As soon as I walked into the kitchen, Sookie stepped away from Gawain and started the faucet, moving to the side so I could wash what was left of Bethany from my hands.
She waited next to me with a towel and promptly began rinsing the gore from the stake I left on the counter when I was done…
“You heard Bethany’s thoughts?”
“Not really. I only saw the flash of Appius…”
“But you knew much more than the fact that she’d met with him at some point.”
“I was leading her… Spit-balling, brainstorming, throwing ideas out there to test her reaction to each scenario. Like a Human lie-detector measures heart rates.”
I nodded. “Impressive… Thank you.”
“No problem. Anytime… The donor Bethany brought is in the dining room. She’s AB-negative if you’re interested, but Gawain brought a sampler with him. A and O, positive and negative.”
When Richard’s eyes lit up, I offered, “Feed and send her off in Bethany’s car…” I hadn’t needed to repeat myself. Richard was in the dining room before I prompted Sookie, “Anything else?”
Sookie sighed, “I’ll need a minute to be sure Bethany wasn’t just throwing Francois under the bus. She could have been protecting someone else or lying about his involvement to settle an unrelated grudge.”
As much as I wanted to answer the door with a stake in my hand and simply add Francois to Bethany’s remains, I nodded. Sookie had a point.
She smiled and offered, “Thank you… Do you want me to delete the video of Bethany’s confession?”
She studied her feet for a moment before shrugging. “There’s a nanny-cam in the flowers on your desk. I forgot to mention it at first because I thought plans changed… then I turned it on when I showed Ian where to change, but I was distracted by Allecks’s call… I was going to use the video like game footage to make sure our timing was right… I just forgot to mention it.”
“You planted a camera in my office.”
She took a step towards me and lifted her chin. “With every intention of telling you it was there for the sole purpose of critiquing our abilities. I swear.”
Ian corroborated that she’d just mentioned telling me about the camera before her phone rang, but it was superfluous… There wasn’t a fiber of Sookie’s body reacting as though she was lying.
Gawain offered, “Don’t delete it. It might be needed later. Bethany could have children or allies who might feel like her execution was unwarranted.”
Sookie nodded calmly. “Eric can transfer the video to his computer later and erase it from my hard drive himself.”
Once I had a moment to think about it, I considered adding it to the journal’s files. There were other Mes who had been forced to take the throne; Bethany could be a problem that echoed through the different versions.
I was beginning to think it was a complete waste of time to be suspicious of anything Sookie did. Questioning the wisdom, maybe… but not her motives.
Sookie looked over her shoulder to ask Ian, “Bero, Francois, Simza, Johan, Atum and Bronya are left. Any hints about the next round of ETAs?”
He shook his head. “No, but I don’t think it’ll be long before Bero, Francois and Johan get here. They’ve been on the road long enough… and I’d be surprised if the other three are here before 3AM. You might want to get guest rooms ready for them.”
Sookie began shaking her head at the precise moment I did. She snorted, “No. The King doesn’t run a hostel. I arranged for a handful of rooms at the hotel in town for anyone who wants or needs them. They were summoned for a matter of state, not invited for a slumber party…”
Misty didn’t look up from the chess board to offer, “You’re still staying in the hotel, jerkwad… Eric, who’s going to replace Bethany and Franswaazzz?”
“Are you asking to be brought over so you can be appointed?”
“Nope… I don’t wanna be this short forever and you already said I could have someone do my dirty work for me.”
Edward chuckled, “You’d be a fierce one, you would. Gorgeous. Proud. Nice evil streak, balanced with common sense…”
She snorted, “I’ll still be awesome when I’m old enough to buy a plane ticket by myself… You should focus on how awesome I am already though. Check…”
“Fuck! Shouldn’t you be tired by now?”
She giggled and watched him study the board. “We’re night owls. We’d miss all the good stuff if we slept all night.”
Before Edward could take another opening to encourage Misty’s promising future as a Vampire, Sookie distracted me… She growled and stomped towards Ian to snatch his tie and drag him out of the kitchen…
Misty sang, “Ooooooooooh, he’s gonna get it…” then she gave me an impish grin and offered, “Creeper alert. As soon as I mentioned sleeping, his mind wandered to other bed-type stuff… The forks are in the drawer next to your hip.”
I tried to resist the temptation… but I wanted to see Sookie’s next move.
It was too much of a draw and taking a fork to Sookie was the perfect excuse.
Gawain had been curious enough to follow me outside to witness what happened when Sookie was incensed.
Sookie had Ian pinned against the side of his rented Audi with his tie twisted around her hand.
She was snarling, “This isn’t foreplay, Ian. I was just annoyed before, but now there’s a telepathic child here. Why the fuck can’t you get a grip?”
He snorted, “I CANNOT be the only guy who thinks about fucking you. You know you’re hot.”
Gawain whispered, “Especially when she’s angry.”
She growled, “Maybe, but I’ve got better things to worry about than fucking at the moment.”
He chuckled, “What could be more important than fucking? I think you need a good fuck. You’re too tense.”
“THAT’S the kind of shit I’m talking about, right there!” When she let go of his tie, she opened the car door for him. “Nice knowing you.”
She turned to walk away from him, but he grabbed her hips and pulled her back. “Am I going about this the wrong way? Are you a closet kitten? Do you need to be led?”
There wasn’t a single submissive thing about Sookie’s personality. The only time I’d seen anything close to surrender was when she suffered from grief.
I whispered, “The only way he isn’t a virgin is if he’s been paying for it.”
Gawain nodded and snorted, “Complete buffoon.”
Sookie snarled at Ian, “Do you realize how sad it is that even in your imagination you’re lame in bed?”
Gawain winced and sucked air past his teeth. I had to assume Sookie had been playing nice if he was that surprised by her wit.
Ian cooed, “Oh, come on… give me a hint. You’re not a freak are you?”
She rolled her eyes and huffed, “There’s a lot of things I’m ‘not’, asshole.”
“Like… you’re not going to let that rotten kid showing up tonight keep you from sneaking over to my hotel room later, right?”
Sookie hid her flash of anger and disgust well enough… Insulting one of her children while proposing a tryst… Misty was right… Ian was going to get it…
Sookie hummed, letting a little smirk show at the corner of her mouth before she reached up, grabbed his head, and folded herself over to fling him onto the ground at her feet.
It was spectacular.
She kicked his side and loomed over him to hiss, “I’m NOT in the mood for your shit! NOT amused, NOT impressed, NOT interested… and NOT in your league.”
She screwed her heel into the ground as she spun around and stomped towards the door and was annoyed Gawain and I were in her way.
She huffed, “Faeries are a pain in the ass. That’s not news.”
Truer words might have never been spoken… But I was coming to terms with the fact that some were more tolerable than others…
“Where do I file a grievance?”
She sighed, “What am I guilty of now?”
I held up the fork. “Partiality… I made one suggestion and…”
She snatched the fork from my hand and laughed, “I’m not going to stab him to make you feel better, you big baby!”
Gawain raised an eyebrow. “You let her stab you?”
What? Calling me a big baby wasn’t worth mentioning?
Sookie answered, “He soooooo had it coming. He just didn’t think I had the guts to do anything… And if there’s any inequity Eric got let off light. Ian’s going to feel that for days. Eric’s thigh was healed before he tossed the fork onto the table.”
“Are you threatening to stab me again?”
She narrowed her eyes and stepped close enough for her chest to touch mine. “I still owe you one for the way you egged him on.”
I was already chuckling when Gawain asked, “What did he do?”
Sookie’s eyes never left mine as she snarled, “Ian was already being a pervert when this giant child teased him with details of what I look like naked.” In spite of her posture, she wasn’t really angry.
I leaned over, running out my fangs to return her faked anger. “You’re quite lucky I didn’t mention the fact that You have starred in a few videos…” There were three of them and I’d only watched the first and last minute of each one to see if Liz had been in them. I still wanted to know why the fuck other versions of Us included their escapades with the journal information.
She gasped and covered my mouth again. “He can hear you!”
Gawain chuckled, “I’m going to need the names of those movies.”
Sookie growled, “They’re home movies… Who takes over the Kingdom when I kill My costar?”
I pointed at Gawain and offered, “Why else would he be so protective of me?”
She hummed and offered, “I’d hate to piss him off… Maybe I’ll just paint your nails while you’re dead for the day… do up your face like a geisha… crazy glue your dick into your happy trail…”
Gawain chuckled that he was staying here for the day as he left my side to approach Ian… He helped the ‘letch’ up and escorted him back to his car to begin glamouring him.
“Sookie’s offense notwithstanding, I’d like to express gratitude on behalf of King Northman for your services here tonight. You won’t remember the details of anything you witnessed, but you provided an immensely valuable service to this Kingdom. Be assured, you’ll be contacted by our allies as you’ll be enthusiastically referenced. Thank you.”
Ian offered a dazed nod. “You’re welcome.”
Ian was just pulling away when Gawain joined us. Sookie caught his arm and giggled, “You think when you guys are done with your donors, you could send them Ian’s way? If you have your sloppy seconds record their party, you’ve got leverage if he wants to be difficult about helping in the future.”
“Why wouldn’t he post it online for bragging rights?”
Sookie’s evil grin made an appearance again. “Because someone has his own agenda. He spies for huge corporations because he’s working towards leverage of his own. Campaign contributions. Guess who wants to be President one day?”
Perfect. Absurd… but fabulous for my purposes.
Gawain chuckled. “And he doesn’t just want to fuck you… He wants a stunning First Lady with a working class background and upper-class social graces.”
Sookie winked at him. “My amicable divorce and adorable children are selling points too.”
I added, “Don’t forget the Were vote… The letch might actually be on to something.”
Gawain slipped his arm around her waist and began escorting her towards the door. “It’s settled then. I’ll marry you to force him to shop elsewhere.” No.
That might have been amusing if I could be sure they hadn’t been flirting with each other the entire time I’d been working.
She laughed, “Would you? That would be awesome. What would my new married name be?”
“I’ve been using the name Green for a while.”
“Sookie Green, huh?” No. “The children would have to approve, of course.”
“I’ll do what I can to avoid being gelded.”
As we walked into the kitchen, he asked, “And where will we honeymoon?”
Misty had been in the process of moving her rook, but she froze as Sookie suggested, “Somewhere secluded. That’s all the spoiling this girl needs.”
Gawain nodded. “Done.”
As though Misty could read my mind, she barked, “NOT. FUNNY.”
While Sookie seemed to be telepathically explaining the ‘joke’ to Misty, the girl shook her head.
“Still. Not. Funny. Stop it. You’re Eric’s.” Good girl. It was a shame she didn’t need a pony.
After another long moment of glaring, Misty shoved her chair away from the table and stormed out of the kitchen, pounding her feet on each step and slamming the door to her room… not once, but three times to get her point across.
Sookie sighed in my direction and held up the fork. “I guess you’re not interfering because I have flatware, huh?”
“Something like that.”
She tossed the fork into the sink and went after Misty, grumbling she was thankful Jenny and Lindy weren’t here to be upset by the ‘joke’.
“What the fuck was that about?”
Gawain looked like he was completely oblivious in spite of mentions of sex tapes and Sookie having my blood. Her smell alone prompted Mee and Connelly to ‘approve’ of my pet.
I raised an eyebrow at him. “Go feed so the blut huren can compromise Cohen. I’ll be in my office.”
I turned to leave, but he followed me. “It was a joke. What the fuck is the problem?”
“Sookie is Mine.” If their joke snowballed, skipping to see Pam would be jeopardized. If other Mes could fall for Sookies… Gawain wouldn’t be immune to her either.
“Liz was your child. We fucked. I never interfered in that relationship either… Is that it? Is Sookie attracted to me and it’s making you think about Liz because she was too?”
Not the way he meant it.
“It’s complicated. Go deal with the donors.”
“She told me she’s your friend, your telepath… Is there more?”
“Do you have feelings for her?”
“I can see why you would… There’s a lot of Liz in her personality, the girl too… That’s it, isn’t it?”
“Go feed while you can. Sookie isn’t on the menu.”
He raised an eyebrow and shook his head slowly. “You fed from her. She’s part Fae and you fed from her… Lovely. Because losing Liz didn’t push you close enough to the brink of madness…”
That was it.
All I could take.
I grabbed him and shoved him into the wall, pinning him and hissing, “Stop talking about her!”
He didn’t fight back, but he showed his fangs. “Liz or Sookie?”
“Tell me it’s unrelated! Beautiful. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Sassy. Bright. Conniving. Don’t think I didn’t notice the pink roses and the designer shoes! Is it that you have a type… or are you just keeping Sookie because she reminds you of Liz? Are you going to bring Sookie over and groom her to be more like Liz? A second chance?”
I don’t know why I didn’t break his jaw to make him shut the fuck up for a moment, but it seemed like he could keep going…
While he was blaringly wrong about my reasons to keep Sookie, he might have been right about what I (or at least other Mes) saw in Sookie… The personality comparison was spot on.
“This isn’t any of your…”
Before I could finish, Sookie was trying to wedge herself between us.
As she struggled, she shouted, “It doesn’t matter because I’m Eric’s. End of story… Eric… Chill out.”
She managed to lodge herself into the gap between me and Gawain and put her hands on my face.
“Stop. Calm down. It’s reasonable for him to think this is off. C’mon. Let him go.”
I growled, “Stay out of this.”
“Talking about me started this. I might as well have been pinned between you all along. I’m not going anywhere… Y’all have been friends for centuries. He loves you like a brother and the only thing making him question you right now is that everything about our relationship points to you going off the deep end… Ease up. If you hurt either one of us, you’ll regret it. I know you will.” Sookie pushed my arms as though she could move me.
“Of course, but we clearly need to discuss boundaries… Please let him go. Y’all are going to hurt each other.”
As soon as I released his shirt, Sookie pushed against me, stepping forward, leading me to back up to put space between us.
She didn’t look back to ask, “Gawain, could you give us a minute?”
He stared at the back of her head. “You want me to leave you with him? He’s near bloodlust.”
“He’s near bloodlust because you were out of line. He isn’t pissed at me. Go on. I’ll be fine.”
Like we were dancing, she moved us back towards my office, ignoring that he hadn’t budged yet.
Sookie’s eyes didn’t leave mine… her hands didn’t leave my wrists until she let go to close the office door.
She immediately put her hands on my chest. “You can’t do this. He’s the best friend you have. He was the only person you trusted before Liz, and he’s been there for you in spite of what you’ve been like since you lost her…”
The tone she was using was soft… like she was trying to sooth a traumatized child.
She shook her head slowly to argue. “You enjoy my blood and my scent. You’re just beginning to trust me and appreciate that I’m willing to help you. You called me your friend and I almost cried when I realized you meant it… The only thing between me and Gawain, as far as he’s concerned, is our clothes…”
“He should know better. You smell like me. I mentioned videos… we implied…”
“Stop… You’re my priority. The kids are the only things more important to me than helping you. Stop being scared I’m going to change my mind.”
“I’m not scared.”
She rolled her eyes and huffed, “I’d call you a liar if I thought it would make a difference…” She took my hand and began to lift it. “C’mon. Third time’s the charm, right? You’ll stop worrying that I’m going to try to weasel my way out of the promise I made.”
“Complete the bond? Now?”
“If it’ll give you some sense of security, yeah. I mean, when has there ever been a time when you were so close to taking his head off?” Never… More to the point, I couldn’t remember a time when we’d had a real disagreement.
“He accused me of trying to replace Liz with you.”
She stepped closer and sighed, “He’s upset because he knows she’s irreplaceable, sweetie. Without factoring in the skips, everything adds up to you snapping. I’ll deal with him in a little bit… but eventually you’re going to have to apologize for going after him when explaining could have prevented your argument.”
She shook her head. “You can’t do that. He’s grandfathered in because you’ve been friends for so much longer than you’ve been King… He wanted to be wrong. He was practically begging you to set him straight. He wasn’t angry, Eric. He was scared.”
“Worried about my mental state? Not posturing over you?”
She shook her head again. “No. He’s attracted to me, but that was just the first pebble in the landslide. This is all you.”
If I couldn’t feel how sincere she was…
If she hadn’t proven how accurately she could read a Vampire’s moods and motivations…
I didn’t have a rational argument… fuck, I didn’t even have a weak one.
I lifted my wrist to bite it and put it to her mouth… She stood there, looking up at me… one hand on the back of mine, the other was still on my chest.
With every pull, it was as though she was feeding her composure to me, forcing me to calm down enough to realize she’d been right… I’d overreacted.
She thumbed my blood away from her lips once my wound healed and asked, “Better?”
Oddly… yes. I was basking in the sense of security she’d offered.
When I nodded, she stretched up to hug my neck and cooed, “Good… Try to keep in mind that Gawain’s going to be bitter that you talked to me. He’ll have the right. I’m a stranger.”
“You’re not a stranger. We have sex tapes to prove it.”
She snorted and swatted my arm. “You know what I mean… I’m going to go send the donors on their way, get things set up for the next round of Lords, and hopefully have the time I need to talk Gawain down from his ledge. Are you going to chill out in here for a while?”
I nodded. “I think that’s best.”
When she let go of me, she kissed my cheek… I caught her before she could step away. “Are you going to tell Gawain… everything?”
She nodded. “He’s a big boy. I’m sure he can handle it. Besides, Gawain, Edward and Richard would be the logical points of contact for other versions of Us since we don’t have a Pam.”
“I suppose you’re right, but Gawain could just think we’re both insane.”
She tilted her head from side to side and offered, “He might be right… We just forced a bond in the hopes of accomplishing something that most versions would stop if They could.”
I listened as Sookie climbed the stairs again, then return to the first floor. She believably apologized to the blut huren she addressed as ‘ladies’ for the change of plans, and told them they’d be taken to a nearby hotel… She waited for them to complain about wasting their time before offering them €1000 each to show her brother a good time while she was ‘stuck at work dealing with Vampire bullshit’.
If there isn’t video, it didn’t happen.
I was already laughing as quietly as possible when Sookie gave them a message for Ian. “Tell him I’m sorry and say you’re my version of a peace offering.”
The promise of cash was enough that four different voices asked for details.
And I couldn’t help but be amused when Sookie ordered Gawain to put his coat on so he could drive them to the hotel… and make arrangements with the concierge for them to be compensated.
He growled that he still wanted answers on his way out.
Edward and Richard continued the game Misty had abandoned while Sookie worked, moving back and forth between the kitchen and dining room… Once she felt those chores were complete, she found ‘busy work’ downstairs. If I had to guess, she was preparing the other windowless rooms for Gawain and the boys.
If she continued at the rate she was going, she was going to fret and toil until Saskia was out of a job.
It had been nearly half an hour when she climbed the stairs and offered, “Batter up,” on her way past my office.
She greeted Bero and escorted him to the parlor, then ushered his offering to the dining room… And she was on her way back to Bero when Johan arrived, prompting another journey to the opposite corner of the castle…
She tapped on the door to my office and waited for me to acknowledge her… she was grinning when she opened the door.
“Majesty, Lord Bero of District Friesland to see you. Lord Johan…”
Bero interrupted, “He heard you greet us, girl. Be gone.”
“Thank you, Sookie.”
“Yes Majesty… Is there anything you need?” I’m sure she only asked to annoy Bero.
“As a matter of fact, since it’s past midnight, feel free to change into something more comfortable. I’m sure your pumps are due for scheduled maintenance.”
She giggled, “Yes sir. I’ve definitely put some miles on them tonight. Call if you need anything.”
“Actually, once you’re comfortable, join us. Feel free to bring your fork with you. If Bero speaks to you like that again, you’re welcome to stab him.”
Sookie bit her lip and quickly backed out of my office while Bero tried (and failed) to backpedal. “I thought she was just a servant.”
“Her services make her my ally. Her loyalty makes her my friend. You’ll show her some courtesy because I prefer her company to yours and you’re easily replaced. Sit.” As rural as his District was, he had less than a hundred thralls. He was the glorified manager of a retirement community.
His nostrils flared as he approached the chair across from me carefully…
Sookie messaged, “He was fine until just now. How am I supposed to IM you if I’m in the room with you?”
I replied, “You fired Ian. Other ideas?”
Bero stared anxiously while I waited for Sookie to reply.
“Nope. BRB. He barely had a reaction to B’s gunk. So other than being rude as hell, I think he’s good.”
“Be Right Back. He’s getting antsy now. Are you ignoring him?”
She replied, “LOL,” but I could hear as much.
Since I was waiting for Sookie to join us, I referred back to the file she’d made about Alexei…
“There have been nine Der Butzemann attacks in your district…”
Bero corrected, “Officially, yes… There were five more. Decades ago. The nine recent victims were within a few months. It was a struggle to suppress Jack the Ripper connections.”
“Because they were in rapid succession and then suddenly stopped…”
“Precisely. Nevermind the stark contrast. We’d only just revealed ourselves to live forever. Of course it had to be a Vampire in White Chapel…”
I snorted, “But it was a Vampire in Friesland…”
Sookie tapped on the door just before entering… Plaid flannel shirt over a snug T-shirt and a pair of jeans, laptop tucked under her arm… and nearly silent shoes that looked a bit like ballet slippers.
She offered, “And Vampires were in on the cover-up in White Chapel.”
“Were they? I was in St. Petersburg at the time so I wasn’t in the loop.”
She nodded and settled on one of the containers of Alexei’s belongings. “What happens when Weres have mommy issues for a thousand, please Alex… The girls told Tyson about the tours we’d taken while we visited. He gave us a personal tour of White Chapel, took us to the Tower of London through the Traitor’s Gate, and we detoured down Pudding Lane to see where the London Fire started on our way back to our hotel…”
“You didn’t tell me you know Tyson.” Or that the girls were viral curiosities. He was less inclined to entertain Humans than I was.
“Book signing. The girls love showing off the pictures if you want to see them… Since you thought ‘fuckwitz’ was so funny, you might appreciate pictures of Fucking Lamb Palace and the Royal Meows. What Misty does to poor Junior.”
“Is he that gullible?”
She nodded. “That’s the nice way to put it… So, District Friesland had nine victims?”
Fuck. I preferred the other conversation…
I sent a message to Sookie, “I hate repeating myself. Next time we’ll meet them all at once.”
She sent a frown followed by, “Sorry. Does it make you feel better to know you probably won’t have to do this shit anytime soon?”
Just as I sent, “Yes,” Sookie sent an invitation to play chess via the messenger we’d been using.
After five games and a lot of IMed name calling on Sookie’s part, Bero had all of the information he needed and Sookie had managed to clear him of everything but having ‘a case of red-ass’ because he could tell I wasn’t focused on our meeting… Then again, that wasn’t really a secret. After all, Sookie kicked my leg when I teased her that she should get chess lessons from Misty.
Sookie left her laptop on the corner of my desk when she went to escort the donor to me… Not only had she been monitoring Bero and giving me a run for my money, but she was shopping as well. She had windows open for a self-propelled vacuum, San Francisco Giants memorabilia, and a grill that seemed large enough to cook a small car.
I fed from yet another donor whose blood was annoyingly bland… Sookie escorted Bero and the donor out and offered Johan’s donor to Edward… and we began yet another meeting… At least Johan had a modicum of etiquette.
As far as Johan and Bero knew, Sookie was helping me chronicle Alexei’s fuckery before I contacted the Human authorities and other Kingdoms… but the fact is, none of my Lords had done anymore than substantiate the research Sookie had already done.
I only waited in my office until I heard Sookie open the front door for Johan and his offering before going to the kitchen to wait for her.
Edward and Richard were joking about how much they enjoyed my new system, since they were both pleasantly pink from AB-negative donors, when Sookie joined us and pinched my side for ‘getting her’ with Alekhine’s Gun.
“You asked for it. You invited me to play… How is Misty?”
“You tell me. She locked up… Little turd’s refusing to talk to me and hiding in your mind so I can’t even creep into her thoughts.”
She narrowed her eyes when I chuckled. “What? You act as though her pertinaciousness is a genetic fluke.”
She snorted, “Just wait until she uses it against you…”
“Should I go talk to her?”
“I think we should let her sulk. She’s missing out on the chance to play with Edward and Richard and she doesn’t even know that we’ve straightened out what pissed her off to begin with… Unless you want to go upstairs and ask her who you should replace Francois and Bethany with.”
“Is that why she asked earlier? She has an opinion?”
She nodded. “Doesn’t she always have an opinion? The girls fell asleep last night debating who you should appoint if your Lords can’t be trusted.”
Before I could ask, knowing that they had information from the journal to help their debate, Edward blurted, “THIS I have to hear… That little strategist…”
Sookie sighed and pushed herself up to sit on the counter. “If you think she’s bad, you should see Lindy’s fantasy baseball team. My brothers call her before they place bets… Ummm, I think their top four picks were Isabel Beaumont, Teague Sheehan, Tilda McAvoy, and our Selma, but they know she wouldn’t be interested.”
I didn’t know who Isabel was, but there wasn’t an immediate reason to exclude the others.
“What was their thinking?”
“Isabel is the Sheriff of Shreveport. She has patience for Humans. They think she’d do best in a District with strained relations.”
“Somewhere like Bremen, yes?”
Sookie smirked and shook her head. “There will be no dealing with them.”
I shrugged. “What about Teague?”
“Teague’s got the same problem you and Gawain had… He basically backpacked through the States because just hearing he was in town made everyone twitch and he’d barely been in Bern for a week before Clovis optioned him as a Knight again. He can’t really go anywhere without being put into play. He kicks ass and takes names so he’s their pick for a District with some degree of Vampire fuckery.”
Edward snorted, “You mean like Brussels?”
The girls were two for two.
Sookie rolled her eyes. “Yeah… We met Tilda when we were in London last summer. She isn’t happy with her situation. Spitzbergan isn’t the problem as much as when she has to come south for Sun Season. Tyson doesn’t give her a problem, but… going from HBIC to nothing every six months is wearing thin.”
“Head Bitch In Charge.”
Three for three.
“Out of curiosity, what made them think Selma would be successful as a Lord?”
Sookie cringed, making me realize that skipping had a hand in their theory. “Well, she’s been vetted before. She’s considered being appointed as a Sheriff in the States and… a Lordship or two.”
Well put, considering I’d accidentally put her on the spot.
“Why are they sure she wouldn’t be interested?”
“I’m actually dying to call her to straighten it all out now that we know Francois is telling everyone that you sacrificed Liz for the throne. She said there was a time when she trusted you, but if something happened while I was here, I should call Connelly or Willem for help. I could tell there was more to it, so I’m sure she’s heard the bullshit and she’s just being cautious.”
Edward offered, “It’s a shame you don’t need more Lords, Eric. They all sound like good choices.”
I nodded. “Teague would be superfluous as a Lord, but I’ll contact him to offer the invitation… He might prefer the idea of being an occasional enforcer to serving in an official capacity.”
“Not that Gawain needs any backup, but he can’t be in two places at once… What’s taking him so long?”
Sookie offered, “He’s here, just outside. Judging by his mood, I’ll bet he’s doing a background check on me.”
I growled. I knew he wasn’t going to find anything for me to worry about, but I still growled. “I know how to contact Tilda and Selma. Any ideas of how to contact this Isabel Beaumont?”
She studied the ceiling for a moment before her eyes lit up. “How about a little vacation? We could go home for a visit and you could come along to vet her.”
“She’s the Sheriff of the Area you’re from?”
Sookie nodded. “Yeah. Bon Temps is out in the country. I bet Daddy would love to meet you…”
She giggled, “Were/Vampire relations are a bit strained in the States…”
Edward snorted, “Nice understatement. We called them La Luna Nostra in New York.”
Sookie shook her head. “Yeah well, the whole Fur versus Fang thing isn’t that bad where I’m from. Tense, uncooperative, but not really blood-sport… Calvin won’t be a jerk though. We can stay at our little flophouse for a few nights and be back before the mice find out the cat’s away.”
She nodded. “When Aunt Linda passed, Daddy paid off her place so we’d have somewhere to stay when we visit. Jason and Lauren use it when they visit from California. Middle of nowhere. No neighbors.”
I shrugged. “Why not?”
She squeaked, “Really?”
“I should meet her before I contact the others. Work with Dinh in the morning. He should be able to arrange a flight for tomorrow night.”
“You’re the boss…”
Richard barked, “If you don’t bring him back, we’ll hunt you down! We have friends in the States! We’ll find you!”
Sookie was laughing a promise to bring me back even if she had to put me in a box while I was dead for the day when she stopped abruptly…
She covered her face and groaned into her hands. Frustration. Confusion…
She growled, “We have company… Apparently Allecks was too worried… he talked to her, but… he’s still too rattled to stay in Charleroi tonight.”