JUNE 1, 2005
God—I was tired of listening to Bill Compton!
Not only did he tend to repeat himself—making me wonder if he considered me devoid of perfect recall, a talent that even Bubba enjoyed—but also his accent was grating.
Very, very grating.
“Why did I ever allow him to live at court?” I sent to Andre telepathically.
“He used to be a good procurer,” he sent back.
“Good thing procurers are a need of the past,” I sent.
“In that case, please allow me to stake him before he bores us to death,” my eldest child deadpanned.
I couldn’t help but to laugh as Bill turned to my child with a contorted and confused look on his face.
Seriously! How could a vampire look constipated?
“Now be nice, Andre,” I chastised telepathically.
His leering stare at Bill was anything but nice.
“Sookeh is my bonded!” Bill said. “And, by right, I should earn a part of anything she makes working for you.”
“Is she?” I asked with a smirk. “Is she truly your bonded? Your scent is strong in her—I admit—but I have my doubts, considering her lack of acknowledgment of you. Why—she doesn’t seem to heel at all! And she told me on the phone just the other day that she belonged to only one person.”
“Who?” Bill demanded. His eyes looked desperate.
“Herself,” I returned calmly.
“But she’s my bonded!” he insisted again. “She doesn’t have a choice.”
“Andre?” I asked, looking at my child. “Explain it to Bill—again.”
“Miss Stackhouse is part Fae, so even if we still operated in the old ways—which we no longer do now that we are known to humans—she couldn’t be claimed without her consent,” Andre elucidated.
“Why not?” Bill challenged. “She is mostly human and none of her fairy kin has done anything to claim or support her—as I have.”
I rolled my eyes. Claim? Yes. Support? Clearly not!
“Bill, didn’t you tell me—just last January—that a fairy named Claudine had made contact with Sookie?”
Bill frowned. “That doesn’t mean anything.”
“It means everything,” Andre said with annoyance.
“Claudine Crane is not just any fairy,” I explained. “And—even if her presence didn’t most certainly mean that Sookie was being watched over by the fairies—I am not going against the treaties forged between the Fae and our kind centuries ago!” I emphasized.
“But you are the one who sent me for her to start with!” Bill pouted.
“When my dearest Hadley told me about her gifted cousin, I did send you, Bill. Do you recall my exact orders?” I asked, keeping my tone a steely calm.
Bill’s constipated look became even more grotesque.
“Remind him Andre,” I said.
My child smirked. He was enjoying himself.
“Assess whether Miss Stackhouse truly is a telepath. Assess her level of control. Help her with her gift if possible. Make sure she stays safe. And—when she seems comfortable around vampires—explain Hadley’s situation and the employment opportunity the queen could offer her. Finally, arrange for a meeting between Miss Stackhouse and the queen—either here or in Bon Temps.”
“I tried to follow your orders to the letter!” Bill insisted.
“It was Eric who interfered,” Bill tried.
I sighed. “Yes—you’ve said that. A lot! But it was Eric’s contract template which helped to expedite Sookie’s employment with me. Moreover, she’s been in so much danger around you that the odor of your blood practically wafts from her.”
“Exactly!” Bill said almost triumphantly. “That proves we are bonded.”
“No—it doesn’t,” I replied. “Remember, Bill, it’s not quantity that determines whether a bond has formed.”
“It’s quality,” Andre muttered.
“Anyway,” I continued, outwardly ignoring Andre’s snide comment even as I was amused by it, “Dr. Ludwig’s interesting report on the Maenad matter indicated that ‘any blood ties Sookie had before then were likely altered and/or weakened significantly.’ I believe those were her exact words. Andre?”
“Verbatim,” he confirmed with a smirk.
I smiled at him. “Such a good memory,” I praised.
“Wait! What? Ludwig gave you a report on the—uh—Maenad attack?” Bill stammered.
“Odd that you didn’t,” Andre muttered.
“So you see, you likely do not have a bond with Miss Stackhouse,” I said, pretending to overlook Bill’s past attempt at either trying to cover his own ass or trying to mislead me regarding Sookie. Probably, he’d been attempting to do both.
Bill looked agitated for a moment—and then unsure. “I have had her blood many times, and she’s had mine more than the three times required.”
“Before or after the Maenad incident?” I asked, causing him to look even more unsure.
It was then that Andre decided to twist the knife I’d slowly inserted.
“And recall that it does take more exchanges for the less potent of us, Billy boy,” Andre said sarcastically.
“Now, now, Andre,” I pretended to chastise. “I imagine that Bill’s blood is perfectly—adequate.” I sat forward in my throne. “Tell me—what does Sookie think about your so-called bond? And about your trying to take some of her payment as your own?”
“Sookeh is in a,” he paused, “delicate position at the moment. I wouldn’t want to add to her stress by speaking of such matters with her. But Sookeh is mine!” he emphasized.
“Then you should learn to say her goddamned name correctly,” Andre intoned under his breath. Of course, Bill and I could hear him perfectly.
Bill turned to glare at him.
“You do tend to pronounce something resembling ‘Sookeh’ rather than ‘Sookie,’ which is an unusual, but not particularly difficult name to say,” I teased, enjoying Bill’s discomfort immensely.
“Can you say Cookie, Bill?” Andre asked.
I giggled as Bill seethed, though he didn’t dare drop fang.
“So—back to the topic,” I said, drumming my fingernails onto the arms of my chair. “I have heard that Sookie is pregnant.”
“How?” he asked me as if affronted.
Idiot. If he were the loyal subject he claimed to be, he would have been the one to tell me.
I scoffed. “Well—like I said—I spoke to Miss Stackhouse on the phone when we arranged her work schedule, and the matter came up in regards to her security. Plus, Quinn has been anything but,” I paused, “discreet. In fact, he has let it be clearly known that Miss Stackhouse was pregnant before they got together. Apparently, he wants no one to accuse him of being the child’s sire.”
“And he is blaming Miss Stackhouse for a bout of chlamydia,” Andre added with a chuckle.
“Do not speak of Sookeh like that!” Bill yelled.
“Sookie, Bill!” I corrected. “And he was speaking of Quinn,” I said, my fangs popping downward. “And you are trying my patience! Sookie signed her contract with me before you finished your maybe bond with her—if there even is one! So I find that your claim on her is not outweighed by my own!”
I smirked. “Oh, Bill. You have been so annoying lately—so fucking full of yourself. And, though your work on the database is valuable, there are other tech savvy vampires in the world.”
“None could have accomplished what I have,” he said arrogantly.
“Let’s see what you can accomplish while spending a week in my dungeon,” I smiled.
Andre’s grin was much more feral than mine as he took Bill into custody.
“Just put him in a cell. Do not chain him in silver,” I told him telepathically.
“Why not?” Andre pouted back to me in the same way.
I continued telepathically. “Whether I like it or not, Bill actually does seem to have a bond with Sookie, and harming him would potentially harm her. And I think she’s been harmed enough—don’t you?”
Andre nodded almost imperceptivity and then hauled Compton out of my receiving room. I pulled my phone out of my bodice and dialed.
“Pamela,” I purred at Northman’s child. “How is my favorite cunnilinguist?” I asked, making up a new word for her.
Indeed, Pam deserved to have a word coined after her skills of cunnilingus, for she truly was the best when it came to making a woman cum.
“Just fine, your majesty,” she responded. I could hear her leer through the phone, and I felt myself getting wet. After the “engagement” ball, she and I had spent some quality time together—eliminating our bloodlust.
“Any problems in Area 5—problems with Arkansas?” I asked. I’d been seconds away from killing Peter Threadgill during the party when Eric had stopped me, reminding me that to kill a monarch would mean that I would automatically face a tribunal. However, capturing, questioning, and then “mercifully” transferring Threadgill to the custody of the current Vampire Council would ensure that he would be the one on trial during the Rhodes summit.
And that’s why Eric was my best sheriff. He knew how to play the long-game.
I chastised myself for the hundredth time for not just having Eric secure Miss Stackhouse’s services. As it was, it was Eric’s contract which had proven to be the model for my own, and—though I might have preferred for Sookie to live in New Orleans—I wouldn’t have held her here against her will. It seemed clear that she preferred to live in Bon Temps. And—as long as she was willing to work with me periodically—I was satisfied.
Of course, it seemed as if the shifter she worked for was trying to interfere. Merlotte’s “hesitance” in giving Sookie adequate time off had led to delays in scheduling. Moreover, I’d been quite busy since the skirmish with Arkansas, so that had caused delays too. However, Sookie would finally be coming within the next few days.
Another good reason to lock Bill up for a while.
“Oh—we’ve had to kill a few spies here and there,” Pam reported casually.
I chuckled. “I hope you and your maker weren’t put out.”
“Of course not,” Pam chuckled. “We were moderately diverted by the so-called threats.”
“You will keep the northern border of my state safe then?” I asked.
“We relish the task, your majesty,” she replied.
I giggled. “I wish I could be with you right now. I do so miss getting my hands dirty.”
“You are welcome any time,” she said suggestively.
I shook myself out of my own lust to ask her about what I’d called to ask about.
“What of Miss Stackhouse?”
Pam was silent for a moment.
“She is being guarded—as always—though she doesn’t know about her shadows—beyond Bubba,” she reported.
“Bubba?” I asked.
“Is Bubba enough?” I asked significantly. I knew that Bubba meant well, and I’d heard that he had a soft spot for Miss Stackhouse. But he was relatively young and not the warrior type, though he was purported to be a good tracker.
“No. He is not. But Sookie accepts his presence in her life without argument, and Thalia is always nearby as his back-up.”
“Thalia agreed to that?” I asked incredulously. I had been reluctant to accept the unpleasant vampiress in my state, but Eric had vouched for her, and I’d gotten the impression that there was some kind of history between my sheriff and her—though I’d been smart enough not to ask any questions about it.
“Yes—Thalia is no longer required to put in time at Fangtasia, so she is well-pleased with her new work. And she likes the isolation of the woods around Sookie’s home.”
“What about during the day? Is Sookie looked after?” I asked.
“Weres,” Pam said.
“Ah—that is right. I’d heard that she was a friend of the pack in Shreveport.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“Now that Colonel Flood is dead, Eric has very little trust in the Longtooth pack. But there are enough lone wolves in the area to keep an eye on Sookie,” Pam informed.
“And how is she?” I asked, no longer referring to just her security.
“Ludwig has her on antibiotics, and she is confident that Sookie will be disease-free before she gives birth; thus, the child will likely not be afflicted by the human sexually transmitted disease,” Pam informed, her tone tense as if she were trying to hide her anger.
“And how is Sookie dealing with the rumors?”
Pam scoffed. “Which ones? The humans paint her as a whore because she is pregnant without a ring on her finger. And Supe rumors paint her as a whore because she allegedly passed along a venereal disease to the poor pussy cat.”
“Did she?” I asked. “Did she pass it on?”
Pam sighed. “Sookie is the only one who can answer that question, and she’s not talking. Neither is Ludwig.”
I frowned. “Stupid patient-doctor confidence.”
We were silent for a moment.
“That being said,” Pam sighed, “there’s no way in hell that Sookie had a hook-up at Hooligans with some random man! I’ve seen her at Fangtasia, and she doesn’t even allow herself to get tipsy—let alone drunk. Plus, even if she did, she is friends with Claudine Crane, who would never have allowed Sookie to fuck a guy whose name she didn’t even know! I’d bet my entire shoe collection that Quinn was the disease incubator. That bald, purple-eyed fucker!” she growled murderously.
“So Quinn is the child’s father,” I observed.
“Sookie has done everything that she can do—at the cost of her reputation and any peace of mind she might have enjoyed—to lead people to believe that Quinn is not the father. So—officially—I believe there is no way that Quinn could be the father. Sookie was pregnant before she got intimately involved with Quinn,” Pam said firmly. “That is the story I have heard, and there is no reason not to believe it. So Sookie is a whore. Yadda, yadda, yadda. And the weretiger is not the sperm donor!”
“If Quinn ever decided to claim the child, a simple DNA test could do it in the eyes of the human world,” I observed. “And what if the child turns out to be a weretiger? And what of his or her scent? Hiding paternity when Supernaturals are in the equation is a difficult proposition.”
“I believe that Sookie has her new witch friend working on some of those issues.”
“And your master?” I asked. “What is he doing?”
Pam’s tone changed to its most “professional” incarnation. “As you instructed, Eric ensures that Sookie is guarded. And he pays Ludwig.”
“Nothing more?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she said with a hint of regret in her tone.
“Compton led me to believe that Eric’s interest in Sookie was substantial,” I commented, keeping my tone even.
“It is not,” she relayed, just as evenly.
“Speaking of Compton—he will be spending the week here,” I informed.
“We will all be so heartbroken,” she said flatly.
I chuckled. “You really should visit soon, Pamela,” I purred.
“It will be my pleasure,” she responded.
I hung up on her, leaving myself wanting more.
A/N: Hello all! I ended up expanding a bit of this section, so if there are errors, they shouldn’t be blamed on Kleannhouse at all! There was a part of this that she never saw!
So—yeah—in this universe, I decided to have a “likeable” Sophie-Anne and Andre. After all, in the books Sookie does says she likes the queen to a certain extent. And I figure that Sophie-Anne would have put the reigns on Andre, so his actions in Rhodes always felt “off” to me. Anyway, hopefully, you enjoy the changes. Plus, it’s always fun to mess with Bill—right?
As for the time lapse—well—I’m kind of sticking to the book vibe there. It always seemed that vampires did some things at a glacial pace, including that they seemingly forgot all about the humans around them for long stretches of time. Of course, we see here that Sookie isn’t forgotten about. Through Eric and Pam, the Queen is making sure that Sookie is safe. And—she’s undermining Bill’s connection to her too.
Whether it’s for Hadley’s sake or because the queen truly likes Sookie (it’s likely both), she is taking a helpful interest in her—though Sookie is unaware. You’ll note if you are reading this on my blog that I’ve “recast” Sophie-Anne for this piece. I think the “new” actress works better for this universe.
Thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia!