The journey through the night led the trio through the orchard into a denser forest. The foliage of the trees was so dense that the light from the moon was completely blocked out. Dense bramble covered the forest floor, yet none crossed onto the path of the yellow brick road. Alcide took the lead, using his heightened senses to ensure the pathway was safe to travel. Sookie walked after him and Jason brought up the rear. The path through the forest resulted in another one of Sookie’s would-be love interests joining their group.
Oh great, Sookie thought. As if things weren’t fucked up enough, we find John Quinn cowering in the woods. Why wouldn’t there be a Cowardly Lion, or tiger rather, on this trip? And why is it that I am seeing nearly every damn romantic option I’ve had in my life except for the one I want to see the most? I appreciate all the help I can get, especially since it’s dark out, I have no idea where I am going, and I have no idea how I am going to save Eric. And if that isn’t enough, Appius Livius Ocella is alive. Undead. Fuck, you know what I mean! I mean why wouldn’t he be here? I saw Gran again so why wouldn’t I see everyone that’s died because of me? The next thing you know I’m gonna find Rene Lanier waiting for me.
Just fucking perfect.
Quinn was just as bad as Sam, telling Sookie she is stupid for getting involved with vampires. At least Sam wasn’t thinking Sookie was used goods and a fangbanging whore. It took every ounce of willpower Sookie possessed to not tell Quinn to take a long walk off a short pier. The group doesn’t need his kind of negativity around. Plus, Sookie and Alcide are not sure Quinn can be trusted. He’s betrayed Sookie before to protect his family. How do they know he isn’t doing the same damn thing now? Unfortunately, the fear of the unknown is what prompted Sookie and Alcide to take Quinn with them instead of leaving him to chase his tail in the forest. Jason, despite having met Quinn at his wedding to Crystal, introduced himself to the bald brawler as if they’d never met and as if he hadn’t fucked his sister over before.
“Sook, I see a city up ahead,” Jason calls out excitedly which pulls her from her ruminations. Sookie raises her head to look at the city at the end of the yellow brick road. She gasps in surprise when she sees a city that sparkles in the darkness. It looks like diamonds shining in the light. The light is pure white, not the multicolored LED or neon lights that define most cities. Sookie can’t even see the buildings in the city because of the blindingly white sparkles.
“It’s so shiny,” Jason says with awe. “I betcha they got sumthin’ to eat down there. Let’s go!”
Alcide and Quinn grab Jason by the arms so he can’t run off. He looks at them in exasperation. “What the fuck you two? I am starvin’ and I know there is food in that fuckin’ city. So why the hell are we still standin’ here with our bellies makin’ more noise than a pig at the slop pile?”
Alcide grips Jason’s arm more tightly. “We don’t know what’s in that city. How do we know if it’s friendly or not? It could be a trap,” he warns cautiously.
Jason shakes his head and rips his arm away from Quinn’s grasp. He points at the town with two fingers. “My Gran told Sook to follow the yellow brick road. The road goes straight to the city. Ain’t no way Gran would tell Sookie to follow that road if it was going to get her in trouble!”
“He’s right,” Sookie says while staring at the city. “The road goes through the heart of that city. Whatever that place is, we have to go there.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea, Babe,” Quinn interjects. Sookie rolls her eyes at the name she once found endearing. “We should go around the city, avoid any trouble that might be waiting for us in there.”
Sookie’s eyes widen while listening to Quinn’s uninspired words of wisdom. She turns her head to look back towards the forest from where they came. “I don’t think we need to worry about the trouble in the city. Trouble’s comin’ up behind us quickly. I feel at least three voids.”
Alcide and Quinn growl as they turn to face the forest. The smell of vampires finally reaches their noses. Jason turns around to look cluelessly in the direction from which they came.
“What is it?”
“Vampires,” Alcide growls in a deeper voice, not sounding entirely human. Quinn shifts to his tiger form, roaring loudly as he paws at the ground in anticipation. The air shimmers around Alcide as he begins to shift.
“Run!” His single word command turns into a howl as he regains his wolf shape. The wolf and the tiger race towards the two vampires, closing the distance between them and their incoming foes.
“C’mon!” Jason pulls Sookie with him towards the city. His slightly longer legs giving him an advantage as he pulls in front of his sister. He runs at full speed, arms pumping furiously trying to help give him speed. Sookie runs quickly, glancing back over her shoulder. Alcide and Quinn are fighting against Victor Madden and Felipe de Castro. The two vampires seem to be toying with the two Weres. The vampires are circling around the Weres, preventing the animals from getting closer to Sookie and Jason. The vampires aren’t attacking their two-natured opponents. If anything, the vampires are taking more of a defensive stance, acting like goalies as they keep their opponents out of the crease and away from their objective. Why aren’t the vampires killing their adversaries? Against younger vampires, Alcide and Quinn stand a chance of winning, but combined Madden and de Castro are over a thousand years old. It doesn’t make sense.
Sookie felt three voids. Where is the third vampire? Her head swivels around to face forward and she skids to a halt as Jason shouts to her in warning. Further in front of them is the third vampire with a sinister grin on his face as his fangs glisten threateningly in the moonlight.
“Hello, Sookeh,” Bill Compton utters in his dark voice. Once upon a time, Sookie found his voice sexy and mysterious. Now it makes her cringe in revulsion.
“Bill, what are you doin’ here?”
“I’m here to protect you, sweetheart. I’ve always had your best interests at heart,” Bill offers in a cajoling tone.
Sookie emphatically shakes her head in denial as Jason edges back towards his sister. Once Jason reaches Sookie, he keeps her behind him to protect her as best he can. Sookie struggles to get around her brother to confront Bill, but Jason’s thoughts directed at her keep Sookie behind him.
Trust me, Sook. He won’t hurt you anymore! Just stall him a bit.
How the hell is Jason going to prevent Bill from hurting her? She has no idea what the two cells in Jason’s brain have cooked up, but she obliges her brother. “Bill, you and I both know that you’ve only ever had your best interests at heart! If you really loved me, you never would have had me beaten! You never would have planned to give me to Sophie-Anne! You wouldn’t have pensioned me off to Eric when you returned to Lorena! I can honestly say the only time you ever had my best interests at heart was when I was attacked by the fairies. If you care about what’s best for me, then you’ll help me save Eric,” Sookie pleads.
Bill’s expression darkens. “Eric is no good for you, Sookie. You need to let him go. I can protect you. We can be together again; it will be like it was before all the ugliness happened between us. We will leave Louisiana, start over somewhere new,” Bill offers in a beseeching tone.
Sookie’s lips curl in disgust. She scoffs, “Let me guess, Las Vegas?”
Bill nods as he moves closer. “Of course. The king wants you close by. We will be valued members of his court. He has promised that we can be together as we were always meant to be together.”
Before Sookie can protest, Jason answers for her. “Ain’t no fuckin’ way my sister ever wants to be with your lying ass again! She ain’t moving to Las Vegas with you or anyone else! She’s stayin’ in Louisiana where she belongs with her family and friends!”
Bill vamps in front of the elder Stackhouse sibling and uses his superior strength to throw the bumbling idiot out of his way. Jason flails through the air before landing in a heap about twenty yards away. A pitiful whimper and the sound of crunching bones comes from behind Sookie. She glanced quickly behind her shoulder and sees that Quinn is down on the ground, his striped fur now a deep crimson red from the gashes on his sides. Alcide is struggling to remain upright; his right front leg cannot support his weight. The two vampires are no longer concerned about their two-natured foes. They are closing the distance between Bill and her. Sookie’s head swings back when Bill grabs her by the shoulders, pulling her closer to him. She struggles in vain to free herself as Bill pulls her body flush against his. Fear spreads like ice through her veins as she feels his erection pressing against her and his fangs seem to have gotten bigger as he lowers his head to her neck.
“We will be together again,” Bill whispers hungrily as he tongues Sookie’s flesh in preparation for his bite.
“Bill, please don’t do this,” Sookie begs desperately. She fights him with everything she has, but it does no good. She feels the coolness of his breath on her skin, the wetness of his tongue as it swipes her skin.
Eric, please save me! Sookie frantically screams in her mind and through the bond she shares with Eric for him to save her as she feels Bill’s mouth widen as he prepares to bite her.
Just as the tips of Bill’s fangs make contact with Sookie’s neck, she feels him stiffen against her. Sookie screams as she feels Bill’s body explode against hers, covering her from head to toe in his blood. She looks down in shock to see a wooden stake jutting up from the vampire remains covering the ground. Sookie whips around when she hears two anguished screams fill the air. She gasps in surprise to see de Castro and Madden explode, spraying the fields with blood and guts thanks to the wooden stakes protruding out of their undead hearts.
Who did this? Who was able to best three vampires from such a far distance? Sookie doesn’t feel anyone else in the area, stretching her telepathy as far as it can go. The only minds she feels in the area are those of Jason, Alcide, and Quinn.
Sookie feels a void rapidly approaching her and she whips back around, not sure if this is friend or a foe. At the same time, she hears a popping noise behind her. Spinning on her feet, Sookie finds a small creature near her two fallen friends. Sookie is about to tell the creature to get away from then when she hears a voice coming from the tiny body.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, little girl. I’m here to help them, not hurt them,” the voice declares authoritatively.
“Dr. Ludwig,” Sookie asks in confusion. “What are you doin’ here?”
“Well I’m not here to tell ghost stories around a campfire and eat s’mores,” the diminutive doctor offers sarcastically as she moves briskly around Quinn’s body. His breathing is labored and he’s resumed his human form. His injuries are too great for him to remain as a tiger. She reaches into the bag she has with her, pulling out a bottle that she quickly unstoppers by pulling the cork out with her teeth. She pours the contents of the bottle on Quinn’s wounds.
“There,” she says with satisfaction. “That should take care of everything. He’ll be good as new by the time we get to our destination. Come here, Wolf, let me see that leg before it heals wrong and we have to break it again.” Dr. Ludwig gestures impatiently for Alcide to move closer to her. Alcide hobbles towards her, and the doctor runs her hands down his injured leg.
Sookie stares at the doctor in bewilderment. “Where the hell are we going? And how the hell did you get here? Do you know who staked the vampires?”
“Calm your tits, Tinkerbell. We’re only here to help,” a familiar snarky voice offers as explanation.
Sookie whirls around, gaping at the vampire in front of her. “Pam? How did you get here? And what are you wearing?”
Sookie is used to Pam in her Fangtasia costumes or looking like the average suburban soccer mom, or even Alice in Wonderland. Hell, she’s even seen Pam dressed like a harem girl from the Middle East. But never in her life did Sookie ever expect to see Pam in white shimmery jumpsuit with a tiara nestled atop her golden tresses.
“What the fuck, Pam?”
Pam rolls her eyes as she places her hands on her hips. “Dear Abby says it’s good manners to say thank you when helped by another person,” she says expectantly.
“Thank you,” Sookie huffs.
“You’re welcome,” Pam purrs. “Now come along.” Pam turns and starts walking away, the sound of her impossibly high silver heels clicking against the golden bricks she walks over.
Sookie runs after Pam. “Where are we goin’? What about them? And where’s Jason?”
“Fangtasia. Dr. Ludwig will make sure your companions meet us there and get all the medical treatment they need,” Pam continues at a clipped pace.
Sookie falls into step beside Pam. “Are you the one that staked Bill?”
“Yes,” Pam utters with satisfaction and a smirk on her lips.
Sookie opens her mouth to ask more questions, but Pam stops her with a raised hand and spins to face her telepathic friend. “Save the questions for later, my favorite breather. We need to get you cleaned up. You look good enough to eat covered in blood,” Pam replied with a shudder and licks one of her fangs. Her eyes move over Sookie hungrily and her eyes settle on Sookie’s chest. “You’ve got vampire in your cleavage. Allow me.”
Pam reaches her hand forward, her manicured nails close to the swell of Sookie’s breasts. Before Pam can touch what she desires, a large pale hand grabs her.
“Mine,” Eric growls in warning to his errant progeny.
Pam huffs in annoyance as Eric flings her hand away from Sookie. She p0uts, “Why do you get to have all the fun?”
Eric smirks at his progeny before turning to Sookie. The smirk drops from his face to be replaced with a look of pure yearning.