Unsurprisingly, the media outlets had gotten wind of the bomb threat by the Fellowship as soon as the hotel began to be evacuated. The anonymous email warning Lance Johnston of the bombs and explaining where one of the many explosive devices could be found for confirmation would be traced to the account of a Fellowship member—thanks to Brady’s ingenuity and a little vampire glamour.
So the Fellowship would blame one of their most prominent members for being a turncoat. Sookie and her mate had both agreed that a little dissention in that group of fanatics would be a good thing.
The whole safe house had been equipped with light-tight shutters; thus, Eric was able to safely watch the television footage in the living room—where Kuruk was monitoring the computer feeds from inside the hotel.
Sookie and Eric were on the couch, the vampire sitting back on the piece of furniture in seeming comfort and the fairy-human hybrid sitting forward nervously. Every once in a while, Eric would send his mate a little comfort and strength through the bond, and she accepted it when she could.
Leonie, who was sitting on the other side of Sookie, was uncharacteristically quiet. She’d hugged Sookie about a dozen times since she and Eric had gotten up from their rest. And Eric had even allowed the affectionate fairy to hug him once—after Sookie had admonished him with a single mouthed word: “family.”
In truth, the Viking didn’t mind having Leonie as “family.” He knew that his developing Fae gift had helped to keep his bonded and him strong the night before. And he also knew that it had been partially responsible for keeping him alive long enough for him to use the cluviel dor, which was—itself—a part of his heritage. And Sookie’s.
Plus, because of the magic instilled in his wedding ring by the Ancient Pythoness, he’d seen a glimpse of the future—a future with Sookie in it. The hope which that glimpse had afforded had saved him from succumbing to despair.
Moreover, Eric had learned that the witches had been instructed by the Ancient Pythoness to conduct a spell if Sookie were to fall in the battle. To Octavia’s credit, she’d not questioned the seer and had prompted the spell at the sound of Eric’s anguished roar following his mate’s death. The effect had been to transfer a fraction of Eric’s pain to all remaining members of his bloodline, which was why Duncan, Klymene, and Pam had fallen down with pain.
That slight alleviation had been invaluable.
Leonie sighed and took hold of one of Sookie’s hands. It was clear that the elder fairy was also still shaken by the initial report that Brady was dead. Moreover, it was also clear that she was considering what Brady’s new status as a vampire—the Ancient Pythoness’s child, no less—would do to their relationship. Clearly, Leonie cared for Brady more than she might have been willing to admit—before.
Sookie gave Eric a worried look as he wiped blood from his ears. The bleeds had started about an hour before, but there was no pain involved. Still, it was clear that his mate didn’t like watching him bleed, so she turned back toward the television. He’d tried to offer his blood to her, for her body was still tired, but she’d refused to take the blood that was spilling out of him—because he was “sick.”
The Viking had been wise enough not to push the issue. He’d learned to pick his battles with her already, and she had fed from him right after their shower anyway—though she’d insisted that he take a drop from her too. Again, he picked his battles.
“How long?” Sookie asked nervously, glancing over her shoulder at Kuruk, who was monitoring the computer, even as he also watched the broadcast.
“Two minutes,” the Werebear reported. “And according to the feeds from inside the hotel, everywhere but the vampire floors have been evacuated. The owner just left the building. He was beside himself that the system locked down so that no vampires could be evacuated, but his staff got him to leave.”
“And Russell’s suite?” Eric asked.
“The Were guard left the suite and tried to get out, but he couldn’t get beyond the steel doors. Otherwise, there hasn’t been a peep from the suite. I assume that any vampires are asleep.”
“And there have been no calls from in there?”
“No,” Kuruk confirmed. “Brady’s program to shut down the hotel phones and to jam cell signals from the upper floors worked like a charm.”
“Brady,” Leonie sighed to herself.
Sookie squeezed her hand. “He’s alright. I’m sure we’ll get news from Pythia after he wakes up.”
“He’d better call me himself,” Leonie said forcefully. “Of course, as soon as Pythia is in her nest, I’ll teleport there, but it’s best that I’m not nearby right when he awakens,” she sighed.
“Yes,” Eric agreed. “He’ll need some control before he can be around you.”
Leonie nodded. “I know. Even if he cannot smell me—if he gets a taste of my blood, it’ll be all over for one of us.”
“You’ll work it out,” Sookie said confidently.
“Yes,” Leonie agreed. “And we have time now—much more time—to figure things out.”
The conversation halted as the video showed the first of the explosions. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the broadcast as explosion after explosion was seen. The Fellowship had been thorough.
In all, Eric heard thirty bomb blasts, though that included the ones that Brady had added to make sure that Russell’s floors would be obliterated.
Sookie gasped as the hotel literally collapsed upon itself, flattening like a pancake.
“Cool!” Kuruk said from behind them.
Eric could feel Sookie’s sadness.
“I wonder how many died in there?” she asked.
“Given Agnes’s thoroughness, I imagine only a few vampires did not heed the warnings to leave,” Eric comforted.
“So only they and maybe some humans that were with them would have been killed,” Sookie sighed, regret still in her voice.
Eric nodded. “Yes.”
Eric pulled his mate’s body against his and kissed her temple while sending her comfort through their bonds. She accepted the gift and the closeness with gratefulness.
Sookie shivered as the smoke from the building’s collapse became thicker.
“It reminds me of September 11,” she said softly, a tear drifting from her eye.
“Whether they are domestic or foreign, human terrorists are the worst I’ve ever seen,” Leonie said evenly. “Of course, humans also have the greatest capacity for doing unselfish good,” she added with a sigh.
“You are the one who learned of the bombs in that hotel, min älskade,” Eric reminded gently. “Think of the lives you’ve saved today.”
“But all the ones taken last night,” Sookie sighed. “Maggie,” she added with a sniffle, “she was kind to me—and too full of life to lose hers.”
“I know,” Eric agreed, pulling her tighter and sending her comfort.
They were silent for a while after that, all beings in the room watching the television. Much of the fire literally blew itself out as the building collapsed, but some small fires remained, and fire engines soon surrounded the rubble and begin dousing it with water.
Half an hour after the explosion, Sookie insisted that Eric go to bed, but she stayed up to watch the mesmerizing footage for several more hours until she went to take a nap with her mate. She needed his closeness, especially after it was confirmed that there were six humans unaccounted for. Ninety-nine vampires were thought to have been in the hotel at the time of the explosion; of course, most of them were already dead long before the blasts. But no one would be able to distinguish one set of vampire remains from another, nor would they be able to tell that almost all of them had been in the ballroom when killed.
The vampires who were awake around the world were already vowing the assistance of their kind to recover the remains of any of their kind and to help with any recovery efforts for the other victims. Agnes would do the same as soon as the sun set.
By the time Eric rose, Sookie was awake again, and Leonie had “made her” eat.
Leonie seemed happy—and somewhat comforted—that “Anderson” had made it to the scene. Eric tilted his head as he looked at the television screen. He didn’t really understand the attraction that so many had for the silver-haired news anchor. Plus, it was well-known that Anderson Cooper was gay and wouldn’t have preferred either of the women who were currently “crushing” on him.
Indeed, Eric couldn’t really be jealous of the man. He knew his woman’s heart and also knew who owned it: himself. Plus, he agreed that Mr. Cooper was better than many of the newsmen on television nowadays. But he did miss Koppel, despite—or maybe because of—his extremely odd hair.
“What did I miss?” Eric asked.
“They’ve determined there are no survivors from the blast,” Sookie said gravely.
“That’s probably because of the extra charges Brady set,” Kuruk added, looking at the computer. “I’m following the police and firemen chatter, and they think that the bombs on the highest floors caused the most heat. Because of that—when the hotel fell—it was catastrophic,” the young man said, his tone full of hero worship for the Were turned vampire.
Eric couldn’t help but to concur.
“They’re sending in salvage teams tonight,” Leonie added. “The human authorities are going to take advantage of the vampires who are volunteering.
“Oh—and Agnes is addressing the media in half an hour,” Sookie said.
Queen Agnes—now also Guardian—had flown to New York, instead of to California, after the battle had been fought. Fortuitously, her trip there—with Edwin—following the Rhodes summit had already been planned; thus, no one would be suspicious.
Agnes had wanted to be on the East Coast—so that she could awaken earlier than the vampires in the Rhodes area and get on the air as soon as possible.
The Viking nodded. In his opinion, Agnes was a good choice to lead the Authority—in ways that even Roman wasn’t. Roman was bold and brash. He was also a little egotistical—not that that trait had ever bothered Eric. However, Roman had been interested in personal glory—at least to a certain extent. Agnes didn’t have that trait.
Eric took his spot on the couch and drew his bonded near. He had missed her by his side when he’d woken up, but he understood her need to know what was happening and her need to be a good hostess. These were just two of the traits that he loved about her. And there would be many nights that he would wake up with her warm body wrapped up with his cool one.
Yes many nights.
She curled into him now, though her eyes stayed glued onto the screen. “Anderson” was speaking with the fire chief about the cosmetic damage to the surrounding buildings; thus, Eric knew that the news cycle had run its course, and it was filling its 24 hours with any new scrap it might find.
Leonie was eating popcorn.
Eric’s phone rang—the phone that was supposed to only accept calls from Sookie.
And that could mean only one thing.
“Brady,” Eric said as he answered the phone.
“Yes,” his friend answered, though his tone had slightly more timbre.
“So—you took only one day to bake,” Eric commented. Vampires could take anywhere from one to three days to rise. Pam had taken three, but—then again—she’d always been obstinate.
“Yes. My maker called me eager.”
Eric chuckled as he looked at the eager faces in the room.
“You already have fans,” Eric smirked. “I am here with Sookie and Leonie. And Kuruk is fulfilling your duties—since you couldn’t be bothered,” the vampire teased. “The young Werebear is a prodigious disciple of yours—I think.”
“I figured he would be,” Brady said, his pride and confidence in the young man evident.
“So—you are like me now,” Eric said, even as the women in the room bounced with excitement.
“No,” Brady deadpanned, “I am apparently better. I can still shift, according to my maker, but just once a month.”
Eric sighed and closed his eyes, knowing what that piece of news must have meant to his friend. “That is very good news indeed. And have you fed?”
“Yes—generously,” Brady responded. “But with some control. My maker is pleased; she only had to command me to stop once—the first time.”
Eric smiled. “I am sure that you will prove formidable.”
“Eric,” Brady said, his tone turning serious, “my mother.”
“Her body was removed from the hotel by the Canada pack. It is being prepared for funeral rites. She will be honored,” the Viking responded soberly.
Brady let out a breath that was likely more habit than anything else. “Thank you.”
“She killed several Weres, including Debbie Pelt. She also eliminated a vampire before she was wounded,” Eric relayed, having heard of the valor of the Werewolf from Klymene.
“My maker says that I am not ready to be out in the public. Promise me that you will see to things—for her,” Brady requested.
“She will be placed next to your father,” Eric said. “Arrangements are already being made. She will be honored, and—when you are ready—we will honor her again,” he swore.
The Viking noted the tears falling from his mate’s eyes—and from Leonie’s.
“You fairy mistress misses you,” he said after a moment’s silence.
“I miss her too,” Brady admitted.
“A vampire and a fairy,” Eric said, winking at Sookie. “I can’t imagine that that would ever work.”
“A newborn vampire,” Brady reminded.
“And a full-blooded fairy,” Leonie added.
Eric knew that every supernatural in the room could hear both ends of the conversation. And Sookie could likely hear too, given the amount of his blood that she’d had since their vampire bonding.
“You have always been,” Eric reminded the newly-turned vampire on the phone, “creative.”
“I am—indeed,” Brady said with a chuckle. “Now hand the fuckin’ phone to her, Viking. You are boring me,” he added, sounding every bit the vampire—if Pam was his model, that is.
Eric chuckled as Leonie ripped the phone from his hands. He had no idea where she teleported, but it was far enough away for him not to be able to hear.
He shrugged and reached out to embrace his bonded again.
Twenty minutes later, Leonie reappeared, a bright smile on her face.
“One month,” she said triumphantly.
“A month?” Sookie asked.
“He’ll be enough in control then to see me according to Pythia, and she will order him not to ever bite me! So problem solved. Until then, I’ve told him to fuck anything he needs to!”
Sookie chuckled and shook her head, somewhat relieved that she would never understand everything about fairies.
Eric rolled his eyes as the fairy plopped down on the couch and picked back up her bowl of popcorn.
“What did I miss?” Leonie asked.
Even as Sookie began filling her in about the “filler” that had been on the news, Eric’s other phone rang—the one that he had been using for war business. The caller was not unexpected.
“Northman,” the new Guardian and Queen of California greeted.
“Agnes,” Eric said back.
“I trust everything went as planned?” she asked.
“Better than planned—actually.”
“Well—you always were a good general. Speaking of that, there are many states without monarchs tonight. Anyone that you want is available to you.”
“The offer is generous, but I’m going to turn you down.”
“I thought you would,” Agnes said with a smirk in her tone. “But I had to try.”
“I would ask a favor, however.”
“My child. I would like for her to have the position as Sheriff of Louisiana’s Area 1. She’s always loved New Orleans, and I believe she’d thrive there. I’d also like to suggest Peter to be King of Louisiana. He is wise and strong beyond his years—and deserving of more territory.”
Plus, watching Pam interact with her new king would be amusing.
“Do you wish to retake your job as Sheriff of Area 5?”
“No,” Eric said firmly.
“May I ask what you will do?” Agnes inquired.
Eric looked at Sookie, who was clearly listening in.
“That has yet to be determined.”
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Early on in my writing process for this story, I decided to use the Fellowship’s bombing in Rhodes as a “clean-up” device in this story. I really liked the idea of Sookie learning about the bombs very soon after arriving at the Pyramid of Gizeh hotel. I always thought she was sold very short by C.H. The Sookie in this universe is using her telepathy instead of trying to stifle it. And the fact that she and Eric decide to use the Fellowship for their own purposes is poetic justice—or, at least, I think it is.
Anyway, I hope that you will comment if you enjoyed the chapter or have a reasonable critique. Remember readers: If you send me an anonymous, negative message, it goes straight to my trash, and I delete it from the site. So your effort in dissing me and/or my writing is completely wasted. But…for those of you who still insist on writing mean—or, frankly, untrue—things (yes, I’m talking to the person who insists that I’m fixated on rape and depict it graphically in all my stories), I do hope that writing out your rants makes you feel better. However, after the first few words, I don’t even read any more of what you say, so maybe a better media for your ranting would be a diary. And maybe your subject of critique should be yourself. Just a piece of advice.
Thanks to Kleannhouse and Sephrenia, invaluable workers in “the cause.”
and, of course…