Empowered. That’s how I felt hanging from the arm of one of the strongest vampires (if not THE strongest) I’d ever met. As much as it galled and sickened me to be accompanied by him, I knew Ocella was the best one to escort me to the bar located right off the highway between Shreveport and Bon Temps.
Ocella knew I was upset with him, but believed me to be under my own maker’s control and that I wouldn’t hurt him. My effort to appear even remotely civil was superhuman, but I am a superhuman myself. And a pragmatist, at that.
The visit to the bar was necessary for several reasons: one, I was still very thirsty and needed a donor or two tout de suite. Two, Ocella also needed to feed so he could give Eric more blood – and I would be there next time. Three, I really needed to find out if that bar belonged to Victor Madden, as I feared, and if so what was he doing in Louisiana, and where was Felipe de Castro? Had Louisiana been taken over? Where was Sophie-Anne? By my reckoning, she’d be dead by now. I still needed to know to whom we owed fealty, and Clancy didn’t seem like he would be talking anytime soon, that’s IF he even knew what the hell was going on.
Eric and Ocella had spoken briefly about this problem. Ocella, who’d seen innumerable kingdoms – both human and vampire – rise and fall, was confident that no coup had happened yet since we had heard nothing. Whatever was coming would be loud and would resonate throughout the local vampire community. But nothing was making noise so far. Clancy’s silence on the matter meant exactly that: nothing was going on yet. Ocella was sure of it.
Then Ocella agreed to travel with me to the bar. Joy.
Ocella had been gracious and let me drive Eric’s Corvette on our “date.” He disliked having to shift gears. He disliked automobiles as a rule! You can take the man out of the horse-drawn carriage…
Alexei barely fit in the tiny back seat of the Corvette, but Ocella would have put him in the trunk rather than go anywhere without him. Actually, if you took away the fact that Ocella and Alexei had viciously attacked my beloved husband, if you only looked at them – instead of talked or read their minds, for instance – you’d only see how handsome they both were. I was counting on that.
I had no idea if the bar I’d seen was, indeed, Victor Madden’s. It was pure speculation, which was confirmed when we arrived.
We were allowed to cut the line that wound itself around the building, just like all vampires did at any vampire-owned club. We were announced to the owner, and soon we were flanked by Victor Madden and his lackeys, Bruno and Corinna, all of whom did everything they could to make our stay pleasant. I was famous, after all. My fifteen minutes hadn’t yet faded, and many at the bar (the nightclub, really) tried their best to catch a glimpse of me. It helped that my escorts had never been seen in the area and were handsome. Vampires and humans alike enjoy the thrill of a new face.
Victor steered us to his favorite, cordoned-off corner and asked his server to bring us the most expensive bottled blood he had in stock. It would be actual human blood, rather than synthetic, so that was a bonus for me.
“We will also require a few donors, if possible,” Ocella interjected while Victor was asking me some inane question.
“Of course!” Victor said immediately, but then looked at me, apparently asking for confirmation. It wasn’t enough that Ocella, a being ten times older than Victor, was asking for that accommodation. I was the famous one; I was the one to be catered to.
“My sister chose to stay home tonight but will want some company,” I said, which made perfect sense to our host.
Now I had to read minds. Ocella’s and Alexei’s were calm for the moment, so I scoured Victor Madden’s and his staff’s. Bruno and Corinna knew little and were simply awaiting orders. They so immersed in either their tasks or in admiring me, that I quickly shut them out. As for Victor, I hit jackpot.
He admired me wholly, from head to toe. I was wearing a dress that Eric had given me as a gift while we’d been in Europe: it was blood red, and even though it wasn’t very short or had a plunging neckline, it still enhanced my assets very nicely. I’d left my hair dry naturally after my shower, and it looked purposely wild. Victor was beside himself with desire, his mind conjuring up every sexual position known to him with me as a willing participant. My mental eye-roll didn’t make it to my face while I rummaged inside his brain for more important information.
Felipe de Castro had given Victor permission to stage a coup all on his own. Clancy was seen as a weak sheriff and would soon die along with the rest of the remaining Louisiana sheriffs. That was the plan, anyway. Then Victor would install himself in New Orleans as a regent in the name of Nevada. Okay, so far I had nothing to fear insofar as Victor preferred Eric, Pam, and I to remain alive. Of course, Victor wished for us (and whoever my date was that night and the freaky little kid) to come and stay with him in New Orleans. We would be a great attraction. Plus, it would be best to keep Eric nearby anyway, given that he’d already made a vampire queen and had two other children who seemed poised to become just as spectacular. “Keep your enemies closer,” was his working motto.
Our drinks arrived and I ascertained that they weren’t spiked with fairy blood. Since they weren’t, I drained my glass as fast as I could gulp and was quickly given another. Ocella watched over me as if I was one of his precious possessions. Our exchange earlier was meant to shake my trust in Eric, and he thought it’d had some effect, as evidenced by the fact that I’d asked him to escort me to Victor’s bar. Little did he know… He was so self-centered and so wrapped up with Alexei that he hadn’t noticed everything that happened after Eric was assaulted. He didn’t even consider it an assault.
Selfishly, he’d left Pam to deal with her own grief and pain at seeing Eric’s humiliation, and had gone to the bathroom to bathe himself and his precious Alexei. I took advantage of the solitude with my sister and erased the memory of what had happened while I fed her a little more of my own blood and cleaned her tear-streaked face.
My husband, I noticed, took the time alone to get dressed in layer after layer of clothes; then he changed the sheets quickly while Pam slept some more. At least her tears had expelled some of the silver that had been in her body.
I was feeling murderous and hiding it rather well.
While drinking my third glass of the expensive blood, I listened as Ocella finally revealed that he was Eric’s maker and garnered a lot of the attention that had previously been on me.
“What do you think Sookie?” Victor asked me, bringing me back to the now. My thoughts had once again wandered to homicide.
I searched for the answer he wanted to hear. “Yes, that would be wonderful.” No idea what the hell I was answering, but soon found out that he would be following us to our house with the donors we had requested. Curses! My mind was almost completely fried by that point.
Before we left, I was given a unopened bottle of the royal blood I’d been guzzling during our visit. Then Ocella, Alexei and I piled back into the Corvette and we returned to Shreveport followed by Victor’s large SUV. Bruno and Victor were in the front seats, and Corinna had the donors in the back with her. Since we were in dire need of blood, I let them follow.
As we reached the house, I gave Eric the strong suggestion to stay in the bedroom with Pam and that I would soon be with them. Shit was about to hit the fan and they were too weak (and I was too young) to join.
Victor seemed to think it would be party time at my house. He would separate himself from that notion soon enough.
Ocella thought himself the provider for his child. Only he could have even fathomed that Eric would be happy again if only he was well fed. Not to mention that the party idea was appealing as well. He even wished for Eric to join us.
Bruno and Corinna were already making plans to have an orgy. They’d have that – just not in the way they thought.
Alexei was feeling frustrated and fidgety. Again. As we reached the front door, his whole mood turned downright dangerous. And when Ocella refused to give him one of the donors, Alexei completely lost it.
That’s when I paused it all… except Alexei.
With his maker’s command in place – to not feed from the donors meant for Eric and Pam – I was free to gather the humans and take them downstairs while I unleashed Alexei upstairs. Not that I would have been able to stop him mentally or physically. And, since I was feeling extra vengeful, I gave everyone their wits back so that they could fight. Or, rather, so that they could feel every nuance of pain as they were torn apart by the demented child.
“What’s all the noise?” Pam asked as I closed the door to the basement. She was actually sitting up in bed, looking slightly better than when I’d left, which could only mean that Eric had fed her again.
“I apologize but our house is currently being redecorated,” I said and shrugged. The donors had been heavily glamoured by Victor, or someone, and it was easy to give Eric the biggest man just by leading him along. I took the woman and shared with Pam.
For several minutes we drank and listened. I was sure they’d be blood and ash on my white carpet. It couldn’t be helped. Too bad Victor wasn’t supposed to die that night. Maybe I’d send him to dispose of the donors’ bodies, as a “thank you” for letting us drain them.
That was not my finest moment. I wouldn’t feel guilty about that night for several years.
“Let’s go,” Eric said to me when all was silent. He got up with little difficulty and took the corpses upstairs. Even Pam was feeling curious and strong enough to follow.
The smell of dead vampires permeated the air and was offensive. It would take weeks to dissipate, I noted to myself. Whatever was happening to me that night was making me very un-Sookie-like.
“Eric…” Ocella’s weak voice came from behind the couch. Eric retrieved him and put him on the actual couch, so that he could bleed on the leather instead of the carpet. His face had escaped the assault, but his neck had been torn to bits. He also had defensive wounds on his arms. All of it was healing fast enough, so I wasn’t worried that he would die from his wounds. Too bad.
Even though I could have killed him at that moment, taking advantage of his weakened state, I reined in my need for vengeance and saved it for later. First, even though Eric had given me permission to kill Ocella, it would hurt him to see me do it and he might even stop me. Second, Ocella might have been weakened, but he was twice as old as Eric, therefore I had no guarantee that he would be weak enough to just lie there while I killed him. I frowned thinking of my options.
“Alexei attacked us,” said Victor Madden coming from the kitchen. He’d helped himself to the bottle of the good stuff he’d given me, and was looking no worse for wear, other than a few scratches. I supposed he’d let Bruno and Corinna handle Alexei for him and they were the ones who my vacuum would pick up later.
“Where is Alexei?” I asked looking at my nails. I totally did not care.
“I don’t know. He left,” Victor said and gulped some more blood straight from the bottle. That made me so mad that I ripped the bottle from his hand and stopped him from the attack that was about to follow my violent gesture.
It was so easy to make him do what I asked, that I became giddy as I watched him load the corpses into his SUV. He would dispose of them as he saw fit, and forget he’d ever been to our house.
Pam watched me carefully as I strolled back inside the house and offered her the bottle of blood. She took it but never stopped studying me. She couldn’t understand why exactly I was about to lose my mind, and for that I couldn’t be happier. Why should both of us suffer from the ignominy that our maker had endured? When I smiled at her she became afraid, such was the level of madness she saw within me.
I took Pam’s hand. “Let’s go for a ride.”
That piqued Pam’s curiosity enough to follow me without question, even while wearing her jammies and no shoes. We buckled up in the Corvette and off we went.
“What is happening?” she asked, her arms crossed, her temper even more cross.
“Don’t you love it when you get your way?” I answered with a question.
Finally she caught on. “Did Eric give you permission to kill Ocella?”
“Yes! I didn’t even have to ask or make up his mind,” I said, about to lose my shit completely.
“He’ll hurt you,” she said. I wasn’t sure if she meant that Ocella would hurt me or Eric. She wasn’t mad anymore. Fear had taken over; the same fear I’d felt at the thought of losing her, that’s what she was feeling at the thought of losing me.
“Maybe. But, Eric won’t even know what’s happening.”
“You have this all figured out…”
“Yes!” and if I thought about it too much longer, I would lose my gumption. I’d been hoping Alexei would kill Ocella for me. Whatever! I could be vengeful. It would be cathartic.
So much had happened so far that night… and it just kept deteriorating faster and faster, taking my sanity with it. What had I said before all this started? That I had changed in order to survive. I was trying to survive and keep everyone else alive as well. The price had been steeper than I’d anticipated. It had led me to change species, for God’s sake! And what had I gotten in return?
“I don’t know,” I answered myself out loud.
“What is the matter with you?!” Pam exclaimed suddenly. “Either you have it all figured out or I’ll figure it out for you!”
Laughing was probably an inappropriate response, so I held in my giggles. Instead I opted to air my thoughts. “I meant to say I don’t know if any of this is worth my using the cluviel dor to change things.”
“If it keeps Eric alive, then yes.”
She had a point. However, in keeping him alive I altered history, and now he’d been abused as a result. “You know, we’re still going through the same misery,” I argued.
“How do you figure?”
“Were you raped and tortured this time around?”
“No,” but Eric and my brother were in my stead, I wanted to add.
“Was your heart broken?”
“No,” but Sam’s was. And probably Bill’s – but he had it coming.
“And now you’re this incredible being who will live forever.” She made it sound like being me the way that I was, was the end-all-be-all of everything.
“I still need to make another cluviel dor,” I mumbled as I drove us around. In no way was I actually searching for Alexei. Pam really thought I’d completely lost it when I announced we were, “admiring Shreveport to love it better!”
But then I remembered something. “Clancy is going to die tonight.”
“Let’s go,” Pam said, weak and tired but never wanting to miss anything.
When we got to Fangtasia we were too late. The vampire cops were there with their vampire holding van, and inside the holding van was Alexei Romanov. I didn’t have to get out of the car and leave Pam alone to gather the information we needed. Everyone was thinking so loudly that a quick sweep of brains reaped the information.
“It’s a tragedy all around,” I said when I had Pam’s attention. “Alexei was supposed to die along with the rest of the Romanov family, not to mention that he’d been a sick child to begin with. His mind is broken and Ocella took advantage of that. But just like his biological parents, Ocella gave him everything he wanted and to be denied was more than he could handle.”
I was thinking specifically of Eric and closed my eyes, feeling like I would start crying soon. Alexei had asked Ocella for Eric. He had actually said, “I want him,” and Ocella acquiesced. My rage was starting to boil over and I had a very good idea about what to do to temper it. Time to get rid of Alexei.
“He killed Clancy along with several of Fangtasia’s customers,” I said while working on Alexei’s brain. “The cops are calling the number they have for Sophie-Anne but they’re not getting a response.”
“Are they calling somebody else?” asked Pam.
“One of them is thinking about Victor Madden. Yep, there he goes.” One of the vampire cops was dialing Victor’s phone number. Soon he would be here, but would probably wonder what had happened, since he had no recollection of ever meeting Alexei, thanks to yours truly.
Then, almost in slow motion, like a movie, Alexei emerged from the holding van and began assaulting the officers around him, handcuffed and all. That is, until one of the officers took out a wooden stake from a holder by his side and sent Alexei Romanov to where he belonged. The cops were wondering what had possessed the kid to go after armed officers. Did he have a death wish?
As a matter of fact, he had, quite suddenly, gotten a wish to die.
“I guess we’ll have a new king by the end of the week,” Pam observed, not giving a flying fuck that Alexei was dead.
Our way back home was quiet. So far, Eric’s emotions were controlled and even. I had to hope that he was not being abused by Ocella and that he would call us – either as a maker or on the actual phone – if he felt in any way threatened.
There was no way for me to understand Eric’s relationship to his maker. Or viceversa for that matter. Pam and I walked in on them, as Eric was trying to comfort Ocella for having lost Alexei. They’d both felt his death. Eric’s natural reaction was at odds with what one would expect, and we simply could not understand.
“It doesn’t compute,” I mumbled.
“You said it,” agreed Pam.
Our confusion and lack of understanding was a function of how Eric had treated his children. Meg, Pam, and I would follow him and love him unconditionally, because he loved us well. He had chosen women as companions because he loved women in general.
Eric had made a slight mistake with Meg, his first child, but she forgave him and loved him and was never, ever, fearful of him. She’d only resented him because he had taken her away from the luxuries she knew. When she came into her own power – her amazing charisma – she finally felt comfortable in her own skin again and even grateful for having been turned.
With Pam, Eric had chosen well. Pam loved being a vampire. She loved to fight beside him. I suspected she’d been born in the wrong century, when being female had a very narrow definition. She had always been a fighter, and to be given permission to fight to her heart’s content had made her immensely happy.
Whether Eric had seen me as someone worthy of turning before he felt like it was a necessity, I don’t know for sure. I am sure that he loved my human blood. I am sure that he loved human Sookie as much as he loved vampire Sookie. I am sure that he became smitten the moment he saw me, and I with him, to be honest. We were the finest example of love at first sight. In a way, him being my maker was fated. Eventually, I’m sure, he would have turned me. But I was glad he’d waited until I had made up my own mind that I wanted to be turned before he actually did so. There hadn’t been a need for him to wait to turn me or to have my permission. He had preferred it that way.
Pam and I were already in bed when Eric and Ocella came downstairs for the day. By that point I was so mentally exhausted, that I wasn’t sure whether I could actually do what I wanted to do.
“Can we be alone?” Ocella asked Eric, giving him a pout.
He meant whether Eric would shoo away his children in favor of his maker, and share the bed with him instead of us.
If I was going to lose it any point, I lost it then.
Taking Pam’s small body, I put her in one of the coffins in the laundry and made sure she was comfortable before closing the lid. My gentle gestures and soft words belied the storm within me. For a long time, it seemed, I sat waiting for the sun to rise. I fed my rage by thinking about all the injustices that I had known this night and others. Two lifetimes of abuse, beatings, rape and torture. My loved ones suffering over and over because I had been selfish with my wish on the cluviel dor.
If I’d been human, I would have been shaking with purpose. Since my turning, everything I did thereafter I’d done with a steady hand.
In MY bedroom, Ocella was curled up against MY husband, occupying MY spot beside him. He dared to lie next to Eric naked, no doubt because he was anticipating having sex later. But there would be no later for him. His very long existence was about to end in just a few more minutes.
The storm within me was raging ever more powerfully. I saw red and blinked away tears of anger and frustration. Ocella, that mighty Roman man, was limp as a ragdoll when I picked him up and threw him over my shoulder.
“Wake up,” I commanded aloud. His mind awoke at my order, but his body did not. At first he was confused, then he started to understand. “Finally, some fear,” I said and spared one last glance at Eric who had also felt Ocella’s fear. He was too sleepy and too weak to react more, but he did try to open his eyes. I made him peaceful again with a loving suggestion to sleep, and I even made him dream of whatever he would find most enjoyable.
On my way upstairs, Ocella started panicking. His body failed to obey him, but I did let him open his eyes. This would be very gratifying for my inner psychopath.
“So… did you know that I can read minds?” No, of course he didn’t know. “I can read human minds, vampire minds, shifter minds… and did you know that I can make people do things?” Nope, he didn’t know that either. “Guess what I found out from my maker’s mind earlier tonight.”
Ocella knew what I’d seen, but the scene in his mind was not replaying as it should have. He only saw pleasure. “Time to see the pain,” I said, and manipulated the memories to suit my purpose. He experienced the pain and humiliation that Eric had, along with the burning sensation of the sun on his skin now that we were walking through the living room.
“Hang on,” I spoke aloud, this time to myself. “No sense in wasting perfectly good blood.”
I dropped him face up, his eyes filled with grief, pain, fear, anger. I smiled. He was already burned in some spots, and a ray of sunshine was burning his toes. Since the living room was still a mess, it didn’t matter to me that I would have to vacuum a few more ashes.
“How does it feel? How does being raped feel to you?” I crooned, kneeling beside him. It almost sickened me to drink from him, but I needed more blood so I could keep feeding Pam, and Ocella’s blood would be strong. Drinking blood from him without his permission was also a violation. But after two millennia of doing whatever the hell he wanted without regard to others’ suffering and without remorse, I figured he’d earned this small vexation.
Gulping as much as I could, I left him nearly dry, feeling uncomfortably full but still determined to finish what I’d started. When I lifted my head from his neck, I saw the hatred in his eyes. I smiled, showing off his blood on my teeth like a badge of honor.
“Let’s go, pumpkin,” I threw him over my shoulder once more, and out we went.
His body would not move, but his mind was screaming inside mine from the pain of burning. I tossed his body far, to the middle of our backyard, just in case he burned me as his body went up in flames.
None of his last thoughts were of apology or contrition. I wasn’t expecting it either. After two thousand years walking the earth, doing whatever whet his whistle, enjoying his body and others’, and putting himself first above others, I was pretty sure that he didn’t even know what it meant to feel sorry, to sympathize or to empathize, or to have any kind of compassion. When all that was left of his body were ashes, I got the hose and sprayed the area with water. I hoped the ashes would keep my lawn green.
The morning sun warmed my skin and made my heart beat a few times. It always made me happy to be able to bask in it. I could have curled up and slept outside on the lawn for the rest of the day and be happy enough, but Eric would need me when he woke up for the night. He’d be grieving and would want comfort.
The scent of dead vampire hadn’t lingered on my skin, only the sun. My body was tired. My mind was exhausted. I let Pam rest in the coffin where I’d put her earlier, and curled up against Eric; my rightful place. We would be peaceful once again, I knew we would… if we could only put the demons to rest.