Chapter Six: Short-Lived Peace
The sun was dipping over the horizon as we pulled into the driveway. Amelia was panicking because we'd gotten back later than planned, and she only had about ten minutes before Tray was supposed to pick her up. In the time it took me to check the answering machine messages (two telemarketers and Sam just checking up on me) she was already dressed and ready to go, sitting comfortably on the sofa as if she'd been waiting there all day. Why couldn't I ever pull off something like that?
I kept her company until Tray arrived, looking as ruggedly handsome as ever, and then headed back to my room to change. I had the feeling I would be visited by at least one vampire tonight, and I had no intention of looking like I'd dressed up for them. I slipped on a pair of old denim shorts and a tank top, then curled up in the living room with a steamy romance novel. If I couldn't have the perfect relationship in my life, at least I could escape into a fantasy one for a while.
I wasn't two pages into the book when the phone rang. I thought about letting it go to the machine, but I knew the second I did it would just be something important, and I'd have to get up anyway. I set my book down on the coffee table and walked into the kitchen to answer.
"Hello?" I said.
"Alcide?" This was a surprise. Maybe it wasn't so important after all.
Alcide and I had…well, we'd never really had a relationship, but there was a time when I thought we could have. That was until I realized he was hopelessly attached to his bitch of an ex, Debbie Pelt. Even after I killed her. And the friendship we had was tenuous at best, partly because of the whole killing his girlfriend thing, and partly because he dragged me into a bunch of pack politics that I wanted nothing to do with. The whole experience had been pretty awful.
"Get out of the house."
"What? Why?" I asked, shock and a bit of panic creeping into my voice.
"You have to get out now!" he nearly shouted. "RUN!"
He didn't have to tell me twice. The tone of his voice was enough to make me drop the phone and dash out the backdoor.
Once outside I realized I had no idea where I was running to, but I ran anyway, crossing into the cemetery toward Bill's house. I could hear cars pull up and men yelling behind me, but I wasn't stupid enough to look back over my shoulder. I'd seen enough horror movies to know that sort of thing led directly to falling, spraining your ankle, and getting yourself eaten by zombies. I hadn't met any zombies yet, but after everything I'd seen, I wouldn't have been surprised if one popped out from behind a tree.
The cemetery was dark, only a faint orange glow in the sky by the time I found myself in the heavily wooded section where the oldest graves were. I stumbled over a low headstone, banging up my shin in the process, but I managed to stay on my feet. After what felt like forever, I made it across Bill's large overgrown lawn and leaped up the steps to his door.
Out of habit, I reached into my pocket for his spare key. He'd insisted I keep one, even after we broke up, saying it was so I could watch his place for him during his many trips out of town. I knew better than to believe that was the only reason. Bill had made no secret of wanting me back, and making sure I had a key was just one way of making sure I knew I had an option. Of course, his key wasn't something I normally kept with me anymore, and I certainly hadn't wasted any time stopping for it after Alcide's call, so I silently prayed that this wasn't one of those times that Bill was halfway around the world typing on a computer.
"Bill!" I yelled, pounding on the door. "Bill! It's Sookie! Let me in!"
The house was completely dark, and the only sounds I heard were my own thundering heartbeat and the faint noise of my uninvited guests filtering through the cemetery. I held my breath for a second and listened intently. It sounded like they were getting closer.
"Bill!" I screamed louder, pounding on the door again. I didn't know who or what I was running from, and I doubted Bill's front door was going to be able to protect me from them, but I did know that if I was in danger, I wanted a vampire on my side.
I raised my fist to beat on the door again just as it flew open, and I fell forward, colliding with Bill's hard chest. His arms were around me in an instant, the look of concern on his face turning to something far more dangerous as soon as he saw the fear in my eyes. He pulled me inside, kicking the door shut behind us and with a rush of air, we were upstairs.
"They're at my house! Alcide called and I had to run and I didn't know where to go and I didn't have the key and they're coming, Bill!" My words flew out in a panicked rush, and he pushed me into the nearest room, slammed the door, and then disappeared, I could only assume to face whatever threat was coming our way.
I ran to the window to see what was going on, but there was nothing to see. The part of the yard that fell under the dim glow of the porch light was empty, and beyond that there was only darkness. I couldn't just stand there waiting, not knowing who or what was at my house, wondering if Bill was okay. I would probably regret it, but I had to do something. Just as I reached for the doorknob, the bedroom door flew open, and Bill was standing in front of me, blood spotting his shirt and smeared across his lips.
"Weres," he said, reaching out to wipe the tears from my cheeks.
I hadn't even realized I'd been crying. Apparently all my previous close-calls were catching up with me…and turning me into a teary mess. I shook my head. "Are they dead?" I asked.
"Two are. The others got away," he said. "I would have gone after them, but I didn't want…you were unprotected. I was not able to question them."
I slumped down on the edge of the bed. We were in the bedroom I had used when I'd been seeing him, and again when my house had been set afire. It used to be so warm and inviting, but now it just looked empty. Nothing had really changed, though. The furniture and drapes were the same. A bureau drawer was slightly open, probably from when I'd last stayed here. It felt like I was looking at what was left of our relationship… everything in its place on the surface, but nothing quite the same. I looked up at Bill and he was watching me with a puzzled expression.
He reached for my hand and pulled me to him. Whether it was shock from having once again attracted some unknown danger into my life or just the need to feel like someone would protect me, I didn't resist, leaning heavily against his cool chest.
"We must call Eric and tell him what has happened," he said, his voice tight and flat.
"Walk me home?" I asked.
"You cannot go home," he said.
"You do not get to tell me what to do," I protested. "I am going home. They probably made a mess and…" What had they done to my house? I didn't even know who they were; much less their purpose, but something told me they didn't just leave a polite note for me at the door.
"Sookie," Bill said, his eyes filled with sympathy, "There will have to be repairs. It is not fit for you to stay there."
Not fit? "What did they do?" I asked, my voice coming out weak and strangled. Too much had already happened there. Gran was murdered in the kitchen, half of it had been destroyed in a fire, and the front door had been ripped off. Even a vampire territorial dispute had nearly erupted in my front yard. I was sure I was not going to like his answer.
"You have wards on the house?" he asked.
"They cause a lot of damage trying to get past the wards. It is not safe for you to stay there tonight. And they may return"
I slumped back against him. "I want to see it," I said.
It didn't look so bad. As we emerged from our path through the cemetery, I could make out the shape of my house ahead. And it was still the same shape, meaning the roof hadn't been ripped off, the porches were still there, and nothing had gone up in flames. But as we got closer, the damage was more apparent. The front door was gone, pieces of it scattered in the yard. Every window I could see was busted out, the curtains flapping in the warm breeze. There were large holes torn in the front and on the east side, the old wood siding peeled back like wrapping paper.
Bill was silent as we walked up the front steps and I prepared myself to see what lay inside. I flipped on the light switch and looked around. It was fine. Nothing out of place, nothing overturned. They had certainly done some damage trying to get through the wards, and the outside of my home was a testament to their persistence, but Amelia's wards had held strong.
I jumped at the sharp trill of the phone ringing. Before I could move to answer it, Bill was standing in my kitchen, speaking quietly to the caller.
"She is safe…yes…no…of course."
I didn't have to ask who it was. Bill's clipped answers and narrowed eyes made it clear that it was Eric. But before I could take the phone from Bill and demand that Eric tell me what kind of danger had sought me out this time, he was already off the phone.
"Sookie," he said, looking at me apologetically. "You cannot stay here tonight."
He paused, like he was waiting for me to argue with him. Of course, that was my first instinct, but I knew it was pointless. Whether Bill or Eric or both of them together dragged me out of the house kicking and screaming, one way or another I was not going to be sleeping in my own bed tonight.
"Let me just get some things," I sighed.
Ten minutes later I was sitting in Bill's kitchen drinking coffee in preparation for what was sure to be a long night. I was surprised to find that he had anything suitable for human consumption, but I shouldn't have been. I knew Selah had been in town, and I supposed he had stocked up for her. That realization made the coffee all the more bitter, no matter how much cream and sugar I added.
Yes, I plan on finishing the story. Unfortunately, life keeps kicking me when I'm down, so I don't know when that will be.