I Love You Because
‘Just tell me if he doesn’t approve of Pam being with a Faerie…’
A fucking Faerie.
Pam was considering bringing over a Faerie.
Bonded to a fucking Faerie.
I had to wonder if Pam listened to a single fucking word I’d ever said about the Fae.
Sookie rolled her eyes and dropped her phone into the coffee pot full of water.
I fumed and watched Sookie unbutton her jacket to toss it to the floor.
While she rifled through the refrigerator, she growled that she should have known better than to answer her phone… her brother should have known better than to call her… Pam was going to go on an ass-kicking spree…
She turned around with nothing more than a lemon in her hand… She held it over the sink and dug her fingernails into it to rip it apart, letting enough lemon juice run along her arms to her elbows to kill several Fae. “Part Faerie. Not full-blooded. We didn’t even know until de Castro sent his minions after us.” At least they weren’t full-blooded…
I hissed, “The fact that my child is bonded to a fucking Faerie is supposed to cause me less alarm because he’s a hybrid?”
As soon as I spoke, I reconsidered… If nothing else, the conversations I’d had with Sookie contradicted everything I’d seen of the Fae. The only thing she hadn’t been forthcoming about (that I knew of), was the ‘secret’. And I’d been promised disclosure.
If Sookie had anything to hide, it was a foolish move to place me in the room directly across from hers.
And I could be sure Felix would have investigated Hadley before he allowed his only son to marry her… If Jupiter had half the initiative his father did, he would have investigated the Stackhouses before allowing Pam to take them as partners…
Sookie narrowed her eyes and practically hissed, “Wherever our Faerie relative is perched in our family tree, it’s so far back we have no clue who it is. We have no connections to our notoriously megalomaniacal, pointy-eared kin… Vainglorious assholes who hate Vampires with every glittery fiber of their self righteous bodies… yet somehow, one of them loves a Vampire enough to be worried about causing friction between her and her Maker… and another spent a fair amount of time trying to find a way to fix the whole in Pam’s heart that her Maker put there by hiding things from her…” That burned. “Now if you’ll excuse me, your Majesty, I have work to do.”
Sookie stomped towards the door furiously, drumming her bare heels into the granite floor, thinking she’d get away with her insolence.
I blocked her path and asked, “Where do you think you’re going? You’re too consumed by your tantrum to let me ask what the difference is between a Fae and a hybrid.”
“We don’t know. We know about their reputation and their vulnerabilities. My Aunt is sensitive to citric acid, but she had to have a supernatural doctor tell her it was connected to being part Faerie. We’ve gotten as far as narrowing it down to our grandfather who died before I was born…”
“How did he die?”
She rolled her eyes to push the point that I was annoying her. “He collapsed during a hunting trip. Heart attack. No iron. No lemon.”
“If you have no weaknesses, what attributes do you have?”
“We have to mask our scents when we’re around Vampires because we’re like chocolates to spinsters. We all have passive abilities.”
“Reise?” I corrected myself before Sookie could ask. “Popping.”
“No… I’m going to go. Pam’s coming back to herself.”
When she walked past me, I offered, “I didn’t aim to offend you…”
She mumbled, “Of course not. You slipped… just like any other racist I’ve ever met.” Being accused of being a racist might have been the most unique insult directed at me.
I blocked her path again. “You used the words vainglorious and megalomaniacal… You know their reputation. Pam knows my history with them. That’s why Pam wanted to be the one to tell me, yes?” I couldn’t believe I was defending myself to a Hu- a Fae- whatever the fuck Sookie was.
“Silly me. I thought since we’d had some face-time, you wouldn’t jump straight to looking like you stepped in shit…” She turned her head to call over her shoulder. “I’m sorry, hon. He knows. Jason didn’t realize I was still here when he mentioned it over the phone. I’m going to try to calm my brother down… Okay?”
The only thing Pam said was, “Thank you.”
Pam gave a puzzled look to Sookie’s discarded jacket as she stepped over it, but when she noticed the strange combination of items in the sink, she asked, “What’s this?”
“Sookie was in the process of warming blood for us when Jason called. She drowned her phone before proving she wasn’t full-blooded Faerie by eviscerating a lemon with her bare hands.”
Pam smirked as she fished out Sookie’s phone, removed the back panel to salvage the memory and SIM cards, and tossed the phone into the bin. “She’s as hard on electronics as you ever were. This has to be her tenth phone since I met her. She usually throws things…” She turned away to place the coffee pot on the hotplate… then collect Sookie’s Jacket… then shove the victimized lemon into the garbage disposal…
She was uncomfortable… and it was maddening that I was the reason.
“Are you nervous because of your bond with Jason, or because you’re bracing yourself for my reaction to the news you’re considering bringing over a Faerie?”
She huffed, “That’s a loaded question. Jason isn’t nervous. He’s furious. He hates making mistakes… I’m… I’m… I don’t know what I am.” That made two of us.
“I thought Sookie was yours.”
“Last night, when I left here… The bulk of your interactions were with her. You played with her hair and were concerned about her dealings with the Dallas sect. I thought she was yours.”
“I tried. She’s stunning… What corrected you?”
“She did… She was restless enough to go downstairs for a swim. I went with her. We talked… We dissected the circumstances that misled me and she refused to explain how she noticed your presence in the hotel. She told me you wanted to explain.”
Pam nodded. “I wasn’t going to hide it from you. Last night was just so bizarre…”
I nodded as I interrupted. “It was. I surprised you with a visit… I wondered why you wouldn’t tell me over the phone, but I would have worried until I could see the situation for myself. The Stackhouses’ ancestry is news best delivered in person. There was a time, before you were born, Daemons were taboo bedfellows.”
She let out a relieved sigh. “Trusting anyone nowadays is a risk… Realizing that anyone could fuck you over regardless of breed will be biggest discovery since silk… You aren’t disappointed I kept it from you?”
“Pam, I can’t remember the last time you did anything to disappoint me… Jason will be lucky to have you as his Maker if that’s what you choose. Where you lack in patience, you compensate in compassion. You’ll excel as a Maker just as you do in everything else you put your mind to…” When her eyes rimmed with blood (as Sookie promised), I continued, “I am upset by something significant being kept from me though…”
She shook her head. “I’m sorry… My relationship with Jason happened quickly. So fast that I didn’t have the chance to mention a ‘new pet’ before I loved him too much to bear the idea of you making fun of him…”
“Not that… Why didn’t you just tell me you thought I abandoned you to pursue goals of becoming a King?”
“I’ll. Kill. Her!”
I chuckled, “She’s probably updating her will as we speak… I hated leaving you here. I left with the intention of stretching my legs. I only offered to endorse you as my replacement because you have always hated relocating. I knew you’d do well as Sheriff… Do you want to hear the ridiculous part?”
“I don’t know. Do I?”
I shrugged. “I thought you accepted the post as an exit strategy because you never had an excuse to leave my side before.”
She sputtered, “Never! I thought I’d been holding you back!”
“Which is why you should thank Sookie before you kill her… I understand your conversations with Klaasje have enflamed the situation. The way she speaks about me makes you feel replaced, yes?”
“Seriously, Eric, Sookie is on the books as mine. I’m going to kick her ass. Fucking tattletale.”
I ignored her threat. “Does it change your perspective to know Klaasje considers me her adopted Maker because I refused to end her? Halfdan was her Maker. He wanted me to end her along with nearly half of the Northern Empire and French Lords. His plan was to seize Clovis’s throne and betray his own child by having a stranger end her after she spent 800 years at his side… Klaasje knows I miss you because of my visits. I’m sure she’s assumed you don’t want to be with me… like I have.”
“Fuck! Do you know how many ways I’ve fanaticized ending that bitch. I thought she was… Sookie called it ‘new wife delusions’. The ‘he’s mine now’ behavior. I actually feel sorry for her now.”
“Sookie told me as much. She also yelled ‘fuck a duck’ at one point.”
“Yeah. I don’t know where that saying came from. I blame Corbett. Some of the things that come out of his mouth could give me nightmares. What in particular made her say ‘fuck a duck’?”
“I told her how I came to be King…”
“You told her?”
“In essence. I hadn’t told you the details because I didn’t want you to feel obliged to return to me if you didn’t want to… Halfdan had Appius ended and threatened to end you after my initial refusal. ‘Fuck a duck’ was her reaction to hearing keeping you safe is how I became King…”
I couldn’t help but think of the way Sookie used the word ‘buckets’ to predict Pam’s reaction. Thanks to that scrap of information, there was already a steady stream of tears flowing from her eyes. My only option was to keep going in the hopes that the details would cause a different range of emotions.
“Halfdan didn’t take into account I had options. I went to Clovis to expose the plot. I was given a list of Lords Halfdan wanted executed. Northern Lords that objected to Halfdan’s goals of annexing France, and the French Lords who wouldn’t betray Clovis. I abducted the traitors on both sides and ended them at the estates of the loyalists to give the appearance that I was complying with my orders. It gave the loyalists the opportunity to go into hiding. Clovis didn’t want The Northern Empire anymore than I did, but I was the one who stood to lose something if I was unsuccessful. Halfdan was so prideful, I ended him in front of his subjects, publically exposed his plans… Clovis has been an ally ever since… he’s laughed at me for years because I’m still trying to convince my Lords they want the throne. In fact, on this anniversary, the prick sent potted shamrocks for luck. Last year was a bag of coins… the year before was a box of crickets…” He thought he was funny.
She stammered, “For… For me!? You got stuck being King… FOR ME!?”
“As old as he was, he didn’t have the sense to have Appius command me to complete the job. The fool threatened you instead. I’ll find my way out from under the throne eventually.”
“You did it…”
I nodded. “Yes. I wasn’t going to let you be ended. As far away as I was I couldn’t have gotten to you in time to keep you from being hurt. You were being watched.”
She wailed, “I know! I thought you… I thought you were checking up on me to make sure I wasn’t making you look bad. You’d only been gone for a couple of months. I was making it easy for the asshole.” Fuck a duck. That fit. Fuck a duck. Thinking I was having her followed most likely planted seeds of doubt. I should have just explained years ago. Of all the fucking regrets to have…
I walked around the counter and put my hands on her shoulders. “In all the times I have called, how many times have I asked you about business? I have asked about how you adjusted. I have asked about how you’ve filled your private time… I haven’t asked about the businesses or the politics because you are the only thing I’ve ever had any faith in. I didn’t check up on you because you have always been bright, capable and diligent. You haven’t needed me in centuries…”
She crashed into my chest to wrap her arms around me and sputtered, “I’ve needed you since you left! I didn’t want to stay in this shithole.”
“Your shithole. Next time you go on walkabout, I’m going with you.”
“What about Jason?”
“He’d come with me, if he’s welcome.”
“He’d leave his family?”
She finally stopped clinging to me to step back. She nodded as she wiped away her tears. “He said he’d ping pong back and forth for visits.”
She nodded and turned to the sink to rinse her face. “He was torn because I don’t plan to renew my contract… His father told him that it would be like when he went to college… ‘hugs waiting at the airport’ for both of us.”
“Until he comes home with fangs.”
“Actually, he told his family he’s considering it. Jason’s mom made me promise to bring him home to do it… She wants him to have one last homemade meal. If something unforeseen happens, I’m to get word to them so they can at least be there when he rises.” That wasn’t just unbelievable… that was unfuckingheard of.
“Tell me you’re joking.”
She shook her head. “No. The whole family took me by surprise. They’re so accepting… I can almost forget I’m a Vampire at times… I should call to check on Jason now that I’m done crying all over you. Sorry.”
I shook my head. “Sookie warned me. I wore a cheap shirt.”
Pam bit her lip and mumbled, “I’m going to kill her.”
I kissed her forehead and chuckled, “Give me enough time to thank her for bringing our problem to my attention first… How long would you have let yourself wonder?”
Her eyes rimmed again… she avoided answering me by going to her room to find her phone.
She was pouring our bloods into mugs when the phone rang.
“Hey sister… did you call me or Jas first?” Brandon… and judging by the background noise he was in the casino.
“You… Sookie dumped her phone in the sink when Jason slipped… I going to assume she broke his to keep him from making another mistake.”
“Right. She told me. Jason’s ended up in the toilet… I was supposed to babysit because Sookie told me you and ‘the Maker’ had big talking to do, but he only made it as far as the safe to get his piece before he flipped his shit. Paranoia isn’t good for my brother.”
She deadpanned, “It’s a shame he isn’t as unflappable as you.”
“I flap. You’ve seen it. Want to see it again?”
She snorted, “Not in a million years… What’s going on down there?”
“Sookie’s sitting on him… It’s not pretty, but Bubba and Gran are on the way up there. Want me to go up too?”
“No… Just tell him to settle down. Everything is aces.”
“Wait one…” Pam cringed as she sipped from her cup of what I thought was a clean donation. Brandon finally asked, “Aces how?” The background noise hadn’t changed or been muted… if Jason and Sookie were both without a phone… what the fuck?
“Aces, everything. We’re fine. Tell him to stop blocking me. When I find him, we don’t have anything to talk about.” Blocking her? He could block their bond?
Pam set her cup on the bar in front of me after another disappointed look. I sipped it, assuming she wanted me test it for some reason… it tasted fine…
While we waited for Brandon’s answer, she shook her head and whispered, “It’s not the flavor. You have it…”
Brandon offered, “Your pet’s feelings should be returning to you momentarily, ma’am… Sookie says the Maker needs to see the River. He’s so confused right now, I’m picking up on it with a packed house. Anything else?”
“No. I’ll take care of that now. Thanks Brandon.”
“I have a view of the River from my room… Flop, Turn, River? She was letting you know there’s something I still don’t know, yes?”
Pam slid her phone across the counter and blurted, “Telepaths.”
“The Stackhouses are telepaths?”
“Sookie and Brandon are. Jason and Hadley are empaths. Corbett is some sort of harbinger. Sookie stayed downstairs late last night because Corbett had one of his feelings. I called him to tell him you were my visitor before I died for the day… Linda can envision scattered images from the past… That bitch pegged me on every name I’ve ever used the night I met her.”
“Sookie knew to be on the lookout for a ‘visitor’ of some sort and heard my alias…” And promptly began reading my mind for hints as to why I was there. It wouldn’t have taken a moment for her to see or hear that I was thinking of Pam. Fuck… which means she probably had a sense of what I didn’t say before she called me a ‘racist’. Fuck.
Pam nodded. “Jason’s empathy is a bit of a complication. When he’s overwhelmed, he can project his moods unintentionally. He’s calming down right now, but… when I first rose, I thought he was in real trouble.”
“Did you assign Sookie to monitor me?”
“God no! That little busy body… Wait. She can’t hear Vampires’ minds if that’s what you’re concerned about. Brandon either. They can read Vampires’ moods well enough to walk out of de Castro’s casino with 14 million of his money, but our exact thoughts are a mystery to them. Daemons are similar.”
“She sensed you in the elevator on your way upstairs last night and earlier, she opened the door before I could knock…”
“Last night, Brandon ordered their dinner without asking what everyone wanted… and then he called one of the pit bosses to let them know about the blackballed Craps player. Sookie and Brandon monitor the floor of the casino from up here.”
Pam nodded. “Any questions about my partnership with Faeries? I considered simply hiring them, but I offered the partnership so they’d be less likely to fuck up the bottom line. They all but relieved me of the hotel and casino responsibilities I had and this place hasn’t ever run more smoothly. Did you see there isn’t any available space on the mezzanine? And Sookie monitors my Sheriff related meetings for me… she sends me a text when I’m being lied to.”
“If anyone discovered…”
“We’re as careful as we can be. I’d have been a fool to ignore the chance to have them on board. Talk about loss prevention… two telepaths and two empaths in a casino/hotel…”
I nodded, not at all arguing how helpful the Stackhouses’ abilities would be to any business.
“They have protection though… The local pack thanks to Jack. The Area’s Dae thanks to Jude… to anyone else, I hired professional poker players to help run my casino. Nothing more.”
I nodded again. “They’d probably stand out in any other environment.”
She watched me take one last sip of my blood and set the cup in the sink… She finally laughed, “You want to borrow one?”
I shook my head. “I was trying to think of a political use for them… It’s occurred to me that the Lords left after the coup might think my offer to give them the throne is a trap.”
“Rather than a legitimate offer to abdicate.”
“Yes… They could assume I’m fishing for overambitious tyrants.”
Pam shrugged. “They could do that… Sookie and Brandon.”
“They can’t read Vampires’ minds though…”
“They can read a bluff from fifteen floors away, Eric. They could find the ones who want to be King and… If you really want to get out from under the throne, why not give the Empire to Klaasje?”
“Because she’s refused. She’s sworn herself to me and has mentioned she’d consider anyone who entertains my offer a traitor because any of the surviving Lords have me to thank. She’s…”
I nodded. “She is that… She’s too loyal to let herself consider it even thought the Empire is hers by right. I’ve considered a ruse… having her help me chose a successor, because my abdication is imminent and hope she steps forward. She’s told me that she’d support my abdication, but she’d follow me when I leave.”
“She’d be the only Queen in Europe. She might not want to suffer the derision.” It wouldn’t be her sex that would keep anyone from taking her seriously. It was the fact that the woman was a bleeding heart.
“I KNOW! I’ll give it to you!”
She narrowed her eyes and a split second later, she was spraying me with the nozzle from the sink. “NOT. EVEN. AS. A. JOKE!”
Just to taunt her, I sang, “You’d technically be an Empress.” She still hadn’t turned the water off.
“Go change. You don’t want to miss the show.”
“The Stackhouses are all here because Bubba is taking the stage… Bubba Presley.”
I reached to turn off the water. “He’s performing again?”
She nodded. “Thanks to Gran.”
“I want to explore the idea of giving my protégé the keys to the Kingdom. You could tell Sophie-Anne to fuck herself with a used toilet brush.”
“Hmmmmmm, I’ve always wanted to do that… But… Bubba is starting his show with Hard Headed Woman…” How appropriate. “Don’t look at me like that… You haven’t met Gran yet.”
As I stepped out of the shower, the voice coming from Sookie’s side of the hall caught my attention. Bubba was in her room.
“It’s nice a’ya to take care’a me and all, but…”
Sookie interrupted, “But nothing, Bubba. I know it’s not your favorite, but it tastes better than other stuff. You’ve said so yourself. You can’t live on junk. We only pressure you once a week. C’mon. Be a good boy and eat your veggies.”
He chuckled, “You’re bullying a Vampire again, Sook.”
“I am. Do you want the speech about how not eating right is what killed you the first time?” I almost chuckled. I hadn’t ever thought of that tactic.
“Did I tell yah? Lin made me a candle. Smells like p’nut butter and nanners. It’s go-”
She snickered, “Quit stalling.”
He growled and… then there was the unmistakable sound of a bite. He wasn’t sipping bagged blood from a warmed ceramic cup like Pam and I had. He was actually feeding… I couldn’t help but wonder how the fuck she managed to find a live donor for him, let alone convince him to drink from a Human at all.
Five deep gulps later, I was still suffering from a certain amount of shock. His Maker had to hold him down to feed him from a bag. I’d witnessed it.
Sookie cooed, “There. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“Naw. Guess not. Thanks.”
I could hear a kiss before Sookie said, “You’re very welcome.”
Assuming his glamouring skills were still lacking, I finished dressing and left my room to make the offer… and congratulate Sookie for winning a battle I lost several times.
Sookie smiled when she opened the door and quickly stepped into the hallway, closing the door behind herself. “Oh hey… look, I’m really sorry about earlier. Did Pam explain our extra senses?”
I nodded. I hadn’t expected an apology… I was expecting her to want one.
“Jason was paranoid about why you wanted to talk to Pam privately. He knows Maker/child stuff is no one’s business, but he knows the Fae reputation too. He was worried and defensive enough he was pushing his paranoia and I didn’t realize it until I was in the elevator because I was busy worrying about Pam. So… Yeah. Calling you a racist and being nasty was… horrible and unfair… I’m sorry.” Wow.
“Apology accepted… I’m here to thank you before Pam has the chance to kill you. Our talk went very well.”
She smiled from ear to ear and nodded. “You have no idea how happy I am for you two… so… Do you want to come in? Gran and Bubba are the only ones inside. Jason went downstairs already.” When she pointed towards the door, I noticed the fresh bite mark inside her wrist and caught her hand.
“You? I thought you arranged for a donor?” She was feeding Bubba?
She shrugged. “Well… Pam prefers Jason’s blood to the same type from a full-blooded Human. She says it’s sweeter. Bubba’s had a weird diet since he was alive. I thought it was worth a try. Not really to wean him off cats as much as make sure he has something healthy once in a while. He’s stronger and his senses have improved. He even looks better. We have to talk him into it, but a few weeks ago, he drank bagged blood. He looked like he ate a mouthful of dirt, but we’re getting there. It’s taking less and less work every week because he can feel the difference it makes.”
I smiled at her. “That’s very… kind. I was going to offer to glamour the donor.”
“Thanks, but I have my ways to not even feel it…”
“A Vampire’s mind is a sensory deprivation tank to me and Brandon. I just disconnect a bit and focus on Bubba’s mind when he bites…”
Feeling the actual bite was one thing, but her wrist was already beginning to bruise. I let my fangs down to prick my finger. While I healed her marking, I explained, “We can’t have your body found with a Vampire bite. I’m sure you understand.”
She giggled, “Of course. Pam will probably need an alibi too… Thanks. C’mon. Bubba says he’s missed you. Seeing you is all he and Gran talked about while I did his hair and makeup.”
I was just behind Sookie when we walked into her room. There was an elderly woman with an awed expression on her face, but I hardly had a look at her before I was attacked…
Bubba leapt over the coffee table when he spotted me, nudging Sookie out of his way to hug me. Hug. Me.
“Eric!” A hug.
“You’re hugging me, Bubba.” A hug.
“You sure been missed, Sheriff!” He was still hugging me.
“I… missed you too?” Hug.
Sookie snorted, “I’m pretty sure you were warned.”
“You said Stackhouses are huggers.” Not Presleys. Hug.
The older woman stepped up behind Bubba and tapped his shoulder. “We’re bad influences… Alright Bubba, let me hug my grandbaby’s Maker.” Grandbaby’s Maker?
Without making me ask for an explanation, Sookie offered, “Gran says ‘in-law’ is what you call someone when you hope they break up with your kin so you don’t have to see them anymore.” Fair enough… As long as she didn’t assume I was the one who’d be turning her grandchild…. It took a moment for me to calculate the ‘family tree’… the Stackhouses seemed to equate Pam and Jason’s bond to marriage… I almost laughed when I realized they probably considered me something of Jason’s ‘father-in-law’.
Bubba finally stepped back after slapping my back like he was trying to put out a fire. Finally getting a longer look at him… Sookie was right about his appearance. Bubba looked better than he did before he died.
As ‘Gran’ put her arms around me for a hug, she explained, “Even if Vampires had their own way of labeling it, I’d still call her my grandbaby… That’s one’s a gem. We love Pam to bits.” Pam hadn’t been exaggerating about how friendly the Stackhouses were.
The woman’s hug was less gratuitous than Bubba’s. She was already stepping back by the time she declared her love for Pam… Perhaps it was because of the nature of the hug… or the execution… it could have just been less bizarre because it was from a ‘sweet little old lady’…
Sookie snickered, “Eric Northman, my Gran, Adele Stackhouse. I mentioned we were homeschooled… Gran was our English department. By the time kids our age were reading comic books, we were reading Lovecraft.” Impressive.
“You did well… Sookie didn’t hesitate for a moment when she heard me check in using William Thackeray as my alias.”
The woman snorted, “She better not have let that slip by her. He wrote my favorite book.”
Sookie snorted, “Gran, you have to work on Pam… When I called her and told her, ‘William Thackeray checked in. Tall, blonde, blue eyes, over 900. He recognized Bubba right away.’ She told me I needed a man if I was so bad off I could describe everyone who walked into the lobby.” I had to wonder if Pam said ‘a man’ or if Sookie was paraphrasing for her grandmother’s sake.
Adele gasped, “She didn’t make the connection!?” I laughed at how completely appalled the woman was.
“Nope. I told her William Makepeace Thackeray wrote Vanity Fair… Pam said and I quote, ‘Eric would be beside himself if that writer was brought over… He loves that damn boo- You’re telling me Eric is at the hotel, aren’t you?’ I laughed so hard I nearly spilled AB-negative.”
Adele shook her head. “It’s a good thing you turned her down… you’d never get any reading done with Cartoon Network on all night.”
Sookie shrugged. “I don’t know about that, but the next time she swaps what I’m reading for a tantric sex manual, I’m going to delete the Saturday morning cartoons from her DVR and jamb up her queue with Mr. Bean and Dame Edna…” That seemed fair. “Y’all heading downstairs?”
Bubba nodded. “I’ma warm up.” Because Vampires needed that. Vampires needed to warm up, work out kinks, stretch before strenuous activity… Bubba hadn’t changed but so much.
Sookie stretched up to kiss his cheek then her grandmother’s. “Keep Bubba away from Fake Sinatra. He’s Human and has a big mouth. He’s been pushing our Bubba’s buttons all week.”
Adele nodded and offered, “Will do, baby,” as she slipped her arm around Bubba’s…
He looked as proud as he could be to have the woman on his arm as they walked out.
I opened my mouth to ask a question once they were on the elevator, but Sookie held her finger up to stop me and mouthed, “He’s still listening.”
She walked into the bedroom to open her closet and tossed a pair of jeans onto the bed behind her… then a blue tube top… blue suede pumps…
“Okay… he was out of his range, but he was still trying to eavesdrop… Hugging isn’t the only bad habit he’s picked up from the family. What’s up?”
“He seems very attached to your grandmother. Lovers?”
She shook her head without the slightest hint of being offended by the question. “No… He was a ‘momma’s boy’ when he was alive too. Gran’s 100% responsible for getting him back on stage again. She has a way with people… She told him he needed to get used to a simple life again. It wasn’t the music that ruined his life it was fame, and he has a unique opportunity to enjoy it again on his own terms… That kind of thing. He’s been rehearsing at home. It’s so sweet… he loves that he doesn’t get tired anymore, or sweat like he used to… The show starts at 8. Are you going?”
“I should tend to the business I came to Shreveport to do, but… I’m not going to miss my chance to see him perform again.”
“No joke. I swear, I get goosebumps when I think about it. He died before I was born, but I was raised by an Elvis man… So… You said your talk with Pam went well. Did you have any lingering questions?”
“I was curious about the difference you mentioned between Vampires and Daemons, but then you suggested you noticed my age and that I noticed Bubba quickly.”
She nodded and carried her clothes to the bathroom, pushing the door partially closed to use as a dressing screen. “Well, Vampires are big comfortable nothings, like a thick fog, ranging from light to dark depending on your moods and general disposition. When you’re dead, it’s perfectly still. As you rise, it wakes up and begins moving and depending on what you’re thinking about, the current speeds up and slows down… Daemons are like snow on a television. Brandon and I can’t hear anything they’re thinking, but their moods actually have a temperature range, and when they lie, their minds slow down, as opposed to a Vampire’s mind surging… And Jason and Hadley have the opposite luck with their ability. They can’t feel or affect the emotions of Daemons, but they can influence Vampires which isn’t such a big deal for Vampires because you all have Makers and children and can feel the difference between internal and foreign emotions.”
“You used your abilities at poker tables, yes?”
“Yeah… but, like any whore, we had rules. We walked away from tables full of fools who wanted to cash in their kids’ college funds to stay in the game. We stuck to targets with more money than sense. Vegas was like a farmers’ market for perfect tables. Jason had no problem finding tables with Were and Shifter players because they didn’t want to lose to Vampires… Vice versa for me and Brandon. I’m sure you know how prideful a burned Vampire can be… As for guessing your age, it’s a size thing… Your presence is huge. Brandon jokingly calls it an ‘aura’ because it surrounds you. And I could tell you recognized Bubba because of the way your mind shifted… When Vampires try to eavesdrop, their mind shifts to what they’re listening to. When they scrutinize any bonds they have, their mind pulls in more tightly.”
“You can sense when I’m eavesdropping, yes?”
She pushed the bathroom door out of her way to step out and the way she looked might have been the only thing to distract me from how curious I was about her ability. As petite as Sookie was, there was plenty of real estate between the bottom of her ‘top’ and the waist of her deliciously tight jeans…
My fucking mouth was watering.
“I wouldn’t call it eavesdropping…” She rolled her eyes up playfully and continued, “In fact, I wouldn’t know you were curious about blue M&Ms if I weren’t paying attention to your mind at the time. So I guess we’re even… Besides, if I had anything to hide, I wouldn’t have put you in the room right across from mine… You ready to go?”
I nodded and followed… As soon as the elevator doors closed behind us, I offered, “Are you going to leave your hair professionally pinned? I think it’s a contrast to your clothing.”
She hummed before she answered, “I’ll tend to it downstairs.”
“Because the idea of taking my hair down in a confined space with a Vampire makes my survival instinct twitch.”
I chuckled, “Fair enough… How does Pam tolerate your essence?”
“She’s gotten used to it being surrounded by us. I’m the strongest so I just have to be a little more careful.”
“Your ability or your essence?”
“Both…” Once the elevator doors opened again, she stepped out and I was all but bombarded by an overwhelming sweetness as she quickly yanked the pins from her hair and tucked them into her tiny pocket.
She ran her fingers through her hair as we walked through the lobby, leaving a wake of her natural scent for me to walk through.
I couldn’t decide what was doing more damage to my mood… her strut or her scent.
It was going to be a long fucking night.