Blood was to blame for everything. I was sure of it.
It was the only explanation I could find that would accurately account for each of our actions and reactions to everything thus far.
Whether it be nature or nurture, her fairy blood made her cocky. Out of all the supernatural species, pride was a trait most prevalent amongst the Fae. It was what gave her the confidence and wherewithal to literally snatch me from Death’s grip and tell him to fuck off. She didn’t hesitate. Nor did she feel any remorse by effectively filling my spot on the Reaper’s list with the one who had tried to end me. The bloodlust I’d felt coming from her, basking in the pain she caused him…
Let’s just say my weeklong routine of dining in had left me…strained. Some parts more than others.
But it was her human blood that made her detest herself. The antipathy she felt when describing what made her different from everyone else she had ever known before coming to this world was as real as the light freckles dotting the bridge of her nose.
And it was my blood running through her veins that left me affected in ways I’d had no way of knowing beforehand.
But now, feeling her rising pleasure as we took off into the sky was enough to distract me from putting too much effort into wondering why. The cause for our impromptu flight – my unfamiliar and yet overwhelming desire to take her into my arms – was satisfied for the moment, so I allowed myself to indulge in her decadent scent now that I had her so close. And with every inhale of my lungs, my carefully hidden rage slowly dissipated, while we continued to pass the time in silence.
But with her arms holding onto my laptop – teleported with us when she’d flung her body atop my own to get me out of harm’s way – my arms were the only thing keeping our two bodies connected. So when she shifted slightly in my embrace and my hand brushed over her abdomen, the scar I had suspected would be there could just barely be felt underneath my fingertips and my fangs threatened to snap down once more at the reminder of her ‘accident’.
Accident, my pale ass.
Brigant was a veteran warrior. There was no way he would have accidentally run his great-granddaughter through with his own sword, but it answered yet another question that had been simmering in the back of my mind.
The fertility problems amongst the Fae were one of the main reasons why they had agreed to the peace accord. Thanks to the gossiping nature of supernaturals, when they’d still inhabited this world I had heard their problems were due to something inherent in their blood and the problem would only worsen as time went on unless they added more branches to their family trees.
I had mistakenly assumed it was the root cause for their want to end the war, but instead of flitting off and fucking humans near and far, the portals had been sealed. And from what I gathered of Sookie’s self-loathing, fairy/human hybrids weren’t common in her world.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn she had been the only one.
That long ago memory resurfaced not long after Susannah was first presented to me and it had left me dumbfounded as to why Brigant would offer up a young and healthy female.
But as she had said, it was a misconception on my part.
Unfortunately, it was a monstrous deed on his part that she had yet to realize.
Of course I had my suspicions as to why he would remove the option from her, taking away any hope of fulfilling something as basic and fundamental as the want to reproduce.
And perhaps he would have his own suspicions as to why when I snatched the very life from his body if he dared to show himself to me again.
What little I had known of the Fae included how they prized their fertile females, so I could understand her pain at being left barren. Coupled with the lifelong degradation of her human ancestry, it was a wonder she could even hold her head up.
But I was coming to realize, no matter which name she went by, she was much stronger than I had given her credit for and it had nothing to do with her skills as a warrior.
With her confession, more pieces of my puzzling blond paradox had fallen into place. Her confusion at receiving something as simple as a birthday present – something most others would expect on some level – so casually explained away. I could feel her own resignation at her mostly human lot in life, but at the thought she had indeed fulfilled that bastard’s debt, barren didn’t even come close to describing how bereft she had felt.
She truly believed she had been born for me and perhaps, she literally had. And while compassion would have never made my list of attributes, so much had already been taken away from her. There was no way I could take even more.
She could remain with me for however long she wished.
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t try and make her realize her own worth beyond the reach of her sword. And perhaps by the time I succeeded, I would realize why I even gave a damn.
Glancing down I studied her, as I often found myself doing as of late whenever she was preoccupied with something else. She must have felt my eyes on her and turned hers upwards, smiling in delight as the wind whipped through her hair and I couldn’t help but return her infectious grin.
Yes. Blood was definitely to blame.
“Thank you, Master.”
I could feel the sincerity flowing through her, but unsure as to what she was thanking me for I asked and was answered with, “For taking me flying. I don’t believe there was a tactical need for us to travel this way, but I appreciate you sharing your ability with me.”
Again, above her genuine gratitude – something I may have given more consideration had I realized the last time I had taken anyone flying had been Pam, while she was still considered a newborn – I could sense her feelings of unworthiness. But before I could decide if I was going to react to it, she turned her face into the wind once more and asked animatedly, “Why would you ever drive when you could travel like this?”
Still trying to sort through my own emotions, I returned offhandedly, “Why do you walk when you can teleport?”
“Because one must learn how to drive before they can fly,” she laughed and I found myself chuckling with her.
Far from actually, she was nearly perfect.
Her psyche could use some work, although even that wasn’t enough to overshadow her other redeeming qualities. But I hadn’t been exaggerating when I’d said we were close to our destination and it came into view only moments later.
Her curiosity rose as soon as the estate came into view. Nostalgia made this my favorite of all of my homes within my territory and I found myself curious as to what her opinion of it would be.
Located nearly an hour north of my once upon a time Sheriff’s post, I’d had the plantation style home built not long after I’d been made king in a sleepy little town called Bon Temps.
With the literal fallout from the nuclear warheads at the time, Good Times had sounded like a place I would always want to return to.
The human populace was much smaller this far south due to the radiation levels that still permeated the environment when Cuba had been annihilated. New Orleans was uninhabitable still, but Bon Temps was a little more than a hundred miles north of the borderline where the toxic land resided.
There was a smaller household staff assigned to this residence who kept the house prepared for my arrival at all times, but knowing I only had one meeting on my schedule for the night, I decided it could wait. With no entourage or luggage in tow, instead of taking us directly to the house, I headed for the outbuilding where my cars were housed.
Tray Dawson wore the dual hat of maintaining the small fleet of cars kept on site, as well as overseeing the security of the compound, and met us as soon as our feet touched the ground.
“Your Majesty,” he bowed, before rising back up to his full height and taking in the sight of a windblown Susannah.
From the feelings of exhilaration still flowing into me, I knew Sookie would be remaining in the cloudless sky for just a little while longer.
“Dawson,” I acknowledged and gestured to my left. “This is my new shadow, Susannah. She has complete autonomy and answers only to me.”
The shock on his face was reflected in the jolt I felt coming from her. It wasn’t unexpected since my child was the only other afforded the privilege of doing as she pleased without needing permission, but during our flight I had come to the conclusion trust had to start somewhere. She had already proven herself adept at keeping me alive – and I wondered over the fortunate timing of her arrival in conjunction with the first real threat on my life during my reign – but being able to feel her own determination to keep me that way made me believe my trust would not be misplaced.
Ever the professional, Susannah maintained her stoic expression. However my blood told me Sookie was doing the equivalent of cartwheels.
“Of course, Your Majesty,” he nodded, still looking like he’d just seen a unicorn before shaking it off and glancing behind us, hesitantly asking, “Will anyone else be joining you this evening?”
An unfortunate reality of being king meant I never traveled without an entourage. In truth, I hated it. I hadn’t asked for a kingdom, nor had I ever longed for one, but due to unforeseen circumstances I had been forced to take the helm when needed.
“Eventually,” I replied and quickly related what we knew of the assassination attempt on my life earlier that evening before asking, “Has there been any new chatter locally on The Brotherhood?”
The attempt had been made well over an hour farther to the north, but in this part of my territory, that kind of distance was nothing due to the meager population.
“No, Your Majesty, but I’ll make some calls and see if tonight’s event has any tongues wagging.”
He attempted to hide his amusement, but I smirked anyway, knowing even Weres enjoyed Were jokes.
“Very well,” I nodded and headed into the garage with my newly autonomous shadow. “We’re going for a drive, but have Rasul contact me if he arrives before we return.”
“He is a wolf?” she asked in Old Norse, as soon as we were alone, while her eyes drank in the cars she had to choose from.
Her growing excitement had me nearly ready to jump up and down.
“Yes,” I confirmed in the same language, pleased she’d automatically fallen into our clandestine form of communication. “Did you get anything from his thoughts?”
“A little,” she nodded, while running her hand appreciatively over the fender of a black Maserati. “He has feelings of respect and loyalty towards you. He is confused and cautious of me.”
But as if she had reminded herself of something, she turned away from the Italian automotive masterpiece and moved to stand directly in front of me. Reverently bowing down before me she said, “You honor me with your trust Master. I will not betray your confidence in my loyalty to you. It is and will remain absolute.”
Good. I was counting on it.
Her natural poise when addressing me in this context spoke of her supernatural upbringing and yet our association was still new enough that it always managed to surprise me just a little. The requisite etiquette when addressing royalty was something most humans still struggled with, especially in this hemisphere, but then I would remember she wasn’t most humans.
She was just mostly human.
Gesturing for her to stand once more, I paid careful attention to her emotions when I said, “I will hold you to that, Susannah.” And testing her with my next words, I admitted, “But if I ever feel any hint that you are conspiring against me, there will be no mercy for you.”
There was no pleasure to be had with my admission, but it had to be said. I believed in her belief that she was loyal to me, but I was still suspect of Brigant’s motives, although it could very well be all in my suspicious mind. Brigant had provided me with a valuable asset – likely more valuable than even he had realized, since her telepathy had not been discovered until after she had given me her pledge. She had been trained – nearly to death – for one purpose alone.
To defend me.
No matter how duplicitous, once a fairy gave their word, they followed through on any promise made and I would have faith that trait applied to the mostly human young woman in front of me as well.
But if I was right; if Brigant had some ulterior motive I had yet to conceive of, then I had to be cognizant of the fact both Susannah and Sookie suffered from a delusional affection for the twofaced bastard.
So who would be facing the tip of her sword if it came down to a battle between Brigant and me?
“Then I only ask that you not kill me, Master,” she replied to my implied threat, but the horror I could feel in her veins was explained when she added, “Death would be merciful. Keep me alive and do what you will with me, but the shame I am forced to bear for going back on my vow to you will be a thousand times worse.”
She’d felt horrified at the idea of being disloyal to me. And oddly enough her horror gave me peace of mind, so I changed tactics hoping to change her mood back into a more joyous one by sweeping my hand out at the cars in front of me and asking, “So, which one will it be?”
My tactic seemed to have worked because she wasted no time and smiled, pointing at the newest addition to my collection and said, “The red one.”
A girl after my own heart.
“The red one?” I clarified, stalling to either tease her some more or tease myself with the thought that she would be driving it before I’d even gotten the chance to. Dawson had only taken delivery of it a week earlier.
But then I realized I would have to show her how first. The manual transmission would be completely foreign to her, so I gestured for her to once again occupy the passenger’s side and when she was seated, the only warning I gave her was, “Pay attention.”
We pealed out of the garage and hit sixty before we got to the end of the driveway. By the time we were back on the interstate we were going well over a hundred miles per hour, but the rush she felt only fed my own. And like the studious pupil she was, when I quizzed her on the basic operation of the car, she answered every question correctly.
I’d set our path traveling south, knowing there would be little traffic on the roads, so when we were nearing the contamination zone, I pulled over and switched sides with her. Being immortal, I wasn’t worried for my own safety and, unlike anyone else, she could at least teleport herself from the car if she ended up wrecking it.
I decided to ignore the fact had she been anyone else, I never would have allowed her to drive my car.
She didn’t appreciate me laughing at her when she stalled the car the first few times she attempted to go and took great joy in reminding me of her newly autonomous state and the trouble she could get into with my remaining fleet of cars while I was dead to the world.
But it wasn’t until she finally did get going that I realized just how well she had been paying attention.
Susannah was likely still bowing down to the ghost of me back in the garage, but Sookie was thoroughly enjoying every inch of blacktop she tore across, reaching speeds even greater than I had.
“I see why you enjoy driving so much,” she laughed out loud, zooming past another car on the interstate.
“Just a little faster and I think I will have taught you how to fly as well,” I grinned.
Maybe she would like to learn how to fly my private jet?
I wondered aloud if she had always been such a daredevil and took pleasure in hearing her tell stories from her youth that had nothing to do with monstrous deeds forced upon her by her kin.
But I still hoped to one day have the pleasure of showing her kin just how monstrous I could be.
By the time we pulled back into the driveway, barely an hour had passed, but I had gotten word from Rasul that they would be there shortly or else I wouldn’t have insisted we return.
We were slowly walking back towards the main house and still sometimes forgetful I was in the presence of a telepath, I was reminded of it when she turned to me and said in Old Norse, “Your scheduled appointment has arrived and your staff is anxious to see you. They hope you will be pleased with their work.”
“I always am,” I smiled in return. “I think you will like them more than the boorish foolish hypocrites who entertain you back at the palace.”
“Is entertain slang for detest?” she asked and cheekily added, “I wasn’t aware.”
While I could understand her aversion to the humans who worked at the palace – it was a lot like a human high school, filled with self-made drama and backstabbing between them (much to Pam’s glee) – but I was hoping by bringing Sookie here, she could be exposed to humans who were genuinely sincere and exceptionally pleasant company.
Perhaps if she found humans she liked, she would feel better about herself.
“Your autonomous smartass is welcome to sit in on my meeting with the Area Sheriff,” I responded with a smirk. But hearing the head of my household staff on the other side of the front door, as soon as it opened I smiled and said, “Susannah, I would like for you to meet the CEO of my southern residence, Adele Stackhouse.”