The door slides open and Lorena strides in along with who I presume to be Russell Edgington. She just stands there smiling as he asks his first question.
"Where exactly, might I find the lovely Sookie Stackhouse?"
It is entirely possible that in all of my years, human and vampire, I have never been more surprised.
It's on the tip of my tongue, to ask what the hell they want with Sookie, but I owe her more than that. I will not say anything; not one word. I will not acknowledge that I know anything abut Sookie. I will not play their game.
Because if there is one thing I know, it is that Sookie is worth more than the life of a vampire.
I am exhausted.
We had the talk. At one time my mind would have immediately associated "the talk" with the birds and the bees, but now it refers to the long needed discussion between me and my 1,000 year old vampire boyfriend and the fact that we can read each others minds cause I've had so much of his blood.
I should really be writing all of this down; I bet it would be a best-seller. A whole series of best-sellers even…
The Talk. I don't know if I have ever had such a long, drawn-out conversation in all my life. Finally, finally Eric and I seem to be on the same page. Even now I can tell there's some other reason than "security" that he doesn't want me in his head. Fine, well, not fine, but I just have to choose to trust him. I get all his points about not becoming a target, and not risking more involvement in vampire affairs than 100% necessary. If anyone found out this mind-meld thing was happening to us, it would be game over. Even he couldn't stop the mass of vamps that would be out for my immortal-mind-reading-butt (my words, not his).
And yeah, I don't really want to know where the bodies are buried when it comes to his business (both literal and not). If ever someone was torturing me to get info on him, I wouldn't even want the knowledge in my brain.
But that's not his only reason for wanting to me to close our minds from each other. Sigh.
He did allow for what I have deemed "an emergency connection." Basically, I'm keeping out psychic link open the tiniest bit, like a little strand of spider web linking our brains. If I ever get into a spot I can't get out of, I'll be able to use it to send out kind of an SOS signal. It'll take a little practicing, but Eric has had some psychic training before that is making things easier (he didn't call it psychic training, but when he concentrates and clears his mind, he can sort of erode the shields I built around him). I've seen it a few times before in people that spend a long time praying or meditating. They somehow have more control over outside-access to their minds, like having a door where most people have big, unguarded swirly mess.
If he can let his shields down after my emergency message, we will be able to communicate. He wanted to test it out and perfect it right away, but I cannot stand another second of not looking for Bill. This is not some Sookie/Eric relationship retreat; it's a mission to save my friend... I hope that's still what it is.
The longer we wait the more I feel like it will be identifying what's left of a body.
Lorena is getting visibly angry now... which is rather out of character for her. Hours of senseless torture and she is finally talking, finally asking questions again. Edgington's been gone since it became apparent that I wouldn't be talking any time soon.
"Have fun," he told her. Sometimes I truly am convinced that we are the monsters humans paint us to be... but then, so are they.
"I really am getting tired of this William. I know we have had our differences, but protecting some human you've only known for a millisecond and refusing me as your maker is just insulting."
All she wants to know about is Sookie. It doesn't make sense. Is this some trick to throw me off so they can get to the database? Do they think Sookie has it? No... no, there is something else going on here. Somehow Sookie has become a desired acquisition. I look away from Lorena as she pulls a blow-torch out of a box she dragged in earlier.
I meet up with Alcide at dusk and check out a few supe hang-outs around town, but they turn up nothing. Eric has exhausted almost every possible hide-out other than the Edgington mansion. By eight we are back in Club Dead, and I'm feeling hopeful. None of the people I see look familiar, but I'm hoping Russell Edgington or someone in his group will show up. Bill held out under torture in Timeline A, so if we can move fast enough I know we can save him.
Eric is still wary of entering the King's turf, but it seems like that is where Bill has to be. I just need an in to the mansion. Once there I can check the shed he was held in before, and if he isn't there, I'll try and read as many humans as possible.
How is it with all the foresight and time to plan in the world that it always comes down to: 'jump in blind and read as many people as possible to figure it out'?
I sigh and look down at my campaign cocktail. I realize that I've been ignoring Alcide, but he doesn't seem to mind, he's too busy staring at Debbie and her fiancé. How much do I want to go up to that bitch and punch her square in the jaw for everything she did? A lot. But I have to believe that she didn't know she was trapping me in the trunk with a starving vampire. I have to believe in a world where the person Alcide loved is not a total and complete monster.
Love makes monsters of us all, right? Is that a saying? Hmm, maybe drinking this campaign cocktail on an empty stomach was a bad idea…
I turn to Alcide to tell him that I want to circle the room when I see Debbie coming toward us. The fiancé is still at their table with their loud friends, and he looks put out. Okay, here we go: Operation Don't Throw Debbie into a Fit of Murderous Rage.
"Hello Alcide" she purrs. "Who's your new friend? Did you borrow her for the evening?" Bitch.
I laugh in the most natural, care-free way I can and lean slightly away from Alcide. "I guess you could say that; my boyfriend and I are only in town for a few days and since he is busy with work tonight Alcide offered to take me out."
I read confusion on her. How much clearer could I be? Boyfriend, in town for a short while, a foot of space between me and him. I try not to roll my eyes at the crazy tension between them, feeling none of it and really wanting to shake off the buzz my drink has given me. Alright Debbie, here's my final hint.
"I'll let you two catch up; I'm going to go snag some water at the bar." With a sincere smile at them both I leave for the bar and scoop up a handful of nuts while waiting for the bartender to notice me so I can ask for a bottle of water. I stay at the bar and drink my water, observing Alcide and Debbie. They actually look pretty good together. Is it possible that my intrusion into Alcide's life in Timeline A interrupted what was meant to be? Sure, Debbie is crazy, but they really do love each other. Maybe Debbie will dump her owl fiancé and she and Alcide can for some kind of life when (if?) he takes over the pack.
I'm getting distracted again; Bill has to be my priority. I scan everyone near me at the bar, but it's just the usual: sex, money problems, pregnancy. Huh, excitement? I hone in on a tall, thin Hispanic-looking human in his mid-twenties at the end of the bar. He's excited because… because Russell Edgington is supposedly coming tonight. The human was invited back to his mansion from Club Dead last week and he hopes he'll get an invite again.
This is it; I'll finally get some answers tonight.
Like magic, within minutes Edgington and his entire entourage (including Talbot) have entered the club. I turn back to the bar and gather my wits. I can't stop thinking QUICK, ACT CASUAL! Which apparently means chugging the last of my water until I'm choking.
"My dear, are you alright?"
Oh lord, since when is Edgington such a concerned citizen? I look up to find him right in front of my offering his handkerchief. Knowing vampires, taking a handkerchief probably means I'm bound to some kind of indentured servitude, so I politely shake my head. I know I'm blushing, but I hope it comes off as a result of choking.
"I'm fine, thanks. I just swallowed wrong." He tucks the silk back in his coat pocket and I survey the people that came to the bar with him. One human, a young boy (he looks all of sixteen, but it turns out that he's actually in his twenties). He doesn't have anything on Bill, but I am able to read that Lorena is staying with them.
"My name is Russell Edgington, and you are?"
I'm just about to reply when I get the briefest flash off of him.
Where exactly, might I find the lovely Sookie Stackhouse?
Bill, he has Bill. And he's… looking for me?
Somehow I stammer "Portia. Portia Bellefleur." I have no doubt that I must look upset enough that as I make an excuse to leave because I don't feel well that he let's me go.
"Pleasure to meet you Portia. I hope to see you again." I get major jealousy vibes from 20-something Hispanic guy as I make my way back to Alcide.
"Alcide, I don't feel well all of a sudden. Could you please take my back to the hotel?" At the word hotel Debbie's rage-o-meter starts to go off the charts. I give her a weak smile, "My boyfriend is a vampire, so he should be able to stay up all night with me if I start throwing up." Get it? I'm not a threat.
She relaxes and excuses herself and we make our way to the exit.
Once back in his truck it occurs to me to ask. "Alcide, did you tell my name to anyone? Did you tell my name to Debbie?"
"Uh, yeah, I think I told her your name… was I not supposed to?"
Okay, it could still be okay. "Please get me back to the hotel as fast as possible." I call Eric and lay everything out: Edgington and Lorena definitely have Bill. Edgington wants me, and knows my name somehow. Edgington is currently in the same bar with a loud woman who has a strong dislike for me and knows who I am.
I hear him thinking through the phone, not literally. After a few beats he says exactly what I'm thinking.
"There is a chance Edgington will not interact with Debbie or even learn of your presence here tonight. However, if he is torturing Bill to get to you, he is on the right track and we need to move as quickly as possible."
I look at the clock on the dashboard. It's 12:06 am.
"We have to get him tonight."
A/N: A new chapter on April Fools! I guess holidays inspire me :) Many of you have written me encouraging me to continue. Thank you so much; your feedback is a large part of why I keep doing this. As I mentioned in my last post, it has gotten difficult for me to get back in to the SVM universe, but I promise promise promise to keep writing this story until it is finished.