More Like Blood
At exactly 8 o’clock the elevator doors slid open to reveal Salome and her annoying youngest child… her reason for asking me about my discipline methods. Mickey was a waste as a vampire and staking him would have been a favor to society at large. The one time I’d had the misfortune of his company, he ruined 2 of the queen’s donors… Considering the tandem grunts from the Berts, they might have had to clean up Mickey’s mess. His death was most likely the best thing to ever happen to his family.
He elbowed his maker while he eyed Sookie intensely and it needed to stop. Mine. My pet in the short, backless black dress. Mine.
“Hey Sal, how come you don’t hold my hand like that? That’s the sweetest thing I ever saw.”
She rolled her eyes. “See what I mean?” She’d called him irredeemable the night before.
“I do. I have a box at home. I’ll have it sent to you.”
Mickey bore his fangs, hinting that he might have heard about it already, but his maker’s eyes lit up. “What kind of box?”
“Pam’s invention, actually. It’s a simple wooden cube, lined with a silver cage and has tiny little holes drilled into the top. She painted it pink, but after a couple of days in the sun, the inhabitants tend to learn their lesson. She calls it her ‘Boîte de Taches de Rousseur’.”
An evil grin crossed her face. “I don’t know why you’d part with such a brilliant device. I think I might just talk to your Pam about how to assemble my own ‘Freckle Box’.” She made sure to get Mickey’s attention with the translation making him take a hard swallow. The mere idea of being sun-scorched in little increments was enough to make him think twice about his mouth… I was more concerned with Sookie’s possible reaction to the subject matter, but she was too busy being amused… maybe with Mickey’s reaction, but probably with Pam’s ‘artistic’ vision.
“If you’re sure. She’s quite enamored with her latest invention. Another box… two holes in the side allow for feet or hands to be shackled outside with silver… She only uses it when the weather calls for the sky to be overcast though. She wants it to scorch, not cauterize.”
“I love it. It’s a stockade for vampires… Pam and I will definitely need to talk.”
I nodded. “Torture and couture.”
Sookie giggled quietly. “That’s Pam.”
Salome turned her attention to Sookie. “Speaking of Sheriff Northman’s collection of talented treasures… What does fair Sookie have to offer this evening?”
Sookie smiled demurely. “Aww, you’re too nice… I spent a few hours on the floor today. There wasn’t any of the mess we’re worried about from the customers that I found. Some business related stuff though. Employees.”
“That’s quite the relief. Surprising though since daytime would be the wisest time to try to learn about operations.”
“I didn’t trust it either. I think it was probably a fluke unless their plans aren’t broad spectrum. You know, if they want to go after certain individuals. Plus the nature of my ability makes it kind of hard to tell. They have to be thinking of a certain thing. It’s more like a radio than a book. I plan on doing more rounds tonight and tomorrow though… and… if you make a list of certain people I should pay special attention to, that might help.”
She nodded astutely. “Mickey. The security force. Inform them to make note of suspicious individuals…”
“Why do I have to go now? I wanna hear what the tart has to say that’s so important.” He was dangerously close to being broken. Even the Berts were annoyed. He had no idea how bad for his ‘health’ insulting Sookie could be.
Without as much as a look from his maker, Mickey gave a loud grunt as he bent in half hugging his sides. A maker’s ‘call’. I’d never used the technique with Pam because my maker used it with extreme frequency and zeal. When I was young enough to not know my place, I’d have called silver my friend in contrast to the feeling of having my body turned inside out. Come to think of it, even now. But considering he was decades old and I was still considered a ‘newborn’ when I learned to avoid the behavior that invited the punishment, Mickey didn’t have any fucking excuse.
Sookie’s arm twitched against mine, but she stilled herself. Her instinct to help him in spite of his insult… too kindhearted at times.
Once Mickey made his apology from the floor, he was released to follow his orders. Salome offered a contrite nod. “My apologies. I really am at a loss over his discipline.”
I returned the nod, still puzzled by Sookie’s response to the incident. She’d felt nothing from the insult, followed by concern for his punishment… and then the sudden tension she felt after Salome’s apology.
She hid her feelings well enough though. Her face was as bright as usual when she let go of my hand to go to her purse and pull out a sheet of paper. She took my hand again once the sheet was in Salome’s grasp. “You have a couple of pit bosses who are skimming. A mechanic who’s stealing from the slot machines to help him with child support. The bartender by the pool is drinking on the job A LOT. The housekeeper was upset that she couldn’t get into our room because she has a way to get safe combinations and she has ours. She made it a point to get it because vampires tend to keep ‘good stuff’ in them. A reservation clerk is letting her brother stay for free between apartments. That’s pretty much it.”
“Well, yeah… from today. I mean, you’ve got a waitress on the breakfast shift who spat on a nasty patron’s food, but I’ve done worse… a blackjack dealer who let a hospitality manager get her pregnant, but it’s not sexual harassment because they’re not in the same department… a maid who’s dumb enough to take mini fridge leftovers home to her kids, but that’s just bad judgment… and the clerk at the boutique was plenty helpful when we stopped to get my guard a bathing suit, but he spent a lot of time picturing Alcide skinny dipping. That’s just funny… interesting, but not worth much attention considering what I’m really listening for.”
Salome closed her eyes for a moment and then rolled her lids open slowly. “After hearing all of that, how are you able to work tonight?”
Sookie shrugged. “I’m a little worn, but I should be able to make it for a while yet.” She felt perfect. 100% healthy with plenty of energy… she was setting up her impending headache. Salome didn’t have to know the true reason for my proud grin. It was fine that she thought I was proud of Sookie for her determination rather than her ability to hide a lie under the truth.
“In regards to the staff, were they courteous as far as you and your guard were concerned?”
“Oh, yes ma’am. Especially one of you concierges. Sydney. When she tracked us down at breakfast with a huge binder, we’d barely looked at the menus. She took notes on everybody’s preferred blood types so that she could contact plenty of donors. She suggested all kinds of sightseeing. She arranged for a car so that Paulette and Pam can run some errands tonight… She was really friendly and actually disappointed that we didn’t ask for more since her department head made it seem so important to keep us happy.”
“Excellent. Are there any other promotions I should consider giving?”
Sookie giggled. “No ma’am. I’ll let you know though.”
“At the risk of accusations of being altruistic, I’m sure the vampires in my area would appreciate some insight about their pets… but with the circumstances, do you foresee being available for a clinic?”
Sookie’s eyes rolled up, studying the ceiling for a moment before I felt her idea come to her in wave of satisfaction. “I could do it during the day tomorrow.”
“That hardly seems possible.”
“Sure it is. I’m not reading the vampire. Their pets and day guys could come to me. I’ll stay downstairs, by the pool, in the restaurant or in Shed since it’ll be quiet… if you get in touch with everyone tonight… have them send their pets with their payment, a signed disclaimer and a separate note if they’re worried about something specific and how I can get in touch with them with results like text or email… they could have word waiting when they wake up.”
“You aren’t reading the vampire… but… there could be dozens, hundreds… and…”
“I can work out the details on the fly if I have to… but the pets don’t even have to know what they’re bringing me… I mean, all they have to say is ‘my master, Eric Northman told me to bring this to you and wait for a message’. I might have to have some vampires come in tomorrow night for bad news, but I’m sure that I can swing it… I’ll do it tomorrow night too. You can send out word at sunset for stragglers that way I’m less distracted from the casino at night.”
“You could hear effectively with so much commotion?”
“As long as Eric is with me, I’ll have no problem… and during the day I’ll stick to the pool and Shed… If I’m wrong then a lot of folks will wake up to refunds and texted apologies, but I think it’ll work.”
After excusing herself to spread the word so that she didn’t waste any more of Sookie’s ‘valuable time’, Sookie paved the way into the casino.
Wybert actually grunted ‘smarter than Hadley too’ to his brother in Old Saxon…
I got a chuckle from Siegbert when I told them to stop trying to keep score…
Sookie cleared her throat and narrowed her eyes. “If y’all aren’t going to include me on the joke then come up with a way to mention Hadley so I won’t know about it.”
Wybert almost smiled. “Tatzelwurm?”
I chuckled, “Lindworm?”
I was elbowed. “Nice try, gentlemen. We call venomous bitches dragons too… Isn’t there a female Butzemann or something?”
All three of us stopped in our tracks… just staring at her.
“How do you know about der Butzemann?” Not to mention how she was so well versed about antiquated dragon folklore.
“Who hasn’t heard of the bogeyman?”
“Nearly everyone who hasn’t spent any time in northern Europe. You didn’t say bogeyman.”
“I read a lot.”
“So do I, but I didn’t hear about der Butzemann until I lived in Germany.”
“And when was that? Could it have been before Gutenberg?” Only by a century or two.
The Berts started chuckling behind me.
She rolled her eyes and started walking again while the Berts agreed that she was too smart for her age.
It was impossibly, deafeningly loud. The first thing to be seen as we walked in was a bank of slot machines. The electronic sound effects and hallow thud coming from the plungers being pulled by the overzealous group of ‘Red Hat Society’ women who surrounded the machines… and their celebratory shrieking was excruciating at best.
The craps tables were just as grating… they were surrounded by bellowing drunks…
Keno numbers being called…
Din from the roulette enthusiasts… Because shouting at the ball makes it stop where you want it to…
A brawl between two gamblers at a Baccarat table…
The popping of cards being flipped…
The clatter of chips being slammed against each other…
The layers of noises…
It was taxing to be there for me, but Sookie seemed to be holding up quite well.
One of Salome’s security guards appeared shortly after we entered and lingered, following us as Sookie searched the room with a rack of chips in hand until Sookie decided on a blackjack table sitting near the middle of the casino floor.
The guard waited for us to sit before delivering her chips. “Miss Stackhouse, the Sheriff assigned me to be your local security for the evening. I’m Owen. Salome asked me to remind you that she encourages you to keep your winnings.”
She laughed as she thanked him. “I did.”
The young vampire raised an eyebrow and took a second to piss me off by appreciating his view of Sookie’s chest. “If you say so, ma’am.”
She curled her finger, encouraging him to lean in closer, and improving his view as she point towards another table. “You have a card counter at that table.”
“We don’t discourage them until they become high rollers. The ones that get away with it brag to less talented comrades. They earn more for the casino through false advertising than they take home.”
“So I’m told. He was in here earlier though. He’s getting close to a 7 figure take. You might want to start discouraging him.”
“Yes ma’am. Thank you. If you need anything…”
She gave him a quick nod. “I’ll let you know.”
Once he settled back to watch the floor with a pit boss and the Berts took austere positions at closed tables nearby, I leaned over to ask. “What was that, about your winnings?”
She rested her face against mine and her lips brushed my ear as she answered, starting with a hum that killed nearly every other noise to my ears. “I played earlier too… I pretty much broke even. I left the table $500 ahead and gave it to the dealer as a tip.”
She would. Beautiful. Just beautiful.
For the next half hour, Sookie repeated her method from earlier.
She’d win a few hands by sticking to the house rules of hitting below 17, but then make up for the win by hitting on 19 or splitting 4s and losing what she’d won.
I watched her, filling my idle time by trying to predict how she’d play a given hand until she became angry, furious even. She continued to keep her cheerful façade while her mood continued to fester for several minutes before giving my hand a gentle squeeze.
I leaned over to her, waiting. “I need you to do nothing.”
“In response to what?”
“Nothing. Keep the Berts back too.” Before I could ask for clarification, she signaled to the casino’s guard and asked for the floorman, ‘NOT the pit boss’ to be sent over.
Still, no opportunity to get an explanation before she left her seat, I watched her walk away with the floorman without a word.
Four tables away, she staggered… a ‘twisted ankle’ that I wouldn’t have believed if I didn’t know better momentarily put her in the lap of a player at a nearby poker table… The two of them were sprawled on the floor. His chips had been dashed into the air and while the Berts were held off with a subtle hand gesture, the casino guard had to be grabbed in his rush to aid her.
Feeling relatively useless without understanding what was happening, I had to trust her reasons… My bigger problem was that I was actually afraid for her to get hurt.
I watched as the floorman helped Sookie off of the floor only so that she could plop her ass onto the lap of another gambler… she was putting on that she was drunk… she’d even accomplished looking flushed somehow… perhaps it was a side effect of how livid she still was.
Knowing that she managed to pickpocket after the bombing with sticky, blood covered hands, seeing her blatantly steal some of the player’s chips was all the more puzzling.
He stood up quickly ejecting her from his lap and onto the floor, making all four of the vampires charged with her safety take another step towards her aid, but it was the floorman who offered his hand again.
The gambler shouted, “That bitch just swiped my chips! I thought I saw her grab some of his, but I know I saw her grab some of mine!”
She grinned at him. “Nuh uh.”
Not wanting to cause a scene in front of hundreds of witnesses, the floorman invited them to somewhere more private to resolve the issue and took Sookie’s purse from her.
Sookie leaned away from him to speak to the only vampire in the vicinity, the other player at the table… “You should join us.”
“Why? Did you get some of my chips?”
“You’ll see.” When she stood again, she found me in the crowd and gave me a wink, and nodded her head so that I’d follow.
The service corridor used by the dealers’ comings and goings to the cage was the ‘somewhere more private’…
The floorman had absolutely no idea of how he should handle things, so the overfriendly casino guard relieved him of Sookie’s purse and sent him back to the floor before the first word came out of his mouth…
Leaving Sookie standing in a dimly lit hallway with me, the Berts, the casino guard, the vampire gambler and the two human gamblers…
Sookie didn’t seem the least bit fazed that she was in close quarters with 5 vampires and two men who were calling her a thief. I could’ve choked on the still wrathful nature of Sookie’s mood.
The two humans weren’t as numb to their circumstances. They were sweating before the floorman’s exit. It didn’t keep them from shouting accusations at Sookie though.
They only seemed to calm down when they noticed Sookie’s quiet, but wry laughter and the improper guard asked her undoubtingly what they were ‘dealing with’.
The rest of us couldn’t help but stare while we waited for answers. She took her purse back from the casino guard and started searching through it. “Thanks, Owen… You guys caught me… My bad.” She threw a handful of chips at them and then dug into her purse again… and pulled out stakes and silver nets. “Y’all want these back too?” The contents of her hand explained why she wanted the floorman’s help with her little diversion rather than just sending Owen to dispose of them.
She shoved the weapons back into her purse and leaned back against me, careful to keep her hands in front of her. I put my hands on her shoulders, too proud of her, so that she could use me to focus if she needed to. “What are they up to, Sookie?”
She was quiet for a minute, maybe two before her mood settled, but stayed darker than I liked. “These two geniuses, Darrin and John are multi-taskers is seems. They turned a few hundred into a few grand…”
Salome announced her sudden arrival by stomping wildly down the hall until she broke into her naturally faster (and quieter) gate. “What’s happened? I was told Sookie fell.”
Sookie looked back at her with a smile. “I’m fine. I fell on purpose. I needed a way to get some silver nets away from these two.”
“Have I missed why?”
“No ma’am. You have perfect timing… all you missed was that they multiplied their cash here. They started with $700 between them. Turned it into $4000 in blackjack.”
“Fabulous. Continue, please.”
“So their little plan was to make as much as they could off of you and against other vampires… So they could donate it to help their idol Steve Newlin’s cause.”
“Oh, it gets better… they’re actually working both sides of the ’charity’. It seems the church is quietly raising money for a bounty too. Newlin wants to ‘send a vampire to the sun’… and televise it. They were going to clean him out… I’m sorry, sir, what’s your name.”
The vampire gambler nodded politely enough. “Mott. Franklin Mott.”
“Nice to meet you…” She turned back to Salome, still presenting the same smile. “They came armed just in case they ‘got lucky’ enough to catch a vampire. They were going to hustle Mr. Mott here at the poker tables and then follow him. They were going to donate a vampire to the church… sweet that they’re so devoted… It’s a shame their bibles didn’t include that ‘false prophet’ bit.”
Salome nodded with her arms folded. “A shame, indeed.”
“So, Mr. Mott here was worth a quarter million dollars.”
Mott growled. “That’s all? I’m worth pocket change?”
“To the human grunts too dumb to resist? The ones with blue collar jobs and mouths to feed? Yes. Wealthy people don’t get their hands dirty. $250,000 might as well be ten million to the working class. Only an idiot would offer more.” He didn’t look any less offended, but her insight shed a little light on how clever of an adversary Steve Newlin was.
Mott gaped. “Who are you?”
“Oh! I’m sorry. I’m Sookie Stackhouse. I belong to Sheriff Northman. I’m his, but I’m working for Salome this week.” Twice. Mine.
He sneered in my direction. “Where can I find one?”
I was not amused. “With me.”
Salome eyed the two shitbags. “So, what to do with them…”
Sookie’s smile finally faltered. “Well, sheriff… that’s none of my concern since they weren’t stealing from me or planning to help murder me. I think now would be a great time for me to take my dinner break.”
Salome nodded deep enough that it could be considered a bow. “Thank you Miss Stackhouse. Enjoy your meal.”
We were on our way into Shed when our attention was caught by a loud growl from behind us. Sookie and I whipped around expecting to find some form of trouble, only to see Wybert standing behind us with a fistful of plastic shards. “Hate phones.” His bother gave him a sympathetic nod. Their parents must’ve been so proud.
Sookie actually felt sorry for the ignoramus who crushed his cell unintentionally. “You want to use mine?”
“Is it important?”
“Update for Andre.”
“Oh! I gotcha covered. I was going to call him anyway so he’d know about the bounty. Is that why you were calling him?”
She opened her purse and held it out. “Then let me give that a proper burial with this other crap and I’ll call Andre after I find y’all donors. K?”
“We fed last night.” That was probably the most complicated sentence I’d ever heard him get right in English.
Sookie laughed as he dropped the iPhone splinters into her purse. Who the fuck thought he could manage an iPhone? “Worried about love handles?”
“Love handles…pudge, getting fat. It’s a joke, because y’all don’t gain weight.”
Seigbert almost cracked a smile. Wybert just grunted ‘joke’. Picturing either of them in a Neanderthal exhibit was no stretch of the imagination.
Sookie shook her head, frustrated, but staying patient. “It doesn’t matter. Y’all need to feed when you can. No guarantee what tomorrow night will bring us.”
Her first line of business was to get the ‘hateful crap’ out of her purse and wash any possible silver residue from her hands. By 9:45, Sookie had found a pair of plump brunettes for the brothers to disappear with and given Andre a far more humble briefing than she deserved. I was sure that Salome would illuminate the incident for him when she called. I didn’t think for a second that she wouldn’t be updating him nightly. Given the circumstances of politics and Sookie’s gift, I would have been too.
She asked if I minded waiting for ‘the favor’ at the restaurant instead of in Shed… The donors were being obnoxious because they thought Sookie was rubbing their noses in the fact that she was a pet. Instead of being indignant for Sookie’s sake, I laughed as we walked out… if they thought being a pet was a promotion from being a donor, they had a lot to learn. Donors are free to leave.
I slid into the booth in the back of the dark yet active restaurant after Sookie and let her get comfortable. “I have a question.”
She smirked. “No hints. I can’t.”
“I waited a thousand years for you; I can wait 15 minutes to meet your favor.” Fuck. Think. THEN speak. Asshole.
Her chin quivered and her eyes looked like they were starting to melt… I didn’t, ME, I couldn’t bear the idea of any of her possible reactions to my spontaneous and absurdly romanticized testimonial.
I killed the topic. “When Salome punished Mickey, your feelings confused me. I was hoping you’d explain.” She’d tell Pam. I knew it. Sookie would confide in Pam that I’d said something so… so… so impulsive… I’d never hear the end of it. Ever.
She shifted her gaze from me to the table linens and cleared her throat. “Are we seriously going to pretend you didn’t just say something so sweet?”
She blinked… repeatedly. Shifting focus back to me before clearing her throat again. “What… what confused you?”
“Well, to begin with, you didn’t seem to mind being called a tart.”
She shrugged. “I’ve been called everything from retard to the C word. Tart isn’t really worth getting my hair up over.”
“Who called you a cunt?”
“Usually just women who catch their husbands staring at my boobs. They don’t always say it out loud though.” She was still misty eyed, pretending I hadn’t said ‘it’ as poorly as I was.
“You wanted to help him though. Even though he insulted you.”
“I didn’t know what was going on. I thought he was hurt for a split second. What was that? Like her thing or something vampires can all do.”
“It’s a ‘maker’s call’… It’s part of the package. We can’t ignore the call any more than we can defy a command.”
“You can do that to Pam?”
“I could. I never have though. I’ve only ever used it when she was learning to feed… well, there was one occasion when she wasn’t returning my voicemails, but I’ve never been that severe. Pam has only ever gotten a pull.”
“Oh… Yeah, I probably would’ve tried to help him up if anyone else showed a reaction.”
“It says a lot that Salome used it in your defense. She seems to be quite taken with you.”
“Is that a good thing?”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little. “It’s fine. Salome is one who plays well with others. Me in particular. We’ve worked together more than a few times over the years.”
“That’s nice to hear.”
“The most confusing thing about the situation was that you became anxious after Salome apologized.”
“We shouldn’t talk about it here.”
“And still more secrets?”
She sighed and reached for my hand and turned it palm up on her leg… she proceeded to spell out a message by using her finger to ‘draw’ letters. “I H E A R D S I E G B E R T” Fuck!
“What was it?”
“I T S N O T W H A T H E T H O U G H T.”
It was that she heard him at all… It could’ve been ‘Mongo like candy’ and it was just as much a danger to her as it would’ve been if he’d revealed a state secret.
It could’ve been that his particular thought at the time was less guarded than usual. It could be that my blood or simply practice was making her a stronger telepath… The only thing for sure was that she was terrified.
She still had her head resting on my shoulder when ‘the favor’ arrived.
Her jeans were a poor fit and her blouse was outdated. She was tall, slender bordering on emaciated, big brown eyes and wiry dirty blond hair, mid thirties if I had to guess… Her smile carried about as much cheer as you might expect from Rosh Hashanah in Auschwitz. Gloomy was an understatement.
Whether her abysmal smile was poorly faked or she was just that unshakably miserable, I still had no idea why Sookie would want to help her. I didn’t get any clues from her appearance other than the fact that her weight and complexion might be indicative of over-donating. Ginger could be carried away on a stiff breeze if it weren’t for her breast implants and she had more weight and color to her than the waif in front of me.
And the first thing out of her mouth was, “Geez Sookie, how the fuck can you stand to touch him?” I was more happy than ever to have not issued an empty promise.
Oddly, Sookie wasn’t at all annoyed and pointed to the empty bench as an invitation. She pulled away from my side slowly, giving me a wink as she settled back into the corner of the booth. “You’ll see… Eric, this is Michelle. Michelle, this is my guy.” Guy?
“Nice to meet you… Seriously, Sookie?”
“It’s not a problem for me.”
Michelle leaned back and gawked. Finally, “Great. Just great. Another one.” She was really starting to try my patience.
Sookie giggled at her. “What makes you say that?”
Michelle tilted her head and gave Sookie an annoyed look without answering.
Sookie matched her stare for a moment before speaking again. “He promised to keep the secret.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“No. I just thought you’d want to see for yourself. You said you’d never met one.”
“You’re just fucking with me… you’re doing it…”
Sookie didn’t answer her. She stared at Michelle. The look on her face was knowing and her mood had become more mild than I’d ever known it to be. When I got no clues from Sookie, Michelle’s face offered a quickly shifting range of emotions as her eyes darted around the restaurant.
Sookie flashed a smirk. “Yeah, sweetie.”
She stabbed her finger through the air to point at me. “He…”
“No.” She looked like she might be about to pass out when the waitress came over to take her drink order and I was highly annoyed that I hadn’t been clued in, but seemed to be the topic du jour. “Vodka rocks, double. Make it two.”
When the waitress was gone, Michelle buried her hands in her face.
Sookie leaned into me, taking my hand again. “I told you that I’d only tell Eric. He promised to keep the secret… I swear, there are better ways to make a living than what you’re doing.” Unfuckingbelievable. That’s when it all clicked. Another telepath. She wasn’t abhorred to see Sookie hugging a vampire. She was surprised to see her making contact with anyone… Unfuckingbelievable! Well, Herveaux was forgiven for not knowing about the dinner plans. I’d thought that he let Sookie slip away or linger in a bathroom unchecked for too long…
I gave Sookie’s hand a squeeze, completely understanding (just as she said I would) what kind of guidance she’d been alluding to. I also understood what she’d been ‘excited’ about… She’d found someone like her, finally. “How did you find her?”
Sookie never took her eyes off of her new found friend. “We heard each other on the floor today. It was really weird at first because our thoughts were bouncing off of each other. Her poker table was next to where I was playing blackjack.”
Michelle lurched as she shushed Sookie. “They’ll hear you.”
“I had a pit boss tell me today that the penny ante crap you do isn’t worth tracking. Hush.” Sookie turned to me with a slight cringe. “She was a janitor at a school for the deaf in the area until she was downsized. She’s been supplementing her unemployment checks while she looks for another quiet job. Basically controlling her take like I was earlier and coming out just a little ahead. She took home less than I tipped my dealers.”
“Would she consider a garishly loud job if the pay were astronomical?”
Sookie smiled sheepishly. “I’m sure that would probably depend on the favor I asked for.”
“The guidance you wanted for her is pointing her in the direction of someone who wouldn’t be another Compton?”
She nodded and gave a giggle. “And not you. You aren’t allowed to be greedy. You have a telepath and a witch and a Skevington.” The Tower of London’s Lieutenant (and inventor of the Scavenger’s Daughter) was a personal hero of Pam’s… along with Coco Chanel. But, again, I was impressed with the obscure facts bouncing around in the head of the little girl who barely managed to graduate high school.
“I’m going to tell Pam you called her that. She might cry.”
She giggled. “Can you think of anyone?”
“Sophie-Ann already has you. Salome wouldn’t take her for granted, but Edgington would throw more money at her. If that’s the case, this conversation didn’t happen because I couldn’t recommend that she leave the state even if Mississippi is an ally. That would mean moving though…”
Michelle interrupted me, shaking her head violently. “No. Nononono. I… I like breathing people. If anyone found out…”
The perfect timing of a visit from a concierge ended her would-be rant about being in danger. The fat little daemon in an expensive suit smiled like he was having his picture taken. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to find out if the Sheriff and the Telepath need anything from me this evening.” Michelle’s eyes looked like dinner plates at the mention of Sookie’s ability.
Sookie waited for me, but I shook my head. She held her hand out to shake his. “Sydney should’ve left you one of her Post-It notes. Call me Sookie, please.”
“Of course ma’am. Phillip, at your service. Any specialties you might need?” He stepped out of the way for the waitress to deliver drinks.
“No. Alcide and I spent a long while with Sydney earlier. She’d had everything that came to mind taken care of by the time we were back from the pool. You guys are on point. I already mentioned it to your Sheriff too.”
“Most kind of you, ma’am. If there’s anything you need…”
She gave him a nod. “I’ll let you know.”
As soon as he was gone, Michelle might as well have dove into her drink.
I raised an eyebrow at Sookie. “Now I know why Alcide is calling you ‘Princess’.”
She cringed playfully and leaned over to whisper. “It’s making me nuts. I’m not used to this mess.” She would be getting used to it if I had any say on the matter.
Michelle practically dropped her empty glass and hissed her vodka across the table. “What the fuck do you do here? Just look for card counters?”
“I’m actually on loan. Eric is friends with the woman who owns the casino and I’m here looking for mess like the bombing that just happened in New Orleans.”
“HA! No pressure there!”
“It’s not constant. Until just before the bombing, I spent all of my time in bars listening for customers. Fake IDs, stolen credit cards, drunks looking for a fight… I’m not treated like the town joke anymore, I can have a ‘normal’ conversation with people and it pays the bills honestly. I’m good with the tradeoff of a little stress. No one gets to meditate through life.”
“I kind of was until I got canned. Do you know what the mind of a profoundly deaf child is like?”
Sookie smiled at her. “I do. It’s beautiful, but I could crawl into a vampire’s mind and be happy there forever. It’s that peaceful.”
Michelle began staring at me again as though looking at me amplified my ‘bubble’.
“It’s your call. Do. Don’t. I’m just letting you know, I used to get headaches. If I took two days off in a row, my first day back was miserable. The more I pushed it back, the more it got to me. As soon as I started using it, pushing myself, the headaches stopped. The tunnel vision, the dizzy spells, the confusion… it all stopped. And you know exactly what I’m talking about… If you work for the right vampire, then you’ll be kept safe. Something like this would have you looking for card counting, keeping an ‘ear’ open around the staff and stuff like that mostly.”
“So you get bank for being a freak?”
“Yeah. Pretty much. But I’m not a freak among vampires, hon. I’m providing a service that’s incredibly rare.”
I couldn’t help but interrupt. “Have you never met a vampire?”
“I guess you’re my first face to face. It’s not like we run in the same circles. Y’all don’t do a lot of grocery shopping and I’ve only been able to keep work as housekeeping because no one sticks around to chat up the maid.”
“Could your shields tolerate crowds while you adjust?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. Some days are better than others. I’m doing alright at the moment.”
“Do you mind if I ask if anyone in your family has a special ability?”
“You can ask, but I’m an orphan. Sookie’s the first person to ever know I’m…” She seemed reluctant to say it.
“It’s better that you don’t say it because you’re unsure if you want to use it. Being ‘Out and Proud’ comes from having the protection of a contract. If you want to consider ‘working’, negotiating your protection would be the first step.”
“Protection from what?”
“Sookie’s first ‘face to face’ was with a vampire who intended to enslave her to leverage a political position. There are those who would hurt you for their own gain.”
“No surprise there. No offense, but y’all have a reputation.”
“A reputation that doesn’t do us justice. We are greedy and devious and capable of extreme measures that you can’t begin to imagine, but we are capable of recognizing worth better than any other being. A prolonged existence full of lies makes one appreciate veracity all the more. That’s what telepaths have to offer. The truth. Sookie has already saved the life of one vampire tonight because she could ‘hear’ the thoughts of the humans that would harm him. Your ability would be taken just as seriously as hers is.”
Sookie added, “It’s a whole lot more fulfilling to help people than it is to be a walking sobriety test… and I’m sure earning a paycheck would make you feel better than skimming a few hundred off of poker players. You have a conscience… I watched you fold with a full house against a guy with a mortgage and bluff a wealthy tourist out of a pair of aces. Right now, the Fellowship of the Sun is trying to find a vampire to crucify in the sun so that they can justify their BS that vampires are monsters… So yeah, even if I did still get the headaches and everything else, I’d still be doing this. I wouldn’t go work for Enron just to help feed the rich. What we can do is offer security.”
“There are ways to do that for humans though.”
Sookie nodded in agreement and sat back to pick up her menu. “Yeah. I’m sure there are, but FYI, my brother almost went to jail for murder. People who know I can read minds, including the detective I’d known all my life still thought I was full of crap. So you go right on ahead, walk into a police station and tell the Captain that you can help interrogate suspects because you can read minds like Matt Parkman. See how far you get. This guy might have spent 30 seconds wondering if I was telling the truth about being a telepath, but he never called me a liar or a maniac when my own mother did.”
The rest of the meeting went by silently, but I’m sure that it wasn’t without conversation. While Sookie ate an obscenely large rare steak and salad and Michelle pawed at a salad to favor her preference for vodka, I sat in doubt…
Sookie needed, it wasn’t just a safety measure, she needed a guard. She was practically in a gilded cage because of what she’d ‘heard’ as a paid telepath… both Sookies for that matter. Yet she was still completely certain that Michelle could benefit from following her footsteps and entering a society where killing and torture were usually the only way to resolve a conflict. She wasn’t wrong about how important her contributions had been to some vampires, in fact, she was being far too modest again in my opinion. She’d officially saved dozens of vampires from final death, unofficially there wasn’t any way to measure how many hypothetical human lives she’d saved by discovering the truth about who was responsible for the bombing.
She may get VIP treatment in Louisiana, but she was still in danger until Arkansas was finalized. The one thing that kept me from saying anything to contradict her was that instead of the usual shyness she felt when talking about her ability, for once, Sookie was feeling proud of it…
We left the restaurant with Michelle because Sookie had invited her to ‘tag along’ with her in the casino… A telepathic career day.
As soon as we entered the casino, Owen became our shadow again. He delivered Sookie’s rack of chips as soon as she was settled at a Texas Hold’em table and sent a waitress to take drink orders… Sookie ordered a Red Bull, because she was starting to get ‘tired’. She wasn’t tired… she was setting up her reason to leave as promised.
Since I was sitting there, I decided to play rather than be completely idle… I got more than I bargained for…
Since Sookie was sitting at the end of the table and I was next to her, but around the side… whenever Sookie needed to concentrate she slid her foot along the inside of my thigh so that I could provide contact by simply touching her leg… but she definitely made sure that I was thanked properly. There were a few times that her foot lingered in my lap, tickling over my thighs or the one time that her tiny foot pushed me until my fangs ran out and I had to wonder if she’d say ‘precum’… I was quickly starting to develop a foot fetish while sporadically helping Sookie ‘work’.
Sookie rediscovered the two Were’s from the crowd of protesters that greeted us the night before. It took all of 30 seconds for them to be swept away quietly. A few minutes went by before Salome stopped at the table to ask Sookie how to go about questioning them… She rubbed her temple, setting up her headache excuse again and suggested that Salome just ‘sit on them’ until tomorrow so that they get nervous enough to confess everything in one sitting. But we did have Owen watch over our chips while Sookie read the Weres’ minds to find how they checked in every night… Their method of check in was to call a diner in Little Rock to order a ‘tomato steak sandwich and a side of pea soup’ and leave their last names. The ‘pea soup’ was to identify which Pack they were with… Pea Ridge. Cater was pulling out all of the stops… Hiring help from 350 miles away from the closest Louisiana pack. Too smart.
There were a few minutes after we left Salome that Sookie and Michelle sat in silent conversation, but eventually I got my fun…
The other players had migrated away from the table, leaving me with Sookie and Michelle as opponents…
Sookie’s chips had dwindled… Not for lack of trying, she truly wasn’t having a lot of luck, but when I was dealt pocket 9s with a 9 and a pair of Jacks on the table, things got interesting…
Michelle had already folded and Sookie couldn’t match the raise I made…
She smiled sweetly and pulled her little notebook from her purse, scribbled a bit, then folded the paper until I wouldn’t be able to see what she’d written and placed it on the pot. “That should cover it.”
“An IOU? Why would I take an IOU?”
She smirked, licking her lips… and that was all I needed other than winning that piece of paper. There wasn’t a cash value to that IOU… I needed to see what was on it.
The way she leered at me during the Showdown made the situation that much more dramatic…
I arrogantly flipped my 9s over and watched for the slightest of clues… I’d had faster years than the seconds that passed while Sookie’s raised eyebrow taunted me.
She flipped one card… A jack.
That was fine.
It wasn’t possible for her to get a flush or a straight…
She only had a 4% chance of having one of the two cards that would beat my hand…
I watched her little fingers cautiously lift the corner of her second card closer than I’d ever watched anything…
She held the card up facing her for just a moment, before she flipped it into the air…
My jaw clenched as I watched her second jack spin through the air to land on the table in front of me. Four of a kind.
Four of a kind.
She giggled, standing just enough to claim her winnings, my losses and start restacking them. “How do you know that a foot rub from Wybert isn’t on that paper.”
“Because you couldn’t have taken $40,000 with a bluff like that without me feeling the lie.”
“Are you so sure about that?” I’d better be.
“I’m sure enough to keep playing.”
A trip to the cage for more chips, waiting out a visit to the restroom (she took the damn paper with her), holding the game five separate times so that Sookie could enlighten Owen to one thing or another…
All the while, we traded chips back and forth… the dealer, Michelle and Owen found my agitation endlessly amusing… and that little piece of paper could have guaranteed my final death as soon as I read it and I still NEEDED to see it.
When I heard an all too familiar laugh behind me, I knew I was about to have more taunting to suffer… Pam. “That would explain what happened to nirvana… I just didn’t think that sweet Sookie was the shark.”
“Do you need something Pam?”
“I wasn’t going to bother myself with this clamor at all, but I thought I’d deliver Sookie’s parcel to her as an excuse to see why you’re so bothered.”
I watched her drop a small box into Sookie’s purse and then take a seat next to Michelle while Sookie thanked her.
Pam sat and watched me fold four pathetic fucking hands, she complimented Sookie’s ‘inspired idea’ and ‘fabulous taste’ to needle me about the contents of the secret box she’d delivered. She flirted with the dealer until he blushed and then she set her sights on me. “Is there a testicle at stake?” Bitch.
Sookie giggled. “There could be for all he knows.”
“What exactly are we so determined about?”
Sookie raised her eyebrow and calmly slid that piece of paper over to Pam, never taking her eyes off of me.
She knew I’d watch… Pam held the object of my torment in her lap where it was out of my view and not only did she close her eyes when she saw what was written, but she bit her lip to keep from laughing so hard that I felt the pain. She slid the note back to Sookie, slowly stood and straightened her dress, walked over calmly to kiss my cheek… and whispered, “I love you too much to watch this.”
Then she was gone… judging by the echo… she was in the lobby when she broke into her laugh.
“Did you tell Michelle?”
Sookie shook her head.
“Is it at least something I’d want?”
“I’m going to win what’s on that note.”
“Are you going to keep me here until dawn? I’m getting sleepy.”
“Yes, I will. And no, you’re not.”
She blew a kiss to me then bit her bottom lip… and motioned for the dealer to start another hand…
As entertained as Michelle was, she only lasted another half hour…
She announced that it was nearly 2am and declared that it was past her bedtime. As she left, she asked Sookie if she wanted to meet for lunch the next day and before I had the chance, Sookie warned her that her guard would be in company unless she waited for dinner so that I could join them… Michelle opted to wait for dinner and promised to think about what they’d talked about… as though they actually ‘talked’ about much of anything.
Several hands later and neither of us had much of a lead on the other…
I met her halfway when she leaned over to whisper, “Last hand. All or nothing. The only catch is that you have to wait until we get to the elevator to read it.”
“If I lose, I still get to see it though?”
She nodded. “If you want to do that to yourself…”
I sat back and pushed my chips to the ante. “Deal.”
A 3 and a 6… not suited.
I would have folded that fucking hand, but when the dealer flopped my second 3… I got my hopes up for three of a kind, two pair… anything…
By the time the dealer turned the River, I had a miserable lump in my throat. And Sookie was giving away nothing… the only thing I was getting of her emotions was amusement.
King, Queen, ten, nine and three…
I was looking at abso-fucking-lutely nothing. For me anyway.
I was sure Sookie had gotten lucky again. That she had the Jack she needed for the straight or the spade she needed for the flush…
It was her turn to show her cards first…
She made a spectacle of it… My angst had become the fuel for her entertainment… She held her hand up to the cards, and tried to use ‘The Force’ to show them. The first time her hand touched them was only a tease. She immediately raised her hands over her head for a long, exaggerated yawn. Opened mouth, arched back. So cruel… Then she lifted them both and childishly danced them back and forth over the table like action figures… her little sound effects meant that one of her cards shot the other… and the ‘dead’ one fell over… The two of hearts. She playfully cringed, sucking air through her teeth.
And she hovered her hand over her mystery card, wiggled her fingers… “You sure you don’t want to renegotia…”
She giggled. “You know I love you right?” She could’ve meant that, but she was just stalling.
“Just. Flip. The. Fucking. Card.”
She threw her head back to laugh and quickly turned her last card… I blinked to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. I really was looking at the two of diamonds.
Her hand was actually worse than mine. Her pair of twos only a bit more pathetic than my pair of threes… we both had the bottom of the barrel.
Knowing… just knowing that I’d won… I’d get what I was after…
I flipped the first card, showing my 6 of hearts as slowly as I could muster.
Sookie grinned. “So… it’s like that, huh?”
I raised an eyebrow. “Maybe.”
She giggled, “Just flip that jack and get it over with.”
“What makes you think I have a jack?”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. Whatever. You look too smug to have lost. So, what is it? Ace? Spade?”
“Did you mean what you said about renegotiating?”
“Eric, are you trying to make me beg?” She paused to lick her lips again and stroked her foot along the inside of my leg. “…because you know I will.” And it would be too much after what she’d already put me through…
I didn’t turn the card… I just slid it over to her. Her eyes only left mine long enough to glance at the corner of the card as she pulled it away from the table and began to smirk. “You got me with a pair of threes?”
“I’m as surprised as you are.”
“Best two out of three?”
“Why would I risk that? It’s past your bedtime anyway.”
She calmly slid my prize to me. “I guess this is yours then…” She tossed a couple of chips to the dealer and asked Owen to see to the rest of them and make sure the house was repaid.
The elevator doors had closed behind us before I realized that the note was doing bizarre things to my mentality… It might as well have been vibrating in my pocket… whispering, ‘read me, read me’.
When my hand autonomously tried to retrieve it, Sookie stopped me. Her hand grabbed my wrist and she leaned into me. “Are you sure you don’t want to negotiate a trade?”
“A trade? Are you starting to second guess what you offered?”
“No… But… I’m being nice. For all you know, it could be a Saxon massage… I’m just giving you an out.”
“What are you offering in exchange?”
“Make a suggestion.”
“I could make several, but that doesn’t seem fair. You know what’s written on the note. I could over or underestimate its value. If you want to bait me away from my tightly folded surprise, you’re going to need to offer something tangible.”
She rolled her eyes up, playfully, her creative tell… but only briefly. She reached out, her tiny finger loitering over the ‘emergency stop’ button on the elevator’s control and wiggled her eyebrows. Stellar negotiating skills…. She knew how tempted I’d be.
“Hmmmm… I think I’ll keep my note, Monty.”
She giggled. “Are you sure?”
I leaned over to her ear. “If I don’t choose the note, it’s gone forever.” I’d eventually get the elevator fun too.
She backed away from me to lean against the opposite wall. “In a manner of speaking.”
“You’d keep it to lord over me?”
“You’re toying with me.”
“No. You’ve been free to open that note for 12 floors.”
I had to force myself to handle the note calmly… bracing myself for finding that it contained a practical joke instead of something more fun… hoping that I wouldn’t overreact if that were the case… because it would spoil her fun… and again, catching myself caring, but I didn’t think about it for long…
Her little note…
‘It’s not the collar that keeps a pet with her master.
It’s the love and trust she has for him that allow the leash.
This IOU is good for one command.
Use it wisely. I might bite.
All I could do was re-read it… over and over.
Pet. Mine. Master… All of those words had irritated her to some extent…
At least… they had until I explained that she wasn’t ‘just a pet’… Somehow, she’d come to terms with that truth…
The elevator doors slid open on our floor and startled Sookie. I hadn’t noticed how attentively she was watching… but I did notice that she snarled at the doors and grumbled on her way out, “God you read slow for a vampire.”
“Your handwriting is atrocious.” Her signature, a torrid collection of curves that created a suggestive little double S… her handwriting wasn’t nearly as ‘bad’ as my reaction to the sentiment though.
She giggled, grabbing a fistful of my shirt to start tugging me out of the elevator and slowly walked backwards along the hall. “I was scanning the crowd of gamblers, explaining things to Michelle, teasing you… I’ll try to focus on penmanship next time.”
It was hard to explain the way she was drawing me down the hall… magnetism. Not a metaphorical, quixotic ideal… actual magnetism. “So for the trivial price of $55,000 I received one command.”
“Apparently.” She reached out and began unbuttoning my shirt, continuing to slither down our quiet corridor.
“Do you have any preferences?”
“And you trust me to not use it for something that would embarrass you?”
I thought I was hallucinating at first, but when I realized that she really was sliding her panties off while walking backwards (and doing it gracefully), my fangs ran out. “Welllll… considering that most stuff still embarrasses me… I trust you not to have me do something I’d hate you for.”
“I wouldn’t do that… I might have you do something that you’ll want to hate though.”
She slowed down, letting me close the gap between us to get my arm around her. “You’re just going to have to keep my tender sensibilities in mind.”
With only a few feet left before the door to our room, I watched Sookie deposit her panties in her purse and remove her keycard. “I think part of the fun would be challenging those tender sensibilities… Pushing the boundaries of your reserved upbringing…”
“I expect no less from the likes of you.” Once she unlocked the door, she grabbed my shirt and pulled me into our suite, still leading me to our room as if I were the pet. There was no denying it anymore, even to myself… there were times when I was completely her pet… her toy… her slave…
“Then we’ll have to play tomorrow night too.”
“Why would I do that? What’s in it for me? I don’t want your money.”
“Then I’ll have to borrow your notebook.”
She smirked as she purred, “That kind of currency, I can handle.”
As we passed through the living room, Sookie turned around, wrapping my arms around herself.
Pam was watching television with her feet on the coffee table and her laptop open to her blog. She was uploading pictures of her ‘new’ vintage treasures… She opened her mouth to say something, but before I had the chance to tell her to keep her mouth shut, Sookie took care of it. “If you say anything to piss him off, Alcide and I will spend the day gluing Christmas ornaments into your hair and we’ll follow you around all night singing Oh Christmas Tree.” I’d never thought of that one.
Pam cackled. “Not me. I’m still high from shopping. Did you give him his present yet?”
“You should. He’ll love it. Goodnight.”
As much as I wanted to move on to other things… the little box in Sookie’s purse finally had my attention…
I closed the bedroom door behind us and then snatched Sookie’s purse from her. When she realized that she wasn’t going to win our game of ‘keep away’, she resorted to throwing her shoes at me, then the bed pillows, laughing the whole time… She finally changed tactics.
When she walked towards me, all I had to do was hold her purse over my head. I’d proven that the last time we’d played.
She waved her hand dismissively. “You can have it. We’re wasting time fighting over something you’re going to get anyway.”
She pushed my shirt open and as she slowly nibbled down my chest, she started unbuckling my belt. I let her purse fall to the floor, half expecting her to run away with it, but she didn’t seem to care.
I watched her work to undress me while her mouth gave the occasional nibble, just enough to leave me wanting without letting my mind get set in a certain direction… making me think that her human lovers probably amounted to nothing more than a stack of suicide letters… who the fuck would want to keep going if she’d sent them on their way?
With my clothes out of the way, she stood, sliding the little box into one of my hands and leading me to the bed by the other. She straddled my lap and nodded. “Go ahead. You’re holding things up.”
“Someone was distracting me.”
She leered, wanting to hurry the gift along, but as I considered the little velvet box in my hand, I realized (finally) that there was something more to it. It smelled of magic… it felt impossibly heavy for such a tiny container… It might as well have had its own heartbeat. My confusion must have shown because Sookie giggled and told me to ‘just open it’.
The little box creaked open to reveal a ring… not that the ring wasn’t impressive, but it didn’t explain the curious air to the box. The ring itself was beautiful. White gold with a red stone that looked more like blood than any gem I’d ever seen… I’d have bought it for myself if I’d come across it.
“Want me to start explaining?”
I nodded. “Please.”
“Well, our company kind of inspired it… did she nag you about their rings? He definitely did.”
“It’s how she realized I wasn’t her Eric. I mentioned hers and it brought her attention the fact that I wasn’t wearing one.”
“At first he thought I was mad at him and took it off. So… since the rings were kind of how they caught on to things, I thought if we ended up dealing with the same weirdness as them, then it…”
“Would help you identify your Eric?”
She giggled and poked my ribs. “Yes… but wait. There’s more… did you notice that the stone isn’t… like normal.”
“Yes. What is it?”
“Well… there’s a spell that some witches are strong enough for… as it turns out, you have one of those said witches. She needed magnesium and gold and blood for it, specifically my blood. Instead of a ruby or something, that has Dichroic glass because of the magnesium and gold in it… the drop of my blood in the setting and her hoodoo make that ring a Sookie locator… If we get flung into the weirdiverse, then you should be able to find me.”
“I can already find you.” I was still studying the ring.
“He couldn’t. When they woke up that night, they didn’t have their bond. That’s what caused a bunch of the confusion.” And the onset of my first ever case of blue balls.
“If the ring still works in that case.”
She shrugged. “I didn’t exactly go into details with Paulette… I kind of think we should though… but even if the spell doesn’t carry over, then I can still spot you.”
“Did you ask her if she can do the same for me?”
“I figured you would if you liked the idea. Do you?”
I nodded, breaking my gaze to finally slide the ring onto my finger… a perfect fit… and Sookie immediately felt heavier on my legs. “I really do… go… go out into the living room and get Pam…”
I didn’t need to explain that I wanted to experiment, test the ring’s accuracy… She giggled and bounced out of my lap.
It was insane how much stronger I could feel Sookie than my own child… without the ring on, I could tell that they were moving around the suite, once the ring was back in place it seemed like I could tell the two of them were dancing in circles around Pam’s bathroom…
Without… near the door…
With… walking along the hotel corridor in opposite directions. Pam was moving towards the suite. Sookie was moving away except for when she stopped, took a few steps back and then continued on her way…
And even though I tried, I couldn’t ignore the awareness… the connections I had with them, even Pam was something that I needed to consciously monitor, but the ring was impossible to ignore….
Sookie and Pam came to the door of the room, both of them wearing nearly identical curiosity. “Well?”
“I know dichroic glass isn’t terribly posh, Pam, but I want one for you too. This is astounding… I can feel Sookie’s location better than yours.”
She elbowed Sookie. “I told you he’d like it… and I think I might start a movement… After going to the gallery, I might be bored with diamonds anyway. Dichroic has so much more personality. As a matter of fact, my blog is still open…” She shoved Sookie into the room and closed the door.
Sookie laughed her way to me, taking her place back on my legs. “A new toy?”
“It’s not something I can play with exactly… but I love the idea of being able to find you so easily… now the bigger question would be, are you sure you want me to be able to feel everywhere you are? I could tell that you went into Pam’s tub and out again twice.”
She smiled with every bit of her face. “That’s really cool.”
“You don’t mind?”
She closed in, distracting me with a long kiss and then staying so close our noses touched. “Why would I mind? It makes me feel safer knowing that you can find me.”
“And stalk you.”
“I’m practically up your butt as it is. How the hell are you going to stalk me from 3 feet away?”
“You might want to change that.”
“You can already find me.”
“You could still change your mind…”
She interrupted by nibbling my lip, moving her hips. “About bonding?”
I barely nodded as she reached between us. “yes.”
She lifted herself, taking my cock and slowly lowering herself onto me… it was agonizing… she hadn’t teased nearly as much as she could’ve or had in the past, but it still didn’t change how perfect she felt around me. I unzipped her dress and pulled it off of her while she rocked, swayed, pushed… and as soon as her dress was over her head, she put her mouth to my neck and started with a whimper, “Why would I change my mind?”
As much as I wanted to give in to what she was pushing me to, I wasn’t going to let her gloss over anything. I fought against myself to pull her face away from my neck and hated the cold she left behind. “Sookie, explain bonding. As you know it.”
She made a frustrated grunt, but never stopped killing me with her hips… “It means that I’ll be able to feel you like you’ve been able to feel me…”
Another pitch of her hips put a painful twinge into my fangs.
“…It means I’ll be able to find you when I need you…”
She paused to bite her lip, tensing around me, making it more difficult for both of us to control ourselves.
“…It means that you’ll be able to influence me more than you already can…”
Her breathing was starting to shake and the small part of me that wanted her to calm down didn’t win.
“…Other vampires will know right away that I’m yours…” Mine.
“And it’s permanent, Sookie. It’s not something that either of us would ever be able to ignore if you change your mind. There’s no going back.”
She moaned, starting to look pained… “I know.”
“You’ll be mine. Completely mine.”
She intentionally tightened herself around me, angry that I was insisting on conversation… she had no idea how close she was to making me give up my control.
“Sookie, just tell me that you understand that. Tell me you understand what ‘mine’ means.”
Her jaw clenched, leaning forward to grab my neck, panting against my mouth. “I know what it means. Now, tell me what it’s going to change.”
I couldn’t think of a single fucking thing. Even as she pulled herself to me, kissing, chewing my lip, doing obscene things with her tongue… I couldn’t think of one thing that bonding to her would change other than opening the connection between us…
When she pulled away, breathless and waiting for the answer I hadn’t been able to come up with. “Are you sure?”
She nodded, with wide eyes. “More sure than I have been in a long time.”
Her eyes never left mine as I let go of her to put my wrist to my mouth, still grinding, writhing…
As soon as she wrapped her lips around my wrist, my whole body began to pulse, throb, ache… there was no point in fighting to stay in control.
The moment I bit her neck, the world fell away.