Chapter 9 – Complications
I hadn’t really planned for my life to be like this, to be honest I didn’t really make many plans at all. I certainly didn’t plan on being a telepathic consultant for vampires who carried a small-frame revolver in her purse and could disable a human attacker with a few moves and a well placed stiletto heel but over the last couple of weeks this is what I’ve become.
My work at Merlotte’s and Gran’s house were the only links to the ‘old’ Sookie. I felt powerful, smart, strong and the whole town of Bon Temps was buzzing with the changes I had made, they didn’t say it out loud but their brains were going a mile a minute whenever I dropped my shields long enough to listen in.
The younger men were terrified I would take something they said the wrong way and shoot them or maybe even kick their ass or sic my vamp friends on them.
The older men thought it was a shame that such a sweet girl was fixin’ for a fight and hangin’ out with vamps.
The younger women were curious, they felt how empowered I was and wondered if they should follow my lead.
The older women were appalled that I had so little faith in the men of the town to protect me and that I should forget having a career and get to the important business of marrying and having babies like a good Southern girl should.
I was tidying my tables and making everything nice to hand over the Arlene when she came in to take over my section when Sam called me back to his office. He’d noticed the changes in me too, he was thinking about how sweet I was before I went on my ‘protect myself at all costs’ kick, and that he hoped I’d never become one of those hard women that doesn’t trust anyone. I hadn’t considered that before. I walked in his office and settled myself on the arm of the old sofa he had in the corner
“Hey Sam what did you want me for?”
“I was hopin’ you could help me out Chere, with your connections and all”
“So this is a vamp thing?”
“Yeah, we had a couple of real mean vamps in a few nights ago, Bill actually helped us out with them and managed to get them to leave without any physical damage being done but they’ve been causing no end of trouble elsewhere” I described the 3 vamps, Malcolm, Diane and Liam, that I’d met at Bill’s place and asked Sam if they were the troublemakers.
“Yep they’re the ones Sook, they’re in a nest in Monroe and making the locals real nervous. They’ve been glamouring good women and taking advantage, beating up the men folk trying to protect them, you and I know that’s illegal but there’s no proof to take to the cops”
“Oh my god Sam! That’s horrible!”
“Bill came in last night and I tried to warn him that the troops were rallying if you know what I mean” I knew what that meant, if you piss off enough rednecks they stop beating on each other and band together “he just laughed and said he’d try to get them to see reason” which meant he’d probably do nothing because he didn’t actually have any power in the area.
“I’m seeing Eric tonight, if anyone can try to control them a little then it’s their Sherriff”
“Thanks Sook, I was gonna call him myself but without human police being involved I’m not even sure if he’d take my call”
I nodded, vamps and the two-natured didn’t get on well but they’d work with each other if human laws were broken, circling the wagons if you will. I went home and showered, putting on a charcoal pencil skirt with a red fitted button down shirt and black pumps for my work at Fangtasia. I was enjoying working there more than I ever thought I would, it was fun working with Eric and Pam plus there was the fact that Eric usually came home with me and showed me a good time when they closed up for the night.
Bruce was in Eric’s office when I arrived, I recognised his brainwaves through the door before I even knocked, he looked kinda pale and sweaty as he watched Eric pour over the ledgers in front of him
Oh god, oh god, he’s gonna blame me, I’m gonna die
I smiled at the two drastically different men and walked behind Bruce, putting a hand on his shoulder to try and give him some comfort “it’s very well hidden, a lesser accountant might not even pick it up. This was well spotted Bruce”
The poor man almost fainted with relief as Eric smiled at him “Thank you Master Northman, will that be all?”
Bruce couldn’t wait to get out of there; I read that he didn’t want to be around for the investigation of a $60,000 loss. Eric closed up the books and nodded handing them back to the brown suited ball of nerves watching as the man scurried from the office. Eric leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers like he always does when he’s contemplating what to do next, I decided to make it easier for him
“I’ve read all the humans who handle the larger amounts of cash, I would have picked up if it was one of them”
“Who does that leave?”
“Myself, Pam and Longshadow”
“Who knows about the missing money?”
“Just you and me and of course Bruce” Well Eric wouldn’t steal from himself and try to cover it up; Pam would never go against Eric as he was her maker, that left Longshadow. “Sookie, go out to the bar for this evening and read the customers, the waitresses can wait until another time. Send Longshadow in and ask Pam to arrange another bartender”
“Of course, right away” this wasn’t going to be pretty, I walked out of the corridor where the staff rooms were into the bar, it was quiet but still early, I perched on a stool and waved to Longshadow “Mr. Northman would like to see you in his office” he nodded at me and when I saw him disappear into Eric’s office I went to the door where Pam was stationed “Hey Pam”
“Hello Sookie, you seem tense this evening has my Master not serviced you yet?”
“Umm no, not yet, wait that’s none of your beeswax Pam! Eric says you’ve to arrange another bartender” She frowned a little then nodded and took a tiny cell phone from inside her red leather corset and started texting furiously.
I went back inside and ordered a gin & tonic and spent 20 minutes walking around the club, eventually resting at a table between the dance floor and the bathrooms. I hadn’t been sitting long when Pam and 3 huge bouncers ran past me towards the corridor, Eric’s office door was wrenched open and there was a very nasty burning smell, I saw that it was emanating from Longshadow’s wrists; they were bound by silver chain. Eric appeared at the door taking off a pair or heavy leather gloves he said to 2 of the bouncers
“Escort him over the state lines to Arkansas, arrangements have been made with regard to shelter and transport”
I dropped my shields to listen to the buzzing of the human clientele, most of them were very excited to see Vampire justice doled out in front of their very eyes, many of them were calling and texting friends to relay what they had witnessed. They took Longshadow out the front door, purposefully to heighten the humiliation, but the excitement would increase alcohol sales and would also attract more people to the club – human nature was a little sickening like that, to them it was a show, entertainment, maybe they even thought it was all put on and acted out, times like this always reminded me of why vampires thought they were superior to humans.
A while later Eric and Pam left the office and Eric walked towards his usual booth, beckoning me over to him. I sat across from him “it’s quiet tonight, no-one’s thinking any bad thoughts but I guess that little show has occupied them”
“Unfortunate but necessary Dear One, Longshadow was stealing money to give to his maker Hot Rain to help him out of a tight spot, if he’d asked me I wouldn’t have had a problem giving the money to him but he chose to insult my intelligence and try my patience rather than give up a sliver of pride”
“What will happen to him now?”
“I contacted Hot Rain, Longshadow will be picked up when he crosses into another state and will go back to his maker, they have an extraordinarily close relationship. I have also contacted the Sherriff in Hot Rains area and advised him that they are not to be trusted. Theft is taken very seriously with vampires, we work hard for what we have and another vampire trying to help himself to it isn’t looked upon favourably.”
“You said they were close. Closer than you and Pam?”
“Much closer, they share a great affection as well as having physical relations”
“Did you and Pam… umm”
“Yes, when I first turned her, but we haven’t had sex for over 100 years, in case you didn’t notice I’m not really her type”
“Oh! Hey there was something I needed to talk to you about, seeing as you’re in Sherriff mode” Eric leaned forward interested in what on earth I could have to share that would have something to do with him being the Sherriff
“There’s these 3 mean vamps in Monroe, Malcolm, Diane and Liam, they’ve been into Merlotte’s harassing folks, they’ve been glamouring local women and using them and beating on the husbands and boyfriends that try to stop them” He leaned back and gripped the edge of the table with his long white fingers
“Bill managed to get them out of Merlotte’s but the locals have started to group together, they know where the nest is but Bill doesn’t seem to think any of that is important”
“Fucking Compton! Come with me Sookie” we went back to the office, Eric was on the phone before we even got through the door “I need a fix on a nest in Monroe, they’re unregistered in the area, I need them brought to me for punishment” he hangs up and dials again
“Compton, you idiot! I’ll speak to you however I like when you’re aware of vampires you socialise with making waves in my area and do not report it to me… I’ve sent a retrieval team to their nest, they will be punished as will you… the humans will find them and exact revenge for their arrogance… yes but they do know how to light a fucking fire you imbecile!”
“Let me guess, they weren’t really doing any harm, they were only raping and hurting stupid humans who can’t defend against the might of the vampires”
“Pretty much I’m afraid Sookie, they make my life so much harder as Sherriff, I’m going to have to spend the rest of my night making a report to send to the Queen regarding their idiocy and Compton’s disregard for the community he has chosen to live in. I’m no big fan of mainstreaming as you’re aware but antagonising humans is becoming a very dangerous pastime with the fellowship around, we don’t need the bad publicity”
“Well I’m sorry I’ve given you more work, I’ll get going and leave you to it”
“Can I come to your home when I’m finished? It’s been quite a night, I find myself needing your comfort“I stepped into his open arms and leaned upwards to kiss him
“Of course, I’ll dress appropriately” I grinned up at him, Eric liked me naked but he liked to unwrap me from lacy things even more. I walked out of the back door and sensed the void a second before two strong arms grabbed my shoulders, I stamped on their instep, threw my elbow back into the bridge of their nose and grabbed my revolver, swinging round and pulling the trigger before registering who it was, hey they were vampire, a gun was a toy to them.
Whoever it was, was very young when they were turned, probably only 16 or 17, he had short blonde hair and was staring at me with unbridled rage, holding his neck together after my close range shot. Eric and Pam appeared seconds after my gun was fired
“Sookie are okay?”
“Uh… I’m okay… I guess… do you know this guy?” they both looked at the vampire on the ground
“Andre? Pam get him inside he’s lost a lot of blood, arrange donors”
“Yes Master” Pam grabbed Andre’s arm and threw it over her shoulder dragging him back into the club
“So I guess you do know him then?”
“Yes Sookie, he’s the Queen’s second, her most beloved child and protector, he’s also the other vampire that was outside your house when Compton broke in, I knew I recognised the scent but it was only seconds ago I made the connection”
“I’m in deep shit for blowing half his neck away huh?”
“You wouldn’t have done it if you didn’t feel threatened, it was really his own fault, come lets go back inside and sort all this out” he kissed my forehead and removed the gun from my shaky hand.
I’m nervous, I’m sweating, I’m in Eric’s office, the vampire I shot is in the light-tight basement with Pam and as many willing donors she could find and Eric is sitting in his chair looking at me the same way a head teacher would look at a pupil who had been caught smoking behind the gym building.
“Sookie, you are ill at ease, is there anything I can do to calm you?” Eric sat next to me on the couch and stroked my hair.
“Umm… no. I’m just worried about what’s going to happen to me. I shot the Queen’s second Eric! I’m in serious trouble!”
“Normal logic would dictate that you were approached from the rear in a dark and secluded place by someone who did not declare their presence, you would be in even more serious trouble if you didn’t prepare to defend yourself in those circumstances. Why he grabbed you in such a manner is the important question. Andre is the Queen’s favourite child and I cannot guarantee that she will not seek vengeance no matter what his reasons for being here and forcing you to defend yourself.”
That was not comforting, not even a little bit “Okay, so what’s the worst case scenario here?”
Eric seemed to think, that made me more uncomfortable as I automatically deduced that there were so many acts of revenge the Queen could choose from he had to sort through which one would be the worst for me.
I should have been rejoicing at defending myself against an attacker. I should have been pumping my fist and singing ‘sisters are doing it for themselves’ or some other women’s empowerment anthem. I should be relieved. Instead I’m a wreck wondering how I might be punished when I was the one being attacked, possibly – it’s still not clear what he actually wanted from me.
“Worst case, from your point of view I would guess is that you would be turned and forced to serve either Sophie-Ann or Andre for eternity”
I felt queasy “Serve? You don’t mean waitress service do you?”
“No Sookie, I don’t. Other means of revenge would be draining you, keeping you against your will at the royal compound as a blood donor and sex slave”
His voice was very ‘matter of fact’ but his eyes were sad, like he didn’t like any of those options for me either. The arrangement we had was convenient for both of us, but I knew that I was attracted to Eric and having spent time with him I’ve realised I care for him, was it possible he felt the same way about me?
“Andre will be a few days healing; I will have to inform the queen tonight though”
A few days healing, that was scary considering I’d blown a little less than half his neck away. Still, a few days bought me some thinking room, a breathing space to consider my options.
“What if you didn’t happen to see who shot Andre? You would have to wait until he was strong enough to talk to confirm who shot him wouldn’t you?”
“Sookie, are you asking me to lie to my superior?”
“Are you asking me to accept that I might be forced to slavery, drained or even turned then forced to slavery and just give in without asking for help or fighting?” he looked away from me, his voice was barely above a whisper
“Lover, I would never ask that of you, but I need a little time to think of a way out of this that keeps all of us safe. For now I will tell Sophie-Ann that it happened around the time you left and that we are intending to question you as soon as we are able. It is entirely possible that she doesn’t even know Andre is here.”
How could everything go so wrong? A few weeks ago I was just a telepathic barmaid and Eric was just a Sherriff, dealing with typical vampire problems. Hadley opens her big trap and all of a sudden our lives (or un-life in Eric’s case) were turned upside down, constantly trying to think of what to do next to continue to live the way we want, trying to move our chess pieces into the form of best advantage, how could one dumb, drug addled, small town girl change our lives from easy monotony to fearsome chaos with one discussion on her family?
I swear, if Hadley wasn’t undead I’d kill her, and if I ever see her pale, vamp, ass, I’m gonna fly for her with some pointy wood before you can say ‘you been whittling Sook?’ and that’s when I had my moment of clarity. It was time to go straight to the source and show them I wasn’t fucking around.
I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding and looked Eric in the eyes
“You do what you have to do Baby” I ran my hands through his hair and kissed him tenderly on the lips “I have to go home and think about my options here, I want you to know that I care for you, I don’t know how you feel about me, whether you feel anything for me for that matter but it would hurt me if anything happened to you, especially if something happened to you because of me”
He looked confused; he couldn’t see it, hell! I didn’t see it until a moment ago, all I’ve brought him is pain. My entrance into his life (un-life? Whatever!) Has made everything more difficult and that’s not how a relationship is supposed to be. I walked out of his office not knowing if I’d ever see him again, I got into my car and drove back to Bon Temps knowing he wouldn’t be hot on my tail, he had a call to make to the Queen after all, I maybe had an hour or so to make arrangements.
The car ride gave me time to make my mental checklist, as soon as I got into the house that had been in my family for generations I started throwing clothes into Gran’s old suitcase along with anything valuable, not that there was much in the way of jewels, our home wasn’t rich in material things but in love and memories. Those would be the things I would miss most.
I made quick calls to Jason (to watch the house), Sam (to apologise about what I was about to do), Tara and Mel (to let them know I wouldn’t be around for a while) and finally to my Grandfather. He was the best person to help me, he’d understand why I had to do this, he’d made me strong before and he’d show me how to find myself, how to find the strength within to take back my life.
I had arranged to meet Fintan (as I was now instructed to call him) and he would provide me with a safe place to stay, I was making the final checks on whether I had everything when there was a knock at the door, I called out asking who it was and grimaced when I heard Bill Compton’s voice on the other side of the door.
I grabbed my shotgun, remembering why the hell he was in my town to begin with; I raised the gun while opening the door and shot him in the face at point blank range. It might take Andre a few days to recover from a shot to the neck but I doubt Bill will be growing a new head anytime soon.
I’d foiled Bill’s mission and he was sent by the Queen, now her favourite child shows up and grabs me without warning for whatever fucked up reason. It won’t stop unless I put a stop to it. I smiled at the gooey mess, then realised I would have to take everything out the back door to prevent walking through the disintegrating vamp on my front porch.
Eric must have finished up with the Queen, my cell beeped to signal a text:
On my way Lover, we need to talk. E x
I started my engine and replied:
I’m not at home, don’t try to find me. Not yet. Please take care. S xx
Turning the phone off, I rallied down my drive like a bat out of hell, Fintan was waiting with a different car to swap out for the Volvo, I would miss it, I appreciated everything that Eric done for me, but I knew they could use it to find me and I didn’t want to be found, not until I’d finished the job I started by blowing Bill Compton’s head off. They think they can take my life away from me – they’re wrong.
I’ve been hiding out with Fintan for four days now, I left the gorgeous red car that Eric had bought me in a parking lot near Shreveport bus station to give the impression I was running by my lonesome. There was a few hundred dollars spare in my bank account which I withdrew in small amounts from different ATM’s near bus stops heading west making it look like I was fleeing to Texas.
Fintan had always stayed on the edges of the Supe community but, quelle suprise, had contacts and access to all the Supe gossip from any selection of his speed-dials. He had also called Eric and Sam, lying about getting a frantic call from me telling him I could never go home again, and asking them to keep in touch with him with any information they might have on my whereabouts and safety.
We had disguised ourselves, turns out Fintan is an expert in not being found, we really only ventured out during the day and at night he helped me with my training. After realising I couldn’t be glamoured, I’d had a brief thought that I could get inside someone’s head just like walking through an open door to their home, glamouring was just taking it a step further and moving their furniture around before leaving.
I wanted to know if I couldn’t be glamoured because I was immune to an ability that I was in possession of. Fintan thought it was something to investigate, so we made time at each of our stops for me to sit in a bar or cafe and flirt with some unsuspecting guy and try to make him forget he ever saw me. Being able to identify different thought patterns from different Supes was very helpful, I could now scan every brain to check who and what I was surrounded by for about a mile radius, this made it easier to hide. The more I practiced controlling and targeting my telepathy, instead of just blocking people out, the stronger I got.
I was in a bar in Longview the first time it happened; he was a nice single guy with average looks and no disturbing tendencies towards women. His name was Andy and he was a little taken aback by my offer of a drink at first but soon warmed to my company, taking no note of my touching his hand as we chatted and not feeling me rooting around in his head checking where his furniture was.
I made sure no-one was around eavesdropping or watching us too closely, when I put my hand on his cheek and looked into his eyes I could feel it work; I knew I’d cracked it. His eyes kinda glazed over and I moved his memories around, deleting anything with me in it and replacing the deleted memories with a nice relaxing wind down at the bar, I even threw in a little chat with the bartender. Counted to three, removed my hand and walked out. I was pretty much ready, I just needed a little more practice and I could get that whenever we stopped on the way to New Orleans.
The plan was basic, target any human staff of Queen Sophie-Ann, pick everything they know about Hadley out of their heads then alter their memories so they didn’t remember seeing me. Once I knew where Hadley lived, I’d go there during the day, find her resting place, chain the bitch with silver and interrogate her when she woke up to find out who else she had blabbed to and who else might come after me then push a sizable, sharpened piece of used-to-be-tree through her chest.
The Queen would be an entirely different ball game.
At first I was a little shocked by how bloodthirsty I had become, a few times I’d thought about calling it off and just going back home but then my inner voice would say ‘To what? Home as you once knew it doesn’t exist anymore. Sure there’s a house but you’re not safe there. Sure there are friends but how long before people who want your talent find them and use them against you?’
When I talked to Fintan about it, he agreed with my inner voice. “So far Sookie, this has only gotten to the Queen’s level, if you’re taken by them and forced to use your talent in the royal court then all the regent’s will get to know and you’ll be coveted by more states than Louisiana, you’ll be in even more danger the more people find out. Nipping this in the bud is you’re best option, you have to let them know you will not be played with or harassed, I do have another concern”
“What kind of concern?”
“The Northman. How trustworthy is he? He was using you for your telepathy, is he really any different from Sophie-Ann?”
“He didn’t use me, he employed me. He gave me a choice, okay it wasn’t a great choice, his way or the highway, but at least he tried to give me the illusion of freedom in the choice, at least he was fine with me living in my own home and doing my own thing. He didn’t procure me, he asked me to work for him”
“He’s still a vampire; he still likes to show off what he has, that’s just a part of who they are. I knew Area 5 had a telepath, which means a lot of other Supes do too, in Louisiana anyway perhaps further afield. You’re only human, mostly, how much of a fight would he put up for you? Really?”
“I… I don’t know about other Supes but he said that due to the blood tie no other vamps would be able to touch me, that I was his so he’d probably stop any other vamps that wanted to throw me in the back of a van”
“A blood… tie? He gave you his blood?” I don’t think I’d ever seen anyone’s eyes bug out as much as Fintan’s did at that comment
“Yes. You seem shocked. Oh God! Did I do a really bad thing? Did he trick me?”
“No… Well maybe… due to the circumstances it was created in, having a blood tie with The Northman is not a bad thing. He didn’t trick you essentially, but he’s not known for collecting pets, in fact you are the only human I’ve heard of him having a tie to. Did you only exchange once?”
“Well I only drank from him once but he’s fed from me a bunch of times, it was part of the deal”
“I’m sure it was” Fintan chuckled “Do you have an e-mail address Sookie?”
“No, I wanted to buy a computer and set up an account with some of the extra money I was pulling from Fangtasia but I guess that’s out now”
“Tomorrow we’ll go to an internet cafe and you can set up an online account, I’d like you to get in touch with Eric and see how the land lies with him”
“Won’t they be able to trace it?”
“Yes, but we’ll be moving on afterwards, by the time any vamps turn up we’ll be long gone”
I nodded, a little sad that maybe, just maybe, the vamp that would turn up would be Eric and I would be out of his reach. I missed his company, his touch, his laugh, the snarky banter back and forth between him, me and Pam. I missed Pam too, I’d gotten to know her (well as much as she would let a human know her) I liked her honesty. More than anything I missed Eric. Maybe I was fooling myself but a little part of me hoped he was missing me too.