Chapter Thirty-Five: Changes
“Godric of Gaul,” Magister Jorge Alonzo de San Diego greets my Maker coolly while I hold Grissom tightly in my grip.
“Jorge,” Godric nods at him with just as mild a temper.
“So, what has earned me an audience with the entirety of the Gaul line?” the Magister asks, sarcastically amused. We have all fallen out of his regard since we have integrated with humans. Currently, I am the one who has offended him most on a personal level by Bonding.
Godric crosses his arms over his chest, “I have joined this meeting to make you aware that I have retained one of the ‘dolls’ from Grissom’s shop.”
Jorge’s eyebrows raise, and I note a spark of appreciation, “Is that right? How is it coming along?”
“Satisfactory,” Godric offers a shrug, but retains his neutral expression. If Jorge had any knowledge of Godric’s past in the slightest, he would have understood not to refer to Godric’s assistance of Camilla as ownership or training. Nonetheless, he is giddy at the prospect of Godric reverting to his vampire heritage.
“I see,” Jorge nods, “and what of the other two dolls?”
“Their separations were still in an early mental break via torture stage, so their bodies had not been physically altered. Therefore, we staged a head-on collision. Both have been taken to mental health facilities,” I explain.
Jorge curls his lips in distaste, “Why did you not destroy all the evidence and be done with it?”
“Their memories have been wiped entirely of Grissom. Compton restored what he could of Grissom’s damage, so there was no need for such action,” I tell him firmly. “With the date of the Revelation closing in on us, unnecessary disposal of corpses is best avoided.”
“Yet, you decided to waste your time staging a car accident, instead of killing them and hiding the bodies?” Jorge asks dully.
“Car accidents are much more fun than burials,” I shrug.
“I see,” He does not appear convinced by my motivation. “Just what spurred you to investigate Grissom’s facility? I have read in your reports you saw to its decommission over a year ago.”
“During my annual tithe analysis, I discovered he had retained the property,” I explain. “He had not put it on the market and I decided to see what sort of use he had been making of it to tax him accordingly. That is when I discovered the dolls.” I do not like feeling as though I am the one on trial, still, I maintain my light, easy cadence.
“Three dolls?” Jorge clarifies.
“Yes. However, since I was only given such a short amount of time to investigate the matter, I have not yet been able to determine how many other dolls he has created in the last year,” I explain further.
“Regardless,” Jorge waves off my explanation, “The North American Council has already granted him a pass.”
“A pass?” I snarl angrily.
Jorge grins at my discontent, “Yes. They do not intend to keep trafficking illegal for the remainder of time. It will be suspended for the next ten years and re-evaluated later. We need experienced and promising doll creators. Grissom fits.”
My hand tightens on Grissom’s shoulder, attempting to earn one last grimace before he is released from my custody.
“Nevertheless, he has broken the law, which annoys the Council. Therefore, he will be fined half a million dollars,” I feel Grissom flinch beneath my grasp. “If you are caught trafficking before it has been restored to legal status, you will be buried in silver.”
“I want him out of my Area!” I snarl, making Jorge raise his eyebrows, “I will not abide a vampire who took a stake to my chest.”
Grissom shrugs, disinterested, “I will move to Area 2 then.” Great, François’ territory. Grissom could exist like a king in that whelp’s custody, I think angrily.
Jorge nods, “Your move will be noted, and François will be contacted about your impending arrival. Are we done here?”
“Quite!” I snarl, shoving Grissom away from me angrily. “I want you out of Area 5 before sunup.”
I cut off his objections, “You will be out of Area 5 by sunup or not even the Council will protect you from me.”
Grissom says nothing more as he takes off running and I watch him disappear into the night. “Trafficking should not be permitted to continue,” I tell Jorge sternly once Grissom is out of earshot.
“Is that you or your Bonded speaking, Viking?” Jorge asks amusedly.
“It is an unnecessary risk to take. Pets and dolls are dangerous forms of entertainment for us to maintain. The media frenzy they have the potential to create would be a complete shit storm and you all know it. Yet, you still believe that in ten years it might be worth the risk?” I rant.
“Do not forget to whom you are speaking, Northman,” Jorge growls.
“I am speaking to a vampire nearly half my age,” I remind curtly. “I am speaking to a vampire three times younger than my Maker! Do you honestly believe a Council and yourself, all comprised of vampires less than a millennium of age, save one, know better? Have you consulted your elders?” I demand. “What has Russell said? What about Joan, Caroline or Phillipe?”
Jorge scowls, “Russell and Joan are Bonded. Of course, the Council would never take their opinions into account on this matter. Caroline and Phillipe have expressed concerns, but it is not their decis-”
“What about Diedre or the Ancient Pythoness?” Godric finally interrupts. “Surely they have not agreed to this ten-year suspension.”
Again, the Magister’s jaw tightens, and I watch as his eyes narrow angrily, “Diedre and the Pythoness declined voting.”
“So, the Fledglings voted?” I demand, completely irate now.
“You are getting out of line, Northman,” Jorge warns.
“You are damning the Revelation before it can even happen,” I accuse. “You are risking the vampire race with your childish yearnings. You want to be out in the public, but you want to keep your nature. You cannot have everything!”
With that, Godric, Pam, and I storm out of the warehouse.
“That was unwise, Eric,” Godric whispers once we are in the car. “You are waging a war with words like that.”
“Then a war is what we will have,” I reply in frustration. “If they do not want the public to see them as malevolent creatures, then they should not condone such malicious ventures.”
“I agree, but it is unlike you to show your hand that way,” Godric says, but I feel he is both proud and amused by my actions.
“I showed him nothing but my opinion. Keep Camilla and Jason close at night. Move into Stackhouse’s apartment, or have him come live at your house until he is turned-”
“He has been considering an earlier turning,” Pam tells us suddenly.
We both look at her in surprise. “Why?” I ask.
“Camilla. What happened to her makes Jason desire to be vampire sooner,” she replies, and I hear a note of admiration in her voice. “We all should have seen it coming. The Stackhouses do not enjoy sitting on the sidelines. Jason wants to be a protector of our… Family. Not protected,” she clearly speaks the word ‘family’ with affection, and I find that I have the same attachment to that word. The Stackhouses have not joined our Bloodline, they have made us a family.
What a wonderful word that is…
“Did you sense any anxiety in him when he told you this?” Godric asks with concern. “Does he feel pressured?”
“I sensed more of an impatience than a concern,” Pam assures him. “He made a few good points about his change of heart. He mentioned wanting to get his yearling phase out of the way before beginning his teaching career. He wants our strength and speed; that the miniscule sacrifices were nothing compared to what he is denying himself currently. Jason is considering coming over after your wedding,” she finishes with a shrug.
I nod while I absorb this new information, “Master, perhaps we should have a few discussions with Stackhouse. Analyzing him during a candid discussion might let us see if he can be swayed.”
“Those Stackhouses can be stubborn and impatient,” Pam reminds me.
I smirk at her words, “How do you think I ended up Bonded six months sooner than I originally agreed?”
All three of us share a chuckle as we arrive at Godric’s home. Camilla greets us at the door shyly and I smile at the fading bruises on her lovely face. After a few anti-inflammatories, the new structure of her bones is visible and I begrudgingly admit that Grissom made her into quite a beauty.
“Hi, guys,” Camilla smiles at us warmly. “How was the trial?”
My face tightens at the sudden reminder. “Not what we had expected,” I confess. Her head tilts curiously and her brown eyes stare with a hint of anxiety. “Grissom was released from detainment with nothing more than a fine. I have banished him from my Area and he is making his way to Baton Rouge as we speak.” Camilla’s face falls into a frown and I place a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You will be safe, Camilla. I promise you are a priority of our Bloodline. Even after you choose to leave us, we will always watch out for you.”
Camilla gives me a soft, appreciative smile, “Thanks, Eric. I don’t know that I’ll ever truly want to leave you guys, though. If you’ll let me stick around, even in the background, I think I’d prefer that. Your wife is so nice. I’d like to stay her friend.”
Her words make me smile, but my only answer is to nod.
“Sookie called,” Camilla continues after a moment. “She wanted to know if we all wanted to go see a movie, or maybe go out and discuss what happened tonight?”
“We could go to that new coffeehouse,” Godric offers. “They have tea,” he assures after her hesitation.
I watch Camilla’s answering smile and take out my phone to call Sookie.
“How was the trial?” My Bonded asks immediately upon answering.
“Frustrating,” I reply. “Is your brother with you?”
“Yup. Do you want to talk with him?”
“No. Will you have him drive you to that coffeehouse you showed me the other evening? Camilla wishes to accept your offer to convene this evening.”
“Oh, my Gawd, Darlin’. Can’t you just say she wants to hang out?” Sookie asks me in exasperation. “I love how professional you sound most days, but you really gotta learn to loosen up your dialogue. People are gonna think you walk around with a dictionary. I’m an English major and I still throw an “ain’t” into my sentences from time to time!”
Her little scolding brings chuckles to mine and my Bloodlines’ lips. “All right, Dear One. I’ll try.”
“Oh, I’ll mark the calendar! My husband used a contraction!” she teases me. “Meet y’all in a bit. Love you.”
“Love you, too,” I reply before hanging up. “They will meet us there,” I tell everyone before turning to the mortal in the room, “Camilla, there is a chill in the air. You should wear a sweater.”
“I’ll grab a jacket,” She smiles with a roll of her eyes and skips to her bedroom that had formerly been Godric’s. Seeing as he does not go to rest and does not entertain guests, Camilla has taken it over.
“Do you think you could keep on taking care of Camilla and raising Stackhouse through his first year with her in the house?” I ask Godric curiously.
“I take very little care of Camilla,” Godric answers amusedly. “It has only been a week, and she is already talking about acquiring a part-time job once her injuries finish healing. I have had to try to dissuade her, but she has said it will help her feel ‘less like a house cat’.”
Soon the four of us are piling into Pam’s van to meet my Bonded and her brother at a coffeehouse called Java Jim’s. There are many college students gathered there, enjoying their winter break, and a handful of younger teenagers who are trying in vain to impress the older children.
I see my Bonded waving at us from the corner booth, the only table large enough to seat all six of us. After we seat ourselves, Camilla manages to situate herself between Sookie and Godric. It makes me tilt my head curiously at how the woman desires his proximity when she is stuck with him most of the time already. Sookie just smiles, places her chin in her hand, and gives her an amused glance.
Conversation begins after the living have their drinks and the story of Grissom’s joke of a trial brings a storm of outraged rants. A few patrons look at us curiously from time to time, but they do not appear to hear what we are discussing.
“So, what does your little argument mean?” Jason asks once I have told them of my clash with Jorge’s disclosure.
I shrug, “Nothing, really. I made my opinion known, but since the argument was only witnessed by those with whom I share a bloodline, he cannot say that I was publicly disrespectful. Privately, I am permitted to express my opinion because I am his senior.”
“Regardless,” Godric inserts, “his opinion might strike a chord of annoyance with the Council. If we were to openly object this intent by contacting other ancients and making them aware of the Council’s plan of merely suspending the roads rather than abolishing them, action will most certainly be taken against us.”
“Which don’t matter,” Jason points out. “What are they gonna do to you? What could they do to you?”
“The proper question is what could they do to you?” Sookie snaps irritably. Jason gives her a sheepish look, and I watch as Sookie’s head snaps to his direction. Her jaw drops, and she shakes her head in something akin to horror. “Jason! You’re… You want to-”
“Sook, what’s the point of waitin’? I graduate college, get my rough year outta the way, and then I start teachin’,” Jason tells her in frustration. “We could start our first years as teachers together. Hell, with your man’s connections, we could probably work at the same school!”
He is not wrong. I could easily arrange that and it has been my intention to do so.
“But,” Sookie sniffles, “if… If I’d known this might’ve been your last holiday season to… To eat I woulda made more of your favorites!” She is crying openly now and Camilla hands her a napkin to blot at her eyes.
“Sook, it’s just somethin’ I’m thinkin’ ’bout,” Jason sighs with a shake of his head. “I have my reservations ’bout makin’ this my last new year as a human. I’ll tell ya what. I’ll do one more Thanksgivin’ and Christmas, so I can be human for your wedding. Okay?” She gives him a rough nod while she swipes at another tear. “Hey, c’mon, you can’t keep cryin’! Ya already got what you wanted!” he teases her playfully.
We all laugh at my future brother’s statement and I plant a soft kiss against Sookie’s temple, “I’ll make everything better,” I promise her teasingly, intentionally using a contraction to amuse her. It works and she scrunches her face, plainly saying without words she knows exactly what I am doing.
My response is to kiss her again and enjoy this time out with my family.
“Sookie?” Camilla looks at me impishly while we sift through a stack of magazines, trying to decide on a new haircut for my newest friend. “What about this one?” She holds a page out for my inspection and I laugh. It’s a pixie cut. “What?”
“Pam would ring your neck,” I tell her honestly.
“I know. I don’t really want to cut off all my hair,” she giggles. “I just wanted to see your reaction. It wasn’t nearly as good as Pam’s will be!”
It’s my turn to giggle, “You got some nerves, Cammie. I don’t think I could prod Pam like that, even for a good laugh.”
That mischievous grin is back, and I gotta admit, Camilla has quickly become my best friend in the entire world. She’s funny and a bit of a trickster. She had swiped Godric’s phone, texted Eric that there was an emergency, and demanded that my Bonded bring me to his house immediately. Next thing I knew, Pam, Eric, Jason, and I were at Godric’s house with the eldest vampire staring at us, convened on his front porch, with an expression of complete confusion. Camilla had popped down the hall with a big grin and said, “Impromptu movie night!” We’d stayed up all night, watchin’ all these old movies I’d brought over for her.
“How’s the new job goin’?” I ask her after a few more minutes of flippin’ through pictures.
“Boring,” she confesses with a roll of her eyes. “My manager at the store stands too close. He was teaching me how to count down my register the first night I closed, and practically stood on top of me.”
I frown, “That’s not appropriate at all.”
“I know,” she groans. “I just don’t know what to do. When he walks me to my car at the end of a closing shift, he puts his hand on my back like we’re walking together. I don’t know how to tell him it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want him to be mean to me at work.”
“Did you tell Godric?” I ask.
Camilla shrugs, “He’ll just tell me to quit. He’s said I don’t have to work, that the Bloodline is happy to support me, but I like having something to do aside from studying. I still don’t know what I want to study in college when I start next fall. Working at the grocery store is so menial, it gives me plenty of time to think and work on my social interactions.”
I nod in understanding, “I get that. It’s real easy to get caught up in the family and forget about the rest of the world. The Kappas invited me to their Valentine’s Day party, and it took a lot of determination to make myself go. I just wanted to stay in with you guys and hang out. Y’know?”
“I really do,” Camilla agrees. “No one will ever really know us like we do.”
“The thing is, though, after I was at the party, I did have fun,” I offer consolation. “So, I totally get why the job means so much to you. It’s like stayin’ connected to the world.”
“So, what do I do about Jim?” she asks.
“What if Jason drops you off for your next closing shift and Godric picks you up? Just tell Jim that your boyfriend’s pickin’ you up? Maybe once he thinks you’re in a relationship, he’ll back off?”
Okay, I know this is a cheap way to get information, but I need to know!
Camilla’s face flushes at my suggestion, and I watch excitedly as she buries her face in her magazine, ‘If only it weren’t a charade!’
Just like that, my suspicions are confirmed. Camilla likes Godric as much more than just a roommate and teacher. My warm, fuzzy feelin’ at this realization is quickly turned cold after I realize this might be a lot tougher to work out than I think.
Godric might resist attraction to Camilla out of integrity for his role in her life. He might neglect her feelings for him out of sheer determination not to treat her like the doll she was supposed to become. A strange shiver runs down my spine. Am I blurring the lines too much?
We finally decide to just let Pam choose Camilla’s next hairstyle, seein’ as she’s done such a phenomenal job keepin’ mine in style. Once that’s decided, we hang out listening to music. Camilla’s found that she’s a Classic Rock girl, and I have fun introducing her to some of mine and Jason’s favorite southern rock bands and songs.
Finally, after the sun sets, Pam appears, and the three of us head to our salon. I need a waxin’, and Camilla’s gettin’ her hair done while Pam bounces between the two of us. When I catch a moment alone with Pam, I decide to ask her about the situation that’s been buggin’ me all afternoon.
“Pam,” I mumble as some wax is ripped off my leg, “do you think Godric would ever… Um…” Pam raises her eyebrows at me, awaiting a completed question. “Do you think he’d ever, maybe, have feelings for… Cammie?”
The vampire blinks twice before her mouth frowns, “I do not know. I am aware of his fondness for her, but I am fond of her, too. It does not mean that those feelings will ever be… Romantic. Why?”
“If he did have romantic feelings for her, would he act on them?” I evade her question with another question.
“Unlikely. Why?” Pam presses.
“But, what if she wanted him to?” I try to dodge again, offering a small hint to avoid flat-out givin’ out my friend’s ill-obtained secret.
“Sookie,” Pam scowls, on to my game and not havin’ any of it.
“I will neither confirm nor deny what I’ve heard,” I stress the word, hoping she catches on that I found out from use of my telepathy.
“I see,” She’s quick on the uptake. “Given Godric’s perspective on his relationship with Camilla, I’m inclined to believe he would see it as an abuse of the situation. He will likely never try to court her since he would see it as taking advantage of her.”
“What if she doesn’t see it like that?” I insist.
Pam’s face hardens, “It would not matter. More than likely, he would insist he give Camilla her own place to put distance between them.”
I frown at this news. Maybe Eric could talk some sense into him?
“I think she would be good for Godric,” I state as another yank of wax makes me tense.
Pam relaxes now that she doesn’t feel like I’m tryin’ to wheedle info out of her, “Perhaps, but anything she feels for him, Godric would automatically assume is due to their forced cohabiting arrangements. Like Stockholm Syndrome,” she teases.
I roll my eyes at that, “You guys can just never accept that sometimes, mortals do know what they want.”
Blinking eyes stare at me in surprise, but Pam chooses not to say anything for the remainder of my treatment. Instead, she wanders back to the salon floor and checks on Camilla. I can hear her squawking orders to our stylist, Ashley, in the back of the salon. I don’t know why Pam doesn’t just do all our beauty stuff herself! She’s such a dictator over them!
“Hey there, my sexy Bonded,” I greet Eric after I fling open the condo door and throw my purse on the entryway table. He hates when I do that, instead of putting it in the nearby closet, but it’s more convenient by the door.
“Mmm, I smell wax,” He grins at me, lookin’ up from his laptop. “Bring those smooth legs over here.” He puts his laptop on the coffee table and pats his thighs invitingly. When I come over and sit with my limbs in his lap, he starts runnin’ his fingers up and down my sinfully smooth skin. “Gods, your skin is always so soft afterward,” he mumbles, squeezin’ my calf.
I gasp as his hands move higher and higher. No matter how many times I’ve felt his hands on me, it never gets old. Probably a good thing since we’re immortals.
He’s massaging my thighs now, and I part them when he reaches for my underwear. With a quick yank, my panties are off, and I moan in anticipation until I hear Eric snarl, “Damn it, Sookie!”
“What?” I frown at him, lookin’ at him starin’ between my legs.
“You ripped all of it off again!” he accuses, givin’ my mons a mournful pat.
I roll my eyes, “It’ll grow back, Eric. Bikini season’s comin’ up! I don’t like havin’ hair down there when I go to the beach!”
“Our next residence will be in Canada,” he grumbles. I laugh, grab him by the hair, and yank his face down between my legs.
“Stop gripin’ and start gropin’,” I tell him impatiently. You can’t rub on a girl’s legs like that and just stop!
My Bonded complies, pleasurin’ me with his mouth until I’m gaspin’ for air, and then he’s flipped me onto my stomach. He pushes into me from behind, and I groan at the altered position. It makes me feel tighter around him and rubs harshly against that sensitive spot inside me. Moanin’ and wrigglin’ beneath him, I cry out when he pierces my shoulder with his fangs. It makes me go wild under him and when it ends, I feel good and sated.
Eric wraps me up in his arms after and I clutch at his forearms, and lay snuggly against his chest, “Mmm, this really is the best life ever,” I tell him.
“I could not agree more,” he whispers in my ear.
“I wish Godric would let himself be as happy as we are,” I murmur.
Confusion seeps into our Bond and Eric asks, “What do you mean?”
“Y’know, in a romantic relationship. Maybe even Bonded,” I say softly, like I’m still contentedly dazed from our couplin’. It takes a lot of self-control to feel as nonchalant as my voice portrays. Can’t let Eric know I’m playin’ him!
His confusion grows and he squeezes my breast contemplatively, “Bonding is more complicated than you may realize, Dear One. It is not a decision, it is a compulsion.”
“Can it be resisted?” I ask curiously.
“It could be, but the circumstances would have to be quite monumental for a vampire to do so,” he answers, and I feel suspicion taking the place of confusion. “Are you thinking of Camilla?” Busted!
“Yes,” I answer contritely.
He sighs and squeezes me tightly to him, “I have been as well.”
His admission makes me turn in his arms excitedly, “Really?!”
Eric looks uncomfortable, “Sookie, it is not our business-”
“We’re family! We’re supposed to mettle in each other’s love lives!” I tell him pointedly. “It’s… It’s a rule! And we’re the only married couple of our family! It’s our job!”
I feel his amusement and it makes me smile. Givin’ his lips a soft kiss, I murmur, “Godric deserves to be happy. Camilla really wants him to give her a chance, but he’s scared it’s not real. He thinks any infatuation she has for him is a result of their teacher/student relationship. Then there’s the whole doll thing, and he thinks he’d be takin’ advantage of her-”
“You have been talking to Pam,” he realizes, and I can hear the entertained annoyance in his voice. I’m really the only person who can walk the very fine line of agitating him and makin’ him love every second of it.
“So?” I ask in as girly a voice as I can, and push out my bottom lip for good measure. He rolls his eyes at me and I kiss his throat. “What’s wrong with worryin’ about my friend acceptin’ his right to be happy?” I kiss his clavicle now and shimmy a little bit as I work myself lower… and lower… and lower. “Doesn’t Godric deserve to be as happy as we are?” His cock is between my breasts, hardening as I deliberately squish it between them.
“Sookie, I know what you are doing,” he growls.
“And your point?” I tease, givin’ him another squeeze.
“As his Child, it is not my place to talk sense into him about this,” Eric reminds me. I stroke him with my tongue. “He is a thousand years my senior. I have no chance of convincing him otherwise,” I wriggle my tongue against the thin slit at his tip. “He will never accept a-a word I say,” Just a little more, I think while I cup his balls and give them a tauntin’ squeeze. “B-but,” Buuuuuut? My tongue teases and my hand squeezes. “I suppose, it would not hurt to try.”
“No, Darlin’, it wouldn’t hurt a bit,” I agree just before enveloping his entire length with my mouth and descending until he’s cradled in the back of my throat.
Over a thousand-years-old, and I am the one who is pussywhipped by my eighteen-year-old Bonded, I think in frustration while driving to Godric’s home alone. Camilla has already left for work, having been driven by Jason for some reason Sookie refused to explain. I feel her at home, smugly studying for exams while I prepare myself to try convincing my Maker to court a human.
I cannot begin to imagine how this conversation will go. Secretly, I am praying Godric uses his Maker’s Command to dismiss me before I even begin.
Pulling into the driveway, I pause momentarily before going to his door and knocking. Godric’s eyebrows are raised questioningly when he answers, awaiting an explanation for my visit.
“Master,” I greet uncomfortably.
“Eric,” he returns, giving away nothing. He waits for me to justify my unannounced arrival upon his doorstep.
“May I come in?” I ask, attempting for an air of resolve. His eyebrows raise infinitesimally higher, but he steps aside and opens the door further to allow me entrance.
Stepping inside, I clear my throat unnecessarily.
“Eric,” Godric sighs, “whatever it is, just say it.”
“I have it on good authority that Camilla desires much more than just your mentorship,” I blurt. When Godric’s jaw clenches and I sense agitation showing on his face, I know I only have moments to make my case. “However, before you command me to leave,” I continue quickly, “consider your reasons for resisting-”
“Get out,” It is not a command, still, it causes my body to tighten.
“If you feel that you would be abusing your status-”
“Out, Eric,” he says again.
“-then consider that perhaps you are not the only one-”
“I told you to leave!”
“-who is finding it difficult to keep yourself from wanting,” I finish in a rush, and Godric stares at me angrily. Yet, he is not pushing me out the door, he is still not commanding me, so I add, “Why does it have to be more than something as simple as you are wanted?” When he has no reply, I press further, “You could make the same argument for Sookie and I. She could have found herself falling for me because of the security I brought to her and her brother. I could have believed she felt beholden to me for my generosity to Jason. The difference is, I had the confidence to know I am desirable.”
“You think I lack self-esteem?” Godric barks on a surprised laugh.
My shoulders lock, squaring my body off in preparation for the attack my next words might bring, “I did not die as a man who thought himself unworthy, unloved, or unwanted. Did you?” Godric punches me in the jaw, sending me sailing toward the wall. It is only spared destruction when I use my ability of flight to slow down my momentum. I hate using that gift in these instances, but use it nonetheless, because the shift in velocity and rapid deceleration tends to break bones.
“Master,” I wince while one of my ribs slips back in place, “for a moment, imagine that you are worthy of Camilla and wanted by her. I know from Sookie’s rants on Camilla’s behalf that she is propositioned continually at her job at the grocer’s. Yet, not a single man has turned her eye. Why do you think that is?”
“It is circumstantial,” Godric snarls. “If she had stayed with you or Jason then-”
“Then her feelings for you might have taken longer to develop because she would have gotten to know you slower than she had,” I argue. “Give her a chance. Give yourself a chance, Master.”
“Where did you get the spine to speak to me this way?” Godric grumbles, but I see he is more irritated with himself than angry at me.
“When have you ever known me to lack a spine?” I demand a bit indignantly.
“You know what I mean,” he sighs.
I offer him little more than a shrug and state, “I have a mettlesome Bonded. If you gave yourself a chance, you might have one, too.”
Godric bows his head with an expression I have never seen on his face. Only love could strip away thousands of years of experience and bring a surge of uncertainty to a vampire’s face.
Since Godric finds words have evaded him, I tell him in a reassuring tone, “You did not create that mischievous side of Camilla. You did not make her into a competent mathematician. Now, why do you think you made her fall in love with you? Proximity is supposed to breed contempt, not affection,” I tease at the end, making Godric smirk.
“I suppose,” Godric whispers, “I am a little frightened.”
This admission makes my eyebrows rise, “Frightened? Of what?”
“When I must tell her all my sins,” he says quietly.
“Sookie still learns mine,” I tell him. “She is constantly learning some new, abhorrent thing about me, but she still loves me. Sometimes I scare her, sometimes I upset her, but she still loves me.”
“I have a thousand years’ worth of sins you do not,” Godric protests weakly.
“If she is meant to be your Bonded, those extra thousand years will mean nothing to her,” I reassure him.
“I have not courted a woman in…” Godric pauses as if he is counting before he barks on a laugh. “Have I never courted a woman?” he asks me amusedly.
Thinking back, I cannot recall a single instance. Godric and I were quite the same in that regard, not letting emotion get involved with our sexual needs. Although, my Maker indulged far less often than I did.
“How do I change our relationship?” Godric asks me, at a loss.
My hands raise at my own loss, “This is Sookie’s territory, not mine.” When I see Godric reach into his pants’ pocket to extract his phone, I ask in surprise, “Are you calling my Bonded for advice?”
He only offers a nod when the phone begins ringing, “Sookie-”
“I’ll be over in ten minutes!” she says excitedly before hanging up.
We are left to stare at each other blankly until ten minutes later, I hear Sookie’s BMW pull into the driveway. I must resist the impulse to check the car for a new scratch or dent. She only just passed her driving exam, and every day I curse Camilla for teaching her how to drive. My insurance is going through the roof! If I am lucky, she will get her license suspended.
“This is so exciting!” Sookie cries after she flings open the door and hugs both myself and my Maker. “Oh, we need to change your clothes!” she states, running to Godric’s room to raid his closet. We both remain standing like statues while she hops back and forth with clothing, holding them up to Godric and shaking her head before tossing them aside. Soon the entire floor is covered in clothes until she hands him a button down, jeans, and pair of boots. “Wear this,” she commands, shoving the articles into his arms.
Godric shrugs and begins stripping in the middle of the living room, forcing Sookie to squeak and cover her eyes. When he flashes me an amused grin, I know he is paying her back for the mess she has made of his home.
“I am dressed. Now what?” Godric asks once Sookie turns around and looks him over. She runs her hands through his hair a few times, deciding how it looks best. She mumbles to herself and walks around him. “Sookie,” Godric moans, “how do I make Camilla let me court her?”
“Oh, my Gawd! I’m gettin’ there!” Sookie protests with that whine of hers that I find absolutely adorable. Her accent is too sweet.
“All right,” she finally nods at Godric’s appearance approvingly, “Now, all you gotta do is pick her up at the store when her shift lets out. Meet her by the door, so you can walk her to the car, and make a big show of it, so that sleaze of a manager gets the picture.”
“Make a show of it?” Godric asks with a frown.
“Y’know, hold her hand, maybe kiss it a coupla times? It always makes me melt when Eric does that,” Sookie blushes, and I find myself taking her hand and kissing the back of it. “Ya big flirt,” She winks at my actions.
“So, that means I want to court?” Godric’s frown deepens.
“No, that’s just to get her pulse goin’,” Sookie explains. “Oh! Park your car in the shopper’s area, not the employee side. You don’t want Jim hangin’ ’round while you make your big move!” Sookie inserts quickly.
“Courting!” Godric bellows.
“I’m gettin’ there, I’m gettin’ there!” Sookie tells him. “So, when you open her door for her, pull her to ya real close and just tell her all soft and husky how you feel.”
Godric looks at me with wide eyes, “How I feel?”
“Not like some grand declaration,” Sookie clarifies. “Just speak from the heart, be a little vulnerable, and don’t kiss her until she leans in for it. You’ll regret it if you don’t wait.”
“Will I?” Godric looks lost.
“Yes, you will, because you’ll always worry in the back of your head that she didn’t want you to, but went along with it anyway,” Sookie tells him sternly. “I know you, Godric, and you will always assume the worst about yourself.”
I must admit, my Bonded really does understand my Bloodline very well. She knew why Godric had called her without more than reading his name on her caller I.D. She knew his hesitations and doubts, and she reassured them in her own funny, sweet, ‘Sookie’ way.
There is no denying that beyond her telepathy, Sookie is quite adept at reading people and vampires. Or perhaps it is matters of the heart she understands so well.