I sat at my kitchen table, contemplating the events of the night, even as I tried to calm my frazzled nerves.
Somehow, I’d managed to hold it together during Eric’s trial and its aftermath, but I figured I was allowed to have a little “freak-out time” now that things had settled down and I found myself alone for the first time that night.
“Eric is king,” I said to myself as I sipped my hot tea with milk. Yes—I was counting on Gran’s tried and true elixir to see me through the next few hours.
I closed my eyes and concentrated on everything that had gone right that night. Indeed, most everything had gone well! Certainly, Queen Michelina had been a bitch, but even she did the right thing in the end. And part of me felt guilty that Felipe’s and Freyda’s loyal vampires had been killed, but they’d chosen their sides. Moreover, I couldn’t even begin to muster up any regret for the deaths of the Nevada king and his sleazy minion.
As Pam had intoned when she’d strolled into Fangtasia after seeing to Freyda’s exit, “Count de Chocula” deserved to die for his fashion sense alone!
I chuckled to myself, finding it easier to concentrate on the positives of the situation after recalling my “vampir-ific” (Pam’s word—not mine) friend’s morbid humor.
I took another long sip of my tea. Eric had easily beaten de Castro. None of our allies had been killed or even severely injured—much to the chagrin of Dr. Ludwig’s bank account. My bonded hadn’t necessarily been found “innocent,” but he had been found justified in his actions. And he’d been made king! And a great variety of Supernaturals—including my great-grandfather—had given my mate and me their allegiance or support. I couldn’t help but to believe that the coming together of so many seemingly disparate (thank you, word-of-the-day calendar) groups was for the betterment of a lot more creatures than just Eric and me.
Desmond had already drawn up a draft of the paperwork the Council would need to certify Eric as the King of Louisiana. My godfather and Eric had worked on tweaking the document until it was perfect, according to my bonded (for myself, I had no idea what all the “official vampire legal jargon” meant). After Eric had signed the contract, Diantha sped away with it; apparently, she would hand-deliver it to Stan (the closest Council Member) the next night. Clearly, email didn’t work for such official matters.
Before returning to the Dae realm to be with his wife and children, Nargal had promised to come to a “family” dinner that I was planning to have—just as soon as Eric and I figured out what our permanent address would be.
Calvin had taken a call from the leader of one of the “refugee” groups that was to relocate in Hotshot; then he’d gone home so that he could spend some quality time with his pregnant and apparently very horny (according to his thoughts) wife, sleep a bit, and be ready for guard duty at dawn.
To put a damper on things, Alcide had shown up about fifteen minutes after Eric was declared king, only to be taken outside and taken to task by Eric for fucking Sandra Pelt.
And for acting more-less like a douchebag lately.
I’d decided to stay out of their confrontation—for once.
I had the distinct impression—from listening to Alcide’s thoughts by the end of his “visit” with Eric—that he had all but decided to relocate now that my mate was King of Louisiana. Given everything that had occurred throughout the past weeks, I couldn’t say that I was surprised that Alcide would “tuck his tail” and run! Still, I was glad when Alcide realized that leaving Fangtasia immediately and leaving me alone indefinitely would be best for him.
After all, I didn’t want him dead.
However, I couldn’t muster up even a little bit of sadness that Alcide Herveaux would be exiting my life forever. And for good.
Apparently, Freyda had been given the news of the Council’s decision by Pam and Karin, who—I’m sure—strongly suggested that the Oklahoma queen not try to do anything to challenge either Eric’s kingship or the dissolution of the marriage contract that Appius had constructed with her. Freyda had been, according to Pam, “docile” as Karin put her onto a plane to Oklahoma (with one of Nargal’s strongest warriors acting as her “security”) and told her not to visit Louisiana again. I figured that Freyda would either listen and take heed, or she would find herself at the end of a sharpened stake.
And—if she came after me or mine—I’d be the one holding it!
As glad as I’d been to see Pam—and to get a dosage of her much-missed snark—I’d been even more anxious to meet Karin. Eric’s older vampire child had seemed just as curious about me as I was about her. But I also intuited that it might take us a while to become close. Indeed, it’d been such a long time since she’d spent an extended period of time with Eric that I figured their reconnection as maker/child needed to take priority over the friendship I eventually hoped to have with her.
Plus—given the fact that I had now embraced the idea of being turned by my mate—I knew that Karin and I would have plenty of time to get to know one another (though I hoped she’d keep her “slaugher-ific” stories to herself—Pam’s word, not mine).
Not surprisingly, Eric made Pam his replacement for Sheriff of Area 5. Rasul agreed to be Sheriff of Area 1 (Victor’s old stomping ground). Eric and I had already decided that we’d share time between those two areas, so we’d have residences in both. For Area 2, Eric promoted Palomino. Areas 3 and 4 (neither of them highly populated) had been consolidated under Felipe’s rule, and Eric selected Maxwell Lee to see to those regions.
Karin, as nomadic as her life had been, had agreed to stay on in Louisiana (for at least a decade) as Eric’s Second, much to the relief of Thalia, who’d not wanted to be saddled with the job. Instead, Eric had asked the ancient warrior to be his head of security, a duty that Thalia was very well-suited for.
Proving that he would be just as good of a “grandsire” as he’d been a maker, Eric had—as soon as he’d appointed her—sent Pam back to Texas to be with Miriam upon her rising; while she was away, Karin would keep an eye on things in Area 5, as Eric focused on his new duties as monarch.
Indeed, within an hour of his being named king, Eric had all of his sheriffs named and deployed. In addition, Eric had started about five different projects designed to get Louisiana out of the hole that Hurricane Katrina and Felipe de Castro had dug her into.
I’d been impressed—completely awestruck—by my husband’s decisiveness and leadership abilities. But I shouldn’t have been.
After all, it was clear that Eric had been born to be a king.
And it seemed as if his tenure as a fair leader in Area 5 had made him many friends. In fact, many vampires who had left when Felipe took over had been calling, emailing, or texting to ask for permission to return to Louisiana.
Apparently, gossip moved faster through the Supernatural world than it did at one of Maxine Fortenberry’s parties!
Plus—according to Thalia—there would be even more “refugees” when the sun next set in Europe! She explained that quite a few older European vampires would be thrilled that Eric had finally been able to become a king (thanks to Appius’s demise). Some regions of Europe weren’t as vampire friendly as the United States, and Thalia shared that many vampires would now be drawn to Louisiana because the state could boast a leader they trusted, the opportunity for a quiet life when they desired, and the allure of New Orleans when they missed the “Old World.” I got the impression from Thalia that many of the vampires coming would be great assets to Eric.
And that was definitely fine by me!
Not being able to read vampire minds, I figured it would be best to have faith in Eric, Thalia, Karin, and Pam when it came to determining which vampires would be allowed to settle in the state.
As for those of the Fae-kind—Niall, Dermot, and I had said our goodbyes at Fangtasia after I’d thanked my great-grandfather for speaking up for Eric and me. Somehow, Nargal had communicated to Niall what was happening during the proceedings of Eric’s “trial,” and my great-grandfather had “popped in”—and been extremely helpful (for a change).
I was also glad that Niall had convinced Dermot to return to the Fae realm with him.
I was even gladder that my great-grandfather had promised to call first if he ever decided to return to the human realm again.
I still didn’t completely trust Niall, but I was willing to give him a chance. However, the truth was that I didn’t want Niall in my life anymore if he would only be there when it suited him. As for Dermot, I got the impression that he was crestfallen once he realized that I had chosen Eric—body and soul. But—other than a few sad looks from him—things didn’t get too awkward.
Except, of course, for the fact that those looks had come from someone who looked like my brother!
Honestly, I hoped that Dermot would do well in the Fae world.
With the operative phrase being “in the Fae world!”
Indeed—despite the fact that I valued family—I figured it would probably be better if all of my remaining fairy relatives stayed out of the human world for a long time to come.
As for Claude, nothing much was said about him during my short visit with Niall and Dermot, but I got the strong impression that he wouldn’t be an issue any longer.
The kind of impression that indicated that Claude was no more.
I tried to muster up some grief for that; after all, the fairy had been living in my home until the day before! But I found no regret for Claude. Since Claude’s continued existence likely would have led to danger for me and my bonded, I was glad that he was in the Summerlands. Indeed, I hoped he’d find happiness there—well away from me and Eric.
Warren and Mustapha had gone home soon after the trial, though they would be on guard duty at the farmhouse at first light. I had a feeling that Mustapha—now that he’d accepted the job as Eric’s Chief of Daytime Security—would want to oversee the guarding of his king personally for a long while to come. Warren had agreed to become Eric’s “day-man”—with the understanding that a “day-man” was actually much more than an “errand-boy.” I knew that—together—Mustapha and Warren would make an excellent team for Eric and me.
Even as many of the other vampires left to go fulfill their new duties to Eric’s kingdom, Thalia stayed close to me and Eric. She spoke when she had something to say and stayed alert at all times. I knew that she was not just Eric’s chief of nighttime security, but also our main vampire guard.
I felt like my bonded and I were in good hands—both day and night.
Octavia and most of her coven members had left to go to the airport even before Alcide showed up—after agreeing to a meeting date with Eric the next week.
As for Amelia and Bob? They’d determined to come home with me and Eric—and Thalia, of course. There were a lot of decisions that would need to be made in the upcoming days, and Amelia suggested that I’d need an assistant.
I’d asked her!
Bob wasn’t left out either. He would be Warren’s assistant. Moreover, my witchy friends were already tasked with warding the hell out of many Louisiana holdings!
In fact—given the strength of Amelia and Bob’s wards—Eric and I had decided that it would be best to return to the old farmhouse for one last day. After all, our friends’ magic had already proven itself there.
Other arrangements for housing would be made and other buildings would be warded beginning the next day.
Another argument for returning to Bon Temps was that I felt that Bill needed to be dealt with once and for all. And I wanted to be the one to do it.
Plus, I had packing to do—and a brother to say “goodbye” to, though I wasn’t really saying goodbye.
It was Bon Temps that I was ready to move on from—not Jason. And Eric had already suggested that Jason be given a high-level job related to the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans—if that was what my brother wanted. If there was one thing I knew about Jason, it was that he was good at coordinating an efficient crew, and I admired my brother greatly for that. I had confidence that he’d take Eric up on the offer. But, whether he did or not, I’d be living in Shreveport half the time, so my relationship with my brother wouldn’t languish.
When we’d returned to the farmhouse, Bubba had been waiting on the porch with a wide smile on his face. He’d figured that everything must have “worked out like gravy ’cause we’d come back safe and sound.”
Bubba had frowned when he’d reported that “Mister Bill” was “takin’ things right poorly.” But, as I finished my tea, I determined not to let Bill’s attitude put a damper onto the overall events of the night.
Though it was surreal, Eric and I had a road in front of us toward our happy ending. I was determined not to swerve off of that road—especially not for a speedbump like Bill.
Sadly—very, very sadly (since it limited our “quality time” together)—Eric still needed to field a lot of calls before dawn and had set up a makeshift “office” in the living room. Meanwhile, Thalia and Bubba had overseen making the guestroom light-tight and were currently making my own bedroom light-tight so that Eric could stay with me the next day.
Selfishly, I refused to go to sleep without him by my side again!
Maybe that was the possessive fairy in me.
Or just the now wiser woman.
My tea drunk, I found that I was still having to concentrate on not being overwhelmed.
Not freaking out!
Once again, I thought about how Eric was a king! And my Supernatural lineage—according to Desmond—would allow my bonded to make me his queen “officially” after he was coronated.
It was a lot to take in!
“From barmaid to queen,” I muttered to myself.
After rinsing out my cup, I made my way to the living room.
“Call me later if need be,” Eric said into his phone receiver as soon as he saw me.
“I need to talk to Bill,” I sighed.
“You’re nervous,” he observed as he took me into his arms.
I sighed with resignation. My bonded was right. In some ways, what I was about to do seemed more difficult than Eric’s trial, though the stakes weren’t nearly so high.
“I will go with you,” Eric said. “And I promise to behave too,” he added.
I chuckled. I knew that Eric would love to witness me “cutting loose” the man I’d once thought that I loved!
The first man who’d ever seemed to really want me. My first “love.”
But the first man to betray me and to break my heart too.
I sighed. “Thanks, but I need to do this myself.”
“Thalia assured me that Bill is secure in the cubby. Still—please—don’t remove his chains while it is nighttime.”
“I won’t,” I promised. “I’ve asked Bubba to do it right before he goes down for the day. I think Bill will still be too weak to do anything to Bubba then—right?”
Eric nodded. “Yes. And Thalia and I will be close if need be. We can both stay awake longer than Bill can.”
I reluctantly removed myself from my mate’s arms.
“Just call through the bond if you need me,” he said, as he leaned down to kiss my forehead.
“Will do,” I swore.
In truth, I didn’t think that Eric would have agreed to leave me be alone with Bill if he were not secured in the cubby and under the leather-coated silver chains.
“I know this will be difficult for you,” he’d whispered. “But it is for the best.”
He was right.
Difficult, but necessary.
“I know,” I agreed with him before leaving to do the chore I ought to have done a long time before.
A/N: I hope you aren’t annoyed with Sookie that she’s feeling a little overwhelmed. In her situation, I would be too! Don’t get me wrong though-I wouldn’t mind being in her situation (with Mr. January himself). I also know that many of you are tired of Sookie not just letting Eric deal with Bill, but-think about it: In her mind, she has never broken ties with him completely. Even after Jackson, she didn’t fully cut those ties. Even after she learned of his true purpose in Bon Temps, she didn’t fully cut him loose. Yes, I think she should have. But she is young-naive. To her, this is the very first time she’s truly letting him go-and telling him to go. In the next chapter, we’ll see how Bill takes that.