SOOKIE POV, CONTINUED
Sophie-Anne looked at me thoughtfully for a moment.
“Tell me about the times Bill gave you his blood. Were they,” she paused, “loving?”
“The first was when these drainers, the Rattrays, beat me to within an inch of my life when Bill was late meeting me.”
“That is revealing,” she said.
“Yeah. Then he wanted to give me blood before I used my telepathy to help Eric the first time.”
“What was the circumstance?” she asked.
“Someone was stealing from Eric; it turned out to be Longshadow, but Eric had thought that it was a human. Bill seemed to think that I needed his blood to make me stronger that night.”
“Did Eric really kill Longshadow when he attacked you?” the queen asked sounding very much the gossip in that moment.
I rolled my eyes—though, in truth, it felt nice to have a girlfriend. “Yes he did,” I confirmed.
“Had you any reason to doubt Eric’s intentions or to fear him before you worked for him?” she followed up.
I shook my head. “No. Can I ask you something that’s not directly related to Bill?”
She nodded her permission.
“Why didn’t you ask Eric to approach me?”
She sighed. “In truth, I was tired of Bill at court. As I said, his role became virtually obsolete after the Great Revelation, and he mentioned that he had a relative—his last known relative—die in Bon Temps. I figured he would approach you, assess you, and then bring you for a visit in short order. But he soon told me that Eric was getting in his way.”
“How?” I asked.
“By insisting that he utilize your gift several times a week,” Sophie-Anne said. “Politically speaking, the situation became difficult for me since I’d not yet mentioned you to Eric by the time he’d discovered that you were a telepath.”
“Had you intended to?” I asked her. “And—by the way—Eric never used me several times a week.”
She chuckled. “Interesting. And—as for whether or not I would have told Eric? Well—that depended upon how our first meeting went, Sookie. If you were agreeable to using your gift to help me, then—yes—I would have consulted with Eric, giving him a tax break for your periodic service to me.”
I shook my head. “Vampires have some fucked up politics.”
“No more than humans,” she returned with a smirk.
“What if I wasn’t agreeable to using my telepathy to help you?” I asked her.
“Then I would have let you return home and told you to keep your gift a secret—for your own good.”
I saw the truth in her eyes. “You would have,” I stated with some surprise.
She nodded in confirmation. “Was the situation with Sandra Pelt the third time that Bill gave you blood?” she asked, refocusing us onto our previous topic.
“No—the fourth. I was attacked by a Maenad, who wanted to leave a message for Eric. But it took the blood of several vampires to heal me,” I added.
She rolled her eyes. “It would have. Maenads are a horribly complicated bunch. I’m glad she didn’t target my part of the state.”
I chuckled. Sophie-Anne seemed almost “human” to me. She reminded me of Pam—and was likely just as deadly.
“Who secured Sandra Pelt’s bindings?” she asked out of the blue.
I gasped in understanding and revelation. “Bill!”
“Magic can undo a bond, Sookie,” the queen said, her eyes having lost all of their earlier humor. “But a faster method is the death of one of the two who are bonded. Tell me, Sookie, would you like me to kill Bill for you?”
I felt tears escaping my eyes and brushed them away. I was tired of crying over Bill. It had become clear to me that Bill was willing to manufacture situations where I’d be hurt—just so that he could get his blood into me. I thought back to all of the times he’d offered his blood when I’d not taken it—especially the times after Jackson when we were certainly not a couple any longer. Still—asking Sophie-Anne to kill Bill went against my grain.
“He was my first love,” I whispered to the queen.
“No,” she said firmly. “He was the first man to lie to you. He was the first man to use you.” She shook her head contritely. “And I am ultimately to blame because Bill is my subject. You must believe that I never intended for him to do as he has done.”
“You’re going to kill him?” I asked.
“Unless you still love him. Unless you want to be his,” she said, sitting forward in her chair. “Unless you tell me not to.”
“I feel like a fool,” I said honestly.
“And fooled you were,” Sophie-Anne said.
“I’m not a fool anymore,” I sighed, “not where Bill Compton is concerned. But I need the bond for now. Amelia and Claudine think they can make a potion to cover up the baby’s scent, but it’s not ready. Plus, who knows if it would work while the baby is inside of me.” I paused. “And—to be honest—I don’t know if I have it in me to tell you to kill him.”
Sophie-Anne narrowed her eyes. “You are an odd creature, Sookie Stackhouse, but I find myself liking you. Pam was right. There is something about you.”
I chuckled. “My fairy blood.”
She shook her head. “No. I don’t think that’s it. It is how you are with us.”
“Huh?” I asked inelegantly as the queen reached forward to refresh my tea for me.
“You know we are vampires, yet you treat me as you would any other.” She frowned, creating a momentary crease on her perfect face. “When vampires revealed ourselves to the world, I envisioned the practical benefits to us. I also foresaw the fight we would have to endure in order to be citizens with full rights. And I knew that we vampires would have to change some of our ways. Hell! I even figured that many humans would fetishize us—though I never guessed at the extent.” She shrugged. “But I never imagined a situation when I would be pleased to welcome a human as a friend.” She smirked. “Especially since vampires do not have traditional friendships—even with each other.”
“Is that what we are? Friends?” I asked.
“I hope so, Sookie,” she smiled sincerely. “And—in the spirit of that friendship, I have a plan to solve your Bill problem.”
“The database,” she said, her smile turning almost sinister as she plotted. “I foresee needing to send him all over the world in order to augment it.”
I smirked. “It was somewhat easier when he was in Peru.”
“I think India would be a good starting point,” she commented. “And I’ll send someone with him for his protection.” She winked at me. “And to make sure that he stays where he’s supposed to be.”
“Thank you,” I said. “And after the baby’s born?”
“Up to you,” she replied.
“I want the bond broken,” I said immediately.
“Done,” she said.
“Can you keep him away from me after that?” I asked.
“I can order him to stay away and claim you as my own human.”
“Would I have to take your blood?” I asked.
“It would be best, but since I am queen, a verbal claim should be enough. However, a blood claim would add to your protection. One exchange would be enough. However, you could think about it before the time comes.”
“Thank you,” I said sincerely.
We were silent for a moment, each sipping our respective beverages. She had an electric kettle of sorts, keeping her blood warm.
“What have you done about de Castro?” I asked.
“I’m keeping more eyes on him,” she answered with a nod, “thanks to you.”
I’d assumed that Mr. Cataliades would tell his employer all about my call the previous March, but then I’d remembered an old saying about assuming, so I’d called him again to make sure. Thankfully, he’d already told the queen all about Quinn’s mission and de Castro’s interest in me. In fact, that’s how I’d gotten Bubba as a permanent “guest” on my property. I had to admit that his presence made me feel safer.
“What about Arkansas?” I asked, biting my lower lip. “Is Eric safe? Pam?”
She smirked. “They can hold their own.” She paused. “Sookie, after Bill is completely out of your system, you might choose to tie yourself to someone other than me—say a sheriff of mine?” she said incisively.
“I couldn’t do that to him,” I said with a sigh. “I messed things up with him so badly—even from our first meeting,” I added resignedly.
“Most of all, I made the mistake of listening to Bill about Eric, and—after that—I judged everything he did through Bill-colored glasses.” I chuckled ruefully. “Eric tried for so long with me, but I finally used up all my chances with him.” I sighed. “Your majesty, will you tell me the things that a vampire can do through a blood tie? And—a—uh—bond?” I asked.
She looked a little taken-aback by my non sequitur, but nodded in agreement nonetheless. “Don’t forget. It is Sophie,” she chastised gently.
“Not Sophie-Anne?” I asked.
“Not to those closest to me,” she said kindly.
“I don’t have many people close to me anymore,” I said, unconsciously stroking my belly. “But a few people call me Sook. I like it,” I said, feeling my heart constrict. “I always thought that having a nickname meant people really did like you.” I frowned. Not many people had ever called me “Sook”—and, of them, even fewer were still in my life.
Sophie’s look turned mischievous. “You should have asked Bill to call you that. It may have helped with his pronunciation”
I snorted out a morbid laugh. “He really does butcher my name—doesn’t he?”
Sophie turned serious immediately. “But he will never butcher any other part of you, my dear, Sook—not while I’m on watch,” she said sincerely.
A tear fell from my eye—this one spurred by my gratefulness. “I don’t even know how to start thanking you.”
She shrugged. “You’ve given me an excuse to ship Bill to Asia. No thanks are needed.”
I chuckled. “So—will you tell me about blood ties and bonds?”
“Because Bill didn’t tell you anything?” she asked.
“He told me some—I think. But I don’t trust what he said to me. Not anymore,” I sighed.
She smiled at me, looking almost proud for a moment. “A vampire with a blood tie has four main advantages over a human. Number one—he can track you; number two—he can monitor your emotions; number three—he can influence your dreams by placing himself into them; and number four—he can influence your baser emotions.”
“Baser?” I asked.
“Lust. Anger. Fear,” she informed.
“Love?” I asked, biting my bottom lip nervously.
She shook her head. “No. Love is too sacred for any kind of magic to create—though many have tried, especially witches,” she said, rolling her eyes and smirking as if telling an inside joke. “The best that magic can do is create a false love, which would very soon disappear.”
I contemplated for a moment, trying to understand all the ways that Bill had influenced me.
“My level of attraction for Bill definitely increased after I had his blood for the first time. And—looking back—I can see how he played with my fears.”
“How?” the queen asked, looking truly intrigued.
“Eric—for one. In fact, Bill did everything he could to make me afraid of Eric, and I’m ashamed to say that I let Bill’s words mold my perception—and my paranoia.” I shook my head. “And Eric didn’t deserve that. On the contrary, in fact.” I paused for a moment, and Sophie seemed content to let me unravel my thoughts on my own.
“I really did love Bill,” I finally deduced.
“Did?” Sophie-Anne asked.
“Did,” I clarified. “I was so lonely when Bill came into my life—with his silent mind and his ‘otherness.’ And then there was the very real attraction I felt for him.” I shrugged. “Compared to the other men in Bon Temps, he was quite a catch.”
“I can’t imagine,” Sophie said under her breath. I chose not to comment on it, however.
“Gran really liked Bill, too,” I continued. “He seemed so gentlemanly—at least, some of the time. But I think I was more in love with being in love than I was with Bill specifically.” I paused. “Frankly, Bill is creepy at times. And patronizing. And it wasn’t long before he started ignoring me a lot of the time—except when he wanted sex and blood. And then he went to Lorena without even telling me what was going on!” Having a revelation, I closed my eyes. “I transferred all of my feelings of inadequacy—the ones I had both before and after my relationship with Bill—onto Eric. And I lost him because of my fears.”
“You are still in love with my sheriff,” Sophie-Anne said knowingly.
“Now that I know I love him—know it with my whole heart—I’ll never let myself hide from it again,” I vowed, a tear slipping from my eye.
“Given what Eric went through in order to make sure that I treated you well in the contract we made, I would say that he loves you, too,” Sophie said somewhat tentatively.
“Maybe he did love me—once. But—like I said—he’s moved on,” I responded sadly, picturing the beautiful Olivia. “And—even if he hadn’t—it’s not like I could go to him now. I’m pregnant with another man’s child.”
Sophie got a faraway look in her eyes. “You know, Sook, Eric has been my sheriff for decades. At first I was suspicious that one so old and formidable would settle for such a post, but I’ve come to understand that Eric is still very much the Viking. Did you know that during the days of his humanity, Eric’s father was a chieftain?”
“Like a king?” I asked.
“Yes—but of a relatively small people group. He would have overseen a few villages and a market. He would have promoted trade with other areas. He would have ensured that his lands had defenses,” she said. “And he would have known that expanding his resources too much would have thinned them out.”
I found myself smiling. “That’s what Eric does now—in Area 5.”
“Yes,” Sophie agreed. “He likes his autonomy, and he was born to be a leader. I have no more formidable warrior in my state—and that is saying something since both Andre and I are older than Eric is. And the Berts are,” she paused, “the Berts!” She snickered. “But Eric wants no part of my job. It requires a kind of political posturing that he would find frustrating—to say the least. Eric’s brand of running an area is efficient and pragmatic.” She giggled. “He would—among other things—despise all the extra paperwork and the schmoozing that a monarch must now do with the human authorities.”
“You’re right,” I said with a chuckle.
“And that being said, once I realized that Eric had no ambition to take over Louisiana, he and I became friends.” She winked at me. “At least the vampire version of friends.”
“You—uh—had sex?” I asked, feeling my old friend, Jealousy, rearing its ugly head again.
“Once—many years ago,” she smirked. “But he prefers women who prefer men. And I just prefer women,” she giggled.
I couldn’t help but to laugh with her. Sophie truly did have an infectious personality.
“Eric and I have also talked—quite a bit over the years—about our pasts. He knows how misused I was.”
I found myself growling. It was a feral sound.
“Did he tell you about his maker?” Sophie asked knowingly.
“A little,” I shared.
“Did he tell you about his human wife and children?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“His wife was originally wed to his brother, but when Leif died, Eric was expected to marry her. And to become the father of Leif’s children.”
“Leif,” I said, smiling a little. Eric’s fake name.
I wasn’t blind to why the queen had told me about Eric’s past. “You think he’d accept my child—just like he accepted his brother’s children,” I commented.
“I am not sure, but I think you should fight for him and find out,” Sophie said.
“I am fighting for him,” I whimpered. “He’s better off without me, so I’m fighting to stay away.”
Many of you have commented that you are liking this Sophie-Anne and the friendship between her and Sookie. I must say that it was fun to write since I’d never had a truly “friendly” Sophie-Anne vampire in my stories. I hope you will keep the comments coming if you have the time and something to say.
Thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia, wonderful helpers and friends.