Chapter Forty-Three: Love Trap
(Part Four of the Wedding Arc)
“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.
“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.