“No,” Sookie said shaking her head. “Her brain is a minefield but I can discern the different signatures. I think Bill has a heightened form of persuasive gifts.”
“Of what house does his line originate,” Kristian asked me or rather the vault of information that put dedicated annals to shame.
“His Maker was a third generation Impurus coming from the house of Audovacar,” I recalled from his file. The ancient German house had a similar stand to the Impurus as ours except they did not enforce the culling of them, they merely refused to acknowledge them as theirs.
“He does not strike me as one that could come from the vigilant and wealthy,” my Maker discerned. The Audovacars were known for their impressive amount of coin and careful maintenance of it. They acted mostly as the supernatural world’s gold reserve and bankers until the Great Reveal, though most Sanguine houses had remained loyal to their original creditors. The Audovacars held no records of their so called ‘bastards’ so it was easy enough for any Impurus to claim their origin to be of their line. With a simple petition for residency such records would and could not be checked as attentively as the Audovacars guarded their wealth.
“I can demand a blood draw for his new position. He can’t draw suspicion to himself by refusing,” I offered. Modern science didn’t elude our own progress through time. Our DNA was different to that of our original human form but familiarity in the blood could be detected. It lacked the accuracy of a human paternity test but it would point us in the right direction. When there were no objections I practiced the shrug and sentence I would use when instructing Compton himself, “New security demands ever since the attacks.”
“And when it comes to light Compton is not of the line he claims…” my uncle spoke with a rhetoric that reminded me of the lessons he coaxed me through when I was first learning the manipulations of political craft.
“Then he and I will have a nice heart to heart, where I reveal to the poor sod that his Maker has been deceiving him of his true lineage all this time and what a giant bitch she must have been,” I finished like the star pupil I was back then. Godric gave me an encouraging smile and thankfully refrained from the loving pat on my head that always had come along with it. Aside from that little had changed between then and now as I couldn’t help but throw in a sentence of insubordination to diminish the flawless delivery of the previous one. “And maybe after we can like, totally, braid each other’s hair and talk about boys.”
Pam’s dry delivery indicated she was clearly joking when she suggested she and Bill Compton should spend the evening braiding each other’s hair and talk about boys but my eyes couldn’t help but light up at the prospect of just that. Sans the Civil War veteran, of course.
“Sookie, let’s find you something else to wear,” the style queen herself said as she gestured disapprovingly to the minute droplets of blood that had stained the bright yellow of my dress. I smiled appreciatively knowing her display of disdain was merely a ruse to allow me to catch my breath without the scrutiny of her oppressive family. I gladly extracted myself from Eric’s iron death grip in favour of the expansive rooms of Pam’s closet and perhaps padded out behind her with a little bit too much pep in my step.
“Do you still have my pyjamas here?” I asked my friend while she rummaged through what was known as the ‘casual’ closet in an effort to find me something to wear. There was no use looking in one of her other closets as everything was tailored to the insanely small measurements of her waist that years of corsets had inflicted upon her.
“You may be injured, Sookie Stackhouse,” she said pointedly. “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to allow you to slum it in your pyjamas.”
“I wasn’t planning on going anywhere.”
I was becoming rather annoyed with the upturned brow that was being thrown around amongst the Aurelies in lieu of asking an actual question so I remained defiantly silent in return. Pam’s eyes narrowed with scrutiny before she asked, “What about Eric?”
“I think we could use some time apart,” I shrugged, but those damn eyebrows informed me she wasn’t having my nonchalance. “I could use some time to myself,” I adjusted.
“I don’t blame you,” Pam said with a flourish when she pulled the silk pyjama set from their hiding place. “It can be quite overwhelming while keeping up with the Aurelie’s and this isn’t even the full contingent.”
“Can we just do a sleepover for old times’ sake?” I asked softly. “Just you and me?”
“You’ve come up with worse propositions,” she shrugged back and displayed her agreement by holding up the identical set of sleepwear in light blue to her own body. “Is my cousin’s dick not as enticing as you thought? I thought he’d be packing something impressive.”
I should have been used to her crass speech that slipped out in the private realm of our conversations, but I was shocked regardless. Only to add to my mortification, the owner of the discussed appendage was in front of me in seconds growling at Pam in a low reverberation. I held him back by his waist foolishly thinking that might stop him but at least it kept him calm.
“Eric, Pam didn’t do anything wrong,” I sighed out, and was glad to feel the tension that had overtaken his body die down before the parental units of both fair-haired Sanguines entered the room. Thankfully this closet was larger than my childhood bedroom so there was ample space to accommodate the curious looks that were bouncing around.
“Did you?” Kristian asked me with an amused grin to which I could only shake my head in denial with equal cheek.
“Everybody out,” Pam finally demanded while running everyone but me and Eric out of the room. “I’ll go find us one of those horrible chick flicks you like to watch,” she finished before closing the door on us. Pam had purposefully waited to fling that at my face knowing the inevitable roll of my eyes would be directed at a solidly closed door. She was the one who enjoyed those predictable movies more than me, but if I ever left the movie choice solely up to her we’d be watching animated Barbie shows all night.
“What did she say, Sookie?” Eric demanded as soon as we were alone.
“It’s of absolute unimportance,” I replied bunching the silk fabric of my intended outfit in my hands. At the sound of the rustling fabrics, he carefully pried them out of my grasp before setting it down on the island in the middle of the room. I hoped to be done with the conversation, but the scrutiny remained unchanged upon his face as his body moved closely into mine. “Ask her if you want, I don’t really care. I’m not repeating it, she was just being her salacious self.”
“She should know you’re mine,” Eric breathed out heavily as he nipped at the lobe of my ear before his lips grazed gently over the sensitised area surrounding it. A moan escaped from my lips to his ears at the feel of it, and I barely held my wits as I answered, “Pam wasn’t bringing anything of mine into question.”
His eyes sought out mine again with that characteristic twinkle in his eyes that had me refusing to believe anything had ever died inside this man. It signified life in every way. “She doubts my virility?”
“That would be a first for you, wouldn’t it?” I returned with the same mischief that resonated from his probing gaze and I couldn’t contain the giggles that surfaced at the sight of his quirked brows.
“Indeed,” he murmured huskily into my ear and pulled me closer to his body, demonstrating exactly the sum of his virility, and it was so impressive I discovered I was the one who was going to be having a hard time if I intended to continue to condition him through withholding of sex. Apparently I’d only be punishing myself in that equation.
“I’m sure to tell her how wrong she was tonight,” I managed to strangle out in some sort of even tone of voice. My heightened heart rate had not gone unnoticed by him, nor the pink tinge of my face even if we were surrounded by more pink than a cloud of candy floss.
“Tonight?” he questioned against my lips before his pressed firmly again. Eric had clearly been making other plans and I was pretty sure it pertained me downing gallons of his blood till he was satisfied he could read me like an open book.
“I’m staying here,” I answered when I regained the necessary air he always tended to steal away from me in a heated kiss. “Pam and I are having a slumber party.”
I nearly fell backwards with the sudden detachment of his body from mine as he regarded me with even more scrutiny than when I was injured. “You’re not invited,” I added to simply stop the images forming in his mind. Like any man’s mind with a pulse that I had had the ‘courtesy’ of reading, I knew where his thoughts were straying to, decidedly close to a gutter. With the supplementation of my words, his face had turned from amusement to a hard set chiselled one instead.
“You’re not coming home with me?” he asked with a hint of aggression that was merely there to mask the hurt I had unintentionally caused with my frugal explanation.
“My life’s a mess, Eric,” I tried to explain but the hard set of his jaw was yet to relent. “I’ve only spoken to my brother for a few minutes to know he’s safe, my Gran’s house is falling to rubble, and it’s been less than twenty-four hours since I discovered I’m not entirely human…”
“I’m sorry,” he interrupted my ramble of all the uprooted things in my life. It wasn’t perfunctory in its gesture, Eric truly felt remorse as if he were somehow responsible for it all. “I never…”
“Don’t,” I demanded with my index finger pressing firmly against his lips stilling the movement of his intended words. A small smile emerged behind it and he gave my finger a soft kiss, painting it with the remnants of my lip balm. “Eric, you’re the best thing in my life right now,” I confessed encouraging that small smile to reach wide into his eyes. “I’m not ready for the bubble to burst yet. I want to keep this simple and pure for as long as we can.”
“Let me be there for you,” he pleaded, his fingers running through my hair again. It was tempting to just say yes, to let him be the support system, but my entire world seemed to revolve around him already, he couldn’t be the world too. I needed something to call my own for now.
“You already are, more than you know,” I returned, resting my forehead to the top of his chest and his arms rested loosely over my back sheltering me in his encompassing embrace. “I’m not running away, just picking up the pieces that are laying idle.”
“Me taking your blood,” I finished for him and with his continued silence I offered, “I’d take it right now if that’s what made you happy but we both know there’s more to it than that. I fear Aelia might plan an entire ceremony around it.”
“Let’s run away to Vegas,” he joked and I couldn’t help but giggle along with the deep chuckle that vibrated from his chest to my face. It honestly wasn’t a bad idea, if you disregarded the thought of taking blood in front of an Elvis impersonator, but simply the thought of the two us escaping the constant scrutiny around us.
“I bought a lake house a few years back when I resigned to the fact I wouldn’t ever get my Gran’s home back,” I said in counter proposal. “It’s not much, near Bon Temps, but it is private and easy to secure. How about you meet me there tomorrow night? Just you, me, and a whole host of security men.”
“As long as I’m the only one giving you my blood, I think I can live with that,” he returned with a soft kiss to the base of my hairline.
“Living?” I questioned with an amused smile but his face turned gravely serious when I had expected him to join me in my merrymaking.
“That’s what it’s like around you,” he confessed. “I thought I would get the sensation back with my memories but it only returned by your side. With you I’m truly alive again.”
My heels were off the ground instantly as I leaned into the balls of my feet to reach up to those serious lips which he lowered to meet my intent. This kiss was unlike any other that we had shared so far, for we were no longer hiding who we were to each other. My arms wrapped round his neck while his tongue sought out my own without fear of bloodshed. Inevitably my feet gave way under the intense sensation and he held me firm to his chest.
His lips continued to explore one side of my neck as I panted out, searching for new breaths. His tongue swiped lightly over the beating drum that announced the excitement that always seemed to rise between us, my heart palpating energetically for the both of us. “Go ahead,” I whispered to his ear causing him to stiffen his hold on me.
With his loosening grip my feet fell flatly to the floor again as he looked down on me in wonder. “What are you saying?” he asked for clarification. The bravado of the moment escaped me, I had wanted to feel what it was to nourish him like that. It had felt right at the time, but I no longer understood the implications anymore.
“I wanted you to drink from me,” I said knowing the heat that had been flushing my face now raged on in embarrassment.
“Wanted?” he returned with a whisper, the disappointment of the word existing in the past tense clearly legible in those pained eyes.
“Want,” I returned softly. “I just don’t know what it all entails anymore… everything I’ve ever known about blood sharing and bonding doesn’t make sense any longer, at least not between us.”
He trailed the soft hairs of my cheek with the back of his index finger flaring up little goose bumps from my flesh. “Maybe you should ask Aelia to join you tonight,” he said with a small sigh. “She seems to be the leading expert on these matters.”
“No,” I shook my head in accordance to the statement; this evening would be for me and Pam. Escaping to a past with less excitement. “I think I’ll ask Godric to join me in Bon Temps tomorrow. He doesn’t seem to mind the sun as much.”
“I’ll happily blister red for you,” he offered with the kindest smile that made me reconsider my set intentions all over again.
“You’re relentless, Mr. Northman,” I returned with reprimand, but my further admonishing was silenced with another heated kiss in which we both happily lost ourselves and escaped the burdens of our surroundings.
“This is real,” he murmured as if only to reassure himself.
“Yeah it is,” I couldn’t help but agree with a wide smile.
We never got round to braiding each other’s hair but we did talk of boys. Or men rather. Though our slumber party was initially inspired from my need to breathe without one constantly at my side, by the time my head went to rest I found myself missing that sudden familiar presence. I could pretend all I liked that things weren’t complicated and everything was exactly as it once was, but undeniable changes had taken place.
“Are you ready to leave?” Godric’s tentative voice asked of me. I was still lost in thought so he had to ask me again before I fully recognised his presence. I was still mentally unloading every stray thought I had found in my most recent foray into Staci’s mind over lunch. When the pen finally left the overfilled pad I looked up to see him standing patiently wrapped in a hooded sweater with grey and bright green vertical stripes.
To prove that my own mind was only just starting up again, without thought I blurted out, “You look like a kid.” My hand clasped firmly over my mouth with the offensive statement but Godric merely let out an amused chuckle.
“Do not apologise,” he voiced when my mouth opened to attempt to do just that. “It is the truth, I was a child by today’s standards when turned.”
“I’m surprised Pam lets you get away with wearing that,” I said, gesturing at the alarmingly bright hoodie hoping to divert attention from my unfiltered earlier comment. He may have been okay with truths randomly spurting out of my mouth but I wasn’t.
His smile grew wider with a mischievous glean to his eyes before answering, “I deliberately try to find the most offensive ones whenever I visit with Pamela. It is payback for all the defiance she unleashed on me in her rearing. Then, they are also particularly effective in hiding from the sun.”
“Better you than me,” I quipped back. I had long ago figured out my life would be far safer if I simply let Pam call the shots when it came to all things fashion. He returned my small smile before his face fell stoic again as he started scanning the many things I had written out. I fully understood now why Eric was so excited to see a proof of happiness on Godric’s face. There was just so much more to him with that sign of life on the surface. I couldn’t bare it either if that was the only side of Godric I ever got to see.
“Things went well with Staci, I see,” he commented from deep thought as he was surely making similar connections to my own.
“Yes,” I answered while gathering the last of my things. We exited the small office of the restaurant that had been especially reserved for me. I came here often enough with Pam who had invested heavily in its inception so the staff took little notice of us as we walked the back hallways towards the staff entrance.
With an okay from Shahbaz, who stood waiting by the door, we made our way to the unremarkable sedan with slightly tinted windows.
“What have you uncovered for me then my little telepath,” the Guard asked when all the doors closed in on us.
“Yours?” I taunted with a wink. “Better not let Eric in on that secret.”
A low chuckle escaped from Godric’s voice before Shahbaz joined in till my mood fell more serious with what I had uncovered from Staci’s mind. “Andre was a sacrifice,” I started to explain from the scraps of stray observations I managed to detect in the hold that was Staci’s mind. “Sophie Anne’s house-”
“The Zosime,” Godric supplied.
“Yes, the Zosime. They didn’t want to play with whomever is pulling at Bill’s strings,” I recalled. “They were hoping to force her into compliance by taking out her favoured child.”
“The fact that he contributes quite effectively to Pam’s reign must have been a convenient side effect,” Shahbaz noted.
“Staci tainted his dinner with faery blood,” I elaborated. “It’s why his control was so poorly held.”
“This puts evidence to your theory that whomever is behind this, is like you,” Godric spoke appreciatively. “Have you found anything that could reveal his or her identity?”
Regrettably I shook my head. “The imprint on her brain is strongest concerning him or her, it’s like the impenetrable nervous system where the rest of the glamour is held from. For all we know the information revealed from Staci’s mind is planted.”
“We shall regard it carefully, the Zosime are long standing allies,” Godric agreed to which I gave an appreciative nod. “Anything else of importance?”
“They consider me an in to your inner circle through Eric. They have commanded her to do everything possible to befriend me.” I paused momentarily to stare at the ends of my hair as I contemplated my next statement. “They don’t know what I am,” I shrugged even though that information had been a relief to uncover, my scepticism to the validity of the information kept me cautious.
“This is why you question the validity of the uncovered information,” Godric noted.
“Yeah,” I whispered, the disappointment not lost to the others. “If you open up a media file on me, what the people of Bon Temps have described me as you would know.”
“If you knew what you were looking for,” Shahbaz added. “They would know exactly what you are.”
Silence settled over the possible implications but my thoughts were somewhat elsewhere.
“I fear for Staci’s safety,” I shared with concern as we were nearing Bon Temps.
“How so?” Shahbaz asked curiously.
“Her mind is getting more difficult to read,” I explained. “There is not much room for her to take on any more of their specific mind holds. I worry what will become of her when it does.”
“They were happy to sacrifice her if that meant taking out André,” Godric noted considerably. I had a quick catch-up to do with the status of a Sanguine companion, but I was informed that André would have been severely punished, most likely with death by drinking from me without permission. Staci would have been banished from court and glamoured to not remember a thing but she would be a loose end that would surely be cleaned up in an unsavoury manner officiously. Godric seemed to share my concerns, “Perhaps whoever is addling her mind is already aware of this, grooming the next mark. You must tell me when the time is near; I shall claim Staci as my own.”
“You are not known for this type of behaviour, Aurelie,” Shahbaz spoke carefully. I knew from Pam it was common enough for the Sanguine to claim the pets or companions of the Impurus as their own. Sometimes out of charity for the maltreatment of the pet but more often than not simply because they liked the look or smell of one.
“Things change,” Godric shrugged. “I have sired a child when I never intended too. Perhaps I am finally moving with the times, Shahbaz. And I insist you address me as Godric we have known each other too long for you not to do so.”
“Times certainly are changing,” Shahbaz remarked with a sly smile that seemed to infect even Godric’s serious stance.
A/N: Although Staci doesn’t have much of a speaking part yet I did conjure up a banner for her so you have an idea for who she is.
Special thanks to MsBuffy for the editing on this though I did add a bit after so any lingering mistakes as ever are my own. She has been kind enough to take on the editing of my chapters on all my stories as my work is piling up and this allows me to post as frequently as possible. Saying that, there will unfortunately only be one more chapter on this story till the New Year. It’s a combination of holidays, workload and wishing to enjoy my holidays as simply holidays. There will be some stocking stuffers and outtakes but on the multi chapter stories it will be quiet in the latter weeks of December. I hope you will all understand and patiently await what’s to come.
Next time Eric prepares for his special evening with Sookie…