It took a thousand years of practice to keep my face neutral. To keep a steady hand, as I steadied my bond with Sookie, doing my best to keep it on an even keel while I gave the Were his orders.
But my need to rend and tear – to shred and kill – clawed away at my insides like nothing else ever had.
The cause for my muted savagery – my lover’s brother – could be located fairly easily. The asshole practically oozed the scent of cheap beer and cheaper women. My brother was right when he said the cocksucker wasn’t worthy of being her kin. He had no honor. In his eyes we were nothing but monsters and yet he had no issue with leaving his only sister with our kind. Selling her out on the delusions of a madman like Newlin, with her paying the price of whatever sadistic tortures he imagined we would bestow on her.
He had no idea of the cruelty my imagination could conjure, but he would find out.
Were it not for my child and the even larger one I thought of as my brother, I doubted I would’ve been able to remain seated, much less calmed enough to feign a playful mood and participate in their back and forth banter. Their inanity was a good distraction for Sookie and I was grateful for it. But I would much rather be fileted with a silver knife than be sequestered away with them for any amount of time.
After being hunkered down with them for only a few nights due to the Haiphong Typhoon in 1881 – our happenstance in Vietnam thanks to Pam’s craving for something exotic – my eye still twitched and my hands itched for a stake whenever anyone even hummed the melody to ‘Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall.’
“I’ve left you a present downstairs. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!”
Sookie gave us both a glare, but returned to her conversation with the Were, so I turned to my child and said, “A new silk shirt or a diamond encrusted cock ring. Neither will get you out of your fishing trip.”
“Can I have the cock ring?” Phil asked, while Pam scowled at the reminder. “Pammy can use it to propose to me and then we can go on couples’ dates! The girls can commiserate over their neglectful husbands while we pretend we’re not checking out our server’s ass.”
“You’re an ass,” Pam snarled. “The only proposal you’ll get from me is offering to implant my shoe in your ass.”
“Baby, you know I like it rough,” he purred. “Don’t tease…”
Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall…ninety-nine bottles of beer…
“Any cock ring that would fit Eric would fall right back off of your always-a-bridesmaid-never-a-bride ring finger. Inky dinky pinky ring finger.”
Take one down and pass it around…ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall.
“Must you?” Sookie huffed once the Were was gone, turning to face us so we could all be graced with her harsh expression. “It’s rude to speak in a language everyone in the room doesn’t understand. How many times do I have to say it?”
Sighing, I smiled, “I think ninety-nine is the magic number, lover.”
And it wasn’t so bad when I replaced the bottles of beer with the imagery of bodies of Jason’s.
Her narrowed eyes turned on me exclusively with her reply of, “Well I think I’m getting close.”
“And speaking of close,” Pam interjected and looked to me. “You’re cutting it close. Your meeting with Indiana downstairs is only in a few minutes, so you should get going. Uncle and I will see Mommy back to your chambers until you return.”
Why the fuck would I be meeting with Indiana?
Before I could say anything, Pam stood up and pulled Sookie alongside her, wrapping her arm around Sookie’s shoulder, and said, “And while we’re waiting we can teach you some Swedish.”
“We’ll start with the dirty words, since I have a feeling my brother would appreciate hearing those come from your lips the most,” Phil added.
I could feel the tendrils of curiosity reach through our bond, but they only mirrored my own over Pam’s less than forthcoming explanation. While we’d barely been separated at all recently – at least not of our own free will – Sookie had already become accustomed to knowing there were times when business between vampires was just that.
I had no clue as to what Crowe could want from me, but the less unknown variables Sookie was subjected to, the better. But in all honestly, I only allowed them to lead her away from me because Phil had been mostly right.
I would do more than appreciate hearing my lover talk dirty to me in Swedish.
And I would make sure to reward her for each and every one uttered from her lips.
I still had no idea what Pam was talking about, but assumed Indiana was in some way involved with ‘my present’. And considering which way Bartlett Crowe leaned, a diamond encrusted cock ring wouldn’t be that far of a stretch.
But I’d stretch Pam clear across the palace if that was what I found waiting for me.
Only the dungeons and the infirmary were kept downstairs and I scowled as I descended the steps, recalling the current fairy inhabitant on one side and the sideburned suckass missing from the other. With every downward step I made, the weight of the long night pressed down further on my shoulders.
The insane vampire child, my even crazier maker had made, nearly attacking my bonded.
My lover offering herself up to that same crazy bastard, to save not just me or herself, but to save my child as well.
Even reliving the feeling of my tie to him vanishing, when she succeeded at what many others had failed to do for two thousand years by giving him his true death, wasn’t enough to make me feel any less encumbered.
I needed a release only bloodshed could provide me.
Thinking perhaps Crowe was there to make an offer for the fairy – I’d accept a penny a pound for him at that point – I was only left more confused when I reached the bottom of the stairs and saw my first clue.
In the form of a bright pink poster board tacked to the wall, adorned with glittered letters and an arrow pointing to the left towards the cells, saying, “This way…”
The fairy was the only prisoner left in the dungeons, now that I’d released the wolf and skinned the cat, so my assumptions seemed all the more plausible until I came up to Sigebert standing guard all alone. The fairy either feigned sleep or was too weak from the iron bars surrounding him to lift his head, but I knew he wasn’t dead. And given my internal rage, he could be just moments later if he chose to fuck with me on this night of all nights. But with no other glitter to guide me – cock rings or crowned kings included – I looked to the Saxon who merely jerked his head towards the far end of the hall with a grunt.
I did more than grunt at what I found waiting for me.
And I quickly locked down my bond with Sookie, while the beast inside of me howled with delight.
Strapped to the wall where the Weretiger once stood was something much better than I could have imagined. Above the frail old man’s head was a banner made up of cardstock letters linked together by tiny rivets and spelled out the word, ‘Surprise!’ Multi-colored streamers hung in ringlets, dangling from his cuffed wrists and ankles. And instead of the clichéd flickering single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, a strobe light Pam must have traveled back to 1970 to retrieve was mounted in one corner, bathing the room in a slowly changing kaleidoscope of primary colors. The only other movement in the room was from the dozen helium filled balloons in various colors that were anchored to each wrist, softly rustling above my guest.
A garish multi-hued clown wig was askew on the top of his head and given the entire room looked as though a unicorn had vomited across the length of it, I wondered if perhaps Pam’s appreciation for the demon girl messengers ran deeper than I knew.
He stood completely naked except for the paper picture of a tailless donkey taped to his torso, with the pins and paper tails awaiting my arrival for the party to start, off to one side.
I didn’t have to ask who he was. I knew without ever having seen his face before.
And I should have known something like this could happen once I’d activated Pam’s party planner setting by placing her in charge of my coronation, but she’d truly outdone herself. I’d have to remember to cancel Ginger’s flight. For this my child was getting a whole new wardrobe.
His eyes were closed, but his breathing was labored so I didn’t believe him to be asleep. Even so, I stalked forward, making no noise at all, until we were nose to nose. He smelled of death and stale urine, but he could’ve smelled like the honeyed mead of my past and not been a more welcome presence to my senses. His heart rate remained even throughout my silent exploration, so I knew he hadn’t heard my entry.
Finally alerting him to my presence, I was overcome with a whole new appreciation for the song still humming away on a continuous loop in my mind and stayed just a hair’s breadth away from him as I softly crooned, “Ninety-nine Bartlett’s are here on my wall. Ninety-nine Bartlett’s are here…”
His head jerked up at the unexpected serenade and smacked against the cinder block wall behind him. He hissed in pain, showing me his mouthful of missing and/or yellow stained teeth, before he slumped forward again. But he left one eye open as he breathed out, “Where am I? Who are you? What do you want with me?”
He shivered seeing my predatory fanged smile – a smile born of the knowledge he still had his mental faculties.
His comprehension would make the party that much more fun.
Reaching over, I grabbed one of the paper tails, showing it to him like I was Vanna fucking White before I stood tall and closed my eyes. Spinning myself around fast enough to make him dizzy, I stopped on a dime and jabbed the pin dead center into his chest, smiling wider hearing him yelp in pain, as I pleasantly explained, “You are the star guest at my Father’s Day celebration. You see my child is a very good girl. She knows the meaning of family. She knows what it is to have love and respect for those she cares about, having learned to do so by receiving those very same things from the one whose job it was to care for her. Me.”
Leaning forward again so my face was millimeters from his own, I whispered, “But that is how it should be, don’t you agree? Children should learn love and respect from their elders?” Filling my hands with more paper tails, I punctuated each of my next statements by jabbing each one into his body, while adding, “To feel safe in the presence of their family. To feel protected from harm by those they share blood with.” Stabbing the remaining two into each of his eyes, I ended with, “And to not be looked at like defenseless prey by those they should be able to trust the most.”
More piss ran down his legs, while bloody tear tracks ran down his face, and I gave him a few moments to adjust to the pain, allowing him to believe perhaps the worst had passed and the party was over. Now that he could no longer see, it made my next move all the more enjoyable when I popped one of the balloons tied to his wrist.
He jumped and gasped for air like he’d just been shot, so I repeated the process, having enjoyed it enough to want to see it all over again.
His erratic heartbeat was music to my ears.
While I had closed down my bond with Sookie as much as possible, it was impossible to shut it off completely. I would never do such a thing anyway, but I was able to feel her amusement – likely at whatever Pam and Phil were filling her head with – and I hoped it would be enough to distract her from feeling my bloodlust.
But I was lusting for more blood than the small pin pricks the jackass in front of me was bleeding, so I picked up one of the knives kept in the cell and picked up my earlier song, singing out, “Ninety-eight Bartlett’s are here on my wall…ninety-eight Bartlett’s are here…” Gripping his right ear in between my thumb and forefinger, I sliced it away from his head with the sharpened blade and had to increase my volume to be heard over his screams, as I sang, “Cut one part down and pass it around…ninety-seven Bartlett’s can’t hear on my wall.”
I continued to portion him off, piece by piece, altering my lyrics as I went and alerting him through song why he was there. Reminding him of his crimes against a defenseless child, made all the more horrific with her gift of telepathy, so she would be forced to hear every depraved thought he had, while he physically forced himself on her. I made sure to keep track of his vitals, not wanting his premature death to end my party before I was ready, and further amused myself by making a patchwork likeness of him on the wall beside his body, using the bloodied parts I cut away and sticking them against the flat surface.
My handiwork could be viewed as an homage to the likes of Jackson Pollack and Buffalo Bill, but I smiled already able to hear Pam’s accusation I was creating my own Mr. Potato Head.
When I knew he only had moments left before his heart would finally give out, I made peace with the knowledge he hadn’t gotten away with violating my bonded by cutting away the final piece of him that precipitated his sins against her. Not caring I was soiling my hands further by touching his soiled body parts, I held his dick and balls hostage in my grip and let the reality of his situation sink in before saying, “You won’t be needing these where you’re going.”
Instead of ripping them off, I chose to cut them away slowly – methodically – and listened beyond his screams to his heart thundering in his chest before his body finally slumped forward as it thumped its last beat.
Standing back, I studied my best work to date and committed it to memory so I could relish it for all of eternity. The rainbow clown wig was still askew, held on only by the now dried blood that spurted out when I decided my cinder block Bartlett landscape needed eyebrows, and the red stained paper tails stuck into his eyes were now stuck to his cheeks as well. There was no skin left on his face, with the meat and tendons underneath now showing through, but his body resembled a puzzle now missing a few pieces. Fingers. Toes. Nipples and now genitals, among them.
There simply wasn’t enough of him to cut away ninety-nine pieces before his heart gave out, but I’d given it my best shot.
Finally having the opportunity to expend some of my rage over Sookie’s sorry lot in life when it came to her kin, I felt somewhat at peace. If her revered Gran had still been alive, I might not have inflicted the same kind of punishment on her, but she would be well aware of my displeasure over her keeping my bonded’s heritage a secret. Even if she hadn’t quite connected the dots in her mind, Sookie had already said the words aloud to the demon lawyer. Dressing him down for inflicting her with a gift that was just as much a curse and given no help to control it. No explanation as to why she was so extraordinary until after she’d been forced to suffer it alone.
In my eyes, her grandmother was just as culpable.
But all I had left now was her brother. Already living on borrowed time, I felt settled enough I could patiently wait until his death would be mine as well. In fact, I felt well enough that I no longer had to tamp down my now sated urges to rip something apart and I slowly opened my side of our bond, while concentrating on her.
Hours had passed since they’d left my office, so I wasn’t surprised to feel she was now asleep, but I still took care in showering in one of the empty infirmary rooms before heading back to my chambers.
And smiled again when I ascended the stairs, hearing Sigebert’s hummed rendition of my now favorite song, echoing behind me.
I was still going with the ‘Don’t ask/Don’t tell’ policy where her uncle was concerned, but didn’t feel too concerned myself since I knew she was asleep. Hopefully Pam had been just as creative with her excuses to Sookie as she was when throwing me a party.
“Well…don’t you look relaxed?” Pam smiled at me from the couch when I entered my chambers. “I don’t think I’ve seen you this loosened up since…well…since the last time you loosened up Sookie’s pussy with your cum.”
I smirked – because it was true – and because I knew Sookie’s face would be flaming red if she’d heard Pam’s unsolicited diagnosis. And because I was in an especially good mood, I flopped down on the couch beside her and pulled her into my side. Kissing the top of her head, I said, “Name it and it shall be yours.”
I knew I was likely committing myself to spending the equivalent of the national debt, but I didn’t care. It was well deserved.
Without missing a beat, she said, “Convince Sookie you want to watch her experiment with lesbianism.”
“And convince her I should be allowed to watch,” Phil quickly added.
Had it been anyone other than either one of them, I would be in need of another shower to wash away their blood. But with my arm already around Pam’s body, it was easy to toss her across the room where Phil easily caught her, while I replied, “Try giving Phil’s lamp a rub and tug and make a wish on what cums out of it because you just wasted your one with me.”
I laughed again when she struggled to free herself from his grasp, but he was centuries older and therefore stronger than her, so it was a fruitless exercise.
My night was just getting better and better.
She hissed in his direction and making his own wish – a death wish – he leaned forward too quickly for her to pull back and licked her descended fang, crooning, “You know I like it when you bite.”
He finally let go of her – all it took was a well-placed elbow to his poorly guarded apples – and since I had been the recipient of their earlier taunts, I didn’t stop myself from saying, “Looks like Ladon is laying down on the job. No wonder the women have no interest in your diminutive dragon.”
“Assholes,” he huffed with the air that hadn’t been expelled from his lungs, “The both of you!” Clutching his applesauce, he rolled out of the chair down to the floor, crying out, “Man down! Man down!”
“Use your finger phone to call someone who gives a fuck.” But feeling Sookie startle, I got up from the couch and glared at them both, warning, “Keep your assholery down or I’ll have Sookie wish you both onto the sidewalk until dawn. I’m sure the sweaty throng out front, whose antiperspirant has long since lost the battle with their funk, would love to watch your Laurel and Hardy routine.”
“Which one is the fat one?” Pam asked, looking back at her partner in slap-dick slapstick. “Because that would be you. Tell me uncle, have you been hunting your meals as they’re leaving the fried dough shack again? ‘Fresh! Hot! Now!’ isn’t marketed towards our kind, you know.”
The last thing I heard before I shut the door behind me was him pouting out, “But I like them plump and juicy.”
Seeing Sookie in my bed – alone – had never been a more welcome sight.
Five more minutes with the other two and I was sure I’d develop that twitch again.
I was stripped of my clothes and under the covers with her within seconds. Even in slumber our bond flared up and warmed me on the inside, just as her body warmed me on the outside now that we were once again skin to skin. My body fit perfectly around hers like two puzzle pieces, with my form curling around her own, not unlike Hund was curled around her head on top of her pillow.
Sookie automatically slid her body into place like she’d been doing it for a lifetime and not just a few days, so I knew she felt it too. She was the yang to my yin. The light to my dark. The sun to my shadows.
Never again could I feel whole without her and any who dared to try and take her from me would die at my hands.
She was mine.
And like a child clutching a doll, I kept a firm hold of my lover and counted her breaths, like I’d counted the pieces of her uncle earlier that night, until dawn finally took me.