Charlaine Harris owns almost everything. I own the rest.
All mistakes are my own. Thanks for getting this story started, gabbieannie, and thanks for the great additions, cari1973 and murgatroid98!
A scream got stuck in Sookie’s throat. She thought they were falling to their deaths, but they weren’t. They were flying. She squeaked in surprise and tightened her grip. The wind whipped her hair around her face and stung her skin. “You can fly?” Her words were torn from her mouth, but he nodded as if he’d heard her. Just as abruptly as he’d taken off, he descended in the desolate parking lot. She exhaled loudly.
“You can fly?” she asked again.
“Can I fly?”
“Probably not. This is a discussion for later.”
She grunted with frustration but followed him to his car, but he held his finger up, indicating she should wait.
He squatted next to his door and ran his hands along the bottom edge of the car.
“What are you—?”
“Ah!” he gasped as he tore something loose. He held a tiny black button in his large palm. “I’ll just put this over here,” he said, flicking the little thing into an open dumpster. “Get in.”
She followed directions, closed and locked the door, and watched out the back window as they drove away from Blood Lust. “What was that?”
“A tracking device.”
“Who were those guys?”
“Sigebert and Wybert, two of the queen’s closest and most trusted warriors.” He exhaled. “I guess you made her mad.”
“I need to call Pam. Warn her.” He pulled out his cell phone and dialed Fangtasia. “Pam, the queen is after us. I don’t know if she plans to send someone up there. Even if she did, there’s no way they could get there before you close tonight, but don’t open the bar tomorrow. Don’t open it until I call you. And send someone to hide Sookie’s family members.” He paused and listened to her response. “Good idea. She has a grandmother and brother, Adele and Jason. Both in Bon Temps. Stay somewhere safe for a while.”
“She wouldn’t go after my family, would she?” Sookie asked as soon as he hung up. Her stomach flipped at the thought of her traitorous family member putting everyone at risk.
“With Sophie-Anne, one can never be too careful.”
“Will Gran and Jason be okay?”
Eric nodded. “Pam said she would personally take care of them, check them into a hotel and glamor them to make them stay until things settle down.” He squeezed her hand. “They’re safe with Pam. I promise.”
Sookie nodded, but her stomach wouldn’t relax. “Where are we going?”
“We can’t go back to Shreveport. That would only cause more trouble. We’ll have to stay somewhere close.”
“But the queen will be keeping tabs on all the vamp-friendly places, won’t she?” Sookie asked.
“Yes.” He thought for a moment and then pulled Daniel’s card out of his pocket.
* * * *
Sookie and Eric waited for hours in the Corvette outside the ancient house shrouded in shadows. A massive willow brushed the roof with its long fingers every time a breeze blew. “When did he say he’d be home?” she asked.
“Three,” Eric replied.
Time passed slowly as they waited. It was almost four in the morning before Daniel’s car pulled into the driveway. He looked at their car and held up his finger, specifying they should wait. He wore flip-flops and a tank top, which accompanied his cut-off shorts perfectly. Only once he unlocked the front door, did he signal for them to join him.
“Please come in,” Daniel said as he kept a watchful eye on the sleepy neighborhood. He pushed the door closed and sagged against it. “What the fuck was going on tonight?” He didn’t wait for a response. “I’ve never seen Marjorie so pissed. She looked like she could’ve killed those guys. It’s one thing for the queen to take more than her share of the business, but to send in her goons like that?” He shook his head.
Eric’s mouth hung open in surprise. “You knew who they were?”
“We all do. They’re the ones who come if Marjorie and Rebecca are late on a payment.” Daniel furrowed his brow. “Why are they after you?”
Sookie looked at the floor. “It’s my fault. Did they do any damage?”
Daniel shook his head. “Marjorie tore her office apart after they left. I’ve never seen her so angry. She’s thinking of closing the business. Says it’s not worth being micromanaged like that.”
“It’s not your fault,” Eric interjected, turning Sookie to look at him.
“Yes it is! If I hadn’t been so defiant, none of this would’ve happened.”
Eric held her shoulders. “You stood up for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
Daniel whistled. “You stood up to the queen? Shoot, I knew I liked you for a reason!”
“What are we going to do?” Sookie asked.
“You’re going to sit down and rest,” Daniel started, “while Daddy Bear and I go put a tarp over his flashy car. Don’t want to draw attention, do we? There’s True Blood in the fridge. Help yourself,” he called out before heading outside.
Dazed, Sookie explored the old parlor and dining room and smiled when she opened the fridge. Bottles of blood filled two entire shelves. “You must do a lot of entertaining,” Sookie said when they came back inside.
“That’s putting it mildly,” Daniel said with a chuckle. “I tend to bring work home with me.” He winked and poured himself a drink.
“Why are you helping us?” Sookie asked as she observed him carefully. “Did you tell anyone we’re here?” She listened to him just to be sure.
He shook his head. “I wouldn’t tell. And I’m helping you because I like you. The fact that you’re on the queen’s shit list just makes me like you more!”
“Thank you.” Sookie downed a bottle of blood and put it next to the sink.
“We’ll make it worth your while,” Eric said.
Daniel grinned. “You could do that and a whole lot more. For now, I’ll show you around.” He walked out of the kitchen and down the hall. “The spare bedroom is light tight so you’ll be safe during the day. I inherited this house from my conservative Granny Lulu and made it vampire friendly.” He laughed. “She’s probably rolling over in her grave!”
While Daniel was leaving the room, Eric’s phone rang. He frowned at the little screen and then ducked away to talk in private.
Daniel resumed the tour, showing Sookie the bathroom, the parlor, and his room. “My room is light tight, too. Just in case you wanted to know.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “What do you think, Daddy Bear?”
“We’re about to have company,” Eric said.
“The queen?” Sookie whispered, searching his face for more details.
He shook his head. “Pam. She got in her car the second she hung up. Said her place was with us, not hiding.”
“The more the merrier!” Daniel sang.
Eric tightened his jaw. “We couldn’t possibly impose.”
“You’re not imposing. You’re welcome. I mean it!” He stared at Eric.
Sookie nodded. “He does.” She read Daniel as easily as JB. He wanted them there.
“How do you know?” Daniel narrowed his eyes. “You say that with such certainty.”
“I can read your mind,” she admitted. “That’s how I knew about the raid, too.”
Daniel nodded. “I wondered about that.”
Eric interrupted their side conversation, “I’m going to give her your address.”
Eric dialed Pam and shared the information, hanging up quickly. “She’ll be here in a half hour.”
* * * *
Sure enough, thirty minutes later, Pam’s car pulled up next to Eric’s hidden one, but she wasn’t alone.
Sookie watched from the open front door as Pam, Thalia, Clancy, and Ginger spilled out of the car. Eric growled. Daniel beamed.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” Eric ground out.
“Rallying forces?” Pam smiled at Sookie and Daniel. “You must be Daniel.”
“I am. Please come in, all of you,” he answered.
“What’s she doing here?” Sookie asked, sneering at Ginger and blocking the entrance.
“It’s always a good idea to have a pair of eyes during the day.” Pam shrugged.
“We already have a pair of eyes.”
“We didn’t know that, did we? We left Shreveport hours ago.” Pam stated.
“What about my brother and gran?” Sookie’s voice wobbled with worry.
Pam smiled. “They’re safe. I didn’t even bite your brother. He smells just like you. Mm!”
“That’s mighty kind of you,” Sookie said flatly.
Pam strolled in and Thalia and Clancy followed. Ginger glared at Sookie but finally got the nerve to walk past her.
“Why is he providing aide?” Thalia said in her thick accent while she glared at Daniel.
“Because he likes us?” Sookie offered, lamely.
“What is to say he won’t alert the authorities?” she insisted. “And then they come and kill us all.” She motioned to her head being removed from her body.
“Because as far as I’m concerned,” Daniel started, “the authorities can go fuck themselves. In fact, if I told my boss what was happening right now, she’d rally, too.”
“So tomorrow we fight, yes?” Thalia smiled. It was terrifying.
“Fight?” Sookie shook her head. “No one said anything about fighting!”
“The queen is after you,” Clancy added. “You really think she’s going to just let you go?”
The enormity of the situation crushed Sookie. “I guess not.”
“Daniel, can you find out who else might support us?” Eric asked. “We’re going to need more. Many more.”
* * * *
As dawn approached, all their plans slowed and eventually screeched to a halt. Eric, Sookie, Thalia, and Ginger shared a room, much to the dismay of Sookie. With two humans in the party, one watchdog could be assigned to each group of vampires for the coming day.
Thalia made it abundantly clear that she wanted to have her way with Daniel, and while he didn’t seem fazed by her offer, Eric insisted it wasn’t in his best interest. Instead, he suggested that Pam, Clancy, and Daniel share a room. Daniel was delighted.
As Sookie’s body immobilized for the day, she heard Daniel shuffle through the silent house and lock the front door. “Sleep well, everybody,” he called out.
Thalia pushed out of the makeshift bed on the floor.
“Not so fast,” Ginger said, blocking her easily in her weakened state.
Thalia groaned and threw herself back down, muttering something under her breath.
Sookie marveled at how much mobility Thalia had so late in the morning, just like Eric. Age certainly changed things. Before she could think about anything else, the sun came up and silenced her mind.
Sookie woke to the sounds of a struggle, but it was another full minute before her body could move. “Will someone please tell me what’s going on?” she called out to the room.
“I want to repay Ginger for her kindness last night,” Thalia said.
A gurgle escaped Ginger’s throat.
Eric was already out of bed. A blow landed and Thalia grunted. “Ginger was following orders,” Eric snapped. “Daniel is off limits.”
Thalia released her grip on Ginger just as Sookie sat up in bed. Blood trickled out of Thalia’s nose. “Fine,” she spat while she cleaned her face.
Ginger gasped for breath and rubbed her throat. She looked up at Eric adoringly. “Thank you, master.”
“We should eat,” Eric said, ignoring Ginger’s comment.
When they got to the kitchen, they helped themselves to bottles of blood while Ginger rummaged through the shelves to find something to eat.
It was another twenty minutes before Daniel, Pam, and Clancy emerged from Daniel’s bedroom. Daniel had an even brighter smile than usual on his face and after a little listen, Sookie knew the trio had a very fun morning.
“Yes, Daddy Bear?” Daniel replied.
“Daddy Bear?” Pam mocked.
“He’s Daddy Bear and she’s Goldilocks.” Daniel grinned. “You’re Rapunzel,” he said, pointing to Pam. “And Prince Charming,” he added when he looked at Clancy. “You seem like a Maleficent,” he said to Thalia.
“What about me?” Ginger asked, waiting for her fairy tale name.
“You’re like me. What’s your name, honey?”
“Sounds about right.” He nodded and her shoulders fell. Sookie stifled a laugh.
“When are you going into work?” Eric asked, bringing the conversation back to where he wanted it.
“Blood Lust doesn’t open for a while, but Marjorie and Rebecca are there as soon as the sun goes down. I’ll go in and discuss before anyone else gets there.”
“You may tell them we are here,” Eric said, gesturing to Sookie. “Don’t mention the others. That way, if they betray us, we have the element of surprise.”
“Ginger, go with him. Be my eyes and ears and then report back.”
* * * *
Sookie collected the empty bottles of blood and put them in the recycle bin while they waited.
“They’re here,” Eric announced.
Daniel’s car pulled up, but only he and Ginger walked inside. Marjorie and Rebecca hadn’t come with them.
Sookie’s shoulders sagged.
“What did they say?” Eric asked impatiently as soon as they walked through the door. He had noticed their absences, too.
“Where are they?”
“Getting backup. They’ve got a huge list of clients and friends. I told you, the queen’s been pushing people around down here for far too long. She has a considerable list of enemies,” Daniel said. “You wouldn’t believe how big a slice she’s taking from the New Orleans Vampire Tour Company. I know they make their bread and butter driving around the palace, but come on! Patrick and Frank have been at odds with her for years over it.”
Marjorie, the woman who had taken Eric’s money at Blood Lust was in the first car to arrive, along with a fierce-looking redhead who turned out to be Rebecca. They were pleasantly surprised to find Shreveport vamps waiting for them.
“I’m really sorry about last night,” Sookie said to Marjorie.
“Last night was the final straw. A few days ago, Thing One came to collect for the second time this month.” Marjorie rolled her eyes. “Who does she think she is?”
“It seems the queen has finally met her match,” Daniel interjected.
Marjorie looked Sookie in the eyes and smiled. “If I had known who you were, I would’ve let you in for free last night.”
“I’m just sorry they came and caused so many problems. You run a really nice place. You’ve got great employees.”
Rebecca shrugged. “I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to kick Sophie-Anne’s skinny ass, so thanks for doing that for me.”
Sookie wasn’t about to take credit for something she still viewed as a mistake, so she turned her attention to the violet-haired woman who had saved their lives. “Thank you so much for keeping quiet.”
“Heather is a sweetheart,” Daniel replied, giving her a quick hug.
Heather smiled demurely, but didn’t respond. Sookie knew she was loyal, and that’s all that mattered. Two other humans from Blood Lust had come with Marjorie and Rebecca, all of them were more than willing to join the fight.
Patrick and Frank arrived next, pulling up in a double-decker tour bus with a flashy logo printed on the side advertising up close and personal vampire encounters. Frank brought in a massive bag full of weapons of all sorts.
Watching Thalia sort through the various stakes, knives, and swords was like a kid raiding a candy store. Except instead of the inevitable stomachache, her night would end with death. Lots of death.
Over the course of the next hour, one car after another pulled up. Before long, Daniel’s house was brimming with New Orleans vampires.
Eventually, Eric put the meeting to order. “My name is Eric Northman, Sheriff of Area Five. Like you, I have been pushed to the limit. The queen threatened my Progeny and me. I won’t stand for that. Tonight, I plan to stop her.”
“How can we stop her?” Patrick shouted.
“Because we have her.” Eric pushed Sookie to the front of the room. “Sookie has the most amazing gift. She’s the only one powerful enough to lead us to victory.”
Sookie swallowed hard as all eyes locked on her. Eric believed every word he said. She could feel it. His confidence washed over her. She held her head high. “Together we’re unstoppable.”
“I’m with you,” Marjorie said.
“So am I,” Pam and Clancy said in unison with Frank and Patrick.
“We fight!” Thalia said, grinning.
“We fight!” the other vampires echoed.
One more chapter left, are you ready? Petulance: Chapter 18