Banner The Curse of the Eclipsing Blood Moon

WARNING: VIOLENCE

Chapter 13

The characters of the Southern Vampire Mysteries belong to Miss Charlaine Harris. No infringement on my part is intended. The characters on True Blood belong to Mr. Alan Ball. No infringement on my part is intended.

I have no BETA, editor, or other such charming person. All mistakes are my own. This Story is rated M.

The Curse of the Eclipsing Blood Moon

Chapter 13

“How are we doing?” Eric asked Sookie as the royals went off to say their how-do’s to Sophie-Anne.

Together they strolled Sophie-Anne’s  I Love Me hall.  There were humans admiring the numerous Old Master paintings that featured HRM.

Sookie was shaking her head at the wonder of it all. “HRM has no shame,” said as she stopped to  look at S-A as Mona Lisa. “And really? The Girl with the Pearl Earring?

“Her ego has no limits,” Eric chuckled. “Oh, one of my favorites coming up.

“Un-fucking believable,” Sookie cringed a bit at the next grandiose painting that reached from floor to ceiling.  “The Virgin Mary and Child.”

“Rafael did not paint that,” Eric was laughing. “No one would do that painting. She finally made her child Andre do it.”

“She is going to Hell,” Sookie said with a shake of her head, “and toasting there in The Pit.”

“I am a believer,” Eric chuckled as they continued down the hall, Eric nodding to folks he knew and smiling at those he did not.

There were countless marble statues of Sophie-Anne that decorated the long vista as well.  Who, like Venus, was rising up out of the ocean riding a dolphin. Her trident was tipped with gold as well as her nipples.

There was a twenty foot bronze statue of her leaning against a marble column, her sword drawn, her cape fluttering in the breeze as she stood on the skull of a foe she had just vanquished. The crown on her head, set with jewels, twinkled from the light of the crystal chandeliers that marched their way down the ceiling every ten feet. The column was real, something from Rome’s glory days when gladiators secured the arena. The bronze statue…well, it was believed by most that S-A had never fought with a sword, let alone been to Rome.  The bronze was possibly real…but no one knew for sure.

“You look at home, here, among these priceless artifacts,” Eric remarked to Sookie as they stopped to admire a stained glass window made in the 13thcentury.

Sookie turned her attention on Eric. “What does that mean?” she asked.

“That you are a priceless, beautiful woman that would be at home in such a setting.”

“You mean like an exotic bird in a gilded cage?” she replied.

“There are those here tonight that would see you as so,” his voice was sincere. “But that was not my intent. When you are an expert in your field, or you have simply been around long enough, you can spot the fake amongst the real. Especially objects of art. Priceless, one-of-a-kind treasures are easy to spot. So are humans.

Those so inclined would call it a matching of auras. How they flow and compliment each other.”

“And my aura?” she asked him.

“You out shine anything in this hall. There is a soft glow that radiates out from you. It speaks of peace. Contentment.”

“Really?” she eyed him.

“You may fuss and fume about taxes and money. That is just the consequences of living.  But that is not who you are in your soul. Your human is calm and relaxed.”

“Have you seen my crazy?” she asked him with a chuckle. “When I am angry I am loud and vulgar and from time-to-time have been known to tray-slam someone upside the head.”

“And you are very charming when you do so,” he grinned at her.  “That, my dear, is self-defense. You are not violent as a rule. Believe me, I know evil doers who live on violence. Live for violence. They get off on it.”

There was concern on her face as she placed her hand on his chest.

Raising her hand to his lips, he kissed it. “And that is not who you are.

Now, take for instance,” his hand lightly traced the side of her face.  “That couple far in front of us. The two males.  One is dressed in a gray pin-striped tuxedo and one in black, long tails.

Tell me, just from a general observation, what is wrong?”

“Well,” she focused on the two men who were admiring a painting. “The one in the gray seems to be very at home in his tux. Like he does this all the time.

The one of the right, he keeps shifting around. Pulling on the sleeves of his jacket. Adjusting his collar. Looking around but not in a curious way. Oh, he’s not interested in what the other one has to say.”

“That is correct. Now, let’s go up closer and see if you can get a read on just exactly what is on his mind. And flirt with me just a bit. I know the shorter of the two. His name is Jake Houston. Of the Houston Houstons’.”

“No kidding?” Sookie took a closer look. “The oil barons? Along with shipping and tele-com?”

“Those would be the ones,” Eric smiled at her and brushed a stray hair back into place.

They strolled the hall with Eric’s arm across her shoulders and her arm around his waist, looking at what S-A had to offer. Eric commenting on the artist that S-A had used. His back stories about them making Sookie laugh.

“The painting where she looks like An Arab Beauty,”Eric wiggled his eyebrows, “was actually painted by me. I could forge anyone’s name back in the day.”

“What about now?”

“Well,” he licked his lower lip, “do not be purchasing any of the old Dutch Grand Masters.  Especially ones that has a male resembling me standing in the background. That is all Samuel’s work.”

“What? Sweet Samuel? You are making that up!”

Eric grinned and leaning in kissed her on then nose. “Well, maybe I painted them.”

“You are just bad,” she chastised him as she ran her finger down his nose.

Eric pulled her in closer, kissed her lightly on the lips and then went into an exquisite backstory about the circumstances for the nude of S-A.

“She really has a third nipple,” Eric said in confidence. “That was just not a joke by the artist.”

“What?” she poked him in the ribs.

“It is true,” he grinned. “Now, let me show you Cleopatra’s jewels. HRM says she dug them up herself while she was on a dig with Carter.

I was there in Egypt when Carter rolled into town. S-A was nowhere,” he stressed, “in sight. And the scarab ring in that showcase, now that does look like Samuel’s work. From time-to-time he wants pocket change so he makes ancient artifacts.

That crown that is said to be King Arthur’s in the other case, that was all Samuel.

“No!” Sookie pinched Eric. “Not our sweet Samuel!”

“Well,” his smile got bigger, “perhaps that was me as well.”

Jake and his date had started back down the hall towards them.

Eric had his arm around Sookie as they leaned into the case to admire the ancient set of jewels that S-A proudly proclaimed to have belonged to Cleopatra. “Just a small kiss,” he mouthed in her ear.

Looking over at him,  placing her hand on his face she lightly brushed her lips against his. Smiling at him, she did it one more time. Her lips lingering on his as he leaned in a bit, opened his mouth a bit, and gently kissed her. Tasting her wetness, he felt his blood go to liquid flame!

“Eric! You scoundrel! I hope she breaks your heart!”

They both looked up when they heard his name shouted in joy.

“Jake!” Eric smiled in return when his head came up from the kiss.

“Should know you would be with the most beautiful woman here,” he smiled and extended his hand to Sookie.

“If I might do the introductions,” Eric took a step back. “Sookie Stackhouse, this is Jake Houston. Jake Houston, this is Sookie Stackhouse.”

“Pleasure,” they both said at the same time.

“Yes, indeed it is,” Jake was smiling.

Sookie could see what Eric meant. This guy was at peace. “And please allow me to introduce you to Harvey Whitfield.”

“Harvey,” Eric and Sookie both said together. “A pleasure.”

“Just what,” Eric smiled at him, “brings you from home on such a rainy, cold, November evening?  You always have your nose stuck in law books. I did not think that Lady Justice ever took a day off.

And I know how much you dislike to socialize with those who think to use you for political gain. I do believe the entire Louisiana and Texas State Houses are in attendance tonight. All of them seething about the new maritime law you are pushing for…”

Jake’s smile turned wicked. “Those archaic laws have pissed me off for the very last time. Those good folk,” he choked, “that wish to straddle that wave of neither yea or nay, they are going to drown and be dinner for Poseidon’s Kraken.”

His smile got bigger and was genuine and heartfelt. “And, Harvey wished to attend so here we are.”

“Oh gawd,” Sookie thought, “Poor Jake, he is in love…”

“Jake told me about the Cleopatra jewels,” Harvey placed his hand over his heart and sighed. “They just might be the real deal. I have always had a fascination with the old girl. She carries that one-eyed look so well.”

“See what happens when you scorn a lover,” Jake laughed. “You may live on forever as beautiful, but with the  glaring acknowledgement that you made a very big mistake.”

Eric felt Sookie tap the palm of his hand. Holy shit! She knew Morse code! Now there was a discussion in the making! But for right now, he was getting …_ _ _… SOS! Shifting a bit, her left foot now pointed to Harvey. Easy fix.

“Harvey,” he smiled charmingly, “have you seen the diamond?”

“What?” he asked.

“The one that rivals the Hope. It is called Mouche de feu. Please, if you would allow me,” Eric smiled at him again and allowed his eyes to roam over Harvey’s perfect form. “He’s a swimmer,” Eric noted to himself. “Explains his lean shape, wide shoulders and tight ass. No wonder Jake is attracted to him.

Please, this way,” Eric stepped away from Sookie and placed his hand in the small of the man’s back and together they strolled down the hall to a small alcove.

“Jake,” Sookie began, her voice low. “You know Eric runs with a special crowd, right? I mean, all kinds of gifts and talents and this and that.”

“Yes,” he nodded.

“Harvey is not gay. He is not even bi-sexual. He is just doing you so that when you two leave tonight, you will be kidnapped and he will blame it on someone at this party. From the sound of things, perhaps one or two of this crowd would not miss you.”

“What?” he exclaimed, peering into Sookie’s eyes.

“Look, I know you love him. But time to move on from that.

Do you have a body guard or somethin?” she asked. “Your driver, can you trust him?”

“Harvey drove tonight,” he responded, still watching her face.

“Call your people, have them send somethin’ for you. Or Eric can call Pam. Do you know Pam?”

“Yes,” he nodded, “Eric’s child. I have her number.”

“Oh,” Sookie took another look at him. This guy could call Pamela on a whim? Really? Forget the money! Now that was impressive! “Well then, send her a text and have her meet you outside. Eric can walk you out.”

“Will do,” he said laughing, turning his back and taking out his phone as he and Sookie walked back down the hall. When he had finished, they were back looking at the Cleopatra jewels.

“Lovely,” Sookie sighed. “I mean, the workmanship is really somethin’.”

“Indeed,” Jake ran his finger along the top of the glass. “To be so primitive and yet do such delicate work.”

“Well, I don’t know about primitive. They did build the pyramids.”

“Miss Stackhouse,” he replied, “with enough manpower anything is possible. And deceit is not new to this century. I have seen, in my lifetime…” he began and then stopped.

“That’s true,” she nodded her head, taking his hand. “And those things are very pretty, but does not mean they belonged to Cleopatra. Things are not always as they seem.”

“Point well taken,” he raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“Eric,” his smile got bigger as the two approached. “The only jewel I see here tonight is indeed, your date for the evening.

A pleasure, Miss Stackhouse,” he handed her back to Eric.

“Mine as well,” she bowed her head to him. “Perhaps we will see you later in the evening. The queen has a silent auction at midnight. Perhaps we will see you on the floor.  I would like for you to meet my business partner and brother Lafayette Reynolds. He did a couple of years of law at Tulane and then his momma got sick and he quit school and went back to work. I wish you would talk to him and convince him to go back to school.”

“Well of course. I will give him a proper scolding and the Tulane secret handshake,” he chuckled.

“Thanks,” she grinned. “I appreciate that.”

“Until then, if not sooner,” he raised her hand and kissed it. “Harvey,” he smiled at his date. “I really do think we need to see HRM’s armor room. Just like Batman, she has a fabulous collection.”

The two strolled away, chatting about law school.

“I heard all of it,” Eric said to her as they disappeared from sight.

“You think it is someone in attendance here?” Eric asked her.

“It was part of Andre’s get rich scheme,” she said looking up at him.

Eric’s face was grim. “Andre would not have sullied himself by going out and looking for someone to entice Jake. This reeks of a little palace intrigue. Someone who can take orders and perhaps look out for himself enough to make a little something on the side. Billy Boy Compton comes to mind. Or someone of his ilk. Oh wait one, that would have been Andre.”

Eric and Sookie strolled back to the party, Eric smiling at Sophie-Anne, who excused herself and was joined by Eric and Sookie in the library.

“Who?” she asked.

“Andre thought to have Jake Houston kidnapped,” he replied.

“Lower than Were shit!” she hissed. “Just fucking perfect! Have the state of Texas looking for me along with all those righteous mother fuckers in the state of Louisiana!”

“He has been informed,” Eric said to her in a calming voice.

S-A looked at Eric and closed her eyes. “Do we know who did the dirty work for my scum of the earth finally dead child?”

“No proof, but Compton comes to mind.”

“Oh Eric,” she pouted, “must you lay everything at his door?”

“Well yes,” he replied. “He found the role of queen very satisfying.”

Opening her eyes, she stomped her foot. “I swear Eric, I now know what my mother meant when she said she was having a moment!”

“Sometime, tonight,” Eric’s voice was calm, “Houston will receive a phone call telling him to come home and I will escort him out of the building. Pamela is inbound. You do not have to admit her, she is happy to wait outside.”

Sophie-Anne kicked at an invisible something! “Were shit, Eric. You know it all goes to hell when she is around! All she has to do is walk past anything in my residence and it either falls off a wall, falls off a column, or trips and falls on a stake! She is cursed! You know that, right?”

“I know, that as far as children go, she is not the worst of the lot nor is she the best. There is no way she could possibly compare to me and what a joy I brought to Godric.”

“Pbbbbllllttttt!” she blew a raspberry at him. “Now you are laughing at me,” she frowned at him. “Just keep me in the loop about this. And I want to know what Judge Leroy Brown is chuckling about. He is not drinking, nor smoking, nor has he imbibed of any illegal drug that I can tell.”

“On that,” Eric said with a bow. “We shall see what the Hanging Judge is up too.” Placing Sookie’s arm through his, they were out the door.

“That fucking Andre!” she snarled. “There are some families you just leave, alone. The Houston family has more witches  working for them then there are people in the state of North Dakota! Fuck, fuck, fuck!

Compton….so that is why he has been hand delivering my documents to Judge Brown! Somehow, he figures into this as well.

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise. Just look at who is on top of this situation. The Houston family shall shower me with praise and perhaps gifts for finding out about this little affair of the soon to be finally dead heart!

Bill, I had such hopes for you. Not a high one, but at least someone I could blame when something went wrong and I could offer you up as the scapegoat. Now I just hope you meet the true death sooner than later.”

Lafayette had stopped on the outside of the Armor Depository to admire the statue of Lady Justice which had a very strong resemblance to Sophie-Anne.

“Fuck me runnin’,” he said with a shake of his head. “Has no respect what-so-ever for the righteousness that is the law,” he said in disgust.

“Lordy,” he said to the two men who were walking past him and stopped to linger at the life size statue that was holding a scale. “Have you ever seen such a thang! Queen HRM S-A has done and put herself as the law.

I mean, I have myI Love Mewall, but not even His La La Fineness woulds do that’s!”

“La La,” Jake grinned as he admired the beautiful black male. “Is that short for something?”

“Yes,” Lafayette took a long, admiring glance at the man who was addressing him. “It is a much more fitting title than Lafayette.”

“As in Lafayette Reynolds?” he asked.

“Well yes,” he nodded. “How is it that you knows me?”

“I just met your sister and I know her date for the evening.”

“Hm-m-m-m,” Lafayette looked all knowing. “That blue -eyed blond is a scoundrel!”

“That would be the tall blond,” Jake laughed.

“I am to talk you into going back to Tulane,” he said. “My name is Jake Houston. This is my friend Harvey Whitfield.”

“Pleasures, I am sure,” he nodded. “And hm-m-m-m. Mr. Houston. His La La Fineness says he has a job working for Miss Sooks. Woulds love to go back to school, but I am workin’ for Miss Sooks.”

“What does she do? And what do you do?”

“Well, she owns and is the CEO of Sleeping With One Eye Open.We deal in information.

 I am her CFO. All contracts gets pushed past me as well. I have limited knowledge of the legal eaze but I can and does internet research and has a good nose for bullshits when I smell it.”

“Oh, Lafayette,” Jake took a step back and raised an eyebrow.  “You are indeed a man worth knowing.”

“Well I thank you for those kind words,” he said with a nod of his head to both men.

“We were just going into the Armor Hall. Would you care to join us?”

“Coulds,” he nodded. “I have an on-going bet with myself that HRM is used for the model that holds the bloodied and ancient artifacts of saving-your-ass-at-war.”

“Not one to mince words, are you?” Jake chuckled.

“No, and I also know how to bruise the mint to go into a julip.”

“Oh my,” Jake eyed him. “Tall, dark, handsome, smart and knows his way around a mint patch and a bottle of bourbon. All the makings of a gentleman.”

Lafayette fluttered his eyelashes. “Been a while since I heard that kind of compliment coming from the mouth of a gentleman of the South. Lordy, I miss those smooth talkin’ Tulane days,” he sighed. “The soft lilting voices of those wanna’ be crusaders, proclaimin’ to save the world while makin’ enough money to purchase that third home on the Med.”

“Where did they purchase the other two?” Harvey asked.

“Up the judge’s ass and in Hell,” he replied. “I knows me a sweet talkin,’ lawyer dealin’, judge’s chamber negotiator when I hears one.”

“Touché,” Jake laughed. “Please, if you would join us. Let us order mint julips and talk trash. I don’t get out very often. I am finding perhaps I should.”

Lafayette motioned for a waiter to come over.

“We woulds be havin’ mint julips, all the way around,” Lafayette smiled.

“Aw, if mint is the choice of weed, I would prefer a mojito,” Harvey said.

“One in every crowd,” Lafayette and Jake said together.

Lafayette raised his hand in the air for a high-five and Jake did not disappoint. When their hands made contact, their gazes locked for a second before they both moved on. “Our perfect selves, his La La fineness says,  will be somewhere in amongst the fierceness of these warrin’ this and that’s,” he told the waiter.

“I will find you there, sirs,” Samuel said with a bow of his head, turned on his heel and left.

The armor was interesting and some of it still bloody. The threesome strolled and commented and drank, Samuel always hovering somewhere nearby to refill their glasses.

“Nature calls,” Harvey said with a smile. “I have the feeling HRM would be rather upset if I pissed in this WWI helmet.”

“I believe we all would,” Jake raised an eyebrow at him.

“And rightly so,” he smiled at Jake and tweaked his nose.

As he disappeared from sight, Lafayette turned and faced Jake and said, “How long you been seein’ spooks?”

“Since forever,” he replied. “Or at least as long as I can remember. I have some interesting conversations with my great-grandfather.”

“Yes, family,” Lafayette shook his head. “They do nots have the decency to stay silent in their graves. Nor when they is standin’ in your house. Always wantin’ somethin’. Either the latest gossip or a selfie.”

“And you?” Jake asked.

“Abouts the same. My momma did most of the seein’ and then she lost her will to live so she just let them rule her. I thinks I was about ten when Auntie Jo came rattlin’ around. I do not knows her picked out her forever and a day clothes, but that woman cannot wear peach. And that matchin’ lipstick and nails…lordy…no wonder she does not rest easy.”

“I would laugh except I know you are not kidding,” Jake sighed. “I have an uncle that cannot get pasted his Smiley Face t-shirt. Ragged, worn, dirty, and insisted that he be buried in it. I think it is probably what he died in while shooting up.”

“That is some serious fucked up shit,” Lafayette sighed.

“Yes, serious,” he nodded. “Let us stick to that venue. Since you work with Miss Stackhouse, do you know the plan for this evening?” he asked.

“You means about yous date wanting to kidnap yous. I am in the loop. I thinks he sees his chance gettin’ slim to nothin’. So he will have to take a more direct approach. Yous and me,” Lafayette winked at him, “we are now team Go Fuck Yourself.  You are not to worry, we has got this.”

Jake looked over at the waiter.  “I have been noticing a lack of bourbon in my drink for a while, now.”

Samuel looked in their direction and wiggled his eyebrows.

“Mm-h-h-h,” Lafayette saluted him,  “Brother Samuel, he really is all that.”

Sleeping With One Eye Open,” Jake managed a smile. “So, you really are all that.”

“And then some,” Lafayette nodded.

“What if I wanted to hire you?” Jake asked.

“I don’ts date clients,” Lafayette responded.

“So, how about if I just wanted to date you?”

“His La La Fineness says to just step up to the plate and pitch.”

Slowly, Jake raised his hand and traced the outline of Lafayette’s ear and followed on down his chin, past his Adam’s apple, his tie, and gently ran his finger against his collar bones through his shirt.

“Does that get me to first base?” Jake smiled at him.

“You do has your oh so charm’n ways,” Lafayette’s voice was low. “But I has got to ask, does this not bother you?”

“What would bother me?” Jake looked surprised.

“That I ams black and you are white. Or that you have millions and I has pennies? Yous is a famous lawyer and I am a wanna be that never was.”

“Oh and pbbllltttt!” Jake blew a raspberry at him. “I may be those things that you mentioned, but I like to think I am not a snob. I was afraid that you would say that you are so tall and handsome and I am so short and so average. And that you are not interest in short and average. That your very fine self does not need anyone to validate you.”

“Mmmm-hmmm, Mr. Charmin’ and then some. I cans hear the truth in your words. Yous La La has never dated himself a Boy Scout before.”

“Well get ready,” Jake batted his eyelashes at him. “I was an Eagle Scout. I can start a fire striking a steel against flint.”

“Oh lordy’s,” Lafayette fanned himself. “Gots the visual. Thinks  I am startin’ to smolder a bits.”

“You just need the right kindling,” Jake smiled at him.

“Knows you are in love with Harvey,” he said gently.

“Well, yes. I will cry about that. But not now.”

“Been deceived before?” Lafayette asked.

“Once. My dad told me he was a no good. I got pissed off and told him to keep his nose out of my business.

He was right, of course. But for the longest time I could not get past his lovely smile and big green eyes. So what does that say about me?”

“That yous is human,” Lafayette responded.

“You are very kind.  I tell myself that I am shallow,” he sighed heavily.

“What happened?” Lafayette asked.

“I have an alarm on my safe. I watched him in real time going through my safe, to which I had not given him the combination. Called the police, the rest is break up history. I have been very careful since then and my father, whom I apologized to, well, he no longer offers me dating advice. He says he values our relationship. He will never put that in jeopardy, again.”

“Well, I has gots no safe, one or two spooks who stops by and not much else but what I has it surely reflects the soul of his La La Fineness. We can stay at my place.”

“Does it have air conditioning?” Jake asked.

“Is that a deal breaker,” Lafayette raised an eyebrow at him.

“No, I would just have to buy you one. I really do not like the heat and humidity.”

“And yous live in Houston?”

“Yes,  I know, the irony is not lost on me. But I love my family and I love meeting them for lunch or dinner or anytime they call. Breakfast can and has lasted until past lunch. So,” he shrugged, “I live in Houston.”

“Got some refrigerated air,” he nodded.

Jake’s smile dropped from his face. “Will you hold me while I cry?”

“You know I will,” Lafayette stroked his face. “And I will cry with you. For what has been lost and what has been found.”

 Harvey had stopped to chat with  Senator Bluff out of Mississippi. He was congratulating himself on that score. With his soon to be new found wealth, he wanted into the riverboat gambling arena. Bluff sat on the committee as to how that was divided up.

Then he rounded the corner in the Armor Room and there was his date, both hands on the face of Lafayette and lightly kissing him. He stood in disbelief as he watched the two break apart and smile at each other.

“Well fuck,” he hissed under his breath. “This changes things,” as he carefully retraced his steps and then came back in down the main hall, calling for his companions and another round of drinks.

“We are being watched,” Sookie said as Eric waltzed her around the dance floor.

“Any idea who?” he smiled at her as the dance stopped and he kissed her hand and then dipped her back into his arm as a Tango started. “I think it is Judge Brown…or someone standin’ very close to him. Do you know him?”

“Not personally. I have heard some unsavory stories about Leroy, though. HRM asked me to see just exactly what he is about.  He seems to be very jovial and is not high or drunk.”

“Seriously?”

“Apparently it is noted when he smiles. I am under the impression he does not do it very often.

Let us check out the judge. Somehow, our fine fellows gathered here tonight have the need to provide some mischief.

Oh look, is that Harvey chatting up the judge? Both looking a little pensive. Both seem no longer so jovial and seems to have misplaced their smile. Oh, there goes Harvey.

Let us go spread a little good cheer and make the world a better place for him.

They continued their cheek-to-cheek and stopped just short of Judge Brown who was standing on the sidelines.

“Look, I told you,” Sookie broke the bodily contact and addressed Eric in a loud voice. “I am not sleeping with you tonight. Or any other night. I am here to work the job. That was to be your task as well,” she snarked at him. “Now, if you really want to be helpful to me, how about a glass of punch. I will know if there is alcohol in it.”

“Yes ma’am,” Eric glowered at her. “Ungrateful slut,” he murmured as he walked past Leroy.

“Men,” Sookie hissed under her breath.

“Well, not all men,” Leroy stepped in next to her.

“The benefit of dating an older man is that he knows how to treat a lady. Open her door, find out what she likes to eat and drink so that it is always on hand.”

Sookie smiled at him. “Well, you cannot be that much older…and I really am here working. But that is some line.”

“Working on my heart,” Leroy smiled at her and picked up her hand and kissed it.

“Careful,” she withdrew it, “or I’ll be hissing insults at you.”

“My late wife,” he began, “was a Southern Belle. In every since of the word. When we were first married, I was still in law school and she was teaching first grade. We didn’t have a lot of fine things, like crystal or silver. But what we did own sparkled and shined and you were on time for meals. When I was clerking for Judge Merchant, more than once I had to excuse myself, hightail it home for dinner and then, kissing my bride, I was back out the door.

 I can tell by your voice that you are a Louisiana lady and just as familiar with sitting at lunch with a bank president as you are killing and dressing out your own game.”

Sookie grinned. “Well, maybe. You sir are very astute. Your wife was a very lucky lady to have you to cook for.”

“My Troy, named for her daddy, was an exceptional lady.

Might I ask you to dance?”

“I would be honored,” she replied. “My name is Sookie.”

“Mine is Leroy. My friends call me LR.”

“Well, LR,” Sookie took his arm. “You lead the way and I will follow.”

Eric watched as the two did the Fox Trot.

Judge Leroy Brown. LR to his friends. And the bad guys all knew him in his starring role in the  New Orleans Criminal Court Circuit, as The Chief Judge.

He was known as the Silver Fox in female circles. That head of silver hair was referred to as his crownthat flamed on top of his highly muscled body. He turned heads wherever he went. And it was not just the older ladies. There were plenty of young ones as well.

Ladies of distinguished and monied pedigree wanted to date him and move into his house in the Garden District. It was not the largest one there, Eric owned that one. But nor was it the smallest.

 Handsome, charming, ruthless. Everything written about him said he was sixty. Eric doubted that. He was probably decades, if not centuries, past sixty. Was he a Supe of some sort? Probably. But a type that Eric had not encountered.

“Eric,” Ian and Cedric sauntered over and stood next to them. “Odd just continues to happen here in the colonies. We both just got emergency texts that we need to return home this minute. Apparently…” Ian shrugged.

“Apparently there is Were shit, afoot, me boy’o,” Cedric spoke up. “And it is feared we might step in it. What, the King of Erie wants to know, is a’goin’ on because I am startin’ to smell Were shit.”

“Hang close,” Eric smiled at him. “The dance is about finished. Sookie should be headed back this way.”

LR and Sookie were laughing as he escorted her back to Eric. “I am returning her, sir. I see you have brought her the requested drink. Looks like a sparkling water with a twist. Very wise of you. This ray of sunshine is capable of melting your heart.

Miss Sookie,” he bowed to her. “Until another time.”

Grinning at him she replied, “It was fun, thanks!”

“You are most welcome.”

“Judge,” someone called out, “a moment please.”

“Well,” Eric turned back to her. “What did you find out?”

“He is quiet. In all aspects. His mind, his body. His feet do not make one sound as they hit the floor. I caught some echoes of his past wife. Or at least, I think that is who she was. Or maybe it was his daughter. There was sorrow. She died in childbirth.

Have you guys learned anything?” she asked.

“Things are weird, according to Ian and Cedric.”

Sookie looked over at the two. “Seriously, you know Eric. When are they not weird?”

“You make a good case, Miss Sookie, but this steps up the ladder a bit.”

“Well there goes the fire alarm,” Sookie said as people were being directed outside.

“I smell smoke,” Ian sniffed the air.

“Four different places,” Cedric was turning from side-to-side.

“Where is Jake?” Eric asked.

“With Lafayette,” Sookie said tilting her head to one side and obviously somewhere else. “I’ve got him. He says not to worry, O.I. has this.

First time I have been able to do that,” she muttered.

“You think this is Harvey’s Plan B?” Eric asked.

“If not, then the timing is pretty damn spot on,” Ian said as they walked toward an exit.

“And we all be a’known that there is no such thing as coincidence,” Cedric added sagely and they all nodded and proceeded in an orderly manner toward the nearest door, letting the humans in front of them.

“That damned blood moon,” Sookie replied under her breath. “It has been nothin’ but Were shit since that damned thing rose.”

“That damned blood moon,” Lafayette said as they were being directed out the closest door. “Been nothin’ but Were shit since that thing rose. At least it is no longer pouring. Just a smallish deluge. That has to count for somethin’. Nots a lots of folks in this area. That concerns me a bits,” he was now looking around.

“I conceal carry,” Jake admitted with a grimace. “Wish I could say I trusted people but I deal with a lot of bad folk.”

“I gots a bad feelin’ about this. Takes yous pea-shooter on out and let’s watch and walk. Brother Samuel, hows you doin’?”

“I have a very bad feeling about all of this. I would like nothing better than to link up with the rest of our family and be someplace else.

Speaking of Were shit, I do believe I hear howling off in the background. You know they could possibly work a plan if they did not announce themselves, first. Eric is to our left. There is a culvert through these bushes. Eric and I have used it before. We are going to get wet but we are going to go in stealth mode. Too many humans about to go full out fang and light speed.”

When Eric’s troop came to the exit, they were being divided into groups of three. Some to the left, others directed to the middle and others to the right.

“Spread out and keep walking,” the guards kept repeating. “Away from the building. The fire department is on its way.”

“This is so not right,” Eric said as they rounded a corner and were under a long vestibule that ran the entire length of the building. “S-A had this shipped in from some nunnery in France.”

“How is it wrong?” Sookie asked.

“All kinds of hiding places up in those rafters,” Erie replied. “The nuns were not without ways of protecting themselves.  More than one English maunder meet his death under one of these porches. There were enough hidden spaces in some of these to hide archers.”

“How right you are Eric,” Compton stepped out. “I was hoping for a bit of a bigger fish, but who else will be able to say that they brought Eric Northman the true-death? Those are some bragging rights.”

The archers stepped out. Eric heard the whistling through the air but it was too late.

“How dare you!” Sookie yelled at Bill and took a step forward shaking her fist.

All Eric could do was push her down as the arrow found its way through his heart and Ian and Cedric were struck by silver tipped arrows.

“I want the girl, leave the others,” Judge Leroy Brown smiled as he stepped out of the shadows. “Let us be gone.”

The guards shifted to Were.

Sookie was kicking and screaming! Trying to get away.  She made contact with her nails!

Brown raised his hand and slapped her, sending her to the ground.

It was past time to be gone. Picking her up, with Sookie in his arms, he mounted the back of a Were and they were gone.

“What the fuck!” Samuel roared as he grabbed Lafayette and Jake and was vamp speed through the drainage system.

Reaching the end, there was a silver fence bolted over the end.

“What the fuck!” he hissed. “No time to backtrack!”

“My little mans, La La’s voice is shakin’ with fears! Yous is on.”

Jake could only stand in wonder as the dragon bracelet around Lafayette’s wrist became a dragon that was now fluttering and belching flame as the silver melted.

“Ian and Cedric are down.  I can smell their flesh burning. Eric,”  Tears rolled down Samuel’s face. “My beloved brother  now sees the face of God.”

They were out of the culvert and vamp speed down the porch.

Before Samuel could pull out the arrows, a shadow stepped out of a shadow and fired repeatedly at him. His body absorbing the impact as the bullets struck him.

Dropping the magazine Harvey reloaded. “Should slow your vamp ass down a bit.

And you, you should have left with me, Jake,” Harvey titched under his breath. “Perhaps you could have lived longer,” he pointed the machine pistol at them.  “I am going to kill your newest lover and then send your family bits of you until they pay. These vamps will testify that I mean business.”

“Mo’ fo’n,” O.I. hissed from above and Harvey and his pistol of many bullets went up in flame! The ashes fluttered on the breeze and then was washed away by the rain.

It had been a ride though the alley ways of New Orleans. All of Sookie’s teeth felt loose. A gate opened and there was a limo waiting deep inside the St. Lewis cemetery. When the Weres shifted, the car door opened and a young man stepped out.

“As promised,” Brown said as he handed her over.

“I thank you judge. Your money is in the trunk.”

“Check it,” the Judge said and two Weres went to the back. The trunk popped open and they called out, “Seems to all be here.”

“Thank you,” the Judge smiled.  “Miss Sookie, a pleasure,” he bowed to  her. “No lady,” he sadly shook his head, “associates with vampires. You are lucky all I did was slap you.” Getting into the limo with the nude Weres, the doors closed and they motored off.

She was still seeing stars, her head feeling like it had been split in two from where it had struck the stone floor. “Come on, come on, come on,” she kept willing herself to shift to her mean and ferocious Druid self. “Fuck!” she screeched.

“Oh come now. I do not prefer the company of women. So we will not be doing that,” he smiled at her. “There is no one about who can hear you.”

“I was  just wondering who the fuck are you? And what do you want with me.”

“Compton told me Sophie-Anne admired you. And had hired you. He said you came with some mind reading mystical powers. I want your abilities for myself. They will be needful in the days and years to come. At some point, if you please me, I just might turn you.”

“Needful? Turn me? Just who the fuck are you?”

“I am the Andre, the Vampire King of Louisiana.”

Dear Readers,

It is the writer’s job to leave their readers with hope. I have failed you in this chapter.

But I like to post on Monday’s and this is as far as I have gotten.

So here tis.

Sorry about the cliff-ee.

All shall be revealed in the next chapter. Also my reason for Eric sacrificing himself for Sookie.

As always, thanks for reading!

Be blessed and be the blessing,

CES