Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
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The Tilted Kilt Chapter 12
“You called?” Pam blinked her eyes and smiled sweetly.
“No. I didn’t.” Eric scowled at her. “I’ll have you know you just interrupted something. Again.”
“She smells yummy.” Pam licked her lips.
“Keep your tongue to yourself. Sookie is mine.” Eric sighed. “Actually I do need to talk to you. It’s about tomorrow night. The Queen is coming, she wants to meet Sookie.”
Pam’s shoulders tensed. “Is this about your trip to the lab in Alexandria? I meant to ask why you took her with you.”
“Yes. Sookie is a telepath. Don’t say anything to anyone. She already feels like an outsider and keeps her telepathy a secret. It would also be very bad for us if other vampires discovered her talent.”
Pam rolled her eyes. “Obviously. And of course I won’t say anything.”
“It was Sookie who uncovered Long Shadow’s plot to shut down our TrueBlood facility. He had been coercing an employee to taint the finished batches with bleach. Felicia was there the whole time and must’ve heard something because now the Queen knows Sookie is involved.” His jaw muscles clenched. “Sookie has agreed to meet with her.”
“Are you worried?”
“I would be if Sookie and I hadn’t just exchanged blood.”
“What!” Pam’s mouth hung open. “You exchanged blood with her? You really meant it when you said she was yours.”
“I only meant to heal her after Long Shadow hurt her throat, and then she kissed me and my fang cut her tongue.”
Pam shook her head. “Lucky bastard.”
* * * *
It was business as usual the next night. Eric remained distant, allowing Sookie to focus on her job. Every time he got close to her, her legs shook and her heart raced. It was the perfect response to his proximity, but he knew it wasn’t easy for her to get anything done. Her anxiety grew as the night went on. By the time the other servers cleared out, Sookie was a ball of nerves.
Eric held her shoulders. “You must trust me. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Sookie took a deep breath and relaxed. “I believe you.” Some of the anxiety she was broadcasting disappeared as she smiled.
“They’re here.” Pam was standing near the entrance.
“Wait in my office.” Eric nodded down the hall. Sookie pulled out of his grasp, taking his calm with her.
The usual entourage accompanied the Queen; Andre flanked her right side while Sigebert and Wybert stood guard at the entrance.
“Sheriff Northman. So good to see you.”
“You as well, my Queen.” Eric nodded. “Shall we retire to my office?”
Sophie-Anne motioned for Eric to lead the way.
Eric glanced at Pam who was eyeing the hulking twins blocking the door wearily. “Pam, will you help Chow unload the shipment we received?”
Pam gave him a grateful smile and ducked into the kitchen where Chow was still working.
Sookie was pacing his office, and stopped abruptly when Eric opened the door. She was so nervous she had forgotten to change into her regular clothes.
Sophie-Anne’s eyes moved over her body, her lips pulling back as she smiled. “I love the uniform you have here.”
A blush spread across Sookie’s skin.
“You must be Miss Stackhouse. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
Sookie squared her shoulders and looked the Queen straight in the eyes. “And you must be the Queen.” She bowed slightly.
“Sookie Stackhouse, this is Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq.” Eric introduced the women. Andre made no move to be included in the conversation, so Eric left him out.
Sophie-Anne gave her a gracious nod. Within a few silent seconds, she had everyone in chairs around the office. Andre was silent by the door, seemingly disinterested in the goings on. Sookie was sitting across from Eric’s desk in a chair next to Eric. The Queen stood in front of them.
“First, let me begin by sharing my gratitude to both of you for solving the problem at our Alexandria lab. I must admit I was a bit curious as to how you were going to deal with it Eric, and after my conversation with Felicia, my curiosity grew.” Sophie-Anne looked directly at Sookie. “How did you do it?”
Sookie swallowed hard. “I am a telepath.”
Sophie-Anne squealed and clasped her hands. “How delightful.” She started walking back and forth. “Perfect timing too. Just think of it!”
Sookie smiled, but it was forced. Her heart was racing.
Eric put his hand on her shoulder. “Sookie has agreed to work with me when the need arises.”
The Queen stopped and faced them. Her eyebrows rose. “Oh?”
Sookie nodded. “I would be happy to work with Eric again.”
Sophie-Anne shook her head and clicked her tongue. “I think you’ll find my employ much more rewarding.” She was staring intently at Sookie again, and frowned after a few seconds passed.
“She’s mine.” The muscles in Eric’s body tensed. He didn’t stand a chance in a fight against the Queen, but that wouldn’t stop him from protecting Sookie.
The Queen looked at Sookie but spoke to Eric, “She’s loyal? Obedient?”
Sookie scoffed and opened her mouth, but Eric spoke before she could. “Yes.”
“I could always take her by force, but that might not be the best choice with the Great Revelation right around the corner.” Sophie-Anne sighed and her shoulders dropped. “I guess the only matter to discuss is her salary. How much did you pay her for the Alexandria job?”
“Five thousand, but I fear it was not a suitable amount for what she endured.” Eric shook his head.
“I will leave the matter to you.” The Queen turned from Eric to Sookie. “It was lovely to meet you.”
Sookie stood, understanding she was being dismissed. She bowed slightly again and left, closing the door behind her.
“I can definitely see the appeal.” Sophie-Anne nodded toward the door. She leaned against his desk. “How have you convinced her to work for you?”
“I asked her.” Eric frowned and then a light bulb went off in his head. “You mean because she can’t be glamoured?” The Queen nodded before he went on. “I believe that is part of her telepathy.”
“Her linage must be very interesting. Telepathy is not a human trait.” She waved her hand, dismissing the thought. “I will be happy to reimburse you for whatever costs may incur when I need her.” The Queen always had a plan.
Eric straightened his back. He had to know exactly what she wanted. “What do you have in mind?”
“On Monday, during the Great Revelation, the last thing I want is for some irrational human to make a scene. It would look bad on our special day. Miss Stackhouse would be tremendously helpful.”
It wasn’t a request. “What time do you need us there?”
“Five. We go on air at six.”
“We will be there.”
“Good. I am very pleased with your discovery. If there is anything you need, just say the word.”
“Sookie’s safety is of the utmost importance.” Eric leaned forward.
“Yes, we wouldn’t want to damage her. She’s far too valuable.”
Eric growled. “She’s not a toy. She’s a human, and she is not prepared for our world.”
Sophie-Anne’s laugh filled the room. “None of them are, but come Monday, they won’t have a choice.” She walked toward the door. “Come Andre.” Once they were out in the hall, she called back to Eric, “See you Monday, if not before.”
Monday was soon enough.
Sookie was still in the building. Her anxiety was radiating off her in waves. It only took him a minute to find her in the basement.
With a bottle in her hand, she looked up at him. “Did I do all right?”
Eric smiled. “Yes. The Queen was impressed. I’m glad she didn’t put up more of a fight for you.”
“She must trust you.”
He tilted his head as he looked at her. She had so much strength and wisdom, balanced with naiveté and fragility.
Sookie narrowed her eyes. “You said, ‘she’s mine.’ What does that mean?” She was all strength as she propped her hand on her hip. “And then you told her I was loyal and obedient. You talk about me as if I’m a dog.”
“Let me explain.” Eric sat on the stairs across from her. “It is practically unheard of for a vampire to trust a human. She wanted to know why I trust you, and if she could trust you too. She also realized you cannot be glamoured, which is why she asked if you were obedient. Normally, that is how we get humans to cooperate.”
Sookie shook her head and closed her eyes. “Fine. What about the other part, you claiming me?”
Eric’s hands went up. “It is a reference to our bond. I was protecting you. If I claim you, no one else should be able to.”
“Should?” Sookie scoffed.
“Sophie-Anne is my Queen. She can take what she likes.”
“So I should count my blessings she didn’t? This is ridiculous.” Sookie turned her back to him and went back to the cases of booze bottles.
“Please don’t be angry.”
Sookie faced him. “Easy for you to say. You’re not the one being told you have no choice! It wouldn’t have mattered what I said. I would still be working for her. Do you know how powerless that makes me feel?”
“She controls much of my life too, but without her support, I wouldn’t have any of this.” He motioned to the room around them. “I have power I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I plan to use that power to protect you.”
Sookie pressed her fingers against the bridge of her nose, covering most of her face. “I would be a fool to think I don’t need your help, wouldn’t I?”
“So what now? She calls all the shots in my life?”
“No, not all. I promise I will always tell you as much as I can. Speaking of that, we need to be in New Orleans early Monday morning to make sure the Great Revelation happens without a problem.”
Sookie looked at the floor. “What does the Queen need me to do?”
“She wants you to monitor the crowd. If there are any problems, we’d like to know before it gets caught on tape. None of us are under the delusion that all humans are going to be happy when we reveal ourselves, but we don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.”
“It’s going to be the biggest news since, well, since I don’t know when…probably ever. I can’t even imagine how hard it’s going to be for people to accept.”
“You took it well.”
“Yeah, but I’m not like most folks. Am I?” Sookie raised her eyebrow. “I’m outside the norm, so it’s not such a huge stretch for me to believe there are others that are too, but for everyone else? You better be prepared.”
“We are. The Tilted Kilt will be closed Monday, just in case.”
“What about after that? People are going to freak out.”
Eric ducked behind the stairs and pulled out a box of TrueBlood and the returned to the spot where he had been sitting. “This should put their minds at ease.” He showed her the bottle. The top popped as he untwisted it. “This is what they are making in Alexandria. It’s our food.” He took a long swallow and grimaced.
“Seems like you really enjoy it.” Sookie’s mouth turned up at the corners.
“It’s sustaining. Not satisfying. Not like yours.”
“Our blood is satisfying?” She took a step closer and sniffed the open bottle. “That smells like a rusty garden tool.”
“That is a very close comparison.” He chuckled and put the bottle down. “And yes. Your blood is very satisfying, at least for my hunger.”
She wedged herself between his legs and touched his mouth. “Are there things besides hunger you need satisfied?”
“Desire. Lust.” He punctuated each word with a hand on her ass.
“So, what would happen if you drank my blood right now?” She tilted her head to the side. The light hanging from the ceiling made her golden skin glow.
“You would leave me wanting more.”
“More blood?” She stroked her neck.
A low growl rumbled through his chest. “More of you. All of you. All warm and soft and ready.” He kneaded the round globes of her ass.
She picked up the bottle from the stair. “And you’re telling me this synthetic blood doesn’t do that for you?” Her eyes twinkled and the heady aroma of her arousal filled his nose.
“Stop talking and kiss me.”
As their lips crushed together, Sookie’s tongue stroked his fangs, sending jolts of pleasure straight to his cock.
Her eyes were closed when she pulled away. “What if I’m not ready yet?”
“I can wait.” He forced the words past his lips. It’s a good thing he was already dead, because waiting would surely kill him.