With my scent covered, I watched Appius and Alexei’s debauchery from the secret passages of the old mansion. Since I’d inherited my maker’s ability to fly, I’d hovered as I’d moved from one place to another—always careful not to make a sound.
As planned, Alastair had brought Alexei and Appius to the old mansion in the Hamptons where they had been entertained—which amounted to participating in orgies—for several nights. It was a miracle that no humans had died.
If Alastair hadn’t been there to somewhat control things, I’m sure there would have been fatalities.
I was used to watching people—as it had been a large part of my employment for many years, but being a voyeur of Appius and Alexei, as Marion and I waited for our best chance to slay them, wasn’t pleasant. At least I could focus on Alastair some of the time. When I took a lover, he was generally like Alastair: fun and passionate, in contrast to my generally moody personality.
During the previous years, Alastair had spent enough time with Alexei and Appius to know that—eventually—Appius would want to “take a break” from his child. He’d want to sneak off to fuck another man or two in private—a practice that rattled Alexei to no end. However, Appius had come to count on Alastair during these times—both to protect his child and to ensure that Alexei didn’t do anything too stupid!
Apparently, according to Alastair, Alexei pouted like a fucking infant when Appius commanded him to “be good!”
And Appius hated doing anything his youngest child didn’t like, so he’d begun depending upon Alastair.
I stifled a growl. How Appius could treat Eric—who was the model of what a vampire should be—with such cruelty, while he treated a fuckwit like Alexei with kid gloves, was beyond me!
Marion—who’d been watching with me—interrupted my revelry and nodded toward the attractive blond man whom Alastair had just introduced to the group.
Appius was clearly on the hook.
His end was near.
It was a simple plan.
While Appius was distracted with another man, Alexei would be vulnerable.
And Alastair would not be protecting him.
I would kill Alexei. And—as Appius felt the sting of his child’s demise and was momentarily weakened—Marion would end him.
Despite the plan’s simplicity, however, so many things could go wrong.
Plus, the plan was ultimately unsatisfying. I wanted for Appius to suffer for days, weeks, months.
No—for a thousand years.
But that was impossible, for—with Appius—Eric would suffer.
I wouldn’t even be able to prolong the death of the whelp since Appius needed to feel his death out of the blue—not just his pain!
Everything had been going so well.
I’d killed Alexei, slicing him from bowel to brain before making another cut to totally remove his head from his shoulders.
But then I’d heard a scream.
I’d moved as quickly as I was capable of moving until I was in the room where Appius had taken his human prey. The human was clearly dead, though Appius was still sucking the last bit of blood from his body.
Marion was under a silver net.
“You killed my child!” Appius seethed after a final slurp—before throwing the human to the side. “And this bitch thought she could kill me—as if I haven’t learned to use countermeasures during my many years. As if I haven’t learned to smell trouble like rotting eggs!” he boomed.
Appius took a step toward me as Marion struggled in the corner.
“Karin the Slaughterer, are you ready to become Karin the Slaughtered?” he taunted, having clearly gotten beyond the pain of Alexei’s death thanks to the drained human. His almost black eyes looked as cruel and insane as they’d looked in Rome.
“Of course, I’ll be killing your whelp too,” Appius said, glancing over his shoulder at Marion. “But I want that to last—since he is a betrayer!”
He looked back at me. “You—I will kill quickly. And then I will find your vampire sister and kill her. Eric will feel you both dying. He’ll know the pain of lost children.” He smiled cruelly. “And then I will take him unto me again. He will suffer and suffer until he has made up for Alexei’s death, as well as this half-witted plot against me!”
I glanced at the clock: 5:45 a.m. The sun would be up soon.
The room had grown quiet. I intended to fight for my life, for the lives of my friends, for the life of my sister, for the life of my maker.
However, even with a sword in my hands, I knew that I was no match for my maker’s maker.
No match at all.
Appius stood staring me down for several moments—enjoying his superiority. I wanted to kneel before him—to grovel before his power. But I refused. I would die standing if I could.
And then . . . .
Then . . . .
I cannot quite describe what happened then.
All of a sudden, a faint green color invaded the room. And with it came the slightest scent of magic.
I heard the clock on the mantle click.
I thought of my human life.
I thought of my maker.
I thought of the possibility of finding happiness during my existence.
I thought of how my maker had done just that—by finding love.
And in that second, I felt a surge of hope.
I raised my sword, and Appius laughed heartily.
My hands shook in fear as Appius took a step toward me.
This was it.
And then there was a blur as Marion’s chains literally flew away from her body; she propelled herself at Appius.
My maker had taught me all he knew about wielding a sword. And I swung mine as the blur that was Marion and Appius jetted in my direction.
There was a fifty-fifty chance that I would strike the right vampire.
Odds that I would take when it came to killing Appius.
However, I didn’t just strike Appius.
I decapitated the mother fucker.
TWO YEARS LATER
“This is Sue Jenson, my companion,” my maker introduced.
The blond woman nodded respectfully, though there was an ease about her greeting. She was dressed in a cherry-red sundress that hugged curves that I figured my maker obsessed over—given what I knew about his taste in women. Sue’s blue eyes settled upon me as if she’d heard a lot about me—as if she liked me already.
I nodded to the sweet-smelling human, but said nothing about my own suspicions—that she was the reason why my maker had “felt” so happy since Marion and I had ended Appius. Such a suggestion just wouldn’t have been appropriate to make during a first meeting.
I noticed immediately that Pamela seemed amiable towards Eric’s human companion—if a snarky comment about her dress could be considered amiability.
The bar wasn’t open—as it was a Monday night—so Pam brought a bottle of TrueBlood to me as I sat down in a booth with Eric and Sue. I noticed that Pam didn’t bring any synthetic blood for my maker, though she did bring a gin and tonic for Sue.
“I’ll be in the back—doing paperwork,” Pam sighed as if put-out by the task ahead of her. I would be too. I couldn’t imagine doing such a repetitive task all the time. My vampire sibling winked at me. “But you and I will go out later—after you’re done with ‘the Cleavers.'”
I nodded in agreement. I’d not spent much time with Pam, but I did enjoy her company.
“Thanks, Beav,” Eric said with a roll of his eyes as Pam left the bar area.
“Beav? Cleavers?” I asked him.
In my mind, I was thinking of a broad-bladed hatchet. The weapons of the past were crude in a way, but I “missed” a good cleaver very much.
Using one had been how I’d gotten my nickname.
But I couldn’t imagine the dainty human female in front of me wielding one.
Sue rolled her eyes playfully. “Your sister thinks we’re boring. The Cleavers were a television family from the 1950s and 60s.”
“A wholesome family,” Eric smirked.
“And the Beav was one of their kids,” Sue added.
“The child who is always in need of lessons because of his mischievous behavior,” Eric picked up.
“Plus, it’s short for Beaver, so—uh—that kind of works as a nickname for Pam, too—um—since she likes it so much,” Sue said with a blush.
Eric chuckled, and I joined him.
It was clear that the couple in front of me was close—even finishing each other’s thoughts.
The lightness about Eric was also clear.
“How is Alastair?” my maker asked me as I took a drink of TrueBlood. Unlike other vampires, I didn’t mind the synthetic beverage so much. It had its uses, and I was a fan of anything useful. Plus, it had allowed for new possibilities for vampires.
I was a fan of those too.
“Well enough the last time I saw him,” I said of my former lover.
After Appius was killed, I’d allowed myself to pursue my interest in the handsome vampire. For a while, I worked as one of his bodyguards as he continued his database project. I’d taken my job very seriously—both guarding and defiling his body as often as possible.
But—despite the fun we’d had and our almost-constant traveling—I eventually felt the need to be on my own for a while, though I’d promised my maker a visit before I went on one of my walkabouts—as Pam called them.
When I’d called Eric, he had asked that I come for my visit on a Monday—this particular Monday—when the bar would be empty so that he could “be easier” with his companion. It was already clear to me that the couple in front of me didn’t conform to the “normal” vampire-companion dynamic.
And, of course, my maker had grown weary of Fangtasia and its clientele. In fact, Eric had given Pam his stakes in Fangtasia in exchange for being able to use the club whenever he wished for Area 5 business.
“So—what is next for you?” Eric asked me.
“I have not explored much of Mexico or Central America,” I said.
He smiled slightly. “Then you will enjoy yourself.”
“And you?” I asked.
“My companion and I are building a new home. And—in the winter—we will travel to Europe to do some exploring of our own.”
“So—you’ve decided not to renew your sheriff’s contract?” I asked him, even as I studied the subtle tenderness on display before me. One of my maker’s arms was slung casually around Sue’s shoulder, and she was leaning against him.
More like curled into him.
His free hand was playing with one of hers.
“Actually, I’ve renegotiated with Sophie-Anne. I will keep a permanent home in Area 5, and Pam and I will be sharing the sheriff’s duties. Being a sheriff has too many perks to give up completely—though I want to cut back on my work for a while.”
“What did you have to promise Pam in order for her to agree?” I chuckled.
“A spring trip to Paris fashion week—with my black card,” Eric returned. “And a new sister,” he added.
I looked at Sue.
“You?” I asked, though the answer was obvious.
She nodded. “After our vacation. I wanna see some places in the sun, but once we get home, we’re gonna do it,” she smiled.
I could see no hesitation in her eyes about becoming a vampire, and—in my maker’s eyes—I saw only joy.
“You are bonded,” I commented. The scent of the connection was clear.
“Yes,” Eric said.
“You know that a bonded child cannot separate from his or her maker,” I said, knowing that I would find such a thing torturous.
“We don’t want to separate,” Sue said firmly.
I nodded. To each her own—I supposed.
“No we don’t,” Eric concurred.
Or his own—obviously.
“Thank you for coming tonight,” Eric said after a few moments of quiet. “There is something that my bonded and I have wanted to do for a while, but we didn’t want to do it without you present.”
“Oh?” I asked.
“We are going to get married and pledged, and we’d like for you to be a witness to it,” Sue said a little nervously.
“You are surprised?” my maker asked when I couldn’t quite hide my reaction.
I took a moment.
Sue patted Eric’s arm, and he immediately helped her out of the booth. “I’m gonna go talk to Pam about the arrangements for tomorrow night,” she said, smiling up at Eric and then at me. “Whatever you decide, Karin, it was nice meetin’ you.”
I nodded at her and watched my maker watch her with loving eyes as she moved toward the back of the bar.
“She smells sweet,” I commented knowingly when he sat back down.
He nodded in confirmation. “Thankfully, no one seems to recognize the scent for what it is,” he said meaningfully and so quietly that I knew Pam wouldn’t hear.
“But you knew I would,” I said.
He shrugged. “I wasn’t sure. You’ve been around a lot of blocks. And you are a good guesser.” He chuckled. “Plus, I’ve never come across someone with a better sense of smell than you. That being said, I am neither confirming nor denying what she might be—not even to you.”
I smirked. “She’s your companion and future child. And that’s pretty much all she is—as far as I’m concerned.”
“Pretty much?” he asked with a smirk.
“She is also the reason for your happiness,” I stated with surety.
“You are another reason. I know you helped to kill Appius; I know you killed Alexei.”
“It was my pleasure,” I said honestly—and with a smile.
“Still—you have my thanks.”
I shrugged. “You gave me my life. So I still owe you.”
He shook his head and took my hand. “You owe me nothing, dottir,” he said sincerely. “Still—I hope that you will watch me marry and pledge.”
“You know—I’m not surprised,” I said, responding to his earlier question. “I’m not surprised that you have tied your life to Sue and wish to tie it more. You are the kind of man who thrives when sharing your life, and—if you believe Sue is worthy—then I am happy for you. I will come to your pledging—your wedding. It will be my honor.”
He nodded. “Thank you.”
I stood off to the side and watched my maker’s companion walk toward Eric on the arm of her brother.
The back yard of an old, though newly refurbished, farmhouse was serving as the “wedding” venue.
The only other vampire there was Pam.
She stood next to our maker as his “best man.”
A pretty brunette named Dawn was serving as Sue’s matron of honor. There were many humans present—and a shifter and his family.
The elegant decorations had obviously been overseen by Pam. White lanterns lit up the night. Tables were set up to the side of the ceremony area and surrounded a dance floor.
There were white daisies placed nearly everywhere it seemed, except for one bouquet of pink lilies, which lay on an otherwise empty chair in the front row of the ceremony gathering.
My maker’s bride was dressed in ivory and lace, and her smile seemed never-ending. Eric, too, smiled widely at her as she approached.
I’d been surprised to see that the part-demon Desmond Cataliades would be officiating, but—then again—very few individuals in Louisiana had agreed to perform vampire-human weddings, even though the law that allowed them had passed almost six months before. Plus, Cataliades could file the necessary paperwork for the pledging ceremony, too.
Thus, the part-demon’s presence could have been judged as merely pragmatic on my maker’s part—though, from the almost paternal look Cataliades bestowed upon Sue—I figured there was more to it than that.
The ceremony itself was lovely—if not a little too sentimental for my tastes.
Vows of unending love and fidelity were made.
And I could tell that they were meant too.
Rings were exchanged.
A passionate kiss was “taken.”
Then Sue handed Eric the pledging dagger.
The humans seemed unphased as blood was exchanged.
Several human women cried.
A few small human children shifted with boredom in their seats.
Through it all, Eric and Sue seemed to have eyes only for each other.
The ceremony ended with them both thanking God—or in Eric’s case gods—for “time itself.”
It seemed an odd thing to express thanks for in some ways, but—strangely enough—I could imagine nothing more appropriate for the couple.
“You are wondering why everyone is calling Sue, ‘Sookie,'” Pam said as the happy couple shared a dance an hour later.
“Not enough to ask our maker about it,” I said.
Pam chuckled. “You have to be wondering why Mr. Cataliades is here.”
“Not enough to ask our maker about it,” I repeated.
My vampire sister smiled at me. “You were always the better kid. Eric has had to ask me not to ask about a lot of things since Sookie came into his life.”
“I’m sure he has his reasons,” I commented.
“And I’m sure they are good ones, so I’ve refrained from asking.”
“How many pairs of shoes did that cost Eric?” I smirked.
“Enough.” She elbowed me in the side good-naturedly. “You know—I am looking forward to having a sister who will actually spend more than a couple of hours a decade with me,” she commented, rolling her eyes at me.
“Perhaps that’s all the time with you I can stomach,” I deadpanned.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Everyone loves me,” she returned.
“And it’s all about you—right?” I smirked.
“Of course,” Pam returned sarcastically.
“Tell him I said goodbye—okay?” I asked as I watched Eric and Sue get more and more caught up in one another.
“Of course,” Pam said, but in a sincere tone this time.
“Call me if anything ever happens to endanger that,” I said, gesturing toward the dancing couple.
“You’ll be the first I call,” she promised, looking at our maker and his bride with a smile.
I smiled too as I took to the air.
I hadn’t ever been religious—even during my human life. Still, I said a prayer to anyone who might be listening that Eric and Sue could have lifetime after lifetime together.
Time after time.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this short side-story/epilogue to Time after Time. Thanks so much for reading that story and this one. I hope that you will comment if you have the time.
Thanks to Seph and Kleannhouse–as always!!!