Disclaimer: I own Gemma Leland and part of the plot associated with her. The rest of the plot and characters belong to Alan Ball, the creator of the HBO series True Blood, and Charlaine Harris, the author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Chapter 14

I remained hidden behind the rock as I processed the memory. Frustrated, I began focusing on the voices, hoping a face, or even a place, would be revealed if I just replayed those words enough times in my head. Nothing surfaced.

A soft moan was emitted from inside the small building. My ears perked up. Was it a moan of pain…or pleasure? Taking a risk, I stood slowly from my hiding place, creeping stealthily over to a thick shrub near the small building. As I approached, I realized the building was an old toolshed, painted a light grayish color. I looked for a window, something that would allow me to see inside, but there was nothing. The only way in or out of the shed was the door.

After a few seconds, a peal of boisterous laughter rang out, closely followed by the sound of the shed door opening. The two men stepped out, a disconcerting spring in each of their steps. I quickly crouched down, hoping that no sudden breeze would decide to blow my scent toward the Weres.

One of the men, an average-sized man with dark hair and a stubbly beard, pulled a small silver key out of his pocket and used it to lock the door behind them. Turning back to his companion, a slightly taller man with blonde hair and an unshaven face, he laughed again.

I had to get in that shed.

The two men walked away from the shed, heading toward the front of the house. Remaining perfectly motionless, I watched as they retreated into the darkness. Vampires were filing out of the mansion, returning to their posts on the property. Making sure no one was looking in my direction, I quickly circled around the back of the shed, out of the line of sight of the guards.

The structure looked shabby, easy to break into. However, the problem would be breaking in without alerting anyone. I reached out my hand, touching the wooden wall. I jumped back, slapping my other hand over my mouth to keep myself from crying out in pain. Looking down at my hand, I saw speckles of red all over the white palm for a second before they faded. My eyes moved up to the grayish wood. Putting my face as close as possible to the wood without touching it, I studied the surface to figure out what was on the wall that had burned me so severely.

I was shocked to realize that the paint on the shed contained silver shavings. Someone did not want any vampires to get in.

Maybe they didn't want any vampires getting out, either.

The burning hunger returned to me after my rapid healing. Though I wanted to get in the shed, I knew that first, I needed some blood. I took a tentative peek around the corner of the shed, toward the huge open property. I could see the two Weres disappearing around the front of the mansion. Looking left and right, I made sure no one had seen me before disappearing back into the woods.

I circled around the clearing , making my way toward the front of the home. There was no way I was going to let the werewolves get away without finding some way to get more information from them.

A loud rumbling caught my attention. Peering from behind a tree, I saw the two Weres sitting on a couple of Harley's. Both were wearing full leather gear and helmets, making it hard for me to figure out who was who. With another loud roar, the bikes began to move. As they began to pull away, I followed from behind the tree line. One behind the other, they drove slowly out the front gate, pulling out onto a paved country road.

For several minutes, the two men rode with no idea a vampire was following close behind them.

The trees began to thin, eventually giving way to houses and office buildings as we entered Jackson. Save for the motorcycles, the streets were completely empty and the houses were dark and silent. I knew it had to be well after midnight by that point. Looking up the street, I saw that the men were disappearing out of sight. Thinking quickly, I looked up at the roofs of the houses around me. Throwing caution to the wind, I took a running start and jumped. I landed gracefully on the roof of a small one-story house. Proudly, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. Rapidly, I took off running again, jumping from roof to roof as I strained to catch up with the supernatural bikers.

At a red light, the two men stopped, nodded to each other, then parted ways. Shit, I grumbled to myself, trying to decide who to follow. Making a split-second decision, I turned to my left, jumping from roof to roof in pursuit.

The streetlights became fewer and farther between as we entered a trailer park on the edge of Jackson. I jumped from the roof of the last building, landing silently on the grass before melting into the shadows. The man slowed as the pavement turned into gravel, eventually pulling up to a blue trailer with a wooden deck built onto the side. Tool boxes and bins filled nearly every inch of the deck, leaving just enough room for the porch swing pressed against the side of the trailer. There was something distinctly manly about the home.

The Were thrust the kickstand into place as he swung his leg over. Unbuckling his helmet, he set it lovingly on the seat, ruffling up his blonde hair. As he turned to walk toward the front door, I saw my chance. Grabbing him from behind, I threw my hand over his mouth to stifle his yell as I pulled him around the side of his trailer.

The man was struggling against me with all his might, even going so far as to try to bite my hand. I knew very little about werewolves, particularly when they were on V, so I was surprised by how difficult it was to turn him onto his back to gain eye contact. It suddenly struck me that I had no idea if werewolves could be glamoured.

Guess there is only one way to find out.

Once I had finally managed to get him onto his back, I locked eyes with the Were. I focused hard on getting into his brain, clawing at any walls he tried to put up against me. It took a great effort, but I finally saw the man's face go slack.

"Are you Cooter?" I asked softly.

"No, I'm James," the Were answered gruffly. I could feel his mind fighting against the glamour, but I used all my mental strength to hold it in place.

"So Cooter was the other werewolf that was with you?"

"Yeah, that was him."

"Where did he go?"

"He went to his place to bone his girlfriend. She just got branded as part of the pack. He's real excited about it."

I wanted to ask him what he meant, but I did not want to waste precious seconds discussing things that did not concern me. It was draining me enough as it was to keep the Were in my control.

"James, what were you and Cooter doing in the shed at Edgington's?"

"We were drinking us some V," he answered.

"From a bottle?" I knew it was a stupid question, but I was hopeful.

"No, it was straight from the source."

"Wait," I said, quirking an eyebrow, "so you have a live vampire in that shed?"

"Yeah, he's our main source of V when Edgington ain't givin' it up," he said, his brown eyes almost completely dilated. His supernatural strength, combined with the vampire blood, truly was a challenge. I knew I only had limited time to get any information I wanted.

"How can I get into the shed?" I inquired.

"You has to have a key. Only Coot's got one, which really pisses me off. The vamper belongs to all o' us, we should be able to get to him whenever we want."

"What do you mean, he 'belongs' to you?" I asked, trying not to sound as upset as I felt.

"Edgington gave 'im to us," he explained. "He's ours to drain whenever we want."

I felt like my head was going to explode. These werewolves were keeping a vampire in a shed, using him as a never-ending source of their drug. The part that really infuriated me, though, was that Russell Edgington, the vampire King of Mississippi, had given a fellow creature of the night to these dogs. He knew the poor vampire was being tortured and drained on his very property.

My concentration wavered and all of the sudden, I lost my hold on the werewolf's mind. With a few blinks, the man looked up at me, his eyes suddenly filling with anger.

"You fucking fanger bitch!" he exclaimed, lunging at me, his eyes glowing yellow. I knew he was about to change. My hands shot out, blocking his attack. My sharp fingernail caught the skin of his face, leaving a long, bleeding wound in its wake.

My veins began to burn with a sudden intensity as I saw the blood ooze down his cheek. I needed blood desperately. Even though the thought disgusted me, I knew it had to be done.

My fangs extended as I grabbed the man around the neck. Before he could begin the change from human to wolf, I plunged my fangs into his neck and began to drink.

The magical blood was sickening. I could taste the similarity to human blood, but the flavor was tainted. It was like biting into a piece of cake, only to find it was drenched in pickle juice. I wanted to pull away, purge myself of the polluted blood. However, I continued to drain the man, feeling the burning hunger dull and eventually disappear.

I pulled away, wiping the blood from my chin. As I pulled myself to my feet, the Were fell over, crumpling on the ground like a rag doll. My stomach dropped when I looked down at his lifeless form.

I had accidentally killed him.

Guiltily, I looked around again, checking to make sure there were no witnesses to my transgression. Just as before, the community was enveloped in sleep, leaving no prying eyes. I spied a shovel propped up against the trailer next door beside a quaint little garden. Grabbing it, I returned to the body, heaved it over my shoulder, and disappeared into the darkness.

I buried the body deep in the woods, a few yards away from a shallow creek. The task took longer than I would have expected in my weak state. The werewolf blood had quelled my hunger, but it did not give me the same energy boost human blood did. On top of that, it left a rather disgusting taste in my mouth.

I had a feeling I would smell like wolf for quite a while.

Once I packed in the last bit of soil, I rinsed the shovel in the creek before returning it to the place I found it. In the event somebody found the body, I did not want the shovel leading the cops to me. Or to the owners of the shovel. It mortified me that someone else being blamed for my crime came second to my own wellbeing in my conscience, but it's hard to fight one's nature.

Vampires are self-centered. I was beginning to learn that more and more as time passed.

I returned to the Edgington home, sneaking unnoticed past the guards to arrive back at the shed. Moonlight reflected off the tiny silver shavings on the walls, making me wonder how I had not noticed it before. The paint covered the whole shed, including the door, which was outfitted with a silver handle and a matching lock. The security confused me. The Weres had gone through a lot of trouble to make sure that no vampires could get into this structure, but I could not see the point. Russell had apparently "given" the vampire to his minions as a sort of payment for their services, so he wouldn't try to break in.

Maybe the guards didn't know. That seemed unlikely, seeing as the shed was not hidden and clearly not soundproofed. Whoever they were trying to keep out, it would be extremely hard for them to get in. The only anti-vampire security missing was a motion-activated wooden stake.

I examined the area around the shed as well as I could without entering the clearing, looking for anything that could help me get inside. The key would have been nice, but I was willing to settle for a crowbar, a saw, or even a sledgehammer.

No such luck. A quick scan of the surrounding woods yielded no results, either. Feeling hopeless, I looked up at the tall, stately home of the King of Mississippi. The last time I had seen Eric, he was being led into that building by the vampire guards. My insides began to flutter as I thought about Eric. I wondered if he was dead, or if he was being tortured as I stood helplessly in the woods only a few hundred yards away. If he was safe, I wondered if he would be able to save me if something happened, if he'd even try.

I wondered if he was thinking about me, too.

Shaking my head, I looked up at the sky. In the distance, it was clear that the sky was beginning to lighten. Suddenly, something struck me that I had not thought about before that moment: where was I going to sleep?

The only place that seemed remotely possible was the ground. As much as I hated the thought of returning to the earth, there was nothing else I could do. Wandering into the woods, I found an area with thick foliage, very unassuming. There was nearly no grass due to the thick cover of the trees, so it seemed the best place to bury myself without anyone noticing.

Sinking my fingers into the soil, I dug deep into the ground, making a hole just big enough for me to lay in comfortably. Sitting in the hole, I began scooping the dirt back in on top of me.

I hope you're sleeping more comfortably than I am, I thought grudgingly as I finished burying myself.