“What now?” My tone easily revealed my lack of patience with the never-ending drama that now seemed to be defining my life.
“No, wait. Let me guess.” I said as I dropped down onto the couch next to Jason and tapped my chin with one of my fingers. “The Queen has decided to pull rank, or maybe someone else I know is dumb enough to piss off vampires. Oh, I know! Bill has broken out of his coffin prison and is spouting his ‘Sook-eh is mine’ crap again.”
Pam decided to answer my list of possible problems. “The Magister outranks the Queen so she can’t pull rank. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those idiots that left your house did do something to piss me off. As for Bill, if he did break out of the coffin, I would wash his mouth out with soap if he even tried to say those words. I’m sick of them.”
“You and me both, sister.” I agreed with enthusiasm. I think the alcohol was already working. I never could hold my liquor very well.
“ENOUGH.” Eric apparently wasn’t amused by our exchange.
After he gave us each a glare to make sure we knew he was done with the humor, we found out that Pam and I had not been that far off the mark.
“Someone has called the local news.” Eric hissed.
“So, it was option number two.” Pam deadpanned as she rolled her eyes.
“I don’t understand.” Apparently, I was the only one who didn’t get it. “Who called the news about what?”
“Someone called the news about you.” Eric replied.
“Huh?” I know it wasn’t an intelligent reply but it was all I had. Why would someone call the news about me and why would it make Eric so mad?
“Sook,” Jason said my name to get my attention. “You know part of my deal with your vamp over there is to tell him what happens in Bon Temps.” He emphasized ‘that vamp over there’ with a head jerk in Eric’s direction. Like I didn’t know who he was talking about!
I nodded impatiently to show I was following along.
“Today I was at Merlotte’s for lunch when this guy comes in that I’ve never seen before. He looked around for a minute before he walked up to the bar and asked if Sookie Stackhouse worked there. Tara was working the bar and she grumbled ‘Not anymore.’ Her answer seemed to be just what this guy was lookin’ for because he looked all eager and stuff when he said ‘Why is that?'”
“Shit. What did she say?” I asked. Tara had been pretty pissed last night and I didn’t want her talking to anyone about me.
Jason laughed. “Tara told him it was ‘None of his fucking business’ right before she told him if he wasn’t going to order anything he needed to get the ‘fuck away from her bar.'”
Well, that was definitely Tara.
“About the time Tara finished yelling at the guy, Sam came out of the back. He asked what the problem was and the newbie said he was looking for Sookie but he’d learned she didn’t work there anymore. Of course, he then asked Sam if he knew why you left.”
“And?” Jason had paused to take a drink from the bottle of beer he was holding and I really wanted to slap him for taking a ‘time-out.’
“I thought it was best not to let him answer. So, I introduced myself to the guy and told him I was your brother so he should be asking me. Well, that’s when he told me he was a reporter from the Shreveport Chronicle. When I asked him what he wanted with you, he didn’t answer but he did ask me if I knew where you were. I told him I did, but I wasn’t tellin’ him anything because he didn’t answer my question.”
“Get to the point Stackhouse.” Eric ordered sharply. Like me, his patience was wearing thin. “What did he want and what was he told?”
“Fine. I was just trying to be thorough.” Jason shrugged. “It seems the newspaper got an anonymous tip that Sook was being turned and they said it was against her will. He said normally they don’t investigate these types of tips because they get so many from families that are mad about the choices their relatives make, but the caller said the vampire involved owned a big bar in Shreveport so the Editor wanted this guy to look into it. They thought it could be a big story.”
“And what did he learn while he was at the Shifter’s bar?” Eric growled.
“Shifter?” Jason asked.
Damn. I guess he hasn’t gotten his Supe 101 lessons yet. “Someone will explain that later. Tell us what the reporter was told.”
“I told him that you’d already spoken to me and it was the choice you’d made on your own. He didn’t need to be nosing around there making things more complicated for you than they already would be because people were so prejudice against vamps.” Jason looked really proud of himself.
“But what about Sam and Tara?” I was thankful for my brother’s support but I was worried about what the others might have told the reporter.
“I was worried about them too because they had this look on their faces like this might be the way to ‘save you.’ So, that’s why I looked at them when I stressed ‘nosing around’ and ‘more complicated.’ They got the picture that the last thing you needed was some reporter getting wind of your mind readin’ thing while he was talking to people in town.”
“Did it work?” I asked. I had to admit I was impressed with my brother’s craftiness today.
“Well, it kept Sam and Tara quiet, but this guy says he really has to talk to you and your vampire to make sure there’s not a story there. We did get him to leave Merlotte’s though when we told him we were the only ones who knew. I’m suppose to give you his card and have you call him tonight.” Jason stood up to pull his wallet out of his back pocket and retrieve the business card. He handed it over to Eric before sitting back down.
Eric looked over the business card before he sighed and said, “Whoever the tipster was knew what they were doing.”
“How so?” I asked.
“Obviously, whoever this person is that called in the tip is trying to prevent your turning for some reason. Can you imagine the backlash on vampires in Louisiana and specifically Fangtasia if a story was printed that I turned you against your will?”
“Yes. Oh.” Eric agreed grimly. “We’d have the American Vampire League on our backs. I really don’t want to deal with that bitch, Nan Flannigan.”
“Ok. So, why don’t we meet with the reporter and we convince him the tip was not true. If that doesn’t work, then glamour him.” I suggested.
“Yes. Those would be the easiest options, but, as I said, the tipster knew what they were doing.” Eric waved the business card in the air. “This reporter is known to associate with the Fellowship of the Sun.”
I didn’t have words. The long list of people and events that kept coming out of the woodwork to interfere with my turning was getting ridiculous. Now, I had to add the vampire hating fantics from the Fellowship to my every growing list of enemies. Fed up with everything, I just threw my hands up in the air as I fell back into the comfort of the couch. “Of course he is. Why wouldn’t he be?”
Eric ignored my sarcasm and motioned for Pam to take the business card. “Have him here at 10:30. Find out as much as you can about him before then, including where his tip came from, whom he may have told about the story, whom he’s talked to today, and if he informs anyone he’s coming here. Sookie and I must leave at 11:00.”
Pam nodded and left without another word.
“Stackhouse, you did well today.” Wow. Eric gave a compliment to my brother. “Now, you need to see the bartender to get the supplies for Eddie. His name is Chow. Pam will contact you soon regarding your lessons about the supernatural world. You’re dismissed.”
Jason stared at Eric for a few seconds before standing up while talking to me, “These vampires aren’t much for manners are they?”
Eric growled at my brother, but I just stood up, laughed, and gave him a hug. “No, they really aren’t. I’ll probably be the only vampire with Southern Manners.”
Jason laughed while he gave me a long hug back. Then, he surprised me with a kiss on my temple. “Stay safe, Sook. I’ll see ya soon.”
Before I could say anything or truly realize I had more than likely hugged my brother for the last time as a human, the door was closing behind him.
Eric and I had just barely begun to make our list of possible tipsters, which included the Queen, Tara, and Sam, when Eric’s lawyer, Mr. Cataliades, made his appearance.
When Eric had told me on our drive to Fangtasia that his lawyer was part-demon, I didn’t really know what to expect, but with all the possibilities I imagined, I didn’t even come close.
The attorney was about six feet tall with a large belly. His round head was almost bald with only a fringe of black hair circling right above his ears. He had little circular eyes too that were as black as his hair and matched the suit he was wearing. His shirt was a gleaming white that matched his sharp, white teeth and he wore a thin, plain black tie. He looked like a funeral home director for the criminally insane.
However, his mannerisms completely contradicted his outward appearance. When he started speaking, his tone was surprisingly melodic and he carried himself with the ease and grace only supernaturals seemed to be able to perfect. I tried to read his mind but, when I lifted my shields to listen to him, all I got was static.
I will say that his manners were beyond reproach and I quickly found myself liking the lawyer even if his appearance was a little off-putting.
While Mr. Cataliades was very friendly, he was also professional and organized. In addition to bringing paperwork for me to sign my home over to Eric, he also had papers to turn over all my utilities, bank accounts, and car.
“Eric! What is all this? Why . . .” I didn’t get any further before he interrupted me.
“We’ve already discussed the fact that the transition from human to vampire does not make for a smooth transition of your assets. By transferring everything over now, we skip the whole thing and I can transfer back what is needed.” Eric explained coolly.
“So, you will transfer it back?” I pressed.
“Most of it.” Eric shrugged.
“What’s that suppose to mean?” I said indignantly.
“It means I’m not giving you that piece of junk you call a car back. You’ll have a new one.” Before I could say anything he glared at me and added, “There is nothing to discuss. My child is a reflection on me and that car is disgraceful. Now, sign the papers, Sookie.” He ordered while he pushed the papers towards me.
I glared at Eric in silence for at least two minutes before I disgruntledly started signing the papers.
Mr. C’s smile never left his face as he watched us and pointed out the places for my signature. I decided to start calling him Mr. C in my head because his full name was just a mouthful.
Once I was finished signing away all my possessions to Eric, Mr. C pulled out another stack of papers. This one was actually bigger than the first pile.
My mouth got the better of me then, “What are those? Do I need to sign away my life now?”
I had barely finished speaking when Eric’s hand grabbed my chin, none too gently, to make me face him. “You’ve yet to know what a punishment from me will be like. Are you so eager to find out tonight?”
I was so shocked by the suddenness of his movements that I shook my head automatically in response to his question.
“Then I suggest you apologize and control your sarcasm. I do not find it amusing tonight.” Eric let go of my chin roughly and turned back to face the lawyer.
“I apologize for my rudeness. It won’t happen again.” Even though it pained me to do it, I had to admit that I had been rude to the lawyer for no real reason. None of this was his fault.
“That’s okay, Ms. Stackhouse. I’m sure you are under a lot of stress. Shall we review these forms, now?” The lawyer asked kindly and I nodded in response.
“Sookie, these forms are to take care of the transfer of your family home back to your name, register you as a vampire, and set up new bank accounts. You will sign them.” Eric’s voice told me that now was not the time for my questions and his patience was at its end. This was going to be a wonderful night. If I was going to be with him all night, I hoped his mood improved soon.
When I had finished signing all the papers, Eric and Mr. C talked about the issue with the reporter. Mr. C advised us to both sign statements saying that I was making the choice of my own free will and he would notarize them. If the reporter didn’t back down, then he could attempt to get an injunction through the courts to prevent the newspaper from printing the story since the reporter would have proof it was false and the article would hurt Eric’s business. I think Mr. C said it was called libel but I’m not really sure. I’ve never really understood all the legal talk and I tended to gloss over those details in the books I read. Mr. C also said it would be better if we had proof that the reporter was tied to the Fellowship so we could prove his prejudice.
Eric agreed with the lawyer’s plan so he stood to walk Mr. C over to Pam’s office. The attorney was going to type up the statements for us to sign on his laptop.
Before Mr. C left the office though, he pulled a sealed envelope out of his briefcase and handed it to Eric. I could see a wax seal on the back of the envelope, but I couldn’t make out the details.
“Your Queen knew I was coming to Shreveport tonight and asked that I deliver this letter to you.”
Eric took the letter before leaving with the lawyer to show him to Pam’s office. I was left behind in Eric’s office to fret over what the letter entailed. Was she going to try to interfere? Was there anything she could do to interfere? I hadn’t met her, but I wouldn’t let my maker be someone who was such a cold-hearted bitch as to send Bill here to seduce a virgin.
No. I needed to stop thinking like that. Pam said the Magister outranked the Queen so she couldn’t interfere.
But it wasn’t like vampires always followed the rules.
And what could he really do if she had already turned me? I didn’t know much, okay anything, about vampire politics but I doubted the Magister would stake the Queen if she stole me and turned me. So, if that happened, she would still be my maker. Maybe she was willing to risk it to have a telepathic child.
I was pacing around the office at this point as I continued to go over scenarios for the content of the Queen’s letter. If she wasn’t trying to become my Maker, could she require me to move to New Orleans even after Eric turned me? She would be my queen too so wouldn’t I have to obey her?
Yes. I would have to obey her just like Eric does. She could just wait for him to turn me and then order me to be given to her. Damn it!
No, she couldn’t do that. Eric said that bonded children couldn’t be separated from their makers. So, if she did make me move at least Eric would be with me. However, she wouldn’t want to take her Sherriff away from his area would she?
UGH! I’d never even met this vampire and she was already driving me insane.
After biting my nails to the quick and cursing Eric for taking so long with Mr. C, I made two decisions.
First, I decided to stop worrying until Eric came back because it was only getting me worked up when I really didn’t have enough information to come to any conclusions.
Second, if Eric in any way indicated that I was being given to the Queen, then I would definitely be taking Fintan up on his offer to fake my death and hide me from the supernatural world.
Several minutes later, Eric returned with Pam in tow. He didn’t have the Queen’s letter in his hand so I knew he had read it. I had been worrying myself sick about what was in that letter and I couldn’t wait another minute.
“What did the . . . ” I started.
Of course, I didn’t get to finish my sentence since Eric interrupted me like he always does. “We’ll discuss it later.”
When I opened my mouth to argue, he glared at me and I just knew he was about to warn me about his punishments again. I didn’t care though. I was sick of his controlling, self-important attitude tonight and I was going to let him know it. I was sick of being controlled.
However, before I could get myself in trouble again, a knock on the door prevented any further argument.
Eric and I didn’t break our angry glare as Chow stated from the other side of the door that the reporter had arrived. Eric told him to seat the man at the bar and Pam would retrieve him in a moment.
Walking to his desk to sit down, Eric spoke to Pam. “What have you learned?”
“Mr. Jacob’s phone records only indicated he talked to his family, his editor, and the garage where his wife’s van is being worked on. He gives money to the local Fellowship group but his wife seems to be the only one that attends any meetings. The tip seems to have came in as an unknown caller to his work number right before dawn this morning. They must have left a voicemail. Reuben said the call came from an untraceable, disposable cell phone. However, he did track the origin of the call to a cell phone tower in Mississippi.” Pam recited her findings.
Wow. She found out a lot in a half hour.
“How did you find all of that out so quickly?” I was astonished at how much she learned in a half hour.
“Reuben is a very talented vampire who works for Eric. He is a good investigator. Amongst other things.” Pam explained with a smirk.
“You’ve done well, Pam.” Eric said as he walked to his desk and appeared to be shutting down his computer. “Make sure he doesn’t have any recording devices and then glamour him. Have him tell his editor that the tip was false. We will sign the affidavits that Mr. Cataliades has drawn up and leave them with you in case they are needed.”
“Master?” Pam stepped towards Eric as she continued, “If the Editor of the paper is desperate enough, he may still want to do the story regardless of the reporter’s supposed findings. Should we allow him to write the story but spin it to our advantage?”
Eric turned to look at her, “What do you propose?”
“Give him the statements proving the change is voluntary. Then, give him just enough to write the story as more of a society update. You are well known, vampire businessman in the area and you are normally on display here. It will be news that you have made a new child.” Pam gave a fangy smile. “It will no doubt also improve our clientele numbers. Everyone will be interested in seeing her. We could add a throne beside yours.”
“Hell no.” I shouted. “I don’t want to be gawked at. I’ve dealt with that my entire life. I don’t need to encourage it now.”
“Sookie,” Pam snapped at me, “Did you really think that being a vampire would garner you less attention?”
“No,” I admitted “but I didn’t intend on intentionally drawing more attention to myself!”
Eric had been silently considering Pam’s words while she and I sparred back and forth.
“Pam’s right,” Eric sighed and my mouth dropped open. “The story will come out one way or another eventually and it will be better if we control it now. We don’t need reporters going to Bon Temps to try to find out details. That poses too much of a risk that people in your hometown will mention how you know things or ‘hear’ things.”
Pam seemed proud as a peacock that Eric agreed with her plan, but I just glared at her.
“Fine.” I said gruffly. “But that doesn’t mean I need to sit on the stage with you. I’m not that interesting.”
“Dear sister,” Pam said with fake sweetness, “You will be the most interesting thing in the world to the Fangbangers.”
“That’s ridiculous.” I argued. I knew there was nothing interesting about me.
“REALLY?” She challenged. “You don’t think they’ll be dying to see the person the Master chose among all humans to turn into his child? Certainly you know that most of them dream of Eric turning them. You don’t think they want to see what makes you so special? Or maybe they will want to try to please you as a way to please him?”
My face paled as I realized she was right. I was going from one kind of freak as the mind reader in Bon Temps to a totally new kind of freak as the new vampire everyone envied at Fangtasia.
“Shit.” I whispered as I sat back down on the couch.
“If it makes you feel any better,” Eric added offhandedly as he packed up his laptop, “you were already going to have a seat beside me on the stage. It would be expected as my bonded that you would sit with me.”
“I’ve already ordered it!” Pam added with a teasing grin.
“Wonderful.” I responded sarcastically.
“Pam, we are leaving and you have your instructions. Do not contact me unless it is a true emergency. I trust you can handle everything.” Eric motioned for me to follow him to the door.
“Yes, Master.” Pam replied as we left Eric’s office.
After stopping off at Pam’s office to sign the statements Mr. C had typed up, we made our way back to Eric’s corvette.
“Where are we going now?” I asked as he pulled out of the parking lot.
“I told you before that we were going to use tonight to get to know each other better.” He replied while raising an eyebrow in my direction.
Well, that told me a lot.
“Exactly how are we going to go about doing that?” I said with a huff. I was exasperated that he wouldn’t just tell me where we were going. I had enough surprises lately. I didn’t want anymore.
He smirked at me with a mischievous glint in his eye before responding with a low, seductive voice that made my lower stomach tighten in anticipation. “Don’t worry. I’ve got a few ideas on how we can get to know each other very well before the night is over.”