Ethereal Redemption Chapter 17

SOOKIE’S POV
Grew up in a small town and when the rain would fall down
I’d just stare out my window dreaming of what could be and if I’d end up happy.
I would pray, trying hard to reach out but when I tried to speak out felt like no one could hear me,
Wanted to belong here but something felt so wrong here.So I prayed I could break away
I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky and I’ll make a wish,
Take a chance, m
ake a change and breakaway
~ Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson

I drifted out of my sleep; the waves of slumber slowing releasing me back to the shore, ready to face another day. As they finally let go of me I opened my eyes, the room was still pitch black, and it took a moment for my eyes to adjust. Once they had, however, I found myself facing my beautiful vampire. All traces of emotion were gone from his face and he looked peaceful, his blonde bangs ruffled slightly from our lovemaking. In that moment, he could have passed as a human man of thirty, if it weren’t for his lack of pulse and breath of course. I always used to find it disturbing when Bill would ‘sleep’ beside me, he’d look and feel like a true corpse yet Eric looked and felt more human. That alone told me that Eric was the better vampire for me.

I found myself struggling against Eric’s vice-like hold when I tried to get out of bed. While it was rather endearing to fall asleep in his arms, it made for a mini battle in the mornings, and I was in dire need of the bathroom to tend to my human needs. I wiggled against my vampire lover, and even though he was dead for the day, his body still reacted to my movement. Even in his sleep, Eric was horny. The thought made me laugh loudly.

When I was finally able to leave the bed, I moved to the large bathroom. Even though Ata had stated her hatred for marble, her home contained plenty of it: There was no denying how beautiful the stone was. Once my ablutions had been taken care of I moved to the wardrobe and pulled on a pair of white lacy boy shorts and the matching bra before sliding a light blue sundress on. Pulling a brush through my hair, I tried to smooth out the tangles, the last thing I wanted was for it to be obvious that I’d been thoroughly loved the night before.

Once I was satisfied with my appearance I cautiously exited the room: I was pleased to see that the hallway, which led to the bedrooms, had no windows. Shutting the door firmly behind me, I wandered down the corridor before finding a door that was ajar. I slipped through it and found myself in a large kitchen-dining room combination with bright sunlight streaming in through the huge bay windows and the smell of bacon and waffles in the air. A plump middle-aged woman was bustling around, cooking up a storm, and Ata sat on a barstool at the granite countertop, the newspaper spread out before her.

She looked up when she heard me enter the room and grinned, pushing her stool back and rising to her feet. Crossing to me she pulled me into an embrace before holding me at arm’s length to look at me. “Did you sleep well?” She inquired, letting her hands fall from my arms. I nodded my head as Ata made her way back to the barstool she had been sitting on, and I took the one opposite her.

“How about you, did you sleep well?” I asked in return, my good Southern manners kicking in. Ata’s face suddenly flushed bright pink and a shy smile crossed her lips.

“Yes, thank you,” she answered in a quiet tone and I didn’t even have to dip into her mind to know what her blush was about.

“You consummated your love for one another last night?” I probed a little further, a cheeky smile on my lips at the thought of Godric and Ata finally together after so long.

Her cheeks went from pink to red and her grin told me everything. “Yes, my 2000 years of abstaining were well worth it, although this wasn’t a consummation as you mean it,” she told me, and I couldn’t help but let my jaw drop. She’d gone without sex for 2000 years. I’d been desperate for the body of a man after only 25 years! I shook my head to clear the thoughts from my mind as the plump middle-aged woman placed a large plate of waffles and bacon down in front of me; an affectionate smile was on her lips.

“Sookie this is Felicia, my cook, cleaner and close friend. Felicia, this is my cousin, Sookie,” Ata introduced us.

“Good morning ma’am,” I greeted the woman politely and Felicia’s face lit up.

“Southern manners! My goodness, I’m in heaven! But please, call me Felicia, if you need anything at all during your stay here then feel free to ask me and I will do all I can to help you out,” she told me, sincerity lacing her words; the sincerity matched her positive thoughts.

She’s part of my nest, her family has been working for me for three generations, anything you say in front of her regarding vampires and other supes, including our heritage, is fine as she’s incredibly loyal. I heard Ata’s voice in my head and she gave no outward sign of her silent words.

Felicia returned to her dishes and I nodded in acknowledgement of Ata’s words, picking up my knife and fork to tuck into the wonderfully smelling breakfast before me. “What’s on the agenda for today?” I asked curiously, popping a piece of waffle into my mouth as Felicia placed two glasses of orange juice down on the table before she disappeared off to continue with her tasks.

Swallowing her mouthful, Ata took a sip of orange juice before answering. “I was thinking that after breakfast we could go down to the Garden of the Gods and lounge by the pool to top up your tan for a while and allow our breakfast to settle before we try working with your powers,” she suggested: The prospect of lounging in the sunshine had me nodding my head furiously.

Her laughter rang out at my excitement and her smile was nothing short of warm. “We just expanded the Garden to five acres, we have eight pools and an eighteen-foot water fountain. We’ll go to the Apollo Pool; it’s best suited for sun worshipping. It’s positioned at the south-west corridor of the oasis for maximum sun exposure and my favourite part is the swim up bar, the mixologist we have there is incredible!” She beamed before tucking into her breakfast once more. Eight pools! I could only imagine the number of sun loungers available!

“832 in total,” Ata spoke, laughing gently, obviously my thought had been rather loud.

“Before we start training, however, I was wondering if you could tell me what that’ll involve? You also introduced me as your cousin, so I was also wondering if you could explain our family tree to me as well please?” I asked, wanting to know as much as possible before I made any decisions.

“I would expect nothing less!” She replied, popping the last piece of waffle on her plate into her mouth, chewing and swallowing before pushing the empty plate to the side. I followed suit, having wolfed down my meal. Making love to Eric always made me hungry.

“Okay, you know that Niall is our great-grandfather? Well, he had two sons and one daughter. His sons were called Fintan and Dermot, and his daughter was called Aoife, which is pronounced as eefa. Fintan is your grandfather and Dermot is mine. Aoife is the mother to our other cousins – Claude, Claudia and Claudine,” she explained: I suddenly felt my family circle grow. It was only a few days ago that I believed Jason was my only remaining family member.

“Niall married Einin, she was human and he loved her very much. Fintan and Dermot are his sons from that marriage. When Einin passed away Niall remarried and Aoife was the product of that marriage. Fintan fell in love with your grandmother and your father was conceived, followed shortly after by your Auntie Linda. Dermot fell in love with my grandmother, Cleopatra V Tryphaena and my mother was the product of their coupling,” she continued.

“And you’re a third fae and I’m an eighth. How does that work?” I asked.

Shaking her head and shrugging her shoulders, Ata took another sip of her orange juice as I did. “No clue. Back when I was born, people were far more lax about supernatural beings. One of our goddesses, Sekhmet, had characteristics similar to that of vampires, even down to the blood drinking part. With the passing of time, a group of Egyptians developed a cult, which consisted of devotees to Sekhmet. The cult started to gain prominence, and during the 12th dynasty, that’s 1991 BC to 1802 BC, the Pharaoh shifted the capital of Egypt to a location known to be the centre for this cult. This was the city of Ijtawy. The city no longer exists today. In Ancient Egypt, the governing powers, Royal bloodlines and religion were all strongly linked together.

“The same goddess was also known to be a soldier deity. Consequently, she was associated with attributes like justice and had the responsibility of keeping order. Almost all visual depictions show her dressed in the colour red, which symbolises her connection with blood.

“Various other powers were attributed to this goddess. These included the ability to bring disease as well as its cure. In fact, mentions of Sekhmet can also be found in historical records made by ancient physicians.

“After every battle, the cult of devotees to Sekhmet would celebrate with an elaborate festival to appease Her. Annual festivals were conducted at the beginning of each year where participants would intoxicate themselves: Dancing and music were a common part of these festivals. It was believed that through these actions they could appease the goddess,” she explained, and I sat forward on my stool, captivated by the history lesson. I had a high-school diploma, but college had always been out of the question. I’d been unable to control my shields and the mass of people would have made it difficult to concentrate, not to mention the expense of college.

“Will you tell me about your past later on, please? I never really got to enjoy history classes due to everyone’s thoughts and you’ve seen it all, I’d love to learn more,” I asked enthusiastically, wanting to know as much about my cousin as possible. Her smile and eager nod filled me with joy; the small fraction of her past that Godric had told me about on the flight to Vegas had piqued my interest.

“You said that the fae live for around 2,500 years, and indefinitely if they find their mate, is Godric your mate? And what will happen to me?” I asked, my voice dropping an octave, unsure if I wanted to hear the answer.

“Yes, Godric is most definitely my mate, and now I get to spend eternity with him, should we complete the vampire bond that is. How else can you explain the fact that our love has survived 2000 years of separation? I’m actually glad I’ve found him or I’d die in another four hundred years,” she chuckled and I couldn’t keep the shock off my face. How could she laugh over something so serious?!

“What if you were turned, would you survive over the four hundred years then?” I tipped my head sideways in contemplation.

“No. I would meet the sun. It’s why so few faeries’ are turned. Not only do we need the sunshine to fuel our powers, but also as a vampire finding our mate would be exceptionally difficult. We would only have the night to search and even then, with all the prejudice it would be difficult to convince someone they were our mate. It’s just not practical, not the way nature intended our kind to be. As for what will happen to you, do you think Eric is your mate?”

The thought of her meeting the sun should she become a vampire pulled my thoughts to the awful week of necromancy, when the witch Antonia tried to pull vampires from their day rest and outside. I remembered silvering Eric in the cubby, staying with him for the day, holding him down when the spell came along and then feeding him so he could heal in the evening. The memory of the night we started the blood bond was my favourite, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Snapping back to Ata’s question my response was instant. “Yes.”

“And why is that?” she pushed

“When I first saw him, he was sitting on this ridiculous throne in his bar, Fangtasia, and he was being all brooding and mysterious. The moment I spotted him it was like a tugging sensation in my chest, I felt compelled to go to him. He met my eyes across the room and he summoned Bill and me. We went up to see him and I asked him a few questions about some murders that had taken place in my hometown so I could clear my brother’s name, but he didn’t have any useful information for me. I started to leave, but he told me to sit and then asked Bill if he was ‘quite attached’ to me all while watching me. I heard there was going to be a raid and I told Eric and Bill we had to leave, Eric asked me if I was an undercover cop and I told him a man in a hat was. I told him about a vampire feeding on a human in the bathrooms, too. We left out the back entrance and he told me he enjoyed meeting me and that I ‘will come again.’ Suffice to say, he found every damn way to wiggle into my day-to-day life. I will admit, now that he’s asleep and can’t hear me, that I actually enjoyed seeing him popping up in random places and at inappropriate times. It made my nights a little brighter. But he bought my house when I spent a year in Faery, now any damn vampire can get into my house.” I sighed, shaking my head as I remembered all the ways he’d tried to get in contact with me over the years I’d known him, all to get me to ‘yield’ to him. His patience and perseverance had paid off in the end, as I had yielded to him.

Ata’s bark of laughter drew my attention out of my own thoughts. “I get a feeling he is rather high-handed?”

“You have no idea,” I muttered, draining my glass of orange juice and putting it to one side with my plate. Ata was still cradling her half full glass.

“But you were drawn to him the first time you were in his presence, and he was clearly drawn to you if he decided to pursue you. I assume when he bought your house he tended to it, and that he bought it in the first place so you wouldn’t lose it. It was his way of showing how much he cares for you. Vampires don’t think like humans, Sook. With his age and the past, I managed to pull from his thoughts last night, it would have been difficult for him to associate with feelings of love and affection so he bought your house and tended to it so that you would return to a clean home. It was his way of showing you that he wants your affections. He took your home, which I’m sure with your Southern upbringing you’re most proud of, and looked after it while you weren’t there to do so because he knew how much it meant to you. I get the feeling that someone with his age and status wouldn’t bother himself with just anyone’s home, which leads me to believe that he is indeed your mate,” she informed me, and I couldn’t keep the grin off my face: Living indefinitely with Eric and getting to keep the sunshine and my heartbeat had me giddy.

“I saw the way he was with you last night, Sook. The way he looked at you and how he thought about you.” She reached across the table and took one of my hands in a similar gesture to the one from last night. “He loves you so much, that much is evident. It scares the crap outta him that he cares so much for you, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. He wants to shower you with love and affection, dress you in the best clothes, drape diamonds all over you and buy you whatever takes your fancy.” I opened my mouth to protest but Ata cut me off with her free hand, silencing me before she continued speaking.

“He doesn’t do it to insult you, cousin, he knows you’re more than capable of making your own money, but he wants to share his wealth with you, wants to make you happy by buying you the best of everything. In a way, it’s a little bit selfish too; you’re his mate and therefore a reflection of him. If you’re seen in Walmart clothing – not that there’s anything wrong with that – then it looks to other vampires like he’s not taking care of you properly, they’ll question his loyalty and affection towards you and may even try to take you from him. He likes seeing you in nice things and thinks you deserve that after the way others treated you as you were growing up.”

I mulled over her words, I would always find it awkward to take money and luxuries from Eric and not be able to give anything materialistically in return, and lord knows I’ve pulled a face numerous times when he’s bought me things. I wouldn’t allow myself to be a kept woman, but perhaps I could go to college now I had my shields, or I could take an online course, get myself a degree and then have a job a little bit better than that of a waitress. I could fulfil my dream of being a real estate agent! “Perhaps I could start accepting a couple of his gifts without protest,” I mused aloud, rolling the idea around in my head. Part of me was proud of the decision to stop being so stubborn about everything, but another slightly smaller part was screaming ‘HO!’ at the concept. Battling with my conscience for a moment, I decided that there was no harm in accepting a few small gifts – nothing too extreme, though.

“Good. I think he would like that, and it’s not like you aren’t giving him anything in return. You’re bringing out the humanity in him, making him a better person, that’s got to be worth something,” she pointed out.

“He’s changed my whole world, Ata. I feel like I can do so many things now with him by my side. Bon Temp is lovely and I adore some of the people there but it’s not enough. I have this craving to travel and see the world, do everything I thought I never would get to. I mean, I never thought I would fall in love with someone, let alone someone like Eric! I know we can never have babies, which is something I’ve wanted since I was a little girl, but now the thought of bringing a child into all of the supernatural shit I find myself in isn’t very appealing. Besides, one Northman is enough to deal with!” I chuckled, the thought of raising a child just like Eric would be a difficult task – rewarding, but difficult.

“I’m glad he’s had a positive impact on your life, Sook. I know it’s not my place to pry but the moment I met you I did snoop, call it second nature, and I saw how everyone treated you. I’m glad that you can find some happiness and sense of belonging with the Viking, although I still find it strange that in some way he’s a son to me, given that Godric is like a father to him. The thought of him calling me mum though is comical. Heart-warming, but comical,” She laughed, taking her hand back from mine and draining the last of her orange juice before collecting all of our dishes and dumping them in the sink to be cleaned later.

“Go and put on your bikini, I’ll meet you back here in ten minutes,” Ata called over her shoulder as she headed off in the opposite direction.

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