Chapter 14 – Monkey Wrench
Sitting in on the Queen’s Area 1 Sherriff business wasn’t that bad, I took details of vampires who were checking into the area, those who were leaving, one had to pay a fine for feeding from another vampire’s pet. It was all really easy, Hadley had e-mailed me all of the forms that she used and not to knock my cousin, but she wasn’t the brightest – if she could manage it then I wouldn’t have any problems. I started packing my things away when we were done, patting myself on the back for managing everything, when Sophie-Ann smiled and clapped her hands.
“Well, that’s the boring stuff out of the way! Now for the fun part!”
“Excuse me you Majesty? I thought we were done here?”
“Yes Sookie, we’re done here, in this office, but there is still work for me to do. Now I have to see to the more … serious cases.”
My mouth made the shape of an ‘Oh’ but no sound came out. I turned to Eric and he nodded to indicate that we should follow the Queen and Andre, Sophie-Ann opened what I had previously assumed to be a closet, but it turned out to be a doorway to a long corridor. I pictured the residence in my mind and realised that this must run along the outside of the vampire wing that means only rooms on one side of the wing are actually rooms, interesting. We walked past seven cells, stopping at the eighth and last one, Andre opened the door to reveal a naked male vampire chained to the walls with silver.
“Good evening Guido how are we tonight?”
The vampire just grunted and lifted his head to look at his visitors, his eyes rested on me and his nostrils flared. He looked familiar but it wasn’t until Andre backhanded him and I saw his profile that I recognised him. It was one of the Nevada vampires we saw in Baton Rouge. He spat blood onto the floor at Andre’s feet and grinned.
“I’d feel better after a good meal.” He eyed me and smirked, running his tongue over his fangs. Urgh! How disgusting! I heard Eric growling behind me, Guido tilted his head and regarded the two of us. “Ah! She is Northman’s meal now?”
“I am no-one’s meal.”
I was surprised to hear the words coming out of my mouth but then it wasn’t the first time my voice had kicked into gear a second or two before my brain, that’s how most of the fights I’d ever been in had started at Valmont. Not that they were really fights, a few punches and some hair-pulling is probably foreplay for vampires.
“Guido, let’s not waste time. I’ve let you rot in here for almost a week now …”
“Under false circumstances! Gervaise offered me his human; I took nothing without his consent!”
“Do not interrupt. Gervaise’ human was what got you in here; you are being kept here because you were following my telepath. I just want to know how you were aware of her location.”
“I saw a tasty looking blonde, I followed, that is all.”
“Yes, that’s what Sean said too. How nice that you both have compatible tastes.” She laughed but just as quickly as her mirth surfaced it was cut short and her stare was cold as ice. “Sean is finally dead. He met with a stake by my hand two nights ago. Would you like the same fate or would you be prepared to barter?”
I was shocked that these … men? Were so expendable, Sophie-Ann talked about staking Sean like she’d bought a tub of ice-cream. I was also shocked that she was so sneaky, there was no doubt in my mind that Gervaise had offered his pet but then turned the story around so they would be taken into custody but then it always comes back to the same thing – never piss off vampires.
“What are your terms? I will need protection.”
“Indeed.” Sophie-Ann’s eyes flashed in victory. “You will tell me who sent you and how you knew of my telepath’s visit to Baton Rouge, if what you tell me is … feasible and useful, you will be taken to a comfortable room, fed and you can remain in Louisiana under my protection.”
Guido nodded. “I was sent by my King, De Castro, to Louisiana to watch the telepath. We were given the address of her hotel and a photograph, although it was dated, she was still recognisable. We were instructed to seize her if the opportunity arose but not to cause a scene.”
“And who told you where she would be?”
“De Castro’s second, Victor Madden, he told us where to go, I do not know how he came across the information.”
“Very well.” Sophie-Ann nodded to Andre and he handed her a stake.
“WAIT! I told you everything!”
“Exactly. You told me everything, yet everything you told me I have worked out on my own. Your information has not been useful and as such you are expendable.”
A thought occurred to me all of a sudden. “Your Majesty?”
“Yes Miss Stackhouse?”
“May I ask the … prisoner a question?” The Queen nodded her assent. “Where is this photograph you were given?”
“It was in my wallet, it should still be with my personal effects.”
Andre went to a pile of clothes in a metal garbage can and pulled out a cracked and worn leather wallet, rifling through it and removing a small photo. I took it from him and looked at it; it was a copy of the last school photo that had been taken of me. The only people who had this would be Gran, Jason or me, I had this in a box of photo’s I’d brought from Valmont and sat on my bookcase. I’d been planning on getting an album to put them in.
“Your Majesty, the only way someone could get this photo is if they were a vampire who had been inside my room before or a human.”
“Yes! A human delivered it to us when we arrived in Baton Rouge; I assumed she was from Nevada.”
Sophie-Ann looked at me and then to Guido. “Well this information is new; it seems, thanks to Miss Stackhouse, that you survive another night Guido. Tell us what this female looked like.”
The description was vague, long brown hair, pretty mouth, just over 5 feet tall, but there were only maybe 5 or so humans that had access to the residence that would fit it. Two of them were pets, the other three were donors. We left Guido’s cell and Sophie-Ann called Hadley to bring her Sadie, Vicky and Cora from the donor wing, then called for the vampires to bring their pets.
When we got back to the day room Hadley was there with the donors and the Bert’s showed Mara and Robyn inside a second after we entered. I was enraged, how dare one of these women go through my personal things! I didn’t beat around the bush and I didn’t even wait for the Queen to give me permission.
“Which one of you bitches has been in my room?” They all looked shocked, I scrutinised their minds with my talent and thrust my finger out, pointing to Robyn. “You! I can see it! You stole this photo from my room!”
The Bert’s grabbed her and the other girls were ushered out by Andre, who returned moments later with Waldo, Robyn’s Master. The vampire and his human were forced into chairs and held in place, Waldo was secured with silver chains, I snarled and grabbed Robyn’s head in my hands, getting deeper inside her head than I’d ever dared with anyone before. I saw it all, she had been instructed to break into my room and try to find a picture of me, then wait in a hotel in Baton Rouge for contact with the Nevada vampires. Her master had told her that if it all worked out she would live in luxury for the rest of her life.
I turned to Waldo. “Why? What have I ever done to you?”
“Stupid human.” He sneered and turned to his Maker. “Surely you don’t believe her lies?”
“One thing I am not Waldo is a liar! You planned to kill Hadley because of your jealousy and I found out about your trip to see Marie Laveau and ruined it for you. Is that why you want me out of the way?”
“Is this true my child? You planned to kill my Hadley?”
At that point Waldo looked utterly defeated. Robyn was sent out, she had only followed her Master’s orders, it wasn’t her fault. Waldo explained of his jealousy for Hadley and thought if he could be rid of her he could find favour with Sophie-Ann again. When I invited myself along for the trip and suggested Bill come too, he assumed that Hadley and I were just too close and that he’d have to get rid of me before he could plan another way to kill my cousin.
“De Castro was most interested, Threadgill thought he would attain your use through marrying our Queen and saw no need to acquire you in another manner. If I’d killed you there would be an investigation.” His lip curled in disgust. “You are also far too well guarded, and too well liked. You were supposed to be left alone in Baton Rouge.”
Well that confirmed everything, it had been Waldo that informed Lorena to call Bill away and arranged for me to be left alone at the mercy of the Nevada vampires that weekend. I thanked my lucky stars even more that Eric had been interested enough in me to show up at that time, like it was fate. I heard Sophie-Ann sigh and looked over to see her rubbing her fingertips into her temples.
“Waldo, did your brining not teach you anything? Obviously my punishments aren’t a deterrent for your behaviour. You have attempted to wrong two people I regard very highly; these two will decide your fate.”
I was shocked that the Queen would put this vampire’s life, or unlife, in me and my cousin’s hands. Hadley nodded to her lover and came over to me.
“Sookie, you don’t have to do anything. Just let me take care of it.”
Waldo laughed, it was hollow and malevolent. “Yes, run along little human. Your skills are of no use in this instance.”
I get it, I was weak, a meal with added benefits in his eyes. Was that how all of the vampires saw me? Maybe he was right, maybe I didn’t have the stomach for this, maybe I should let Hadley take care of him. Or maybe I should take this opportunity to show that I had what it takes, that I could rise to a challenge. I took two steps forward and threw my fist into his face, it hurt me more than it hurt him but it shut him up.
I turned to my audience to find them looking quite shocked, Hadley was holding a sword and looked amused at my reaction to his words before handing over the blade to me.
“Maybe Sookie has other skills we’ve yet to discover?” She cocked an eyebrow and smirked at me. “Perhaps my cousin just needs a little … motivation to find the strength to stand up for herself?”
I watched her circle Waldo’s chair and felt Eric come to stand next to me, he bent down and whispered that he would love to see what I could do. I didn’t like this one bit; I didn’t have the guts to chop someone’s head off, even if he did want my cousin dead. My cousin, Hadley, without her I’d still be locked up, eating crap and blocking out everyone else’s traumas, fighting off guards and other inmates, she was my saviour and he wanted to end her because he couldn’t handle Mommy not playing with him as much. I felt my grip on the sword tighten and lifted it; it was lighter than I thought it would be, I swung it experimentally imagining it was an extension of my arm.
“Sookie.” I took my attention off the sword and looked at Hadley. “If Waldo had his way I would be dead but it would be much worse for you.” Swish. “You would be forced to use your gift to find out who was cheating in his casinos.” Swish. “You would, by now, probably have been raped by a majority of De Castro’s retinue, including De Castro himself.” Swish swish. “You would be fed from by several vampires at a time while you were laid on a table for their pleasure.” Swish swish swish.
“The Queen coddles her, she deserves no more than he would give her. Look how easily the whore gave herself to the Northman!” Swish swish. “You’re a stupid blood bag who isn’t fit to lick my shoes! You stand there with that sword but you don’t have the mettle to strike me!” Swish swish swish. “Go on little human! Take off my head! End me!”
He laughed maniacally, goading me, mocking me. I met Hadley’s eyes, they were gleaming, she grabbed a handful of Waldo’s hair, keeping his head straight and nodded. I swung the sword at his neck and closed my eyes; there was a thunk of metal hitting flesh and a gurgling noise. I opened my eyes and watched Hadley drop his severed head, seconds later it seemed to melt into ash and bloody goo. I dropped the sword and sank to my hands and knees, retching my stomach contents onto the tiled floor before everything went black.
I could feel the restraints as I came to, my arms were bound across my chest and my legs were pinned down across the thighs, I opened my eyes experimentally and found myself in darkness. I wriggled in my bindings and they gripped me tighter, my heart raced, wondering if I was in one of the cells in the vampire wing.
“Shh … its okay Sookie, I’ve got you.”
I shook my head a little trying to clear the mental fog and gain some idea of where I was, I inhaled deeply and my senses were filled with a distinct masculine scent … Eric. I turned and felt his hair brushing against my cheek, relief filled me, I wasn’t restrained as much as held in an uber-snuggle. I also wasn’t in a cell, as my eyes accustomed to the light levels I took in my surroundings, I recognised the mouldings on the door and the elaborate frame of the painting on the wall next to it.
“Eric? Are we in your room?”
“Yes Lover, you fainted and I brought you back here. I was unsure how long you would be unconscious and found I didn’t want to leave you by yourself.”
“You were … worried about me?”
“Yes, it is a perturbing development. I was concerned you would be frightened when you woke and wanted to be close so I could comfort you, I don’t believe I’ve ever done something like this for a human before.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Fine … I think. Did I chop of Waldo’s head and send him to his final death?”
“You did, the way you wielded that blade, toying with him, making him think you wouldn’t do it.” His mouth nuzzled against my neck and I felt his length harden against my hip as he spoke about my vengeful streak making an entrance. “You showed no weakness in your strike, you were magnificent!”
“I wouldn’t have done anything if Hadley hadn’t gotten me so worked up and angry at him, him opening his big mouth just pushed me over the edge.” His arm loosened and a hand cupped my breast as his erection pressed into my side.
“Mmmmm … well it also got me quite worked up and I would very much like to see if my mouth could push you over the edge.”
“Eric! I just killed someone! How can you be horny at a time like this?”
“Oh Sookie.” He chuckled lightly. “You aren’t the sweet little girl that many think you are and every time you do something to prove how strong you are it makes me want you. You didn’t kill an innocent; you took out an enemy, its cause for a celebration!”
I was about to turn and face him when I remembered I would probably have puke breath. I wriggled out of his embrace and got out of bed, patting at the nightstand trying to find a lamp and coming up with nothing. The room filled with soft light from the other side of the bed and I looked at Eric to find him sitting up, naked and ready to ‘celebrate’.
“Give me a minute.”
I shakily made my way to the bathroom and turned back at the door to discover Eric smirking at me and stroking himself. I felt the blood rush to my face, and other places, and shut myself in the bathroom, stripping off all my icky clothes as I filled the sink with cold water. I still couldn’t fully understand everything that was happening to me, I got involved with vampires and that I could handle. I could also handle the no nonsense approach vampires had towards people who wronged them, the violence of it all would take a little getting used to.
What I was struggling to handle was the way Eric was with me, it was the opposite of the romance novels I had read in the past where the hero always stepped in so the heroine wouldn’t have to fight. He wanted me to fight, he wanted me to stand up for myself, when people fear me and when I hurt those who have wronged me he gets turned on – is that messed up? Or is it more messed up to have a man who never lets you speak for yourself and wraps you in cotton wool? He said it himself in not so many words that my strength makes him want me, he wants me, he wants me. So why the hell am I in here when he’s on the bed, naked, hard, beautiful and powerful?
I splashed water on my face and neck and rinsed my mouth out before opening the door and attempting to lean seductively on the doorframe. Eric was in the same position I left him in but when he saw I was wearing just as much as he was his posture changed and his fangs ran out. He beckoned me back to the bed with the hand that wasn’t moving up and down his rigid shaft and I didn’t need to be asked twice.
I left Eric’s room moments before dawn and took the walk of shame back to my apartment. I was passing by the human guards, they only work in the vampire wing on the mornings after the Were’s have to change, when Bryan stopped me by putting a hand on my arm. Through his thoughts I knew what he wanted to ask me before the words came out of his mouth.
“Sookie, I heard that you took out a vampire last night.”
“Yeah Bryan, he tried to arrange for me to be taken by another state and he also planned to kill my cousin.”
“Shit Sookie.” Bryan and Dom laughed. “Remind me never to piss you off girl! You’d make a kick-ass vampire!”
I laughed with them as I walked away but inside I was terrified. If the humans thought I would make a good vampire, did that mean the vampires did too? No matter, if they did they couldn’t turn me not without voiding my … shit! The contract wouldn’t matter if I was turned, my maker would call all the shots. I sighed heavily as I entered my room, I was too tired to think about that right now, I took my outfit off and threw it in the trash before flopping on my bed.
I was about to drift off when my cell rang out. I let out a screech of frustration and stomped over to the counter to pick it up. Gran, why the hell would she be calling me this early?
“Hi Gran is everything okay?”
“Oh Sookie! I’ve been up all night holding a shotgun on the door!”
“What!? Why? Is someone trying to get in?”
“Well no, but all night I’ve heard wolves howling in the woods and I had this … compulsion to call you as soon as it was light but I’m … I’m not sure why.”
Oh this was not good. “Gran, have you met those new neighbours yet?”
“No, I keep meaning to go over but … I don’t know why I haven’t.”
“Gran, don’t go over there and don’t let anyone in your house. In fact don’t even answer your door unless it’s someone you know like Jason or Sam. Something is going on and I’m gonna try and get back up there to find out what.”
“Well, you make it sound so serious Sookie! But if you’re determined to come all the way up here to put your mind at rest I won’t stop you.”
“Thanks Gran, I’ll call you later okay.”
“Okay child, bye now.”
I ended the call and sank to my knees in my little kitchenette, wondering if I should call Jason first or Sam. Jason, I needed him to make sure Gran was alright, there was one sure way she would have the compulsion to call me at dawn and that was if she’d been glamoured into wanting to do it. Why a vampire would glamour an old lady into making a phone call is the mystery or maybe not. Is it coincidence that Bill goes missing and one of his descendants ends up dead? Is it coincidence that Gran would be glamoured into calling her Granddaughter who works for the Vampire Queen? No, there’s no coincidence here. I hoped my brother answered even though it was so early.
“Jason! I need you to check on Gran.”
“What? Is she hurt? Why would she call you and not me if she hurt herself?”
“I …” I sighed, how do I explain this? “Something strange is going on, it might involve her new neighbours, I need you to go over there with a doctor and make sure she’s not anaemic, the doc should check for a … rash either under her arms or high up on her thigh. Don’t ask questions just do it please?”
“Shit Sook, you sound scared and that’s enough to make me do it right now. I’ll call you later when I’ve got news.”
“Thanks Jase, I speak to you later.”
I went into the bathroom and splashed more cold water on my face to keep me awake then I dialled the only number I had for Sam.
“You’ve reached Merlotte’s bar and grill. We’re closed right now, if you call back between the hours of 10 am and 1am we’ll be glad ta help ya out. Take care now ya hear.”
Shit. I called Jason back and asked if he had a different number for Sam, he was confused but gave me Sam’s cell number, again assuring me that he’d call as soon as the doctor checked Gran over. I made sure to enter Sam’s number in the memory of my phone in case I ever needed it again and crossed my fingers as it rang.
“Sam? It’s Sookie, I’m sorry to call after you’ve probably had a … busy night but I need to talk to you.”
“Sookie! I was gonna call you when I woke up. There’s …”
“Were’s in the woods near my Grans and vampires living in the house across the graveyard from her?”
“Uh … yeah. How did you work that out?”
“She called me; she had a compulsion to call me at first light after hearing howling in the woods the first night of the full moon. I need you to somehow make contact with the male vampire staying in the old Compton place, his name is Bill and I think he needs my help.”
“Well if I can I’ll tell him his message came through loud and clear. I take it you’ll be coming home soon?”
“Yes and I’ll be bringing some friends with me.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be in touch as soon as I hear something Chere.”
“Thanks Sam, I … I don’t know what I’d do without you there. Bye.”
I went back over to lie down on the bed, trying to block out the thoughts of Bill and his maker Lorena glamouring and possibly feeding from my Gran. Sleep was a long time coming, but I needed to rest and be at the top of my game if I was going to clear up more of Waldo’s mess.
Unsurprisingly I was woken by my phone, I leaned over and grabbed it from the nightstand, it was Jason.
“Jason, how is she?”
“Yeah you were right about the anaemia; Doc Mosley gave her a prescription for iron tablets and vitamins.”
“And the rash?”
“No rash where you told us to check but there were some sores under her arms, looked like they’d opened and bled a little.” Fucking bitch!
“Okay Jason, now I want you to stay with Gran, I’ll be coming home soon, real soon but you have to stay there and make sure she doesn’t invite anyone she doesn’t know into the house.”
“Sookie you’re talkin’ like someone’s done this to her. If you know somethin’, if Gran told you about this, I wanna know.”
“Jase.” I huffed out a breath and rubbed my hand over my face. “Gran didn’t tell me anything, I’ve … I’ve just worked things out on my own. I think the folks that moved into the old Compton place are vampires and they’ve been … using Gran but don’t worry I’ll be bringing some folks up to deal with it very soon … I hope.”
“So if anyone shows up at the door we don’t know, we shouldn’t let them in.”
“Yes, and don’t look them in the eye and if they come in without being invited you need to tell them you rescind their invitation.”
“Right, okay. Sook?”
“Should I be scared or angry?”
“A little of both’ll do you good. Just take care of Gran until I get there. I’ll be in touch.”
“Okay Sook, I love ya lil sis.”
“Love you too Jase.”
To say I was angry would be a massive, massive understatement. That we now had some proof that Lorena and perhaps Bill had been feeding from my Gran made me ten times as angry as I’d been when I chopped off Waldo’s head. She was an old woman, who’d probably gone to their door to welcome them to the neighbourhood and what did they do? They glamoured her into thinking she hadn’t met them and drank her blood. Bill must have known who she was, he knew my surname and he knew my Gran lived across the graveyard from the Compton place. I was willing to put money on old Jessie Compton having an un-natural death so they could hide out in his house.
Lorena probably thought no-one would know them or know that Bill was related to old Jessie, but she did think to have Were’s scouting around, which meant she was willing to put up a fight to keep Bill there. Eric and I had briefly spoken about the chance that Bill wouldn’t want to come back, but if he got the chance to glamour my Gran into calling me it was a message that he wanted to be found. I just hope he hadn’t put my Gran in more danger by doing it.
I checked the time, it was later than I thought, I’d probably be waking up in an hour or so on a normal day. I drew a bath and tried to soak the stress from my muscles, thinking about the best way to do things. I dried myself and dressed in sweats and a t-shirt before calling to leave a message for Eric. It was one of those automated messages but then I wondered what an answering service message from Eric would sound like, it was the first time I smiled all day.
“Hi Eric it’s Sookie, I’ve found out where Bill is and let’s just say it’s a very large problem and I’m taking it very personally. Come and find me as soon as you get this.”
I went downstairs to speak to Tom about everything I’d discovered; it was going to be a long day for me.