I plastered on my fake smile and summoned as much southern charm as I could. "Why, thank you, Mr. de Castro. Please, call me Sookie." He smiled back, showing a hint of fang. Eric noticed, and he was not happy.
"Please, everyone, I insist you be comfortable. Drinks, anyone?" We sat down on a pair of leather couches Felipe indicated. A human quickly entered from another room, holding a tray with 4 glasses of blood and one with white wine. I noticed my vamps were waiting for me to take the first drink. I knew nobody had messed with anything yet, so I sipped and nodded appreciatively at Felipe. It was very good wine.
"Now that we are all acquainted, Eric, please inform me of the troubles in Louisiana." Of course he knew all about it, or at least what Eric had told Victor. At least Felipe was still playing nice guy, not flying off the handle right away.
"One of my bartenders was poisoned with bad blood and murdered. One night when visiting my bar, Sookie found a man from The Fellowship of the Sun. He had attempted to poison another one of our patrons so a vampire would either die or fall ill and be easily staked. We apprehended him in time, and through some investigation, we found that the Fellowship had somehow procured a copy of the Vampire Database. This is obviously a much bigger scheme than we originally anticipated, or we would have contacted you sooner. As it is, I spoke to Victor as soon as it was determined that they possess this knowledge."
Felipe nodded, deep in thought. "And what of this poison?"
"One of the humans that was poisoned survives, but in a coma. My contact at the hospital where she is staying informs me that it is mostly a combination of Rohypnol and Scopolamine. The drugs cause many of the same symptoms as drunkeness, sometimes with hallucinations, blackouts, and in cases of overdose, coma or death. They were using pills that dissolve instantly. Odorless, colorless, tasteless. No way to tell that a drink had been tampered with."
"I find myself wondering how the Fellowship of the Sun managed to obtain a copy of a vampire-only database. Mr. Compton, I hope you have an answer for me."
Bill steeled himself. "Your majesty, I personally checked everyone that requested a copy of the database, and I verified that all were vampires. I believe that the information was stolen at the summit in Rhodes. I was selling the database at the time, and after the explosions my remaining inventory was never located. That is the only time that any information was unaccounted for. There are no disks anymore, as I only make them to order since the bombing."
"Miss Stackhouse. You are more... perceptive than my other guests. Please tell me your thoughts on the situation." I don't care but I had better start currying her favor if I am to make her mine...
"Your highness, I insist you call me Sookie." Gosh, that was weird to say, "As you are aware, my particular abilty does not extend to vampires. However, I know Bill, and he is not one to leave such knowledge laying around. I also know much more about the Fellowship than I care to, and they will not stop until they get whatever it is that they desire. Vampires, humans, all are fair game for them."
"You hold the belief that none of the vampires present are in any way responsible for these events?"
"If I correctly understand what you're asking me, then yes, that is my firm belief. I believe that I know these three as well as any human can know a vampire, and I find that any blaming of them is ludicrous. Yes, Bill created the database, but he was meticulous about how he sold it. Placing the blame on him for this fiasco would be like blaming the Wright brothers for a hijacked 747 crashing." Eric, Pam and Bill were positively beaming at me through their thoughts.
"You make some interesting points, Sookie." Felipe smiled at me... eew, creepy. "I require time to think upon this. Please, make yourselves comfortable in my town. Anything you require charge to room service, your stay will be fully comped. Mr. Northman, Mr. Compton, I look forward to speaking with you again." We took that as the dismissal it was and bowed to the King before returning to the elevator.
Once the doors closed, I slumped against Eric. You were wonderful, lover. When we are alone I will pick your brain for his thoughts, then you will be... rewarded for your efforts. A rush of lust ran through me.
We reconvened in Pam and Bill's room. Pam, although she didn't speak a word in the meeting, was incredibly proud of how well it went, even though she knew this was just the beginning. Bill was in awe of me, how I defended him despite everything that has passed between us. And Eric's thoughts were running so fast it was just a big blur tinged with satisfaction.
"That went much better than I expected. This is by no means the end, and we are still far from safe. The king has a certain respect for Sookie, considering her past services to him and the formal protection over her. Her stellar character references seemed to go over very well with him. I am quite sure that Felipe will wish to meet with all of us again, so if you will excuse us, my lover and I must speak." Eric took my hand and led me back to our room. I waved to Pam and Bill before closing the door behind me.
I settled myself on the bed, listening for Bill and Pam to do something else so they weren't paying attention to me and Eric talking. Hey, with vampires you can never be too sure who's listening. When I was sure that they wouldn't overhear us, I started filling Eric in on Felipe's thoughts. "He wants me by his side. Bad."
Eric growled, "I noticed. And I am quite unhappy about that. What about the database?"
"He was fully prepared to not let Bill leave that meeting. He wasn't lying when he said I brought up some interesting points; he thought the Wright brothers thing was genius."
"That was quite the simile, Sookie." He smiled, "What are his feelings towards each of us?"
"Bill, he wants to blame for the whole thing, of course. Pam, he is indifferent towards, so far. He doesn't know as much as he would like about her yet. You, he would like to keep around because you're a good sheriff, but you aren't indespensible. Me," I sighed deeply, "Felipe wants me. My blood, my body, my ability. That's why he asked me questions at the meeting, he wants to make me think he cares about me. Pfft, as if." I felt his anger rumbling through the bond. "But, hey. On the plus side, he can't glamour me, and it isn't like a have a contract to work for him, right? And we're blood bonded, that has to mean something."
"To an average vampire, yes, that would mean something. To Felipe, I'm not so sure; he is quite ruthless at times. How else could he have managed to hold on to Vegas for the past 60 years?"
"Well, is there anything that you think might discourage him? It's gonna be hard enough to deal with the Fellowship thing by itself, I don't want to have to fend off a vampire intent on... annexing me."
Eric smirked and I heard his thought loud and clear. "Oh, no, Eric. I love you, but I am NOT getting married. I am so not even anywhere close to being ready for that."
"You wanted my suggestion. There it is. He can't force you away from me if we're legally married. Vampire-human marriages are legal now, both in Nevada and Louisiana, you know?"
"Um, yea. No." Eric's face fell. "I'm not ruling it out in the future, but not now. And not to change the subject or anything, but I'm hungry. Can we go get something to eat?"
"Of course, lover. We can discuss this later on. Let me treat you to a night in Vegas."
Eric did just that. We went to another hotel for dinner (the vamp hotel didn't have a restaurant), caught a late-late show, and of course, we gambled. He gave me $500, even though I tried not to take it. Eric taught me how to play craps, and I came out even at the end of the night. Eric ended up leaving with an extra grand in his pocket. We walked down the strip, kissed in front of the Bellagio fountains, and had a great time.
By the time we made it back to the hotel I was exhausted and more than a little tipsy. I was almost too tired for sex... almost. Cuddling in the afterglow, I reached up to give Eric my usual last kiss before I passed out. "This place is great, but I don't think I could ever stay out here. Too much of everything going on at the same time, it's overwhelming."
He chuckled and kissed my hair, "They don't call it Sin City for no reason, lover."
The next night went pretty much the same as the first. Eric and Bill attended another meeting with Felipe while Pam and I went shopping.
Eric had given me a credit card and insisted that I buy something for myself. I found a peachy-gold dress that wasn't too overpriced and couldn't pass it up. Pam was in heaven. I never figured that she would love fashion since I usually thought of her as a 'soccer mom vamp', but she had to have tried on at least 10 things in each store we went through. She finally settled on a cute little charcoal cocktail dress and a stunning blue/white/patterned evening gown.
By the time we made it back to the hotel, Eric and Bill were waiting to fill us in. Apparently Felipe was holding a black-tie event the next night and we were invited (read: required) to attend. I guess it was supposed to be some sort of victory party to celebrate his political coup and had been planned for almost a month. For a little while, we discussed strategies for keeping a watch on each other through the festivities.
After we figured out a plan, Eric and I headed back to the strip so he could buy a tuxedo. He headed straight for Armani and was immediately taken away to be fitted. I walked around the store and browsed through some evening gowns. There was one in particular that caught my eye, but after looking at the price tag my eyes nearly bugged out of my head. I turned around and ran right into Eric. I bounced off of his chest and would have fallen if he didn't have those super-reflexes.
"See something you like, lover?" He released his hold on my waist.
I ignored his question because I knew if I said anything, he'd buy that dress. "Did you find a tux?"
"Yes, I did. A few minor adjustments need to be made, though. It will be delivered tomorrow shortly after dark. Are you sure you didn't find anything you wanted in here? We do have an extremely formal event to attend, and I know that nothing you brought will suffice."
I started to get mad at him for saying I had a crappy wardrobe, but as usual he was right. "Dammit, Eric. Why the heck do you have to be right all the time? I'm getting tired of that." I crossed my arms and attempted to look sullen, but it was almost impossible not to smile when I felt his happiness from my inadvertant little ego stroke.
"A millenium of life experience will do that to you, I guess." He reached around me and plucked the too-expensive dress out of the display. "Let's get this fitted."
"How do you know I like that one?"
"Oh, well..." He pretended to think for a second, "I only saw you salivating over it before you tried to knock me over."
The dress fit me like a glove without any alterations, and Eric asked that it be delivered along with his tuxedo. We decided to get something to eat and headed back out onto the strip.
We debated on where to go, finally deciding on House of Blues. Halfway there, we got caught up in a wave of Elvis. Thirty to forty Elvis impersonators all performing "Viva Las Vegas" and gyrating had taken over a large stretch of sidewalk and gathered quite a crowd. I had to stop and watch for a bit, even though Eric reminded me that I knew the real guy.
"Yea, but I've never seen him sing, and you have to admit, this is pretty out there."
"True. Come on, let's get some food in you." I tore myself away from the ever-growing spectacle and off to my dinner. We ate, listened to some blues, danced, gambled, and enjoyed each other's company for hours.
Back in the hotel, I wanted nothing more than to take a shower and pass out, but Eric insisted on joining me in the bathroom. I didn't get to sleep until he died for the day, and by then I was prepared to be dead to the world right along with him.