Chapter 27 – The Queen’s Surprise
January 29, 2004
As promised, Sookie did spend the late afternoon doing homework in the sun. It wasn’t that warm, but if she stayed in direct sunlight, she was able to tolerate shorts and a tee-shirt. That would have to do for Eric. Originally, she wanted to go out in her bikini, but 65 degrees was still too cold for that. After undressing, she snuggled in and waited for Eric to rise. A half hour later, she was woken up by the sensation of being licked and she giggled. “That’s quite a different type of alarm clock.”
“I couldn’t resist. I love the taste of the sun on your skin.” He rolled her under him. “And you came to bed naked. No time wasted on getting you out of clothes.”
“It was clothing preservation, I assure you.”
He chuckled. “When I rip them, it gives Pam the excuse to replace them. She asked me to be especially hard on your original Wal-Mart purchases.” Sookie gasped and was about to yell but he cut her off with a kiss. Things were just heating up when his phone rang. It was Potts’ cell phone and he knew he needed to answer it; she wouldn’t have called unless it was an emergency.
“You need to get home. Adele had a stroke.”
With the latest blood exchange, Sookie heard Potts. “GRAN! Eric, we have to go.” She got up and started packing before he even discussed more of the situation with Potts. Once he had the details, he called for the plane. Since they were booked to leave the next night, he had to scramble and eventually Godric came through with a plane that could depart shortly after sunset.
“A car will be here at sunset and Godric will meet us at the plane to see us off.” He took her hand as she flitted around the room. “Sookie, I’ll pack, you should eat something.”
“You won’t be any good to Gran if you’re sick.” When he saw her hesitate, he got a bit more forceful. “Sookie, I mean it. At least go pack something to eat on the plane or I won’t take you to the hospital.”
“You don’t need to be a jerk about it.” He kept his response to himself. He didn’t like being a ‘jerk’ but Sookie would truly ignore her own needs in this situation, he had to step in. He packed quickly and found her in the kitchen finishing up a sandwich to pack.
Taking the risk of being affectionate while she was upset, he leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. Seeing she wasn’t too mad at him, he spoke first. “I’m sorry I needed to be a ‘jerk’, but I won’t have you getting sick from this situation.”
With a big sigh, she replied. “I understand. I’m just really upset and I need to get to her.”
“The car is here, let’s go.”
When they took off, Sookie realized it was just minutes after dark and she was grateful to both Eric and Godric for getting everything situated so quickly. She leaned into Eric and simply said, “Thank you.”
“Min älskade, it was nothing. You need to be with your Gran.”
“What happens during the day?” She inquired while finishing her sandwich.
“I’ll have all the details when we land. Pam is working on it.”
“Do you know any more? We rushed to get out of there so I don’t know much.”
He took a moment to consider how to tell her what he’d learned. Dawn had been killed, much like the other woman Sookie mentioned and Jason was in custody. He was sure this had caused a reaction with Adele that led to the stroke. Did Sookie need to know, yes, but should she know now? He took too long.
“You know something.”
“Sookie, much has happened in Bon Temps since we left for Dallas.” He moved her to his lap to continue and she immediately became nervous. “Sookie, Dawn was murdered, strangled like that other woman.”
“Maudette Pickins. Oh God, how is Jason I wonder. Jeez, now that I think of it, he dated both of them, Maudette many months ago, obviously.”
“Sookie, Jason was arrested for the murders.”
“WHAT!? Oh my God, did that cause the stroke?”
“I’m not sure, but my guess is it had some impact. Your Gran had a hemorrhagic stroke which can be caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure. From what Potts said, blood pressure can go up from stressful circumstances.”
“What am I going to do? How do I help Jason?”
“I have a lawyer on it already. Well, Pam does.” He cuddled her closer. “Sookie, you have more questions than we have answers right now. Can I convince you to nap or at least relax during the flight?” He moved to put her head on the crook of his neck and he started to rub her back. “You’ll likely want to stay awake to meet with doctors tomorrow.”
“I’m going to be able to stay with Gran at the hospital?”
“You’ll have guards, but yes, you can stay. I’ll rest at the farmhouse to be close.” He could feel her relax, he hadn’t guessed that she was concerned about that. To him it was simple, she needed to be at the hospital; it was his job to make it so. “But Sookie, I want you to promise me you’ll eat and nap when you can, and tomorrow night, you come back to the farmhouse to sleep – even if just for a few hours.”
“I can do that, especially since I didn’t think I’d be able to spend the day with Gran. She’s all alone.”
“Sookie, her guards are with her now.”
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Wait, Elvis?”
“She figured that out?” He chuckled, and so did Sookie while she nodded. “You can’t call him Elvis though, it’s Bubba. He can become upset and erratic if he’s reminded. It’s not Bubba at the hospital though; he stays in the shadows mostly. Indira is there now.”
“Will you tell me about him while we fly?”
“Only if you at least close your eyes for the story.”
She complied and he spoke in low tones while caressing her gently. It worked since she was asleep and got at least a short 20 minute nap in. Eric knew she would need it for the long night and day ahead.
A car met them at the airport; the driver was Bubba and Eric was happy that he’d been able to tell Sookie not to call him Elvis. Even through her grief, Sookie was his ever well mannered Southern Belle and she greeted Bubba warmly. The nerves he’d seen before her nap returned on the way to the hospital and Eric’s leg was almost bouncing from Sookie’s nervous energy.
They were greeted by Pam who guided them to Gran’s room. Dr. Ludwig was there as well and Eric was surprised that Pam thought to call her. Sookie ran to hold Gran’s hand while Eric took control of the updates. He turned to Ludwig. “What can you tell me?”
“The stroke is from a hemorrhage which hasn’t stopped yet”
“Will vampire blood do anything?” Eric asked.
“Yes, I believe so. It will repair the hemorrhage.”
“Can you help to handle this discreetly?”
“Sure, put Pam at the door.” He turned to Pam, but she was already there.
“I want to heal her.” Pam said.
“You don’t need . . .”
She cut him off. “I want to do it. She’s . . . Just let me do it.”
He nodded and took a post at the door with Indira.
Sookie looked up from her Gran to see Ludwig taking blood from Pam. “What’s happening?”
Ludwig explained. “Sookie, the bleeding in her brain hasn’t stopped. Pam has volunteered to heal your Gran.”
Sookie reached up to Pam to grasp her hand. “Thank you Pam. I’m grateful.”
“Sookie,” Ludwig continued. “It won’t return her to normal; it will stop the continuation of damage. After she’s woken, we can discuss if she wants more to help with the rehabilitation.”
“I understand. Are you working as her doctor?”
“Just consulting. We’ll meet Gran’s doctor in the morning.”
Ludwig took a vial of blood from Pam and added it slowly to the IV tube. She monitored the bleed with a portable MRI and discontinued adding Pam’s blood to the IV as soon as the brain bleed stopped.
Sookie held vigil all through the night by her Gran’s side with Pam by Sookie’s side. Eric, meanwhile, worked with Desmond to secure a trial lawyer for Jason and worked to get him released on bail. When dawn approached and he knew he would not succeed before he had to rest, he left the situation with Desmond and Potts. Alcide arrived an hour before daybreak to serve as a guard for the day. He instructed him that Sookie needed to eat and nap some point during the day. She promised to comply again and he left for the farmhouse with Pam.
When they were secure in the light time room, Pam brought up the emails they received during the night. “What are you going to do?”
“We have to go Pam. I’ll need to leave right after I see Gran at the hospital. At least my time off was registered, so I have some buffer tomorrow night since they believe I still need to return to Shreveport from Dallas.”
“Sookie’s going to freak out.”
“I know, but I decided to wait to tell her in the hopes that Gran will improve during the day.”
“We don’t need to pack at least; we can go to the hospital right away and then leave from there.”
“Fucking Soldiers of the Light. I can’t believe we need to meet on this situation again already. At least I can file her asset paperwork which will be a relief. Desmond also believes now is the time to file the appeal for Sookie’s release.”
“Speaking of release, what about Jason?”
“Potts is going to stay at the station tomorrow with the trial lawyer until he’s released. They don’t have anything concrete – just his association with the women.”
“What a cluster.”
“Gran, are you awake?” She could see a tiny nod from her Gran. “Alcide, get someone!” She screamed towards her guard and friend. “Gran, I’ve . . . I’ve been so worried.” Sookie choked out a sob when she felt Gran squeeze her hand slightly.
A nurse came rushing in to check her patient so Sookie moved out of the way to provide her room. She looked worriedly from the end of the bed and Alcide came to stand behind her. He simply put a hand on her shoulder, knowing anything further would only infuriate Northman since he could smell they had bonded. In the years he had worked for or with Eric, he had grown a healthy respect for him. Sookie also seemed happy with Eric and that was all he needed to ensure he and his pack would take their guard roles seriously. They waited for Gran’s doctor and Ludwig to join the nurse and he noticed them checking out Gran and had her moving her eyes and trying to talk. He could hear the woman speaking to Ludwig and he thought that was positive. A strange chair was brought in and they sat her up to try feeding her too. When she finished her examinations, Alcide saw something he rarely if ever saw: Ludwig smiled at Sookie. “Sookie, this is very encouraging. She can speak and not only can it be heard, it makes sense. She can swallow food and liquids, both eyes can track; she can smile and use all the muscles in her face. You need to realize that’s very hopeful.” She took a breath and Sookie knew the bad news was coming. “Her left leg and arm seem numb and will require further testing and likely rehabilitation, but Sookie, her brain function appears to be fully intact. That’s really the most important thing.”
She knelt and collapsed into Ludwig’s arms. Under other circumstances it would have been funny, but nobody said anything. “Sookie, your Gran is awake, you should pay attention to her, not your doctor.”
Sookie snorted out a laugh but rose to go to her Gran. “Gran. How are you?”
“Some parts are good.” She looked to her left. “Some need work.”
“We’ll take care of all those parts. I’m just happy you’re with me.”
Sookie stayed while some specialists from the stroke and rehab team evaluated and made plans for Gran. She was grateful that Dr. Ludwig remained for all the visits and helped clarify the next steps. Gran and the doctor had become friendly over the past few weeks so Gran was also happy to have her with them.
“Sookie?” Sookie turned to see Arlene, a waitress with whom she had worked at Merlotte’s standing in the doorway.
“Arlene!” She moved to hug her. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, we heard about your Gran, and since Jason’s in jail and you don’t come around anymore I was afraid nobody was here to sit with your Gran. I can see I was mistaken, I’m really glad to see you.” She turned to Alcide. “Is this the new man I heard about?”
“No, this is my friend Alcide. Eric will be back later tonight.”
“Tonight?” Her face fell. “It’s true then? You’re a fangbanger? Are you with that Vamp that moved into the Compton house?”
Seeing Sookie’s pain at this woman’s words Alcide stepped in. “Lady, I don’t know who you are, but you’re out of line. Sookie is in a committed relationship with someone, she’s no fangbanger.” He checked on Sookie’s reaction and when she didn’t get upset at his handling of the situation, he continued. “I’m sure you intended to help, and that’s appreciated, but clearly, your attitude is upsetting Sookie in an already difficult situation. I need to ask you to leave. NOW.” Arlene huffed and left. She really only wanted to check in on Adele and the visit did spiral a bit out of control but that couldn’t be helped. Finding out the rumors were true about Sookie was upsetting and she would find a way to get to her former co-worker to help her break up with the vamp. A good girl like Sookie had no business with vampires. Meanwhile Alcide was sorry he’d let in a seemingly innocent visitor that had really upset his charge, but he would just be more vigilant in the future. He also noted the mention of a vampire that moved into Bon Temps and would ask Northman about that later.
After a few hours of doctor meetings and time with Gran, Sookie started rubbing her eyes. Ludwig expressed concern and called Alcide over. “Alcide, can you take Sookie home for a few hours? I can see she’s in pain, the hospital environment can’t be good for her.”
“No, I want to stay with Gran.”
Gran spoke. “Sookie, come back after sunset with Eric. I need to rest myself and you know Peter is outside the door. He can come in and sit with me. With all these guards I feel like I have added dozens of grandbabies.” She chuckled.
At hearing his name (Were hearing being so good and all) Peter stepped into the room. He had been concerned for Gran and was pleased to see her. “Sookie, Gran is right. I’ll stay right here until you return with Northman. Go on.”
“I can’t nap. I should really find out about Jason.”
Alcide provided an update since Potts had been in contact with him all day. They were set to see the judge for bail at 2PM and Eric had provided for any amount that needed to be paid to get Jason out. He knew exactly what she was going to say next, he had predicted correctly of course. “I want to be at the hearing.”
“NO. If for no other reason than the fact that Northman will have my head for taking you there instead of the nap you promised him you would take.”
Ludwig had been going through her medical bag discretely, so Sookie was surprised by the pinch to her arm. When she turned to the doctor, Ludwig had an empty syringe in her hand. “She’ll go out quickly, get her in the car before you need to carry her out of the hospital to explain it.”
Alcide moved her out of the room so quickly, she couldn’t even yell at Ludwig for the needle, but she did hear her Gran laughing.
She heard voices as she started coming back to consciousness. “When will he be here?”
‘Jeez,’ Sookie thought. ‘I must have really slept long if Pam and Eric are already up and talking in the kitchen.’
She could hear Pam answer Eric. “He went right to the hospital; we’ll meet him there when Sookie is awake. Potts warned me, he’s consumed with anger right now.”
“Sookie’s awake. I’ll go see to her. I’ll send you a text to confirm tomorrow as we discussed.”
She waited for him to enter her room and gave him a small smile. “Hi.”
“How are you?”
“Groggy and a little mad.” He laughed at her. “So, you were told what that elf did to me?”
“I heard you needed it, so I approve.” He laughed again at her indignant face. “How about some chicken soup before we go to the hospital?” She started to speak and he cut her off. “You will eat before we go, and the soup is ready to be heated. Now, what was your answer?”
“FINE, soup it is you high handed jerk!”
He bit back his response knowing Sookie was still consumed with stress and just focused on the task at hand. “I’ll heat it while you wash up.”
“I really need a shower, but a quick wash will need to do.”
She finished her soup quickly; they locked the house and got into the car. Pam joined them to drive while Sookie and Eric were in the backseat. She noticed a pointed look between Pam and Eric then she felt apprehension from Eric. “What’s going on?”
“Sookie.” He took a hand. “Andre has ordered Pam and me to New Orleans for another Sheriff meeting on the Soldiers of the Light situation. I know I will be gone tonight and well into tomorrow night. I don’t know more about the plans at this point.”
“Fuck Eric. I need you here. Jason, Gran . . . it’s too much.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. In actuality, I should have left last night to be there at first dark tonight, but our planned get away gave me some wiggle room. I need to get you settled with Gran and Ivan who will be staying with you at the hospital; then we need to head to New Orleans.”
They had arrived at the hospital and Eric helped her from the car. Ivan was standing at the entrance, waiting for their arrival. “Good evening Ivan Brognack, you remember my bonded, Sookie Stackhouse?”
“Yes, Mistress, good evening.”
Sookie’s eyes went wide at the word mistress, but Eric sent her a warning through the bond and she remained quiet. “Ivan will stay outside the door to your Gran’s room and will take you home when you’re ready. He’ll need to stay at the farmhouse until I return. Thalia is at Fangtasia filling in for Pam and me.” She looked to protest and he said. “This is nonnegotiable, Sookie. You need to be guarded at night with a vampire, Weres during the day.”
Eric, Pam and Sookie entered Gran’s room and Sookie smiled seeing that Jason was in the room. “Jason, you’re out!”
He moved to hug his sister then he reached for Eric’s hand. “Eric, I’m grateful for your help in getting me released. Your lawyers kicked butt.”
Eric took Jason’s hand and accepted his thanks, surprising Sookie and Pam. Pam had already moved to Gran’s side to squeeze her hand. “I’m glad to see you awake Gran. I was worried.”
“I’ve got a lot more work to do here Pam, I’m not going anywhere.” She called to Sookie. “Sookie, we were so busy with doctors today, come here so I can see that ring.”
Pam’s eyes were wide since she hadn’t seen the ring or even knew about it yet. She coo’d with Gran and Potts when Sookie held out her hand and she gave Eric a nod of approval.
Jason was quite curious, “What’s that fer?” He looked between Eric and Sookie. “Y’all got engaged?”
Sookie looked to Eric to explain. A blood bond was not something that she wanted to explain to Jason. Eric took the lead. “In a way Jason, yes. The US doesn’t recognize it yet, but that’s the intent.”
“Ya didn’t ask me first.”
Gran replied. “No Jason, he asked me.” Pam, Sookie and Jason all yelled ‘what’ at the same time. Gran just chuckled. “I’m the matriarch of the family, he asked me and I gave my blessing.”
Eric could feel the love coming from Sookie and the amusement from Pam. Jason just looked constipated, like he wanted to say something but nothing would come out. Unfortunately, he needed to get going as much as he wanted to stay. “Sookie, Pam and I need to head out.”
“I understand. Text me when you can.” She walked over to hug him goodbye and whispered. “I love you.”
He shocked her by responding “I love you too” out loud and in public. He was a bit louder and added. “Stay with your guards. I don’t trust the meeting invitation and Alcide informed me there is a new vampire in Bon Temps that HAS NOT reported to me yet.”
“That’s why Thalia’s at Fangtasia?” He nodded. “In case he reports in?”
“Yes, that’s why you MUST stay with Ivan; he’s old enough to fight if needed.”
“I get it, I do.”
Pam sped to New Orleans as she did the last time, enabling them to make the trip in only 3 hours; Eric worked as he could on his Blackberry. He had updates from Cataliades about Jason’s legal troubles; luckily they didn’t have any physical evidence on Jason. There was an old recording of Jason and Maudette having sex, but that only proved a relationship from last summer. Dawn’s apartment had Jason’s fingerprints, but since he had moved her boxes in just a few weeks ago, that was easily explained. Desmond was not worried, so Eric wasn’t either. He texted Sookie a summary. He also had information from Indira on her investigation of the new Bon Temps vampire: Bill Compton. He cursed and Pam inquired about this mood. “The new vampire is Bill Compton.”
“From the palace?”
“That’s not a coincidence.”
“No, it’s not. Guess when he arrived?” She looked at him blankly. “The extra evening I needed to spend in New Orleans the last time we were summoned.”
“Again, not a coincidence.”
“I’m calling Ivan now.”
“When are you registering Sookie as your bonded asset?”
“As soon as Cataliades arrives and we have a moment outside the Sheriff meetings.”
They stopped at Eric’s New Orleans home so Pam could change and she noted to add some suits to the chamber in Bon Temps should something similar to this occur again. Once at the palace, they were ushered into a room where the Sheriff meeting had already started. Each area was providing an update, and Eric seamlessly provided his. Even with being out of town for a few nights, he was further ahead than any of the other Sheriff’s in his captures and research. The Queen announced she had another meeting so they ended the meeting with the typical palace ceremony and agreed to meet at midnight the next night as Andre had some plans for earlier in the evening that could not be changed. Eric suspicions grew.
While he waited to see if Catiliades would be arriving soon, he chatted with Rasul. “Rasul, how is your Cynthia?”
He noticed a brief second of pain on Rasul’s face before he steeled himself. “We have parted ways.”
“Were you bonded?”
“No, thankfully or we would still be connected even though she wanted to move on.”
“May I ask what happened?”
“A few of her friends are married and have babies now, two others just got engaged and were planning weddings, you know – human weddings.”
“Did she not know the limits to your relationship before you made her a companion? You also could have a family via insemination or adoption. Did she not consider that?”
“She understood being a vampire’s companion; it wasn’t until those around her started living through some of those limits that she realized she was settling for me. She also said she wanted a ‘normal family’ by birth.” He shook his head a bit, a huge emotional show for a vampire; then he continued. “But it matters not now, as I said, she’s moved on and I moved back into the palace.”
Eric only nodded at Rasul’s comments. As vampires, he certainly wasn’t going to get any further into the relationship or the possible emotions. As it is, he asked far too much about the situation than would be normal. He had to admit, Cynthia’s change of heart worried him. ‘Would Sookie do the same thing? She was so sad about Theresa and her wanting a baby. Would she actually leave me?’ The thought caused him a pang in his chest, but he ignored it and called for Pam.
“Pam, unfortunately, Cataliades had not yet arrived, so I can’t meet with the Queen about the asset contract. Let’s go to my home for the rest of the night.” Pam noted he was grumpy and she couldn’t blame them. He needed to leave Sookie when she wanted him near so he could attend about 30 minutes of a sheriff meeting. On top of that, she had no idea the effect the conversation with Rasul had on Eric. When they arrived at the New Orleans home, he went to his office so she suspected he was going to call Sookie.
“Ivan, I need you to be extra vigilant. You can bring in Indira if needed.”
“I have this covered. You have Indira investigating the murder now, right?”
“Yes, she is working with the local human sheriff since the girls both had fang marks. I need to keep this contained.”
“I don’t need Indira, this Bill Compton is an infant, if he’s going to try something; he will fail.”
“He better fail. But be ready for anything. Remember, Bubba is in the woods if you need him.”
“Check in if you see or hear anything.”
He hung up and called Sookie. “Hello min älskade.”
“Hi there. How was your trip?
“Pam drove, the trip was very fast.”
“You know you drive just as fast. Hey! Thanks for the text about Jason, which seems like good news.”
“It is, and I have Indira working with your sheriff Bud as well.”
“Who is with Gran?”
“I have Weres with her at the hospital. How is she?”
“She’s going to need rehab to walk easily again and use her left arm, but otherwise, she’s doing really well. Thanks for calling Dr. Ludwig, she was a great help translating the medical terms for us and pushing our wants.”
“That was all Pam; she thought of it and called her while we were flying.”
He wondered if he should tell her about his concerns and decided it was necessary for her to understand the threat while he was away. “Sookie, you need to be aware of some things I have learned while we traveled to New Orleans.”
“This is one of those, I’m not going to like it discussions, right?”
“Yes. . . . Sookie, that new vampire that moved into Bon Temps?”
“Yeah, you told me to stay with my guards because of him.”
“Well, I learned more. His name is Bill Compton and he moved into the house up the hill from yours.”
“Jesse Compton’s house? Huh, that’s the guy that died when you went to that Christmas party at the Queen’s – shit that timing is convenient.” Eric recalled that the Bert’s were missing at the same time. Now he was thinking over whether they had killed this Jesse Compton when Sookie broke him out of his contemplation. “Do you know anything about this vampire?”
“I do. Up until he moved; he was part of Sophie-Anne’s court. He also arrived in Bon Temps the night I was asked to stay at the palace even though the other sheriff’s had been dismissed.”
His little strategist did not fail again. “That’s not coincidence.”
“No min kära, it’s not. Also, when he died, two key vampires were missing from the palace. Do you know what killed him?”
“I’ll investigate, but until I do, Sookie . . .”
She interrupted, knowing what he was going to say. “I’ll be perfect. I won’t go off the property without my guards – day or night.”
“That’s why I told you.” He wanted to change topics and take her mind off any threats so she could sleep. “Now, how do you feel about phone sex?”
“ERIC! I’m too tired for anything now.”
“I know, I can feel it.”
“It’s weird; I can feel you too all the way from here. Did I tell you I can feel a buzz during the day, for lack of a better word, it’s where you would be in my head, only instead of emotions, it’s just a buzz.”
“It’s different for me because you dream. I sometimes get that buzz, but if you’re actively dreaming and having an emotional response, I can feel that too. But I can still tell if you are dreaming or awake and experiencing the emotion.”
“The bond is like a new toy to play with.”
“I’d rather play with you.”
The continued to talk until Desmond had arrived at Eric’s to plan their meeting. He didn’t tell her about the meeting with the Queen to designate her as his asset. She needed to sleep and she already had too many stressors to deal with at the moment. “I need to go; I will leave you some texts for tomorrow, but you need to sleep.”
I do need to sleep. I’ll text you during the day for when you rise. She could feel he was stressed through the bond so she decided to help as best she could. “Good night cuddle bear.” She got the laugh she expected before he wished her goodnight.
Alcide met Sookie when she woke late in the morning and drove her to the hospital. There, the day progressed pretty much the same as the day before. Some rehab for Gran, more tests and some time with Dr. Ludwig to ensure they were getting the information they needed and their requests and needs met by the hospital staff. Dr. Ludwig didn’t have privileges at the hospital, but she seemed to have pull and nobody questioned her demands. Since Sookie was so grateful to Ludwig for her help, she kept her anger about the sleeping shot contained for the visit. In the late afternoon, Sookie began to tire and Gran insisted that Alcide take her home for the night. She tried to fight but a look from Gran cut her off and caused Alcide to laugh.
“What?” She asked as they walked out of the hospital.
“I love that your Gran can cut YOU off with a look, since you usually cut all of US off with that same look.”
“Keep it up, fido.”
“Let’s just get you home. I have a date with Debbie tonight after Ivan relieves me.”
“I’m so sorry to be such a bother. What about your work?”
“I have plenty of coverage at work, though tomorrow I have some meetings and you will be with Potts and Peter at the hospital.”
They stopped for take out on the way home and it was just sunset when they arrived. Sookie said goodnight to Alcide as Ivan walked out of the house to take his post. As she ate her dinner she sent text updates to Eric about her day. He called her while they drove to the palace. “Min älskade, how are you this evening?”
“Ready for a nap. What’s your schedule for the night?”
“I’m meeting your Uncle Des and the Queen to file your asset papers.” He felt her panic right away. “Sookie, this is to protect you. You’re already my companion. We are bonded. The Queen will respect this.”
“How can you be sure?”
“Sookie, if anything happens, I will fight for you. Please relax.”
“I don’t think that’s possible. Call me as soon as you can, or at least text me.”
“I will. We are almost at the garage, I must go; I don’t want to be on the phone with you while I park. You have your nap and I’ll try to reach you later.”
“Ok, later – you promise?”
They arrived and Eric greeted Desmond in the waiting area. Pam was planning to visit the donor room before the general meeting started. The Queen and two of her children met Eric and Desmond in a small conference room and after his greeting, Eric set out his agenda for the meeting. “Good evening your Majesty. Where is Andre tonight?”
She smiled. “He promised me a surprise. He was like a child at Christmas he was so giddy, so I allowed his errand to hold off our Sheriff meeting.”
“I can’t picture a giddy Andre, so I’ll just take your word for it.” She nodded. “Your Majesty, I have a request to file a personal asset tonight and a request related to a crime in my area.”
“I have the contract here for Sookie Stackhouse . . .”
“Your asset is Sookie Stackhouse?”
“Yes, she is my bonded companion.”
“Yes your Majesty.”
She paused for a moment then here eyes widened. “You’re bonded to your landscaper?”
Now he was nervous. “You seem to know Miss Stackhouse, may I ask how?”
“Her cousin is my bonded.”
Now it was Eric’s turn. “HADLEY?!”
“Yes.” Sophie-Anne chuckled. “Quite a coincidence.”
“Yes. Sookie and her family are heartbroken over Hadley’s disappearance.”
“You know Linda? Adele?”
“I’m sorry to report that Linda passed away from cancer. Adele is very much a part of Sookie’s life though she just suffered a stroke. Hadley disappeared while addicted to drugs some time ago.”
“Hadley will be upset about her mother. I found Hadley while she was on drugs. With rehab, she no longer does any drugs. In fact, she’s quite healthy. How is Adele fairing after the stroke?”
“Unfortunately, it just happened. I needed to leave Sookie only 24 hours after the stroke to be here. All we know so far is that she will need rehab for her left arm and leg.”
“Let’s get your paperwork completed then, so you can get home.”
“Yes, after the Sheriff’s meeting.”
“No, Adele and your Sookie are more important.” He almost fell over from that shock. “Your Majesty is most gracious.”
“Would it be possible for Pam to report on your area, or is she also as attached to the family?” Eric looked up with a bit of shock and wondered if his attachment showed that easily. “Eric, I’m quite attached to my Hadley. I can the same in your face when you speak about your Sookie.”
He nodded his acknowledgement to her comments before answering about Pam. “She certainly can report for me, but I won’t lie, the attachment is there as well. Adele has become Gran to her. When the brain bleed was still continuing, Pam donated her blood to stop it.”
“Very well, leave your report with me and I’ll handle it.” Again, he was in shock. She turned to the attorney. “You have the contract?”
He presented the contract and she reviewed it. “Miss Stackhouse’s ability will be available to me I presume?”
“Yes your Majesty. I’ve noted the rates and other stipulations for that on page 4.”
“Yes, and as your bonded, you have ensured you would travel with her at all times.” He nodded. “Tell me more about the telepathy. How does it work?”
“She can hear humans, individually, in groups and at a good distance. The telepathy is always ‘on’ meaning she must build shields in her mind to stop it. Vampires provide relief for her; the theory being that we have no brain waves. Daemons are also quiet from words, but she can sense their emotions. Weres are tricky, though she’s noticed an improvement. We aren’t sure it it’s my blood or the increased exposure to them.”
“Very interesting.” She read more. “The protection section includes her family and any offspring. Something to share?”
“No your majesty. It’s just a precaution. Something learned related to a recent protection order.”
“Sophie-Anne nodded and continued to review the contract details and finally declared. “I agree to the contract and her rate schedule for work within Louisiana. You own Miss Stackhouse and any vampires wishing to use her talents must work through you.” She turned to Cataliades. “I want a stipulation that all out of state work must be approved by my office.” The daemon revised and printed the new contract. Sophie-Anne reviewed the addition, signed it immediately and then applied her royal stamp. Eric breathed a sigh of relief. It was done, Sophie-Anne was not upset about the bonding and Sookie was his protected asset.
“And your next contract item?”
“The next is a stay of punishment if you will.” Sophie-Anne just raised her eyebrows in question. “It too is for Sookie.”
“You have my curiosity.”
“The drainers that tried to capture me – from a few weeks ago?” She nodded. “Well, I had additional help in my escape. Sookie was taken by the drainers first and when I had been subdued by a silver net, she stabbed one and killed him.”
“What does this have to do with a crime in your area?”
“Sookie is currently my prisoner for life for a crime her brother committed against a vampire: A kidnapping and draining.”
“This sounds like fang soap opera. Why is she serving for her brother?”
“Sookie willingly offered herself in exchange for her brother since Jason’s girlfriend was expecting a baby”
“Interesting, and you claim she saved her life.”
“I claim she acted to take down one of the drainers. I am fully aware that my child was on the way and the drainers would not have been successful. However, I also claim that Sookie was unaware of that fact and her act was intended to save my life.”
“When did you take Sookie as a prisoner?”
Now she was angry. “You’ve had a telepath available to you since October and you kept it from me!?”
“She has been with me since October, but she kept her telepathy hidden until this drainer issue occurred.”
“Hidden from you?”
“She’s been in almost complete seclusion in my home. She can’t read daemons or vampires, so the opportunity for her to read minds was minimal.”
She stared at Eric trying to read HIS mind to ensure he was telling the truth, and after a few moments he was satisfied. “Very well. Even without the killing of the drainer, I agree with the stay of punishment. She will remain your asset, of course, but the requirement of imprisonment is removed. I take it she will continue to have guards for her protection?”
“Of course your M . . .” Before he finished his sentence, he was overcome with panic. So much panic, he couldn’t keep his control.
“It’s Sookie. Something is wrong.”
Sophie-Anne turned to her vampire children in the room. “Sigebert, find Pam and bring her here. Wybert, call your brother Andre, I want to know what he’s up to.” She had a bad feeling. She looked at Eric after her children had left the room. He was on his phone. She noticed the daemon was also on the phone.
“What did you see? …………………. How long ago was that? ……………… Work with Indira and report back when you can. ………….. No Bubba, you did the right thing, you would have been killed if you approached them. ……………… I’m sure, because now you’re able to report what you saw and we can follow-up.” He hung up.
“She was taken by two vampires. Her guard, Ivan, was beheaded by a female vampire. Based on the description, I would say it was Bill Compton and his maker. Lorena was older than Ivan and therefore faster to take him out. Ivan was distracted by a human intruder on the property so Lorena was able to take his head. Bubba says Ivan clearly stated she was bonded to me. Indira was notified by the local human sheriff and is already giving chase with their assistance.”
He noticed Sophie-Anne pale even further. “Your Majesty?”
“Bill left the palace stating he wanted to mainstream in his former human home. His descendant just recently passed away and the home deferred to Bill.”
“That home is up the hill from the Stackhouse residence. Is there a reason Bill would want Sookie?”
“Andre and I were aware she was special from Hadley. I will admit we wanted to pursue her, but we didn’t know she was your companion or your bonded. Though Andre should be aware since he processes those contracts.”
“Something to add?”
“Rasul processes those contra . . .” He was cut off again by another burst of terror from Sookie, then nothing.
“I hope she’s only knocked out, the bond is empty.”
Cataliades added, “I’ve called my nieces, they are both are formidable fighters and are at your disposal.”
Eric responded first. “Thank you Desmond. Give the contact information to Pam when she arrives.”
The Queen changed the orders. “Desmond, have your nieces come to the palace. I want them here and ready if they are needed.”
Pam arrived in a panic and Eric had calmed enough to fill her in. Just as he was finishing, Wybert returned stating he could not raise Andre on the phone. Sophie-Anne just sighed. “He’s fucking then; only time he won’t answer his phone.” She paused for a moment and focused. “Yes, fucking.” She cursed Andre in her head. ‘At least he didn’t kidnap her personally, but I think he was involved.’
Eric’s phone rang. “Northman. ……… Understood. …………. Yes if you can.”
“They took her on a private plane. Indira is going to try and get the flight plan. She already has the plane information.”
Pam offered, “I just called Alcide; he has resources if we need him. He’s going to the farmhouse to find anything helpful. Potts is going to meet him there; they will coordinate security for Gran and Jason as needed.”
“Thank you Pam.” He turned to Sophie-Anne. “If the other Sheriffs are here, perhaps we should hold the meeting, Pam can represent Area 5.”
“They’re all here; I saw them in the donor room.”
“Very well, Eric I’ll leave you and Desmond here with Wybert and Sigebert at your disposal.”
“Thank you your Majesty.”
Meanwhile in Bon Temps:
Sookie had just finished her shower and changed into pajamas when she heard a commotion outside. Moving to the front door, she peeked out of her curtains and saw Ivan fighting with someone in the yard. The man being subdued by Ivan was yelling at Sookie. “WHORE of Satan. You should die like the others.”
She listened to his head for a few moments and realized he was the killer; she yelled to Ivan. “Take him to the police. This can prove Jason’s innocence. I’ll call them with details.”
“No, call the sheriff and have them come here to pick him up.”
“I don’t want him to get away.”
She called for Bud and he told Sookie he would send a car to the farmhouse. She waited on the porch while Ivan held a snarling Rene towards the end of the driveway. She was so preoccupied listening into Rene; she didn’t hear the other movement from the cemetery. The next few actions occurred before Sookie could even realize what was happening. She was attacked from the side by a vampire; the breath knocked out of her. When she got her bearings, she saw it was a smaller dark haired vampire and she tried to speak, but before she could finish her sentence about being bonded, she was gagged by a dark haired female vampire. She had no chance to further inform him that she was bonded to Eric. Ivan tried to approach the vampire, but was told that they were under orders from the palace to take the woman. When Ivan tried to protest again and tell them Sookie was bonded, the dark female descended on him and sliced off his head with a sword Sookie hadn’t seen yet. Taking the opportunity he’d been given, Rene ran from the driveway and down the street. Sookie had been struggling while being held by the male, but she stopped when the female returned. “Your head will be next if you don’t calm yourself.”
With no other option, she did the only thing she could: she flooded the bond with panic. She could feel him respond and she relaxed remembering that he could find her anywhere. All she needed to do was endure until he got to her. “I’ll get the car.” the female said and she ran off towards the cemetery.
That left her with the male who had finished tying her up and was now touching her face. “Oh my Sookeh, you sure are a darling little thing, and you smell sweet too. Maybe my maker will let me enjoy you while we head to New Orleans.”
Sookie’s eyes widened. She realized she’d never had anyone attempt to rape her as an adult, and now this was the third time it was a possibility in just a few short months. The only hope she had was he mentioned they were headed to New Orleans. If that was true, it was closer to Eric. She decided she could survive until Eric found her. That’s what she needed to do: Survive. The car pulled up and the male lifted her into the backseat; then he got in with her. Her panic filled the bond and he sent more love, she figured he was trying to calm her. She heard Detective Andy scream at the two vampires but the male shut the door and they just drove off. She hoped Andy would follow or send Indira to help.
The female ordered the man to call the plane and tell them they were on their way. ‘SHIT, a plane ride? They’d be able to do more to me on a plane.’
The drive wasn’t long and they were at a private airfield. After they stopped, the female passed something over the backseat. Sookie caught a glimpse of a cloth and immediately thought of the chloroform she used to subdue the guard at Eric’s warehouse a few months ago. The male placed the cloth over her head and she realized she’d just been given them same treatment right before she blacked out.