Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest. Thank you, FairytaleAmber for everything you’ve done for me. ❤
With only two hours until sunrise, Sophie-Anne made a series of phone calls, summoning every single person working for E(E)E with the information that they were needed to help ferret out a spy. They came up to her suite in a matter of twenty minutes. Some of them had obviously been sleeping, but she made no apologies.
Sigebart corralled most of them in the queen’s main room while Sookie and Sophie-Anne worked like a tag-team to question each person individually in one of the rooms. After they were done, Andre escorted them to an adjoining room, to keep communication to a minimum.
When Frannie came in, Sookie glared at her.
“What’s she doing here?” Frannie snarled.
“Watch your tone,” Sophie-Anne said a little too gently. “Sookie is crucial to this investigation.”
Sookie made a sour face as she touched Frannie’s arm, and then Frannie tried to pull away.
“We require your full cooperation.” Sophie-Anne lifted an eyebrow and even Frannie understood she was dangerously close to getting hurt.
The next time Sookie touched her, Frannie hissed, but didn’t pull away.
“Do you have any knowledge of the black suitcases that were in the loading bay?” Sophie-Anne asked, just like she had asked each and every one of the previous employees.
Frannie’s brain filled with questions, but it was obvious that she was only curious. Not guilty. Before she could speak, Sookie shook her head. “Next.”
Frannie ripped her arm away and sulked toward the door, where she met Andre. She transmitted her frustration and anger so well that it clouded Sookie’s mind. When she finally focused on the next person, her stomach churned.
“What in the hell is going on?” Quinn demanded.
“Someone in this hotel means me harm, and I need to find out if it’s someone from your party. I thought I explained that already.” Sophie-Anne straightened her shoulders and looked at Sookie.
Sookie touched his arm, looking away from him so he understood she didn’t want to touch him.
The queen asked her question, but Sookie only got a snarly mess of tangled thoughts. She sighed. “The suitcases!”
Out of the ball of thoughts, one popped out. What suitcases? He frowned. She shook her head and stepped away from him. Andre led him to the other room.
“We’re getting nowhere.” Sookie rubbed the bridge of her nose. She’d been awake for far too long, and had been on an emotional rollercoaster over the course of the last six hours.
“The sun is coming. Maybe we should call it a night.” Sophie-Anne perched on the edge of the bed, her flawless face showing the tiniest hint of fatigue.
When the door opened, she looked up and smiled. “Hi Jake.”
“Hey Sookie. I’m sorry about things with Quinn.”
She shrugged. “I guess he didn’t really like me that much.”
He glanced over his shoulder toward where Eric was standing in the main suite and said, “Doesn’t seem you liked him much either. I heard you and Northman are together.”
She winced and then nodded, closing the door behind him, directing him to the interrogation chair. “You’re right. Eric and I are together. Again.” She yawned. “Sorry to keep you up so late.”
His shoulders slumped with defeat. “It doesn’t really matter.”
Sookie and the queen exchanged a quick look, but the queen kept her mouth shut. “Oh yeah, why’s that? Can’t you feel the sunrise?” Or is it because you know bombs are going to go off any minute?
“Yeah. I can feel it.” He spat each word out. “You know I can’t shift all the way anymore?”
Sookie patted his knee. “I’m sorry Jake.” Sorry for what’s about to happen.
“This is no kind of life,” he added in a whisper, his sad eyes glued to the floor.
“Who helped you make the bombs?” Sookie said in a level voice.
Jake’s eyes met hers as his head jerked up. “What are you talking about?” His words were forced. Unnatural.
In a blink, Sophie-Anne stood next to him, her hard glare focused on his face.
“The bombs in the suitcases.” Sookie crossed her arms over her chest.
He swallowed hard and took a deep breath, old habits of his former life. His eyes darted between Sookie and the queen.
“I took you in. I helped you.” Sophie-Anne frowned. “Hadley turned you to save your life.”
“This is not a life!” he shouted, gripping the arms of the chair.
“Who made the bombs?”
“The Illinois branch of the Fellowship of the Sun,” he whispered.
“How many are there?” Panic gripped Sookie. If she missed even one, they would all pay for it with their lives.
Sophie-Anne glanced at Sookie and relaxed when Sookie did. They had gotten them all. “When?” Sookie asked.
“Tomorrow morning.” His shoulders caved in. “I can’t take it.”
“So you thought you’d end your life with everyone else in this hotel?” Sookie frowned. “There are humans, shifters, and vamps here. Not to mention a whole lot of people who have done nothing but help you, and this is how you repay them?” She shook her head. “Is there anything else we need to worry about? Was anyone else here helping you?”
A single tear slid down his cheek, staining his pale skin crimson. “No.”
The queen straightened her back. “I’m going to have to turn you in.”
Jake gasped. “Please don’t. Just end it. I don’t want a trial, I just want it to be over.”
Andre stepped back into the room. “My queen?”
“Release the others. Jake is responsible,” Sophie-Anne said.
Andre bared his teeth, making Jake jump, and then he directed everyone else out of the rooms around them. Andre returned with Sigebart, Eric, and Quinn.
“Jake?” Quinn’s eyes fell on Jake’s downturned head. “Is it true?”
“Right under my nose? And I didn’t know? You would’ve killed us all,” Quinn growled, lunging toward Jake. Eric held one hand up to his chest, stopping him dead in his tracks.
“He is my responsibility now.” Sophie-Anne tilted her face upward. “You may leave.”
Quinn huffed, mumbling something about fucking vampires and then he disappeared through the door.
“Please let me die,” Jake begged.
Sookie held her hand out. “I will take him to the roof so he can meet the sun.”
He tilted his face up toward hers, relief softening the hard lines around his mouth. “Yes. Please?” he begged the queen.
Eric clenched his jaw. “I don’t trust him with her. Not even for a second.”
Sophie-Anne nodded to Andre and Andre retrieved a box from the attached room. He opened it and offered the contents to Sookie.
“You want me to handcuff him?”
“They’re silver,” Andre said. “The impending sunrise has already weakened him, and the silver will make him easy to control.”
She reached into the box and then squatted in front of Jake. “Okay?” she asked.
He nodded. “Thank you.”
She clasped the handcuff around his wrists and winced when his skin started to smoke. Jake didn’t respond.
“I will wait for you in my room, please come to me.” Eric handed her his room key and then kissed her.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” She smiled up into his face. “Oh, before I forget.” She retrieved the knife out of her purse, unwrapped it and handed it to him. Pure joy radiated off of Eric.
The surprised look on his face was matched by Andre and Sophie-Anne’s. Haven’t they ever seen someone returning their belongings before? She shrugged. “I better get Jake upstairs before the sunrise. If he falls asleep, I won’t be able to drag him.”
Jake stood, cutting through the faint smoke still rising from his wrists. Everyone moved out of his way.
“Come on, Jake.” Sookie gripped the handcuffs. “See you soon,” she said to Eric. “Goodnight … everyone else.” She curtsied and led Jake out of the room.
* * * *
“I’m really sorry,” Jake mumbled as they approached the door with roof access.
Sookie slipped one of her shoes off and wedged it into the door so it wouldn’t lock behind her. “Thanks, I guess.”
“I’m afraid.” He swallowed hard.
“I know. You have to be brave.” She sniffed. “I’ve watched someone meet the sun before.”
“What was it like?” His eyes went wide.
“We talked and we cried. He wanted to die too. He hated being a vampire.” She led him to the edge of the flat roof but never released her grip on the handcuffs.
“I don’t fit anywhere. Everyone hates me. Especially now.”
“I don’t fit either.” She gave him a little smile. “Blowing people up isn’t the best way to get them to like you.”
“I was so desperate, you know? I wanted to end it all no matter the cost.” He tilted his head to the side. “Thank you for being here with me.”
“You’re my friend. I couldn’t let my friend die alone.” She looked down. “Thanks for telling me about Quinn earlier.”
“Sorry you guys fought about it.”
“You heard too?” She squeezed her eyes shut.
He chuckled. “Yeah, we all did.”
“We were mostly fighting over his stupid sister. He didn’t take my side, didn’t back me up, nothing.”
“Quinn is insanely loyal to his family. I forgot to mention that. He’s an idiot to let you go. I hope Eric makes you happy.” Jake glanced down at his shoes.
“Thanks.” She blushed. The sky began to lighten, making it easier to see his face.
“It’s almost here. I can feel it.” He straightened his back.
She nodded and sniffed again, fighting tears.
“Don’t cry. This is what I want.” Despite his words, tears started spilling down his face.
“I’m sorry Hadley turned you. I’m sorry you didn’t want it. I’m sorry you’re so unhappy.” Sookie started crying too.
“It’s not your fault,” he said, his words slightly slurred as he struggled to stay awake.
“I know. But I’m still sorry for you.” The first rays of the sun illuminated the clouds, giving them a soft golden glow.
“It’s beautiful.” Jake smiled. His shoulders began to smolder adding to the smoke rising from his wrists. “You might want to step back.”
Sookie nodded and released her grip on the handcuffs, stepping back a few feet. When she watched Godfrey burn in Dallas, only he became engulfed in flames, so she knew she would be safe. “Bye Jake.”
He smiled, and then his entire body ignited. He didn’t scream or panic at all. Besides the strange burning smell, it was a peaceful sunrise. In a matter of seconds, Jake’s body reduced to a pile of ash, caught by the morning breeze and floated into the air.
Sookie wiped her eyes and ducked inside the hotel, retrieving her shoe and heading down to Eric’s room. She’d had about as much as she could take of sharing a room with Carla, who certainly wouldn’t miss her for the day. She inserted the card key into the slot and pushed the door open, making sure it latched behind her. Eric and Pam were locked securely in their coffins for the day, freeing up both massive beds. She chose the one closest to Eric’s larger coffin, stretched out, closed her eyes, and fell asleep.
There’s only one chapter left. Ready for more? On to Third Time’s The Charm: Chapter 5