Ethereal Redemption Chapter 28

Watch out you might get what you’re after, cool babies, strange but not a stranger. I’m an ordinary guy.
Burning down the house.
Hold tight, wait till the parties over. Hold tight, we’re in for nasty weather. There has got to be a way.
Burning down the house.
Here’s your ticket pack your bag, time for jumpin’ overboard. Transportation is here, close enough but not too far, maybe you know where you are.
Fightin’ fire with fire.
~ Burning Down The House, The Used

Taking Eric’s arm, I contemplated where I wanted to go next. “Eric, can we go shopping?” I asked quietly, remembering that I wanted to buy Pam a new pair of Manolo shoes. Shock flooded our bond and Eric stopped walking, thus causing me to halt.

“You want to go shopping? Who are you and what have you done to Sookie Stackhouse?” He quirked an eyebrow, looking at me with an odd expression painted on his beautiful face.

Gently tugging his arm, I laughed at his expression as we continued our walk towards the glass elevator that would take us out of the restaurant. “I want to buy a few things. All I brought with me were Wal-Mart sundresses and, although I love them I don’t think they really fit in here, especially given the sort of clothes my cousin wears,“ I pointed out, gesturing to the dress and heels I had on. I didn’t even want to think about the jewellery!

“You’re going to let me buy you things this evening?” My Viking grinned, obviously still pleased with my suggestion. I felt cruel to have to burst his bubble but I still wasn’t completely okay with him buying me lots of expensive things.

“Remember that I said inexpensive things, Eric. I mean it. I still have some money left over from Dallas that I’m going to use.” I declared, not wanting to argue with my Viking. Entering the elevator, we hit the button for the ground floor.

“I think I’ll buy you a pair of pretty shoes first, Jimmy Choo’s would look incredible on you.” My old vampire mused, and I could almost see the cogs turning in his head. Groaning internally at all the possible ideas my vampire was probably having I shook my head: The lift came to a stop as it reached the ground floor.

“Well a shoe shop it is then, I need to buy a new pair of shoes for Pam anyway,” I informed Eric calmly as we left the lift, moving towards our limo, which was waiting for us.

Opening the door for me, Eric’s frown returned to his features. “Why on earth are you going to buy Pam a pair of shoes, lover?” He asked me as I slipped into the car. Eric joined me seconds later and closed the door behind him.

Ignoring his question for a moment I leant forward towards the driver, “Can you take us to the best place to shop for expensive and pretty things, please?” I asked the middle-aged man, who smiled at me in the rear-view mirror and nodded his head before pulling out into traffic. Returning my attention back to Eric, I took my seat beside him. “Well I don’t like arguing with her, I want to smooth things over with her and I know that she loves shoes,” I shrugged, seeing no flaw in my plan.

“Sookie, you do not need to buy Pam a pair of shoes to make her like you. If I tell her to be nice she will,” Eric’s stern voice filled the space and I snorted at his approach to the problem.

“Eric, I want Pam to like me because she wants to, not because she has to. We both know she’s really not an emotional person, so a girly chat isn’t going to cut it. A pair of shoes though and she’ll be happy, right?” I argued. Although I didn’t want our wonderful evening ruined by a disagreement, I wanted Eric to see my view on the matter and that I wasn’t going to let this go. I wanted Pam to like me. Life was easier when she wasn’t screaming insults at people, regarding me, whose minds I could read. Plus, it wasn’t really fair to Eric. Like it or not, Pam was his Childe and I was his girlfriend, I didn’t want him to have to choose between us.

Eric’s silence was uncomfortable but I refused to back down: I guess in that sense Eric and I were both well suited, we are both unbelievably stubborn. Sticking my chin out defiantly I attempted to stare down my vampire. Finally, Eric relented. “Okay, fine. I can see that I’m not going to win this, but I don’t want you buying her a ridiculously expensive pair! She’s in the doghouse still for trying to blow you up,” he pointed out, raising a finger to point in my direction as if it would help prove his point.

Rolling my eyes, I struggled to keep the smile off my lips. Eric could be so dense. “What if Godric were the one who offered to be shot, and you were the one standing by, watching it happen?” I tried to make him understand why Pam had acted the way she had. Eric bristled at the mention of Godric being hurt, his jaw clenching. “She’s your Childe, Eric. She loves you and was trying to protect you. If I had been in her position I would’ve done the same. Why on earth did you think your death would ensure my survival anyway? I need you alive,” I told him gently, approaching the subject with caution. We hadn’t spoken about his sudden desire to meet the truth death, and I was unsure if it was a sore topic for him.

I could feel the surprise, guilt and a tinge of fear through the bond, Eric’s jaw unclenched. “You would have blown up someone to ensure my survival? Someone I cared deeply for?” he shook his head. “The moment Compton agreed I felt an urge to agree also, I didn’t want you to think for a moment that I didn’t love you, that I hadn’t meant what I told you on the sofa the night before. I would have happily met my true death right there and then if it meant being able to show you just how much I love you,” he told me, his cerulean eyes meeting mine.

I felt the lump forming in my throat and swallowed to clear it, refusing to shed any more tears. He was fine and we were in the back of a limo in Vegas, together, having just had a wonderful meal, which was all that was important. “I would do anything to ensure your survival, you know that,” I told him quietly, moving from my seat to straddle his lap in a rather unladylike manner, I couldn’t care less, though. Taking his face between my hands I rested my forehead on his and shut my eyes. “I would have never thought that you hadn’t meant your words: You say so little, therefore everything you do say is obviously important. Now, we have all eternity for you to show me how much you love me,” I whispered, knowing full well my Viking’s hearing would pick up my words. Opening my eyes, I brushed my lips against his in a feather-light kiss.

“All eternity?” He whispered back, the frown reappearing as he absorbed my words. Raising a hand, I gently swept my thumb across the frown marks, smoothing them out and relaxing his face.

“Don’t you remember Ata’s words last night? The fae live for around 2500 years without their mate, and indefinitely once they have them. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re my mate, therefore you’re stuck with me for an awfully long time, okay?” I smiled, pressing a kiss to my Viking’s nose.

His arms, which were wrapped around my body, tightened a little as he held me close as he turned his head a little to bury his nose in the crook of my neck. “That’s fine by me, I could have all the time in the world and it still wouldn’t be enough,” he murmured against my skin, kissing my neck as the limo slowed to a stop. I climbed off Eric’s lap as the chauffeur opened the door. Eric held his hand out for mine once he was standing on the sidewalk. I took it graciously, and stepping out, found myself tipping my head back to look up, and up, and up some more. My goodness, this shopping mall was huge!

“I’ll wait in the parking lot for you, enjoy your shopping,” the driver informed us before getting back in the car and pulling away from the drop-off zone.

Entering Fashion Show, I was bowled over with the choice of stores inside; it was certainly the kind of place I could see Pam and Ata shopping in. Dillards, Macy’s, Saks and Nordstrom all had huge stores here. Honestly, I felt a little overwhelmed.

Giving my hand a gentle squeeze, Eric flashed me his perfect smile before heading towards Nordstrom’s. “We’ll start here and get Pam’s gift out of the way, then I want to spoil you a little, lover,” he purred as we entered. We weren’t exactly dressed for shopping; however, I felt like I belonged there, and judging by the number of shopping assistants rushing to aid us, we obviously looked like we had the money to be there. I’d always known Eric had some spare cash kicking around, but I’d never asked him how much, as I always figured it was a bit of a rude and personal question. Besides, I loved him whether he was rich or not.

I sighed as we moved together to the shoe department: I felt lost; I had no idea about anything to do with shoes. A pretty brunette assistant all but bounded over to us. “Hi, my name’s Claire, and I’ll be more than happy to help you this evening. Is there anything, in particular, you’re looking for?” She asked me, sparing a quick glance at Eric and doing a double take before remembering her manners and looking back to me. I couldn’t blame the poor girl, my Viking looked utterly delicious in his suit.

“Umm, I’m looking for Manolo’s?” I tried, hoping I’d pronounced the name correctly. Grinning happily, the woman started to lead us towards a large section of the shoe area, talking and gesturing to different designs as she went.

“Are they for you?” she asked, dropping her gaze to my feet. Thankfully Ata had provided me with a pair of Manolo’s, and I swear I spotted the shop assistant give a small nod of approval.

“No, they’re for…a friend,” I bit my lip, completely unsure as to what to call Pam. Calling her my boyfriend’s daughter would have just been comical, but I highly doubted that Pam would approve.

“Okay, what kind of things does she like?” the shop assistant continued.

Looking up to Eric, I attempted puppy dog eyes, wanting his help. His deep chuckle sounded out as he took the reins. “Pastel colours, girly, the higher the heel the better. She’s a US size 7,” he responded smoothly, flashing the assistant a devastating smile. I swore I could see her swooning.

With a nod of her head, she disappeared off in search of some shoes for us. Shaking my head, I turned to Eric and gave his arm a playful swat. “You need to stop doing that!” I chided playfully.

He tried to give me a ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ innocent look, but I wasn’t buying it. He shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know what you mean,” he protested playfully.

“Making women melt into puddles at your feet, you wouldn’t like me when I get all jealous,” I prodded his muscular arm, internally swooning at the feel of his marble skin and strong muscles under my hand.

Grabbing my hands, my Viking pulled me flush against his firm physique, “Hmmm, a jealous Sookie, I think I might like that. You’d get to claim me afterwards,” he waggled his eyebrows in his usual manner. Standing on my tiptoes I gave him a chaste kiss as the shop assistant returned with several boxes of shoes in her arms.

“Okay, I’ve brought you a selection to choose from,” she beamed, gesturing to the plush seats off to one side. Sliding myself onto one, I couldn’t contain a giggle at the sight of my mighty warrior trying to get his large frame into an average sized chair. The shop assistant was trying to hide her smile as she laid all the boxes out before me, removing the lids to show me the contents of each. There was a pair of 3½-inch golden open toe pumps, a pair of 3½-inch pale pink pumps, a pair of white 3½-inch lace pumps, and a pair of pale pink 4-inch pumps. The moment I spotted the last pair I fell in love, knowing Pam would adore them. Gesturing to the pair, I couldn’t stop my smile, “Those, they’re perfect!” I beamed to the shop assistant who looked relieved that I’d liked one of her selection.

“I’ll put these behind the counter for you, is there anything else I can help you with today?” she asked as she replaced the lids on all of the shoeboxes.

I was about to tell her that was all when I was cut off. “Do you have Jimmy Choo’s, by any chance?” Eric spoke up, the excitement clear in his voice as he grinned at me. I raised a finger in warning to him but his grin only widened.

The pretty brunette watched our exchange and, from the corner of my eye, I could see her amusement. “Why yes, we do. What kind of thing were you looking for Sir?”

“Apparently, there’s a new one called the ‘Vamp’ sandal. Shall we start there? US size 7 once again, please,” he turned his smile to the shop assistant who nodded eagerly and pranced off to get the shoes.

“Eric, no. I told you, inexpensive. Jimmy Choo is ridiculously expensive!” I protested firmly, almost stomping my feet like a three-year-old who wasn’t getting her way.

His cerulean orbs found mine and he held my gaze, a slow smile crossing his lips. “I want to treat you this evening, lover. Let me shower you with gifts this evening because it’ll make me happy, and then I promise to be good,” he offered, throwing in a small wink. Although I was annoyed with him for trying to buy me expensive shoes that, although I would probably really want, I didn’t really need, I couldn’t deny that I did want my Viking vampire to be happy. I’m sure the name ‘Vamp’ sandals were a joke he was no doubt enjoying anyway.

For a moment I contemplated seeking council with Ata. She’d lived her life surrounded by rich men who would have wanted to shower her with gifts. Her words from earlier rung in my ears, though, ‘He likes seeing you in nice things and thinks you deserve that after the way others treated you as you were growing up.’ I couldn’t deny her logic, I was completely in love with the outfit I was wearing at the moment and I felt far away from the ‘Crazy Sookie’ that the locals of Bon Temps knew and liked to torment. Perhaps this could be a better version of me, an upgrade. Owning a few nice bits surely wouldn’t be a bad thing…

My thoughts were interrupted as the shop assistant returned, a large golden box in her hands. With a shit-eating grin, she opened the box with a flourish and I couldn’t stop the tiny gasp as I took in the beautiful shimmering heels nestled inside the delicate gold tissue paper. They were champagne coloured with crisscrossed straps over the front, the heel was at least 4¾-inches tall and there was even a 1-inch platform to it. I loved it. I may not have even tried them on yet, but I was in love with them.

I didn’t dare turn around to look at Eric; I could feel the smugness and the happiness pouring through our bond. “We’ll take them.” Eric declared, obviously having felt my absolute adoration of the beautiful shoes.

“Eric…“ I went to protest. but my vampire raised a hand to silence me.

“Remember, I’m allowed to spoil you this evening,” he pointed out, his own shit eating grin perfectly in place. Sighing, I nodded in acknowledgement, allowing him to have his way. The shop assistant took both of our items to the cash register and started to ring them up. I had a tiny disagreement with Eric regarding Pam’s shoes. I could afford them with the leftover money from Dallas, but Eric, being Eric, was insisting on letting him pay for them. I told him that it was my gift for Pam and therefore it was my money that I wanted to spend. Eric then pointed out it was technically his money anyway as he had paid me himself for the Dallas trip. Eventually, though he let me have my way and with both of our purchases in hand, we left Nordstrom’s.

“Dillards now, lover,” Eric insisted, leading me into the store. Once again shop assistants pounced on us. Eventually one of them led us to a spacious private changing room and Eric informed the assistant of my size, surprising me with the fact he knew that much, and the woman disappeared off to gather some clothes. She returned several minutes later with her arms full of clothing. I groaned internally at the sight of all the expensive clothes but the look of happiness and glee on Eric’s face was beautiful, so I reined in my emotions to ensure his happy mood lasted.

For an hour I tried on different clothes and eventually I had a rather large pile. I had 5 dresses, 2 pairs of pants, and 4 tops.

I didn’t even want to know the prices of them all, I made a point of not looking at the labels and then showing every item of clothing to Eric for his approval or disapproval. His happiness and glee were still radiating through our bond, and he seemed to enjoy my little fashion show. Gran would be rolling in her grave if she knew a man was buying me expensive clothes like a kept woman, heck even I was struggling with it a little. If it would make my ancient vampire happy though I would go with it.

Loaded up with even more bags we left the shop, unable to hold hands due to the amount we were each carrying. “One last stop, lover,” Eric informed me.

As we rounded the corner, the Tiffany and Co. sign came into view, “Eric, no. No. No jewellery. No gold, no diamonds, no platinum. Honestly,” I protested, not willing to give up on this. It was one thing for a man to buy a woman clothes – after all, you need them to survive – but diamonds and gold were another thing entirely.

I watched as Eric’s face fell a little, though he was quick to cover it up. “But diamonds would look so good on you.” He argued.

Sighing I shook my head, “Maybe so, Eric, but please don’t, not now.”

“You allowed me to buy you clothes, why won’t you let me buy you diamonds?” He asked, the curiosity in his voice not covering up the underlying hurt. I felt a pang of guilt that Eric no doubt picked up on as he quickly evened out his tone. “Diamonds should be worn by women like you,” He argued on.

“Eric, please. Not tonight. I still feel a little funny accepting all of this from you,” I pointed out gently, raising my handfuls of bags up a little.

“But I’m your twice bonded, it’s my job to provide for you,” he added, his mouth settling into a frown as he stood over me.

“And you have, Eric. I need clothes but I don’t need diamonds. Yes, I like diamonds, what girl doesn’t, but I don’t need them. Thank you, though. It’s sweet of you to want to buy them for me,” I remembered my manners, knowing it wouldn’t exactly soften the blow, but it would let Eric know that I appreciated him and his need to care for me.

“Will you let me buy them for you one day?” he asked, obviously noting that he wasn’t going to win this debate.

There was no way this debate was going to end unless one of us created some form of truce, and this seemed the right moment. I wouldn’t mention diamonds or jewellery to him ever again in a desperate hope that he would forget my next words. “Yes, if you want to,” I resigned.

His face once again lit up and I could feel his glee and anticipation through the bond. Cheese and rice! Shaking my head, something I seemed to be doing a lot of lately, I allowed my Viking to lead us back to the limo.

As we were stashing our shopping in the back of the limo Eric’s head snapped sideways, his eyes wide and his body tense. “We need to get back! Now!” He yelled. Turning to the driver, he told him to drive back to Caesar’s Palace without us and stay with the car when he arrived. Before I could understand completely what was going on Eric had me in his arms and had shot off into the night sky, my face buried in his chest to stop the wind from battering it.

There was no denying Vegas was beautiful at night, but I was too busy trying not to scream at the sensation of flying. In the distance, I could hear screams and shouts, and slowly I raised my head from Eric’s chest and looked down at Vegas. I gulped as the streets shot past us and then I raised my head in the direction of the ruckus. A large smoke cloud was high in the sky, and people were all gathered outside one of the hotels. If I squinted, I could make out the name Caesar’s Palace. Shit.

The moment we touched down Eric put me on my feet and held me as I regained my balance. My mouth ran dry as I took in the pure chaos around me, people clambering over chunks of marble to escape the ruins, other people trapped beneath the rock. Screams and shouts met my eardrums and the sounds of sirens in the distance were barely registered by my brain.

“ARI!” I heard Ata shout and moments later I saw her blonde head disappear behind a wall of marble. Eric had vanished from my side but it was easy to spot the 6’4” Viking amongst the crowd. He was helping Godric shift a particularly large chunk of marble that had squashed a vintage car. I cringed at the thought of how much that car had probably cost. “Sookie, come on,” Eric’s voice cut through the noise, shaking me out of my daze as he held out his hand for me. Taking it, I scrambled over the rocks, slipping a few times on the shiny surface and tearing Ata’s beautiful dress on the jagged corners. I immediately felt bad but given the circumstances, she probably wouldn’t blame me. My clothes always seemed to get ruined around vampires anyway, I doubted Ata’s wardrobe was safe from them anyway.

We found our way into what had once been the beautiful entrance hall and I couldn’t help but gasp at the damage that had been done. All of the glass from the windows and doors had been blown out, parts of the beautiful hand painted ceiling had collapsed, trapping people beneath it, the hand carved statues in the middle of the lobby had been blown to smithereens and pieces of the statues were scattered all over the room, there were huge cracks in the marble floor and the water from the fountain was spurting out in all directions.

What I hadn’t been prepared for was the sight of my cousin, down on her knees on the dirty marble floor, her blonde hair matted and her hands grubby and bloody, she was sobbing her heart out and it tore me apart. This was her home, her income, and it was in ruins. I could relate, when the maenad had ruined my family home I had been devastated. Thankfully, my wonderful Viking had restored it to its former glory, better than it had ever been.

Eric and Godric were blurs as they sped past me, both gently grasping Ata and lifting her to her feet. She was shaky: I moved to stand before her to block her view of her ruined home. Of course, I’d expected such an act of kindness from Godric, they were bonded after all, but to see Eric help her up off the floor and support her while she tried to calm herself made me flush with pride and gratitude.

“Ata, listen, go and find Ari. Take Sookie with you,” Eric ordered her gently, brushing her blonde hair from her face. Her eyelids slid back and I was struck by the pain and loss shining in my cousin’s eyes. I wanted to cry right along with her, but this wasn’t the time for it: I needed to be strong for her. She nodded at Eric, accepting the tender kiss from Godric before she took in my tattered outfit. It was irrelevant to her now, I could gather that much. Gently I took her hands in my own, the two ancient vampires either side of her, both with expressions of deep-set anger and worry, slowly releasing her.

I had no idea where Ari would be, but I prayed that Ata would be able to find him. “He’s somewhere in here,” she rasped, letting go of one of my hands to furiously wipe away her tears. Moving to a pile of marble she started to tug and shove the boulder out of the way. Joining her, we both managed to move the piece but found no one underneath it. “ARI!” Ata’s pained shout sounded out once again, her eyes frantically moving around the room as a sudden loud banging sound rang out. Gasping, Ata moved with speed I didn’t think anyone other than vampires could possess and stopped before a large piece of marble ceiling. A hand was poking out of the ruins, the fingers moving in a desperate plea to grab attention. Ata rapidly grabbed the hand. “Ari! I have you! Hang on!” She cried, never once letting go of her companion’s hand as she started to shove and kick the boulder away, ruining her shoes. Aiding her, we finally managed to free the rock only to be greeted with the sight of a badly hurt Egyptian vampire.

Ata’s free hand slammed over her mouth to stifle her scream, and I felt like I was going to be physically sick. I’d seen some pretty disgusting things ever since I’d been thrown into the supernatural world, but witnessing the bone of his skull peeking out from the ripped and peeled back skin that usually covered it, really was the cherry on top. Underneath the Egyptian’s body was another, a naked man, and for the life of me, I found it strange that he had shielded a nudist. “Who’s the man?” I asked quickly, as Ata called out for Godric or Eric to help us.

Both arrived at our sides’ seconds later, fangs down, and together they carefully moved Ari from his current position to another, where he was spread out on a flat piece of marble. He was too weak; without blood, he wasn’t going to make it. As if sensing that she could lose her companion Ata grabbed a shard of glass from the floor, slicing her wrist before holding it over Ari’s mouth, whispering encouraging words to him.

Godric’s angry growl shrouded every other sound in the room as he took note of Ata feeding the other vampire. Wasn’t it some sort of offence for a claimed human to share their blood with another? “Shut up! Without it, he’ll die and I am not losing him!” Ata snapped at him, her once gentle eyes containing a sharp edge to them: I could see the 2000-year-old survivor. With her free hand, she brushed Ari’s bangs back, soothing him as he fed. The colour was starting to return to him, and the wound on his head was starting to knit itself back together.

Eric roughly grabbed the man who had been beneath Ari and turned him over, his eyes falling to the mark on the man’s back. His hiss drew my attention and I watched as both he and Godric exchanged a knowing glance. The two seemed to be mentally fighting over something for a moment before Eric handed the man to Godric, who held him tightly to the ground. Crouching down, Eric spoke to Ari who by now was lazily licking Ata’s wound shut. “What happened?”

Clearing his throat, the Egyptian took a deep unnecessary breath before responding. “I could smell silver azide. I went to check out what it was when I heard an explosion go off in the casino. The Were was running out of the casino so I stopped him, pinning him to the ground. He was really strong I’ll give him that. Then the second explosion went off in here and I was stuck on top of the dog. He tried to take a few swipes at me but he didn’t get lucky.” He wheezed.

“He blew up my casino as well?” my cousin’s lower lip wobbled and I knew it would only be seconds before more tears would fall. Grabbing her I pulled her into a cuddle, holding her to me as she once again broke down.

“Operation Werewolf?” I mouthed at Eric over Ata’s head. His solemn nod confirmed my worst fears. Russell had found us.

“Do you have anywhere we can keep it?” Godric spat in disgust, holding the man up by the scruff of his neck.

“Basement, we have some holding cells,” Ari flinched as he pulled himself upright. He still looked terrible but at least the hole in his head was considerably smaller. Gently he peeled Ata from my arms and I felt the need to pull her back to me, to offer comfort to her, but I figured she wanted the familiarity of her guardian. Seated in his lap she buried her head in his chest, her arms locked around him as she held him close. I could hear Godric’s low growl yet he kept his rage in check, clearly, my cousin was in need of reassurance that Ari was still around and was okay. Once all of this had died down, though, I could see the two of them locking horns over the fact she allowed another to drink from her.

In a flash Godric was gone, taking with him the badly beaten Were. I assumed he was going to the basement. Eric offered his hand to me and I took it as I rose to my feet, sighing at the sorry state of us all, and of the building. “What do we do now?” I asked quietly, looking down to my cousin who was still crying in Ari’s arms, the ancient vampire was slowly rocking her backwards and forwards like she was a frightened child. Right then she actually did look like a frightened little girl, and I was reminded suddenly of my experience with Uncle Bartlett, how frightened I’d been of him and how my Gran had chased him off before holding me as I sobbed, telling her all about his thoughts and his inappropriate actions.

Ever the strategist, Eric had a response for everything and his reply snapped me out of my terrible nightmare. “We clean up this mess, get rescue and repair crews in place, we double security and then we find every way possible to protect ourselves against Russell. I need you to train harder and for longer each day. I know it’s a lot to ask of you lover, but I need to know you can take care of yourself should he manage to get you. If he could do this to Ata’s home, rip out a man’s spine on TV and kill the Magister, then I fear it’s not safe for any of us.”

Godric was back with us by now: He wore a mask of calm, yet I could see the war waging on in his pale eyes. “Rescue crews are pulling people out of the rubble out front, they’re going to start working in here once we’re out,” he told us before crouching down next to his bonded and Ari; I had to give him credit for remaining calm and collected around Ari given that he had just had a taste of what in the vampire world was considered Godric’s property, and had actually just committed a blood offence. If my memory of past conversations served me well, Godric was well within his rights to rip Ari to shreds right now, yet his love for my cousin caused him to rein himself in and be a better man. “Ata, my love, we need to get out of the lobby and back outside,” he told her gently, sweeping her blonde locks out of the way. I saw her nod slowly and start to rise to her feet.

Helping her stay steady, Godric and I led her over the piles of marble and down onto the cracked floor. Eric helped Ari down, keeping a hold on the ancient vampire who was hissing with pain every other step. It seemed his exposed skull wasn’t the only injury he had sustained.

When we got back outside I felt like I could breathe again and I took in huge gulps of air, clearing my system of all the dust particles I had been breathing in for the past ten minutes. A paramedic ran over to us, bags of blood in his hands, which he passed on to the vampires present in our group. Ari was about to bite into one of the bags when I heard a whoosh and felt a burst of air across my skin. The bag in Ari’s hand was gone, and in its place was Khai’s wrist, already punctured and bleeding. “Take from me, brother. It’ll help heal you faster,” he insisted, handing the bag to Eric who tore into it and drained the contents.

Usually, I’d feel funny about Eric drinking donor blood, blood that wasn’t mine. Okay, so he didn’t have his fangs buried in some other human but it was damn near close enough. This evening, however, my jealousy and usual discomfort with the situation had vanished. He needed the blood; there was no doubt about it. Hundreds of humans were trapped beneath the chunks of marble and they would all need rescuing. Only the vampires would be able to shift the marble pieces easily, so I knew my Viking would need all the strength he could get. Godric too was tearing into bags of donor blood.

“I leave you alone for two days and all hell breaks loose. You’re having all the fun without me, that’s so not fair.” Came the drawl I knew oh so well.

Perfect timing as always, Pam.


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