As I drive away from Sookie’s home I’m still smiling. I love to tease her so and surprisingly, she takes it in good humour. The car Julio loaned me bumps and jerks along her driveway; she really should have this fixed up. The works on her house have been extensive, but she has little or no furniture, I doubt there will be anywhere near enough left from her Dallas payment to replace that monstrosity with a quality surfacing.
There isn’t long before dawn, I make my calls and leave the Toyota in the car park at Fangtasia. Taking to the sky, I head for my nearest safe house, I almost didn’t make it. The purple hue of sunrise on the clouds was evident as I opened the door and made my way to my bedroom. Before day-death took me I hoped Sookie was ready to perform her role of ‘ex-telepath’.
I haven’t been able to work properly wonderin’ what Sookie has gotten herself into. Sure she says she’s fine after bein’ shot with an arrow, but who the hell would be ‘fine’ after that shit! I had once again taken the set-up shift so I could have the night off to spend with Franklin. Our second date was amazing, he took me to casino in Bossier City for gambling, drinks and a little dancing and at the end of the night he pulled me to him for a goodbye kiss. Kissing a vampire is … interesting, besides the whole cold mouth and tongue thing there’s the fangs that appear when the intensity kicks in. I shake my head and go back to stocking the fridge with beers, behind me I hear someone come in and pull out a stool at the bar.
“Be right with ya.”
“Oh no hurry!” I’ve heard that tinkly voice before somewhere; I turn and see that the girl from Dillard’s has paid me a visit.
“Hey … Claudia, right?”
“Almost! What can I getcha?”
“Can I have a sweet tea with no lemon?”
“Sure thing. What brings you to Bon Temps?”
“Just passing through, well passing by, but when I saw the turnoff I thought I’d pop in and say hello!”
I hand over the drink and there’s an uncomfortable ‘don’t know what to say to each other’ moment. I see her looking around the bar and settling her eyes on the message board Sam keeps behind the bar. It’s full of photos of the staff and regulars at Merlotte’s. She walks over to it and points to Sookie
“Who’s this pretty girl?”
“That’s Sookie, my roommate. Well not right now, there was a problem with her house and she has to get it fixed up so she’s stayin’ at her boyfriends place and I’m at my Mom’s until the work is done.”
Claudine nodded and I’m sure she wanted to ask more but the door opened again and I had customers.
I was having another Eric dream, a sexy one this time. He had ties me to a bed with red satin sheets and was kissing and licking me all over. Then it changed, he was riding on a trailer attached to a tractor that was driving around my yard – playing a drum kit. My eyes opened and the tractor/drum kit noise was still there. I wandered over to the window and peeked out to find one group of workmen packing up their stuff and another heading up the drive.
I was still in my clothes from the day before, but I went to the door and opened it to find a middle-aged man about to pin a note to it.
“Can I help you?”
“Uh … I was told to try not to disturb you. This is for you.”
He handed me the piece of paper. It was an invoice for a new driveway – fully paid! What the? I didn’t order a new driveway! I looked at what they had done, it was beautiful and it set off the new siding on the house perfectly.
“Who paid for this?”
“Mr. Northman Ma’am.”
“Yeah it would be wouldn’t it?” I muttered, he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be ecstatic. “Thank you, it’s very nice.”
He nodded, a little confused, and walked off to join his crew so they could leave. One of Alcide’s guys ran over, his crew mates were unloading pots of paint, ladders and other sundries from the back of a truck.
“Hi there Miss Stackhouse. Didn’t expect to see you here so early!”
“I stayed here last night.”
“Oh” I could tell he was thinking ‘why would she want to stay in there’, he was right. All of a sudden Eric buying me a new driveway made me relieved seeing as I would have refurnish most of the house. Then I realised I wasn’t supposed to know what people were thinking anymore.
I made my excuses and ran across the cemetery to Bill’s house. I needed to go to Merlotte’s today, Tara is sure to be extremely pissed off, and all my uniforms are there. Even if they weren’t I’d be very uncomfortable having a shower in a house full of strange men. If they were painting today then that means they’re almost done. I get cleaned up, dressed and grab a cereal bar from Bill’s kitchen to eat on the way to the bar. I throw my purse in the drawer and put my apron on, ready to weather the storm.
I soon as I step into the bar Tara threw herself at me, tackling me in a ‘stop, I need to breathe’ hug.
“Sook! Fuck girl!” She let me go and stepped back, patting me on the face, shoulders and ribs “Why are you here? You seem fine! How did you get better so quick?”
Her mind was going a mile a minute. I never realised how much I actually used my telepathy, if I was going to try and make people believe I had lost my curse now was the time to set it up. I set a confused look on my face and placed my hands on Tara’s head, closing my eyes and making like I was concentrating so hard my ears might bleed. I looked back at Tara with tears in my eyes and ran back to Sam’s office. I tried to work out what my reaction should be, a few months ago, before Bill walked in here, I would have liked nothing better than to be normal but now that I’d helped a few people I was starting to embrace my differences. Tara didn’t know that though, so my reaction should be elation at not having to block people out anymore.
“Sookie? Girl what’s wrong?”
“Oh Tara! It’s the most amazing thing! Apart from the arrow, there was another … incident. A very horrible one but it’s had the most wonderful outcome!”
“Outcome? What the hell are you talkin’ about Sook?”
“I can’t read you Tara! It’s so quiet. My … quirk. It’s gone!”
“Well shit!” she laughed “Now you’re just like the rest of us shug!”
I laughed with her and we hugged tightly. Bill thinks that I’d never lie to Tara; truth was, before I met him I wouldn’t have. I felt like pond scum for lying to me best friend but it was the best way to make this act work and protect her. We went back out to the bar and I was filled in on everything that had happened while I was gone, the waitresses from Fangtasia had been very helpful, they worked hard and brought more of the local boys in. Sam was due back in two days, I excused myself to go and look over the books to find that I was the first person to bother with it; I had to get that fixed before Sam came home.
I had been pouring over the ledgers for 4 hours when Tara came back to tell me I had a visitor. I checked the time; sunset wasn’t for a few hours yet and if it was Alcide Tara would have told me. I walked out front and saw a pale man with brown hair dressed in a suit and holding a briefcase. I pointed to him and Tara nodded.
I don’t know why the master would have me come out here to this dump just to drop off a note. Ah! He worked for Eric.
“Hi, I’m Sookie Stackhouse. Were you looking for me?”
“Yes. This is for you.” He handed me an envelope. Why the hell is he so interested in a waitress? Probably some fangbanger trying to get his money. “And here’s my card, I was told to give you my details.”
“Uh … thank you Mr …” I looked at the card “Burnham.”
He nodded and walked out, making sure to look down his nose at everyone on the way there. Tara asked me who he was and I had to shrug, she was going to have to get used to me not knowing everything as much I was going to have to get used to acting like I didn’t know. I went back to the office and opened the envelope
I hope this note finds you in normal functioning order. Come to Fangtasia at 10pm this evening, come straight to my office – the door will be unlocked for you. I’m sure you can’t wait to tell me how Jackson affected your life and I expect I will hear your many complaints before I can even greet you.
P.S I hope you liked the driveway. Consider it a gift for the hardship you encountered while away.
What the hell kind of note was that? I read it three times. He thinks I might forget about the ‘traumatic telepathy loss’ plan, but there’s something else. When he says ‘expect’ does he mean I should just barge into his office yelling at him about my lack of mind reading? The only reason for that would be if someone was in the office with him. I get it; he wants me to put on a show? Well a show he’ll get! I doubt it will be one he’s planning on though.
When I rise I am anxious. Eric had told me that the Queen demanded my presence in New Orleans as soon as I was able. There was no way I could present Sookie to her without force and Sophie-Ann didn’t want her to be forced into her court as it would be harder to break her will and make her remain there. My only hope for leniency would be the database; I called the reception to arrange a car and made my way back to Bon Temps.
I was stopped for speeding 3 times but got back to that dump of a house and found my BMW sitting outside. I ran to the graveyard and dug up the safe. Where the fuck is it?! The only other person who knows is that brat child Jessica, I’ll kill her! I smell the air and follow her scent into the living room where she’s sitting calmly on the sofa. I grab her by the neck and pin her to the wall
“Where is the hard drive Jessica?”
“They told me we could all die I had to…”
“As your maker I command you to tell me who has the hard drive.”
“Pam took it. Eric called earlier; you need to go to Fangtasia. He said to be there around 10pm. Sherriff’s orders.”
I threw her across the room and watched her slump onto the floor. Huh! Broken neck, she’ll heal soon enough. Shit, 9.30, if I don’t show at Fangtasia it’ll give Eric an excuse to look for me again and the less he finds out about my projects the better. Plus I can find out where that bitch Pam put my database. I don’t mind them knowing about that, everyone will in a few months. It’s Sookie I don’t want him to know about, he has no idea that his chasing her is futile. Once I gain her forgiveness we’ll go to the Queen and she’ll be kept in the residence for me to enjoy her blood whenever I need a fix, who knows maybe I’ll even miss talking to her every once in a while.
I turn the hard drive around in my hands wondering why he has the information of hundreds of vampires in one place. This is obviously one of his projects, the details on it would make finding out about vampires who enter my area so much easier. That would really be its only positive use. Pam was surly as she handed it over to me earlier, obviously pissed off that her task for the evening is glamouring a hospital stay out of the Queen’s pet and sending her back to New Orleans. At least Jessica was turning out to be more useful, her torture seemed to wake her up a little after the incidents with the truckers. She demanded payment for gathering Hadley’s things and bringing them to the club, a fair request which I met. Seeking independence was an important step for a newborn.
9.50pm, time to call the Queen with the results of my trip. The Queen had just answered and I was informing her that Compton had been retrieved and was expected in my office any time now when Sookie burst through the door wearing the Champagne silk cocktail dress I had given her for the Jackson trip. I pushed the ‘speakerphone’ button and waited for things to unfold.
“Eric! The most amazing thing has happened!”
This is not how this should go, she’s supposed to be broken, depressed, traumatised “And what would that be Miss Stackhouse?”
Is that Sookie Stackhouse in the office with you Sherriff Northman?
“Oh! I’m sorry Eric; I didn’t know you were on a call!”
It’s fine Miss Stackhouse. I find myself interested in knowing what this amazing thing is.
“Indeed. Please indulge us Sookie.”
“I can’t hear people! It’s so wonderful, all my life I wanted to be normal and now I am!”
“You’ve lost your telepathy?”
How did this happen? When?
“Excuse me but I’m not sure you have the right to ask those questions until I know who I’m talking to!” If the Queen was in the room instead of on the phone I would have been concerned for Sookie’s life.
You are speaking with Sophie-Ann LeClerq and you will mind your tongue human!
“Hadley’s Sophie-Ann?” she looked at me and I nodded
Yes, but we’ll speak about her later. Tell me how you lost your telepathy.
“Well after Bill attacked and almost drained me …”
“He attacked me, because I smelled like Eric but that was because he had to hold onto me when we flew. Anyway, my body must have reacted to the trauma on a psychological and neurological level and now I’m free!”
“Free?” Oh no pet, you don’t get away that easy.
“Yes, free. Having to block out what people are thinking is a burden, now I don’t have to. I’m free.”
Are you sure?
“Of course I’m sure! I think I’d know whether peoples thoughts were invading my brain or not!”
The door opens and in strolls Compton “Ah! Billy! Sookie here was just informing us of the unfortunate result of your jealous rage.”
“Sookie, I was not myself. I had been tortured and starved. I know I have hurt you but we can get through this …”
That isn’t what Northman was referring to William.
“I won’t listen to your excuses either Bill! You were yourself enough to be fucking like bunnies with your maker and don’t pretend that you weren’t – you were heard. I’m glad you think I’m nothing because now I don’t feel guilty for telling you to shove your engagement ring up your pale dead ass!”
For fuck sakes Compton! I’ve heard enough! Wrap things up there ASAP and get down to New Orleans – tonight!
The Queen hangs up and Bill looks lost? No, he’s calculating, thinking, planning.
“Sookie, she was my maker, I had to obey … Sookie I love you!” Oh this is too good! He’s going to try and pull that on her?
“No Bill. I get that they can make you do things, but they can’t make you enjoy it and they can’t make you say things you don’t mean. I also doubt that your maker could command you to attack me and almost drain me while she was fighting with Eric! I suppose I should thank you for that though, after all it’s the trauma of you ripping at my neck that made me lose my telepathy.”
He was stunned, opening and closing his mouth like a guppy.
“Well maybe it will come back!” He tore into his wrist and held it out “Here, take my blood, maybe it will help return your gift.”
“What! No! I don’t want it back and I don’t want your blood! If you really loved me then it shouldn’t matter!”
And guppy makes another appearance – wrong answer Billy boy “It … it doesn’t matter. I love you with or without your gift!”
“Well your hesitation says different. I don’t want to talk to you anymore, not tonight, but I have lots of questions that you need to answer Bill.” She turns to leave but I gently put a hand on her arm
“Sookie, could you wait in my booth, I’d like to speak with you.”
She nods hesitantly and I’m left alone with Compton. I send Chow a text to make sure that no-one bothers Sookie seeing as Pam isn’t back yet, then pick up the hard drive I had been playing with earlier.
“That is my personal property Eric!”
“Mmm … yes. It’s very interesting, is this one of your projects?”
“You know nothing about my ‘projects’ and it is not your business to ask about them.”
“On the contrary. The Queen told me you were working on a couple of things for her and that is why she ordered me to find you and bring you back to Louisiana.” He looked shocked at that, good. “You realise this particular project would be disastrous if it fell into the wrong hands.”
“It won’t.” He reached for the drive and pulled it further away from him “Eric I need to have it on my person when I see the Queen.”
“Yes.” I handed it to him “If I ever hear of this being used against vampires anywhere I will hold you responsible – clear?”
“Crystal.” The idiot has the audacity to sneer at me.
“You may leave.” He stood and turned to the door “Such a shame Sookie rejected your proposal; it was such a pretty ring too. Very special, almost enchanting.” I looked at him pointedly and noticed the fear in his eyes. That’s right Billy boy, if I can work it out within 2 months of you entering my area Sookie will put two and two together eventually.
I had so many things to ask Bill. Why did he put a spell on the ring? Was there any other reason for him coming to Bon Temps other than mainstreaming? Why doesn’t he work to earn money like other vampires? Why does he say he’s mainstreaming then do vampire shit and make me feel guilty for pointing it out? Why doesn’t he want to let me speak my mind? Why is he so damn possessive? Arrgh!
There was no point in asking him anything when he’d only try to make excuses for taking up with his maker again. He seemed to think ‘I love you’ was a magic forgiveness phrase, if I was honest with myself it had been in the past. Not telling me about Jessica, Uncle Bartlett, all those other things that I found disconcerting – he had said ‘I love you’ and spoke about how I didn’t understand he was a vampire and I forgave him without question. Hell I even felt guilty about doubting him. Now I’d seen his monster, I didn’t need to doubt – he was not the Southern Gentleman he advertised himself as.
I was brought out of my musing by someone clearing their throat across from me; I didn’t even know they had sat down. It was the dancer from last week, her head was full of a strange language but I didn’t need to speak it to know she was very angry.
“Who are you? You have no right to be here.” She waved around the booth.
“My name is Sookie Stackhouse and Eric asked me to wait here for him. We have some business to finish.” Her eyes flashed when I said my name and she sneered at me, slapping both hands on the table
“Sookie?” one of her hands balled into a fist “Your business with Eric is done, you leave now!”
“Look lady, I don’t know what your problem is” I knew exactly what her problem was – she thought I wanted Eric and he was hers “Eric told me to wait – so I’m waiting. You’re just gonna have to deal with that!” I swear she actually snarled! Then she drew her hand back to slap me but it was caught by a larger, more male hand
“Leave. Now.” It was Eric, she smirked at me and I looked around the club. Everyone was staring, Bill was near the entrance looking … defeated? I looked at Eric and he was staring at the dancer
“Yvetta. Leave now.”
She was more than shocked, she was sure he had been talking to me. With a final stab of hate from her mind, which I barely managed to conceal, she stormed off pulling out her cell as she headed for the door. Eric took her place across from me and tilted his head to the side a little
“Are you well?”
“As well as I can be under the circumstances.” I turned my head in the direction the dancer took off in “You know she’s a psycho right?”
“Mmm … yes. Yvetta has become rather … attached to me. Her behaviour is becoming more worrisome, although since I had to prevent her from assaulting a visitor to the club I can fire her.”
Great, then not only would she think I had stolen her ‘man’ she’d think I’d lost her her job too. We played up the ‘ex-telepath’ thing for a while in front of all the other vampires, I asked about Hadley and Eric told me she had been sent back to New Orleans. I was glad about that; I just don’t think I could deal with her on top of everything else.
“Oh! I almost forgot! Thank you for my driveway. I was planning on getting it redone with my Dallas money but when I saw how much furniture I need I figured it would have to wait. It’s a bit much, for a gift, but it’s not like I can take it to the store and return it.”
“I am only doing what Bill should have done.”
“I told you. I’m not a kept woman!”
“I have no idea what a ‘kept woman’ is but ensuring the human you claim as your own is comfortable is a vampire thing. A cared for and happy pet is a tasty and obedient pet.” He smirked at me “Many humans over the years have desired for me to claim them as my own simply for the financial benefits. You took care of Bill’s needs yet he didn’t take care of yours.”
“The only person I would expect to help me financially would be my husband. I refuse to be comparable to a pet!”
“That’s something I like about you Sookie, you’re not frivolous. I am … pleased you like the driveway because it is something you need.”
“But I haven’t given you anything you need.” As soon as it was out of my mouth I wished I could grab it and stuff it back down my throat
I huffed “Are we done here?” He nodded, so I got up and was about to walk away when his voice stopped me
“That dress looks as good on you as I thought it would Sookie.”
I smiled and thanked him again before getting in my Nova and going back home.
I couldn’t believe my luck when I found that dancer, Yvetta. I’d been looking for a way to sneak myself into Northman’s business for a while, now I had my back-up I could arrange a little … negotiation meeting. If my offer is refused I simply send in the spell-rigged mole to take him down a peg or two.
The poor girl was convinced he loved her, maybe she’s right, maybe she’s a complete whacko. Either way it’ll work out good for me. Poor Northman, it doesn’t matter which woman he scorns he’ll feel the wrath. My cell rings, oh! Speak of the devil. Yvetta is upset and wants to move quickly on the ‘love spell’, I ask her if there is another woman involved but she says ‘no’. She better be telling the truth, if he has any affection for another it will fuck things up beyond belief.