Chapter 18 – Have It All
Brief timeline for the last few chapters:
Sunday – Sookie’s reading at Nosferatu’s
Monday – Sookie & Eric become companions
Tuesday – Sookie gets call from Gran that makes her suspicious
Wednesday – Sookie Kills Waldo
Thursday – Gran compelled to call Sookie
Friday – Fight at the Compton house
And now it’s Saturday, wow quite the action packed week for our little telepath!
Jason was quickly getting showered and changed as my phone rang, it was Eric. I looked out of the window to see the sun hadn’t fully set yet and he told me he could rise a little earlier as he was older but had to stay in his light tight room until dark. He wanted to know if we would mind Pam joining us tonight, she thought a family get together was the perfect place to glean valuable snippets to tease people with. I told him there were going to be plenty of vampires there already and one more probably wouldn’t make a difference.
Just then Jason came back out and I called Gran to see if she wanted me to pick anything up on the way back but she said she was prepared and excited about our nocturnal visitors. The ride there was filled with Jason asking lots of questions about vampires. No, as far as I know garlic doesn’t kill them. Yes, they have reflections in the mirror and get photos taken just like anyone else. No, they aren’t scared of crosses or other religious artefacts.
When I told Gran the Pam would be coming she asked who she was and I told her straight, Pam was Eric’s child. I then went on to explain that Hadley was Sophie-Ann’s child and, just so there wouldn’t be any more shocks, that they were in love and cared about each other a great deal.
“So Hadley’s a rug muncher?”
“JASON! Let’s not apply labels, people fall in love, sexual orientation and love are two different things.”
“Geez. Sorry Sook!”
“Sookie’s right Jason. We can’t help who we fall in love with, if they’re happy then that’s all that matters.” Gran slapped Jason’s hand as it crept towards the platter of snacks she had made for us human’s and asked me how she should serve the Trueblood.
“Uh … I’m not sure. I’ve never seen a vampire drink it.”
Both Jason and Gran looked confused but Gran spoke first. “But I thought that was the whole point of them coming out to the public? They no longer needed to feed on humans because they had this.”
“Well they don’t have to feed on human blood if they don’t want to, but most of them do and there are registered human donors who allow them to feed from them.” I shrugged and turned to Jason. “Just because you can buy venison in the supermarket are you gonna stop hunting when the season comes?”
“What? No! It don’t taste the same unless you shoot it and work for it.”
“It’s a little the same. The synthetic blood will keep them alive but feeding from a donor is … a better experience.”
“Well what should I do with these?”
I took a bottle from the fridge and read the instructions. “Says here they only take 30 seconds to heat in the microwave, so it’s probably best to leave them in there and if any of our visitors want one we can take out as many was we need.”
Gran nodded and started taking glasses out of a cupboard and Jason looked at me with his head cocked to one side like a curious puppy.
“Your man … Eric. He feed off you?”
I gulped and cleared my throat. “Yes.”
Gran dropped a glass and came over to give me a hug. “Oh child I’m so sorry!”
“What? Why?” I looked in her eyes and remembered everything she’d been through the last few days. “It’s not like that Gran, he’s very gentle and he doesn’t make me forget afterwards. It doesn’t hurt and he always heals any marks he leaves.”
Jason snorted. “From what Dawn blabbed on about, it’s anything but gentle and she was covered in fang marks.” He shook his head. “I guess you got yourself a good one Sook.”
“It’s a bit different Jason, Dawn was a fangbanger. She went to vampires specifically for sex and to be bitten; she used them as much as they used her.”
“Yeah.” He looked forlornly at his beer. “I guess she used a lot of people.”
There was a loud knocking on the door and all three of us wandered into the hall to answer it. Gran opened the door and the three of us put on our 100 watt Stackhouse smiles to greet whoever was there. Hadley was front and centre with Andre and Sophie-Ann either side, behind them stood Eric, Pam and Bill.
“Everyone, please come in. You’re all welcome in my home.”
Gran stood back and allowed them to pass her and me and Jason ushered them into the living room. As Eric nodded and passed her, Gran caught my attention and jerked her head slightly mouthing ‘Is he yours?’ I nodded and she looked at his back, her eyes widening as they settled on his butt. She looked back at me and when everyone was inside she nudged my arm and fanned herself with her other hand. I giggled and shook my head, she might be old but she sure as hell wasn’t blind!
In the living room the vampires were surrounding Sophie-Ann as she sat on the armchair by the fireplace – Gran’s usual chair – while Jason sat in the chair by the window and Gran and I sat on the sofa. For a while it seemed like everyone was waiting for someone else to speak, then I realised that I was the middleman, middlewoman, middleperson? I nervously stood and introduced the vampires to my family that still had a heartbeat. Gran and Jason nodding and smiling nervously, I could hear Jason thinking he should just keep his mouth shut and smile cos if he said the wrong thing there’s no way he could take all of them. His thoughts changed to a place I didn’t want to follow when I introduced Pam.
“Well that’s the introductions out of the way! Can I get any of you a Trueblood?”
Every vampire looked at Gran like she’d just offered them dung but Hadley spoke first, probably because she had more of a sense of southern hospitality.
“Thank you for offering Gran but I ate before I left the safe house. Perhaps later?” She looked at all of the vampires and I could tell Gran was getting rather annoyed by their attitude. Hadley must have been communicating with Sophie-Ann through their mind link because just as Gran was about to stand and excuse herself to get some sweet tea for us, the Queen spoke.
“As Hadley said, we ate very recently but we will be sure to let you know if we require the synthetic blood you most graciously purchased for our visit.” Andre nodded and murmured his agreement.
“I will have a Trueblood Ma’am; I was starved during my time across the way and need to keep my strength up.” Bill piped up in a more southern accent than usual, then Eric followed his lead.
“I have not fed yet this evening, I will also partake.” He looked at Pam; well glared would be a more accurate description.
“I am fine, thank you for the offer of a beverage but I do not require one at this time.”
Gran smiled and I went into the kitchen with her to get the drinks. While the microwave was heating the bloods and Gran had finished pouring the tea, she put one hand on her hip and turned to me.
“Your … companion is it?”
I nodded. “Eric Northman.”
“Yes, Eric. He’s quite the looker, you seem happy with him.”
“I am happy, he’s very respectful.”
“Hmm … I’ve seen a lot in the papers about girls who have gotten involved with vampires. Did he … has he used his glamour on you?”
“Oh no! He can’t! I can’t be glamoured Gran, well not so far anyway.”
“I see, so it’s all your choice?”
I frowned and wondered where exactly this conversation was going. “Yes, mostly. There have been some things I’ve had to do for my safety but it’s been my choice to act upon the attraction we have for one another.”
“You know men that handsome were born to break hearts don’t you?”
“Yes but I also know that less than six months ago I never thought I’d get the opportunity to give my heart enough for someone to break. I’m happy right now and I’m still … in awe of the changes I’ve had in my life, I have feelings for Eric which is something I never thought I’d have the chance to have. So just let me enjoy the moment Gran, if it all goes to hell … well I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
She nodded and put a hand on my shoulder. “As much as I don’t want you to get hurt, I’m glad you’re actually … living. Not just existing in that hospital.”
The drinks were put on a tray and we walked back into the living room to find all of the vampires staring at us. Crap! Stupid super-hearing! Eris was grinning, as was Pam, in fact the only one of the bunch who looked less than pleased was Bill – he seemed kind of sullen, but maybe that was a result of the starvation. I also noticed Jason had dragged the window chair over closer to the vampires and now Pam was sitting on it and he was perched on the arm with his elbow casually resting on the back.
Once everyone was settled with drinks we started on the events of the last few days. Bill confirmed that on Monday night my Gran had come to the Compton house to introduce herself, as soon as she said her last name Bill knew who she was, Lorena then fed from her in front of a chained up Bill and made him glamour her to forget. The next night was the same. Then on Wednesday night Malcolm, Liam and Diane had show up with their pets, again Bill was made to glamour Gran but while they were having an orgy he took the opportunity to try and send a message to me.
It was horrible how Bill had been held captive in silver chains and starved but I was quite thankful that he hadn’t fed from my Gran too – commanded by maker or not, that was something I’d never forget about even if I did forgive him. Hadley asked Gran to show her the marks and Gran lifted the sleeves of her blouse to show us.
“I’ll fucking kill her!”
“Hadley! You may be a vampire now but you are still my granddaughter. I will not tolerate that kind of language in my home!”
“I … I’m sorry Gran. I just can’t stand to see you looking like some … like some common fangbanger! I can heal them, if you’ll let me?”
Sophie-Ann put her hand on Hadley’s arm and they exchanged a meaningful glance. “Mrs. Stackhouse, Hadley is correct in that a vampire’s blood can heal but she is so young it would take you ingesting quite an amount of her blood to make any kind of difference. If I may make the suggestion that I be the one to heal your wounds? I can apply my blood directly to the marks and that should prevent them from scarring.”
“Oh. Well it’s a lovely offer …”
“Psht.” Sophie-Ann waved a hand. “If it were not for you I would not have my Hadley or my Sookie.” At that Eric gave a slight growl behind her. “Sorry, our Sookie. Also I believe this incident wouldn’t have happened if one of my other children hadn’t gone quite mad with jealousy. I feel it is the least I can do.”
Gran nodded and followed Hadley and Sophie-Ann into the bathroom, Andre stood guard outside the door or maybe he just wanted to be close to the remainder of his vampire family. Seeing as there was nothing to really guard against I was willing to bet it was the latter.
“So Pam.” Please Jason … don’t do it. “Seein’ as my sister is datin’ your Dad here, maybe we could all go out together, a double date.” Oh Lord!
“Um … a double date is out of the question. You aren’t my usual type but you smell nice. I will consider booty call but refuse to commit to anything more.” I saw Jason’s eyes light up.
“Okay! So, Bill, how are you feeling now?” Yes, Sookie, make it painfully obvious you want to change the subject!
“I’m … relieved at being released from my captivity, Lorena always took such joy in treating me badly. We spent a lot of time together after I was turned, we were very close, in a way I love her and I always will but I know that the Queen will not tolerate Lorena disobeying her so blatantly. I know that very soon I will be free of Lorena’s control, as long as she walks the earth I will be enthralled by her.”
I looked at Pam then Eric. “Is that unusual? I mean you guys seem to enjoy working together and are more like friends than maker and child.”
“It is fairly common for makers to abuse their children but Lorena kept Bill tethered to her for an inordinately long time after his turning. I released Pam a long time ago and because we have a mutual respect she agreed to come back to me to work at Fangtasia.”
Bill looked at Pam with a cold expression, whether he was jealous or thought she was spoiled was anyone’s guess. Gran, Hadley, Sophie-Ann and Andre came back in and started making noises about getting back to New Orleans to check the damage on the compound and deal with the various problems that had become apparent over the last few nights. I went to get my bag from my room and came back to find Gran and Eric alone in the living room. Eric must have heard me because he turned his head in my direction, causing Gran to notice me too.
“Come here child!” I went over and gave her a big hug and a kiss on the forehead, telling her I’d call her as soon as I knew what was happening. “Well, you get outside now and wait for your man. I’d like a chat with him before y’all run off.”
Oh dear. Maybe I should have tried to prepare him a little better? It’s possible she’s just going to say much the same things Jason did the night before but Gran has always been a little unpredictable. I hope Eric will be okay.
“Is he getting the third degree from your Grandmother?”
“Yes Pam, I believe he is.”
Pam cackled and unlocked a bubblegum pink Audi TT, her head still thrown back in laughter as she peeled away from the farmhouse. I went over to stand next to Eric’s corvette to find Bill already there.
“Sookie, I was hoping I’d get the chance to speak to you in private.”
“Sure Bill, what do you want to talk about?”
“Well, first I’d like to thank you, from the bottom of my unbeating heart for being astute enough to get my message. I thought you would be able to understand the implications of your Gran’s call but at my lowest points I had some doubts.” I nodded, that was understandable. “The other thing I wanted to speak to you about was the Northman. I understand that you’re his now but I just wanted to make sure you weren’t tricked or forced into anything.”
“My Gran asked me that too! There are some things that have been agreed to for my security but I haven’t been forced or tricked into anything, I assure you. I do appreciate you looking out for me though Bill.”
“Sookie, I can smell that you’ve had his blood and I know that you’re aware of the control that gives a vampire.”
“It was an accident; I really didn’t know what I was doing.”
“You were injured and he took advantage of you? Were you so badly injured you couldn’t go to a hospital? Oh Sookie I had no idea!”
“What? No! I … uh … got caught up in the moment and it turns out my teeth are pretty sharp.”
Bill’s eyes were opened so wide I could see the whites around the whole of his chocolate brown irises. “And yet here you are, standing before me. You must certainly be something very special Sookie; however, I know when my advances will make no progress. I would have liked you to be mine but I respect your decision and your personal affairs but be assured that if I catch the slightest hint that he is mistreating you, I will get involved.”
“Thank you Bill but I don’t think you’ll need to do that. I’m glad I have you looking out for me though.”
I put my hand on his shoulder and patted, knowing that if I got any closer it may give the wrong impression to Bill and Eric. Bill walked over to Andre’s Bentley, which from the sounds of things still had Lorena in the trunk, and got in next to Hadley in the back seat. I leaned against the Corvette and waved at them as they drove off, just then I heard voices and saw Gran seeing Eric to the door. He looked a little flustered and Gran looked smug, that sure wasn’t a good combination. We got in the car and waved goodbye to Bon Temps.
“Hey Eric! Where did Pam and Jason go?”
“I think your brother offered her a tour of his home.”
I groaned and leaned over, putting my head in my hands, this had the potential to be very stressful. “So what did Gran say?”
“Oh … much the same as your brother, with the addition of warning me that I should never stand in your way of meeting a nice southern man who can give you a family.” I laughed. “Sookie, I am unsure of why that would be amusing.”
“Oh Gran! I got put in the looney bin for my mind mojo, my childhood was hell and she thinks I’d ever take the risk of passing it onto a kid? Not only that, but being with a human man for a prolonged period of time would be … unbearable for me. Having to block out his thoughts all the time would be incredibly draining. Eric, honey, there’s nothing to stand in the way of.”
He smiled and nodded. I knew that his bugbear would be having to concede me to what he considered an inferior species but I drifted off for a nap in the hope that perhaps a part of him wouldn’t want to let me go for other reasons.
I woke up about an hour away from New Orleans, surprised that I’d slept for so long. I looked over at Eric and smiled at him.
“Is there anything else you want to talk about Eric?”
“I’m not sure what you mean Lover.”
“I know you heard me when I told Gran I had feelings for you.”
“Ah … yes … that. It was a pleasant to hear.”
“That I have feelings for you? I would have thought it was obvious.”
“It is but it’s also interesting for you to admit it vocally. Before I went to rest yesterday I called Pam, she commented on our hand holding and affection for each other. I was telling her how different you were to other human women and how much I cared for your wellbeing and happiness.”
“Okay, I guess you guys caring about a human’s happiness is pretty unusual.”
“Very but with you it seems … natural. I don’t think about the fact I’m doing simple things like holding your hand, it’s like my body just does it automatically. You make me feel things I thought I’d forgotten how to feel, emotions that lay dormant until you walked into my world.”
“Uh … okay. Is that just a fancy way of saying you have feelings for me too?”
“So we’re good then?”
We arrived at one of New Orleans many vampire friendly hotels, Andre checking in for all of us before we were led to the conference room by the manager. Mr. Cataliades was already in the room waiting for us, his briefcase surrounded by piles of paper and a jar full of pens in the middle of the table.
“Your Majesty.” He nodded deeply. “I have the insurance claims for everyone in your retinue, is this all of your party?”
“No Mr. Cataliades, Rasul, Melanie and several guards and donors are expected to join us.”
He shuffled the papers and started going around the table handing them out to us. It was the first time I’d ever had to think about claiming insurance, I didn’t even know I had insurance but Eric explained that every resident of the compound had contents insurance for their apartment and it was part of our remuneration package. I must have skipped that part when I read over the contract. I listed all of the replaceable items that would have been lost in the fire, clothes, shoes, laptop. There was a fund set aside for us to immediately replace necessary items, we were to keep the receipts and pay back the Queen when the insurance came through.
Rasul, Melanie, Frank, Will, Tom and a group of other guards and donors came in and were handed the same forms. Once everyone was finished the Queen stood at the head of the table and addressed us all.
“Tonight we will make our way to the Monastery in the Garden district to deal with some questioning then we will return here for sunrise. The problems with accommodation will be dealt with tomorrow night.”
Everyone nodded and left the hotel to pile into cars. The monastery was mostly finished its renovation and was looking very impressive so far, Andre shepherded us into the ballroom where 4 humans were tied to chairs. A heavily gloved Hadley, Will and Tom brought Lorena in and dumped her unceremoniously on the floor. She was bound in silver chains and had a silver ball gag on, you could see and smell the flesh around her mouth burning and the blood from her wounds had saturated the neck and shoulders of the tattered dress she wore. Hadley removed the gag and stood back.
“Lorena.” The Queen circled around her, Lorena looked scared, I would be too if I was in her position. “When William first informed me you had called him I contacted you about it, do you remember what I told you?”
“That he was on some special project and was not to be called.”
“That’s not all of it is it? I asked you if you required his presence for valid reasons did I not.”
“And is binding him with silver and forcing him to watch you feed then glamour your victims a valid reason?”
“How much did Waldo pay you?”
Lorena’s eyes widened. “He wired $100,000 into my offshore account and promised me my own area if his long term plan was achieved.”
“Your own area? Where?”
“Nevada. He said he would be owed a debt from them and that those who helped him would be rewarded by De Castro.”
“I see. Well, Waldo is dead and you are …” she turned to me and tapped her chin with her index finger. “Sookie please provide me with an appropriate human saying for this situation.”
“Uh … up shit creek without a paddle?”
“Delightful!” She giggled. “Yes Lorena you are most definitely up shit creek without a paddle!”
Lorena snarled and looked at Bill. “William as your maker I …”
The Queen kicked her in the face and cut her off. “What would you command him to do hmm? Kill me? Not a chance Lorena. You are a poor excuse for a vampire, a poor excuse for a maker and a poor excuse for a woman! You crossed me to cheat your way into powers you have not worked for nor have the temperament for.” She held her hand out to Andre who handed her a stake and a hammer; she placed the stake over Lorena’s heart. “Lorena Ball, I sentence you to final death. Your crimes are: Conspiring to kidnap an asset of my State, ignoring a direct order from a monarch, endangering an asset of my state, torture of a fealty sworn vampire of my state and generally pissing me off!”
The stake was hammered into her chest and she partially exploded, covering the Queen, Andre, Hadley and two of the human captives in blood. The Queen called for a cleanup crew and indicated the four humans on the chairs before looking at Rasul.
“Is this all you could capture?”
“Your Majesty.” Rasul bowed deeply. “Many were taken into police custody, 45 at the last count; these were all we were able to round up when they scattered. They were organised and well equipped, there are 3 were’s with Dr. Ludwig receiving treatment for injuries incurred by silver weapons.”
She nodded and asked me to see what I could find. Their minds were jumbled, fearful but still adamant they were right to do what they did. I went over them one by one asking certain questions, and got an awful lot of information not to mention the heebie jeebies. I shook off my distaste and turned to the Queen.
“They pretended to befriend Gina, she was given a high dose of diazepam and a few vodka’s so she would give them the information they wanted, they then took her to a barred room where this one.” I pointed to a large man with a shaved head. “Raped her and beat her for being a whore of Satan. They let her escape and followed her to her meeting with Sadie and Cora, where they captured all three of them and gave them more of the same treatment. It was Cora who told them that the compound was under minimal security.”
I turned back to all four ‘humans’. “You make me sick. You claim that vampires are the scourge of the planet yet you rape and beat women for fun, and even though only one of you did the actual raping and beating – all of you knew it was happening and you all revelled in Gina, Sadie and Cora’s pain.”
The Queen nodded. “Drain them all.”
“Wait!” Bill and Andre were fangs out ready for action but surprisingly stopped at my voice. “If you drain them no-one will know what they’ve done, surely a better plan would be to drop them off at the Police department? They can be charged and … and … oh! We can make a press statement! After all, all you have done is exist and donate money to causes around New Orleans yet they attacked you – taking a non-violent route would, public relations wise, be more beneficial. These people have families and if they go missing they’ll just guess that you guys took them.”
The Queen came over, getting closer to me than she ever had before. There had always been a table or a chair between us until now.
“Sookie, you make a fair point but I cannot let them go.” She turned to the Were’s “Tom, Frank, you will go to this church and retrieve the three donors. Take them to the police station to make an official complaint. We will forgo the interference with the zealots they have arrested, I will contact Mr. Cataliades to set up a press conference, ensure the donors are there for it.”
I did my half bob/half curtsey “Thank you for at least thinking about my suggestion Your Majesty.”
She nodded and turned to the four humans, as did Andre, Bill, Hadley and Will. Eric grabbed my arm and murmured in my ear that I probably wouldn’t want to see what happened next. Despite my plan to be more of a part of the vampire world, the screams I could hear made me realise that no matter how desensitised I tried to become, I could never stand and calmly watch humans being ripped apart.
Knowing our status, the Queen had booked Eric and I in the same room, I wasn’t sure if that was something Eric was comfortable with, I knew vampires were very vulnerable while in their day death but Eric assured me that he not only trusted me enough to share his bed, he was actually looking forward to it. As I fell into exhaustion 10 minutes before dawn I was certainly seeing the benefits too, without the prospect of one of us having to go to another room a lot more could be achieved.
I woke up and did my usual stretch, jumping in shock as my hand brushed against cold flesh. I studied Eric in his day death by the light of the wall lamp; he was like a marble statue albeit a statue that was carved with great love and attention. I got out of bed, showered and dressed in the only clean clothes I had left before making a cup of coffee and calling Tom.
We agreed to meet in the foyer, I had to buy some new clothes and replace my laptop. Tom agreed to go with me for the laptop but said he wasn’t willing to give me fashion advice. I’m not really good with that stuff, I have an idea of what goes with what and what suits my body shape but I like to have a second opinion.
“Maybe I could leave it until tonight and Hadley can help me?”
“Tonight is gonna be real busy Sookie, there’s still a lot to do, we can’t stay in this hotel forever. I can call Ellen and see if she’s free, I know you’ve only met her once but she’ll give you an honest opinion.”
“Thanks Tom, that would be great!”
Tom called his were-swan friend and we arranged to meet up outside Dillard’s in Lakeshore. Poor Tom’s wife’s Golf had been a casualty of the fire at the compound so we were in his truck. When we met up with Ellen she smiled brightly but I noticed a cast on her leg and a bandage on her arm.
“Oh my! Ellen what happened?”
“I saw three fellowship guys getting set to throw petrol bombs at a group of human girls running from the residence so I swooped down and managed to peck one of their eyes out, I didn’t get away scot free though. Neither did the girls.”
We nodded, aware of the fact that not only vampires and Were’s had been killed in the attack. Mr. Cataliades was pushing the police to add accessory to murder charge to all of the attackers and protesters that had been arrested. For a group who preached that life was sacred they sure were willing to snuff it out. Tom made sure I had my gun in my purse and went to get a coffee while Ellen and I shopped until we dropped.
“Ellen, thank you so much for coming with me. This is the last clean outfit I have!”
“It’s cool; I’ve actually enjoyed spending time with you. I closed the store today but I was starting to go crazy in the house, so I was pretty glad Tom called. So where are you gonna live? Does the Queen have a back up palace or something?”
“Not really, there’s a building in the Garden District but it’s mostly for entertaining.” Or torture and feeding frenzies. “There aren’t enough rooms currently to make it habitable for her entire entourage.”
“You know, you’re not bad for someone who hangs around with the vamps. You don’t worship them like most of the girls who get involved and you’re not cold and hard like the associates they employ. If you promise not to change, we’ll do this again sometime.”
She smiled an honest smile; I knew it was a joke with a serious undertone. She was absolutely right, I couldn’t stand to become one of those fluffy girls who fall at the feet of the vampires and I certainly couldn’t stand to be like Steven the DA for Cleo.
“Well Ellen, if we make this a regular thing you have to promise me you’ll tell me if I start to show any signs of changing.”
“Now that sounds like a deal little telepath.”
Tom and I had dinner with the remaining guards and donors; there weren’t a lot of us. I’d been told that Gina, Sadie and Cora had been found by the police when Frank and Tom tipped them off that the girls were being held captive and just before dinner I’d seen it all over the news. To say the Fellowship’s support had dwindled would be an understatement, they interviewed a number of people on the street and they were disgusted at the actions of the supposed church over the last week. In New Orleans they were done, whether that spread over the rest of the country remained to be seen.
I returned to the room 20 minutes before sunset, which Eric appreciated. Three times. We were almost late for the big meeting, just managing to get into the conference room and sit down before the Queen asked if everyone was present.
“Let’s begin with the large scale accommodations. The monastery has two rooms suitable, both are light tight, one will be mine and Andre’s and the other will be converted into a small dormitory for guards. At the moment there is just no room for others until we review the renovations. Eric is now free to return to his area; Hadley has her own apartment that leaves us with no organised accommodation for donors, Bill or Sookie.”
The donors present looked almost afraid, which made sense, many of them didn’t have families to go back to and very few had saved or invested their earnings to provide a deposit for an apartment. The Were guards and the vampire guards all looked at each other in distaste at the prospect of sharing beds over the shifts they work. I could see Eric was happy to be able to return to area 5 and Fangtasia but he took my hand and gently stroked the back with his thumb.
“I have rented three trailers which will be delivered to the Monastery grounds tomorrow, this should be sufficient for the six donors that remain in my retinue.” The donors let out a collective sigh of relief. “Hadley’s spare room is currently being fitted with light-tight shutters for Bill. I currently have an architect working on plans for a new official residence, even though these measures are temporary, they will be in effect for about a year to eighteen months.”
Well that was practically no time at all for a bunch of immortals! I felt sorry for Hadley having to share her personal space with Bill, and it would be a dramatic change of scenery for the donors to be living in trailers, no matter how luxurious they were. Everyone nodded and thanked the Queen for doing so much to keep the group together, even in time of low esteem and personal loss she was still an organised and inspiring leader – a true Queen. I watched the guards and donors file out so they could travel to the Monastery and chip in with getting things ship shape, Sophie-Ann was about to leave too when I caught her attention.
“Uh … your Majesty? Where will I go?”
“Oh! I thought … well would you like to go over your options?”
“Yes, I would like that very much!”
Eric, Hadley, Andre, Bill, Sophie-Ann and I all sat back down at the table and Sophie-Ann spread her hands on the surface.
“Well, Sookie, there are a few options. You can remain on your current contract and stay in one of the donor trailers.” Uh … no! “Or, again with the same contract, we can rent a small apartment for you near the Monastery.” Hmm … that could be good. “Or we could change your contract and have you on retainer for services and you can live anywhere in Louisiana. With the great upheaval, I doubt I’ll have great need for your talents on a daily basis. You will need to read the contractors and delivery staff for the Monastery in the next week but the rebuild of the residence and my Sherriff duties will take precedence to any business dealings I have.”
“Okay, well, I really don’t want to live with the donors. I like being able to relax my mind when I sleep. So that leaves the apartment or being on retainer. You say I can live anywhere in Louisiana but I thought you’d want me with you guys?”
“You lived in the residence so we could ensure you were able to handle being outside Valmont. You’ve proven without a doubt that you are able to live and work without incidents, I have watched you flourish into a very confident young woman over the last two months and I am sure, with proper safety precautions, you will embrace your independence.”
“Oh okay. Can I think about it tonight and let you know my decision tomorrow?”
“Yes but no later than that. We must go to the Monastery to meet with the architects and oversee the changes to the dormitory but you can remain here if it would help you make your choice.”
“That would be very beneficial your Majesty. Thank you.”
I asked Eric if he could leave me alone with my thoughts for a while, so he went to the Monastery with the others and I went back to our room. I made a gin and tonic from the mini-bar and lounged on the sofa, having my own apartment seemed so daunting – but it was a step I guessed a woman my age has to make at some point. I imagined myself buying drapes and rugs and picking out paint colours, it was an exciting prospect! I’d be an independent working woman with friends and colleagues and a boyf … oh wait no, I wouldn’t have a boyfriend. I wouldn’t be Eric’s companion anymore and he’d be back in Shreveport, feeding and having sex with the women who go to his bar.
Maybe I could go back to Bon Temps? The Queen said anywhere in Louisiana and I’m sure Gran would only be too happy to have me around to help with the house! New Orleans wasn’t that far to drive and Jason could teach me while I was there so I was able to drive myself down south and back when I was needed. I’d be close to Shreveport and, by extension, Eric but … would he want me that close? Could I really have it all? The job, the home life and the personal life? What if he liked what we had but really wanted to go back to fangbangers? He said he could handle monogamy for a short while, what if that while was now passed? I couldn’t share and if he expected me to share then it was very disrespectful.
I walked over and sat on the bed that we had shared the night before, running my hands over the sheets I remembered how … natural it had felt to fall asleep next to each other. Eric had said before that it seemed natural to him too; he said he had feelings for me; would he say those things and then just go back to his old life? I know I couldn’t. I sighed and bit the bullet, pulling out my cell phone and calling Eric’s number.
“Eric. I … think I’ve decided but I don’t know how it will affect … us.”
“I will be there as soon as I can Sookie. I have some things to say with regards to your choices.” He sounded cold, colder than he’s ever sounded when talking to me.
“Oh … okay.”
I sat on the bed and finished my drink wondering if this was the big dump-a-rama, Eric was a vampire, they were capable of lies and deceit just like humans – in fact more, it had kept them hidden for millennia. I sank into resignation that maybe we just wouldn’t have a happy ever after and prepared to make my decision to have the Queen rent an apartment for me.