Chapter 23 – Damn Distractions
January 24, 2004
Archie was one of many ‘Soldiers of the Light’ as he called himself, dispersed through a few southern states. The Soldiers of the Light were the fighting branch of the Fellowship of the Sun. They were under orders to find vampire companions and either outright buy information and assistance or threaten family and friends for compliance. Sookie was able to obtain the names of Archie’s counterparts in Mississippi, Texas and Florida. According to Archie’s thoughts, some of the southern states had no representatives because the vampire population was too low. The next steps were to notify Sophie-Anne, Eric’s Queen, so she could alert the other monarchs. For now, they were keeping Sookie and her telepathy a secret by stating that Archie gave up his contacts after being tortured. Since Eric knew some monarchs may need to see or meet Archie, he was kept alive and Sookie read his mind from another room. Obtaining the information was slower this way since they needed to stop and coach Pam on questions; but it was necessary to keep her gift hidden.
Since Gran would be asleep when they got to the Farmhouse, Sookie offered for her and Eric to go home to Shreveport. He was adamant that they stay at the farmhouse since Gran would be home on Sunday for a proper visit. Additionally she could help Jason as she had planned with packing Dawn’s stuff and dropping it at the doorstep of her friend’s house on Sunday. When they were discussing her day with Jason, Eric reminded her that she had to run the errands with her guard. “I hate having guards.”
“It’s part of your life now, but you can yell at me later, I have to call the Queen.” He kissed her forehead and went to the office he kept at the warehouse while Pam and Sookie talked in the meeting room.
“I have something for you.” She pointed to a shopping bag. “I sent Bobby to New Orleans today.”
“OK, we like maybe Bobby work on the weekends, so this is already good.”
“It gets better. Saks Fifth Avenue carries La Perla.”
“You, you got my stuff already?” She asked, her voice rising in excitement.
“I thought you might want it ASAP.”
“Yeah, I think I’ll wear the baby doll tonight.”
“SOOKIE! If I only knew you needed La Perla to yield, I would have done this sooner.”
“It’s the timing Pam, not just the negligee. Hey! What do we do about the order we placed last night?”
“We’ll still get that, Eric likes to rip stuff sometimes.” Sookie gasped. “Oh sweetie, you’ll like it.” She started giggling and Pam joined. They were interrupted by a loud thud and a crash. Pam vamped to the office. Being slower, Sookie was a moment behind but she could hear yelling in Swedish.
Seated in a chair in the hall, Sookie gave them a few minutes to yell out their anger. Finally, Eric emerged and knelt before Sookie, taking her hands in his. “Sookie I’m sorry but I need to go to New Orleans tonight. I must be there for a meeting at first dark tomorrow night. Pam is going with me. Thalia will meet us at Gran’s and will stay with you until I return.”
Pam, knowing what Sookie had planned for the evening, watched as Sookie’s face melted slowly until the tears started. Eric knew he really didn’t have time to coddle her so he picked her up and carried her to Pam’s car. The backseat of the sedan was large enough that Eric could sit with Sookie for the drive. Pam spun out of the parking lot and they headed to Bon Temps where they would leave for New Orleans. The crying didn’t stop while they drove and Eric really couldn’t figure out why this trip was so upsetting. Sure, he was mad too, but he’d be back, hopefully in just a night or two. Finally he asked. “Sookie, talk to me, why are you taking this so badly?”
“I wanted….I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too, but as soon as we have a plan for the Fellowship, I’ll be back. Thalia will protect you until I return.”
They had pulled into Gran’s drive at this point. He stood and pulled her out. “I see Thalia in the woods already. I’ll just put you to bed and then we’re off.”
“What about packing your clothes?”
“I have a house full of clothes in New Orleans; we’ll both be fine. I wouldn’t have time to pack anyway; the Queen won’t tolerate it if I don’t make it on time and we need to get down their quickly to be at the palace at first dark tonight.”
He reached her bedroom, set her on the bed, and started taking off her shoes. She tried to bat his hands away. “I can do that. Go, get there before dawn.”
“I’m putting my girl to bed; it will only take a moment.”
He was pulling her jeans down her legs. “Don’t be so sweet before you need to go. It’ll only make it harder.”
He pushed her to the side to expose one panty covered butt cheek and he playfully swatted it. “GO TO BED! Is that better?”
She giggled. “Much.” Lifting her with one arm, he was able to pull back the covers with the other and tuck her in.
He leaned into her face. “I know you aren’t ready to say it, but I love you Sookie Stackhouse and I’ll be back before you know it.”
“Shh, we’ll talk when I’m back.” He kissed her sweetly and was out the door but not before he heard her start to cry in earnest. He turned back and saw Gran walking across the hall to Sookie’s room making a shooing motion with her hands. Knowing he didn’t have time and even more so knowing he shouldn’t go against Adele’s instruction, he headed for Pam’s car.
Gran got into bed with Sookie and held her as she cried, shushing and rocking her. Before she could get her to talk, Sookie fell asleep and she left her to her dreams. She’d heard enough from her room to know that Eric was called to some meeting with his Queen. Sookie had filled her in on the hierarchy with Eric’s permission, so she knew this was Eric’s boss. She also heard Sookie’s concern, their momentary playfulness and Eric’s telling her he loved her. Since she knew he’d left for New Orleans just last month and Sookie was fine, Gran really didn’t understand why she was so upset now. The living room light was on so she went to the front of the house to turn it off, leaving the porch light lit for whatever vampire was out in the yard somewhere. As she looked out the window, Thalia made her presence known and they waived at each other. She spied the shopping bag on the couch and grabbed it since she saw something on a hanger and she thought something needed hanging. Her heart stopped when she saw the lingerie. It was white, a short gown, and it was sexy and elegant at the same time. It looked like something a girl would wear…. It was back in the bag right away, since she suddenly felt like she’d invaded Sookie’s privacy. Being so close, Gran and Sookie discussed everything so she knew Sookie was a virgin and why. She also knew she was falling for Eric, but hadn’t committed to calling it love – but that outfit. She knew something more was happening or about to happen between Sookie and Eric. That’s why Sookie was so crushed that he left and her heart broke for her baby girl.
Eric was in a foul mood so Pam stayed quiet and concentrated on her driving. He spent most of the trip on his Blackberry, assuring Sookie’s safety while he was gone, waking Bobby to have him head down to New Orleans to take care of his day needs, setting up time with Cataliades while he was in town, and sending Sookie texts in between his other tasks to frankly, make himself feel better. “Pam, I don’t understand why she was so upset tonight. Don’t get me wrong, I’m upset at being separated as well, but her crying was so loud it woke her Gran right before we left.”
“I know why and I can’t give you too many details, but she had some surprises planned and I’m sure she’s just really disappointed.”
Now he grew grimmer; he wanted his surprise, he wanted his Sookie. He also wanted to know how the two of them were going to make it through all this vampire crap still together and safe. For the second time since Sookie entered his life, he wondered if vampires could get headaches. His phone rang, it was Andre and he was now sure vampires could get headaches. “Stop by the palace before you head to your home.” And that was it; Andre ended the call that bluntly. ‘And Sookie thinks I have bad phone manners‘.
“What the fuck Eric, we’re barely going to have 20 minutes before we have to leave the palace to make it to your home.”
“He’s scheming. He probably plans to keep us there for the day. Why, I don’t know. I can’t let go of the possibility that he’s hoping I have Sookie with me.”
“You know, I thought you were being paranoid about that.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “And at the risk of angering you, I still think you are a bit paranoid, but that request was strange. I’ll give the thought that he’s scheming and it has to do with Sookie some credit.”
“How magnanimous of you Pam.” He sneered as she pulled into the palace parking area. The guards ushered them to Andre in the study.
“Northman.” Andre started and he walked over and blatantly sniffed Eric. “Where is your …. landscaper?”
With a steeled expression Eric first addressed the sniff. “Have you turned into a bloodhound Andre? Is there some new security that requires vampires be sniffed at entry?”
“Like all survivors, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. ….. So she is not with you?”
“No, why would I bring my landscaper to a meeting of state?” He shook his head at Andre’s comments. “What can we do for you Andre? We need to leave shortly to make my house by dawn.”
“You can rest here for the day. I wanted to review your report on Archie Hammond before we have our full meeting.”
“I appreciate your thoroughness, but my clothing is at my house. I will need to …”
“Pam, you may go to the house and return tonight with something for Eric.” She hesitated. “You are dismissed Miss Ravenscroft.” Eric nodded and she left.
Now settled in his guest room at the palace, he quickly texted Pam.
E: Nothing more than a review of my report. The meeting was unnecessary. He’d obviously read it, there were no details to add.
P: He was fishing.
E: Call Peter, he is assigned to Sookie for the day. Tell him to add more guards, and that Sookie is on lock down at the farmhouse for the day. Do it now before you need to rest. I cannot make that call from the palace.
P: He’s going to be curious.
E: Call Alcide and explain EVERYTHING about her and tell him to tell Sookie he knows. He can use his discretion on what guards should be told or not.
P: Understood, see you tonight.
He reviewed the papers he’d brought to discuss with Cataliades. One was an outline of the petition he wanted to file to remove the sentence from Jason in exchange for Sookie’s bravery. Removing Jason’s sentence would set her free. He hated the thought and at the same time he wanted to win this appeal for her. The other was a contract designating her as his asset, a telepath. Like the appeal, it was only the outline as Cataliades would need to draw up the contract, but he mulled over every detail again and again to prepare for his meeting. Hopefully they would both be able to meet at his home before the sun rose tomorrow morning. He would be much more relaxed if he had Cataliades’ opinion on the matter. Just as he felt the pull of dawn, he sent one final text to Sookie. It was simple, only one word: wish.
Andre used his down time before dawn by having one of the Queen’s pets secured under lock and key; ordering that she be brought food and not permitted to leave until the meetings were concluded. Hadley put up a fuss, but he promptly backhanded her, then glamoured her into submission. He updated the Queen as he got into bed with her for the day. “I had Hadley locked up until these meetings are over my Queen.”
“Why would you do that? Not in the sharing mood?” She asked with a bit of amusement. “I don’t blame you; that was a wise move in case someone happened to bite her before we could stop them. I’m thinking of having Hadley made a companion and bonding to her to remove all risk of that.”
“Bonding would be smart. I think you should find out more about Hadley’s family.”
“She’s only spoken of heartbreak when I ask. I don’t want to put Hadley through that.”
“Not even if there were more like her?”
“What do you mean?”
“Lay back my Queen, and I’ll tell you.
Sookie woke at about noon and stretched. Remembering her tasks for the day put a smile on her face because she would be so busy moving Dawn’s stuff, the day would fly and that would bring Eric back faster. Gran was in the kitchen ready to feed Sookie breakfast. She’d gone all out: biscuits with bacon gravy, eggs, and fruit. Sookie inhaled her plate and went for seconds. “This is wonderful Gran.”
“I’m glad you like it baby.” Gran was quiet for a moment, trying to determine if talking about last night would hurt or help Sookie. Part of her wanted to get Sookie talking in case she needed to get something out, but in the end Gran decided to keep quiet. For some reason, Sookie was calm now and she didn’t want to change that. They both heard a scuffle outside and ran to the porch.
“Let go a’me!”
“Not until you identify yourself.”
Sookie took in the scene from the door and ran out. “Alcide, this is my brother.”
“He only needed to tell me that so I could call you and confirm.”
“What are you doing here anyway?”
Alcide moved closer to Sookie. “Northman ordered extra guards and my guys are all working a construction job this weekend, I was the only person I could spare. I’m here to help Peter.”
“What’s going on, why more guards?”
“I don’t know Sweets, but I’m here and you WILL be protected.”
“What about helping Jason?”
Peter walked up and explained that Pam called him. He didn’t have the details but Pam and Eric were on high alert about something. Her helping Jason was canceled and she was to stay put in the house. Both Alcide and Peter were familiar enough with Sookie’s occasional tantrums that they were NOT shocked at what happened next. “Mother fucking high-handed know it all vampires.” She stomped toward the house and continued. “I’ll give his narrow ass a piece of my mind when I get him on the fucking phone tonight. Goddamn gilded cage. I hate this SHIT and he KNOWS it. And PAM! I’ll smack that fucktard upside her head when they get back. Helping him control me from New Orleans. Assholes, both of them.”
Even Gran was laughing as Sookie walked by. She ignored the foul language knowing that Eric had done something to tick her off. It wasn’t new and it wouldn’t be the last time. She made her way to Alcide. “Alcide, I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“It wasn’t planned. I was called in as an extra guard at the last minute.”
“Well, I already fed Peter, would you like to come in for breakfast?”
“I don’t think it’s safe.”
“Peter’s out here, and I’m sure there are more.” He nodded. “You can eat quickly, we’ll be safe from whatever Eric thinks is coming.”
“No ma’am, that’s not what I meant by safe. I don’t think I’d be safe from Sookie.”
“Nobody is.” They all laughed until Jason broke up the fun.
“Ah, I hate to be a party pooper, but who the fuck are you, why is my sister confined to the house, and Gran, why are you so calm ’bout all this?”
She swatted his head. “Jason, watch your language.”
“But Sookie just…”
“Just get in the house for breakfast.”
“It’s almost lunchtime.”
She smacked his head again. “Stop being a smart alec and get in the house.”
“Alcide, I’ll fix you a plate to eat on the porch.”
“Thank you Mrs. Stackhouse.”
“We talked about this, you can call me Gran.”
“Well, then thank you Gran.”
“Sookie, help me get your brother and Alcide fed.” She knew Sookie needed something to do to get through the day. Gran had plans to meet with Maxine in a bit, but knowing Sookie was confined to the house, she decided to stay and drag Sookie to the attic to help her clean it out. She figured it was safer for them both to stay in the house all day anyway. Now that Jason was here, she knew there were probably 4 guards on the property at the moment. The guard situation, including a lesson on Weres and shifters had been explained to her by Potts yesterday. She thought it a waste, but Eric hadn’t made it a thousand years without being smart. Having seen an unusual sight in her woods the past two nights, she couldn’t wait to discuss her vampire guard with Eric. She was sure she was either seeing things, or Elvis was roaming around her farmhouse.
Sookie stomped into the kitchen loudly and started the pan for more eggs. “Sookie, I’d like to clean the attic out today.”
“Trying to keep me busy?”
“Yes. You need to calm yourself: you scared your guard. AND, you need to keep that language under control.” She waggled a finger at Sookie.
Contrite, Sookie lowered her head and said “Yes Ma’am.”
They made quick work of another breakfast and Sookie delivered a plate as promised to Alcide. “Thanks Sweets. Though today I don’t know that your name fits.”
“Sorry about that.”
“No you’re not and it’s fine. You had plans and something came along and ruined them. You can be pissed.”
“Jason can’t move Dawn’s stuff out.”
“That’s not true, you wanted to help, but he has his two friends from the road crew helping him. It’ll get done.” He shifted a bit uncomfortably. “Sookie, I need to tell you about the call I had with Pam very early this morning.”
“Oh, so you do know the threat?”
“No, no….I just, she told me… What I mean is, Sookie, I know you’re a telepath.”
Sookie’s eyes went wide in shock. “She told you?”
“Don’t get mad, I’m sorry if you’re upset that…”
“I don’t care that you know I’m just surprised you know from Pam.”
“They needed me to be fully aware since I am acting as the liaison to my pack for your guards.” She looked panicked. “Not everyone knows; just me and a few of your key guards. Peter, for example. Will you tell me how it works while I eat?”
“Sure.” Sookie launched into her story with Alcide. He was quite riveted, and they even tested her ability with him noting that she had to touch him or he had to direct a thought for her to get a consistent read. Once he finished his breakfast, he knew he needed to be more dutiful about his guarding so he rose to leave the porch.
“Thanks for sharing with me Spock.”
“Sure Alcide, maybe I’ll just call you Fido.”
Entering the kitchen to help Gran clean up from breakfast or rather lunch, she was shooed out. “Go check your phone; I plugged it in near the end table. It was beeping up a storm last night. Oh, and there’s a bag in your room, stuff that needs to be hung. I can do it for you if you want.”
“Thanks Gran. I won’t need it for a few days, so I’ll wash it first.” She sighed as she spoke.
“Ok baby. Go see what your man sent you.”
Gran watched her reading her texts, sure they were from Eric. She’d heard it going off last night and found it in Sookie’s purse so she plugged it in to charge. Sookie’s expression changed as she read through the messages. She sniffled, she giggled, and right before she sent her own text back, she cried. Gran knew her baby girl was just as in love with Eric as he was with her.
Sookie read text after text. Pam must have driven, or Lord, she hoped Pam had driven while he was sending all these texts.
E: I already miss you
E: I just called Bobby to tell him to get on the road to New Orleans. He was NOT happy. I blamed the last minute trip on you.
E: Having Bobby drive down again even gets better when you realize Pam just sent him to New Orleans for the day today. So today, he’s made this trip down, back and now down again.
E: We should talk about Bobby more, you know, so I can learn more about him from your unique perspective
E: Heading into Alexandria and it’s only been an hour. Pam is flying behind the wheel, so we’ll make it
E: Tell your Gran I said thank you; she’ll know why
E: I called Potts about the trip. I asked her to pick you up on Monday at about noon to take you home.
E: Potts said Tina is driving her crazy so she must miss you
E: Pam just glamoured her way out of a ticket. Police officer is now on the lookout for Burnham’s car. No, I won’t pay the ticket for him; he makes enough money to cover it
E: We just drove into New Orleans. Will try to text you before I rest, but in case work takes all my time, I love you
The last one did her in, even more than the ‘I love you’. That one word, THEIR one word broke her and the anger she was carrying around morphed back into sadness. She cried as she texted him back ‘wish’ as well. Gran came and sat with her arms around Sookie while she cried. When Sookie had calmed, Gran turned to look her in the face, took her hands and asked her. “When are you going to admit to yourself that you love him?”
“I don’t think I realized it until last night. I was so disappointed when he left, like there was a hole in my chest. I had a surprise planned. ….”
“I know baby girl, I know.” She moved to hold Sookie. “I’m happy for you Sookie. I know it’s not ideal. I mean, you’ll never have Eric’s babies, you’ll never cook him breakfast – well any meal really. But he loves you, even if you didn’t start out perfect. But you know every relationship has compromises, granted daylight is a big one, but you have to decide if the rest of what he is – is what you want and need. I think you’ve done that, haven’t you?”
“I have Gran. There’s this thing for vampires. It’s called a bond and it’s more permanent than marriage since it can’t be broken. Eric asked me a while ago to bond, but I’ve been scared or foolish, I don’t know which. Anyway, the bond is creating from exchanging blood three times. We’ve exchanged once, but I wanted to exchange again last night and commit to the third exchange as soon as we can. I’ve decided Gran; it’s me and Eric forever.”
“Have you considered being turned?”
“GRAN! You seem kinda calm about the thought that he would murder me.”
“It’s not murder, its transformation – like a butterfly.”
“You can be full of surprises you know. As for being turned, he hasn’t asked yet, but I think I would. Consider it I mean. Not this minute, but before well, before my boobs sag.” They giggled together and Sookie felt really good having talked with Gran. The woman was everything to her as a child: Mom, Dad, Gran, friend and confidant. Well, Pam was her confidant too, but Gran had Sookie’s history.
Gran surprised her next. “So let’s go get that lingerie washed so you’ll be all ready for when Eric comes home.”
“Gran? You’re, you um, those are.”
“It’s about time you found love, if you want to express it all the way, I say go for it. Your man is gorgeous; you should enjoy ALL of him as much as possible.”
“Hush, how do you think I wound up pregnant with your Daddy?” Gran said that out loud, but at the same time something strange happened. Sookie heard Gran think ‘if she only really knew how I had her Daddy…‘
She said nothing about the comment. For some reason, her Gran’s thoughts had never been a problem, never intruding and often rarely heard, but this one struck her as strange. ‘I’ll tuck that one away for now.’
“OK, off to the laundry room, then we tackle the attic.”
As usual, Eric rose well before sunset. He showered and threw on his jeans from the night before while he waited for Pam to arrive with his suit. He desperately wanted to talk to Sookie, but he couldn’t risk a call from the Palace so he sent her a quick text instead. His dead heart lurched when he saw her response to his texts. ‘That one word.” he started to think…. ‘No, I won’t get melancholy now, I’ll be home soon and for now, it’s best to focus on the meetings.’
E: I’m staying at the palace. Will talk to you before I rest
He sent that off quickly hoping she would understand what wasn’t written then moved to his emails. Alcide had written him an update on the construction at the house and added some tidbits about Sookie’s day. He laughed out loud reading the details of Sookie’s hissy fit about being stuck in the house. His narrow ass couldn’t wait to get a piece of her mind; hopefully she’d be up when he finally got back to his house after the meetings. He’d better warn Pam that she was out for her head as well. He confirmed that Cataliades would meet him at his house when the meetings broke, provided there was at least two hours left of dark. That pleased him; the sooner he resolved her contracts, the better.
Soon enough Pam arrived, he dressed and they went to the conference room for the meeting. They weren’t too surprised to see Russell Edgington, the vampire King of Mississippi at the head of the room with Sophie-Anne. A quick glance around the room showed that Stan Davis a Sheriff from Texas and Antonia Perressa a sheriff from Florida were also in attendance. Their states had been named in this Fellowship threat so it made sense that they had representatives participating. Being in the presence of vampire royalty demanded certain protocol and ceremony so they waited patiently for their turn to bow to the monarchs in greeting, Eric refraining from rolling his eyes. It took several minutes for everyone to bow and greet the King and Queen properly but finally the meeting began. Eric was asked to present his findings.
The group waited until he finished delivering his report then asked some questions. He expected most of the questions and answered them with ease.
RUSSELL: “Archie was found as an extension of an attack on you?”
ERIC: “Yes, Archie was found by questioning a drainer that had attacked me. ”
STAN: “You were attacked by one drainer, is that drainer still alive?”
ERIC: “No, the drainer that attacked me was working with two other drainers. At this point, all three of them are dead.” ‘As if ONE drainer would dare to take me’.
STAN: “How did these drainers perish?”
ERIC: “Two were killed during the attack, the other was kept alive for questioning and he was killed after we learned Archie’s name and confirmed the information.” ‘And if you listened to my report, you’d know this’
ANTONIA: “Archie is alive? Where is he?”
“Yes, Archie was kept alive, and he’s been delivered to the palace cells during the day by some Weres.”
ANTONIA: “You trust Weres to this work?”
“Yes, I trust the Weres in my area and in fact employ a great many of them. I’m sure you employ Weres as well.”
ANTONIA: “I have Weres, but for guarding only, I don’t trust them to do reconnaissance or deal with prisoner transfers or investigations. How do you know you can trust these Weres?”
ERIC: “I think we’re getting off track with the questions about Weres in my area.”
“Agreed.” Andre said, ending the questions. “We must focus on our plans.” He nodded back to Eric to continue.
“I have information divided by state here.” He handed out the information to the state reps in the room. “I suggest you pick up the named Soldiers of the Light leaders in your states, torture and glamour them to see if there are more. We had success today when my Weres broke into Archie’s apartment and obtained his laptop. It’s being reviewed now. We already have names for follow-up. You may also find computers with each of your contacts.”
Sophie-Anne finally spoke. “Eric, I’m sure I speak for everyone in the room. You and Pamela have done an excellent job with this situation. We all have enough to move forward. I propose we eliminate the immediate threat with these representatives in our states; then reconvene to discuss the Fellowship of the Sun in general.”
Russell chimed in. “I agree on that plan Sophie-Anne.” He paused and turned to Eric. “Thank you Northman; Mississippi is in your debt.”
Andre drew the meeting to a close. “Well, Louisiana Sheriffs, you have your work cut out for you in your areas. Mississippi, Texas, Florida, good luck with your hunting.”
‘And now for closing protocol.’ Eric thought as he stood up and approached the monarchs. After bowing, he and Pam headed straight for the doors, surprised they weren’t stopped by anyone. He didn’t care. It was only midnight. If the meeting with Cataliades went quickly, they could make it home by dawn. He would fly if needed.
“Eric.” He cringed and turned around. ‘So close to getting away.’
“Please return tomorrow night, I’d like you to review your information with Rasul, he was unable to join us tonight.”
“Certainly; at first dark?” Andre nodded and he was out the door.
‘FUCK FUCK FUCK. So close to going home.’
Sensing her maker’s fury, Pam was quiet until they reached the car. Even then Eric shook his head minutely as if to tell her not to talk. Not sure if it was because they were in the palace garage or he was just too angry she held her tongue until they were in the house and even then, Eric announced he had a meeting with Cataliades shortly and he was not to be disturbed. She texted Sookie instead.
P: You up cupcake?
S: Oh, it’s my warden. Checking to see if I stayed in the house today leech?
P: I can see your mood is just about as good as Eric’s.
S: I was trapped in Gran’s house today, all day. Do you want to tell me what’s going on?
P: Ask Eric.
S: You bet I will
P: Careful Sookie, he’s really grumpy, don’t poke the bear
There was no response so she stayed quiet for a moment. Eric’s voice was soft, coming from his closed office and up the stairs, but she could still hear it. He must have called her.
“Eric.” She answered, a little coolly.
“No cuddle bear?”
She softened immediately but still wanted answers. “No, I think you are more ‘non disclosure bear’ tonight. Are you going to tell me what’s going on? Why the extra security?”
“I will, can we just talk first about, I don’t know, your day? What did you and Gran do?”
“Cleaned the attic. She got the best part of this whole mess if you ask me.”
He laughed a little at her attitude. “What do you mean?”
“You got me locked away, she got a slave she was trying to keep busy for the day. I was covered in dust.”
“Find anything interesting?”
“Spiders, dirt, her wedding dress – in really good shape, some old family photos, the usual for an attic. She did treat me to friends at dinner. Tara and Lala came over. It was nice to catch-up.”
He could tell he anger was abating as they spoke. She could yell at him tomorrow, he needed his ‘sweet Sookie’ tonight. “I’m glad you visited with your friends.”
“Yes, they told me some very interesting things.”
Uh oh. The end of ‘sweet Sookie’ was near. “What kinds of things?”
“Like the bill for Lafayette’s mother, you know the one I told you about in the nursing home? It’s been paid up for the next two years. And Tara, well miraculously, she was given a low interest loan to open her dress shop. A loan she’d been previously denied, by the way. She also received notification that she’s been awarded a scholarship for classes at the satellite LSU campus. Isn’t that all interesting?”
“Eric, thank you for helping them. Just remember, we talked about not having these things as secrets.”
“Yes dear.” She giggled and he decided to play with her. “$350.00.”
“$350.00, that’s how much Bobby’s ticket was. I told him to speed and get down there as close to dawn as possible so he was doing 95 miles per hour on route 49.”
“I hate him but that was nasty.”
“Why do you hate him, it’s not just how he behaves is it?”
“No, he’s mad at me because I get to live with you and I’m trailer trash that just eats pastries all day. Everything else he thinks is pretty much related to those thoughts.”
The trust he had with Bobby regarding his resting places or accounts no longer mattered. His only decision now was whether Bobby would be glamoured and fired or out and out killed. He kept those thoughts to himself. The conversation was pretty light and he needed that to calm the beast who wanted to kill the Queen for keeping him away from Sookie. They spoke until Cataliades arrived and he promised to call in about an hour or so with an update on his meetings. “I’ll nap, but will wake up when the phone rings.”
Pam had greeted the daemon lawyer at the door and escorted him to Eric’s office. He rose to greet him. “Desmond, thank you for making the time.”
“My pleasure Eric.” They both took seats at the conference table. “Can you confirm the purpose of the visit before we start?”
“This is personal legal business, not kingdom business. We may switch to that and I will tell you as needed for the appropriate confidences.”
“Very well, until you tell me otherwise, this conversation is attorney client privileged.” This was a routine that occurred at every meeting. Eric had no interest in finding another attorney, but he had to be clear when the work was personal versus his Sheriff’s role so nothing got back to Sophie-Anne that shouldn’t.
Once they cleared the privilege protocols, Eric launched into the discussion about Sookie. He started with what he thought was the easiest task first: the appeal to use Sookie’s bravery as a means to end her official incarceration. He noticed the daemon’s eyes widen as he described the attack and her part in ending one of the three drainers. “She stabbed him?”
“Yes, directly in the chest. There was no doubt it was a kill move.”
“Impressive.” The daemon was inwardly cheering for Sookie. “This seems in order, we can make the appeal but I would suggest doing this after the current Soldier of the Light crisis is over.”
“That makes sense. Let’s talk about my next request then.” Eric then pulled his second folder out. “Before we begin, I must reiterate the need for attorney client privilege.”
“Certainly Eric. I think it’s time you understand something as well, so while you aren’t an attorney, I request the same privilege for information that I may be sharing with you.”
Eric raised his brows in a bit of surprised, but pledged to keep the meeting content quiet. After all, he was placing a great deal of trust with his lawyer. “This next contract I am considering is for a personal asset, a telepath.”
“You want to make Sookie an asset? You don’t think the companion registration is enough protection? Have you bonded?”
“You incredibly astute and curious about a vampire’s companion. Incidentally, I didn’t say Sookie’s name, just telepath.”
“She’s my godchild.”
Eric stilled at the words. ‘His godchild? How is that possible? Daemons could be godparents? Did Sookie know? What the hell?‘
“I guess I should explain.”
“I can’t disclose everything because Sookie doesn’t even know it all, hell she doesn’t even know as much as I am about to tell you. As she learns, my guess is you will learn. To her, I’m just a friend of her grandfather’s and she calls me Uncle Des, though we only see each other maybe once a year. She does not know that I’m a daemon, or that I’m responsible for her telepathy. My relationship is officially a sponsor if you will, but we just went with the more common human term of godfather for Sookie.”
‘I wonder if I can crush some of that Excedrin Sookie uses for headaches and take it with blood? This is just painful.‘ He literally shook off his shock. “You knew Adele’s husband?”
“I knew Sookie’s paternal grandfather.”
Based on what he heard so far, Adele had participated in an affair. Sookie had no idea so he understood why he wouldn’t tell him more. “How are you responsible for the telepathy?”
“It was a gift to Sookie’s grandfather for his heirs. Adele drank some of my blood, just a thimble’s worth, before she ever conceived a child. To tell you anything further, would again divulge more than I can. I only share this with you now because I know you are good for Sookie, and I’m determined to ensure she is not enslaved by a greedy monarch for her telepathy. Sophie-Anne would treat her fairly while she was locked away, some monarchs would keep her in chains, but you, Eric – you treat her like a Queen.”
“Potts, I mean, Cara is your source?”
“Yes. But don’t be mad at her, or Godric. Her being in place at your house, knowing me and my being Sookie’s Godfather is all coincidence.”
“That’s a hell of a coincidence. Can I even tell Sookie about this?”
“She doesn’t know about her Gran having an affair, which I know you gathered, or that I am the cause of her telepathy. But you can tell her I’m your lawyer and what we have planned.”
“Ok, but Sookie and I are in a relationship, I can’t keep this from her for long.”
“I’ll speak with Adele; you can also try that if you want – but please give her some time to come to terms with her affair being ‘outed’. Let’s get back to the contracts and protection.” Eric nodded. “So, we have to come up with a plan to keep Sookie secure with you when we know her telepathy is going to come out.” Eric nodded. “She is the real source of all the names from reading your drainers?” He nodded again. “Well, your companion registration is still solid; it’s sealed with Sophie-Anne’s mark. At this point, Andre and Sophie-Anne don’t know Sookie is the human being held for the drainer crime, right?”
“Correct, they don’t care about the specifics, just the punishment doled out. There has been no audit of my warehouse security tapes. My punishments haven’t been audited in decades; Sophie-Anne knows I take my role seriously.”
“Good, we need to keep those things separate for now.”
“I defer to your judgment.”
“Our biggest problem is curiosity. I’ve heard Andre talking to Sophie-Anne about your ‘landscaper’ so he’s already curious. Unlike a companion registration that he barely glances at, we can’t get an asset contract approved by Andre or the Queen without scrutiny. Once they see the contract, they’ll want to meet her. We need time. Can you buy that even while back at the Palace tomorrow night?”
“I can. Why the time?”
“You need to bond to her.”
“She hasn’t agreed to that yet.”
“What? That girl is so stubborn she makes you look compliant.” They both chuckled. “Let’s meet at your house this weekend. I’ll discuss it with her.”
“She doesn’t do the gang up thing well. We’ll call that plan B and hopefully Sophie-Anne releases me tomorrow night so I have time to discuss it with her.”
“She will. She’ll kick you out well before a 10PM due to a private meeting she already has. For now, we need to keep them in the dark about Sookie as much as possible.”
Cataliades stood to leave. “In the interim, I’ll prepare the asset papers. Once you’ve bonded, we can present those to her Majesty.”
“She’ll be pissed.”
“But you’ll be bonded.”