Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. Thank you, FairytaleAmber, for the hours of time you gave me…
A ball of nerves settled in Sookie’s stomach as she went to her room. She sat on the edge of her bed, but couldn’t hold still. She paced the floor for a few minutes, and then returned to her bed. It smelled like Eric. What if he doesn’t come back? What if he gets killed? She buried her face in the sheets and cried. I’ll feel it, won’t I? I’ll know because we’re bonded.
She made the bed and sat quietly. She closed her eyes and focused her entire brain on Eric. A pulse of nervous energy washed over her. She took a deep breath. The anxiousness lingered, like a sustained note during the climax of an action movie. He’ll call me if he needs me, right? How would I even get to him? Stop. Focus. Another deep breath. She looked at the clock on her nightstand. The dagger, still shiny with Eric’s blood rested on top of her book. He’s been gone fifteen minutes. She picked up the knife, wrapped it in a scarf and tucked it in her purse next to her hotel key. She started pacing again, but then stopped dead in her tracks. The tension coming from Eric peaked and then relief replaced it. Sookie let out a shaky breath and smiled. She could feel him coming back to her. Fast.
A few minutes later, someone knocked on her door. She squinted through the peephole at Eric and Batanya, smudged with dust. “Well?”
Eric’s face formed a grim line. “You were right.”
“C4 explosives. Wired to a transmitter.” Batanya narrowed her eyes. “Whoever planted them was going to detonate from a remote location. One of them blew up when I tampered with the wires.”
Sookie pressed against Eric’s body. “Are you okay?”
He nodded. “I was a safe distance away. Thank you Batanya.”
“Thank you, Miss Stack-house and Mr. Northman. You have made my job much easier. I am going to suggest Kentucky leave as soon as possible.” She bowed and left.
“We need to go visit Sophie-Anne. Andre is expecting us.” Eric touched the side of her neck.
Sookie nodded, tucked her purse under her arm, and followed him to the elevator. Already a nervous wreck, matters only got worse when the doors opened. Quinn leaned heavily against the wall, talking on his cell phone. His eyes narrowed to mean slits when he noticed Sookie and Eric’s interlocked fingers.
“I need to go,” Quinn said into the phone before he stuffed it in his pocket.
Eric completely ignored him and pushed the button for Louisiana’s floor. Sookie faced the doors, turning away from Quinn’s glare. Her entire body pinged with uncomfortable energy for the thirty seconds it took them to get to the right floor. When the doors opened, Eric stepped out and Sookie followed. But before the doors could close, she turned to look at Quinn.
“You know what? Things with Eric weren’t as complicated as I thought. I’ve been his all along.” She wanted to add Screw You to her statement, but she seemed to have made a big enough impact already. Quinn’s face crumpled and his shoulders fell. When the doors slid shut, Eric’s mouth fell on hers. She panted for breath when they parted.
“All along?” He lifted one eyebrow and smiled.
“If I’m being honest.”
“Always a good policy.” He grinned. “Come on.”
Sigebart opened the door and moved to the side as Andre lunged toward them.
“Where have you been? You’ve been gone for hours!” Andre shouted, and then he stood in front of Sookie and Eric and took a deep breath. “Is it done?” he asked Eric.
Sookie turned her neck and touched the spot where he bit her. Only a smudge of dried blood remained. “We were going to come earlier, but then I forgot about the luggage.”
“Well?” Andre looked behind them, apparently waiting for the suitcase to magically appear. “Where is it?”
“Ten miles out of town, with the others. It had a bomb in it. They all did,” Eric answered.
“All what? What others?” Sophie-Anne asked as she joined Andre.
“There was a suitcase for everyone. Whoever is behind this was planning on taking out the entire Amun clan,” Eric said.
“When I went down to get ours, I noticed they all looked the same, and they were all too shiny and new. It didn’t sit well with me, so we collected them all, and then Eric and Batanya, you know, the Britlingen that’s following Kentucky around? Well she and Eric drove away with them and she confirmed it.” Sookie nodded her head.
Sophie-Anne’s eyes widened. “Someone was going to blow us up?”
Sookie nodded. “The security around here is terrible. Y’all think you’re so strong and safe, but what you need is a little common sense.”
Andre snarled, making Sookie cower behind Eric’s arm, but Sophie-Anne held up her hand.
“How do you mean?”
“No one is wearing badges, no one has done background checks. No one seems to be in charge of anything. It’s basically a zoo in the lobby. You may have vampire security, but they don’t know one damn thing about who’s allowed in or not.” Sookie propped her hands on her hips.
Eric radiated a mixture of pride and terror, reminding Sookie to watch what she said.
“Texas is here too,” Sophie-Anne said.
“We didn’t check with Texas.” Sookie looked up into Eric’s face. “Hang on a second.” She squeezed her eyes shut and called out to Barry.
Barry, do you have a piece of luggage with Texas written on it?
Umm… He disappeared for a minute. Yeah. Right here. Why?
Little and black with a tiny lock on it?
It’s a bomb. She looked at Eric. “Where should I tell Barry to take their piece of luggage?”
He tilted his head and then he smiled. “I can take it. Tell him I’ll be down in a minute.”
Barry? Eric’s going to come take it from you. Stay put. He’ll be there in a minute.
No problem. Sookie looked at the queen and then added, Just be sure to tell Stan he owes one to Louisiana. Oh, and make sure no one else hears you talking about it.
Eric kissed her before he left, leaving Sookie standing in front of Andre and Sophie-Anne alone.
The queen’s eyes danced. “It’s marvelous, isn’t it?”
“Being able to communicate with someone silently.” She squeezed Andre’s hand and he gave her a loving gaze.
“I like it. Too bad Barry lives so far away.” Sookie shrugged.
He just left, Barry said.
Thanks for letting me know!
The queen pulled her out of her head by saying, “You are very clever, figuring the whole thing out.”
Sookie smiled. “Alabama and Kentucky had already claimed theirs. I know Kentucky is already on your side, but now he’ll always look out for you. After I talked to Alabama, I think she’ll actually stay loyal to you. She was very grateful. Texas too. Stan owes you one.”
Sophie-Anne clapped her hands lightly. “I am not paying you enough.”
Sookie blushed and looked at her feet, remembering what Barry told her about raking it in. “I am happy to do the job you asked of me.”
The queen touched her arm. “You have gone above and beyond. This couldn’t come at a better time! With my trial coming up and the sad state of my beautiful city, I need all the support I can get.”
Leave it to the queen to use a bomb threat to her advantage. Sookie almost laughed. “Who do you think is behind it?”
“I don’t know, but I will be sure to pay a visit to each and every king and queen and let them know how close we all came to total annihilation.” She nodded her head. “I think it will be proof enough that I mean Arkansas no harm, so we can rule harmoniously.” She nodded. “Bringing you into the fold was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
Andre interrupted. “You never answered me. Did you and Eric exchange blood?” He gazed at her neck. Not in a I’m-just-checking-on-your-wound kind of way but in a I-want-to-eat-you kind of way.
Sookie swallowed hard. “We did. Third time’s the charm, right?”
“Did Eric influence you to help?” Andre asked.
Sookie huffed. “For your information, I come from a family of good folks, who always do the right thing. Keeping my boss and boyfriend from harm is the right thing to do. I don’t need Eric to influence me to help ya’ll.” She lifted her chin. “Plus, I didn’t really feel like dying. I know you might’ve survived, but humans and bombs aren’t a good mix.” She said her piece and then waited quietly through the awkward lull in conversation. Turns out, with vampires, awkward lulls can last upward of twenty minutes.
She could feel Eric coming before he knocked and then she was in his arms, hugging him and checking him for burns.
“I left it with the others in my rental car.” He kissed Sookie, taking his time. When he pulled away from her, his fangs had descended. “I was thinking, as I flew back. Who would plant those bombs? It would have to be someone with access to everything, but not one of the kings or queens here for the summit.”
“A vendor, perhaps?” Andre offered.
“The vendors are all vampires,” Eric said.
“Not all of them.” Sookie squared her shoulders. “Extremely Elegant Events.” Everyone looked at her as her stomach dropped. “Looks like that’s where we should start.”
More? On to Third Time’s The Charm: Chapter 4