Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Lightning flashed across the sky and rain lashed against the window. In the glow of the candles, their reflection was soft and mysterious. Sookie’s hands were pressed flat against the pane and Eric noticed that each time he pressed her forward her knuckles would whiten just a bit. Her mouth was open and she turned her head, closing her eyes. “No, Lover!” he hissed. “Open your eyes! Watch me as I take you!” and his wife did as he asked. Her eyes in the window glass were dark, but he could feel her need and that supplied the missing definition. He reached beneath them, opening her lips and then leaning back so his balls could hit her clit. She made a sound and started moving faster to meet him.
“There is no rush,” he purred and he grasped her hip to control her movement. Sookie used her body to fight against his hands, pushing so hard that she would probably cause bruises, but his Sookie was made of stern stuff. If this was how she wanted things, he would feed her. “Feel me, Lover!” he told her. He pulled almost completely out of her and then massaged her back entrance with his thumb while pushing back, rising just enough to make his wife go up on her tiptoes, and then when he felt her begin to squeeze, he slapped her right cheek. Her warm, wet pussy clamped down and he moved quickly, rotating just enough to have her cry out before grabbing her hip and slowly pulling out from her again.
“Oh God, Eric!” Please, baby, please!” Sookie leaned her head down, arching her back, offering herself to him.
“And what do you want me to do?” he asked in the voice he knew she liked, dark and low.
“You know!” she panted and she looked up at him in the window’s reflection and sent her lust in a great wave.
With a snap, his fangs descended. He surged forward and then making sure his grip on her hips was secure, he stepped forward and began to move with more purpose. Sookie dropped her hand to rub her clit, relying on him to keep her from hitting the glass. “Mina!” he growled and when he felt her walls thicken, he smacked her left cheek twice more, not hard but enough to have her twitch and jerk. “Come for me, Lover!” he commanded, and as she cried out her release, he leaned over, sinking his fangs into her shoulder, the taste of her enough to trigger his own. He drove forward, grinding against her, deep but never deep enough and he allowed his thoughts to enter her as his essence entered her, making them one. He continued to stroke within her, lost, until he felt her falling forward and then he lifted her upright so that her back could lean against him, and still he stroked. He wrapped an arm under her breasts and reached between her legs, tapping her clit to prolong her orgasm. “I am yours!” he told her and he bent his head to kiss hers.
Sookie reached up to wrap her arm around his head. Eric looked up to see her reflection in the glass, her dreamy eyes and her slightly open mouth. She tugged at his hair and then rubbed her head against his shoulder. Together they watched the rain spend itself against the glass making the city lights beyond look like halos in the night.
After a bit, Eric dropped from her. He turned her toward him and picking her up bridal style, he lay her down on the chaise. With a quick motion, he covered her with her Gran’s old afghan and then lying next to her, he gathered her into his arms. “I would stay here with you until the days run to dust,” he whispered.
Sookie sighed beside him, “When we first met if anyone had told me you were such a romantic, I would have told them they were out of their mind.”
“You did not think I was romantic?” he smiled as he kissed her head.
“No!” the telepath snorted. “I thought you were a badass Sheriff with a nasty attitude. You said yourself you didn’t know what love was.”
“This is true,” Eric agreed. He laid his hand over her stomach. He seemed to do it often. “Pam would laugh at me. She told me that I could fool myself better than I fooled anyone else. It made me angry.”
“But she was right,” Sookie kissed her husband’s chest.
“That is why it made me angry,” he smiled against her hair.
Tomorrow Eric would leave for Rhodes. There had been a great deal of maneuvering, but James of Illinois had won. The King had lobbied hard for the premiere to be held in his city. Ever since the great explosion so many years ago, vampires had avoided booking any events there. James was sure that if the premiere of A Viking’s Bond, a romantic movie about a human and a vampire happened in Rhodes, it would eliminate the bad luck mark that kept so many away.
“I wish I was coming with you,” Sookie sighed again. The telepath hadn’t received the all clear from Doctor Ludwig. While the telepath had shown improvement, her readings were still not what the doctor wished, and so the ban on air travel remained in effect. “I just think about how that’s where we bonded,” Sookie ghosted her fingers down his arm until she entwined them with his own tenting their hands over her abdomen. “It would be like having an anniversary.”
“It is also the city where we were almost killed,” Eric reminded her.
Sookie laughed, “Remember when you came up the stairs? When I had that soda can bomb in my hand?”
Eric hissed, “I was very afraid for you,” he told her. “You should have handed it to me. You were so stubborn!”
“You told me you were angry we were so tightly bound!” Sookie snorted.
“I didn’t say I was angry,” Eric replied before gathering her more tightly against him.
After a bit, Sookie asked, “When did you know?” Eric could feel something from her, the lazy happiness that followed good sex, but something more.
“Know what?” Eric asked.
“When did you know you wanted me?” Sookie turned her head so she could look up at him.
“When Bill Compton brought you into my club,” Eric told her. It was an answer, just not the answer to the question Sookie was really asking.
“I know it sounds crazy, but I’ll always feel a little grateful to Bill Compton for that,” Sookie stroked Eric’s chest. For some reason, the memory of how terrible Bill was to her in the car afterward came to her mind. Sookie stilled and then made an effort to push it from her thoughts. Instead she thought of Eric as he walked in the door tonight, not saying a word as he swept her into his arms and then up the four flights of stairs to their chambers.
Beside her, Eric struggled to remain silent. He had not withdrawn from her thoughts as he should have following their lovemaking and the quick glimpse he had of her memories made him decide once and for all that he would end Bill Compton.
When he felt her fall into sleep, Eric carefully lifted Sookie and carried her across the sitting area. He pulled back the covers and slipped her into their bed. She slept more now, and slept harder, but that was to be expected. The bunny that he bought at the airport was still here lost in the blankets. Sookie had been delighted with it. She sat cross-legged on the bed, pulled up her shirt and walked the toy over her belly. She described the animal to their daughter, telling her how lucky she was to have a father who loved her so much already.
Eric slipped in next to his wife. He should have showered, but he would wait until Sookie could join him. He took the bunny into his hand, thinking to place it on the table, but instead he scooted down in the bed so his head was level with Sookie’s growing belly. It still wasn’t large, their child. Doctor Ludwig told them she was no larger than a lime. “Bebis?” Eric whispered against his wife’s skin, and then he turned his head so he could hear the thrum of her tiny heart. As he had seen Sookie do earlier, he started to walk the little bunny up and over the pronounced swell. He hummed a tune, a childhood song that came to mind. Almost without thinking, Eric started to tell a story. It wasn’t a real one; it was one he pulled from his head, about a brave girl and her rabbit. In his story the girl fought great battles and she was so clever she tricked the Gods. He made up adventures and whispered them against Sookie’s skin until he felt the pull of the sun.
Sookie woke the next morning to find herself wrapped in Eric’s grasp. She smiled to see the bunny in his hand. “I love her, too,” she whispered, and kissing his dead lips, placed the bunny on the table beside him.
When Bill arrived in Jackson last week, it was to find flowers waiting for him. His hand trembled as he plucked the photograph from the paper. Somehow, in spite of the horror he felt, Bill hadn’t been surprised. The face in the photograph, the person he was being ordered to kill, was his friend, his protector, Bartlett Crowe. That rat bastard in New York wanted him to trade what was left of his soul for another temporary reprieve for his descendants. Bill knew that even if he could bring himself to do this, it wouldn’t be over. There was nothing that could buy back his freedom. As long as he continued to exist, those he cared about would be in danger and it was a danger caused by vampires. He cursed the day Lorena found him. He cursed every day of his existence since then.
That night Bill went to the garage on the palace grounds at Jackson. He sat in the room where his Maker, Lorena, had imprisoned him, tortured him. He thought about each day since he was made. He remembered each thing he did that was not worthy and he placed it on one side of his mental ledger. Then he remembered each thing he did that was kind and good, and he placed it on the other side. The tale it told of his existence as a vampire convinced him. He was evil. He was evil, and it would require a sacrifice and a true, good act to redeem him.
He texted Carlo and told him that Bartlett and Russell were in Indianapolis. Carlo texted back, telling Bill to stop his whining and do what was expected.
Bill texted back, telling Carlo that Bartlett and Russell would be attending the premiere of the movie in Rhodes. He told Misha’s second that although news reports had the Kings in another city, his friends were making an unofficial detour just so they could be there for Bill. Within seconds Bill received Carlo’s reply and it was agreed. Bill would kill Bartlett in Rhodes.
Bill thought about Twy. The human had notified him this would be the last official event she would arrange for him. She was terminating their relationship to work exclusively for the Kings and Bill knew that in the short time she had been associated with them she had already managed miracles. Because of Twy’s efforts, the Kings were able to return to their home in Indiana and there was a movement afoot to put laws in place that would shield vampires from harassment. Granted, it was the Kings themselves who showed up to each event, charming the humans, but it was Twy who had forced open the opportunity that allowed it.
Bill decided he would find a way to keep Twy from being too close when the time came. Bill knew there would be others there, other vampires, and he wanted to know who they were so Bill sent Twy a text. In her usual efficient way, the list of those who were invited and expected to attend came from Brock, her assistant, within minutes. When Bill scanned the list he saw James, the King of Illinois, was at the top. Bill also saw his ‘friend,’ Matthias, would be attending. Bill knew that Matthias was part of a vampire paramilitary group, Vampires First. The group believed in treating humans as prey animals and Matthias had gone hunting with Bill more than once, a memory that now brought Bill shame. If Matthias was at the premiere, it was likely those around him would be members of that same group. ‘Good,’ Bill thought, ‘eliminating vampires like that is a worthy aim.’
Bill’s finger continued down the list, and there, toward the bottom, was the name ‘Eric Northman.’ Bill had been hoping, almost certain the Viking would come, but there were rumors that the Viking was canceling appearances and traveling less. Seeing that name seemed to make everything else click. The universe was in alignment and Bill knew that what he planned was the right thing.
Just as he started to settle, though, Bill remembered something. He rapidly scanned the list, searching for the second name, but Sookie was not there. Rather than risk it, he texted Twy, ‘What about Sookie Northman? Isn’t she coming?’
‘No,’ came the answer, and then a second text box appeared, ‘She had some prior thing. Producers were pissed but our Viking will be there.’ In that moment, Bill felt a great calm come over him. Everything else from that moment forward had been too easy.
Now, as he sat in his bedroom at the hotel in Rhodes, Bill had that same feeling of calm. He was struck by the irony that it was those things he learned at the beginning, in his human life that were the things that were most helpful now. During his time as a soldier in the Army of Mississippi, Bill had learned to create small shrapnel bombs. In those days they would load a canister with nails and bits of metal and glass, and then wire the charge. In many ways, it was easier now. He didn’t have to light the fuse and hope the wick burned clean. Two hours on the Internet had taught him how to build the spark that would fire the device. Before he left Mississippi, he scavenged supplies from the workshop at Russell’s palace and asked a guard to pick up a few things he couldn’t find. When he had everything assembled, he divided them into boxes and envelopes and mailed them to himself in Rhodes, care of the hotel where he would be staying.
The other thing he had prepared before he left were the hollow plastic pipes that he loaded with scraps of silver. It hadn’t taken long to collect it. It should have taken longer. He glamoured humans and sent them with money into the city. He had them buy crucifixes from religious stores. He sent them to pawn shops and thrift stores, buying plates and silverware. They used magnets to test each item so they would buy only that silver that was most pure. He would only have one shot at this and he wanted it to count.
His humans returned with their small offerings of chains and charms, forks and spoons, and Bill gave each of them twenty dollars and a story about finding money on the street and sent them on their way. All these things he stuffed into the tubes and then he packed them in boxes and sent them to Rhodes as well.
Once he arrived in Rhodes he had gone shopping, finding an outdoor outfitting store so he could buy a camera vest. From there, assembling things had been easy.
In truth, from start to finish, there had been only one truly testy moment and that had been in the airport in Jackson when he passed the drug-sniffing dogs. They had looked his way and one had whined, but its human handler had realized Bill was a vampire and assumed that was what caught the animal’s attention. Bill was carrying the explosive he needed in a money belt secured around his waist. Had he been flying commercial airlines, he would have never attempted it. He would have needed to find a source in Rhodes, and that would have taken time he didn’t have. But Bill wasn’t flying commercial, he was flying Anubis Airlines. In their arrogance, the almost exclusively vampire service assumed that no vampire would try to harm the plane or their fellow passengers, well, except in the usual ways. Bill was sure there had been more than one staking accomplished high above the Earth, but it was accepted that what happened on Anubis stayed with Anubis.
The phone chimed. It would be Carlo asking for an update. Bill couldn’t think about it. It was too much. Bill was beyond it.
Finding a larger tuxedo, one with a jacket large enough to fit over the vest Bill assembled had been easy, too. Bill left a request with the floor concierge before he went to his rest along with a large tip and the tuxedo was waiting in the anteroom when Bill rose.
As Bill stood before the mirror, checking the hang of his jacket, he smiled. Soon everyone he cared for would be free. His Portia would never need to worry that her children would come to harm. His Halleigh and Andy would be safe, too. And then there was Sookie, his beautiful, wonderful Sookie. They wouldn’t go together, hand in hand into what awaited them, but Bill had been a Christian in his human life. He believed, had to believe, that with this selfless act, he would earn his place so he could be waiting for her when she finally came to join him. Bill looked at his reflection in the mirror and a smile ghosted over his lips. “I’m ready, Sweetheart,” he said. “It’s time to go.”
“You sure you’re up for this?” Devrah’s disapproval was in full evidence. The housekeeper’s shoulders were stiff and her eyebrows were pulled together so that they almost met between her eyes. Devrah’s lip jutted and her arms were crossed.
“You heard the doctor, same as me,” Sookie shrugged, throwing a second dress in the suitcase. “Everything is right back where it should be. It’s a miracle!” and the telepath made a second scan of her underwear drawer. “Besides, I’ll take it easy. It’s a direct flight to Rhodes and I’ll just have them let me into Eric’s room. You know, Eric and I bonded in Rhodes,” Sookie’s smile almost split her face. “He saved me. I had no idea at the time what an amazing thing he was doing, but I know it now. I want to be there, where we started and tell him how grateful I am.”
Sookie could see her housekeeper unbending, “Well, then let’s make sure you have the right tools for the occasion,” and Devrah walked into the closet and came out with a black lace number that Sookie hadn’t seen before.
“Where did that come from?” the telepath asked.
“Someone’s special someone brought that back from Boston. He may have been waiting for the right time, and this seems like it.” Devrah shook her head as Sookie carefully folded it into the bag, and then danced into the bathroom to get her makeup bag. “You have to promise me you’ll drink lots of water,” the housekeeper scolded, “and eat salad. I hear you’re back to those greasy burgers and I’ll come up there and fetch you back myself!”
Sookie closed the suitcase and then stood straight. The amusement fell from her face, “Thank you,” she told this woman who had become her friend. “I am most beholden.”
When the housekeeper released the telepath from a hug, she sniffed and said, “Now, go on with you! I’ll have Owen get that big suitcase. Let’s get you downstairs and into the car. Wouldn’t do to miss the plane.”
Owen would come with her. Sookie told Devrah she would wait for Eric’s return at the hotel, but that wasn’t the truth. Sookie had a knock-out dress and she couldn’t wait to see Eric’s expression when she stepped out on that red carpet and walked toward him. Viking’s Bond was their story, and Sookie wanted to see it for the first time with Eric by her side. She wanted to stand in the city where he had first offered her their bonding and tell him she was sorry she hadn’t appreciated it, appreciated him. She wanted to let him know that if she could do it all over again, she never would have broken their bond, and that she was grateful every day that things turned out as they had.
When the driver brought her to the brownstone from the airport, Misha made a point of not being at the residence. He knew Pam. She would need time to adjust, to settle. Andrew was instructed to let her know where he was that evening and to offer her the option of joining him. Misha felt her reaction would tell the story.
But Pam hadn’t come to the art gallery to join him and when Misha came home, it was to find that Pam had asked to be moved to the rooms she had originally used on the floor above his bed chamber. Something had happened while she was in Louisiana visiting her Maker and it wasn’t to the benefit of Misha, the King of New York.
It had been hard, not walking up the stairs to see her. Misha had had many bed companions of both sexes over his long years. He made a point of surrounding himself with intelligent, interesting people. No one had ever fascinated him as Pam Ravenscroft did. She was everything he never knew he needed. She teased and provoked, she was a commanding presence wrapped in a deceivingly soft exterior. She put the yellow roses he surrounded her with to shame. She was so much more. Misha made himself stay in the library and he willed her to join him, but she didn’t.
He didn’t see Pam until the next evening. She was dressed to go out. She thanked him for allowing her the use of his home and she smiled and teased, but there was something missing. The woman whose eyes glowed for him in the flash of fireworks’ light wasn’t there. Instead, her eyes had a wariness about them, and when she would turn to touch a book or pour them blood, he would see a hint of sadness.
“Zolotse?” he asked when he could stand it no longer, “Have I done something to offend you?”
She was too bright, “No, of course not! I just have other things on my mind.”
“What happened in Louisiana?” he asked, “Your Maker is well?”
“Eric is always well,” Pam maintained her smile, “I just have so much to do. The new club is open and the renovation for the Manhattan Fangtasia is complete. I’ll be busy the next few nights and I’m just going to be a terrible guest.”
‘Her Maker has said something,’ Misha thought, ‘something that has upset her.’ “I am pleased your business concerns are progressing, Pamela. Selfishly, I am more pleased that there is profit here to provide an excuse for you to be in my kingdom.” Misha waited a moment, allowing her to settle into the expected compliment before adding, “When will you need to leave the state to inspect your other holdings?”
And it was there. The brief flash of gratitude. Misha knew now that she had been warned against him. “I’m off to Boston in a couple nights and then down to D.C. Felipe de Castro wants to come out in a couple weeks. We are planning to throw a big party for the downtown club. It’s in a trendier part of town and we think the foot traffic alone will have it picked up by the media. Felipe is certain we can create a buzz that makes sex clubs the equivalent of going to Starbucks.”
“I’m not certain how you would structure the annual contests for your baristas, but it’s an interesting concept,” Misha had chuckled, his mind racing. She was withdrawing from him. He was certain she was reluctant. It didn’t have the flavor of a Maker’s command, but he knew Eric Northman had to be involved.
Misha cocked his head to the side, and when he had her attention, he said, “You know Fashion Week in New York starts in less than a month. I know we talked about enjoying the collections together. If you were to incorporate the club launch with those events…” He let it linger, seeing the slight widening of her eyes. “I can secure tickets to every show for both us and for Felipe and his companion. We would be sure to be photographed. We could invite the models to the opening.”
“It would cement the vibe we’re looking for,” Pam nodded. Her eyes were a little brighter.
“I have rooms here. Your business partner need not make other arrangements. Of course, I have preferred rooms in the hotels downtown as well. I can have Andrew contact him with options.”
“Thank you,” Pam replied and, for a moment, the old warmth was back. It was enough to build on.
She left soon after, accepting the use of his car but nothing more. It was frustrating. Misha remembered the information Carlo had found in Boston, the documents about the doomed donors in New Orleans, but he hesitated. Pam had told him she was freed from her Maker. He had met Eric Northman. The Viking was formidable. Having a strong ally was never a bad thing, but now it appeared he was telling Pamela to keep her distance. ‘I will wait,’ Misha told himself. ‘I will see if he is merely being cautious for her sake.’
The next evening Pam was a little more cordial. The sex club was doing well, but not spectacularly. “Zolotse!” Misha had laughed, “It’s new! You won’t market it until the formal launch of the downtown club! Patience!”
“It’s the thing I’m usually better at,” Pam had laughed in return.
“Better than whom?” Misha kept his voice teasing.
“My sister. My Maker!” Pam shrugged. “Karin is all action. Eric plots it out and then keeps moving pieces until he gets what he wants. Me? I set things up and then push the button. Things usually turn out the way I think they will.”
“I have no doubt,” Misha took her hand. She stiffened. It was barely perceptible, but he felt it. He didn’t raise her hand to his lips as he wished; he didn’t breath in her fine scent. Instead, he smoothed his thumb across the soft skin that was the back of her hand. He kept his eyes on their hands together as he said, “You are the most capable woman I know.”
He knew it was time. It was a risk, what he had planned, but it would demonstrate his trust of her, her place with him. “I would like to continue our conversation, especially since you will leave me tomorrow and I won’t see you again for weeks, but I’m afraid I have some official business in my basement. Most distressing.”
“Of course,” Pam glanced up at him and then away as he released her hand.
“I caught a spy,” he continued. “I believe he comes from Dakotas.”
“Greyeagle?” Misha saw her quick interest, “What makes you think that?”
“He has been trying to develop influence,” Misha nodded, “Money. Like your Maker, he has discovered the riches available through energy reclamation. He has many wells working and his wealth has outgrown his wisdom. Unlike his neighbors, he has found a way to reclaim both the gas and the natural gas his operations are creating. He probably has more money than me now.”
“Does he view you as an enemy?” Pam leaned forward, and it was everything Misha had not to smile.
“That is the question,” he nodded. “I wouldn’t imagine he would. What possible interference could I cause him from halfway across a continent, but the spy is here nonetheless.” With another shrug that seemed to say, ‘another day…’ Misha turned toward the stairs. He waited just the right amount of time before turning to her and saying, “Would you like to join me?” Pam didn’t answer him. She just moved and together they walked down the stairs.
The vampire had been living in Misha’s territory for some time. On the surface he was a hustler, working for one of Misha’s real estate firms. The tip off had come when the King’s infrastructure team conducted a scan of employee email. It was something Misha had done every quarter, but never across all his holdings. They were simply too vast and it would take too long. It was serendipity that had included this office in the regular sweep and the program had red-flagged the vampire now hanging in chains.
Misha’s guards had been working on him, softening him for the King. There might come a time that vampires weren’t hardened to torture, but Misha couldn’t really imagine it. He glanced at the fierce look that came over Pam’s face and realized she couldn’t foresee that future either.
They spent the next few hours questioning the vampire. Misha gained a new appreciation for Pam as he watched her work. She had a deft hand and a highly evolved sense of when to push and when to wait. At one point he had stepped back, “I defer to the Master in this,” he bowed to her.
The vampire eventually gave everything. He was a spy for Greyeagle. The Dakotas King was curious about how other rulers were diversifying assets and he was not above corporate espionage to learn secrets. He worried that environmental groups would put an end to fracking and he wanted to be prepared. He liked living well and he didn’t wish to give it up.
“Feed him,” Misha ordered when he was satisfied. “When he is able to travel, return him to his King with my compliments.” He turned to the sagging vampire, “And tell your King that if he wishes business advice he need only ask. I am not so greedy that I won’t spend time with a fellow King.”
Pam stood beside him. At one point, she had removed her shoes and her suit jacket. She had pulled back her white hair, fixing it on the top of her head with a pin. She was liberally dabbled with blood and her eyes shone. Her eyes didn’t hold the soft light that made him feel warm. What he saw now was a quick, fierce light and he recognized what attracted the Viking. Misha had seen many sides of Pam Ravenscroft. He had seen the savvy businesswoman and the sophisticated socialite. He had seen the pampered upper class lady and the demanding lover. Now he saw a warrior and he found there was not one aspect of this woman that rang false with him. “I am happy you are here with me, Pamela,” he said out loud.
“I am, too,” she answered and they both knew they were saying more than the words.
Pam left the next night for Boston. She stayed in the Beacon Hill house. Misha found himself turning on the cameras in the Master Suite and he watched her turn to stroke the pillow he used before day claimed her. He didn’t hear from her again until days before Fashion Week.
Felipe de Castro was in town with Angie. They opted for a private hotel close to the uptown club. Misha was secretly relieved. He had not wished to share the brownstone or his Pam’s attention. They started with the pre-week opening dinner and party. It was not the official start, but as years passed, the festivities crept back into the preceding days, causing the Week to be much longer. Misha’s plan was simple. Spend every night in a whirl of activities. Of course, there were collections they would miss, the ones held during daylight hours, but the most important shows were slated for evenings now. Misha had managed ramp chairs for every single one. Official evening three would be the sex club launch. Official evening four was Thursday.
Misha hoped the relationship between them would be repaired. He had been planning something special for some time, since Boston. Thursday was the evening the Neue Gallerie New York had their evening hours and he had made arrangements to have the hall with the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer all to himself. Just thinking about what he wished to do made him anxious. ‘Like a boy!’ he marveled. He hadn’t felt this combination of anxiety and hope in longer than even he could remember.
It went exactly as planned. Felipe and Angie were swept up in the festivities. The four of them soon relaxed around each other. Misha didn’t truly trust the Narayana Chief, but that was to be expected. Still, they found mutual things of interest and even Angie seemed to rise to the occasion, behaving in a civilized and pleasing way. They found themselves the center of attention everywhere they went. People wished to be seen with them and photographers wished to take their pictures. The club launch was everything they wished and every model from the show that night was there. The sidewalk outside became its own mini-fashion collection showing. You could feel it, that sense that it was right timing, right city. The club and the concept would be a success. Pam pulled him into a private room upstairs and together they played with twin sisters. Misha found that their skeletal bodies emphasized the beauty of Pamela’s body just as their frames served to emphasize whichever designer’s dress was draped over them.
Misha focused on watching Pam’s pleasure. One sister had her head buried between Pam’s legs while the other sucked him into her throat. He watched Pam’s eyes, listened to her moans, and pretended the sensation of tongue and teeth was her around him. The models were skilled and they timed their efforts. When Pam’s eyes began to roll back in her head, the woman on her knees before him reached forward to play with his sac and they found themselves reaching completion together. Pam held out her hand and Misha wrapped his own hand around hers. “Mine!” he growled, and his Pam smiled.
When they returned to the brownstone, Pam walked into his suite. She pulled off her clothes and stood before him.
“You don’t need to,” he told her.
“But I want it,” she replied.
He took her in every way she wished. He realized it was not something he would experience often, and he let her know he appreciated every moment.
They had found mutual satisfaction several times already. She never really came, but there was an unwinding about the experience that left them both smiling. He was not expecting more which was what made what happened so special.
Misha was sitting up and Pam was straddling his lap. They were holding each other and he was using his mouth to play with her breasts, kissing and nipping at her sensitive nipples. His Pam didn’t like anal play so he avoided touching or stroking her cheeks. Instead he focused on stimulating her clit. He knew his cock bent at an angle. He couldn’t explain it. It had always been that way and when he was stimulated, it bent more. As they moved, he saw her eyes open wide and he felt a surge of pride and possessiveness when she hissed and started to move more quickly. He focused on where he was dragging within her and when he hit a place that had her mouth fall open. He kept his suction on her breasts more gentle, but he moved from rubbing to tapping her engorged clit. Her walls were trembling, her eyes were wide and she moaned. It was the most amazing sound. He could see the surprise that turned to wonder and he looked away from her, willing her to focus on the sensation. She moaned again and he felt the trembling within her building to something more.
He glanced up again to see her head thrown back, her throat working. He bit then, not hard, on the nipple between his teeth and her pussy clenched around him and she was flying. She called out, her voice clear and strong as her orgasm took her. He wanted to flip her on her back, but was afraid to change anything about this but, in another moment, Pam had grabbed his shoulders and was moving faster. She pulled his face so she could capture his mouth and when he gave her the tongue she demanded, she bit and he came harder than he thought possible.
They came to themselves with him still within her. He had fallen backward and she lay across his broad chest. “That was…” she stammered.
“A gift, Zolotse. A rare gift,” and he lifted her hand to kiss her fingertips.
“You love me,” He couldn’t tell what she was feeling.
“I suppose that’s true,” he chuckled. “You’ve now had my blood. You know all my secrets.”
“I shouldn’t have…” and she started to pull from him, but he wrapped his arms around her, holding her and stroking her back.
“I wished it,” he assured her. “I am yours, my Golden Girl. It is right that you should know it.”
“I don’t know if I can give you what you want,” Pam whispered against his chest.
“What do you think that would be, Pamela? Perhaps what you have just given me is enough to last the rest of my existence, for it was perfection,” and he drifted his hand from her back to her head, petting her, realigning her hair. “If this was all we could have, this moment, Zolotse, I tell you now, it would be enough.”
And Pam looked at him then and said in her quiet, cultured voice, “But not for me.”
On Thursday night, Pam walked into the Neue Gallerie. They had all been together at a show earlier. Misha left Pam with Felipe and Angie at an avant garde gallery that was hosting a reception. She knew where he was headed. She knew she was under no obligation to join him, but she excused herself and called a cab.
As she walked toward the hall where she knew he waited, she wondered what this would mean for her. She wasn’t sure what would happen, but she had an idea that they had crossed some threshold into a different place. What she did know was she couldn’t see a future where this strange, funny, challenging man wasn’t waiting.
When she turned the final corner, she saw him. He was sitting on the bench before Adele’s portrait. He stood and turned toward her. When she came close, he gestured to the place beside him and together, they turned to look at Adele as they had that first time they met.
Misha spoke to the portrait, “She was, by all accounts, a rare, vivacious person. She understood and appreciated art and she supported talent around her. Her husband was no beauty. He was older than her and set in his ways, but he had one rare gift. He recognized the treasure that was his wife and he let her know it.” Misha turned to Pam and waited. Pam glanced over, suddenly shy. She could see he had something in his hands and he moved to stand behind her. He fastened a necklace around her neck, a great collar of many parts and Pam realized he had reproduced the gold and gemstone collar Adele wore in her portrait. “I wish you to be my companion, Pam.”
She turned her face to the side. She could feel his sincerity. It had been impulsive, taking his blood. He could have killed her for it, but instead he seemed pleased. When she didn’t answer, he walked around her and taking her hands in his, he looked straight into her eyes. “I would have you as my Queen.”
“That’s not possible,” Pam swallowed. “My Maker is with us. It would be unwise for either of us.”
“I tell you so that you understand me, Pamela. I would not wish you to think that what I propose is temporary or that I would see you as less. What you say is correct. You could not be my Queen while your Maker exists, but that does not mean that I don’t wish it.” He leaned forward, and when she bit her lip he smiled. It was a boyish smile, and his broad teeth looked handsome. “Say yes, Pamela, say that you’ll join me,” and he waited, his shoulders loose, and Pam realized there was only one answer.
“I’m yours,” she told him.
Misha told her he had planned an official reception at the brownstone for the following evening. “I would like to introduce you as the Mistress of the house, but I won’t if you wish more time.”
“I don’t need more time,” she told him. “But you know I won’t live here all the time.”
Misha laughed, “Of course, Zolotse! I only ask that you make my kingdom your official base of operations. I could no more demand you stay in one place than I could demand it of a butterfly! You must be free! You will pick up your thoughts and your ideas, your adventures and your stories. You will follow your dreams and build your successes. I ask only that when you are ready to come home, that it is my door you darken,” and he kissed her. When they walked into the brownstone, it was to find several women awaiting them. Pam laughed at the King’s cheekiness.
“What?” she teased. “You don’t want a repeat of last night?”
The smile dropped from her face when he took her hand and pulled her close. His eyes were fierce and his voice low, “Last night was perfection! I will treasure it for the rare moment it was. I would not cheapen it. We may find that moment again, Zolotse, but it is enough that we embrace who and what we are.” Pam didn’t think it possible she could love him any more than she did at that moment. They pulled the women into the guest bedroom, playing across the furniture and large bed. Andrew brought them blood when they called and agreed to join in when invited. The Master chamber would have been larger and more comfortable, but somehow they both knew that it would not be shared with others again.
Maude was subdued when Pam called her with the news the following evening. Pam knew she should have called Eric first, but, in a rare moment of cowardice, she decided to test the waters with the Minnesota Queen first.
“You’re really sure about this, Pammie?” Maude asked.
“I can’t explain it,” Pam shrugged. “He gets me.”
“You love him?” Maude asked.
“So much it hurts,” Pam told her. Until she said it, she hadn’t realized how true that statement was.
“So, what does the North Man say about all of this?” and when Pam didn’t say anything, Maude laughed. “You haven’t told him! Well, Pammie Pam, you’re going to have to face up to that music and soon. You know how folks gossip and if you don’t get in front of it soon, he’ll be hearing it from some person who has no business telling him about his progeny. You at least told Karin, right?”
“Well…” Pam started, and then stopped.
“Are you really sure you want to do this, Pam? You aren’t sounding as if you’re proud of it. This might be a warning sign.”
“Look!” Pam exclaimed, “I called you first because I know this isn’t exactly going to be the best news for my Maker. You know Eric as much as told me he wished I’d call it off. And Karin? She’ll give me all kinds of shit. She has a man who loves her fiercely and she can’t understand it. How would she even begin to understand this? You are my dearest friend, and I want you to be happy for me.”
“And I am,” Maude assured her. “If you say this makes you happy, that’s all I could wish for you.”
“Thank you,” Pam sniffed. She was surprised how much the acceptance by Maude meant to her.
“And if it makes you feel any better,” Maude continued, “Deirdre, Inger, and I had a pool for how long it would take you to accept him. I won.”
“You knew?” Pam snorted.
“From the day he started sending you those Victorian miniature circumcision kits. It was clear to all of us that he was your kind of crazy,” and Maude laughed her great, booming laugh. “It’s sure going to get quiet around here again, but we all knew it was only a matter of time before you would move out. You’re too much of a big city girl to be happy out here in the country.”
“Thank you, Maude,” Pam felt her gratitude all the way to her backbone.
“Now, don’t you go getting all sentimental,” Maude playfully scolded, and then more seriously, “And go ahead and enjoy the rest of your evening. Your Maker is in Rhodes tonight for that movie thing. I don’t think you’ll get his attention. No reason you can’t wait until tomorrow to tell him. Go dance your night away. We’ve been pulling up your photos on Google. I have to tell you, even Zorro and his loyal sidekick are looking good. Must be that New York air.”
Pam laughed and they spent the next half hour chatting about the week and what Maude had learned about Phoebe’s latest venture. “I can’t believe that there hasn’t been an accident. Being that close to any full fairy makes my fangs itch,” Pam snorted.
Pam turned her head when there was a discreet knock at the door. A maid came in, a new gown Pam had purchased earlier that week over her arm. “Well, it looks like I have to go,” Pam told Maude. “My dresser is here.”
“Go have fun, Cinderella,” Maude told her. “You deserve your ball.”
Eric stepped from the limo and was immediately surrounded by the flash of cameras. There were people around him wearing badges who waved him to the first place where the human star who played the Viking in the movie was waiting. Eric smiled, turning his head first one way and then another, accommodating the media. The human was also smiling. They said a few polite words, but neither truly had much to say. The human had already started work on another project and Eric was anxious to return home. He looked around him. James, the King of Illinois, stood a little ahead of him surrounded by vampires and others. Just beyond that, Eric saw Bill Compton. He remembered the image from Sookie’s head, the one where Bill manhandled her in his car the night Eric had first met her. The Viking had to fight the urge to drop fang and advance on the smaller vampire. He wanted to rip him from limb from limb.
“Hey! You okay, buddy?” the human actor asked. His voice was nervous and Eric realized some part of his thoughts must have become apparent on his face.
“Oh, sorry!” Eric smiled in what he hoped was a disarming way. “Vampire moment.”
The actor chuckled, “Good one. Wish I could have got that look during the movie.”
“It might not have been romantic though,” and Eric did his best to smile pleasantly again. The human was laughing a little more and the cameras must have decided they were having a moment because they zoomed in.
Eric progressed down the carpet, stopping next to pay his respects to James. “A good night for Illinois,” he greeted his peer and gave a shallow bow.
“It is,” James said in his formal way. “I hope this convinces everyone that what happened that time was nothing more than an unfortunate accident. Rhodes is a wonderful city. It’s not right that it should suffer because of something that happened so long ago.”
“I agree, Majesty,” Eric replied, but he didn’t mean it. He couldn’t explain it, but being here made him nervous. He focused on the flash of cameras around him and the smiling faces, but he knew that as soon as he could, he would find his way back to the hotel and move up his flight home.
There were a number of vampires around the King. Eric recognized some of them from past Summits. Several were talking with Bill Compton. Bill seemed off. He was responding, but his eyes kept flicking around him, as if he was looking for someone. Eric looked around and didn’t see anyone who seemed of interest. The King was still talking, “I would like to propose that we hold another Summit here. Not the next one, of course, that will be with Rasul, but maybe the one after that.”
“We’ll see,” Eric replied. There was something about Compton. He had always been a slimy little shit, but his level of agitation tonight was on a whole new level. As if sensing his thoughts, Bill turned and locked eyes with him, and then Bill smiled. Eric didn’t know what to make of it, but he got the impression that the person Bill was waiting for was him. The vampires standing around Bill stopped talking, and they turned and looked at the Viking, too. Eric excused himself and walked down the carpet toward Bill.
When he got close, Eric noticed Bill had kept his hand in his pants pocket. The way he was fisting his hand made the pants lie awkwardly, pulling across his front. When Eric was close, within five feet, Bill relaxed his hand and removed it. He said, “Guess I’ll see you in hell,” but before Eric would think what that meant, he heard his wife call him.
She was walking down the carpet toward him, looking amazing in a long black dress. Her hair was swept up and her feet were moving quickly in her strappy heels. She had hidden her pregnancy but Eric could see her sway every few steps, and Eric realized it was her balance being thrown off. As she smiled at him the meaning of Bill’s words hit him. He could hear Bill yelling something. It sounded like ‘No!’ but Eric couldn’t think about it. He was running faster than he ever had, placing himself between his wife and the disaster he knew was coming.
Sookie was on her back. Her ears were ringing and there was a hissing sound in them, like a white noise machine on steroids. She was having trouble breathing and she realized it was because there was something heavy on her. Her eyes opened, and she could see a disembodied hand on the red carpet beside her. As she watched it turned to dust. ‘Vampire’ her brain said automatically. And then she remembered.
Sookie remembered Eric’s frightened face rushing for her. She remembered the startled looks of the vampires standing near Bill and she remembered Bill’s own look of horror when he saw her. “There was an explosion” she said out loud, but she couldn’t hear her words. She reached out with her brain. There were humans all around her. Many were in pain. One died as she mentally touched her. ‘Eric!’ she thought and she felt him, faintly. He was the weight on her.
Sookie pushed and pushed until she managed to move him. She hurt. Her belly hurt. Her chest hurt. Her hands came away red and she could feel warm blood dripping, but she couldn’t tell if it was hers. She finally pushed him enough to crawl over him. He was bleeding. There were holes that were smoking in his chest. Worse still, his face was gone. There was one eye, but it was closed. His jaw was smashed and where his mouth should have been there was a hole. His nose was there, but it was out of place. He wasn’t moving and she could feel how weak he was.
There were others starting to move. Someone started to scream and for some reason all Sookie could think was, ‘no one can see you like this.’ She cloaked her smell and pulled a skin over him, making him look as he normally did. She found a piece of glass and she cut her wrist. She clapped it on the hole that was his mouth, noticing that she could see bone at the back. She trusted that the trickle of blood would find its way into her bonded and with everything she had, she thought of Dr. Ludwig’s hospital and willed them there in a way that refused to take no for an answer.