Eric and Rosalyn were splayed out on the living room floor sorting through the tribute she had received following her disastrous demon attack. They were making progress separating what could be sold off when Eric opened a rectangular case. “Oh, what in the name of the Nine fucking Realms,” he swore.
“What is it?” she said. Eric held up an antique necklace with a string of enormous square emeralds encircled with diamonds. “Oh, hell no. Please tell me we can dump that one. I would never wear something like that. Just give it to Pam or something.”
“We can’t. She would wear it and then we would be in a metric shit-ton of trouble. This is from Queen Sophie-Anne Leclerq of Louisiana – my boss. And if you ever have the unfortunate occasion to meet that nasty bitch, it would probably be best to be wearing it to show your ‘appreciation’.”
Rosalyn groaned in disgust. “Fine, throw it in the ‘keep’ pile.” She grumbled something about how mining industries were gross pits of human rights violations.
Caleb Cash emerged from Godric’s office just as Eric was reaching for the next gift. The werewolf was red-eyed and looked worse for the wear. He avoided meeting Eric’s amused gaze and slunk out the front door. Eric gestured for Rosalyn to get up and they left the pile of cards and the long tribute inventory list on the rug. In the Sheriff’s office, they sat in the armchairs in front of the desk. Godric paced the room, arms behind his back. “We need a Britlingan bodyguard,” the ancient declared. “Maybe two Britlingans.”
“For how long?” Eric said. The elusive beings were extraordinarily difficult to summon and their services were even more difficult to secure.
“We’ll need them for at least a year. Maybe more.”
“Godric, we don’t have that kind of money now. Or have you forgotten?” The Celt barked something in another language at Eric and slammed his fist on the desk. “That’s not a long-term plan,” Eric replied. “Roman is going to want his demon back. Let’s think of how we can leverage Ronwe first.”
They volleyed ideas back and forth at a dizzying pace. Each option seemed to come with fallout. Rosalyn could only half follow the discussion. Much of what was said was in forgotten tongues. They spoke of old allies and old enemies, of debts and favors owed. It was all ancient history. None of it provided a solution deemed satisfactory. Eric started yelling in Old Norse and Godric lost it and yelled right back at him. Their strategic brainstorming devolved into an outright argument.
The intercom on Godric’s desk beeped. “What?” he barked.
“Sheriff Amleth and a human named Sookie Stackhouse are requesting to enter the estate,” Stan reported from the gatehouse.
Godric pinched the bridge of his nose in total exasperation. “Let them pass.”
Within minutes, there was a knock at the door. Isabelle escorted Amleth and his ward into the office. Sookie waved at Rosalyn. She was wearing a bubblegum pink sundress with her bleached hair swept up off her neck. She looked like tarted-up vampire bait.
“What part of ‘keep that woman away from this family’ did you not understand?” Godric said, seething. Amleth dropped into a chair without invitation. He popped the top off a Royalty Blended that Isabelle had offered him and took a swig. “Answer me!” Godric said. “Does it look like I have time for this?”
Godric crossed his arms and ground his jaw. “Do not fool with me right now, Amleth. Depends on what?”
“On whether having the only direct heir of the Fae crown Prince Niall Brigant in your office improves your situation at the moment.”
“Oh, fuck you!” Eric retorted. If this was meant to be a joke, no one was laughing.
“I’m not toying with you, mate. She’s the illegitimate granddaughter of Fintan sodding Brigant. She’s been right in your backyard this whole time.”
Godric and Eric were stunned. Sookie looked sheepishly at her manicured toes. “It turns out my Gran took some pretty big secrets to her grave.”
“Eric, remember how your predecessor’s assassin was never caught?” Amleth said.
The Viking gave a wary look. “You have got to be…No. Fairy?”
“You guessed it. Niall had the old Sheriff taken out knowing you wanted Area Five. You thought you won the sheriffdom fair and square? You were installed, Eric. Niall has been banking on our support since he discovered Sookie had ‘The Spark’.”
“So he could force this bloodline’s hand into becoming involved in their accursed fairy treachery? Unbelievable. Amla, you tell that psycho prince he had better not come anywhere near me.” Godric sunk into his chair and ran a hand over his face, galled that the Fae were yet again interfering with their lives. Their kind had a very tenuous truce with the creatures. He gestured to the chair next to Rosalyn. “Have a seat, Fairy Princess.”
Sookie giggled at the moniker. “Why thank you, Mr. Godric. May I say, your house is real stunning! What a showplace!”
Eric cocked an eyebrow at Rosalyn and mimicked lighting a match. She suppressed a laugh that drew Amleth’s attention. He truly looked at her for the first time since his arrival. He choked on his drink seeing the sheen of ancient blood radiating off of every inch of her. Sputtering, he wiped the drips from his chin with the back of his hand. “Godric…how? Dr. Murray, you look simply radiant this evening. I take it you are feeling better?”
“Much better. We got your card. Thank you.” Amleth winked at her. Sookie cut her eyes at Rosalyn and huffily adjusted her dress strap. She scooted closer to Amleth.
“Is Niall willing to negotiate with the High Council on our behalf?” Godric said.
“He’s been cagey, but I think we have a shot,” Amleth said. “Faerie isn’t safe for Sookie and she needs a powerful vampire to protect her from others who would enslave her to gain access to her power. Roman will forget all about Rosalyn once he knows we have a Brigant princess with telepathy as our bargaining chip.”
“Surely you don’t mean to hand her over to him,” Godric protested.
“Heavens no. Sookie has expressed an interest in going back to London with me. I’ve a mind to make her my Eliza Doolittle project. Polish her up and help her get her own consulting business started. If Roman wants her services, he can pay exorbitantly for them like everyone else.”
Godric looked visibly relieved. “You’ll take responsibility for Ms. Stackhouse? See that no harm comes to her?”
“Do you agree to this, Ms. Stackhouse?”
“Oh yes! Amleth was telling me all about his mansion in Belsize Park on the way here. I guess that’s north London? He says I can go to college if I want and see all the sights and eventually travel through the whole continent! I’ve never been out of the country. Heck, this is only the second time I’ve ever been out of Louisiana. Let’s face it. I was going nowhere fast serving burgers in a two-stoplight town. This is a big opportunity.”
“Very well,” Godric said.
“What about the AVL and Nan? We’re going to have to patch that up somehow,” Eric said.
Amleth growled. “Somebody needs to shorten her leash. What did she think she was doing messing with this family?”
Godric sighed. “The woman is a fool. She wanted to turn us into a celebrity couple for her own political advancement. She thought Roman would reward her with more power.”
“Seriously? ‘Godalyn’? ‘Rodric’? Give me a break,” Amleth snorted.
“I doubt she will bother trying anything further with us. Godric absolutely terrified her,” Eric said.
“Alright. I’ll get a hold of Niall and finalize the deal.”
“We still have a demon in the basement to deal with,” Eric reminded them.
“I’m going to twist that little shite’s head off,” Amleth declared.
“I don’t think that’s an option, Amla, although I’ve already given him a pretty good working over. Godric, do you think Desmond could send him back to the Underworld? Find some way to break the contract Roman forced on him?”
Godric chewed at his cheek. “Perhaps.”
“Who’s Desmond?” Rosalyn whispered to Eric.
“Desmond Cataliades. He’s a half-demon and one of our best lawyers.”
Godric drummed his fingers on the desk in thought. “Isabelle?”
She materialized at the door in seconds. “Yes, Sheriff?”
“Get Cataliades on the phone.”
“Why won’t you just get a damn phone, Maker? You need one all the time,” Eric said.
“Because one can be tracked through those treacherous devices. You know this. It is not safe.”
Eric rolled his eyes. Isabelle returned with her cell.
“Desmond,” Godric said. “Yes, she is well now.” Godric shifted into the strangest language Rosalyn had ever heard. The demon tongue sounded like Klingon.
Rosalyn’s head bounced. She startled awake as Godric was tucking her into bed. She had curled up on his office couch with a book while he, Amleth, and Eric had batted around further plans. Isabelle entertained Sookie with one of her thorough tours of the property. Rosalyn curled under the covers. Godric programmed Eric’s palm print into his underground bunker and Eric lugged his travel coffin upstairs into the main bedroom and dropped it at the foot of the master bed.
“I’ll be right here if you need me,” Eric told her and locked himself inside. Godric kissed Rosalyn goodnight.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“I need to go talk to our prisoner.” His expression was murderous.
She tried to rest, but her dreams were fitful. The memory of the demon’s touch burned in her sleep and she woke repeatedly. Only the lamp on the dresser was lit and through the dim light she could see that Eric’s coffin was still closed. The house was silent, but it was late in the day. Rosalyn got out of bed and coded open the main door.
“Godric?” she called down the corridor. She tiptoed down the hall and peaked into his study. It was empty. The gym was pitch black. Further down, she heard what sounded like the rhythmic swish of a laundry machine. She followed the noise and found Godric doing laps in the pool. He sensed her presence and rolled onto his back, floating away from her.
“Come to bed, love,” she said from the tile edge. The underwater pool light showered the ceiling with eerie silver ripples.
“I need to think. Please go back to the bedroom. It is safer there.”
“It’s past noon. Won’t you try to sleep?”
“No,” he said and rolled over. He resumed his perfectly timed strokes. She called to him above the water. He ignored her.
The next night, Rosalyn discovered Godric had moved her mini fridge into the bedroom and left her a hotplate and a box of her kitchen utensils.
When she knocked on his closed office door, he calmly told her he and Eric were working and that she needed to keep to the most secure room in the house. Her jaw dropped. He had never been so high-handed with her. Amleth slipped past her with an armload full of paperwork and silently shook his head in warning.
On the third night, both she and Eric were banished to the bedroom. Roman had apparently called looking for his demon and demanded that the Stackhouse woman be turned over to him. Godric hung up on him.
“This is going to turn into a full-scale war,” Ros said glumly.
“It is early days yet,” Eric said. Ros spun circles in an armchair and stared up at the ceiling.
“Where is he sleeping?” Eric asked from the floor. “I know he hasn’t been in that bed since he healed you. Where is he during the day, Ros?”
A cold dread coursed through her. “You’ll have to ask him.”
“What are you hiding?” He rolled up to a sit.
Rosalyn clamped her eyes shut. “Ask him yourself. If you glamour me, he’ll be very angry with us both.”
A wrinkle of concern formed across Eric’s brow. “If there is something you know, you must tell me. Don’t keep secrets from me, especially when they concern my maker.”
“I am telling you to ask your maker that question,” she repeated slowly.
He was about to protest when suddenly the shriek of the alarm pierced his preternatural hearing. In a blur, Eric ripped a sword from a scabbard on the wall. Rosalyn leapt to her feet, unsure of what was happening. “Move! Stand there!” he snapped. Rosalyn practically tripped over herself to get in the blind spot behind the door. It was only then that she saw the LED pad of the alarm flashing red. They waited for tense minutes, Eric poised to attack.
“I thought that thing was fake,” she whispered, nodding at the longsword in his hands. Eric snorted and kept a laser-like focus on the door. Ten minutes went by and finally Eric heard Godric call to him.
“All clear,” he said, relaxing.
Rosalyn exhaled a breath she was not aware of holding. “What was that?”
“I think Derek nearly got away from Godric.”
It was nearly dawn when Eric tapped very lightly on Godric’s office door. The ancient had grown fractious and taciturn the past few nights. Eric hated when Godric spiraled into one of his black moods. Eric entered cautiously. “Maker?” Godric looked up from his desk. “I need to ask you something.”
“You have not been sleeping in the master suite. Ros refused to tell me why. It was clear she knew. Please tell me what is going on.”
Godric pinched his brow. “I am extremely worried about the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in and I’ve been working through the day to resolve it.”
Eric narrowed his eyes. He could feel through their bond that this was a half-truth. “But the bleeds. And you haven’t fed.”
“I rarely get them anymore.”
“Hmm.” Eric knew Godric was concealing something. He would figure it out eventually. “Any luck finding a Britlingen?”
“No,” Godric said tersely. “Now leave me be.”
A few days later, Godric finally made the decision he had agonized over day and night. He slipped into the master bedroom and disengaged the lock on Eric’s coffin. He roused Eric as gently as possible, knowing how poorly he reacted to daytime surprises.
“Come,” he ordered. Eric was groggy and lumbered gracelessly, following his maker without question into the spacious library. When they sat, Godric addressed his child in the most formal title their kind had to use. “Blood of my blood, my only progeny, we need to talk.” If Eric had not been awake before, he was now. “I apologize for waking you midday, but what I have to say is not for anyone to hear in this house but us.”
Eric blinked in surprise and nodded. “How can I serve you, Maker?”
“I have a solution.”
“Fantastico. What’s the game plan?”
“I need to ask you something, but if you choose to do it, you must do it for yourself and not for me.”
Eric was entirely unprepared for what came out of Godric’s mouth. So stunned was he that he nearly fell out of his chair. “I would ask how you feel about blood bonding with Rosalyn. A permanent bond.”
“What? But she is yours! How the hell does that solve anything?”
“Calm yourself. I am not finished. Hear me out…”
Rosalyn woke to find Eric’s coffin empty. It seemed quite early for him to be up and about. She stretched and yawned, then made her way down the hallway. She heard voices in Godric’s library. They went silent when she knocked.
She opened the heavy door to a smiling Godric. Eric turned in his chair. “Oh! Eric, you’re bleeding!” she said. Rosalyn grabbed a tissue from a dispenser on a side table and went to him. Eric was wearing a strange expression – something between shock and total awe. She dabbed at the dribbles of blood at his ears. His mouth was agape. He turned back to his maker.
“Eric, honestly. How many times have I said ‘yes.’”
“Really? Really, really?”
“Yes, damn you!” Godric said, laughing.
Eric leapt to his feet and Rosalyn suddenly found herself crushed in a Viking-sized bear hug. “Ouch, Eric, that’s too hard! You always squeeze too hard!” She thumped his back. He loosened his grip only to whisk her off her feet and swing her in a circle. He babbled incoherently at her a mile a minute. “Eric, what the hell has gotten into you?” He answered with another stream of Norse, even more excited. He bounced her up and down in wide circles. “English!” she demanded, unable to hold back her laughter at his enthusiasm.
“Put her down child, before you break her,” Godric said mildly. Eric dropped her only to snag up his maker and start spinning like a Tasmanian devil. Godric threw back his head cackled. It was one of the very few times he had ever allowed his child to treat him like a rag doll.
When Eric finally set him down, Eric dropped to his knees before Rosalyn and took her hands in his. “Have I told you how much you mean to me for saving my maker?” He looked up at her with awe. “I adored you the moment I realized you fed my maker and made him happy. You drive me crazy with your stubbornness and your hippy dippy shit, but I love, love, love, love you for what you’ve done for this family. There aren’t words enough.”
Ros laughed nervously, glancing at Godric to check his reaction. He was wearing a self-satisfied smirk with his arms crossed. “Enough, Eric. We need to get ready.”
“Are you going somewhere?” she said.
“Yes, we are. It’s a surprise.”
“Oh. Okay.” She patted the top of the blond’s head awkwardly, trying to get him to release her.
“Move it, Eric,” Godric growled.
Eric hopped up and then, spring-loaded, went boinging out the doorway, his giddiness uncontained. “Are you going to explain that?” Rosalyn said. “Because I am really confused.” The Viking could run hot and cold, but he certainly did not boing.
“In short order, my love. Come, we should change.”
“I’m going too? What are we dressing for?”
“Like I said, it’s a surprise. Now, would you mind wearing your sundress? The one you wore the night we met? You don’t have to, but – ”
“Sure. How’d you know I packed it?” she said.
“I might have peeked.”
“Naughty vampire.” He gave her a lopsided smile.
Godric strode into the master suite and began issuing orders. With that, the house was thrown into sudden, absolute chaos. Without asking and using her super speed, Isabelle stripped Rosalyn out of her nightgown and put her in a beautiful coral color underwear set and her sundress before Rosalyn could even lodge a complaint. Godric was at the large vanity and tried on and discarded at least three different suits before settling on a grey cashmere sweater.
“Get my winter peacoat, Isabelle.” She disappeared into the enormous walk-in closet and there was much shuffling. “Look with your eyes, Isabelle, not with your hands. Stop pawing your scent all over my things,” Godric barked.
“Do you want the boiled wool one or the brushed wool?” Isabelle said.
“The pea coat, I told you…”
“They’re both blue peacoats!”
“Oh, for the love of the gods! Just find it!”
Rosalyn crawled onto the bed in an attempt to steer clear of the insanity. It was all for naught, however, because Eric immediately heaved the contents of a chest out next to her, spilling a heavy splash of jewelry into an impossible, priceless pile. He started combing through it like rubble.
“Ow!” he belted out, retracting a scorched finger. “Fucking balls, Godric! Why must you insist on mixing your silver with everything else? Ros, dear, can you move that bracelet?” She set it aside and he continued pawing through the jewelry.
“What are you after?” she asked.
“A little bronze Thor’s hammer. It’s very special.” She helped pick through the glittering pieces. Despite her purported disinterest in gems, he caught her eyes wandering back several times to a large South Sea pearl ring in the mess. “You’re certain you didn’t leave it in the Amsterdam vault?” Eric pressed his maker.
“No, I told you,” Godric said. He was brushing out his hair, unconcerned that every other creature was in a frenzy to please him.
“Well, where the hell is it then? It’s not here.”
“Damn. Maybe I did leave it in Amsterdam.”
Eric huffed in frustration and pulled the necklace off his own throat. He slipped it over Godric’s head and tucked the two little steel anchors hanging from it underneath his sweater, smoothing out the fabric. A look passed between them and Eric gave his maker’s arm a squeeze.
“Bingo!” Isabelle called out from the closet. She whipped out the coat she had been hunting.
Godric snapped at his son and pulled out the chair in front of the vanity mirror. “C’mon, sweetpea,” Eric said. “I’m going to do your hair.” At this point, Rosalyn did not bother resisting. She plopped down at the dressing table. “Do you want kick ass Valkyrie goddess or boring old French braid?”
“Are those my only options?” she said.
“It’s going to be really windy. Let’s go with badass Viking.” She harrumphed, but when it was said and done, she had to admit it was pretty much the coolest hairstyle she had ever donned. Eric had pulled the top of her hair into a poof and wound the sides into intricate criss-crossing braids that gnarled and looped in a tumble. While he put the finishing touches on it with a few carefully placed strands of pearls, Isabelle gave her a quick manicure and pedicure and plucked a few stray hairs off her eyebrows.
This night was getting exponentially weirder by the second. Godric tucked her tightly into his coat and tied a heavy scarf around her neck.
“Honey, I am going to sweat to death in this,” she said to him. “What is going on?”
“We’re going flying.”
In the front yard of the estate, Godric pressed Rosalyn against his body and wrapped two iron arms around her. “I won’t go higher than 10,000 feet so you can breathe, but it’s going to be a bit of a longer jaunt than last time. Just let me know if you get cold or uncomfortable.”
They flew – and few fast – for what seemed like an hour or more. The cloud cover was thick and she could not tell where they were, but when Godric descended, Rosalyn squealed in delight. “Our valley!”
Godric landed in the same desert canyon in New Mexico where they had first taken their walk. The moon was not as bright as it was when they were last there, but it still provided enough gentle light to see.
“My darling Ros,” Godric said, looking very serious. He sund to one knee, taking up her hands. She sucked in a sharp breath in surprise. “Rosalyn Euphrenia Murray, you have stunned me to my very core. I find I cannot live without you. It is more than just a want. I desire you, of course, with every fiber of my being. But I find that I need you. I need you desperately.”
“Oh Godric…” she said through a quivering lip.
“This business with Ronwe and Roman has had me wracked with fear for your safety. I apologize for being distant these past few days. I have searched desperately for a way to allow you to live freely without being exposed to further danger. For two millennia, I have taken from this world. I have taken untold amounts of life. I took Eric. I was Death itself. Now is the time for giving. I must restore the balance. You have taught me this. The night we met again at the charity ball I promised myself to let you lead. I wish to give myself to you. I wish to give you everything I have, everything I am. I am yours, if you will have me.”
He pulled out the ring she had seen in the pile of jewels she and Eric had dug through. The enormous pearl was clasped in a delicate diamond tracery. He slipped it over her finger. He looked up at her, his face full of raw, boyish hope.
Tears were streaming from her eyes. “Oh, Godric! How did you…this is beautiful. You are so beautiful!” She cupped his face and pressed a teary kiss to his mouth.
“Could you walk this world with me? Will you teach me how to see its beauty again? Could you be my companion?”
“What…what are you asking?” she whispered, sinking to her knees in front of him.
“Would you share your life with me?”
“Yes,” she breathed, barely making sound.
“Would you share eternity with me?” Her heart skipped a beat and she started shaking. “I can only give you the moon and the stars. Would you be my light, love?”
Rosalyn threw her arms around him in response and tackled him flat onto his back. “Of course. We’ll never let the light out!” she cried. “The night will always be abloom with flowers.” They kissed in furious desperation.
“Where do we do it?” she said when she finally has to surface for air.
“Wherever you wish.”
“Does it matter?”
“Not terrifically. Somewhere safe, obviously, and light-tight. The location will affect your scent.”
He nodded. “I was made inside a huge old oak tree in a sacred grove, so I smell of sweet autumn leaves and the oil I was using to make my sacrifices to the gods. I was in the middle of a rite of passage. Obviously, it didn’t go quite according to plan.”
She laughed. “Thank goodness for that. And Eric?”
“Mmm. Eric smells incredible. Like the cold ocean and fir trees with the slightest hint of burning hickory. I turned him in a cave near the Baltic Sea,” he said, hiding his pride behind long thick lashes.
Ros was certain he would blush if he could. A shadow of horror suddenly crossed her features. “But …Eric!” she said.
“Eric has given me his blessing. I wouldn’t have proceeded without it. I was surprised by his reaction, to say the least.”
“That was why he was bouncing off the walls?”
“He told me it’s the best gift I could ever give him save for turning him. He is beyond thrilled at the possibility of having a blood sister.”
“Good. That’s reassuring. So, what would I smell like if you turned me here?”
Godric hesitated. “I only meant to pose the question here. It felt appropriate. There is much more I must tell you before you decide.”
“Why not now? Let’s do it here!” she said. Her face fell. “No? Would I smell bad?”
Godric scented the air deeply. “You would…you would smell like the wild wind,” he gasped. He bit his lip to keep it from trembling. “And you would smell…like…the sun.” A crimson tear escaped and streamed thickly down his cheek. He smeared it off and she sucked it greedily from his finger before he could protest.
“Oh my love, don’t cry,” she said. “Let’s not wait. Now is our moment!”
Godric steadied himself with a few measured breaths. “Let me say my piece. This is very important.” She urged him to continue. “First, I wish to tell you how absolutely delicious you smell and feel and taste as a mortal. I will go to ground the rest of my days loving the way you are to me right now. I will never forget it. It is because I love you so much that I must keep it only as a memory. I tell you this now so you will never doubt it later.” He toyed with the end of one of her braids.
“If you choose this, you must understand that I will be your maker. Many younglings struggle with this today. Our world as you now well know can be a very dangerous place. I do not pretend otherwise. But turning you is the only way I can protect you truly. No one will dare touch my progeny. I promise that I will always try my best to give you a choice in things, but there may be matters when your safety or the safety of our family comes first. Do not think for a second that I won’t use my command over you or correct you when you err dangerously. This is paramount. These are not modern marriage vows where we can edit out the parts we don’t like. It is non-negotiable. My dominion over you will be absolute until the day I die, as will my dedication to you.”
“You’re right. It’s not an easy thing to embrace.”
“Which is why it comes with a promise. The night Eric rose, I promised him that I would never abuse my maker’s command over him. You can ask him whether he believes me a fair maker before you make your final decision. I believe I have stayed true to my word and I promise you the same. Know that I will never lie to you out of malice, though there may be things I cannot tell you.”
“Can I ask something in return?”
“Will you listen to me, especially when I think you’re hiding things from yourself?”
Godric gave a sheepish smile. “Yes.”
“And will you hear me out and take what I have to say into consideration? Will you talk to me and not give me the silent treatment when you have your head up your ass? Because I’m not signing up for that.”
“Yes. I will do that for you.”
“I swear it on the blood. Your counter request brings me to the last couple things I want to say.”
“Is the plan to talk me to death, mister?”
He gave the braid he had been rolling between his fingers a teasing tug. “You will inevitably be tempted to compare yourself to Eric and me, as well as Pamela. You will yearn for our powers far sooner than they will come and you mustn’t be frustrated by this. They will come in time if they come. They may not. You may have your own unique gifts, we shall see. With time you will also learn much about the lives we have led. Obviously, there is a millennium of history between myself and my first child and we will gladly share those memories with you. But I don’t want for you to look at Eric and feel jealousy. Ever. We have our own road to travel, you and me. What is critical for you to understand is that this is your journey and yours alone.”
“I get that part. I can’t begrudge you for the past. But I don’t want to mess up things between you two, either. I’m worried. Eric has been an only child for a long darn time.”
“Indeed. I want you to consider forming a blood bond with Eric before you are turned. It is your choice to accept or not, but I will tell you it is something I wish for very much. Eric has already agreed if you are willing.”
“But…” Her mouth dropped as she tried to wrap her head around the implications.
“It would be a rare thing – to have a bonded turned by another bonded, child and maker no less. The bond would seal in you. You two would be one in the blood and I find the thought pleases me greatly. It would allow you two to sense and feel each other far more than regular siblings.”
“You want him to know me like that? To be inside my head forever and me in his?”
“You saw him. He’s over the moon about having a little sister and you’re still breathing. How overbearing, high-handed, and overprotective do you suppose he’ll be when and if you are actually turned?”
“Oh sweet Jesus…”
“Exactly. It would stop him from taking things too far. He would know when he makes you unhappy, when he’s hurting you, when you need his help. I can find no downside. Eric is a crucial part of me. I am offering you everything I have. There are no exceptions.” She let out a deep breath, feeling overwhelmed. “There is one final thing, love. You must know that as in all things magic, sometimes something can go awry.”
“I could end up dying.”
“Yes,” he said, looking grim.
“You will go on. That’s my bargain. If something screws up, you and Eric must forge ahead. You will remember and cherish and continue. It’s the time for giving, like you said.”
He bit his cheek and agreed. “Even if we succeed, and I have every reason to think we will, it will be painful at the very end. You won’t suffer as Eric did, but I cannot make it painless.”
“You are forgetting that I’m a woman, Godric. We are built for far bloodier purposes than war. I have the power of creation.”
“Indeed, you do. Are you certain you want to give it up?”
“But vampires don’t, really, do they?”
A sly smile reached the corners of his mouth. “No, we don’t.”
“I want you to turn me, Godric. Teach me how to survive the nightlife. Give me the moon and the stars and an eternity with the one I love.”
“You are certain?”
“Now you’re just dawdling!”
He laughed and then closed his eyes in concentration. Tendrils of his ancient power thrust out into the night and bounced of the walls of the desert. A twisting colony of bats shot into the sky in a winged column. “There’s our spot. Shall we walk or do you want to fly? Eric will be here soon.”
They made their way across the valley, hand in hand. Somewhere in the night, coyotes yipped and brayed. “What are they singing?” Rosalyn asks.
Godric smiled. “They are celebrating.”
At the valley wall, Godric saved them the treacherous scramble up some hundred feet of crumbling cliff. He flew upwards effortlessly. The cavern ran deep into the mountain and would shield them from daylight. Beyond the opening, it was pitch black. Rosalyn lingered at the opening where she could still catch enough moonlight to see. Godric wrapped his arms around her waist and hummed an ancient love song into her neck, rocking her gently. He could not contain his joy.
It was not long before Eric arrived with a bag of supplies, having received his maker’s call to come. Godric looked at him with unveiled appreciation as Eric lit a lantern and moved to arrange a comfortable place on the ground. He spread a thick blanket out. Eric’s discerning eyes wandered over the cave, appreciating the choice in locale.
“You’re a sneak!” Rosalyn accused, holding up the finger adorned with the pearl ring Eric had slipped into his maker’s pocket.
“What?” he said innocently, unable to suppress his laughter.
Godric squeezed Eric’s shoulder. “She has questions.” Before leaping off the ledge of the cave, he turned. “Thank you, child.”
Rosalyn took a seat on the blanket and fiddled with the knotted fringe at its end. “He is worried you will tell me he was a bad maker. I know that isn’t true.”
“He will be very different with you, but only because you are so different from me. And the times are different. I know without a doubt that he will be everything you need and much, much more. He is the greatest man I have ever known.”
“I worry about the command stuff. Will he be harsh if I make mistakes? He flipped out pretty badly at the charity ball.”
“In a thousand years, Godric has never once abused his power over me. He will guide you. When you err, and you will err, he will simply help you to your feet and make you stronger. My trust in him is absolute. My faith in him is even greater.” Eric’s words were full of passion. He pressed a fist against his chest to stress his point. “The only true error you can make – and I cannot stress this enough – is to purposefully defying him by doing something incredibly stupid and dangerous that jeopardizes our lives like I did at the ball. He does not tolerate insubordination when it comes to the safety of his bloodline.”
“What about my humanity?”
Eric took a moment to respond. “What is it that makes anyone human? Certainly not when you wake up or what you eat. We were all human. The transformation simply makes us…more.”
“But my ability to empathize with others? To resist violence? To care for others rather than cause pain?”
“Ros, what you speak of is character. Your empathy and goodness are qualities integral to who you are. That doesn’t change. They will very likely carry over as powerful gifts.”
“I don’t want to kill someone in bloodlust.”
“I understand. But you are not vegetarian now. You kill to live, only you have the luxury of not seeing it. You’re not being turned in the Dark Ages. There is bagged blood and synthetic blood and plenty of other ways to help you learn. We’ll do everything to keep that from happening, but there may come a time when it cannot be helped. I won’t lie. The basic impulses of vampires are inconceivably strong. We are hypersensitive to the energies of other living things.”
“Hmm. As a vampire, you will be seduced by the world with all its pleasures and mysteries and capable of seducing it right back. It can be hard not to resist at times. Again, we will guide you to master those impulses.” Eric ran a hand over her arm and slid to his knees. “Min lillasyster, I swear on my maker’s blood that I will guard you and care for you every night that I walk this world. I will honor you and cherish you always.”
Ros swallowed nervously. “Promise not be a pigheaded ass all of the time?”
“I swear on the blood.”
“Will you be serious when it’s important and not terrorize me with your incessant teasing?”
He could not suppress his smile. “How will you know I still love you if I don’t tease you? I offer you my blood, Rosalyn. Will you bond with me?”
She took a deep breath and held out a wrist. Eric shook his head. “We are going to make a full bond. It’s going to take a fair amount of blood. That’s not a good place.”
“Oh, okay.” She tilted her neck in offering.
Eric rolled his eyes. “You forget that I cannot bite into my maker’s blood.” The two large blood marks covered her arteries, making them completely impossible for him to reach.
“Shoot, right. Where then?”
“You’re not going to be happy about this. It’s going to have to be your femoral artery.”
“Oh for god’s sake, Eric. Just behave yourself down there.”
She lifted up her skirt to expose one thigh. Stroking the spot lightly to get the artery to rise, he gently bit and drank up her delicious nectar. He drank for quite some time and she grew very faint. He sealed the spot and caressed her hair. “Shh, Ros, you’ll be fine in a moment. Bite my neck hard. I’ll tell you when to stop.” He leaned over her and she crunched down on him and accidentally let out a moan when his powerful blood hit her tongue. She swallowed down mouthful after mouthful of the cool, thick liquid while he took more from her wrist.
When it was done, she flopped down on the blanket feeling completely high. The chord tethering them settled into place and Eric laid down next to her. The bond was warm and she could feel Eric stirring in her, elated and content.
“I have not given my blood to a human in several centuries,” he whispered.
“Do you feel okay?”
“Read the bond.”
She smiled. “I’m glad you’ll be able to better help me when this is through. You’ve already moved mountains to help me. Thank you. You are a good friend.”
“Anything for you, little sister.” He rolled to a stand and waits at the cave entrance. Godric flew back in and stroked his cheek with a loving look. Eric bowed his head. “I’ll return back to Dallas to deliver the demon to Cataliades.” He turned back to Rosalyn. “See you when you wake.”
Godric knelt down to Rosalyn and cradled her in his arms. “I love you, my heart.”
“I love you too.”
“I’m going to drain you until you fall unconscious, then give you a big draught of my blood, then repeat the process until dawn. You’re going to become very weak by the end of it. Only then I will drink the last of your beautiful human blood. Shall we start?”
“Rosalyn, look into my eyes. I command you to keep going. Be strong, brave one. Do not let your heart stop until I still it forever. I will be right at your side when you rise.” Rosalyn blinked several times at the glamour and nodded. “Then let us begin.”