Sookie stood in Eric’s office for a while, just pacing back and forth while she took everything in. She was no closer to knowing for sure how her family had been brought to Sophie-Anne’s attention in the first place, and the only vampire who might be willing to tell them was currently buried in a coffin because he couldn’t play nice with others. That didn’t bode well for anybody. If Victor couldn’t be trusted to control himself around other vampires then it was more than likely he wouldn’t be able to control himself around Sookie either.
That could get really messy really quick.
Eric dashed off a fast email to the vampires in his area that had been settled there prior to his settling there. He was careful, however, not to include the vampires that he suspected were spies for Sophie-Anne. Eric wasn’t a fool. He knew damn well there were spies all over the place. Every vampire in his bar right at that moment was feeding information to someone. For all their talk of fealty, a vampire was going to save its own life first and fuck everything else.
It was every vampire for his or herself.
If you were feeding the information to the right source it wouldn’t even matter that you had committed treason because the vampire that had been soldout would meet the true death before charges could be filed. It was all a big mindfuck. Eric knew he had allies, but the only vampire he truly trusted was the one he made. Pam couldn’t lie to him and it wasn’t in her nature to be disloyal; she would just as soon meet the sun as betray her Maker.
Lorena, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as lucky.
Eric was unsure what to do with the information he had learned about Russell. If he and Sophie-Anne were still in the negotiating phase of drawing up their marriage contract that meant it hadn’t yet been presented to the Authority for their approval, and no vampire was eligible to enter into a marriage contract while it was being punished by the Authority. That meant whatever deal Sophie-Anne and Russell may have been cooking up was going to be put on hold for the next decade, at the very least. Perhaps if Sophie-Anne had better pull with the Authority she could bargain down Russell’s sentence, but that wasn’t the case.
In the eyes of the Authority, Sophie-Anne LeClerq was just another regent paying tribute to help fund their cause. She didn’t have the surplus cash flow to make herself a greater asset to them. For so many reasons it would be best if Sophie-Anne was eliminated. Eric could feel the pawns moving on the chessboard in his brain, and he was stunned at what he was finding would make the best outcome.
“Bill needs to be king,” he muttered.
“What?” Sookie asked, hearing Eric say something, but unable to make out quite what it was, exactly, he’d said. She felt the shock in their bond, however, and that stoked her curiosity.
“Bill needs to be king of Louisiana,” Eric said, and for a second Sookie thought for sure her hearing was deceiving her.
No way did Eric just say what she thought he said.
“Bill is the central cog in all of this,” Eric said in utter disbelief. “He’s the swing vote going back and forth between Mississippi and Louisiana. I don’t know how he did it.”
Eric wasn’t often left speechless, but Bill had somehow made himself an important asset to both kingdoms. It was obvious his intentions were dubious on both sides and his ability to work as a double agent was impressive, at the least. Sadly, it was those abilities that would make him a good king. And Eric already knew what the future king’s weakness would be: the telepath at his side.
But there were ways to bargain for Sookie’s safety and well-being. While watching Bill make his confessions to Sookie it had become painfully obvious that the toddler vampire had, in fact, fallen in love with Sookie at some point over the course of their relationship. While Bill had to know that Sookie was lost to him, it wouldn’t stop him from pining for her or trying to figure out a way to get Sookie to give him a second chance. Or maybe a twentieth, considering all the fuckups he’d made.
“Won’t the Authority kill him for what he did to me?” Sookie asked.
“I made a deal with Bill,” Eric revealed. He hadn’t told Sookie about this yet, and he could tell by the way her blood did a sudden about face that she wasn’t happy with being left in the dark.
“What kind of deal?” she demanded.
“I told him that if he told me what he knew about your grandmother’s death that I would drop the charges against him for nearly draining you,” Eric told her.
“Why would you do that?”
“Because you deserved to know the truth, and I knew he wouldn’t confess if he wasn’t going to get something out of it,” Eric told her.
“Well that’s one death sentence off the books, but what about the queen? Isn’t she still pissed off?” Sookie quirked an eyebrow.
“Yes, I’m sure she is but I can deal with her,” Eric said. “If I can convince her that Bill is an essential part of her service, that he can be used to get information about Russell’s plans for the future then there’s a chance she might drop the charges as well, and just dole out the punishment she sees fit. You’ve made a full recovery from your injuries, and if she scents blood in the water coming from Mississippi I doubt she’ll be able to resist making a play for it. Lorena is easily manipulated where Bill is concerned. She’s always had a weakness for him, and Bill knows precisely how to play that up.”
Sookie was trying to keep up, but she didn’t quite understand what Eric was suggesting. She felt like she was missing puzzle pieces.
Eric, meanwhile, pulled his phone from his pocket and sent a text message to summon Pam to his office. She appeared moments later in one of her Fangtasia costumes made of leather and it’s-a-good-thing-she-doesn’t-need-to-breathe.
“Pam, you’ll help us bring these packages back to the house,” Eric said, and Pam simply nodded before she started to gather them up.
“Wait, where are we going?” Sookie asked, looking from one vampire to the other as they picked up boxes and bags to take out to Eric’s car.
“I’ll explain,” Eric said, but offered nothing further.
He didn’t want to speak of this anymore within earshot of Bill, or the other vampires that were inside the bar. Sookie grabbed a couple of bags, and since it didn’t all fit in Eric’s car, some of the bags were loaded into Pam’s car as well. Sookie got into the passenger’s seat of Eric’s car, and it wasn’t until they were on the road that he started talking again.
“We’re going to figure out a way to eliminate Sophie-Anne, and Bill is going to take over for her,” Eric explained.
“What? Have you lost your mind? Why in the world would you want Bill to be king?” Sookie was sure Eric had lost all his marbles.
“Because he is already aware of your gifts and he isn’t interested in turning you over to the Authority to make you their pet. He will protect you, and he knows that I am old enough that if I want to take the throne from him at any time, I have the ability and manpower to make it happen. He’s the perfect sitting duck,” Eric told her.
Sookie chewed that over for a moment. She hated to admit it, but it made sense. Bill was good at political bullshit, which Sookie knew Eric hated. He played the game because he had to, but he had no interest in being a politician. All he wanted was to keep an eye on his piece of the pie. With Bill there would be no contracts that effectively kept Sookie a slave to him like there was with the queen.
Bill wouldn’t go after Jason to use him against her, which was her biggest fear, and even if he did have designs on trying to get her back he was going to have to do some serious plotting to take Eric out of the equation first. What Bill didn’t know about was the trump card sitting in Eric’s back pocket. Bill didn’t know about Nora, not that Sookie was all that thrilled to know about her either.
When they pulled up to Eric’s house, the one Pam had never been to before, the three of them unloaded the bags and boxes from the cars and brought them into the house. Sookie went to the kitchen to warm TruBloods for the vampires, and make herself a cup of coffee. While she did that Eric caught Pam up on what had happened in the basement, and by the time Sookie came back to the living room, it was obvious Pam was on board with Eric’s plan to overthrow the queen.
“If we get caught it will mean true death sentences for us both,” Pam looked at Eric seriously.
“He won’t get caught,” Sookie assured Pam.
“How do you know?” Pam arched an eyebrow a la her Maker.
“Because if shit hits the fan I’ll just still everybody and we’ll haul ass out of there,” Sookie shrugged.
“And if you’re already dead?” Pam argued.
That was a good point.
“We’ll plan for that later. Right now we need to figure out how to get to Sophie-Anne,” Eric said.
While Eric and Pam discussed strategy, Sookie contemplated her fairy powers and just what she could really do with them. Was it possible she could just blast the queen to kingdom come and be done with it? It certainly seemed like a dose of sunlight would do the trick. She really needed to get in touch with Claudine again to find out just what the extent of her power really was.
“Illumia!” Sookie said suddenly.
Eric and Pam stopped talking and turned to look at Sookie.
“When Dr. Ludwig came to check up on me she gave me another vial of Illumia. She said that just a drop of it would make a vampire go insane. What if we could somehow get that into a blood for the queen?” Sookie suggested.
“And then we have a mad queen on our hands?” Pam looked at Sookie like she was a little mad herself.
“No! You give her the Illumia, she goes insane and to stop her from going on a killing spree she gets staked or something,” Sookie suggested.
“That’s so crazy it might just work,” Eric said.
“We need to refine that plan a little better,” Pam said. “You think the queen is just going to take a swig from a bottle of synthetic blood because you tell her to?”
“I’ll donate,” Sookie said, and Eric’s fangs dropped. “We can tell her it’s a peace offering or something, or my tribute to her. If she thinks I’m kissing her ass she won’t have any reason to suspect anything. She’ll just think I’m some silly pet trying to impress a queen.”
“That’s brilliant,” Eric smiled at Sookie, even though he wasn’t crazy about sharing his bonded’s blood with another vampire.
“We can add a drop of Illumia to it, and when she goes crazy Bill can stake her,” Pam suggested, and Sookie nodded her agreement.
“If she charges at me in her insanity then Bill would be within his rights to stake her, wouldn’t he? He’s protecting his sheriff’s bonded. Even if the Authority punished him it would just be a slap on the wrist, right?” Sookie asked.
Eric and Pam looked at each other for a moment before Eric said, “I don’t know, but I think we’re about to find out.”
“So it’s settled then? I’ll donate blood and Bill will stake the queen?” Sookie looked from one vampire to the other.
Both of them nodded, and just like that, the plan was done. Bill Compton was going to be king of Louisiana.