Catalyst Ch. 43

Chapter Forty-Three: Love Trap

(Part Four of the Wedding Arc)

Eric’s POV:

Stop wiggling,” I snarl as Jason fidgets against my working hands.

Stop talkin’ against my ear then,” he grumbles back as I fold his tie accordingly. Godric is watching us in his usual amused way while I show Jason how to tie a bowtie. I am standing behind him, showing him how it is done in the mirror and apparently, this extended proximity to me is making him uncomfortable.

Your sister likes when I talk in her ear,” I chuckle at him and do not miss the fledgling clench his fists. “Oh, he still becomes flustered when I refer to his sister’s sexual preferences,” I laugh harder.

You’re pushin’ some buttons, y’know,” he growls at me, and I begin to hope that Godric will leave this young one’s physical training to me. After all, impervious immortality or not, my Fellow Child will need to learn how to fight!

I merely was curious if your metamorphosis cued more family traits to appear,” I finish his tie and step away.

What does that even mean?” Jason asks as we put on our tuxedo jackets and make our way for the hallway. The women will be meeting us at the estate, giving Jason enough time to scan the vampires for any hints of a threat before the nuptials. This way we can redirect Pam before they arrive and make our own escape. After all, Godric or I could remove Jason in the blink of an eye, but removing Sookie, Camilla, Pam, and Jason would not be as easy a task among so many vampires, even at our advanced ages. Only Russell or Joan’s intervention would give us the hint of a chance.

Believe me when I say you do not want to know,” I grin at Jason, but my mind is actively focused on the upcoming events. Not the wedding. Sookie is already my wife as far as I am concerned. This entire gathering is merely an excuse to allow her the opportunity to be wed in her heirloom dress and obtain photographs of the occasion.

Regardless of my love for her, if there is the vaguest hint of an attack, we are evacuating. I should have never announced this marriage to the vampire community, I regret for the millionth time since agreeing to Sookie’s suggestion.

Had we kept this a small, intimate wedding with just her human connections, we could have left this cloak and dagger shit behind us for the day. Instead, Sookie had tried to share what was only supposed to be for her. She had pressed that it was as much my wedding as it was hers and now it is neither my wedding nor hers because it has been taken over by my Child and my Queen.

My Maker takes the spot behind the wheel of the car and I sit beside him in the passenger seat as Jason makes himself silent in the back. Both are acutely aware I am distracted with all the possibilities of tonight.

Your signals?” Godric asks of Jason as he accelerates away from the valet.

Two finger tap on my lips for ‘enemy,’ hand over mouth for ‘imminent threat,’” Jason sighs as he closes his eyes and leans back into his seat. “I still say there should be a signal for ‘get the fuck outta dodge!’” Jason declares.

If you were to discover something that dire, I am certain Eric or I would recognize it in our link or your face,” Godric points out and I am inclined to agree. Anything Jason could hear that would force us to evacuate would be quite recognizable within the Maker/Child link.

I am only vaguely aware of the conversation occurring beside me, but even ‘vaguely’ means ‘entirely aware.’ There is a continual throbbing in my throat as though words wish to burst forth. This uncomfortable sensation spurs those words to form in my mind. Admit everything – be free!

I have considered that, too,” Godric sighs beside me.

Master?” I look at him in surprise.

I can feel your impatience, Eric,” Godric laughs. “I must confess that I feel much the same. I have agonized over what decision is best. On one hand, admitting our gifts might spur a spontaneous attack out of blind disbelief, fear, and anger. On the other hand, holding back some of our gifts might create a retaliation from those trying to exploit preconceived vulnerabilities.”

Well, if no matter what choice we make the outcome could still be a fight, why not get it all out of the way at once?” Jason asks from the backseat. “Rip it off like a Band-Aid and accept it, y’know? We’ll send the ladies off early, give the announcement, and dash.”

Are you prepared to be staked and torn limb from limb already, young one?” Godric asks him in exasperation.

Ain’t sayin’ it won’t hurt. But I’d rather get it over and done with instead of gettin’ drawn and quartered every few decades for the next century or two while everyone figures nothin’ works,” Jason replies with a laugh.

A fair point,” Godric admits with a sigh. “Let us follow the path of a mostly full disclosure. Nothing about the origins of these gifts, only the extent of them. Jason, you remember departure codes?”

Yeah, yeah. I know my ABC’s,” Jason grumbles with a sigh. He greatly dislikes being treated like the child he is, but newborns are flighty at best. They are easily distracted and commonly do not absorb all they are told. I must confess; however, Jason retains what he is told extremely well. Apart from his occasional whining and inability thus far to glamour, he is quite a promising progeny. More so than I gave him credit prior to his change.

When we arrive at the estate, Jason dutifully falls behind Godric and I. He follows like an obedient shadow and is just as silent. Much better than I gave him credit, I think amusedly. We tour the ballroom, greeting the vampires, politicians, and local celebrities who have convened. I introduce Jason to a few guests I know once he has cleared every vampire present of violent intentions.

This is my brother-in-law, Jason Stackhouse,” I introduce him to Joy Mayweather, Channel 12’s meteorologist.

Oh, my God, you’re Joy Mayweather,” Jason stares open-mouthed at the beautiful woman. “I watched you all the time!”

Past tense?” Joy pouts at him in faux sadness.

Well, I, uh, switched jobs, so I’m asleep when you’re on now,” Jason tells her smoothly. “Of course, if you wanted to drop by and give me a private forecast, I’m up around seven.” He gives her a salacious wink that I swear he picked up from Pam. I know Stackhouse was no virgin before he met Pam, but it surprises me how well he flirts with such little practice in his past. It must be the fairy in him.

I do not miss the telltale sounds of my Bonded arriving and being lead upstairs to finish preparing. Of course, I would not need to hear a thing since I already feel her presence within the compound.

We will be starting shortly,” I murmur to Jason. “You should go to your sister.”

Oh,” Jason frowns and looks down at Joy, “save me a dance later?” He gives her a swift kiss on the cheek before heading toward the stairs.

Your future brother-in-law is a real cutey,” Joy laughs and touches her cheek where Jason had kissed her.

His sister is far cuter,” I laugh. “Enjoy yourself, Ms. Mayweather.”

Joy pouts again, “So formal. You knew me rather informally before you got all domesticated.”

Only Sookie could have domesticated me so entirely,” I tell her and she crosses her arms over her chest.

Lucky girl,” Joy laughs and steps away. “I better go and try to snag a good seat! I can’t wait to see a Lothario like you tie the knot!”

I am anything but a Lothario, I think in annoyance. A satyriasis, yes. Lothario, no.

With a sigh, I go to wait at the “altar” with Godric. Sookie only has Pam and Camilla acting as her bridesmaids, so they opted to walk down the aisle together. That way, Godric could stay by my side and Jason could escort his sister down the aisle.

This decision had annoyed Sophie-Anne’s Child, Grace, because she felt with the grandness of their ballroom, Sookie and I should have six or seven bridal party members each. Sookie could have easily scrounged up that many close acquaintances, but I doubt I would have felt the urge to bother. Aside from Jason, Godric, and possibly Russell Edgington, there are not that many males I find particularly close enough to stand up at my wedding.

Russell would have gladly donated his Bonded to my cause, a rather plain man named Talbot whose beauty is in the fact he reins in Russel’s eccentricities. Simultaneously, Talbot has been known to exacerbate that same madness.

Russell had been collecting humans for some time, trying to “perfect the bouquet of their blood” by force feeding them very specific diets. Talbot was one such collectable until Russell fell into some sort of love with him and Bonded just shy of five hundred years ago. It took the vampire world by complete surprise because if there was a vampire we never thought would “fall” so far as to Bond, it was Russell.

Of course, they thought the same thing of me, I think happily. Now look where I stand!

An uncharacteristic grin widens across my lips when I hear the queue for my Bonded’s entourage to make their entrance.

Sookie’s POV:

There’s so many people out there!” I whisper nervously to my brother.

Don’t worry ’bout it, Sook,” Jason squeezes my hand very softly. I know his extra strength makes him worry about accidentally hurting me, but he treats me like I’m made of glass sometimes.

I look all right?” I ask again.

Stop fidgeting!” Pam snaps and straightens the collar of my dress. “Do you know how many calls I had to make to find enough fabric from the same era to fill out this dress?” she asks for the tenth or maybe hundredth time today.

I must admit, she did do an amazing job. She took a farmer’s daughter’s wedding dress from 1952 and turned it into a dress made for a princess. Or at least that’s how I feel, I think as my fingers gently trace the lace of the high neckline. A plain, white slip of a dress with lace overlay. That’s all this dress was, but two women were happily married in this dress and I will be, too. Maybe I’ll have a daughter who will be married in it someday…

My cheeks flush at the thought and a huge grin spreads across my lips. I really wish Ludwig could give me an expected time frame to become pregnant!

I want babies something awful! I can’t even pretend that I don’t know that I know it’s a possibility!

Sook,” Jason gives my hand a little tug, “you comin’ or goin’?”

Oh!” I blush, realizin’ that I’d almost forgotten about the wedding when I started thinking about kids.

I don’t exactly know what I had expected my wedding to be like, but it wasn’t as magical as I thought it would be. Probably because we’re already Bonded, or maybe because this whole wedding got blown out of proportion by Pam and Grace. It will make gorgeous photographs to look back on, but that’s all.

This beautiful vampire is already mine forever. His love will always be mine and I don’t need a wedding to know or prove that. Wish I’d figured that out a year ago, I think bemusedly as I reach the end of the aisle and Jason lifts my veil, gives me a kiss, and puts my hand in Eric’s.

I wish I could tell him right now I was sorry for makin’ such a big deal about this whole thing and I wish I could thank him for puttin’ up with it. When the Pastor says his words, and asks us to recite our vows, I realize that I can tell him.

Eric,” I begin with a small laugh, “thank you for going through these things for and with me. I can’t wait to go through even more with you by my side as my husband,” I send him all of my Love, and I feel his hand squeeze mine as he returns it. “I promise to love you. I promise to fight with you and make up every time. I promise to listen to you, even if I choose to do the opposite of what you suggest. And I promise to acknowledge every time you’re right. Like right now. You were right,” I feel his amusement and that knowing sensation. He knows exactly what he was right about. “I love you.”

Eric leans in like he’s goin’ to kiss me, but he stops and just grins instead. I feel his finger tracin’ the back of my hand as he begins his own vows.

Sookie,” he starts, “I promise to love you all our remaining time. I promise to protect you when you need to be protected and listen to you when you need a consoling ear. I promise not to be too smug when I am right. I promise not to say I told you so when you do the opposite of what I suggest,” I roll my eyes a little at that one. Brat, I think lovingly. “And, most of all, I promise to be understanding when you must find your own way and not have me draw out a map. I love watching you explore and discover the world around us and I am grateful for that sense of adventure inside of you. So, I promise to love the fight inside of you, even if it means fighting me from time to time.”

I melt on the inside at that last promise. Eric and I rarely fight, but we’ve definitely had our arguments. Sometimes they’re silly, like him askin’ all the time when the last time I ate was and me snappin’ and tellin’ him I’m not a child who needs to be told when to eat!

In no time, the rest of the ceremony is over and Eric’s lips are pressed against mine. I wrap my arms around him and confess, “I really hope this doesn’t go all night.”

He snorts and wraps his arms around my waist, “Do not worry. It will be over by midnight. Humans leave at eleven, and then only an hour of vampire hobnobbing.”

I’d rather be hobbing your nob-”

Sookie!” he hisses and I realize from his tone I’d just forgotten that every supernatural including my brother heard that comment.

Oops,” I grimace with a slight blush. “Well, harm’s already done. Wanna go do me in the closet?”

Eric sighs and presses his forehead against mine. “You will be the final death of me.”

That’s the dream,” I reply easily as he takes my hand, shakes his head, and leads me to the table of honor. Our family spends the hour or so pretending to eat while shoveling their food onto mine or Camilla’s plates. It’s cool, we need the calories, but I’m surprised none of the vamps in the audience are curious how two small girls like me and Cammie can pack away so much food!

Then again, I realize, most of them have probably forgotten how much humans actually eat…

After dinner, Eric’s a good sport and lets me shove cake down his throat for the humans. I see several vamps make uncomfortable faces and I feel bad that Eric will have to choke the little bit back up later. I had told him I would have happily just mashed it against his face, but he said that wouldn’t have been appropriate at this kind of wedding.

Now we have our first dance together as husband and wife. Surprisingly enough, it’s the first time we’ve ever danced together in front of people! He’s been teachin’ me to waltz because I wanted our first dance to be to “Time in a Bottle.” There’s some little flares thrown in with some dips and spins but, for the most part, we just sway in time to the song and enjoy the dance itself.

All through our dance, the weirdest sensation creeps in my brain. I want this night to end and escape back to the strange, amazing world the bloodline I share has created. Yet, I want to keep dancin’ and bein’ wrapped in Eric’s arms. Eventually, I remind myself that I don’t need to bottle my time because I have infinite amounts of it. There’s only two things that could prevent me from having endless nights and days with our bloodline: the end of the world or our own demented screw up. The latter seems very unlikely, but the former is inevitable.

Then again, I don’t know how immortality will fair for me. I might get bored before the end of the world.

Sookie,” Eric laughs, “stay in this moment with me. You are thinking too far ahead!” He’s laughin’ harder and presses his forehead to mine.

Sorry,” I whisper. “It’s weird, knowin’ I’ll have an infinite amount of something. Time, you, my brother, and the family you’ve given us. I guess now with Jason’s turnin’ and our wedding… It just feels more overwhelming.”

There is nothing to be overwhelmed by,” Eric tells me softly. “Nothing has changed, only your last name.”

I grin up at him and hold him tightly as the song ends and those around us clap. Since our wedding party is so small for such a big wedding, we opted out of a bridal party dance, and go straight into the father/daughter. Only, it’s a brother/sister dance instead.

This is another man I’ve never danced in public with. Aside from a few little hug and sways, I don’t think Jason and I ever danced together other than to practice for this moment. Neither of us had any idea how to move together and we’d had the toughest of times picking a song. We’d agonized for several weeks, flipping through song after song. Honestly, there’s just nothin’ for brothers and sisters to dance to! Everything is just so sappy! Jason and I swore we were done with all the water works after Eric threw us a lifeline and we crawled out of the hell we’d been thrown in. We wanted our dance to signify what we’ve become, not dwell on what we had to overcome to get here.

Thankfully, my best (living) friend had the solution. Camilla had flung a CD at us and that had included the song ”We’re Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes. It was a song that focused on childhood friendships and had a much more lighthearted approach to our relationship. It let us recall a lot of what we experienced before we lost our Gran, even some good memories from before we lost our parents, and it reminded us that we were that lighthearted connection once more. Fun, sweet, and happy.

That’s the song we bounce and swing to now, and I can see that the number has taken many people by surprise, particularly our old CPS agent. I can hear her thinking how she would have thought Celine Dion’s voice would be making an appearance, but I’m glad to disappoint her. Who knows, maybe if I was marrying a different man, my brother and I would be dancing to a different song. I’m just grateful that I’m married to Eric, and this is the song I feel is right to dance to with my brother.

Even though I doubt after a thousand years I’ll ever forget the rough times Jason and I had to endure, I don’t think I’ll ever look back at them negatively. So many good things came from those tough days that it almost felt like we were earning our happily ever after.

In a way, we did earn these blessings and deep down, I know we’ll have to continue to prove that we deserve them. The good thing is, seeing the grinning vampire that swings me around the large ballroom to a way too poppy song for such an event, watchin’ another vampire smile with impatience and love from the sideline, and all my family winking, rollin’ their eyes and nodding in amusement; I know we will continue to deserve our happiness. No matter what the world throws at us from here on out.

As the song comes to an end, so does the moment. Even with my mostly human senses, I can hear the door to the ballroom open over the chatter, and I can feel Jason stiffen in my arms.

What’s wrong?” I ask nervously.

Jason shakes his head and murmurs through his teeth, “Ancients. Like, super old. Oldest I’ve felt.”

My brow furrows. Jason met Russell Edgington last night and I had been told he was the oldest vampire in attendance.

As we stand in the center of the dance floor, the bloodline circles as the human guests flood the dancing area durin’ the music change. Everyone is dancing around us as the bloodline circles me and Camilla and two vampires approach.

One of them looks old. She’s got almost white hair, but her olive skin is smoother than I would have thought for such a frail lookin’ body. She wears a pair of sunglasses and clutches the arm of the most exotic woman I have ever seen.

The second vampire has jet black hair. Her eyes are big and dark and she probably has the darkest tan I ever saw on a vamp. Her lips are pouty and a perfect shade of reddish brown. She looks like an Egyptian queen! I think of Anck Su Namun from ”The Mummy,” and the resemblance is striking.

Thorn,” Godric nods his head much lower than he usually does to the two new vamps. “Pythoness.” I have to resist lettin’ my jaw drop. Diedre Thorn is literally the oldest vampire in existence. She’s roughly four-thousand-years-old and the Ancient Pythoness is somethin’ like two-thousand and five-hundred. It’s crazy to think that in a ten-foot diameter exists nine-thousand-years’ worth of experiences.

If I might be introduced to your new progeny, Godric of Gaul,” The Pythoness requests, but it sounds more like a command.

Eric pushes Jason forward and I watch worriedly as the older lookin’ vamp takes Jason’s hand. She places one against his face and brings his hand to her heart. I watch Jason swallow nervously, a human habit he hasn’t even begun to break.

Do you know me, Young One?” The Pythoness asks and for some reason, my brain tickles. Somethin’ about how she says it, like she’s askin’ somethin’ else.

Yes, Ma’am,” Jason nods, even though I’ve realized that the Pythoness is wearin’ sunglasses ’cause she’s blind. His tone says way more than the answer to her question. It’s like a language within a language. A code I’ve heard before, but haven’t heard for a while.

OH! I realize quickly that the reason this “language” sounds so familiar is because it’s the language I’ve spoken with Jason and Camilla up until recently. Up until they were immune to my telepathy. The Ancient Pythoness knows what Jason can do!

Thank you, Ma’am,” Jason whispers softly and I can see his body tensin’.

And this must be your bride,” Diedre Thorn looks at me with more interest than any vampire has given me so far. “What a little angel.”

Aw heck, they totally know! I give her my big, nervous smile, that has my Bonded becoming worried. I take Eric’s hand and try to squeeze it reassuringly while he tries to sooth me through our connection. It’s almost like he’s tryin’ to say, it will be all right. I take comfort in that.

Nice to meet you, Ma’am,” I nod to Diedre and glance at Eric cautiously. Meetin’ all these vamps is new to me, Jason, and Camilla. All three of us are more than a little confused about all the customs and expectations.

Eric places his arms around my waist, pullin’ me against his side. When I glance up at his eyes, they are speakin’ silently to Diedre. The pair stare for what feels like forever and the older vamp finally lets her lips tilt into the smallest of smiles. Eric relaxes beside me and it’s like a treaty has been formed.

Everyone sorta just nods at each other and the two ancients walk away.

What was all that about?” I whisper to Eric.

Later, Dear One,” he replies.

A terrible tightness forms in my stomach as his fingers stroke my back comfortingly. Fear is chokin’ at my throat, and my wedding day is feeling more and more like a war meetin’. The remainder of the reception, I maintain a big, terrified smile and can only pray that I don’t look completely crazed in the photos.

On to Chapter Forty-Four!


Catalyst Ch. 42

Chapter Forty-Two Old, New, Borrowed, Blue (Part Three of the Wedding Arc)

Eric’s POV:

I have only a split second to cover Jason’s mouth when an explosion of Lust shoots through the Link between Child and Maker. Godric was intentionally keeping himself accessible through his progeny to keep us all calm and assured throughout the tumultuous evening. It had been working, too. At least it was until his Bonded sent him such strong yearnings that a whelp like Jason practically roared into my hand while his fangs penetrated my palm!

Northman, what is the meaning of this?” Sophie-Anne demands shrilly while Jason’s eyes are wild. I feel Godric closing off his connection and then Jason’s responding plummet back to neutrality.

My Master’s Bonded,” I reply easily. “She sent for him and Jason is unaccustomed to feeling such consuming emotion other than thirst.” Admittedly, even I was momentarily stunned by the intensity. Camilla is quite possibly very drunk right now. Or the little theory we have been throwing around between the three of us has now been confirmed… “It would seem that our females are returning to our hotel. We should meet them,” I tell our queen.

Sophie-Anne’s posture relaxes and I see the Berts easing back to their respective corners. Once more the room fills with murmurs and conversation, having frozen for that split second when Jason lost his composure.

I’m sorry, Your Majesty,” Jason lowers his head properly after I release his mouth. “Never felt anythin’ like that before,” he explains embarrassedly.

Sophie-Anne waves off his apology, “Every whelp commits some sort of faux pas during their first gathering. I can only imagine the intensities you must experience with having a Bonded Maker. I will see you all again tomorrow evening. Congratulations again, Northman,” She nods her head toward me and I answer with my own.

Thank you, Your Majesty,” I answer, taking Jason’s arm to lead him out of the hall. Godric is waiting for us at the entrance and gives us a bemused, but unapologetic lift of his shoulders. “I knew you would want to leave after that,” I laugh.

Yes, I definitely wish to return to Camilla, not only from curiosity, but to answer the call,” he chuckles in return.

Grabbing Jason by his shirt collar, we immediately take to the sky upon exiting the mansion. In no time, we land atop our hotel and make our way inside. We have managed to beat the women back so we take the opportunity to sweep our rooms for listening devices again.

No surprise, I think in exasperation after I find three in my room alone, one in Pam’s, and Godric finds several in his. Normally, we would leave the listening devices and refrain from speaking, but, now with our impervious immortality, none of us desire having to die for the day.

When I feel Sookie approaching, Godric, Jason, and I meet them in the lobby where Sookie looks at me with relief. “Oh, good! Will you help us with the girls?”

Girls?” Jason asks excitedly.

They’re all passed out, Jason,” Sookie rolls her eyes, laughing.

Damn,” Stackhouse groans, leads the way to the car, and takes one of the mortal girls into his arms. Pam is already holding the one sorority girl who tried to seduce me last year. I take the blonde, perky one from Sookie’s softball team while Godric takes the other brunette from the sorority.

Nice veil,” I tell Sookie amusedly and she quickly yanks the cheap, tulle decoration off her head.

It was a bachelorette party,” she huffs indignantly.

Did you have fun?” I ask while we receive many confused looks from the staff for all the unconscious women.

We had a great time,” Sookie assures me.

I am glad,” I smile down at her. “I really did like that veil,” I tell her with a wink. She blushes in a way that still surprises me. After all the things I have said and done to her, I would have thought nothing could stain her cheeks like that. Every day I still make her blush is a blessing. I find myself praying quite often that, to some degree, my Bonded may always remain sweet and innocent.

Once we have left the mortal women strewn across the beds of their shared hotel room, Jason, Godric, and I return to Jason and Pam’s room while Pam, Sookie, and Camilla return to my and Sookie’s room. I know Pam has every intention of beginning her makeover of my bride the moment the door is shut.

I am surprised you did not take Camilla to your room first,” I look at my Maker with a smirk.

Godric shakes his head and laughs, “I do not believe she is ready to speak of what happened this evening. Had we been alone together, it would have been to communicate, not to copulate.”

You seriously take all the fun outta fuckin’,” Jason grumbles. “Copulate? Ya really gotta talk like that?”

Stackhouse,” I sigh as I grip the back of his neck and shake firmly, “you really must learn how to speak to your elders.”

Maybe so, but if we don’t plan on comin’ outta the coffin, then really, I don’t. I mean, I’ll still show you respect like I’d show any brother of mine, but I’m still gonna mess with ya like any brother of mine, too,” he says with surprising insight.

Godric laughs as the youngest of our bloodline makes a valid point, “Then, brother, would you like to tell us what had you so out of sorts in the early stages of the party?”

Jason sighs, “Can you tell if a vamp is near?”

To a degree,” Godric confesses.

Jason’s lips purse and he shakes his head, “Hold on,” he grumbles, heading to the phone. I see he is dialing my room number and am not surprised to hear my Bonded answer.


Sook, it’s Jason. Can you tell if there’s vamps other than our family in the hotel?” he asks her.

There is a long pause before Sookie replies, “Yes, but they’re not on our floor. Pam already did a sweep of the room and didn’t find any listening devices.”

Yeah, we got all those before ya got back,” Jason tells her. “So, no one’s close enough to be listenin’ in?”

Not that I can tell. If you’re worried about lettin’ something slip, write it on paper, and then burn it afterward,” she suggests. I know this is how Sookie used to communicate with Camilla when Godric or I were in earshot and I shake my head at her cunning. I do believe she picked it up from vampires, however. We are apt do such form of communicating among large numbers of our kind.

Good idea. Thanks. Have fun tonight,” he tells her.

Behave,” she replies and hangs up.

Jason sets the phone back in its cradle before picking up the notepad and pen. He tears off a sheet, jots down a quick message and holds it up for me and Godric to see.

~Telepath now. Vamps only. Couple yard radius. Family immune.~

Apparently, we can now hear the entire world if we desired, I think in surprise. Also, if that eruption of Lust is any indication, we also have a witch in the family. Of course, these conversations will have to wait until we are back in home territory. There is also the fact we will need to make some of our immunities known soon. The question is when.

Picking up the pencil, Godric asks the question that must have been plaguing him all evening:

~What was the Magister thinking that upset you?~

Jason takes the pencil from our Maker and responds.

~Stupid shit about Gahl falling for a doll. I don’t know for sure. He was thinking in Spanish, and I wasn’t all that ready for it. Nothing sinister, just mean shit.~

Godric’s reply to this news is to roll his eyes heavenward and shake his head. My own reaction is to realize that we must teach Jason and Sookie as many languages as possible if we want to fully utilize the security their gifts could bring.

Without a word, I take the note from Jason’s hand and quickly set it ablaze. Holding it pinched between my fingers, I let a stream of embers trail behind me on the way to the bathroom. There, it is put in the sink and extinguished, unable to reveal its knowledge ever again.

We are developing into quite the family,” Godric states after I return. “However, we will save this conversation for later. Currently, it is not advisable to discuss aloud. That said, I encourage you to keep your family informed as to any dangers you may sense, even the smallest thing. Let me or Eric determine the legitimacy. You merely need make us aware.”

Jason nods in understanding, but I see him become distracted by the clock.

Something on your mind, Jason?” Godric asks patiently. We are both aware of the short attention spans of newborns.

Oh,” Jason falters, then laughs. “I don’t mean to impose none, but do you think I could have a moment with Eric before I die for the day?”

Of course,” My Master agrees with a slight nod before leaving the room.

What may I do for you, Jason?” I ask of my Fellow Child. It is strange to go from an only Child to an Elder Child after so many centuries.

Jason gives me a rather uncomfortable smile as he walks to the bedside table and takes out a small box, “I ain’t so good at wrapping, and I couldn’t ask Sooks to do it.” He hands me the box and sits nervously on the bed.

Frowning, I open the small flip top and look curiously at its contents. What appears to be a ball bearing soldered to a tie pin stares up at me.

Another Stackhouse heirloom,” Jason tells me. “It’s a musket ball my Great-great-great Grampa took to the chest. Nearly killed him. Field nurse tended to him, older lady well past her prime, and he promised to marry her if he lived. Well, he did, and they got married. Had one son, miracle kid since she was almost forty when they got hitched. Anyway,” Jason is growing increasingly uncomfortable, “story is that she was the love of his life. He said Cupid was outta arrows that day and shot him with a musket ball instead. Said he was glad it was a musket ball ’cause that made sure he had enough lead in his pencil to knock up his older wife.” That comment actually makes me let out a huff very much like a laugh. “So, we pass down the bullet from son to son so we’re sure it’s true love and that we got enough lead in our pencils to knock up our wives. I sure as hell ain’t gonna need it now, so I thought you should have it,” he finishes lamely.

I am honored that you are giving me something so dear and important to your family,” I tell him sincerely.

Well, y’know, you and your bloodline have really done a lot to make me feel like one of y’all. I just wanted to make sure you feel like you’re my brother, too,” He looks embarrassed, so I think of the kindest thing I can do in that moment. I ruffle his hair and shove at his head.

That will do, little brother,” I tell him.

Sookie’s POV:

So,” Camilla starts rattling off, “we got the something old because of your dress and the something new is that sexiness Pam’s gonna tie you into,” She points to the corset laying on the bed. I glance at it a bit impatiently, but it will literally be hours before I’m gettin’ dressed. “We just need to borrow a bit of blue,” Camilla finishes thoughtfully.

Currently Pam’s givin’ me a last-minute waxing right here in the middle of the hotel room!

I have her something borrowed in my room,” Pam tells us.

What’s that?” I ask.

My shoes. They will go well with your dress,” she declares. “They are from about the same era.”

Wow! Thanks, Pam,” I gape momentarily before sitting up and awkwardly hugging her just as she yanks off another strip of wax. “And please, please, please don’t find some way to make an excuse to have me bald down there. It’s Eric’s wedding, too and you know he doesn’t like me bald.”

Fine,” she grumbles annoyedly and I can’t help but laugh.

Who would have thought I’d have a pair of girlfriends I didn’t mind strippin’ down in front of and pourin’ hot wax all over me? That just sounds plain, old wrong, I think with a grimace.

Once I’m finished being all waxed and plucked, I’m steppin’ into the shower at 6 A.M. In twelve hours, I’ll be walkin’ down an aisle, surrounded by a ton of people I don’t know, ready to legally marry my Bonded!

Don’t we still need something blue?” Pam asks as she starts putting mountains of product in my hair, drying it a bit, adding more product and continuing to dry it some more.

Garter,” Camilla replies distractedly, “it has a blue base.”

Excellent, so that stupid tradition is handled,” Pam twists my hair a little too roughly and I flinch. “Oh, please,” Pam drawls impatiently, “I just ripped hair all off your body and you are going to flinch from a little tug like that?”

I grumble a little at Pam’s hostility, “What crawled up your butt and died all the sudden?”

You did not seem preoccupied or concerned about your brother’s situation this evening,” Pam replies coldly.

Shrugging, I tell her the truth, “There’s nothin’ to be done about it. I’m not tryin’ to sound cold, but there’s nothin’ I can do presently. We can’t talk openly about it till we’re back in Shreveport, so makin’ a big deal ’bout it won’t make it any easier. Honestly, I think growin’ up without a buncha people knowin’ helped me a lot. I got to develop close relationships I might not have if others had known what I could do.”

Pam seems to relax a bit at my explanation and I think it’s cute how she is so protective of Jason. It warms my heart to know he’s got someone watchin’ his back.

Don’t worry, Pam, I’ll help him when we get home,” I assure her further. “Right now, though, there’s someone else I think has questions about her own supernatural awakening?” I look at Camilla who has been watchin’ our exchange like a deer in headlights.

You know,” Camilla pouts, “you say you can’t hear me anymore, but then you say stuff like that. So, what is it? Can you still hear me?” she asks with amused eyes.

I can’t hear you anymore,” I assure her with a laugh. “That doesn’t mean I haven’t learned your face in the time I could hear you. So, do you wanna talk about what happened at the club or what?”

Camilla releases a huff of air, blowing her wispy brown bangs from her eyes, “I just don’t know what it means? I don’t feel what I felt now. For just a moment I could feel everything around me, I could feel it changing and growing stronger. Now… I feel like I always do,” she tells us.

As I have said,” Pam begins, “I am not all that trained with the occult. However, from what I do know about it, the clearing of the mind and the focusing of a single energy is quite important. The alcohol removed your inhibitions and you became in tune with the general mood of the club. The thing is, you are Bonded. Vampires feel things very strongly as you know. What you did was probably infuse the club goers with vampire lust and that is what brought on the orgy. It is quite the same as to what would have happened if every human in that club took a lick of Godric’s blood.”

Oh,” Camilla’s eyes widen in surprise. “So, it was a fluke?”

Well, the response was, but your magic is not a fluke. You are indeed a natural witch. Now it will be a matter of training you to control your power. No need to rush. You have plenty of time and in less than a century, you will be more powerful than any witch alive,” Pam tells her.

“What does that mean for the bloodline?” Camilla asks excitedly.

Pam becomes thoughtful for a moment, “There are many advantages to having a friendly witch on hand. They are adept at creating barriers, bringing fortune and good luck, or something as covetable as blessings of protection. You could quite possibly fill the small cracks in our defense. Imagine if you could perform a reassembling spell? It is mostly used on inanimate objects, but it could work quite beautifully for us. Also, enchanted fire… We could never be frozen,” Pam’s eyes grow distant. “Of course, just those two things I have mentioned are extremely difficult and part of the “myth spell” group. No single witch has ever been able to perform them and when done in a coven, they have been more of a parlor trick than anything else. Imagine five or more witches having to chant for three hours to reassemble a watch. I could take my time piece to the mall and have it fixed in half the time while shopping in the meantime.”

Camilla’s lips purse thoughtfully as she takes in Pam’s explanation and following rant. “The most powerful living witch…”

Yes, witches must study a long time for their power, and then surrender it to the natural order of death,” Pam tells us in her sagely manner. It’s a rare moment for us to witness our friend showing off that she is, in fact, wise. Normally she’s one of the girls…just more bored. “You will not be forced to give your power back.”

So, I guess that means I’ll have to learn how to live benevolently?” Camilla asks slowly.

Pam makes an expression that’s more of a sneer and says, “Benevolence? There is no such thing. You will find that every choice you make has both a positive and negative impact. Anything you do is open to interpretations by those effected.

No, I would not aim for benevolence, Camilla,” Pam tells her, but I feel that it is aimed at both of us, “I would aim for becoming benign. Make as small of an impact as possible until you feel too strongly about something to resist and always remember there are ramifications no matter how admirable your intent. ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ is a saying for a reason. Remember that.”

I think I always will, I swallow hard. My older friend has made me realize something very important. As a future teacher and as a future mother, I will be shaping the minds of this world. Forever. I will impact every future generation until the end of time. Depending on the knowledge I impart, I could give a corrupt mind the power and know how to harm others. I could educate a future mass murderer or war criminal!

Okay, okay, calm down, Sookie. Eternity is a long time to worry about what if. Chill, I tell myself and take a deep, calming breath.

The remainder of the mornin’ is a bit grim as Pam’s given me and Cammie way too much to think about. She and I eat our breakfast in thoughtful silence and my mind is miles away from the wedding as I am stuck on the future. Even though I told myself not to dwell, I’m findin’ it awfully hard.

It’s not until after lunch when Pam’s doin’ our nails that the tension finally seems to break. Camilla starts actin’ like her goofy self and has me and Pam in stitches. Okay, she has me in stitches. Pam is just rollin’ her eyes at us with that smirk of hers.

Around two, we’re watchin’ movies on pay-per-view and I’m doin’ my best to enjoy the movie while Pam yanks and tugs my hair up. That takes ’bout an hour and a half to do for all three of us and then she spends forever on everybody’s make-up! I swear, I’m about ready to run out on this big princess wedding, grab the family, and head to the courthouse! I better have the most amazing wedding photos after all this nonsense, I think in exasperation.

Of course, all that frustration melts away when it’s finally time to be in my wedding dress. I don’t know if it’s ’cause the dress is so important to me, or because Gran and Mama finally showed up in spirit, but I finally feel excitement instead of annoyance toward this wedding.

I wish you were here doin’ my hair, Gran. I wish it was you who put on my make-up, Mama. I wish it was you two liftin’ this dress over my head, but if it were… Then I might not have my new sisters. I love you both so much. I wish you could be here with me in body and not just spirit, but thank you. Thank you for giving up so much so that this could be the life Jason and I experience. I promise I’ll cherish my days. I promise not to take them for granted, even if they aren’t numbered. Because moments are precious, and even after one thousand or two thousand years… Some moments don’t come by again.

Eric’s POV:

I snort on a laugh when Jason jerks out of his daily death. He is several hours early, but I must confess that it is probably difficult for him to remain dead for the day when the sun does not force him to do so. Like putting a toddler down for a nap, I think amusedly.

Welcome back, Jason,” Godric chuckles as he straightens his tie. “You should shower and start getting ready.”

Jason nods, mildly disoriented after his rest, and starts stripping away his clothes as he heads to the bathroom.

Have you made a decision about our circumstances, Master?” I ask of my Maker while I button my shirt cuffs.

Godric sighs and pauses in tying his tie. “I have my reservations about taking action during your wedding. So many vampires who could take offense gathered in one room? We would be lucky if we do not put our new powers to the test.”

Very true,” I agree in disappointment. Like Jason and Pam, I am impatient to wander about in the sun unrestricted. We take chances from time to time, but the freedoms we are denying ourselves become more difficult to resist every day.

However,” Godric continues and I must resist looking too hopeful, “the longer we wait, the more questions will be asked regarding the circumstances of how we came into such power. The less we are forced to disclose, the better.”

Have you decided what information you will give?” I ask.

It is my hope to leave it at ‘day walking’ and nothing more for now. Let it be known to the court that we desire to not come out as vampires due to our new abilities,” Godric explains. “Assure the queen we are still at her disposal. It would be in our best interest not to be ostracized by the vampire community before the Great Revelation. Let them view us as a new tool and pray that the Ancient Pythoness either sees nothing of our deceit or chooses to remain silent about it.”

Would she do that?” I ask curiously.

Godric nods solemnly, “Yes, I can think of circumstances that would encourage her to keep our secret.”

My lips turn into a frown as I pull on my tuxedo jacket, “War.”

Yes,” Godric stares blankly into the mirror in front of him, “and we are on the side she wants to win. I cannot fathom something as large as this has escaped The Pythoness’ attention. There are very few reasons she and Thorn have kept their silence.”

My jaw tightens further, “They oppose the Council’s Amendment to the Trafficking Ban.”

Even though the whelps on the Council cannot possibly stand up to Thorn, there are plenty of well-aged vampires who would gladly support them. Thorn is quite possibly a target if she stands in any opposition.”

Which is why she and The Pythoness opted not to vote,” I groan with realization. “The Pythoness knew we would object and left us to clean up this mess; to keep Thorn out of danger.”

Godric smiles at me in that amused way only he can manage in such abysmal situations. “That is the very conclusion I have drawn. Also, a certain Errand Boy for the Pantheon implied as much, if not more.”

Is that right?” I sigh and straighten my tie as Godric moves from the mirror to sit on the bed.

Before I Bonded to Camilla,” Godric confesses, “He said there were paths he needed us to follow that we could only walk because of our abilities. He also said we would gladly walk them as they came upon us.”

As I place my new tie pin, I consider what Godric is implying. We will pay for our new gifts, and Endymion did nothing to warn us until after we had made our decision. That little bastard, I think angrily. He herded the entire bloodline down this path, hiding behind some grand gift, but still expecting compensation!

We should have been warned,” I snarl angrily.

Godric smiles bemusedly at my outrage, “He implied that he has bargained with your Bonded before and that she is quite impossible to force ultimatums upon. Regardless, he did mention that we would be on the same side as him, perhaps he will not even need to directly interfere? There is always the chance we will choose the path he desires without any Divine Intervention,” Godric points out.

I suppose,” is all I manage to grumble. It comes out sounding much more petulant than I would have preferred.

Shall we keep that little secret between the two of us?” Godric asks with raised eyebrows.

Ya mean the three of us, right?” Jason calls as he exits the bathroom, rubbing a towel briskly over his head.

Are you able to keep a secret from your sister?” Our Maker asks with raised eyebrows. He seems quite disbelieving that Jason is capable of this feat.

Sure, I can… Now that I’m a vamp, at least,” he laughs and throws the towel over a nearby chair. “Y’all can show me how to tie a bowtie, right? I ain’t ever worn one,” he confesses as he begins pulling his clothes on. I still marvel at his lack of shyness with nudity. Of course, I realize that being part of a sports team for most of his life would chisel away the cultural phenomenon regarding discomfort with nudity, but seeing as his sister took quite an interesting amount of time to lose her own shyness toward just me, I find Jason’s comfort amusing.

I am surprised,” Godric confesses. “You usually prefer being forthcoming with your sister.”

Jason shrugs, “You could always use your Maker’s command to stop me. I figure I’d prefer you didn’t. Besides, I’ve known Sooks longer than any of you ever will. I remember things about her she don’t even remember ‘cept through me and I gotta agree with the Voice of God on this one. Sooks don’t like ultimatums and she’ll throw a damned fit when and if she’s told Endymion set her up. It’s better to pose it as a request and if Endymion’s right about us wanting to take his side anyway, there won’t be no need for a disagreement.”

They catch on so quickly,” I smile, feeling slightly bemused. Was it just only two years ago I met these siblings? With the leaps and bounds they have grown, it is amazing to consider. Gone are the lost, clinging children who could let no one in but each other. Now, strong, adventurous youths stand among us. Naïve, guileless even, but intelligent and vigilant. Despite our strengths and immunities, they hold fast to our secrets, knowing that spoken truths are dangerous. It is one thing to know; it is entirely something else to admit.

On to Chapter Forty-Three!

Catalyst Ch. 41

Chapter Forty-One: Special (Part Two of the Wedding Arc)

Camilla’s POV:

Oh, Godric looks pissed, I think nervously while he and this vamp I don’t know glare daggers at each other. This whole night has been one giant fustercluck. Jason’s been jumpy and nervous, like an addict coming down off something. Pam’s been worried about him all night. Godric feels frustrated and angry, and Eric… Sookie’s probably the only one who really knows what’s going on in Eric’s head. Godric’s told me a million times, despite knowing what Eric is feeling, he never knows what the hell his Child may do.

Everything about tonight does not bode well for a beautiful, catastrophe-free, wedding tomorrow. I’m not talking about serving the wrong wine catastrophe, I’m talking beheadings and multiple murder catastrophe. Even though I don’t really understand the entire situation, it is obvious that a war just might break out in this ballroom at the drop of a hat.

Master,” Pam nudges her way into Eric’s line of sight, “it is about time for your Bonded to meet with her human guests. Shall I take her and Master Godric’s Bonded now?”

I frown after Pam maneuvered her way into the peacekeeper role. It’s totally not her style, but getting Sookie and me out of the line of fire is probably a good call. After all, if there’s one thing that could make either of our men lose their shit, it will be this Magister Asshat talking about us like we’re cattle!

Yes, of course,” Eric replies a little coldly. I’ll be glad when this whole wedding is over. I just hope no one ruins Sookie’s special day!

Hey, Sookie,” I whisper while Pam starts ushering us out of the grand hall, “is it just me or was it frigid in there?”

North Pole frigid,” she agrees sadly, running her hands briskly over her arms as if she was cold.

Forget about it,” Pam tells us. “Everyone will play much more nicely tomorrow when there are human politicians and what-not attending. This evening, you witnessed a rather… intense vampire gathering.”

What was so intense about it?” Sookie asks the same question that’s on my mind.

Three of the four Bonded vampires of North America were in attendance this evening. Their combined ages are literally over six-thousand years. If Joan had been here, there would be nearly eight-thousand years’ experience between the four of them,” Pam looks at us amusedly.

Sookie and I are left wondering when Pam doesn’t really explain anything more of the situation. Okay, so Sookie and I married a couple really old guys. What does it mean?

I find out exactly what it means once we are safely in the Escalade and driving off the grounds of the Queen’s estate.

Imagine that the fifty vampires you met all hated humans,” Pam tells us. “Now imagine that four vampires really loved humans and had more than enough strength, speed, and skill to murder all fifty of those vampires in under thirty minutes?”

Okay, that explains the tension.

I didn’t realize humans were so looked down upon,” Sookie whispers sadly.

Pam shrugs from behind the wheel, “I do not like humans, either. I do like you two, though.” Sookie and I laugh at Pam’s comment, but our laughter turns to confused murmurs when Pam pulls over into a gas station. “Wait a moment.”

Sitting quietly, my best friend and I watch, becoming more and more confused after Pam takes a small wand out of her purse and begins waving it around the car. It lights up at the dashboard, then again in the center console of the car. It’s only when Pam rips out two, small, electronic devices I realize the car’s been bugged while we were at the estate.

Pam unceremoniously crushes the transmitters, then does another sweep of the car. She finds another transmitter in the trunk and disposes of it before sweeping one last time, coming up clean.

Are you kidding me?” I ask in alarm.

Sophie-Anne fears a coup. As soon as the car was out of our possession it was bugged,” Pam shrugs. “Only a fool would not think to sweep their vehicle after such an incident.”

Well, color me foolish!” Sookie laughs.

You are young still,” Pam assures her. “Youth and foolishness are natural companions.”

When we are on the road again, Pam drops a major bombshell on us, “Jason is a telepath now.”

What!?” Sookie yelps in surprise while my jaw slings open. Great, I’m officially the least helpful person in the family!

He discovered it this evening. He can only hear vampires it would seem. Thankfully, as Camilla is immune to your gift, Godric, Eric, and I are immune to his,” Pam explains. “His range is very short. Only a few yards’ in diameter now, but I am sure it will grow just as yours did.”

Poor Jason,” Sookie whispers.

At least he only hears vampires,” Pam tells her. “There are far fewer of us than humans and the two-natured. As a matter of fact, there are whole states and countries where no vampires reside. However, like your gift, his must remain a secret as well.”

Of course,” Sookie agrees quickly.

I wonder if I’ll learn something useful, I think sadly. Currently I feel like the odd-man out. Everyone has superpowers to contribute to our Bloodline, and I’ve only just earned my GED and started classes at a small community college.

Okay, okay, I’m being a little hard on myself. I’ve technically only existed just shy of a year now, so, of course, obtaining my GED is impressive. Regardless, it really pales in comparison to what the rest of the family can do. I just don’t feel like I’m pulling my weight, or that there’s no weight left for me to pull. Between Jason and Sookie, we won’t miss a single enemy. Godric and Eric could level a small city by themselves in a few hours, and Pam… Makes them look fabulous while they do it!

You okay, Camilla?” Sookie asks me after I’ve been quiet for a long time.

Yeah, I’m good,” I reply, but even I hear my self-conscious hesitation. Sookie gives me a you-better-try-harder-than-that look and I sigh, “I just feel kind of worthless.”

Why is that?” she asks carefully.

I want to help, too,” I explain.

Sookie and Pam remain quiet, thoughtful, I think. At least they don’t scramble to make excuses for my lack of contribution, or the fact that I will never have more to offer than my love for Godric. Pam might not have an edge yet, but with her impervious immortality, she will eventually become just as destructive a force as Godric and Eric. She will become more in time. I will always be the weak, non-contributing, family member.

Who knows?” Pam finally speaks. “In time, you may discover something that benefits us as a whole. After all, Grissom would not have taken you if there was nothing special about you.”

What?” I look at the back of her head in surprise and maybe a bit of indignation. “What does that mean?”

Pam glances over her shoulder at me, “No offense, Camilla, but your scent is only moderately more appealing than any other human’s. Grissom does not just make dolls out of any random human he runs across. He only modifies and turns exceptional ones into dolls and that is usually because of their taste or special abilities.”

There’s nothing special about me,” I protest.

Perhaps not any more. We did interrupt Grissom’s procedures. It’s quite possible that during the restoration process Compton took, he accidentally lost something Grissom intended on restoring after your base memories were erased,” Pam tells me patiently.

Like what?” I wonder aloud, trying to fathom what it could have been that made me special.

For the second time that night, Pam stops the car and turns to look at me, “Like the ability to manipulate and channel energies.” I stare at her in confusion. “A witch.”

Godric’s POV:

I glance at Jason with increasing concern. Eric’s own cautious and quick looks only increase my growing worry. There is a high probability Jason’s stress is due to the unfamiliar surroundings, or even the strain of maintaining silence around many superior vampires. It is difficult to tell, but I am beginning to berate myself for turning him so close to the wedding. I should have stood firmly and told him and Sookie the change would either need to occur sooner than Thanksgiving or after the wedding.

Knowing what a verbal creature Jason is, I understand the largest factor of his stress is probably due to having to keep quiet, but I cannot deny this sort of reaction is far more disconcerting. He is all but shaking, and I feel his stress clearly within me.

It is this stress that has me acutely aware of his actions within the room. It is why I focus intently after Bill Compton approaches Jason and strikes up a conversation.

How are you enjoying your reception party?” Bill asks of Jason several yards away.

My newest progeny gives Bill a nervous smile, “It’s not what I imagined, that’s for sure.”

Bill shrugs and tells him after I turn away as not to be seen staring at Jason, “It is not common to have parties merely because a new vampire was made, but considering Godric of Gaul’s age as well as the fact he has only created two progenies in his entire existence, it is quite the event.”

I can see that,” Jason laughs.

So, what do you think about your new existence as vampire?” Compton asks him.

Jason pauses, and I assume he gave his usual shrug, “It’s pretty cool, I guess. I hate hearin’ everything, but everyone says it eventually becomes white noise. Bein’ part of a Bloodline is pretty badass, too. Like havin’ a big ol’ family again. Used to it just bein’ me and my sister. Now I got Eric, Godric, Pam, and Camilla, too.”

There is a slight hesitation when Compton speaks again, “Do you miss your sister?”

Miss her? She’s only been gone an hour!” Jason chuckles.

Excuse me?” Bill replies in surprise.

Sookie? Eric’s Bonded? That’s my sister. Shit, she’s the whole reason I asked to come over in the first place. Godric was good enough to turn me, so I wouldn’t be beholden to Eric. That way, if Sooks ever needs to vent ’bout her man, she can still come to her big brother.”

You are the brother of Northman’s Bonded?” Bill repeats. “That is why Godric created you?”

“Yeah,” Jason answers, sounding nearly as confused. “You didn’t notice both us have the last name Stackhouse?”

Compton sounds amused when he answers, “We all assumed it was for property purposes. Maybe you wanted to keep some of your belongings, therefore, bequeathing them to Northman’s Bonded, and then used her name for your new persona. It is a common strategy when a turning is planned.”

Oh, well, no. Sookie’s my real sister, not a pretend one,” Jason assures him, “and Godric likes me well enough that he kinda put raising me in Pam’s hands, but he’ll babysit from time to time. Like right now. I think I do all right stayin’ outta trouble, but glamourin’ ain’t comin’ natural to me, so I kinda need to be babysat.”

It took me a few months to become competent at glamouring,” Bill tells him. “After that instance when everything began making sense, I became quite adept at it. Perhaps you will be the same.”

Maybe,” Jason offers sullenly.

I must admit as Jason converses with Compton, the atmosphere around us becomes less and less critical. There is a distinct dissipation of unease and I realize that suspicions were running rampant while every vampire tried to determine what made Jason Stackhouse so special. They are quickly realizing that he is nothing but an unimportant, decorative peace. A gift, as it were, to my true progeny. Stackhouse shows little excellence by comparison, and coming to find he was only turned because of his relation to my Child’s Bonded is quelling concerns of an overthrow.

This overall relief washing over the room even seems to forgive me in my relaxed upbringing and lack of formality with him. No doubt my rule over him would be called into question under normal circumstances. However, all are ignoring Jason’s casual nature and seeming lack of respect all because there is comfort in the knowledge a war is not about to erupt within the ballroom.

That’s why Godric came and moved to Shreveport, too. He knew I didn’t wanna leave my sister, and I gotta stay with him for awhile before he can let me loose. My Maker’s a real cool guy,” Jason continues laughingly. “I feel like a spoiled kid, y’know?”

I see,” I hear the smile in Compton’s voice. “Have you met Queen Sophie-Anne yet?”

Yeah, for a little bit. We got introduced when I first got here,” Jason tells him. “She seems nice for a lady vamp, but, then, all I got to judge by is Pam. Let’s just say ‘sweetness’ is not in Pam’s vocabulary, so I guess any lady vamp might seem nice by comparison.”

That comment actually makes me snort on a laugh, and Eric openly grins. There certainly has never been a progeny quite like Jason! His mere presence at this shindig is lightening the atmosphere to near brightness. Conversations are increasing in volume, I hear the occasional laughter that is normally absent within a room full of vampires. Perhaps Sookie is not the only one who brings levity to our kind. Perhaps vampirekind could be brought into the light, with or without the sun.

Of course, there will always be those who resist that light, I think when I see Jorge skulking around the edge of the ballroom. He looks disgruntled by the easing ambience in the room and seems intent to plunge it back into teeming hostility.

What is he up to?

Camilla’s POV:

Sinvy! Kristin, Leslie, and Piper!” Sookie cries excitedly when she jumps out of the car that’s not completely stopped and propels herself into her college friends.

I can’t wait to make friends, too, I think amusedly while Sookie hugs and kisses the girls’ cheeks. Pam comes to a stop, so I can get out and join them before proceeding to park the car.

Thank y’all so much for makin’ the trip down here. I’m sorry we switched it from Shreveport to New Orleans,” Sookie tells them all apologetically.

It’s okay,” Piper giggles. “It’s not like you changed it last minute.”

Besides, I’ve never actually been here before,” Kristin tells her. “It’s cool to have had an excuse to come.”

Yeah, and Cynthia got us all down here,” Leslie points to their former Sorority President.

So, what are we doing tonight?” Piper interjects excitedly. “There’s so many bars to hit up-”

Sookie’s underage,” Cynthia reminds her.

Not tonight, she’s not,” Pam interrupts when she reappears after parking the car. She hands Sookie a fake ID that could fool a cop and smiles, “I will make sure you have fun.”

WOOH!” The Sorority girls cheer, and Kristin grimaces.

I did not forget you, either, but you are giving that up after tonight,” Pam sighs when she hands over another ID to Sookie’s only other underage friend. I already have my re-established identity, and my license is only fake because Camilla Gaul doesn’t actually exist. “Hello, Cynthia,” Pam smirks at the oldest of the humans in the group.

Hey, Pam,” Cynthia replies. Her face goes bright red and she looks nervously at her Kappa Sisters. I don’t need to be a telepath to know that some craziness happened between these two and apparently, Cynthia would prefer no one else in the group knew.

Sookie’s face falters during this brief exchange and I must admit, it really must suck having to listen to people remembering sex with your friends and relatives. I can only imagine what she must feel whenever she runs into one of Jason’s lays.

While Sookie keeps her girlfriends distracted with picking out the binge-drinking route, I turn to Pam and quietly ask, “What’s up with this whole witch thing?”

Pam looks at me appraisingly before she shrugs, “It is a thought Eric and I have been throwing around. We had both been wondering why Grissom had taken you at all. You had no special abilities and your scent wasn’t one that would have turned a high price, but if your body is naturally conducting, then that would be very useful, indeed.”

More info, please,” I urge her to enlighten me further.

There are two ways to become a witch, Camilla. You can study to train your body and mind until you can channel and distort energies, or you are born with a natural ability to do so,” Pam explains patiently, “A witch’s blood tastes moderately better than a human’s because even on a cellular level, a witch has become efficient at letting magic flow through them. This leads to a better tasting meal to us. Almost a year later, you still smell much more palatable than your average human. Had you been a witch who had studied and trained to become one, your nicer flavor would have faded once your exercises ceased so abruptly. It has not, and that has led Eric and I to believe you are a natural witch.”

Why would any of this make Grissom take me?” I ask breathlessly.

Pam gives me a surprisingly sympathetic look for her, “An untrained natural witch is very much like a puppy. They can be trained to do very bad things because they do not know any better. Like necromancing, or if they are infused with enough vampire blood and stimulants, they could be transformed into Seers. A Seer who is enslaved by blood could be a huge catch in our world. However, natural witches are rare, even more rare to find an untrained one. Most find some sort of draw to the occult and work up resistances to glamour. Not immunity like Sookie’s, but they are much more difficult to persuade. Usually we can feel that resistance and must work them through easier commands before getting to what we really want from them,” she explains.

How would I go about finding out if I’m this natural witch thing?” I ask a bit excitedly. “What might I learn that would benefit our Bloodline?”

We could find an established witch to have it confirmed, and I suppose you could tutor under a high priestess, or even join a coven. Although, your affiliations could make that difficult. As for how you could benefit our Bloodline, I do not know. I have not studied the occult all that much. Eric and Godric would know better than I,” she confesses.

GUYS!” Sookie calls ahead of us, waving her arms in frustration. “Why are you dillydallyin’? We got fun to have!”

I laugh while Pam sighs and we increase our pace to catch up with the other women. We are being led into our first bar of the evening, and all must show ID’s to get in.

Once we are all seated in a noisy nightclub, Cynthia takes one of those cheap veils out of her bag and pushes the combs into Sookie’s hair. I resist an eye roll, and am just grateful that Sookie can’t hear my thoughts any more. I’d probably be the worst company right now because Pam gave me a lot to think about and my mind is anywhere but at this party.

Even as I’m grabbed by the arms and dragged to the dance floor, my brain is wrapped tightly around these supposed energies I allegedly control. What was I in my past life? Did I have any power at all? Or is Pam just trying to make me feel better?

That last question makes me a bit resentful. Not toward Pam, but toward myself. I’m supposed to be out having fun with my best friend the night before her wedding. Instead, I’m standing like barely more than a statue while she dances around me.

Time to snap out of it and show them what my real power is, I think bemusedly. There’s one thing I have on all of them and it has nothing to do with magic or any other sort of personal gift I may or may not have.

Six tequila. No training wheels,” I tell the bartender. He quickly pours the shots and I think my previous self might have been a bit of a partier because I expertly carry all six of them to our table.

Sookie seems to have discovered I left and comes skipping back to our table with her girlfriends. “What’s up? Where’d you go?” she asks worriedly.

Got us some shots,” I tell her with a smirk, laying them into two rows of threes.

Oh, tequila doesn’t agree with me,” Leslie blanches worriedly.

They’re not for you,” I laugh while I get behind one of the rows. “Ready, Bride?”

Ready, Maid of Honor,” she laughs and gets alongside the other row.

You guys aren’t doing three shots of tequila in a row!?” Kristin wails in alarm.

Of course, the college girls have no idea that our living immortality makes it a challenge to get drunk. We need three shots of hard liquor every half-hour to even maintain a buzz if we’re going to be dancing and burning it off. I’m just grateful we can still get our drink on!

It doesn’t take long for the alcohol to kick in and soon Sookie, her girlfriends, and I are on the dance floor once more. We’re bouncing and jiggling to the music.

It’s sometime around two or three in the morning. We’re at our third nightclub, but probably our fifth or sixth building. God only knows how many shots of tequila it’s been for me and Sookie. I know the college girls are trashed when Cynthia begins dancing rather close to Pam, and the vampire is just grinning amusedly to herself. She places her hands on Cynthia’s hips and just lets the young woman move however she wants.

Mmm, I wanna move like that on Godric, I think, then realize that Mr. Cuervo is making me a little frisky. I focus my lusty desire toward the dance floor and start swaying my hips. My hands flutter about my body as I pretend the breeze they create is my Bonded’s touch. Twisting my hips a bit more needfully, I continue what must look like a partner-less lap dance in the middle of the floor. Dancing and drinking feel so good, I moan a little bit when I feel my body getting hot, soft, and wet.

A loud moan carries over my head and I blink my eyes open to see Sookie and Pam standing confusedly among the throng of people. Everyone is gyrating and moaning loudly to a beat that does not coincide with the music. Every so often, an impassioned cry rings through the room and people fall to the floor, wriggling in what looks suspiciously like an orgasm.

Cynthia is grinding hard against Pam’s thigh. Leslie and Piper are making out and touching each other. Kristin has jumped up and wrapped her legs around some random guy. What the hell is happening?

All at once, the floor erupts in a shout and everybody but me and my family members fall to the ground in a dead faint of pleasure.

That was interesting,” Pam comments while the music continues to thrum, but every person in the club is lying on the floor, passed out.

What happened?” I ask, looking at all the panting bodies around my feet.

That was a grand mal energy manipulation, is what that was,” Pam comments when she lifts Cynthia over one shoulder and hoists Kristin from her “dance partner’s” lap and over the other. I grab Leslie by her wrists while Sookie grabs Piper and we drag the two girls toward the door.

Why didn’t it hit us?” Sookie asks curiously.

Pam pauses, looks at her with raised eyebrows, “Because we are all immune to each other’s powers.”

Sookie frowns and then gasps, “Oh!” She looks at me for a moment, and then laughs, “Sorry, tequila is stealing my deductive reasoning skills.”

I did that?” I realize with a bit of shock. Great, I have the power to start orgies.

Once we get our passed-out companions in the Escalade, Pam gets behind the wheel and Sookie sits in the back with the others.

Why all of a sudden like that? Right after you tell me I can do it?” I ask of Pam from the passenger seat.

The timing was a bit coincidental. It was the atmosphere,” Pam explains. “With alcohol and music, it was only a little push for you to be able to manipulate energy on such a large scale. Your own uninhibited state probably helped also. Mostly, I think it had to do with the fact you knew on a small level you could. It was almost like you were subconsciously spreading your wings.”

What does that mean?” I ask her nervously.

Pam grins at me, “It means that if you can do something like that with only a modest effort, you could be very powerful once you are trained.”

I don’t know how to interpret any of this, but something in the back of my brain excitedly screams, you’re special like the rest of the family!

On to Chapter Forty-Two!

Catalyst Ch. 40

Chapter Forty: Gifted (Part One of the Wedding Arc)

Pam’s POV:

Jason,” I hiss at the newest member of my bloodline as he leans closer to the door. I knew this was a terrible idea!

I can hear them,” Jason whispers, his eyes aglow with excitement, and he licks the door.

Stop it,” I snap at him, rising from my seat and grabbing the fledgling vamp by the collar of his shirt. He looks down at me through narrowed eyes. “You have to get used to heartbeats. I knew two weeks wasn’t enough to acclimate you before the wedding!”

How can you stand hearing that?” he practically moans and leans away from me and back to the door. “It’s like when Gran would ring the dinner bell to get us to come back inside-”

Jason, focus,” I give him a firm shake. “I know there are more hearts beating in this hotel than you are used to, but you have to keep your composure.” Stackhouse has been mostly isolated with me at my condo. Sookie and Camilla visit daily for short bursts, acclimating our newest bundle of fangs to being around living, breathing, blood circulating creatures. However, working with his sister and her best friend only offers a modicum of training in his impulse control. It is easier for him to ignore cravings from his sister and Cammie. This is not only because he cares for the both of them, but mostly because they are Bonded to ancient vampires, and the aura they put off makes fledglings immediately recoil. It is a preservation instinct for youngsters to avoid Bonded humans.

I thought I was doin’ just fine,” Jason mopes as he flops onto the hotel bed. “Hey, why don’t you come gimme a ride. Take my mind off it?” he teases and I roll my eyes.

Closer to your big reception,” I tell him flatly.

Sophie-Anne decided to host Jason’s ‘Coming Out’ party. I don’t think Stackhouse realized what a big deal it was for Godric to create another Child after being Bonded, but it has taken our world by surprise. After all, Godric created only one progeny in two thousand years. Suddenly he has Bonded and created a second progeny in less than a single year. It turned many heads, and most will probably be surprised to find how… Unimpressive Jason is by comparison. True, my new ‘Uncle’ is very handsome- beautiful even, but he’s also not promising as a vampire. In two weeks he has not been able to initiate even the most simple of glamours. That is rarely a good sign.

The reality is, Jason’s turning has raised more than a few eyebrows. Not just because it is uncommon for vampires to create new progeny after being Bonded, but because Godric has resigned his post as Sheriff of Area Nine in Texas, transferred to a new Queendom, Bonded, and effectively planted his entire bloodline in a single city. If I were Sophie-Anne, I would be suspicious of an overthrow, which is more than likely why she extended her offer to host the wedding. Sookie was very wise not to let her brother come to this event as a mortal.

Pam,” Jason sits up suddenly, “I’m seriously hungry, and those heartbeats are drivin’ me nuts,” he declares.

You are thirsty, and you are going to have to hold out a while longer. You rose too early again. We cannot risk being seen before sunset just yet,” I tell him firmly.

Sorry, but I can’t help that I can’t stay dead for the entire day,” he mopes. “Besides, why do I have to die for the day and y’all don’t?”

Placing my hands on my hips I look up to the ceiling and groan, “We have explained this, Jason. Your body requires more blood to stay aware during the day. Too much blood to go unnoticed. After your first year is finished, you will only need to drink twice a day, and that will be less obvious. For now, you require blood every few hours, and that would double if you remained aware throughout the day as well.”

Man, this sucks,” Jason grumbles as he flops back onto the bed and splays his arms outward. “How can you stand bein’ so cooped up?”

I shrug, “It is a patience one learns very quickly. However, in a short time, that will not be necessary for you. Only until our new status is known.”

When will that be?” Jason asks me impatiently and I laugh.

Probably shortly after the wedding, unless this turns out to be a set up, in which case our status will be known very soon.”

Jason crosses his fingers and gives me a cheeky smile, “Here’s hopin’ for a coup.”

All I can do is sigh. He fits in with our bloodline all too well.

Jason’s POV:

Better than any food I ever ate! I think with a bit of ecstasy as blood fills my mouth. The girl in my arms is the result of yet another of Pam’s glamours. I just can’t turn it on!

Pam had ordered room service, and the girl in my arms was the unfortunate deliverer of a meal that won’t get ate.

So here I am, drinkin’ and sulkin’ at the same time until Pam flicks me in the forehead and makes me disengage the throat of my meal. I snarl at her a bit reflexively, but Pam grabs me by the short hairs and yanks my head away. She cleans and closes my my bite mark, showin’ me how it’s done for the umpteenth time, and then glamours the girl out of the room.

I still can’t do it,” I grumble annoyedly.

It is fine,” Pam tells me, but I’ve known her long enough now to hear the concern in her voice. For her, it comes out in this little tone that sounds almost like a question she knows the answer to.

How can it be fine, Pam?” I whisper. “How am I s’pose to ever be on my own if I can’t glamour?”

Some vampires are late bloomers,” Pam shrugs.

Yeah? Who?” I sulk a bit more.

Well, no one from our bloodline. We could all manage it within the first week, but to be fair, none of us are particularly good at it. Compton was a late bloomer, though, and now he is covetable for his glamouring skills,” Pam tells me reassuringly. “Perhaps there is a connection to early inabilities and later excellence?” she suggests.

Shit, I don’t wanna be no expert at it, I just want to be competent,” I protest.

Do not worry so much about it. You are pushing yourself too hard,” Pam tells me. “You are fighting your new instincts. You have to accept that you are vampire, Jason, not try and pretend nothing has changed.”

But I don’t feel any different,” I tell her truthfully.

My friend frowns and sits down next to me on the bed. She takes my hand and lowers her voice as she says, “Close your eyes.” I do as she tells me. “Feel the stillness of your body. Do not breathe. Be still. Quiet. Dead, Jason. No heart beats within you. No air fuels your muscles. You are silence, you are stillness, and you are death.”

I feel like I’m bein’ lead through a guided meditation, but it don’t feel so hokey. For the first time since I rose a vampire, I think I just realized that I don’t need to breathe. Godric had put his hand over my mouth and nose when I was underground, but I’d still tried to breathe when I woke up. Aside from when I’ve died for the day, I’ve breathed like I normally did. Just now, ‘holding my breath’, I realize that there’s no panicked pounding of my heart as its oxygen supply is cut down. There’s no pulsing in my hears or strain in my lungs. They don’t contract like that time I’d dove too deep into our parents’ pond and thought I’d drown before I got another lungful of air.

That’s right, Jason,” Pam’s voice sounds miles away. “Explore that new darkness. Don’t be afraid of it.”

‘I need that woman’s blood.’

My body lurches at the sudden, unwelcome thought that sprung into my head, and if I were still human I’d have chills. If that’s my new “inner vamp monologue”, I’m scared he might be an asshole!

What is it?” Pam asks me curiously.

I just had a thought I didn’t like,” I confess and stand up. “How much longer we gotta be in here? I think bein’ so cooped up is makin’ my imagination run wild.”

I suppose we can leave in another hour or so,” Pam tells me indulgently.

So, you gonna take my mind offa stuff?” I ask with a wink and recline onto the bed. Pam snorts and rolls her eyes, but hikes up her skirt as she puts a knee into the mattress. I start undoin’ my pants and soon I’m getting my promised ride. It’s exactly what I need to take my mind off the fact I’m gonna be meeting my first non-family vamps in two hours.


You’re sure about this?” I ask, lookin’ at myself in the mirror for the tenth time in as many minutes. Pam’s gone and dressed me, and it’s the nicest suit I’ve ever wore. It’s a slate black, and Pam found me a tie that matches my eyes. She loosens the knot a little bit to give me a more ‘rakish’ quality that she thinks my accent demands. I don’t get it, but I learned a while ago not to argue with Pam about style.

Pam lets out a little huff, “Whom do you think you are speaking to, Stackhouse?”

I know, I know,” I mumble, “I just don’t feel natural in suits. Y’know?”

And what are you planning to wear to teach students in a few years?” she asks.

Yeah, yeah,” I grumble.

Before she can start lecturin’ me on style and all that bullshit, a knock comes on the door. It’s Sookie, Eric, Godric and Cammie. They’re standin’ at the door lookin’ like runway models, and I know I’ll be hearin’ Pam berating me all night for wantin’ my plaid shirt and blue jeans.

I grab my suit jacket and throw it on as Pam and I follow the two couples out into the hotel hallway.

‘So that’s Northman’s Bonded. Smells delicious-‘

Whirlin’ ’round I look down the hallway, and feel my new fangs snap down and slice my lip. A snarl rips through my throat, and soon a big hand is smotherin’ my mouth.

Calm,” Eric rumbles in my ear as he pulls me back against his chest. Sookie looks at me worriedly. “I know you are nervous, but you cannot be so jumpy.”

So jumpy? I wonder in distress. The vamp hearin’ is new to me, but I guess Eric’s accepted that he’s gotta hear unsavory things when people talk to themselves out loud. Whoever’s talkin’ shit like that ’bout my sister better watch it, though! Eric might be able to forgive a slip of the tongue, but I sure as hell ain’t!

Jason, relax, and let your fangs retract. There is no danger in mine and Eric’s company. Never forget that,” Godric murmurs soothingly as Eric continues to press his hand into my mouth. Eventually my fangs snap back into their human lookin’ ones and Eric lets go of my mouth.

We make it to the lobby before the next incident when I hear someone thinkin’ they’ve seen way prettier ‘dolls’ than Cammie, and that she’s a lucky breather for cathin’ Godric’s eye. That makes my fists clench, and I know my ears would be bright red if I still circulated blood. Instead I just straighten my spine and force myself not to stomp.

What the hell is wrong with you, Stackhouse?” Pam asks sharply as we wait for the valet to bring around the Escalade.

It just sucks hearin’ everythin’,” I grumble in frustration, makin’ the vampires of the group nod slowly in understanding. When the car pulls up and we all pile in, I ask, “How do y’all stand it?”

You will learn to block it out. It is very similar to what your sister experiences. Eventually it becomes white noise. You will soon learn to appreciate more isolated dwellings to have your peace and quiet,” Eric tells me as he sits in the back row seats with my sister while Godric and Cammie take the middle.

How long will the white noise take?” I ask jokingly.

Oh, a few months,” Pam tells me with a shrug. “Eventually you’ll only catch yourself listening to things that catch your attention.”

Like what?” I wonder out loud.

Threats,” Eric answers.

Political shifts,” Godric replies.

Sales,” Pam tells me.

I give my friend a sideways glance and sigh. I can’t tell if she’s serious or not about her answer. “So who all’s gonna be at this shindig?”

Shindig?” Pam sneers.

Hootenanny?” Sookie offers and I grin.

Surely it’s a hoedown,” Cammie pipes in and I can’t stop from grinnin’.

It is not a hoedown,” Pam snaps.

And don’t call me Shirley,” Sookie, Cammie and I all reply. We’d all watched Airplane! last night after we arrived at the hotel.

Deep down, all three of us really are still kids. I gotta give Godric, Eric and Pam some props bringin’ all three of us into their world so close together. It can’t be easy watchin’ out for three people all the time, and that’s exactly what they gotta do. I’m real proud of Sookie. She’s accepted the fact that Eric’s gonna worry about her all the time… Cammie makes me worry though. After the way her new life began, she has a habit of undervaluing threats. She’s been through some bad shit, and a lot of real dangers pale in comparison to her. That’s never a good combination.

Me? Well, I bounce back and forth. I get indignant a lot because I’ve had to pretend I’m a lot older than I am for so long. It’s hard lettin’ go of havin’ to always be the one who’s right, and takin’ it upon myself to get things done. I seen Eric handle situations that I was still puzzlin’ out, and man did he lay ’em out like a pro! Still, Sookie’s his weak spot, and he knows it. He knows that he can be overbearing and overprotective, but at least he knows. At least he’s got himself a good woman too. A woman who knows when to tell him to back off, and when to just humor him and give him a grateful kiss.

Pretty soon we’re pullin’ up to a big, iron gate, and it’s obvious this is my new Queen’s estate. Pam rolls down her window at the guard station and exchanges words with a burly dude who smells like ass. It takes all my will power to not recoil from the stench. After Pam’s pulled away and rolled the window back up, I finally start forcing air out my nostrils, attempting to dislodge the stink.

Were,” Godric chuckles. “You will get used to them. They do not smell nearly as bad as you think. It is just a shock the first dozen times.”

Huh, apparently I can hear Weres pretty well,” I hear Sookie mumble.

That was the first time you have encountered one?” Eric asks in surprise.

It was the first time I knew I encountered one,” Sookie answers. “They’re all over campus and Shreveport. I just didn’t know what that brain pattern looked or sounded like. You’ve never pointed one out to me before, so I just thought it was a human variation. Apparently red snarls are Weres” she tells him.

Fair enough,” Eric laughs and I hear him give her a kiss.

As we pull up to the front entrance, a parking attendant comes runnin’ up and starts openin’ doors. We all climb out and head inside as the car gets parked, and I get this really weird feelin’ as we go toward the front door. I feel uneasy, and maybe a bit queasy too. For the first time since I rose a vamp, I got what feels suspiciously like a headache.

We’re greeted by a glamoured girl at the door, and she takes all the coats, but I barely acknowledge her as I’m quietly pushed toward this big set of double doors. I feel like I’m in a palace, which I guess the Queen of Louisiana would try to emulate…

‘Here comes the baby vamp.’

‘Wonder if there is anything special about him-‘

‘-could Godric have seen in so many young breathers of this era-‘

God love me, I think in distress as the doors start to open. “I can’t do it,” I whisper, just as the doors swing open and I plaster a big, terrified grin on my face. Wait, I think, you’re a vamp now. Don’t smile! I flatten my lips into somethin’ I hope don’t look like a scowl.

Godric takes front and center. He’s got Cammie to his right and me to his left. Eric stands behind us with Pam on his left and Sookie on his right like some six and a half foot Viking bodyguard.

Godric, what an interesting pair to add to your bloodline,” A dark haired female vamp tells my Maker. Dang, that still sounds so fuckin’ weird to say! He don’t make me stand on ceremony though. I call him Godric. Eric and Pam don’t like me to, but they understand that we don’t really gotta follow all the hierarchy crap any more.

Yes, very interesting,” Godric agrees with a smile. Can I smile? I wonder in surprise. I glance behind me to see Pam and Eric wearin’ blank looks, so I keep my face neutral. Sookie and Cammie are lookin’ around the room in awe, takin’ everything in, but I don’t wanna risk it. “This is my Bonded, Camilla, and my newest progeny, Jason.”

Cammie snaps out of her gaping to smile politely at the vampiress and I give a stiff, quiet nod. Aw man, this is the craziest thing ever! My head feels like it’s splittin’ in two. I don’t even know how Godric’s ignorin’ all the questions bein’ thrown at him. Most of ’em pretty much askin’ what’s so special about me. Good question really. But I don’t wanna say that I’m only here because my sister doesn’t want me to die.

‘I suppose he is attractive,’ I hear someone grumble. ‘But Godric is Bonded now. What does he need with attractive?’

I just wanna shout and point at my sister and say, I’m her big brother!

But I don’t, instead, I just listen to all this bullshit.

‘They must be fortifying. There is no other explanation. Ravenscroft and the new one must be secondary bodyguards for their Bondeds while Godric and Northman try to take my throne,’ I pause suddenly in my frustrations at the words comin’ from this little redhead we’ve been shoved in front of.

No one would say that out loud. Why the fuck would someone say that out loud? Oh… Ohhh…

Sookie,” I mumble suddenly, nearly trippin’ up Pam as I stop right in front of her without warnin’. “Sook. Sook, I gotta leave-”

“Jason, you’re doin’ fine,” Sookie tells me and reaches to give my hand a quick squeeze. When she does that, all the noise goes away. It’s just the normal murmurin’ I’ve been hearin’ all day.

I’m really not,” I whisper and look at Godric. He’s starin’ at me in surprise and maybe a little annoyance. I ain’t tryin’ to make a scene or nothin’, but I don’t know for sure what’s happenin’. Well I do, I realize. I’m a telepath like my sister. Only, I don’t hear people. I hear vamps.

Pam’s POV:

Aside from Jason’s one little panic just before being presented to Sophie-Anne, he has been remarkably quiet. I swear, if I didn’t know any better, I would say he has finally learned some etiquette. However, I do know better, and when the moment is opportune, I steal him away to a private area.

What is wrong with you?” I demand in a hiss.

Just get me some blood?” he begs me weakly, and I give him a suspicious glance, but go about looking for a suitable donor. There are always glamoured humans wandering around these sorts of gatherings.

When I find a human that hasn’t been turned into a pin cushion yet, I bring her over to my baby uncle and throw her into his arms. Jason latches on immediately, and I watch as his eyes scan the room over and over.

Jason, what is going on with you tonight?” I ask again.

Let’s just say that Sookie and I got a lot more in common than we ever did before,” he mumbles.

What does that-” I see him tap his temple and glance sideways.

He cannot possibly mean? “No!”

He nods, takes a few more pulls from his meal and absentmindedly cleans and seals the wound.

Thanks,” he mumbles to the donor as she dutifully wobbles away.

Who?” I ask quickly. Jason taps on his fang. Vampires? Really!? “Me too?” He shakes his head. Not our bloodline… Like Sookie cannot hear Camilla. We are immune to his power. “Can you do a threat assessment?” I ask even softer.

Jason turns his mouth into my ear, “They think we’re plottin’ a coup. So far it don’t feel they’ll make a move unless we do. Basically, don’t show any hostility to the queen or her guards, and we should get through this weekend.”

That was not on anyone’s agenda, so I think all will be well,” I sigh in relief. “How are you holding up?”

I’m gettin’ a little used to it,” Jason mumbles, but I can see strain around his eyes. “I only got super close proximity. Nothin’ like Sooks.”

Nodding in understanding, I give Jason’s hand a reassuring squeeze and I see his body relax. Oh, like his sister in a crowded room of humans, I realize. Rather than returning to the throng and finding Eric as I had planned, I instead hang around Jason, holding his hand and offering relief from the discovery of his new gift. I must applaud him, aside from brief moments of awkwardness, he handled himself very well thus far.

While I offer him a reprieve from the splitting headache he is probably enduring, I contemplate how the hell Jason Stackhouse developed vampire telepathy. I suppose it would make sense that this would be a likely route for any additional gifts to take. After all, his sister is a telepath. Perhaps his body just needed a bit more magic to manifest its own powers? I do not know. It is not something of which I have enough knowledge to speculate. This will be a “family” discussion once we are back in the safety of our own home. On the bright side, at least Sookie will not feel so alone in it, and she will be the best at helping her brother cope with a gift that is certain to grow over time.

After Jason has had time to rest his mind, I draw him back to the rest of our bloodline. Sookie is trying her best to be charming towards Russel Edgington, and she is succeeding admirably. I am not surprised that they hit it off. After all, Russel is one of four vampires in the United States who is Bonded. The other is Joan, Queen of Minnesota. Joan could not attend Jason’s coming out party, but she will be attending the wedding tomorrow evening.

Just as Jason and I arrive beside Eric, the double doors open again and in comes the Magister. I roll my eyes. Who the fuck invited his spiteful ass?

As Jorge strolls over to us, I feel Jason’s body coil tightly beside me. That can’t be a good sign, I think worriedly.

Godric, how nice to see you again so soon,” Jorge greets the Master of our Bloodline with false warmth. None of us have forgotten the arctic setting of our last encounter. “My your bloodline has doubled in only two years. I have never seen you so impulsive!”

At my age, one recognizes exceptional individuals,” Godric replies in a way I don’t know any other vampire could under the circumstances- civilly. “I was fortunate enough to encounter two exceptional individuals these past couple years, and I knew not to let them slip from my grasp.”

Yes,” Jorge glances at Camilla with some sort of ironic amusement. I can guess the nature of his thoughts by the way Jason’s fangs snap into place. “Something on your mind, Fledgling?” he addresses Jason’s descended fangs.

Jason lowers his head, shaking it softly before gazing at the floor. Good boy, I think in relief. I wish I could fathom how hard this is for Jason, but I cannot. Sometimes my vampire mind is a difficult place to be. I cannot hope to believe another’s is any better. I can, however, understand his frustrations and anger. I can understand because I am angry without knowing Jorge’s mind.

I am angry because I know that when Jorge looks at Sookie and Camilla he sees only food and sex. He does not see two creatures that have made my existence so much brighter and livelier. He cannot see these two creatures that gave three lonely, jaded vampires happiness. Even my fledgling of a best friend has made my world one worth wanting. He has given me hope. Hope that a third woman will be among us many centuries down the road.

And she will be mine.

On to Chapter Forty-One!