Catalyst Ch. 46

Chapter Forty-Six: With or Without You

Godric’s POV:

I hate the creature I am acting like right now, I think in agony. I do not like the accusations I have thrown at my Child, nor the fact I am being comforted by my newest progeny. I am two-thousand-years-old and should not be taking comfort from a fledgling. It is I who should be the calm in this storm. I should be their rock, but I cannot feel my Camilla and the pain is paralyzing, making me act irrationally.

Godric,” Sookie whispers gently like she is trying to coax a frightened animal from beneath a piece of furniture. “Why don’t you take Cammie to rest in one of the bedrooms upstairs?” She offers to lead the way, gesturing toward the staircase.

All I can offer is a nod as I rise from the sofa and allow Sookie to lead me down the hall. She glances over her shoulder from time to time, giving me reassuring, beautiful smiles.

Do you really believe Camilla will be all right?” I ask of Sookie when we arrive on the upstairs landing.

I do,” she nods and opens a nearby door. She turns on the light, revealing the soft blue walls and brown and cream bedding. “I have the same faith as Jason.”

What if she does overcome this…whatever it is, but she is not my Camilla any longer?” I voice my fears, hoping to receive better reassurances than Pam gave me. All Pam could offer was an insistence that I get to Eric… Or maybe she was telling me to get to Sookie. Run to the person who brings strength and comfort to our bloodline.

Sookie sits on the edge of the bed, stroking Camilla’s foot as she gazes thoughtfully at her best friend. It is difficult to fathom that my Bonded’s condition is hurting anyone other than myself, but I am reminded in this moment that Camilla is Sookie’s best friend, the one person who understands her life as first hand as possible.

If that’s the case,” Sookie smiles sadly, “then we’ll have to fall in love with her all over again. There are some traits that inherently belong to Cammie, y’know? You cared about her that first night, right? I know I liked her immediately, in her first life and this one. I’ll love her in the third one if that comes to be. I don’t want that, but I know I’ll still love her and make new memories with h-her,” Sookie clears her throat, trying to dispel the emotion that is building. It makes me admire her strength and I offer her a consoling smile.

Before I can say anything, Eric leans into the doorway and grimaces apologetically, “Sookie-”

You’re goin’ after Pam?” Sookie guesses my Child’s intentions.

Yes,” Eric nods. “I have to be certain no war erupts prematurely and if Compton is not the culprit, I am the one who can confront Grissom.”

Sookie rises from the foot of the bed and goes to Eric. I see her hesitate to kiss him in front of me, so I cast my eyes to my own Bonded.

Be safe.”

You, too,” Eric tells her and I hear their lips meet briefly. “Please, stay with your brother at all times while I am away? Yes, that means letting him drive the two of you to work. Carpooling makes more sense anyway.” I am not unaware that Sookie is still a horrendous driver, which usually brings me amusement. “Please, stay home with Godric and Camilla when you are not at work?” he requests in that voice that tells me it is not really a request, but he knows better than to make commands on Sookie outside the bedroom. That is a conversation we have had in length, I think with the first burst of amusement I have felt since this afternoon.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else while my friends are like this,” Sookie replies softly and it makes my heart swell that such a young woman wishes to be the anchor to this ancient vampire’s drifting spirits.

I will call you once I arrive in New Orleans,” Eric tells her and I hear their lips touch again. “It should only be about five hours,” he whispers softer and another brief meeting of their lips punctuates his promise.

I’ll miss you,” Sookie murmurs.

As I will miss you,” Eric chuckles before the sound of a long embrace.

After Eric departs, I look over my shoulder at Sookie who is leaning out of the doorway, staring down the hall longingly.

Are you all right?” I ask as she finally comes to sit back on the bed and stroke Camilla’s feet absentmindedly.

It’s silly,” Sookie blushes.

I could use silly,” I encourage.

It wouldn’t be silly to you,” she admits.

I am waiting.”

Eric and I haven’t been more than fifty miles apart since before we were married,” she mumbles, tilting her head down. “I can feel him flying away and I already miss him.”

My lips tilt into a small smile, “He has died for the day on many occasions. When that occurs, he is far more absent from you than he is now.”

Sookie frowns, “I really don’t have any right to be complainin’ right now, especially not to you of all people.”

As I am about to reply, Jason arrives in the room and goes to flop on the opposite side of Camilla on the bed. Before he can, I am up and snarling involuntarily.

Fine. You flop on the bed and gimme your chair then,” Jason grumbles. “I may be a vamp, but it don’t mean I wanna stand around lookin’ like a statue or gargoyle, y’know?”

My eyes roll toward the heavens. How did I land such a Child?

Slipping into the bed beside my Bonded, I wrap her in my cool embrace. Her body immediately begins to warm me as I pull her closer. Jason takes my seat and one of Camilla’s hands while he looks her over.

You called Ludwig?” Jason asks curiously.

Ludwig can treat only the body,” I tell him in exasperation. “This is purely an affliction of the mind.”

I meant so we can feed her while she’s down for the count,” Jason tells me and I flinch. “Maybe a feedin’ tube or somethin’?”

Would you-”

I got it,” Sookie assures, reaching for her phone and calling the doctor.

What is it?” I hear Ludwig’s voice answer Sookie’s call.

Dr. Ludwig, it’s Sookie Northman,” Sookie answers the phone formally. “We have a situation here and I was hopin’ you could lend us some expertise?”

I can arrive in two hours. I am with a patient. Will it wait?”

It will wait,” Sookie replies sadly and I know it is not because of the doctor’s delay, but because she wishes the situation would not continue another two hours.

I will see you around eleven,” Ludwig tells her and hangs up.

She’ll be here at eleven,” Sookie announces.

I know,” Jason and I say in unison and Sookie smiles.

We are sitting in companionable silence for an hour or so when I hear Jason chuckle.

What is it?” I ask, surprised he can muster so much amusement under the circumstances.

Cammie’s gonna be so pissed at you when she wakes up,” Jason laughs a bit harder. “She’ll say somethin’ like, ‘you flew us to fuckin’ Ohio just ’cause I took a nap‘!?”

Sookie giggles, “And then when I tell her how you came all the way up here to beg me to chop my wings off, she’s gonna say ‘over react much’!?”

Both Jason and Sookie are laughing at my expense and while part of me wants to reprimand them and say they do not know what this feels like, another part of me is laughing right with them. Those are words my Bonded would definitely say.

Camilla’s POV:

You flew us to fucking Ohio!?

I am going to throttle my Bonded when I can move again! I swear on my eternal life I will!

For now, I get to hang out and reflect on what the hell went wrong today.

One-Twenty-Niner, Echo, Romeo, Alpha, Sierra, Echo,” I think bitterly. I may not be completely up to date on codes and crap, but the words that stranger shouted at me are obvious. One-Twenty-Niner is probably the serial number Grissom gave me and the rest of it is some sort of code that sends me into this state?

What is this state? I start to wonder.

Every once and a while I catch a glimmer of what’s going on around me, but, for the most part, my ears and eyes aren’t filtering me any information. All I know is I’ve definitely heard a word or two from both Sookie and Jason. So, either they came down to Louisiana or Godric brought me up North. I get the feeling he brought us up North. Sookie and Jason just started their new jobs today or what I assume is still today, so he wouldn’t make them come down South.

It’s scary, but my heart won’t race, despite the fact I feel terrified. My skin’s not feedin’ me any information, either. I don’t know if I am sitting or lying down. It’s like my brain is in a glass jar, still firing all these thoughts, but unable to do anything.

Oh, my God, if I could have an actual panic attack right now, it’d be one for the books!

Instead, I’m just existing in this dark, little, place in my mind, wondering if Godric can feel me or if that’s disconnected, too? I can’t feel him, so it must go both ways. My poor Bonded!

I really hope he only brought us to Ohio for support during this confusing time and that he’s not about to do anything brash. After all, I still have all my memories as far as I can tell, which means I’m still conscious of who I am. I can’t be glamoured anymore and vampire commands can only last three days. If I’m lucky, this is a one and done experience. Maybe it’s some sort of short-cut Grissom planted in my brain if I needed to be “reprogrammed” for my buyer?

I’ve spent a lot of time worrying about this long before now. Not to Godric, of course. He’d get overprotective and make me walk around in some sensory deprivation tank so no one could hit the reset button. I’ve talked about it with my magic tutor, Rose, though. Not specifically about me, but hypotheticals. I told her about a story I heard involving old human trafficking instances with vampires. I asked if she had any insight about the types of Dolls Grissom used to create.

Rose taught me a lot about vampire glamour and spoke about the terrifying genius of Grissom’s methods. Afterward she asked me if it was real and if so, she would need to be wary. I told her to be wary.

You flop on the bed and gimme your chair then,” Jason’s voice rings through and I want to laugh. My big brother makes me laugh. He’s way more of a brother to me than Eric. Eric, weirdly enough, feels more like a dad to me, but that’s a whole can of what does that make Godric that I don’t like to think about opening!

So, I’m guessing I got three days of this nonsense if Godric doesn’t do anything brash and stupid. I haven’t felt so alone in my entire life, but I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. My Bonded and best friends are beside me. I’m safe and all I need to do is focus on not losing my mind while I’m stuck like this and fighting like hell to get my senses back! I. Can. Do. This!

Godric’s POV:

So,” Jason murmurs thoughtfully, “I know I’m just a fledglin’, but Cammie don’t feel blanked out to me.”

I look up from where I have been staring at mine and Camilla’s joined hands and give him a glance that tells him to elaborate.

It’s just… A feelin’,” Jason tells me a bit louder. “I mean, I can feel she ain’t right, but I can feel her mind. Like… When I do glamours, I can feel a person’s consciousness. It’s like their mind wants to fill me up and move in mine. With Sook, I get that same full feelin’, but I can’t will it either way. That’s how Cammie feels-”

You have been trying to glamour Camilla?” I ask, trying to temper my frustration.

No, I’ve just been tryin’ to see if she feels any different,” He assures me quickly. “And she does, but not in an unfamiliar way. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being optimistic,” Jason mumbles self-consciously.

Sighing, I bring Camilla’s hand to my lips for the millionth time in twelve hours before encouraging Jason, “Please, speak your mind.”

Jason looks at me nervously, “Okay, so from what you and Eric have told me about glamour… Y’know, what I can and can’t do and why, it’s not something easy to erase someone’s mind.”

Correct,” I tell him. “You remember what we told you was done to Camilla to achieve this state-”

But she’s not in the state Eric found her,” Jason insists. “That Camilla was conscious. She was awake, but only had the sense to blink. She didn’t have the sense to eat, even though she was awake. Even with food right in front of her! She didn’t have the sense not to piss all over herself. Cammie isn’t awake. She’s unconscious. Isn’t this more like a coma?”

He is right, I realize in surprise. Camilla is not conscious. She had been after Eric retrieved her from Grissom’s. That would mean that whatever state my Bonded is in currently, it is not necessarily as dire as I had feared.

You are right,” I tell him softly, as I am still awed by the realization. “That would mean-”

She’s under an imbedded command!” Jason whoops. “That means she’s gonna snap outta it in three days ’cause that’s how long a vampire command can hold! Boo-yah!” He raises his hands in victory as he rises to his feet.

I would join in his celebration if I were not stunned into silence. How did none of us realize this? How did I fly several hundred miles with my unconscious Bonded in my arms to beg my family to give up all their gifts so that I might kill my beloved and die myself?

Godric?” Jason’s voice calls calmly and I feel his firm grasp of my shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. You were worried about Cammie. It’s figured out now,” he tries to sooth me as I feel this terrible urge to sob like some human child.

What did I nearly lose? What did I nearly take from my family!?

Love makes you stupid, y’know?” Jason tells me, still attempting to ease the burden of my betrayal and weaknesses. “Look at me and Sook. We’re just brother and sister and we ’bout killed ourselves for one another. I nearly lost my arm and Sookie ’bout starved to death. Okay, some exaggerating, but the truth is love makes you dumb. Whether it’s family or your true love, you’re gonna miss some of the answers. That’s why you got family, to solve shit for you while you’re bein’ stupid,” He tells me and laughs. “It’s okay. When it’s my turn to fall in love and Bond, you’ll have my back. Right?”

Yes,” I agree, nodding weakly. I almost killed myself and Camilla!

Now, no more Romeo and Juliet thoughts. Okay?”

Yes,” I tell him firmly in agreement as I try harder to shake off the shock of what I had come here to do.

Cool. Now, you wanna tell me what’s goin’ on with Eric and Pam? I can’t feel them,” Jason demands.

Pam is in New Orleans. Eric is just flying along the Arkansas/Tennessee border. He should arrive in New Orleans in two hours,” I inform him. “Pam’s frustrated, so I would assume she has not yet tracked down Compton.”

What do you think will happen if she finds him before Eric finds her?” Jason asks me with genuine curiosity.

Shrugging my shoulders, I confess, “I do not know either way. I have no idea what Eric’s intentions are any more than I know Pamela’s. For as long as I have known those two, they still surprise me regularly by their decisions. Pamela because she is spontaneous when not ordered by myself or Eric. Eric…he has a certain predictability about him, except when he decides to be unpredictable. He takes just enough risks to keep me guessing while not bringing me any concern. As long as Eric arrives before Pamela finds Compton, I have no worries.”

Jason nods at my explanation and sits back in his chair, having completed his victory lap after figuring out Camilla’s ailment.

We sit in silence until a sudden POP fills the air. The abrupt arrival of Dr. Ludwig causes Jason’s fangs to snap into place and he snarls in disappointment.

“Damn it, Doc! I ain’t popped these things unintentionally in almost two years and you gone and ruined my streak!” Jason complains as his lips curl and his fangs ascend back to their human façade.

Quit your complaining and…” Ludwig pauses when she sees Camilla, “and explain why your Bonded is in a coma.”

I sigh, “We believe it is an imbedded command from when Grissom was erasing her memory. A glamoured human spoke strange words to her, and then Camilla collapsed and disappeared from the Bond.”

Ludwig frowns, “I see.” She comes to Camilla’s side and begins evaluating her, but thankfully does not command me to move. Instead, she considerately works around me. That takes me by surprise. “I have seen this before,” Ludwig tells us softly. “It is an imbedded command. A short cut, if you will.”

Short cut?” Jason asks.

The doctor nods as she explains, “I had the displeasure of mending one of Grissom’s Dolls once. The poor thing had been so physically and emotionally traumatized that Grissom had to come and erase her memories all over again. I was setting a dislocation when he arrived. He spoke a code to the girl and she fell into a sleep just like this one,” She gestures to my Camilla. “It was a brief sleep, but when she awoke, she could not recognize her face… What Grissom said to her, I could practically see her mind breaking. When he tried to strike her, I stopped him. I told him I would report him and his techniques to the International Council of Supernaturals.”

And they did nothing,” I whisper.

And they did nothing,” she agrees gruffly. “Because she was a human. I told them I may be a supernatural doctor, but it is my creed to harm none, not to look the other way while harm is done to others. That was when I petitioned Endymion and the Pantheon to grant me neutrality. I am one of very few supernatural creatures not governed by most magical laws.”

As I listen to the doctor her words ring in me anxiously, “Does that mean Camilla will not know herself when she wakes?”

Ludwig frowns, “She will have all of her memories, but there is a possibility she will not recognize her face. If you handle that situation calmly, it will be far from the most traumatizing thing she has experienced.”

I suppose if I warned her before she sees her reflection, it might help?” I wonder aloud.

That would definitely be a good idea. How long has she been out?” Ludwig asks.

About twelve hours,” I tell her.

I will hook her up to an IV and put in a catheter. When she wakes up, keep her in bed for the first day with a few walks around the room every few hours, then straight back into bed. Sex as soon as she is willing after waking, but gently. She will be weak. Sex will help reaffirm your Bond,” She explains. “Light foods the first two days after she rises. Broths, fluids, and those protein drinks I have them on… Stuff like that.”

Is that all?” Jason asks in surprise.

Yes, because you have told me she cannot be glamoured. That means her mental state is in no danger and she has living immortality, so even if you don’t feed her, she can’t die. Still, there is no reason to let her come back from this in poorer conditions than she must,” Ludwig shrugs. “I will swing by in four days to check her over. I suggest you two remain here for the rest of the week.”

Jason leaves the room as Ludwig begins rolling up the bedding to insert Camilla’s catheter, and I hold my Bonded’s hand as she is given the most basic of treatments.

Do you know… Could this be done to her again?” I ask of the doctor.

I’m not sure. From what I could tell the code had to be re-imbedded, but that was because the subject’s memory was wiped. Camilla’s cannot be. However, depending on her current mental state, whatever is going on in that head of hers right now? Who knows? Her magic is growing stronger every day now. She may be able to erase the command herself.”

Camilla’s POV:

… may be able to erase the command herself…”



I can erase the command myself!? I think with excitement and surprise. Does that mean somewhere in all this darkness, I’m actually just existing in my mind?

Whoa, that’s way too paranormal, even for someone married to a vampire!

That’s also the first voice I’ve heard in forever and it was Ludwig’s. It’s also the only time I’ve heard Ludwig’s voice, which makes me think I haven’t been out for very long. After all, Godric would have called Ludwig pretty quick, right? Then again, he did fly all the way to Ohio before he did… Ugh, I have no idea what’s going on and it’s annoying the heck out of me!

However, that is a thought for another time. Right now, I know I’m trapped in my own head and while I’m here, I got an imbedded command to erase! This task seems way out of my league. Maybe if I was studying to be a psychology teacher or brain surgeon I’d have a better idea of what to do, but I’m a freakin’ math teacher. What do I know about brain mapping?

Mindfulness. Being aware of thoughts as they pass, but allow them to pass. Do not cling, merely be aware,” Rose’s words ring into my brain and I groan. Meditation isn’t really my thing, but my magic tutor has been rigorous about guided meditations. She has told me countless times that the natural ability to manipulate energy is useless if you cannot make it do what you want.

That’s why I’m still sitting in the dark, trying to figure out how to meditate when I can’t focus on my breathing or heartbeat. I’m not good enough at this yet!

Don’t make excuses for somethin’ you know how to do. So, it doesn’t come naturally. That’s not an excuse to do it poorly,” Sookie’s voice rings in my mind, her words from back when I was first trying to understand my biology lessons. It was my worst subject by far and I hated it. Sookie’s solution was studying with me. Every time I got frustrated and shoved her notecards or books away, she would push them right back and say it would become easier if I worked harder. Everything couldn’t come easily. Some things had to be worked for.

Okay, Cammie. You had your entire memory stripped from you and you managed to get your GED within a year. You’ve had four years training with Rose. You. Can. Do. This! I chant my new favorite mantra several times before slowly stripping away thought after thought.

Unbidden by me, my memories swell with words my Bonded spoke several hours ago. They fill my thoughts and his voice becomes the breath, the heartbeat that brings my mind to focus.

It is amazing, Mila meum,” Godric whispered in my ear early yesterday morning before my classes began, “despite the same predictability the day shares with the night, there is also a newness to every day. A new openness, a new beginning. These past five years that I have been an Impervious Immortal, I experience every day with wonder. There are so many things to be found in the daylight. Trust, love, happiness. Since being gifted with the day I have seen more of those beautiful things in the past five years than the last five hundred wandering only in the night. Those months in the sun before you were brought into my existence… I think they gave me the hope and faith I needed to let myself accept your love.”

Really? I thought Eric still had to smack that sense into you,” I teased him.

Godric looked at me with that level of annoyance he only enjoys when I bring him to it, “Whatever the case, I am here now because I finally witnessed that those things still existed. That a woman like you could still exist in this world. I love you, Mila meum.”

I love you, too, Godric.”

Suddenly this corner of mind doesn’t seem as dark or isolated. I feel free to wander and chase that memory deeper. Thankfully the darkness doesn’t return as I explore. Listening to memory after memory, conversation after conversation, like traveling back through time, through my five year past until I hit the edge.

No more whispers, I think as I have gone as far back as my memory exists and old conversations can no longer murmur to me. It is like hitting a wall.

One-Two-Niner,” a vaguely unfamiliar, but most unwelcome voice snarls in my ear. “Echo, Romeo, Alpha, Sierra, Echo. When you hear these words, you will allow yourself to be rewritten. Your mind will not cling to its memories. They will be disposable to you. Obey.”

No, I think indignantly, they’re not disposable. They’re invaluable.

Then again, this memory is disposable. I do not want or need it.

Echo,” I try to say out loud, “Romeo,” I hope speaking it myself works just the same, “Alpha, Sierra,” I’m going for it! “Echo.”

Godric’s POV:

Are Cammie’s lips moving?” Sookie asks with a frown as she stares at my Bonded’s face.

I look at Camilla’s plump lips and see them tremble ever so slightly. It is the first sign of movement she has given me in just over fifty hours. As I feel my emotions swell at this tiny sign of awareness, I hear a soft, “’Ko’,” sound in the back of her throat.

Suddenly her emotions burst forth within me. Fatigue, relief, love, and gratitude as her eyes flutter rapidly open.

Godric,” Her weak hands reach for my face and I cup them with my own as I lean down to kiss her.

I see Sookie and Jason quickly withdraw from the bedroom and I deepen the kiss. “I missed you,” I say against her mouth.

“I missed you, too,” she tells me, sliding her hands behind my neck and pulling me tighter to her mouth.

Camilla,” I try to speak against her lips, “there is something you should know-”

What? Did you get over me already?” she teases in that way I have missed the past two days.

Do not even joke about such an impossible thing,” I kiss her again.

What is it, Godric?” Camilla asks calmly.

“There is a possibility that you may have forgotten what you look like, so when you look in the mirror, the face you see could be a stranger’s face,” I whisper guardedly.

Camilla pauses as she absorbs this information, “As long as it’s still the face you love, I’ll get used to it.” I smile and kiss her once more before she pulls away suddenly. “I’m sorry, I just gotta pee so bad-”

You have a catheter in,” I tell her. “It is probably giving you a sensation of urgency to urinate.”

Her face scrunches unpleasantly and she whispers, “Can you take it out?”

Chuckling, I nod, “I do, in fact, know how to do that.”

I can feel her embarrassment as I slide down the length of the bed and push the blankets up. Despite all the things I have done to her body, none of them have been as clinical as this particular act. I suppose a part of her feels I should not witness her nether regions in such a state, but I do not dwell on her strange insecurities. Instead, I focus on my task and break the shackles of her comatose state with the removal of the catheter.

Do you still need to pee?” I ask jokingly when she is free.

She pauses before answering, almost as if she is considering her body very carefully. “Yes!” she announces suddenly, flings away the bedding, and hobbles toward the door.

Other door,” I tell her amusedly and go to assist her. She has not moved a muscle in over forty-eight hours, and I can see she is hurting from it. Soon I have her sitting on the toilet and she holds her head in her hands as she urinates.

Go away,” she mumbles tiredly.

I laugh and shake my head. “You probably will not be able to stand up again.”

She finishes quickly and, sure enough, cannot lift herself off the toilet.

Okay, help,” she admits defeat when she cannot find a surface to hold onto and haul herself back to her feet.

I smile and take her into my arms. She has me stop to let her wash her hands and I oblige. When she reaches for the towel to dry her hands, she pauses and stares at the mirror. I can feel her surprise and I look at Camilla worriedly.

“That’s my face,” she murmurs.

Yes,” I agree gently.

“No! I mean, I recognize it! That’s my face!” She laughs and smiles and I hold her even tighter. “I must not have had that command!” She grins back at me from the mirror and I kiss her cheek before returning to the bedroom.

What command did you have?” I ask of her and her face frowns.

I don’t know… I don’t remember,” she confesses.

What do you remember?” I ask gently as I set her back on to the bed.

I remember being in darkness. I remember hearing you guys from time to time,” she thinks back. “I heard Ludwig once. She said something about overcoming the command myself and all I could think was, ‘I can do that?’ So, I worked on doing that,” Camilla tells me thoughtfully. “I don’t know. Maybe I succeeded? How long was I out?” she asks.

About fifty hours,” I tell her softly.

Camilla nods, accepting that fifty hours of her life have vanished, “I should have been out for seventy-two. It was an imbedded glamour. It should have held me for three days. If I woke in just over two, then I probably erased the glamour successfully,” she states confidently.

Why would you not know?” I ask.

She shrugs and offers, “I probably erased the memory of the imbedded command. If I did that, I probably wouldn’t remember erasing it either. That’s my best guess, anyway.”

All I can do is nod at her assessment, but my anxiety will not be quelled until her safety has been assured.

You want to see if I’ll go back under, don’t you?” she guesses accurately.

I do,” I confess.

Go on, then,” she waves her hand with her consent. She quickly snuggles back into bed and looks at me expectantly. “Well?” she prods when I have yet to speak.

What if you go back under? I will be without you again,” I whisper sadly.

It will be fine, Godric,” she tells me confidently. “I know it will be.”

I let out a sigh and finally utter, “One-two-niner, echo, romeo, alpha, sierra, echo.”

My words barely hiss past my teeth at the last word and I stare at Mila expectantly. She blinks at me with her cocky, little smirk, then leans in and kisses my tight lips.

See?” she teases. “I can take care of myself, too.”

My lips relax and I lean in to kiss her slowly, “I have missed you so much.”

I’ve missed you too, Godric,” she says quietly as she wraps her arms around my neck and pulls me atop her. “Now make love to me.”


Catalyst Ch. 45

Chapter Forty-Five: Relapse

August 2005

Jason’s POV:

I feel like the new kids in school again, I think nervously as Sooks and I make our way through the hallways of Stone Water High School.

As I guessed he might, Eric managed to get me and Sookie jobs at the same school and now, we’re the new kids, in a new town, in a new state. After Sookie graduated from Endene, Eric moved the three of us to Ohio to start a new life. I know it’s ’cause Sook wants to raise her kids in our family home and since none of us know exactly when that will happen, Eric thought it might be best to leave Louisiana behind until she gets knocked up.

It’s cool, though, Yankee girls got a thing for my accent, but I gotta make sure I throw some knowledge down pretty quick, otherwise I’m looked at like a stupid redneck and not an educated, southern gent. I’ve barely been in Ohio a month and I’ve already banged half the eligible women in my subdivision. Pam’s gonna be so jealous when she gets here this weekend!

Pam decided to go to New York before meetin’ us here and Godric’s stayin’ in Louisiana until Camilla finishes school. She’s got one year of college left, and then they’ll be on their way up here. Cammie surprised all of us when she said she’d like to teach math. When I asked what made her want to become a teacher, she’d told me nice and simple that the bloodline had shown her the importance of patient, knowledgeable people offering their abilities. If it hadn’t been for all of us, it might have taken Cammie a lot longer to get her GED and get enrolled in college. Eric’s already workin’ on glamouring one of the older math teachers into puttin’ in for retirement so Cammie can take his place next year.

Sookie’s spot opened when the former English teacher’s husband got a terrific job in Michigan, but it meant they would have to move. His new job just so happened to be for a company Eric owned. My job actually came about naturally. I swear Eric did not give that poor old guy a heart attack!

Are you nervous?” My sister asks as we make our way to our respective classrooms.

Super nervous,” I confess. “Do I look all right?” I got on a pair of dark khaki pants and a deep blue polo shirt. Pam says duller colors won’t make my skin look so pale. Although, I got a pretty good color palette to work with ’cause Pam insisted I tan really good before comin’ over. She hung out with me on the old condo roof, soakin’ in the rays all summer those three years ago.

You look great,” she tells me confidently. “Don’t go makin’ any young girls fall in love with you!”

I roll my eyes, “Yeah, don’t go makin’ no little boys fall for you. Eric will kill ’em.”

Sookie flinches, but nods. I didn’t expect her to agree so easily that her husband is one possessive, homicidal dude. It ain’t jealousy. Eric knows better than anyone that Sookie ain’t goin’ nowhere, but that doesn’t mean he wants to see some yahoo gettin’ handsy with his wife. It doesn’t mean he’ll let someone walk away afterward.

I’ll see you at lunch. Did you remember your thermos?” Sookie, the mother hen, asks.

Yeah, Ma! I remembered it. See you at lunch,” I laugh and kiss her cheek as I open her classroom door and let her in. She waves goodbye to me as I head to my own classroom.

When I arrive at my desk, I make quick work of organizing myself and getting the chalkboard written up for the beginnin’ of my first class. Soon, my first student arrives and sits in the back of the room. He’s a quiet lookin’ kid with long, floppy black hair and downcast eyes. He sits in the far back corner, crosses his arms over his chest, and tucks his chin against his sternum. His brown eyes close and it looks like he’s already fallen asleep. Any thoughts I had about him being a quiet kid are shot to hell as he starts to snore. Whatever, it’s early. Let the kid sleep till class actually starts.

I go back to preparin’ the chalkboard and leave Snow White to his shuteye. Soon my class trickles to full. Some kids are noisy, others are still half asleep. Eventually the bell rings, signaling it’s time for me to start lessons. I begin by grabbin’ a copy of my thickest book and slammin’ it down on my desk. The noisy kids fall silent and look at me in surprise. The unconscious kids jerk awake and look around in confusion until their eyes are on me.

Good mornin’, Class,” I address my new students. “My name is Mr. Stackhouse. I’m the new history teacher and this is World History. Before we dive into it, let’s do roll call.” I pick up my first period class registration and quickly get through it, checkin’ off people’s names. “I’m gonna pass out this seatin’ chart. Write your name in the corresponding box, and congratulations! You are now married to your seat for the remainder of the semester.”

My mornin’ goes the same for each class. Same preparation, same announcement from class to class. World History, Ancient/Medieval History, Geography, and Government. Those are my classes this year and I’m stoked about the first two, a lot less stoked about the other two. Whatever, I think as I grab my thermos and head to the Teacher’s Lounge for lunch. My sister waves to me from a round table and I sit next to her.

How was the first half of your first day?” She asks, bubbly as ever.

Good. Only a quarter fell asleep so far. I think that’s good for a history teacher on the first day. To be fair, that entire quarter was my Geography class. It’s just so hard to make country borders and topographical maps interesting,” I tell her as I open my thermos and take a swig.

Is that all you’re eating, Jason?” A nosey P.E. teacher asks of my thermos. “You need more than that to maintain that muscle mass.”

It’s a protein drink,” I tell him. When he seems to have gone back to mindin’ his own business, I turn back to Sook, “How were your first classes?”

“Okay,” she smiles. “A lot of groaning when we went over the assigned readin’. My American Lit. Class wasn’t so happy about some of the novels, but they’ll get over it.”

I laugh and nod as Sookie dives into her three-course lunch. The gym teacher looks surprised at how much my little sister can pack away, but wisely keeps his mouth shut this time. He obviously knows that you don’t comment on a woman’s eating habits.

While she eats and I sip at my drink, I write her a quick note.

~ Had a Were in my second hour class. Don’t think he stopped staring at me for a second. His notes are going to suck. ~

She continues munchin’ on her sandwich as she takes my pen and replies.

~ Had a shifter just before lunch. He seemed very confused by me. I think he’s too young to understand what I am in the culture. His name’s Taylor Charleston. Check to see if you have him. I didn’t get a chance to get a good read on him, but he’s a freshman and I don’t know if his magic has popped yet. ~

I nod in understanding and sip at the last of my blood. I can feel my fangs pulsin’ in my gums, wonderin’ why they’re still sheathed when blood is on my tongue, but I ignore them. The past few years have given me plenty of time to hide the telltale signs of what I am. My fangs don’t pop unless I’m really caught off guard and no human has managed that in almost two years now. Also, it took a few months, but I finally managed to pull off a glamour. Apparently, I’m pretty good at it ’cause Sook said the human’s mind accepted it seamlessly. She said it was almost difficult for her to tell the memory I left her with was a fake one.

That sorta makes me nervous. I can manipulate humans way too easy for my likin’. I hope I don’t abuse that ability…

You’re thinkin’ awful hard,” Sookie comments as she dabs at the corners of her mouth with a napkin.

A shrug lifts my shoulders, “I guess I’m still distracted by some of the things we’ve learned over the past few years.”

Sook folds her hands under her chin and gives me a thoughtful look, “I have faith in what Endy has told us. Even if there are things he could not foresee or determine the origins or weaknesses, he’s seen us far, far beyond now. That’s all the reassurance I need.”

My sister’s words ease my nerves and I gotta confess she’s becoming the woman Endymion knew she would be, cool, considerate, and still absolutely lovely. I think Faith is her greatest strength. She has faith in me to keep it together. She has faith in Eric to love and protect her. She has faith in everything Endymion has seen for us. Most of all, she has faith in herself and that she will reach all those expectations the universe has set for us.

Earth to Jason,” Sookie laughs as I’ve spaced out again.

Sorry,” I laugh. “I just keep gettin’ caught up in all that’s happened over the past few years. I wonder when it’ll all settle for me, y’know?”

Sookie nods in understanding, “I do know.”

We finish our lunches, and then go back to our classrooms. It’s sometime halfway through fifth period when I feel the most unearthly rattle in my connection to Godric. All my willpower goes to keepin’ my face straight as Agony unlike any I’ve ever known tears through me like a knife, worse than the shredded muscles and tendons my shoulder had, more gut-wrenchin’ than losin’ my parents and Gran, and more destructive to my soul than seein’ my sister’s body disappearin’ from starvation I was failin’ to prevent. I feel blood in my eyes and need to turn away from the class.

Whatever’s happenin’, Godric’s tore up and it’s significant enough that he can’t even close his end of our connection. Ah, God, make it stop! I think desperately as bloody tears threaten to spill and divulge my true self.

Mr. Stackhouse, are you all right?” One of my students asks nervously.

Thinkin’ quick, I clutch my side, “Y-yeah, sorry, guys. I got a cracked rib and I must’ve strained it.”

There’s a real brief murmur as my excuse is digested. Before anyone can ask questions, my classroom phone rings and I reach to answer it.

Yeah,” I rumble into the phone.

Jason, your brother called. He said there’s an emergency?” The school’s receptionist, Tammy, tells me.

Which brother?” I ask.

Godric,” Tammy replies. “He left a message saying he’ll be arriving tonight and to keep an eye on your sister.”

Something happened to Cammie! Fuck! Somethin’ happened to Cammie! I think wildly, “Okay. Thanks, Mrs. Parker. I’ll be right there.”


I hang up the phone and turn to my class. “I want notes on the first two pages of the first chapter by the time I get back from the office,” I command before leavin’ to glamour the hell outta Tammy. That was too weird a phone call and message to let a human remember.

I’m in the office in a few short minutes and Tammy looks at me in confusion. “Your brother isn’t on the line anymore,” she tells me.

I know,” I catch her gaze and she slumps slightly in her chair. “You answered a crank call and I just wanted to tell you that.”

I’m sorry,” she says slowly. “That must have frightened you.”

It’s all right, Tammy,” I assure her frazzled mind. “No harm, no foul.” It’s a lot easier to change a human’s interpretation of a situation than to change the memory entirely.

Slowly I drift Tammy out of my glamour and she blinks rapidly several times before shakin’ her head. “I can’t believe I scared you like that! I’m so sorry!” she apologizes again.

Like I said, no harm done,” I pat the counter before wavin’ goodbye. Next, I swing by Sookie’s classroom and pull her out.

What happened?” Sookie demands as her door snaps shut behind her. “Eric actually panicked a bit before he brought himself under control.”

I think somethin’ happened to Cammie,” I tell her quick and quiet.

What? How?” Sookie frowns.

I don’t know,” I confess, “but Godric’s on his way up here. Should be in by tonight.” Sooks nods and pulls her lips between her teeth thoughtfully. “I’m only tellin’ you this because I know you’re worried and I also know Eric’s not gonna call, too. They wouldn’t want to draw too much attention.” Sookie nods again and I pull her into a quick, comfortin’ hug outta view of her class. “It’ll be all right. No matter what it is that happened, it’ll be all right.”

Pullin’ away, Sookie wipes at her eyes and nods silently again before turnin’ back to her classroom. She doesn’t have any words of assurance or comfort, but the set of her jaw as she opens the door tells me her faith in the future remains intact.

Pam’s POV:

It is almost five in the early evening when I arrive in Shreveport. A rather concerning phone call from Godric has brought me here and I waste no time finding a taxi to take me to his home. So abrupt was my summoning, I did not even pack. I merely grabbed my purse and caught a flight.

Pamela,” Godric flings open the door as I walk up the steps to his front door.

Godric,” I reply worriedly at the look in his eyes as he opens the door further to usher me in.

I stare confusedly at the scene before me. Camilla is resting upon the sofa in an unsettling stillness that is like no sleep I have ever seen, but more like a vampire’s day death. If my body still could, it’s hair would stand on end as goosebumps broke out along my flesh. Instead, all I experience is a strange pain as if my heart has been staked and cannot mend.

Her cognition has been switched off. This must be the same condition Eric discovered her in nearly five years ago.

How?” I turn to Godric desperately.

My Maker’s Master points to the human I have barely even registered as present. He is a young man, probably Sookie’s age or a little younger. He is entirely human and his ability to bring Camilla to this Purgatory once more is confusing.

Godric goes to kneel in front of Camilla and takes her hands in his own. I see that those ancient, strong hands tremble with fear and agony I cannot begin to comprehend.

I was walking her to classes as I usually do,” Godric tells me. “That young man approached and I could tell he was not right. I could see the glamour. He stopped several yards away and shouted out to us. I thought perhaps it was a prank or perhaps not a glamour, but a man having a mental breakdown…until Camilla went unresponsive beside me. Her emotions vanished within me. It was like someone purged my entire body from the inside out with freezing water. She was gone from me,” Streams of blood wind rivers down Godric’s face as he finishes his tale and I feel my own crimson tears drip down my chin.

What were the words?” I ask softly. “Maybe if they turn off her cognition, repeating them will turn it back on?” I suggest hopefully.

Godric shakes his head. “I have tried that!” he barks in frustration and I regret making such an obvious suggestion. Of course, Godric will have tried countless options already. “I called you here for two reasons. One is to try to determine what vampire sent the human to recite those words and the other is to attend Camilla’s classes until we have figured out…”

It will be all right, Godric,” I try to comfort the eldest of our bloodline.

What if it was an imbedded memory reset?” Godric whispers. “What if Grissom left a code in her mind to wipe her memories?” He brings Camilla’s hands to his lips and kisses them frantically as if praying to his Bonded to rise from this nightmare. “I will never have my Camilla back. She will start from scratch all over again. What if I do not love that Camilla? What if she does not love me?”

Godric, get her to Ohio,” I tell him. “Jason has the best glamouring skills of our bloodline, shockingly enough. Maybe in her state he can try-”

He is not experienced enough. He could do more harm than good!” Godric snaps and kisses Camilla’s hands once more, rubbing his thumbs repeatedly into her palms.

What is it you suggest then?” I frown.

I am going to beg Sookie to cut off her wings,” Godric announces as he lifts Camilla into his arms.

But then-”

I know,” Godric whispers, cutting me off. “I am sorry, Pamela, but I will not live without Camilla.”

Though every fiber of my being wants to shriek and beg him not to even consider robbing the entire bloodline of our freedoms and futures, a newer, less selfish, part of me cannot bear to think of him existing another day after such a loss.

I will see what I can find out from this one,” I tell him without protesting his intentions.

Thank you, Pamela, and I am truly sorry,” he tells me sadly before leaving the house and taking off into the night sky with his vacant Bonded.

Turning to the captive who has brought this turmoil upon our bloodline, however unwillingly, I begin to dig for my answers.

Around one in the morning, I end my delving after concluding that this young man has what Sookie would call, “A hole in the head.” The memory of his encounter with whatever vampire has not been replaced, but blatantly ripped out, a very dangerous method that can inadvertently ruin the way a human’s brain forms future memories. If we all went around pulling this sort of crap, most of the human populace would be incapable of forming new memories!

I hate sloppy work and I am not all that gifted at glamouring. Whomever did this is not only gifted, but brutal. Initially, I would have thought Grissom or Compton because of the knowledge of some sort of mental self-destruct button in Camilla’s head. However, this car wreck of a glamour tells me it was neither. They both have too much respect for their skills to leave something this slovenly.

Still, that does not mean Grissom did not sell the code to some other vampire. It does not mean Compton did not discover or plant the code as insurance, either. Either way, it still comes back to those two. They are the only vampires Camilla has encountered since before becoming immune to glamour. They are also the only two vampires with the means and abilities to do this.

Even with my immunities, I can’t hope to detain or interrogate Grissom. However, I can easily make Compton spill his guts literally and figuratively.

Glamouring the young man to sleep until I return, I grab my purse, head out the door, and find my quickest route to New Orleans.

Jason’s POV:

I’m sittin’ as quiet and still as I ever have in my entire life. I can feel Godric approachin’ and I look to Eric nervously. All I can really feel is his presence. I can’t tell how he feels, just that he’s on his way.

There’s little else to do. Eric’s already told me that Godric rushin’ up North can mean only one thing. He’s comin’ to ask Sookie to chop off her wings and take away our immunities. Only problem is, Sook’s wings aren’t the source of our immunities, nor how they’re shared. That’s the work of the Blood Lettin’ Blade and Sookie’s own heritage. Hell, even if Eric turned Sookie, there’s no guarantee it would reverse Camilla’s immunity to glamour.

Godric will arrive in a few moments,” Eric tells me as he sits, holdin’ my sister’s hand, and pattin’ it calmly. I don’t know how he keeps so much in. Even though I can keep my body still, I know my face is tellin’ the entire room how nervous and uncertain I’m feelin’.

Like Eric predicted, the front door flings open and we all rise to greet Godric almost like a funeral procession. When I see Godric’s face, I realize somethin’ very dark and scary. Godric ain’t here to ask Sook to chop off her wings so we can reverse the damage done to Cammie. He’s here to ask Sook to chop off her wings so he can kill the both of them. If my heart could beat, it would break my chest right now!

Master,” Eric greets Godric all solemn and I can’t do nothin’ but keep my mouth shut. I don’t trust myself not to sob like a little bitch. A girl I’ve been comin’ to love like a sister is bein’ held limp and unresponsive in my brother’s arms. My new family is breakin’ and I don’t know any kinda glue that could put it back together.

While I stare sadly at Cammie, I feel somethin’. It’s a familiar sorta pull that tugs at some pure instinct in me. It has a taste, texture, and whispering voice. It brings me a calm relief that’s totally welcome right now.

Godric,” I start, but get cut off by a snarlin’ Eric. “What?” I ask him, more than a bit exasperated. Drama King much!?

Where the fuck is Pamela going!?” Eric roars as he takes out his cell phone and speed dials my friend.

I see Godric shut his eyes and frown, “She is heading South of my residence.”

She’s headin’ to New Orleans,” I announce with a shrug.

What?” Sookie frowns. “Why?”

She is going after Compton,” Eric groans as he snaps his phone shut when Pam’s goes to voicemail.

I nod in agreement. That’s really the only way she would head. There’s no way she could handle Grissom, even if she knew where he was, but Compton’s easy to find. He’s also a bit younger than her, so she can hold her own against him by herself.

She ain’t about to start a war, is she?” I ask with a groan.

Eric’s jaw clenches, so I take that as confirmation.

Sookie,” Eric turns to my sister and sighs, “could you grab the green portfolio in my desk? Master, please, put Camilla down,” He gestures to the livin’ room and the comfy sofas.

Godric nods slowly and lets himself be lead further into the house so we can all sit around comfortably. Sookie returns with the paperwork Eric asked for and sets it on the coffee table.

I have been keeping tabs on vampire movements since we disbanded from the community,” Eric tells us. Godric is sittin’ with Cammie’s head in his lap, strokin’ her hair all sad and slow. What is this feelin’ in me? I wonder. “Tracing donations and glamouring a few representatives along the way, I have discovered many “bought” politicians and officials. At first, I only focused on Louisiana, but have since expanded to include other vampire population dense states. Pam was supposed to bring me more information on New York, but was diverted. Nevertheless, I do have California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas under enough scrutiny to conclude a very intense political shift is occurring.”

Not that this is not fascinating,” Godric rumbles under his breath and I can tell he feels like he’s bein’ stalled, “but what are you getting at?”

The ruling vampires of the United States are trying to influence the next presidential election. My guess is a human is already being groomed for the position and is deeply funded by vampires,” Eric explains.

What makes you think that?” Sookie asks, but it’s me who answers.

“Those states you mentioned all have the biggest swing in the electoral college,” I realize.

Yes,” Eric nods. “This past year’s election went as normal, but now the vampires of those states I mentioned have four years to imbed the fondness for their chosen campaign hero in 2008.”

I thought a command only lasted three days,” I frown.

A command, yes,” Godric sighs, “but an alteration to memories is forever. Otherwise, we would have to track down and glamour every meal we had every three days to keep our existences secret.” He turns back to Eric and sighs, “You think war is coming.”

I believe something is coming,” Eric replies, “and without enough information, I cannot begin to presume what it means. Depending on those responsible for these actions, it could be something rather benign. Regardless, if they are trying to plant the next leader of the the United States, it is not a good thing.”

What could they be after?” Sookie asks with a frown.

It could be something as simple as having a vampire sympathizer in office, Sook,” I tell her. “They could just be trying to push some vampire friendly bills through office, or it could be more nefarious. Without really knowin’ who’s pulling the strings, it’s a mighty big gamble to let it follow through.”

Sookie looks at me skeptically, “You really think vampires could accomplish that in four years?”

Eric shakes his head, “I have seen vampires accomplish political shifts in a fortnight. Given a decade or two, they could change the world if they had half a mind. They changed the world overnight merely by exposing their existence. Do you really believe vampires did not already have several politicians packed neatly away prior to the Great Revelation? After all, many laws and restrictions to the vampire community cropped up a mere week after their existence was known, well thought out, but intentionally vague laws they could manipulate as needed. I should know, I was helping to write many of them prior to meeting you,” he tells my sister.

Godric has been silent up until now, but his voice finally comes out angrily, “This is your way of trying to dissuade me from ending mine and Camilla’s existences, correct? You think I would suffer for this cause a hundred-fold?”

Master, our bloodline is the only one who can stand in the way of another vampire’s motivation,” Eric tells him gently. “Do you not believe that Camilla might possibly be the first flame to this future war?”

You believe you are the only one who has seen this on the horizon? Perhaps you are the only one who has spent time trying to prove rather than speculate, but you are not the only creature who sees this coming,” Godric tells him, his voice a combination of growls and snarls. “You sit there in front of me with your healthy, safe Bonded and pretend to worry over the world, but I know the truth. You want your eternity with your Mate and eternal damnation to me in exchange-”

Stop!” I snap. “You two aren’t like this! Stop bein’ like this!” I demand. “Godric, Cammie’s gonna be just fine. Even if we do absolutely nothin’, she’s gonna be just fine.”

Godric looks at me in surprise before finally demanding, “How could you possibly know such a thing?”

Clenchin’ my fists, I say the thing that’s been ringin’ in my ears all day, “’I have faith in what Endymion’s told us. Even if there are things he couldn’t foresee or determine the origins or weaknesses, he’s seen us way beyond now. That’s all the reassurance I need,’” Sookie looks at me, surprised I’m quotin’ her, but gives a soft smile. “Endymion saw Cammie in the future,” I tell Godric soothingly. “He saw all of us as Impervious Immortals well down the line. She’s gonna be okay, Godric. It’ll hurt for a little while, but it’ll right itself. I promise.”

Godric pulls Cammie tightly into his arms and holds her there. It’s somethin’ I wish I could unsee. That kinda love and pain is just somethin’ I’m too young to understand. I hope I never feel that kinda pain.

On to Chapter Forty-Six!

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!

Catalyst Ch. 39

Chapter Thirty-Nine: For You, I Would

Pam’s POV:

Best graduation present ever,” Jason groans as he stretches awake. Kappa president, Cynthia Marsters, is still passed out with her head on his chest.

Yes,” I reply dryly, “I even let that ‘eat dat pussy’ comment slide.”

Jason gives me his lazy, fuck-tired grin, “I got excited. It was my first threesome.”

You did better than I expected,” I congratulate him. “I only had to keep our guest entertained for a collective hour during your recuperations.”

Just wait ’til January,” He smirks. “I’ll be the fucking Energizer Bunny. Y’all won’t be able to get the ladies offa me.”

Yes, and you will need a chaperone the first year or so,” I tell him amusedly after Cynthia moans and hugs Jason tighter. His response is to pick up her hand and begin kissing the inside of her wrist.

What’s that face for?” Jason asks, staring at me and grinning amusedly.

“What face?” I can feel that my lips are pursed and my brow is furrowed.

You look ’bout ready to scold me,” Jason chuckles and gives Cynthia’s index finger a light suckle. She moans in her sleep and I think back to the last time I was cuddled by Jason Stackhouse. “Y’know, I got two arms and two tits. Ya can get some cuddles if ya want.”

My face tightens further at his taunt, but I cannot deny that perhaps I may be a little jealous of Cynthia. Something in the back of my mind is clearly stating that she is enjoying my cuddles. With a sigh and roll of my eyes to save face, I crawl up the length of the bed and flop into Jason’s offered arm.

I do not appreciate when he chuckles and kisses the top of my head, “Felt left out, didn’t ya?”

Shut up, Stackhouse,” I grumble and shut my eyes. I allow myself to get lost in his warmth and the gentle rise and fall of his chest as he breathes.

It strikes me for the hundredth time that in less than a year, I will never feel his warmth again. I will not lay in his arms and be rocked into sedation by his breathing. The realization is always startling in the despair it brings me.

What’s wrong?” Jason whispers.

I cannot help but laugh when he asks me that, “How do you know when something is wrong?”

I got a sister,” he says simply. “Vampire or human, I think I got a knack for judgin’ when a girl’s feelin’ down. I think y’all want us to know whenever something’s wrong.”

A moment of silence passes between us before I confess, “I will be sad when you become vampire.”

Why?” His question is entirely one of curiosity. There is no indignation nor annoyance.

I will miss your warmth and breathing,” I admit.

Well, I can always pretend to breathe,” he points out with a laugh. “I guess we could just crank up the radiator for some warmth.”

You know what I mean!” I scowl.

Yeah, I do, but it’s the way it’s gotta be,” Jason sighs.

I pause a long moment after he says this. I pause because that isn’t the way it has to be. There is an alternative. One that Sookie would be so happy-

No, Pam,” Jason yawns.


You and I ain’t gonna Bond,” Jason clarifies he is well aware of my thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if he has his sister’s telepathy, but for vampires.

You could stay alive if we did. You wouldn’t have to give up-”

But there’s all the things you and I would miss out on,” Jason objects. “Listen, Pam, I know you think the whole romantic love thing is bullshit. You love me, you love Eric and Sookie and Godric, even Cammie now… But you don’t love us like Eric and Sookie love each other, or Godric and Cammie love each other. That’s okay. It just hasn’t happened yet, but if you waste it on me? It never will.”

That sort of thing is not meant for me, Jason,” I insist. “For you, I would give up the opportunity. It is no great loss for me.”

You say that now,” Jason smiles, “but I bet there’s some sexual tigress out there just for you. A girl who can put on the sweet girl act, but is a total vixen in the sack. You’ll meet her one day and you’ll look at your thrown away Bond, and then hate me and yourself.” I cannot help but roll my eyes at his assessment. “And y’know, I know I could love a woman like that in the future. Not right now, though. I wanna fuck anything and everything I can before I meet my girl. I wanna be the best lay she could ever hope to have, so she never even thinks about wanting to fuck somebody else.”

You are an idiot,” I tell him. “I am offering you the chance-”

You’re takin’ away my chance, Pam. You’re takin’ away your own chance, too,” he argues gently. “All ’cause you’re scared I’m the closest you’ll ever get to something epic or legendary like Eric and Godric have. I ain’t as scared. I know my girl’s out there. I know yours is, too. So, let’s not be scared. Let’s just have fun ’til we find them.”

You desire a Bonded,” I realize.

Jason gives me another of his sweet grins, “Damn right, and I know it’ll happen when we’re ready for it.”

What if I am never ready?” I ask quietly, almost afraid it is my real problem. Was I too broken in my human life? Perhaps I am to jaded by time and experience. The desire or will to love has never afflicted me. Eric experienced loved in his human life and Godric longed for it. I never did. Maybe at the time of my human conception I was made wrong. Am I missing something? Am I defective?

She’ll come along, Pam,” he assures me. “Godric didn’t think it’d ever happen to him, but it did. Although, so far y’all seem to Bond to damsels in distress. What, Sook gettin’ mugged, Grissom takin’ Cammie, but I bet that’s just a fluke.”

What do you think your future Bonded will be like?” I ask him curiously. Perhaps if I have some inkling of what I should be looking for, it might seem more plausible.

Ya gonna paint my nails and do up my hair while I tell ya?” he teases while adjusting Cynthia’s head more comfortably against his chest. I had almost forgotten she was there.

If you would like,” I tease right back, but in my much dryer tone.

Nah, that’s okay,” He gives me another exaggerated grin. “As for my wife? I dunno, but she’ll have a killer smile. Smiles for days, y’know? I don’t care much what color hair or eyes she’s got, just so long as her smile is beautiful. Not your snarky li’l smirk neither,” He points at me accusingly. “Sweet and beautiful and genuine. I guess I’ll figure out the rest as the years go by, y’know?”

All I can do is shake my head in amusement. Only Jason can take something as complicated as Bonding and remove the unsurmountable anxiety from the prospect. Still, he is young, and probably cannot fathom the centuries, or possible millennia of waiting for your mate to be born. He cannot grasp the panic of spending another century alone.

Personally, I do not get it either, but I have experienced it from Godric through Eric. They were short, fleeting glimpses, but it was enough for me to never long for love or Bonding. Now, feeling not only the Master of my Bloodline, but my own Maker clutched in the embrace of a Bond, it is all I can think about. Every moment I spend seems to have that very thought running in the back of my mind.

My and Jason’s discussion is ended when Cynthia stretches against his chest and blinks her eyes open. “Oh,” she giggles, “hi!”

Hey there,” Jason grins down at her and captures her mouth with his own. “Passed out on me, huh?”

Mmm,” she moans and gives another stretch, pushing her breasts firmly against him. “How long was I out?”

Only an hour or two,” Jason tells her, stealing another kiss.

Ugh,” Cynthia grunts and tries to sit up. “I have to get back to the sorority and finish packing. My Sisters are throwing me a going away party, and I won’t have time to pack tonight.”

You want me to drive you home?” Jason offers.

Cynthia smiles at him and steals her own kiss, “No, you two have done more than enough for me already,” she laughs. “Don’t change, Stackhouse.”

Our little playmate crawls out of bed after that and quickly dresses. After she is gone, Jason flops back against his pillow and groans, “Man, I can’t believe I get to spend centuries doin’ shit like this!”

All that I can offer is a soft, quiet smile. I hate that Stackhouse always manages to give me far too much to think about.


Yes, your Majesty,” Eric replies into the phone. “Thank you very much. You are most gracious.”

It is my pleasure, Northman,” I hear Sophie-Anne answer and I roll my eyes. Offering the use of her estate for Eric’s wedding is nothing more than an excuse to have her own security running the event. Of course, having the nuptials at a Queen’s compound also means that other royalty will be invited, which means Sookie can look forward to the best gifts that not even money can buy.

I watch while Eric hangs up the phone and groans. “Not so thankful?” I cannot help but goad him.

Eric looks up at me from his desk. “What was your first clue, Pamela?” he asks.

Perhaps the way your jaw tightened so severely I thought I heard a tooth crack?” I consider.

Sookie will not have a single thing she wants if our wedding is held at Sophie-Anne’s estate,” Eric growls in frustration. “She will not even be able to wear her heirloom gown if that much royalty is present.”

Then decline her offer,” I shrug disinterestedly. “It is not as if we are truly beholden to anyone any longer.” Of course, that does not mean we should go about rubbing influential vampires the wrong way. Still, if anyone plans on upscaling my Barbie Doll’s wedding, I will be damned if it is accomplished by anyone but myself!

I plan to decline Sophie-Anne’s offer,” Eric tells me. “It is a matter of doing so diplomatically. There is always a way of amicably refusing someone’s generosity.”

You are going to consult Sookie, aren’t you?” I accuse playfully. It is true, the Stackhouses are quite adept at politely refusing help. Why would they not be just as artful at declining lavish offers?

I am,” Eric confesses with a cocky smirk when he rises from his desk and vamp speeds his way to the drawing room. “Sookie,” I hear him begin. “The Queen of Louisiana has offered to host our wedding celebrations at her estate.”

Oh, that was very kind of her,” Sookie sincerely voices, making me contain a howl of laughter. Yes, kindness was Sophie-Anne’s motivation, not the opportunity to host the most novel and rare gathering in the vampire community!

Yes, however, if our wedding took place at a royal estate, it would mean that our guest list would rise from seventy-five to about seven hundred and fifty,” Eric exaggerates only moderately. Seven hundred and fifty might be invited, but only about five hundred would show up.

A-are you serious?” Sookie stammers in shock.

Quite. And many would be politicians and vampire royalty,” Eric tells her. “It would mean that your mother and grandmother’s dress would be viewed as…inadequate for your wedding gown,” Eric sounds legitimately regretful.

Oh, I see,” Sookie deflates before quietly continuing, “Would it be wiser for us to accept rather than come up with some reason to decline?”

That does not matter, Sookie,” he tells her gently. “What matters is what you want.”

I can practically hear Sookie biting her lip thoughtfully. “This might sound paranoid, but if we do decide to accept her offer, I don’t think Jason should be there. The idea of that many higher-up vamps makes me uneasy. I’d be worried someone might hurt him at the wedding if the Queen hosts it,” Sookie finally admits reluctantly.

I must admit, I never would have thought our little Sookie could be so pragmatic, but she has a habit of surprising me. By the hesitation Eric’s exhibiting, I can guess he is just as stunned by her statement. Rather than wait for him to find his words, Sookie continues, “Do you think Pam would be able to spruce up my wedding dress, so it might not stick out like a sore thumb?”

Before Eric can reply, I shout down, “Of course I can!”

Sookie giggles and tells Eric, “All I need for this wedding is you, Eric. If Jason can walk me down the aisle and I get to wear some incarnation of my Gran’s dress, that’s just a bonus. It’s a little thing for me to sacrifice, but it will give us the opportunity to cement some good associations and relationships before we turn the vampire world on its ear.”

You are quite right,” Eric tells her, and I hear the awe and affection in his voice.

Pam,” Sookie calls to me, “if you’d like to coordinate all of the details for me, I think that would be best.” My body tightens excitedly at Sookie’s consent. Have I just been given free rein to coordinate her wedding!? “You know my taste, and you know how to incorporate it into something beautiful and opulent.”

You had me at ‘coordinate all the details!’” I assure her excitedly and run down the stairs to grin in her face. “I will consult you on shades and patterns,” I promise her before whipping out my cell phone and calling Sophie-Anne’s Events Coordinator. It is only a matter of minutes before Sophie-Anne’s youngest progeny, Grace, has assured me the information I will need will arrive by courier before morning. “Where did you put your dress? I need to look it over objectively. Eric, I am taking it and going to my condo,” I tell my Maker quickly. I have the opportunity to blow Sookie’s mind again, and I am not going to waste it!

Jason’s POV:

Damn, I’m a college graduate, I think amusedly. I’m sitting in the kitchen of my lonely apartment, lookin’ for a job to tide me over until I get turned. Pam’s said I’ll stay with her at her condo after I get turned, but, for now, I’m still in the duplex where my life was turned around.

It’s crazy thinkin’ back to just two years ago. Back in May, 2000, when Sookie and I went full-time at our jobs, scramblin’ to save up enough money to survive the upcoming football season, I honestly thought we’d never make it to this day. I was certain somethin’ would have to give well before I could graduate college, mainly my shoulder. Instead, two vampires came into our lives and saved me and my baby sister in so many ways, there just ain’t enough words to thank them.

Hell, I wouldn’t even be alive today if we hadn’t met Eric and Pam. If I hadn’t been given Eric’s blood to heal my shoulder, there’s a real good chance I would have been killed by that maniac on Christmas morning. Sookie would have been all alone in the world, or thrown into the care of Aunt Linda. Would Linda have killed Hadley if Sook had been stayin’ with them? I wonder, but the thought quickly slips away. After years of strugglin’ to keep afloat, it’s become natural not to dwell too long. Every so often I slip down the hole of ‘what if,’ but they’re short, little falls that’ll only make me pause a moment.

A knock at my door makes me look up from the newspaper I wasn’t really readin’ and I get up to answer it.

HEY!” My sister launches herself at my middle and ’bout squeezes the life outta me.

Hey, Sook,” I laugh and hug her back. “What’re you doin’ over here?”

I go about makin’ a pot of coffee for the two of us while she starts chattin’ ’bout the changes in her wedding plans.

You’re gettin’ married in New Orleans now?” I ask in surprise after we sit down to a cup of coffee and she gives me a weak, little shrug. “You ain’t happy about it,” I point out.

I’m… Conflicted,” she mumbles. “I mean, it’s gonna be an awfully big wedding with a bunch a people I don’t even know.”

I give her an encouraging smile. “Yeah, but you can charm most anybody. I’m sure they’ll talk to you five minutes and fall in love.”

She gives my shoulder a playful punch. “Whatever,” She rolls her eyes.

It’ll be fine,” I tell her soothingly. “Besides, if you really don’t wanna do it, just tell Eric. He’ll put a stop to it.”

His ‘boss’ is the one hosting it now. I don’t think it would be a good idea to turn her down,” Sookie’s entire face droops with a frown.

So? His boss don’t got any room in his personal life,” I tell her.

My sister shrugs half-heartedly before mumblin’, “I just got this feelin’ that if we refuse, something bad will happen.”

Is it a heart feelin’, or a head feelin’?” I ask.

Head,” she admits reluctantly. Sookie knows I accuse her of spendin’ too much time in her head. I guess that’s a problem for a telepath, though. She’s seen so many mental reactions alongside the physical reactions that I guess I can’t blame her. That’s why I think we’re so good for each other. Even though I’m no idiot, Sookie has always been the brains between the two of us. I’ve always been more of the do what I want and accept the consequences type, although that side of me hasn’t shown up again till recently.

After I was made Sookie’s guardian, I couldn’t be as impulsive. Given my age, one slip-up would mean I wouldn’t see my baby sister ever again, so I put all that energy and idiocy into working myself to death. Strong enough to do it, stupid enough to ignore the strain it put on my body.

During our three years struggling to stay together, I’d gone from 171 pounds to 128 pounds, and I had been solid muscle before our Gran had died. Bein’ a QB that light is like askin’ to get wrecked. College tackles tear through you like tissue paper, and there’s not enough pads or flesh to dampen the impacts. I bruised for months after my offensive tackles couldn’t protect me and more injuries than just my shoulder would keep me awake some nights with their singin’. To this day, I don’t know how we survived those three years, but here I am, sittin’ across from my sister, healthy as a horse, and a college graduate. The first Stackhouse to graduate college…

I suppose I’m conflicted because there’s very few things I want for my weddin’. I want Eric, you, and Gran’s dress. If I got those, then it could be held in a cemetery for all I care.”

Well, it is a vamp weddin’,” I tease her and she rolls her eyes. Problem is, even though she’s rolllin’ her eyes at me, I just feel this sadness about her. Something’s buggin’ her, and my tone goes from teasing to concern, “What’s wrong, Sooks?”

I don’t want to have it at the Queen’s,” she whispers.

“Why not?” I ask just as quietly.

I’m scared you’ll get hurt,” she confesses.

My face folds into a frown after she says this, and I realize a lot of things. Eric made some bold statements to a really important vamp not too long ago, and if that vamp shared any of those views with others, this weddin’ party might turn a bit sinister. That wouldn’t matter none, if it weren’t for me and my pesky mortality. I’m officially the weakest link in our chain. Sure, Sooks and Cammie can’t fight for nothin’, but they also can’t be killed. I won’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell, no matter the odds if a single vamp decides to be makin’ examples. Worse yet, Cammie and Sooks is Bonded, so that makes me and Pam the only fair game if laws are followed. Hurt Eric by hurtin’ Pam, or hurt Eric by hurtin’ Sookie by hurtin’ me. Man, I’m a part of this no matter what.

Then I’ll get turned between Thanksgivin’ and your weddin’,” I finally decide, makin’ my sis look at me in surprise. “That way, you get one more food holiday with me, but I’m just as indestructible as any of ya for the nuptials.”

Oh, Jason,” Sookie moans, “I hate for ya to feel this kinda pressure!”

Ain’t no pressure, Sook,” I assure her with a laugh. “I’ve been achin’ to turn, honest, I have. I’m sick of bein’ the odd man out. I wanna feel part of your family again and lately, it don’t feel that way. I feel like you and I are drifting apart and that’s okay. It’s the good drift, like a brother and sister startin’ their own lives, but there’s this divide I can’t reach across anymore. I can’t protect you like I could before.”

You don’t have to,” she assures me.

I know, but I’m your big brother. I gotta always have your back,” I tease with a wink, making Sookie laugh and then give me a big hug. “So, I’ll let Godric know that I’m good to go a couple days after Thanksgivin’.”

I love you, Jason,” Sookie murmurs into my chest, and I run my hand over her head soothingly.

Love you, too, Sooks,” I whisper right back and kiss her crown.

We talk awhile longer about the wedding, and I swear she’s just ’bout ready to burst into a ray of sunshine now that she’s not so worried about me. I can’t really absorb anything she’s said, I’m too busy trying to permanently memorize how she looks right now. I’m not doin’ it so I can remember her this happy. I know she’ll be this happy the rest of eternity. I’m memorizin’ her face because this is how happy I want to make someone in the future. This face is how I’ll know my Bonded because I know the smile on Sookie’s lips and the glow in her eyes has nothin’ to do with me or my willingly be turned a month early. My sister is happy to be marrying the man of her dreams. She’s the exact image of a woman who’s found her soulmate.

And I want to recognize it when I see it aimed at me.

On to Chapter Forty!

Catalyst Ch. 38

Chapter Thirty-Eight: Decisions

Godric’s POV:

I am beginning to think,” I murmur at the tinkling of bells and flash of light beneath the door while my lover and future Bonded lays naked and sleeping in my embrace, “that you are something of a voyeur.”

The Voice of The Pantheon lets loose a chuckle as he enters and leans against the doorframe of my bedroom. “Well, as you know, I never interfere until events lead me to doing so,” Endymion replies.

Am I to assume the event to which you refer is my impending Bonding?” Crossing his arms over his chest, Endymion nods. “And are you here to stop me?” He shakes his head. “With what must you interfere, then?”

It isn’t as much to ‘interfere’ as it is to warn,” Endymion finally speaks. “You and Camilla have a choice to make and that choice must be made before your third exchange.”

I attempt to maneuver Camilla’s sleeping head against my arm, so that I might sit up and more comfortably converse with my Bloodline’s own, personal Seer.

Now, now,” Endymion laughs, “I am not your own, personal anything. Just as I have told you all before, Eric and Sookie have earned my respect many times over, and what you are all experiencing is the benefit of their accomplishments throughout space and time. Nevertheless, the gifts I give do not come without consequences, and I intend to call in a few debts over time.”

My lips curl angrily, “You mentioned no such debt before Sookie and Eric Bonded!” My voice is harsh, but I keep it low as not to wake Camilla.

Believe me when I say I have known Sookie a long time, and am aware that ultimatums are a risky way of dealing with her. You will have options in the future, but I guarantee that when you hear of my requests, you will wholeheartedly desire to work with me,” Endymion announces.

There is a crease in my brow while I consider his statement, but as most situations with The Voice go, it is better not to dwell. “What is it you came to speak to me about?”

Endymion smiles, “Upon Bonding with Camilla, she will become part of your Bloodline.”

Yes,” I reply, not comprehending his reason for explaining to me something I had already known.

After she becomes part of your Bloodline, she will acquire the same protections,” he states with added emphasis.

She will become a Living Immortal like Sookie!?” It takes great willpower not to raise my voice in surprise.

She will,” Endymion nods. “She will maintain a rather human existence much as Sookie does. The only differences between Camilla and Sookie are that Camilla will not sprout wings, and will continue to be unable to have children by a vampire. However, that inability does not stem from the absence of Camilla’s reproductive organs. Had Camilla remained…intact prior to her Bonding, she would not have developed the same ability to bear children due to the absence of Fae ancestry. Since it is not a form of protection, it will not be granted by the Bloodletting Blade’s magic.”

That means,” I frown, considering the Voice’s words, “if she is a Living Immortal, I will not be able to turn her at any point.”

Correct. If it is yours and Camilla’s desire for her to become vampire, it must be done the evening that you are Bonded, or remain unbound and merely turn her. Those are your options. However, Bonding and turning simultaneously is very difficult. You may accidentally kill her without completing the Bond or metamorphosis,” Endymion explains. “Your success rate as I have witnessed it is as such; one hundred percent success of Bonding and Camilla becoming a Living Immortal, ninety-nine percent chance of turning her vampire without Bonding, and only a twenty-seven percent chance of successfully Bonding and transforming her into vampire.”

Why would I take such a risk?” I ask of Endymion.

The Voice replies by pointing at Camilla, “You honestly believe she desires to be a weak link? Unlike Sookie, her continued pulse does not benefit the Bloodline. If she became vampire, she would be able to protect Sookie like her brother intends to soon. Camilla never wants to be a victim ever again.”

I frown and look at my future Bonded. I know Endymion’s assessment is correct and now I have a decision to make. I could Bond with Camilla this very evening without ever telling her of the repercussions. She would be a Living Immortal and we would all just accept it. She would never need to know there had been other options. Yet, beginning my existence with my Bonded on the heels of a lie is a greater sin than all the others I have committed in my time on this Earth. With that realization, I think of something else I must know.

Before you leave,” I whisper, “may I ask a question?”

You may, but I could be unable to answer it,” Endymion replies in his usual manner.

You said that Sookie’s ability allows us to share immunities… Will this mean Sookie’s immunity to Glamour could be Camilla’s as well?”

Endymion smiles as if he sees my thoughts, “That is correct.”

Then Camilla will never lose her memories again,” I murmur.

She will not,” he agrees. “She will also receive the vampire immunity to Sookie’s telepathy. Her mind would be impregnable,” he offers.

A thoughtful sigh escapes me while I shake my head. There is no question that I must have this conversation honestly with my Bonded, but if I could assure her she will never be a burden by not becoming vampire, perhaps we will settle this easily, still Bonding this evening as we wished.

If that is all, I must be leaving,” Endymion tells me. “As you know, I should not remain in a single timeline for too long.”

I nod rather than speak a departing statement as The Voice of the Pantheon vanishes in his flash of light and tinkling bells. I wish he had left the room before doing that. The sudden brightness has roused Camilla and she stretches out against my side.

Hey,” she mumbles with a pleased smile on her lips. I cannot resist leaning over and kissing her mouth.

Good morning,” I reply to her drowsy morning greeting.

Mmm, I slept so good!” she tells me with that happy grin on her face.

I am glad,” I murmur, stroking her hair away from her face while she nuzzles against the side of my chest.

Everything okay?” she asks after I do not say anything else.

Someone stopped by to speak with me while you were asleep,” I tell her, continuing to absentmindedly stroke her hair.

Wow,” she laughs, “you must have really worn me out! I didn’t even feel you leave the bed!” She must notice my grimace, “Oh, God, were they in the room!?”

He was,” I nod my head. “His name is Endymion and he has a habit of popping in wherever and whenever he wants.”

“Pervert!” she squeals.

He is the Voice of God,” I tell her amusedly, making her face freeze, except for her widening eyes.

Are you serious?” she whispers.


And the Voice of God spoke to you? Do vampires get schizophrenia?” she asks jokingly.

I chuckle and shake my head, “He was the one who told us about the gifts Sookie would give us upon her Bonding to Eric.”

So, did he come to tell you she’s pregnant, like something out of the New Testament?” She is still being sarcastic.

He came here to warn me about our Bonding,” I reply, not letting her joking manner distract me from the importance of our conversation.

Camilla stares blankly at me after my comment before demanding slowly, “What do you mean?”

If we Bond, you will gain the gifts of the Bloodline,” I explain.

Yeah, I kn-”

You will be like Sookie, not like Eric, Pam, and I,” I cut her off before she turns this into another joke.

A Living Immortal?” she asks quietly. “No speed, no strength? Nothing cool?”

There are options,” I continue in a whisper. “I could turn you without Bonding-”

I don’t want that!” Camilla protests.

I could try to Bond and turn you in the same process, but I have been warned that… I… I could kill you if it fails,” I tell her.

Odds?” she asks weakly.

No risk with Bonding or turning, but if we try to Bond during the metamorphosis, I am far more likely to kill you than succeed,” I try to sound apologetic. Camilla raises her head from where it was resting on my chest and sits up in bed. “Mila-”

I just need a minute,” she tells me after she climbs out of bed. I feel her pain and disappointment. “I need to… Can I just go see Pam and Sookie?” she asks.

Of course-”

Great,” she murmurs and quickly gathers her clothes to dress. All I can do is watch while she pulls her clothes on and practically runs out the door.

Eric’s POV:

I stare at the door while repeated knocks hammer against it. No one comes by during the day unless Sookie is here, but my Bonded is in class right now.

Sookie!? It’s Cammie! I need to talk to you!” Camilla shouts, and I snort on a chuckle before letting her in. “Oh!” my Master’s lover is disappointed to see me, “I was hoping to talk to Sookie.”

She is in class right now,” I remind her. This is surprising since Camilla knows Sookie’s schedule so well.

I forgot,” she mumbles. “She gets back at three?”

Is everything all right?” I ask her.

If you could turn Sookie and still have all your immunities, would you turn her?” Camilla asks me abruptly.

Staring for a moment, I consider her question before laughing, “No! I prefer my Sookie warm and alive!”

Even though she’ll never be able to protect herself?” Camilla presses.

My expression transforms into one of complete disbelief, “Camilla, it would still be centuries before Sookie could defend herself against other vampires, even if she were one. With as much exercise she gets, mortal men would have difficultly harming her. She could outrun any average Joe. Besides all of that, I will never let Sookie defend herself. I will always be there when she needs me. Vampire, Living Immortal, or a regular human, I am never truly out of her reach. In this instance, I know where she is, how she feels, and how quickly I can get to her if she were attacked. Trust me when I say a human could not drop his pants before I was there ripping off his dick.”

What if a vampire took her?” Camilla is still looking for an argument.

Camilla, Sookie is my Bonded Mate. After the Supernatural world knows of our Bloodline’s immunities, there is not a creature in existence who would risk putting themselves in our crosshairs,” I tell her. At her doubt, I add, “I had this same conversation with Sookie before we Bonded. She had the same worries and concerns you have. She worried about being a burden. We assuaged those concerns by telling her we would happily protect her for the immunities she gives us, but the truth has always been that she and Jason are our family now. We will protect them and now, you, with the ferocity we would protect the vampire half of our family.”

When Godric and I Bond,” Camilla whispers, “I’ll be a Living Immortal like Sookie. I can never become vampire.”

Godric is going to love that, I think amusedly. “I see.”

I just feel like I’ll be on the sidelines, like Sookie, except I won’t be offering anything by being there,” she continues to confess.

Your life brings more light to Godric’s existence than the sun Sookie gave him ever has,” I tell her truthfully. “Believe me when I tell you that is just as important to Pam and me as everything Sookie has given us.”

R-really?” she asks me, hope clear in her tone.

Giving the young woman my best smile, I nod, “What good is immortality if you are miserable?”

I guess,” she murmurs, but I can still read her hesitation and concern.

I understand you do not wish to be looked after, and I do understand that, Camilla,” I smile as sympathetically as I am able. “Like Sookie and Jason, you do not wish to be left on the sidelines and protected. You wish to stand alongside the Bloodline and fight. That is admirable, but, as I have said, it would have been many, many centuries before you could have fought with us. Pam has only begun handling multiple Weres in head-on attacks. She will not fight with Godric and I any time soon. Jason will not be participating in battle for a long time, either.”

I just-”

Camilla,” I interrupt her continued protests, “argue as much as you like, but had you or Sookie ever been vampires, you would never have made it on to the battlefield. Godric and I fight more freely, not having to worry about you two. We were born to fight, and there is nothing wrong or disgraceful about being born as the someone whom a warrior comes home to.”

I watch Camilla stare at me wondrously. Her eyes are still hesitant, uncertain about how to interpret what I have said.

You and Sookie will give us far greater strength off the battlefield than on it,” I whisper.

Because you guys would want to protect us from more than just injury,” she murmurs, and I let out a relieved sigh, then nod.

I hope I have helped you as well as my wife could have?” I venture curiously.

Camilla smiles and nods, “Yeah, you really have. I don’t feel so disappointed… and… I just thought about it, if I’m a Living Immortal, I’ll always be the warm embrace he comes home to and I can nourish him forever. I’ll never have to see a different person in his arms when he feeds…”

I know I appreciate that knowledge when it comes to Sookie,” I agree.

And I’ll be able to keep Sookie’s food traditions alive after Jason is turned!” she adds excitedly, making me laugh. “We’ll both have someone who gets it,” she says. Looking up at me, Camilla grins and waves, making her way to the door. “Thanks, Eric! I feel much better! I’ll see you tomorrow as a Living Immortal!”

I chuckle and wave goodbye to Camilla while the front door swings shut behind her. Pulling my phone out, I call my Maker, “Master-”

Camilla was with you? Did she speak with Sookie?”

Sookie is at school,” I remind him with a sigh, but remember he is preoccupied with the situation at hand. “I spoke with Camilla. She should be on her way home now. I have eased her worries.”

You did?” Master asks in surprise.

Yes, Master. I do understand this situation, you know. Sookie and I went through the very same concerns before Bonding,” I tell him, attempting to keep the exasperation from my tone. Why does no one think I know how to speak to mortals? I have been lying to human women without glamour for many centuries, and I could not have done that nearly as well if I did not understand women.

Regardless, I thank you for assuaging her concerns. I feel her returning home. I will speak with you tomorrow-”

I doubt that, Master,” I laugh. “It will be your first day Bonded. I will not be insulted, nor surprised, if I do not hear from you for a week or longer!”

My Maker laughs at my comment, but chooses to reply by disconnecting the call. However, he does open his end of our link to allow me to feel his joy and excitement. It is a marvelous feeling, to finally know that the Master who taught me everything I know about this dark world, from whom I accepted every harsh lesson, is finally and blissfully happy.

Godric’s POV:

Hi,” Camilla greets me meekly when she comes in the front door.

Hello,” I return encouragingly. She does not have the benefit of feeling me yet and I sense her worry. My Mila believes she has upset me. “I understood that you needed to talk this out with someone other than me,” I assure her.

Camilla gives a weak raising of her shoulders, “I just feel like it’s something I should have been able to discuss with you…”

But it was not something you felt you could speak to me about. You know I love you and will have you any way I can,” I tell her soothingly. “Eric does not mince words, he does not try to protect your feelings. You know his words were truth, not comfort.”

I do,” She agrees with a slow nod. “He also told me that you and he are both warriors. Sookie and I aren’t, and it’s just as important being the one a warrior comes home to.”

A smile lifts the corners of my mouth, “That is the most important role. Being someone to fight for, to protect, is a far greater role than being the one who fights.”

I can better protect you by staying safely on the sidelines,” she continues quietly. I choose not to reply to that one. Acknowledging it and having it force fed to her are two completely different stances. “So, after the sun sets, I want you to know that I happily accept you as my Bonded and my future as a Living Immortal, not because I don’t have choices, but because I like this choice best.”

Before the sun sets, I want you to know,” I begin, “no one will ever be able to glamour you again. You will have Sookie’s immunity to it. Also, I will never keep a secret from you because you will have gained the vampire’s immunity to Sookie’s telepathy.”

Camilla’s eyes widen, “Seriously? Sookie won’t be able to hear me anymore? I’m going to miss that a little bit, but it’ll be nice not being the one left out of the surprise parties.”

She allows me to fold her into my arms and I hold Camilla a long moment before easing us toward the bedroom. Soon we are naked and beneath the bedding, touching softly, almost exploring, while we wait in a building anticipation for sunset.

I have envied Eric greatly over this last year,” I tell my lover softly. “He has basked in this beauty I have sought and circled the world several times over, and yet what I searched for practically ran into his arms.” She stares at me with wide eyes, running her smooth fingertips against my chest. “Now, here I lay with the most beautiful woman I have ever known and she is with me because Eric found his love first.”

You don’t think you would have found me otherwise?” Camilla asks me sadly.

Shaking my head, I confess, “If Sookie had not turned Eric into the vampire he is now, you would have been institutionalized if you were lucky, perhaps dead.”

That’s a rather strange series of events,” Camilla giggles softly. “So, in a way, Sookie saved me, too and found me my true love?”

I chuckle and shake my head, “Who is to know how a series of events moves? Even Endymion, Voice of the Pantheon, remains in the dark about many things. Still, he is unaware of how and when Sookie’s fertility will manifest. He knows enough to see it will happen, but this timeline has not come to a head yet for those events.”

Camilla’s brow furrows thoughtfully, “I don’t understand?”

The Endymions are the only creatures-”

Endymions? Plural?” Camilla interrupts in surprise.

I chuckle and nod, “Endymion is the type of creature he is, not his name. However, the meeting of two Endymions is so rare, they are called by their title, rather than their true names.”

“Oh,” She appears even more confused, so I choose to elaborate further on that matter.

Endymion is the only creature who may travel through time and space. This means he may jump ahead in a universe and see how everyone is doing, but may only interfere with an event once. Therefore, he probably gathered some information from a distance to confirm Sookie’s abilities. However, since he cannot act directly, his information is lacking. He would not want to interact with any key players in the event he had to return to that timeline and intervene,” I explain slowly, but I see Camilla’s head beginning to tilt as she falls into deeper confusion.

Cool?” She ventures after a moment and I laugh as she takes my wrist and places my hand over her breast. Camilla giggles while I begin to absentmindedly play with her breast. It has been a long time since I shared an easy intimacy of hands touching flesh for more than the purpose of arousal. My touch is one of affection and very little about my pleasure, or even hers. All that my hands know is their desire to be pressed against her skin at any opportunity.

How much longer before the sunsets?” Camilla asks me while my fingers tighten over her breast.

Another two hours,” I reply softly.

I’m feeling impatient,” she confesses with a giggle.

I am as well,” I admit.

What’s it going to be like? Such a large family of immortals?” Camilla murmurs curiously.

My lips turn upward, “Who knows? Life is now a limitless adventure. Perhaps we will open the school that is the Stackhouse’s dream? You could teach math,” I wink at her.

What would you teach?” Camilla giggles.

I suppose that depends on the level of schooling. If it were high school, I would probably teach sociology. If it were primary school, more than likely I would teach social studies,” I tease.

What about Pam and Eric?” Camilla presses, her face a wide grin while she pictures Eric or Pam as educators.

Eric should teach sexual education!” I remark with laughter.

Oh, no!” Camilla laughs loudly at my teasing.

Those two hours that felt an eternity away pass quickly in the company of my lover. She must sense the sun setting in her own human way because her hands clamp around my wrists and Camilla pulls me atop her impatiently.

Hurry, hurry, hurry!” she squeals excitedly while her legs wrap around my hips.

Mila, wait,” I am laughing as her mouth rains kisses wherever it can reach. Her teeth clamp playfully on my throat and I feel another chuckle tumble past my lips. “You are such an impatient creature.”

Impatient to be yours,” she replies with a kittenish whine.

Holding her face in my hands, I capture Camilla’s lips and kiss her slowly once more, “I am impatient to be yours as well, but let us not rush this.” Her body softens in my hands and I feel her mouth relax into a smile. “Thank you.”

It is not long before our slowly wandering hands grow impatient once more. This time, I am the one who can no longer wait, and Camilla does nothing to stop me from tearing into my wrist. I am barely able to offer her the wound before her lips are clamped in a seal around the injury. Her sweet mouth is suckling at my blood, silently encouraging me to open her throat and share in this exchange. I do as I am bidden and soon her blood is trickling into my throat. Her body is tightening in my embrace and her soul is braiding itself into my own.

Elation sings through myself and Camilla. Even as we reach new peaks of pleasure, it is still secondary to the overwhelming joy of being eternally united with our other half.

From this day forward, no matter where this world takes me, I no longer take the journey alone.

On to Chapter Thirty-Nine!

Catalyst Ch. 37

Chapter Thirty-Seven: Would You?

Camilla’s POV:

I never in the shortened memory of my life felt so exhausted upon awaking. Although, I amend my complaint after cool arms squeeze me tightly against a cold, solid chest, I could get used to this!

Good morning, Mila,” Godric rumbles against my throat and I tilt my hips to press my butt against his cock. He purrs against my ear, “Teasing or offering?”

Teasing,” I yawn, “until I’ve had some breakfast.”

Then it is in my best interest to feed you,” he teases right back, giving my throat a playful lick that makes my toes curl.

Playful Godric is hot!

You’re in a good mood,” I giggle, stretching in our bed while my lover finds a robe to wrap me up in.

Last night would put anyone in a good mood,” Godric points out, feeding one of my arms through a sleeve and then the other.

I know how to dress myself, you know,” I tell him, then poke my tongue out at him. “Do I look like a Barbie Doll to you?” I feel him hesitate for the briefest second, but it’s enough for me to mentally smack myself. “Not like that,” I tell him quickly.

I know, but that word will always hold a much darker connotation for me,” Godric reminds me, and now I feel like a jerk.

I’m sorry, I meant it to be funny, not mean,” I pout at him with the puppy dog eyes Sookie taught me, making sure to pull my bottom lip between my teeth a little bit. She says it works on Eric all the time when she has a slip of the tongue. Sookie calls it ‘Innocently Contrite.’

Godric smiles down at me, leans over, and kisses the pouty part of my lip not captured by teeth. “I know what you meant,” Godric murmurs against my mouth before giving me another kiss. “Still, I sincerely hope you might avoid using that word as any description of yourself.”

I will be more mindful of it,” I promise, giving him a sad smile.

Without another word on the subject, Godric pulls me to my feet and into his arms. I don’t stay on my feet for very long, though, because I jump and wrap them around his waist. He just laughs and starts walking us toward the kitchen.

Once Godric sits me on a barstool, he grabs my favorite cereal and some milk.

May I ask you something about last night?” Godric asks while he gets my breakfast together.

My face becomes a little red, but I nod, “Sure.”

Were you… Implying you want to Bond with me?” he asks quietly.

I force myself not to be nervous by his tone. I just wish I had as much insight into his mind as Sookie seems to. Even though she can’t hear his thoughts, she’s much better at understanding him than me. What would she make of that question?

I…” I stare at my hands and decide it would be worse to be dishonest and start dancing around each other again. “I was. I am,” I clarify that my mind hasn’t changed.

Even though I would turn you in the future?” Godric tests my resolve.

I roll my eyes, “Godric, if I join your Bloodline, the only thing I lose is the ability to eat food. I can’t have kids as it is, and everyone in your line is immune to everything. Vampirism, coming from your line, at least, isn’t much of a sacrifice.”

He laughs and shakes his head, “I suppose that is true.”

Then you’ll Bond with me?” I ask, hoping he’ll answer me with what I want to hear.

His expression softens, “Yes.” I literally climb over the counter and lunge into his arms excitedly. “Your breakfast-”

Later,” I crush my mouth against his.

It’s over an hour later that I finally get my breakfast. Godric insists on going over everything Bonding-related while I munch on my cereal. Several times I remind him that my best friend is Bonded and he gives me this sheepish grin. We don’t even need to be Bonded for me to know he’s excited, maybe a little nervous, too.

You do not feel we are moving too fast?” Godric asks me while he pushes my robe off my shoulder and kisses there softly.

I shake my head, “Nope. It feels perfect and right. There’s just one thing I need to know before we do this.” His face tightens, waiting for my question. “This isn’t about ‘ancient Rome Camilla,’ or just wanting to be Bonded, right? It’s me? I’m who you want, not a woman two-thousand-years’ dead, not just the Bond?”

Godric’s face softens into a lazy smile, “Yes, Mila. It is you I want. I would not even offer to Bond if I did not know for certain it is you. The Camilla of Ancient Rome is just a face and a name. She was not love, but a regret. She is not you. You are sweet, mischievous, and loyal.”

Like a Siberian husky,” I tease, catching his lips with my own for a slow kiss. After the kiss ends, I turn in my seat and wrap my limbs around him. “So, are we going to Bond slowly or quickly?”

Quickly, if you are agreeable,” he tells me with a gentle kiss at my throat. “If I could make the sun set twice more in the next five minutes, we would be Bonded before the end of the hour.”

I laugh and squeeze him tightly to me. “Oh, no!” I remember suddenly. He pulls away and looks at me in alarm. “I just remembered! I’m supposed to go dress shopping with Sookie and Pam today!”

Why is that a problem?” he asks, running his hands all over me.

“Because I want to stay here and just have you touch me all day,” I answer him, moaning while I tilt my head back for more kisses.

He smiles against my lips and replies, “I will be here when you return… That makes me wonder…”

What?” I close my eyes while he gives my throat a firm suckle.

Marriage. Is that something you might want? A human wedding?” he elaborates.

Hadn’t thought about it,” I confess.

While you are out with Sookie, perhaps you should,” Godric tells me.

Would I get a last name out of it?” I tease.

I use the surname ‘Gaul,’” he says.

Whatever,” I shrug. “I’ll take it.” He laughs at my flippant attitude about a wedding. “We have time to indulge later. Sookie’s going to wait eighteen months from the time she was Bonded to the time she gets married,” I point out.

That is true,” he agrees. “What time are the women picking you up?”

Pam’s picking me up at noon,” I tell him.

Godric looks at the clock and frowns, “You should start getting ready.”

How come you guys are cool with Pam going out in the day? You and Eric don’t take those chances as much,” I realize.

Pam is younger and her scent does not permeate as much as an ancient’s,” Godric shrugs. “She could scent a Were long before one would think to track her down. She is also the least likely to stand out on security footage.”

I guess that makes sense,” I sigh and give a slow stretch. “I’m going to grab a quick shower to rinse off last night’s activities. Join me?”

Godric gives me another one of his playful grins. I did that! I brought happiness to a two-thousand-year-old vampire! “If I joined you,” he runs his hands up and down my sides when I stand in front of him, “you would never become clean.”

Fair enough,” I peck his lips quickly before skipping off to the shower. I don’t let my hair get wet while I wash and shave. My hair’s been washed just the night before and doesn’t need it again.

After I emerge wrapped in a fresh towel, I find Godric laying on my bed.
Wait, is it our bed now? I wonder, totally pleased with the thought. He is reading a book, looking sexy, his hand resting on the patch of exposed skin between the tail of his shirt and the button of his jeans.

You look like you’re posing for a magazine,” I tease him while I head to our closet. This has always been ours. Ever since I came here, Godric had left his stuff in the bedroom. After I first arrived, he wore the same clothes for about three days while he tried not to invade my private space.

When I emerge from the closet, I see that Godric has stripped off his shirt and is on his knees with his hands behind his back, “How about now?” he asks, flexing his abs and making me fan myself, both out of arousal and in attempt to keep our playfulness going.

You could be on one of those sexy calendars,” I tell him with a giggle. “Twelve months of Godric… Firefighter Godric, policeman Godric, construction worker Godric… I’ll pick out a bunch of yummy costumes,” I give him a wink and make my way to our bed. Before I can get there, I hear Pam’s car horn, so I pout, “It’s time to go.”

Have fun, Mila,” Godric leans over and gives me a quick kiss before pulling away from temptation and flopping back down with his book. Sexy to casual. Sixty to zero in a split second. The deceleration just might kill me!

See you in a few hours,” I tell him with that same pout on my lips. I’d rather be flopped down on the bed beside him. Or on top of him…

I can’t entertain the thought any further, though, because Pam’s honking her horn in longer blasts now. With a sigh, I resign myself and slip on my shoes. Running out the front door, I wave at Sookie and Pam sitting in the van.

Morning!” I greet merrily, flinging open the back door and sliding into my seat.

Sookie cranes her head to look back at me, “Have a good night?” she asks knowingly.

Best of my life!” I assure her with a huge grin.

Your life consists of roughly four months,” Pam points out.

Okay, how about this?” I offer slowly. “Such a good night that losing twenty years of my life is not only acceptable, but greatly appreciated?”

Pam lets out an amused snort, “Am I to guess another shall share our Bloodline soon?”

I nod excitedly, “Godric already agreed to Bond!”

Sookie squeals excitedly and shimmies from the front seat to hug me. “This is so great! Are you two going to have a wedding, too?” she asks.

Frowning, I give a small shrug, “Maybe? I don’t know how long I’ll stay human. The risks of accidents and such are too great for me, you know?”

Now it’s Sookie’s turn to frown, “I guess that’s true…”

I’ll miss being able to ask you questions in my head, though,” I confess to my living friend.

It really is convenient,” Sookie laughs while Pam swerves in and out of traffic.

We arrive at the first shop on our agenda. It’s a dress shop and Pam’s excited to help Sookie pick out a wedding dress. The vampire pouts when a sales associate meets us at the door and automatically takes the wind out of Pam’s sails. Maggie, our assistant on the sales floor, takes the reins and barely listens to Pam’s suggestions while we are led to a private dressing room. Sookie finds herself thrust into a world of terms and questions for which she has no definitions. Lost, Sookie turns to Pam, and I giggle into my hands.

Listen, Maggie,” Pam snaps as our poor bride is overwhelmed by choices that need decisions, “while you find yourself searching your store, I want you to think very hard about these three words. Timeless, elegant, understated. This bride does not need bells or whistles to be any of those things, neither should her dress. She does not need layers upon layers to hide thick thighs or belly rolls. She does not need plummeting necklines to amplify her bosom, and if I see a fucking empire waist, I will murder you. Do you understand?”

Maggie’s jaw has slowly been working its way toward the floor and it takes a moment of her gawking at Pam before she nods frantically and runs away.

I’m surprised you’re even lettin’ me shop for my dress locally,” Sookie lets out an uncomfortable laugh, still a bit shook up from Maggie’s hounding questions. “I thought you were gonna sweep me off to Paris or somethin’.”

Pam scowls at Sookie’s comment. To be fair, I was thinking the same. “Eric has forbidden it.” Sookie and I exchange an exasperated, though, not a surprised glance. “He said unless you wanted a Parisian wedding dress, I was to stick to the States for choosing your dress… I suppose we could go to New York?” she eyes Sookie with what appears to be hope.

Our youngest friend giggles while she responds, “Let’s see what they have ’round these parts first!”

Letting out a suffering sigh, Pam relents, “Very well.”

It’s then Maggie returns with a half-dozen dresses, and hangs up all of them for us to start looking through. Pam is too quick for us, though, and she’s flipped rapidly through the garments. Stepping back, Pam frowns while her head tilts back and forth contemplatively. Finally, she grabs one of the dresses and hands it to Sookie.

It has your approval?” Sookie teases when she slowly starts toward the changing screen once Maggie leaves.

It is the only one I will not shoot myself in the head seeing you wear,” Pam offers, making both me and Sookie roll our eyes.

Sookie disappears behind the screen and, an eternity later, she steps out with a grimace-like smile on her face. She doesn’t like the dress and I can’t understand why! She looks like a beautiful princess!

Yes! That is an excellent dress!” Pam grins happily and comes over to Sookie, ignoring her strained smile. “It looks just the way I thought it might fit you,” Pam is folding fabric and nodding appraisingly. “Camilla, help her change out of this. I am going to search the rest of the floor to see if that saleswoman overlooked anything.”

Our vampire friend is gone in an instant and I look at Sookie worriedly, “You don’t like it at all.”

Sookie’s smile gets tighter, “It’s beautiful.”

But it’s not what you want,” I press.

No,” she confesses timidly.

Sookie, it’s your wedding,” I tell her. “Pam will understand… Er… Maybe…” I realize her problem. The bride worries her lip between her teeth, so I pull her into a gentle hug.

I just care about marrying Eric,” Sookie whispers. “It’s just…a dress.”

Sookie pushes me away suddenly, and before I can ask what I did, Pam comes barreling in. “You are still in the first dress? Honestly, must I do everything?” she grumbles while she hangs an armful of new dresses across a chair and comes to help Sookie out of the first gown.

Sorry, we got to talkin’,” Sookie mumbles when she is released from the dress and quickly starts peeling it off while Pam tries to shove another over her head.

I watch sadly as dress after dress comes on and off. With each one, I feel my heart break a little more while Sookie’s pained smile grows more and more into a grimace. I actually leave the floor for a second to wipe my eyes. I don’t know how Sookie holds in so much… It’s just killing me to watch and Pam’s acting like it’s all no big deal! I know she’s a vamp, but could she really not tell this is killing Sookie?!

Just when I storm back in to the dressing room to give the vampire a piece of my mind, Sookie’s getting yet another dress pulled over her head, and my hands ball up into fists. Before I can holler at our friend, Sookie gasps, then lets out a large sob. I freeze at the dress she’s wearing. It’s old.

I don’t mean vintage, it’s old.

Where? How? When!?” Sookie scrambles while she looks down at the dress, back at the mirror, then at the dress again. Her hands are gently running over the fabric almost as though she believes it might disintegrate if she touches it too firmly.

Pam’s face transforms into a mischievous grin, “After Eric bought your old home, he had all of the boxes and trunks placed in a storage locker. Since the house was so old and had been an ancestral home, he figured there might be antiques he could sell or donate. Of course, he was taking his time with it, and then he met you and your brother. Ever since he proposed, he has been looking for as much memorabilia of your family to bring out for the wedding.”

Sookie’s managed to stumble to the sitting area of the large dressing room and is still sobbing while running her hands over and over the material. She looks at me, filled with emotion, and weeps, “This is my Momma’s dress. Gran gave it to her to wear for her weddin’. It’d been hers and was s-s’pose to be m-mine n-next!”

Great, now I’m crying! I reach for my best friend and hold her tightly while my tears drip into her hair. “C’mon, Pam, get in on some of this estrogen!” I sniffle and beckon our vampire friend with a wave of my hand. Pam rolls her eyes, but takes a step over to pat Sookie’s head.

You are just lucky that your grandmother had good taste,” Pam grumbles.

Sookie’s POV:

Eric doesn’t seem at all surprised when I come crashin’ through our front door and leap into his arms. Actually, he’s lookin’ mighty prepared for it since his arms are open and he’s laughin’ into my hair as my face buries its sobs in to his shoulder. My arms and legs are wrapped around his body while I cry and his hands are holdin’ me by my butt as he just sways back and forth while I sniffle and thank him over and over again.

You act so surprised,” Eric laughs softly into my hair when one of his hands leaves my bottom to stroke the back of my head soothingly.

I didn’t know you kept everythin’ from the house!” I wail, clutching at him tighter.

I feel his confusion, “Pam did not explain why I still had it?”

She did, I just didn’t think you’d have cared to hold onto it before you knew me,” I confess as my arms and legs loosen around him and I slide back to the ground.

Eric gives me a wry shake of his head, “I was not in any sort of a hurry after I bought this house. Since I appreciated the peacefulness, I considered the possibility there would be furniture pieces I might want to include in the final design. I had Adriana Metcalf put everything into storage lockers and she pulled furniture when it was appropriate. Then, after I met you, I knew I would not be able to throw out anything until after you and Jason had an opportunity to go through it all. However, once we began talking marriage…” He tapers off with an embarrassed shrug. I think that’s the closest I’ve ever heard Eric come to babblin’!

I love you so much,” I tell him while I pull my fiancé into a tight hug.

Where is your dress?” Eric asks curiously.

Oh, Pam has it. She pinned it to me and is gonna get it ready for me for the weddin’,” I tell him with a big grin.

This is the most excited I have seen you about the wedding,” he tells me happily. His hands are on me, running up and down my sides, and we’re rockin’ back and forth almost like we’re dancin’.

I’m real excited now,” I confess. “I think my heart was a little broken at first, and I just didn’t know why till I had that dress on… It was like my brain went, ‘this is what you were missin’.’ Now I’m just so excited and happy, and I wish it was December already!”

Why did your Aunt not have the dress?” Eric asks me curiously.

Linda didn’t want to wear it,” I shrug. “She wanted her own dress, not Gran’s hand-me-down. My Momma told us she sobbed after Gran asked if she would wear it for her weddin’. Momma’s parents were dead and Gran made her feel like she had a family again when she offered her own weddin’ dress.”

Have you thought of what song you would like us to dance to?” Eric asks me next as we continue to rock back and forth. I shake my head and lean my temple against his chest while we just stand and sway.

I gotta figure out what I’m dancin’ to with Jason, too,” I realize with a grimace. “I just realized, I got no idea what all I’m supposed to do…”

Well, we need to know where we are getting married. We will need food for the human guests, tables, chairs, music, invitations will need to go out shortly-”

Uh,” I stop our music-less dance and lean back to look at my future husband. “Help?”

Eric grins down at me, “How about I order you a pizza, and then we start figuring out this wedding together?”

And that is why I am marrying this man!

Camilla’s POV:

And then!” I swoon, “Pam starts putting another dress over Sookie’s head, and it’s her mother’s wedding dress! Godric, it was so beautiful and sweet!”

Godric laughs while he runs his fingers through my hair, “It sounds like it was an exciting day.”

Did you know?” I ask in surprise.

Of course, I knew,” Godric frowns at me. “I have been helping Eric go through storage containers for the last two weeks while you were at work. Even Pam has been helping.”

You didn’t say anything,” I pout. His answer to my half-hearted accusation is to tap my head. “Oh, yeah. I can’t keep secrets from Sookie,” I realize and, for a moment, that makes my heart ache.

What is it, Mila?” Godric asks, and I assume it’s because of my little disappointment.

How soon after we’re Bonded… Do you think you’ll turn me?” I begin tentatively.

Whenever you wish, Mila. It could be the evening after or years down the road,” he tells me sincerely.

And will having both Jason and me as fledglings at the same time be hard on you?” I press.

Godric shakes his head, “Pam and Eric will be here to help Jason along, so I may remain focused on you. Honestly, with yours and Jason’s temperaments, I am not concerned in the least. You two would make poor vampires, but whatever it is you would call us now… You will be excellent.”

My brow scrunches as I admit, “I have no idea what you mean…”

With a gentle smile, Godric tells me, “Eric and I are prepared to retain some of our darkness… To keep a foot in the shadows… We were born from worlds of violence and war and it is second nature for us to fight. You, Jason, and Sookie are innocents compared to the worlds Eric and I have known and we will protect that innocence at any cost.”

I give my lover a wry smile, “I’d be far less innocent if I remembered what happened to me back in December.”

I am grateful that you never will, though saddened over what you have lost-”

I’m not,” I assure him firmly. “Whatever life I had prior to this one means nothing. You and the last four months mean more to me than anything or anyone of the last twenty years. If sacrificing twenty years gives me an eternity of your love, I won’t just accept it; I will grasp it gratefully.”

Godric strokes my hair thoughtfully before he speaks again, “Sometimes I wonder if you would feel that way if you had any memories of the last twenty years.”

I don’t care to live in the world of ‘what if’ anymore. I have amazing brothers and sisters because of your Bloodline. I have a man who loves me desperately and an eternity to love him back. Now, the sun has set and I am one day closer of having that life forever.”

Godric’s hand stops tangling in my hair and I smile as he covers my body with his own. Wrapping my arms and legs around him, I pull Godric closer as his mouth finds mine and our tongues lance against his distended fangs. As our blood mingles and trickles down our throats, all I can think is, One more night, and I’m part of this family forever!

On to Chapter Thirty-Eight!

Catalyst Ch. 36

Chapter Thirty-Six: By Any Other Name

Camilla’s POV:

Ugh, go away! I groan internally as, yet again, my manager looms over me like some conceited gargoyle.

I think I got it now, Jim,” I say as nicely as possible. When his brow furrows, I realize I could have sounded a little nicer, “Counting down a till isn’t that hard,” I try again to be both kind and dismissive. His presence makes my skin crawl, but I know Godric is picking me up tonight, so I’m a bit more confident about pushing against his infringement of my personal space.

Jim stands up straight, walks around me, and then leans against the wall of the counting room. I want to roll my eyes when he juts his hips outward in a ‘relaxed stance’ leaning against the wall. Get your dick out of my face! I think irritably while I count as fast as I can, checking my totals against my printout.

Once I’m done, I shove the tray at Jim and cross my arms over my chest petulantly while he takes it to the saferoom. Standing, I stomp back out to the floor to pick up the trash I neglected before closing. I’d been too busy before the doors locked, so I decided to do it while Jim finished with his nightly totals and paperwork.

I hold my hand to my face when I enter the little room with the garbage chute, a handy access panel that lets you throw stuff in the dumpster without having to leave the building. It smells disgusting in here, this sour, rotting stench that curdles in your nose. I’ve only been working here two weeks, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this smell.

Opening the hatch to the chute, I throw the bags of trash down the short passageway and snap it shut quickly. When I turn to leave, I let out a little shriek and clutch at my heart. Jim is standing on the other side of the door, staring at me through the little window that keeps employees from smacking each other with the door. Before my heart can calm, Jim flings the swinging door open and stomps into the trash room beside me.

I-I’m done in here,” I tell him nervously. Why is he in here?

No, you’ll always belong right here,” Jim laughs at his tasteless joke. Did he just call me white trash? I wonder in confusion. “And if you ever talk to me again like you did earlier, I’ll make sure you spend more time in here,” he says, losing his previous humor.

Talk like what?” I snap irritably. “If you didn’t stand on top of me, maybe I wouldn’t have to tell you to back off!”

He takes a step closer to me and I take a step back, my shoulders pressing against the wall. Ewww! Garbage juice… On my back!

Get out of my face,” I tell Jim firmly.

“Or what?” Jim demands, a smug grin on his face.

My entire face tightens into a scowl, “If you touch me, I’ll scream bloody murder, and my boyfriend will rip you apart!”

Jim snorts, reaching for me, “I call your bluff.”

I swear to God, I had no idea I had a horror movie-worthy scream in me. Fortunately, that’s exactly what pierces the air and Jim flinches away at first, probably in surprise. His hesitation only lasts a second though, then he slaps me across the face, silencing me. One of my hands reaches up to hold the stinging part of my face while the other tries to swat at his fingers after he starts grabbing at me. Eventually, I’m fighting with both hands and his grasps become less taunting and more intentional. He’s really trying to put his hands on me now!

GODRIC!” I yell after one of my hands gets pinned to the disgusting wall. “GODRIC!” I scream again, shutting my eyes in pain once his other hand grips me by the throat to shut me up.

The pain is short-lived, though, and before I fall into full-blown panic, I feel Jim’s hand leave my throat. I blink my eyes open and there’s my Godric, yanking this scumball off me. My hand touches my neck, finding it a little tender while my vampire is throwing Jim out of the disgusting room and stomping after him.

“Place your hands on her again and I will remove them from your wrists!” Godric snarls, “She quits. Fuck off!” I’m still standing in the garbage room like an idiot when Godric comes back to me. He touches my wrist when he comes to stand in front of me and my hand drops to show him whatever damage my body’s sustained. “A few light bruises, but nothing too painful,” he assesses calmly and maybe I’m a
little disappointed he’s not angrier. “Come, Camilla,” he takes my hand and leads me out of the store.

I don’t spot any broken windows or doors, then realize he must have picked his way in or something. My heart sinks further. My safety didn’t even warrant a frantic need to come to my aide? I realize miserably. Jim was about to rape me and Godric took the time to pick the lock. He didn’t even do anything more than push Jim away and issue a mild threat.

Godric opens the passenger door for me, although he seems to hesitate before stepping away to let me sit down. Once I’m seated, Godric shuts my door and moves to get behind the wheel.

Are you all right, Camilla?” Godric asks softly before starting the car.

Yes,” I whisper. If something like this doesn’t prove I’m anything more than a roommate, nothing ever will! I think in despair and tears start pouring out of my eyes. Dang it! I swipe at them angrily.

“Let me get you home-”

Will you take me to Sookie’s?” I try to ask steadily, but my voice is breaking. I can’t be near you. It hurts too much!

If that is what you wa-”

I do,” I say quickly and brush away another annoying tear. When Godric’s hand reaches for mine comfortingly, I act as though I don’t notice and quickly cross my arms over my chest, keeping them out of his reach. His touch feels bitter. All he offers is comfort…

Godric looks hurt after I refuse his comfort, but I just lean my head against the window and stare out at the passing lights. If he knew how much it hurt to know the person you love only sees you as a friend, he might not have offered me his touch at all.

I listen while Godric calls either Eric or Sookie, I’m not sure which. All I know is he is speaking very softly, and he mumbles the word ‘attack’ as if he believes it will trigger something in me. He does remember my first memory is being naked and surrounded by vampires in a warehouse… Right? This experience falls very short of traumatizing for me. Tonight, Godric hurt me more than Jim ever could.

Once we arrive at the Northman Condo, as I call it, Sookie comes bounding out and flings open my door. She’s got her arms wrapped around me like a mama bear protecting her cub and I try to make her aware of my exasperation through my expression. Of course, she’s a telepath, so I guess I don’t need to use any expressions!

Sookie pulls away and gives me an appraising look, “What are-”

Inside,” I tell her and stalk toward the front door. Eric watches me storm past, his eyebrows raised. He gives Godric a questioning look and the vampire who’s not mine lifts his shoulders, completely clueless.

Safely seated on Sookie’s couch, she brings me a cup of tea I guess she’d started making after Godric called. “What’s goin’ on?” she asks after I take the warm mug.

I capture my lip between my teeth and point to my head pleadingly. Her brow furrows, but she nods in agreement to just listen to my head, rather than make me talk. We do this from time to time, whenever I have something to say or ask and I don’t want the vampires knowing.

After she nods to let me know she is listening, I let her have it, all my worries and concerns, what really hurt me tonight, and why I can’t stay with Godric anymore. By the time she’s absorbed everything I think and feel about the situation, her head is in her hands and she groans.

What?” I ask.

Camilla,” she groans again, then reaches for a pad of paper. She jots down her message and turns it toward me.

~ He was going to ask you tonight if you would date him! Probably didn’t want to have the moment ruined- ~

Whatever the rest of her message says, I’ll never know because my heart is galloping in my chest. Godric was going to ask me out? Like out, out!? My lip is quivering, so I stand up and begin pacing. Oh, no! How will I get him to ask me now!?

Patience,” Sookie whispers just softly enough that Godric and Eric would only hear if they’re paying close attention to our conversation. She points again to her note, so I finish reading it now that my anxiety is less distracting.

~ -by the events of tonight. Give him a few days, act normal, let him be reassured you are all right. After that, he’ll ask you.

As for the whole deal about him being “complacent” during your attack, Eric and Godric need to keep their cool, Cammie. Especially when they’re dealing with humans they can’t, or shouldn’t, kill. It’s very easy for them to accidentally kill humans. I guarantee Godric was reeling inside, but he really needs to keep himself in check. It’s a thing you learn to do after a millennium, I guess. ~

Okay, so Godric does want to date me and he was probably super-upset over what happened with Jim, more than just friend or roommate being upset.

Think you’re ready to go home now?” Sookie asks me with a smile I think is a bit teasing.

Yeah, I think I am,” I nod in agreement while mouthing, “Thank you!” She just grins and nods.

Sookie stands and walks me to the door. Godric and Eric are standing on the sidewalk, talking quietly with one another, so I wave goodbye to Sookie and apologize for the interruption.

You always know where to find me when you need me,” Sookie reminds me sweetly.

She’s such a weird, but good, friend to have. Sookie is the kind of friend who mothers me, makes sure I’m eating, getting enough sleep, and that I’m happy. She’s also the kind of friend who teases me and is goofy and sweet… She’s my best friend in the whole world…

Godric’s POV:

Camilla exits the condo, waving goodbye to Sookie, and looking much happier than when we arrived. “She looks better,” I murmur to Eric.

Sookie is good for that,” he replies just as quietly, a soft smile on his face.

Before I can say anything else, Camilla is standing next to me, and I am forced to say goodnight to my Child. Unfortunately, I could have used more time with him. After the events of this evening, I do not know how to proceed after my earlier resolve.

Do I wait? How long? I wonder nervously while I hold Camilla’s door open. She smiles at me sweetly, gets in and sits down, folding her hands in her lap as I shut the door. At least Camilla seems in better spirits, even if I am still a blend of impatience and uncertainty. Impatient to claim her and uncertain if it is a poor time for doing so. Would having me make her feel happy? Is she feeling too vulnerable to accept what I would have to offer? Yes, a blend, or what I would deem a farrago.

Once I take my seat behind the wheel, a sigh of relief comes past my lips when Camilla takes my hand. I chance a glance at her and she smiles apologetically. What a relief for her to seek my touch!

While I drive, she continues holding my hand and I sense nervousness in her touch. Her thumb runs anxiously against the back of my hand, so I look at her worriedly. “Are you all right, Camilla?” I ask gently.

“Um, yeah,” she answers and gives my hand a squeeze as we arrive at the house. I quickly open her door for her and walk her into the house.

You should go rest,” I tell her.

“Shower first,” she grumbles and goes toward the bathroom.

As soon as the water is running, I take out my phone and hit my third speed dial.

Not traumatized, just waiting on you, Godric,” Sookie replies in her knowing tone that makes me doubt her inability to hear vampire minds.

How did you-”

Eric told me about your concerns after you left,” she replies simply, “Camilla was only distant before ’cause she thought she didn’t mean anythin’ to you. Go prove her wrong.”

You really are quite meddlesome,” I sigh.

I only meddle when people are bein’ stupid and you’re bein’ stupid. You deserve her. She wants you. Go get her!” She hangs up on me after that and I cannot help but chuckle.

When is the last time someone hung up on me? I wonder in delight.

It is with that thought I finally have the words I had desperately sought earlier this evening. Without thinking, I storm into the bathroom, making Camilla jump while she dries her hair. A thick, white towel is wrapped around her body and she clutches it modestly while the blowdryer clatters against the counter.

Knock much?” Camilla snaps, fumbling to turn off the dryer.

I apologize,” I mumble in embarrassment, “However, I need to speak with you and it is important.”

Camilla puts down the dryer and looks away from the mirror to look at me curiously, “Is something wrong?” she asks.

I shake my head. “No. Something is very right,” I take a step toward her and delight at the little catch in her breath.

Godric,” Her voice trails off when I stand directly in front of her.

Without hesitating, I cup her heart-shaped face in my palms and look directly into her eyes, “I am the most unworthy creature you will ever meet, Camilla. I have done terrible things and I do not deserve any of the affection you could spare me… But, I beg you for it. I have been an Impervious Immortal for ten months and every day I feel some of the darkness of my past being chipped away by that blessing. Yet, after I met you and began spending time with you, that darkness was stripped from me so completely. Your light and warmth heal me more than the sun ever could. Please,” I whisper, “let me stay in your light.”

Camilla’s hands grip my wrists and I feel my hands being wrenched away from her face. Thankfully, before I can worry about rejection, she is pressing her lips against mine urgently. “Every day,” she murmurs against my mouth and her hands release me to tangle in the short strands of my hair. Frantically, I pull her body flush to mine and capture her in my arms, unwilling to let her go. She responds by wrapping her arms around my neck and braces herself to do the same with her legs around my waist.

Camilla,” I groan as her mouth trails to the corner of my own and she begins to kiss across my cheek toward my throat.

I have loved you for months,” she murmurs against my ear, “All I wanted to hear… Thank you, thank you…” She is kissing my ear and tugging the lobe between her teeth. “Take me to bed?”

An actual growl tears through my throat while I carry her out of the bathroom into my former bedroom. Camilla has effectively turned this into her own space, but I find it oddly suitable for me as well. Perhaps because I have loved her just as helplessly, I find everything about her just as lovely, even her taste in décor.

Quickly, I push her towel open and kiss along her bare flesh. My lips warm against the heat of her skin as I suckle and kiss her throat.

Godric,” Camilla murmurs. “I want your blood. I want you to feel how much I love you,” she tells me pleadingly and I groan at her request. “Please, Godric,” she arches beneath me and I feel my fangs descend.

Eagerly, I slice my tongue on a pointed incisor and plunge it into Camilla’s mouth. Her ecstatic moan as she tastes my blood resounds in my heart when I feel her emotions bloom inside me. It is healing and beautiful to have her enveloping my soul and that is why I do not notice when she cuts her tongue against my fang.

When I taste her blood, I pull away, feeling her presence within me lock itself into the beginnings of our ritual, “Camilla, did you…”

Every day,” she reminds me of her promise, “if you want me.”

I kiss her…hard. My body is moving against hers with a desperate necessity at her resolve. My hands are tracing all her curves, earning small gasps and moans as they impatiently explore her flesh.

Ah, slow,” Camilla gasps, taking hold of my hands and easing my eagerness. She brings my hands to her lips, kissing my palms. “Slow,” she urges gently and I take a deep, calming breath. I remind myself that though her body may or may not be virginal, her mind is another matter. She has no memories of being bedded and I will be the only one to make love with Camilla.

A soft smile touches my lips and I lean down to kiss her gently. “Yes,” I agree, sliding my hands up her body to cradle her head. I kiss her again and again until her limbs wrap tightly around me once more.

I begin kissing down the length of her body. At each landmark, I pay great attention. Her clavicles, breasts, navel, and hover only briefly at her sex before pushing her legs wide open. I glance up to find her watching me intently with her dilated eyes. Her mouth is parted slightly, panting softly as I stare up at her. As my tongue reaches out to lick at her folds, I see her hold her breath, and it makes me smile.

She is already so wet, coating my tongue with her arousal. I prod with my tongue and fingers, suckling, nibbling, and stroking her until her body arches like a harp. My fingers are gliding effortlessly in and out of her opening. Her legs are shaking, and her chest is falling and rising rapidly.

Do I excite you this much, Camilla?” I tease between caresses of my tongue.

Yes,” she whines as my fingers flex inside of her.

I could give her this sweet torture until daybreak and still not be satisfied. Luckily for her, I am just as excited and impatient to unite our bodies. That is why I end my mouth’s efforts and begin kissing my way up to meet her lips.

Now, Camilla?” I ask, my lips moving against hers with my words. I let my fingers graze tauntingly against her carotid.

YES!” she shouts, and I smile as my hand trails from her throat, down her abdomen and finally between her legs once more. This time, however, I take my own sex into my hand and rub it tauntingly against her wetness. “Ah,” Her hands tighten in my hair and I feel her walls barring me from entering. I lick her throat briefly and she relaxes enough that I may start feeling her heat surrounding me. Her body resists again, and I feel her hold her breath.

I chuckle against her ear, “You are being stubborn, Mila…” She whimpers at my new pet name for her, but I nibble my way from her throat to her shoulder to earn more of those sweet noises. My hand pinches and plucks at her nipple until Camilla’s legs wrap about my hips and pull me inside. “Thank you,” I whisper against her ear while her heat envelopes me.

I’m s-sorry,” she is staring into my eyes, and I feel a strange surge of disappointment from her.

Why are you sorry?” I ask of her. “You are amazing!”

I-I,” she whispers, but is still holding me as if scared. I see the conflict in her eyes and wonder about her regrets I sense.

Why are you upset, Mila?” I murmur soothingly in her ear.

Her lip quivers while she meekly replies, “It didn’t hurt.”

I am glad,” I smile.

You’re not the first one in here,” she tells me, “That makes me sad.”

I capture her lips with mine, drawing her into a slow, comforting kiss, “As far as either of us knows, I am, and always will be, the only one who has had my Camilla.”

Camilla’s arms and legs tighten around me and she draws my head to rest against her shoulder. I kiss there, gently rocking the both of us until her hold loosens, and I can move unobstructed.

Go-God!” Her fists clench in the bedding while I move inside of her. Her spine arches, so her hips meet mine at a heavenly angle that brings a sob to her lips.

Camilla meum,” I groan against her shoulder, kissing and licking while her body tightens around mine. “Mea, mea!” My voice is coming in sharp pants against her ear as my mind is lost within my heart. My Camilla. Mine, mine!In perpetuum!Forever!

Her inner walls flex around me as Camilla cries out, then her entire body jerks in an abrupt orgasm, telling me it is time to lose myself in her, at last. Clutching her tightly against my body, my hips press upward to fill her. My erection throbs pleasurably, emptying my gratification inside her ravenous channel.

She stares up at me, catching her breath, the towel she had been wearing still beneath her. “Whoa,” she finally utters when she has the breath to do so.

I smile, lean in, and kiss the corner of her mouth. “Yes. Whoa,” is my agreement.

Her mouth seeks out mine, kissing me slowly as her eyes gloss over. She stares at me while we kiss and I stare right back until she moans and begins to shift away. Camilla turns her back to me, wrapping my arms around her as if I am her blanket. My member folds neatly between the crease of her buttocks and I quickly appreciate the position.

Tell me something?” Camilla asks me. “Anything from your past I should know,” she requests.

One of my hands begins to palm her breast while I consider her demand. There are many things from my past she should know and will know… Yet, in this moment, I want to bask in the glow of our lovemaking, not ruin it with my darkness. As my mind gropes for one beautiful memory, I feel Camilla’s body go boneless within my arms, and she is quickly asleep.

Grateful for my reprieve, I plant a gentle kiss against her shoulder, and pull her a little tighter to myself. I have no words at this moment other than ones of love. I do not want to visit my darkness, nor tour her through that gloom. For now, all I want is to hold this sunlight in my arms through the night and pretend for only a moment that I did something to deserve her. Thankfully her repose has given me just that and I kiss her one more time in gratitude.

On to Chapter Thirty-Seven!