Sookie was nervous, and—apparently—nervousness was a trigger for her fangs. However, she was doing her best to keep them put away, using the “technique” she’d used with success before.
“Bill’s butt pimple, Bill’s butt pimple, Bill’s butt pimple,” Sookie chanted to herself as she walked into a large, intimidating room. The floor was stone and ornate columns were around the edges of the space. Along the edge of two sides of the room were rectangular pools of water.
Etched on one of the walls was text from a language that Sookie had never seen before.
“It is Aramaic,” a handsome black vampire said in an African accent of some kind. It struck Sookie that she knew so little about places like Africa—and certainly not enough to guess at the vampire’s origins by seeing his face and hearing his accent. She looked up at Eric, wondering if he could determine those things.
She had a vague thought that she could see Africa now—see every place that she’d ever wondered about. But, then again, she wouldn’t be able to see the sun rise over the African Savanna, a sight she’d always thought would be amazing. She sighed—a human habit that she realized seemed somehow unnatural to her now.
She shook her head slightly, shaking away her thoughts. She’d agreed to a month. And she’d agreed to make the best of it. But she wasn’t going to dwell on the time limit she’d imposed upon herself—her expiration date.
She would help this Roman person as best she could in order to make sure that Eric wasn’t punished. That would be her focus.
Sookie marveled at the fact that all of these thoughts had raced through her certainly more supple brain so quickly that the other vampire’s statement seemed to still be lingering in the air. She wondered if becoming a vampire “healed” all the little “defects” that might exist in someone’s brain.
“Too bad it didn’t heal my telepathy,” she thought with another very human sigh.
Aloud, she responded to the handsome vampire. “Aramaic?” she asked. “The language of Christ?”
“Ah, Jesus of Nazareth,” the vampire said, approaching her and Eric. “He likely knew several languages—Aramaic being only one of them. However, the Aramaic language was the mother of many other languages thousands of years before even the Viking was born,” he said, nodding at Eric. “For many cultures, it was the chosen language for matters of governance and religion. Vampires were among those who used the script.”
“So much more elegant than Latin,” came another voice.
Sookie looked over the African vampire’s shoulder at the beautiful brunette vampiress who had spoken. She oozed with both power and seductiveness as she glanced at Sookie first and then turned her focus to Eric.
In that moment, Sookie’s fangs literally itched to come down—to challenge the woman who wanted a man that she suddenly realized that she viewed as “hers.”
Bill’s butt pimple. Bill’s butt pimple. Bill’s butt pimple.
Soon under control thanks to her technique, Sookie looked up at Eric with a little surprise, even as he looked at her with some amusement.
“You always used to censure the possessive natures of vampires,” he whispered. “Now you will experience it firsthand.”
She rolled her eyes.
“I must say that your new progeny seems to be remarkably in control,” came Nan Flanagan’s voice.
The blond vampiress was sitting at a conference table at the far end of the room. The table’s modern lines contrasted sharply with the ancient-looking scene. Three others sat there with her, but Sookie focused on Nan.
Suddenly, she couldn’t stop her fangs from popping down. She hissed at Nan.
“Looks like I spoke too soon,” Nan intoned.
Eric gave Sookie a stern look, reminding her that not everyone in the room knew that she was a telepath; thus, blaming Nan for her turning publically might lead to the others asking questions that they wouldn’t want to answer.
Like—why was Sookie “special” enough to provoke Nan to order that she be “made” vampire?”
“Bill’s butt pimple,” Sookie repeated to herself several times. Again, the image helped her to get her fangs put away.
“Sorry,” Sookie lied. “I didn’t expect to see you here, Miss Flanagan.”
Ever cool, Nan rose. “Now you don’t still hold the business with Godric against me—do you?”
“I think you are to blame,” Sookie accused, glaring at Nan. Of course, the “blame” that Sookie was assigning in that moment had little to do with Godric.
Nan clearly understood this. “Perhaps, later, you and I can make our peace. Meanwhile, welcome to the Temple of Lilith,” she said sweeping her hand in a gesture as if to showcase the room.
“Lilith?” Sookie asked.
The brunette vampiress looked downright angry at the new vampire’s question, but she quickly calmed herself. “That is right. You are brand new,” the ancient vampiress purred. “Your maker will soon tell you all about Lilith; in the meantime, I will convey the most important part,” she added as she walked up to Sookie and then stroked her cheek.
“Lilith was the first vampire—the very daughter of God. She is mother to all vampires and—therefore—sacred to us,” the brunette said sensually.
Sookie found herself unwittingly leaning into the vampiress’s gentle touch. Indeed, the vampiress was seductive. Sookie had never been attracted to a woman, and she still wasn’t—not really. But as a vampire, Sookie realized that any touch she received was somehow “more.” And that scared her. She cringed away from the fingers of Salome and moved closer to her maker, instinctively knowing that Eric would protect her—especially from the parts of her new nature that still went so wholly against who she was at her core.
Eric reached out for her hand, wrapping his fingers into hers. Unlike the vampiress’s touch, Eric’s was pleasant and didn’t have an underlying threat.
“Thank you, Chancellor Agrippa,” Eric said with a little bow. “You are right. Sookie is new.”
“Ah—new vampires!” another vampire exclaimed as he entered the temple from a set of double doors at the end of the room opposite the conference table.
“Roman,” Eric identified for Sookie, whispering so that only she could hear. He nodded toward the vampire who had just entered.
“One wonders why such a new one is even here,” the brunette asked suspiciously.
“Don’t be so unwelcoming, Salome,” a male vampire with a German accent instructed.
“It is the Northman I wished to speak to,” Roman said in an off-handed way. “He just happened to be making a child last night. And he couldn’t exactly leave her alone in the dirt—now could he?” he chuckled.
“I have heard that she is a special child,” Salome said suggestively.
Sookie gasped a little with fear, but she managed—with difficulty—to keep her fangs put away.
“Special?” Roman asked, truly seeming to be curious. He approached Eric. “So, Northman, have you already tested your child’s abilities?” He chuckled. “Let me guess. She can fly—like you.”
Sookie looked up at Eric. “You can fly?”
Eric chuckled. “Indeed. But no, Guardian,” he said with a little nod, “so far, we have only covered the very basics related to feedings. However, we both wanted to thank you personally for your hospitality before we did anything else.”
“You must call me Roman!” the vampire said as he affectionately slapped Eric on the back. “Both of you,” he added to Sookie. “And I imagine that no one bothered with other introductions.” He gestured to the others before smiling at Sookie. “Sometimes vampires forget the niceties.”
Eric played dumb about his knowledge of the others. “Correct, Guardian. I mean Roman,” he said when the Guardian looked at him sharply. “Of course, I knew of Chancellor Agrippa by reputation and from paintings of her—though they don’t do her justice,” Eric added, turning his gaze toward the ancient vampires.
As she leered at him, Sookie had to—once again—picture the pimple on Bill’s ass.
“Oh—we are all on a first-name basis here,” Roman winked at Sookie.
“I am Kibwe,” the African vampire said with a bow.
“As my beloved said, we do not use our titles in these walls,” the brunette vampiress purred. “I am Salome.”
Roman walked Eric and Sookie closer to the conference table.
“You both know Nan already—I think,” Roman smirked.
“Indeed,” Eric confirmed.
Roman nodded and then pointed out the others at the table. “The others here are Nora, Tavio, and Dieter,” he informed.
“Nice to meet you,” Sookie said with a cautious curtsy.
“Oh! She’s charming!” Roman boomed, holding out a chair for Sookie to sit in.
“She does have much promise,” Eric said evenly. After getting Sookie seated, he stood behind her, one hand staying lightly on her shoulder.
It was a casual touch, but—as Salome sat down across from her and seemed to be studying her—Sookie was grateful for that touch. There was something about that vampiress that Sookie didn’t trust.
Not at all.
“So, dearest,” Salome said to Roman, “to what do we owe the honor of Mr. Northman’s visit?” she asked.
“Eric. It is only fair,” Sookie’s maker said from behind her.
“Of course, Eric,” Salome said, as if her very voice could caress the man himself.
Once more, Sookie had to work to keep her fangs put away. Bill’s butt pimple. Bill’s butt pimple.
“I have decided that Eric would be useful in helping to ferret out the Sanguinistas in Louisiana,” Roman said almost offhandedly. He looked at Eric. “You learned your interrogation techniques from Godric—correct?” he asked.
“Yes,” Eric responded.
Sookie didn’t like the sound of “interrogation techniques,” but she held her countenance steady.
“But I am in charge of the interrogations. Am I not?” Salome asked with challenge in her tone.
“Of course, my love,” Roman smiled. “Of vampire interrogations.” He paused. “I’ve brought in the Viking to interrogate some humans and Weres I’ve decided to bring in for questioning. I didn’t want to take up your valuable time with such trivial matters.” He looked at Eric. “No offense.”
“None taken,” Eric smirked.
“I’ve been told that you have a special touch with those who are not of our kind.”
“As long as you don’t coddle them too much,” Salome said, looking at Sookie as she said it.
“Oh—I’ve never seen Eric coddle humans—or Weres,” Sookie said evenly.
Roman laughed. “She is delightful, Northman! And outspoken too! No wonder you chose her.”
“I’ve heard a rumor that the Viking didn’t wish to transform her—,” Salome said distrustfully, “that Nan had to command him.”
“Sookie had voiced her preference not to be turned, and—according to Authority Mandate 32.1—no human is to be turned without his or her permission,” Eric responded coolly, though somewhat cautiously.
Salome smiled at Eric indulgently—almost patronizingly. Few could have gotten away with such a look at him. But Salome was over 1,900 years old.
“You seem vampire enough to know when to follow the rules and when to bend them,” she said.
“Salome,” Roman said almost warningly.
“Sorry, Roman,” the beautiful vampiress responded. “I am just wondering about the Viking. He clearly cares for the youngling.” She looked at his hand on her shoulder. “Yet there are—I have heard—complications.”
“Complications?” Dieter asked.
“Have you not heard? Sookie is unique. She has two makers,” Salome said, just as three other vampiresses came into the room.
“Are we late?” the oldest-looking one asked as she sauntered over to her seat like a grand Southern lady.
Somehow Sookie could tell that even though she seemed the oldest by human years, however, the other two vampiresses with her were stronger—older in vampire years.
One of them was an Asian women. Looking at Sookie guardedly, she stayed back from the table a bit.
The third new-comer had obviously been turned when she was in her teens. She was quite pretty, but had a strange energy about her—as if she might suddenly snap if things didn’t go her way. She took a seat next to Dieter and regarded both Sookie and Eric warily before looking at the Guardian.
“This is not an official meeting,” Roman said offhandedly. “We were just getting to know Northman’s new progeny. Eric, Sookie—this is Rosalyn, Hyun-Ae, and Margeaux.”
Eric nodded at the newcomers, and Sookie followed her maker’s lead.
“Your maker is very anxious to meet you,” Hyun-Ae said.
“I’ve met her,” Eric said evenly.
“I mean the other one,” the beautiful Asian vampiress said with a little smirk. “Tell me—why is he in silver?”
“He was planning to kill me last night,” Nan said with an odd mixture of amusement and boredom.
“Was he?” Hyun-Ae asked skeptically.
“Yes,” Nan responded. “If the business with Miss Stackhouse wouldn’t have occurred, I fear that I might have been killed.” She paused. “And it’s so strange. My requested security detail was not—at first—available to me. Only three vampires were initially waiting for me at the rendezvous point before I went to Compton’s last night. Luckily, I was able to solve the problem.”
“Lucky, indeed,” Salome said.
Roman sat forward and looked at Sookie. “So you actually have two makers! How extraordinary.”
“That’s what I’ve been told,” Sookie said, her voice somewhat timid.
“You do not feel your bonds with both?” Salome asked curiously—reminding Sookie of a seemingly sleeping snake. It was those that always did the most harm.
“My child,” Eric emphasized, “does feel a second bond—as do I; however, it is not as strong as mine to her.”
“But it is still there,” Hyun-Ae observed.
“Which is why is it fortuitous that Bill is under silver,” Eric observed. “Otherwise, he would be trying to call her and command her.”
“To do what?” Salome asked curiously.
Through their bond, Sookie could sense that Eric was trying to make a decision. Though he was filled with caution, he answered Salome’s question.
“Bill Compton was a rival with me for Sookie’s affection—when she was a human,” he said. “And he’s never been my biggest fan.”
Dieter chuckled. “What? Are you afraid that he’ll command your child to kill you or something?”
A/N: Well—I hope you enjoyed this chapter. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on this story. Sorry about that—to those who were anxious for updates. I had fun re-imagining the Authority! If you want to learn about the “new” Authority (by reading short biographies for them), click here.
I have the next chapter of this one almost ready for you too, so you—hopefully—won’t have to wait as long for it to post.
P.S. Gotta take a moment to thank Seph for all the art for this story!!!! She’s gone above and beyond (as always). Love ya! And thanks to Kleannhouse for the extra set of eyes. I’ve become dependent on you two! 🙂