Chapter 14 – Pussycat, Pussycat, Where Have You Been?
Eric told me to look out an ‘elegant’ outfit for the meeting and pack an overnight bag in case we have to spend a night in New Orleans. The problem was that all the outfits I considered elegant, Eric didn’t. They were too casual apparently but what did he expect? The only places I’d been the last month were church meetings and barbeques!
When you’re on the run, having a collection of sassy cocktail dresses isn’t your main priority! As I huffed and threw clothes in a bag, Eric called Pam to find out where I could get ‘suitable attire’ at 3am. Five minutes later we were in Eric’s car and zooming towards Shreveport, I clung to the door handle and edge of my seat in terror.
We drew up outside a plain looking shop front, there was no signage advertising what kind of shop it was and there was no window display to draw in passersby to their wares. I followed my vampire inside and was accosted by a small, male vamp with close cropped dark hair and sharp features
“Silvio, my child Pamela informed you of our requirements?” Eric stood back as I was pulled into a small curtained area
“She did” the man, Silvio, had a slightly squeaky voice “I am prepared”
He disappeared into a back room and I just looked at Eric bewildered, he smirked back at me and nodded affectionately. Silvio returned with three dresses and handed them to me to try on. The first was a hot pink halter dress with silk straps and bodice with chiffon layers coming to my knees from a sequinned band under the bust, the second was a simple black satin shift dress that had a thick silver satin ribbon around the waist and the third was a deep red stretchy fabric with a cowl neck and thin rhinestone straps, it was low cut at the bust and back and came to just below my knee.
They all fitted perfectly and I could feel Eric’s approval for each one through the bond. At Eric’s insistence, he bought all three, plus a pair of silver satin 3” heel pumps and wrap to match. Next stop was a lingerie store, where we bought black, red and silver grey strapless bras and matching boy shorts. I was looking at the selection of corsets and Basques when I noticed Eric picking up a naughty nurse outfit
“Not a chance lover boy.”
“But what if I get sick?”
“You’re a vampire Eric, you don’t get sick!”
“Spoilsport” he huffed and followed me out of the store. We were back in Bon Temps in record time. Seconds after entering the house, Eric had hung up my new dresses and had me pinned on the bed giggling.
When I woke up the next afternoon I threw on some clothes and went to Merlotte’s for breakfast. I knew there was no chance of staying at home and chilling out when I was so nervous about our meeting later tonight, so I figured I’d get out and about, catching up with the townsfolk of Bon Temps to keep my mind off things.
Eric had told me to use his corvette if I needed to go out during the day, my Volvo had been impounded and I hadn’t gotten round to going to get it and pay the fine and my car from Dallas was still in the parking lot at Fangtasia. I stood looking at Eric’s baby and after 10 minutes of chanting ‘He wouldn’t say to use it if he didn’t trust you’ I got in and made my way to my old workplace.
I was about to walk in the back door when I checked myself, old habits die hard Sooks, I went round to the front door and steeled myself for what might be waiting on the other side. Turned out it was nothing, the only people there were Sam, Arlene, Lafayette and Jane Bodehouse. I had braced myself to have my shields battered by a bar full of rednecks!
“Oh My Stars! Sookie Stackhouse! Where have you been girl?!” Arlene grabbed me in a too tight for comfort hug.
“I … uh … had to disappear for a while. I got in some trouble, vamp stuff, but it turned out I ran into even more and wanted to come home!” I smiled awkwardly and they all nodded at me. Except Jane, she was wired to the moon. I kept my shields up, I didn’t want to hear what kind of trouble they thought I had gotten myself into.
“So! Tell us where you went and what you got up to? We’ve sure missed you here! The new girl, Georgia, she’s nice an’ all but she’s not our Sookie!” Arlene had pulled me into a booth and was stroking my hair.
“Well. I went to Dallas, I met some folks that I thought I could be friends with but they didn’t take kindly to my past.” Arlene, Sam and Lafayette all looked at each other. Laffy came and sat across from me, taking my hand
“Shug, you back now and you among friends. Yo past, has made you the awesome bitch you are, if folk don’t take kindly ta that they can kiss my pretty black ass!” I laughed; nobody could big me up like Laffy!
After spending two hours there, I figured that Jason and his road crew weren’t coming in for lunch today so I settled my bill and went to see Tara at her store. She was pretty happy to see me but seemed sad, I picked up that her relationship with Eggs wasn’t going so well but let her lead the conversation topics; she would tell me when she wanted to. I hugged her tight and said my goodbyes, nerves creeping in for the first time that day, then jumped back into Eric’s car and sped home to ready myself for our trip to New Orleans.
We left as soon as it was dark enough, sunset was around 7pm at this time of year and we were in New Orleans well before midnight with the speeds Eric barrelled along the interstate. Eric had called ahead and booked a room in a hotel near the Queens residence, a majority of hotels in NO were vampire friendly due to the high population of undead visitors there.
“Eric, what if this all goes wrong?”
“It won’t, I received an email from Pam just before sunrise, we have an ‘ace in the hole’ Sookie. With the advent of the AVL being on your side, I decided to collect some evidence.”
“You’ll see. Sophie-Ann is expecting you to show up without representation or any information to corroborate your version of events. She wants it to be Andre’s word against yours so she can make the final judgement.”
“And this evidence will prevent that?” He nodded “So why haven’t you produced this until now? You know this would have come in very handy before I went to Dallas and got my ass handed to me!”
“I couldn’t before, but with Elizabeth helping us I can say that the AVL requested it to draw a more detailed case.”
“Does anyone actually like Sophie-Ann?”
“She is respected but has an out of date attitude. The AVL are very aware of this, they are trying to promote a positive image of vampires and vampires who don’t adhere to their guidelines aren’t doing any of us any favours. Sophie-Ann is one of those vampires.”
We used the hotel room to change before our meeting and it was there in case things got drawn out too close to sunrise for us to drive back north. We showered the road off us and changed into ‘Royalty Suitable’ outfits. I decided on the Black shift dress, simple and classy. We arranged to meet with Elizabeth and Niall in the lobby.
Eric had a bag with him and asked to speak to Elizabeth alone. They went over to a table and stared at the laptop Eric produced whispering to each other. Elizabeth seemed very happy with whatever it was he showed her. The royal residence was only a block away so we could all walk in together.
The gate was elaborate and there was no mistaking that someone important lived there. A group of tourists started clicking cameras as we approached and there were some Fellowship supporters waving banners and shouting about demons and whores. The vampire at the gate was a huge middle-eastern looking man, he nodded at our group and Eric nodded back
“Rasul, the Queen is expecting us.”
“Yes Sherriff Northman, Ms. De Burgh it’s a surprise to see you here. I gather this is Miss. Stackhouse but I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the other gentleman accompanying you” Niall stepped forward
“I am Prince Niall Brigant of the Sky Fae, we” he indicated the four of us “are here to represent Miss. Stackhouse’s interests”
Rasul smiled, he seemed pretty friendly for a vampire, even if he was dressed in Kevlar with his name velcroed on his helmet. He waved at the guard in the gatehouse and radioed our arrival to someone inside. The walk up the short drive seemed to take an excruciatingly long time and when we got to the door it was being held open but another vampire in SWAT gear, according to her headgear her name was Melanie even in her outfit she still looked delicate. Melanie consulted a clipboard
“You’re the Stackhouse woman?” I nodded and she eyed the rest of our party “she’s been informed you’re here, although we weren’t expecting an entourage, I’m sure you’ll all be made welcome”
We were escorted along a corridor and up to the first floor, along another corridor to a door guarded by two huge vampires that looked exactly the same. Eric nodded to them
“Sigebert, Wybert” they nodded back. Eric explained to me that when the light next to the door went on, the Queen was ready for us.
Whatever I expected, she wasn’t it. She was beautiful, with long reddish-brown hair, milky white skin and her eyes were large and brown. She wore a tailored suit which was a lovely damson shade of purple with a lilac blouse under the jacket. I was scrutinised under her gaze, which I thought was quite rude but as a Queen I’m sure no-one ever corrects her manners
“I don’t see what all the fuss is about” she shrugged “very well, I see you’ve brought out the big guns Miss. Stackhouse. Well played.” She smiled, it wasn’t a warm fuzzy smile and it wasn’t a cold hard smile, could it have been … respectful? Eric squeezed my hand and gave me a look
“Thank you, your Majesty”
“You obviously aren’t as ignorant and colloquial as Hadley and William reported you. Of course, I’m sure your tie to Sherriff Northman has helped in that regard. How is it? Being bonded to him?”
“It’s all still a little new, but fine so far.”
Sophie-Ann picked up a little bell that sat on the table next to her and jangled it lightly. Hadley appeared from a side room, followed by Andre (I think, the last time I saw him he was a little blood spattered). Hadley was wearing her cheerleader smile and Andre was wearing an ‘I want to kill you’ scowl. They stood behind and to the side of Sophie-Ann’s throne, Andre to the right and Hadley to the left.
“Obviously you are aware that you are here for me to determine if you should be punished for injuring my child” she held out her hand and Andre took it and kissed it.
Elizabeth stepped forward. “Your Majesty, having taken statements from both Miss. Stackhouse and her employer Mr. Northman, as well as reviewing video footage taken by Mr. Northman” I looked at Eric and he winked, producing his laptop from his bag “the AVL have determined that Miss. Stackhouse was well within her rights to defend against her assailant.”
“Video footage? What do you mean?” the Queen sneered
Eric placed his laptop on a table and everyone crowded around it. He clicked play and a video started. It was security footage from the Fangtasia car park. We watched as I left the employee door and Andre grabbed me from behind. I was fascinated seeing myself make such a valiant counter-attack on the vampire. The look on my face when I pulled the trigger would have made ‘Dirty Harry’ proud!
Eric stopped the video and clicked on a different file. The sights and sounds of Andre wrecking the basement at Fangtasia were there for all to see and hear.
This is unacceptable! I came here for the telepath and I will find her and take her back to my Mistress! How dare she injure me! I wanted to complete the job Compton fucked up on to please my Queen, all he had to do was get her to trust him, but that stubborn human denied him! Compton can’t bring her to Sophie-Ann but I can. If my Mistress wants the telepath then she will have her!
I turned to look at everyone. Eric and Elizabeth were smiling, Niall was tight lipped, Andre was livid, Hadley was … well Hadley and the Queen was staring at Andre in disbelief.
“Mr. Paul” Elizabeth’s voice did not sound friendly at all “With the evidence and statements we have here do you accept our conclusion that you attacked Miss. Stackhouse with the view to kidnapping her and presenting her to your regent and maker?”
He raised his chin defiantly “If that is the conclusion you have arrived at, I have no evidence to confirm an alternative.”
“Northman!” Wow, was Sophie-Ann ever pissed “This is treason! I’ll have your final death for this!”
Elizabeth held a hand up, stopping Eric from speaking “On the contrary Sophie-Ann, Mr. Northman was reluctant to permit me access to the footage. The investigation into your behaviour is ongoing and I threatened to charge him with withholding evidence if he did not comply.”
She may be the best liar I have ever seen in action. Sophie-Ann huffed and muttered that I could at least apologise for shooting him.
“I’m very sorry for shooting you Mr. Andre Sir.” They both nodded, Hadley looked bored. Niall cleared his throat
“Now that we have established that there is no need for Miss. Stackhouse to face repercussions for her actions may I move onto other business?” Other business? Everyone else seemed to be drawing a blank, much the same as me. “You are aware that Miss. Stackhouse is part Fae?”
“Yes Prince, I was informed of that at the council hearing.” The Queen looked bored now.
“Indeed. Your youngest child is her cousin is she not?”
“Your point is?”
“Even after her being turned I can still smell the slightest hint of Fae from her. Surely you would have tasted that in her blood?”
“Of course! That’s why her Majesty kept me so close!” Hadley was grinning from ear to ear “She always said I was too yummy to share and that I was her special little fairy!”
“HADLEY BE QUIET!” Andre and the Queen were glaring at her, fangs out.
“Hmm … would it not have made sense to you that if Hadley was related to Miss. Stackhouse by blood that Miss. Stackhouse would also be a ‘special little fairy’?” Sophie-Ann growled. “Never mind, it has been established that your actions were not directed at the Fae as an act of war.”
“So why are you bringing it up Niall? Miss Stackhouse is an angel and I am a monster blah, blah, blah.”
“I brought it up to see if Hadley was aware of her heritage, obviously she has been for some time. Did you explain to her that betraying her own kin is punishable by death in Fairy law?”
“Oh come on!” the Queen snorted “No-one takes any notice of those antiquated laws anymore!”
“As High Prince of the Sky Fae, I do. Hadley Delahoussey, you are hereby sentenced to meet your end for betraying your blood kin and thus exposing her to potentially life threatening situations.”
I stared at him open-mouthed. Hadley shuffled behind Sophie-Ann and Andre. I turned to see Eric and Elizabeth were just as shocked as I was. I heard Niall mutter some words and two very large, very beautiful men appeared from out of nowhere. They rushed over and grabbed Hadley, I wondered why no-one done anything to stop them but they were all looking kind of dazed.
“Sookie” Eric looked totally spaced “We have to get you out of here, before … the bloodlust.”
He crept closer to me; I was getting a really bad vibe about this. Niall grabbed my arm and then I was back at our hotel, just like that. It took me a few seconds to get my bearings but I looked up at Niall and he was smiling gently, like a Great-Grandfather should I guess.
“Be safe Sookie. Your vampire will be here soon and he may need some special care.”
“Special care? Oh my lord, are they going to hurt him?”
“No, Sookie. The scent of the fairy guard who came to retrieve your cousin, he will be hungry and…”
“Horny?” Niall nodded and smiled. He took out a wallet from his pocket and handed me a card. It was a business card for a strip club in Monroe – Hooligans. Why the hell would he give me a card for a strip club? Did he want me to take horny Eric there?
“The owners. They are kin to you. Keep it handy, you never know when you might need your family.”
He kissed me on the forehead and popped away. Seconds later Eric stormed through the hotel doors, threw me over his shoulder growling. The elevator was taking too long, so he ran up the stairs at vampire speed. Throwing the room door open and tossing me on the bed.
“Eric I know this might fall on deaf ears but please don’t hurt me!”
“Hurt you lover?” he looked slightly confused.
“The fairy smell, Niall said you’d be hungry and … well he said you’d need special care.”
“I am hungry and horny, but the effect of the fairy smell wore off when I left the room they had been in. This isn’t about bloodlust; it’s about everything being over. The Queen cannot bother you again, as my bonded she will have to request the use of your telepathy through me. There is no need for running, no need for hiding, no need for planning but every need for us to celebrate.”
And celebrate we did. So much in fact that we had to stay the night in the hotel room after all. Eric was right, it was over. I could breathe easy, couldn’t I?