When it came down to it, there was only ever one option that made any sense to Sookie when it pertained to Ms. Willa Burrell and that was taking her with them. It was a gamble either way, but they couldn’t in good conscious leave her behind. She knew too much. While they could have glamoured her, removing all memory of being kidnapped and taken to Fangtasia, it would have done little good. Alcide still would have been able to scent the vampires on her. That little fact would have provided Governor Burrell with only more ammunition to use against vampires, and helped to sell his Vamp Camp to those humans who were still on the fence.
Taking Willa to New Orleans would prove to be just as troubling. They were, in effect, kidnapping a young woman, but Sookie and her Bloodline were smart enough to know how to turn it to their advantage. Willa wasn’t the first human they had kidnapped, nor would she be the last. They had walked the Earth for thousands upon thousands of years, after all. There was little they hadn’t done. However, with age came wisdom, and they all knew how to play the game better than some prejudiced humans.
“Ana, make the arrangements for Tara to go to your palace in Russia,” Sookie said, putting all her ideas into action. “I want her out of the country as soon as possible. Tara is one problem I am done dealing with!” She didn’t wait to see if Ana would do as instructed, knowing she would without question. Ana could be a mischievous bitch at times, and she loved stirring the shit, but she was completely loyal to her Maker and the Bloodline. “Elijah,” she turned her attention to her favorite kidnapper. “Have Izzy arrange a flight back to New Orleans. I want to leave as soon as possible. I don’t want to be here when Burrell realizes his daughter is missing.”
“Yes, My Lady,” Elijah replied respectfully before zipping into the back where Izzy was to see to his duties.
“Pam, given that Newlin and Burrell are on a vampire-hating jag, the chances are that Fangtasia will be the first place they will look,” Sookie continued, thinking over everything she knew. “Elijah would’ve been careful, and I doubt there is any actual trail that could lead them here, but that won’t matter. It’ll be the excuse they need to move against the bar and the vampires of the Area. If we play this right, we can use it to our advantage and put them under the spotlight…” Sookie pursed her lips as she looked around the bar. She was hesitant to leave Pam behind, knowing that Burrell and Newlin would turn their attention to the bar, but at the same time, she didn’t want to draw any unwanted attention to them and Pam leaving would do that. It would be like putting up a sign admitting their involvement in Willa’s disappearance.
If they were going to turn things to their favor, they needed to adopt a “business as usual” front. Pam was more than capable of running the bar. In the months since Eric left for New Orleans, she had risen to the challenge of being independent and managed perfectly. The only problem Sookie could see was that Pam was still relatively young and had little experience dealing with the likes of Governor Burrell. She could kill him quickly in a fight, but Sookie doubted this war would be one fought on a battlefield. No, this one would be waged in boardrooms and Congress. What they needed was someone who was schooled in politics who could bullshit with the best of them.
They needed a new face of the vampire, one who was much better equipped to handle it than Nan-Fucking-Flanagan. Sookie had no idea what Roman was thinking about when he appointed her speaker of the AVL and Mainstreaming Movement. Nan had a face that could curdle milk and a personality to match. The only good thing Bill had ever done was kill that bitch! Although Sookie suspected it was more Eric’s idea than the deposed King’s. Bill was never good at coming up with plans, only riding the coattails of those better than him.
Luckily for Sookie, she knew the perfect vampires for the job. Joseph Baines and his child, Juliette D’Aramitz. The two of them were unique in the vampire world, having managed to sustain a relationship for close to four-thousand-years. They were the definition of epic love. Sookie never truly understood the relationship between her vampire nephew and his child. She hadn’t been able to comprehend how love could survive for so long and become stronger instead of weaker. Meeting Eric and falling in love with her Viking had shown her how that it was possible. Sookie and Eric may not have been together for very long, but the ancient blonde had no doubt they would go the distance. Her love for Eric would only grow as the centuries passed, of that she was sure.
“Rasul!” Sookie said suddenly, calling the younger vampire to her. An idea was forming in her head, and she wanted to put it into action before she left. Sookie smiled at the dark-skinned vampire when he appeared in front of her. Her Bloodline did have the best vampires. “You worked as a guard for Sophie-Anne, correct?”
“I did, My Lady,” Rasul replied, his tone smooth and rich, hinting at his proud heritage. “The former Queen, while childish and unpredictable, was intelligent enough to know security was something she shouldn’t overlook. Unfortunately, her intelligence did not extend far enough to know not to piss off someone who was older than every one of her guards.”
“Eric and Russell,” Sookie said with a laugh, having heard all about how Eric and Russell had dismantled the security of Sophie-Anne’s palace. “I’ll never understand why Russell didn’t kill Sophie-Anne rather than marry her. He could’ve claimed Louisiana under the right of conquest, and The Authority wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it. I don’t suppose it matters now. They’re both dead after all.” She shook away the thought; it was just another one of Russell’s secrets he had taken to Hell with him. “Anyway, your experience with Sophie-Anne could benefit us now in the upcoming war with Burrell and his whore. I honestly believe they will target Fangtasia first. It’s a focal point in Shreveport, and Alcide holds a grudge against Eric, Pam as well, I assume.”
“What would you like me to do, My Lady?” Rasul asked respectfully, ready to follow her every order. She may not have been his Maker, but she was the Head of the Bloodline, he had sworn fealty to her, and would do her bidding.
“I’d like you to relocate to Shreveport and work with Pam,” Sookie replied as she beckoned the young, blonde vampire. “Fangtasia is your bar, Pam, and I won’t tell you how to run it,” she added, wanting Pam to understand she wasn’t trying to take over her business. Sookie had no interest in the bar; she wouldn’t try and muscle in or take control. While the bar held special meaning to the Head of the Bloodline, being where she had first met Eric, it wasn’t as important to her as it was to Pam. It was Pam’s baby, regardless of how the haughty blonde tried to act otherwise. “Nevertheless, Rasul ran security detail for a Queen, and I believe with the coming threat from Burrell and his lackeys, it would be unwise not to use his expertise. He’s also old enough that it will make some of the younger vampires think twice about causing trouble. He’s not as old as Eric or Thalia, but he’s older than the majority of the vampires in Area Five…”
“It might be wise to appoint Rasul as the new Sheriff of Area Five,” Eric said, interjecting himself into the conversation. He agreed with Sookie about Rasul taking residence in Area Five. The Arabic vampire was logical in the face of conflict, he rarely acted rashly, and could be the voice of reason. Eric believed that not only would Area Five benefit from having Rasul as its’ Sheriff, but Pam would also prosper under him as well. His child had made great strides in the months since he had made her stand on her own two feet and with Rasul’s tutelage, Eric believed she would only grow more. “I am no longer able to give the position the full attention it deserves, so it’s time to relinquish the role to another.”
Sookie nodded in agreement. It was a good suggestion and one she should have thought of herself, “Will you take up the mantle of Sheriff, Rasul?”
“I will,” Rasul answered proudly. It was a good position to have, and he held an enormous amount of respect for the vampire who preceded him. Eric had done so much for Area Five, and it would be Rasul’s honor to expand on his work.
“As acting Steward of Louisiana, I hereby appoint Rasul Daou as Sheriff of Area Five,” Eric announced, making it official. He was pleased he no longer hold the responsibility of Sheriff as he had much more to deal with being the acting Steward. He would need to talk to Sookie about appointing a new monarch to the State. Eric had no desire to become King of Louisiana. It would restrict his movements, keeping him mainly within the State’s border and something told him that wouldn’t be good. Sookie might have set up home in New Orleans, but he knew, given her position in the Supernatural world, she wouldn’t remain in the city full time. She would have to do a lot of traveling and he wanted to be able to go with her wherever she went.
“Thank you, Steward,” Rasul replied, bowing before Eric in a show of respect. “I will endeavor to run Area Five with the same respect and fairness as you. Pam,” he added, turning his penetrative gaze to the blonde vampire. “If you will accept, I would like you to be my second. You’re familiar with the Area and the vampires who reside within its’ borders. It would be unwise to discount the input you could provide me.”
“I will gladly accept,” Pam agreed, her confidence boosted by the offer. She had worked as Eric’s second ever since they arrived in Shreveport in 1986, but she no longer fooled herself into believing it was because she was the most competent vampire for the job. She had been given the role because she was Eric’s child and he hadn’t trusted any other vampires in the Area at the time. Rasul asking her to be his second had nothing to do with her being Eric’s child. She had earned the position on her own merits, and that was something in which she could take great pride. “You’re welcome to nest at my home until you find your own place, Sheriff, and Fangtasia is open for you to use as a temporary base as well. Seeing how Burrell and Newlin will soon be snooping around the bar, I don’t believe using the bar for your Sheriff duties full time will be wise. Fangtasia will be under too much scrutiny.”
“I agree,” Rasul said, slipping into the role of Sheriff with ease. “As Our Lady said, Fangtasia is a focal point in Shreveport. It’s a known vampire bar, and I believe we can use that focus to our advantage. With your permission, Pam, I would like to shine a spotlight on Fangtasia, make it a symbol of our co-existence with humans. The bar could be a public statement of our desire to live in peace.”
“I have no problem with you using Fangtasia is such a way,” Pam replied with a nod. She had been thinking of something similar herself. Well, not so much using the bar as one of the faces of the new Mainstreaming Movement, but making it more upscale and exclusive. The fangbangers coming through Fangtasia’s doors did little to enhance the image of vampires. In fact, in the post-Russell Edgington world, they were more of a detriment to them. “If we’re going to promote Fangtasia in such a way, it will need revamping, pardon the pun. The vermin who currently visit the bar make it look seedy and play into the stereotype of vampires being the dark creatures of the horror genre. It does little for our image.”
A proud smile tugged at Eric’s lips while he listened to his child make a pitch to change the bar into something more upscale. He was so happy to see her taking her new role seriously. He always knew she had the potential to be a great vampire, she just needed the push to make her want to be one. Eric would have never thought the push would be him cutting her off financially and making her stand on her own. If he had known that was all it would have taken, he would have done it years ago. Pam’s willingness to change Fangtasia told Eric she was growing and considering the future, not just living in the present. The all-you-can-eat buffet that the fangbangers of Fangtasia offered appealed to Pam significantly and, in the past, she had been reluctant to change a single thing about the bar, not wanting to risk what she could lose by the unofficial ‘open veins and legs’ policy the bar provided her.
“Congratulation on your new role, Child,” Eric said, his tone mirroring the pride he was feeling. “I believe Rasul and you will prove to be a formidable force in the Area.”
“Thank you, Master,” Pam replied, beaming with pride at her Maker’s words while she bowed before him in respect. She wanted to do a good job as Rasul’s second and make Eric proud, but, more than that, she wanted to do a good job for her own sake. She wanted to prove she was more than just who her Maker was. She would love Eric until the day she met the True Death, but since he had cut her off and made her independent, Pam had realized there was more to the world than just her Maker. The world didn’t revolve around the two of them as she once believed it had. It was bigger than them. They were just a part of it, not the center.
“You are welcome, Pam. I agree the bar needs revamping,” Eric said as he cast his eyes over the place. “It fit the image we were trying to portray when we first revealed ourselves to the world, but times have changed, and we must adapt accordingly. I will leave the changes to you to make. You will spend more time at the bar than me. I will leave it in your capable hands.”
“If you need a base of operations while the bar undergoes its renovations, Compton’s old house in Bon Temps is empty, as is my old house,” Sookie said, offering Rasul and Pam the use of both properties. “You should probably have Bill’s house searched, regardless of what you decide. He was much more deceitful than we originally believed, and the last thing we need at the moment are any of his skeletons coming out of the closet.”
“Compton’s place could be a good place to base your Sheriff duties, Rasul,” Pam suggested, thinking over what she knew of the house. “After he was appointed King he had the place renovated, and I know from personal experience he has vampire cells in the place.”
“Jessica is finally dead and as soon as more of My Blood arrives; Bill will be as well. He’s outstayed his welcome. The New Authority, and by Gods, do I hate that name, will claim the property as well as anything else Bill possessed,” Sookie said, filling them in on a few of the plans she had in the works.
“Thank you, My Lady,” Rasul replied respectfully. “Compton’s house was set up for his position as King so I believe it will do me well in my Sheriff duties. I will have it searched thoroughly before I move though. I have always been leery of Compton and would not trust that there isn’t something hidden in the house.”
“You are welcome, Rasul,” Sookie said softly. “I will inform Roman and the others of the decision once I return to New Orleans. In the meantime, Pam, may I use your office? I have some business to take care of while I’m here.”
“Of course,” Pam replied without argument or a snarky comment. “It’s yours as long as you need it.”
“Thank you,” Sookie said, giving her great-great-granddaughter a smile. She took a step toward the bar before pausing, turning, and facing Pam once again. “Pam, I want you to know I hold nothing that Tara did against you. Tara’s actions were her own. You did everything in your power to help her adapt to her new life. I know you didn’t want Tara as a child, but from the night I left her in your care, you did everything you could to teach her the ways of a vampire. Tara’s actions no way reflect upon you. When the night comes when you become a Maker again, I have no doubt you will welcome it with open arms and make everyone proud. We have not always gotten along, Pam, but I can honestly say I am proud of the way you have held yourself these last few months. You are a fine addition to my family.”
Blood tears rimmed Pam’s eyes and it took all she had not to let out a hiccupping cry. She hadn’t known she wanted Sookie’s acceptance until she had gotten it. All words fled Pam as she watched Sookie disappear into the back with Eric. Sookie’s heartfelt speech had given Pam an extra boost of confidence. She felt accepted and wanted. She was no longer just a member of the Bloodline, she was now family.