Chapter 46 – Everybody’s a Critic

Chapter 46 – Everybody’s a Critic

Sookie and her guards spent the day in her large suite, even picking up food and skipping room service.  They decided going outside was too great a risk.  Glad, Diantha and Peter tried to distract Sookie from her presentation for a while and gave up, or rather gave in.  “Sookie,” Peter started, “why don’t you just practice the presentation for us.  You’re clearly not going to stop worrying about it, so we should just use this time to ensure you are as ready as can be.”

Being on edge from her surroundings, the scuttle at the Grand Hall last night, and her general nervousness caused her to take the comments in the wrong way.  “You don’t think I am ready?”

He groaned, “NO Sookie.  That’s not what I meant at all.”

“Hesjustryingtohelpyou.”  Glad offered.

“Sookie,” Peter bravely trying again, “we all think you are beyond ready, but since you won’t play a game or watch a moving with us, I’m just giving in to your worry.  I think we should just forget about the presentation, the one you are CLEARLY READY TO GIVE, but I also won’t have you sit there chewing on your nails.  Especially when I can’t take you for a manicure.”

That Peter was concerned about her nails or that he even knew what a manicure was caused Sookie to chuckle, which turned into a laugh, and eventually had her in hysterics.  The guards all looked at one another:  she had clearly gone mad at this point, but it was better than worried so they just laughed at her in while she was having trouble breathing she was laughing so hard.  After she finally calmed down she simply said, “OK, let’s watch a movie.”  Then plopped herself on the couch between the two dae girls and thanked them all for their encouragement.

After the movie, Sookie went to be with Eric when he rose.  They wouldn’t have much time since they needed to get ready, but she needed to connect with him a bit.  They’d put off the difficult discussion about the reaction she had to the welcome packets, and she knew they needed to discuss it before heading back to the Summit.

“Good evening Sookie.  How are you?”

Having already risen, he was sitting on the edge of the bed and she moved to stand between his legs.  His arms automatically reached around her and he started sniffing into her cleavage.  “I’m good.  I really missed you today.  I’m nervous about tonight.  Are you evening listening while you have your nose attached to its favorite place?”

He chuckled at her and took a final inhale before looking up.  “I always listen to you.  You will be fine.  I know you’re prepared, well, WE are prepared.  I do want to discuss . . .“

“I think I already know.  It’s about when I saw the packets yesterday.”  He nodded.  “I’m sorry.  I know you, Pam, Thalia – hell everyone tried to warn me how different Felipe is – I was just shocked.”

“I could feel your shock and disgust.  I share the disgust with you.  I didn’t bring it up for an apology.  I think us telling you about Felipe could never really get you prepared.  There were some others in the lobby, but we were off to the side, and you were able to quiet when I asked for that – which I did hate doing. . . :”

She interrupted him.  “NO!  You were right to send me the signal for quiet.  It grounded me; you need to help me through vampire shit like this.”  He chuckled at her wording.  “Just like sometimes I need to remind you about how human families and friends interact.  Well, not so much anymore, but you know what I mean.”

“I do.  In a way I’m glad it happened.  If you were going to be shocked, it was best to do it with fewer vampires around than say, a full welcome ball with everyone around.”

“I agree.  It also brought me a bit back to reality and I feel almost prepared for whatever anyone throws at me.”

“And they will.  After the hard reality of what happened when we tried to get into the reception last night, I believe you will be prodded for reactions throughout the Summit.”

“And you don’t need to ‘save me’ or defend me.  That will make you look bad.  I’m a big girl, I can handle taunts.  Just stop me like you did if I speak out of turn.”

“You are remarkable woman Sookie.”

“I’m your remarkable woman.”

“Don’t say things like that when we don’t have time for a claiming.”

“There will be time later my Viking.  Maybe I’ll let you chase me back to the room.”

His cock rose at her comments so she pulled away from him to get ready but he held tight and whispered.  “ Ah . . . Ah . . . Ahhh, I didn’t get to kiss Roo or Mommy good evening yet.”

“Oh my, we don’t want to break that rule.  HEY!  Maybe we should get a pregnancy rule book just like the dating one we always wanted.”

“I think we did fine without the dating book.  We passed with flying colors and moved onto marriage and now parenthood.”

“I guess you’re right.  We’ll continue to be rebels.  Kiss away.”

As if he needed permission.  He had already started to pull down the front of her yoga pants to speak to Roo.  Sookie loved this part of the day.  Eric was his most sappy when he rose and spoke to Roo, and tonight he didn’t fail to turn her insides to goo.  “Hello my baby.  It’s Daddy with your kisses.  Tonight Mommy and Daddy have to work so you’ll need to be extra good.  When it’s all over I’ll give you extra kisses as a reward.  Mommy also promised a chase for Daddy and you know how much he loves those.  You’ll definitely be rocked to sleep my little one.”  He had a leer on his face thinking about the chase by the time he turned his attention to Sookie and gave her a kiss that was full of promise.  “Later my Sookie.”

“You’re on my Viking.”

A short while later, Eric and Sookie were finished dressing and leaving their bedroom.  “You know,” he fingered the chain accents on her suit, “These chains remind me of the delicate chains on the baby doll you wore the first time. . . “

“Stop right there!  We are walking to the presentation; don’t get me thinking about that – I need my head in the right place for this.”

“Where do you want to give me head?  What place?”

“You, you’re being bad again.”

“I try.”

They emerged from their room with their guards and joined Alcide heading to Torre Agbar for their presentation when Eric’s phone rang:  It was Desmond and he wasted no time on pleasantries.  “Peter Threadgill is dead.”

“How?”

“I don’t believe this, but it was made to appear that Sophie-Anne did it after he went to his day rest.  She was found with his remains.”

“Impossible, even if she wanted to do it, she wouldn’t be that stupid.”

“I know, but tonight’s already planned trials are being moved to the backburner.  The other monarch’s have requested she be tried here, tonight.”

“What do you need?”

“I’ll call you after I meet with Sophie-Anne.  We may need Sookie.”

“I’ll speak to her.”

Sookie had heard snippets but he filled her in as well as the rest of the group walking with them on their way to the presentation.  Of course, they were met with opposition several times:  guards at various parts of the hotel tried to refuse Sookie and Alcide entry to the presentation rooms.  First they were stopped in the lobby were some fool offered Eric a collar and leash for his pet since she was unrestrained, the second block was when they tried to exit the elevator at Floor 2, then again at the entrance to the hallway were the presentations where scheduled and finally at the door to their own presentation room.  Each time Eric informed the guard that HIS WIFE was a scheduled presenter and that Alcide as a Packmaster had been invited to attend since the session was regarding Were and Vampire relations.  Each time the guards refused them entry he patiently had them review the agenda themselves and still each time, they had to place a call to Victor before allowing them to pass.  Pam and Thalia were the most frustrated on Sookie and Alcide’s behalf, but they all focused on appearing calm as they’d agreed to in all their Summit planning.

Victor was positively giddy.  He and Felipe had come up with a plan to push the telepath and her master to the brink of frustration before their session even started.  Now, his plant in the session only needed to get Sookie to speak out at him and they would be able to cause further trouble for the bondeds.  Shaking his head at his problems, Victor recalled his concerns from the past day:  None of his spies had seen the telepath and the cameras he had placed in their suite showed they never returned there for the day.  It appeared that they were hidden somewhere in Vegas.    ‘Yes, the telepath will be ours.  He won’t be able to refuse a punishment if she blatantly speaks out against a vampire at the sessions.  I will enjoy watching her cry out from a whipping.  It will just be a precursor to her life at court.’  Victor truly thought this plan would help Felipe get over his anger from the Welcome Reception ‘incident’ and the lost telepath for the day.  He congratulated himself once again for the idea, and went to wait in an empty session room near Northman’s.

Pam and Thalia helped Sookie and Eric set up for their presentation and about 15 minutes before the designated start time, the session room started to fill.  Sookie was pleased to see her friends attend as a show of support:  Stan, Russell, Benito and Bart were there.  Of course, Papa was up at the podium offering her final words of encouragement which she gladly accepted.  At 5 minutes after the session was due to begin, the session monitor stepped in to explain a problem:  There was still a line of vampires in the hall and their room was almost to capacity.  The staff from the hotel had been called to move the folding panel partitions separating their room from the next.  The vampire in that room was moved down the hall since only 4 attendees were present for her session.  Word that Sookie, a human, was presenting had gotten out and the vampires were all curious.  Finally, 20 minutes late Sookie and Eric started presenting to a standing room only crowd.  Little did they know there was a trouble maker planted in the front row prepared to taunt Sookie to the point of losing her cool and speaking out.

The goading started right after Eric introduced her as his wife.  “Vampire/Human marriages are not recognized in Nevada Northman.”

“We are here as representatives of the Summit which has no state jurisdiction.  Now, if we can move on.”  He motioned to Sookie again.  “My WIFE will begin by reviewing the recent witch problems from Arkansas and Louisiana as our case study.”

“You will actually allow her to speak?”

“Ignore him Sookie, please begin.”

“PLEASE?  You just said PLEASE to a human.”

Drawing a breath and planting a smile on her face, Sookie began with Hallow and her plans.  About 3 slides into her presentation, he started again.  “With my telepathy, I was able to hear. . .”

“You should be held captive and made available for all states as an advantage over humans with your mind trick.  Your ability should not be available to only one vampire.”

Eric moved to join her at the podium and she put her hand up to stop him indicating she could handle the heckler.  Continuing to address the group in general not her critic, she continued.  “As I was saying, I was able to hear Hallow’s plans and we called in our local Packmaster to plan a strategy.”

“YOU planned strategy?  You are nothing but a blood bag, a pathetic human with one trick that would enable vampires to fully take over the human population.  That’s your only worth.”

Fangs dropped in the room directed at the heckler in the front row.  He had no idea how many friends Sookie had in the room, but he was about to find out.  They were all proud of Sookie’s ability to ignore him as she continued on.  They remained vigil but left her to handle the situation, which was the plan and so far she was doing beautifully.  “We worked together with the local Weres, witches and Daemons to identify the location of the witches then planned the attack.”

“Your master is weak to need the assistance of such other species.  He should be ashamed of himself; a vampire of his age and station belittling himself by working with animals and hags.”

She was seething, the waves of calm Eric was sending not making a dent in her feelings, but on the outside she still appeared composed as she finally addressed him directly.  She was also pleased that Eric had listened to her request earlier and he was not jumping in to ‘save her’.  This vampire was obviously trying to get her to yell at him or have some other extreme reaction.  Instead, she took a breath and responded in a calm manner for the benefit of all her other attendees.  “Sir, I apologize if my content is not what you were expecting.  I do have quite a bit more to cover and in case the other attendees are interested in the presentation I have to ask you to refrain from making any additional comments so I can be sure to get through everything for the benefit of others.”

Inwardly, the plant was quite impressed by the human in front of him who chose not to react with emotion.  However, he’d been charged with getting her to break a human against vampire rule and while her response was polite, he needed to mold it to his agenda.  “You dare to speak directly to me without permission from your master?”  He pointed to Eric as he spoke.  “I’ll see her whipped for this.”  He pulled out his phone to text Victor.

Eric moved to Sookie’s side, assuring her she’d done nothing wrong while they waited for the explosion.  It came by way of Victor and only a moment later.  “NORTHMAN!  I understand your human is causing problems.  We’ll go to the third floor to deal with this.”

“It is this vampire,” Eric pointed to the troublemaker, “who disrupted our session and has upset my wife to the point that she will not continue.”

“YOU accuse a vampire of doing wrong against a human?”  Victor shook his head and made almost a tut tut noise.  Then he turned to look over his shoulder.  “Guards!”  When they entered he turned to Sookie and ordered her, “Come now Miss Stackhouse, we’ll be taking you to the 3rd floor.”

“OVER YOUR DEAD BODY!”  While she expected that from Eric, she was surprised to hear the words coming from Thalia’s mouth.  She looked on in shock as Thalia moved to stand in front of Victor first; then Godric, Stan, Russell, Benito, Bart, Pam and Alcide all took up flanking positions around her, essentially creating a wall between Victor and Sookie.  Sookie herself was starting to drift into nothingness.  Her panic over the situation was taking control of her mind and Eric could feel her slipping away while he stood trying to hold her up.  She had to know that he would kill before he let anyone harm her, but her fear was in control.  His secondary concern was the baby.  This stress couldn’t be good.  They had to get out of here, and quickly.

A voice from behind Victor boomed, “ENOUGH!”  Victor’s eyes grew wide at the recognition of the voice and Eric smirked.  “Madden, explain.”

The vampires Victor had been facing were now dropped to their knees and he slowly turned and mimicked the action.  “Your Grace, welcome to Las Vegas.”

“All rise.”  She waited for the group to get on their feet again.  “As I requested Madden, explain.”

“In Felipe and Freyda’s kingdoms, humans are not permitted in vampire functions.  They are kept separate except for certain hours at court each night.”  He turned and pointed to Sookie.  “An exception was made for Miss Stackhouse. . .”

“Mrs. Northman.”  She corrected, “I was the celebrant at their Pledging Victor, but you may go on.”

As the Ancient Pythoness spoke, his eyes narrowed in anger for just a brief moment before he adjusted his features.  “An exception was made for Mrs. Northman since she had somehow been selected to present at this year’s Summit.  Unfortunately, that exception has proven that we cannot allow such an occurrence in the future since she insulted and spoke out against a vampire in this room.”

The Ancient Pythoness paused for a moment to consider her next actions.  Finally she spoke.  “Let us split what you said into two parts, shall we?”  Given who she was, Victor could do nothing but nod his head yes.  “First, as part of the contract Felipe signed for this Summit, there was language that overrides such state by state policies.  Your policies of separating vampires and non vampires from Summit events do not apply.  A registered attendee for the Summit can attend any part of the Summit.”  Victor started to speak and she put her hand up.  “Do I need to have the board that governs these meetings convene and review the contracts?”

Victor swallowed.  If he allowed humans into the Summit fully, he would need to get ahead of this and explain to Felipe and Freyda quickly.  Knowing that not responding to the Ancient Pythoness quickly would anger her further he tried to formulate a response.  It was too late.  He noticed Her Grace was now whispering to one of her handmaidens and she proceeded to make a call.  “I do not have time to stand here like this.  I have called Fons Hermans who chairs the board for Summit meetings.”  She looked at her handmaiden and the handmaiden nodded.  “He is on his way.”

If the Summit contract overrode all the remaining ways they planned to separate Sookie from her bonded, their plan to gather information on the telepath was screwed.  He mustered the ability to appear congenial and offered, “I’m sure this will work out as you say you Grace.  Let’s move onto the issue of the human’s insubordination against a vampire please.  I’ll meet with Fons and explain the miscommunication when he arrives.”

“Good boy Madden.”  The Ancient Pythoness stated and she started discussing the accusation against Sookie.  “King Benito.”  She called and he moved forward to kneel in front of her.

“Your Grace, how can I assist?”

“Please rise and explain what happened during this presentation please.”

Pam cleared her throat and stepped forward and knelt.  “Pardon me your Grace.”

“Rise Pamela.”  She waited until Pam was on her feet.  “You have something to offer?”

“I recorded the session.  We can just listen and watch if you prefer.”

“Pamela, how proactive of you.  It is almost as if you knew a recording would be needed.”

It was very difficult for Pam to maintain a straight face at the Ancient Pythoness’ words but she did it.  She could feel Eric’s curiosity through the bond, no doubt about her own feelings of amusement at the crone’s actions earlier this evening.  A handmaiden from her Grace’s entourage had personally delivered a note to Pam instructing her to record Sookie and Eric’s presentation.  She hit play and waited for the facts to come out.

As they listened, Sookie’s fear spiraled and now included self loathing.  Eric could feel it and surmised that she was blaming herself for responding to the jackass who had taunted her throughout her presentation.  He was flooding the bond with pride and comfort.  His little fairy had done well.  Even when she did react, it was polite and a show of respect for her other attendees so what they came to learn could be covered without interruption.  He knew Sookie’s Amma would end this situation quickly – and in Sookie’s favor.

For Sookie, the time since she heard Thalia and the others stand up for her had become a blur.  Her only focus now was staying upright and conscious.  Black was starting to creep into her eyes and she was dizzy.  If Eric hadn’t been holding her, she would be on the floor.  ‘Why did I say anything to him.  That’s obviously what he wanted and I gave him ammunition.  Still, the other attendees, I would be furious if I came to learn something and this happened.  I can’t think about them though, oh God, here comes another wave on nausea.  Eric, keep me going and standing.’

As if reading her mind, he spoke softly to her.  “I’ve got you my love.  Just a few more minutes and I’ll take you out of here.”

The recording playback ended and the Ancient Pythoness smiled.  “What is your name?”  She asked of the vampire who taunted Sookie.

“Samuel Falts.  I demand justice.”

“Justice?  Yes, justice will be served I assure you.”  He smiled.  “Fool!  Justice to Sookie.”  Her crooked finger pointed to the speaker area of the room where Sookie was attached to Eric.  “Explain your actions.”  For a moment, Samuel actually looked like he was going to challenge the Ancient Pythoness but she stopped him.  “Do not think about it.  You are already in enough trouble for what appears to be an attempt to taunt Mrs. Northman purposely.”

“I do not believe she should be here, among us.  I did in fact, want her to stop presenting and leave.  That she took it upon herself to speak, directly to ME was not anticipated.”

“A half truth I believe.  That she was a specifically selected presenter at this conference negates the fact that she spoke to you.  Anyone in this room knew a human was presenting and was therefore speaking to them.”  She changed her gaze from Samuel and spoke in general to the room.  “What she withstood before she responded to you speaks volumes about her character and I applaud Mrs. Northman for ‘keeping her cool’.”  Returning her focus to the troublemaker, she continued.  “For your behavior, I will have your fangs.”  She knew Fons had just appeared in the room and was glad that he could hear the next comments.

“YOUR GRACE!  Not. . .”

“You are serving as a deterrent to anyone at this Summit who thinks humans can be treated poorly.”  She nodded in Fons’ direction.  “The rules of the State of Nevada DO NOT APPLY to the Summit.  Any further incidents like this will be dealt with quickly and without mercy.  The time for us to change is upon us.  Move forward with acceptance, or prepare to face the consequences of your actions.”  Her arm reached for a handmaiden.  “Now, I am late for another appointment.  Fons, please handle Mr. Falts’ punishment.  Northman is welcome to pull the fangs if he chooses.”

Fons called for the guards and while Samuel was restrained, he spoke to Eric.  “Will you join me on the 3rd floor for his fangs?”

“I give the honor to Thalia for standing up for my wife.”

“Very well.  Thalia, please join us.”

With a full bow to Eric in recognition of the honor, Thalia walked out with the restrained vampire and Fons.  A small bit of a smile graced the outer edges of her lips.

The group was quiet as they turned and look towards Sookie, but one person could be heard:  Madden frantically calling Felipe to explain that the Summit contracts prevented them from following Nevada Vampire law for the duration of the Summit.  He had just walked away from the group far enough after they all heard a booming “WHAT?!” from Felipe.

While the Ancient Pythoness was speaking with Samuel, Sookie’s mindset shifted.  She realized she had not acted inappropriately given that this was HER presentation.  Amma was correct, her role as the presenter gave her the right to speak to anyone who willingly attended the session.  As she listened to the discussion and felt Eric’s comforting presence soothing her, the darkness started to lift.  By the time she heard Victor’s panicked voice on the phone she was feeling much better:  The shakes and nausea had stopped, her dizziness was gone, and she decided she could even stand on her own.  Slowly, she moved from Eric’s embrace until she was at the podium again, on her own two feet.

With the attention of the vampires in the room on her, she simply said, “Shall we continue?”

And they did.  At the end, the vampires in the room gave Sookie and Eric a standing ovation.  The regard the vampires already held for her grew as they watched her stand tall, ignore the incident and deliver the message she and Eric had spent weeks preparing.

Eric turned to her and grinned.  “Well, my spectacular wife, we have an hour before we need to prepare for the trial with Sophie-Anne.  What would you like to do?”

“I need some chocolate.”

“You’ve earned it.  Let’s go.”

While they walked to one of the casino restaurants, Eric worried that he hadn’t handled the situation Samuel correctly.  He questioned the fact that he stayed quiet.  Would Sookie be angry at him, resent him for not protecting her?  He really didn’t know.

“What are you so worried about up in that head?”

“Sookie, I find that I regret how the Samuel situation unfolded.  Would you have preferred that I step in?”

“NO WAY!  I thought we talked about this before Vegas.  I didn’t react to his taunts, and neither did you.  When I did react, it was as the speaker in the room, not the pet of a vampire.  I was scared, I won’t deny it, but I feel better for how we were perceived in that room.  You didn’t dive in and put me behind your back.  If there were daggers flying around, then do that, but words?  I don’t want you to do that if we can.  I think we did exactly the right thing.”  She had selected a large piece of cake and they were moving to a table as they spoke.

“I’m glad then.”

“Good.”

“So what do you know from Desmond on Sophie-Anne?  I know you got that call before the presentation started.”  She asked him about the situation between bites of her chocolate cake.  She had been serious; she wanted chocolate.

“She retired with Threadgill; I’m not sure why since they aren’t really together.  This evening she woke to his puddle in bed with her.”

“Can we figure out who was around during the day?  Can I read them?”

“Desmond is trying to gather everyone that was around the hallway from the security cameras.  Of course, the security camera in the room was shut off.”

“Convenient.”

“The potential witnesses or participants are being turned over for the trial.  If you read them, it will be during the trial.”

“Won’t people think I’m reading them the way I want the story to go?”

“Sookie, your reputation is through the roof right now.  I don’t think you’ll have that problem.”

“Well, I’m done my cake now.  Should we go to the meeting?  I’m sure the Queen is on edge.”

“Tonight my dear, you are my ‘brave Sookie’, and I couldn’t have more respect for you.  I know this is so hard. . . “

She put her hand up.  “And you turn into a sap for our baby and for me.  It’s part of our give and take.  We love each other, this is what that means.”

He nodded and they headed towards the Queen’s floor.  Sookie suddenly stopped when she realized they weren’t heading back to their room first.  “We don’t have time for me to change?”

“You look lovely.”

“I sweated a bit during the Samuel altercation.  I was hopi. . .”

“I’ll have Pam deliver something.  Your Armani Sheeth and Jacket?”

“Sure.  Why that one though?”

“Goes better with jewelry you’re already wearing.”  She nodded and they walked a bit further before she asked.  “Eric, what happens if Sophie-Anne is found guilty?”

He sighed.  He didn’t want to get into the repercussions.  Honestly, he was thinking they might need to leave the state.  They did have plenty of options, but it would be devastating to Sookie to lose the ties she had.  Of course, he would pack up Gran, Jason, probably Lala and Tara as well.  Given that Sookie had stopped walking, he realized he was taking too long to answer.  “Sookie, Peter’s lieutenant in training is the one pushing for the trial.  She intends to take over.”

“That’s Jennifer, right?”

“Yes.”

“She didn’t seem to have the same attitudes that we do.  I mean, she puts on a good show, but her pets said something different.”

“I want to know what you mean, but first let me assure you.  I will keep us safe.  We may need to leave Louisiana, but it’s a last option.”

“I don’t like that, but I trust you to do what’s necessary.”

“Now what do you mean about her pets?”

“Nothing that I read from the pets was anything more than loyalty, but they were heavily glamoured.  I don’t mean the occasional stuff I see everywhere, but I mean like Ginger level Swiss cheese brains glamoured.  Which by the way, you guys have to stop, there won’t be anything left.  I know she’s your employee and all that, but seriously, stop please.”

“It was never our intention to do that.  She was just so simple and would take care of things as needed.  Because she got the job done, we involved her more and more.  Unfortunately, she stated seeing things that would scar her or be a risk and the heavy glamour started.  From there, she started needing glamour to do her job.  We’ve kept her around because without glamour now, I don’t think she would be able to get a job anywhere.”

“You know, after I initially found Lala and the glamour you put on him, the black spots disappeared.  Maybe we can help Ginger.”

“But the memories would come back, that’s risk.”

“But I don’t think Lala remembers that stuff, I mean he saw it when I saw it, but I don’t think he can recall it now.  We can test and make a decision later.  Back to Jennifer’s pets.  She had like 6 of them you know.”

“That’s excessive – I mean at one time that’s excessive.”

“I thought so too.  Anyway, I read nothing dangerous about them so I said nothing as part of our work.  It’s not my business if she wants to melt the brains of her pets.  She also beats the hell out of them – that wasn’t glamoured or even hidden physically.  Now I can’t help but feel like there is a connection.”

“Agreed.”  He kept his mouth shut on the beating and swore they wouldn’t visit the 3rd floor for ANY reason since Sookie would likely see how common that practice was.   Instead he went back to strategy.  “We will share this information with Desmond and Sophie-Anne.”  They had reached the door to Sophie-Anne’s room and knocked.

The mood was somber as they entered except for Sophie-Anne; she looked like she was ready to kill something.  Sookie guessed she would feel the same way too if someone had set her up as a murderer.  After bowing and greeting everyone, Eric asked about the situation and offered the information about Jennifer’s pets.

Pam and Amelia joined the group.  “Crumb cake, how are you holding up?”

They were in a corner where Pam was showing Sookie where she was hanging her dress.  “I’m a little nervous, ready for the night to be over.”

“You are a strong woman Sookie.  I can’t tell you how proud I am to be standing with you.  You have much you could teach all of us.”

As they approached the group with Amelia, Andre started hissing.  There was some concern about Amelia being part of the situation since she was essentially an outsider.  Pam quickly explained.  “Amelia has some ideas from the witch community.”

This brightened Sophie-Anne’s demeanor and she finally spoke “go on.”

“Has anyone tried an ectoplasmic reconstruction?”  Amelia offered, a bit timidly.

“We were told too many people had disturbed the site and an accurate reading would be untrustworthy.”

“That’s a lie.  The reconstruction shows a point in time, not everything, not all energy that’s been in the room all day.”

“It’s too bad we can’t have Sookie read Jennifer’s pets.”

At that comment, Andre offered his opinion.  “They would all be glamoured anyway.”

The time came for them to share Sookie’s talent with glamour.  Eric and Sookie shared a look and she nodded slightly before Eric spoke.  “Can we clear out the room and discuss something?”

“Anyone in here is privy to what is going on.”

“My Queen, I ask your indulgence for a few moments, please.”

“Very well.  Tell us who can remain.”

After looking around the room, Eric replied.  “You of course, Desmond, Amelia and Pam.”

Andre was furious.  “Why does the witch get to stay and I can’t?”

“She is going to put up a privacy spell so you can’t listen in from the other side of the door.  Something you should have done before you started discussing the trial strategy.  This hotel is bugged.”  Andre grimaced, revealing he hadn’t thought about listening devices but left after Sophie-Anne barked at him to stop acting like a child, take his brothers and go.

Sophie-Anne turned directly to Sookie after the privacy spell was in place.  “You have my attention, but we don’t have much time.”

“I can read glamour.”

“Impossible.”

“It’s true.  It’s not easy for me or on me, and it hurts the person I’m reading significantly, but I can read it.”

“We don’t have time to read them before the trial; even if we did we cannot as they are being held by Fons right now.  Are we willing to let the information come out during the trial?”  Sophie-Anne inquired.

“We may have no choice.  Sookie, do you need to prepare just in case we can’t do it privately.”  In planning mode, Desmond questioned Sookie so he could have a strategy for the trial.

“I’ll need to prepare for the pain.  Perhaps taking some blood ahead of time will help.”

Cataliades continued.  “I’ll appeal for the opportunity to question them outside the trial, but I have my doubts.”

The Queen shook her head.  “I don’t even know how we’ll get her into Court.  She’ll probably have to wait somewhere with Thalia and be brought in after we make our case.”

Eric smiled.  “That problem with humans in Summit functions has been resolved.  It’s a bit of a long story that we don’t have time for now, but she can go to court.  The Ancient Pythoness already told Sookie she was needed – and that was last night.  I believe you will have the support you need your Majesty.”

“I want to hear this story, perhaps later while we celebrate victory.  For now, let’s head out.”  She pointed to Eric and Sookie.  “Eric, give Sookie your blood after we leave this room and come quickly.  We don’t have time for you to go back to your suite in New York, New York.”

“Know about that, do you?”

“I’m jealous; I understand you have one of their largest suites.”  She stood, checked herself in the mirror and headed out leaving Sookie and Eric behind.

Sookie changed quickly and Eric made no attempts to distract her – a huge sign that he was concerned.  She processed what was about to happen as she removed the sweaty suit.  ‘This is huge; my gift is going to be exposed.  Still, I don’t know what choice we have.  I can’t deny a request from The Ancient Pythoness.’  She stopped her thoughts and gave him a soft smile while she raised the sheath over her head.  ‘I have Eric to protect me.  All will be well.’  She walked towards him so he could zip her dress and he kissed each shoulder before sharing his bloody wrist.  Her nerves were dominating the bond and they got none of the usual satisfaction from her taking his blood.

“You ready?”

“To have my full talent exposed to the vampire world?”  He nodded grimly.  “As I’ll ever be.”

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9 thoughts on “Chapter 46 – Everybody’s a Critic

  1. Pingback: But it’s not the weekend? | magsmacdonald

  2. Good to see another of Victor’s plan frustrated (yay Thalia!) but the fact that he is so intent in capturing Sookie is worrying as is the toll all this stress is going to take on Sookie and her pregnancy that is still in the very fragile first months…

    • This story is intense from here til beyond where I am at chapter 58. I’m trying to add in lightness where I can – but we are just hitting the beginning of the drama that hopefully (muse better get it right) pulls everything together. No pressure.
      Thanks for reading and reviewing!
      ~m

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