About Me

My photo
is an avid fan of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, so much so, that waiting for the next book was not an option! This Sookie Stackhouse Fanfiction fantasy picks up where CH's book 9 left off. Tune in weekly for the next installment of Back from the Dead. Disclaimer: J. Barrington does not own the characters of the Southern Vampire Series AKA Sookie Stackhouse Novels. All rights are reserved for Charlaine Harris.

Royal Flush – LIII- LVI

We’ve all heard tell of 'em: tall tales of wildlife behaving strangely ahead of a big hurricane, howling or barking of dogs prior to a great seismic shock, worms and snakes pouring out of the soil or creatures heading to higher planes before the big flood strikes. I was waiting to see such an omen, the hint alerting me of the impending doom, hand writing on the wall, a blaring neon sign. All I got was a deafening silence that seemed to still the rotation of the earth. Life appeared to vanish with the waking day or whatever was waking. I guess that was the sign because my inner voice was urging me to take cover. Did I heed? That would be too much like right. The unearthly light was eerily bright over the horizon and, somehow, too beautiful to behold. It made me want to weep.

A juicy hiss cracked in the silence like a four-letter word. The heavily guarded thoughts of panic had preceded his royal heinous. It was no real surprise when he finally made it to the tunnel where I stood. He had to find me before it was too late, or so his mind read. Gone are the days of vampire minds being mute to me. Formerly black holes, voids in the atmosphere. Oh how I miss the peace it brought me. I didn’t need to see that sly smile that he was trying to hide. The thought of having me in his sights, at last, had made his night . . . and ruined mine. His presence was truly icking my wow. I was hoping to be long gone by now.

Suspicious eyes surveyed the surroundings, drawing him closer to the deadly rays than any vampire should. To slip up behind me, gather my body in a tender embrace, turn my face to him, and plant the kiss of all kisses on my lips would thrill him, no end. He dared not taste the reality. He stalked forward slowly, quiet, and cunning. One false move and it would be death to smootchy.

I had a good mind to step to the side, push his crazy *ss out into the light and watch him burst into flames. It was what he deserved. Pestilence incarnate is he, declaring war on all of humanity. He needed to be stopped. The sun shone brighter at that moment, egging me on. That would leave such an ugly scorch mark on the pretty snow, I thought. We didn’t get much snow back home, so being in the middle of a blizzard was truly somethin’ to see. White flakes, floating all around, were the biggest I’d ever seen. Each individual frozen crystal, a work of art. God’s creation, gracefully falling to the earth in perfection, unmarred by the long journey from the heavens and blanketing everything it touched.

“Is that you?” I softly questioned the wind as it began to whistle like a song through the barren streets. I am found, I thought. I hoped. CJ could wield the elements and was announcing his arrival to me with snow. My spirits lifted. “He is here!” I spoke with authority, as though I could see him standing before me. Here to maim, kill or destroy all who dared hinder our reunion. I stepped forth, reached out and let the cool flaky crystals accumulate in my hands, turning around and around. I imagined that it was CJ twirling me like a ballerina and singing, “Beautiful girls all over the world.” I actually giggled and moved in time with the beat in my head. This is how he greeted Amelia. The endearment warmed my heart  whenever he did it. His gaze was always so full of love and adoration for his sister. On occasion, I was treated to such a look. The remembrance made me feel treasured, too.

The vampire watched on with, what I sensed as, envy? Fear? Longing. Lecherous eyes saw the sun and snow kissing my exposed flesh and thought it was sooo damned sexy. Jealousy spiked in the myriad of newly awakened emotions and he imagined that my ecstasy was caused by the sweet tender caress of an unseen lover. “Poof! Be gone!” I started to say. Instead, I ignored him and basked in the glow that made my skin tingle.

My flimsy attire of a wrap dress and pumps were not appropriate for the inclimate weather. Goosebumps rose up on my naked arms and everywhere else the cold air touched. I'd had these same clothes on for two whole days. That should make me feel as stale as night's corn bread but I actually felt clean and fresh as . . . a . . . dai . . . sy? Incredulity skidded across my face. I peeked inside of my dress to check my scarlet and skimpy, which were now a bright  and perdy “PIIINNK! Aarrrrggghhh! Daaaagnabbit! Futha Mucker! *@*#%& . . . expletive . . . expletive . . . expletive . . . Oooooo. ”

I lit his ass up with the intensity of a thousand burning suns, over and over until he was nothing more than charred remains, in my mind. He was soooo lucky that my fryer was on the fritz or I would show him something about violations. My body shook with anger. He was really blowing my high. I was more than ready to fly off the handle but then decided that I didn’t give a flying fig. I am soooo out of here. That was the last time he would sneak into my chamber and bathe me in my sleep and, and, and, rub my body down with scented oils and do god knows what else before taking his sweet time dressing me, undressing me and dressing me again. I’m kicking the dust of this God forsaken place off my feet and I’m not looking back.

I was tempted to inform him of his spokesperson’s untimely demise, out of spite. He didn’t seem to know or he wasn’t thinking about it. Well, not in a “The house guests from hell have struck again” sort of way, anyways. His subordinate had not reported in yet and that was very concerning. What vexed him most was that he had not seen hide or hair of my troublesome trio. He hated, hated, hated that he had someone so fragile in his retinue. That sort of distraction is a luxury that the king cannot afford, especially someone of Felipe’s stature. He had to put his foot down and tell his human to get her backside inside, right now! He would not be like Bill or the Northman and allow a human woman to lead him around by his . . . Oh! Somebody is a little angry, I thought, sarcastically. His thoughts dripped venom. Rico Suave would not lose his cool, though. He would not go in half-cocked. 

Too late for that, I thought. Too late. You done told on yourself, buddy! The king had just traveled through the Dead Zone all by his lonesome. No fortress of royal guards surrounded him. No entourage followed. That, in itself, screamed “half-cocked” and had blown his calm, cool and collected fallacy to smithereens. He was surprised by his own actions and his inability to stay in control. Since I had come to know him, Felipe was always in control and was always one step ahead. He usually rolled deep and had someone watching his front and his back, especially in public. But he needed to keep his panic and the pursuit of his run-away bride on the down low. No one could know that a mere human had King Felipe de Castro’s nose wide open, most of all, me.

The vestiges of his emotions, which love had loosed in the ancient being; desperation, fear, despair, anger, all evaporated and he cleared his mind. He had no gift to shield his thoughts but he could guard them by forcing a single phrase to the forefront. “MINE!” It was like plastering a metal plate on his frontal lobe. I shuddered at the silent communication that spoke to me on a visceral level. He had brought his A game tonight, I thought to myself, as the word took root. The declaration would govern his every action from this point on. He would not be deterred until he fully achieved his goal by honing in on the primal instincts of the unconscionable vampire: Survive, Shelter, Sustain, Seduce, Secure and Subjugate. Impulse is its attribute. I was kind of flustered for a moment. For some strange reason my mouth watered and I wiped at it with the back of my hand. Then my throat became as dry as the desert with a blistering thirst. My stomach began to flutter and my palms got all sweaty. 

“Come . . . mi amor” was a vicious blow delivered in a slow, whispered, multi-layered echo that resonated as if he was shouting. It was loaded with all the vampire glamor he could muster and reverberated in my core with a throbbing. My body, a tight rosebud, reluctantly unfurling to full bloom, was so tempted to follow his instruction to the letter. I stayed quiet for a moment and cautious. Trying to reason with his animal was like talking a crocodile out of a fresh kill. The only thing you get out of something like that is bit. He is fast and infinitely devious; a brute that can and will do irreparable damage before he even realizes what he did, a beast, with no concept of right or wrong, that can yank me to him faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

“Reach for me and draw back a nub,” I muttered as I steadied myself. What ever I ripped off would grow back over time cause he is “Vampire!” Ooooo! It was a valiant effort Pepe, but I won’t fall to pieces in its wake. I’m not gonna lie. My knees did wobble a little or maybe even a lot. His call had me in its clutches but I quickly stiffened my spine. I wasn’t the same girl who had been locked in a trunk with a starved vampire in the throes of blood lust, and scared out of her ever loving mind. Deep inside, real deep, Felipe was just as scared, scared to death of love, scared to death of losing it and scared to death of having his heart broken. Cry me a river, why don’t you? I wasn’t completely heartless. His feelings were just insignificant. He wasn’t the only one that could push his emotions to the side.

You must not know about me, I thought to myself as I felt his eyes burn into me, watching, waiting to pounce. You’d better ask somebody. Sookie Stackhouse, telepath extraordinaire, is immune to vamp glamour, buddy. He dared whip that uber vamp come hither at me. I shook my head and chuckled at my rebellion. I wished that I had Justin in my hands. Justin was a stake that my brother had fashioned for me, carved from my old baseball bat that Gran had given me when I joined the softball team back in high school. “Just-In case those vampers get outa line,” he had said. Well, I think this more than qualifies as such an occasion. I wanted to feel it sink into Felipe's cold, dead heart. Or shove it in another place where the sun doesn’t shine.

I couldn’t feel any magic in me but I had enough anger and pinned up aggression to take him; go head to head, fang to fang, mano a mano. I was through with him monkeying in my business and throwing his weight around. I shook off the remainder of my inhibitions and embraced all of the power that had been entrusted unto me. The dichotomy of good and evil stirred up a full gambit of emotions. Evil was winning.

Death, true and final, would be the only way that this would end. That’s a pity and a shame. Killing him would let the master manipulator off too easy. I would be robbed of the look of helplessness on his face when he has to watch me as I walk away with his . . . stuff, his good thang, his spoils of war, his boo-tee . . . . Hmm? Ding! Ding! Ding! Winner, winner chicken dinner! I couldn’t have planned it better. While the sun holds the beast at bay, I can and will make a clean get-away with the king’s most prized possession. I threw my head back in a silent celebratory cackle. “Vengeance, thy name is Sookie” cold and sah-weet! Let’s see you take over the world without the queen of your cold, dead heart, Pepe.

Whoohoo! This feels better than keying Bobby Joe’s suped up pick-up with the fresh custom paint job of sparkling hunter green with electric blue swirls, slashing tires and busting tail lights, combined . . . allegedly. Cause I still have no idea how that happened or how it got to the bottom of Mimosa Lake, never to be seen again. Nope, not a clue. I never even laid eyes on it. It just goes to show ya, no matter how nice a person seems, everybody has a breaking point.

The vampire watched temptation slowly slip out of reach and that made him very angry. “Mad as a mule chewing bumble bees” Gran would say. I could almost hear his fangs descending and I could feel him staring but I still refused to turn around to meet his eyes. His fury, a tangible thread that was about to snap. All I could do was smile. I’m not a gambling woman, so I won’t say I was holding all the cards but “In Vegas, this a here is what they call a Trump.” GAME OVER. In my neck of the woods, folks would say it’s the coup de gras. I took a step forward, away from my fuming foe, moving toward the sunny side of the street. It’s best to deliver a crushing blow, to a stealthy opponent, from a safe distance, when possible. I wasn’t scared or running away but I knew to get when the gettin’ was good so I got to gettin’.

I had decided that the concrete median near the street was a good a place as any to for me to perch. It surrounded lush foliage and tropical palm trees and had an illuminated replica of the Eiffel Tower behind it. All would provide a nice backdrop for a dramatic exit. I was so pumped and ret-to-go. The thrill of victory accompanied the sound of snow crunching underneath my feet . . . and then under his? I paused while my heart did a quick rap-a-tap-tap in my chest. A nervous sigh escaped me on a whimper. He was just calling my bluff. I knew that he had to stop. Right? A vampire values his existence above all. Aaaany minute now, his survival instinct was going to kick in and he would be forced to step away from the light.

I looked down at his shiny dress shoes. The sunlight didn’t affect his toes, from what I could see. “It’s your funeral,” I said with a shrug “or Bonfire.” Who cares if he walked into the sun? Some vampires were so remorseful, after many decades of killing, that they became suicidal. He would be doing the world a great service. I was only sorry that I didn’t have any marshmallows to roast on hand. I took another step. And again, he followed. I spun around and glared at him. A hint of magic smoldered in my eyes, completely immobilizing the vampire where he stood. I wasn’t trying to do it. I just desperately needed him to stay inside and he did. A steaming mass stood stock still in the alcove. All of him, a statue, except for those soulless eyes, that I was certain were glued on me. It's unnerving to be the focal point of such raw emotion. The steam was so thick that I could hardly see him. A muffled giggle bubbled up through my stunned silence. Perfectimundo! “Si, mi amor. Watch me as I walk away,” I said, smugly. Just perfect!

Thunder rolled across the sky and the magic inside of me flickered in a sizzling current and then it faded out. That was all she wrote. I was so tired and famished and emotionally drained. I had nothing left. Nothing except a highly pissed off vampire who was beginning to twitch. Full lips grimaced. His brows crinkled and then his eyes closed. There was some serious mind fuckery going on. I wanted to take off running but I didn’t. I just stood there staring like a fool as his body regained motion, little by little and then he shook off my hold. He cracked his neck by turning his head from side to side while my seized heart slowly worked its way down to my feet. Stupefied, I did the watching as my vampire walked out into the full light of day.

“Holy Sh*t and Shinola!” I muttered with a lump in my throat. I sounded wimpy and whiney but I was completely baffled. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“Following my heart,” he said, vacantly yet so full of emotion. “It’s that thing you're trampling over with each step that you take.” He spoke only in his native Peruvian dialect but nothing was lost in translation. What comes from the heart, reaches the heart and mine ached with understanding.

“Die quick” was my selfish prayer. It was the only way that I could endure it. Before I could go into to an all out panic, somebody turned out the lights, again. I turned around and around, looking up in amazement. I didn’t realize that I was holding my breath until I sighed in relief and my head hung from my neck. Tomorrow, I thought. Tomorrow would be a better time to deal with this or maybe next week. I wasn’t ready for this today. I had a feeling that the bigger bad was close at hand. No sooner than the thought left my mind the heavens exploded. I raised my hands to shield my face from the glare. A stifled grunt of pain sounded off when the sun pierced the clouds and ripped through the undead’s flesh like a knife. It was personal and punishing. Tears stung the back of my eyes and then simultaneous heat seared through my hardened heart. I cried uncle. It was more like a scream.

Who was I fooling? Seeing him die would hurt me just as much as him watching me leave. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'd let myself believe that maybe, just maybe, Niall’s gift, that promised to protect my vampire from the sun, would protect Felipe, too. I didn’t think that I would have to find out the hard way that my theory was dead wrong. The next strike sailed past me and hit the wall of building with a loud crack. Debris exploded on impact, just above and a few paces to the right of where we stood, and ricocheted off objects nearby. Thankfully and oddly, none touched us. Things seemed to slow down to a crawl, all except for my panic which was in overdrive. I felt like I was in the middle of a war zone. Balls off fire suddenly rained down from the heavens incinerating everything in its path, brazenly announcing the arrival of my Armageddon.

Amelia was right all along, I thought. The Loas are here. I instinctively ducked when I heard the thunder clap again. I didn’t see him move but one minute a stunned and wounded Felipe was before me and the next, he was behind and covering me with his own body. He was hit by a barrage of laser rays. I could feel the blasts jolting through him, one after the other. He never even cried out.

Frantically, I moved around his weakened body that was somehow still whole and he stumbled forth. Immediately the attack ceased. Silence and darkness reigned, absolute. Time to reload, I guessed. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. “Felipe! Felipe!” I motioned to pull him to his feet and drew back. The menace oozing from him was nearly palpable. This time I stumbled back. The darkened mass, that had the distinctive glow of the vampire, rose to its full height and I did the same. I expected him to crumple in a pile of dust and was shocked at seeing him recover so quickly. I didn’t squander time thinking about it. I took the opportunity to get him back to shelter while he mean mugged our surroundings. I pushed at him but he would not be moved. It was like pushing a tree. “You cannot be serious . . . Please! Go back! Please!” Thunder and lightning combined in a shout out that shook the earth. I nearly jumped out of my skin and almost went through him. He closed his arms around me and pegged the sky with a threatening stare, daring it to frighten me again. The sky obeyed and shut its angry mouth.

“No harm will come to you today, my queen. Not on my watch,” he vowed with the utmost sincerity. I wasn’t sure of what to make of that and was thoughtful for a few seconds, all the while he was trying to maneuver his body in front of me. He moved so well that I wondered if his clothing had some sort of protection built in the layers. Protect me? He was the one that needed protecting. Since I hadn’t been hit, it was safe for me to assume that I wasn’t the target. The sky was doing some strange things, glowing in and out like somebody had a dimmer remote control. Or as if someone inexperienced was at the helm. If I didn’t know better, I would think that the sun was just waiting for me to step out of the way, so it could zap him again. Taunting. I got this sinking feeling in pit of my stomach. Not sun . . . “CJ?”

“Wait! No!” I pushed and pushed. “He’s trying to lure you out! Felipe, listen to me,” but I knew that he wasn’t so I yelled; separating the words very succinctly “He is going to KILL YOU!!!!" Still, Felipe didn’t move. He just looked at me with this ridiculous smirk that clearly read “Bring It!” There was no fear in his predatory gaze that searched the landscape on high alert. He was figuring out a way to even the score.

“Este es el orgullo español,” he thought directly at me with a haughty flair. The words that seemed to roll off of his tongue, amid the madness, sounded odd and really pretty and really stupid. Spanish pride, my eye. Didn’t he know, hadn’t he heard that pride goeth before the fall. With shaking hands, I covered his pompous face, in hopes of protecting his exposed flesh. It felt like he was kissing my palms. I couldn’t think about that at the moment. He is a little taller than me and one lucky strike could take his head clean off. I was desperate enough to take my dress off and throw it over him. It would have been a done deal, had the tie on my belt cooperated. He shushed me as I struggled, stilled my shaking hands, pulled them up to his lips and reverently kissed each palm in turn.

I had no such sanity left in my reserve. Again, I fought to push the pillar back with my upper body and my feet slipped and sloshed around in the snow that should have been freezing my toes off. He stood his ground. With a long regretful sigh, I buried my head into his chest in defeat. I beat at it for a while with my fists but it was no use. The once pristine shirt was heavily starched and he smelled like dark spices and singed vampire. That too, sent me reeling and the fact that I was certain that at any moment he would be reduced to ash and blowing away on the next breeze. “You gotta stop this. It’s craziness.” My voice was full of desperation.

“Sometimes crazy is all you’ve got,” he said in a somber tone. “You make me crazy. You make me want to protect you, fight for you or drain you.” He added the latter, certain that it would slap the kibosh on all the nonsense. “You are first and foremost my queen. I will keep you safe from anything that would hurt you, including yourself. You need not be a slave to his enchantments any longer. You need not be afraid ever again.”

I just looked at him. That’s all you can do when someone says something like that to you and catches a grenade for you, so to speak. Dude had it bad. I mean, I felt the lo-ove connection from the spell but this is just craziness. I gaped, wondering if he had completely lost all of his marbles. Looking up into the face of Felipe de Castro was something that I had been avoiding like the plague. I didn’t want to be side-tracked from my mission of getting the hell out of there. My regret was instantaneous. The other-worldly perfection of Felipe was something that you didn’t want to take straight on and especially not up close. I usually took quick glances or looked from my periphery and I wouldn’t try driving or operating heavy machinery immediately thereafter. It was just much too much. I was too close.

Looking at him, head on, was a lost cause and Oh! . . . Boy! My eyes grew wide, died and went to sexy vampire heaven. Jim-o-nee crickets! It ought to be against the law for anybody to look like that. I quickly shut my eyes but the damage was already done. The image burned in my brain. Hyperventilating did not help, neither did my growling or my drooling. I wanted to HO-O-OWL! His burns had already healed, revealing flawless naturally tanned skin that was so creamy, smooth and mouth watering that you wanted to lick it to see what it tastes like. Probably like butter scotch or toffee. In another world and time, he would definitely be my flavor. Breathe Sookie. Where in the tarnations had all the oxygen gone? He too, was dressed in formal attire and had the kind of body that was made for Brioni. Dayum! Breathe Sookie. He is raw sex boiling in a steam engine and exploding through a dark tunnel. I am a deer caught in head lights, welcoming the head on collision.

It was such a girly, stupid, stupid un-sorcerer like thing to do. I told myself over and over that his vamp whammy was just glamour cranked all the way up to ten or maybe 110. It’s an illusion, a big fat lie that made me forget myself and suddenly want to do real, real bad things to him. Just breathe. Then, I wanted to punch him in the face for making me feel so vulnerable and for ruining a well thought out and memorable exit. What I couldn’t get mad at, was the look of peace and contentment on his face that made his full lips pout in the slightest of smiles. It was boyish and innocent and sweet and not like any vampire I’d ever seen. I’m ashamed to say that I melted just a smidgen. “Don’t die!” I begged and my voice crumbled. I was panting and breathing so fast and hard that the air burned my lungs. “You cannot die!”

He dipped his head and spoke directly into my ear. “Am I not king?" His voice was a satiny smooth masculine purr. "The king can do whatever he wants, yes?” His breath, warm and tickling, penetrating like he was speaking to my very soul. “He wants his queen” he chuckled lightly “and she, him.” He pressed forward this time and I offered some resistance. He liked that. It felt like a challenge. It meant that I had a lot of heart and the conquest would be that much sweeter. “You love me,” he sang with a smile in his voice. “You may lie to yourself but I can smell your . . .” he inhaled deeply “de – sire, HUMAN! You need me like your next breath.” I stayed quiet for a moment and let the words resonate. I also tried my damnedest to stop breathing.

Then, I hauled off and slapped the crap out of him and flipped him a half a peace sign and told the king to go and screw himself. Okay, maybe not but I sure wanted to. I didn’t need that stupid analogy right now. A person might think about saying such things but being up close and personal with an undead will expose the yellow belly of the best of us. I settled for the less cool, stammer riddled “W-w-w-what? What? N-n-n-no!” I was fit to be tied. “NO!” I wanted to hit him with all the fire that I had in my belly.

He could just stop it with the bedroom eyes, hell bent on seduction. Exotic ebonies enticing enough to draw me willingly into a swamp of gators. That sensual Spanish brogue, an irresistible aphrodisiac that was melting my resolve but I’d had enough. I needed him to know that I was done with being a pawn in this game of betrayal and deception. I couldn’t blame him for doing what vampires do any more than I could blame him for becoming one. Kill or be killed, that is how they survive. But I didn’t have to be a part of it.

Moving on is something I was prepared to do, even if it broke both of our spellbound hearts. “I bought into the mainstream dream becoming a reality. I believed the lie” and was more than done with all of them. I hated all of them. I talked a good game and backed it with all the fire and brimstone that I could rally. As usual, those stupid gurly eyes of mine, traitorous sonsaguns, started to cry, making my true feelings as transparent as glass. “Where the body goes, the heart with follow.” Gran used to day. That saying works in reverse, as well.

He did one of those presto-change-o moves and I went from blubbering in the cold to being wrapped in his tuxedo jacket. He was so fast and old and very powerful. He was strong, too, and healed almost instantaneously. Still, he was no match for the great fire ball in the sky that had declared war on Felipe. It was going to rip him to shreds as soon as I moved out of the way.

I lifted the jacket high above my head. I met his eyes with pleading in mine as the sun climbed and brightened. His fangs ran out just a smidgen when a gasp caught in his throat. Uh-oh! “Oh crap!” I said in disgust. I know that look. That twinkle was in his eyes. “My tears are blood.” It was more a statement than a question. That’s about how my fright night was going. I could smell it and the look of love on his face was confirmation. If having fangs were a chart topper in desirable qualities of a vampire mate, bloody tears took me straight over the edge. To him, nothing could be more beautiful. Woop-de-doo!

His response was a throaty “Yeah” followed by sizzling kisses and strokes of a languid tongue that did a fine job of cleaning the mess and provided a scrumptious appetizer. Well, that’s what he was thinking but “Felipe does not do humans.” He told himself that over and over and was seriously reconsidering his stance. He knew that if he started, he would risk breaking his new toy. Trembling hands slowly made their way to my cheeks and his nostrils flared at the scent of fresh blood. “You’re one of my kind,” he whispered in astonishment. My canines started to twitch from all the excitement and I clamped my mouth shut and threatened to yank them out if they dared inch downward. I would not risk being stim-u-la-ted by the fang thang that he performed with precision and utter devotion.

He inhaled deeply and silenced the moan of pure ecstasy that nearly escaped him. He didn’t want me to hear and know how desperate that he was to have that sweet nectar coat his throat, a promise of pure heaven. Strong hands moved underneath the jacket, first to warm my arms, then to do other things. If he was going out it was going to be with a bang, he’d decided. I didn’t say a word. I ceased to breathe and didn’t move until his feet took a precious step back. I cried out in relief. Okay, I balled, a lot. It was embarrassing.

In unison, he and his hostage went back into the shelter. There was no gun pointed at my head but it may as well have been one pointed at my heart. One step from the opening, he paused. “Please,” I mouthed on a sob and he just looked and me, first with pity and then . . .


“Bésame,” he said with his full lips parted and hovering above mine and on the ready. His tongue kept flickering over his fangs as he waited patiently, like he had all the time in the world. He figured that he had me and he did. I would do just about anything to get him back inside, anything for love but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. He wanted inside my mouth but the ultimate goal is to get inside of my head and scramble me beyond repair. I shook my head and his lips quirked up in a smile. That, too was a challenge. He accepted without hesitation and placed his lips on mine. I didn’t respond. His skills were definitely response worthy but my heart had a vice grip around it.

He realized (God bless him) that I was paralyzed with fear and finally took the critical steps back into the darkness. Though he didn’t pull me, I knew if I didn’t follow, he would stop. We walked until I felt the hollow sound of my heels clicking on concrete. His hold was not forceful, but inviting, pleading. Plagued with physical and mental exhaustion, I didn’t fight when his needs grew more urgent. I was just so relieved. He didn’t speak but let his fingers do the talking. They had much to say. His touch was gentle and comforting and I melted into him.

I held down the role of weeping jag with aplomb. “Dyxie!” I called out. I could really use my protective pixie right now but she didn’t answer. The thought of seeing the vampire meet the sun turned me into an emotional wreck and drained the fight right out of me. I hid my face in shame of what I was allowing him do to me. Fel was living up to his name. Yeah, Sookie, you are really showing him who is boss. The love spell pulled rank, demanding that I let him have his way with me and take his pleasure and deliver some, as well. I could resist glamour, but when love calls you’ve got to answer. It’s what you do when you love someone. Right? It’s only natural that we gravitate toward a life affirming encounter after such a scare. You need to know that you and yours are alive. You feel like his hands alone were made to touch you in the most intimate way. And when they do, you soar.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The score is now Felipe – three, and Sookie – nuttin. I may as well bend over and grab my ankles. I was about to be screwed royally, no lubricant. At least I got a kiss first. I apologized to CJ. I blew my big chance. I should have worked harder and taken his caution more seriously. I should have been training the trinity and finding the Chi. Of all the fancy schmancy superhuman powers that I have and all the training, the vampire still managed to get the upper hand and it was a very busy hand, indeed. He was getting down to the nitty and the gritty and my immediate future looked very bleak. My whole body just became numb and I said to myself “So this is how it’s going down, huh?”

“That’s right. Just relax and stop fighting it,” he said in a growl when he felt me go lax against his steely chest. I think that he was right. I just needed him to stop kissing me like that. His tongue, alone, needed to be immortalized in bronze or something. That powerful organ was doing some X-rated things to my mouth and gave a convincing preview of what the rest of his body was capable of doing. I was so dazed and confused. The winds picked up, blowing the snow around the streets and I sensed large objects strewn in the mix. We continued on as if we were the only beings in the world. Then the temperature dropped to a frigid gloomy cold, an appropriate send-off to Super Sookie, cause I was officially out of commission.

“That is what we are, Death.” Long Shadow’s admonishing floated into my head. He was a bartender at Fangtasia that I met when I first came to know of the undead. He told me from the beginning that all who engaged with the undead had a death wish themselves. And I flirted with it and loved it and did a whole heck of a lot more with . . . it. I set the wheels in motion years ago. It’s too late to try and alter it now. CJ had only delayed the inevitable. This wasn’t my first rodeo and I knew the risks. You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

I was drowning in the abyss of Felipe, unable swim to the surface. In my weakest hour, I thought of a framed piece of artwork that Sam had hung on the office wall that was behind his desk at Merlotte’s Bar. The image popped in my head just as clear as day. When I worked at the bar, it would hold my attention as I readied myself for work. It was an amateur sketch of a great blue heron bird standing in the marsh. The bird has the bottom half of a green little froggy hanging out of its mouth. The head of the frog had dissappeared in the bird’s throat. The bird had a look of determination in its eyes, like it was going to eat the frog, no matter what. One would think that the frog was a gonner but after closer inspection, I could see the tiny green arms of the frog reaching toward the bird’s throat and tiny green hands that had a firm grasp on the large bird’s neck. The bulging of the bird’s eyes looked more like desperation, like the frog was going to choke the living day lights out of the bird, no matter what. The caption read: Never Give Up!

Contrary to what my “OH! Face” was saying, and how right it felt, I knew it was oh, so wrong. I will not give up. My heart was racing and my body writhing. “F*ck! F*ck!” I exclaimed and sighed long and hard and placed my hands over his. “Felipe! Please!” I stifled a deep moan.

“That's right. F*ck . . . f*ck . . . Felipe . . . please,” he mocked. He continued to move and thought that his sinful tongue and persuasive hands had finally convinced me to get with the program until I pried his palm from one place and yanked his probing fingers from another. He was a determined little bugger. The same enchantment that had me bound commanded him to screech to a sobering halt when his love pumped the breaks and I was slamming them. He held up his hands to show that he would comply and banded them around my waist. Then he purred with satisfaction.

Turning in his arms, I faced the street. The sun shone brightly in approval. I raised my hand to shield my eyes. It reminded me of what I needed to do and all that was at stake. This is my life we’re talking about. I wanted and needed to get back to mine. He needed to get me back to his chamber so that we could get on with our eternal lives, he thought. He had never wanted anything more.

“You don’t really love me, Felipe,” I said in a breathless whisper. My face and lips felt swollen from his persuasion techniques. I could still feel his tongue in my mouth but I pushed that out of my mind and said “It’s yet another illusion.” Most likely enhanced by Amelia, I thought, to deliver on her promise to keep me here by hook or crook. “You only think that you love me.”

“Is that so?” he teased tenderly. “You also think that you love me, as well.” He used his head to lift the dark curls from my neck. I felt his warm breath tickling my skin and I squirmed a little. “Let’s go with that.” He scorched kisses only on my nape but I felt it in other places. I had the strangest thought at that very moment and lost it when a graze of his fangs followed and I shivered. Erogenous zones were his specialty and he had just found another one of mine. I arched instinctively and his other arm shot out to hold me in place. Brother sun was waiting and shot a vicious ray with precision to his hand. He merely grunted and slipped his hand into the lapel of my dress to protect it. How convenient. His hand quickly recovered and went right back to work.

“CJ can break the curse!” I blurted. That halted him in his tracks and his whole being stiffened. I pulled away and held my hand up for him to stay put. On to plan B; talk him down girl. Talk him down. Now that love had leashed the animal, I could talk some sense into him. I was good at that. His fangs elongated like daggers, anger, not arousal. Man, they were some big-uns, VERY. Big hands, big feet, big fangs, big . . . I bet that myth was true. I could still feel the impression of the horse’s envy on my back. “I mean spell, the love spell.” I rephrased when I saw his reaction. Maybe I wasn’t so good at it. “It’s all an illusion.”

“Can your wonderful wizard walk on water as well?” he said sullenly. I sooo needed a do over. “HE is the true Master of Illusion, mi reina.” He motioned to side step me and I blocked his path with my body. I wasn’t going through that again. “Illusion is . . .” he paced to the right “crying blood and bearing fangs while your heart still beats. HE locked you in that state, not I.” His voice was very controlled and rose only a touch but I knew he was beyond pissed. “Illusion is . . .” he paused and stepped to the left “blaring a noonday sun at three o’clock in the morning.” I looked up to the sky. I knew it was too early. “The bewitching hour is when your sorcerer is at his strongest,” he said tersely. “You are the one being lured out so that he can draw his power from you.” I blinked and blinked. I had no words for a time.

“Now just wait a doggone minute, here. I am weak because I didn’t feed not because he revoked my power.” CJ would never do that to me. My powers are irrevocable. Right? I thought. He continued on as if I hadn’t said a word.

“I say it is you who is delusional. Your human eyes revel in half truths and what you want to see,” he fired back. Lothario has left the building, leaving a sulking king in his stead. He stood front and center and stared me down.

Why was I bothering to argue with the king of lies? “You wouldn’t know the truth if it came and bopped you on the head.” He took a deep dramatic breath and then plastered a phony smile that never reached his eyes but I wasn’t going for it. “No, no, no. You, you are the liar, Felipe.” I jabbed emphasizing each word and he looked at me like I had punched him in the face. I don’t think that anyone had spoken to the king like that in millennia. I didn’t care. I know the truth and wasn’t falling for the hokey doke. “You had Amelia trick me.”

He shook his head, slowly. “I do not deal in falsehoods. Why lie when the truth is so much more fun,” he said nonchalantly with a dismissive wave. “The witch’s lies are her own,” he stated matter of factly and asked “Is that the truth?” as if my telepathy worked like a lie detector. But it didn’t matter. I already knew that he was being truthful. “I did not want to be the one to tell you that your Roomie is self serving. You should have listened to the pixie. She tried to warn you about her tri-fl-ling ass,” he chided, quoting Dyxie and chuckled. I find no humor in betrayal.

“Why don’t we just go back to my cozy chamber? After you have had a nice, hot, relaxing shower, you can get some dry clothing and” he paused, thinking about the new gown that he had delivered to his chamber for me and the black chemise. “You can prepare your Sookie Special. If you promise to be a good girl, I will let you feed me. Then you may ask whatever you want as you have your king eating out of your hands. Does that sound good to you?”

“Yeah, too good. So I’ll pass.” He had plans of eating the Sookie Special alright.

“You pass because you already know the truth and your stubborn soul dare not acknowledge it!” he said sharply and staring right through me. “You have a fondness for fables and fairy tales.” And he had to set me straight. “You want to hear that your first love really did love you.” He shook his head at the impossibility. “You want to hear that your former flame moved heaven and hell to get back to you instead of fighting to save his mummy,” he mocked. “Or that your fiancé was ready to forsake a thousand years of ambition to chase after the one that got away.” He shook his head again and slowed his speech. “You want to hear that the vampire king is a goody two shoes who is trying to make the world a better place for all humanity.” I would like to say that he was regretful about his next statement but that would be a lie.

“I assure you that I am not he,” he said coldly “I detest humans with a passion but they are pleasing to the pallet. I eat them, yes I do.” He smiled at the memory and added dryly, “and I always chase my meals with a thorough f*cking. Oh!” he exclaimed in mock horror and I scowled back. “Too graphic for you? Maybe that was a little too much for the sanctimonious Mz. Stackhouse.” TMI. I was familiar with the drill, figuratively and literally. “Let me rephrase. Vampires are cannibalistic nymphomaniacs, heavily sedated with TrueBlood and shackled with sheer will power. Had you not beguiled me on the night you arrived, I would be proving to you right now that the only thing hotter than a vampire making love is two.” He raised a brow clearly communicating “Ya feel me?” I know. I know. I wanted him to shut up already. I know that they are all sex freaks and monsters. “What you also know” he said as if he could read my thoughts “and refuse to accept is that your sorcerer is every bit a monster, as we.”

I wanted to dismiss the accusation but it was a real head scratcher. I felt like a monkey that was just handed a math equation And an abacus. I wasn’t sure where he was heading but he had my attention. Marley had said that CJ was experienced in necromancy. I would imagine that anyone who could control the dead and undead would be a monster to a vampire. Amelia had said that her gentle giant of a brother was likely to harpoon a vampire and drag him into the sun, kicking and screaming. That, too would be seen as a monster. I knew no such a thing. CJ had been nothing but kind to me. He risked all. He saved me.

“Your sorcerer has become one with the Loa, dear heart,” he said, almost apologetically when he saw my confusion and the subsequent smoke rising. “He is therefore bound by a new covenant. He is not your night in shining armor. He does not come to save you nor is he even capable of love. The mag comes for the ick.”

“You don’t understand. He is my soul mate,” I bit through clenched teeth. His words had incensed me. CJ is no monster and I hated Felipe for saying it. “I – LOVE – HIM!” There, I said it and it felt so good and so right, all power with none of the pain. “You would never understand our kind of love. No vampire ever would. It transcends space and time and spells and I know that I will love him in this life and the next. “I will never fear him.”

“You shall make for an easy target,” he scoffed. “I care not of what he does. All roads lead back to me no matter what . . . what is his name C J? Oh yes, C J, says or does. He cannot ward me out anymore.” He was talking really fast and interchanging languages but slowed down when he got to CJ as if he couldn’t remember what his name was. He knew good and damned well what his name was and cringed every time I said it. “Let him do his worst. He can kill you over and over but death will never truly claim you. He assured that when he cursed my queen’s flesh with his mark.”

A devilish smile replaced the serious expression on his face. He tried to walk around me with a polite “Excuse me, please.” I wasn’t letting him. He moved. I moved, back and forth and side to side like a dance. He was quick enough to pass me but his thoughts were giving him away. He liked to keep me guessing. “If you leave me, I die” he continued to talk “because I would rather walk into the sun, than spend the remainder of my existence pining over a human. Nor will I hand over my queen to the likes of Merlin. That is a fate worse than death. I think that a fight to the death would be a heroic way to die, do you not?” He chuckled when I grabbed a hold of him to keep him inside. “Your C J also knows that he cannot kill me because you love me.”

I opened my mouth several times but answered my own question before I spoke. Yeah, that was me flinging my body over the burning vampire to protect him, crying and begging for him to please not die. Stevie Wonder could see that only love would do that or a special kind of stupid. “I die” he said in conclusion “and your C J will spend the rest of his days trying to console the inconsolable.” All I could say was true that. I would never get over it, just like Amelia couldn’t get over losing Tray.

Now that he had fully played his hand, his movements were more self assured. He grabbed my hands and did a few Salsa moves, slowly and gracefully, to make sure that I could appreciate the swerve of his hips. The dance ended with a twirl and me right back in his arms again. Immediately, I wriggled and turned my back to him before he could capitalize on the position. He whispered in my ear as we both looked up to the sky that was still kicking up a fuss and releasing large snow flakes and glowing with lightning. “We call this a draw in Vegas.” He saw it as a clear and concise victory.

“You said that I could leave when ever I wanted. You promised.” I half expected my words to upset him. The king’s word is his bond, unquestionable and incontestable. He only sneered.

“We both made a lot of promises.” He grabbed a hand full of my hair and forced my head back to look into my eyes. “Let’s look at our arrangement, shall we?” He raised a brow and forced my head to nod as if I was agreeing. “Would you not agree that I have delivered on my end of our bargain?” He waited but I didn’t bother to answer the obvious since I was still technically on NVL property and no harm had come to me. “You promised to forget my past transgressions knowing that I am a very old vampire and I have many. But you have not done that.” I was going to respond to that but he held up his palm and closed it tight in a fist with a shhp sound. I guessed that was an abbreviation for shut up so I did. I didn’t really have a defense for that anyway. “Now you choose to renege because the minion of the Loas calls you out.”

Anger was written all over his face. “You have the heart of the king!” he spat “and he has no will of his own. He gambled with his very soul for something that was already mine and he lost. I do not fear the coward who hides behind illusions of the sun.” He used his free hand to wriggle my chin back up. His face hovered over mine’s but he didn’t kiss. He didn’t trust himself to kiss and not rip my tongue out of my head. “He dares to come to my backyard and call my queen out like a common whore,” he tsked and continued to talk directly into my mouth while his feverish hands stroked my face and neck with a strong grip. “You can just tell your little boy toy to kick rocks!” I almost laughed at the primordial lord using the modern turn of phrase. “Better yet, tell him to be a good southern gentleman, and come talk to papi.”

I nearly fell in that trap and asked “Papi? Who’s my papi?” He was ready and waiting to school me on the matter. His hands continued to caress my face and neck and I remember dreamily thinking . . . “Gee, you’re really . . . really . . . hot.” I must have said it aloud because he froze and just stared for a long while. He looked on me with worship in his eyes. It was as if those were the words he had been waiting for, longing to hear. His chest heaved with great breaths that a vampire has no need for and his body trembled. Ebony eyes brimmed with tears. I knew that Felipe would rather gouge his own eyes out than let tears fall, especially over a human. He buried his face in my neck and dragged his fangs across my flesh. This time he did moan. It was a helpless yelp and he was completely unabashed.

His hard frame melted into me. If he got any closer to me, he would be inside of me and we definitely didn’t want that. Well, one of us didn’t. I shook my head to loose the visual of that. I tried hard to read him and got nothing but a blaring “MINE! MINE! MINE!” That’s were he lost me. He started rambling about love and how long he had waited, blah, blah, blah.

The winds picked up and darkness swallowed up the sky like a blanket. Even the heavens couldn’t see what was going on. Snow descended on the earth in great clumps and mixed with hail. I looked for the frogs and locusts to join in the chaos. “The sorcerer does like to go hem,” I said to myself. Strangely enough, the elements didn’t affect me or Felipe or the lone figure that was heading in our direction.

All had taken shelter from the storm, save one. He walked down a barren Sunset Strip. He would be the one casualty, I thought, when I saw him get knocked into a brick wall of one of the buildings. “Get out of there!” I said with a wave but he continued on, putting one foot in front of the other, like a natural man. He was kind of big and tall, but was no match for the powerful winds. Poor thing. Why is he out here? Where is he going? Visibility was close to zero and I gathered all of my strength and what was left of my magic and locked my eyes on him like sonar. Suddenly, lighting appeared to strike the guy and he lit up like a Christmas tree but he didn’t go down. He seemed to be surrounded by thin ringlets of fire that moved in a steady stream from the top of its head to the snow capped ground. He became more like an apparition or a ghost or something and his body flickered in and out but he dredged on his way. Neon signs that were illuminated, flickered out or popped with a loud crack as he passed them by, raining fiery debris to the ground.

I batted Felipe’s hands away that were gripping my body way too hard. Lightning shot down from the sky into the center of the ringlets and for a few precious strides his body became fully corporal. The snow was nearly a foot high in the opening where I stood but it didn’t hinder the man’s progress. He now walked above the snow. His legs bowed just a little which added a swagger to his gait. He moved like he had blinders on, never bothering to look up. “Simply mesmerizing!” I said, distantly. Long dark hair covered its face. I got this strange feeling that was bubbling up inside of me and I clutched my pearls. My head leaned to the side as if that angle would help me pick up what the vision what putting down. My mind just opened up to him, reached for him. I couldn’t avert my eyes no matter how I tried but I wanted and needed to see him with my other sense.

“Let me see.” I willed to him in silence and reached out with my third eye. The vampire was steadily growling in my ear. The being stepped closer and closer and started to fade out. “No!” I held my hand up as if I could halt its departure. Just before he disappeared, he made a smooth, familiar motion and flung those gorgeous, dark locks back and “Have Mercy!” chills stole up my body. My voice was a strangled noise. He lifted his face and slightly to the side and flashed the money shot: golden hazels set in caramel skin, perfect Chicklet teeth in that pretty mouth.

“CJ!” I whispered. Yet the name echoed in the tunnel and bounced off of every building, loud enough to wake the dead. I smiled down to my very soul and launched my body forward. The vampire had me on lock and slammed my body back so hard that my teeth rattled. I slumped back and cried out again. “He came for me.” I was shaking Felipe and sobbing but he was like a zombie looking straight through me. I grabbed his face with both my hands and kissed him on the cheek with a hard smack. “It’s him! My HEA!” I said breathlessly. All I could do was gape at CJ in amazement. I kept thinking that if I closed my eyes, he would disappear.

Had I not been so distracted, I probably, no I definitely would have seen the blaring “DANGER WILL ROBINSON!” warning signs that I, unfortunately knew by rote. I would have heard the debilitating animalistic noises that stops prey in its tracks. I would have felt the vampire tremor with restraint. A frenzied Felipe was at my back and not in a celebratory mood. He was showering my neck with kisses acting like his mind was on auto pilot. He was not riding on a street car named desire. He was barreling down in a freight train known as blood lust.

Previous Installment                                                                     Next Installment


  1. I am so in love with this CJ character. He is unique and for this story I would love to see him end up with Sookie. I can't wait for the next chapter to see what happens. You are well written and you have a unique gift of actually seeing the characters and creating depth to those already established while also creating a place in our hearts for characters as well. I could honestly read several CJ Sookie spin offs just by themselves. Thank you so much for sharing your talent.

  2. Thank you for your kind words. This is truly a labor of love for the Sookieverse that CH built with a plethora of personalities and settings to expound upon. I have enjoyed watching the main character evolve. For me, the stories come alive and write themselves.

  3. When can we expect the next installment??