Nautical Note: When sailing, you can see the play of wind on the sails, and you can see the movement of the water. But there can occur a situation where in spite of all tell tales and signs, you experience the need to constantly correct your course and bearing. When this occurs, you say that you are experiencing a persistent motion.
Alcide grabbed his iPhone. He scrolled through the contacts looking for Jason Stackhouse. The were panther had been helping the Pack in their search for Sookie Stackhouse. “At least I have some good news for someone,” the Pack Master thought.
Speaking with Pam was such a cramp in the ass. Petsmart? Alcide smiled in spite of himself. He was definitely going to have to think up something crushing for their next conversation. The ring tone switched to the sound of Michele Stackhouse asking him to leave a message.
“Stackhouse? It’s Herveaux. You can tell the police to call off the search. Pam has her. She’s in the hospital, but should recover. I’ll have someone contact you.”
Alcide hit the end button and leaned back in his chair. He thought about April. She had been short and wiry and feisty. Telling her parents had been hard. She hadn’t been a universal favorite. In fact, if he had to compare her to anyone, it would have been Jannalyn. April had had that same fire and aggressive in-your-face attitude about the world and her place in it. She would have been a great breeder. In retrospect, Alcide wasn’t surprised that Sam had been attracted to her. She was just his type. Not for the first time, Alcide wondered where Sam Merlotte had run to.
The technician completed transcribing the conversations for the day. Where she was able to identify those involved, she made the appropriate notes. For those that had used only first names, she added a page of probable options. She checked her work twice for errors. It didn’t pay to make mistakes around here. Of course, the pay was good, and there was always a chance that someone would take a fancy to her and she could end up with a Vegas showgirl body forever. All in all – it was a risk worth taking.
She made a local print of the transcripts and walked toward Horst’s office. Sandy Seacrest might be the business second for Felipe de Castro, but Horst was the head of the rest. If rumors were true, Horst might end up with all of it. The economy was not recovering. And as a result, Joe Public was not coming to Vegas for a fun-filled weekend. Revenues were down and tempers were short.
She knocked on the door.
“Enter.” Horst looked up as the red-head walked through the door. He remembered her. She was the one pulling transcripts from the Shreveport area. Information was a wonderful thing. It took some payroll investment to employ his listening pool, but there were nuggets that had come through which had proven invaluable. There had been a suggestion to replace the humans with automated voice recognition software. But his King and he both believed that humans were more dependable than software or spies. At least most of the time. There had been instances where the devices had been discovered and mis-information fed. And occasionally there was an oversight or error in the transcription. As a result, Horst generally made an effort to cross-verify information when possible. It avoided embarrassing mistakes. Everyone knew that mistakes were generally fatal.
He held his hand out for the paper. “From the Pack Master’s house?”
The red-head nodded. “Yes, Master. He was speaking with Pam Ravenscroft. He also left a message for someone named Stackhouse. He said that they could call off the search and that ‘she’ had been found.”
“Nothing from the Fangtasia listening station?”
She shook her head. Horst hadn’t expected anything different. Pam was a competent sheriff. Other than the fact that he didn’t trust her, she was one of their best producers. She could close deals and she took appropriate risks. Most important – she wasn’t sloppy. Too bad some of her contacts didn’t take notes.
Horst scanned the page. In this instance, he was not worried about fact checking. Alcide Herveaux had demonstrated an almost reckless disregard for his own security. For the Pack Master to think that somehow he would be exempt from spying was ludicrous. Herveaux’s outsized ego had played to their advantage for years.
“Good. Very good. Thank you for bringing this so quickly to my attention, Miss…”
“Candy,” she said in a blushing rush.
‘Of course she is,’ he thought. He fixed a smile on his face. “Well, Candy. You should be done working shortly. Perhaps you would like to join me once your shift finishes? I could reward you personally.” He could hear her heart beat pick up. A light flush ran across her skin. Delicious.
“Of course, Master! I… I would love to!”
Horst made direct eye contact and broadened his smile. “Horst, Candy. You may call me Horst.”
“Sure… Horst. I’ll… well… I’ll see you soon.”
“Well, then. It’s a date. Back to work!” He watched her turn and sway her way out of the office. Pathetic. She didn’t match the magnificence of his matched donor pool. But variety did offer certain spice. And she did have lovely skin. Perhaps she would hold his interest beyond an hour. “Yes,” he thought. “Far superior to software.”
He picked up the phone and called his King’s personal assistant. When the woman answered, he said “Where is he? I have something he will want to see.”
“His majesty is in his garden. I will ask him if he has time for you. Please hold.”
Horst smiled to himself. Yes. This information was most timely. Sam Merlotte had arrived in Vegas two days ago, looking for money and a place to stay.
Pam flexed her back and heard the satisfactory sound of her vertebrae cracking. She had been ‘enthralling the vermin’ for the past two hours. ‘Some things never change,’ she thought. Under her breath she said, “It’s like being on exhibit at the zoo.” She knew that the vampires would hear her. They heard everything.
She heard Thalia’s breathy laugh. “That may be so, but in this zoo the creatures bite. Maybe you should think about this more as an alligator park.” Pam turned her head slowly, until she zeroed in on the small vampire sitting in a corner booth across the bar. As usual, she was being buzzed by her fan club. They had stationed themselves at the surrounding tables. Those who were bolder would walk slowly by her table at regular intervals, watching her with their peripheral vision. Thalia extended her fangs and hissed dramatically, illustrating her point.
Pam smiled in return and nodded. ’Well,’ she thought. ’It could be worse.’ For one thing, Pam now dressed as she wished. Eric had insisted she wear an endless parade of Morticia Addams and Vampire whore-inspired costumes. He knew that it had been torture. She could still feel the creep of cheap polyester and rayon on her skin. And the smell! The chemicals used in the manufacturing never went away. It made her smell too. And then that smug bastard would sit there, in his designer jeans and Egyptian cotton shirts and laugh at her! Not that it had been all one-sided. The time she treated the inside crotch of his favorite black jeans with nettle came to mind. Odorless and very effective. Especially since he never seemed to wear undergarments. The way he leaped up… Pam smiled broadly.
She missed him.
Indira and Thalia were with her tonight. Maxwell had the night off. He was going to visit Sookie. Pam had been to the hospital to see her a couple of times. She couldn’t tell if Sookie was happy to see her or not. She had responded to some questions, and there had been a weak smile. But for the most part, Sookie had seemed to drift in and out. One minute she would be looking at Pam. The next she would be miles away.
Pam had asked her about Sam; did she know where he was. Sookie had shaken her head. When Pam asked why Sookie didn’t contact her; let her know what was happening, Sookie’s eyes had filled with tears and she had seemed to shrink into herself. Then she had started rocking herself in bed. It was like she just checked out. Eventually Pam became alarmed and found a nurse. They had administered a sedative. Sookie had calmed then and slipped into something that looked like a half sleep.
“What was that about?” Pam had asked.
The nurse had answered her in that cool, detached professional way that medical people get. “It could have been anything. She has good days and bad. The doctor thinks she needs a long rest; to get her feet back under her. Someplace she can feel safe again.”
That had been the day Ludwig told her there was a timeline on getting Sookie out of the hospital.
“Two days and ticking,” thought Pam. “Two days to find somewhere safe for Sookie.”
One thing Pam knew; If she removed Sookie from the state Felipe would punish her. She hadn’t heard anything directly from the king or his people, but she knew it as surely as she knew that sunshine and vampires didn’t mix. In fact, she was probably due punishment anyway. Sookie was damaged and on her watch. If Felipe was looking for an excuse to make her miserable, this would be a good one.
But Pam also knew with certainty that if Sookie stayed anywhere in de Castro’s territory her future was bleak. He would find out about this. He would decide that she was best protected elsewhere. And once he realized that she was damaged and couldn’t be used, he would find a way to end her. One more inconvenient loose end wrapped up. After all, he may have consented to the contract between Freyda and Eric, but his sole liability was as a signing witness. He had no legal obligation to abide by the rules. That protection was Freyda’s responsibility. Of course, Felipe had extended his personal promise, but that had never seemed to bother him overmuch in the past. He had screwed with Sookie’s head either directly or by interfering with Eric and didn’t waste breath apologizing.
Pam realized she had made a decision. Years ago, before Eric had called her to help with the club, she had lived in Minnesota. Maude, the Queen and Pam couldn’t be more different. Still, they had formed a friendship. Pam would call her from the office once the club closed.
Felipe lounged on the settee. The soft suede felt rich against his skin. The sound of water was all around him. This was his favorite place. Every plant in this walled garden bloomed white. Some of the specimens were very rare. All were either night blooming or remained open once the sun set. The dryness of the desert air robbed most gardens of their scent. The odor simply couldn’t linger without humidity. The gardener had addressed the concern by installing dozens of small fountains and basins throughout the garden. There were also misters that regularly pushed out clouds of vapor. The overall effect was a banquet for the nose and eye. For some vampires the smell of all the flowers was overwhelming. But for de Castro it was like returning home. It made him recall warm nights in Spanish courtyards. It made him feel young.
Felipe could feel the shift in the air that signaled the arrival of Angie. While it was not unheard of, his having a vampire as a personal assistant was unusual. But Angie was many things to the King. He smelled her scent. She wore a blend that purposely complimented the floral scent of this place. De Castro smiled as he opened his eyes.
“I apologize for interrupting your time. Horst is requesting an audience.”
Felipe turned his head toward her. “Any idea what is so important?”
“He seemed excited. He asked to see you even though he knew you were here.”
That caught Felipe’s attention. Horst understood his feelings about this place and was generally considerate of his King’s need for memories and solitude. “Well. I suppose you should ask him to join me.” De Castro shifted his feet to the ground and sat up. He reached for the robe at the foot of the chair. It wasn’t really necessary to cover himself, but there was something psychological about not appearing too available to minions; even trusted ones. It allowed them to assume too much.
Felipe reached for the goblet of Royalty. He did not believe in this mainstreaming trend. He made no pretensions of drinking synthetic blood. It was offensive and simply dishonest. He was vampire. He was meant to eat in a certain way, and it was his right to do so. His donor pool was of the finest and they were regularly screened and replaced. Only the best.
There had been a suggestion from a human representing the Nevada Gaming Control Board that his donors be registered, or that he use the donor pool through the Federal Bureau of Vampire Affairs. De Castro had smiled and thanked his visitor for his suggestion and promised to look into it. He had then instructed Horst to place a more promising candidate in the Governor’s path once that human’s four year term on the Control Board expired. It had been yet another assignment Horst had handled with skill and a deft touch. The appointment had gone well, and the relationship between the casinos and the Gaming Control Board had never been better. ‘Yes,’ thought de Casto, ‘Horst continues to prove his worth.’
Seacrest, on the other hand, was not performing. While de Castro understood that the state of the economy in the United States was not her fault, the declining revenues were problematic. The casinos and real estate were Sandy’s job. Jobless rates and Indian casino competition sounded like so many excuses. The latest tactless suggestion had been that he consider diversifying. Recently, de Castro had made a mild inquiry to Horst, sounding out his interest in taking a ‘more active role’ in the business side. Horst had been vocal in his praise for Sandy, making clear he didn’t consider himself in her league when it came to making money. De Castro had seen it for what it was. Horst was simply waiting for Seacrest to bottom out. Then, if one of her plans should start to gain traction, he’d turn on her and claim credit. It was an interesting ploy. De Castro was looking forward to seeing how he handled it. Of course, if Horst did take over, Seacrest would have to be made finally dead. It would provide a strong message to others about the price of failure.
“Your majesty?” Horst stepped closer. He moved slowly so as not to startle his King. “I have interesting news. News, that you may find most vital in view of the arrival of Mr. Merlotte.”
De Castro nodded, indicating to Horst that he continue. “According to what we’ve picked up from the Shreveport Pack Master, Sookie Stackhouse is in a hospital. Pamela Ravenscroft is aware of this fact and has secured her. It would appear that Merlotte was responsible for some part of the damage. He may have also killed a were that was part of the Shreveport pack.”
“Well, things aren’t sounding good for Mr. Merlotte, are they? He takes money from me and then damages one of my assets? I paid him to spy on her and keep her sidelined. I did not pay him to disable her.“ De Castro looked up at Horst. “There is something else?”
Horst smiled. “You are perceptive as always, my King. Yes. The Pack Master, Herveaux, told your sheriff that there was another vampire in the house; an unidentified vampire. Since we have not ordered anyone to get close, and Ravenscroft didn’t know, I think we should consider other possibilities.”
“Ah. Someone who might wish her ill? Someone who might wish to make her suffer?” De Castro smiled tightly. “My dear Horst, could it be possible that we know anyone who meets that description?”
Freyda stood up and stretched, her head thrown back, her shoulders pulled back to accentuate her perfect posture. She slowly rotated her head on her long, slender neck, listening to the pop and movement of her bones and sinews. She was a beautiful woman; she knew it down to her toes. She was reminded regularly by every person she met. She saw the appreciation, the envy and the lust in their eyes. She could make powerful men lean forward, straining to catch each word she spoke. She noticed how the women who met her copied her style, her mannerisms, her hair color.
Yes. She was an amazing vampire. Everyone said so. Everyone except one person; the vampire she had married. Eric Northman.
Six years ago she had to ruthlessly prune the guest lists for her dinners. She was pursued by vampires, weres and humans. Everyone wanted to spend time with her. Her front office received daily calls begging for an interview with the most fascinating woman in Oklahoma. She’d had her pick. Vanity Fair had asked for an opportunity to do a feature story. They offered to send the famous Fran Leibowitz to handle the photography. David Letterman wanted to get her on his show. Oprah had expressed an interest. 60 Minutes had asked about putting together a 15 minute spot on her rise to the national spotlight. There were invitations to after parties and awards ceremonies. She had paparazzi following her, writing flattering articles and naming her one of the best dressed women in the world.
When she had announced her marriage to Eric Northman there had been a feeding frenzy of excitement. She was offered money and privilege for the exclusive rights to their story. She remembered how excited she had been. Over one thousand years old; he was almost unique in North America – a true warrior from a warrior’s age. It was every dream she’d ever had coming true.
Within months of his arrival and their marriage, the circle of those who pursued her shrunk. Now it was sometimes hard to fill all the seats when she hosted events.
It was not her fault. He had been so difficult. It was only natural that she would be out of sorts. There had been a couple of events where she may have been ungracious. But he was infuriating. He refused to converse with anyone. He acted like she was an embarrassment. It wasn’t that he corrected her. But he would get this look on his face like she was a bad taste in his mouth. Half the time when she confronted him, he ignored her; the other half he would ask her to let him go, acting like he was being held against his will. She made a point of never asking him anything personal in front of people anymore. You never knew what he would say or do.
Freyda looked across the hall. The guests invited for this evening’s concert were starting to rise and head toward the door. And there, in the corner, staring out the window was her magnificent husband. Just like every other event he attended with her. He might as well be a doorstop.
How had it come to this? How could this be in any way her fault?
She had come to the attention of the King of Oklahoma when she was twenty and fresh out of college. It had taken a fair amount of maneuvering and ass kissing to ingratiate herself. She had made sure that she was well practiced in all the sexual arts. She had become a witty and sophisticated conversationalist. She had studied all the King’s favorite topics. She could hold her own on subjects as varied as environmental farming to Dadaism. She had delighted him, teased him, challenged him. She had asked him not to turn her himself so that she need not worry about ever having to leave him. And he had agreed, asking his second to become her maker. Of course, she had already planned and paid for the assassination. That left a fair amount of her training as a new vampire to the King. It had been a calculated move, but it had served to make him even more under her spell. Within one year she was able to kill him and took the throne for her own. She never looked back.
She remembered the first time she saw Eric Northman. It was in Rhodes at the Amun Summit. Of course, she’d heard of him. A vampire that old, it was hard to not hear tales. He stood up on the stage, officiating at a marriage. His hair, his face. He was gorgeous. She knew that she had to have him. She had never seen anyone else to compare and, everyone knew, she deserved the best.
When Appius Livius Ocella had arrived in Aluma Lake, passing through on his way to Louisiana from Las Vegas, she had felt sure it was fate. She had been impressed with his strength and cunning. She had invited him to share her bed, and he had entertained her. She reflected that the experience had been somewhat lacking. Appius had also wanted the boy to watch. “Broadening his horizons,” Appius had said. It was clear that the bum boy was seriously disturbed. Within hours of their arrival he had already killed one of her servants. It had been inconvenient, and there was some amount of arranging that was required to make sure that the incident didn’t come to anyone’s attention.
Freyda remembered how grateful she felt that she lived in this sparsely populated town. The residents were generally older and busy with their own lives. While this part of the world was technically the ‘Wild West,” the taint of country living was not really a factor. What had attracted her was the high standard of living. For Oklahoma, people here had money. Homes were large and well spaced. Her own compound fit right in.
During the weeks of Appius’s stay Freyda had opened the conversation, suggesting the match between herself and Appius’ child. He had been cagey at first, but as time passed, he seemed to warm to the idea. In fact, the more she got to know Appius, the more interested he seemed to become. At one point after a rather brutal love-making session, she had asked him why he became so keen. He told her that he was sensing a growing unhealthy amount of emotion from his child. There was some emotional turmoil. Of course, that kind of behavior would not be tolerated. Appius had created a warrior and that included standards. It was Appius’ responsibility to make sure that Eric met his potential.
Freyda offered Appius full residence in her kingdom. He would have unfettered access to her court. Of course, as Eric’s maker, she would expect that he would direct Eric’s actions; a power behind the consort. And if that meant sharing the bed with both men, Freyda was open to that as well.
The child, Appius’ companion Alexei, gave her pause. With the public life she would be assuming, Alexei would need to be closely monitored. Appius assured her that Alexei could be controlled. He told her that once Eric and Alexei were together, Alexei would improve.
Freyda was sure that Eric would be thrilled with the arrangement. After all, why wouldn’t he want to be out of that backwater swamp? What could be more attractive than a beautiful, rich, powerful consort? Of course he would be anxious to assume a position that would place him one step from the throne. Since his maker was still alive he couldn’t himself hope to be a King. But all in all, this would be a big step up from his current circumstances.
The deal was struck and Appius continued to Louisiana to give the Viking the happy news. But before he’d left, Appius had passed along one other secret. It was a secret he had gathered at Felipe’s court. He thought it might come in handy in future.
Felipe had inherited a spy from Sophie-Ann LeClerq. It was someone in plain sight who had been under the former Queen’s influence for years. He had been told that there had been some kind of trouble in Texas and it had caused the spy to move to Louisiana. Sophie-Ann had bought his marker and him. This asset had cleared the way for Bill Compton, the Queen’s procurer, to make contact with the area telepath. He was still in the area and not above doing some double-dealing. Appius planned on using him when he reached the state to get the lay of the land. His name was Sam Merlotte and he was located in Bon Temps, not an hour from Shreveport. He had a local business and connections with Eric Northman.
It hadn’t taken long for Freyda to realize that something was not right. When she received news that Appius had been killed in Shreveport she reached out to Eric’s King, Felipe de Castro. Of course, Felipe had been very supportive of her claim. She had the signed contract. All had been agreed. But the Viking was not returning her calls.
Felipe had made a call on her behalf. After that, the Viking had engaged in conversation. But it was uncomfortable. He refused to host a visit. He refused to visit her.
Felipe told her about Sookie Stackhouse. Supposedly they were bonded and married by vampire law. Felipe assured her that the whole thing was a sham. It was well known that the telepath and Northman maintained separate living arrangements. When Freyda found out that the telepath maintained a residence in Bon Temps she remembered the information Appius had shared. She contacted Sam Merlotte. She offered him money and privileges if he would provide her with information. The picture he painted gave Freyda some assurance that the connection between Eric and the telepath was little more than a fuck and feed. Sam told her that Eric was sleeping with her as a way of securing her talents. It was known that the woman had a preference for vampires. Eric Northman was one of a number who could claim having shared the woman’s bed. She was living with two male fairies who shared her bed as well. There had been a weretiger and who knew what else traipsing through her bedroom.
There was nothing that she heard that gave Freyda the impression that there was any impediment to their joining. The Viking was clearly holding out for better terms.
Then Freyda had traveled to Louisiana. Felipe had taken her. The King had insisted on Eric and his progeny being in attendance on both of them. Within hours of their arrival, Freyda knew. She knew that Eric Northman was not using Sookie Stackhouse. He was in love with her. In spite of everything he had been taught by his maker; everything he knew about being a strong vampire, he was not conflicted about his emotions in any way. What was worse, his progeny were also fond of the telepath.
Freyda had immediately gone to Bon Temps. She had run through the rain to see for herself what it was that had captured the Viking. Thinking back on that evening, Freyda realized it was the first time she had ever felt insecure around another woman. And that memory made her angry. Freyda remembered the exact moment she decided that Sookie Stackhouse needed to die. If the telepath had not acted so quickly to rescind her invitation, it would have already been done.
Eric had known. She didn’t think that the Stackhouse woman told him. But the vampire Bubba, who had warned Sookie that night of her arrival. He may have told the Viking.
The nature and tenor of the negotiation changed after that. Freyda shared her concerns and her findings with Felipe. The King then went on the offensive with Northman, using the Stackhouse woman to hammer better terms. Freyda had felt herself the winner. Northman had agreed to an extra hundred years of marriage in exchange for assurances that his lover would be allowed to die naturally. Freyda had been sure that Eric would come to his senses once he was removed from her presence.
To make sure, Freyda had offered Sam a bonus if he seduced and secured the woman. Between Bill and Sam they had done a credible job creating doubt. Freyda had been able to see for herself the conflict and self-loathing that the Stackhouse woman’s betrayal had caused Eric. She was sure it was just a matter of time.
But it hadn’t happened. Sam had slept with the telepath and made clear to everyone that she was in his bed and happy about it. Eric had not abandoned her.
Sam asked her to marry him. She agreed. There was a big ceremony. Freyda had made a point of bringing the information to Eric. But instead of becoming angry and moving on, Eric had become even more withdrawn.
He acted like somehow Freyda was to blame for Sookie’s betrayal. But Freyda knew she’d done nothing more than push temptation in the way. The telepath had done the rest. If the Stackhouse woman was so stupid that she was willing to believe someone as transparent as Sam Merlotte that was her failure; it had nothing to do with the Queen.
Years had passed and with each small piece of information or snippet of gossip, Eric had become more of a stranger to her. When they did speak, it was usually out of anger or necessity. Freyda had tried everything; seduction, temptation, threats. She’d even tried painting herself in fairy blood. The result had been terrifying and she’d been damaged. And so they practiced détente. She ran the kingdom. He served as her bodyguard on public and social events.
Events like the concert this evening.
When their guests were scheduled to arrive he had been waiting for her in the hallway that led to her suite of rooms. He maintained his own set of rooms at the other end of the complex. He was dressed appropriately. When she approached him, holding out her hands, he drew himself up and formally bowed.
“Come husband,” she had said, touching his shoulder. “Surely you can find a kiss on the cheek for your wife?” And she had smiled as he straightened himself.
He had looked down at her. She remembered when thinking about how he stood taller than her had thrilled her. Now it just made him more unapproachable. “Do you ask this of me?”
“Well,” she had almost felt herself squirming under his gaze. “ I would appreciate it. It would be a nice gesture.” The look on his face had been bored. Then he had lifted his eyes so that he was looking over her shoulder. She turned, thinking he had seen something. Then she realized he was just waiting for her to start walking down the hall so he could fall into place behind her and to the left. Freyda felt her temper rise. “Why do you persist? Am I not beautiful? Are you not well treated?”
Eric continued to stare past her. He made no motion that would suggest he had heard her at all.
Freyda’s fingers curled into fists. Her jaw clenched. “You are just lucky Appius Ocella is not still among us. He would punish you for treating me this way!”
Eric’s eyes were suddenly on hers. She could feel his rage. “You don’t deserve to call him by his name! He was a hard man, but he was never dishonest about what he was. He taught me everything I know; he made me…”
“Yes, made you bound to me! If you really honor him you would honor the spirit as well as the letter of the contract. You would bond with me and treat me with more than the barest courtesy. You go out of your way to embarrass me in front of our guests. You treat me like I’m nothing.”
“You forget yourself, Freyda. You bought a consort. Just like you would buy a chair or a table. And you are due no more from me that you receive from them.” He was suddenly very close to her, his fangs descended. “I give you all the courtesy you are due. And when my bill of sale expires, I will stop. Never doubt it.”
Freyda bit her lip, her anger giving way to hurt. “Isn’t there anything about me you like? Anything?“
He stepped back from her, straightened himself and moved his gaze back down the hallway. “No.”
“Why?” Freyda hated that her voice had a high, whining sound. She almost sounded like she was begging.
Eric glanced at her again, and she saw something that turned her stomach. He thought she was beneath him. He pitied her. Freyda drew herself up, jutted her chin and walked down the hall toward their guests. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.
Later, when she had returned to her room, she opened her laptop. She brought up one of the files that had been emailed to her by Merlotte over the years. When she had received the first one, she had sent him a small bonus. It had worked like Pavlov. He sent a film. She sent money.
In each of the films, Merlotte was sexually punishing Sookie. Freyda found they always made her smile.