The INNER-Ludes is a collection of Interludes/Outtakes/Side Stories to From the Inside Out—all told from NON-Eric POVs. All of these further the narrative of the Inner-Verse, however, so I hope that you won’t skip them. “Where/When” they belong in the overall universe will be included in a headnote for each.
[A/N: The Inner-verse (with the exception of the epilogues, which I let Sookie have) was always intended to be told from Eric’s first-person POV only. However, I found that I wanted—and needed—to include a few scenes where he wouldn’t be present. I was going to include these scenes in the main story, but I didn’t want to mess with Eric’s POV over there. Right now, I’m planning to do three, but that number might change a bit as I go along. They will still be in told in first-person—just from the POV of the person in the title rather than Eric.]
Disclaimer: I own no characters or plotlines related to True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. I write for my own pleasure (and yours) only and make no profit from my work.
Many thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia–for your continued help and support!
As my maker had instructed, Tara and I left the Authority’s headquarters—which, unfortunately, also meant abandoning my “play-time” with Steve Newlin, who was due to be taken into custody by the General du jour—in order to scope out Governor Truman Burrell’s personal version of a hell for vampires.
Newlin was, however, already primed to be a nice little boy and to confess to everything that the human authorities would accuse him of. Between me and Eric’s delectable friend Ian, Newlin had gotten a taste of what his imprisonment by vampires would entail if he didn’t cooperate. I’m pretty sure that liquid silver being rubbed onto his skin like lotion had been his deciding factor.
As long as Newlin played along, the humans would keep him in a cell—safe and sound from the big bad wolves, his fellow vampires. They’d give him a bed with a lumpy mattress, instead of a silver-lined coffin, upon which to rest. They’d give him access to books to read, instead of ripping out his eyes each night. They’d offer him TrueBlood, rather than rat rations. They’d hide him away in a basement cell that light wouldn’t touch, instead of zapping him with ultraviolet radiation just so that they could joke that “smoking was bad for him.”
Hell—they’d probably even let him try to “redeem” himself by allowing Bill O’Reilly or some other “newsman” to interview him. I could imagine his “apology” book now; it would likely be called, How Russell Edgington Glamoured Me.
Yeah—with his cock!
Speaking of glamour, Newlin had been told that his warden and guards would be glamoured to give him right back to us if he implicated any vampires other than Russell, Salome, and himself in any crimes. I licked my lips, part of me hoping that the bastardly buffoon would try to worm his way out of his troubles by telling the humans the truth about what had occurred at the Authority.
As if they would believe him!
I parked the vehicle Nora had so graciously “lent” us. Talk about a fucking bitch! Yes—I’d been a bit upset that Eric had never told me that he had a vampire sibling, but I understood once I knew she’d been an Authority member. Thus, I’d “tried” to be nice to Nora—at least my version of nice. And, then, I’d tried to be cordial. I was now down to just “being,” but if the cunt said one more thing against my maker’s mate in my presence, my fabulous Prada boot would spend time “being” in her ass!
Admittedly, I could be a brat. And Eric did spoil me at times. But I “usually” knew when I was in danger of moving into “twat-territory.” Nora seemed to reside there!
Moreover, the bitch treated me as if I were a wilted branch on Godric’s family tree! And she failed to acknowledge the fact that it was my progeny and myself who had captured Newlin to begin with—not that that was much of a challenge. But I’d also had the prissy ex-preacher cooperating like my little bitch, even before she entered the scene.
AND the cunt had insulted my child.
AND she’d insinuated that I ought not to have been “brought over” because I’d “only been a Madam and whore” during my human life.
Not that I took either of those labels as an insult. I’d been a fucking good Madam and an even better whore when I’d wanted to be. No man had owned me! All I had needed was to find my own Fountain of Youth before I was no longer able to control my life. And I did—my maker!
Yes. I’d forced Eric’s hand by cutting my wrists, but I’d been prepared to die that night—rather than continue playing Russian roulette with venereal diseases and the cruelty of time. I’d known what Eric was, and I had chosen to be his child. But he had chosen me, too; he didn’t have to. He could have simply let me die. Moreover, I’d spent most of my time since then proving just how valuable I could be to him! And I didn’t intend to stop that just because he’d released me!
Therefore, Nora had no right to turn up her nose at me! NONE!
I might have betrayed Eric—a SMIDGEON—when I tried to shoot Sookie Stackhouse with a rocket launcher. But I’d been trying to save his ass at the time. And she hadn’t been his bonded at the time; even I knew how sacred that was! Plus, I was pretty sure that Sookie would now agree that I’d made the right call, given the fact that she was currently knocked up with my maker’s babies.
My little brothers!
Tara broke me from my thoughts.
“We just gonna sit here for the rest of the night—twiddling our fuckin’ thumbs?” she asked. “We only have a few hours before dawn.”
I looked at my child. She’d managed to grow on me. Despite Eric telling me that I should make a child of my own, I’d not planned to do so for a while. And I’d certainly not intended to make one at the behest of Sookie Stackhouse. But—as soon as I’d felt Tara rise—I’d liked the feeling of our blood-bond. It was similar to the one I’d shared—until very recently—with my own maker. But it was also somehow “richer.”
However, like a teenaged mother not quite ready for a baby, I’d—at first—tried to deny that I wanted to “keep my baby,” rather than abandon her. But I’d come around.
“No,” I smirked. “I’m going to teach you how to do recon properly—just as my maker once taught me!”
“Sounds like fun,” she grinned as her fangs came down.
Sexy as hell.
I pulled her toward me for a quick, passionate kiss and then got out of the car; after she’d “recovered” for a moment, she got out of the passenger side with a huff.
“Now—I just want to fuck!” she said sullenly.
I chuckled. “Ah—and we will. After.”
Tara huffed out another protest, but quickly mimicked my actions as I stealthily approached the large warehouse complex. Like busy little bees, workers buzzed in and out of the buildings. Luckily, the group putting up the thirty-foot high security fences, which I could tell had silver in them, weren’t done with their project, so it was easy for Tara and me to slip in.
My leaping capabilities would have been “challenged” by such a tall fence. I rolled my eyes, thinking about my maker’s ability to fly. The best I could do was hover, though I ran fast for my age.
And—yes—I was jealous of Eric’s ability!
Soon enough, I found an isolated worker, glamoured him, and interrogated him.
Then I’d instructed Tara to complete the process with another worker.
She performed magnificently. Like maker, like child.
Twenty minutes after we’d gotten to the complex, we slipped back out and returned to the vehicle. As I drove back to the Authority headquarters—which I figured would be a safe place to rest for the day since the humans were no longer likely to blow it up with their bunker busters—I called my maker.
“Report,” Eric said in a whisper.
“Sookie is sleeping?” I asked him.
“Yes. Your mistress is growing our sons,” he returned. Even with his voice quieted, I could hear the smile in it.
“They are all well?”
“Yes. Did you learn anything about the Vamp Camp?”
“Yes,” I informed. “Tara and I glamoured two workers. Between them, we learned that the construction of the ‘Vampire Center,’ as they’re calling it, will be completed within ten days; however the scientists’ laboratories and living quarters are almost ready. In fact, the nefarious nerd herd will be moving in to begin ‘God’s work’ two nights from now.”
“Vampire Center—how quaint,” intoned my maker.
“A regular YMCA for vampers,” I returned, affecting a Southern accent that would have made even Bill Compton’s seem subtle.
“Do you want us to return to do more reconnaissance tomorrow night?” I asked.
“No. Brady is going to take over surveillance, along with two other Weres.”
“Herveaux?” I asked with distaste.
“No. My dealings with him are done. Had he installed a back-up system and had a more competent guard than Shaggy watching the parking garage that housed Russell, much of the fuckery at the Authority could have been avoided.”
“Shaggy?” I couldn’t help but ask. “As in Scooby Doo?”
“Long story,” he sighed.
I chuckled. “I can’t wait to hear it when we have more time.”
“I’ll text you Brady’s number. Text him a briefing before dawn,” Eric instructed.
“And tomorrow night?”
“Governor Burrell has a daughter, Willa, who seems to be sympathetic to vampires. I want you to try to make contact with her and see if she will voluntarily be our spy.”
“And if she fails to volunteer?” I asked.
“Glamour her. Oh—and Pam—don’t let your presence be known to anyone other than Willa Burrell. You might see Sarah Newlin, but stifle any urges to kill you may have. She’s on an errand for me.”
“What kind of errand,” I asked, excited by the murderous tone of my maker’s voice.
“The ultimately fatal kind,” he said before hanging up.
“Vampires really don’t have any goddamned phone manners,” Tara intoned under her breath.
I chuckled. “Why would we need any?”
She smirked. “Well—at least—he sounds like he’s ready to give that sanctimonious cunt, Sarah Newlin, an ass-whipping, as opposed to just being pussy whipped himself.”
I laughed a little louder and then shook my head. “I honestly never thought I’d live to see the night when Eric settled down with just one woman—let alone a human one,” I admitted. “And I have always intended to live for-fucking-ever.”
Tara smirked. “And growing up, I figured Sookie’d stay single for the rest of her life.”
“Why’s that?” I asked. “Seems to me like she’s been ready to play happy-homemaker with Bill, Herveaux, and Eric.”
Tara shrugged. “Her telepathy is a bitch. She can’t shield if she’s touched, and no guy can prevent himself from thinking like a Neanderthal 24/7.”
“Sounds like you sympathize with her,” I commented.
“I used to,” Tara responded.
“She’s why I’m like this,” Tara said sourly.
“Like what? Beautiful? Immortal? Badass?” I intoned. “You might be bitter, but Lafayette did you a fucking favor when he begged me to turn you. And then he begged her to beg me,” I said, smirking at the memory.
I loved being begged.
“Lafayette? You mean—it wasn’t Sookie’s idea that I get turned?”
“No. She wanted me to leave them in peace with your dying carcass when I came looking for Eric. It was Lafayette who first asked me to turn you. And Sookie tried talking him out of it. I believe her words were, ‘Lafayette, Tara hates vampires,'” I chuckled.
“So she wasn’t gonna . . . ?” Tara didn’t finish her question.
“Not until Lafayette laid one hell of a guilt trip on her, reminding her—as if she needed it with part of your brain in her hands—that you’d been shot because of her. And then shaming her by saying that she was denying you a chance to live if she didn’t get me to turn you. It was all very theatrical.” I rolled my eyes. “Of course, Sookie did jump on board with the begging after that—promising me anything I wanted in exchange for your shot at an un-death. I didn’t hear Lafayette swearing to sell his soul,” I added sarcastically, “so if you do decide to get over yourself and forgive one of them, it should probably be her.”
Tara sat quietly for a while, absorbing the story I’d told her about her “humble” beginnings.
“She still did it so that she wouldn’t feel guilty,” she huffed.
I rolled my eyes as I pulled up to the guard station. “Think what you want, but you were pretty checked out at the time. Yes—Sookie felt guilt that you’d sacrificed yourself for her, but she didn’t act out of selfishness. She acted out of grief and fear.”
“Given the look in his eyes, if Sookie had let you go, Lafayette would have written her off. And—though she had supernatural suitors swirling around—I got the impression that losing you and Lafayette would have cut her friend count down by half. ‘Course—you likely interpret her fear of being alone as selfish, too. But now that you’ve told me just how hard it was for her to date the redneck humans swarming around your Podunk hometown, I can only hazard to guess that making friends was just as hazardous for her. Even if they did have your naturally sweet disposition,” I tagged on snidely.
Tara was silent as the guard called in our “visit” and then waved us through the gates.
“Since when have you started defending Sookie?” she asked with a twinge of bitterness once we’d started moving again.
“Since my maker chose her to be his bonded,” I answered.
“What does that mean? Bonded?”
“If a vampire and a human—or, in this case fairy-human—exchange blood simultaneously three times, then magic connects them until one or both of them die. They can feel each other’s emotions. Find each other in times of need. It’s like,” I paused, looking for the right words, “a marriage of the blood. And, as you are learning, blood is everything to a vampire.” I shrugged. “Plus, she’s given him a miracle by giving him two sons. I might not like her all the time, but even I have to admit that Eric is happier with Sookie Stackhouse, and I’m done with being estranged from him because I’m jealous of her.”
“Wow. I can’t believe you admitted that you were jealous,” Tara said acerbically.
Like me, she could be a brat. Unlike me, she wasn’t always “cute” when she was.
“Were bein’ the operative word,” I responded, mirroring her tone. “But I got over myself.”
“You’re saying that I should do the same?” she asked, now sounding like a petulant toddler.
I guess that’s what she was, but she needed a growth-spurt! And I was happy to help her with that.
“If you can’t, then we should say goodbye now so that you can meet the sun,” I said seriously, even as I put the car into gear.
“What?” she asked incredulously.
“Either you embrace bein’ a vampire or not. But if you do, there’s no fucking reason in the world why you shouldn’t ask your friend to forgive you for being a cunt!”
“Ask her to forgive me?” Tara asked angrily before getting out of the car and slamming the door. Hard enough to break it. In two.
Oops—there went that car. I smirked. Nora would be angry.
“That’s what I said, sweetheart,” I responded as I calmly got out of the car.
“Just why do you think I owe her anything?”
“Other than your life?”
“I didn’t want to be a vampire. Don’t forget that.”
“I remove my command that you not harm yourself,” I said sternly. “There. Now you can kill yourself at sun-up if you want.”
Tara gasped at the feeling of a maker’s command disappearing and then glared at me.
“Maybe I just will!” she sassed.
“I hope not,” I said sincerely. “I’ve come to like you—more than like you. I want you in my nights, Tara Thornton—more as my lover and companion than as my child. Though I will teach you all I know.”
She gasped again at my sincerity. But then turned away sullenly.
I was really tired of bullshit.
Suddenly, I felt ashamed—at least as much as I was capable—of the way I’d acted concerning Sookie. I’d lashed out because I didn’t realize that Eric could love me and her at the same time. But now that I was a maker, I knew I could love another without my love for Eric diminishing. Yes—Sookie, too, had made mistakes. The chiefest had been choosing the Civil War Cretan over the Viking vagina master—even if it was for the short-term. But I had over a hundred years on Sookie, and Eric had been my teacher—while Sookie had been taught about the Supernatural by Bill fucking Compton! I should have known better than to question my maker about her!
She’d found a spy in Fangtasia.
She’d next found a thief.
She’d survived a serial killer who had killed the person closest to her.
She’d survived a Maenad attack. (A Maenad who’d been responsible for an “attack” on a marvelous pair of pumps too! The bitch!)
She’d successfully negotiated for Lafayette’s life and freedom.
She’d helped get Godric out of the Fellowship of the Sun church.
She’d sucked silver from my maker’s chest.
She’d stayed with Godric when he’d met the sun—thereby offering comfort to my maker.
She’d marched into Fangtasia to challenge my maker after the Antebellum asshole had been kidnapped.
She’d taken on Weres.
She’d killed a vampiress.
She’d taken in Eric when he’d had no memories—kept him safe.
She’d helped him find Russell.
She’d helped him to rescue me from the confounded Authority when it had been infested by Lilithism.
She’d helped him to kill Bill when he’d become fully actualized as “Billith.”
And these paled to the gifts she was now carrying for him.
And—I realized—this was just the list I knew about. There was likely more to the story of Eric and Sookie that I’d never bothered to read.
FUCK! I really could be a brat at times!
Tara and I had been through two security checkpoints as I’d been thinking—and deriding myself.
She’d remained silent.
“Ladies!” Ian said enthusiastically as he greeted us after the second checkpoint.
“Your doing?” I asked, gesturing toward the guard who’d just been handsy with me.
Not that I hadn’t enjoyed it.
Ian winked at me. And, for about a second, I contemplated giving men another chance. “One cannot be too careful these days—though I just had them do you as practice. They’re warming up for when we get to California,” he added, his Irish brogue thick.
“They need more practice,” I intoned. “I didn’t even get off.”
“Perhaps, I could demonstrate on you two? To inspire their training, of course,” he grinned at Tara and me.
“Too much baggage,” I responded, noting that Tara barely acknowledged the rake. Eric had told me that I could trust Ian. So I did.
“Baggage?” he asked, a twinkle in his eye.
“Yeah,” I responded, reaching out and curling my fingers over his crotch.
What he had there was nothing to be ashamed of—though it still wasn’t quite tempting enough for me.
Almost, but not quite.
He moaned in pleasure.
As I said—I’d been an excellent whore.
“You have too much going on for me—right around here,” I said cheekily, even as I drew my hand away.
He groaned in protest. “Well—on behalf of all of those with a penis, may I say that that is a great shame,” he smirked.
His cock “leading,” he walked toward the elevator, and I followed him—with Tara following me as if she were a mute automaton. Maybe I’d broken her with sincerity.
I’d always known that it wasn’t my strongpoint.
Jessica was at the reception desk and greeted Tara and me like long-lost relatives—before eyeing Ian like he was a steak.
And then she eyed his “beef-steak.”
I smirked. So that’s how things were. Still, Tara was silent until after Jessica had settled us into a room and rustled us up some clothing so that our own could be cleaned.
“Why should I apologize to her?” she asked in a meek voice that told me that she actually did want for me to tell her the truth as I saw it.
I pulled her into my arms—comforting her and feeling strangely comforted myself.
“Because—you’ve failed to acknowledge that she’s been your best friend for years. Even when she had to endure the stray thoughts that I’m sure you couldn’t help and didn’t really mean. Because she agreed to do whatever I wanted in exchange for giving you a chance to live on. Because she knew that you might hate her—because, unlike your own cousin, she acknowledged that you’d hated vampires before. Because—ever since you’ve been turned—you have been robbing her of a friend whom she wouldn’t be able to ‘hear.’ Probably the first real friend she’s ever had like that. You should apologize because you refused to put your own feelings to the side and think about your friend. You should apologize because you have been at least as selfish as you’ve accused her of being.”
Sometime during my speech, Tara’s bloody tears had started falling onto my jacket. Good thing it’d be going to the laundry soon.
“When did you become the relationship guru?”
“I’m not,” I responded. “Dear Abbey is.”
THE NEXT NIGHT
“Now I’m gonna teach you an ol’ trick my maker once taught me,” I drawled.
“Just how in the hell do you talk like a Southerner from the back woods?” Tara asked. “Aren’t you—like—from California?”
It was a fair question.
“Before vampires ‘came out,’ we had to fit in,” I explained as I parked the newly borrowed car that Nora had begrudgingly given to us—understandable considering the fact that the one we’d used the night before had a dangling door because of Tara’s temper tantrum.
It’s not like I planned to give her this car back either. Located about halfway between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the Vamp Camp was only a thirty minute drive from Authority headquarters, while the Governor’s Mansion, which was in Baton Rouge, was more than an hour away.
Thus, I didn’t intend to be returning to New Orleans if I could help it. I was tired of having to interact with Nora; plus, the Authority was “picking up stakes” soon. No—if Eric wanted for Tara and me to stay in Baton Rouge, we had a safe house there that I intended to use.
“So you developed a Southern accent to blend in? Why doesn’t Eric have one?”
“I’ve always been better at blending,” I smirked. “Plus, Eric sounds like a drunken Texan when he tries to speak Southern.”
Tara chuckled as we got out of the vehicle.
“So—uh—how are we gonna go about making contact with this Willa chick?” She asked.
“Like I said—it’s time for you to learn a lesson about surveillance. We’ll begin with a wide circle of Burrell’s estate in order to identify the guards and security systems. Then—once I’ve determined the best way to approach, you’ll hang back a bit.”
“Why?” she asked, sounding almost affronted.
“You’ll be positioned where you can observe. And if you get even a hint that there’s trouble, you’ll call me.”
“But you said to turn off my phone,” the infant challenged.
I rolled my eyes. “Through our bond.” I shook my head. “I sometimes forget just how ‘new’ you are.”
“Oh,” Tara said with realization and then shook her own head at her ‘rookie’ mistake. Still, she’d never actually “called” me before, so I threw her a bone.
“It takes a while to get out of the human mindset. And don’t worry about ‘how’ to call me. If you sense danger, just feel that emotion and then think of me in relation to the danger. I’ll get the message.”
I smiled to myself as I thought about the first time Eric had taught me this strategy when we’d been hunting for information and food in a heavily-guarded area. I’d quickly realized that it was a good strategy, and it had saved our asses multiple times.
It didn’t take Tara and me long to circle the Governor’s Mansion. The structure itself was predictable for such a place. There were gaudy fucking columns all over the fucking place! I believe the architectural style had been termed Greek Revival, but it was too bad they didn’t leave it dead.
There was a fence surrounding the mansion, and two guards with dogs walking the perimeter, but they would be easy enough to elude. I’d also seen some surveillance cameras, but there were some gaps in their coverage. There were seven more guards near the front gate, where there was also a guardhouse.
Unexpectedly, near the front gate was a group of about fifty protesters, and more seemed to be arriving every minute. Apparently, the Governor had issued an Executive Order an hour before—one that banned vampires from being in public places at night until TrueBlood production could be reestablished.
A few of the protesters were your typical “fang-haters.” But most seemed against Burrell’s Executive Order. The protesters added a variable to the situation, but they would also insure that most of the guards were focused upon them.
“What’s the plan?” Tara asked, just as I saw a young woman exiting the building through a side entry. As the woman crept through the shadows, I turned to Tara. “Wait here, and ‘call’ if there’s a problem; I think that just might be Miss Burrell sneaking out to join the protesters.”
Quickly Tara climbed a tree so that she’d have a better vantage point. Indeed, she was a promising child.
I kept track of the girl and the guards, also taking into account the position of the cameras. I waited for the perfect moment and then quickly leaped over the eight-foot-tall fence and zipped to the woman. I put my hand over her mouth and lifted her into my arms before running back to the fence. Probably in shock at moving so quickly, the girl didn’t protest until I had her over the fence and halfway to the car—with Tara following after.
“What? What are you doing?” Willa whimpered even as she started to wiggle. “Put me down.”
“In a minute, sweetheart,” I intoned. “I’m not plannin’ to hurt you,” I added hoping that she’d stop struggling. I liked my jacket and didn’t want to chance its being ripped.
Thankfully, she did stop wiggling, so it took me no time at all to get her back to the secure location where I’d left the vehicle. Then, I set her onto her feet and took my first good look at Willa Burrell.
She was lovely. Beautiful hair that reminded me of the color of the hot chocolate I’d loved as a child. Beautiful skin that was so flawless and pale that she might have been a vampire. Eyes with what seemed like a hundred shades of brown.
And—in that moment—I felt something that I’d never felt before; still, instinctively, I knew what it was.
It was a ‘pull’—a pull to make Willa Burrell my child.
A/N: So, I hope you like this first INNER-Lude. On the weeks I post them, I won’t have a new chapter of From the Inside Out, I’m afraid (I don’t have enough chapters written ahead for that), but I do hope that you enjoy the pieces to the overall story-arc that these INNER-Ludes offer. Chapter 13 of From the Inside Out will be posted next week.