite of how anxious Lynn was (and by then, Pam), I had Sookie stop at Glamour before we went home…
I’d given Sookie a couple of pints of my blood and I didn’t want to feed from Lynn’s reserves.
Sookie understood the reason for the detour, but she asked me to hurry because she wanted to have her ‘adrenaline crash’ in the comfort of her bathtub.
Even though it was only a few minutes before closing time, the three ‘desperate harpies’ from earlier were still dancing… I didn’t even have to leave the back hallway to feed.
Everyone was waiting in the foyer when we walked into the house, as expected… and they all gaped at Sookie because she was still covered with blood.
I asked for Sookie’s shirt and sent her to take her bath, promising to explain to everyone… Without preamble, she pulled her T-shirt off and handed it to me on her way upstairs, and I led everyone to the kitchen since it seemed to be the designated gathering room.
I spread Sookie’s shirt out over the island and pointed to the holes. “Pam, anatomically, what did those stab wounds damage?”
The color drained from her face. “Intestines. Bladder… Sookie was stabbed?”
I nodded. “With the three-inch tines of a grilling fork… Apparently, Debbie Pelt was stalking her ex-boyfriend and decided Sookie was an unacceptable variable… She attacked Sookie. The first clue was the pain in my leg which came when Debbie slammed Sookie’s calf in her car door… the two of them fought until they collapsed. I’m almost certain they would’ve been found dead if I hadn’t needed to give my blood to Sookie last night… I had to feed Sookie from my wrist three times to heal her…”
Once again, the photo of Sookie’s injuries was shown.
“I’m not sure how, but she was making jokes when I arrived… When was it that Sookie officially decided to break up with Alcide?”
Pam’s jaw dropped because I mentioned it in front of Lynn, but Gawain offered, “Yesterday afternoon, after she had the time to process his reactions to their conversation.”
“Yesterday… and then Hadley paid a visit providing testimony as to how aggressive and unhinged Debbie Pelt can be.”
Lynn shook her head and breathed, “I’ll kill that bitch…”
“Too late. I snapped the cunt’s neck… but it should make you feel better to know she was already drowning in her own blood. Sookie put up an impressive fight. I think broken ribs punctured Debbie’s lung and I’m sure Debbie’s heart was, at least, nicked when Sookie managed to take the fork away from Debbie.”
Gawain sighed, “Of everything we learned from Hadley, the visit couldn’t have just been about Debbie Pelt.”
“Couldn’t it? Think about it… Empathy was the only other lesson we learned last night, and Lynn’s visit tonight would have revealed that, but Debbie wasn’t mentioned. Debbie is the only unique lesson with relevance for us from last night’s visit with Hadley… It’s too late for Lynn to have a life-saving hysterectomy. Corbett can’t be resurrected, neither can Julie… Lynn had already gleaned images of Brandon and Sookie investigated to learn his name. It was only a matter of hours before he was located… The only other items of interest were that Jupiter Cataliades went to law school, so I might offer a job to him, and I know to avoid the Kingdom of Gawain until you take the throne… Your grandmother said ‘enlightenment and comeuppance’… I’m not saying there aren’t collateral perks to information learned in the braid, but Lynn had a sense Shawn was the reason she was there… Her insistence is what led to Brandon’s discovery as well… Pam’s visit took her directly to Bon Temps, and she went to Linda’s home first… And in three nights, that Linda will rise as a Vampire, in the same situation Lynn is in, except she’ll be raising two telepathic girls with her brother’s assistance instead of a little Were with her niece’s help… I doubt there is any science to the braid. Faeries aren’t that accommodating… I’m just suggesting, stressing, that when it happens, we should look for anything that could translate as a threat in our version of events. We completely dismissed that Hadley had been confronted just for dining with her stepbrother. Sookie was only talking to Alcide.”
Lynn closed her eyes and sighed, “We really did… I mean, between how crazy the braid thing is, and how thrown off we all were… all the little differences distracted us…”
Gawain grumbled, “And Sookie almost died for it… That’s why Eric should be King.”
“You could rule from Limburg. You already have the castle.”
I was paying for saying Faeries aren’t accommodating… how ironic.
“You’re forgetting one very imposing problem with your little fantasy.”
“His name is Appius.”
Even if I wanted to be a King, I’d automatically be surrounded by enemies because my wonderful Maker could influence my politics. Centuries of loyalties and allies worldwide, but no one would trust anyone in power with a Maker like Appius.
“My dick’s been hard for that errand for centuries. Say the word.”
“I’ll let you know.”
“Good… I’ll sharpen my favorite sword.”
“That should wait… How long are you planning to postpone your Shifter errand?”
“I was planning to do it tonight… Is there a reason why I shouldn’t?”
“Perhaps he should live long enough to claim Maguire and then relinquish custody to Sookie.”
Pam raised an eyebrow. “Shawn backdated a living will… less questions…”
I nodded, “And since we know someone who can glamour Shifters…”
Lynn raised her hand. “Hitch… He’s got family in Texas. I say kill him twice to make sure it sticks. If they find out he fathered a kid, we could end up starting a battle royale. I’m pretty sure a healthy grandmother would trump a dead one in family court.”
Pam looked like she smelled shit when she sucked air past her teeth. “Good point. I’m with her.”
I nodded. “I didn’t realize he has living family. I withdraw my proposal…”
Gawain crooned, “He’s so magnanimous…”
I snorted, “Asshole. Go play.”
“Play? What I do is an art.”
“Nitrogen, Gawain? Really? There are much easier ways to kill people. Do something simple.”
Pam offered, “Coffee pots are my new favorite… take the target down, bash his head against the floor, fill the pitcher from the coffee pot and drop it… It looks like a household accident.”
Gawain licked his lips and shook his head. “If only you didn’t love your Maker too much to leave him… You’d be legendary as a Knight.”
Yes. She. Would.
I chuckled, “If she could only learn to travel light.”
She shrugged dismissively and asked, “Field trip? Lynn? Fresh air as opposed to resisting the urge to coddle Sookie?”
Lynn inflated her cheeks before sighing, “It’s up to Eric. I could probably use a distraction.”
I warned, “Your hands stay clean. If anyone connects Merlotte to Maguire, your fingerprints are on record… and… I’ll take you for your first kill.”
She grinned and promised to stay in the car, but after a moment, thanks to her ability, it dawned on her who her first victim would be… her smile became beautifully evil.
Since it didn’t seem as though I could ignore Sookie’s mood, even though I knew she was safe in the privacy of her own bathroom, I joined her after my shower…
She didn’t seem to know which unpleasant emotion to settle on, but fear and cynicism were leading the race…
The scene in her bathroom couldn’t have been more contradictory. I was greeted with a cloud of coconut scented steam… her face was so peaceful she could have been mistaken for sleeping… and an empty can of coconut milk in the bin was responsible for the bathwater being opaque, and the scent was actually relaxing.
I set a Malibu and Coke on the edge of the tub for her before sitting on the commode.
She didn’t bother opening her eyes. “Privacy is an abstract concept for y’all, isn’t it?”
“Should I make the camera crew leave?”
She snorted, “Funny… Before Gawain left, he told me to remind you to choose a birthday so your subjects can begin preparing for Koningsdag. He’s vying for a date in the summer to encourage nudity at the parades.”
“He’s enjoying the news of another me being King.”
“I know… He says Johan’s in Australia, just in case you’re curious.”
“I’m not… Speaking of curiosity though, keeping your secret is actually becoming a risk… If Lynn doesn’t have answers soon, she’s likely to tar and feather us… She tricked us into revealing you’re dating Alcide last night, which is probably why she was pushing earlier. Every evasion, because of her ability, leads her to more answers.”
“So I couldn’t just tell her I don’t want to get married and have kids, but Alcide does…”
“No. She was trying to argue against that possibility at Glamour… She suggested you could slow the course he wants to take.”
“He was thinking August… Au… gust… How am I supposed to slow him down if he gives me whiplash? That’s shotgun wedding fast, considering we’re fresh off of a two-month break.”
“Is that why you were livid?”
She cut her eyes at me and snorted, “PMS doesn’t make me mood-swingy, but you should stay away from Steel Magnolias and ice cream if you’re sensing that much of my moods. You don’t want to end up weepy and bloated…”
I chuckled, “Noted.”
“What pissed me off was my fault… I was so, I don’t know, fried… when I went over there, I didn’t think about showering first. He smelled what we’d been up to…”
“But he put the pieces together all wrong… You were quiet and laid back the other night and Gawain is the one who brought up preemptively killing Sam. You’re my aunt’s Maker, so he made a familial connection… He was hurt and confused… He suggested I had ‘daddy issues’, that it was Gawain who spun me up… and I actually considered letting him think that for a minute. Hell, to be honest, I came up with a perfectly good rationalization.”
“And what was that?”
“That the lie was kinder… letting him think I had issues, that I’m attracted to ‘old farts’ because my father died when I was little… I was chickening out. Hardcore. I finally pulled up my big girl panties and told him he was moving too fast and explained that I’m only taking custody of Maguire as a storefront for Aunt Linda…. And even if we’d been heading in that direction, I’m putting my family first… He gets that though. He really does… I mean, he used to stay with his mom during full moons instead of running. We’re parting on friendly terms, but only time will tell if the ‘still friends’ thing will hold up…”
She stopped talking when my phone began ringing.
Lynn answered, “Since Sookie’s in the tub, would you mind turning the speaker on, please?”
I pressed the button and said, “You’re on speaker.”
“Sookie Blanchard Stackhouse! That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard!” Sookie pinched her face together and sunk into the tub. “I can take Maguire to the Were sitter Shawn uses!”
Since Gawain was telling Lynn to shut the fuck up, she couldn’t hear me tell her Sookie was hiding underwater.
I had to wait and by the time Lynn was finished criticizing Sookie’s decision, I was worried Sookie would drown herself.
As soon as Sookie came up for air, I explained, “That was not a setup.”
She shook her head. “No. This is karmic. The universe loves a good laugh at my expense and this is what I get for sneaking into my aunt’s brain.” She lifted her drink from the edge of the tub and began guzzling as though she was taking part in a fraternity game.
Lynn continued to rant and rave that putting family first didn’t mean anyone had to place their life on hold while Sookie finished her drink and when the glass was empty, Sookie yelled, “Says the bitch who learned how to do her own damn plumbing because she wouldn’t stop sneaking her paychecks into Gran’s account long enough to pay for a new toilet! Shit! That might just run in the family or something! You moonlighted as a cab driver for cash to play Santa every year for THREE kids! You let your bills fall behind so Jason could have sports equipment. You’ve been telling men to fuck off for as long as I can remember because you had higher priorities… Pick up a damn Dumas or a Thackeray once in a while you romance-whore! You need to just shut your fang-hole and realize I didn’t ‘ruin my chances’ with my damn ‘soul mate’. I just put a beautiful dress back on the rack because it didn’t fit.”
Lynn was quiet for a moment, but she was calming down. She finally asked, “How didn’t it fit?”
Gawain snorted, “It’s as big as my arm.”
Sookie covered her face and sunk into the tub again while everyone else laughed.
Lynn giggled, “Yank her out before the fool-child drowns herself, Eric.”
I tapped the top of Sookie’s head and she only emerged enough to peek at me.
“Lynn’s waiting for an answer.”
She growled as she pushed out of the water to offer, “He treats me like a princess.”
She said princess like Pam said rayon.
Lynn cooed, “Awww honey, he got the wrong girl, huh?”
“Yup… Jack was thinking I’m badass for taking down a Were, Alcide was thinking he wished he could have protected me.”
“That’s a shame… Now why the hell didn’t you just say that‽”
“I have a fresh three-pack of Crazy glue in my purse… Please don’t make me use it.”
That was my cue. “I’m not taking any chances. I have to die for the day.”
I ended the call and slid my phone back into my pocket.
Sookie grinned and offered, “Thank you… now vamoose. I need to shower before I’m completely pickled.”
“Are you sure you can manage without injuring yourself?”
She snorted, “Hopefully… If I live through my shower, I’m going to curl up in bed with a book. I need to do something about my nerves… I didn’t have time to be scared when Debbie came after me, and I’m not a fan of how it all hit me at once.”
“It’s proof of an impressive survival instinct… It’ll pass, and hopefully you won’t waste any time regretting Debbie Pelt’s death. She brought it on herself.”
“Would you like to kill someone tomorrow night? Eventually you’ll be desensitized to an extent.”
She closed her eyes and laughed through her nose. “Maybe. I’ll check my schedule to make sure I can squeeze in body-dumping. Wouldn’t want any loose ends… About earlier…”
Good… I was wondering how to bring that up…
“I didn’t realize how insulting my remarks were… I was frustrated and overzealous, and I apologize for taking that out on you.”
I hadn’t had the time to try to calculate how she’d take my apology, but if I had, I still wouldn’t have anticipated the way she just stared back at me.
I offered, “Pam brought it to my attention that I was flippant…”
She blurted, “THAT‽”
I nodded. “What were you talking about?”
“I was going to thank you for saving my life… Jesus… That ‘sloppy seconds’ thing was tonight… Damn. It’s been a long freakin’ night.”
“You’ll hear no argument from me… You’re welcome… And I’m still sorry I insulted you.”
She sighed, “I already laid into Gawain and Pam for butting in… I know you were fried… You were really shitty, but it’s not like you were being hateful just for the sake of being hateful. I’ve heard worse… and hell, it’s not like you said anything that wasn’t true. You just can’t polish a turd… I was fooling around with you while my boyfriend was across town talking to a real estate agent about the most baby-proofable house he’d walked through… You couldn’t have said anything that made me feel more like trash than I already did.”
She was not trash.
“Being in bed with me made you feel like trash?”
“No. Not you… anyone… going behind Alcide’s back. I was already planning to break up with him, but if I walked in on him with someone else, I would’ve been pissed and hurt… Those models couldn’t have gotten here at a better time… I would’ve hated myself for getting more carried away than I already had…”
And that was one of the distinctions that kept Sookie from being ‘trash’… she actually gave a fuck about how her actions affected others… an endangered species.
“See… you don’t begrudge me for it now that you’re calmed down. You weren’t snippy with me once you came upstairs. You didn’t hold your frustration against me when I needed help… those two went after you like Christians on science… If anyone needs to apologize, it’s them.”
And the insanity was she was completely convinced of that… I might not have done anything untoward, but I definitely could have handled our interruption with more tact.
“Perhaps, since they’ve known you for slightly longer than I have, they’re already familiar with how forgiving you are.”
“Forgiving my ass. I might have a torqued perspective on things because I can read minds, but I’m a grudge-carrying bitch when I have an axe to grind. I am not a damn pushover.”
She made a fair point… It was possible Pam and Gawain spent a bulk of the time I was with Lynn interviewing Sookie about the Stackhouses…
They hadn’t seen the way Sookie argued for her aunt’s life. Pam hadn’t seen the way Sookie dealt with Jackson and Alcide…
In fact, for three nights, Gawain and Pam more than likely only witnessed Sookie’s anxiety and fears for her aunt’s life. And Merlotte’s violent imagination probably didn’t improve Sookie’s demeanor.
She didn’t shrink away when she found a Vampire on the lawn. She negotiated with me.
She didn’t hide from the trespassers. She found a weapon.
She didn’t let a bitch attack her. She fought back.
And we were all witness to Lynn’s ‘come to Jesus’ regarding her treatment of Jackson Herveaux.
Fuck them… I’d been a blue-balled asshole, but Sookie really didn’t need to be defended.
She would have kneed my balls into my throat if she thought I deserved it.
I curled my finger. “Come here.”
She shook her head. “Ohhhh noooo. I’m staying right where I am. This tub is my force field.”
“You realize I’ve seen every part of your body, don’t you?”
“Yup.” She popped the ‘P’ sound.
“And I’m almost positive I can penetrate your force field.”
She snickered, “I don’t think anyone could say that without sounding like cheesy Star Wars porn.”
“You’re right… Now that you mention it, I’m picturing crotchless storm trooper armor…” While she was giggling, I added, “Would Chewbacca be considered bestiality or yiffing?”
She hissed, “I’m… picturing… an… Ewok… orgy.”
I stood and offered my hand to help her stand and she groaned about how I was a horrible influence while she lifted herself from the water.
“Just a kiss goodnight.”
“A kiss where?”
I chuckled and ran my finger over her bottom lip. “Your mouth.”
“My mouth to your mouth, right?”
I nodded. “Worried I have a loophole in mind?”
“I’d hate for there to be any confusion.”
“No you wouldn’t. You want an excuse to behave and you can’t depend on any interruptions.”
She nodded. “Maybe a little of that.”
She smirked. “I think we’ve established I’m a chicken shit.”
I stepped into the tub to loom over her. “Chicken shits don’t engage in hand to hand combat and consider acute internal bleeding for both parties to be a tie… You’re anything but a chicken shit.”
When she opened her mouth to continue her stall tactics, I kissed her… pinned as she was against the wall, I managed to keep my hands to myself, leaving Sookie in control and free to do her worst to me…
My hair was pulled, my lips were nibbled, my senses were filled with the sweetness of her skin and the richness of her blood… just a few drops from pricking her tongue more than made up for the dregs I’d fed from at Glamour.
It really didn’t matter how long she could control her breathing… it wouldn’t have been long enough.
When she pulled away, she panted, “You’re behaving.”
“For now…” I leaned over to whisper into her ear, “It won’t last long considering I can feel how much you want me to touch you. Goodnight.”
It actually hurt to walk away from her…
Hours left until dawn… reading to fill my time… hearing a report about Merlotte’s death…
My night ended with that fucking kiss.