The Rhodes Less Traveled: Chapter 4
Sookie’s beauty would have taken my breath away had I actually breathed. She entered the ballroom in a long ice blue dress with little silvery beads on it and all heads turned as she beamed at me. Sookie is stunning. And she is mine. In spite of a harrowing night, we managed to salvage the rest of the evening just dancing and enjoying each other.
The summit had been a stressful time for me. I should have just been another member of the Louisiana contingent enjoying the weddings and parties, observing the court dramas, but instead I spent almost all of my time attending meetings about Sookie. I managed to keep most of this from Sookie by making sure she was occupied at the database booth. Poor Pam was assigned to babysit her and the one time she tried to get away for a little fun, Sookie accidentally stunned a handful of innocent bystanders. I promised Sookie that when we got home, we’d resume her training, but in all honesty, I wasn’t so keen on getting her trained so quickly anymore. The sooner Sookie has her gift under control, the sooner she may be taken from me.
What Sookie didn’t know was that Andre was spending a great deal of his time at the summit bargaining with other monarchs for her. God knows how many deals he was really working on, but I was aware of four different offers of marriage from other states’ kings and queens only because the details of them had already been finalized and were presented to me. Andre was clearly conflicted about what to do with Sookie. She was a rare asset to be sure, but a dangerous one as well. She hated Andre and I’m sure that he wanted to avoid being around her at all costs. So what does a person do with a valuable asset that he doesn’t really want to keep around? He sells it, of course.
I kept trying to convince Sophie-Anne that once Sookie’s training was complete that she would prove to be a vampire worth keeping. The queen saw the loyalty that Sookie inspired among the Louisiana vampires and I believe that it impressed her. I suggested making Sookie a sheriff herself after a respectable amount of time or creating a special position for her in which her talents could be best utilized. I stressed that the queen would someday come to regret that Sookie had been sold to another state—that whatever monetary value she had today would be dwarfed in years to come by her value as a leader in the state. I could see that I was influencing Sophie-Anne, but I also knew that Andre would always have her ear more so than I ever would.
Selfishly, I intended to never give Sookie up. I would meet the sun myself before I’d see her married to someone else, monarch or not. There is no price I would ever accept for her, of course, but I couldn’t say that to the queen or to Andre. So, for the time being, my best bet was to convince them that she needed more time to be controlled and trained. At least that would buy me another year or so, and by then hopefully I’d have another plan. I would never give her up.
I was secretly pleased when Sookie accidentally stunned the vampires at her booth on the first night of the summit. It demonstrated her inability to control her gift, and the offer from the king of New York was quickly withdrawn afterwards. Yes, stunning is an unusual gift, but a dangerous one as well.
The one bargain that was struck for Sookie that I was overridden on was renting her services to the Ancient Pythoness. I argued against it and was worried about accidental stunnings and Sookie’s safety, of course, but once Sookie met the Pythoness, I felt a little better about it. And maybe Andre’s getting a little money in his pocket would demonstrate that Sookie could make more for him as a long-term rental rather than as a short term sale.
Things in court were going just fine, of course, until Sookie was almost killed by an arrow from an assassin. As much as I hated that were, Quinn, I was grateful that he had jumped in front of Sookie and taken the arrow that was headed for her. We were all fairly certain that the only intended target was the newly really dead Henrik Feith, and so I made the decision to continue our evening plans and dance. We stayed until the final song and were one of the last couples to leave. I had dismissed Clovache earlier, and so it was just the two of us when we made it back to our room. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we made love up until the last minute. I was holding Sookie in my arms telling her how much I loved her when she fell into her rest. I spent my remaining waking moments just looking at her and wondering what I had ever done to deserve such a treasure.
The third night of the summit was divided into two parts. The first half of the night was taken with more court cases, but they were all jury cases and so the Pythoness didn’t need Sookie’s services. I spent most of that time in the booth with Sookie so that Pam could do some exploring. When Pam returned to let us know that court was over, Sookie and I went upstairs to our room for her to change, leaving Pam to tend to the booth.
Once Sookie was in normal clothes, we met the queen for the commerce part of the evening. I assured the queen that it was extremely unlikely that any part of that event would make Sookie angry enough to stun anyone, but I noticed that she kept Sigebert and Wybert nearby just in case. I wanted to show the queen just how valuable Sookie is as a telepath. Hopefully, such knowledge would lessen Sookie’s chances of being sold. Sookie did a spectacular job of reading humans that the queen was doing business with and I could see that Sophie-Anne was impressed. Finally at the end of the commerce segment, we were excused and went back to our room to retire.
We both got ready for bed and then began to discuss what we wanted to do for the following night. There was some free time scheduled to explore Rhodes and Sookie was eager to see some of the city. She wanted to go to the zoo, which was on the list of sights for us to see and would be open at night by special arrangement. That reminded me that I had seen that were tiger earlier and commented to Sookie that he certainly had healed quickly. I felt an immediate pang of guilt from Sookie.
“Do you want to tell me why you feel guilt when I mention that tiger?”
“Oh, is he a tiger? I didn’t know.”
“Don’t change the subject, lover. What did you do, give him your blood?” I was absolutely kidding because the idea was so completely absurd, but one look at Sookie’s face and I knew that that’s exactly what she had done. I lost it and flew off the handle. It is insane for a vampire to give a were blood. We are natural enemies. Yes, he took an arrow for her and I was grateful (but kept it to myself), but I was furious that Sookie had healed him and that she hadn’t told me. I’ll admit that I probably overreacted and yes, I was jealous. I knew that Sookie would not have cheated on me with the ridiculous tiger, but I may have made some rude remark that hinted that she had been sexually inappropriate by offering her blood to him. And that was the last comment I recall making.
I woke from my stun several minutes later and Sookie was not in the bed. I panicked for a moment because I knew that she was close to her time of rest if not already past it. I jumped up and scoured the room and then found her asleep in the bathtub. She looked so peaceful in there in her pretty gown and I felt immediately guilty for making her so mad that she wanted to sleep somewhere other than at my side. As much as I would miss her, I decided to respect her wishes and leave her in there. It’s not as if she would be uncomfortable—she was sleeping the sleep of the dead and could feel nothing. Even though it made no sense, I placed a pillow under her head and covered her with a blanket from our bed. Somehow that made me feel better about being such a dick to her. And then I got back into bed and waited for dawn to take me as well. I knew that when we woke, Sookie would most likely not be speaking to me, but I figured we had all the time in the world to work through that.