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.
For a moment, Sookie felt human. She opened her eyes and all around her were the things she remembered. She saw the small, printed roses on the wallpaper and the faded silk shade on the lamp. The white iron of the bedstead was exactly as it had always been. She half expected to hear Gran downstairs, banging in the kitchen. “Silly!” she scolded, but she couldn’t help smiling. Stretching, she rolled on her back and almost jumped out of bed.
“Sweet Jesus!” and Sookie clapped a hand against her chest. He didn’t do it often, but when he did, Eric never failed to startle her. He was perched on the top of the bedstead, hunched over his knees. He reminded her of a gargoyle, ‘or an angel,’ her mind whispered.
He floated toward her and in an instant, wrapped her in his arms. “You were smiling in your rest,” Eric whispered. She could hear the question in his voice.
Sookie realized she could remember her dreams with perfect clarity. She’d dreamed of Rick and Brigid, but she’d also dreamed of Peter and the Cranes. “I feel better about things,” she told him, and after kissing him, told him what she’d seen.
He didn’t smile or dismiss her. “It has the ring of truth,” he said instead. “I wondered once if you were clairvoyant. It is possible you are gaining the gift?” Sookie couldn’t help chuckling at the idea, but Eric wasn’t having it. “Or, it’s possible it’s this place. The magic here is strong.”
“I can feel it,” Sookie agreed. “It’s as if the whole place is humming.”
“We could live here,” Eric just said it. He’d settled her against him, and for a long moment, Sookie was in that time when Eric had no memories and what lay between them was uncomplicated and sweet. “You were happy here. Do you remember that night you braided my hair? I called you wife.”
“I do remember,” Sookie assured him. She remembered it as the night Appius returned, but she could see that for Eric the stand-out moment had been something she’d discounted. “I can’t believe how lucky I am,” she told him. “How many women get a second chance at happiness once they lose it?” and pulling his head toward her, Sookie went about showing her husband how grateful she felt.
They were in the shower when the alarm went off. “Don’t you dare stop!” Sookie panted.
“I’m not the one who agreed to the interview,” Eric growled, and then used a little more force as he thrust up, pressing her against the new tile. “Come, wife, we wouldn’t want to keep your adoring fans waiting!” He sped up, adding that little swivel that hit all the good parts. If they had watchers in the woods, they could have no doubt what was going on. Sookie yelled, and at the right moment, Eric did, too.
“How does this keep getting better?” Sookie sighed.
“I love how you respond to me,” he purred, licking the water from her chest.
“And how did we have enough hot water?” They’d been at it for a while and the spray was still warm.
“I installed the biggest water heater they had,” Eric laughed, letting her slide down his body. Once she was on her feet, he turned her into the spray and began soaping her back, his hands making long, lazy sweeps. Sookie placed her hands against the wall, leaning down, arching for him. Eric obligingly reached under, his talented fingers parting and plucking, but when Sookie started moving, he removed his hands. “Rinse off,” he ordered, and when she did, he traded places with her, exposing his back.
“There is something to it, isn’t there?” Sookie mused as she soaped his cheeks. “Having someone else wash you?”
“That’s why every civilized house in my time had bath slaves,” Eric purred.
“Slaves?” and Sookie swatted him.
That led to more teasing, but then the alarm sounded again, and Eric straightened, allowing her nipple to escape his lips with a pop. “Come, Lover! The evening awaits!”
The closet was different than she remembered, a little larger. Sometime between her resting and rising, Eric had hung their clothes. He was funny like that. He’d forget a sock the minute it left his hand, but he was fussy about wearing wrinkled clothes.
Of course, they’d known about the television interview for some weeks. The woman asking the questions was someone they hadn’t met before, but her advance person gave them everything they’d be asked and they agreed that doing the shoot in Fangtasia, ‘where it all began for the two of you,’ was acceptable. The bar would be closed until they were done, but there would be lines of people outside, allowing the television camera to document their popularity, giving the club free publicity.
Sookie pulled on the light blue blouse and black pencil skirt. She thought it made her look fat, but Eric’s reaction buoyed her spirits. He couldn’t walk past without placing one hand or two on her hips. “You’d better stop that, or we’ll have to be late!” she teased.
“There’s still a couch in the back office,” Eric growled, molding his hard self against her backside.
“I’m not fucking you in Rubio’s office!” Sookie protested, but she knew he could feel how the idea made her perk up and take notice.
He ground himself against her a little harder. “Bent over the front edge…” he was using his sex voice.
Sookie’s breasts were tingling. She wasn’t sure how much was her and how much was his pushing, but it didn’t bother her the way it used to. “You know we have to leave!” and she walked away quickly, heading down the stairs, but pausing to watch herself in the mirror that hung over the fireplace mantle as she slipped in her earrings.
“You didn’t answer me.” He was behind her just as quickly. His hands were on her shoulders and his eyes watched her in the mirror. “We were happy here. This could be our home.”
Would she want to move here? Sookie looked at the familiar room reflected in the mirror’s surface. Each corner of the room held some place in her heart. “No,” she finally told him. “This was my home once upon a time, Eric, but things changed. My home became Chester, and now, my home is you.” She smiled at him. “Each place I’ve lived holds a little piece of my heart. This house is Gran and Jason, and Chester is Rick, but I’ve figured something out. It isn’t the place, Eric. It’s the person.” She turned under his hands so she could touch him. “It doesn’t matter where I live. My home is with the people I love, and for now, that’s New Orleans.”
Eric was watching her in that quiet way he had when he wasn’t quite sure he believed her. “I mean it,” she assured him. “We could move to Boston or Minnesota or Timbuktu. As long as I can open my eyes to you, that’s all the home I need.”
“Timbuktu!” he grinned. “Not there, I think. Too sunny, but perhaps Europe. I would like to see you under the moon that flies over the Alps, or standing under the great pines of the Taiga. I would show you the Northern Lights and the beauty of snow by starlight.”
“You talk awfully sweet, Mr. Northman!” Sookie sighed, “But for now, you’d better take this gal to see someone about a television interview!”
“As my Lady commands,” and Eric swept into a deep bow, then offered her his arm to escort her to the car.
As they drove the half-hour to Shreveport, Sookie couldn’t help feeling nostalgic about the landscape they passed. How many times had she driven these miles, speeding her way to Fangtasia? “I think I spent as much time being mad at you as I did any other way when I lived here,” she said half to herself.
“You didn’t have any good impression of me.” Eric had gone quiet too, and Sookie figured he was reminiscing as well. But then, Eric did what Eric does best, he shook it off and grinned at her. “But for all you wanted not to like me, I was irresistible.”
“That you were!” Sookie agreed, and they spent the rest of the trip holding hands.
Rubio himself was waiting at the back door as they glided into the reserved spot. “Majesty,” he said as he bowed to them both. “Thalia has left, and your guests are setting up inside. There are donors in the office.”
It only took a few minutes to feed. Rubio had chosen well, and Sookie found she could almost ignore the other needs that accompanied the act. “Did I splash?” she asked Eric as the humans left.
“No, Älskade,” he purred. He rubbed his thumb over her lip and Sookie found her smile return. “Come,” and he opened the door before one thing led to another.
Hunter was waiting for them just outside. They’d heard he’d only met up with Mustapha earlier. “You are more trouble than you’re worth! The least you can do is lean down here and give your Aunt a little sugar,” Sookie scolded, tugging him to lean down so she could kiss his cheek.
Hunter didn’t bother explaining. Instead, he jerked his chin further down the hall. “You remember Rasul?”
“I sure do!” and Sookie stepped forward, accepting Rasul’s bow, returning her smaller one, and then threading her hand through the vampire’s arm. “I can’t believe you’re finally here! I was so pleased to hear you’d be returning to us. I owe you at least one favor!” Of course, Sookie knew she owed the vampire more than one favor, and so did Rasul, but he showed no sign.
“You are as I remember, my Queen. You were and are a beautiful woman. Our King is most fortunate,” the vampire said in his best courtier’s voice.
“Will you listen to him?” and Sookie turned toward Rubio and Eric. “He could charm birds right off the wire!”
“I’ll have to watch you,” Eric teased Rasul. “You were more than charming when you first met my mate in Sofie-Ann’s Palace. It would appear your ability to please has only improved.”
“I hope you see that many of my abilities have improved,” and Rasul bowed again, “So best to serve you.”
“You’ve been showing him the ropes?” Eric asked Rubio.
“I am flattered that so able a Sheriff chose me as mentor,” Rubio answered.
Sookie was watching the two Sheriffs. She could feel Eric’s suspicion, but she was certain Rubio and Rasul liked each other. There was a quality in how they stood near each other and the way they spoke. It was natural and relaxed. She’d seen some pretty good actors over the years, but she knew Rubio and felt certain this was sincere.
“Have you heard anything from Rick?” Rubio asked her.
“Nothing,” and Sookie sighed. “But, at least we know where he’s headed.”
“How did you find out?” Hunter asked.
“Peter!” and Sookie laughed. “For someone who keeps to himself, he knows more about other people’s business than anyone I know. He knew right away! It’s one of Rick’s former teachers. He had a boat built. He plans to fly his family over to England at the end of the school year and take a couple years off sailing around the world.”
“I could see it,” Hunter nodded. “Peter, I mean. He likes to keep secrets. He got mad at me last time we were together.”
“Then don’t go picking his head,” Sookie shushed. “It’s rude, Hunter…”
“But, a good habit,” Eric cut her off. “Particularly now.” When Sookie flared, he turned to her, all business. “These are unsettled times, Lover. Hunter needs to remain alert.”
“But, Peter?” Sookie’s hands had found her hips and she knew her lip was jutting forward.
“Of course!” Eric soothed, then winking at Hunter, “Of course, it would be best to listen to your Aunt and not intrude upon family.”
“So, where will Rick land?” Rasul asked.
“Liverpool,” Sookie volunteered.
“That’s where Thalia’s headed,” Eric added. “She has contacts there, from the old days.”
It was Rubio who asked, “Do you expect Rick and Brigid to make landfall soon?”
“Not immediately. I think it will be several weeks at least,” Eric answered. “But, if we’re wrong, Thalia will be ready.”
“Dan, Professor West, made arrangements for the boat to be delivered and put up at one of the local yacht clubs. We were told it could take three weeks for the boat to make the crossing, but Dan thinks it will take longer.” ‘They’re going against the currents and they’re bound to run into some contrary winds,’ the teacher told Sookie. ‘Thirty days is optimistic. Rob knows what he’s doing. They won’t run out of food!’ When she’d thought her son would be unreachable for a month, that had been hard. Thinking it might be longer felt unbearable. “What’s important is that Thalia will be there. She’ll have everything in place by the time they arrive. They won’t escape her.”
Heidi joined them. She quickly bowed and as she straightened, Hunter moved to stand beside to her. Sookie couldn’t miss the glance they exchanged. Mustapha reported her cousin spent the night with the tracker and it seemed he wasn’t done. “Anyway, I’m sure Liverpool will never seem the same after playing host to Thalia.” Hunter was laughing, but his gaze was for Heidi alone.
“It’s an old city,” and Eric grinned. “Thalia spent many years there and the leadership hasn’t changed. She may be more welcome than you think.”
Hunter choke laughed, which caused them all to focus on him and go still as vampires do. His face flushed as he stammered, “Sorry!”
“They’re waiting,” Heidi reminded them and together, they moved into the main part of the club.
The overhead lights were on and where the throne once stood there was a seating arrangement with chairs. A backdrop was being assembled and portable lamps set up. “Oh!” the woman Sookie recognized as being the interviewer pasted a hasty smile in place and trotted toward them, weaving a bit on her high heels. “I’m Ann Fryer,” she introduced, thrusting her hand forward.
“I’m Sookie Northman,” Sookie answered, and took Ann’s hand even as she anticipated the human’s reaction.
She wasn’t disappointed. “Good grief!” and the woman’s eyes widened. “You really are chilly!”
“I get that all the time,” Sookie said in her best ‘aw shucks’ tone. ‘It’s why you see us bowing to each other.” Sookie positioned herself to be Ann’s primary target. She knew how forbidding her companions looked, so she smiled extra to make this human feel comfortable.
“I thought it was a holdover from some older time or something,” and Ann stared at the others anyway.
“Not a bit!” and Sookie positioned herself to follow Ann’s gaze. “We just don’t want to startle folks with how we feel. Allow me to introduce everyone. Of course, you recognize my husband, Eric,” and Sookie automatically slipped into her best hostess mode.
When they got to Hunter, Ann started to look around. “And what about your son, Rick?” Sookie’s smile fell a fraction. “I was hoping we’d get a chance to capture the whole family together,” Ann was saying. “I mean, it’s not like we didn’t know about him, but it wasn’t until the Vampire’s Ball that I think we realized he was your natural son instead of…” Ann had the grace to blush a little and for once, Sookie was glad she was vampire. Had she still been human, her face would have been beet red.
“Rick’s traveling,” Sookie replied. “You know how it is with college kids. Always something to see and no time for their parents.”
“Of course,” but Sookie could see Ann was disappointed. “Will this be okay?” she asked, gesturing toward the seating area they’d assembled.
Sookie took her seat and they fitted her with a mike. Eric agreed he’d join them for the second half of the questions, so he sat back just out of the view of the cameras. Rubio stood with him and Rasul headed out the front door. Sookie knew that soon the regulars would start to line up outside, waiting for the delayed opening. Rasul would help make certain the noise level didn’t rise too much. As she settled in, Sookie was glad she’d fed. It allowed her to quell the better part of her nervousness.
“So,” and Ann pasted on what Sookie thought must be her professional face. “We’re here live to talk with the most intriguing person in Louisiana, Ms Sookie Northman, the Vampire Queen of New Orleans!”
“Oh goodness!” Sookie replied, allowing her eyes to go wide. “That’s a mouthful! Why don’t you just call me Sookie?”
The interview started the way most of them did. How did she and Eric meet? What’s it like living with a thousand-year-old vampire? What’s an average night in the life of a vampire Queen? Do they really sleep in coffins?
Sookie was just about to suggest they call Eric over when Ann shifted a little and asked, “I hear you grew up around here. Is that right?”
“Not in Shreveport, but close,” Sookie answered. “I was born in Bon Temps, about twenty minutes from here.”
“We had an opportunity to speak with some of the people in Bon Temps who remember you,” and Ann’s smile transformed into something less friendly. “I mean, when you were human, before you became a vampire.” Sookie’s chest tightened. Her smile widened into the one she called her ‘crazy Sookie smile.’ She felt warm then, and safe, and knew it was Eric. She didn’t dare look at him. The camera missed nothing.
“It’s been a while,” Sookie replied. “I haven’t lived in Bon Temps in over twenty years, although I still have warm memories of the place.”
“Folks there said you were vocal about not wanting to become a vampire,” and Ann fussed with her notebook. “According to Tara du Rone, you were the last person she expected to agree to being made vampire. She told me about your willingness to accept vampires, but she said you were outspoken about never wanting to be turned.”
This question wasn’t in the material they’d been provided, but the red light on the camera was on, and Sookie knew that somewhere out there, people were glued to their seats, wondering. “That’s true,” she replied, and then lifted her chin so her voice would sound less uncertain. “I didn’t want to be vampire, not for a long time.”
“There’s some who say that becoming vampire wasn’t your choice,” Ann pressed. “They say you were attacked and that this was forcibly done to you.”
It was true, of course. Bill Compton had attacked her. He’d stolen her choice in the matter, and Sookie knew that even with Rick being vampire, she probably would have remained human to the end had Bill not done what he did. Sookie also knew how that would sound to an audience of humans where there were voices urging them to protect their own. “Well, I can see how some folks might think that,” and Sookie forced herself to chuckle. “Goodness knows, I was stubborn about it! Why, you can ask anyone about me and my pronouncements! But, no, in the end I made this decision.” Sookie lifted her eyes to where Eric sat, willing him to approach, and he did. “I believe you know my husband, Eric Northman,” she said to Ann, but let her eyes rest on her husband’s face, knowing how it looked, the devoted spouse. “I know it probably sounds corny, but when I had the chance to be with Eric forever, I took it.”
Eric played his part, kissing Sookie’s hand and then settling in the empty chair beside her. “I know it isn’t gallant,” Eric said in his teasing way, “but it’s true. Sookie is stubborn! If you’ve talked with the people in Bon Temps, then you know I almost lost her forever. She went north and I married another, but Sookie was my first love.”
“But, people say you’re over a thousand years old,” and Ann eye-rolled a little. “Surely, you’ve had at least one other…”
“No,” Eric interrupted. “Not in all those years. Frankly, I’d begun to despair. I’m sure your viewers have heard others refer to me as ‘the Viking,’ which is appropriate. Those are the times during which I was made. I was too busy then to think about family or relationships. I was a fighter, and times were different for my kind. We were solitary creatures out of necessity. We were misunderstood, hunted. The years of the Crusades and then the Reformation were particularly cruel. It was only in this century that vampires could consider the possibility that our races might be able to live together.”
Ann had taken on that dreamy look humans got when Eric started to tell his story. Sookie knew what Eric was doing. The interview could only run so many minutes. If he used those minutes to enthrall with his story-telling, spicing it with a mild glamour, the interviewer wouldn’t have the time or inclination to ask other, less pleasant questions. Sookie started to relax, but then Ann did something unexpected. She seemed to shake it off, her look becoming more alert. As soon as an opening presented, she cut Eric off, saying, “But, you have two other women you call your ‘daughters’. I guess you did find time to form those attachments.”
Sookie felt the shift, although she was sure his face didn’t betray it. Eric had become wary of this woman. “I do. My eldest I found in the forests of France. She’d been beaten and left for dead. There was something about her. She wasn’t like most women. She’d fought, and when I asked, she agreed to this life. And then Pam. She was a proper Victorian lady who risked all to escape the rules of her society. She begged to be vampire. It allowed her to be free.” He turned to Sookie, holding her hand, making the most of the moment. “But, no one touched my heart, until I met Sookie Stackhouse.” He looked around, “It was right here, in this spot. She came into my bar on the arm of another vampire, someone I knew. In a dark club surrounded by people who courted the vampire life, she was like a canary in a coal mine. She was wearing a white dress with red flowers, and I couldn’t take my eyes off her.”
“I sassed you,” Sookie remembered, “and you laughed.” She beamed at Eric in return.
“And now, you have a natural-born son,” Ann interrupted. “Corbett Eric Northman.”
“Yes,” and Sookie quieted.
“So, how did that happen?” and Ann leaned forward. She looked nice, but Sookie could see the edge to her now. “I know when I first learned about vampires after the Revelation, I thought there was only one way to become one, and now, we find out that’s not exactly the case.” Ann leaned more and it took Sookie everything she had not to lean away.
“We aren’t sure,” Eric answered. “It’s something of a mystery, but welcome all the same.” Sookie opened her mouth to protest, but then she didn’t. Eric was exerting a new kind of control through their bond and it wasn’t pleasant. “Of course, there are legends that this kind of thing is possible, but I don’t think any of us believed it.” He turned on his million-watt smile, “But, if anyone could do something extraordinary, it’s my Sookie.”
Ann was frowning now. Apparently, she hadn’t anticipated this answer, but she seemed to recover enough to be rude. “So, are you planning for more children?”
“If you mean more children like our son, then no,” Eric told her. “We’ve been assured that ability is lost to us.” He turned to Sookie, smiling gently. “It is a sadness for us, but we are grateful for the blessings we have been given.”
“Yes,” Sookie said, her smile frozen firmly in place. “We have our family and our friends, we have the good people of New Orleans and Louisiana. We’re happy the way things are.”
“And, that’s a wrap,” the man behind the camera called. Eric’s eyes narrowed, but Sookie laid her hand on his arm.
“I’m sorry if we stumbled there,” she said to Ann. “Those questions weren’t on the list we were given.”
“I thought you did well,” Ann shrugged, not apologizing. “You have to know people are talking. Inquiring minds…” and she signaled to her people. “We’ll wrap up and be out of your hair as fast as we can.”
“Good,” hissed Eric. “Otherwise I might kill her.”
Sookie knew the humans couldn’t understand, but the vampires in the room did. They turned toward the television people and Sookie hissed just as quickly, “Stop it!”
“What did you say?” Ann asked.
“Say?” and Sookie flashed her Queen smile, the one she’d started using more often. “We didn’t say anything. I suppose that sound is a little off-putting, but it’s just our way. It something we do when we finish a job or are ready to move onto something else.”
“Like a sigh?” Ann asked, her eyes sharp again.
“Yes, like that,” Sookie lied.
Sookie retreated to the back office where Hunter was waiting. She could smell sex and guessed her husband wasn’t the only one who’d had the idea to use this place. “You and Heidi?” she snipped. Hunter had the good grace to look a little embarrassed, but Sookie was too angry to care. “Please tell me you read those people,” she growled as she made a point of taking an armchair rather than sitting on the sofa.
Hunter confirmed Sookie’s suspicion. “The woman is ambitious. Her boss approved the interview because you’re both news, but she wanted to make this more. She wanted to expose something and parlay that into a promotion.”
Sookie thought about what the woman said and how she said it. “But why did she persist?” Sookie asked. “She should have relaxed into Eric’s version of the story, but she didn’t.” Sookie’s eyes narrowed, “Did you check her for glamour?”
Hunter’s grin hardened just a touch, “How would I do that?”
Sookie’s mouth dropped. It hadn’t occurred to her that her cousin wouldn’t recognize the feel in someone’s mind when they’d been glamoured. She struggled to put into words the thing she’d recognized almost by instinct. “It’s like feeling what isn’t there. For me, it was as if I see bright, shiny thoughts and then I run into a fogbank.” Hunter just shook his head. “Like you’re walking down a path, but then you lose your way?” Eric walked into the room and Sookie saw his nostrils flare as he registered the sex scent. He gave her that direct look but Sookie shook it off. “I don’t think Hunter can detect glamour,” she announced.
Eric’s gaze swiveled to Hunter. “How is that possible?”
“I honestly don’t know what y’all are talking about,” Hunter told them.
“Wait here,” and Eric was gone. After a minute, he returned with a young man. “Read him,” he ordered.
“You told him we’d be back here and you promised him a free pass to Fangtasia for a month if he played along,” Hunter recited.
Eric took the man from the room. After a bit, he returned with the same man. “And now?”
Hunter frowned. “I don’t understand,” he said. “It was there, and now it’s not.”
“Can you tell the difference? Can you tell his thoughts were altered?” Eric asked.
Hunter frowned again. “No,” he told them. “If I didn’t know it was there before, I wouldn’t know anything was missing, but it doesn’t feel any different to me.”
Sookie closed her eyes. It hadn’t occurred to her that Hunter’s skills might be different than her own had been. “Maybe it’s something he can learn,” she sighed. Without thinking, she lifted her phone and texted Desmond Cataliades, the only one she could think might have insight into what might be done.
“It’s good to know,” Eric assured Hunter. “Even without the ability to detect glamour, your skill is an asset.”
Sookie could tell Hunter felt he’d let her down. “Eric’s right,” she added. “You may not have a vampire detector, but your ability is stronger than mine ever was. I was lucky if I got impressions. You pull full sentences out of heads. It’s a strong gift.”
“Thanks,” Hunter mumbled. He glanced at his watch. “Look, it’s late. I was thinking I’d take Heidi out to see the stars, if that’s okay.”
“I’ll walk you out,” and Sookie slipped her hand through his arm. “So, Heidi?” she asked as they headed toward the back door.
“I like her,” Hunter shrugged. “She gets me.”
Sookie understood. “We’re headed to Indira’s Area. Pam’s there. You can join us, if you wish.”
“That’s okay,” and Hunter grinned. “Look, I’ll follow up with Desmond. He’ll call me back. Maybe he knows something,” and Hunter ducked his head before adding, “I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment…”
“Don’t you say that!” Sookie hissed. “Don’t!” She flung her arms around him and hugged tight. “Finding you was one of my best days. You are a charming, talented person. I’m proud to call you family and I love you, Hunter Savoy. Detecting glamour is no big thing, it’s not! If it’s something you can learn, then great. It’s one more thing that you can do, but that doesn’t take away from what you already are.” When Hunter didn’t look convinced, Sookie made him meet her eyes. “We are lucky to have you in our lives, Hunter! Having you on our side makes us safer and strong.”
“I know,” and Hunter hugged her in return, but Sookie couldn’t help thinking that somehow this news reminded him of that little boy who wasn’t enough for his own Mother.
“Well, that was unfortunate,” and Betty Jo snickered.
“For them,” Russell Edgington agreed. They’d watched the television interview with the Northmans closely. While the whisper campaign was going well, none of the King’s peers seemed inclined to turn gossip into action. Russell knew the danger of being seen as leading this kind of attack on the Viking. Northman’s kingdom was only a few miles away. The Viking hadn’t thought twice about launching a takeover from the kingdom next door last time, ending Felipe de Castro. What was one more move East? No, far better to have the attack, when it was made, come from another quarter; somewhere far from Mississippi.
“So obvious a lie,” Betty Jo was saying.
“But, to what purpose?” and Russell leaned back. “Is he lying to provide political cover for our kind? He said dhampirs are nothing but legend. Or was this his attempt to protect his Queen?”
“Which would make sense if Sookie Stackhouse was in league with witches,” and Russell’s Second laughed as she repeated the lie they’d woven.
“And the Viking enthralled to repeat what he’d been told,” and Russell sighed. “Anyone could see he was off his game. That interviewer should have been brought under his sway, but she wasn’t.”
Betty Jo set down her phone. “I’d say this calls for a celebration,” she announced. “In or out?”
“Talbot,” Russell sighed. “I owe him a trip. We have jazz at the Club. We can go there.”
“How’d you do it?” Betty Jo asked as they headed toward the door. Talbot met them in the hallway. He looked almost rosy and Russell wondered briefly which boy he’d taken this time.
“Talbot was really my inspiration,” and Russell kissed his consort’s hand. “You see, I figured out how my talented companion was using glamour to lie to me. It was quite clever, really. A variation that allowed the suggestion to lie dormant until the right trigger. The resulting lie was nearly flawless.”
Talbot didn’t look so happy anymore. “No worries, dear one,” Russell smiled mirthlessly. “It turned out to be a handy trick, and one I’ll use again,” and then the King let his fangs drop. “Just don’t think to use it on me again!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Talbot stammered, but they could all smell his fear.
“Of course,” Russell replied, as thought everything was normal. “Now, go get in the car. We’ll have a nice evening out. Much to celebrate, and tomorrow, we’ll see what your little trick has earned us.”