The air hung thickly around us. The tension was palpable and my heart was stuck in my throat as I stared at Sookie, so fragile and vulnerable as she slept on the bed. Godric and I had not left her side, never taking our eyes off of her as we sat beside her, guarding her with our lives.
“Why does she not wake?” I asked bitterly. It was almost intolerable that I was the one who had caused so many of her injuries. I had failed to protect her as a blood-bonded should. My eyes raked over her body and came to rest at the bandage on her throat where Nora had attempted to drain her in a frenzy of blood lust. The worst part of it, I was at Sookie’s vein as well, bringing her within an inch of the true death.
“The doctor said she will be very tired and slumber more than usual. We should let her rest until she wakes up on her own,” Godric whispered, the hurt radiating out of his own eyes. He felt the guilt too.
There was a light knock on the door, and I sensed my child Pamela waiting outside. I got up and cracked the door.
“I ah… I’m sorry to bother you, Eric, but I thought I should report that Ludwig’s assistant came and retrieved Talbot. He’s gone now.”
“Good.” That was one less problem I had to worry about.
“Also, I went outside to investigate where the witch had been dragged away, but my sense of smell just isn’t as good as yours. I can’t confirm who did it.”
“I think we can conclude who’s responsible without a scent,” I hissed looking over at Godric. “The question is why would Nora want the witch?”
Godric stood to his feet and put his hand on his chin, considering his words as usual before he spoke. It has always been his way, unless he was angry. The things I have heard come out of my makers mouth when he was cross would cause a two-dollar whore to cover her ears and pray for a bar of soap to wash his mouth out. After a moment of consideration he began to speak, “the only use witches have ever had for vampires are for resurrection ceremonies. Sometimes they are hired for other minor things, but no other creature can conjure the magic required for the Sanguinista resurrection.”
“You think she is going to try and resurrect Angur again?” Pam said with a hint of worry apparent in her otherwise confident voice.
“I do not think so,” Godric shook his head and stared out of the window, remembering his captivity no doubt. “Angur’s resurrection was unique and required a blood-sibling host, a child’s blood, and a maker’s calling. All of these things were required for him since none of his blood existed to be used in the ritual. Since Angur’s maker is now dead he can never be resurrected again.”
“I never knew the Sanguinista resurrection was so complicated,” Pam said.
“Usually it is not,” Godric replied. “With a normal resurrection all you need is a small amount of blood and the deceased vampire manifests back in his old body.” Godric shifted on his feet and looked over at me. “I feel as if I have failed, for I should have taught you about the ways of the Sanguinista despite my aversion for that faction. Being armed with knowledge is never a bad thing.”
“Do not ever apologize, broder. You have taught me many things, including a millennium of honor. But there is no doubt Nora is well versed in their ways from her association with Salome. Whatever her motives for capturing the witch may be, her vampire gift will serve her well.” Nora had a uniquely powerful glamour. It was one of her gifts, just as flight and a powerful sense of smell were mine.
“That isn’t all,” Pam said stepping in the room and lowering her voice so she didn’t disturb Sookie. “The stone we brought to trade for Godric, the one with the ‘B’ has been completely destroyed, shattered. It must have happened during the battle.”
“Then there is only one stone left,” I hissed, thinking aloud. If we ever wished to one day reach the other world as we had planned long ago, then the last stone was our only chance. Should it be destroyed, all hope will be lost.
“Where is the last stone?” Godric asked, his thinking along the same lines as mine.
“It is at the river house, along with Adele,” my heart fell heavy in my chest. “And Nora has access to the house since she stayed there last night before we came here to battle.”
Godric’s eyebrows arched up in concern, and he looked over at Sookie, torn between going to rescue her Grandmother and staying to protect her. I felt that same feeling.
“I will go,” Pamela said. “I will go back to the river house and retrieve the stone and see to Adele’s safety.”
We both looked over at Pamela, our saving grace, my brave child. I nodded to her. “I do not believe it wise to inform the Grandmother yet of Sookie’s injuries. She is an elder. I have heard the strength of the human heart can fail in old humans when they hear of injured or lost loved ones.”
“She will know Sookie is injured when I bring her back here,” Pam reasoned.
“Take her back to the safe-house near Shreveport, not the one Sookie stayed in. Take her to the one near Fangtasia. Nora does not know the location nor does she have access. That is the safest place to keep her and the stone for the time being and you will be able to draw a bead on activities in Area 5 from there. I need you in Shreveport making sure everything is running smoothly.”
“That is a wise course of action,” Godric said. “Call us when you arrive at the river house to let us know that everything is going according to plan.”
“Do you want me to contact Isabel and inform her that you are alive?” Pam asked.
Godric stood silently for a moment and stared longingly at Sookie. “On the contrary,” he began. “I prefer to remain ‘dead’ to the supernatural community for as long as possible. Dr. Ludwig, the Magister, and Nora are already aware that I live. It will not be long before word spreads. But for the next few nights, I want to enjoy Sookie before I decide what I am going to do about my status.”
One of us needed to go outside and investigate where the witch had been dragged away. I felt that Godric deserved this time with Sookie more than I did, despite the fact that I could barely stand the thought of leaving the room. I started to step towards the door to follow Pam out when Godric spoke.
“Eric, no,” he muttered. “You stay. I will go.”
“You deserve to stay more than I. You have been separated from her for far too long.”
“I know,” he smiled, a hint of that age-old sadness that I was used to seeing etched across his otherwise serene features made him seem weary. “But I need to go outside and think. The cool night air often helps me clear my mind. I will be back soon and I feel as secure with you in here as if I were offering her my own protection. Besides, I am covered in grime and my own dried blood. I do not want her to see me like this when she wakes. I will be back soon.”
It was true, he looked horrible, but he had no injuries. They had been healed as if he had fed but I dared not ask him about it. He would tell me if he felt like sharing. Despite his lack of injuries, he had been through much. There was a layer of his own blood caked on his face and body, dried from several days of build up. I shuddered thinking of the horrors that my maker must have endured during his captivity. I was not surprised that he needed a moment to himself but Godric was strong, and he had Sookie and I at his side to offer our love and support.
After he left, I turned back to Sookie. She was spread out helpless in the bed. It would seem that the only one of us in this tri-bonding who has come out unscathed was me, though I deserved much more than the beating Godric gave me at his maker’s command.
A heavy weight bore down on me and I cursed under my breath. I have never been one to regret my actions but I felt as if everything was my fault, this entire mess. From the moment I let Godric leave the safe-house alone to investigate the break in at Fangtasia. Then there was my sloppy assessment of his faked death. I practically gave him up for dead the moment I walked into the basement. My mistakes did not end there. I allowed Nora into our lives, allowed her around my mate, put Sookie in danger despite all the signs that Nora was unstable. Then I brought Sookie to Jackson knowing there was a good chance Angur would be able to control Godric. My own lack of ability to strategize and plan ahead was apparent when I didn’t consider the fact that Angur could force Godric to command me to harm Sookie as well. Now here we were. Godric has been through gods knows what and Sookie lay on the bed unconscious with lemon poisoning, not even able to take my blood to heal her. The entire situation was messed up in the worst way and I could not blame anyone but myself. Yea, I’m some protector.
“Eric,” Sookie’s voice came in a quiet rasp as her eyelids began to flutter open. It was the most beautiful sound I had ever heard. “Eric, is that you?”
“Yes, Lover.” I scooted closer to her and put my hand on hers. “I am here.”
She slightly turned and looked at me. I could see her eyes focusing through a glazed over film. “I heard talking.”
She tried to sit up a little and grimaced, her eyes squinting tightly closed.
“Sookie, lay down!” I said, gently putting my hand on her shoulder. My voice came out cracked and full of emotion. “Do not try to get up. You are injured.”
“Godric,” she moaned. “I can feel Godric over the bond.”
“Yes, Godric is fine. He is more than fine thanks to you.”
She looked around the room. “Where is he? I want to see him. Oh god, Eric. I need to see him. I’ve missed him so much.”
“He is outside checking the perimeter. He’ll be back in a few minutes, Lover.”
She relaxed back into the pillows, sighing and closing her eyes. I looked away. She didn’t even want me. She knew I was unworthy. I was no good for her.
When I looked back up to her face she was staring wide-eyed at me. “Don’t even…” She said, furrowing her brow. She reached her hand up towards my face and I drew closer, like a moth to a flame, unable to resist.
“Sookie,” I breathed as her hand intertwined in my hair.
“Don’t you dare blame yourself.” She eased my head closer and I became putty in her hand as it came down to cup my cheek. “Listen to me.”
“It’s my fault…” I said closing my eyes.
“Shut up,” my eyes shot open. No one has ever told me to shut up and I nearly gasped. “You handled a screwed up situation with grace and guess what—we’re all alive.”
“That’s right,” she continued. “We’re all alive and we’re all gonna recover just fine. How many others can say the same after facing a 3500 year old vampire, a resurrected monster, and a back-stabbing sibling in the midst of it all? Who else do you know who has come out of a situation like this alive?”
I blinked again.
“God Eric, I’m so lucky to have someone like you.”
She pulled my face to hers and kissed me tenderly. Her soft velvet lips brushed against mine and I felt her warmth shoot through me like a blissful tingle.
She grimaced and I quickly sat up. “Did I hurt you?” I said desperately, raking my eyes down her body, looking for an injury. My eyes fell on the arm in the sling, still broken. Gods I needed to give her my blood. What the hell was Dr. Ludwig talking about she didn’t need vampire blood for 24 hours. I swear that troll loves to torture me.
She giggled. “No, I’m just a little sore. I’ll be fine. By the way…”
My eyes locked on hers.
“I love you, Eric.”
I couldn’t help but let out a long exhale of breath.
I wiped the steam off the mirror and stared at myself. The numbness was back. I stood motionless, just staring at my reflection as it stared back. Blank eyes, bottomless pits; the storm in them had subsided.
I reached up and ran my hand through dark, wet hair and gave it a good tug. Sookie used to run her hands through my hair. But that was before; before I nearly killed her. The guilt gnawed at me, so I buried it deep along with everything else.
I took a deep, unnecessary breath. I needed to be the vampire she deserved, the one she relied on to hold her and love her—protect her. And I could be that. I would be that. But I needed a minute to absorb everything that had happened.
My eyes fell to the necklace tattoo across my collarbone. It symbolized protection. I was a warrior in my tribe, a great protector and I earned that tattoo two millennia ago. I laughed disgustedly under my breath.
My fist moved quick as lightening to the bathroom mirror and smashed it, causing shards to fall and clink to the counter. I withdrew my hand and balled it up, looking at it as the cuts slowly sealed themselves, wiping away any evidence of my violent outburst.
I looked back in the mirror, frowning. Only half of my face was visible on the cracked and shattered glass. I did not want to see myself so I smashed that up too.
Eric blames himself. How ironic since it was I who insisted on going to Fangtasia alone, practically threatening him with a maker’s command. And it was I who allowed myself to be captured. I should have fought. I should have known how things might end if Angur was resurrected. Now Sookie lies in a bed, fighting for her life from injuries she sustained from me and me alone. From my hands, from my commands, from my poor judgment. No, my child holds no fault in this great injustice.
I blamed myself, but I will not feel sorrow for myself. I will learn from this experience as I always have. I may not like what happened but I will learn in order to ensure the future survival of Eric and Sookie.
I will never leave them again…
Sookie will never be harmed again…
And the spirits help anyone who ever threatens what is mine.
I felt my fangs slide out of my gums. Control yourself Godric. What would Sookie think should she see this side of you? The side known as Death; the beast who has slumbered for so long. Now he rages, released during my captivity, during my crippling fury.
I closed my weary eyes. I don’t know how to cage him again.
I steadied myself against the counter, letting it support me as I hunched over. I slammed my fist down on the marble sink, causing it to crack.
I silently cursed.
I am too old. My mind does not think like others anymore. If truth be told, it never has, even when I was young. Full of so much hate for so long. Then regret and self-loathing. And now… a blinding fear of losing Sookie. Maybe not tonight or tomorrow… but what if she gets hurt again? The beast raged, paced within, growled and snarled at the thought of Sookie being hurt.
The numbness was gone and I found myself left with this thing. This thing that threatened to unleash the fire of hell on the world in order to protect what was mine.
It frightened me. I preferred the numbness.
I looked down at my naked body, still dripping wet from the shower. I had no clothes so I wrapped a towel around my waist.
Grabbing Eric’s cell phone, I turned towards the bathroom door. I had taken the phone in order to receive Pam’s call. I didn’t want the ringing to disturb Sookie while she rested.
I made my way across the mansion, barefoot, wrapped only in a towel and headed towards the bedroom Sookie and Eric were in. I hoped I could find clothes in there, perhaps in the closet. I wanted to look my best when Sookie woke up. I wanted to show her I was strong and able to protect her.
I sighed in relief when the phone started ringing and I saw Pam’s number on the display.
“My Grandchild,” I answered. “I hope all is well at the river house.”
There was only silence followed by a muffled sound and I started to become worried. “Grandsire?”
I relaxed when I heard Pamela’s voice.
“Yes, it is I. Godric. Tell me Pam, is Adele well?”
“Yes, she’s fine.” There was another long pause. “I am reporting in as you asked me.”
“I am relieved that she is safe. The dawn is soon approaching and the drive to Shreveport is over four hours,” I said. “You will not have time to transport Adele to the safe-house before the sun is upon you.”
There was another pause followed by static.
“Pamela? Have you heard me, child?”
“Sorry the reception is awful. There is a storm over here on the Mississippi river that is caus…” static, “…suggest we do?”
“You can delete Nora’s access code to the river house. I recommend bedding down there for the day and leaving for Shreveport at sunset tomorrow.”
“Good plan. I’m dele…” static, “…access now. The news said the storm…” static, “…all day, tornadoes and everything. There’s a few cell phone towers down already. It’s…” static, “…hit Jackson in about an hour.”
“Very well. Call me tomorrow when you rise if you still have cell phone service.”
The phone went dead and there was only static. I cursed inside. We needed to keep the lines of communication open. My child Nora was up to something and I knew not what her intentions were. It stung me to the bone to know one of my own had betrayed our blood-line.
I heard the loud crack of thunder outside and knew the beginning of the storm that Pamela spoke of would soon be upon us. If the mansion lost power the security system would go down, but I had no doubt in my mind about my ability to protect Sookie; modern technology or not.
I took a deep breath when I came upon the bedroom Sookie was in. I could hardly bear to see her lying in the bed unconscious, but the doctor said she would sleep for awhile. So I was surprised when I opened the door to find her awake and quietly talking to Eric.
“Sookie,” I said rushing to her, forgetting that I was only wrapped in a towel at the waist.
Her eyes widened and she tried to sit up. “Godric!” Her voice sounded so delighted when she said my name. I had expected her to be slightly wary after tonight’s events. “I can’t sit up. Please bend down here so I can put my arms around you! I can’t believe it!”
In my enthusiasm, I snaked my arms under her back and lifted her slightly, making her groan out in pain.
“Oh my love, I am sorry!” I said, easing her back down to the bed. “Please forgive me. I did not mean to hurt you further.”
She didn’t let go of my shoulders and looked up at me smiling. “Believe me, you aren’t hurting me. I just want to feel your arms around me!”
“I would give you my blood, but the doctor said your lemon poisoning would counteract the effects for at least 24 hours.”
I pulled her blanket aside.
“Do you have any other injuries besides your broken arm and throat?” I said running my hands up the skin of her legs.
“I’m a little sore but other than that, I don’t think so.”
“Are you sure,” I said running both my hands under her gown and up the side of her body. It was not meant as a sexual act. I was truly looking for injuries. I wanted to make sure she was okay but she gasped and squealed when my hands ran all over skin, which only caused me to still and look at her face. I realized what I was doing. One of my hands was on the side of her breast and the other was on her hip. She was completely naked under the gown.
I felt disgusted with myself when my erection hardened and caused a tent in the towel around my waist. The last thing Sookie needed was my sexual advances when she was trying to heal.
I withdrew my hands and cleared my throat. “The rest of your body seems to have fared well.”
I spread the blanket back over her and sat down beside her on the bed, making sure that I bunched up part of the covers to hide the evidence of my arousal.
“I missed you so much, Godric,” she whispered, tears forming at the corner of her eyes. “After that night, it was awful…”
“Shhh,” I said wiping a tear off her cheek. “It is over now, my love. I vow to you that I will never let anything like that happen again.”
“She says that Nora squirted a bottle of lemon juice in her mouth when we were fighting Edgington,” Eric hissed, picking up one of her hands and kissing the back. “I will destroy Nora for this. She had planned it before she returned to the mansion, knew what she was going to do even when she was promising Sookie that she was here to help.”
“Nora has spiraled so far away from us, she no longer feels a protective attachment to her blood-line,” I said in regret. “If she did it would be almost instinctual to protect her maker’s bonded.”
Sookie’s eyes began to drift shut, she was exhausted. But they suddenly sprang open. “Gran!”
“Do not fear, my love. I just spoke to Pamela. She is with Adele and your Grandmother is safe. Nora’s access has been removed and they are going to another safe-house at first dark tomorrow.”
“Thank goodness,” she mumbled as her eyes began to close again.
“Rest, my love. We shall be here when you wake. Then we will give you blood to heal your wounds. Eric and I will take care of you. We will protect you.”
Eric was nodding his head in agreement. “And we will kill anyone who touches you.”
Sookie mumbled something incoherent, her eyes completely closed. There was a loud crack of thunder outside. “Nora, the stones!” She said loudly, her eyes shooting open.
“Shhh, Nora will not harm you. I vow to you,” I tried to assure her as I caressed her hair. “Pamela has the last stone at the river house.”
Her eyes closed again.
“Nora said Lorena is after me because I killed Bill,” she whispered quietly falling back into her slumber. “Nora, Lorena, because of Bill.”