Chapter 40 – One Thread Pulls

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They had the playscape people in the old warehouse toward the back near the tracks. The land behind the warehouse was a ghost town of abandoned buildings that were once small manufacturers and stores. It allowed Supes easy access to the warehouse with enough cover to avoid being seen.

Karin sniffed deeply as they walked through the door. How could you not love that heady combination of fear and flop sweat? When humans gave off that particular perfume it meant you’d won. It might take another hour, maybe two, but somewhere in their little heads they’d already given up.

The vampires hadn’t glamoured him. The human was young, maybe in his twenties, and his skin was riddled with acne scars. “I didn’t talk to nobody! I know the play set you’re talking about. It was nicer than what we usually stock. It was in the back all by itself; special order.”

“And you took the call. You knew Rick Northman was coming to pick it up,” the vampire prompted. Karin didn’t know his name, but she knew he was one of Rubio’s.

“I didn’t take no call! I was sweeping in the back, like I told you!” the human wailed.

Karin walked straight past them, through the open door toward the back of the room. Hunter was there, standing out of sight, as she’d know he would be. “Well?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Hunter was giving her the look they all did now. He was afraid of her. Karin told herself that was good, wishing she really felt that way. Hunter stared at the floor as he told her, “He’s exhausted. I’m not sure he’s entirely right in the head,” and then Karin could see Hunter was weighing whether to say more.

Hunter wasn’t complicated. Karin knew all she had to do was wait, so she did. “He’s been glamoured,” Hunter finally admitted.

“I knew it!” Karin hissed.

“I shouldn’t have told you.” Hunter shook his head, “Look, I have no way of knowing how long ago it happened. I can feel it in there, but I can’t tell what it is.”

Karin heard the words but they didn’t make sense. There was only one thing that did. “Fucking Russell Edgington!” Karin snarled. “I knew he was behind this!”

In another instant, Rasul was standing with them. “Edgington?” he asked.

Hunter’s voice was rising. “Look, I told you! I don’t know! The guy out there? He’s a fangbanger. He hangs out at Fangtasia. He likes being bitten. The glamour I felt could be anything. You know the vamps around here prefer to glamour their fuck and feeds, especially when they’re one-night stands. There’s nothing that connects that glamour…”

But Karin wasn’t having it. “Finally, the thread we’ve been searching for.” Her words weren’t directed to anyone in particular, but Rasul chimed in.

“I’m ready,” he proclaimed. “I’ve been living under this cloud long enough. I help you with Edgington, my name is cleared, once and for all.”

Hunter repeated the obvious. “You’re not listening to me!”

“Why should anyone?” and Pam entered the increasingly crowded room. Her eyes flicked between Hunter and her sister. “What’s this I heard about glamour?”

“The guy in there,” Hunter explained. “I can see it, the glamour I mean, but I can’t read it, and like I told Karin, no telling how old it is. It could be a fuck and feed. It could be someone wanted him to stop stalking them. It could be anything.”

“Aunt Sookie could tell what it is,” Hunter reminded them. “Wouldn’t take her any time at all!”

“But Sookie’s all the way up in Massachusetts,” Pam sighed.

Karin couldn’t believe it. “Why are you waiting?” she hissed. “You and I both know it was Russell! We’re supposed to believe this guy who just happens to be in the right place and has been glamoured isn’t part of this?”

“No one’s saying that,” Pam huffed. “What we are saying is that proving it’s connected is important. Think, Karin! Russell is the King of Mississippi. He’s almost as old as Eric and he’s been King much longer. You don’t just level these kinds of accusations. We need proof, then there’ll be a hearing. We’ll have to be prepared to show what we have in open court to the Pythoness herself.”

“Bullshit!” Karin hissed. “So that bastard can lawyer up?”

“Enough!” and it was Master at the door. “We can all hear you,” and he stared at Karin. “You know the rules,” he scolded. “Our laws are there for our protection and I am sworn to uphold them.”

Karin forced her head to bow. “Yes, Master.” She twisted her voice into something she hoped Master would believe was her acceptance and she remained bowed over, waiting for him to formally release her.

They stilled around her. She could feel Hunter’s discomfort grow. He shifted from foot to foot, and then Master said, “Enough, Karin. Rise and obey.”

“As you command,” she replied, but she waited to rise until she knew both Master and Pam had gone.

Hunter was still staring, so Karin walked from the room and Rasul followed her. Master and Pam had joined the group surrounding the human. He was crying and he’d wet himself. “So weak!” she snorted.

“Do you think they’ll hold him?” Rasul asked, gesturing so she’d know he meant the human.

Karin shook her head. “Too many questions. They’ll glamour him again and release him. When the Queen returns, they’ll try to pick him up again.”

“I suppose,” and Rasul jerked his head toward a place in the back. If Master and the others listened, their conversation would still be overheard, but if there was more distance, it was possible the others would be too busy to eavesdrop. Understanding what they were doing, Rasul and Karin settled into their positions, neither speaking until they felt reasonably sure Master and the others were focused on the interrogation. “There is another possibility,” Rasul reminded her.

“You mean Mustapha’s man?” To the best of her knowledge, the Were who called in sick the day Peter was murdered hadn’t been questioned by vampires. It was part of the truce with the Weres and it made Karin bristle.

“Jace,” Rasul confirmed the Were.

Karin stared straight ahead. “You know I’ve been ordered not to harass the Packmaster or any of his Weres.” It had been another of Master’s commands. Master was determined to keep the peace, which included accepting the Weres’ interrogation of their own man.

“You wouldn’t harass him,” Rasul assured her. “You wouldn’t touch him in any way, but, tell me? Did that Command forbid you from being a witness to someone else doing the questioning?”

Karin felt the first wisps of suspicion. “What do you get out of this?” she asked.

“Like I said before, I prove myself. I win back my reputation and I put any idea that I’m still Russell’s creature to rest.” The both knew it was never that easy, still it met Karin’s needs. “I’m surprised Thalia isn’t here,” Rasul muttered.

“Be happy she isn’t,” Karin snapped before saying, “No, Master didn’t forbid me from witnessing.”

Rasul’s eyes were on the group interrogating the human. “They’re done,” he announced. He straightened and started walking away, but as he passed, he whispered, “Be ready. I know where the Were lives. It won’t be long.”

When she joined the group Master stared at her, but then resumed talking, “Glamour him. When the Queen returns, we’ll pick him back up. She has a gift when it comes to dealing with glamour.” You could almost feel Hunter recoil and Master must have as well because he added, “Thanks to Hunter, we know it’s there. Now, we have a chance to dig further.” He did that thing he did where he looked around, making you feel as if you were all part of this with him. “This is good work. It could be our first lead. We’ll know soon. Keep digging. Press your sources. There was money involved. No one kills so many without compensation.”

“Could it have been the start of a takeover?” Indira asked.

“Why would they have started with Bon Temps?” Rasul shot back. “A real takeover would have started with the Sheriffs. This doesn’t have any of the markers.”

It was Pam who said what most of them believed. “It feels more like payback.”

“Who would hold that kind of grudge?” Karin sneered. There were a number of looks shot her way. Every vampire had a list of those who wished them ill. No one lived a long time in this life without collecting enemies and Eric Northman was no exception.

“What about your progeny?” Indira asked Master. “Could this have been something more personal? Someone who hated Rick?”

Pam snort-laughed. “Baby Fang? He hasn’t lived long enough to make friends, let alone enemies!

“Then, someone else…” but Master clearly didn’t agree.

“Rick was working at Fangtasia under Rubio’s supervision. Mustapha’s people were there working with all of them every day. Stackhouse and Merlotte saw them. There were no problems with the locals, no fights.” Karin could feel his confusion. “Everyone seemed to like them.”

It was a sword to the heart. Karin thought of her life with Peter in Lafayette before they moved to Bon Temps. Peter had been happy there. There were guests in their house. People waved to him on the street. It was the same here, but even more so there, and Karin felt the weight of her guilt settle heavy again. She had insisted they move. It was the women who followed him. She’d hated that. Maybe if she hadn’t been so possessive…

“Are you listening?” Master asked.

It snapped her back and when she glared at him, she saw Master wasn’t glaring back. He’d known. He’d felt her drifting. “Yes,” she answered, less angry than she’d been a second ago.

“I’d like you to rest in Pam’s house,” he told her.

Karin’s jaw worked. She didn’t want to explain herself here in front of the others, didn’t feel she needed to, but Master could force this. “I’ve taken a vow,” she hissed through clenched teeth. “I won’t sleep in another bed until I find them.”

Pam understood. Karin wished she could wipe the sympathetic look off her sister’s face, but she needed allies. Master sniffed and his nose crinkled. She knew she smelled of dirt and graves, but what did it matter? “You shower at each rising,” he told her. “No exceptions.”

Indira had the human in her entourage. It seemed the evening was at an end. “You coming?” Hunter asked Pam.

“We’re heading to Fangtasia,” Pam told Karin. “Why don’t you come with us?”

Master watched her. He’d be sitting on his throne tonight, enthralling the vermin. It was expected. There would be people coming in, reporting. It was possible there would be news, but the idea of standing among so many people, laughing, dancing, was too much. He knew the moment her decision was made. “Karin will meet us at the house at first rising,” Master announced, and then glanced at Rasul. “Of course, you will be joining us as well.”

“Of course, my King,” Rasul answered, bowing smooth as silk. He didn’t so much as glance Karin’s way as he left in Pam’s wake, but he didn’t need to. They understood each other.

“I expect to hear from Thalia,” Master said when it was just the two of them. Thalia hadn’t said why or where she was going. Of course, it wasn’t as if she owed Karin anything, and Master’s words reminded her where Thalia’s real loyalties lie. They may have each other’s backs when they were abroad, but when it came down to it, Thalia stood with Master.

“I’m sure it will be an enlightening conversation,” Karin replied.

“She may have news,” Master teased.

Then, that was it. Karin let her temper slip from its leash. “If you have something to tell me, do it!” Karin raged. “If this is about letting me know how few allies I have, mission accomplished! I get it. All I have is you and even that’s conditional!”

Master’s eyes widened and he reared back. “That was not my intent!” he protested. “You will always have my support and my love.” Now it was Karin’s turn to be shocked. In all the years she’d been with him, Eric Northman had never used that word. He told her when he was proud. He praised her, but love? It knocked her back. He must have seen it. “You are my daughter,” he told her. “I chose you, Karin. I chose you first and if I had it to do again, I would search the world until I found you.” He opened his arms and, for a minute, Karin was tempted to find comfort there, but she managed to stay strong and he let his arms drop. “We will find them,” Master told her, “whoever was responsible for this, then we will bring them to justice.”

That night as she stood on the hill in the cemetery, Karin found herself wishing she’d taken something of Peter’s. It was sentimental, foolish even. What good could come of carrying something that had no use in her line of work, but the idea that all she’d have were her memories, no matter how perfect, caused an ache to open in her chest. Tomorrow night they would bury him in ground somewhere north. At least there, the seasons would play over him. He had missed them here, true winter and fall. “Peter!” she called. Nearby, a night bird answered and Karin wondered if somehow, he’d heard her.

xxxXXXxxx

Stephen offered her another goblet of blood, but Thalia declined. He had been Tania’s Second. After the takeover, Pennsylvania made noises about asserting its control over the New England kingdom, but there was too much distance and not enough interest. Stephen stepped into the void and made the right declarations, and now he lived in Tania’s jewel of a palace in Boston’s Beacon Hill section.

Beggar King,’ they called him behind his back. By vampire custom, the title was deserved. He hadn’t won the throne in any legitimate way. Instead, he’d fallen into it by being the last vampire standing. “I suppose I could demand payment for allowing your people safe passage,” he told Thalia.

Somewhere in the western part of the state, Sookie, Rick, and the rest of their contingent were attending funeral services. No one bothered to ask Stephen’s permission, nor had they given him advance notice, but that was the kind of King he was. “You could try,” Thalia sniffed, and that ended it. They both knew he couldn’t force the issue.

“So, aside from insulting me, what other business brings you to my home?” he asked.

“News that may improve your position.” Thalia let the words hang.

Stephen appeared willing to wait but, finally, he tired. Throwing himself down in a chair, he scowled. “Well?”

“Fairies,” and Thalia sat as well. “They reside here in your kingdom.”

It had the desired effect. Stephen leaned forward, his long nose twitching. “Nonsense! The Fae are gone, crossed over. What are we talking about?”

“Like all myths and legends, the stories of their demise have been…exaggerated.” Thalia nodded to the goblet and Stephen quickly poured, setting it beside her. “Hybrids,” Thalia explained simply.

“Like your Queen?” Thalia wasn’t surprised he knew about Sookie. Most did these days.

“Even more Fae than Sookie Northman,” and Thalia knew the hook was set.

“What may I do to help you?” Thalia allowed herself a small smile. The idea of approaching the Rhode Island compound on her own was daunting. From what she could tell, these half-Fae had resources. They’d had connections and enough money to hire kidnappers in England. Their companies were publicly traded. Their faces were photographed alongside human politicians.

“A few fighters to join me? I don’t expect trouble, but I need to speak with them, and you know the Fae. They appreciate a good show.” Had she been making this pitch to an older monarch, Thalia’s request would have earned her some well-deserved scorn, but this was Stephen.

“Of course!” he beamed before adding the obvious. “I’ve never met a Fae.”

And if you had, you wouldn’t have agreed so easily,’ Thalia thought. This trip would probably result in at least one final death. If she had others with her, it lowered the odds that the death would be hers. Too many wrote the Fae off as ethereal, effeminate creatures. Thalia remembered them as they were, fierce, merciless fighters. ‘Scorpions,’ she thought, ‘Willing to stab themselves if it meant they could kill you in the process.’ These Cranes might be hybrids, but the cold, conniving nature Sookie described sounded pure Fae to Thalia.

“Do you think they have gold?” Stephen asked. Thalia almost laughed.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” she purred. “They consort with all kinds of creatures. Who knows what treasures they’ve amassed in their mansion?” Thalia could almost see Stephen conjuring pictures of leprechauns and pots of gold. She couldn’t envision him lasting more than a decade. “Maybe you should come with us?” It was a spur of the moment invitation and he answered as she would have predicted.

“Oh, I wish I could, but I’m King! I need to remain here.” She was sure she smelled a faint whiff of cowardice after he exclaimed, “My people need me and that means I can’t leave the City. Of course, you understand.”

“Of course,” and Thalia made a bow. The Viking would have called her out for her sarcasm, but not Stephen.

“You’ll have three of my best fighters!” he beamed. “No one can match my warriors. Meet me here tomorrow night and we will finalize your plans.”

“I’m used to picking my own people,” Thalia growled. Her pretend protest had the desire effect.

“Do you doubt me?” Stephen pulled himself up. It was pathetic, but Thalia just bowed again. She knew he’d trot out his best now. There were probably a few vampires left in his palace from Tania’s time who were worth something. The smart ones would try to dodge this assignment, but Stephen’s pride had been pricked. He’d consider it a matter of honor and anyone foolish enough, or strapped with enough debt to still be under his rule, would be honor-bound to obey their King.

The vampire-friendly hotel was only a few blocks from the Palace. Thalia had stayed here many times, but never had she seen it so quiet. There had been a time when Boston was the northern hub of vampire activity. Now, that honor belonged to New York. “Messages?” she asked at the desk.

The human removed a few slips of paper. Though old-fashioned, taking messages on paper rather than leaving voice mails on hotel phones, nevertheless, this suited Thalia. Paper could be burned. Recordings had a way of resurrecting themselves at awkward times. “Will you need anything else?” the human asked. It was in the lift of his eyebrow. Thalia knew what he was offering, but she made a habit of never feeding where she slept. It only took a stare and the human dropped his eyes and decided to get busy with something else.

Thalia read the message from Pam on her way to her suite. The news wasn’t heartening, but Thalia wasn’t altogether surprised. It was what convinced her she was right. This was too well-covered to have been conceived by vampires. Russell Edgington was fully capable of the savagery of attack. What he wasn’t capable of was keeping his mouth shut about it. Thalia couldn’t think of a vampire who was. It was in their nature to preen and boast of their victories.

Settling on the bed, Thalia opened Nigel’s message next. Nigel was her factor in England and currently serving as her conduit to the spy she’d placed in Charles’, England’s vampire King’s court. Edward Madden and his English King had turned up too often in her affairs. First there’d been the night she picked up Rick Northman and his mate in Liverpool. The Fae attacked and although Edward Madden seemed surprised, it was possible it had all been an act. Then, there were the inquiries made about dhampirs, which research drew her back to Europe. Madden was in the middle of that, too.

Thalia knew Edward Madden as an opportunist, but twice in some way connected to Rick Northman was too much for coincidence. ‘Nothing new,’ Nigel’s message read. ‘They are getting ready for a Summit. Spain is hosting. There is a lot of activity around shifting investments, trying to second guess Brexit.”

Charles was greedy and Edward Madden had a reputation for financial wizardry. It seemed unlikely either would be able to spare the time or attention for something like this. Thalia considered letting the spy go, but then decided against it. ‘A few more weeks won’t hurt,’ she thought, making a mental note to renew payments.

Next, Thalia pulled out the sketch Pam provided her of the grounds and entrance to the Crane’s Rhode Island estate. It was annoying, not being able to use either Google Earth or drone technology to gather more detailed surveillance, but nothing electronic worked when it came to Fae. Thalia picked up her phone again, texting the contact from Wellesley College.

It was a long shot. She’d been someone who worked with Fran Miller when the witch lectured at Wellesley. Thalia had come into the idea when she remembered stories Rick told her about Brigid’s mother being a Wellesley girl and how Elizabeth Crane, Brigid’s Fae grandmother, used her money to try to hurt the university. It prompted Thalia to ask Sookie if she remembered any of Fran’s contacts and that led to several more stories about Sookie’s time in Boston. Fran Miller had maintained several friendships from her Wellesley days, people Sookie and Rick had met, including the former Head of Admissions. Thalia was scheduled to meet this woman, Grace Adler, at a tea room in Boston before she headed back to Stephen’s palace to meet her ‘troops.’

The confirmation came through rather quickly and Thalia sighed, laying back on her bed. It would still be many hours before her rest claimed her and she decided to use that time productively to review all she knew about the events leading up to the attack; however, as hard as Thalia tried, she found her thoughts returning again and again to Karin. She remembered the woman she’d known over the centuries and she compared her to the woman she knew now. It was a theme in books, the power of love, one Thalia had always considered a foolish myth until now. Karin was scattered and wrecked and it offended Thalia that something so human could destroy someone she admired.

“I will never love,” Thalia said aloud, and she knew she would do whatever was necessary to be certain it was a promise she would keep.

xxxXXXxxx

The tearoom in Boston was crowded and over-warm, the air heavy with humid, brewing leaves and sugar. Thalia’s eyes swept over the restaurant, taking in those who likely lived close by and those who were obvious tourists. Then her eyes fastened on a gray-haired woman seated at a table for two. She was elegant in a way that old money shapes people. Her hair was just so and her posture was perfect. Thalia didn’t bother to ask. She knew.

“Grace Adler,” she said as she seated herself and, in the next moment, she smelled it. “You’re a witch.”

“Don’t be so surprised,” Grace replied. “Fran was my dearest friend and, by now, you should know witches are never so happy as when they’re in each other’s company.”

“You might have warned me.” Thalia waved away the waiter, then settled back in her chair, leaning as far away as she could without drawing attention.

Grace seemed to find it amusing. “It’s not contagious!” she teased before looking around. “Or, are you worried you’ll be seen with me? Consorting with witches is a punishable offense for your kind these days, isn’t it?”

“It’s not like before,” Thalia acknowledged.

“Well whose fault is that?” There was no accusation in Grace’s tone. She simply smoothed a non-existent wrinkle from the tablecloth in front of her and picked up her thin teacup again.

Thalia waited, but it seemed she’d finally met her match. Grace Adler seemed perfectly content to allow the silence to stretch between them. When Thalia felt the growl growing in her throat, Grace simply started a leisurely perusal of the room around them. “What do you think of that woman’s hat?” she asked. “I’m not sure I approve of fascinators on woman after a certain age. It makes one look so needy, don’t you think?”

“I’d like to know more about Elizabeth Crane,” Thalia announced. “I’d like to know more about all the hybrids. Is that something you know anything about?”

“It was tragic, what happened to her granddaughter,” Grace replied. That made Thalia lean forward, but Grace just sniffed. “I do seem to be surprising you a great deal this evening, but I don’t understand why you would feel that way. As I told you, Fran was my friend. Rick is her godson. He spent a great deal of time here in Boston, so, of course, I spent time with him, too. You should know I’m very fond of both Rick and his mother. So, what should I call her? Queen Sookie? That is her proper title, I suppose?”

Thalia was having a hard time deciding whether she liked this woman. “Queen Sookie,” she answered, knowing how much the Viking’s mate would hate it.

“Liar!” Grace laughed. “I can’t see Sookie liking that kind of formality one little bit,” and she relaxed her shoulders just enough for Thalia to notice. “I suppose you’re wondering if Elizabeth Crane had anything to do with that terrible business,” Grace guessed.

“Relations between she and her granddaughter were strained,” Thalia replied.

Grace tipped her head back just so as she considered how to answer. “I suppose that would be one way to say it,” she mused. Her eyes focused as she started talking. “You had to see Elizabeth with Barbara, her daughter, Brigid’s mother. Barbara was the best of her kind, so bright and charming… charismatic. You couldn’t help but love her. I never met Brigid, but I saw photos at Fran’s home. Brigid and her Mother looked very much alike. That must have been a stab to Elizabeth Crane’s icy heart!”

It was hard for Thalia not to get caught in Grace’s own easy charm. She was to all appearances a blue-blood, right down to the accent, but her words told a different story. “Is this a witch thing?” she asked. “Your lack of civility when it comes to those you don’t like?”

Grace almost looked pleased. “It might be! I like to think that witches see things for what they are, right down to their most essential elements. It makes communication so much easier, don’t you think?”

“And what would you say are Elizabeth Crane’s most essential elements?” Thalia asked.

“You do think she had something to do with this, don’t you?” Grace pressed.

“I don’t know,” Thalia replied, and then she looked around, wondering who else might be listening in.

“Don’t bother,” Grace told her. “I placed a dampening spell on our conversation the minute you sat down. It’s why the waiter hasn’t been by to freshen my pot,” and Grace pointed at the teapot resting near her. “We’ll be a foggy memory to everyone here, just part of the experience of high tea.” Grace poured just a half-cup before lifting the top of the pot and sighing. “It is inconvenient, though. I quite like this blend,” and then she laid her hands in her lap. “I’m not sure I believe that Elizabeth Crane would harm her own granddaughter, regardless of any bad blood that might be between them. Elizabeth is a rare bitch, but she’s fierce about her family. She actually talks about them in terms of bloodlines. She was devastated when Barbara rebelled. I think she always believed Barbara would regret her decision and come back to the family fold eventually, but then there was that accident. Elizabeth was furious. It was grief, of course, but it triggered a second round of retribution against the College. You see, she blamed Wellesley for allowing her daughter to meet the Irish person in the first place, so when Barbara died with him, it just reminded Elizabeth of the how this all started. She contacted donors and made things uncomfortable for a few months, but eventually her temper eased and her meddling stopped.”

“Why didn’t you just spell her?” Thalia asked. It was kind of a low blow, but Grace seemed to find it amusing.

“You really don’t understand magic, do you?” Grace observed. “It’s not as easy as all that and placing spells on Supernatural beings is particularly tricky. Creatures like the Cranes have so much magic anyway. They detect it almost immediately and despite all their manners, they aren’t above hunting you down and killing you for toying with them. Playing with that bunch carries enough risk for any lifetime.”

The two women eyed each other. Thalia knew she was expected at Stephen’s shortly. “So, you don’t believe they were involved?” Thalia recapped and she started to get up.

“Oh, but you do,” Grace countered, “and you need something more from me, which is fine, because I’d like something from you, too.”

Thalia found herself settling back again as she asked, “What is it you think I want from you that you haven’t already provided?”

“You need me to provide a protection spell,” Grace answered. “You don’t know who was behind this terrible tragedy. It’s taken loved ones from Eric Northman’s family and threatened his children. I heard about the baby. I’m sure she’s beautiful, and nothing’s more vulnerable than an infant.”

Thalia couldn’t help herself. She glanced around the room, half-expecting to see vampires discovering her here in the company of witches. “It wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask for that, but a protection spell would allow all of us to rest easier,” Thalia confessed.

“I’d be happy to oblige, but I will name my own price,” Grace said, wiping her hands on the napkin. “Sookie and her husband are traveling the country making the case for vampires to receive equal treatment from humans. I’ve seen their interviews and they’re very persuasive.” When she was sure she had Thalia’s attention, Grace said, “I want them to use those same skills to convince vampires that witches are not the enemy.”

“I have no doubt Sookie would try, seeing as you are such good friends,” Thalia drawled, “but I don’t think even she can change the minds of vampires.”

“She could try…” Grace started.

“Perhaps you don’t appreciate the danger you’d bring to them,” Thalia hissed. “There were vampires ready to condemn Sookie just because there was a hint of her being involved with witches.”

“It is my price,” Grace declared, laying her napkin across her plate.

I’ll ask,” Thalia shrugged, “but, at the moment, I have other concerns. Soon, I will confront Elizabeth Crane, someone, as you’ve pointed out, more than capable of killing. If I don’t survive, I won’t be passing that message to my Queen, so, any last words of advice?”

“Don’t ring the bell when you go there,” Grace sniffed.

“And you’re sure she had nothing to do with this?” Thalia asked one last time.

“No, I’m not sure,” Grace confessed, “but killing one of her own would run counter to everything I know about Elizabeth Crane. I don’t think it was them.” Thalia rose and Grace rose as well. “You won’t forget? You will ask Sookie?”

Fat chance,’ Thalia thought, but aloud she replied, “If I don’t meet my final death, I will.”

9 thoughts on “Chapter 40 – One Thread Pulls

  1. Rasul is still suspicious to me –he’s too eager to turn away the spotlight from him to others. I thought vampires were a bit more patient than that -something doesn’t seem to be right there.

    Thalia has found some interesting company. I do hope she and the shoddy troops she’s being lent by the MA king will get the job done and not allow her to be hurt. Quite a clue the witch gave her at the end of the conversation.

    Poor Karin –I hope, in the dark recesses of her mind she knows her maker does care for her. But….grief takes time and can be blinding when at its zenith…..

    Great chapter!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. What’s up with Rasul? He’s a bit jumpy for a vampire. Karin needs her smarts if she’s going through whatever plans Rasul has. I hope she doesn’t meet up with him She’s not herself now She’s in so much pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a bit like a Hercule Poirot mystery, so many possible villains, how to sort them out correctly and expose the one (ones) behind the attack. I get why Grace Adler doesn’t think Brigid’s grandmother was behind it, and yet based on the evidence, Brigid was not meant to be killed, she was impaled on the fence apparently accidentally. Might her grandmother have wanted to have her (and her unborn child) kidnapped and the plan went awry? I can’t help still thinking Russell is somehow involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, just wow. The depth and despair of Karins rage is just compelling, what great storytelling. I also think that Brigit was supposed to be kidnapped and not killed so that could put the Crane family to blame. I just don’t know and that is what makes this story so good. I’m blood thirsty enough that I want all Sookie and Eric enemies to meet bad ends. Thalia commitment to not ever wanting to love makes me think it may find her despite her best efforts. Again, thanks for this wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, so many possible enemies. Like the others I’m second guessing Rasul and his motives, along with feeling Brigid was to be kidnapped not killed. Russell is still a part of this, even if it is only through his gossip and not actual actions on his part. Interesting advice to Thalia about not ringing the bell when she gets to the Cranes, hoping that will be explained. Still worried about Karin. She isn’t thinking rationally and I’m worried she will do something to get herself into more trouble. Can’t wait for more of this story, you have us all on the edges of our seats.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m doubting Rasul also. Something about the way he’s acting is just not sitting well with me. What’s with the advice about ringing the Crane’s doorbell? Guess maybe we’ll find out soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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