Ch. 17: Hunger Games, Part II

One of the benefits of having an undead boyfriend, if you weren’t aware, is that you can blast music, blow dry your hair, and generally make a hellacious racket while he sleeps – all without generating a single complaint. Lillian took advantage of the remaining daylight to quickly shower and primp in the swanky master bathroom before the sleeping vampires across the room awoke for the evening.

Watching Eric open his eyes and smile first thing each evening, usually bare-bummed and hair rumpled, had quickly become one of her favorite hobbies. It fascinated her to no end how vampires suddenly flipped on. One second they were dead and the next there they were, ready as ever. Humans are crinkly-eyed and ill-adjusted to the light. Our first instinct is to suck in a deep breath of air, just as if we were being reborn all over again. We wake and our temperature skyrockets along with our heart rate, sending chemicals zipping out in every direction to call our cells to order.

Tonight, however, Lillian decided to forgo her little ritual. She wanted to let the two vampires have a moment to themselves – it was going to be the last peace and quiet they would share together for a while. Certain that the door was secured against the sun, she took a glass of iced-tea out to the balcony with a book. They could come to her when they were ready.

The sun was well below the horizon but the sky was still a twisting tie-dye full of deep indigos and cobalt blues. She’d come to a new appreciation of sunsets and sunrises over the last two months. Every wisp and shade betrayed critical secrets about the hour at hand. Not time that played off a clock, but rather that which struck at the heart of a vampire’s powers and limitations. She knew now, for instance, that Godric would have long ago risen as the sky grew heady and flushed with a dusty orange. Eric could, with enough effort, force himself up then as well. But he preferred to rise when, on clear nights, the sky and earth met in a fiery, crimson blaze. This moment’s equal came on overcast evenings when low hanging, billowy sheets of cloud trapped the last threads of light and painted the world over in a smoldering violet and rosehip speckled haze. Of course neither had been able to enjoy these daily dramas until the very recent invention of thick UV-proof glass. Young Pam would only just be waking when at last the twinkling velvet curtain of night passed overhead. That was also Lillian’s cue to come inside and lock out the other creatures of the night, lest her singular fragrance draw unwanted attention.

Barefoot and draped in a long navy maxi dress, Lillian found something in the fridge and settled in the small dining area. That vampires would go through the trouble of outfitting a dining nook with a table, chairs, and candle centerpiece but not think to stock up on plates or silverware for authenticity’s sake was both typical and pretty funny. Thankfully Eric was ever mindful of her human needs and saw that such omissions in his living arrangements were immediately rectified. Godric’s obsessive fascination with human food lately – an endeavor which culminated in his smash sensation of a restaurant in Lunsen, Sweden – similarly came in handy. Since he’d shown up that night a month ago, he had fallen into the habit of piecing together little miraculous meals and setting them aside in the fridge for her. When he found time to do this was somewhat of a mystery given the political chaos they reigned first and foremost in their lives. His dishes somehow always managed to be casual masterpieces. They were plates you knew took extreme thought and culinary precision by the extraordinary nuance in their flavors, but that never came across as fussy or overly manipulated while you ate them. She never felt like she was destroying half of the art just by stabbing a fork into it. His idea of food, she thought, had the air of someone strolling aimlessly about picking wild edibles and deciding to tumble them together and make a meal out of earth’s easy bounty. Indeed, he often used fresh plants and fruits in entirely peculiar ways. Fairly mundane compared to his usual standards (the grocer’s delivery service here left something to be desired she supposed), tonight’s mini showpiece sported delicately folded petals of beef carpaccio topped with fresh lavender and a buttery pepper sauce pooled in the base. Mid-bite Lillian realized that she was quite hungry, so she dug out another square dish from the fridge. This one qualified as “salad”: an array of herb fronds and microgreens, almost none of which she could identify, garnished with strawberry slices, pomegranate seeds, toasted hazelnuts, and a spare sprinkling of goat cheese.

Eric wandered out of the bedroom (clothed, surprisingly) and wrapped his long arms around her.

“Good evening my beautiful lover.” He inhaled deeply over her shoulder. “Gods that smells amazing.”

“I always assumed human food was unpleasant for you.”

He buried his nose in her hair. “It’s just like…vampire cologne!”

“You’re bizarre!”

“No I’m not.” He laughed heartily. “Surely you realize how Godric cooks, don’t you!?”

“Let me guess. Witchcraft? No, wait. Elves!”

“Elves?! Wherever do you get these ideas? Elves are horrid creatures, Lila. No…” Eric beamed in pride, “He pairs the human to the dishes like you would wine to a meal.”

Her jaw fell open. In other words, scratch everything she’d just been thinking about innocent walks in fertile meadows and whatnot.

“Your scent and your taste, it’s all highlighted by the aromas and flavors of the food and how they subtly refine the quality of your blood. The real artistry in it, though, is getting the latter right and achieving a delectable meal for the person. It’s so brilliant that the Danes offered, begged really, to make him high lord over the entire country if only he would share his talents with our kind there. Naturally he refused.”

“Oh sure, naturally,” she quipped. Her temper began to flare. “So all this time I could have been hitting up the city’s nightlife if only I’d been scarfing down burgers and cheap beer?!”

“Don’t be silly. Of course not. Your unique, mouth-watering perfume combined by the powerfully arousing fact that you smell like a certain devastatingly gorgeous Viking vampire…no one could miss that! Just incidentally, that same Viking would like to mark every inch of your body with his aforementioned scent…”

He began kissing down the side of her cheek and neck. His broad hands started to roam and she gave an involuntary moan.

“Well, glad to know at least Godric will finally get to reap the benefits of his efforts to transform me into vamper crack.”

He froze for a fraction of a second. “Then you have decided?” He tried to not to sound too excited. Or anxious. He wasn’t sure which.

“Yeah, I have.” She reached up to run a tender hand through his hair.

“Hey, Goh, shall we convene?” he called to his maker unselfconsciously. Lillian smiled, completely charmed at this little nickname he’d never uttered before in her presence.

“You are adorable, Eric Northman.”

“Hmm?”

“So damn cute.”

“I am not cute, Lila. I am a fearsome Viking warrior prince who strikes terror in the hearts of his enemies.”

“Yeah, yeah, all that. But you’re still a darned cute one.”

“Woman, you are hellbent on ruining my good reputation.”

“I’m only hellbent on spoiling you for as long as I possibly can.”

He purred and kissed her again, hoping she meant it.

“Sorry for the delay. My voicemail is crammed with messages. How are we tonight?”

“Wonderful, although it would have been nice to have been forewarned about your little cooking trick, you big creep.”

He didn’t react.

“Seriously, Godric. It’s creepy!”

He shrugged. “It is meant as a compliment. Plus, it is a win-win situation for all – the middle course of action leading all parties to a happy conclusion. Speaking of which, I think you wanted to tell us your position on other matters.”

She shook her head. “Are you all such sly politicians?”

He gave a sidelong smile and took a seat opposite to Eric.

“It’s simple enough. Ultimately, it was an easy decision. I’m sorry if I made it overly difficult last night. I want to try to pop this psychic thing open with Godric’s additional help. If it’s my gift, I want to claim it. If I don’t, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”

She sat at the head of the table, the two vampires listening intently. Suddenly the witch’s words came back to her and she smiled realizing their hidden irony: she had to master her ‘demons.’

She took their hands into hers. “If we do this, we are all going to stick together. We’re going to be patient and forgiving of each other since we know this is uncharted territory for all of us. And by god if we aren’t going to take down every last one of these freaks that threaten us and ours.”

Eric literally fell on her and began kissing her voraciously, fisting his hands through what was until then her nicely done up hair.

“My valkyrie, my shield maiden! Gods, when you speak like that…”

She kissed him repeatedly, all the while pushing him back into his chair.

“Eric, I take it that means you are in agreement. Godric, you still on board?”

He nodded.

“Okay. So, um, how should we do this…” Her heart rate jumped nervously and she knew the two heard it.

In a blur Godric was at Eric’s side, whispering rapidly into his ear, too low for human ears. He squeezed his shoulders and gave him a slap on the bicep before strolling calmly to the bedroom. Eric got up and motioned for her to follow.

“Eric, I love you so very, very much. You know that, right?”

“I do. And I love you too, my heart.”

♦♦♦

Lillian was surprised to find the room lit by the dancing light from a dozen candles. She smelled the familiar aroma of Godric’s handblended bath oil. The man in question looked about with a forlorn expression. “I lament that we must do this here, like this.”

“Master is a bit traditional when it comes to the blood, you see.” Eric stood behind her and rubbed the sides of her arms in an attempt to calm her. Her pulse fluttered dangerously fast.

För att göra det bra, vi borde åtminstone vara på Trädkojan och inte i det här skithĺl,” Godric grumbled. [To do this well we should at least be at the Treehouse and not in this shithole.]

Nästa gång…” Eric murmured. [Next time…]

Godric gathered Lillian’s hands in his, careful not to squeeze the massive bruises on her right one. “I haven’t offered my blood to a human in a very, very long time, Lillian.”

She searched for the right words. “I am honored by your gift, Godric, and I offer you my own in exchange.”

He kissed her knuckles lightly and let go of her.  With one arm, he pulled the shirt off his back, revealing the darkly inked tattoos that stood in such contrast to the pearlescent white of his preternatural skin. At the side of the bed, he opened a long wooden box on the nightstand and withdrew a short dagger of exceptionally fine quality. The marbling in its narrow blade resembled Damascus steel, but it shimmered in an unnatural way, almost as if it were a trick of the light. The knife was topped by a twisting serpentine crossguard and a hilt which bore elaborate Celtic tracery.Oathing dagger

Often times Godric had a way of making himself appear unassuming – he moved deliberately, avoided eye contact with others, and always placed himself in unobtrusive positions in a room. If there was any question as to whether this was an act meant to draw attention away from the enormity of his true power, any such confusion was now cleared up entirely. Even as he knelt casually on the edge of the bed in front of them, he radiated dominion and command over everything in his presence. Even Eric stood submissively.

“Come here.” Godric pulled Lillian close. His nostrils flared as he inhaled her scent in deeply. She felt his cool breath tickle her neck and she felt the cold point of a fang graze her jaw. She couldn’t help but eye the blade sitting next to him.

He rested his forehead against hers. “We trust each other,” he said softly, echoing his words from the night before last. She nodded. Slowly, he twirled her around so that she was pressed against his chest facing Eric.

Taking the blade in hand, he made a quick cut to his own wrist and offered it to his child, who bowed humbly and drank. She felt Godric shiver against her.

“Now,” Godric said in Lillian’s ear. “Feed your bonded. You are his as he is yours.” Eric went to her and nuzzled her face, exposing her neck. Kissing the spot just next to her pulse point, he bit gently, the sting quickly displaced by his cool lips. He didn’t draw at the wound, but rather let her pulse gently coat his tongue. He half moaned, half growled at the taste of her, and then released her far too soon. Neither act was meant to sate his thirst, but rather dampen his possessive instincts. It wouldn’t do to have him get snappish while they were establishing the new bond.

Godric turned her back towards him and pulled her onto the bed so that she was sitting on her ankles in front of him.

“Lillian, this is no average dagger. It was forged in fae fires and is possessed of very potent magic. The bonds we enter in tonight shall be made and recorded through this.”

Don’t move, he pushed at her. As he brought the knife to her neck, every fiber of her being wanted to flinch, but his mental suggestion – not quite a compulsion – willed her into place.

Very, very slowly he scraped the edge of the blade against her neck where Eric’s unsealed bite still seeped blood. To her astonishment, she watched as the crimson drops absorbed into the blade and disappeared.

In a quick motion he suddenly drew the blade across the side of his neck. His magic blood oozed thickly down his neck.

“Take me into you now, as I have taken you.” His words made her flush hotly and she licked her lips tentatively before lapping the stream off his collarbone and up to the cut. She sucked at it once, eliciting the most sensual of gasps from him. As she swallowed the first taste of his potent life force, the world fell out from underneath her and she arched her back in orgasmic ecstasy. She grabbed desperately at him before her body fell entirely slack. Godric held her head against his neck, lest she let go, and sank back into the thick down quilt.

Don’t stop. Take me, he whispered to her in thought.

She drew another long pull at his neck.

Bite me. Hard! she pleaded back.

He didn’t hesitate. He struck at her throat, driving his fangs in far deeper than necessary. She cried out in pleasure, burbling through the sweet nectar on her lips. The sound and taste of her sent him reeling in his own bliss. In that watershed moment a flood of their thoughts, images, and passions rushed out, setting the blood bond in place. Eric picked up the oathing dagger. He pulled the blade through the palm of his hand and tightened his fist over it, squeezing heavy drops of blood onto it. It was done. They were all three bonded by blood. Kissing the hilt, he tucked the knife back into its box.

♦♦♦

For a seeming eternity they all three lay there in silence, arms and legs threaded together. The ties between them thrummed, crystal clear. Eric nosed the sensitive spot behind Lillian’s ear, breathing a prayer of thanks to the goddess Frigg for granting them safe passage through this test. Nothing felt out of place or disrupted. Remarkably, they all felt awash in a perfect calm and sense of completeness.

“I never knew that it could be like this,” she spoke quietly. “I feel like there is an invisible cord drawn through me connecting you two. I barely have words to describe it. It’s as if…as if there’s a new color in the world.”

Pam interrupted their reverie with a light rap on the door. “Eric, if you’re done playing maker-maker-booty-shaker in there, we do have business to attend to.”

Eric groaned. Forcing himself up, he hopped on top of Lillian and began covering her with a hundred furious, tickling kisses, jostling the whole bed raucously. “Muah! Muah! Muah!” he smooched loudly. “I’ll be back soon, lover!” His happiness vibrated through her. He lunged over and attacked his maker with an equally rowdy set of smooches. Godric shoved his face away, laughing. Bounding out the door, he swung Pam around in a circle and chomped playfully at her neck with a “Raararararh!” She managed to land a single good whack on him before he set her down and dashed off in a blur. She stood in the hallway, arms crossed, and shook her head in feigned annoyance, her smile barely hidden in a smirk.

Eric popped back and pointed at Lillian, “Don’t get too carried away while I’m gone!” He shifted his admonishing finger to Godric. “No fucking without me!” He grabbed his suit jacket off the dresser. “Call me when you hear from Montréal, Goh.” He blew them a kiss and bounced back down the hallway.

“C’mon Pammy, let’s go make war!”

“He’s like a kid on Christmas.”

“You have no idea.”

Lillian smiled. “He’s the best.”

“I know,” Godric replied, pulling her close. “How do you feel?”

She sighed. “I can finally relax around you. I always felt so off-kilter and tightly wound before – I don’t think whatever magic animates Eric’s blood was happy being walled off from you. It’s such a relief to feel balanced now.”

“We had hoped that would be the case.”

“Thank you, Godric. For risking so much and for being patient while I stumble over all my human hang-ups.”

“You make it easy.”

They lay there for the longest time simply staring at each other as though they were really seeing each other clearly for the first time. It was so strange that everything inside this package of a person she now felt reverberating in herself. Lillian let her fingertips wander lightly over him, committing to memory the sweep of his cheekbone, the peak of his adam’s apple, the thick veins crisscrossing his muscular arms, the lines of his hard abdomen, the downy curls of hair trailing towards his sex. Godric lay unmoving, allowing these little explorations of his body.

“Tell me, why did you pick that song the other night at the cafe?” she asked randomly.

“Tell me why you wanted me to bite you so hard?”

She blushed, smiling. He gazed back at her, her own blood in his system giving his cheeks a ruddy hue.

“You first,” she insisted.

He contemplated for a moment. “Because I want to always be honest with you…even when I cannot quite put words to it. What about you?”

She bit her bottom lip, then answered, “Most of the time you are so confident in your powers that you just sit calmly back and dare the world to make its move. I get that it is a practiced impassivity – that you’re not really so detached. I wanted to feel you take what you wanted. I wanted to know that after all the other considerations and motivations and political gains to be reaped, at least some small part of you really just wanted to have me for me.”

“Oh, Lily…Never doubt that!”

“Yeah?” she said.

“You only need look within yourself to know the truth of my words. There’s nothing we can hide from each other now. We are each other.”

She closed her eyes to focus on the warm stirring she felt in her breast.

“My bonded,” he whispered huskily, stroking her face. He inhaled her scent deeply and brushed his lips against hers. “Let me taste you…let me taste what I desire.”

The sensation of his mouth whispering over hers was too tempting. She parted her lips and let his cool tongue find hers. The shape and flavor of his kiss was different from Eric’s, though still delicious. Feeling the heat rise off her skin, he kissed her urgently, his tongue flicking and swirling over hers in the most suggestive manner. The movement caught her off guard and she suddenly felt herself ache and flutter in need.

“Careful there,” she admonished. She disentangled herself from him and sat up to fix her disheveled hair. He tucked a tattooed arm underneath his head and watched her with a smoldering gaze.

“It’s a wonder you all get anything done what with the effects of your blood!”

“I didn’t hear you complaining. Unless I misunderstood all that moaning…”

She turned beat red and looked away sheepishly.

“Is that…No!…Are you being coy with me?”

Shrugging noncommittally, she made a run for the door. Godric beat her to it – by a long shot. She ran right into him.

“I can practically taste the pheromones rolling off your skin. Your panties…”

“Don’t be crass!”

Your panties,” he said forcefully, “are soaked with the pleasure you’ve had from me.” He spun her around and pushed her against the wall, taking in the scent off her neck and jaw. “…and I haven’t even touched you yet,” he added seductively. “No more pretending, my bonded. I can feel my blood running raw and wild through you. I’m going to make you come again right now just with a kiss…”

Lillian turned her head away and clenched her eyes shut.

Godric dropped his hands and stepped back in surprise. “Lily?”

“This isn’t right. I can’t do this to Eric!” She threw her hands over her mouth. “How could you?!”

“What is wrong?” he was genuinely shocked.

This is wrong. You’ve got me spellbound and all spun up! Eric would be…”

“Eric? Eric is pleased as punch! Like Christmas – you said yourself.”

“Not about us getting physical!”

“Lillian Choate, you astound me!” He stepped back even further, confounded, trying to gauge her. “Eric knows damn well – and you should too by now – that there’s nothing more intimate than a blood bond. Nothing! You are ours and we are yours. You’re worried about physicality? We’ve just bared our souls – mated them, bound them together! Our souls, Lillian! What is flesh and bodies to that intimacy? An afterthought! A canvas for what we share!”

Lillian took a measured breath and closed her eyes again. She was getting slammed on both ends of the bond with the men’s overexcitement. At the same time, she could feel Eric’s laser-like focus; he was working. He paused, sensing her feeling after him, then sent her a push of giddy playfulness. On the other hand, Godric’s side of the bond rippled with confusion.

“I can feel your uncertainty. You don’t even believe what you’re saying. What the hell!” she said in a panic.

“Tsk, tsk. Read the bond more carefully or else do me a favor and just ask. I’m unsure about what I should do next in order to appease you, not unsure about what I’ve just said.”

Lillian pinched between her eyes, trying to wrap her head around what was transpiring.

“We promised each other we’d stick together. I don’t want to foment jealousy from the word go. I don’t want to be the apple of discord steamrolling right between you and Eric.”

He shook his head and laughed at her. “Sure. But you’ve got it hopelessly backwards. When we discussed it, Eric wasn’t worried that he would be jealous of your attentions towards me. He thinks it bizarre that anyone wouldn’t worship the ground I walk on! You and I don’t know each other very well yet. You realize that is why Eric left us alone tonight, right? To give us a bit of time together? Just like you so thoughtfully did for us this evening…Thank you, by the way. No, darling. If anything, I was worried that I would be jealous of his devotion to you, since I’m now not only privy to his feelings but can also feel just how much you love and desire him in return. Can’t you see that?”

“Well how in unholy hell did you ever manage to accept Pam, pray tell?”

“Pamela is a blessing of a progeny! But progeny, nevertheless. She will always be subservient to Eric, and by extension me as well. You, on the other hand…You obey no one!”

“I don’t understand what you’re trying to say.” His end of the bond trembled weirdly and flattened out like it was trying to retract.

“I thought we were just getting accustomed to each other. I just wanted to please you. You don’t want it?”

It was her turn to laugh at him. Those were the very words Eric had uttered when he went from being completely cold towards her to practically licking her tonsils while doing 90mph on the highway. Vampires were clueless sometimes.

“Obviously you more than please me, Godric. I am just trying to get a sense of what the hell boundaries there are in this. I’m trying to figure out my own inhibitions and you alls as well so we’re not stomping all over each other and fucking this up from the beginning.”

“I don’t want you to feel inhibited towards me! I want…I want you to love me. I want to love you, too!”

And there it was. It was as simple as that, she realized. The flattened feeling in the bond was vulnerability. She was so used to paying attention to just how dangerous and crafty vampires could be that she gave no mind to the fact that even they could feel exposed.

She went to him and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. “I’m really sorry. I ruined our nice little moment there. I freaked out.”

The invisible cord running right through her relaxed and became fizzy.

She kissed him and rested her head on his shoulder.

“I should have realized. We’ll find our rhythm. Whatever is right for us.” He cradled her tenderly and he felt her tremble. “It’s an emotional overload to be suddenly jumbled together and you’re worn out. I drank deeply and you should eat. Why don’t you go find something sugary in the freezer? There’s a ramekin of raspberry sorbet I made…”

She perked up at this. “Yeah?”

“Mmhmm.” He kissed her forehead. “Go on. Go get a snack.” Lillian sighed heavily, realizing just how much she needed to learn in short order.

“I’ll join you in a minute.” Godric pushed at himself uncomfortably through his jeans. “I should shower and change clothes. I came like a pig! For half an hour at least!” He winked at her, lightening the mood.

Lillian rolled her eyes. “Pig indeed! You could at least act your age!”

“Hey! My body still thinks it’s 20 years old! You’re the cougar in this equation.”

“Oh my god, I’ve bound myself to two immortal perverts. And I’m barely 30, old man! May Thor save me!”

Godric let out a peel of laughter. “Watch it, sweetheart. You let Eric hear you say that and I promise he’ll give you a hammering worthy of the mighty god himself!”

Lillian did a very unladylike thing next. She offered a nicely manicured middle finger and walked out on her newly bonded mate.

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