“Sookie wake up! Lover, open your eyes; I’ve got you!” Eric’s comforting, strong voice breaks through my horrific dream. My eyes snap open and I’m looking wildly around the room though I am not really seeing anything. Eric has a firm grasp on my shoulders, trying to keep me from thrashing about. However my legs are fighting to free me from their cotton prison beneath the sheets. I am panting like a rabid animal and my heart still races inside my chest.
Eric sends me calm, reassurance, and love through the bond, helping my physical and emotional states return to normal. He releases his hold on my shoulders to brush the damp tendrils of hair off my sweat-slickened skin. “Lover it was just a dream,” he croons when my breathing returns to normal.
“No it wasn’t Eric; it was a warning,” I tell him as I push out of bed. I need a minute alone, so I lock myself in the bathroom. Turning the nozzles on the sink, I splash water on my face to rinse away the residual sweat and tears. There is a bitter metallic taste in my mouth so I brush my teeth with vigor and then rinse with mouthwash. Looking at myself in the mirror, I realize that I don’t recognize the woman looking back at me. The woman in the mirror looks defeated, like she has given up. She looks afraid; she looks victimized. This isn’t who I am; I am a fighter; I am a survivor. I am Sookie Stackhouse goddamnit! I fear no one . . . especially with my mate by my side!
Opening the door of the bathroom, Eric is standing right there, worry shadowing his eyes. “Are you alright?”
“I am now,” I confirm. Fairy Sookie is in full control and she’s ready to kick some ass.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“In my dream, Tara and Sam met me in the cemetery of Bon Temps to tell me that Bill is coming for me. He won’t be alone. I don’t know who could be helping him. His maker’s dead,” I say with deep satisfaction. “He didn’t have what you would call friends. Bill could force Jessica to do his bidding, but that’s all I can think of,” I say with frustration.
“Compton was good at keeping his allies hidden. I never knew he had sided with Nan until he became King of Louisiana,” Eric tells me. “And do not count out him siding with others that have a similar condition to his. News of the cure may not have spread to everyone.”
“Well that’s just fucking peachy,” I say sarcastically. I’ve stripped off my soaked shirt and slipped into an old Bon Temps High School shirt.
“I have fond memories of that shirt,” Eric smiles softly as he presses a kiss to my head and wraps me up in his embrace.
“Has Pam come back yet?” I let my vampire’s touch remove the last vestiges of my nightmare and focus on more pressing matters.
“No Lover. I don’t expect her back tonight. She needs time alone.” His voice has an edge of melancholia and I squeeze him tightly so he knows I am here for him.
“Did Jason stop by?”
“No. Was he supposed to?”
“Did he call?” Since all this shit started with the Hep V vampires, Jason and I have made it a point to keep in contact with each other so neither of us will worry. When Eric answers negatively again, I push out of his arms and begin searching for my cell phone. Having ascertained my phone is not in the bedroom, I go downstairs to search the living room and kitchen. I don’t remember the last time I used it. Knowing my luck, the battery’s dead.
“Are you well Sookie? I heard your nightmare.” Godric appears at the bottom of the stairs, startling me.
“Oh, hi Godric; I’m fine thank you.” I brush past him looking around the living room for my phone. “You haven’t seen my cell phone have you?” A search of the couch questions, tables, and mantle do not show my phone. I head to the dining room thinking it might be underneath the papers that are spread over it. I need Lojack on my damn phone.
“Lafayette found it earlier and plugged it in to charge. It is in the kitchen.” With a grateful smile, I thank him and run to the room. My phone is on the counter, fully charged, but there are no text message or missed calls. Dammit Jason!
Pressing his name on my contact list, I listen impatiently as my brother’s stilted voice comes on saying his name and if it’s an emergency to dial 911 and ask for him. “Jason Corbett Stackhouse you are in deep trouble for not lettin’ me know you’re alright! If I find out you forgot to call your sister because you were too busy dipping your wick in an available ink pot, you’re gonna get a beatin’ that makes the time you sank Hoyt’s daddy’s fishing boat look like a slap on the wrist!” I end the call and grunt in frustration.
“Lover have you tried Jessica?” Eric and Godric are watching me from the entrance to the kitchen. They may look nothing alike, but their stances and expression are the same. Like maker, like progeny. . .
Scrolling through my contact list again, I press Jessica’s name. She answers on the second ring. “Hey Sookie.”
“Hey Jess. Is Jason with you?”
“Nope. He called earlier, but that was all. He was upset that he had to call Hoyt today to let him know about his momma. Hoyt’s gonna come back to Bon Temps; he should be here tomorrow. Jason seemed real upset so we talked for a while. I know he was home when he called me. Is everything alright? Has something happened?” Jessica ends her rambling monologue with a hint of panic creeping in her voice.
“Everything’s fine,” I reassure her. “Jason forgot to call me. I’m sure he started drinkin’ and thinkin’ about Hoyt. He probably passed out on his couch.” I tell her good-bye and hang up. I’m not in the mood for a long-winded conversation about nothing. She hasn’t yet mastered the vampiric characteristic of short, to the point conversations.
“Niall told me that many of the Fae receive premonitions in their dreams,” Godric says once I’m off the phone. “Was your dream really a dream or was it a vision?”
“It was a warning,” I answer as I sink down in one of the kitchen chairs. “Sam and Tara came to me. They said Bill is coming for me. He wants to isolate me from everyone and keep me as his slave. It’s not like this is new information to any of us,” I say as I slump forward and put my head on the table.
“You also said Bill will be bringing others with him,” Eric adds as he rubs at the tension in my shoulders. His touch feels so good on my weary body.
“All of our contacts are looking for Compton,” Godric reassures me. “An associate has frozen his assets so he has no access to his money. I have instructed David to set aside some of Compton’s money in a trust for Miss Hamby. The rest has been divided among various charities to help victims of domestic violence in your name Sookie.”
I smile softly at Godric. “How much money are we talkin’?”
“Nearly a hundred million,” Godric says with a negligible shrug.
Will there ever come a time in my life when I think of a hundred million dollars as chump change? I thought ten thousand dollars had a lot of zeros, but a hundred million . . . My awe soon shifts to anger. Bill had all that fucking money and never bothered to fix up his house . . . never offered to help me fix up mine after the maenad . . . never offered to do anything for me really. Fucking asshole!
Eric continues to work the tense muscles in my shoulders and Godric seems to go in down time. I’m starting to nod off again when I hear two sets of fangs drop down. My eyes snap open but I don’t see what they are reacting to. I soon have the answer when a knock at the front door has all our heads whipping around. “Human,” Eric hisses.
At this time of night? Listening to their thoughts, I hear nothing, only static. Whoever it is has been glamoured. I can only think of one vampire that would send a glamoured human here: Bill.
Peeking through the living room curtains, I see Lettie Mae in her Sunday best except for the amount of blood soaking her dress. “She’s been glamoured,” I whisper in horror. Who’s blood is she covered in?
Lettie Mae continues to bang on the door, pleading for me to let her in. The three of us do nothing as her screams and banging on the door become louder and louder. This is a trap; we don’t know why she is here. Stretching my telepathy to the furthest of my ability, I detect no one else outside, but that doesn’t mean Lettie Mae is alone. I’m not so proud that I think my telepathy is foolproof.
All the noise has roused Lafayette from his slumber. He listens to her screams from the stairs, but makes no move to open the door. Lafayette, like the rest of us, is unsure what to do.
“Lafayette?” My calling his name brings his attention to me.
“She crazy Sook. Lettie Mae makes my momma look sane, and Ruby Jean was madder than a march fucking hare. The kind thing to do would be to put her outta her misery,” he says wearily. He trudges back up the stairs, turning his back on his last living family member. Lafayette may have washed his hands of Lettie Mae, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see her die.
Eric and Godric look to be communicating silently. For once, I don’t know what everyone’s thinkin’ and I don’t like it! “What’s the plan? I don’t sense anyone else out there with her. What should we do?”
“Do as she wants,” Godric says. Before I can argue, he continues. “Eric and I will neutralize any threat she may possess. We need to know her purpose. Compton obviously sent her, but the question is why.”
Her screaming for me to let her in and pounding on the door are relentless. With Eric beside me, I cautiously move towards the front door. “What do you want Lettie Mae? It’s awfully late for a social visit,” I holler through the door.
“I need to talk to you Sookie Stackhouse. Somethin’ awful’s happened,” she cries out.
“So talk; I can hear you just fine through the door.”
“I can’t do that. We need to talk face to face. I ain’t gonna hurt you. I brought a present for you.” Lettie Mae releases a horrible scream and falls to the porch floor. I look at Eric worriedly but he cautiously opens the front door. A pissed off Godric stands over Lettie Mae’s bound and prone body. Using a pair of gloves, he took the heavy silver chains from the cubby and wrapped them around her legs and hands. Godric hoists her body like she is weightless, despite her wriggling around, trying to free herself from his iron grip. Godric takes her to the kitchen, sitting her in one of the chairs. He secures her wrists behind her back and adds another chain around her torso to keep her confined to the chair.
Eric stands in front of Lettie Mae, the cold Viking Vampire firmly in place. “What do you want Lettie Mae?”
“I ain’t talkin’ to you fanger,” Lettie Mae says with hostility. “I only wanna talk to Sookie.”
Eric growls though he moves back so Lettie Mae can see me. Her expression changes to a smile and she honestly looks happy to see me. “Hi Sookie.”
“Hello Lettie Mae. Why did you come to my house so late at night?”
“I told you,” she says childlike. “I wanted to talk to ya.”
“What about Lettie Mae? You said it was something awful.”
“It is,” she says solemnly and her expression changes from one of happiness to pure maliciousness. “You’ve been a wicked woman,” she says venomously. “You’ve turned your back on the man you love. You will suffer for your disloyalty,” she finishes coldly.
“I haven’t betrayed anyone,” I say firmly. “I love Eric. I am his!”
“NO! It’s because you’ve been a whore and given yourself to those unworthy of you that you will be punished. It’s why you lost your Gran and why Tara was taken away from you. It’s going to be why you will lose your brother too. Everyone you love will be taken from you until you are all alone,” she finishes coldly.
My heart stops and I sway on my feet. Eric steadies me with his hands, but I shrug him off. “What about Jason, Lettie Mae? Have you done something to him?”
She smiles as serenely as an angel. “I told you I brought you a present. Look in my bag.” Godric vamps outside to get the bag she dropped. He returns slowly to the room, looking inside her bag cautiously.
“What is it?” Eric and I are both highly agitated given Godric’s lack of response. He takes the items out of the bag, placing them on the kitchen table. There are three items in all. The first is a cell phone I have never seen before. The second is a woman’s high heeled shoe. I do not know why she brought me this, but I recognize the third item.
“Why do you have my grandfather’s pocket watch?” I had given that to Jason when I returned from the Fae realm. Our grandfather asked me to give it to Jason right before he died.
“So you would know that we have your brother,” Lettie Mae says darkly.
I close my eyes and fight the tears that threaten to fall because of her words. My eyes open, blazing with anger. “So what does the shoe mean?”
“Pam,” Eric says quietly. “They have Pam. Those were the shoes she was wearing earlier tonight.” Lettie Mae starts laughing hysterically as Godric, Eric, and I stare at each other in horror.
Lettie Mae continues to cackle as I try to control my rage. It is my fault that Compton has Pam. I should have insisted that someone go with her, but I wanted to give her time alone to deal with everything she is feeling. My foolishness may cost me my beloved progeny.
Godric has tried to glamour the human to stop talking, but she is resisting his glamour. I do not understand how that is possible; other than Sookie, I have never known a mortal to be able to resist glamour. And there is something off about the woman’s smell. She smells of vampire blood, but she does not smell of Compton.
“Eric,” Sookie’s voice pulls me out of my musings. “Do you remember when I tried to push through Ginger’s glamour to find out who the thief was?”
“You want to try the same thing with her. Sookie are you sure? You have no idea what horrors Compton has had her commit while under his influence.” I do not want her to have to see what lies in this sick woman’s mind. Never have I hated the fact that my bonds with my progeny have been severed due to my fiery episode in Sweden. When we come through this, I will find a way to reestablish the bonds with my progeny as I have reestablished my bond with Sookie. I will consult the most powerful magical beings if I have to; I will do whatever it takes. I never want to be stuck in this position of worrying without knowing what is going on.
“Eric I have to try,” Sookie says desperately. “We need to know what they are planning.” I reluctantly nod and move a chair close to the black woman for Sookie to sit in. Sookie sits down as Godric loosens one of the chains securing our hostage’s wrist. He sets her hand on the table and Sookie clasps it tightly with her own.
I stare without blinking as I watch my lover’s face scrunch up tight in concentration. Before, when I had watched her do this, she needed to ask Ginger questions to prompt her along. However, Sookie remains silent this time. Tara’s mother’s chuckles stop over time. Sookie’s eyes remain closed as she fights her way through the glamour inside Lettie Mae’s mind. I push strength and comfort through our bond, trying to help Sookie anyway I can. I have no idea what she is seeing in Lettie Mae’s mind; Sookie has not spoken and she is giving nothing away in our bond. Minutes pass, seconds ticking by slowly as my agitation rises at the thought of my child and Sookie’s brother in Compton’s hands. I am fascinated as Lettie Mae’s eyes lose the lifeless glaze that had been present when she arrived to be replaced with eyes widened in horror and fear. Sookie eventually releases her arm and sits back in the chair; she is whiter than a vampire. The tethered woman begins sobbing, begging for forgiveness, asking for the Lord to strike her down for her sins.
“We were wrong,” she begins in a shaky voice. “Bill isn’t the one that glamoured her. It was his progeny . . . Sarah Newlin.”
“What do you mean Sarah Newlin is Compton’s progeny?” How is that even possible? She is the most hunted being on the planet, wanted by both the human and supernatural races for her crimes. If there is something I regret it is that I did not make sure her death at Vamp Camp. I should have sought her out, just as I had sought out Overlark. How is it she survived the massacre?
“Lettie Mae, when did your master begin visiting you?” Sookie ignores my question to instead question the sobbing woman. “Lettie Mae, I need you to focus,” Sookie orders gently.
“I can’t,” Lettie Mae sobs in anguish. “Imma horrible person! I killed my husband and my baby girl! The devil done took me over again. Imma burn in hell! Jesus why didn’t you save me?” Lettie Mae’s voice cracks as her wails begin anew, fluids leaking from her eyes, nose, and mouth. The expression ugly crier comes to mind.
Sookie lets go of the woman’s arm and rises from her chair, stumbling to the living room. She collapse in a heap on the couch, clearly drained. “Lettie Mae killed Reverend Daniels tonight; that’s whose blood she is covered in. He followed Lettie Mae when she left the house tonight and found her meeting with Sarah Newlin. Lettie Mae stabbed him several times because he fired a gun at Sarah,” Sookie whispers in horror as tears fall from her eyes. She curls in the fetal position as she continues. “Sarah is actually the one to abduct Jason. The damn fool responded to Lettie Mae’s 911 call about her husband’s murder. He didn’t even realize Lettie Mae called his cell phone and not 911,” Sookie mutters with a shake of her head at her brother’s foolishness.
“How did they take Pam?” Godric asks Sookie in his measured, calm voice. How can he be so calm? My child is in the hands of that psychopath and his twisted progeny. Who knows what sick perversions the two of them have come up with?
“I don’t know how they got Pam; I don’t even know where they are,” Sookie admits in defeat. I can’t stand to see her like this; it’s as if all the fire has left her again. Scooping her up in my arms, I settle on the couch with her in my lap, soothing her as best I can. Godric looks at us quietly; his eyes losing focus as he concentrates.
The silence stretches between the three of us as we each get lost in our thoughts. I do not know how he took Pam; there has to be more than Compton and Sarah Newlin. Pam should have been able to easily handle a baby vampire unless she was caught unaware. Lettie Mae’s heartbroken sobs suddenly stop but are instead replaced with ear-piercing screams. With Sookie in my arms, we vamp to the kitchen with Godric beside us. Lettie Mae is actively fighting against her restraints, trying to break free. All she is doing is inflicting more damage to her body.
“Let me go,” she demands. “I have to go! My mistress is calling. I need to go to her; she needs me!” A trickle of blood is falling from Lettie Mae’s nose. I tighten my hold on Sookie to keep her in my arms as I deliver more bad news to her.
“Lover, she’s a Renfield,” I whisper in her ear. “Sarah Newlin has made her a blood slave. She cannot survive without Sarah. If Sarah continues to call her, putting more and more force behind the call, it will end up killing the woman.” It’s a disgusting practice, one Godric and I never practiced. In truth, the only vampire I have ever seen practice this type of mind control was Russell with his wolves. Most vampires would rather use glamour to control humans. Giving a human our blood would enable us to be tracked and that goes against our survival instinct.
“Nothing can be done?” Sookie stares in horror as twin streams of blood flow from the bound woman’s nose. Her heart rate is accelerating, indicating the vampire is increasing the intensity of their call. Lettie Mae is screaming in pain; she will either die of an aneurism or heart attack if this continues. Even if we were to free her, I do not think she will survive. Her mistress is merciless; she wants her to die. Godric, understanding what Sarah Newlin’s intention is, vamps to Lettie Mae and snaps her neck. It is brutal and cruel, but it is more humane than the other option. I lower Sookie’s legs to the floor and she presses her face against my chest as she cries silent tears. The stillness that now settles over the kitchen is electric; the three of us are waiting for what’s next.