It’s an animal city, it’s a cannibal world, so be obedient, don’t argue, some are ready to fight you my love
They believe you now have everything you wanted and once you have become a star you got no right to bitch
But someday when you fail they’ll put you on sale and buy you by the inch, but you’re the real deal and “real” is your middle name
You know sometimes I feel I gotta earn every breath you take, baby, never mind the rules we break
‘Cause it’s an animal city, it’s a cannibal world, so be obedient, don’t argue some are ready to bite you,
It’s an animal city it’s a cannibal world so be obedient, don’t argue, some are ready rip you right off
With you I feel safe there’s nothing to fear from us, away from the fangs, the fangs of the world
~ Animal City, Shakira
I remained silent while my beloved conducted her area business. I had been rather surprised to learn she was the Sheriff of the area, but short of being Queen, it was the next best thing. Of course, watching her in action made me miss my job as Sheriff in Dallas. I would have to get in contact with Isabelle as soon as possible to see how she was doing. I handed everything over to her without sitting down and going through things with her. She was a capable woman of course, but I threw her in at the deep end. After Miss Stackhouse had convinced me to come down off of the roof I had toyed with the idea of going and assisting Isabelle however, I felt the compulsion to leave Texas, and America altogether.
Now, of course, I could understand why I had felt this compulsion to leave. If I hadn’t then I wouldn’t have been able to get my hands on my love’s sketchbook and crown. Speaking of which, her crown was still concealed within my belongings, but a part of me knew it wasn’t the right time to reveal it to her yet. I would save it for a very special occasion and then present it to her.
I had tried to take a more humanitarian approach to my rulings in my last few years as Sheriff in Dallas, but with vampires, I had been forced to use strong methods of punishment. Humans were more susceptible to pain, and parts of their anatomies didn’t grow back, so my punishments involving them had always been a little on the gentle side – effective, but gentle. However, this disputes session involved only one human, and my love had been wonderfully gentle and compassionate to the girl. I felt proud of her for the way she had conducted her business, though of course, I had been curious about her ability to seemingly glamour the girl into forgetting.
The moment that vile stout man had made an attempt on my love’s life I’d felt anger unparalleled to any I’d felt in the past 1000 years, I’d been so tempted to rip his limbs off and then stake him, but that would have been out of my jurisdiction. I was a visiting vampire and therefore the only way I could inflict pain on the man would have been if he had laid a finger on my Ata since It would have been a blood offence: I would have been able to do whatever I wished to the man then.It had been over 300 years since I had seen Felipe de Castro, and I could honestly say that wasn’t long enough. The slimy King was still as horrendous as he had been the last time I had met him. I’d felt my beloved’s unease as he had approached us, and I could feel her disgust. He ignored me as he spoke only to my twice bonded, and I couldn’t keep the irritation out of my system. He may politically be my better but age-wise I am his elder, therefore he should have acknowledged me first.
It had been over 300 years since I had seen Felipe de Castro, and I could honestly say that wasn’t long enough. The slimy King was still as horrendous as he had been the last time I had met him. I’d felt my beloved’s unease as he had approached us, and I could feel her disgust. He ignored me as he spoke only to my twice bonded, and I couldn’t keep the irritation out of my system. He may politically be my better but age-wise I am his elder, therefore he should have acknowledged me first.
The way he spoke to her, saying that she suited a throne, was by far the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. Of course my love suited a throne, she’d practically been born on one. I’d observed him as he’d flared his nostrils, inhaling the scent of my love’s blood and our shared releases from earlier in the evening. I couldn’t stop a smug smile from appearing as I’d noticed the flash of irritation in his eyes. I pushed reassurance to my love through our bond, wanting her to put him in his place. I wouldn’t interrupt or interfere until completely necessary.
As Ata told the story, Felipe rudely interrupted her, once again seeming to pick up on my status during my human years. My love’s anger and irritation were nearly palpable, and I had to push more and more love and comfort through our bond, not only to douse her rising emotions but mine too. That was a downside to a bond; it fanned the flames of the other’s emotions. The moment she had put Felipe back in his place and held out her hand to me I had allowed myself to smile indulgently, he would be a fool to try and take her from me. I was over 1500 years his elder.
Finally, he’d greeted me: Using my 2000-year-old perfected poker face I’d greeted the King politely so as not to show up my beloved. Ata squeezed my hand and then Felipe had the nerve to start questioning my appearance in his territory. I thought the reason for my appearance was rather obvious given that I was holding hands with my woman and she smelt like my blood and our coupling. I answered his questions smoothly and even participated in some light teasing telepathically with my Ata.
The moment he mentioned the party I’d felt the fear and panic shoot through our bond, and it had only doubled the moment Felipe made it perfectly clear I wasn’t invited. If he thought for one minute I would send my love unprotected and unguarded then he had another thing coming. I figured it was time to start calling in some of the favours I had gained over the years. Suddenly my love’s thoughts had started to bombard my mind, she’d been trying to figure out a way to make it obvious to everyone present that she was mine and I couldn’t contain a small smile. She banished the idea of fang marks, paused for a second on jewellery and then finally thought about the marks upon my body. I could feel her determination and resolve. I finally told her telepathically that I didn’t want the marks to be permanent. She seemed shocked at my ability to see what she’d been thinking about, but once coming up with a plausible reason she seemed to settle a little.
My love graciously accepted Felipe’s offer, though I could sense her hesitation and reluctance, she was far too kind-hearted for her own good. Then again, he had pretty much just backed her into a corner, and if there was one thing I could remember from my human life, it was that Ata hated being backed into corners. As Felipe exited the room I heard her sigh in relief and saw her slump into her chair.
“Ladies don’t slouch, Ata. They sit tall and strong, like Amun-Ra upon his throne.” I chided her playfully, trying to replicate the shrill voice of Cleopatra’s Vizier. My love had been forced to attend classes as a child, to prepare her for her future on the throne, and she had dragged me along to many of them.
Ata turned to look at me and laughed. “I’m sorry I made you join me in those classes, they were awful.”
“You know, I still don’t understand how balancing a book on your head helped you become a better ruler.” I mused, genuinely perplexed as to how it would’ve helped her. Soon I was laughing along with my love.
As our laughter subsided, I spoke again. “I think there are some things that you need to explain to me, carissimus. I’ve obviously missed out on a lot.”Once again, my love let out a sigh and nodded. Slipping her heels off she shifted so she was sitting sideways on her throne, throwing her legs over the arm of the chair that was nearest to me. Turning in my own seat to face her, I took in her pale complexion, her beautiful bright blue eyes and her small smile. It honestly still stunned me that she still looked exactly the same as the way she did in my human years.
Once again, my love let out a sigh and nodded. Slipping her heels off she shifted so she was sitting sideways on her throne, throwing her legs over the arm of the chair that was nearest to me. Turning in my own seat to face her, I took in her pale complexion, her beautiful bright blue eyes and her small smile. It honestly still stunned me that she still looked exactly the same as the way she did in my human years.
“Go on then, what would you like to know first?” She started.
“How did you gain the position as Sheriff?”
Taking a deep breath, Ata began the story. “We moved here in 1960, and for two years we rented a small house, but then in 1962 we started to build Caesar’s Palace: We wanted to make Vegas our permanent home. The nightlife was bustling, so we would always be ensured of a steady income, and it also meant that the boys had plenty of people to choose from for their nutrition. Unfortunately, Felipe had come into power in 1955 and was keeping a close eye on his state. The boys checked in with the Sheriff at the time and Felipe summoned them to his house due to their ages. He learnt about me from them and tried to take me himself.” She rolled her eyes at the memory. I couldn’t suppress the low growl at the thought of Felipe with his hands on my beloved. Her affectionate smile soothed the animal inside me, however.
“He granted us permission to start building Caesar’s Palace, using it as a way to make us indebted to him. Of course, at the time he had no idea what I was but I knew exactly what he was after. He sent the Vegas Sheriff after me to try and pry me away from my boys, and in a fit of annoyance and rage, I staked him. Technically I couldn’t take the position because I’m not one of you, however, Felipe spotted an opportunity and gave me the position. Before he learnt to shield his mind from me I found out that he gave me the post because he was worried about how much power I had. His Sheriff had been 600-years-old and I’d taken him down easily. He thought by giving me a position of power it would keep me sweet.” My love tutted and shook her head, her lips curving up in a smirk.
“He can shield his thoughts from you?” I quirked an eyebrow, not entirely sure I had heard her correctly. If Felipe was able to shield his thoughts from my beloved, then it would be difficult to understand what he was after or what game he was playing.
“Yes, as soon as I took over as Sheriff he made me sign a contract that I wouldn’t snoop on his thoughts, or my punishment would be severe torture, he also sought out the help of some voodoo magic woman or something from Los Angeles who helped him to create shields around his mind. He seemed really set on protecting his head from me; it only makes me want to break down his mental shields even more,” she sighed, twirling a strand of her hair around her forefinger.
Leaning over, I took my beloved’s left foot in my hand and started to knead the firm flesh there, rubbing all the tension out of it. Ata’s blissful sigh reached my ears and I couldn’t help but smile. “What about your little trick with the human girl?” I rubbed her foot a little harder and Ata giggled, squirming away. Ah her feet were still somewhat ticklish!
Settling down, I took her other foot and started to rub it. Shutting her eyes, Ata tipped her head back, “When members of the House of Brigant reach their fae maturity, Niall gifts them with two special talents based upon their social circle, location and history. Because I’m the daughter of Cleopatra and Julius, and therefore documents about me exist I was given the ability to ‘glamour’ humans. The ability doesn’t stretch to other Supes because, let’s face it, if they say something about what I am, I can say something about them,” she shrugged.
I found myself rather curious about her unique gift. Of course, it was perfectly suitable for her, not that I expected anything less from the Prince of the Fae. “How does it work, carissimus?” She was silent for a moment, pursing her lips together in contemplation.
She was silent for a moment, pursing her lips together in contemplation. “I guess it’s similar to your glamour. I have to catch their eye, empty out my own mind and then I pull their mind into mine. I can erase parts of their memories, change their thought processes, plant seeds of doubt or ideas into their minds and can get answers from any and all questions. It’s made living for the past 2000 years so much easier, I could spend the day with some stranger and then make them forget all about me,” she told me quietly: I could feel the sadness from our bond. She may have had the company of her boys during the night, but in the daytime she was alone, she’d only had strangers for company, and even then their ‘friendship’ for the day had been fake. Inwardly I cursed myself for being a vampire; I would only get to spend the nights with her. Perhaps her friendship with Miss Stackhouse would do her some good, she’d finally have a true daytime companion.
“What’s the other gift Niall gave you my love?” I stopped rubbing her foot. Instead, I used my vampire speed to lift her from her throne and sit her down on my lap between my legs, her back to my chest. Placing my hands on her shoulders I started to rub them too, slowly removing the tension. Ata turned to putty in my hands, relaxing into my chest.
A small wave of sadness flitted across our bond: I stopped rubbing my love’s shoulders and instead I wrapped my arms around her waist, holding her close to my chest. Nuzzling my nose into her shoulder I pressed a kiss to her body. “What’s the matter, my love?” I asked gently, not wanting to upset her further.
“I don’t know what my other gift is…Niall hasn’t told me and I haven’t discovered it yet. All Niall said was that it involved my light and that it was important, that one day I would need it to save my life. I asked him how I could possibly use this gift if I had no idea what it was and he told me I would know the moment it was needed. He was so damn cryptic about it!” My love explained, the frustration evident in her voice and in our bond.
Rubbing her back in slow circles I pressed a kiss to the hollow behind her ear. “Perhaps you’ll never have to use it, carissimus. I won’t let your life be at risk, I’ll protect you,” I whispered, kissing her earlobe.
“I love you.” I smiled at her declaration.
“I love you too. Now, what are we going to do about Felipe and this party?” I hated to bring up the subject, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that we would have to come up with some sort of game plan if the night was going to go without incident. Not only that, but I was sure my love would want to make it crystal clear to everyone around that she in no way belonged to Felipe. The mention of the King and the party caused Ata to bristle in my arms and it took me another minute to get her settled.
“I have no choice but to go, I’m friends with the King of California and he’ll no doubt be there, I could stay around him a lot,” she suggested. The thought of her staying around another man had my protective instincts on the rise. I didn’t know this vampire; there was no way he was going to be around my Ata. As if she could sense this she started to gently rub my arm reassuringly, “He’s a powerful man, he’ll be able to take care of me.”
“I don’t like this, carissimus. I have a few people in positions of authority who owe me a favour; some of those are in positions even higher than Felipe. Would you allow me to let them escort you for the night?” I asked gently, knowing my beloved adored her independence and sense of leadership; I didn’t want to take that from her.
We sat in silence for a moment until finally, Ata nodded her consent. “I want to be marked as yours in every physical way possible before I leave for the party,” she told me, and I couldn’t stop the feeling of pride and happiness that she wanted the world to know she belonged to me. “I’d like you to feed before I leave for the party, I’d like you to leave your marks behind. I’d also like for us to…” she trailed off, I could feel the embarrassment and shyness in our bond. She was still as beautifully innocent as ever.
“Of course, carissimus. Both of those things are a given. Which of my marks were you thinking of bearing, my love?” I kissed her shoulder blade once more.Grabbing my left arm, my love traced the zigzag marks there. “I want this one,” she whispered, turning to kiss the tattoo, “and I want the sea serpent on your back.” She declared. “I know someone who can replicate them for me; they should last for about two days. We need to call
Grabbing my left arm, my love traced the zigzag marks there. “I want this one,” she whispered, turning to kiss the tattoo, “and I want the sea serpent on your back.” She declared. “I know someone who can replicate them for me; they should last for about two days. We need to call them, though, and get an appointment sorted, the party is Friday and it’s already Monday.” She sighed. “I’m also going to get in contact with the surveillance group who set up the security here, see if I can get my hands on anything small enough to take in with me. I want you, Sookie and Eric locked away here watching at all times, just in case something happens.” She decided and I couldn’t help smile, that was until she mentioned locking me away here. I could understand keeping my Childe and Miss Stackhouse safe but there was no need for me to be here.
“No, my love. I want to be around the perimeter of the party so I can get to you should you be in any trouble. I’m older and far more powerful than any other vampire that will be in attendance, I can keep you safe,” I put my foot down.
Firmly, my love opposed me. “Don’t you dare. You’re staying here and monitoring me from a distance. If Felipe or his guards spot you there they might get the wrong idea and think you’re going to cause trouble. I don’t want you getting into any trouble, I might not be able to get you out of every situation.”
Only Ata would have the guts to tell me what to do: If anyone else even attempted to do so I would rip them apart. My mind was whirling, we were twice bonded and therefore I couldn’t outright lie to her, but thankfully my 2000 years had made me exceptionally good with my words. “Okay, I’ll monitor you from a distance,” I reassured, pressing a chaste kiss to her lips to silence her. I would stick to my promise, but of course, I hadn’t told her from what distance I would be monitoring her.
I would stay outside Felipe’s compound and keep a close eye on her; I didn’t trust Felipe as far as a human could throw him.
Of course, my kiss to silence my beloved didn’t work. I should have known, even in our human years she had been stubborn and infuriating as hell, but I loved her anyway. “I don’t want you getting hurt! Do you have any idea how important you are to me? How long I’ve waited to find you, how much of a struggle the past 2000 years have been for me? And now I have you back and you’re here and you’re well. You are not, under any circumstances, getting anywhere near that party. Do you understand?” She growled, obviously having figured out my strategy.
“Ata, you have to understa-” I started but was cut off by my loves rising voice.
“I thought you were dead! I was told you had truly died! Then you tried to walk out in the sunshine and burn! No, there is no way I am letting you anywhere near Felipe’s party where something could happen to you. He’s not going to hurt me, he wants me as his Queen, why on earth would he hurt someone he wants to rule beside him? He could hurt you, he could use you against me, he could lock you up and damage you. I won’t allow that to happen to you ever again, never ever!” she was practically sobbing in my arms. I could feel her sorrow through our bond, her despair and her guilt. She still felt bad about the fact my Maker hurt me? That she hadn’t been able to get to me in time?
It wasn’t her fault. It was politics. There was nothing she could have done, no one would have helped her save a slave boy. Wrapping my arms around her I held her to my chest as she cried out her pent up emotions. I could feel them slipping away one by one – her sorrow and sadness, her fear and anger, her heartache and sense of loss. Had she been carrying these emotions alone for the past 2000 years? Suddenly I felt bad about giving up on trying to find her. I mean, a hotel called Caesar’s Palace should have been one of the first places I looked into.
I knew I was fighting a losing battle. If I followed she would be angry with me and on edge all evening, yet if I stayed she would feel better yet I would be beside myself with worry. For now, though I would ease her worry and think about it later. My Childe had always been good at strategy and planning, perhaps he would be able to help me come up with some form of a solution, even if it meant sending out guards or a few assassins. Eric still had Reuben on his payroll, didn’t he?
“I promise I won’t go anywhere near his compound during the party.” I relented, knowing it was the only way to salvage our evening. Ata’s tears stopped and her emotions switched. She was now very happy and content, pleased and light-hearted. Pulling back from my chest she turned her head up to me, scattering kisses on the underside of my chin and along my jawline.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!” she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around me to hold me close. Ye Gods, I’d only been back in her company for one night and she already had me wrapped around her little finger!
“There’s a fair downtown this evening, I’d like to show you my city,” Ata whispered, taking my hands with hers and lacing our fingers together. Last night had been about reacquainting ourselves with one another physically, remembering one another, reassuring each other that we were both alive and had finally found our way back to one another. This evening though I would get to see first-hand my love’s new life, the things that made her happy, made her smile. We would start creating new memories, together.
“I would love for you to show me around. First I think you should change out of this beautiful dress, though, or I’ll be forced to fight every man who looks at you,” I purred in her ear, running my hands slowly down her arms. She shivered under my touch and nodded, automatically rising to her feet and pulling me up with her, a large grin plastered on her beautiful face. Together we ran to the elevator and I purposefully ran at a human’s speed, relishing in our simple human-like playfulness. Right then we weren’t a faery and a vampire, nor were we a Queen and a slave boy, we were just two people. Two ordinary people.