Ethereal Redemption Chapter 36

ATA’S POV
Hey kid, do I have your attention?
I know the way you’ve been livin’, life so wreckless, tragedy endless, welcome to the family
Hey, there’s somethin’ missin’, only time will alter your vision
Never in question, lethal injection, welcome to the family
Not long ago you’d find the answers were so crystal clear
Within a day you find yourself livin’ in constant fear
Can you look at yourself now? Can you look at yourself?
~ Welcome to the Family, Avenged Sevenfold

I was proud of Sookie for how well she stood up for herself to Pamela. I needed to tell Sookie soon that she did well in controlling herself and her magic. She didn’t go overboard, as I had done the first time I’d purposefully used my powers. Anger and love are the strongest of the emotions, and Sookie used her anger at Pam and her love for Eric to power the little bit of magic she used. I saw the golden glow coming from her hands, and I had to hide my smile at the thought that Pam would end up feeling a little bit of pain. I was surprised, however, when I saw Sookie use her healing power to negate the hurt she had caused.

Without reading Pam’s mind, I could tell that she was just as surprised as I was when Sookie pushed her away. Judging by the thoughts of those who knew Sookie before her arrival here in Vegas, she hardly ever stood up for herself in this way. Oh, it was common knowledge she had a bit of a temper, but it manifested at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. Hopefully now, with some training, she’d be able to channel that temper and use it for her magic.

I was suspicious the moment Pam asked to speak with Sookie alone. Although the rooms in the building were soundproofed, I was still able to dip into the minds of both women to discover exactly what was going on between them. Pam’s show of care and her sharing surprised me, but at least the two were starting to get along. In my opinion, Pam still wasn’t worthy of Sookie’s friendship, but it wasn’t my place to say.

During their absence, I continued my conversation with Eric and Godric, discussing Sookie’s training plan further, and explaining to them all of the powers she has and might manifest. I even informed Eric of the two gifts Sookie would receive upon fae maturity, though of course, only Niall would know what those were. Even if Niall were to perish, we would still receive our gifts from him. He’d no doubt already decided what Sookie would receive, and what my final gift would be. Ari and Khai had finished with their phone calls and had moved all of the available chairs to the centre of the room around the sofas. There was much to discuss.

“Eric, look what Pam bought me!” Sookie’s happy exclamation rung out from the hall as she bounded into the living area, carrying with her the red and white floral sundress Pam had just gifted her with. It was the same dress that she’d worn the first night she’d met Eric, I’d witnessed it inside her mind, and I couldn’t suppress a small smile. At least Pam paid attention enough to Sookie’s style.

Eric quirked an eyebrow as Sookie stood before him, holding the dress up to her slender frame. “Pam bought you a present?” He took in the article of clothing as Sookie nodded her head happily. “Isn’t that the same dress you wore the first night we met?” He suddenly remembered, looking up at Sookie as he waggled his eyebrows at her.

A blush blossomed across my cousin’s face as she nodded her head. “Yes, the maenad destroyed it. I’ve been looking everyone for one and Pam found it!” She grinned. Pam took that moment to wander back into the room and my eyes went to her feet. I had to admit, the shoes were gorgeous. Returning my gaze to my cousin and Eric, I watched as the blonde vampire turned his head to his progeny, smiling before he too noticed her new shoes.

“I see you exchanged gifts. They look wonderful on you Pam,” he complimented, earning himself a grin from his Childe. Pam took a seat on one of the barstools, crossing her legs neatly and tucking them beneath her. After all, she’d been raised a lady. Looking up, I captured Pam’s gaze and for a moment we simply stared at one another until finally, I gave a nod, which Pam returned respectfully. I still hadn’t forgiven her for every snide comment she’s made about Sookie over the years, nor had I forgiven her for trying to blow her up, but I was willing to work on it and put that to one side if Sookie was.

“I think we need to plan for Friday night and discuss the information we gathered from the werewolf before he met an unfortunate end,” I broke into the conversation as Sookie settled herself back into Eric’s side, having folded her new dress neatly and placed it on the coffee table. There was a brief commotion as everyone settled into place. Egor and Agmund ended their game, turning the TV off to give me their full attention as they settled upon the two remaining barstools. Riei and Oeri came from the bedrooms, having placed everyone’s purchases away, and took their seats on the remaining space on the two sofas. Khai and Ari had moved themselves to sit on the floor beside the sofa I was currently stretched out on with my ancient vampire and Riei.

“I don’t know if you’re all aware of this, but Felipe is holding a party on Friday night and only those in a position of power can go. That means only Ari, Eric, Pam and myself could go. However, as we’re keeping Eric hidden so that Russell doesn’t find him, sending him in would be a mistake, which means, unfortunately, Pam can’t go either. Ari and I have to go, as Sheriff of the area I’m expected to be there and with Ari being my second in command it would be expected for him to be there as well,” I started, looking around at the nine vampires and one other faery in the room. We were an odd bunch, and I couldn’t help but smile about it.

“Felipe is getting a little too big for his boots. This morning he sent me a huge bouquet of red roses and basically told me that should I need money or sex I should go to him.” I sighed, the sound of nine growls breaking through the air. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the possessive nature of the vampires present. Even Pam had growled, surprising me. “When I dealt with disputes on Monday night I took Godric down with me, and even then, after I’d introduced him as my twice-bonded, Felipe still suggested that I should be his Queen and sit on the throne of Nevada beside him. Of course, I told him I was perfectly happy with where I was and whom I was with, but if Felipe isn’t stopped then things will only continue to get worse.” I ran a hand through my hair, shaking my head at the situation that had presented itself.

“What do we do about it then?” Agmund broke in with a scowl.

“I haven’t a clue yet, but the werewolf said a few things of interest. We asked him who sent him and he said ‘the Kings’” I quoted, even going as far as to raise my hands and make quotation marks in the air.

“Kings? As in, plural?” Pam broke in, her eyebrows rising towards her hairline. I decided then that this wasn’t the time for anything personal between the pair of us, we needed to present a united front if we were going to be able to get to the bottom of this and end whatever was going on.

“Yes, but he wouldn’t tell us how many there were,” I responded.

“There was a blank spot in his mind when I went to go and get the information,” Sookie supplied helpfully.

The group broke into a low murmur, not quite believing it. I cleared my throat and everyone settled down; silence fell upon us once again. “As we’re all aware, werewolves cannot be glamoured, however, there was definitely a blank spot there. So, the only explanation I can come up with is that magic was used to remove the memory, and we’re aware that can easily happen.” I glanced towards Eric who rolled his eyes, clearly still frustrated with his mistreatment by the witches.

“Fucking witches,” Pam muttered under her breath, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Ah ah,” I waggled my finger at her, “don’t go slandering all witches because of one bad apple.” I corrected, not liking her prejudice.

“You should never wag your finger at a vampire, you know, we bite,” Pam glared at my finger, which was still pointed in her direction. Shaking my head I held back a laugh, dropping my hand back to my lap.

“Sorry sweetie, you’re not my type,” I shot back with a smirk.

“No?” Pam leant forward, her lips pulling up into a smirk. “My Grandsire’s your type, though?”

Placing my hands firmly on Godric’s thighs I slid my hands up, turning them inwards to run along the inside of his thighs, caressing him in front of everyone. “Oh, most certainly,” I purred, enjoying making my vampire squirm behind me. My touch was having an effect on him as I felt him stirring behind me.

“What a shame,” Pam leant back in her chair, watching my hands trailing across Godric, “for me.” Her smirk broke into a small smile, which I found myself unable to not return. I’d never been with a woman before, and I never would be, but it was entertaining all the same. I’d had to flirt with numerous rich men’s wives in order to convince them and their husbands to spend more: The more they spent, the more I earned.

Khai cleared his throat and broke the silence that had filled the room. “As much as we’re enjoying the show, can we continue now?”

Turning my attention to my second eldest boy, I gave him a warm smile, removing my hands from Godric’s thighs. “Of course, now, the werewolf had Edgington’s pack brand on him, but it’s common knowledge that Russell’s pack dispersed once it was assumed he was finally dead. So, we don’t know if the werewolf was back working for Russell or if he’d simply moved from Mississippi to Vegas. If we can find more werewolves with the brand in the area, then there’s a higher chance Russell is here and they’re working for him,” I surmised.

“I was attacked by wolves back in Shreveport before I came here,” Pam broke in.

“They didn’t follow you, did they?” Ari quirked an eyebrow, turning to look at Pam.

“Don’t be ridiculous. I ran them out to Monroe and abandoned them there. I’m not stupid.” Pam looked down to her nails as if they were far more interesting than the conversation.

“I never said you were, Pam. I was just double checking.” Ari responded calmly.

Taking over once again, I spoke. “Anyway, we eventually got some more information from the creature. Apparently, this unknown number of kings wants both Sookie and me for themselves. He said something about…”

“He said there was no point in either of them running, that they’d find them and take them when they weren’t expecting it. Apparently, they even plan on staking Godric and me before bonding themselves to our women and forcing them into servitude,” Eric growled out, his grip on Sookie tightening. Godric’s arm around me tightened too, pulling me tightly to his chest. I felt safe in his grasp, safer than I had in a while.

The room erupted into growls, every vampire present making some sound of disgust and hatred. Although the sound was meant to be threatening and angry, I found myself enjoying it, it was a sign of the affection all vampires present held for one another. “They won’t lay a finger on either of you, we promise you that,” Khai declared, looking between Godric and Eric.

“Thank you, it’s reassuring to know we have some support if it’s needed,” my vampire graciously acknowledged. My boys were known to only protect those they deemed worthy, so it was heart-warming to hear them offer their protection to my mate and Sookie’s.

“And of course, Pam will be protected too,” Ari added, looking towards Pam before giving her a wink. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought Pam was flustered by the gesture.

“We asked him how much more there were and he wouldn’t verbally answer us, however, Sookie was able to extract from his mind that he was thinking of a whole pack of them, at least thirty, and that he was thinking of this party on Friday night. Of course, we don’t know if it’s Russell’s pack or if he joined a new one, but it’s still a concern,” I continued, knowing there was much to discuss. “The creature stated that apparently, Felipe is going to get me, that ‘ya won’t leave in one piece’ and that I’ll be stuck with him for eternity.” I rolled my eyes, recalling the fleabag’s words. There was no denying the fact that I was a little worried, but I didn’t wish to dwell upon that.

“He could only keep you for eternity if he turned you, and even then you’d meet the sun regardless of a Maker’s command. The only way for you to be around for eternity is for Felipe to allow Godric to live,” Oeri broke in, frowning a little as he tried to work out the logistics of it.

“Back it up sugarplum, how can Ata be around for eternity if my Grandsire is alive?” Pam interrupted.

“The fae live for 2,500 years and then they die, or they live for eternity if they find their true mate. You try to turn a sky fae and they’ll meet the sun within a few days. They need the sunlight to strengthen their powers and to be at one with their element. Felipe is in no way Ata’s mate, and therefore if he didn’t turn her she’d die in 400 years, or if he did turn her she’d meet the sun,” Agmund explained, raising his arms above his head to stretch, his shirt riding up a little to showcase his flat stomach and defined muscles.

Catching Sookie looking, I allowed myself a small smile. My boys were beautiful, no doubt about it. However, I wasn’t the only one to notice her gaze, Agmund noticed too and gave her a playful wink. Sookie’s face flushed and she ducked her head to Eric’s side. Eric hadn’t missed a moment of the exchange and he looked toward Agmund with a glare that could probably kill a human, giving a small growl. Letting his arms fall back into his lap, Agmund shot his fellow Viking a large grin. Relenting, Eric rolled his eyes in a very Pam-like gesture.

“You’re kidding me, right? They get to keep their heartbeats and the sunshine and still get to have all eternity? That’s not fair!” Pam scowled, glaring at both Sookie and me, to which I responded with a dazzling smile.

“Life’s unfair,” I shrugged.

“Good job I’m technically dead then,” Pam deadpanned.

“Touché.”

“Ladies, please, back to the matter at hand,” Ari broke through our conversation.

“Of course, sorry.” I turned my attention back to the group as a whole. “Anyway, Mr. Rash here,” I gestured behind me with my thumb towards my vampire, “snapped his neck before we could get anything else useful out of him. But that doesn’t matter, the smell of dog is going to take forever to bleach out of the basement anyway,” I sighed.

“So, what precautions are we going to take for Friday night?” Egor asked, slipping off the barstool. Ari took his place moments later. Egor too stretched, revealing his flat stomach and muscles, however, Sookie pointedly averted her gaze. Slowly he lowered himself to the floor by the sofa I was sitting on before stretching out, resting his head in his hands.

“Ari, did you contact the King of California?” I looked to my eldest, my second in command.

“Yes, he said that he’d be more than willing to keep an eye out for you and to have a few of his guards keep an eye on you too. I told him to think of it as us cashing in the favour he owes us for outing his gold-digging ex-girlfriend, but he told me he still owed us one, that he was doing this because he hated the idea of you being taken against your will,” Ari informed us all.

“Aww, Edgar is such a sweetheart,” I cooed, unable to conceal my smile. The King of California was an exceptionally good man. He wasn’t as old as some of the other monarchs, but he ruled with a firm yet fair hand, he gave money to charities that helped the homeless and the abused and he helped with the rehabilitation of drug addicts, as he’d been one himself during his human years. He opened his home up to humans twice a year and threw many events for them too. He supported the film industry and helped the California governor with his budget and the enforcement of state laws.

“I also wish to bring in a few people of my own to take care of Ata, if that’s acceptable?” Godric finally spoke up, looking at Ari and myself.

Ari seemed to think the proposal over for a moment before coming to a decision, “The more people who can keep an eye out for her the better. Who did you have in mind?”

“Her name’s Nora, she works for the Authority. Eric and I rescued her from a pack of wolves at the top of a mountain a few years back, she’s owed us ever since. I was also thinking of the Sheriff of Dallas, my old second in command, Isabel Beaumont,” my vampire suggested.

“They’re both in positions of power, that could work. Have you contacted them?” Ari inquired.

With a shake of his head, Godric answered. “No, not yet, I’ll ring them when we’ve finished our discussion, though I’m sure they’d both be willing to come and help.”

“Khai, did you manage to get in contact with Toni?” I asked, remembering my plan to mark my skin in a manner that would inform everyone whom it was I belonged to.

“Yeah, he said he’d be here five hours before the start of the party to mark you up, sort out your hair, and apply your make-up for you,” Khai was quick to respond. I’d mentally told my boys of the plan earlier and they’d loved the idea, they’d believed it to be the subtlest option available but it would have a major impact all the same. “He’s asked to see what he’s going to be replicating before he gets here so that he’ll be able to draw them up for you,” Khai added as an afterthought.

“I guess we’re talking about my markings, Carissimus?” I heard Godric’s whisper in my ear as he moved my hair from my neck, exposing the creamy skin, which he nuzzled gently.

“Yes, I’ve asked one of my friends to come and help us with it,” I responded quietly, playing with his fingers.

“Not permanent I hope,” he added gently, dropping a kiss to my jugular.

“No, you didn’t want that so it won’t happen. They’ll last for a day or two at the most,” I stated, reaching a hand up and around to hold his head in place. Turning my head, I pressed a kiss to his cheek, giving him an Eskimo Kiss before returning to the conversation, my hand still behind me, playing with the short hairs at the nape of Godric’s neck.

“Which ones are you having?” Khai pulled his phone from his pocket and brought up the camera on it. “Toni wants images to work from,” he explained.

Dropping my hands from Godric’s neck, I turned on the sofa to face him. Picking up his left arm I traced the zigzag marks, “I want these,” I stated softly, placing his arm back down again.

I started to unbutton his shirt, my fingers tracing over the blue tattoo across his chest, remembering how it had become my firm favourite all those years ago. Leaning forward, I placed a chaste kiss to the markings, one of Godric’s hands coming up to affectionately run through my hair.

“If you guys need a room, then there are plenty in the building. This is a hotel after all,” Egor catcalled with a smirk. Glaring in his direction as the final button popped open, I slid the shirt from my vampire’s frame before climbing around behind him, my small hands moving across the vast expanse of his back. “I want this one,” I declared, tapping the sea serpent down his spine, “because I want a backless dress.” My fingers hovered over his brand for a moment. “I want this too.” I finally made my choice, running the pads of my fingers over the raised red bumps.

“I don’t want you to bear my brand, Carissimus,” Godric spoke with a firm yet gentle tone.

“Tough, I’m having it. You forget that this is all about a show of ownership, and brands are just that, a show of ownership,” I responded with an equally firm tone as Khai approached, gesturing for Godric to hold up his left arm so the zigzag tattoo could be photographed and sent to Toni. With that done, Khai moved towards me, taking a few shots of the serpent so that Toni would get it right.

“I would never wish to own you, you know,” my ancient vampire finally broke the silence, looking over his shoulder at me. Raising a hand, I caressed his cheek, laying a gentle kiss on his shoulder blade.

“I know, but it must appear in front of others that you do,” I reassured him, not completely seeing the problem with me bearing his markings. My mother had forced him into slavery and he had been branded shortly after his arrival in Egypt, so it was the least I could do. Khai took a few photos of the brand before emailing them all off to Toni, taking his seat on the floor once again.

Picking up Godric’s shirt I started to fold it up but he held his hand out for it. Shaking my head, I placed it on the coffee table. With a roll of his eyes, my vampire settled back against the arm of the sofa and I was quick to move to the space between his legs once more. This time, however, I chose to settle on my side, my legs stretched out between his and my head resting against his chest, right above the area where his silent heart sat. His left hand went to my hair, stroking it gently, while his right hand brushed against my cheek.

“We should keep a mental link open while you’re at the party, Ata,” Sookie finally spoke up. I’d thought for sure she’d drifted off to sleep snuggled up to Eric. It wouldn’t have surprised me if she had, her training today would have been taxing on her small body and her spark would have been surprised by its sudden usage.

“That sounds like a plan. I’ll keep a mental link open with the boys, as we’re all family it shouldn’t be difficult for us to communicate with one another over the large distance,” I agreed, knowing it would be the safest option to keep as many people as possible in the loop.

“Keep me mentally informed too, Carissimus.” Godric insisted and I could feel his resolve in the bond. I gave a small nod against his chest as agreement. As we’d exchanged blood twice it wouldn’t be too difficult for us to stay in contact with one another.

“How am I going to be able to hear what you’re thinking?” Eric interrupted us with a quirked eyebrow.

“Wait.” Pam interrupted Eric, earning herself a glare from her Maker. “Please do not tell me that you can hear vampire thoughts?” She turned her attention to me, watching me with a slightly cautious expression.

“Yes, Pam, I can hear vampires. I can also go shifting through their memories,” I responded honestly, plastering on a sweet smile and batting my eyelashes in her direction.

“You can get inside my head and you never told me!?” She all but screamed, rising quickly from her seat.

“Pamela,” Eric growled lowly, focusing his strong glare on his progeny.

“There’s no point in getting angry about it sweet pea, I’ve seen everything from the moment you met Sookie. Don’t worry, though; I stopped when I reached the memory of you returning to Fangtasia after the rocket launcher incident, when you were ranting to the tiny woman in the nurse’s outfit,” I shrugged.

I could see the anger bubbling inside of Pam, but I wasn’t going to let this go. She may have smoothed things over with Sookie, but I still wasn’t convinced. A sharp breeze wafted over me and the next thing I knew I was sitting on the sofa alone, both Eric and Godric stood in front of me, their backs to me, protecting me from Pam as she’d moved from her seat to attack me. “Pamela, as your Maker I command you to not hurt Ata.”

“Eric! She’s snooping in our minds, she’s a danger to us, to our kind!” Pam hissed, glaring at me through the small gap between the two male vampires. The sounds of more growls broke out into the air and all my boys were up on their feet in defensive postures.

“Pamela, Ata’s gift is incredibly useful, it has kept her alive for over 2000 years, and will help keep all of us, that includes you, alive while Russell is on the loose. You should be grateful.” Godric chastised Pam, who looked increasingly angrier by the second.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before, Eric? You never tell me anything these days!” She turned her attention to her Maker, losing her temper with him.

“Remember who you are speaking to, Childe. I did not reveal Ata’s gift to you because I was unsure if it was wise to do so. Seems I made a sound judgment,” Eric shot back, “Now sit,” he ordered. The pair engaged in a visual showdown for what felt like an eternity, but eventually, Pam gave up and took her seat once more, throwing glares in my direction. Sighing in annoyance, I shook my head as the male vampires in the room calmed down and took their seats once more. In one fluid motion, Godric had picked me up and placed me back down in my previous position, flaked out across his torso.

“Sookie, have you given any more thought to my suggestion?” I asked, remembering that I had asked Sookie if she wished to hear vampire thoughts too. I had a few reservations about it. Over the years I’d had to work exceptionally hard to shelter myself from their stronger thoughts, but ultimately it would be a valuable gift to have. Ra knows it’s saved my life more than it has caused me problems.

“What suggestion?” Eric looked down to Sookie, who had settled back into his side now that he was seated once more.

“Ata suggested that I think about, perhaps, being able to listen to vampire thoughts, so I can protect myself better,” my cousin explained, nibbling on her lower lip as she looked up at Eric. I didn’t need to have a bond with her to know she was nervous and somewhat worried about his reaction.

Silence settled on our group for a moment, I wasn’t used to all this silence. My boys had always been vocal and expressed their feelings, they’d mused aloud and bounced ideas off one another. I was about to break the silence when Eric beat me to it. “It would make taking care of you a bit more of a challenge, lover. It would have to remain a closely guarded secret, no one outside of this room must know about it, but I cannot deny the fact it would prove useful, not only in our current situation but in the future too…” I could see the Viking was deep in thought. I had assumed Sookie would be terrified by the idea, terrified of knowing everything that was going on in vampire minds, yet on her face, I could only read excitement. I guess she could see the benefits of it.

“How do we go about getting Sookie able to read vampire minds?” He directed his question to me. Propping myself up a little further on Godric’s chest so I could focus on the conversation and not on the soothing silence from his chest, I pursed my lips together in contemplation. I loved the silence surrounding vampires; it was why I frequently fell asleep against one of my vampires’ chests. Although my hearing was in no way as advanced as theirs, the smallest sounds would irritate me. I would wake to the sound of the clock ticking, the closing of a door or even footsteps in the room beside mine. I was a deep sleeper but it was easy to wake me, years of being constantly on alert had done that to me. It was why each of the bedrooms in the penthouse was soundproofed, so I could sleep easier.

“I have a feeling Niall suppressed Sookie’s ability to hear vampires in order to keep her safe. I guess he wanted her to know as little as possible about the supernatural world until it was necessary. I was born with the ability to hear you guys, I guess Niall knew I would spend my life in your company.” I gave an affectionate smile to my six boys, all of whom returned the gesture. “It shouldn’t be too difficult to unlock the ability, but it’ll take a while for Sook to develop stronger shields. The shields she has right now are perfect for humans and werewolves, but it’s common knowledge that you guys think more clearly, and if I’ve learnt anything over the years it’s that vampires are really strong broadcasters,” I stated, biting my own lip in contemplation.

“Is this really the best idea? We’re struggling to keep Sookie safe as it is,” Pam sighed in exasperation.

“If she can hear a vampire coming, and hear what they have planned, then the chance of her survival increases. Yes, her survival chances would decrease if they were to find out about it but as Eric stated, the information doesn’t leave this room.” I gave Pam a pointed look, for which I received a glare in return. One step forward, two steps back.

“Just how do we go about this?” Eric asked, his irritation shining through. I could see why my Godric had turned him, he wanted to get to the point and not pussyfoot around.

“Miss Stackhouse can break it herself, however, it requires a ritual. It also requires her will. Miss Stackhouse will have to want to hear our thoughts and have a valid reason for it. I believe she may only need to want to hear one vampire and all the others will just open up to her,” Oeri explained. He was my doctor and shaman, so I knew this area was his speciality. “I assume it will be you that Miss Stackhouse will wish to listen in on?” Oeri addressed Eric.

With a nod of his head, Eric agreed. “Yes, what does this ritual involve exactly?” The Viking inquired, tipping his head sideways a little in curiosity.

“I believe a few incantations have to be spoken, and she’ll have to consume the blood of one who can already hear us. It would explain why Miss Stackhouse has been isolated from those of her own kind for so long, if she knew she was able to break it herself with a bit of help, she’d have probably gone for it,” Oeri turned to my cousin, giving her a warm smile.

“That predictable eh?” she rolled her eyes mockingly.

“I’m assuming it would be Ata’s blood, yes?” Godric broke in, glancing down to me, then to Sookie and finally to Oeri.

Oeri’s attention switched to Godric as he responded, he’d always been so well mannered. “Ideally, yes. As Ata is her kin, her blood would be readily accepted by Miss Stackhouse’s system. The age of Ata’s blood may have an effect to; Miss Stackhouse might be able to pull her new powers under control much sooner. The unlocking of her ability should be painless, but the bombardment of vampire thoughts might give her a headache for a few hours until her brain catches up with the new information,” he explained.

“I want to do this, I need to do this. I dislike not knowing what’s going on, but I promise right now to not go snooping in anyone’s minds without their permission. Would we be able to do this for me tomorrow night?” Sookie took charge, sitting up straight in her seat to look Oeri straight in the eyes. She had guts if she wanted to go through with this, and it made me even prouder of her.

“Lover, once you do this you can’t go back,” Eric warned her gently, placing a cool hand on her shoulder.

“I know, Eric. I want to do this,” she told him firmly, a nod of her head sealing the deal. I’d expected Eric to put up a bit more of a fight, kick up more of a storm, but it was apparent now just how much power Sookie held over him. She had him wrapped around her little finger.

Oeri rose to his feet, Riei following closely behind. “We’ll go and set everything up in the training room for tomorrow night, we’ll also read over some of our old books and make sure everything is perfect. Goodnight everyone.” Both of my boys gave respectful bows, blowing cheeky kisses in my direction, before disappearing up the staircase behind the bookshelf to the training room and our private library.

“I’ll contact Toni regarding these images and see what he can do, I’ll also put in a call to the King of California and firm up details for the party,” Khai informed us all, rising to his feet before bidding us all goodnight and disappearing to his room.

“I need to feed,” Pam stated loudly, drawing our attention to her.

“Donors are downstairs in the bars and clubs, they wear red cards on lanyards around their necks,” I informed her with a small smile, not wanting her to kill anyone. With a curt nod, she rose to her feet and gave a respectful bow to both Eric and Godric before disappearing downstairs.

A comfortable silence fell over the rest of us as we lost ourselves in our thoughts. I was worried about this party on Friday, but the last thing I wanted was for Godric to worry about me any more than necessary. Egor and Agmund suddenly stiffened, moving with vampire speed to the elevator where they dropped fang, taking a defensive posture just as the doors slid back. A male squeak could be heard seconds later. “Oscar, isn’t it?” Egor asked protectively. I couldn’t see past my two defenders, but the mention of the young baby vamp caused me to smile.

“Let him in boys,” I ordered. Egor and Agmund stepped aside and young Oscar took a few cautious steps inside my penthouse. He didn’t enter far and seemed very nervous. Sitting up, I smoothed out my clothes before giving the baby vamp a warm smile. “Oscar dear, what can I do for you?” I rose from my space on the couch, crossing the room to stand before the small blonde haired boy. He’d been so sweet when I’d freed him from his cruel Maker; he had such potential to do well in his new lease on life.

Oscar shuffled on his feet silently, dropping his gaze down to the floor, “Good evening Sheriff, I’m sorry to disturb your evening. I just wanted to…to thank you for freeing me from my Maker. No one wants me and I don’t want to be a burden to you. I’m going to try and find a nest in the area, or in Carson City, and see if they’ll teach me everything I need to know. I just thought I’d come and say goodbye.” Oscar finally looked up, a small smile on his lips.

“You’re not a burden little one. No one wants you? I’m sure there’s someone out there willing to be your Maker,” I stated with conviction.

He shook his head, “No, but it’s alright. I don’t mind. I’ll take care of myself. I used to look out for myself in my human years, it can’t be that much different, right?” He let out a nervous laugh, returning to shuffling his feet once more.

“Where will you rest in the day? How will you pay for things? Do you have any savings from your human years?” I asked gently, wanting to know how he planned to support himself.

“I’ll probably sleep in the ground. I don’t know how I’m going to pay for anything, I had savings but my Maker wiped them clean with his gambling addiction. I guess I’ll scrounge what I can.” He responded honestly, giving a shrug of his shoulders. I approved of his honesty; he had an honest heart and good intentions.

Making up my mind, I voiced my opinion. “You need a nest. I’ll tell you what, why don’t you live here, be part of my nest? I have six vampire children of my own, all of whom are the best they can be, and I promise to take care of you and look after you. You don’t have to accept right away, but the offer is there,” I offered him, feeling the eyes of Sookie, Eric, Ari, and Godric on my back. Egor and Agmund were standing off to my side a little, their eyes on me too.

Oscar seemed to think about it for a moment, his boyish features a picture of contemplation. His emerald green eyes moved from me to Ari, Egor, and Agmund. He was aware they were three of my vampire children. Dropping my mental shields, I allowed myself to pry, to gain an understanding of where he was currently with his thoughts.

“What an offer! I’d get to live in this nice house, wear nice clothes, and gain a big family. Just like my human days. Big family. But they might not want me, the Sheriff does, but will her children want me? I’d be too much trouble, she has plans and she probably doesn’t need the stress I’d cause her. Yes. Very nice offer, but I have nothing to offer her back…”

I took the opportunity to mentally run the idea past my children.

“Boys, what’s your thought on Oscar joining our nest. Be honest, I won’t utter a word.”

There was silence for a moment before slowly my boys’ responses filtered in.

“The young boy from the disputes session? He seems well mannered, a little misled by his Maker, but a good kid. I wouldn’t mind.” Khai responded.

“He was so distressed when he found out that no one wanted to take him in under their wing, he could be great,” Oeri answered.

“I second Oeri.” Riei agreed with his brother.

“I do not know if it’s so wise given the current situation we find ourselves in. However, there is power in numbers. If Russell or Felipe learn of his attachment to our group, though, he could well become a target, or worse, a bargaining chip, as he would be seen as the weakest link.” My ever-practical Ari gave me pause for thought.

“I agree with Ari.” Agmund agreed with his brothers’ sentiment.

“He’s an interesting character, needs to work on his confidence a little bit, but other than that I think he’d be a wonderful addition.” Egor threw his opinion into the mix.

Deciding there was one final person to include, I moved on to Godric.

“Cridio, what do you think about Oscar joining the nest?”

“I think it’s a wonderful thing for you to do, and the young boy will make a great addition to the nest. He didn’t need to come up and thank you, yet he did. He already respects you. I will stand by you, whatever choice you make.” My bonded responded.

Unable to help my smile at my mate’s words, I glanced over my shoulder to him, stretched out on the couch, his shirt still off. I pushed love through our bond and received plenty in return. Finally facing the young vampire, I gently took his hand in my own. He seemed shocked by my action and quickly glanced between my hand and my eyes, unsure how to react. “You can live here in the penthouse, we’ll get you some nice new clothes and we’ll teach you everything we know. I’m not going to promise that things will be easy all the time, but my children and I will not give up on you. I want nothing in return but your loyalty,” I reassured him.

Oscar’s eyes widened as I answered his mental questions. “It’s true?” He whispered, leaning forward as if it were some massive state secret as if no one else in the room would hear him. I had to suppress my scent even further; a baby vamp was dangerous to be around with my level of fae blood. “You can read my thoughts?” he asked quietly.

“Yes, I try not to, but I wanted to know what the matter was,” I responded truthfully, knowing that if the young vampire was going to be living with us he would need to know everything.

“I’d like to join your nest,” he finally admitted in a whisper, dropping his gaze to the floor. Giving his hand a gentle squeeze, I pulled the boy into my embrace, ensuring his face was against my chest and not my throat. I was still concerned about his level of control but he seemed to be doing well so far. “Thank you, Sheriff,” he mumbled into my skin.

“It’s Ata,” I corrected him gently, pulling back from the embrace to offer him a smile, which he returned shyly.

Egor took a step forward, placing a hand on the young vampire’s shoulder. A grin decorated his features, and after glancing to everyone else in the room I was pleased to see they were all in agreement over Oscar’s decision. Agmund moved forward, reaching down to ruffle the boys’ bangs. “Welcome to the family, kiddo.”

A smile broke across Sookie’s face. “You could learn a lot from the vampires in this nest, how to defend yourself, take care of yourself…I’m sure Eric could teach you how to fight, couldn’t you?” Sookie turned to look up at Eric, her smile still in place. However, Eric’s smile was missing.

“Yeah, I guess.” He shrugged, glancing from the young vampire to Sookie and then back again.

Oscar grinned, oblivious to Eric’s sudden mood change. “That would be really great, thanks!”

Sookie frowned, her eyes still focused on Eric’s face even as he looked elsewhere, his lips pressed into a thin line. Her mind was whirring, trying to figure out why Eric was suddenly displeased. Oh dear…

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