Chapter 8 – Low
“Get him!” Hadley shouted at Bill before coming over to sit next to me on the bed “Oh Sook Honey, what did he do? Did he hurt you?”
“Not physically no Had.”
Bill dragged Frank back into my room and threw him on the floor “Sookie, if this … animal harmed you the Queen will be most upset.”
“Stop guys. Just stop. It’s not like that, let him go, he didn’t do anything to hurt me” except waiting ‘til he had his hands on the goodies before letting me know he was practically a professional deflowerer.
Frank picked himself up off the floor and left again, I asked Had to pass me my clothes, I also had to ask the vampires to turn around while I dressed myself. I knew they seemed to lose all sense of modesty when turned but they could at least have some respect for those that are still encumbered with nakedness issues.
“So what happened Sook? Did he try something and get angry when you wouldn’t do it?”
“No.” I took a deep breath “He was … we were getting … y’know, because we missed each other while I was away and he said something about doing this plenty of times and that usually first timers are nervous. It struck me as an odd thing to say, so I asked about it and he told me about his … obligations as a male in his pack.”
“Well, Sookie all of the weres need to keep the population up of their species, it’s his duty…”
“Not now Bill! Geez. Honey he’s a total bastard for not telling you that before.”
“It’s not that Had, we’ve been close … y’know kissing and stuff for a good while now. He had sex with one of the females of his pack 2 weeks ago. Two. Weeks. He couldn’t even keep his dick away from another woman long enough for me to get comfortable with the idea!”
“Monogamy amongst Supes is very rare …”
“For fuck sakes Bill would you just shut up! I’m sorry it turned out like this Sook. You don’t need some filthy were getting his paws all over you, I know a ton of cute young vamps who’d be dying to tap your ass.”
“Dying?” I laughed, I noticed Hadley was smiling, she’d said that on purpose. “Oh Lord! I have the meeting in less than an hour! I have to shower and change and … and …”
“Shhh! Breathe in and breathe out Sook. Remember you’re like a fine tuned machine Sook, don’t let him affect your concentration, this is what you’ve trained for.”
I rolled my head back and forth to loosen the muscles in my neck “Okay I’m cool .. Let’s get this done people!”
I showered quickly, scraped my hair back into a neat ponytail and dabbed some lip-gloss on before donning my business wear and picking up my laptop from where Frank had left it on the sofa. I marched out of the room with a smile on my face but a rock where my heart once was. Bill offered his elbow and I tentatively accepted
“For what it’s worth Sookie, I thought you were too good for Frank anyway. Would that really have been your first time? Perhaps it’s your virginity that makes you smell so sweet! You know, virgin blood…”
“Bill! I swear if you say one more word to my cousin I’ll inject your favourite donor with the bubonic plague!”
I stifled a giggle at Hadley’s protectiveness and Bill’s shocked expression before putting on my professional face and walking into the conference room. All of the business associates were already seated and as I settled into my little corner of the table and set up my laptop, Sophie-Ann glided into the room with Andre at her side. She nodded to me, which I returned, and then made sure everyone in the room knew who the other people were and what they done for her.
For three hours I sat tapping away, making notes on thoughts that the business folks were having, fortunately most of them were too scared of vampires to try and pull one over on them. Most. When we were done, everyone except myself, the Queen, her children and Bill was ushered out.
“So Sookie, what do we have?”
“Mr. Beaumont is charging you double for the materials used to renovate the monastery in the Garden District. Mrs. Kerr is also fleecing you for money however she is using the extra to get fake ID’s for women she buys from Asia and puts to work in the brothel she runs on the side. The most important piece that I gleaned was that Doctor Hobart at the rehab centre thinks one of his assistants may be connected to the fellowship.”
“Excellent. We can deal with the first two and will obviously require your help with the last.” I nodded, bowing my head deeply “Now as to this evening’s unpleasantness.” I looked at her, confusion evident on my features. “Sookie, I know everything that goes on here, including when my telepath is found almost naked in bed screaming ‘get out’ with a security guard making a hasty exit from her room.”
“Oh. That. I assure you your Majesty; it has not and will not affect the work I do for you here. If I have to be guarded by Fr … Mr. Parr, I’m sure we’ll find a way to ensure no further incidents occur.”
“I should hope it doesn’t affect your work dear! As to Mr. Parr, I believe continuing to have him guard you would be counter-productive; he cannot do his job if you can’t stand to be near one another. I will assign a new guard to you but he will be unavailable until next week.”
“That is more than generous your Majesty.”
“Sookie, your gift relies on you being physically and emotionally comfortable. The human mind is delicate and can be damaged through stress. We keep you happy and you are able to make us aware of any dangers to our persons, reputations or finances. I want you to be happy because I want you to be useful.”
“That is very wise your Majesty, you are truly a great leader.”
“Quite. With this in mind, you are aware that you have no scheduled commitments for tomorrow and Saturday night and that you will be going to Baton Rouge to read for Gervaise on Sunday yes?” I nodded “Would you like to go early? The DA there has requested the first monthly meeting to coincide with your presence so they can make you aware of anything in particular they come across. I’m sure they would not mind you joining them.”
This is great! I get to avoid Frank by getting the hell out of Dodge until his replacement is ready, plus maybe I’ll get to have some social time with people in a similar position to myself “You Majesty, that would be much appreciated.”
“Excellent. I will call Gervaise and have him set up rooms for you and Bill at his hotel, and also provide a daytime guard for you. Bill – are you amenable to driving Sookie to Baton Rouge tonight?”
“It will be a pleasure my Queen.”
“Very well. I will inform Gervaise to have his DA contact Sookie during the day tomorrow. Go pack and I will see you on Tuesday evening. When you return I expect you to be at the top of your game Sookie.”
I saw Hadley grab Bill and give him a stern whispering, probably telling him to keep his inappropriate mouth shut again! I asked Bill if we had to leave right now or if I would have time to do some laundry, as long we were out of there by 4am we’d be fine. So I ran upstairs and got my bags so I could wash and dry the clothes I had taken to Bon Temps. I also checked my finances, Bill had helped me set up internet banking, I still had quite a few hundred dollars in my account so I figured maybe I could splurge a little on this trip. By half past three in the morning we were on our way. Bill tried to strike up a conversation about Frank again
“Sookie, you’ve done incredibly well in your learning about the supernatural world. However we have concentrated on vampires, we’ve only scratched the surface with regard to other Supe species. What Frank described to you has been going on for centuries and …”
“I don’t want to talk about it Bill.”
“But it’s perfectly natural for him to acquire another mate whilst still …”
“What part of ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ is it that’s so hard for you to understand?”
“I thought you might like to understand a little better.”
“Right now I’m angry, I don’t want to understand. I want to forget I ever met him. In a few days I might be amenable to further discussion but when I’m ready to talk I’ll let you know, until then keep all conversation Were and Frank free thank you.”
“You know you will have a were guard in Baton Rouge? It has already been arranged.”
“Yes, but I don’t plan on speaking to him much. When will we need to check in with Gervaise?”
“It can wait until tomorrow night.”
“Shit! I forgot to bring my bandanna.”
“Is that important?”
“I need it to be scented by the Sherriff so vampires don’t give me too much hassle if I bump into any.”
“That will be unnecessary as I am accompanying you; I can scent you whenever required.”
“I told you, I don’t have my bandanna and I will not have you rubbing yourself all over me, I’ll buy a scarf tomorrow, the scenting will have to wait until you rise.”
“Under the circumstances I’m sure that will be fine Sookie, as long as it happens before you go anywhere that vampires might congregate. I would like to add that I’m disappointed that you don’t trust me enough to let me rub my scent onto you directly.”
“The scarf is a better idea then I don’t need to be re-scented after every shower.”
“Hence my disappointment.”
I glared at him and he offered a sweet smile in return. The problem with Bill is that I have the reverse situation of other women – I know exactly where he’s been, I know exactly what he does and from the donor’s memories I even know his corny lines (Can I join you for a bite? – puhleese!).
The rest of the drive was silent and tense with Bill stealing glances at me the whole way. I was relieved to find out rooms were on different floors of the hotel. Bill was on the windowless top floor and I was 4 floors below. I left a message at the front desk that I’d be expecting visitors and they were to call me when they arrived. My room was small but clean and very nicely decorated, I hung up my clothes and wondered if Lucy Talbot would mind going shopping with me, this was her area after all so she would know the best places to go, but then I remembered Ms. Talbot’s sobering outfit when I interviewed them. Still it couldn’t hurt to have someone to bounce ideas off of and these people were my colleagues, I should make the effort to get to know them.
I was woken by the phone next to my bed screaming at me, I sluggishly sat up and answered. It was the receptionist at the front desk, Lucy was waiting for me in the foyer, it was only midday. There was a coffee shop next door to the hotel so I asked them to tell her I would meet her inside as soon as I was ready. I showered and threw on a cute baby pink button down fitted shirt, jeans and my sneakers and went down in the hope that some coffee and a pastry would wake me up a little.
When I opened my room door I was faced with a very large man, two-natured, smiley. After I got over my initial fright and promised myself to check for brains before leaving a room, I got him to confirm he was sent to watch over me by Gervaise. He said he was under instruction to keep a safe distance so as not to crowd me but never let me out of his sight unless I was going into a room with only one door.
In the coffee shop Lucy was sitting at a large table on her own, she nodded and smiled when she saw me, I waved back which seemed to shock her and moseyed to the counter to order a full fat latte with an apricot and raisin pastry, my guard sat at a small table on the other side of the shop. I set my tray on the table and noticed that Steven had arrived and was smiling at me.
“Hey Steven, you’re stealthy! I didn’t even see you come in!”
“How are you Miss Stackhouse? I was surprised to hear you’d be joining us.”
“Well I’ve been better to be honest with you and its Sookie please.”
“Okay, Sookie it is then!” He turned to the door and Bobby stumbled in trying not to drop his briefcase and the package he was holding. He smiled and nodded to us, laying the things on a free chair before going to buy himself a drink.
“Oh Lucy! I was wondering if you would mind coming shopping with me? I’d like to buy myself something nice to cheer me up and figured you’d know where to go.”
“Uh … sure … Sookie. We’ve got our meeting to get on with but unless something serious comes up we’ll have all day tomorrow.”
“Excellent!” I smiled and noticed that they were very uncomfortable “Is something wrong? Oh my! I mean I’ve just imposed myself on your DA thing and totally not realised! If you have other things you need to do, please let me know, I don’t want to be a bother to anyone.” Steven and Lucy just looked at each other, then Bobby came over sucking on a cup of some kind of smoothie.
“Hey Sookie! How are you? Did you enjoy visiting with your family?”
“I had a lovely time Bobby, thank you for asking!” Shit I should find time to call Sam and ask how the Dawn patrol was doing.
“Oh! My master noticed that you were without a cell phone during your visit and when he informed me that you would be joining our meeting he asked me to give this to you from him.” He passed me the package he had brought with him, it was a brand new top of the line cell phone “It’s fully charged and has many important numbers already programmed into the address book. He was concerned in case you got stranded in the area and had no means of communication.”
“Wow! This is amazing. I’ll be sure to call and thank him for this, I was going to buy one of my own when I got paid next. It’s so nice of him to think of me!”
“Uh … yes … well Mr. Northman has been very interested in you, he asked me many questions about the conversation we had in Fangtasia.”
“Okay, I’m a little surprised at that but he did tell me himself that he wanted to know everything about me. I guess they don’t come across many tel … people with my abilities. Me and my friend ended up in Fangtasia again the next night and he was very accommodating.” Lucy snorted, Bobby threw her a look and Stevens face went bright red as he tried to hold in a laugh.
We finished our drinks and decided to move somewhere more private if we were going to be talking business. Lucy’s office was close by so we walked the two blocks, chatting back and forth about the weather, TV shows and books, I kept checking behind me and sure enough big guy was still on our tails. We settled in a small conference room and Lucy made sure we had some snacks and water to keep us going. The three of them opened their briefcases and started taking out folders and notes, I felt decidedly out of place.
“Do you guys want me to be here? I mean if I’m intruding I can find something to do honest!”
“Sookie” Steven had that confused look on his face again “We thought you were here to keep an eye on things or take notes for the Queen.”
“What!” I snorted with laughter “Really? Oh no! I’m here to get away from the compound for a couple of days! I’m not here on an official professional level really, there was an … incident and the Queen suggested I join you guys and maybe throw a few ideas out there but I just thought it would be nice to socialise with you guys for a bit.”
“Socialise? We’re here for a meeting, not to socialise Miss Stackhouse!” Steven was a little pissed off by the looks of things. I took a deep breath
“Isn’t it nicer to work with people you don’t mind seeing socially though? We’re all here, we’re all humans working for vampires, we all work damn hard and we all need to work together so why shouldn’t we get to know each other as if we work at the same office?” The three amigos seemed to mull that over “I just thought it would be nice if we could all get along and have some fun when the work day is done.”
“And the Queen would be okay with that?” Lucy still wasn’t sure
“Look, obviously this is a scenario that none of us have come across but honestly, I think if we get the work done there’s nothing to stop us having fun. If we were getting together and partying but not actually doing anything I think she’d have a problem but not if we do what we came here for and just happened to use the rest of the time learning about each other.”
“Sookie, that makes perfect sense!” Bobby was smiling now “Until last week we’d never seen each other face to face, we’re all in our own little corners of Louisiana, the Sherriff’s see each other socially why can’t we?”
That seemed to make more sense to Steven and Lucy; I gave Bobby a wide grin and thanked him. The meeting wasn’t long, there wasn’t much to report. All of them had noticed Fellowship protesters but there hadn’t been any violence, I pointed out that we had caught many of them taking photos of visitors to the compound, but we couldn’t actually do anything about it so why not turn that around on them – take photos of the most fervent protesters so we can recognise them easier, everyone agreed and we decided to break it up there.
We agreed to meet up later for dinner at a restaurant near the hotel, it turned out that Bobby and Steven were staying in the same hotel as me, I just didn’t see them between the checking in before anyone wakes up and sleeping until half their workday was done!
“Hey Lucy, I’m a little short in evening wear, is there a store nearby I could hit for something restaurant worthy?”
“We’ve got time, I could show you somewhere.” She took in my present appearance “It might not be your style though.”
I shrugged and said it would be worth a look anyway. We were walking along the street and I noticed her looking behind us
“It’s my daytime security.”
“Does the Queen think you’ll be attacked?”
“Who knows, I’m glad he’s there, even if it’s only to stop someone swiping my purse!”
Lucy led me into a very upscale boutique, where the clothes were, surprise surprise, very conservative. The first thing I picked up was a black chiffon scarf then I found a nice black satin pencil skirt with a fishtail effect at the back, on the mannequin it was paired with a fitted tunic style top but I found a red sleeveless top with a square neckline and went to try on my choices. The skirt looked great but the top didn’t look right, I went back out and picked a smaller size and it was better, it was a little tight across my boobs but made the outfit pop.
I thanked Lucy for her time and she nodded shyly. She was thinking that I seemed to be a nice girl and she wasn’t used to meeting nice girls in her line of work, she wondered if I had the same problem. Hmm … I did have the same problem, the only person I had to talk to was Hadley and she wasn’t available sometimes, plus she was a vampire which made going for afternoon cake and hot chocolate a taboo activity. Lucy was practically next door, but you can’t just say ‘I’d like to have an understanding fellow female to bitch about stuff to when I’ve got PMT’.
“Lucy, this may sound weird but I was thinking we could kick back and spend some time just us girls before we meet the guys. I don’t really get the chance to have girl talk in the compound seeing as the other women are … well y’know … uh … donors or vampires.”
“Oh Sookie! That’s so true. Look, I just have to pop back home and clean up a little, why don’t I get gussied up real quick then bring a nice bottle of Pinot Grigio to your room and we can do our make-up together and chit chat?”
“Sounds good, Bill will probably need to pop in when he wakes to … check on me, but we’ve got a few hours before we need to meet Bobby and Steven. I’m in room number 325, just bang on the door when you get here.” We shared a strange half-handshake/half-hug thing and I ran up to my room to shower (again) and change into my new outfit.
I was dressed and just smoothing my hair into natural curls rather than frizz with some light gel when there was a rapping at the door, I checked for brain activity and found it was Lucy. I bounced over to let her in and she grinned widely as she set down a couple of bags then put a bottle of wine and two paper cups on the table. I looked out my make-up as she poured us a drink, she wanted to ask some things about me but wasn’t sure how to start
“So Lucy, how did you get into working with vamps?” I took a cup from her and sipped, it was a nice wine, not too dry, dry wine always made me screw up my face like I’d just sucked on a lemon
“Well, I was the PA for a lawyer who was dealing with some things for Gervaise. One day the police arrived at the office and arrested my boss for tax evasion and all of a sudden I was jobless, when I called Gervaise to tell him he’d need another lawyer he asked if I’d like to be his daytime person and that was that. I’m glad I made the change, doing errands for some who’s dead for the day is easier than doing errands for someone who’s spending his time with his mistress.” I laughed and figured that was probably true “So you said that the vamps knew about you from your cousin?”
“Uh … yes. When Sophie-Ann found out I was a telepath she couldn’t wait for me to sign an employment contract. It’s helped me a lot, because I can’t hear vampires I get some peace and I’ve also learned how to control it a lot.”
“So you … live … at the royal residence?”
“Yes, but as you heard Bobby saying, I have family in Northern Louisiana who I can visit when I have time off.”
“Plus you have the added bonus of being in Northman’s territory, I’ve heard he just has to walk into a room and panties start to drop.”
“He’s very handsome and charming, yes.” I could feel the blush rising
“Mmmm … yes I noticed he was gorgeous when we were in New Orleans. Anyway enough about work! Do you have a boyfriend? Husband? Girlfriend?”
“Uh … well I had someone, I don’t know if he could be considered my boyfriend, but we were close, I suppose. That’s why I had to get away for a while, there was a … disagreement. We’re not together anymore.”
“That’s a shame, but surely you didn’t need to leave NO to get away from him? It’s a big city after all!”
“He was kind of my daytime guard, he’s were so I couldn’t really read him and it made it easier to get to know him. It was because he’s a were that we broke up.”
“Oh, does it not work if both of you aren’t two-natured?” I could read that Lucy wasn’t being nosy or looking for gossip, she was just being sympathetic, which was nice, it made me want to talk about things.
“Not that. He had … obligations to his pack and never told me, it came up when we were about to … uh … go all the way.”
“Go all the way?” she snorted “Geez Sookie what are you 16? You’d think you were a virgin the way you say that!” I choked on the sip of wine I’d had then busied myself with some mascara “Wait. Are you a virgin?”
“If you must know yes I am. It’s very difficult to get close to people when you know what they’re thinking.”
“Oh of course. I’m sorry I didn’t want to offend you or make you feel like I’m judging you …”
“No Lucy, it’s okay. I know its a little odd being my age and still to take that step.”
“Your telepathy, I get it. Y’know when I first heard about you I thought it would be so cool, I never thought about the way it would affect how you relate to people.”
“Not many people do. I thought Frank was The One, y’know, that’s why I was willing to take the plunge.”
“Why does it have to be ‘The One’?”
“I’m not sure I get you.”
“For your first time. Why does it have to be someone you think you love?” I shot her a look “Please, Sookie, hear me out okay. Love, real love between adults depends on so many things. You have to be compatible in so many areas for it to be real love and sexually is a pretty important one for continuous harmony.”
“Okay I’m listening.”
“My point is that you never know who ‘The One’ is until you’ve explored all those compatibility issues. I have great respect for women who save themselves for Mr. Right but honestly how many women your age do you actually know who are still with the man who took their virginity and happy years later?”
“Well one, my friend Tara back home but I think they’re having problems so I guess she doesn’t count.”
“Losing your virginity is, at the end of the day, still just sex. It just happens to be the first time you have sex. It’s rarely a magical experience and often very unsatisfying for many women, personally I was glad to have it over and done with.”
“Really? It wasn’t special at all?”
“It was special in that it was a first. The guy was nice and we stayed together a while but we grew up and wanted different things; I’ll always remember him though. Unfortunately for you you’ve had to wait so long it’s now a huge deal to lose it.”
“So what do you suggest I do?”
“I don’t know” Lucy sighed and poured some more wine “but one thing I do know, is that if guys find out you’re a virgin at your age you’ll be a prize, hell don’t be surprised but if one guy finds out then there’ll be a book running odds on who gets to nail you first.”
“Really?” Just then there was a knock at the door, I checked and it was a void “I think that might be Bill.”
Sure enough it was, he was smiling widely “Good evening Sookie and …”
“Bill this is Ms Lucy Talbot, Gervaise’s Daytime Assistant, we were having some girl talk before we go to dinner.”
“Yes I overheard.”
“You … you did? How much did you hear?”
“Enough to know Ms Talbot here has a very accurate view on men.” Bill laughed and we just looked at him.
“What do you mean Bill?”
“The bets, by the time we left for Baton Rouge around five of the were guards and 3 other male vampires had thrown their hats into the ring.”
“OMIGOD! I can’t believe this!” I sank onto the bed and cried; Lucy came over and put a supportive arm around me.
“Oh Sookie, I’m so sorry. They’re just a bunch of insensitive jerks.”
“It’s not that, I can never go back there. All I’ll have is men trying to get me in their beds; I’ll never be able to trust any of them with anything!”
“I’m sorry Sookie; I thought this information may have pleased you, to know that so many men desire to be your first lover. Whoever it was would have to make a very good job of it; if you were displeased with his performance then he would be ridiculed. It’s pretty high pressure.” I marched over to the table and grabbed the scarf, throwing it at Bill.
“Just scent the damn scarf Bill and get out before I say something I might regret.” I went and locked myself in the bathroom until I heard my room door open and close. Lucy tapped the door lightly
“The asshole’s gone Sookie. I told him which restaurant we were meeting in and at what time so he could drop your scarf back to you.”
“Lucy, thank you so much for just listening to me and … well, letting me know how horrible men can be. If Bill hadn’t overheard you and told me about the book then goodness knows what would happen to me when I get back to the residence.”
“There’s one way to make thisbetter Sookie.” I looked at her “We need to get blind, stinking drunk and dance with strange men until very, very late at night.”
“That sounds very ‘Sex and the city’, I like it! Thanks Lucy, I’m so glad I came here!”
We spent a little more time making ourselves pretty and I walked out of the room excited to be on my first real night on the town! I was nervous about eating in a fancy restaurant for the first time but when we got there I noticed it was called ‘Gumbo Jumbo’ and it was fairly casual. The interior had a large mural of a bayou on one wall and was filled with tables of people laughing and enjoying their food, I relaxed immediately!
Steven and Bobby were already there and Bill was standing chatting to them, we said our ‘hello’s’ and Bill handed me my scarf back and left as he said the food smells were making him queasy. I tied it round my neck and asked Lucy to make sure it was sitting right; she asked why it was so important so I told her about Eric’s idea while Bobby sat wide eyed.
“So that’s why he had his shirt off when I came into the office?”
“Well, yes, why else would he … oh.”
“Oh! It’s not like that Sookie, I know you’re not the kind of woman who would … uh … in an office in a nightclub but he does like to try. I thought he had maybe come on a little strong.”
I laughed and the atmosphere lightened. The meal was delicious and even Steven relaxed a little after some wine and good food. We chatted and joked until Lucy suggested we hit a club, I was very much into that idea, so was Bobby but Steven needed a little convincing. We all piled into a cab and Lucy told the driver to take us to ‘Viva’ and handed us all little cards.
“Guest passes. Gervaise owns a small bar near to it and they’re always giving these to the customers.”
We got out and stopped at an ATM across the street from the club. I could hear the bass pounding and had to stop me feet from moving. The line wasn’t long and even when we got inside it was busy but not overly so. Steven and Lucy went to get some drinks while Bobby and I found a table near the dance floor. After a little while the table was abandoned and we were all on the floor shaking our booty and having a blast!
I danced with Steven, Bobby, Tony, Jonathon, Devon and of course with Lucy too. By the time 1am came around our group of four had merged with other groups out having fun and I lost count of the amount of people I had met, drank and laughed with.
Never. Again. I woke up with a splitting headache, probably from keeping my shields up so tight more than the amount of alcohol I consumed. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. My throat is parched; I hoped I remembered to set a glass of water next to the bed. As I rolled over to check I noticed a slight tenderness between my legs.
I rubbed my thighs together and wondered what could have caused it. I got flashes of memories from the night before. Lots of laughing, hugging people, kissing … wait kissing? Touching, nice touching, I was … happy, relaxed. Naked and … wait, I still was naked. I snaked a foot further across the bed and felt it hit another person’s flesh.
There was a very male grunt and an arm came around my waist “Mmmmm… Sookies”
I snorted with laughter, that had been Bobby’s running joke of last night, instead of ‘mmmm cookies’ he kept smelling my hair and saying ‘mmmmm Sookies’. Oh god!