Chapter 12: Ballroom Blitz
The blasts to my chest threw me backwards, off the stage and onto the marbled floor. Silver bullets, two of them. Bill Compton had come to the rally prepared.
I heard the gun go off twice more, knocking back both the petite female vampire and the taller of the two males to the floor. With the sound of a third shot, the third vampire in the trio exploded into a messy pile of goo.
With a growl, I fumbled against the fabric of my shirt, feeling for the bullets, which were already working their way out of my skin. When the small, toxic pellets were finally free enough for me to remove them, I tossed them aside, ignoring the sting to my fingers. As I lost physical contact with the silver, whatever minor impairment of my strength they had caused vanished and I rose to my full height, prepared to finish my mission against King Bill.
Near me, I saw Pam attacking the blonde vampire from the stage, who batted my progeny away like she was nothing, but Pam went back for more, screaming with determination. As the two began to tumble across the ballroom floor, a string of pearls broke free from the older vampire’s neck, causing a couple of the remaining fleeing humans to slip and slide on the beads. As Pam struggled with the blonde, William Compton raised his gun and fired again, and Pam’s body flew backwards across the polished floor.
I was just breaking a handy flagpole in half in order to send the king to his True Death when I felt the now-familiar sensation of magic energy swirling around me. I hesitated, confused, as King Bill took advantage of my disorientation to seize his own impromptu staking weapon, a slim wooden support for one of the rally banners.
From across the room, from where Sookie stood with the two men forming a small circle, I heard Godric’s voice, coming from the dark-skinned man at a volume that only a vampire could have heard over the uproar. “Eric, as your Maker, I command you: Do not harm your king.”
It was no magician’s trick; my body’s involuntary response told me that. Godric’s blood inside me responded to his call. My hands fell limply to my side and I froze where I stood, paralyzed by the conflicting commands of my Maker and the witch. From her oversight on the balcony, I heard Antonia shriek in frustration and then began to chant some new phrase. As the other witches joined in her words, I felt a war begin inside me, and I was nothing but an observer as my maker’s blood and the witch’s necromancy battled for control of my body.
Whatever other conflicts may have been happening in the room faded as, with a groan, I dropped to my knees as the opposing magics wrestled within me. My limbs flailed, throwing me off balance so that I fell forward to my hands and knees on the floor, and I felt as if my head was going to explode with the struggle of the outside forces to control my will. I hadn’t been nauseated in a millennia, but I felt as if my insides were going to spill out of me as everything spun around. Even without looking, I knew when Sookie ran towards me, the energy of our bond once again growing stronger as she drew closer.
If it hadn’t been for the blóðfesta, I would have had no frame of reference, nothing to cling to, but as I was twisted and turned inside my own body, I reached out for my link with Sookie and held on for dear life. Not that what my blóðfrig was feeling was good; fear for me and horror were roiling inside her. But as the conflicting wills clashed inside me, I could feel Sookie’s love for me and her sudden, intense desire for me to be myself strengthening the little island of ME inside the vortex.
And yet it wasn’t quite enough; with despair I felt Antonia’s will begin to overpower both Godric’s and my own. Sookie felt it as well, and it was with a sudden, fierce rush of her need to make the fighting stop—both that inside me and the battle that was happening all around us – that I heard my Sookie scream, “Enough!” I looked up at her just in time to see a bright white ball of light burst from her hands in my direction.
When the ball of energy hit me, it was like falling into a well of white light. I was drowning in it, inhaling it, swallowing it, taking it into me through my very pores, and it filled me from the inside out.
And as Sookie’s light poured through my body, it raced through my mind, sweeping away all magics but its own, and like a torrent, everything that made me ME flooded back into me in its wake. My memories, both human and vampire; the tens of thousands of choices I had made in a millennium of existence; everything I had believed, everything I had fought for, everyone I had loved – my family, Godric, Pam, others – and Sookie.
As I stared in shock at Sookie, fully myself for the first time the initial spell was cast on me, I realized two things.
I had loved Sookie for a long time; certainly since before Russell Edgington had come into our lives by snatching Bill. I hadn’t been able to admit to myself that what I felt for her was love then, but I knew now that what had driven me to protect her from Russell, to hold vigil for her return for that tortuous year, and yes, to try anything to make her mine short of forcing her, was that I loved her.
And I also knew that her love – and the blóðfesta we shared – had changed me. I was not the same Eric Northman I had been before Antonia’s spell and the mystical bond with Sookie. I could never go back to being that vampire now because some part of Sookie was now inside me. Forever. And I wanted that. Even fully restored to myself, I wanted to be One with min blóðfrig.
Sookie was staring back at me, her face unreadable, but her emotions in tumult: Hope. Relief. Joy.
“Sookie, stand away! I will finish this.” Bill Compton was suddenly over me, his improvised stake raised overhead.
“No! What!? No, Bill, I think he’s –” Sookie stuttered in panic.
In a flash, I was on my feet and holding Bill’s arm up and away from me. “I don’t think that will be necessary, Your Majesty,” I said shortly. The King’s face slackened with surprise. “It seems the spell Antonia cast has been broken, at least the one controlling me.” I let him go and the flimsy stake fell to his side. “What about the others?” I glanced around the room, assessing. I wanted desperately to talk to Sookie, but it was clearly going to need to wait until this crisis was over.
Near us, I saw Pam lying on the ground, Nan Flanagan standing over her with a high heel on my progeny’s chest. “You’re lucky we’re in public and that I have an image to worry about, because I would be thrilled to fucking stake you if we were alone, de Beaufort,” Nan hissed, pressing Pam with her shoe threateningly.
“Miss Flanagan, she’s no longer under the spell,” I snapped out. Through the restored state of our bond, I could feel that Pam had been freed from her compulsion to wreak havoc. Well, more havoc than normal. The older vampire removed her foot from Pam’s chest, but not without giving Pam a lightning fast little kick in the ribs with the tip of her pump as she did so. Pam snarled at the Authority member but did not retaliate for the assault.
Towards the center of the ballroom, the two remaining Louisiana sheriffs, Kirsch and Duprez, were struggling to their feet, also apparently themselves again.
Around the room, a scattering of humans remained – fewer dead than I had feared, but several injured. A small girl was sobbing over the still figure of her mother, shaking the dead woman’s shoulder and begging her to “wake up.”
Above us, something was happening on the balcony where Antonia – Marnie – had been chanting with Roy and Casey. Marnie appeared to be on the floor, crumpled in a heap, Roy hovering over her, trying to encourage her to get up and keep the magic flowing, while Casey was leaning over the balcony screaming in horror at the carnage below. “You killed people! You said you weren’t going to kill people and you killed people!”
“Marnie’s blacked out, and I don’t hear anyone else in her head,” Sookie said from beside me, her physical closeness giving our bond a warm, pleasant hum. I was disappointed when she stepped away a bit further with a little rush of nervousness. “I think Antonia must have left her body.” She glanced across the room. “Although it looks as if Lafayette and Jesus are still working on getting rid of her for good,” she said with anxiety.
I looked in the direction of the two male witches for the first time since I heard Lafayette speak with my maker’s voice. What the fuck was that about, anyhow? I had had past experiences with seeing visions of Godric, but never before had someone else been involved in what I thought were my delusions. It was very disconcerting.
At the far end of the ballroom, Lafayette was having an impassioned conversation in Spanish with the air as his lover Jesus held his hand. My Spanish was rusty, but I was able to follow Lafayette’s words: “You were a healer during your life. But see the injury that has come from your hate and your vengeance! Is this the influence you wished to have in this world? Let the vampires be the ones with blood on their hands, not you.”
“He is talking to the witch’s spirit?” Bill asked in confusion.
“I think so,” Sookie said. “Lafayette just found out he’s a medium and he and Jesus invited Jesus’s Uncle Tio’s spirit in to help them fight Marnie – Antonia – whoever she is.” Sookie shook her head. “And since I know Lafayette doesn’t speak Spanish, I’m thinking that’s Uncle Tio talking. He was some kind of white witch when he was alive.”
Lafayette fell silent, but his head was turning as if he was following a conversation between two unseen people.
“The vampire speaks wisely, sister. Will you continue the war between humans and vampires or do you want to contribute to a new peace?”
I didn’t miss the word the unfamiliar relaxed and warm voice used. El vampiro. Godric?
Lafayette continued in the soft-spoken voice. “There are those even in this room who would be key to such a development between the races. Will you strike them dead before they can fulfill their fates?” There was another moment of silence before Lafayette smiled beatifically. “There is no punishment beyond the veil, sister, there is only understanding and love.” Another pause as Lafayette glanced at the third party in this invisible conversation with spirits. “See, even the vampire knows this to be true, and even he knows peace. Will you not know the same?”
“Eric, do you know what he’s saying?” Sookie asked, noticing how intently I was listening. I could feel her curiosity and an unexpected uneasiness towards me.
I told myself she was just feeling shy now that I had my memory back. That was all. Once we talked when this was all over, she’d realize that the vampire she had bonded with was still inside me – was still me – and everything would be fine.
“He’s trying to persuade Antonia that the peace she seeks cannot be found in continued war but rather in moving on to the next life,” I said quietly.
Bill raised his eyebrows. “Do you think it’s working?” I tilted my head noncommittally in reply.
Lafayette’s scarf-covered head finally nodded approvingly. “Then welcome, sister.” He threw his arms open gracefully – only to collapse on the floor like a puppet whose strings had been cut.
“Oh my god!” Sookie exclaimed. Jesus was immediately on the floor beside his boyfriend, cradling Lafayette, speaking softly to him and running his hands over him as to verify that the medium was okay. Lafayette looked a little tired, but he was already trying to sit up on his own.
“I think the witch has departed, hopefully for good,” I said glancing at Bill. “And the helpful uncle as well.”
Nan Flanagan was suddenly beside me. “Northman, if you’re recovered –” She glared at me. “We need to get this clusterfuck under control now. You take care of apprehending the witches while they’re still in disarray. Bill, you come and help me with the humans.” She stalked away, Bill shooting a frustrated look at Sookie and then striding away behind the AVL spokesperson.
“Eric?” Pam had waited until Nan Flanagan had walked away before drawing closer at vamp speed. “Is it really you?” The hopeful note in her voice didn’t begin to touch the depth of her feelings as she asked the question. Nothing mattered to her more than my answer to what she had asked.
“I am restored,” I said, lightly caressing the curve of her face. “But we can talk about it more later; first let’s take care of this.”
“Yeah, let me kill those fucking witches,” Pam hissed.
“No!” Sookie said sharply. “Bill says that the Authority ordered y’all not to kill any of ‘em, so unless you want to get into trouble with them, you Can’t. Kill. Them.”
Shit. I could feel the warning through our connection. Bill was evidently still looking for an excuse to have me executed and I could easily have provided it without thinking. I sent my blóðfrig a wave of gratitude and saw her react as she felt it, her eyes meeting mine and studying me as if trying to decide something.
Pam had started to scoff at Sookie’s warning, but I gestured at her to be quiet. She looked surprised, but obeyed.
“Kirsch! Duprez! Arrest the witches – but don’t kill them,” I directed my fellow sheriffs. “Pam, make yourself useful.”
“Oh, doing what, exactly?” Pam drawled. “I’m not a nurse or a housekeeper.” She looked pointedly from an injured young man to Blackburns’ sticky remains as if interacting with either was equally distasteful.
“Then go glamour some humans. I suspect Nan isn’t going to let any of them leave here with their memories intact.”
Pam was reluctant, but she did follow my suggestion.
Sookie went to help Lafayette and Jesus as I flew to the balcony and snatched up the unconscious Marnie myself, while the other two sheriffs seized Roy and Casey and brought them down to the main floor.
Casey collapsed to the floor, babbling in terror, as soon as Kirsch landed with her on the main level. Duprez had to keep a firmer hold on Roy, who was struggling in vain against the tall Haitian vampire. After a few moments of ineffective tussling, Duprez apparently grew impatient and knocked Roy out with an elbow to the head and a growl. Roy sank to the floor as Duprez stood guard over him.
Once I reached the main floor myself, I continued to hold the limp coven leader in my arms, not wanting to turn my back on her until we found a way to secure her against performing more magic. Across the room, I saw Sookie gave Lafayette a hug and then began to move among the wounded humans along with the two men.
Looking at what remained of the Moon Goddess coven – two members unconscious and one catatonic— it was hard to believe such pathetic creatures had held us all in thrall so completely for as long as they did. The only person among the coven besides Antonia who seemed to have a forceful character had been –
“Where’s Tara?” I asked. “And the timid blonde?” I scanned the perimeter of the room quickly, but didn’t detect Lafayette’s cousin or the other witch.
“Tara?” Sookie, who was kneeling nearby beside a young man with a bloody nose, looked up, shocked to hear her friend’s name. “How is she involved in this?”
Hearing his cousin’s name, Lafayette came over to us, Jesus following close behind. I could feel that Lafayette was still uneasy coming anywhere near me, but I made a point of nodding to him and to his lover in a respectful acknowledgement. Whatever both male witches’ role in the original spell, they had just saved all our asses from a much worse catastrophe. I considered our scales balanced.
Pam had heard my question and leaving a glamoured young woman with a black eye behind, sped back over towards me. “Who the fuck do you think led that goddamn sorceress to Eric and me?” Pam grated, glaring at Sookie. “Your BFF took my maker right off your doorstep.” I could feel that Pam was nearly as angry at Sookie as she was at Tara for that and I shot my child a warning look.
Sookie scrambled to her feet, stunned at my progeny’s words. “Tara led Marnie to my house? Was she here, too?” Sookie asked as she anxiously began to look around the room.
Interestingly, I could feel through our bond that she was looking for Tara with both her eyes and her mind. I was startled to realize that I could feel a faint echo through her that let me identify the number of minds present if not their thoughts.
Twenty-three. As I glanced around the room, I realized that the count had to include the vampires in the room. I raised an eyebrow. Well, wasn’t that an intriguing side effect of our connection? I wondered if that little trick worked only when we were in the same place?
Pam answered Sookie’s question with pursed lips. “Yeah, she and that little blonde mouse of a witch brought me to the stage area before things got rolling. The blonde ran away the moment the guts started flying. Got more than she bargained for, I guess.” Pam looked at Lafayette. “I get that I owe you for whatever you did to get rid of that fucking Spanish witch, but I still owe your bitch of a cousin some payback.” She glanced dourly at me. “Even if I don’t kill her.” I heard the unspoken “yet” in her tone.
“As your maker, I command you to not hurt her in retaliation,” I ordered sternly. I could feel both Lafayette’s and Sookie’s impending panic over Pam’s threatening tone and knew that meting out justice to Tara was going to need to be handled delicately if I didn’t want to unnecessarily upset Sookie.
Unnecessarily being a key word. I sent Sookie a wave of reassurance that I would take care of things. And although Sookie hadn’t asked, that meant trying to handle the consequences of Tara’s betrayal in person rather than automatically passing off her punishment to the Authority as was my right.
And frankly, if it had been anyone but someone that my Sookie loved like a sister, Tara Thornton would already have been dealt with according to my understanding of justice. Vampire justice, but justice nonetheless.
Pam rolled her eyes and I felt her disappointment in my response. “Can I at least go find the skank before she gets away?” my progeny grumbled. I nodded my assent and she was off at vamp speed.
“Thank you, Eric,” Sookie said quietly. Her heart was still pounding with fear for her friend. “I know she was mad about things, but I still don’t understand how she could be involved in something like – like this.” She looked at the carnage around us with dismay. “I just can’t believe that this was what she expected to happen.”
“Well, not to the humans, maybe. But, Sookie, she fully intended to have vampires die. Me included.” I could feel her disappointment in her friend and her desire for what I was saying not to be true, but while I felt for my bonded, Tara was going to face serious consequences when she was captured and Sookie needed to be prepared for the aftermath.
Not that I needed to explain in detail what that might mean just at this moment. We had more personal things to discuss first.
Just then Marnie stirred in my arms and her dark eyes opened. At seeing who held her, she began to scream, but then hastily began to stammer out a phrase in Latin. I felt the tingle of energy that accompanied her words as the magic began to gather again.
Fuck. I had been afraid of very few things in my long life, but at that moment, I was truly terrified of losing myself again. I couldn’t kill her, but I had to stop her somehow –
I made the decision and acted with vampire speed. I dropped the witch to her feet and seized her face in one hand, thrusting the fingers of the other hand into her mouth before she realized what was happening.
The blood gushed from where Marnie’s tongue had been as I threw the offending organ away, but the magic disappeared instantly, as if it had never been.
Jesus and Lafayette both recoiled in repulsion while Sookie and Roy, who had been roused from his stupor by Marnie’s screams, cried out in shock.
I felt Sookie’s horror and glanced at her. “I didn’t kill her,” I said defensively. “But I had to remove her ability to cast spells. Urgently, Sookie, before she could do more damage.”
Mín blóðfrig’s hand was over her mouth, trembling slightly, and dread swelled within her.
Was she afraid of me? I frowned, confused. She had no reason to fear me; didn’t our bond reveal that to her?
Marnie was sinking to the floor at my feet, in shock. I wiped her blood absently onto my shirt, distracted by the feelings I was experiencing from Sookie. I started to move towards her, and was stung when she flinched away, moving in closer to the two male witches, who were also cringing with trepidation.
“Personally, I think you should have killed that fucking sorceress, but good call with the tongue removal, Northman.” Nan Flanagan’s voice was brisk as she appeared at my elbow along with my King. “I’ve called the Authority and they are on their way to take the witches in for questioning.” Nan nicked her finger with a fang and thrust it roughly into Marnie’s mouth. “There, that should keep her from bleeding to death before they get here.”
“No! You have no right to take me anywhere!” Roy shouted, struggling against Duprez’s imprisoning hands. “I’m going to call the ACLU! I’m going to tell everyone what you did to Marnie!”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Nan snarled before deftly snatching Roy’s own tongue from his mouth and tossing it aside in disgust. “You just had to go and make threats, didn’t you?” She followed the same procedure as she had with Marnie, giving Roy a few drops of blood to close the wound at the back of his mouth as he gawped in stunned disbelief.
“Well, that’s going to make it hard for either of them to be questioned by the Authority,” I said drily.
“What about her?” Nan pointed down at Casey, who had gone entirely silent and was staring blankly around her, shivering.
“I suggest you just glamour her,” said Jesus, who was still standing protectively close to Lafayette. “She’s got no magical power or skill on her own. Neither does Roy, actually, although it’s kind of late for me to point that out to you.” Jesus looked sickened as his eyes trailed involuntarily to the raw lumps of flesh on the floor nearby. “I know that I’m in no position to comment on vampire justice in this situation, but I suggest you glamour all of the coven members that can be glamoured, along with the human witnesses. It’s easier and much cleaner than killing all of them. Without Antonia, I swear to you that they are no threat.” He was clearly desperate to avoid the fates of his two coven mates, but he was making a good point.
“And you? Are you a threat?” Bill Compton asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Magically? No, no!” Jesus said emphatically. “No one in our coven had any real power to speak of until Marnie invoked Antonia. And what Lafayette did—” He reached out and put his hand on his lover’s shoulder. “—he’s only a medium and a novice one at that. We just knew of a spirit to channel who might be able to fight a witch like Antonia. That’s all. We are not necromancers and we do not wish to control the dead.”
“Fuck, no,” Lafayette muttered. “And if I ever have another motherfucking spirit inside me, ever, it will be too soon. I’m not particularly happy with just getting their goddamn messages, you feel me?”
Nan regarded the two men calculatingly and I could see her weighing her options.
“You’re not going to take Lafayette and Jesus in for questioning, are you?” Sookie asked Nan anxiously. “They saved you all with what they did,” she said emphatically. “You owe them better than to turn them over to the Authority.”
“I agree,” I said firmly. “They clearly were not involved in the necromancy of the other witches and in fact, fought against it once it was discovered.”
Nan looked mistrustful, but she pinched her lips together and shrugged. “Fine. Less paperwork to fill out. So, we take only the main witch in, and the rest we glamour. That’s acceptable.” She regarded Lafayette and Jesus coolly. “But you are on our radar now, witches, and I wouldn’t rely on our showing mercy a second time if you fuck up.”
“You can glamour us with the others,” Lafayette volunteered. “I don’t really want to remember this goddamn clusterfuck.” Jesus nodded numbly beside him.
I could feel some of the tension leak out of the air among the humans, although I remained uneasy with what Sookie was feeling. Subdued. Dark. Grim. I tried to probe through our bond, only to find that she appeared to be somehow trying to put up a shield around her feelings. Against me.
What the fuck? I looked at her, trying to meet her eyes, but she avoided looking at me.
I wanted more than anything to pull her aside and ask her what the hell was going on, but from behind us, I could hear the sound of boots; the Authority had arrived. The heavily armed guards, accompanied by glamour squads in civilian dress and several EMTs, gravitated immediately towards Nan, who ordered (rather petulantly) for Roy and Casey to be glamoured and taken to the hospital. They were going to remember they had attended the rally as pro-tolerance supporters, only to be attacked by anti-vampire radicals who had tried to disrupt the peaceful assembly. They would have no memory of being said anti-vampire radicals.
Marnie, on the other hand, was quickly bound in what appeared to be barbed-wire handcuffs. Unless Marnie wanted the iron tips of the wire to dig more deeply into her skin than they already did, she had to remain still and cooperative. Despite her physical trauma, I could see angry fire in her eyes. She was not going to make this easy on herself. Sure enough, she tried to strain against the cuffs, which dug bloody punctures into her wrists.
At least we couldn’t hear her scream. It was more of a gurgled moan.
Sookie had fallen silent as she watched the “clean up” operations commence, but she finally spoke. “Eric, are those really necessary?” Sookie said, our bond filled with a revulsion she didn’t bother to hide. “That’s just plain ol’ torture, looks like.”
I didn’t even have to open my mouth. The witch Jesus answered, his voice grim. “They’re to bind her from performing magic, Sookie. Regular handcuffs would be pointless. The barbed wire shape is intended to symbolically ‘tangle’ up any magic she tries to do. It’s not pretty, but I can understand it.” He looked away from Marnie, who was glaring at him with contempt and disappointment as the guards manhandled her. She tried to drop to the ground limply to slow down their attempt to remove her, but these were not Bill Compton’s human troops; these were vampires and the witch’s passive resistance attempts had no impact. She was literally dragged out of our sight, Bill briefly following.
“We should probably fan out and help Pam look for Tara,” I suggested in a low voice to Sookie, Jesus and Lafayette. “I’m concerned she hasn’t returned with her yet. And you will want of us to locate her first, not Nan’s troops.” I tried to look meaningfully at Sookie, but she was still avoiding my gaze and trying to block me out.
And this time, I knew she felt my hurt for whatever the fuck was happening between us. In response, her face grew stony.
Across the room, I saw Nan consulting with her minions just as Bill rejoined us. With the EMTs and glamour squads spread throughout the ballroom, she approached us with half a dozen armed guards immediately at her side. I frowned. That didn’t bode well, since the witches had already been removed from the scene. I tensed.
Bill had apparently realized the implication of the remaining muscle. “Are we free to go now? I can see that Sheriff Northman and Miss de Beaufort are escorted home following debriefing –” he began calmly, as if certain the reinforcements had nothing to do with him.
“No,” Nan said tersely. “You’re actually going to be busy being debriefed yourself, Compton.”
Well, that could account for two or three of the guards, but there was no way Nan had only Bill in mind. I don’t know if Sookie felt my wariness and responded or whether she was independently suspicious, but our bond flared with shared anxiety. Well, at least she was willing to let me in when there was a mutual threat, I thought.
When the fuck would this fiasco be wound up enough so I could talk to her? The frustration was killing me.
“I’ll be happy to answer any questions the Authority has about the situation,” Bill answered stiffly.
“Mostly I want an explanation of why you shot Sheriff Blackburn,” Nan rasped. “And why you were armed with wooden bullets in your weapon.”
“What?” Bill looked startled. “I was not the one who shot Blackburn. And I only had silver bullets in my gun. Look, can you can see for yourself.” The king pulled the gun from his waistband and popped open the chamber, cursing as he dumped a lone silver bullet out into the cradle of his hand, where it burned his palm as it rolled across the skin. “I had no wooden bullets,” he said insistently.
“Well, then who shot Blackburn?” Nan said in confusion. “Miss Stackhouse, maybe you can fill us in? Using your … special talents? I mean the telepathy, of course, not that intriguing little light show. Although I’m very interested in that as well.” Nan’s eyes were steely. Behind her, I saw the guards shift as if preparing for movement.
I finally got it. They were going to take Sookie.
“I – I don’t know what you mean,” Sookie stuttered out. She obviously too caught off guard to realize that she had no hope of denying what everyone had seen with their own eyes.
“Oh, please, Miss Stackhouse,” Nan said impatiently. “It’s obvious to me that you are some kind of supernatural creature and I have my suspicions about what that may be. We just want to have a little … chat with you.”
“No!” Bill cried out, prompting the guards to finally grab hold of him physically. I knew better than to react and confirm Nan’s suspicions so easily. I was still hoping that we could deflect Nan’s interest somehow.
“Bill’s right,” said a voice from above us on one of the balconies. “I don’t give a shit what you do with the vampires, but you ain’t taking Sookie with you,” Tara growled, her handgun held over the railing, pointed down at our cluster of humans, vampires and witches.
And as Nan Flanagan looked up, startled, Tara pulled the trigger. The national spokesperson for the AVL and member of the Authority exploded into a messy red pile of entrails, sinew and power suit.
“Well, I guess now we know who shot Blackburn,” I observed, raising my eyebrow.
A/N: My kudos to other authors who write big, complicated battle scenes so gracefully. (I’m looking at you, chicpea, among others!) This was a truly difficult chapter for me to write, and I’m hoping that it didn’t turn out to be as big a clusterfuck as the Tolerance Rally itself.
Happy 4th of July to my fellow Americans. My one and only Viking dream actually had Eric attending the fireworks with me in my hometown last year and being very, um, attentive. It’s a very fond dream memory! 😀
And special shout out to all my regular reviewers who have kept the faith through this story. You guys are amazing and keep me going on this magnus opus! XOXOXO