Chapter 2 – My Poor Brain
I didn’t take long for me to familiarise myself with the accommodations at the vampire compound, it was like a small studio apartment. Large main room with sitting and sleeping area, large bathroom, and a small kitchenette with a table and everything! I could live here, quite happily. I was hungry, and the kitchenette cupboards had yet to be stocked. I didn’t really want to roam the hall, who knows where I’d end up! I had noticed a phone in the room, but hadn’t looked closely at it; maybe it had a list of number nearby? Ah, yes, here we are – press ‘0’ for help. It rang once and a very deep, very male voice answered
How can I help you Miss Stackhouse?
“Uh, how did you know it was me calling?”
Your room number came up on the display
“Oh, okay. I’m feeling a little hungry, but I’m not sure where I could go to get something to eat…”
What would you like and I’ll have Paul bring it to you
“A burger maybe? With onion rings and fries?”
Certainly, it will be brought to your door as soon as possible
“Great, thank you!”
Wow! I imagine it’s just like being in a swanky hotel! You see stuff like that in movies all the time! I looked at the time, maybe 2 hours until sunset, plenty of time for me to eat and prepare myself to meet my vampire yoda. Hey, if vampires are real what if there really is a yoda? I’ll have to ask my guide when he gets here.
There’s a light rapping at my door and there is Emmental Paul with my burger, I’m polite and mannerly until he turns his back then I tear into my meal like a wild animal. It’s the most delicious thing I can ever remember eating, it’s been so long since I’ve had food that hasn’t been cooked to charcoal or reheated to death. My apartment, my own bathroom and the food I’ve just eaten has sent me into a state of near euphoria. I turn on the radio and find a station that’s playing some catchy pop and dance my socks off with happiness.
There was another knock at my door, I looked out of the window and saw it was dark. I’d been so busy enjoying my freedom I hadn’t noticed how little light there was in my room. I turned on the overhead lights and went to see who was visiting me. Standing there were Hadley and a handsome dark haired man, he must have been around just less than six feet tall, his thick brown hair brushed the collar of his shirt and his sideburns were a little long and wide for this day and age. They came inside and Hadley grabbed both my hands in hers
“How are you Sookie? Is everything to your liking?”
“I’m great Hadley, this is amazing. I can’t thank you and Sophie-Ann enough for getting me out of that place!”
“Well, if I’m honest with you, I don’t think Sophie-Ann would have been as willing to get you out of there if it wasn’t for your telepathy.”
“It’s just as well I have it then, isn’t it?”
We both giggled and I was about to ask her how on earth she ended up being a vampire and working for their leader when the dark haired man cleared his throat.
“Oh! Sookie, this is Bill Compton, he’ll be your guide here in the compound.”
“It’s nice to make your acquaintance Mr. Compton” I held out my hand and he just looked at it like I was holding out a dead rat “Okaaaaay, you don’t shake, got it!”
“I’m looking forward to working with you Miss Stackhouse; we vampires aren’t fond of physical contact other than feeding and sexual intercourse.”
I would have laughed but his face was deadly serious. Hadley made me aware of a manila envelope in her hand
“This is your copy of the contract you signed and a map of the compound. There’s also a list of human staff we’ll need you to read and a list of staff that can assist you during the day. It’ll take a while to get used to vampire hours but Sophie-Ann would appreciate if you were awake more at night.”
“Sure, I can understand that. I know Sophie-Ann is the leader of the New Orleans vampires…”
Bill snorted and looked at me like I was one can short of a six pack “Sophie-Ann is our Queen, not just in New Orleans but Louisiana as a whole.”
“Really? Wow, so she’s like, uber-important? Cool. So what does she do, other than rule her Queendom?”
“I’ll leave Bill to answer all your questions, I should get back to Sophie-Ann” Hadley turned to Bill “You should explain about our leadership system to Sookie, she’ll need to know everything if she’s to serve the Queen adequately.”
They nodded at each other and Hadley left. I smiled at Bill and he smiled back, it wasn’t cold or friendly just kind of … professional. He started explaining all about Queens and Kings and Sheriffs and lieutenants but I got kind of lost. When I asked if I could get some paper and a pen to take notes he scowled at me but called someone to bring some up for me. Two hours and three pages of notes later, I knew all about the system the vampires used and had names of important vampires in our state and names of the Monarchs friendly with Sophie-Ann.
“So Soph … the Queen … would like me to read all of her human staff and I think she plans on having me travel to the other areas in her State to do the same is that right?”
“Yes Miss Stackhouse. Would you like to start now?”
“Can I ask you some questions first? About you. You can ask about me too if you’d like.” The look he gave me said that he didn’t really want to know about me at all.
“What kind of things would you like to know?”
“Were you picked to be my guide or did you volunteer?”
“The Queen instructed me to be your guide because we have something in common. I, too, am from Bon Temps; she thought it would make you more comfortable around me.”
“Really? Wait! The house across from my Gran’s was old Jessie Compton’s place, is he a relative of yours?”
“I’d rather not talk about my family, perhaps in a couple of hundred years I may be more amenable.” A couple of hundred years? Is that his way of saying ‘I will never speak to you of this subject’?
“So what do you usually do? I’m guessing ‘Advisor to naive telepaths’ isn’t in your job title.”
“I was travelling with a nest when the Queen called me into her service; I don’t have a particular trade or business that I involve myself in.”
He sighed, obviously bored at my questions but humoured me nonetheless “When a group of like-minded vampires travel or live together they are referred to as a nest Miss Stackhouse. Is that all?”
“Call me Sookie, please, and yes that is all for now, my head had been stuffed full of information tonight but I would manage maybe having one human to read. I don’t want to exert myself too much on my first day. Brain frazzle.”
“Certainly” he seemed confused by my choice of words “A majority of humans left in the compound at this late hour are willing donors, I will fetch my favourite, you can read her.”
Bill left my room and I wondered what kind of girl would be a willing donor, surely that isn’t healthy. I pondered this as I looked over my notes and re-read my contract. He’s been gone for over half an hour, where the hell is this donor?
I decided to make a list of questions I had to ask, maybe not tonight, I was close to overloading my grey matter but definitely tomorrow night. First question – my clothing, would I get an advance to buy more appropriate clothes. Second question – Could I just leave the compound any time during the day and would I have someone to drive me around. Third Question – even though I had some driving lessons from Jason at home, would I be able to learn to drive while I was here so I didn’t need a driver all the time. There that would do for now.
Almost two hours, what the hell is this guy doing? Just then someone knocked at the door. It was Bill with a pretty but scrawny looking young woman, he looked quite pink at the cheeks, like he was almost human and she looked … tired and pale, with a large wound where her neck met her shoulder.
“Mr. Compton, I was wondering if you were coming back.”
“You may refer to me as Bill, I decided to feed upon finding Collette, I wasn’t sure how long this was going to take.”
“Uh okay. Hi Collette.” I held out my hand and she pulled on my fingers limply. I ushered her over to my sofa and sat down next to her, Bill stood to the side, eyeing us with interest. I took her hand and lowered my shield
Why the hell am I here? He’s already fed and fucked me, does she want to watch? I don’t think I could go another round with him tonight; he took so much blood and was quite rough. Why doesn’t he heal my bite marks like some of the other guys?
“Collette” I kept my voice soft “I’m a telepath, I’m just going to ask you some questions. Is that okay?”
She nodded but still kept on her train of thought. I could see in her mind that the sex they’d had certainly was rough. Seeing it from her point of view was quite shocking, he didn’t care for her comfort or pleasure, he didn’t seem to care about how much blood he took either and she was worried she’d need a few days off to recover, losing money in the process. I shook off the images I’d seen and started asking her some leading questions about the Fellowship of the Sun and drainers to see if she knew anyone involved with that kind of stuff or was passing information about the vamps on to them. She was clean and I said as much to Bill. After being in Collette’s head I was glad there was a clause in my contract that said I didn’t need to let vampires feed from me, it looked like a traumatic experience.
“Thank you for letting me speak to you Collette. You can go get something to eat now, a nice juicy steak and some broccoli!”
She smiled at me and Bill seen her to the door. I was trying to digest everything I’d gotten from her; I didn’t notice Bill coming over to sit on the couch with me.
“You did well tonight Sookie. I was thinking tomorrow night you could start earlier and read some of the serving staff rather than donors.”
“I would like that Bill. Can I ask why Collette is your favourite? If that isn’t too personal of course.”
“I don’t mind. Collette’s blood is very … tasty … and she has many … talents.”
“I see. She was concerned that you took too much blood from her this evening, she’ll lose money if she has to take time off to recover.”
“Hmm … well she didn’t say anything to me, but I’ll be more careful next time. I would prefer she was here to service me nightly rather than my having to make do with a different donor while she is absent.” Nice, don’t bother showing any concern for her needs Mr. Compton!
“If that’s all you need me to do, I’m very tired, I’d like to go to bed now.”
“Of course, I’ll be back after sunset Sookie. Before I go, I was wondering if there is a chance I may taste you at some point in the future? You smell very nice and I’m intrigued as to how different your flavour may be with your telepathic ability.” Urp! I think I threw up in my mouth a little.
“Uh … I’d rather not Bill.” He looked at me intently and I felt a pressing on my mind “What are you doing? I’ve got a big enough headache as it is!”
“Nothing!” he answered a little too quickly “I’ll see you this evening Sookie.” He kissed my hand and left. I immediately went into the bathroom and had a shower, between the request for a taste test, Collette’s visuals of them getting down and dirty and the hand kiss I needed to feel clean. I washed quickly then spent ten minutes letting the hot water beat down on the tense muscles at my shoulders. Throwing on some pyjamas I slid into the cool cotton sheets and drifted into sleep.
One good night’s sleep later, I was refreshed and absolutely starved! Maybe it was because I had used my brain so much the night before or because I knew I’d get an appetising meal, either way I needed fed ASAP. I dialled ‘0’ and asked a soft spoken lady for a little bit of everything, then threw on some sweats and paced eagerly. A very good looking young man called Alain (who also had Swiss cheese brain) delivered my feast and assured me it would be no trouble for me to call them to have other meals brought to my room
“Thank you Alain, it’s just I don’t have any money until I get paid. As soon as that happens I’ll have my little kitchenette stocked and ready for snacking!”
He looked at me strangely and left me to devour the toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and warm bread rolls with butter – all breakfast foods despite the fact it was 11am, I guess they must be used to people sleeping in around here! It. Was. Amazing. Stuffed with good food, I decided to make a list of things I had to buy myself. Some business wear to make me more professional looking, some make-up, some glamorous clothes in case I had to go out in public in the evening, razors, fancy shampoo and shower gel, nice underwear, a lockable storage box for my paperwork, shoes – flats and heels.
I took out the contract again and double checked the amount I’d be paid every month. It was a lot so I added a laptop and cell phone to my list. Every month when I get paid I can go over my list and cross off what I buy. I checked the time, 2pm, still early. Maybe I could go for a walk. I looked at my list of helpful daytime people and dialled the number for my security person
Frank Parr here, how can I help you Miss Stackhouse?
“Hi Mr Parr, it’s a nice day and I was wondering if it would be okay if I went for a short walk outside.”
The compound has a wonderful garden area; I’ll be up in 10 minutes to escort you.
“Oh thank you Mr Parr.”
I was kind of nervous about going outside, yesterday was a simple walk from door to car and then from car to door, before that my smoking excursions to the balcony, the last time I was outside for any length of time was my parents funeral. I checked my purse, yep still some smokes left, I’ll take them in case my nerves get the better of me.
I paced up and down the room for a while then I heard someone at the door. He introduced himself as Frank but I barely heard him, he was … he was gorgeous! Tall, over six feet, with light brown hair carefully styled and gelled in place, dark blue eyes and a full mouth. His body was muscular but in an athletic way not a weightlifter sense and he was wearing an expensive looking suit. When I got back to his eyes I could see he was checking me out too, but probably wasn’t as impressed with me as I was with him. He had a snarly, cloudy brain.
“Miss Stackhouse, are you okay?”
“Yes! Let’s go and it’s Sookie.”
When he smiled his eyes crinkled in the corners, the lines on his face were those of a smiler not a frowner, that made me feel better about having him as my security person. As we made our way through the building Frank explained that some of the human staff had been photographed and attacked by the Fellowship of the Sun, but there was no solid proof that the attacks had been ordered by the organisation. That made me kind of sad, that humans were willing attack other humans simply because of who they worked for. We came to a set of French doors and beyond them was a wonderland!
A beautiful walled garden, with a pond that had a bridge going over it. A gazebo with benches in the shade, a summer house in one corner and more colourful flowerbeds than I could count. Despite there being a wall around us I still felt very exposed, I noticed a bench near the building and sat down, Frank sat next to me, I took out my cigarettes
“Do you mind if I smoke here?”
“Not at all, you’ll notice a bucket of sand next to where you’re sitting.”
“So, Frank, can I call you Frank or would you prefer Mr. Parr?”
“Frank would be great” he laughed “Usually people don’t ask.”
“Well manners are free! Do you know why I’m here?”
“Yep. Hadley, the Queens handmaiden, told all the staff that you’re a telepath and we’ve to take real good care of you.”
“She did? Wow that’s so nice of her. She’s my cousin.”
“Really? Well she told us you’d be here to read the humans, make sure no-one is a spy or anything like that. The attacks and drainings are getting worse. They need all the help they can get.”
“Can I ask you something? It might be kind of personal so I don’t mind if you don’t want to answer.”
“Sure, you can ask.”
“I can read most humans, you sure look human but I can’t read you. It’s like there’s a cloud or a thorn bush around your mind. Is there a reason for that?”
He laughed, it was a big laugh, it would ordinarily sound lovely but as a response to a serious question I took offense! He must have noticed the scowl on my features and stopped, looking at me with interest.
“I’m not human” I tried to stop the shock clouding my face but must have failed miserably “You know that vampires are among us, don’t you think there would be other things, supernatural creatures that just haven’t come out in public?”
“I guess I didn’t. I’ve been in Valmont Mental Hospital.”
“Oh. Right” he cleared his throat obviously he didn’t know where the Queen had found me “Well I’m what they call two-natured, I can change into an animal, a cheetah to be exact.”
“That. Is. So. Cool! It totally explains why your brain reads the way it does – your animalistic nature, makes your emotions and thoughts more primal.”
“For someone who’s been in a mental ward you’re pretty smart.”
“I read a lot, I think I borrowed every book on brain physiology the library had. So all the other people who have snarly brains are two-natured? You can’t all be cheetahs, so I’m guessing there’s a whole menagerie out there.”
“You’re right; we usually call ourselves weres, with a lower case ‘w’, Werewolves call themselves Weres with a capital ‘w’.”
“So you’re a were-cheetah?” He nodded “That explains the snarly brains but not the Swiss cheese brains.”
“I’m sorry, the what?”
“Some of the humans here have big ol’ holes in their minds, like Swiss cheese or someone’s gone through their head with a big magic marker. I’d never encountered it before I came here.”
“I think I know what it is” he shook his head from side to side smiling “Glamouring. Vampires have a type of mind control; they can get in your head to make you do what they want you to then just take out the memories so you never know it’s happened.”
“Oh my god! That’s horrible!”
“That’s how they survived for thousands of years without being discovered on a large scale.”
“I know I go inside peoples head but I’d never use it to get them to do my bidding or change their memories.” And that’s when I remembered the pressing on my brain from Bill’s stare the night before “Son of a Bitch!”
“Are you okay? What brought on the cursing?”
“That’s what he was trying to do; he was trying to glamour me into letting him suck on my neck. Just wait til he comes round tonight I’m gonna give him a piece of my mind and not the piece that he can look into my eyes and steal neither!”
“A vampire tried to glamour you and you felt it? It didn’t work?”
“Hell no! Boy am I glad. Must be my funky brain not letting it happen. Do you know Bill Compton?” Frank’s face went a little dark, he looked very serious.
“I’ve never met him but I’ve heard stories about a nest he was in. There were four of them, Malcolm, Diane, Liam and Bill. Since the reveal they’ve been banned from entering 3 states by royal decree and goodness knows how many areas by the sheriffs.”
“Banned? What for?”
“They don’t like to mainstream but they flaunt their vampirism and antagonise local humans. I heard a story from another were, they took a fancy to his girl she was human and they glamoured her and drank from her, dumping her on his doorstep barely alive and … used … in the most horrible way.”
“That’s terrible Frank; did anyone do anything about it?”
“He took it to the local Sherriff in Jackson but he was told he should have kept a closer eye on his human. For every area they’re banned from how many do you think put up with that kind of stuff and do nothing?”
“Too many. Bill doesn’t seem real nasty but he said that a nest was a group of like-minded vampires, even if he didn’t actually do anything; he still thought it was acceptable to treat people like that. I’m going to have to be very careful, in fact I think I’ll go back to my room and make a phone call.”
“Sookie, I hope I haven’t upset you” I shook my head and smiled “okay then, I’ll see you back to your room.”
We got back upstairs and said our goodbyes. I liked Frank, he seemed honest and open and he was damned easy on the eye. I looked out my contract again and called Mr. Cataliades to see if it would be possible to add a no glamouring clause in there.
Mr. Cataliades office how may I help you?
“Hello, my name is Sookie Stackhouse. Mr. Cataliades arranged my employment contract with Sophie-Ann LeClerq; I was hoping to speak with him about it.”
Please hold and I’ll see if he’s available Ma’am. I didn’t even get to the count of 20. Transferring you now Miss. Stackhouse.
Miss Stackhouse, how can I help you today? The lawyer’s voice was unmistakable
“Hi, I know there’s a clause in my contract that I can refuse to donate blood but I was wondering if it could be altered to including that I cannot be glamoured into donating my blood also.”
One of them tried to glamour you? They obviously didn’t succeed if you’re calling me to ask for this amendment. If you know they’re trying to glamour you then why do you need it?
“What if it worked one time?”
Very smart Miss Stackhouse. I will speak to Sophie-Ann about this and we’ll see what we can do. I will come to see you if the amendment is to be included, I would need you to sign the new papers.
“That’s great Mr. Cataliades. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.”
Always a pleasure to speak with someone as mannerly as yourself Miss Stackhouse. Have a pleasant day.
“You too. Bye.”
Hmm. That was easy. I decided to call down for something else to eat. I’d probably be reading more than one human tonight so I should take a nap too. I put my contract back in the manila envelope and left my question list out on the coffee table to remind me to ask them tonight. Bill had behaved himself the night before but who was to say he would continue to do so, after hearing about the nest he had been in I wanted to cover all my bases. I made a new question list for Mr. Cataliades and Sophie-Ann, most of the questions concerned my safety at the compound.