I saw Bubba fall and the surrounding noise went silent. The world rushed in on me and I couldn’t think I just acted. Throwing a fireball at the vampire who had just killed him, I sprinted across the room. I had never truly wished to be turned, but right now I wished that I could rip apart the vampire who just killed one of my favorite people with my bare hands. Bubba was one of the sweetest, kindest vampires you would ever meet, and he had killed him. A fireball was too quick of a death, but as he exploded into dust I couldn’t find it in myself to care. I ran through his remains and fell to my knees at the spot where only moments before Bubba had been fighting.
The battled continued to rage around me, but all I could feel were the tears pouring down my cheeks and a gaping chasm of grief. I don’t know how long I knelt there, but I finally came back to myself realizing that I was endangering the others. More than that, I wanted to kill. I soared to my feet, grabbing my katana and wielding it against any enemy who dared come close. Blood and chunks of exploding vampire assailed me, but I was oblivious to anything, caught completely in the throes of bloodlust. I had become death incarnate. I couldn’t see anyone else, the smoke, fire, and onslaught of vampires and weres blocking anything besides the enemy that stood in front of me. I had no presence of mind or sense of safety for myself, which was why I was taken unprepared when I felt something hard crack against my skull and everything went dark.
I gently scooped up Sookie, grabbing her katana as well, and sped away before anyone else could realize she was gone. The plan involved being on a plane and out of Oklahoma as quickly as possible. I dropped her katana somewhere between the battle and the black SUV that was waiting for me at the end of the street, but I didn’t go back for it. I would give her a new one, one that wasn’t tainted with memories of Eric. After ruefully restraining her arms and legs, I placed her inert body in the back. I hadn’t wanted to hurt her, but she had recovered from Bubba’s death quicker than I expected her to. I blinked back the guilt I felt at playing a part in his death, but it was necessary. He was the only one whose death, besides Eric’s, would affect her enough to take her out of the fight. Still, it had been dangerous. She and Pam had been keeping the extent of her abilities from me, but once the battle started there was no hiding them anymore. I screeched away from the curb, glancing in the rearview mirror at the roaring flames that had engulfed Freyda’s mansion.
Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, I used the other to quickly dial.
“Is it done?” Felipe asked.
“It is. The plane is ready?”
“Of course. And Sookie?” His accent thickened. With this betrayal he would not only gain control of Eric, but also have use of a telepath. Only I had been able to secure her safety. I didn’t like it, but he would have moved on acquiring her sooner or later.
“There were some unexpected surprises that made her harder to subdue, but she has been constrained. We will land shortly before sunrise. Have the house ready for her arrival,” I said, trying to keep my voice neutral.
“All has been prepared just as you asked. Thank you for your cooperation and information that made this possible. I will see you tomorrow evening.” I could hear the victory in his voice and it disgusted me.
I clicked off the call and threw the phone onto the dashboard. I had begun my plan long ago and had approached Felipe when Freyda had initiated the contract for Eric, using the opportunity to gain my own ally. He simply allowed Freyda to take Eric and waited for the right time to execute our plan. I didn’t like the idea of keeping Sookie in the desert, but she needed to be isolated. Eric would never treat her with the reverence she truly deserved. She would be used by him and discarded after she served her purpose. Only I loved her in a way that honored her. She would be unhappy when she discovered what I had done, but I believed that she still loved me as well and needed to be separated from Eric’s charisma before she would see it. She was mine.
I raced through the night and finally reached the plane. After settling her softly in a row of seats, I gave her a shot to keep her under. I couldn’t risk her waking before we got to Vegas. I had arranged everything so carefully so she would not be inconvenienced any more than necessary. I settled in for the flight.
When I awoke I was comfortable and clean. I blinked open my eyes finding myself in my bedroom. Sitting up quickly I glanced around confused. My brain was fuzzy, I had a serious headache, and my body was sore, but other than that I felt well enough. What had happened and how did I get home? I ripped back the covers and found myself in one of my nightgowns, white cotton and edged in lace. I turned and my feet hit the floor next to my bed. I felt for active brainwaves in the house with me, but I came away with nothing, not even a void that would indicate a vamp.
Realizing I had to pee, I made my way to the bathroom and brushed my teeth since my mouth felt dry and funky. I used a new toothbrush since mine must still be packed. Whoever brought me home had washed my hair and it was still slightly damp. I pulled it up into a ponytail and headed out to the living room. I hoped to find some kind of note informing me as to what the heck was going on, but there was nothing. My sense of unease grew. I looked around expecting to see my luggage sitting there, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found. I made my way to the kitchen to make some coffee, hoping it would clear my thinking, and pulled open the curtains from the window.
The can of coffee slipped from my fingers and crashed to the floor, spilling grounds everywhere, my stomach dropping in terror. I was looking out on the desert. I blinked and rubbed my eyes, wishing that I was simply hallucinating, but the scene remained the same. Hyperventilating, I backed away from the sink. I ran to the front door, attempting to run outside and it was locked. There was no way to open it from the inside. It was the same at the back door. I sped from window to window, hoping to be able to escape, but there was no way for them to be opened. It also revealed that there was nothing anywhere nearby. No houses, no roads, just mountains in the distance and the emptiness of the red and brown sand of the desert. I grabbed a chair trying to shatter the glass, but it only bounced off ineffectually.
Holy fuck I swore silently. I forgave myself the language considering it was about the only phrase that fit the situation. I sat down heavily in one of the kitchen chairs, baffled and sick to my stomach. Bill had obviously been behind my abduction, but how had he arranged this? Everything here was the same as my actual house.
Think, I mentally shouted at myself. I took a deep breath and realized I needed to change. The sunlight was low enough to indicate that it wouldn’t be long before Bill rose for the evening and came to me. I certainly didn’t want him to find me in a nightgown. The thought stilled my body when I realized he must have been the one who bathed me. I rushed to the bathroom, making it to the toilet only an instant before I tried to empty the contents of my stomach, but there was nothing there. I knelt, shuddering on the tile floor trying to calm myself. I had no tenderness in any areas that would indicate that he had taken advantage of me, which provided a bit of relief. When I finally regained control I stood and headed to the bedroom. In the drawers were brand new clothes, many of which matched the ones I actually owned. Bill must have been planning this for far longer than we had expected.
Everything in the house was identical to my own. The queasiness returned when I realized that he must have stalked me, studying every inch of my house. How many times had he been there when I hadn’t? I had been so blind to his treachery, only catching on at the last possible moment. I pulled on a pair of jeans and a long sleeve white t-shirt, not wanting to show any skin. It occurred to me then that there was a difference: central air. I should have noticed it earlier, but I pushed that thought aside. I needed to figure out how to move forward.
The necklace. The one Pam had given me. I scanned the room frantically looking for it. It was hanging over the corner of the mirror and I let out a harsh sigh of relief. Bill must have burned his fingers taking it off. Good I thought viciously. At least they would be able to find me. Eric’s stricken face passed across my mind. He would come for me and we would make Bill pay, but I could imagine how terrifying he would be until he found me again. I was glad again that Pam and Karin had been smart enough to figure out that Bill would betray us.
I didn’t bother looking for a weapon knowing that I had my fireballs, but I really wanted revenge on Bill and that wouldn’t be assuaged by a quick death. I did ensure that I could still form a fireball in case Bill tried something darker. He had assaulted me once and I would never allow it again. I knew that once he arrived I would have to act as if there was no one coming for me. I wouldn’t tip him off to the rescue party that would inevitably arrive. Heading to the kitchen I opened one of the cabinets looking for something to eat. Bill had stocked the house with food, but I wouldn’t eat anything that he might have drugged. I found a can of chicken noodle soup and heated it on the stove.
I ate quickly and then settled myself in the living room waiting for Bill to arrive. I would show him no fear. It didn’t take long. I heard the key turning in the lock and I steeled my resolve. He entered the house with trepidation and glanced behind the door maybe expecting me to be waiting with a lamp in hand. He was shocked to see me sitting calmly on the couch. I’m sure he thought I would go for the door, but I knew that there was no way I could outrun him. I would play it smart.
“Sookie,” Bill started tentatively, settling himself on the chair across from me. “How are you feeling?”
“As if you care,” I said channeling a bit of Pam’s bravado and snark.
Frown lines formed on Bill’s face. “On the contrary, I have done all of this for you.”
“For me?” I sputtered at him. “You abducted me away from my home, the people I care about, and the man that I love,” I said putting emphasis on the last word, “all for me? Do you honestly believe that?”
“I went to great lengths and spent an extravagant sum of money to recreate your family home so that you would feel at ease here. It was not easy and you should be grateful. You must know, Sookie, that Eric is not good for you. He wants only to use you. I am the one who loves you and you are mine. You have been mine from the first moment you gave yourself to me. You will see this in time,” Bill said earnestly, obviously believing the words that came out of his lying, betraying mouth.
I felt the disgust flicker over my face. “No. I won’t. You can keep me trapped here, but I will never love you again. You betrayed me. And considering I’m in the middle of the desert I’m assuming you are working with Felipe, which means that you have your own ulterior motives. He obviously agreed that I was your reward, but what is he getting in return? Or is Felipe helping you out of the goodness of his blackened, shriveled heart?” I crossed my arms and legs and leaned back into the couch feigning a composure I didn’t feel. Bill was dangerously deranged.
“Well,” he began slowly, “you will have work for him from time to time, but we will dictate those terms.” I couldn’t believe he honestly thought I was going to go along with this. He proceeded after noticing the look of shock on my face. “But he gets Eric when he eventually finds you. That’s how I know you will go along with this. He will kill Eric if you don’t agree. Revenge is a dish best served cold, Sookie, and Felipe has harbored a desire for vengeance against Eric since you two killed Victor. Or did you honestly think there would be no repercussions? In addition he will gain control of Oklahoma and he didn’t even have to lift a finger to do so.” His eyes bored into mine with an intensity designed to unnerve me.
I didn’t allow him to see that it was working. “Hmmmmm…So Felipe is going to try and keep Eric under control. I wonder how that worked out for Freyda? Or did you already forget the battle that occurred last night?”
“Which is the other reason you are here. You will be used to keep Eric in line. As long as I have you, Eric will do anything to keep you safe.” Bill smiled coldly.
My laugh came out harsh and bitter. “So which is it Bill? Does Eric not actually love me and intends only to use me or is he so in love with me that he will agree to slavery under Felipe after he just got out of the clutches of Freyda? I mean I wasn’t there at the end of the battle, but things looked quite dire for her before you knocked me unconscious.”
“Oh he thinks he loves you and that will be enough for now. I’m sure that Eric will eventually be able to take down Felipe, and consequently betray you, but that isn’t my concern. You are.” His eyes widened daring me to disagree. When I didn’t he continued, “Now, Felipe will be here shortly and you need to dress appropriately. You will find clothing in your closet. Wear something suitable for your new status.”
“Oh! I’m sorry, have you purchased a Princess Leia slave outfit for me?”
He rose rapidly and crossed the short distance between us, both of his hands slamming against the couch on the sides of my shoulders. “You are not a slave Sookie. You are mine and I intend to honor you. I love you, but you must learn not to disobey me or I can make your life here unbearable until you succumb to the love I know you feel for me.” His voice had quieted and he moved his lips closer to mine as if going in for a kiss. “Or you could simply allow me to dress you. I had forgotten how glorious your body was until I bathed you last evening.”
I swallowed and regained my breath and nodded unable to find any words. I considered simply killing him where he stood, but if Felipe was on his way, he wouldn’t be alone. I’d be a fool to try and take him on by myself. I would have to wait for my chance or until Eric arrived. I sent up a silent prayer that he showed sooner rather than later. Bill backed away quickly, settling back into the chair he had previously been sitting in. I stood shakily and headed to my imitation bedroom.
Once there I found a white and red sundress identical to the one I had worn that first evening I had gone to Fangtasia. Bill would think that I wore it for him, but I chose it because it was the night that I met Eric, the night that my life had changed irrevocably. I had still been with Bill at the time, but I remembered feeling a spark when Eric looked at me. I sighed, missing him. This was not how the night after our victory was supposed to have gone. Yes, we had anticipated Bill’s betrayal, but not that he would have gone to such lengths to acquire me.
I slipped my feet into a pair of ballet flats, wanting to ensure that I wouldn’t be in heels if given the opportunity for freedom, and slipped Pam’s locket from the side of the mirror. I unclasped the hook and fastened it around my neck. It would serve two purposes. If for some reason Bill and Felipe decided to take me somewhere Eric could still track me, and it was silver. It wouldn’t be much of a deterrent if a vampire decided to drain me, but it would buy me a few precious seconds to defend myself. I looked in the mirror fixing a firm and fearless look on my face. I took three deep breaths, calming my heart and turned to walk back out into the living room.
There was a knock on the door and Bill, grinning broadly, greeted Felipe who stood there. He stepped inside, once again wearing a stupid cape. He bowed to me and said, “Mees Stackhouse,” his thick accent rolling my name off his tongue, “or should I call you Meesus Compton?” I stifled a scream when an obviously glamoured priest walked in behind him.