Chapter 4 – Learn To Fly
Over the next few days I used Frank’s ‘gradual introduction’ theory. I started with 2 or 3 people in the room and as one was escorted out, two were brought in. It worked well, the first time I got up to 8 people before my shields got strained but by day three I was up to having 15 people in a room and still able to concentrate enough to read a single mind. Now, rather than my shield being a solid wall, it was more like being inside a house. When the doors were closed I couldn’t hear anyone but all I had to do was open the door whoever I wanted to read was on the other side of.
The day staff were easy, very few problems and any issues I found were written down and passed to Sophie-Ann. The worst problem I found was that Leo, who took in deliveries and seen to inventory, was ordering extra food and drinks but taking the extra home with him so he didn’t have to buy groceries. It wasn’t that he wasn’t paid enough here, the wages were very satisfactory, he was greedy like so many people and his greed lost him his job. I got the feeling he had been roughed up a little too, but couldn’t confirm anything, but I guessed you don’t steal from vampires without them teaching you a lesson. Why on earth would you want to piss off supernatural beings that could snap you like a twig?
With the daytime compound staff dealt with I moved on to delivery staff and then I would read the in house donors. I wasn’t looking forward to that. Frank was always with me when I done day readings. I liked that, he made me feel at ease, we spent our free time chatting and getting to know one another. Even though I was mostly keeping vampire hours, I was still waking up around 2pm every day. The staff had their own dining area and I would meet Frank everyday for a late lunch and we’d discuss what I would be doing before the vampires woke up.
My nights were spent mostly with Bill, sometimes Hadley dropped by to see me when Sophie-Ann gave her leave from her duties. Since I was doing so well with my work there wasn’t much of a rush, last night Bill and I had mostly talked. There wasn’t the same connection I had with Frank, sometimes Bill was uneasy with questions I was asking and he still seemed a little cold but there were glimpses of a very dry sense of humour and despite our rocky beginning, I felt safe with him.
Tonight the vampires who lived in the compound were asked to bring their pets for me to read, I didn’t much like the thought of humans being kept as pets but I know what side my bread is buttered and was glad that I was an employee who worked for a fair pay, not a walking meal that relied on a ‘master’ to take care of me.
I had just put the finishing touches to my make-up when Bill came for me. He smiled at me as I locked my door and leaned in to sniff me, I found that quite disturbing the first time it happened but Hadley explained that scent is very important for Supes (I’m eventually catching on to the lingo too!).
“Good evening Sookie. How are you?”
“I’m good Bill, just tomorrows delivery from the Trueblood distributor, the donors and I’m all caught up. It’ll be a relief when I only have to make sure new humans to the compound are on the level.”
“Yes, I imagine it will be. Don’t worry; I’m sure the Queen won’t leave you idle.”
“I’m not worried, I know when I’m done here I’ll be sent to other areas in her domain.”
“About that. Would you be amenable to having my company when you make those trips?”
“Of course! I had assumed you would be coming with me anyway.”
“It would be … more pleasant if I knew you wanted me to be there.”
“You’re my guide Bill! I’m sure you and Frank will be there!”
“Yes, Frank, of course.”
His smile died away and he got all professional. I wondered if he and Frank had some history, although Bill had been fine with Frank when I first got here. Probably none of my beeswax. We got to the Queen’s dayroom and there were about 10 vampires but only 5 pets. Bill had informed me that the need for pets was lessening with the advent of synthetic blood and registered donors but some older vampires liked them as a status symbol. Apparently a well behaved and well kept pet reflected on their ability to be in a position of power. All of the pets were sat at their master’s feet, smiling and mentally comparing each other’s outfits. Only one of them was male, I decided to read him first; his Mistress was Melanie a very petite vampiress who I’d only seen briefly. I went to my ‘reading table’ as I called it and got myself comfortable before I asked him to come forward.
“Hi, I’m Sookie what’s your name?”
“Uh … My Mistress calls me Szentember.”
“Okay Szentember, do you know what I do?”
“You read minds.”
I could see he didn’t really believe it but I started my questioning, all the time smiling at him to keep him at ease and making notes if need be. Nothing serious, although he was concerned about a donor that Melanie has used often, he felt like she was looking to replace him. Loyalty doesn’t breed in people who feel expendable and he knows too much about Melanie and the other New Orleans vampires to let go without practically wiping his memory. The next two girls, Amber and Mara, were fine; they didn’t like me but thoughts like that were water off a ducks back to me. They were happy, devoted and knew their place. Next up was Lucrezia
“Let’s get this over with shall we.”
Wow, bitch much. Bill, Hadley, Pierre (Lucrezia’s Master) and even the Queen hissed. I could see in Lucrezia’s mind that she was intending on sleeping her way to the top. She had left a younger vampire for Pierre and planned on leaving him for a more powerful vampire as soon as one caught her attention. She was sure she would be concubine to a king in five years.
“Do you really think they’ll stand for that Lucrezia? Your current master has done well by you and you betray him with your intentions.”
“You don’t know anything about me Cookie so whatever parlour tricks you’ve got going on here can stop right now.”
“Parlour tricks? You know usually I write things down so I don’t embarrass anyone but you obviously need a demonstration” Pierre and the other vampires came closer, fangs down, I shuddered with discomfort “You left your last master because Pierre was a better prospect but you plan on continuing that avenue, as soon as a more powerful vampire shows any interest you will leave Pierre. You have no loyalty to him, you’re just using him and think that trying to blind him with your sexual talents will prevent you from being found out. For the Record my name is Sookie.”
She moved to grab my hair with her too long fake nails but Pierre grabbed her instead, pinning her arms to her sides. The Queen looked at Pierre, there would be no getting out of this one for Lucrezia, vampires expected their pets to stay loyal to them and treated them well to ensure this. Lucrezia had been treated better than all of the other pets here tonight and it wasn’t enough for her. Pierre snarled and nudged her head to the side
“In three nights you will know what loyalty is, I am going to turn you and you will serve me as my child unable to go against my word and unable to seek a new master.”
It seemed harsh, it was harsh but once again it demonstrated that under no circumstances do you piss off vampires. The last pet was Robyn, she belonged to Waldo who was one of the Queens’ children, he had pruney skin like he’d been in a bath for too long. Robyn feared his appearance and his quick temper but wanted to please him more than anything.
“Hi Robyn. Are you ready?”
“Yes, I have nothing to hide.”
She really didn’t, but I noticed her eyes being drawn to Hadley throughout our chat. I kept holding her hand after I had finished and listened as her mind wandered.
I’m sure she is the one the Queen cast him aside for, she is nothing, she will deserve his revenge!
Not. Good. I looked to Waldo and nodded that I was done. Waldo excused her and I turned to face the vampires. Sophie-Ann smiled warmly
“You did very well tonight Sookie, are you tired?”
“A little but not too much.”
“Good, I want to introduce you to Andre, he is my child and my second and obviously you have briefly met Waldo” she indicated two very large, very identical vampires behind her “This is Siegebert and Wybert, also my children. They, along with Hadley and Bill, are very important in my court. I expect you to take any instructions from them as you would if I had given them.”
“Of course your majesty.”
“Good, well Andre and I have business, you may talk amongst yourselves until we return.”
We all nodded at the Queen and Andre. Hadley came beside me and beckoned Waldo to join her.
“Sook, you know I’ve been looking into my family tree?” I nodded “Well I think I might be related to Marie Leveau, the voodoo queen, on my Dad’s side. Waldo here told me about a ritual, where the blood of the dead can raise the dead. I’ve asked him to come to Saint Louis Cemetery #1 to help me.”
“Wow Hadley, that’s some pretty cool stuff!” How could I stop this? She couldn’t trust him, not after what I heard from Robyn’s mind “Could I come too? Oh! I’m sure that’s something Bill would like to see too right?”
I looked pleadingly at Bill; he caught on quick and told her he’d be very interested in seeing that. Waldo’s nostrils flared in anger but he didn’t say anything except he would wait in another room until the Queen was back. Obviously he had planned something for that cemetery trip that he didn’t want anyone else to see. Hadley opened her mouth to say something else but Bill shot her a look
“I’m sure we can make further plans when we take Sookie back to her room.”
“Yes Bill!” He catches on quick “that’s a great idea!”
Hadley shrugged and we sat around making small talk about my readings for a while before Sophie-Ann and Andre returned, Waldo came back in seconds after them. We congregated around her desk, well the vampires did, I just followed. I figured if I done something out of line Bill would stop me and put me right. The Queen looked at me
“Sookie, I have arranged a private meeting with Mr. Cataliades for first dark tomorrow.”
“Thank you your majesty, I very much appreciate that.”
“Also one of my Sherriff’s has had a problem with his daytime assistant, it has been resolved but I have requested that all of my Sherriff’s bring their DA’s to the next meeting here in three days for you to read. There should only be 3 humans, do you think you can finish up with the in house donors before then?”
“I will ensure I have a clear schedule for this project.”
I bowed from my neck in deference the way Bill taught me and the Queen was obviously pleased. We were excused and Bill and Hadley walked back to my room with me. I opened the door and ushered them inside before making a coffee and offering them a Trueblood. They didn’t need it but I asked to have some in my room just in case, it’s nice to have something to offer a guest. Hadley raised an eyebrow at me and took a sidelong look at Bill
“So cuz, you want to tell me what gave you a sudden interest in dark voodoo rituals?”
“It’s not that” I sighed and rubbed my hands over my face “I heard something from Waldos pet. He’s not a happy bunny that you took his place as the Queens favourite.”
“Tell me something I don’t know!”
“He plans to take revenge; I don’t think you should go anywhere alone with him. Especially not a cemetery. I know I couldn’t stop him from doing anything, that’s why I roped Bill into things.”
“Well I knew something was not right from the way you looked at me Sookie, I can’t believe Waldo would plan to harm Hadley but I believe you are right to be cautious.”
Hadley promised us she wouldn’t go anywhere alone with Waldo and she told us all about the ritual she planned to perform. There was no guarantee it would work but if Hadley thought it would help her find her roots then who was I to prevent her trying? Tomorrow was the last Friday in the month – that meant we get paid! I wondered if Frank had anything planned or whether I could get him to take me shopping? I slid into bed excited about my very first payday.
I was showered and dressed within 30 minutes of waking, making sure I had my bank card in my wallet before I went down for something to eat. As expected Frank was waiting for me at the table with a cup of coffee. He gave me that big smile I’d gotten so used to and stood to pull out my chair.
“Hey Sook, you look ready to take on the world!”
“Thanks! You look great today too!” I sat and watched as he piled my plate with scrambled eggs, bacon and toast “Do I have any readings today other than the blood guy?”
“Not scheduled and he doesn’t get here until between 6 and 7pm so the afternoon is pretty much free, why?”
“Could you take me shopping? I got paid today!”
He laughed at my enthusiasm and put my plate and coffee in front of me before sitting down to finish his own drink. I explained that I’d had an advance but should still have almost $2000 in my account. Hadley had been telling me all about e-mail, it was like posting a letter but on the computer, I thought that was amazing! All of the technological advances that had been made since I was taken to Valmont were mind-boggling but I was determined to get used to things. I figured I could get a laptop today and maybe some clothes, next month I could get a cell phone. It was all just so exciting!
I practically inhaled my meal and ran out, dragging Frank behind me. I realised soon enough that I didn’t know which car Frank drove and stopped to find him smiling at me with his deep blue eyes twinkling with amusement. He unlocked a fairly new Toyota Corolla and held the passenger door open for me. I was bouncing in my seat all the way to Best Buy, Frank told me that he knew a little about techy stuff and he’d make sure I didn’t get conned by the staff.
“So Sook, what do you want to use the laptop for?”
“Umm … mostly internet and e-mail. Ooh! Look at that red one! I like that one!”
“It’s pretty powerful, but it would suit your needs and then some. Since you don’t need to store a lot of data or play games with complicated graphics it would probably be more advanced than you need.”
“But, it’s red. I like red.”
Frank laughed and shook his head. Who needed technical advice when the colour mattered more? I cringed internally at how silly it makes me look. Frank made me look around a little more, pointing out other less powerful laptops but I was stuck on the cherry red Dell. Frank relented and got a member of staff to tell them we’d take one, he also told me that the compound had a wireless network so I wouldn’t need any other cables to get access to the internet. Apparently Bill was the IT geek at the Queens residence and he’d set up my laptop with all the access codes I needed. After I had my gadget for the month and a hard-case lockable file box, Frank took me back to Dillards to buy some more clothes. I picked out some more business wear; I wanted to look as professional as possible – especially with the Sherriff’s assistants. No doubt they would be dressed to impress so I should too!
Frank offered to carry my bags so I treated him to an ice-cream. We sat on one of the benches and slurped at our waffle cones, I told him about my purchase list and he laughed again. Every time he did that I wasn’t annoyed because I knew he wasn’t laughing at me but that he just found my little ways funny.
“Could I try something with you Frank?”
“Sure, what do you want to do?”
“I want to try and read you. Could you try to think at me?”
“I’ll try” he shrugged and I took his hand in mine.
She’s so pretty, everything is new with Sookie. What should I think? How do I do this? What should I say?
“I think you’ve said enough.”
There was an uncomfortable silence then I started eating my ice-cream again. Just as he lifted his cone to his lips, a football hit him in the back of the head and his ice-cream went all over his face!
I turned to see a group of terrified teenage boys staring at us
“Geez … uh … we’re sorry man. Cole was meant to catch that, we didn’t mean any harm. Are you okay Mister?”
Frank wiped his face with a napkin and turned round and smiled at them “It’s cool, don’t sweat it.”
A security guard ran towards them and they scattered. I looked at Frank and his sticky chin
“You missed a spot! Here I’ll get it” I lifted a napkin and wiped at a glob of the dessert next to his mouth. Frank held my hand to his face and leaned into me, placing his lips on mine. I gasped a little and found his tongue in my mouth. The first thing I thought was ‘Mmm strawberry’, the second thing I thought was ‘Oh my God! My first real kiss’, then I realised we were in a public place and pulled back a little embarrassed.
“I think … uh … we should be getting back Frank. The delivery guy and everything.”
“Yeah. Sure Sook, work to do and all that.”
He looked so dejected; I didn’t want him to feel like I didn’t want him. I took his hand again and looked into his eyes.
“Frank. Thank you. It’s been a wonderful afternoon. I would like if we could have another afternoon like this again. Sometime soon?”
He brightened and we drove back to the compound shooting stupid grins at each other.