Chapter 12: Can’t Change Me
I leaned the side of my head against the cool tiles of the bathroom wall. I was really starting to hate morning sickness. I wondered how much longer it would last. Should have thought about that when Dr. Ludwig was still here. Maybe I should make a list of things to ask her when she came for my next check-up.
“Oh, still feeling pretty sick, huh?” a voice asked behind me.
I jumped at the unexpected sound, and whipped around to see Marci standing in the doorway. The sudden action made feel nauseous all over, and I bent over the toilet again. “Oh, I’m sorry, hun, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Marci said sympathetically as she knelt behind me and rubbed my back in a soothing manner.
Finally, the nausea passed and I sat against the wall by the toilet. “Hi,” I said, tiredly. This morning sickness was really zapping my energy. “How much longer does this last?” I asked.
“Well, it can last until your second trimester,” Marci answered as she helped me to stand. I was surprised at how different Marci looked today. She was wearing an elegant slate gray business suit, with a deep purple blouse underneath. She looked like a high power executive today instead of the soccer mom she’d looked like yesterday.
I splashed some water on my face and put some toothpaste on the toothbrush that had been sent up with clothes and other toiletries. I stopped with the toothbrush partway to my mouth. “When’s the second trimester?” I asked.
“So I have another six weeks of this to look forward to?” I asked before I started brushing my teeth. I couldn’t believe it. Six more weeks of this?
Marci chuckled and answered, “It will probably get better. Come on, I brought some things to help make the morning sickness a little better.” Marci led me out to the dining room. There wasn’t near as much food laid out as there had been yesterday, but there was an array of fruit, some muffins and a large stack of pancakes with strawberries. I was shocked that Marci had not only come into the room without me knowing it, but that she had also brought food with her too. Marci picked up a plate of cookies and held them and a cup of a golden colored liquid out to me. “Ginger snaps and ginger ale,” she said in answer to my questioning look. “Old family secret, ginger is great for nausea. My mother used to chew on gingerroot throughout her pregnancies, but I always found ginger snaps and ginger ale to be a more pleasant way to take ginger,” she explained as I took a cookie and the glass.
I folded one leg underneath me as I sat down on a chair and drank a little of the ginger ale and started munching on the cookie. Marci sat down next to me and started eating her plate of pancakes.
“I brought you some fruit too. I noticed that was what you ate yesterday. It’s probably better for morning sickness too. Anything with lots of water in it will help,” she advised.
It surprised me how much the ginger ale and snaps seemed to be helping and I was actually able to dig into the fruit and even a muffin.
“So how are you feeling after last night,” Marci finally asked. My brow knitted in confusion. “Robert called me late last night and said you were awfully sick.” I was really confused now, and surprised. “He said you met the night before, and you were pretty sick when he came to talk with you last night. He was very worried about you,” she said, looking me over curiously. “I haven’t known Robert for very long, but I’ve never known him to care much about humans, let alone the fairer sex, but he was very adamant that I take very good care of you,” she said with a sly smile. “Not that I wasn’t planning on it already, mind you. Even Jeremy was very taken with you. He said you picked up on things very quickly.”
“You’ve all been very nice to me,” I answered quietly. Changing the subject, I said, “Well, I should go get dressed so I can meet Jeremy downstairs.”
“Are you sure about that Suzy? Robert was quite worried about you last night, and I don’t want you overworking yourself today. Maybe you should rest this morning and if you feel up to it, go downstairs this afternoon,” Marci said, taking my hand.
As soon as she took my hand, I felt her genuine concern, but I was determined to pull my own weight here, even when I grew as fat as a whale. “I’m fine. The ginger really helped. I want to help. I don’t want to be a freeloader. I’m not afraid of a little hard work,” I told her.
Shaking her head, Marci responded, “I’m sure you’re not, honey.” She sighed, “Well, I’m meeting with a committee that we’re hoping will hold a convention here. It’s for some kind of doctors, endocrinologists I think, why don’t you come with me and give me a hand. Old doctors on committees like that always like to look at good looking woman while they’re talking business,” she said with a wink as she got up to go towards the bedroom. Well, that explained why she was dressed in a beautiful suit.
“Sure,” I said, jumping up to follow her. I was surprised to see that the closet door was open and there were some new suites hanging in it. “What’s this?” I asked pointing to the new clothes.
“I had Jeremy take care of getting you a few things to tide you over until you can pick out some things yourself.” She held up her hand when I started to protest. “You needed some things, and really, it was as much of a treat for Jeremy as anyone else.” She leaned in and said conspiratorially, “That man just loves to shop, if you want to make his day, have him go with you when you go to pick out clothes. He’ll think he’s died and gone to heaven. But he really is great to take shopping, he knows where all the best deals are, and he puts together the most stunning ensembles.”
A short time later, I was dressed in a beautiful black suit, with a halter style vest over a blue long sleeved blouse. I’d never felt so professional and sophisticated. We met with the committee of mostly retired doctors, and started out by giving them a tour of the hotel. Jeremy came in to join us when we sat down in one of the conference rooms to talk about a proposal for hosting their event. Since I was acting as both Jeremy and Marci’s assistant, they did the talking and I took notes.
Towards the end of the meeting, I got Jeremy’s attention, leaned over, and quietly told him, “I think I know what else they want to guarantee they’ll have their convention here.”
“They’ve already said they’re worried we don’t have a large enough space for a tradeshow during the convention,” Jeremy whispered back.
“They’re just saying that because they want to keep their options open. What they really are looking for is extra, organized activities. I think if you tell them we’ll make arrangements to take convention goers to do activities like, things on the beach, museums, the aquarium, golfing, and wine tasting, I think you can lock them in. So far, we’re offering what everyone else is, for about the same price. They’re looking for something extra,” I whispered back.
Jeremy’s brow knitted as he considered. “It wouldn’t take too much effort to organize some of our summer help to run each of those activities, and not a lot more to buy some blocks of time during the convention at places like the golf course. Wonderful idea, Suzy,” Jeremy said appreciatively.
I had been annoyed throughout the meeting by some of the vulgar thoughts of myself and Marci, and even one man’s thoughts of Jeremy, but it was worth listening to when they excitedly latched onto Jeremy’s words and ended up signing a contract to host their convention at the hotel.
“Well done, Suzy!” Marci exclaimed, as she pulled me into a hug after the last of the committee had left. I gave her a puzzled look, and she went on. “I heard your suggestion to Jeremy. So simple, but brilliant! I expected we would be chasing after them for weeks and even then, I figured we might lose them to one of the hotels closer to L.A. How did you know they would go for it?”
I shrugged, not really wanting to explain that I was a telepath. “I’ve just always known people,” I hedged. Yeah, inside and out.
“Well, you certainly do! You were born for this kind of work Suzy. If you know people that well, figuring out what they want will be easy for you.” She had no idea how easy. “Well, it’s almost 3 now. Why don’t the two of you take the day off.” I was surprised and started to protest, “No, Jeremy, I want you to take Suzy to a few of the boutiques around town and help her get started on her wardrobe. You’ve gotten a good start for her, but I’m sure Suzy would like to pick out some things she’s comfortable with too. Take the hotel credit card and get her everything she could need, both for work and for personal. Getting this convention was a huge break for us, and the two of you deserve the rest of the afternoon off. So scoot!” she said, waving her hands at us.
“But I can’t allow you to just buy that much for me. You’ve already done too much,” I protested as Jeremy wound his arm around mine in excitement. I could tell he was nearly hoping from the excitement of a shopping trip. He was so calm and quiet most of the time that it was almost funny to see him so animated about something like shopping.
Marci took my chin in her hand and tipped my head up towards hers. “Honey, with the amount of money that we’ll take in from that convention, I could buy you a hundred different wardrobes. Don’t think of this as me buying things for you that you haven’t earned. You’ve already earned that much and more, but think of it as an investment. It’s an investment in everything I know you’re going to be able to do. You need new clothes, and so the hotel is going to provide them so that you’re so happy, you would never want to leave her and go work anywhere else,” she said with a wink.
“I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else,” I said. In the pit of my stomach, I knew it was a lie. I wanted to go back to my life in Louisiana, but images of Eric chained in silver as me and the children were taken from him flitted through my mind again, so I pushed my desire to go back home down and smiled at Marci. This wasn’t home, but I had met three wonderful people here, and I hoped that would be enough.
I knew Marci was right, and that I would need new clothes if I wanted to continue working in this hotel. Nothing I even had at home would have been good enough for working here. “It’s an investment,” I told myself out loud.
“And one hell of an investment,” Jeremy mock-whispered to me. “Just think of it as being a reward for me. I’m going to love finding clothes for you. At least you’ve got a figure and some curves, unlike all of twigs you normally see running around here.”
I laughed, both at Jeremy’s comments, and the fact that Marci had been spot on about him thinking it was a treat for him to take me shopping. “I guess we’d better get this over with,” I sighed. I had hated shopping growing up. It was hard to shop in a packed mall and keep everybody’s thoughts out, but I was hoping I could latch onto Jeremy’s enthusiasm and have at least some fun.
Marci laughed and continued to shoo us out.
Several hours later found me exhausted from trying on clothes, but laughing from the stream of jokes Jeremy had been telling me. He had just started in on jokes about Californians. “So, this man got on a bus with both of his front pockets full of golf balls and he sat down next to this beautiful Californian woman. The puzzled Californian kept looking at him and his bulging pockets.
Finally, after many such glances from her, he said, ‘It’s golf balls.’
Nevertheless, the Californian continued to look at him thoughtfully, and finally, not being able to contain her curiosity any longer, asked, ‘Does it hurt as much as tennis elbow?'”
I stepped out of the dressing room and nearly doubled over laughing. I shook my head and turned this way and that. I had already picked out a lot of casual wear and business suits and now Jeremy had drug me to yet another little shop to try on dresses. He explained that there would be occasions and events at the hotel where we would need to dress up as well. I had argued that we were buying way more than I would be able to wear before I started getting too big to even wear them, but Jeremy just excitedly told me that then he would have an excuse to take me shopping for maternity clothing.
“You look fantastic,” Jeremy assured me as he smoothed out the back of the halter-top tie under my hair. It was a pretty daring black dress, at least in my book. The fabric and adornments were very simple, but it was the cut of the dress that I thought was daring. The skirt went almost down to the floor, but the back was open down to the swell of my butt.
“You don’t think my boobs are too big for this halter-top,” I asked, as I looked at my profile in the mirror.
“Suzy, with breasts like that, don’t be afraid to show them off. Hell, in California, most woman pay a fortune to have breast like you do,” Jeremy told me, as he unceremoniously reached around me and rearranged said breasts. The first time he’d done that, I’d nearly come unglued, but he’d just laughed at my reaction and assured me I didn’t have anything he wanted, and a dip into his mind quickly confirmed it. Jeremy had very little sense of personal space, but as the day went on, I became a little more comfortable, and at least stopped trying to swat his hands away. Not that it did any good. His cheerful attitude and all of his jokes were having their intended affect and were relaxing me too.
“I just don’t know,” I said, looking at the price tag. It was completely staggering how much all of these clothes cost. I’d tried to ask Jeremy if there weren’t some less expensive stores we could go to, but he’d just laughed and said he was going to take me to L.A. and San Francisco and show me how much “real” clothes cost.
“Darling, we’re getting it, and it’s beautiful,” Jeremy assured as he stepped back.
“He is quite right, it is beautiful, you should get it,” a deep voice added from behind me.
I whipped around to see Robert wearing a very expensive looking suit and leaning against the half-wall near the dressing rooms. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I hadn’t been paying one whit to when the sun went down.
Jeremy had his hand pressed to his heart as he exclaimed, “Oh, Mr. Caras, you surprised me. I didn’t expect to see you here. How can I help you?”
Robert ignored Jeremy, stepping past him to stand in front of me. He took my hand and brought it to his mouth for a gentle kiss. “Good evening, lígo mi̱téra,” he said as he released my hand. “I wondered if you would accompany me for a while this evening. There are … matters we should discuss,” he said, raising his eyebrow.
Jeremy immediately took the hint. “Well, if you two have things to discuss, I’ll be on my way. You go shimmy out of that dress, and I’ll go take it up front and make sure it’s delivered along with the rest to the hotel,” Jeremy told me and he motioned towards the dressing rooms. I could hear him wondering how I knew Robert and that he would die to have that gorgeous looking man kiss his hand that way. I blushed and turned around quickly to head into the dressing room when I started to catch some of Jeremy’s secret fantasies about Robert.
When I had “shimmied” out of the dress, I tossed it over the door to Jeremy and changed into a black and white sundress I’d gotten earlier in the day. It was a lot more comfortable than the business suit I’d been wearing early and a lot easier to slip on and off as we went from store to store. It had an empire waist, with solid black fabric across my boobs. The skirt was white, with yellow flowers and black designs at the bottom of the hem. Jeremy had wanted me to wear some expensive sandals with them, but I’d insisted on simple flip-flops.
I stepped out of my dressing room to find Jeremy gone, and Robert standing in downtime waiting for me. His head snapped up and he smiled as I walked over to him. “You look just as beautiful in a sundress as well.”
I blushed, but took his offered arm as he led me out of the little shop. “Is it because I’ve had your blood that you were able to find me?” I questioned.
“Yes,” Robert answered simply as he led me to a black limousine. I was surprised, but slid in when he opened the door. I could tell that the driver was a vampire, but there was no one else in the limo.
“What was your feeling of embarrassment for as you went to change?” he asked curiously.
I blushed again, but answered, “Jeremy was thinking that he would die to have a gorgeous man like you kiss his hand … and then he was imagining you in some of his secret fantasies. He’s never been brave enough to admit it, but he’s had a crush on you ever since he started working at the hotel.”
Robert looked surprised. After a few minutes, he asked, “What is a crush?”
I laughed at his question. “A crush is when you like someone but you’re usually too afraid to tell them. Usually people have crushes on someone they don’t really know.” I shrugged, “I guess it’s usually just kind of a fantasy. Most humans have them at some point in their lives, especially growing up.”
Robert continued looking at me curiously, “And you have had crushes before?”
“Not really. It’s hard to have a crush on someone when you can hear everything that goes through their heads. It’s hard to build a fantasy of someone when you know the truth about them,” I explained.
“And yet, you had a relationship with and were bonded to the Norseman. I can tell there was much love there for you to be so hurt by him.”
I shrugged, not wanting to dwell on memories of Eric. “I can’t hear vampire’s thoughts, so I guess the first vampire I met was the closest I ever came to having a crush. But Bill and I were in a relationship, so it wasn’t really a crush.”
“And this vampire gave you to the Norseman?”
“No!” I almost shouted. I did remember a time when Bill had told me to go to Eric if anything happened to him. But he never passed me along. “Bill and I broke up, and Eric and I got together later,” I told him, appalled by the thought of being passed around like a piece of meat.
“Forgive me. I did not mean to upset you by my question. That is how it is often done among vampires, but I should have known better than to suggest such a thing of a creature like you,” Robert quickly reassured me. “You do not hear vampire thoughts?” Robert questioned, changing the subject.
“No, y’all have always been blanks or voids when I cast out my mental nets,” I carefully worded, not wanting to lie since I knew he could sense my feelings.
“I thought not,” he replied with a nod. “I have tried thinking things at you, but you have not reacted to them.”
I knew that I’d read his mind the first night I’d been here, but I was too afraid to try again to see if it was still possible. I figured it was safer to keep out of any vampire’s mind, even this one. “So, where are we going?” I asked, just as the car came to a stop.
“Ah, perfect timing, we are here,” he replied as he got out and offered me his hand.
I stepped out to see a deserted beach. The moon was only a few nights away from being full, and its bright light illuminated the sandy beach. I closed my eyes and listened to the waves as the softly rolled in. “It’s beautiful,” I breathed.
“Yes, I often come here to think,” Robert replied as he once again offered me his arm. “You are enjoying your work at the hotel?” he questioned.
“Yeah, actually I am. It’s nice to be able to give back to you all after everything you’ve done for me,” I admitted.
Robert laughed, “Yes, Mrs. Dell informed me you helped to secure a convention for us that will bring in tens of thousands of dollars in profit. She was quite pleased with you, lígo mi̱téra.”
“That’s the second time you’ve called me that. What does it mean?” I wondered. We were walking along the beach away from where the limo was parked. It was a little difficult to walk in the sand, so I bent down and took my flip-flops off.
“It is Greek. It means, little mother,” he explained.
“Oh, is that where you were from?” I asked, and then realized it might be too personal. “I’m sorry; you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
“I do not speak of that time very often, but it is acceptable for you to ask of. You gave my life back to me; you are welcome to ask me questions as you will. And I shall answer them as I can,” he gently assured me. “Yes, I was born and lived my human life in Greece. I have been back a few times in the last few centuries, but I have not spent much time there. As I am sure you are aware, vampires generally avoid the places of their human lives. It is too difficult to be subjected to memories of our human lives on a daily basis.”
For the first time, I wondered how difficult it must have been for Bill to be sent back to not only the area but to the very house he’d lived in as a human when he was ordered to seduce me. I knew that was something I would have to think about later, so instead I asked, “Do you mind me asking how old you are. I’m sure you must be pretty old if you’re the king.”
Robert gave an indulgent smile, “I am somewhere over sixteen hundred years old. I am unsure of the years, but Theodosius the first was the emperor of the Roman Empire at the time of my human death. I never ascribed to the new Nicene Christianity that Theodosius began promoting. I was a pagan, and as such always have considered myself a Grecian and not a Roman,” he explained with a sad smile.
I was shocked at his age, but then again, I knew Eric’s maker had been somewhere around two thousand years old. It still seemed weird to hear vampires talk about things like Christianity and call them “new.” “How did you die?” I asked quietly, wondering if he would decide this was something he couldn’t answer.
He sighed and said, “Theodosius was known for many things besides raising Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. He was also well known for destroying many pagan temples and statues and ending the Olympics. He was also known as being the first to outlaw homosexuality. The crime was punishable by death. I was a soldier in the Roman army, and I was well liked by my men, so my pagan practices were overlooked, though they had become outlawed under Theodosius. When homosexuality was outlawed as well, a few of my superiors who did not like my practices had me arrested. I was to be burned for my crimes when my maker took me and gave to me a new life. Though I have missed my human life—my mother and siblings—I did not regret that she turned me. I embraced the freedom my new nature gave me, though I grieved leaving my human family behind.”
“That’s awful! I’m so sorry,” I whispered, looking up at him. His face was carefully blank, but I could see the sadness in his eyes.
He shrugged, “It does not matter. What is done is done.” He looked down at me again, “What of you? Tell me of your family. What was it like to grow up with your gift?”
I looked back towards the limo, thinking it probably wasn’t a good idea to speak about who I was anywhere near where another vampire could overhear me. I hadn’t seen the vampire or even seen him get out of the limo, but I knew he could be anywhere near whenever he wanted.
Robert saw my glance and assured me, “Vincent is another child of mine. He is loyal to me; you are free to talk around him.”
I spent the next hour or more talking about my family, what it had been like growing up as a telepath, and finally, my entrance into the Supe world and a little about my magic. Robert was a very attentive audience, and asked me a lot of questions about how I managed to grow up with telepathy. I was surprised he seemed more curious about the telepathy than the magic.
“Why are you so curious about how I grew up with telepathy?” I finally asked. His questions never seemed to worry me, but I was simply curious about his curiosity.
“You are the second telepath I have known,” he admitted. “In, I think the twelve century, I came across one in a little village near Barcelona. She was quite mad from hearing the thoughts of others all her life, and was shunned and outcast from her people as a lunatic for saying she could hear thoughts. I had thought that she might be useful, but her mind was very troubled. She could not hear my thoughts and called me a demon. She killed herself shortly thereafter because none of the other humans would believe her when she called me a demon. She was very troubled, but she saw more than those humans did,” he replied almost wistfully. “I was only curious as to how it was that you were able to adapt so well with your gift. I have heard other stories throughout the ages of similar humans that went mad because of their gifts.”
I snorted, “Yeah, that really makes it a gift doesn’t it. When it drives most people insane. Most people thought I was a freak growing up, and I probably would have been insane if I hadn’t learned how to block people out and had a couple of understanding friends and family members.” I thought of Sam and instantly felt homesick again. “Do you think there’s any way I could call home to a friend and ask how things are going there? I’ve been really worried ever since what Dr. Ludwig said last night.”
“I do not think that would be a good idea, Sookie. The Norseman or de Castro could trace the call to my state and come looking for you,” he replied sadly.
I stopped and looked out at the ocean for several minutes. “What if I don’t call from California or anywhere else that can be traced back to here?”
“I do not understand,” Robert said, peering down at me.
“What if I try teleporting to somewhere else, like even to Canada or something and call from there?”
“I do not want you going so far from where I can protect you. I have vowed to keep you safe, and so I shall,” he told me quickly, as his hands moved to my shoulders.
I thought for a few moments more. “Well, I was able to bring Dr. Ludwig here from Louisiana, why couldn’t I bring you along with me when I teleport?” I knew Dermot had told me that teleporting with another was nearly impossible, but he’d also never said that being able to send or bring someone else across the country like I’d done was even possible.
“Can you do such a thing?” he questioned. I knew he wanted to talk me out of it, but I could feel his excitement at the thought of trying it.
I shrugged. “What’s it hurt to try. I really want to talk to Sam and see what’s going on at home,” I pleaded.
His eyes softened as he gave in. “Very well. You can try.”
I closed my eyes and started gathering my magic. I wanted so badly to be able to talk to Sam at the very least, one last time.
A/N: Next up, will be a conversation with Sam, maybe even Pam. 😉
I have to work on some paid writing for the next day or two, so it might be Wednesday or Thursday before I can get back to this, just to let you guys know.
As always, let me know what you thought, and thanks to everyone for your reviews and adding me to your alerts and favorites!