Secrets & Surprises
Tuesday, January 5th…
When I started stirring at around 8am I snuggled up to my Viking. It’s not something I would usually mention since I find myself doing it automatically now. The part worth mentioning is that he snuggled back. As I rolled over and pulled myself over to put my head on his shoulder and fling an arm and a leg over him, he rolled over and enveloped me.
I sent to him: “Eric?”
“Good morning lover.”
“Yeah, Good morning. Eric, when you ‘rest’ for the day don’t usually move do you?”
“No I die. I wake up in the same spot as I was in at dawn. Why?”
“Because you just rolled over to snuggle me.”
After a long while, “Are you sure?”
“Oh, yeah. When I woke I stretched and went to wrap around you but you beat me to it. You went as far as to rub against me. Can you try to move.” It was slow, but he did. He rolled over onto his back. When he did I climbed on top of him to straddle him and hugged his chest. He managed to wrap his arms around my back.
“This is an interesting situation. The only reason I awoke in Rhodes was because you filled the bond with fear and determination. It was self preservation. I’m still unsure how it happened.” He slowly started to stroke my back.
“Well, I’m sure you aren’t going to be going out to cut the lawn or anything. Are you conscious of your body? Are you numb or heavy? What does it feel like?”
“I feel… maybe like walking out of a pool. Like the air is thick, maybe.”
“It’s nice that I can snuggle you for a little bit when I rise. I do it anyway, but part of me feels like it’s necrophilia. Not a problem right now though”
He chuckled out loud.“Lover, I think we can do more than snuggle.” He moved his hips against mine.
“So it seems.” And we did just that. I slowly made love to my mentally alert vampire at 8am! We did snuggle for a while later and enjoyed some mental pillow talk including that I should go shopping for something nice for Angela to wear to Fangtasia and call Cheap Seats to find out which night she has off and if there is time, I should try to find some more of ‘those’ movies.
I got out of bed around 9am. I took a quick shower and since Alcide wasn’t awake, I went to the grocery store and farmers market. The premade meals were great, but if Alcide was going to be around, I would enjoy having someone to cook for. I finally got back to the house and unloaded the groceries and all of the other stuff that had been stashed in the trunk.
I felt Alcide’s brain engage while I was putting everything away and then heard him start the shower. So I threw a couple of steaks in a skillet (I brought it from home- sure I could have bought a new one, but Gran’s had several decades of seasoning) and kicked it into high gear trying to get everything put away while I made breakfast.
I was tossing the berries together when I heard him come down the stairs at about 11:00. I plated our food; rare steak, 3fried eggs, and mixed berries with honey and whipped cream. I had set the bar for 2 places and I poured us both a cup of coffee in the new mugs from the festival. I was grabbing the cream and tobasco when he came around the corner. “Mornin’, Rip!” (as in VanWinkle.)
His eyes widened and nostrils flared. “Mornin’ Shug. You’ve been busy.”
I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and grabbed his hand to tow him to the bar. “I must be a masochist. Not only am I a morning person, but I love cooking!” We sat down and he bent over his plate and breathed it in and sighed.
“Hmmm, I love it when you make breakfast.” Then he dug in.
“Well then it seems like you have the perfect set up, well we do.” He was too busy chewing to do anything but look puzzled. “Well if you’re going to be in a relationship with a vampire, it’s awesome to have a ‘day-mate’. Eric’s been calling you my ‘day guy’ for the last few days. He used to call you my Were.”
“Does it bother you two that Pam and I are always around? It doesn’t seem like you two get any alone time.”
“If we want some, you’ll know. The other night, we were talking and he said that he loved the 4 of us hanging out. He likes how we all get along. And I think, with you and Pam kinda being together now their dynamic has changed a little. I think he likes being social with her as opposed to having to keep up the maker/child/business partner thing all the time.”
I had gobbled down my food and Alcide was savoring his. I grabbed the coffee pot and gave us both a refill then went to the downstairs bathroom and grabbed a smoothing brush and a pony tail holder to do his hair while it was still damp. When I got back Alcide was just finishing up.
He picked up the conversation like I hadn’t left the room, “It’s almost weird” I started playing with his hair and it was like we had been doing exactly this every morning for years. “That a year ago, we were all on different pages. I wasn’t happy with just being your friend, Pam and I never would have looked at each other, Eric never would have let me dance with you let alone do what we did last night at the bar. You and Pam get on together like college roomies, Eric and I hang out like old buddies. Our vampires might as well have been married, but look at us. You made me breakfast and we’re sitting in the kitchen and you’re brushing my hair. It feels like we’ve been doing this forever. Don’t get me wrong…”
“Alcide, I was just thinking that.” Something felt, not off, but like it fit too well.
I sent: “Eric, Pam, were you listening in on that?”
Eric: “I was. I have to say, I have been thinking similarly since the night before last when your brother told us about our reputation as “the round table”. That we have all suddenly tuned into the same channel. And within our group no matter how we pair off, we complement each other, work together cohesively.”
Pam picked up: “… Like we were always meant to be together. We seem very comfortable.”
Me: “Pam, when did you start picking up on that?”
Pam: “The other night after your cookout. Eric said that he trusted Alcide. I have never heard those words come out of his mouth. The next night was so surreal that I couldn’t help but think about it. Master, in light of this… common observance, would I be in the way if I were to stay here more often.”
Eric: “I was about to suggest that. I can’t help but think other things might be going on. Maybe keeping the team together is not a bad idea. Mutt, that includes you. Would it be inconvenient for you to hang your hat here?”
Alcide: “It would be no problem at all. Are you sure?”
Eric: “As long as you’re housebroken.” We all laughed at that.
I added: “Something else…Have you guys noticed that no one has balked? Weres and vampires neither one have had a reaction to us being “mixed company”. The other night at the cookout, no one looked at Eric twice, at the club after, no one noticed that Eric smelled like a Were after all the wrestling y’all did, and last night same thing. Even Quinn, didn’t react to that. He was assuming I fuck you all and tried to figure out who caught and who pitched.” Alcide blushed and shook his head and the ‘line’ was flooded with Pam’s laughter and soon mine. But they all agreed that it was another thing to add to the list.
Eric: “Speaking of which. Publically, we should consider a bit of a ruse. Several individuals saw you and Alcide together last night and we should prepare ourselves for gossip.”
Me: “We might just be better served to not deny the rumors. Let them think what they want. Weres don’t respect Vampire and vice versa, but if both breeds think you two are sharing us, me in particular, the myth could be a deterrent. A Were wouldn’t challenge Eric because they know they’d lose, but would still flirt. Their respect for Alcide would prevent that. A Vampire might have designs on me, but if they think Eric and Alcide are close enough to share me, they’d have to question how safe their resting places are to make an advance since a whole pack would be after them.” Everyone agreed without hesitating, making me really question things.
Eric: “So what are the day walkers doing today?”
Alcide: “I need to stop by the office and pick up my laptop so I can track my contracts and I guess I’ll go home and get some clothes.”
I added: “I have a couple of errands to run. Angela’s night off is tonight so I left her a message that when she rises there will be an outfit waiting for her and to be at the club at 9:00. I am buying the two of us matching dresses so that there is a visual connection to your ownership.”
Eric: “That is a brilliant idea!”
Me: “I want to get to the club before it opens. I want to discuss something with you and Pam.”
Eric: “I’m intrigued. Will you give me a hint?”
Eric: “So I can parade Angela around, we can dance with her for a while and call it an early night. Maybe watch a movie.” He tried to ignore that I told him no.
Me: “Not too early. I’m expecting company at the bar around 10:00. But he’ll only hang out for an hour.”
Eric: “Sookie, I have never been too fond of surprises. And two in one evening might not put me in a great mood.”
Me: “Suck it up vampire. I can promise, as far as I know, nothing unwelcome will darken your door. You will be quite pleased. And then we can come home and watch a movie. K”
Eric: “It seems like I have no choice but to suck it up, Lover.”
I laughed: “I love you. Hey Pammy, you think Angela is a 4 dress 6 shoe?
Pam: “Definitely a 4, but I’d say she needs a 5.”
I thanked her and then I ended the “call”.
“So, now that you’re all pretty, wanna go shopping with me and we can swing by your place and get some of your things?”
“Sounds like a solid plan.” So we went out to the car and headed out, Alcide, behind the wheel.
Since Alcide was wearing Eric’s sweats and t-shirt, his house was our first stop. I went straight to his closet and grabbed a pair of jeans, red muscle shirt and long sleeve brown corduroy shirt while he dug underwear out of his dresser. I went out to the garage where he kept his suitcase while he changed. I got back while he was pulling up his pants and I jokingly gave him a wolf whistle. I put the suitcase on his bed and I packed from his closet and he packed from his dresser. I cleaned out his fridge and left the bag by the front door then went to his laundry room and folded the stuff he left in his dryer and then went back to his room where he was done packing his shaving kit and garment bag and had his shoes laid out on his bed.
We went out to the car, I carried his garment bag and the bag of garbage. He carried his suitcase and shoe bag. We had done it all very autonomously. We got back into the car and realized that we had only been inside for 15 minutes. We looked at each other and said at the same time, “That was easier than I thought it’d be.” We squinted at each other and then it happened again. “We should shop first… so that you/I can get the dress out of the way.” I stared at him. Instead of jumping into another deep conversation, I punched his arm. “Jinx, owe me a coke!” We laughed awkwardly and he asked me where we were going. I told him that I needed some stuff from the hobby store and that there was a shop in the strip with it we could try.
He looked a little confused when I bought a sketch pad, colored pencils and 104 test tubes plus racks, but I loaded my purchases into the trunk and headed to the boutique without explaining.
The store was arranged by size so I went down the aisle with the 6s and Alcide went down the aisle with the 4s. I had seen a lot of things that I liked but weren’t really right for tonight. I finally found something I thought would look great on both of us. It was a purple cocktail dress with a sequined bodice and ballooned chiffon skirt. Just as I was about to hold the dress up to ask Alcide what he thought when he caught my attention.
“Hey Puddin’, I like this one.” He held up the dress. “Have you seen it in your size?”
I held up the same dress he was holding, “I was just about to ask you the same thing.” We shared another look. “I’m going to go try this on.” I was barely in the dressing room when I called for him to zip me up. He was already standing outside the door. He zipped me up and we agreed that it was a good fit. “Now all I have to do is find some shoes.” He held out a shoe box and winked. The shoes inside were shaped slightly sexier than a regular pump. They were covered in purple sequins. I put my hand on his shoulder to balance and tried them on they were a perfect fit. “Do they have them in 5?”
He smiled and reached to the bench behind him and wiggled the box at me. He unzipped me and went back out into the store and just as I was reaching for my clothes he said, “Give this one a try.” And he handed me a dress through the curtain. It was salmon colored strapless chiffon baby doll dress with aurora borealis beads spangled throughout and all the way around where it gathers under my bust. It was breath taking and really set of my tan. When I came out he smiled and gave a little whistle. “I have good taste, that color really looks good with your tan too.” He held out the matching shoes. He snorted “The lady out front thinks that we are a cute couple. She says she wishes her boyfriend would go shopping with her.” I laughed. “Does Eric have something to match the 2 of you?”
“Yeah, I just bought him a dark purple silk shirt and black jeans and vest at Macy’s the other day. Did you find anything for Pam?”
“Yeah, a couple of dresses and matching shoes and the particulars.” He wagged his eyebrows.
“Lemme see!” He had left them up at cashier. The first outfit was a stretchy gunmetal grey shirt dress with shiny black satin yolk, collar and cuffs and buttons made from a black and grey stone. He matched it with a pair of black and grey brocade ‘fuck me’ pumps and a bra and g-string that was black lace over white. “Oh, my god! That is hot. She will eat it up!” He beamed. The other outfit was a one-shouldered knee length handkerchief dress. The pattern was a very light neutral paisley in pale celery green, powder pink and cream. He found her a pair of cream suede pumps with a high wooden heel and an off white lace strapless bra and g-string. “Wow! Honey you did good! These will get you all kinds of laid!” He grinned from ear to ear. I don’t know who did it, but someone taught Alcide to shop for a girlfriend. They’d done an amazing job.
“Are you sure about the black one? You’d said that she likes lighter colors, could she wear that one to work?”
“I know that she’ll wear that one tonight. It’s a good night for her to be a little more dressed up anyway.”
As we checked out he asked, “Am I allowed to know what’s going on tonight?”
“Part of it, I’m keeping the company to myself. But the other is that I have a couple of ideas about Fangtasia. There is a space at the other end of the shopping center, the one that the bookstore with the coffee shop used to be in. It has more than enough room for a stage so that they can offer a band and/or dj on weekends and its fire coded for 4 times the bodies. Plus I have a drink promotion idea.”
We took our stuff to the car and deposited it in the trunk. “That sounds great but do they want to be bigger?”
“I don’t know, but the option is there. Besides, Eric doesn’t want me to work. That’s why he keeps sending me on errands. If I have something like a remodel to do, I wouldn’t feel so damned useless. Then of course, I’ll start helping around there. Maybe I’ll trick him into letting me bartend or something.”
“Why would you need to trick him?”
“Because, we know guys our age who are old fashioned and don’t want their women working. Can you imagine what a 1000 year old man is like?”
He agreed by laughing, “Where to next?”
“Well, I told him I’d go to the movie store and booster his collection, all he has is murder, death, and kill, and then I have to drop off Angela’s stuff.”
“Murder, death and kill, huh?”
“Yeah, horror mostly. Unless you count that he has things like ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Elizabeth’. He calls those comedies because they are ‘so inaccurate’!” We both laughed at that.
“I guess he needs our help then.” And we went to the movie store next.
We bought about 50 movies making sure to get our favorites. Mel Brooks, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Kevin Smith. We stuck with comedies.
From there we went to Angela’s and I didn’t want to leave her dress outside, so I ‘looked’ to make sure she wasn’t near the door and used the telekinesis to open the deadbolt and laid it over the back of the couch.
Then on to Herveaux & Son. We went in and while Alcide networked his laptop to the office server to grab his status reports and other stuff, I stood in the doorway of his office.
I smelled something strange. “Someone’s been having sex in here.” By the time he looked up I walked out and made a pass up one side of the cubical filled room and down the other to the executive hallway and back again. “Frank Tarralton and Debra Sutton.”
He laughed, “Oh really, anything else I should know?”
“They’ve done it every workday since her husband deployed two weeks ago; only occasionally before that. They do it at the end of the day before she gets her kids from the babysitter. She has her ‘Dear John’ written out and as soon as Frank makes a move she’ll mail it. Sheryl is using the petty cash to take her sister and best friend for a 2 hour lunch every Tuesday and not clocking out for it and she switched everyone to decaf because she’s too lazy to make two pots. Vinton ‘hired’ 2 ghosts and collects their paychecks because he has a gambling problem: Kevin Noone and David Knotts. Porter used his expense account to send flowers to his sick mother in law because his wife nagged him to, but he didn’t want to pay for them. O’Connell is clocked in but at the golf course; 15th fairway. And Marsha started having a miscarriage last night but came to work today anyway because she knew that if she didn’t the phones wouldn’t get answered while Sheryl was stealing lunch and she knew that she would need to save her sick leave for their next try at in-vitro. It would have been a girl and a boy. ”
He stared at me like a deer in headlights for what felt like forever. He started packing up his computer, “What do you think I should do?”
I giggled, “You really wanna know?” He nodded. “Leave a note on your couch: ‘I know what you’re doing and find somewhere else to do it’. Report Vinton to Tom in accounting so that they can track down the money and introduce him to the IRS. Fire Sheryl. Cancel Porter’s expense account. Dock O’Connell’s pay with a warning. Promote Marsha to replace Sheryl and give her the week off with pay.” I punctuated that with a wide, knowing grin.
“Shug, what the fuck were you doin’ wasting time working for Merlotte. You have a mind for sin and business that Trump would appreciate!”
He called the pertinent people into his office and one by one and took care of business and saved Marsha for last. She walked in looking a bit haggard but by the time she heard why everyone else was in there she was looking nervous too. He could smell it so he put her at ease and sat next to her on the couch. “Marsha, honey, don’t worry. I need you to put an ad up to hire a new you for us. I want you to take Sheryl’s job as soon as you get back on Monday. You’ve always worked hard for the company, you deserve the time off. I’ll let Tom know not to dock your paid vacation that you saved up.” She looked at him with big eyes and cried quietly for a bit before she thanked him. “Forget about it. Now go get that ad online so you can start interviewing on Monday.” He smiled at her and started for the door. When she walked out, he locked it. As we walked out to the car he looked sad for her, “I wanna send flowers, but I guess that wouldn’t be a good idea, huh.”
“It’ll be fine, she knows that you know, that’s why she cried. Her and her husband are both 2nd borns.” That made him a little more sad. I put my arm over his shoulder. “Do you want to hear some good news?”
“The next round will take. Next February she’ll have twin boys.”
That brightened him up. “Really?” When I nodded he picked me up in a bear hug and spun me. “That’s great.” He planted a big ol’ kiss on me. “I’m glad things are gonna work out for her. You wanna go get something to eat before we go home?”
“Well, I need to do a few things before our vamps rise, but we could do that if you don’t like pot roast.”
“Pot roast? Doesn’t that take a while?”
“It does. That’s why it went in the oven while I was fixing breakfast. All I need to do is mash the potatoes. The oven should have just shut off.”
He hurried me the rest of the way into the car and we drove like a bat out of hell all the way back to the house. When we got out of the car he bolted to the garage door and I had to call him back. I yelled in a playfully strict way, “Alcide Bernard Herveaux! Get your ass back here!” He winced and stopped dead in his tracks. “Come get your stuff so that you can unpack. You have to wait for the mashed potatoes anyway.” He growled at me on his way to the trunk. “You don’t scare me.” I grabbed the bags of clothes & dvds and my drawing supplies and went to the kitchen. He was right behind me holding his suitcase, garment bag, shoe bag and the bag of stuff for Pam as I pulled the roasting pan out of the oven.
“Can I see it?” I took the lid off. He moaned when the steam hit his face. “When can I jump on that?”
“As soon as your clothes are out of the way.”
“Can I get a little taste?” I reached into the pan and pulled off a little piece and put it in his mouth. His eyes rolled back in his head and he moaned again. “Another one?” I giggled and gave him a bigger piece and he moaned again but this time was almost a growl. I giggled again.
“Can someone please explain what I’m missing down there?” came from Pam.
I laughed and gave Alcide a little elbow to the ribs. “Pavlov rang the bell. Apparently, pot roast is to Were as Faerie is to Vampire.”
Eric’s turn: “I was wondering what that smell was.”
Alcide sent: “Sorry y’all, I haven’t had pot roast since my grandmother passed 12 years ago.”
He gave me a quick kiss on my neck and ran upstairs to put his stuff away.
In the 20 minutes it took for him to put his things away, I carved the roast, made the gravy and mashed the potatoes with cream and butter. I plated it along with the carrots and green beans and handed it to him as he walked in. I plated another serving for me and by the time I was done he was back for seconds. I gave him my plate and took his to rinse and use. I grabbed a couple beers from the fridge and sat down. I hadn’t eaten much before he got up for a 3rd helping.
I fussed at him, “I can’t have a chubby day guy! Tomorrow will be a 6 mile morning, buddy.”
His answer to that was, “I’ll risk it. This is the best meal I’ve had in a long, long time. Besides, I bet Pam will help me work most of it off before dawn.” We laughed.
We cleaned up the table and stored the leftovers together. Alcide said that he’d take care of them by the ‘this time tomorrow’.
“Honey, now that you have a woman in the kitchen who loves to cook, you got any special requests?”
“I’m afraid if you know all my favorites, you really will get me fat.”
I laughed, “Come on! Out with it.”
“Okay, okay… I really like comfort food. Chicken pot pie, smothered pork chops, Sheppard’s pie, Stews with biscuits. My Granma loved feeding people food that made you happy. My Mom fed us for health.”
“See, was that so hard? Guess what I’m making for tomorrow night.” He narrowed his eyes at me and took a sip of beer. “Chicken pot pie. It might not be like your Granma’s but it should work.”
He smiled at me with a very satisfied look. He stood up and gave me a peck on the cheek, and went to grab his laptop and sat at the kitchen table to do what he needed to do while I drew a layout for my idea and sketched a few design ideas. The sky was starting to get dark by the time I was done. So I took the sketch pad and put it back in the car and took my new dress up so that I could wake Eric and get ready.
On my way out of the room I told him, “Yours will be up soon, you should get up there before she finds what you bought. By the way, she squeals.”
He yelled after me, “I know,” he chuckled “I know.” I heard his laptop close and his chair scoot in.
When I got to our room, I hung my dress on the inside of the bathroom door and started the shower, hoping the steam would help with some of the wrinkles. I dug out my purple push up bra and a black lace boy shorts. I went to Eric’s closet and got his purple silk shirt and the black jeans, black brocade vest and his new black Dr. Martens and laid them out on the bench at the foot of the bed with silk boxers and a pair of socks. I stripped down and climbed into bed with Eric and snuggled up to him.
“I was wondering if you would join me.” I jumped out of my skin and yelped! I thought he was still ‘out’. He laughed at me so I slapped his chest. “I thought you said that you’ve never been scared of me.”
“Scared of’ and ‘scared by’ are 2 different things!” I giggled and got up to get into the shower. “Are you coming?”
I turned to look at him and he was already behind me waggling his eyebrows at me.
When he saw the dress hanging on the back of the door, he nodded in approval. I climbed into the shower and got under the water and his hands were on me and in me.
I couldn’t help but laugh. “What has gotten into you, Eric?”
“I don’t know. I have this feeling that I should be very proud of you. What did you do today?” He lowered himself onto one knee.
I purred, “I waited for now.”
“Sookie? I really don’t like surprises.” I pushed him back and told him to sit on the edge of the tub and straddled his lap.
“Yes you do. You just hate not knowing.” I lowered myself onto him. “If I had never said anything, you wouldn’t be any the wiser until later and you will be pleased.” I started moving up and down with a grind at the bottom each time that made his eyes roll back. “I am fairly confident that my reason for getting there early will make you happy, and the company will be a friendly, advantageous meeting.” I winked.
He looked up at me and grinned. “I bet you told Alcide. I’ll just get it out of him.” I grinded down on him hard, as hard as I could. I rode him until I thought my legs were going to give out. I could feel it in the bond that he was ready to explode.
I stood up and got back under the water. He grunted and looked up at me grumpily. He stood up and looked down at me. “Why did you do that?”
I turned around and smiled at him, “Insurance.”
“Yup, promise me that you won’t be a spoil sport.”
He grabbed me around my waist and pulled me to him. “What if I promise? What if I don’t?”
“If you promise,” I grabbed his hard on and gave it a firm squeeze. “Then this shower will finish the way you had hoped and the evening will go the way I planned. If you don’t promise, if you trick Alcide into telling you what little he knows, well… I went 25 years without having sex.” I shrugged, “There’s no telling how long I could go without it again.”
He looked me in the eyes seriously and frowned when he realized I was adamant. He grumbled something under his breath that I couldn’t hear and took a step back, and sat back down on the edge of the tub holding his hand out to mine. “Fine. I promise.” I think he was pouting.
I straddled his lap again and lowered myself onto him. I tightened my muscles around him making him swallow hard and throw his head back. I took advantage of his exposed neck and licked it from his shoulder to his ear and whispered, “What do you promise, Eric?”
He growled, “Not to do anything to spoil your hard work and secrecy.”
“Good Viking.” I bit and breathed into his ear as I was grinding and tightening. I leaned back and braced myself against his knees and he wrapped his arms around my waist and leaned forward and made a meal out of my breasts. He slowly stood up and pressed me against the wall under the water and slammed me harder and harder and I was on the edge of my breaking point and I bit him on the chest pushing us both over. It was so exquisite that he lowered us into the tub and we sat there under the shower tangled on each other trembling while we waited to regain our senses. Eventually, we did we get washed and dressed and made our way downstairs where our roomies were dressed and ready to go. They were making out on the kitchen counter, but they were ready to go. Eric exchanged no pleasantries. He walked straight for the garage.
“Master your mood is sour. Is there a problem?”
“My sweet, innocent Sookie just used sex to get me to agree to do something.”
I shrugged, “I threatened to close down the booty bank if he did anything to mess with my plans.”
Pam let a cackle escape and quickly slapped her hands over her mouth to make it stop.
I followed him out to the car and chided him. “You are making too big a deal out of this. You are getting all upset over something so small. I’m afraid that you’ve built this up too much and you’ll be disappointed.” That cooled him off, but didn’t put out the fire.
It was the longest 10 minutes I think I have ever spent with Eric.
When we got to the bar I went to the trunk and grabbed my sketch pad. I started walking to the other end of the strip mall. Since Alcide knew what I was up to, he started following me right away. Eric thought I was ‘behaving like a child’.
“I heard that! I am not. Follow me.” Pam and Eric were next to me in one second.
“Where are we going?”
“The Book Worm.”
“They went out of business and bankrupted on the balance of their lease.” Eric griped.
“All the better.”
We got there just a minute later. Eric complained again. “I don’t have the key.”
I gave him and angry look. “Do you have any idea how long your shitty mood is going to continue? Or what’s more, how long my good mood will hold out?”
He saw my angry and raised to irate. “Am I supposed to be happy that you are keeping secrets from me and blackmailing me?”
“I should be in high spirits that the only reason you agreed to a small favor for your fiancée was because you wanted a warm place to put your hard on? What do you think is going to happen?”
“I don’t know. The last surprise I got kept me from you for 2 months!”
That melted me back into my good mood. I hugged him because I felt sorry for us, not just him. “I wouldn’t do any such thing and you know it. Calm down. Besides, all I’m doing is presenting an idea. One you can say no to.”
I looked up at him and his eyes softened. He bent down to kiss me. “I’m an asshole. Forgive me.”
I put my hand on the handle. There was a click and I opened the door. Eric tilted his head in confusion. “I can ‘move’ things remember. He smiled. We entered into a large hall way. I led them all to the main floor of the space and I started my schpeal.
“9,850 square feet of real estate sitting directly on the main drag. Fire coded for 450 people. Full bathroom and kitchen facilities. Ample parking and room for a proper stage.” I tore the first page out of my sketch book and handed it to Eric. He looked at it for a moment and then handed it to Pam.
The first drawing was a rough idea of the what the main floor could look like.
“Should I continue, or do you think I’m a fool.”
Pam and Eric, both in full business mode, said “Continue.”
“I know that you like that your quiet end of the strip mall. But a busy parking lot is good advertising as long as someone sees it. The ceiling needs to be dropped and new lighting bought. You’d need a carpenter for a new bar, something unique, and the stage. Lighting, PA, and furniture… About $50,000 to get it together.” I handed the next page to Eric. “V.I.P. room for private parties, green room for the performers.” I handed them the floor plan I drew. “Another 50 to get it to higher end. The bar now is fire coded for 112 and if you-know-who scares many more vamps up here to the land of milk and honey, there won’t be any room for tourists. I found 2 bands that would bring in some fresh blood. $5000 and 10% of the door is there standard rider. I found 3 guys that can actually DJ too. So I was thinking that weekends needed live music and then weeknights can be the normal PA fed music. No less than 3 radio stations would broadcast from the parking lot the night of the reopening and a huge Neon Fangtasia sign on the side of the building would be seen from the interstate. There is an alternate sketch for leaving the ceiling where it is. It would cost a little more to add the mezzanine but it would add to the fire code by about 150. It could be done in a month if there is luck finding the right furniture. The big upside is that the bar would still open, so the income wouldn’t stop. My math says the investment will be paid off in 2 months, mostly from weekends.” I handed Eric the sketch book and he and Pam flipped through it. They wandered around and talked in damned vampire hushed tones.
Alcide came over to me and I looked up at him. I guess I looked scared because he took my hands and said, “Shug, you did great. It’s a wonderful idea.” And gave me a hug. “I wasn’t kidding with you today, when you put my business to rights. You really do have a mind for it. If they don’t do it, it’ll be because of some political thing. Not because they didn’t like it.”
“Thanks honey.” And I patted his ribs. We heard the back door open and close. I reached out. They left. So we went too. I locked the door behind us. He walked with his arm over my shoulder. I could feel how disappointed he was for me. “Oh, well. Maybe I’m better with dealing with personnel than investments.” I forced myself to cheer up and leaned away from him.
“You are a tough chick, you know that?” I laughed.
When we got to Fangtasia, we went into the office. Eric was behind his desk and Pam was sitting on the front of it leaning over whatever they had written on the legal pad in front of them. They instantly looked up at me. Eric asked, “Are you sure this could be done in one month?” Alcide and I looked at each other with confusion and surprise.
“Uhhh… With or without the mezzanine?”
Pam said, “With.”
“I’ll have to find a big welding company for that, but it might add a week or two.” Eric gave Pam a cryptic nod and she got up and went to a file cabinet and pulled out a folder and handed it to him. She grabbed Alcide and told him to buy her a true blood and towed him out, shutting the door behind them as they went.
Eric stood up and slowly walked over to me. He looked me right in the eyes and asked, “How were you not bored out of your mind working for Sam all that time. You were wasting your time. You have a mind for business…”
“…And sin.” I finished. Eric looked surprised. “Alcide told me the same thing this afternoon.”
Eric laughed, “Lover, why would he have said that?”
“Eh, get him to tell you the story. So are you mad that I suggested the change? I was just bored. You know how my mind spins.”
“Sookie, your idea will make millions for us.” He handed me the folder. It had information on store accounts, a list of people who owed him favors and or money and 3 credit cards with Fangtasia as the card holder.
“I’ll take care of the zoning and licenses and inspections. You oversee the rest.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Well you said 100, but Pam and I discussed that we could do 200.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Sookie, I love you. I trust you. Surprise me.” Well, I couldn’t help but cry. He took the folder from my hands and laid it on the desk and gave me a hug. “Please, lover, you know I hate the crying, especially when it’s my doing.” So, I pulled up my ‘big girl panties’ and turned off the water works.
“Ok, where are the keys to the car?” He handed them to me. “Go on out to the booth I’ll be back in just a second.”
As I walked out of the door of his office, he laughed “I don’t know what you have up your sleeve, but I’m sure I will like it.”
I went outside and grabbed what I was looking for and ran back in and went behind the bar while Eric, Pam and Alcide watched me. I heard Alcide telling the others what had happened at his office today while I mixed 2 Bloody Marys and prepped one over ice in a glass in with a stalk of celery. The other one was poured into 8 test tubes. I put them on a tray and carried it over. The vampires eyed the test tubes. “They look like blood right?” They nodded. I put the glass on the table. “How much does a Bloody Mary cost?”
Pam said, “$5.50.”
“Well, any bar you go to near the base or the college has test tube shots for $3.” Alcide nodded his confirmation.
Eric asked, “How many shots does that make?” nodding toward the glass.
“All of them. One $5.50 drink became $24. Test tubes cost $.20 each. I bought 100 today, if you want to try it.” My entire nest smiled at me.
“Something tells me that Clancy and Felicia will be angry that they’ll have to hand wash the tubes because the dishwasher won’t be able to clean them fast enough.” Pam added.
“So you like it?” I smiled
Eric offered, “How could we not? I am thoroughly impressed!” The others agreed. “Lover, are you out of surprises for now?” I nodded. “Well then, Pam since I am here for opening, did you want to go to your house and collect some of your things so that we don’t need to stop on the way back to our house?”
She looked at Alcide and licked her lips, “Would you mind helping?” Her hand was under the table. I don’t know what it was doing, but it made Alcide’s roll up. He quickly slid out of the booth in spite of his hard on and held his hand out for her. As they walked by me I gave him a slap on the ass and she stopped to give me a long deep kiss pulling me close to her sliding her hand down to grab my butt and pull. She was working one handed because she still had a firm grip on Alcide’s hand. I slid one hand up to her throat and we stood there making out. I broke the kiss when her fangs popped and went after her neck with vigor giving her a massive hickey and then started using my teeth to scrape her collar bone. She purred.
Alcide was almost whining when he said, “Either let me join in or stop so there’s some left for me.” He gave her a tug and she gave in and followed him.
I called after them. “That dress is too hot on you. Don’t fuck it up!”
I turned my attention Eric and he had a mysterious smile waiting for me. “Well lover, you seem to be making a lot of people happy today.”
“You should go sit in your throne while we still have time.”
I grabbed my fiancée’s hand and dragged him to place him in his throne on the stage. I grabbed my iPod from my purse and I slinked over to the stereo system and plugged in my iPod and found the song I was looking for. It was a drum intensive song from the band at the festival. I stood in the middle of the small platform just askew from the stage while I waited for the song to start.
The music started and I surrendered to it. The drums in the music took me over and as though I had practiced for months I mimicked the movements of the pole dancing work out video that Tara had gotten me for Christmas. It was bought as a joke (we usually bought gag gifts for each other) and I only watched a few minutes of it, but I worked the pole; I danced and writhed in perfect rhythm to the warlike throbbing coming from the speaker system. I twisted and slid down the brass support. I had managed to remove every stitch of clothing except for the panties. Burlin is only a 4 minute song but it lasted long enough that my Vampire was showing every bit of self restraint he had just so that he could enjoy a little bit more of this fantasy.
The second the music stopped, Eric moved with the speed that only a thousand year old vampire can move. He removed my breathless quivering aching body from my platform and darted down the back hall to his office. We passed Alcide and Pam both standing by the bar with slack jaws and arms filled with test tubes. But we flew by them so fast, I didn’t have the chance to be embarrassed. Eric set me down and shut the door at nearly the same instant. If I had only his ravenous gaze to clue me in on his plans for me I might be scared but the deluge of lust running over the sides of our bond spoke volumes of what to expect. Then I was pinned between him and the wall. The only coherent words that he uttered for the next hour were “What did I do to be so lucky?”
His mouth plunged onto mine and his office was our playground. By 8:30 we had made full use of his desk, couch, floor and both guest chairs while we nipped and snapped, feeding from each other. The room looked like a war zone by the time we were done. Every horizontal surface had been swept clear to make room for our activities and no matter how good the cleaning crew was, the room would smell like that night for a long time to come. When we finally had our wits about us again, while we were a tangled heap of limbs on his desk, I broke the silence. “Eric, Pam and Alcide saw my dance.”
He chuckled. “I guess tonight was their lucky night.”
He stood up and set himself to rights and darted out the office door and came back in seconds with my dress and bra. He helped me to rise, reached around me and hooked my bra then held my dress over my head to slip it on for me and re-zipped it.
We started the walk of shame. As we turned from the hall way to enter the bar area I saw a conversation drop at our booth and Alcide and Pam were sitting there with Bill. My nestmates applauded and whooped and yipped like they were drunk soccer fans but Bill’s nostrils flared. I sent to Eric: “HE IS NOT THE COMPANY I WAS EXPECTING. He keeps turning up like a bad fucking penny!”
Eric’s silent reply was: “I summoned him to talk about business but I told him to come later so that he would be here when Angela is presented.”
We joined our group at the table. Alcide offered a hand to high five my Viking, which Eric freely gave (not to mention smugly considering present company!) as Bill quietly (but in such a gentile way) dripped with distain. Clancy and Felicia were there along with most of the wait staff since it was only half an hour until opening.
Bill did not have the good sense to keep his mouth shut either. “Eric, did you have business to discuss or did you wish to rub my nose in your sexual conquests with your floozy?” Wow, Bill, don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.
Eric’s simple reply was “yes.” He followed it with piercing eyes and shit eating grin. Bill clenched his jaw so tightly I think I heard a few teeth break. I hoped it was his fangs. Eric continued “Bill, I summoned you for business but it seems that my office is a state of… disrepair. So since most of us are friends here we can discuss things here. I simply wanted to know the amount of the lease for our friend Tara’s clothing store. It seems that the economy has been hard on her business. So in order to help her without having her feel like a charity case, I’d like to set a minimum amount for my staff to spend there on their clothing accounts to make sure that her bases are covered.”
I sent: “Awww, Eric that’s sweet. Thank you.” And I leaned over and gave him a little kiss in appreciation. He reciprocated with a loving look.
Bill was incensed. “Sookie!” he hissed. “You hated me for buying that property and extending you a line of credit at the shops!”
“You would do well to not only watch your tongue Bill Compton but to realize that I hated that you, by establishing a line of credit at those stores for me, were relieving yourself of the chore of putting any thought into buying gifts for me. And none of that excuses your behavior before or since! Betrayal followed by secrets, followed by abandonment with rape and a draining for dessert. So you should just climb down off of your high horse and learn your fucking place.” Alcide and Pam were picturing the different ways to kill and torture Bill so I gave them a stiff jerk to get them to leave the table. They left but stayed close and listened.
“Sookie, Eric maneuvered you into your blood bonding. Are you really that stupid that you don’t see that?”
Well what does Dear Abby say when confronted with such a brazen insult? How about… “Go fuck yourself Bill Compton. I am smart enough to see that you are just making yourself more miserable by blaming Eric for all the ways you ran aground in our short relationship even though he had no hand in any of it. How much is Tara’s lease?”
“Now why the fuck was that so hard? And you accuse me of being childish!”
“It was ‘hard’ as you put it because I have been tortured by the smell of your climaxes and I have been plagued by the sounds of you moaning at the hands of the beast that stole you from ME!”
“He did not steal me, you lost me. The first time I had his blood was part of a maneuver, sure but the other 2 times were to save my life. He never used me, he employed me. The only reason I started dating you was because I couldn’t hear your thoughts, the only reason I stayed once I knew you was in the hopes that you would warm up. I went from being considered a freak by humans into your arms looking for a way to fit in but you made me feel like a freak for being human. You have always been cold and inconsiderate. Sure, Eric flirted with me when I was still ‘yours’. But he stayed with me under fire in Dallas when you pursued dinner, he took me to the orgy and made me feel safe when you would have made me leave, he even let me go after your sorry ass in Jackson and put himself in harm’s way to make sure I was safe. He has never done anything to me that I didn’t want and wouldn’t beg for again. He has asked for my help when it was needed and trusted my opinion while you made a sport of second guessing me and acting ashamed of me or my behavior.”
Bill actually looked like he was sweating. He was glowing with anger and spat his retort. “If you two are so in love then what was Quinn and Sophie-Anne and Andre and Alcide? You have had quite a run of bedmates. You went from innocent to professional in record time. Need I remind you that we had the same reason for pursuing you, your telepathy.”
I laughed at him and answered him while looking into Eric’s eyes. “Quinn was a mistake I made while I was trying to forget something I thought I’d lost.” He smiled at me then I turned to refocus on Bill. “You don’t get to talk to me about Sophie-Anne. I considered her my Queen and my friend and I still mourn her loss. You need to realize that not only did she apologize to me for having sent you but she meant it and Andre was part of that package. Alcide and I are very close friends and I think more of him than I ever did of you and I nearly died for you.” I laughed a little to add a jab. I licked my lips when I poured salt in his wounds. “You did forget about Pam though. And no, I don’t need you to remind me about either of your intentions.” I was very much mocking him at this point. “Hi, I’m Bill and I’m going to pretend to love you and take your virginity even though I can’t figure out who I hate more: humans or vampires just to kiss some royal ass. And then there’s him. Hi, I’m Eric, sheriff of area 5. I want to taste you and occasionally I’ll need the help of your talents. He has been as honest with me as he could be about everything I have asked of him.”
“I had no choice but to lie! The queen…”
“…Offered to kill you for me when she discovered that you lied to me to get me into bed. Sophie-Anne educated me on her life and her death and how her maker treated her and how she saved herself from him. If I hadn’t begged her for mercy on you, you would not be here crapping on what was a very proud day for me. You’re welcome.”
Eric was shocked. “She told you? She trusted you to tell you something she didn’t share with her own children.”
I nodded. “I know about the makers and lives of more than a dozen kings and queens and a few other vampire.” I turned my attention back to Bill. “It’s funny how these detestable, loathsome and soulless beasts find it in their unbeating hearts to tell me the truth after knowing me for a short time but someone who feeds from me and shares my bed can lie and hide things from me for months.”
Eric gazed into my eyes for a moment. “Will you tell me about Sophie-Anne? I’ve always been curious.”
I stared back at him. “I don’t see why not, since her and Andre are gone she has no need for the secret.”
Eric smiled at me before turning his attention back to Bill and very calmly stated the case. “Bill, I want you to leave Area 5, I’d rather you left the whole of Louisiana but I can’t do anything about that and you know it. I’ll give you 2 weeks to manage your holdings and arrange for new domicile. I’ll give you a fair reference. To be honest, if it weren’t for your lingering infatuation with Sookie, you would be tolerable.”
And with that he lunged across the booth and grabbed Eric by the throat with witnesses.
I did my best to hold him back slightly and reached my hand out behind me waiting for my weapon of choice to deliver itself to me. The second it was in my grasp I handed it to my lover. And then he saw it. Bill’s eyes were locked down on mine when the stake went into his chest and then it was over.
The clean up was grueling but I helped, never one to leave a mess for anyone else to clean especially since Fangtasia needed to open. The only good thing about it was that Bill went to ash instead of the far messier alternative. At least he did something right. We were only about 5 minutes late and there didn’t seem to be any evidence left behind.
Eric came over to me and put his arm around my shoulder as the tourists flowed into the bar as though a dam had broken. He led me to the office with Pam and Alcide close behind. Then it was just us, standing in the office ruined (possibly forever) by our earlier fun. Pam, Eric and Alcide stared at me for a while without speaking.
Eric decided to go first. “Lover? Are you ok. You seem angry.”
“I’m pissed that I couldn’t do it.” That was met with shock and awe from all around. I looked up at Eric “I’m jealous that you got to do it.” Yup more shock. I think I might have heard crickets. “If it had just been us, I would have drove it in slow” I gave pause. “But, if I had killed him, it would have made you look weak, as though you needed your pet to save you. Holding him down and going back later would have appeared to be premeditated. The only viable option was for you to do it in self defense. Eric?”
“Are you going to be in trouble?”
“No, I will be fine. Don’t worry about me. There are security cameras here and there are witnesses that saw him come after me first.”
I looked up at him and wrapped my arms around his waist. “Promise?”
“You know I can’t do that. But I can’t think of any way that I can be held accountable for ending a lower vampire for coming after me.”
“Ok. I’ll accept that.” I craned up to kiss him. “I’m going to go get something to eat. Call me when Angela gets here.”
Alcide followed me out and was confused when I walked past the car. “I’m just going to walk over to the diner over here. No sense driving when all I want is a sandwich.” He double timed a couple steps to catch up to me and when he had, I reached down and grabbed his hand. “Do you think I’m horrible?”
“Of course not Shug! We all know that feeling. Its fight or flight. He would have made trouble for you later and you know it.”
“I know better than you think.”
It only took him a second to realize that I had ‘seen’ something. “What did you see Sookie?”
“He was going to kill Eric at a party; take his head off with a sword. He was going to get caught and executed and he didn’t care about anything but making sure Eric didn’t get me.” Alcide put his arm around me. “I saw it when we sat at the table with him.”
We got to the diner and Alcide ordered a hot fudge sundae and that made me decide against the sandwich. “I’ll have what he’s having.” He gave me a smile. I started giggling. “You stink of sex and blood.”
He laughed, “You do too! I guess we wear the same cologne.”
“Eau d’Fang!” We laughed and talked and ate our stress Ice cream.
We were still laughing when we walked through the back door of Fangtasia and to our booth. We scooted in and our vampires beamed at us.
Pam answered, “Clancy wants to turn you just so he can torture you.”
I laughed wryly. “I guess then he is washing a lot of tubes.”
Eric took a turn. “They have sold 300 test tube shots and this is a light crowd. He said that if we are going to do this he wants to have at least 1000 tubes. He said he is too old to be a dishwasher.”
I laughed to try and shake off the threat, even if it was a joke and got up to go over to the stereo system and cued up my ‘Dance’ playlist. I beckoned Eric to the dance floor. We danced to ‘So Fierce’ and nothing about the dance made me think that he didn’t like it. When that was over I danced with Pam to ‘Boom Boom Pow’ and that was worth the price of admission apparently. We had quite the audience. When the song was over we got a round of applause and I returned to the booth. Eric sent Clancy the signal have a waitress bring my iPod back. Angela and the iPod got to the table at the same time. The four of us welcomed her. I slid out so that I could hug her and put her between Eric and I.
“You look wonderful in that dress.” Eric told her. I think she might have blushed. We all agreed.
She looked over at me and asked how I got into her apartment to drop of the dress. I winked and nodded towards the table and I moved a bottle of true blood a couple of inches. She was shocked. I put my finger to my lips and gave her the shhhhh. We sat there, the 5 of us and talked for a while until ‘Bazaar Love Triangle’ started. So Eric and I led her to the dance floor and she did quite well. Well enough that Eric made a couple of faces at me while we were having our fun. We stayed on the floor for the next song too and almost as soon as I sat down, I saw that special someone come through the door. I shot out of my seat and ran towards him with my arms open for a big hug.
In spite of his very large bodyguards (and beautiful, I might add- Russell loved beautiful men) he opened his arms too, “My dearest Sookie!”
I wrapped my arms around my friend and whispered in his ear, “I’m sorry for the informality of my greeting. Perhaps I should have called you ‘His Highest Emperor’.”
He tensed up and pulled out of the hug to look at me. He wanted to worry, but as soon as he saw how happy my face was he gave me a very genial nod. So I took his hand and led him through the crowd towards the office, his guards following and I waived to my table to follow while we were on our way.
Once Mississippi and ‘the round table’ were in the room, Russell closed the door motioning to the guards to stand watch out in the hall. He shut and locked the door and turned to me with a very serious look on his face. “Sookie, what did you know?”
“Russell, surely I have no idea what you are talking about. Why would a human be informed on such matters?”
Russell smiled. “You are fascinating! If I had different tastes, Northman may have a challenge on his hands.”
I laughed. “I missed you.” I gave him another hug. “Oh, How is Bart?”
He moped. “He seems well. We talk every night though. Where are you planning to honeymoon? You heard that Virginia, Georgia and New York are fighting over you.”
“We’ve only set a date, we hadn’t talked about it. I was thinking Vale or Aspen or Telluride, if we were to go somewhere tropical, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy a fireplace.” I winked at Russell and Eric beamed. He seemed to like the idea. Eric and Pam stood and carefully if not quizzically and watched the exchange between Mississippi and I. “Oh… I forgot to mention it. Eric and I ended Bill tonight.”
Russell laughed, “It’s about damn time! You finally realized what I’ve been telling you for months, huh?”
I laughed right back. “Well, he went after Eric, so I called a stake from back here and handed it to Eric while they struggled. What could we do?” He smiled. “Okay, now your majesty. Out with it! You have news for us.”
“Well, I am here to tell you that there is new management for Louisiana… again. Eric you are relieved as Sherriff of Area 5.” Russell smiled antagonistically while Eric locked his face down.
I stared Russell down. “Damn it, king or not, I will kick your ass! Knock it off and get to the good news or I will call Bart and tell him how mean you’re being!” Eric and Pam’s heads jerked in my direction widening their eyes to remind me that I was speaking to royalty but I could feel the pride coming from both of them. Alcide just beamed at me and tried not to laugh.
“My, my Sookie! You have gotten a business edge to you!” He threw his head back and laughed. “Okay, okay, sweet girl, you win! Eric, I’m sure Sookie has already explained her little visions. Thanks to her I recently discovered that Bart and I were next on de Castro’s hit list. It’s no secret that I was no fan of his after his deeds in gaining control of Louisiana and Arkansas. My dilemma was that if I killed my aggressors, I would become the king of three more states and I barely get to see Bart as it is, I’m sure that you understand that after your last couple of months.” Eric nodded and I crossed the room to hug his waist. I smiled at Russell who continued, “Bart and I have discussed it and we believe you to be the best choice as Regent. So it is yours. Louisiana and Arkansas both.” He shrugged and waved his hand dismissively. “I never wanted them, I just couldn’t bear letting something happening to Bart. Sandy is gathering the information for you and she’ll have it all for you by week’s end. I gave Nevada to Stan. We are now one big happy southern family my friend.” He gave Eric’s shoulder a friendly slap. “Florida, Georgia, Carolina, Indiana, they are all in agreement. We all endorse you. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we stick together as much as possible and don’t worry, the only string attached is the job itself. As for a Sherriff for New Orleans, Georgia has a sheriff that she will send to help you rebuild, she has experience in the area. She’s like the Vampire version of FEMA. She helped Ray after Andrew and Hawthorne after Hugo.” Eric was still awestruck. “Come on Eric! You should have taken over after Rhodes and you know it!”
“I don’t want to move to New Orleans, never did.”
“Sookie was right, you are a retarded genius! As King, you make your own rules!”
Eric shot a dirty look at me when Pam and Alcide snickered. “Hey! We were having a sleepover and we were talking about you and Bart and how much we missed you both!”
Russell smiled and nodded in agreement. “We are BGFs, and don’t be mad at me for this little maneuver. Sookie formulated this little coup. We’ve got her all on speed dial.” he said in full southern gay pomp. “I’ll be back on Monday. That should give Sandy plenty of time for information and document gathering. We can help each other wade through that ocean of holdings and financials.”
I suddenly got excited about the prospect of company. “Russell, you should see if Bart can come with you and you can stay with us. Let me know how much security and how many of what (fangs and furs) you’ll bring with you so that we can make sure to have somewhere to put them up. I guess we’ll need to hire our own anyway.”
He smiled broadly, “What of Stan? He’ll be here too.”
“Of course Stan is welcome too! When you speak to him, tell him to call me with his rider. Just y’all though. No entourage. We’ll keep it quiet and informal. I like the way wear your jeans!”
Russell looked at Eric, “Old friend, I’m sure that she is why you didn’t step up after Rhodes. Judging by what I have seen of her in recent months, that was a gross miscalculation because she will embrace being your queen as much as our community has embraced her already. Our Justice won’t let any of us down. I won’t hold it against you though. Protecting those we love is our silver and our gold, is it not?”
“You understand too well, Russell.” Eric gave Russell a deep nod.
Russell offered, “Can you think of any question you might need for me to answer?”
Eric returned with, “At the moment, I am at a loss. Tomorrow your phone will suffer though. I am sure.”
We all laughed.
Russell led the way through the office door and onto the main floor. All of the vampires in the room dropped to one knee and lowered their heads. The humans watched in confusion. Russell surprised himself, “I almost forgot!” He held out his hand, and a pair of manila folders was delivered to his grasp. He handed one to me and the other to Alcide. “You should look these over and make your decisions before we return. Mr. Herveaux, you will be the ranking, uh, officer on the grounds when we visit. Might I trust you to coordinate the forces?” Alcide nodded. Russell began to exit with a flourish. He bowed to us all. “Justice,” towards Alcide, “Lieutenant,” towards Pam “Majesties,” towards Eric and I. We all bowed back to him and he left us.
I whooped at the top of lungs! I was so happy. My arms were over my head and I was jumping a dance of the truly overjoyed! Eric eyed me carefully and leaned over “This will change everything.”
“Will you stop loving me?”
“Of course not.” He scowled at me when he said it.
“Then tonight, right now, let me be happy that we don’t have to be afraid for a while!” I grabbed Eric and Alcide’s wrists and went to the dance floor gesturing to Angela to join us. Everyone’s eyes lightened and they all decided to follow my happy lead. The 5 of us danced and jumped and yelled and the other vampires jumped in on the fun when they saw their new king celebrate. We went on like that until closing and after. The vampires seemed, if not happy, relieved since most of them were displeased with the previous regime. Most of those present had come to Shreveport to get away from Victor. They were quite excited to be one of the firsts to swear fealty to Louisiana.
Pam grabbed our folders and a couple of files from the office when were ready to head back to the house. We all piled into the car and were still laughing and joking with each other. We drove all the way home excitedly yelling at each other because calm went out the door when Russell left Fangtasia. I literally bounced out of the car when we got home, not waiting for Eric to open the door for me. I went to the kitchen and plugged my iPod to play the ‘party’ playlist and went to the fridge to rummage, Eric went to the table and started going through one of the folders. Pam and Alcide were unloading her things and joined us in the kitchen after just a few minutes. I was grazing from a platter of chocolate dipped strawberries I had put together earlier. Alcide looked over my shoulder to see what I had. I turned around and fed him one and he really enjoyed it. He grabbed a couple more and a napkin and went to the table to check out what Eric was doing. I made a couple mimosas and grabbed a couple of true bloods and went to join them at the table. “What are you three doing?”
They looked up and Eric grumbled, “Looking through Bill’s will of sorts. As his sheriff, I have to make sure that I execute his wishes.”
“Wow, that’s funny. I never thought that vampires would think about wills and whatnot. If you want I can contact the Bellefleurs for you once you line everything up. I’ve known Andy forever.” I leaned over and gave him a kiss. I sat down at the table and started returning my phone calls and answering my texts that had accumulated. Everyone was abuzz. I must have missed 20 phone calls and had another 40 texts. My phone had been blown up so bad my battery was nearly dead. I asked Alcide if I could use his. I called Margaux because she’d been the first to call me.
“I’m not queen yet.”
“You’ve always been queen, you just didn’t know it! So why didn’t you just tell me the other night that it would be over so soon?”
“Because I didn’t know it would be tonight until this morning and even if I had known earlier, it’s not absolute. It can be changed. I didn’t want details being overheard by the wrong person.”
“Gotcha. Cookie, when are you coming to see me?”
“I wish I knew. Things are going to be crazy here for a while. Ray is trying to pull us out to him, Russell, Bart and Stan are coming for a visit, Alcide and I have our indoctrination at the end of the month in Boston and you heard about Virginia, Georgia and New York. I’m starting a remodel on the club, planning a wedding, hiring security, we’ll be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and I have find out what Russell has planned for crowning Eric since it’s being passed to him. It’ll be crazy until the honeymoon.”
“Well then, you leave me no choice. I am formally announcing a need to reserve a room at Chateau de Northman for Mardi Gras. By the way, I have a Sherriff who can officiate for you. He followed Northman’s lead when he found out who married Bart and Russell.”
“Thanks, but I’m going to have David Thrash do it.” Alcide ears perked up. My nest had been listening in as per the usual.
Margaux was amused. “How do you propose to do that?”
“He’d better do it for me. I saved his fucking ass. I’m going through his wife she’ll tend to it.”
I heard a loud thud and the clamor of boisterous voices in the background. “Cookie, I’m very happy for you but we are actually in the middle of our own Northman party and my guests are getting a little rambunctious. Tell your Master: California is proud and grateful for him. I will talk to you soon.”
“You bet, kisses.”
Everyone at the table was staring at me. “Eric, did you hear Margaux’s congrats?”
He nodded. “Lover, what indoctrination?”
“Oh, Alcide and I are going to be judges. The Weres and Shifters are going public soon but after the speed bumps Vampires had and still have, it was decided on to set up a ‘judicial branch of supernatural government’ and have it in place for a while before they go public. That way there are facts and figures to present to the public for when they panic over how to legislate them too. Things are already in place. In each kingdom the Regent will be the judge and jury but there will be neutral judges for inter kingdom disputes. The Weres are going to defer to their Packmaster but inter Pack disputes will be judged by the ‘Lunar’ court. I’ll be on the inter species council. Apparently, I’m known as a friend to all.”
Alcide laughed. “I’ll say! You got a hand written Christmas card from your daemon lawyer!”
Eric had been nodding thoughtfully but he laughed when he heard that Mr. Cataliades thought of me at Christmas. “It was probably the only one he sent out. So will this be a day job? Where will you work?”
Alcide and I shared a look. Eric noticed and I felt a spike of anxiety in the bond. “Don’t worry sweetie. We are going to be a circuit court. Every other Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, as needed we will travel to a different city. All three courts will convene at the same time, so when I travel I’ll have Alcide with me. Security, travel and lodgings will be the responsibility of the host king or queen. All 30 have agreed. Plus someone is going to D.C, with the information. We’ve heard rumors from within the human government that since Supes are making such a huge gesture by forming a legal system for ourselves that we can have hate crimes by humans against Supes in the inter species court.” I had said the last part with a wicked smile on my face that probably would have scared small children.
Eric was smiling almost as wickedly. “Would you feel comfortable sentencing a human who harmed a Supe? You have been known to be squeamish in the past.”
I stuck my tongue out at him. “Bite me. I’ll have to wait and see if we even get that privilege, but after what the fellowship has done to me, I’m pretty sure I can handle it. Anything else?”
“Why would David Thrash want to perform our wedding?”
I smiled at him. “Before you went bowling for Vampires at the Abbey, I told him and his wife to get the fuck out of Dodge while they could. I thought he’d be a good choice for the job unless you have someone else in mind.”
“No, you’re right. Having a Were Lieutenant Governor marry the Vampire King and Queen would be appropriate.”
I smiled at him when he gave me a look like he was proud of me. “So, what’s up over there? Did Bill leave a lump to Old Miss Bellfleur or did he split it up between the three of them?”
Eric looked like he didn’t want to tell me but eventually spoke. “He left everything to you.”
“Really? Ok. Well, I guess that means we don’t need to worry about Tara’s rent now.” I giggled but Eric gave me a look. “What? Did he leave me with a mortgage?”
Eric found that amusing. “I think you should see the file for yourself.” He grabbed my seat and slid it over to touch his. “Sookie, the file has copies of 34 deeds, a list of tech stocks that he bought when the companies first went public, he owned 12 strip malls and then there are Lorena’s assets that he inherited from her. She owned a lot of real estate and then there is the matter of her jewelry and then both of them had a lot of cash.” He put the itemized list of foreign bank accounts and estimated balances on the top.
I looked it over and then grabbed the bottle of champagne and up ended it. Once it was gone I asked, “Bottom line, Eric”
“The bottom line is that you have more than $100,000,000 in cash and assets. Most of it was Lorena’s but apparently she and Bill were very shrewd.” I stood up and gave him a kiss and started walking towards the stairs. “Lover, where are you going?”
“I’m going to bed before something else happens. Today has been big enough already.” Eric followed me. I took a quick shower and climbed into bed with my handsome fiancée (king?) and snuggled into my usual position.
“Why didn’t you tell me about Russell?”
“First of all, the ‘I dub thee king Eric of Louisiana’ thing was as much news to me as it was to you. I thought he was coming to tell us that he was the new king. I didn’t know he was fighting for something he didn’t want. Secondly, you were being overseen and I knew they were watching you. At first, I needed someone who could explain things to me and to work through suspicions with. Pam was in the same boat as you and Alcide and Amelia knew even less about vampire politics than I did. He had already been leery of that tool Madden and even more so of DeCastro so when I told him about the formal protection, he knew something wasn’t right so he put his ears down. When I gave him a hug when we got to Jackson for our first visit I had my first ‘flash’. I passed out from it. It was horrible. Felipe was going to send in a kamikaze to wound Bart and then torture and kill them together just for sport. So we set a plan in motion. Everyone had heard of me because of Rhodes. No one liked Nevada because of what a coward he was about Sophie-Anne. It took me no time at all to get us the allies we needed. Just so you know, this was a joint effort 14 kingdoms came together on this and they all agreed that you should be ‘the’ guy. I haven’t told you this week because I was watching out for the possibility of a visit from one of the double mint twins.” He chuckled at that.
“So you hid something from me because you were watching out for me?”
“Go ahead and say ‘I told you so’, I know now that there is a time full disclosure and a time for small omissions.” He didn’t say anything but the bond was bouncing with cocky swagger so I changed the subject. “What is Bobby’s background?”
“Legal. He is great for contracts and such. Why?”
“I think I am going to need him the day after tomorrow to help with the contractors for the club, going over bids and looking at contracts.”
“I will call him tomorrow and let him know what time you will need him. What do you propose to do about lodgings for our company?”
“I was thinking that I could go rent a few RVs. They tend to sleep up to 6 people so we’ll need 5 of them. We can just line them up next to the garage. I just hope I can find one that is light proof. I can rent an enclosed party tent, tables, chairs, and temporary floor as a dining area. I think we should cater the bodyguard’s meals. If we split it up between Palisade’s and Cheap Seats and a few other places and have Bobby’s teen wolves drive delivery the burden shouldn’t be too much for any of them to bear. What do you think?”
“I think it is a lot.”
“I’m sorry. I should have asked before I offered your house like that. I’m sorry.”
“Our house, Sookie. Our home. Don’t be sorry. I was impressed that you were behaving as a gracious queen would. The cost is of no consequence so don’t worry about that. My concern is that you might be taking on too much at once. Are you sure you want to do it all. Would you like to hire an assistant?”
“Eh, Don’t worry about me. I need to make a lot of phone calls and other than going to the RV dealer and getting more test tubes, I will probably end up watching a movie or two and chill out tomorrow.”
“I am sure you will surpass everyone’s expectations.”
“I couldn’t care less what everyone thinks, as long as I make you proud.”
He hugged me closer to him and stroked my hair for a while. “When did you decide on snow for our honeymoon, Lover?”
“I never considered anything else. Why?”
“I would have taken you to a beach. I know how you love the sun.”
“Why? I’m honeymooning with you. I’d rather you teach me how to ski in the moonlight and we can make love in front of a roaring fireplace. Besides, I always thought of you as a cool weather kind of guy. Do you want to do something else?”
“I love the idea. I am just surprised, not at all disappointed… Sookie, what did you and Russell mean about those states fighting over you?”
“Oh that!” I laughed, “They all want us to honeymoon there so we can visit.”
He sat up a little and looked down at me in disbelief. “Sookie, have you become friends with these vampires?” He shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
I sat up and grabbed my phone. “You didn’t know? I was sure you were checking my phone.” I handed it to him. “I got something like 50 texts tonight. I wouldn’t call us all friends as much as very friendly pen pals. They’re all really fun.”
He had scrolled through my texts and saw silly texts. The king of Florida sent a spam joke: What are a vampire’s favorite snacks? Adam’s apples and nectarines. A few minutes later Bart had countered that with: Three vampires went into a bar and sat down. The barmaid came over to take their orders. “And what would you gentlemen like tonight?”The first vampire said, “I’ll have a mug of blood.”The second vampire said, “I’ll have a mug of blood.”The third vampire shook his head at his companions and said, “I will have a glass of plasma.”The barmaid wrote down each order, went to the bar and called to the bartender, “Two bloods and a blood light.” Eric was snorting at how human they all seemed. “This is interesting. You have most of the Kings and Queens in your contact list and they have all texted you today like you have been friends forever.” I nodded. “You didn’t think to tell me that you had so many allies?” He didn’t seem angry, just confused.
“I had kind of been running on the assumption that it was because of you that they were so friendly with me.”
He laughed and laid down. “Sookie, I don’t have half those numbers and would never forward a joke to any of them. You are far more familiar with them than I am.”
“Is that bad that I’m friends with so many of them.”
“Sookie, I think that it’s a wonderful surprise. I think that it will be a very good thing for the Queen of Louisiana to have powerful friends. There are a lot of things that we need to discuss about our new positions.”
“Well, we will be finding ourselves entertaining guests so we might need to move to a larger house. I need to find proper offices befitting a king. And we will need security as you said before. Do you have any ideas or opinions on the matters?”
“Well, I really like this house. I could talk to an architect or two about having some light tight guest houses put on the back of the property. As for security, the room over the garage is plenty big enough for a comfortable dormitory for say, 6 guys full time. Not that it would be needed, but so that it would be available and I can get a bid on the renovation when I deal with the contractors if you want.”
“That sounds perfect. But a lot of work. Are you sure you are up for it?”
“Eric, I’m more afraid of spending the money than I am doing the work.” I sighed.
“How much do you think it will cost?”
“Well, the guest houses, landscaping, renovations, plus the club, the RV rentals and catering… I’m afraid it might be close to a million dollars. The offices are a separate matter. Do you not want to use the offices at the new club?”
“I would be surprised if you came in under 2 million and I am afraid that a noisy night club wouldn’t look very professional. Besides, Pam can use an office there as lieutenant and I can use it for less formal meetings.”
“Well if you can use them for less formal meetings, then you could use the house for more formal things.”
He hummed as he contemplated. “You are right. Russell did say that as King I could do whatever I wanted.”
“That’s the way it should be. I’ll make sure that you and Pam both get a soundproofed office.”
We talked about details until dawn. I tried going to sleep for nearly an hour with no luck so I got dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers to head downstairs.