The next two nights were spent in the Queen’s Palace as I read her employees. I found thieves, Fellowship plants, underage donors, and spies from Nevada. Godric never left my side during the visit to the Queen’s play yard and, as my Maker, he wasn’t expected to. Eric and Pam used the excuse of organizing the human masses as their reason for hanging around. Eric made it sound like we had done this interviewing song and dance before so the guards didn’t question him.
Of course, I’m also sure his status as a Sheriff had something to do with his ability to get what he wanted in the Palace.
However, even though my family surrounded me, I was . . . unsettled.
We had yet to see the Queen and, rather than be comforted by her absence, I felt like I was waiting on the other shoe to drop.
Currently, we’re all sitting around waiting on the Queen’s second, Andre, to grace us with his presence in the interview room. I finished with the last human twenty minutes ago, and Eric sent word to Andre, via the guards, that we were ready for a debriefing.
I wasn’t looking forward to it. Andre gave me the creeps.
To keep myself from fidgeting and annoying Pam while we waited, I turned my attention to Godric. “Do you think we will be able to leave after we update Andre on my findings?”
What I really meant: Do you think the Queen is going to keep us here and try something?
“I do not know” Godric answered smoothly. “I would not expect us to be leaving so quickly.”
My translation: It’s possible. I would be surprised if she didn’t try something.
I stood up from my seat at the conference table and started pacing the room. The stillness of my family was starting to grate on my nerves and I needed some way to get rid of my nervous energy.
I was on my tenth lap of the small conference room when I heard someone approaching the door. I retook my seat at the table, between Godric and Eric, as Andre walked into the room. He’s entire being radiated superiority and menace, and I simply couldn’t stand him.
“We have read your reports and the Queen is pleased with your usefulness.” Andre reported tersely. “You will return in two weeks time to provide added security by discreetly reading the King of Mississippi’s entourage when he visits. You will be contacted with details.”
Then he was gone and I felt most of the tension drain from my body. At least it did until I realized Eric and Godric seemed to be having a silent conversation with their eyes.
“What is it?” I asked when I felt their concern through the bond, along with Pam’s curiosity.
Godric shook his head once and a wave of patience entered me through our bond.
I suppose I had to wait to get answers.
After Andre summarily dismissed us, it only took twenty minutes for each of us to pack our bags, load the SUV, and pull out onto the highway. When I started to open my mouth to finally get some answers about what the hell just happened, Godric raised his hand to motion for me to stay silent.
Once we had made our way outside of New Orleans and were about a half hour from the palace, Eric pulled the vehicle off the round and onto a secluded dirt road. I was growing more confused by the moment but I knew Godric’s order to remain silent was still in effect.
Eric drove far enough onto the overgrown road to hide the SUV from prying eyes of passersby, before he parked and exited the vehicle with Godric and Pam following. I may not have known what was going on, but I wasn’t going to sit in the car by myself like an idiot so I got out too. I found Pam and Godric standing about five feet behind the vehicle. Eric was walking into the woods to their left.
I moved to stand in front of Godric and sent him my frustration and curiosity. His lip turned up slightly before he pointed to Eric, who was returning from his jaunt in the woods. Only now he was carrying a small device I had seen before in his office and I suddenly understood.
Eric was returning with the machine he used to sweep his office for listening devices. He must have had someone hide it here so that he could check his SUV after it had been at the Palace for two nights.
I didn’t know if I was impressed by my new family’s thoroughness, or depressed at the level of deceitfulness I now had to protect myself and my family from in this new world.
The three of us stood and watched Eric move around the vehicle scanning for bugs. It only took him ten minutes and, in the end, he found three listening devices and a tracking mechanism.
I could slightly feel his anger through my bond with Godric. I can only imagine how I would feel if someone was betraying me after I had served her loyally for over fifty years.
We all walked back towards our doors while Eric opened the back to put the detection device in with the luggage. As I walked by, I placed my hand on his bicep and slightly squeezed to show my support before continuing on to my seat.
The moment everyone was back in their seats and Eric turned back onto the highway, the conversation started.
“Mississippi.” Eric’s voice held annoyance, disdain, and resignation.
“A marriage contract?” Godric’s voice had only a slight question to it as if he was already certain of the answer.
Eric nodded. “I can think of no other reason for Edgington to visit. They are not friendly and there are no conflicts to be resolved.” He paused for a moment. “Sophie Anne has been overspending and the state is broke. Mississippi has money. In addition, Sophie is young while Edgington is older than both of us. He would be a powerful ally for her to have, if she is considering ending you to secure Sookie.”
My heart would have been pounding out of my chest if it still beat.
“However, Andre said Sookie’s work would be discreet. Therefore, we can assume Edgington does not know about Sookie or her telepathy, otherwise there would be no reason for secrecy.”
Pam spoke up next, “Is it possible Mississippi approached Sophie Anne instead of the other way around?”
“It’s possible.” Eric’s voice was now thoughtful. “Louisiana should be a rich state, with New Orleans being a tourist trap when it comes to the vampire culture.”
“Yes, and he could have decided to gain the state through marriage instead of through force.” Godric nodded.
I took a deep breath while they were talking. Being frightened or overwhelmed was not going to help the situation or me personally. I needed to follow my family’s example and think things through logically.
“I’m sure Mississippi approached her.” I interjected confidently.
The car was silent for a moment before Godric turned his head to eye me curiously. “Why my child?”
“First, she seems to already have a complex about not being rich or powerful enough. So, I can’t see her approaching someone who is both in spades and basically handing over her state. Also, she wouldn’t be able to control Mississippi’s reaction to any request to help secure me. It’s too much of a risk to bring in someone older and more powerful since they could simply take me, or take over the state and still get me.”
Godric nodded. “Both are very astute observations.”
“That’s not the biggest reason though.” I continued. “We were all positive the Queen would use the Witch against us tonight, but she didn’t. I think she planned to use the Witch but now she has this issue with Mississippi and she needs us. If she has a wolf at her gate, hiding in sheep’s clothing, the last thing she would do is risk rocking the boat with the two oldest vampires in her retinue, and her new telepath.”
I felt pride wash through me from all sides and I couldn’t help but smile.
“You always did have a way of thinking outside of the box, Sookie Stackhouse.” Eric’s voice contained a smile.
“Thanks.” I mumbled shyly. I was never good at taking compliments.
“Now that we all agree that Mississippi most likely approached the Queen, we need to discuss the ramifications.” Godric advised.
“I agree with the comments Sookie made about the Queen. It is unlikely she will agree to marry Mississippi. Therefore, Mississippi will have to decide whether or not Louisiana is worth a hostile takeover.”
“Keeping Sookie’s talent a secret will be imperative.” Eric interjected. “If Edgington knew that taking over Louisiana would gain him a telepath, it might tilt the scales in the favor of a hostile takeover.”
“Agreed.” Godric nodded. “We will use this week to help Sookie further hide her reactions to human, Shifter, and Were thoughts. Additionally, we will discuss signals for any immediate dangers. All other items she learns from the King’s entourage can be communicated in private.”
The rest of the ride back to our home from New Orleans was silent. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel afraid or uncomfortable during the silence. We had a plan for the upcoming complications with the Queen and Mississippi, and I had confidence in the three vampires surrounding me.
As I set back in my seat and stared out the window, I thought back on the past few months.
It was amazing how much I had learned about being a vampire in the couple of months alone with Godric before coming back to Louisiana. He had taught me vampire etiquette, how to feed without feeling guilty, how to control my bloodlust, the political climate and leaders of our world, and he had started helping me heal from the events at the Fellowship. Additionally, he had helped me regain control over my telepathy, which had gone a little haywire when I first rose, as well as assisting me with my new ‘invisibility’ talent.
The most surprising part of the past few months, however, was not any of these things. The thing that has surprised me the most is how much I’ve grown to care about the other vampires in the car with me in such a short time. Several months ago if anyone would have told me I would be friends with Pam, have a strong, ancient vampire as a mentor, or I would in any way shape or form like Eric, then I would have thought they’d lost their ever loving mind.
However, here I was now. It boggles the mind.
I could feel everyone had become lost in their own thoughts. They all felt contemplative with brief flashes of worry, humor, determination, anticipation, and lust.
I had to suppress my smile at that last emotion. I knew exactly whom it was coming from.
My child was infatuated with Sookie Stackhouse.
It was probably wrong of me to find humor in the situation, but very few things amuse me at my age so I didn’t feel bad about it. In fact, I thought about placing a bet with Pam in secret regarding my two children. After all, they are very compatible and I believe they would be happy together if they ever figure it all out.
I don’t think Sookie is truly aware of Eric’s interest in her. Of course she knows he’s sexually attracted to her, but I believe his history with women has wrongfully made her assume that sex is where his interest ends.
I had to suppress a huge smile when Sookie softly gripped his arm earlier as a show of support. She had no clue the amount of affection and hope that flowed through Eric from just that small touch.
I can feel his emotions clearly and Eric is definitely interested in more than a night of meaningless sex with Sookie.
It’s about time.
Again, I have to fight a smile.
In over a thousand years as Eric’s Maker, I’ve never felt this level of interest in a potential partner from him. He is overly protective, intrigued, proud, affectionate, and amused around her in varying quantities. Lust is always there as well but not in an obscene way.
I wonder how things will progress once she catches on – and I have no doubt that she will. She is smart and observant. Not to mention the fact Pam will start to point things out to her once she catches on herself. I’m truly surprised she hasn’t caught wind of Eric’s abnormal behavior already.
I couldn’t contain my grin as I tried to predict Pam and Sookie’s reaction when they truly comprehended Eric’s level of interest. Nothing could convince them more than his abstinence from sex that began the night Sookie and I returned. I couldn’t remember a time in the modern era when Eric had willingly deprived himself of the pleasure of a woman’s body.
My thoughts suddenly took a darker turn and I considered Sookie’s state of mind. She seems to be doing very well for a newborn, but I wasn’t sure how to help her with any emotional fallout from the rape she suffered at the Fellowship.
When she first rose and fed, she acted on her instincts like all newly risen vampires and attempted to have sex with me. Knowing she would not want to be intimate with me after everything she had been through, I refused. Her tantrum was astronomical and it took three additional feedings and me pinning her body to the ground before she came back into her right mind. When she did, she was beside herself with grief, horror, and embarrassment. I held her as she cried red tears and I soothed her as best as I could. She kissed me on the cheek when she finally calmed down enough to go clean up and whispered a soft, “thank you.”
Sookie had controlled her lust on her own since that first night and I had only felt small moments of lust from her since then. Unsurprisingly, the times of lust were always when she was around Eric.
I sighed. I knew Eric and Sookie could be very happy together but I wasn’t sure when the timing would be right or if Sookie could even handle a relationship anytime soon. I also wasn’t sure exactly how much Eric wanted from a relationship with Sookie. I knew it was about more than sex, but would he want to bond or pledge in the future if she was agreeable?
After contemplating the situation for several minutes, I decided everything would work out as it should in the end.
Eric was a very patient vampire.