Ch. 22: When in Rome

“God damn it, Compton! You have to be one of the stupidest vampires I’ve ever met.” Pam knelt down to the handcuffed man and made a quick series of twists with the delicate titanium tools in her latex gloved hands. Within seconds she heard a telltale click. She got the second cuff to release in even less time.

“Shall I do the honors?”

Bill grumbled a muffled ‘yes’ and she ripped the silver cuffs off rougher than necessary, taking a substantial bit of flesh with them. He screamed – a most rewarding sound for Pam considering how greatly his shenanigans had inconvenienced her. She shook off the offensive matter and pocketed them. She may very well decide to lock him right back up once they had moved to a secure location.

Following Pam up the stairwell, Bill was slightly taken aback by the bloody carnage they encountered walking through the were pack’s warehouse. It was a gruesome scene. The cement floor was littered with the wreckage of shredded and mismatched parts and there was so much blood sprayed across every surface it was hard not to slip.

When they got outside, he looked around in confusion. “Where’s the rest of your extraction team, Pam?”

“You’re looking at your ‘extraction team,’ you idiot.”

“Where’s Eric?”

She snorted in laughter. “Where’s Eric, your ladyship, you mean. You don’t seriously believe that Eric will ever lift a finger again to help you after you openly threatened his maker and their bonded, do you?”

If he was pale from the silvering and starvation, he had blanched to an even paler shade now. Had Pam single-handedly just taken out what looked from the remains to be about five or six weres? With no weapon but her fangs and bare hands? He’d heard the commotion and it had lasted no more than a minute. If so, the diminutive blond was frighteningly lethal for her age – and she was a mere 17 years older than him. But what was this? The revelation that she was now a regent had his head spinning. And that last bit? Well, she clearly must have misspoken or was purposefully trying to confuse him!

“I humbly thank you for your aid and I congratulate you on your new position, your ladyship. What area has the benefit of your wise stewardship?”

Asslicker, she thought and rolled her eyes.

“The ground beneath your mendacious little feet, Billy boy. So you had better start talking and talking fast.”

“I see. I deeply regret if I have caused you or your kin any offense, Lady Ravenscroft. I was not aware at the time I approached Godric’s human that she had been claimed, or I would never have approached her thusly. I will pay an appropriate fine if it would ease your mind.”

“Not Godric’s human. Godric and Eric’s human. Pay attention when your betters are speaking to you.” It may have only been a few days, but she had taken to being a sovereign like a duck to water. Of course, she’d learned the finer points of being an unwieldy, high-handed regent from the great master himself – her maker. “They have entered into a double blood bond and she has been formally claimed. You fucked up big time, Bambi.”

They reached the dark SUV hidden well out of sight just off the road. He smelled another were and two familiar vampires.

“Alcide, Bill Compton. Bill, this is our were diplomat Alcide Herveaux. Now get in and shut up. Sigebert and Wybert, you’re on cleanup. Leave no trace of the bodies and torch the building. Work fast.” Bill swallowed hard. Pamela had the Berts at her disposal and she left them as what? Backup? Clean-up crew? Talk about overstating the point. He seriously hoped she was helping him on behalf of Sophie-Anne or else he might not make it through tonight alive.

“Your ladyship, should we make it look like an accident?” one of the twins asked.

“No. Six weres suddenly missing and a burnt building? It won’t matter, they’ll immediately suspect us of foul play.” More like fun play. She was enjoying how strong the recent infusion of Eric’s blood had her feeling. She was also enjoying the stupid look on Compton’s face as he tried to puzzle out his own dire situation. It was unfortunate that a more peaceable agreement couldn’t be reached, as this would be yet another escalation in what was looking more and more like beginning a full-out supe war, but their attempt to broker some sort of deal was doomed right from the start. The packmaster had no intention of discussing a détente and from the outset he was skeptical of the lone wolf the vampire had brought as a mediator. Needless to say, it had been a short meeting.

Pam glared at Compton in the rear view mirror and started the vehicle.

The car was deadly silent save for the sounds of Alcide’s breathing and occasional fidgeting. Bill wondered whether Alcide were similarly in trouble for failing to negotiate a deal with the Minnesota pack. His large, hulking figure did nothing to calm Bill. It was a tense 15 minutes before they saw an orange glow begin to brighten above the horizon of the pine forest. Before long the Berts were back and they were headed towards downtown Duluth.

Squished uncomfortably in the backseat between the Were and Sigebert, Bill tried to answer Pam’s questions as satisfactorily as possible.

“What the hell is wrong with you? Did your maker feed you dead blood as a newborn or what? Why are you here and how did you get caught?”

“I…I came of my own accord! I had hoped to reach across the table, so to speak, and garner some agreement with the pack. I thought perhaps Sophie-Anne would reward me.”

“With what?”

“A higher position. Presently, I am but a procurer.”

“No, presently you are in deep shit and live at my discretion alone. You thought she’d support your claim over the territory. Wanting to advance yourself to such a station without the knowledge of your regent? That smacks of treason, Bilbo. Sophie-Anne will not be pleased.”

“I swear! I merely thought I could advance our kind’s cause and gain the favor of my queen!”

“How could you allow yourself to be bested by a few dogs? You’ve done nothing but besmirch the word vampire. Pathetic.”

“They swarmed at me! Please, your majesty, have mercy!”

“Mercy? Sorry, my maker must have forgotten to teach me that one.”

♦♦♦

Eric was stretched out on the couch reading an old, leather bound book. He was scouring one of his journals for details about the last supe war he’d been involved in. Contrary to popular belief, though it was true their memories had near perfect recollection, a vampire’s perspective could evolve and it was useful to look back at how he’d framed events at the time. It wasn’t long after he’d been turned that Godric encouraged him to keep a diary of sorts (after he taught him to read and write, of course). He suspected it was because his making had been a profound, life-changing event for Godric himself. The near feral Celt known as Death was slowly transforming as he instructed his progeny. As he worked tirelessly to strip off Eric’s humanity layer by layer to ensure his survival, his child’s hesitation and resistance to certain ideas drew him back into the world in a way he had not been for a very, very long time.

Eric was so ensconced in his old writings that he didn’t register that the house phone line was ringing. In the kitchen, Lillian was doing damage control on yet another massive pile of Godric’s dirty pots and pans. She figured since he went through the trouble of playing personal chef for her, she could at least clean up the aftermath. Every time he set foot in there he somehow managed to make a colossal disaster of things.

The persistent ringing phone was grating on her nerves. She wasn’t sure whether she should answer it, but finally she wiped her hands off on a dishtowel and picked it up.

“Hello?”

“Well, hello cupcake.”

“Pamela! It’s so good to hear from you. How are things?”

“As expected. I take it you’ve been enjoying yourself?”

Lillian turned beet red. Of course Pam would know when Eric was happy and pleasured. He had been both lately. A lot.

“Uh, you could say that.”

She cackled. “Good. Where is he?”

“He should be here, hold on.”

She found him in the living room, fixated on a crumbling manuscript. He was splayed out and barefoot, clad in only jeans, with his long hair swooped messily over to one side. She simply loved seeing him like this – relaxed in his own space, his usual public façade of authority and fearsomeness momentarily let down.

“Eric?”

“Hmm…”

“Phone.”

“Huh?”

“It’s Pam.”

“Oh. Sorry, I was concentrating.” He took the handset. “Hello my lovely regent. What’s the word?”

Lillian glanced at the book he’d set down. She didn’t recognize the script whatsoever. It almost looked like cuneiform, but some of the characters were decidedly more like Sanskrit whilst others were runic. What the hell was she looking at?

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Eric groaned. “Lila, get Goh?” She had to admit he was trying. That nearly sounded like a request rather than an order.

“Sure, lover.”

Outside the sliding glass door, she called to Godric from the balcony. Down below, his hard body slipped effortlessly through the water in the lap pool. He swirled onto his back, the moon and floodlights glistening on his beautiful, wet form. She had no idea how in the hell she’d gotten so lucky. She had the affection and attentions of not one but two of the most exquisite beings she’d ever encountered. If you’d asked her a couple months ago, she would have laughed and said such a thing was impossible. She was out of her mind in love with them, each so singular and unique, yet so complementary. If karma existed, she must have done some seriously good things in a former life to deserve these two.

“Eric’s on the phone with Pam. It doesn’t sound good.”

In a single, graceful movement, he jumped out of the pool and when she blinked, he was suddenly right in front of her, dripping wet and looking good enough to eat. He planted a searing kiss on her mouth and sauntered through the hall to Eric.

“I’m putting you on speaker. Go on.”

“The Pack has no interest in diplomacy – something about an oil pipeline and disrupted elk herd migration. They’ve lost their hunting grounds in the north and they’re pissed, plus you were right about Greysolon. Their folklore includes a story where they trick of wolf killer into becoming a ‘pale demon.’ Eric, they will not negotiate. I also had to take out six wolves to free Compton. He claims he took it upon himself to try and broker peace for a reward, but I’m still working on him. Do you want me to kill him?”

“No, let’s re-evaluate once you’re done with him. We need to keep Sophie-Anne happy. What about the rest of your subjects?”

“I’ve already had to deliver the true death to two of Greysolon’s children. They were unmanageable. As far as I have assessed, there’s not a single vampire in the area over 50, maybe 60 years old, and most are newborns. It’s chaos.”

“You’ve issued an edict?”

“Yes. All but the original missing younglings are now within the compound on lockdown.”

“And the human police?” Eric pressed.

“I’ve already begun a glamouring campaign to close down the missing persons investigations, but I need a few more reliable people to help with the work. The Dakotas can’t spare anyone, but Chicago finally returned my call last night. Michael promises to send some people. He sounded relieved that we’re taking control of the situation.”

This was one point that still angered Godric. “What’s his excuse for doing nothing?”

He and the Italian vampire had briefly crossed paths in Rome (when ‘Michael’ was better known as the master painter Michaelangelo da Caravaggio), but they fell out badly over his involvement in the Counter-Reformation. Just as well. Though it tickled Godric to no end to pose for Christian paintings – he very much enjoyed knowing popes and nuns were gazing adoringly at the face of an undead monster and not John the Baptist – he always preferred Van Dyck’s portrayal of him better. Plus, Michael really was an argumentative, bellicose asshole.

John in the Wilderness

Caravaggio’s John the Baptist

Saint-John-the-Baptist-in-the-Wilderness (Van Dyck)

Van Dyck’s John the Baptist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Michael claimed to have too much on his plate at the moment. That’s where a good half of the population here has gone for the time being.”

“And you believe this?” Godric inquired, partly to test her.

“Of course not, Grandsire. It is a half truth. What do you suspect?”

“He’s being a selfish shit. Tell me, was he with anyone?”

“I heard others in the background, but I do not know who.”

Godric was instantly on his cell phone and pacing down the hall.

Dang, Lillian thought, he makes even the simple towel around his waist look good.

Staring after the hard white curve of the terry cloth wrapped across his butt, she suddenly had that funny, constricted feeling in her vision and an image of a ship cutting through high, rolling seas popped into her head. It was all she saw and she had no idea what it meant.

Eric and Pam continued discussing the matters at hand. He expressed disappointment that Alcide hadn’t been more useful, but he wouldn’t punish him for what wasn’t his fault. Of course he wouldn’t release him from his debt, either. Pam openly wondered whether it did not make sense to kill Greysolon’s hoard of progeny, but Eric thought such a massacre would lead to political blowback.

Lillian wasn’t sure whether it was her place to interrupt, but a thought occurred to her. “Can’t you start something similar to a foster care program? Pair up the younglings with older, more responsible vampires?”

“It is Greysolon’s responsibility to raise his progeny and his alone. We don’t run into this problem very often!”

Eric knitted his brow. It was a good idea, but it would go over with Godric like a lead balloon. He didn’t share Lillian’s 21st century liberal sensibilities in quite the same way. “Pam, she might be onto something if – and that’s a big if – it is done correctly and under the strictest of vetting process. Evaluate each of the youngling’s talents, include anything of note, however mundane. Find out what they like to do or what types of work they might be interested in. Perhaps we can offer them out if they can be of use and we can find good matches.”

“But he hasn’t released any of them! I know I wouldn’t take on some wild, untrained child still tethered to their maker, let alone turn my back on one.”

“It’s like fostering a puppy,” Lillian tried to explain. “Sometimes people like to try out being a dog owner without the hard commitment of it and they get the benefit of the companionship and the satisfaction of being an alpha whilst knowing the dog will go on its way in due time. Sometimes they even want to keep it permanently.”

Pam found her analogy preposterously funny. “I’ll be sure to share that will Alcide. He’ll love it!”

Eric cut her hysterics off. Lillian’s last point was exactly where the problem lay. “We’ll draw up contracts laying out their rights and duties in no uncertain terms. I’ll talk to Cataliades. He should be able to outline the legal conditions for such an arrangement – the hard limits of the foster maker’s authority over the foster progeny, the extent to which they can be legally held responsible for the child’s actions, very careful delimitation of the child’s service requirements to the foster maker, etcetera. It will work as a short term solution, as long as Greysolon doesn’t try calling them for aid.” He hadn’t thus far, thank the gods. Apart from his extremely weakened state in his makeshift jail, Eric assumed he was only calling to his eldest children and his maker. What use could his army of unskilled idiot children be?

As they were wrapping up the call, they heard Godric’s voice raise in the other sitting room. He rarely spoke much above a whisper. The undeniable power that emanated from his tone was palpable in the house. It crackled through the air like an enveloping static electricity. Lillian actually felt herself cower.

“Amadeo, do not even consider attempting to lie to me!” he seethed. “You tell that useless Milanese dreg to get his cock out of you and his ass out of bed and start doing his job before I drag him out and teach him a thing or two about honoring one’s duties. Am I understood?!”

There was a pause.

“You speak to me like that ever again and your life is forfeit, ” he hissed. “You both have been warned. I will not repeat myself.” Click.

Eric leaned back over the phone. “Get all that Pam? Amadeo is shacked up again with Michael. Those two idiots are the literal definition of ‘dicking around.'”

“Roger that, master. I’ll confirm when Michael sends his people.” she replied from the other end of the line. He told her to be in touch and hung up.

Godric calmly sat back down like nothing had ever happened.

“Uh, dare I even ask?” Lillian wondered.

Eric tried to appease her curiosity by obliquely stating that Godric had a “complicated” relationship with Italy and its inhabitants.

“I’ll say.” There was something very significant in his past that they both carefully danced around. She didn’t harp on it, yet she also felt at any moment she’d say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question and upset him – like the night she’d mistakenly asked about his maker. Italian civilization had probably barely gotten off the ground when Godric was turned, but it made her wonder if there was a connection.

“Amadeo is a troublemaker and a fool. I’d have ended him long ago if I’d known what a pain in the ass he’d become. See, Eric? This is again why mercy is useless to a vampire; spare someone today and he’ll turn on you tomorrow. Now he’s amassed too many friends in high places for me to simply kill him on a whim and I wish neither to spend time or energy plotting the death of such an insignificant blip of a vampire.” Lillian raised her eyebrows. He was positively venomous towards this fellow. Angry Godric – and she sensed this annoyance was barely the tip of the iceberg – was one scary enemy.

“Who is Michael?”

“All you need to know is that he’s now the regent of Greater Chicagoland, which in reality includes Wisconsin and a good chunk of Illinois.”

“I don’t know why you all don’t just use the U.S. state lines. Wouldn’t that simplify things?” She was trying to distract him so he could calm down. Eric’s amusement sung freely across their bond.

“My dear, they are lines drawn on maps and chosen through human land grant deeds and such. Old world vampires began migrating to North America at the same time as the humans. Our boundaries fell according to our histories, not theirs.”

“I see. Was there not vampirism here before?”

“Indeed, there was. There were few places it hadn’t reached, even back then.”

That was unfortunate to hear. “So you colonized the Native Americans, too. They got screwed as both humans and vampires.”

“Not at all. Quite a few still rule their territories. It was very young vampires who wished to escape Europe where the power structures have long been firmly established and they were under constant scrutiny. It was an exciting time for many and they were happy to live more freely. Many of the leaders here were far more egalitarian towards their subjects that the iron fists that ruled the old world. A few even lived openly among humans – their beliefs about the otherworldly and the interdependence of all things accommodated a place for vampires to exist. But then the European humans really began to expand west. The world is wont to change rapidly sometimes.”

“Hmm. Speaking of expansion, I had a vision of a ship. A big wooden ship with a high, curling bow that cut across the high seas.”

“Viking?” Eric perked up, curling a long leg under him in excitement.

“I think so. It had a stunning white sail in a diamond pattern and all the shields and oars. Didn’t Leif Erikson find North America at the turn of the first millennium?”

“Yes,” they answered in unison.

“Eric…uh…that wasn’t you or a…a human son…by any chance, was it?”

He laughed heartily. “No, lover, that was a different Eric’s son. Vampires don’t know all the famous people or only do legendary things.” He ignored the old familiar dull pang as he thought involuntarily of his eldest boy, Thorson. “Besides, that family was a bunch of murdering pirates. They lacked fame and honor, each and every one.”

“Meaning?”

“Leif Ericson was Eric the Red’s son, a renowned and unrepentant murderer as was his father before him. They only discovered new lands because they were unwelcome everywhere else.” He laughed again. “But that was when, Goðrìk?” Just thinking about those times, he lapsed into his Norse accent. She realized this was more accurately reflected where the nickname “Goh” derived. The beautiful name rolling of his tongue sounded like ‘Goh-dther-eek,’ not the harsh ‘Gawd-rick’ way American English speakers made it sound.

“You were just rounding your 250th birthday. We were…”

“In Normandy.”

“Yes.”

“Slowly working our way south.”

A little frown curled at just the edge of Godric’s mouth.

“Gosh, so wait. If Leif Erikson was landing on the American coast around 1000AD and you were already 250…” The quick math surprised her. “What the hell! You both always round your ages down! You were turned around 750 AD and Godric a thousand years or so before that, right? 750BC!?” The sheer expanse of time was stupefying.

“Probably about right.”

“That is so crazy. What were you doing then in Normandy?” She was trying to be tactful, but it was difficult to keep it reigned in.

“Lily, I can honestly say it’s a long story.”

She reached over from her place on the couch to stroke Godric’s leg. “It’s only ever a long story with the two of you. I’m sorry, I’m being nosy. I’ll shut up.”

Eric was about to change the subject, but Godric held a hand up and sighed in resignation.

“Godric…” Eric growled in warning.

Whether it was Lillian’s persistence or part of her power, they were unsure, but she drew secrets out of people in a way he’d rarely witnessed. She simply made people want to confide in her.

“In a nutshell? I despised the Romans. Republic, Empire. It didn’t matter.” He sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees. The air around her vibrated with that crackling energy again. Even Eric stiffened next to her.

“For a good chunk of my early life I made it a bit of… a hobby to… help…sack…Roma…on a regular basis.”

Suddenly a list of names sprung to mind – the Celts and the Gauls, then the Vandals followed by the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, and finally…

“The Normans…” she blurted out. The Normans sacked Rome in a notoriously brutal fashion in 1084. The city burned for days and many people died or fled.

He nodded.

“Oh my god.” was all she said.

Then she said something that utterly took him by surprise.

“So, were you also in on the sacking in 1500s?”

He cocked his head at her, taken aback by her casual acceptance of his deadly nature. “You are a very singular human being, my bonded.”

“You said you ‘helped sack,’ not that you sacked or led sieges. You always choose your words precisely, which means you were always on the other team’s side. They were resisting Roman imperial domination in one form or another.” She paused, not sure if she dared say it out loud. “You wanted to undermine their authority.”

Eric gave his maker a wary look, but he continued. “Indeed. The Romans were a scourge to the peoples of the world in those days. They sought only to dominate and bend others to their use in a way I had not seen before, not even under Alexander the Great’s expansion. Then the spread of Christianity happened and it got even worse.”

“Be thankful it did or I wouldn’t be sitting here,” Eric pointed out, trying to make himself the center of attention. “He came to my neck of the woods to get away from it.”

“You must have been really fucking bummed out by global capitalism.”

Godric let out a weak laugh. “We saw it coming. Why do you think Eric’s so absurdly rich? But to answer your question, no, my sacking days were done after that last one. I was a maker by then and I could not risk Eric in my silly vendettas.”

“He got hurt, didn’t he.”

“Yes, very severely.”

“Dummy,” she teased, trying not to think about a world without Eric Northman. The very thought suffocated her.

Ever the warrior, Eric shrugged. “Everything Godric did back then taught me something critical. He’s still lecturing me. I resisted at first…”

“For about two seconds,” Godric added.

“I recall I stood my ground longer than that. But yes, I quickly realized there was a lesson to be learned in everything he showed me or forced me to do. ‘Twas but a scratch,'” he chuckled, citing the old Monty Python sketch where a soldier makes light of catastrophic wounds.

“Oh god! You lost a limb?!”

“On the money as usual, Professor. Those were a shitty few months.”

“Lily,” Godric wanted to steer their conversation away from his dark past and consider their future. “What do you think the ship means?”

“I don’t know. It was the ship that came.”

The two vampires looked at each other.

“You’re positive it was Viking?” Eric wondered. “The sail sounds right. The diamond pattern would have been stronger for long distance sea-faring.”

“Yeah. I’ve seen pictures of the boat in Oslo. It had the same bow and stern.”

Godric pointed out that it was significant that she understood her vision as being in the past.

“Am I just getting an echo? Or is this something from the past that is important for the future?”

“My guess is the latter,” the Celt offered.

Lillian chewed her cheek and pondered it. “I can’t explain how I know, but the ship was sailing toward me, as in America.”

“I didn’t come to the Americas until much later. Godric? You knew they existed.”

“Wait, what? How? Why didn’t you tell anyone?!”

“I can fly, remember? I didn’t tell because I had no relationship with humans to speak of and it’s better to not interfere too much with human culture.”

“Says the one that sacked Rome every 100 years.”

“Touché, ma chere. But think of it this way: we try not to cause stampedes among our cattle.

“Nice, Godric. Really fucking nice.”

Eric gave his maker a strained stare. Here he was trying to keep shifting the focus of this dangerously meandering conversation towards himself, towards anything other than where it kept going, and Godric was dropping not so subtle invitations towards that. He shuddered.

“The simple fact is that if our food moves out, we have to move too. If elders start relocating permanently our territories get messed up. Wars break out. Vampires die. I get called in to fix everybody’s shit. It gets exhausting. That’s why so few elders moved out of Europe in the 16th century.”

Min alskäre, your vision? Let’s focus on that.”

“Jeez, I dunno. Did Leif Ericson get turned?”

“No. As far as I know, I’m the only undead Viking man left. There are a couple women still knocking around. You should think about your dream more symbolically anyways.”

“Well why does it matter than Vikings came to North Ameri…oh. Oh!” She hit her forehead with her palm. “They were in Canada!”

“That’s where these weres are coming from.”

“Exactly! Silly me. The Vikings came and met with the first peoples, lived among them more or less peacefully, right? They remember Greysolon in their myths, maybe they also remember the tall blond people. Or a vampire that lived along the Canadian coastline then? You and that vampire must be the ones to go to negotiate with the wolves, they might just listen to you. The ship that came…must come again.”

“They probably aren’t even descended from the same groups of people – the distance between the Atlantic coast and the Great Lakes area is pretty massive, Lily.”

“Master is right. Plus Greysolon’s interaction with them was much more recently. I doubt there’s any oral tradition of the Vikings left, if ever they even had one.”

“Okay, well maybe that is even better. Hell, you can lie. Say you were here back then. Make it up, but show them that you care about their problems. Show them that vampires care just as much as they do about territorial stability…”

The words hung in her mouth and suddenly the odd pieces of their discussion knit together. She furrowed her brow.

“Oh my god! That’s it,” she whispered, almost involuntarily. She turned to Godric, her eyes wide. “You weren’t so interested in sticking it to the Roman humans. You were trying to destabilize the Roman vampire territory by running the humans out!”

Before she could recognize the sickening wave of every horrific and terrifying emotion in existence crash down on their blood bond, a large white hand clapped over her mouth before she could say any more. Eric spun her around hard to face him and he growled and was shaking violently at the same time.

In tremendous fear, it is strange the details one can fixate upon. Lillian realized Eric had instinctively started breathing. He was breathing so hard his nostrils were flaring.

NO,” was all he managed to snarl at her. “No,” he repeated.

Lillian was nearly about to faint, vomit, or both. What the fuck had she done?! Her shoulders were clapped in Eric’s iron grip so she awkwardly twisted back her head to see Godric. He sat, unmoving, staring down at his folded hands with heavy lidded eyes fringed in those long, dark lashes.

“Why must you push? Why, Lila? ” Eric demanded incoherently. “War with weres and fucking ancient mad vampires and you push! You push and you push and you push! WHY!?” He shook her hard with each word.

“Your strength, Eric! Release her.” Eric threw his hands up in the air.

“Master…”

“Eric, it’s okay. She is our bonded. I want to tell her.”

Eric spat out a stream of furious Swedish then shoved a long thick, threatening finger in her face. His balled fist was trembling and his razor sharp fangs were fully drawn down.

“You will listen to him and you will not speak. You will not interrupt. You will not ask questions. And you will never bring this up again. NEVER. Am I clear?”

She nodded vigorously through her silent sobbing. She was still too stunned and physically ill from the sick emotions tearing through the blood bond to even speak.”

“You will obey me or I will kill you.”

“Eric!” Godric yelled at him, pulling his volatile child back from the fragile human. He struggled forward and got within inches of her face. “And you will fix the fucking mess you’ve made of him when it is done.”

With that, he wretched out of Godric’s grasp, sped out to the balcony, and shot off into the night sky.

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