Sookie felt like a sitting duck, and didn’t feel comfortable making any sort of plans or deals without Eric there to advise whether or not it was a good idea to get involved to the extent that Nora wanted her to. Besides, there was no way she could keep it to herself that her agenda had changed. Still, Sookie was curious as to what, exactly, Nora was expecting her to do.
“And how do you expect me to help you, Nora?” Sookie asked.
“It’s all very simple, actually… just befriend him and report back anything you learn,” Nora said.
“So you want me to go crawling back to Bill? You think he’s going to fall for that?” Sookie snickered.
“I think he’s desperate to have an in with you. I also think that whatever it is you and Eric are doing is only a short-term solution to what could become a very long-term problem. You need to understand something, Sookie. If Bill is to become king of this state he will have access to power that goes beyond Eric’s reach. It is our way for a regent to seek a death warrant from the Authority after the request has been passed through Nan Flannigan. Bill is in her back pocket, and after what happened with Godric, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find out that she’s got a problem with Eric.
“She isn’t aware of who my Maker is, since things of that nature aren’t generally discussed among our kind in casual conversation, which also means that she doesn’t know that Eric is my brother. My ability to protect him only goes so far. There are seven vampires sitting on the Authority right now and none of them are aware of my connection to Eric. Showing him favor could endanger both of our lives. In addition to that, Nan would only require a majority vote to get a death warrant issued, so even if I voted against it there are still six other vampires who could overrule me.” Nora explained.
“What about that magister guy?” Sookie asked suddenly.
“You know about the magister?”
“Bill had to see him after he staked LongShadow to save my life,” Sookie told her. “What is his role in everything? I mean, if y’all know that Bill is up to something and tryin’ to take out the queen why don’t you just take him out yourselves? What do you need me for?”
It really didn’t make any sense to Sookie at all. To her it sounded like the Authority just didn’t want to get its hands dirty in everything. For some bad ass vampire league they were awfully chicken of dealing with their subordinates.
“Does the President in this country fly a fighter plane into battle, Sookie?” Nora pointed out. “We make the decisions and others carry them out. That’s the way it is in all government set ups.”
“I need time to think about this. You’re asking me to put my life on the line to clean up your mess. My gut tells me it’s a terrible idea, even if I do agree that Bill being in a position of power could be a very dangerous thing,” Sookie said.
“I’ll give you until sundown tomorrow, but I’m going to need an answer from you.”
“And if I decide I’m not interested in helping you, what then?” Sookie asked since she was sure there would be a consequence of some kind.
“Then you take your chances with Bill Compton being the king of the state of Louisiana,” Nora shrugged and finished off her blood before leaving the bar.
Sookie sat at the table for a few more minutes thinking things over. Her head started to pound and she gave up trying to untangle everything. This would be so much easier to figure out with Eric’s help. She got up and went to the kitchen to get herself some water.
“Sook, would you mind runnin’ that out for me?” Terry nodded toward a full bag of trash near the door.
“Sure,” she smiled wanly. “I could use a little fresh air.”
“Everything alright?” Terry asked with concern.
“Just got a little headache,” she said, and chugged her glass of water before picking up the trash.
The air outside was muggy but at least it was moving. Sookie leaned against the wall and took a series of deep breaths. Her eyes closed and she reminded herself that she needed to eat something. Eric would be arriving at Merlotte’s anytime. He’d had some things to do at Fangtasia before coming out to see her. As much as she wanted to drop her shields and let herself relax, all the people inside the building would have overwhelmed her pretty quickly, and Sookie was already struggling to keep it together.
“Sookie,” Bill’s voice filled her ears and her eyes popped open.
“Bill, what are you doing here?” she asked, standing up straight.
“I was hoping we could talk,” he stepped a little closer to her, but didn’t invade her personal space.
“I can’t… I’m working right now, Bill.”
“I know I hurt you, Sookie. I wish I could—”
“I can’t do this right now, Bill. I have to throw this trash out and get back inside,” Sookie said, but didn’t move.
Bill stepped closer and the change of his expression let her know he more than likely smelled Eric on her.
“You’ve been with Eric,” Bill had the gall to look betrayed.
“That’s none of your business anymore,” Sookie said defiantly.
“Sookie, I know I made mistakes, but—”
“But nothing, Bill. You betrayed me in the worst way possible, and you want me to forgive you and pretend it never happened. Well, it doesn’t work that way. Now please, go home and leave me be,” Sookie requested as politely as she possibly could.
“I didn’t have a choice, Sookie. One doesn’t simply decline to do their regent’s bidding once an edict has been handed down,” Bill explained.
“You could have told me, Bill, and you didn’t. You had night after night after night to tell me the reason why you had come back here, but you didn’t. You told me you love me and—”
“I never lied about that, Sookie,” Bill cut her off. “I swear to you, that was the truth.”
“I don’t trust you anymore, Bill. I don’t know if I ever will again. Can you honestly say that you think you deserve yet another chance? This isn’t the first time you’ve betrayed my trust or taken advantage of me.”
“It was for your own—”
“If you say it was to protect me one more time, I’m going to scream. You weren’t trying to protect me, Bill. You were protecting yourself, and the people who put you up to this. You made a choice, and you chose your queen,” Sookie glared angrily at him.
“Sookie, are you—who the fuck is this?” Alcide stepped outside the restaurant to see Bill standing a little too close for his liking.
“Bill’s just leaving, aren’t you, Bill?” Sookie stared him down while Alcide stepped closer to her, putting himself between her and Bill.
Bill didn’t bother to answer before he disappeared at vampire speed. Sookie sagged with relief that there hadn’t been a physical altercation.
“Are you alright?” Alcide asked her.
“Yeah,” Sookie said numbly, and rubbed her eyes.
“What were you doing coming out here alone?” Alcide demanded.
“I needed some air and the trash had to go out. I didn’t think Bill was just going to show up like that,” she said. “Besides, I’m fine. He didn’t touch me.”
Alcide picked up the bag of trash and tossed it into the dumpster with ease before guiding Sookie back into the bar.
Eric finished up the paperwork that needed to be completed as far as vampire on vampire disputes were concerned, and then shut down his computer for the night. Fangtasia wasn’t open for business yet, but he could hear the waitresses joking around as they set things up for the evening. Sookie continuing to work at Merlotte’s wasn’t something he was in favor of, and it was something they needed to discuss. At least for the time being, it would be best if she wasn’t where he couldn’t keep an eye on her.
There also had to be something more going on that Nora wasn’t telling him if she was coming with a warning. Eric pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed Sookie’s number just to check in and let her know that he was on his way to her.
“Hello,” Sookie answered on the second ring.
“Good evening, Sookie,” he replied. “How is everything going?”
“Fine,” she said, but her tone suggested otherwise.
“Is that true, or are you attempting to bullshit me?”
There was a pause before Sookie said, “I need to tell you some things, but I don’t want to do it over the phone. I’m not hurt or anything like that, so don’t worry.”
“Where’s Alcide?” Eric asked.
“He’s here,” she said. “He’s fine, too. When will you be getting here?”
“I’m on my way,” he said. “I’ll be there shortly.”
“Have you talked to Nora tonight?” Sookie asked, which he found curious.
“I have. She came to see me just after sunset. I’ll tell you the rest when you get here,” Sookie promised him.
“I’ll be there as soon as I can,” Eric said, and hung up the phone.
He didn’t like Nora going behind his back to speak with Sookie privately. She had sworn she had come to help, but now he was getting the impression the only person she was interested in helping was herself. If she had come with the intention of betraying him that was going to be a problem. She might be a member of the Authority, but there were powers much stronger than the Authority that Eric had connections with that Nora knew nothing about.
He would hate for her to learn of them the hard way.