“Another woman has died and this is the first I am hearing of it? Explain. Now,” I command through clenched teeth.
“Not a woman, though the victim was female. It was the Stackhouses’ cat,” Pam says in a flat tone.
“A cat?” I didn’t know they had a pet. “Why do you say it was murdered?”
“The animal’s throat was slit and it was hung from the ceiling fan in the foyer. The fan’s rotation splattered blood all over the walls, floor, and stairs. Herveaux and his crew cleaned everything up though the wallpaper was beyond saving. They have ripped that down.”
“Who discovered the animal?”
“Dawson; early this morning. He’s been staying on the property, packing up their possessions so none of the others would go through their things. The dead cat isn’t all the killer left,” Pam says reluctantly.
“What else?” I feel helpless sitting in my hotel room several hundred miles away from where I am needed. This killer still attacks, going so far as to slay an animal to prove the point that he will stop at nothing to get what he wants.
And he wants Sookie.
That is not an option.
“The killer wrote, ‘You’re next,’ on the wall in blood. Dawson called me as soon as he discovered everything. I have pictures to document the scene. We tried to track the intruder’s smell, but it disappeared in the woods. It’s definitely human and a male,” Pam says with disgust. She’s hiding something; I can feel it in our bond.
“What aren’t you telling me?”
Pam sighs. “You should take Sookie shopping while you’re there. She’s in need of a new wardrobe.”
“Why? This has to be something more than your disgust at clothing bought off the rack. What are you hiding?”
“The killer was also in Sookie’s room,” Pam says quietly, no hint of sarcasm or artifice in her voice. “He destroyed many of her things and then masturbated on her bed. She’s not going to want to keep anything that he’s touched. It’s another way to make her feel violated.” My progeny’s voice holds a note of empathy. As a human, Pam knew all too well how it felt to be violated by a man. That is part of the reason she prefers women for her sexual partners; outside of Dawson, I think it has been decades, probably since the sixties, since she has been with a man.
Rage sweeps through me; it is boiling hot, dark, and vengeful. But there is another emotion just as strong that moves insides me: fear. What if Sookie had been in her bed asleep? Would I have been able to get there in time to save her? I know the answer to that is a resounding no. I would have been too late; I would have felt her life fade away until the connection between us snapped like a twig. My mouth opens to draw in air though I have no need to breathe.
I could have lost Sookie for good.
Pain the likes of which I have never known radiates out from my chest. It is worse than any silver I’ve felt, burns more strongly than the sun’s rays, and is far more dangerous than a stake to the heart. The feeling is crippling, stronger than any pain I’ve felt when something has happened to Godric or Pam. It suffocates me.
This doesn’t make any sense. Does this mean I feel the pull to make Sookie my next child?
I must ask Godric what the pull feels like; he was drawn to me. While I adore my progeny, I was not compelled to make her a vampire. I did so because I did not like the alternative; to let her bleed out on a brothel floor. Not once have I regretted my decision, though I did come close once in the seventies. Pam tricked me into wearing a leisure suit and getting a perm. I can’t believe I fell for that one.
Forcing myself back to the task at hand, I tell Pam to have the contractors begin working on Sookie’s room. I will not tell her everything the killer did in her room; she doesn’t need that image to terrorize her. Unfortunately, I have to tell both Stackhouses that the killer vandalized their home and killed their pet.
When I ask Pam if the local authorities were called, she sneers with contempt. “Dawson reported the crime. The police officer on duty, Detective Andy Bellefleur, said they weren’t animal control. PETA or the ASPCA were his suggestions,” she hisses.
“Idiot,” I snarl. I know Dawson; he wouldn’t have tolerated that response. “How much did it cost to bail Dawson out of jail?” I know the Were well; he would have gone down to the police station to beat that public servant to do his bidding. Knowing Tray, he probably did a fair amount of damage to the bumbling buffoon that passes for authority in that town before he was somehow subdued. I’ll have to bring Tray back a nice present from Dallas. As for the detective, he won’t be able to guard a dumpster behind the Piggly Wiggly by the time I’m through with him. As much as I would love to see Detective Bellefleur’s punishment myself, I think I’ll turn this one over to the AVL. Let Nan Flanagan sink her teeth in him. That bitch needs to be good for something.
“He’s still in jail? Why haven’t you used glamour to get him out?”
“Herveaux took care of it actually. He did it in the most ingenious of ways,” Pam says with a note of admiration. “He took some of his crew to the Shifter’s bar for lunch. They may have let it slip in front of the good people of Bon Temps that the killer vandalized the Stackhouse home, murdered their pet, and the local police were doing nothing. Dawson said there was such an outcry at the police station from all the protestors that the sheriff had no choice but to let Dawson go.”
Pam’s tone is impressed with Herveaux’s ingenuity. This good deed does not erase his negligence when it came to keeping an eye on the male Stackhouse family member. However, my progeny’s next words may erase Herveaux’s black mark entirely. “The Wolf also called Dr. Ludwig before anyone touched the wreckage in Sookie’s bedroom. Since the police weren’t doing anything, he thought she might be able to use the DNA on the soiled clothing to help identify the killer.” Someone needs to give the dog a bone. I’ll pick one up when I return home; I might even spring for the extra-large size.
“Is Ludwig helping?” Humans are not part of her clientele, but I’m hoping she’ll make an exception for this. I’ll pay whatever amount she wants and make sure she has enough vampire blood for the next year.
“She said it wasn’t her field, but she knew of someone that could help. Ludwig did say she wanted to speak with you when you return. No, she wouldn’t say why,” Pam says with a pout. Nosy brat, always needs to know everything.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Check your email,” Pam says with a smug voice. “I finished typing everything up while we were talking.”
“Good,” I say as I open my email. There are several more pings, alerting me to additional messages. Pam has sent me pictures of the vandalized home, a detailed inventory of the destruction in Sookie’s bedroom, and the preliminary information on Detective Andy Bellefleur. I will send that name to Mustapha; I want to know everything about him. If there are any skeletons in his closet, I want to know about them and expose them. There are also estimates from Herveaux outlining the extra work. Instead of charging me full price, he is doing it for the cost of the materials only.
“Tell Sookie I’m sorry about her cat. Now that you’ve been updated, Dawson and I have some work to do. I’m going to go rattle some cages at the Shifter’s bar, see what shakes loose.” The line goes silent indicating my progeny has ended our conversation. To let her know I am pleased with everything, I push feelings of pride and gratitude through our bond. Pam does not respond, but I feel her preen a little before she settles back down. Turning my attention back to my laptop, there is a lot of information for me to go over, but the more pressing matter now is for me to find Sookie and Adele. They need to know what is happening in Bon Temps. My fingers fly over the keys of my cell phone, sending a text message to my maker asking him to take the Stackhouses to his house. It’s an unfair advantage, but I know that Sookie will be on her best behavior in front of my maker because she doesn’t want to make a bad impression. And I need for her to set aside our differences at the moment and concentrate on the information I need to tell her.
High-handed of me? Yes.
Do I care? No.
Godric confirms that he will take everyone back to his house, saying they are finishing up their historical tour and will return to his place within the hour. That gives me time to go over the information Pam has sent me.
The address Godric texted to me is in a new community that is targeting those considered the millennials. All the houses are constructed of glass and stainless steel; no frills, very angular in terms of design. The community sits behind a high iron gate with security guards at all the entrances. That type of visible security isn’t going to deter any supernatural being from getting inside the community; it’s mainly to keep the humans out. I land on Godric’s street and then run the short distance to his house. Of course, I would have known this was Godric’s even if I didn’t have the address. The collection of motorcycles in the driveway gives it away. My maker has a thing for motorcycles, collecting them for over a hundred years. One of his most prized possessions is a motorcycle from 1894 produced by Hildebrand & Wolfmüller; it is one of the first series production motorcycles. Godric is so in love with this two-wheeled form of transportation that he heavily invested in both Harley-Davidson, Triumph Motorcycles, and BMW in the early half of the twentieth century. He’s never developed a fondness for the “crotch rockets” as people call them, the motorcycles produced by the Japanese companies. He prefers his motorcycles to look intimidating.
Even though I am expected, I still ring the doorbell of Godric’s home. I will not be disrespectful and walk in without announcing my presence. I stiffen in anger when I see who answers the door.
“Good evening Sheriff,” he says respectfully and nods his head.
“Telepath,” I say shortly. I try to brush past him to gain entry to the home, but he stands his ground, blocking my path. My eyebrows raise as my scowl deepens.
“I thought you would like to know that I found a Fellowship of the Sun member with a P.O. Box in Bon Temps. It’s registered to a Drew Marshall,” he states in a business-like tone.
“Duly noted,” I move again to enter the house but he still blocks my way. “Get out of my way,” I enunciate slowly as my fangs click down.
Barry’s eyes widen but his chin rises and he squares his shoulders. “I wanted to ask your permission to take Miss Stackhouse on a date,” he says with a slight smile and blush on his cheeks.
His words make me see red. His blood covering the walls as I disembowel him for his audacity is all I can think about. I lean down so that my face is all he can see. “Sookie Stackhouse is mine! You dare to interfere with a vampire and his pet? Do you have any idea what the punishment is for that? I could kill you now and no one would question me,” I say in a deadly whisper.
Barry clears his throat but does not move otherwise. “With all due respect, sir, Miss Stackhouse would do more than question you if you were to harm me,” he says with an uncomfortable smile that quickly disappears. “I know the circumstances of how she and her family came to be under your protection, and I admire the lengths you are going through to care for the family. But I also know that there is no romantic or physical relationship between you and Miss Stackhouse. She told me that you both agreed it would be for the best if you abstained from such an undertaking.”
My fangs retract with his words, and I straighten up so there is distance between us. “You and Sookie have discussed much in a short period.” My tone is harsh as I contemplate his words. I do not like how close they have become in less than twenty-four hours.
“It’s kinda hard not to when we’re in each other’s heads,” he says with a quick smile. He and Sookie are alike in that they use a smile to cover their discomfort in situations. I know Barry is afraid of me; I can smell his fear. However, his fear does not make his blood more appealing to me. Because he is part Dae, his blood takes on a sour smell because of his fear. Some of my kind view Dae blood as a delicacy, something to give the blood more spice and heat.
I’d rather drink formaldehyde.
But his words make me pause. He’s right; Sookie and I did agree to refrain from complicating matters between us any further than what they are. Since we’ve come to that agreement, I’ve fed and fucked from over a dozen women. I’m sure Sookie knows that I haven’t been celibate even if I haven’t flaunted it in her face. Up until tonight, things were going well between us, and I know I am to blame for the setback. Yes, Sookie is my pet, but I have no desire to make her fulfill the traditional role of a pet. So if I am not going to fuck her, am I going to prevent others from doing so? Am I really such a selfish bastard that I’ll keep Sookie from seeing others? She wants love, a husband, and a family of her own. Am I really going to keep that from her?
“I do not think it wise for you to date Sookie while you are spying on the Fellowship of the Sun.” Barry looks crestfallen at my words but nods his head once in understanding before stepping out of the way to let me in the house. I take a few steps inside, allowing Barry to close the door behind me. My head turns slightly so that I am looking back over my shoulder. The part Dae telepath slumps against the door, dejection sitting heavily on his shoulders.
“Perhaps once your work finishes with the Fellowship you can come visit Sookie in Louisiana. I am certain she would enjoy your company.” It feels like I am swallowing shards of glass as I say those words or that bile is rising up from my stomach. What makes my misery even worse is the look of absolute joy on Barry’s face as the meaning of my words sinks in. I hate to admit it, but he genuinely is interested in Sookie and seems to care about her very much.
“Thank you Sheriff,” Barry says to me gratefully. He shouldn’t be grateful to me yet, I still want to slaughter him. And he needs to understand that there will be consequences if he hurts Sookie.
“I don’t care who you are related to. If you hurt her in any way, I promise you they will never be able to find a trace of your body,” I warn him before turning back down the hallway using my sense of smell to guide me to my maker.
Everyone is gathered in the living room. All conversation stops when I enter the room. I nod respectfully to Godric before moving to sit across from the Stackhouse women. Sookie’s look is glacial and her posture is rigid due to my presence. Adele looks between her granddaughter and me with concern, baffled by the sudden rift between us.
Adele demands, “What’s going on between you two?”
“Ask my master,” Sookie hisses angrily.
Adele looks shocked at Sookie’s words. “For land’s sake child, what on earth are you talking about?”
“She’s referring to the fight we had earlier where I said something I never should have. I was angry and lorded it over Sookie’s head that I am her master and she is my pet. I regret it, and I apologize” I say honestly as I look at Sookie.
“Do you think that an apology will magically fix everything?” Sookie’s cheeks flush with anger and her hands are fisted in her lap. She’s shaking with the force of her fury. All of her emotions are hitting me like a battering ram: anger, pain, hurt, and disappointment. I hate that I am the one to cause her to feel like this. I hate even more that I am adding to her burden.
“No I don’t,” I tell her quickly. “And we will talk about it in depth later, but I have disturbing news from Pam.”
“What is it? Is it Jason? Is he OK?” Sookie fires her questions at me rapidly. She and Adele clutch each other’s hands, bracing for me to tell them the worst.
“Jason is fine,” I reassure them. “He is still being held by the police, but I feel they will release him soon given what happened today.”
“What did happen today?” Adele’s voice trembles as she questions me.
“The killer vandalized your home,” I say quietly. “He also killed your pet,” I add as gently as possible.
“Oh my God! Tina!” Sookie cries for her slaughtered animal while Adele’s skin looks ashen with my words.
“Our home? The killer was in our home? What did he do?”
“Adele I’d rather not tell you anymore.”
“We have a right to know Eric,” Sookie says angrily.
“Trust me when I say you don’t want to know,” I caution her. Her inability to be glamoured is damned inconvenient at a time like this.
Sookie opens her mouth to argue with me, but Adele stops her. “Sookie dear, it must be truly horrible if Mr. Northman doesn’t want to tell us. Knowledge isn’t always power; sometimes it’s a deadly weapon.”
The granddaughter gives her grandmother an incredulous look and pulls her hands out of the elder woman’s grasp. “I need some air,” Sookie says as she walks to the door that leads to the patio and pool. My eyes watch as Sookie moves with agitation outside until she finally stands at the edge of the pool with her arms wrapped tightly around herself. I rise from my seat with the intention of going outside to comfort her, but my maker’s voice stops me.
“The last person she will accept comfort from this evening is you,” Godric says gently. I know he is right, but that doesn’t mean I like it. Rather than sit down again, I move towards the wall of windows, intent on keeping my eyes on Sookie. If she needs me, I will go to her; my maker’s words be damned.
The room is silent for several minutes and I continue to monitor Sookie’s emotions through our tie. Grief, fear, and distress are the overwhelming emotions coming from her. The tie with Adele lets me know that she is feeling numb. I turn back around to look at her, suddenly worried for her health. All of the strain of the last few days cannot be good for her at her age.
As if he is the telepath, Godric vamps in front of Adele, startling her with his sudden nearness. “Adele I think it would be best if you go back to the hotel. Mustapha and Warren will take you. You need to lie down,” he says gently. When Adele looks to me for guidance, I nod my head in agreement. Mustapha and Warren are by Adele’s side in an instant, helping her from the couch and leading her out of the house.
I return my gaze to Sookie and I tense when I see Barry has joined her outside. He has put his arms around her and she leans against his body in relief. My hands curl into fists seeing Sookie finding comfort in the arms of another. Her small frame is shaking, letting me know that she is crying against him. It should be me out there comforting her.
“I overheard your conversation with Barry earlier,” Godric says drawing my attention away from the hybrid couple outside. “You surprise me, letting someone else court Sookie.”
“Why is that?” My eyes widen in horror as I see Barry pull back from Sookie. He brings his hands up to cup her face, wiping the tears from her cheeks. Barry smiles gently at Sookie before lowering his head so that his lips brush against hers.
“Because you love her,” Godric says as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
Sookie’s arms move from around Barry’s waist to wrapping around his neck, pulling him closer to her so she can deepen the kiss. The pain I’d felt earlier at the thought of losing Sookie returns tenfold.
“I wish you’d told me sooner,” I say brokenly as I stare at the lovers who continue their embrace.