A/N little bit lemony, G needs to claim A before she goes off to party!
S and E lemony goodness shortly! It’s been a while since either couple got some loving me thinks.
Some parts of this chapter might be a repeat from the last one as it’s a different POV of the last chapter really, and of course the vampires get to watch the video from the day that the girls forgot was recording every conversation 😉
You know I still get lost in your eyes, with your lips and your kiss and your hand in mine.
You’re all that I need and I promise I’ll sleep fine tonight just knowing you’re here by my side.
Don’t give this up, don’t give this up.
I’m not saying that I don’t believe, I’m exactly where I want to be, don’t you take that from me no.
You keep on running, you’re running away, I’ll be here waiting wishing you could see.
I’ll just remember the promise that you made whoa I’ll keep on fighting; I’m fighting for you I swear.
I would give you the sun and the moon if you’ll just remember the promise that you made .
Oh, oh, oh, oh I’m not saying that I don’t believe I’m exactly where I want to be.
Don’t you take that from me no, I’m not saying that I don’t believe I’m exactly where I want to be.
Don’t you take that from me, don’t you take that from me.
~ The Promise, Framing Hanley
I hated waking to find Ata missing from our bed. Using our bond to my advantage, I tracked her location. Thankfully she was still in the penthouse and seemed in good spirits. Pulling on a loose fitting pair of track pants I decided to go without my shirt, this was home after all. Removing my beloved’s dress and accessories from the place I’d hidden them in, I quickly set up the wardrobe with them, ready for my love. Emerging from our bedroom I could hear the sound of chatter and laughter from the living area. I could sense my Childe in the room, along with Pam, Sookie, Ata’s boys and, of course, my bonded.
Turning into the room my eyes were instantly drawn to Ata and without so much as a warning my fangs dropped into place, my lust reaching an indescribably level as I took in the appearance of my mate scantily clad in pretty underwear while bearing my markings upon her creamy skin. Ata wavered under my lustful gaze. Oh the things I want to do to her! Rip off those panties and fuck her mercilessly against the wall, rub myself all over her, sink my fangs into her neck. Prowling towards her I had my arms wrapped around her waist in no time, pressing my lips to hers in a passionate and heated kiss. My hands slipped lower, cupping her behind as I pulled her even closer, pressing my prominent arousal against her crotch, which I could already tell was a little damp with her own arousal. For a moment I felt her lose herself in our kiss, but then suddenly she pulled back, obviously having gained a grip on her emotions. I was still lost in my emotions though, seeing her bearing my markings and dressed in next to nothing had stirred such primal feelings deep inside of me that I thought I had conquered long ago.
Sookie’s laughter broke me out of my lustful daze, and I turned to face the young giggling fae. The young fae clamped a hand over her mouth before she conversed with my Childe, showing off her freshly painted nails. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of my beloved however.
“Let me see.” I asked in a soft voice, moving Ata out to hold her at arms length, slowly twirling her before me so I could get a full 360-degree view of her. She looked incredible; my markings were perfect upon her body. Though I preferred her unmarred skin I found myself liking the fact she was branded as mine. As soon as that thought crossed my mind it sickened me. For a moment I realized that was how my Master, and subsequently my Maker, had felt when he had burnt the red brand into my shoulder blade. If vampires could throw up I probably would have by now. As Ata’s back came into sight I stopped her movements, looking over the sea serpent tattoo. It was beautiful and many hours had obviously gone into drawing it up to make it look exactly like mine. I had noticed Toni while Eric and Sookie had been talking, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out he had dealt with Ata’s hair and markings, and that he would do her make-up later on.
“They’re very good,” I complimented the boy. “Thank you.” I offered him with a smile, wanting to be on good terms with him. He was no threat, there was no way my Ata would be romantically interested in him, and therefore I felt at ease around him and wanted the same in return.
“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 me. He clearly worked with plenty of vampires and their human companions.
“Have the security people arrived yet?” Agmund asked taking a step closer to Ata. Slowly he took her from me, embracing her for a moment before she was passed around to each of her children, greeting them for the evening. My beloved even pulled Oscar in for a hug. Upon reaching Pam however, she didn’t dare to offer such physical contact and instead went for a small nod, which Pam responded.
“They haven’t I’m afraid, but there’s still an hour before the car will be here to pick me up.” Ata sighed, tucking a loose strand of her blonde locks behind her ear as I pulled her back into my arms. I didn’t want her to go to the party this evening, I wanted to lock us away in our room and have my way with her until dawn, take her on every available surface in every available position.
“Are you okay, Sookie? Not in any pain?” Pam asked Sookie, seemingly concerned for her new Mistress.
“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.” Sookie gestured to my beloved.
“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 gestured towards a metal box on the table, and the shift in her emotions had me curious as to the boxes content.
“What’s in the box, my sweet?” I nuzzled her neck, inhaling her sweet scent; not caring that she was stood in little more than her underwear. She smelled so intoxicating, her soft warm skin rubbing against my cold marble skin. It was an incredible sensation and I purred at the contrast.
“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 kicking it out.” 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 Sookie. With a nod she confirmed his query.
“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 my mind as I made sense of it all. With a nod Ata confirmed my statements. She had been hurt getting the Jinn out of Sookie’s mind, and it had taken up residence in her mind for the time being. Pressing a tender kiss to her temple I couldn’t help but admire how strong she was. Even in her human years she had been so strong, and now she was even stronger. I was in awe of my beloved, how much she had lived through, facing the days alone, dealing with the discrimination against women that had been common in the past. During our brief exchange Ari had taken the metal box and locked it away, and now he was back in the room.
“Ata, I suggest you dress for this evening so Toni can apply your make-up. I don’t want to overstep my mark 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 for later on the evening. Although I was now aware of their Maker-Childe bond and that there was nothing else to their relationship, I couldn’t help but be jealous of the other male. He’d been turned when he’d been much older so he appeared a lot more mature; people probably took him seriously and felt threatened by his height and build. He took care of Ata when I was unable to, and they looked at one another with such adoration that I found myself unable to hold back my possessiveness.
“Hm I’m agreeable to that.” I purred, tightening my hold on Ata’s waist as I pulled her back towards the windowless corridor that led to our 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. Twenty minutes was plenty of time. I could make my little faery scream my name several times before then.
The moment we were in our bedroom I slammed the door shut, pinning Ata to it. I was careful not to let her back come into contact with the wood though, using my hands to create a gap. I was unsure how dry her markings were and I didn’t want to smudge them. My lips met hers in a furious kiss and, rocking on the balls of her feet she pushed herself up, her legs wrapping around my waist, tightening to pull me close, causing our crotches to rub together. Groaning lowly at the feeling, I hissed as Ata dragged her nails across my scalp, thrusting her tongue into my mouth. Pulling back, she wiggled free from me, her feet meeting the floor. Walking me back a few steps she gave me a shove and I landed on our bed, bouncing slightly as I sat. “You’re wearing too much.” She declared, divesting me of my track pants within seconds.
Springing free from the confines of the material, Ata licked her lips, a low groan reverberating from her chest. “I can’t wait to taste you.” She whispered, looking up at me from under her naturally long lashes as she sunk to her knees before me. Her words did nothing to quell my rising lust. Although I’d seen nearly everything the world had to offer in my 2000 years, the sight of my beloved on her knees in front of me, drawing me into her mouth, was exhilarating. I had to rely on my centuries of control to not lose it and fuck her right away. Her tongue laved over the head, causing me to shudder in bliss. Slowly she started to nibble on me, nipping sharply every now and then, which drew a hiss from me, before she soothed her nips with long, languid strokes of her tongue. Her small hands were wrapped around the parts of me that she couldn’t get in her mouth, and slowly she started to pump. Running her tongue along the underside of me, she soon engulfed me completely. Crying out at the sensation of her hot, wet mouth wrapped around my cool member, my hands knotted in her hair as I pulled her closer, causing my shaft to slip down her throat for a moment. Pulling her head back a little, she started to bob, sucking me like I was some sort of sugary treat. She suddenly pursed her lips and nibbled once again. “Fuck, Ata!” I shouted out her name, my hips jerking upwards involuntarily as she brought me to release. Ata let me go after a moment and I found myself panting, though I had no need to breathe. My fangs were still elongated, making my need for her painfully obvious.
If she kept this up I was going to lose control, and Ata was yet to meet her own release. Lifting my love up from the floor, I placed her up onto my lap, her knees on the bed either side of my thighs. Crashing our lips together I could taste myself on her. I could scent her arousal in the air and it was utterly intoxicating. With a flick of my wrist her panties and bra were on the floor, but my love was oblivious to her ruined underwear. She was too busy rocking her hips against mine, causing my shaft to slide against her wet folds. Both of us groaned at the sensation and we pulled apart, our eyes locking. Without giving her a moment to think about it I stood up and flipped her over, bending her over the bed at a 90-degree angle, nudging her legs apart to give me the perfect view of her pert behind and to also give me easy access.
With a sharp thrust I buried myself to the hilt inside of her, causing her to cry out at the sensation. I set a fast pace, knowing we were on a tight timeline, one hand grasping Ata’s hips as I held her in place, the other knotting in her blonde hair to pull her up, causing her to arch her back and moan loudly. Looking down at her back, my markings covering her skin, her blonde curls bouncing with every thrust, it was almost my undoing. I would not have my pleasure until my beloved reached hers though.
Snaking my hand around her waist, I rubbed the nub at the apex of her legs furiously; her cries of pleasure and the feelings washing over me through our bond told me she was fast approaching her climax. Picking her up I vamped us to the sofas in our room, sitting down with Ata straddling my lap, our chests pressed together as I continued to thrust into her, her hips rocking against mine. Wrapping my arms around her, I held her body close to me, fusing our lips together in a passionate kiss. With a few better-angled thrusts my Ata toppled over the edge, screaming my name. The clenching of her internal muscles was my own undoing. “You. Are. MINE.” I yelled just as she bit down on my neck, breaking the skin and causing my blood to flow freely into her mouth. Her deep pulls reduced my recovery time to practically nothing and I found myself already ready for round two, but I knew there was no time.
“Take more my sweet.” I whispered soothingly, moving her hair from her face as she continued to pull on the wound she had created. Feeling her taking my blood from my neck was far more intimate than anything we had ever done together. It was erotic yet tender at the same time, sensual yet comforting. Ata took several more deep pulls before the wound healed over and my beloved slumped against my chest, panting and wheezing for breath.
“We need to do that more often.” She breathed, craning her head to look up at me. With a deep chuckle I dropped a kiss to her forehead, scooping her up in my arms before crossing to the bathroom. Placing her down on the sink counter, my little faery squealed as the cold marble came into contact with her warm skin.
“That we do my darling, that we do.” I agreed in a murmur, getting a damp cloth. Quickly I ran it over her whole body, careful to avoid her new markings however, in order to freshen her up a little.
“Do I get to see my dress now?” she asked me in an excited whisper as I set her back down on the floor. Smiling indulgently I took her hands, leading her out of the bathroom and through the bedroom to the wardrobe. Stopping before the doors I moved behind her, popping my hands over her eyes. I could feel her excitement and happiness through the bond. It was a beautiful and innocent thing and I found myself wanting to feel such emotions from her more. Perhaps I would buy her lots of other things, if only to feel her excitement more often. Leading her into the room I stopped a few feet from her new dress. Quickly I removed my hands, knowing I had no time to stall and drag out the moment. My internal body clock was telling me we had around 3 minutes before we were required back in the living room.
As my hands fell away from her face, Ata’s eyes opened and she took a sharp intake of breath, one of her little hands clamping over her mouth, which had formed an adorable little ‘O’ shape. Wide blue eyes swung to me, unshed tears shimmering in them. “Do you like it?” I asked quietly, suddenly very nervous of my choice as my beloved looked back at the midnight blue dress hanging up before her.
I could feel her pulling her emotions under control and she nodded furiously before suddenly leaping into my arms, smothering me in affectionate kisses. “It’s perfect! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” she exclaimed, turning back to her new dress. With a squeal that most girls only ever made in movies, she grabbed a pair of floral blue panties and the matching backless bra, pulling them on before she moved to the dress. With cautious hands she ran her fingers over the fabric, gasping as the silk slipped between them.
Crossing to her side at human pace I took the dress from the hanger, pulling down the zipper before I held it down for her to step into. Using my shoulders to support herself, she stepped into the dress and I pulled it up over her legs, her hips, her stomach and then her chest, until it sat perfectly upon her frame. Gently closing the zipper, I leant down for the shoes. Ata took a seat on a white chair in the wardrobe and I slid her shoes on, kissing her smooth and toned legs as I fastened them in place. “Isabel bought you the shoes, my sweet.” I informed her quietly, not wanting to take credit for the whole ensemble.
“They’re perfect.” She whispered in response as I finished fastening them. Using my vamp speed I pulled on a fresh pair of track pants before I offered Ata my hand, helping her up from the chair. Giving her hair a small fluff, I took a step back to admire my beautiful twice bonded. She looked incredible, and smelt of me completely. Every vampire at that party would be jealous of me this evening. I moved to her jewelry box next, taking out a white gold necklace. Although it wasn’t silver I hoped some of the younger vampires wouldn’t be so smart and would think that it was. Carefully moving her hair aside I clipped it on, moving her hair back to cover the clasp moments later. Walking her to the mirror I let her stand before it, taking in her appearance. “I feel beautiful.” She whispered as she caught sight of her reflection, twisting so that she could see her back, my marks standing out clearly through the cut out section.
“You are beautiful.” I reminded her firmly, standing behind her as she straightened herself out. Dropping a kiss to the top of her shoulder, I took a deep breath. “It’s missing one thing though.” I murmured, moving over to the pair of pants I had been wearing last night. I could feel Ata’s confusion through our bond and try as I might I was unable to hide my nervousness. Taking the black box that Isabel had brought with her from my safe back in Dallas, I returned to my loves side. Gently I took her hand, kissing the back of it before turning it over, placing the black box in her palm. Her eyes dropped to the box, her mouth open a little as a light frown crossed her features. Giving her a moment to inspect the box, I noted how wary she was of opening it. “Open it, please?” I asked quietly, anticipating her reaction.
Slowly she removed the lid, her jaw dropping as she caught sight of the item inside. Her eyes widened as she looked up to me and I could see nothing but pure adoration shining in them, I could feel her love for me pulsing through our bond as confirmation. Slowly I took the box from her, extracting the ring. “I had it made during our human years. I worked the fields in the day to save up the money for the white gold, not wanting my Master to know. Osaze, the metal worker, crafted it for me. Originally it was just a band of metal, I was saving it to give to you when the moment was right, but over the years I’ve had it melted down and added to. The diamonds are a new addition.” I laughed nervously, taking her left hand in my own.
My bonded said nothing, but the emotions coming from her and the expression on her features told me that she was somewhat shocked, but unbelievably happy. I’d learnt, when I’d been taken to Egypt, that the ring was linked with the supernatural and was a never-ending band linked with eternal love. Quite fitting now, I thought. I’d had more white gold added to it over the years, to increase the quality to 10-carats. Having been a slave boy I hadn’t been able to afford very much white gold and had been forced to pad the band out with other metals. As technology advanced I’d removed the cheaper metals, adding the white gold. I’d even hand picked the 11 brilliant round diamonds set along the twisted, linking bands. I’d chosen for the bands to be twisting and linking at the top to represent our lives, how entwined we had been with one another in our human years. Only now did I realize just how entwined we really were. It was not an engagement ring; the engagement ring my beloved would wear would be bigger, fancier. This was a promise, and I knew my beloved understood that.
Lifting my gaze, I captured her eyes with my own, pushing all my love for her through the bond. “I give you this ring as a promise to you, a promise that I’ll be here and I’ll always be true to you. I promise that I’ll hold you when your day isn’t going right and I will comfort you through the night. I promise that I’ll make you smile and that I’ll be here when you feel like crying. I promise that I will guide you when the future isn’t clear; I promise I will be there to wipe away your every tear. I promise that no matter what we will make it through, I give you this ring as a promise, it’s a promise that I will always love you.” My voice cracked a little as I held the band just in front of her wedding finger, having found out it was the usual finger that promise rings were placed on, seeking confirmation that this was what she wanted.
Never had I been so frightened in my life, even the battle of Salsu felt mediocre compared to this. Ata was holding my whole happiness in the palm of her hand, and after 2000 years of being emotionless, of only caring for myself and my Childe, it felt so strange to trust another being so completely with my life. My words snapped my beloved from her shocked daze and with a small nod she gave me the permission I had been asking for. Slipping the promise ring onto her finger, I kissed the band before kissing the back of her hand once again. I had no time to think before Ata’s lips were on my own, her small body pressed against mine firmly. Her kiss was tender and loving, and the bond was alive with her adoration towards me. Slipping my arms around her I held her close to me, returning her kiss, feeling relief that she had accepted my 2000-year-old gift.
“Whatever I have done to deserve you I do not know, but I am so happy I did whatever it was.” She whispered against my lips, pulling back to look into my eyes. Her cheeks were tear stained so I leant forward, licking away the moisture. Her tears were so sweet. Her eyes dropped to her left hand, which she held out to the side of us. Her head turned to her side, admiring how perfectly it sat around her finger. Turning my own head to look at it upon her finger, I found myself yearning to put an engagement ring there too, and a wedding band. Pressing a kiss to her temple, she nuzzled my nose. “I love you, thank you.” She whispered, pressing her lips to mine once again. The sound of knuckles rapping lightly on the door pulled us from our little moment.
“Ata, we need to sort out your make-up and wire you up for the evening.” Khai’s soft voice floated through the door. Removing ourselves from each other’s arms, I took Ata’s right hand in my left one, locking our fingers together as we moved through our bedroom and opened the door together. A shocked expression crossed Khai’s features as he took in my bonded’s attire, and he gave it a nod of approval. It was then his nostrils flared and he tried to suppress his smirk. “There’s no denying you’re claimed. You stink.” He teased, earning himself a swat to his chest. Of course the moment my beloved lifted her left hand to smack him, the diamonds on her promise ring shimmered in the artificial light. With super vampire reflexes Khai grabbed her hand, hauling it up to his face to peer at the band. His bright green eyes turned to me and I couldn’t help but pull Ata closer in to my side. “A promise.” I assured him with a smile, not wanting him to think I had proposed and not asked his permission first. I would have to ask the permission of all of her boys most likely, as they were the closest things she had to fatherly figures.
“What a way to piss off Felipe.” Khai commented as Ata and I stepped out of the bedroom and started down the hallway behind him.
“I didn’t give it to Ata in order to anger Felipe, though I will admit the timing works well. I gave it to her because I love her and I want her to know that all the time.” I responded, giving my beloveds side a gentle squeeze as we entered the living area.
“What did you give Ata?” Eric was quick to ask, quirking an eyebrow in my direction. I had no time to come up with a suitable answer before Ata had lifted her left hand showing everyone in the room, including Isabel, who had arrived during our romp, the diamond and white gold band I had placed around her finger moments ago.
“Oh my goodness!” Sookie shrieked happily, scrabbling off of Eric’s lap before she darted to Ata and I. All of Ata’s boys had gathered around us, taking turns to grab her hand and admire the band, Toni was stood with them and even Pam and Isabel had crowded together to see. “It’s so beautiful!” Sookie gushed, looking between us happily.
Both Eric and Ari were looking at me with quirked eyebrows, and I quickly realized they all thought I had just proposed. “It’s a promise ring, I’m not going anywhere without my Ata ever again.” I informed them all, pressing another kiss to Ata’s temple, her eyes turning to me to look at me with such love that if I had of been human, and in need of breath, I probably would have forgotten how to breathe for a moment. Sookie, Oscar and Toni cooed at my words, practically swooning on the spot. It seemed the young fae, the baby vamp and the gay hairdresser all had romantic souls. Isabel offered both Ata and I a sweet smile. My former nest mate was dressed in a floor length black skirt, a black and white corset accentuating her Hispanic curves and a flowing black shawl covered her shoulders and arms. Ata’s boys offered me a nod and I couldn’t help but feel accepted by them, like a part of the family. Of course I technically was family, a very small fraction of my human blood was in their systems, but it felt good to know they accepted me of their own accord, not just because of our blood ties.
Eric was looking at Sookie as she cooed over Ata’s new ring, a tinge of longing passing through our bond. Ah my Childe wanted to tie himself to his own fairy. Perhaps I would be able to go shopping with him one evening to help him pick out a ring for her. Usually Pam’s features were stoic, but my vampire GrandChilde actually looked pleased for both Ata and I, and she defiantly approved of the diamonds. Pam had always been a fan of anything expensive and sparkly.
“I really do hate to break up this moment but I need to do your make-up Atzi.” Toni addressed my love, gently taking her from me to sit her on a barstool.
“Thank you for my shoes, Isabel. They’re beautiful.” She thanked my former nest mate, complete sincerity in her voice.
Isabel gave my bonded a soft smile, crossing to stand before her as Toni rummaged in the make-up bag he had brought with him. “I’m just glad you’re here, and that you’ve given Godric a purpose again.” She shocked me, and everyone else in the room, when she pulled my little faery in for a hug. It was quick, but it was a hug nonetheless.
“I suppose it’s time for my gift for you.” Pam spoke up, crossing to the coffee table where she picked up a little Cartier bag. Everyone in the room frowned, even Ata as Pam handed her the little bag.
“You bought me something?” she murmured in disbelief. Pam nodded, a nonchalant expression on her features, but Eric had opened up my bond with him, enabling me to feel Pam’s nervousness.
All eyes were on my beloved as she opened the bag, removing a beautiful red box from instead. With curiosity burning in her eyes, she lifted the lid and gasped, removing a beautiful silver bangle from the box. The piece was old, that was for certain, and the Cartier logo had been incorporated into it, including several large and beautiful diamonds. “Oh Pam! It’s beautiful!” Ata gushed, lifting her gaze from the bracelet to my GrandChilde. Try as she might, Pam couldn’t stop herself from smiling at my bonded.
“I thought you might need something practical that will help you to defend yourself with at this party, a gun or something is highly impractical.” She stated in an offhand manner. I couldn’t help but think there was more to it than her need for Ata to have some form of protection. Hadn’t Pam bought Sookie something in order to patch up their friendship? Was that what she was trying to do here?
Placing the bangle down in the box on the counter, Ata surprised everyone in the room, eliciting a few quiet gasps from Eric, Isabel and even Sookie as she embraced Pam. We watched fascinated as Pam returned the affectionate gesture, albeit not as confidently, but I figured if I were human I would have passed out from shock by now. This was definitely an evening for surprises!
Letting go of Pam, Ata slipped the silver bangle on before she slid herself back onto the stool. Toni set to work right away, using a light powder to even out her already flawless skin tone before he applied a generous amount of mascara, accentuating my loves eyes; they had always been my favorite feature of hers. The beautiful blue colour had mesmerized me the moment we had met, and had continued to do so for over 2000 years. Plucking a red lipstick out of his make-up kit, Toni set to work applying it to my beloveds’ lips.
“The security guys are here, I’ll go and bring them up.” Riei broke through the silence, taking Oeri with him to go and meet the team that would be wiring Ata up for the night. Sookie had returned to her spot on Eric’s lap, Isabel sat on one side of him and Pam on the other. Agmund, Egor and Oscar had taken the other sofa while Khai and Ari perched themselves on the remaining barstools. I had no problem standing and therefore took my place beside Ata, watching with a critical eye as Toni worked on her make-up.
I wanted to know what he was doing and the order he did things in. I had never witnessed a woman applying make-up before, or having someone apply it for her. Isabel had been the only woman I had lived with for the past few centuries, and even then she only left her room once she had a full face of make-up on. Toni flipped a switch, turning on a short round metal pole that had a funny looking clip on one side. “Curling irons.” Toni explained for me with a small smile as he picked up Ata’s slightly ruined hair, fixing it in no time at all. I took note of his actions as he worked, storing the information away. Maybe Ata would let me curl her hair one day.
The sound of the elevator doors dinging alerted us all to the presence of the security guys, just as Toni finished on Ata’s hair. “Evening Miss Caesar.” The eldest of the two greeted my beloved like an old acquaintance. He was easily in his 50’s, rather short in stature and yet fit for a man of his age. His hair was gray in places and his almond coloured eyes were warm and welcoming. The other male by his side was a spitting image of him, yet younger by at least 30 years. He was clearly the elderly man’s son. I disliked the way the young man was so clearly eye fucking my beloved though and I made a show of wrapping an arm around her, holding her left hand to draw attention to the diamond band there. The young boy noticed the gesture, and the ring, and he seemed to scowl.
“You should let the boy have his dreams, honestly. It doesn’t bother me.” Ata’s tender voice flooded my mind. I had to suppress a growl at the thought of how many men had leered at my bonded over the years, had thought such filthy thoughts about her when they knew nothing of her.
“It bothers me, you’re mine.” I reminded her as I tried to convey a possessive growl via our mental link.
“Good evening James.” Ata greeted happily, slipping off the stool. Toni started to pack his things away, leaving behind a powder and a lipstick so Ata could touch up her make-up later. “I’ll wire you your money in the morning.” Ata and Toni exchanged French cheek kisses before the hairdresser and beautician waved to us all, disappearing off with Riei and Oeri to be escorted from the building.
“What goodies do you have for me this evening then boys?” Ata paused near a sofa. Agmund and Egor were up instantly, clearing a space for Ata and myself. The two Viking vampires took their usual positions on either side of the elevator doors. Ata sat neatly on the sofa, not wanting to crease her dress, and I took the other vacant seat, wrapping an arm around Ata’s waist in a protective manner, not daring to wrinkle her clothing. I swore my beloved mentally rolled her eyes at me.
“For you this evening we have,” the elderly man placed a metal trunk on the floor, flicking some catches to open up the content. Pulling out a silver brooch he handed it over to my love, a purple pearl sat in the middle of the floral shaped object. “A microphone is hidden within the brooch via the fake pearl, wirelessly connectable to any computer and completely silent, so no vampire will hear that it’s there. The material is one sided, like the glass in police line-ups, so no vampire will be able to see the microphone either.” He held up a memory stick, a smile on his lips. My love squealed, leaning over to take the memory stick from him.
“Ari, please plug this in!” Ata instructed with a grin, holding the memory stick out to her eldest Childe. Taking it, Ari vamped off only to return a few seconds later with a MacBook. Plugging the memory stick into the side, Ata pinned the brooch to her dress, picking an area that wasn’t made of silk so as not to tug and ruin the fabric. The purple and silver worked well with the dress and her other jewelry. No vampire would be able to touch her this evening due to the amount of silver on her. The moment the brooch was in place the sounds from the room came out through Ari’s laptop speakers.
“That is so cool.” Oscar breathed, moving to look over Ari’s shoulder at the screen. Oscar’s voice carried through Ata’s microphone and out of the laptop at the exact same moment as it was spoken, showing how quick the responsiveness of the microphone was.
“That’s fabulous! What else have you got for me?” my bonded asked straining up to try and see over the lid of the metal case.
Pulling out a small white capsule, the elderly man opened it to reveal a pair of contact lenses. “Pop these in and you’ll get a live video feed direct to the laptop with that memory stick plugged in.” He instructed.
Taking the capsule, Ata popped the lenses in like a pro, blinking several times to adjust them. A video feed started up automatically on the laptop screen and Agmund and Egor left their posts by the elevator to come and see.
“Look at me, my sweet.” I murmured, rubbing Ata’s knees. She turned to face me and I lent forward, looking into her eyes to see if I could spot the lenses.
“You won’t see them Sir, they were developed to be easily concealed.” The younger male finally piped up. While I was still disgusted with the way he had looked at my bonded, he had at least been professional enough to address me formally.
The sound of the elevator returning captured everyone’s attention and Riei and Oeri entered the penthouse. “Ata, the car is waiting for you downstairs.” Oeri informed my beloved, effectively ending the little tech session. Ata thanked the two men profusely, promising to send them their payment in the morning. Riei and Oeri escorted them out as Ari pulled on his suit jacket, buttoning it up.
Moving to the bookcase, Ata removed a small wooden box and approached Ari. Handing it to him he took it from her. Ata opened the lid and from inside she produced a dark blue handkerchief. Slowly she tucked it into the front pocket of Ari’s jacket, arranging it so it sat perfectly flat against his chest. I couldn’t help but feel jealous of their current situation. Ata was about to walk into Felipe’s home and I wasn’t there to protect her, instead she was relying on her Childe. It angered me that my lack of political power was stopping me from aiding her, from being beside her all night, when my physical age far surpassed almost every other vampire in the New World. Ata and Ari were so familiar with one another, so in tune with each other, that I couldn’t help but feel jealous of the bond they shared. “Wait here one moment.” Ari instructed his Maker with a grin, disappearing off for a moment.
Having sensed my jealous spike, my beloved crossed the room to me, pulling my arms around her for a hug. Her lipstick meant I couldn’t kiss her, but holding her was the next best thing. Gently I tucked her into me, resting my chin on top of her head. “Be careful this evening my sweet, if at any time you feel worried please find Isabel. I have another friend who’s going to be in attendance looking out for you, she may introduce herself or she may not, I do not know.” I told her, rubbing her shoulders in what I hoped was a reassuring gesture.
The mention of Nora caused Ata’s jealousy to spike, and I couldn’t help but feel a little smug knowing I wasn’t the only jealous one in our relationship. “Edgar will be on the lookout for you too.” Khai stated, still curiously watching the laptop screen. Thankfully Ata’s eyes were closed or else he would have been treated to an up close and personal look at my exposed chest.
Letting go of me, Ata moved to her cousin, gently taking her face in her hands. “I’m going to remove the walls I’ve helped you build around your mind. I know you don’t know how to control vampire thoughts yet but I need to be able to communicate telepathically with you. I can converse with my boys and both Godric and Eric, but I need you to keep a link open so you can relay what I’m saying to Pam and Oscar and keep them informed too, okay?” My beloved asked Sookie, who gave a small timid nod as Eric gave her side a reassuring squeeze. “Okay, this might hurt. I’m sorry.” She whispered as her eyes closed, Sookie’s following afterwards.
The young faery started to whimper and Eric watched on with concern, yet there was nothing we could do as neither of us were true telepaths. It was unfair that Sookie would have to suffer with her shields until Ata could help her build them up to be strong enough, but now she would be able to hear vampires we would have even more of an advantage over the enemy. I found it rather fascinating in all honesty, how such creatures could have the upper hand over vampires and yet still appear completely innocent. They were the ultimate predators – able to roam the earth during the night and the day, ensnare others with their charm and looks, destroy everything and everyone in seconds with their light and live for millennia. Sookie had captivated Eric without even trying, and my Ata had captivated me in exactly the same manner. Not to mention the fae seemed to be wild cards once the bedroom door was shut.
“GODRIC!” Sookie squealed, her features turning pink with her blush as her eyes snapped open. Obviously she had heard me. Giving an innocent smile, I offered a shrug of my shoulders.
“I thought you would have been used to males thinking such thoughts around you.” Ata teased her cousin as Sookie groaned at the onslaught of thoughts. Ata pulled back, watching her cousin for a moment. “Sort through the thoughts Sookie. File them away in appropriate places, pick out only the current thoughts that are on top, discard other thoughts.” Ata talked Sookie through it and soon the young fae was breathing steady, appearing a lot calmer than she had before.
Ari returned to the room, carrying with him a wooden box similar to the one Ata had taken his handkerchief from, however he was wearing leather gloves. I noticed Isabel, Pam, Sookie and Eric were sharing my frown of curiosity. Placing it down on the kitchen counter, Ari opened the lid and removed a silver tiara. Even though I wasn’t right up close to the item I could tell it was worth a bit, the diamonds alone would be mighty expensive these days. It was a simple band, two large ornate flowers in the middle with swirled leaves and branches along the rest of the band. Diamonds were scattered across it, glittering in the artificial lighting of the living area. Ata dipped her head a little and slowly Ari placed the tiara into its rightful place, adjusting a few of her curls so it sat correctly. Rising back to her full height, she received a nod of approval from her eldest Childe.
Turning to face us, I was captivated with my loves appearance. She was beautiful without her tiara but now, seeing it on her head, I felt a pang of sorrow that she had given all of it up because she believed me dead, that she had handed over her crown. A crown needed to be on her head, she suited a crown and crowns suited her. I had taken that from her, my own stupid worry that she wouldn’t want me anymore caused her to give up what was so rightfully hers. “Don’t you dare.” She breathed, crossing the space between us to pull me into her arms, pressing a light kiss to my lips, not caring that it could smudge her lipstick. Ari had scooped up her cosmetics, popping them inside the inner pocket of his jacket.
“I love you, I’ll see you later.” She whispered in my ear, dropping a kiss to the soft spot below my ear lobe.
“Be careful Ata.” Sookie rose from Eric’s lap, embracing her cousin. Ata returned her hug and Eric rose to his feet too, pulling Ata in for a cuddle, careful to avoid all the silver she was wearing.
“Come back in one piece.” Pam demanded, her eyes drifting between Ata and Ari. I was unsure as to whom she was speaking to, but the thought that she wanted Ari to return in one piece to made me smile. It would seem our cold-hearted Pam, who swore blind she preferred women over men, was starting to develop a soft spot for the Ancient Egyptian male.
Restraining myself, I watched as Ata left the penthouse with Ari and Isabel, the elevator doors sliding shut to hide her from me. I didn’t like this, not one bit. Ata was out of my sight. I would be unable to go to her if she were in trouble. I didn’t like this, not at all.
As if sensing my turmoil over Ata’s departure, Sookie piped up. “Ata filmed our day today, by the way.” She pointed over towards a camera positioned on a counter. Turning my head I caught sight of the small grey electronic device, wondering why on earth I had missed it earlier. I could feel Eric’s curiosity spike through our bond and even Pam quirked an eyebrow. The three of us sat down on one of the sofas and Eric pulled Sookie back onto his lap. Khai placed the laptop down on the coffee table, the screen facing me so I could keep an eye on Ata.
“Are you able to hook it up to the television, please?” I asked Riei, watching as the fashion savvy vampire took the grey camera and hooked it up to the flat screen. Almost instantly the screen lit up with images of earlier on in the day. The sunlight was streaming in through the window, bathing both Ata and Sookie in its golden light. Neither Eric nor I could stifle our gasps at finally getting to see our mates in the sunshine. It had been over 2000 years since I had watched Ata in the sunshine; so seeing her now was like a blessing. The sunlight lit up her blonde locks and shone in her blue eyes. Sookie too looked very beautiful in the sunlight and I could feel Eric’s yearning and lust through his bond with her. The young telepath cringed, nuzzling her face into Eric’s neck in an attempt to hide.
We watched as Ata stretched her legs out in front of her upon sitting on the sofa, Sookie at her side. “Primp us then, my dear!” she grinned, settling down.
“Ata, I’m not going to the party.” Sookie murmured to Ata as Toni moved his trunks over to them, opening one. Although Sookie had spoken quietly and the video hadn’t picked up the sound all too well, vampire hearing enabled us to hear everything the video could offer.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all of this with me, Sookie.” Ata informed her happily. 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 Sookie as Toni returned, a grin on his features as he filled up Sookie’s footbath; he disappeared off again to get more water for Ata’s tub.
Shaking her head, Sookie dropped her 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.” She stated with a shrug of her shoulders. I couldn’t help but feel proud of my Childe for picking a mate who could take care of herself, who wouldn’t live on his money and had responsibilities of her own. Over the years he had shared a bed with numerous princesses and supermodels, but they had all wanted him for the money he flaunted. It was refreshing to find women these days that were driven to work for their own cash and not simply take from their other halves.
“Now ladies, lavender or rose?” Toni broke through their conversation, holding up two bottles of bath bubbles now that he had filled up Ata’s footbath.
“Lavender, please.” Sookie asked gently, watching as Toni poured in a considerable amount of liquid. Swishing his hand in the water, the bubbles appeared and he took Sookie’s feet, rolling up her pants to make sure they wouldn’t get wet before sliding her feet into the water. Ata was watching on with an indulgent smile. “I could do with one of these after a shift at Merlotte’s.” Sookie muttered as Ata selected the rose bubbles, slipping her feet into the water a moment later when the bubbles had appeared. I could feel Eric’s slight hint of annoyance at the mention of Merlotte’s. Was that some sort of club or something Sookie worked in? If her feet were sore then it definitely wasn’t a desk job. While it was good that she was earning her own money she shouldn’t be spending hours on her feet serving rednecks. If there was one thing I had learnt from the few times I had spent with Eric in Shreveport, they were somewhat rude at times.
“I think I might go and change into my PJ’s, just in case I nod off.” Sookie suddenly declared, dashing from Eric’s lap and out of the room. Something told me she wasn’t interested in changing, more like she was embarrassed about the up and coming conversations the video had recorded.
“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. “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!” She suggested. I could instantly feel Eric working away on a mental plan of some kind and had a funny feeling Sookie would be changing jobs sooner rather than later. I was well aware of my Childe’s vast expanse of businesses, after all, someone had to keep Pam in Manolo’s.
Sighing quietly, Sookie shook her 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.” She explained, swishing her feet in the tub a little. Toni chuckled at her childish swishing, taking one of her 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, plus I wouldn’t want people to think I got the job because I’m sleeping with the boss.” She visibly cringed and I felt there was more to the story than she was letting on. It seemed Eric and Pam had the same idea as my Viking Childe bristled at the comment, his eyes narrowing as he observed the scene on the screen.
“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 suggested as Toni swapped over, tending to Sookie’s 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.” She pointed out. Every vampire in the room could tell her argument was weak, and it seemed even Ata had picked up on that.
“Can we see if we can find an opening for her somewhere, Pam.” Eric didn’t even turn his head to his progeny and yet he caught her nod as she pulled her phone from her pocket, texting furiously at vampire speed. Apparently Pam was developing a soft spot for Sookie. She seemed to want to keep her safe and around Eric at all times. Then again, they were twice bonded and planning on bonding thrice, so should she die then Eric would too. The thought left a bitter taste in my mouth given Sookie’s track record as a trouble magnet, but hopefully with Ata by her side she could get her powers under control and stay out of harms way a little more.
“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 Sookie’s direction as Toni moved on to her feet, scrubbing them free of any 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.” Sookie pointed out, nibbling on her lower lip.
“I have businesses and Eric has businesses, we’d help you.” Ata informed her as Toni took their feet out of the footbaths, draining the water out of them before towel drying them down. While it was rather high-handed of Ata to mention Eric’s businesses I could see why she had used them. She was playing on Sookie’s emotions, just like the young fae had played on mine up on the roof in Dallas. Oh I’d been well aware of her little tricks, the fae were known to be devious creatures after all, but I had decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and carry on living. I’d been a stranger to her after all and yet she had come to be with me in my time of need, to stay with me so I would not have to leave the world alone. Very few humans, or faeries, would have done such a thing.
“You might find, should you provide an excellent service, 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 who 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. Ah that was where the King of California fitted into everything! Obviously he was seriously indebted to Ata if she saved his life. I felt a little relieved that he would be keeping an eye on her.
Flicking my gaze to the laptop screen on the coffee table, I watched in silence as Ata clambered into the limo with Ari and Isabel close behind her. I missed Sookie choosing her colour of nail polish but the lustful feelings from my Childe were enough to tell me he approved of her choice, and the roll of Pam’s eyes informed me that she found it so pathetic for him to get so worked up over a nail polish colour. I had to bite back a laugh.
“Have you seen the dress Godric get you yesterday?” Sookie asked her cousin, watching as she picked up the cookie plate, offering her one. Taking one, Sookie 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 and Sookie giggled. ARGH, she’d been in my head! I scowled at the thought, trying to think of a way I could keep her out. Ata had mentioned mental shields, perhaps I could think up some of my own?
“Seems you were out smarted.” Pam teased me. I was tempted to take the bait and start a sass match with her, but Pam would have won hands down, and I was in no mood to play. I was worried about my Ata being in the same building as Felipe de Castro.
My eyes drifted back to the laptop screen, watching as Ata gazed out of the window, the bright lights of Vegas whizzing past her. I could see her reflection in the window and sent a tidal wave of love through our bond. I watched as she gasped, her eyes fluttering shut as she received the emotion. Seconds later I received the love in return, smiling to myself as Ata smiled at her reflection in the limo window. “I love you.” She mouthed and I couldn’t help but send her another wave of love, acknowledging that I had witnessed her declaration.
“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.” Toni 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.” Ata gave a small laugh, shrugging her shoulders. Hearing her claim me in front of others made me wish more than ever that my dead heart would beat just once. I’d claimed her in front of others so many times already, and the marks on her body would be another form of claiming later on this evening, so to have the tables turned was a strange sensation. Deep down though I knew I liked it, I liked being owned. In the past I hated it, my ownership had been abusive and had caused my turning, but Ata’s ownership of me was different, she owned me out of love and affection, care and concern. My Maker had only ever owned me out of greed and selfishness, his own sadistic wishes.
Toni stopped working, having finished one of Sookie’s 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.
Moving on to Ata, Toni took one of her hands, starting to paint it the same shade as her toes. “What was it like?” Sookie asked and her words carried the weight of her curiosity.
“What was what like?” Ata asked gently as Toni finished one hand, moving on to the other. I could feel Eric’s curiosity in the bond and the other vampires sat watching us had all lent forward in curiosity also.
“Life, during Egyptian times, and after.” Sookie answered. As I had lived during that time I wasn’t overly curious myself, however I could feel that my Childe was, as was Pam. Even Oscar appeared to be curious about my loves response.
Ata fell silent for a moment, and her eyes took on a distant look, the same that entered the eyes of vampires as they recalled the past. “It was so different to today, our life revolved around survival and family, around food and water. We couldn’t pop out to the store 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 I couldn’t help but feel my heart swell.
Some of the other slaves had told me on occasion that someone was watching me, but I refused to believe them, knowing my Master never showed himself in the day. To know Ata had observed me both warmed me and caused me pain. She shouldn’t have been watching me; she should have been prancing around the palace with noblemen, or ordering people around. Of course I had always been jealous of the men who had everything, who wanted Ata as their bride, but I’d had so little in the way of self-worth after my Master had beaten me into submission that the thought of Ata ever having anything more than platonic affection for me had seemed ridiculous, so the concept of her being with someone else had irked me but I had grown to accept it. I’d had the promise band made as a way of showing my growing romantic feelings for the young princess without having to outright say it, without having to embarrass her. Of course it was silly of me to have thought she didn’t return my feelings, why else would she sneak out of the palace to visit me, why else would she allow me to sleep beside her at night?
“You can show me.” Sookie offered, holding her hand out in Ata’s direction. She placed it upon Ata’s exposed arm. “I want to see everything, all the time you spent with him from your first meeting to the last time you saw him.” She stated firmly. A part of me was unsure about how wise it was for Ata to share our past with Sookie, some parts were far from kind and vampires were naturally secretive creatures. Ata had been privy to Eric’s human years though and although he had been angered at first he had accepted it for what it was, knowing Ata could have just rummaged through his mind for it anyway. Sensing my inner conflict over the matter, my Childe sent me a huge wash of calm and love. My shoulders slumped as I relaxed and I returned the emotions with pride, causing my Childe to make that low purring sound he had the other night. Of course Pam heard the noise and quirked an eyebrow, but with a shake of my head she dismissed it.
Toni rose to his feet from his position kneeling before them. He’d finished polishing their nails by now. Extracting a hair tie and two headbands from his kit bag, he tied up Sookie’s hair before he used the hair band to push her 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 the look on Sookie’s face was priceless. My Childe laughed loudly at the horror and disgust on her features and Pam even sniggered behind one of her perfectly manicured hands.
“It’s a face mask, don’t worry. It’ll make your skin look and smell incredible, keep it smooth like a babies bottom!” Toni explained to her with a grin, removing the lid of the container. It was obvious by her wavering that Sookie had not be sold on the idea, but had accepted it as Ata seemed completely at ease. She suddenly burst into a fit of laughter and my little family and I could only watch on in confusion at the scene.
“I was remembering the saying my Gran used to use – when in Rome do as the Roman’s do. Then I remembered that Ata actually is half Roman.” The sound of Sookie’s voice floated through the air as she returned in a set of giraffe print PJ’s. The shorts and tank top matched well and had a cute little bow on them; it was definitely a step up from some of the other nightwear Eric had informed me she wore.
Her explanation caused us all to laugh and Eric pulled her onto his lap as she wandered past him, not letting her out of his vice like grip. He dropped lots of kisses to her exposed neck and shoulder blades, licking the patch of skin after he had kissed it.
As Toni started to apply the cool gel to her face, Sookie closed her eyes. Ata followed by shutting her own eyes and we were treated to silence. “You can fast forward it for about 20 minutes.” Sookie informed Riei and the vampire was quick to fast forward the tape, knowing we had limited time until Ata would arrive at Felipe’s compound. Dropping my gaze to the laptop I watched as she conversed with Ari and Isabel, both vampires laughing over something Ata had said. The sound had been muted for the time being so we could all watch the days record.
Toni was removing the hardened green gunk from Sookie’s face. “You were childhood sweethearts.” Sookie cooed to my love as Toni removed Ata’s mask. A smile crossed over her lips and she nodded. I too was smiling at the description of Ata and I; it was completely correct. I’d heard the saying before on some TV show Isabel had once made me watch, so I was well aware of the definition of the description.
“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.” Ata pulled a face, wrinkling her nose. Sookie laughed at Ata’s expression and yet I couldn’t stop the anger flooding through me at the thought of Ata being Felipe’s. An involuntary growl slipped from between my lips. Ata was mine! From the corner of my eye I caught the laptop screen; Ata had turned to look out of the window again and had bristled, a look of concern on her features. I felt her pushing calm and curiosity through the bond. Eric and Pam were doing the same, and Sookie was looking at me with worry. Although it wasn’t necessary I breathed in and out to calm myself, and soon pulled my emotions under control.
I was snapped out of my breathing routine as Sookie’s voice came from the TV screen. “Ata, if the VRA passes, what will you do?” She asked.
My Ata fell into silence for a moment, and I found myself leaning forward in my seat, not daring to remove my eyes from the screen. I wanted the VRA to pass so badly, I wanted to have the same rights as humans, to be treated as an equal. It was the first serious step towards co-existence. “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 name so they would have some security and I’d give the role of Sherriff to Ari. I’d probably buy a home, a proper one, 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 might even look into adoption; I’d like that, to have a child running about the house. Of course I would ask Godric his thoughts 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.” The thought of my beloved missing out on the sunshine and needing to go to Faery to heal worried me, but it answered the question as to why she had spent time in Faery and why Niall had missed her. I had no idea how long she had been there for but the thought that she’d been so ill, so worn down, stirred something primal in me – a need to protect my bonded and to provide for her. If she left Caesar’s Palace with me I would buy us a beautiful home with a garden as large as she wanted, with her own vegetable patch. I’d hire a cook to make sure she stayed healthy, and a maid so she wouldn’t have to worry about housework.
The thought of us adopting a baby together made me burst with love, although the child wouldn’t biologically be mine and Ata’s we would still take care of him or her together, they would call us momma and daddy, carry our surnames. Shutting my eyes I could picture it now, a small blonde child running around the garden of a country home, bright blue eyes twinkling in the moonlight, a smile on her rosy lips and laughter tumbling from them. I could picture Ata packing her lunch for her and walking her to school, picking her up hours later and hearing all about her day. Then, at nightfall, I’d rise for the evening and she’d run to me, throw her little arms around me and give me a cuddle, she’d call out ‘Daddy!’ and grin happily before showing me the drawings she did at school, stick men of the three of us stood together in the sunshine. I wouldn’t be burning though; I’d be smiling and content in the sunlight. I’d watch as my bonded and daughter would eat dinner together and then I’d take my little girl upstairs, tuck her into bed and read her a story. I’d stay with her until she fell asleep and then return to my beloved downstairs, spend all night with her, talking and making love, going over our businesses and watching movies. We’d have the perfect life, in a perfect home. A sense of hope washed over me at the prospect of the life we could have together once the VRA was passed. Ata wasn’t in my mind at the moment, her shields were up, therefore I didn’t have to worry about her witnessing my little fantasy, but looking to the laptop screen I could see her looking to her reflection, a light frown on her features.
“What’s up?” she mouthed and, knowing that because her mental shields were up she wouldn’t be able to hear me, I sent her a wave of love and adoration, of hope and contentment. The emotions seemed to soothe Ata for the time being and she offered me a smile through the car window, returning all of my emotions by the bucket load.
“What would you do?” The sound of Ata’s voice on the recording snapped me out of my night dream and my exchange of emotions with my beloved. Looking to Sookie as she sat upon Eric’s lap I noticed she was anything but relaxed, and yet the hold Eric had on her had relaxed a little, allowing her freedom of movement.
“I need the bathroom.” She declared, scrabbling out of Eric’s grasp before he could get to her. Something told me she didn’t wish to be in the room when she answered Ata’s question.
“I always used 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.” Sookie confessed with a sigh, running a hand through her hair. Now I could understand why she hadn’t wanted to be in the room. She was worried about Eric’s reaction to her confession; scared he wouldn’t want what she wanted. It was hard not to miss Eric’s sadness in the bond at the thought of his mate not wanting to marry, but Eric’s poker face remained in place.
“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.” Ata pointed out.
Sookie squirmed in her seat and shrugged her 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.” She confessed on the tape and I felt the pain rip through my Childe at Sookie’s evaluation of his personality. None of us missed the whimper from Sookie, our advanced hearing enabling us to hear her on the other side of the apartment. Within the blink of an eye Eric had left his seat, dashing to his bonded’s side. My Childe had always been sexual insatiable so I could understand Sookie’s concerns, however I could scent that he had not been with any other in quite some time, and that he had not taken the blood of another in a long time either.
“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 Sookie in a serious tone as Toni took the last few strands of her hair, curling them around the hot irons.
Pam and I watched as Sookie took a moment to think about it. “No he hasn’t,” She 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.” Ata 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. He’d done such a perfect job of her hair that the fact I had ruffled it considerably during sex made me feel a little guilty. Toni had fixed it up though thankfully.
“If you marry this Eric the two of you were speaking of, I am so doing your hair on your wedding day my dear. I already have so many wonderful ideas for it!” Toni exclaimed, turning to look at Sookie with a Cheshire cat grin. We watched as Sookie offered a shy smile in response, her cheeks lighting up with a blush.
Eric retuned to the room then, carrying his bonded in his arms, her legs wrapped around his middle and her arms locked around his neck. Sitting down, he bought her down with him, her face still buried in his neck.
“There will only ever be you, my Sookie.” I heard him whisper reassuringly in her ear, holding her closer to him as he scattered kisses all over her exposed skin. Slowly she unfurled from around him, looking up with wide eyes.
“I will not take blood or carnal pleasures from any other, only you.” He whispered to her once again, brushing her hair out of her face so he could look into her eyes. I couldn’t help but be proud of my Childe; he had grown into such a wonderful vampire now that he had the love of a good woman. I had always been proud of my Childe, he was my greatest creation after all, but I had never let him feel it and I had never told him. Now I allowed the feeling to cross our bond, noting the way the corner of his lips quirked upwards slightly.
Turning back to the TV screen I watched as Toni helped Ata down from the stool. “Now my darling, strip for me!” he ordered, moving to the trunk. 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 thought my 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 halter neck style straps. I couldn’t help but be instantly turned on by her scantily clad form and I didn’t even register the fact my fangs had snapped down into place as my eyes raked over the image of my beloved. She was beautiful on screen, but even more so in the flesh.
“There’s another reason I’m not attracted to men. They’re perpetually horny.” I heard Pam mutter under her breath, rolling her eyes. The bond I shared with Ata was suddenly overrun with lust and I realized then, as I looked to Ata’s reflection in the car window on the laptop screen, that I had been sending her my emotions and they were only fueling her own. Realizing that any trace of her arousal was a bad idea if she were to be in the presence of Felipe, for he could mistake it as her response to seeing him, I reined in my emotions, sending her embarrassment through our bond at my sudden emotional onslaught. I caught her rolling her eyes at me through the car window.
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?” Sookie 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. I was suddenly incredibly interested in the conversation on the video and found myself moving even closer to the screen. I could see Pam smirking beside me but ignored it, and Sookie’s soft smile on the other side of me only confirmed that my beloved would give me an answer I would like.
“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.” Ata responded honestly as she took another bite of her cookie. The amount of love I suddenly felt for my bonded overpowered me, and the hope for our future returned to the forefront of my mind. I was already planning on where to buy a ring, how to get it onto her finger, booking a hotel in Vermont should the VRA not pass, and booking a church too. I wanted to marry my beloved so much, make her mine and have her carry my surname. She’d carry my surname! I grinned like a fool at the thought and heard the vampires in the room chuckle, Sookie joined in seconds later when she caught sight of my smile.
I missed part of the video as I lost myself in my dream, but was called back to the real world at the mention of a ring. “I bet he’d buy you a huge diamond.” Sookie teased my beloved as Toni picked up her arm, cleaning it before applying the replica of my zigzag tattoo.
“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 would be enough for me. I know it’s supposed to be the mans choice, but I’d love it to be a Harry Winston. I’ve wanted one ever since he started up his business in 1932.” My beloved was pretty much swaying on the spot as she spoke of the ring she wanted. Oh she would have a huge diamond all right, and I would design it for her.
“Does Harry Winston make custom rings?” I directed my question to Khai, who had been working away on paperwork while the video had been playing. Looking up, he captured my eyes and regarded me for a moment, obviously having an internal debate over my worthiness and whether to answer or not.
Coming to a conclusion, the dark haired Egyptian vampire nodded. “Yes they do.” He confirmed, a knowing smile crossing his lips as he dropped his eyes back to his paperwork. I would have to start drawing up ideas ready for the passing of the VRA. The vote was going to be happening soon.
“What would your ring look like?” Ata questioned Sookie. I could see Sookie stiffen in Eric’s arms, hiding her face in the crook of his neck again, groaning in embarrassment. My Childe soothingly rubbed her back, laughing lightly at her sweet human morals. Vampires as old as Eric and I had little to be embarrassed and ashamed of, we had long ago lost our sense of moral right and wrong, as Eric had so aptly pointed out on the rooftop in Dallas.
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 with a diffuser for a few minutes to help it absorb into her skin and set. Picking up the smaller piece of paper and plastic, he moved to Ata’s back, positioning it on the back of her shoulder. I could tell from the size and location that this was the replica of my brand. Watching as he peeled the plastic off he cleaned her skin before he stuck it to her, using the liquid in the spray bottle to help it transfer. Watching as my beloved was marked up did funny things to my insides, making me feel things I hadn’t felt in over 2000 years.
I could feel Eric’s anticipation and nervousness as he waited for Sookie to respond on the tape. Both Pam and I knew he would buy her whatever she wanted regardless of the cost. Sookie would get her dream ring if Eric had anything to do with it, that I was certain of. “I don’t know, I think I’d like something old and traditional though.” She mused, pursing her lips together. I could see Sookie burying herself further against Eric, as if she could hide inside of him until the video ended. “It doesn’t even need to have a diamond in all honesty, or any rock at all.” She stated. I could feel Eric almost frown through the bond, why on earth wouldn’t Sookie want a diamond? Diamonds were women’s best friends.
Watching as Toni started to peel the paper from Ata’s back I could see her anticipation. “How does it look?” Ata begged, twisting and turning in an attempt to view it. Sookie laughed at her antics and I found myself restraining my own laughter at how adorable my Ata looked trying to see her back. Sookie got up from the sofa and grabbed the handheld mirror, holding it up behind Ata as Toni held up another mirror before her. Ata’s squeal of delight sounded out from the television and her face lit up like a Christmas tree. “It looks so real!” she gushed as Toni and Sookie popped down their hand held mirrors.
“Well dur, I made it!” Toni rolled his eyes, a smile on his lips.
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. I was in awe of the process, and how realistic they all looked. To someone who wasn’t privy to the secret, they would look real.
It was then the version of Sookie on the TV started to groan, just as the time display on the video playback showed sunset. Ata was at her side instantly, sitting her back up. I could feel Eric’s concern through the bond as he watched his bonded in pain. “Breathe through it Sook, breathe.” Ata instructed in a calm yet firm tone. She grabbed hold of Sookie’s wrist and there was a moment of silence as Ata helped Sookie sort through her thoughts and build up shields. A whoosh could be heard as my Childe entered the scene and then Riei stopped the tape given that all of us could remember everything that had happened from that point on.
We all sat in silence for a moment, sorting through our thoughts and emotions over everything we had witnessed and heard from the tape. Eric broke the silence first however, addressing Sookie who was still curled up against him. “You would marry me, by your customs, if the VRA passed?” He breathed, as if in awe of the situation.
Sookie uncurled herself, grimacing at his words. Slowly she placed a palm to his cheek and he lent in to her, his eyelids fluttering shut at the contact. “Maybe. I don’t know.” She responded weakly, obviously very conflicted over the situation. I couldn’t say I could blame her. My Childe was a very complex creature, and an eternity by his side, bound to him in every possible way, feeling all of his emotions, would be a huge deal for someone who was mostly human.
“But you’d think about it?” Eric murmured, his eyelids fluttering back to observe his bonded. Although it was a conversation no one else should have probably overheard, Eric was making no move to shift it to a more private location. Obviously the conversations we had overheard on the tape had caused my Childe to do some serious thinking.
Sookie sighed, her hand falling from Eric’s cheek to his shoulder, which she stroked lovingly. “I would, yeah. We have more serious issues to deal with now though, Eric.” Sookie pointed out, taking on a far more practical approach to our current situation. At least she would reign in my Childe a little, stop him from losing focus of the end goal – the demise of Russell Edgington.
“Like the fact we’ve arrived.” Ata’s voice broke through the room and everyone turned to look at the laptop screen, where the sight of a huge mansion covered in thousands of decorative lights came into view. The building was white with dark a blue slate sloping roof. Of course Felipe would have a home far too large for him to possibly fill. Most monarchs had huge homes to make themselves appear far superior to everyone else, as a way to flaunt their money. What was amusing though was that most of the time the money used on their homes wasn’t their own from their own businesses and investments. The vampires in their Kingdoms, or Queendoms, usually funded them. Riei quickly hooked up a few cables and the laptop screen moved to the TV screen, giving us a larger and clearer picture of what was going on with Ata. Khai had placed down his paperwork for a moment to observe everything Ata was seeing.
“As everyone apart from Pam and Oscar can hear me, we’ll probably communicate this way for the majority of the night.” Ata’s mental voice flooded my mind, and I realized then she was transmitting to all of her boys and to Eric, Sookie and I. Sookie relayed the message to Pam and Oscar, who both agreed that would be the best way to communicate. It was discrete after all.
All of us sat watching through Ata’s camera contact lenses as Ari took one of her arms in the crook of his elbow, and Isabel took the other. Together the three of them braced for the upcoming evening. “Into the lions den we go.” We all heard Ata mutter as the three of them started to climb the steps up into Felipe’s mansion.