Now for Felipe’s party! Enjoy my pretties 😉
We can go so far if she let go and I ain’t gonna leave without her
This is for the girl that can get down low
The whole club wanna see you go
Ey, shake, shake like you’re famous, girl, head back, lay it down like a Vegas girl
Bass coming down so hard, that little dress breaking every heart
Ey, shake, shake like you’re famous, girl, head back, lay it down like a Vegas girl
Like a Vegas girl
~ Vegas Girl, Conor Maynard
I’d been into Felipe’s mansion numerous times before. He was known for the parties he so frequently threw and unfortunately, as I was the Sheriff of Vegas, I was expected to make an appearance every time. Of course usually the parties were for vampires and their companions, not just for those of political power, so I was able to take all of my boys with me to help keep me away from Felipe. This evening I only had Isabel and Ari to keep me sane, and whoever it was Godric had asked to take care of me from The Authority.
Although Isabel and I hadn’t spoken to one another too much, I was able to pick up on her thoughts easily, especially when we’d linked arms. I was pleasantly surprised to find her head full of positive thoughts.
The ride to Felipe’s mansion had been a quiet one, the three of us lost in our own thoughts. I had been monitoring my bond with Godric meticulously, wanting to be as close to him as possible. The mansion came into sight in all of its white stone glory. Two large pillars symbolized the entrance to the courtyard, both topped with hand carved busts of Felipe. In my opinion it was a little tacky to have carvings of himself in his home. I had none of myself at home, just ones of my parents. The limo swung into the courtyard, pulling to a stop slowly outside of the main entrance. A white stone canopy covered the entrance, held up by white stone columns. Personally I believed Felipe’s home, which had been constructed after Caesar’s Palace had been built, looked very similar to mine. A red carpet had been placed down for guests, offering them a walkway.
Stepping out of the limo, the stone canopy sheltered us from the night sky, but sadly blocked the view of the beautiful stars. “I guess I would, yeah. We have more serious issues to deal with now though Eric.” I could hear Sookie speaking in my mind, as she left her shields down so I could communicate openly with her.
“Like the fact we’ve arrived.” I murmured in response, knowing the microphone in my brooch would pick up on it.
“As everyone apart from Pam and Oscar can hear me, we’ll probably communicate this way for the majority of the night.” I mentally informed my cousin, not wanting to talk aloud about the fact my little nest were watching and listening.
Ari took one of my arms in the crook of his elbow and Isabel did the same, effectively creating an Ata sandwich. “Into the lions den we go.” I muttered under my breath as we took the few steps up to the heavy wooden doors. They were propped open for the evening, scores of hulking Were’s were stationed there, sniffing each guest as they arrived in order to make sure they were carrying no silver or explosives. I couldn’t help but find it ironic that they were searching for explosives. Was someone planning on blowing this place up like they had my business?
“Names?” One Were gruffly asked me as I entered, his eyes downcast as he glanced at the checklist of names. It was then he inhaled, his nostrils flaring as he took in my scent, mixed with that of Godric’s. Looking up, he spent a moment appraising me, a leer painted onto his lips. I could hear Godric’s mental growl so I pushed a boatload of love towards him.
“Ata Caesar, Ari Seti-Nekht and Isabel Beaumont.” Ari responded for us all, tightening his hold on me a little as the Were continued to look at me like I was dinner.
“Miss Beaumont and Mr. Seti-Nekht are my +2 for the evening.” I informed the Were, batting my eyelashes. I hadn’t been told I would be allowed a +1, let alone a +2, but I pushed my luck.
Slowly the Were ticked my name off the list, gesturing for us to carry on into the building. Although I had been to Felipe’s numerous times, I was always in awe of the entrance hall. The marble floors had been polished to perfection, two beautiful wrought iron sweeping staircases led the way up to the first floor, a central platform stood where the two staircases met, allowing Felipe and others of his entourage to view guests as they arrived. The space was airy and I could only imagine that in the day it would be beautifully lit. The brown marble columns holding up the first floor platform created a walkway through the entrance hall that led to the huge French doors, which opened out onto the giant back garden. Felipe’s home was beautiful, but far too large for his needs. He lived alone, the members of his court residing in the building behind this one, and he had no progenies that anyone was aware of.
“Miss Caesar?” A British accent broke through the crowd and I turned in the direction of the voice, not recognizing it. The relief and trepidation coming through the bond however as the woman with the voice came into view told me that Godric knew her, and that she was the woman he had asked to keep an eye out for me. She was pretty; there was no denying it. Her medium length brown hair had been straightened and her blue eyes were alert, taking in everything happening around her. She was of average height but wore heels for the evening, boosting her up a few inches.
“Yes that’s me.” I replied, reverting to my old Egyptian accent. At formal events such as this I often went back to my old tongue, to place as much distance between myself and the other guests as possible until I knew them better. It wasn’t difficult to maintain my accent these days, my boys and I often spoke to one another in Egyptian when alone and could therefore retain the language and accent.
The brunette woman stood before me and, as vampire custom dictated, didn’t offer me her hand to shake. “Nora Gainesborough, I’m a member of The Authority. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard so much about you.” She offered me a smile, but I wasn’t sure if it was meant in a friendly manner or a predatory one. Being part fae meant I was constantly on my guard around other vampires. It was another reason I hated Felipe’s parties so much – the guest list consisted mainly of vampires.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you too, Miss Gainesborough. I hope everything you’ve heard has been good.” I offered a smile in response. Isabel gently tugged at my arm, gesturing to her left with her head. With a nod she let go of my left arm and I pulled it across my body, resting it against Ari’s arm in an affectionate gesture that, to those unaware that we really were Maker and Childe, would suggest we were together. It was a cheap trick I’d used over the years to put other vampires off. Godric may have complete faith and trust in Nora, but I didn’t.
“Oh it has. Roman is enamored with you and your contribution to the mainstreaming movement.” Nora’s eyes dropped from my face to my left hand before returning back up again, the corner of her lips twitching upwards slightly.
“I’m just glad that my contributions are helping bridge the gap between humans and vampires so we can all coexist peacefully.” I bullshitted with a smile, knowing that no matter what vampires did, or how many laws were passed for them, they would never be treated as equals. There would always be fanatics out there like the Fellowship to try and bring them down.
Seemingly pleased with my response, Nora gave a nod. “I’ll keep an eye on you this evening and only step in when you need me. I do hope we get the opportunity to talk to one another in more depth later on.” She moved off to my right, approaching a vampire dressed in a black suit with a red tie. The pair fell into conversation easily.
Thankfully over the years I had been able to perfect my shields so that I wouldn’t receive a headache when listening in on others. I’d created a method to sort though thoughts, filing them away and picking out only the relevant pieces of information. Unfortunately everyone’s minds were filled with political thoughts this evening, and surprisingly there was a lack of human minds.
“There are very few humans here, if any.” I mentally informed those back home, pursing my lips together to think it through. If there were few humans here then what would everyone be drinking? Tru Blood was by no means appetizing, especially for an event such as this. As there were no cameras, and practically no humans, this was pretty much a Supe gathering and therefore the vampires didn’t have to hide behind synthetic blood. Had they managed to get their hands on blood earlier on in the day by going to the blood bank? Or were they going for something fancy like Royalty Blend? Royalty Blend sounded about right. The thought of it made me shudder though. It was a mixture of both synthetic blood and real blood of actual European royalty. Not only was Egypt close to Europe, but also I was royalty from two different families, both human and supernatural. Every day I was grateful Egypt was not part of Europe. The last thing I needed was some power hungry, wealthy businessman wanting me for my blood. Oh, wait…
“Ata, Ari!” A chirpy voice cracked me out of my thoughts and I turned to see Edgar approaching Ari and I with his entourage behind him and his arms outstretched in my direction.
“Edgar!” I let go of Ari as the King of California approached. Taking both of my hands in his, he dropped kisses to the back of them, his eyes clocking the band around my finger for a moment before he pulled back to look at me from head to toe.
“You become even more beautiful every single night my dear. He’s a very lucky vampire, I am incredibly jealous.” He smiled, letting go of my hands. Giving a small respectful nod of acknowledgement towards Ari, I noted Isabel moving back to my side to flank me.
Edgar’s eyes met mine and I understood immediately what he was asking of me. Focusing solely on him, I blocked out the other vampires in the room. “If Felipe tries anything this evening my dear I will be more than happy to step in and make him stop. I will even challenge him for this state. You do not deserve to be treated like an asset, a trophy to be won, as you are so much more. My state is wealthier, and I have many more resources at my disposable. Should a takeover be conducted I can guarantee you I will leave you be to run your area, or if you wish to leave your political post then you will always have my backing. If all else fails you are more than welcome to come and live in California, tribute free of course.” He grinned at me and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Edgar had always been a wonderful man and an even better vampire. He was relatively young in comparison to many other vampires on the west coast, however he was a firm favorite with everyone within his state. Both vampires and humans alike enjoyed his company and found him a charismatic and charming man. I had to agree with them, Edgar had the whole package. I was touched that he would go to such an extent to stop me from having to put up with Felipe, but I suppose in a way I had saved his life by revealing his ex-lovers plan to stake him in his day rest, so he was merely saving my life in return.
I’d naturally been filtering my thoughts through to everyone back at the penthouse, so the jealousy coming through the bond was no surprise. What was a surprise was the vast amount of it pouring into me. I’d always known that vampires were possessive creatures but I never fully understood just how possessive they were until I had been reunited with my beloved.
“First he has his hands all over you, then he offers to defend you, then he suggests a takeover of Nevada! Does he not realize you are my bonded?” Godric’s growl reverberated through my mind.
“Edgar is merely offering to help me as I saved his life a few years back. He is returning the favor. He is well aware of our bonding, he did mention you if you remember. He’s merely trying to help sweetie. Besides, I love you.” I reminded him calmly, not wanting him to blow a fuse back at the penthouse and come storming in. Security seemed to be so tight that should he try to get in he would probably end up hurting himself in some manner.
The ringing of a bell drew everyone’s attention up to the central platform where a finally dressed, dark-haired vampire stood. “Ladies and gentlemen, King Felipe de Castro of Nevada welcomes you to his humble home this evening. Dinner will be served shortly so we ask of you to please move into the ballroom and take your seats.” He addressed us all formally. Slowly everyone started to shuffle towards the ballroom.
Edgar took one of my hands once more, pressing a chaste kiss to the back of it. “I will find you later my dear, I wish to speak with you regarding your new situation.” His eyes dropped to the band around my finger for a moment as he allowed himself a smile before he disappeared off into the crowd, his entourage close behind him.
Linking arms with both Isabel and Ari, we walked through into the ballroom as a unit. The room was utterly beautiful, the high ceiling and the walls were painted a cream colour with light beige highlights. In the center of the room sat a polished section of flooring, the dance floor for the evening. Surrounding the dance floor were numerous tables, each with a white linen cloth over them and eight golden chairs. The tables were set with stainless steel cutlery, as silverware was of course a very bad idea. Chandeliers hung from the ceilings, the crystals glittering in the artificial light. At the very far end of the room was a raised stage, on which sat a long table and several seats. I could only assume Felipe would position himself up there so everyone would be forced to look at him all night.
“You dislike him that much eh?” Sookie’s voice floated into my mind and I gave a mental roll of my eyes.
‘You have no idea.” I shot back with a sigh, making my way through the room with my companions.
“Miss Caesar, you look truly ravishing this evening.” The oily voice behind me drew me to a stop, making me instantly stiffen at the sound. I’d been hoping to socialize some more, speak to a few other Monarchs and Sheriffs before being pounced upon. Obviously that wasn’t going to be the case. Although I loved Vegas, having to put up with Felipe all the time was starting to grate on my nerves. I guess he was a nice guy when he wasn’t interested in you, but he’d been relentless in his pursuit of me ever since I had moved to the area. If it weren’t for my boys and our Maker-Childe bond, which we fobbed off as a first exchange blood-bond, Felipe would have no doubt tried to manipulate me to his side by forcing his blood into me.
Plastering on a fake smile, one that I was sure Sookie would be proud of, I turned on the spot to face the King of Nevada. He was dressed in a formal black suit and tie, a golden crown resting on the top of his full head of hair. “King de Castro, thank you very much, you look very nice yourself.” I offered a fake compliment, lacing my accent with sincerity in a hope to throw him off of his game. Giving a small curtsy, which was quite a task in my close fitting dress, I remained glued between Isabel and Ari.
“I was not expecting you to have two escorts this evening, but it is still a pleasure to be in your company Miss Beaumont, Mr. Seti-Nekht.” He acknowledged the vampires stood either side of me, both of whom bowed at the waist out of courtesy rather than genuine respect.
“Yes, I figured it would be a shame for my companion to miss out on this evenings get together, and Miss Beaumont was in town to visit my bonded.” I lied easily, throwing in a comment regarding my beloved to remind Felipe that I was taken, that I was not at all interested in him. Wanting to know if he had taken the hint I attempted to breach his mind, but once again I was met with his void. I wasn’t aware of the exact method the witch had used to stop me from gaining entry into his thoughts, but the void was rather frustrating.
“Ata?” Sookie’s voice in my head interrupted my thought pattern.
“Yes?” I responded. Another guest distracted Felipe at the moment; they were in need of greeting and thankfully bought me some time to mentally respond to my cousin.
“I can hear his thoughts…” I balked, eyes widening as I processed her words. Ari had of course heard me as I had been sending the thoughts coming into my mind to him too.
“What’s he thinking right now?” I demanded, curious as to how Sookie was able to break through his void when I couldn’t.
I was greeted with mental silence for a moment before my cousin responded. “It’s nothing, you don’t want to know.” She tried to brush it off. She wasn’t fooling me though.
I was losing my patience; I needed to know what he was thinking so I could plan accordingly. “Tell me, now.”
Sookie mentally sighed and I could just picture her shaking her head at the laptop screen or, Isis forbid, the TV screen if Riei had hooked it up. “He dislikes the fact you are bonded, happy that Godric is not there with you, curious as to the visitor upstairs and why she is there and trying to come up with a way to get you alone this evening so he can try and convince you to be his consort.” Sookie filled me in.
I groaned at the long list, figuring that he would be thinking about at least half of those things. The comment about the visitor upstairs threw me however. “Who is the visitor?”
“Urmm, the Ancient Pythoness.” Sookie informed me, the confusion evident in her voice. I felt Ari straighten beside me and I turned to look at my eldest Childe. The Ancient Pythoness only ever came out to play at major events, when something important needed to be said or done. Why on earth was she at Felipe’s? I didn’t have time to dwell on the question before I felt a huge burst of annoyance through the bond.
“If you don’t cut it out, I’ll shut down the bond.” I warned my bonded, wanting him to know I wasn’t going to stand for his jealousy or anger any longer. Felipe was no real threat; he was entitled to think what he wanted. I had Isabel, Ari, Edgar and Nora looking out for me.
“Don’t! I’m sorry that my emotions are getting the better of me but if you were in my position you would understand why I am feeling as I am, my sweet.” My beloveds’ soft voice filtered into my mind.
Rather than answering I sent a burst of love through the bond, tinged with reassurance. There wasn’t a cat in hells chance I would agree to anything Felipe would, or could, offer me. I had everything I wanted and that was that.
Having greeted his guests, Felipe turned his attention back to Ari, Isabel and myself. “I have positioned you at the top table by my side, Ata. I do hope you like your dinner this evening; I’ve had the chefs from the Michelin three star restaurant TWIST preparing your meal all day.” He tried to wow me. I must admit it was a rather large thing to do given that, judging by the minds surrounding me, I would be the only human dining this evening. On the other hand I found it unnecessary. I would have been grateful for a Happy Meal I was that hungry.
“That is very kind of you, thank you.” I responded politely, plastering on another smile.
“Please Isis let it be seafood so that my breath will stink and he’ll hopefully stay the hell away.” I mentally muttered to myself, forgetting that my mind was open to all of my boys, Eric, Godric and Sookie. I was reminded of that little fact when I heard them all laughing in my head. I had to suppress my smile at the sound of their combined laughter. They were my little family and I loved to hear them all getting along together.
“Unfortunately I was not expecting you to be here with company, so there is no room at the head table for your companions I’m afraid.” He tried to look sorrowful, but I could see right through him. He was enjoying the fact he would have me to himself and that Ari and Isabel wouldn’t be there to keep an eye on me. Although I was smiling on the outside, I was seething on the inside.
“Once again I apologize for not informing you of my companions, but a girl can’t arrive to a party alone now can she?” I batted my eyelashes, playing up the innocent female role. I had a feeling Felipe liked his women weak, ones who would bend to his every whim. I hoped, by playing on that, that he would let a few things slip, preferably the block around his mind.
“Sookie, can you get into his previous thoughts and memories and have a rummage for me please? I want to know if he knows anything about the bombing of my hotel, or about Russell?” I asked my cousin as Felipe bid us farewell for now, disappearing off to go and speak with a few other Sheriff’s.
“I’ve already tried that Ata, I can’t get to any of that. The only thing I have access to is his current thoughts. I’ll keep trying for you though.” Sookie replied almost instantly and I was proud of her for attempting to root through his previous thoughts and memories. She needed to learn to drop her shields every time she met someone new and go digging just to make sure they were trustworthy. By keeping her shields up all the time for fear of invading others privacy she was putting her life on the line. That was something I wouldn’t allow to happen.
“Miss Ata!” A familiar voice called out from across the room and I turned to see my favorite King.
“Bubba!” I couldn’t help but squeal in delight, holding my arms out for a hug as the dark haired vampire vamped across the room, locking me in his embrace seconds later. Bubba and I had been friends in his human years, so the bond we had created then had only been made stronger when he had been turned into an immortal. It was then I had trusted him with my heritage and he had sworn to never tell a soul.
“Oh my God is that Elvis Presley?” Sookie mentally screamed at me, forcing me to try my hardest not to flinch at the volume.
“Yes, but don’t call him that. He dislikes being reminded of his human years. He goes by the name Bubba now.” I informed her as he continued to cling to me. It had been a few years since we had last seen one another, and a lot had happened in that time. I was careful during our embrace to keep my silver jewelry off of his skin, not wanting to cause him any unintentional harm.
“You’re hugging the King of Rock and Roll. How!?” Sookie demanded. Dipping into Eric’s head for a moment I took in the scene back at the penthouse. Riei had hooked the laptop up onto the TV screen and Sookie was practically sat on top of it, eyes wide in fascination. Clearly she was a huge fan of the vampire in my arms.
“In 1969 he performed his first show at the International to a sold-out crowd, he went on to perform regular shows there for seven years, which, if my math’s is correct, is a total of 837 consecutive sold-out performances in front of 2.5 million people. I was there on the opening night and got to meet him afterwards. We struck up a friendship and haven’t lost contact with one another ever since.” I couldn’t help but smile. I’d been such a huge fan back then and to get to meet him in person had been incredible, becoming friends with him had been even better and now I was often on the receiving end of his embraces and smiles.
“So, all the sightings of him have been real?” Sookie mentally whispered, as if anyone else could hear us outside of our little family.
“Yes, but unfortunately he isn’t all there mentally and can’t be trusted in the real world. He’s usually passed around between the Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee vampires. He never really comes to Vegas, after all this is where he’s most famous. You only have to walk down one side of The Strip and you’ll be bombarded with merchandise relating to him. When he died there was still a spark of life left in him and a vampire working at the morgue was a fan of his. The vampire turned him, but unfortunately his mental state was compromised. He’s so obedient though and he follows orders to a T. He’s kind of the mentally challenged, sweet little brother of the vampire world. Don’t let that fool you though; he’s rather strong – even for a vampire – because everyone is careful not to upset him. Oh, and he prefers cat blood to human blood.” I explained in further detail, feeling Sookie’s shudder in my mind at the mention of his blood preference.
“Wait, your subconscious is a cat….”
“Which is exactly why I to stay out of his head. I don’t go rummaging for anything, I let him speak to me.” I mentally laughed. I didn’t want to venture down that trail. Anything that happened to my subconscious happened to me also, and I wasn’t about to risk Bubba’s subconscious draining mine!
Ari and Isabel had left my side to socialize while Bubba and I embraced one another. Ari was well aware of how much Bubba cared for me and that he would take care of me. Besides, we had to act like nothing was amiss. Bubba pulled back from our embrace, still holding one of my hands as he took a step back to admire my outfit. “You’re looking mighty pretty this evening Miss Ata.” He complimented me with a grin.
I couldn’t help but blush at his compliment, it wasn’t every day the King called a woman pretty. I felt a tinge of jealousy through the bond so in response I shoved back my memories of the times I had spent with Bubba, including his human years. I had nothing to hide, there was nothing between us, but it was nice to be told by someone who was seen as a sex symbol, who was adored by thousands of women the world over, that you were pretty.
“And you look absolutely handsome this evening yourself, Bubba.” I responded in complete sincerity, taking in his perfectly tailored suit. Due to his real identity he was unable to work in the human world, and was therefore employed by Supes for errands and other bits and pieces that were of the uttermost importance. Bubba was incredibly loyal and would do anything asked of him. He was paid handsomely for his discrete work and could therefore afford the finer things in life. Not to mention he still had some money left over in savings from his human life.
I noted, from the corner of my eye, that Felipe was slowly making his way closer to Bubba and I. “You’ve got a real nice ring on your finger. Mr. Ari asked you to marry him?” Bubba innocently assumed I would be marrying Ari. We hadn’t told him of our Maker-Childe bond. It wasn’t that we didn’t trust him, we trusted him completely, but the fewer who knew the better.
“Oh no it’s a promise ring, given to me by my bonded, Godric Nervii.” I stated proudly, dropping my gaze to my hand to admire the band.
“You found one another?” Bubba’s excitement bubbled over as he grinned happily. After revealing my heritage and my age to him I had informed him of my tie to Godric, asking him if, on his travels through the different states, he could fill me in if he heard anything about my beloved. He never came back with any information. I never expected him to have anything for me in all honesty, as vampires were so secretive.
“Well, he found me.” I replied with a warm smile, pushing the memory of that evening to my bonded’s mind, wanting him to see it from my point of view. It was seconds later that I was hit with a huge wave of love, affection and adoration. All those years ago, stood in my mothers throne room at the tender age of ten with a row of slaves before me, I had chosen my companion. I’d chosen well.
“He was the old Sheriff of Dallas right? I think that’s quite funny; my Priscilla spent five years playing the character Jenna Wade on the TV show Dallas. I used to watch every week for her.” A sad smile crossed over his features and I rubbed the back of his hand in a soothing gesture. The media had reported so many times all of the affairs they had both had with other people, of their divorce and the causes of it. Bubba had confided in me at times and it had broken my heart to see their relationship, and marriage, come to an end. It was obvious they had still very much loved one another at the time of their separation, but they just couldn’t make it work out.
Suddenly his features changed, and a bright smile replaced his sad one. “When you do get married, I hope I get an invite! I could even sing a song for you when you walk down the aisle!”
I had to reign in my emotions at that moment in time; the thought of Bubba singing for me as I walked down the aisle had me tearing up. I could feel Godric’s honor at receiving such an offer through the bond, mixed with excitement and happiness. “You’ll be top of the list Bubba, top of the list.” I promised him quietly, giving his cold hand a gentle squeeze.
Bubba’s eyes shifted to my left and I turned to find Felipe stood at my side. “What list will Bubba be at the top of?” he tried to go for innocent, including a smile with his question, but I knew he was fishing for an answer. Well, if he wanted an answer then I would give him one.
“Bubba was just offering to sing for me when I walk down the aisle to marry Godric.” I responded happily, enjoying the way Felipe’s smile dropped. It didn’t go unnoticed to Bubba. “He gave me this promise ring you see,” I held my hand up to Felipe, “and as soon as the VRA passes, well.” I smiled, forcing myself to think of something highly inappropriate to cause myself to blush, as if innocently sweet. It worked.
“Thanks for sharing that, Ata.” I heard Eric mutter in my mind and I had to try and conceal my wide eyes at the realization that Sookie was still acting as the middleman and transmitting my thoughts. Godric’s amusement flooded the bond and I couldn’t help but flush a shade darker. Bubba was watching me with a curious expression so I causally raised my free hand to the side of my face that was away from Felipe, flipping my hair aside, but not before I lingered on my temple for a moment. The corner of Bubba’s lips twitched upwards as he realized what was going on.
“Well, I hope to get an invite too, wouldn’t want to miss the wedding of my favorite, and my best, Sheriff.” Felipe’s voice had tightened and he stood a little straighter than usual.
“Ata 1, Felipe 0” I mentally congratulated myself. A mini round of applause broke out in my mind and I had to bite my lip to stop myself from laughing at my little family’s antics.
“Of course you will be on the list.” I offered Felipe a smile, hoping to appease him for now.
“Unless we stake you first, slimy bastard.” Ari’s mental musing caused me to laugh, but I was quick to cover it with a cough. Felipe quirked an eyebrow at me while Bubba played the role of caring friend, asking me if I needed a glass of water. Although he was considered naive and mentally challenged by most, he knew me well enough to understand my reactions and body language by now. Politely shaking my head at his offer, I played along.
“We’re all sitting down for dinner now, I was hoping you would join me.” Felipe offered me his hand, palm upwards. I cringed internally at the thought of taking his hand. I could practically hear Godric growling all the way from the penthouse. With no option but to take his hand, I reluctantly let go of Bubba, placing my warm hand in Felipe’s icy one. His fingers closed over mine and it was far from pleasant.
“I’ll keep an eye on you Miss Ata, don’t you worry none.” Bubba locked eyes with me, offering me a smile.
“I’ll see you later Bubba.” I acknowledged his mental message with a nod just as Ari slipped back to my side.
“Is dinner served?” he asked with a smile, glancing between Felipe and I.
Felipe seemed to grunt, annoyance flashing in his eyes before he schooled his features. “Yes dinner is about to be served. I was just escorting Ata to her seat beside me at the head table.”
“That’s wonderful, we’ll have such a great view from up there.” Ari started to walk alongside us, but Felipe paused mid-step.
“I apologize Ari, but I was unaware that you would be attending and therefore I do not have a place set for you at the head table.” Felipe’s tone of voice was anything but apologetic, and Ari’s smile disappeared instantly.
“I’m Ata’s second-in-command and her escort for the evening, it is my duty to remain by her side.” Ari insisted, taking on his stern tone and expression. I had been on the receiving end of such a look a few times over the years whenever I had done something silly.
“Miss Caesar will be fine by my side, there are plenty of other tables for you to sit at. I am your King, there is no one she would be safer with.” Felipe stated before he started to walk again, gently tugging me along. I wanted to slap him; I was not a rag doll to be pulled around!
“Ari! Stay as close to me as possible, I don’t like this!” I mentally begged my eldest Childe, looking over my shoulder to him as Felipe started to all but drag me to the head table. Letting go of my hand, his hand moved to my lower back, dangerously close to my exposed skin. I didn’t want his hands on me so I quickened my pace, putting a little distance between us. I could feel his eyes on my back.
“Why is your back all marked up Ata? Your unmarred skin is far more beautiful.” Felipe’s voice entered my ear as he caught up with me.
“They are the marks of my bonded, a show of whom I belong to. My bonded does not want fang marks marring my skin and therefore this was the next best thing. He states that I am no fangbanger.” I responded, wanting Felipe to know there was no way I was going to be hopping from one vampire to the next, that I was neither an object nor a common whore.
Felipe didn’t bother to respond to my comment, but I could see the disdain on his features. If he had noticed my markings then I was sure plenty of other people in the room had too. “I dislike that you are sat alone with him my sweet.” Godric’s worried tone entered my mind.
“I don’t like it either, but there is nothing we can do. He’s the King, he can do what he wants.” I mentally sighed as Felipe pulled out my chair for me. I could feel Godric’s anger at the situation and his loathing for Felipe. Daintily I sat on the chair, allowing Felipe to push me in to the table. Before I knew it Edgar was slipping into the seat beside me, causing all the tension in my body to disappear. Nora took the seat on the other side of Edgar and I found myself grateful to have at least two of my five guardians up at the head table with me. Letting my eyes drift around the room I found Ari and Isabel sat together at the table closest to me, sat in seats where their eyes would be naturally trained on me. Bubba was sat on the other side of the room, and he too had taken up a seat where he could see me without obstruction. The other Nevada Sheriff’s were sat on Felipe’s right; meaning Felipe was between my fellow Sheriff’s and I. I didn’t like that one bit, especially as I was the only female. By separating us he was making a statement to the crowd that I was different from the rest, special even, and the last thing I needed was for others to start digging into my past, or my current situation. I was trying to conceal Eric and Sookie, I didn’t need someone finding out I was housing them, training Sookie up. If Russell found out, my home and business would probably suffer more than two bombs.
As everyone took their seats, silence settled over the room and Felipe took that moment to rise to his feet, clearing his throat to capture everyone’s attention. “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank you all for joining me this evening; it is an honor to have you all in my humble abode. I have invited you all here this evening not only as a social get together, for it has been some time since we have all been in the presence of one another, but also in honor of my Sheriff’s. They have all served me for a long time now and I wish to celebrate their loyalty.” Felipe smiled, as he looked first to the male Sheriff’s on his right, to me on his left. His eyes lingered a little longer on me for a moment before he returned his attention to the other guests.
“If my gag reflex worked, I’d have probably thrown up by now.” Khai’s mental comment made me clench my hands into fists under the table in order to stop myself from laughing. Edgar seemed to note my body language and took my hand under the table, giving it a firm squeeze of reassurance.
“My gag reflex does work, feel sorry for me.” I responded in kind to all back in the penthouse, including Ari in the conversation.
“You can suppress your gag reflex though, my sweet.” Godric’s smug voice infiltrated my mind, along with a bombardment of images from our time in the bedroom earlier on in the evening. Restraining my gasp, I instinctively crossed my legs, clamping them shut. Edgar’s nostrils flared however and a knowing smile crossed his lips. Raising his free hand to his temple he tapped it subtly and I gave a small nod of my head.
“GODRIC!” Sookie’s shocked voice rang out in my mind and I cringed internally. Dear Horus please say she didn’t see that mental image! The laughter coming from my boys, Eric and Godric told me otherwise.
“My state is prosperous and I have enough surplus cash each month to contribute to the charities that help the humans with their day to day lives. My Sheriff’s keep the peace perfectly and Vegas is pulling in more money than it ever has done before. So, I offer my thanks to my Sheriff’s, Corentin Fiacre.” The Sheriff of Area 32 rose to his feet, the vampires in the audience offering claps. The area’s of America were random, with Louisiana being the starting point of the numbering system as New Orleans was the first central hubbub of vampires in the new world. Texas followed afterwards due to the oil industry; vampires were known to go where there was money. “Aurel Gavril.” The Sheriff of Area 33 rose to his feet, more clapping following. “Bryn Marc.” The Sheriff of Area 34 rose to his feet as the clapping continued. “Colton Emory.” The Sheriff of Area 35 rose to his feet also. “And of course, Ata Caesar.” Felipe’s eyes swiveled to me. In an elegant gesture I had practiced over and over again over the years, I rose to my feet to the sound of louder applause, giving the dazzling smile I had mastered over the years to the crowd of guests.
The other Sheriff’s had remained on their feet so I did the same. “I have also called everyone here today to inform you that Miss Caesar’s business, Caesar’s Palace, was recently bombed by members of the supernatural community. I ask that you all remain vigilant, and should you detect any suspicious activities that you share the information with one another and your neighbouring states. We are unsure as to where the threat is coming from but, with the vote on the VRA right around the corner, we need to show a united and caring front to humans and bring an end to any potential threat to the passing of the amendment.” He addressed the guests, who all murmured in agreement.
“We are not in the company of the media or any outsiders, so don’t worry, you won’t be dining on Tru Blood this evening.” Felipe laughed, causing a ripple effect across the room. I forced a laugh in order to blend in.
“That wasn’t even funny.” Sookie mentally declared. I gave her mind a prod so she’d shush for now.
“So please, enjoy your meals.” With a flourish of his arms around 30 members of staff, all supernatural beings, entered the room, carrying with them trays with bowls of blood on. Sinking down into my seat as the other Sheriff’s did so, we all exchanged nods with one another. We would no doubt chat later. Aurel was based in Carson City and I had a small condo there that I hadn’t been to in a while. If push came to shove I would send Eric and Sookie there, but I would have to tell Aurel in advance. He was a decent man, if not a little unorganized at times.
A waiter placed a plate down before me and I thanked him as he left, stealing a quick glance at the bowls of blood that had been given to Edgar and Nora. “It’s citrus based and has lemons in it, so don’t let it get onto your skin Ata.” I could hear Isabel clearly and found it difficult to conceal my shock. Shooting a glance in her direction I offered her a nod of thanks for her warning. I had been served Atlantic lobster and sweetbread ravioli with tomato petal, asparagus, clams and coral jus.
“Oh save Isis it’s seafood!” I gleefully cheered mentally, thinking of how horrendous my breath would stink later and that it would most likely put Felipe off.
“I don’t think you’ve ever been so happy to eat fish in your whole life. I remember when you used to complain about eating fish from the Nile, you used to say it was never flaky enough.” Oeri teased me through our mental connection as I started to tuck into my meal; ignoring the fact the vampires around me were consuming blood from bowls. It was far too civilized for my liking. I was used to my boys either taking from the source or from donor bags.
The room was silent as everyone ate, and even my mental ties to my family were quiet as well. I was focusing on the thoughts of others in the room, filtering them and sorting through them, passing along anything of interest to my boys. With my plate empty, the waiter took it away from me, offering me a glass of champagne. I took a sip out of politeness, but I was well aware of the effect alcohol would have on my shields, plus any intoxication in my system could lead to me walking into a sticky situation, and that was the last thing I wanted.
Once everyone’s bowls were cleaned away, Felipe patted his mouth with a napkin before rising back up onto his feet, instantly gathering the attention of everyone in the room. “I do hope dinner was to your taste this evening and that you will now all join me on the dance floor for the remainder of the evening.” He formally ended dinner. Edgar took my hand once more; about to take me away from Felipe with the excuse of a dance, but Felipe beat him to it. Offering his hand out to me, Felipe smirked. “Would you join me for the first dance, Ata?” he dropped his voice a few octaves, looking at me through hooded lids. Of course my contact lens cameras picked up the lusty look in his eyes and I had to stop myself from bringing up my dinner. Then of course I was hit with a tidal wave of anger and hatred from my bonded, directed at the vampire opposite me. Swallowing back the negative emotions, I purposefully placed my left hand in Felipe’s outstretched one, and, just like planned, his eyes dropped to the white gold and diamond band around my finger. In a flourish I was up on my feet, moving towards the dance floor with the King of Nevada. I caught sight of Isabel and Ari as I passed their table, and both offered me sympathetic glances.
The band struck up from the corner of the room and started to play Revelry by Emilie Autumn. I frowned lightly at the choice. In my opinion some of Emilie Autumn’s work had a very classical feel, but was of course far more modern. “I heard a rumor around town you were an Emilie Autumn fan, so I thought you would enjoy the first dance being one of her songs.” Felipe informed me as he spun me around, pulling me flush to his body. “I had the band learn it specially for you.” His fingers ghosted over my jawbone and I could feel Godric’s barely contained anger. Ari was up on his feet nervously standing at the edge of the dance floor, but he was unable to swoop to my rescue, that would be a sign of disrespect to Felipe and we had too much to lose by falling out with him.
Plastering on a smile to cover my inner turmoil, we started to move in a waltz. My feet were telling me to go for a rumba, or the tango, but such dances were far more sensual and I refused to give Felipe any ideas. Insisting the waltz was the way to go, I allowed Felipe to lead as he started to twirl us around the room. “You look absolutely incredible this evening Ata, everyone here is watching us, you’re breaking many hearts in that dress. Every man is jealous that I am dancing with you, and every woman is envious of the empire you have created, the people you know, the riches you adorn yourself with.” His mouth was inches from my ear as he spoke, having retained his deeper voice. His tone caused me to shudder, but not out of pleasure or anticipation, but out of disgust.
“Thank you for your kind comments, Your Majesty. It is very rare for me to receive such compliments these days.” I remembered my manners, knowing my mother would have had my hide if I had of forgotten them.
“Does your companion not inform you of how beautiful you are?” his question seemed innocent enough, but I was well aware that it was loaded.
Continuing to twirl around the room, I laughed lightly, letting a smile settle upon my features. “My bonded pays me such compliments every day, I meant that it is rare to receive such kind comments from those outside of my nest.” I corrected my earlier statement, emphasizing the fact I was bonded. If I were thrice bonded to Godric, Felipe wouldn’t even be able to touch me right now without the risk of the true death, which I was sure Godric would be swift to deliver.
“I want to stake that bastard right now.” I heard him seethe. I could also pick up on Sookie’s mind as she attempted to calm down my beloved, reassuring him that she was inside Felipe’s head and while his thoughts weren’t exactly pure, they weren’t malicious either.
“Ah yes, your fiancé.” The disdain was evident in his tone as he glanced to the band around my finger once more.
“We are not engaged, it is merely a promise and after 2000 years on this earth my beloved has learned to never break a promise.” I gave a wistful sigh to add to the illusion of a naive young girl after her fairytale. I wanted Felipe to feel like I was helpless, like he could help me, because maybe then he would let his guard down long enough for me to slip into his mind. I’d been keeping tabs on his brain signal all night and yet the black curtain that had been pulled around his thoughts and memories was unrelenting.
“Have you thought upon my offer some more?” He asked as we continued to twirl around the dance floor, all eyes following us as we moved.
“Which offer would that be, Your Majesty?” I had to restrain my growl, knowing full well there were only two offers he had ever made me. The first was to be his consort, and the second was for financial, and emotional, aid towards the rebuild of the Palace.
“Why to be my Queen of course, you are already wearing a tiara after all.” He had the audacity to smile afterwards.
Godric’s anger nearly bowled me over and if it weren’t for my 2000-year-old practiced poker face I would have found myself in an even worse situation, if such a thing existed. “I am wearing a tiara because I am royalty from two different families, regardless of whether I am your Queen or not. While I once again thank you for your offer, Your Majesty, I am bonded to the man I love completely and do not intend to enter into any form of relationship with anyone else, human or vampire, now or ever.”
Felipe’s jaw tensed and the song came to a close, parting our bodies, he dropped a kiss to the back of my hand before he all but stormed off into the crowd. “I think I just upset him.” I informed Ari and everyone at the penthouse, pursing my lips together.
“Fuck him. Actually, please don’t.” Khai’s cheeky comment caused me to smile. Almost instantly I was in the arms of Edgar, who started to twirl me around the room as the next song started up. Godric’s anger started to weaken now that I was with Edgar instead of Felipe, but I could still feel his dislike about the fact I was in the arms of another man.
“You look very lovely this evening Ata, your vampire must be very proud to be able to call you his.” Edgar offered me a sincere smile. The mention of Godric, in such a positive manner, had me grinning. I could feel him pushing his love and pride through the bond too.
“Ah, now there is the smile of a woman in love.” I blushed under Edgar’s gaze, spending a moment drowning myself in my love for my vampire as I twirled around in the arms of the King of California.
For the remainder of the song I twirled about in Edgar’s arms but as the song drew to a close Ari stepped forward, taking me from Edgar with a smile. Waltzing around the room with my eldest Childe, I spent the time pushing feelings through our Maker-Childe bond. Ari and I had never been extremely verbally affectionate, all of our care for one another was usually conveyed through our bond as we felt it more sincere, and no one else would overhear us. It was special. Pushing my love for my boy through the bond, I received it back in waves, washing over me. I pushed pride through our connection also, wanting him to know he was one of my greatest creations.
“Thank you, mother.” Ari’s voice filled my mind as he twirled me on the spot before continuing our waltz.
“What for, my son?” I frowned lightly, unsure as to what my boy was thanking me for.
“Everything. If it weren’t for you I would have perished over 2000 years ago. I would have never travelled the world, witnessed the first man on the moon, the invention of penicillin, the signing of the declaration of independence, the world wars and getting to meet Shakespeare. I would have never found my brothers and gained a family, I would have never witnessed first hand how wonderful the human race is, how they fight back against all the odds, how they always survive. I would’ve missed out on an eternity of laughter and love, of adventure and surprises. That’s why I’m thankful, mother.”
I couldn’t stop the stray tear from escaping me as I felt all of my children pushing their love through our bonds, it was overpowering, overwhelming, and yet I welcomed it with open arms, pushing just as much back to each of them. They had all left behind their mortal lives for me; they had traded the sun for the moon and stars and had protected me from everyone and everything. Ari wiped away my tear, popping it into his mouth to savor it.
“I love you, all of you, it should be me thanking you.” I mentally whispered to them all, keeping the constant flow of love going to our bonds. I could practically feel all of my children smiling through our bond and, as the song hit the last note, Ari dipped me down. Righting myself in one smooth movement, I pulled my eldest into an embrace, keeping the silver from touching his skin.
The music changed once more but I found myself wanting one more dance with my Childe. “Argentine Tango?” I couldn’t hide my smile at Ari’s suggestion. With a nod we took our starting positions and the moment the music picked up we were off. Over the years my boys and I had learnt how to dance, purely because dancing was a much-loved pastime throughout history. Although I danced with all of my boys we each had our own signature dance. Khai was perfect at the rumba, Riei at the cha-cha, Oeri at the mambo, Agmund at the salsa and Egor at the foxtrot. Of course Ari’s specialty was the tango.
Lifting me into the air I pointed my feet before being placed neatly back down onto the ground, together we moved across the dance floor, our feet in perfect sync with one another, our steps light and quick. Our usual routine consisted of numerous lifts, but I trusted Ari with my life and therefore had no issue with it. Over the years we had crafted our dance, changed it subtly every now and then, and this evening we threw in a touch more sensuality. Twirling me out Ari brought me back in, wrapping me in his arms before taking my hands in his own, starting to move his feet at a quicker pace. I found myself able to keep up with him thanks to my latest ingestion of vampire blood earlier on in the evening.
As we moved across the dance floor I came to realize that most people had vacated it and were instead stood at the edge, watching Ari and I as we glided across the floor. I caught sight of Edgar, Isabel, Bubba and Nora, who were all stood together watching on with smug smiles. Their eyes flickered every so often to Felipe, who looked like he wanted to stake someone. Isabel was holding a small camera. Clearly the little touch of sensuality was having the desired effect as a few of the vampires in the crowd had dropped fang at our display.
Our dance wasn’t that long but as the music came towards an end I twirled into Ari’s arms, bending my knee which he grasped firmly, using it to haul me up. Twisting my body I flicked my legs out to straddle him, one of his arms holding me firmly in place at the small of my back while the other was outstretched behind him in a flourished movement. It was then he bent me forward, my arms outstretched to the floor just as the final note rung out around the room. It had been a long time since I had danced at a formal occasion with my Childe and the way the vampires broke into applause had me positively giddy. I could feel the appraisal from all back at the penthouse, they must have been watching through my contact lens cameras, though unfortunately would not have been able to see the whole dance.
Pulling me back up, Ari placed me down on my feet before twirling me to his side, where we both bowed our thanks to the crowd. Now I was glad I had only waltzed with Felipe, I would have never dared to encourage such a dance with him for fear he would have believed me to harbor feelings for him.
Slowly the dance floor started to fill up again and a few vampires came over to compliment our dance. I remained glued to Ari’s side, thanking them profusely for their kind words.
“You dance real well Miss Ata.” Bubba bounded over to my side as Ari and I left the dance floor. I couldn’t help but smile at the dark haired singer.
“Thank you Bubba, but we all know you’re the best at the dancing.” I complimented, remembering all of the videos and movies I’d seen of him dancing in his human years. He’d had natural rhythm and therefore he’d been a great dancer.
“Aw shucks Miss Ata. We can jive together later if you’d like?” If it were possible for vampires to blush I had a feeling that Bubba would have been right about now. It was a well known fact the challenged vampire had all but given up singing and dancing after he had been turned, so to not only be offered a song by him but also a dance on the same night was a huge honor.
“I’d love that Bubba, very much indeed.” I accepted.
Nora slid up to my side a moment later, a look of concern on her features. “The guest upstairs wishes to speak with you.” She whispered right in my ear so no other vampires would hear.
Remembering that the Ancient Pythoness was upstairs I gave a nod of my head before turning to Ari. “The A.P is upstairs and has requested my presence. I’ll be fine though. I’ll take Nora with me, you stay here with Isabel and if anyone asks where I am then say I went to take care of my human needs please.” I filled him in, including everyone back at the penthouse in on the mental message.
“Nora darling, I haven’t a clue where the ladies room is, could you escort me please?” I batted my eyelashes, knowing she would play along. Together we left the ballroom and made our way to the stairs, which we quickly ascended. Felipe’s house was a ridiculous size so it took us a few minutes to locate the room the Ancient Pythoness was staying in, however the two Britlingens stood outside of a door gave away her location. Nodding their head in acknowledgement to my escort and I, they allowed us entry.
The room was modern, just like the rest of the house, and I couldn’t help but feel that it didn’t suit the Ancient Pythoness at all. The far side of the room was one big window and sliding door, which had been left open so that entry to the balcony was easier. The stars were twinkling and the moonlight was coming in through the window. The right hand wall consisted of wardrobes and a large flat screen TV, not that that would be any use to the Ancient Pythoness anyway. A raised platform sat in the center of the room and a huge bed sat on it. What was more important though was the woman sat upon the bed, surrounded by her handmaidens. The Ancient Pythoness was just like her name stated – ancient. Therefore wherever she went she took a handful of women with her who would do all of her work for her and take care of her. They were a wonderfully sweet bunch. The lights had been dimmed and a few flickering candles lit up the corners of the room.
“It has been so long, Ata.” Her ancient voice greeted me as she turned to face me, her blind eyes still managing to see me through the power of her mind. The Ancient Pythoness was a seer, an oracle. She could see the future of every living being, follow different strands based on different actions to get to different results. Being summoned by her usually meant something was coming your way and you would have choices to make, so being told she wished to see me worried me.
“It has been, Your Grace.” I dipped my head in respect as Nora did the same.
“Oh dear girl, there is no need for you to bow your head to me, if anything it is I who should be bowing to you.” A smile tugged at the corner of her lips and I found the same happening to me. “It has been over 1643 years since we last saw one another.” She gave a wistful sigh and I couldn’t help but reminisce. The Ancient Pythoness was the original oracle that Alexander the Great consulted on numerous occasions, and my family was the direct descendants of Alexander’s right hand man, Ptolemy I Soter, also known as Ptolemy Lagides. He was the founder of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, the dynasty of which my family belonged to – the last dynasty of Egypt.
Of course the Ancient Pythoness had been well aware of this connection, but she had stayed away from me until I had left Egypt. Only then had she revealed herself to me. Usually she resided in the Old World, back in Europe, so to have her here in America was a surprise. “I am here for the summit in a few weeks time.” She answered my unspoken question and I couldn’t stop myself from laughing quietly, obviously she had foreseen me asking the question. I could hear Eric telling Sookie in my mind all about the Ancient Pythoness and her ability. “Am I free to speak in front of your companions?” She asked and, glancing to Nora. I gave a nod in response. Although I didn’t trust Nora yet, Godric did, so I would give her the benefit of the doubt. “I meant the companions watching and listening in on us, little princess.” She gave a knowing smile. Of course the Ancient Pythoness would be aware of my contact lens cameras and microphone brooch. “My children, my bonded and his family, and my cousin are all trustworthy.” I responded, grouping little Oscar into the band of my children. As soon as possible I would be making him my own, it wasn’t fair for him to live in such uncertainty.
“Your nest is growing, and it will continue to do so if you carry on down this path. You already have quiet the eclectic family.” She smiled across at me. I had only accessed her brain once, when we had first met, and I had retreated as soon as possible. I had witnessed things in there that weren’t at all pretty, things I should have never known.
“I’ll need to buy a bigger house then.” I muttered under my breath, wondering where we would house everyone. Although we had a huge hotel at our disposal I wanted everyone as close together as possible.
“I wouldn’t worry about a house just yet my dear, that’ll be taken care of in time.” The Ancient Pythoness gave me a knowing smile, causing me to frown. It was then a small tinge of worry and secrecy came through the bond from Godric. Musing over the feelings for a moment, I was snapped out of it by the Ancient Pythoness speaking once more.
“Challenges are coming your way though dear child, and they won’t be easy, they’ll affect not just you but your nest too – your children, your bonded, your cousin. I have seen so many different paths for you; I have kept an eye on you over the years. It is no coincidence you were reunited with your bonded, no coincidence that your cousin has fallen for his Childe.”
I felt Godric’s surprise through the bond and then it all clicked. “Are you saying that we’re fated?” I whispered, unsure if I had taken her words the right way.
“Fated, destined, whatever you wish to call it little one. You and Godric were supposed to meet in your human years. You were supposed to be parted so that Godric could create Eric, who in turn would meet your cousin and draw you all back together again.” The Ancient Pythoness revealed.
“Only together can you beat the obstacles facing you. You and your bonded have had 2000 years each to perfect yourselves, to become the best you can be. Your Children have helped you survive without your bonded by your side and have encouraged you to be a gentle woman, the antithesis of the fierceness of your vampire.” Her blind eyes seemed to be looking right through me.
“Your cousin is the antithesis of Eric too, balancing one another out to create a formidable duo, and as a foursome there is little that can part you, and few who can beat you.” She continued before her face dropped a little. “The path you are walking now is the only one I have seen where the chance of all four of you making it out alive is over 50%, there is still the risk that some of you may not make it if you’re not properly prepared.”
I felt a lump form in my throat at the thought of Godric, Eric or Sookie not making it through this. I cared little for my own safety; I would always put my family before myself. I could feel Godric’s concern through the bond and I could mentally hear Sookie going berserk at the prospect of one of us, or more, dying.
Nora moved closer to my side, gently taking one of my hands in her own. “What do I do? How do we all survive this?” I asked in a hushed tone, trying not to panic over the news I was hearing. Nora’s little show of kindness was greatly appreciated.
The Ancient Pythoness gave a small sigh, licking her lips to moisten them. “You know I favor you, little princess, but if I tell you then the path will change and there is a higher chance of all of you perishing. I can however give you a riddle.” She offered as a substitute.
Screwing my eyes shut I pinched the bridge of my nose with my free hand, opening my eyes slowly to look at the ancient vampire before me. “My mother and father gave me riddles to figure out, but I’m yet to do so.” I complained quietly.
“The answers will come to you soon, the first when you wake tomorrow.” She offered me a starting point.
“I’ll take another riddle then, Pallas.” I sighed, knowing there was no other way for me to get any more information. The Ancient Pythoness had shared her true name with me upon our first meeting, as she informed me we would see one another in the future, and that we could be considered family, as Alexander the Great often called the Ancient Pythoness his sister and Ptolemy I Soter his brother. I had done some digging over the years as to the meaning behind her name, that sort of thing had always fascinated me, and I had learnt that it was Greek, meaning Goddess of wisdom and knowledge. I found it incredibly fitting for the elderly lady.
“Three houses bound together, all four of immortal blood.
Two sets of two that share a tie, combining all around together.
One is ancient, majestic, full of joyful cheer.
Two has much to learn.
Three is wise beyond his years.
And Four once tried to burn.
Now four people, all of power, try to part the four.
With thousands of years between them all, this riddle they will solve.
One of them has used you.
One of them has abused you.
One of them wants to watch you fall.
Deception and lies go hand in hand, but brutal truths can really hurt.
Do not lash out at those you love, but seek revenge for those you lost.
When the moon waxes all of this will end, new powers will be used and promised gifts will make amends.
A sacrifice must be made, a selfless one at that.
Time will heal the marks remaining, but only love will heal thy heart.
In the house of royalty four will fight, yet only two will leave.”
Silence settled over us as I memorized her words, pushing them to all of my children and to Godric, in a hope one of them would write it down. “Remember, little princess, that there are plenty who would willingly lay their lives on the line for you. You may need to call upon them in the future. Your father led armies across the world, and now you may have to follow his footsteps, just like a true little Caesar.” She offered me a smile, holding a hand out to me. The moment she called me a little Caesar I felt my heart constrict and I had to fight back my tears. My little brother had been named Caesarion, which meant ‘Little Caesar.’ I missed my brother something terrible; he had been so sweet, so full of life. I had relished the moment I had ended Octavian for ordering my little brothers death because the bastard had deserved it. I was just disappointed I hadn’t dragged his death out longer.
Taking Pallas’ outstretched hand, she pulled me into her mind, throwing up plenty of doors to areas where she did not want me to go. Her mind was an incredible place, it was huge and so well organized, my subconscious felt lost inside of it. As I was in her mind, I blocked off my connections to Ari and the others back in the penthouse, knowing the only reason I would be in Pallas’ mind would be because she had something secretive to share with me. Pallas had gained her vampire name, the Ancient Pythoness, because I had discovered that her subconscious was a python when I had first attempted to enter her thoughts. I had told her and she had then chosen her name.
My subconscious approached Pallas’ and stopped before her, dipping its head in respect. Surprisingly her subconscious returned the gesture. “I have pulled you here, little one, to tell you of the location of someone important. I will have to bury this information in your subconscious however in order to stop others from finding it, but you will only be able to call upon it when the moment is right” The python informed me, her tongue flickering out to taste the air.
“His mother is in the Summerlands, there is a way to bring her to this realm for a short burst of time, but only once your bond is completed. She can only make one visit to this realm however.” The python informed me, the corner of her lips quirking upwards.
“Godric’s mother?” my subconscious breathed, swishing her tail happily.
“Yes little one, you must not tell your bonded about her, and her appearance must be a surprise. Your bonded has not seen her in over 2000 years; her appearance will have a profound affect on him and he must be ready for it, as she will have plenty to tell him.” I was informed. The python moved towards my subconscious, slowly placing its forehead to Baast’s. I felt the python slipping through my mind, burying the information in my subconscious so that I would only be able to recall it when the moment was correct.
Almost instantly I was pulled back to reality, the connection with Ari and those back in the penthouse opened up again. I frowned lightly, trying my hardest to pull the information out of my subconscious. I was aware that Pallas had told me something, but I couldn’t remember what. “Try not to think of it, little princess.” Pallas laughed gently, letting go of my hand. Nora was at my side instantly, taking my hand in her own. “Bubba is waiting for his dance downstairs, Ata. Thank you for coming to see me, I have a feeling we will be seeing one another more over the coming weeks.” I was politely dismissed. Instinctively I bowed my head, going to leave the room with Nora. “Miss Gainsborough, a moment please?” Pallas interrupted our departure.
I was worried for a moment, and I could feel Godric’s concern for me through the bond, and his curiosity as to why I was confused about the information I could not access. “This is Felipe’s home. Ari, Isabel and Bubba are downstairs, I’ll be fine.” I reassured Nora, and myself. Slowly the brunette vampire let go of my hand and I turned to the door.
Leaving the room I was so lost in my thoughts regarding the riddle I had just received, and the information I couldn’t access, that I didn’t acknowledge the vampire mind to my left, nor did I acknowledge the needle in their hand until it was buried in my neck.
Then the world went black.