You have my heart and we’ll never be worlds apart, may be in magazines but you’ll still be my star
Baby cause in the dark you can’t see shiny cars, and that’s when you need me there, with you I’ll always share
Because when the sun shines, we’ll shine together, told you I’ll be here forever
Said I’ll always be a friend, took an oath I’ma stick it out till the end
Now that it’s raining more than ever, know that we’ll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella, you can stand under my umbrella
These fancy things will never come in between, you’re part of my entity, here for infinity
When the war has took its part, when the world has dealt its cards, if the hand is hard, together we’ll mend your heart
~ Umbrella, Rihanna
Back in the penthouse, I stood, silently cursing myself as I picked out my clothes for the evening. Although Vegas was always considerably warm, the temperature did drop a few degrees overnight, and the last thing I wanted to do was to get caught out without warm enough clothing. Although my beautiful other half would no doubt give me his clothes if I did get too cold, I knew he wouldn’t wear much anyway. Damn vampires and their inability to feel the cold.
Felipe was obviously going to prove to be a problem, and the last thing I wanted was to fall out with the monarch of the state I resided in. It wasn’t like he could leave me alone to run my area anyway; unfortunately, his base was here in the city. Wonderful. Sighing quietly, I ran different scenarios through my head for the night of the party. Of course, I would wear something conservative, falling at least to my knees and my cleavage would be hidden from sight. I would allow the dress to be backless, though, so I would be able to showcase the replica of my ancient vampire’s back tattoo. That, at least, should inform the elders present as to whom I belong to.
The thought of belonging to someone had always irked me: I wasn’t property that could be bought and sold, and I couldn’t be traded like fucking Pokémon cards. However, I understood that to survive in the vampire world I had to accept being claimed as somebody’s, or I wouldn’t be at all. In the past, it had always been Khai claiming me as his in front of others, but for the first time in 2000 years I would get to showcase who I truly belonged to, and it was already frightening the hell out of me.
Felipe had made it painfully obvious that Godric wasn’t welcome to the party, and that had instinctively put me on my guard. It was for those in political power only, which meant that I would only be able to take Ari with me: As my second in command he would be expected to be there, so he would be able to escort me and watch out for me. We had become so used to reading one another’s minds that our emotions were clear to one another all the time, so at least Ari would be aware of my irritation if I was to endure a night on Felipe’s arm.
No, my main concern was Godric’s safety, and subsequently that of Eric and Sookie. Of course, our male vampires would be able to take care of themselves easily, since they were both older than the monarch. It was my fae cousin I was the most worried about. Should Felipe sink his fangs into her, it would be a bloody struggle to get her back – literally. The last thing my cousin needed while learning to control her abilities was another crazy monarch after her blood. I laughed quietly as I remembered the memories I had picked up from Sookie’s mind the first night we met. Sophie-Ann, William, Russell and potentially Felipe all wanted or had wanted, her. I could sympathise with her.
Dragging myself from my negative thoughts, I pulled on a pair of jeans and a light pink jumper before placing my phone, keys and purse into my small clutch bag. I slipped on a pair of kitten heeled Jimmy Choo’s and trotted out of my bedroom to the living room, where my beloved ancient vampire sat waiting for me. “You look wonderful, carissimus.” His sincerity flooded our bond and I couldn’t stop the blush that flushed my usually pale cheeks. After living for over 2000 years, very little could make me blush anymore, yet my wonderful mate had done so with the simplest of compliments.
I felt an intrusion in my brain at that moment, and my first instinct was to kick them out, however, the moment I heard their ‘voice’ I stopped and listened. “Ata, it’s Sookie. Eric’s Childe, Pam, is going to be arriving in about three hours and I was wondering if you could send someone to the airport to meet her? She’s about 5’7” but with her shoes she’ll most likely be about 6’1 and she’s got long blonde hair and blue eyes.” Sookie pushed a mental image of this Pam to my mind.
“I’ll send Agmund and Riei to go and get her and bring her back to the penthouse, don’t worry. Enjoy your evening, I want to know EVERYTHING when we have breakfast!” I grinned, snapping out of my little trance-like daze. Instead, I focused on Ari’s mind downstairs in the main entrance of the lobby and conveyed the information to him. Once my conversation was over, my eyes refocused on Godric, whose head was tipped sideways as he observed me.
“Were you just talking to someone?” he inquired, leaning in closer out of curiosity.
I nodded my head and grabbed a hair band from the living room table and went to tie up my hair. “Yeah, Sookie. Her telepathy isn’t advanced enough yet for me to speak with her and act like nothing is happening. I then told Ari about her message, something about Pam visiting and needing to be collected from the airport,” I explained. Telepathy was a strange thing. My boys and Godric had been granted it immediately because of their connection with me; we could all speak freely with one another.
Due to my cousin’s young age and her recent advances with her telepathy, such as her shields, it made open communication between us very difficult. I had spent centuries crafting my shields, mentally preparing them and shaping them so only the voices of my family could enter freely. I could, of course, shut them out but I rarely did. I often thought of my mind being surrounded by a huge iron wall – iron to stop other faeries from prancing on in – and there were two doors. One door only I could open and close, this one kept out the general masses of voices and allowed me some sanity. The other door could be opened and closed by my close vampire circle and myself; this was the one that was usually kept open.
With a slight gust of wind, Godric was before me, taking the hair band from me and shaking his head. “Please, leave it down,” he asked quietly, taking my blonde hair in his hands and arranging it over my shoulders. “I don’t like other vampires being able to see your neck, to see the creamy skin there: It’s mine,” he murmured as he leant forward to bury his nose in the crook of my neck, inhaling my scent as the tell-tale click of his fangs met my ears. Of course, my heart rate picked up, not out of fear but out of anticipation, and my teasing vampire licked along my jugular before dropping a kiss just below my earlobe and pulled back, rearranging my hair to hide the trail he had just sniffed along. My disappointment must have been strong as Godric chuckled at me. “I do not need anymore, carissimus. I fed last night and this evening, I do not think I’ve fed two nights in a row like that in the last four centuries,” he stated with an affectionate smile.
Unable to help myself, I cupped his adolescent face with my hands. “I want you to take from me every night. Ah, no arguing!” I moved one hand over his mouth as he made to argue with me. For my efforts, I was rewarded with the feel of the flat front of his fangs scraping against the palm of my hand. I held back a moan at the sensation of those two lethal points caressing my skin.
I shook my head, “You looked so ill and off-colour when I first saw you, then after you took sustenance from me, you had this pink glow to you,” I moved my hand from his mouth back to the side of his face, “it reminded me of when we used to race as children and you’d fake being all out of breath and ask me to wait, only to overtake me and beat me to the finish line. It showed how healthy you were and how full of life you were: I want you to have that colouring back.” I pinched his cheek gently like you would a cute child, and I received a playful glare in return.
“Even if you only take a few little drops I don’t care; we fae are quick healers. Granted, not as quick as vampires, but we’re still quick, and as desperate and needy as it sounds, I want to be the only one to provide you with what you need,” I declared, feeling ever so slightly pathetic. Since when had I become so needy? I guess knowing he’d fed from others for over 2000 years made me want to be the only one to provide for him now. Society had told us that it was a man’s duty to provide for his woman, but I’d always thought that was a load of rubbish anyway: I liked being able to provide for my man.
Taking my hands from his face, he kissed both of my palms, once again gently dragging the flat front of his fangs across the surface of my skin. “I will not take blood and carnal pleasures from anyone other than you, do not worry about that my love,” He reassured me, and I felt a wave of affection take me over. I admired how soft and gentle and aware of my emotions Godric was with me, yet the moment that vile man had tried to harm me downstairs he’d shifted entirely, taking on his vampire persona. I found it devastatingly attractive. Yes, his sweetness was beautiful and endearing, but seeing him change like that, to a powerful and vicious being, had stirred up my deeper and much darker emotions, my need to be ravished and claimed, to have my love take whatever carnal desires he wants in any way possible, to absolutely ruin me for other men. Up against a wall would be a good place to start, maybe followed by my desk in the office downstairs or the hood of my car…
As if he was aware of these deeper and darker desires his lips quirked upwards into a smirk and one eyebrow rose. He’d retracted his fangs by now, and his actions looked so human at that moment. My blush deepened, and before he could say anything I grabbed his hand and dragged him towards the elevator. “Come on, unfortunately, we only have a few more hours before the fair closes for the night,” I pointed out, using the fair as a distraction. Godric’s chuckle echoed in my eardrums as we entered the elevator.
Standing so close together, I was very aware of my earlier thoughts, and unfortunately, once one idea entered my mind, so did countless others. The sound of fangs clicking down broke the silence and moments later I found myself pinned to the wall of the elevator, one very amorous vampire holding me in place. Dragging his nose along my jawline, Godric paused by my ear, “Those thoughts weren’t very pure, my darling,” he purred, nibbling on my earlobe. I felt my knees weaken beneath me, yet my strong vampire kept me upright.
“How do you know what I was thinking?” I squeaked, failing miserably at trying to contain my obvious excitement at our current position. I’d always been one for strong men; it was quite a turn on.
He never answered my question; instead his lips met mine in a feverish kiss at the same time as numerous different sexual encounters flooded my mind, none of which were from my own imagination. Godric swallowed my moans as the mental pictures bombarded me, and just as I was about to curl my tongue around one of his fangs the elevator came to a sudden stop, having reached the ground floor. Using the speed his immortally had given him, he was off me in a second, his fangs back in place and his clothes perfectly unruffled. I, on the other hand, was a hot mess. As the doors slid back to reveal the lobby my vampire stepped out perfectly unruffled, it took me a moment of adjusting my clothing and fluffing my hair before I felt acceptable enough to step out and join him.
I took Godric’s hand the moment we emerged into the night. For the first few centuries while my boys were building up their strength I had been frightened of the night, frightened of venturing out with them, as they would have been easy to take down. Now, however, I relished the night knowing nothing could touch me. However, I took Godric’s hand for a completely different reason, not as a need for safety, but as a comfort measure, a public show of affection.
The fair was being held downtown in Heritage Park. I’d walked the distance before when I’d been in need of thinking time and space; however, it usually took me an hour and a quarter. We didn’t have that kind of time this evening so we would get a taxi. Thankfully a few taxis were always waiting outside my hotel and casino, so I quickly selected one and gently tugged Godric in the direction of the vehicle. “Heritage Park, please,” I asked the driver through his open window, and with a nod of his head, I clambered into the back seat, letting go of Godric’s hand as he followed behind me.
“I don’t think I’ve been to a fair since the 1700’s,” Godric mused aloud. I smiled; the thought of my vampire at a fairground was highly amusing. “I went to find someone to provide sustenance, though. Not for fun. Looking so young has its advantages,” He added, flashing me a large grin.
Shaking my head, I giggled, “Well there’s a first time for everything then!” Taking one of Godric’s hands in my own, I turned my attention out the window of the taxi, watching as the city I called my home slowly crept past me. Traffic meant we weren’t travelling at a fast speed, but when you have all eternity why rush?
I felt the seat shift beneath me, and Godric’s cool body made contact with my side. “What do you know about that building there?” His low voice reverberated against my eardrum as he raised a finger on his free hand to point towards The Venetian, his other hand still clasped firmly in mine. It warmed me to know that he was showing an interest in the city I had lived in for the past few decades. I’d intended to tell him all about the city, show him everything it had to offer, but I didn’t think he would initiate the conversation. I had a feeling that he possibly already knew the answer, yet he was giving me a chance to share my opinions and my knowledge with him. It only made me love him more.
“That’s The Venetian, my favourite hotel on the strip, bar my own of course. It was opened in 1999 and is inspired by the art and architecture of Venice.” I couldn’t help my wistful sigh as I recalled the years I had spent living there. True, the smell had been horrendous in those days, but it was still, after my home city of Alexandria in Egypt, my favourite place in the whole world. Perhaps I’d manage to convince Godric to go with me one day. I still had the glass blowing business there and I hadn’t checked in for a while, not to mention the fact that I wanted so badly to take him on a gondola.
“We’ll go back there, once we’ve dealt with all of the issues arising here,” Godric’s husky voice whispered into my ear. “We’ll go to Venice together, and anywhere else in the world you want to go. We’ll explore isolated places and live off the land like we said we would when we were children. I promise you,” he murmured, pressing an affectionate kiss to my temple. Having him know whenever I was thinking of him, and what I was thinking of regarding him, would take an awful lot of getting used to.
“What about that building there?” He continued, pointing towards the Stratosphere. I remembered the first time I had ever looked out across the whole of Las Vegas from their observation deck. I had been one of the first in the world to stand at the top when the tower had opened in 1996. It had been then that I had realised that, while nothing would ever replace Alexandria, Vegas felt like home.
Since faking my death, I’d seldom been home. I’d avoided the country because of the memories attached to it; I’d even avoided Rome. Perhaps, after Venice, Godric and I could carry on to Rome and stand inside the colosseum. Although it had been built long after my father’s time, it was part of Rome’s history, and therefore a part of me. Maybe we could even carry on to Alexandria afterwards, and even after that go on to the coast of Belgium so my love could return to his own homeland.
A small tinge of longing crept through our bond and looking sideways at my vampire a look that could only be described as melancholy had settled on his face, especially around his eyes. “I’d like to go back home, I’d like to show you where I spent the first few years of my human life,” he shared, giving my hand a gentle squeeze. Unsure what to say, I gave a gentle smile before turning back to look out the window. Stratosphere was now in the distance: I divulged some of its history anyway.
“Stratosphere is the tallest observation tower and the 9th tallest freestanding structure in the US. It’s also the tallest structure in Vegas. It was opened in 1996 and it has two observation decks, a revolving restaurant and four rides. It’s the one monument you see on all the TV shows and in the opening credits, like CSI for example,” I explained, happy to share my knowledge with my beloved. I was a sucker for daytime TV, as there was little I could do really without my boys around. CSI had become my favourite, especially when they had asked to film in my hotel!
The taxi came to a slow stop as my explanation ended, pulling up in front of Heritage Park. The whole area was illuminated with thousands of little lights and numerous rides and stalls covered the grassy area. Letting go of my loves hand, I reached into my clutch bag and handed the driver the fare, telling him to keep the change. Godric was first out and, ever the gentleman, he offered me his hand when I started to exit the taxi too. Clearly, chivalry isn’t dead.
As I took his hand and exited the cab, Godric tightened his hold on me, pulling me closer to him in a protective manner. I wasn’t going to run off without him, so I couldn’t understand why he had such a hold on me, but I felt safe nonetheless.
The fair consisted of several large rides, ranging from the funhouse to the Helter Skelter and carousels to bumper cars. There were also rows upon rows of side stalls and games with food vans dotted throughout. The sight and smell of the food vans caused my stomach to growl loudly: The last meal I’d had was a few hours back, and even then, the salmon and crackers hadn’t been that much. “You’re hungry, my love. Come, let me get you some food,” Godric insisted, pulling me towards one of the food vans. There was little in the way of filling food but anything was better than nothing. Standing in front of the van, I saw the frown on Godric’s features as he observed the selection. “There is little of nutritional value here,” he pointed out, “I don’t know what you’d want.”
Rising onto my tiptoes so I could speak to the woman in the vehicle, I let go of Godric’s hand so I could hold onto the counter. The woman gave me a kind smile. “What can I get for ye young lassy?”
Licking my lips, I gestured to the cotton candy machine. “One cotton candy on a stick, please,” I asked in my sweetest voice, acting up. I wanted no one to know how old I was this evening, nor how old Godric was, I wanted us to be treated like any young human couple spending a night together. Now vampires were out of the coffin there was no need for Godric to hide his true identity, but humans were funny creatures and still treated vampires differently. I didn’t want him to be treated differently.
“What’s a ‘cotton candy’ my love?” Godric asked quietly, frowning once again as the woman set to work making my order before she handed me a stick of the sugary goodness. I handed her the exact amount I owed her and thanked her profusely.
Taking Godric’s hand in my free one, I moved us out of the line-up, heading in the direction of the side stalls before explaining exactly what the pink fluff on the cardboard tube was. “In Australia they call this faery floss, you know? It’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s basically sugar whipped in the air and it turns into this cloud-like texture. It’s really yummy but rather sticky,” I laughed, taking a small bite of the sweet treat.
We’d come to a stop in front of a coconut shy where a boy of around twelve was trying to win a toy for his younger sister. “What does cotton candy taste like?” Godric asked suddenly, leaning in to sniff my treat.
Taking another bite, I made sure I left some of the sugar on my lips and quickly leant in to close the gap between us, pressing my lips to his in a chaste kiss. His tongue darted out, licking the sticky substance from my lips; a moan of appreciation fled his throat. “Again.” He asked as he pulled away. Once again, I took another mouthful, leaving some on my lips, and once again Godric leant forward, tasting the sugar.
Laughing as I swallowed my mouthful, Godric licked his lips clean before smiling broadly. “You’re right, it’s sweet and sticky. It’s good. You’ll have to eat lots of different things so I can taste them all,” he declared as I took another bite of cotton candy.
Shaking my head, I swallowed my mouthful before laughing lightly, “No way Mister, I’m not getting fat!” I protested playfully.
“I’ll help you burn off the calories after,” He shot back quickly with a far from innocent smirk and wink. Feeling my cheeks flush the same colour as my cotton candy, I finished off my treat and threw the stick into the nearby trashcan.
My attention was drawn to the two children playing the game. “That’s all my pocket money gone and I didn’t win you a teddy bear, I’m sorry,” the boy was apologising to his sister who looked like she was going to cry. Before any tears could fall from the little girl’s eyes I took my hand out of Godric’s and pulled a $10 bill from my pocket and slid it across to the man behind the stall. “For the young boy,” I told him quietly, stepping back to watch as the man gave the young boy and his sister more balls to throw. The girl stopped sniffling and the boy turned to look around, his eyes meeting mine and he beamed happily before turning his attention back to the stall. I stood beside Godric, taking his hand back in mine as we watched the young boy win his little sister a teddy bear after three more goes. As the stall owner handed the boy his teddy he passed it straight on to his sister who clutched it tightly to her chest, burying her nose into its fur.
The stall owner gave the boy the change and soon both he and his sister were running over to Godric and me.
The boy stopped before us, glancing between us, his gaze lingering on Godric a little longer than me. There was no denying that the boy knew what Godric was, yet he gave him the same brilliant smile he had given me earlier. Slowly, the boy held his hand up to me, the change from the $10 I had put down resting on his palm. “Thank you, Miss. Here’s your change.”
“You keep it, you and your sister go and buy some candy with it,” I told him. The boy wrapped his fingers around the change before shoving it into his pocket, his little sister close to his side. “Thank you again, Miss,” He thanked me politely, his little sister looking up at both Godric and me.
“Fank you Miss,” The little girl squeaked, holding her teddy to her as if she was frightened it would run off. “Where’s your teddy bear?” she asked me, frowning as she took in my lack of cuddly toy.
“I don’t have one sweetie.”
She turned to face Godric; completely unafraid of the fact he was a vampire. “Are you her boyfriend?”
Shocked that the little girl was unfazed by him, it took a split second for Godric to gather himself and respond. “Yes, I am,” he told her with a nod, giving my hand a gentle squeeze.
“Then you need to win her a teddy bear,” The little girl pushed, giving a firm nod of her head. I couldn’t stop my small laugh at the sight of this very young human girl scolding my ancient vampire.
“Jade! George!” A woman’s voice was shouting from the crowd. The young boy grabbed his sister’s hand and started to tug her away, thanking us once more as they ran towards the woman who welcomed them with open arms, gasping and cooing over the teddy bear. I couldn’t hear the conversation that occurred but the woman looked over at us and gave a small nod of thanks. I returned the gesture before watching them leave.
“My good deed for the day. Now, win me that teddy bear,” I teased, giving my vampire a light shove. Grabbing both of my wrists Godric chuckled and pulled me towards him before planting a tender kiss on my lips. Pulling back, he started to lead me towards another stall, throwing his arm around my shoulder in a very human-like gesture.
For two hours we played on the stalls, eating sweet and sugary foods and winning countless teddy bears. Godric and I both agreed that I would keep two, the largest and the fluffiest, and give the rest to some of the children at the fair that hadn’t won anything. Seeing their little faces light up as I handed them cuddly toys was wonderful, something so simple brought such joy to them and it made me sad to think about how short their lives would be. I donated a large chunk of profits each year to countless charities in and around the Vegas area to help those in need. Given their relatively short lifespan, I wanted to make things as pleasant as possible for them.
Stopping in front of a hit-the-bell, high striker stall I rolled my eyes. Godric’s young appearance, yet immense strength would no doubt surprise the stall owner until he could work out that he wasn’t entirely human. I sat down on the bench to watch as Godric paid the man, grabbed the hammer and prepared himself to strike.
It was then I felt a sudden shooting pain run through my system and I instantaneously doubled over, wailing at the sensation as it ripped through me.
Dropping the hammer Godric was before me in a flash, concern and worry written all over his face and in his stance as he grabbed my face, pulling my head up gently. “What’s the matter?” he asked frantically, pushing soothing emotions through our bond. I tried to send them back, knowing that he could feel my pain as if it were his own but to no avail.
“Ari, he’s in trouble, he’s been hurt,” I wheezed. “We need to get back,” I added quietly, the sudden sharp feeling having subsided a little, but I could still feel Ari’s pain. Grabbing my teddy bears, Godric hauled me up into his arms effortlessly and took off at vampire speed toward Caesars Palace, leaving behind a very surprised stall owner.
Dashing down the Strip, we were a blur as Godric moved quickly, his 2000 years giving him a speed advantage over nearly every other vampire in America. Slowing down as we approached my hotel and casino, we witnessed the chaos. Godric went to put me down but I found myself unable to stand without his support as I took in the devastating damage.
The whole front entrance of my home was in ruins, huge chunks of marble scattered across the parking lot out front, dozens of cars crushed with the weight of the rock. The beautiful hand carved marble statues were blown to smithereens, and hundreds of people were crowded outside, dressed to the nines, having fled the building. The marble cover over the drop-off zone had fallen, crushing cars and trapping people beneath it, and of the glass windows and doors had been blown out. Khai was by my side quickly, his smart suit ripped and torn in places, blood and grime covering his usually clear and pale skin.
“What happened?” I demanded, tears already streaming down my face as I took in the disarray.
“A bomb went off in the lobby, Ata. That’s all I know right now,” he responded quietly as the sound of sirens heading in our direction met our ears.
Handing him my teddy bears, I never took my eyes from the front of my livelihood. “Please take these up to the penthouse for me, I don’t want to get them dirty. Ari is in pain and I need to find him. As soon as you’re done please come down and help the humans, we can’t risk losing lives, it’s not something I want on my watch,” I instructed. With a nod Khai took my toys and disappeared. Heading towards the rubble I started to haul smaller pieces of marble away, freeing a few injured people as I worked. Godric was by my side straightaway, putting his inhuman strength to good use as he hauled the larger pieces away to free more people.
“Ari!” I shouted out, scanning the crowds. I couldn’t sense him out here; I needed to get to him. I could feel his emotions, he was in so much pain and he was so angry! Scrabbling over the mountains of rock, I worked my way into the lobby and the moment I caught sight of my once flawless and beautiful entrance hall I crumbled, falling to my knees as sobs racked through me.
I felt two pairs of strong arms haul me up and onto my feet, my eyes remained shut as I sobbed. “Ata, listen, go and find Ari. Take Sookie with you,” came the distinct Nordic voice. Opening my eyes, I nodded at Eric who’s face held a mixture of both concern and anger. He had helped haul me off the dirty floor, and his suit was now a mess. Looking to my right, my own vampire’s face was etched with the same emotions as Eric’s. Godric held me tightly, pressing a reassuring kiss to my temple before pushing his love and reassurance through our bond. Looking forward, I saw my cousin, her blonde hair was messy and the outfit I had given her was ripped in numerous places. It was irrelevant right now. Sookie took hold of me when the two ancient vampires let me go and steadied me before leading me through the marble ruins of my home.