[A/N: Thoughts being “overheard by Sookie are in italics. The quotes in bold are directly from All Together Dead.]
“What the hell are you doing?” Quinn demanded with a growl, his eyes glowing yellow.
I didn’t know whom Quinn was asking, but it was Andre who answered. As he did, a little bit of my own world crumbled, but not because of anything Andre was saying—or thinking.
As with Eric, I couldn’t hear Andre’s thoughts, and for that I was thankful.
But the Viking’s blood had certainly strengthened my ability to hear Quinn’s thoughts! And the relationship puzzle I’d been trying to “solve” with the Weretiger was immediately destroyed. In its place, a very different image emerged.
Quinn’s mind was filled with expletives and thoughts that half of me wanted to un-hear as soon as I’d heard them.
The other half of me was thankful for the truths I got from Quinn’s head. Better to be in the light than in the dark—I’d learned that the hard way with Bill.
Fucking Northman! Want to kill him—so bad. Want to rip off the hand touching my woman.
Hate Andre! Want to kill him, too. All blood suckers! Kill them all!
I shivered a little at the venom in Quinn’s thoughts. They were dark and violent. Apparently, there wasn’t a vampire that Quinn didn’t want to kill. However, he was looking at me as if I might be his first target.
Fuck, Sookie! Thought we might be able to get through this shit! I was starting to actually like you—despite the fact that you are damaged goods. Damaged!
His face clouded with disgust as the color of his thoughts grew darker—almost black.
She’s had so much vampire blood in her! Wonder if she’s even worth it.
Fangbanger! Blood Whore!
Quinn’s eyes traveled and took in Eric’s stained crotch.
Bet she liked giving him blood! Bet she rubbed his cock while he fucking fang-raped her! Damaged goods!
Quinn shook his head a little, obviously trying to change the tenor of his thoughts.
No, Sookie’s not like that. She had no choice here, but it doesn’t make it better.
Plus, I don’t have any fucking choice in the matter! I gotta stick with this. I gotta ignore the fucking vamp stench on her and keep her happy! If I don’t, Felipe will hurt Mom.
I needed Eric’s hand as support as Quinn’s thoughts continued to pepper me with truths that were eerily similar to others—truths that had brought me to my knees not so long ago. One truth was very certain: Eric’s blood had ripped away the relative peace that I had once found in Quinn’s arms. Quinn was now an open book to me—an open book written in large print like Gran had needed during the last years of her life.
And I couldn’t help but to read the pages as Quinn continued to turn them.
Mom and Franny—I gotta protect them. Keep them safe.
Fuck Felipe de Castro! Fucking fanger thinks he owns me!
He does own me! Fuck!
He just fucking had to order me to learn all there was to know about the famed telepath.
Had to seduce her.
Doesn’t matter that I might have actually liked her under different circumstances. Have to see this through for Fannie. For Mom. Can’t think with my dick.
Just wish I could kill de Castro, Northman, Andre, and all the rest of them fangers! Then she could be mine.
No—Sookie’s too far gone; she’s too much of a fangbanger. If I killed them, she’d just find another. Plus, I couldn’t have a child with her—not a Weretiger. Gotta carry on the line. Wish I could cut bait and get the fuck out!
Sex with her wasn’t even that good—though her tits were nice. Just couldn’t stop thinking about Sookie fucking dead men.
At least, her cluelessness about my true feelings told me she couldn’t hear my thoughts very well. At least Felipe was happy about that! Famed telepath though? Really? She can hear only humans, and I can get information out of humans!
I closed my eyes tightly, but there was no escaping Quinn’s head.
Together, we relived a conversation he had with a vampire king, one wearing a red silk cape.
An initial order from Felipe de Castro, King of Nevada, for Quinn to approach me.
Endear himself to me.
Sookie Stackhouse—the weak link in Sophie-Anne’s retinue.
I was perfect! Not close enough to Sophie-Anne to be suspected of being an unwitting spy, but close enough to know useful things.
I could be seduced.
I would spill information—not understanding that I was doing so.
I would be able to supply intelligence about Eric.
I swayed a little on my already weak knees. At some point, Eric’s gentle touch had become strong enough to support me almost fully—to keep me standing. I became even more grateful for that support as a more recent meeting with King Felipe popped into Quinn’s mind.
Though Quinn had not wanted to continue his relationship with me for a variety of reasons—some of them even honorable—Felipe had ordered him to do just that.
Having heard too much, my own mind began to scream in order to drown out Quinn’s thoughts and the images associated with them.
“Raise your fucking shields, Stackhouse!” my internal voice begged, even as I tried to do as it ordered.
At that moment, I felt strength from a source I couldn’t name, but I latched onto it and got my shields raised. I glanced at Eric. He was looking at me with about a million questions in his eyes. But I wasn’t emotionally ready to handle any of them.
It wasn’t time for “fight.” And it sure as hell wasn’t time to “deal.” It was time for “flight.”
“Andre,” I said, trying to keep my voice from quivering, even as I attempted to avoid eye contact with Quinn, “I will finish the work I agreed to do for the queen, but right now I need to see to my human needs.”
Andre’s brow rose. “Human needs? Ah!” he exclaimed as if hit by a sudden realization. “Oh yes. Fine.”
I nodded gratefully and looked up at Eric. “Thank you for making that as painless as possible,” I said sincerely.
“There was no pain for me,” he responded. Even as he did, however, my insides literally twitched, as if telling me that he was lying. Regardless, his hold on me dropped as I stepped away. Well—at least the wet spot on Eric’s pants did tell me that he’d experienced no physical pain during our blood-sharing.
I turned to leave, but there was a large impediment in my way: Quinn.
“Sookie,” he said, as he grabbed my arm—roughly.
Eric growled, but I gave the vampire a look asking him to stand down.
He did—thank God! But he wasn’t happy about it.
“I’ll talk to you later, Quinn,” I said, trying to sound calm. “Remember—we said we’d talk later?”
“Come with me now,” the Weretiger growled, even as he looked at Eric with defiance. It was clear that Quinn was trying to show his “ownership” over me in the face of a clear challenge.
“Not now, Quinn,” I sighed as Andre laughed and Eric growled again.
“Now, Sookie!” the Weretiger exclaimed, his eyes still on Eric, even more alit with hate than before.
Desperate times, desperate measures. And I was desperate, so I found myself saying something I never thought I’d say.
“Sorry, Quinn, but I really gotta go take a shit right now! And I really don’t need any help wiping,” I said impatiently, even as I imagined Gran rolling over in her grave all the way back in Bon Temps. But I seriously needed to get the hell out of there before I fell apart, and Quinn’s hold on my arm was not doing any favors for my shields.
Thankfully, my uncouth words had the desired effect. Quinn dropped my arm.
“Oh,” he sounded surprised—and a little disgusted (as if he’d never taken a shit). “Oh—okay. Later then,” he stammered.
I tried to give Quinn a comforting smile, and I mustered the strength to pat his arm as I passed him. And then I set a quick pace down the hall.
Andre was laughing even louder than before, but I didn’t turn around. I got to the end of the hall and then turned right. Seeing a sign that read, “Baggage Area,” I remembered that I was supposed to pick up an unclaimed piece of luggage for the queen’s group. Thankful for the distraction, I followed the sign to another sign—and then another sign—before eventually ending up at a large loading dock. At one end was a collection of suitcases under a sign reading, “unclaimed luggage.”
“Oh to be unclaimed and un-coveted,” I muttered sarcastically, keeping a tight reign over my emotions, even as my mind was trying to process the events of the previous ten minutes.
Nope—I wasn’t ready to process yet.
Still in flight mode. And I was okay with that.
I concentrated on finding the suitcase I was sent to fetch, even offering to help another lackey find one for his queen.
“Geez! How many misplaced bags could there be?” I asked, concentrating on anything but my own problems.
The other lackey—I think he said his name was Jeff—just shrugged.
“And why can’t they just bring them up to us?” I added, gesturing toward two employees who looked to be doing anything but work. The two guards with the shotguns at the entrance didn’t seem to be doing much either—other than playing cards.
“Some kind of liability thing,” Jeff responded with another shrug.
“Liability my ass,” I thought uncharitably as I glanced again at the employees. One of them was now looking at me sideways, probably ogling my breasts. I tried to bolster my shields again, but they really didn’t seem to want to cooperate—not with the strong new dosage of vampire blood in my body, which seemingly wanted to hear everybody! “Fuck!” I muttered as I broke a nail while shifting a bag that said “Maine” on it.
“Found it!” Jeff said in triumph as he found the errant bag for Iowa. “Good luck on yours,” he added, as he hurried from the room.
“Right,” I sighed. It wasn’t long before I found a bag with a tag that simply said “Louisiana.”
“Odd,” I muttered. All of the suitcases were labeled with only a state name, and there were a lot of them.
“You need help?” one of the employees asked from across the room. His nametag was large and read “Joe.” He was walking toward me now—a somewhat worried expression on his face.
I wanted to curl up into a little ball as his thoughts were practically propelled at me.
Is she suspicious?
Fuck! I knew I shouldn’t have agreed to do this. But that Fellowship guy gave me so much money, and Mom’s medical bills are so high. And now they know who I am, so I can’t exactly tell the authorities about it! They’d fucking kill me and my family, too—all in God’s name. Crazy fuckers!
God! I never should have opened that suitcase! Got to make sure they are all planted—like I am supposed to. They’ll know if I don’t. Shit! They won’t go off tonight, right? Not till they’re all set. Right?
Right. Calm down. Just get this done. Finish your shift. Tell the Fellowship guy that it’s all set, get the rest of the money, and get the fuck out of Dodge.
Fuck! Why did I have to open it? They have fucking locks for a fucking reason!
And in the midst of all Joe’s thoughts, I saw the image that he’d seen when his curiosity had gotten the best of him and he’d picked the small luggage lock and opened the suitcase labeled “Texas.”
I felt my patented Merlotte’s smile turn up my lips. “Nope. I found what I needed,” I said, lightly patting the top of the suitcase that I was to deliver to its place in the queen’s suite—so that it could blow her up!
Years of practice with hiding my true feelings, I continued calmly. “I just broke a nail trying to get the bag out of the luggage corral,” I added, showing Joe the broken nail as evidence.
“Hey, you got blood on your collar,” Joe said, pointing at my clothing. In a split second, his thoughts changed from guilt and fear to disgust.
Fucking fangers turning pretty women into blood whores. Maybe the Fellowship is right. Maybe vamps should be taken out.
I kept my smile firmly in place, despite his thoughts. “Well, thanks,” I said as I raised the handle of the suitcase bomb and rolled it out of the area. My every instinct told me to leave the bag and run out of the hotel, but I didn’t do that. I went back the way I’d come, stopping at a supply closet once I was out of sight. And that’s where I left the suitcase.
I knocked on Eric’s door. “Please be here. Or even Pam,” I begged as I knocked louder. Only the air in the hallway heard my pleas.
“Where are you, Eric?” I wailed.
“Fuck!” I muttered when there was still no answer after another minute of knocking. “Fuck!” I said louder, trying to figure out what to do next. One thing was certain: I couldn’t simply run into the middle of the lobby and yell, “Bomb!”
Or could I?
I took a deep breath. “Where is that vampire when I need him?” I laughed ruefully, knowing that Eric had already “appeared” once when I’d needed him that night.
I turned and went toward the elevator. “Maybe he’s in the queen’s suite,” I mused aloud, still actively keeping myself calm.
I figured that Joe was right. The Fellowship nuts would be just sane enough to make sure that their bombs were all placed before they set them off. I also figured they’d wait until daytime to attack—thereby maximizing the loss of vampires, who might survive the bombs, but couldn’t survive the sun if they tried to escape the blasts.
As I entered the elevator, thoughts of school once again invaded my anxiety-soaked brain.
There was one place at my old high school that had offered me shelter from the thoughts of the other children and the teachers. I’d thought of it as my safe haven.
The football field had been built almost half a mile from the main building. Given the fact that my teachers welcomed it when I “skipped” class—especially on one of my “crazier” days—I would run there when the minds of those around me became too much.
It wasn’t the field itself that I ran to. It was an old supply shed just to the south of the field that served as my safety zone. The shed housed only a bunch of old uniforms and discarded equipment, but it was better than a Hilton to me—not that I’d ever stayed in one of those.
The football team would practice after school, so I had to leave the shed by 2:50 p.m. in order to avoid the coaches’ arrival to the area, but that was fine. I usually had enough time in my haven to get my shields back up or simply to rest before I’d have to face getting on the bus that would take me to Gran’s house.
The teachers never mentioned my absences to Gran. I was thankful to them for that.
Gran would have wanted me to “soldier through”—like a good Southern lady (obviously not the kind that announced their need to “take shits”). Maybe I should have “soldiered through”—in order to learn better endurance.
Instead, however, I had learned to run to safety. As the elevator doors opened, I knew that I was running to something else now.
I wasn’t exactly sure why, but I really needed him in that moment.
Maybe he was “safety” now.
“And he’ll know what to do,” I whispered to myself. “He’ll know what to do about all of it.”
The bombshell about Quinn.
The literal bombshells that were moving into place around the entire hotel.
The little lobby around the elevator on the queen’s floor was deserted—not that I was expecting anyone to be hanging out there. I looked around pensively—maybe expecting Andre to pop out of the urn next to the elevator. And that’s when something in that urn caught my attention.
“Damned litter bugs!” I exclaimed as I picked up the soda can that had been discarded there instead of being put into a trashcan—or preferably a recycle bin.
Why I picked up the can when the whole hotel could be reduced to recycling any moment was beyond me. Maybe it was Gran’s voice in my head.
Maybe it was because the world being polluted was a bigger problem than any of mine, and I could actually help with that one—if only a tiny bit.
Maybe there was an electric charge in my body that pulled me to the can.
Trouble magnet indeed.
The can was heavier than it should have been. And I knew in a split second that I was holding my second bomb of the day.
“Fuck!” I yelled out to nobody.
Except that there was suddenly a somebody there—but not one I’d expected. It was Batanya with her charge, the King of Kentucky; they were looking at me suspiciously through the open elevator doors.
“Stop!” I ordered. “Don’t get off of the elevator.”
Batanya placed her body in the doorway to stop the doors from closing, and with her arm, she barred the king from moving.
“Why not?” the Britlingen warrior asked.
“Bomb,” I said, looking down at the can. “At least, I think it’s a bomb.”
Batanya nodded and quickly stepped back into the conveyance fully, simultaneously pushing the elevator button and speaking into a communication device.
I heard her telling Clovache about the situation even as the king looked at me with pity—and maybe a twinge of gratefulness.
“We’ll send help,” the king said as the elevator doors closed.
“Thanks,” I squeaked out, remembering my manners—and hoping I’d have the chance to say “thank you” to the one to whom I really owed the words.
A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who has already favorited, followed, and/or commented on this story! I’m so pleased that many of you liked chapter 1! I hope that this chapter suited you too. I always thought that C.H. did Sookie a disservice by never letting her catch on to Quinn’s duplicity—until it was way too late. And—I also have to admit that in ALL of the canon, Quinn is the character I dislike the most—yep, disliked him more than Bill, Victor, Appius, Freyda, Andre (listing them all gives me heartburn). I just felt that Quinn was so—yucky. (No offense to any of his fans out there. He just didn’t appeal to me.) I mean—I get that the two-natured were harder for Sookie to “hear,” but that wasn’t necessarily true when Sookie touched them. Honestly, I was mad at Sookie for purposely trying to stay out of Quinn’s head and not “do a check” on him. But I understood. Still—since switbo has “prompted” me to revisit this part of the book series—I decided to shake things up and let Sookie hear Quinn’s thoughts. Yes—they are likely “uglier” than they were in C.H.’s head.
In this story, I also wanted for Sookie to learn about the Fellowship bombs—a lot sooner than she did before. The very notion that she doesn’t investigate the very suspicious situation with all the unclaimed bags (labeled only with the state names) was ridiculous. I went back and re-read this section of All Together Dead, and I was mystified about why “sleuth Sookie” (as she was being in this book) didn’t ask questions like these: Why would a hotel catering to vampires not be more careful with their bags? And why weren’t the vampires looking for them?
So—instead of being clueless—this Sookie will be very much “in the know”: about Quinn and the bombs. Hope you like my twists!