It may have taken Deborah longer than she had counted on to write the next chapter in her Eric & Sookie fanfic, The Dark Queen – due to illness and New Year’s Eve – though neither one was related to each other (that we know of). Sure, Deborah, sure…me thinks you took holiday celebrating a little bit too far!
Never fear Deborah hasn’t forgotten about you or this story! Well, maybe you should fear…because we can tell you right now…something is brewing in New Orleans, and it’s not coffee! I’m on the edge of my seat and I’m sure you will be too after you read this chapter!
Unfortunately, there will NOT be a poll to cast your vote in this installment…but, Deborah assured us she’s going to send us the next chapter tomorrow!
In case you’re behind on this story, you can catch up on previously posted chapters here!
In case you’re new and wondering WTF we’re talking about…Deborah Court, a published author, and Eric & Sookie Lover; wanted to write an Eric & Sookie fanfic exclusively for us! You can’t find this story anywhere else – not even on her own website! We feel honored and privileged she is doing this for us! This story is the first (that we know of) fan-interactive story, where the readers (you) get to decide what happens next in the story! (But as we said, not in this chapter.)
If you would like to order her novel, “Bound To The Prince” – you can order it through Amazon.com!
She also has a new novella, just released – titled, “House of Pleasure”! Right now, you can only order it for electronic devices such as; Kindle and Smashwords! Here’s the description of her new novella!
Jane Eden inherits an old Victorian mansion on the outskirts of Boston. She soon discovers that it’s a magical house which has fulfilled the sexual fantasies of all her female ancestors who lived there before her. Losing herself in fantasies that take her to exotic places and delightfully sensual historical eras, she never considers what will happen if she ever loses her heart …
We’re sure you’re anxious to get started reading, but before you do…
Hold me…I’m scared!
That’s better…now I’m ready to read Chapter 7 of The Dark Queen!
The Dark Queen
By Deborah Court
The Quartier Royal was located on one of the most fashionable corners of the French Quarter, St Louis at Royal. It was a 19th century hotel that had been renovated and refurnished a few years ago and held the most modern amenities now, while still keeping the grandeur of old New Orleans. It belonged to Eric, who had purchased it from a bankrupt hotelier in the 1920s.
Since then, it had been one of his most profitable business acquisitions. Without making this public, Eric had one floor of rooms that were suitable for vampires, with high-tech windows with stained glass that could be made completely light-safe. He’d even offered special rooms to vampires before they had made their existence public, but then they had been located in a secret underground part of the hotel. The human service staff had been glamored personally by him, compelling them never to breathe a single word about their unusual guests.
Although there was a first class upper floor that was closed off from the public, with suites that were praised to be the most luxuriously equipped rooms in all of New Orleans, the penthouse belonged to Eric and was always kept ready-to-use for his regular visits. He believed in letting his employees know that the boss was often around, watching them closely, and in paying them well to ensure their loyalty. They had thanked him by keeping up their excellent customer service, and guests who had stayed once at the Quartier Royal always came back.
Sookie was sound asleep in Eric’s arms when he landed on his private balcony. It was huge, the floor made from Scandinavian wood so dark that it shone like polished ebony. The turquoise pool seemed to drop down over the edge of the building and offered a perfect view of the French Quarter, and an lndonesian hand-carved canopy bed strewn with soft cushions, inviting enough to spend most of the hot nights outdoors.
The inside of the penthouse had been luxuriously, but sparsely furnished, according to his needs, but recently he had arranged that everything a human woman could possibly require was added and built in so he could bring Sookie here any time. He was glad that she had been so upset by the sight of the murder scene that she hadn’t even thought about packing her own belongings. She had a whole walk-in closet filled with designer clothes, shoes and underwear that should fit her perfectly.
He smiled to himself when he realized how little importance she attached to such luxury items. She loved to dress up and feel pretty like any other woman did, but she had never asked him to buy her anything, although he could easily afford anything she could ever wish for.
The first rays of light would appear any moment; he felt it as surely as the undeniable need to rest that would soon overpower him. Opening the safety lock by entering a code, he proceeded to the master bedroom and settled Sookie down onto the bed, tucking her in. After he’d informed the manager that he was in residence, Eric closed all the windows by lowering the automatic light-safe shutters. Settling down on the bed next to his fairy, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her close, inhaling her sweet scent as he fell into his deathlike sleep.
“We are going to a real Voodoo shop?” Sookie could hardly conceal her excitement when they explored the streets of the French quarter the next night.
Eric threw her a scolding glance. “Keep calm this time, Sookie. The owner of this shop isn’t an ordinary woman. Your curiosity could keep her from telling us anything. She’s real, unlike the fake voodoo priests who sell their souvenirs to keep the tourists entertained. She is a Mambo Asogwe, a high priestess who preserves the rituals and songs of her people. She keeps the balance between the worlds of the living and the spirits. If someone knows who could be the murderer, it’s her.”
At the sight of her even more excited face, he moaned. “Maybe I should have gone alone this time.”
“Don’t you dare, Mr. Northman!” Sookie hissed. “You won’t go anywhere without me. You seem to believe you’ll have all of the fun alone – while you keep your human safely at home where she belongs.”
“Worse than a horde of rabid Danes,” Eric murmured to himself, ignoring Sookie’s punches into his ribs. He led her down Rue Dumaine and headed straight to a large shop with a blinking neon sign that said “Bloody Mary’s Authentic Voodoo Store” – probably hinting at the infamous Voodoo queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau. Unexpectedly he grabbed her hand and pulled her into a side alley right beside the shop that was so tiny that she wouldn’t have noticed it by herself. They went along between houses that probably were the oldest of the city, their crumbling walls still withstanding the tooth of time.
At the end of the alley, there was a tiny souvenir shop that held tourist guides, Creole cookbooks, fake voodoo dolls and Fleur-de-lis jewelry that said “Real Sterling silver” on the label – Eric examined it with a raised brow and then held up a bracelet. It didn’t even cause his skin to redden.
“How ‘real’ is your silver, Mama Valerie?” he asked, slowly turning to the woman that had appeared beside them, so silently it made Sookie wince with surprise. She was a small, corpulent woman about fifty, her skin dark and smooth like black velvet. Her African-style clothes in bright colors, and the deep red cotton scarf she had wrapped around her head like a turban fitted her well. Combined with her proud posture, she was a living reminder of her ancestors who had been dragged from their homelands and shipped to a strange new world.
Ignoring Eric, she immediately turned her attention to his companion. Her intelligent, dark brown eyes seemed to look right into Sookie’s soul as she watched her with a contemplative stare.
“What have you brought me here, Viking?” Mama Valerie said with a slight French accent, not taking her gaze from Sookie. “She is exceptional.”
Sookie felt Eric’s arm slipping around her waist. She felt his alertness through the bond and realized that he was protecting her. Obviously this Mama Valerie wasn’t someone to mess with. Maybe it was time she remembered her good Southern manners.
Slowly she held out her hand, forcing herself to look unwaveringly into the older woman’s eyes.
“My name is Sookie Stackhouse, Ma’am. Pleased to meet you,” she said, but felt incredibly stupid when Valerie stared at her as if she was a curiosity. Suddenly she felt a raw, unknown power emanating from the woman, something she’d never felt before. Within seconds she knew that she was been tested in some way, that something reached out to her, trying to get into her mind. She shut up her thoughts against the intruding power, concentrating on the mighty bond with Eric whose mere presence seemed to strengthen her, keeping the attack at bay. After a few moments, the weird feeling was gone as quickly as it had come. Madame Valerie laughed, pearly white teeth flashing up in her dark face.
“I’m impressed,” she said. “I haven’t seen any of your kind for a while, my child. But to see someone of your bloodline connected with a vampire as old as our Viking here is truly remarkable.” Her eyes wandered from one of her visitors to the other with an inscrutable expression. “But the question remaining is – what has led you here?”
Eric briefly explained what had happened at Fangtasia, explaining the details of the murder to her. When she nodded, he reached into the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out a small wooden box. Sookie shuddered when Mama Valerie opened the lid and observed the contents, sniffing at them.
“Oui,” she said. “The rooster’s claw. And a mixture of several herbs … they are quite common, you could buy them in any shop frequented by the tourists. But there is something else. Black hand root. It’s very rare, and you can only get it at one place in all of New Orleans.”
“And where would that be?” Eric asked, raising his brows.
“Why, here, of course,” Mama Valerie answered in a tone that indicated she was talking to a less bright kid, rather than to a thousand-year-old vampire. Eric didn’t seem to mind. Sookie suddenly wondered how old this woman was. She felt a wave of power radiating from her mind, engulfing everything in her presence. And she couldn’t read her thoughts, although she sensed that the voodoo priestess was human.
“C’mon in,” Valerie said. “We’ll have to talk.”
The back of the shop wasn’t much larger than Sookie’s living room, but it was crammed with the most peculiar objects that were fascinating and gruesome at the same time. There wasn’t the usual stuff sold at voodoo shops, like dolls, love potions or gris-gris bags. The room was filled from floor to ceiling with ingredients of all types, candles in every color imaginable, books so old they seemed to crumble into dust. There were also unspeakable things swimming in embalming fluid – Sookie didn’t bother to look at them for too long.
Countless herbs hung on the walls to dry or were stored in glass jars, boxes, bowls and cartons, but all of them neatly labeled and stapled over each other. Sookie had no idea how anyone could find something they were looking for in this chaos, but obviously Mama Valerie had some system as she was scanning the rows and quickly pulled out a few jars. She walked over to a working table that stood on the opposite wall and added small quantities of everything she had chosen, using a mortar and pestle. Examining the resultant mixture, she compared it with the herbs in Eric’s box.
“Oh yes,” she said, more to herself than to her visitors. “Someone knew exactly what they were doing. They were faking it in a way only a true believer could.” She sniggered.
“What the hell is she talking about? Is she crazy?” Sookie whispered to Eric, but he pressed her hand, warning her to remain silent.
After a while, Mama Valerie abruptly turned around.
“You are in deep trouble, Viking,” she said. “In a deep shithole of trouble, I’d say,” she added, giggling. “This is very bad Juju. The rooster’s claw stand for making the dead talk … in this case, to tell you who murdered them. This is why the sacrificed woman had it in her mouth. She should tell you where to go to have your revenge. The black hand’s root, and the other ingredients stand for a lover’s complaint … oui, d’amour tragique, a heart’s desire that will never be fulfilled since the loved one is lost forever. Endless pain and unforgiving hate. You were right, Viking. This magic is of the darkest kind, not used as a ritual to gain power or anything else the sorcerer longs for. It’s only purpose was to make the spirits bring you to New Orleans.”
“Let’s stick with the facts,” Eric said, beginning to grow impatient. “Tell us what the murderer was doing in my bar. Yvetta’s death obviously wasn’t expected since she coincidentally broke in that day to steal information that could harm me. Bill’s presence wasn’t planned, either. He was just looking for her when she didn’t arrive at the airport. So how could the murderer possibly plan such a task? And who bought the Black Hand’s Root? You said that it can only be purchased here, in your shop.”
“Of course. Only Mama Valerie has such strong gris-gris. Only two customers recently bought it: a woman who has declared herself the ‘new Marie Laveau’; she sells love potions, tells the future and performs rituals for anyone who can afford her ridiculous prices. Her name’s Adrienne Lavoisier. I’ll give you her address. The second is someone you know very well, Viking.”
“Gervais Civrac,” Eric said darkly. “Sadly, yes. Don’t tell me this Creole bastard has turned to Voodoo now.”
“This is something you should ask him,” Valerie answered. “I only know that he bought the ingredient, not what he used it for, or to whom he gave it.”
“You haven’t answered the other question,” Eric said, his rigid posture telling Sookie that something was very wrong.
“You already know the answer, Viking. Whoever broke into your club, had just one thing in mind – luring you to New Orleans. And since you are currently standing here in my shop, they succeeded. But they made one big mistake.”
“They didn’t want to kill Yvetta, or Bill,” Eric said as he started to shake with rage.
“No,” Mama Valeria replied, slowly nodding. “This was pure coincidence. When they saw a human woman in your club, they mistook her for the one they had originally intended to kill. The one whose death would infuriate you so much that you would run straight into their trap. You already suspected that there was a trap laid out for you. But you can’t stop searching for the killer, can you, Viking? And all the while, you think that the safest place for her is still at your side. What a fool you are.”
Sookie gasped, unable to speak a single word as realization hit her. Eric slowly turned his head towards her, his torment clearly written in his eyes.
“Forgive me for bringing you here, my lover,” he said. “I suspected it right from the start, but wasn’t sure until now. The human the murderer intended to kill, the only one whose death would cause enough pain in me to make me seek revenge is …”
“Me,” Sookie murmured, horror spreading across her face.
To be continued…
© All characters are the property of Charlaine Harris and True blood HBO. No copyright infringement is intended. No monetary compensation is gained. Used for entertainment purposes only.
Thank you Deborah for not forgetting about us! Hope you’re feeling better now! *hugs*
Where to start? I LOVED this chapter! This Voodoo Queen seems powerfully menacing! I have to admit, you’re freaking me out with the fact that this woman know what Sookie was, when she tried to do whatever it is, she tried to do to her! And what’s more…I’m feeling scared for Sookie and Eric! Hope nothing bad happens to either one of them! Thanks so much and looking forward to the next chapter!
As you know, Deborah LOVES reading all of your comments! Please tell her what you think in the comment section below! Who knows, maybe she’ll drop by and reply to one of you?