Sookie barely had the chance to order a steak and egg platter and sweet tea before my cell phone rang.
I groaned as I pulled it out of my pocket. “Did we forget something, Pam?”
“Tell me again why I can’t join you? You’re hogging a Sookie that isn’t even yours.” Brat.
“Because you need an alibi.”
“And what is yours?” Sookie and I are currently in the Bahamas.
“I’m responding to a call from Sookie about a mysterious puddle in her drivew-”
“Pam, if something happens, then you are to call Paulette and come up with a plan B.”
“I’m second string?”
“We’ve covered this. Your feelings are hurt. I’m sure you’ve already treated your melancholy with a virtual visit to Saks…”
Sookie bit her lip and reached under the table. It took feeling her foot slide along my inner thigh to realize I’d heard her shoe hit the floor. Her eyes locked on mine, her foot teasing it’s way to my cock and once she was sure she’d done enough damage, she whimpered, “Eric, get off the phone…”
Pam practically exploded, “I’m being excluded from this outing so you can make a pit stop to fuck!?”
“That’s. Just. Beautiful. Whatever!” She hung up and Sookie started giggling, immediately taking her foot back to replace her shoe.
I shook my head. “You might not be as amused if you knew how pissed she is right now.” Or how hard I was. All it took was her foot?
“But… She isn’t hurt by thinking you’ve replaced her as your partner in crime. She thinks with her cock more than you do, so she’ll forgive you once her shipment of Fendis arrive.”
“You seem pretty sure of that.”
“Awww, c’mon. As long as she’s been with you, she’s still waiting to find something better. You’re everything to her and the only thing she couldn’t stand is if you forgot that. She’s got it good and she knows it.”
“Did your Pam tell you that or is this one of the things you’ve picked up on?”
She grinned and thanked the waitress for her drink before she answered, “Both… and I can draw an instruction manual for your brains… Our Pam hated me at first.”
“Hated you?” Impossible. Sookie Stackhouse was the best thing since Big Brother as far as Pam was concerned.
She nodded while she took a sip of her drink. “More like, how Eric was when it came to me. He was a big ole turd about how curious she was. He knew she’d rib him about how he felt about me, and instead of being guarded, he took the extreme and shut her out. It didn’t take long for us to find our stride though. Maybe one tense week together.”
“Pam is enjoying my Sookie related frustrations…”
“Ohhh, then you should be sure to tell Jason she likes it when a guy plays hard to get. He’ll turn up the flirt and leave her hanging… and he’ll probably ask you for cues. You could have fun with that for at least a week. In fact, you could invite him to hang out with you at Fangtasia a few times.”
“Toying with Pam is always fun, but what would ‘hanging out’ do?”
“Jason will go home with a couple of girls at a time while he’s playing hard to get, probably even compete with Pam for a few dates.” Brilliant.
“Now that I have plans for next week…”
She giggled, “And playing nice with Sookie’s brother will not be a bad thing… I’ve met a few Sookies who were hung up on the idea that being yours meant turning her back on her family. Bill baggage. That whole ‘owah wulds ah too di’frunt, Sookeh’ bullshit.”
I shook my head. “Didn’t one of Me already tell you to stop doing that?”
She smiled and said, “You’re not the boss of me,” with a cheeky little wink. “So… your cheat sheet. What do you want to know?”
“You can start by telling me what I’m doing wrong since you seem to know how things have been.”
“You aren’t doing anything wrong. I’ve read and re-read the journals and talked to several Sookies. Unless you seriously shit the bed in Jackson, you’ve played every hand you’ve been dealt by the book.” That’s what I was afraid of.
“Shit the bed?”
She snickered and sat back so the waitress could deliver her steak and eggs. “Shit the bed… Like the cook shit the bed. Sorry hon, I don’t want to be a bother, but I asked for medium rare and there’s no moo left in this bad boy.”
The waitress gave her a confused look. “You haven’t even cut into it…”
Sookie shrugged and lifted her fork and knife. Sure enough, the steak was closer to ‘blackened’ than ‘medium rare’. “It’s not a big deal to me, but the cook’s gonna have to refire my whole meal. Don’t toss it though. Give it to the hard case that just came in and ordered the soup. His pockets are full of spare change. K?”
I barely waited for the waitress to turn around before I asked, “Why not just show your fangs, Sookie?”
She poked her lip out to pout, “I don’t have them yet.”
I was just joking about her blatant display, but… “Yet?”
“Eventually… We can’t enjoy what the smell of sunlight does to Eric if I can’t bring it to him… and you don’t need to get your hopes up. Your Sookie might not come around. Eric’s not wearing happy pants right now. What are you getting from Sookie?”
“It’s faint because of the distance. Depression if I have to guess…”
Her eyes widened and she sat back. “Ahhh… My guess is that she’s choking on the list of hints she should have gotten from Compton that would’ve opened her eyes. Eric’s practically a pro at reeducating Sookies. I bet he’ll get her… So… you had a moment. What was that?”
“When I said ‘shit the bed in Jackson’. What happened?”
“I think it was the smell of her blood… When she was staked, I wasn’t expecting to react the way I did when I gave her my blood to heal her.”
“Ooohhh. That was her fault… well not her fault, but it was her.”
“Are you going to say she was asking for what happened to her in that trunk too?”
“No, but Gran’s hydrangea couldn’t have happened to a better asshole… That business in the trunk was just because she smelled like you and you know it.” She paused to take another sip of her tea and I used the time to appreciate how much more savvy this Sookie was. I was no less culpable for knocking over the first domino, but this Sookie’s eyes were wide open. “No… what I meant was that she smelled like sunlight from walking to and from Janice’s salon…. which was only boosted by her good mood and if she danced with Tara like the one My Eric was with, you were a goner before she bled everywhere. Now, My Eric has built up a bit of a tolerance so he was alright… he held off until he got back to Me, but… when I take his blood, we have to make sure the calendar is clear.”
“What do you mean? Clear? What happens? It isn’t when he feeds from you?”
She put her elbows on the table to lean forward with her eyebrow pitched. “You felt hot… closing your eyes, you could’ve imagined being in the sun again… her heart felt like it was beating in your chest… her breaths felt like they were filling your lungs… It was impossible for you to sit still. You felt alive.” Fuck.
“When I exchange blood with My Eric, we lose hours. As soon as we start, we disappear into one another. He was worried enough about hurting me that he convinced me to record it because we aren’t conscious of what happens when we’re done… I know that giant child has a copy of the video on his phone… and since he hasn’t deleted the part of the journal where I accuse him of hiding it on the memory cards we keep with us, I know he’s put it there too. We’ve gone past 10am… and we started hours before dawn. We can’t help it and he can control himself now that he’s had practice, but just enough to remember.” Unfuckingbelievable.
“But you can’t control it? How often? What happens?”
She giggled, “I haven’t tried to control it. I don’t want to fuck with it… We do it as often as possible… What happens is sex that isn’t humanly possible or part of any vampiric standard. I don’t need breaks. He breathes and sweats…”
Her eyes rolled up, making it too fucking obvious that the topic was affecting her like it was me. “His skin beads with blood… his lip and back… we practically glue ourselves together… it doesn’t happen to anyone else, just when it’s Eric and Sookie… And if I keep thinking about it, he’s gonna think you aren’t behaving… Pam and I made too many ‘if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with’ jokes. What were we talking about?”
“I don’t remember.”
She huffed, “Shit. Me either… Me? Your Sookie. Right?”
I nodded and adjusted my jeans. I was fucked. “Sure.”
She fanned herself and cleared her throat. “She’s been dealing with Bill. When you get your copy of the journal, pay close attention to September. They started off on the same foot as you guys. I can tell when you’re full of shit, but because she lost so much time with Captain Asshole, she’s got no gauge. Hopefully, Eric is doing something towards recalibrating her little lie detector.”
“She was comparing my thought patterns to his?”
“And because he was oozing lies while pretending to love her…”
“I was fucked.”
“And it doesn’t help much that his cover of mainstreaming helped that along. He had an excuse to keep her away from other Vampires so she’d stay naïve just as much as keep her to himself. Here’s the thing… Bill says, ‘I’m here to settle down in my ancestral home’. His mind doesn’t change from its usual. His mind is like a concrete mixer full of rocks. Dark, but not black. I took it as truth because Human minds get busier and give themselves away to me. As far as I knew, his mind was a constant. It wasn’t until I met the Disco Triples and then asked him to take me to Fangtasia that his mind changed. I associated that sudden blackness with fear because he said he was worried for my safety…”
“Malcolm, Dian and Liam.”
I snorted, “They were ended in our version… but that’s still funny.”
“They’re still kicking in ours and when it’s their turn to be scenery at Fangtasia, Pam makes them wear matching lamè outfits… Now when I met Eric, his mind wasn’t very dark and still, but it got darker and busy pretty quickly…”
“I wonder why.”
“Because he was thinking a mile a minute… turns out, Vampire minds are busy when they’re thinking and when they’re full of shit, but the bullshit meter spikes for a sec during an actual lie. Funny thing was, it was kind of off-putting. Eric’s mind was a whole new medium… someone has a range. How weird, right? So of course I was a little curious… in one visit with him, I got a sense of when he was curious and amused and flirting…”
“Then why is it My Sookie didn’t pick up on that?”
“Because Compton got his hooks into her. My first meet with Eric was a couple of hours long. You had two or three short encounters before the Maenad thing… by then, they were sleeping together and he had plenty of time to plant little seeds of distrust in her head. And if things with her are exactly as they were in September’s version, she heard you when you summoned her about the missing money.”
“Yeah… It only happens once in a while though…” She sat back, smiling at the new plate of food her waitress was delivering. “Much better. Thanks.”
The waitress leaned over and asked, “Are you a… Are you a Vampire?”
Sookie giggled and shook her head. “Not with this tan, and Vampires don’t eat. I know a few though… Don’t worry about your sister. The Vampire she’s been seeing is highly unlikely to hurt her physically. You might want to warn her that it’s just a fling though.”
“What are you, psychic?”
Sookie shrugged and said, “Mind reader,” as she lifted her utensils and pointed to her glass. “Can I get a tea refill?”
The waitress made no secret of how stunned she was… she took Sookie’s glass and slowly backed away.
Sookie paused before taking a bite of her eggs to say, “Tuna upsets his stomach, so when you make tuna salad you let him drink the water.” When the glass slid out of the waitress’s hand, Sookie giggled, “Table five is waiting for their sampler too.” The waitress practically ran from us and sent a busboy to clean up the broken glass.
I shook my head. “You’re blatant.”
“We’re tempering the Human public to the concept of a new group of Supernaturals. On top of the concept of community, we know that my mom put one of Us in a mental ward and we found a telepath whose mom killed herself thinking she was schizophrenic. We have ‘agents’ everywhere… Pilar in the DC Metro area. Rory in Jackson. Barry in Dallas… Gran was trying to talk Brandon into it last night.”
“How do you know that woman’s sister is safe?”
“Because her sister is ‘dating’ a blonde Vampire named Pam that works at a Vampire bar… the sister just so happens to be a track and field coach with long dark hair.”
“That’s Pam’s type.”
She wiggled her eyebrows and cooed, “Jason’s too… That’s how they hooked up in our version. Those hos went trolling as a team.”
I shook my head, trying to get back on track. “Brandon?”
“Oh yeah! My new brother. My parents split up for a while before I came along. That wasn’t ever a secret… When Mom and Dad reconciled, Brandon’s mom kept the pregnancy to herself… That jerk knew about us all along and kept to himself so he wouldn’t burst our bubbles or whatever. Funny thing is, I met him in a skip first… Eric and I reset and I was about to jump out of my skin for the time it took for Eric to make sure Brandon happened in our version too… Eric comes out of the study and confirms, ‘Brandon Rousseau, age 25, 4382 Flint Loop, Apartment B,’ and Alcide finishes, ‘and one hell of a mechanic. What about him?’.”
“Your brother is employed by Herveaux & Son.”
She nodded. “He took the job because the other guys in the shop were harder to read at the time. He’s got the cutest little girl and she’s got the family curse too. Well, for us. He just had a girlfriend in the other version.”
“Did Jason have a different father?”
“Nope. He’s an empath. Your… well, I guess Pam’s Jason doesn’t realize he’s using it. My Jason hated Compton from the jump, but he was just suspicious of you at first. We’ve tested him… He’s just lazy. For fun, he rides the bar at Fangtasia with Alcide during clinics. He can spot a drainer faster than I can now just because he can tell they’re up to something and I have to wait for them to think about it. Your Jason is probably still just using it to get laid.”
“Where did the Faerie heritage come in?” I had to assume that another Me might have noticed if the grandmother was two generations more Fae.
“Daddy is where we got it from. He wasn’t full Faerie, but the scent was that much stronger on him than it is for us kids. Eric and Gran spent a night in the attic looking through the pictures Gran has. There wasn’t a single member of Grandpa’s family that looked good enough to be Fae. No telltale pointed ears. No extraordinary accomplishments. Just a long line of redneck farmers with iffy luck with crops. We’ve got nothing.”
“You said the Fae scent was stronger… You met your father in a skip?”
She sighed and nodded. “We knew he was still alive because we’d already met that version before, but they came to us. We tracked the other Us down at family dinner. It was bizarre to see him again since he died when I was so little… I definitely have a new understanding for what other Sookies go through when they see My Gran alive and well. I’ve been kind of a bitch to them. Not about that, but in general.”
“Which version was that?”
“October… we originally called her Fat Sookie, but officially, she’s Sookie Merlotte.”
“Married? To your boss?”
“Two kids and one on the way… Huge difference though. Gran was the one who died in the flood that killed Her parents instead. Her parents split up and Her mom married Calvin Norris. She was sent to some hospital where She learned to fake being normal so well that She forgot She was a telepath. No shit. I thought she was lying at first, but she forgot so well that she hadn’t told Sam… the problem was that Sam hadn’t told Her about being a Shifter and since She grew up in Hotshot, She didn’t think anything of the difference in the minds on the rare occasion Her shields slipped either. The babies were both mind readers and the oldest thinks in Were-red. Jason has a son in that version and that kid’s a mind reader too.”
“So if you weren’t with a Vampire, you would have children who read minds…”
She smiled coyly. “Probably. We’d been wondering about them for a while and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that we ran into them again. By the end of the first skip, She was planning to leave Sam… by the next skip She had the baby. It was hell tracking them down though. They were staying at your house on the lake… Oh shit! That reminds me. I have a present for you.”
“More than blue balls?”
She giggled, “How about a clairvoyant?”
“A clairvoyant? A psychic?”
“Yes sir… She’s an automatic writer. She zones out and draws what comes to her. The Eric and Sookie from September met another telepath in Baton Rouge like your Sookie found Barry. She was nickel and diming Salome’s joint to pay her rent. Anyway, Michelle was the telepath whose mother killed herself after being in and out of hospitals for most of her life. That Eric suggested looking for not-so crazy nuts in hospitals. Sookie found Ema in Dallas when they went. Her mind is this über dense crystal formation to me and Hunter until she zones out and does her thing… then it like evaporates and comes back together when she’s back. When me or Hunter are around for it, we can see what’s in her mind, but it’s no different from what she draws. It’s isolated. To Eric, everything about her is Human. She’s a sweetheart… 18 years old and by the time you call her, she’ll already be expecting to hear from you.” That would explain what she meant when she told her husband that Bill’s death had been drawn by someone.
“How accurate is she?”
“When they got to the hospital, she’d drawn a picture of Eric, holding her portfolio in her hospital room with Sookie and Alcide looking from either side. That’s exactly how they were at the time. When we found out about her from that version, we decided to go meet her. Me and Alcide flew into Dallas on the way to Tulsa. She’d drawn me and him with her portfolio, sitting on her bed. She was dead-center accurate down to the water spots on our shirts from the rain.”
“Did she suggest you sit on her bed?”
Sookie shook her head. “She didn’t lead us… There’s only 4 people who know that the last thing you saw before you were made was a horse without a rider under a full moon. She drew it.” Unfuckingbelievable.
“She’s in Dallas?”
She nodded. “She’s been released from the hospital because nothing is wrong with her. So she’s living with her parents again. She isn’t in the journals because she’s just a kid. Considering what Bill was willing to do to get a telepath, we didn’t want to risk anything so she’s word-of-mouth only. As for Brandon, he’s in the journal as a telepath, but his relationship is word-of-mouth. That’s not something you tell someone in a letter. ‘Surprise, you have a half brother’.”
“What else have You found?”
“Not much, but that one circuit in Dallas was enough justification to keep looking. They’ve been too busy to do a lot… Um… You might want to jump on the chance to get Paulette to replace Bobby. It’s only a matter of time before her brother finds work. Call her and say a birdie told you her brother needs a job. My Eric got her for the price of a house and a car…”
“Which I’ve already offered.”
“But she’s helping to support her brother’s family. Porter’s a welder. Poor guy even tried to join the military, but he was told he was too old to enlist. One call to Smythe and you’ve got an assistant you can trust with Sookie’s telepathy and Our Paulette knows about the skips. She’s even seen a couple.”
“Beautiful… And you’ve been spending enough time with Paulette to learn about Witches, yes?”
“Wellllll… Since she’s head over heels for my guard, she hangs around a lot… She’s taught me a few things. Just some basics. It’s not like I can pause life to phone-a-friend.”
“Like separating the gris-gris bags from their contents to cancel the charm, yes?”
She nodded while she chewed. She’d been taking tiny bites so she could chew them quickly enough to keep up with conversation… She really had gotten accustomed to being in the company of Vampires.
“And how do you propose to get rid of Shreveport’s infestation of Were-Witches?”
Her eyes studied the ceiling while she finished another mouthful. “Basic binding spell. We don’t need anything for that but a roll of crime scene tape and an incantation I know by heart. Then we sneak in and…”
“You sneak in. I need…”
She shook her head and sang, “They aren’t Human… anyway, then we snap a couple of necks and roll our sweet asses home.”
I was close to laughing at the irony. “My Sookie doesn’t like killing…”
“I’m not crazy about it either. Notice, all I did was scare the ‘Witches’ at Fangtasia. Innocent Humans shouldn’t have to die when glamouring can fix the problem. Besides, we’ve already established that Your Sookie is full of shit… Your Sookie was raised by a woman who gave my Uncle’s address to Eric so he could kill him. That, my dear, is pure vengeance. I nearly shit when I found out Gran helped.”
“Bartlett molested me when I was little. Gran couldn’t do any more than estrange us from him because she didn’t want to put me through explaining it to the police… When Eric found out what he did, she helped him find the asshole. Sookie also killed Lorena in self defense and that’s exactly what this is. Killing Marnie and Mark is preemptive, but still a defensive tactic.” On top of everything else, she was abused as a child? Wonderful.
“How did he do it?”
“He glamoured him to walk into oncoming traffic. And I’m pretty sure Bill already did the deed. It would be on par.”
“Looking like her defender while whittling her family ties.”
“You know it.”
“What else should I know?”
“Nothing that isn’t already covered in the journal… I think the best thing you could do for her safety is have her property warded against ill-will. Paulette can do that for you. Sookie probably won’t start to listen to you until you make a couple gestures to reinforce what My Eric is telling her. That’s going well, by the way. He’s in a better mood. Victorious and cocky are always a good sign.”
“I’m not so sure about that. She’s feeling confrontational.”
“So do I when I can’t get a grip on how to feel… Eric compares it to a coiling rattlesnake.”
I nodded. “That’s a perfect description…”
“And a sign for you to back off. Otherwise she strikes defensively… The way I see it, you have the advantage. She can’t play the ‘belongs to Bill’ card anymore.”
“No. She can play the ‘grieving my finally-dead ex’ card.”
She giggled and shook her head, taking another bite of her meal.
“What’s so funny?”
She let me sit on pins and needles long enough to take another bite of her food and finish chewing… all the while she stared back at me like she was waiting for me to answer the question for myself. “Do you really think she’ll do that? It was pretty fucking clear to me that Eric had already told her what Compton had been up to. Unless she heard me tell Eric that I got to kill a Bill, you’re the one who told her he’s dead. How many fucks did she give?”
“She can claim shock.”
“Do you feel shock, Eric? C’mon. Call her on that shit. Tell her you know better and that it’s not fair for her to accuse you of having ulterior motives when she’s lying to you. Tell her it bothers you. Hell, admit to the fact that her feelings confuse you as much as your mind confuses her… you two are on as level of a playing field as either of you are going to get…”
“And in the meantime, your ‘little chat’ with her is going to include what exactly?”
She took her last bite and laid her utensils on the plate, studying the ceiling again while she used chewing as a stall tactic. “I’m not really sure I need to have a talk with her. She’s getting a crash course right now and My Eric doesn’t make any bones about fixing other Mes. It really gets under his skin when they treat him like shit… If I say anything, I suppose I’ll tell her that she needs to get her head out of her ass and stop mind-fucking herself because My Eric makes me happy. Because I’m living the fucking fairy tale that she’s pathologically turning her nose up at… and then, I’ll tell her to watch the videos and they’ll do the rest of the work that can be done.”
“You want her to watch the Eric-Sookie porn?”
She snorted, “No… well, that might help… but there’s little confessionals. That’s what Pam calls them…”
I knew what she meant without explanation and my eyes rolled. “It’s what they call them on Big Brother. Short testimonial videos, yes?”
“Pam makes you watch it too, huh? Anyway, most everyone recorded one… Gran’s done several… all it will take to get Sookie to take notice is seeing Gran kiss Eric’s cheek to thank him for starting the camera for her. The next thing she’ll see is Gran telling her, ‘If you’re watching this, you probably lost me. All I can do is hope you’ve had the sense to accept Eric the way he accepts your hard-headed self’.”
“Your grandmother is friendly with your husband?”
She smirked and cooed, “She loves Eric and Pam like she loves her own grandchildren… But I think you’ll be more impressed with the fact that you love her back. You both do.”
She was right about that. Impressed, dumbfounded… both.
I’d realized how much I’d let myself ignore earlier, but as we made our way across town to tend to our errand, I was up to my chin in hindsight.
Her knowledge of my mind helped Sookie catch me feeling cynical several times. Her answer was to reach over and pinch the underside of my arm and tell me to ‘stop that’. As though it was possible to ignore that I could have helped Sookie avoid what she’d gone through for the past few months. I hadn’t caused any of it intentionally… who would assume that anything as simple as bullying a Shifter or settling for a fangbanger would have such a huge effect in someone’s life…
The product of a simple deviation was in the passenger seat, planning the deaths of the individuals who’d scared her other self out of the country.
It wasn’t even close to a matter of haves and have nots… it wasn’t jealousy…
For all intents and purposes, My Sookie was still just as naïve as she was before Compton waltzed into her life. Meeting Vampires doubled the size of her world, and I was just as guilty of not expanding her knowledge of it as Compton.
My sassy little visitor was strong enough to defend herself against Humans, if not Weres, and she knew our politics inside and out… She’d been exposed to enough Witchcraft to know how to protect herself…
If My Sookie returned to Shreveport, that wasn’t going to continue to be the case. Whether she liked it or not, she was going to get a full education for her own safety.
For the most part, I watched Sookie work. She moved quietly around the unassuming house in the Anderson Island neighborhood, wrapping the house with the crime scene tape that had been easier to acquire than I thought… A pair of officers practically gave it to us when they stopped at the diner as we were leaving.
Sookie recited two different chants quietly as she moved to encircle the house… one was to negate any spells already in use and keep anyone within the ‘circle’ from using magic, the other was to keep anyone inside the ‘circle’ from exiting.
It inspired me to make another mental note… regardless of timing, if Paulette couldn’t be coaxed to Shreveport with a job offer for her brother, I wanted her to help My Sookie learn the same basics. If I had to, I’d send Paulette and her whole fucking family to the Bahamas for a working vacation.
Hearing Sookie explain that the binding was ‘weak’ because she was ‘just a newbie’ didn’t change my mind… Humans and Weres had attacked My Sookie in her home because they didn’t need an invitation. Weak was an improvement on nothing.
As though everything else about Sookie wasn’t a slap in the face, she was pragmatic enough to suggest I end the female instead of matching sexes… Why? Because Sookie listened to their thoughts… the bitch’s thoughts were ‘soupy’… a sign that she was using Vampire blood in enough quantity to practically turn herself.
In three months’ time My Sookie could have learned more ins and outs than I could have imagined… instead she’d been left to sit on a razor’s edge.
It was impossible to focus on the task at hand until it was time to enter the house and execute the Witches who wanted to take over my Area…
We took advantage of the flimsy door to the mud porch and moved through the dark house quietly.
Sookie was just behind me with her hand on my arm… She only stopped once we reached the end of the hallway, pointing to the bedroom where Marnie was sleeping.
It felt cliché to sneak up on a sleeping victim, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some fun… then again, it might have been because I let her wake up just long enough to see who was about to twist her head from her shoulders.
I’d just tossed her head to the floor when I heard Sookie ask the male what their plans were… When I entered his bedroom, Sookie was straddling his chest with a belt wrapped around his throat. She was interrogating him while he ran out of air, struggling to free himself…
The only answers she was going to get from him were going to have to be reiterated to me later… For close to a minute, Sookie asked one question after another while he hit her legs hard enough that it should have hurt her, but she didn’t budge…
Once he was finally unconscious, and no longer able to answer anymore of her questions, she tightened the belt and grinned in my direction. “Do you want to pull his head off too, or should I just finish him off like this?”
“Taking his head off would probably be a good idea for continuity’s sake. Did he scratch you at all?”
“No. Nothing under his nails.”
She backed off the bed to make room for me and slipped her hand into my pocket to borrow my phone.
I’d expected her to leave the room to avoid the scene, but she leaned against the door jamb and made a call instead. She didn’t look away. She didn’t show any reaction to the sounds…
She was more bothered by the unanswered call she made and huffed as she called a second number.
Sookie walked into the bathroom and turned the water on so I could wash the blood from my hands and was squirting liquid soap for me when the call was finally answered…
“Hey Sam, is Holly working tonight? She didn’t answer her cell.”
“Yeah. Is everything alright?”
“Fine. Let me talk to her.”
“You don’t sound ‘fine’.”
“I’m getting pissed over the third degree if that’s what you mean.”
“Are you… Nevermind. I’ll get her.”
Sookie rolled her eyes and used a rag to wipe her fingerprints from the faucet and soap bottle and wandered out of the room… she paid no attention to the mess that used to be Mark Stonebrook as she wiped down the belt’s buckle.
When she caught me watching her, she shrugged and mumbled, “Once you’ve had to use your fingernails to dig silver-leaf out of a tortured Vampire, a person’s gore tolerance tends to get higher.”
“So it seems. Who was silver-leaf used on?”
“Ferrell. Did you not see him pulled out of his cell?”
“I wasn’t there… I was with Sookie.”
She nodded. “Eric and I exchanged Bill and Lorena for him. I was the only Human with them. I did my best to clean him up while we took him home since he was still unconscious…” I followed as she left the room and entered Marnie’s. She used the rag to grab a purse and dump its contents on the bed, declaring ‘eureka’ and snatching a cell phone from the jumble just in time for Holly to answer…
“Hey Holly… I’ve got a question for ya.”
“Um… Okay… shoot.”
“That coven you were bullied into joining… Other than Marnie and Mark, were there any other ringleaders?”
“Holly, I love you to death so don’t insult my intelligence by playing dumb. It was the only thing on your mind when I saw you the other day. You know I’m a mind reader, now answer the question.”
“Um… not really ringleaders… Bridget and Giles are more like… um… lackeys.”
“Bridget and Giles? Are you kidding me?”
Sookie huffed, “Because Bridget Bishop and Giles Corey were executed during the Salem Witch Trials.”
Her friend gasped, “You think they’re possessed by dead Witches!?” Seriously? Why didn’t an alleged Witch know better?
“No. I think they weren’t very creative with their aliases. They might as well have used Glenda and Oz. Hallow didn’t channel the ‘wolf-mother’ either, jackass. She was an actual Werewolf… Anyone else?”
“No… the rest of the people I saw at her meetings were just as scared to be there as me… Did you say she ‘was’ a Werewolf? Did you kill the wolf that bit her?”
Sookie’s eyes rolled for longer than mine did. “Holly, do yourself a fucking favor and just be a tree-hugging agnostic. You know jackshit about Supes.”
I whispered, “Awww… does that mean I won’t get my ruby slippers for killing a Witch?”
Sookie covered the phone to snicker while her friend rattled, “Don’t go messing with her. She’s crazy. She’ll kill you…”
“Not likely… I’m going to need the names of everyone in the coven.”
Sookie hissed, “Holly, if you don’t tell me now, you’ll tell me when I come down there and pluck each and every name out of your mind in person…”
Holly had just finished rattling off a list of ‘Witches’ when Sam took the phone from her to ask Sookie ‘what the hell’ Vampires were dragging her into ‘this time’… Sookie shook her head and told him that the only reason she was saying anything was to make it clear that she was hanging up on him.
She crouched down on the floor to take a picture of Marnie’s head with her own phone and then used the contacts already in the phone to send it to each of the coven members with a short message: “Game over.”
Then she wiped the phone with the rag, leaving it on a dresser on her way by and leading the way to the kitchen to take a large cookbook from the counter and leave through the back door. She even thought to take the rag and the crime scene tape with us.
As soon as we were in my car again, she explained that the Witch had been planning to take over my Area by capturing me and using my blood to strengthen herself… The Stonebrooks had been in my Area long enough to gather information about Long Tooth Pack and make killing its Lieutenants to leverage Flood to assist her part of their plans…
I argued that the mysterious spell Mark thought about was unlikely to make me willing to cooperate, but as Sookie leafed through the spellbook I’d mistaken for a cookbook, she found a spell titled ‘Devotion’ that made her borrow my cell again… this time to dial Paulette…
After we explained some of the details, Paulette doubted the spell meant to give Marnie control over me would work… Given my age and strength, Paulette jokingly suggested that I’d ‘beat feet’ to who I was actually devoted to… and then just as jokingly said that Pam should never know that I could have been her puppet.
All Sookie had to do was look at me to let me know she was fully aware that I’d have inexplicably found myself in Bon Temps…