From the moment Pam saw me as she came downstairs with her baggage, she laughed through her nose. I knew that she’d heard my tantrum while I dressed. I could hear the little bitch laughing when I kicked my bathroom door down. She made the mistake of comparing me to a cartoon thermometer… Pink at the top and blue underneath… ‘well fed, but blue balled’. Fucking bitch. Since she thought she was so damn funny, I got her attention with my foot, lifting my toe only a little bit… and then scuffing the top of her white, suede peep-toes permanently… She stopped laughing.
Pam decided to tease Sookie instead. When Jason took his leave, Sookie behaved like a mother hen. Reminding him to text her when he reached home, watch his speed because he didn’t need another ticket, if he stopped for food he shouldn’t try to eat and drive at the same time, etcetera, etcetera. Sookie was still weepy eyed when Pam insisted that Sookie call him to come back, because his balls were still in ‘Sissy’s’ purse. Sookie shut Pam up by asking Wybert if he thought there was anything wrong with watching out for her brother. He growled at Pam and answered with a simple ‘no’… but that wasn’t all… Pam had Sookie and Paulette sit on the trunk of the limo with her to force it shut over her luggage… when they slid from the back of the car, Sookie took the chance to hug Pam again. “I was so worried about you going back to Shreveport. I don’t care if you make fun of me, as long as you’re ok.” The threat of tears sent Pam back into the house for something she hadn’t forgotten.
Pam had no fucking clue who she was dealing with.
I wasn’t the only one who’d met their match.
Sookie did a bit of fidgeting when the car first started moving, trying to modestly situate the dress that Pam had encouraged her to wear. The shortest one yet. I might have complained about how meager it was considering who we’d be in the company of eventually, but I was too pleased with the way Sookie’s tan seemed so much deeper next to the white silk. She eventually slid her feet out of her pumps and pulled them up to the seat to sit on them…
Perhaps my sense of fairness had been damaged by the shower we’d shared, but before Sookie had the chance to attach herself to my side, I jokingly stretched out on the long seat of the limo and rested my head in her lap.
“I was just about to ask you if you’d mind if I did that.” Sit for any length of time with her head in my lap? With as raw as she’d left me? Not unless she was going to abandon all modesty and fuck me with witnesses.
“Do you mind? I just felt like stretching out.”
Her bemused expression was exaggerated by the angle I saw it from, but it was still worth remembering the innocence of it. She laid her head back against the seat. “No, this is fine. It solves my problem.”
“Figuring out how to keep this Godforsaken skirt from riding up while I nap.”
“You can nap after several energy drinks while sitting up?”
She hummed slightly and began running her fingers through my hair… I could’ve protested being treated like a cat but it felt too fucking good. “We’ll see. The Red Bulls make me wonder, but I’ve always been able to make myself sleep even when I’m not tired… Staying awake when I’m exhausted is a different story entirely. I figure it’s worth a try since I have a long night ahead of me.”
Paulette slid over to lean against the side of the car. “I hear ya, Sook. I’m going to crash for a little bit too. Don’t let me sleep until we get there though. I’m bloodshot as hell when I first wake up.”
Sookie gave her a nod and settled back.
Within a few minutes, they’d been successful. Paulette was snoring and everything about Sookie told me that she was asleep except for the rhythmic kneading and grazing scratches to my scalp… relaxing and hypnotic weren’t common for me so when my phone started ringing and it wasn’t in my pocket, I actually found myself afraid that the sound would rouse her and ruin everything.
Sookie had told me that it was in her purse. I’d left her bathroom as quickly as I could and that didn’t involve dressing, so I had to be thankful that she’d thought to check my pockets…. But reaching for her purse which was on the seat on the other side of her without disturbing her proved to be more difficult than I thought. Rather than be helpful, Pam laughed quietly from the other end of the car. Bitch. By the time I had Sookie’s purse in my hand, my phone stopped ringing. I dug it out anyway so that I wouldn’t have the same struggle again only to find that it had been Bobby. Leave it to that fucking idiot.
I’d managed to blindly push some of Sookie’s things out of her purse and when I started to put them back, something caught my eye… on a small slip of paper, in tiny script, she’d scribbled a list.
Honestly, I’d only looked twice because it was a list. I thought that it might have been something she’d forgotten to give to Paulette…
Blood/Loan pros versus Blood/Loan cons… I couldn’t have stopped reading it if I wanted to.
- I don’t know when I could pay him back.
- I don’t know how to mention interest w/o insulting him.
- I’m going to cause enough trouble, I don’t want him to think I need to be kept.
- If I take his blood, he’ll get stuck feeling me. How long does it last?
- What happens when he gets sick of me?
- There’s a lot I don’t know about the blood thing.
- Gran would hate if I lost her house.
- It would make working together easier if it would help him trust me.
- If I don’t take it, would he look like a jerk for not healing me?
- Don’t want him to think I’m not grateful for either offer.
- I’d be able to concentrate. Vacation from concussion/cracked ribs.
What could’ve been her ‘baggage claim’, her list of reasons not to accept anything from me based on how Bill betrayed her, was a list of what made her come to terms with her sudden situational shift last Tuesday. The items that made it to her list weren’t as remarkable to me as the reasons she didn’t include…
Her list didn’t include that, given her experience, she had no reason to think I wouldn’t leverage favors to my advantage like Bill had. Her list didn’t include that I could just as easily manipulate her as Bill had. Her list didn’t include that she was scared of me. Her list didn’t include that taking any vampire’s blood would irritate her judgmental shifter friend.
There were no overt Bill/Eric comparisons. There were no whimsical references to anything our visitors told us.
Her concerns were repaying a pittance of a loan, seeming like a gold digger, honoring her grandmother and my feelings.
‘Stuck’ with her, ‘sick’ of her… trouble?
Her note helped me to understand why she would’ve wanted Bill to still exist all the more. Learning that her myriad of injuries included cracked ribs that he left her to suffer through inspired some of the cruelest ideas I’d ever had.
Each side of her debate had one item underlined three times. It seemed that the heaviest weights on her scale involved what I thought of her and not the other way around.
Realizing that I’d let myself be amazed by a tiny sheet of paper more than anything I’d ever read, I held it up to ask Pam if she knew about it… that’s when I noticed what the paper was. The tiny slip of paper that I hadn’t given any thought to anymore than a hostage would care if their ransom note was written on toilet paper or gold leaf…
It was the check I’d written out to her. She never had any intention of taking the loan. She couldn’t have if she was scribbling notes over the endorsement line…
Her hands never stopped working through my hair. “hmmmm, yeah?”
“Why didn’t you deposit the check?”
Her eyes didn’t open, her body never stirred… “Snoop.”
“I found it looking for my phone. What did you plan on doing about your finances?” The king’s ransom worth of checks her brother promised to deposit once he returned to Bon Temp was twice what we’d expected and more than enough to cover her expenses, but she’d been right about the variables, about two weeks worth of butterfly effect. Things could’ve gone in the other direction.
“I took care of it.”
“How?” The idea that she’d turn down a loan from me to accept one from someone else like her shifter entered my mind and irritated me to no end.
“I used what I had in the bank to cover the back mortgage payment.”
“Your other bills?”
“The house is the important thing. I still have a check coming from Sam. I would’ve stayed with a friend for a few days if my power got shut off.”
“At the time I hadn’t quit Sam so I had the commute to consider and I wouldn’t want to put you out anyway.” Put me out?
“Why didn’t you just take care of your bills before?”
“Didn’t want to?”
“Why?” I wasn’t going to let it go. Even if I had to wake her.
“We were square.”
“Once I drank your blood, we were even.”
“I didn’t know you, unless you count what Bill told me. If you didn’t feel like you owed me for the Long Shadow thing, we might as well have met that night… We’d have known more about each other if it had been a damned blind date. I didn’t want to owe you from the jump. I wasn’t going to take both.” She had to be kidding.
“So you chose to take the blood of a vampire you’d been scared of only a few hours earlier?” It didn’t make any sense at all that that she’d refuse a loan that she could work off rather than accept a connection that she couldn’t just negotiate away at her will.
Her fingers were still lazily pushing through my hair… she was actually having a full blown conversation in her sleep. “I took the one that meant more to you to offer.” Her answers were so painfully simple, so unsophisticated it was like interrogating a child…
“Your money doesn’t mean anything to you until someone takes advantage of it… Taking the loan instead of your blood would’ve been like throwing away the gift to keep the wrap.”
She’d left me speechless again… other than rushing to tell Pam to keep her fucking mouth shut before she could make fun of me, I couldn’t think of anything to say.
I let her rest while I came to the conclusion that Pam had been right about Sookie not relying on me for anything. Having plenty of time to think about the situation gave me the chance to realize that in the albeit short time that I’d known her, she hadn’t let anyone do anything for her that she could do herself…
She was so much more independent than even she gave herself credit for. She’d called herself stubborn and that was unabashedly accurate, but there were so many advantages to her obstinance that outweighed the downsides.
How protective the inflexible little telepath was could be thanked for how I still had Pam. I would’ve lost her if Sookie hadn’t bullied and snuck her way into the palace and kept that cop from letting daylight into the room. Even if I weren’t completely infatuated with Sookie, I would have no trouble recognizing that I’d owe her for that service perpetually.
I must’ve read Sookie’s list a thousand times… All it did was distract me from dwelling on how many answers were hiding between the lines of her sloppy scrawl. The subtext helped bring Sookie into focus all the more…
I could’ve laid on Sookie’s lap, lost in the contact and pondering her extraordinary character indefinitely. As it was, I’d been ignoring Pam’s leering until Sookie’s phone began ringing as the car exited I-10.
Her fingers left my hair as she stirred, stretching with just one arm while she answered sleepily. Lafayette was calling to find out why Sookie wasn’t on the new schedule that had been posted. He was worried that she was more injured than she’d let on until Sookie explained that she’d quit. He mentioned that he’d ask about jobs for her and called her stupid when she half-lied about working at Fangtasia… his reason was that he didn’t like that she’d be driving so far late at night, not that he was concerned about Sookie being in the company of vampires. Her little rent-boy friend grew on me slightly for that perspective.
When she was done assuring her friend that she was ‘just fine’ without giving him any details other than the fact that she was in Baton Rouge, Sookie stood up, modesty be damned…
She carefully covered the distance between us and Paulette, then bent just enough to tease me with the show… she rested her weight on one leg and used the other to balance while she roused her new friend from her nap… she was giving me a wonderful view of her white lace panties… lingering even though she’d woken Paulette…
Anything I’d thought she was doing to tease me before was nothing… now that she was consciously teasing me, I caught myself thinking that I might have to resort to fucking a random donor for some relief before I let myself realize that I didn’t want one. I’d rather be teased by Sookie than touch a fangbanger by that point. The anticipation had gone past torture and become a promise of deliverance.
Salome was waiting for our arrival at the flamboyant entrance of Seven Veils Resort and Casino, but I barely noticed her from the horde of protestors. She was standing with three uniformed employees and what seemed to be Sookie’s guards, all of them watching the picketers carefully. Dozens of church lemmings chanting ‘silver, sunlight, stake, amen!’.
As soon as Sookie could hear well enough to understand them, she angrily lurched from her seat next to me to wait by the door for the limo to stop.
She told us that it was safer if we ‘stay put’ as she shoved open the door and launched herself out. She was on a mission of some sort, but I certainly wasn’t letting her walk through that crowd alone.
She didn’t seem conscious of the fact that I’d followed her until I took her hand. “Sookie?”
She whispered, “Eric, I don’t… these people are crazy. They could hurt you.”
“They could hurt you too. What are you planning to do?”
“Try to get the cops to get rid of them.”
“I’m sure Salome already tried that.”
She smiled up at me. “I’m sure she did, but not my way.”
She shrugged, but she was anything but unsure. “It’s worth a try.”
She was stomping so furiously that her high heels sounded like gunshots and she quickly found her objective. One of the several police officers pointed us in the direction of the officer ‘in charge’.
Sookie’s pissy stride came to a halt directly in front of Sergeant Carraway. She stomped her last step as though Pam had taught her to walk. “Where does your wife work?”
His only slightly curious look became defensive. “Excuse me?” His eyes were locked on her cleavage.
“I was just wondering if you’d sit around with your thumb up your ass if your wife’s place of work was surrounded with armed lunatics.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. Those people have the right to…”
“If you were sorry, they wouldn’t still be here. They’re breaking enough laws that you can arrest them. Have the decency to at least get them out of here.”
He chuckled at her and it only made her more irate. “This should be good. Why don’t you go ahead and tell me what laws they’re breaking since you know my job better than me, cupcake.”
She jutted out her chin defiantly. “Well, if you shared your doughnuts with the fire chief, the safety hazard might have been more obvious. Those people are blocking the exit… Take into account that they’re guilty of property damage every time they toss True Blood on a passer-bys… their chant isn’t a political opinion, it’s a ‘how to’ on ending a vampires and every one of them is armed…”
“Armed? I’m sure some of them have concealed weapons, but since they have the right of assembly…”
She cut him off, “Wow. I guess you made Sergeant before you went blind… those signs are stapled to pointed wooden spikes and they’re passing out silver coins and crosses. It’s only lawful for them to assemble if the protest doesn’t include intimidation.”
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to…”
“Oh, I’m not going anywhere. If you don’t get rid of them and leave some guys here to make sure those creeps don’t re-accumulate then I’m going straight over to that news crew and telling them that you, Sergeant Carraway, are allowing stalking, menacing, threats and compromising the safety of close to 2000 people because you’re a bigot.”
“How does this make me a bigot!?”
“You’re only letting this carry on because it’s a vampire owned business. Get rid of them or me and every fangbanger I can find will be on the lawn of the mayor’s church on Sunday morning. Heavily armed, blocking passage and throwing food at people in front of every news crew who takes the invitation and I’ll make sure to mention that everything that happens on Sunday was just fine and dandy with you when humans were doing it to vampires.”
“That’s not the same thing…”
“Test me. I have bail. How’s your job security?” She stood there with her arms crossed completely unfaltering while he glared at her.
Finally, he turned to an underling and told him to ‘start getting them outta here’… “Fine you got what you wanted.”
“Not quite. Give me your phone number.”
“Why? Planning to ask me out?” He actually smiled at her and the only way I stayed calm was feeling Sookie’s disgusted reaction.
“No. You’re married, ugly and stupid. I want your number because whoever hotel management has been calling about other issues is ignoring them. Now that I know you can be reasoned with, they can call you.”
“They’ve been having problems? Before the bombing in New Orleans?”
“They just have more protestors now. They’ve been dealing with this for a while, long enough that some of the staff was afraid to keep working here. Some vandalism too.”
“You work here?”
“Just visiting. I know the owner.”
He nodded and pulled a small note pad out of his pocket to start scribbling. “Here. Have them call me for stuff like that then. If I’m not on duty, I’ll find them someone who’ll take care of things for them.”
Sookie took the paper and turned to give me a very cheeky wink and waited for me to lead her over to Salome.
Without needing introduction, Sookie waved at her guards to acknowledge them and handed the Sergeant’s phone number over to Salome. “Do you have a vampire available to run an errand?”
Salome grinned, making no attempts to hide how impressed she was with what she’d heard. “Anything you need.”
“There are 2 Weres from Arkansas mixed in with the cuckoos. You might want to have them followed so we know what they report.”
Salome gave a nod to one of her uniformed henchmen and he was gone without hesitation as soon as Sookie pointed them out. “Do you not already know?”
“At the moment they’re too upset that they can’t get their jobs done now that the protest is getting broken up. Once they calm down they’ll either call someone to check in or start talking to each other.”
“Could the local packs be part of things?”
“Do you have a lot of shifting employees?”
“A few dozen.”
“I should be able to pick something up, but I didn’t get anything from the two from Arkansas.”
“We’ve never had any cooperation in my area, so that’s very good to know… The staff meeting was set for midnight as you requested, in the meantime, why don’t we get you all settled into your rooms?”
Sookie wasn’t happy.
Salome intended us to share the posh 3 bedroom suite on the top floor and the rest of our party was to stay in standard double rooms on the third floor… As soon as the door was closed behind Salome, Sookie put her hands on her hips.
“This is not cool.”
“Sharing a room? There’s three bedr…” I’d rather she stayed in the room with me, but I wouldn’t be a prick about it. Well, maybe…
“Do you have a problem with staying in a normal room?” Fuck. I wished I could read her mind.
“No. I didn’t plan the accommodations.” If I had, we’d all have been staying on the same floor as a minimum.
“K…” She ran towards the door surprisingly gracefully given the height of the heel on her shoes and opened the door. “Excuse me, Salome.”
Salome turned to face her from where they were all waiting for the elevator. I was preoccupied by watching Herveaux pull a tool from his pocket to remove a speaker from the wall and disconnect the wiring. “Yes Miss Stackhouse?”
“Sookie, please… I was wondering if the floor where everyone else is going to be has any vacancies.”
“Certainly. Will others be joining you?”
“No. I’d just rather be closer to our guards. 19 stories is a long way.”
“You’d rather…? I can put them in the suite next to yours if you prefer.”
“Are you sure? Eric and I are fine with being in a…”
Salome gave a nod as she turned to come back down the long corridor. “I could hardly insult a fellow sheriff by putting him in an inferior room, let alone seem ungrateful of your help.” How about putting two of her queen’s children in a substandard room and treating a lieutenant like a second class citizen? But it would be funny if Paulette’s room was made of gingerbread and Herveaux and Cooper’s bathroom was spread with newspaper.
Sookie turned for a moment and giggled. She’d heard me again. “What say the guards?”
The four of them shared a look before they either shrugged or nodded. Herveaux being the first, Cooper being the last (and begrudgingly at that).
I moved to stand behind Sookie. “That’s very generous, Salome. Thank you… Paulette and Pam will stay in this suite. The Berts can share a room in the other suite so that everyone has some privacy.” Cooper looked slightly relieved, but I couldn’t have been sure why… I suppose it was a good thing that I knew a mind reader.
Once the extra people had gone again, Sookie and Paulette took the mysterious boxes to behind the counter of the bar and started unpacking them. Pam and I took seats across from them and watched. Most of it was food items, but there were several containers that could only have been the supplies Paulette needed for the wards she’d be performing.
“Since we haven’t had the opportunity to speak with your guards, what are we dealing with?”
“Alcide is a trip. I like him already.”
“Well, while we were still outside he was thinking, ‘Why bother getting guards for her? With a mouth like hers, all she needs is a gun.’ He’d already noticed and mentioned the Weres in the picket line too. He’s hoping that I don’t go off ‘my leash’ too much when you’re not around. He’s glad he split up with his girlfriend because she’d be ‘having kittens’ if she knew he was at a hotel with Maria-Star even if he is working. He isn’t planning to or anything, but he thought about dickfacing one of the Berts. He knows better, but…”
I interrupted, “Dickfacing?”
She nodded. “It’s a party prank. When someone passes out drunk, someone will draw on their face or tape them to a wall… it can get out of hand and, boy, I can tell you some stories about stuff people have thought about around me, but like I said, he isn’t planning on doing it. The thought of scribbling ‘balls go here’ on Seigbert’s chin and gluing the little hotel soaps into his hands popped into his head.” The thought was even more amusing to me since I added a bib and diaper.
“As long as he knows better… Did you hear his reason for disconnecting the speaker?”
“He could hear it in here. He didn’t want to get used to it and miss a sound in the hallway.” I liked him already.
“We should get a box of biscuits to reward him… What about the bitch?”
Sookie gasped, “She’s not a bitch.”
“I wasn’t referring to her personality. Female Weres are bitches.”
Sookie cringed and bit her bottom lip. “Oh God, sorry… Uhhh, she’s alright. When they were in the hall just now, she wasn’t happy about being moved upstairs. She was thinking that she’d have to share a room with someone and she wasn’t happy with any of the options.”
Sookie giggled, “The Jeffersons theme song.” Paulette and Pam started laughing along with her and when they realized I had no idea what was so funny, the three of them started singing it…
“…Well we’re movin on up,
To the east side.
To a deluxe apartment in the sky.
Movin on up,
To the east side.
We finally got a piece of the pie…”
I wasn’t laughing so much at Herveaux’s thought as much as how childish my company was behaving.
I waited for them to be done with their silliness though. It was amusing to see Pam be frivolous when shopping wasn’t involved. “So tell me about Cooper.”
Sookie frowned. “When I first heard that Flood was sending a woman, I got my hopes up. I know the visitors like Alcide just fine, but… I didn’t know why. I just thought I’d be more comfortable with her than a guy, I guess.” I knew exactly why I preferred the idea of a female guard. ‘Mine’ was less likely to be a problem with a female.
“Has she given you something to worry about?”
“No. She’ll do her job because she loves Colonel Flood like a father and doesn’t want to disappoint him. She’s just…” She seemed like she didn’t want to finish her own sentence.
“She’s just… What, Sookie?”
“Maria-Star thinks it’s stupid that you hired a guard for a fangbanger when there’s donors all over the place here. I like Alcide… he thinks I’m lucky to have been discovered by someone who’d get me a guard instead of lock me in a cage during the day.” Yet another reason to like him. He was capable of seeing a bigger picture.
“Her opinion might change as she gets to know you.” The saying always puzzled me, but Pam would’ve called it ‘blowing smoke up her ass’. Cooper’s opinion probably wouldn’t change at all.
Sookie only shrugged in reply. She didn’t believe it anymore than I did.
“Nothing really. I’m just getting spoiled, I guess. I was starting to get homesick until she came along. So I guess there’s that.”
“Just the usual.”
“But Herveaux isn’t?”
Sookie shook her head and reached across the bar to take my hand and stayed alarmingly still for a few minutes. “Right now, she’s freaking out about the possibility of being raped and drained in her sleep and Alcide is worried that Cooper’s too spooked to be any kind of guard. He’s worried that when, not if, he says something to you about it you might take it the wrong way and think Flood would’ve sent a crybaby carelessly. He’s thinking ‘Flood would’ve understood if she just owned up about fangs creeping her out’.”
“If you leave the room, make sure he’s with you then… This is a good thing though. We both had our doubts about him. Yes?”
She grinned as she took her hand away to go back to her task. “Seeing and believing and all that?”
Paulette looked confused since she’d been kept out of the loop, but Pam snorted. “Ok. So when are you two going to stop pussy footing around everything else?”
Sookie narrowed her eyes and held her up her middle finger and Pam laughed, knowing that was all the answer she was going to get.
As planned, the four guards were back to our room within only a few minutes. They only left to deliver their things to their room and use their phones to check in with superiors…
Sookie didn’t hesitate to greet them, shaking their hands and introducing them to everyone.
Once the litany of names and faces had been put together for the Weres, it left nothing but an awkward silence.
Sookie finally giggled. “Thank God I can only hear half of y’all… Alcide, Maria-Star, can I get y’all a beer or something?”
Cooper nodded, but Herveaux shook his head. “I know we’re technically off until dawn and all, but I was wondering if I could tag along with y’all for a bit. Get the swing of things.” Another point in his favor.
I nodded. “Have you never guarded a moving person before?”
He thanked Sookie with a nod for the can of soda she gave to him and watched Cooper take the offered beer like it was contaminated. “No. I’ve sat on places like I did with your bar a few times. Watched over folks in a controlled environment… the pop-star entourage thing is new to me.”
“It’ll be different tonight than it will be during the day. Tonight will be structured meetings. The days will be less controlled depending on how much Sookie can tolerate the saturation of being surrounded by humans.”
He shook his head. “So… how does it work? Her thing? I thought Flood was full of shit until we checked in at the front desk… we’re ‘the telepath’s guards’.”
I gave the floor over to Sookie and Herveaux looked surprised that I’d let her speak for herself. “Ummm… everyone is different, but it’s like listening to a radio. In a crowd it can be hard to tell whose thoughts are whose unless I know them. Some folks are really tone deaf and have no idea what they sound like and that can throw me off. Pictures, voices… a little bit of everything.”
“So anything that goes through anyone’s head is yours for the listening?”
Sookie shrugged. “Pretty much. Not vampires. They’re a big, fat, beautiful nothing for me… and I can’t get much of anything from daemons either.” Sookie spared a disapproving look in Cooper’s direction… whatever she’d thought in response to Sookie’s explanation wasn’t friendly.
“But you can hear us, Weres?”
“Yeah. I can tell y’all apart from them. You’re a little harder to read than a human, but I hear you just the same…” She seemed to be studying him for a moment before she started laughing. “…because hustling the poker tables would be wrong!”
He chuckled at her. “That’s some crazy shit, right there. So… you’re here because of the Fellowship problems that Salome chick’s been having?”
“Yeah. Looks like they’re assholes in every area code. When we’re done here, we’ll be heading somewhere else with problems. I’m gonna forget my damn address by the time things settle down.”
He gave her a thoughtful nod. “So out of curiosity, the sheriff said that nights would be easier for you, but there’s always more people in casinos at night… what’s that about?”
“It’s hard to explain… long story short, Eric helps me focus. Kind of… like the difference between being on the floor in a crowd and having a bird’s eye view.”
He nodded again. “And what’s your range like?”
“Pretty good. You and Maria-Star were about 200 feet away and I got that you two are Weres and standing with 4 vampires past all those humans.”
He seemed slightly agitated for a moment before Sookie cleared her throat and darted her eyes in my direction; a cue that he wanted to discuss his concerns… So I invited him to speak privately and led him to the bedroom.
“Sookie heard your thoughts about Cooper’s fears and told me about your concerns.”
“Yeah, well… Colonel Flood wouldn’t have sent Maria-Star if he knew how spooked she is… She started getting skittish as soon as Salome welcomed us in person and had us escorted over to one of the restaurants. She ‘joked’ that we were getting fattened like sacrificial lambs. To be honest, I don’t think she knew she’d be so freaked either.”
“If it weren’t for Sookie’s safety, I wouldn’t give a shit. I’ve already told her that if she leaves the room during the day, you’re to be with her.”
“Do you want me to call Flood, have him send a replacement and send her home?”
“I didn’t ask for both of you. He offered Cooper assuming that Sookie would be more comfortable with a female guard.”
“Not with one that’s more scared to leave the floor than she is. Since Sookie’s schedule is shifting to be on vampire hours more, she won’t be too demanding on you. Maria-Star can make herself useful by standing watch in the hall.”
“The hall that your witch is going to be warding?”
“That’s the one, but she isn’t ‘my’ witch. Paulette’s just my trusted employee.”
“Gotcha… so, Sookie’s daytime schedule?”
“There isn’t one. She’ll most likely take her meals in the restaurants downstairs and visit the pool to work on her tan as an excuse to listen to guests.”
He started laughing. “Am I guarding her or having a damn sleepover?”
“Guarding her. Don’t let yourself get spoiled. Word about her ability is only now becoming public. Any attempt made at night would be foolish on an epic level because she doesn’t leave my side. Abducting or harming Sookie is only possible during the day. You’ll need to be vigilant.”
“You think someone wants her specifically? I thought this was just a precaution.”
“Once word of Sookie’s ability gets to certain people, they’ll put things together and realize that she’s an obstacle. This, as they say, is not a drill.”
“Fuck… and your security team has a dud on it… how are Mutt and Jeff? Do they know their shit?”
“They’re the queen’s children. They’ve been keeping her alive for 800 years.”
“No shit!? Sookie rates royal protection? She must be one hell of an employee.”
“Sookie isn’t an employee. She’s mine.”
Paulette was just cleaning up her supplies from warding our two suites to keep unwanted visitors at bay when Salome came to the door of the suite. The spell had been strong enough that Salome didn’t want to leave the elevator… Paulette graciously accepted Salome’s invitation for ‘a little side work’… and I was complimented on my luck in finding both Paulette and Sookie… like I needed to be reminded.
As instructed, Salome had called the mandatory staff meetings by departments so that she could inform her employees about the hostile tactics being taken by ‘church’ members as we toured the hotel and casino from midnight to nearly 3 am. Out of the 614 employees that Sookie screened in small groups, she found plenty to keep Salome busy… 9 from Arkansas that were going to be ‘gift wrapped’ and sent to Andre… 22 that Sookie wanted to give more attention to, but assumed that they were nervous because they were ‘up to something’ like thievery since most of them were casino workers… 49 people with varying degrees of church involvement, but only a dozen were a ‘real problem’… and the 3 employees with no church affiliation who’d been disgruntled enough to stage the vandalisms.
Our last stop was ‘Shed’. As in bloodshed… almost as ludicrous (and amusing) as the queen’s ‘dining room’. Salome had started the rumor that there would be VIP’s at the hotel to garner attendance. It was nothing more than a lounge where eager donors could collect and wait for a vampire to come along and choose them.
In the more relaxed atmosphere, Sookie and I, Pam and Herveaux were shown to a booth and the Berts took watchful positions nearby. While Pam made fun of the fangbangers in a failed attempt to appall Herveaux, Sookie all but disappeared from conversation for more than 20 minutes to listen to the thoughts of the donors in the lounge. The whole time, she absentmindedly ran the fingernails of her free hand up and down my thigh. Whether the tease was intentional or not, it was working.
When her eyes finally left the candle in the center of the table, her hand didn’t stop. Intentional… and knowing that it was made me more anxious to return to our room than I thought was possible.
She cleared her throat and leaned over to Pam nodding in the direction of a woman at the bar. “The Eliza Dushku look alike?”
Pam smirked and started sliding out of the booth slowly. “I’m calling your brother to brag. He told me that you refuse to be his wingman.”
Sookie giggled and kissed Pam’s cheek and started sliding out behind her. “Neither one of y’all need my help getting girls to follow you into a dark room.”
Pam stopped. “Where are you going? Feeling… frisky?”
She scoffed and shoved Pam playfully. “No. I’m feeling the 8 Red Bulls I had earlier. I’m going to the restroom… I’m surrounded by perverts, I swear.”
Salome waited until Sookie disappeared into the hall to the bathrooms with Wybert just behind her before she began gushing over Sookie’s ability and her behavior… Oddly, Herveaux had been unfazed as Pam called the donors everything from blood bags to cattle, but he showed his irritation to Salome’s questions about how I disciplined Sookie… more so, the vagueness of my answers. He didn’t know that Sookie wasn’t punished because she didn’t need to be so hearing that Sookie ‘knows what’s good for her’ was unsettling for the mutt, amusingly so.
Sookie had declared herself the Berts’ wingman as well and pointed them in the direction of their own ‘safe’ meal and Herveaux seemed to be making it a point to not look bothered until he excused himself to return to his suite…
When Salome said her farewells so that she could tend to the assholes that Sookie identified for her, Sookie and I found ourselves finally able to return to our suite.
The elevator’s other passengers prevented anything interesting from coming of most the ride, but until the last of our company left on the 14th floor, I enjoyed teasing Sookie by running my finger tips along the crease where her ass met her thighs…
I didn’t care that the elevator was glass and open to the whole hotel because Sookie was just as nervous as she was excited…
I didn’t wait for the door to close behind the last of the other passengers. I picked her up and pinned her to the glass wall behind her. The grunt she made when her back hit the wall became a giggle. “Everyone can see.”
My hands slid under her panties, holding her to me, enjoying the warm, silky feel of her skin. She’d pushed and teased me so much that the way she squirmed made my fangs run out. “Good.”
“We need to talk.”
“No. We need to fuck.”
“Not in here.”
“But you’re out of excuses.”
She nodded, never taking her eyes from mine. “You can wait.”
I growled, “What do I have to wait for this time?”
“Oh god! You act like…” She turned to look at the buttons on the elevator control. “…like behaving for 3 more floors is going to kill you.”
I chuckled at her. “It could.”
She bit the inside of her mouth. “You’ll be just fine.”
“What do we need to talk about?”
When the elevator doors slid open on our floor, I started for our room without setting her down. “Nothing. I was just stalling.”
“We only have a couple of hours before sunrise. It’s not like you to be so wasteful.”
She giggled into my neck while I struggled with the keycard and lock to our room. “You whine a lot for a big, mean vampire.”
“I’m not whining.”
“You aren’t winning any land-speed records either. What’s the hold up?” She turned to check my progress.
“The squirming blond in my arms is the ‘hold up’. Be still.”
“I don’t know if I could if I had to. Put me down.”
“No. You’ll get distracted by something shiny and run off.”
She gasped, putting on her offence at the insult… and then bit my neck. If it hadn’t been for a conscious effort to keep my mood light until we got into the room, I’d have hit the emergency stop for the elevator… the bite did everything to return the mood our shower had caused… and the timing was ‘perfect’… I snapped the fucking keycard off in the slot. “Fuck!”
“What’s wrong now?”
“I’ve broken the key. It’s stuck in the lock.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Really? You don’t say.”
She gave my cheek a half hearted slap for being a ‘sarcastic asshole’ and then contorted to look at the lock mechanism. “I have an idea.”
“So do I. Mine involves a broken door frame. What’s yours?”
“Crazy Glue. If we put some on a business card and then cram it in with the broken one…”
“That could work if we had some Crazy Glue.”
She smiled, lifting her purse. “We do have some.”
“You carry Crazy Glue in your purse?” Crazy glue? My favorite prank ingredient? She carried it with her?
She held up the little tube and a business card from a tanning salon in Bon Temps. “Crazy Glue, a Swiss Army knife and a thing of Chapstick even though I don’t wear any. A habit I picked up from Gran.”
I set her down even if it was the last thing I wanted to do and knelt to deal with what I hoped would be my final fucking obstacle for the night…
Sookie let me get as far into the task as wedging the card into the slot, but while I stared at the lock, willing the fucking glue to set, she leaned down to start nibbling my ear.
I could have forgotten where we were… that less than a week before, she’d have flinched away from accidental contact… that she wasn’t just what I was thinking about when I rose, but what I’d been thinking about when I died… that she was suddenly more important to me than anything…
My hand found her ankle, carefully pulling her closer before inching up her leg slowly, enjoying every delicious fucking curve along the way.
Her anticipation was only making mine more intolerable… my hand became tangled in her panties, wringing and waiting for some hint that she wanted more, that she’d not be preoccupied with where we were…
She twisted her hands into my hair, moving to kiss me… and straddling my knee to sit with her body pressed against mine…
She whimpered and pressed herself closer than my hands were already holding her.
In that moment, there was nothing innocent about her… nothing insecure or unskilled…
I needed, more than anything, to lose control… just give in to what I’d wanted from her for too long… take what I wanted, and deal with the repercussions later…
If Sookie had nipped at my chin just one more time, she’d have exhausted my willpower…
But she pulled away…
She looked nearly as feral as I felt just before she turned and reached for the door…
My eyes followed her hand, suspensefully watching her hand, her finger grasp the makeshift keycard…
Followed by the quick succession…
A yank. A beep. A click… she turned the knob and pushed the door open… it was still creeping back when she looked back to ask me what I was waiting for…
Not a single fucking thing.
Her panties were gone by the time my feet were under me…
And her dress and my shirt were lost along the way to our room… Shreds…
Our bed seemed miles away from the door…
Her legs were wrapped so tight that it was hard to get my hand between us… it was even harder to keep her still when I started rubbing her clit… I only tried to control her enough to not drop her…
As soon as her body touched the bed, I slid my fingers into her… her back jerked violently enough to move both of us…
So wet, so willing… she scratched and clawed at my back and shoulder desperately… and she still managed to tease…
Every move of my thumb over her clit…
Every thrust of my fingers…
Every time I watched a new sweep of chills ripple over her skin…
She wrenched and whimpered… digging her nails in, becoming more crazed.
The only part of her body she seemed in control of was one single foot as she passed it over my thigh… tickling her ankle back and forth over my balls…
Convulsing through her first orgasm, letting go of my shoulders only to claw at the bed…
It had been too easy.
She panicked when she realized I had no intention of letting her rest. When she let go of me, I moved down her body…
Pulling her legs away from my sides and pinning them back…
She gasped at the first touch of my tongue… I’d have given up blood if I could just exist on her cum…
Warm and sweet and pushing me closer to testing Sookie’s limits…
She moaned and squirmed, pulling my hair like she wanted me to stop, but pushing my shoulders closer with her heels…
Crying out when she came again… and moaning, begging me to stop when I didn’t…
Milking her for everything I could…
Repaying the torment she’d given me for days…
Her clit throbbed against my tongue while my fingers dug deeper… I could hear her heartbeat drumming in her thighs…
Her breathing trembled between gasped obscenities and when she tried to quiet herself by covering her face with a pillow, I took it from her… I was enjoying her noise too much.
I backed away slowly… taking my time as I inched away…
I was whined at when I left the bed completely to get rid of my pants. My only reason was to calm down even slightly…
She fidgeted restlessly while she waited, accusing me of teasing her.
I hadn’t even started teasing…
She tried to yank her leg away when I nipped at her ankle, but I pulled it back to me and held her still…
Inch by inch, I licked and bit as patiently as I could… she moaned and laughed, shivered and fought, called me a son of a bitch… a tease… a bastard…
And then she killed me.
Just as I’d crept past her nipples, “Please… master.”
Suddenly, my patience wasn’t the only thing that was gone… My sense of hearing was instantly hinged to the ache in my cock…
I released her wrists from where I’d been holding them to the bed and sat back…
She stared back at me long enough to be concerned, but I was waiting…
Waiting for shock to subside, waiting for the tunnel vision to wane, waiting for the mass of unexpected urges to settle back to within normal range…
Just fucking waiting… master?
But she didn’t give me the chance…
Sookie pushed herself from the bed like she had gone wild… grabbing my chin to pull my still gaping mouth to hers…
She was determined enough to distract me from my reaction to prick her lips over my fangs…
The flash of her blood against my tongue was the last thing I could take…
I grabbed her legs, pulling them apart, wrapping them around me…
Lifting her when she wedged her hand between us to grab my cock and the last thing I did with any patience was lower her…
As my dick disappeared into her, her heat took me over. Her pulse was mine. The air heaving in and out of her chest, echoed for me…
Lifting and shoving her back down, bottoming out, craving her next throb…
One fisted into my hair, the other clawed into the back of my neck…
Hanging on for dear life…
She rested her forehead against mine, studying my eyes through dilated pupils and biting her lip…
Her sweat all but glued us together while she moved her hips, pitching and throwing them and only pushing me…
Until her throbbing stopped, the pressure forced down and her body clamped down around me…
Her head fell back and her pulse point vibrated its invitation… I sank my teeth in, letting her blood fill me instead of pulling…
And I came so hard that I fell forward, crashing into the bed on top of her.
My fucking eyes were clouded.
She panted under me, waiting for what she’d done to me to stop rocking through my body…
As her fingertips drifted over the backs of my arms, her feet did the same along my legs…
When I finally rolled off of her, she followed, barely letting me break contact to snuggle against my side…
Her breathing still hadn’t calmed down completely and I was still in my own daze when she shifted enough to look at the clock to discover what I was already feeling.
She was pouting when she looked back to me…
Still, not a word had been uttered since she’d called me master…
She lifted her chin and gave me a long kiss goodnight until my body started to slip away…
Just in time for me to hear her, but not react…
She whispered that she loved me.