Chapter 31: Sins in the City

FELIPE POV, CONTINUED

“Freyda, dear,” I said. “I was wondering if you might enjoy having your new consort available to you sooner rather than later.”

“Eric would already be here if I had my way. But he is insisting upon dragging his feet,” the Oklahoma queen pouted. “I think it’s his silly affection for the human woman that is causing the delay.”

“Well—I have it on good authority that the blood-bond between Northman and the telepath was severed by magic earlier tonight. And that will bring their pledging into question too, for—without blood—it means very little. Thus, when you next make your claim upon the Viking, he will have no valid argument against it. Plus, it seems that the telepath herself initiated the bond-breaking, so any affection for the woman felt by Northman likely evaporated with the spell itself.”

“That is good news,” Freyda responded, clearly elated.

“Of course, to push Northman’s transfer from my retinue to yours through immediately, I require a favor of you,” I said after a moment.

“What favor?” she asked hesitantly.

“Nothing too difficult, my dear. Just a bit of backup—in Shreveport. Tomorrow night,” I said. “Just in case Eric is planning a coup against me.”

“Eric wouldn’t be so reckless,” she returned.

“Perhaps, not generally, but,” I paused, “he may be desperate. Victor died tonight.”

“Really? Because of negligence on Eric’s part? I doubt that very much!” Freyda defended. “How did Victor die?” Freyda asked with unfeigned surprise. Apparently, she was not “in the know” enough to have heard the gossip yet.

“Yes, Victor is dead,” I responded. “He was at Fangtasia with Sookie Stackhouse in Northman’s office when he was slain. According to Northman, a group of Weres and fairies attacked the club.”

“Do you not believe Eric’s account?” the queen asked, having sensed the doubt in my tone.

“I have no reason to doubt Northman—yet.”

“But you do question his story.”

“I have another source—one of Victor’s people—who corroborates Eric’s version of events. However, I am not fully convinced that Eric was not behind the fairy attack.”

“Why would fairies help him?” she asked. Freyda was unaware, of course, that Miss Stackhouse was part-Fae. With Victor dead, yet another individual who knew about the telepath’s heritage was gone, and that was a good thing. I didn’t want her to be even more coveted.

“Northman once had a working relationship with Niall Brigant,” I responded enigmatically. “And it was no secret that Eric hated Victor. The animosity between the two of them grew exponentially after the takeover. And Victor further stirred the pot by opening a club in Eric’s territory,” I shared.

“Yes. I heard about that,” Freyda commented. “I admit that I’d hoped that the opening of Victor’s club would serve as yet another impetus for Eric to recognize that a life in Oklahoma would be superior to his existence in Louisiana. But I agree. It did seem unwise for Victor to run the risk of inflaming Eric’s ire.”

“Indeed.”

“So Victor’s death is suspicious because of where it happened?” she asked.

“Yes. Or—perhaps—things occurred as Northman described them. After all, like I said, one of Victor’s own people has substantiated the sheriff’s story.”

“So—fairies and Weres united?” Freyda asked skeptically.

I shared her cynicism. Such a thing had never happened before—at least, not that I knew of. However, the intrigue that seemed to swell around the telepath added a certain level of credibility to the events.

“There is another thing, too,” I shared. “Apparently, a part of the attackers’ plan was to incapacitate the vampires in the club before they even entered it.”

“But how?” she asked.

“They laced Royalty Blended with Fae blood that could not be detected. Based upon the accounts of Northman and the other informant, it seems a minor miracle that any vampires in the club survived—perhaps too much of a miracle,” I added.

“What?” Freyda gasped. “Fae blood?”

I briefly explained what both Northman and Compton had told me about the attack and warned the Oklahoma Queen to beware of her artificial blood supply. Given the fact that both she and I fed from only live donors, we would not be in personal danger. But it was best that our subjects were warned just in case the fairies were moving to start a war.

After my explanation, Freyda agreed to send an entourage of ten to Fangtasia the next night.

“And will you not accompany them?” I asked—baiting her.

“I’ll come to Shreveport,” she granted, “but I will wait to come to Fangtasia until my people inform me that there is no danger.”

I smirked. Freyda was not exactly known for being battle-worthy. “A wise plan,” I complimented her—more-like patronized her.

Not that she would discern the difference.

By the end of our conversation, it was crystal clear that Freyda was hoping to swoop in and claim Northman. She also hoped to take him with her when she returned to Oklahoma. I hoped so too.

“Until tomorrow night,” I said.

“Until then,” she returned before hanging up.

I sighed. Unfortunately, losing Victor and Northman would leave me with two power voids in Louisiana, and Pamela Ravenscroft was no longer a viable option to replace her maker as sheriff.

I frowned and began contemplating successors for both Victor and the Viking.

A king’s work was truly never done.


SANDY SECHREST POV

“Miss Sechrest, I am surprised to hear from you,” the male voice said.

“I am a little surprised I called too,” I agreed, looking around me. I had run to a deserted patch of the desert twenty miles outside of Vegas, but that did not mean that I intended to be any less cautious than I normally was.

It would mean the end for me if I were overheard.

“May I ask why you have called?” he asked. “The king’s human secretary has already emailed his itinerary. Do you have additional instructions about the king’s visit tomorrow night?”

“No. I mean—yes. I have information for you,” I conveyed somewhat uncertainly.

“Information?” the man asked.

I was quiet for a few long minutes, though the person I had called did not seem impatient. I appreciated that. I had never betrayed Felipe. Hell—I had never even considered it before he had let his greed for territory and riches overrule his duty to his people.

Moreover, a part of me wondered if things would be better now that Victor was gone—if I should give Felipe time to “get over” any negative influence Victor had had over him, as a human might get over a nasty stomach virus.

But then I recalled just how difficult it had been to compose a list of vampires loyal to Felipe, and ten of them—the king’s private guards—had been automatic choices! But coming up with another twenty vampires who respected Felipe enough to protect him from one such as the Viking? Well—that had not been possible.

Too many of the vampires in Nevada would want Eric Northman rewarded for doing away with Victor Madden.

I was one of them.

I looked toward Las Vegas, a city I truly loved, remembering a time when there had been far fewer lights. When I first met Felipe right after he was made king of the state, he had been arrogant—to be sure—but most vampire monarchs were arrogant. Arguably, they had to be.

Though certainly interested in profiting from his position, Felipe had been happy to “share the wealth” with his underlings. He had raked in profits from his casinos, but—in turn—he had spent much of those profits making Nevada one of the strongest kingdoms in the New World. After the possibility of synthetic blood became known to vampires, Felipe had been one of the first monarchs to embrace the idea of “coming out of the coffin.” Moreover, he had established strict laws to ensure that humans were not mistreated by vampires—even before the Great Revelation. Of course, all of this was for his own profit too, but there had been a time when profit and progressiveness went hand-in-hand for Victor.

But during the past several years, Felipe had allowed Victor to burrow into his ear more and more.

And that burrowing had changed the once broadminded king.

Nowadays, Felipe taxed his subjects excessively so that he could pay for takeovers that had not helped Nevada in any tangible way.

And, recently, Felipe had begun talking about taking over Missouri—so that he could profit from the vampire-owned casinos along the Mississippi River in St. Louis! Hell! I had even heard him speaking with Victor about attempting takeovers all along the Mississippi River so that he could eventually own a fleet of riverboat casinos and create a “floating” Vegas.

I shook my head sadly, nostalgic for the days when Felipe de Castro had been too wise to covet an Empire. That time seemed long gone.

The king was now so focused upon the accumulation of territory, wealth, and power that he no longer acknowledged that true power arose from loyalty. He had once enjoyed that in spades, but—in the last few years—many of the older vampires had left the state.

I sighed, even as I acknowledged that Victor had not been the only thing that had changed Felipe. If anything, the king had enjoyed having Victor as a “yes man” for his own changing priorities. It had been around the time of Felipe’s maker’s true death that the king had begun to change; clearly, it had been his maker who had kept him grounded.

I closed my eyes tightly for a moment. It was time for me to accept the fact that Felipe had become a self-interested king who no longer served his people; thus, he no longer deserved my loyalty. It was time for me to place my loyalty in someone else.

Someone who deserved it.

“Do you wish to end this call?” that someone asked, breaking me from my musings.

“No,” I said. “But I need another moment.”

“Take the time you need,” he responded almost comfortingly.

I appreciated his patience.

Though our association had never been “close,” I had known the vampire on the phone for five centuries. I knew that he was well-regarded as a leader and warrior, and I had grown to respect his business acumen in the months since the takeover. He had been professional and precise in all of his dealings with the king and me. I also knew that he was loyal to his people, and I had argued vehemently against Victor’s constant interference in Area 5.

I sighed. Indeed, Eric Northman had had good reason to be concerned about Victor. And better reason to be pissed off at Felipe!

Felipe’s choice for Regent of Louisiana had been a poor one. With no provocation other than his own covetous nature, Victor had done his best to undermine Eric at every turn—personally and professionally.

And Felipe had done nothing to keep his regent in check! He should have shown Eric a lot more fucking respect!

But he’d done the opposite. Felipe had done nothing as Eric, the most respected vampire in any of his states, was claimed by—more like “sold” to—Queen Freyda, an unworthy monarch to say the fucking least! And—although Felipe had not initiated Eric’s “sale”—any worthy monarch would have stopped the transaction no matter the cost!

I scoffed. I had seen Felipe’s finances. He had more wealth than he could ever go through, though he now refused to use his “own” considerable fortune to better his kingdoms. He counted on taxes and tributes for that. Of course, he was not shy about profiting personally from his kingdoms.

I sighed and I spoke into the disposable phone I had gotten.

“Thirty vampires will be coming with Felipe tomorrow night,” I shared. “But—if you plan to act—eighteen of them will follow you.”

“How do you know?” he asked.

“I selected the vampires. Not being able to find thirty in all of Nevada who would support the king against you was a deciding factor in my contacting you,” I relayed.

“Will you be among the vampires who come with Felipe?” Eric asked me.

“Yes,” I responded.

“And who will you fight with—should there be a fight?” he asked.

I paused for a moment.

“You. I will fight for you, so I suppose you can consider me number nineteen.”

The line was silent for a minute as if Eric were contemplating my information and declaration.

“I have other news too,” I said.

“What is that?” he asked.

“Felipe has called Freyda for reinforcements. He expects that you will either be dead or on your way to Oklahoma by the end of tomorrow night.”

“Do you know how many the Oklahoma Queen will bring?” he asked.

“Ten is the number Felipe asked for,” I said. “Freyda will not come to Fangtasia unless her people signal that all is well.”

“How do you know this?” he asked me.

“Felipe has grown sloppy in his ambition. I have been listening to his phone calls in order to monitor his communications with Victor and to ensure that the king didn’t fuck himself over,” I answered honestly.

“But now you are fucking him over?” Eric asked.

“It was not an easy choice to be disloyal. Had Felipe not already broken covenant with his people through his actions, I would have never betrayed him,” I shared.

The line fell silent for almost a minute.

“No matter what occurs,” Eric finally said, “no one will ever learn of this conversation from me. If you feel as if fighting with me will compromise you too much, I will understand if you cannot.”

“Thank you,” I said sincerely. “But I have made my decision and will stick by it.”

“Thank you,” he returned quickly. “Your help is—unexpected and welcome.”

I sighed. “Felipe intends to steal your woman, Miss Stackhouse. He has learned information that your blood bond with her has been broken and that you are weakened because of it. But you should know that he has been contemplating ways to take Miss Stackhouse from you for many months.”

I stood up straighter, even though no one was there to see me. “Such a thing is criminal among vampires. It goes against one of the tenants my maker taught me to hold dear,” I shared, thinking of the one who had made me. A hundred years after Rina Marquez had turned me, she had found a human with whom she’d bonded. And—eventually—that human had died. My maker had followed her beloved by meeting the sun. But before that had happened, they had shared many beautiful years together.

A love like theirs was something I strove, one day, to find—though I intended to turn my beloved.

An enduring love was something that I felt like my kind should nurture—not try to destroy.

“I will remember this act of friendship you have offered,” Eric said.

I could tell that his words were a vow. And I appreciated the honor in them—the honor in him.

It had been a long time since I’d had a leader with honor.

“You knew my maker—did you not?” I asked.

“Yes. I met Rina,” he confirmed.

“She held you in high regard,” I commented.

“I heard about your maker’s death—and how it occurred,” he said gravely. “I am ashamed to say that I initially ridiculed her choice to meet the sun once her human mate died. I did not understand her actions at the time.”

“Will your Sookie allow herself to be brought over?” I asked curiously.

“I think so. I am not certain,” he said.

“You will not force her?” I asked.

There was a pause. I could not blame the Viking for not being completely forthcoming with me. Thus I spoke up, sharing more of myself in order to prove my trustworthiness just a little bit more. “My maker was weary of her life when she met her mate. She would have made him a vampire if that is what he had wanted, but he never made the request of her; I think that is how she preferred it. I know that she was content to live out his normal lifespan with him. She was extremely gratified during her years with him—happier than I’d ever felt her before.” I paused for a moment. “She allowed me to know of her plans to meet the sun when he was gone, and I never doubted her contentment with that decision.”

“Your maker was lucky if she found such happiness,” he responded.

“She was lucky,” I said sincerely. “Until tomorrow night, Sheriff.”

“Until tomorrow night,” he said.

I hung up and once more contemplated the twinkling lights of Las Vegas in the distance. I had always loved how the city rose from the desert—more like a taunt to nature than an oasis.

As a woman drawn to mathematics, I had sometimes had a difficult time gaining respect in some of the more rigidly patriarchal cultures I had lived in. Being of color only exacerbated the way I had been underestimated—undervalued. But I had enjoyed Vegas from the start. The old mobsters from the east coast had literally gone about bending the landscape to their desires.

And one of them, Meyer Lansky, had not been reticent about hiring a woman to help him increase his Vegas empire—though his involvement in the city was much more “behind the scenes” after his friend, Bugsy Siegel, was killed in 1947.

That being said, Meyer and I were both very good at “behind the scenes”—though that was not our only similarity.

As a Jewish man, Meyer had had to deal with his own share of prejudice, which was why he had not discounted me for being black or female. From our first association in Cuba, he had respected me for my talent and for the money I could make him. And Meyer had been one of the few humans before the Great Revelation who knew what I was, though I had glamoured him not to speak of it.

With the capability of being just as cruel towards his enemies as any vampire, Meyer did not have a problem with working with my kind. In fact, he and I taught each other a good deal about how to torture humans who tried to double cross us. His methods had been quite creative, and his “playground” had been the very patch of desert upon which I stood.

And—when de Castro became the King of Nevada (which had not warranted her own vampire monarch before Las Vegas rose from the desert)—I helped to grease the wheels between him and Meyer, as well as with many of the other human mob bosses. In turn, de Castro had not made a fuss when I chose to continue working primarily for Meyer until his death in 1983. After that, I had turned my attentions toward Felipe’s interests, and I helped him increase his fortune on the burgeoning Vegas strip, which had been my brainchild when downtown Vegas became a bit stale.

I sighed, acknowledging that the world was all about evolution.

I had asked Meyer once if he wanted to be turned, but he declined. I had never asked his reason, but I think it had to do with guilt over how violent his human life had been. It was surprising that the cement of the desert city wasn’t tinged in red! Indeed, much of Vegas’s concrete contained the bodies of the enemies of the “old” mob bosses. I knew that well. I had put many of them there.

I sighed, feeling my great affection for the city in the distance. No matter how much it changed, the “numbers” of it stayed comfortably the same. Oh—more zeroes had gotten added to the end of those numbers over the years, but they were as consistently interesting to me as ever.

I recalled the last time I spoke with Meyer. He had always felt as if he had betrayed Bugsy because he had known that a hit was being put on him due to Bugsy’s mismanagement of the Flamingo casino. Already working for Meyer at the time, I’d thought that Bugsy was a fucking tool. But Meyer was loyal—perhaps to a fault.

He had never completely forgiven himself for what happened to Bugsy. Maybe that was why he’d not thought he would make a good vampire.

On the contrary, I realized, as I began running back to the city, that I would not be losing any sleep—proverbially, of course—over betraying Felipe de Castro.

Maybe that’s what made me a good vampire.


A/N: Like Indira, the character of Sandy Sechrest has been another that I’ve wanted to explore for a while.  Plus, I find the history of Vegas to be so interesting!  I know that most of you already despise the “caped-king” because of Victor.  Also, a lot of you are scratching your head about how he could even have become king since he seems a little clueless.  So I wanted to offer another perspective–Sandy’s.  In the books, Eric indicated that Felipe might be a decent king.  I wanted to work with that premise, but then offer more background that explained why Felipe became such a putz by the end, devolving because of influences like Victor, a sycophant.  Felipe would have likely remained okay had he counted on vampires like Sandy.  But, alas . . . for him.   I’m also hoping to demonstrate how I think that vampires really would be with the implicit comparison to mob bosses.  I hope that you enjoyed the chapter.  Don’t worry–we will be moving back to the Eric/Sookie focus.

Best,

Kat


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23 thoughts on “Chapter 31: Sins in the City

  1. Ah ha, the plot thickens! So FDC was a decent monarch but he “devolved”. And one his closest people has recognized that he is irredeemable , so she is working with a vampire who does inspire loyalty who is (surprise!) Eric! It sounds like Freyda isn’t going to show up until she feels it is safe, but will she retaliate when Eric kills FDC? Will she go after Sookie directly in order to secure Eric, threatening Sookie’s life? I assume this Sookie is booklike in that the only special ability she has is telepathy. Hopefully Sookie is somewhere safe and guarded, not someplace foolish like her home. I can hardly wait for the next chapter, “same bat channel”.

  2. A believable and fascinating back story for Sandy and Felipe. Her realization that he is no longer worthy of her loyalty, or of that of most of the vampires in his realm is damning. His reception at Fangtasia should be quite enlightening.

  3. I like your casting for Sandy and am glad you are making use of her. Felipe has let himself be tainted by Victor. He hasn’t learned the lesson other leaders have, that abusing your people is like cutting off your own head, but he will. Freyda is disgusting. I hope she gets hers, too. Great chapter.

  4. As much as I love things from Eric’s or Sookie’s pov, I totally enjoy reading the others. Especially when some background is explored. Sandy is looking out for more than just herself as she spoke to Eric about Felipe. She is looking out for all the other vampires under his rule and hopefully will survive tomorrow night to be able to help the new ruler of the areas. Thanks so much for the update and look forward to reading more.

  5. I think that Eric will have to become King. Sandy will be a good second for him in Nevada. If he is King they Freyda will not be able to get her clutches in him. Also if she is there in Shreveport she can be taken out. Then he can be King of 4 states. That is a lot of work. Of course he can sell off Oklahoma and Arkansas. De Castro has played fast and loose with his subjects for too long and now it is going to bite him on the ass. Great job.

  6. Interesting background on Sandy –including her dealings with Bugsy and Meyer –wondered if the vamps were pulling the strings for the mob guys during their heyday in Vegas during the 40’s – 70’s –that would make a great side story, actually!
    Sandy is in Eric’s corner –yes! And…..Felipe is delusional about the support he has among his NV vamps…..

  7. I have always liked Sandy’s character a lot . I enjoyed the back story you created for her here. I’m glad she called Eric and warned him. I’m so happy that she and others will be fighting with him .

  8. Really enjoyed Sandy’s POV. ..Felipe is no longer reliable as a monarch and I understand that Sandy , like most older vampires, values loyalty the most.
    Now Eric is prepared to what Felipe has set up and I’m anxiously waiting to see Felipe’s ( and Freyda’s ) head roll.
    Jackie69

  9. Felipe truly believes he’s so smart and above it all. Not likely. If he was on his game, he’d protect himself a little better. Freyda is probably going to Bon Temps to seek out the competition while waiting for the signal. However, it’s a wasted trip and she’ll never get that signal. Hopefully Sookie will kill that pompous ass, bitch.

  10. One of the nice things about getting supporting characters’ POV is how they perceive the main characters. Eric is known to be fair in both his running of his area and in business as well as inspiring loyalty. He has age on his side also, plus he no longer has Appius around (CH seemed like she created the worst most evil maker possible with which to curse Eric. At least TB gave Eric Godric, who seemed more like a desirable maker.) so he is free of that cancer. Eric has many qualities that would make him a good monarch. This Sookie has the ability to bring multiple types of supernatural creatures together, vampires, weres, fairies, witches, demons. I think both the books and TB never really developed this aspect of the character because she never really accepted herself as being more than human or even wanting to be anything other than “normal”. It seems like the only one of her suitors that truly accepted her as she was in total was Eric. Sandy is a bureaucrat, but they are essential to the smooth operation of any multilevel government, as much as they are given a bad reputation. In a well run organization the bureaucrats can keep things going smoothly but when the upper level management is flawed then even the best lower level people can’t do their jobs, become unhappy and the whole system breaks down. The anecdote about Sandy’s maker and Eric sharing his change in perspective about her maker’s choice to meet the sun at her bonded’s death is illuminating. I have always been confused about how the pledging was initially presented as sacred in the books but could be threatened by a contract for Eric’s services. The argument that the maker has ultimate control on whether to release a child is ludicrous. In human society we have a clear age of majority, the age at which one is considered an adult and now responsible for one’s own actions. There is no reason that it should be different for vampires, if 300 years old is the accepted age of maturity then it should be automatic. If the progeny screws up after that, it is on their own head, just like with 18 year old humans. If the maker dies before the vampire reaches 300, then they need to be assigned a “foster parent” maker. Or if their maker is like Lorena, they are taken away from the “unfit” parent and put into foster care or adopted. Godric brought up the issue of vampires failing to “evolve” despite centurys to learn and improve. It seems like most vampires contributed little to the development of technology and civilization, acting more as parasites. If a being lives for so long and can continue to amass knowledge, why wouldn’t they be able to achieve even more than shorter lived humans, who have to spend a third of their life maturing and becoming educated, then spend their waning years suffering physical and mental decline. This always bothers me about the vampire genres, they look to humans to make the technological advances. Even the fairies do the same, financing humans to develop protections from iron or fertility treatment but not doing anything themselves. Seems like a waste of an extended life span.

  11. Your use of Sandy’s POV in this chapter and Amelia’s POV in the last chapter was fun. And IIRC, in the books Eric thought de Castro’s success in the gambling state of Nevada could help the gambling state of Louisiana. CH never gave him much of a back story; I enjoyed yours.

    ps Gimme More!

  12. It is sometimes right and necessary to get out from under a government that is unfair. FDC taxes and expects tribute from his subjects but he does not give back to the people he rules. After all, if the colonists in the New World had not felt weighed down by taxes and being treated as second class citizens, we would not now be the United States.

  13. It seems quite appropriate to be sitting here in Vegas and reading this chapter. I so love the twist and turns. You can just feel the climax of the story building and building. I can’t wait for the next chapter.

  14. Felipe has suffered the same fate as most career politicians – assuming that his constituents will accept whatever bad decisions he makes, no matter how badly he does for them, simply because no one has openly challenged him yet. He’s about to learn a very hard lesson….
    I love Sandy. She’s tough and smart and will make a good regent for Nevada – or even queen, if Eric doesn’t want it.
    I think Freyda will learn of Sookie’s supernatural claim, then predictably fly into a rage and hopefully Sookie will stake her, or at least Mr. C or Diantha will set her aflame. Perhaps Pam can have Oklahoma and Arkansas – or Thalia would be a good queen for the more sparsely populated rural states. Ally to Eric and Sookie, tolerates their other allies, and virtually unchallengeable. I love that you write her so often and so thoroughly. CH really missed a good character to create with Thalia.

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