Second place winner in the Unsolved Mysteries Contest. Sookie explains the unsolved murder of Josslyn Hay, The Earl of Erroll, in Kenya in 1941. Rated: M – Drama/Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 3,307 – Published: 5-30-11
A/N: If you’ve read my story, Take Me, you’ll know what happened prior to this story. If you haven’t, don’t sweat it. I’m very happy Taken has won second place in the public vote (as did Take Me in its contest). Thank you so much to those who voted! BlackDeadOrchids made me this very beautiful and haunting banner.
Thank you to my wonderful and generous beta, Thyra10. She also has an entry in this contest called Crossing the Ocean. Go read it. It’s yummy.
Charlaine Harris owns Sookie and Eric.
I had been living in Kenya for nearly two decades when I met Alice de Janze. She was notorious for the same reason I was—she’d shot a man. Her shooting had a happier ending than mine did. She later married the man she’d shot although the union didn’t last—what a surprise.
I, on the other hand, had shot the man to whom I was already married. It wasn’t exactly the same romantic and turbulent story that Alice could tell. I shot my husband after he’d shot my lover. My husband died instantly, but my lover survived his bullet. My lover was a vampire.
I was arrested the day after the incident. As soon as I realized what I’d done, I asked Eric—my vampire lover—to kill me. But he didn’t. Instead, he flew me away. Even now, when I think of it, it seems so impossible. Impossible that he could fly. Impossible that he saved me. And impossible that he loved me so.
He was the only being on the earth who knew what I was: an unhappy wife, a telepath, and a murderer. And he loved me. Really loved me for who I was. In spite of who I was.
And I loved him.
Eric took me far away that night to a small village and used his vampire magic to hypnotize a family of goat herders to hide me for the day. I was still in shock when dawn came and I found myself alone in a house with a woman and her husband and three children—none of whom had questioned the blood on our clothes or what surely must have seemed strange behavior on my part.
It took me hours to convince them to let me go. Of course, there was a language barrier, but eventually, I think they understood that I had to leave. They gave me breakfast and money for the train back to Gilgil. I had no idea where Eric was, but knew I needed to face my fate alone.
I spent twelve years in prison for the murder of Bill Compton. The papers were full of fantastical reports of testimony about orgies among the Happy Valley residents and a man who could fly. People witnessed Eric flying me away from the scene—people who became known for their drunken parties and drug-induced couplings.
It all came to light at the trial, but in the end, it was my own testimony that convicted me. I was the only witness who didn’t mention the flying lover, and so I was believed. And I went to prison.
Of course, Eric never came to my trial. He was wherever vampires go during the day every day. Naturally, I had no way to contact him. I’m not sure what I would have said at the time. I love you, but I need to pay for my crime? Stay away from me for your own safety? Forget me?
People had seen Eric fly, survive a bullet to his chest, drink my blood to recover. It would never again be safe for him to be in Kenya.
I had many years to think about what had happened. Many years to wonder where Eric was. And I thought of him every night.
I remembered a time when Bill took me to the Happy Valley wife swapping parties and my mysterious new partner preferred my chaste company to the drunken, disconnected sex that was expected. I grew to crave his private bedroom story telling and personal attention every weekend and quickly fell in love with him. When he told me what he was, I felt a connection to him as the only person who was probably lonelier than I was and when we made love, it was the happiest moment of my life.
His was the only mind I couldn’t read and I imagined fleeing to a quiet life in his home in Scotland before Bill’s jealousy brought a gun into the mix and I used it on him to make myself a widow.
I was a wealthy woman in my own right, and ironically, the death of Bill made me even wealthier. Our farm had prospered while I was in prison, and when I was released, I went back to live in the home I had shared with Bill.
I resumed my role as farmer, but without a husband. In Kenya, the rules were often bent, and yes, even women alone could run a farm. I spent years doing just that and living my solitary life. I had no desire to be with men again even though I knew that many would have had me because of my wealth.
The decadent parties had continued in my absence, and promiscuity was still the order of the day. But I no longer had any interest in any of that. Frankly, I never really had. It was always Bill’s wishes that led us into the beds of our neighbors and friends.
Thanks to my trial, the world now knew of The Happy Valley Set and looked down its nose at our immoral behavior. While the rest of the world was facing Hitler’s rise to power and sacrificing to fight his regime, The Happy Valley Set danced and drank and fornicated without a care.
This time though, they did it without me.
I still knew the other settlers, naturally. I still needed to do business with them. It was at a livestock auction in Nairobi that I met Alice de Janze.
“So, you’re the infamous Lady Sookie Compton,” she said in her American accent when we were introduced.
“Yes, I am,” I answered. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Countess.”
“Please call me Alice,” she replied.
I opened myself to her mind and saw a troubled woman who suffered terribly. I had heard the rumors that she had attempted suicide several times. She was tormented by thoughts of insecurity, of needing another dose of morphine, of desperately wishing to see “Joss.”
On the outside, she was a vision of fashionable beauty with a lion cub purring in her lap and a cocktail in her delicately gloved hand. She invited me to join her at her table in the Muthaiga Club.
I sat and kept her company that afternoon and we became fast friends. Perhaps it was because we had both shot men we’d once loved. Or maybe it was simply because we shared a grief and loneliness. We were both women who were trying to survive life in Kenya alone.
Alice had had many lovers and multiple husbands, but it was “Joss” who was always in her thoughts. I knew this man as Josslyn Hay, the Earl of Erroll, and one of Happy Valley’s most amorous lovers.
He had once been the husband of Alice’s best friend, Idina Sackville. Alice and Idina had shared Josslyn sexually and both had loved him, but when he divorced Idina, he went to another woman altogether—another Happy Valley wife who divorced her husband for Josslyn, and then married him. Alice had been devastated at the loss of Joss, but continued to sleep with him whenever she had the chance.
When Joss’s new wife died of a drug overdose, Alice had hoped for another chance to be with him, but was quickly shoved aside again for a newcomer to The Happy Valley Set, the very young and beautiful Diana Delves Broughton.
Diana had come to Kenya a mere week after marrying the much older and very wealthy Sir Jock Delves Broughton, and her affair with Josslyn began almost immediately.
I knew, of course, how upset Alice was by “listening” to her thoughts, but to the public, she seemed her usual carefree self. Diana’s husband, Jock, however, had a harder time concealing his distaste for the affair. He wasn’t among the inner circle of adulterers in Happy Valley and I “heard” from him that he truly loved his wife and was devastated at her flagrant cheating.
I still considered Alice a dear friend, and felt awful that she had to endure Joss’s very public affair. It was rumored that Joss and Diana were to be married as soon as she could get a divorce from Jock.
Alice’s drug habit had become more and more serious, and finally, one night at The Muthaiga Club, I found her incoherent in the ladies room, the silver syringe still in her arm.
I tried to wake her, but couldn’t, and left the powder room to get help. The first person I saw was Josslyn Hay and I took him by the arm and led him away from the crowded ballroom and out to the empty patio.
“Josslyn, I need your help,” I said as we emerged into the dark January night, away from the lights of the club. I told him about Alice, but he just laughed.
“Sookie, you are so naïve,” he said. “Alice knows what she’s doing.”
“I’m worried,” I replied. “She is unresponsive.”
Josslyn looked into my eyes for a long moment. I stupidly assumed he was absorbing the severity of the situation, and was completely surprised when he kissed me.
I pushed him away, but he was stronger and held me to him, his tongue roughly entering my mouth.
It had been decades, literally, since I had been a part of that lifestyle of casual encounters with men, and I was shocked at how foreign it felt. I didn’t like it, and pushed harder to get Josslyn off of me.
He pressed his body into mine and I bit into his tongue in self defense.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was a shockingly painful slap to my face. I tasted blood and my lip stung where Josslyn’s hand had struck me.
I closed my eyes and instinctively cowered and waited for another blow, but instead, I felt a rush of wind and Josslyn’s sudden absence.
I opened my eyes and I was alone in the dark and heard a grunt of pain somewhere above me. I looked up into the black sky and whispered, “Eric.”
Josslyn’s body fell to the ground with a thump about ten feet in front of me and Eric was suddenly standing before me.
His presence took my breath away. It had been nearly twenty years since I’d seen him, but his image had filled my mind every night. He was tall and beautiful and so vibrant, and so angry.
I reached out and touched his chest and said, “My god.”
He took my hand in his and asked, “Are you alright?”
I nodded silently before answering, “You haven’t changed. You’re the same.” And then I realized that of course, vampires didn’t age.
He smiled through his anger and my heart melted. I remembered that smile. The pain of his loss shot through me. I had missed him so much.
“Yes, I am the same,” he said gently. “And you are just as beautiful.”
I thought of how I must look to him—old. I suddenly felt the weight of all the years alone and said, “I’m not. But thank you.” My vanity loved the compliment.
I realized I was tired. Tired of all the years of running the farm alone, of missing how Eric had made me feel, of missing the hope of a better life—a life with Eric that I had once longed for.
I blurted out, “I’ve missed you.”
He looked surprised.
I reached out to him and he crushed me into his embrace. I let go and wept with happiness into his chest. I remembered how safe I’d felt in his arms and hadn’t had that feeling since the night I’d shot Bill and Eric took me away.
Eric started to say my name, but I kissed him, pressing my lips to his and then forcing my tongue into his mouth. All the years of pent up frustrations came crashing out of me and into Eric. We clung to each other and kissed hungrily until I broke the kiss and bit into his neck while pressing his face into my neck.
I felt his fangs pierce my skin and I tasted his blood as my teeth met, tearing the cold flesh of his throat. We both moaned in ecstasy.
As suddenly as the passion had erupted, it ended, and I was left alone, panting into the empty night with the taste of Eric’s blood on my lips.
I looked up, but Eric was gone. Then I saw Josslyn on the ground in front of me, eyes wide and staring. His mouth was open. He’d seen us.
I looked around, desperate for Eric to work his magic on Josslyn’s mind—to erase his memory of what he’d just witnessed. But there was no Eric. All I heard from Josslyn’s mind was a loud “Vampire!” and I began to panic.
I realized that my worst fear for all the years since I’d learned what Eric was was for him to be discovered. If people knew what he was, they would hunt him and kill him, and I would be to blame. And his was a death I could not survive. A guilt I couldn’t bear.
Josslyn stood and turned to run. I called out his name, but he was gone into the darkness. I hoped that Eric was far away and safe.
I wiped the blood from my mouth and returned to the club. My lip no longer stung from Josslyn’s blow. I made my way into the ladies room and found a small group of women with Alice, trying to revive her. I could feel her mind—it was asleep. She was still alive. One woman announced she was going to find a doctor, and I was relieved that Alice was no longer my problem alone.
Within minutes, a doctor arrived and began to examine Alice as she lay on the divan in the powder room. Women came and went to use the facilities, and my anxiety grew as time passed, wondering where Josslyn was and what had happened to Eric. Would Josslyn tell someone? The authorities? Would Eric be safe?
Time dragged, but eventually, Alice was revived and the doctor and Alice’s friend, Idina, helped her to her car outside. I went back into the club, satisfied that Alice was taken care of and determined to find Josslyn.
I asked everyone I knew, but no one had seen Josslyn. When I found Jock Delves Broughton, he was extremely drunk and mumbled that Josslyn had taken Diana home.
I went out to my car and drove out towards the Delves Broughtens’ home. I pulled off the road and turned my headlights off. Within minutes, another car passed me en route to Jock and Diana’s property, and I wondered if it was Jock.
I waited another painful stretch of time, and finally, a car came towards me from the direction of the Delves Broughten house. As it neared, I closed my eyes and reached out and “heard” Josslyn.
I opened my glove box and retrieved my pistol and left the car, walking towards the oncoming car.
As the car approached the intersection and stopped, I stepped in front of it, holding the gun behind my back. Josslyn thought, “Sookie,” and then flashed an image of Eric biting me and I knew what I had to do.
I’d done it before.
I walked around to the driver’s side of the car and Josslyn looked up at me through his open window.
As soon as he saw the gun, he turned away and I shot him in the head. He grunted and crawled into the floor of the car.
When he was still, I walked back to my car and got in. I drove to Alice’s house—I’m not sure why. I guess I was still worried about her.
As I came to her property, I stopped and got out of the car and started to dig a hole with the barrel of the gun. I wanted to be rid of it, and so I just buried it by the road and covered it with the red dirt I was so accustomed to.
I got back into my car and started driving again, but this time I had no destination. I left the road and began to drive into the bush. I parked behind a stand of trees and got out of the car.
The night sky was filled with stars and the familiar buzz of insects. I looked up and thought, “Eric.”
I wanted Eric.
I was a murderess yet again and worthy of no one, but I still wanted Eric. This time, there would be no trial, no confession, no prison time. I was done with that. I was done with Kenya. This time, I wanted to fly away with Eric and knew I would never leave him again.
I had tried to pay my debt for Bill’s murder, to live a normal life, but in the end, I knew I would do anything for Eric and I was worthy of no one but perhaps another murderer—a vampire.
I closed my eyes to the sky and listened, hoping for Eric. The wind blew and I thought I heard a rustle in the bushes ahead.
I thought, this is it. Maybe it’s a lion, a hyena. Maybe it’s God coming to take me—coming to punish me. I strained to listen and then opened my eyes.
All I saw was the dark and then an image coming closer. I watched as it neared and my heart raced. It wasn’t a lion, and it wasn’t God.
Eric walked towards me and stopped in front of me. I could make out his form, but not much else in the dark. I reached out and touched his face and he covered my hand with his and pressed it to his cheek.
“Take me,” I whispered.
And then I closed my eyes and waited. This time, I was ready.
A/N: Josslyn Hay, the Earl of Erroll, was murdered in his car during the night on a road outside of Nairobi on January 24, 1941. Sir Jock Delves Broughton was put on trial for the murder of his wife’s lover, but acquitted. Some historians believe Hay’s former lover, Alice de Janze, was responsible for the killing. She committed suicide in that same year. Jock Delves Broughton committed suicide the following year. Josslyn Hay’s murder remains an unsolved mystery.