Ever since Sookie walked into Fangtasia in her sinfully, deliciously tight little sundress, my existence had improved.
Of course, Pam had something to entertain herself with, teasing me for my interest in the little telepath…
But I’d found something fun to do. Pursuing Sookie Stackhouse had become my favorite sport.
A masochistic endeavor since that Human could deliver blue balls with unparalleled accuracy.
Her silly little notions of devotion to that arrogant tool Compton only gave me the collateral enjoyment of knowing she was inching away from him and towards me…
Well… that could’ve been said right up to the point of returning to Bon Temps from Jackson. Seeing Compton get uninvited from her home was no shock to anyone since he’d savagely raped her to repay the favor of saving his pathetic ‘life’. Getting my own un-invitation was another matter entirely…
One that I forgave her for before my feet were on her porch. Thanks to Compton, Ball, Pelt, Newlin and the Wolves of the Jackson Pack, Sookie had more than enough reason to be frazzled…
And truth be told… I hadn’t been the same since she said she trusted me.
In the six days since we’d been back in my Area, I’d left two messages to check on her condition and sent flowers. In the interest of giving her time to recuperate, I hadn’t been back to Bon Temps to check on her personally. I might have done more in spite of that, but I was busy cleaning up the mess from being out of town. Not only had I been dressed down by the Queen for not telling her Compton was missing, but Compton’s Maker had spies in Fangtasia… Pam and I had bodies to hide.
I’d taken my time leaving my house since business would be sluggish the night after Christmas. I’d considered taking the drive out to Bon Temps to see Sookie in person since she hadn’t returned any of my phone calls, but somehow I managed to refrain. That didn’t mean that I wouldn’t end up paying a visit later, but since there was such a profound peace to her mood, I assumed she was resting.
Her emotions had been meditative for me since we’d gone to Dallas. Any time I was bored I’d focus on Sookie. Where she was, her physical and emotional state… Pam had caught me doing it enough times that I didn’t care anymore. She’d started calling me a ‘couch potato’ because I could ignore anything when the ‘Sookie Show’ was playing.
I was sifting through a pile of mail, not even in my seat yet, when Pam entered my office.
“You’re late tonight. Anything wrong?”
“No. We’ve been doing this long enough to know that brothels aren’t even busy the night after Christmas… You look stunning.” She was wearing one of the many staged costumes that she usually wore at the bar, but she’d snuck some of her Christmas gifts into the ensemble as accessories… namely the jeweled Louboutin slingbacks and black diamond choker. If I hadn’t said something, she’d have pouted.
“I know. We have a bit of a situation in the bar.”
“Has Ginger’s head caved in?”
“Still waiting for that… Compton is here with Sookie’s brother.”
“He’s giving her some time off and raping Jason in the interim. How sweet. Who says the spirit of Christmas is lost?”
She chuckled, “I don’t know why they’re here. Bill insists on seeing you and every time Stackhouse opens that precious little mouth of his, Mr. Mainstreaming shushes him.”
“Jason is not the Stackhouse I want to see.”
“Speak for yourself. He’s… alluring. Shall I show them back?”
“By all means… and yes, you can fuck with Bill before you do…”
She hummed Here Comes Santa Claus on her way out and I opened the only piece of mail that wasn’t a bill or invoice…
I chuckled as she offered Bill a True Blood so that he wouldn’t rape anyone and blame starvation later, but as soon as I saw the scrawled greeting of the letter, “Dear Eric,” I wasn’t interested in anything else.
“I’m sorry that it has to be this way, but you know better than anyone else what I’ve been through in the past couple of months. I need to get out while I still can. This cat’s running out of lives and the people I love keep getting hurt. I know I agreed to read minds for you, but let’s face it, you’ve done just fine all this time without a telepath. You don’t need me around, especially when I’m a trouble magnet. I haven’t told anywhere where I’m going. I’m about to write a letter like this to my brother too. I just want to live my life in peace. I can’t really handle any more funerals.
I guess I’m writing to you for 2 reasons.
The first, I’m sure Bill’s going to accuse you of doing something to me so I figure if he tries to tattle, you’ll have this. That’s why it’s notarized.
Most importantly, I don’t want you to think I’m not grateful. I can spare you details, but you’ve done plenty for me. You’ve saved my life and ‘Thank You’ doesn’t cover how much I appreciate what you’ve done to help me when I needed it.
I flipped the page over, hoping for more even though what she’d written hadn’t taken the whole page… looking at the postmark to see that she’d mailed it from Bon Temps on the 23rd…
Re-reading it… and letting alarm set in before I realized that I had company.
Without making her ask, I passed the ‘Dear John’ to Pam to solve her curiosity and sat back to hold the arms of my chair… If I didn’t, I was going to rip Compton’s head from his shoulders… Dallas was my fault because I never should have offered Sookie’s services, but everything else she was running from had been his doing.
“Say what you need to say, Compton. I want you the fuck out of my office as soon as possible.”
He narrowed his already beady eyes at me. “Is that because you need to go to Sookie? What have you done with her?”
“Jason received a letter from Sookie today. She claims to be moving, relocating on a whim. That isn’t like her. We want to know what you’ve done with her.”
“The same could be said of you. Why assume I had anything to do with it?”
“Because I obviously don’t have her. Who else…?”
“Do you think I have her in my pocket!? Compton, if you were half as smart as you think you are, you’d still be too daft to think your way out of a wet paper bag. Don’t waste my time playing Sherlock when you don’t rate as a sidekick… If I had Sookie as you suggest, I wouldn’t be here.”
“You know where she is.”
“You know NOTHING… I’m assuming you weren’t sent a goodbye letter.”
“This proves how stupid you are. If I had taken Sookie for my own purposes and forced her to pen farewell addresses, yours would be the first one drafted.”
“You were sent a letter?”
“I need to read it.”
“No. You don’t. You need to do the world a favor and end yourself. You’re the bulk of her reasons to leave.”
“I. Love. Sookie. I’ve…” I’d had as much of his professed love for her as I could take.
“You’ve what? You publicized your relationship with her until her grandmother was murdered for being associated with you? Yes… You left her alone to be attacked by a Maenad? Check… You let her go to the church and be taken captive by fundamentalists? Affirmative… You left the scene of a firefight without checking on her wellbeing? Without remorse… You needed her to rescue you from your own Maker? A task she underwent while recovering from being staked only so you could nearly kill her in the process of raping her? Definitely… You did all that. You’re such a fucking romantic that you make me sick. I’m sure you do think she should feel lucky to have you. Meanwhile, YOU are the one who didn’t get a goodbye. Go fuck yourself.”
Jason shook his head and looked at Bill. “You raped my sister?”
Bill leaned away and huffed, “It wasn’t that simple. I couldn’t control myself.”
“Right… you could’ve tried a better excuse, asshole. Fuck… ‘the devil made me do it’ ain’t gonna work…” Good for him. “Eric, right?”
I nodded. “Eric Northman. I’d just opened my letter from Sookie while I was waiting for Pam to show you back. She explained that she was leaving and said that she wasn’t telling anyone about her destination.”
He nodded and sat forward to hold out an envelope. “I got mine when I got home from work. She left everything, even her car, behind. I called Sam, her boss, and she didn’t even quit first.”
I took the letter from him and motioned for Pam to let him see the one I was sent. Without prompting, she stood between the chairs so Bill wouldn’t be able to read mine.
I’m sorry to leave like this. I love you and I wouldn’t take off if I didn’t feel like I have to. You were right, Jason. Being with Bill is what got Gran killed. I can’t forgive myself for being so stupid. Now that so many people know about me being a telepath, it seems like I’m not ever going to get any peace. And it’s not Vampires, Jason. Don’t go hating on all of them because I left. I have Humans after me too. One Vampire has seriously put his ass on the line to look out for me whenever he could. If things keep going at the rate they are, the attention I’m getting because of my telepathy is going to get everyone hurt. I don’t want that. Do not look for me. I’ll get in touch when I can. Maybe I’ll come home eventually, but I don’t want anyone else I love getting hurt because of me and what I can do. I know you’re going to be mad at me for leaving, but this isn’t new. Mind reading has been making life difficult for you since we were little too.
I know you can’t afford to keep both houses, so do what you need to do. I understand.
I’ll miss you more than you realize, but you’re all I have left and I’ll be damned if I have to bury you like Gran.
I love you, brother.
Since Jason took his time, I had the chance to read the letter several times and confirm that she’d mailed them both on the 23rd from the same zip code.
When he was done he handed my letter back to Pam and took his from me. “What was that thing at the bottom? Mine didn’t have one.”
“That was the notary seal she mentioned so that Bill couldn’t accuse me of harming her. The notary can corroborate that your sister was the one to sign it.”
He nodded. “Smart… but that’s Sook.”
“She mailed our letters on the 23rd. Did you not see her for Christmas?”
“She made dinner last night… we gave each other gifts and we went to Gran’s grave… She started crying, but I thought… you know, since it’s the first Christmas and all…” If she was still in Bon Temps yesterday, that meant I had a better timeframe… Airport and bus station security footage could tell me which plane or bus she’d boarded… Jason looked like he was close to crying for a moment before he seemed to shake it off. “She said she might come back though… so… I guess I can keep my fingers crossed.”
“She did… she also mentioned that she’d understand if you couldn’t keep her house. Let me know if you need help. She’ll need a house to come home to.”
“You mean, like… you wanna buy it?”
“No. If I buy it, Vampires could get in and she wouldn’t be able to uninvite them. I’ll give you the money to pay for it because you’re Human.”
“Oh… is… can Bill get in any trouble for what he did to Sook?”
I shook my head. “Sadly, no. She was claiming to be his at the time. When he told her to claim to be his to protect herself from other Vampires, he failed to mention that it allowed him to treat her like a slave. However… Bill, you can get the fuck out of my Area…”
He stood up, shoving his chair back and looming over my desk in a laughable attempt to intimidate me. “YOU HAVE NO RIGHT…!”
“I have every right, as Sheriff of Area 5, to eject unruly cocksuckers. The only reason I didn’t drive you out like cattle earlier has left the Area. You aren’t welcome here and the next time I lay eyes on you, you won’t walk away from the encounter. One week.”
“I own property here!”
“I own property in several places. Get the fuck over yourself and get out of my Area… And before you make the threat to contact Sophie-Ann about how I’m picking on poor, innocent Bill, keep in mind that I’m prepared to tell the Queen that you scared away an asset with unlimited potential by raping and draining her… I have witnesses to what you did in Jackson.”
“How do you think that’ll look? You didn’t declare her.”
“Why would I? You told me that you informed the Queen of Area 5’s telepath when you left her defenseless while Lanier was at large to vie for the position of Investigator.” I’d been waiting to use that for more than a month. Who the fuck leaves someone they ‘love’ when it’s public knowledge there is a serial killer after them? Lies and alibis were not his forte.
“I. Did. Not!” But he couldn’t prove it.
Pam snorted, “You did. I was there. You told us the Queen was intrigued by Sookie’s ability and anxious for the opportunity to see her in action.”
“You lying bitch!”
She shrugged. “You told us that your official post was granted to you so the Sheriff wouldn’t have to neglect his duties to keep her safe and you were the obvious choice given her personal relationship with you… Eric, I’m not remembering it wrong, am I?” There was a very good reason Pam always got everything she asked for. Spoiled and appreciated had become synonymous when it came to her.
“No, Pam. That’s exactly how I remember it.”
She nodded. “He was wearing one of his silly Arnold Palmer outfits and his bangs were floppy… They’re still out of style, Bill. You could be on anti-douchebag propaganda posters.” Jason chuckled.
I offered, “There you go, Bill. Since you were so wise as to garner an official title, I had fair reason to believe you were appointed as Sookie’s handler and had been in contact with the Queen all along. You’re overreaching… I’m sure you inherited that from your Maker. You’ve tried my patience. Now you have 3 nights. Leave. You have packing to do… I’m extending my protection to Jason Stackhouse. If you try to bait Sookie into coming home by hurting him in any way, I’ll torture you until they’re old and gray.”
He seethed in my direction, probably feeling sorry for himself, before finally realizing he wasn’t going to win the staring game and darted out of my office.
Pam blubbered, “Poor Beehl. Hims doesn’t wike bein’ a woozer.”
Jason waited for a moment, but finally blurted, “I kind of get it.”
I was willing to play along. “Get what?”
“Why she left. I mean… I feel real bad about blowin’ up on her when Gran died… when I got the letter, I was pissed, worried… I didn’t know what all she been through. I’ma miss her and all… but… why stay when you got that track record? You pissed?” Hurt.
“Worried. Even if she’s leery of Vampires now, she could still be rediscovered.”
He nodded. “Yeah… got me there. Are you the one? The one that watched out for her? I mean, you’re the only other letter I know about… and she thanked you.”
“I think I am.”
“You think if something happens, she’d get in touch? Like, cuz you watched out for her before… if she’s in trouble?”
“I hope so.”
“K… um… if she does. Tell her I love her… let me know she’s still alive. K?”
“I will.” She was still alive. She was alive and still sleeping as far as I could tell. Not so far away that I couldn’t feel her even though we weren’t bonded. Since she couldn’t have been traveling for a whole day, she might have been laid over or… if I was fool enough to believe it, she just hadn’t wanted to go too far away. Florida maybe? If I could feel her strongly enough to have a guess, then she wasn’t far enough away to evade Bill’s ‘love’.
“I’ll let you know if I hear from her… I guess between us, you got danger and I got homesickness… those’d be her reasons to get in touch, right?”
“I think that covers the best reasons she’d have.” She should’ve come to me. She should’ve come to me because I could’ve helped her. She’d need money to start over. She’d need identification because Sookie and Stackhouse would stand out like a sore thumb in a phonebook.
“Alright…” Sookie’s brother stood up and lingered awkwardly for a moment. “I… I guess I’ll head out… if she gets in touch with me first, want me to tell her anything?”
I nodded. “Anything she needs. No questions asked.”
He looked like an idiot when he grinned. “You got it… and uh… just cuz you seem kinda hard to fuck Bill up, I’ma let e’erbody in town know to call ya if they see him ‘round… you know, cuz you looked out for Sookie. Thanks.”
Pam slumped onto the sofa after closing the door behind Jason. “I guess she’s justified…”
“Justified, yes… and half cocked. How well could she have planned an exit in less than a week? How much of her paycheck from Dallas could she possibly have left?”
“You call me impetuous… She wins.”
“What’s her prize, Pam?”
“What difference does it make?”
“What difference? Are you serious? Do you think Sophie-Ann is going to ignore that something like a telepath got away from her? Do you think that with all of the spies there are, every Vampire in the States won’t be watching, waiting to claim their reward. And when she’s found, she’s not going to be bountied. She’s going to be sold to the highest bidder.”
“It doesn’t make a difference because you’re going to do your best to find her and use her as your excuse to retire…” She said it like she had a crystal ball.
“Because that’s exactly what she wants. She proved how much she wants to be stalked by running away.”
“Pssh… She didn’t run away from you, you big baby. She ran away from being battered and raped. Track her down. If you have to tell yourself it’s so Compton doesn’t find her first, then go with that… but you know you want to go after her. I felt that lump in your throat when you read her letter.”
“How do you propose I find her, Pam? She disappeared on one of the biggest traveling days of the year. Everyone on the security cameras at the airport and bus station will be wearing dark, heavy clothing because it’s December. She’ll blend in.”
“North, south, east, west?”
I growled. “South east, I think… Florida, maybe…”
“So I’ll go to the airport and watch footage. You make arrangements to fly to Florida. She had your blood last week so you’ll be able to zero in on her. I’ll call you if I find anything.”
“Why are you being so cooperative?”
“Because it’s more amusing to make fun of you for pining when she’s just out of reach. Her leaving takes the thrill out of it.” I’d only asked hoping I hadn’t already guessed.
“Don’t be a dickhead about it. She has her moments. She’s fun for the whole family.”
I needed access to her bank records.
I needed access to her phone records.
I wasn’t going to get any of it.
I called 8 cab companies before any of them would even think about going out to Bon Temps for a fare and 3 more before I had any information of value… At 3:09am, a driver started his meter at 200 Hummingbird Lane and delivered his fare to the Delta terminal at the Airport at 3:51.
Having exact times made things seem a little less desperate.
Unfortunately, a man with an ‘old school southern’ accent had already called to ask the same questions. We were running out of time if I was going to find her before Bill did.
I’d just hung up from giving the news to Pam when the back door to the bar opened…
Only a moment later a familiar face appeared, peeking into my office.
Instead of asking why she came back, if she’d reconsidered, if she’d only forgotten something, if she needed something, I left my seat.
Without caring how she’d so cleverly fooled me, my blood into thinking she was miles away… if I was fooled, Compton would be too.
It might’ve only taken me half of a second to reach her and for some reason, when she didn’t startle but grin, I forgot myself…
She grunted when I kissed her, not resisting as much as trying to speak while my tongue was in her mouth… but she didn’t just give in. She pushed, kissing me back…
She fisted her hands into my hair, wrapped her legs around me when I lifted her…
If she’d kissed me the same way when I’d gone to the ‘orgy’ with her, we’d have missed the Maenad’s finale.
She was already pushing the limits of her breathing when I smelled Compton.
When her breath got away from her I let her use my hair to pull our faces apart…
But I didn’t want to let her legs fall away from me just yet…
“We need to talk, Eric.”
I nodded. “We do. I’ve been trying to track you down… Why did you see Compton first?”
She gave me a puzzled look. “Track me down?”
I wasn’t interested in games. “Why did you see Compton first?”
“I didn’t see him like seek him out… I was on my way to my car and the prick grabbed me.”
“He was looking for you too. He ‘loves’ you.”
She snorted and when she tried to put her feet down again, I let her. “Now he’s a landscaping problem. Hope you don’t mind.”
She widened her eyes coyly. “Did you know that a hydrangea branch counts as a stake? I didn’t.”
“You ended Compton?”
She sighed and sauntered into my office to lounge in my chair. “It needed to be done and judging by the way he was talking to me, Your Sookie wasn’t going to do it anytime soon.”
She tilted her head to the side. “Mmmmm. Yes, Your Sookie. I’m not yours…”
I rolled my eyes. “Yes, yes, I know. Sookie Stackhouse is her own…”
She giggled, “Shut up… I need to explain what’s going on.”
I growled and joined her, lifting her and putting her on my lap. I had to hide how surprised I was that Sookie didn’t refuse to cooperate. “Please do because right now, your letter just seems cruel. Your brother is beside himself and…” I detested the idea of never seeing her again.
She shook her head, confused again. “What letter, Eric?”
I picked it up from my desk to remind her of it. “You’ve run away from home and changed your name… you mailed the letters a couple of days ago and had a cab take you to the airport this morning.”
She snatched the letter out of my hand as she gasped, “What? Where did I go?”
“Seriously…” She scowled at the letter while she read it. Then went over it again… She hadn’t been the one to send it. “Why did she leave? What was the last thing that happened?”
“Sookie, you know…”
“No. Stop. In the interest of saving time, pretend I have amnesia or some shit. I’ll explain my part later. Why would I leave?”
“You and your loved ones had been victimized enough for your tastes…”
“Details. Did I date Bill?”
“Ew… Did I help Salome at her casino?”
“Where did you hear about Salome?”
“I’ll take that as a no… Did Cleo bring me her Machiavellian day guy?”
“I’m assuming you know all the Sheriffs of Louisiana on a first name basis.”
“Yes, but I only married one. Did Gervaise resign and leave room for Sophie-Ann to appoint Tilda?”
“Tilda? Wait, who the fuck did you marry?” I grabbed her hand to inspect the rings I’d thought were costume jewelry.
“Eric. I’m not Your Sookie. I belong to another version of You. I went to sleep next to My Eric and woke up in Your Sookie’s house out in Bon Temps. I took a shower and raided her closet. When I couldn’t find any cash, I took her car keys. Compton snuck up on me as I was leaving and since he’s a continuing theme, I staked him and hauled ass to Our house. You weren’t there so I tried here. Now, I’m explaining the clusterfuck that it is to be bonded to a Mero-Faerie because this overlapping shit happens. Right now Your Sookie is probably enjoying being in bed with My Eric, My Husband.”
“You’re claiming to be bonded and married to me? Sookie… did you hit your head?”
“No… This hasn’t been a problem for a while because we started carrying memory cards in our wallets so that we had ready proof… but I forgot it. Ask me something. Quiz me on something I shouldn’t know about you.” That wouldn’t prove that she couldn’t read Vampire minds.
“I’m not sure I like this game.”
“Ok… then help me out. Did I help Stan find Farrell?”
“Ok… did Alcide and I go up to Tulsa?”
“Why the fuck would I let you go anywhere with Herveaux if we’re married?”
“Long story, but the Packmaster up there wanted to make sure there were actual Wolf sightings. There wasn’t… Ummm… OH! You know who Alcide is, so how is that?”
“His father owed me a small fortune so when you went to look for Compton, I leveraged Alcide to take you. I didn’t want you to be unguarded and I couldn’t be in Jackson officially without raising eyebrows.”
“When was this?”
“And I’m suddenly off the reservation… What happened?”
“You went to find Compton because he’d vanished. Herveaux took you. Herveaux’s ex accosted you, you were staked by Steve Newlin, it took an effort, but you were healed enough to free Compton and end his Maker…”
“Oh shit… and then Sookie got locked in the trunk of a car and raped by Bill… then got her ass beaten when you got her home…” At least she was ‘remembering’ some details.
“I don’t like that you’re talking about yourself in the third person.”
“I’m not… Hey… Does Sophie-Ann have a baby named Hadley?”
“Good. Then she can back me up…”
She lifted the receiver of my desk phone… I couldn’t take my eyes from her rings as she dialed.
“Sookie, I just had to explain Vampire political structures to you before you left for Jackson. How do you know… everything? Have you started hearing our thoughts?”
Sookie was shaking her head as the familiar voice answered, but I needed more than a ‘hello’ to know who it was for sure.
“Hello Majesty. I know we haven’t met in person, but this is Sookie Stackhouse.” No! Nononononono… I reached for the phone, to take it away from her and apologize to the Queen for the interruption, but all it took for Sookie to stop me was putting her finger to my lips.
“Sookie. I’m surprised to hear from you.” What the fuck?
“I’m having a bit of a problem and I was hoping you wouldn’t mind helping me out.”
“Yes ma’am. I’m here with the Sheriff, but My Eric and His Sookie have yet to surface and he’s very concerned for my mental state. You wouldn’t by chance be willing to vouch for my sanity, would you?”
“Which one are you, dear?” No possible fucking way. Which one?
“We’ve color coded our journals, Majesty. I’m August, peridot. And you?”
“Peonies… Do you have anything helpful for me?”
“I’m at a bit of a loss since I’m without our journal. If you have Hadley… do you know that Waldo is a concern as far as her safety is concerned?” Sookie knew who Waldo was.
“And that Threadgill has spies in your palace?” She’d heard of Threadgill.
“I didn’t know that for sure.”
“Yes ma’am… most of your donor pool is tainted by Arkansas or the Church… In more than a couple of versions, negotiations with Wallace Milne went very well.” Texas as well?
“I danced at your wedding. Once we’ve reunited with our actual partners, I’ll see to it that My Eric leaves a copy of his journal here if his came with him. Either way, we’ll make sure you get notes.”
“Thank you, Sookie… Northman, you’re listening?”
I was close to choking on my tongue, but, “Yes Majesty.”
“Sookie is quite sound. She’ll explain in depth. Stackhouses have a tendency to make things interesting. Goodnight.”
Sookie adjusted, but didn’t leave my lap as she put the receiver in the cradle. “Ok. I’m Hadley’s cousin. We’ve got a Faerie in our woodpile and something about us makes this happen. We call it skipping. We’re kind of stuck just rolling with it. Sophie-Ann and Hadley have been doing it for almost 4 years now. We wake up in a weird place and run into another version of reality… I think you match up pretty well with one of the other versions we’ve run into a few times… I’m going to test that by asking what you were doing when you met Sookie.”
“When I first saw you or when we were introduced?”
“When you first laid eyes on me.”
“You were with Compton. You’d come here to ask about fangbangers.”
She nodded knowingly. “And you met Sookie on the stage area, but your conversation was cut short by a police raid.”
“Yes. Is that different from how you met me?”
“In my version, you brought a fangbanger back to your office for a blow job. You were still back here when Bill and I arrived… when I started asking questions, Pam jerked a knot in my ass and brought me back here. Meeting my Eric went much smoother and thanks to that sundress I was wearing, he volunteered to help me clear Jason.”
“I would’ve agreed to anything that sundress asked of me too.”
She giggled. “I still bring it out to play once in a while… now… we need to find Your Sookie and My Eric. They’re probably together. Can you think of somewhere she’d have gone?” Why the fuck was I believing this?
“No. I’m at a loss. I need phone records or bank information… I don’t have access…” It could take several nights for me to find anything on my own since I wasn’t willing to expose her location by outsourcing.
Sookie smirked and turned to my computer. She quickly logged in to her bank account to see a zero balance, but before there was a withdrawal at the branch in Bon Temps there was a $680 charge to Delta… and after 15 minutes on hold, filling her idle time with providing more details of ‘skipping’ instead of listening to Flock Of Seagulls and Gary Glitter, we had a traceable lead.
“Why the fuck would you go to the Bahamas?”
She rolled her eyes up to think about it, but she ended up giggling, “Because Your Sookie is too silly to know she could be having more fun in Longyearbyen.” With the right tour guide, she could.
“At the beginning of the dark season. Where else would you pick for a honeymoon.” Nowhere. 24 hour nights with Sookie…. Fuck. I couldn’t think about that…
“Why the Bahamas?”
“I think she would’ve done some research. It’s not as though Vampires are sun-seekers. It’s English speaking. It’s touristy, so even if she stands out it’d be a waiting game before she’s clear… it might help that she doesn’t need to have a passport to get there. Only to get home. Bikini-clad blonds who smell like sunlight aren’t exactly rare.”
“Do you know anyone there?”
“Queen Wyannie, but Your Sookie wouldn’t have met her yet. I met her at the Texiana wedding. I’m booked to go down there next month.”
She nodded. “Yeah. See… we kind of got ahead of things. I do telepathy clinics. Vampires bring their pets and day guys to me for reading. It’s better than some of the other versions because it’s hard to covet something that’s so available. No one wants to steal a 7-11 and keep it to themselves. My Eric doesn’t have to worry about me like that… Oh… and from what we learned, once some Sookies start seeing that Erics aren’t just trying to plant a flag in ‘the new toy’ she stops being so challenging. It helps that she’s earning on her own and doesn’t feel kept as a pet too.”
I smiled, actually smiled wider than I had in a while… but then, Sookie had that effect on me. “That is very good to know, but… are you not in danger?”
“I’ve pissed a few folks off because they have to think of a new way to be shady assholes…”
“Do you think I could get her to come home if she knows that? If she knows that things will settle down and she isn’t…”
She rolled her eyes. “Maybe, all it will take is being told how you feel about her. You and Jason are the only ones she felt like she was leaving behind. Bill being dead will help. Once I tell her what he was up to, she’s going to be pissed.”
“What do you mean, what he was up to?”
“Sophie-Ann sent him to meet me because Hadley is homesick. She knew that I’m a telepath, but because of the skips she didn’t tell Bill. He was just supposed to see if we would freak out meeting a real Vampire. He decided to work on me and keep me to himself. Lorena usually gets involved. What we know is that Bill seduced her, let Gran get killed to isolate her… then when you tricked her into sucking that bullet out of your shoulder… you did that, right?”
“Because she’d had your blood, he got spooked and upped his game… he called Lorena to bring her into his plans… his kidnapping and torture in Jackson were staged. He didn’t think you’d go with her. It was just a way to get Sookie out of Louisiana. They were going to take her back to Washington and use her to take over.” No.
“She was raped…” Because I’d been opportunistic.
“It’s not your fault. You couldn’t have known what he was up to.” Yes, it was.
“She’s probably better off in the Bahamas.”
She raised an eyebrow and reached for the phone again. “No. She’s better off with you. She’s pointless down there. No one needs her. No one loves her. My Eric has a lot of practice convincing Sookies that we’re good together. She’ll be back.”
She dialed the phone and waited while I tried to decide if coming back was smart… if I shouldn’t just join her, retire like Pam teased.
“Atlantis Hotel and Casino, Paradise Island. How can I direct your call?”
“Check in, please.” She pulled my hand onto her lap and ran her thumb over the back of my ring finger.
“Guest services, Harvey speaking. How can I be of service?”
“Hello. I’m looking for my sister. She’s prone to depression and takes off from time to time. I know she’s flown into Nassau and she picks big places to stay at so she doesn’t stand out. I was wondering if you could tell me if she’s there. Her plane landed at 1. Her name is Sookie Stackhouse, but she could be staying under a pseudonym. And she’d be using cash because she cleaned out her bank account.”
“Is she a danger to anyone?”
“No sir. Not at all, but we worry.”
“I understand. It should just take a moment.”
“I’m grateful. Really. The holidays are so hard for her.”
“Yes, of course… One woman checked into the hotel at about 3 o’clock. Singles stand out this time of year. She’s registered under the name of Adele Hale though…”
“That’s her. Adele was our grandmother who recently passed. Would you mind connecting me?”
While Sookie was on hold, I asked, “Would you have used that name?”
She shook her head and whispered, “Not unless I wanted to be found. Jason couldn’t have tracked her down, but you could have…”
Sookie stopped when the call was answered, “Hello?” I ‘knew’ there was another me somewhere, but I still couldn’t believe I was hearing my voice coming from the other end of the line.
“I love you madly, Eric. I’m sorry for whatever she’s said or done.”
“You have no idea how good it is to hear you say that. Do you still mean it knowing that I almost fucked her?” I wasn’t sure what was more intriguing, the way Sookie giggled about it or that My Sookie let it get as far as ‘almost’.
“Lemme guess… she laid down after sunbathing and she thought she was dreaming when you woke up high?”
“She’s been yelling and/or crying for a while and I’m still hard… Where are you?”
“Not close enough to help, Sweetie. Sorry. I’m at Fangtasia. I’m with the other You.”
“And I’m in Nassau, waiting for the boutique to deliver some clothes. I’ve had to charter a flight. I’ll be getting home just before dawn. Are there problems?”
“Now that I’ve killed Bill, the only thing wrong is that I miss you. This Sookie pulled a Hoffa.”
“No. Hoffa went to the Riviera… This Sookie doesn’t want to return with me. She’s panicking, thinking Her Eric found her so easily. She’s planning to leave… What should I know?”