Story Description: (Sequel to The Trunk) With the Jackson trip having ended very differently than it could have, Sookie has a new lease on life—a life that includes both Eric and a new profession. Will the Viking and the part-fairy be left in peace? With Bill, Debbie Pelt, and a new witch coven in the picture, it’s doubtful. And what side will Sophie-Anne be on—when Bill informs her that Eric has interfered with his assignment to secure the telepath?
Inspirations: The Trunk was inspired by valady1 & ncmiss12; thus, I owe them many thanks for the existence of this sequel as well.
Many Thanks: To my amazing beta, kleannhouse and my story artist, Sephrenia—what would I do without them?
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No profit has been made from this work. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. The events in this story have been inspired by True Blood and the Southern Vampire Mysteries book series.
Chapter 01: Clean up Your Own Backyard
“Report,” Eric said by way of a greeting as he entered the dungeon at Fangtasia. He was anxious to deal with the four Weres who’d been staking out Sookie’s home that night—anxious to deal out their deaths if they refused to cooperate.
Pam leaned into the hand already perched onto her hip. “Hello to you too, Master,” she intoned.
Eric rolled his eyes.
“I bet you show more manners with certain humans,” Pam remarked drolly.
“And what would you know of manners?” Eric volleyed back.
“Our current guests aren’t complaining about my manners or my hospitality,” the vampiress returned, gesturing toward the Weres chained to the wall.
“That is because they are wearing those damnable pink ball gags that you insisted upon having made,” Eric noted as he strolled toward the prisoners.
“They are wonderful—aren’t they! Anyway, the dogs didn’t deserve any hospitality. They didn’t even make me try to get their secrets,” Pam pouted.
Eric casually kicked at the legs of one of the dangling Weres in order to wake him up—since Pam’s earlier “hospitality” had left him close to unconsciousness.
“And what is their story?” Eric asked, though he was pretty sure he already knew.
“They loosely belong to the Jackson, Mississippi pack—just like the Were that Bubba took out before your little pleasure trip there,” Pam informed.
“Loosely?” Eric asked.
Instead of answering, Pam sang:
My folks were always putting him down
They said he came from the wrong side of town
They told me he was bad but I knew he was sad
That’s why I fell for the leader of the pack
“Pam,” Eric voiced her name impatiently, “I do not have all night for your nonsense.”
Of course, Pam just kept right on singing, somehow finding both the perfect pitch and a sarcastic tone:
One day my dad said find someone new
I had to tell my Jimmy we’re through
He stood there and asked me why, but all I could do was cry
I’m sorry I hurt you, the leader of the pack
Eric let out an exasperated sound as Pam sarcastically intoned “V-room, v-room” at the end of her performance.
The vampiress looked at her victims. “Actually, you know, I’m not sorry I hurt you. V-room-fuckin’-v-room.”
“Pam!” Eric yelled at his progeny. As entertaining as she could be, he was also ready to get some answers—for the sake of the woman whose lips had managed to make his own tingle with life not an hour before.
They were still tingling.
“Fine!” Pam relented. “These puppies fashion themselves to belong to a Were version of the Hell’s Angels. They run with the Jackson pack when they are there.”
“How precious,” Eric smirked, taking in the four men’s matching leather jackets and chaps. Three of them had beards, and all had greasy-looking hair held in place by red bandana headbands. They looked like a caricature of a bike gang, rather than an authentic one.
“Who sent them?” Eric asked curiously, even as he eyed the strongest and oldest among the group, a Were of about forty-five years old.
“These Wolfy Angels said that they ventured to Area 5 on their own—not that I really believe them,” Pam said, her tone reflecting boredom. “Apparently, one of their comrades disappeared when he came to Bon Temps to abduct Miss Stackhouse. Then another one of their fury friends disappeared when he went after her and Herveaux in Jackson. You know—Sookie is too unusual of a name for her to use when she’s undercover. Even the mongrel wolves were able to guess that Sookie One was the same as Sookie Two. Might wanna rethink that next time,” she critiqued drolly. “Or not. Anyway, these in-bred bikers came looking to ‘revenge their brothers,'” she indicated with air quotes. “Blah, blah, yadda, yadda. V-room, v-room.”
Eric chuckled at Pam’s antics as he ripped the gag from the mouth of the strongest Were—who was obviously the leader among the small group. “Why did the first Were come to Bon Temps? Who sent him?”
The wolf let out a growl.
“Really?” Eric grinned, his fangs sliding into place. “You really think it’s wise not to cooperate fully?”
“Fuck you, fanger,” the Were spit out. “I’ve already told that fuckin’ bitch all I aim to tell!”
“You kiss your king’s ass with that mouth?” Eric intoned.
“I certainly don’t intend to kiss yours,” the Were returned.
“He was cooperating with me,” Pam said sarcastically. “But now that you’re here, I guess a dick measuring contest has to happen.”
“Oh, come now, Pamela,” Eric grinned. “I’m certain you could come in at least second in the penis-size contest—if you wanted to join in. You might have to cut off their dicks first, however.”
“Who says I wasn’t already plannin’ on doin’ that already?” Pam grinned.
The Were cringed and squirmed against his binds. In fact, all of the dangling Weres did.
“Last chance for you to cooperate before I question that one,” Eric told the group’s leader even as he pointed toward the only Were without a beard. The younger man smelled very much like the older one. Likely, he was the Were’s son, younger brother, or nephew.
The leader growled, but then nodded to indicate that he’d rethought the level of his cooperation.
“The first Were entering my territory? Why was he here?” Eric prodded.
“Lorena—that crazy vamp bitch,” the Were answered.
“And what about her?” Pam asked in an uninterested tone.
“She promised vamp blood to Harrison if he could find out what her child was working on for the Queen of Louisiana.”
“Did the Mississippi king know that your comrade had been sent to my territory?” Eric asked.
“You are sure?” Eric asked.
“Yeah,” the Were responded confidently. “Lorena’s a fucking leech on King Edgington, but he doesn’t involve himself in her business—not unless it affects his.”
“How did Lorena come to be in Mississippi?” Eric asked.
“She called in a favor with King Edgington—something involving her maker and the king. She was granted residence in Mississippi for the next five fuckin’ years. ‘Course—King Russell don’t know that that bitch’ll do anything to pad her own bank accounts. She’s got deals goin’ on throughout the South—most of ’em related to vamp blood.”
“And your group’s involvement?” Eric asked.
“We run the shipments for her—in exchange for a cut of the profits or—uh—a portion of the product.”
“Awe!” Pam exclaimed. “Weres hooked on V! How sweet.”
And then—in pure Pam fashion—she continued her song:
He sort of smiled and kissed me goodbye
The tears were beginning to show
As he drove away on that rainy night
I begged him to go slow
But whether he heard, I’ll never know
Look out! Look out! Look out! Look out!
She finished dramatically.
“We don’t all do V!” the elder defended, even as he glanced at the youngest of the Weres and tried to ignore Pam. “But we do all take care of our own and we meet our obligations! When Harrison disappeared, we came lookin’ for him. And we came to finish the job for Lorena.”
“You really ought not bother,” Eric said casually. He’d heard—during his seemingly endless pacing in Russell’s mansion as he’d waited for the sun to go down earlier—that Lorena’s remains had been found in Russell’s pool. And, of course, Sookie had smelled of her too. What exactly had happened to Bill’s bat-shit-crazy maker was a topic he’d yet to broach with the telepath—mostly due to the fact that the ancient vampire somehow knew how upset any kind of killing would have made Sookie. And it wasn’t the night to dwell on that—not after what Sookie had been through.
“She’s dead?” the Were asked curiously.
Eric nodded his confirmation. “Sorry to say that your V-connection’s all dried up.”
The older Were glanced again at the younger one that Eric had threatened earlier. “Actually, I can’t say I’m torn up ’bout that part. Best that our people not get too wrapped up in it. There are other ways to make money.”
“If you live to try them,” Pam smirked.
“You’d have killed us already if you were gonna,” the Were stated, trying to sound sure of himself. He didn’t quite achieve his goal—much to the vampiress’s delight.
“Your fate is still not decided upon,” Eric said in a warning-laden tone. “Tell me—what did your pack-mate—Harrison, was it?—report back before he disappeared. And why—specifically—were you in Bon Temps tonight?”
The Were paused for a moment, and it seemed as if his stubborn silence might return for a moment. However, it did not.
“Harrison didn’t find jack shit at Compton’s place—besides a well-worn and well-scented path leadin’ straight to a sweet-smellin’ lass. I overheard her name when he was tellin’ it to Lorena: Sookie Stackhouse. Unusual name,” he leered.
The vampire contemplated taking the Were’s teeth for that look, and then he chastised himself for not cautioning Sookie to use a different name in Jackson—as Pam had pointed out. He’d assumed Sookie would think of doing so on her own, but he should have taken into account her relative inexperience with the Supernatural world. Herveaux, at least, ought to have introduced her by an assumed name at Josephine’s, but—again—Eric hadn’t thought to make that order explicit. Clearly, that had been a mistake.
“Lorena told Harrison to grab the girl as leverage over her beloved Billy boy,” the dangling Were informed, rolling his beady eyes. “But several days go by and no word from Harrison. ‘Course him goin’ on a bender ain’t unusual, so we didn’t none worry much. Now—fast forward to last Friday night, and me and some guys was at Josephine’s when an interestin’ thing shows up with Herveaux. Pretty gal. Smelled sweet. Name of Sookie. Was gonna grab her then and there—question her—but King Russell stepped in.” He scoffed. “That vamp’s got no problem employin’ us for his own dirty work, but treats us like scum afterwards.”
“And here you’d think Russell would love that biker look you’re sporting,” Pam said drolly. “You’ve got bear written all over you.”
The Were growled. “I ain’t got nothin’ to do with what the king does with all his boy toys.”
“No v-room, v-room?” Pam pouted.
“Quite right,” Eric intoned. “Russell doesn’t go for bears, Pamela. He prefers cubs,” he added, gesturing toward the younger Were.
The elder growled louder. “All I know is that little Miss Sookie Stackhouse has questions to answer! I came to Bon Temps myself on Saturday morning! And guess whose shallow grave I found in the woods behind a bar that she just so happens to work at?”
“Harrison’s!” Pam said with the excitement of a child answering a riddle. Of course, her reaction was feigned.
“That’s right,” the Were snarled. “And then Jerry went missin’!”
“Ah—the same Jerry that went to Herveaux’s apartment to try to abduct Miss Stackhouse,” Eric said with a scowl of his own.
“As I said, that bitch needed to be questioned even before I found Harrison!” the Were yelled his explanation.
The vampire shook his head and pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Call my woman that again, and I won’t let Russell see to your punishment because there will be nothing left of you to punish,” he warned menacingly.
One of Pam’s eyebrows rose so high it almost met her hairline.
“Yours?” she asked.
“Ja. Tillräckligt att hävda henne [Yes. Enough to claim her],” he responded in Swedish.
“Vet hon det [Does she know that]?” Pam returned with a smirk.
“Yes,” Eric answered simply right before the phone was picked up. He used vampire speed to exit the basement to avoid both the Were’s ability to overhear his conversation and Pam’s half-amused and half-skeptical look, but not quite in time to avoid her recommencing of “The Leader of the Pack.”
“Your majesty,” Eric greeted.
“Ah, Eric!” Russell Edgington purred. “Or are you still pretending to be the delectable Leif.”
Eric rolled his eyes. As he did with his friendship with Colonel Flood, Eric generally kept his associations with powerful vampires—especially those he “liked” or trusted—to himself. Russell Edgington was one of those. Stan Davis was another. Taking on the persona of “Leif” helped him to do that from time to time.
Contrary to what the unwise perceived, during his thousand-year life, Eric—because he operated according to a code of honor that most older vampires could appreciate—had accumulated many “friends” and favors. Moreover, he had rarely put himself into an uncomfortable enough position to collect on most of those favors.
Thus, he was owed by many—including King Russell Edgington.
Particularly, Eric had once traveled with and protected, Embry, one of Russell’s children’s children. Russell’s child had been staked, and Embry had been less than a decade old at the time. In fact, Eric’s first journey to the United States had been to deliver the youngling to his grandsire.
The Viking took a split second to internally critique the way that most creatures—even those of his own kind—tended to flaunt their associations in order to look better to others. Appius was like this. Queen Sophie-Anne was also in the practice of parading around her friends or “name-dropping” in order to solidify her own power.
However, Eric had retained his human father’s sense of caution when it came to exposing one’s allies. In the Viking’s experience, such exposure often led to dissent between the “friends,” for—almost invariably—the more powerful of the two felt that the other was aiming to use him or her. It wasn’t as if Eric denied his connections either; he’d simply learned that it was prudent to keep them close to his vest. For example, though Sophie-Anne was pretty confident in her own rule and in Eric’s loyalty, Andre might believe that Eric’s having powerful allies in close proximity to Louisiana would make the Sheriff a threat (mostly because Andre wouldn’t be above stabbing his monarch in the back—and would have likely tried to do so if Sophie-Anne wasn’t his maker). Just as annoying as Andre being overly (and wrongly) suspicious was the prospect that Sophie-Anne might want the “use” of Eric’s allies. Indeed, she would have no compunction about calling her Sheriff and asking him to use his friendships for her benefit.
And Eric was too fucking stingy with his hard-earned connections to spend them on Sophie-Anne’s whims. Thus, he’d never been one to name drop.
“I am back to Eric, your majesty,” the Viking responded to Russell’s query.
“And what kind of shenanigans are you involved in this time, Viking—that you needed to use your alter ego in my kingdom?” the monarch asked with intrigue. “You told me only that you’d be in Mississippi for a few nights and wanted to avoid the scrutiny of your queen. But—clearly—your visit had something to do with the lovely-smelling woman you looked after like I might look after Talbot,” he added in a slightly more serious tone. “Tell me—is the infamous Viking off the market—before I finally get you into my bed? Say it isn’t so,” he added dramatically.
Eric chuckled, but chose his words carefully. Friends or not—Russell was an opportunist.
“I did know Miss Stackhouse before the incident at Josephine’s, and my presence in your state did involve her. But you need not worry; we are both back in Louisiana now—safe and sound.”
“As evasive as ever, Eric,” Russell laughed. “Tell me—is Bill Compton’s disappearance and Lorena’s demise related to you and your charming friend’s,” he paused, “little visit?”
“Bill is a subject of Louisiana—one the queen tasked me with returning to his work here,” Eric relayed casually.
“Then why keep your visit a secret from Sophie-Anne?” the king asked.
“For almost the same reason as my secrecy from you,” Eric hedged.
Russell laughed louder. “Fine! Keep some of your secrets. But I have to know one of them.”
“And what is that?” Eric ask curiously.
“I heard you pacing around in your bedroom well before sunset earlier. Since you rose only minutes after I did, I almost called down to find out if you were older than you’d let on—or if, perhaps, rising especially early was a vampire gift of yours. But then I decided to wait. I rarely get to appreciate the feeling of anticipation anymore,” he drawled. “But I never got to ask. Imagine my surprise when I realized you’d left my estate before the sun fully set!”
“Imagine my own surprise,” Eric returned carefully—though enigmatically.
“Even with the storm, Eric, that was quite the risk.”
The Viking didn’t need to voice his agreement.
“A mystery is rare, dear boy. I love to solve one, and I am an excellent detective. Plus, my reach is great,” Russell chuckled to himself. “For example, I inquired about the name ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ after I realized you and she were gone.”
“And what did your reach tell you?” Eric asked, trying to sound unconcerned.
“I ought to hold back my information from you as you are holding back from me, but I can guess at your goal—to keep the lovely telepath who helped with Stan’s little issues safe and sound and in your care,” he pronounced with some delight. “Tell me—is she yours? She smelled of Mr. Compton too—you know. I did not smell him until her blood spilled, however. Clever of you to put her in the Were’s company so that she’d smell of wolf.”
Eric smiled to himself. Indeed, covering Sookie’s scent had been one of the reasons why Alcide had seemed to be such a good choice as Sookie’s guard in Jackson. However, his smile faded as he recalled all the ways in which Alcide had not been the right mutt for the job.
The Viking tread carefully. “Sookie is my human now. Any other inclinations she’d had in any other direction were resolved tonight.”
Russell was just as much the king of reading between the lines as he was of Mississippi. “So—that tells me that before tonight, she was not yours. Thus, I missed an opportunity last night—didn’t I?”
“You did,” Eric responded honestly.
“Your tone also indicates that Miss Stackhouse’s decision needed to happen, and I know that you do not think so ill of me as to believe I would have taken her without her consent—especially not after the way she saved my second-in-command.” He paused. “Therefore, I must ask. Is she in danger? Is she well?”
Eric was somewhat surprised for a moment by Russell’s sincere-sounding concern. “Something bad was prevented from happening to her,” he responded softly.
Russell sighed. “Is your queen an issue? I could, perhaps, speak with Sophie-Anne. Or simply expand my territory?” he added, only half-joking.
“I will keep your kind offers in mind. Meanwhile, Miss Stackhouse is considering going into business and offering her skills on a freelance basis,” Eric shared.
“I would consider it an honor to pay to see her work,” Russell responded.
“Perhaps her fee could be lessened in return for a favor?” Eric suggested.
“Oh, dear boy! I have already forgotten the whole Lorena matter,” the king chuckled. “Do not fret about it, and make sure Miss Stackhouse doesn’t either! Indeed, I am grateful to have done with Lorena. She was, at first, amusing enough to observe. But her,” he paused, “preoccupation with her substandard child was getting annoying. And Talbot had begun complaining about her cattiness toward him. I see no reason to look into the matter of her death any further. After all—it’s clear as a bell that Lorena was killed because she was not a good steward of her time! She ought to have sought shelter from the sun long before dawn. It seems she became desperate enough to try to use the pool and its cover for her day-rest without informing my Were guard. It’s a pity one of them lifted that cover before the thunderstorm rolled in,” he laughed at his own fictional account. “Of course, without Lorena here, there would have been no need to keep Mr. Compton in custody, though I was hopeful that I might learn more about his project with Sophie-Anne. In fact, the only impressive thing about that pissant is that he did not disclose much information about his project—just that it involved some kind of vampire phone directory—or some such thing. Imagine anyone being interested in a Yellow Pages for vampires!” he finished with a light chuckle.
“It is difficult to imagine the use of such a thing,” Eric agreed, even as he was extremely grateful that Russell did not know about the true nature and extent of the database—at least, not yet.
“Tell me—when can I expect that visit from your asset? I long for a little drama!” Russell paused for dramatic effect. “Oh—and Bubba was incredible!”
Eric chuckled. “Yes. He rarely sings, but when he does, it is transformative. How about Bubba, Sookie, and I all visit with you sometime after the New Year? I’m certain she’d be glad to see you again—under better circumstances. In the meantime, the favor I was going to ask for does not involve Lorena—except in the periphery.”
“You have me intrigued then—again!” Russell laughed.
“You may not find it very amusing once I tell you,” Eric cautioned.
“I’m listening,” the king said, suddenly all business.
“It seems you have some rogue Weres in your state—or, at the very least, they are near feral.”
“There is a group—a motorcycle gang of sorts—that is affiliated with the main pack in my area,” the king said contemplatively. “They are a bit rougher around the edges than even the normal Were. But their stay in Mississippi is,” he paused, “seasonal, so I tolerate them. Is that the group you speak of?”
“Yes. Lorena employed them. She sent one of them to come into my area and sniff around her child’s home,” Eric relayed.
“Yet you will forgive that encroachment because Compton was her child.”
“I would have—forgiven that,” Eric emphasized, “but the Were—at Lorena’s behest—tried to kidnap Sookie after he did not find what he was looking for in Compton’s home.” He paused. “Clearly, he intended to move her from my territory to yours.”
“Your territory. Odd that you don’t call it Sophie-Anne’s,” Russell said with a smile in his tone.
“I serve my queen,” Eric said firmly.
“But I doubt any ruler alive—or undead—could truly rule you, nor would a wise ruler want to—at least not completely,” Russell returned sagely. “Tell me—did Miss Stackhouse have your blood before the Were from Mississippi tried to abduct her?”
“Yes,” the Viking responded honestly. “Moreover, she was under my official protection, which is why your Were was killed—by the very same vampire who entertained you tonight with his singing. Bubba is very fond of Sookie. Indeed, he also discovered another Were stalking Sookie and her Were guard, Alcide Herveaux, Friday night—in your territory. Bubba killed that one too. I assume you will forgive that offense?”
Russell chuckled. “Yes, of course. And, truly, you must come visit soon! Things become so much more interesting when you are around, and I cannot help but to believe that your little telepath shares your talent for attracting,” he paused, “attention.”
“Perhaps,” Eric relented—with a little chuckle of his own before getting back to business. “The disappearances of their two packmates stirred four more of the biker beasts to come for Sookie tonight—at her home in Area 5,” he emphasized. “I have them strung up in my dungeon even now. I have told you all I learned from them—save for one thing: the type of payment the Weres were expecting from Lorena.”
“And what was that payment?” Russell asked, an edge to his tone.
“Mostly V,” Eric responded. “I believe that there is abuse within that faction, though—perhaps—mostly among the younger members; however, you may wish to investigate whether the abuse has spread into the main pack.”
The younger vampire paused to carefully choose his next words. “I know that you do not have an issue with the Weres in your state drinking the blood of vampires; however, I also know that you use the blood sparingly, as a treat to reward their loyalty. I also know that it is offered fresh—so that certain,” he paused again, “dangerous addictions do not occur. And though I might not completely agree with your philosophy on this matter, your majesty, I must own that the illegal use of V—both among humans and the two-natured—is, overall, much less of an issue in your state than it is in Louisiana. So I am not calling your policy into question.”
“I hear a ‘but’ coming,” Russell observed when Eric didn’t speak for a moment.
“No,” Eric responded. “You do not need my counsel to deal with your rogues. I am merely waiting for you to tell me what to do with the ones in my custody.”
Russell contemplated for a moment. “It seems you are doing me a favor—more so than you are asking for one from me.”
“A wash then?” Eric suggested with a smirk.
“Indeed,” Russell concurred. “So I still owe you for Embry,” he added somewhat sourly.
No vampire enjoyed owing another—especially not for the greater part of a century.
“As you say,” Eric said diplomatically.
“So,” Russell said, his tone lighter once more, “tell me—how bad are the ones you are holding? Are they even worth the effort of collecting them?”
“They are still reasonable enough,” Eric responded honestly.
“Would you bother giving them another chance?” Russell asked.
“I would flip a coin,” Eric said honestly. “And—if luck favored them—I’d watch them like a hawk for a while.”
Russell chuckled. “You do so amuse me, Viking. And you will release them into my custody?” the king asked.
“Yes—with the caveat that any Mississippi Weres with malignant intentions will be killed—without the benefit of questioning—in Area 5 from now on.”
“Especially if those intentions are directed towards Miss Stackhouse?” Russell asked with amusement in his tone.
Eric didn’t answer. He didn’t need to.
“There is a werefox named Debbie Pelt,” the Viking said instead. “She harmed Sookie today. If you value her at all as an asset, you will ensure that she refrains from stepping one toe into any part of Louisiana,” he conveyed with an edge to his tone. “In fact, she’d best not even look west for too long at a time.”
“Miss Pelt is the one who told me that my Weres were bound and determined to execute the King of Rock-n-Roll tonight,” Russell returned contemplatively. “In truth, I would have inadvertently let it happen—as I had not been planning to question the unidentified vampire. Indeed, I was happy to allow him to take the blame for anything that occurred here in the hours before dawn yesterday. To be honest, I’d planned to,” he paused, “reward Ms. Pelt.”
“Then reward her by warning her,” Eric said coldly.
“Tell me—should I simply kill her?” Russell asked. “If you ask it of me, I will see it done.”
It was Eric’s turn to contemplate. “If the werefox can behave—if she stays away from me and mine—I do not need her life,” the vampire said, remembering his ‘compromise’ with Sookie. “Her past contains periods of drug and alcohol use. It could be that her misdeeds are now fueled by V usage,” he added with a roll of his own eyes. He knew that Russell would help the werefox if she was salvageable, and here he was giving the Mississippi king the key to giving her that help! He wouldn’t have even contemplated such a generous “gift” if he’d not been thinking of Debbie’s recent victim—the overly kind-hearted telepath who had somehow wormed her way into his own dead heart.
“Feeling charitable?” Russell commented with surprise in his tone.
“Don’t ask,” the Viking mumbled.
Russell chuckled. “I’ll send Betty Joe for the Weres tomorrow night—if that is agreeable. I will make sure they understand that they are not to bother you or yours again. If they defy me, they will be made an example of. I’ve not had occasion to put a head on a pike for quite some time, after all!” the king exclaimed flippantly. “And one must make examples every now and then if one is to ensure a good pack. You said there were four?”
“Yes,” Eric confirmed.
“One head for each corner of my estate. What divine symmetry,” Russell mused almost longingly. “Perhaps, I will flip that coin—after all.”
Eric didn’t comment. Truth be known, he thought Russell was overly involved in the business of the packs in his state. Of course, anyone would have wanted his or her guards to display loyalty, but Russell was basically the de facto packmaster of the Jackson Weres. It would have been like Eric taking over Long Tooth and asking Colonel Flood to defer to him—even in Were matters! That level of micromanagement simply didn’t appeal to Eric, though he had to acknowledge that Russell’s ways had kept him alive for three times as long as Eric had walked the earth.
The old king was doing something right.
“Bring yourself—as yourself—Miss Stackhouse, and whoever else you like for a visit when you can. And consider the Were situation solved on my end. And—if that queen of yours does decide to give you any problems, keep in mind that I’d give you any Area of Mississippi to run.”
“That is very kind, your majesty. But—for the present—I am quite happy in my situation.”
“It’s an open offer,” the King of Mississippi said before hanging up.
“I’ll keep it in mind,” Eric responded—even though there was no longer anyone to hear his words.
A/N: Well, there you go: Chapter 1 of The Boot! I hope you enjoyed it. Since the books are my jumping off point, I’m portraying Russell as an honorable, “good” vampire (as opposed to how he was in the show). However, I’m “righting” something I didn’t believe in the books: that Eric’s disguise as Leif would actually work with vampires who lived so close to him! As if Russell hadn’t met the sheriffs in the bordering state. As if we are supposed to believe that they’d never crossed paths in 1000 years? Similarly, are we really supposed to believe that Eric would have enough of a relationship with Stan that he would lend out Sookie, but never have actually met him? Whatever. In this little universe, Leif is simply a disguise Eric uses to signal his friends (those in the “know”) that he wants to keep a low profile and make sure Sophie-Anne doesn’t know where he is. So–just to clarify–Eric knows Russell and Stan. He’s got good working relationships with both. As for Sophie-Anne, I’m still tinkering w/ how I will portray her in this piece. She’s usually “bad” in my pieces, but her portrayal in the books isn’t as villainous as it was on the show. So stay tuned. 🙂
I hope you’ll leave me a comment if you have the time and the inclination.
P.S. I’m keeping up my practice of using songs Elvis recorded or performed as the chapter titles. It’s been too fun to stop.