“So?” Nora asked as soon as we’d sat down. “Can we trust the general?”
“Well,” Sookie started, “to begin with, General Michaels himself is not a bad sort. He doesn’t have any inherent prejudice against vampires, though he’s disappointed in the current situation—to say the least! That’s not to say that he’s not ready, willing, and able to use the new weapons the government has to fight vampires. He is! But he does recognize that many innocents would be killed if he recommended that. And he doesn’t want that. So he’s going to recommend that the President accept your proposition—all of it.”
Nora sighed with relief.
“However, the news from his head isn’t all good,” my bonded shared.
“Explain,” Nora ordered.
I gave my sister a look that conveyed that I didn’t like Sookie being talked to like that.
“Please,” Nora added, in a slightly more conciliatory manner—though it sounded a little too patronizing for me. I would have to talk to her about this later.
Meanwhile, Ian looked at me with raised brow. I could tell that he’d picked up on Nora’s hostility, just as I had. Sookie and he had met only briefly, for I’d let her know of my plans to tell my friend. I’d also let her know why. To my relief—and my joy—she’d trusted my judgment. Not surprisingly, she’d managed to charm my friend in under ten minutes.
My bonded took a deep breath, and I could feel her concern. I could tell that it was about a much bigger problem than Nora’s lack of respect.
“Okay, one problem is Hep-V,” Sookie said.
“Hep-V?” Nora asked.
“Yeah, the government has taken Hep-D and made a mutation that is fatal to vampires. That’s one of the weapons General Michaels mentioned. He has tried to get that program stopped; he equates it to chemical warfare.” She shook her head. “He saw such warfare being used against humans in the Middle East. And the thought of using the Hep-V literally makes his stomach turn. However, the government is keeping it as a failsafe.” She took another deep breath. “Some government officials are even in favor of using Hep-V to eliminate you all! And—to make matters worse—some of the research regarding the project has been stolen.”
“Fuck!” Nora exclaimed.
“The good news is that General Michaels has traced the theft; the bad news is that the culprit is the Governor of Louisiana!” Sookie recounted. “And his girlfriend is none other than Sarah Newlin!”
“Fuck!” I said, echoing my sister. “Does Governor Burrell have the capabilities to make Hep-V yet?”
“No,” Sookie responded. “Sarah’s spy didn’t get the whole formula for Hep-V. The general has some evidence that the governor is collecting scientists to work on it.”
“Why hasn’t Burrell been arrested then?” Isabel asked.
“The governor has the support of some very powerful people in Washington—including the Attorney General! And Sarah Newlin also has a lot of allies,” Ian contributed.
“Human corruption,” Isabel scoffed.
“You should have seen the Authority a few days ago,” I said snidely, reminding Isabel that vampires could be just as fucked up when it came to their ruling bodies.
She nodded in acknowledgement.
“There’s good news though,” Sookie smiled a little.
“What?” I asked.
“There’s already a cure of sorts for Hep-V; it’s actually an inoculation that works to block its effects on vampires. The government has one for Hep-D too! But—again—there are people who want to withhold both inoculations from vampires,” Sookie informed.
“So that they didn’t lose their weapons,” Isabel said bitterly.
“Hep-D was probably government-developed too,” Ian mused.
“No,” Sookie assured. “It was just the basis of the new and worse bio-weapon.”
“You said that the vaccine would be a cure ‘of sorts?'” I asked my bonded.
She sighed. “It can’t cure already infected vampires. So y’all would need to take it before you got exposed to Hep-V for it to work.”
“But if they were not inoculated, they would be vulnerable,” I observed.
Sookie nodded. “When you were talking about screening blood for the donor program, the general did think about how Hep-V would likely be discovered during such a process, so that’s good news,” she sighed, “but all the blood would need to be screened—because, unlike with Hep-D, Hep-V is fatal.”
She cringed and shook a little, so I put my arm around her in comfort.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Um—the general doesn’t like it, but some vampire have already been killed in the experimentation with the new virus.” She looked down sadly and leaned into me more. “The general’s seen the effects of Hep-V, and I picked up a little from his memories. It’s not an,” she paused, “easy death.”
“Then, it would be best to make sure that Governor Burrell and Sarah Newlin don’t succeed in developing the complete formula,” I said.
“And we will need to get our hands on the cure somehow,” Nora observed, “just in case.”
“What else did you learn?” I asked Sookie.
“More about their weapons. They have contact lenses that make humans immune to glamouring. In fact, he was wearing a pair tonight and was surprised that y’all didn’t try glamouring him. If you had, it would have been ‘game over’ so to speak.”
Nora nodded. “Roman thought that such a thing was just a matter of time. Anything else?”
“Your standard stuff,” Sookie shrugged. “Guns with silver and wooden bullets. Bigger guns with silver and wooden bullets. A version of a smoke bomb with silver particles in it.” She sighed. “He believed most of what you told him tonight; in fact, the part he was most skeptical about was the stuff related to me helping to kill Russell.” She chuckled. “He thinks I look too dumb to think on my feet.”
I leaned over to kiss her. “Let us hope that all of our potential enemies underestimate you.”
Sookie leaned upwards to give me another peck. “I promised Jessica that I would talk to her before sun-up. She’s trying to hide it, but she’s obviously torn up about Bill.”
“And we should make sure that Newlin’s narrative will match ours exactly now that he’s been taken into custody,” Nora said looking at me.
I nodded and then turned to kiss my bonded again. “It shouldn’t take long,” I promised.
“Good—’cause I’m ready to get home,” she whispered. “There’s no food here, and I’m starving!”
I chuckled. “You have your talk with Jessica. I’ll meet you in half an hour.”
She leaned up to kiss me. “Sounds good.”
“I’ll escort her,” Isabel volunteered.
“Thanks,” I nodded.
“And I’ll make sure that the others are settling in,” Ian volunteered.
As soon as the others had left, Nora was all over me, attempting to connect her lips with mine and to shove my jacket from my shoulders in the same moment.
Needless to say, being faster than her, I avoided her kiss and grabbed her so that I could hold her away from my body.
“No!” I said loudly. “We need to talk to Newlin!”
“I can take care of Newlin myself,” she purred. “There are better things to do in the next half an hour.”
“Nora,” I said forcefully, shaking her a little, “I have completed a bond with Sookie. By vampire law, we are wed. And by my law—I am hers,” I added, punctuating each word.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t still have a little fun. And say a proper goodbye?” She pouted a little and then bit her lip seductively. “Your little fairy would never have to know.”
“I would know,” I said, pushing her fully away from me and half across the room. “I will not betray her, Nora.”
“But you already did,” she said smoothly—though somewhat tauntingly. “You’d started your bond before we fucked in the storage container.” She walked toward me alluringly. “Don’t tell me you didn’t enjoy that. And just a few nights ago, we fucked in this very building. No—we made love. The connection we shared that night was more profound than anything,” she paused, “that you could have with a human.”
“You and I fucked,” I corrected, “because we were grieving. And—yes—it was meaningful to me, but that is because I care for you. But—you seem to be having selective amnesia, Nora. Don’t you recall that I did not—could not—finish? We discussed this then, and I thought you’d understood. Sookie is my bonded—my mate!”
“What of Salome? You fucked her too,” Nora reminded bitingly. I’d not known that she was privy to that fact, though I shouldn’t have been surprised, given the “pillow-talk” between my sister and her erstwhile mistress.
“You were not concerned with faithfulness then, nor should you be now,” Nora continued. “If Sookie is truly your mate, she will understand your needs. Being with just one person is simply not the way of the vampire.”
“Perhaps not according to the Book of the Vampyr,” I said, biting back, “but we have both seen how flawed its tenants are!”
“Eric,” she reasoned, “you have lived a thousand years, and you’ve never been faithful—to anyone.”
“Before Sookie, I had never known anyone to whom I wanted to be faithful,” I said.
“And yet you were not faithful to her!” she said with exasperation.
“When I let myself be with you, it was because I thought I had no hope of being with her again,” I explained reasonably. “You know that! Outside the boxcar, we talked about her, and you had to have known that when I fucked you that night, it was to fuck away some of the pain I was feeling—just like we did after Godric was slain by Lilith.”
“But, Brother,” she whined, “we have always been so good together.”
“Don’t make us out to be more than we are,” I said cuttingly.
“We could have always been much more to each other. I’ve wanted that.”
“No you haven’t!” I returned sharply. “You are just being a jealous brat right now! Before—you didn’t think I was serious about Sookie, despite the bond we’d started. And now you feel threatened because I am hers.”
She scoffed. “It is you who have been made to forget how good we are together. Maybe the Book of the Vampyr is right that fairy blood corrupts.”
I had her by the throat and dangling against a wall in the next moment.
“Nora, you are my sister,” I seethed, my fangs down in anger. “You are Godric’s child. I have—until very recently—always respected you and liked you. And—yes—we’ve had sex many times, and it was pleasurable.”
“Exactly!” she cried out, her fangs elongating.
I shook my head. “Nora, you need to get it through your head—right now—that the sexual part of our relationship is over. And—if you ever bring it up again—the other aspects of our relationship will be over too!”
I let her down and took a few steps back.
“You would choose her over me? Over family?”
“Nora!” I yelled. “Sookie is my family! She is carrying my sons—two miracles that wouldn’t have been made if she were not a miracle in and of herself. I will do nothing to jeopardize our relationship—nothing! So—yes! If I had to choose between you and her, which I don’t want to have to do, I will pick her! Without hesitation! Without second thoughts!”
I growled in fury and was satisfied to see her slink back against the wall in fear.
“Moreover, if you do or say anything to hurt her—or our children—I will end you in a way that will make the deaths that I’ve dealt in the past look like child’s play!” I roared. “Do. You. Understand?!”
She gasped, clearly more frightened of me than she’d ever been before. “You wouldn’t hurt me, Eric,” she tried. “Think of Godric.”
“Oh, I am thinking of our maker. You need to remember that Sookie was the one who stayed with him when he met the sun—when I couldn’t be there. She was the voice of compassion and forgiveness when he met his end. And, if he were alive, he’d be the first in line to protect her—even from you. Now—assure me that you understand everything that I have said,” I requested coldly. “And make me believe it, or the New Authority is going to be without a Guardian on its first night!”
“Look, Eric, I just wanted to say a proper goodbye to you,” she hedged. “You’ve blown all this out of proportion.”
“No, Nora, you wanted to stake some kind of claim over me. You are behaving like a jealous teen, and it ends here! Or I will end you here!”
She looked up at me. “God, you really do love her—don’t you?”
I sighed in frustration. “I won’t ask again, Nora.”
She scoffed. “Of course, I wouldn’t hurt her—or your children—you idiot! And I will do all that I can to assure her anonymity as a telepath.” She paused and looked down for a moment. When she looked back up, I could see a little contrition in her eyes. “Maybe I am a little jealous that she has proven able keep you—while I never could.”
“Nora, we would kill each other if we had to be in the same zip code for more than a month!”
“There’s that too,” she said, looking down. “I just,” she paused, “don’t want to lose you.”
“Then stop being a bitch!” I returned, putting my fangs away.
“But I’m so expert at it,” she said.
I chuckled. “No doubt about that.”
She sighed and looked up at me sincerely. “I don’t understand your choices. And I do worry for you, Brother. Godric bonded with a human once, and I don’t think he was ever the same after the human had died.”
“I know,” I responded. “And I wouldn’t be the same either. But I have chosen my road. And I would travel no other.”
She nodded. “You will always have my support and my love, Brother.”
I bent down to kiss her on the forehead. “And you will have mine,” I promised. “But you will have to earn my trust again.”
Her expression turned sad. “Did I truly damage that much by following Lilith?”
“No,” I responded. “You damaged it tonight when you acted in a way that disrespected both my choices and my love for my bonded. I will now have to worry that you will go back on your word. After all, you seemed to accept my bond with Sookie before, but tonight you have shown me that that acceptance was just an act.”
She looked down for a moment. “I will hope, then, that—in time—I will earn your trust anew.”
“I hope that too, Nora,” I said sincerely.
“Well,” she sighed, obviously trying to pep herself up, “I’d better get to Newlin.”
“Be sure that he understands the kind of damage that we will do to him should he not choose to cooperate. He needs to apprehend that human prison will be a cakewalk compared to what we would do to him,” I said.
“I believe that your Pamela has already been acquainting him with some of our more,” she paused, “subtle methods.”
I chuckled. “Well—she did learn from the best.”
I could feel that Sookie was emotional, though her feelings seemed centered on caregiving. I sent a little impulse into our bond—testing to see if she was ready to go. In turn, she sent back patience.
Knowing that she and the redhead were not done with their conversation, I went to find Ian.
He wasn’t hard to find—as he was waiting for me in the room that used to be mine. I’d already told him that it was free of listening devices, but it was obvious that he’d made sure for himself.
Same old Ian.
He gestured for me to sit in the little seating area that I’d not used when the room was mine. I complied.
“Your bonded is lovely,” he commented.
“Yes,” I agreed.
“Intelligent. Diplomatic. Beautiful.” His green eyes glistened. “What did she ever see in you?”
“No idea,” I intoned.
“Congratulations,” he said with a grin. “I am happy for you.” He paused and tilted his head. “Your happiness has been a long time coming,” he added, his Irish accent thickening with his sincerity.
“Thank you,” I returned just as sincerely.
“Did Nora make a play?” he asked knowingly. He’d met my sister only once before, but it was during a time when Nora and I were “involved.” And he’d been witness to how toxic she and I could become when we’d been together for too long.
“Yes,” I returned. “But I think she understands now.”
“How confident are you of that fact?” he asked.
“Just confident enough to ask you to be extra vigilant in watching her—in making sure that she does not become a threat to me and mine.”
He took in an unneeded inhalation. It had always been a habit of his.
“I owe you my life, Viking. I will not let you down.”
“As I owe you my life, Irishman,” I smiled.
He chuckled. “You and I shall never be even,” he said.
“No,” I agreed. “We shall not.”
It was our usual refrain.
“Who is the redhead?” he asked, changing the subject. “The cute receptionist?”
I rolled my eyes. Same old Ian; he always did have an eye for redheads.
A/N: Hi everyone! I hope that you enjoyed the chapter! I hope that you like Ian. He’s been a fun character to create so far.
So the plot thickens. I’m going to be dealing with the Governor Burrell character, but my handling of him and the Hep V thing will be very different. And—what about Nora? Will she behave? Will moving the Authority to California help the situation? Hmm… I, for one, am glad that Ian is watching her—better safe than sorry.
Until next time,