There was something new to Sookie’s mood during the short ride to the hospital… an odd undercurrent I couldn’t put my finger on.
As curious and concerned as I was, my only option other than pushing the matter was scrutinizing what I could feel of her emotions… the silence wasn’t helping either.
When I used the bathroom to change and confirmed she hadn’t finished the blunt, I was actually disappointed… and paranoid that reminding her it was there would be taken the wrong way.
She didn’t say anything until we were at a stop light in front of the hospital and even then it was only to discuss how we would go about getting access to the treatment areas to search for the man we didn’t have a name for… the journals had only described what other telepaths minds felt like to her, but there were two catches that she could think of. 1- There was no guarantee that the man we were sent to find was another telepath and the only experience My Sookie had was with the minds of Vampires. 2- The other Sookie had been searching psychiatric wings, not the actual wards where people would be suffering physically. She explained that when a person is in pain, it’s all they think about.
She took a few deep breaths and held my hand with an iron grip as we left the car waiting and walked into the emergency room and as the automatic doors slid shut behind us, our ‘mystery man’ was standing at the reception counter already.
Navy blue slacks, blue pinstriped dress shirt. Pressed, tailored clothing. Designer shoes and belt. A rose gold Constellation watch by Omega. Smelling of Clive Christian 1872 cologne. Groomed well enough that he appeared to have come directly from a barber (and possibly a manicurist) who knew their trade… The only thing about the ‘mystery man’ that didn’t profile him as an American upper-class professional was the handcuffs he was wearing. Then again, a couple of Enron jokes came to mind.
The officer holding his arm was too busy concentrating on the ass of the nurse walking to the back to notice Sookie and me enter… in an effort to be less obvious, I led Sookie to the automaat next to the restrooms.
As Sookie used her ability, I listened closely to find out that the officer was there to have Mr. Love screened for drug use and have him evaluated by the psychiatric department for reasons that weren’t mentioned when the nurse spoke to a doctor.
All I could do was hope Sookie’s ‘hearing’ had been more helpful since at best I learned that Mr. Love might be under the influence of something and was being taken to curtain area 4.
Sookie finally took a deep breath and began walking to the reception desk with a troubled look on her face that wasn’t entirely forged… “Hey, I’m hoping you can help me out before we end up searching shelters until kingdom come. My cousin called me today because he hasn’t heard from his mom in a while. He’s afraid Aunt Joyce stopped taking her anti-depressants again. Joyce Mackiejewski. 47. 5’ 8”. 150 pounds, but that fluctuates. Brown eyes…” Glamouring our way into the treatment area would have been easier, but not nearly as interesting.
The nurse nodded and stood from her seat, waving us to the doorway. “Yes ma’am… she was working on hypothermia. Found her by the Zoo. She’s warmed up and we were worried we’d have to call the shelter to come get her…” As she led the way she continued, “We’re just waiting for the doc to get her a starter-pack from the pharmacy.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll take care of her.”
The nurse turned enough to show a genuine grin. “She’s so sweet. We hated having to put her out… the doc looked and looked for a reason to admit her, but once she was hydrated and her body temp was back up…”
Sookie finished, “Oh, I understand. There’s nothing y’all can do. Looks like we got here in the nick of time.”
The nurse pulled open curtain #5 to reveal a haggard woman curled up on her side and watching a test signal on a tiny television. “Joyce, I have a bone to pick with you. You told us no one cared, but your niece was turning E Ville upside down to find you.” Sookie put her finger to her lips and winked at the woman as she sat up.
“Uhhhh… That’s what you get for trusting crazy people, kid. You learned something tonight.”
Sookie didn’t balk. Keeping with the act, she went to the woman and hugged her. “Aunt Joyce, if you aren’t gonna let anyone take care of you, the least you can do is stop scaring us… You alright?”
‘Aunt Joyce’ actually returned the hug. “Feeling much better now that I’m warm. What have you been up to?”
“Starving. Freezing. Miserable. Praying for a miracle.”
The woman smirked, not having any way of realizing how honest Sookie had been. “Runs in the family, huh?” The nurse interrupted just long enough to say she would find the doctor and closed the curtain behind herself as she left. Joyce continued by whispering, “Alright girlie, what game are we playing?”
Sookie sat next to her and opened her purse. “Well, Aunt Joyce, I was thinking… I need your strategically placed curtain area.”
“Yes ma’am… And you need somewhere warm to sleep and clean up so that tomorrow you can go ask your son if you can stay with him while you get back on your feet… and I need a few minutes to talk to your neighbor.” She pulled a roll of bills out of her purse and held it up. “Do you think we could come to an agreement on how to make that happen?”
The woman narrowed her eyes. “Did you read my chart or… How did you know?”
“I chilled out in the waiting room until I heard something helpful. $1000? Cab, motel room, breakfast, a trip to Target for some fresh clothes and late Christmas presents for your grandbaby… You’ll have plenty left to get some things to get you started.”
The woman snorted, “Are you the miracle I was praying for?”
Sookie grinned. “You know, I saw Titanic with my Gran… afterwards, she joked that everyone thought that gargantuan luxury liner was a miracle of modern ingenuity… until they needed those little wooden life boats… I guess Gran would say that if I’m your miracle, this is your life boat… but you’re gonna have to do the rowing.”
Joyce took the money gently with a wide grin. “Good for you, girlie. You had a sage for long enough to learn from her… I guess I’m going to go take my time changing while you enjoy your nook.”
Once she was gone I raised my eyebrow. “I might tattle, Sookie. Pam’s not going to be pleased that she missed both shows.”
“What show? You glamoured that poor woman. I tried to stop you, but…” Her counterfeit angelic expression was so perfect Pam wouldn’t have any choice but to believe it.
I chuckled, “Every telepath for herself, yes?”
She nodded. “Oh yeah. You could’ve just glamoured her, but she needed help and I needed some time…” She pointed to the curtain.
“You have the lead. Let me know if you want audience participation.”
She cringed. “You sure?”
I nodded and motioned towards the curtain. “You clearly know what you’re doing.”
She nodded and closed her eyes, feeling more determined with every one of her heartbeats.
Sookie seemed to be speaking to the curtain when she finally said, “What would have happened, Charlie, is you would be in a cell right now instead of a hospital.”
The sound of metal dragging against metal gave her a chill just before the curtain was yanked open. Charlie gaped at her with one arm attached to the safety rails of his gurney by his handcuffs.
“Who are you!?”
“Sookie Stackhouse and Eric Northman. Charmed. Seriously, in that neighborhood? Your Benz would buy a block of houses. If you didn’t get mugged while you were waiting for the cops to respond, you’d get tossed in a cell while they tried to figure out why a guy like you was messing with dumpsters behind a Food Stamp depot.”
“Let me rephrase. What are you? How…”
“I know you’re Charles Adam Love, Charlie away from the office, CFO for a pharmaceutical giant. 39. And somehow you knew how to find the body of a dead girl in a grocery store dumpster.” Ahhh. Lowell Waters’s victim…
He covered his mouth with the back of his free hand and gulped. “I think I’m going… to be sick.”
“Don’t be. It’s not like we’re out to hurt you. Are you a psychic?”
“A… A psychic? Why would you jump to that conclusion?”
She shrugged. “Why not? He’s a Vampire. I’m a telepath. There’s a Werewolf in the smoking area outside.”
“Did you get here before me or after?”
“We got here just after you did. Why?”
“I wanted to make sure I’d get my psych consult before you. You’re going to be here for a while.”
She snickered, “Jokes aside, Charlie. C’mon. Out with it. How did you know she’d be there?”
“I have a better question. How do you know she’s there?”
“Because I’m a telepath. Eric and I were chilling out in the lounge at The E-Ville Aerie Hotel and there was a Vampire there… he was just jittery. Dude was trying to get out of town before her body was found… I’m going to guess you’ve been trying to get someone to listen to you for hours. The Vampire was arrested a couple of hours ago. I’m sure she’s been found by now.”
He slammed his ass onto the gurney… His face was ashen. “So… you what? You heard the Vampire thinking about killing her? How does your thing work?”
“I can’t hear Vampires’ exact thoughts, but I can tell certain things by how their thoughts react… Their minds feel like a mist or a liquid… you know those hypnotic little relaxation desk ornaments with the colored oil in them? They rock from side to side…”
He nodded. “I know them. I have one. What color is it?”
She smirked. “Which one? The one at your office is green, but the one you have at home is pink. It was a Secret-Santa and the box was mismarked so you jumped online and ordered another one because you didn’t want to risk offending the wrong person… Ah… and you suspect it was from your elderly secretary and didn’t want to hurt her feelings by just not using it.”
“Why did I keep the pink one instead of returning it?”
“Because your mom claimed it. It’s on the counter in her bathroom. It lights up so she doesn’t have to turn on the bright overhead in the middle of the night and she watches it when she takes her baths…”
He cut her off, shaking his head and waving his hand. “Holy shit… You’re real.”
“I am. How about you?”
He rolled his eyes and huffed, “I… I’ve never lost anything. EVER. That by itself is kind of weird. Everyone losses something. Keys, at least, right? But… have you ever played Memory with a kid, or Battleship or Hide and Seek or… I don’t just win. I win like I’m cheating. Flip the Scrabble tiles over and give me a word, I’ll choose the tiles to spell it in the right order. Spread a deck of cards, and I’ve tested myself, I can restack the deck in order without flipping the first one over. Mom says, ‘I could’ve sworn we have mustard.’ I say, ‘It’s behind the Kool Aid,’ and I’m playing in another room at the time. The neighbor asks if we’ve seen her cat, I don’t have to help her look because I know the damn thing is in a tree three blocks away. My intern asks if she can leave a few minutes early because her cousin is missing and I think of a grocery store in the shittiest part of town and a Grand Am peeling rubber out from behind it. What the hell is that?”
“You find things? You’re a Human tracking device?”
“Yes. I don’t know how, but if you ask me, I know where anything or anyone is. I don’t even have to try. As soon as I think about it, I know.”
“Do you get an image of where it is or just a physical feeling, like a pull?”
“So if I ask you where a person is, you get imagery of what they’re doing and their surroundings…”
“And now that there’s Google Maps, I can give you an address. I just click and zoom until it feels right. And if you ask for ‘Mike’, I don’t just find any Mike, I can find the right Mike.”
Automatically, like he already knew the answer, he said, “Not far. Maybe five, ten miles. She’s with a man. Both have phones and computers. Looks like shopping.”
“Where is Willis?”
He paused for a moment. “He’s the man with Pam… I can’t just keep a bead on someone. Where is Pam? Where is Willis? Where is Pam’s computer? Where is Willis’s wallet? Where is Pam? He just told her he found a P-coat in Hunter’s size.” Not bad. Not as fantastic as Ema’s portrait of Sookie and me, but worth noticing… Maybe it was worth asking where Sookie’s Faerie relatives were so that we could all get some answers about the skips.
“No. She’s not single… Where’s my father?”
“Dead. That’s another thing. Your father’s name is Corbett and I know that from the image of a headstone, but if he’d been cremated, I’d just get a scenic view of where he was scattered… Yours died the same year mine did.” That was a curious coincidence.
“I can tell. I’m in your head while we roll… How about Atlantis?”
Without missing a beat, he laughed, “Also known as the Canary Islands. Some TV show got me when I was a kid. I couldn’t wait to get to school the next day so I could put my fingers on a globe. And just so you know, DB Cooper never existed.”
Sookie grinned. “How’s that?”
“I was playing Trivial Pursuit with friends a while back. The question was ‘Where do Fraggles live?’ I knew it was Fraggle Rock, but I see a guard making rounds in a museum. Ask me where Lady Gaga is even though it’s not her real name and I can tell you she’s got an almost empty pack of mallowmars on her lap and she covered in snot because she’s watching Steel Magnolias… Ask me where DB Cooper is… Nothing. No grave. No scenic view. No parachute stuck in a tree. He was a fabrication. Ask me who made up DB Cooper and I see a headstone that says Anderson.”
I finally offered something to the conversation. “To answer your earlier question, it sounds like a variety of clairvoyance. And when Pam asks you where ANY fashion designer is, don’t answer her.” She’d have no problem bringing over Vera Wang and Christian Louboutin… she’d make an army, force them to design their own collars and leashes and keep them in a sweatshop.
Sookie snickered, “CPS. Charlie Positioning System.”
He rubbed his eyes and shook his head, but he was grinning. “I’ve never… I can’t believe you don’t think I’m nuts.”
“Says the clairespy to the telepath and the Vampire.”
He snarled and practically whined, “Clair E Spy? Really? That’s what it’s called? It sounds like a bad porn name.”
Sookie shrugged. “Clair means seeing clearly. Espy means seeing from a distance. I made it up. If you don’t like it, make your own word. Clairvoyant is taken. Can I call you Carmen Sandiego?”
He chuckled for a moment before what Sookie said got his attention. “Taken? You know another one?”
Sookie nodded towards me as my cue. “We do. In fact, we’re here because she sent us to find you.”
“Me? How can you be sure?”
I quoted Sookie, “Says the clairespy to the telepath and the Vampire.”
“She… how did she hear about me to know where to find me?”
“She didn’t. Her gift works differently. She’s an automatic writer. She enters a trancelike state and sketches or writes. I have a well drawn sketch of you in our hotel room and a list that probably includes a few words pertaining to you.”
“That’s phenomenal. So… Do you two work for her? What does she know about me?”
“We don’t work for her…” I reached for his handcuffs and pulled the bracelet open for him while I tried to formulate an answer… It put me close enough to realize he smelled similar to Sookie. That inherent sweetness could only be masked so much by his cologne.
Sookie offered, “Eric is kind of our Professor X. There’s some folks who’d be less than nice about getting a mind reader or a psychic in their corner. I found that out the hard way. My little cousin and another telepath are on their way to go with us to where he lives in Europe. Help us regroup or whatever so no one could take advantage. The automatic writer is going with us too. She’s barely out of high school and her family doesn’t know what to do with her gift. Eric has been around the block enough to give everyone some tips on how to stay safe and under the radar.”
“Am I being vetted? Recruited? Abducted like some sort of Military operation?”
I shook my head. “None of the above. We don’t know why she drew you except for the connection to Lowell Waters’s victim. Sookie had already solved the case though. Even if you were questioned in regards to how you discovered the victim in the dumpster, the Vampire had already confessed unofficially. Since we’re the only ones to know about you, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to keep your ability to yourself… Unless of course, you continue trying to solve murders.”
“Well, I actually paid for school with reward money… another TV show… some big art heist. Sookie, are you the only one in your family with anything? I’m an only child.”
She shook her head. “No. My cousin is 4 and I just found out about him and that he’s like me… My father used to get the occasional feeling if something big was about to happen and my brother could feel other people’s emotions…” Even if her version of them didn’t live long enough to find out. “What about your parents?”
“The running joke is that my father could talk plants into growing. The sad irony of things is that my poor mom calls me 20 times a day to ask me where she put something. She’s got early stages of dementia. She’s the only one who knows about this… me.”
I had something to add to the topic, but Joyce’s sudden return interrupted…
Sookie introduced her to Charlie as her real estate agent.
Since Joyce had been found en route to the restroom by the nurse with her discharge papers, leaving was as simple as glamouring the officer to turn over Charlie’s personal effects and release him… and then Sookie informed the nurse he’d been flirting with that he was married.
After putting Joyce in a cab, Sookie practically sat in my lap as we had the driver take Charlie back to the police station to get his car. She didn’t move once we dropped him off with an invitation to join the other ‘extra-Humans’ for dinner once everyone arrived.
Asking her if Charlie’s thoughts bothered her, then the driver’s, if she was worried about Joyce, if she was tired, if she was feeling ill, and if she was uncomfortable or cold only earned repeated shakes of her head that confirmed that I wasn’t missing something in her mood.
She was feeling something close to fear… Specifically asking about that probably would have caused her pain by reminding her of why she was anxious in public, so I ignored the urge to ask if she was afraid of something in particular.
I expected her tension to ease once we returned to the hotel, or at least our room, but her mood hadn’t improved by the time she disappeared into the bathroom. She only spoke to apologize for hugging Joyce and tell me she was taking a bath… I wasn’t given the opportunity to try to reassure her that I wasn’t bothered before she closed the door.
I distracted myself from the situation by making arrangements for the flight back to the Netherlands and emailing Dinh and Saskia about the additional guests while I waited for Pam to check in.
I was just finishing when she knocked on the door and as soon as I opened the door, she asked, “What’s wrong?”
“Sookie’s in an inscrutable mood. She’s not nearly as cheerful as you would expect given what she just did.”
“What happened then?”
“The man in the drawing was being checked in by an officer when we arrived. Sookie and I waited for a few minutes. In the amount of time it took for me to eavesdrop to hear that the man’s last name was Love, Sookie put together an entire scenario. So that we’d be allowed into the treatment area, she found a homeless woman to claim as an aunt and knew most of her medical and family history. She offered the woman a thousand dollars for the use of her ‘strategically placed’ curtained area that just so happened to be next to the one where Mr. Love was handcuffed to a bed. As it turned out, the mystery man was there for a ‘psych consult’ because he was claiming to know where the body of Lowell Waters’s victim was. Anything and everything can be found by that man. We tested him. We asked where you were and he saw you and Willis shopping. Did you go with the P-coat for Hunter?”
Her eyes widened and she gasped, “That’s fucking incredible!”
“Yes it is. The Faerie scent is just as strong for him. He can locate the dead as well… He mentioned while we gave him a ride to his car that he looks up missing children and makes anonymous tips when they’re still alive to balance that he’s used his ability for personal success.”
“That’s impressive. In one night you’ve collected two psychics and two more telepaths…”
“Fuck… Did you need anything? Is your shopping going smoothly?”
She shook her head, confused by my outburst. “Everything is fine. Willis is doing most of the shopping because I keep going back to the journal. I was waiting for you to get back before starting the conversation we need to have… What’s wrong?”
“I just realized what’s bothering Sookie.”
She nodded and started for the door. “Call me if you need anything.”
I barely waited for Pam to close the door behind herself before I knocked on the bathroom door, but Sookie was already done.
She opened the door to let the room be flooded with the scent of her soaps that almost completely masked that she finally did finish the joint from earlier.
“Do I still smell homeless?”
“I didn’t complain, Sookie.”
She looked at her feet. “I know. I’m sorry.”
“What are you apologizing for?”
She shrugged without looking up. “You’re getting mad again.”
“Sookie, would it help if I promised to tell you if it’s ever because of you?”
She shrugged again. “I don’t know.”
I was going to need to burn Compton in effigy every fucking night… “I’m going to shower and then we’ll talk.”
She nodded again without looking up and stepped to the side, assuming she was in my way.
Even though I was struggling to think of a way to say what I needed to, I still rushed through my shower. The same amount of pot that made her giggle and smile and light up earlier hadn’t done anything to improve her mood this time. If anything, her mood had deteriorated.
She was standing in the middle of the room, doing absolutely nothing other than wait for me when I opened the bathroom door. Any reason I could think of to explain why just made me want to kill someone.
“Where will you be more comfortable?”
She shrugged and shook her head.
I knew she wanted to go to the bed. I could feel it strongly enough it was as though the fucking room was leaning. I had to make the conscious effort to be gentle when I took her hand and led her to the bed… she stood still while I pulled the robe from her shoulders and laid it on the foot of the bed… she didn’t budge until I lifted the bedding so she could slide between the sheets.
She numbly followed my lead until I laid down behind her… she was surprised that I didn’t go to the other side of the bed.
“What is this?”
She tensed when she asked, “Spooning?” I’d been referring to her mood, but at least she answered.
“Do you mind it?”
“No… I… I don’t mind.”
“This is good. I asked two questions and you answered both with words. Let’s try another one…”
“You’re making fun of me?”
“No. I’m using sarcasm because I’m trying to piss you off so that you’ll hit me or kick me or yell. I know how to react to that. We’re stuck in a catch-22 and it’s driving me mad. You become timid because of what’s happened to you which leads to me wanting to kill Compton all over again, then you reflexively think you’re the reason for my anger and become more nervous.”
She whimpered, “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you apologizing?”
“I don’t… I’m pissing you off… I can’t help it…”
“We need to work on this problem. I know you have it in you to voice your opinions and preferences. I want to hear them. You wanted to come to bed. Why didn’t you just say as much? If you hadn’t had my blood I wouldn’t have known.”
“Because… I’m already too much trouble.”
“No. You aren’t. Give me an example of how you think you’ve been trouble.”
“You’re in America to begin with…”
“Even with the extra weight and the pluck to punch me, do you honestly think either of You could have gotten me onto a plane against my will?”
“You got guilt tripped into helping me…”
“Sookie was surprised when I offered to help you…”
“You had to kill three Vampires…”
“They were pathetic examples of Vampires…”
“You pissed of a Queen and a King…”
“That was fun. Think about it. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to tell Sophie-Ann to go fuck herself ever since I retired. And Crowe isn’t pissed. He’s showing his teeth to a bigger dog because he’s hoping I don’t want to stay in his yard for long.”
“And now you’re stuck supporting me like I’m an orphan…”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Go fuck yourself. I can say it in a dozen languages. If clothing and meals were an imposition I would tell you to go fuck yourself. Try it. It’s quite liberating.”
She didn’t say anything, but I wasn’t sure if she realized I wasn’t still being sarcastic.
Instead of asking her to roll over to face me, I climbed over her. “Say it.”
“You were serious?”
“I was. Say ‘go fuck yourself’.”
“Because I don’t mean it.”
“You might not want me to go fuck myself, but I’m sure you can think of someone who should have heard it.”
She shook her head and looked away from me. “Eric, don’t…”
I lifted her chin so she would look at me again. “Someone who wronged you…”
“It doesn’t do any good now.”
“I think it’ll help.”
“Because somehow you have it in your head that you’re nothing but a telepath. I think that instead of being proud of yourself for what you did at the hospital, you started worrying that you’d nailed your own coffin shut… You figured that with Hunter and Brandon and Ema and Charlie at my disposal, I wouldn’t want to keep the one who needs extra attention…” She started crying again and even though I expected it, I still hated it. “Why would I care about you anymore if I had access to all of the others’ abilities? How could you possibly be worth the investment?”
“Hunter’s too young to work, but Brandon isn’t and I could fuck Ema, yes?”
“You went back, didn’t you? You were in that cage again. You were a worthless slut. Fuck. Feed. Read minds. That’s all you’re good for. I’m not feeding from you. I’m not fucking you. And I’ve got more telepaths on the way. You didn’t have any way left to earn your keep.”
“And now that I’ve seen Ema’s drawings, of course I think less of you.”
“That’s what was going through your head, is it not?”
“Please, Eric I don’t want… I don’t want to think about it.”
“I think you need to. I think you need to because it’s not going away. Hearing me say it doesn’t make it sound wrong to you. You actually think you’re worthless. You were convinced you were nothing by bottom feeders who killed to acquire you and kept you in a safe…”
“No. It’s time for you to stop being afraid of what I think of you. I want you to be furious that you were treated like shit… You are more than they ever were. They knew it. They proved they knew it by treating you the way they did. You saw that house… Wedgwood, Tiffany, Waterford, Ming and Yuan vases, Picassos, Renoirs… It was all in the open. What did they lock up?”
She closed her eyes and whimpered, “Me.”
“They knew how valuable you are. They just didn’t want you to know… Compton ran when his Maker was ended. That festering prick was a so-called soldier, but he ran like a fucking coward when his Maker died. He murdered how many of your loved ones? And you kept fighting. You made millions for them and in those fucks never realized how precious your smile is. Fuck them. Say it.”
“Fuck… Fuck them.”
“Louder. Fuck them!”
“You had it in you to put the stake in his heart yourself. He ran. You held your ground. You’re stronger than you give yourself credit for and I’m going to remind you of that until you don’t need me to. Fuck them.”
“You can come and go as you please. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you choose. You can wear what you want. Get high, take a nap, read a book, shop online from the bathtub. You are free of your cage. It doesn’t do any good for you to stay in it now that the door is open.”
She nodded slightly. “I’ll try…”
“You were Sookie Stackhouse for much longer than you were their prisoner. There will be no more suggesting that parts of you are dead. They aren’t dead. They’re waiting to make sure the coast is clear.”
Her nod was a little bigger than the last. “K.”
She grinned. “Yeah. Fuck them.”
“That sassy little bitch I followed onto a plane is in there. We’re going to get her back.”
“And I want my ass back.” She was completely serious.
I laughed, “It’s good that your priorities are in order.”
“Body and soul… I want all of me back.”
“A complete Sookie sounds perfect.”
She smiled, blushing. “You’re very sweet. Have I said thank you tonight?”
“Yes, you have.”
“Well, thanks again. Pam was right about you having the patience of Job.”
“When did she say that?”
“Before you got to Shreveport. She heard that you weren’t in touch with your Pam and asked what she did.”
“It wasn’t her. I missed her from the first night she was gone. We were both being stubborn over something stupid. If I hadn’t been shackled to Europe, I would have come to her years ago and I’m sure that she assumed that since I didn’t make contact, it meant I didn’t want to see her.”
“If… if you didn’t want to be King, why did you do it? I mean, it wasn’t an accident like that Eric that’s King of Louisiana was it?”
“No… Promise you won’t tell Pam. None of them.”
She nodded. “I promise.”
“We’ve established that I’ve been an enforcer… Halfdan contacted me because he wanted me to do a job for him. It isn’t at all uncommon to be blind as to details at first. I left St. Petersburg and went to Amsterdam where I was given the minutia of the job. Halfdan had been feuding with Clovis of France since I was a newborn. He finally bought the endorsement of 8 of Frances 12 Lords. The job Halfdan was hiring me to do was taking over France for him…”
She gasped, “LAZY!”
“That’s what I called him when I refused to end the four uncooperative French Lords and the five of his own that disapproved of the coup openly.”
“Well, since he already told me the details, he ended my Maker.”
“Oh my God! Eric…”
“It was the dumbest move a King has ever made. He came to me and gave me a week to do the job… or he’d end Pam next…”
She sat up to look down at me with her hands over her mouth. “That asshole!”
She nodded. “Definitely… So… how did you…?”
“The reason he wanted me to end the Lords is because he would have needed to end Clovis himself to become the King of France with the rest of his Empire like a Human monarch would do. Well, they used to do it that way. Now Europe is full of old, ugly, decrepit monarchs. Beatrix, Elizabeth, Margrethe, Albert…”
I chuckled, enjoying the glance of her sass and hoping for more. “I went down the hit list. That fuck hired a stranger to murder his own child. Klaasje had been at his side for all of her 800 years and he wasn’t going to have the decency to end her himself. After I talked to her, I went to France. My first meeting there was with Clovis. I gave him the list of his Lords I was to kill for refusing to endorse Halfdan and offered to end his eight traitors in exchange for his support when I ended Halfdan and took the Empire. Needless to say, Clovis went for it. Meanwhile, back in the Low Countries, Halfdan had Klaasje arranging for the summit that was going to make it easier for me to end her… As planned, Clovis was there with his entourage. I ended Halfdan as he was on his way to put his ugly ass on his throne…”
“In front of God and everybody?”
“Haven’t you heard? I’m cocky.”
“You don’t say… So… when everyone found out why you did it, everything was cool?”
“Except for the fact that I was stuck with a throne despite the fact that I’ve never had any desire to rule, yes.”
She gaped and I might have been bothered that I couldn’t define what she was feeling if it didn’t seem like she was having the same problem.
“You also promised to not tell Pam.”
“Absolutely not. I swear.”
“Was King Crowe right? Are there any Lords working against you?”
“I had to replace three Lords. Klaasje was promoted. One left when I offered to buy their title from them with no hard feelings. One was stupid enough to try to find allies to help in his crusade against me.”
“That’s why he called it the coup of the century. Because you double crossed a really old King… Two can play at that game?”
I nodded. “But only one can win.”