GUESS WHAT!? This one is actually beta’d! I got my act together and got this chapter to MistressJess a day ahead of time! Thanks woman!
Hope you enjoy this one. I enjoyed ‘shopping’ for this one. I love looking for the most expensive anything for my Sookies (since it is fiction – and I couldn’t fathom spending this kind of money – I get my kicks here).
Chapter 27 – An Outrage
The next night, Eric was surprised to have a guest at his front door shortly after sunset. Alcide moved to check on the visitor and turned with his eyes wide to Eric. “It’s Roman Zimojic and several Council guards.”
“Let them in.”
Two heavily armed and protectively suited guards entered first. “We need to do a sweep Mr. Northman.”
“Certainly.” His hand protectively circled Sookie’s waist as they stood to the side and let the guards through. Sookie could feel the curiosity, not worry, coming from Eric, so she was able to relax while they waited. When the guard that spoke returned to them, he whispered into his Bluetooth and Roman entered the house with two more guards. “Council Head.” Eric nodded and acknowledged Roman.
“Eric, Sookie. I’ve been looking forward to meeting again.” Sookie bowed but remained quiet, allowing Eric to lead. Meanwhile, Thalia had entered the foyer. “Thalia, pleasure to see you here.” Roman gestured to Barry. “This is your bonded?”
“Yes, Council Head. This is Barry Horowitz.” Barry nodded to Roman.
“Roman, please everyone call me Roman.” Eric was growing more puzzled by the moment. If Roman was visiting on his own, Eric would have called him by as first name as they normally did. Tonight though, they had Russell and Council guards and he was being invited to ignore protocol. Something felt off to him. Roman could see he was puzzled, but ignored it and turned his attention to King Edgington. “I see Russell chose to travel without his Council guards again.”
“I knew Eric had daytime protection and tell me, what guard can handle any threat better than me at three thousand years old?”
“Since this was a last minute meeting, I won’t do anything further than remind you. Next time, it’s an official reprimand.” He paused before making his point. “Council members are required to secure themselves with Council guards.” Having laid the foundation, he used the conversation to sneak in his reason for arriving early. “That’s something you all will need to remember starting tonight.” He pointed to Eric, Thalia, Barry, and Sookie in turn. Then he waited a moment for his words to sink in.
Naturally, Eric was the first to speak. “I don’t understand Roman. We haven’t executed a contract yet.”
“I have it with me. No negotiations, everything you requested via our emails is in here.” He pulled the papers out and handed it to Eric.
Eric was shocked, pleasantly shocked, but feeling pressured. He wanted his lawyer, Desmond, to review any contract he signed but he got the impression he needed to sign the document tonight, more specifically, NOW. Taking another moment to think, he was sure he was expected to sign the documents now. Council contracts required two Council signatures and Russell was conveniently here. “Eric,” Roman said then waited to get his attention. “I knew you would want Desmond,” He turned to one of the guards and the door opened again. “He’s here.”
Eric relaxed when he saw his lawyer and friend walk in the door. With Desmond’s assessment, he could sign in confidence. “Let’s get to reviewing,” Eric suggested as he guided Desmond and Sookie to his office and they started reading. With vampire speed, he finished his examination and spoke with Desmond. After a moment, he turned to Sookie. “I’d like to speak with you in private please.”
He looked serious but Sookie swore he felt like a kid on Christmas morning on the inside. Once secure behind their bedroom door, he smiled widely at Sookie. “Roman wasn’t kidding Lover. Everything I requested is in here. A salary beyond belief, the plane I wanted with the necessary staff, freedom to travel the world . . .”
She interrupted him. “Freedom? What does that mean? You aren’t free to travel now?”
“There are rules about vampires traveling to territories. I can travel, of course, but I need to notify the sheriffs; in some locations you have to apply for permission prior to entering the area. With this contract, Thalia, Pam, and I are considered part of the Council team. Those rules don’t apply. Actually, my position includes a seat on the Council, I’ll be a Council member; not simply in the Council’s employ.”
“What does that mean?”
His smile was wide as he explained. “Monarchs report to the Council members as a whole. Council members report to Roman.”
“So you sign that and . . .” Sookie had a twinkle in her eye as she spoke.
“Sophie-Anne’s ass is mine.” He pulled the paper back up. “I didn’t get to finish my summary.”
“The contract also provides for full ownership of you and Barry – though I delegate ownership of Barry to Thalia and Roman already added that wording. This means, the two of you cannot be touched, or fed from in any way. The penalty is death to the vampire or other supernatural being.”
“As your bonded, I thought that was already in place?”
“It is, this is a proactive notice of Council member change so nobody needs to get close and smell me on you to know you’re off limits.”
“Will anyone try anything?”
He sighed and guided her to the bed. “You will be coveted Sookie. Both you and Barry. This is why the guards are necessary. The contract also provides for two Council guards for each of us and budget to hire more of our choosing.” He could feel her sadness at his comments. “You knew this already though.”
“I think the ‘notice’ you mentioned scares me. Part of me wanted to stay hidden.”
He pulled her to his chest. “I know my love; I know. I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault sweetie. You’re right – I knew this was coming; reality is sinking in. Give me time. I’ll focus on getting Pam back tonight and deal with this later.” Sookie enjoyed his embrace for a moment before adding. “Speaking of Pam, anything else we should discuss, or are you ready to sign?”
“One more item; we get a house as well.”
“Council members are provided one house with Council approved security. We won’t know the location or details until I sign the contract since the Council meeting location is not commonly known.”
She laughed. “So it might be a shack on top of a vampire cave?”
“Not even close. Guaranteed minimum of 15,000 square feet and quite well appointed.”
She went slack jawed for a moment before stating, “I was only joking.”
“I know but they aren’t.”
“Clearly.” She thought for a moment. “Do we have to live there full-time?”
“No.” He kissed her nose and she giggled. “We still have the choice of the world for settling down. There are three Council members who also rule their own states.”
“Can we sign and get Pam now?”
“You anxious to get this signed?”
“I’m anxious to GET PAM!”
He stood and put out his hand to help her from the bed. “I am as well but you know she has not been mistreated since we left.”
“Yes, I know, I know – you’ve been keeping a bead on her. That doesn’t mean we should delay.”
“Yes dear. We’ll all sign; then we should tell Roman and Russell about your zapping fingers.”
“Best not to delay Lover.”
She started moving to the door and grumbled fine under her breath as they headed out.
“Ah Northman, any concerns?” Roman wasted no time when they joined everyone in the living room.
“None; we’re ready to sign.” He turned to Thalia and Barry, seated together on one of the couches. “Are you satisfied?”
“Yes Eric.” Thalia answered for both of them. “We’re ready to sign.”
“Let’s do this.”
The signing process took about half an hour since Eric’s induction involved some ceremony with the other Council members joining via teleconference. At the end, Eric was officially given a seat at the Council and Thalia, Barry, and Sookie were all installed as members of the greater-Council team. The ceremony had only been over for a moment before Roman texted someone and there was a knock at the door. “Your Council guards are here, and my child wanted to congratulate you Northman.”
Sookie stiffened at the idea of having Roman’s child, Nora, here in her and Eric’s home. Though brief, she hated the first introduction to the vampire and had little hope for ever getting along. Eric felt Sookie’s anger and turned to her. “This is your home, Sookie. I won’t let anyone bother you here.”
“Thank you Eric.”
Eight guards outfitted as the other guards in the house arrived and stood at attention in the living room. Sookie could tell that as with Roman’s guards, the guards were a mix of Were and Vampire. Before she could assess anything further, Nora strolled in and made a beeline for her bonded. That was something she was stopping right away. “Stay away from my bonded Nora.”
Nora’s eyes went wide and she spoke to Eric, though her focus was on Sookie. “Eric, are you going to allow your human to speak to me like that?”
“It’s not for me to allow Nora. Sookie and I are bonded, she isn’t my pet. Sookie is also part of the Council; surely you were made aware of that fact.”
“She’s just an employee; she doesn’t have a seat on the Council. She deserves no more respect than the human computer staff at headquarters. It’s time you got over your little infatuation with the bloodbag.” Nora made the mistake of getting closer to Eric. “I’ll let her play with us if you really want.”
Nora’s attitude and words were quickly angering Sookie and she fought for control of her emotions. The control only lasted a moment as Nora raised an arm to touch Eric. That action broke her focus.
Shocking everyone in the room, Sookie’s rage took over and her hands lit up. She didn’t use them on Nora, but she sure as hell wanted to. After a moment of stunned silence and after Nora backed away from both Sookie and Eric, Russell exclaimed, “Nora, I’m pretty sure Sookie deserves all of our respect; though I believe she had respect before her fingers turned into lightning bolts. I’m suggesting that you don’t want to make her mad.”
Eric added to Russell’s comments. “Yes Russell, you put that well. Nora, you should take his advice; don’t make Sookie mad.”
Nora put her chin up confidently. “She won’t do anything to me. Council would have her head.”
Moving to stand directly in front of Nora, Eric warned. “You are in her home. You attempted to touch me, her bonded. The penalty for that, per our contract, is death. Do you need any other type of warning Nora?”
Nora looked to her maker, Roman, for help and he responded, but not in the way she thought he would. “Nora, you are in the wrong here. Don’t press your luck; I don’t want you to die.” When he could see and feel his child was still fuming, Roman added. “Go wait in the car.” In a huff, Nora turned and left, slamming the front door behind her.
“Terrible twos?” Russell asked Roman playfully.
“She’s spoiled by my position on the Council.” He turned to Sookie. “I’ll speak with her after our business here is done. You won’t have any further problems with her.”
“Thank you Roman.”
With a final nod, concluding the unpleasantness from his child, Roman offered, “We need to get your guards sorted out; then plan for our meeting at the palace.”
Eric smiled. “Suddenly, I’m looking forward to that meeting beyond getting Pamela back.”
Russell smiled with him. “I bet you are. How you tolerated working for that spoiled brat for so long, I’ll never understand.”
“Loyalty Russell; when I pledge loyalty, I mean it.”
“Then the Council is pleased to have that loyalty now.”
Eric moved to the next delicate topic. “And since you have my loyalty, I trust my bonded’s talent is something that will be kept quiet?” He turned to focus on Roman and the Council Head nodded. “Then we have a situation.”
“Details?” Roman was all business.
“Compton saw Sookie use her light; his maker was killed by it.” He took Sookie’s hand. “I’ve promised my bonded that I won’t allow Compton to speak of it.”
“He is gagged now?” Eric nodded. “So the plan is to keep him gagged, deal with Sophie-Anne, and then Compton is yours.”
“Thank you Roman. Giving Bill to us,” Eric gestured to himself, Thalia and Barry, “is a nice gift.”
“Consider it a sign-on bonus.”
After greeting their assigned guards, the group planned their meeting at the palace. Sookie was surprised she and Barry were not asked to leave the room when the topic of Sophie-Anne’s replacement came up – especially given the names being proposed. Roman clarified Sookie and Barry’s roles. “I know my child mentioned that you are both employees and likened your position to that of our technical staff. First, I want you to know that the Council holds its employees in high regard, regardless of the species. Every staff member for the Council is picked for their special talent. Second, and for both of you this is very important, your role as part of Eric’s team is critical to the survival of vampires and other supernaturals as they make plans to come out. What you offer us is vital for identifying threats and finding ways to dispose of the threats without unnecessary violence. To that end, you and Barry will be part of strategy discussions. If we didn’t trust you with this information, you wouldn’t have contracts with us.”
Sookie thanked Roman for clarifying and remained in the room for the planning. She’d been quiet about all the details of Sophie-Anne’s demise until she heard Russell speak about life in Louisiana after the Queen was gone. “A Council accountant will be needed to review her books.”
Roman concurred. “It’s possible the palace will need to be inventoried. She’s far behind on her Council tributes, claiming she’s thrown money into the New Orleans rebuild, but after touring the area I don’t see where her money was ‘thrown’. She’s got to have something hidden somewhere.”
“It’s years of extravagant spending I’m afraid,” Eric offered. “Parties, donors, entertainment; all things you can’t sell now to recoup.”
“We’ll leave the palace standing for her replacement, but her other properties will be sold.” Roman smiled. “It’s not like she’ll miss anything from the palace where she’s going.”
“Eric?” Sookie’s voice broke into the conversation.
“Hadley?” She didn’t want to give away too much by saying anything more than her cousin’s name.
“Yes. I’ve given this some thought. I’m pretty sure we can convince Russell to take her as a pet.”
Russell started shaking his head. “I don’t know who Hadley is, but I’m pretty sure that’s a woman’s name. I don’t do women, you both know this.”
Eric pushed. “Not even a part fairy?” Russell’s eyebrows rose. “A part fairy needing protection from others as well as herself. A former Queen’s pet who would enjoy sitting around, being pampered in exchange for her blood?”
“What’s the catch?”
“She’s my cousin and she sold me out, but my Gran would have my hide for not ensuring her safety. If you want to enjoy her blood, I’m putting my trust in you to keep her entertained while she’s essentially locked up. Keep others from abusing her, and the most important part, keep her the hell away from me.”
Access to fairy blood – even part fairy blood – was too good an offer to pass up and Russell smiled. “I think we have a deal.”
“Thank you Russell.” She addressed the room in general. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to change for the meeting.”
“Sookie, don’t worry about the wardrobe guidelines tonight.” He took her hand. “We don’t answer to her.”
“I can’t go dressed in jeans; I must change. Don’t worry though; I’m not wearing the dress that was originally purchased to honor the Queen’s request. I’m wearing the one you like best, the black one.”
“You mean the one?” His hand moved down his chest and stopped midway between his neck and belly button. She nodded. His mouth hung open for a moment while he processed what she’d told him. When he picked out the dress online, she was quite emphatic that he could order it, but she was never wearing anything with cleavage that low. “I thought you weren’t going to wear it?”
“It’s the latest and most expensive all black designer gown. What are the chances she’s seen it and knows she’ll never look as good in it as I do?” She winked as she left the room.
Eric’s laughter caused some confusion to the other men, so he explained. “Sookie is never concerned about fashion; she’s planning to enjoy tonight as much as possible. On top of the fact that she’s right about filling the dress better, the Queen has informed us that she is wearing all black tonight. Sookie’s gown and my tie were to be light blue. She wants everyone in attendance to coordinate. My little Sookie is defying the Queen.”
“The Queen has colors for meetings?” Russell was dumbfounded. “I’m the gay one and I don’t have colors for meetings.”
“She does, or rather she did. Sookie is making a huge statement by showing up in the same color as Sophie-Anne.”
“This meeting just gets better and better.” Roman laughed with everyone.
“Oh, there’s more. I recently won an auction bid for something special. My bonded resists spoiling. If I tell her how much the Queen will covet a certain pair of earrings, she will be more accepting.” He paused. “Actually, I think I’ll present them to her in front of both of you. I’ll be safer that way.”
Roman smirked. “You found quite the treasure in Sookie.”
“Indeed. I’ll be back in a moment gentlemen.” Hoping to get a glimpse of Sookie in her gown, Eric nodded and hurried to don his black suit. When he arrived, however, Sookie was hogging the bathroom for her prep. He dawdled for a moment after he dressed, but she hadn’t emerged after a while so he returned to the others and waited patiently.
His knees almost gave out when he saw her. So many words to describe her passed through his head: sexy, confident, elegant, and poised to name a few. He settled on one to express to his bonded. “Sookie. You. Are. Stunning.” He leaned over to kiss her blushing cheek then presented a jewelry box.
With her hands on her hips she used a scolding tone to ask, “What did you do?”
“Eliane enjoyed phone bidding at a Christie’s Auction. Open it.”
“What’s wrong with the Harry Winston jewels that I wore to the palace before?”
“Sophie-Anne already saw those. I don’t want her to doubt your place.”
“You know, I felt your hesitation as you came out with that bologna. This box is small, so you couldn’t have done too much damage.” Eric had to contain his laughter. Sookie clearly had no idea how much ‘damage’ a pair of earrings could cause. There was a loud gasp as Sookie lifted the lid to the box, but it wasn’t from her; it was Russell. Sookie gave him a puzzled look. “Why are you gasping at my earrings?”
Russell was dumbfounded for a moment. “Those.” He pointed to the box. “Those . . . do you know what those are?”
Eric apologized. “I originally purchased sapphires to match your light bl . . .”
Russell interrupted, “Not just sapphires, the Richelieu Sapphires.” Russell finally closed his gaped mouth and turned to Eric. “You won?”
Eric smiled. “I did.”
“What are you both going on about?”
Russell very seriously answered. “I want your bonded to turn gay so he can be my sugar daddy.” He turned back to Eric. “Do you have your eye out for the Graff Pink for an engagement ring?”
Eric changed the topic quickly; he didn’t want to be speaking about marriage and engagements in front of everyone, yet. “Unfortunately, we need to get moving. Lover, put your earrings in and we’ll go.”
As Sookie fiddled with her earrings, Roman asked one last time, “Any questions on our approach to the meeting at the palace?” He waited a moment and received no questions. “We’ll be on our way then.”
Sookie and Eric were excited for the meeting. Sophie-Anne’s reaction was going to be priceless and they couldn’t wait. A large van was in their street, already running, and waiting to move. As they approached the vehicles, Eric explained the procession to Sookie. “Compton, Russell’s sheriff and Amelia are in the van. We’re going in the limo behind that one with our new guards, Thalia, and Barry. Roman and Russell will follow.”
“What happens to the prisoners when we arrive?”
“Compton will come in with us; the others will be held in the van until Russell and Roman arrive and we start the fun with Sophie-Anne.”
“Amelia. . .”
“Won’t be hurt. Remember, we’re keeping hold of her as a witness. She knows she will be free after this.”
“Thank you.” Sookie fidgeted in her seat. “We’re sure it’s best for us to go in first? Without Russell and Roman?”
“Sophie-Anne will pitch a fit but we aren’t going anywhere without our new guards; she won’t be able to do anything. Remember, Russell and Roman will join us as soon as we’re in court.” She still seemed hesitant so he added, “Lover, this is going to be fun. Not seeing Roman and Russell at first will allow the Queen to get even further in trouble.”
“Then I’ll focus on her face when we walk in.” The caravan was ready to head out so Sookie turned as the car started and sat still with her hands on her lap. Sookie wasn’t accustomed to unknown guards being so close. Her main vampire guard was seated on the long limo bench next to her and his presence stifled her desire to touch and flirt with Eric.
Eric felt her desire and guessed her dilemma. Like throwing someone in the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim, he pulled Sookie to his lap and started whispering to her and offering soft kisses. “I’m not going to stop paying attention to you because we have guards. They’ll need to get used to it.” He kissed her again. “As will you.”
He tortured her in the best way while they made their way to the main doors of the palace. When the door to Eric’s limo opened, two of the Council guards moved out first, checked the area, and then signaled for Eric. He helped Sookie out and the others followed. Bill was already standing on the sidewalk, gagged and in chains with two guards flanking him. The Berts met them in the doorway and immediately tried to stop the Council guards from entering. Eric’s Council guard cut off Sophie-Anne’s children. “We’re on orders from the Council. I don’t leave the Northman. The other guards are under Council orders as well. We go where they go.”
The Berts and Council guards continued to exchange words and threatening motions for several moments. Having heard the commotion, Andre joined everyone and caught up on the situation; Rasul standing quietly at his side.. “This is the Queen’s palace and you are not welcome. Her Majesty’s sheriff, his pet, and William Compton may pass through the doors.”
Without hesitation, Eric’s guard drew his sword and pushed it up under Andre’s head. “MOVE. ASIDE.” Andre backed off and they made their way to the lobby, but continued to ‘discuss’ what members of the party were going to be permitted in court.
Meanwhile, Sophie-Anne was waiting for Eric and the telepath to arrive. Knowing they had Compton, Pam had already been moved to court and was sitting quietly, mostly straining to hear what was happening outside the court doors. When the waiting went on too long, Sophie-Anne stood and headed to the voices. “What is going on out . . .” She stopped dead and took in the scene: a guard had hold of each of her children restrained while Eric, Sookie and the others waited to the side. The Queen screeched, “This is an OUTRAGE!”
Though still threatened by a guard, Andre agreed with his queen and maker. “Yes my Queen. Council will need to be notified of this situation. These guards are impersonating . . .”
“Not the guards you fool! The girl!” She pointed her finger at Sookie. “She went against my orders for tonight. She’s wearing my dress.”