Ethereal Redemption Chapter 33

GODRIC’S POV
Dragged ya down below, down to the devil’s show, to be his guest forever, peace of mind is less than never
Hate to twist your mind but God ain’t on your side, an old acquaintance severed, burn the world your last endeavor
Flesh is burning; you can smell it in the air, ’cause men like you have such an easy soul to steal
So stand in line while they ink numbers in your head, you’re now a slave until the end of time here
Nothing stops the madness, turning, haunting, yearning, pull the trigger
You should have known the price of evil and it hurts to know that you belong here, yeah
Ooh, it’s your fuckin’ nightmare
~ Nightmare, Avenged Sevenfold

I was pleasantly surprised that the room was pitch black the moment my eyelids slid back. Ata had left the bedside lamp on the night before, and while the thought was sweet, the light had hurt my eyes for a moment before my vision had adjusted. What was an unpleasant surprise was the lack of my mates’ warm body beside me; instead lay the cool body of my Childe.

Eric’s eyes opened moments after mine did, and I watched as his bright blue eyes focused on me. With three rapid blinks, he was suddenly alert and offered me a smile as a greeting. “Our women seem to mother us,” Eric commented, noting the sheet that had been pulled up to our chests.

“My woman mothers us, Eric,” I corrected him, not entirely sure how much I wanted to reveal to him about my experience during the day.

“Will you elaborate?” My curious Childe asked. His curiosity caused me to smile, true I had turned him because of his skill on the battlefield and his lust for life, but he had also been world-savvy, eager to learn, and curious. I couldn’t have asked for a better Childe.

“During our day rest I felt an extremely large amount of love flood my bond with Ata, it was enough to rouse me,” I explained, frowning slightly in contemplation. If Ata could rouse me from my day rest then should a potentially harmful situation come up I would be able to seek shelter elsewhere. Whilst I hadn’t tried to move from my position on the bed it was still a useful advantage. I could feel Eric’s shock in the bond, and the look on his face was priceless. Very little could surprise Eric and I these days. “I wasn’t completely with it, it was as if my eyes and my brain were functioning but nothing else was. It was rather strange,” I continued.

“That’s impossible, though. Do you think I would be able to wake in the day too?” Eric’s eyes lit up at the thought. While we could fight the pull of the sun, it gave us the bleeds and once we had succumbed to it there was no way we could rise until sunset. It was indeed a strange and rather unique situation.

“Perhaps, my Childe, only time will tell, but back to the reason why I mentioned it: I watched as Ata sat beside you, she spoke to you, thanked you for taking care of Miss Stackhouse and then pressed a kiss to your temple,” I informed him, watching his physical reaction and his emotional one closely. Eric had mastered the ability to cloak his emotions on his features around strangers, but around myself, Pamela, and Sookie he let his guard down. We were allowed to see the real Eric Northman.

Shock, curiosity and a tinge of worry came through our bond yet the only thing visible on my Childe’s face was a small frown. I couldn’t understand the worry, was he worried that Sookie would be upset about it? Did he think I would be angry about it? If anything, I was happy that Ata was so fond of Eric, he was in need of a female role model. I could see her helping him with his queries regarding Miss Stackhouse, too. Of course, Eric had Pam, and she was a wonderful help at times, but she would never be able to understand human females properly.

Raising a hand to his temple, Eric wiped at the skin before holding his fingers under his nose, inhaling deeply. “I can smell her, you’re right,” he commented quietly.

“You know that I would never lie to you, my son,” I reassured him, leaning over to give his cheek an affectionate stroke. I removed my hand as I heard two heartbeats approaching. It was no surprise that the bedroom door was flung open a moment later and the excited faces of both fae women appeared. “Good evening, ladies,” I greeted, sitting up slowly to watch as they crossed over to the bed, climbing up to join Eric and me. As I sat up, so did Eric and as soon as Sookie was close enough, my Childe pulled her onto his lap, planting a passionate kiss upon her lips

Gently grasping Ata’s hands in my own I pulled her onto my lap as well, wrapping her up in my arms and holding her close before dropping a chaste kiss to the top of her head. Eric may have mastered the art of hiding his emotions from the world, but he felt so much, more strongly than others of our kind, even more so than myself, so when he did let his emotions flow freely, such as his love for Sookie, it was indeed a spectacle.

“What did you do today, lover?” My Childe asked his mate, holding her body close to his as he brushed her hair out of her face.

“Ata and I met with some construction guys and discussed the new lobby and casino before we went to the secret room and trained for a little while. We took a break though and Ata answered some of my questions regarding the fae and blood bonds…” Sookie explained, her eyes narrowing in Eric’s direction. “You never mentioned that being bonded three times was effectively marriage,” she accused him.

Eric’s eyes widened and he seemed to struggle to find words as Sookie scrutinised him. I could feel his inner turmoil and I had to admit that I was impressed with the fact a young fae woman could cause my mighty Viking Childe to clam up. “I..urm…I was…” he spluttered, running one hand wildly through his messy hair as he shot me a glance, silently begging for help.

As much as I loved to see Eric squirm it was unfair for such a personal conversation to be raised with others present. “Perhaps you could discuss the issue of bonds with Eric later, Miss Stackhouse? I’m curious as to what you’ve learnt today,” I smoothly changed the subject, fighting off my urge to pin Ata down to the bed and ravish her. She knew full well what emotions she was stirring up in me as she gently stroked her fingertips over the blue ink across my chest.

Sookie frowned for a moment, obviously displeased with the fact I was moving the conversation to another subject. However, her Southern manners stopped her from complaining. Instead, she latched onto the new topic, “We were toppling heavy objects, large wooden and metal crates. We started with towers of two and I was able to move those. However, the towers of three were a little more difficult and I couldn’t get them to budge.” I could hear the sadness and disappointment in Sookie’s voice and it was truly a terrible thing. She was just starting to learn to use her powers, and she was already beating herself up about it.

“Lover, you’ve only just gained your powers, no one expects you to get everything right the first time. I do believe there is a saying that practice makes perfect, is there not?” Eric consoled her, verbally stating everything I had been thinking.

“I know, but someone tried to blow this place up yesterday. If I can’t even knock over three crates then I can’t defend myself, or you!” She sighed, clearly frustrated with herself and the situation.

“Lover, there is no need for you to defend me should we end up in a fight. I’m over a thousand years old, and a Viking, there are very few who can harm me,” Eric pointed out proudly. However, his statement was ever so slightly flawed. Edgington was nearly three times Eric’s age and he would no doubt want to cause my Childe some harm. Even I wouldn’t be a match for Edgington, he had nearly a thousand years on me.

“I’d like for Sook to start learning how to attack people this evening. We’ve worked on toppling large objects, dream infiltration, and dealing with people’s emotions. While those are useful skills to have, they won’t get her out of a sticky situation. We were just waiting for you to wake up as we’re in need of a large moving target,” my mate grinned at Eric, batting her eyelashes.

“You want me to hurt Eric?” Sookie squealed, a look of pure horror on her face as she rounded on her cousin, her eyes wide in surprise and shock.

“You seem to have forgotten my previous words, lover. There are very few who can harm me,” Eric reiterated, with a smug smile.

“But Ata said the gold light to attack could seriously hurt or even kill!” She exclaimed, her head whipping back to look at Eric, silently pleading with her eyes for him to protest against her practising.

“Sook, your powers aren’t strong enough yet to kill. You may be able to harm Eric a little but then at least you’d be able to practice with your healing light. Two birds and one stone,” Ata explained with a shrug. I could feel Eric’s resolve with the situation, he wanted Sookie to practice and my mate did too. In all honesty, I wanted her to practice as well; it would be good for her to be able to stand her own ground. Eric had been through far worse in his time, both as a human and as a vampire.

“I’ll be fine, lover. Trust me.” Eric rubbed her arm, offering her a gentle smile and another heated kiss.

“Guys, you can do that later. We need to go down and see to the werewolf before starting some more training. We didn’t go down and deal with the dog because, well, we didn’t want to have you missing out on all the fun,” my mate practically purred, a mischievous sparkle to her blue eyes.

“You said we were just going to get information out of him, Ata. You said I’d have to read him for you,” Sookie pointed out, raising an eyebrow in question.

“My methods of information extraction are, different,” my mate declared, fluttering her eyelashes at Sookie.

“You can’t hurt him! That isn’t fair!” she started to protest, her eyes wide and panic filled at the new information.

“Sookie, he set off bombs in Ata’s home and business, he tried to take blood from Ari as he was injured. She has every right to hurt him because he has hurt her,” Eric explained calmly, trying to make Sookie understand.

“Just because he hurt you doesn’t mean you should hurt him back, two wrongs don’t make a right!” Sookie further protested. I could feel both Eric’s and Ata’s patience wearing thin. Using that as my cue I once again stepped in to diffuse the situation.

“Miss Stackhouse, while we all respect your good Southern upbringing and the morals it instilled in you, you must remember that we are all deep inside the supernatural world and the way things are done is much different. While it might be difficult for you to accept right away, we wish for you to understand that such a crime as the one the wolf committed will not go unpunished,” I explained, hoping to sway the young fae to our way of thinking. If she was going to survive in the supernatural world, she was going to need to toughen up a little as far as justice was concerned.

With a petulant pout, Sookie relented a little. From her expression, it was apparent that she wasn’t keen on the idea but she was outnumbered “Well whatever you decide to do to him, I don’t want to be there to witness it, okay?” She compromised.

With a nod, we all agreed and Ata climbed off my lap and wandered towards the door. “I want both of you boys up and dressed within the next five minutes. Meet us in the living room,” she ordered, motioning over her shoulder for Sookie to join her. The young fae climbed from Eric’s lap, but only after planting another kiss on his lips, and then followed her cousin out of the room.

Once Sookie made sure the door was closed behind them, Eric and I got out of the bed. “You always did like to prey on the innocent,” I teased my Childe, a smile flickering across my features.

“She’s different, Godric,” Eric responded. His expression was blank, yet his words carried a heavy weight to them. I was aware of how dear Sookie was to my Childe; I could feel the love he had for her. It was one of the reasons I asked her to take care of him on the hotel roof, I knew she wouldn’t leave him be to dwell in his negative emotions, and she would be able to heal him. Even though I was still on this earth, I could see her healing Eric. I’d taught him all those years ago to shut off his emotions. While he had survived, it had made him cold and empty inside. Sookie had taught him how to feel, how to open up to people, and because of that my Childe was reacquainting himself with his human emotions, his reasons for living a full life were piling up.

“I know. I must admit I was quite surprised when I first found out you were in love with her. It’s beautiful, my Childe, and I’m proud of you for embracing your human emotions once again. I regret making you rid yourself of them completely,” I expressed solemnly, offering Eric a small smile. I could feel how much my words had affected him, through our bond I could detect his happiness, his affection towards Sookie and myself, and I could also feel a tinge of contentment. I had known for a while that he was seeking my approval and that he needed some form of self-esteem boost from me. Eric was naturally quite cocky, however, underneath it all lay insecurities: Insecurities he tried to hide from the world.

The night I had been rescued from the Fellowship he had prepared an AB- human for me, he’d been trying to show me how much he cared and that I was needed in his life. He’d gone out of his way to try and make me happy. It hadn’t been necessary, but he had still done it. I’d chosen my Childe well and yes, I was very proud of him

“I worry that our world will corrupt her and she’ll run from it all, either that or I’ll do something to upset her and she’ll run from me. I couldn’t stand it if she ran from me,” my Childe whispered, the fear evident in his voice. It was times like these, when we were together, that we allowed ourselves to be stripped of the façades we put on in front of other vampires. The bond between Maker and Childe was unbelievably strong, especially between Eric and I.

Moving to the wardrobe, I pulled out my clothes for the evening, a pair of light grey cotton pants and a dark grey t-shirt. It wasn’t exactly the most colourful combination, but it was the comfiest. “Miss Stackhouse won’t run from you, Eric. She’s had plenty of opportunities to do so, yet she hasn’t. I do believe you’ll be stuck with one another for quite some time. Speaking of our world, however, she’ll have to get used to the idea that she cannot look at it through rose tinted glasses. It is what it is, and I only hope that Ata’s presence in her life will help ease her transition. Apparently, during difficult times, women seek comfort from women who understand their situation. At least that’s what Isabelle once told me anyway,” I responded with a shrug, not understanding the ways in which women worked.

The silence from my Childe was troubling, but I could soon sense a feeling of determination from him. I could only guess that he was telling himself that he needed to help Sookie’s transition into our world also, rather than having her rely solely on her cousin. He vamped from the room a moment later to change, giving me a moment by myself to adjust my t-shirt, check my reflection in the mirror and then head out into the living room.

The sight that greeted my eyes was perfect, my immediate and extended family all in one room together. Ata and Sookie sat beside one another on one of the sofas. Ari and Khai were on the floor at their feet, and the four of them were locked deep in conversation. Egor and Agmund were on guard by the lift doors, as usual. However, they were sharing a conversation with Eric who had changed into his usual dark jeans and a tight black t-shirt. The elation and cheerfulness radiating from my Childe were infectious, and I could make out their conversation; they were reminiscing about their human days together. Pam sat on the other sofa, chatting avidly with Riei and Oeri about the latest fashion trends and the closest shopping mall. It was the first time I had ever witnessed Pam visibly happy and holding a conversation where she was required to speak frequently. Pam was usually a woman of few words.

I took a moment to observe everyone and the way they were all getting along with one another. My enhanced hearing enabled me to dip into conversations and grasp the subjects at hand. It was a strange feeling to know everyone in the room meant something to me, for so long I had been by myself, and then it had been Eric and me. We had travelled the world together, and I had taught him everything I knew, just as I had promised. It had been lonely, though, just the two of us. However, the whole room was filled with our new family, and that thought alone reminded me that we’d deal with whatever Russell threw our way, or whatever Felipe had planned. We were a team.

Moving through the room, I wormed my way into Ata’s group and sat on the arm of the sofa beside Ata. They were discussing the new renovation ideas and the meeting the girls had been to this morning. “I told him I wanted it all in gold’s and creams with a huge mural of Rome painted on the ceiling and a massive chandelier with lots of crystals and diamonds. He asked me if I wanted marble again and I was tempted to say no, but I know how much you love polishing it all for me so I agreed to it,” Ata informed her children, fluttering her eyelashes. I watched as their expressions went from ecstatic to grumpy.

“Thanks for that,” Khai grumbled as Ari shook his head.

“No problem! Anyway,” she turned to face me, acknowledging my presence before looking towards Sookie and then back to her boys, “We need to go and interrogate the wolf. I’d be grateful if you could start clearing out the casino or continue talking to insurance companies or whatever,” she sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose as she recalled all of the work yet to be done.

“It’ll all be sorted for you by the end of the night, don’t worry Amisi,” Ari informed my mate, rising to his feet with his brother before both pressed soft kisses to Ata’s forehead. Rather than offering the same show of affection to Sookie, and risking a very angry Eric, they instead bowed low before her before venturing from the room.

“Amisi?” Sookie questioned.

“It’s Egyptian, it means flower,” I answered her before Ata could. My love turned to me, offering me a warm smile before Sookie had her full attention once more.

“They gave me the nickname over millennia ago and it stuck,” she explained, rising to her feet and crossing over to the other sofa. “Riei, Oeri, why don’t you go shopping with Pamela tonight? I’m sure she’d love to see Vegas all lit up and experience of our designer stores.” I could spot her forced smile in Pam’s direction and it didn’t take a genius to work out Pam’s smile in response was forced too. The illusion of a perfectly happy family was temporarily shattered.

“What a wonderful idea, you really must try on the new Prada dress, it would look wonderful with your hair colour!” Riei exclaimed, missing the tension between the two women. I could feel the underlying need for Ata to get Pam out of her house for the night, yet I couldn’t understand why. Ata had been known to hold a grudge during my human years, but surely after living for over two thousand years, she’d learnt to let go of things. Besides, Pam had never done anything to her personally apart from her little stunt last night, and my mate had firmly put her in her place. Perhaps I would need to have a conversation with both women, the last thing any of us needed during this high-tension time was for two key members of the group to fall out with one another.

Pam rose to her feet, Riei and Oeri following her actions. “Don’t stay out too late, we‘ll need to come back together and discuss the information we gather from the werewolf,” Ata informed the trio before waving them off as they disappeared into the elevator, but not before Eric handed Pam his Amex. Sensing that everyone was departing for the evening, Ari and Khai joined them in the elevator. Sookie, Eric, Ata, Egor, Agmund and I were left in the penthouse.

Casting my eyes around the room once more, I spotted a large vase of red roses in the middle of the table, gemstones decorating the centres of them. “Your boys brought you flowers this morning, Carissimus?” I quizzed, looking over to my mate. Her body language was rather stiff, and it put me on alert. Her back was ramrod straight, her shoulders tense, eyes wide and her lips pressed into a tight line. Since I didn’t receive an answer, I moved to the pretty arrangement, spotting a card next to it. Picking up the card my eyes flickered across the writing.

Miss Caesar,

I am deeply saddened to hear about the horrendous events of last night and the damage done to your home and business. I hope that the damage can be repaired quickly. If there is anything I can help you with, be it financially or emotionally, then please do not hesitate to contact me. You know I am always here for you, even in this difficult time. 

~ Felipe

Throwing the card back onto the table I let out a deep growl, my fangs snapping down in anger. “He dares to think you would go to him for anything! Does he not understand that we are twice bonded?” I spat, whipping around to observe the few remaining people in the room.

Ata darted to my side, an expression of both fear and worry on her face and in her bearing as she approached me. Her fear wasn’t there because of me, was it? “Cridio, it’s okay, I’d never go to him for anything and you know that. I love you,” she reminded me, cautiously resting her palm against my cheek, the contrast of her warm hand against my cold skin was blissful and soothed me. “Retract them, he’s not worth your anger. If it would make you happy I’ll throw them out,” she whispered gently, rubbing her thumb over my cheekbone. Struggling with myself, I felt a huge wave of reassurance and calm come over me, both from Ata and Eric. Giving my Childe a thankful look I returned my gaze to Ata, sliding my fangs back into place before grabbing her roughly, pulling her against my body and clamping my arms around her.

“Get rid of them, I’ll buy you better flowers. You’re mine,” I growled out, more to reassure myself than anything else.

“I’m yours. Now let me go, you might not need air but I do,” Ata said, her sweet laughter met my ears, and with a sheepish smile I let her go.

“Right, we need to go down and get some information from the wolf. Egor, Agmund, can you come with us please and stay outside the cell door? The last thing I want is for it to somehow get past us all and return to whoever sent it,” my love ordered. Both vampires nodded their consent and Ata turned to Eric, offering him a warm smile, “Before we dish out the punishment, would you be able to take Sookie out of the room and bring her back up here please?” She asked, wanting to prevent Sookie from seeing too much.

“Of course,” My Childe responded happily, offering his hand to Sookie who took it. In one fluid movement, Eric pulled Sookie to his side and stepped into the now empty elevator. Ata and I followed them, with Egor and Agmund entering last and standing closest to the doors, sheltering us behind them. The doors slid shut and we made the silent journey down to the basement.

I had been down to the basement the night before, so the layout and the décor was something I already had knowledge of. Egor and Agmund stepped out first, allowing the rest of us to follow them. Ata took charge once more, leading us all through what I now fondly thought of as ‘The Throne Room.’ Eric and I were silent; we had been to so many homes belonging to the rich, the famous, and the noble that the room wasn’t a shock to our systems. Sookie, on the other hand, seemed at a loss. “You have a huge room with thrones in? And I thought Eric was bad because he has a throne in Fangtasia!” She exclaimed, eyes wide as she took in the red walls and carpet, the golden drapes and tapestries and the two gold and red thrones sitting on the raised platform at the far end.

“You forget that I’m Sheriff of the area, Sook and that I was a Queen. A throne is a necessity, just like it’s a necessity for Eric to have one,” my mate explained to her cousin with a gentle smile. “I conduct business down here, so everything has to be fancy and expensive. Vampires are proud creatures, enchanted by riches and wealth, and strong believers in politics and hierarchy. You have to play the game if you want to get anywhere in their world,” she continued as she moved to a door at the side of the room: It led to the cells I’d thrown the dog into the night before and it had taken me a moment to locate them at the time. Thankfully, my sense of smell had helped me.

Pulling the door open Ata stepped inside, motioning for all of us to join her. “Stand guard outside, please” she told Egor and Agmund, who took positions on either side of the entrance, their backs poker straight and their faces the picture of concentration. The four of us took the steps down into the dungeon area; rows of cells lined one wall and in the one at the far end sat the werewolf, silver chains around his wrists and ankles. Three werewolf guards stood outside the cell, and as we approached they nodded curtly, excusing themselves before leaving.

Ata grasped the bars in her hands, placing her face between the silver bars. Eric and I were able to smell the silver content of the poles and therefore kept our hands to ourselves. “Rise and shine!” Ata chirped in a high-pitched voice, causing all of those with sensitive hearing, including myself, to flinch at the sound. “You’re going to tell me everything you know or I’ll end your miserable little life, okay?” She continued with a smile, batting her eyelashes.

Raising his head, he locked eyes with my love. “Fuck you,” he spat.

“Oh, you won’t be doing that my dear, I’m not into bestiality,” Ata responded coolly. Taking a key from the far wall, and two sets of gloves, she moved to the cell, unlocking it and throwing the door open wide so we could all enter before handing Eric and me a pair of gloves each, which we quickly pulled on.

“You fuck dead’uns instead. Necrophilia ain’t pretty on ya,” he hissed, fighting against his chains to try and get closer to us.

“I’m surprised you even know what necrophilia is if I’m honest,” Ata mused, taking a dig at the creature’s intelligence before she pursed her lips together. “Sook, will you listen in for me?” she turned to her cousin, quirking a perfectly shaped eyebrow. Sookie had placed a fair amount of distance between herself and the dog, and I couldn’t blame her for it, the man was a savage. That was saying something coming from me, considering that for more than half my existence I too had been a savage, and I was proudly known as Death. With a quick nod, Sookie agreed.

“Wonderful,” Ata purred, turning to look back at our prisoner. With cat-like grace she stepped forward into his line of sight, “Who sent you?” she demanded. Straight to the point, it was a trait I admired in people. It was another reason why I had turned Eric; he wasn’t one to pussyfoot around.

“The Kings,” he responded with a sneer.

“Plural? How many kings?” Eric demanded, taking a step forward to flank Ata. I took up position at her other side, the three of us blocking any chance of an escape.

“I can’t tell you that,” the animal growled, fighting against his chains once again. Ata turned to her cousin.

“He’s telling the truth, there’s a blank spot there,” she frowned.

“The half-natured cannot be glamoured, Miss Stackhouse. Are you sure it’s a blank spot?” I questioned, frowning at the concept. No werewolves or shape-shifters had ever been glamoured before as it was impossible, their minds were far too complex.

“Of course, I’m sure. I’m not lying!” Sookie’s angry response rang out through the cells.

“Godric wasn’t suggesting you were, Sookie, he just wanted you to double check. We need to make sure all the information we receive is accurate so we can plan accordingly,” my Childe stepped in smoothly to defuse the situation.

Sookie visibly relaxed at his words. “Sorry, carry on,” she mumbled, focusing her eyes on the wolf hoping, I assumed, to get a better read on him.

“You’re brand, whose pack are you from?” Eric enquired; his tone of voice was even, yet I could feel his underlying anger. We were well aware of the fact the brand represented a member of Russell’s pack; this would be a test of the creature’s honesty.

“Edgington,” the animal was quick to respond while licking his lips. Clearly my earlier conclusion that he hadn’t had his fix in some time was correct.

“True,” Sookie chimed in: Our own personal lie detector.

“What do these kings want?” Ata asked the one question we needed the answer to, if we knew what they were after we could plan accordingly.

“I’m not telling you, fangbanger!” He spat angrily, struggling in his chains in an attempt to get up in my mate’s face.

Ata sighed heavily, shaking her head. “I was so hoping I wouldn’t have to do this,” She muttered under her breath, shaking her head in disappointment. In a move so quick that only a vampire would have caught it, she pulled her fist back and slammed it into the creature’s broken ribs with impressive force. The werewolf’s strangled cry echoed around the room and Sookie let out a squeak of both surprise and horror as the dog coughed up a mouthful of blood.

“Try again. What do these kings want?” She repeated, keeping her hand in a fist, ready to strike.

The wolf raised his head once more, locking eyes with my mate before looking at Sookie, a slow smirk crossing his features. “Both of you, they want both of you. There’s no point in running little girls, they’ll find you and they’ll take you when you’re least expecting it. They’ll stake your fangers and then make you theirs, they’ll turn you and you’ll be forced to serve them,” he cackled. My own possessive nature was rising quickly to the surface at the thought of someone forcing my beloved to be theirs, and my own feelings were adding to those of my Childe’s. Soon both of us were overcome with our possessive feelings. My Childe’s growl was the first sound I heard after the werewolf’s admission of what was planned, my own growls melded with his a moment later.

With vampire speed Eric struck the animal, landing a blow to the side of the creature’s body, the crunching of its bones reverberating off the walls. A howl of pain was ripped from its throat and my Childe looked rather smug. “How many more of you are there?” I demanded, moving at vamp speed to stand behind the creature and grabbing a handful of its matted hair to pull its head back sharply.

“I’m not answering you, fanger.” He snarled in response to me.

“There’s a whole pack of them, at least thirty. He’s thinking of a party or something, on Friday night,” Sookie interrupted us, frowning slightly as she searched further into his mind.

“Hey bitch, get the fuck outta my head!” He shouted at Sookie, promptly earning himself another slam in the side from Eric.

“Never refer to Sookie with such a derogatory term!” He hissed venomously in the animal’s ear.

Ata turned to face me, looking slightly worried, “Felipe invited me to that party, and it’s on Friday night…” she whispered, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

A cackle from the wolf drew our attention back to him, “He’s gonna get ya, ya won’t leave in one piece! You’ll be stuck with him for eternity!” He smirked. I’d had enough of his talk; first Felipe had sent my beloved roses and told her he was going to give her money and sex as if she were some nasty whore from the street corner, and now he was apparently plotting to take her from me. If the dog was to be released, he would return to his Master, and he would be able to report back and fill Felipe in on what was going on here at Caesar’s Palace, at least if he never returned, the King of Nevada would be in the dark for a little while longer.

Deciding that enough was enough I grabbed the wolf’s head and in one fluid movement, I snapped his neck, just like I’d done to Gabe in the Fellowship church when he’d been trying to rape Sookie. “Really! Was that necessary?” Ata screamed at me as the wolf’s body slumped, the chains keeping him from landing on the floor.

“We know what Felipe is planning, there was no need for him to be around any longer,” I responded, reining in my growing temper.

“We could have kept him as a bargaining chip! Used him to get other members of the pack to speak! He was our only link to Felipe and his plans, and you fucking went and killed him!” She stomped her foot in a manner similar to when she’d been a child, her eyes narrowed into a glare towards me as her hands balled into fists at her side.

From the corner of my eye I could see that Eric had moved to Sookie, and both were keeping a distance as Ata and I had our little disagreement.

“I was not about to allow this disgusting creature to live and keep telling us everything that Felipe has planned for you!” I finally raised my voice, the first time I had done so in over two hundred years.

“We could have gagged him, killing him was rash!”

I growled lowly. “He wasn’t going to tell us anything else. His mind had blank spots. Miss Stackhouse told us so. He was only going to go on and on about how much Felipe wants you!”

Ata snorted, a sound that wasn’t pretty and didn’t match her usual personality. “How do you know that he wasn’t going to tell us anything else? Is that what this is all about, about the things he was saying? How fucking childish. You might look like a teenager, but that doesn’t mean you can act like one! Stop being so petulant and act your goddamn age!”

Ata’s words were painful and she knew full well that my appearance would be a sore subject. Throughout my time as a vampire people had commented on my youthful appearance, it had proved useful when luring humans towards me, but it was the part of myself that I hated the most. I had the mind of a two-thousand-year-old, yet it was trapped in the body of a seventeen-year-old. It had done a number on my mentality on more than one occasion, especially when people, and vampires, assumed that Eric was older than me, and therefore my Maker. Nothing was as emasculating as that, knowing your Childe was deemed stronger and more powerful.

Whirling around on the spot Ata grabbed at Sookie’s arm, yanking her out of the cell, “Come, Sookie. We’re going to start your training now,” she ordered firmly, stalking back towards the door and out into the throne room.

“Hey, you’re not my mother you know. You can’t just order me around.” I heard Sookie complain loudly as Ata pulled her out of the room.

As the door slammed shut, silence enveloped both my Childe and I. “I feel like that all the time, especially around Compton. The thought of him taking Sookie from me makes me angry. Don’t worry about it, though, our women are hot-headed, she’ll come back and apologize later. At least we know that one of the Kings after both Ata and Sookie is Felipe, that’s a start,” Eric tried to reason with me, to soothe my temper.

“She doesn’t need to apologise, Eric, I do,” I declared quietly.

“We are vampires, Godric, we do not apologise,” Eric stated firmly as if the idea was completely preposterous. “Respectfully, though, she was right in that he could’ve been a useful bargaining chip.” Eric pointed out, making me feel like my Childe was taking my Ata’s side.

Sighing, I mulled over his words. He had a point. The wolf could’ve been a bargaining chip. “At times we must push aside our pride, Eric, in order to be better men. If I weren’t to apologise to Ata she would remain angry with me and nothing would be solved, if I were to apologise we would be back on track. I am willing to sacrifice my pride to keep my beloved happy, you would do well to remember that for future reference,” I informed my Childe in a whisper, remembering all the times I had told him we had no need to apologise, that we were above every other creature on the earth. Turns out I’d told a lie.

Turns out I’d told a lie.

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