“How well do you know Tulla?”
I regarded her carefully, where she carried that studious face of hers that wasn’t unlike that of my Maker’s when he wanted me to understand something by deducing it from the information placed in front of me.
“She’s the black sheep of the family,” I explained. “Her Maker favoured Godric over her, but she does not seem to mind.”
“She’s different,” Sookie spoke carefully, not hinting at anything more and I lacked words to add to that.
“What was it like?” I asked after letting my mind wander over the events of the early morning that would pull this caution from Sookie before clarifying, “Staci’s mind.”
I remembered the muddled state of my amnesia and Sookie had known it through another, her generous spirit had cried for me then, that my Maker had encouraged me to continue to forget and I dreaded to think an innocent girl was stuck in that forever. Perhaps that was why Godric had taken such an avid interest in her care, to atone for what he had gotten wrong with me.
“Hollow,” she whispered while staring at the sky devoid of clouds through the side window, her breath causing condensation on the glass before her eyes came to briefly meet mine. “All she remembers is the love and worship she felt for Bill, and how he was ripped to shreds.”
“I’m sorry you had to witness that,” I could feel the pain it caused inside and sought to comfort her, but she rejected it, feeling it valid to feel sadness over such thoughts. She was right in that sense, not all the pain could simply magically be erased away because we willed it so. “Do you at least know who it was?”
She held her lips tightly, draining them of their natural pink flush, before answering succinctly, “Andre.”
A feeling of dread settled over us both as I slowly came to understand, shedding new light on her veiled conversation with Pam that encouraged the invite to the Impurus and his Sanguine Maker. Her next spoken words, however, sent a chill down my spine and for the first time since turning vampire, I shivered with that coldness while her deduction settled in my mind and connected the loose dots. Tulla’s outsider status, the unaccompanied flights making her permanent whereabouts unknown, the opportune timing of her arrival, and the strangely effective way she brought Staci to calm without a hint of glamour. Sookie voiced the words as they entered my mind, “What if it’s her, Eric?”
It had been quite some time since I last held bare feminine flesh under my fingertips. We had to be quiet just as we had been the first time it occurred and the many times after that. The whiff of shame still surrounded it even though it should never have been there, my hands could never help themselves around her either. Yearning for her touch, but eventually it was that which took her away from me.
“We should have done this much sooner,” she whispered while caressing the small and faint hairs on my fingers.
“We really should have,” I chuckled in agreement, kissing the top of her spine. I was hard again and that only reinforced that statement while it probed into the soft crease of her behind. “Turn around.”
“What if I don’t feel like moving,” she teased.
“Suit yourself,” I grinned entering her from behind instead, flipping her on all fours in the process, she responded to that position like no other, and I would be remiss in denying that I particularly enjoyed the vantage point and sensation it caused to have her at my mercy like that.
The door shifted open in front of us and we were caught by wide eyes of innocence, reverting us back to the time that first happened and ended between us. Unlike our Lucius, embarrassment overtook Staci, and caused her to flee. She didn’t pull up a chair to observe us either, or pull out a cock to stroke at languidly after telling us to continue. The fear, however, had remained that Tulla would be sent away again the moment I woke from my rest to a Sanguine finishing school while our shared ‘Maker’ concentrated solely on my rearing, never to speak of the incident again.
“Don’t stop,” They were Lucius’ exact words, now spoken by Tulla, and I followed the command just as I had then. Forgetting Staci and her wide stare as she had chanced upon us, despite the quiet between us, we had become oblivious to what surrounded us. A knock must have echoed around the room but went unheard by us.
Tulla had said I looked tired, and wanted to care for me, bathe me like she had when she first turned me. This time I couldn’t resist when the washcloth moved over my cock and when was washed clean I pulled her on top of it, eliminating the weight of water between us, kissing her deeply like I hadn’t in a long time.
She hummed in agreement when we were spent and I suggested I seek out Staci. It wasn’t love between Tulla and I, certainly not like Sookie and Eric’s. Nor the cackling chemistry that bordered on that fine line between love and hatred as with Pam and Kristian. Companions was probably the best word I could find to describe it, we understood each other like no other ever could because we had lived our beginnings as one. This reunion settled something raw in our souls, if one chose to believe we actually had those. For the longest time I was convinced we didn’t, but this had settled it for me. It was his shame, not ours, that had separated us then and there was a certain liberty that came with that realisation.
“What made you act now?” Tulla whispered while helping me into a robe, fastening the tie around my waist before planting a soft kiss to the bare patch of skin on my chest.
“Perhaps the question should be, why didn’t I act before?” I countered before pulling her face to mine, lips locking with a contented sigh.
“I’ll never get an answer, will I?” she smirked while swatting my butt in the direction of the door and I couldn’t help but laugh while making my exit. Staci wasn’t a hard girl to find, she had been too lost in her mind to give the exit codes to my quarters the night before, and while the accommodations Pam had offered me were vast, my keen nose found her location in seconds.
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt,” she instantly apologised when the doe-eyed girl became aware of my presence.
“It is I who should apologise,” I offered with a small smile, pulling her chin up in the hopes she would dare look me in the eye again. “You’re under my care, I should have thought better of it.”
“Am I yours now?” she asked in a whisper.
I let out a sigh. The ‘yours, mine, ours’ conversation was not an easy one to have. Simplicity seemed best in cases like these. “Yes, for as long as we deem it necessary for your safety. You seem better.”
“I feel better,” she returned with a small smile. It scared me slightly that the upswing in her mood had come only when I declared her mine as if a different person emerged in front of me. I checked the wounds on her neck where she had been viciously ripped into by feral fangs. My blood had healed her up nicely and the trauma that made her less than cohesive luckily seemed to be lessening. The hospital attendants had no knowledge to offer except that she was found in a house stained with blood wailing till a man walking his dog in the early morning had heard the noise. Sookie, in turn, could find no memory of it in her mind.
“Godric?” Staci spoke softly while caressing my forearm moments before I made to move and throw away the coverings of her wounds. “I had a dream about you.”
“So you did,” I offered with a smile, not wanting to frighten her, while stroking the new skin that had grown over her former injury. No scar would remind her of the horror, her mind was another thing entirely. When I made to move again, her hand held mine in place, pleading me to stay near. “I want you to kiss me, Godric.”
“No, you don’t,” I smiled, knowing the workings of our healing blood all too well and putting much needed distance between us, perhaps being so out of practice with that particular gesture gave the wrong impression, so instead I reverted back to the tight stance my lips usually carried.
“Is it because of her?” Staci spoke with a quiet outrage, hurt brimming to the surface, while finding her feet faster than I thought possible, which had her clinging to me while desperately grabbing at the sash that bound my robe closed. “It’s okay, I don’t mind. You can have us both!”
“Stop,” I ordered and took much needed steps away from her, Staci’s hold on my robe’s tie, however, caused it to unfurl, exposing my naked body to her while I watched her eyes go wide with lust. Her determination superseded my surprise and I instantly covered myself, there was no echo in the desire I had felt moments ago with Tulla, but the words, nor the stance of my body, seemed to deter Staci. Her hands grabbed at me, trying to expose me to her once more while I desperately tried to reign in my anger and the resulting force of strength that instinct would have me fighting the clearly confused girl. I didn’t want to hurt her.
Thankfully she did, though it wasn’t through my command, rather that of Tulla’s.
“Now, pet,” she spoke softly. “Leave him alone.”
Staci nodded and retreated to a corner of the room sobbing into her upturned knees. Tulla picked up the tie from the floor and fastened it around me once more before looking with a pain that was mirrored in my own eyes at the sight of the broken girl. Our voices fell to whispers of ancient Latin, her state of mind our primary concern.
“I don’t know why I do this,” Staci offered while hiding behind a curtain of hair when she dared look in our direction again. “I don’t know who I am anymore.”
“Shh,” Tulla spoke warmly taking the girl in her embrace. “You’re doing very well.”
The Lake House, near Bon Temps
“Godric would like to see us when we’re done.”
I looked up, startled to find Eric standing there as my eyes had only been searching for a shimmer to appear, for my great-grandfather to be here again.
My eyes continued to stare out the kitchen window where he had first appeared, desperate to be in his presence again. I hadn’t been this preoccupied with yearning since Eric disappeared from my life, and in some parts it scared me that I was so insistent on feeling that so strongly when I had him by my side now. I was beginning to understand Aelia’s dislike of the Impure too now, where I would have once described it as discrimination, now they were to be held responsible for their actions that had stolen this connection away from me my entire life and that was considerably shorter than Aelia’s existence without it.
“There are developments with Staci,” Eric elaborated, but I still didn’t reply with more than an agreeable hum. “Sookie?”
“I heard you!” I snapped, my neck moving just as aggressively while looking back at him. I expected him to distance himself from my harsh stance, but instead he moved behind me where I sat on the countertop with my feet in the deep sink staring out of the window.
“He’ll come soon enough,” Eric spoke softly into my ears, and this time I allowed his calming influence to soothe me. His kisses were a good distraction as they trailed down my neck.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I giggled when I suddenly felt his hands cupping my breasts.
“Real friendly,” I accused with a roll of my eyes.
“Shush you,” he chuckled while continuing to fondle without an ounce of shame. “I’m playing with my friends.”
“Eric!” I shrieked in annoyance since my ‘friends’ were all too eager to play. “Keep this up and you’ll never see them again.”
“Better listen to her, young one,” the man I had been waiting anxiously for bellowed into the room from behind us. “Mercy on those who can withstand the wrath of a Brigant woman, I should know and care not to remember.”
Eric’s hands were gone faster than I could fathom while I jumped from my perched position to Niall’s out turned arms.
“Your brother?” he asked curiously.
“Sleeping, I’m afraid; it has been a long night for us all.”
“You should get some rest, too,” Niall spoke with concern and I was sure scrutinising the heavy bags under my eyes. My head shook, communicating that I wouldn’t willingly trade sleep in favour of his company.
Niall chuckled, kissing me softly on the forehead. “You certainly are a resilient one, shall we walk among your woods?”
I glanced at Eric, almost forgetting he was still there, the invite spoken not necessarily having included him. He gave an encouraging gesture to see us out and a soft squeeze of my hand. I kissed his cheek softly before setting off, a backwards glance to assure myself he would remain there while he gave a little wave.
“You don’t like it indoors.”
“Very astute, Princess,” Niall grinned. “Are you not the same?”
I thought about it, wondering if I were somehow not in touch with the Fae in me if I answered no. Walking by his side through the dense foliage, the treetops above us forming a natural canopy like a vaulted ceiling of a cathedral through which the sun shone in scattering glimmers around us. I nodded in agreement, the sun warming my skin gave a sensation like no other. “If the sun is out, so am I.”
“Yes,” he agreed while pulling my hand up to a spot of concentrated light. “It is the source of our light, we cannot help but feel kinship to it as we are of the sky.”
I wanted to know more; of every aspect of a part of me that had remained such a mystery my entire life, I couldn’t, however, forget the broken cost of our intelligence. So instead of answering my questions that would explain my makeup I began to talk of Staci and the hold on her mind.
“It is a rare skill,” he answered frugally, causing my spirits to further plummet. My hopes that one of their own, Tulla, could still be considered innocent. Part of me had been idly convinced Tulla herself was unaware of the effectiveness of her soft persuasion as I had seen it take hold in Staci’s mind, this mere suggestion taken for fact without force, implanting it deeply and twining itself in the crevices of her mind. He didn’t volunteer more information, even after careful inquiries that altered into less subtle hints.
“You are happy with him,” Niall noted, changing the subject once more, the sun already low in the sky hinting our stroll that had occupied us for hours would soon come to an end. On the porch the ‘him’ he spoke of had his large frame sprawled out in the deck chair, hiding from my beloved sun and waiting for my return. As soon as our eyes met across the distance I couldn’t help but smile. “I need not ask what I can witness instead,” Niall chuckled. “I would not have chosen him for you, but the Viking is a good match.”
His approval meant more to me than I cared to let on, the notion that we would not be separated settled an insecurity I wasn’t aware of having. “He’s not a Viking, they no longer exist.”
“Yes,” Niall conceded. “Time moves differently for us, it is not so linear. Sometimes I forget. It is like Staci’s mind.”
I stopped in our languid pace to regard him, and he caught on soon enough and stopped beside me. He had given an insight into Staci’s mind, but I was too scared to question it further whereas he had been reluctant to answer any of my questions before. “Her memories are no longer chronological,” he elaborated while I kept my silence hoping he had more to offer. “Look carefully and you will find what you are looking for. You are more gifted than most, your shields are the strongest I have encountered in a long time.”
A ‘thank you’ was accompanied by a blush, for what I was uncertain, it was simply something that was there, that I couldn’t claim as my own accomplishment. The coping of living with it was, and perhaps he was complimenting that more than anything else.
“We are in need of offspring,” he spoke bluntly, startling me not only with the request, but also the forwardness where he had been so evasive before. The small nugget of information granted with a compliment somehow seemed to make this allowable to him. “Next time we should discuss this ‘science’ you spoke of, Aelia assured me it could be done. I will send word for our next meeting.”
The air shimmered briefly with the aftermath of his disappearance, not even giving me a chance to respond. I was left gawking, becoming startled by Eric’s sudden appearance at my side. He nodded when I sought confirmation that he overheard the last of my great-grandfather’s request that sounded more like a command.
“We’ll make our own way,” he assured, sounding more confident than I could be in that moment while he held me close. “Baby steps.” I cringed, and he instantly apologised for the ill-chosen words.
It had taken Eric quite some time and effort for Godric to agree to meet us outside the palace without Tulla, and not raising suspicion in her along the way. I fell asleep on the car ride over, not caring much to the location only realising it was the secluded spot he had taken me to the first time we had taken his precious sports car out for a ride. They were already talking, or rather fighting by the upturned tree we had made out on, the anger and disappointment coursing through Eric being the thing that had jolted me awake. He was so aggravated he didn’t even speak in English anymore, reverting back to his native Swedish instead. Neither vampire had even taken notice of me in their shouting match till I clasped onto Eric’s wrist urging him to calm.
“Sookie, tell him,” he urged at me, offering me up as a referee in their argument.
“It’s true, Godric,” I offered in a whisper, mindful of the impact this could have, shattering the image of his own Maker. “The signature is the same.”
“It cannot be,” he spoke with red tears brimming his eyes. “It is unlike her. She has no appetite for power.”
“Maybe she has no choice,” Aelia’s voice chimed in from a distance away, alerting us all of her inconspicuous presence. “We all have leverage. Some more than others.”
“No,” Godric repeated firmly with continued disbelief, no one but me appearing surprised with her sudden appearance. “If she is guilty of betraying us than so am I.”
“You can accompany one another in a cell then,” Aelia spoke with a threat in her voice that I had not witnessed before, making me instantly understand the force of her power.
“If that is what it takes,” Godric returned with an equal aggression that seemed to jar with the genteel character that I was usually met with.
“No,” I pleaded, feeling the anguish inside Eric flood me at the thought of his Maker’s imprisonment. “Let me try with Staci.”
“Niall showed you how?” Aelia questioned displaying she always knew more than any of us.
“He gave new insight.”
“Very well,” she nodded before shifting her eyes to Godric with an even cooler stare. When it returned to me chills travelled down my spine. “Their fate is in your hands.”
The responsibility magnified when her words settled into me with their veiled meaning, I was too scared to ask aloud that if I were to fail to extract any truth whether they would be condemned to a final and true death, execution by kin being the number one cause of death among the Sanguine after all. In the end I didn’t need to ask, it was not uncommon knowledge that disloyalty among the Sanguine was considered the worst of crimes, instead the anguish that took hold of Eric over the fate of his Maker confirmed as much.
A/N: Much thanks to msbuffy once more for all the wonderful editing work she always does for me 🙂
Ehm… yeah… nervy times ahead… tune in next time and all that… so thoughts?