Author’s Notes: Thank you Breathesgirl and Ms Buffy for your kind review and gentle edits. Thank you to my readers who have been so kind to my writing.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Bill Compton watched Bartlett Crowe walk out of the study. “Don’t follow him,” Russell told Bill. “He’s going through a difficult time.”
The Kings returned from Indianapolis two days ago, their faces sad. The anti-vampire sentiment in the city seemed to grow every day. Someone got close enough to the Fishers house to shoot out a window. Bartlett released several statements asking for discussions with local government and law enforcement aimed at bringing an end to what he called, ‘their mutual enemy.’ All his entreaties fell on deaf ears. The blow that finally sent the Kings back to Mississippi was the Renaissance Faire Board asking for Bartlett’s resignation.
The Renaissance Faire in Fishers was a matter of pride for Bartlett. He and his mate, Russell, were major contributors to the Faire, both financially and socially. Many of the sets and exhibitions that helped grow the event were because of the Kings. For Bartlett, it was a labor of love. He had been turned at the height of Elizabeth’s reign. The costumes, music, and general frivolity reminded him of happy times. Recently, the Kings had single-handedly funded night lighting, an investment that allowed the Faire to increase its attendance. To be thrown aside without the courtesy of forewarning or discussion had taken the heart from Bartlett.
Russell knew his mate would rebound, but for now, the quiet and more gracious tempo of Jackson was preferred.
They arrived home to find Bill Compton, their guest and de facto housekeeper, waiting for them. Since being evicted from his home in Bon Temps, Bill had moved back to live with the Kings. It was hard to determine exactly what formed the basis for their ability to so comfortably coexist. The Kings enjoyed history and antiques. Bill enjoyed computers and writing. They discussed books and they argued about music. The Kings adored Blues and jazz. Bill’s idea of jazz was Michael Bolton, an artist Russell abhorred. They would good naturedly debate what should be considered modern music and they had been known to all dance to Barry Manilow with joyous abandon. It was not any one thing, but at the end of the night, they just worked.
“I’m sorry to see him this way,” Bill said quietly. “He’s a good soul. He doesn’t deserve it.”
“No,” Russell agreed, “He doesn’t. He’s done nothing but his best to be a good neighbor and a model citizen. It isn’t right that the actions of a few bad vampires should turn everyone against him,” and the Mississippi King quickly turned his face. Russell was rarely emotional and the sight deeply affected Bill.
“I’ll check on things at the gate,” Bill excused himself. He knew Russell believed him to be gracious, politely allowing them more privacy. The reality was Bill felt guilty.
During the Kings’ absence in Indiana, Bill had invited Matthias, a vampire from James of Illinois’ court, to visit a couple times. Bill met Matthias at the Amun Summit last year, the same Summit where Eric Northman had locked up Sookie Stackhouse by publicly pledging to her. Bill had been angry and his anger found a friend in Matthias. Their mutual disdain of humans started the conversation and when Bill became restless in the Jackson house, feeling his isolation and self-pity, he recalled the vampire and their interest in seeing each other again.
The first time Matthias came, they made their way to Northern Alabama. For two weeks they traveled, killing nomad vampires and unsuspecting humans along the way, ‘playing’ with their food. It was bloody and primal. Bill wasn’t worried. They were in Sibyl’s territory and she was lazy. She wouldn’t have Sheriffs out this far. The most she would do was complain in her whiny voice to her neighbors. Bill made sure they were far enough north and east that if the Alabama Queen did come, she would suspect the vampires of Isaiah in Tennessee or Charles in Georgia. She would be unlikely to look toward Russell Edgington’s kingdom.
Once upon a time, Bill had worked for Sophie-Anne LeClerq, the ill-fated Louisiana Queen. As a member of her Court he had come to know Sibyl well. The Alabama Queen would doubtless stamp her foot and demand compensation, but no one would honor such a demand without proof, and Sibyl had neither an army nor an effective Sheriff’s Network to find it. She was a holdover from another time, an embarrassment to them all.
While they traveled, the two vampires slept in the dirt, something that appealed to Bill on a deep level. When Lorena, Bill’s Maker, had been with him, she had insisted they sleep in the dirt at least twice a month. She impressed upon Bill that it was important to remember that they were vampires. ‘Earth to earth…’ she would smile before ordering him to dig.
Bill found he was relaxed with this vampire, and one night, drunk on blood and violence, Bill confessed his frustration with Eric Northman’s high-handed tactics and Sookie Stackhouse’s weak-willed acceptance. Bill vented every complaint, every hurt that had been done him as a result of Sookie. He talked about her allowing others to touch her, even though she was clearly his pet. He talked about her resistance to glamour and the problems that created. He railed about her opening her legs for Northman, and Quinn, and who knew who else. Bill told Matthias how he revealed Northman’s treachery and deceitfulness in the days before the Viking finally left to marry his rich Oklahoma Queen, and how instead of opening her arms and bed to him, Sookie turned to a shifter instead.
Matthias had growled. He told Bill the words he wanted to hear. He told Bill that any human who couldn’t understand the gift she was being offered was beneath him. He told Bill he was the most noble to have continued to care past the time she was truly worthy of his notice.
When Bill showed some signs of regret, Matthias reminded him about the book. What more touching and telling tribute could any creature create to make clear to this creature her place with him? It was their history! It pointed out what should have happened! Then he reminded Bill that these were the same creatures that were the reason he was living in Mississippi, exiled from the home he had worked so hard to reclaim.
“And what was your reward, Bill? She took her Fae blood and stood before the Pythoness. She violated all our beliefs and would call herself above us! She is not worthy of you, Bill. Not with all her bastard blood!”
Toward the end of their road trip, Matthias captured a blond woman. He made her up and presented her to Bill, demanding Compton show him what he would do to Sookie Stackhouse when the time came. Bill rose to the occasion several times, and ended by killing her with a snap of the neck. Matthias cheered him on, but the incident left Bill shaken.
They returned to the house in Jackson, spent and sated. Bill knew he looked terrible. It was reflected in the sideways looks the guards gave him. Two days later, Matthias returned to Illinois. Their parting was cordial and the courtier was convinced that Bill was ‘one of us.’ He suggested they get together again soon, and Bill agreed, although he had no intention of making good on that promise. Bill kept seeing the tearful face of that girl, the one that looked so much like Sookie. He would hear her cries every night before he rose. If he was capable of dreaming, Bill would have thought he was having nightmares. Bill told himself that he was disgusted with his behavior and he resolved never to call the vampire again.
Days passed and with them, the guilt. The haunting memories ended. Bill remembered some aspects of those lost weeks with the Illinois vampire had been satisfying. They reminded him of his days with his Maker, and now, being back in Jackson in the home where Lorena met her final death; Bill found he had moments of extreme nostalgia.
Bill recalled evenings during which Matthias told him that he and others like him, considered themselves throwbacks. The Illinois vampire told Bill he was part of a growing movement. They were calling themselves ‘Vampires First.’ Matthias spoke with the same fervor Bill saw on television with some human fundamentalists. Vampires First refused to drink bottled blood. They preferred to sleep in the dirt. These vampires viewed humans as donors and hunting as a vampire’s right. Vampires First didn’t want to go back into hiding, they wanted to take their rightful place as top predators. In their view of the world, killing and glamour were meant to be theirs. Vampires’ ruling was the natural order of things and the time had come to take that next logical step.
Several months had passed before Bill received the call from Portia Bellefleur.
Through it all, Bill had maintained his relationship with the Bellefleurs. They were his family, his kin, descended from his own daughter. Over the years, he helped rebuild their ancestral home. He made sure they had money and he did what he could to support and encourage them. It had been difficult for the children, Andy and Portia, to accept him at first, but now Bill was a treasured member of their family.
When Bill thought of his relationship with the Bellefleurs, it was separate from his vampire life. They represented the human life that was stolen from him, the one he should have had with his beloved wife, Caroline. When Bill was with the Bellefleurs, he could forget that he was a vampire. These were people who welcomed him. When he was allowed to live in Bon Temps, before Eric Northman exiled him, Bill had the Bellefleurs to his home and he was regularly invited to their homes. Family parties were held at night so he could be included. Bill was there for the births of their children and there was a place set for him at the table for Easter and Christmas, Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. Bellefleur babies called him ‘Papaw Bill’ and begged him for stories. When Bill was with the Bellefleurs, all the noise and blood of Lorena and everything that happened after seemed very far away. They were his quiet place, which was why Portia’s call upset him the way it did.
Portia was expecting. This would be her second child and she asked why Bill went away. “Please tell me you are coming back soon,” she said, a tear in her voice. “The kids ask about you, Bill. They miss their Papaw. When are you coming home?”
In that moment, Bill heard the cries of Caroline, standing on the front porch of their home, his children clutching at her skirt. She was staring into the night, waiting for her husband to return, not realizing that he had been taken in a way that was less merciful than if he had fallen to a bullet on some forgotten battlefield during the War. Lorena had brought him close just after he was turned, letting him smell the enticing aroma of their blood. It was her way of convincing him he could never return. He could no longer be trusted with his own wife, much less his own children.
Bill found out that his son, Thomas, died a few years later of some disease. The thought that his not being there might have contributed to that death haunted him. He imagined his Caroline, weary and old before her time, burying that small body. He saw her work-gnarled hands and bowed back, a woman in a world that did not allow women to earn a living. As a widow in the South, she would have been expected to return to her family with her children, living on the charity they allowed, but Caroline had no family. There was only her husband who was gone, and so she had lingered in a house where there was no money to maintain it. It was fortunate their daughter married well.
“I am busy right now, Portia,” Bill had choked out, careful to keep a smile on his face so she wouldn’t hear how upset he was. “The movie will be coming out shortly and it is more convenient for me to be here at the moment.”
“But you will be coming home soon, won’t you?” she persisted.
“Yes,” Bill promised, “Of course I will. As soon as I can.”
That night, Bill broke things. It was not like him. He valued his place here with the Kings and the idea of damaging any part of the trust they gave him was unimaginable, but Bill’s fury consumed him.
As he sat in the middle of the wreckage that was his space over the garage, it occurred to Bill that he was two people. There was the vampire that wrote, the vampire that discussed politics with the Kings, and showed up at the Bellefleurs’ functions. Then there was the fanged, bloody pariah that Lorena made, the monster that lurked in the darker places of his mind. Bill remembered someone once saying that Lorena had been mad. He believed it. His Maker took great pleasure in inflicting pain. He had seen her be presented with experiences that would have brought others quiet joy, and watched her dash them to pieces, laughing in her wild-eyed way. Bill wondered if madness was something that could be passed through the blood.
Bill called the contractors to repair his rooms and the furniture store as well. Fortunately, the furnishings here were not antiques. Those that could not be exactly matched could be explained away. Once the calls were made, Bill stalked into the night, determined to calm himself. He walked the boundaries of the estate and stalked the surrounding woods. Dawn approached. He rested and awoke, still enraged. Before dawn of the second night, he picked up the phone and called Matthias. By the end of the week the Illinois vampire arrived and together they headed north, looking for easy pickings.
They were gone almost three weeks. Bill wasn’t sure how many states they crossed, all he knew was that they left a trail of death behind them. This time, though, they did not part on the best of terms. Bill found there was a limit for him. When Matthias challenged him, calling him weak, Bill had not taken the bait. Instead, the southern vampire agreed with Matthias. Bill told him he had no stomach for this life and he needed to return home to consider the path his undead life should take.
Matthias left him, taking their vehicle and driving into the night. Bill started home toward Jackson on foot, walking until he felt the pull of dawn, digging himself into the ground, and then emerging the next night to do the same thing.
He used this time to plan. He realized that when he dreamed about his time with the Bellefleurs, he would imagine Sookie at his side. He knew that Andy, Portia, and their spouses liked Sookie. Portia and Halleigh, Andy’s wife, sent him photographs of Sookie when she was in Bon Temps. If the world was perfect, Sookie would live in his home and she would be ‘Mamaw’ to the Bellefleur grandchildren. She would embrace her own immortality and him.
There was only one problem and he stood between Bill and every dream he had.
Bill knew Sookie would never accept him if he directly attacked Eric Northman. He had tried and she ran from him both times. No, if he wanted her to come to her senses, he needed the Viking out of the way permanently, but he needed to be free and clear from it. Bill also knew Sookie always wanted a normal, human life. She wanted to be surrounded by family and happy events. He could offer her that through his association with the Bellefleurs, but so far, Sookie hadn’t been able to see it.
Bill thought about the book he wrote, the one that documented their relationship, revealing their love to the world. He thought about how he wrote Troy, the character that was really him, as a vampire. He wrote about feeding from Shanna, the character that was really Sookie. He described her need to be controlled by him. In short, he glorified his existence as a vampire. It made sense to Bill now, Sookie’s rejection. She really didn’t like the vampire part of him. But Bill also had a human side, if only she could see it!
Bill returned to Jackson from that second descent into hell to find a message waiting for him. The Kings were returning in two days. Bill spent every waking minute scurrying around, making sure that the house was perfect for their homecoming. He enjoyed the happiness he saw in their eyes when they found everything gracious and welcoming. It made him believe that he was still a Southern gentleman, that he was still worth redeeming.
Now, as Bill walked outside the main house and into the night, he was no longer so sure. The terrible treatment the Kings received in Indiana was not just the result of ignorance and hatred. There were real actions that fueled humans’ hatred of vampires. It had been a special televised report detailing what could only be a vampire attack on humans in southern Tennessee that prompted the Indiana monarch to leave the room. The announcer described the scene as ‘carnage’ and of a ‘savagery hard to believe.’ Bill felt ill as he recognized the killing ground he and Matthias had made. There were humans moving around, masks over their faces, as they lifted bodies from the ground. Bill thought it lucky there weren’t more vampires on local police forces. They might have picked up scents that would identify him. It was the mention that the local vampire authority had offered assistance but been turned away, and the self-satisfied look the announcer gave as he read that portion of the story, that was the final straw for Bartlett.
While Bill knew in his gut that the Kings would never approve of his darker urges, this evening truly ripped the covering from his eyes. Bill knew he had to confront this part of himself. It stood between him and all that he wished, and he had to banish it from his life.
The next evening, Bill entered the main house to find the Kings listening to music. Bartlett immediately apologized, “I am sorry I made such a scene! I thought I was over this, but I can see I am still struggling.”
“Don’t apologize,” Bill replied. “I can see how all this has affected you. It has affected me too. I know it isn’t much, but I want you to know I intend to join the Silent Witnesses. Perhaps if they can see that there are vampires who want to be part of the solution, it can help to build bridges between us.”
“You will face a lot of resistance,” Russell shook his head. “Those people are convinced we are nothing but the devil incarnate.”
Bill smiled gently, and glancing at Bartlett said, “And who has told me that once you get to know someone, it’s hard to hold onto your hatred?”
Bartlett laughed and walked over to Bill, hugging him, “You are the most dear man! I don’t know if they will ever accept you, but I am just grateful that you would try!”
Bill felt better. If he was able to join, his work with that group might help make up for the sins he had committed. Of course, he wouldn’t tell them his part in the sins. What was done was done. What was important was what happened from today forward.
“You know, I’m not surprised you and Northman don’t get along,” Russell was saying and it was hard for Bill not to drop fang and hiss.
Instead he gulped, forcibly retracted his fangs and asked, “Why would you say that?”
“The two of you think so much alike,” the Mississippi monarch replied with a shrug. “When we were in Indiana, he was advocating our finding a way to get more vampires in local law enforcement departments.”
“He thought if we could be seen as working with humans to police our mutual problems, it would be harder to simply hate us,” Bartlett added.
“Nice for Northman,” Bill ground out.
“Oh, Bill!” Russell scolded, “He does mean well!”
“He did look terrible,” Bartlett remarked, “Did you notice, Rusty?”
“Not surprising,” Russell nodded. “I overheard the guards chatting. Their friends in Shreveport are saying Sookie is in Bon Temps pretty much every month and when she’s not there, she’s traveling the country.”
“It is ambitious, the Weres trying to organize,” Bartlett agreed. “Remember how many times we tried? And we’re calm compared to Weres.”
“I think it’s an exercise in futility,” Russell nodded and sipped his blood.
“So, they aren’t spending time together?” Bill asked. He tried to make it sound merely curious, but Bartlett gave him a sour look that told him the Indiana monarch was not fooled.
“Pledged, Bill! You know how that works, and from what I hear it was Sookie that wanted the extra hundred years.” The King’s look was not unsympathetic.
“Still,” Russell mused, “For them to be so frequently apart. It could be trouble in Paradise. I don’t understand why the insistence on her being named Queen. It has to present a terrible strain on their relationship.”
“Why?” Bartlett asked, “What have you heard?”
“She tried to sit in Assizes with him. It didn’t work,” Russell supplied.
“Do tell,” Bill mimicked Crowe’s voice, but neither King seemed to notice.
“Of course, she was heckled. She didn’t push back and now she is nowhere near any vampire proceedings. They were together for their annual conjugal visit, but other than that, it looks like they are living separate lives.” Russell turned the goblet, observing the way the blood moved, “I would never have believed it. They seemed so devoted to each other.”
“And they had so much stacked against them. You would have thought it would have lasted more than one year. What I can’t understand is how they are dealing with the bond. I can’t imagine being away from you for more than a week, much less weeks and weeks,” Bartlett sighed.
“Fae magic is the rumor,” Russell nodded. “We both know what Niall thinks of us. He must have found a way to allow his granddaughter to maintain her freedom.”
“So, she’s in Bon Temps?” Bill asked.
“Not all the time, but once a month at least, is what the Weres say,” Russell nodded.
“Stay out of it,” Bartlett said sharply, and then moderated his voice when he walked forward and placed his hand on Bill’s arm, “We are both fond of you, Bill. They may be having marital problems, but that doesn’t mean that Northman wouldn’t end you. It would be within his rights to kill you both, and we would be helpless to defend you. Don’t put us in that position!”
“We would miss you, Bill,” Russell agreed.
Bill smiled and laughed out loud, “Oh, I wouldn’t be so stupid!” he said merrily. “Although if Sookie isn’t happy, I would put my money on her finding a way out. She is amazingly resourceful.” Before the Kings could respond, Bill’s phone rang. The caller ID identified it as Twy, the woman who was organizing the events for Moshup Summit. Among those events were several showcasing A Viking’s Bond, the movie that would premiere later this year. “I’m sorry,” Bill apologized, “I have to take this,” and he walked toward the front door.
Behind him, the Kings exchanged looks. “You really shouldn’t encourage him,” Bartlett told Russell.
“How can you think I am?” his mate asked, “I didn’t say anything that would give him that idea.”
“You said enough!” and Bartlett swatted his mate’s arm. “I’ll talk with Bill again later. It was very sweet of him to offer to approach the Witnesses,” Indiana continued. “I hope that doesn’t cause more trouble than good.”
“He is a world-famous writer. There are women who now want to be a vampire’s concubine. In spite of the pockets of hatred, there is excitement about the fang/breather aspect of the movie. Our clubs in most cities remain hugely popular. I can’t see this hurting our cause,” and Russell drew his partner in. “I have to believe that all the anger is a tempest in a teapot; the darkness before the dawn. People will come to their senses and peace will resume.”
“I hope you’re right,” Bartlett sighed.
“You know I always am,” Russell teased, and kissed his mate.
“So, I have to dress up like a woman?” Bill was having a hard time understanding what Twy was talking about. He first became aware of this woman when Eric Northman hired her to coordinate a publicity campaign for him. He knew she was a friend of Pam Ravenscroft, and it was rumored they slept together. Twy was working for Pam now through Fangtasia Events Ltd, the new events planning organization. Bill tried to spend as little time as possible in the woman’s presence. Her stick-thin build and nails across the chalkboard voice set his fangs on edge. Still, it was commonly known she was talented at her job. She seemed able to make complicated multi-media events flow effortlessly together, never a miscue. He had benefited from a couple of her events in the recent past and had every confidence that Moshup would be a success too. Even though he trusted her, this time her suggestion seemed foolish. “I don’t understand why this is important.”
“It’s Harvard,” Twy said again. “It is an honorary thing, this Hasty Pudding Club. All kinds of celebrities have been honored, former Presidents. You would be the first vampire ever inducted. It would be a sign to the money set that vampires have arrived.” When Bill still didn’t agree, Twy snapped, “Google it, Bill! I’ll wait!”
Grinding his teeth, Bill did as the woman demanded. He was surprised to see the list of other inductees and he only sounded a little disgruntled when he got back on the phone and said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
“I knew you’d come around, Billy-boy,” she preened. “There is a parade, of course, but because you’re you, it will be held at night. Quite the concession. Then there is the gala. Boston Garden was pushing for the honors, but I held out for the Boston Symphony Hall. It’s intimate, we can show an extended trailer for the movie and the whole thing is snobby in the extreme. Then it’s around the corner to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and a reception in their Impressionist wing. Of course, all the stars will be there. You won’t believe who has been calling the office begging for tickets. I made a point of giving any celebrity with Boston ties first shot.”
“What about Northman?” Bill asked absently.
“Not sure,” Twy answered. Bill thought she would question him, but instead she asked, “and what about your roommates? They both declined. I thought the Clan Chiefs were pretty much a given at these kinds of events.”
“Not always” Bill told her. “So De Castro is coming?”
“And Stan Davis,” Twy confirmed. “Of course the folks from Moshup have most of the vampire-friendly hotel rooms tied up. The New York contingent took up more than two floors in the conference center and we had to scramble to find acceptable accommodations for the Florida contingent. What is with that guy, Misha, anyway? Pam said she’ll be in the City next week visiting with him and she’ll get me more details, but every time his name gets mentioned, Nabila gets into a snit.”
Nabila was the Clan Chief of Moshup, and Queen of the Carolinas. She was political, powerful, and well connected with the financial community. She wanted the Summit held in Charlotte. Instead, the Summit had been strong-armed into being held in Boston.
The rub was that Boston had been Tranh’s territory. Tranh was a powerful vampire, a force within their community. The former Queen had feuded publicly and not so publically with Mikhail, the King of New York for decades. Now, the feud was over. Tranh was finally dead and Mikhail, or Misha, was King of all New England. It was a development that made many of the Moshup vampires nervous.
Nabila had offered herself as Queen to Eric Northman, trading access to investment capital for the promise of his physical protection. She wanted the alliance enough that she offered to share him with Sookie Stackhouse. For a person in Nabila’s situation, it was understandable. Eric was a famed warrior. His progeny were likewise fighters. It would be a brave vampire to take on the Viking, but Eric had married Sookie. Now Nabila was forced to lead the Clan, but check decisions with the King in the North. It made for an uncomfortable existence, one where her neck hurt from having to look over her shoulder so often.
“Misha will probably end up as Clan Chief,” Bill stated. “What about Sookie? Is she coming?”
“Not that I know of,” Twy replied. “She doesn’t come to any of these vampire things anymore. Too busy with her Were thing,” and Twy moved on to laying out his agenda and timelines.
Bill listened with half an ear. He knew this woman would email him a confirmation of everything he needed to know. ‘So, she doesn’t go to vampire things,’ Bill thought. It confirmed the picture he was forming in his head and the plan he was putting together. He would join the Witnesses, a high profile and popular vampire adding his voice in support of the humans. He would make clear his low opinion of vampire aggression. He would bury himself in supporting good works. He would show how he had reconnected with his human family and how they loved him. Everyone said he gave every appearance of being the model vampire. His clothes were conservative; his tastes were middle of the road. He didn’t approve of loud music or act in outrageous ways, at least not when anyone could recognize him.
Bill hung up with Twy and saw that Portia had called him again. He hit the button that would dial her number.
She picked up on the second ring, “Are you all right?” he asked.
“Yes” she replied, “I hope I didn’t worry you. I saw that you were going to be in Boston, so I was thinking of you.”
“I am always pleased to hear from you,” Bill said warmly, “How are you feeling?”
“Better,” she answered. “Past the worst of the morning sickness now, which is lucky. Michele Stackhouse is having a little party for Sookie and now I can go without worrying.”
“Oh?” Bill tried to keep the thrill he felt in hearing news of his darling from being too evident. “So, she is coming there?”
“Sounds like she’ll be here for a good long while, too,” Portia was enthusiastic. “Not sure what happened, but I’m just as happy she’s tired of New Orleans. It’ll be nice having her here. Michele is happy and I know Hoyt and Hayley could use her advice on Maxine’s.” Portia rattled on and on, giving Bill news about the town and people he knew. He kept up his end of the conversation, but in the back of his head, he wondered how he could get himself back into the house across the cemetery.
When they hung up, Bill turned the matter over and over. Finally, he just decided to call the Palace. It was a desperate move, but he thought if he appealed using his connection with the Bellefleurs and their need for him, he might get a twenty-four pass. It would be something.
His call was passed to Maxwell Lee. Bill wasn’t surprised. He had heard Lee was now Northman’s second. “Good evening, Maxwell,” Bill said in his most pleasant tone. “I was hoping I could ask for leave to return to your territory. My great-granddaughter is expecting again, and they have asked for a visit. I would never think to cross your borders without permission and…”
“I can’t imagine there would be a problem,” Max replied shortly. “I’ll update the database. Anything else?”
Bill gulped before saying, “No, and thank you.” He stared at the phone for a long time. It didn’t seem possible.