Lemons, Fry Pans, Giraffes, willies? I don’t think so – not sure what kind of image would be needed before this. Just ah . . . enjoy?
Chapter 28 – Why would she do that?
“I can’t believe we’ve been out shopping this long.”
“Hunter and Johanna are fine, right?”
“They’ve got Gramma Fortenberry and Judge Harkem.” Bobby turned and raised a brow at Sookie. “Yep, he came over to help Gramma.”
“Will we be calling him Papaw soon?”
“They just had one date – I’ll give them a little more time before I start on that.”
“Fair enough.” He chuckled out. “So our last stop is the Educational Toy store?”
“I hope so, if they don’t have Legos, we have to stop at Target. I want to get Hunter a new set since I’ve got all this stuff for Celia. Jessica, do you need anything else?”
“Nope – just dying to get to that toy store.”
They got back in the car after packing the trunk with the purchases from the mall. Sookie never dreamed she’d be outfitting a nursery from Pottery Barn, but that’s where Bobby took her. She only picked a crib and linens for the hospital out of necessity. Since Celia would be sharing the space with Johanna and Hunter’s decorations, she selected a blue and pink pattern to bridge between Hunter’s blue bed and Johanna’s predominantly pink side of the room. Bobby called his resource for the wall vinyl and they selected a butterfly with her name. For the nursery at home, she gathered ideas and catalogs so she could start making selections with Eric.
“The drive to the toy store will take us by Fangtasia, do you mind if we stop in for the mail?”
“Not at all.”
They turned onto Fangtasia’s street and stopped almost immediately. “Bobby?”
He was already on his phone. “Mustapha, find out why there’s police activity near Fangtasia please.” Sookie heard the Were’s muffled voice then Bobby responded. “We’re stopped about three blocks back and can’t see the details.” . . . “What’s that?” . . . “Fire? Shit.” . . . “Yes, come right away.” He started maneuvering the car to the side of the road and explained. “It appears that some religious protestors started a fire at Fangtasia.”
Bobby just looked at her in surprise. He was well aware of what Pam had done and Sookie’s FIRST reaction was to get to her? “You are concerned for her?”
“Of course I am. Bobby – can’t you do something? Make sure she’s rescued before she burns?”
“I will. Stay here with Tony.”
“I’m coming with you.”
“Sookie . . . “
Tony who’d been along as a guard added his comments. “Sookie, I’ll take you to the hospital and come back for Bobby.”
“FORGET IT. Both of you. This is Eric’s child. I’m staying.” With a pointed look to Tony in the backseat, “You can just stay with me.”
By now Bobby had stopped the car and Sookie told Jessica she could stay back. Tony’s first priority was Sookie, so he encouraged the girl to stay with the car. “Jessica, it’ll be easier for me if I only have to watch one person. Can I get you to stay here?”
“Yeah, I’ll stay.”
The three approached the scene and Mustapha met up with them about a block away from Fangtasia in the wheelchair van. It did have two small windows in the back – but it was the best vehicle he could grab on short notice. Several Were on the police and fire squad helped them get up to the bar and Sookie gave out a strangled cry of fear at seeing the flames. Fangtasia and part of the store next to it were almost completely ablaze. Her panic at seeing sunlight streaming in grew until she started running. Sookie had one of her Gran’s quilts in her hands (she’d grabbed it from the car before they started walking towards Fangtasia) and she was ready to use it as a sun block if needed. The Fire Chief stopped her from getting closer. “Ma’am, back away.”
“My fiancés child is in there.”
“Somebody named Ginger told us there are no humans.”
“There are vampires at rest – we need to put out the fire and ensure they’re safe or rescue them from the burning building.”
“I’m not sending in human firemen to save vampires, I’m sorry Ma’am.” He pretended to look a little concerned but Sookie heard he was part of the group that set the bar on fire. He was suddenly pleased to hear there were vampires in the basement and as soon as he got this woman and her companions out of the area, he’d ensure they were killed.
She gave Bobby a serious look. “Deal with the Chief please. I’m going in.” Sookie was running as she spoke with Mustapha and Tony close on her heals. Knowing Mustapha could hear her, when they stopped she whispered into his ear, “The Chief was in on the fire; he’s pleased he gets to kill some vampires on top of damaging the business.” Mustapha nodded his understanding.
Meanwhile Bobby stopped the Chief from following her. “Chief, Bobby Burnham, one of Fangtasia’s owners.” It was only a 5% ownership but it gave him the authority he needed for situations just like this.
“How are you out in the day?”
“Uh, human here?”
“And you own this place?”
“I’m a part owner for just this very reason. I stand in for the main bar owners for issues during the day.” He frowned. “In fact, I should have been notified. . . “
The chief interrupted. “I’m trying to put out a fire, not make phone calls.”
“Agreed. The alarm company should have reached me automatically. That’s something I’ll need to investigate.”
When Bobby had said that last part, he noticed a flash of panic on the chief’s face before he continued. “We got a call to 911 from a passerby. No alarm system or the sprinklers went off. Enough about the alarms, you better get that woman out of here before I have her arrested.”
“I noticed that after you were told the vampires were at risk, you did nothing to stop the exposure, you were more concerned that I was out in the daylight. She’s trying to save lives.”
“You can’t save the dead.” Bobby didn’t bother responding to that comment and instead got the chief talking about what had been done so far. He had the Chief’s attention right now and that would only help Sookie with her quest to save Pam with Tony and Mustapha. He wanted very much to see how they were doing, but he resisted even looking over the Chief’s shoulder thinking it would remind the man that Bobby was just keeping him occupied.
Meanwhile, Sookie led the two Weres towards Fangtasia and they managed to gather two firemen to help along the way. The bar was still clearly on fire and Sookie wasn’t sure if they should focus on putting it out and or rescuing the vampires. Thalia, she recalled from Eric, stayed in a room that was fireproof – so they wouldn’t attempt to get to her unless it looked breeched. Pam and the others in the cells looked to be at risk.
Sookie turned to the firemen. “Well guys, can you put this out before burning the lower level.”
“I don’t think so Ma’am. We have to decide to let them burn or rescue them.”
“Mustapha, do you know where any of them are – even approximately?”
“I know we can get down there via two separate sets of stairs. One set’s in Eric’s office which may be ah . . . less on fire than the main bar area since they threw their incendiaries through the front windows.”
“Let’s go around back then.”
Mustapha cursed. “Shit, Bobby has keys.”
“I do too – no worries.”
“Well, give them here, you’re staying OUTSIDE.”
As instructed she handed over the keys and said, “Trade ya. I’ll pull the van up here so we can put them right in.”
“Fair enough. Tony – go with her.”
“No, you need Tony. I’m just driving the van over.” The tone she used left no room for argument. She started to walk then turned around. “OH! When you get to the office, I need duct tape to cover the windows with cardboard as much as possible.” He had a puzzled look on his face. “Top right drawer of the desk.”
They split up and with the help of the other Weres; Sookie was able to maneuver the van to the back of Fangtasia. Eric might need to pay for some fixed landscaping and such from the businesses she plowed over to get there. There might also be a few dings on the van – might. Just as she reached the back, Mustapha and Tony were upstairs with an intact coffin which they loaded quickly into the van. As they went for another, Sookie started taping cardboard from the recycle bin out back to the windows in the van. Two firemen came up with another coffin but were called to the front to help; the building was getting ready to collapse. As Mustapha turned to go back, there was a loud crack and a spike in the fire. Sookie ran towards the building to see part of a wall had fallen and the floor had collapsed in one section. From her position, she could see coffins under the debris. “Mustapha, I see coffins under all that. Can you get back in?”
He peered into the office. “I don’t know.”
With tears in her eyes she nodded to him. “She might be in the van.”
“We don’t know that yet. You want me to try don’t you?” She shrugged her shoulders not wanting to ask but at the same time not wanting to tell Eric they got other vampires out but not his Pam.
He paused and took in Sookie’s expression. “I’ll go Sookie.” Mustapha couldn’t believe that after what Pam had done, Sookie wanted her saved. For Sookie, he would try. Certainly, he was not doing it for Pam.
The first coffin was pretty damaged and Sookie draped a blanket over it while they moved it to the van. Once in the van, Mustapha returned to the burning building while Tony waited up top for him to call that he had the last coffin. While she waited, Sookie wrapped the damaged coffin in cardboard and duct tape. She had peeked in and knew from the dark hair and eyes that glanced at her briefly; this was not Pam. It took several minutes but Tony heard Mustapha yell he got to the coffin and it was Pam; the top had split. He reported this to Sookie and she looked to the sky – the sun was still shining. She grabbed the quilt again so she could cover the coffin as she did before. As soon as Mustapha approached Eric’s office door, she threw the blanket over the coffin and adjusted it but not before she saw that the split in the top of the coffin had caused a deep red burn and smoke – luckily nothing else. For a brief moment, Pam’s eyes opened and they met Sookie’s then quickly closed. She was in the van and safe. Sookie enveloped Mustapha and Tony in huge hugs of thanks and asked Tony to stay until Thalia rose to ensure nobody broke in. He agreed of course. Once she knew Thalia was fine, Mustapha moved Sookie to the van to transport the vampires. Tony met up with Bobby, gave him an update and Bobby left to return Jessica to the hospital.
As Mustapha maneuvered the van out of the area, he asked Sookie about next steps. “Ok Sookie, can you get me into Eric’s warehouse?”
“No, but I do have access to his largest home and there’s a multi bay garage – no windows – it’ll have to do. Besides, the warehouse is having construction done right now. I don’t think that’s the best option.” She thought for a moment then added. “We need to get some guards over there. I mean, we found four vampires but they were all incarcerated – we can’t let them out.” Mustapha was about to respond when Sookie’s phone rang. She saw it was Eric and answered quickly.
“Why have you not you been answering?! Gods Sookie!”
She could hear he sounded upset. “ERIC?! It’s 2PM how are you up?”
“You are so upset about something it woke me. I have been calling for thirty minutes. Maxine knew of the fire from Jessica but now that I called Maxine saying I could not reach you I have her upset. Ludwig is trying to calm her down.”
Hearing Ludwig’s name gave Sookie an idea and she shouted to Mustapha – “Oh my God – we should take them to Ludwig’s to secure them.” He nodded and she returned to the phone.
“TAKE WHO!? Sookie – explain NOW.” She worked hard to not react – he had no idea what was going on; she would have been panicked too.
“We had to go rescue the vampires in the basement of Fangtasia. I left Thalia since you said her section was fire tight. Pam’s coffin was cracked but she’s fine. I saw her eyes briefly and she went out again.”
“I thought I felt her rise. Where is she?”
“In the back of the wheelchair van. I covered the windows just in case.”
“You got four coffins out?”
“It was best to leave Thalia though some human may try to breach her area.”
“I left Tony there to guard her.”
His near hysteria was starting to subside now that he had some answers. “Sookie, I’m sorry I yelled.”
“Eric, I understand. I was helping as best I could with the rescue. With trying to get everyone safe, I haven’t even thought of my phone until you just called now.”
“Call me after the coffins are at Ludwig’s. I need Mustapha’s help with something as well.”
“Will do. So you’re up now for the night?”
“Yes, this has happened, though rarely, before. I’m getting a shower.”
“I’ll call you shortly.”
“Doing that right now.”
She hung up and dialed Maxine as she promised.
“Sookie, is that you?!”
“Yes, we’re fine. It’s a very long story but we’re all fine. I’ll see you soon. Is Ludwig around?”
“’Hol on, she was just outside the door on her phone.”
Sookie could hear Maxine getting the doctor’s attention. “Sookie, your vampire is panicked and he managed to scare Maxine. I had to give the woman something to calm down.”
“He’s fine. Look, I’m coming in with four coffins, can we get them secure?”
She went right into medical mode. “Injuries?”
“Pam has some burns – just red – and some smoke was coming out of the crack in her coffin. Same with another coffin – I don’t know who she is. She looked less burned though.”
“Ok, who’s driving?”
“Have him come round to the back ramp, he knows where that is; you can drive directly in and out of the sun for the transport. I’ll meet you there. How long?”
“Two blocks now.”
“On my way.”
The transfer was easy since Ludwig had raised dollies for moving coffins. Sookie called Eric after Pam was secure in a light tight room. “Hi. Everyone’s secure.”
“Thank you. I’m at the house across the street. Can you put Mustapha on? I want him to transport me.”
“Is that safe?”
“Yes, I have a coffin here; he’ll need some extra muscle to get it up the stairs though.”
“ERIC! I don’t mind Mustapha knowing where you rest, but not the extra muscle. You can be here in a minute after the sun sets.”
He sighed and realized he just needed to talk directly to the Were. “Put Mustapha on.”
“No, and I’m telling him I’ll never forgive him if he talks to you and agrees to your hair-brained plan.”
He truly didn’t think counting to a million would calm him down but he needed to try. Sookie was concerned for him, not trying to be stubborn. She’d spent the afternoon helping to rescue four vampires – prisoners – from death. In an attempt to respond to her without barking he pinched the bridge of his nose and imagined the worried look on her face. “Sookie, I love that you’re worried, I do. What you have in those coffins are four vampire prisoners. Two of them are lunatics. If they get out, it could be a disaster since they’re starved. I must be there when they wake. Ludwig’s facility is very secure, I know this but I am the sheriff; I need to ensure we don’t have an incident.” As luck would have it, he heard Hoyt in the background. Now he had a new plan. “Sookie, I hear Hoyt. Is it acceptable for Hoyt to help Mustapha?”
“Of course, but are the two of them enough? You are heavy.” He could feel her mirth, much better.
“Are you calling me fat?”
“No dear. If I was calling you anything it’d be OLD.” She giggled, glad their tiff was over – well it really wasn’t; circumstances changed. “I’ll put Mustapha on. Maybe you can carry the coffin up and run for it fast at the top of the stairs.”
“That might work. I’ll see you soon.” Oh she knew he was right about that – she was going with the boys to help with this transfer. No way was this happening without her supervision.
“Ok, love you.”
“Love you more.”
He knew she was there, his stubborn fairy, before he heard her calling from the door to the chamber. “Honey I’m home.”
He met her in the sitting area of their chamber and attacked her with kisses. “I could feel you coming closer; you didn’t need to come for this.”
“But then we wouldn’t be kissing right now.”
“Or doing this.” He pulled his hand out and gave her a good slap in the butt. “Naughty girl, telling me no.”
She gasped and leveled a slap of her own. “Bad boy, endangering your resting place.”
They both laughed. “At least we’re even.”
“Yeah, except now were both evenly horny with two men upstairs waiting to transport you in your coffin.”
“I know and the whole night is likely going to be busy now.”
“We should rethink our quickie policy.”
“You could be onto something.” He gave her another almost desperate kiss then pulled back. “But now, we need to get moving. I like your idea of my running for the coffin. I’ll get pink, but not that bad.”
“I’m glad you like it, I have Hoyt and Mustapha covering the windows in the kitchen now to reduce the sunlight as much as possible.”
“You’re very clever. I should take back the slap. Maybe I should just kiss it better?”
The whole operation only took 30 minutes since they borrowed a dollie from Ludwig and Eric carried the coffin to the kitchen level for Hoyt and Mustapha. At Ludwig’s, Eric was able to just get out of the coffin right in the van since she had the whole light tight area for vampires. Eric hated that he was in the same building as Hunter and couldn’t see him until the vampire situation was secure. He didn’t want the boy on the vampire level – or Sookie either. He also sent a very pouty Sookie back upstairs with his clothes and her Gran’s quilt that had covered Pam as well then worked with Ludwig and Mustapha to air out the lower level of her scent. Bobby left to get new coffins and a new outfit for Eric that didn’t smell of Sookie (as much).
Liam and Mickey were the first two vampires to rise and since their coffins were undamaged, they really had no idea that anything had happened. Eric simply opened their coffins, informed them that Fangtasia had been compromised and that they would be moved to a new location with enhanced security. Neither said anything and their coffin lids were lowered. Pamela and the other female vampire woke when the sun actually set. Since she was still under a silence command, Pam just looked at Eric while he spoke to the other vampire. Tori was a relatively new vampire, less than 20, and she only had a month left on her sentence for public feeding. Eric explained what had occurred and was about to shut the lid when she asked, “Who was the woman from before? I woke very briefly as saw someone wrapping my coffin and she smelled wonderful.”
“That was a friend and she worked with a few Weres to save you.”
“Well, please thank the Weres and her for me.”
“I will Tori. See you in a month.”
Before releasing Pam from her silence, he pulled her from the coffin and moved to a section much farther away. Sookie was going to be discussed and he didn’t want the other vampires to hear anything.
“You may speak.”
She was nothing but a bloody mess of tears for several minutes, tears of anger over her punishment, tears of fear over what little she saw of today’s events and tears for something else, an emotion Eric felt that gave him hope: Tears of shame. When she’d calmed he told her about the fire at Fangtasia. “Bobby and Sookie were driving by the bar while out today and they were stopped by police activity. They pulled over and had to force their way to the bar. Bobby distracted the fire chief while Sookie met up with Mustapha and with help rescued all four vampires from the fire. Mustapha and the Were went back into the building that was on fire to pull all of you out. Your coffin was last and part of the main floor fell on it before Mustapha pulled you out. That’s why you were burned.”
“I woke for that part. I saw her . . . I saw Sookie. She covered my coffin with a blanket at least I think so. I went right back out after that.”
“Why. Why would she do that? I tried to have her kill her son.”
“She did it because she loves me.”
Pam was struggling with this information and she tried to spin it. “Well, it was Mustapha I guess and this other Were you mentioned. I mean, I appreciate that she stayed and covered my coffin, but I know she would have preferred that I die.”
“That couldn’t be further from the truth Pam. Bobby and Mustapha both told me that they would have left you there – especially Mustapha after the floor fell in on top of you. They are both quite fond of Sookie and know what you did. It was Sookie that pushed for the rescue. Though we do owe Mustapha and Tony for your life.”
“But why did she push to have me rescued?”
“It’s something I need you to really think about Pam. You will be placed in a new coffin and a when it’s ready, a new secure location to finish out your sentence. Now you really have something to chew on while you wait for your year to be up. What she did was selfless Pam. While she didn’t do the lifting, she helped to save YOU because she loves ME.”
“I love you too.”
“I know. She loves me enough to SHARE me; not just keep me to herself though.”
Pam was quiet for a moment while she took in his words. “She doesn’t want me gone?” He shook his head no. “She’s willing for both of us to be part of your life?”
“Not just the two of you – but kids too.”
“Kids – with an S?”
“Not vampire children?”
“Not at the moment, no.”
“And this sharing, it’s important to you?”
“I’ve never shared before.”
“That’s obvious.” She tried to make an angry face at his words, but they were too true to keep up the pretense. “Will you try?”
“I won’t be part of your life if I don’t, will I?”
“Correct, you will live near me but locked up. You’re not ready to be on your own either.”
“I don’t know if I can, but I’m willing to try.”
“That makes me very happy Pamela.” He kissed her head.
“I don’t know that I’ll ever actually like her though.”
“If you don’t hate her I’ll call it progress. You don’t like Karin either.”
“Karin doesn’t know how to dress.”
They smiled for a brief second before he spoke. “I wish it hadn’t come to this for you to start viewing things differently.”
“I . . I’m starting to understand that Eric. I’m sorry.” That sorry was genuine – he felt her regret and remorse through the bond. ‘Maybe there’s hope for Pam,’ he thought but did not ruin the chat by saying it out loud. “Will you tell me about them now? Sookie, the children?”
“We have some time since your coffin is not here yet. Of course you met Sookie briefly, she took in Hunter as a baby . . . “ For several minutes he gave Pam a brief overview of Sookie and Hunter’s life. Pam watched as her Maker’s normally stoic face softened and brightened when he spoke of this boy – his son now. Her jealousy did flare but she worked to control it – and while he felt the jealousy he also felt her fighting for control and was proud of the attempt so he did not admonish her for the envy. Likely, he believed, she would have more difficulty with controlling her feelings over Celia and again, he would let her work through it. Today’s events had helped her make progress and he knew he couldn’t expect an immediate turnaround in one night.
“So you said kids – who is the other child?”
“Well, before I explain that, I need to give you more background on the foster system, specifically this case worker I already mentioned. She wasn’t just taking advantage of Hunter’s situation. There are 17 kids around the state that she set up with minimal to completely uninvolved foster parents – paper signers only if you will. She also created fake foster children and collected from their foster parents. It was all for money. These kids have been neglected, some for years.”
“And people call vampires the monsters.”
“She’s been arrested, as have all the foster parents that were part of the fraud. During the investigation, a baby girl was brought to my attention. Sookie is adopting her and we plan to raise her with Hunter – together as a family.”
“A baby.” It wasn’t really a question, more her trying to work through it in her head. “How will Sophie-Anne feel about all this? You can’t keep an entire family hidden Eric.”
“I’m not raising them here.”
“Your contract . . .”
“Will be fine since I included the ability to substitute someone from my blood line.”
Pam knew immediately it wasn’t her. “Karin is coming?”
“Yes. She’ll be here in March.” It was unspoken; the reason he needed to call Karin instead of having Pam serve. “You will be coming with me. It will be your choice whether you live with us, or spend the years I raise my family locked away.”
“You would do that?”
“After you complete your sentence I’ll remove you from your coffin and get you bagged blood but if you haven’t proven to me that you can be trusted, you will be locked up until my human children are older.”
“I don’t want to be locked up. I just don’t know how quickly I can make this adjustment you need.”
“Pamela, your feelings today, your realization that I need you to share is a good first step. Instead of your staying in the coffin for a year, I propose we spend a few hours a month like this, talking, so perhaps you will be ready when the year is up.”
“I . . . I appreciate the chance Eric. I . . . This is hard.” She struggled for a moment. “I realize you could have killed me and the opportunity to adjust is worth more to me than any other gift. Thank you.”
He could feel the sincerity of her words. “And Pamela, that is why I think you’ll make the adjustment.” With a head tilt he announced. “I hear Bobby with your new coffin and my clothes; I’ll carry you back to where you and the others will be kept until our new holding area is ready. The legal situation with the bar needs my attention. I’ll stop back before dawn.”
“That would be nice Master.”
Eric spent the rest of the night with Bobby dealing with the fire at Fangtasia. Since Sookie told him what she knew from the Fire Chief’s involvement he used an opportunity to quickly glamour the man to learn more and sent a text to Mustapha with possible methods of finding evidence against the man. That situation would be handled quickly he knew. Of course, given that his Sheriff office and some prisoners were involved, he needed to call the Queen. He spoke to Andre and the Queen also wanted a word with him.
“Eric, the fire was over several hours ago and you’re just calling me now?”
He gritted his teeth and responded. “Your majesty, I apologize for the delay. I was detained first by ensuring the safety of the vampires I was holding in Fangtasia’s basement; then I was needed at a meeting with the local authorities. As you know, I’ve built many relationships here and they are all anxious to help me by finding the guilty parties. It was a vampire hate crime. You did get the chance to see me on the news working with my human counterparts, yes?”
Her argument deflated a bit. She simply hated any bad publicity but Eric’s words reminded her that he was the victim – the vampire victim here – and she snapped out of her earlier animosity. “You’re right, of course Eric. We need to use this as an opportunity; I applaud the use of the press to gain sympathy. The timing is perfect as you established yourself as a local hero with that foster scandal.”
He was shocked but then again, it would be the Queen to only think of this as an opportunity. People – his own child – almost died, in a final way. “Your majesty, I used the press to aid in justice, I’m not prepared to think of this as an opportunity right now.”
“Yes, I would guess not since you had your own child locked away. Something that shocked me to tell the truth. Seems a steep penalty for a glamour incident.”
“I used the opportunity to teach Pam a lesson while demonstrating how seriously I take the need to live by our council’s rules Sophie-Anne.”
“Of course you do. Well, that will be all Eric. I expect to be informed when the prisoners are moved again. Brilliant idea to store them at Ludwig’s while your new cells are being constructed. You have quite loyal and resourceful day people available to you.”
“Thank you, your majesty; I do have a quality staff.” His answer was cordial, his thoughts were not. ‘As you could if you only treated people decently. Not that I’m getting into that with you right now.’
He returned to Pam about two hours before dawn and updated her on the bar and the investigation quickly. As he mentioned earlier, he promised to meet with her a few hours a month during her sentence and Pam looked forward to the next time he opened the lid to the coffin. “I’m closing you in now, anything to say before I put you back under the command of silence?”
She answered yes immediately then thought through her words for a second before deciding simple was probably best. “Tell Sookie and the Weres I said thank you.”