The Weres were spaced out at regular intervals encircling Jason’s home from about ten yards inside the tree line. While remaining cloaked, I popped Eric and I behind the mongrel that was standing in a small clearing in the woods, facing the front of Jason’s. Eric started to pull away from me, but I pulled him back at the last minute.
“They will notice you first because they will be able to hear you and smell you. So they will start to surround you as quickly as they can. I will remain cloaked and start picking them off from the woods surrounding the lake that lies behind the house. I’ll work my way back here.” Without giving him a chance to respond, I kissed his cheek and popped away.
In the next second, I was behind my target in the woods by the lake. I sliced off his head with my katana before the unsuspecting Were could even hear his comrade struggle against Eric’s sword.
The nasty dog’s blood hadn’t even hit the ground and I was already using my telepathy to locate my next target. I could immediately sense that all the Weres had now shifted into their animal form because I could sense their locations but I couldn’t get any real thoughts. Honestly, they were running on their animal instincts now so there was truly nothing to read.
I sensed one wolf heading my way from the right while all the rest were heading towards Eric. The wolf approaching my location would arrive in only a few seconds so I decided to wait for him in my current spot. I tracked his path by using my telepathy so it was quite easy to intersect his course and remove his head.
Having dispatched my second Were, I focused on the wolves that were quickly approaching Eric’s location. I could only sense four of the deplorable creatures now so Eric must have finished off two wolves in addition to the ones I had ended. I could tell Eric was engaged in a fight with two of the animals so I decided to head to my left and dispense with the wolf that was quickly nearing the ongoing fight.
I gathered my magic again and transported to a spot that should have put me approximately three yards in front of the wolf’s path. Shockingly, the Were had already passed my new location.
Transporting takes so little time that a fairy can chose their destination, call their magic, and reappear at their chosen location before a human can blink an eye. The fact that the wolf had moved fast enough to get ahead of me in the short amount of time it took me to pop to my intended location supported Eric’s warnings about the effects of vampire blood on these wolves. I had underestimated their speed and I wouldn’t make that mistake again.
Another mental check on everyone’s locations revealed that three wolves were now surrounding Eric. So, I didn’t have any time to waste. I decided it was useless to try to predict the fourth wolf’s speed again. Therefore, I would have to allow my intended prey to catch up with the rest of us at Eric’s location.
Having made my decision, I popped myself to the small clearing where Eric was standing in the middle of three circling wolves.
Eric looked glorious. His golden hair was flowing freely around his shoulders and his shirt had been ripped open, revealing his perfect chest and abs. His sapphire eyes were practically glowing in the darkness as he tracked the movements of his enemies. His fangs were gleaming in the moonlight as blood dripped down his chin. He was feral and magnificent and he would be mine.
I had never truly understood the meaning of bloodlust until that moment. I wanted nothing more than to forget our precarious situation and throw him down on the forest floor to have my way with him. All I could focus on in that moment was how he would taste and what it would feel like to have those strong arms hold me down as he pillaged me. There had never been a time when I felt so disconnected from reality and my surroundings as I did during those few moments as I watched Eric in the middle of battle.
I was quickly brought back into the fight, however, when the fourth wolf came crashing into the clearing from behind me and leaped in Eric’s direction. Luckily for me, the fiend’s flight path sent him hurling within my swords reach and I quickly sliced him in half.
The three remaining wolves were distracted for a moment at the surprise of seeing their buddy sliced in half by an invisible force. Eric took advantage of the diversion by removing the head of another Were.
Only two wolves remained and we needed one of them alive for interrogation about their mission. Since I was certain Eric could handle a single Were on his own, I summoned a silver chain from my penthouse and approached the smaller wolf while remaining cloaked. My target was still concentrating on the best way to attack Eric so it was rather easy to sneak up behind the smelly beast and wrap the silver chain around his neck.
This time I didn’t underestimate the wolf’s strength so I was prepared for his speed and power. He immediately growled when the silver touched his fur and began pulling away from my direction. However, I already had silver looped around his neck and he wasn’t going anywhere soon. I was careful not to extend the protection of my cloak to the wolf as I tightened the silver chain around his neck and tied it to a nearby tree trunk.
By the time I was done, Eric had finished off the last wolf.
“Is it time to play with the puppy now?” Eric asked as he approached me.
At the sound of his voice, I turned to face him so I didn’t really register his words since I was reveling in his appearance. He had removed his tattered shirt and his low riding jeans revealed the V of his hipbones. His arms were well defined and my attention was drawn to them. I was ready to feel them around me as we celebrated our victory in the way my body desired. My bloodlust had returned full force and I was ready to claim my Viking.
Before I could take a step forward to satisfy my lust or summon my magic to remove my cloak, there were two audible “pops” in the clearing.
Claude and Claudine were standing on either side of me and Eric was growling at them from ten feet away.
“Relax Viking.” Claudine said sweetly. “We have simply come to secure our cousins.”
I didn’t care why they were here. I just wanted them to get out of my way so I could enjoy my vampire’s body.
Fucking Fairies. If they were so worried about Sookie then where were they five minutes ago?
“Convenient timing now that the danger has passed.” I snarled.
The male fairy stepped forward to address me while the female fairy turned away and started talking softly in another language. I assumed she was addressing Sookie in the Fae language. I was curious as to why Sookie was still hiding herself in her cloak.
“Do vampires have difficulty controlling Weres nowadays?” The male’s condescending voice drew my attention away from my musings.
“Does it look like I had any problems Fairy?” I sneered at him while I gestured at the surrounding carnage. I was still worked up from the brawl with the wolves and finding it difficult not to fantasize about tasting the fairy buffet standing in front of me. I hadn’t had a fairy in decades.
While speaking, I noticed the female fairy step to the left a couple of times with her arms slightly raised. It appeared as if she was trying to block someone’s path. Why would she want to prevent Sookie from coming towards me?
“What is your woman doing?” I challenged gruffly as I took a step towards the female fairy. The woman had called Sookie her cousin, but if Sookie was still cloaked could it be possible the fairy was a threat?
“She is my sister.” The male stated as he moved to stand between the female and me. I growled at his movement. “She is Sookie’s guardian and is convincing her to return to the penthouse.”
“The Prince left her with me until he returned to my bar. She is not leaving.”
My tone brokered no argument on the subject. Even if the Fae Prince’s proposition of a marriage was ludicrous, I was not done with the luscious princess yet. She was beautiful, smart, sassy, and fierce. I wanted to know more about this mysterious creature. Perhaps I could draw out the negotiations long enough to secure her without a marriage or treaty.
“You do not command us, Vampire.” The male challenged.
I would not allow a fairy to disrespect me. As I stepped towards the male, the female’s voice intervened.
“Sookie will meet you at your bar in an hour.” The woman said soothingly while stretching her hand out into the air in front of her. I assumed she was reaching in Sookie’s direction. “She has used a lot of magic and she needs to recharge.”
Before I could respond, the fairy disappeared and I growled at the male.
He had the audacity to smirk. “I would say you are welcome to try and stop them but it appears you are too late.”
I started to leap in his direction but changed course at the last moment when I heard movement to my left. The Were prisoner had shifted back into human form during our argument. The shift had left the silver chain loose around his neck and he was attempting to free himself.
I punched the Were and pinned him to the ground. In the next second, the male fairy was tightening the silver around the Were’s neck and tying up his wrists.
With the fairy in such close proximity, I was surprised that I hadn’t yet drained him. It was then that I realized I couldn’t detect his scent.
“Your scent is cloaked?” My surprise at this discovery distracted me from my previous desire to drain him for his personality alone.
“It’s a temporary charm and we are not sure how long it will work.” He explained begrudgingly as he dragged the Were to his feet. “My other sister, Claudette, has taken Jason somewhere safe. I will transport you and the Were back to your bar. The Prince will meet you there in a half hour. We will clean up the mess you made.”
In the next second, I was in the basement of Fangtasia with the Were tied in silver at my feet and the fairy was nowhere in sight.
I fucking hate fairies.
Niall Brigant was an arrogant and demanding son of a bitch. We had been discussing the proposed alliance for almost a half hour and we hadn’t made any progress regarding the marriage portion of the deal.
This was a waste of my time.
After I had secured the Were in the basement, showered, and dressed in my normal jeans and t-shirt combo, I lessened my bloodlust by feeding. When I settled into my office to think over the night’s events, I was frustrated due to the necessity of resisting my urge to take my ‘plaything’ into the basement to relieve my remaining needs. However, I hadn’t lived for over a thousand years without learning something about politics and restraint. The last thing I needed was to insult the Prince of the Fae by smelling like sex when he returned to my bar to continue discussing an alliance that included arranging a marriage with his granddaughter.
Marriage. What a fucking joke! The only marriages that happen in the vampire world with any real frequency are between vampire monarchs for the purpose of joint protection of their states and those only lasted a hundred years. Not only was Niall demanding an interspecies marriage that would be an anomaly in the vampire and Fae worlds, but he was also requiring the marriage to last until Sookie’s final death.
During my few moments of silence and solitude in my office before Niall’s arrival, I had carefully examined all the things I’d learned tonight and I had come to several conclusions.
First, I didn’t doubt that the Prince had valid information regarding conspiracies against the state and myself. Ever since the Queen ordered me to sell vampire blood to help rebuild her depleted bank accounts, I have been trying to come up with a plan to protect my ass when, not if, she betrayed me. She was a spoiled brat of a Queen and she feared me due to my age and her mistaken belief I wanted the crown. The problem was that she had me by the balls at the moment. If I had refused her order to sell V then she could have been justified to order my final death for insubordination. If I turned her in or turned over evidence against her, then I would be guilty of treason and staked by the authority or the next monarch.
Vampire laws were a bitch sometimes.
As far as Niall’s information regarding a possible takeover by another state, well that wasn’t surprising either. Other monarchs always did their best to keep spies in rival areas, and I was certain some of the other monarchs knew about the Queen’s money problems. Part of a monarch’s strength was displayed by their financial standing. If another state knew the Queen was practically broke, then they would be salivating to move into the Big Easy and start using the tourist trap city to add to their financial base.
If another state planned a takeover, then I would be the first one with a target on their back. I was the oldest vampire in the state and Sophie Ann had only evaded takeover attempts before now because others were afraid to cross my path.
Too bad Sophie didn’t realize that before plotting my final death.
The second thing I was sure of was that I would have to take the crown to protect my existence and having the Fae as allies would make me nearly untouchable. The Fae were terrifying in battle. Not only did they have outstanding fighting capabilities but they also wielded their magic as they fought. In addition, they had the advantage of walking in the sun. Of course, vampires had ways of defending ourselves against the Fae but any clash with the race always led to sizable losses on both sides. Sophie Ann didn’t have the kind of resources it would take to defeat a combined Vampire/Fae attack and I would be able to defeat her easily, while effectively putting an end to takeover aspirations from other states once they learned of my Fae alliance.
I could attempt the takeover without the Fae’s assistance, but it would take more time to plan and I wasn’t sure I had that much time to play with. I had several favors banked from over the centuries but it would take time to move all the players into place and ensure my success. Even if I moved as quickly as possible, the Queen could spring her trap or an invasion could be imminent.
No, my best bet would be to form an alliance with the Fae. However, I didn’t want a wife and Sookie’s expectation of monogamy was laughable. That didn’t mean I didn’t want her; I desired her greatly, but I didn’t have to marry her to fuck her.
“Sheriff,” Niall’s annoying voice pulled my attention away from my musings. “If you became King, wouldn’t you be expected to marry another monarch to protect your state? How is this proposal so different?”
“You know the difference.” I glared at him. “The other party would be vampire. The marriage would dissolve in a hundred years and monogamy would not be expected.”
The Prince regarded me thoughtfully for a moment before surprising me. “She is young and was raised with human ideals for part of her life. Her ideas on sexuality will likely change as she ages.” He paused for a moment. “The monogamy requirement may be dissolved at any time during the marriage if both parties consent. Do you agree?”
I raised an eyebrow at the Prince. He was shrewd. He was right that Sookie would probably change her views on monogamy over the years. Plus, I would be able to mold her so that she knew exactly how to pleasure me. If I ever got bored with her, then I could always make it less enjoyable for her until she no longer wished to share my bed and wanted her own ‘playthings.’
I cringed internally. I wasn’t good at sharing and I didn’t want to share Sookie. I would prefer an agreement where she was monogamous to me and I could do as I pleased, but I knew that wasn’t happening. I suppose my desire for her to be only mine would fade over time as well as her human views on sex. Besides, she wouldn’t be able to take other lovers unless I agreed.
“I agree with the compromise on monogamy.” Before the Prince could speak however, I voiced my next concern. “There is still the issue of the length of the marriage.”
Damn. I actually sound like I’m considering this.
“We don’t know how long she will live. She is a hybrid and there is no way to predict her lifespan. She could live a hundred years or three hundred years.” Niall stated factually.
“You understand my hesitancy then in agreeing to a unknown timeframe?” If he denied it then he was lying.
“Yes, but consider that she is agreeing to an unknown timeframe as well. Not to mention the alliance and protection of the Fae will last as long as she lives.” Fuck. He did have a good point. I would have the Fae as backup for an undetermined length of time. That was a powerful bargaining chip on his side.
“And if you should fall? What would keep the next ruler in Fae from ending the alliance?” Niall was older than I was but the Fae were not immortal. I didn’t know how much longer he would survive.
“The alliance will be filed in our archives. When a new ruler is named, they must accept and agree to honor any standing contracts which includes alliances.” His prompt answers made me suspect that he had expected that question.
We were silent for a moment as I digested the new information before Niall spoke up again.
“Sookie will make a wonderful Queen and she will be loyal to you. She is as fierce and powerful as she is beautiful and loving. Where you inspire fear in your subjects, she will inspire loyalty and adoration. You will be a tremendous force to be reckoned with, Vampire.”
I could tell that Niall was getting annoyed and starting to feel insulted by my reluctance to marry his granddaughter. We had agreed on all the terms of the alliance within ten minutes but the marriage agreement was stalling.
I hated the fact that the fairy was using logic to get me to agree to a marriage. He had successfully convinced me that I would be fucking idiot if I didn’t agree.
I still had one problem though.
“I agree if you answer one question first.” I finally stated as I leaned back against my desk.
Niall was instantly suspicious. “What would that be?”
“What are you hiding?” Niall didn’t look confused by my question so I knew I was on the right track. “You need this alliance for some reason and you’ve yet to tell me why.”
“I’ve told you all I’m willing to divulge until I know we have agreed on the alliance.” Niall stated forcefully.
I laughed. “You honestly expect me to agree to this alliance without knowing what I’m getting myself into?”
“Do you expect me to give you ammunition against me without some type of reassurance?” He challenged me.
“You know the enemies you gain with this alliance, Prince. I must have the same knowledge in order to adequately determine the risks.” I snarled.
“This is impossible.” He rose from the couch and stood five feet in front of me. “You will accept the deal with the information you have or we are done.”
“Then we are done.” I growled as I pushed off the desk and rose to my full height in front of the Prince.
“You are a FOOL.” His voice was soft but deadly.
Before I could respond, we both heard the sound of a throat clearing and turned to see Sookie standing to our side. She had changed into a pair of dark blue jeans and a light blue off the shoulder peasant top. Her hair was still down and flowing softly over her shoulders. She was beautiful.
“Um. Sorry to interrupt.” I raised my eyebrow at her tone. She seemed strangely reserved compared to our encounter earlier in the night. Almost sad. “I take it things are not going well.”
“We have reached an impasse child. I was just about to leave.” He responded briskly as he raised a hand in her direction. “Come and we shall return to your apartment together.”
I was still trying to understand the difference in Sookie’s demeanor so I hadn’t really registered Niall’s words until Sookie responded.
“Perhaps if you tell me the problem, I may be able to come up with a compromise.” Sookie replied softly as she took her grandfather’s hand.
“We’ve been able to negotiate the alliance but I require more knowledge before agreeing.” Sookie didn’t seem to understand as she glanced between the Prince and myself. “I know the strengths I’m gaining from the alliance, but I need to know what enemies I’m getting as well. You’re grandfather has refused to tell me until the alliance is signed.”
“I see.” Sookie sighed and looked down at the floor.
She seemed so resigned and unlike the woman I met earlier, I was beginning to wonder if she had a mental problem. I definitely did not need a psycho fairy hybrid on my hands.
It looked like the Prince was about to speak again but Sookie interrupted him and started speaking in the Fae language. I was instantly annoyed that they were speaking a language I could not understand but I did not interrupt since her words seemed to irritate the Prince. I assumed she was trying to convince him my request was reasonable, but that may have been wishful thinking.
His tone was getting harder and his voice rose slightly in volume until she turned to face him fully and grabbed his hands to place them on either side of her face and softly hold them there.
“My Prince, I have been your confidant and heir to the throne for the last decade. Will you refuse to trust my judgment now when it matters most to me?”
It was the Prince’s turn to sigh as he closed his eyes and kissed Sookie on the forehead. He said something in their language before he released Sookie and stepped back. “I will return in an hour.”
Then he popped away.
Before I can even ask a question, Sookie placed her hand on my forearm and I felt the now familiar sensation of teleporting.
When I can see again, there is a beach in front of me and the soft sound of waves licking the shore. I looked around and the area seemed to be deserted.
“Where have you taken me?” I growled as I stepped away from her. I was annoyed at being abducted from my office.
“I’m sorry.” She said softly. “If I’m going to tell you what you want to know, then I had to take you somewhere I knew we wouldn’t be overheard. We’re on an island off the coast of Florida.”
I can understand the logic behind our sudden relocation but I was still angry that she didn’t explain beforehand.
“Fine.” I said shortly. “Speak.”
Sookie took a deep breath before turning to face the ocean and wrapping her arms around her waist. She looked lovely with the moonlight on her hair and the slight breeze off the ocean blowing the strands around her shoulders.
“I will tell you my secret Eric but you must understand the consequences.” I raised my eyebrow as she referenced ‘her’ secret but she didn’t see it since she was still looking at the water.
“If I tell you what you want to know and you decide not to agree to the alliance, Niall will order your death and, more than likely, that of your child.”
I growled before replying. “He can order whoever he wants. I can protect Pam and myself.”
Without looking at me, she replied in a whisper that carried on the ocean breeze.
“You would never see me coming.”