“Has Sherriff Northman contacted you yet?”
“No, your Grace. I expect he is taking the time to research his target.” Andre bowed his head to his Queen, his maker, his … everything.
“Perhaps if Mr. Compton had done the same he would still be with us.” Queen Sophie-Ann LeClerq had made the mistake of letting her child, Hadley, brief Bill rather than Andre. Hadley had given Bill the ‘cliff’s notes’ on Sookie, which had led to his ill-conceived plan going awry. “At least his final death has given us a back-up plan. If Eric can’t convince her to work for us of her own free will, we can insist on her services in return for removing one of us from the fold.”
Andre nodded. “She would understand that. She grew up with it after all.”
Sophie-Ann turned even more serious as she leaned forward in her chair. “We should tell Eric that Bill’s maker has been informed of his final death. Lorena is a psychopath on a good day, who knows what she’ll do.”
“I told her it was a fair kill when I contacted her and that there would be no restitution as he met his death at the hands of a human. Do you really think she would go after Miss Stackhouse?”
“Restitution and revenge are two completely different things. Call Sherriff Northman, now.”
Jackie woke up with a nasty crick in her neck, but she knew that would happen when she curled up in one of the booths in Merlotte’s. She knew that coming here with Betty would be an amazing experience but she had no idea that she would be flexing her magical muscles so much. Any witchcraft she practiced back in Glasgow was closely supervised by an elder of the Coven, and the fact the Betty trusted her enough to just let her do her own thing made her want to do the best job she could.
Massaging her neck, she headed over to another booth where Sookie was almost falling off the seat. Jackie shook her head slightly. She had been on the verge of 13 years old when Sookie had left. The young telepath had seemed so sophisticated in Jackie’s eyes back then but right at that moment, sophisticated was the last word Jackie would use to describe her. The witch leaned over to shake Sookie awake. Nothing. She picked up Sookie’s arm and dropped it. Nothing. She patted at Sookie’s face. Nothing. Jackie pondered that it had been a very long, hard night for them but there was still work to be done. And Jackie couldn’t do it alone.
Sookie leapt out of the booth as soon as the bucket of cold water hit her flesh.
“Whit the fuck?!” She shook her whole body like a dog before twisting her long blonde hair and wringing out as much water as she could. “Jackie, I’m bloody drookit!”
“Aye, that was kinda the point o’ throwin’ a bucket o’ watter over ye. Yer awake though eh?”
Sookie chuckled. “Aye, I’m awake alright!”
The telepath attempted to run a hand through her hair and grimaced when her fingers tangled in the knots. She couldn’t quite remember everything about the night before, but she knew without a doubt that something horrible had happened. Sookie looked at Jackie and noted her dirty clothes and haphazardly bandaged ankle. Groaning and rubbing her face, all of the previous night’s events came flooding back.
“The wolf is in Sam’s trailer right?”
“Aye, gaffer taped and trapped in the stasis spell I cast. As long as the door stays shut on the trailer he’ll be fine.”
Sookie nodded and checked the time. There were a couple of hours before the bar had to open and both women needed some serious cleaning up.
Adele and Betty sat at the kitchen table, it was the first time they had really had the chance to speak to each other alone and their breakfast had been a very intense question and answer session.
“Sookie doesn’t drink very often, it affects her shields. I can’t help but worry over what went on with her and that vampire after we left.” Adele tapped the side of her mug with her fingers and bit at her lip.
“Well.” Betty put her cup down and sat back in her chair. “She had his blood, so there’s a big chance they had sex.”
Adele choked on the sip of coffee she had planned to swallow and Betty stood up to pat her back as a coughing fit erupted. Once she had calmed down, Adele stared at her friend.
“I know a lot of things are less taboo in your world, but I’d rather not know who my Granddaughter was having sex with. And what difference would his blood make?”
“It’s an aphrodisiac, a very strong one. I’m sure Sookie knows all about it.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
“She’s smart, she’ll work it out.”
They were interrupted, thankfully in Adele’s opinion, by the sound of a car rattling up the driveway. A glance out of the kitchen window informed them that is was Sookie’s beat-up Nova and Adele immediately started making more breakfast for the returning women. Betty was retrieving more mugs from the cupboard when Sookie and Jackie entered. Adele turned to say ‘good morning’ but dropped the entire packet of bacon in the skillet when she saw the condition they were in. Sookie held up her hand in a ‘not now’ gesture.
“Showers and then food. We’ll tell ye everything.”
Thirty minutes later, the four women were gathered at the battered table. Sookie and Jackie retold the events of the night before while they ate. Betty interceded with the occasional question but Adele remained silent and still. When they were finished, Sookie folded her arms on the table and rested her head on top.
“I came back here to get away from all this shite. Now I’m in deeper than I ever would’ve been in Glasgow.”
Adele leaned over and rubbed Sookie’s back. “It’ll be okay sweetie.”
Sookie sat up and looked at her Gran incredulously. Betty and Jackie wore similar expressions of disbelief. “Gran, I hate to tell ye this but it’s not gonnae be okay. The Vampires want me, they live forever, they won’t stop until they get whit they want. Vampire’s are like the fuckin’ Terminator!”
Betty nodded sadly. “Sookie’s right. They willnae stop until she’s under their control or deid.”
Adele blanched and her eyes welled. “So … there’s really no way out for you?”
Sookie put her arm around her Grandmother and rubbed her shoulder. “As long as Supernatural folks know about what I can do, I’ll always be in danger from them.”
The old woman tried to remain calm but the thought of her Granddaughter forever running from creatures that would harm her made her more afraid than she’d ever been. All those years ago, she’d learned so many things, if she had known that this is what it would have led to she would never have let Fintan get so involved. But she had. Now all she could do was sit there in her withered body and watch Sookie’s life be controlled by others. Or was it?
Sookie and Jackie made it to Merlotte’s five minutes before opening, there were more customers milling around outside than usual. The Were-Witch had jumped at the chance to accompany Sookie to the bar rather than stay at home with the old ladies, besides what better way to see the fall-out from the previous night than to be at the epicentre? The bar manager smirked; she knew exactly why the townsfolk of Bon Temps were congregating this early at the restaurant. Gossip got these people together quicker than a fire drill. Sure enough, Rene was a topic of conversation. Sookie dropped off a round of coffees at Maxine Fortenberry’s table and tried to remain solemn as they spoke.
“Can you believe it? Those two girls and his sister too! Killed all of ‘em then went straight to Bud last night and confessed everything, who’d a thunk it?” Maxine shook her head and crossed her arms under her generous bust.
The telepath was surprised she was holding up so well. She had been under the impression that her ability to block would have been slim to none after the amount she had drank last night. Instead it felt like they were stronger, she was stronger. She should have felt like dirt but she felt great, not that Sookie was complaining about it. It was when she was in her office that the realisation hit her. Vampire blood – that’s why she felt good after getting blind drunk. Sookie sighed and carried on with the liquor order, no point in putting things off when you have the energy to get everything done.
Jackie found she was a popular figure in the bar. Everyone seemed to want to talk to her about where she was from and what Sookie was like when she was growing up. Especially Jason. Jackie was no stranger to attention from the opposite sex but she refrained from flirting back. He was handsome but he didn’t really make Jackie laugh. With the serious business of being in a pack and being trained as shaman, Jackie needed laughter in her life.
As soon as the two young women were on their way to Merlotte’s, Adele turned to Betty and smiled.
“I think I have an answer to Sookie’s problems. I’ll be back as soon as I can, it’s a lovely day – you could sit outside with some lemonade and enjoy the sunshine!”
Betty knew Adele wasn’t sending her outside to hide what she was doing, but to make sure Betty wasn’t bored while she was doing it. “That sounds lovely!”
Adele slowly climbed the ladder into the attic, taking care in every step. Once she was sure of her footing and the light was on, she made her way towards the old bureau, screwdriver in hand. Adele had kept her secret for long enough, she knew that keeping Sookie in the dark would only make things worse. The old woman was relieved that she still had enough life in her to pass all of this information on. She didn’t even want to imagine the state Sookie would be in if she found this trinket after her death.
It took her almost an hour, but eventually Adele was sitting at her kitchen table staring at the brown envelope. She didn’t need to read the letter inside; she remembered every word she had been told about this. She shook the bag lightly, the fabric crumbling away with age. A small box fell into her palm, like a tiny make-up compact or maybe a locket of some sort. She called Betty inside and the old telepath tentatively entered the kitchen. She stared at the object in Adele’s hand with wonder.
“Is that a …”
“A Cluviel Dor, yes it is.”Adele nodded.
The colours swirled and they took a few moments to absorb the beauty of the object. Fintan’s friend told her it was called a ‘Cluviel Dor’, it was a love token and it would grant her one wish. He’d also told her to be very careful what she wished for. Adele was holding Sookie’s freedom in the palm of her hand; this would be a careful wish and an important one.
“I need your help in wording this right. I only have one shot with this thing and I really don’t want to mess it up.”
Once Sookie had arranged for Arlene, Terry and Lafayette to close the bar, the telepath and the Were-Witch left for Sam’s trailer. They steeled themselves before they opened the door, for they knew that as soon as that happened, the Wolf inside would do his damndest to escape. Jackie watched as Sookie cocked her gun and took a deep breath. The noises from the bar next door seemed to fade into the distance and all they could hear was the clicking of the lock disengaging as the key turned.
The telepath held the gun out in front of her as she stepped over the threshold, pointing it to the Wolf when she spotted him on the floor. He started growling deep in his chest and struggled against his bonds. Sookie looked at Jackie with pride when she noted that he was wrapped almost head to toe in gaffer tape. She stifled a giggle at the thought that he looked like a caterpillar, a big silver caterpillar that was having some kind of seizure.
Jackie closed the door behind her and walked over to pull the Wolf into a better position. The tape prevented him from bending enough to sit anywhere, so she propped him up against the couch. The Wolf watched as the two young women crouched either side of him. Whoever sent him to do this job had seriously underestimated who they were dealing with. He glared at Sookie as she pressed the muzzle of the gun into his forehead with one hand and placed the other on his cheek.
“Why are you here?” She asked calmly.
He rolled his eyes and flicked them down to where his mouth was taped up. He thought this chick was obviously one fry short of a happy meal if she wanted to get answers out of him when he couldn’t speak. He wondered if the Vamp lady who hired him knew that this was a suicide mission.
“What Vamp Lady? What’s her name?”
He attempted to grin, he didn’t know her name. How did she know he was working for a vamp? All he got was a phone number, instructions to take the waitress that killed Bill Compton to Mississippi and a very nice wad of cash in an envelope that was left in a locker at the bus station.
“Interesting. What was this vampire’s connection to Bill Compton?”
The Wolf frowned. He had no idea how she knew that either. He scoffed internally at the thought that she was reading his mind but when he saw her smile the colour drained from his face.
“Puttin’ two and two together are we?” Sookie turned to Jackie. “Take the gun, I’ll get the car. I think we’re gonnae need a wee drive to the swamp.”
Sookie had never carried out an execution herself, unless you counted Bill Compton, but that was very heat of the moment. Not premeditated at all. Both Sookie and Jackie had seen them though. It was the supernatural way. If you cross a certain line in the supernatural world, your life is forfeit. And conspiring to kidnap someone would definitely cross that line. The two young women dragged the Wolf as best they could with his struggling. Eventually, when the watery mud was waist deep, they let him go and Sookie put a single bullet through his head at close range.
They watched as he sank into the swamp before trudging back to Sookie’s car. Once inside, Sookie sighed at the mess of her Nova. She would need to spend a lot of time cleaning it.
“This is just the start Jackie. It’s them or me and I like being alive.”
Jackie nodded. “Aye, yer up tae yer arse in it now. Jim would be proud o’ the way ye handled that. Ye are handlin’ it, right?”
Sookie looked at the Were-Witch sadly. “For now, when the adrenaline wears off it’ll be a different kettle o’ fish.”
“In the name o’ the wee man! Whit the hell have ye’s been doin’ now?”
Betty was staring at Sookie and Jackie as they walked in the door. Adele came into the kitchen and shrieked.
“Oh my Lord!”
“We’re okay. The Were who attacked Jackie last night … not so much.”
The older women nodded and watched Sookie and Jackie retreat once more to the bathrooms. Adele was getting extremely concerned that Sookie couldn’t seem to go to work without major incidents happening. She calmed herself with the thought that soon, that might not be a problem anymore.
When Sookie had finished her shower, she walked back through the living room rubbing her empty stomach. She stopped as she noticed a pad and pen sitting on the coffee table and wondered if her Gran had been writing a letter. Her curiosity got the better of her, and after all, it was just lying there begging to be read. The telepath frowned as she noticed two columns; one for ‘action’ and another for ‘variable’. Sookie stopped reading and took the pad with her into the kitchen and placing it gently on the table.
“There’s another variable in the mix.”
Adele sighed. “I was hoping we could at least get some food in your bellies before speaking about that but I guess we can talk while we eat.”
Sookie and Jackie were ravenous but lost their appetites soon after Adele revealed that Sookie’s biological Grandfather was a half-fairy named Fintan. They pushed their plates away as she explained how Fintan had a friend that visited when they were younger and that he’d given Sookie a gift. Betty interceded at the point to speculate that the gift bestowed upon Sookie was her telepathy.
“I’m from Demon stock, one sixteenth to be exact. It’s not widely known, but telepathy is Demon trait that is passed through the blood. It’s possible that this friend was a Demon and saw something in you and somehow gave you a drop of his blood.”
The younger telepath sat with her mouth wide open as the tale continued until finally they got to the trinket that Adele pulled out of her pocket and the list on the table. Sookie looked at the Cluviel Dor, she loved it instantly. It was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen.
“So ye make a wish and it comes true?”
Adele nodded. “But you have to make sure you wish for the right thing.”
“Wish magic is the most powerful of all. Nothing can undo it.” Betty picked up the pad. “We had some ideas but there’s a fair bit of planning involved.”
Sookie turned the Cluviel Dor over in her hands. “And repercussions. You can change the world but how vast will the changes be? We need to account for every possibility.”
At midnight, the writing pad was almost filled with notes and all four women were suffering from headaches. Sookie tapped the pen on the last blank space.
“First we need to prepare. We need wards to prevent Betty and Jackie from being affected and we need money for a plane ticket.”
“I’ll get the money Sookie, don’t you worry about that.”
Sookie sighed and rubbed at her temples. “Then there’s the actual wishing. That’s gonnae need to happen in the day time. Early morning would be best, maybe an hour after sunrise so the vamps simply wake up in the evening with no knowledge of what’s gone on.”
“Good plan.” Betty nodded. “There’s a lot to be done but we’ll get there.”
Adele smiled at Sookie as the young woman wrapped her arms around her. “Are ye sure ye want to do this Gran?”
“I’ve never been surer of anything Sweetie. I’m ready for the change.”
Sookie was happy to see that everything in the bar was exactly as it should be. It was nice to know that she could depend on the other staff to do as good a job as she did when she was absent. She just hoped nothing happened in the next few days that would require it to be a permanent arrangement.
While Sookie did what she was paid for, Adele went through other avenues to find the money for their project. She slowly climbed the stairs of his front porch, unsure of how he would react to seeing her. The old woman rapped loudly on the door and took a step back. She heard the sound of a few different locks being turned, and after holding her breath for long enough, the door opened.
“A … Adele? Why are you here? You said you never wanted to see me again.”
“Can you blame me? And you had the gall to turn up at Linda’s funeral. You owe me for keeping my tongue in my head and not letting everyone know what you did so you could be hounded out of town!”
“That’s not your style Adele.” Bartlett laughed. “You know how much shame it would bring to the Stackhouse name if folks found out about my little … perversion.”
“That was the old Adele. I’ve learned a lot in the past while. I think you’ll be surprised by how much I’ve changed.”
“Oh really? Well, you might as well come inside since you made the effort to come here. You could have called instead.”
“But if I called, I couldn’t do this.”
Adele pulled a knife out of her purse and held it to the old man’s throat. She had done a lot of thinking since Betty came into town and everything changed with Sookie. She thought about how ruthless the world was and how placid bystanders get trampled and killed while the ones who hurt them walk away. Bartlett had hurt Adele, but he had hurt her Daughter and her Granddaughter much, much worse. Bartlett owed Adele and Bartlett had some money, it was time for him to pay up. The world was made of checks and balances, not love and understanding. Protecting the ones you love was worth more than forgiving the ones who hurt them.
“What the hell Addie?”
“You still keep your savings under the bed?”
She pressed the knife harder against his skin. “You heard. You made Linda and Hadley’s lives a living hell. Now Sookie needs help and your money is going to help her. Think of it as a small amount of redemption.”
“Okay, okay! Yeah, my money, everything, it’s in the black box under the bed.”
“Thank you Bartlett.”
Adele put the knife back in her purse and walked into her brother’s bedroom. She dragged a black box, similar to a small briefcase, out from under the bed. Bartlett just watched from his wheelchair as his Sister walked out of his house with everything he had saved in his pitiful life. When the door closed behind her, a single tear escaped Bartlett’s eyes.
“Damn Addie, you have changed.”
When Adele, Betty and Jackie had finished counting, it turned out Bartlett Hale had squirreled away just under $6,000. Plenty for the purpose Adele had in mind. She called Sid Matt Lancaster to make arrangements to see him that afternoon and made her way to the bank to close her accounts, not that there was much in them. After seeing her lawyer to transfer ownership of the farmhouse to Sookie, she drove to Shreveport to book her airline ticket. It had been a long day but her last task was to fish out the card of a man who had come round to try and buy some her land a while back. Sookie might just need that number in the future.
Betty placed a hand over hers. “It has to be like this hen, ye cannae stay here and risk bein’ glamoured into confessin’.”
“I know and I’m ready. I just hope Sookie is.”
Adele signed her name at the bottom of the letter she was leaving for Jason and pressed it to her lips. She had to believe she was doing the right thing.
Sookie huffed out a breath and rolled her head on her shoulders. She had memorised the number from the Wolf the night before and her heart rate sped up as she dialled. This was how it was done; you made deals and told lies. Her breath hitched slightly when the ringing stopped and a smooth female voiced asked who was calling. Sookie put on an exaggerated American accent and put her plan in motion.
“My name isn’t important. What I found is.”
“And what did you find, pray tell?”
“I found a Were-Wolf killing a waitress. He also had this phone number and a wad of cash on him.”
“Killing her? Dammit! That wasn’t the deal.”
“Whatever the deal was, it’s off. I covered it up. Whatever business you had in Bon Temps is over or those bodies get found with this number written all over them.”
“I see. Was there anything special about this waitress he killed?”
“Nothing really, she staked a vampire a while back. But she’s dead now, so she won’t be doing that anymore.”
“You have a deal. But if those bodies turn up, I will lay waste to Bon Temps myself looking for you.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything else.”
Sookie put the handset back in the cradle and held her head in her hands. This would be her life from now on. Forever plotting, watching her back and making deals to protect herself. She wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand as she tenderly remembered the few years between returning from Glasgow and that vampire walking into the bar. The short time she had as a normal girl. She would never see those times again.
It had been a hard day for everyone but none of them were able to sleep that night. With two hours to sunrise, Jackie was preparing the house for the wards while the other three women desperately tried to overcome the last hurdle in their plan – Eric Northman.
“I’ve had his blood, there’s no way round it. We’ll just need to cross that bridge when we come to it.” Sookie sighed.
“He seems alright for a vamp. He questions things, doesn’t follow blindly. He must be an auld yin.” Betty adjusted the clothes at the top of her suitcase before closing it and making sure the tags were attached properly. Suddenly she stood up straight and stared at Sookie. “Ye are sure yer cousin is vampire now right?”
Sookie blinked. She and her Gran had assumed Hadley was a vampire, but they never had it confirmed. She ran to her room and fished out Eric’s business card, checking her watch as she made her way to the phone. She just hoped he had an answer right away; otherwise this might all be for nothing. There were two numbers on the card. One for Fangtasia the bar Eric owned and the other was for his business cell phone. Knowing that the bar would be closed, Sookie chose to call the cell number.
“Eric, its Sookie. I need a favour.”
“Really? So soon? My, my, you’re certainly racking up your debt aren’t you?”
“If I couldn’t pay it back, I wouldn’t ask. I need to know if Hadley Delahoussaye is a vampire.”
“Who is she to you?”
“My Cousin. She’s the source of your boss’ information.”
“It’s not interesting, it’s important. I need to know if she’s definitely a vampire.”
She heard Eric chuckle lightly. “Yes, she’s … my superior’s newest child. Still new born, she’s not even six months old.”
Sookie sighed in relief. “Thank you Eric. That’s all I need.”
“You better be as useful as we expect. Unless you can think of any other talents you possess that would interest me.”
Sookie ended the call abruptly. A small part of her hoped that he would call back, that same part wished that he wouldn’t have to be affected by the wish her Gran was going to make. But Sookie knew it had to be all or nothing. She was armed with enough information to explain many things, but she wouldn’t be able to explain how Eric’s blood managed to get inside a woman he couldn’t remember.
Exhaustion was taking its toll on all of them, but finally the sun came up. Sookie brewed the fourth pot of coffee and helped her Gran move her suitcase on to the porch. Adele handed Sookie the letter for Jason, making her promise to give it to him after 10am, no earlier. Jackie had black circles under her eyes and could barely lift herself from the sofa. The wards she had cast were incredibly draining but she couldn’t go to sleep until she had confirmation that they actually worked.
The four women sat on the porch watching the sun creep higher in the sky. It was time. They went back into the kitchen and Adele brought out the Cluviel Dor from her pocket.
“I wish all supernatural creatures would forget they ever met or heard of Sookie Stackhouse.”