It was hard getting back into a routine after being away and back then away again, not being in my own home, my home being destroyed and fixed, my fiancé tricking me and betraying me. My head was a mess but I noticed my shields were holding up better than ever after Eric’s blood, which came in handy seeing as I had supposedly lost my disability. I hadn’t seen Bill since he left Fangtasia three nights ago, but Jessica came by the next night and told me she had been called by him to go down to New Orleans. It was uncomfortable seeing as I was the one who tattled on her night time activities to Eric.
I managed to pin Jason down long enough for him to help me get some furniture back to my house in the back of his truck. Between building flat pack beds and drawers, shopping for new bedding and trying to make up my hours at Merlotte’s I was plain tuckered out. The night before Sam came home I thanked the Fangtasia waitresses for their help and asked them to pass on the thanks of all the staff at Merlotte’s to Eric, Mr. Northman, their Master, whatever it was they called him. They had enjoyed their time here but would be happy to get back to the vampire bar as the tips were bigger.
Tara wasted no time at all in cornering me about my adventures in Jackson; she was still staying with her Mom but was coming over to help me get my place in order. I told her all about Bill being taken, the ring being enchanted, Alcide taking me to the club so I could try to ‘hear’ where Bill was. I left out the fact I had taken blood from Eric to heal after the arrow and didn’t go into too much detail about anything else that happened at Russell Edgington’s mansion. She was angry enough at the enchanted ring and Bill sleeping with his maker that I also left out that Bill had almost drained me in a jealous rage and instead implied that I’d bumped my head really hard during the fight to bring Bill back to Louisiana.
Sam had been welcomed back heartily, we hadn’t really had much time just the two of us for me to ask how things went with finding his family but I gathered from snippets that he had found some relatives. Judging by his moods they either weren’t happy that he found them or he wasn’t impressed to be related to them. He was pleasantly surprised at how orderly things were in the bar, especially when he found out that I’d left town for a few days, he wasn’t at all happy about Eric loaning him waitresses as he thought that he’d owe Eric a favour until I pointed out that I was the one that owed Eric not him – the realisation of that made me feel a little nauseous, maybe I should call him and arrange to get whatever favour he wanted over and done with?
A few people had asked me where Bill was; I shrugged and told them we’d broke up so I didn’t know where he had gone to. Hoyt was still in touch with Jessica and took me aside to let me know that he’d been sent abroad to work on some project, I was kind of past caring by this point, all of the questions I had for him had been written down and put in an old shoe box where I kept the engagement ring and some other mementoes. Hoyt was excited because Jessica was coming back to Bon Temps and would be living in Bill’s old house; he was hoping she’d be able to come home before Saturday so he could take her on a date. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the fact that I’d still have a vampire living across the graveyard from me, but forced myself to stay optimistic.
As I made my way to the Queen’s residence I called Jessica through the maker/child bond and hoped she would be healed enough to join me in NO the next night. I didn’t care for being a maker, but Sophie-Ann did, she had many children and I hoped that whatever fate she had planned for me, she would take my maker status into account. After seeing Sookie I could feel her blood calling to me, I wondered, if I should ever return to Bon Temps, whether we could work things out and she would once again let me feed from her. I stood in front of my Queen and bowed deeply
“Compton you look like shit.”
“Well I have been held against my will and starved your Majesty.”
“Bull. You drank enough from the telepath to almost drain her. You look the same as Hadley did when I found her. You’re addicted.”
“Addicted?” I knew I was but perhaps if I played dumb the Queen might explain it more.
“Fairy blood. It’s like crack for vampires, some have a little and feel no lasting effects others – like you – get a taste and need more and more every time.”
“Sookie is part Fae?” I looked at Sookie’s cousin Hadley with her dumbass grin and felt myself salivating.
“No you can’t have Hadley before you even think about asking. This is good; it makes your punishment for epically failing one of your projects has a double purpose.”
“Your Majesty, I have called my child here to join me…”
“Yes, yes, don’t worry about her; she’ll be taken care of in your absence.”
“The computer project, I’m sending you to catalogue a reclusive nest in Peru. It might take you a while to get close enough to them to talk to them but it’ll be good rehab for you.”
“Peru? I thought we were concentrating on the United States before moving on to other …”
“That was before I realised you were the wrong man for the main project. Sookie has supposedly lost her mind reading due to your inability to control your urges however that is something you need not concern yourself with, I’ll be dealing with that soon. I’ll send a car to pick up your child and bring her here” she handed me an airline ticket “You can go now.”
Knowing there’s no point talking to the Queen once you’ve been dismissed, I take the tickets and mentally prepare myself for infiltrating a nest full of probably un-noteworthy vampires who live in the dirt and feed from wild boar.
I had managed to drag myself to the fridge and drank the whole four pack of Truebloods cold, they made me gag but I knew I needed it to fix my neck. Bill was a crappy maker, I don’t know what happened to him when he was away but it had pissed him off something fierce. I went to rest early in the hope I’d be back to full strength by the time I rose the next night. I felt Bill’s call just as I was about to die, fuck him, he can wait.
My neck was killing me when I came alive; I crawled out of the light tight space and saw the red light blinking on the answering machine
Jessica Hamby, child of Bill Compton, you have been summoned to the court of Queen Sophie-Ann LeClerq. A car will arrive for you at 9pm on Wednesday night at the Compton residence. Attendance is not optional.
Nice. The next message was Bill telling me I was to go and see the Queen and that he was being sent away for a special project, he didn’t say where exactly. I wondered if Sookie knew he was sent away, so I ran across the graveyard to see if she was home. There was all sorts of banging and thumping coming from inside. Hmm … maybe she tossed Bill aside and had a new boyfriend? That would explain why he was so angry. She answered the door with a screwdriver in her hand and Tara appeared behind her with a mallet and a bunch of wooden dowels between her lips.
“Oh Jess! Are you okay? I was so worried about you!”
“Uh … I’m fine. I have ta go to New Orleans, Bill’s been sent …”
“I don’t really care where Bill is, unless he turns up on my doorstep sayin’ he’ll give me the God’s honest truth whatever I ask him, he can rot.”
“Okaaaay. Well I don’t know when I’ll be back, if I’ll be back, so I wanted to say …”
“I’m sorry I told Eric about you comin’ home all … y’know. I hope they weren’t too hard on you.”
“That was you? Well thank you do-gooder Sookie! I’m outta here!”
I raced back home, away from the back-stabbing bitch to pack some of my things. She just can’t keep her fucking nose out of other people’s business!
Three nights. Three fucking nights and I was still thinking about her in that dress. I could feel her more than ever since I gave her my blood in Jackson, no matter what I tried to distract myself with she was there buzzing around in the background. As if having Sookie on my mind wasn’t bad enough, Yvetta was still annoying the shit out of me. She’d begged my forgiveness after almost slapping Sookie and gave me a top 10 lap dance followed by a top 20 blow job, I was regretting not firing her already and it hadn’t even been 48 hours. She wasn’t flirting with the customers and had cornered 3 fangbangers in the ladies toilet to warn them from approaching me, Pam was almost as annoyed as I was.
“Master, she’s going to be a big problem. If women think they’ll be threatened if they come here to see you they won’t come to drink here.”
“I’m aware; let her dig her own hole. We’ll give her until Friday, we should have plenty of incidents to rationalise firing her by then. The last thing I need is an unfair dismissal claim.”
“I don’t know why you won’t glamour her.”
“Because she’s close to becoming another Ginger and you know why we have to keep her around. If our former employees end up practically brain dead it will draw negative attention.”
I watch as Yvetta makes her way towards another woman at the bar and has a heated exchange of words with her. I ask Pam to close in and eavesdrop on them but notice the woman make her way towards Pam, intercepting her halfway to my throne. Pam is curious but indignant; I wonder what our mystery woman had to say to her. She turns to me and indicates for me to go to the office and with a few more words, sends the woman on her way. I enter my office to find the Queen’s most beloved child sitting in my chair
“Andre. I was not informed of your visit. I hope you have not been waiting too long?”
“A while. I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“You have succeeded.” I turned to find Pam wide eyed behind me “Pam whatever you have to report can wait until I have finished here.” She nodded and left us “So Andre, what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”
“Your broken asset, have you tested to make sure she really is broken?”
“Miss Stackhouse has had an eventful week, I was planning to invite her to the club and test her reactions to the crowd after a suitable amount of time had passed.”
“Ah! Clever – let her think you believe her for a time then rattle her cage a little!”
“Something like that.”
“The Queen doesn’t have time for that, nor does she care what kind of week the telepath has had. You are required to present your asset at the royal residence on Friday, two nights from now.” Shit “You will report on the exact circumstances of the loss of her gift, and she will be questioned in a room full of human donors but she is not to be informed of this.”
“I will ensure she attends. Is that all?”
“For now. I will see you on Friday.” Fuck. I doubted a call from me would put Sookie in any level of good mood; maybe I’d be best going to see her. She couldn’t hang up on me. It has nothing to do with actually seeing her. Nothing.
If I was inclined to facial expressions, the frizzy haired woman Yvetta was talking to would have known she’d caught me off guard by approaching me. I’d seen her here before, she was a were of some kind, but she also smelled of magic. I wondered if she was a friend or relative of Yvetta’s, they seemed know each other fairly well.
“Are you the one they call Pam?”
“Yes. What do you want?”
“A meeting. I have a proposition for Mr. Northman; he is the owner of the club is he not?”
“Part-owner, I am the other part. What is it you propose?” I caught Eric’s attention to let him know we needed to talk about this in private.
“That is something I will only speak to Mr. Northman about. Here is my card, I expect him to call later tonight and arrange a meeting. As you are no doubt aware I am a user of magic, you don’t want to disappoint me.”
I took the card and watched as she walked away from me, to say I was angry would have been an understatement. I was hoping Eric and I would be able to formulate a plan where I can rend her head from her neck only to find him in his office with Andre, the Queen’s lieutenant. What the fuck is he doing here? I am dismissed, which was to be expected, and decide to speak to Yvetta about this badly styled woman with a proposal for my Master. I click my fingers at her to get her attention and motion for her to follow me into the rear hallway
“Who is this” I check the card “Hallow that you have been speaking with?”
“She is a friend Mistress Pam.”
“How did you meet her?”
“Around.” I grab her by the neck and press her to the wall. If their friendship was innocent the whore wouldn’t need to be so ambiguous.
“I ask you again. How did she insert herself into your life?”
“Sh … she comforted me when I was crying once. She knew it was Eric who upset me.”
I warned her to refer to Eric as Master at all times then let her go and told her to get back to work. So this Hallow befriended our stripper, possibly to get information on my Master and whatever Intel she has gleaned from the whore she may use as part of her ‘proposal’. Were’s don’t interfere in the business of vampires, witches don’t interfere in the business of vampires, but this Were who happens to be a witch has decided to poke her nose in, nothing good will come of this.
I head back to the office and can smell that Andre is gone; Eric is shrugging into his leather jacket
“Where are you off to?”
“I need to speak to Sookie.”
“The fucking telepath. Again? She can wait another 10 minutes while I tell you about Hallow.”
“Hallow? Is that the woman Yvetta was speaking with? The one who approached you?”
“Yes.” I hand him her card “She has a proposition for you and demands you call her tonight to arrange a meeting. She refused to speak to me about it.”
“I’ll call her on the way. Any meeting will have to wait until I return from New Orleans.”
I sigh unnecessarily and go back to watching the human’s parade like cattle. I missed hunting but feeding from unwilling humans was a minefield politically, and willing humans were very rarely fresh. I sometimes wonder why we even bothered to come out of the coffin.
I had finished collecting all of the things I left at Bill’s and was just pulling into my drive when I was blinded by lights in my rear view mirror. I stopped round the back of the house and left everything in the car while I ran up the porch steps and stepped over the threshold where I’d be safe if it were a vampire visitor. When I turned around Eric was smirking at me from where he was leaning against his gaudy red sports car.
“What’re you doing here Eric? You can’t use me anymore.”
“That’s actually part of why I am here. The Queen doesn’t believe you are … no longer able, she has summoned you to New Orleans on Friday night to speak with you directly about what happened.”
“What? No. I won’t go.”
“If you don’t let me escort you there, they will punish me and just send someone nastier who will care even less about your comfort.” He walked up the porch steps and carried on with his leaning against the rail.
“They’ll punish you? Why?”
“Because I have been allocated the task of taking you to her as you are … were my asset. If I cannot be seen to have a modicum of control over you, the Queen will doubt my abilities to control other areas of my dominion. I will be taught a lesson in how to keep things … people in line.”
“You’re lying. I don’t think you’ll be punished at all! But I take your point about her doubting your control over all of your … stuff or whatever and that they’ll send someone else to get me so I’ll go. I have to arrange to have Friday off; will we only be gone for the one night?”
“Hopefully. I’ll book a hotel room just in case we can’t make it back north before dawn. I’ll pick you up 45 minutes after sunset.”
“Okay.” My Gran would tan my hide if she saw how I was treating a visitor to our home. He didn’t have to come all the way out here to ask me that, he could have just called me. “I’d ask you in but I don’t have any Trueblood.”
He stepped closer to the door and smirked at me “That is fine, I prefer fresh anyway.”
“I didn’t mean it like that and you know it! Do you know about Bill?”
“Hmm … yes. Do you … miss him?”
“To be honest” I sighed “I’ve been too busy, working, building furniture, replacing stuff. Tara has been great and Jason too but he had a date tonight so my bed is still in pieces.”
“I can help.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I was human, we built our own beds, I can help you.”
I regarded him through narrow eyes, I could always rescind his invite again if he got fresh “Okay, you can come in Eric, but be aware – any dirty talkin’ and you’re back out understand?”
“Completely.” He made a beeline for my bedroom, which made me very concerned seeing as he’d never really been shown around the place. When he got to the door he turned and smiled at me “Scent.”
Ah! Okay well that wasn’t so bad. He took off his jacket and handed it to me; he was wearing one of those damned tight vests that hug him like a second skin. Don’t look! I shuffled into a corner to watch him work, first propping the mattress I’d had on the floor against a wall and then picking up the instructions for assembly, glancing at them and tossing them aside. I wasn’t sure if he’d read them at vampire speed and memorised them or whether he just figured he was above that kind of thing and didn’t need them. He turned and smirked at me again then moved faster than my eyes could keep track of all I could see was a blur and my bed taking shape before my eyes.
In less than ten minutes my bed was built, complete with mattress and the sheets I’d set on a chair in the corner were tucked and folded and my pillows plumped and wrapped in their cotton cases. I was about to open my mouth to thank him but all that escaped was a small squeak as I was lifted bridal style and deposited on top of the soft surface. Eric’s eyes were dark and his fangs were starting to peek out from his lips as he parted my knees and placed his thigh between them, moulding his body into mine. I made a futile attempt to push him away by placing my hands on his chest, but before I could actually do anything his mouth was on mine and I gave up whatever it was I had thought about doing.
I had never felt anything like it, I’ve been kissed before but this was more, this was deep, soul enriching kissing. I would guess that it would take as long as Eric has been a vampire to perfect the kiss that stops the world and as soon as his lips were gone I wanted them back. So much that I actually leaned forward for more. The bastard laughed
“I’ll see you on Friday Sookie.”
Then he was gone. I lay on my bed, touching my mouth with the tips of my fingers but also scared of ruining the tingling feeling that his kiss had left. The only thing that got me moving was a shadow at my window that I caught out of the corner of my eye but whatever was there was gone by the time I turned around.