A/N: The writing is slow-going but I’m committed to this story – you just might have some gaps as I’m quickly running out of pre-written chapters. Stick with me though! Please.
Chapter 23 – Home again Home again jiggity jig
“Yes Captain Shandu?” Eric answered the intercom from the private lounge at the back of the plane.
“We’re landing in about twenty minutes,” the pilot’s voice came over from the cockpit.
“Understood. Thalia and Patuk are in the main cabin, have they been notified?”
After switching off the intercom, he turned to Sookie and waggled his eyebrows. “Where were we?”
“You were relaxing your bonded while we land.” Eric leaned in to resume kissing her when the intercom interrupted, again.
He was a little less cordial this time. “Yes?”
“Your staff has been in touch with us during the flight. There’s a bit of urgency for you to get ready for your meeting and leave the airfield quickly.” Eric wondered why this was a problem. He knew they were going to need to dress quickly. The Captain added, almost sensing his confusion, “Miss Charleston wanted me to suggest that Miss Stackhouse get her hair started before the landing; apparently she won’t have time to do much.”
“Thank you Captain.” The intercom was switched off again, and he regretfully told Sookie that playtime was over. “Lover, do you have a message from Eliane? I didn’t realize we had to rush as she’s suggesting.” He stood to get his coat so he could also grab his phone.
“Hang on, I’ll check.” She grabbed her phone and cursed; Eric did the same. “She texted us both. She’s been corresponding with the Queen’s day staff to prepare for the meeting. According to this last text, the Queen is planning to have the Bert’s – whoever they are – meet us. Eliane said we only have a few minutes to deplane.”
“The Berts are Sigebert and Wybert. They are two of the Queen’s children and it’s a message. We aren’t to try anything except get to the meeting.” He rubbed his face. “I wish I knew what she was up to.”
She gasped. “Will they try something at the plane?”
“I don’t want to find out. Lover, you will need to accept the evening as it goes and I know that will be hard for you. It’s for our safety.”
“Of course, Pam’s safety as well. I get it.”
“Thank you Lover. I’ll make all this up to you, I promise.” He grabbed her bag to get a brush and other styling needs. “Now, let me at that hair.” Secretly, Eric was pleased that there was a rush for two reasons. First, Sookie could focus on prep, not her nerves as much. Second, Sookie would have little time to argue about the jewels Eric had purchased for her.
The plane landed without too many bumps which was good since Eric was working on a complicated braid to match the elegance of the gown she would be wearing. By the time the plane had entered the private hangar, her hair was ready and she’d added some make-up. Hopefully the dress Eliane purchased could be stepped into; they figured that would be the case since Eliane wouldn’t have suggested she get her hair done ahead of time.
Eliane boarded the plane as soon as the door was open and had three dresses for Sookie. They really didn’t have time to try them all out, so they selected the red and black Robert Cavalli gown from the hanger. Eliane helped Sookie step in the gown and got her zipped up while Eric donned the palace required suit and tie from Eliane. The entire changing process took only ten minutes and they met the Berts at the limo. Sookie hadn’t even caught up with her friend, but they knew Eliane would be waiting at Eric’s home in New Orleans after the meeting. Eric had no plans to spend his day at the palace.
“You and the girl only.” One of the Bert’s informed Eric as they approached the limo.
Nodding to Thalia and Patuk, Eric informed the Berts. “These two serve as Sookie’s guards.”
Again with broken English, a Bert replied. “Contract says you also are guard. No need others.”
Eric didn’t like it, but the situation was already contentious and he knew he needed to pick his fights. This wouldn’t be one of them. The Queen probably suspected an attempt to break Pam out, rather than a meeting.
Like she was the mind reader in the group, Thalia stepped forward and simply said, “We will meet up with you at your house Eric. I know how to get there.” Eric pulled some keys from his jacket and handed them to her. As they walked away, Thalia leaned to Patuk and whispered something. Right after, Sookie heard Patuk practically shout to her in his thoughts that they actually planned to be hidden, but right outside the palace should they be needed. Sookie simply acknowledged with a final wave of her left hand, the signal Patuk asked her to give as confirmation that she’d heard him.
Thankfully, the Berts rode in the front of the limo on the way to the palace, leaving Sookie and Eric alone in the back. Eric had warned Sookie that they could be bugged at any time so she knew her good behavior had to start now. For the first part of the ride, she focused on the calm and love Eric was sending her through their bond, but she was too antsy to sit quietly. To fill the time, Sookie started a conversation. “Master,” And that hurt to say but she did, “I totally forgot about the Maenad since we’ve been gone. What happened, is she still around?”
Eric found he didn’t like hearing her call him Master at all but he answered her as if the conversation was normal for them. “No. Pam paid her a tribute and she moved on.”
“A tribute? Like bodies or something?” Sookie looked disgusted.
“No, a bull.”
“What did she do with . . . “
“Better not to ask.”
Since the private airfield was so close, they arrived at the palace after a short ride. Eric helped Sookie out of the car. With the Berts as their escorts, they were permitted in the palace without delay. That’s where the easy part ended.
Another vampire approached them and relayed the Queen’s request. “Northman.” The vampire bowed.
“Rasul.” Eric gave him a nod. “I’ve not seen you in a while.”
“The Queen had me on assignment. I’ve returned now.” He paused and looked uncomfortable, “She wishes to meet with you privately before your pet is brought to the throne room.” He could feel Sookie’s panic immediately. “Your pet will stay here.”
“Unacceptable,” Eric said firmly. “Her safety is my responsibility, I was forced to leave her guards at the plane if you recall.”
“Is not your choice. Queen’s orders.” Wybert offered to the conversation.
Sookie could see, as could all of them gathered in this waiting area, that Eric was angry. With the bond though, she could feel his apprehension at leaving her. Knowing that they couldn’t disobey the Queen, she put on a brave face and squeezed his hand. Without words, she was telling him she would be fine.
“Rasul, I need a moment alone to provide instructions.” Rasul agreed and he and the Berts left the waiting area. He looked at Sookie pleading for forgiveness with his eyes. “I will be no longer than ten minutes. You are not permitted to speak to anyone while I am gone. If anyone approaches you, tell them your master instructed you to be silent.” He added with a bit of harshness to put on a good show for the cameras he was sure were recording them. “Is that understood pet?” He wanted to call her his bonded, but the Queen needed to be told in person. Hearing it over a camera and microphone would not play out well.
Rasul stayed with Sookie and the Berts escorted Eric to the throne room. He sent all the love he could through the bond and was surprised to feel it back. That couldn’t be easy for her right now, and he appreciated it even more. He bowed to the Queen and she addressed him. “Northman, I understand you found our telepath.” She leaned forward and her eyes narrowed. “Or maybe you knew where she was all along.”
“I assure you my Queen. When I left New Orleans for my vacation, I did not know Miss Stackhouse’s whereabouts.”
“And she suddenly joined you?”
“Thalia and Sookie arrived on my island, yes.”
The Queen wanted to push, but her Sheriff had covered his tracks well with his paperwork: the telepath was his. At least, she appeased herself, for the time being. “Now we have something very serious to deal with Northman: your child. As I told you over the phone, your child is being held under suspicion of abducting or harming William Compton. I want my Investigator back. Pamela will be held until he is returned.”
“Your Majesty, I’d like to have Miss Stackhouse join us for the discussion about Compton’s disappearance. I will need her assistance so nothing will be kept from her about the investigation.”
“I’ll allow her in after you assure me she will be glamoured to forget the details after William is found.”
This was decision time for Eric. While he knew this was likely to occur, he had hoped the topic of glamour and Sookie’s resistance to it wouldn’t come up. No such luck. He could lie and say he would glamour her, knowing it wouldn’t work, or fess up about Sookie’s resistance to glamour. If Compton didn’t already know about it, he would have taken the risk and lie but he couldn’t. Sookie wouldn’t be killed for being resistant to glamour, but lying to the Queen was punishable by death depending on the severity of the lie and frankly, the mood of the monarch. “Your Majesty, her telepathy provides her with resistance to glamour.”
As stoic as the Queen always tried to appear during business, even she couldn’t shake off the shock of this news. Before she could stop it, the Queen’s mouth dropped in surprise as her eyes widened. Anger at her reaction or the situation broadcasted her true reaction. “AND YOU WOULD HAVE A HUMAN IN HERE DURING BUSINESS DISCUSSIONS – ONE WE CANNOT GLAMOUR?!”
“No my Queen.” He braced himself for the reaction to his next sentence. Bonding to Sookie would be completely unexpected, he was sure. “I would have my . . .” Before he got the word ‘bonded’ out of his mouth, he felt extreme panic and physical back pain coming from the bond. “WHAT IS HAPPENING TO HER?!”
Hiding her surprise that Eric had shared his blood, the Queen responded. “So you’ve given her blood? Andre was going to give her blood. We wanted to ensure we had control over the asset. Of course, we didn’t realize you’d already given her blood.”
While leaving the throne room he said, “I’ll kill him.”
“She’s my bonded.”
The Queen rose at this news. “YOUR BONDED?!” She was shocked and angry that Eric had given Sookie blood at all. Even without the bond, that alone would have made Andre’s blood useless; he was centuries younger than the Northman.
Eric was already out the door to get to Sookie so he didn’t respond. What he found in the hallway had him ready to rip Andre apart. Sookie was pushed up against a wall by Andre; large drips of blood were trickling down her chest. Eric ordered, “Step away from her Andre.”
Andre turned and looked to his Queen. “Your Majesty,” He sighed before going on. “She has Eric’s blood. I smelled it before . . .”
Eric interrupted Andre and spoke in a dangerous tone. “Before you could force your blood in her.” Eric moved closer to Sookie, still held to the wall by Andre. “She’s my bonded; I will kill you for this.” Then he added quietly, but forcefully, “LET. HER. GO.”
Andre removed his hands and backed away from Sookie like she was silver; luckily Eric managed to get to her before she fell to the ground. With his fangs out, he turned to the Queen. “I will have Andre punished for this.”
Inwardly, the Queen knew her precious Andre was in the wrong – though she’d ordered him to force his blood in the telepath. Handling this situation was going to take a delicate touch. With her head high, she responded coolly, “He didn’t draw blood.”
“He touched her and as my bonded I have a right to demand retribution. Her contract, a contract you have seen, protects her from being touched by other vampires.”
“Let’s continue this and our other discussion in the throne room. You may bring your pet.”
Eric wanted to take a moment to check on Sookie, but there wasn’t a private place in the palace for that anyway. Again, sending love first, he responded to the Queen. “Yes your Majesty.” To put on the proper appearance for the Queen, Eric set Sookie on her feet and had her walk to the throne room slightly behind him.
As Eric taught her, Sookie gave the Queen a bow when Eric did. Unmoving, Eric and Sookie stayed in front of the Queen while she tried to unnerve them from her stare alone. This was another possibility that Eric warned Sookie about; he referred to it as a childish game Sophie-Anne liked to play. It never worked on Eric, but the Queen had hopes that she could unnerve the girl in front of her. Sookie didn’t so much as flinch as she stood immobile at Eric’s side with her eyes down and waiting. The Queen was surprised, but had other tricks up her sleeve to upset the girl. Her attempt to upset the telepath didn’t have any impact; so Sophie-Anne took a moment to appraise her. The Queen would never admit it out loud, but she was jealous of women such as Sookie; women with bodies that had ripened. Queen Sophie-Anne hated that she was turned so young that in some ways her body never matured fully. In human life years, Sophie-Anne was eight years younger than the girl in front of her. Those eight years gave the blood bag curves and physical maturity that the Queen would never have. Being a frequent purchaser of jewelry, the Queen also recognized the Harry Winston pieces that adorned the girl. All the pieces were from the Lily Collection; she knew it well. In fact, she knew the unworthy blood bag was sporting a few million dollars in jewels. This information only made her angrier.
Sookie had sized up the Queen as well. Per protocol, she knew she couldn’t look at her directly but she managed to glance several times. Eric wasn’t kidding about her appearing so young – except for her eyes. Sookie had met enough vampires to know their eyes frequently revealed all their years on earth, not only the human ones. The Queen’s red dress looked lovely and expensive, but when the Queen was standing, it seemed to simply hang on her rather than fit her. The gaudy palace décor had already given Sookie a clue to the almost desperate show of wealth. There was nothing tasteful or elegant at the palace as far as Sookie was concerned, and Sookie used that thought as a comfort since she was standing in front of the woman who was eyeing her like a piece of meat at a butcher counter. The Queen suddenly spoke and took Sookie out of her thoughts.
To move forward, Sophie-addressed her Sheriff. “Eric, present your asset.”
Eric wanted to roll his eyes. At this point, it was pretty clear that the woman standing next to him was Sookie but he played along – for now. The Queen seemed to think that pretending to start over would erase Andre’s crime. “Your Majesty, this is my bonded, Sookie Stackhouse.”
“Yes, your bonded. That’s quite a surprise. Now that I’m near her, I can smell your blood but bonded?” Her eyes moved from Sookie to Eric a few times. “You?”
“She is mine, permanently. I believe such a valuable asset warranted this action.”
“I agree; a valuable asset.” The Queen was not happy with the bond and her glossy red nails clicked against the wood as she calculated her next move. She had wanted the telepath for herself and a bonding certainly prevented that. All her plans to have Andre force his blood in her before they left were destroyed by Eric’s actions. Killing Eric was an option, but then the girl might not recover from the loss of her bonded. While she stared again at the couple, she decided to use the witch she’d already captured to produce a blood breaking spell. For now, she needed to move forward with the reason for Eric’s arrival. “As I told you over the phone, your child is being held under suspicion of abducting or harming William Compton. I want my Investigator back. Pamela will be held until he is.”
“My Queen, if you allow Pam to join us, I can command her in front of you to tell the truth. That can clear up this issue. Then we can take care of Andre’s punishment for his actions against my bonded.”
Ignoring the comment about Andre, she spoke to Eric’s command request. “Given your attack on William in Dallas I believe you could be involved as well. For all I know, you could have commanded Pamela to never speak of her actions, even under a subsequent command.” She paused. “I’ll permit the command on the slim chance you aren’t involved and you need information to find William.” She nodded to a vampire at the door. “No matter the outcome of this little . . . test, as his Sheriff, you are responsible for finding my investigator. Pamela will be held as collateral. Unless of course, you’d like to leave your asset here,” she nodded towards Sookie, “instead.” Again, Sookie remained motionless and again, the Queen was frustrated by her lack of reaction so she pushed it. “We’ll keep her safe. She can read all my humans while you’re out collecting William.”
And there it was – her motive. Right at this moment, Eric had the confirmation he needed that the Queen was in on Bill’s disappearance; the Queen had wanted Sookie to remain at the palace while he left to search. It didn’t matter though, as they were newly bonded, Eric could only choose Sookie since they needed to remain physically close for a while as they grew accustomed to the bond. Even if they didn’t have the bond he would keep Sookie at his side. Pam could survive the palace; Sookie might not. “For my investigation, I will require my bonded’s unique skills.”
In her head, Sookie was ticking off the number of times she’d been referred to as an asset. So far, she’d been called something degrading eight times, which meant eighty minutes of toilet scrubbing for her Viking. It was juvenile, she knew, but it was helping her through this meeting. The Queen raised his time to a full hour and a half with her next statement. “Yes, she’s a tool you will need for your search and rescue mission. I’ll keep your child here then.”
Eric continued. “If my command puts Pam’s guilt in doubt, I believe there is no justification to punish her physically.”
“I’LL MAKE THAT DECISION!” The Queen stood at her outburst and Eric didn’t flinch. He’d wait to threaten the Queen with retaliation via the Council once he’d proven Pam’s innocence.
Eric was taken out of his stare off with the Queen when he felt Pam coming close. Sookie stiffened when she saw Pam being dragged in by two guards. Eric turned to go to her and the Berts blocked his path. “Stay back.”
To confirm the Bert’s order, the Queen spoke from her dais. “She’s still a prisoner; this isn’t a visit.” Eric growled but stayed where he was. “You may command her.”
Eric looked at his vampire child and needed to work to control his anger. Marks from silver chains circled her wrists and ankles, stripes from a whip covered what flesh was displayed, and her unhealed grey skin indicated that she hadn’t been fed. Through the bond, he could feel Sookie’s sympathy and anger. He wanted to rip open a wrist and feed her but the Queen had already ordered him to stay away. Instead, he proceeded with the command so they could attempt to prove her innocence and move forward. “Pamela, I command you to speak the truth.”
“Yes Master.” Pam was quiet but he could hear her acknowledge the command; the Queen also nodded indicated she’d heard it as well.
“Pamela, have you taken William Compton?”
“Do you have any idea where he is?”
Andre barged into the conversation. “Did you harm William Compton in any way?”
Eric’s eyes grew wide at this answer, so he didn’t wait for Andre to ask the follow-up. “EXPLAIN!” He was going to punish her himself if she killed him.
“I had the pleasure of meeting a resident of Bon Temps one night when I made a trip out that way. Her name is Maxine Fortenberry.” Eric could feel Sookie’s amusement right away. “I met the woman when I was in town obtaining something from another woman.” Eric recalled Pam had made a trip to glamour a chocolate cake recipe. The recipe was currently part of a gift basket of ingredients he planned to give to Sookie at Christmas. “Since she seemed to be Bill’s ah . . . type, I glamoured her to approach him when he was at Merlotte’s. Sam Merlotte was good enough to videotape some of Mrs. Fortenberry’s . . . interest in Bill. I believe Bill was embarrassed. Several times in fact. My glamour was so strong that she started approaching him at home before I released her from it. This was in November, before Thanksgiving.”
It was so very hard, but Sookie somehow maintained a look of calm during the story. She wanted to laugh, but Pam’s condition prevented it.
“I see.” The Queen responded. “Any other harm, anything at all?”
“I admit that I teased him about his bangs and sideburns, but that’s all.”
The Queen wasn’t surprised by Pam’s response. After all she had planned Bill’s disappearance so she could get Eric back in the state, but she was maintaining her claims. “As I said before, to me this has proven nothing.” She turned directly to Eric and Sookie. “Pam will remain here as we discussed until you find my investigator.”
“In the interest of focusing on my task, I request that no further harm come to my child while I am gone.”
Sophie-Anne was quiet while she considered his words; she needed to ensure this situation was used as much to her advantage as possible. “You have four nights to find him. If you are gone longer than four nights, Pam will be tortured and starved until you return.” She paused and stared at Eric for a moment. “Am I clear?”
“Yes Your Majesty. I’d like to give Pamela some of my blood now for healing.”
“I’ll permit that.” The time to feed Pam would allow her to prepare the witch appropriately. Sophie-Anne had originally planned to convince Sookie to break the contract with Eric (and offer help to do so) and live in the palace. In addition to having Andre’s blood, the familial tie to Hadley had been a significant part of that plan. Little did Sophie-Anne know, Sookie felt that Hadley had cut ties with the family when she told a Vampire Queen about her telepathy. Without the true knowledge of Sookie’s feelings towards Hadley, the plan never would have worked anyway.
Eric nodded to Sookie and she followed him obediently, sitting next to him on the couch as he indicated. He held his child closely on his lap and fed her right in the throne room. Since he knew the Queen had all the rooms under surveillance, there was no point pretending they would have privacy anywhere and this way, Pam could get help right away. At Eric’s insistence, she fed deeply and Sookie knew she would be feeding Eric as soon as possible to make up for it. Seeing Pam healing already was a relief to Sookie and she found herself slightly less on edge than she had been since the Queen called Eric. That respite ended when Sookie heard a familiar but unwelcome voice. Eric felt Sookie’s fear, anger, and disgust and turned to look at whatever Sookie was seeing. A woman was kneeling before Sophie-Anne and had called the Queen her master. Given his bonded’s reaction, he gathered this was Hadley. Still holding Pam, he turned his attention to the conversation at the dais and his blood boiled. Now he realized the full reason for Sophie-Anne’s reaction to his bond with Sookie.
“Is it done? Andre fed Sookie his blood? She’ll have to live here now, right?” Hadley whispered it and Sophie-Anne tried to stop her from speaking but it was too late: Eric had heard it all. The Viking glared at his Queen, but at the moment he was still at her mercy over the situation with Pam and Compton. Once he could get a hold of Roman on the Council, he swore he would do whatever he could to not only leave his pathetic Queen, but have her removed from the throne – hopefully via a stake.
Since the evening had not gone as planned, the Queen was having difficulty containing her reactions and Hadley’s slip up put her over the edge. She snapped and instead of putting on a show for Hadley and Sookie being one big happy family with her at the palace, she showed Sookie the other side of life with a monarch. The Queen started with a backhand across Hadley’s face then reprimanded the girl about her mistake. Her words conveyed fury as she spoke them. “Hadley. You know you are not to speak out during court. We’ve been through this before.”
Hadley’s response was a whine while she tried to explain her action. “But I have family here; I thought it wasn’t real court.”
“And now you speak back to me?” The Queen looked indignant that someone would do such a thing – let alone a trained pet. She stood after eyeing Hadley for a moment then called to her second as she walked out of the room. “Andre, handle this.”
Eric knew what was coming, and it wasn’t going to be good. The Queen was losing tonight, badly. The ability to sway Sookie to do something about the contract may have been her plan, but not even a Queen could interfere with a bond.
They’d really made the right decision to complete the bond.
He sent calm to Sookie before she could even realize what was happening and she looked at him. Sookie thought the backhand she’d heard and the words Sophie-Anne spoke were the punishment. Feeling the calm coming from Eric had her raising her head to meet his eyes. Her look was curious and changed to concern as soon as she saw Eric’s apologetic gaze. The sound of a whip broke her out of stare, but Eric gently nudged her face with his hand and made her look at him. He didn’t dare speak and be overheard, but keeping Sookie’s focus would hopefully help. Andre was focused on his task, so he didn’t see Eric’s action when he pointed to his eyes and mouthed that Sookie should look at him. Further surprising her, Pam grasped Sookie’s hand and squeezed. She looked to Pam quickly and squeezed back. While she really didn’t like Hadley, it was impossible to hear her screams and not be affected. Only due to her years of keeping her face from revealing her emotions was Sookie able to keep from grimacing. Eric knew as soon as they were out of the palace Sookie would collapse and react as she needed to. Unfortunately that time wouldn’t come quickly enough.
The whipping continued until the Queen returned, and she waved her hand at Eric, indicating he should move towards the throne. Though the whipping and therefore the screams stopped, Hadley continued to whimper near the throne and Sookie didn’t want to go any closer. There really wasn’t a choice though and the three of them, Eric, Pam and Sookie, moved to stand in front of the Queen. Before addressing them, the Queen looked coldly at Hadley, her favorite pet. “Did you learn your lesson?”
“Good. You may wait for me in my chambers.” Hadley scooped up the clothing that had been removed for her punishment, and started to leave. Without turning to look at Hadley, the Queen added. “Don’t get any blood on my furniture Hadley or you’ll be punished again.”
Sookie was horrified at what she’d witnessed and relieved that the plan to have her taken to the Queen had been stopped. Not that she wasn’t already grateful; but seeing exactly what palace life could be like had her sending a blast of love and thanks to her Viking. He squeezed her hand in recognition before looking to the Queen for some kind of indication as to why they’d been called back to stand before her. After a few moments, the Queen spoke. “I’m providing you with a witch for your mission.” She nodded to Andre and after he left, the Queen nodded again and several others were led into court; then she addressed Eric directly. “We’ll be testing your telepath’skills now while we wait for Andre.” The Queen was pleased she hadn’t done the test first – waiting until now would give Andre time to glamour the witch as needed. She nodded to Eric. “Have your asset read these donors and guards. Tell her to report their thoughts as she hears them.”
Sookie refrained from rolling her eyes as Eric repeated the Queen’s orders word for word except for his added statement, “I’ll be sure to give you a treat if you perform well my pet.” For those words, she resisted the urge to give him the finger. Not that she was angry at Eric, at this point, she was a jumble of emotions and wanted to get out of the palace and explode. To soothe her nerves, she decided to charge Eric extra toilet scrubbing time.
“Master,” she started. “Do I tell you the thoughts and you repeat them? Write them down?”
The Queen answered for him. “You may speak the thoughts and even address me during this test.”
‘Well whoop de doo. I get to address her directly.’ To get started, Sookie walked near the donors and guards and spoke the thoughts she heard out loud. Years of keeping her emotional reaction to the thoughts paid off. Her sentences were reported without inflection or change to her facial expression. Eric was impressed that she had somehow maintained a look of near boredom while he could feel that inside she was thoroughly disgusted by what she was hearing.
Indicating the owner of the thoughts by pointing to them, she moved down the row and blurted out the snippets she caught:
“This one is mad that Hadley was called to court before the rest of them. She’s hoping for a threesome with you and Andre though.”
“John here would prefer sex with woman, he hates when Andre takes him up the ass, but he won’t say anything because he still likes living for free in the palace.”
“Both your Were guards are wondering why they were called in with donors since you didn’t explain anything to them. The tall one . . . ah I just caught his name – Frank – is wondering if I’ll be staying at the palace and hopes I like the pool during the day since he’s stationed there.” She turned to Frank. “Don’t get your hopes up. Not only am I’m bonded to Sheriff Northman; I wouldn’t skinny dip like the other trash that uses the pool during the day.”
That statement turned the donor’s thoughts to nothing but a barrage of criticism.
“As expected, most of the group is angry with me. I’m fat, some wonder what a bond is, some want my Master and hope he’ll still choose them sometime tonight, and then there is my favorite.” She pointed to the last donor in the row. “This woman told you her name is Sarah, well it’s really Beatrice, but she’s such a fan of the NEWLINS that she goes by Sarah.” Sookie turned to Eric. “Master, I trust my secret won’t get in the hands of the Fellowship.”
Eric turned to the Queen and raised an eyebrow. Sophie-Anne responded quickly. “Everyone you read will be glamoured to forget about you. Sarah, rather Beatrice, will have an unfortunate evening.”
Eric sent pride and love to Sookie as he spoke to her. “Well done.”
Inwardly, the Queen was impressed but displayed an uninterested look. “We’ll consider your talent as verified. Now we wait for Andre and the witch.”
They waited in silence for Andre and the witch. Sookie heard the witch’s brain before she heard her shoes indicating her arrival. Sookie turned to see a woman with short brunette hair, deep brown eyes, and an almost preppy outfit walking towards them. The woman was pretty but nothing about her screamed witch. Her thoughts, however, did scream: everything she thought was almost like she was yelling directly at Sookie. From reading her mind, Sookie knew this woman was a friend of Hadley’s and had only come to the palace for a visit when she was restrained and locked in a cell with no explanation. The Queen offered an introduction when the witch was near the throne. “This is Amelia Broadway. She studies under Octavia Fant. Eric, I believe you know Octavia?” He nodded and the Queen continued. “She will be with you to provide assistance via spells as needed.”
Amelia spoke for the first time. “What do you mean? Why was I held?”
“SILENCE!” Andre ordered from Amelia’s side. “Our Queen has decided you are needed so you will go with Eric and his pet.” Andre had nodded his head toward Eric when he said his name.
Luckily Amelia backed down after remembering some of Hadley’s stories from the palace. “Yes, of course.” She turned to Eric. “If we’re going out of town I need a bag.”
Eric was matter of fact when he responded. “No. I’ll provide whatever is needed. We don’t have time for you to go home.” She opened her mouth to speak and he cut her off. “Non-negotiable.” Once he was satisfied she wasn’t going to argue, he addressed the Queen. “My Queen, if there’s nothing else, we’ll escort Pamela to her guest room and be on our way.” He wanted to push for the punishment of Andre, but figured that would only anger the Queen before he left with Pam still too close for comfort. Still, he didn’t want anyone to think he’d forgotten and he hoped a reminder would serve as a deterrent for hurting his child while he was gone. “I’ll handle Andre’s punishment when we return with Bill.”
The Queen understood perfectly. The severity of Andre’s punishment hinged on how well Pamela was treated. She acknowledged Eric’s suggestion with a nod then added. “Be gone.” Her hand waved towards the door and she turned as if she was bored with their presence. “Rasul will show you to a guest room for your child.” There was a moment of silence as they walked toward the door. “Northman. When you return, I expect you to have William and our asset with you.” Eric stopped but did not turn around. “You have four days.”
Per Sookie’s calculation, Eric now had two hours of toilet scrubbing ahead of him.