There was a look of utter disbelief on Sookie’s face while she listened to Elijah wrap up his tale. Of all the things he might have told her, the tale he had spun was the last thing she would have expected to have heard. Hearing proof that Alcide was in cohorts with the Governor of Louisiana and Sarah Newlin wasn’t something she could have even dreamed possible, it seemed too ridiculous to even imagine! Alcide had never been the smartest wolf in the pack, but Sookie never thought he would have been stupid enough to jump into bed with Burrell and Sarah Newlin, quite literally in Sarah Newlin’s case.
“Well, I must say I wasn’t expecting to hear that,” Sookie said, breaking the silence that had descended upon the bar since Elijah had finished his report. “It would seem that Burrell and Newlin have been busy,” she added, her thoughts reviewing all she had learned that night. Still, she suspected they had only just scratched the surface on what the two anti-supernatural fanatics had planned. “Vamp camp, war on vampires, it’s all so disturbing…” Her brows furrowed in consternation while she cast her gaze over all her the family members present. “Then again, are any of you more disturbed at the thought of Alcide fucking Sarah Newlin than Vamp Camp? I mean, that offense is just obscene on so many levels.”
“Be grateful you weren’t there to have witnessed it with your own two eyes,” Elijah replied with a shudder, recalling what he had seen just a few hours prior. “I might never be able to get an erection again.”
“That would be a shame,” Ana remarked somewhere between a jest and melancholia, eyeing the younger vampire hungrily. “It’s such an impressive and pleasurable ride.”
Sookie rolled her eyes once she heard her child beginning to flirt with the handsome vampire. Sometimes Ana really lacked a good sense of timing. It was so not the time for Ana to attempt to get into Elijah’s pants! Although knowing the two of them, Sookie doubted nothing short of all-out war would stop them. She would put money on them fucking before they would even leave the bar that night.
While she tuned out their flirtatious banter, Sookie returned her attention to the problem at hand, namely one very stupid wolf. The Ancient blonde had to marvel at the stupidity that was Alcide. It was as though all sense had abandoned him, and left him with nothing but an irrational and dangerous hatred of vampires. Alcide was playing with fire and was too idiotic to realize he would get burned.
Sookie had been more than aware that Alcide had been up to something. His behavior outside of Merlotte’s had told her that much. Nonetheless, Sookie continued struggling with understanding how he could have been so foolish as to become involved sexually with Sarah Newlin. The woman was a staunch, extremely vocal, anti-vampire supporter. The former Mrs. Newlin despised everything supernatural or non-human, and Alcide certainly fell into that category. Once again, Sookie doubted Sarah was aware of that fact. Alcide might have been a complete and utter idiot, but even he wouldn’t be as stupid as to ‘out’ himself to someone like Sarah Newlin. Well, at least Sookie hadn’t thought so… She had to admit she wasn’t one hundred percent certain any longer.
Regardless of whether or not Sarah and Governor Burrell knew about Alcide’s little secret, the Were’s days were numbered. Alcide had struck the match that lit the flames, and Sookie would make sure he would get consumed by the fire. There would be no absolution for Alcide, nor forgiveness. He needed to be dealt with and soon. While he had never been fully trusted, Alcide knew more about the vampires in Louisiana and, more importantly, Area Five, than was previously believed over Sarah or the Governor. Sookie needed to be informed of all specific details Alcide had told the dastardly duo, and then he would have to be eliminated permanently.
Taking care of getting rid of Alcide would not be a problem, especially after word spread that he had been in league with Burrell and Newlin. No pack would attempt to avenge him and no war would break out. While the local pack might bemoan vampires handling his betrayal, judgment, and sentencing, they would ultimately accept the vampires’ ruling, Her ruling, given that Alcide’s betrayal had been against Her.
No, it was the Governor and Sarah Newlin who would prove to continue as the number one problem. They were both public figures, popular in some circles, and basically untouchable as it pertained to normal vampire judgement. They wouldn’t be able to deal with them in the same way they had everyone else. Traditional vampire judgement could not be applied to Newlin and Burrell. It might turn them into martyrs and would likely spawn a war. However, Sookie learned a long time ago, under the tutelage of her mother, that you didn’t need violence to win a war, or, in this case, prevent one. Burrell and Newlin wanted to show the world that vampires were nothing but violent monsters, so Sookie wouldn’t allow any such thing to occur. Elijah’s kidnapping of Burrell’s daughter wouldn’t help dissuade the Governor’s beliefs, though he would no doubt use it to further his cause. Still, she hadn’t returned just to fight a war she had become human in order to prevent. She wasn’t sure just how, but she knew she would prevent it. What she needed was more information. She needed to know what Burrell and Newlin had planned, and thanks to Elijah, Sookie had just the right person to ask. “Is this vampire camp up and running yet?” She asked, directing the question to the young woman who stood stoically beside Elijah. Sookie needed to know what kind of time frame she would have to work with. She couldn’t plan for tomorrow if she had to act today.
Willa said nothing, the gag in her mouth prevented her from having the ability to answer. Why the vampire who had kidnapped her had to gag her, she didn’t know. Well, that was a lie. She knew all too well why he had gagged her. He had gagged her because she had screamed, shouted, and called him every horrible name she thought of when he manhandled and forced her into the vampire club.
“No,” Sookie answered her own question, having garnered the answer from Willa’s mind. A smile crinkled the blonde’s lips after she saw in the young brunette’s head how she had ranted and raved at Elijah. Sookie always appreciated spirit and Ms. Willa Burrell had it in abundance. The ancient beauty took a few minutes to assess the willowy young woman. She was pretty, and had a semi-good poker face. It was obvious to Sookie that Ms. Burrell was terrified, but doing her best to hide all the outward signs. She wouldn’t fool any of the vampires in the bar… Well, maybe Tara, Sookie thought, flicking her eyes to the bitter baby vampire who was restrained by Rasul. Sookie snorted out a laugh when she noticed that Rasul had shoved what looked like a tie in Tara’s mouth to keep her quiet. “Secure her in one of the coffins in the basement,” Sookie ordered, directing her words to the handsome vampire before returning her attention to Elijah and Willa.
Sookie ignored the sounds of Tara’s muffled objections while Rasul dragged her out of the bar. Her sole focus was on Willa Burrell. There was something about the innocent, young woman that captivated Sookie. There was more to her than what met the eye. She was human, that much was obvious. Sookie couldn’t sense anything Supe about her. Willa’s resistance to glamour was explained by the contact lenses she wore, not a natural resistance or Fae DNA.
Stepping toward Willa, Sookie circled the woman, letting her eyes fall over the brunette while attempting to determine what it was about her that had her so intrigued. Stopping directly behind her, Sookie rested her hand lightly on Willa’s waist, which immediately made the young woman tense up. Brushing the brown hair away from her neck, Sookie leaned in closer and brushed her nose over the soft skin of her neck, breathing in the scared woman’s scent. Sookie identified the scent easily, peaches and vanilla. Sookie flicked Willa’s hair lightly, letting it cover her neck again before she pulled back and took several steps away from the trembling woman and turned her attention to Elijah. “Do you feel it?”
“I do, but it’s not…” Elijah started, understanding what it was she asked before he trailed off and tried to find just the right words to explain his feelings. “I’m drawn, yet, I don’t seem to feel compelled.”
“Not like your sister,” Sookie replied when she turned her gaze to the younger of the two siblings. She smiled at the look upon Eliza’s face. It was an expression she had seen many times over the years although it had been many decades since she had last seen it. Sookie chuckled when she realized what she had been feeling and why she was so taken with Ms. Burrell. It had been so long since she had felt it that she had almost forgotten what it felt like.
The call of blood… I once traveled halfway across the world to answer that call. How could I forget what it felt like? Sookie shook her head once the answer came to her. It wasn’t that she had forgotten what it felt like, well, she had for twenty-odd years and she was mortal at the time, so that gave her a good reason. No, she hadn’t recognized it was because it wasn’t calling to her specifically, but someone of Her bloodline.
Sookie let out a sigh once the news settled upon her. If things hadn’t already been complicated enough they had just become a much more so. Vampire camp, Newlin, Alcide, the Governor, and now one of my Line is drawn to the Governor’s sweet, young daughter. Oh, how I long for The Sanguinista Movement and Russell fucking Edgington! At least I could rip them apart without fear of causing a war with humans. Eliza becoming drawn to Willa was a complication she hadn’t needed, but if the pull was so strong that even Elijah felt it, then it could not be ignored. Willa Burrell was meant to be one of them.
Moving to stand in front of Willa, Sookie lifted her hand and removed the gag from the young brunette’s mouth. “Please do not scream or shout,” she requested and held up a finger to stall any outburst Willa would make. “I have had a very bad night and I have no patience for dramatics,” Sookie waited several seconds to see if Willa would listen and once she was convinced that she would, she gave her a small smile and took a few steps back, giving her some space. “I’d tell you not to be afraid, but you’ve been kidnapped and are in a room filled with vampires. You would be a fool to not be. No one here, however, will hurt you…” Sookie paused when she heard a huff of disapproval behind her. She had no need to turn around, knowing who it had come from. One step forward, two steps back, she thought frustratingly. “Unless,” she continued while she looked over her shoulder and stared at Pam, “they wanted to suffer my wrath.” Sookie kept her eyes on Pam as she spoke, letting her know she wouldn’t tolerate any move against Willa. At that moment, Sookie no longer cared if Pam agreed with her as long as she followed her order.
Pam averted her gaze after she heard Sookie’s threat loud and clear. She might not agree with what she had said, but Pam was smart enough to know Sookie meant every word. Pam might have been spoiled and selfish, but she wasn’t suicidal. In the few months since Sookie had reclaimed her rightful place in the supernatural world, Pam had seen the damage she could cause and she hoped to never be on the receiving end of Sookie’s temper.
Willa felt her shoulders relax a fraction at Sookie’s promise. She knew she was probably foolish for believing her, but a part of her had. It was clear to Willa that the pretty blonde was the one in charge, she could tell as much by the way the other vampires reacted to her words. Willa had to admit she was surprised by that. From all she had ever heard when she had eavesdropped on her father and discovered through snooping in his office when he wasn’t there, she had been under the impression that the tall, blond vampire… Eric Northman, her mind supplied helpfully, was in charge of the vampires in Louisiana. Alcide had referred to Eric as ‘The King’ when she had overheard him speaking to her father.
“Temporary Steward,” Sookie corrected, after listening to Willa’s thoughts without shame. “Alcide’s information wasn’t one hundred percent accurate. It’s not surprising, considering he’s blinded by his own hatred… Hate, such a powerful emotion, wouldn’t you agree?” Sookie’s words came out formed as a question, but to her they were more like a statement. “It’s just as powerful as love. It might make you do things you thought you believed you weren’t capable of, terrible things, horrible things. It could destroy all the good in a life until only the bad remained…” Sookie trailed off as old and painful memories arose in her mind and overwhelmed her. She knew better than most the devastation that hate could cause. Not only had she witnessed it firsthand, she herself had also been consumed by it. Sookie’s hatred for the Fae was well known. It was a hatred that had spurred a war…
“The war with the Fae started a long time before you destroyed the Prince’s village, my darling child.”
A small smile curled Sookie’s lips as she listened to the voice of her mother in her head. Lilith’s words weren’t completely accurate, but still, Sookie appreciated them. It was Sookie who had lit the powder keg that incited the war. Nevertheless, the Fae’s actions had been the catalyst that had caused her to do so, actions having begun by the former Prince of the Fae that provided Sookie with the powder keg’s fuse.
“Alcide’s actions I could almost understand,” Sookie continued, returning to the present and herself. “His hatred for vampires is deeply ingrained. It was something that had been building for years. Your father’s reasons, however, are unknown. Tell me, Ms. Burrell, why does the Governor hate vampires? From all I’ve learned of him, he seems to be an educated man, one not easily swayed by the religious spouting of the Fellowship of the Sun nor influenced by the feminine wiles of Sarah Newlin.”
Willa stared at Sookie cautiously, unsure whether or not to tell her what she knew. A little voice inside her head told her it wouldn’t actually matter if she told her or not, the ancient blonde would find out anyway. Sookie seemed to be able to pluck the answers straight out of her head. Willa knew the vampires in the bar could kill her whenever they wanted, she was no threat to them, she was defenseless, at their mercy. Yet, apart from the indignity of having been kidnapped and gagged, they hadn’t hurt her at all. Having heard the ways her father and Sarah talked, she would have thought she might have been raped, tortured, and killed by that time. Yet, that wasn’t at all the case. She was unharmed. Willa had never believed what her father and Sarah claimed. She had never thought for one second that all vampires were monsters. She was certain that some of them could be considered such, but the same could be said for humans. There were plenty of humans who could be classified as pure evil, but that had never meant every human deserved being labeled as such, nor had it equated to them deserving being locked up as if they were animals.
“My mother ran away with a vampire,” Willa answered, having finally come to a decision. She had decided to take a chance, to be honest with Sookie. Willa had never agreed with what her father had been doing and if she could have helped to prevent it in any way, she would have. She hadn’t wanted the torture and murder of countless vampires on her conscious if she could have helped to stop it.
“Of course, there’s always a woman involved,” Sookie groused. It certainly helped explain the reason Alcide had been so buddy-buddy with Burrell. The two of them could sway stories about how those awful bloodsuckers stole their women. Debbie might have left Alcide for another Were, but it was a Were who had been under the control of a vampire. In Alcide’s eyes, it had been Russell Edgington who had stolen Debbie away.
Sookie tapped a bloodstained finger against her leg while a few ideas played around in her head, “Your father the jealous kind?”
“Yes,” Willa answered simply. Truman Burrell was jealous, possessive, and an all-round bastard at times. Willa believed that those characteristics had been just some of the many reasons her mother had looked elsewhere. The vampire with whom she had run away had shown her a world in which she could shine, not wilt. Willa hadn’t begrudged her mother in finding some happiness, but she hadn’t been at all happy about being left behind. It wasn’t only Truman that Magdalene had walked out on. She had walked out on her only daughter as well.
“We could use that,” Sookie remarked while she took several steps back and retook her place next to Eric. She grinned at her lover while she slipped her hand around his waist and leaned into his side.
Eric smirked as he wrapped his arm around Sookie’s shoulders. He pressed a kiss to her head and pulled her in closer. He hadn’t needed to ask what she had planned, he suspected he already knew. If Burrell was the jealous kind, if he had been the kind of man who would cook up a thing as hideous as vampire camp simply out of hatred for his wife having left him for a vampire, then he would be far less than pleased to learn that his new woman had been fucking his new best friend. It wouldn’t change Burrell’s feelings about vampires, nor would it stop his plans for vampire camp, but it would distract him temporarily. It would give them the time they would need to stop him.
“So what’s the plan, My Lady?” Ana asked, having known her Maker both well and long enough to know she had one forming. She was nothing but inventive. Sookie had pulled them out of countless dangerous situations over the millennia they had been together. Ana had faith in her Maker, and she knew she wouldn’t let someone so insignificant as Governor Burrell attempt to enslave any of their kind in his little vampire camp.
“For now, we’ll head back to New Orleans,” Sookie replied, casting her gaze over her vampires. “Finn and Elizabeth should be arriving tomorrow, and once they have, we will arrange to meet with the others and then get them up-to-date.”
“What about her?” Ana asked, and flicked a finger toward Willa. “What should we do with her?”
That’s the question of the hour, Sookie thought while she eyed the young woman. They couldn’t leave her behind having the knowledge she had, and they couldn’t take her with them without her adding to their troubles. So, what to do with Ms. Willa Burrell?