Part 5 of the Gift Horse Series, this story focuses on Pam and Thalia as they work to tie up loose ends in Louisiana before rejoining Sookie and Eric. This story begins on the night that Matthew is born in Part 4: “Boxing Day.”
Must reads: The other stories of the GH Series.
- Pam is still the Sheriff of Area 5 and—on the surface—she is loyal to Felipe; however, she’s stayed in Shreveport only to watch over Sookie and her family.
- Thalia has become Pam’s right hand in Area 5.
- Felipe has spies in Area 5, including a vampire named Malcolm, who is the Area’s Assistant Investigator.
- In the second part of this series, Bill was killed by Eric (after a little playing by Thalia). Bill, of course, was still Area 5 Investigator at that time. Malcolm was his assistant.
- In “Boxing Day,” Felipe contacted Pam, who’d been with Sookie during her labor; the king asked her to meet Malcolm at Bill’s house in order to help find out why Bill is “missing.”
- Meanwhile, after the events of “Black Christmas,” Luther, who’d been Freyda’s right hand but also Felipe’s spy, has been sent to Bon Temps to secure Sookie and her children.
- Neither Felipe nor his minions have any idea that Sookie is already safely out of Area 5 and is in Mississippi.
- Pam has left Sookie and is traveling by plane with King Bartlett of Indiana (Russell’s husband in this book-based series).
- Some of what Eric tells us happened at the end of “Boxing Day” will be covered firsthand in this story.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, lines of dialogue, titles, etc., are the property of their respective owners. Only the original plot is the creation of the author; however, even that is derived from characters belonging to others. No profit has been made from this work. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of the source material. No copyright infringement is intended. The characters and events in this story are based on The Southern Vampire Mystery series and True Blood. Thus, Charlaine Harris and HBO are responsible for the people and places that I play with in my story.
You can find pictures of the cast & actor names at the end.
THALIA POV: TWO HOURS BEFORE DAWN, DECEMBER 26 (BOXING DAY)
Thalia had always liked being near Sookie Stackhouse’s home. The
whole property was thick with magic—”old” magic, the kind that only “old” vampires could appreciate. It was the magic of the elements themselves—the earth, the air, the water. And it burned as she inhaled it—not uncomfortably, but like liquor used to burn when she drank it as a human.
Long, long ago.
But she could still remember the sensation: uncomfortable and comforting at the same time. A soothing burn. One of the many paradoxes she’d experienced during her long life.
She checked her phone when she felt its faint vibration. Pam had texted, alerting her that she’d be reaching the private airfield near Shreveport in thirty-three minutes. From there, it would take her and King Bartlett, who was coming with her, about twenty minutes to reach Compton’s home—where Pam was to meet Malcolm, Area 5’s Assistant Investigation, who’d worked under Bill and who was now searching for him.
Thalia smirked wickedly.
“Good luck finding any pieces,” she whispered into the magic-laced air. Since she had an invitation into Sookie’s home, the magic on the property had seemed to welcome her, and now it seemed to chuckle along with her. She enjoyed the sensation as she recalled the previous night. Bill’s death had been too easy—for him. But—then again—what does one do when he or she finds shit on the bottom of one’s shoe.
One either scrapes it off and moves on or—if the smell is too bad—throws the fucking shoe away.
As the shit in the metaphor, Bill didn’t need any attention given to him beyond a little fucking “scraping.”
Which she’d accomplished with her collection of razors.
Not the “safety” kind.
Thalia inhaled deeply. She’d placed herself in an old tree near Sookie’s home, knowing that the magic there would help to cloak her scent. She’d been tasked with a hunt, and she loved a good hunt.
Particularly, Eric thought that Luther would come after Sookie and her children now that Freyda was dead and Bill was missing.
Meanwhile, Malcolm had likely been ordered by Felipe to kill Pam.
Thalia rolled her eyes. Felipe’s machinations were so fucking childish—and so fucking unneeded.
She didn’t begrudge Felipe for his ambition. Taking over Louisiana, a state where gambling thrived, made sense for the King of Nevada. And Thalia never had much time for Sophie-Anne, though she’d been a better monarch than their current one.
The ancient vampiress scoffed. She’d been loyal to Eric Northman for more years than Felipe had been alive, and she knew that agreeing to serve the Nevada king had not been pleasant for Eric. However, he’d sacrificed his inclination to revenge his queen in order to protect the vampires in his retinue and his bonded.
Felipe should have nurtured that kind of loyalty and leadership, rather than undermine it.
But no—the moment Felipe had seen Sookie Stackhouse, he’d coveted her like a child did a toy.
Thalia shook her head. Beyond meals, she didn’t care much for humans; however, Sookie had always treated her with kindness and respect—as she tried to treat all beings. And, for that, Thalia had made an exception and had come to like Sookie a great deal. Sookie craved peace; however, when thrown into war, she’d proven brave and resilient. Thalia admired that kind of spirit.
She and Sookie were similar in a fundamental and important way that made them kindred in Thalia’s eyes. They both wanted quiet, but when things became “loud,” they didn’t cower. They kicked ass.
Instead of simply asking for Sookie’s services now and then, as Sophie-Anne had been prepared to do after Eric bonded with her, Felipe coveted the telepath. Instead of seeing Eric as an asset—one of the most profitable sheriffs in the United States, despite his mostly rural domain—Felipe saw Eric as an impediment when it came to getting his desired “toy.” Instead of overruling Appius’s contract with Freyda, Felipe had allowed Eric to be pimped out to Oklahoma.
Thalia shook her head with judgment toward the becaped king. Felipe could have easily gotten Eric out of that godforsaken contract! After all, fealty to a monarch was above fealty to maker. Otherwise, the system wouldn’t work! It was against vampire law, in fact, for a maker to order his child to kill his king. And, if such an order were given, a child was to resist his maker with all his might and notify others of the command.
Yes—a loyal vampire was supposed to be willing to suffer torturous pain, which denying a maker inevitably brought forth, in order to serve his king or queen. In turn, the monarch was to protect his subjects, even from those makers—when the case of abuse was extreme.
Yes! Felipe could have easily gotten Eric out of the contract Appius had made with Freyda, especially once Appius was dead! However, the spoiled king had wanted a telepath of his very own. Of course, Eric was not oblivious to this desire and made sure that the contract he made with Freyda and Felipe included provisions for Sookie and her family’s safety and freedom. However, Felipe had always been patient, and he’d been waiting for an opportunity that would get him what he wanted without bringing consequences with it.
In truth, Thalia couldn’t wait until Felipe faced the consequences in the form of a Viking boot up his ass, but a direct assault against Felipe would be too dangerous. He had too many loyal to him—vampires he’d made rich. And he was too suspicious; thus, he guarded himself well.
A vampire who knew he had enemies—both seen and unseen—and who protected himself from all variables was a formidable opponent indeed.
Thalia’s phone vibrated again. Pam again—but this time she was sending an attachment.
“To amuse you,” the text said.
Thalia watched the video several times, her smile unguarded in her hiding place. Eric had, apparently, agreed to take a ride on the Russell Edgington express in order to get to Sookie and her unborn child faster. And watching the large Viking hop up on the much smaller vampire before being jetted into the night sky was amusing.
Thalia’s amusement quelled as she spotted her prey: Luther.
The vampire skulked toward the tree line from the cemetery, but he halted abruptly right before passing onto Sookie’s property. Obviously, the Fae-magic barrier was not as welcoming to him as it had been for Thalia. Once Luther had been compelled to stop, he pulled out his phone.
“Malcolm,” he asked curtly, “why the fuck can’t I sense anything that’s inside the Stackhouse house? And why the fuck can’t I move beyond the property line!?”
There was a pause.
“Well—why the fuck wasn’t I told that there was a spell around this house. Fuck! How am I supposed to get the telepath and her brat?”
“Well, Compton’s not here, so it doesn’t mean fuck to me that he had an invitation!”
“No—Felipe needs to realize that there’s no way to take her out of that house—unless witchcraft is used.”
“Well—are Weres kept off the property too? Luther asked.
“So Felipe already tried that?”
“Fuck! Then we’ll have to try a witch or wait for Sookie to come out on her own.”
A longer pause.
“Fine. Good idea. Where are you now?”
“No—since you are still ten miles away from Bon Temps, I’ll go to Compton’s. You go to the brother’s house. It’s a holiday, so—if we are lucky—the telepath will be there with her family. If not, we’ll use the brother to get her to cooperate—as you suggested.”
“I don’t care what Felipe told you to do. He also told you to follow my lead—correct?”
“Well—not that I have to justify myself to you—but I’m older. And stronger. I’ll wait at Compton’s for the cunt sheriff and take her out. Pamela is older than you, after all,” he sneered.
“Are you saying you cannot handle a human family?” he asked somewhat sarcastically.
“Good. Then handle them. And call me when you have them secured. And then—if there’s time before dawn—bring them here.”
Luther hung up and then turned and used vampire speed to cross the cemetery to Compton’s home.
Thalia’s quick mind immediately began combing through possibilities. She could fight Luther and still, perhaps, get to Jason Stackhouse’s home before Malcolm arrived. However, Luther was no spring chicken, and—though Thalia knew she could take him out—it might take some time for her to do it.
She made her decision quickly, based on what she knew Eric and Sookie would desire: the safety of the brother and his family. She left her hiding place and used her gift of flight to travel quickly to Jason Stackhouse’s home several miles away.
Having arrived before Malcolm, she found a good place to lie in wait and texted Pam with a change in their plans.
Malcolm had been turned into a vampire almost seventy years before. Before his “making” he had been in the FBI, and, therefore, he’d been a natural choice for a new child when his maker had needed a spy that he could trust.
At first, as many vampires did, Malcolm had resented his altered state, but by the end of his first decade as a vampire, he’d accepted being a vampire—and a lackey to his maker. And, when his maker’s purposes for him were done, Malcolm had been freed to pursue his own interests.
Felipe de Castro, always in need of good spies, had hired Malcolm almost a decade before—as he’d begun to contemplate taking over Louisiana. Of course, that was before Sophie-Anne’s “unfortunate” incapacitation. However, Felipe had clearly always believed in the “long-game.” And Malcolm had been sent on what his employer had called an “exploratory mission.”
From the beginning of his time in Louisiana, Malcolm had recognized that Eric Northman could be either the biggest threat to Felipe or the Nevada king’s biggest asset after a takeover. Malcolm didn’t care which. He just reported to his boss.
All in all, he’d liked his time in Louisiana. The trick to being a good spy was, after all, settling into the place. He liked working under both sheriffs that he’d served: Eric and Pam Ravenscroft. However, his true master had always been Felipe.
His king and employer had asked him to pursue the position of Assistant Investigator several years before in order to have more access to both Compton and the new sheriff. Of course, Malcolm was aware that Compton was also Felipe’s spy, but Bill didn’t know of Malcolm’s true alliances. It was better that way.
There had been many times that Compton wavered in his loyalties. In Malcolm’s opinion, he was too fixated on the telepath. And no “ordinary” vampire should have such a prize. She’d been meant for a king. Thus, Malcolm was more than happy that things were coming to a head with Compton and the telepath.
The sheriff would die so that she couldn’t be a threat to Felipe. That was a pity, but a necessary step.
The telepath would serve Nevada in the way in which Northman always should have compelled her to do.
All would be as it should.
And—after the dust settled—Malcolm would likely be reassigned. In fact, he had already packed up his things and was ready to move on as required. Of course, he stayed mostly packed—ready to travel light at a moment’s notice. Old habits and all.
He sighed as he approached Jason Stackhouse’s home. Felipe had told him to eliminate Sheriff Ravenscroft personally, but the king had also made clear that he should obey Luther, who was older and theoretically wiser. Malcolm didn’t know Luther personally, but he didn’t appreciate being insulted.
Malcolm scoffed. “As if I couldn’t take out a few humans,” he muttered.
Still, just in case the telepath was in her brother’s home and could sense him, Malcolm had parked well-away from the Stackhouse residence.
The spy approached with all of his stealth. Being in the FBI before becoming a vampire made him very good at being covert.
However, there was one universal truth among vampires: If you were older than your foe, you had the advantage.
Pamela’s second, Thalia, was most certainly older than Malcolm, and he didn’t hear her until she had him down on the ground—with a stake against his heart.
“Hello Malcolm,” Thalia said with a smirk.
“Any problems?” Pam smirked as she and Bartlett pulled up in a large SUV.
Thalia shook her head. “Malcolm is good for a seventy-year-old, but that’s all he is in the end.”
“Where is he?” King Bartlett asked.
“Your majesty,” Thalia acknowledged, though she bowed only a little. Still, for Thalia, it was a lot.
And Bartlett acknowledged the respect he’d been shown with a nod to her.
“There were silver chains in Malcolm’s trunk. I used them to secure him and then stowed him inside of the trunk I took them from,” Thalia responded.
“And Jason?” Pam asked.
“I’ve told him nothing—except to be expecting you. He is inside with his wife and children,” Thalia said.
“Any signs of Luther?” Bartlett asked.
“He was to be at Compton’s home—waiting for Pam,” Thalia said. “I expect that is still where he is. And—now that you are here—I would like to go for him.”
Bartlett looked at Pam. “And I would really like to go with her.”
Pam smirked. “Pity I can’t join the party.” She nodded toward her second. “Thalia knows the way. Happy hunting.”
Bartlett smiled wickedly before zipping off after Thalia.
Pam sighed. She really was disappointed that she didn’t get to go with them. She looked down at her phone. Karin had texted a few minutes before. Eric had arrived in time to ensure that Matthew was born safely. She traced the little face of the infant in the picture Karin had sent. He had Sookie’s expressive blue eyes.
“I will meet you soon, little bror. But first I must take care of your uncle,” Pam said softly before knocking on the door.
Jason Stackhouse answered immediately.
“Pam,” he said a little nervously. “Thalia said there was something up with Sookie.”
“Yes,” Pam confirmed.
“I guess you should come in then,” he said hesitantly. Though somewhat reluctant, the invitation was enough, and the vampiress moved into the small living room, following her host.
The woman Pam recognized as Jason’s wife stood up, a fussy baby in her arms. The vampiress could sense that there was an older child asleep in a bedroom down the hall.
Michele Stackhouse gave Pam a nervous smile. “Sorry, but we don’t have cause to keep TrueBlood in the house.”
“I am not here for a snack,” Pam said. “May I sit?”
“Of course!” Michele said, as if upset that she’d not offered the chair earlier.
Pam didn’t mind. “First things first,” she said, handing Jason her phone. “Your nephew was born tonight.”
Jason showed his growing maturity by just nodding and smiling at the picture.
“There are more. Drag your fingers to the left,” Pam instructed.
Jason did, and found pictures of her maker and Matthew, as well as Sookie and Matthew, as well as one of all three of them.
“Eric is with her?” Jason asked surprised. “I mean—when she called last night, she said she was going somewhere safe, and I had a feeling, but . . . .” His voice trailed off for a moment and then he looked at Pam. “I ain’t so smart about relationships and such, but even I could see how much she missed Eric when he was gone. But she told me he was gone for good. And then she was with Sam. And then she wasn’t. And then she was again. And then he died. I figured she’d be getting together with Bill again though. They’d spent some time together recently.”
Pam snarled, startling Michele, who held her baby closer.
“No,” Pam responded. “Sookie won’t be getting together with Bill Compton. He was going to help to steal her child for King Felipe de Castro.”
“But—uh—she was supposed to be safe,” Jason said.
“My maker did what he could to ensure that, but he never fully trusted Freyda or Felipe. Out of a misguided desire to protect Sookie, Compton agreed to help Felipe spy on Sookie. And—though he didn’t kill the shifter, Merlotte, his actions contributed to his death.” Pam paused. “There was a plan in place. Sookie would be led to believe that her new child, the boy she’s holding in that picture,” she gestured, “was dead. Felipe and Freyda would share the child, who is a telepath like his mother. Meanwhile, Bill would ‘comfort’ Sookie in her grief at losing a child.”
“Fuckin’ bastard!” Jason growled.
Michele brushed away a tear. “So Sookie’s on the run?”
“Yes,” Pam responded, “with Eric.”
“Where?” Jason asked.
“I’ll have to glamour you to forget if I tell you,” Pam said.
“Tell us,” Michele implored. “We’ll take the glamour as long as we know she’s okay.”
Jason smiled at his wife and took her hand.
“Mississippi right now. But Eric’s gonna take them farther away—to Sweden—once the baby and Sookie can travel. The king there is a friend, and they will be as safe as he can make them. I was to stay here—to watch over you. But it has become clear that Felipe will try to use you to draw out Sookie.”
“How can you be sure?” Jason asked.
“Thalia captured a vampire here tonight. His directive was to kidnap you and your family and to use you to control Sookie,” Pam informed.
“Why didn’t this King Phillip dude try to do this before?” Jason asked.
“Felipe,” Michele corrected, “and I’m guessin’ because Eric was under control before. And now he’s not.”
Pam smiled at the woman. “You are lucky in your selection of a wife, Stackhouse.”
“God knows I needed luck to get her,” he said under his breath.
They all laughed, even as there was a knock at the door.
Pam inhaled. “It is Thalia and the King of Indiana. He’s a friend. You can let them in.”
Jason stood up cautiously, but went to the door and issued the invitations nonetheless.
“Luther?” Pam asked.
“He wasn’t there when we got there,” Bartlett said.
“It’s only eighty minutes till dawn, so he might have gone to find a secure resting place,” Thalia said.
“We should find a place to stay for the day too,” Pam remarked.
“What about us?” Jason asked.
Pam sighed. “Now that Felipe has shown his willingness to target you, he won’t just let that go. As long as he is un-dead, you and your family will not be safe here. I can place guards on you and I could try to continue being sheriff, but you will always be targets as long as you are here.”
“And if we’re not here?” Michele asked.
“If you weren’t in a state controlled by de Castro, it would be easier to protect you,” Pam said.
“Then we’ll leave here,” Michele stated with strength.
“But this is our home!” Jason said.
Michele looked at him and smiled. “Jase, our family is our home, and—last I looked—neither of us had parents left. We have jobs here and a home, but we can’t trade safety for walls and nails.”
“I’m sure you could join Sookie in Sweden,” Pam offered.
“Or—if you want to stay in this country—you would be welcome in Indiana,” Bartlett said, his admiration for Jason’s wife’s strength clear. “I will make sure you have a home and find work. I am in debt to your sister; thus, I would consider it an honor to help you.”
Jason contemplated for a moment.
“Jase, we’ve talked about movin’ before so we’d both have better job opportunities and could provide better for the kids, but we stayed in Bon Temps ‘cause your sister was here,” Michele said.
Jason looked at his wife and then at Bartlett.
“Thanks. Uh—I think stayin’ in this country would be better for now.” He took a deep breath. “We’ll take you up on your offer, Your–uh–Majesty,” he said.
“We don’t have much time before dawn,” Pam said.
“We’ll help you pack your essentials,” Thalia offered.
Pam nodded in agreement. “And we’ll get you to Russell’s plane.”
“Tomorrow night, I’ll take them to see Sookie and the baby before I take them to Indiana,” Bartlett said, already texting someone. “After we land in Jackson, we’ll stay in one of Russell’s safe houses until the sun sets.”
“But will we have time to make it to Jackson before dawn?” Michele asked.
“I have a travel coffin on the plane,” Bartlett smiled. “Now. Tell us what you need tonight. Tomorrow I’ll send someone here to pack up the rest of your things and they will be delivered to your new home.”
Jason looked stunned for a moment. “Uh—okay. Let’s get movin’ then.”
THALIA POV: THE NEXT NIGHT, JUST AFTER SUNSET
After hurriedly sending off Jason Stackhouse and his family the night before, Pam and Thalia had gone to the ground in a field about fifteen miles north of Sookie’s home.
Thalia was used to seeking shelter in the earth. In fact, it’s what she preferred.
Pam grumbled as she brushed dust off of her clothing.
“You have dirt in your hair, too,” Thalia said snidely.
Pam growled at her, but the older vampiress just chuckled. For her own part, she didn’t give a fuck what she looked like. She just cared about her prey. With that in mind, she straightened her gloves and pulled Malcolm from the ground by the scruff of his neck.
The captured vampire groaned out in pain.
“Bitch!” he yelled as the silver he was trapped in shifted on his already raw skin.
“That’s bitches—plural,” Pam intoned.
“Felipe will have your heads for this,” Malcolm snarled.
“He is welcome to try to take my head,” Thalia said casually, even as she dropped Malcolm onto the ground. “Others have tried. Betters have tried. He may have his turn.”
“Where is Luther?” Pam asked Malcolm.
“Luther who?” the prisoner spit out defiantly.
Pam kicked the vampire in the sternum, cracking it. She knew, from her maker’s guidance, just how painful that could be. And Malcolm was obviously learning it too, even as the large bone snapped back together. As soon as it did, Pam repeated the break, knowing it would take longer to heal this time.
Knowing it would hurt worse.
“You were in the FBI before you were turned,” Thalia commented. “I know your maker—Jonathan.” She sat on the earth next to Malcolm. “He is weak, though he is good at choosing decent children. You are one of them, but your days are done. Tell us where Luther is and we will make it quick.”
“Fuck you!” he snarled.
“Do you know how old I am?” Thalia asked. “Surely you have heard rumors about my ways; you have been in the area long enough. You must trust me when I tell you that my experience in causing extensive pain is vast. And what Pamela lacks in experience, she makes up for in creativity and natural aptitude. And we both have a desire to inflict pain tonight—for Northman and for his woman. Moreover, we have been forced to be docile long enough,” she added forebodingly. “We are,” she paused, “restless to break the bones of our enemies—as you can tell.”
“It can be you or it can be Luther who suffers our wrath,” Pam informed.
“Tell us—do you know anything beyond the fact that Luther was to wait at Compton’s for Pam last night?” Thalia asked.
Malcolm didn’t answer.
“Do you know anything of Felipe’s security in Las Vegas?” Pam asked.
Again, he said nothing.
“You are a lackey—aren’t you? I bet it was Victor and not Felipe who made the deal for your services,” Thalia said.
“Probably at a Denny’s,” Pam added.
Thalia was looking at Malcolm closely. She let out a sigh and took a stake out of her jacket before pushing it through his chest without another word.
She and Pam exchanged a look as Malcolm exploded. Both of them had quickly realized that their vampire prisoner was faithfully loyal to his master, and knew little beyond the scope of his own assignment. And they had bigger fish to fry—like Luther.
“What do you think we should do?” Pam asked.
“The unexpected,” Thalia grinned. “Let’s go to Fangtasia.”
“It would be nice to say goodbye to the old joint,” Pam smirked.
After Eric had been forced to go to Oklahoma because of that fucking contract that Appius had negotiated with Freyda, Fangtasia’s profits had plummeted.
How could they not when the star attraction was no longer there?
Pam had tried several “replacements” before she found one who could bring in nearly the same number of “fans” as Eric had. The problem was in finding that perfect mix of cultural mystique and charisma in a vampire.
Many were from cultures that lent to the human imagination just as much as the Viking culture. Samurai, Egyptian, Massai, Greek, Aztec, Hun—Pam had tried all of them. However, all the individual vampires that were “auditioned” lacked the requisite “charm.” Some had been too friendly. Others—notably the Hun—had been too homicidal. She scoffed as she thought of the patrons in Fangtasia during the Hun’s two-week trial period. Anyone with any self-preservation had avoided the club; only those bottom dwellers who truly wanted death had continued to come.
She’d not had a good meal the entire time!
Finally, Pam had gone about things from a different direction. She went for charisma first, finding a one-hundred-and-fifty-something-year-old vampire who used to be on the stage in England. And then she’d created a “role” for him to play: an ancient Spartan warrior. All of the vampires in Area 5 knew the truth, of course. They could all sense that “Eucleidas” wasn’t ancient, but they went along with the deception, and the clientele returned to the quality that had frequented the club during Eric’s tenure—though the numbers never quite reached “Eric-status.”
In truth—Pam didn’t much care. Without her maker there, the bar was just a convenient place for her to perform her sheriff duties. In fact, she didn’t even spend much time in the main club—unless it took her a while to select a meal.
However, she felt nostalgic as she walked in through the back doors. Of course, she was also cautious. Thalia had her back, and she’d checked in with Casey, whom Pam had hired as her own replacement at Fangtasia when she took over Eric’s duties. Casey was young—only ninety years a vampire—but she was trustworthy.
The club had been closed for Christmas, and Boxing Day had been on a Monday, so—despite the fact that it was a Tuesday—Fangtasia was packed with people wanting to escape the “holiday spirit.” Eucleidas was sitting on the stage. Eric’s throne had been “retired” after he left, so each new “featured act” had gotten his or her own throne to match his or her culture.
Eucleidas nodded at Pam and then went back to brooding as he studied the fangbangers competing for his attention. With a quick scan of the room, Pam spotted Thalia, positioned stealthily near the hallway leading to the back. Pam motioned for Casey, who followed her to the office.
As she sat down in Eric’s old chair, she pulled out her phone and dialed a number she had used once a month during her tenure as sheriff.
“Sheriff, I was not expecting a call from you until the fifth of January,” Michael Norris’s voice sounded as the call was picked up in Las Vegas. Michael was Felipe’s personal assistant, and all sheriff business went through him—a thing for which Pam had been extremely happy because it limited her personal interactions with Felipe. In fact, her call from Felipe the previous night had been the first time she’d spoken to him directly since her annual report in July.
“I am afraid that I have to report a missing vampire in my area,” Pam said evenly.
“Compton?” Michael returned, asking the question as if making an accusation. “We had already been informed of that disappearance by Malcolm.”
“Yes,” Pam said, “and it is Malcolm who would usually be informing you of the latest disappearance; however, it is Malcolm himself who is missing.”
“Explain,” Michael said gruffly.
“Felipe called me personally last night and asked me to meet with Malcolm at Compton’s home in order to assist in finding Compton and/or securing the database materials. When his majesty called, I was indulging in personal business on my night off and was not able to reach Bon Temps until about an hour before dawn. When I arrived at Compton’s, Malcolm was not there—though I picked up the scent of another vampire in the area.”
“Do you know who?” Michael asked.
“Yes. Luther—Freyda’s second,” Pam said.
There was a short pause.
“Please hold for Felipe,” came Michael’s voice.
Pam had figured that “a personal audience” with Felipe would be coming, and now she would have to be a more convincing performer than even her fake Spartan.
“Sheriff Ravenscroft,” Felipe greeted.
Pam cringed slightly at his annoying accent.
“Your majesty,” she said.
“What’s this I hear about a second investigator in your area going missing?” he asked.
“As you ordered, I went to meet Malcolm at Compton’s residence before dawn. Malcolm was not there, so I secured the database items,” she lied. “I waited until I had to go to ground. Another vampire had been at his house recently, however.” She paused for the sake of her performance. “Luther—Oklahoma’s second.”
“Ah—yes. Oklahoma,” Felipe said with almost a purr. “Surely you have heard that she has been killed—by your maker.”
“Yes—just as I have heard that your contract with Eric has become null and void.”
“And where does that leave you, Sheriff Ravenscroft?” he asked. “Where do your loyalties lie?”
“I swore fealty to you, my king,” she said. “Vampire law is clear; I must endeavor to obey my king, even over my maker.”
“Yes—but the contract we signed allows you to resign from my service at any time. It was one of your maker’s conditions.”
“Indeed,” Pam returned evenly, “but—as you know—another specification of the contract was that I have no contact with Eric. So I am unaware of his desires.”
“Were you complicit in his overthrow of Freyda?” Felipe asked directly.
“Define complicit,” Pam smirked.
“Did you help him?” Felipe yelled.
“I did not help in Oklahoma,” she hedged. “However, I am glad that Eric killed his captor. I am glad that he is now free of all who would imprison him.”
“Where is Sookie Stackhouse?” Felipe asked, changing topics suddenly in an effort to catch her off guard.
“Is she missing too?” she asked innocently.
“Yes,” Felipe growled out.
“Well—I’d heard that she was seeing Bill Compton again. And he is missing. Perhaps, they’ve run away together. He has always been fixated on her, and he has said more than once in my presence that he would do anything to help her escape vampire politics. However, now that you are no longer under contract to my maker, you need no longer be concerned with Sookie’s protection. I, too, am off the hook in that arena,” she smiled.
“What of Malcolm?” Felipe growled. “What’s being done to find him?”
“Well—given Luther’s presence in the area—I’d suspect that he had something to do with Malcolm’s disappearance. Given Luther’s closeness to Freyda, it seems reasonable that he came to Bon Temps to kill Eric’s ex-wife—in an attempt to exact some kind of revenge for his own queen and lover’s death. Not finding Sookie, it is my supposition that he went across the cemetery to confront Compton, but found Malcolm instead. I fear for Malcolm,” Pam said, sounding sincere—though slightly dramatic. “Though strong for his age, Malcolm would be no match for Luther. However—I assure you—I have some of my best people out looking for Luther now.”
“And where are you?” Felipe asked.
“At Fangtasia,” Pam responded, “overseeing the operation.”
There was a pause.
“Given the situation with your maker, I no longer trust you in your position as sheriff,” Felipe said.
“If it is your wish, your majesty, I will tender my resignation immediately,” she said evenly, though she was smiling.
“No need. You are fired. You will surrender yourself to my new sheriff’s custody in one hour’s time, and you will remain in my custody until I am confident that you were involved in none of the recent disappearances in Area 5. If you fail to cooperate, you will be ended,” he added in a steely tone before hanging up.
Pam smirked and pulled a piece of paper out of her top drawer. It was a bill of sale of Fangtasia to Casey. “That’ll be a dollar,” Pam said, handing the vampiress a pen.
Casey pulled a ready dollar out of her bra and signed on the dotted line.
“Thank you,” Casey said. “What now?”
“Well,” Pam smiled, even as she tucked the dollar into her own bra, “now I take care of some last-minute business and get the hell out of Dodge. You remember my request?”
Casey chuckled. “Yes. I will make sure that all of your clothing is packed up and sent to the address you gave me. Is there anything else you need?”
Pam shook her head. She had long since secretly moved most of her things of value to Eric’s home in Sweden for safe-keeping—including her favorite pieces from her wardrobe. However, she’d be damned if Felipe made her leave behind the rest of it! Her apparel would take a round-about route to her so that the shipping couldn’t be traced; however, she reconciled herself to the fact that she’d have it all soon enough.
In the meantime, she would have fun shopping for what she needed.
“Speaking of clothing,” she said, looking down at her soiled outfit as she rose, “I need to change.”
Casey’s expression turned serious. “I will help you; I will fight with you.”
Pam patted Casey’s arm affectionately. The two had been on-again off-again lovers over the years—more friends with benefits since Pam was still dealing with her grief over losing Miriam.
“Thalia and I can handle what Felipe sends our way,” Pam assured. “It’s best if you are uninvolved.”
Casey nodded. “I hope to meet you again sometime, Pamela.”
“I hope that too,” Pam returned, leaning in to kiss the new owner of Fangtasia goodbye. She let it be a goodbye kiss for the club as well.
Then, she quickly zipped into her private bathroom and changed into clothing better-suited for kicking ass. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and sighed, wishing there was time to shower. Thalia had been right. There was dirt in her hair.
She texted a signal to her compatriot, and then removed a panel of the ceiling tile. It concealed a tunnel leading to the roof. “Put this back when we’re gone?” Pam asked Casey.
The other vampiress nodded.
“Ready?” Thalia asked as she came into the office.
Pam nodded and placed her arms around Thalia’s neck, letting out a little curse as the older vampiress flew them upward to the latch that led to the roof.
“It’s not my fault you cannot fly,” Thalia intoned.
“Bitch,” Pam muttered.
Thalia just laughed.
From the roof, Thalia flew them to Pam’s only “known” residence. Thankfully, it was not where her wardrobe resided. Even now, Pam was certain that Casey was telling the bartender that Pam had left the bar and gone home. The word would eventually get back to the “Spartan” on the stage, who—in addition to being a big draw—was also another spy for Felipe.
He was a good actor. But not that good.
That would mean that Felipe would send his minions to her home, even as he put others in place to block her exit from the state. She was not naïve enough to think that the king would let her “escape” the state without a fight. No. He’d told her that he was sending people for her because he wanted for her to fight—and die. Now that Malcolm was no longer in position to kill her quietly, Felipe had clearly decided to be more overt. Hell, he’d probably already filled out the paperwork about her death!
“How many do you think he’ll send?” she asked Thalia as they went to Pam’s safe room and took out weapons. From there, Pam also activated the booby traps in her home.
She was her maker’s child—after all. He’d taught her all about getting the upper hand on an enemy.
“Twenty or so,” Thalia responded.
“Why so many?” Pam asked.
“He will know that I am with you,” Thalia answered.
Pam chuckled. “Then he should send more.”
Thalia smirked. “Yes. He should, but his spy will also let him know that no others left Fangtasia with you. And Felipe has no true idea of what I am capable—and even less of what you are capable.”
Pam’s eyebrow lifted. “A compliment? From you?”
Thalia smirked. “I merely point out the fact that your maker trained you to be better than your years, and what you lack in age you make up in,” she paused, “imagination.”
Even as Thalia finished speaking, they heard the sounds of several vehicles outside.
“Show time,” Pam smirked.
Thalia’s fangs were already down.
And ready for blood.
LUTHER POV(THE PREVIOUS NIGHT, 100 MINUTES BEFORE DAWN)
After getting to Compton’s place and finding no sign of Ravenscroft, Luther decided to look for the “famed” database, which Felipe also wanted Malcolm and him to secure.
He was on the second floor when he stumbled upon Compton’s actual resting place. It was different from the spot that “seemed” to be where the younger vampire rested, a dank place that had been under a trapdoor beneath the stairs.
Luther cautiously entered the space. It wasn’t unknown for a vampire to create fake resting places to throw off enemies. What surprised him was that he could smell nothing inside of the room.
“It must be warded,” he said to himself.
Not surprisingly, Luther found Compton’s computers in the small, warded room. Being a proficient hacker himself, he easily gained access to Bill’s system.
Luther scoffed. Compton, obviously, was arrogant—and short-sighted. For he had only one real safeguard, the ward.
Luther soon learned that the Civil War veteran had been Felipe’s spy even before the take-over. With a grin on his face, he read all of the emails between Felipe and Compton, as well as between Freyda and Compton.
Indeed, it seemed as if Compton had collected all of the correspondence as insurance—just in case anything ever happened to him.
There was also correspondence between Compton and his vampire sister, Judith, who would be responsible with making public the evidence if anything ever happened to Bill.
Predictably, given the rumors concerning Compton’s fixation with the telepath, there was also a file with many pictures of her—almost all of them taken from a distance. Some—labeled as being from a year or so before—showed the telepath having intercourse with a man, likely the shifter. Others, dated further back, showed her having sex with the Viking.
“Oh, Billy Boy, you are a sick bastard—or were,” Luther mumbled, even as he tried to push down his own grief and anger regarding Freyda’s death. “I’m going to kill you, Northman,” he seethed, looking at a blurry picture of the Viking, “and your erstwhile bonded too. Anyone who gave you such pleasure will die.”
After calming himself, Luther clicked onto a different file, this one labeled, “A.B.”
As soon as Luther read the email exchanges in that file, he smiled. “A.B.” stood for Amelia Broadway, a witch who had a grudge against Sookie Stackhouse. She’d been paid by Compton to create the ward around the room Luther was now in. Apparently, in addition to a standard spell to cover up scents in the room, no other “senses” of an enemy could discover the room—including hearing and sight. Not being Compton’s enemy, ‘sight’ had been how Luther had discovered the room, for he’d realized that there was unaccounted-for space between two rooms and had then searched for the mechanism to get inside of that space. According to the emails detailing the wards, that mechanism couldn’t be triggered by an enemy either.
Luther, therefore, was a little less panicked as he heard two vampires enter the home looking for someone—perhaps Compton, perhaps Malcolm, or perhaps himself. Still, despite the emails wherein the witch assured Compton that no enemies could hear, see, smell, taste, or even touch anything inside the safe room unless one knowledgeable about its location showed them, Luther remained tense and quiet—just in case the spell became less effective if the vampire it was for had been slain, for Luther was pretty sure that Compton was, indeed, truly dead.
Luther soon recognized the scent of one of the vampires: Thalia, Pam Ravenscroft’s second in command. In that moment, Luther was glad to be concealed behind a ward—very glad indeed.
Thalia was old and powerful. She was also rumored to be ruthless.
The other vampire’s scent was also familiar, though Luther could not place it. It was as if he’d been in the same room as the vampire before, but hadn’t met him or her.
Fifteen minutes after they entered, the two left, and Luther let out a sigh of relief before calling Felipe.
“Report,” came Felipe’s heavily accented tone.
“I am at Compton’s residence, for I was unable to venture onto the telepath’s property,” Luther said.
“That damned Brigant’s ward recognized you as an enemy?” he asked.
Luther wanted to scoff out an, “of course, you fool!”, but kept his tone even. “Yes.”
“Have you and Malcolm killed Ravenscroft?” Felipe asked.
“Not yet. At Compton’s, I discovered a warded safe room. Here, I found the database—as well as other files.”
“What files?” the king asked.
“Compton was keeping a file detailing his correspondences with Freyda—probably so that he could give you the information if the need arose,” Luther lied. Of course, he omitted the information about the file regarding Felipe.
“Anything else?” the king asked.
“Some risqué images of the telepath. And an interesting exchange of emails between Compton and Amelia Broadway, a known witch. It was she who warded Compton’s safe room. She has no love lost for the telepath, so she might be useful in counteracting the magic around Miss Stackhouse’s home.”
Felipe considered for a moment. “I will contact her; I am certain that Sookie is behind that magical curtain,” he growled, “but it will not hold me back for long. What else can you report?”
“After I realized I could not get into the telepath’s home directly, it seemed that the best way to draw her out was by threatening her. Even now, Malcolm is securing her brother and his family for that purpose. I expect him to bring them here before sunrise or at nightfall tomorrow. Perhaps, in the interim, it would be wise to station Weres on the telepath’s road—so that she can be taken if she shows herself outside the property.”
“It will be done,” Felipe said gruffly.
“Also, two vampires were just here—looking for me or Malcolm or Compton,” Luther reported.
“No—but her second, Thalia. And another I cannot identify. But I could not have defeated them; thus, I stayed concealed in the safe room,” Luther said.
Felipe was silent for a moment. “Stay there for the day. I will contact Malcolm and inform you of your next assignment tomorrow night.”
The king hung up, and Luther sneered at the phone, regretting ever tying himself to such an asshole. He allowed himself a moment of uninhibited grief for his Freyda before he found a data-stick and copied all the incriminating evidence that Bill had left behind about Felipe.
Then he looked again at the erotic pictures of the telepath and pleasured himself until dawn.
LUTHER POV, THE NEXT NIGHT
Luther woke up to a message that Malcolm hadn’t responded to Felipe’s phone call before dawn.
Not caring about the other vampire, Luther was ambivalent about that information.
However, there was also good news. Felipe said that he was tired of fucking around with Pam Ravenscroft and would be firing her and hiring Luther to be Sheriff of Area 5. He was also sending up fifteen vampires from New Orleans, and Luther’s first directive as sheriff was to meet up with them and a few of the spies Felipe had in the area. Then he was to lead the force to take Ravenscroft and Thalia into custody—dead or alive.
Obviously, Felipe’s preference was dead.
Almost better was the news that the witch would be traveling to Bon Temps the following night—in order to check out the magic around the telepath’s home and/or try to coax Sookie out for a “visit.”
Given that Compton was approximately the same size as Luther, he decided to raid the likely-finally-dead vampire’s closet. Thankfully, in the sea of khakis and Polo shirts, there were some dark jeans and a black button down. Luther completed his acquisitions by taking a dark coat. He looked in the mirror and frowned at the other vampire’s lack of fashion sense, but the clothing would have to do.
Luther’s first order of business was hiding the data drive; he found an old shack on Compton’s place where no one would look. That task complete, he went by Jason Stackhouse’s home, where he smelled four vampires: the former sheriff, her second, the other vampire from the night before, and a vampire he assumed was Malcolm. He quickly determined that no humans were inside the home.
After relaying his new information to his king via text message, he hurried toward his rendezvous with his little army. As he issued his first orders to them, Felipe’s assistant Michael texted him that Pam and Thalia had left Fangtasia and had likely gone to Pam’s residence. After getting the address from Michael, Luther marshaled his forces and made his plan.
As it was a vampire’s home, his forces wouldn’t need an invitation. And Luther intended to take advantage of that by surrounding the home and breeching from all sides. Thalia might be strong, but—according to all accounts—Pam had more bark than bite. And Luther would have the numbers advantage.
As he and his team pulled up to Pam’s home, he inhaled deeply and determined that only two vampires were inside.
He definitely had the upper hand. And he was ready to take his first blood as the Sheriff of Area 5.
“Are you ready?” Thalia asked.
“Yes,” Pam said. “No. Wait! Do you want to see him? Matthew?” she asked.
Pam quickly scrolled through her pictures and showed them to Thalia before erasing them. If she were killed, she did not want them to be found.
“Your maker is lucky,” Thalia said.
“He deserves a little luck,” Pam returned.
With a nod, Thalia agreed. “You and I—here—we will not need luck. We will create a river of blood tonight,” she said confidently as if there were no question of the outcome.
Pam smiled and linked arms with her compatriot as she knew her master would have done. “We will decimate them.”
“Ex-sheriff Ravenscroft! Thalia!” came Luther’s shout from outside. “By the authority of the King of Nevada, Louisiana, and Arkansas, Felipe de Castro, you are under arrest! Come peacefully, and you will be treated,” he paused, “gently.”
“Where would be the fun in your gentle touches?” Pam yelled back sarcastically.
She and Thalia nodded to each other.
“Let’s leave Luther alive for a while—if we can,” Thalia whispered darkly.
Pam nodded, even as hell broke loose.
PAM POV, CONTINUED
Pam’s booby traps were designed to both kill and to weaken. Once the system was set, breaches to the doors and/or windows triggered sprays of liquid silver which had been—ironically enough—designed by a Fellowship offshoot called the Purgers. In addition, nets of silver would release as certain parts of the floor were stepped upon. The deadliest set of booby traps, however, had been a conception of her maker. Once sensors picked up a certain number of beings in the room, stakes would be shot out of strategic places—including vases and paintings—like missiles.
Eric had gotten the idea from watching an Indiana Jones movie—or so he said.
Pam and Thalia waited to hear the screams caused by the liquid silver and then the louder wails caused by the nets before moving to the door of her safe room. Then they waited for the whoosh of the stakes flying before they exited.
Ignoring the wails of the injured, the two vampiresses targeted those who’d been unharmed as of yet.
Thalia moved with incredible speed and brutality. She’d chosen to fight with a xiphos, a double-edged sword that any Grecian warrior would be proud to wield. Her tongue out so that she could taste their blood, she chopped down her enemies.
Meanwhile, Pam had chosen a more elegant weapon. With her katana, she sliced upward and then to the side, taking arms before taking heads.
It was certainly true that Thalia was the greater warrior, killing three for every one that Pam slayed, but the younger vampiress wrought more damage than might have been expected, and in less than five minutes, all foes but Luther were truly dead.
As for the new sheriff? He’d been captured in one of the nets before the battle had even gotten started.
PAM POV, CONTINUED
Pam texted Russell, even as she used a towel to wipe the blood from her face.
She nodded to Thalia, silently confirming that Russell was sending his jet to the private airfield outside of Shreveport that they’d used the night before.
Jason and his family were secure, and Bartlett and they were currently in Mississippi visiting with Sookie. Before long, they would leave to go to Indiana with the king of that state.
All that was left for Pam and Thalia to do was to get to the airfield an hour before dawn in order to meet Russell’s plane.
Not really feeling secure enough in their current location to shower, Pam grabbed her pre-packed overnight bag and put in some clean clothing for Thalia.
By the time she’d done that, Thalia already had Luther “packed” in the back of Pam’s minivan.
After destroying Luther’s phone, lest they be tracked, Pam drove toward the airfield without a word. She was too busy enjoying Luther’s monologue.
Meanwhile, Thalia flew above them, making sure they were not followed.
“I could give you information,” Luther had started, his voice tinged with desperation. When he’d been met by Pam’s silence, he’d spilled anyway. He talked about the evidence Compton had kept regarding Freyda and Felipe. He spoke of the pictures of Sookie—including the ones that depicted her having sex with Eric years before. When he spoke of the witch, Amelia, Pam felt her hands tighten around the steering wheel. Once upon a time, she’d liked that witch, but it seemed as if Amelia had turned into an even more twisted version of her father, Copley Carmichael.
Pam found herself wishing that she could stay until the next night so that she could intercept Amelia, but she discounted that idea. It was best to stick to the current plan. It was best to bring all of their forces together. It was best to leave the area before more of Felipe’s forces could be marshaled.
Yes—she and Thalia had torn through those who’d been sent earlier that night. But most of those vampires had been young. And Pam couldn’t ignore the fact that she’d been nicked by more than one blade. Had the vampires wielding those blades been more powerful, she would have been killed.
Still—she and Thalia did have some time to spare before they were to be at the airfield, and Pam aimed to take some satisfaction. She changed her route toward Bon Temps. She knew that Thalia would follow.
“Why did you come here?” Thalia asked the vampiress who had been her sheriff and “friend” for many years.
Instead of answering, Pam kicked Luther out the vehicle. “Show me!” she yelled.
Recognizing that there was information to be found in Compton’s home, Thalia followed a bound Luther as he took them upstairs and led them into a hidden safe room that even her ancient senses hadn’t picked up on the night before.
“Magic? A ward?” Thalia asked.
“Amelia Broadway,” Pam said in answer, each word of the name spit out derisively.
Unsurprisingly, the worm, Luther, begged for his life. “I’ve shown you what I found! You would have never known it was here without me! I’ve cooperated. I’ll just disappear! Ask your maker,” he directed toward Pam. “Ask him! I’ve never wronged him! I swear it! I may have done as Freyda asked, but I never wronged Eric! I liked him!” he said desperately.
The vampiresses ignored the pleading ass. His death warrant had already been signed.
“What do you want to do?” Thalia asked.
“We will take the hard drive to Eric,” Pam responded. “We already knew much of this information, but the updates to the database might be useful.”
Thalia nodded and then ripped open the computer before taking out its hard drive.
Pam looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
“What?” Thalia smirked. “I look a computer class once.”
Pam chuckled, but then sobered considerably as she wrote out a note.
“To Amelia?” Thalia asked, sensing her sheriff’s hurt.
“Yes,” Pam replied. “She’ll know we were here. I once . . . .” She paused. “Before Miriam, I thought that Amelia could be . . . .”
“You need not say more,” Thalia said when her friend paused. “I understand.”
Pam looked at Thalia gratefully even as they both continued to ignore the crying, begging Luther.
“What say we make him a part of the message?” Thalia asked in an upbeat way.
Pam’s somber look became wicked. “I’d say fuckin’ A!”
Pam and Thalia secured Luther to a banister on the porch of the old mansion. His silver chains were tight—and placed directly against his skin in order to ensure maximum pain. The vampiresses surrounded him with gasoline and drizzled the accelerant throughout the house, making sure to completely douse the most offending areas—with Bill’s hidden safe room getting the biggest bath.
His closet also received quite a dousing. Apparently, when it came to Bill’s khakis, Pam was determined to be sure they didn’t miraculously survive.
“Don’t leave me like this!” Luther begged, knowing that the sun would burn him and ignite the gasoline.
The two vampiresses said nothing to him as Pam left the note for Amelia, displayed prominently on a nearby tree. Luther was below their notice now—save one thing: they wanted to see him die.
They glamoured a human to go to Compton’s and to record the image of Luther dying and the house burning to the ground. The human would then email the video to Pam’s untraceable email before deleting it and throwing away the burner phone Pam gave him. He was to watch the death and the destruction as if he were watching an action movie and then forget about that too.
Their “correspondent” arranged, they ditched Pam’s car, and then Pam allowed herself to be flown to the airport by Thalia, though she was careful to make sure she was not being filmed.
AMELIA POV, THE NEXT NIGHT
Amelia Broadway had to park her car quite a distance from what remained of Bill’s mansion because there were fire trucks surrounding the property.
What was left of the house was a husk—only a few crumpled and still smoking walls. The fire had obviously burned hot.
Amelia wiped away a tear as she wondered if Bill had been inside. Her relationship with that vampire was complicated at best, as was her relationship with Sookie Stackhouse.
It was only after Amelia had left Bon Temps—after she was no longer living with a telepath—that she had fully acknowledged that she both hated and loved Sookie. There was nothing in between. Before that, she’d inhibited her stronger emotions using a spell—so that Sookie wouldn’t be able to hear any associative thoughts she had about her.
Yes. Amelia loved Sookie. However, she did not love her like a friend. She was in love with her.
Knowing that Sookie was both straight and a telepath, Amelia had stifled her feelings for months, and when that had become impossible, she’d used the spell. Many times, she had tried to talk herself into believing that she thought of Sookie only as a treasured “sister.” But, looking back, Amelia knew better. It had never been like that. Why else would she have left behind her old life in New Orleans to move to Podunk Bon Temps? It wasn’t for the fucking culture! Oh—she’d said it was to get away from her overbearing father, but she now knew that it was to follow the blonde who had captivated her so fully.
As a witch, Amelia was good at picking up auras, and Sookie’s was golden. No wonder then—Amelia thought bitterly—that so many Supernaturals were so captivated by her. And Amelia had hated all of them—though that, too, she had tried to stifle.
Except when it had come to Eric Northman.
Other than that, Amelia had tried to “support” her friend while they were sharing a home, even as her subconscious had wanted to be sharing Sookie’s bed.
The worst nights were those when she had to listen to Sookie and Eric together. Their shared moans of pleasure were so upsetting to Amelia that she had to enact a spell to prevent herself from hearing them. She’d lied to Sookie, telling her that the spells were to protect Sookie’s modesty.
Sookie had be grateful for them.
But it wasn’t the telepath’s gratefulness that Amelia had wanted the most. It was her love.
Of course, Amelia had tried to have her own life and to find a love that was viable. She’d tried with Pam first—probably because, in being close to Eric’s child, she could be even closer to Sookie.
An even more essential planet orbiting the sun: Sookie.
Unlike with Pam, Amelia had felt real love for Tray. It wasn’t all-consuming, but it did settle her emotions a bit, and she was ready to settle down with him.
Settle for him.
But because he’d been hired to protect Sookie, he’d died. And that had torn Amelia apart—but not for the obvious reasons.
No—it had been guilt that had gutted her. There had been a big part of her that was grateful that Tray had died so that Sookie might live. There had been an even bigger part of her that had hoped that Eric’s inability to save Sookie from Neave and Lochlan would drive her beloved away from the Viking.
That hadn’t happened.
When Sookie had asked for help in breaking her bond with Eric, Amelia had rejoiced—even though she also subconsciously knew that she still had no chance with Sookie romantically. At least Eric would be out of the way. That’s why Amelia had introduced Alcide into the situation and into Sookie’s bed.
In Amelia’s mind, it was better to imagine Sookie being with someone whom she didn’t love with a burning passion. With Alcide, Sookie would have been “settling”—just as Amelia herself would have to settle as long as she didn’t have Sookie.
And Amelia could handle that.
The only creature who had ever learned of her enduring love for Sookie was someone who loved her just as desperately—and as hopelessly.
Taking a walk to get fresh air after the Fae war, Bill, who had still been suffering from silver-poisoning, had found Amelia weeping in the woods one night as she’d been working to strengthen the spell that would inhibit her emotion-laden thoughts concerning Sookie. Bill had assumed that Amelia was grieving for Tray, but she’d let out that she was grieving for Sookie—because she’d gone to stay the night in Eric Northman’s bed.
That night, Amelia had stayed in Bill’s bed. And they’d used each other to forget Sookie for precious minutes.
They’d used each other many other times since then—especially before Amelia had left the area.
When her father had been killed because of Sookie, Amelia’s hate and love once again conflicted with one another. The only consolation had been that Sookie lost Eric around the same time. He had been forced to divorce Sookie and to leave her for Freyda of Oklahoma, and it was clear that the situation had broken Sookie’s heart.
“Join the fucking club!” Amelia muttered as she tentatively made her way closer to the ashes of Bill’s estate.
Through Bill, Amelia had kept track of Sookie’s life, even as she’d “settled” into a relationship with Bob. She’d even had a child with him, but her deepest love was for Sookie only.
So was her deepest hate.
That’s why she’d helped Bill to ward his resting place. He was the only one who understood. And he’d also promised to make sure that Sookie would never get back together with Eric.
Hell—Amelia was even happy for Bill when he seemed to be on his way to reestablishing a relationship with Sookie. Amelia felt that Bill deserved his happiness, and—though she never told this to the vampire—she was certain that Bill would make Sookie miserable in the long run.
Two birds—one stone.
When Bill had commiserated with Amelia over staging the death of Sookie’s unborn son in order to give him to Felipe and Freyda, Amelia had gently encouraged the plan—for Sookie’s sake.
And for the greater good.
She’d told Bill that he was the hero in the situation and that he was protecting “their” beloved. But inside, Amelia was thinking only of how losing her son would hurt Sookie.
When Felipe de Castro had called her the night before, he gave her another avenue to cause Sookie pain. For a while, Amelia had been researching how to eliminate the Fae magic that protected Sookie’s home, and she had a potential spell that could do it. And—when Felipe offered her a king’s ransom to try—she had the perfect excuse. She’d been told to meet with the new sheriff of the area at Bill’s home that night in order to try out her spell.
During her drive to Bon Temps, she’d been looking forward to seeing her lover and hurting her beloved. But her plans were obviously not to be.
“Miss, hold up! Please! Best not to get too close,” one of the firemen said, breaking her out of her reverie.
“Amelia?” came Andy Bellefleur’s voice. “I was just gettin’ ready to call you.”
“Really?” she asked, truly mystified about why she—of all people—would be called because of a fire at Bill’s. After all, no one knew of their relationship.
“Yeah. But you’re here. Hey—uh—why are you here?” he asked.
“I was making a quick after-Christmas visit to Sook,” she lied smoothly. “I saw the smoke, and Bill is a friend.”
“Did Vampire Bill know you were coming?” Andy asked.
“I’m not sure. Sookie probably told him. Why?”
“Well—uh—looks like he committed suicide. And he left a note—addressed to you. It was posted to a tree.”
“What? Me?” Amelia asked with surprise.
“Sorry, but for—uh—obvious reasons, I read it, but—uh—I can let you see it.”
“Please,” Amelia said with curiosity, even as she brushed away another tear.
Andy handed her the letter. It was in a clear plastic evidence bag. She knew the handwriting right away.
It wasn’t Bill’s; it was Pam’s.
I always counted you a friend, and I don’t have many of those left as I write this. The love of my life, my Sookie, has run away with Eric Northman. I fear for her heart, even as mine breaks. I feel as if she is dead to me, and I cannot live on. It is my hope that you will have a peaceful life and that you stay away from Supernatural issues from now on. This choice is yours, but you know that consequences follow those who dabble in such things. We have all made mistakes in this life, and, as I leave it, I hope that your own mistakes are behind you. I say this, for I know Sookie continues to care for you.
And because I care for your welfare.
I am now ready to meet the sun, though I fear that I may lose my courage; thus, I have glamoured a human to chain me in silver.
I await my fate,
“We—uh—think he put gasoline around the house. And we found what was left of some silver chains where the porch used to be,” Andy informed. “And—uh—when we went to check out Sookie’s place, it did look like she’d run off. Uh—a lot of her stuff’s gone, but there’s no sign of trouble. I called her brother too, and—when I sent someone to his place—we found all his shit’s gone as well. There was a note on the old refrigerator addressed to Hoyt Fortenberry. It said that the whole family was moving on and would be in touch once they settled down. Given the fact that there’s no sign of foul play, we don’t have the authority to investigate any further. People move all the time, and they ain’t obligated to tell law enforcement.”
Amelia was wiping away more tears.
“Sorry your—uh—friend’s dead. He was okay for a vamp,” Andy added, somewhat reluctantly.
Amelia nodded, but that was not why she was crying. Pam’s note had given her two clear messages. First of all, Sookie was with Eric now, and that thought stabbed her heart. Secondly, it was clear that Pam knew of Amelia’s involvement with Bill, and she was issuing a warning. Get out now or face the consequences.
Amelia stood up a little straighter. “Thanks Andy. Can I keep this note? As a keepsake?” she asked.
Andy hesitated, but then gave it to her. “Sure. I don’t think there’s really anything to investigate here.”
Amelia smiled and dug a business card out of her purse. “Here’s my number in case you need me for anything.”
Andy nodded his thanks and then went to speak to a fireman.
Amelia turned and left quickly. A few miles down the road, she pulled over, wiped away her tears, and called Felipe de Castro.
“What?” Pam asked as she took what must have been her hundredth picture of Matthew. “I had to erase the ones I had before.”
“Yes—and I re-sent them to you,” Karin reminded.
“But you are a horrible photographer,” Pam accused. “Isn’t she Matty?” she added with a coo.
For their part, Eric and Sookie were looking at the doting aunts with something akin to shock. Having taken Eric’s blood and giving him a bit of hers the night before, Sookie smiled as she thought about how their blood tie had been remade, though it would need two more exchanges to be permanent.
However, Eric could already “feel” her, and she could tell that he was more relaxed and content because of that.
And this time, Sookie would be damned before breaking what they had!
“What is it, min kära?” Eric whispered.
“It might take me a while to learn, but I’m glad that I can,” she smiled, looking up at him and then sighing as he gently kissed her lips.
“Do grown-ups always kiss so much?” Samantha asked Karin, upon whose lap she seemed to have taken up permanent residence.
“I think it is just them,” Karin responded evenly. “You and I will endure it together.”
Samantha nodded in agreement and cuddled her body further against her “favorite” aunt.
After she’d taken Eric’s blood and had been mostly healed—though Dr. Ludwig said that she’d need a few more days (or more blood after a two-night’s wait, so that she wouldn’t be “over-cooked”) to finish the healing process—Sookie had moved from the bed to the living room so that she and Matty could accommodate all of their visitors.
Understandably, the affable Matthew was the main star of the “show,” and he was happy as a clam as long as he could tell that Eric was nearby.
Karin and Russell had been the first to dote upon Matty the night before, though Karin had wisely focused most of her attention onto Sammy in order to make sure that the little girl didn’t get jealous.
About two hours after sunset, Jason and Michele had come by with their children. Sookie had been grateful for the visit and the chance to say goodbye. Eric had even repeated the invitation for them to come live in Sweden, but they’d decided to go ahead with their plans to settle anew in Indiana—though they did promise to visit.
King Bartlett, too, had doted on Matthew—before he’d left with Jason’s family about five hours before dawn. They had flown on a special Anubis charter to Indiana, and Jason had already called earlier that evening to rave about the house that Bartlett had arranged for them to have.
After those bound for Indiana had left the night before, Sammy had gone to bed—after a story from Aunt Karin. And Sookie and Matty had slept wrapped up in Eric’s arms. Except for feedings which Matty “told” Sookie he “required” via a little telepathic jab, they’d stayed asleep for most of the day.
Still—when Eric had arisen for the night a few hours earlier, both she and Matty had been anxious for him, and Matty had spent Eric’s first few hours awake enjoying being held by his daddy—until he got hungry again and decided mommy was okay too.
When Sammy was out of the room, Eric had let Sookie know that Pam and Thalia had tied up loose ends in Louisiana before dawn the previous morning and that Russell had collected them in his jet.
The two vampiresses had arrived—with Russell—about ninety minutes after sundown.
Sookie smiled and settled further into Eric’s arms. Ludwig had cleared Matty and her to fly, though she’d left them with some drops to put into Matty’s ears so that he’d be more comfortable during the flight. They were due to leave for Sweden the next night after she and Eric made a second exchange. Sookie couldn’t wait to be in her new home with the man that she loved and her—their—children.
She was ready—at long last—to begin life anew.
All vampire in that moment, Eric smiled as he looked at the video footage of Luther burning. His grin became even wickeder as the video showed Compton’s house go up in flames.
Still, Eric was troubled, and his instincts told him to get his family to Sweden as soon as possible. Luckily, arrangements were already made, and they would travel the next night—with Russell acting as their escort.
It was nice to have a three-thousand-year-old friend and bodyguard. Eric and Sookie had decided that—since Desmond was lost—Russell was the logical choice for Matthew’s godfather; the ancient vampire had been honored and was already taking his duties very seriously.
Eric sighed. Pamela and Thalia had informed him of Bill’s cache of videos starring Sookie—including the intimate ones—and he’d wished in that moment that Bill was still alive so that he could take him apart a piece at a time. However—even if Sookie had known about the videos—he knew that she wouldn’t have craved Bill’s torture.
Eric had already decided that he would tell Sookie the truth about what Pam and Thalia had found when his family was in the air on the way to Sweden and—if the gods allowed—to enduring safety. And—as disturbing as the news about Bill would be for her—he knew that Sookie would be more hurt to know that her one-time friend and roommate, Amelia, was her enemy.
Eric watched the video of Luther burning one more time before he erased it and watched more pleasant footage—that of Sookie feeding their son as Sammy asked her mother questions about her own childhood.
“I will protect them,” he vowed as he looked at his family.
He was no fool. He knew that Felipe would not give up in his pursuit of Sookie and Matthew. The king saw them as his telepaths—”things” that he had the right to own. Moreover, the king’s bitterness against Eric for escaping his clutches would have no bounds.
Felipe had many resources at his disposal and many minions in his “army.” And now—unless Amelia Broadway heeded Pam’s warnings—he would have a witch with a fucked-up fixation with Sookie as an ally.
But none of that mattered. Eric would prevail over his enemies—just as he always had.
He had to.
Pam and Thalia entered the garage, where Eric had been watching the footage. They were both snickering as they, too, enjoyed the video of Luther’s death on Pam’s phone.
“Remind me never to piss you two off,” he winked at them.
“Wise decision,” Pam intoned.
“Wise indeed, Viking,” Thalia agreed.
Eric chuckled and then went to join Sookie and Matthew; they were waiting for him.
A/N: I hope you liked this “episode.” Let me know by leaving a comment!
Part 6 of the Gift Horse Series, “Romjul,” is ready. Click its title to access it.