“Pamela, contact our investigator; I need to know everything about the Stackhouse family in Bon Temps. There are only three living members: Adele, Jason, and Sookie.” I had just returned to my home in the French Quarter after the most infuriating meeting with the Queen and then her pet. Rather than deal with the aggravation of driving my car through the crowded streets of New Orleans, I flew to my home. I’ll pick up my car for my return trip to Shreveport, but for now, I needed the convenience and rush flying gives me. Flying has been something that I have enjoyed since the night I rose vampire. The rush of the wind against my skin and hair, floating among the stars, and having the world at my feet has always been something I’ve found peaceful. But not this night; the monster inside me is still threatening to crawl his way free.
“Where the fuck is Bon Temps? And what the fuck is a Sookie?” Pam sounds irritated; I’m in no mood for her attitude given everything I have had to deal with this evening. She needs to remember who the maker is and who the child is.
“Pamela,” I say in a warning tone, “I am not in the mood for your bitchiness tonight. You will do as I have requested.”
“Forgive me Master.” Pam is instantly contrite as she realizes just how foul a mood I am in. “I will have the investigator begin immediately. Do I need to arrange anything once these people are found?”
“Put Weres in place to watch the family once you have the addresses. I need to know exactly what the fuck I’m dealing with,” I say with an exasperated sigh.
“Should I be on the lookout for an attack?”
“No, though we do need to discuss additional security measures based on my conversation with Rasul. The Stackhouse family is to be my newest pets.” I wait for my progeny’s reaction knowing she will think this is a joke. I wish it was an elaborate ruse that I am playing on her. I do need to get back at her for telling Ginger I’m infatuated with her and am considering her as my newest child.
Pam’s laughter is long and loud through the connection; it lasts long enough for me to have the time to strip out of my suit and dress in my customary jeans, t-shirt, and boots. When I finally pick up the phone again, Pam’s laughter has turned to quiet chuckles. “You almost had me there Eric. I’d have believed you if you said they were drainers or some other threat. But your newest pets? No way in hell do I believe that.”
“Do I sound like I’m joking Pamela?”
She pauses a moment, no doubt hearing the annoyance in my voice as well as feeling my fury and irritation in the bond. She gasps before sputtering out, “But you don’t do pets? Why the fuck are you taking on not just one but three pets from the same family? Please tell me they are Coco Chanel, Giovanni Versace, and Grace Kelly reincarnate!”
“You have our esteemed Queen to thank for my new pets,” I say with utter disdain. “She has commanded that I claim the surviving family members of her future bonded and child, Hadley.”
“Why doesn’t the Queen claim them herself?”
“I asked that same fucking question; all I met was hostility. I have no choice in this Pam.” A resigned sigh escapes my lips as I think of how truly fucked this situation is. If something happens to one of these humans, I will have to answer to the Queen. That means I will need to know their whereabouts at all times. Fuck! Security details won’t be enough; I will have to give them my blood. I don’t care how good they smell or taste, it is ridiculous to think I will be gifting three unworthy humans with my blood. The only human ever to receive my blood has been my progeny. What will my maker say when he finds out? Godric believes the blood to be sacred . . .
“I am sorry Master. I will make all the necessary arrangements.”
I end the call and slip my phone in my pocket. Slipping on my leather jacket, I leave my home and take off into the night sky. I need the endless buffet that Bourbon Street provides me to calm my nerves and squelch my thirst.
Two nights later, I am in my office at Fangtasia reviewing the information the investigator has left me about the Stackhouse family, meager as they are. The brother, Jason, has the most information about him. He was a local football hero that received a scholarship to LSU; however his football dreams went up in smoke when he was injured the third game of his sophomore year. Now he works for the parish road crew. His home and truck are paid off; he has a single credit card with a $500 balance. He’s never been married, and he has no children that he knows of, which I find amazing considering how much of a ladies man he is reported to be. If the Stackhouse’s really are part-fairy, he would have inherited the physical attributes that will make him attractive to those around him. The picture included of Jason Stackhouse shows a well-built man with dirty blond hair highlighted by constant exposure to the sun, eyes that seem to twinkle with mischief and full red lips curved in an easygoing smile. Pam, who has favored women for the last fifty years, had licked her lips in hunger upon seeing his picture; the only flaw is his questionable fashion sense. A fan of plaid button down shirts she has never been; the 1990s were especially hard for her since it was the age of grunge.
Adele Stackhouse was next in the file. Adele Hale had married Earl Stackhouse in 1960 shortly after graduating high school. Their first child, Linda, had been born a year later with their second child, Corbett, born in 1964. Adele has no employment history to speak of; she’s been a housewife and homemaker since she became Adele Stackhouse. Her husband, Earl, had been declared legally dead in 2000 after he had disappeared in 1991. There was no evidence to suspect foul play; the man had simply left for work one morning and never returned home. Adele Stackhouse existed on her husband’s meager pension and Social Security. Her home was paid for and she had no credit history; she paid for everything in cash. The picture included in the file showed an elder woman in her seventies that still seemed to have a zest for life as indicated by the smile and sparkle in her eye. It is surprising to see one so positive about life when handed so many tragedies.
The last report in the file is the one that interests me the most: Sookie Stackhouse. The girl was a walking contradiction; she barely passed high school but she had graduated from the University of Phoenix with a near perfect GPA in English. Instead of putting her education and skills to use, she worked at a dive bar in Bon Temps owned by the Shifter, Sam Merlotte. I’ve had few dealings with Merlotte since he moved to my territory but I’ve never had cause to seek him out at his business. Pity; if I had I might have met the golden goddess shown in the picture wearing the short summer uniform Merlotte required of his waitresses. Her picture is another contradiction; she has a body made for sin, but her face and eyes are pure innocence. Merlotte’s is the only place the girl has worked at; starting there when she was in high school and continuing still to this day. If she really has the ability her cousin claims she does, why hasn’t she put it to use to get her out of that mosquito-infested wasteland she calls home?
My investigator could find no hidden skeletons, no hidden funds, nothing to indicate the Stackhouse’s were something other than what the presented themselves to be: a low-level income family that worked hard for what they had and was well-liked by their peers. Well at least Mrs. Stackhouse was. The Weres that had watched the family indicated that the people of Bon temps were respectful and kind to the matriarch. The opinion of the male Stackhouse varied from gushing lustful praise (the women) to envy (the men). The elder people in the community just shook their heads at his womanizing ways but admitted he was good to his family, hard-working, and loyal. The opinion of the youngest Stackhouse was not so favorable: sweet girl but considered odd by the townspeople. I believe the word the investigator stated was ‘peculiar’.
The door to my office opens and Pam stands in the doorway with her hands on her hips. “Are you going to spend all night reading that thing or are you going to come out here and entertain the vermin? They come here to see you Eric; they settle for the rest of us.”
“In a minute Pam; I need to make a phone call.”
She walks into the office, closing the door behind her as she moves beside my desk. “I already don’t like these humans; they are already distracting you from your responsibilities. We have a business to run Eric,” she reminds me pointedly.
“Pamela, I do not need for you to remind me of my responsibilities,” I state coldly. “Our survival will always be my main concern, but I must treat this situation with great care. I fear the Queen is setting me up for failure. If something were to happen to one of these humans, I fear the consequences could result in our True Death.”
“Over a fucking human?” Pam’s voice and expression convey her shock and disbelief. We are vampire; we are superior to humans in every way.
“As I explained to you, they are the only living family members of the Queen’s newest pet. Sophie-Anne is obsessed with Hadley; she plans to bond with her and eventually turn her. This obsession is a dangerous one, not just for us but for the entire state. Sophie-Anne is neglecting her responsibilities in order to be with her pet; if word of this were to get out, it would make us ripe for a takeover.”
“It would serve the bitch right if she met the True Death because she lost herself in a fucking fairy vagina. So help me Eric, if you end up losing yourself because of a piece of fairy snatch, I’ll stake you myself!”
Amused, I rise from my chair to stand before my child. Taking Pam’s face in my hands, I press a loving kiss to her forehead. My child is the perfect vampire; beautiful, cunning, intelligent, loyal, and deadly. Keeping her face in my hands, I look down at her with a smirk on my face. “I love you better when you’re cold and heartless.” I know my progeny wants to be seen as an unfeeling bitch, but when it comes to me she is unable to control her emotions. She may look stoic but our bond sings with her happiness, pride, and love for me. I do not think I could have made a better choice than when I turned Pam.
“Now get your ass back on the floor,” I tell my child as I step back. “I will be out as soon as I make this last call.” Pam takes her leave and I return to my desk. Searching through my contacts, I dial the number of my lawyer.
The receptionist answers on the first ring. “Good evening, you have reached the office of Desmond Cataliades. How may I help you?” Her voice is professional and succinct.
“This is Sheriff Eric Northman of Area Five. I need to speak with Mr. Cataliades about three new contracts I need drafted.”
“One moment please. I will see if he is available.” The receptionist puts me on hold. Cataliades had better be available; I pay him good money to be available when I need him.
There is a click and the booming voice of the demon lawyer comes through the speaker. “Good evening Sheriff. How may I be of assistance to you this evening?”
I appreciate when someone gets straight to the point; not wasting my time with frivolities. “I will be designating three humans as my pets within the coming days. I need to have contracts drawn up validating my claim over the humans. I also want the contracts to explicitly outline what shall be expected from both sides. These documents need to be as air-tight as possible; there shall be no room for gray areas.”
If Cataliades is surprised by my demands, he hides it well. “Very well. If you will give me the names of the humans, I shall begin drafting documents that will cement your claim to them. As for the expectations from both sides, please send me an email with your stipulations and I will add that to the document.”
“Adele, Jason, and Sookie Stackhouse.”
“I’m sorry Sheriff; I do not think I heard you correctly. Did you say Stackhouse?” For the first time in all the years I have known him, the demon lawyer sounds ruffled. That instantly has me on edge. What could the demon lawyer know about the Stackhouse family?
“Yes, I said Stackhouse. Is there a problem Cataliades?”
“I think it would be best if we spoke in person Sheriff Northman. Would it be possible to discuss this tomorrow evening?”
I agree; tomorrow is Monday and the bar will be closed. Usually I attend to Area Five matters, but hearing the unease in the lawyer’s voice has me canceling all of my appointments for tomorrow. Anything urgent Pam will handle, though I doubt there will be. My area runs like a well-oiled machine; the majority of area business consists of paperwork. Those that live in my area are here because I am a fair overseer with few rules. However, that does not mean I am lax in enforcing my duties; I am quite ruthless with those that cross me.
My conversation with the lawyer ends shortly after establishing the time and place for our meeting. With nothing else to delay me from entering my bar, I leave my office with a curse and vamp to my throne. As soon as I sit down, the desperate humans in my bar begin vying for my attention and it is sickening.
For my daytime rest, I chose to stay in my home closest to Fangtasia. I was not scheduled to meet with Cataliades until ten, but I did not want to waste time traveling to the bar. I woke at my normal time before sunset and used the time to check email and the daily reports from my various enterprises. My parent corporation, Norra Mark Industries, is looking to diversify its interests with online businesses. Social media has become a billion dollar industry and I want a piece of the pie. If he wasn’t protected by Lucia, I would glamour that Zuckerberg kid to make Facebook public!
Before I leave my house, I drain several bags of blood. I do not know how long this meeting will last, and something tells me I will need every bit of strength this night. I had considered calling Godric with my worries, but I didn’t. I may be a thousand-year old vampire but I still value my maker’s opinion, and I know that his opinion of this situation will not be favorable.
Taking to the sky, it only takes a few minutes for me to land on the roof of Fangtasia where I used the rooftop entrance to enter my building. I know I am early, but I want to have every advantage that I possibly can over this meeting. I walk down the stairs to the main floor of the bar, heading towards my office.
“Viking, will you tell me why you are trying to claim my great-grandchildren as your pets?”