“It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.”—Voltaire
Last Time: The young witch came and went quietly, and Eric downed two of his TrueBloods while they were still warm. He repositioned Sookie so that she was lying on her side, and then he spooned his long body behind her. Octavia had told him that Sookie would rest better with him near, and the sooner she was well, the better it would be for them both. He felt relatively secure in the Slidell home, but he was anxious to get out of Russell and Sophie-Anne’s kingdom.
Yes. He would stay with Sookie as she rested because it was practical and because he owed her.
He did not let himself entertain any other reason for being close to her as he slipped into downtime and rested from the long day’s exertions.
[An hour before sundown, earlier that evening]
Russell Edgington enjoyed the sight before him very much. He had to hand it to the Viking: he did have a lovely little “playroom” in the basement of Fangtasia. And it was made even nicer by the lovely new “decorations” which had been added in the form of the three humans, two of which the Norseman had “gifted” him.
A catatonic human in a corner.
A couple of corpses at the foot of the bed.
The humans were the same as throw pillows to the king. Just décor.
The two donors that Eric had introduced him to had been quite delicious in their own ways. The large one—Kenneth—was simply delectable. Thus, he sat mostly safe and sound—except for his unresponsive state and a few minor wounds—in the corner of the room.
Domitri had proven quite the limber lover, and the blond fangbanger that Russell had chosen had also been perfectly adequate.
Yes. Russell had enjoyed them immensely. Of course, he’d had to make sure both of them were dead before he fell into his day-rest. After all, he couldn’t very well afford to have them around when he was dead for the day. He could have glamoured them or sent them away—he supposed—but that would not have been nearly as fun.
Plus, since the Viking wasn’t within Russell’s reach and because he’d had a hankering to kill, the two humans had served as convenient substitutes for his rage.
Russell looked over at his undead bedfellow—William Compton. The younger vampire was—it seemed—a chip off the old block when properly motivated. Lorena’s zest for blood and sex had clearly been passed on to her progeny. It had taken young William a little while to get tuned up, but after a bit of blood and a little “love,” his genteel act had been all but forgotten. Indeed, he’d been a willing participant in the bloodlust and the slaughter that had taken place in the hours before sunrise.
Young William had surprised Russell a bit by his eagerness to become the elder vampire’s lover. Russell had thought that it would take a few more nights of coxing. However, Compton had been quite zealous—once adequately stimulated.
Sadly—young William did not have the god-like physique of the Viking, whom Russell would have preferred to take into his bed. The Civil War veteran, however, made up for that with his general enthusiasm and his obvious reverence for his elder. Bill had obviously not been a virgin to men at his turning, though he was still tight. The younger vampire—it seemed—also enjoyed a bit of pain. And he truly liked to be dominated. Talbot, though he was ideal in most ways, did not.
Oh—Talbot satisfied Russell immensely, but his consort was not a true submissive. Young William certainly had the potential to be that—with the right motivation, of course.
Russell grinned almost sadistically. The younger vampire next to him had been immediately remorseful after their pleasure had begun, especially during the last half an hour before day-fall—when he had truly taken in the room around them.
Up until then, they had both enjoyed feeding from and fucking all three of the donors. And Bill had even glamoured Domitri to continue allowing them to fuck him after the blond fangbanger had been drained and was lying dead on the bed. Once Domitri had also been drained and blood had stained the bed sheets as well as the walls, Bill had been lost in his bloodlust and had tried to kill Kenneth. Russell had needed to stop Bill with force, a move that had driven the youngling to offer himself to his elder.
How could a king refuse such a gift from such a servant?
After he was sated both with blood and with sex, however, Bill had wept at his actions. Russell smiled. The younger vampire’s guilt had been a lovely “nightcap.” Amused to no end, the king had held the youngling and comforted him until it was time for Bill to weave another dream for his dearest Sookie. Russell had offered the young one more of his blood and then had held him some more as dawn took Bill to his death. It had been one of the more satisfying nights Russell had spent in a while. It was difficult to find ample opportunity to indulge these days, for the Authority had placed so many inane—and unnatural—rules upon them all.
No feeding in public.
No draining humans.
No blood orgies.
No fucking fun!
Russell was tired of the rules. Vampire were vampires—for fuck’s sake! Fuck—they were gods! The humans were there for their pleasure, and the only function they were worthy of serving was to feed their fucking betters! It had been the Authority’s apologetic behavior which had brainwashed vampires like Compton, but Russell intended to take the Southern gent further under his wing and make him glorify in being a vampire.
Russell thought about the previous two nights, cataloguing everything that had occurred into the files of his ancient mind as he patiently waited for his new lover to awaken so that his plans for the evening could get underway.
With amusement, he recalled the sordid little “fairy tale” of Bill and Sookie’s “love story.” Russell chuckled, as he thought about the delusions within the mind of the so-called “genteel” vampire beside him. A “Southern gentleman” Bill Compton was not! Russell had seen many master manipulators among his kind; however, Bill seemed best at manipulating himself with his own fantasies and lies.
Russell was pleased by his acquisition of Compton. He was pleased by the presence of Victor to aid him. But he was most pleased that he would soon be home with his beloved Talbot.
Russell sighed. Though he was loath to admit it, he was nervous regarding his consort’s safety and knew that he would not be entirely comfortable until Talbot was in his arms. The king had not made many mistakes during his extensive life—at least not many that he was willing to own to—but one of them had been allowing Eric Northman to escape his grip. After three thousand years, it took a lot to out-maneuver Russell Edgington, but the Viking had done just that! The king’s anger flared. Northman—along with his progeny and the telepath—had seemingly disappeared off of the face of the fucking planet! And his worst fear was that they might somehow get to his beloved Talbot.
The ancient vampire closed his eyes and calmed himself, consoling himself with the fact that he’d tripled Talbot’s guards. Thus, if Northman tried to get to Talbot, it would be the last mistake he ever made!
Yes—it was only a matter of time before Northman was in his clutches. However, the king couldn’t help but to be a bit disappointed by the way things were turning out. On the surface, the Viking had seemed as if he would make the perfect addition to Russell’s retinue. He was a thousand years old—nothing to Russell’s strength, but definitely formidable. He was also excellent at running his area and at turning a profit—not that Queen Sophie-Anne had ever really appreciated that. Moreover, Russell had thought that Eric was attracted to him, and the king had been looking forward to fucking the Viking. Talbot and he often shared humans, but they’d not shared a vampire in many years. Now young William would have to suffice.
Russell pouted a little since there was no one in the room who could see him. Indeed, he was quite disappointed that Eric was no longer on the table as a willing paramour; however, he did plan to take Eric as an unwilling lover when he found him. Russell smiled at the thought of keeping the “mighty” Viking as his prisoner for years and years to come. He would torment him mercilessly with the fact that he’d killed his whole family, even as he took his body. Northman would be powerless to do anything—except suffer, of course.
Russell thought back to the young Viking, whom he now knew was Northman. The king was disappointed in himself that he had not recognized Eric right away, but Russell and his Weres had ransacked so many villages over the years that it was difficult to keep them all straight. If Northman had been alone in being spared, Russell would have remembered. However, because of the ancient vampire’s propensity for leaving one person alive in the midst of the havoc his Weres had wrecked, Eric had looked like all the others—his expression of shock and suffering nothing out of the ordinary.
Russell sighed nostalgically. He missed the days when such destruction could be wrought without consequence. But he comforted himself with the notion that he and his allies would—one way or another—bring the world back to those times. Humans had gotten too comfortable—with their suburbs and technology-filled lives. Yes. Russell had a new world order to look forward to; it would take a while, but one thing that he had a lot of was time.
Meanwhile, he would have the telepath and the Viking to “play” with—once they were found, that is. However, the king anticipated that it wouldn’t take very long to find them at all. In fact, Russell already had most of the pieces in place that he would need to find the missing pair. Yes—he would bet a good deal of his fortune that he’d have Northman and the telepath in his clutches within a fortnight.
Hallow was a pain in the ass, but her magical strength was almost without parallel given her dual nature as Were and a witch. And—because a remnant of the magic used by Northman’s child had been found—Hallow would almost certainly be able to find the witch who had helped Northman soon after she returned from India.
Russell’s phone beeped, and he saw that Talbot had texted him. The sun had already set in Jackson, and his consort had good news. Franklin Mott had fully recovered, and he was anxious to find “his” human, Tara Thornton. Russell decided to allow the search. Even if Miss Thornton was not with Sookie and Eric, she might have some information that could aid them.
Yes. Having Victor’s help allowed Russell the luxury of letting Mott do as he wished. Mott was a loose-cannon in many ways, but he was vicious and obsessive in his quests. Indeed—if Tara’s trail crossed with Sookie’s at any point in the future—Mott would likely be there.
While he had his phone out, Russell read Victor’s preliminary report of his findings at Eric’s residence, which had been sent just before dawn the night before. Victor hadn’t found much, but in the safe, there’d been a record of several properties owned by the Norseman. Russell would arrange for those residences and businesses to be watched. However, the best piece of information was that the name of the law firm Northman used—Cataliades & Co.—was on the paperwork.
Desmond Cataliades was the founder of that firm, and the demon had been Russell’s own attorney since before either one of them had come to the New World. In fact, Desmond had made his own move to America partly at Russell’s request!
“Perfect!” the king said aloud.
Dealing with demons could be a messy affair because they used their own type of magic to keep their work secret. That was why they made such excellent attorneys, after all! However, Russell was confident that he could spin the story he told Desmond so that his old acquaintance would give him any pertinent information on the Viking.
The king could feel himself tightening the noose around the Norseman’s neck more and more with every passing minute. He would take away all sanctuaries from the Viking. He would eliminate all resources. And—in doing so—he would drive Eric to once more experience the fear he’d displayed as a young Viking.
Russell relished that thought as he looked again at the vampire next to him. Despite his obvious shortcomings, young William was another asset in his quest to capture the Viking. As soon as Hallow eliminated the witch who had supplied Northman’s magic, all of that witch’s spells would die with him or her. Then, Bill would be able to track the telepath with the tie.
Meanwhile, young William could continue to try to entrap Sookie into woven dreams. Bill could also sense her life force, though he could not get a clear picture of her emotions. But being able to sense her was enough—for now.
On the other hand, Russell posited that there was some need for hurry if they were to secure Miss Stackhouse. If his hypothesis was correct, the telepath would likely not stay alive long if she stayed with the Viking. Russell truly did expect that Eric would kill Sookie rather than risk being made vulnerable by her.
The other possibility for the Viking would be to turn her so that he could—as her maker—order her silence about his secrets. But Russell didn’t think that the Viking would do that. Secrets were power, and there were ways around a maker’s command. Plus, a newborn vampire was a liability.
In truth, if Sookie were turned, she would likely lose her telepathic ability as well as her amusing sparkly fingers, and that truly would be a shame. The magic that operated within a vampire ran counter to the magic within the Fae, and Russell had encountered enough precedent to be confident that Sookie Stackhouse would lose her uniqueness if turned.
During the first thousand years or so of his long life, Russell had heard of experiments by elders who had tried to turn fairies in order to push along the evolution of vampires. However, no full-blooded fairies or even half fairies survived the turning process. A few quarter fairies were successfully turned, but their blood lost its luscious qualities, and—by all accounts—their Fae gifts left them as well. The king also knew of a few telepaths who had been made into vampires. The late Stan Davis of Texas had been made a vampire because of his telepathy, for example. However, his gift had declined in strength after his human death.
Russell sighed. It would be a shame to lose such a nice asset as Sookie Stackhouse—human-fairy hybrid telepath. But if she were killed or made vampire, she would no longer be a wild card in the game. She would become a non-threat—a non-issue.
And that outcome worked for Russell too.
But—whatever the case—Miss Stackhouse would eventually be found; whether she was found dead, un-dead, or alive, Russell would adapt his plans. And Eric would eventually be captured. Meanwhile, Russell resolved to enjoy the chase. He had already decided to add a year onto Eric’s torture for every day the Viking evaded him.
As he made his plans for the evening, the elder vampire smiled and absentmindedly ran his fingers down young William’s bare and bloody back. First, he was going to fuck Compton in the midst of the carnage in the room. Then they would take a few sips from Kenneth, whose glazed-over stare was still on the wall where it had been when Russell rose for the day. Then they would all utilize Northman’s luxurious shower together.
After that, the king was going to take a match to Fangtasia and burn down Northman’s pride and joy.
Then, he would return to Mississippi—to his Talbot.
As soon as Bill woke up, he knew that something was horribly wrong. He sat up in the bed quickly, and—though he no longer needed to breathe—he felt as if someone had knocked the breath out of him.
“Sookeh!” he cried out, his accent more exaggerated than usual.
“Is she near?” Russell asked. “Is she trapped in the dream you sent?”
Bill shook his head, even as he registered the fact that his whole body was shaking. “No.” His skin grew even paler than usual. “She is gone.”
“Gone?” Russell asked. “Explain! Now!” he demanded as he roughly grabbed Bill’s shoulder.
“The tie I had with her—the bond I had begun to form with her . . . .” Bill stopped speaking as bloody tears began to flow from his eyes.
“They are no more?” Russell asked, softening his touch and bringing the younger vampire into his embrace.
“No more,” Bill confirmed. “She is gone. Dead.”
Russell held William through his sobs as the youngling was overwhelmed with grief. Meanwhile, the king was disappointed. Sookie would have been a wonderful asset, but it seemed that his theory about Eric killing the girl had proven true. It had just come about sooner than Russell had predicted.
Indeed, it was a pity.
However, there was consolation that Eric would no longer have the asset either. Russell smiled even as he rocked his companion. Perhaps, the telepath’s being out of the game was the best thing after all.
He smiled wider. The Viking’s actions were proving to be a bit erratic. Why save the telepath just to kill her a couple of days later? Unless Russell’s theory was right—unless Eric had killed the telepath because he had “cared” for her. If that were the case, then the Viking would likely be shell-shocked for a while—vulnerable and less capable of strategizing than usual.
On the other hand, it was also possible that Bill’s dream-weaving had led to the telepath’s death. However, Russell intended to keep that theory to himself—just in case he needed it to manipulate or hurt the younger vampire in the future.
Alternatively, Northman might have become aware of Bill’s skill to weave dreams; Lorena wasn’t exactly known for her discretion, after all. If the Viking had known about Bill’s ability, he would have had four options. First, he could have forced Sookie to stay awake during the daylight hours, but how could he have monitored that if he was asleep himself? Second, he could have killed her so that she would no longer be a liability. Third, he might have tied her down so that she couldn’t answer the call of a woven dreams; of course, that in and of itself might have killed her. Or fourth, the Viking could have let her go. Russell would have chosen the first or third option, but perhaps the Viking was more cautious and had chosen the second.
There was no way in hell that Eric would allow Sookie to leave—only to make her way back to Bill.
And it made sense for Eric to wait until the day time to kill the girl. That way Bill would have no idea when the death occurred. Or perhaps the Viking was in a different time zone by now, and he’d waited until night to kill her—to test to see if another woven dream had been sent. Russell’s fangs almost popped down at the thought of Sookie tied up in a room and ordered not to sleep by the Viking. Of course, the exhausted telepath would have eventually nodded off, and the Viking would have found her in the midst of a woven dream. Or perhaps she would have been dead from heart failure already since she wouldn’t have been able to act on the “orders” of the dream. Or maybe the Norseman had killed her off himself once he’d found her trapped in a dream. The possibilities were tantalizing, and Russell got hard as he thought about Eric draining the telepath dry.
However, it was a moot point. Sookie was no longer a game piece; thus, Russell would spare her no additional thought—unless . . . .
Russell quickly dialed his phone, even as he continued to hold Bill with one arm.
“What?” came Hallow’s sharp, cold voice. “I thought I told you I’d come to you when my job here was done.”
“Show proper respect, witch!” Russell seethed, immediately annoyed with the woman.
“Fine. What can I do for you, your majesty?” Hallow asked sarcastically.
Russell restrained himself from lashing out at her disrespectful tone. “I have a question for you,” he said instead.
“Then ask it,” the witch returned.
“Can a severing spell be used to destroy a blood tie—without the vampire who formed the tie permitting the act?”
“No,” Hallow answered. “There is no such spell. For a severing to work, the vampire who made the tie must let go of his or her blood.”
“You are sure there is no possibility of a severing being done without the vampire being aware of it?”
“No possibility,” Hallow said with certainty, “unless the witch wants to kill the human.”
Russell hung up the phone and looked down at Bill, who was looking up at him with crushed hope in his eyes.
“I had to check,” Russell said with false contrition. “I am sorry if I stirred your hopes, but—given the fact that Eric has a witch in his employ—I had to consider all possibilities.”
Bill nodded sadly. “I know. And thank you.”
For a moment, Russell considered killing the youngling in his embrace. After all, Bill’s value had just decreased exponentially. A simple snap of the neck, and William Compton would be no more. However, the elder vampire could still think of several uses for the young one, and without the baggage of Miss Stackhouse to hold him back, Bill might prove to be an even better vampire. Perhaps, Sookie’s death would teach him once and for all that humanity’s most treasured emotions were dangerous for vampires to delve into. Notions of “undying” love and fidelity and empathy were new to human evolution as well, and Russell didn’t think they would last long. The king hoped that the vampire in his arms could outgrow them.
And he intended to foster that growth—at least for as long as Compton had value.
“We will take out our revenge on the Viking together, young William,” Russell said soothingly. “You will be by my side as we torture Eric for decades—perhaps even centuries.”
“Yes!” Bill said, looking up at Russell with almost-wild eyes. “I will make him pay for what he has done to Sookie.”
“Yes,” Russell agreed. “Once we find Northman, you and I will cause him suffering the likes of which has never been heard of before. I’m sure that Lorena taught you many things about torture, and I will teach you more than you can imagine.”
A flicker of regret passed into Bill’s eyes, but the bloodlust he felt overwhelmed it. “We will make Eric pay dearly for killing Sookie.”
Russell raised one of his hands to gently stroke Bill’s cheek. His tone was loving, though his words spoke of dark intentions. “We will spill Eric’s blood for years to come in your dear Sookie’s name.”
“Yes,” Bill said as he leaned into Russell’s touch.
“We will abuse and use his body to quench our desires,” Russell said seductively, even as he noticed that Bill’s erection was rising as he thought about what they could do to Eric.
“Yes,” Bill repeated as his hand found Russell’s erection and he tentatively began to stroke his king.
The younger vampire welcomed the feelings of revenge and lust that were swirling inside of him, for they were covering his intense grief.
Russell gently pushed Bill onto his back and then placed kisses along his body—from his mouth to his chest to his stomach. When Russell got to Bill’s throbbing cock, he took it into his mouth and enjoyed the younger vampire’s moans as he began to stimulate his rear entrance with his fingers. After taking a moment to prepare his new lover, Russell kissed his way back up Bill’s body before thrusting into him.
Bill moaned in ecstasy and wrapped his legs around Russell’s thighs. He clung to his elder as Russell pounded into his body as only a vampire could.
Bill relished the feeling of being taken. As much as he hated to admit it, this feeling was the one his body craved the most. And since he could no longer feel his blood inside of Sookie, she would no longer be able to feed his heart.
So all he had left was his body.
The younger vampire thought back to the first time a man had taken him like this. He had felt ashamed afterwards, but being with a man had been a craving that he could not stop from overtaking him many more times as he suffered through the perdition of the Civil War. Shiloh, Chattanooga, Hatchie’s Bridge, Hartsville, Stones River, Thompson’s Station, Franklin, Vicksburg, again at Chattanooga, Mossy Creek, Brice’s Crossroads, Tupelo, Memphis, Franklin, Petersburg, and so many unnamed skirmishes in between—all of the battles, both victories and defeats, had been hell. Smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, influenza, erysipelas, frost bite, trench foot, and so many other afflictions that tore through the ranks—all were things to put fear into a man’s heart.
A man’s body taking away his pain was the only comfort to be found in the trenches that he had to dig to save himself from the cold, the rot, and the fighting. Bill had come to believe that he was not really breaking his wedding vows to Caroline when he sought companionship and solace with a fellow soldier. What he was doing was surviving so that he could return home to her.
Later—after Lorena had turned him—Bill had been forced to experiment more with sex. Soon, Bill had recognized that he enjoyed fucking a woman much more than fucking a man. But being fucked by a man was an equal pleasure to taking a woman. Jealous of that fact, Lorena would use “toys” to try to take him as a man would, but it was never the same.
Now as the three-thousand-year-old monarch worked his body in ways that Bill had never before enjoyed, he wondered if he would ever truly desire another lover. The pleasure that Russell was able to stir inside of him was almost too much to bear, and Bill felt his orgasm approaching quickly even though neither he nor Russell was stroking his cock.
Russell slowed down his pace slightly but made his thrusts deeper and more intense. His eyes were hypnotic as he looked into Bill’s darkened orbs. “I promise that we will make the Viking pay until we have both gotten our fill.”
Bill became impossibly harder at Russell’s words. “Yes!” the younger vampire yelled as his orgasm burst from his still-untouched cock.
Russell bared his fangs and brought them down into the youngling’s neck with a viciousness that spurred an eruption from his own cock. He lapped up the taste of his vampire lover’s thick blood as their orgasms subsided.
His passion spent for the moment, the king looked again at his lover. As expected, there was a small flash of guilt competing with bliss in the youngling’s eyes. Russell gently pulled out of Bill and pulled him to lie on his chest. He petted Bill’s face soothingly.
“You should not feel badly about doing what is required to alleviate your grief, young William. The Viking has stolen so much from us all—but especially from you.”
“I could not remain faithful to her,” Bill wept, as fresh red tears slipped from his eyes.
“You need not take another woman again,” Russell soothed. “That is a kind of faithfulness. And your Sookie would want for you to be happy—to move on with your life. Would she not?”
“Yes,” Bill said quietly.
“And she would want justice to be brought to her murderer,” Russell added. “She would want you to honor her and your love by making sure that Eric Northman paid for the happiness that he stole from you both.”
“Yes,” Bill said more forcefully.
“Come,” Russell said as he gently raised his body, pulling Bill up with him. “We will feed a bit from Kenneth, and then we will take a shower to refresh ourselves.”
Bill looked around the blood-filled room as if seeing it for the first time. His eyes went to the two corpses which were currently at the foot of the large bed. “We killed them,” he said guiltily.
“We fed from two that were willing to feed us,” Russell responded dispassionately.
“I do not like killing humans,” Bill said with almost a pout.
“Then you need not kill them,” Russell comforted. “You will never be forced to do anything you do not wish to do in my service.”
“Really?” Bill asked.
“Really,” Russell said, holding in his smirk, even as he held the young vampire’s hand.
A/N: I’m sure you wanted me to have Russell punish Bill for “losing” Sookie, but I like the idea of Bill being manipulated first. Poetic justice anyone? So I was a little nervous about writing the sex scene between Russell and Bill. It was my first male/male scene. However, I thought that this snapshot of Russell’s ultimate control over Bill (in Bill’s extremely vulnerable moment) was important.