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“Mr. Cataliades!” Sookie knew the vampires around her disapproved of showing so much emotion, but she was honestly happy to see the demon attorney.
“Miss Stackhouse!” and Desmond sketched a low bow. “Ah,” he corrected himself, “I should say, Majesty.”
She didn’t have to see it. She could feel Eric’s frown, but she didn’t want to get into a protracted conversation about titles and protocol. “I think we’re all adults,” she declared, and looping her arm through Desmond’s, she leaned against him. “Just call me Sookie.”
“As you wish, my dear,” and Desmond Cataliades leaned in, patting her hand with his own. “It does seem too long.” He didn’t ask Eric’s permission, and Sookie could sense her mate’s frown transition to a growl.
Heading him off, Sookie turned to Stan, “Where have you been hiding yourself? I didn’t see you at the reception or last night. I thought you’d be here from the beginning, hob-nobbing and charming the masses.”
“I was,” Stan assured her. “I’ve been busy with meetings.” He turned slightly, and there was Barry standing a short distance away, talking with Hunter.
“Can I talk with him, or is he still being punished?” Sookie asked.
Almost in answer, Barry walked toward them. “Seems a long way from Rhodes, don’t it?” he asked. He peered at her before dropping his eyes. “Being vampire suits you.”
“Kind of you to say,” and Sookie stepped in, breaking more protocol by hugging her one-time friend. “So good to see you and glad to hear you’re doing well.”
“Glad to hear it, too,” and Barry grinned.
“A great day for Amun and Zeus,” and Stan lifted his goblet. “Two great Clans, each able to claim telepaths. Not that we’d keep score, but for those who do count, I’d say we’re winning.”
“Narayana is all but crushed,” Eric observed.
“Felipe de Castro was their brightest. It’s down to Robert in California. Granted, his kingdom is rich, but not as large as…” and Stan shrugged.
“Moosup remains strong,” Sookie volunteered. There’d been a time she found vampire politics boring, but that was before.
“But, no telepath,” Stan grinned.
“With witches all but banned there’s little chance of them building ascendency,” Mr. Cataliades observed.
“Do you believe it’s time for another Witch War?” Barry asked Sookie. It was the first she’d heard of it, but glancing at the faces surrounding her, Sookie realized it wasn’t a new idea.
“I have no problem with witches,” she replied. “Fran Miller was my best friend and she’s not the first witch I called that. I figure there’s good people and bad among them, just like everyone else.”
“But with all those powers and the poor way they supervise their own?” Barry asked. “It’s like an accident waiting to happen.”
“I know that’s what some say,” and Sookie considered her words. “I meant what I said before. Have you ever met a witch?”
Barry stared a minute before nodding. “After Rhodes. The weather witch.”
Sookie remembered the weather witch, too. He had been paid to start Hurricane Katrina. The aftermath devastated the vampires in Louisiana and was indirectly responsible for Sofie-Ann LeClerq’s final death. “I don’t think that witch had any idea his spell would lead to so much destruction,” Sookie said softly.
“I don’t think that witch cared one way or the other, as long as his fee was paid,” Barry sniffed. “That’s the problem with witches. They don’t have any true honor. It’s whatever the market will bear and damn the consequences!”
“Like you, my great-grandson is passionate in his beliefs,” Mr. Cataliades confided.
“While I appreciate everyone’s entitled to their opinions, this is dangerous talk,” Sookie warned. “For centuries, vampires were willing to purchase the services witches could provide. I’ll grant you, I’ll never understand why they didn’t organize the way y’all have, but that doesn’t make them bad people. Certainly not worth going to war over!”
“Your mate seems to forget she is one of us now” Stan said lightly. Sookie wasn’t fooled. Texas was scolding her and she knew she deserved it.
“I don’t mean to make trouble,” she said by way of apology, “and I sure don’t mean to pick a fight when we’re all having such a good time. I’m just saying that painting every cat into a skunk because of the bad actions of one or two individuals is a waste.” She flashed her best smile, “Besides, seems to me we got a bit out of the relationship. It would be too bad to just throw that all away.”
“My Queen is known for her heart,” Eric explained.
Sookie wanted to bite his head off. She sure didn’t want Eric Northman telling their fellow rulers she was leading from weakness, but then she took another look at the faces around her. ‘I can’t change their minds,’ she realized. Mr. Cataliades squeezed her hand, and she knew she was right.
“I would suggest that Fran Miller was the exception, not the other way around,” Stan declared. “She was the one good apple,” and he bowed his head toward Sookie. “The rest are just one rotten barrel…”
“Which no one would miss,” Barry concluded.
She hadn’t seen this side of Barry before. It had been a long time ago, and when she’d known him, he’d been hiding. First, he’d been hiding his telepathy, and then he’d been hiding for his life. Still, this streak of intolerance surprised her. “Is this how you feel about the Fae?” she asked.
Barry looked surprised. “No! Of course not! Supes are different! They are born, or made into something finer. Witches? Weeds!”
Stan looked entirely happy with the direction of the conversation and Mr. Cataliades? Sookie glanced up to see he’d taken on his lawyer face, bland and inscrutable. For a moment his eyes met hers. There was that slight red flicker, and then he spoke up. “I have no great love for witches, either. They are too quick to take money and ignore consequences, however, a war would draw attention.” He squeezed Sookie’s hand. “I think with the all the talk among the humans in Washington we want to present as civilized a face as possible.”
Sookie made a habit of not following human politics anymore. It bored most vampires and enraged the rest. “Why?” she asked. “What’s being said?”
“They are debating whether the government should impose laws on vampires,” Eric answered.
Eric providing the answer surprised her. They spent most nights together. They talked, they read. They received reports together. He’d never mentioned this subject, nor had she seen him following it. “Guess you’ve been spending your Sookie-free hours well,” she said. She’d meant it to sound light and teasing, but instead it sounded like the accusation it was. It was a slip she immediately regretted as vampire and demon eyes became a little too interested. “Don’t mind me!” she said, purposely pitching her voice to a lighter tone. “I’m just mad I didn’t think of it first!”
“The protests we saw when news of Rick first came to light have tapered off, but among some, the public view has given way to private crusade. Some of these individuals are wealthy. Many are of the religious right. They see us as Satan’s…”
“Some things never change!” Stan sighed.
“I can tell you for a fact that even those who do business with vampires fear them, at least a little bit,” Barry confirmed.
“Only cause we’re different,” Sookie pointed out. “Folks are like that. They get cautious around new people. Once they get to know us though, they change their minds.”
“Some do,” Barry conceded.
“Well, unless people have changed a lot since I was a telepath, I’d say most realize we’re pretty much the same as them, and then the fear factor slides away,” Sookie pressed. She knew better than most how paranoia could work on vampires. With their long histories and personal experiences with humans, most involving hiding and killing, it didn’t take much. “Have things changed?” she challenged Barry.
“There are still some…” Barry protested.
“’Some’ is not ‘most’, Sookie pointed out and then moved on. “What are they talking about doing?”
“Forcing us to register for special resident status,” Eric told her.
“What? Like immigrants?” Sookie asked. “That doesn’t make any sense! I mean, most of y’all have been here longer than any of them have been alive. And me? I was born here. Just because I was turned, that doesn’t make me less of a citizen!”
“There are some who would argue that the moment you died, you rose as a different person,” Mr. Cataliades explained.
“Well, there are some who can go ahead and say that,” Sookie shrugged. “Still all happened right here in this country.”
“Some of us remember when this country was born,” Stan sniffed. “Isaiah claims he met some of the sainted forefathers. I think there’s an argument that we’re more entitled to citizenship in this country than those fools in Washington.”
“It’s the argument Russell Edgington favors,” Mr. Cataliades reminded them. “He would have us assert our rights as first citizens. He would like to see us take a more active role in rule.”
“He prefers wielding power,” Eric said dryly. “Subtlety isn’t his strong suit.”
“He certainly lives pretty openly,” Sookie nodded, remembering the party atmosphere that was Russell’s palace. “I’m surprised his neighbors haven’t done something about him.”
“Glamour!” Mr. Cataliades grinned. “He invites them over and glamours them into supporting him!”
“I suppose that’s how he thinks we should take over the government?” Sookie sniffed. “We invite everyone to a big lawn party and just glamour folks?” She glanced around the group, realizing she might be the only one to think it was a really bad idea. “You know that wouldn’t work!” she scolded. “The last thing any of us need is the territory fight this would cause, every vampire thinking they should be the one, true King!”
“We could approach the Pythoness,” Stan mused.
“She would not be interested,” Mr. Cataliades said like a man who knew. “If she wanted us to rule this country, she would have made provision long ago. Instead, she established the system in place. We rule our own. We live and let live.”
“But, if humans decide to place some kind of restrictions in place…” and Barry looked at each of them, the question lingering.
“There is always the law,” Mr. Cataliades answered. “They live by laws. We live by the same. We fight them in Court.”
“Spoken like a lawyer!” Stan chuckled, but then he sobered. “As much as they protest that their justice is blind, we know that isn’t so. Human justice is a product of its time. Bad decisions may change, but it takes their society changing first to allow that to happen.”
“What are you suggesting?” Eric asked.
“We continue the work you have started,” Stan answered. He waited for a moment before explaining. “We court them publicly. We appear on their talk shows. We offer ourselves up as their true historians. We insert ourselves as patrons of their arts and guardians of their culture.” He bowed his head toward Sookie and Eric, “And we have our publicity poster children lead the way.”
“We have our own concerns in our own kingdom,” Eric said civilly.
“Big fish in a small pond,” Stan replied. “You have assets that are the envy of all. Were you finally dead, Pam would be a Queen already!” Sookie suspected that was true. It was tradition that only vampires whose Makers had met their final death could be rulers. Pam had all the skills. Even now she was handling all their meetings, making deals, and cementing alliances. “Surely, you can give her a little space to act as Regent while you help the rest of us with your popularity among the breathers?”
“And you don’t think that will get some folks thinking we’re making too much of ourselves?” Sookie asked. “We start showing up, becoming the face of vampires… well, I’d get suspicious about people doing that!”
“We include others,” Stan sniffed. “We provide a stipend, making clear this isn’t about taking over. This is about providing a service.”
“A contract,” Mr. Cataliades nodded. “We spell out the terms. Contracts are understood and respected. If there were a contract, the suspicion would be lessened.”
“I don’t know…” Sookie started.
“It would take some time to develop,” Eric interrupted. “The terms would need to be clearly understood. We would want no room for misunderstandings when it came to our motives.”
Sookie found herself standing, mouth open, staring at Eric. This seemed so out of character. He teased her about her television appearances, steering clear of these types of duties himself. Then she felt it. He was cautioning her and she knew. Eric was stalling. He didn’t want to say no, prolonging this conversation. He’d handle it by simply allowing the negotiations to continue forever. ‘Sneaky vampire!’ she thought, and then, in the next instance, glanced at Mr. Cataliades. The demon was perfectly capable of reading any species, but if he had plucked the thoughts from her head, he gave no sign.
“You are, of course, welcome to use any attorney to craft the contract, but I would be honored, if you chose me,” Desmond said smoothly. Eric bowed, neither an agreement nor a declination.
“So, does that mean you’re working for just vampires, or would this include Weres?” Barry asked.
“I hear that all Supernatural beings are under suspicion,” Eric answered.
“Weres are notoriously ungrateful,” Stan sniffed. “If they are to be included, they will need to make the necessary commitments,” and he glanced at Sookie, “Without prompting.”
“Because nothing says welcome like not issuing an invitation,” Sookie dead-panned.
“If we do move forward presenting the face of vampires in this new world, the Weres will see it. That will prompt their decision,” Eric pointed out. “Like before. We led the way with the Revelation. They followed.”
“I suppose it’s a good thing Thalia’s out of country,” Mr. Cataliades said. It seemed a random remark, but in response to Sookie’s puzzled look, he explained, “She can attract the wrong kind of attention.” Turning to Eric he said, “Your timing was, as usual, impeccable.”
“But you told me Thalia was vacationing.” It slipped out before Sookie could engage her filter. Mentally kicking herself, she added, “But, of course, you sent her! She needed a vacation.” That might have been the end of it had Sookie not felt that trickle through the bond. Her husband felt guilty, and she knew what that meant. He was up to something, just as Desmond had hinted. Eric Northman was scheming and letting Sookie be the last to know. It was an old habit, but with enough history that it felt like baggage and in that instant, it was as if the baggage caught fire. Sookie felt her anger rush forward, a prickle in the base of her neck and the ghost of what should have been a flaming face. Plastering her smile in place, she sent her husband the equivalent of a poison arrow before slipping her arm through Barry’s. “So, show me what you like best in the exhibitor’s hall this year. I bet you have the best sense of what’s going to be that next big thing!”
It was ‘at home’ night for the Summit. This was the evening before the last full night of meetings when rulers retreated to their suites to huddle with their entourages. Offers and gossip were reviewed and decisions made. For some, this time was used to visit with other rulers, using the more informal atmosphere to cement alliances or work out the details that only rulers could decide. Eric glanced around the room. He anticipated his mate arriving, and hoped Pam beat her. He’d been receiving reminders of Sookie’s irritation off and on since last night.
Earlier this evening she’d cornered him, confronting him about Thalia. The scene played over in his head.
“So, it this where we are?” she asked using her most bossy tone. “I thought we’d progressed beyond this, Eric. Did you send Thalia there?”
“I suggested Europe might be a good place for a vacation,” he hedged.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?” Her hands were fisted and lodged at her hips. She was actually tapping her toe. He was struck by an almost overwhelming desire to laugh, but choked it back, knowing it wouldn’t lead to any positive outcome.
“There’s nothing to tell,” he said reasonably. “I’ve been wondering about Europe since Thalia’s last visit, so when she mentioned travel, I suggested she go there.”
“Nothing more?” Sookie demanded.
“There is nothing more to be said,” and Eric shrugged. He waited. She waited too, and he willed her to let it go. He could almost feel her wrestling against him, but then she conceded.
It hadn’t really resolved anything. As she dressed, he could feel her discontent.
They fed together and showered, but instead of fucking, as he wanted, she left rather quickly, pleading a prior promise to meet early with Hunter. “He has a number of pending contracts. I promised I’d consult with him. You know he has to give answers before the end of tonight,” had been her excuse. He’d watched her walk away, knowing she was only being partially honest.
He knew Sookie. Part of her desire to get away from him was because she needed to think things over without him being around. Even now, he could feel her mind churning and because it had been hours, he knew what that meant. She was working herself up and when she next caught him alone, she’d be ready for a fight.
“You called?” He shouldn’t have felt so relieved to see Pam walk through the door, but he was. “What? You look like I caught you doing something.”
“Sookie feels that way, too,” he admitted.
“Sookie has good instincts about these sorts of things,” and Pam tapped her toe the same way his mate had earlier this evening.
“She is suspicious about Thalia,” and Eric collapsed on the large sofa.
“Does she have any reason to be?” and Pam sat across from him.
“I don’t know what to tell her,” Eric shrugged. “There isn’t anything I can see, but it’s what I don’t see.”
“Explain,” and Pam settled back.
“The Fae. The Cranes sent agents to collect Brigid. They were serious enough to be willing to kill. Rick stopped one and the other was turned over to Charles, and then… nothing. No message. No threat.”
“Perhaps Charles took care of it,” Pam reasoned.
“If he had, he would have said something, don’t you think?” Eric shook his head. “At the very least he should have asked for something, a favor, money, to make up for the inconvenience.”
“But, he didn’t,” and Pam’s eyebrows drew together. “It does seem odd,” but then Pam eye-rolled him. “Fuck a zombie, Eric! If you have all these suspicions, why not just tell your wife? You know she’s like a dog with a bone. She’ll worry this and worry about it until she drives us crazy.”
“What if there’s nothing to worry about? Why get her all worked up if it’s nothing more than my own paranoia?” Eric confessed. “Remember, this is Rick we’re talking about, and Rick’s progeny. Sookie is protective, even more so since her turning.”
Pam smirked. “You figure she’ll move back to Bon Temps.”
“Rick won’t have room left to breathe,” Eric nodded. “She’ll hover.”
“How is Rick doing?” and then Pam leaned forward, “And don’t give me the story you’ve had Rubio fabricate.”
“Not well,” Eric told his Child. “He has an impressive gift. I don’t believe his abilities are entirely those of a dhampir. His telepathy with vampires is clear. He’s been able to distinguish individual vampires from a distance. His ability to read vampires works even over some distance and his range seems to be improving.”
“But what?” Pam asked.
“He’s tortured by what he reads,” Eric told her. “He sees it all, both what you would do and what your instincts suggest. He sees your history; all your past bloody deeds.”
“I can’t imagine that’s too comfortable,” Pam sighed. “There’s things I’ve done in past I’d rather not have some stranger pick through.”
“There are still moments when my first instinct is to rip someone’s head off,” Eric sighed back. “From what Rubio says, Rick sees it with the kind of immediacy that suggests it’s all real.”
“Which would lead to misinterpreting,” Pam nodded. “So, what’s Rubio doing about it?” She said it so matter-of-fact. It was what he liked best about Pam. She accepted any problem as a challenge that had to have a solution.
“I’ve been wondering that myself,” Eric said aloud.
Pam didn’t hide her exasperation. “Am I really the first person you’ve talked with about this? Let me guess? You decided to puzzle it out by yourself! Really? And how do you think this is going to turn out for you? Eric! Sometimes you have to be willing to just try things and not wait until you have your answer wrapped up with a bow.” She glanced toward the door before saying, “He’s her son, too. If you don’t help Rick get a handle on this, he’ll be damaged, and then what do you think she’ll say?”
“Rubio hasn’t been able to help him sift things,” Eric answered.
“And his Mommy would have him stop altogether,” Pam nodded. Her mouth pursed, “What about appealing to the demon?”
“Cataliades?” Eric asked. “He wouldn’t help me!”
“But Rick isn’t you,” Pam pointed out. “He’s Niall’s heir, for all he’s half vampire.” When Eric didn’t say anything, Pam added, “And Cataliades is here. Barry seems established. Who knows? If you were to ask… well, beg it as a favor.” Eric snarled softly, but Pam only laughed. “I can’t think of anyone other than Sookie…” but then Eric did.
“Hunter!” he said. “Hunter’s skills have improved. You know what he’s selling. He can walk into the heads of others and see things.”
“But vampires?” Pam asked. “You know he can’t see into vampires.”
“Neither can Sookie,” Eric pointed out. “And we don’t know for sure about Cataliades. What we do know is Hunter has adjusted, he can tell instinct from reality, and Rick trusts him.”
“Maybe you should take a little trip to Bon Temps yourself,” Pam suggested. “You know, another father/son talk?”
“We are both due to visit shortly,” Eric sniffed. “Brigid’s birthday.”
Pam shook her head, “And you’ll wait until then to try and fix this? Like Sookie finding out over birthday cake and balloons will make it better?”
There was a sound in the corridor. “I’ll take Hunter up there myself,” Eric decided. “This week.” He grinned at his child, “Thank you, Pam.”
“It’s why I’m your favorite child,” she teased.
Sookie walked in a moment later, Hunter in tow. “It’s up to you, of course,” she was saying, “but I think you should press them for better terms. Spending a whole month in Iowa is not going to be much fun.”
“It’s Ames,” Hunter answered, before turning to Eric and Pam. “I’ve been offered a pretty juicy contract to scan all the employees at one of Phoebe’s research facilities. She’s worried about trade secrets being leaked. It would mean staying up there for a month, but it’s a college town…”
“And not Louisiana,” Pam added. She was looking sympathetic. They all knew Hunter Savoy was missing Heidi.
“When would you need to leave?” Eric asked.
“She’d have to set things up. Next month?” Hunter answered. “In the meantime, there’s some smaller jobs I might take on.”
“Perhaps one for me?” and Eric smiled. “Or, should I say one for Rubio Hermosa?”
“I didn’t know Rubio was having problems.” Sookie’s suspicions made her remark sound sharper than it was.
“The same problems as before,” Eric assured her. “And the same service. Screening humans for this glamour. If we’re going to lose Hunter for a month, I’d like to have it done first.”
“But I could…” Sookie started to say.
“Do it yourself?” Eric guessed. “You could, but you need to work with Maxwell Lee and the media people to set up interviews and appearances. If we are going to head off these new laws, we need to start soon, don’t you think, Lover?” When she looked as if she’d protest, he added, “No one else knows how these things work better than you! You’ve done this already for New Orleans and for us. You’ve succeeded. Don’t worry, Sookie! We’ll see Rick soon. There’s Brigid’s birthday next month.”
“It’s just, I have this bad feeling,” and Sookie sniffed. “I know, I talked with them last night and Rick told me everything’s fine. But, Eric, don’t tell me that word about Brigid hasn’t started to float around.”
“You’ve mixed here at the Summit, so I know you hear rumors,” Pam shot back. “I haven’t heard anyone mention Brigid’s name. What have you heard?”
“Nothing,” Sookie confessed. “No rumors. But what about reports from Shreveport? What are you hearing from Rubio? Indira?”
“Nothing,” Pam echoed. “Of course, people recognize she’s different, but no one’s taking that as particularly unusual,” and Pam laughed. “I guess that’s the upside of living different all these years. No one’s surprised by what shows up in the Northman household.”
“Yes,” Eric said shortly, “Always good to be the sideshow of the vampire world.”
“Well, I guess I can understand how they’d be more accepting in Shreveport where we’re well known, but what about further away? Indira’s Area is further, and we haven’t spent a lot of time there. What’s she hearing? Anything?” Sookie looked directly at Pam.
“Nothing,” Pam replied. “She reports no unusual activity related to Rick or Brigid in her territory.” Sookie was about to follow up, asking about anything Indira might have confided to Pam in an unofficial way, but something about how Pam said it stopped her. Sookie recalled Isaiah’s words, that vampire couples rarely lasted and decided to ask Eric about it later. ‘If you’re speaking with him,’ she reminded herself.
“I’ll run Hunter up to Fangtasia myself if that will put your mind at rest,” Eric volunteered. “I’ll make it a quick trip, just long enough to catch up with the Packmaster and see our progeny.” He held out his hand to Sookie, waiting patiently until she reached back. He pulled her until she was sitting beside him. “I know you are worried, Älskade. I worry, too and it can be a great distraction. If I see anything, if I sense anything, I will share it with you. Do you trust me?”
He could tell he’d frustrated her. On some level she didn’t trust him, but now he’d put her on the spot in front of witnesses. “Of course, I do,” she conceded. He knew this didn’t settle things between them, but it was enough to set her back a bit. She’d be thinking about everything she knew of him and scolding herself for not giving him the benefit of the doubt. Already her eyes were a touch warmer. It took so little to make his mate happy. He thought about changing his mind and sharing Thalia’s mission, but just as quickly decided against it. The whole premise was a long shot. It was unlikely there was anything going on between the Cranes and anyone in Europe, but if there was, Thalia would tell him, and if that was the case, then it would be time to worry Sookie. She was young. Best to keep her eye on what she could control and free her to accomplish the tasks where she could make a difference.
Her hand strayed to his thigh and Eric shifted, purring. ‘Yes,’ he thought. ‘I’ve made the right choice.’ In his head, he saw his Father watching his Mother, his eyes benevolent. There wasn’t much his Father had been able to do to help lighten her burden. His Mother’s load had been heavy. She ran the house, managed servants and slaves, watched her own children and the children of their nobles sent for fostering. She arranged matches, social occasions and remembered ceremonies. Eric ran through his favorite memories, and each one involved his Mother either working or overseeing the work of others. Everyone knew if you couldn’t catch the King’s ear, it was just as effective to capture his Queen’s. Eric couldn’t count the number of times he’d find men and women sitting in the great kitchens, telling his Mother their concerns. He wasn’t sure when she told his Father, probably in their bed, but it was rare the person she agreed to help who didn’t benefit.
‘I will be like that, too,’ he thought, laying his hand over Sookie’s, drawing it a little higher. He knew if she really asked, there was nothing he could deny his mate. “I trust you, too,” he told her, watching her eyes widen. She’d been saying something about Hunter. He’d been too lost in his own thoughts to realize he’d interrupted her, and so he rumbled, “I’m sorry. Please, continue.”
“As I was saying,” and she half-turned her face. Eric watched her lips, enjoying the sensation of being mesmerized by her. He didn’t ever remember being so captured by anyone, at least, not like this. Of course, he’d been captured by Appius. He’d spent centuries hanging on his Maker’s every word and gesture, but that was different. His interest in Sookie was voluntary. There was no forced tie or Maker’s command between them. He thanked his lucky stars again that he had not found himself her Maker. He was sure it would have been disastrous. She would have written off every feeling, every nuance to his Maker’s bond. It would have been like the bond they forged in Rhodes, only worse. Of course, he recalled his despair at her turning, worrying she wouldn’t rise, worrying she would choose final death, but that was behind them.
She turned, the light capturing her perfect hair. Yes, he would do what he could to lessen her burden, protecting her in little ways. He would find ways to delight her and if she asked for favors for others, he would always give her preference. ‘As a King should,’ he assured himself, settling back and spreading his legs a little wider.
He didn’t see Pam’s eyes widen or the quick tilt of her smile. If he had, he would have recognized the look and not been surprised by what followed.