A/N I really struggled to write from the POV of Oscar and Bubba, which is why this chapter is so short, so from now on the main four (Ata/Sookie/Eric/Godric) will be conversing with them from phones and such and discovering things out thanks to the recordings. I know it’s a cop-out but I want to write a great story for you guys and this chapter doesn’t feel great/good/etc to me. Sorry!
Arm yourself because no one else here will save you
The odds will betray you and I will replace you
You can’t deny the prize; it may never fulfil you
It longs to kill you, are you willing to die?
The coldest blood runs through my veins
You know my name
If you come inside things will not be the same
When you return to my night if you think you’ve won
You never saw me change the game that we have been playing
I’ve seen diamonds cut through harder men than you yourself
But if you must pretend, you may meet your end
~ You Know My Name, Chris Cornell
The moment Bubba and I left the safety of the penthouse I was on edge. I had my nifty little spy gear but I was still worried. I’d only been in Felipe’s presence when Ata had been sorting out disputes, and even then the man had scared me. Though the vampire who had turned me had taught me how to feed, he hadn’t bothered to school me in the ways of vampire etiquette around ones elders. I’d relied on my instincts during the disputes session, which had decided my fate, and I had a feeling I would have to rely on them again around Felipe.
“Don’t worry none Oscar, I’ll take care of ya.” Bubba offered me a supportive smile, and I returned a smile of my own. If my human mom could only see me now she’d never believe it. She’d adored Elvis as a child, and I’d grown up listening to his music with her. To be sat in a taxi with him was incredible. We’d debated taking Ata’s limo but decided that if Felipe were to see it he would be suspicious. We’d decided on a taxi in the end, and I’d watched as Bubba had glamoured the driver so that he wouldn’t remember us once he’d dropped us off.
Pulling up outside of Felipe’s mansion, which I remembered from the party my new mom had attended a few days ago, I took an unnecessary breath in, slowly exhaling the cool evening air. Centring myself I left the vehicle, as did Bubba, who was standing close beside me. Together we took the few short steps to the front door, which was opened for us by a pair of vampire guards stood watching over the entrance. Cautiously I entered, allowing Bubba to lead the way into the mansion. A woman approached us as we entered; she was dressed in a black pencil skirt and white blouse, her chocolate brown hair was pulled up into a bun on the top of her head and a pair of black, thick-rimmed glasses sat on her nose. She had to be in her twenties, and the sound of her heartbeat was incredible. She looked and smelt wonderful, and I would have pursued her if it weren’t for the numerous fang marks littered across her neck. Clearly there were ‘perks’ to her job. The driver of the taxi had placed our luggage just inside the door.
“I’m afraid the King is busy this evening, you’ll have to come back another time.” She stated, eyeing Bubba and I. She didn’t spend long looking at Bubba, which I considered strange given his true identity.
“Please tell King de Castro that Bubba wishes to see him, and that I have a young vampire with me who wishes to learn the ways of his court. He has no home and family, and I believe he’ll be a valuable asset to the Kings court.” Bubba informed the woman, who looked less than impressed at being ordered around.
The woman sighed quietly and to a human the sound would have been inaudible, but to a vampire the sound was easy to pick up on. “As I stated earlier, Sir, King de Castro is currently bu-“
“Claire.” Felipe’s accent cut through the room, causing the woman’s whole body to stiffen at the sound. “You know full well that I’m not busy this evening, and that you should send all guests straight through to me.” The Nevada King strode into the room, flashing an apologetic smile at Bubba and I before he turned back to the brunette woman, who I now knew as Claire.
“But you are yet to feed this evening, my King.” Claire batted her eyelashes at Felipe, tipping her head sideways in what I could only assume she deemed a coy action. The thumping of her pulse was tantalising, and my hunger was like a burning sensation, trying to consume me. I called upon my restraint, knowing that the King would be less than happy with me should I pounce on the nearest human.
Although it hadn’t been required of me for this little mission I’d refused to feed for the past two days, knowing that if I was hungry the King might take sympathy on me. Even if he only offered me a donor and a room for the night I would be able to get some information for my mother.
“I do not require your blood this evening, Claire. You’re dismissed for tonight.” Felipe wafted a hand in her direction, ignoring her as he stepped past her towards Bubba and I. Dipping my head in a show of submission, even though my mother had told me not too, I clocked Bubba doing the exact same thing from the corner of my eye. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your company this evening Bubba, and that of your companions of course?” Felipe questioned, eyeing me as I lifted my head back up to meet his gaze. Although he was King I wasn’t afraid to look him in the eyes.
“The hotel I was staying in was less than accommodating, Your Highness, so I was wondering if you had a spare room I could perhaps borrow for a night or two before I return to my safe-house in Louisiana?” Bubba questioned, his tone a little lighter than usual in a hope to sway the older King. “My companion is Oscar Roberts, he tells me that you were present when he was taken from his Maker. He has been staying in a motel on the outskirts of town for the past few nights and when I was out finding a cat or two for my dinner I came across him. He has nowhere to go and no idea what to do with himself, so we were wondering if there was an opening in your court perhaps?” Bubba spoke for me, offering the king I smile. I watched as Felipe’s nostrils flared, clearly scenting me. I was pleased that mom had suggested we keep physical contact to a minimum for a few days. Seemingly pleased with whatever he smelt, Felipe looked me up and down for a moment before he gave a stern nod.
“I may have a spot available for you, so long as you pledge fealty that is.” He offered me a crooked smile and, unaware of what exactly pledging fealty was, I simply dipped my head in another show of submission. I would have to speak to Bubba later about what was required of me. I would go ahead with it if it would keep mom and Sookie safe.
“You are most generous, Your Highness.” I faked my compliment, lifting my head a little.
A smug expression crossed the kings’ face as he turned back to Bubba. “I have one room spare if you wish for that Bubba? The pair of you may have to share for a while as I have some important guests staying here with me.” I had a feeling it would be difficult to find out who exactly these guests were. I had a hard time believing that he only had one room spare too, not in a mansion this size. He was most likely keeping Bubba and I together, so it would be easier to take us out or kick us out.
“Thank you, Your Majesty.” Bubba dipped his head as I had a moment earlier, and I couldn’t help but think about how much ass kissing there was in the vampire world. Of course in the middle of the humans political world there was ass kissing too, but not on this scale. Humans were less likely to kill one another for political power than vampires were.
“Show them to their room, will you?” He ordered a black-haired vampire who had entered the entrance hall. With a bow the male vampire dashed for our luggage, picking it up effortlessly before he started to lead the way. Giving a small smile to the King I followed the vampire at a leisurely pace, not wanting to seem nervous or scared. Although I hadn’t been a member of the vampire world for very long I was well aware of how other vampires would pick on me until I showed a weakness, and would then use it to their advantage.
I had to keep the disdain off of my features as I took in the décor of the place. I’d left Caesar’s Palace and yet it felt like I was back there already, minus my mom and the rest of my nest. The male vampire said nothing as he led Bubba and I through the maze of corridors, until he eventually stopped in front of an ornately decorated door. “This is yours.” He stated in a monotone voice, pushing open the door to reveal the huge, beautiful bedroom.
Stepping inside, the male vampire placed our bags down before he left, shutting the doors behind him. The room was painted in yellow, a cheerful colour that reminded me of the sun, and the floor was made of dark, stained wood. In the middle of the room, against one wall, sat a huge four-poster bed, adorned with a yellow duvet and plenty of yellow throw cushions. The frame was the same dark colour as the floor, and a cream coloured rug sat under the bed, breaking up the vast block of colour. On the far wall stood a dresser, numerous plants covering the top of it, along with a few trophies. I rolled my eyes at the trophies. There were plenty of other lush, green plants dotted around the room, and upon closer inspection I realised they were all fake. Seeing as how the daylight was off limits to vampires, as none of us really wanted to burn in the sunshine, fake plants and flowers were the only ones that would thrive indoors. Next to the dresser, in the wall, was an archway that led through into a sitting area and, off of the sitting area, was a bathroom. All of it was decorated in the same shades of yellow, and the flooring went from stained wood to marble as you moved through to the sitting area.
“There’s only one bed.” I commented as Bubba picked up his suitcase, depositing it on his bed so he could unpack a few things.
“We’ll just have to share then Oscar, I promise to keep my hands and my fangs to myself though, so don’t you worry none.” Bubba grinned at me over his shoulder, and I laughed a little at his ease with the situation. Before Bubba could open his mouth to utter another word I raised a finger, asking him for silence as I plucked the bug finder bottle opener from my pocket. Turning it over I held it in my hand, starting to methodically scan it over the surfaces around the room. As I approached the bed it started flash red, signalling a bug. Feeling a little bit smug I continued towards the bed, dropping to my knees as the flashing sped up.
Scrambling underneath the bed I used my vampire eyesight and I was able to identify the bug that had been placed under the bed. Grabbing it, I pulled it silently from the underside of the bed frame. Vamping to the bathroom, I dropped it into the sink before I ran the cold tap, smothering the bug whose electronics failed the moment the cold water slipped past the plastic shell housing.
It took me another ten minutes to sweep the room, and I was able to dispose of six bugs in total, all of which had been rigged to listen in on Bubba and I. Tucking the bottle opener back into my pocket I turned to Bubba, giving him a nod to let him know he could talk now. “How long you planning on staying here Oscar? I might be able to buy you another night or two.” He offered. Removing the gold pendent the witch had charmed for him, he slid it over his head, tucking it inside his shirt so no one would see it. Of course I could still scent the gold, and other vampires would be able to also, but at least it wasn’t on show. Moving to my own bag I plucked out the bangle my human mom had always worn, slipping it onto my wrist. A light tickling sensation crept up my arm and settled in my chest, and I instantly felt more at ease. Whatever magic was in the bangle was making me feel comforted and reassured.
“What did Felipe mean by pledging fealty?” I asked Bubba in a hushed tone, just incase someone was listening in at the door. Stopping his unpacking, Bubba turned to me with a sympathetic smile.
“It means you’re swearing loyalty to him, it’s the only way you can live in his state. All new vampires to an area report to the areas Sheriff, and if they tell the Sheriff they wish to move to the area permanently then they must swear fealty to the King or Queen of the state and to the Sheriff of the area they decide to live in. It’s essentially a pledge of allegiance from one person to another. You’re saying you won’t stake them in the back. Of course all you have to say is that you pledge fealty to the King or Queen, and Sheriffs, and then no one can question you. Heck, most vampires don’t really mean it when they pledge fealty but the tradition has been around for so long that no one wants to get rid of it. If you break the pledge however, then the punishment is the true death. I’ve never had to pledge fealty to a King or Queen, I’m passed around too much to be loyal to one King or Queen, let alone Sheriffs. I’m loyal to Miss Ata though, pledged fealty to her on the quiet once, never has she said a mean thing about me.” I watched as Bubba’s face lit up at the thought of my new mom, and I too struggled to keep my smile at bay.
“So pledging fealty is really just a formality? How do I go about it, do I just say ‘I pledge fealty’ or do they make a big song and dance about it?” I questioned the slightly addled vampire, taking a seat on the bed as he continued to rummage through his belongings.
“Yeah I guess you could say it is. You gotta get down on one knee and bow your head, before stating that you pledge fealty to them. They then accept your fealty, welcome you as a resident of their state, or area depending on who you’re pledging to at that moment, and then that’s it. A lot of the Kings and Queens, when an older and more powerful vampire moves into their state, like to throw a ‘welcoming party’ and invite Kings and Queens of neighbouring states. It’s really just a way for ’em to show off, to show that they now have a powerful asset under their control.” Bubba explained to me. Letting the information soak in for a moment, I thought about the vampire before me. It must have been difficult for him, the transition into this life. He was so well known when he’d been human that he’d probably spent an awful long time in hiding, not to mention that now that he was immortal should he reveal himself he would be going into hiding in order to get away from adoring fans. I found it unfair though that he was passed around like some sort of toy – when one state became bored with him they handed him to the next. He knew a lot about vampire ways and customs, and I had a feeling he had probably seen quiet a lot of strange and scary occurrences in the royal palaces as he was passed between them. At least some of his knowledge on Felipe would come in useful.
“You wearing them?” I asked in a hushed tone, gesturing to my eyes with two of my fingers.
“Popped them in on the taxi ride here, been recording ever since we arrived.” He informed me in a whisper that even I struggled to hear, so there was no chance anyone outside could be listening in, and I’d managed to clean the room of any and all bugs.
“Do you think we’ll actually find anything here?” I questioned quietly, fidgeting with the hem of my shirt. I wasn’t overly comfortable in Felipe’s presence, my little gift of intuition was telling me that he wasn’t a kind man, and he wasn’t very forgiving. I’d watched him carefully as he’d interacted with my mom when she had attended his party, and the way he had leered at her and smothered her in compliments had made me feel nauseous – and vampires couldn’t even throw up! I liked the way Godric, I was yet to speak to him about taking on the role as my father, spoke to my mom. He called her his ‘darling’ and the tenderness in his voice was such a stark contrast to the crudeness in Felipe’s. The moment I clapped eyes on the Nevada King my intuition told me to be careful – just like it was doing right now.
“We might get a few things, but I doubt you’ll hear much. Felipe will either keep you away from everything to play it safe, or he’ll be cocky and let you hear everything. It could go either way. I’ll try and find out as much as I can though, just incase you can’t find anything.” Bubba reassured me with a smile, swapping his shoes over for another pair. “I think the sooner we have you pledge fealty to Felipe the sooner we can start looking for things.” Bubba suggested. With a sigh that wasn’t necessary I nodded in agreement, wanting to get this over and done with. I didn’t care much for Felipe, not after the way he treated my mom, but I would do this for her, regardless of the fact that if anyone found out this was a cover up, a little mission, then I would meet the true death for pledging fealty and then spying on him.
Rising from the bed, Bubba finished putting his things away before he led the way out of the room, down one of the long corridors to a marble set of stairs. I shuddered at how similar Felipe’s palace was to mom’s business, and my intuition was telling me the décor was no coincidence. Together we moved down the flight of stairs, which bent at a right angle to the left when we reached the bottom. Dropping down another flight of stairs we found ourselves in what looked to be a living room, though it wasn’t as formal as I guessed some of the others would be. The room was of course made out of marble, and I silently laughed over the fact that mom hated marble and this poor fool had decorated his whole palace with it. A few rugs in earthy colours were scattered over the floor to stop the cold marble from bothering the human house-help and donors that scampered about the place. In the middle of the room sat a round, glass table with two stools, one on either side. Above the table there was a chandelier, and on the table sat a brown bowl filled with fresh fruit. I took note of the figs in the arrangement.
To my left there was a cluster of bright blue chairs, a few burnt orange and blue throw cushions were on them, and they were arranged in a manner so that whoever was sitting on them could enjoy conversations with their companions easily. On the other side of the room was a beautiful, hand-carved fireplace, set back into the wall. An oil painting had been placed on the wall either side, small sideboards positioned underneath them. Before the fire the interior designers had placed a low coffee table, another brown bowl on the top of it, and on one side a blue sofa, which matched the other ones, flanked it and on the other side a burnt orange sofa flanked it. The blue was an odd colour amongst the earthy tones however I had to admit that it worked well together.
“Ah Bubba, Oscar. I hope your room is to your liking?” Felipe questioned from his spot on the burnt orange sofa. I forced a smile, pretending as if the one bed and one chest of drawers was enough for two people. It was a good thing I wasn’t staying for very long. I wanted to get in, get the information needed and then get out.
“It’s incredible, thank you.” I spoke up, dipping my head in thanks. Bubba’s smile seemed genuine, and unfortunately I had no way as to find out his current emotions. He and I hadn’t exchanged blood when we’d been healing Ata. I hadn’t exchanged with anyone come to think of it, which was probably wise as my scent was clean and I could vaguely remember hearing something about how sharp Felipe’s sense of smell was in comparison to that of other vampires.
“What can I do for you two gentlemen this evening?” He questioned, giving us his full attention as he lounged in the sofa. Gesturing to the one opposite him, Bubba and I took our seats quickly, not wanting to keep him waiting and risk annoying him.
“Oscar would like to pledge fealty to you now, Your Majesty. You would be the first vampire for him to ever pledge his fealty too.” Bubba explained, grinning at me before back at the King. I found it hilarious how Felipe was pretending to be a King when Bubba was THE King.. Of course they were Kings of different things, but I would rather be the King of rock and roll than the King of Nevada. Felipe’s eyes shifted to me, surprise evident in them for a second before he schooled his features. I used all of my control, which according to the vampire who had turned me had been extraordinarily advanced for a baby vamp, to stop myself from squirming in my seat. I was under the impression that Felipe wanted me to suffer, wanted to see me squirm. He felt like the kind of man who enjoyed others awkwardness and embarrassment.
“You have never pledged fealty before, do you understand the procedure and the consequences should the pledge be broken?” He questioned, quirking his eyebrow at me in a manner that reminded me of Eric, but wasn’t half as threatening as my Viking friends. Biting the inside of my lip with my blunt teeth to stop myself from laughing, I nodded my head.
“I understand completely, but I wish to remain here in Nevada and start a new life.” I answered. My answer was honest. I truly did wish to remain in Nevada and start a new life as part of Ata’s nest, but I would never wish to live under Felipe’s rule forever. He would need to be taken care of, and something inside of me was niggling away at me whenever I thought about that.
Crooking his hand, Felipe summoned me over to him. Rising from the sofa I moved around the coffee table to stand before him. Without needing to be told I dropped to one knee before him, bowing my head in a show of submission. Mom would be furious. “I pledge my fealty to you, King Felipe de Castro of Nevada.” I stated, wanting to keep my pledge as light as possible and not add any further fanciful promises. I wouldn’t be keeping them anyway.
For a moment Felipe was silent, and I kept my position on one knee with my head bent. Finally he bothered to speak. “I accept your pledge of fealty, Oscar Roberts, and offer my protection to you while you live in my great state. Welcome to Nevada.” His tone was flat, and I got the feeling he wasn’t too thrilled to have me living in his state. I was a newborn after all, and newborns were known for getting themselves into sticky situations. Very few made it past their first year.
Nodding in thanks, I moved from my spot on the floor, lifting my head to once again look at Felipe evenly. Moving back to the sofa I had vacated I took my seat beside Bubba. Felipe studied me for a moment before he spoke up once more. “I would have thought you would have stayed in Caesar’s Palace with my Sheriff rather than staying in a motel?” he questioned. I could see where he was going with his questioning. Although I had been young when I had been turned, and I’d only been a vampire for a few years, I was aware of how people tried to pry information from one another, how they lead their questions or worded them in an odd manner in order to cause the person they were questioning to slip up and give the game away. I was aware of the tactics because I was planning on using them with Felipe over the next few nights.
“The Sheriff kindly offered me a room within her establishment and, while it was generous of her to offer, I turned her down as she had already dealt with the issue of my Maker and I no longer wished to take up any of her time, Your Majesty.” I answered in an even tone, disliking the fact I had to be polite to this man. My human mom had a saying, one she’d told me while I’d been at college dealing with the bullies. ‘Kill ’em with kindness.’ She’d told me.
“I don’t know whether to think of your action as noble or foolish.” He tried to rile me up, but I allowed myself to recall the past few nights I had spent in the penthouse. Ari, Khai, Riei, Oeri, Egor and Agmund had all been very kind to me, accepting me easily as one of their brothers. They’d started to train me and teach me things so that I would be able to defend myself and be well versed in the ways of the vampire world. I was calling upon some of those teachings this evening. Sookie had taken to me as well, and it pleased me no end that she stood up to big and blonde when I went to tend to her after he gripped her a little tightly. Truth be told, Eric frightened me a little, but I would never let him know it and I would never show it. He struck me as the sort of vampire who found others weaknesses and used them against them for his own personal gain. Pam was an entertaining woman, one moment she seemed kind and calm and the next she was angry, throwing a tantrum and then ignoring everyone. It was enough to give anyone a hernia.
My new mom and, hopefully, my new dad, had accepted me willingly into their home and nest. Mom had even allowed me to taste her. The memory of her sweet blood, the way the flavour seemed to explode the moment it hit my tongue, made my fangs itch within my gums. I’d been loyal to her the moment she had freed me from the vampire who had turned me, but the moment she had opened her home to me, told me her secrets and then allowed me to taste her, well, I’d decided right then and there that I would protect her with my undead life. Of course by extension that meant I would protect Godric, because mom loved him and if anything were to happen to him then she would be distraught. I felt comfier around Godric than I did his Childe. He was silently powerful, gentle with his voice and understanding. It was rare to find vampires like that these days. I’d met many vampires during my brief time with the vampire who turned me and while I’d been working as a bartender. None had been as interesting as the 2000-year-old vampire my mom was bonded too. Bonding, that was another thing I was yet to learn about.
Remembering the Kings’ comment and my human mom’s words, I plastered on a smile. “It was probably a little bit of both, my King.” I accepted his criticism, not bothering to correct him. He needed to believe the story Bubba and I had invented.
Seemingly appeased with my response, and the fact I had just for all intents and purposes called myself an idiot, the king smiled, leaning over to press a button on the side of the coffee table. “I’m feeling rather hungry, and it would be rude of me not to offer either of you the chance to quench your own thirst. I have a vast collection of donors on call 24/7, from all over the world and on a huge variety of diets. I have one boy who eats nothing but lemons; his blood has an incredible tang to it.” He stated smugly as a group of donors entered the room. I could tell they were all donors due to the vast array of fang marks littering their bodies. Talk about limited self-respect. I was aware though, thanks to my brothers that turning down a donor from the King would be seen as rude, especially considering the fact I was new to the area. I was also aware of the fact that lemons were poisonous to fairies, and that with my mom being fae I would have to be careful around her. I could try this one boy though, but I would have to make sure all of his blood was out of my system before I returned home, just in case mom was in need of my blood for any reason.
“While all of your donors smell mighty good, Your Majesty, I’m afraid I’m not very hungry. I went out in search of some stray cats earlier on in the evening.” Bubba rebuffed the king, but I got the feeling he wouldn’t be reprimanded for it.
“Of course Bubba, I complete forgot about your different palate.” He offered the addled vampire a condescending smile, though I was unsure if Bubba understood how patronising it was. “You must try my lemon boy, Oscar. If you care for some privacy then you can take him up to your room for the evening?” he offered. I wasn’t sure whether to be happy about that, as I was still shy of feeding in front of others, or angered that he had insinuated that I would have sex with the donor. Yes feeding and sex went hand and hand, but I had plenty of control and men were not my preferred choice anyway, though I was open to trying new things.
“You are most kind Your Majesty. I think I may just do that.” I turned to look at the group of donors as the one who was obviously the ‘lemon boy’ stepped forward. He was of average build with light muscle definition. His chest was free of any hair and the hair atop of his head was jet black, styled to fall over half of his forehead. His jaw was sharp and his chin nicely rounded. His hazel eyes were located underneath black brows and he seemed perfectly relaxed. He looked to be no older than twenty-six and it saddened me to see him have a job as a donor. Fang marks were littered across his body though none of them were fresh. They were at least a few days old and were now starting to heal over.
Rising from my spot on the sofa I gave a nod to Bubba, knowing I would see him before dawn anyway. Turning to Felipe I bowed, hoping to appease the King before I strode out of the room, tipping my head in a summons to the donor, who scampered on after me. Making my way back through the maze of corridors with ease thanks to my vampiric memory, I stopped outside of the bedroom Felipe had given Bubba and I. Not bothering to make a huge show and dance of it I shoved the heavy doors aside, stepping inside before I gestured for the donor to follow. Shutting the doors behind us I tuned in to his heartbeat and other vital signs. His heartbeat had picked up a little but the blood flow around his body was free of any clots. He would heal quickly after I’d fed. Dropping fang, I captured his eyes with my own.
“What’s your name?” I demanded in a soft tone, remembering how I’d been told that softer tones usually worked better when glamouring someone.
“Tyler McDaniel” he answered robotically. While glamour was useful for us I hated using it, especially considering that only a few years back I had been human. The glazed over look in their eyes, they way they did anything and everything you asked of them, it sickened me. Humans were not pets, or animals, and they shouldn’t be forced to do the dirty work of vampires.
“Tyler, I want you to listen to me and listen well. I’m going to take your blood in a moment as I need to nourish myself, and then I’m going to heal all of your bite marks for you so that you won’t be scarred. Is that an acceptable trade?” I offered. I didn’t have to heal his bite marks, and it was probably wrong of me to do so, but I couldn’t just sit back and allow the young boy who looked like he could have so much potential damage his body the way he was. I would rub my blood on the wounds to heal them as much as possible. Some were already starting to scar though and those would be the hardest to fix. His head bobbed in acknowledgement and acceptance of our trade. “Now, I want you to sit on the bed and sit there silently for a few minutes for me, think you could do that please?” I asked, knowing full well he would do it anyway because of my glamour, but I wanted him to at least have the illusion that he had a choice. Nodding his head once again the young donor took a seat on the edge of the bed.
As I had left the room, and lord knows who else had entered, I removed the bug finder bottle opener from my pocket and quickly set to work checking the room. I found no bugs, much to my delight. Tucking the bottle opener back into my pocket I returned my attention to the donor on the bed. Capturing his eyes, though he was already under my glamour, I offered him a smile, which he happily returned. “Now then, I want you to whisper your answer to my questions to me, can you do that?” I asked in a whisper, hoping it would set an example. The human boy lent forward, nodding his head. “Have you overheard any of King Felipe’s private conversations over the last few weeks? If so, tell me everything.” I questioned, crouching before the boy to create a more comfortable position to question him from.
“Yes, I heard him talking to someone over the phone a week ago. I was unable to hear the person on the other end, but he was talking to a man and he was discussing a blonde woman. He didn’t give the man on the phone the woman’s name but he said that she was an important asset and that she needed to be secured. He said that his smelt good too and that he wished he bottle her scent right up in a pretty bottle and sell it to other vampires for a hefty price.” The donor answered me in a monotone voice, leaning forward as he whispered to me.
He fell silent for a moment, allowing me to think. Felipe was talking to another male over the phone, presumably a vampire, and it was Ata that he was talking about no doubt. I could only guess there were very few blonde haired women who smelt as good as my mom and who were a valuable asset too. But he’d mentioned that ‘his smelt good too’ – did the person on the other end of the phone have their own fairy!? The thought of him cashing in on my moms scent infuriated me, it was for Godric to enjoy and nobody else!
“Have you seen anything strange around the palace lately, Tyler?” I retuned to my questions, needing to find as much information as possible. I would have to glamour my questions out of the boys mind after all of this, to stop other vampires from finding out about it.
“There was lots of commotion four nights ago, apparently three vampires from out of town arrived. Felipe has put them in the special rooms but he won’t let any of us see them.” He gave me a vague answer. That wasn’t exactly a strange goings on in the palace. Felipe was entitled to guests and if he didn’t want donors to see them then that was his call.
“What do these three vampires look like?” I pressed him for more answers.
“I didn’t see them. I was in the kitchen when they arrived and they sped past us at vampire speed.” He gave me an answer, though it wasn’t the one I wanted.
Sighing in frustration, I filed the information away for later. Maybe it would be useful to mom, though I had no idea how. Realising that if I questioned the boy any further I would have a hell of a lot to glamour out of him, I decided to end our little question and answer session.
“Thank you for answering my questions Tyler, you were a tremendous help.” I thanked him, offering him another smile.
His whole face lit up, and his eyes widened in what I could only guess as surprise. “It was no problem, I enjoyed answering them for you.”
“While you were a mighty big help to me Tyler, you aren’t going to tell any other vampires, or humans, or anyone for that matter, that we had this conversation. In fact, you’re going to forget all about this conversation because it’s so unimportant.” I shrugged my shoulders, laughing quietly as if we were simply sharing a joke. I’d learnt from the vampire who had turned me that body language played a part in glamouring someone too.
Tyler laughed, shrugging his own shoulders. “What conversation? We’ve only just met, never spoken to one another before.” He declared. I spent another minute ensuring that he would never utter a word to another – alive or undead – before I released him from glamour. Taking a spot behind him I reminded myself to call Ata as soon as I had finished feeding in order to fill her in on all of the information I had gathered. Tyler tipped his head sideways in offering and I struck, sinking my fangs into the creamy skin of his neck.
The moment his blood hit my tongue I knew something was wrong. The sour taste of the lemon felt like silver to my mouth and I cried out in pain at the sensation, but not before accidentally swallowing a mouthful, which continued to burn as it slid down my throat. Although I had no need to breath I gasped, withdrawing my fangs from the boys neck as I struggled to inhale. My hands flew to my throat, which I clutched at as red tears streaming down my cheeks from the pain of the burns. I felt a little light-headed, and it wasn’t seconds later before everything went black, and all I was left with was the feel of the burn as it crept further into my system, consuming me.
I hadn’t always enjoyed being a vampire. My human life had been troubled with the media always cramming for my attention. The moment I had opened my eyes as a member of the undead community I knew I would be hiding for the rest of eternity. I was grateful for the gift I had been given, there was so much I still wanted to do and see, but I would have to rely on my glamour to get myself wherever I wanted without suspicion. Humans were still fond of my music, and me, and it would most likely be another 100 years or so before they started to forget about me.
Something hadn’t quite worked during my turning and I had been left, as some would call it, as somewhat simple. My brain was like that of vampires though. I could think through things quicker than humans, come up with various strategies and plans, and my thought process was very much vampiric. I was just unable to convey those thoughts properly when communicating with others, and for that reason people assumed I was addled. There was also the issue of taking commands.
Although my Maker had been a fan, which was the reason he had turned me, he had also wished to control me, thinking it would be something to show off about if he could control someone who had once taken the spotlight. He had used fear tactics to get me to comply, commanding me whenever I proved to be too difficult for him. It was why, after he had been staked in a fight, I followed the orders of those I liked and trusted to the ‘T’, not wanting to disappoint them.
Even though I was handed around the vampires in the southern states, I returned to Vegas every now and then to see Ata. She’d been a good friend during my human years and her friendship had continued through my turning and my undead life. She’d been kind to me, understanding and accepting. It was hard to find people like that in the world today, but Ata had come from a different time and place, so her morals were completely different. I’d spent some time in Louisiana over the years, as it was one of the states I was handed to on a regular basis, and yet I had never met Sookie before. I had come across Eric; he was a Sheriff and somewhat imposing. I’d had to check in with him whenever I’d been passing through his area but never had I met Sookie. He had never mentioned her either. I liked her though. She was sweet and her Southern manners were very endearing. I’d noticed from time to time that she seemed to want to ask me about my human years, and the few times I had spoken I had heard her heartbeat increase and noticed her clamping her lips shut to stop a squeal or some other feminine sound. I disliked talking about my human years with most people. I wanted to move past it and live my life as an immortal, but sometimes a sense of nostalgia would take me over and I would want to remember. It was what had spurred me to offer to sing Ata down the aisle – it had been so long since I had last sung and I wanted Ata’s day to be special for her, as a thank you for all of her support over the years.
Now that Oscar was away feeding for the evening I was able to ask more questions. I’d known he wouldn’t utter a word in front of the baby vampire, because baby vampires weren’t be to trusted due to their will to survive. They would say and do anything in order to make it past their first few years, so the less they knew about vampire politics the better. “The party you threw the other night was mighty good, my King. I’m just sorry I missed the second half. ” I complimented, knowing that monarchs liked to have their egos stroked.
“Yes, wherever did you run off to Bubba?” The Kings’ eyes swung to me. I decided to stick reasonably close to the truth, so that I would be able to remember every little detail should it be brought up in the future. Of course being a vampire meant I had perfect memory, but when dealing with Kings, Sheriffs and power struggles I didn’t wish to rely solely on it.
Remembering the way Ata had looked on the table in the living area of her home, how pale and gaunt she’d been, the convulsing from the poisoning, it sent a wave of sadness over me. Dropping my head a little I felt no need to act like I was upset. I truly was upset that the vampire before me had hurt her and then feigned innocence. “I heard some gossip that Miss Ata was feeling sick and went home, I went over to her house to check on her.” I responded, deciding it was as close to the truth as I was going to dare to get. Thankfully Felipe hadn’t witnessed me vamping out of his home after Ari.
“Ah yes, Miss Caesar.” Felipe’s top lip curled in the most unattractive manner as he leered. Lifting my gaze to capture his lips, so the software back in the penthouse would be able to read him, I waited for him to continue. “Who knew iron was so toxic to fairies eh? She’s such a beauty, but wasted on that slave boy. I could give her Nevada you know, make her my Queen, have her rule beside me, and yet she turns me down for an ancient fool.” He tutted. “She’ll soon be mine though.” A private smile moved across his features and I couldn’t stop myself from shivering at the look in his eyes. I’d seen that look before, when my Priscilla and I had been divorcing. Her lawyer had flounced into the courtroom wearing a smile exactly like Felipe’s, and then he’d smacked me with $725,000 to pay right away in cash to my Priscilla. I had loved her though so I had paid it with no qualms, but it was the way her lawyer went about it that Felipe reminded me of. It was predatory; it was the look of a man who was indulging himself, who knew he would win. I would have to let Ata know as soon as possible.
What I also found interesting was the way Felipe mentioned the iron when I hadn’t. The only way he would have known was if he was involved, confirming the suspicions of the nest back at Caesars Palace. “Miss Ata is happy with Mr. Godric. Aren’t you happy for them?” I asked, feigning innocence. I wanted to keep him talking, to find out exactly how he felt. Maybe he would let something slip, thinking I wouldn’t go back and tell Ata.
“It’s nice that she is happy, but she should be happy with me. She is an extraordinary woman and her telepathy makes her a valuable asset.” The King shrugged the question off.
“Now which little blonde telepath are we talking about, Caesar or Stackhouse?” A voice I was more than familiar with broke through the room. Containing my surprise I kept my face void of emotion but I turned to look at our guest. Russell Edgington. He was supposed to be dead; I’d heard that he had met the true death. The former King of Mississippi had opened his home to me the few times I had visited his state, and Talbot had taken great pride in showing me around their home every time, letting me see the new antiques they had picked up, or stolen, from their travels around the globe. I realised then that Russell was aware of Sookie, and was most likely aware of the fact she was in Felipe’s state.
“Miss Caesar, but we can discuss Miss Stackhouse if you’d prefer?” Felipe offered with a small smirk as a dark haired vampire entered the room, his fangs down as he growled at the king.
“Sookeh is mine.” He stated fiercely; his dark eyes pinned on the King. He was dressed in a well-tailored suit and, without even having to be introduced to him I was well aware that this was the new King of Louisiana, one of the vampires who was trying to break up Eric and Sookie.
“I do believe Miss Stackhouse is Northman’s though, William.” Russell brushed off the younger vampires aggression, moving across the room to take the seat beside me. “Ah Bubba, it has been far too long. What brings you to the great state of Nevada?” The 3000-year-old vampire questioned me. Gulping, though there was no need for it, I answered his question.
“King Felipe threw a party a few nights ago, I came to the state to attend. I was in Arkansas though, that place is mighty low on cats. It was hard to find myself a decent dinner.” I lied. Although I had come to the state for the party, my main reason to visit had been to see Ata. We usually met one another once or twice every year for a few days, so that we could catch up and exchange information. I kept tabs on the southern states and their political on goings for her, and she in turn kept tabs on the wild goose chase the people of Nevada had in trying to find me. There were so many conspiracy theories going around thanks to my ignorance when I had been a newborn. I had allowed myself to be seen out in public for a short while and now Nevada was usually teeming with tourists trying to find me. Ata kept an eye on it though, and even swopped in to glamour a few humans should they become close to uncovering the truth about my turning. I deemed it a fair trade.
The dark haired vampire who I now knew was called William was still loitering, unable to sit down. “Compton, will you sit already?” Russell ordered, and like an obedient dog William took a seat on the sofa beside Felipe.
“Who is this Miss Stackhouse?” I questioned in a quiet voice, lacing my tone with curiosity. I wanted to see what sort of answer I would get from the vampires present, and I had to pretend like I had no idea who they were nattering about.
“Miss Stackhouse is a delicious little faery, Bubba. She’s like sunshine, so sweet to the taste, wrapped in a wonderful fiery package. Her blood lets us walk in the sunshine. Have you ever tasted a faery?” Russell lent towards me, as if he were revealing some huge secret. I was well aware of Sookie’s heritage, and her connection to Ata, and I was even aware of the fact faery blood could allow a vampire to day walk. On my first birthday as a vampire, and subsequently every decade since, Ata had allowed me to take some of her blood from a generous sized donor bag so that I would be able to watch the sunrise a few times. It was her birthday present to me every ten years.
“They can really let you day walk?” I faked a gasp, widening my eyes as I lent forward too. “I’ve never tasted one, will you let me taste one?” I all but begged, knowing I would have to play stupid and abide by their rules.
A smile flickered across Russell’s features, and something told me he had already tasted Sookie before and now had a thing for her blood. “I’ll let you have a few drops of Miss Stackhouse when we capture her.” He promised me with a wink. I had to stop myself from growling at the thought of them taking her away from Eric. Eric was older than Felipe and William, but he was nothing compared to Russell. Not even Godric was as old as Russell.
“Sookeh is mine, you cannot offer her blood to others!” William spat, going to stand up. Felipe’s restraining arm pulled him back down however and I turned my eyes to him, capturing his face in my line of sight so that the lip reading software could work its magic. “Sookeh is mine, and I will not allow anyone else to have her blood. Find your own faery.” He hissed at both Felipe and Russell, who chortled at the ‘bravery’ of William. Even I knew that they could take Sookie from him, if she were his in the first place for that matter, without even having to ask him. There was a pecking order in the vampire world, and William was low down on it. Turning my eyes back to Russell, as I sensed he was about to speak, I felt dread creep over me.
“You can have Miss Stackhouse, Bill. It is Northman I want. He will meet the true death for ending my Talbot. You know he killed him simply because he missed his mummy and daddy?” Russell snorted, shaking his head. So that was why Russell was after Eric and Sookie! It seemed fair to me. Russell took Eric’s family so Eric took Russell’s. “We will have to take out his Maker though first. You know Miss Caesar don’t you Bubba? You could join her little ‘nest’ and find out about her relationship with the Gaul.” Russell observed me for a moment, and I made sure I gave no outwards sign of my friendship with Ata, nor my anger that he wanted to try and kill Godric.
“The Gaul is mine, he will die by my hands. Ata will be my Queen, and with the slave out of the way she will have no one to hide behind.” Felipe thankfully broke in before I could answer, sparing me from having to get out of a sticky situation.
Sighing, Russell rolled his eyes. “All of this male posturing is ridiculous. Fine, you can kill the Gaul, but I want first taste of Miss Caesar in order to see how she compares to Miss Stackhouse. I tried to get my hands on her 2000 years ago but she evaded me. I had to kill her mother in a hope she would fall into despair and Egypt would be weak enough for the taking. Unfortunately the little bitch turned Egypt into a grand powerhouse once again before she fled the country with her four bodyguards.” He shook his head. I had to think for a moment as to the identities of Ata’s bodyguards, and then I realised he was discussing Ari, Khai, Egor and Agmund.
“Her vampire children.” Felipe offered, causing all of us to turn and look at him. I frowned at his words. Ata had no children of her own, she’d told me that she’d never given birth, and the only vampires that were 2000 years old that she lived with were the ones I had reeled off in my head moments before. There was no way they were…
“Are you implying that she is their Maker?” Bill quirked an eyebrow as he observed Felipe, clearly thinking the monarch as delusional.
“I’m not implying, Compton. I’m stating it. I went to arrest Ari as he threw me across my own hallway during my party the other night as I tended to Ata’s sickness and we ended up having a little disagreement in the lobby. She let slip that those vampires are her children, that she used ancient dark blood magic to make it happen. She then went on to command Ari to never set foot in this palace with me or any of my guards.” Felipe corrected the dark haired vampire. This was all new to me. Why hadn’t Ata told me before of her connection to the vampires she lived with? Were Egor and Agmund her vampire children too? My head was swimming with questions for her for the next time we spoke.
“Well that could prove an issue. Perhaps we can force her to release them, that way we won’t have to bother worrying about them. We can threaten Nervii, I have a feeling she’ll do anything for him.” Russell’s lips slid into a smirk, and I found myself sinking back into the sofa. This wasn’t a conversation I really wanted to be a part of.
“Have my Were’s reported back to you yet regarding their little mission?” Russell questioned Felipe, even aiming the question to Bill as if he might know something.
“Ata informed me during our heated debate that all of them are in the city morgue.” Felipe solemnly replied.
“She killed them?” Russell asked quietly, though I could hear the tension in his voice. Felipe could do nothing but nod his head. “That bitch!” He screamed, letting his anger get the better of him. “I want you to keep sending waves of wolves towards Caesars Palace at sunrise and just before nightfall, so that she’ll be taken right before those waste of space vampires of can do anything about it. They’ll be awake and powerless to help her. I want them vulnerable and worried for her. Tell the Were’s I want Stackhouse too. You are to bring both of them to me!” He ordered, rising to his feet to pace the room.
“Sookeh is mine, do not bring her into this!” Bill’s southern accent was starting to claw at my brain, and I wondered how much asphyxiation it would take to silence him. The three vampires seemed to have forgotten about me, and I was more than happy to remain silent and observe the scene. They all probably thought me too stupid and addled to understand their conversations, let alone betray them. I wasn’t loyal to any of them though. I was only loyal to the woman who owned Caesars Palace, as she’d been the only person I had ever met who had never once said anything bad about me.
“I want them all into this. Northman killed my Talbot and Stackhouse dumped him down the drain. They are both accountable for their actions. You are lucky that I’ve been so forgiving of you Bill, for we are of the same blood. You are my great-great-grandchilde and I am grateful that you dug me out of that concrete hell, but if you continue to push your luck I will have no concerns with staking you where you sit.” Russell’s eyes held no room for argument, and thankfully Bill fell silent, obviously taking onboard the warning. I had to hold back my shock. Bill was a descendant of Russell; they were of the same bloodline. Sookie and Eric needed to know this right away. Russell would be able to command Bill to do anything he wished. That was another vampire secret – we could command any below us in our bloodline.
“I will continue to send Were’s after them, Russell.” Felipe agreed, dipping his head in a show of submission to the older vampire male. A slow smile slipped across Russell’s lips, as he took in Felipe’s submission, obviously pleased that someone else would be doing the dirty work for him.
“Good. They won’t get away with everything they have ever done to any of us. You will have Stackhouse as yours, Compton, and you will have Caesar for yourself Felipe. I will take down Northman and Nervii is yours to end, Felipe.” The expression the King of Nevada had worn earlier slid effortlessly onto Russell’s face, and I was startled by the similarity as he turned to look at Felipe. “I want Northman, Nervii, Stackhouse and Caesar brought here as soon as possible, by any means necessary. Do not damage them in transit; we will have our fun with them. As your Maker, I command you.” He ordered. If my blood weren’t already cold then it certainly would have been now.
Russell was Felipe’s Maker, and the great-great grandsire of Bill. Ata and Sookie needed to know this, right now.
“Now, where is my other Childe? He said he would be down in a moment, and I’m sure he would love nothing more than to plot against Caesar and her little crew.” Russell’s lips turned into a sinister smile as he retook his seat on the sofa beside me. I had a feeling, deep down inside my gut, which my momma had always told me to trust in, that I wasn’t going to like whoever was about to walk though those doors, and that he’d be very bad news for the nest at Caesars Palace.