We do not have long to wait. The cell phone that had been in Lettie Mae’s bag begins ringing. Whoever programmed the phone thinks they have a sense of humor since the ringtone is Rob Zombie’s Living Dead Girl. Godric answers the phone, putting it on speaker so Sookie can hear.
“Now, why did ya have to go and ruin all my fun?” Sarah Newlin’s voice rings out loudly in a girlish pout. “It’s not nice to break other people’s toys. Maybe I should break one of yours in return,” she says in a hard, cold voice.
“NO!” Sookie practically lunges for the phone as if her protest alone can keep Sarah from hurting either of our loved ones. My fangs itch with the desire to tear Sarah Newlin apart. I only have myself to blame for this situation. I was too lax at Vamp Camp; I should have verified all the major players at the camp were dead before I left. If I had, we wouldn’t be in this predicament now.
Sarah’s deranged giggle comes through the speaker. “Oh this is fun! Two of the oldest vampires in the country are at my mercy. It’s like Dallas all over again,” she says before giggling like an annoying coed. Her laughter ends abruptly, a sign of how young she is. Fledgling vampires experience extreme mood swings; imagine a manic-depressive person times a thousand and then you might understand what a new vampire is going through. “But this time, I will come out on top.”
“What do you want Mrs. Newlin?” Godric asks the question since both Eric and I seem to be unable to communicate with the woman. Eric shut down our bond the moment he had recognized Pam’s shoe. I’m left floundering, both because the hits that keep coming when it comes to Bill and his schemes, and because despite how short a period of time I’ve been able to feel Eric, I’ve come to depend on that bond. It is a constant source of reassurance for me; its very existence lets me know that the keeper of my heart is out there, sending me his love. Eric and I both send little tugs along the bond, simply to let the other know we are thinking of them. But now that he has shut me out, I feel cold and empty. There is an ache where my half of the bond seeks his. It reminds me of a dog that stares pitifully at the door waiting for its master to come home. There is the essence of me standing on my side of this giant steel door waiting sorrowfully for Eric to let me back in. I feel so cold, as if I will never know warmth or love again. I hate that I feel this when I need Eric’s love, reassurance, and strength the most.
“I think it’s fairly obvious what we want,” Sarah begins in a reasonable tone. “My maker wants his human. And I like her brother so much I think I’m gonna keep him,” she says with a delighted laugh. “Now, I suggest if you want to see your progeny again Northman, you’ll do as we say.”
“And what is that?” Eric’s tone is furious and I can see he is struggling for control.
“We’ll take this back to where it all started. Meet us tomorrow night at the abandoned Light of Day training facility in Dallas. Come alone Eric; the only one you are allowed to bring is Sookie. We’ll exchange blondes; your progeny for the telepath. It’ll be a lot of fun!” Sarah’s tone is one of giddiness and she claps her hands excitedly before hanging up the phone. She reminds me of one of those annoying popular cheerleaders in high school.
As soon as the call ends, Godric dials his phone, speaking rapidly to whoever is on the other end in Spanish. Eric stands as still as a statue, looking just as hard and cold as one. I want nothing more than to have him wrap me in his arms, telling me everything will be OK, but I don’t think that’s happening. With slow, measured steps, I trudge up the stairs and go to my bedroom. Inside my closet is a duffel bag; I begin packing my clothes and toiletries.
“What are you doing?” Eric is filling up the doorway with his impressive stature. My eyes look briefly at him before resuming my task. The bond between us lies silent.
“I’m packing for our trip to Dallas. We need to save Pam and my brother,” I answer quietly as I continue to pack.
“I’m not giving you to Compton,” Eric says darkly.
“It’s the only way to save Pam,” I answer hollowly as I zip the duffel.
“NO!” Eric growls out the word before vamping in the room to pin me against a wall. “I will find a way to save them both Sookie and I will end Compton and Sarah Newlin once and for all,” Eric vows as he stares determinedly in my eyes.
“Maybe it’ll be better for everyone if you just give me up,” I say brokenly. “Everyone always seems to be in danger because of me. If we give Bill what he wants, then you Pam, Godric, everyone will be safe.” Tears fill my eyes and run over as I think of everything that’s happened because of me. Gran . . . Tara . . . hell even Uncle Bartlett ended up dyin’ cause of me.
“And what about us? Do you think I can so easily give you up Lover?” Eric’s grip tightens on me as his eyes blaze as he stares down at me. “In a thousand years, do you know how many women I have loved?” I shake my head as my tears continue to fall. “One,” he utters softly as his large hands cup my face, his thumbs brushing my tears away. “I have been infatuated but it fades. I have certainly lusted after women, but that ends as soon as I have satisfied the urge. But there has only ever been one woman who I loved completely and totally. It is the woman who walked in my bar looking like an angel in white; the woman who slapped me for daring to harm her friend. The woman who I was willing to give up my existence for to save her own; the woman whose kiss was the only wish a man meeting his end wanted. This woman broke my heart when she disappeared for a year, nearly driving me mad with grief. But I never gave up hope you would return. You were my salvation when you found me after I had been cursed by the witch, and I have finally got to experience the ecstasy of Valhalla in your arms. Sookie Stackhouse,” he murmurs with a heartfelt plea, “you are my everything. I cannot lose you.” The bond between us surges to life and I feel his absolute devotion to me. I collapse against his chest and cry pitifully as he soothes me. I’m not used to mattering to someone this much. Most of the people who have loved me in my life have loved me conditionally; they love me but they don’t fully accept me as I am. Hearing all my life that everyone wished I was normal really has done a number on my self-esteem. I may seem confidant and self-assured, but it’s all an act. I never wanted the people of Bon Temps to see how much of an effect they have on me, so I would only cry in private; usually Gran was the only one to see my weaknesses. But now I have Eric to lean on. I’m so thankful to have him in my life again.
“What are we going to do?” My voice is muffled against Eric’s chest, but I know he understood every word.
“We must hurry,” he tells me as he tucks a stray strand of hair behind my ear. “Godric has arranged a flight for all of us to Dallas. When you left, he was speaking with Isabel, who is still Sheriff of Area Nine. We will discuss our plans on the plane; it is leaving within the hour. The others will meet us at the airport.” Eric slings my bag over his shoulder then grabs my hand to lead me down the stairs. Godric is already standing in the yard with Eric’s sword strapped to his back. I lock up the house as Eric passes my duffel to Godric. Once Godric has it situated across his body, he zooms up in the air, presumably heading to the airport in Shreveport.
“I don’t suppose you’d consider letting me teleport us there,” I say reluctantly as I mosey down the porch steps. I’ve gotten used to the stomach jitters that happen when I teleport from one place to another; I am nowhere near over my fear of falling when it comes to flying.
“Maybe next time Lover,” Eric smirks before lifting me in his arms bridal style and zipping up in the air like a bottle rocket. The ass laughs at me as my screams of terror fills the night sky.
I know I should not find Sookie’s fear of falling amusing, but I do. She has to know that I will never let her fall. Truthfully, it is a fantasy of mine to fuck her while flying among the stars. It’s something that has haunted me since we made love in the woods that first time. It is something that will be a first for both of us; I want to watch the moonlight on her flawless skin as I take us to dizzying heights. And I will do it soon . . . once my child is safe and Compton and his newest progeny are no more. I knew I should have not let Pam go off alone, but I wanted to give her space. My carelessness has endangered all of us; I am angry at myself. That is why I had shut down the bond with Sookie. I never want her to be touched by the darkness that lies within; she has seen glimpses of it in the past and I know it has repulsed her. I think it will be for the best if I can keep the monster hidden from her as much as possible. It’s not that I don’t think she can handle all that I am, but I do not want who and what I am to diminish the light that lives inside of her.
“You’re thinkin’ awfully hard about somethin’,” Sookie says as we are nearing the private hangar where the plane is waiting to take us to Dallas. Sookie had spent the first ten minutes of our flight berating me for being everything from an insufferable ass to a pig-headed jerk. What does a barnyard animal have to do with being a jerk?
“I am trying to think through every possible scenario for when it comes to dealing with Compton,” I admit. “I’m also wondering how long it will take for our travel companions to join us. As it is, the sun will be rising before we make it to Dallas. Isabel is sending several Weres to aid you with getting our travel coffins unloaded and taken to a secure place for the day.
“Who else is coming with us?” Sookie looks at the plane with interest when she sees four travel coffins being loaded in the cargo area of the plane.
“Jessica and Willa,” I tell her as we walk up the steps of the plane. I want to get her settled comfortably. I know she hates flying, so I walk to the galley of the plane and mix her a large gin and tonic. When I return to her, she is settled comfortably on one of the sofas. I sit beside her as I hand her the drink. Sookie mumbles her thanks and takes a long sip of the clear liquid. She sets the drink in one of the beverage holders and snuggles against my side; my arm goes around her shoulders while she reaches for my free hand with hers.
“I get why Willa is coming with us, but why Jess?”
“Godric and I want her where we can see her,” I admit in a hard voice. “I do not trust leaving her in Louisiana while we go to Dallas. Furthermore, she has a score to settle with Sarah Newlin. Jessica ended up in Vamp Camp because Sarah Newlin had her arrested from your brother’s house. I know there are feelings between Jason and Jessica; I am hopeful she will aid us in protecting him.”
“Bill released Jessica back when Russell was after me,” my lovely fairy says as she plays with my fingers. “How is it he was able to call her to his side after we destroyed The Authority compound? And how is it y’all think he will be able to still command her?”
“There are different ways to release a child,” I say slowly. “I released Pam completely before Bill and I came to you for help with Russell. That release was complete; I felt our bond snap when I released her.”
“Why did you do it?” Sookie tilts her head to look up at me curiously.
“Because I thought I was not going to survive a second encounter with Russell. I did not want her to feel it when I met my end. She needed to go on and make sure our bloodline survived,” I say quietly.
“Godric never released you,” Sookie says astutely after several minutes of silence.
“No, I never did,” Godric says from the entrance of the plane. He walks confidently down the center of the plane until he takes a seat across from Sookie and me. He smiles gently as he looks at the two of us entwined around each other. “I let Eric go long ago so he could make his way in the world, but I never severed our blood connection.”
“Yet you did with Nora,” Sookie says with a questioning tone.
“I had to; she wanted to join The Authority. In order to be among their ranks, no one could have control of you through the blood. The Authority even frowned on blood bonds between vampires and humans. Nora came to me begging to be free so she could join The Authority. I saw no reason to deny her request,” Godric says with a slight shrug. “I made Nora a vampire because Eric asked me to. I eventually grew to care deeply for her, but I would have never made her a vampire if it wasn’t his request. You my dear child,” he says with an affectionate look to me, “have been the only one I have ever been drawn to make. It is because of the love I have for you that I could never completely release you. Many times our bond has been a great comfort to me.”
I smile happily at my maker because I can feel the truth of his words through our slight blood connection. “And to me as well,” I confirm with a nod of appreciation at my maker. I know Godric had only made Nora at my request. It had taken me many hours that long ago evening to convince him to make Nora a vampire. Nora and I had always joked about who Godric loved more, but we both knew the truth: it was me.
“So what about Jessica and Bill?” My beloved bonded brings the focus back to the issue at hand.
“I do not think he fully released her,” Godric admits after giving the matter some thought. “But we shall ask her when she arrives with Willa. Eric, you should also check to see if your bond with Willa is still intact. Before we go to our daytime rest, I think it would be beneficial if we all exchanged blood; it will solidify the bonds of our bloodline as well as make Willa stronger since she will have our blood running through her veins. With your permission Eric, I would also like for Sookie to have some of my blood,” Godric suggests quietly.
My first reaction is to snarl in anger that Godric would even suggest something like this. Sookie is mine! No other vampire shall ever feed from my mate! The beast inside yearns to break free and teach Godric a lesson. My fangs ache to come down and rip my maker apart for thinking he can give his blood to my bonded mate. Before I can give in to the animalistic urges beating inside me, a sense of lethargy overtakes me. I feel as if I am lying under an afternoon sun giving in to the drowsy sensation that comes from having my body heated by the warmth of the sun. It is a feeling of peace and contentment, and I find myself wanting to purr happily like a cat having eaten the canary.
“Are you doing that Lover?” My eyes lazily open and I notice that Sookie is caressing my arm as one would an animal cuddling in its lap.
“I am,” she admits sheepishly. “You were starting to spiral out of control there. Godric only wants me to have his blood so he can find me if something were to happen,” Sookie tries to rationalize with me.
“I know, but it goes against the bond to allow another vampire to give you their blood.”
“I am hopeful that she will not reject the blood because of how connected our blood is,” Godric says contemplatively. “Eric is right that a bonded is not supposed to take blood from another vampire; it is a blood offense. More often than not, the human will reject the other vampire’s blood. But I am hopeful that because I am Eric’s maker and a distant relative of yours that your body will not reject my blood.”
Sookie nods her head in agreement. “When do you want to do this?”
“Later,” Godric states. “Jessica and Willa are here. We will be taking off momentarily.”
The two young vampires board the plane and are secured in their seats within the blink of an eye. I shift Sookie so that she can buckle herself in for our departure. The efficient flight crew closes the plane door and the plane begins moving to the runway for takeoff. Sookie quickly downs the rest of her drink, and sits back in her seat with closed eyes. Her hands are tightly clenched and I do my best to soothe her as we come to a halt at the beginning of the runway. I lean over to nuzzle her neck, which causes her to sigh slightly. I whisper “I love you” as the plane goes hurtling down the tarmac, gaining speed until we shoot up in the sky. Sookie’s hands do not unclench until the plane levels off in the sky.
She opens her eyes and a small smile curves her lips. “One of these days I’ll get used to that.”
I bring our joined hands up to my lips, placing a lingering kiss on her delicate skin. “You know if something was to go wrong on the plane, I will fly us to safety.”
“I know,” she admits sheepishly. “But that doesn’t stop the somersaults in my tummy when we take off and land.” She’s adorable. I bring our joined hands to my lips, placing another kiss on her delicate skin. My lover’s touch is a great comfort to me as the five of us discuss our upcoming plans for Dallas.