Chapter 1: A Message

“See you tomorrow, Sam,” Sookie said over her shoulder as she pushed the door open in front of her.

“Drive safe, Sook!” he called back from behind the bar.

Sookie walked out into the humid Louisiana night and dug into her purse for her car keys. Her feet were sore and her head was thudding a little. All the time away dealing with the missing vampire in Dallas had left her slightly unprepared for the onslaught of thoughts that would come at her while she was waiting tables. Her mind flashed on an image of Eric weeping on the roof of the hotel while he pleaded with his maker not to meet the sun. The scene had been touching, to say the least, and had been haunting her ever since.

“I’m just not going to think about it and that’s all there is to it,” Sookie said as she put the key into the driver’s side door to unlock her car.

“Sook!” A whisper shout got her attention from behind, and Sookie whipped around to see Lafayette standing there.

Her jaw went slack and for a moment, she wondered if she really had finally gone crazy. Folks had been saying it for years… maybe it was true.

“Aw hell… I don’t have time for ghosts tonight,” Sookie looked skyward.

Lafayette had disappeared suddenly months before. One minute he was taking out the trash and the next he was gone. There were no clues as to where he’d disappeared to, and it was presumed that vampires had finally caught up to him for dealing vampire blood. Since no one ever found a body and there were no leads as to where he was or what had happened to him, the investigation into his disappearance was still open. However, no one in the Renard Parish Sheriff’s Office was spending too much time doing much investigating.

“Hookah, I ain’t no ghost,” Lafayette stepped forward. “But there’s a blonde bitch been hauntin’ my ass for the last two weeks. If she wasn’t already dead, I’da killed her annoyin’ ass.”

Sookie shook her head and wondered if she had somehow fallen asleep.

“Lafayette, is it really you?” Sookie stepped closer and reached out to touch him.

“Bitch, you been drinkin’?” Lafayette asked when Sookie poked his chest. “I ain’t dead. I don’t know no mo’ ways to say it.”

A slow grin spread on Sookie’s face and then she leapt into Lafayette’s arms, hugging him tightly around his neck. “Where in the name of all that’s holy have you been? Everyone in town’s been searchin’ for you!”

“Bitch please, ain’t no one in this backwater town been lookin’ for me ‘cept you, Sam and Tara,” Lafayette hugged her back. “But it’s a long ass story and I ain’t got a lot of time to tell it.”

Lafayette set her down and immediately caught sight of the ring sitting on Sookie’s finger. Two weeks before Bill had asked her to marry him and she was still no closer to knowing what she was going to do. The proposal was sudden. They hadn’t discussed marriage, and it seemed like an awful big rush to her. Bill had been understandably disappointed when she hadn’t wept with joy and accepted his offer, but he had also been graceful enough to understand why she needed time to think things over.

“It’s not official yet,” Sookie shifted the ring on her finger.

“Vampire Bill asked you to marry him, didn’t he?” Lafayette smirked and shook his head. “Baby girl, we needs to talk. Privately.”

“Um, okay, but now isn’t really the best time. I’m supposed to be meetin’ Bill,” Sookie said, and as soon as she reached out to Lafayette’s mind she was shocked to find a filmy white curtain in there she couldn’t get behind.

“Don’t even think about it, Sook,” he said as if he knew what she was doing.

Sookie gasped and said, “You can feel me in your mind!”

“I couldn’t always. It’s a fancy new trick I done learned. I come here with a message, Sook, one you needs to hear and it would be best if we didn’t discuss it around the daylight challenged types,” Lafayette said with a hint of urgency in his voice. “Oh, and you can’t tell no one I was here.”

“Lafayette, what is going on?” Sookie asked, picking up on the paranoia in Lafayette’s mind.

“Just trust me when I tell you that this is some serious shit. If I could let you see what was goin’ on in here,” he tapped the side of his head, “I would, but it ain’t safe.”

Lafayette had never given her a reason not to trust him in the past, so she nodded and pulled her cell phone from her purse. It was slightly pathetic how few phone numbers the device held. Even scarier was the ration of humans to vampires in her list of contacts. Sookie held down the speed dial number for Bill’s phone, and then took a few steps back from Lafayette to make her call.

“Hello, Sweetheart,” Bill greeted in that southern drawl that made her swoon a little.

“Hi, I uh, I just wanted to let you know I was gonna be late. Sam needs some help here doin’ inventory and whatnot and I volunteered to stay since I need the money. I don’t know how late I’ll be, but I’ll call you when I’m on my way home, okay?” Sookie asked, hoping that Bill wouldn’t raise a fuss over it.

“That’s fine. I have some things I’m working on here at home anyway,” Bill said in calm, accepting tone.

“Alright. Well, then I’ll talk to you later,” Sookie said.

“I love you,” Bill said quickly, almost desperately.

“Me too,” Sookie said, but with less enthusiasm, and then hung up the phone.

“Ooh, you two give me the shivers,” Lafayette teased, and Sookie slapped at his arm.

“You hush! It’s just been a little off since I told him I needed to think things over,” Sookie put her phone back in her purse. “And I hope you have a car around here somewhere because I can’t just drive off.”

“You think he’ll come up here and check out your story?” Lafayette lifted an eyebrow.

“I don’t know,” Sookie shrugged. “He might, and if I’m supposed to keep this visit between us, then I need my car to stay here. Besides, I’m leavin’ it up to you to find a vampire-safe location.”

“Right this way,” Lafayette gestured toward the woods.

“So, are you gonna tell me where you been all this time?” Sookie asked as Lafayette led the way through the woods.

“Some psycho bitch with fangs took me the night I disappeared. I ended up in a vampire run torture shack for about two weeks before one of Ruby’s crazy ass prophecies came true, and I was rescued from the place I was being kept. Turns out I got a little more magic in me than I thought,” Lafayette winked.

“What kind of magic?” Sookie glanced up at him for a moment, careful not to take her eyes off the ground for too long so she didn’t fall flat on her face.

“The kind that lets me talk to dead people,” Lafayette revealed and Sookie stopped walking.

Gran’s face was the first that came into her mind. God, what she wouldn’t give to have just a few more minutes with Gran, to apologize for everything she had done to put Gran in danger. There was so much guilt that came along with Gran’s death. Rene or Drew, or whatever the hell his name was, he had gone to the house that night looking for Sookie. Gran was just the innocent bystander, there at the wrong place and the wrong time.

It should have been me, Sookie thought for the millionth time since she found Gran’s body on the kitchen floor of the old farmhouse.

“And you have a message for me?” Sookie asked, her breath catching nervously in her throat.

“Yeah,” Lafayette nodded. “It ain’t from Gran, though.”

Sookie deflated a little and said, “My parents, then?”

“No,” Lafayette kept his eyes straight ahead and then a rusty old Chevy Suburban appeared and he motioned toward the old car.

“Hmmm… you really have changed,” Sookie snickered as Lafayette opened the passenger’s side door for her.

“It ain’t mine,” Lafayette closed the door and went around to the other side of the car, and climbed up behind the wheel.

“You aren’t stealing cars now are you?” Sookie gave him an accusatory look.

“This busted up hoopty belongs to Jesus’s crazy ass uncle, thank you very much,” Lafayette turned the key in the ignition and the old truck grumbled and rattled to life.

“Who is Jesus?” Sookie asked, already confused and intrigued.

“My boyfriend, and more importantly, the brujo that saved my ass,” Lafayette put the Suburban in gear and pulled onto the road.

“What in the world is a brujo?” Sookie asked.

“A witch… mostly,” Lafayette’s eyes were constantly moving from mirror to mirror making sure no one was following them.

“You were rescued by witches?” Sookie’s eyes widened. “Are you a witch too?”

“Sort of,” Lafayette said but offered no further explanation. “Sook, it’s complicated shit and I ain’t got time to explain it right now. I just need you to trust me with what I’m about to tell you because we both know I ain’t got no reason to lie to your skinny ass.”

“Okay,” Sookie nodded slowly.

Her gut told her Lafayette was right, that he had no reason to lie. If he had been glamoured into coming for her she would know it. She wanted to know more about the ‘psycho bitch with fangs’ that had abducted Lafayette, but she sensed this wasn’t the time to ask. Lafayette clearly had a mission, and it seemed he was endangering himself by coming forward at all.

“You trust me?” Lafayette asked her straight out.

“Yes, I trust you. You’ve never given me a reason to think you would ever be anything but honest with me,” Sookie turned a little in her seat.

“Good. Two weeks ago I was meetin’ the with coven that Jesus and I been a part of since my ass got rescued. The leader, Marnie, decided she wanted to try some necromancin’ mess and that was how I found out that I can talk to dead people,” Lafayette explained.

“Necromancin’?” Sookie asked curiously.

“Yeah, bringin’ back dead folk,” he said with absolutely no enthusiasm. In fact, he seemed completely freaked out.

“Shit,” Sookie muttered.

“That’s close to the four letter word I used when I found out what that bitch was up to,” Lafayette made a sudden left turn that threw Sookie back against the door of the car. A minute later they were on the highway.

“Why did she want to bring back dead people?” Sookie asked as she searched for a seat belt to put on.

“Her crazy ass wanted to bring back her damn parrot,” Lafayette said with a snicker. “Bitch done lost her marbles. I don’t know what the fuck she was thinkin’ ’bout when she came up with that crazy ass idea, but that ain’t the important thing. The important thing is that the spell she used worked. Only while we was chantin’, I started seein’ all these dead folks I ain’t seen since I was a kid.”

Sookie’s eyes got wider.

“And yes, I saw yo’ Gran, but we ain’t had a conversation yet,” Lafayette said, obviously impatient to get to his reason for coming to see Sookie.

“So then who did you talk to?” Sookie asked as she fastened the seat belt around her waist. The car was too old to have a shoulder strap.

“You ain’t gonna believe this shit,” Lafayette shook his head.

“Laf, whoever it was-”

“It was Hadley,” he revealed and Sookie’s jaw dropped. “Sook, you can’t marry Bill.”

 

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