“Jessica! Stop right now!” said a voice behind us.
I sighed loudly. Of course we couldn’t take a vacation – although this trip to Dallas was anything but a vacation, without Bill Fucking Compton following us like a puppy.
“Mr. Compton!” exclaimed Gran. “Don’t you know that it is extremely rude to interrupt people’s meal? I would have thought that your mother, as a true Southern Belle, would have taught you better!”
The Civil War veteran seemed to be unable to find his words after such a reprimand.
“I… Mrs. Stackhouse, you must understand that it is highly improper for Jessica to feed in public!”
Gran let out a laugh.
“Improper, you say? Is it improper for us, humans, to eat in public? If so then why do restaurants and food court exist for? And take a look around, Mr. Compton. You will find several of your fellow vampires feeding off the hoff.”
A quick look around the room confirmed it. Several vampires were indeed feeding from donors. In some case it looked as if the donors were experiencing very powerful orgasms and from what I gathered from their thoughts it was about the same thing. I was glad for Hunter being so young and safely tucked in my arms, this way I could shield him from the lewd thoughts.
“Feeding off the hoff as you say, Mrs. Stackhouse, goes against the mainstreaming movement! I would hope my Childe would follow my lead and…”
Jessica, who had, until now, remained silent, suddenly got up.
“You treated me like garbage!”
“Jessica, dear…” started Gran.
Compton grinned, as if he was expecting Gran to scold the young baby vamp.
“He’s not worth your wrath, darling. Come on, take this nice young man and let’s go back to the suite. Sookie, do you want me to take Hunter with us?”
“No, you go ahead. We will join you later.”
And so, Gran, Jessica and her donor left, leaving me and Hunter alone with Compton.
“Why don’t you sit down, Mr. Compton…” I said, motioning to the now empty seat.
He sat in front of me and stared at Hunter with curiosity.
“May I ask why you are in Dallas, Mr. Compton?”
“Please, call me Bill…” he said, trying to sound suave, but barely managing it. “I was hoping to be able to spend some time with my Childe.”
Yeah, good luck with that. As if Jessica would wish to spend even 5 minutes in his company after the way he treated her.
“After I left Fangtasia I arranged for a flight through Air Anubis. Probably the same one you took…”
Handing Hunter the slice of orange that had ornate my drink I smiled.
“We actually took Eric’s private jet.”
“Private jet… Of course… It was to be expected that one as old as Northman would have the mean for a private jet. And where is he right now? I’m surprise not to see him with you, he always tend to keep you on a short leash…”
“I do not have a leash, Mr. Compton” I said, outraged. “Afterall, wasn’t it made clear that I am not a pet? And for your information, Eric should arrive shortly. He had some business to attend before leaving Shreveport.”
I had to take several deep breaths to calm myself or I would have jumped across the table to claw off his eyes.
“You seem quite attach to this whole mainstreaming movement…”
“Absolutely! Mainstreaming is the best way for vampires to blend in human society!”
“We’ll have to agree to disagree, then, Bill…”
“You don’t believe in mainstreaming, Sookeh?”
Hunter seemed to dislike as well the way the vampire pronounced my name.
“Do I believe in hiding what you are? No, Bill, I don’t. Vampires aren’t sick, your vampirism isn’t a disease. And let’s be honest, Bill, synthetic blood will never replace the real thing. I’ve never met a vampire who could live on a Tru Blood diet alone.”
“It’s my turn to disagree” he said, taking a sip of the Tru Blood the waitress had brought him. “I, for myself, only consume Tru Blood. I imagine that your belief regarding synthetic blood comes from Northman in order to feed off you whenever he wants…”
“You are wrong in your assertion, Bill. I’m only basing my belief on medical research and personal experiences. I have met vampires who tried the Tru Blood diet and they never looked quite healthy. As for Eric… A vampire as old as him only require small amount of blood in order to survive. But I am always eager to provide him sustenance whenever he needs it. In fact, he’s never the one asking for it, I’m always the one offering.”
There was something in his eyes, something I didn’t like. I was very familiar with it, I had seen it many times in Fangbangers’ eyes whenever I joined Eric on the night he was on display. Jealousy.
“And let’s be honest, Bill. From what I’ve learned from you, you have spent many years in Queen Sophie-Anne’s court. I know that the Queen has a harem of donors, are you trying to make me believe you never fed from them? Oh and let’s not forget about Selah Pompfrey…”
Selah Pompfrey was Bon Temps’ local real estate agent. I had the misfortune of meeting her while having lunch with Gran at Merlotte one afternoon. Not only was she rude and condescending, but her thoughts… Well, let’s just say I didn’t dwell too long in her thoughts, but long enough to learn that she had been Bill Compton’s regular fuck and feed and that he had glamoured her not to speak about their arrangement to anyone.
“Don’t try to deny it, Bill. I know about Selah and your arrangement. Of course it’s a win-win for both of you. You get the blood you need to subsist and Selah gets laid once in a while…”
“She wasn’t supposed to say anything…”
“She didn’t say anything, Bill.”
“Then how did you…”
“I can read people quite well, Bill. She didn’t need to say a thing, just the way she acted whenever your name came up in conversion. And the fact that she went from wearing barely there skirt to pants… I guess you’re a fan of the femoral artery, right?”
“Yes, I mean… No! It’s something else. You’re something else! I knew something was up that night with Long Shadow. Your brother was interviewing Northman’s employees and you… It was as if you were reading their thoughts.”
“Reading their thoughts, Bill? Really? You think I’m what, some sort of psychic? Or a telepath?”
I let out a laugh. It had taken me years, but I had mastered my poker face.
“Yes! I think that is exactly what you are!”
“And what is she, Compton?” asked a deep voice behind us.
Hunter immediately recognized his father’s voice and tried to wiggle out of my arms. Eric sat down next to me, taking our son to his knees, softly speaking to him in Swedish before claiming my lips. It had only been a couple of hours since I last saw him, but how I had missed him.
“Good evening lover…”
“You’re so dishevelled” I said, trying to take his short hair.
“I had to get to you as soon as I could, lover…”
Compton let out an irritated groan.
“What’s the matter Bill?”
“What’s the matter, Northman? The way you’re calling Sookie ‘lover’. It is so degrading, makes her feel cheap…”
What?! What right did he have to criticize the way Eric addressed me?
“Well Compton, as I already told you, Sookie isn’t a pet. And the term ‘girlfriend’ seems so juvenile. I would gladly call her something else, but unfortunately the Great State of Louisiana isn’t as advance as Vermont and Massachusetts regarding vampires’ rights.”
I felt love overflowing our bond at his words. His wife… He wanted to call me his wife!
“Now, how about you tell me what it is you think my lover is?”
It still surprised me how Eric could look both menacing and be extremely gentle with the baby in his arms.
“I was telling your… Sookie, that I thought she was much more than a lawyer with great ability to read people’s body language. In fact, I think she’s a telepath.”
Eric looked at me with a raise eyebrow. I nodded.
“For once you are right, Compton” finally said Eric.
“She’s a telepath?!” nearly yelled Bill.
His outburst made Hunter jump and the little one seemed close to tears, but Eric swiftly calmed him.
“Why don’t you scream it louder, Compton? Yes, Sookie is a telepath. We think there might have been some Daemons in her family tree and that the telepathy is some sort of residual gene.”
Compton’s eyes went from Eric to me, trying to see if I was corroborating what had just been revealed. It was a plausible lie. Daemons were known throughout the Supernatural community for being telepathic.
“A fucking telepath… You have a fucking telepath!”
“Compton, I will ask you to watch your language in the presence of my son” said Eric, bearing his fangs.
Instead of scaring him, Hunter looked quite curious at his father’s denture. His little hands slapped him on the mouth, trying to touch the shiny white fangs.
“Hunter, sweetheart” I said softly, taking his hands, “we don’t touch daddy’s fangs, baby. They’re very sharp, we wouldn’t want you to cut yourself.”
“Your mother is right, min son. Far might be tempted into eating those delicious little hands of yours…”
“Eric!” I said, while he playfully ate Hunter’s hands.
Our son went into a fit of giggles. I looked at Compton and, for maybe the first time since the beginning of our acquaintance, felt sorry for him. He looked at us with envy, but also with regrets.
“What’s the matter, Bill?” I asked, once Hunter had calmed down.
The dark haired vampire smiled a little.
“I wouldn’t have taken Northman for the paternal type, that’s all. You seem very at ease with the little one.”
“I had experiences” explained Eric. “While I never had children in my human life, I did have a baby sister. She was a couple of months younger than Hunter when she passed away…”
I sent comfort and love through the bond. I knew the pain that always inhabited him whenever he spoke of his family.
“As for being paternal type, Compton, I think that it’s something that happens the moment one man held his child for the first time, be it a biological child or an adopted one like Hunter. I think you had children in your human life, right?”
For a moment Compton’s eyes rimmed with red before he took over himself, as if he had schooled himself to repress his emotions.
“You are right, I did have children. A daughter, Sarah, and a son, Thomas… Thomas was about this age when I left for the War.”
A heavy silence followed his statement. What do you say to a vampire that had to leave behind his own flesh and blood? Surprisingly, Eric was the one to first speak.
“I am very sorry for the loss you must have had, Compton. Hunter has only been with us for a short time, but I can’t imagine having to abandon him…”
“I didn’t abandon my children, Northman!” said Compton, outraged. “I wasn’t given the choice!”
“Of course you didn’t have a choice, Bill” I said in a calming voice. “Leaving them behind must have been terrible.”
“It’s an excruciating pain that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy…”
I could understand. Eric had been right, we might haven’t had Hunter with us for a while, but the thought of having to leave him behind, even for his own good, was unthinkable. Which was why I so dreaded the possible return of Hadley.
“But back to Sookie’s ability… You understand that such knowledge must be kept secret.”
“Because you want to keep her ability to yourself?”
“How dare you say such a thing” I said, outraged. “Eric has known about my telepathy since I can’t even remember and not once did he use it for his own gain!”
“What about that time when you used it to find out about Long Shadow? Was it not for his own gain?”
“It was to find a thief, a thief who was, yes, stealing from Eric’s business, but also from the Queendom. You and I both know that Fangtasia is the most profitable vampire business in Area 5!”
That wasn’t really true, since AIK’s several subdivisiaries made nearly a billion dollar each year. But AIK’s ownership by Eric wasn’t public knowledge.
“And since moving to Louisiana Sookie has used her ability more than once to help the Queendom. Without her ability we wouldn’t have found out the identity of the serial killer that plagued Bon Temps and she was able to identify V dealers and the man responsible for the True Death of Malcolm and his nest mates.”
“As you can see, Bill, I’m using my gift for the greater good.”
“But… Vampires are secretive beings, you must understand the danger of…”
“Do not worry yourself, Bill. I can’t read vampires. You’re big void of nothingness for me. In fact, it is one of the many appeals I find in Eric.”
I nearly added ‘with his Gracious Plenty and what he can do with it’, but decided not to embarrass the Civil War veteran with Eric’s sexual prowess.
“We’re on even ground. He can’t read my mind and so can’t I. You can’t begin to imagine what it is to try to date somebody whose thoughts you can hear.”
“You didn’t even tried dating human boys, lover!”
“Of course I didn’t! None of them could compare to you, Eric…”
I nearly kissed him, but Hunter started rubbing his eyes, a clear sign that he was getting tired and needed to be put to sleep.
“Honey, we should bring Hunter back to the suite. We took a nap this afternoon, but it seems like it wasn’t enough…”
“And we have our meeting at the Sheriff’s nest.”
We got up, Eric passing me the baby before sending me toward the elevator. He didn’t follow me straightaway. I turned around and saw him whispering something in Compton’s ear. The way he dwarfed the other vampire was quite the sight. I couldn’t hear what he told him, but it was clear that he was threatening him. I choose to wait until we were alone in the elevator before asking him about him.
“What did you tell him? He seemed scared to the True Death…”
“I reminded him that I knew how to find his Maker should he babbled about your gift. As you could see, the thought of seeing Lorena Krasiki was enough to get him to promise not to tell a word.”
I frowned. Krasiki? Where had I heard this name before? Probably that time Eric asked Bill about his Maker, that night back at the farmhouse.
Upon arriving at the suite, we found Gran and Jessica in their pyjamas, watching TV. We quickly put Hunter in his crib before making our way to Godric’s nest. Isabel Beaumont and Stan Baker, Godric’s seconds, were waiting for us and I couldn’t wait to get answers regarding my brother and my dear friend disappearances.