Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
Meridian, thanks for your help polishing this little story! All remaining mistakes are my own.
Brace yourself for a brief appearance by Bill and a whole lotta plot.
Sookie smoothed her hair and hung her security badge around her neck before entering the Convention Hall. She scanned the room for Rasul, finding him without much effort in front of a coffin display. She walked toward him with an air of relaxation and confidence. Nothing put her at ease like a good fuck.
“Did I miss anything?” she whispered as she nudged his shoulder.
He stared at her with his dark, sad eyes. “The queen has not made an appearance yet, if that’s what you mean. Unless you’re referring to a shortcoming of Area Five.” Jealousy coated each word.
Ignoring his jab at Eric, she replied, “Have you seen Arkansas?”
Rasul shook his head.
“I want to watch his world crumble when he finds out he can’t manipulate and scheme his way into our state.”
Distracted for a moment by his loyalty to his queen, Rasul nodded and smiled. “I want to see that, too.”
“Thinking of upgrading?” she asked, nodding toward the titanium coffin in front of them.
“Perhaps.” He shrugged. “What do you think?”
“Looks pretty nice. You should get it, especially since yours got ruined during the storm.”
“You’re right. The hinges haven’t worked right for months.” He nodded once and turned away from her to discuss options with the vamp running the booth.
She turned and smiled, trying to find Barry. Are they done? I should probably give their contract back to Mr. Cataliades so they can go over it again.
Barry’s face appeared in the crowd as he walked toward her. Looking pretty, Sookie.
Thanks. She knew her skin always glowed after sex.
Who’s the lucky guy? Barry’s eyebrows jumped up and down.
Sookie put a barrier between them before details accidentally leaked out of her brain.
“Sorry,” he whispered when they stood face-to-face. “I didn’t mean to pry.”
She smiled forgivingly. “I know, but I don’t trust myself.”
“That good, huh?” He laughed.
She exhaled loudly and smiled, which made him laugh harder.
“You’re not a crazy cat-lady, are you?” he asked.
“Ew!” She grimaced and smacked his arm. “He was dressed like a genie!”
“I saw.” He rolled his eyes. “Have you looked around much?”
“Nope, just got here.”
He nodded toward the next booth with a sign that read: SANGUINARY SOUP FOR THE SOUL and made a face.
“Hard pass,” she said, moving on.
“How about Russian folk music from the eighteenth century?” he asked gesturing to the next booth. “Does it remind you of home?” he asked, quoting the sign.
She laughed. “No. Wrong century and continent.”
“Oh, do you want to track down any vampire, anywhere, any time?” he teased, pushing against her shoulder with his.
The man behind the counter frowned. “I’m sorry, but I only sell this program to vampires.” His face brightened. “Of course, I’d be happy to help you if you’re here on business for your master.”
A petite blonde woman perked up from her stool and looked at both of them with a little too much eagerness.
“We’re just looking,” Sookie said, preparing to move on.
The woman sidled up to her and narrowed her eyes. “You must be Sookie Stackhouse.”
“And you are?” Sookie asked, sizing her up.
“Pam Ravenscroft. Delighted, I’m sure.” She dipped her head slightly.
“I have heard much about the queen’s telepath. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” The man said before introducing himself. “Bill Compton.”
Recognition slid across Sookie’s face. “We flew in together. It’s nice to meet you both.”
“I hope we can get to know each other more,” Bill said, picking up Sookie’s hand and bringing it to his mouth as if he were going to kiss it.
Sookie yanked her hand away and a tight smile pulled up the corners of her mouth. Before she could respond to Bill’s creepy pass at her, Eric came up behind her.
“I see you’ve met Miss Stackhouse,” he said to Pam.
“Just now,” Pam replied.
Sookie turned and smiled at him, heat crept into her cheeks as her body responded to his proximity.
“The ceremony last night was beautiful, Mr. Northman,” Barry said before introducing himself and glancing at Sookie. Holy shit. It’s him. Isn’t it?
Is it obvious? Her entire face flushed. So much for secrecy.
You’re looking at him like he’s a giant piece of chocolate cake and you’re starving.
Oh no. She buried her face in her hands and tried to clear her head, when she faced the group again, they were all staring at her. Say something. Save me.
“Well, it was nice meeting you all. Sookie and I should be going. We need to deliver these papers.” He touched the files Sookie gripped against her chest.
“Right. Papers,” Sookie repeated. “Bye.” She pivoted on her heel and marched toward the exit with Barry at her side. She tucked a shaky arm through his and leaned on him. “I owe you one.”
“Yes you do.” He laughed.
By the time they got to the Texas suite, the meeting was winding down. Mr. Cataliades thanked her for bringing the contract before asking, “Did Sheriff Northman agree to officiate the ceremony?”
She hesitated before lying, “Yes.”
You didn’t ask him did you?
Shut up Barry.
Barry smothered a smile.
“Perfect. Everything is just perfect.” Sophie-Anne smiled.
“When will the ceremony take place?” Sookie asked, hoping to have a little time to explain the situation to Eric.
“In two nights,” Mr. Cataliades answered. “But we’re going to announce it tonight. That should stir things up a bit.”
“I’ll make sure Sheriff Northman is ready,” Sookie offered.
I’m sure you will, Barry teased.
Sookie glared at him.
Sophie-Anne took Stan’s hands in hers. “I think a wedding is the perfect way to end the Summit. Much better than the trial tomorrow.”
The King of Illinois was scheduled to defend himself against fraud charges; a boring and time-consuming portion of the Summit Sookie had been dreading. She had to agree that she would much rather celebrate a wedding than spend hours listening to lawyers in love with their own voices.
As Stan’s second-in-command, Joseph, formulated a plan for how the announcement should be made, Sookie let her mind wander to Eric, finding him in the forefront of her brain yet again. In a haze, she followed the group down to the Convention Hall, smiling as Diantha and Gladiola caught up to them.
“They’regonnamake thebigannouncement. Huh?” Gladiola asked, barely pausing as she spoke.
Sookie smiled and struggled to keep her eyes focused on the vivid blue outfit she wore. “Yep. I guess that’s why you’re here, huh? Just in case someone doesn’t like the idea.”
Gladiola nodded and Diantha said, “YouandBarryareuptoo.”
Sookie smiled. “We’ll listen to the humans, you watch the supes.”
The sisters grinned and sped ahead, ducking through the crowd effortlessly.
Just as planned, the Louisiana-Texas vampire pair made their way to the small stage near the center of the large room. Barry and Sookie hung back and held hands, anticipating a flood of comments from the humans in the crowd.
“If I could have your attention,” Joseph announced. The room went silent. “It is with great pleasure that I announce the engagement between my king, Stan Davis, and the Queen of Louisiana, Sophie-Anne Leclerq.”
Stan and Sophie-Anne came up behind him, hand-in-hand, smiling. The room erupted in whispers and thoughts. Sookie sifted through them, finding the most scandalous coming from Peter Threadgill’s minion.
Sookie found her in the crowd and smiled as she saw anger control Peter’s face. The fangbanger’s mind filled with worry about what it would mean for her future now that her master’s plans had changed, and then her thoughts shifted to the actions of a vampire standing next to her. Oh shit, she’s going to kill her.
A flash of electric blue popped up in the crowd. Gladiola looked right at Sookie and jerked her head toward the Arkansas group. Sookie nodded and hoped the worry on her face conveyed the urgency of the situation. Gladiola plunged into the fray of discontented vamps and screeched a moment later. Someone hit the ground hard, and then something clattered against the polished floor.
On stage, Wybert and Sigebert moved forward, forming a wall between the crowd and their queen, while Andre ushered everyone off the stage and out of the Convention Hall. Rasul and Joseph both rushed toward the scuffle, parting the audience and exposing a fight between Gladiola and a vampire. Gladiola seemed to be at the disadvantage because she had been cut on her arm, but she had the vampire on the ground, holding her in place with a boot to her throat and a stake pressed to her chest.
Sookie and Barry moved toward the fight, still holding onto each other, stopping a safe distance away. The King of Arkansas stood over Gladiola menacingly, teeth bared, hands curled into claws, but he didn’t do much of anything else to attempt to help the vamp on the floor. Rasul and Joseph restrained the woman while Diantha came to help her sister.
Mr. Cataliades broke the tension in the room when he slithered into the opening, picked up a dagger, and said, “Jennifer, can you explain why you were carrying a silver throwing knife?”
The vampire in Rasul and Joseph’s custody stopped fighting.
She glared at the room but said nothing.
So that one is Jennifer. I wonder where Becky is, Sookie asked Barry.
Mr. Cataliades got in Peter’s face and said, “I hope you have legal representation.”
Moments later, two of the security guards escorted the king and his fast-eating fangbanger out of the room followed closely by Rasul and Joseph still holding Jennifer.
Where are they taking them? Sookie searched Barry’s face for the answer.
I don’t know. That was intense.
Gladiola and Diantha stopped in front of them. “Goodcall,” Gladiola said, smiling and breathing hard from the fight.
“Are you okay?” Sookie grimaced as she noticed the black blood oozing out of her arm.
“I’vehadworse.” She shrugged.
“Just the same, you need to see a healer, my dear,” Mr. Cataliades chimed in. “I knew it wouldn’t go over smoothly, but I never anticipated an assassination attempt. Good work,” he said, nodding to them all. “Come with me, girls. Barry and Sookie, I’ll be waiting to discuss your take on things.”
As the excitement in the room dissipated, everyone went back to what they were doing before the big announcement.
Sookie let out a breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. Her legs wobbled and her grip tightened on Barry’s hand.
“Were you injured?” Eric asked, coming up behind her.
“No, I’m fine. Gladiola—” She stopped short when she saw his jaw clench. “What’s wrong?”
Barry understood perfectly well and took a step away from Sookie faster than she’d ever seen him move. “It’s not what you think.”
Eric growled and loomed over him, his fangs on full display.
“Eric, can I have a word with you for a moment?” Sookie asked, trying to keep her voice level. “Barry, will you let the queen know I’ll be up there soon?”
“Sure. See ya.” Barry darted away from them as if his life depended on it. Maybe it did. Eric still hadn’t calmed down and they were getting attention from his friends at the vampire database booth.
She turned to face him and narrowed her eyes. “Don’t do that,” she whispered.
“What?” The word came out with another growl.
“Threaten my friend,” she said, watching Pam get closer to listen to their conversation.
“He was touching you,” he said through clenched teeth.
“Outside. Now.” She turned and walked toward the elevator, knowing he would follow her. She fumed inside. She wanted to give him a piece of her mind, telling him he had no right to claim her or be protective of her, but she reminded herself that she needed his help. That the queen needed his help. This is why I don’t date. The elevator doors slid open and Eric and Sookie stepped inside. “Barry is a telepath, too. When we touch, it’s easier to hear. We were working,” she explained.
The tension in Eric’s shoulders eased slightly.
“Earlier, when I was bringing you up to speed on the wedding, you never agreed to officiate the ceremony.” She hit the button for the queen’s floor. “The ceremony will take place the last night of the Summit.” She didn’t want to give him the chance to say no. “The queen is counting on you.”
“Of course I’ll do it.”
“Excellent,” Sookie said, letting out a sigh of relief and letting go of a little anger. She weighed the choice of addressing his possessive nature, but before she could put much thought into it, Eric invaded her personal space. She jerked away from him. He had been about to kiss her, but his lips connected with the edge of her jaw. He tried to pull her into an embrace, but she pushed at his chest. “Barry and I are witnesses to what happened. Mr. Cataliades is waiting for us.” She glanced at the lights on the control panel, the queen’s floor approached quickly. “It’s going to be a long night. Maybe I’ll see you later.”
Eric frowned and slowly leaned away. “Okay.” He seemed hurt, but she couldn’t figure out why.
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. Sookie walked out without looking behind her.
How long do you think it’ll take before Sookie figures out Eric is worth her time? Find out now! It Happened In Rhodes: Chapter 6