My muscles felt like tightly wound strings, be it from trying to temper my easily ignited desires for Master or from the thought of finally getting to experience a real battle. While an expert in my craft, the fact remained I had never truly fought against anyone where death was an actual threat.
My accident years earlier – although unintended – had been the closest I’d ever come.
But I yearned to put my years of training to a true test. I wanted to feel my sword cut down those who were deemed a threat. I longed to feel my blade slicing through sinew and flesh and then bathe in the blood of those who were dishonorable traitors to my king. I wished to dance around their bodies to the dying beats of their hearts.
It was the way of the Fae and I was fairy enough to feel the same, but seeing Master’s fangs glistening in the moonlight made me envious.
Why couldn’t I have those as well?
My tongue automatically traced over my own blunt teeth and my rising fury, coupled with the stray thoughts of the men conspiring against Master had my body threatening to explode.
If not from bloodlust, then surely from something else.
Only then realizing I was using Master’s body to try and find relief for my own, I jumped down from my perch on his hips and opened my mouth to apologize when he stared back at me. With a look that displayed all that he was – warrior; predator; king – he simply ordered, “Don’t.”
Pretending I hadn’t just been humping the king like a common dog in heat, I quickly counted up the minds I could sense and relayed what I could hear.
“There are a dozen of them moving through the woods roughly three klicks to the southeast. Two are those who accompanied the dead assassin from last night. They’re traveling to a camp they have setup nearby.”
I still had trouble working through multiple minds and with so many of them it was like trying to listen to every conversation in a room packed full of people. Counting the number of heads was easy, but trying to sort through their unfamiliar voices was not.
‘Hungry should’ve worn my other was that a can’t believe he missed.’
All of their thoughts bled into one another’s, so I shook them free. Master had been nothing but encouraging over the last week as I attempted to hone my gift and now was no different, with him simply waiting for me to say more.
But having nothing more to offer than the jumbled contemplations of men who wouldn’t live to contemplate another day, I said nothing. And since I was eager to hunt and I was certain Master was as well, I looked up at him and only offered, “There is no central theme to their thoughts. They are merely moving forward in a herd mentality.”
I was already armed with my Sig Sauer, but because they were simple humans, I decided I would give hand to hand combat a try first. However not knowing Master’s preference, I asked, “Would you like for me to call forth your sword?”
He had many, but his favorite traveled with him always.
It had taken all of my resolve to not test it with my own hands while Master had been at rest.
But I would never disrespect him in that way. Only if he saw fit to favor me by allowing me to practice with his chosen sword, would I dare touch it in such a way.
Unlike his OTHER sword I had unknowingly humped against.
At least Master hadn’t appeared to mind.
“They’re only humans,” he replied with a shake of his head, mimicking my earlier thoughts while simultaneously pulling my own from the other kind of lustful thoughts it had been drowning in.
Catching my eye with his own, he grinned, “On your mark. Get set.”
“Go!” I finished for him, already in pursuit. Tearing through the woods, I put all of my skills to use making not a sound. I would have teleported closer, but having never been there before I couldn’t. It was why I had to pop back and forth during our game once we reached the boundaries of Master’s estate, running forward and then popping back, before popping forward again to stay out of his reach.
With Master’s preternatural speed, he could have surpassed me easily, but he chose to run alongside me as we darted in between the trees making our way closer. But as our feet carried us closer to our prey, my mind’s reach continued to travel forward as well and I reached for his arm to halt our steps, just as the whispered warning left my lips.
I sensed the void not far ahead of the humans. It was unmoving and I thought perhaps it was one of the guards, lying in wait for them, just as we hunted them from behind.
That is until I got a clear picture from the first human to lay eyes on him and quickly added, “Compton.”
Master didn’t appear concerned and said as much by reminding me, “I told him to look into The Brotherhood’s movements last night.” He shrugged and smirked, “He must have learned where they’ve been hiding out, but there’s no reason to let him have all of the fun.”
He began moving forward again, but still holding onto his arm, I tugged him to a stop, already shaking my head and whispering, “They know him.”
I could tell from the humans’ thoughts now shifting as a whole into recognition. But not explaining myself fully, Master was unconcerned and said, “They should. As the Sheriff of this Area, all humans would know who Compton is.”
He had barely finished his sentence when I offered, “They’ve seen him but aren’t afraid.”
There was some fear, but not in a way that would make me think they feared for their lives as one would expect them to, considering who was waiting for them.
So I further explained that by adding, “I think they were expecting him.”
Master opened his mouth to say something else, but I could hear in the humans’ minds that Compton was beginning to speak. I wasn’t sure if Master would be able to hear them from this distance, so I did the only thing I could think of.
I covered his mouth with my left hand and said, “Sshhh.”
“Did you just shush me?” he garbled out from behind my hand, but made no attempt to remove it.
So I left it there and hissed out in an admonishing whisper, “Yes! I’m trying to listen.”
“Would anyone care to explain how Northman managed to evade a rocket propelled grenade?” Compton asked no one in particular.
One of the men I’d been able to ascertain had been with the shooter that night spoke up, saying, “YOU said he would be in the limo. But when the convoy came to a stop after it blew up, Northman got out of the lead SUV. This ain’t OUR fault!”
“My source said he WAS in the limo when they left the palace!” Compton snarled in return.
“Well then either your SOURCE was WRONG or he switched things up somewhere along the way.”
Master switched things up alright. He’d wisely traded up, going from a tiger to a T-Rex. And I was angry enough at his double-crossing Sheriff that he might very well cross the path of Susannah Supernova.
My palms were tingling already.
But what I detected next was enough to still them when I sensed the humans’ minds fogging over, with Compton pulling them all under his glamour as he said, “You have drawn attention to yourselves by foolishly getting caught. In the future, if such a situation arises, you WILL end your own life before you can be questioned. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” they all replied in chorus.
I guessed he was pleased with their response because he released them from his hold and said, “I have learned Northman has left his estate in Bon Temps only accompanied by his new pet. Find him and end him.” And seemingly adding as an afterthought, he ordered, “But leave the girl unharmed and bring her to me.”
The more I listened, the more my right hand itched for my sword. It was why the feeling of Master’s tongue swiping across my left palm did nothing to distract me, something he must have sensed. He also must have still been feeling frisky from his bloodlust because he began a campaign to get me to surrender my non-existent panties by swirling his tongue in a circular motion over my palm, before concentrating solely on the center, flicking the tip back and forth, over and over.
And I again blamed Claudette for the images his actions conjured.
Only ten minutes earlier, it might have worked. But there was nothing that could distract me now that I knew his Sheriff was a threat.
Just like I KNEW there was something about Compton I didn’t like.
Aside from his ridiculous sideburns.
But knowing Master needed to hear what I could, I relayed, “Compton is the one behind your assassination attempt.”
His flicking tongue flicked no more and I removed my hand (I would later wonder why I hadn’t thought to do that sooner) from his mouth before apprising him of all that I’d heard. Luckily we were downwind of the group, so Compton hadn’t been alerted to our presence, but the group was now dispersing.
And I would like nothing more than to make him aware of our presence, with the tip of a stake piercing his heart.
What I wanted to do was kill Compton and everyone else in that camp. But he’d mentioned he had a source, perhaps even within the palace. Definitely from within the Bon Temps estate if he had known Master and I had left together.
Vampire. Human. Were.
It could be anyone, so the tactician within told me to resist doing anything rash.
So I would leave the decision up to Master and only asked, “Do you have any thoughts on who he is working for?”
While I couldn’t read Compton’s mind, I believed his words to be true. As a low level Sheriff, he had no hope of becoming King with Master’s death, so it made more sense for him to be working for someone else.
Someone Master must not have known about because he shook his head and said, “No one comes to mind.”
“Shall we torture the answers from him?” I asked hopefully.
If I had my way the first things he would lose would be his fangs.
And then those sideburns.
“Soon,” he winked. “But interrogations go much more smoothly when the interrogator already has the answers before asking the questions.”
I watched as he closed his eyes and concentrated for a moment before opening them again and saying, “Sunrise is less than an hour away. While I am hesitant to go to rest back at the estate, now that there may be a traitor among the staff, I don’t want to raise suspicions by not returning and possibly alerting them to what we have discovered tonight.”
In the next moment he closed the distance between our bodies by wrapping his arms around me and staring back into my eyes, he said, “I am old enough to awaken if my senses tell me my life is in imminent danger. Besides, I have you now and you will keep me safe.”
“Until my heart no longer beats,” I replied truthfully. But seeing something appear behind his eyes at my words – something I didn’t have the time or fortitude to figure out – I changed the subject by changing our longitude and latitude, popping us back to his estate.
I’d made sure to scan the area with my gift, so that we weren’t spotted right away reappearing just inside of the tree line, and another idea invaded my thoughts as I followed him back into the house. While Master checked in with Rasul, I warred with myself over the pros and cons of what could be accomplished during the day.
Pro: I could move about unhindered and use my gift to find the answers we sought.
Con: Master could be attacked and I would be none the wiser.
But not knowing where my thoughts had strayed to, Master waited until I had silently followed him to his chambers and sealed the doors behind me to say, “I can feel your uncertainty, but we will find the answers to who is behind this.”
“If only I could feel you.”
The words tumbled straight from my mind and out through my lips without any conscious thought.
Clueless as to the reason why I felt that way, he smiled back with, “You held your own very well without being able to sense me and I’ll have you know I shut down our bond to make it a fair match.”
“Fair?” I smirked, unable to resist. “Well then I’m afraid to disappoint you Master, but I thought to even the playing field by using my gift to keep track of you during your hunt. Maybe next time you will inform me of your chivalry.”
He pretended to look outraged and two shakes of a pixie’s wings later, he had his body pressed against mine, asking, “Then am I to believe your wish to feel me was in this way?”
“Uh…I um…” I sputtered out. Unable to tell him no and knowing he would know it was a lie anyway, I didn’t answer and just explained, “I meant it would be advantageous if I could sense you as you can sense me. I trust your guards even less now, so if we are to remain in residence here I will not travel further than I can sense the minds of those around the estate. But if I could feel you I could pop you back to your chambers in the palace. No one would expect you to be there, so you should be safe for the day. And then I could pop myself back here and wander around, dipping into the minds of your staff, while they all believe you to be at rest here.” Smiling at the wishful notion, I added, “Why I could even take one of your cars into town and probe the minds of the humans.”
But knowing it wasn’t an option, I let the thought and my smile fade away as I ended with, “But I won’t leave you without being able to sense you in some capacity.”
“What you’re speaking of is a blood bond,” he offered slowly, studying my face.
I knew it would take three exchanges to become permanent, so I shrugged and admitted, “I understand why you would not want to tie yourself to anyone in that way – least of all me. I was merely noting it would be beneficial in this situation.”
“Stop that!” he snarled and his grip on me tightened, so I popped out of his embrace on instinct.
One that apparently made his instincts to hunt, rise back up to the surface.
I had barely rematerialized on the other side of the bathroom door, when he had me in his arms again, causing me to laugh out, “Cheater! And you should knock first. What if I popped in here because my bladder was full?”
“Then I guess I would be covered in piss,” he answered and stole the chuckle from my lungs before it could form by covering my lips with his own.
The suddenness of his actions – a surprise I was slowly but surely getting used to – caused my tongue to lash out, without the benefit of any words, harsh or otherwise. But I had been raised to fight back – to fight to win – and it would seem kisses were no different.
Besides, I hadn’t denied wanting to feel him in this way too, so it should come as no surprise to him.
But inadvertently slashing my tongue on his descended fangs did seem to catch him by surprise because he broke the kiss briefly to gasp out loud. His dazed expression changed into one of resolve and before I could blink we were once again engaged in a wordless duel.
One that only amplified when I detected the unmistakable flavor of his blood as it mixed with mine on our tongues.
No longer cognizant of anything but him, I felt my back hit the wall, while my legs wound their way around his waist, with his hips moving against my own. A primal need rose up within me, demanding there be nothing coming between us and my hands slid up his chest, gripped his t-shirt, and tore it away from his body.
His movements faltered, but I somehow knew it wasn’t due to my actions and when his knees threatened to buckle, I managed to pop us both into his bed.
That’s when it dawned on me.
Dawn and the fact it wasn’t just MY emotions I had been feeling.
Intentional or not – I didn’t want to examine my actions any closer than I could examine Mars with the naked eye – I had popped us onto the bed with me underneath him. And his next words could be taken in two different ways when he covered me with his body and asked, “You can feel me?”
“Inside and out,” I admitted. It was faint, but I was aware of the changes.
He was there. In me.
“Not yet,” he slurred out, with his hands moving even slower than his lips towards my waist. And as intrigued as I was by the prospect, now wasn’t the time.
But he was still aware enough for his eyes to flutter open briefly when I popped us into his bed back at the palace. So before the sun could pull him under completely, I quickly asked, “Is this okay? If I sense anything – anything at all – is wrong, I’ll come right back. But I’ll be here regardless when you rise and pop us back to Bon Temps.”
I’d had the forethought to reverse our positions when I’d teleported us to these chambers and like our bodies, his southbound hands moved north too. Holding onto the back of my head, his mouth pressed against my own and his eyes fluttered shut again. But he had just enough awareness left to weaken whatever flimsy defenses I had where he was concerned by softly whispering against my lips, “Now it’s perfect, just like you.”