The pulsing insanity of Sookie’s previous Red Bull binge was nothing. Either we were bonded or I was going to have to peel her from the fucking ceiling once the sun fully set.
I felt like my brain was going to vibrate out of my ears. It was ridiculous. There was no way she could’ve been working effectively.
What’s worse… my foot was shaking impatiently. She’d had enough energy drinks to make me fidget.
When I sat up to go to the shower, so that I’d be doing something with the insane energy I was feeling, I noticed a note on my nightstand next to where my phone was charging…
‘Patience and fortitude conquer all things…
I guess Emerson never dealt with vampire pets.
I’ll be up as soon as possible.
I couldn’t help but get a chuckle from her note, even if her mental disarray was rattling.
It took an effort on my part… I filled my unused time focusing on what had happened before I died and it wasn’t coming easily. Bringing much more than a moment or two back to my thoughts was difficult. Each instant was clouded enough to make me wonder if it was memory or fantasy… but it was one hell of a fantasy… every random second I had to drag out of the depths of my psyche only made me want Sookie to hurry back to me so that we could revisit them… The odor in our room was heavy enough with cum and blood and her sweat to cause an ache… the glance it took back to our bed became a long consideration. My first thought when I saw the smears and pools of our blood was that I’d never seen so welcome a sight… comfortable, relaxed… home.
When I realized how much time I put into trying to recall our bonding and that I was still unfathomably attached to the sight of the macabre homage to Jackson Pollack that had become our sheets, I started to worry about what was keeping Sookie at bay.
Her mood wasn’t as peppy as I expected given her energy, but I felt her getting closer.
It was far more intense than I’d been able to feel her before…
Before it was a sense of general distance… Once I’d put the ring on I could feel her location as easily as I could standing next to her with my eyes closed…
Not anymore. I could feel her so precisely that I could tell she was on the left side of the elevator… like I could reach out and stop the elevator to play with her ‘sensibilities’.
I thought to try removing the ring and when I did, her location became more abstract, more like it had been before we bonded… What I still had with Pam…
Sookie was closer. She was moving up, but it wasn’t as exact that I felt like I was with her…
Paulette had earned one hell of a bonus for that spell… and more if I found myself needing it.
She came into the room more calmly than I expected. Alcide was calling after her that he’d be back after his shower.
In spite of the electric mood, her smile was sedate. “Hey, how long have you been up? Are you pissed and turned on about something?” We were definitely bonded.
“Just a few minutes… How much Red Bull have you had?”
She sat on the edge of the bed to face me and took a moment to stare at the ‘mess’ we’d made. “God only knows. I’ve been slamming them back since breakfast…”
“How have you been working?”
“Nonstop… Are you awake enough for an update? Do you spend any time being groggy or something?”
“I’m fine. Has something happened?”
“Well… I’ve been making a list all day. I don’t really know where to start.”
“Well, Alcide came and got me at about 9 because the concierge called him about the madness downstairs. When we got there the lobby had 50 some-odd pets waiting for me. Thank God Sydney had our breakfasts taken to us in Shed.” That would explain the need for energy drinks. I hadn’t noticed until then that she had dark circles under her eyes…
I pushed her hair away from her neck to make sure her bite marks had healed, feeling like an asshole for resenting her energy. “So you didn’t get much sleep.”
“Eric, I didn’t get any sleep. You had just died… I was still catching my breath when Alcide knocked on the door.”
“9am? I didn’t die until 9 am?”
“I checked… Sunrise was technically before 7. Ever done that before?”
“No. But I was told that it would happen. I just wasn’t expecting 2 extra hours. How much do you remember?”
She let out a loud breath like she’d been holding it. “Oh, thank God! I felt so bad that I couldn’t remember much.”
“I barely remember anything.” Considering that we’d ‘lost’ 6 fucking hours, my memories accounted for barely any of it… 15 minutes at best.
“It came to me slowly. I still don’t remember everything. It kind of pisses me off.”
I took her hand and pulled her to my lap. “Why is that?”
“Because I remember this feeling… like everything, but nothing at the same time… and I had no idea that 6 hours was gone, that you’d died… when Alcide knocked on the door, I thought it was Pam coming to make fun of us.”
“Not much of anything has come to me yet, unless you consider that I’m looking forward to next time. Our visitors mentioned that they had the same problem. They planned to record it.”
She giggled, her cheeks already blushing. “Oh, I don’t think so….”
“We’ll see… maybe I’ll use my IOU for that.”
“I’ll bite your nose off.”
I laughed at her ‘delicate sensibilities’. “Was that all we needed to talk about? Our time-lapse fucking binge?”
“I wish… Um… once the first wave of pets was taken care of, I came upstairs to get changed and your phone rang… it turns out it had been ringing for hours. Fangtasia… The fire inspectors and insurance adjustors… detectives… Flood called Alcide. He’s freaking out because he’s worried that you’ll blame his Weres for not catching it.”
“I’ll call him. I need to tell him that Pea Ridge has been moving through my Area anyway. That won’t make him a happy dog…”
“Are they territorial?” She asked as though it would be cliché.
“Very. He won’t care if they just drive through, like I don’t care if a vampire does… but knowing that Jennifer and Peter have Pea Ridge Weres staying here in Baton Rouge, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve got some of the Jonesboro Pack squatting in his territory and lying to him about why. I’m sure that Flood has already called the Packmaster of the Red Stick Pack to let him know that Herveaux is working here as a courtesy.”
“I could mention it to Alcide.”
“It’s better to keep him out of it. Why will he be back after his shower?”
“Because he was helping me today. Turns out he can type faster than I can write. So I took notes and then he typed up replies and sent them out to save time.”
“How many did you read today?”
She shrugged. “215… give or take.”
“Sookie… that’s too much. How the fuck are you going to…”
“Fit it all into the safe? I know, right?”
“You know that isn’t what I’m worried about.”
“I know. I’m holding up. I’d rather not think about it… the good news is that out of all those pets, only 14 vampires are coming in tonight… the rest of them got emails.”
“Only 14 were guilty of something unpleasant?”
“No. Only 14 were guilty of something I felt weird telling their master about in a text… One of them… one of them is more than likely getting handed over to Andre. He had the balls to send a pet to get read when he’s been spending a lot of time in Little Rock.”
“That’s what I said.”
“So what’s on your agenda tonight?”
“I wasn’t done.” Fuck.
Her lip pulled up. “While Sydney was setting us up in Shed, she mentioned that a friend of mine checked in just before dawn and asked which room I was in.”
“Were you expecting any friends?”
“This supposed friend is a vampire. She checked into a double room under the name Caroline Holiday.”
“The name isn’t familiar…”
“It is to me… she’s buried next door to my house.”
“Bill’s wife. Caroline Holiday Compton.”
“Someone checked into the hotel using Bill’s wife’s name as an alias and asked for your room number.”
She nodded, seeming to already know what that meant. “Petite brunette in flashy clothes. She pouted when Sydney wouldn’t put her on the same floor as us… It’s Bill’s maker, isn’t it.”
I nodded. “That would be a very safe bet. Lorena. She’s deranged enough to not care that you’re mine. She’s come here to cause trouble… Not that you make a habit out of it, but you don’t leave my side tonight until I’ve taken care of her. If you need to use the restroom, we’ll come upstairs.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to kill her. Maybe not tonight because I don’t want to give Salome more to deal with, but eventually I’m going to end that cunt.”
She took a hard swallow, making me think twice about not trying to sugarcoat. “Why?”
“It isn’t enough that she seems to have some sort of ax to grind with you?”
“Because you don’t know that she can’t be reasoned with.”
“I’m sure that she blames you for Bill being ended. Even if she were usually even-tempered when a maker loses a child, there is very little diplomacy that will help.”
“I don’t want her… to die because of me.”
“If she didn’t choose to be here, then she wouldn’t be in danger.”
She gave me a hard stare. “Don’t start lying to me now.”
“Let me rephrase. If she didn’t seem to be determined to confront you about something that is her own doing, then we wouldn’t be talking about ending her, just punishing her.”
“How would you go about punishing her?”
“No. Just for her.”
“Eric, I…” There wasn’t any point to arguing about Lorena’s fate. Sookie wasn’t going to be able to talk me out of anything and I doubted I’d be able to make her understand why.
“Was there anything else that I need to brace myself for?”
She huffed, angry and frustrated but doing her best to not let it show. “Jason called to say that Sam stormed out of Merlotte’s a few minutes after Lafayette asked how I was. So I’m half expecting him to show up… And Franklin Mott sent me flowers.”
“Your shifter is going to get hurt.”
“What are you going to do to him?” Beat the shit out of him for his less than perfect timing… Lorena was enough grudge to be had for the time.
“Nothing more than he provokes. I can’t excuse a challenge in public and if he stormed out of his own business, I doubt he’s going to be rational if he comes here.”
“So like what you did with Jason? Get his attention so he’ll shut his pie hole?”
“I might have to silence him until you have the chance to talk to him privately, but yes. I know you care about him.”
“Why not do that with Lorena then?”
“Because a vengeful vampire isn’t something you leave as a loose end, Sookie. Your shifter may be annoyingly obtuse, but I doubt that he’s a threat to you… You mentioned flowers. Why would you bring that up?”
“Because Franklin Mott had an arrangement of yellow and dark pink roses sent to me with broken teeth mixed into the marbles in the vase. The card said ‘Thank you for the divine dinner, Miss Stackhouse. I’m looking forward to returning the favor. F.Mott.”
I couldn’t help myself. I laughed, if for no better reason but the disgusted look on her face.
She slapped my shoulder. “It’s creepy!”
“You’re spoiled, Sookie. Not all vampires pay attention to human etiquette. As ‘creepy’ as you think it is, Mott sent you a very heartfelt thank you.”
“That’s it. I quit…” She tried to leave my lap, but when I held onto her, she barely resisted. “…I don’t want a damn collection of teeth!”
“Did you pay attention to his age? I’m going to guess that he’s about 400 years old.”
“I guess… just a little older than Pam. Why?”
“Because when he was alive it would have been acceptable for him to do that. In fact… You should consider yourself lucky to have received flowers and teeth instead of a dairy cow and hands.”
Her mouth opened, but nothing came out while she stared.
“You’ll get used to it. You might not ever be able to stomach it all, but there are a lot of vampires who cling to older customs. I’m not an exception.”
“Hence you going straight to killing Lorena instead of reasoning with her.”
“You’re not going to let it go are you?”
“Then I’ll try a different approach, but I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the subject.”
She huffed, folding her arms. “Fine.”
“Say you’re driving late at night and you run over a child playing in the road without any supervision. You kill him.”
She gasped. The idea alone brought tears to her eyes. “I’d die! I couldn’t live with myself.”
“Of course you’d feel guilty… but then, the mother of the child who was left unattended began stalking you and planning her revenge.”
“I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“No doubt, but in her grief she isn’t thinking clearly enough to accept her own responsibility for not attending to her child’s needs. Now, when she arrives at your door, armed and prepared to kill you, are you going to let her?”
She narrowed her eyes… slapped my cheek… and stood from my lap. “Go get your shower.” I win.
“Tell me you see the logic, Sookie.”
She walked over to the closet to start angrily shoving hangers along the rod. “Shut up.”
“I see the damn logic, you big jerk. Promise me one thing?” It was hard to not laugh at her little fit.
“Wait to get your way long enough to figure out how she knew I was here.”
“It couldn’t be rumors? You’ve been public for 4 days.”
“Bill got a lot of calls from a 206 area code. If that’s her, she was in Seattle. I doubt the rumors spread that fast. Bill was ended 6 nights ago… it would’ve taken her a couple nights to get to Shreveport and turn up nothing before heading to New Orleans… She could’ve been around to find out that I was doing the clinic… but…”
“You’re right. It’s more likely that she was told of your whereabouts.”
She turned from the closet just enough to flash a smirk in my direction.
“Did Bill ever speak of friends in Arkansas?”
“No, but he wouldn’t… There was a lot he didn’t bother mentioning.”
“Good point. Is that all we needed to talk about? Fucking past dawn, wearing yourself out, Fangtasia went boom, Bill’s psychotic maker, your ‘creepy’ thank you gift and your potentially problematic Shifter.”
She laughed, “Isn’t that enough?”
I surprised her, sneaking up from behind while her attention was still on the rack of clothes. She squeaked, but still hugged my arms when they went around her waist. “There’s the matter of a broken promise we should discuss.”
“Mmmmm hmmmm… and what would that be?”
“You promised to bring me another ‘treat’, but you smell like Herveaux and the casino.”
She giggled, “You’re kind of a brat.”
“I don’t like being lied to.”
She tried to move away and when I held her still, she told me to move with her… Sookie led me to the bathroom and pointed to the counter. “I wouldn’t lie… but life got in the way… I did think of you though.”
There was a dark blue dress shirt neatly folded on the counter. “You think you can make up for your scent with a shirt. Sorry, Sookie…”
She tilted her head back to interrupt me with a kiss. “I wore it while I was in the sun. It smells like me.”
“You…” It’s all I could manage… nothing else was forming coherent sentences… She’d had no sleep and delved into the minds of hundreds, too many humans… had warnings about her temperamental shifter and a vengeful vampire… all while her head felt like a teeming anthill… but she thought of me.
“I knew by 3ish that even if I got a break, it wouldn’t be long enough. I ran into the boutique and bought that and wore it while I listened to pets by the pool. Hopefully it’s enough to tide you over.”
“That was very thoughtful. Thank you. I was just picking on you though… I understand that you were busy.”
“I still didn’t want you to wake up to nothing… Alcide made fun of me for using an Italian silk shirt as a bathing suit cover. He called me Princess again.”
I was grateful for the diversion. I kissed her neck and let her loose so that I could go to the shower before I made other plans for us. “Are you getting used to it yet?”
She slid onto the counter as I stepped into the tub. “Nope. Not going to either. 215 minds trying to figure out what their master could want from ‘trash’ like me is gonna keep. me. humble.”
“They were assuming you’re competition?”
“Competition, business, lusting after Alcide, picturing me naked… a couple of them thought I was part of some vampire mafia… I can’t really blame them though. I mean, I was dealing with a steady stream of humans… All of them brought cash and an envelope and I asked them what they thought about their masters while I pretended to read the disclosures… Did I tell you that I’m not ‘allowed’ to tan tomorrow. Alcide is starting to get a sunburn.”
I laughed, “He needs to find somewhere shaded to sit.”
“That’s what I told him. He bitched that there isn’t a shady spot close enough to a sunny place. The best I’m going to get is an hour or so in the afternoon.”
“You’ll have to settle for that then, Princess.”
She blew a raspberry and stomped out of the bathroom…
She didn’t stop talking to me though.
While I showered, begrudgingly alone, we covered topics that we’d ignored the night before…
Seigbert’s thought that invaded Sookie’s mind when Salome apologized for Mickey’s behavior wasn’t in English other than Hadley’s name… when I offered a few options, it seemed like he’d only compared the two childish vampires. Sookie was still unhappy to have heard the thought at all… understandably so… but she tried to make peace with the incident since including my thoughts she could still count on her hands how many times she’d heard vampires…
It was going to remain ‘our little secret’.
The reason Michelle referred to me as ‘another one’ was because Sookie was the first telepath she’d ever met and when she tried to hear my thoughts, she was met with the same ‘nothingness’ as when Sookie was using her shields… another curiosity about her gift. And as it turned out, the reason for so much of their ‘silent conversation’ was because Michelle was awed by how Sookie partitioned her mind, which she didn’t realize she was doing. She was concentrating on one area of the casino at a time and Michelle described the area she was focusing on as being under a spotlight in an otherwise empty and dark room… Sookie was at a loss as to how to explain the ‘red masses’ since Michelle wasn’t party to knowledge of Weres yet… Michelle had also been very interested about the ‘amazing’ difference between Sookie’s mind and Sookie’s mind with my ‘help’…
Sookie joked that she wasn’t willing to share me, but offered to help her experiment.
Knowing that Sookie had read hundreds of minds, thousands when I considered the last time she rested, I wasn’t sure ‘playing’ with Michelle would be a good idea, but suggesting that Sookie postpone her ‘date’ wasn’t an option… she’d been so completely alone in her gift that I wasn’t going to deprive her of her excitement. I couldn’t imagine life as anything and not meeting another for 25 years. Understanding that her young cousin was most likely a telepath and eventually going to be in her care in some capacity was good enough reason to let her coach Michelle to harness her ability. The practice would be helpful.
Over the course of the long day she’d had, she tried using Alcide’s mind as she uses mine and found that every thought he had became crystal clear other than the ‘reddish filter’, but he was no help when it came to anything else. Selfishly, I couldn’t be disappointed… I liked that she depended on me for something… even if it was a byproduct of something else I enjoyed. Touching her.
By the time I was done dressing, and saving my shirt for last, she was standing at the mirror applying her makeup in a flirty little strapless cocktail dress, reminding me of the warning I’d gotten about how she looked in light blue… She let a sad little laugh escape when she noticed what the way she was bent over the dresser was doing to me.
Her dress and my new shirt made for an interesting combination of stimuli. My shirt was no less intoxicating than Sookie was. I was torn between wearing it, her scent and saving the pleasure of it to savor later… being the prideful bastard that I am, I decided to wear it… and invite her to pre-wear all of my shirts… she was laughing gently by the time I ended my list of requests by asking her to roll around on all of my bed linens, but she told me to pick a shirt for her to wear tomorrow just in case…
How pleased she was that her gesture made me ‘happy’ made me feel as close to touched as I’d ever been.
Paulette was waiting in the living room when we emerged from our room, as ready as possible for the intense evening ahead…
Her girlish grin was a digression from the remarkable powers she’d come to demonstrate. “I heard that you were very impressed with Sookie’s idea.”
“My only disappointment was that she hadn’t already aligned plans for reciprocal spells.”
She giggled. “Pam took care of that. She woke me up to plan some errands for me before she went to bed. All I need is a drop of you and her… She said that you’d want to pick Sookie’s yourself.”
“She was right, but don’t tell her that. What did she select?”
When she opened one of the boxes to reveal a large pink bauble, I worried for a moment that Pam would expect me to wear it. Even jokingly, she’d have to dodge it. It would be a projectile before I’d wear anything that gaudy or epicene… but when the second box contained a much smaller square of black and gold, Pam was unknowingly granted a pardon from the firing squad.
I watched Paulette combine herbs with my drop of blood with her jade mortar and pestle while I spoke to Fritz at the glass art studio they’d found. His pathetic grasp of French made asking for what I had in mind for Sookie easier as far as secrets were concerned… ‘Papillion bleu’ eluded her…
As soon as I set my phone down, she poked my ribs from behind me and laid her head on my back. “That’s not fair.”
“I won’t be able to do it for long. I plan to teach you several languages.”
She giggled. “Good luck with that. I barely passed high school English.”
“You didn’t have a private tutor. If you can retain random facts about antiquated dragon lore and quote Emerson from memory, you’ll have no difficulty with two or three more languages.”
“If you say so, boss… Start with pretty languages though. Not French. It’s too phlegmy.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “What do you consider ‘pretty’ then?”
“I don’t know Scandinavian, Cyrillic, the other Romance languages… French is just pretentious… and…”
She poked my ribs again. “Embrasse mon cul.” Cajun slang learned from her little backwater would explain her revulsion of the French language.
“Is that an invitation?”
She giggled, but it turned into a yawn. “Always.”
I turned to put my arm around her and it took her eyes too long to focus on me. “You won’t be working late tonight.”
She shook her head slightly. Thanks to her energy drinks, her mind was perfectly alert, but her body was showing its wear… it was almost like she was being pulled to rest. “No… the vampires that are coming in about their pets were told ‘until midnight’. Right now I’m hoping I make it that long.”
“And you’ll rest tomorrow.”
“I’ll be fine with some sleep.”
“You’ll be better with a late day… If you push yourself past the constraints of the contracts you have with Salome and Sophie-Ann, then others might take it as provocation to ignore that part of your contract too.”
She mumbled against my shoulder, ‘good loophole,’ but she pushed herself away so that she didn’t fall asleep on her feet. She needed to ‘keep moving’.
When Pam made her entrance, she stopped in her doorway and evaluated the room… I knew what was coming. She started laughing in her throat, pointing between Sookie and me. “It’s about fucking time.”
Sookie rolled her eyes and disappeared into our room with fresh sheets since the maids weren’t invited past Paulette’s wards…
Pam made her way to Paulette and me to observe… Paulette was just remounting Pam’s cabochon to the pendant she’d chosen… but for once, her attention didn’t stay on jewelry for long…
“You arrogant mother fucker.”
“What?” I laughed, knowing exactly ‘what’.
Pam smashed her face into my shirt and breathed in a deep measure of Sookie’s sunny fragrance. “That’s not fair when you consider that I saw her first.”
I pushed her away. “I thought you had better manners than to go around sniffing people.”
“I hate you.”
“Oh, there’s a news bulletin.”
“You’re wearing sunlight as cologne. I’m allowed to be bitter. How did she do it?”
“She wore it at the pool while she worked.”
“I’m going to have to have her pre-wear my clothes.”
“Sorry. I’ve already arranged to have her wear mine.”
She elbowed me. “Asshole. You don’t get dibs just because you’re bonded to her.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what it means… I have a chore for you tonight.”
“Great. I’d love to do a favor for you after you all but told me to go fuck myself. Pray tell.” I might have been pissed about her attitude if I wouldn’t be just as bitter in her shoes.
It only pissed her off more when I smiled at her. “Dinner at 10 to meet a friend of Sookie’s.”
“I already met that laughing bitch, Lafayette. Why do I need to watch them eat?”
Paulette could’ve been trusted with the information that Michelle was a telepath, but Pam had the chance to know something I hadn’t the night before. “You’ll see.”
“This better be good. You know how I hate chewing.”
At exactly 8:00 the elevator doors slid open to reveal a full staff to Salome, Mickey and Owen. With both Berts, Herveaux and Pam with us, Sookie and I were sporting a full entourage… And somehow between floors 20 and 1, Sookie managed to shed every visible sign of her fatigue.
Salome shook her head. “Aren’t you rula. How are you still going, Sookie? My staff told me that you’ve been working since 9.”
Sookie smiled at her. “Rula?”
Salome nodded. “Strong, determined… unstoppable.”
Sookie raised an eyebrow. “I like that. Maybe my brother could be convinced to call me that instead of a willful horse’s ass.”
Salome laughed at her. “I doubt that. I had a few brothers of my own. Mine called me ‘Tsumi’… The only daughter got a lot of attention… Men.”
Sookie giggled. “A friend of mine has a t-shirt that says, ‘Not all men are assholes. Some of them are dead’…” I felt a subtle nudge to Sookie’s shoulder that made her laugh. “…Present company excluded, of course Alcide.”
Mickey decided to open his perfectly punchable mouth. “Seriously? We’re sparing the wolf’s feelings? Aren’t we just precious?”
Pam offered, “and of course some assholes are just assholes… no matter how long they’ve been dead.” Even Mickey’s maker was amused enough to laugh. When he moved to challenge the wrong bitch, all she had to say was ‘bring it, squirt’.
Salome barked his name and told him to stand down and looked to Owen. “Remind me to find a babysitter when the adults discuss business tomorrow night.”
I took my opportunity before Sookie started recounting her day. “Salome, Sookie’s determination has become a problem. She doesn’t seem to grasp her limits. If you could make your staff aware that she’s sequestered until 2 o’clock. Room service instead of the restaurant. No calls, deliveries or visitors either.”
“Is she unwell?” She seemed genuinely concerned.
“Not yet. At the moment she’s simply spread herself too thin. She’s only functioning at the grace of countless energy drinks.”
When Herveaux coughed ‘eleven’, Sookie kicked his shin without looking back and called him a ‘narc’. She recovered quickly, but I could feel her bratty streak threatening to bubble over. “I’m sure Eric’s right. If I don’t rest, I won’t be good for much. I’ll bounce back though. It’s just been a crazy week.”
While I distracted myself from what my shirt was doing to my mood by fingering the new ring, Sookie’s diffident delivery of how reading pets progressed was interrupted near the end by the sight of a Were practically running towards our gathering in the lobby.
He might have respectfully called her ‘Miss Stackhouse’, but the panic in his voice was clear… While most of us recognized him, Herveaux didn’t waste any time. He saw someone rushing towards Sookie. He had his hand around Hadley’s little Were friend’s throat with his elbow locked and Jake’s feet barely touching the floor.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going, sweetheart?” I was impressed enough with Herveaux’s style that Sookie had to give my hand a squeeze so that I’d have the boy released.
“Is this the putz?”
“Not ‘the’ putz. Just one of them. Sookie seems to be starting a collection. This is Jake Purifoy. He’s a friend of Sookie’s cousin.”
He nodded, loosening his grip enough to let Jake breathe and leading him over. Purifoy squirmed, pulling at Herveaux’s hand without budging him. He choked, “I’m not going to hurt her. I swear.”
“Oh! Thank God. If you swear… Because no one who’d want to hurt her would go to the lengths of swearing…” He gave another squeeze to go with his sarcasm.
Jake barley managed to croak. “Fine… Ask the Berts then… I’m clear to be around the queen.” Just not a ‘princess’.
Sookie giggled quietly and cut her eyes at me. She’d heard me again…
“Alcide, let him go enough to talk to me. You’re choking him and he wouldn’t have come here if it wasn’t important. I scare him.”
He looked to me so I gave him a nod… He released Jake, but didn’t move. It left the boy to stand on his toes to talk around my new favorite Were. Typically the saying would equate to ‘smartest retard’ or ‘skinniest pig’, but that Were was growing on me.
Jake had to clear his throat a few times. “Miss Stackhouse… Quinn’s going to have my ass for ditching work… but Andre came to me this morning just before sunrise… Hadley’s missing.”
“Sophie-Ann doesn’t know where she is?”
He huffed and eyed everyone carefully. “They don’t know why… she says she can block it. If she doesn’t want to be found, they can’t find her.” I wouldn’t believe it if Sookie hadn’t proven that ‘a void’ was entirely possible for her… but it was galling to think that Hadley was foul-tempered enough to know she could evade her maker.
“So why come here? You were there the last time I talked to her. She wouldn’t run away from home to come see me. Jason maybe, but…”
“She ran away from being punished for how she acted with you… She was on lockdown. She wasn’t supposed to leave her apartment… I went to talk to Amelia… She said that Hadley left in a Jag with ‘a friend’. The friend was a snotty bitch to Amelia and mentioned a ‘family reunion’… I tried to get in touch with Andre, but he didn’t answer my calls.” Both Berts growled behind us. They’d been informed about Lorena’s presence. Even Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber managed to connect those dots.
“You think she came here to stir up crap to get back at me for her punishment.”
He nodded, still trying to massage Herveaux’s handprint from his neck. “She’s my friend and all, but doing something to you won’t prolong her life.” Fan-fucking-tastic.
I pulled my phone out, knowing that Andre would answer a call from my number. “Sookie? Do you think it’s any coincidence that there’s another guest here looking for you?”
Sookie snarled at me, but stayed quiet for a moment. “Hadley’s on the 12th floor and she has company. It’s hard to tell from this distance, but the vampire with her is definitely older than Bill… Are you going to be cocky about it?”
“Yes… How can you tell it’s Hadley from so far away?”
“Her brain is different. Her void is the smallest and darkest yet… And she’s the only brain that I’ve ever heard that disturbing freakin’ whisper from.”
Andre answered on the first ring.
“Northman, do you have a problem?”
“I do. And I believe your something lost is my something found.”
“She’s there? Did she say why?”
“I haven’t confronted her yet. Her Were friend just arrived to warn us because you didn’t answer his call…”
“I only answer one call.” Prick. He was ruining my shirt induced mood.
Ignoring his pompous drivel, “He discovered that she left with ‘a friend’ who planned a ‘family reunion’. It just so happens that someone also checked into the hotel under Compton’s human wife’s name just before dawn. Has she contacted you?”
“Mrs. Compton was informed of her child’s circumstances last night. She received the litany of information concerning the situation. She shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Nevertheless, she’s here and asked for a room on Sookie’s floor.”
“Did she get what she asked for?”
“Sookie found them on the 12th floor… she hasn’t begun to get what she’s asking for.”
“Enjoy your visit. Please, tell Hadley to wait for her ride home. I’ll be there shortly.”
“Understood. Thank you…” I slid my phone back into my pocket, pleased to have ‘permission’ to have fun. “…Pam, Alcide and Owen, take Sookie to Shed so that she can meet the vampires she needs to there. The Berts and I will manage the other affair.”
When I tried to let go of Sookie’s hand, she held on. I expected some resistance, some argument, but the thing that didn’t fit was the way she was looking at me… Her eyes were misted over, but she wasn’t disappointed or angry… she was anxious. “Eric…”
“Sookie, we talked about this.”
She shook her head, giving another squeeze to my hand. “You said she’s a lunatic… Eric, be careful.”