“You are the woman that I’ve always dreamed of,
I knew it from the start.
I saw your face and that’s the last I’ve seen of my heart.” – “You are the Woman”, Firefall
“You can do this Tara,” I whispered to myself as I put the finishing touches on my make-up. I wasn’t normally the type to put make-up on, but hopefully the sky-blue lipstick and eye shadow would endow me with more confidence. I’d also garbed myself in a knee-length blue cocktail dress off the clearance rack at Macy’s that the saleswoman assured me would go well with my brown skin.
After Sookie moved out of her Gran’s house, she cajoled me into moving in by pointing out that Jason had his own place, and Gran always viewed me as family. So, I’d cancelled the lease on the crappy studio I’d been renting on Main Street, packed my bags (which comprised of an ancient emerald green suitcase, a beloved photo album, and a vermillion gym bag I stored my toiletries in), and moved in within two hours.
My only visitors were Jason and his girlfriend Tanya on game days, my cousin Lafayette and his boyfriend Jesus, and Pam. Ever since, she’d assisted in rescuing me from the clutches of the sociopathic Franklin Mott, Pam dominated my thoughts in a disquieting way. I kept picturing what it would be like to run my hands through her silky blonde hair, and she played a starring role in my erotic dreams. While I’d known I was bisexual since I was eight, I’d automatically assumed that I would never date a woman since most of my girl crushes were on unattainable female celebrities. The only person who knew about my sexuality was Sookie, albeit accidently, and my best friend would never push me on the topic unless I brought it up first. After a quick glance in the mirror, I put on my pink kitten heels that I’d trained to walk in for a couple of weeks, unlike Pam, who could stride confidently in stilettos that doubled as razor sharp daggers.
The drive to Fangtasia was uneventful apart from a reckless driver in a scarlet Ford Mustang who ran a red light, and was unanimously honked at by the line of cars held up by him. It was a testament to my nerves, that I hadn’t cussed like a sailor. Apart from a neon pink sign, Fangtasia was the same, with the sluggish line of desperate fangbangers, and curious tourists who desperately prayed their attire would meet the approval of the bouncers. At least they weren’t likely to freeze in the humid May evening, although at least there weren’t any greedy mosquitos eager to feast on my blood.
Being on excellent terms with Pam as well as filling in for a waitress who came down with pneumonia a month back meant I could skip the line, to the consternation of the people impatiently waiting in said line. Pam had swapped out the throne her maker enjoyed laconically lounging in for a vermillion love sofa and while men and women alike vied for her favor, she appeared content to ignore them. I took a seat at the bar and ordered potato chips and a Sprite, ignoring the tantalizing cocktails, since I wanted to confess my feelings for Pam with a clear head.
I’d just finished polishing off my potato chips, when Pam’s cerulean eyes met mine. The blonde vampire simultaneously lifted herself off the love seat and gestured for me to follow her. I ignored the vitriolic glares the other patrons trained on us as we walked into what was Eric’s old office. While the mahogany desk and chair were the same, Pam opted to install a glass cabinet containing pairs of expensive designer shoes (under lock and key of course, so a hapless human didn’t attempt to steal them) in order to flaunt both her wealth and her sense of fashion.
“So, what exactly did you come all the way out here to talk about Tara?” Pam inquired. “If you’re looking for a second job, you’ll have to wait until we hit our busy season.”
“It’s not about a potential job,” I replied, barely cajoling my voice to remain steady in spite of the butterflies flapping vigorously in my chest. “It’s about something else. We’ve hung out a lot lately, and I feel like there’s something developing between us and it sure as hell ain’t friendship. And I was just wondering if you felt the same way? If you don’t, that’s ok, we can still be friends, and you can forget I ever brought this up.”
Pam froze like a marble statue at one of those art museums, and I ascertained that I’d achieved the impossible by rendering the normally verbose vampire speechless. Just as I was about to assume her lack of a response meant “no” and leave, Pam spoke. “I’ve always felt drawn towards you Tara, but I wasn’t sure if you were attracted towards women. Besides, Dear Abby advised that it’s not appropriate to be pushy with sexual abuse survivors.”
“Fuck Dear Abby!” I exclaimed before leaping onto Pam’s desk and embracing her. Pam lowered her head, and after some awkward movements, our lips met. Fireworks exploded in my head, and my heart soared like a bird released from its cage. This was better than my brief fling with Sam, and reassured me I could enjoy sexual intimacy in spite of the abuse Franklin Mott inflicted on me.
When we finally parted, Pam grabbed the telephone, and dialed a number. “Can we close the bar a little early Chow? I’ve got some personal business to take care of. Give some discounts to customers if that’s what it takes to clear out everyone. All right, we’ll close at twelve a.m. instead of two a.m. Stop admitting people at eleven p.m.”
“You didn’t have to do that for me,” I said.
Pam shrugged. “We don’t get that many customers in those hours anyways. Do you want to stay here, or head down to our dungeon? We’ve got rare toys if you’re interested.”
“Here’s fine,” I replied, and Pam appeared perfectly content to pick up where we left off.
The night I’d spent with Tara was perfect, although I’d worn practical sky-blue panties instead the cheap, risqué thongs I usually donned for sex. Since they weren’t designer, I relished times when one of my more enthusiastic fuck buddies ripped them to shreds. This was different from my usual liaisons in that the removal of clothing was gradual, like the raising of a curtain for a play. I’d grinned when I’d taken in Tara’s matching violet bra and thong set. For someone who assumed that she’d be rejected, my new girlfriend was surprisingly optimistic. She’d also chuckled when I suggested that there must be something in the water in her shithole hometown of Bon Temps to produce so many supes.
In my explorations, I’d also discovered that Tara relished having the inner parts of her thighs kissed slowly and reverently. In spite of her lack of experience with women, Tara’s hands touched and teased my clit and pussy as skillfully as any musician with an instrument. For someone who enjoyed the “sins of the flesh” so to speak, I surprised myself by spending hours snuggling and conversing with my new girlfriend. My last recollection before dying for the day was of Tara gently kissing my forehead and promising to return on Saturday after she completed her shift at Merlotte’s.
I rose for the night with some reluctance as I’d been savoring an impossible dream of screwing Tara in broad daylight, but since I wished to prove the naysayers who objected when Eric appointed me as Sheriff of Area, there was no rest for the wicked. After a quick trip to my luxurious house to change my outfit, and refresh my make-up, I read over several petitions regarding disputes occurring my area that were too small time for the Magister to be concerned with, and conversed with Chow about my plans for launching a website to sell authorized Fangtasia merchandise. While we offered the cliché post cards, T-shirts, coasters, and shot glasses typical of most gift shops, it was the Fangtasia jewelry shaped like vampire fangs that enthralled the vermin.
I was just preparing to open the bar, when Andre’s silver BMW vroomed into the parking lot at inhuman speed. I groaned inwardly, recognizing that the arrival of Andre meant that tonight would be anything but normal.
In the past two and half years since my maker Sophie-Anne’s tragic demise, I’d discovered how one’s perception of the world could be radically altered via something as miniscule as a butterfly flapping its wings. I’d reluctantly agreed to attend a cocktail party hosted by Pamela as a publicity stunt for Fangtasia last year, when I literally ran into a tall, redhead who was working as a temporary waitress for the event.
After reassuring her that I wasn’t upset by an honest mistake, she introduced herself as Jessica, and agreed to meet me after the party. We talked and I was flabbergasted to uncover that a mere human could possess similar in life experiences to myself. We both struggled with abusive parents, and were determined to make our own way in the world.
We didn’t spend a lot of time together since Jessica was still in college, working towards a Bachelor’s in English, but what little time we shared was as sweet as honey. Normally, we didn’t meet on school nights, but Jessica cajoled me into fact checking her History essay on the antebellum South to ensure she hadn’t made any mistakes. When I parked my car in the student lot behind Jessica’s dorm building, I noticed that it seemed bereft of other vehicles. This was bizarre to have fewer cars here, especially with final exams taking place within a couple of weeks. My senses kicked into overdrive as I swiftly entered the eggshell white cinderblock building. Suspiciously, I ran into to no other students, not even any study groups quizzing each other for an upcoming test. The door to Jessica’s room was wide open, and as I stood on the threshold, I heard a familiar voice cry out.
“Andre? Is that you?” my girlfriend yelled; her voice tinged with desperation.
I darted into the room, and my eyes observed the macabre sight of my girlfriend sitting on the floor, with massive bruises embossed on every single inch of her pale skin. She was also clutching her right ankle as though were broken which explained why she didn’t run for help. Judging from the redness around her eyes, Jessica had been crying. “Who did this to you?” I demanded, vowing revenge on whoever harmed her.
Jessica took in a deep breath, and exhaled in a whoosh. “I don’t know who it was, except that he was a vampire, and he said that this was a message for Eric Northman and Sookie Stackhouse, and until Sookie took her rightful place by his side.”
“Can you tell me what he looked like sweet?” I queried gently, because while I despised distressing Jessica further, I required a detailed description to relay to Pamela in case this nefarious cad was known to her maker.
“He had dirty blonde hair and blue eyes, and the scariest part was he attacked me during in the middle of the day. I’m not an expert on vampire, but I’m one hundred percent certain they can’t hang out in ….”
“Was there anyone else present?” I asked.
Jessica shook her head. “Everyone else was in classes. I only came back to the dorm, because I had a stomach ache.”
“Do you want me to call campus security?” I inquired, even though I instinctively recognized this way above campus security’s paygrade to handle.
In spite of her terror, Jessica shook her head. “No, I just need your assistance in hobbling over to the campus doctor.”
“Fine, but after that, we need to inform Pamela about this.” While Jessica knew about the Sheriff of Area Five, they’d never conversed one on one. Hopefully, Pamela wasn’t too busy to handle this, and she’d be willing to inform her maker of this bizarre scenario.
Boom! My eyes flew open as I was startled from the doze I’d embarrassingly slipped into after sex. Thankfully, Godric was fairly blasé about my odd half-vampire traits. If someone informed me that I would be involved with the vampire who I briefly encountered over the corpse of a human, and who killed my greatest adversary, Appius Livius Ocella, I would have laughed. I opted to leap into the abyss of a potential relationship two and half years ago, thanks to my descendant Sookie Stackhouse, and things couldn’t be better. Godric had recently floated the idea of us pledging, which I was still mulling over. Well apart, from being disturbed in the midst of a satisfying afterglow.
“Could you get the door, and see who’s bothering us?” I requested.
Godric nodded and after pulling on a pair of briefs and his scarlet pajama bottoms, zipped over to the door, which opened with a loud squeak. Sookie was standing on the other side in an emerald green pantsuit, clearly apprehensive about walking in on her relative in an awkward position.
“I’m sorry to interrupt y’all, but we just received an urgent message from Pam, and Eric thought y’all should be present to hear her report,” she explained.
“Thank you for informing us Sookie,” Godric replied politely. “Tell Eric we’ll be there in a few minutes.”
“Yeah, sure.” Sookie scampered out of the room and slammed the door behind her. As aggravating as the interruption was, it was amusing to view my confident descendant behaving like an anxious teenager.
“So, why exactly is your child summoning us?” I asked my mate as I dressed in a turquoise knee length skirt and sky-blue blouse. While we both acted as advisors to King Eric, he only consulted us on serious matters, and handled most of the day to day running of the kingdom of Louisiana on his own or with assistance from his sheriffs.
Godric glanced up after he’d completed buttoning his white shirt. “I’m not sure, but I’d guess that it may concern Sookie.”
In spite of the fact that Eric didn’t need to involve me in matters pertaining to my descendant since she was his consort, child, and mate, he permitted me to voice my opinions. My advice wasn’t always followed, but it was gratifying to be listened to nonetheless. This was a sharp contrast to Niall when I was married to Fintan, who made it clear that my only purpose was to give Fintan and by extension the royal fairy family heirs.
The meeting occurred in a small parlor containing a couch, a love seat and several elegant chairs upholstered with crimson fabric. That we were meeting in here, instead of the ostentatious throne room, indicating that Eric wished to keep things discreet. Claudine sat on the love seat with one arm around her husband Trey and the other clutching her very pregnant belly. Their presence was even more bizarre since Eric tolerated them both for Sookie’s sake, and due to Trey’s tech skills.
His laptop sat on a dark mahogany coffee table, plugged in to a projector, which showed not only Eric’s child Pamela, but Andre and a long-limbed red-haired woman I didn’t recognize. The notion that Andre was involved with a human was a shocking one, since while he refrained from murdering them wholesale, he’d always voiced the opinion that vampires were superior.
“Would you mind explaining what happened again?” Eric said, his tone surprisingly compassionate.
“My girlfriend Jessica was attacked by a vampire who possesses the ability to walk in daylight,” Andre replied. “He demanded that we yield Sookie to him or else he would annihilate us all.”
“I thought vampires able to walk in daylight was just an old wives’ tale,” I said. “The closest you could get was if a vampire drained a fairy, but even that would wear off eventually.”
I met Claudine’s hazel eyes and she nodded in agreement. We might not be close due to the Mab incident, but we both felt it was our duty to protect Sookie.
“Are you any of you familiar with the story of Lilith?” Godric inquired.
“Only that she was the original vampire and her own child killed her by exposing her to sunlight,” Andre declared.
“But happened to the child?” Trey asked.
“We always assumed the child perished since vampires can’t survive in the sun,” Godric replied. “Well except Valeria, but she’s a damphyr.”
“Maybe, he was a full-blooded fairy before he was turned,” Claudine suggested. “Although, I’m not sure how Lilith would be able to control herself long enough to turn him.”
“If she was the first vampire then feats that would be impossible for other vampires to achieve might well have been child’s play for her,” Eric replied.
“So, what exactly do you intend to do about this dilemma?” Pamela queried.
“We’re not handing Sookie over,” Eric declared firmly, his blue eyes steeling with determination.
“I know that,” Pamela countered. “But how do you intend to deal with Warlow? Depending on his age, he might be difficult for you to vanquish even with Godric’s assistance.”
“Excuse me,” Sandra Pelt interjected, as she entered the room. “But there’s an elderly fairy who insists he must speak with you.”
Sandra and her husband agreed to relocate along with their child in order to serve as guards for the royal household. While some of Sophie-Anne’s guards willingly pledged fealty to Eric, he didn’t entirely trust them, and wanted outside specialists who were loyal either to him or Sookie. In addition, Diantha was hired at both my and Desmond’s recommendation since demons for the most part could efficiently fend off vampires without straining themselves.
“Please send him in,” Sookie instructed, ignoring my pleading.
Sandra departed to follow Sookie’s command, and soon re-entered with Niall, who was for once, dressed casually in tan pants, and a blue plaid button-up short sleeve shirt. Niall ignored my dagger sharp glare and focused on Sookie.
“I’ve come to inform you of a terrible threat to your safety,” he intoned dramatically.
“You’re a little late with your prophesy seeing as Warlow’s already attacked,” I snarked. “It’s odd you never mentioned him before now.”
Instead of retorting to my well-placed barb, Niall nodded in acceptance. “I foolishly believed that I would be able to destroy Warlow before he ever threatened Sookie. Unfortunately, his sense of smell in far too keen and he’s always managed to flee before I could get anywhere near him.”
“And why exactly is Warlow obsessed with my mate?” Eric demanded; his blue eyes boring into Niall’s brown ones. Eric didn’t trust Niall anymore than I did, and his tone commanded that the fairy prince either provide an explanation behind his intrusion or leave.
“Five thousand years ago, Warlow was forcibly turned by Lilith. He returned to our village and massacred everyone in it, except myself. He views taking Sookie as ‘atonement’ for his crime.”
I’d known Niall was ancient by fairy standards, but he was far older than even I’d realized. While fairies were incredibly long lived by supernatural standards, they weren’t immortal. That combined with frequent wars amongst themselves meant most fairies considered it a blessing to reach one millennia, never mind five.
“So how are we supposed to defeat him if he will anticipate most of our moves?” Andre inquired, speaking for the first time.
As the red-haired vampire said this, Sookie’s gaze met Eric’s and I guessed they were mentally arguing via their bond. Finally, he nodded in resignation to whatever crazy scheme Sookie cooked up. As much as I love my descendant, she was often too eager to martyr herself for others.
“I’m willing to act as bait, but we’ll need a plan to subdue Warlow so Grandfather can finish him off. He can be slain with a stake, right?” Sookie said, with conviction as though she were merely planning a shopping trip and not putting herself in danger of being harmed by the world’s oldest vampire.
“I’ll request that Tara comb through the farmhouse and see if there might be anything useful. We’ll reconvene tomorrow night, after I close Fangtasia,” Pamela uttered.
“Make sure you avoid traveling alone and advise the other supes of Area Five to do that same,” Eric instructed. “We can’t anticipate where this Warlow will strike next.”
We broke up our meeting, since dawn wasn’t too far away, and I silently prayed to Fortuna, and Andraste that we prevailed over this Warlow person.
“When will we attack?” I demanded impatiently, as I sat in the fairy realm. Under different circumstances, say with me completely naked and Russell thrusting his massive cock into me, I’d luxuriate in this peaceful place with fragrant lavender bushes, massive deciduous trees, and honeybees sluggishly buzzing overhead. However, I was too enmeshed in my revenge fantasies to truly enjoy my time in the fairy realm.
“Patience young one,” Warlow entreated me. “We must give Sookie time to make her choice.”
I laughed at that, since it was obvious that Sookie would never willingly join Warlow. While, I normally wasn’t interested in women, I hoped that Warlow might allow me to watch him and Sookie sometimes. The thought of that bitch being dominated by the man who slaughtered her mate and her loved ones excited me greatly. It was only justice for her hand in murdering my beloved Russell. This fantasy also resulted in my opting not to meet the sun after annihilating Northman and his pathetic followers.
“You worry far too much,” Warlow said. “No being in this universe is a match for me.”
I wasn’t as confident as Warlow, and had brought Andor along with the handful of remaining members of the V-pack that prudently retreated during the battle with Northman’s forces. I hadn’t annihilated the pack for abandoning my lover, because they merely obeyed Russell’s final command to protect me in the unlikely event he was slain. Andor’s father once served the communist regime in Romania as the reigning dictator’s personal torturer. Andor was equally skilled and I planned to utilize him in breaking Sookie as long as Warlow agreed. I moaned at the thought and retreated behind a tree to ease the tightness in my pants and fantasize about our great victory.
“When you mentioned wanting to hang out more this wasn’t what I had in mind,” my cousin Lafayette quipped as we combed through the attic, searching for any clues to why this Warlow guy was obsessed with Sookie. While he’d originally been tailing Jesus, the demon nurse tired of being distracted from the all-important duty of setting wards, and sent him up here.
Unfortunately, that also gave my cousin license to nag me about not informing him about my bisexuality, and interrogate me regarding my newly formed relationship with Pam. Speaking of Pam, she, Andre, and Chow opted to die for the day in Fangtasia, and hired Alcide and his buddies to guard them. I’d also cajoled Jason into taking a sick day from his road crew job, and he and Tanya were sitting in the living room with guns ready to fend off any intruders. Although, Jason’s enthusiasm about fighting worried me, Tanya was present to ensure Jason didn’t charge recklessly into battle and get himself killed.
While I loved Gran, her reluctance to toss out anything that might come in handy someday was perturbing, especially since Sookie never got around to cleaning out the attic after her grandmother passed. There were defective pieces of furniture that were in too poor condition for Gran to donate, countless knickknacks that possibly possessed sentimental value, and a complete collection of the Beatles albums and singles all on vinyl records that had long since warped. At least Jessica chipped in after completing her assignments for her classes online.
“And I thought my Mom was the worst pack rat,” Jessica said as she stacked old Sears catalogs. “She even kept all of Eve’s and my baby teeth in a glass case in our family room.”
“Compared to my Mom remaining convinced that my boyfriend is the actual Messiah instead of having a common Spanish name, that sounds normal,” Lafayette replied, and somehow, we spent the next two minutes swapping stories about crazy shit our parents did.
“Fuck! At this rate we’ll be up here cleaning until Christmas,” I grumbled, on the verge of dragging Jason up here, since the odds of him winning a fight against this Warlow guy’s allies were miniscule.
“Hey. I think I found something.” My cousin poked me in the shoulder, while simultaneously holding an old-fashioned cookie tin.
“Yeah, it’s probably Gran’s secret biscuit recipe,” I replied.
“I’m not messing with you, coz. I mean, can’t you feel the hum of energy emanating from this thing?”
Now that Lafayette mentioned it, there was a whiff of something that reminded me of sunflowers. According to Jesus, some humans possessed an innate potential to perform magic. These people were referred to as witches, and often sold their services in the Supe world for a price. The idea that I possessed the potential to perform magic was extremely disconcerting, but at least my cousin being able to sense this meant I wasn’t going crazy.
“I don’t feel anything,” Jessica interjected. “But you should probably open that tin and see what’s inside.”
For an old tin, the lid was surprisingly easy to pry open. An elegant piece of paper lay inside, and appeared to be wreathed in golden light. Gingerly, I pulled it out of the tin, and began to read aloud.
“I, John Stackhouse, firstborn child of Drusilla Brigant and Brandon Stackhouse, pledge that the first female descendant of my bloodline to display the essential spark will be betrothed and married to Warlow of the bloodline of Lilith. Written and Signed on August the twenty second eighteen hundred and six.”
“Yuck!” Lafayette said, voicing my own thoughts. “I know things were different back then, but this is just gross! Why the hell would Sookie’s ancestor agree to something like this?”
“We don’t know the full story,” Jessica pointed out. “Maybe this Warlow guy threatened John Stackhouse’s loved ones unless he signed this contract.”
“What I’d like to know is if there will be consequences for ignoring this contract if there is something magical about it,” I uttered. “And while we’re at it, let’s go downstairs and bring Jason and Tanya up to speed on this contract thing since it affects them too.”
Hopefully, we could dissuade Jason from recklessly challenging Warlow to a duel when we explained the contract we’d uncovered.
“Did you know about this contract?” Valeria demanded, glaring daggers at Niall. At least, she refrained from tearing out his throat. While my ancestor was justified in her hatred of Niall, given his discriminatory behavior towards her in the past, he was our best source on fairy contracts. We couldn’t afford to provoke him into departing back into his isolation.
“No,” Niall replied. “If I’d known about this contract, I would have dissolved it.”
“And dissolving it won’t kill Sookie?” Eric demanded. Under different circumstances, I’d be ecstatic to view Valeria and Eric in agreement about something since they normally merely tolerated each other for both my and Godric’s sakes. However, their paranoia regarding Niall’s intentions was perturbing.
Niall shook his head. “The contract only allows Warlow to track John Stackhouse’s descendants. It won’t harm Sookie if it was destroyed.”
An idea formulated in my head. I just needed to persuade Valeria and Eric that it was necessary. “Could we utilize the contract to draw Warlow out?”
“No!” Eric and Valeria yelled in unison.
“Using me as bait is the only way to ensure we face Warlow in a scenario of our choosing,” I explained. “Otherwise, he’ll abduct me whenever he’s ready to and we’ll be too caught off guard to prevent it.”
I met both their stares with determination, attempting to appear more confident than I felt. However, I refused to hide and cower in fear just because some all-powerful vampire coveted me. Finally, Eric muttered something under his breath about reckless fairies who constantly put their lives in jeopardy. Through our maker-child bond, I sensed that he would yield to my suggestion, but he clearly wasn’t pleased about it.
“Fine, we’ll do things your way,” Eric conceded. “However, I insist that you include Diantha Cataliades in your back-up group that will attack Warlow once the trap is sprung.”
I nodded in agreement, grateful that Eric and I were able collaborate efficiently, and settle arguments amicably, so we didn’t appear weak to our enemies.
“Just for the record, I vote against enacting your plan,” Valeria said, her face tinged with concern for my wellbeing.
“Your opinion has been noted,” I replied. “But this is the only way to vanquish Warlow.”
Valeria admitted defeat, and we spent the next few hours debating strategy. Selecting the bodyguards and allies to comprise our attack force was the easy part. Unfortunately, concealing them from Warlow so he wouldn’t realize our meeting was a trap and flee was frustrating.
“There is a place where your forces might gather concealed,” Niall said. “It is a bar owned by my grandson Claude, and is concealed unless you know its location. I will also ensure that any full-blooded fairies who are present can mask their scents.”
“Thank you,” I uttered in gratitude, although a part of me seethed that he’d only opted to reveal this fact after hours of arguing. While I understood now why Valeria detested Niall, we required him to persuade Claude to permit us to utilize his bar as a potential battle field. Moreover, I vowed to reimburse Claude for any damages incurred to his property during said battle.
After we ended the meeting, Claudine embraced me tightly. It was easy to forgive her for her attempted kidnapping of me once I learned that Mab was holding her boyfriend Trey hostage. “Be careful out facing Warlow Sookie,” she cautioned. “Not only is he one of the most powerful beings in existence, but he’s adept at concealing himself. If he succeeds in kidnapping you, it will be nearly impossible to locate either of you. I’d accompany you, if I weren’t pregnant.”
I silently prayed to God that Claudine didn’t go into labor while we were gone, as that would be cruel to Trey. “Claudine, can I ask you something?” I queried cautiously.
Claudine’s brown eyes sparkled mischievously. “You just did, although if you’re wondering why Trey and I aren’t married, it’s because we technically need permission from Niall as the head of our family. I’m planning to cajole him into sanctioning it once my children are born.”
“I’m surprised he hasn’t complained that I didn’t seek permission to marry Eric,” I said.
“Probably, because your transformation into a vampire ended his control over you,” Claudine replied.
“If it would help, I’ll tell him I wholeheartedly support your petition,” I declared, figuring it would both vex Niall and demonstrate my support for my cousin.
“That probably won’t be necessary,” Claudine uttered. “But thank you.”
I gently patted her shoulder and departed to coordinate with Sandra about which bodyguards would be accompanying us to the planned ambush. I also learned that Diantha Cataliades volunteered to fight alongside us, something that greatly increased our chances of victory. I drank the sight of the luxurious four poster bed I shared with Eric, even if we frequently replaced the sheets due to our destructive love making. My mate sat on the bed with his eyes closed, likely contemplating our battle plan.
When I plopped next to him and gently encircled my arms around Eric, he said, “I wish I didn’t have to put you in danger.”
“I’ve always been in danger,” I replied. “I’m just grateful that I don’t have to face it alone.”
“That’s true,” Eric said.
Without preamble, we divested ourselves of our clothing, and fucked as though this might be our last time to together, although I prayed to God that that wasn’t the case.
It was a universal truth that the most tedious part of battle was waiting for it to commence. The only thing I could do was ensure my followers were prepared for when Talbot gave the signal for us to attack. While Warlow optimistically anticipated Sookie Stackhouse willingly yielding to him, we weren’t taking any chances.
“Remember that your job is merely to clear a path for Warlow to take Sookie Stackhouse, and none of you should attempt to touch her yourselves,” I explained for the hundredth time. Although, I privately hoped that Warlow wouldn’t mind sharing his prize sometime in the future. I relished the thought of breaking her with all the tricks and skills my father taught me.
“Andor, to me!” I heard Talbot trumpet, breaking though my fantasies.
“Attack!” I yowled as I and my compatriots jumped through the portal. Sookie Stackhouse as it turned out brought both her mate, and his maker, in addition to an army comprised of werewolves, shifters, and at least one demon. I grinned, pleased that this battle would be worthy of my skills. My limbs instinctively shifted from bipedal to the furry haunches I possessed as a wolf.
As I tore my way through the enemy’s forces, I observed out of my peripheral vision that Warlow was being blocked from grabbing Sookie via both Eric Northman and his maker Godric. Moreover, Sookie herself wasn’t a slouch if the light she utilized to knock back Warlow was any indication of her talents. No matter. Soon, we would be victorious.
Suddenly, hot orange flames engulfed me, and I didn’t have time to shift back before I fell into endless darkness.
“You should have come willingly!” Warlow spat as we battled.
“I’m not chattel to be given to anyone who desires me!” I spat back. The battle was difficult, but mostly going in our favor, particularly since Diantha successfully eliminated the were alpha. However, even the combined strength of myself, Godric, and Eric didn’t appear to be enough. We were at a stalemate, and fear crystalized like ice in my chest that Warlow might successfully rip me away from my mate and my family.
Just then, I heard a familiar voice yell, “I’ve got something for you asshole,” and just barely managed to dodge a ball of fire hurled by none other than my friend Tara. It missed Warlow, but the fairy vampire then failed to check one of Godric’s blows. In no time, my mate and his maker grabbed Warlow and staked him. For several minutes he gaped in astonishment, as though he’d truly believed he was invincible. Then he dissolved into the familiar vermillion pile of goo that all vampires metamorphosized into once they were slain.
Pandemonium broke out as some of Warlow’s followers upon realizing that their leader was dead, opted to retreat and save their skins. However, there were several who defiantly battled until they were killed, and our group elected to focus on those people.
I exhaled a breath I didn’t know I was holding once the last opponent fell to the ground, and called out, “Any causalities?”
“Just two,” Sandra responded after a careful headcount. “I’ll notify their families.”
I nodded in acknowledgement, although I privately grieved for the losses of life. All I could do was remind myself that they chose to serve as guards and were aware of the risks. “Are there any prisoners?”
“Just this pathetic waste of space,” spat Pam as she dragged forward a male vampire who was probably in his mid-twenties when he was turned, and glared daggers at me with his brown eyes.
Eric had apparently finished checking himself and Godric, because now he strode forward to survey the captive. “Talbot Angelis,” he said icily. “Russell’s boy toy. I didn’t know you had it in you to fight.”
“You will pay for killing Russell! You and your fairy whore!” Talbot hissed and attempted to leap forward, only for both Andre and Valeria to relieve Pam of holding him down.
“So, you’re telling I’m a whore merely, because I refused to yield to Warlow,” I said, smiling. “You’re also conveniently forgetting that I’m as much a vampire as you are. Eric?”
“He sealed his fate when he attempted to abduct you from me,” Eric replied. “Not even Nan Flanagan could object to his life being forfeit.”
“May I carry out the sentence lover?” I requested, not because I relished executing people, but to demonstrate that I was willing to perform my duties and support my mate and maker.
Eric nodded, and gratitude emanated from his side of our bond. “You may.”
Diantha Cataliades handed me a stake, and I turned it over in my hands to ensure it was durable enough for the task. Talbot had ceased struggling and his eyes bore into me as though he didn’t believe I could stomach executing him. He was wrong, as my right hand shot forward with the stake, and Talbot exploded before my eyes.
Just then, Niall and an unfamiliar male fairy whose appearance was a male version of Claudine poofed into existence. I was beginning to suspect that my cantankerous ancestor wasn’t planning to make an appearance. “I tracked your enemies back to where they portaled from and it they aren’t planning a counter attack,” he explained. “It appears that I am in your debt for eliminating Warlow.”
“It was only to ensure my own safety,” I replied. “But if you truly wish to repay me, please permit Trey Dawson and Claudine to wed once their children are born.”
“Of course,” Niall replied. “And please know that if you ever require my assistance, just send me a message through Desmond.”
Just like that, he vanished back into nothingness, leaving the fairy I knew was Claude to stammer out apologies.
“He’s still as discourteous as ever,” Valeria said.
I shrugged. “I’m just grateful he chose to assist us, even if said assistance was minimal.”
“Ready to go home now lover?” Eric queried, his blue eyes shining with relief.
“Yes,” I uttered. “Let’s go home.”
While I’d experienced quite a few bizarre scenarios in my century as a vampire, this party was eccentric to the extreme. It was technically to celebrate both the successful birth of Claudine and Trey Dawson’s twins and their wedding. However, since Claudine was technically still recovering, neither were present. Instead, Niall and his grandchildren Drusilla, Claudette, and Claude were the guests of honor on the dais. I felt a small pang of sympathy for Valeria, who barely concealed her distaste for her former father-in-law. Sookie, in contrast, conversed with Niall with a small grin embossed on her face. At least, both my maker and Godric were content to people watch and occasionally interject if they felt they had an opinion worth expressing.
All of the full-blooded fairies could conceal their scents, and Drusilla smelled enough like a fellow vampire to not be classified as food, but we weren’t taking any chances. Diantha, Gladolia, and their uncle Desmond were strolling around as security in addition to the usual coalition of werewolves and shifters. That way we could subdue any vampires who thought with their fangs instead of their brains without the party devolving into a massive bloodbath. There was also punch bowl of Royalty blend and paid donors for vampires who desperately craved blood. Moreover, there was plenty of cocktail morsels for the non-vampires to munch on.
“Are you all right?” Tara sidled up to me with a champagne flute filled with Royalty blend. She looked gorgeous in a knee-length orange cocktail dress that flaunted her lovely curves.
“I’m fine, just away with the fairies for a while,” I replied. “Although that turn of phrase sounds awkward now that I’m aware of actual fairies.”
“It does sound a little weird,” Tara admitted. “I was actually contemplating the future. I’m still ambivalent about becoming a vampire, but I’m open to allowing you to change my mind.”
We nimbly dodged Jason and Tanya Grissom, who were dancing with a surprising degree of skill. I’d assumed that the only dances Jason was proficient in were preludes to hopping into bed with women. We stopped once we were a good distance from the group of dancers. Tara’s response caught me off guard as I was already anticipating my eventual loss of her to disease or old age. My usual perusal of Dear Abby’s advice wasn’t going to cut it. “To be fair, I’m not entirely certain I’m ready to become a maker. A few years to weigh the pros and cons would be excellent for both of us. I’m pretty sure that was what Eric and Sookie planned to do, before her fatal wounds necessitated being turned.”
I daintily sipped the Royalty blend, for once behaving like the lady my human parents yearned for me to be. Tara nodded in accord to my suggestion. We possessed plenty of time to explore all the potential paths our relationship opened up to us. As I finished off my blood, and coaxed Tara into waltzing, I viewed our future as the unspooling of an endless roll of string. And that was the greatest gift of all.