Chapter 55 – Alhambra
August 2, 2004
The plane flew once over Felipe’s palace before prepping for landing. The palace where he held court and had dealings with Vampires was located off the Vegas strip. His human interactions were mostly dealt with at Torre Agbar – usually only two nights per week. Sookie’s eyes grew wide as she peered through the private airplane window at the palace below. “He built a replica of Alhambra? Was Felipe a Muslim before he was turned?”
“It’s my understanding that he selected this architecture for it’s beauty and standing in the world. This is a bit smaller in scale but otherwise accurate. It is beautiful and was highlighted in Vampire Monthly about a year back as one of the top 10 vampire palaces.”
“The original is built into a hill. I guess he had to make accommodations for that since it’s relatively flat here.”
“Yes, he did. The architect that worked with Felipe was interviewed for the article I read. I’ll see if I can find you a copy.”
They were doing their best to ignore the fact that Lorena, Victor’s agent, was escorting them to Felipe – with several older vampires as guards. Sookie hadn’t made eye contact or so much as glanced at the bitch since they got on the flight allowing Eric to handle all talking. This was good practice anyway. Once she was in court, she would be seen and not heard. At least she kept telling herself that over and over again. Unfortunately, Lorena decided to add to their private conversation. “How would a stupid cow like you even know about such things?” Sookie remained silent. She really didn’t want to engage in conversation with her captor from several months ago, but Lorena insisted. “Answer me human.”
Making the sign for obey, Eric quickly told Sookie to answer Lorena. “I read about it.”
“You read? Was it a cartoon?”
“It was Robert Irwin’s The Alhambra,” she simply replied. When the vampire didn’t respond after a moment, Sookie surmised their ‘titillating conversation’ to be over. Considering each interaction she had without emotion a win, Sookie imagined patting herself on her back for succeeding. ‘One interaction down about a million more to go before Eric can free me.’ She knew Eric was already working on his army. Godric was taking the lead with Stan as their movements wouldn’t be as watched as Eric’s, but he still had ways of staying on top of the situation. So far they had Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, California (with Oregon and Washington as part of Benito’s territory), Florida (with Georgia and the Carolina’s as part of Antonia’s territory) and dozens of vampires in Louisiana who had pledged fealty to Felipe and in turn, contacted Northman via secret channels to promise support when the time came. Godric had committed to contacting Ekatarina Ivkin, the acting Queen of the Great Lakes region in the next few days as well. Yes, they were building an army; they just needed to plan.
Because she didn’t want to risk any further opportunities for Lorena to chat with them, she made the sign for quiet to Eric and they just snuggled in for the landing. Sookie glanced at her left hand for about the hundredth time since they left the house at sunset. It was hard to not see her engagement and wedding bands from Eric, but they decided that Felipe would take issue with the jewelry. In their place, Sookie wore a simple ruby ring that Eric purchased for her. She left her charm bracelet at home as well, and that hurt almost as much as taking off the rings.
Potts observed Sookie from across the plane where she was sitting with Alcide. Both of them were unconcerned about their fates once they got to the palace. Alcide, as a Packmaster carried significant protection and that would include Potts as his mate. They were both worried instead, for Sookie. At one point they talked about the possibility that Potts would be able to remain in Vegas with Sookie, but neither mentioned this to anyone. It would be better if that was a surprise for Sookie, rather than a disappointment.
Potts recalled all the information they’d taken in the past few days. While Sookie healed, Lorena was all too happy to tell Eric that he would be surrendering his assets to Felipe, being punished for the delay, then returning to run his area. Tributes would be scrutinized so he would have no opportunity to allow his businesses to suffer any losses. His Sheriff dealings would also be analyzed by Victor and any missteps would be dealt with immediately. As part of her continued gloating, she also informed Eric that she would be taking over Area 4, right next to Eric so she would be able to drop in and help Victor monitor the Viking. The final blow was when Lorena informed Eric that Sookie wouldn’t have access to a phone and their first blood exchange wouldn’t be for three weeks. For a blood bonded pair, that was a long time. The only benefit was they could use bonding sickness as an excuse for morning sickness. Internally, he seethed, but he kept his mouth shut since at that time, Felipe’s goons were still in possession of his child. In fact, it wasn’t until Sookie and Eric were at the private airfield that a very weak Pam was released into Thalia’s care. Sookie could only look at Pam while Thalia carried her to the car to express her feelings to her best friend; no contact had been permitted before they were forced onto the plane.
The sound of the landing gear jarred Potts out of her recollections and she looked to her friend struggling to keep her emotions together as they landed in Vegas.
Sookie’s terror rose as the plane touched down. Normally, her fear was the actual landing; today it was about her next steps. An oversized limo met them when they disembarked and they boarded quietly. It was only minutes now since Felipe’s property included the airfield. Normally a student of the world around her, Sookie ignored the gardens and the architecture outside the car window, focusing inwardly only in an attempt to keep her composure. She welcomed every wave of calm Eric sent her. She wanted to ask how he had calm to send; he was facing his own punishment. Earning another mental pat on the back, she kept her thoughts to herself. ‘Two down . . .’.
As they approached the main entrance, Lorena barked out the orders. “Eric, you will lead your three assets into court. Full protocol is expected. You will also be required to pledge your fealty at this time, then you will be taken for punishment. You might want to say your goodbyes now.” She cackled as she opened the door and waited for them to exit.
Sookie and Eric ignored her cackles. They’d said goodbye at the farmhouse, including a lengthy blood exchange, and agreed to simply part when Felipe ordered it. Showing the pain and emotion would only satisfy the vampires at court. Sookie was determined to follow through with the plan so she took her thoughts even further inward to keep the emotions at bay. Eric could feel her suppression of emotions and he hated it. While he knew why she was doing it, the feelings from her were the same as her deep depression back in the fall. Back then, she’d gone into herself for only about 2 weeks. The duration of her stay here in Vegas was going to be longer – much longer and he worried about getting Sookie back – both body AND mind when it was all over. At the same time, he was proud of her doing what needed to be done to survive. He’d heard her repeating that phrase to herself many times as they prepared for the trip and he knew it was a key mantra for her strength.
The doors to the throne room opened and Eric walked in with Potts, Alcide and Sookie behind him. Maintaining as much protection as possible, Alcide and Potts flanked Sookie. When they reached the throne, Eric moved to his knees in a standard kneel: His back and legs were straight, he was bent only at the knee. For Alcide, he was able to remain standing as a Packmaster, that was not so for the ladies. Sookie and Potts quickly moved into a full submission, starting with a kneel; buttocks resting on their heels and lowering their heads to the floor. Sookie HATED it but knew this was her life for now. Eric felt something akin to the urge to vomit, and with Sookie’s morning sickness and their bond, he knew how that felt. He remained steady though until Felipe released him and called to the ‘slaves’ to lift their heads. As per protocol, they would remain on their knees in a resting type kneel until they were told otherwise.
“I would welcome you to my kingdom, but as you are several days late, the opportunity to be welcomed is over.” His face was purely evil as he spoke to the group. This was one time Eric was pleased that Sookie was in a pet position with her face down. Seeing Felipe’s expression would only add to her worries. He knew nothing good was going to come next. “Northman, you owe me for delaying your arrival here by 3 nights. As I cannot touch your pet, her punishment will be watching your punishment. Packmaster Herveaux, as you and your mate had agreed to travel the first night, you will not be punished. When we are done with Eric, you will escort him home.” Alcide almost snorted; as a Packmaster he couldn’t be punished anyway without a potential war, but for Sookie and Eric’s sakes, he kept that information to himself.
Felipe gestured to his side and Bill Compton moved forward with a collar and leash in his hands. “This is for your pet Northman. She will be wearing her collar at all times in the palace. Since no vampire here can touch her, you will put it on now.” They also anticipated this so Sookie simply shifted her neck to make it easier for Eric to put her in the collar and attach the leash. He felt nothing from her.
“I’ll take the leash now.” Bill stated with his hand out. Reluctantly, Eric handed over the end of the leash and watched as Bill jerked it and called for her to stand and yanked for her to follow the group as they started walking. He wanted to help her, hold her, do anything to offer her comfort but he refrained. Instead, he plotted his revenge in his head. How he would torture and kill each vampire that even looked at Sookie the wrong way. He would have vampires hanging in chains at Fangtasia for months, slowly doling out pain on a regular basis. Loyal vampires in Area 5 would be given the opportunity to exact their own justice for their Mistress as often as they wished. So lost in his thoughts as they walked, he was surprised to find himself going down the elevator to the dungeon.
The doors opened and they all stood in a large room with stone floors and a drain. Silver chains hung from the walls and the stench of blood was in the air. Eric could feel Sookie’s need to vomit so he tried to calm her as best he could. He remained stoic and stared into her eyes as he was stripped to the waist and chained to a post in the center of the room. He knew movement was happening around him, but he kept his focus on his beloved, hoping to keep her focus on his eyes and not whatever was to come next.
***ERIC’S PUNISHMENT*** It’s not detailed – but just in case you can’t handle it, skip to the end noted below.
“For my part in the takeover,” Bill started, “I have been granted the opportunity to mete out your punishment this evening. Your delaying three days was actually quite gratifying to me. You see, I get to remove one of your fingers for each day we had to wait. There is the obligatory whipping as well, and my Maker has requested permission for that. She’s much stronger and can make a more lasting impression. My being weaker is actually an advantage to pulling fingers. It will take longer and they will come off only small bits at a time. Shall we begin?” He looked to Sookie and suddenly moved to her. “You’re not kneeling. We aren’t walking, so you must be kneeling slave.”
Sookie quickly moved into position and tried to ignore the fact that she was kneeling on uneven stone at this point. Honestly, she decided she was grateful. Whatever pain Eric was going to endure wasn’t going to be easy, and maybe this feeling in her legs would help her get through it. She was feeling a bit selfish about that thought, but decided to forgive herself. She had Roo and herself to get through however long this took.
By the time Bill and Lorena had finished their ‘fun’ with Eric, Sookie had tears she couldn’t stop streaming down her face, but they’d done it – they kept their focus on each other and not the torture being delivered to Eric. While she never looked away from his gaze; he never stopped staring at her; holding her captive – almost near glamouring her to focus on his eyes. Even as Sookie heard the strike of the whip each time, as she heard the bones crunch and flesh tear, she stayed with him. They both knew it was the only way they were able to get through it – together as they did everything.
***END OF ERIC’S PUNISHMENT***
The real torture was just beginning however. When they exited the elevator, Potts, Alcide and Eric were ushered into a limo and Sookie was yanked in the other direction to find out what was next for her in this very long night. They had one last parting glance both making the sign for wish to each other.
The private plane was quiet as Eric, Potts and Alcide flew back to Shreveport. Bubba met them at the plane to drive them home and had even thought to stock the car with bagged blood to speed Eric’s healing. Eric finally spoke. “Thank you for the blood Bubba.”
“That was from Miss Adele.” That didn’t surprise anyone.
What did surprise him was seeing Gran waiting for them in the living room with Michelle and Dr. Ludwig. She stood up immediately and grabbed Eric, guiding him to Sookie’s room. There she already had pans of warm water, fresh clothes and blood ready. The only words spoken as Gran cared for him were the few times she needed help or advise from Michelle. Gran didn’t even flinch when she got to his left hand and found three fingers missing. She simply cleaned each stub and moved on.
He rested back on the bed once Gran deemed him clean enough for now. Pam, he was informed, had been cleaned, treated, fed and moved to the lower room already and Amelia was with her. “The last time I checked,” Ludwig offered, “She was in downtime healing.”
“Does she have silver poisoning?”
The grim look on Ludwig’s face told him everything before she solemnly answered “Yes. She was exposed 24X7 with no opportunity to feed. I’ve already given her the blood we took from you before you left. She’ll need more as soon as you can. I also took the liberty of calling Godric, as blood from your own line is the only way to get rid of silver poisoning. He’ll be here as soon as he can sneak away from those watching his comings and goings.”
“Understood. So you knew what to expect. I guess Alcide updated everyone?”
Ludwig continued speaking for the group. “Yes. We knew some of what happened. With prodding from Gran, Alcide also told us Sookie was with you when you were . . . punished.” As she entered the closet that lead to the downstairs chamber she informed them, “I’m going to check on Pam one more time. You’ll likely be out when I come back up. Have a good rest Eric. Michelle, can you help me?” She felt the need to give Gran and Eric a moment so she brought the nurse down with her.
Gran didn’t hesitate to ask about Sookie. “How is she?”
“She’s a shell. I’m worried.”
Standing with confidence, Gran spoke. “I know, I’m worried too but she’s going to survive Eric. She’ll have to go to that nothingness to do it. She did it when Bartlett abused her years ago and I got her back. Having a baby to care for will help.” She handed him another blood and asked. “Do you have any idea on the timing?”
“Only that I will attack Felipe AFTER I participate in something for Russell.”
“Good of her to be so clear.” Gran’s voice was sarcastic – a rarity.
For the first time in days he chuckled. “Clear isn’t in her vocabulary.”
“Neither is family.” While the Ancient Pythoness spoke mostly in riddles, Gran’s position on her ‘in-law’ was clear: she didn’t like her. At this point, Gran was just fussing around him even though all her tasks were complete. She wanted to ask more questions, but wasn’t sure how.
“Adele. You can sit with me, or know that I’m ready to rest. But your flitting around is making me dizzy.”
“Oh Eric, I’m sorry. I . . . I. Eric, do you have spies in the palace?”
“That’s why you’ve been fretting?” She shrugged her shoulders. “I do. He’s not ordinarily part of court, but he’s in the palace every evening and he is always part of the entourage that goes to the casino. Felipe goes regularly twice a week.”
“And how will you get the information? Is this spy at risk?”
“A spy is always at risk, but he is paid well and I’ve given him technology that will allow him to email me updates.”
“That’s good. I’ll be anxious for updates.” She patted him on the arm and rose. “I guess I’ll leave you to get some rest. Dawn is only about 30 minutes away.”
“Thank you Gran, for this and for helping Pam.”
“You’re no different to me than my own children, well grandbabies.”
“We know.” They embraced for a moment before Gran kissed his forehead and left to get in her own bed and cry herself to sleep. Eric heard her from across the hall and it only added to his own broken heart AND guilt for allowing this to happen.
Back in the Palace, Sookie had been taken directly to what would be her room. It was plain: a simple bed with a sheet, blanket and pillows and a chair in the corner. She had no idea if she could ask for books, or TV or any entertainment, but she didn’t mind. This plain room and ensuite bath was a huge improvement over the throne room or the dungeon. She simply rested on the bed for a while, daydreaming about Roo and Eric. She’d heard some shouting shortly after Eric left and guards were running about. At first she hoped it was the army coming to save her right away, but she could feel from the bond that Eric was flying away from her. Her hope was silly, she realized. In his weakened state, Eric wouldn’t be able to battle anyone and succeed.
A knock on her door startled her awake and she realized it was now daylight. Without a clock or watch she had no idea of the exact time. “Who is it?”
“What do you want?”
“I have food for you.” He answered aloud but thought ‘I just want to see if you’re OK and fill you in on some stuff. If you can hear me, say Enter.’
“How are you doing Mrs. Northman?”
“I survived my first night.”
He fussed to set up a table, all the while thinking to her. ‘You can’t give away anything while I talk to you. Can you do that?’
“Let me just use the bathroom while you set up that table.” She started to run for it as morning sickness reared its ugly head and she almost stopped when she heard his next thought.
‘Your bathroom has cameras.‘ He didn’t want to blurt that out – for fear she would react and they would know he was thinking to her. To Sookie’s credit; she didn’t so much as flinch. She also kept heading to the bathroom knowing she didn’t have a choice. How was she ever going to use the toilet now that she knew it was all being recorded?
As soon as Quinn heard her, he grew concerned. “Are you alright in there?”
“Yeah Quinn. I guess my hormones and morning sickness haven’t gotten the message that . . .”
“Oh, I understand. I’m sorry about your loss Mrs. Northman.” When she’d stopped her puking, Quinn offered more. ‘Mrs. Northman, you’re poker face is incredible. I don’t have much time. Last night, two prisoners escaped. We have no idea how, but you know them: Angie and Michel Finard.‘
‘Oh my God! They’ve been here? What about Harold?‘ She wondered. As if he heard her, he continued, ‘The doc is still here – for you. Maybe ’cause they knew you would be here after the miscarriage. I don’t know much else and I’m sorry to tell you all this.’ At this point she was done killing time in the bathroom with her teeth and hands so she was drying up. When she returned he continued aloud with, “It’s about noon, but I had the cook make you breakfast. I don’t know your schedule – or rather what your schedule will be. Hope that’s OK.”
“It’s fine Quinn. Thank you.”
‘Sookie, I can’t stay long, but I’ll try to be the one to bring you meals as often as I can. I’m really sorry.’
She wanted to ask him about Frannie but she refrained. Having Quinn appear to be compliant would permit him to continue feeding her information AND keep his sister safe. It was better this way. She did ask about books or anything else a human might need. “I don’t know what they will allow Mrs. Northman.”
“You can call me Sookie.”
“Sookie then. I’ll ask.”
‘They’re pissed that they can’t punish you as they do other humans. You should prepare for all requests to be denied or for them to use others to punish you. Poker face Sookie! You’ve got to keep a poker face please.’
Realizing she needed to eat for Roo, she settled down at the table and new dining chair Quinn had provided. When she lifted the lid to her meal and found scrambled eggs, she wanted to cry and throw a fit – but she was being recorded. That would show a weakness. She could imagine being told to bathe in eggs or whatever the sick fucks came up with. Instead she retreated in her mind. Today she went to the lake at the back of the property. It was daylight, but she saw Eric swimming in the water asking her to join her and play. While she lived in her imagination, she swallowed her eggs and toast.
A few hours later, another knock came to her door. This was just a regular Were who was certainly thinking, but not AT her. Still, she figured every opportunity to listen was a good one so she did. “Man she’s hot. I can’t wait to see her in the outfit I have here. Can’t wait to watch her shower and get ready either. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm. No wonder they wanted this one. She smells good too. Kinda like that Barry guy from not too long ago – but she’s much better looking.’
Sookie was sickened. She was prepared for slave outfits, but watching her private bath time? That’s just sick. She apologized mentally to Roo and told him to hold tight, Mommy was going to have to cut back on eating and drinking to limit her bathroom time. There was NO WAY she was going to do THAT on camera.
“I have your outfit for tonight. You’re to be ready by 9PM.”
“May I have a clock?”
“I can’t give you anything but the outfit. I can knock on your door at 8 or 8:30?”
“8:30 will be fine.” She scoffed in her head. ‘It’s not like I’m doing my hair for them OR showering now that I think of it.‘ “What time is it now?”
After grabbing her tray from before, he answered. “It’s 5PM. Your dinner will be brought in at about 7PM.”
“Thank you.” No need to forget manners. It’s not like HE’s personally holding her here.
‘I’d better nap for a while. My guess is the prisoners who escaped were the reason I got out of court all night. That’s probably not gonna be what happens regularly.’
A knock on the door woke her again and she figured it was dinner time. This time, Quinn just offered “It’s Quinn with your dinner.” ‘And new information.’
Using what she figured was their new keyword, she yelled, “Enter.”
“I have a big dinner for you tonight since I don’t know if you’ll get the chance to eat again.” ‘They’re taking you to Torre Agbar for some human meetings tonight. The plans were thrown off by the escape last night – you were supposed to be in court the entire night, now they have to keep the human meetings as planned.’
“Mr. Compton will be escorting you to court tonight. Please be ready by 9PM.” ‘Be on your knees in the room when he arrives. That will be your standard. They’re hoping you screw up and forget to kneel. They have punishments planned already.‘ He started towards the door. ‘Oh and, you’re also supposed to meet with Harold shortly before dawn.‘
“Thank you for dinner Quinn.”
‘Remember your Poker face.’ “I won’t see you again until tomorrow. Vampires are your guards at night.”
“Good evening then Quinn. My regards to Frannie.”
“I don’t think I’ll see her tonight, but when I do, I’ll let her know you were asking about her.”
She took that to mean Frannie was still being held. He thought just that as he walked out the door.
Her dinner smelled delicious but she was torn about eating it. In the end she figured she could get a human break during the night and use a public bathroom. Surely they weren’t all outfitted with cameras. She dove into the steak, potatoes and broccoli. They tray even had some chocolate cake which she devoured.
Now, to getting ready. She used a washcloth to clean herself up at the sink – avoiding the shower entirely and pulled out the skimpy outfit. It wasn’t too bad: a black leather bikini with studs adorning it. ‘I can handle this.’ Using the skills she learned long ago when her breasts grew before many of the other girls in school, she got dressed in the bikini without taking off the dress she’d worn. ‘There, I made it through one outfit change without showing anything. Take that you disgusting Were – wherever you’re trying to peek from!’
As promised the Were knocked on her door and informed her it was 8:30. She was ready so she just sat in her chair and waited. When she felt the voids starting in the hallway, she moved to her slave kneel and waited. Since she was looking down, she didn’t see the look of surprise on Compton’s face. He couldn’t believe she was kneeling just like a slave should. “I’m taking you to court.” As he approached, she turned her head perfectly to have the leash attached. “I guess your master did teach you a thing or two about your role as a slave.” He yanked on the leash. “Come.”
Court was the same as the night before. She entered behind Compton and moved all the way to the floor and waited for a signal that she could move. “Compton, bring her to me.” AND, there was the yank on her leash – Bill really liked that. She almost hoped it would bruise and Eric would be able to extract some kind of punishment when he saw it. She was lead to the dais and informed she needed to do a resting kneel – on her knees but her buttocks could be on her heels – next to Felipe anytime she was in court. The floor was marble AND cold under her so she shifted a bit after a few minutes.
“Problem Miss Stackhouse?”
She’d been addressed, so she could answer – right? “The floor is cold, oh and my name is Northman.”
“My territory does not recognize your wedding.”
She kept talking – even though she hadn’t been asked anything. “I understand, but my name was legally changed to Northman.”
“Did I speak to you and ask you to answer?”
‘SHIT! She’s been in court 20 minutes without Eric and she screwed up. What’s going to happen now?’ He did ask her a question this time, so she answered. “No your majesty.”
“This is your ONLY warning Miss Northman.” He emphasized the Miss and it sounded like Meeez. “Speak only when spoken to or there will be punishment. Do you understand?”
“Yes your majesty.”
“Let’s discuss something else. I have decided to have you call me something special. You can’t call me master, you have one. Your Majesty just isn’t enough – it’s almost like a privilege to my subjects that they can call me that – and you are lower than my lowest vampire subject. Therefore, I have decided that you will call me, ‘Your Royal Supreme Sovereign’. Say it.”
“Your Royal Supreme Sovereign.”
“If you neglect to call me that, there will be punishment. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Your Royal Supreme Sovereign.” Internally she thought, ‘Asshole. Lower than his lowest vampire? Then why did you go to so much trouble to get me?‘
Court continued for just an hour before Felipe announced it was time to move to the Casino.
Bill came to collect Sookie and Felipe waved him away. “It’s my turn to walk the human. I’ve waited a long time to collect this pet.”
Sookie refrained from rolling her eyes and correcting Felipe that she wasn’t HIS pet, but she didn’t want to see what they had in mind for punishments. As they made their way to the car, Sookie was struck by how tired she was – even though she’d slept plenty. ‘FUCK! I’m exhausted and it hasn’t even been 24 hours. How am I going to get through weeks?‘
Eric rose in Sookie’s room at the farmhouse and was surprised to see Godric sitting on the side of the bed. “How are you here?”
“Well, I had my guards and Toni transport me in a coffin today, so I could be here at first dark. Apparently, when I arrived, Alcide flipped out a bit mentioning something about the last time he had coffins sitting in the living room, but Cara calmed him down. I rested at the new house, since you installed an elevator system for coffins to the lower level.”
“But how did you get from the new house in the sun?”
“Your timing is off from your healing, it is already dark.”
Eric shot up from the bed in alarm. “Pamela?”
“She is still at rest. Amelia is going to call me from the chamber downstairs when she is up.”
“Can you feed her before she rises?”
“It is not like a human where swallowing will just start to happen. She needs to be conscious. If she rests too long, Ludwig can set up an IV. Let me feed you first.”
“No, these fingers will grow back quickly. We need to focus on Pam’s silver poisoning.”
“I had enough blood to help you both. A small amount from me will really help you. You need to be at 100% and quickly.”
Eric reluctantly agreed and Godric moved to be next to Eric and offered his wrist. Eric hadn’t fed from Godric in years but the experience brought back familiar feelings of love and security. Given the events of the past 24 hours, Eric struggled with the feelings and broke off the feed. “It is alright for you to feel overwhelmed min son. You had to turn your mate and your unborn child over to another monarch. You had to trust my maker, who honestly has lost much of our respect, that Sookie will be safe. You had to endure punishment in front of Sookie while she was already vulnerable. Finally, you had to part after all that without a final word or touch.” Godric WAS trying to tug at Eric’s heart. He needed Eric to release the feelings that Godric could feel through the bond. Yelling, tears, hitting – whatever Eric needed to do to get the release would work – but he needed to do SOMETHING. Remaining stoic for the next few weeks wouldn’t be good. Eric had a monarchy to overthrow and his head needed to be on ‘straight’ to do it. He was surprised when he got despair. Except for Pam and Amelia downstairs and Gran and Hunter in the living room, Godric had ensured the house was empty. He wanted his child to be free to express his emotions however was needed – and he did.
Eric curled himself into his maker, or in this case, specifically his father, and started speaking about the night before: The difficulty in escorting Sookie away from the farmhouse – from her family. How little Hunter had run and clung to them before they got to the door, begging them not to go. How Jason had to physically pull the wailing child from his legs. He explained the physical reaction he had to seeing Sookie in submission on the floor in front of Felipe and again when he was forced to collar her. His eyes were full of tears as he remembered Sookie and their parting. “The worst father,” he needed to take a breath to continue. “The worst is the feeling of numbness in the bond. She’s going inside herself to survive. After a few weeks, will I be able to get her back? I know your maker saw that she was not touched, bitten or hurt by a vampire – but bruises and cuts are not the only type of hurt.”
“Yes, Pythia and I have already had words. She came to me briefly without explaining why, but I think the visit was all about her guilt.”
“Of course, she still maintains the bigger picture and all that bullshit.” Godric simply nodded.
“Godric?” Amelia called from below. “Pam is awake.”
The two men went to the lower chamber and Amelia left to give them some privacy. Eric was shocked at Pam’s appearance. She was emaciated and gray even though she’d been fed according to Ludwig and Gran. He could also tell she was in pain. “I’m sorry my child.” Eric’s eyes filled again.
Even with her apparent weakness, she was able to muster the strength to express her feelings to Eric. “This is NOT your fault Eric. We need to focus on healing and kicking ass. Don’t wallow in this. Do you understand me?”
“It’s hard to not see all the mistakes that led to this.”
“I’m the sick one here, just agree with me and start the healing.”
To appease her, he answered. “Yes Pamela.”
While Pam fed from her maker and grand sire, Eric and Godric planned the evening. “Do you have the untraceable / disposable phones we need?”
“Yes – I also have the encrypted phones from my own telecom company and the privacy spells.”
“Good. Stan wants a conference call at 10.”
“Pamela, do you want me to carry you upstairs now that you’re done feeding? I’m positive Gran is looking for someone to pamper and fuss over.”
Eric was right. As soon as Gran saw Pam coming into the living room, she went into mothering mode, only instead of band-aids and cookies; she had an electric blanket, a shoe catalog and blood. The woman was incredible. “Adele, where did you get a shoe catalog?”
“I had Mustapha hunt one down as soon as we knew Pam would need time to recuperate. It arrived today. I have other surprises for her too, but I want her to rest so I’m not giving her everything at once.” Her eyes sparkled at the tease to Pam.
“Miss PAM! You’re out of your bedchamber! Uncle Eric, you’re up!” Hunter ran from the stairs and leapt into Eric’s arms. “I’m sorry about your hand.” Eric looked over Hunter’s head at Gran. He’d made his hands into fists when Hunter entered the room, trying to keep that image away from the boy and he was surprised that Hunter knew.
She pointed to her head. “I told him. He would have heard it anyway.” Eric simply nodded at Gran then put Hunter down.
After getting his hug from Eric, Pam greeted the boy. “Hi Smurf. How are you?”
“I miss Sookie.”
“We all do. Can you keep me company for a bit? Maybe we’ll both feel better if we watch a movie. Will your Daddy let you stay up?”
“Can we watch Hulk? And yeah, Dad’s been shifting me to go to bed later so I can have visit time with you guys when you rise.”
“We can watch Hulk – I can’t believe you’re still watching that.”
“Every chance I get – it’s great!”
“Put it in and climb over here. I need someone to snuggle with. The electric blanket is under me, but my front is still cold.” And he did move to the couch then proceeded to climb on top of her: She was on her back and he placed himself right on top of her chest then started the movie.
Remy popped in to quickly speak to Pam. “Just call me if he’s ready for bed. I’ll take care of him.”
Eric interjected, seeing exhaustion on Remy’s face. “I understand you’re trying to keep up with my day shift of builders and late nights with Hunter. Get some rest. I can certainly put him to bed when I get back from my meeting.”
“If you’re sure.”
The group bid their goodnights and Godric turned to Eric. “Well, now that Pam seems occupied for a bit, we can prepare for our call.”
They walked the hill to the new house and got Stan on the line. “Stan, thanks for your support.” Stan had told Eric to start calling him by his first name. It seemed only right since Eric’s wife had that privilege.
“You most certainly have my support as well as Pack support from Texas – and we do need to plan. However, I need to share something with you tonight . . . well actually Barry does. It’s related to Sookie, but not your plans to get her back. It’s. . . ”
Concerned and curious Eric pressed for the information. “You have me on the edge of my seat. Can you tell me what this information is?”
In Texas, Stan nodded to Barry to share his story with Eric rather than doing it via go-between. “Sheriff Northman, I need to tell you about my time in Vegas last spring.” He took a breath. “First let me reiterate that I never anticipated that Sookie would be taken. You see sir, when I was in Texas, something happened and it was pretty embarrassing so I told nobody – until I heard about Sookie. I think what happened to me is related to her. . . .Hell, I’m not really sure and I don’t want to alarm any . . .” Eric was pacing and trying to be patient. Barry was obviously nervous about this information but he needed to spit it out.
Godric intervened. “Barry, we are you given the circumstances; I would be grateful if you could tell your story. I assure you, even if this turns out to be nothing; we will still appreciate that you’re sharing this.”
With that, Barry blurted out, “I think I was raped for my sperm. Then I heard about some famous supe fertility doctor being kidnapped and the forced miscarriage we heard about from Godric . . . well I put all the information together. . .”
Eric was silent only a moment then plainly stated, “He wants to breed telepaths.” Barry heard a loud crash and more growling through the line followed by more shouting. “He wants to breed her and we sent her there PREGNANT! They’re going to find out about Roo now. This is a disaster. FUCK!”
Since they were keeping the news of the baby being saved a secret, Godric quickly backpedaled on the phone to Stan and Barry. “We chose to keep the fact that the baby survived a secret. There were some specific reasons. I ask that you please. . . ”
They heard Godric clearly even though they could hear more crashing and yelling in the background. Stan put Godric at ease. “Say no more. I know you didn’t even want to tell us she was pregnant at all, but the miscarriage was part of Felipe’s plot. This just makes it more urgent to plan the takeover. Barry, since we are going to start planning our attack, you may want to leave so you aren’t part of it.”
“I need to be part of this, Stan. I feel horrible about the situation Sookie is in. I want to help and surely you can use a telepath.”
Stan was impressed but it was Godric that answered.”Barry, this pleases me but I want you to go into this consciously, lives will be lost.”
“Godric, I understand but I was raped to unknowingly father children. Since Sookie is pregnant, we must act fast to get her out of there before they do take the baby they already tried to kill and have a chance to impregnate her with sperm she didn’t choose and I didn’t willingly donate. I’m all in.”
Godric responded. “Understood. What is your telepathy range? If you were in the area of his palace – but outside – can you hear anything? Maybe reach her?”
“I’ve been practicing. I’m no Sookie, but I do have that kind of range.”
“Give us twenty minutes and we will call you back on this line once Eric is ready to discuss strategy.”
In Texas, Barry hung his head in shame. He’d never told Stan about the mornings he’d woken up with memories of a woman and her leaving his room after packing vials of something. He felt hung-over but he knew what he saw. He was mostly sure she was planted and he was drugged somehow because he was gay. He wouldn’t have been with a woman without some type of influence and definitely not for a second night. Stan broke him out of his thoughts. “Barry, you had no way of knowing what the intent was.”
“I still could have told you – I mean even I knew someone wanted my sperm as ‘telepath’ sperm. I was just too embarrassed to tell anyone. I never thought it would be forced on Sookie. Now to find out she’s still pregnant. I mean, I get why Godric told us otherwise – that information can’t get out. But they could still take the baby if they discover the pregnancy. I don’t want that for her. She gave me this better life. She brokered the deal and gave me the confidence to spread my wings. My happiness is due to her. I’ll do anything to save her Stan.”
“We all will Barry. Eric will have an army ready – and very quickly.”
In Bon Temps, Godric was working very hard to calm his son. When the shouting started, several guards and Jason came running to the house to see what was happening. Godric yelled for them to stay back and they heeded the warning. Eric was literally ripping apart the office they had used for the phone call. Luckily, it was all temporary furnishings and not the hand crafted built ins that Remy had planned but not started yet. The walls would need attention though since Eric’s strength had the furniture flying and ripping into the drywall. For safety, Alcide forced everyone back to the main house or their patrol duties but he remained, cautiously outside the danger zone until Eric’s anger abated. He felt a silent vigil for his friend was needed. He also sent a text for some bagged bloods, something they were rapidly depleting, and Potts was running up the hill with a cooler full. He could see the damage to Eric’s hands and arms from the punches into the walls. Since he was already weakened somewhat, he knew the blood would be needed for healing.
Finally, Godric’s steady flow of calm through the bond started to work and Eric’s rampage came to an end. With Godric’s nod to Alcide confirming it was safe, the wolf moved forward with the bagged blood and Eric started drinking it eagerly. After two bloods, he finally stopped pacing, and by the time he finished the cooler full, he was sitting. He was still angry, very angry, but now he was in control. Honestly, he felt better after his little tirade.
“Well Northman, you sure are working to keep me and my guys employed as builders.”
“I like having you around.”
“You could just ask for play dates. No need to go to extremes.” The wording was enough to get the Viking to give him a small, brief smile and Alcide took that as an improvement. “So, what’s going on?”
Godric filled in Alcide. “We are about to start planning some strategy with Stan. Barry, his telepath, has agreed to help us. He has good enough range to have a conversation with Sookie OUTSIDE the palace. He also delivered some disturbing news from his trip to Vegas. Seems he was raped for his sperm.”
“I feel bad for the guy, but why . . . Oh FUCK!”
“Oh Fuck indeed.” Godric replied and it sounded odd given how rarely he cursed. “Well, we need to call Stan back.”
“I want to stay. I mean, my Pack is going to be part of this.”
The men plotted for about another hour with Stan and Godric taking point to contact the other monarchs who had pledged their support. They were not under the scrutiny that Eric was and were better able to make calls as needed. They had two events that needed to be coordinated delicately. In just two weeks, the annual Sheriff’s Ball was being held. This year the hosting monarch was New England and King Carlos Huerta had planned an elaborate three night affair. Eric had already intended to go, as RSVPs were due before they’d even left for the Summit in Vegas and he’d decided to leave Sookie at home. He planned to attend only the one night of the main affair and return home. Now they had an opportunity to use the event as a planning meeting. The second event was in September when Stan and Liz were being pledged. He hoped Sookie would be home by then, but if not it could be used again as planning. The Texas affair would be very effective as Felipe was not going to be invited even though Eric was. Stan knew that was against protocol to invite a Sheriff without his or her monarch, but he really didn’t care.
“So I’ll ensure we have a private meeting room in Boston at the Sheriff’s Ball for our meeting. We’ll need witch that can ward for privacy.”
“Thank you Stan, I’ll bring along our witch.”
“Do you think he’ll bring her to the Sheriff’s Ball?” Everyone knew who HER was.
“I just don’t know.”
“How is she doing?
“Everything from sad to panicked to angry. It’s all over the place.”
“Hang in there Eric. We’ll get her and Felipe will rue the day he crossed you.”
“I just hope we aren’t too late.” He checked his watch and nodded to Alcide. “Stan, we must hang up now. I have a vampire arriving shortly. It’s an old friend that I called to New Orleans and have now deferred him to Bon Temps.”
“Anyone I know?”
“This is a great resource Eric.”
“I know. I just hope all we’re planning is enough. Something tells me this is bigger than just taking over Felipe’s territory.” Eric paused and stared off for a moment, then came back on the line. ‘Much much