A hush descended over Merlotte’s when Sookie walked into the bar flanked by Eliza and Elijah. Ever since she disappeared eight weeks earlier, gossip had been rife all throughout Bon Temps concerning her. Various outrageous stories had spread like wildfire, many of them thanks to Maxine Fortenberry. The rude, nasty, bigoted old woman had been ecstatic to spread any rumor she heard, and a quick dip in her head told Sookie one Samuel Merlotte had passed on just as many of the rumors as he heard. Fucking shifter!
Oh God! Is that Sookie? I thought she ran away with Vampire Bill?
I always knew that girl was trash!
Fuck, Sookie looks good. I’d love ta’ bend ’er over the pool table and hit ‘er with my cue!
I heard she was kidnapped by vampires and used as a sex slave…
Slut! Fangbanging whore!
Sookie chuckled while the salacious thoughts of some of Bon Temps ‘upstanding citizens’ filled her mind. They were nothing if not predictable. They would judge her for her sinful ways, and yet half of them were doing far worse than her… Or they were before I regained my true visage. Fucking hypocrites, every one of them. The old Sookie, mortal Sookie, would have ignored their thoughts, said they were entitled to think whatever they liked, but she wasn’t the old Sookie anymore. She was different, there was more to her now, thousands upon thousands of years worth of memories. She knew what it was to be different and accepted. She was no longer ashamed or afraid of whom and what she was, and she would be damned if she let a bunch of inbred, narrow-minded idiots judge her and make her feel less than what she was because they knew she was better than them!
Moving further into the bar, Sookie stopped in the center and cast her gaze over her former friends, judging them as they once judged her. She deliberately ignored Sam, Alcide, and Jessica, keeping her eyes off them while she surveyed all those present. She could tell by the tenor of Sam’s thoughts he hadn’t been expecting her to show up tonight.
When Tara had contacted him earlier and told him Sookie was on her way to Bon Temps, he never in his wildest dreams imagined she would turn up at the bar. He assumed she would go to the old farmhouse, and he, Alcide, and Jessica would confront her there. He was hoping to catch her unaware and knock her off balance so it would be easier for them all to get through to her. That plan had been shot to hell when she walked through the front door, and now he was the one off balance.
“Hookah!” Lafayette’s squeal wailed throughout the bar as he came barrelling out of the kitchen and saw Sookie standing in the middle of the bar. The flamboyant chef gave no mind to anyone else in the bar while he crossed the short distance between them and wrapped up Sookie in a hug. He had missed her since she moved to New Orleans; he never realized how empty Bon Temps was when she wasn’t around. He had been lucky that he had Jesus with him during the year she was missing. The brujo had been content to sit with Lafayette and just listen to him whenever he was down and missing his best friend. However, with Jesus now dead and Tara being a bitch and ignoring him, Lafayette had realized just how few friends he had left in Bon Temps. He would have counted Sam as his friend, but after the numerous rants he had heard about Sookie coming from the shifter, Lafayette had been reassessing that friendship. The flamboyant young man had sworn if he heard Sam claim Sookie was ruined because she was a vampire again, he would skin him and make a dog fur coat of him!
Sookie waved off Eliza and Elijah while she wrapped her arms around Lafayette’s shoulders and returned his hug. “Did ya miss me, Lala?” She asked, slipping effortlessly into the informal way she used to speak. She smiled at her old friend as she pulled back staring at him. She had certainly missed him even if she had spoken to him a few times on the phone over the last several months.
“I always miss my Baby Girl when she’s away,” Lafayette replied. “Yous lookin’ good, hookah,” he added while he took a step back and let his eyes roam over her. She was looking better than good, she looked happy. Lafayette didn’t think he had ever seen her look so happy in all the years he had known her. She looked at peace, and it was clear to see that vampire life suited her. “You back…”
Whatever Lafayette was going to say was cut off when Sam stormed around his bar and pushed his way between them. “Lafayette, get back to work!” he ordered, not even bothering to look at the other man, instead shooting Sookie a glare. “Northman gave you permission to leave, then?” he mocked with a sneer, struggling to rein in his anger. He could smell Eric all over her as well as inside of her. She reeked of Eric and sex, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out just what the two had been doing in their spare time. Sam hadn’t wanted to believe Alcide when he told him that he had heard Eric and Sookie having sex while being fully aware that he was there in the bar. His Sookie wasn’t the type; she was a good girl, not some whore of a fangbanger who spread her legs for Northman whenever he wanted. The news that not only was she fucking Northman, but was also vampire had felt like a kick in the balls. Sookie was never supposed to be a vampire; she was supposed to have realized that vampires were too dangerous to be around, and then recognized he was the perfect guy for her. They could have been happy together; he could have given her all the things a vampire couldn’t… A home, a family, children. We could’ve been so happy together, but Northman had fucking ruined it by turning her…
“I don’t need permission to do anything,” Sookie said, grinning, amused by his anger and thoughts. “In fact, they all seek permission from me before they do anything. You might say that I’m top of the food chain. Also…” she continued while she walked around Sam looking out around the bar once more. She could feel the siblings move into defensive positions, ready to attack at the first sign of danger. “Eric didn’t ruin me by turning me, because he didn’t turn me. Eric is not my Maker. He is my mate, though…” she paused as she recalled what else he had thought. “As for the rest… I have a home…” Nodding her head to Eliza and Elijah, Sookie smiled while she added, “and a family. I have a big family. I’ve even got a couple of kids… Well, four to be exact…”
Sam froze momentarily, stunned by the confidence oozing off of Sookie. He wasn’t used to her being so forthright and unapologetic. She always spoke her mind, but usually with a hint of caution and regret in her tone as if she regretted that they didn’t quite agree. As he gaped at her, Sam replayed her words in his head and realized she had answered some of his unspoken thoughts. “Stay outta my head, Sookie!” he demanded, his eyes narrowing with anger while he tried shaming her into compliance.
“No,” Sookie replied simply, taking everyone who was watching their tête-á-tête by surprise. The ancient blonde chuckled at the shocked looks on the faces of the bar’s patrons. Yeah, I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I can do any longer. “You can glare at me all you want, Sam,” she continued as she stepped forward and invaded his personal space. There was no way in Hell she would back down and allow a snivelling little shit like Sam bully her and make her feel ashamed. “You can threaten me, Hell, you can even cry, but it won’t make a damn bit of difference. If you want me to respect your privacy than you damn well better respect mine. That means you don’t break into my house… You don’t go through my personal belongings, and you sure as Hell don’t roll around in my bed like a depraved, trench coat-wearing pervert!”
“Sam, what is she talking about?”
Sookie arched a brow when she felt another shifter enter the bar area. She had sensed her in the back, but as far as she could tell the woman hadn’t had anything to do with what was happening. A quick dip into her head told Sookie the shifter in question was Sam’s girlfriend. “Yes, Sam, why don’t you tell your girlfriend what you’ve been doing at my house while I’ve been away,” she said, putting him on the spot.
“It’s not your house,” Sam replied instead of exposing his disgusting behavior in front of his girlfriend. He couldn’t believe Sookie had blurted it out the way she had. She was usually so polite at respecting people’s privacy.
“It’s not yours either, so you had no right searching through it while I was away,” Sookie countered. “You’re lucky I don’t report you to the Sheriff…” Stepping even closer to Sam, Sookie dropped her tone to barely a whisper, making sure he knew her next words were for his ears only, “And I don’t mean Andy. You get one warning, Sam, and that was it. Stay out of my life!”
As he stared at her, he realized she meant every word. She would let Eric do whatever he wanted if he didn’t leave her alone. For the first time ever, Sam was afraid of Sookie. She had changed, and in his opinion, not for the better. She was a nothing but another monster now. She was beyond redemption.
Sookie curled her lips into a satisfied smile while she took a step back. If Sam was smart he would leave her alone and stay away from the old farmhouse. If not, well, he would just be another shifter who met his end at her hands. Moving into the middle of the bar again, Sookie slowly turned in a circle eyeing the customers in the bar. “Now, as for the rest of you, well, many of you will be happy to hear I’m leaving Bon Temps, and I doubt I’ll ever be back. I’m getting away from this Godforsaken town and all its two-faced, bigoted, redneck trash…” Sookie laughed as she felt the swell of indignation rise within the customers at her words. Oh, she had waited far too long to tell the good folk of Bon Temps what she really thought of them. “Y’all looked down your noses at me for being poor, uneducated, crazy, a fangbanger…” Her eyes darted to Arlene who was stood open-mouthed behind the bar as she spoke the last words. “You all blamed me when anything went wrong in this town; it was always that Crazy Sookie Stackhouse’s fault. Well, you know what… Fuck you! You’re all a bunch of fucking hypocrites. Most of y’all are either popping the pills that y’all judge Lafayette for dealing; or fucking around on your partners, and then there’re those who beat their spouses. Y’all are nothing but a bunch of homophobic, inbred racists!”
“Well, I never!” Maxine declared, clutching a hand to her chest. “Your Gran’ll be turning in her grave…”
“I don’t doubt it,” Sookie said, cutting Maxine off. “She’d be so disappointed in me, but then… I don’t care. She was just as two-faced as the rest of you!” She gave them all a second to let her words sink in before turning her attention to a shocked-looking Andy and Terry Bellefleur. “Andy, Terry, you I will miss,” she added sincerely. “We’ve not always seen eye to eye, Andy, but I know you’re a good man, and I’ve always liked you, Terry.” She didn’t give either of them a chance to reply before she turned to face Lafayette. “There’s a job for you in New Orleans if you want it.”
“For real?” Lafayette asked. He had thoroughly enjoyed watching Sookie speak her mind. She had said many of the things he would have loved to have said to the bigots of Bon Temps.
“I am,” Sookie replied with a nod of her head. “You’re family, Lala; you belong in New Orleans with the rest of us.”
“Sam, I quit,” Lafayette said, not having to think twice. There was nothing for him in Bon Temps anymore but bad memories.
Sookie grinned at her old friend, happy that he had accepted. She was being honest when she said he was family, and she always took care of her family. “Let’s go,” she added, nodding to the siblings. She didn’t spare anyone a second glance as she made her way out of the bar, Eliza beside her while Elijah walked behind them.
Sam watched open-mouthed while Sookie strolled out of his bar and his life. He couldn’t believe she had spoken to everyone the way she had. He had never expected things to turn out like they had. Sookie was supposed to have realized she was being used by Northman and the rest of the vampires, and then returned to Bon Temps. Sam had been so certain he would get through to her, especially with Alcide and Jessica there to back him up.
Alcide and Jess, Sam thought, turning his gaze to the pair. Sookie completely ignored them. She didn’t even glance at them. What the fuck has Northman done to her? Fucking fanger… Seeing Alcide and Jessica’s equally shocked looks, Sam sprang into action, refusing to let Sookie leave the way she had.
Sookie was halfway to her SUV when she stopped to turn around and face the bar again. “Three…”
“Two,” Eliza continued, taking up position on her left.
“One,” Elijah finished, standing to Sookie’s right.
“Well, that was predictable,” Sookie said not even bothering to try and hide her amusement when Sam, Alcide, and Jessica came barrelling out of the bar.
“Where’s Bill?” Jessica asked before anyone else had a chance to say anything. She hadn’t forgotten how Sookie had been torturing him before he disappeared and she suspected the telepath had something to do with his absence.
“He’s enjoying the hospitality of The New Authority,” Sookie replied with a devilish smirk. Bill may not have been enjoying his time at the new headquarters, but her family most definitely was!
“And Jason? What have you done to him?” Jessica asked, stepping forward and dropping her fangs. She had been trying to contact Jason for months without any luck, and she was sure Sookie had something to do with that.
“Nothing,” Sookie answered simply. She fought the urge to laugh at Jessica’s attempt to intimidate her.
“You expect me to believe that?” Jessica challenged, trying to make it appear that she was fiercer than she actually was. “Jason disappeared the same time you left without a word. He wouldn’t have left without talking to me…”
“Why? Cause you fucked him?” Sookie interrupted with a snort. “I hate to tell you this, Jess, but my brother has fucked and skipped out on half the women in Bon Temps. It’s what he does…” Sookie hated speaking about Jason like she was even if her words were true, but there was no way in Hell she would let Jessica get anywhere near her brother. If Jason wanted to pursue a relationship with her once they had fixed whatever the Fae had done to him and he realized the true affect vampire blood had on him, she would step back and let him do as he pleased, but not until then.
“It was more than that,” Jessica defended; rather insulted with the blunt way Sookie had spoken to her. “Jason loves me, and I love him…”
“That why you’re fucking Alcide?” Sookie asked, interrupting her again. She grinned at the look of surprise that flashed across the redhead’s face. “Seriously, didn’t Bill teach you anything? I can smell him all over you and you on him. Or what? Did you think you were the only one with a strong sense of smell?”
“Given who her Maker is, My Lady, I doubt she knows anything,” Elijah said, flicking his eyes over the baby vampire. He had to admit she was pretty with her porcelain skin and flaming red hair, but she was definitely not his type. He preferred strong, mature woman over naïve little girls pretending to be adults.
“My Lady?!” Alcide questioned mockingly. He couldn’t believe he had ever been attracted to Sookie. She was nothing that he once believed she was. She was just as arrogant and power-hungry as every other vampire he had met, Jessica being the exception. She was nothing more than a Sheriff’s whore and he had everyone calling her ‘My Lady.’
“Or Mistress, for a while I was called Duchess, and then there is one vampire who once called me Goddess,” Sookie replied, listing off a few of the titles she had been given over the years.
“Finn?!” Eliza guessed, pretending to ignore Sam, Alcide, and Jessica when in reality she was tracking their every move. She knew one of them would attack before the night was over, and she was just waiting for it. No one would get near The Head of the Line while she was there.
“Nero,” Sookie answered with a small smile. “Finn claims I’m a gift from the Gods. Of course Roman disagreed, he can never agree with Finn outta stubbornness. Dieter, of course, agreed with Roman…”
Sam’s eyes widened while he listened to Sookie ramble. He may not have known who Finn was, but he had definitely heard the names Roman, Dieter, and Nero before. Nero was the enforcer of the Queen of most of Eastern Europe, and Roman and Dieter were Authority members. He was finally beginning to understand just how well-connected Sookie was. It was more than just Eric in her corner. If what she said was true, that she really did know them and their relationships were real, then she was virtually untouchable. Sam had foolishly believed he could have gone up against Eric and won, but he knew there was no way he could go up against The Authority and hope to survive, at least not without some serious back up…back up he didn’t have. He wasn’t exactly popular in the Supe world; he had double-crossed far too many people over the years. Still, he wasn’t ready to let her go just yet. He may not have been able to have the kind of relationship with her that he always wanted, but he could still have her. I just need to get her away from all the other vampires. If I can get her alone I know I can convince her to move back home…
“Never gonna happen, Sam,” Sookie said, having heard his thoughts. There was no way in Hell she was ever coming back to Bon Temps. She belonged with Eric and the rest of her Line. She had her family back and she wasn’t going to let some deluded shifter fuck all that up! “I’m never coming back to Bon Temps, and me and you… Never gonna happen. I’m over this whole fucking town. I’m gonna spend the rest of forever with Eric. I love him… Only him. Nothing you could say or do will ever change that so do the smart thing and let it go…”
“And if I don’t?” Sam still asked rather foolishly, and then took a step forward. He heard everything she had said, and he was sure she thought she meant it, but he knew deep down inside she didn’t. She had thought she loved Bill, but she got over him quickly enough; Sam was sure it would be the same way with Eric.
“Then I’ll kill you,” Sookie answered deadly serious. There wasn’t a degree emotion on her face; her voice was even and calm. “That goes for you two as well,” she added, turning her gaze to Alcide and Jessica. “I’m where I want to be. I’m happy, in love, and nothing and no one will take that away from me. I refuse to live my life by your standards. You are nothing to me; you have no say in what I do. The choice is clear, Sam. You either walk away and live, or continue to interfere in my life and die. So what’s it gonna be, Sam? Live or die?”
Sam eyed Sookie carefully trying to discern if she meant what she said. Part of him couldn’t believe she would kill him, but a larger, smarter, part told him she meant every word she said. She would kill him without a second thought if he didn’t let her go; if she didn’t, he knew Eric would. Northman would be happy to kill him. He wouldn’t want the competition…
“You were never competition,” Sookie said with a laugh, replying to his thought. “It’s Eric… always has been, always will be.”
Sam blew out a resigned sigh, finally accepting that she was speaking the truth. He never had a chance with her. He had tried to convince himself, he thought it was what he wanted, but it was nothing more than a dream. As much as he hated the idea of her being with Eric, Sam understood once and for all where her heart truly lay. Sookie was Eric’s in a way that she had never allowed anyone else to have her… Completely. Mind, body, and soul, she belonged to Eric. At least it ain’t Compton. That thought brought a smile to his face; he knew he would have never walked away if she had chosen Bill. He would have fought Compton and taken her away from him. It’s time to let go of the dream…
Lifting his head, Sam met Sookie’s gaze and committed her to memory, not that he would ever forget her. “Goodbye, Sookie,” he said, and he let her go. He had a good woman who loved him and whom he loved waiting in the bar, and while he might have his work cut out for him after all the stupid things he had been doing over the last several months, he would fight for Luna like he never fought for Sookie. He had unwisely let the news that Sookie was a vampire and with Northman cloud his mind and turn him away from the one woman he loved. Well, no more. Luna was his future. He refused to let Luna’s ex keep him from seeing her, and as much as it pained him, he knew that he had no right trying to stop Sookie moving on with her life and finding happiness with Eric. I’ve been such an idiot. I shouldn’t have let Alcide and Jess convince me that Sook needed saving.
Sookie said nothing while she watched Sam turn and head back into the bar. She had heard every single thought he’d had, and while she would never trust him entirely, she would try to give him the benefit of the doubt. She would sure as Hell also arrange for someone to keep an eye on him and report if he attempted to interfere in her life ever again.
“You two have the same choice,” Sookie said, returning her gaze to the stunned-looking Alcide and Jessica. “Walk away and live, or keep sticking your noses where they don’t belong and die.”
Alcide couldn’t believe Sam had just walked away like that! He was sure Sam had seen everything the same way he did. Sookie needed to be rescued from Northman and all the other bloodsuckers! Sam had been just as vocal as he had; he knew what they were and what they would do to her. Granted, most of the info Sam had received was through him, but Alcide had witnessed it! He was there at Fangtasia when Eric had fucked Sookie right in front of Compton and he had relayed that news to Sam. Alcide may have embellished a little on just what he had specifically seen and heard, but Sam didn’t know that. Jessica had also been helpful, telling Sam everything she had witnessed Sookie having done to Bill. They all agreed Sookie needed saving although probably not for the same reasons. Each of them had the own reasons; only Sam’s being closest to altruistic. Alcide and Jessica had differing reasons for wanting Sookie away from Eric and the other vampires, far less noble reasons; revenge being just one.
Sookie kept her face blank while she slipped into Alcide’s mind, she could tell all his thoughts were jumbled; his mind was jumping from one extreme thought to another. He wanted her away from everyone else and alone for a reason, but she couldn’t see why. He was hiding something, and she was determined to find out what he had planned. As she used her keen vampire sight to move her vision between the Were and vampire, Sookie knew she had two choices, she could seize, capture, and torture Alcide until he broke and revealed all, and damn! As much as she tempted to do just that, she could also let him go and get the information she sought through subterfuge. By chance for Sookie, she knew just the person who could help her! I guess its Door Number Two!
“Where’s Bill?” Jessica asked again, breaking the silence. She didn’t believe for one second that Sookie would kill her so she refused to give up. In her naïveté, Jessica didn’t think Sookie had the guts to kill anyone. She may have been a vampire, but she was too soft to embrace it fully.
“Ask me that question again, and I’ll kill you as well,” Sookie replied with a smile. She may not have been able to read Jessica’s mind, but it was obvious to her what the baby vampire was thinking. It was written all over her face. “I think we’re done here,” she added, directing her words to Elijah and Eliza. “Let’s head back to Shreveport…”
Sookie was just about to turn around when she caught a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye. Stupid baby vampire, she scolded silently while she spun to her left and avoided Jessica’s attack. She reached for Jessica, and then fisted her hand in Jess’s red hair and dragged her at vampire speed into the woods at the back of Merlotte’s parking lot. ‘It’s come full circle,’ she thought… She dragged Bill’s child to the spot where mortal Sookie had saved her Maker all those years ago. She didn’t want any witnesses for what she was about to do, of course, this was not just the perfect spot, but wholly appropriate.
Eliza bared her fangs and hissed at Alcide when he moved to follow Sookie and Jessica. “The choice was walk away or die,” she reminded him while she curled her fingers in preparation of an attack.
It took Alcide a tenth of a second to make his decision. He didn’t even spare the woods where Sookie had dragged Jessica a second glance before he headed to his truck and drove away from the bar so fast that he spun up a shitload of gravel as he floored it out of there.
“Elijah, make sure he leaves,” Eliza said, not wanting the Were to sneak back in from the other direction.
Elijah didn’t need telling twice. He sped off down the road just as fast as Alcide had, keeping him in his sights the entire way.
Sookie didn’t bother playing with Jessica. The immature, idiotic baby vamp had attacked her, now she had to pay the consequences. Slamming the redhead against a tree, Sookie broke off a branch and tossed it into the air, “Sorry, Jess,” she said insincerely when she caught the branch and thrust into her heart. “The choice was yours.”
Jessica’s eyes widened with fear and shock when she felt the tree branch slide into her skin and pierce her heart. She never, ever thought Sookie would actually stake her. She wasn’t supposed to meet the True Death, Sookie was! Sookie was supposed to have suffered for taking Bill and Jason away from her.
Sookie didn’t bother to back up when Jessica’s body swelled and exploded, showering her with blood and guts. Blood covered Sookie’s face, streaking her blonde hair, and making her look like something from a horror flick. “Three down, one to go,” she whispered, thinking of her former friend and newborn vampire, the one responsible for passing information Sam regarding her. Sorry, Tara, you’ve pissed me off for the last time…