Are you feeling hungry and/or thirsty for more of Deborah’s story? If so, you will soon have your appetite satisfied and all your thirsts quenched!
Deborah Court has finished the latest chapter of The Dark Queen!
Believe me…this is a dinner to remember and something you won’t soon forget! We’re warning you now – this is no ordinary picnic!
We hope you like this chapter and hope it satisfies your bloodlust!
Before you proceed…there has been a slight change in plans when it comes to the two polls at the end of this chapter to decide what happens next! Please read the special note below!
Please note: You will have ONLY 24 HOURS to cast your votes!
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The only thing left to say is…
Bon appetité, mes amis!
Now on with the next chapter in the saga…
The Dark Queen
By Deborah Court
A big hand closed around Gervais’s throat and shoved him away from Sookie. Not releasing the younger vampire, Eric said, very calmly: “She is mine. Is this the hospitality you show to your guests? If you considered her a gift, you should have asked first.”
Quickly, Sookie moved behind Eric’s back, hoping that there wouldn’t be a fight. The air was almost crackling with tension. Eric hadn’t released Gervais yet, and the Creole had pulled out a dagger that had been hidden somewhere in his clothing – a black silk shirt with fitted suit trousers – so it probably came from behind his belt. The weapon was small enough to be concealed easily, but dangerous enough to kill. Its sharp tip was pressed against Eric’s chest now, right above his heart.
“The blade is made of wood, coated with silver,” Gervais hissed. “I guess you wouldn’t like to feel it pierce your heart?”
“Nor shall I if I rip off your head first,” Eric replied. “Which of us will be faster, do you think?”
Instead of an answer, Gervais just stared back at him, meeting Eric’s cold blue eyes with his deadly gaze. Sookie felt her body tighten as she expected one of them to strike at any moment. From the corner of her eyes, she saw the other vampires move closer, ready to attack. She wondered if Eric was strong enough to fight so many of them.
After a few seconds, the deadly expression in Gervais’s eyes shifted and changed to something else – amusement. Laughing, he clapped Eric’s shoulder. The Viking still looked like he wanted to tear Gervais to pieces, but he slowly released him from his iron grip.
“Easy, friend,” Gervais said. “I won’t eat your precious human even if I have to admit that she smells like a real treat. Maybe another time …,” he winked at Sookie. “When she’s not yours anymore.”
Sookie held her breath, but before her eyes, Eric’s expression changed into a semblance of polite demeanor, even pleasantry. Yet she felt how alert he was, prepared to defend her whenever necessary. She could feel an untamed rage coming through the bond, strong enough to consume her with its sheer force, but she quickly closed her mind to him, feeling that it was best to keep a cool head right now.
“If I wasn’t Eric’s,” she said seductively as she went to his side, stepping out from the relative safety behind his back, “I am sure you’d be my first choice, Monsieur Civrac. I fear my Viking has a bad temper if another man touches me.” She stretched out her hand to Gervais and sensed Eric’s fury seeping through the barrier she had erected between them.
To her relief, Gervais only pressed a gallant kiss to her hand and released her instantly, gesturing them to follow him. “It is my pleasure, Miss Stackhouse. Yes, I know who you are,” he added, seeing her surprise, “I always know who enters my city … and who leaves it, dead or alive. Rumors – gumbo ya ya, as we call it here, spread quickly in New Orleans, Mademoiselle. It is a pleasure to have you here, and Eric Northman. It has been a long time since we met, friend. I hope you and your human companion will be my guests for dinner tonight.”
Sookie doubted that Eric would call this vampire his friend, but for now he nodded, accepting Gervais’s hospitality. It would be impossible not to socialize if they wanted to draw some information from Gervais.
Their host led them to an adjacent room that was elaborately decorated, with an antique Duncan Phyfe dining table that was apparently meant for a small group of elegant guests, set with Victorian china, crystal glasses and silverware. Sookie strongly suspected that Gervais had a whole ballroom to entertain larger groups of his vampire guests. Probably they served human virgins there, she mused, not realizing that she had murmured this thought out aloud until she saw Eric smile at her side. “Indeed,” he whispered, leaning down to her. His fingers brushed over the small of her back, guiding her to her seat, and she felt the sensation of his touch run through her body.
“I was invited to some of the decadent festivities in this house. When we’re back at the penthouse, I’ll demonstrate on your body all the places the guests were offered to feed from the glamored females. Blood can taste quite differently, depending on where you draw it.” Sookie gave a sharp intake of breath, and he grinned boyishly. Astonishingly, all the rage he had clearly felt earlier seemed to have vanished, and all she felt coming from him was his calm composure, mixed with alertness and the obvious desire he felt for her right now.
Gervais cleared his throat and indicated for Eric to sit down opposite him with an elegant gesture of his hand. He was sitting on the head of the table, with Eric seated opposite him. Sookie took the place of the guest of honor to his right. “If the happy couple wouldn’t mind separating for the duration of dinner, I’d like to introduce someone to you,” he said. Sookie hadn’t seen the tall, beautiful woman that had swept into the room like a vision in black organza. Her pale skin and deep eyes clearly marked her as a vampire, apart from the fact that Sookie couldn’t read anything she was thinking, the same as with Gervais.
Slender as a willow, the female vampire moved with the grace of a ballet dancer. Her eyes rested on Eric while she gracefully stretched out her hand to Gervais, who kissed it tenderly. “This is Jeanne,” he said, not caring to explain what she was to him. He didn’t need to. His hand slowly trailed down her bare shoulders and arm when she sat down at his other side, still watching the Viking, ignoring Sookie. Jeanne couldn’t have been more different from Sookie. Her Creole blood showed in her dark eyes and carefully coiffured black hair, and although her skin was nearly white, it had surely once been a light, creamy brown.
“And who might this be?” Jeanne asked in a slight French accent, without averting her eyes from Eric. Sookie didn’t dare turn her head to find out how Eric was looking at this woman who so most obviously enjoyed staring at him. But she felt anger rising in her as the evil green monster took hold of her. She should have remained calm, but she just couldn’t help it.
“It is of no importance to you,” she said, feeling grim joy as Jeanne’s gaze finally wandered to her. “His name is Eric Northman, and he’s mine.”
For a few moments, both Jeanne and Gervais stared at her as if she had suddenly grown horns. Then they began to laugh, an ironic sound that clearly showed their belief that she was inferior to them, a mere mortal that had dared to claim a vampire for herself.
“Your human is very entertaining … Eric,” Jeanne finally said. “She believes you belong to her.” She laughed, slightly opening her lips to reveal sharp white fangs.
Eric smiled nonchalantly. “I fear those humans can get quite overwhelmed by a vampire’s appeal.” Sookie wanted to say something, but pressed her lips together when he sent her a wave of love and reassurance.
Gervais laughed heartily before he lifted his glass for a toast. It was filled with a special brand of fresh blood as were the other vampires’ while Sookie’s contained – to her utter relief – an excellent red wine. Then the first course was served by a human butler and a maid – arugula salad with grilled scallops and asparagus for Sookie, and a steaming red soup for the vampires that made her lose her appetite very quickly. She chose only to take another sip of her wine while she listened.
“Don’t try to fool us, Eric,” Gervais remarked, raising his brows. “I saw the way you protected her. I know that you care for her, and I’d really like to know why.”
“I like her,” Jeanne said. “She smells trés bien. Can I taste her some time, maybe?”
For the blink of an eye, Eric’s eyes filled with cold rage, and he looked as if he’d kill the two vampires on the spot. But the impression was gone as swiftly as it had come, and he smiled. “Let’s not talk about my love life, my friend,” he said, addressing Gervais. “I’d prefer you to tell me what you did with the Black Hand’s Root you bought at Mama Valerie’s shop. The blood tastes delicious, by the way,” he added, setting down his glass.
Either Gervais wasn’t surprised by Eric’s sudden question, or he was able to control himself masterfully. Neither his face nor his eyes showed any expression as he shrugged.
“I’m not practicing Voodoo anymore. But I bought the root as a gift.”
“For whom?” Eric pressed him.
“I don’t know why this should interest you, but since it evidently does – it was for a good friend, a human. Her name is Adrienne Lavoisier – you know, the ‘new Marie Laveau’.” He laughed. “As if this woman could compete with the real Marie, considering her pathetic attempts at magic!”
“So this human is your friend?” Eric asked, glowering at him. “Do you really expect me to believe this?”
“Well, maybe a better description would be ‘business partner’,” Gervais said, a slight smile on his lips. “Her house is crowded with wealthy tourists every night, humans who have come all the way to old Orleans for a bag of gris-gris she prepares for them, or for a love spell. They’d pay anything to make her perform one of her rituals for them – and they do, believe me.” He laughed. “I visited her soon after she came to New Orleans, quickly learning how to bring herself into the center of attention. She soon understood that everyone who wants to earn money in this city must pay a tribute to me – except my oldest friends, of course.” He nodded to Eric, subtly letting him know that he owed him for not having interfered with his hotel business so far.
“Excuse me,” Sookie said, turning to Gervais. “If the voodoo skills of this Ms Lavoisier are so non-existent, why would you give her a root that’s only sold by Mama Valerie, so strong that it can solely be used by the most experienced voodoo practitioners?”
This finally seemed to surprise Gervais, as he blinked, directing his full attention onto her. When he began with a detailed explanation about the art of voodoo magic, she caught a sudden movement of Eric from the corner of her eye. Her glass was thrown over, and the wine spilled all over her lovely new dress, staining the bright red to a darker tone.
“Oh no!” she exclaimed, looking sorrowfully down at the most beautiful piece of clothing she’s ever owned. It was probably ruined beyond repair now. And why had Eric knocked over a glass of wine? She’d never seen him do anything clumsy before – she hadn’t even known that such a thing was possible when it came to her Viking.
“I’m sorry,” Eric said calmly, looking into her eyes. She saw the warning look in them. In the meantime, Jeanne started to fuss over her.
“Oh, you poor thing,” she crooned, “what did you do to your lovely dress? I’ll take you upstairs and give you something else to wear. Louise will try to remove the stain.” The female vampire gave the waiting maid a curt wave to join them outside as she hurriedly ushered Sookie out of her seat. “Come, human.”
“Not so quickly,” Eric interfered. He stood up and grabbed Sookie’s arm, silently telling her to stay exactly where she was. “I saw you put something into her drink when you thought I was engaged in a conversation with Gervais,” he said, turning to Jeanne. “You can’t be very smart if you think you can do something like that without me noticing it.” He grabbed her throat and pulled her towards him, snarling at her. The female vampire’s eyes widened with fear. “If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you very slowly, Jeanne. It will be my pleasure.”
Gervais jumped up from his chair and lunged at Eric, but he shoved him back so effortlessly, the younger vampire crashed into the sideboard, taking dozens of pieces of fine china down with him. “You ordered her to drug Sookie, Creole bastard,” he growled, deliberately choosing the one mockery that would drive Gervais into a blind rage. “Or did you want to kill her right away, with poison?
It worked. Gervais came back just as quickly. Yet instead of fighting Eric, he went straight for Sookie’s throat, his fangs bared.
In the next few seconds, everything seemed to happen at once. One moment Sookie was standing beside a table with a furious vampire coming to kill her, while the other stood in his way to protect her and the next, everything was gone, and she was in Eric’s arms again, quickly moving through the air as he headed back to the hotel.
“Eric!” she gasped. “What has happened? Why are we …”
“I had to leave, Sookie,” he said through clenched teeth, pressing her to his body as if she were a fragile doll. “I was such a fool to fall for their cheap trick.”
“What do you mean?”
“I feel … strange,” he answered after a while, diving down through the air to land on the balcony of his penthouse. “They didn’t poison you. Gervais had planned everything. He told Jeanne to put something in your drink while I was watching. But in truth, it was my blood that was poisoned all the time. Making me knock over your glass was just a distraction to prevent me from noticing the effects of this drug they gave me. I don’t know what it is – a Voodoo herbal ingredient, maybe. I feel strange. It can’t kill me, of course, but it is succeeding in slowing me down by dulling my senses. Once I realized this, I knew we had to get out.”
As soon as they had reached the apartment, Eric locked the balcony doors behind him and fell on the bed, knowing that nothing would be able to wake him before next nightfall. “Have … to … sleep,” he said with a last pleading look at Sookie. When she nodded, he murmured, “Sookie, please listen to me this one time. Stay … here.” Then he closed his eyes and was dead to the world.
When he awoke the following night, Sookie was gone. As he began to search frantically for her, he found a message on the mirror of her closet, written in her blood.
“If you try to find her, she’s dead.
If you try to enter my house, she’s dead.
Meet me tomorrow night at midnight at … “
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.
The game is afoot, Watson! You must decide what will be Eric’s next move to save Sookie!
What will Eric do next?
- He’ll try to sneak into Gervais’s house, despite the warning
- He’ll return to Mama Valerie and ask for her advice.
- He’ll visit Adrienne Lavoisier and find out if she knows anything about Sookie’s disappearance.
Where does Gervais want to meet Eric tomorrow at midnight?
- at St. Louis cathedral, in the hidden crypt
- at Marie Laveau’s grave in St. Louis cemetery
Please cast your votes in the 2 polls below! Remember, you have only 24 hours to cast your votes!
For those who want to know how the voting in the last chapter went (most notably the orgy question), here are the polling results!
- 73.88% and a total of 134 votes; chose “Eric will drag Sookie away, but play nice”! (Which you already know.)
- 79.39% and a total of 131 votes; chose “he’ll invite Eric and Sookie TO dinner”! (Again, you already know this.)
- And now the question that everyone was talking about in the comment section…before I tell you the results, they were actually a lot closer than Deborah or I expected. Deborah wants to assure you, the orgy was not going to be a threesome and that Eric and Sookie would be focused on each other. (Kind of like how it was in book 2, Living Dead in Dallas.) Needless to say…those who didn’t want it, won’t get it! 60.29% of you, with a total of 136 votes; chose “Good heavens, NO!”
Thank you so much Deborah for satisfying our cravings! My appetite has been temporarily satisfied, but I’m dying for some dessert! I don’t like this new vamp, Jeanne, and I think she’s going to go after Eric. Where did Gervais take Sookie to and why? I’m scared for Eric…hope she’s alright! Can’t wait to read more!
Now it’s your turn to tell Deborah what you think, or we’ll make you stay and wash all the dirty dishes! LOL Just kidding…seriously, Deborah loves reading your comments, so please tell her what you think in the comment section below!