Rosalyn was enveloped in Michael’s heady, male scent. His artery thudded between her teeth, hot and rich, pounding all the harder for the depraved encouragements Godric whispered into his ear. His legs squirmed and jerked around her shoulders and she held him steady by the thighs, just as Eric had taught her.
Eric. There was no escaping him in this house. Thoughts of him invaded her focus. His aroma was pressed into the mattress, into the rug beneath her feet, in the very air. She growled and resettled her bite only to have the trill of a phone ring from somewhere upstairs. She broke off from her meal. “Can you get that?” she asked.
Godric slid from the bed, taking the loose bedsheet as he went. He spun it expertly around himself into a toga, and had tossed the final fold over his shoulder by the time he reached the door. “He is so freaking cool,” Michael said dreamily. “I’d like tattoos like those. Think he’d be offended?”
“Yes,” Rosalyn replied. She sealed the place where she had bitten him with a lick and fell beside him. “Those aren’t just random designs. They reflect his past.”
“Oh.” He blushed in embarrassment.
“Would you like me to draw you a bath? Eric’s tub is Olympic-sized.” Michael smelled like a gym – all adrenaline and sweaty pheromones.
He gazed at her with big doe-brown eyes and stroked his inner thigh. “Are you sure you don’t want more? I feel fine.”
He wanted to penetrate her, she knew, despite having already orgasmed from her compulsion. She considered it – the angry strain in his wet boxer briefs, his youthful body, his want. How many times had a pretty boy tried to convince her that his interest was hers? A smile crept over her mouth. “No. You’ll keep,” she teased. The power in her veins freed her. She would never again be persuaded to put a man’s carnal desires before her own.
Godric reappeared in the doorway. “You want your skin marked, little rabbit?” He had heard him lusting after his tattoos.
Michael nodded eagerly. “Sure. What did you have in mind?”
“Not what you’re imagining.” Godric tilted his head, his eyes slanted and cat-like. Michael had that same shape in his cheeks, albeit colored altogether differently. “Decide, Rosalyn. Either you claim him or I do.”
She sat upright. “What’s going on?”
“We are needed at Fangtasia. I don’t want him wandering in the wild unclaimed. It’s not safe.”
“Fangtasia?” Michael said. “I’ve heard that place is rad.”
“You’re a donor, Michael,” Godric reminded him bluntly. “I do not control the vampires in this territory. As it stands, others will assume you are on offer. They won’t stop to ask.”
“Shouldn’t it be Eric?” Rosalyn said. “Michael is his employee, after all.” As she spoke, her hand unconsciously tightened on his wrist.
Godric’s nostrils flared in amusement. “Listen to your instincts and then tell me that’s what you prefer.” She bit her lip in consideration and Godric gave her a knowing look.
“But it’s a serious thing,” she said in a low voice.
“Most of our kind don’t think twice about marking their feeding ground. It’s your choice. I will never command your blood.”
He huffed a laugh. “There is no ‘but’. I’m not that kind of maker. What you choose to do with the sacred gift I’ve given you is for you alone to decide.”
“You’d actually be willing to claim him yourself?” She felt a tinge of jealousy.
“I would do it for you. We brought Michael into our retinue. The decision to take responsibility for him was already made.”
Michael fidgeted. “Uh, do you guys need a minute?”
“Stay,” Godric said mildly. “You won’t remember this conversation.” He returned his focus to Rosalyn. “Obviously I wouldn’t go beyond a feeding claim.”
“Because you’re not that kind of maker?” she said in irritation.
Godric’s features darkened. “Because I’m not that kind of lover, Ros. And I should hope you aren’t either.”
“Oh,” she stammered in surprise.
“Feed and fornicate all you like, young love. But if you’re already interested in forging blood ties beyond the bloodline, I’m going to seriously question my prowess.” He gave her a sidelong glance and suppressed a smile.
She bounced in laughter. “That’s where we’re drawing the line for fidelity? Gotcha! No blood sharing with outsiders.”
“As for making claims…” He smirked. “Let’s just see how things play out, shall we?”
He went to the bed, letting his fingertips trail over Michael’s skin. Goosebumps chased in their wake. Michael dared to reach up and touch the ink on Godric’s bicep. Godric paused. His intense stare froze Michael in place. He leaned down to his ear to speak confidentially. “You may look, jackrabbit, but do not touch. I am spoken for.”
Michael retracted his wandering hand. “Sorry.”
Godric tapped him playfully on the nose. “You’d do well to remember that. A less perceptive vampire might mistake your actions as an invitation to be bitten.”
Michael went to respond. His breath caught in his throat. Godric was suddenly standing over him innocently, waiting. “Ow!” Michael jumped belatedly. Two crimson dots welled up on his neck and he slapped his hand over them.
“Godric!” Rosalyn cried out. Not even she had seen him strike.
“I’m helping,” he said mischievously. He hitched a knee behind Michael and hugged him to his chest. Tugging on his dark hair, he exposed Michael’s throat. “You’re ours,” he told him, his accent growing broad. Michael nodded. “Let me hear you say it.”
“Yours. Please.” Michael was at a loss to explain his need. He gripped Godric’s knees and his tanned body strained desirously, captured in Godric’s bone-crushing hold.
Rosalyn swallowed. Her pupils had blown wide. “Struggle for me,” she said impulsively.
“Oh, Ros,” Michael gasped. He writhed pointlessly in Godric’s arms, hot flesh against cool. Rosalyn’s teeth throbbed in tune with Michael’s heartbeat. Godric cast her a scorching look and she straddled the boy, trapping him between their bodies.
Godric let out a low, rattling growl and Michael melted in response. In his submission, Michael looked like an obscene saint, eyes closed and mouth open and wanting. “Mine,” she said and Godric nodded darkly. “Claim him if you want him to yourself,” he whispered.
She slipped her fangs into the shallow nicks Godric had made and deepened them. The sensation made her swoon with pleasure. She understood at once why he had nipped the boy. It felt as though her maker was letting her take something of his. Sharing a human with him felt wildly depraved and glorious.
“…like a blood kiss…” Godric was telling her. She barely heard. She toyed with the bite, nuzzling it and purring into Michael’s neck. He tensed and shivered beneath her and she realized she had made him come again. She laughed and healed the tiny wounds, then slid off his lap.
“You’re fun,” she whispered to him, inspecting the shallow, shimmery mark she had left. “Go wash up. We’ll find you in a bit.”
“Michael?” Godric said, stopping him. “You did well.”
He blushed furiously and dipped his head. “Thank you, sir.”
Godric chuckled at his sudden return to formality. “Close the door behind you. Tell Sookie to get ready. You’re both coming with us.” He turned to his wife, the glint in his eyes animalistic. “You had better get on the floor. The bed won’t survive what I’m going to do to you.”
“This is so rad,” Michael said, standing outside Fangtasia. The club’s neon sign splashed red over the entrance. The bass from inside thudded underfoot in the pavement.
“Alls I’ll say is don’t leave your drink unattended,” Sookie said.
Godric scanned the parking area. “Getting drugged is the least of your concerns here. Stay close.”
The club was situated at the end of an otherwise gloomy strip mall. The nail salon, dollar store, and sketchy attorney’s office sharing the lot were all shuttered for the evening, their storefronts grey. Fangtasia was bustling. Hopeful tourists and local goth kids formed a long queue, only to be turned away for wearing khakis or being underage. A group of svelte college girls were waved in. Godric’s party cut to the head of the line. The bouncer nodded at Godric – not quite a bow – and Godric pulled his ball cap down over his eyes. The humans did not recognize them. He wanted to keep it that way.
Rosalyn was fully prepared to hate Eric’s club. To her human eyes, Fangtasia’s online ads had made it seem both sleezy and super corny, like a carnival ride, complete with the dodgy owners and predictably safe ending. ‘Walk on the wild side,’ the website proclaimed. ‘Flirt with darkness.’
Rosalyn’s jaw dropped when they entered the red vinyl door. A wall of lust and pounding blood hit her senses. “I see,” was all she managed.
Godric’s grip on her arm tightened. “He is a brilliant businessman.”
The man in question sat sprawled on a massive throne, lording over the pulsing room. Danger reigned supreme here, and Eric Northman was its god. The club was not a ride at all. It was a trap.
No biting on the premises, a sign over the bar declared.
Rosalyn swallowed. Disturbing, seductive industrial music thudded the black floorboards and the walls. The colored strobe lights disoriented the humans. Their senses were further dulled pounding bottles and shots. To her preternatural vision, the club appeared like a dapple-lit jungle, everything alive and moving. These were hunting grounds – and she the camouflaged tiger. “Eric can’t possibly sell just Tru Blood to the vampires here,” she said.
Godric suppressed a smile. “Clever woman.” There were industrial freezers with donor blood in the back, he explained. Eric maintained a monopoly on the trade, and his subjects were more than happy to stay on his radar in exchange for access to his top-shelf goods. The titillating environment was too enticing to refuse. “Are you alright?” Godric asked.
“I’m handling it,” she said, trying not to breathe.
One of Eric’s enforcers, Indira, greeted them. Her eyes crawled over Michael. She nodded at Rosalyn in understanding. “He will be looked after.”
“The woman, too. She is Eric’s,” he said loudly. The arctic look he cast Sookie dared her to contradict him. Sookie wisely stayed silent. She looked very out of place in her pastel sun dress.
“They will not be touched,” Indira said. Other vampires in the club were watching, exchanging sly looks and silent comments. Rosalyn realized why Godric had wanted their human friends to tag along. By the end of the evening, everyone in the Sheriffdom would know they were off limits.
Godric left the humans at the bar to order drinks and proceeded to the staff hallway with Rosalyn. He stopped outside the basement door. “After you.”
She hesitated. “You don’t expect me to do the questioning, do you?” Godric stared placidly. “Seriously?”
“You’ll only learn through practice.”
“But Costas ran circles around me before! You were right. I don’t know what I’m doing,” she said, her voice rising in panic.
“I’ve got your back.” She huffed in disbelief. He put a hand on her shoulder. “Rosalyn, I am your Maker. I will always protect you. We’ll do this together.” He sent her a wave of strength. Her confidence lasted to the bottom of the stairwell.
“Jesus Christ!” Rosalyn gasped. Eva and Constantine were chained to a rotating stockade suspended from the basement ceiling. “Thalia, is it?” The petite vampires stood in alarm. “This isn’t the Crusades. Get them down from there!”
“But -” she started to protest.
“Now,” Godric growled.
“They stopped talking after I called you,” Thalia explained. “They’re being difficult.”
“They are his grandprogeny,” Rosalyn hissed.
Thalia nervously looked between them and quickly worked to unlock the prisoners. Eva collapsed off the rack, rubbing her wrists. Rosalyn helped her to her feet. Godric offered a hand to Constantine and the dark-haired vampire refused it. He fell to the ground, still lame in his left leg. Rosalyn went to him and he gracelessly scrambled up using her shoulder as a support.
Godric waited for them on the stairwell. “Where are we going?” Constantine asked.
“To talk,” Godric said.
Constantine turned to Rosalyn. “You promised,” he said through gritted teeth.
“So did you. We want to talk. You’d better talk.” Constantine paled and let go of her arm, preferring to hobble up the concrete stairs under his own steam.
Godric led them to Eric’s office. Eric was already there, perched on the edge of his desk looking irritated. He motioned for the young prisoners to sit on a leather couch. Pamela shut the door and Godric crossed his arms, blocking the exit. The four of them loomed over Amleth’s children, waiting for answers.
“Oh joy. A family reunion,” Constantine quipped.
Rosalyn ignored him. She addressed Eva. “I hear there was a development.”
“I thought I felt Amleth’s mental signature grow stronger. Maybe. It might have flickered.”
“It ‘maybe might have fucking maybe’?” Eric spat. “Tell us what happened!”
Rosalyn held up a hand. Eva sucked in a ragged breath. “It was just a moment. I could be mistaken. It might have been nothing.”
“Thalia said you screamed,” Godric pointed out. “Repeatedly. That’s a whole lot of ‘nothing’.”
“It’s been a tense twenty-four hours. I was panicked.”
“She’s lying through her teeth,” Pam said in disdain. “Take her fangs, Grandsire.”
Rosalyn knelt in front of the two. “May I?” she asked Constantine. She lifted his pantleg and inspected his ankle. “That’s looking better. How are you feeling?” She rested a hand on his knee and he went stiff.
“They’re both malnourished,” Godric supplied. “They’ve not recovered from trying to heal their maker.”
“Let’s see what we can do about that, hm?” Rosalyn said. “We need both of you thinking straight. What blood type do you prefer?”
“Anything will do,” Constantine mumbled.
“Don’t be shy,” Godric said. “You heard her. What do you feel like? The club is packed.” Constantine and Eva exchanged a startled glance.
“You mean – ?” Eva said in disbelief. “You’d procure for us?” Godric shrugged.
“We’d be honored,” Constantine said earnestly. Godric gave Rosalyn an amused glance and slipped out without a word.
Eric towered over them. “That is as much of an apology as you are ever going to get from him. Thank your mistress for her gracious help. If it were up to me, I’d be pulling fingernails right now.”
“Thank you,” they both said to Rosalyn, eyes cast down.
“Pammy, keep watch. C’mon, baby girl.” Eric tugged Rosalyn’s arm.
In Pamela’s office, a bank of monitors displayed stock prices, accounting spreadsheets, and the club’s CCTV cameras. Eric enlarged the security footage of the club floor across one of the screens. He took Pamela’s chair and pulled Rosalyn into his lap.
“What are we doing?” she asked, making herself comfortable.
“Watching Maker hunt. You’ve never seen him go, no? It never gets old.”
On the screen, they watched as Godric stood for a moment at the edge of the dancefloor, motionless and observing. He suddenly melted into the crowd, moving as the clubgoers did. Save for the unnatural sheen of his skin, he was a chameleon, indistinguishable from every other twenty-something writhing in the pulsing beat. Rosalyn pitched forward. “Damn.”
He could dance.
“Just watch,” Eric said.
Godric appeared lost in the music, his ball cap shaded over his eyes. People were unnaturally drawn to him, even as he ignored them. They gravitated toward him along some invisible frequency. A girl with a pixie-cut and a gold chain mail crop top worked her way to him.
“She’s cute,” Rosalyn said.
“You like that, baby girl? I’d bite it if you would.”
“I’m sure she has a name.”
“Hmm.” Eric stroked her hair distractedly.
Godric set his gaze on the woman and she visibly gasped. He flicked his head at the bathrooms and she scrambled to get there in a daze. A guy in a dog collar and black lipstick approached. He dropped to his knees in prayer and Godric continued to dance. The dog collar was quickly jostled out of the way by others vying for Godric’s attention.
“You should have seen Maker in the 18th century,” Eric said. “Europe’s royalty couldn’t get enough of him. He terrorized their courts. I doubt he ate a single peasant that century.”
“What’s he doing to them?”
“He’s made himself into the most interesting thing here tonight – as if we didn’t already know that.”
She leaned closer to the screen. “What the hell?” Half the club was circled around Godric, bouncing rhythmically and copying his moves. “Has he spellbound them or something?”
“Nope. He can imitate humans so perfectly they think he is the best of them. In their eyes, he’s a superstar. They don’t even realize he isn’t one of them. He’s the king of apex predators.”
“Is that your strategy? You just sit up there in your lawn chair and they adore you?”
“My little zoo has its perks.”
“I can tell. How many women did you eat tonight?” Eric’s deep laugh rumbled against her. She whacked his thigh. “You’re terrible.”
He hummed in agreement. “You still need to learn to pass for human, even though the Great Revelation makes it less essential. It takes a while to become aware of all of your particular habits enough to morph out of them.”
“What was the hardest for you?”
“I’m a quick study.”
“Oh, come on.”
He made a sound of displeasure. “My walk. Godric said I slouched like an ape when I first tried to hide my height.”
Rosalyn laughed and he jostled her on his knee. “It’s no laughing matter! There are miles of me, as I think you know, missy.” He tickled her and she hooked an arm around his shoulders.
They watched as Godric pushed through the throngs, gesturing for the clubgoers to keep partying. His hand clasped on a pretty young man with longish hair and a sharp blazer. “We should go back, huh?” Rosalyn said.
Eric kept her in place. “I think you ought to sit this one out. Two hungry vampires feeding live is liable to put you over the edge.”
“I glutted before we came here. I’m good.”
Her judgement was a bit over-optimistic. Constantine took the stylish guy with slim hips in the corner of Eric’s office, while Eva picked the girl with the gold top on the couch. Eva snarled, black-eyed, into the woman’s neck and Rosalyn lost it. Godric caught her. He let her struggle against his hold, mad with the urge to join the feeding frenzy. He cut his eyes at Eric. “You let her watch me hunt, didn’t you?”
Eric feigned innocence. “I warned her this would be too much.”
Godric gnashed his teeth. “I picked the sparkly topped young lady with Ros in mind, thinking she might want a taste.”
Eric pursed his lips. “You called that one right. You still willing to share, lillasyster?”
“Sure,” Rosalyn said, her voice husky with bloodlust.
“Perhaps tomorrow, if you’re both keen,” Godric said. Eva had fed deeply.
Eric called his barmaid, Ginger, to come collect the humans and escort them out the back door. Godric glamoured the man, while Eric called the woman over. He took her by the chin. “The only thing you will remember about tonight, Sparkles, was that it was fantastic.”
“My name is Jenn.”
“Whatever. You danced, I nodded at you, you want to come back. I might even talk to you – if you can get my attention. I’m so dreamy.”
“Eric,” Godric warned. The Viking might refuse to glamour people into sleeping with him, but he had no qualms about making them like him.
“Wear this top again,” Eric told her. “It’s got great side-boob.”
Rosalyn’s stare lingered as the humans left. “How did you know I’d want to try her?” she asked when they were gone.
Godric smiled. “Procuring well takes practice. I’ll teach you.”
Eric turned his attention back to the two prisoners on his couch. “Enough foreplay, kids. What’s the fucking deal?”
Constantine set his jaw. The meal had brought color to his cheeks, and evidently a dash of nerve. “I am acting Sheriff of London. We do not owe you answers, Northman.”
Rosalyn stepped forward. “For god’s sake, Costas! Tell us what’s going on. Is Amleth awake? Did you feel it, too?”
“I am acting Sheriff of London,” he said again, resolute. “You have no right to hold us.”
“You promised!” Rosalyn barked in outrage.
“Eva?” Eric asked. “Is that your line now as well?” Eva looked away.
Pamela rolled her eyes. “De-fang them, Grandsire.”
“What is there to hide? If your maker is innocent, as you claim, then he has been taken and needs our help,” Godric said. “Either Amleth’s condition has changed or it hasn’t. Which is it?”
“You will use anything we say against our Maker,” Constantine said. “You have no evidence of his wrongdoing, or ours. You’ve held us illegally for weeks. We are done with this charade. I demand to speak with Queen Sophie-Anne. You will answer for this gross abuse of power.”
Godric stared at them, unimpressed. “Tell them, Ros.”
“You idiots,” she said, thoroughly disgusted. “You thought, what? You’d get a warm bellyful on the house and walk out of here? Isabelle Beaumont is Queen of Louisiana now.”
Constantine deflated. “Shit,” he muttered. He had thought crossing state lines had given him a maneuver.
“What’s next?” Eric taunted. “A meeting with the Council? Lucky for you, they’re your cellmates. I’m sure they’ll be more than sympathetic to your cause.”
“They helped murder our grandsire,” Constantine said miserably.
Eric clapped. “Finally, something we can all agree on.”
Godric waited silently. Rosalyn sucked at her teeth, assessing the situation. “Send them back downstairs,” she said.
“What?” Constantine said in shock. “Come on, Ros!”
She got in his face. “I warned you not to pull any bullshit with me. This? This is mega-bullshit. You haven’t given us anything to work with.” She addressed Eric. “Get them out of my sight.” As she turned her back, Constantine lashed out. Godric caught him mid-air before the blow could land on Rosalyn’s spine. He held his fist, grinding the bones together. Constantine slid to his knees beneath him in a cowering puddle. “I’m so sorry,” he blubbered, horrified by his mistake. “It was a gut reaction. I’m sorry! Please don’t kill me.” Godric’s stare did not waver. He waited for Rosalyn’s order, coiled like a snake ready to strike. “Please, Madame. Forgive me!” Constantine begged.
“No,” she said coldly. “You can rot down in the jail and think about why none of this is acceptable. You condemn Amleth with your actions.” Godric relaxed and dropped the Greek to the ground.
Eric took the opportunity to kick Constantine swiftly in the stomach. “If you ever so much as think of drawing blood on my bonded again, I will kill you.” He grabbed Constantine and Eva by their scruffs and dragged them out of the office.
Pamela nodded at Rosalyn on her way out. “I like your style, vampiress.”
Alone with Godric, Rosalyn dropped her face into her hands. “I don’t even believe in incarceration! What the hell?” she cried. “I don’t recognize myself. I can’t do this, Godric.”
“You are doing admirably – and you’re doing it on your own terms.”
“They forced my hand! Did you know they would take advantage of me like that?”
Godric sat down beside her, pensive. “It was a possibility.”
“Then why play along? Why go so far as to ‘procure’ for them?”
He searched her. “Because it is what you wanted. I will never undermine your authority in front of others if I can help it.”
“But it was a stupid tactic,” she replied.
He shook his head softly. “No, love. You gave them an opportunity. They cannot claim we did not honor it. What do they expect will happen now?”
“Um.” She flushed with embarrassment. “They think I’m going to turn you loose on them.”
A sly smile ticked at the corner of his mouth. He was proud. “Well. We can’t give them what they want, can we?”
“What’s our play? How do we find Amleth?”
He sat back in thought. “Your guardian might still be stateside. Would you be willing to ask Sebek for help? I’ve likely exhausted his good will.”
“Are we going to put him in danger again?” Godric gave her a look. Rosalyn sighed. “Yeah, I’ll call him.”
A/N: Thoughts? Reactions? Theories? Hearing from you gives the Muse a big nudge. Please leave a comment if you have a moment. Reviewers get to dirty dance with Godric in the dark.
ALSO, Ch. 42 is almost done. It is explosive and I can’t wait to (finally!) share it with you. Look for it next week, just in time for the (American) holiday. xx, M