Chapter 15 – Come Back
The compound was a hive of activity, after I’d told Tom the details of my theory of Bill’s whereabouts and who he and Lorena had been feeding from, he sprang into action. Knowing there were Were’s in the woods was his first port of call. While he was on the phone to the closest pack master, I searched the internet for detailed maps of the area so we could have as much information for the vampires when they rose for the night.
I was in the dining room with all my print outs spread across a table, making notes on them with a big red pen when Sadie and Cora came in. They looked at me nervously, wondering what I was doing, remembering how I’d screamed at them the night before. Seeing me in their heads was very scary, I looked wild with rage, which I guess I was. I cursed inwardly at myself for letting myself get so angry and I silently cursed at Hadley for playing on it. My whole time at Valmont, I had trained myself with the help of the doctor’s and therapist’s into avoiding anger by dealing with things before they came to a head. Sure some things still happened but if I hadn’t controlled my emotions things would have been a hell of a lot worse.
When I had first been admitted to Valmont I had been very, very angry. Not at any one person but at my situation, my own body having such a freaky disability. It took a long time for me to see having telepathy as anything other than a betrayal of nature. For a short while, I actually thought maybe I was sick in the head and I took the treatments and the therapy but it was a very, very short while. For another while I thought that God had given me a curse to punish me for something, which made me really angry at him but after thinking about how everything happens for a reason, I came to the conclusion that reading people’s minds was something I was supposed to do. Maybe to protect myself and it helped with that a lot, I saw situations in people’s heads before they could act on them and used it to diffuse any potential attacks on me and some of the other girls in there. Then Sophie-Ann and Hadley came and I was even more certain that reading minds was what I was made for.
Yet all of that self-discipline blew away in the wind when I discovered a situation I hadn’t been able to read and control. Is that why I got so angry? Because I had no control over it? I had been in close proximity to Waldo many times in the residence and because he was a vampire I couldn’t see the situation that was heading my way. That was probably part of it. Another part was his plan to kill Hadley, which I had also been prevented from seeing. If only I could read vampire minds, this could all have been avoided, but then Sophie-Ann would probably have killed me when she and Hadley came across me that fateful night. I would never have read about the Marie Leveau plan from Robyn and Hadley would be finally dead, we would both be dead rather than Waldo.
It didn’t disturb me that I’d killed him; goodness knows he deserved it and if I hadn’t done it someone else would have. It was the way that I’d killed him, he was chained to a chair with silver and Hadley was baring his neck to me to make it easier. I’m not squeamish, I stand up for myself and if he’d came at me with his fangs or a knife I’d feel infinitely better about sending him to his final death. It’s not like I could ask for a rematch though is it? Eric had said that I’d taken out my enemy, and I had but I just didn’t feel my actions were honourable.
“Penny for them!” I looked up and Tom was leaning against the table, despite his light hearted comment his face was serious.
“Hey Tom, what did you find out?”
“Colonel Flood is pretty sure that no-one from his pack is that far from Shreveport and he’s curious about the were’s in Bon Temps. He’s not too happy that they didn’t have the courtesy to let him know they’d be hunting near his area.”
“So he’s looking into it?”
“Oh yes but only as a personal favour to me. He said he’d be going out to Bon Temps personally with a few high ranking members of his pack.”
“Probably, I’m pretty sure once the Queen finds out that some vampires have been snacking on her favourite child’s Granny she’ll wanna move on this ASAP.” I nodded mutely and went back to circling and identifying paths and properties around the area the were’s were supposed to be. “Sookie, I heard about what happened last night. Do you want to talk about it?”
“I killed someone.” I shrugged and sighed. “I got angry, I lost control and took the head off someone who’s only way of defending themselves was some nasty comments.”
“So it’s the fact he wasn’t physically fighting back that’s got ya spooked or is it the loss of control?”
“Both. I know what kind of world I’m in Tom. Letting my anger get the better of me can put me in a whole heap of trouble.”
“Sure it can but for all of us there are instances where there just isn’t time to react rationally. Anger, focussed anger, can keep you safe. When you’re just plain angry at everyone is where problems show up.” I just looked at him blankly. “You were right to get angry, sure it wasn’t what you’d perceive to be an honourable kill, but in that situation it was the right thing to do. Now, I know whatever I say to you you’re gonna beat yourself up over it, because that’s the kind of person you are and believe me I don’t wanna change that. You would forgive Hadley if she’d killed him; you need to forgive yourself for it too. You’ll never forget what you did, killing someone stays in your memory forever, but don’t let it haunt you.”
I sagged in my chair and let the tears flow, there were voices shooing out other people in the room and then I was being held against a hard chest, soaking the shirt I was huddled into.
As soon as the sun set and I’d finally stopped sobbing, Tom and I went to the conference room. He’d already sent a message to Sophie-Ann briefing her on the situation and letting her know where we’d be. I had spread the maps out on the table and was pointing out the woods around my Gran and the Compton property when Eric, Sophie-Ann, Hadley, Andre and the Bert’s stormed in. Eric was at my side in an instant asking me what was wrong.
Once I’d explained the situation there was a mass of phone calls being made. It was clear to me from what I could overhear that we’d be heading to Bon Temps tonight just as Tom predicted. Pam, as acting Sherriff of the area was informed and told to rally troops, colonel Flood was called to appraise us of the situation and then I was asked to call Sam as it would be the easiest place for us to meet and make final plans. Hadley was pacing back and forth clenching her fists; Andre went over and placed a hand on her shoulder to calm her. Just like a brother would. He may be creepy but he was fiercely loyal and cared deeply for his Queen and maker and would fight for his siblings. Just as I was pulling out my phone to call him, Sam’s name flashed on the caller ID as it rang.
“Hi Sam I was just about to call you.”
“Chere. I ran out real quick as the sun went down and checked out the Compton house. As soon as I got near I was surrounded by 5 Wolves, I got close enough to determine that there are more than 2 vampires around there though.”
“Wow, so we’re up against more than just possibly Lorena, Bill and a couple of pups huh? We’re heading up tonight, as soon as possible, would it be okay to convene at Merlotte’s? The vamps won’t need an invite and there’ll be more space than at my Gran’s.”
“Of course, this gang are bound to be a bigger problem the longer they’re here, I’m happy to help. Just let me know when you’re about an hour out and I’ll do last call and get the place empty.”
“Thank you so much Sam, we really appreciate you chipping in with this.”
“No problem Chere. I’ll be seein’ ya.”
“Yeah take care Sam.”
I blew out a breath and discovered I had an audience. There was no need for me to explain what had just went on, they could hear it all with their super duper supernatural hearing.
“Tom.” The Queen was most definitely in charge here. “Gather the strongest, but leave enough here to ensure a secure perimeter, we will be back tomorrow evening.” Tom nodded and left the room. “Siegebert, Wybert you will remain here outside my office and convince any visitors I am busy rather than absent.”
“My Queen?” Andre fell to one knee in front of Sophie-Ann. “Perhaps you should remain here, I will go. There is no need for you to dirty your hands with this issue.”
“Are you joking?” Sophie-Ann snorted. “All the evidence points towards that bitch, who went against a direct order, proceeded to do the bidding of one of my underlings despite my order, and fed from Hadley and Sookie’s Grandmother. I want to see her stand up to me in person; I want to smell her fear but most of all I think I need to remind some vampires of why I am Queen. To coin a modern phrase – I’m taking out the trash personally.”
I stifled a giggle at her last comment and I felt Eric tense next to me. “Sookie, I would prefer for you to remain here. There’s no need for you to put yourself in harm’s way but I will understand if you feel the need to be close to the action, it is your family who is in fear.”
“It’s not just that Eric; I’m not as concerned with being near the action as I am about Gran. I want to see her and make sure she’s okay. Plus me being there’ll smooth things over with Sam a whole lot more.”
“Agreed. If we are meeting at the Shifter’s bar it would be wise to have a familiar face. You will bring your gun and I will give you a knife to keep on your person, just in case.”
Eric and I went back to my room so I could pack a bag and feed him in private. Although I was comfortable with him drinking from me, I wasn’t willing to sit in a room with other vampires and donors doing the same thing. The fact I smelled of Were didn’t impress him but I managed to convince him that Tom had just held me while I cried and that I would have preferred if it had been him. 90 minutes after sunset we were ready to leave, everyone going to Bon Temps was waiting in the foyer so we could travel in a convoy. Quite a few of the donors and staff were milling around, I dropped my shields and found they were more curious than suspicious. I smiled at Sadie and was just about to go over and apologise for being so crazy the night before when her phone rang and she wandered off to answer it so I turned to Cora instead.
“Hey Cora, I’m real sorry about last night. I hope I didn’t scare you.”
“Uh … well you were pretty angry but I guess I would be too if someone took something from my room. You know Robyn is with the donors now?”
“Is she? At least she’s safe, she knew she was doing wrong but Waldo ordered her to do it so she couldn’t say no.”
Cora just nodded but spun round when she heard her name being called, Sadie was beckoning her wildly. I didn’t stay to physically overhear their conversation but I dropped my shields to try and find out what was happening.
Why did she have to call tonight? It’s obvious something’s going on here, with so few guards there’s no way we’ll be allowed out of the compound to meet with her.
I frowned and made my way over to Rasul to tell him what I’d heard just in case they tried to sneak out and ended up getting into trouble. I was just about to get into Eric’s corvette when I felt like someone’s eyes were burning a hole in my back, I looked around at everyone else piling into cars and found Frank staring at me. Oh Boy, this wasn’t going to be a fun trip at all.
All of the stress caught up with me as soon as I was in the quiet of the car and being lulled by the smooth purring of the engine. I felt myself being shaken and a deep voice saying my name, just before I opened my eyes I had a flash of Waldo bearing down on me about to rip out my throat. I sat bolt upright, slightly breathless with the shock until I realised it had been a dream.
“Sookie! Sookie are you alright?”
I shook my head trying to bring my consciousness front and centre, I don’t know how long it was before I eventually answered. I didn’t remember the entire dream, just that last part but it disorientated me enough that I had to get my bearings.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m … I just had a bad dream.”
“I felt your anxiety.” Crap. I forgot he’d be able to do that now. “Was it about …”
Eric just nodded. “I have been thinking about that, I should have realised last night that you were more disturbed by what you had done than you let on. In my defence it has been a very long time since I had to deal with the emotions I’ve been feeling from you and mistakenly assumed distraction was the best course of action.”
“Oh. Well … thanks for thinking about me.”
“It’s something I do more than I expected I would and not just since you had my blood.”
“Did you wake me because of the dream or … oh shit! How far away are we? I told Sam I’d call when we were about an hour away so he could close the bar to the public.”
“And that is another reason why I woke you. You’ve slept for most of the journey, do you want to stop and see to your needs before you call Merlotte?”
“Oh God yes!”
As if the word ‘needs’ was magic, my bladder decided to make it know to my brain that it was incredibly full. Fortunately there was a gas station with restroom less than 10 minutes away, when I got back into the car I found a pre-made salad bowl with a big bag of chips and a bottle of Snapple on my seat.
“Aww honey! You bought me food!”
“Honey? There is nothing here with honey in it.”
“No Eric it’s a term of endearment. Thank you for the eats, I hadn’t even thought about it.” Eric nodded as I fished out my phone to call Sam.
“Hey Sookie, you guys almost here?”
“Yeah, we’ll be there in about an hour, we’re just outside Shreveport.”
“Okay, I think some friends of yours have been in here already.”
“Vamp or Were?”
“The first type, girl with long blonde hair.” I looked at Eric and he mouthed ‘Pam’ at me.
“That was Pam; she’s Eric’s child and acting Sherriff of the area.”
“She just walked in, looked around and walked back out again. Probably just checking the layout before people arrive.” Eric nodded to confirm what Pam had been doing.
“Yep Sam, that’s right. I’ll see you soon okay?”
“Sure thing Chere.”
I munched into my salad and chips as Eric called Pam to make sure she was able to arrange enough donors to accommodate for injuries. He was silent for a while then sucked an unnecessary breath through his teeth and hung up. I could see his jaw clenching as I bagged up my trash and sipped on my drink.
“Is something wrong?”
“Pam has insisted that Bobby be present so he can ensure the donors are well behaved in Merlotte’s and be on hand for instructions that may need to be carried out as needed.”
“And that’s bad? Won’t it be useful for him to do those things?”
“You aren’t uncomfortable with this?” He looked incredulous. “No-one knows of your … liaison with Bobby but he will be a great help in co-ordinating things in the eventuality that this visit is drawn out too close to dawn.”
“Well, we discussed things the morning after and knew that we’d have to maintain some level of contact due to the nature of our jobs. To be honest I’m more uncomfortable with Frank being here than Bobby.”
“This is certainly turning out to be a drama for you isn’t it Lover?”
“Isn’t it always?” I met his wry smile with my own and looked down as he took my hand. He held it all the way to Bon Temps.
The cars in our convoy took up most of the remaining spaces in the parking area at Merlotte’s. There were already a number of cars there, including a few minivans. I was hoping that Sam had managed to clear out the regular customers and these vehicles belonged to the Shreveport Wolves and the Area 5 entourage we were expecting. Eric ran round to open my door for me and took my hand to help me out of the car, it was a very gentlemanly gesture and it always surprised me when he done it.
Hand in hand we entered the bar, the action causing many of the non-compound members of the team to open their mouths in surprise, especially Bobby. I waved nervously at him and he smiled back, nothing would be given away that could blow Eric’s cover as the master cherry popper. There was a large group of donors on the far side of the bar, around 20, Sophie-Ann jumped up and landed on the bar making sure she had everyone’s attention.
“We all know why we are here, Long Tooth pack – what have you to report?”
“Excuse me your … Ms. LeClerq.” I held up my hand to show I wanted to speak and the Queen nodded. “Could I check the donors before we go into the details?”
“Ah! Yes Sookie, wonderful idea!”
I walked over and stood in front of them, scanning their minds briefly before stopping on one man in his late 20’s.
“You. What’s your name?”
“Uh … Wendell ma’am. Can I help you?”
“Are you a registered donor Wendell?” And there it was flashing across his thoughts, no he wasn’t registered – because he had Sino-AIDS, the only known blood disease that affected vampires. I turned to the crowd. “Has anyone fed from this man before?”
The vampire who nodded was known to me, it was the bartender from Fangtasia, a Native American. I’d only caught a glimpse of him when I was there. Pam stepped forward and asked why it was important.
“Well Pam, this man has Sino-AIDS; if … that vampire has fed from him then he’s in for a rough ride.” Pam hissed and grabbed Wendell, taking him outside. “All of the others are clean but will need to be heavily glamoured afterwards.”
Pam came back in moments later; I asked her what she’d done with Wendell. She told me she’d glamoured him into never allowing another vampire to feed from him but whether that was the truth was anyone’s guess. Everyone turned their attention back to the Queen and she motioned for the were’s to start their report. An older gentleman stood up, his hair was military grade short and greying at the temples.
“Queen Sophie-Ann, I am Pack Master Colonel John Flood.” He swept a hand around the table he was at making us more aware of his companions. “These gentlemen are Patrick Furnan, Jackson Herveaux and his son Alcide. We managed to speak with the group of were’s, they’d been hired for security during the daytime and are only using the woods to run – not hunt. They apologised for not letting the local Pack master know they were in the area and I accepted. I don’t see an issue for Werewolves to deal with in Bon Temps so we’ll be going.”
I was confused and fairly annoyed with his attitude, when they stood up to leave and the Queen said nothing my annoyance got the better of me. Eric snaked an arm around my waist, I’m not sure if it was to discourage me from saying something or to support me.
“Wait! You say it’s not your problem but those wolves scared an old lady who lived alone into staying up all night with a shotgun at her side.” The complete lack of concern was etched across their faces; I had a sudden flash of inspiration. “There are a lot of hunters in this area, who after hearing about my Gran’s fear would have gone into those woods to find them, their behaviour could potentially unveil the existence of were’s to the humans of the town!”
“Okay Barbie, you’ve got a point. If they don’t survive and a pack comes looking I’ll explain that to them and lead them away from the vamps direction. That good enough for ya sweetheart?” The patronising tone of his voice was accompanied by a condescending smile. This did not go unnoticed by Eric or Sophie-Ann, who both bared their fangs in Colonel Flood and his friends direction but surprisingly it was Tom who confronted them.
“John there’s no need to speak to Sookie that way. I know you came here as a favour to me, but you’ve insulted a lady who I respect very much, consider me not kicking your ass the return of said favour.”
Colonel Flood sneered at Tom and looked like he was going to push past him like they were love rivals in high school until Tom got flanked by Will and Frank and he gave up. I don’t know what kind of history the Colonel and Tom had but even with an extra Were on John’s gang the pack members didn’t want to mess with him. Just as they were about to walk out Eric calmly moved away from me called Jackson’s name as he got to the door. Both Jackson and his son Alcide, who was the second most handsome male in the bar, turned slowly to face my vampire.
“You will remain here and protect the Stackhouse property tonight. It’s worth $15,000.”
Jackson nodded solemnly and made his way back to the table, much to the irritation of Alcide, who huffed, glared and sat down next to his Dad. I thought we had enough force when you add the vampires of area five with the staff from the compound that travelled up. I looked at Eric and he was smirking like he won something, that was when I got it, for some reason Eric had more power over Jackson than his own pack master and he’d just publicly proven that. The way he brought money into it made me wonder if Jackson owed him money. Whatever the reason, I was glad that there would be some extra bodies around my Gran’s, I had my gun and a knife, Sam would be there and Jason was probably armed but having a couple of Were’s around into the bargain made me feel a little better.
I zoned out a little for the rest of the ‘war-council’. I was trying to make myself as small as possible to avoid the glances Frank and Bobby were throwing my way, thankfully Frank had been grouped with the team who would be attacking from the rear of the Compton property and Bobby would be staying here in Merlotte’s with the donors. Sam would be taking me to Gran’s and staying outside with the reluctant Were volunteers. Eric came over to see me before they all moved out.
“This should be short and sweet my Sookie. Unless I am seriously injured I will come to you at your Grandmother’s house. You will be informed when it is over.”
I would have answered him but anything I said would have been interrupted by the toe-curling kiss he laid on me. I could feel my lips tingling as I got into Sam’s truck and called Jason to let him know I was on my way.