A/N I know the end of the previous chapter was super mushy and probably really OOC for Godric but it was too cute not to, sorry!
I will say now, the supernatural creature Ata tells Sookie of? Yeah I thought of it before we found out about the monster chasing down Terry in Season 5. They’re similar critters, but not the same thing.
When the outside temperature rises and the meaning is oh so clear
One thousand and one yellow daffodils begin to dance in front of you – oh dear are they trying to tell you something?
You’re missing that one final screw, you’re simply not in the pink my dear, to be honest you haven’t got a clue
I’m going slightly mad, I’m going slightly mad
It finally happened – happened
It finally happened – ooh oh,
It finally happened – I’m slightly mad oh dear!
I’m one card short of a full deck, I’m not quite the shilling
One wave short of a shipwreck, I’m not at my usual top billing
I’m coming down with a fever, I’m really out to sea
This kettle is boiling over, I think I’m a banana tree
Oh dear, I’m going slightly mad
~ I’m Going Slightly Mad, Queen
I had never woken up with a hangover, heck I’d never been drunk enough in my life for a hangover, but it was fair to say that the current pounding in my brain and my overall disdain at getting out of bed was very much like a hangover. Cracking open my eyes I screwed them shut a moment later, rubbing the heel of my hands over them in a desperate attempt to remove the sleep. It was also a useless attempt at trying to stop the relentless hammering in my head. The memories of the night before flooded my mind and left me gasping for air – the chanting, the candles, the cat in my mind, the smog-woman, the burning sensation.
I was grateful for the darkness of the room. I had a funny feeling the light wouldn’t be my friend today. Tipping my head to the side my eyes landed on my sleeping vampire. My shields weren’t in place and rather than being greeted by a void I was met with a fuzzy patch. Had it worked? Would I be able to hear him this evening? The thought caused me to smile. Tentatively I stretched, unsure as to the physical abuse my body had undergone due to the ritual. I was pleasantly surprised to find my body was well. I could move all of my limbs with ease and there was no pain in them.
Deciding it was time to get out of bed I went to roll onto my side and rapidly regretted it. A sharp, shooting pain ran down my spine and I cried out at the sensation. “FUCK! Ouch!” I cussed, freezing my movement to let the pain subside. Taking a deep breath I heaved myself up out of bed, clenching my jaw to stop myself from crying out with the pain once again. Sighing in frustration my feet met the plush carpet and I padded, rather slowly, over to the wardrobe. Pulling on my underwear I dressed myself gingerly in a pair of comfy navy blue Capri pants and one of Eric’s black wife-beaters.
Carefully I made my way to the door, not wanting to jar my back. Stepping out into the hallway I was grateful that it was windowless. Wandering down the hallway I approached the door to the living area. Taking a deep breath I pushed it open, finding myself suddenly drenched in sunlight. Squinting I raised a hand to shield my eyes, taking a moment to let them adjust.
“Morning Sook.” Ata’s voice floated across the room.
Blinking rapidly I took several steps into the room, spotting my cousin curled up on one of the couches in front of the television. The flat-screen was on. CNN news was muted.
“Morning Ata.” I croaked in response, shuffling over to her. My back was still incredibly sore even though I’d managed to move it a little. On the coffee table sat two trays, both of which had a plate of bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, fried bread and waffles on. Two glasses of orange juice sat with them, a set of pills beside one of the glasses. There was also a heavy looking metal box on the table that hadn’t been there yesterday.
Rearranging herself on the couch to make some room for me, Ata pulled her legs up underneath herself. “How are you feeling?” she asked with concern lacing her voice. Gradually I lowered myself onto the couch, hissing as pain shot through my spine. Ata leant forward, grabbing a glass of orange juice and the pile of pills. “Advil and a multivitamin.” She explained to me. Taking the pills from her I chucked them into my mouth before taking a gulp of orange juice, swallowing it all down.
“Thanks.” I placed the glass back down on the coffee table, rearranging myself into a comfortable position. “My head really hurts and my back does too. Is that normal?” I asked as my cousin grabbed a blanket from the side, placing it over my lap to keep me warm before she popped the tray of food on my lap for me.
Settling herself down next to me, Ata took her own tray of food. “I would say your back pain is from all the arching it was doing last night and late into this morning. I’m surprised your spine didn’t snap.” Ata grimaced. “Your headache is normal, especially considering your little mind occupant.” She shook her head.
“That was real? That smoke-woman and the cat, it actually really happened, in my head?” I breathed, my eyes widening. Holy shit!
“Yeah, it’s a really long story.” Ata wafted her hand through the air, trying to throw me off my train of thought. I wasn’t having it though.
“Tell me, we have time. What is the time anyway? What time did we finish?” I frowned. I despised the fact I knew so little about what had happened to me last night.
“It’s midday. We have about an hour before Toni gets here to start dressing me up for Creepy Felipe’s party this evening. We finished up a few hours after sunset, which was at 6am. I think it was around 8am when we finished. I’m not too sure though.” Ata shrugged, rubbing at her own eyes. It was clear she was exhausted too.
“Will you tell me what happened, please? What was that thing in my mind?” I begged, tucking into my food.
Sighing, Ata relented with a nod, cutting off a piece of sausage, which she popped into her mouth. Chewing it slowly she finally swallowed. “Okay, the thing in your mind is called a Jinn, or Djinn. The Jinn are a race of spirit-like beings, created by Allah from smokeless fire. They were created thousands of years before Adam and Eve; they’re probably as old as the earth itself. They were the only creation, besides man, that was given free will. Since they’re created from fire they’re usually invisible to human eyes, but of course we aren’t entirely human.” Ata gave a humorless chuckle. “Jinn have the ability to take the shape of nearly any creature, including humans, allowing them to seen by the human world.” She continued.
“That’s why I saw it as a swirl of smoke! Then it changed into that woman, Ma’at! I felt this burning sensation over my whole body, now I know why!” I exclaimed, having finished my mouthful. It made sense now, how the smoke had been able to transform into a solid shape, a person, and how I had felt like I was being burnt from head to toe.
With a small smile and a nod, Ata continued. “When Allah created Adam and Eve, he commanded the angels and the Jinn to bow to him. One of the angels, Iblis, refused and was cast down to earth. He became Shaitan, King of the Jinn. Jinn live mostly on the mythical mountain of Kaf, in Jinnestan, where they continue to be ruled by a line of Kings called Suleymans. However, for a price one can pay a certain Jinn to defend something and protect it. Due to their fiery nature, Jinn have an advantage over humans in that many laws of nature have no hold on them. As a result they are able to travel quickly from place to place and wield a form of magic, making them the perfect protectors. I think Niall, or maybe Fintan, paid the Jinn that was in your mind to protect you from vampire thoughts, knowing that should you be able to hear them you would never lead a normal life.” Ata shook her head, clearly annoyed with the fact that my ability to hear vampire minds had been taken from me. If I’d been able to hear vampires I probably wouldn’t have bothered with Bill and my Gran would still be alive. I had no doubt that I would have ended up at Fangtasia somehow anyway, and I probably would have yielded to Eric a little quicker too.
“That Jinn thing has been living in my head my whole life?” I couldn’t quite stop myself from feeling a little disgusted and violated. A supernatural creature had set up camp in my mind and I hadn’t known about it. It was better than knowing I’d gone mad though. Over the years I had been subjected to everyone’s nasty thoughts about me, thinking I was retarded and mentally damaged. It was enough to make anyone think they were mad. I actually found myself rather scared about how many supernatural creatures there actually were out there. Maybe I’d ask Ata to compile a comprehensive list of every supernatural being out there for me one day.
“Kind of. Its been living in your subconscious, which is why you were never aware of its presence. Your mind is split in two, your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. Each part of your mind is built up like corridors, with doors leading to different sections such as family memories or information from your school years. The more you view your telepathy as a positive thing, the easier it’ll be for you to rummage in others minds and find the information easier as you’ll be able to navigate the corridors quicker and more efficiently. It’s also important for when you’re faced with other telepaths as you’ll be able to lock certain doors so they can’t access potentially harmful information.” Ata explained. My brain was already hurting from the ritual, but now it was throbbing. I prayed silently that the Advil would kick in soon. My shields were still down but Ata had hers up, so I received nothing but the fuzzy noises from the sleeping vampires in the penthouse, and even then they sounded miles away due to the soundproofing of the bedrooms.
“So why was the Jinn guarding that certain door? Why did it turn into that woman? And what the hell was the cat? Why did they cut one another?” I rattled off questions, continuing to eat. Ata popped more food into her mouth, chewing and swallowing before carrying on.
“That door was built on purpose by someone who holds way more power than either of us, which is why I think either Niall of Fintan paid for the Jinn. The door was locked, blocking out your ability.” Ata seemed to pause for a moment, gauging my reaction to her words.
“The woman the Jinn shifted into was Ma’at, one of my Gods. I was the cat, well my subconscious was the cat, to be exact. Everyone’s subconscious takes a form; the form it takes is usually based on family and the lifestyle of the person. Baast’s parents are Isis and Re. My mother was Isis reincarnated, and she always thought of Re as my father. Re was the sun God, and the sun represents light, warmth, and growth. My father turned the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire, he grew the country, the empire, conquered far away lands such as Godric’s home – Gaul. Baast was not only the Goddess of cats, and I do adore cats, but of the sun and the moon. As a sky fairy I’m a child of the sun, as are you, and yet I keep the company of vampires, children of the moon. Baast’s name implies that she is sweet and precious, but that under the surface is the heart of a predator. Quite fitting don’t you think?” Ata answered two of my four questions with a small laugh. My headache had subsided enough for me to pay attention to my cousin’s words, but my brain was playing catch-up in storing away the information. Ata would never escape her parents, never escape Egypt or the ways of her people, and yet I got the impression that she didn’t really mind. If I were in her position I’d have ran away screaming by now.
“The reason the Jinn chose Ma’at was because it knew I would recognize her. It chose that form in order to make me more comfortable and to explain its presence to me. Not only did the Jinn recognize my subconscious but it automatically knew which Goddess to become, which suggests to me that whoever paid it knew I would go in for a snoop at some point. Ma’at is the Goddess of truth, balance, order, law, morality, and justice. It’s why she was speaking of the balance being tipped, and why I mentioned the fact the balance was tipped for me. Ma’at gave me the ability to hear vampire thoughts, giving me an advantage over others, so I asked her to give you that advantage too.” Ata finished off her food. I’d finished mine a couple of minutes earlier and had already placed my empty tray on the coffee table. Taking a sip of orange juice I nodded in encouragement, allowing myself to file away everything Ata had told me so far.
“What the Jinn and I created is a blood oath. I swore on my life to deliver the Jinn to another’s mind as it’s the only job the creature has ever known, meaning that the Jinn in question is a protector by trade. I figured Hunter will have had limited contact with vampires, but as he grows up he will most likely bump into them more and more, especially if the VRA is passed. The Jinn will be able to protect Hunter’s mind while he grows up and, when he’s mastered his powers and feels confident enough, will leave his mind for good in search of another mind to protect. We had to exchange blood to make it magically binding. Unfortunately whatever happens to my subconscious happens to me.” Ata laughed humorlessly, moving the side of her shirt up to show me a bandage over her side.
Catching sight of the bandage, my hand flew to my mouth. “Cheese and rice! You were hurt!” I exclaimed, feeling guilty that my cousin had been hurt in the process.
“Eh it was nothing. Godric and Eric cleaned me up and sealed over the wound. I got a few pulls from Godric’s wrist last night too, but I chucked on a bandage just to make sure.” She covered over her side with a shrug, hiding the bandage from the world.
“Eric took the brunt of the pain, Sookie. He was incredible last night, truly. You’re very lucky.” Ata told me with a small smile, reaching over to give my arm a rub. I couldn’t remember anything about last night bar Eric’s shouting. I hadn’t even been able to feel our bond over the pain coursing through my system.
“He’s a good man.” I murmured under my breath, unable to stop my smile.
“He is, Sook, he is.” My cousin agreed with me softly, taking her hand back to rest it in her lap.
“Tell me more about the Jinn?” I asked, shifting so that my back, which was now suitably numb thanks to the Advil, was against the arm of the chair, allowing me to face my cousin. Mirroring my actions so she no longer had to turn her head to face me, Ata continued.
“The Jinn are divided into five classes based on the strength of their ability to use this magic. The lowest class is the Jann. They have very little ability beyond transforming themselves into animals, and are known as Transformed Jinn. The next class is the Jinn, which also lend their name to the species. The middle class of Jinn is Sheytans, which are evil Jinn. The next class is the Efrits, who are powerful evil Jinn and prefer to live in abandoned buildings. The most powerful class of Jinn is the Marids. Marids are also evil and have an affinity with water, often dwelling in lakes or wells. To the Jews they were known as Mazikeen, Shedeem, and Shehireem. The Shedeem were also considered to be the offspring of Adam and Lilith. I don’t know if you’re aware but Lilith was the first vampire, the original. She’s a bit of an annoying bitch in all honesty.” Ata informed me, rolling her eyes. I blinked. Ata knew the first vampire to have ever existed?
I had no clue as to vampire history. There were plenty of myths and legends floating around but I had never heard of anything concrete. Perhaps it would be something to ask Eric about later on.
“As with humans the Jinn are subject to death, but the life span of a Jinn far outweighs that of a human. They almost match our lifespan in terms of longevity. They can also be killed but it is unclear how this is accomplished. They do, however, fear iron. Even shouting out the word ‘iron’ is enough to drive Jinn away. It’s why they usually protect the fae, because we share the same weaknesses we understand one another.” My cousin explained. I could see now why the fae would keep Jinn as close allies. The ability to shift into any being was most definitely useful, goodness knows how many times Sam has had to shift into a critter to save his life!
“So, what’s in the box?” I frowned, nodding to the hunk of metal on the table.
“The Jinn from your mind.” Ata answered with a shrug of her shoulders. Coming from her lips it sounded like something one would say every day, something normal human-fairy hybrids spoke of. “When it opened the door to your advanced telepathy it threw itself into my subconscious. It drained me down quite a bit, hence the calorie-fest we had for breakfast. You see the Jinn has no need to settle in my mind, so it simply sat there, using my energy to fuel itself. I was dog-tired because of it and my head was pounding. I actually ended up asking Godric to sing me to sleep last night as I was in need of some sanity. I haven’t asked him to do that since our human years.” My cousin laughed. I was suddenly swamped with mental pictures of the 2000-year-old vampire singing and found myself unable to contain my own laughter. I would pay good money to witness that!
“When the boys wake for the night I’m going to ask them to put the box in our main safe. I don’t want it out and about where it could be knocked over or opened.” Ata stretched, taking the two empty trays and the now empty glasses over to the kitchen area where she proceeded to load up the dishwasher. A dishwasher was a luxury I couldn’t afford and I was a little envious. Perhaps, with the money left over from Dallas, I could buy myself a new kitchen when I return home. I’d keep the country feel but after all of the blood and death my little house had witnessed, a new kitchen and perhaps a few new other bits and pieces, would do it some good. Eric had restored my kitchen as best as possible but it was time for a complete revamp.
“I’m going to go and change. Toni should be here in a moment. Our daytime guards will be bringing him up so don’t worry if you hear the elevator.” Ata disappeared off back to her bedroom to change, leaving me alone in the living area.
Reaching for the TV remote I hit the mute button to return the sound. The news channel was still on and the reporter was speaking of the VRA. “The Vampire Rights Amendment would enable vampires in America to vote in general elections, to own both private and commercial property in their names, to marry humans, the right to own firearms, to adopt children with their human partners, to own businesses in their names, to have the protection of the US government, the rights to benefits and healthcare, the rights to loans and mortgages, to be recognized as American citizens and to have the protection of the US legal and justice system, both in the US and while abroad. The state of Vermont has already accepted the VRA and many vampires are travelling to the area with their human counterparts in order to receive the full benefits. In a weeks time every state in the US will vote. In today’s world equality is vital, we no longer live in an era where there are those beneath us. If America can pass the VRA then there is hope that vampires will receive equal rights the world over, and our co-existence will continue to be a peaceful one.” The news reporter ended with a huge smile. The news ended there and the screen went black. I couldn’t help but snort at the reporters closing sentence. While I fully supported the VRA, knowing the amount of good vampires far outweighed the bad, and I would most certainly be voting for it, the thought that we could all co-exist peacefully was ridiculous. In a way though I was biased. I was right in the middle of vampire politics, I had been on the receiving end of all of their blood and gore and chaos since day one, and had been used by vampire monarchs in order to further their power, to allow them to walk in the sunlight. If only humans knew the truth.
The sound of the elevator opening drew my attention across the room and I rose from my seat. The Were guards entered first, followed closely behind by a tall and slender man. He looked to be in his early twenties, his brown hair was longer on the top than the sides and was perfectly coifed. He had a light dusting of facial fuzz and a pair of black-rimmed glasses on. His eyes were hazel and alert and in his hands he carried two big trunks. One of the Were guards was wheeling another trunk in. This Toni was actually rather cute and he screamed beautician/hairdresser. “Ahh you must be Sookie!” he gushed, all but dropping his trunks to scamper over to me before pulling me into a bone-crushing cuddle. “Oh darling, there are so many things I can do for you! Your complexion is just wonderful so I wouldn’t dare to work with that, but your hair…have you ever thought of going a shade darker for the winter? What about painting your nails a sinful red!” he exclaimed, letting go of me to lift up my hands, examining my nails. To say I was shell-shocked would be an understatement. I didn’t even know this guy and here he was with his hands all over me, wanting to doll me up!
“Toni! Don’t frighten away my cousin!” Ata’s laughter echoed around the room as she remerged from the bedroom, dressed in a white robe with her blonde hair pulled up into a bun. In her hands she held a small box.
Instantly Toni let me go, running across the room to scoop my cousin up in his arms. Dropping myself back onto the sofa I watched them together. “Atzi! Oh goodness girly you look fabulous!” he took a step back to admire Ata before they exchanged cheek kisses. “Now, I hear you’re going to a fancy shindig this evening and that both you and your gorgeous cousin need to be primped!” Toni looked over to me with a huge grin. I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get away with saying no.
Padding her way to the kitchen Ata worked quickly to gather a pitcher of sweet tea and three glasses, bringing with her a plate of cookies and biscuits. Placing them down on the coffee table she opened the small box she had entered with, revealing a camcorder. “I figured we could start filming our days, so our vampires can see what we get up to.” She told me with a grin, setting it up before she placed it on the kitchen counter facing us. Sitting back on the sofa, Ata stretched her legs out in front of her. “Primp us then, my dear!” she grinned, settling down.
Over the years I had received very few spa treatments. I’d never had the money to do so yet the few times I had been I’d found them extremely relaxing. “Ata, I’m not going to the party.” I murmured to my cousin as Toni moved his trunks over to us, opening one.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all of this with me Sookie!” Ata informed me happily. Clearly this sort of treatment was something she was used to and loved. Toni set up two inflatable footbaths and, with a huge jug in hand, went to the kitchen to gather some water for them. “Have you ever had anything like this before?” Ata asked me as Toni returned, a grin on his features as he filled up my footbath. He disappeared off again to get more water for Ata’s tub.
Shaking my head I dropped my gaze. “I was never able to afford all this luxury. Occasionally I would get things like this done, but I usually needed the money for the mortgage or food.” I stated with a shrug of my shoulders. I could never have a lifestyle like Ata’s. She could spend all day lounging by the pool, shopping, having beauty treatments, etc. Of course she ran her business, and she ran it well, but she had the help of her progenies with that and with their vampire speed they were able to get through things an awful lot faster.
“Now ladies, lavender or rose?” Toni broke through our conversation, holding up two bottles of bath bubbles now that he had filled up Ata’s foot bath.
“Lavender, please.” I asked gently, watching as Toni poured in a considerable amount of liquid. Swishing his hand in the water the bubbles materialized and he took my feet, rolling up my pants to make sure they wouldn’t get wet before sliding my feet into the water. It was blissfully warm and smelt incredible. I found myself sinking into the sofa. Ata watched on with an indulgent smile. “I could do with one of these after a shift at Merlotte’s.” I muttered as Ata selected the rose bubbles, slipping her feet into the water a moment later when the bubbles had appeared.
“Sook, I know it’s not really my business but when all of this is said and done are you really going to be returning to your old job?” Ata questioned, sinking back into the sofa too. “You could work here with me?” she offered with a large smile. “Or in one of my multiple businesses, or you could even work for Eric in one of the businesses he owns!” my cousin proposed.
Sighing softly I shook my head. “I like my job at Merlotte’s. I know how to do my job, I know the people there, and I’m good at waitressing. While I appreciate your offer I could never relocate to Vegas. I love Louisiana too much and my family home and all my memories are there.” I explained, swishing my feet in the tub a little. Toni chuckled at my childish swishing, taking one of my feet in his hands. Grabbing a foot scrubber he started to work off the dead skin in slow, even strokes. “I could never work for Eric either, that would be weird. I wouldn’t want people to think I got the job because I’m sleeping with the boss either.” I cringed, memories of the times when I had heard Sam fantasizing about us in his head sprung to mind.
“Sook, you may not have a degree but you have your gift, you could use that to make some money. I read my human employees all the time to ensure that they’re all loyal. You could set up a business for Supes where you read their human employees!” Ata hinted as Toni swapped over, tending to my other foot.
“I don’t know Ata, I really don’t know. Merlotte’s offers me some sense of normality y’know? I get to interact with people who are fully human.” I pointed out, grasping at straws as to why I should keep my job. In all honesty Ata was right. There was no way I could return to Merlotte’s after everything that had happened in the past few years of my life. Sam deserved reliable waitresses and I was above all of the nasty thoughts of the customers. To them I would always be ‘Crazy Sookie’; they would never respect me or treat me like their equal. If I were to work in a Supe establishment, or start up my own business, then I would get some respect, I would be treated well and I’d probably earn a little more than I would on my Merlotte’s wages.
“You’d earn a lot more. Your service would be unique so you could charge as much as you wanted Sookie. Think about it, you could renovate your house, buy yourself a new car, treat yourself to pedicures and manicures each week.” Ata grinned in my direction as Toni moved on to her feet, scrubbing them free of any dead skin. As Ata obviously underwent this treatment frequently it didn’t take long for her feet to be free of dead skin.
“I haven’t the first clue how to set up a business and if I did that then more Supes would know about me, know what I am.” I pointed out, nibbling on my lower lip.
“I have businesses and Eric has businesses, we’d help you.” Ata informed me as Toni took our feet out of the footbaths, draining the water out of them before towel drying us down. “You might find that many Supes will be in your debt as you rat out their untrustworthy employees. You’d most likely gain their protection. I ratted out the King of California’s gold-digger girlfriend – she was planning on staking him during the day – and ever since then Edgar has looked out for me. He’s taking care of me this evening.” Ata grinned.
“What colour polish would you like, Sookie?” Toni looked up with a grin. I noted Ata lean over to grab her glass of sweet tea, offering me mine. Graciously I took it, taking a sip before answering.
“A deep red, if you have one please.” I decided, picking out Eric’s favorite colour in a hope he would appreciate it. With a nod Toni pulled out a beautiful deep red polish and set about buffing, filing and painting my nails.
“Have you seen the dress Godric get you yesterday?” I asked my cousin, watching as she picked up the cookie plate, offering me one. Taking one I took a small bite.
“No, but I managed to pull from his mind last night that it’s a dark blue colour so I think I might go for midnight coloured nails with glitter bits on, to look like the stars.” She grinned, her excitement bubbling over. I couldn’t help but giggle. Though I was worried for Ata this evening I had a feeling she’d be okay, there were plenty of people there to watch out for her. Then again sometimes my feelings were a little bit off. After all I fell for Bill’s bullshit hook, line, and sinker.
We lapsed into silence as Toni finished off my toes. Placing tissue between them, he told me to not move or the varnish would smudge. Obliging I sat and watched as he expertly painted Ata’s toes a beautiful shade of midnight blue before he grabbed a small canister of glitter, which he shook over them to create a night sky effect. “They’re so pretty.” Ata gushed, wiggling her toes as she admired them.
“You seem to love everything I do for you, Ata.” Toni chuckled, moving back to his bag to pull out a small hand dish. Going to the sink in the kitchen he filled it with warm water, adding the lavender bubbles in for me again. Placing the dish on a tray he popped it onto my lap, placing my hands in the water. He repeated the process for Ata, adding in the rose bubbled for her.
“It’s because you’re so good at your job.” Ata teased the boy. I couldn’t help but smile at him as he took one of my hands out of the water, starting to file my nails into a perfect curve.
“You flatter me too much.” He gushed, blushing an adorable shade of red. I couldn’t help but coo! “Would you like your hands the same colour?” he asked me, continuing to buff my nails. With a nod I made my decision, watching as Toni started to paint my fingernails. “I will say now though Atzi, drawing up those tattoos was a nightmare. Where the heck did you get them? They were so darn intricate.” He shook his head, poking his tongue out of his mouth a little in concentration.
“My bonded. I figured it would be the ultimate fuck off to Felipe.” My cousin gave a small laugh, shrugging her shoulders.
Toni stopped working, having finished one of my hands, and turned his head to look at Ata. “It’s Felipe’s party you’re attending? Rather you than me sugarplum.” He gave a cheeky grin. You didn’t have to be a telepath to know Toni wanted to ask about Godric, but he kept his mouth shut and focused on his work. Having finished my hands he instructed me to hold them in front of me, fingers spread, in order to help them dry quicker.
Moving on to Ata, Toni took one of her hands and started to paint her fingernails the same shade as her toes. “What was it like?” I asked, suddenly feeling this overwhelming curiosity to hear about Ata’s life and everything she had ever done. Last night she had proven that she still held fast to her old religion, that she still believed in her own Gods and Goddesses, and yet she had also taken on a more modern Wiccan element to the practice, trying to make it more socially acceptable. Of course Wiccan’s were still sometimes thought ill of, which was a crying shame. Having grown up an outcast, pushed out from the crowd and laughed at by others, having people think mean things about me and torment me for being ‘disabled’ I’d learnt that not everyone was what they seemed, that there was always more to a person and certain events shaped them. Of course the passing of Ata’s family and her loss of Godric had shaped her initially, but after she left Egypt I had no clue what she had done with herself for the 1000 years before she met Egor and Agmund.
“What was what like?” Ata asked me gently as Toni finished one hand, moving on to the other.
“Life during Egyptian times, and after.” I answered. I’d already poked around in Toni’s head and had been surprised to find out that he knew all about Ata, about her heritage and her lineage.
My cousin fell silent for a moment and the same distant look that entered Eric’s eyes whenever he was thinking of his past entered her own. “It was so different to today. Our life revolved around survival and family, around food and water. We couldn’t head on out to Kmart when the milk was running low; we had to work for it. As a member of the royal family I wasn’t allowed to work, but I would watch others from the palace windows. I used to watch Godric, as he would work. You should have seen him Sook, honestly.” A small smile crossed her lips and though I could tell she was happy she had been gifted with his company during her childhood, it still weighed down on her that her father had taken him from his home, separated him from his mother at such a young age.
“You can show me.” I offered out the hand Toni had painted first, knowing it would be dry by now. Slowly I placed it on Ata’s exposed arm, the skin-to-skin contact boosting the strength of our telepathy. “I want to see everything, all the time you spent with him from your first meeting to the last time you saw him.” I stated firmly. I needed to do this, I needed to see what Ata’s life had been like, how she’d been treated. Although I had grown up an outcast I had been blessed with the unconditional love of my grandmother, and I feared that Ata had never received such love. It was a theory of mine as to the reason why Ata so freely gave her love to everyone around her. She didn’t need to take in Oscar but she did, she didn’t need to be nice to Isabel and get along with her last night but she did, she didn’t need to be civil to Pam and yet she was. She seemed to accept everyone when no one had really accepted her. I could only guess it was why she kept vampires for company; they had no right to judge given their own traits and abilities. The interactions I had witnessed between Ata and her boys had been sweet. They had given her the respect a mother should deserve and yet they acted like best friends, old pals who knew everything about one another. It reminded me of Tara and Lafayette.
During our school years we had all been the outcasts, bullied because of the fact we were different. We’d all joined together out of a need to have friends, to have people who could understand us and support us. Tara had been called out for her alcoholic abusive momma, and even her race. The South and racism had always gone hand in hand but over the years I’d witnessed it slowly retreating. Of course there were always a few, like Arlene, who were still firm on their ideas and beliefs. Lafayette had been bullied due to his sexual orientation. Even from an early age he’d dislike women on a sexual and romantic level but, just like the racism which he also suffered from, he was abused because of it. There were few men in the town that would look his way, let alone speak with him. I couldn’t blame him for looking further afield for his lovers, like Jesus. Jesus had been wonderful for Lala, he’d kept him grounded and he understood him. I think it helped that he looked after his momma; Gran had always told me that a man who got on with the parents was always a keeper. It was just a shame momma and daddy would never get to meet Eric. They probably wouldn’t have been very accepting of him, but Gran would have been.
I had to hold back my tears at the thought of Gran. I’d been so young when I’d lost my parents that I hadn’t really mourned for them, and when the time came when I understood that the fact they had ‘taken a vacation with Jesus’ meant they had died, I couldn’t muster it up inside of me to cry and bawl over them. I’m such a bad Christian, and a bad daughter. I had been able to mourn over Gran though, and I would forever be haunted by the vision of her on Halloween. She’d told me there was nothing to be afraid of, that we’re all alone in the end. Such a statement was true if you actually had an end but now that Eric was my mate, and that we would no doubt complete the third bond some time, I would never an end. I’d live on forever. Two years ago the thought of living forever scared me, as I had always assumed the only way I would ever be able to do such a thing would be to sprout fangs and sleep in the day. Knowing now that I would get to keep my heartbeat though, that I would be able to lounge in the sunshine and eat human food, well, it didn’t really sound too bad really. My only concern was Jason. One day he would grow old and die and I would stay looking young and radiant.
Feeling myself falling into a vast swirl of darker thoughts I pulled myself up and out of it, snapping my attention back to Ata who was looking at me curiously, her head tipped sideways a little like a puppy dog. Eric did that on occasion, whenever I’d said something that confused him or if he found something curious, and the thought of the two of them sharing the same traits caused me to smile. I prayed they would be able to get along.
I wanted to see Ata’s life with Godric so I could try and understand what 2000 years worth of love was like, how such a tie could be formed and then reawakened 2000 years later. I knew deep down inside of me that Eric was the only one for me; there would never be any other, not even Bill. Bill would always hold a piece of me, he’d been my first everything and I had almost married him, but Eric took all those firsts and bettered them. He didn’t baby me and lie to me, pretend to be something he wasn’t. I was well aware of his vicious and cold nature, I’d witnessed him kill a man by plucking his heart out of his chest and then drink from his artery for goodness sake, but I was also aware of the man underneath that, the man who was in need of some affection and love from a female companion. The man in need of an equal.
Toni rose to his feet from his position kneeling before us. He’d finished polishing our nails by now. Extracting a hair tie and two headbands from his kit bag, he tied up my hair before he used the hair band to push my fringe out of the way. He used the other headband on Ata, though her hair was tied up already so there was no need for him to do that. From his bag he took out a tub of green coloured gel and my initial reaction was one of horror. It looked disgusting. What on earth was he planning on doing with that? “It’s a face mask, don’t worry. It’ll make your skin look and smell incredible, keep it nice and smooth like a babies bottom!” he grinned, removing the lid of the container. I still wasn’t sold on the idea but if Ata was going to allow him to smear this gunk on her face then I would too. When in Rome, do as the Roman’s do.
I couldn’t help but burst into laughter at that thought. I actually was sat with someone who was half Roman, truly Roman! Shaking my head at the absurdity of it, I knew I would have to find time to reflect on how mad my life had become over the past few years, but for now my survival was my top priority.
As Toni started to apply the cool gel to my face I closed my eyes and instantaneously I was transported back in time. It was like a movie playing in my mind and I knew it was coming from Ata. After all, who could the cute blonde girl with shoulder length curls, a flawless complexion and bright blue eyes be? We were in a palace, the high walls made of limestone, hieroglyphics carved into them. The young Ata was padding down the hallway, a tiny doll in her hands. She had to be no older than ten and yet it was clear she was well advanced for her age. “Itf!” the young Ata squealed as a man who appeared to be in his forties came into view.
“Ata!” he responded in a booming voice, crouching down and throwing his arms wide open. Ata took off in a run down the corridor, flinging herself into his arms. He enveloped her in his embrace, holding her close to his chest as he scooped her up, swinging her around happily. Their musical laughter was beautiful.
The man consigned Ata back to the floor and the moment she was stood beside him I noticed their similarities. Although their hair was different in colour, and the man was stating to go bald, their eyes were the same shade of blue and their skin the same pale white. Ata even had his nose. It was obvious that he was her father. I was witnessing Julius Caesar! He was tall and well built, dressed in a senator’s tunic and was well groomed.
“Your mother is choosing new slaves for the palace.” He informed her. His lips were moving and yet those were not the words he was uttering. Ata was translating for me! I was grateful for it; I would never understand Ancient Egyptian, or Arabic. I’d like to learn how to read and write hieroglyphics though, it was quirky and so few people knew it off by heart that I might be able to use it in the future to communicate with others. Little Ata pushed open a huge set of double doors and entered an ancient throne room. The path was blocked by a group of men but the moment Ata approached they parted, allowing her through. I watched as she told her mother she wanted a new friend and then set about scouring the line of slaves. Her mother had been beautiful – long jet black hair, soft hazel eyes and a slender build. Her limbs were shapely and it was obvious, though she had retained her femininity, that she was strong and knowledgeable. Even though I was witnessing the scene as an outsider I could feel everything Ata had felt at the time and I could hear the thoughts of the slaves, which Ata thankfully translated for me. I watched as she paused before Godric, running her fingers over the marks on his arms, moving his bangs out of the way.
I could feel the magnetic pull she’d had to him, the moment her feelings had instantly blossomed towards the young Godric. She picked him as her companion and then the memories sped up, flashing before my eyes. Images of the pair of them walking alongside the Nile together, swimming together, talking together, when Godric plucked a flower from a bush and placed it in Ata’s hair, when Ata would watch him work the fields, his young muscles flexing in the bright Egyptian sunshine, when she went to visit him at his home during the day, when he’d slept beside her as she’d drawn him and when he’d placed her very first kiss upon her lips. I felt each and every emotion as the scenes played over in my head, shocked and surprised by the love that grew between them. The pulling of their souls, due to the fae bond having been started upon their first meeting, had caused their feelings for one another to grow quickly. They had both been worried to voice their feelings because of their different backgrounds, the social standards of the time. It was tragic. They reminded me so much of Romeo and Juliet.
The flashbacks ended as I felt a light tugging on my skin and my eyes flew open to witness Toni pulling the now dried green gel off of my face. It had hardened and created a mask. My skin felt clean and my pores felt tight. There was no way I was going to be suffering from an outbreak any time soon. “You were childhood sweethearts.” I cooed as Toni removed Ata’s mask. A smile crossed over her lips and she nodded, mentally telling herself that she very much liked that description of them.
“Ata, how do you want your hair this evening? Are you going to be wearing a crown?” Toni asked as he pulled out a barstool, arranging it in the middle of the room so he would have 360-degree access to whoever was sat on it.
“I’m thinking a middle parting, in loose curls. I won’t be wearing a crown though; I’ll probably don a tiara instead. Although it’s my right to wear a crown if I do so around Felipe it would show a struggle for power, people may think I’m trying to uproot him as monarch. Plus some might get the wrong idea and think I’m his Queen.” She pulled a face, wrinkling her nose. I laughed at Ata’s expression. I had never met this Felipe and yet judging by the conversation’s I had heard regarding him he wasn’t a particularly nice man.
Taking a cookie from the plate I contemplated everything Ata had shown me. Their love was so pure and it had lasted for so long. I could only pray that the love Eric and I shared would last just as long. I would always fight with Eric, it was a given we would clash horns every now and then because we were too alike, but I hoped that we would overcome anything and everything thrown our way. Now that we had agreed to a proper relationship, Eric had started to tell me more. Should he ever make plans I wanted to be in on them, to know what was going on around me. For so long now I had relied on others, always left in the dark regarding matters concerning me. If I couldn’t have a fucking normal life then I would want to be in as much control of it as possible.
Toni pulled out a pair of curling tongues, plugging them in and resting them on a heat up mat in order to protect the surface they were on. After a moment they beeped, signaling that they were hot enough. Running a brush through Ata’s locks, Toni set about pinning sections up, curling the underside before spraying them with hairspray to keep them securely in place. “Ata, if the VRA passes what will you do?” I asked, curious as to how that little piece of legislation would impact Ata’s life. I could imagine that Eric would put Fangtasia in his own name, though I was unsure whose name it was currently in, and that he would take full advantage of the benefits the government could offer him. Although I had a feeling Eric wasn’t really a fan of politics and the hierarchy I knew he played the game in order to keep himself afloat, to ensure he led a relatively peaceful existence.
My cousin lost herself in thought for a moment, contemplating and formulating her answer. “I want to travel. The other night Godric said he would come with me and we could see the world together. I’d go and do that, knowing he would have the same rights as everyone else. I’d leave this place to my boys, put it in their names so they would have some security and I’d give the role of Sherriff to Ari. I’d probably buy a house on the outskirts of the city, with a large garden and a vegetable patch. It’s been a while since I’ve had a garden that I could go out and tend to. Before vampires came out of the coffin I was forced to spend all day inside, locked away with the boys. I hardly ever saw the sunshine. It was the only way to keep me safe. I ended up having to go to Faery in order to recuperate. I think I might even look into adoption; I’d like that, to have a child running about the house. Of course I would ask Godric what his thoughts are on the matter, I wouldn’t just pitch up with a child and expect him to help me take care of him or her. I just want a peaceful existence. I want to get rid of all the politics, the stress.”
As Ata spoke of what she wished for herself, for her little family, I couldn’t help but find myself agreeing. I used to think I would be able to get away from all the vampire politics, that there would be a time where I wouldn’t be an asset or a political pawn. But, as Gran would say, you can’t have your cake and eat it. There would always be some vampire or other supernatural after me for their own personal gain, not giving a shit about my feelings and thoughts on the matter.
“What would you do?” my cousin asked in response as Toni unpinned some of her hair, curling the next layer.
“I always use to want to get married, have babies and grandbabies, sit on my porch swing and watch them play all day. But after Bill proposed and I found out he was only doing it on his Queen’s orders, I don’t know if I would want to get married. It’d kind of put me off. I mean, I know that technically once I’m bonded three times I’ll be married by vampire custom, but I don’t think I could do the whole white dress and church thing anymore. I don’t think I would adopt either, not with all the vampire shit following me around. I would never want to put a baby in that position.” I confessed with a sigh, running a hand through my hair. My nails were now dry so I didn’t have to worry about ruining them.
“But Bill and Eric are so different Sookie. While Bill was going to marry you on his Queen’s orders, Eric would marry you because he loves you.” My cousin pointed out. The thought of marriage still sat uncomfortably with me.
Squirming in my seat, I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know Ata, I just don’t know. He doesn’t strike me as the sort to settle down, we haven’t even spoken of monogamy yet.” I confessed feeling a little silly. Vampires were sexual creatures by nature, they were bound to seek pleasure from others all the time, yet my Southern upbringing and my human sensibilities meant that the thought of anyone else wanting my Viking angered me, as did the thought of him being with anyone else.
“Has he fed on anyone else since the two of you became official? Has he had sex with anyone else since the pair of you decided to become one?” Ata questioned me in a serious tone as Toni took the last few strands of her hair, curling them around the hot irons.
Taking a moment to think about it I realized Eric hadn’t drank from or had sex with anyone else in the whole time we’d been together. He’d drained Claudine during his period of amnesia but her scent had overpowered him. I couldn’t blame him for that. I believed that he hadn’t taken a single partner ever since I’d found him running down that road, shirtless and barefoot. “No he hasn’t.” I answered quietly.
“I know he respects you and loves you enough not to take from someone else. You might want to talk to him about it though, you need to hear it from his lips.” My cousin offered with a smile as Toni finished off her hair.
“Where’s your tiara my dear?” he asked, hair-spraying her to death before fluffing her blonde locks.
“Locked away in the safe, Ari will get it for us when he rises.” Ata responded, taking the handheld mirror Toni offered her.
“Ohh I love it!” she gushed, fluffing it a little herself as she admired the perfectly formed curls. I had to admit myself that Toni had done a really good job.
“If you marry this Eric the two of you were speaking of, I am doing your hair on your wedding day my dear. I already have so many wonderful ideas!” Toni exclaimed, turning to look at me with a Cheshire cat grin. Groaning internally I offered a shy smile in response, already feeling the blush blossoming across my skin.
Offering Ata his hand, Toni helped her down from the stool. “Now my darling, strip for me!” he ordered, moving to the trunk one of the Were guards had brought up with him. Opening it he revealed three sheets of a plastic and paper looking material. One sheet was huge, the other medium sized and the final one was small. Without a second though Ata removed her robe, throwing it onto the vacant sofa. She stood in a small pair of cream underwear and a matching backless bra, held up by the usual bra straps across her shoulders.
Grabbing a spray bottle, Toni poured in a solution from another bottle that was unlabeled. He then went into the kitchen and filled the spray bottle with water until it reached the top. “If the VRA passes, would you marry Godric?” I asked, grabbing another cookie from the plate to eat. Ata leant over the table, picking up a cookie of her own which she started to pick at.
“In a heartbeat.” She responded quickly, a smile forming on her lips at the thought as she took a nibble of her cookie. “We were deprived of it in our human years. I want to tie myself to him in every way possible, let the world know that I love him.” My cousin responded honestly as she took another bite of her cookie.
“I hope to get an invite.” I grinned, imagining how the pair of them would look getting married.
“You’d be my maid of honor, Sook.” Ata told me tenderly. I couldn’t help but tear up a little at her words, my emotions getting the better of me. I had always hoped to be Tara’s maid of honor, but with her recent confession to preferring women over men I knew it would be a while before she would be allowed to marry while residing in the South. As I’d been reminded earlier, Tara was facing abuse because of her race and her sexual orientation, and it would be a long and slow process for the South to accept both things and put laws in place to allow people like Tara to the have same treatment as others. The thought of being Ata’s maid of honor, seeing her tie the knot after 2000 years of romantic loneliness, it was endearing and heart warming. I could honestly say I only had the best of wishes for her and Godric.
If someone had of told me up on that roof in Dallas two years ago that I would find a cousin who would teach me everything and give Godric some purpose again after 2000 years of anger, hatred and killing, I would have laughed at them and called them deranged. I’d witnessed Godric lost in his despair, willing to meet the sun to atone for all of his sins, and I had witnessed Ata’s despair the other day when we had been training, when she’d been being forced to marry a man she didn’t love and care for. Now they’d both forgotten about those dark times, focusing on one another and rebuilding their relationship.
“I bet he’d buy you a huge diamond.” I couldn’t help but tease, watching as Toni took her arm, picking up the medium sized piece of plastic and paper. He lifted Ata’s arm up, surveying it for a moment and cleaning it before he peeled off the plastic. My eyes captured the pattern on the paper and I couldn’t help but smile. Godric’s zigzag tattoo was on the paper. Positioning it perfectly on Ata’s arm, Toni used the spray bottle to dampen the back, using a cloth to rub the liquid in to transfer the markings onto Ata’s pale skin.
“Nah I doubt it. It would mean more to me if he designed it himself, y’know? I don’t need a huge diamond. Just knowing he designed it specifically with me in mind would be enough for me. I know it’s supposed to be his choice, but I’d love it to be a Harry Winston. I’ve wanted one ever since he started up his business in 1932.” I could practically see Ata swaying on the spot, swooning over the prospect of owning such a rock. It wasn’t really my place to get involved but I stored the information away for the future, so that I could help Godric choose a ring for her.
“What would your ring look like?” Ata questioned me, knocking me out of my thoughts as Toni took out a hairdryer, plugging it into the wall. He peeled off the paper backing to the markings, leaving the beautiful zigzags across Ata’s arm. Popping the hairdryer onto a cool setting he blasted her arm with a diffuser for a few minutes to help it absorb into her skin and set. It was a fascinating process. Picking up the smaller piece of paper and plastic, he moved to Ata’s back, positioning it on the back of her shoulder. Peeling the plastic off he cleaned her skin before he stuck it to her, using the liquid in the spray bottle to help it transfer.
I had already squashed the idea of marriage from a young age, before I had known about vampires, knowing that marrying a human would forever be out of the question, as I would always know what they were thinking, and any physical contact would always amplify their thoughts. Of course the silence I had once received from vampires was gone now, so I would need to work on my shields more, or teach Eric how to, for those nights when I was too tired to focus on keeping my own up.
“I don’t know, I think I’d like something personal though.” I mused, pursing my lips together. “It doesn’t even need to have a diamond in all honesty, or any rock at all.” I decided, imagining what my ring would look like. I would love anything that Eric picked in all honesty.
Toni started to peel the paper from Ata’s back and Godric’s brand appeared on the back of her shoulder, the exact same shade of red. It was a perfect copy and I had to admit that Toni had done a good job. “How does it look?” Ata begged, twisting and turning in an attempt to view it. Laughing at how much she looked like a little puppy dog chasing its tail, I got up from the sofa and grabbed the handheld mirror, holding it up behind her as Toni held up another mirror before her. Ata’s squeal of delight filled the room and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. “It looks so real!” she gushed as Toni and I popped down our hand held mirrors.
“Well duh, I made it!” Toni rolled his eyes, a smile on his lips. Toni’s thoughts had been slowly filtering through my mind over the afternoon. Thankfully he was a quiet broadcaster so his thoughts hadn’t given me a splitting headache. The Advil from earlier had worn off by now and my spine was feeling much better. My headache was practically none existent. Toni’s thoughts had all been wonderfully pleasant, ranging from how much he adored Ata and thought of her as younger sister, even though she was much older than he was, all the way to how much he missed his boyfriend, who was in his home at the moment, and his family who were all back in New York. He didn’t seem to have an issue with Ata’s telepathy, and he didn’t seem to mind mine either. He was a smart guy, having figured out that as we were related I was more likely to share Ata’s talents. He didn’t even judge about the fact we had vampires as our mates. If anything he seemed pleased by it.
As Toni picked up the large sheet he cleaned Ata’s back before peeling back the plastic. Smoothing it onto her skin he started to spray it with the solution, rubbing it in. Waiting for a few minutes he finally peeled the paper off, leaving behind the beautiful sea serpent tattoo. Using the hair dryer once again he helped it set before declaring her markings all done. Of course Ata would need her make-up doing, but it was not unusual for a woman to apply her make-up and then dress, so as not to get her powder or lipstick on her outfit as she pulled it over her head. It was then that I felt Eric wake up in the bond, and seconds later my head was bombarded with loads of different thoughts. Rather than just receiving Eric’s thoughts I was receiving them from all of the vampires in the penthouse. Eric was wondering where I was, Godric was wondering where Ata was, Ari and Khai were thinking of the things they had to do this evening, Riei and Oeri were wondering about Toni’s transformation of Ata, Oscar was hungry, Pam was contemplating what to wear and Egor and Agmund were hoping the security guy would turn up soon, if he wasn’t already here, to fix Ata up with some tech. I was pleasantly surprised however to find that, just like Ata, the mental voices of the vampires matched their physical voices.
Groaning at the onslaught of thoughts I doubled over on the couch, clutching my head between my hands. Ata was at my side rapidly, sitting me back up. “Breathe through it Sook, breathe.” She instructed in a calm yet firm tone. She grabbed hold of my wrists and I could feel her starting to help me rebuild my shields, throwing in some strength as she worked.
“Sookie’s in pain!” I heard the unmistakable sound of Eric’s voice in my head before Ata completed my shields, blocking out all the noise. There was only blissful silence when a whoosh could be heard, my blonde Viking running into the room. Swiftly Eric was beside me, pulling me onto his lap. Ata had thankfully taken a few steps back, allowing Eric easy access to me.
“Sookie! Sookie! What’s the matter?” my vampire demanded, his tone laced with worry, his eyes bearing the same emotion.
“You were all so loud.” I grumbled, reaching up to rub my temples.
“You can hear us?” Eric’s frown of concern promptly vanished and was instead replaced with a large grin. Nodding my head in confirmation, Eric laughed happily. “That’s fantastic! What am I thinking now?” he asked, bowing his head so he could look me in the eyes, as if that would improve my telepathy.
“I don’t know, my shields are up and I don’t feel like bringing them down any time soon. Ata injected some of her mental strength into them when she helped me rebuild them.” I explained. I was worried about the onslaught of thoughts I would hear the moment my shields were down. I was going to need some serious training with them. It would be like starting all over again.
As if remembering Ata’s presence in the room Eric lifted his head to look at my cousin, his eyes drifting to the mark on her arm, her lack of clothing and then to Toni. Toni didn’t seem too bothered by the number of vampires slowly filtering into the room; in fact he even offered smiles to Ata’s boys, all of whom returned them. It was the click of fangs that captured everyone’s attention and we all turned to find a very amorous Godric stood in the doorway, pupils dilated as he took in the scantily clad form of his bonded, now bearing his marks. As Ata trembled under his lustful gaze I felt the wall around my mind crumble a little. Ata was obviously helping me somewhat in keeping them in place and as her own resolve was crumbling, so were my shields. Snippets of the thoughts of the vampires in the room entered my mind, including the passionate thoughts of the 2000-year-old vampire stalking towards Ata with intent. Grabbing her around the waist he pulled her in for a searing kiss, snaking his hands lower down her body. Ata’s resolve returned and I felt the little cracks in my shields fill back up again as she disentangled herself from his embrace. He’d donned a pair of track pants, most likely to spare my human modesty, and seeing the matching markings on the pair of them made me laugh out loud.
Twelve sets of eyes turned to look at me and I had to stifle my laughter at the number of raised eyebrows. I took a moment to pick out whose eyebrow quirk was the best. Pam won hands down. She had the naturally snarky attitude that worked well with such a look. Clamping my hand over my mouth to stifle any more embarrassing noises, I allowed Eric’s hands to wander as he checked me over for any marks from the night before. “I’m fine, Eric. All healed, see?” I offered, holding out my arms for him before I lifted my legs, letting him have a look at those too. “I had a bit of a sore back this morning but it was nothing a few Advil and a mani-pedi couldn’t fix.” I wiggled my fingers and toes, showing off the red polish. A deep rumble from Eric’s chest informed me that the colour choice was to his liking.
“You know red is my favourite colour.” He purred, waggling his eyebrows.
I responded with what I hoped was my best coy smile. “Why I didn’t know that at all.” I feigned innocence, knowing it was one of the reasons Eric had been so captivated by me the moment we had met. He’d been used to the endless procession of pathetic fangbangers who only ever cared about sex and being bitten. I’d been different than them, seen things in a different way.
“Let me see.” Godric’s soft voice floated over to us as he held Ata out at arms length, leisurely twirling her around to get a full 360 view of her. He spent some time admiring her back, following all the lines of the marking Toni had just placed upon her skin. “They’re very good.” He complimented. “Thank you.” He offered to Toni with a smile.
“It’s no problem at all. They were difficult to draw but it was fascinating to look them up to find the meaning behind them. I was working away and getting a history lesson at the same time.” He grinned, already at ease with Godric. I knew from his mind he was a nice enough guy that vampires instantly liked him and gave him the benefit of the doubt. Of course there were a few he was frightened of but he would never admit it out loud, let alone show any outward signs of it. The vampires, with all their parties and social events, were his best clients.
“Have the security people arrived yet?” Agmund asked, taking a step closer to Ata. Slowly he took her from Godric, embracing her for a moment before she was passed around to each of her children, greeting them for the evening. Ata even pulled Oscar in for a hug. Upon reaching Pam she didn’t dare to offer such physical contact and instead went for a small nod, which Pam mimicked.
“They haven’t I’m afraid, but there’s still an hour before the car will be here to get me.” Ata sighed, tucking a loose strand of her blonde locks behind her ear as Godric pulled her back into his arms, not daring to let her go.
“Are you okay, Sookie? Not in any pain?” Pam surprised me by appearing at my side. If I hadn’t of known better I would have sworn there was a hint of worry in her voice, concern even. This was Pam though, and as nice as she had been to me the other night, and as much as we may have discussed and moved on from the past, she would always be cold and emotionless.
“I’m fine, thank you. I guess it was just a shock to my system last night, that’s all. I barely remember any of it if I’m being honest with myself. Ata had to fill me.” I gestured to my cousin before pointing towards the box.
“Ari, can you pop that in the safe for me, please? Make sure no one opens it. I don’t want the bastard getting out.” Ata remembered her idea from earlier to lock away the Jinn.
“What’s in the box, my sweet?” Godric nuzzled her neck, inhaling her sweet scent; seemingly oblivious to the fact she was stood in little more than her underwear.
“A Jinn. It was in Sookie’s mind, protecting her from hearing vampire thoughts. I had to make a deal with it and then it invaded my mind. I spent all morning exorcising it.” She shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose.
“There was a Jinn in your mind?” Oeri’s eyebrow rose as he directed the question at me. With a nod I confirmed his query. Although Ata had told me a lot about the Jinn earlier on, I didn’t feel like I had the knowledge to answer any more questions on the subject.
“Whoever planted it there has serious resources.” Eric mused aloud.
“We think it might have been Niall or Fintan.” Ata offered as a way of explanation, to which Eric seemed to nod in agreement.
“That explains why you were bleeding last night, why you were so tired.” The pieces seemed to fall into place in Godric’s mind as he made sense of it all. With a nod similar to mine, Ata confirmed his speculation. During our brief exchange Ari had taken the metal box and locked it away, and now he was back in the room.
“Ata, I don’t want to overstep any lines but once again I suggest you let your hormones run a little loose and take a few deep pulls of Godric’s blood, you need to have his scent all over and in you. It’ll be the only way for others to know you’re off the market and that you’re not Felipe’s.” Ari suggested having already donned a pair of perfectly tailored black suit pants and a crisp white shirt.
The furious blush that overtook Ata’s features was highly amusing to me, though I was sobered by the fact that I probably looked like that whenever Eric made a sexual comment towards me, or simply loomed over me. That man was both intimidating and gorgeous at the same time. It should be illegal for someone to be flawless.
“Hm I’m agreeable to that.” Godric all but purred, pulling Ata back towards the windowless corridor that led to their bedroom.
“You have twenty minutes Atzi, then I need to do your make-up, so make it a quickie!” Toni called out with a chuckle as the pair left the room, seemingly not fazed with the fact one of his best gal pals was about to get laid.
Still seated in Eric’s lap, my Viking vampire brushed my hair out of my face, checking me over once again for any marks. “I’m fine Eric, honestly.” I breathed, gently batting his hands out of the way.
“I was so worried about you last night, you were in so much pain.” He whispered, the agony of remembering evident in his voice. He’d been pulling the pain from me all night, I knew that much. He had been taking the pain for me so that I wouldn’t suffer.
“You took it away though, you carried it with me. Thank you.” I murmured in response, pressing my lips to his in a reassuring kiss.
“Are you okay? Ata’s injury last night didn’t hurt you as well did it?” I could faintly hear Pam conversing with Ari, her voice laced with a very low level of concern. It was obvious Eric picked up on it too as he smiled against my lips, slowly pulling away to open his eyes, gazing over my shoulder to watch his Childe as she conversed with Ata’s eldest.
“I’m fine, Pamela, honestly. Though I thank you for your concern.” The old Egyptian reassured her with a warm smile, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze. I had a funny feeling that had it been anyone else touching her, Pam would have ripped him or her apart.
“Yeah well, good.” She murmured before her voice took on its usual stoic tone. “Can’t have you injured and unable to protect Ata this evening. If something were to happen to her it would devastate my Grandsire.” She placed a hand on her hip.
Ari’s lips twitched, the faintest hint of a smirk appearing on them as he took note of her cover-up reasoning. Pam was so transparent at times. “You’re right. We can’t have that at all, can we?”