Bill stood on his porch facing the cemetery that separated him from his beloved Sookie.
He could sense that Eric’s little guard dog, Thalia, was between him and Sookie; likely the sharp-eyed (and fucking annoying!) vampiress was looking at him even then.
Needless to say, the Civil War veteran resented that fact, just as he resented the forces at work that were keeping him from Sookie’s side at that moment.
He turned and went into the house, going over to the fireplace by which he’d first taken Sookie’s body in his home. Of course, their first time—her very first time—had been in her home, not long after Adele had passed away.
He shook his head, truly sorry that the matriarch was gone. Despite the intolerance of most humans Adele’s age, she’d accepted him into her home and life. Indeed, Bill was aware that Adele had even given her granddaughter gentle nudges in the vampire’s direction. In fact, between Adele and his blood, he’d won Sookie quickly. But—after that—so much had gone wrong.
Bill had, of course, known that Rene Lenier was the killer of the women Jason Stackhouse had been accused of murdering. Though his sense of smell was not his strong suit—only slightly better than a Were—Bill had enough ability to sniff out and then track the murderer—following the slaying of Sookie’s cat. And he’d been able to muddle the scent—so that the shifter could not do the same.
Looking back, he regretted not telling the authorities who the culprit was. He’d intended to catch Rene in the act of trying to harm Sookie—so that he could be her knight in shining armor once again. (Such a strategy had worked so well with the Rattrays, after all.)
However, Rene had unexpectedly murdered Adele. So Bill’s strategy had changed. Instead of being her knight, he became her comforter and her protector. Of course, he could have dealt with the Rene issue at that point, but Bill had made another miscalculation and left the killer free—in case the “knight” angle was still needed, though Bill had attempted to ensure that Sookie was safe by tasking Merlotte with her security when he was unavailable.
The vampire scoffed; the shifter had failed to keep Sookie safe, and Rene had almost killed her. Indeed, Bill still felt that he “owed” Sam for that failure, but—for now—he had bigger fish to fry.
“Maybe I should buy Sookie a new kitten,” Bill mused aloud, knowing that such a gesture would ingratiate himself to her. Of course, there was the Bubba factor now.” The vampire sneered, blaming Eric—rather than the innocent, though dim, Bubba—for the fact that even his idea for giving Sookie a gift was being foiled.
Bill had rarely hated anybody during his existence—and certainly no one so much as Eric Northman!
Even Lorena was often loved by him, though that affection was almost against his will.
Though he was valiantly stifling the pain, Bill acutely felt the hole that had been left behind by the death of his maker. He could not be certain of what had happened because he’d been fading in and out of consciousness that horrible morning at Russell’s mansion. What he did know was that Sookie and Lorena had fought. Even though they’d done so after dawn, Bill was still amazed that Sookie had somehow come out victorious. He’d later heard—from Bubba once he’d returned to Area 5 to be one of Sookie’s guards—that his Lorena’s remains had been found in Russell’s pool. In fact, Bubba himself had, at first, been blamed for her demise.
Sadly, when Bill pushed his friend to tell him more about what he knew of Sookie’s time in Mississippi as well as her activities over the last several days, Bubba had managed to keep his mouth closed. He’d even gone so far as to tell Bill that he could no longer be his friend if he kept asking about Sookie all the time.
In fact, the closest Bill had gotten to knowing anything about the telepath’s comings and goings since she’d been back from Mississippi had been the gossip he’d gotten from the biggest town gossip of them all: Maxine Fortenberry. And even she had required a “gentle” glamouring to start her lips flowing.
It was as if Eric had paid the whole damned town to keep information of Sookie from him! And he didn’t dare go to more prime sources, like Tara, Jason, or Merlotte.
But Maxine had given him some details. He’d learned, for instance, that the shifter had had a blow-up at Merlotte’s because Sookie was quitting. Maxine reported that Sookie was going to be working in Shreveport.
Bill sneered, not wanting to believe that his beloved had agreed to work at Fangtasia where fangbangers and vampires alike would paw at her every night!
“I cannot understand how Eric would allow such a thing—even with the way he is!” he said with righteous indignation. Hell—Bill had barely tolerated Sookie working for the shifter, though he’d known that Sookie needed the steady paycheck and that her other employment prospects were limited due to her lack of education.
Bill had contemplated asking her to share his house so that her expenses were limited. He would have taken care of her—just as a man took care of his wife when Bill was a human. However, Sookie had taken on many of the traits of modern women, including the desire for independence. The vampire had hoped to break her of that idea—without completely breaking her spirit in the process.
He looked at the soft rug he’d placed in front of the fireplace. Yes—he’d imagined many a winter night in front of the fire with his beloved.
Nights when she would be seeing to his home and to him—just as women did in his time. In many ways, the vampire longed to recapture some of that simpler time, and he knew that he could do so—with Sookie.
“I will still do so,” he promised himself softly.
Unfortunately, there had been many roadblocks in his relationship with his beloved. There still were.
One was the queen, an employer whom he admired. However, Bill had balked at the idea of taking Sookie to the queen’s court, afraid that Sophie-Anne would give Sookie to her child, Andre, whom Bill knew would become intrigued by Sookie at first sight.
The vampire shook his head. It was ironic that Andre now seemed to be his only ally at court, though he was determined to reestablish his standing with Sophie-Anne.
That was yet another relationship which Northman had fucked up for him!
As if undermining him with Sookie had not been enough!
Bill took several deep, though unnecessary breaths in order to compose himself. He was determined not to let his temper get the best of him, for it would surely get him killed. No—he would be calculated and calm as he got back what he’d lost.
And, then, as he got back at the Viking.
Bill thought about the next night with anticipation.
“Soon, Sookie. I will see you soon,” he whispered. He would promise his beloved that he would perform better at being her mate. He would acknowledge that he’d been distant—as he’d let himself become accustomed to her being present—as he’d become lost in his work. His own human wife had once accused him of taking her for granted after they’d been together for a while.
Of course, back then, he’d needed to prioritize the work that had to be done on what had been a fully functioning, though relatively small, plantation. He looked out the large window in the living room. He could almost see the lush fields, almost hear the singing slaves. His mother and wife had treated their workers well, though giving them their freedom had never entered a Compton mind before the War of Northern Aggression ended. Indeed, after Bill had become a vampire, it had taken him a while to accept that blacks were worthy of full-human status.
Bill sighed. Now, he was ashamed of his once-held belief that one being had the right to enslave another. In fact, it had been his “enslavement”—at least at times—by his maker which had taught him to consider the slaves’ plight.
He felt the ache of his empty child-maker bond. A part of him would always miss Lorena. However, a larger part of him would always be grateful to Sookie for freeing him from her.
“It was fate,” he said with certainly.
Yes—Bill could find no other way to describe the fact that his beloved had been the one to free him from his maker forever.
And—now—he was committed to evolving, to being a more attentive mate than he’d ever been before—to anyone.
But, first, he had to get her back.
He felt hope where his heart had once beaten. No matter how Eric was trying to manipulate her, she wanted to see him the next night. And it was then that Bill would begin repairing what had been damaged.
In his viewpoint, there was actually not a lot to repair. All he had to do was to get Sookie to listen to him and look at the situation rationally.
He was prepared to admit that he’d been distant even before Lorena called him. But he could explain that by telling her that his computer work had needed to be completed as quickly as possible. He would also reassure her that she’d be his priority from now on.
He knew that explaining Lorena away would be more difficult; however, he would make Sookie understand that he had no choice when his maker had called him. He would assure her that he’d never told his maker about her telepathy—as evidenced by the torture he’d endured.
He knew that his beloved’s pity and compassion would ultimately absolve him of having to go back to Lorena for a time. And Bill would make sure that the telepath understood that he bore her no ill will for killing his maker either, though he might hint about just how much it hurt to lose his connection with his maker—if he felt that the information would induce more of Sookie’s pity.
The trunk incident had been a traumatic one for them both, and—in many ways—Bill knew that overcoming that would be their biggest obstacle as a couple. Bill was prepared to open up to Sookie more than he ever had about “true” vampire nature. He knew that she might be frightened when he told her just how difficult it was for a vampire to maintain control, especially when injured. However, he ultimately had faith in Sookie’s ability to overcome her pain and forgive him.
Bill would simply keep apologizing until she did.
In a strange way, he had Eric to thank for the fact that he even had the opportunity to repair his relationship with Sookie. Had the Viking not pulled Bill from the trunk, the younger vampire had no doubt that he would have raped Sookie.
And, perhaps, drained her.
And, perhaps, turned her.
Bill felt a moment of shame.
He’d been propelled by rage that horrible night in the trunk—as he’d smelled Eric all over Sookie, as he’d picked up the scent of past arousal from her, as well as the stench of Eric’s semen.
Never would Bill confess to Sookie the whole truth: that it was rage—and not just starvation—that had caused his behavior in the trunk. Indeed, he hoped to skirt that issue altogether and, instead, offer Sookie his forgiveness for any dalliance she might have had with Eric the night before the trunk happened.
“Or any night since,” he resolved with a growl as he recalled the way she’d clung to Eric after he’d taken her bitten body from the trunk. “We will forgive each other,” he determined with a confident nod.
And—eventually—Andre would be able to convince the queen that Northman was not worthy of his sheriff’s post. Eric would leave Louisiana—or be killed for his plotting against the queen—and Sookie and Bill could live in peace.
Perhaps, Sophie-Anne would even make Bill the next Sheriff of Area 5.
Of course, Bill didn’t really have that kind of ambition—didn’t seek that kind of power. He’d enjoyed his work at the queen’s court and wished to return there. He could easily imagine a simple life where he worked on the database and occasionally procured fresh, interesting fare for the queen and her children. Sookie, of course, would be by his side, and he hypothesized that they would marry when human laws allowed for it. Bill figured that the queen would eventually reward his loyalty by offering him permission to complete a bond with Sookie.
Yes—Bill nodded with self-assurance—he would make things right with Sookie, and the rest would fall into place.
But that didn’t mean he wouldn’t do what he could to help spur on the downfall of Eric Northman. The vampire walked into the kitchen and then into the pantry where he kept some TrueBlood. He stretched out his senses and could not pick up any vampires close to his home, so he quietly bent down to loosen a plank at the foot of the pantry. Behind it was a laptop that held a heavily encrypted addendum to his database, one that included information he’d managed to gather about the most powerful Supernaturals—vampires and others—that he knew of.
Even Sophie-Anne did not know of this side-project.
The only thing that had protected it from discovery—Bill was convinced—had been a concealment spell he’d purchased from Hallow, a witch in New Orleans (who was, ironically enough, one of the subjects in the addendum).
Once he collected enough information, Bill planned to offer the addendum to the main database to his queen in exchange for her permission to be the ultimate master of Sookie’s fate, though he knew that he would never use such a label in front of his beloved.
“She would not understand,” he sighed to himself.
What Bill really wanted was to control when and how she interacted with all other vampires, including the queen and her children. Such power would help Bill to avoid future Eric Northmans. It would allow him to ensure that no other vampires touched her. It would guarantee that he would be the only one to ever bond with her.
Then, Bill could actually relax and truly enjoy Sookie! And he had no doubt that she would enjoy the lessening of anxiousness regarding her status in the vampire world as well.
Bill used his senses to once again check whether he was truly “alone” and then hurried to his bedroom before proceeding into a large closet—where he could work without the danger of prying eyes watching him through his windows.
“I wouldn’t put it past Northman to spy,” the vampire muttered as he powered up his computer and connected to the Internet through his secure network.
He smiled as he opened an email he’d been hoping to receive. While in New Orleans, Bill had made contact with Hallow. Because of Northman, he no longer felt that any part of his own home was private! Thus, he’d asked the rather unscrupulous witch to help him secure the entire residence.
The email confirmed that Hallow was willing to take the job and was even offering to do it for free—if Bill provided her with adequate information about Eric and Fangtasia.
Bill grinned; his luck was changing!
As he read further into the email, he grinned even more widely. Apparently, Hallow had researched Eric and had found him of interest. She planned to settle in Area 5, at least for a while, and demand a portion of the Viking’s profits—as well as his body! Bill laughed out loud.
“That ought to keep Northman busy!” he said snidely. Plus, he had no doubt that Eric would give his body to the witch—just to appease her. Hallow, though a little too slender and muscular for Bill’s taste, was not completely unappealing, so Eric would not hesitate. Even better, Bill knew that Sookie would disapprove of Eric basically whoring himself out in order to lower the tribute the witch demanded.
After sending a quick missive to Hallow determining a good time to meet with her, Bill went through the steps of opening the addendum to the database, which required several passwords to access and make readable. Once it was open, he quickly accessed the entry he’d begun on Eric Northman.
The Viking was elusive—to be sure. Thus, Bill had not been able to collect all that he would have liked.
However, he had managed to collect a few pieces of potentially useful information.
The name of Eric’s maker was one of them.
Rumors that Eric had—as a younger vampire—been publicly abused by that maker was another.
When he’d first learned that information, Bill had felt empathy for Eric, for he knew firsthand what enduring an abusive, unhinged maker was like. Indeed, at one time, he would have resisted using Eric’s maker against him.
But that time was past. In trying to steal Sookie from him—in attempting to turn the telepath against him—Eric had declared war. And Bill was ready to use every weapon at his disposal.
“Now all I have to do is track you down, Appius Livius Ocella,” the vampire said as he stared at the screen in front of him.
A/N: Anyone else need a shower to get the Bill funk off? Ugh. I almost hate subjecting you to this kind of chapter, but sometimes it’s necessary to show what the villains are doing.
Until next week,