Chapter 6: A Push into the Future
It was the phone call I had been dreading. I knew I would have to tread carefully when I spoke to Sophie-Anne about Sookie, so after my walk with Sookie the night before Malcolm’s visit, I had put off calling the Queen once again. So far, I had called her only once and talked to Andre to let them know I was in the area and would make contact with the girl soon. Of course, that had been the night the drainers had caught me, and I had made contact with the girl, but I was not yet ready to divulge any information about her at that point. I still wasn’t sure how much I wanted to divulge.
I had made another call, and left another message with Andre the night after my string of unwanted visitors. Trying to keep things simple, I told Andre that I was sure that the girl was a telepath and that I would continue investigating her to better understand her abilities and any limitations, as well as trying to gain control of the girl. Andre had seemed distracted and simply said he would pass the information along to the queen and that she would be in touch.
“You have been there for a week, I would have expected more timely reports on your assignment,” came the queen’s voice, not even bothering with a greeting.
“Of course my Queen, I merely wished to be sure of my findings before I made any reports to you. She is indeed a telepath,” I answered, hoping my discovery would sway the queen’s anger from my lack of diligent reports.
Sophie-Anne’s voice huffed as she said, “This much we knew from what my Hadley had already said. Don’t tell me that this is all that you have discovered. Perhaps I should find another who might be better suited to the task,” she threatened.
“That won’t be necessary,” I hastily assured, visions of my own project never coming to fruition passing through my mind. “I have seen her use her abilities, she knew two humans planned to drain me by reading their minds,” I explained, leaving out that they had nearly done so or that she had read the mind of the human I nearly fed from. “And I am sure that she can only read human minds.”
There was a thoughtful silence before she queried, “You’re sure that she cannot read vampire minds?”
“Yes, my Queen. She would have known that my intentions were to acquire her for you, your Majesty, but she is completely unaware of my intentions,” I assured her.
“Hmm,” the Queen said in a thoughtful voice, almost to herself. “That is too bad; I could have used such a talent right now.”
She was silent for a moment. “Your Majesty?” I prompted.
“What are future plans? Is the girl securely under your thumb yet?” she finally asked.
“I have begun visiting the girl, and her grandmother, trying to gain the girl’s confidence,” I answered slowly.
“You are courting her … like a human! Why? Just glamor the girl, surely you can handle that,” she said incredulously.
I felt myself stiffen at her words, but answered as calmly as I could. “She does not respond to my influence whatsoever.”
Sophie-Anne was silent for several moments. “Well, I was not expecting this development.” Several more moments of thoughtful silence followed.
“My Queen, perhaps it would just be best if I brought her to New Orleans and to you now. You and Hadley can introduce her to vampire culture and have her under your own thumb sooner,” I offered. I was tiring of playing mainstreaming vampire, and trying to “court” this human. After the difficulties of the night of Malcolm’s visit, I was seriously thinking that no matter how tasty the girl was that she wasn’t worth the effort. She could not be glamored, so it would be a never-ending battle to keep her in check.
“No!” the Queen answered quickly, and then in a more regulated voice said, “No, you cannot bring her to New Orleans yet.”
She did not elaborate. “But my Queen, the sooner she joins you New Orleans, the sooner she will become accustomed to her situation and be useful to you,” I insisted. A part of me cringed at my offer, wanting to keep Sookie to myself, but the logical part of my mind knew that I would be better off getting rid of the girl quickly.
The queen huffed again and said, “What I am about to say to you shall not leave your lips, is that understood?”
“Of course,” I answered.
“I am currently in marriage negations with Arkansas. As such, he has several members of his own court carefully watching me and mine. I do not want to alert him to this particular asset, I wish to keep her for myself,” she said, a not so gentle reminder that I could not have her either.
At least some things were making more sense to me now. This explained not only why she wanted her kept in Bon Temps for now, but also why she and Andre seemed preoccupied.
“When did you last see the girl?”
“She came by two nights ago,” I answered, leaving out the subsequent disastrous results of Malcolm’s coinciding visit.
“And when shall you see her again?”
“We have no plans at the moment,” I answered carefully. I had been busy spending the last several nights working with contactors on my home. I had also been avoiding the girl, trying to work out what my next move should be. Perhaps I was avoiding the girl.
“You will continue your current plan with the girl. I am sure that you are not too eager to have to continue courting a human, but I think it is a good plan to bring her under our control given the circumstances, even if a bit old-fashioned, so you shall continue. It may remain difficult to reach me for some time. Negotiations may take a while, but you will give my Andre more timely reports. I expect to know about any discoveries with this girl sooner, and I expect you to entrench yourself into her life more fully, immediately,” Sophie-Anne directed before hanging up.
I closed my cell phone, considering what my next plan of action would be. Mostly I was upset that I was forced to continue my charade of courting a human girl, but a small, unidentifiable part of me was relieved that I would have some more time with the girl. She was intriguing, and at least now, I would have more time to decide why even a small part of me felt this way.
I made my way across the cemetery separating our properties to do my Queen’s bidding. I would endeavor to further entrench myself with the girl—as my Queen ordered. Perhaps her order was the push I needed to stop avoiding her.
As I reached the Stackhouse home, I saw that Sookie’s old car was not present. I began making my way down the drive, intent on going to Merlotte’s to see if she was still working, but partway down the drive, I felt that she was getting closer. It was still an odd feeling to me to sense another in this way, other than my maker, but it was useful. I decided to lean against a tree along her driveway, where she would be sure to see me and wait for her.
She came down the driveway shortly, though she started to drive past, only getting slightly past me before coming to a stop. I made my way to her door, and opened it, allowing her to step out.
She, however, kept her eyes trained on the ground at her feet. “Are you going to look at your feet all night, or are you going to talk to me?” I questioned, a little surprised by her subdued behavior. This was not the actions of the girl I was beginning to grow accustomed to. Am I becoming accustomed to her? I wondered, but then pushed the thought aside with all of the other thoughts of her that I need to evaluate.
“Something happened you should know about,” she told me, still not looking up.
My conversation with the Queen came back to me. I remembered her disbelieving voice as I admitted that the girl could not be glamored. Perhaps if I tried again it might work. “Tell me,” I commanded, pushing as much of my influence at her as I could, but she made a motion with her hand to push it away. She can obviously feel my influence, though it does not affect her, I thought with a sigh.
“I can’t stand up,” she said wearily. “Let’s sit on the ground or something. My feet are tired.”
I searched my blood, and could indeed feel her exhaustion. I did not answer but picked her up easily, relishing the feeling of her warm skin, before I deposited her on the hood of her car.
I crossed my arms as I stood in front of her and said again, “Tell me.”
“Dawn was murdered. Just like Maudette Pickens.”
“Dawn?” I questioned. Neither name meant anything to me, but I had heard the murmurings of the locals about some girl that had been killed, so I assumed that would be this Maudette.
I could feel a sliver of relief from the girl, though I could not understand why. “The other waitress at the bar,” she told me.
The image of the waitress with the bad, bottle-dyed red hair came to mind first. “The redheaded one, the one who’s married so often?” I questioned. I thought it ridiculous that humans continued to marry these days and then divorce such a short time later. It was almost unheard of in my time to divorce. Only death separated husbands from their wives, I thought bitterly about my own marriage.
I felt even more relief from Sookie, “No, the dark-haired one, the one who kept bumping into your chair with her hips to get you to notice her,” she answered.
Her relief was strange to me. But now I knew the name of my other unwanted visitor last night. At least she would not make another unwanted visit. I wondered what any of this meant to Sookie. “Oh, that one. She came to my house,” I answered truthfully. I vaguely remembered that my wife had valued honesty over sheltering her from hard truths. I remembered nights after the war when nightmares of old battles had plagued me. I had tried to brush over my time serving in the army and the battles fought, but that had created many more arguments between us. After I had shared my experiences with her, I had actually felt my nightmares lessen, and hold less strength over me.
“Dawn? When?” she asked in surprise.
“After you left the other night. The night the other vampires were there. She’s lucky she missed them. She was very confident of her ability to handle anything,” I told her.
“Why is she so lucky? Wouldn’t you have protected her?” she questioned.
Why on earth would she think that? Why would I care about this woman? “I don’t think so,” I said, once again going with blunt honesty.
“You are …” she started to say.
“I’m a vampire, Sookie. I don’t think like you. I don’t care about people automatically,” I interrupted.
“You protected me.”
I’d be dead if I hadn’t. I shuddered at the thought of having to inform the Queen that I had failed in my assignment. “You’re different.”
“Yeah? I’m a waitress, like Dawn. I come from a plain family, like Maudette. What’s so different?” she questioned.
So many reasons, I thought. They were worth nothing—less than nothing—but this girl’s worth could be endless. I placed a finger on her forehead, pointing out the reason for all of this, “Different,” I told her. “You’re not like us. But you’re not like them, either.”
I felt rage flare up inside her; it came so quickly that her actions caught me by surprise. She swung back and hit me hard in the side of the face, much harder than I would have given the small human credit for. Instinctively, I pulled her into my chest, pinning her arms against her side. My darker nature wanted to harm the human for daring to strike me, but I knew better than to harm her, so to keep both us from doing something stupid, I held her in place.
“No!” she screamed, all the while kicking and fighting. It was pointless of course; she had nowhere near my strength. Her struggles did enflame my vampire side however, and I had to struggle even more to control my darker nature, to keep from throwing her down and fucking her. Her breathing became ragged before she stopped struggling, and my own body matched hers in my effort to control myself.
“Why did you think I needed to know about Dawn?” I asked desperate for something to distract me from thoughts of how her warm body would feel, yielding to mine.
“Well, Mr. Lord of Darkness,” she said sounding furious, “Maudette had old bite marks on her thighs, and the police told Sam that Dawn had bite marks, too.”
As I thought this over, I loosened my grip on her, and began rubbing her back to soothe her, as I had done with my daughter, many years before. “You imply they didn’t die from these bites,” I said. Is she worried that a vampire has killed these women? I wondered. It was possible, though not probable that a vampire had killed these women and not drained them. I wondered if she worried that it was Malcolm and his nest.
“No. From strangulation,” she answered.
“Not a vampire, then,” I told her. At least it was extremely unlikely.
“If a vampire had been feeding from these women, they would have been drained instead of strangled. They wouldn’t have been wasted like that,” I explained carefully.
“Then, either you have a crafty vampire with great self-control, or you have someone who’s determined to kill women who’ve been with vampires.”
“Hmmm,” I said, wondering at her shrewdness. “Do you think I’d do that?” I wondered out loud.
She wiggled some in my arms and finally looked up into my eyes. “You’ve taken great care to point out how heartless you are,” she told me. “What do you really want me to believe?”
I had, but I was surprised that part of me didn’t want her to think that. “I could have killed them, but I wouldn’t do it here, or now,” I answered. If I were going to stay here long-term, it wouldn’t be wise to start killing off the food supply. “This is where I want to stay. I want a home.” It slipped out before I could stop myself or figure out where it came from.
I could feel the beginnings of pity from her. This creature—who had lived a difficult life herself … I didn’t want her to pity me. “Don’t pity me, Sookie. That would be a mistake,” I said staring into her eyes, willing her to pity me no more than I pitied her.
“Bill, you can’t glamor me, or whatever you do. You can’t enchant me into pulling my T-shirt down for you to bite me, you can’t convince me you weren’t ever here, you can’t do any of your usual stuff. You have to be regular with me, or just force me.”
“No,” I said, coming closer to her. I was surprised how much that simple accusation disturbed me. “I won’t force you.” And I knew it to be true.
“So, if it wasn’t you,” she pushed on, “then Maudette and Dawn knew another vampire. Maudette went to the vampire bar in Shreveport. Maybe Dawn did, too. Will you take me there?”
She wants me to take her to Northman’s bar! I can’t do that, the Queen said to keep her away from him. I was about to try and talk her out of it, but then I saw and felt the determination coming from her. I knew she would go, regardless of whether or not I took her, and at least if I took her, I might be able to steer her away from Eric. I doubted she would look anything like his usual fare, so maybe we could get in and out without attracting much attention. I also knew that this would also go a long way towards my goal of entrenching myself in her life. This would be a “date” I believed humans called it.
“Why?” I asked, still hoping that maybe she could be talked out of it.
“I’m not sure Andy Bellefleur will go to the trouble,” she said, though it tasted of a lie.
“There are still Bellefleurs here,” I asked, my mind instantly drawn to old memories of the war.
“Yes, lots of them. Andy is a police detective. His sister, Portia, is a lawyer. His cousin Terry is a veteran and a bartender. He substitutes for Sam. There are lots of others,” she said, though her voice seemed very far away.
Screams from long ago filled my mind, and the sound of the shot as it rang out … “Bellefleur …”
“Bill,” Sookie squeaked, squirming a little.
The vision dissipated rapidly when I realized I had been crushing Sookie. “Excuse me,” I said stiffly, the memory of the vision clinging a little more strongly than the vision itself.
“I have to go to bed,” she told me. “I’m really tired, Bill.”
I set her down on the gravel road from her car. “You told those other vampires that I belonged to you,” she said, thought I didn’t detect much emotion from her.
“Yes,” I said simply.
“What exactly did that mean?”
“That means that if they try to feed on you, I’ll kill them. It means you are my human,” I explained.
“I have to say I’m glad you did that, but I’m not really sure what being your human entails,” she said. I was right, she was shrewd. “And I don’t recall being asked if that was okay with me.”
“Whatever it is, it’s probably better then partying with Malcolm, Liam, and Diane,” I answered, not wanting to get into the details of what it actually entailed.
“Are you going to take me to the bar?” she questioned. Once again, I felt her determination. She would go regardless, so I might as well take her and ensure that she didn’t draw unwanted attention to herself. I also couldn’t deny that, though contradictory, it would be somewhat enjoyable to be able to show her off. As a vampire, I could feel the need to make other vampire’s jealous of what was mine.
“What’s you next night off?” I asked.
“Two nights from now.”
“Then, at sunset. I’ll drive,” I answered.
“You have a car?” she asked bewildered.
Does she think I run everywhere? I had to fight to suppress my laughter. “How do you think I get places?” An image of a jealous Viking flitted through my mind as I moved through the woods, though I knew I should keep her from him. “Sookie. Do me proud,” I said over my shoulder as I moved towards my house again.
A/N: This is a bit shorter of a chapter, but it was necessary as a gap filler before the trip to Fangtasia. That’s going to be an interesting chapter to write!
And a big shout-out to cretin who caught my mistake of spelling messaging, instead of massaging, and hdgcat who caught my mistake about the color of Bill’s wife’s hair. She, and their daughter, were blond, she wasn’t dark haired like him. I had totally forgotten that, so thank you both very much for catching those mistakes. I’m sure I’ll make more, so if you guys catch something feel free to give me a shout, I will fix them immediately. Thanks you guys!
As always, let me know what you thought, and thanks for your reviews!