*Ducks flying toothpicks and silver coins*
Yeah, I know, that last chapter really wasn’t very nice of me. I’m sorry about that cliffhanger, though I love reading your reviews when you guys try and guess what’ll happen next. It’s entertaining as all get out.
Here’s the next chapter- another short one. I’m trying to get ’em out faster to you all, so they’re not as long as the chapters I’ve previously posted.
You guys leave me speechless. I can’t believe it! I now have over 100 reviews and 100 followers! THANK YOU ALL!
You all should really get some sleep though. So many of my reviews have talked about how you’ve read this all in one day, staying up until 5 a.m. to finish it. Please pace yourselves, I don’t want you all dying from exhaustion.
That would mean less readers for me and I can’t have that.
Disclaimer: I do not own True blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. Charlaine Harris, Alan Ball, and HBO own everything. I just like making their characters’ fangs drop at the same time by pressing the trigger on my remote control and watching how they then react.
“Yes, Lorena. Retract your fangs,” a smooth, Southern voice said with such a pleasant tone that one would think we were all out for a Sunday drive. I glanced upwards to see none other than Russell Edgington himself coming down the staircase.
Having been ordered by her sovereign, Lorena immediately retracted her fangs and Godric reluctantly set her back on her feet, still pissed. She took a wary step away from my maker, who flooded me with enough exasperation for my lips to twitch. Godric gave her a warning look that made her flinch as he passed her on the way back to my side and took up his previous position. We both then trained our eyes on Russell.
With every step he took towards the first landing, towards us, my emotions tightened and shrank. Godric commanded me not to act aggressively or predatory around Bill, so as long Bill was here, I wouldn’t give into my more predatory desires, like kicking both their asses. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep me from reacting emotionally, just from being outwardly aggressive. Vampire Sookie didn’t like that Russell was in the room, could sense the power coming off him, and wanted control. My fairy nature surged up too, wanting to protect Godric and angry on behalf of Eric.
Every emotion I had disappeared except for anger, protectiveness, possessiveness, and caution. I wasn’t afraid, but I knew I had to proceed carefully if we were going to make it back out of here with Bill and neither of my natures was happy with the idea that anything could happen to Godric, hence the caution. Both the vampire and the fairy were in agreement at the moment and they had decided I should tread lightly around Russell.
My bloodline, including Jess, reacted to the way my tie felt immediately. They started streaming me a steady and continuous amount of reassurance, strength, security, and affection, which slowly brought my other emotions back out. They were incredibly smaller, more compact than normal, and not what my natures wanted me to feel, but they were there and helped me react normally, bringing less attention to myself. My movements were still a little languid, which of course caught Russell’s eye, but I wasn’t coming across as predatory, just completely at ease.
Godric and I both bowed as Russell hit the last step. He gave us a nod of acknowledgment before moving closer to Talbot, passing a still gaping and frozen Bill by the stairs as he walked. Russell wrapped an arm around his consort and progeny’s waist while he tsked Lorena, scolding her for her behavior, and said, “You owe Godric an apology, Lorena. We welcome him and his progeny to this court.”
A look of disbelief flickered across her face before she lowered her eyes and bit out, “Yes, your majesty. I apologize, Godric.”
“She owes my progeny one as well. Sookie did nothing to warrant an attack. They do not even know each other, your majesty,” Godric said, talking over Lorena, speaking like she wasn’t even in the room. He was furious that anyone would attack me, let alone someone I had never even met.
And he wasn’t the only one. Three people back in Louisiana were positively seething at the moment. I caressed my ties with them and they relaxed. They had me tempted to purr when they responded to my caresses by sending me back gentle waves of affection.
“You attempted to challenge her without provocation?” Russell hissed at Lorena, who dropped her eyes again. If Lorena had managed to attack me without just cause, it would’ve been considered a blood offense and, as my maker, Godric would’ve been entitled to Lorena’s death.
Russell was thrilled Godric and I were here. His mind was going off in twenty different directions about how he could utilize Godric and what he could do for his retinue. He was also intrigued with me and wondering how he could put me to use, whether I was still telepathic, and if he could use me somewhere else if I wasn’t. He didn’t know why Lorena and Bill were reacting the way they were, but he had noticed how I felt about their reactions.
I couldn’t give a shit. That’s how I felt.
The fact that I was so calm surprised Russell and, like Eric, he wasn’t often surprised. Russell could tell from my glow I was only a month old, but I hadn’t so much as tensed when Lorena made a move towards me. I hadn’t reacted like a normal newborn and he’d never seen anything like it before. Not only that, but Talbot was over 700 years old, Lorena was over 500, and Bill was over 150, yet none of their ages seemed to intimidate me. Apparently, Russell had been watching us from the second floor for a moment before he joined us. When he saw how comfortable I seemed to be, it had piqued his interest and, out of curiosity, he had analyzed my posture and movements as he came down the stairs. He noticed how I had loosened up even more when he approached and how completely relaxed I became in the presence of one of the world’s oldest vampires, which surprised him even more. Now he was completely enthralled.
“She provokes me by existing,” Lorena snarled.
Well, gosh. Tell us how you really feel.
“And you provoke me,” Godric said in a dark tone, dropping the level of his voice so it was frostier than the polar ice caps. Lorena flinched again at the sound of it.
“Lorena,” Russell said with exaggerated slowness, drawing out her name, “you will apologize. Now.”
Her fists clenched for a couple seconds before she physically forced herself to relax her muscles and patted down her dress, smoothing out the wrinkles caused by being slammed against the wall. She kept her eyes on her clothing, acting as though I was so beneath her that I wasn’t worthy of eye contact when she spoke and said, “I apologize, I do not know what came over me.”
“Wonderful! Now that’s finally all taken care of,” Russell said and clapped his hands together. He then turned his attention back to me and ran his eyes over me inquisitively; taking in my position in relation to Godric and how my gaze had yet to leave him since he walked down the stairs. The predator in me wouldn’t let me look away while I was being evaluated by someone so old and powerful.
The handclap seemed to snap Bill out of whatever daze he was in and he realized I had yet to look away from Russell too, that I hadn’t spared him a glance since Russell spoke.
And it pissed him off.
For months, Bill had worked on me, drowned me in his blood and emotions, and done everything he could to make sure he was the focus of my life. He had relished that attention, I could read it from his mind, and now that he knew I hadn’t been ended in the Fellowship, he wanted that attention back. He wanted to be the center of my world again.
And because he wanted it so badly, he talked himself into believing he still was. He forced himself to believe I was here to rescue him; that I must’ve talked my maker into tracking Bill down because I was so desperately in love with him and the two of us came here tonight in order to try and free him. Operating on that seriously delusional notion, he started thinking about how to get me out of here and far away from Russell Edgington. He instantly realized it wasn’t safe for me to be around Russell and things were about to go badly very quickly.
Because Russell knew I was a telepath.
At least he knew I was one when I was alive. He couldn’t be so sure now.
And how did Russell know?
Bill Compton, the idiot, told him.
So, yes, there was a place for Bill in my world, but it wasn’t at the center.
It was six feet beneath my feet.
His mind started furiously racing through his options and he realized that the way Russell and I were studying each other did not bode well for him. Russell was showing an interest in me and that would mean problems for him, had, in fact, been a problem once already when Russell drilled him about me when he first got to Mississippi. In Bill’s mind, I was still the naïve little waitress from Bon Temps, not the progeny of an ancient vampire, and suddenly it was all up to him to save me. Only he could save me.
While trying to fool himself into believing all of this, there was also a more insidious thought process operating underneath it all. On another level separate from his Messiah-complex, Bill knew I wasn’t in love with him, but he honestly thought that he could still manipulate me if he had the chance, still find a way to shift my focus back to him and entrap me all over again. Playing hero was the most basic way he knew how, so he settled on that plan. The problem with that was, if Russell became invested in me, and it was starting to look like he would, Bill knew he’d never again have that opportunity. He had to get me away from Russell, had to get me out of here, and that’s where his thoughts got stuck, repeating over and over in a dizzy and furious cycle. All he could think about was getting me away from here.
“Godric!” Russell crowed, his face mirroring his glee. “It has been at least a thousand years since we last met. I see you’ve-“
He never got the chance to finish that sentence because Bill, my hero, reached out and tore a piece of wood free from the banister, staked the guard standing between us, and threw himself up on top of Russell, sitting on his shoulders like a toddler would sit on his father’s at a city parade.
The completely innocent vampire guard burst into a puddle of blood, guts, and goo, while Bill raised the stake above his head, shouting, “Sookeh! RUN!”
My fangs slammed down at the scent of blood, which the maker command allowed since I hadn’t done it aggressively. Thankfully, the command did keep me from spiraling into bloodlust though, which made me so unbelievably grateful that I had asked Godric to issue it. Godric immediately tensed and I languidly arched my back while we both pushed nothing but pure exasperation into the bond. Simultaneously, Eric pushed me disbelief and incredulity, Jess pushed me frustration and an emotional eye-roll that had my lips twitching, and Pam wrapped me up in amusement and mirth for Bill’s idiotic heroics.
Every single one of those emotions scattered into nothing but static when Russell simply shrugged his shoulders, flinging Bill upwards and off him at a speed too fast for any of us to follow. Even Godric couldn’t follow his movements, making it painfully clear ending Russell was going to be one mother trucker of a fight. Bill flew up into the air, rebounded off the ceiling, and landed face-down on the staircase, quickly followed by a shower of chunks of plaster and debris.
Talk about face-planting. His face probably hurt like hell.
It certainly hurt me every time I looked at it.
“Are you serious?!” Russell exclaimed and cackled like a maniac. “I’m nearly 3,000 years old!”
Seriously an idiot…
Godric and I couldn’t have prevented Bill’s attempt on Russell’s life. Yes, we were listening to his thoughts and we were both very aware of how he felt he needed to get me away from Russell and off the compound, but neither of us realized he meant that very moment. We figured he’d act like every other sane vampire and bide his time. He didn’t even think about what he was doing, he snapped and did it all on instinct. Not a single thought about it entered his mind so there was no way we could’ve known what he had planned to do.
And that made us idiotic for assuming Bill would act like a sane vampire.
The room fell into complete silence, aside from Russell’s creepy cackling, and poor Talbot just looked stunned. His thoughts were racing about all the damage his beautiful home had undergone since Bill Compton walked into it and he actually felt grief for what his home had suffered at Bill’s hands. I knew that my best bet of getting on the king’s good side was through Talbot so I made a sad, disappointed face as I looked at the indent in the ceiling, the damage to the stairs, and finally the blood puddle on the rug.
“Why’d you do that, Bill?” I chided and tutted before sadly sighing out, “You ruined such a beautiful rug, too. Did you pick it out, Talbot?”
Godric’s mirth shot up and his lips twitched, which thankfully went unnoticed since Talbot was staring at me like I was a cool drink of water in the desert, wondering if he really had found someone else as interested in decorating as he was. Bill just looked at me incredulously as two guards surrounded him, lifting him up from his prone position on the stairs, before pleading, “You have to get out of here, Sookeh!” He turned to Godric next and begged, “Please! Get her out of here!”
“Get her out of here?” Godric repeated, lacing his voice with utter confusion while pushing me amusement.
I mimicked Godric’s expression, probably enjoying myself a little too much, and asked, “Why would we wanna get out of here, Bill? Master wanted me to meet his majesty. We were thinkin’ about movin’ to Mississippi.”
He looked back and forth between us, completely bewildered himself and full of disbelief, while Russell cackled in delight and purred, “Really? Godric, is this true?”
“It is, your majesty. I’ve been training Sookie in the way of old and we’ve been making our way here for the last month. We just came from Louisiana, where I informed my eldest progeny, Eric Northman,” Bill pathetically growled at this and every single one of us rolled our eyes, “we wouldn’t be staying in his area. It appears his queen, Sophie-Anne, had it out for Sookie in her mortal life. I’m afraid she wouldn’t be safe there,” Godric stated, sorely tempted to laugh at Bill’s expression when he mentioned the queen. If vampires could, I was sure Bill would’ve shit himself. “So we are looking at obtaining residency in other states. We’ve come to humbly beg permission for a customary day of rest, your highness, while we look into the area. If acceptable, we’ll move to a hotel during the day tomorrow when my dayman arrives.”
“So old world, I love it,” Talbot murmured. He was absolutely furious with Russell, who didn’t give a shit about the damage to the room, but my comment had distracted him and he had calmed himself down in order to find out more about me.
Russell looked between the two of us excitedly before throwing his hands up in the air and dramatically shouting, “Fantastic!”
Russell’s thoughts moved a little faster than any other’s I had come across and he had even more thought processes than Godric moving around all at once. Right now, there were three things that he was thinking about predominantly; adding such a powerful vampire like Godric to his retinue, wondering if there was a way to use our dislike of Sophie-Anne against her, and whether or not I was still telepathic.
He wasn’t really surprised we were here or that we were looking for residency in another state, he’d sent a vampire out to Bon Temps to gather some information on me. That vampire had reported back that Godric and I were on our way to Mississippi and that the queen had tried to procure me for my telepathy while I was alive. He wasn’t surprised at all, he was ecstatic.
I guess Russell tried to use me against Bill at one point and Bill told him I was dead. Russell then moved on to bribing him into joining his retinue. Realizing Russell and Lorena would keep him there by force if necessary, he reluctantly accepted the bribe. Seeing no harm in revealing my telepathic secret since I was no longer among the living, Bill told Russell about it hoping it would portray him as honest and eager to please. Russell didn’t believe Bill when he said I was dead and sent a wolf out to Bon Temps, who came back empty-handed since I hadn’t returned to the farmhouse yet. He then sent a crazy-ass vampire to confirm it. Unfortunately, we had returned by then and it seemed this vampire, Franklin, found out I was undead and on the way here. He told Russell just before we arrived.
We could still use that to our advantage. Godric said we came from Louisiana, so it would make sense Franklin told him we were on our way to Mississippi.
I replayed the thoughts and info I gathered to Godric as I listened, I had to so he could translate for me. He agreed with me and sent, If he asks, we’ll just say we went to Bon Temps for a final goodbye.
“I hereby grant a day of rest, Godric, for you and your progeny, Miss?” Russell asked, playing dumb.
“Her name is Sookie Stackhouse, your majesty,” Godric answered for me.
“Well, you don’t say,” Russell grinned and shot a disappointed look at Bill, who looked even more panicked, “I would be delighted if you would join us tonight, Godric, Miss Stackhouse,” Russell said with a nod and we answered with a bow.
“What are you going to do with our Mr. Compton,” Lorena questioned in a quivering voice, “if I may ask?” We all shifted our attention to her.
“Oh, yes,” Russell said with disdain. He then turned to Talbot and said, “Guess who turned out to be completely unworthy of our trust? He even lied about our Miss Stackhouse!”
“No!” Talbot mock gasped.
“I did not!” Bill refuted. “I felt her die in Dallas, your majesty, I was not aware she had been turned. Lorena was with me when I felt it.” Lorena nodded in support of her progeny, but Russell just waved his hand in dismissal. I didn’t know why Bill would even bother arguing, he was going to be put to death for attacking the king no matter what anyways.
As if getting him out of here wouldn’t be difficult enough…
“I’m afraid he’s right, your majesty,” Godric interjected, drawing attention back to us. “Sookie died in Dallas, at the Fellowship. I turned her there and I kept her isolated so I could help her reign in her bloodlust. We started training soon after. Nobody knew Sookie had been turned until a couple of days ago.”
A tiny falsehood. I never had problems with my bloodlust, but Russell didn’t need to know the real reason why we kept my turning so quiet.
“It matters not,” Russell said with a sigh. “He killed a guard and tried to kill his king,” he said and turned to the guards. “Marco, Klaus! Take him to the slave quarters.”
The guards began pushing Bill out of the room. He fought against them and watched me the entire way, walking backwards just to give me sad, pitiful, puppy dog eyes.
“There, my dear, you will kill him,” Russell continued nonchalantly, addressing Lorena.
“Do not defy me! I am your king!” he roared at her. Godric lifted an eyebrow at me and I nodded. It had just become very obvious it would be extremely difficult to get Russell to release Bill to us.
For a brief second, I thought Lorena would actually cry. Her eyes shifted around the room, breaking Russell’s gaze and showing submission and she softly said, “Your majesty.”
I actually felt bad for Lorena. She loved Bill in her own sadistic way. I could read from her thoughts how much she pined after him and now she’d have to put him to death.
At least I felt bad until I caught the murderous thought process going off in the background about how much she hated me because of how affected Bill appeared to be by my death. Seriously, though? She could have him. Bill was all hers.
I had myself a Viking at home.
I wasn’t worried about his death happening soon though, I could read from her thoughts that she planned to take her sweet ass time about it and planned to prolong it past the sunrise.
That worked just fine for me.
“Well, then, let’s get your things up to a guest suite,” Russell said and waved his hand at another guard who vamped closer and pulled my bag from my shoulder before snagging Godric’s. It was definitely a good idea to leave the spy gear at Alcide’s. Our things were about to be searched. “Let’s adjourn to the library.”
Talbot pushed forward with this and smoothly laced his arm through mine, linking us together as he turned a pleading face towards Russell and said, “Darling, I’d like to get to know our Sookie better. I’m going to give her a small tour of our home first, if that’s okay?” He threw in a bat of his lashes for good measure.
Russell looked between us with a calculating eye as he quickly thought about the situation. He could feel from their bond how upset Talbot was and this would be a good distraction, but he wanted to drill me and find out if I could still hear thoughts. It then occurred to him that he could question Godric separately and find out if our answers matched when Talbot brought me back. Finally, he gave us a nod and Talbot whisked me off, leaving Godric, who was chuckling at the fact that Russell’s royal consort had been so taken with me after one well-placed comment, with Russell.
Normally, I’d agree with Russell about his plan to catch us off guard, but my range was stronger now that I was vampire. I didn’t need to be in the room with Godric to hear his thoughts and, honestly, it was likely I didn’t need to be close by to keep our minds connected either. With the benefits of having a vampiric mind, I could think more than thirty different things at once, so Godric could continue to translate for me as I dug through minds on the tour too.
And a tour would be excellent. I’d know my way around the next day, so Godric didn’t fight it when Talbot dragged me away.
“Sookie, darling, you liked the rug in the foyer?” Talbot asked curiously, wanting to know if I was being genuine or facetious when I scolded Bill.
I nodded vehemently while I dug through his thoughts and said, “I did, Talbot. Was it an import? It reminded me of Greece.”
He squeezed my arm and gave me a delighted smile and commented, “You have a wonderful eye, darling. It was indeed, it came from my homeland about 300 years ago, a gift in memory of my turning.”
I had an excellent mental eye. I didn’t know shit about decorating.
“Have you and the king been together that long?” I asked feigning astonishment. I’d already read everything I needed to know about Talbot and Russell’s relationship.
“It’s been nearly 700 years. Sometimes it feels like seven million,” he said glumly. His thoughts began to race as he considered the state of their relationship, revealing his wandering eye to me. Talbot was intrigued by Godric, hoping he might get a moment alone with him later. He was even more intrigued about Eric though, having heard of his good looks and that he was a talented lover. His mind stayed focused on that for a second and he decided to entertain himself by finding out all he could about Eric, which had me feeling mighty possessive. My entire bloodline was confused by the sudden proprietary rush. They then swamped me in mirth and understanding when Talbot asked, “Did I hear Godric say the Viking is your blood brother, Sookie?”
With reluctance, since I had an idea where this was going, I nodded. We were nearing the dining area as Talbot gave me a smile full of mischief and leaned in to quietly ask, “Is it true? That he’s a great lover?”
Godric, Pam, and Jessica all erupted with mirth in the ties, being very aware of everything that was happening with me since I was connected to Godric and wearing a video camera, and Eric pushed me a mountain of curiosity mixed in with his amusement. I knew without a doubt he was hanging on every word back at Fangtasia.
In a case of bittersweet luck, I didn’t get a chance to answer. We walked into the dining room at that moment and I nearly tripped over my own feet in surprise.
My best friend was tied up and sitting in a chair at the table with a ridiculous bowl of flowers sitting before her like she was supposed to eat it. All of my connections immediately filled with alarm and Godric mentally pushed, As your maker, I command you, Sookie. Do nothing to put this mission at risk because of Tara. I command you to leave Tara here. You will help her during the day, but not now. Push your thoughts to her and explain why you must not help her.
“Sookie!” Tara shrieked, “Help me! Help me, please!”
I was incredibly grateful for Godric’s command in that moment because hearing her beg made an overwhelming urge to protect my kin well up inside me, an urge that would’ve normally made my fangs drop, but that would’ve definitely put our mission at risk.
I quickly pushed into her mind and sent Tara, pretend you can’t hear me. I can transmit thoughts, it has to do with my day-walking ability. I added the day-walking in to make sure knowing I could reach her mentally would be information tucked inside the protective block. I can’t help you right now, but I will come for you during the day. Blink twice if you understand.
While she blinked at me, Talbot turned to me and asked, “You know her? Franklin’s pet?”
“I do,” I said casually. “She’s just a remnant of my mortal life. What’s she doin’ here?”
“What’s wrong with you, Sookie?” Tara asked hysterically, nearly convincing me with the tone of her voice that she was really pissed at me. Thankfully, her inner voice was quickly summarizing everything she told Franklin and how he kidnapped her, including what I told her about Hadley and Bill. I pushed another thought to her to tell her I understood and reassure her that I’d come for her after the sun rose.
“Come, Sookie, darling. I think you’d find our collection fascinating, we’ll leave Franklin to deal with that,” he said dismissively and muttered something about how Tara clashed with his décor while guiding me out of the room.
“Sookie! Sookie, help me! Please!” Tara yelled after me and, God help me, I laughed. I reassured her as I did and she understood, but it was still one of the hardest and most painful things I’d ever had to do. My bloodline flooded me with strength and they all reached for me through the ties, placing a comforting mental hand on me as I walked away laughing from a terrified friend who had been kidnapped by a psychotic vampire.
For that alone, Franklin wouldn’t live to see another sunset.