Chapter 3 – Overdrive
I was woken from my nap by pounding at my door, I checked the time and was surprised at how long I’d been out. The comfy bed and lack of crazy brains made sleeping so much easier. I found Sophie-Ann, Hadley, Bill and Mr. Cataliades looking decidedly annoyed at how long it had taken me to open the door to them. I apologised and stood aside to let them enter. Bill and Hadley settled on the sofa, Hadley was glaring at him something fierce. I watched Mr. Cataliades set his briefcase on my table and pull out some papers.
“Miss Stackhouse, your request to add a ‘no glamouring’ clause to the contract has been granted I’ll need you to sign this amended contract.”
“Great!” I turned to the Queen “Thank you so much for accommodating me your majesty. I wasn’t sure if you would be offended by my request.”
She waved her hand dismissively “I understand that you would want to be in as much control of what transpires here, I intent to grant simple requests to ensure your comfort. I have no doubt that an unhappy telepath is weakened and untrustworthy, you would be no use to me in that state.”
Of course it would only be for her sake she would do this! Stop that Sookie! Yes she may only care about my welfare so I can be a tool for her but I’d be in a worse place if she didn’t. We all signed the paperwork and I fished my question list out of my (now a little worn) envelope.
“I have some questions, if I may?” Sophie-Ann nodded “First, as you may have noticed, my wardrobe is in need of … uh … updating and there are some personal items I’d like to have, I was wondering if I could have an advance on my pay this month to make myself more … decent.”
Mr. Cataliades handed me an envelope, inside was a debit card with my name on “I was just about to speak to you about this Miss Stackhouse; we took the liberty of opening an account to pay your salary into.”
“Your appearance will reflect on my status as a reasonable employer Sookie, I will arrange for a transfer of $1,000 into this account, it will be available by midnight.” She took out a cell phone and went out of the room to make the call.
“Cool, another thing I was wondering is that I understand I’ll need an escort if I leave the compound during the day, I met Frank today, he’s real nice but what if he’s not available?”
Bill stood up as Sophie-Ann re-entered the room “He will always be available to you Sookie; he’s been assigned as your personal guard and escort during the daytime as I have been assigned to you at night.”
“Great! Last thing was I’d like to be able to drive, for when I get to go back to my hometown so I do not have to rely on my Gran or Brother to take me places.” They all looked at each other like I had just told a bad joke “I know I have to stick to guards and drivers here but in Bon Temps I’d like to have a little independence.”
“Of course, I’m sure Bill and Frank will help you with some driving tuition and make arrangements with the DMV for you to take a test and acquire a license. Is that all?”
“For now your Majesty, but I was hoping I could meet with you and Mr. Cataliades in private some time? Just to make sure we’re all working together, on the same page.”
The lawyer and the Queen were already about to walk out of the door but Sophie-Ann turned back and nodded, saying she would be in touch when it could be arranged. It’s not that I didn’t feel safe there, I just got the feeling that I couldn’t assume a lot of things would be taken into consideration. I was under the impression that a vampire employer would be very different to a human one.
Bill informed me there was a group of staff waiting to be read in one of the public rooms and that we should get there soon as they were already an hour past their usual finishing time. I walked with him and Hadley back to the entrance foyer and down a corridor into a light, airy room filled with sofas, chairs surrounding a fountain. At the end of the room there were two wing-backed armchairs facing each other, Bill gestured to me to sit in one then went off to bring the first daytime employee over to me.
She was a short, blocky woman, with dark brown hair and stormy grey eyes, her name was Hannah. I asked her if she knew why I was here and she just grunted. I took that to mean ‘yes’ but couldn’t really be sure. I leaned forward and tried to take her hand but she pulled back and sneered at me.
“I’m not going to hurt you Hannah. I just need to hold your hand for a moment.” Bill and Hadley came to stand either side of me and glared at Hannah. She reluctantly held out her hand to me and I took it gently, dropping my shields.
I was immediately hit by the thoughts of everyone in the room. There were too many, it was too much, they were all so loud! I let go of Hannah and fell to the floor clutching my head. I tried to bring my shields back up but my head hurt so much. If I could just concentrate enough. I screamed and opened my eyes, Hadley had Hannah by the throat and Bill looked frantic.
“Had … ARRRGH … Hadley no!” it hurt so much, it hadn’t been this bad since I was at school. “Out, get me out of here!”
Bill grabbed me and he and Hadley had me back in my room in less than 30 seconds. I was placed on the bed where I immediately curled in a ball sobbing. I heard Bill’s deep tones talking to my cousin
“She’s going to break down, she’s in pain, I’ll give her my blood.”
“WHAT! No Bill, she’s not physically harmed” I could hear anger in her voice “she’ll be fine in a minute. She came home from her first day at kindergarten like this.” Hadley came over and curled up behind me on the bed, spooning into me and rocking me back and forth “Shhhhh… its okay Sook, come back, your gonna be fine.”
Feeling Hadley’s blank mind, I concentrated on the quiet, the wonderful quiet. After five minutes I calmed down and stopped crying. I patted Hadley’s hand and sat up. Bill was looking very pale, pale even for a dead guy. I went to the bathroom and washed my face, when I came back out they were sitting on the bed facing the bathroom door.
“Thank you Hadley, I feel better now. There were too many people; I’m not used to opening my mind with so many brains being active. I’ll need to work on that.”
Bill stood and nodded at me, he had to report this to the Queen. I felt a little scared.
“I’ll get better! I promise! I just need to ease myself into things.” He told us he’d be back soon and walked out the door. I flopped on the sofa “Did I mess up Hadley?”
“No Sook, I told Sophie-Ann that you might take a while because you’d never used your telepathy on purpose before, she’ll understand.”
“So what’s with you two anyway? You seem real close. Frank called you her handmaiden but I don’t really know what that is.”
“Well, I run errands for her, help her dress and do her hair and make-up. She’s my maker, the one who turned me into a vampire, we’re also lovers.” She looked sad when she said that
“Oh! I didn’t … well you had boys all over you in Bon Temps … I …”
“It’s okay Sooks, let’s just say Sophie-Ann made me aware of what I was missing!” she winked at me and we giggled
“Why did you get so angry at Bill wanting to give me blood? Not that I would have taken it but he seemed real concerned for me. Goodness knows why.”
“Bill isn’t fond of humans, he doesn’t interact with them really unless their donors, he was so pissed off about being your guide here but when he came to report to the Queen after you’d gone to bed he was like a different vampire.”
“He wanted to know all about you, he’s obviously interested in you.”
“He asked if he could taste me last night, when I said no he tried to glamour me.” Hadley laughed and slapped her thigh
“So that’s what the ‘no glamour’ clause is all about. That sneaky fuck! I was wondering why Sophie-Ann made him feed from a guy tonight! Before the great reveal, vampires often kept pets to help them assimilate. Giving blood to a human lets us feel their emotions; it also lets us have some control over them.”
“Not really. It kept us under the radar. Vampire blood isn’t all that bad; it heals like nothing else on earth and makes you hornier than hell!”
“So you stopped him so he wouldn’t be able to feel me or control me? Why would he want to do that?”
“I told you, he’s interested in you. Around humans he’s a social retard, giving you his blood is his way of trying to get to know you. He’s been around vampires so long that he doesn’t know any better.”
“That’s kind of sad. Why aren’t you like that?”
“I was turned after the great reveal, my life as a vampire will be very different from Bill’s. I don’t have to hide for a start, and as long as I feed I can spend time with humans no problem. I recently moved into my own apartment, the Queen thinks I’m making faster progress as a vampire now than I would have if I was turned as little as ten years ago.”
Just then Bill came back in, he said that the Queen was a little annoyed but understood. I looked at him; he did seem friendlier since I was first introduced to him. I was glad I talked to Hadley about it, he may have asked to taste me and tried to glamour me and get his blood in me but that was just the vampire way. I couldn’t judge him on the same merits I would judge a human because he wasn’t one, I’m sure once I laid out some ground rules and he realised I wasn’t a meal we could even be friends!
I checked the time it was 1am. I asked Hadley if there were a lot of stores open at this time of night, I could always find a 24 hour Wal-Mart but I didn’t want to buy cheap clothes to work here when everyone was always so well dressed. I was a little put out when she laughed at me and said something about New Orleans being the vampire capital of the USA.
“Could we go shopping? The money the Queen gave me should be accessible now and I’d like to wear something other than Jeans and sweats to work here.”
“No problem Cuz, I know a few stores. I take it you’re wanting business wear?”
“Mostly but I would like a couple of dresses just in case, and I’d like to buy some toiletries and food too.”
“Let’s go then!”
We took Bill’s car, Hadley told him to head for Lakeshore, there wasn’t a great deal of traffic so it didn’t take long. The mall was huge, but didn’t have many customers at this time. I felt a little out of sorts, it was so big and practically empty, too much space. I sat on a bench and took some deep breaths, I had to get used to being outside some time. Hadley seemed to guess what the problem was and grabbed me saying that we’d get this done quick.
I was dragged into Dillard’s where they had a sale on; I managed to find some great deals. Two pant suits, a cocktail dress, three pairs of better fitting jeans with t-shirts, heels, flats and sneakers and $600 later, we were on our way to Wal-Mart. Bill and Hadley were not impressed with that choice, but I bought some nice shampoo and conditioner, razors and shower gel, body lotion, make-up, a new hair brush and some clips and elastics and a selection of basic and snack foods. Out of the $1000 I still had some left in case of an emergency. It was 4am when we got back to the compound; I was exhausted and barely made it back to my apartment. Laden with bags, I forced myself to stay awake long enough to put the chilled items in my little refrigerator and change into my sleep clothes before collapsing onto the bed.
I didn’t wake up until two in the afternoon the next day, I made some toast and some instant coffee then went for a pampering shower. I scrubbed, soaped and shaved then slathered on my new lotion, it felt wonderful. I dressed in a new shirt and some dark wash jeans that hugged my hips and thighs and left my hair to dry naturally while I put some light make-up on. I felt like a new woman! I decided to go into the gardens again so I called Frank and waited on him. Ten minutes later he knocked on my door
“Hey…” he stared at me, starting at my hair and going down to my feet “Sookie, you look great!”
“Uh … thanks Frank. I feel great!”
“Yesterday you looked kinda tired.”
“I was, but today I feel awake. Let’s go outside.”
We actually walked around the garden this time, I told Frank about what had happened the night before. He suggested letting the people into the room in a gradual way, instead of having 20 people all at once I could start out with 3 or 4 then have more people come in over the course of an hour or so until all 20 were in with me. It sounded like a great idea, probably my best option. Frank said the day staff had been asked to stay behind again tonight, I hoped it would work; I didn’t want to keep them from their personal lives.
We sat down on the same bench as the day before and swapped stories about our families, I told him a little about my “stay” at Valmont, he told me about being a were-cheetah. It was nice, sharing and getting to know one another, I’d never had that before but I’d read about it and seen it people’s heads. We talked about why I was there and about my telepathy
“Y’know telepaths are pretty rare, it’s not a surprise the Queen found one in a mental hospital but it is surprising that you weren’t driven mad by hearing everyone.”
“I almost was, if I hadn’t learned how to block people out I’d be in a straightjacket.”
“So instead of controlling the reading you now have to learn how to work your blocking so you can ‘hear’ certain people in a crowded room?”
“I want to get in control of my telepathy and my shields. Not just so I can read or block people easier, not even so I can get to go back to Bon Temps. Being a telepath is what I do now, and I really want to be good at what I do, like a high-priced lawyer or an NFL player.”
“That’s great! It means you want to be better for you and no-one else, some people never think that and live their lives at other peoples standards – not their own.”
“I know that we kinda just met, but I feel you’re such a supportive person. You and Hadley and Bill, I’ve got a nice little network forming here. We’re gonna be good friends Frank!”
“I certainly hope so Sookie.” He looked at me, I knew that look, it was the ‘I want to kiss you’ look that you always see in romantic movies. I realised I wanted him to kiss me, too much, too soon. I jumped up from the bench
“Well, I should let my mind relax a little before tonight!”
“Okay Sookie, whatever you want.” He smiled but looked a teeny, tiny bit disappointed.
I figured a rest would be good, I didn’t want to tire out my brain since I was going to be using it later on. Frank walked me back to my room and we shared a rather uncomfortable hug before I went inside. I called down for dinner, Paul delivered some poached salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus, I’m so spoiled! I took out one of my suits and hung it on the back of the bathroom door, ready to throw on when the vampires came, before lying down on the bed and closing my eyes. I had just started to drift into that zone between being awake and sleeping when my phone rang
“Hello Sookie Stackhouse speaking”
“Gran! How are you? How’s Jason?”
We’re fine sugah. How are you?
“I’m great! You should see my room here. I have my own bathroom!”
That’s wonderful. How are they treating you?
“They’re treating me very well, the Qu … Sophie-Ann gave me an advance on my salary so I could buy some things so I went shopping with Hadley last night. It was scary being outside and all but kinda fun spending money.”
Good for you, getting out and about! Do you think you’ll be ready to come for a visit soon?
“Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I got some training to do but I’m sure looking forward to seeing you guys again!”
We can’t wait to have you home Sooks. You take care honey.
“You too Gran. I miss you. Bye.”
We miss you too sweetie, bye bye.
I had to train myself; maybe I could have some humans to train on during the day with Frank? I’d have to ask Bill if that was possible. If they want me to work to the best of my abilities they have to give me time and resources to better myself, it’s in everyone’s best interests. I thought about what I’d said to Frank earlier, I did want to be really good at my job, what was the point of Sophie-Ann dragging my ass out of Valmont if I didn’t try to be the best damn telepath out there.