*A/N: And then things happen. Forgive any mistakes – read with a kind eye because I did not go back over this that third time (too much crap to do today and I didn’t want to make you guys wait any longer), so I’m sure I most likely missed a thing or fourteen. Be prepared to meet some new “players” in this Part. Bring a lunch.*
The drive back down Sookie’s driveway had been just as traumatic as the drive in and Eric mentally scheduled a full inspection and probable repaint of his precious ‘vette after he settled in Dallas. Once he reached better and safer surfaces his first instinct was to quickly hit full speed and stay there until he could swerve into Fangtasia’s lot, but he knew he needed to broach several subjects with Sookie before their arrival.
With a silent huff he reined in his lead foot tendencies and for once mostly obeyed the speed suggestions marked on signs littering the side of the road.
Although he needed to get the talk started as they didn’t have all that much time, he was strangely reluctant to bring up the previous conversation. Unlike her distinctly unhappy cat in the back seat who growled and hissed up a storm whenever the mood struck her (which was constantly), the blonde telepath was sitting quietly his passenger seat – a fact that brought him perhaps more satisfaction than it should have. Judging by the fresh bond, she felt an interesting blend of emotions.
So does Tina, apparently, but that ‘she’ will be fine. Eventually. Hope she doesn’t keep this up all the way to Dallas…can cats be glamoured to shut the hell up? Can’t blame her…wouldn’t like to be caged either…but better for her in the long run. Poor cat…poor loud, annoying, aggravating, never-shutting-the-hell-up cat…
The lack of confusion, disgust, anger, or even fear he felt from Sookie were surely a bonus, but he could make no sense of some of what she did feel. He could understand the excitement and nervousness, and perhaps even the curiosity, although what there was to be curious about in Fangtasia he couldn’t guess, but he didn’t understand the smugness or the fleeting bits of anticipation.
Why is she…smug? Is it because she has *my* blood in her system? Most would feel that way about it I would think, and it would make sense…but no, not Sookie…that doesn’t seem like her. And why the anticipation…what the fuck would she have to anticipate at Fangtasia of all places? Maybe she’s just looking forward to meeting my Maker? I can see that but why now? But…why…but…hey, is that smugness building? Oh, I guess I could ask her about it…couldn’t hurt, I don’t guess. Maybe…
Both his vampire and his human natures despised exposing a lack of knowledge, that lack implying a weakness that the unscrupulous would jump at the chance to exploit, but then again…
This is Sookie…least deceitful person I’ve ever encountered… Plus, the asking of questions generally leads to the receiving of answers…hasn’t hurt where she’s concerned yet…
“You know that I can sense your strongest emotions now and so I can tell that you are nervous and curious, but I do not understand this wave of anticipation? And why are you so…smug?”
Eric could absolutely feel the version of himself who sat on that horrid throne chortling his ass off at himself for asking such things. At the sound of his voice, Tina’s pitch rose as if accompanying the conversation…or maybe she was agreeing with Throne-Eric.
“Smug? I don’t think I’m feelin’ smug. Is that how it’s comin’ through?” Sookie’s voice trailed off as she apparently thought about it for a moment, then she snickered “Oh, I don’t know…might have something to do with you havin’ to change your pants.”
Without skipping a beat or giving him a chance to do more than whip his head around to stare at her in shock, she continued, “Nope, that couldn’t have been it. I’m a lady and therefore I would never comment on the such as that. The road’s that way, Eric. eyes ahead. And don’t worry, dear, you’re not the first guy who’s ever had that happen and I’m sure you won’t be the last,” she consoled teasingly before promptly changing the subject…again without giving him a chance to speak.
He magnanimously allowed the subject change although Tina’s sudden yodel did sound suspiciously like laughter…to Eric’s ears at any rate.
“Actually, there for a minute I was thinkin’ about Bill bein’ in your jail cell, the one you said you have him in under the club? An’ I was thinkin’ about goin’ down there and seein’ him, you know, just to point an’ laugh at him some, maybe do a little ‘I’m free an’ you’re not – how does it feel, sukkah’ dance,” she explained, her accent deepening with her humor and enthusiasm.
Eric didn’t bother holding in his laugh. An image of her shaking her shapely butt as she mocked and pointed at the prisoner floated through his mind and for a moment he actually considered letting her do it.
Unfortunately the entire basement area under Fangtasia was not a place he thought appropriate for his little telepath…he would need at least a week to tidy it up, hose it down, and push a paintbrush all around…
Well, Pam would…”child” labor laws didn’t apply to progeny…but then she’d want to paint it pink and…no. Wait…tonight may well be the last time I’m in that Odin-forsaken building…so it’s not like I’d have to see it…would be a waste of paint, though…but the fumes…sad, cheap Pepto-colored paint… Compton forced to endure the stench… The “sprucing up” would actually add to the pretense before she leaves the Area…
Having no true intention of allowing her to descend into that morally and literally dark gray area, Eric hedged as he passed a car at an annoyingly normal pace, “We’ll see. You may be assured that he is currently suffering for his sins.”
He thought the eagerness in her gaze was quite charming.
“He is strung up on the wall with silver cuffs and chains, and has a problem speaking.”
“A problem speaking? Beehl has always had a problem speaking…how is it any different now?” she asked with a smirk.
He tipped his head to her in acknowledgement of her point then theorized, “I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with the silver ball gag in his mouth.”
“What’s a ball gag?”
He briefly considered pulling a head-desk routine on his steering wheel.
How in the hell do I explain to her what…aw, hell…
“It’s a handy mouth tool for preventing prisoners from speaking or screaming…threats and insults. It is especially effective on vampires when coated with silver.”
“Ohhh, nice. Hey, with that on him he can’t murder my name anymore! Dang, I wish I’d had one back then.”
Eric’s grin was decidedly evil.
The opening he’d been subconsciously looking for now landing somewhat in his lap, he continued…rather bravely in his opinion, and was glad to leave the subject of inappropriate sex aids behind. He’d never had an appreciation for the devices – why fuck someone if you didn’t want to hear them speak? “In the meantime, I need to cover some things with you before we arrive. As you know, a member of management has been quietly stealing club profits. I know it must be management because none of the human or other vampire staff would have this kind of access although it wouldn’t surprise me if the humans were glamoured to somehow assist in the theft. The only three viable suspects are my accountant, my child, and a vampire named Long Shadow who bought into the business to raise funds for his own. The accountant has been glamoured to within an inch of his sanity and wouldn’t dare try to steal even a paperclip from me, much less $60,000. My child Pam is too lazy to inconvenience herself and would merely ask me for the cash or just use my credit cards. It has to be Long Shadow but I don’t have adequate proof yet. That is where you would come in.”
During his explanation he had kept his eyes mostly on the road but had easily catalogued Sookie’s reactions as he spoke. She had listened calmly through most of it but her eyes had grown huge when he’d casually mentioned the amount of money involved.
Internally, he sighed.
If she thought that was a lot of money..ok, so, to most mortals it would be but I’ve had over a thousand years to accumulate… Dear Odin, Tina, do you need a muzzle? Wish I’d brought fish…do cats still eat fish? Oh, maybe some of that plant…a member of the mint family, wasn’t it…
Eventually she recovered enough to remind him, “But Eric, you know I can’t hear vampire minds, so what do you want me to do, listen to the humans to find out what they’ve seen or suspect?”
“Exactly that,” he answered, his voice warm with approval as he grinned with a little fang showing. “Long Shadow is arrogant and believes he has a way with the female staff, but when that fails, he has no problem glamouring them to do his…bidding.”
Reluctantly he slowed the car even further, now going a disgusting 11 miles under the speed suggestion.
The things I do for…
“And this brings up other things we need to discuss, things that also tie into our telephone conversation. Before we begin, though, tell me what you heard in the club during your first visit.”
Sookie’s face scrunched up to reveal her opinion of what she’d heard. “Well, it was kind of sad and depressing and a little scary, honestly. The loudest thoughts I heard were all about sex and wantin’ to be noticed or chosen by a vampire, or wantin’ a vampire to bite them or turn them, that kind of thing. The thoughts were all so dark and desperate, like they didn’t think they were too horny to think right and like they didn’t really respect the vampires they were chasin’ after, either. Some of them…their thoughts sounded like they didn’t even care which vampire bit or…whatever with them, like the vampires were all interchangeable with each other. It was like the whole set-up was a ‘use-use’ situation,” she huffed. “The humans…well, the loudest ones at least, wanted to either use or be used by vampires.”
She paused to pick at her thumbnail for a moment then screwed her face up again.
“Some of the scenes I saw playing out in their minds were just plain disgustin’, Eric. It was so obvious that most of them were using vampires for their own perverted reasons or that they were willin’ to let vampires use them in the same way. In that aspect I can see that each side was gettin’ what they wanted, that it was sort of a weird, sad trade-off, but a lot of times I could tell that neither side thought the other was actually worth gettin’ to know. I mean, I couldn’t hear the vampires, but I could see and hear in the human’s memory what they said and did. Do these human and vampire people not ever just talk to each other?”
Eric barked out an unexpected laugh.
Sweet Odin she’s a delight…
“At Fangtasia? No, they don’t.” He shook his head at the thought.
Sookie snickered as she rolled her eyes.
“Well believe it or not, some, ok, a few of the minds I read showed me that the person really did want to get to know more about vampires, and I even saw in a couple memories where it looked like the vampire was tryin’ to hold a real conversation with the human. But even in those cases it was like they couldn’t find the right person.” She snorted. “Those particular humans and vampires need an interspecies dating site more than a too-loud, too-dark vampire club.”
He chuckled at the concept but found it oddly intriguing…and could see how that might could actually work.
“And yes, before you ask, I saw you in more than a few memories, too.”
All thoughts of laughter promptly faded but to his great consternation, he couldn’t think of a single thing to say.
“Don’t worry,” she snickered, and he could only imagine the expression on his face…something about a deer in headlights, maybe… “Your reputation is secure. From what I could tell, you’re one of the nicer vampires, well, one of the more considerate ones. Yeah, the term ‘feed and fuck’ came up a lot with you same as it did for most of the vampires there, but you’re the main attraction for a reason.”
If I had kingdoms I would gladly trade every damn one of them to know what she saw and heard…but I don’t…why do I have no kingdoms? I need kingdoms… Pam could be The Royal Princess…wait, she already is… But I still couldn’t “hear” what she had anyway…not telepathic… My performances would have been extraordinary, of course, no worries about that but…but still… Fuck… What the hell did she…? It couldn’t have been that bad…still talking to me… “Nice”? “Considerate” Should I be insulted?
I still need some damn kingdoms…
After clearing his throat unnecessarily, he took control of a conversation that had suddenly gotten badly out of hand…by pretending she hadn’t mentioned seeing anything about him…anything at all…
“What you saw at Fangtasia is not a true representation of relationships between vampires and humans.” He ignored her snicker at his ‘ignore it and it’ll go away’ tactic. “The club is an artificial environment where tourists drop in to “experience vampires”, but it’s mostly a place where both parties know exactly what they will find and they go there with that specific purpose in mind. In reality, interactions between our two species are sometimes better and usually worse.”
Tina released an unusually loud yowl to which Eric automatically hissed in return. Tina hushed. He would remember that move for later use.
“To better understand how vampires treat humans today, you need to know a little more about how vampires viewed and therefore treated humans throughout history. While I do not agree with the majority of the traditional mindset, remnants of it remain to this night and you need to understand how vampires, especially the older ones, think.”
He waited for her to nod before continuing.
“As you likely remember from your history lessons, in antiquity human law allowed human males to own and treat human females as property, as chattel, yes? Well, vampires have their own distinct laws, and vampire law treats both human sexes the same – as property. These traditional laws require that the vampire feed, shelter, clothe, and provide medical attention and protection to what amounts to a slave. Respect and other such fine considerations were never mentioned. I realize this casts vampires in an extraordinarily negative light,” he acknowledged when he caught the outraged expression on Sookie’s face, “but it actually holds with the human times when vampire laws were first coded. Keep in mind that throughout history humans with power have, to varying degrees, owned either en total or at least the services of those who owed them fealty. As with farm animals, land, and furnishings, the lowest humans – especially females – would be traded in like manner. That mindset carried over into vampire tradition, but vampire laws were simply more blunt about it. Why,” he paused for emphasis, “would vampires have treated humans any better than humans treated their own kind? Why would the vampires who were Turned from humans during those earliest times have thought differently once they were Turned? They would not,” he affirmed, “since they carried their concepts with them into their next life.”
Eric fell silent as he let Sookie digest the information for a minute. Thankfully her expression revealed slightly more contemplation than disgust, although the disgust was certainly evident. Knowing they were nearing the club, he had to resume the conversation when he would rather have waited for her inevitable questions.
“One thing you will appreciate is that in the vampire world, females and males have for quite some time been considered equals. Either sex can hold any position they are strong enough to secure and maintain, and their strength is judged as much on mental prowess as physical. In addition to that, some ancient vampires like my Maker came from clans when both genders held equal rights and respect. Godric and those like him have been working subtly through time to evolve the species in several ways. Success has been somewhat limited,” he admitted with a slight grin, “as vampires are a notoriously hidebound lot.”
Sookie’s lips quirked a bit at his humor but she otherwise remained quiet.
Come to find out, a quiet Sookie was a daunting Sookie.
Just as he was preparing to ask her about her thoughts, she spoke.
“So vampires still think they have the right to own humans?”
Fuck. Of course she would ask that.
“Yes, most do, especially the more so-called ‘traditional’ ones. Part of that is because of what I have just explained, but part of it also comes from the notion that vampires are superior to humans…”
“What? Humans don’t even have the right to own humans so why would vampire keep thinking that way? And why in blue blazes would vampires be so arrogant as to think they’re better than humans? You guys came from humans – you were humans before you were turned!”
Sensing an upcoming meltdown – one he could certainly understand – Eric pulled off the road at the wide spot his keen eyes saw just ahead. He threw the car in park and turned to better face his fuming passenger.
Even though she was rightfully angry, he noted with relief that she didn’t seem to be directing her fury at him.
Eyes flashing, lips pursed, cheeks flushed in her ire, she was also the most beautiful living being he had ever seen.
“Not all vampires think that way, but most do, and in their opinion, it makes sense. Vampires are faster than humans, our bodies and our senses are stronger, we heal far more rapidly and our minds function far more quickly than you can imagine, and as you know, we cannot die of natural causes. As the decades then centuries pass, we observe, learn, and retain much more knowledge than a human with a mortal lifespan possibly could. Unfortunately, most vampires see these traits as proof that our species is better than yours. Some, like my Maker, do not think this way, and I don’t think that he ever did. He sees our vampirism as making us ‘more’, not ‘better’.”
He hushed to give Sookie time to think about what he’d said, and was surprised when she said, “So like every other species, most vampires are arrogant assholes but some aren’t. How will I tell the difference?”
Glad that she seemed to be calming down, he responded wryly, “Oh, you’ll be able to tell.”
Tina chose that moment to rejoin the conversation with a “don’t forget I’m busy being pissed off” growl which everyone ignored.
A thought occurred to Eric as he glanced out the window into the night. The traffic between Bon Temps and Shreveport wasn’t too heavy after dark and the glare of the streetlights was nicely softened by a light haze.
Odd the images that capture our attention at the strangest times…
“Something you will need to keep in mind as you deal with my kind is that at heart, vampires are no longer human, or at least most of what you would call our humanity is dead. We have access to higher reasoning, of course, but we also answer to our base instincts, and our instincts are predatory, possessive, and passionate. And I don’t mean just about sex,” he teased when she blushed.
“We’ll talk more about all of this when we have time, but for now, when you encounter the few vampires that will be at Fangtasia tonight, don’t challenge anyone directly. I will do that for you. You do not have to act subservient to me or anyone else, at least not normally, but things will go much easier for us if you follow my lead. I have been vampire for over a thousand years; I know what I’m doing.”
“Well I would hope so, Eric, else I might have to have a word with your Maker,” she bantered right back before laughing at her own notion.
Eric shook his head.
…Sookie squaring her shoulders and walking with a purpose into the old man’s study…’Godric, I need to have a word with you about Eric…for a thousand year old Viking, he sure doesn’t seem to know what he’s doin’ half the time…” The look on his face! …doubt either of them could keep a straight face for long, though…and then Godric would agree with her… Should I really let those two meet? Fuck…too late now…
“Eric, I get it. I know that vampires aren’t exactly just suped-up humans, but in a way, y’all are. You still feel, you still need the people you love in your life, and you still have hopes and dreams and ambitions, all that kind of thing. Just like humans, you still want to protect yourself and your people and you still want to secure your food and have a safe place to call your own. And I agree with your Maker – just because you guys are faster and stronger an’ all doesn’t mean you’re better; it just means that you’re more.” She nodded her head in agreement with herself, and he gladly catalogued that quirk.
“And of course I reckon you know more about how to vampire considerin’ you’ve been one for a while and I haven’t,” she teased, “so yeah, I’ll try my best to follow your lead in whatever situation we find tonight, but I can’t read your mind so you might want to use hand signals and maybe write some notes, too.”
She nodded in agreement with herself again and he had to crack a grin.
“Ah, Sookie…we’ll play it by ear, but if we’re ever going to get this done, we need to get back on the road.”
Impatience to complete the Fangtasia mission so that he could get on the road to Dallas jangled his nerves, but… “Is there anything else we need to cover this second?”
“Yeah,” she said to his surprise, “lean over here.”
Curious as to her intent, he complied, and watched as she lifted her hand to swipe his now-damned bangs out of his eyes.
And then she sniffed his cheek before pressing a quick kiss to his lips.
“Well, your lips don’t feel like antiques and you don’t smell like Old Man Reston did before he passed away,” she said in a pondering tone after immediately resuming her seat. “Are you sure you’re really that old?”
If he hadn’t known her, he would have fallen for her serious expression and tone. His only clue to her jest was the slight twinkle in her eyes.
So she does have a poker face…and a fairly decent one at that…sometimes. Wait…antiques? I’ll show her antique…
With a growl he leaned up and over and, his lips lightly stroking hers, said, “I’ll show you antique.”
And so he did. For a glorious two solid minutes – not that he was counting – he did his best to steam up the interior of the ‘vette parked on the side of the road heading toward Shreveport. Just because he personally couldn’t didn’t mean he wouldn’t try…
Finally his previous impatience, the car’s cramped confines, and Tina’s version of background music won and they were on their way.
The closer he came to Shreveport, the more he felt his vampire mask instinctively descending. Conversation had continued, flowing light and easy at first as neither wished to delve into deeper subjects before arriving at the club, but his replies became noticeably more abrupt.
“Stop it,” Sookie demanded out of the blue.
Stop what…driving? Why? No…we’re too close now…maybe she needs a human moment in a bathroom? We have those filthy rooms at the club…not all that far away… Why else would she demand I stop…stop what, anyway?
“Stop what,” he almost barked as the lights of Shreveport began brightening in the distance.
“You’re acting like Fangtasia Eric and I don’t like it.”
I don’t either.
The thought stole into his mind like a thief in the night and slapped him hard with the truth.
He didn’t like this version of himself, the side he had to portray not just at the club, but when dealing with the bratty Queen and those in her Court and most everyone else in his world. The majority of the vampires in his Area were genuinely decent, mostly upstanding members of the undead with whom he could have been more himself around, and he gladly would have except for the likes of fucking Compton or, as Sookie had described them, the Disco Triplets and other such fine examples of inhumanity.
That reminded him…
He made a mental note to himself then considered how his reputation served to prevent many problems and often solved others before they could escalate. Eric was justifiably proud of his “name”…for the most part. When dealing with strangers and most acquaintances in the vampire world, a certain level of visibly cold indifference was mandatory. It could be haughtily aristocratic to troublemakers of a lesser status who needed to be kept in line, especially the ones he despised, or slightly more respectful as necessary toward those of a higher status, but the facade was mandatory.
Now, how to make one very open, very obviously emotional little blonde telepath understand…
“In my world, unless during a fight, any sign of emotion other than lust, cruelty, or polite indifference could be considered a sign of weakness. In most cases indifference is best. Unless you are with your Maker, your progeny, or rare true friends, you must remain on guard at least to some extent at all times, and that means maintaining awareness of not only your own expression, but the expressions of all those around you. If you miss vital clues, it could mean your final death. You never want to tip your hand to potential enemies because you frowned or smiled at the wrong time. And as Sheriff of my Area, it is to my advantage to be seen as harsh, cold, and demanding in my expectations and edicts.”
In his peripheral vision he saw Sookie nod although she wore a thoughtful expression on her face.
Earlier she almost got me with the straight-face act, but she’d be a sitting duck for even a baby vamp…and that damn fool bitch of a queen wanted…mother…fuck…
“That all sounds awfully…lonely, and so cold. Is it like that for all vampires or just the older ones?”
With some difficulty he finally calmed his growing rage enough to answer her sad question.
“More or less, yes. It’s how a baby vamp becomes an elder. and it can’t take a newly-Turned vampire too long to learn the rules for their own longevity. Some never quite master the skills needed and they don’t tend to last long unless their Makers keep them at home, so to speak. Nomadic and unambitious vampires have it the easiest as their every reaction is less likely to be so closely scrutinized. In recent times things have eased up somewhat especially since we’re now living openly, but the ability to mask emotion will always be needed.
“The old saying among vampires is that the only vampire you can trust is the one you make, but in my case I would amend that to include my Maker. Throughout my years I have been…lucky enough,” he awkwardly admitted, “to have made a few true friends and several firm alliances, but the vampire world is often a harsh, brutal place. It galls…” he trailed off as his burner phone vibrated in his pocket.
In a blur he extracted the phone and pressed the right icon without taking his eyes off the road. Knowing it was most likely Rasul given the communications over the past few nights, he handed the device to Sookie. Had he been driving alone he would not have hesitated to read the screen but for some reason the thought struck him as risky now. Maybe it was because they were nearing Fangtasia and traffic had picked up considerably.
Yeah, that’s it…traffic. At least that poor cat has finally…nope, guess not…but in any case the intermissions are a bit longer between acts…
“Oh good grief – this is from your friend, right? Ok, let me try to decipher it. Ok,” she said after a brief pause, “I think I’ve got it: Just now heard, caution, twins coming, left a couple of hours ago, bringing you a screaming package, then it ends with ‘be alert’. And that’s it.”
Jst now hrd – KAUTON – Twins coming, left cpl hrs ago, bring u skreeming pkg – B ALRT
So…you’ll never guess what my deviously handsome Maker has done now. Yes, a human! Well, one that smells incredibly sweet…but still, a human! I must admit that she is quite delectable, but sadly she doesn’t savor the fairer sex. Yet. With enough time anything is possible…but I doubt Eric would let me. Stingy bastard.
And get this…he is finally letting go of this horrid den of desperate vermin and pleather! Finally! I may have squeed in private. Oh yes…I truly believe it’s all because of her. You should hear how he speaks of her, well, when he speaks of her. Yes, the mortal…the pretty blonde telepathic mortal. From what he’s said, he’ll be going into a private contract business with her, well, unless she contracts with the King of Texas, which would do them both well.
Dallas. Yes, we’re transplanting to Dallas, the home of good shopping, my saintly GrandMaker, and his King whose name I still don’t know. In my mind I call him Wild Bill but he’s officially known as King Texas so that’s what I have to pretend to go with. I don’t think anyone knows his real name. Surely if they did, I would too, right? Of course.
Godric. It will be good to see him again. Eric has missed his Maker more, I think, than he wants to admit. I mean, of course he’s not supposed to admit it, but honestly, a child can tell these things. No, not the snotty things that traipse around getting things sticky – I’m talking abut progeny. Anyway, the Maker of my Maker…he appears to be a teenager who just yesternight stepped over that line into adulthood but his age! He’s so old… Yes, it will be good to be in his presence again.
Plus there’s the shopping…
Eric reached for his phone to call Pam knowing she was already at Fangtasia. The place was closed per their “punishment for being vampire” but she’d had to come in anyway to deal with the meeting, the prisoner, and any unexpected Area business.
Vampires could be a truly childish lot and in his role as Sheriff, Eric had quickly learned to remain available for unplanned stupidity.
Ticky fucking morons…
The call went straight to voicemail.
He wasn’t unduly concerned, however, since his darling child had a tendency to forget to recharge her damn phone, so he sent her a massive load of caution.
Her immediate response – curiosity and a strong sense of worry that he knew was for his health – was reassuring, so he sent confidence that he was fine.
Three seconds later his burner phone burst into her ringtone.
Smart of her to use the burner number rather than the other…
“The mountains are said to come bearing a gift,” he replied in English as a salve to Sookie’s increasing curiosity and confusion. He thought rapidly. “Proceed as planned. This…could actually work to our favor.”
After ending the call and returning the phone to his pocket, he slowed down and turned onto the street that led to the club.
Sookie stared at him in wide-eyed concern as his speed slowed to a crawl.
Too fucking late to turn back now…could…but by the time I drove Sookie home – fuck parking her and the yodeling cat somewhere off by themselves for however long the Berts here – and…even if I were to fly back, the morons in the club would have told them… By then would be an hour late… would wonder why the meeting…why my delay… Plus I smell like cat and sunshine that came in a pretty blonde bottle… It’s too late to turn back now…push forward…could work…
“The Queen has three progeny that I know of. Andre is the oldest and is to be avoided at all costs. The other two, Sigebert and Wybert,” he pointedly pronounced their names correctly, “are literal twins who make your professional wrestlers appear malnourished.”
She wisely shivered as the gravity of their situation sank in but then she cocked her head to the side as apparently a thought occurred.
“How can you tell them apart?”
Eric nodded, sensing where she might possibly be going with this. But while they were surprisingly easygoing considering who their Maker was and their rather intense lust for battle, they were also far from stupid…a fact which could go either way.
“The only way you can tell them apart is by the tiny scar near Sigebert’s left eye; they are otherwise indistinguishable until you know them well, although Wybert isn’t nearly as verbose as Sigebert…who is best described as taciturn by nature. They are the Queen’s progeny and so they’re required to do her bidding, but I’ve long suspected they would have fared better with a different Maker. If she had to send anyone here, I’m actually relieved that she chose the brothers.” Unaccountably given the situation, he snorted. “They do not speak much or often if they can help it. Of course, English is also not their language of choice, unless you count its most ancient form, and even then…”
Sookie laughed, and Eric felt a burst of warmth in his chest. By the fear she had displayed earlier she knew their night had taken a turn for what could be the worst possible way, yet here she was…laughing.
“So, divide and conquer is out, huh. Well, then, wonder what the package is? Would they automatically go to Fangtasia or would they go somewhere else since the place is closed? And what kind of business was creepy ol’ Long Shadow wanting to start, anyway? I remember meeting him the other night at the club and he was strange.”
Eric whipped his head around to stare at her in confounded shock.
“What? Hey, if I’m gonna be dyin’ here in a few, I wanna know.”
“Sookie, you are not going to die,” he stated emphatically. “If I have to, I can easily grab you and hit the skies, so do not think of it.”
She eyed him for a moment before agreeing, “Well ok, then, but let me grab Tina first. Now, really, I can’t imagine what kind of business a guy with a campy name like Long Shadow would start.”
Despite the situation, despite his habitual vampire persona, despite everything, he couldn’t help but snort.
If she thinks Long Shadow’s name is campy… Laughing relieves tension…she glows when she laughs…
“His Maker’s name is…get this…Hot Rain.”
As expected Sookie laughed until tears streamed down her face.
“Hot Rain!? That sounds like something that happens on the toilet!”
An unplanned guffaw escaped from Eric at that, but he wouldn’t admit it to anyone save his Maker.
Stoic Vampire Sheriffs do not…guffaw.
“The nature of this theoretical business changes from month to month, but the last I heard, he was planning to start his own hair salon with an attached ‘night fishing bait and tackle shop’.
More tears rolled down Sookie’s face as she almost howled with laughter, and for a moment Eric seriously considered licking her cheeks…and her neck…but sanity prevailed.
Just before turning into Fangtasia’s empty parking lot, he pricked his finger and popped it between her open lips.
“To strengthen the scent of my blood on your person,” he briefly explained before smothering a moan as she then sucked forcefully on his fingertip.
The tiny wound healed immediately and he steered the car around to the back of the place, and sure enough, there sat one of the Royal(ly) ostentatious limos.
He parked nearby then looked over at Sookie with his fangs peeking out from behind a wicked grin. There was no way his passenger could have spotted much less identified the third passenger in the other vehicle, but he certainly had.
“Looks like we have company.”
I bet Pam’s entire collection of spring shoes that this particular package has screeched worse than Tina…almost feel sorry for them… Oh, hell, with a Maker like theirs? Definitely…
The Berts weren’t bad vampires, were in general terms some of the least arrogant he’d ever met, and under almost any other circumstance he would have genuinely liked the mildly brooding pair. Through his limited dealings with the brothers he could tell they had little patience for the generic bullshit often encountered in nightly life, a tendency that he heartily seconded.
They didn’t actively look for trouble which, given their Maker’s temperament, was a minor miracle, but would easily end any that came their way. They completed their tasks without undue belligerence and kept mostly to themselves when they could.
Godric would have been the perfect Maker for them…
The thought surprised him, but he had to agree with himself on that one.
Knowing that delaying would not stop the inevitable, Eric opened his door and, before he even had a chance to order her to remain in the car, Sookie gracefully exited from her side and gently locked and closed her door as though nothing in the world was wrong. In a rush he extricated himself from his seat, locked and slammed his own door to keep the once again pissed off Tina safe, and headed toward the black limo as both of its middle doors opened.
Although he could have easily growled at her for leaving the minimal safety of his car, he was quite proud when Sookie fell in step a little behind and to his right. How she knew to take up that perfectly correct position he would never know.
As the harshly scowling twins – tall, blond, broad, and seriously irritated – approached, they drug between them the obviously struggling and gaudily disheveled form of one Lorena Krasiki. Bill’s ‘esteemed’ Maker came complete with wildly bedraggled hair, mascara that appeared determined to escape from her heavily painted eyes, and bright red lipstick that clung to her fangs…and a need to constantly moan about her “poor sweet William”.
Once everyone met between the two cars near the main back entrance into Fangtasia, Sigebert spoke, his heavy accent even thicker than normal.
“This has been screeching at us. Why does she make so much noise?”
Wybert unexpectedly chimed in, a rarity for the usually silent vampire, “Make it stop.”
Sigebert asked with a hint of desperation, “How do you turn it off?”
Oh, these must have been trying times indeed…and I can guess exactly why Billy’s Mommy is here…useless waste of undead blood… Perhaps Thalia can have just as much fun as we’d hoped…poor broders having to deal with that rabid weasel…
Hard-pressed to keep from doubling over with laughter at the situation, Eric forcefully applied himself to maintaining a bland expression.
“I take it little Billy-boy cried for his mummy?”
Sigebert stoically nodded but Wybert growled – thankfully, it was at the vampire now gearing up for another round of screeching.
“This snarls and hurls threats at us and Maker. Must be contained, commanded to make it go away. Why silly Billy call for mommy?” Sigebert appeared honestly confused, but his description of Compton nearly had Eric howling.
“He’s in silver in a cell down below. As his Sheriff, I have sentenced him to a week’s punishment for several crimes including failure to properly register his presence in my Area, for illegally maintaining a decrepit but unregistered hovel in my Area, and for not reporting knowledge of known drainers to me, his Sheriff.”
The brothers both hissed at that crime.
“Oh, and for the deaths of those drainers, too. His punishment is more than warranted.”
The twins shrugged in unison, making it obvious that they couldn’t care less about either the punishment or the deaths of the drainers, but as expected, Lorena chose that moment to dramatically screech and swoon…again.
The Berts collectively let her drop to the ground with a satisfying thud.
“My sweet William! WHAT have you DONE to my CHILD? He’s BURNING! I can feel his PAIN! As his MAKER, I DEMAND that you RELEASE him this INSTANT! I DEMAND RESTITUTION!”
Sookie meanwhile had crept up almost to Eric’s side. He could feel her entertained exasperation with Lorena’s dramatics but the tinge of sympathy surprised him.
I know she’s softhearted, but damn…surely she’s not that easily swayed…
Then she huffed. He glanced around at the noise and he had to literally bite away a snicker when he saw she had a finger stuffed in each ear.
Not that he could blame her.
“Sheriff, do you have any more of those gag balls left? They’ll shut her up, right? Or at least tone that shit down some? I think their poor ears have suffered enough. I know mine have and I hadn’t even had to ride in the same car with her mouth.”
A long, drawn-out, “pay attention to my extreme angst – see how extreme it is” set of moans and groans accompanied Sookie’s brilliant question.
Mirth so intense he almost blanched hit him squarely in the gut.
Gag balls? GAG BALLS? Is she *trying* to make me roll around on this filthy ground? Gag balls…gut already hurts from trying not to laugh…
He nodded immediately, but it was a long, noisy minute before he could reply. In the meantime, he called Pam…and noticed Sigebert and Wybert gazing at Sookie as though she held the answers to all the world’s best questions in the palms of her soft little hands. Although their expressions mostly covered their humor at her misnomer, the thankful hope in their eyes gave him a burst of confidence that things just might turn out better than…
Pam blurred through the door as though she had been expecting his call, and logic dictated that she may well have been. As an incurably nosy brat, her ears and eyes would have been fixated on the feed in his office, yet her perfected expression revealed no detectable humor.
No, that’s all coming through the bond straight at me. Thanks, Pamela…hope you don’t miss your Autumn, 1952 purse collection too much…
“Retrieve an enhanced ball gag for Sweet William’s dear Moaning Maker.”
Pam immediately blurred to her soccer-mom van parked to the side and opened the back accompanied by Sookie’s whispered, “Hurry, Pam. This weirdo is nuts!”
Lorena, who had been occupying herself with a series of varying cries punctuated by a grunt or two plus calisthenics-grade writhings, suddenly realized the point of the request.
Eric stepped in front of Sookie who barely had time to gasp as Lorena rose in a blur while snarling ‘You bitch! You stupid bitch! You’re not worth…” directly at her. Before Compton’s crazy Maker could take two steps, however, each Bert grasped an arm to hold her very firmly in place.
Her volume rose exponentially.
Damn…this weirdo really is nuts, as Sookie said. At this rate it would actually be kinder to grant her a mercy ending…always been off. Oh, hey, she can meet her Maker when Compton does…maybe they’d get a group discount? He’ll hold a party…in Dallas…
After donning gloves, Pam blurred behind the three vampires and applied the torture implement with shocking dexterity. She calmly noted, “This is truly my last one but I believe it will serve the purpose nicely…as will these beautifully crafted cuffs.”
Nice…nicely…there’s that fucking word again…
And then there was silence…except for an outraged scream-hum, but at least it was far quieter than her screeching had been.
Blessed, blessed silence – almost… Damn harpy is worse than Tina! Odin love you, Pam…I’ll buy you a dozen…oh, smart thinking with the silver handcuffs…
And then he saw the beaming grins Sigebert and Wybert were aiming at his…
“Sookie, if this was your idea then you are now officially my favorite breather and my affections do not come cheap.”
While Sookie and Pam smiled eerily at each other, the Berts’ grins suddenly became more contemplative than beaming.
“Oh, you are the Sookie,” Sigebert stated.
Eric’s proverbial heart sank.
Fucking Pam and her fucking mouth…
Attuned as always to their bond during charged situations, he detected his beloved child’s sharp “oh, shit” spike and knew it had been a genuine slip and a genuine compliment.
Still…fuck. Well, with their appearance the night was bound to go cock-eyed somehow…
Sookie, however, chose to meet the problem head-on, as it were. He watched in mild awe as she very capably pretended that there was nothing whatsoever going on as she stepped fully to his side.
While meeting their gazes directly, with a dazzling smile she simply replied as though meeting someone’s cousins at that rank bar and grill, “Yup, that’s me. So who are y’all?”
Shock momentarily broke through the twins’ normally stern expressions as they encountered “the Sookie experience” before they each regained what passed for their normally stoic composure.
“I am Sigebert,” the one with the tiny scar eventually blurted.
Wybert glanced around awkwardly before stating almost shyly, “Wybert.”
Pride filled Eric’s chest when she then went on to make a point of correctly pronouncing their names while continuingly to smilingly meet and briefly hold each brother’s gaze.
Not wanting to see how far the current burst of luck might hold, Eric decided to step in.
Wybert seems a little too…
“So, what am I supposed to do with this?” He indicated the still hum-screaming but slightly less mobile Lorena.
Took her long enough to learn not to move in silver…
Both brothers shrugged.
“Don’t care.” Sigebert, as always the spokespire of the two, made their opinion of the woman’s future extraordinarily clear.
The soft glow of headlights appeared on the far side of the building so with a silent curse Eric indicated the door to the club.
Once everyone, inducing Lorena now dramatically weeping red tears while maintaining her moaning habit, was safely inside the hallway, he explained, “Local cops do hourly sweeps through the area.”
Pam rolled her eyes while the twins nodded wisely. Sigebert then glanced around the quiet interior.
A sniff revealed that Thalia was thankfully present as were all human and vampire staff members…including Long Shadow. The Berts might come in more useful than he’d anticipated.
Interesting possibilities…Sookie can read in my office…or Pam’s, whichever…set the brothers up in the main…
“Not open? Why?”
Eric sensed Sookie’s slight impatience tinged with a spike of humor just before she spoke ostensibly to him.
“Can we all go sit down somewhere? I don’t know about you people but I’m thirsty and my feet are tired, and that,” she inclined her head toward Lorena, “must have worn our Berts here out.” She looked over at what appeared to possibly be the newest members of her growing fanclub, “You guys want somethin’ to drink after all that?”
Apparently unused to what Sookie considered common courtesy – from what Eric had witnessed, Dear Ol’ Maker took them badly for granted – the offer of “somethin’ to drink” caused initial surprise but both simply nodded.
They watch her as though she’s a beautiful butterfly who might flutter away on gossamer wings…
Weighing the potential ramifications in a millisecond, he nodded as he sent a burst of caution and curiosity to Pam. If the twins were on hand if, hopefully when, Sookie’s private readings revealed proof of Long Shadow’s perfidy, then as the Queen’s Representatives they could…
“Pam, escort Sigebert and Wybert to my booth and have Indira serve them from our private stock. Let them know what happened during this latest harassment for the crime of being vampire. Thalia?”
He felt Sookie’s shock when the petite ancient vampire blurred to stand before him within the blink of an eye.
“Thalia, escort Compton’s Maker to her new home two cells down from our current guest and see to her comfort?”
The fact that Lorena’s snarls and intentions had been focused on his little telepath had not gone unnoticed. The pleased gleam in Thalia’s bright eyes said she’d clearly gotten the message.
Once Lorena and the brothers were out of easy earshot, Eric took Sookie’s elbow and led her quickly into his office.
They quickly decided to have Sookie conduct “worker satisfaction interviews” one at a time in Pam’s office well away from the common bar area. Once in Pam’s office, Eric quickly set up a laptop on Pam’s oddly cleared desk where she could “take notes” – notes that would instantly be sent to his phone as he either faked taking care of Area business in his office or ‘entertained’ the unexpected guests out in the public area.
When everything had been set up, he called Pam and explained the situation to her. It was decided that Ginger would be the first person interviewed, and both vampires gave Sookie a pitying look.
“She has had to be glamoured so often that I’m not sure you’ll be able to gain anything worthwhile from her mind, but as the human manager, she would need to be your first interview,” Eric replied to her curious glance.
“Why was she glamoured that much then if it’s bad for her?”
Pam studiously studied a fingernail.
“That would be my fault. We needed a human to deal with things during the day and so I hired her. At first she fit the bill perfectly. By the time we realized that she had too simple a mind for the kind of experiences common in the vampire world, it was too late to simply fire and replace her. At least while she’s here we can ensure that she eats something more than graham crackers.”
Eric felt Pam’s hidden remorse over the manager’s state and while he agreed with her, he still sent her a soothing wave of understanding.
From Sookie he received a blast of anger tinged with contempt and a lot of pity, and an odd urge to “do something about the situation” that he couldn’t immediately place, so he brought up the simplistic Notepad app and typed, “When we leave, Ginger will receive an impressive ‘severance package’ managed by our lawyer who will also appoint someone to keep tabs on her.”
He didn’t add that much of what Ginger knew would be glamoured away both for safety and for the woman’s own mental stability. The girl really had seen far too much…
Sookie gimlet-glared at both vampires a moment before she nodded.
“Ok, I need a drink before we get started. Is there any coffee in this place?”
He felt her humor when Pam nodded and blurred away before she could tell her how she wanted it prepared, but focused on what she slowly typed next, “How long Berts b here?”
Faster than hunt-and-peck but not by much..well, hell…could take hours…
Then, before he could place his hands on the keyboard, she added, “Will u b able 2 tell Berts abt LS? They help?”
He sent Sookie a burst of gleeful satisfaction to answer her question
She nodded and then watched as he cleared the text box before closing the simple app. Eric then withdrew from a desk drawer a notepad and a pen. “Use the first set-up for things I need to know immediately, but less important notes can be taken here,” he whispered near her ear.
The swell of relief he felt from her made him feel badly on her behalf. It had never been his intention to make her feel self-conscious about her lack of quick typing skills.
To make up for it…and because he wanted to…he impulsively licked her throat from ear to collar bone in a way he knew would tickle. She giggled as he’d hoped she would, and he would have continued the game but for hearing Pam and Ginger’s approach.
The door to the office opened and in strode Pam with Ginger following dutifly along behind her. The manager bowed to Eric, who ignored the loathed gesture, while Pam walked over to the desk.
“Here,” the female vampire proclaimed as she placed on her desk – a desk Eric knew for a fact had never held coffee before – a tray containing a cup filled to the brim with coffee, four child-sized plastic cups, and a spoon on a folded bar napkin. “Ginger reminded me that you humans add things to this brown sludge you requested, so you have ginger ale, orange juice, milk, and vodka. Have at it.” Pam turned and left.
Eric wasn’t sure but he thought there may have been bar cherries in the milk. He decided not to check.
Moments later, house music began throbbing in the public areas. The annoying noise would help camouflage Sookie’s mission.
“So what’s this about? Pam said you were going to ask us questions about how we like our jobs here?” Ginger for some reason chose to bow at Eric again, and this time he took pity on her and inclined his head graciously.
The beatific smile on the woman’s face made Eric feel an odd burst of sadness for her, and through the bond he could tell Sookie felt the same.
Suddenly weary, he said a bit more kindly than usual, “Yes, Ginger, I want you to answer Sookie’s questions honestly, and really think about your answers before you reply. Some of the things she might ask you may seem a little odd, but just go with it. She is here to help us.” He knew that add-on was sure to inspire Ginger to cooperate fully. “I’ll be in the club or in my office.” He glanced at Sookie, nodded again to Ginger who smiled brilliantly, and gladly left the room.
From his desk in his office he could clearly hear the “interview” as it took place but kept his phone in front of him so he could read anything his telepath may pick out of the woman’s undoubtedly foggy head.
He’d known his and Pam’s overuse of glamour had messed with the woman’s mind…there was no way it couldn’t have, but at the time…
At the time Pam and I were both too damn lazy and…damn…too selfish to find a better way…to hire someone else, if nothing else someone to help Ginger…maybe a child to remind her to tie her shoes and then do it for her when she would still forget… Sookie’s slight contempt is well warranted, unfortunately. Could have done better by her…so easy to let time pass… Ginger…so loyal… that over-affection… almost worship… creepy… should have glamoured that business from her poor mind at the first… Demon lawyer will find someone decent to look after her, perhaps even have her seen by a professional? Should text him the suggestion…he doesn’t know her like we do…
The feeling of failure did not rest well on his shoulders, but he accepted it for what it was – truth, remorse, and awareness.
After checking to be sure Sookie hadn’t sent him anything, he quickly texted the lawyer, then resumed waiting and listening.
He was impressed with how she seemed to be leading Ginger’s mind via the questions she asked, although the manager’s answers most often made no sense at all. He had to congratulate his telepath on her ability to not laugh out loud at some of them and couldn’t wait to read any handwritten notes she might have made.
Finally, his phone displayed a message from Sookie.
He uses Lila and Belinda most for blood/sex but Gs memory shows odd time jumps/breaks w them. Have Pam send L next.
Eric considered the two servers in question. As far as he could remember, both were good workers, showed up when they were supposed to, got along with the others as far as he knew. Luckily he had never “partaken” of either, so in that regard where Sookie was concerned he was safe. Neither seemed especially enamored of Long Shadow, so they’d have to have been glamoured…
He replied to Sookie with that information then texted Pam to be ready to send Lila back next.
A few minutes later he listened as Ginger gushed about her love for her job and said goodbye about twelve times as Lila waited patiently nearby.
Leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head, he listened as Sookie welcomed the new interviewee and made sure she was comfortable. Her questions were more pointed and direct with this one, he noted, and wondered what she saw in the girl’s mind.
Ginger’s interview had taken all of nine minutes, tops. This one seemed to last forever, but Eric wouldn’t leave his desk. He had his phone conveniently placed in front of him with the screen set to illuminate and grab his attention if she sent him any messages and had found a stray charger cord for his burner phone so it was happily hidden in a drawer soaking up juice but…he was bored.
With the security system set-up he could tell that nothing interesting was going on in the bar area – the humans were bored, too, but since they were being paid for the night’s attendance they weren’t complaining much about sitting on their asses, and the vampire employees would receive both pay and credit for their time…hell, he figured most of them had gone into downtime soon after arrival.
Finally he risked a 10-second check of the hidden compartments in his office to ensure nothing of value would be left behind – he’d already checked the hidden places in his desk…and chair…and sofa…and filing cabinets… Pam had done a thorough job but a double-check never hurt.
An enquiring ping from Godric narrowed his focus, and for a minute or so he traded “stories” told via emotion-based waves and surges with the Maker now behaving more as the mischievous brother. He caught the underlying excitement and impatience in the old man’s emotional base and found the knowledge heartwarming.
It was good when the Maker truly wanted their child by their side.
Who am I kidding…I love the old brat with everything I am, was, or will ever be…need to go on a hunt together soon…
The phone illuminated.
LS is a disgusting pig. Lila can’t stand him but her memories are weird-foggy and show her having sex with him and him feeding off her. It looks like he glamoured her to do his bidding in more ways than one. Lots of odd time jumps in her memory, hazy places where I think she was glamoured to do things then reglamored to forget what she had done, but did see what I think is a bank bag like Sam used, it was behind the bar near a register.
I might need more time with her after I talk to Belinda. Where can she hang out away from everyone else? Make it look like she left when done? She has her purse so that would work. When ready have Pam bring Belinda and take L to wherever if she can. Hope the Berts are behaving.
Eric thought quickly. His and Pam’s offices were the only dependably private places on the main floor, and it was unlikely he or Pam would be able to sneak the girl down to the basement where she could be hidden in a mostly empty… Pam’s van. He didn’t know if the girl drove herself or rode with someone, but that van was roomy. She could glamour the girl to nap in the backseat if needed. He quickly texted his child.
Three minutes later – he guessed she’d had to reinstall the seat or something – he listened as she led Belinda to Sookie and then led Lila out the back door.
Belinda proved far less compliant than Ginger and Lila. When she started loudly mouthing off at Sookie and refusing to sit down, Eric and, to his surprise, Pam both blurred into the office.
Pam calmly wrapped her hand around the girl’s throat, hauled her away from the desk where she was leaning down in Sookie’s face, and slammed her into the chair. While she kept a firm hand on the girl’s shoulder to keep her in the chair, Eric trapped Belinda with a fist on each of the chair’s arms.
He captured the girl’s gaze and ordered with a snarl, “You will cooperate with Sookie. You will answer her questions honestly and you will think about your answers before you respond.”
Now understandably terrified, Belinda nodded rapidly.
Eric moved out of the way so that he wouldn’t be in Sookie’s line of sight with the girl and stood guard near the door. To his pleased surprise, Pam maintained a firm hand on the girl’s shoulder.
When he looked at her hand then raised a brow, she rolled her eyes and shrugged negligently.
He had to grin.
His child’s emotions had revealed her extreme displeasure with the girl’s rude behavior toward Sookie and he currently sensed a nice wave of protectiveness…
Is my darling Pammy finally softening with the passing years? Well…she does know how important she is to our future, especially mine…which like access to my wealth is hers, too, of course…but perhaps she’s developing an actual fondness…
“So, Belinda,” Sookie began as if nothing untoward had happened, “do you like working here?”
As Eric had instructed, the girl thought about her answer before she gave it. Although Sookie maintained a neutral expression, he could easily sense her rising anger and disgust.
“Mostly,” Belinda finally replied as she studied her hands.
“Well, do you know what the purpose behind this interview is?” Sookie waited until the girl shook her head before continuing, “It’s to make sure things are the way they should be. Fangtasia’s owners care about their employees and…”
“Then why don’t they stop…” Belinda blurted before suddenly snapping her mouth shut.
“Stop what?” Eric’s demand resulted in Belinda shaking her head again even more rapidly.
“Hang on, Eric,” Sookie whispered as she stared intently at the girl.
As she did so, she grabbed the pen and wrote furiously on the notepad, writing so much that she eventually had to turn the page and kept going.
Finally she asked, obviously maintaining the appearance of the meeting’s objective, “Ok, so, if it were up to you, what could Eric and Pam do to make this a better place to work?”
As glamoured, the girl appeared to think for a moment before answering, “Well, I’d like better break schedules, a pay raise, and another server on the floor. The health benefits and flexible schedule are great, though.”
Eric mentally preened at Sookie’s burst of surprise over the fact his employees had health plans.
With a nod and a smile, Sookie proceeded to slowly write and send Eric a message via the laptop.
I saw a lot in her head that you need to know about, but for now she can go. Pam can glamour her later to forget everything about LS. Oh, and glamour her to go back to school, too. Can I get Lila back in here?
Eric showed Pam the message. She raised her brows but escorted Belinda from the building and roused Lila and brought her back to her office.
Once a sleepy but still cooperative Lila had taken her seat, he watched as Sookie looked straight at the girl and said simply, “Long Shadow, money.”
Lila looked at Sookie with curious confusion but then her face relaxed as if…
Does she realize that Sookie is…could she know? Sookie said people can’t tell when… But then I think this one works part-time while attending classes…smart…could have figured it out, maybe? Who knows…humans confuse me. They drive in parkways and park in driveways…need to regravel, maybe even pave, Sookie’s…wonder if the spider misses me…
Sookie nodded somewhat absently, then sent another message which Eric showed to Pam who acted accordingly.
Once her mission – escorting Lila to the car she’d driven to the meeting then glamouring the meeting from her mind as she’d done with Belinda – was completed, she returned to her office.
Sigebert and Wybert approached her as she opened the door.
Sookie heard this and shook her head at Eric. Before he could stop her, she called both brothers into the room and to Eric’s pride and humor, pronounced their names correctly.
He knew that was a big thing with the walking mountains.
When they entered Pam’s office, instead of looking to Eric as vampire protocol demanded, they looked instead to Sookie.
“Could you guys hang out here for a little while longer? I’m tryin’ to figure somethin’ out and honestly, y’all might come in handy…unless you’re in a hurry to get back home?”
Good call… Ohh, nice touch there at the end…
The brothers looked at her for a long moment then looked at each other. After exchanging glances, Wybert sniffed…then sniffed again.
Both looked at Eric…and then back to Sookie, who remained relaxed and apparently unconcerned in her seat behind Pam’s desk.
Fuck… Fuck… Fuck… I should have known…
Eric tensed. The small confines of Pam’s office combined with the time she’d spent in that small office had drastically increased the likelihood of a vampire scenting his blood in Sookie. He had given her that extra dose as a precaution against the vampires on his staff – especially Long Shadow – taking too much of an interest in her sweet scent but hadn’t thought she would be this close to…
“What you need?” Sigebert’s blunt question surprised Eric. He’d been sure the queen’s children would have questioned why his blood was in the telepath they’d obviously heard about enough to recognize her same.
Sookie nodded to Eric who took that as his cue. “He can explain it better than I could, but I’d feel better if you guys…,” she let her voice trail off before she shook her head and pointedly turned to face Eric.
“I have a thief to expose, one who has stolen over $60,000.” The brothers both growled and dropped fang. “Once I finish acquiring proof, I will demand repayment from his Maker. Depending on how that conversation goes, I will then turn him over to the Magister, possibly but unlikely his Maker as I don’t expect to recoup the missing money, or…,” his voice trailed off as he indicated the massive brothers. “I hope to accomplish this tonight.”
The brothers studied Eric for a moment longer than his comfort liked, then exchanged glances.
Sigebert shrugged. “Hate thieves. Long drive back to New Orleans. Black hair drama-vampire in bar?”
“They disgust me,” Eric agreed. “I have a safe house here in Shreveport you are welcome to use. You will need to take blood with you, but that is not a problem.” Pam nodded. He knew that they still had some fresh human donor bags in the walk-in cooler. Pam could easily acquire more depending on how long she remained in the Area before leaving for Dallas. Given the presence of the Berts, he was inclined to strap her to the roof of the SUV and take her with them. “And yes, he is the thief.”
Wybert’s unexpected comment got the best of Sookie who, according to what Eric had felt through the bond, had understood the seriousness of the situation more than she’d let on.
She laughed, her eyes crinkling as she lightly blushed from the exertion.
When everyone looked at her, she shrugged. “Well, he’s right – Long Shadow really is a weird one. You’ve seen how seriously mysterious he tries to act! He and, what’s her name…that Lorena you guys brought in? Yeah, they’d make a scary-awesome couple. They’d totally spend their nights trying to out-drama each other.”
This time when she started laughing, to Eric’s shock, a moment later both brothers joined in. Even to his ears their laughter sounded rusty as though neither had done such a thing in far too long.
“Long and Lorena Shadow!”
When Sigebert looked at Wybert, they both laughed even harder.
Pam fell next, either the idea of Lorena and Long Shadow together or the sight of the mountainous Berts chortling away being too much for her normally somewhat bitchy attitude to withstand.
As great – sometimes booming – bursts of amusement filled the room, he found it all too contagious to resist, so he joined in. The sight of Pam discreetly wiping away a red tear made him laugh even harder.
I guess everyone needs a break from the serious business of being a vampire once in a while…
**Ok, now ya see why this stopped when it did… After apx. 11,623 words, I figured it was time. And yes, it’s a tiny bit cliffie-ish, but not too bad, right? The FLM assures me that this mythical Godric she keeps dangling under my nose will actually appear in the next Part, but she’s led me astray before, so who knows. At this point, I’m just writing what she and Eric tell me to. So, what did you think?**