At first, it was the repetitive ticking hiss of his turntable circling endlessly at the end of its record that broke through the heavy fog of carnal ecstasy. Then, from somewhere remote, Godric registered the piercing beep of his security system arming itself in preparation for sunrise. Time bled on and on and he was swept away in the heady, thunderous undercurrent of intoxication. It drove his lust and hunger harder even as it sated it at the same time.
What finally brought him to the surface is his progeny, calling to him louder and more insistently through their bond. Eric was sending him cries of distress, and it cut through Godric in a series of hair-raising shocks. Godric suddenly regained consciousness and realized he was still feeding deeply from the beauty in his arms. He immediately broke his deadly embrace.
Rosalyn was limp in his arms when he released her. She sunk to the mattress with a deep sigh. His hand went to her wrist to feel her blood pressure; his ears pricked to analyze every gurgle and murmur of her cardiovascular system. “Rosalyn, are you dizzy?”
“Mmmm. Perfectly exhausted,” she slurred in a hum.
“Answer me, are you light-headed? Do you feel faint? Your heartbeat sounds normal but I cannot tell whether you are fine.”
“No what? No, you aren’t fine?” His voice raised in panic.
“I’m fine. Maybe a little thirsty.” She opened her eyes a crack and saw he was concerned. She hitched up on an elbow. “Sweety. I’m okay.” She touched his face and smiled. It did not remove the crinkle of worry across his brow.
“You are 5’7″ tall, yes?”
Godric did the math in a flash. He had taken somewhere around 15-17% of her blood volume. It was a borderline case, but probably alright. He flopped back in relief. He heard Eric ask him a question from the other side of his bedroom door, inaudible to human ears.
“Bring water and sugar,” Godric replied. “What has sugar in the food Eric brought you?” he said to her.
“The fruit – the apples,” she said and strethced happily.
“An apple, Eric,” he ordered.
“Did you think you took too much?” Ros wondered.
“I took well over half a pint. I got a little lost there. It won’t happen again.”
“I thought that was the plan. Get lost together? I know I did.”
“Are you sure you feel okay?”
“Godric, what time is it?” she said testily.
“It’s nearly 7am,” he replied, not sure why it mattered.
“Then there’s your answer. I’ve been up for over 24 hours now. I took two planes. I witnessed my first vampire brawl at a black-tie event. I went dancing in the stars, broke a racecar, and then had wild sex with you all night long. I’m just unbelievably sated and really tired.”
“Is that so?” he said, his mouth curling into the trace of a smile. Her pluckiness reassured him.
“It happens to be the truth. And that’s the short version. There were fairies and werewolves and tricky queens and that mystery of a man you call Amleth.”
“Truth is stranger than fiction.” He laughed. “And most fictions contain a kernel of truth. This I know for a fact.” The impish coil that lived at the edge of his lips grew and she ran a finger along it, wondering where it lead and what it meant.
“I wish I had the code to your grin,” she said.
“Yes? Then you shall have it, lover. But only in due time. I cannot give you all of my secrets so quickly.”
“At least tell me about this one smile. What are you thinking?”
“Hmm. Good question. I am thinking that…I want to do this!” Rosalyn found herself attacked in a flurry of playful, vampire-fast kisses that land in a tickling cascade all over her cheeks and neck and shoulders.
She laughed at his lightheartedness and he wrapped against her, content simply to stare at the woman who still seemed like an impossible mirage.
“Will you heal this for me?”
He lifted his head to inspect the bite on her neck. His large fangs had left two deep punctures in her perfect, creamy skin. In his ecstasy, he had sunk his teeth in to the gums.
“You wish to have my mark,” he said.
“It’s too bad I can’t see what you all see. I must have tried for hours in the mirror.”
Godric went to bite his tongue but her words give him pause. He was struck with an idea. “Can I try something? It might sting for a second. Here.” He took her hand and closed her fingers over his nipple. “Pinch me as hard as it hurts so I know exactly how it feels to you. I’ll stop if it’s painful.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to try healing you in a slightly different way.” He sucked hard on his palate, gathering his spit and coating his fangs completely. Very carefully, he slid his teeth back into the bite, sealing the broken flesh inside, molding the wound around his fangs. Rosalyn tightened her hold on his rosy, tight nipple in anticipation of something hurting more than any actual pain. She only felt him sucking on her flesh with a cool tongue. Godric pulled back, curious about his handiwork. Then he bit his palm. The thick crimson welled up in two sluggish streams. “For you, my muse – my blood.”
Pulling the bite open, he squeezed his fist over it and filled the little cavities. Right as he was sealing it over with his tongue, there was a knock at the door. “Eric wishes to come in,” Godric said, lapping the last remnants of his blood off her neck.
“Hang on!” She shouted as if Eric could not hear her perfectly. She pulled the duvet over them for modesty right as the door lock clicked and Eric came waltzing in. He inhaled deeply.
“Sweet halls of Valhalla!” he said. “It smells fantastic in here.” Godric chastised him with a cluck of his tongue. Eric loped over to the bed with a plate and striped glass. When he squatted down to her level, he froze when he saw why the air was heady with his maker’s blood.
“Now there’s a sight I thought I’d never see,” Rosalyn said. “Northman serving a measly human.” She took a greedy drink from the glass. Eric had no pithy retort. In fact, he ignored her completely. He craned his head to get a clearer view of her neck so much that he nearly let her apple roll off the plate he was holding. Ros snatched it and took a crunchy bite. Eric was wide-eyed. His hand went out to touch her throat, only to be smacked away, lightning fast, by Godric.
“Look, but do not touch.”
“Goðí,” Eric said in total awe. “How…”
He inched closer, sitting on the edge of the bed. “By all means, Eric, have a seat. Please, make yourself comfortable. Shall I scoot over so you can join us?” Ros said. Eric still did not react to her jibing.
“That’s the most beautiful blood mark ever made,” he said quietly. Rosalyn looked to Godric, but if he is proud of his work, it does not show. Eric blurred off into the bathroom and came back with a small hand mirror. Ros scrutinized the spot on her neck.
“Oh, neat. I can see it. It doesn’t look like shiny, sparkly magic to me, but I definitely see how it resembles two rubies. That’s really nice, Godric. Thank you.”
Eric shook his head in disbelief and pressed a silent question to his maker. Godric blinked slowly: Yes, he may tell her. “Ros, you see only the surface. It’s…to our eyes…Jävla fan, Goðí,” he swore.
“What is it?” She pulled at the skin. Eric reacted, but stopped himself short of grabbing her hands. He instinctively wanted to protect the blood on her from being roughly prodded and jostled. Godric had already started to move to bat him away again.
“What do you see?” Ros said.
Eric forced himself to put some distance between her. He took a seat over near the stereo. The scent of sex and blood in the air was starting to get to him and if he accidently touched Rosalyn, he was liable to pull his hands back crushed by one very territorial maker. He turned the record player off, stopping the annoying clicking sound it had been making.
“Godric has sealed two vials of his blood in your neck in the shape of his enormous fangs. They curve around either side of your carotid artery, protecting it. Anyone who tries to drink there from you would have to spill his blood – it’s an automatic death sentence. It’s the most terrifying, awe-inspiring, gorgeous mark I’ve ever seen on a human being.”
Godric took the mirror from Rosalyn and set it aside. “It is for you, dear one. I sealed the bite from the inside out. It will last longer and it will warn the others that I see any harm to you as a blood offense against me. If you ever need me, I am right here.” He caressed the column of her throat, hoping in time she would understand what he had offered.
“Thank you,” she said and kissed his temple. She took another bite of the apple. “So how’d the shopping go, Blondie?” She realized that his long blond mane was disheveled and he had changed into track pants and a racer tee. He appeared unusually discombobulated.
“Oh, you might say it was unexpected.”
“How so?” she said. She offered the apple to Godric. He sniffed it and smiled.
“Well, I was in the company of a MILF named Janice who was kindly explaining the difference between kale and chard to me when someone decided to flip his maker’s bond wide open after about a century of near radio silence. You remember that clever little move you pulled where you figured out that I am still bonded to my maker?”
Godric raised an eyebrow. It was yet another intriguing revelation.
“I didn’t mention just how closely bonded we are. One minute I’ve got big plans for the back of Janice’s minivan. Next thing you know, I’ve taken out an entire produce stand and I’m jizzing in my drawers like a 12-year-old boy. I had to make up some bullshit about being epileptic and run through Whole Foods with a basket over my ruined suit pants. You know how ‘non-fat Greek yogurt, any kind’ was the last item on your list? I have no clue if it’s Greek, Spartan, or Trojan yogurt that you got. I just grabbed something and fled before I was arrested for public indecency.” Ros clapped a hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh. She had not realized progeny could feel their makers’ emotional and physical states that overtly. “I have to hand it to you two, that’s the best sex I’ve had in a long time and I was getting that second hand. Debilitating and completely humiliating, but good. Nice work, kids. Maker, I can only assume I’m being both rewarded and punished by this unfiltered onslaught from you.”
Godric remained impassive. “You were both right and wrong in your choices.” In truth, he had already forgiven Eric, but he would draw this out a bit longer just to make sure Eric would not try to pull such a dangerous stunt again.
Eric sniffed. “So where are you putting me up for the day?”
“It’s only two hours after dawn. You’re still getting the bleeds this soon?”
“Pshah. Like you didn’t at my age. I am tired. Come on.”
“I should have made you sleep in the back yard.”
Eric retorted sharply and Godric shot right back. They fell into their old language, bickering, until Rosalyn intervened. “What exactly is the problem?”
“All the private bedrooms are locked. Eric is trying to convince me that he deserves comfort.”
“Don’t make me sleep in the ‘guest room’. It smells like were-piss down there,” Eric said.
“Eww.” Rosalyn wrinkled her nose. “Why does your guest room smell like pee?”
“It’s where naughty vampires and other foolish supes get put into time out,” Eric said. “And I don’t want to go to ground there!” he said, raising his voice.
“It’s your dungeon,” she guessed.
“We prefer the term ‘holding cell.’ ‘Dungeon’ is so 15th century,” Godric teased.
“Don’t you have a travel coffin? I don’t mind if Eric is in here. We had to room together in a pinch when I was tangled up with that Ronwe character.”
Godric’s eyes narrowed like lasers on his child. “You did not glamour her.”
The statement was completely loaded. Eric knew his maker did not want this particular human glamoured, yet he was raised never to leave himself exposed to a human in his day death. “I’m screwed however I answer that.” He angrily yanked the pillow out from underneath Godric’s head, assuming he was going to be bedding down in the jail.
“Answer me,” Godric ordered.
“No. I didn’t glamour her.”
“Are you telling me that you slept in a room with nothing but a bit of titanium and a piddling alarm clock between you and an unglamoured human?”
“Look, I had to give her a sloppy glamour when I found out what was going on with the demon. She slapped me for it afterwards, rightly so, and asked me not to do it again. The Sofitel does it right, there’s not a stick of wood in the place. She couldn’t code out. It was fine.”
“Yet anyone can pass a stake and a length of silver through the food slot,” Godric said.
“Does she look like someone plotting to murder anyone? She didn’t even know how to use the fucking food carousel when I got her to safety! I told her not to even think about touching the coffin and she didn’t. She didn’t even lift up the bed skirt.”
Godric looked over Ros, assessing the fact that she had proven herself trustworthy in this case. “We will discuss this later, Eric.”
“Fader, please.” A trickle of blood escaped his nose. Another stream found its way down his ear.
Godric let out a deep sigh and padded over to a door in the corner of his room. He keyed in and pushed it open to reveal a set of stairs descending into the earth. “You may not sleep in my bed.”
“Great. Cement floor it is then.”
Godric blocked the heavy door with his body and looked up at his tall progeny. “There is an extra-large travel coffin in the wardrobe. How could you think I would forget to consider my child? You always have a place in my home and at my side.” Eric bowed his head and placed a grateful hand on his maker’s shoulder, then disappeared down the stairwell.
“You don’t sleep in here,” Rosalyn realized.
“No. I’d never even used this bed before.” He rejoined Ros under the covers.
“Will you sleep here with me?”
Godric searched his bond with Eric to see whether he had settled. The Viking had passed out the second his head hit the pillow. They were alone once more. “We look truly dead during the day. We almost never move.”
“I don’t mind.”
“I do. We’re completely vulnerable.”
The problem loomed over them. A vampire’s resting place was his most carefully guarded secret. “Okay. Would you feel safer if I slept down there with you?”
“It is not a place for humans. When the door closes, it is completely sealed. There’s no circulating air. It’s a crypt, Rosalyn. You could suffocate. Perhaps I can have it modified with an oxygen scrubber and climate control.”
She sighed, understanding this issue was complex for him. “Alright.”
“I have insomnia,” he admitted, letting his eyes wander to the ceiling. “Two days out of five the sun doesn’t affect me. Someone must have worn me out if I’m feeling the sun so clearly today.” He joked in a weak attempt to lighten the mood. “I should let myself rest. I haven’t slept since Eric told me he thought his life was in danger.”
“When was that?” She dreaded the answer.
His eyes stayed fixed upwards. “Two weeks ago.”
“Oh Godric!” She put a sympathetic hand on his silent chest.
“Even if I stay up here, I’ll be too hyper-alert to truly let myself sleep if you’re at my side. You’re asking me to do something I’ve literally never done before. I know in my head that you mean me no harm, but it goes against my every instinct.” Godric found himself yawning. “You mustn’t tell Eric about my insomnia. I don’t want him to know.”
“I have my reasons as his maker. Will you keep this secret for me? It’s in his best interest that he doesn’t find out just yet.”
“You’re testing me,” she said flatly. “You and Eric both do this constantly.”
“Godric, I will do my utmost to keep this secret for you. But you need to be realistic. I’m human. We make mistakes. If I accidently let something slip or Eric glamours me into telling him if he suspects I’m hiding something from him, are you just going to shut down on me?”
“We are all fallible, Rosalyn. That is my point. We need to reconcile our different imperfections so that together we are stronger, not more vulnerable. You trust too easily; I am probably too distrustful.”
“‘Probably’? You yourself said tonight that you only fully trust Eric. It has isolated you. I saw that at the ball and it is heartbreaking to me. You have to let me in if you want to know me.”
“Yes,” he said, finally meeting her gaze. “This is why we have so much to learn from each other. I want to teach you to be more skeptical about certain things that are dangerous to you and I ask that in return that you help me with how wary I am of what I know is dangerous to me. Right now you want to be with me at my weakest and I will give that to you, but it is going to take a little time. We said we both wanted a relationship built in trust. Let us try something. Call it a show of good faith on both our parts.”
Godric slid out of bed and went to the main bedroom door. He tapped in bypass codes on the security panel with rapid fire keystrokes. Ros peered over his shoulder, stroking the serpent tattoo on his back while she watched. The digital screen bleeped in protest and then blinked, waiting for its next command.
“I’ve given you my mark of protection. Now you can give me the security I need. What I am about to entrust you with is nothing less than my life and that of my progeny. Only two others have access to this door – Isabelle and Eric. No one but me has access to that door,” he pointed across the room to the antechamber. “Two doors protect me in the daytime when I am vulnerable. This whole wing is light-proof and I want you to be able to move about the house during the daytime as you please, but I need you to understand the responsibility.”
“Of course. Just tell me how to use it.”
He pressed her hand onto the cool glass screen. It recorded her digital signature with a ping. Godric kissed her knuckles lightly. “You will protect me, Rosalyn, as I will protect you?”
“Yes,” she nodded, finding his mouth irresistible.
“Let me explain, then. This door cannot be left open for more than thirty seconds or it will put my entire system on lockdown. After thirty seconds, the door will automatically close and trip an alarm, leaving you on whichever side you’ve ended up on. You won’t be able to get a single door or window anywhere in the entire house open, this one included, until I am able to reset it. This door won’t open if the sleeping chamber door is open and vice versa, unless I use a bypass code. These two doors are virtually impenetrable. Someone would have to literally blow up the house to get past them and even then, that is the point of the airtight sleeping chamber. You could drop a missile on this place and it would hardly rattle the walls down there.”
“Let’s talk about what to do in an emergency. Say there is a fire, intruders, or you get stuck in this room and you need to get out, for example. Hit this red button here. Red is your panic button and it’s on all the security panels throughout the house. Don’t hesitate to use it. I’d rather have a false alarm any day. The alarm will get me moving, even during the daylight. Eric is a slowpoke by comparison, but it will rouse him too. You won’t hear the alarm – it’s a higher frequency than your ears can detect. But if the red button starts blinking, it is working.”
“Here’s a hypothetical. If someone were to force into the house and you were outside this door, say in the kitchen getting a snack, they might try to use you to get into this room. Imagine they threaten you. Maybe they have a weapon of some sort. What do you do?”
“That’s the wrong answer, darling,” he said gently. “Do not hesitate. You don’t even consider trying to fight for me. You help them. I’m this old because I’m that hard to kill. If someone threatens you, you help them. Maybe put on a little show about what a jerk I’ve been to you so it looks like you’re happy to double cross me. Do you understand?”
“Okay. I let them in. But then what?”
“Very good question. If you haven’t been able to hit a panic button, use the system against itself. Open the door for them and tell them you cannot access the sleeping chamber. Convince them to come inside and show them your palm doesn’t work on the other door. Let the door stay open so that it hits the thirty second mark and locks them in. Try to get back out into the hallway if you can, but even if you get locked in here with someone stupid enough to cross me, I’ll be faster when that alarm sounds. Much faster.”
“I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t a little daunting. Is there something specific I need to be worried about? Is that why you’re telling me all this?”
“Not anything more than the usual. The were-packs in Dallas have been squabbling lately. The faction that guards the exterior perimeter of the estate is loyal to me, but I’d rather you not go wandering around beyond the property during the daytime. The Fellowship of the Sun headquarters are also based nearby, as I think you know, which is one of the reasons they need a good Sheriff here to keep tabs on their activities. The weres and the human zealots are dangerous to us and to anyone associated with a vampire. They have a big advantage so long as the sun is up.”
“Fair enough. I’m probably going to sleep until sundown anyways.”
He smiled. “Good, then I’ll get to see you wake.” Her hands wound around his waist and she found herself yawning. “One last thing. While these doors are bomb proof, the rest of the exits in the house are pretty sturdy, but only in a standard way. All you need to do is throw a chair through a window if you need to escape. The closest one is at the end of this wing, just to the right. Over-fortification doesn’t make you safer; barriers can easily become death traps. I like options.”
“Let me see that I understand this. If there’s any problem at all, I find a way to trip the alarm. If I even suspect there’s something off, I trip the alarm. If the pizza delivery guy looks at me the wrong way, I hit the alarm.”
“The guards won’t let anyone past the gate. Caleb is the head day guard. You saw him when we came in. Only open the front door for him, okay? If any of the other guards are knocking on my door during the daylight, even if they have something you’ve ordered – especially if they have something you’ve called in – there’s a problem. It might be just as simple as my people screwing up; only Caleb is allowed to approach the house. But in any event – ”
“Red button if it’s not Caleb.”
“You got it.”
“I feel like I’ve just been promoted to the Secret Service or something. It’s kind of fun. But I’m going to try really hard not to set off the alarm by being an idiot so you know I’m trustworthy and can use your system correctly. I won’t leave the house, since Dallas is apparently full of wackos who might use a vampire’s girlfriend to get to him.”
Godric smirked. “Are you my girlfriend now?”
“Hmm. Maybe that’s a little silly. We’re both way too old for that. There’s no way you’re anyone’s boyfriend. That just sounds off.”
He laughed. “Paramour? Special friend?”
“You’re a gentleman caller and I’m his mistress?” she suggested and found herself swept up in his arms.
“Mmm, my mistress, huh? I like the sound of that. You are already definitely my lover,” he said heatedly and pressed her back into the bed, covering her up. His desire was already stirring again and Rosalyn felt the same heat rising in her too. His hand slipped under the sheets to cup her damp sex. “You are still so full of me,” he said, his voice husky.
“It will heal you, but if you feel any discomfort when you wake, any at all, please tell me. Wake me up with the alarm if you like. I will take care of you.” He wanted to say more, but he does not want to sound overbearing.
“Discomfort? Just the sound of your voice and the touch of your hand is getting me riled up again. You had better scram if you want some shut eye, mister. I might just try to convince you to go another round and from the sound of it you’re way overdue for your beauty rest.”
He laughed into her neck, inhaling deeply, committing the scent of her blood and his mark and their sex to his eternal memory. Firsts were truly rare for him and it pained him to let the day claim him.
The velvet of his skin under her fingers felt magnetic and she too was loath to let him go. “This evening has been magic, Godric. Thank you.”
“The magic has all been your spell. It is you who deserves thanks.” He kissed her once, then twice for good measure. “Know that I do not part from you so easily.” He paused for a moment, remembering an old quotation. “‘I don’t want learning, or dignity, or respectability. I want this music, and this dawn, and the warmth of your cheek against mine’.” Rosalyn blushed at his romanticism. “I may be up by the time you awake. Think of what you would like to do tomorrow evening. My nights are yours.”
“Alright, handsome. Go tuck yourself into bed and have sweet dreams.”
Godric smiled. “Until tomorrow, Rosalyn.”
A/N: What did you think? See the box below? Leave a comment! Reviews get me motivated to write and Godric can’t wait to tell you the simple secret to unlocking his security system.