Godric was drying the last of their breakfast glasses when Rosalyn found the gift. She had not seen him set the long, narrow box on the dinette table. “What on earth is this?” she said, touching the satin bow on the package.
“It is a wedding present. One of many more to come.”
“Sweetheart, I haven’t gotten you anything yet.”
“Hardly true. You gave me your life.” Godric looked over his shoulder and smiled. “Open it, love.” He chuckled and went to the bed, losing his robe along the way.
Tissue paper crinkled as she dug into the contents of the box. Confusion crept over her features. Rosalyn stared down at the thing in her hands. “Please tell me you’ve bought me riding lessons.”
She flexed Godric’s gift several times, testing its resistance. “What am I supposed to do with this?” Godric ran a tongue over his teeth and gave a wicked grin. He slid backwards on the mattress and tucked his arms behind his head, waiting. Rosalyn furrowed her brow. “You’re not serious.”
He shrugged, his expression wreathed in mischief. “Give it a whack, as they say.”
Faint rose bloomed in Rosalyn’s preternatural cheeks – the last of her human blush. “I am not going to use this on you.”
“For starters? I’ll hurt you.”
“You can’t physically hurt me. Ever. Our magic won’t allow it.”
“Fine. I don’t want to play-hurt you.”
“Mistress, it isn’t for me to tell you what you do or don’t want. That is your decision.”
“Maybe it is more something you need.”
“Godric,” she said in exasperation. “How do you figure I ‘need’ a riding crop?”
Godric bit his bottom lip and ran a hand over his chest. “Might it be a consequence of my actions?”
“Nothing you’ve done deserves -“
“I can think of many things I haven’t done well lately. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve misjudged.”
Unconsciously, she ran her fingers over the braided leather shaft. She leveled her gaze at him. “What’s your point?”
Her defiance thrilled him. “Mmm, what point would you like to make, mistress? You’re the one with a whip.”
Godric’s provocation felt risky. It was as if the air in the room had suddenly changed. This encounter had no script, no obvious rules. “I think you want me to use this,” she said. “I’m not going to give you everything you want – especially not if it makes me uncomfortable.”
Wild excitement danced in his eyes. “I’ve had to be a maker to you a lot lately, and a Sheriff. But I promised to let you lead. To learn from you.”
Rosalyn thwacked the crop against her palm in annoyance. “You’re still being a maker when you put me into a new situation and gleefully sit there watching me squirm. Look at you. You look ridiculous so pleased with yourself while your big hard cock waggles around.”
“Maybe you ought to do something about it.”
“Godric,” she warned.
“I’ve been unreasonably difficult, haven’t I? An unmanageable brute. I wouldn’t restrain you for your first feedings. That could have gone really poorly, no? I’m overbearing. I hardly let you out of my sight. You don’t get a moment’s peace with me, do you?” He waited a beat. “I correct your speech in front of others. Often. You hate court politics.”
Rosalyn’s nostrils flared. “So do you.”
Godric narrowed his eyes. “I let Eric boss you around and manhandle you, Ros. Worse? I expect him to do most of the talking for me.”
“Dammit, Godric.” She eyed him and gritted her teeth.
He grinned, clearly delighted by the effect his taunting had on her. “I lost my temper and nearly lost control in front of you. Do you have any concept of how dangerous that was?” She refused to answer. “Instead of talking about it or apologizing to you, what did I do? Did I say I was sorry? No. No, I did not. I fucked you into submission – and you loved me for it.”
Rosalyn growled and smacked the flash of the crop in her hand again. “You want your ass tanned? Come get it.” She grabbed him by the ankle, jerked him down the mattress and gave him four solid whacks over his bare cheeks. The pink stripes disappeared the second she laid them down. “Happy?” She released her hold on him and he rolled over.
Godric positively boiled with desire. He could barely form words his fangs were so fully dropped. “Thank you. Do you feel better?”
Rosalyn pursed her lips. She gestured for him to roll back over. She kissed what she imagined were the phantom marks left on the firm swells of his behind, then chased the serpent tattoo up the column of his spine with another volley of kisses. She laid atop him, covering him with her body. “Please explain why you’re doing this.”
“Be more precise with your questions.” Like a vampire, he meant.
“Back to being a maker, I see,” she grumbled. “Why do you want me to punish you? I don’t want to whip you.”
He nestled his head against her. “You chose to whip me. You decided I wanted punishment. That was your interpretation of my desires.” She began to disagree and he interrupted. “You could have lashed me elsewhere. Drawn it out. Made it a proper beating. Or teased me. Tickled me. Ignored me. So many things you might have done with your lovely little whip.” Rosalyn swallowed and inhaled the scent of his hair. Godric wiggled out from underneath her so they were facing each other. “Do you know there is not a soul alive that would believe you just did that? A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“Five minutes ago, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
“No one touches me freely. Except you. One night you reached out and touched me without permission and…I allowed it. It was the smartest thing I’ve ever done.”
Rosalyn picked up the crop and toyed the tip over his skin. Trails of gooseflesh rose in its wake. “You like how that feels?” He hummed in agreement. “It seems a little early to up the ante in our bedroom. Are you bored already?” The concern in her voice was real.
Godric snorted. “Never. May I hold it a moment?” Rosalyn gave him the simple stick of black leather. It was in no way overtly kinky. It could have come from any equestrian shop or catalogue. He held it up and twirled it in his fingers. “I will never touch this without your permission. I will never use it without your explicit direction. This, Rosalyn, is yours and yours alone.”
“Great,” she said, unenthused.
He placed it back in her hand. He closed his fingers over hers. “When you hold this, or even if you say you feel like holding it, it tells me you want to communicate seriously, in a way that only you and I can as husband and wife.”
“I seriously doubt -“
“With this in your hand, I just showed you that I know how the things I am obligated to do as your maker upset you. You just confirmed that they do. Four, feather-light taps. Quite lenient given that I gave you five very large reasons to be angry with me.”
“So you what? Want to fuel our married life with angry sex? I am really not into S&M.”
“It’s only about anger if that’s how you’re feeling and that’s how you choose to express it. This is a symbol of your control, Ros. Keep it in a dusty drawer for all I care. But don’t forget you have it. You have all of me.”
Rosalyn bit her lip in consideration. “Including your submission.”
He smiled softly. “Yes.”
“It’s just make believe.”
Godric squeezed her hand holding the crop. “There is nothing pretend about my willing submission. It is absolutely real. There will be no repercussions when you ask for it.”
“You don’t have to do that for me.”
“No. I don’t.”
A knot of anxiety curled in her gut. “But you want to?”
“You seemed surprised.”
“It’s just -“
“Don’t listen to everything Eric tells you. He doesn’t know how to be my pledged wife.”
How Godric knew that Eric had told her about his abusive past was a mystery. Perhaps Godric was floating a suspicion and her hesitation proved him right. “Only I know how to be your wife,” she said cautiously.
“Precisely, my love.”
“You never allowed him this, did you?”
Godric laughed. “How do you say it? ‘Hell no’.” Rosalyn chuckled. Eric was upstairs in the shower. Godric had insisted he keep close during his day rest. They could feel him bristle with awareness of their thoughts. Did they want him to come down? Godric gave him a psychic shove. No. They wanted space.
Godric jutted his chin at the dresser. “Second drawer.” Rosalyn padded over and rolled it open. A searing, metallic scent scalded her nose and she sucked in a hiss of shock. “It’s okay, Ros. That’s silver.”
Rosalyn responded with a mangled curse, covering her mouth and nose. “Why the hell do you have silver handcuffs down here?”
Godric remained impassive. “You’re going to have to get used to silver, love. Those are covered in leather. They won’t burn you. Have you ever received an electric shock?”
“Yah. Couple times.”
“It’s like that. Your arm will feel tingly and dead, like it fell asleep. They’ll feel very, very heavy in your hand. Bring them here.”
He raised his eyebrows. “Try again.”
“This is your only chance. Going once? Twice?…Alright. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” In a blur, Godric had snatched the cuffs up and bounced back on the bed.
“You did not,” she said. Godric grinned. He clanked his cuffed wrists against the steel headboard where they hung strung up through a slat. “You’re a freak, you know that?”
“What are you going to do about it? You’ve got me bound and at your mercy. You can do anything you want to me.” He stretched suggestively.
Rosalyn knelt on the mattress. “You can get out of them.” Godric craned his neck to inspect his wrists. “Yes. I’d prefer not wrecking our bed. Or the cuffs. They are nice. Rated 200 years, for even the most rascally of younglings.”
“Oh for…Godric! What has gotten into you?”
He started laughing. “You! I blame you completely. All that inconceivably hot sex last night has gone to my head.”
“Where is the key, you pervert?”
He raised his chin in defiance. “The dog ate it.”
Godric howled in laughter, rattling the cuffs more. “That’s not very nice, Madame Representative of the Inter-species Peace movement. Our staff might take offense!”
“Why you…!” Rosalyn tackled him and began tickling him mercilessly. She nipped him hard – repeatedly. He writhed in pleasure and as his skin smoothed against hers, their play became heated. Godric sought her mouth, his tongue wet with his own blood. Her body found his and when their forms connected, she sat astride him, glorious in her conquest.
“How’s the view from up there?” he said. She tossed her hair and worked her hips in response. “Tell me truly. Are you happy?” She leaned down and kissed him deeply, caging his face between her arms. “In this marriage, we are equal, Ros. No powers, no politics. There is no one here but us.”
“It is sacred,” she said.
“This is ours, and ours alone. Our collaboration. Our expression with one another.”
“It’s not about the crop, or the stupid handcuffs,” she said, whispering against his lips.
“No. It’s a little hard to wrap up freedom and equality.”
Rosalyn lost herself for several minutes as she made love to him, enjoying his firm figure keening and needy beneath her. “Want to tell me where you put the keys?”
“I think you’d better finish what you started.”
She laughed. “What you started, mister.”
“Hmm, yes. I’ve gotten myself into a tight spot.” Rosalyn squeezed down on him. “Very..tight…”
“Shhhh,” she said and he moaned “Yes, ma’am.”
“C’mon, Blondie. Let’s go.” Eric was so focused on his chess game, he did not hear Rosalyn speak at first. Amleth had him in check. “He’s got you cornered.”
“I’ve more than got him cornered,” Amleth said, rolling his eyes. “Seriously, Eric? A Sicilian defense on C5?”
Rosalyn had no idea what that meant, but she was pretty certain it was curtains for Eric. “Ready?”
Eric looked up. “What’s up, baby girl?”
She spun a set of car keys on her finger. They were for the new Audi Eric had ordered. He had been beside himself when it was delivered. “We’re going hunting,” she announced. Amleth dropped Eric’s white knight. It spun in wild circles on the tile floor. He and Eric sat frozen. “Well? Look alive. There’s a lot on the docket tonight. I can’t be out very long.” Eric stood up on autopilot, slowly brushing the wrinkles from his track pants. He and Amleth exchanged something rapid-fire and grave in a glance. “I have permission, Eric,” she said. “I’m not insane. I’m not trying to get us in trouble.”
Like a ghost, Constantine appeared in the shadow of the game room doorway. He often did this whenever Rosalyn came near his maker. He watched her like a hawk, circling in silent threat.
Amleth’s brow furrowed into a deep crease. He and Eric looked at each other again. “Shall I come? I think backup is very much in order.”
“Not this time.” Rosalyn reached for Amleth’s hand. He took it. “I was hoping we might make other plans tonight.”
“You’re welcome to help me with paperwork. I’m swamped.” Contrary to Godric’s suggestion that London could go hang itself, Amleth was not about to relinquish his Sheriffdom. The logistics of managing his territory remotely had grown exponentially harder without his children on site.
“London can wait one night, can’t it? Take the evening off.”
“I hardly think that -“
“You have my permission,” Rosalyn said, eyes twinkling.
Amleth quirked an eyebrow. “I do, do I? Well then.”
“See you when I get back?”
“Certainly.” He caught her hand before she could slip from his grasp. “Rosalyn? Be careful. Please. Listen to Eric. Do exactly what he says. It is imperative.”
Eric explained their concern. “I blew it the first time Godric let me go off without him.”
“As in, cataclysmically, epically, disastrously blew it,” Amleth said. “And I was supposed to be watching him.”
“Remember when I said Godric split us up?” Eric said.
“We were on Death row for five years,” Amleth said. They both shivered at the memory.
“I won’t screw up,” she promised.
Amleth shook his head. “No, darling. You cannot screw up. There’s a difference.” He shifted his gaze back to Eric. “Either of you.”
She gave Amleth a little salute and winked. “Understood, Sheriff. See you before sun-up?”
Amleth gave a weary sigh and uttered an inaudible prayer. Constantine glowered at her as they passed.
“Can I drive?” Rosalyn said, jangling the keys.
“Not a chance,” Eric said with a snort and snatched the key set.
Amleth called after them. “For the love of the gods, behave yourselves. And mind the fucking paparazzi, you two!”
Rosalyn scrunched up her face. The giant red neon light buzzed above them against the sky. “Why a mall, Eric? There had better not be some sleazy place here like your club.”
“No. You’ll see,” he said. He was brimming with excitement. They entered through the doors and were greeted by a frigid blast of air conditioning. The mall air was laced with thousands upon thousands of scents. Eric quickly clasped an arm over her shoulders. He guided her through the department store, past the perfume ladies and shoe salesmen. “It’s a lot on the senses, I know. Don’t breathe unless you want information or need to talk.” He wound through home goods, taking his time and looking at nothing in particular, then into the menswear section. Gradually, the onslaught lessened. Rosalyn took a cautious breath and exhaled. She glanced up at Eric. “Okay?” he said. She nodded.
They left the department store to stroll the main mall. “Malls are an excellent place to find a meal. Everyone comes looking for something – or someone. People are…receptive.”
“You must have loved the Paris Arcades,” she said. The Parisians had built palaces of glass, gilt, and ironwork for shopping.
Eric chuckled. “No, Amleth and Pam were big fans though. They terrorize Paris on a regular basis.”
“Two shopaholics with nothing but time?” she guessed.
“And money,” Eric said. “I’m glad Pam likes making it because gods above she knows how to spend it.”
They chatted amiably and wandered for some time, stopping at window displays that beckoned them. Eric was curious about the appliances in a kitchen store. He pointed to a stand mixer, wanting to know more.
“No, Blondie, that attachment grinds up meat,” Rosalyn explained.
“And it turns it into noodles?”
“No. It’s just ground up.”
He squinted at the picture on the display. “But it comes out as ground meat noodles.”
“No, dingus, noodles are made of flour and eggs. You can put ground meat in a sauce to serve on top of noodles.”
“But why would you want to,” Eric said sarcastically. He made a sound of disgust. They continued walking, hand in hand. At some point, Rosalyn realized she had not done anything so ‘normal’ since she had eaten ice cream with Godric. She swung Eric’s arm playfully, enjoying this reprieve from the Sheriff’s nest and all that it entailed.
Passing by a coffee stand, Rosalyn heard a woman point her out to a friend. She stiffened automatically, thinking she had done something to betray her new nature. “Girl, who does she think she is?” the woman said. Eric immediately tightened his hand on Rosalyn’s and she grabbed his arm.
The woman’s friend, who apparently thought she was whispering, replied. “He could do so much better. Look at her! So pathetic. She’s clinging on to him for dear life.”
“Mmhmm,” the first woman agreed. “As if she could keep him. You just know he’s probably banging half the office.”
“Out of your league, honey,” the friend said loudly, not caring if she was overheard.
“Don’t,” Eric warned, his arm rigid in case Rosalyn tried to pull away. “They aren’t worth it.”
Rosalyn stopped dead in her tracks. “No, but I am, dammit.” She reached up on tiptoes and found Eric’s mouth. He kissed her half-stunned before matching her kiss with real heat. He cradled her head in his palm and pulled her to his chest. When she pulled away, his eyes were round with fire and surprise. “And we both know you’re not screwing around on me,” she said. He blinked slowly as she stared up at him and he understood. Blinking again, he came to his senses and remembered they were standing in the middle of a mall thoroughfare. “Teeth, baby girl,” he whispered quickly. Rosalyn bit her lips. Her fangs had sprung loose.
Eric cast an arctic stare at the gossipy women. The women flustered and hurriedly gathered the litter on their table to leave. “That, for the record, was glorious,” he said into the shell of Rosalyn’s ear. He caught her earlobe between his teeth and hummed a deep, breathy laugh.
They carried on, but the women’s nasty words made Rosalyn hyper-aware of everyone watching them. They were petty and meaningless words, and still, they stung. “Women are so horrible to each other sometimes. They drag each other down and hold each other back.” Eric hummed in agreement. “Don’t look innocent, Blondie. You attract the worst kind.”
“Pshah. I attract all the kinds. It’s simply a matter of statistics that some of them are -“
“I was going to say less than admirable.”
“I’m not even going to ask where you set your bar.”
It was his turn to stop and pull her sharply against his chest. “You know exactly where and how I set my bar, my bonded.” His voice was low and thick with passion. “No one commands my blood. I chose you.”
Rosalyn suppressed a sheepish grin. “Alright, alright, Don Erico. You’re making me blush.”
He flipped his hair and continued walking. “You’re going to see soon enough that everyone has a place and role to play – if you let them.” He led Rosalyn around the corner and stopped in front of a busy lingerie store.
“Eww, Eric. No.”
“It stinks like weird vaporized alcohol spray and patriarchy.”
Eric started bouncing with laughter. “Yes, and it’s a great hunting ground.” He looked down at her and he sobered. “Trust me.” There was so much that passed between them in that single glance.
A heated frisson of electricity rushed over the surface of her skin. “Always,” she said.
Within minutes, Eric shoved a couple teddies at her. “Eric, seriously, no.”
“Just ‘shop.’ Keep your eyes on me and for the love of Odin, do not take an interest in anything other than the panties. Nobody recognizes what we are. Keep it that way.”
He cruised around a rack and very quickly had a woman volunteer to model some bras for him. He politely declined, but not before quirking his eyebrow at Rosalyn across the store as if to say ‘See? I’m a good boy.’
“‘Scuse me, miss,” a man in a golf polo said to Rosalyn. His pink shirt was tucked with determination over his round midsection into a pair of khaki shorts. “I’m lookin’ for something…” He licked his lips. “…real special.”
“I don’t work here,” Rosalyn said. She hoped he was not going to force the issue. She did not have much air in her lungs.
“That’s allllright, little lady. You look like you’ve got great taste.”
“You have no idea,” she blurted out. With those four tiny words, she caught more than a whiff of his scent. She grabbed the edge of the display table and clamped the back of her throat shut.
“Good evening, sir,” Eric said, materializing at Rosalyn’s side. “If you make a few selections and step into a dressing room, my assistant will be more than happy to show them to you. Won’t you?” He nudged Rosalyn.
“We could start with these?” She held up the hideous get-ups Eric had given her. The golf shirt licked his chops again, this time at the sight of the laser-cut nylon and feathers.
“Right this way,” Eric said, pouring on the charm.
Eric pulled Rosalyn back against his chest and she whined, “Oh, god!” She was enraptured by the feed.
Eric wadded one of the teddies up and wiped the man’s throat. “Get out. You never saw us. You didn’t find what you were looking for.” No sooner had the golf shirt bumbled out of the dressing room did Rosalyn turn and practically attack Eric. He caught her in his arms as she latched on to his mouth.
“Ros,” he said through her hot, demanding kiss. “Ros. Unf, fuck, that’s AB neg. Ros -” He sucked on her tongue and she pulled hard on his hair before he steadied himself and pulled away. He had to wrestle to get her hands free without pulling out his own mane. “Ros. Baby.” Her hands were everywhere, under his shirt, down the backside of his track pants. “Rosalyn,” he finally said in a sharp growl. She startled. He licked the smear on her chin slowly and tasted her again, holding her gaze. “You’re bloodlusted. It’s not me you want.” He pulled her close and kissed her temple. “Shh. Just let it flow over you. Ride it out.” She exhaled and let her head fall back. “You’re so fucking gorgeous,” Eric said, whispering into her hair. “Do you know that? I adore you. You were brilliant.”
“That woman – the one who wanted you. She’s still here. Go have her.”
“We shouldn’t linger.”
“You need it,” Rosalyn said. “I expect you to take care of yourself.”
He suppressed a smile. “Thank you. Next time, you naughty kitten.”
On the drive home, neither said a word. They caught each other’s eyes now and then, and smiled. Rosalyn insisted on choosing the music, so the right songs would always be in their memories. Eric held her hand loosely over the console, except when he needed to shift gears. It may have been the slowest he had driven anywhere, ever.
“Coming,” Pamela said, answering the light tap on her door. She greeted the visitor wearing a sequined pantsuit and skyscraper heels.
Rosalyn held up two hangers. “Which do I wear?”
Pamela balked at the options. “Are you going to a recycling center or to a kill shelter?”
“Then the answer is no. Come in.” Pam rummaged in her desk drawer and sorted through a stack of envelopes, culling out three. “Can I just say that whatever you did to my maker tonight…”
“I didn’t – ” Rosalyn began to protest.
Pam cut her short. “Thank you. Very. Much,” she said, clicking down black credit cards one by one. “Be sure to sign them before you use them.” She beamed a white smile.
Rosalyn laughed. “You know I won’t use them.”
“Buy something for your Old Man. Or Amleth. You’ve got all the boys floating on happy clouds. Mission accomplished?”
Rosalyn reached into the tote over her shoulder. She set down a red leather case marked ‘Bulgari’. She pushed it across the desk. “Getthefuckout,” Pam gasped.
“Why don’t you have my wedding dress altered for yourself, as maid of honor, and we can pick out something else for me? This time, we can find it together.”
Pamela sniffed and fixed a curl framing her face. She coolly ignored the fact that she had just been made a bridesmaid. Rosalyn had been annoyingly mum about inviting guests. “I can’t wear the necklace. I’m under orders. You told me so yourself.”
“If Sophie-Anne wants to complain, she can file it under ‘your grandsire’s last nerve’. Try it on.”
“I suppose I could just try it. I won’t wear it out.”
“Pamela Swynfort de Beaufort, Eiríkrsdottír.” Pam straightened at the use of her title. Her face went wide with astonishment as Rosalyn spoke. “You are the unreleased progeny of my bonded blood brother, Eiríkr Goðríkson, himself firstborn and unreleased, the child of my sire and pledged husband, Goðrík the Great, Lord of his House and Line.”
Pamela nodded gravely. It was serious business to be called out this formally.
“You are twice over my kin, Pam, bound by the strongest ties we have to honor each other. You are twice over mine. This is my gift to you. “
“Well, shit.” Pamela brushed a knuckle at the edge of her eye and sniffed again. She took the box and held it against her chest. “Thank you. Mission so accomplished,” she said, wiping at unshed tears.
Rosalyn laughed and gestured for the jewel case. “Let’s see it on. I am so not snapping this box at your hand like some cheesy rom-com moment, though.” Pamela pouted, then pulled her hair off her neck and giddily pranced over to a full-length mirror. Rosalyn draped the emeralds and diamonds over her petite collar and fastened the clasp. They inspected the results.
“I hate that I like you this much,” Pamela said.
“That’s okay, Pam. You’ll get over it.”
Pamela grinned wickedly. “Now tell me what we’re dressing for and I’ll get you set up.
A/N: Bet you didn’t expect to hear from me this soon, did ya? 😉 Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! Your feedback has me on a writing roll. Ch. 28 is nearly done and will be posted soon. Reviewers get to see Godric’s “I’m so good at being bad” face up close. Xx, Melusine