The sun was finally setting. I was laying on the couch in the living room, two EMT fretting over me. Gran was in the foyer, talking with Sheriff Dearborn and Detective Bellefleur. Apparently shortly before I made my call to 911, the fax from the Bunkie sheriff department had been found under a pile of paperwork and the good detective and his boss had stormed through Merlotte’s looking for René or Drew Marshall as it was his real identity.
Sam Merlotte and Trey Dawson were out on the porch. Neither of them was talking, but their thoughts? It was incredibly difficult to keep my shields up with that much activity.
“You are sure you don’t want to come with us down to the Parish hospital, Miss?” asked the first EMT.
I nodded, with great difficulty.
“My personal physician will be here shortly…”
My personal physician who was a 6 foot and a half tall vampire with very potent blood.
“You’re sure? You look as if a truck ran you over. You probably have several ribs broken…”
“No, I think they’re just sprained” I lied.
“Alright, then… But if you get worse, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.”
I nodded. I wouldn’t need to go to the ER. As soon as darkness would settle, I would get a good dose of thousand year old blood that would make me as good as new. But I wasn’t going to tell those two EMTs that.
“Sheriff, we are done. The lady refuses to be transported to the ER.”
Sheriff Dearborn, looking as if he had aged 10 years since I had last seen him, looked at Gran, worried.
“Adele… It would be better if…”
“My granddaughter doesn’t want to go to the hospital, Bud Dearborn! If she says she’s okay, then she is!”
“Alright… I know when not to argue with a woman. Do you want us to leave a deputy with you? You might feel safer if…”
“Thank you, but no thanks. We already have Mr. Dawson with us and we will be leaving for Shreveport pretty soon anyway.”
“Waiting for your vampire to rise?”
“So what if we are, Bud Dearborn? Now if you’re done here…”
Reluctantly the old Sheriff said his goodbye and, followed by his detective, went toward the cemetery where the coroner, Mike Spencer, was collecting the body of Drew Marshall… or René Lenier… My head was hurting so much… It was so hard to keep both my thoughts in line and my shields up.
“My poor, poor Sookie!”
“Gran… It’s nothing. I’m okay.”
A car stopped in the driveway and Arlene came barging in the house, followed by Mrs. Fortenberry, her son, Lafayette, Merlotte and Trey.
“Oh my God! Miss Sookie! I’m so, so, so sorry! I didn’t know!”
She fell to her knees, her makeup melting under her tears.
“If only I had… Oh, Miss Sookie…”
She hugged me, sending pains through my body.
“It’s okay Arlene… You couldn’t have known…”
I thanked God for Gran who literally took Arlene off of me and took everybody to the kitchen where she offered everybody a cup of tea.
“Tea ain’t gonna be ‘nough, Mrs. A” said Lafayette. “Where you keep your liquor?”
I closed my eyes and when I opened them next, my brother was kneeling next to me.
“Hey, Sook… You don’t look too good.”
“Jase… Aren’t you supposed to be in Texas?”
Every words hurt like crazy.
“Hush… I’m taking the corporate jet, I’m making my own schedule. I couldn’t leave the state when my baby sis has been beaten nearly to an inch of her life.”
Tears started to fill my eyes.
“Hey, don’t you cry. Everything’s going to be alright, Sook. Eric called me and he should be here shortly. He’s actually leaving right now.”
I looked toward the window and the sun wasn’t fully set. My frown must have clued Jason.
“Don’t worry, he’s having his dayman bring him in a light tight van.”
I was satisfied with his answer and closed my eyes once again. It felt so good to sleep. I knew my face must be pretty swelled and that it was probably black and blue by now.
The sound of his voice woke me. I was now lying in his arms, his handsome face filled with worry and mixed with anger. Pam and Jessica were standing by Jason and Gran and our visitors had come from the kitchen.
“I’m so sorry, min alskäre… If only I had known…”
Presentations were swiftly made before Pam was hushing the non-family – except for Trey, away.
“Promise me you’ll call us when she’ll be okay to receive visitors, won’t you Mrs. Stackhouse?” asked Merlotte.
“I will, Sam. Lafayette, Arlene, Maxine, Hoyt, thank you for coming.”
Hoyt Fortenberry didn’t seem too eager to leave, eyeing Jessica from the corner of his eyes. But the young baby-vamp – who was showing a lot of restraint at being surrounded by so many humans, seemed to only have eyes for my brother. As soon as everybody had left, Eric dropped his fangs, bit his wrist and offered it to me. One mouthful was enough to feel the magic of his blood work through my battered body. I could feel my ribs setting in and the swelling in my face reduce.
“Thank you” I said once the wound closed.
Eric swiftly got up and went to talk to Trey while Pam nearly hugged the live out of me and Jessica was being comforted by Gran.
“Sheriff… If I had known…” started the poor were, clearly intimidated by Eric.
“Dawson, you are in no way responsible. You may leave if you want. I will have your payment wired to your account by dawn.”
“I can’t accept payment, Sheriff! You hired me to protect Mrs. and Miss Stackhouse and obviously I didn’t do my job…”
“You did protect Adele and from what you told me earlier you sent Merlotte ahead of you. Thank you.”
Apparently the werewolf wasn’t used to a vampire thanking him. He said his goodbye and was gone as well.
“Well, since you’re now as good as new, Sook, I think I have a flight to catch…”
“You’re not leaving?” asked Jessica. “I mean, you’re leaving already?”
Jason smirked his panty dropping smile – what a player. “Yeah, but I’m pretty sure I’ll see you soon, Jessica.”
He kissed both Gran and I, winked at Pam, shook hands with Eric and finished by kissing the baby-vamp’s hand in a theatrical way.
“Don’t forget to call me, Jason Stackhouse! Or I’ll go all the way to Dallas to tan your hide!”
Eric gave me another dose of his blood – just in case he said, while Jessica told us about the commotion surrounding her rising that evening.
“The shutters were still up when Eric barged in my room! And without even knocking, by the way!”
“You were dead to the world, Jessica! Even if I had knocked you wouldn’t have answered” softly explained Eric, stroking my hair as I latched on his wrist.
“Whatever! Then Mr. Bobby brought the van to the garage. I was still groggy from my day rest… Then we were speeding to Pam’s house… Have you been there already, Sookie? It’s so… pink!”
I hadn’t visited her main residence yet, but it didn’t surprise me that her house would be decorated with lots of pink.
“She was so mad! Kept saying the whole way that she needed time to get ready!”
“Time to get ready, Pamela?” said Gran, putting several bottles of Royalty Blend on the coffee table.
Apart from the stylish pink track suit she was wearing you couldn’t really tell that she had left her house on such short notice.
“I’m sorry Gran, but we can’t all be like you! Some of us need time to get pretty.”
“Even when you first rose as a vampire, covered with dirt, Pamela, you were beautiful.”
The compliment would have sent a blush to my friend’s cheeks if only she could blush. I soaked in the peacefulness, calm and safety of being surrounded by my family – ‘cause yes, even after such a short time, I considered Jessica as being part of my family. Pam was telling us all about Chow’s anger at being stuck at Fangtasia again when a knock to the door interrupted her.
“Mr. Compton!” said Gran, opening the door.
“Mrs. Stackhouse… Upon rising tonight I was quite distress at seeing the disturbance in the cemetery. I just wanted to make sure that you and your delightful granddaughter were alright.”
“Why don’t you come in, Mr. Compton. We are all in the living room.”
“Please, Mrs. Stackhouse, I insist that you call me… Bill.”
His face quickly discompose as he saw who the ‘we’ was. His eyes went to Eric and I, lounging on the sofa, to Pam smirking at him, to Jessica whose jaws was set and eyes filled with anger.
“Sookeh! Were you hurt?”
I looked at Eric with pleading eyes and he took it on himself to explain everything about what had transpire during the day.
“Sookie was attacked earlier today by the serial killer that had been plaguing Bon Temps. Luckily she got the upper hand and the man, who had been masquerading as a René Lenier but whose real identity was Drew Marshall, is now dead. She had made some inquiries with other Sheriff departments and discovered that he had killed his sister, who had been associating with Vampires. Seems like a little human was able to do your job, Investigator!”
“I… I guess Soo… Miss Stackhouse had a head start on me, Sheriff.”
“A head start?” snorted Pam. “You learned about those murders around the same time as her!”
“Yes, but Miss Stackhouse has the advantage of being up during daytime. There’s only so much I can do…”
“You fostered your newborn Childe to me, Compton, saying that taking care of her and doing your job as Investigator weren’t compatible. And although Sookie can go out during the day, she still has her other duty, her duty as both mine and Pam’s lawyer. Without her those murders would have continue and the whole thing would have look pretty bad for Area 5, don’t you think?”
The Civil War veteran gulped.
“You are right, Sheriff. Miss Stackhouse, the vampire community of Area 5 – of all of Louisiana in fact, owes you a great debt.”
“Well, thank you, Mr. Compton…”
There was an awkward pregnant pause.
“I guess I’ll be on my way, then…”
“Aren’t you even going to acknowledge young Jessica, Mr. Compton?” reprimanded Gran.
Compton looked like a child caught stealing a cookie before dinner. He turned toward Jessica and nodded.
“Jessica… You… You look good. I imagine the Sheriff and his second are taking good care of you?”
“Why would you care?” spitted the young vampire.
And petulant, rude Jessica was back with a vengeance.
“You are still my Childe, Jessica! You owe me respect and…”
“I owe you nothing! You handed me to Eric and Pam and I didn’t even have a say in it! You’re just like my human father! At least he somehow cared about me otherwise he wouldn’t have been beating me whenever I was supposedly misbehaving!”
“Jessica! As your Maker I…”
Pam vamped toward Compton and pinned him to the wall.
“Don’t you dare use your Maker command to punish her for telling the truth, Compton!”
“Northman, control your Childe!”
Eric let out a snort. “Why should I control her, Bill? She’s only protecting our ward. Are you suffering from such short term memory? You asked us to foster Jessica, to take care of her, to do what you should do, as is your duty as her Maker.”
“You’re turning her against me!”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re doing it all by yourself! Your own actions are turning her against you! If it wasn’t for the fact that Jessica is practically an infant – no offence Jess, I would suggest you release her.”
“How dare you say that! You know nothing about the way of vampires!”
“Well, I know enough to know that a Maker has a duty to his Childe!”
“A Childe I never asked for! A Childe I was ordered to make because of you! How I wish I had been sentenced to 5 years in silver! But because I protected you I was punished into making a Childe out of this pitiful teenager!”
There was a collective gasp. I knew that Eric and Pam had explained to Jessica the circumstance surrounding her turning and that the young girl didn’t hold it against me. But for Compton to say it? And in front of her?
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean…”
“I think that will be all for tonight, Mr. Compton” said Gran, with authority. “You have caused enough damage for one night.”
“I… Jessica, I…”
“Gran asked you to leave, Bill” answered the redhead. “Please…”
Reluctantly he turned away, walking toward the front door.
“I’ll bid my goodnight… Sheriff, I will report to you tomorrow at Fangtasia for my duty as Investigator.”
As soon as he passed the threshold, Jessica was bursting in tears. Both Gran and Pam (!) went to her and hugged her.
“That man doesn’t deserve you, sweetheart!”
“Adele is right, Jessica. Compton is a real asshole!”
We waited for Gran to scold Pam for cursing, but it never came.
“What’s the matter? Pamela is right! Bill Compton is an a-hole!”
A second passed before Eric burst in laughter, soon followed by Pam and I. Poor Jessica was wiping away her tears and didn’t know exactly how to react.
“Alright, children, we had enough emotions to last us for a while. I suggest we all go back to Shreveport since Eric’s suite only as one bed and as expensive as was that couch, I’m pretty sure it is not really comfortable.”
“And we wouldn’t want Jessica to be traumatized by Eric and Sookie nocturnal activities…”
“Pam!” I yelled, throwing one of Gran’s delicately embroidered pillow at her.
“Sookie Stackhouse! You weren’t raised like that! And you, Pamela Swynford De Beaufort, behave yourself! She’s your stepmother after all!”
“Stepmother? Yeah, a wicked one!”
“Listen to Adele, Pamela” scolded Eric. “Or daddy is going to take all your credit cards away!”
“If you say so… daddy.”
Since Trey had picked us up with his own car earlier today and Mr. Burnham had drove Eric, Pam and Jessica, we all piled up in Gran’s Cadillac. We first stopped at Pam’s house, where Gran and Jessica were to have a sleep over before Eric took the road leading to our house. Our house… I would never get tired of saying that.
I must have fallen asleep, because when I opened my eyes Eric was carrying me bridal style up the stairs.
“Baby, we’re home?” I asked with a yawn.
I smiled. “I’m trying pet name… No, baby won’t do. Cowboy?”
He raised an eyebrow.
“Well you would look great with a Stetson…”
“If I were to wear a Stetson and cowboy boots I would suspiciously look a lot like Stan Baker…”
I let out a laugh at the mention of Godric’s lieutenant.
“How about Viking Sex God?” he proposed.
“Quite a mouthful… But I can work with that!”
He carefully set me on the bed before joining me.
“Don’t you ever scare me like that again, Lover. I felt so powerless…”
I silenced him with a kiss, reassuring him.
“I can’t really promise anything… Who knows what might happen, but I’ll do my best. I didn’t want to scare you, Eric.”
And that’s how I finally went to sleep, nested in my Viking Sex God’s arms.