I kept the fangbangers in my office for thirty-three minutes and twelve seconds—which was precisely thirty-three minutes and twelve seconds longer than I wanted to.
Thirty-three nauseating minutes.
And twelve seconds.
I kept the women glamoured to be silent. I think that a single moan from either of them would have caused their deaths.
The only comfort I had was that Sookie had insisted upon this part of the plan.
So I did the most difficult part first. I bit them.
Sookie had wanted me to take a full meal from each—so that I would be as strong as possible. Thus, I’d held my nose and taken two long drags from each of them. I hadn’t bothered to heal either of their bite marks fully, though I’d not left them bleeding out either.
After that, I’d used the towel that I’d used to clean up my cum from Sookie’s body to mark the fangbangers with my “essence.”
Gross—to be sure.
But a necessary evil to create the proper illusion. After all, Jock was a vampire, which meant he’d be able to smell whether or not I’d touched the women.
In fact, I didn’t touch them after I bit them, but the towel had.
Finally, I glamoured the two fangbangers to “work on themselves—silently” so that they would be aroused and stink of their own sex too. As they did that, I worked on paperwork and tried to pretend they weren’t there. After a glamour job so that they would believe that we’d had “the best threesome ever,” I was well rid of them.
I showered—thoroughly—in my private bathroom so that Jock wouldn’t wonder why I didn’t smell like them, and then I went back into the bar, trying to project myself as if I didn’t give a shit about anything.
In truth, one of the individuals I cared about was moving farther and farther away from me.
I sighed with relief, knowing that Pam would likely be in Texas very soon. Sookie, too, was moving, and I knew that she and the witches would be almost to Bon Temps by now.
I longed to be with her, but I had business to attend to before I could be.
The first thing I did was to summon Thalia to Fangtasia. Once the ancient vampiress arrived, I made a show of inviting her onto the dais and declaring her to be my second in command. She looked about ready to kill me, but accepted the position with a nod nonetheless.
Thalia was old enough and experienced enough to know that I was up to something; however, her expression told me that the position I was forcing upon her better be temporary. I hoped that it would be.
Honestly, Thalia was a failsafe. With Pam now gone for the foreseeable future, Thalia could offer Sookie some security if something happened to me, for—of all the vampires in my area—she was the one whom Felipe would be the least likely to fuck with. Hell—I only fucked with Thalia about her “service” at Fangtasia because I knew she would tolerate it.
Since she “liked” me.
And I also knew that she would understand why I needed her now—once I told her what was going on
After appointing Thalia, I very loudly ordered her to call all Area 5 vampires in order to inform them to be at Fangtasia at 10:00 p.m. the following night. She was nonplussed about that duty to say the least. Thus, I suggested that she delegate the chore to Jock.
It would serve that rat-bastard spy right to have to do the busy work which would very likely lead to his own demise.
Once Thalia was on the job, I left the club to get “Were help.”
While flying, I went over the possibilities for the next night. Of course, I had no doubt at all that Victor would take the opportunity I would be handing him on a silver platter to “kill” me and take Sookie. I’d all but admitted to Felipe that I couldn’t control my bonded. And Felipe had volunteered Victor’s services a little too enthusiastically for the offer to be innocent.
And that meant that Sookie had been right: the caped king would have to go too, or we’d have to leave the state. But those aspects of the “plan” were still under consideration—to be decided later that night.
Preferably in bed.
I had little doubt that Felipe would order Victor to cause even more dissention between Sookie and me the next night, something Victor would love doing. Of course, there was also little doubt that Victor would try to provoke me to attack him; that’s what he did every night I saw him, after all.
I sighed again, letting the noise fall away into the air as I flew through it.
Felipe might want me alive because he was in line to receive the payment for “me” from Freyda that Appius would have gotten; however, Victor clearly wanted me dead.
And the sooner the better.
The only thing he wanted more than my death was the possession of Sookie. I knew that he was willing to use force, but I also knew that manufacturing a situation wherein he could be her “hero” would please him even more.
I could imagine him already coming up with scenarios where he “had” to kill me to prevent me from “punishing” Sookie too harshly the next night—scenarios that also required him to “save” her by giving her his blood.
Scenarios which wouldn’t get him into trouble with the king.
Of course, Victor and Felipe were both under the misconception that Sookie obeyed—that she heeled—just like any other blood-bonded human. If they found out that she didn’t—wouldn’t—I knew that things wouldn’t go well for her.
Which is why I had to survive!
Which is why I was humbling myself enough to seek “help” from Alcide fucking Herveaux.
I growled. Once upon I time, I thought that Alcide was a decent man, which was why I’d chosen him to protect Sookie in Jackson. However, I’d completely reevaluated my choice-making process after that fuck up! After all, if I’d not been at Josephine’s when Sookie had been staked, I doubt the vampires would have stayed off of her for long—despite her service to Betty Joe. The wolf certainly hadn’t been of any help in that situation.
Indeed, Alcide had proven himself to be a man of highly questionable honor and taste when he’d insinuated to Debbie Pelt that he and Sookie were lovers just to make the werefox more jealous. Hell! Alcide had insinuated that he and Sookie had been fucking like rabbits even after Debbie had tried to kill Sookie by using a starving vampire—Bill—as her tool.
I’d wanted to kill Alcide right then and there, but I’d been too worried about Sookie at the time, and all she’d wanted to do was to go home. So I’d taken her there.
Bill might have been the one to bite and rape Sookie in the trunk of a car—and for that I’d always wanted to kill him—but it couldn’t be denied that he’d been lacking in control at the time. Oh—I still held him responsible; however, I knew that his attack of Sookie was mostly about his weakness, not his malice. I’d seen his face when Sookie lay almost drained and hurt in the worst way a woman could be. Bill had regretted what he’d down—regretted that he’d been too weak to stop himself from doing it.
The way I looked at it—Bill had been the gun.
Debbie Pelt had been the one to load it—the one to shoot it.
So I blamed them both!
And I blamed Alcide for giving Debbie even more fucking bullets after she’d already attempted murder once!
After all, Alcide would have been able to smell Debbie’s scent on Sookie—just as I had. He’d come down to the garage when he heard the commotion between Bill and me when I’d pulled the trunk off the car and pulled Bill off of Sookie. So he would have been able to smell the werefox around the car too.
Yet—when Debbie had come to “visit” him that night, he’d fanned the flames of her jealousy, disregarding the fact that Sookie could “hear” him with her telepathy—disregarding the fact that she’d been raped earlier that night.
I shook my head. And then the Were had taken the werefox back into his bed!
And, even after that, he’d endangered Sookie several times, taking advantage of her in the name of “friendship.” And—the way he looked at her—the way I could tell that he thought about her—made it difficult for me to control the impulse to snap his fucking neck! He clearly lusted after my bonded, and he was just another of her so-called friends who tried to undermine her relationship with me.
At least, the “help” I needed didn’t involve asking Alcide to have my or Sookie’s back. I wouldn’t have trusted him to do so anyway. However, I would need the area’s Weres to gossip if I wanted Sandra Pelt to be drawn out into the open. In the past—under Colonel Flood—the Longtooth pack could be counted on for discretion and efficiency. That wasn’t the case at all anymore; plus, I figured that Sandra probably had friends in the pack. So they’d make sure that she got any news relevant to her.
Of course, some of the vampires in Area 5 were also gossipmongers, too, but vampires and Weres didn’t exactly travel in the same circles.
I landed well-away from Herveaux’s home. I’d learned long ago to scope out the area before knocking on a Were’s door. After discerning no immediate danger, I approached the front door.
I knocked, and Alcide looked confused as he opened the door. “Why are you here? What did you do to the guards?”
“I bypassed them,” I smirked. It really was sad how easy it had been to avoid the “security” of the packmaster. “We need to talk.”
“What about?” he asked gruffly.
“Sandra Pelt,” I returned, looking for his reaction.
He seemed momentarily surprised and then concerned. Interesting.
“What have you done to her?” he asked, his eyes hate-filled.
As if he had a good reason to hate me!
And not the other way around.
“It is not what I’ve done to her. It is what she has been trying to do to my bonded,” I said.
Alcide winced at my labeling of Sookie. I wanted to both rub in my relationship with Sookie (especially given the fact that we’d truly committed to each other) and rub out the Were in front of me for continuing to demonstrate a possessive streak toward my beloved.
Sadly, now was not the time for either.
“What? What are you talking about?” Alcide asked, his confusion clearly showing. “What has Sandy done?”
“Sandra Pelt is obsessed with taking revenge upon Sookie for her sister’s death. And—to that end—several attempts have been made upon Sookie during the last several days. Pelt was actually apprehended following the last of them, but the incompetent police in Bon Temps allowed her to escape.”
“What? That’s impossible. Sandy has been going to counseling. She’s been workin’ out her anger issues. Or—uh—so I’ve heard,” he amended.
“It seems that she’s regressed then,” I returned flatly.
“Well—what do you want me to do ’bout it?” he asked. “Provide guards for Sook?”
I hated his use of a nickname for her—hated that he had any familiarity with her.
And I happened to know that she hated the nickname.
“That would be a good start. After all, you do profess that Sookie is a friend of your pack,” I said dryly.
“Well—if she would have told me about all this, I’d have helped sooner,” he said defensively.
I sighed. At least I hadn’t been the only one that Sookie hadn’t told about the danger that she was in—not that I would have preferred her telling the Were before me.
The Were who smelled slightly of sex and Sandra Pelt.
However—on a happier note—clearly, “getting my message” to Ms. Pelt would be easier than I had thought.
“Be sure to send Sookie your most competent,” I paused, “puppies. If there are any left in your pack. Is the rumor that Longtooth suffered the defections of three families last month true?”
Herveaux snarled at my reminder of his own incompetence as a packmaster. “You know—you didn’t need to come here to secure guards. You could have just called me. Or—better yet—Sookie could have. She is a friend of the pack—not you!” the oaf shouted.
“As Sheriff of Area 5, I came as a courtesy—to the Longtooth packmaster.” I gave him a shallow nod of the head. “Or—perhaps—you would like for vampires to cut all ties with your pack? Perhaps, your people will do better without all the business vampires offer?”
I enjoyed the fact that the wolf looked as if he were about to shit himself.
“What courtesy?” he growled, his jaw so tight I figured that the odds were good that it was about to snap.
“Given the ineptitude of the police, I will be taking the Sandra Pelt matter into my own hands. However, you know Sookie. She doesn’t want Ms. Pelt to die because of her. Thus, I am giving your pack 24 hours to take care of the problem—internally.”
“Hell no! You want Longtooth to do your dirty work!” Alcide yelled defiantly.
I scoffed. “I don’t care if you kill Ms. Pelt or banish her, but—know this: If she’s seen in Area 5 after midnight tomorrow night, the dirty work that I will do upon her will be,” I paused for emphasis, “profound.” I let my fangs drop and smirked. “And I—for one—will be very happy to get my hands very, very dirty. I figured that you’d want her to have more humane treatment,” I added sarcastically.
“I just wish that Sookie knew what a monster you are—that she could see you like this!” he glared.
“She’s beginning to,” I replied enigmatically.
He growled—again. The sound was beginning to get on my nerves. “I’ll have guards in place at Sookie’s home by morning. They’ll go with her to Merlotte’s and wherever else she needs to go.”
“Oh—Sookie won’t be going to Merlotte’s anymore,” I said with a sinister smile.
“What do you mean?”
“She is quitting.”
“What? Why?” he asked—as if he had the right to be a part of her decision-making processes.
Gods, I wanted to kill the flea-ridden Were with my bare hands in that moment!
Instead, I continued without answering the wolf’s questions. “Sookie will be safely behind the wards of her home all day tomorrow. Ensure that your guards patrol the perimeter of her property. Thalia will be arriving at 9:00 p.m. to bring Sookie to Fangtasia, but your people should follow. They will be required to take Sookie home when I signal them.”
“Hey—they’re not chauffeurs, and they won’t be taking orders from you,” Alcide growled.
I merely chuckled and took to the air, certain that the necessary message would get to “Sandy” Pelt. The woman was clearly insane, and she clearly had something of a death wish, given the fact that she was trying to harm a vampire’s bonded. I knew that a woman like that wouldn’t simply accept banishment with a smile and move on. No—someone like “Sandy” would become desperate, and she would try to get to Sookie before the 24 hours I offered out of “charity” were spent—before I began my hunt for her.
And I’d limited Sandra’s available striking points. Merlotte’s would no longer be a possibility, and—if Sandra had done any reconnaissance—she would already know that Sookie’s property was warded. Would Sandra be reckless enough to try to get Sookie at Fangtasia?
Would she try to get to Sookie on her way home the next night?
I was counting on it.
I figured that “Sandy” would lie in wait outside of Fangtasia. Hell—knowing that Alcide’s “trustworthy” people were likely as incompetent as their packmaster—”Sandy” would probably have an easy time catching them off guard. In fact, she might not even have to do anything more than seduce them to her aid.
Of course, I didn’t intend for any of Alcide’s people to have real control over Sookie’s safety. I just needed Sandra to think they did so that she’d be “available” when I needed her.
I landed in the yard of one of my homes—a home that was known about by Felipe and Victor. I took out my phone and dialed.
“Northman,” Victor said with clear amusement in his tone.
I was certain that he’d gotten his orders from Felipe already. And I was even more certain that his spy, Jock, had also contacted him.
“Victor,” I greeted evenly. “I was calling to make sure that you had heard from the king.”
“Yes. Felipe keeps me well-informed,” he said smugly.
“Excellent,” I said. “I also wanted to inform you about a renegade Were in my area who has threatened my bonded, a woman named Sandra Pelt. The Longtooth pack has been given until midnight tomorrow night to take care of the issue, but I doubt that Ms. Pelt will be wise enough to accept her banishment. Thus, I plan to begin hunting her right after Sookie’s punishment is completed tomorrow night—at the stroke of midnight. Would you care to join me?”
“I am aware of Ms. Pelt,” Victor said with intrigue in his tone. “Very little occurs in my state that I’m not aware of,” he added.
I didn’t miss his use of the possessive pronoun, “my.” It didn’t take a genius to figure out the source of his information about Sandra Pelt. Either Felipe had told Victor, based upon Bill’s report, or Bill had told Victor directly. It really didn’t matter.
Bill was the source either way.
I waited for Victor to respond to my offer.
“I’ve not enjoyed a good hunt in a while,” he said, his tone laced with anticipation. Likely, Victor was already planning how I could have an “accident” during the hunt.
“Very well,” I said, though I didn’t hang up until after he had.
I went into the house just long enough to put my phone inside. One of the younger vampires in Area 5, a self-proclaimed “tech wizard” named Molly, had ensured that none of my conversations or texts could be “spied” upon through my phone. However, she couldn’t ensure that the device couldn’t be used by others to keep track of my location.
So my phone was staying home. However, I grabbed a disposable phone from the cache I kept on hand. After all, I had to monitor the “bug” I’d placed on Compton’s phone months before. Yes—I needed to make sure that the rat moved through the maze that was being set up for him.
As I left the house, I inhaled deeply to “look” for any potential threats. There were none, so I took to the air once again.
A/N: I just want to thank all of you again for sticking with me! I’m going to TRY to start posting chapters bi-weekly-hopefully on Fridays and Tuesdays. Fingers crossed.
I hope that you enjoyed this chapter as Eric deals w/ creepy Alcide and creepier Felipe.
As always, lots of love and appreciation to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia!!!