The first thing the war party agreed upon was that they should not, under any circumstances, appear to be a war party. They needed to split up and return to their respective territories before whispers began to circulate. Though Amleth was Sheriff of one of the most important cities in the world, his multiple roles within the community often meant he had to travel. He was adept at running London through his smartphone with his two children on the ground to execute orders. His absence would be fairly unremarkable to underlings and visitors, but he needed to get Sookie away from Godric’s home, preferably by putting an entire ocean between them. With Pamela joining the family for Rosalyn’s turning, however, Eric and his Second in Command had effectively abandoned Area Five for the past three days.
“Thalia is pissed about having to manage the bar and run interference with your underlings,” Pam told Eric.
The Viking shrugged. “Thalia is always pissed, Pam. I’m sure she’ll be in a better mood when we tell her that she gets to help plan an assassination. Go pack. The plane will be ready within two hours.” Eric prayed no one had become suspicious and mentioned his absence to Queen Sophie-Anne. They needed to keep in her good graces if she was going to host Godric and Rosalyn’s wedding event with minimal fuss.
Godric prepared two bags of blood for Rosalyn when she woke. Once she had dined, she went to leave the basement chamber. He stopped her. “Sweetheart, I need to put a maker’s command on you.”
“The Stackhouse woman will be wandering around the common areas as she and Amleth get ready to depart. You haven’t been around a human yet. I don’t want you to accidentally attack her and regret it.”
“Right, crap. Of course.”
“This is going to feel a bit strange the first time you experience it. I’m going to tell you to not touch her and to stay as far back from her as you possibly can. Does this sound fair?”
Godric spoke the magic words “As your maker, I command you…” and a tingling shiver electrified her spine.
Upstairs, Rosalyn entered the guest wing hallway to find Eric. She heard yelling in the suite next to Eric’s. Sookie was berating Amleth again for something. The blonde tromped out and gave Rosalyn a nasty look. Rosalyn slammed up against the wall to keep away from her, so impossibly strong was Godric’s compulsion. She stuck her head in Amleth’s doorway. “Amla? What the heck was that about?”
He shook his head and told her to come in and shut the door. She sat down next to him on the bed. “I am beginning to regret volunteering to take Sookie under my wing and we aren’t even in London yet. She is a complete pain in the arse.”
“She shouldn’t be rude to you when you’re trying to help her.” Rosalyn said.
“I’ve half a mind to shove her through a fairy porthole and let her great-grandfather deal with how demanding and judgmental she is. You’d think she’s known her whole life that she was a Fae princess. Until a few months ago, she was nothing but a dirt-poor, orphan hayseed from a dump in the middle of nowhere.”
“Maybe it’s best that you haven’t become romantically involved with her. She already acts like she owns you when it is you who are offering her your protection and financial support.”
“Just so, darling. Just so. The Fae are notoriously fickle and take joy in cruelty. She’s a quarter hybrid. My ancestry was more diluted. I lucked out and got most of the good Fae traits and none of the negative ones. She’s got another thing coming if she tries to pull this nonsense in front of my retinue. I hope Godric didn’t just hear her, although he probably did. He has zero tolerance for this sort of behavior. She and that idiot Compton deserved each other.”
“I’m sorry, Amleth. Maybe seeing how much bigger the world is will straighten her out and give her a bit of humility.”
“Let us hope. Otherwise it’s going to be me straightening her out. I don’t have time for that with all my other responsibilities. For all her claims about being ‘a proper southern lady’, she certainly does not behave with gentility.”
“I suppose you could always just turn her over your knee and give her the good butt whooping she needed about 25 years ago.”
Amleth laughed and Rosalyn wrapped her arm around his shoulder. He pulled her close. “My lovely sister. I will miss you. Would you like more of my blood before I leave?”
“No, it’s okay. Our connection will last a few months, right?”
“Yes. I’ll see you at your wedding announcement party and we can renew it then, just to be sure. It’s very important to Godric that we remain connected.”
She carded a hand through his unbelievably soft hair and smiled. “I’ll let you get finished packing. Do you need a hand?”
“No, darling, but thank you. I’ll say goodbye properly when we head out.”
Rosalyn slipped out. Sookie was waiting for her outside Amleth’s door. She jammed an accusatory finger into Rosalyn’s chest. “What were you two doing in there?” she hissed.
Rosalyn looked down at the finger poked into her breast bone and looked back up at the woman. “Get your hand off me.” She retracted as much as the hallway would allow, but there was not much space. She could feel her hunger rising, yet everything in her bones commanded her to stand down. “I was speaking with my blood-bonded brother, not that it’s any of your business.”
“With the door closed? You liar.”
“Liar? Ms. Stackhouse, surely you aren’t insulting and cornering a newborn vampiress who could annihilate you in a second. I suggest you go collect your things and get ready to leave.”
“You’ve got your own boyfriend. Leave mine alone.”
Ros felt how the ancient power in her veins reacted to such an empty threat. Her blood practically vibrated with laughter. “Good luck with that, Sookie. Amleth has no interest in your antics. He is not your boyfriend. He is your savior – and the only one you’ll ever get. The man you just had the audacity to call my ‘boyfriend’? Godric is over two millennia old and my pledged, bonded, husband and maker. You are here as his guest. Act accordingly.”
Sookie swore at Rosalyn and she got far too close into her face. The command placed on Rosalyn made her panic. She was physically incapable of pushing the woman out of the way so that she could escape. Both Amleth and Eric came charging out of their rooms. Eric was on the phone. “One second,” he said to the person on the other end of the line. “You listen to me, you little manipulative, useless bitch,” he barked at Sookie. He grabbed her chin and forced her to look directly into his terrifying gaze. At his full height, he towered over her, fangs bared. “I will send you back to your jerkoff relatives in a jug if you ever speak to anyone in my family that way again. You are nothing but a liability. I would have happily given you into slavery to Roman to solve our problems. You should be on your knees thanking Godric and Amleth that they are more merciful. Apologize to Rosalyn and Amleth for your rudeness. Immediately.”
Sookie glanced at the other three vampires and hesitated. Godric materialized at the end of the hall and dropped his head with a growl. He stalked towards the human-faeling slowly with his hands behind his back. Sookie shambled backwards until she bumped into Amleth, who took hold of her to keep her from fleeing. She had thought Godric to be a soft-spoken, sweet young man, but now she saw how wrong that was. He was a deadly, ancient predator.
“Who raised you?” Godric demanded.
“My..my grandmother,” Sookie stammered.
“She no longer lives, correct?”
“No, Mr. Godric, she passed away.”
“Start over. Address your superiors correctly. It is ‘Sir Godric’, or ‘My Lord Godric’, or preferably, seeing as you owe me your life, ‘My Liege Lord’. You will speak to me with the respect I deserve.” The flair of his power in the air made her cower.
“My Liege Lord Godric, I apologize.”
“You have not begun to give me the apologies I am owed. Your grandmother would liable roll in her grave were she to see how disrespectful her granddaughter is to those who offer to give her a life she would never otherwise have. Eric is correct. Beg your hosts for forgiveness.” Sookie started crying hysterically. “Save your tears. Beg for our pardon. Only then will I consider letting Amleth waste his time and resources protecting such a ridiculous, insincere flirt of a human girl. You have made preposterous passes at virtually every male in this household save for the gardener.”
Eric snickered. That she had dared lay her hands on Godric without his consent had not gone over well – not at all. She was lucky to be alive for such a transgression. Eric was not offended by her attempted flirtations, but he ignored them entirely. He had no interest in Sookie’s feigned naiveté and taunting tactics.
“We have already saved you once from becoming a blood slave to Queen Sophie-Anne,” Godric continued. “You’ve not the first clue what horrors await you should we send you to Faerie or give you over to a cruel vampire overlord who wants to abuse you for your telepathy and your body. We are the only hope your little life has and you dare insult my wife and my sons under my own roof?” Sookie sobbed more.
“Apologize!” Eric said in a bark.
“I’m sorry! I’m really sorry!” Sookie cried. “Amleth, this has all been so stressful. I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. I’m sorry, Ros – ”
“It is Madame Rosalyn!” Godric snarled in Sookie’s face. “She is Mistress of this nest and Area. She is the progeny of an Ancient Elder vampire of great nobility and she is my bonded, pledged wife. Correct your form of address!”
“Oh my God! I am so sorry! Madame Rosalyn! Sir Godric!”
“Your Liege Lord,” Godric seethed, ready to choke her. Eric touched his shoulder, hoping to keep him from killing her.
“My Liege Lord Godric and Madame! Forgive me!” Sookie fell onto her knees. “I don’t know who I am supposed to be anymore and I don’t understand the world I live in.”
Rosalyn threaded her arm around Godric’s. “Love? She knows no better. She still thinks she is human and she isn’t. I was ignorant about the supernatural world too, not so very long ago. Amleth will help get her up to speed.”
Godric pinched his eyes. “Amleth, I will only reiterate this once. You tell that damned Fae Prince that if he comes anywhere near this family, there is going to be another supe war and he will need an heir if he and I come face to face. I am done with his meddling. We serve no one and we do no one’s bidding other than for those in our bloodline. This?” He gestured at Sookie, crying on the floor. “This is not our problem, and no one has the power to make it so.”
Amleth bowed. “I understand, sire.”
Godric gave one last glance at the human woman. He forced her to her feet to face him. “Little one, when you reach your destination, you will not be so foolish again as to raise your voice or make idle threats at creatures whom are hundreds, even thousands, of years older than you. You will get yourself killed. Quickly. Most of our kind are nowhere near as tolerant and evolved in their thinking as those you see before you.”
At the entryway, Pam, Eric, and Amleth sat down their bags to say farewell to Godric and Rosalyn. Sookie waited awkwardly in the corner next to Isabelle, staring at the floor. Eric pressed his forehead against his maker and gave him a kiss. He hugged Rosalyn and moved to kiss her the same way. “Eric!” She thumped him on the chest.
Godric huffed a laugh. “It’s okay, Ros. He’s trying to give you a blood kiss. It’s a very special way vampires greet and say goodbye. Cut your tongue on a fang.”
“Yeah, uh, maybe another time,” she said. Eric shrugged, dropped a smooch on top of her head, and winked at her as he and Pam headed out the door to their limo.
Amleth paused and gave Rosalyn an enormous hug, rubbing his nose against her cheek. “Call me anytime. You have my number.” He embraced Godric by the arm, shaking in the Roman way, and Godric put a hand on his face.
“Run along, magpie. We’ll see you soon,” Godric said.
Sookie curtsied in front of Godric. “Thank you for your hospitality, my Liege Lord. I apologize again for being a less than ideal guest.”
“Remember my words. Respect and mind Amleth.”
The house was quiet with only Isabelle, Stan, and the occasional few underlings milling in and out. Godric was pre-occupied catching up on business, though he took time to show Rosalyn how the Area’s basic requests and cases were handled. She made herself useful by his side, listened in on all his meetings, and read quietly in the corner of his office. She and Pam spoke regularly on the phone, re-using much of the planning they had done for the charity ball to prepare arrangements for the wedding announcement party.
“Pam, can I ask you to help me with something I think you’ll enjoy?”
“Certainly, sweetcakes. What’s up?” Pam said.
“I’m going to text you a picture of a necklace. I need you to help me find a gown that actually makes this ugly thing look alright on me.”
Rosalyn snapped a shot of the necklace in its case and hit send. The line was silent for a long moment. “Where in god’s name did you get that?” Pam screeched through the speaker. “That’s vintage Bulgari!”
Rosalyn had anticipated her reaction. “No, Pamela, you cannot borrow it or wear it in public. Ask Eric – he has already decreed as much. Yes, I will let you try it on when we’re playing dress up. But I need a dress, Pam. Please help me. You’re so much better at this sort of thing.”
“Ros. Rosalyn. Ros. Seriously. Do you even know what that is?”
“Yes. It’s a giant emerald necklace that Queen Sophie-Anne gave to me and I have to wear it at my own wedding celebration even though I’d rather melt into a puddle and slide down a drain.”
“I am going to Paris. You’ll have a dress by the date of your celebration.” Pam hung up without further ado.
A few minutes later, her phone rang again. It was Eric. “What did you just do to Pam?”
“I may have asked her to pick out my wedding gown and told her she could try on Sophie-Anne’s jewels.”
“Oh, sweet gods. You just made her century. She’s bouncing off the walls.”
Nights went by and Pam called again, already back from Paris. Rosalyn’s custom couture Dior gown would be shipped as soon as it was made.
One evening, Isabelle came into Godric’s office with her phone. She had a very concerned look on her face. “It’s Roman,” she mouthed silently. Godric took the cell.
“What.” He listened for a moment and shot to his feet. “You…” He bit his cheek to keep from saying something ill-advised. “Yes, I will be there.” He smashed the end call button and dialed Eric. “Get here immediately!”
“What’s wrong?” Rosalyn said, looking up from her book. She had not really been paying attention when Isabelle had come in. Godric’s eyes were wild.
“No, Eric! Now!! You should already be in the sky!” Eric questioned him. “Why? Because Roman just summoned me to the Council under the auspices of wanting to formally congratulate me on my marriage and new progeny.”
Rosalyn heard Eric bellow “Oh, fuck!” on the other end of the line. Godric threw down the phone and grabbed at his hair. He rushed to a storage closet and pulled out a large handful of medical supplies. He jammed two IV catheters into each of his arms. “Ros, help me set these up.” She sprang into action and fumbled with the tangled IV lines to get the blood bags attached.
“Godric, talk to me. Holy shit, what is happening? Is Roman going to try to kill you?”
“No. He can’t now. It’s partly why I pledged marriage with you. Pledged, bonded pairs are more untouchable than one’s progeny, especially maker-child pledged pairs. There are only a few such couples in existence. Even he would be executed for hurting one of us. I haven’t had time to explain.”
“Why are you drawing your blood?”
“Here, squeeze my arms. We have got to get as much out as possible.”
Within ten minutes Eric stormed in, equally panicked. “When does he want you there?”
“By tomorrow. I have to leave immediately,” Godric said.
“Gods fucking damn Roman!” Eric said. “That motherfucker!”
“Somebody please explain what is going on!” Rosalyn said. “Are you in danger, love?”
Godric looked up. “No. He’s doing this to hurt you, without technically being the one doing it.”
“What? How?” she said, her voice rising an octave.
Eric growled as he massaged one of Godric’s biceps. “You’re barely a few weeks old. You cannot be separated from your maker this soon.”
“Ros, darling, go heat up two pints for me,” Godric said. “I shouldn’t be weakened while I’m flying so far and fast.”
She ran to the kitchen and was back in a flash. “Can’t I go with you?” she said.
“No. You were purposefully not invited. It is an official summons. I must obey.”
“You could take her to Amleth,” Eric suggested. “Then at least the distance won’t be so bad.”
Godric paused from sucking at his meal. “Absolutely not. There are far too many strange vampires roaming around his estate and Amla keeps human donors and pets. She’ll get hurt or she’ll hurt someone. I haven’t even taught her how to bite correctly yet, never mind how to do a live feed without killing. And I do not like Amleth’s security setup. You know we’ve fought about that for years.”
“Okay.” Eric thought quickly. “I’ll come with her and we’ll stay near the compound.”
“And have us all under Roman’s thumb? In his territory? Are you mad!”
“Alright. Okay. I’ll stay here and I’ll get her through this.”
Godric snatched Eric’s face and forced him to look into his eyes. “Eric, as your maker, I command you to care for Ros exactly as I would. You know how I raised you. I expect nothing less. You will not let her out of your sight. You will give her everything and anything she needs while I am gone.” He turned to his wife. “Rosalyn, as your maker, I command you to allow Eric to look after you. You will tell him anything that you require and you will keep him informed of how your health is faring.”
Eric pulled the bags filled with Godric’s blood off the IV lines and laid them on the desk. “By the Nine, I cannot believe Roman is doing this to us.”
“If I can find a way to kill him, I will,” Godric said.
“Take your sword.”
“They’ll just disarm me at the gate.”
Eric growled in frustration. “You could bait him into fighting you and get an execution order passed.”
“I’ve already considered it. It’s too much of a risk if he manages to off me first. The wedding party is much safer. Public, news crews, with allies to aid, in a palace and Area I know well.”
Godric crushed Rosalyn to his chest and kisses her hard. “I am so sorry, love. I am so, so sorry. Eric will explain more. I have to go now.”
“Please be careful!” she pleaded.
“You can’t wear that, Maker.” Eric pointed at Godric’s t-shirt and yoga pants. Godric swore in Gaelic and ran to his room to change quickly into a suit.
“Goodbye my heart,” Godric said, taking Rosalyn’s hands in his and kissing her knuckles. “It should only be a few days.” He snapped at the blood on the table. “Ration that carefully, son.” With that, Godric flashed out of the house and took to the sky.
Rosalyn was wide-eyed. Eric went to her and hung his head on her shoulder. “This is not going to be fun, lillasyster.”
“Start talking. What is the problem?”
He led her to the settee and sat her down. “You are going to get bonding sickness. I had it twice, once only for about 24 hours and again when I was around 35 and Godric and I were forcibly separated. I didn’t have his blood with me to help assuage it, nor a sibling whose blood and proximity could help.”
“What happens? What is it?”
“By the time he reaches the east coast, you’re going to start feeling panicky and distressed. Once he’s nearing Europe, you’re going to feel ill. The longer he’s gone, the sicker you’ll get. And Roman will no doubt try to delay him as long as possible. A similar thing happens if you disobey your maker’s call and don’t return immediately. You grow violently ill. The only shittier times I’ve had in my long life are when I had to re-grow a leg I lost in a battle and when I got jailed in a silvered coffin for killing a queen’s consort.”
“Yeah. Double crap. Most progeny don’t get bonding illness after they’re 50 or have been released, but even after a millennium, Godric and I have had trouble being separated for very long periods since we’re so tightly tied. It’s not quite the same as true bonding sickness – we just feel stressed or agitated after a century. But it’s why he finally gave up and moved to the US.”
“I thought it was because you were running wild in New York.”
He laughed. “Well, that too.” Rosalyn pursed her lips and sighed. “Think about how life has been since you were turned, Ros. Godric doesn’t let you out of his immediate sightline. You have sex and share blood every night. Your new nature screams to have these two basic things.” Eric thought for a moment. “Do you have a vibrator?”
The question outraged her. “What?”
“A good vibrator. You’re going to need one. You know how ravenous feeding makes us feel. You cannot ignore this need, it will only intensify how ill you’re going to feel if you do. I doubt you want me to help you out like that just yet.”
“What the hell do you mean ‘just yet’!”
“Ros, we are blood kin – and permanently bonded ones at that. It will happen eventually. We are all intimate and share blood with each other in the bloodline at times.”
“Plus, I know you’re attracted to me,” he said conspiratorially. “You can’t deny it, dear bonded one.” Rosalyn socked him in the arm and went back to reading her novel. Near dawn, she started to feel exceptionally gross. “Come on, kiddo,” Eric said. “Let’s get you to bed.” He guided her to the secure bedroom and she collapsed into the sheets. To her shock, Eric plopped down next to her.
“Your travel coffin is in the armoire.”
“You need me right next to you. Put your head on my chest.”
“Eric, I am so not in the mood for your caddishness. Stop trying to seduce me.”
“Little sister, I am doing no such thing. I would never take advantage of someone against their will. I refuse to even use my glamour on humans in that way. Just lay your head down on my chest. The proximity to me will relieve some of the effects.”
Godric was rocketing through the sky and was over the Atlantic Ocean. Rosalyn put her head down and immediately felt relief. Eric wrapped his long arms around her. “I am going to end Roman for putting you through this. This is the last straw.”
“He’s screwed with my life twice now and I don’t even know what he looks like. I have to say, if I was on the fence before about violence to another, I am so down for seeing him fall now.”
When Rosalyn rose the next evening, she was shivering and had a sheen of blood sweat on her forehead. Eric was right at her side with a small measure of Godric’s blood. She drank it quickly and he toweled off her face and neck. Then he handed her a pint of O-neg.
“I feel nauseous. I don’t think I can eat,” she said.
“You must. Then take care of your other need. I’ll be upstairs.”
“I don’t want to get out of bed.”
“That’s fine. Call to me through our bond and I’ll come back down. You want me to bring your book?”
“No. Maybe you can tell me a story or something? I don’t think I can focus on anything more.”
“Sure. Go feast and fornicate, little vampiress. See you in a bit.”
Rosalyn was rather annoyed that Eric was right. Half an hour later, she felt better. Eric returned and Rosalyn curled up at his side. Godric’s blood inside of him calmed her immensely. Eric was being so nurturing. She had no idea he could be this way. He had not been remotely this helpful when Amleth broke down. It spoke volumes about the gravity of her illness.
“You’re doing pretty well, all things given,” Eric said. “Our kind almost never sweat. It’s very worrisome.” He ran a hand down the length of her hair and stroked her back. “Story time?”
He started chuckling at the memory. “Though Godric had a lot of experience helping others with their young progeny, he was squirrelly with me. He refused to help me get laid for over a month after he turned me. I already had a very high sex drive as a human and it radically increased after the transformation. It’s honestly been a pain in the ass to deal with sometimes. It’s partly why I started Fangtasia – there are always horny, willing meals.”
“So you’re saying you’re a giant manslut.”
“Total and unrepentant. I was going out of my mind with need as a newborn and I was still way too out of control to try to be with a human. I wasn’t more than a few weeks older than you. I had to kill four or five people a night to slake my thirst. It was because of my size. I required a lot of blood and it was a brutal winter in 750 C.E. Everyone in Sweden was starving and there wasn’t enough to drink for us two rogue vampires out in the countryside. I finally lost my temper one night after being denied again by Godric and I swore at him and told him he was a terrible maker. He cracked me over the head and left me for the entire evening and day, shutting down our bond. That’s when I first experienced bonding sickness.”
“Jesus. Why would he do that?”
Eric stretched and put an arm behind his head. “He was terribly afraid of forcing me to lay with him, and he was unsure whether he was influencing my own desires through our bond. Many makers used to turn children to be their servants or to be temporary lovers until they grew sick of them. Those vampires had no merits, save for two hands or a little beauty. None have survived. They were killed by their makers or killed by others. Godric made me because he didn’t want to see me conquered by death. He knew I had what it takes to survive the ages. He turned you for the same right reasons, Ros. He will do anything to protect the woman he loves and the one who revitalized his will to live.”
“I can’t believe he hit you.”
“Those were very different times. He has rarely punished me physically, but when he has, I’ve deserved it. He was far harder on Amleth, but that was 300 years before I came into the world. Godric was quite untamed back then – certainly not as stoic as he is today. I still thought he might lose it and kick the shit out of me at the charity ball. I was grateful that you intervened, but don’t you ever interrupt a maker chastising a child again. Makers have the right to kill you on the spot for interfering. More likely, you’d be heavily fined. It’s a shameful crime, Ros.”
“I’m sorry. I won’t make that mistake again. I guess I didn’t realize that you two…you know.”
“All makers and progeny do in the beginning.”
“Do you still?” Rosalyn could not believe she had never thought to ask if her husband still banged his first progeny. Vampires were so fast and loose with physicality. Godric had explained as much to her, but understanding the mentality was going to take a little more time.
“No, we haven’t in many decades.”
Rosalyn looked up at him. He had a distant, wistful expression on his face. “He’s still yours, too. When you need him, just ask me to step aside.”
Eric snorted. “I’ll be sure to tell him you’re offering him out. That would go over like a lead balloon. It is always his decision, not mine. He has total dominion over us. But thank you.”
Rosalyn laughed. “I think I freaked him out a little the other week.”
“What did you do?”
“Like you’ve been trying to explain, I am rather shocked too at how strong my sex drive is after the transformation. I tackled him and held him down and had my way with him. He said he was really surprised that he didn’t mind.”
A wrinkle crossed Eric’s brow. “He let you?”
“Ros…you must be so careful about that. Dominating him? He’s…He is very sensitive about that kind of thing. Has he told you anything about his early life?”
“No. He’s told me lots about his travels. Why?”
Eric groaned. Of course Godric had not bothered to say something. “It is not my story to tell and frankly, I strongly advise you not to ask him about it – ever. He gets extremely depressed when he has to revisit those memories. But I’ll say this: Godric needs to feel in control and safe. You’ve noticed what a total zealot he is about security. That applies to his own sexuality too.”
“What happened to him, Eric? Please, tell me.”
Eric hesitated. “I am only going to tell you this because it is very important. It stays between us. No exceptions.”
“I will explain, but in return you will tell me why he hasn’t been sleeping. A secret for a secret.”
“He asked me not to say anything as a test of my loyalty. I won’t break his trust.”
“He asked you when you were still human. We are blood kin now. We can say anything to each other and we are the only ones we can trust. He has not told you something critical about himself that you need to understand and he’s hiding something about his health which is critical for me to understand. Godric is as much our responsibility as we are his, my little bonded one.”
It was difficult for Eric to speak of it out loud. It took him a moment to gather the words. “Godric…was enslaved for the first several hundred years of his undead life.”
“Oh my god!” Ros gasped.
Eric shook his head in disgust. “He was violently, brutally raped and tortured by his master and whored out by the man to humiliate him. There were always plenty of disgusting people who wanted to use a beautiful youth back then, bunch of fucking pederasts. It is why even though ‘Master’ is the expected form of address to a maker in public, he forbids me to call him that and why you should never do so either.”
He sighed. “Just be very careful about dominating him in any way without giving him fair warning. He almost never allows it, and even then, only on his own terms. You don’t want to accidentally trigger him and have him flip out. Even he has his limits and he could hurt you without meaning to. His strength is inconceivable. A rapid flick of his wrist if he’s caught off guard shatters bone. I definitely learned that the hard way. Repeatedly. Especially when I’ve lost my temper and demeaned him or spoken cruelly to him. He despises it.”
“Well, I would never do that.”
“Like I said, we are very different, you and me. If you can believe it, I was even more of a hothead a thousand years ago. It’s still a good thing to know, so you’re not surprised when he goes savage crazy on somebody. He long ago became a pacifist and he doesn’t want to kill unless absolutely necessary, but things came pretty close before I got you two reunited. He beat the hell out of a couple of rude underlings. The entire nest was on pins and needles, he had grown so unpredictable in his mood swings.”
“I’ve never seen him like that. He’s only ever been gentle and giving to me.”
“Trust me, Ros, you will learn his dark side and quite soon, I imagine, given the present situation. Now confess, sister. Why is he not sleeping?”
Rosalyn looked up into her brother’s eyes. “Eric, I swear, if you tell Godric that I’ve told you this, I will stake you.”
“Poppet, I shan’t say a word. I simply want to know what is going on with our maker. He equivocated when I asked him.”
She sighed. “The sun no longer takes him predictably into day death. I think there might be other things, too. He hasn’t said anything to me, but I suspect some of the other limitations for our kind don’t bind him anymore.”
Eric ran his hands over his face. He had thought as much. Godric hid his powers, even from him. “Thank you. I knew he hadn’t been completely forthcoming.”
They lay quietly, pondering the mysteries of their maker. “You might want to talk with Amleth when you have a chance,” Rosalyn said.
“You’ve spoken with him?”
“We Skype once a week. He’s given me a lot of good advice.”
Eric nodded. “Amla was a great help to me in my early years – and many times since. He has always stood by me when it mattered.”
“He’s not been a happy camper with Sookie in his nest,” she said.
“Is Stackhouse still up to her same b.s.?”
“Big time. She can’t be glamoured to behave and she keeps being disruptive. Amla had to issue an edict that no one hurt her and that he alone would deal with her infractions against others.”
“Gods,” Eric groaned.
“Sookie just doesn’t want to acknowledge that we sometimes have to play by others’ rules. If she’s going to be sheltered by vampires, she’s going to have to accept conforming to vampire culture.”
“Godric didn’t overhear that discussion, did he?”
“No. I was down here.”
“Good. He has got to keep the peace with Prince Niall. I’m concerned Maker is nearing the end of his patience. The Fae are vicious fighters and are not to be underestimated. They need to stay in their own realm. The last war with them was very protracted. They killed a lot of our kind and nearly got Godric too. We do not want him getting wind that she’s still causing trouble or he’ll likely go solve the problem his way. And Ros?”
“There are never happy outcomes for the perpetrators when Godric resolves a threat to our family.”
“I figured that out pretty quickly.”
The following day was a repeat of the previous evening, except that Rosalyn felt even worse and her sweats were now all over her body. Eric risked giving her slightly more of Godric’s blood and convinced her to drink two pints of O-neg. She choked them down.
“Ros, darling? Godric said he hasn’t yet taught you how to bite. He probably doesn’t care because it doesn’t hurt him much, but I remember how hard you nailed yourself in your turning cave. If you’re still biting that hard, it could easily snap a human’s neck on accident. We can practice, if you like. My blood will make you feel better as well.”
“Okay,” she said weakly.
He put his wrist in front of her mouth. “Start with the tips of your fangs and shake your jaw to create a vibration. You can also massage next to the spot you’re going to bite to help reduce the sting. You’ll feel the skin break and you can gradually add more of your fangs’ length. We don’t ram our fangs into people unless we want to make it hurt.”
She tried it and Eric’s sweet blood gushed into her mouth. The pleasure ricocheted in their bond. “Very good,” he said, once the wound sealed. “Now try my neck. Same technique. You’re going to bite me as though I were human. Never bite directly into the arteries in the neck or groin– it is a death blow. Bite around them. This won’t feel quite the same since I don’t have a pulse. You use the rhythm of the pulse between your teeth to know when to stop. When it starts to slow, that’s when it’s time to lick the wound to seal it.”
She crawled onto her knees. Eric craned his neck and she brushed aside his hair. She leaned in, nervous. Inspecting the arteries beneath the skin, she put two fingers down. “There?”
“Yep, that should do it. Remember, if this were a human, rub or lick the artery to get it to pop up more so you know precisely where to bite.” Rosalyn settled her mouth over his neck. His heady scent invaded her senses and the solid bulk of his body reassured her. Cradling his head in her hand, she slowly slid her teeth in. Eric grunted and she quickly pulled back.
“Sorry! Too hard?” she said.
“No. Too good. Keep going.” He pushed her head back down and she drank deeply. Eric panted underneath her. It had the same effect on her. The bite closed and she licked up the remaining tendrils, relishing the taste of his skin and the blood on her lips.
“I spilled a little.”
“That’s ok,” he said very quietly, still breathing hard. “Try it again. Your color is already improving. This time, let me drink from your wrist.” She did and they both moaned, tangling together, so powerful was the charge from the exchange between them. Afterwards, they laid shoulder to shoulder, basking in the serenity rippling through their psychic connection. Eric turned and nuzzled her face, giving her several delicate kisses on her cheek. “I haven’t been this content in years,” he admitted, toying with a tendril of her hair. “I only wish you felt well.”
“Surely it’s like this with you and Pam.”
“It isn’t. She is my baby, but this is not the same.” He frowned. “I turned Pamela not long after Tarquin’s death – surely you’ve gathered as much by now. In 1849, right after the Second French Revolution. Amleth made his children in the same few decades following our family’s loss. Godric abandoned us and disappeared, he was so decimated by Tarquin’s murder. To this day, neither of us have any idea where he went.
“With Pam, it is my blood in her body. I told you that we always crave our maker’s blood most. Between you and I, we’re both getting Godric’s life force from each other simultaneously and it amplifies how intense it feels. Maker has only given Pam his blood once, when she turned 100. It has long since dissipated from her. I’ve never known the feeling of truly having Godric’s essence in another until now. I am undyingly grateful for it.”
“Why has he only fed Pam once?”
“Rosalyn.” He propped himself up to make certain she was paying attention. “Maker has very traditional views about sharing blood. Do not even think about giving yours to someone outside the bloodline without his approval. Poor Pamela…”
He clenched his jaw, angry with himself and loathe to admit his mistake. “She won’t get the gift of his blood again for quite some time. I royally screwed up not giving her a command to help us with the charity event to spare her from his wrath.”
“Is that why you were so stunned and went haywire when you’d seen Godric had marked me?”
“Absolutely. It is miraculous that he decided he wanted us to bond as siblings and that I had the chance to taste your blood while you were still human. You were delicious, by the way. You’re even more succulent as a vampiress. But it also means that as fully bonded kin, if he and I keep sharing regularly with you in mutual exchanges, it might open up some of your supernatural gifts far earlier than one would expect. Our own powers may transfer to you.”
She smiled. “I wouldn’t mind getting to fly.”
“It’s amazing. I didn’t acquire it until I was about 500. Pam might, one day. We’ll see. Amleth can’t since he’s adopted, but he’s a super-fast runner and has unique gifts because of his heritage.”
“Like what? Can I ask?”
“Ask me anything, anytime. But we don’t tell other supes these things and certainly not humans. If Godric is hiding his own powers from me, then it should be clear to you that this is a crucial rule he has established for our House and Line. It is better if rumors circulate or others simply don’t know what we can do. It becomes a tactical advantage in conflicts. When Godric showed you he could fly, I knew that he was totally sold on you.”
“It was amazing to touch the clouds.”
“Flight is quite a rare gift. There are very few that have it. But Amla? He’s the only vampire I’ve ever known who spellbinds everyone at the sight of him. It’s not just because he’s easy on the eyes. It’s the Fae in him. No one can stop looking at him when he’s in the same room. It makes him seem even more extraordinarily charming than he already is and it’s annoying as hell when you don’t want to be distracted. You’ll notice that Godric often avoids making eye contact with him if he’s working and trying to concentrate.”
“Huh. Neat. Godric showed me his fire gift the first night we arrived here. ”
“Holy shit, he did?”
“Yeah. He lit all the candles upstairs. Do you have it?”
“He hates that one! We are so susceptible to fire. I think he’s afraid he’ll burn himself up accidentally. I can count the number of times I’ve seen him use it on one hand. He must have really been trying to impress you. No one has that ability but him. It is an ancient gift that has died out from our kind. Gods, I hope I never get it.”
Ros laughed. “Eric, thank you for teaching me so much tonight. I really appreciate it. It’s nice that you can be so open and candid with me now. And thank you for your blood. I don’t feel like I’m going to puke crimson now.”
“You are most welcome. You can always come to me, baby girl. That’s not Maker’s order speaking. I mean it. You come to me, Ros, whenever you need absolutely anything.”
Her brow drew up in a wrinkle of concern. “Why hasn’t he called us, Eric?”
“He’s trapped in an underground conference room listening to whatever drivel Roman is spewing. The Council facility is a completely locked down fortress on its own power grid. He’s closed our ends of the bonds so that we don’t worry about whatever is happening there. He’ll let us know how much longer when he’s ready.”
Ros crawled closer to him. Eric did not like her pallor and her scent was underscored with a slight sickly sweet odor. “Tomorrow I’m going to get a donor for you. Maker will be pissed off if he finds out, but fresh blood is more rejuvenating than bagged. Microwaving the latter destroys some of the nutrition we get from it.”
“Do you think I’ll be okay drinking from a human?”
“I’ve got a plan for that.”
The third night was appreciably worse. Rosalyn was shaking and sweating and chattering and her skin had taken on a greenish hue. Eric measured out the same amount of their maker’s blood and looked at the half empty bag in dismay. “Do you want some of mine too?” he asked.
“Please,” she said.
Eric let her feed on him until he grew woozy. He had to drink three pints to feel semi-normal again. He then called up the Dallas branch of Elite Bite. “The Sheriff needs a donor tonight. Male, someone who has never been used before and is preferably a B-pos or B-neg. He needs to be well-trained in protocol for feeding a newborn. Send me a selection that fit the bill and I’ll let you know who he wants.”
When someone from Sheriff Godric’s nest called the company, the employees did not dilly dally. In under a minute, Eric’s phone pinged with a message containing a number of pictures. He broke into a huge grin when he saw exactly the right fit. This was going to be grand.
Around eight o’clock, Stan rang up to let Eric know the kid was at the gate. “Send him through,” Eric said. Isabelle ushered the donor in and Eric met him in the sitting room. The young man waited politely with his hands behind his back until invited to take a seat. “Good evening, Michael. My name is Eric Northman. I am the Sheriff of Louisiana Area Five. My maker is the Sheriff here in Dallas and one of the oldest vampires in existence. You will be feeding my blood sister whom is very new.”
“I am your most humble servant, sir,” the boy said with a shy smile.
“It goes without saying that it is quite an honor for you to serve our family as your first client. Should you do well, I will write you a glowing letter of recommendation that will ensure you only ever work for the most aristocratic and wealthy customers in the nation or, if you like, in the world.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you.”
“I am not going to glamour you afterwards. Let me be plain, newbie: you are being tested.”
“Very well, sir.”
Eric nodded, pleased to observe the young man understood formal protocols. “If you disclose who your client was to anyone in the next three weeks, I will make certain you never work for vampires again in any capacity. I can make your life a charmed one, Michael, full of palaces and fancy gifts and private jets. Or I can make it a living hell. You will know in three weeks why your silence is of such importance. There will be a big news story on tv and in the papers about our family. Once you see that, feel free to brag that you fed me. This is critical. You fed me, Eric Northman. Then you will receive your letter and go on to great success.”
“Understood, sir. I will speak to no one until I see the news in three weeks and I will say that I fed you, Sir Northman.”
“Alright, son. Follow me.” Eric led him to the main office and told him to wait and touch nothing. “Do not disrobe. This is only a feeding.” He paused. “Are you really twenty-five?”
“Yes, sir.” Michael gave him his birthdate.
Eric shook his head in amusement. “I could have sworn you were younger.” As he walked down the private corridor, Eric could not hide his smile. He went to Rosalyn in the master suite. Her color was still off despite how she had just glutted on him. She was sitting on the edge of the bed, nervously wringing her hands. Eric knelt down in front of her. “You’re going to do just fine. I’m going to hold you the entire time. He’s a B-pos, so you aren’t going to get too crazy. We both know it tastes like hot dog hair. It still will be very enjoyable.” He grinned like a fox. Oh, this was going be grand indeed.
Eric kept one of Rosalyn’s arms in a vice-like grasp as he walked her down the hallway. When they reached the office door, Ros gasped and spun to look at Eric. “Where the…?! What?!”
He bellowed with laughter. “I thought this one might be your type.” The young man bore a striking resemblance to Godric. His hair was much darker and his nose was a bit different, but the similarity was uncanny.
“Good evening, Madame. My name is Michael,” the donor said.
“Go to the desk and sit on your hands,” Eric ordered. “You are not to touch her under any circumstance.” He adjusted his hold on Rosalyn so her arms were pinned behind her back. He placed a hand around her neck and walked her forward across the room. “Just as we practiced. Take it from the neck. I’ll tell you when to stop.”
Ros gulped as she neared the human. Her hunger burned like a flame in her throat.
“Left side or right, Madame?” the donor asked.
“Left,” Eric answered for her. That was where she had practiced with him. Michael turned and Rosalyn saw the rich blood thumping in his artery. “Slowly,” Eric reminded her. “You’re his first, too.”
Rosalyn closed in and the young man’s hot scent maddened her thirst. She licked the artery as she had been instructed. He was salty and sweet, nervous and excited, and so, so warm. Eric checked over her shoulder to make sure she was going to hit the correct place. “You’re right on target. Whenever you’re ready,” he said. She sunk her fangs in. The donor sucked in a ragged breath and struggled to keep his hands from reaching out to touch the beautiful woman. As she fed, he made little gasps and grunts of enjoyment that reverberated in her fangs. Rosalyn grew playful and let the wound drip down so she could lick the drips back to their source over and over.
Eric laughed out loud. “Lillasyster! You feed like Maker!” It was hilarious. She had not fed on him at all that way. She must have learned it from Godric before her turning. He pulled her back when she had taken a little over half a pint. Rosalyn came away glaze-eyed and crimson-lipped. “Beautifully done,” he said with pride. He turned back to the young man. “Madame Isabelle will show you to the donor bathroom so that you can clean up. Be sure to wipe your entire neck and cheek with rubbing alcohol to remove her scent. Wait for me in the sitting area.”
“Have fun?” he whispered into Rosalyn’s ear as he escorted her back to the master bedroom.
She landed a bloody peck on Eric’s cheek. “Can I have him again tomorrow?”
He chuckled and agreed. “I’ll arrange it.” He wiped the smear off on his cheek and tasted it. “Hmm. Not actually too bad. He must carry the O recessively. It’s homozygous BB that is simply raunchy.”
Eric returned to the sitting room where Michael waited, clapping. “Bravo, young man. You just made yourself into one very rich human.” Eric pulled out $300 from his wallet for a tip. It was three times the usual amount. “Take a B12 vitamin tonight and drink lots of water. She’d like to have you again tomorrow.”
“Really?” he said, his face lighting up. Eric started bouncing in laughter again. “Gods, you really do look a lot like him. If you dyed your hair lighter you’d be mistaken for brothers.”
“Our maker, Godric the Great, the Lord of this Land.”
“Oh! I’d be pleased to meet him.”
“No. That is a horrible idea, unless you return to feed one of his underlings. Only then might he get a kick out of it. Listen to me carefully, Michael. If you must tell someone, you’ll say that you fed me as we discussed. But if for some reason you do end up back here, Sir Godric will notice immediately that you are familiar with the estate. To him, you say instead that you first came here to feed Madame Isabelle, his Second in Command.” Eric eyed Isabelle and she blinked in agreement. “Under no circumstances do you share that you fed one of his progeny. He does not approve of donors and you do not want to cross a 2300 year old vampire – especially not this one.”
“I see. Maybe better to not say a word at all.”
“Smart boy. Remember, loose lips sink your ship.” The young man nodded vigorously. “We’ll see you tomorrow at the same time, unless otherwise notified.”
Michael stood to leave with Isabelle and Eric turned, thinking of something. “Why did you decide to become a donor?”
“I want to go to med school.” He shrugged. “I got accepted but had to delay my matriculation. Med school is expensive. I hadn’t thought to try out donor work until I was spotted by a recruiter. It seemed like a well-paying, interesting job. I think it’s great your kind decided to come out of the coffin.”
Eric raised his eyebrows. The kid was actually decent. Most donors were in the trade for all the wrong reasons – greed, rough sex, more greed, danger, a hope to get turned.
“Have you heard about the new vampire university, sir?” Michael asked. Eric smirked. Oh, had he ever. “Do you think maybe it will have a medical program? It would be awesome to train supernaturals in science after I graduate so that our species can help each other.”
“That’s a fine thought, lad. I will look into it.” Little could the human know that vampires had worked in biomedicine since it was first conceived of as a field. Medical jobs provided a very easy way to get a hold of blood. Godric had been an excellent trauma surgeon during the First and Second World Wars. The boy’s notion, however, was incredibly lucrative. The wheels in Eric’s head began rapidly turning. Creating a way to legally license the vampires working in medicine could generate billions of dollars.
Michael gave a kind smile. “See you tomorrow, Sir Northman. It was a pleasure serving your sister.”
“Oh Frejya help us!” Eric swore when he rose the next night. The sheets were soaked in Rosalyn’s blood and her pallor looked like a week-old corpse. She was far, far too young to have to endure this. At thirty-five he had not deteriorated anywhere near as quickly. It had to be because Godric’s blood was now twice as strong. Eric cursed Roman again. He started running the tub with hot water and readied the blood for Rosalyn’s breakfast.
As if his evening was not already going to be rough, Pam called and made it a hundred times worse. “How is Ros doing?” she asked.
“She suffers greatly, Pam. This can’t go on for any more than a few more days. I’m considering asking Russell Edgington for help. He could call the Council with some nonsense about how he needs Godric’s help for a problem in his territory. He’s the only one close enough in age who can strong-arm Roman into releasing Maker.”
“Eric, that is seriously dodgy. You and the King hate each other after all that mess with the border.”
It was true. Eric and King Edgington did not get along. After the economic recession, refugees from the Mississippi kingdom came streaming into Eric’s large swath of Northern Louisiana. They were unable to pay their fealty taxes to Eric while they resettled, which in turn got him into a fight with his Queen. Edgington refused to split the difference of what needed to be paid to Sophie-Anne.
“Godric is already planning on reaching out to Edgington for support at the wedding party. This might make getting him on board easier,” he said.
“He’s a loose cannon and you know it. Besides, we’ve got a major problem.”
“Odin’s beard. What?”
“The Queen overturned Compton’s banishment and the little weasel is back. Sophie-Anne wants to know why you’ve barely been in your Area and Compton is sniffing around for her.”
“That rotten bitch! She knows exactly why! I’ll fix this. Keep a close tail on Compton and send me the reports. I’ll find a reason to deport his ass to the moon.”
“Or just stake him.”
“Do not issue any edicts on him, Pam. You let me handle him.” When they were through, he called the New Orleans palace.
“Andre speaking,” a voice answered.
“It is Northman. Put the Queen on,” he told Sophie-Anne’s child and Second in Command.
“She’s occupied at the moment.”
“Andre, you put the fucking Queen on right now or I am going to snap you like a twig when I see you in three weeks!”
“You’re such a savage, Viking. Here she is.”
“Northman! So lovely to finally hear from you,” the Queen trilled in a false note.
“Sophie-Anne, I am presently handling a family crisis. Roman ordered Godric to appear at the Council and Rosalyn is sick as a dog with bonding illness. If you think you’ve got the clout to get the High Counselor off our backs, be my guest. Spoiler alert: you don’t. I’m in Dallas caring for Ros and that’s where I’m going to be until this is over.”
The silence on her end of the line was deafening. “Goodness, that is serious. The issue I have, Eric, is that you have your baby vamp running the second most profitable Area in my state after my own.”
“You already know that I was commanded to be present at Rosalyn’s turning.”
“As was Pam, I’m told. An Area with no acting Sheriff isn’t really much of an Area, is it?”
Fuck. This was exactly what he did not want to hear. “You are already getting enormously paid off to host us. Again. All my family does is improve your reputation and fill your coffers. I’ll throw in another $100k for this year’s annual revenue if that satisfies you. Build another ‘sun’ room or something.”
“$200,000,” she countered.
In the background, Rosalyn was starting to wake. She moaned with her eyes closed. Eric did not have time for this. “Fine. Deal. Now cut the shit and stop complaining about Area Five. Compton couldn’t find his own dick if he tried and it’s sewn on. There is nothing to ‘find’ in my Area anyways. I do not know why you keep antagonizing me by sending him into my territory to spy and plot unsuccessfully.”
“Because your territory is my concern, far more than yours.”
Eric bit back a growl. He needed to get to Rosalyn. He pulled out the big guns. “You do know the edict to ban Compton was Godric’s, not mine, right? Are you prepared to have that cage rattled when I tell him? You want to find him on your doorstep, furious? Because I’m pretty certain that is every vampire’s worst nightmare.”
He could hear her swallow nervously. “No, no, Eric. That won’t be necessary.”
“Good. Then back off.” He hung up. Rushing to the bed, he scooped Rosalyn up along with the ruined sheets. “I’m putting you in a warm bath, dear. Your sweats are severe today.” She moaned again. He laid her onto the bathroom floor and stripped her down.
“Eric!” she whined and glared at him.
“Oh, hush. I’ve seen you naked plenty, boinking with Maker like a bunny.” She struggled weakly at his hands. “Damn it, Rosalyn. Stop wiggling. We’ve bonded our souls for all eternity. Our bodies are but fleshly vessels for something far more profound. I helped Godric wash you of your death fluids before you rose, for the love of the gods! Just let me take care of you as you’ve been ordered! This is getting desperately bad!”
He slipped her in the warm water and quickly got her a cup of her maker’s healing elixir. She polished it off and grew a little more lucid. “Godric had you bathe me while I was turning?”
“Yes. What part of ‘take care of her exactly as I would’ was unclear? He trusts me completely!” The snap of hurt from her stung him too in their bond. “I’m sorry, baby. I just had to ream out my Queen and get soaked yet again for more money for her greedy coin purse. I didn’t mean to be short with you.”
Eric gently massaged shampoo into her scalp while Rosalyn washed herself unsteadily. When he finished, he bit a deep gash into his arm and fed her. Eric let her gorge until the room started spinning. Stumbling into the other living area, he downed cold blood straight from the fridge. There was a splash and the thwack of wet feet on the tile. Rosalyn came out in her bathrobe. “That was too much! Are you okay?”
“Ithss fthiiine,” he said, a cold bag between his lips.
Rosalyn collapsed back into bed. Eric went to her and held her damp body closely. “You will survive this. We will get through this together. Your donor is coming in less than an hour.” She buried her face into his chest and began to cry.
Eric Northman almost never felt pity. But this was awful. Neither he nor Pam ever had to experience anything close to this severe. Only prolonged death by massive silver exposure was worse. Burning in the sun was quick by comparison.
When Michael arrived, they repeated the same procedure. Eric chose to be a selfish jerk and let Rosalyn feed longer than strictly wise. The kid had to lay on the couch to re-cooperate. Isabelle and Eric plied him with Gatorade to get his blood sugar back up and they had a nice conversation with him as they passed the time. Michael did not seem to mind too much about being overfed upon when Eric told him he would have his company deposit double the usual fee into his account as hazard pay. Isabelle was about to drive him home safely when Godric blipped on Eric’s radar. And he was close. Gods damn it. This scenario was exactly what Eric had feared might happen.
He grabbed the donor by the neck to ensure none of Rosalyn’s scent lingered on his skin. “Ros, get downstairs. Now! Rinse your mouth out well so you don’t smell of this boy’s blood and drink all but a quarter of the second bag of Godric’s. Hurry!” Eric said. He and Isabelle shared a look.
“I will cover for you, I swear,” Isabelle said.
“May you always be blessed. I owe you, Isa.”
In less than fifteen minutes Godric strolled in and slammed the door shut. Isabelle was on the couch with her arm draped over the donor. “Oh, thank heavens you’re back!” she said.
Godric jutted his chin at the kid. “Who’s this?”
The young man sat up feebly. “Hello, Sheriff. I am Michael from Elite Bite. I’m very honored to meet you.”
Godric balked. “You’re not feeding from Hugo anymore?” he said to Isabelle.
“Hugo needed a rest. I took too much from him last night,” Isabelle said.
“Looks like you overcooked this one as well.”
“It’s been the stress of your absence. It’s funny. Doesn’t he look a bit like you?” she said.
Godric cocked his head and the boy smiled shyly. “Quite. How odd. I was never your type.” It was why they worked well together.
She shrugged. “I’ve missed you. It was comforting. Go to Rosalyn, Sheriff. She’s been so sick.”
“Have you been tipped, young man?” Godric asked the donor.
“Yes, sir. Madame Isabelle was very generous,” Michael replied.
“Very well. Have a good night.”
Isabelle held up a finger to keep the boy silenced until she heard the master bedroom door close.
“We do look similar!” he said in a loud whisper.
“Wait here a moment.” She pulled out $200 from the purse in her office and handed it to him. “For your silence. Discretion is something our kind values very highly.”
“Thank you very much, Madame.” He added the cash to the rapidly growing bulge in his wallet. “Please feel free to call me if you’d ever like my services.”
She chuckled softly. “I just might, little one. I just might.” She led him to the garage and switched on the lights. The fluorescent fixtures plinked on one after the next, revealing a long row of gleaming cars. “Which one would you like me to drive you in?”
Unsurprisingly, Michael picked Stan’s stupid banana yellow Lamborghini. Isabelle rolled her eyes. Men and their toys. Some things never changed.