Niall had wanted to call on to his most trusted inner group of councilors to discuss the matter brought forth by Neave and Lochlan, but reconsidered because his younger son Fintan was closely involved with the human family and Niall didn’t want that information to get around. In the end he decided to discuss it with his eldest son Dermont and his nephew Breandon. He knew Fintan’s secret would be safe with these two and they were easily his most trusted councilors.
The three discussed whatever their investigators had reported at length. Niall did not have to impress the urgency of the matter to the other two. They understood the implications of everything happening in Louisiana. In the end, Niall volunteered to go to the human dimension himself and see what he found there. Truth was, Niall was really curious about his son’s human liaisons and he really did stand the best chance of finding the truth about Sookie Stackhouse, owing to his great age and his experience with the unimaginable.
Niall made the decision to go pay the humans a visit that night.
Merlotte’s was pretty much like any other small town bar and eating joint. The patrons were the regular town’s people who almost always ordered the same things and drank the same number of drinks every time they came. People came in, in steady streams for breakfast, lunch, dinner or evening drinks, to catch up on local gossip, to watch a game on the flat screen, or have a game of pool with buddies.
Sookie’s brother Jason, who lived alone, usually ate both his meals at Merlotte’s, since he was too lazy to ever wake up in the morning with enough time to spare for breakfast. He worked on a road worker crew and frankly by Jason’s standards, he did a pretty good job and had stuck to it for some time now. Like tonight, he usually came in with his work group, all local guys Sookie had known since childhood. Sookie was already working and catching up when her brother came in with his friends and they settled at their usual table and ordered the usual burgers and fries and beer.
The first half an hour had been very stressful for Sookie, first because of Sam’s overly concerned remarks on her return and then because she had gone out of practice on the game of deflecting people’s thoughts and concentrating on what they were actually speaking out loud. But she had had years of practice and knowing what most of them usually wanted, made her ease up gradually into the grind of waiting tables, fetching orders, cleaning up and making small conversations everywhere. Everyone asked about her condition and she dished out the standard I am much better, thank you very much for asking and looking out for my gran… what would you like to have tonight?
The steady flow of customers kept her hands and feet very busy, and their constant chattering was almost full time work for her brain to keep her sane. It was all well until around eight in the evening. There was a mild lull in the conversations as everyone stiffened perceptibly. Sookie realized at the same time through the loud cursing from jason’s mind who the new entry was. Bill walked up, as stiff as the others, and went up to a table in Sookie’s area, smack in the middle of the bar.
Oh geez! Did he have to sit in the spotlight now? And I have to have that talk with him yet. I hope the good people don’t get more fodder for gossip tonight…
Sam saw her discomfort as she came up to the bar to collect drink orders, and offered to deal with Bill.
“Thank you Sam, but it is fine. Nothing I can’t handle”. Outwardly she gave Sam a reassuring smile but inwardly, Sookie was putting up her best grimace and really didn’t want to face Bill right then. However, she put her discomfort aside and walked up to Bill with a smile firmly pasted on her face. Bill’s eyes roved all over her as she approached and he smiled up at her in anticipation.
“Hello there Bill. What can I getcha tonight?”
“My Sookie! You look radiant this evening. I was expecting you to be home.” He grabbed her hand and a few diners started giving them secret looks.
Sookie gave an apologetic grin and tried to pry her hand away. However Bill held on to it. “I was feeling fine. So I decided to start as soon as you know…”, and she shrugged.
“Sookie, my sweetheart, you know you needed to rest. You didn’t even discuss coming back to work with me.”
In addition to her discomfort at the public display of intimate words and Bill’s surprising handsy behavior, Sookie got even more irritated at what Bill was implying. Why do I have to discuss coming back to work with Bill? And what’s with the “my” and “mine”?
Sookie reinforced her fake smile and forcefully tugged at her hand, hoping that Bill would let go to avoid a scene. Bill apparently had other plans and started pulling her towards the chair beside him. Sookie got antsier and whispered, “Bill, seriously, let go. I am working here and I don’t want us to have a fight in front of all these people. I am sure you know I call the shots of my life and decisions here?”
Bill just got up and started tugging Sookie to go outside with him, his hold on her hand quite rough. “Sookie lets have a chat outside.” And called out to Sam on his way, “She’s taking a break!” Sookie was pulled along and she turned to smile apologetically now at Sam and hoped he would understand that whatever music was about to play, would be better without an audience. Bill led her to the parking lot and then to a secluded corner towards the back of the bar, to his car and started to open the door for her. Sookie planted her feet on the ground and sharply pulled at her hand.
“What the hell are you doing Bill? For heaven’s sake, let go of me! And shut that door. I am not going anywhere with you. Can’t you see, I am working my shift!” Sookie was working up to quite an angry fit by then.
“Can we talk this over at my place? God Sookie, you were comatose for two weeks and I have been so worried for you. Please don’t get angry at me. I just want to spend some time with you my dear. Is it too much to ask?”
There we go again. Why does he always bring everything down to guilt trips?
“I know you want to spend time with me Bill. But this is not the right way to go about it. I told you I am working tonight. We can talk after I finish up.”
“Is the bar more important than me?”
This made Sookie really uncomfortable. Bill was a possessive and a little clingy but he was taking this too far. Maybe something was going on that she should know about.
“What’s going on Bill?”
Bill flicked his gaze to his right with a pained expression. He grabbed her shoulders and looked very serious as he spoke in low tones. “I really need some time with you Sookie. I need to explain a few things and I am afraid it cannot wait. Please come with me.” And he started to open the car door again.
This was getting out of hand.
“Bill Compton…You are going to tell me and you are going to tell me right now what is going on. I am not budging from here till you spit it out.”
Sookie felt something behind her towards left and she was alarmed when she suddenly realized there was a void there that she had neglected to notice before because of her argument with Bill. Vampire!
With growing discomfort, she took a step back and tried to look back. “Bill we have company. Who is here? Do you know there is someone else here?”
Bill had the look of a cornered animal and fixed his gaze on something over her shoulder, just when someone spoke from very close to her back.
“Do we have a problem Bill?”
Sookie jumped at the sudden presence so eerily close and Bill dropped his hands from her shoulders. She immediately stepped towards the bar and turned to face the two vampires. The new vampire could pass off as a teenager but for his cold dead expression and evil eyes that leered at her body. Bill inclined his head and replied to the other one. “Nothing is wrong Andre, I assure you. Sookie and I were just about to drive back to my house to meet up with you. Sookie dear, this is Andre, my, uh, superior.”
Sookie took two more steps back in panic and shook her head emphatically to make her point. “How do you do, Andre. And Bill, I told you I am not going anywhere.” Too bad there was no one out here, so she kept inching towards the back door. If only she could reach the back door and just run…
The evil Andre turned to her and said in a chilly voice, “You cannot get away human! Don’t even try.”
Eric was lounging on a large chocolate color couch, checking his email on his phone and listening to a report from Bobby.
“The basic structural work in Fangtasia is complete and the crews will be cleaning up and starting with relaying the floor tomorrow. The church work is at initial excavation of basement right now. Both sites have double crews to work day and night. We didn’t have any discomfort from the church people and they were excited with the renovations.”
Eric smirked at that.
“Mr. Cataliades can see you two days from now and asked to be sent any necessary details regarding the appointment for him to prepare whatever he can in advance. He will be coming over here sir.”
“The Shreveport PD is still doing the background check of all humans that were present in the bar that night. Their forensic team is still working on the evidence they found.”
Eric sighed internally. He would be the first to know about any update in the investigation because of his contact inside the department. Bobby was just rambling on about what they were showing on TV.
“I know how to work with a TV Bobby.”
“Huh?” Bobby did not immediately get the point.
Eric sighed again, loudly this time for Bobby’s benefit. “Anything else?”
“There are talks about a new bar opening in Shreveport. Specifically a high priced strip club kind of a place. They applied for a liquor license this morning.”
Anyone can open any number of bars around. It really wouldn’t affect Eric because there was only one which had all the vampire attractions of the town.
“It’s just another bar.”
“You told me to watch out for a couple of names and see if they popped up around here. Well the list had the name ‘Brigant’ in it and two Brigants have been registered as the partners of this establishment.”
Eric slightly straightened out at that.
“Hmmm, keep me posted. For tomorrow morning I need you to…” Eric stopped abruptly and went rigid. Pam immediately looked up to her maker, from her perch on a bar stool across the sitting area.
She hadn’t even finished saying his name and Eric was gone. Just like that, leaving a rush of air to derange Bobby. He really hated vampires when they did that. Bobby looked around in a confused fashion and Pam gave Bobby the benefit of her sneer. “Off you go then…Shoo…”
Eric was really acting weird these days. He needs to get laid! She thought sneakily and came up with a plan involving a couple of strippers.
Shit! This is not good at all. I need to get back inside. Run Sookie run…
“Well gentlemen I really have to get back to work. You two have a nice evening.” She gave out a fake smile and turned to get back through the back entrance.
In a split second, Andre was behind Sookie again, effectively gagging her with his left hand holding a tight grip on her mouth and bit into her shoulder savagely. It happened so fast that Sookie didn’t even realize what was happening to her till the time she felt a searing pain going across her body, starting from her right shoulder. Now she was truly terrified. Her instinct of self-preservation kicked in and she fought Andre’s hold with all her might, all the while silently staring at and imploring Bill to help her. Andre held her like a vice.
Bill just stood there, looking sick and conflicted, but managed to squeak out, “Andre, her majesty would want her uninjured…Perhaps you should…urmm” and stopped talking awkwardly.
Andre apparently, was beyond anything. The girl’s blood was too sweet, too intoxicating to let go. He was planning to just subdue her enough to teach her respect for superiors, but the moment the first drop of her blood touched his fangs, he was totally consumed by desire and couldn’t stop. Sookie sagged on her knees, her legs scraping on the rough gravel and Andre knelt behind her. Her arms and legs were beginning to feel heavy as lead but she kept pulling onto her reserves to fight the vampire holding her like an iron brace. She would not be able to continue much longer.
Help me! Please someone help me!
The scene played out in slow motion for Eric, who was still a mile far, around fifty feet up in the air. He saw an out of control Andre draining Sookie and the witless Compton stared in horror at the scene, doing absolutely nothing. As he neared Sookie at inhuman speed, he was shocked to register the presence of a fairy at a distance, although the scent was clearly masked. Hmm the Brigant royal! What the fuck? Eric did not have time to find out about the fairy though.
In a split second he was directly above the back lot, just as Sookie went down on her knees and Eric felt waves of distress hitting him through the miniscule tie they shared. In that split second, Eric felt another presence close by. A very strange presence. He landed on his feet and was blindsided for a moment of total déjà vu when a familiar white light hit him again…
There was a blinding flash and suddenly Andre vanished into thin air. Sookie fell down, sprawling on the dirt, Andre’s grip no longer holding her upright. It was just that instant and then that presence was gone too.