Hi folks. I thought I'd try writing the supe characters, and hopefully something more plot driven. I hope you like it. Characters and setting are owned by the much adored Charlaine Harris. I just can't get enough of them. This story is being beta'd by the talented and kind FiniteAnarchy.

Chapter 1 - If it Ain't Chickens, It's Vampires

I perched at my bench, slowly working my way through yet another pile of arrowheads. Ask an anthropologist, or anyone in a related field. They'll give you my same wry smirk. These are something we see a lot of. Clean, polish, catalog. These are Caddoan spearheads and arrowheads, eight hundred fifty years old or so. They're from right here in Northern Louisiana, my neck of the woods. They came in with some other objects, bits of pottery, a couple of stone axe blades. It's the pottery that's always the most interesting to me, especially the ornamental pieces. Archaic art is very fascinating, and very telling. There's little decorative about this cache, though. This stuff had been residing in an attic for untold many years, having been handed down since the frontier days. Any hope of searching the site is long gone, always a disappointment. Still, I've got to go through everything quite carefully. Every once in a while you find something that shouldn't be there, as I did now.

I pulled another arrowhead from the box without looking, gasping as I felt it slice into my finger, right through the thin cloth glove I was wearing. Darn it. I glanced down at what I was holding. Lava glass. Unchipped. Veined with, unless I'm much mistaken, silver. Elf-shot.


I dropped the piece in disgust and pushed myself up from my stool, retreating to the sink. I stripped my glove off to minister to my bleeding finger. It wasn't bad. A Band-Aid and some Neosporin and it would be gone in a couple of days. I've always healed well. I flipped the exhaust fan on and dropped the bloodied glove on a large watch glass, doused it with alcohol, and set fire to it. As it burned I pealed the other glove off and tossed it in the garbage. Blood is not an aroma you want lingering in the air.

This was all less of an issue before the vamps came out. Not the blood, that's always been an issue, but the artifacts. Now that the spark of the supernatural had been ignited in the public consciousness, suddenly there's a lot more speculation about what other tales of yore could be based in fact. Thanks, vampires. The two-natured; the shape-shifters and other wereanimals (of which the werewolves, or Weres with a capital W, are most numerous), are about to do the same. That is only going to make it harder. The fae, and that covers a whole variety of the rest of us, are staying secret. Same thing with the witches, who are not to be confused with Wiccans. It comes down to the magic. As a general rule, humans and magic are a bad combination. Vamps and weres are magical beings in their own rights, but the extent to which they can exert that influence on others is pretty limited; for the most part, pretty physical and for that matter, pretty gory. Vampires do have that bit of glamour, and sometimes other gifts, but the scope of their use is very small, and of course, they're still keeping some secrets.

I say, "us," in reference to the fae, but I myself am basically human. So are witches, but they, like me, straddle the two worlds. They guard their secrets well and have a very rigid infrastructure, or so I'm told. On the whole, they're much more students of magic than practitioners of it, but they have their uses to the other supes, if not the other humans. The fae don't mix as much. They have their own worlds. Someday, probably soon, more of those worlds will be shut off entirely. The human world is not what it was. Things were very different even two hundred years ago. Now, there are far fewer places left with natural magic; far fewer places left untouched and unsullied. And of course, there's the iron. Fae and iron are like vamps or weres and silver. The human desire to start ripping it out of the earth and putting it to their employ definitely marked the beginning of the decline. Three millenia's gradual fading was hastened exponentially by the Industrial Revolution.

I'm sorry. If you haven't picked up on it, I'm an archaeologist. Well, sort of. Technically. I can get a little hung up on the broad history.

I don't go out in the field very much. I do not have the skills that would make me useful there, such as making people forget they ever found the things they found. I've tried, but I can't make it work. I've got some persuasion, but I can't do the full on glamour which is sometimes necessary. I'm good for picking out those who need to be glamoured though. My real "gift" isn't even natural, it was given. Telepathy. Just for reference, worst gift ever. Demons, the next time you get invited to a Christening, bear in mind that you never go wrong with the classics. Health, beauty, charm. Cripes, even a savings bond.

Most of the time I just work here, analyzing artifacts in the lab I think of as belonging to me. This is an auction house. As far as the bulk of the human population is concerned, that's all we are. As far as the supes are concerned, we're a stop-gap. That's my job; making sure those things that humans shouldn't have stay out of human hands. Well that, and then of course making sure that anything particularly valuable is made available to the right buyers. When I'm not down here in the dungeon (it has to be underground for the sake of light and climate control), then I'm consulting on other antiquities upstairs, or doing research. It's interesting work, and it's quiet.

As a telepath, quiet is a blessed thing to me. I never had it growing up. It used to be that I couldn't even permit myself to have it much. Any more than a couple of days without exposure to many people and I'd be back to rebuilding my shields from scratch in misery and a blinding headache. I've gotten a lot better. My sponsor (think godparent), and the gift-giver himself, Desmond Cataliades, started giving me proper tutelage about my condition just after high school. I guess I could blame him for not showing up sooner, but I don't. What's a decade here or there to a being that lives for hundreds of years? High school would have been a lot better if he'd managed to make himself known earlier, but at least I got college. That had only been the start of my education. The supe world is a daunting place, and unfortunately, I'm a part of it. My involvement is as limited and controlled as I and Mr. Cataliades and my great-grandfather Niall can make it.

I grabbed a new set of gloves (I have dozens) and returned to the bench. I showed a lot more care picking up the arrowhead the second time around. Lava glass, or fire glass. Obsidian. Not exactly native to Louisiana. Thankfully, it's dirty. I pulled open a drawer to my left and rifled through the scads of arrowheads inside until I found one of dark flint, nearly the same shape, that would replace it in the collection. This is dishonest, but there is no alternative. Obsidian has showed up in excavation sites from around here once before, and it caused a huge stir in the academic community. (Naturally, 'huge stir' when applied to the annals of academia is a relative term.) So the anthropologists now purport that the indigenous peoples of the Mississippi Delta had trade routes all the way down to the Pacific Coasts of Mexico and Guatemala. Unlikely. But what am I going to do, publish a paper saying, "No, see, those are elf-arrows, made in Faery?" I'm the one who'd be laughed at. Ah well. This is the burden of truth.

I set my find aside and grabbed a pair of forceps, quickly sorting through the rest of the small collection. There was a second obsidian piece, though broken, which I also put aside. A quick comparison indicated two separate makers. Unsurprising really. Elves like to hunt together, and I suppose back then there would have been plenty more game. Panthers and bears maybe. I can see why this particular hoard of weapons had been stockpiled, at least. These were some long dead man's greatest treasures. How had he come upon the arrowheads? The luckless hunter out in the woods could have come across the half-consumed carcass of some creature or other. Had he seen the elves? That would have scared the bejesus out of the poor guy...but I suppose back then, they knew a lot better that the monsters are real.

It was coming on evening. I do have a clock on the wall down here, in lieu of actual windows. I didn't need to look up at it to know that the work day was almost done. I could feel fewer brains upstairs. I'm sure if I'd cast out, the ones I found would have been thinking of packing up for the night. It was probably already dark out, or getting there quick. I don't care for winter very much. I'm a person of the sunshine. Since I wasn't missing any of it at that point, I got back to work. I carry on pretty much on my own down here. It was a while later before I sensed anyone in my proximity, and the brain that was approaching wasn't one to welcome.

"Who's there?" I demanded loudly.

The creature I'd sensed in the hall outside my lab was suddenly inside the doorway. Vampire. Sheriff. We had met on two occasions.

"Sheriff Eric Northman," he announced himself.

I dipped my head in greeting, the polite and expected courtesy. As I did, my eyes darted to the silver veined arrowhead. It wasn't quite in arm's reach at that point. It wouldn't kill him anyway, but it would probably sting. If he meant to harm me, I could get away while he was flailing, maybe.

He probably wasn't here to harm me.

He'd be really stupid to do that here, and by all accounts, he's not stupid. He's pretty enough to get away with being stupid though, but then they all are, aren't they?

"Good evening, Sheriff," I said stiffly. Yeah, it was definitely dark outside.

"Good evening, Miss Stackhouse," he replied, saying nothing more. His eyes shifted around the room, taking in the surroundings. He was now blocking the only exit.

"What brings you here tonight?" I asked when he persisted in silence. I went ahead and reached for my only hope of a weapon with what I judged was nonchalance. I was just keeping a tidy workspace, see?

"Your neck would be broken before you could fasten your fingers around that object to defend yourself, if that were my intention," he observed. Ignoring that.

"And again, that intention is...?"

"I require your assistance."

"Your daytime person can schedule an appointment with us upstairs. How did you even get in here? I am sure the guard didn't let you in."

"The guard is a human." He cocked his head to the side as he said it. You just used your glamour on him and walked on in. "It is not a matter of items. I need your assistance."

"I'm not sure what you mean," I hedged.

"You know very well what I mean." I felt it, the brush against my mind. Then again, stronger. I found myself literally shaking my head, as if that would rid me of the icy tickling.

"That doesn't work on me," I snapped. "And you know better than to try."

"That is something we will need to discuss at a later date, Miss Stackhouse," he said, with the faintest of frowns that in a vampire surely indicates serious unease. "I require the use of your telepathy."

"It's not for hire," I said.

"I was not offering to pay you." He stepped slowly closer. That is deliberate. Was he trying to seem threatening or non-threatening?

"Stop," I said, holding up my hand in a "halt" gesture. You can't step back from them, they read it as weakness. Somewhat to my surprise, he did as I commanded. It gave me a little boldness so I bid him, "Explain what you mean then."

He eyed me up, taking my measure. Suddenly I felt under-dressed, though I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that matched his own. I resisted the urge to wrap my arms around myself and betray this feeling, fixing him instead with a level look.

"My child, Pam, is missing. She does not answer my call. I believe she has been taken by humans, though I am at a loss to understand how this could have occurred. She is strong." I knew that by "call," he didn't mean on the phone, but this wasn't adding up.

"Can't you track your blood in her?"

He frowned again. I was really unnerving this guy, I suppose. I don't claim to have a huge knowledge of vampire goings-on, but I know more than just the basics about vamps as a species. It's a lot more than they typically reveal to the public, that's for sure. "Intense photophobia and allergic reactions to silver and allium sativum." Uh-huh. It still baffles me that anyone believes that. People see what they want to see, I guess. I might have been letting him see a bit more than I wanted him to see right here, actually. As far as he knows, I am Mr. Cataliades's god-daughter. I am in the protection afforded by the man, or demon, himself, and his own general neutrality in supernatural affairs. He's got his own enemies, yes, but that's complicated. And none of this sheriff's business. It's my own fault he knows about my telepathy. I was glad I burned the glove, or he'd probably know a good deal more about me. I was aware of the small cut on my finger, covered in antiseptic, plastic, and cloth. I caught myself before I probed at the little wound.

"I cannot," he answered, more softly. An admission. "I can feel that she yet lives, but she is...distant. Weakened. There is something obscuring my tie to her."

"And what use would I be? How do you know that she was taken?"

"Her lover has come forward with these concerns. I believe she knows more than she is saying."

"Why don't you just give her the same treatment you gave the guy upstairs?" My tone was scathing.

"She has answered my questions unsatisfactorily." That sent a shiver down my spine.

There is another pause, and then, I hear him. This was not something that had happened before, and it startled me. I hope he didn't see that, or if he did, I hope he interpreted it some other way. He was thinking that the woman he was holding would not withstand more rigorous interrogation. I saw a flash of her in his mind, wan and frail. Young. Was it this child of his that left her this way? As if to confirm my fear, he was thinking he would torture her for the information he wanted, if he could. He was debating if he should torture me to get me to comply. There was the press of urgency and grave concern in his thoughts that didn't exactly translate to his words. Desperation. Just as abruptly, his mind was blank again, as vampire minds always have been. It was the concern I felt that gave me pause. That I heard him at all is something I would need to consider later. I'd already made one huge mistake with this person. I was not about to let on what just happened, making a second.

"What makes you think I will have more luck?" I kept the hardness in my voice, and he met it with a cold stare of his own.

"Little," he answered coolly. "Yet little is better than none. You will look at her mind as you did with the policeman's, and you will see what has occurred that she is not telling me. You will see the details she has thought are unimportant, and you will tell me."

My second meeting of the vampire Sheriff was only a few months ago. He had requested an appraisal for a centuries old knife, a human artifact, and I'd been tasked with validating its authenticity. An undercover policeman was present in his club, which is where he conducts his business. A raid that would have discovered the vampire feeding off a (more than willing) human in the bathroom and the underage humans I'd noted drinking at the bar, was imminent. I would have let all this pass as I made my own departure, were it not for the hypocritical contempt in the policeman's thoughts. The officers were targeting the vampires for the mere fact of them being vampires, and this man was right on board with that. There was the teeniest twinge about the waste of manpower here, when other crimes were taking place, but he chocked this up to the greater good. These things had shown up clearly in the man's mind and it made me furious enough to say something.

Afterwards, of course, I had some explaining to do. It was stupid and impulsive, and a huge error, as was being proven right this minute. Sheriff Northman had been paid then for my protection, and in the greater part, for his silence. As far as we knew, he had kept his word. Mr. Cataliades had made the arrangements for that. I hadn't seen the sheriff since.

I reached for my phone, barely getting it out of my pocket before it was in his hand. He was less than two feet away from me. I did step back then, involuntarily.

"I need that," I said flatly.

"Who do you intend to call?" he demanded.

"My sponsor." Plain and simple. "If you think I'm going anywhere with you without someone important knowing exactly where I'll be and with whom, you're nuts." I held my hand out, as if I fully expected him to deposit my phone in it. Or break my wrist. One of the two.

The former. I flipped the phone open and held down the number six to speed dial, which is my little joke. Six six six, number of the devil, well, the demon.

"Good evening, Miss Stackhouse," he answered. As ever, I could hear the fondness in his voice.

"Good evening, Mr. Cataliades," I smiled, in spite of the situation. If he were human maybe I would call him Uncle Desmond, but it just doesn't fit. Though there's great affection here, we have always been formal. "I am here with Sheriff Northman," I specified quickly. I retreated a few steps for the illusion of privacy. I was certain that the vampire could still hear both sides of the conversation, and Mr. Cataliades needed to be aware of that.

"You are calling from Fangtasia?" he asked, with what I knew was true curiosity. My last visit had been plenty enough for me, thank you. I've got zero interest in flirting with disaster alongside tourists and the charmingly nicknamed fang-bangers that frequent the vampire sheriff's place of business.

"No, he's come to me here at Splendide," I clarified. Splendide Auctions, International. South Eastern Regional Branch. "He is requesting my assistance as a telepath. He claims his vampire child has gone missing and he believes her human lover may know more than she is telling. He feels the situation is dire." I watched the vampire as I conveyed all this, searching for any indication that my recounting was inaccurate. The sheriff's expression stayed bland and constant. A long minute went by as Mr. Cataliades chewed over what I'd told him, presumably taking care in choosing his next words.

"We did discuss this possibility," he said finally. Eventuality, more like. We had talked about it, and there'd been no need to go on at length. It had been only a matter of time before the vampire turned up with a request, which naturally I would be obliged to agree to. The alternative was him telling his Queen about me, which would in turn make everything ever so much stickier. Since their Great Revelation, the vampires are forced to be a lot more careful about how they carry on, but they still have their ways of taking what they want, and there's no reason in the world why they wouldn't want a telepath. Lucky, lucky me.

"We did," I agree.

"Are you inclined to grant his request?" the demon asked, much more mildly than I felt was warranted.

"I am inclined to help if I can, as a show of good faith," I said carefully. "I believe he is sincere about his concern for his child," communicating to both of them why I was saying yes.

"Then I will await word from you before dawn about your luck with this endeavor," my sponsor said seriously, and the threat was clear to the sheriff as well. We hung up, and I knew he'd be contacting Niall. I tucked my phone back in my pocket and turned back to my bench, gathering up my work. There was no need to keep my eye on the vampire any more, since I'd just agreed to leave here with him. He watched silently as I put my things away. Too soon I was left without anything to busy my hands. I stripped off my gloves and retrieved my coat. Perhaps Mr. Cold-Blooded didn't find the need for one in this weather, but I certainly did.

Ready to depart, I gestured him to walk ahead so I could lock up. There's a freight elevator here, and I quickly debated whether or not this was preferable to the stairs. I figured the stairs were fine. I still let him walk in front of me. I said goodnight to the ineffectual watchman at the door as he unlocked it to let us out, apparently wholly indifferent to the presence of the unexpected vampire beside me. I was going to have to talk to Brenda tomorrow. We really need a Were on the door. They're far more difficult to glamour and they also know well enough to anticipate and therefore avoid it.

"A business like this should really have a vampire or a Were guarding it," the vampire observed as we turned the corner, now out of the current guard's earshot.

"I was just thinking the same," I answered coolly. Really, who was the mind reader here?

"I own a bodyguard service. We are considering branching out into security."

"You can contact the office during business hours to solicit. You'll want to speak with Ms. Hesterman. I'm merely an employee."

"Oh yes. Of course, Miss Stackhouse," he replies, dryly.

"Sookie," I corrected. "Do you have a car?" I glanced around as we reached the small parking lot. There sat a cherry red corvette. I didn't have to wait for him to indicate it. Who else would this belong to? He had the courtesy to get my door for me, at least. Once inside, I moved to buckle myself in. He was in the driver's seat with the door closed before I could get the clasp fastened. I don't think I'll ever be accustomed to vampire speed.

"Where are we headed?" I asked him as he backed out of the parking space.

"To Pam's house."

"You don't share a nest?" He turned completely away from the road to fix me with another hard look. I have no idea what that was about. Many vampires live in nests. Possibly even most.

"My child shares her nest with the vampires Clancy and Longshadow," he informed. Longshadow, huh? That could be a Native American name. Getting to talk with him some time would be wonderful. Of course it could just be another made up name. For example, I highly doubt this fellow riding next to me was actually called "Eric Northman" while he was alive.

"And will they be there?" I asked, not bothering to hide my trepidation.

"No. They are working at the club."

"Good," I breathed out.

"You do not like vampires," he observed.

"I like the few I've had occasion to know. I'm not stupid enough to put myself in any of y'all's path if I can help it, though."

Again he said nothing in response. Instead, he simply continued driving, perhaps too quickly, toward the city limits. My hand clasped involuntarily around the door handle as we took a particularly sharp turn at speed. I'd shut my eyes so I heard, rather than saw, his sharp intake of breath. Not that I'd been watching him.

"You smell of chemicals," he said. This guy was one heck of a conversationalist. I was glad I smelled of chemicals, rather than anything else though. I ignored the remark rather than call attention to it.

"So what were you able to get out of her? The girlfriend, I mean. When did she come to you?"

"Last night. Pam did not rise in her home. Two nights ago she was elsewhere, and did not return."

"That's it? And her nestmates?"

"What about them?"

"Have you questioned them?"

"They are not aware of where she may have gone."

"Is that usual?" I wasn't sure it was. Vampires living in nests tend to socialize together.

"It is not unusual, for her," he clarified, having taken my meaning.

"And, no idea where she was going, or with whom?"

"It was her night off. I believe she was simply running errands."

Huh. It's odd to think of vampires as running their own errands. I suppose Pam, unlike the Sheriff, does not have her own daytime person to do those things. Or maybe she does, and it was something more personal? Maybe she was getting her hair styled or something. Vampires do that. I've seen it on reality television. They don't change. If their hair or nails get cut, they grow back. Same as if they get injured by most things, they heal. I look over at the vampire to my left again, who has quite long, blond hair. I wondered if he ever got it cut, for a special occasion or something. Longer is probably better than shorter, hair-wise, if you're choosing something to go into eternity with. What happens to the hair, once it is cut? Does it stay intact? If it does, some of these vampires should start donating wigs to cancer patients. That would be a great public relations move for them. Locks of Love would probably be totally on board.

We arrived at Pam's house, a normal ranch style home on a friendly-neighbor sort of street in an upper middle class development. It's not quite what you might expect, but really, most supes tend to live like normal humans. For vamps especially, blending into humanity is the habit of an un-lifetime.

"How old are you?" I ask, without really thinking.

"I was turned over a thousand years ago."


He didn't respond to that. I can't imagine my response is anything but typical. A thousand years of existence... and he's a small business owner and the sheriff of a minor fiefdom in a poor state. I bet he's got a million stories to tell. I realized I'd stopped walking when he did. Standing ahead of the light from her porch, his shadow stretched clear across to my own feet. He struck a terrifying figure, even in blue jeans. He is tall, probably six and a half feet, and broad, and though his face was darkened by the light coming from behind him, I could see he wore a grim expression.

"Another time," he said.


"You want to ask me questions. Do this for me, and you may. Another time."

I nodded at that, and came up behind him as he let himself in the house. It is elegantly decorated. I followed him through to the great room, the large space lit only with a dim table lamp. I was surprised to see the same woman I saw in the flash of his thoughts sitting motionless on a rather uncomfortable looking divan sofa. She was gaunt, with an ashen face. When was the last time she'd eaten?

"You left her glamoured?" I asked, appalled. She made absolutely no acknowledgment of our presence in the room, almost as if she were catatonic.

"She was distraught. It is no different from one of your doctors issuing a sedative."

"Except you're not a doctor."

"Listen to her now," he directed.

I frowned, but crossed to the woman and sat down beside her, taking her unresisting hand in mine and pressing my other palm across her forearm. "What is her name?" I looked up at him.


I let my hand stroke up and down the girl's arm gently and opened my mind to blank static. This was new. I'd never tried to read someone under this hypnosis before. I tried to push further in, through the haze. Perhaps this was not the most opportune moment to be experimenting, but I had no idea when I'd get another chance. The only clear picture I got was his eyes, just a flash, blue and cold, and then they too were gone in the fog. I shook my head, turning toward him.

"You need to release her, I cannot see through this... whatever it is that you do to their heads."

He spoke her name and for the first time she responded, lifting her eyes to meet his. Then, she dissolved into tears. I assumed this was the state in which he left her. Her small body jerked with her sobs, which were not even that loud. I pulled her into my arms then, shooting him a disapproving look that he met with indifference. At least it would not take much coaxing to make the girl think of Pam. I assumed that was who this Alice in Wonderland look-alike was. I described her to Eric just to be sure, and he nodded.

I began to whisper to Daphne as I stroked her arm soothingly, rhythmically. Words of comfort mixed with questions. When did she last see Pam? And the image of the Alice leaning down to stroke her cheek emerged, and I felt her longing. This girl was highly devoted to the sheriff's child, to an unhealthy degree. Where was she going?

"She left to get her nails painted. Daphne had offered to paint them, but Pam wanted to try a new place now open late, for vampire clientèle. She had to pick up some fliers from the printer. She told Daphne to order food for herself. Did you remember to eat, sweetie?" I asked her kindly, interrupting what I'd been conveying to the vampire. When she shook her head, I gave him another glare. He looked completely unabashed in response. Feeding his child's human is clearly not his responsibility. I asked her about the printer, and about the nail salon. I asked what else Pam had to do two nights ago. Pam had not intended on being gone long. She was going to return and they were going to have sex. I got a little uncomfortable when she started focusing on that, so I steered her back.

It was Daphne who had discovered the new nail place. Another girl she knew was also 'dating' a vampire. They'd been given fliers in the mall. I talked her through the scene again, and again. They'd been watched. She hadn't been fully aware of the man who approached her, but he'd been standing in her peripheral vision the entire time, and there was another man, taller, lighter, but out of focus. She'd barely seen him, hadn't noticed him, didn't remember.

"Daphne, do you still have that flier? We need it so that we can find Pam," I explained kindly. She'd stopped sobbing now, but she still clung to my arms. Slowly she disentangled herself and retreated upstairs.

I told Sheriff Northman about the man I'd seen; slight, white, dark-haired, muddy eyes, freckles. This man had given them the fliers, and told them to bring their vamps. She's thought nothing of it. Her friends all know she's dating a vampire. Daphne doesn't have any visible bite marks, though. I didn't let myself think too much about where they must be, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess. This guy too, had to have known who, what, she dated, but she hadn't recognized him. She'd barely looked in his face. She wasn't interested, neither in humans, nor men.

The sheriff confirmed that Daphne and the friend I described come to his club regularly. He had no recollection of the man.

"Do you have security tapes?" I asked.

"A liability."

I rolled my eyes. "Well, we can go ask your vamps if they've seen this guy," I started to say.

"No. We will go to this salon."

I nodded. I'd expected it. I was willing. I'm human. If they're after vamps, they won't be after me. If they're after me, or suspect me for any reason, I'll know. Daphne returned with the pink handbill. I scanned it before handing it to to the vampire and leading the girl in what I hoped was the direction of the kitchen. It was pristine and nearly bare of food. There was a case of synthetic blood in the refrigerator, and a few bottles of water. There were some frozen dinners in the freezer, the same brand I buy. They changed their packaging last year. These were old. I called and ordered her a pizza and a salad.

"When the food gets here, you need to eat," I admonished, as though she were a frightened child. Not really much of a stretch, actually. I'm sure she's legal aged. "Pam will be back soon and I'm certain she wants you strong and lively, right?" I was more than a little disgusted as I said it, but I tried to smile. If this is what it takes to ensure the girl remembers to eat, then she'll hear what she needs to.

The vampire handed Daphne some money, instructing her to use it to pay for her meal when it arrives. Then he had the nerve to look at me, as though he had done something redeeming. I spared him a nod, which seemed to satisfy him.

"Come, time is pressing," he said. He was already halfway to the door. I glanced back at the girl, once again slumped on the sofa, and shook my head. She reminded me of a dog when its master dies.

"Pam is very good to her human," he told me, as we headed back to the car.

"Oh yes, I can see she's very well cared for," I snapped.

"She is bereft."

"She's a pet."

"If she is that, she is one of those little dogs in a handbag. Adored and doted upon."

He didn't get my door this time. I swung it in behind me with a little extra slam. He said nothing more as he backed down the driveway and began driving toward Lux Nails and their new Moonlight Madness hours.