The sheriff verified who was waiting for authorization and gave them clearance to come up after a thorough search. He again retrieved his wakizashi and watched their arrival on the monitor as he buttoned his shirt. “Ladies, if you please…” he said, nodding his head toward the study. Addie grabbed Sookie’s arm and led her into the smaller room, out of sight from the front door.
Said door opened to Eric and Pam, the latter leashed tightly with a handful of hair held by the former. Lex stood stiffly with the sword unsheathed and a stern expression as he admitted the pair. Once the door closed, the sheriff asked, “Does the accused have anything to say in her own defense?”
Eric started to shake his head, but Pam growled, “That little bitch fairy-zapped me across the park. I attacked her, she attacked me. We’re even. If I’m punished, she should be also.”
Her maker scowled as Lex chuckled darkly. “She attacked in self-defense. You jumped a victim because you smelled fairy. They do not equal out. You admit to attacking Mrs. Brennan last night. Do you have any remorse for your actions?”
Pam’s lip curled in distaste. “Does a lion feel remorse for taking down an antelope? Do humans feel sorry for the cow before taking a big bite of steak? I have no remorse for acting instinctively. I’m higher on the food chain; it’s natural fucking selection.”
“Mrs. Brennan, do you have anything you would like to say to your attacker before she’s sentenced?” Lex called toward the study. Based on what he’d heard and seen from the older hybrid, he was ready to watch her put the infantile twat in her place.
Sookie stalked out, head held high, exuding royal fae attitude. Her daughter followed, not quite as regally, but just as proud. “I absolutely do, Sheriff. I want to see who would dare attack a princess and think she wouldn’t have to suffer severe consequences.” Her eyes landed on the blonde vampiress and sneered. “Why am I not surprised it’s you?”
Scoffing, Pam rolled her eyes at Sookie’s superior demeanor. “Oh please, you little hick. That ‘fairy princess’ shit was sarcasm. You’re nothing special… but very tasty,” she quipped, licking her lips.
Chocolate brown met hazel unwaveringly. “My father was Corbett Jason Stackhouse, son of Earl Mitchell Stackhouse, son of Prince Niall Brigant of the Sky Clan. As his closest descendant with the Fae spark, you unknowingly attempted reginicide. Why should you be shown any leniency?”
Pam audibly inhaled as Eric’s hand clenched her hair tighter. She was just beginning to comprehend the size of the steaming pile of supernatural shit she had stepped into. With her earlier vampire superiority rant, she had inadvertently dug herself a deeper hole. Sookie fearlessly stepped closer. “Would that tasty little snack have been worth it? When I pass on to the Summerlands, I’ll see Great-grandfather on my way. He wouldn’t hesitate to see each and every vampire pay for my death and he has the means to do so. Would you feel remorse then? When fairy soldiers enter this realm? Empathic fairies, telepathic fairies… teleporting fairies. Fairies able to ‘pop’ into day chambers with a mere thought, while the occupants are vulnerable and helpless. Every fairy has light, but the soldiers have been trained to use it offensively as well as defensively.
“Imagine, Pam… the body of your sister… of your acquaintances… of your maker… helpless in their daytime death. Frying, blistering, burning at the hands of pissed-off fairies wanting vengeance… all because of you.” Sookie’s grin was absolutely malevolent as she paused to give the female vampire time to pick up what she was putting down. The telepath turned, kissed her stunned daughter on the cheek, and winked at the dumbstruck sheriff before again addressing the Viking’s child, pacing back and forth as though presenting an argument to a jury. “The sheriff is being extremely generous. A month in silver would be profoundly unpleasant, but you’d recover. It’s actually a fair punishment as I recovered as well…”
“You recovered with my maker’s blood. I can smell it on you,” Pam interrupted with a snarl.
“It’s not your turn to speak yet, Ms. de Beaufort,” Sookie admonished with a raised eyebrow. “That is between Eric and me and will be discussed later among the involved parties. We’re talking about you right now. The punishment the sheriff has planned is appropriate. Not only will the pain reinforce the rule that attacking non-donors is unacceptable, but will also give you time to ruminate on the consequences of retaliation.
“Your maker is more than nine hundred years your senior. The sheriff was born a generation before Jesus. I’m certain they are both well versed in methods of torture that would make even a frigid bitch like you cringe.” She smiled seeing Lex nod solemnly in her peripheral vision. The telepath took three steps even closer to the vampiress still leashed by her hair. “But me… little stupid hick me… Well, I’ll bring an entire fucking kingdom down on you. Seek retribution against me or anyone I hold dear… and everyone you know, especially those few you care about, will pay the price for your vengeance.” She took one more step closer to the taller woman and hissed, “And that’s not counting what my cousins Neave and Lochlan will do to you as a finale.” Pam sucked in another audible breath and Sookie’s mouth curled upward. “Heard of them, have you?” Her monologue complete, the woman calmly stepped back from her attacker and seated herself in one of the cushy armchairs placed around the den. Sookie refused to give the vampire that attacked her any more of her attention, choosing instead to read a copy of her daughter’s thesis that had been left on the coffee table.
Eric twisted his wrist, turning his child to face him. “Do you understand now, Pamela? I was around for the Fairy Wars in the Dark Ages. I’ve seen how vicious a full fairy can be. As imaginative, creative and inventive as I can be when it comes to settling debts owed to me and mine, I have nothing when compared to the fae. You are mine and I have no desire for you to experience torture the likes no sentient being should ever have to endure. Accept the sheriff’s ruling and let it go.”
Pam could hardly believe what she was hearing. Eric Northman, Viking Vampire God, bowed to no one and he was telling her to be a good little girl, take her time-out, and give no thought to revenge? No! This was unacceptable and went against everything she had been taught! Softly in her ear, just loud enough for only her to hear, her maker breathed, “If I must, I will recall you and force you to heel. I know you value your freedom, but I can and will force you back under my control like a newborn if you continue to refuse to use common sense.”
Although she gritted her teeth and curled her lip, she had enough respect for her maker to hold her tongue and meekly nod. Arctic blue burned into hazel for several long moments until Eric was convinced that she was using her brain and not letting her emotions rule. He kissed her forehead softly and turned her back to face the sheriff who had been quietly watching their interaction.
“Pamela Swinford de Beaufort, your sentence for an unprovoked attack on a non-donor tourist of Washington, D.C. is as follows,” ordered Lex, taking back the reins of the gathering. “You are to spend three weeks in a silver coffin stored in the cellar of the hotel. During those three weeks, you will be totally isolated and will not be fed. During the fourth week, you will be given a pint of bagged donor blood before being moved to chains. Let it be known that this is a singular warning. If my rules are disregarded again, the punishment is final death. Depending on how I’m disrespected, it can be quick and clean or messy, taking a very long time. I have no aversion to getting my hands dirty if the mood strikes me or given the proper motivation.” Turning his back on the convicted, he headed to the intercom, already bored with this part of his evening. “Say good night to your maker, Ms. de Beaufort. Your sentence begins at midnight.”
Lex paged his strongest guards, Weres trusted to watch over vampire prisoners during the day. When they arrived, the female vampire hissed in discomfort when they shackled her in silver handcuffs and leg irons.
“Err… Sheriff? A word please?” Sookie asked stiffly before heading directly into the more private study. Lex and Addie followed her while Eric and Pam spoke quietly by the door. “Sheriff, my daughter told me of the favors Mr. Northman promised you as incentive for your assistance last night. I’m offering you my part of the bargain. You need new guards.”
Lex tilted his head skeptically and considered the shorter blonde. “I’m not one to disregard advice from a telepath, but humor me. Those particular Weres worked their way up from pups on my ships. Their loyalty has never been in doubt.”
Sookie closed her eyes and focused. “Were packs in the US have a long standing grudge against vampires. It’s much more symbiotic in Europe from what I understand. Constant fighting for the alpha position has created a predilection for vampire blood – V – addiction in larger packs. Your guards are disappointed that Pam seems so young. Their packmaster won’t be impressed with blood less than two hundred years old. He considers himself a connoisseur. These ‘loyal’ Weres have taken to bleeding your prisoners during the day and giving their packmaster the blood to raise their pack status.”
Lex couldn’t bite back the growl that erupted from his chest. It had been centuries since he’d been deceived on such a scale. Ever tactical, he pulled his phone and called for Thalia. A contemporary born, raised, and trained in Sparta, she was brutal, unemotional, and generally unpleasant to those she’d known less than two thousand years. The Were brothers looked at her then him with worry. Thalia was only called in cases when security and safety was compromised.
In their shared mother tongue, Lex explained why she was needed. With a nod of understanding, she gloved her hands and pulled the youngest vampire from the penthouse to prepare her for her sentence.
Betrayal from the Weres was an issue he would have to address personally. He truly did not mind getting his hands “messy” as he’d warned the Viking’s child; this deception could not be ignored. The fact that his plans for spending the evening with his hybrid had to now be postponed made him even more livid. With a quick kiss to Addie’s forehead, he debated calling in the favor that Northman now owed him. In the end, he decided that the traitorous Weres needed to be dealt with personally and swiftly.
Grabbing each by the back of the neck, he threw the brothers into the service elevator. Once the doors closed, he pressed the button for the lowest level of the hotel, accessible only from this single elevator. Lex remained silent until the doors opened again. With a feral growl, he threw the brothers against the cinder block wall. “I took you in when your parents died. I found you an alpha. I gave you jobs to earn money, gave you food in your stomachs, and provided a roof over your heads. This is how you repay me for years of kindness?” He stood before the crumpled forms on the cement floor, outraged at the betrayal of his trust.
The older of the two, an intimidating jet black wolf named Marcus, attempted to explain to their benefactor in stilted English. “The pack we find… it not like Italy,” he began. “The Weres here… they no like vampires. They no understand why we work with you, why we do for you. They…” he looked at his younger brother Nico for help.
They younger Were, shaggy with thick brown hair, had a better grip on the language. “They challenge us. Bully and ostracize us. The packmaster, he tell us how to fit in. We refuse to take the V like the others. Packmaster knows you our boss. Said if we want to run with pack, we bring him blood. We not know how to refuse. We not drainers. We just fill vial or two when prisoner asleep during day. They not know and we not harm them…” Nico extrapolated.
Lex looked at their large forms collapsed against the wall in disappointment, anger, and pity. “Then you leave the pack. Report their use of V to the Area Sheriff with whom you have a close relationship with. Become lone wolves until you find a pack that shares your values. I found your first alpha for guidance before you, Marcus, had your first shift. I would never leave you to flounder, especially in a new country. But this involves more than just me now. You know what I have to do and that you have caused me to break my promise to your parents. You know the penalty for drainers.”
“But Master… I tell you… we not drainers!”
The sheriff’s blue eyes were near black with fury. “You took vampires’ blood from their bodies. I was neither a gift nor a donation. It was without their knowledge or permission. You may not have held them down with silver chains, but make no mistake… your desire for prestige and favor in your pack caused you to commit an unforgiveable offence. I must uphold the laws I set for my area.” His eyes softened minutely. “Take comfort that your deaths will be quick and painless. I will offer you that sole kindness despite your transgressions.”
The brothers nodded and accepted their fate on their knees. Softly they began to pray that their betrayal of trust would not condemn them to the ninth circle of hell. With their eyes closed, they didn’t see their benefactor selecting the sharpest sword from his extensive collection of weapons.
With their eyes closed, they didn’t see him waiting until “Amen” to remove their heads.