My eyes continued to scan the surrounding area, while my mind reached out and blanketed the same. Nothing seemed amiss, but I still didn’t like it.
We were exposed.
So while his Royal Highness acted like a common criminal, I kept my senses alert for any aggressors since he was too busy doing who knows what. I didn’t know where we were, but it obviously wasn’t friendly territory if I’d already been there once before to rescue his captured child.
His recklessness was only making keeping my vow that much more difficult.
I didn’t know why we were there. I didn’t know what good could come of it since even the dead Weres were now gone. I also didn’t know whoever the mysterious he was he’d spoken about on the phone, but I gathered from his Royal Jackass’s side of the conversation, he was missing.
And to quote a phrase I’d heard his child use on more than one occasion and now had a better appreciation of…
Ask me how many fucks I give!
The only he I was concerned about was safe – if not exposed – as was his child. The perpetrators responsible for her imprisonment had been dealt with. The mastermind behind it all would show their hand soon enough and then I would deal with them as well.
We had no cause to be there.
Because what I did know was that I’d killed fifteen in defense of him and what was his thus far.
And that was only in the past three nights!
At that rate I estimated the world’s population would be significantly decreased by the time of my next birthday.
Perhaps he would gift me with a sickle charm for my bracelet to commemorate the feat.
But he was so angry himself that I doubted he could feel my own added to his festering pot.
But I didn’t give a single fuck about that either.
I could understand his rage over losing his prisoner to an unseen foe and even felt I should shoulder some of the blame for that failure. Instead of worrying about giving the old woman a heart attack, by popping out of her arms and into the basement as soon as I saw the telltale light come into my mind, I should have just done it anyway.
I may have been able to stop them.
Capture them or if not, at least identify them.
And if the old woman fell dead to the floor, then so be it.
But those damn instincts to protect my kin had kicked in.
Even from myself.
So I’d done what I’d thought best at the time and ran from the room, like I was capable of no better, and even believed on some level my actions would have been his wishes as well, since he seemed to care for them more than I did.
Only for him to accuse my family of being behind the attack on his prisoner.
Admittedly, that stung.
Had I not told him?
Had I not explained enough?
Did he think all of my skill had come from instinct alone?
I had been raised that way. Taught from the time I could understand what my sole purpose was. Trained relentlessly in every form of weaponry and physical combat imaginable, so that I could defend him against any threat. I’d studied until I was fluent in every language so that even a whispered threat would not go unpunished. I’d spent my lifetime learning the art of war, so that I could be an asset that would aid in his survival.
And who had raised, taught, and trained me to do all of those things?
That he could so callously accuse them of doing something so nefarious – of being dishonorable – when they had kept their word and sacrificed one of their own to repay a debt to him…
What else could I do?
What else could I say?
Nothing, I supposed. Especially when he seemed unwilling to dislodge his head from his glorious ass for only a second, so that he might realize my family’s sacrifice seemed to have come at a fortuitous time for him.
He would be a four day old scorch mark on the highway right now if it weren’t for me.
And so what if I’d had a moment of weakness when the light first lit up in my mind, unreasonably hoping if only for a brief second, that one of them had come to visit me?
I was only mostly human after all.
And Claudette was reckless enough she might very well pop into a house full of vampires just for fun.
So he could just go to hell on the jackass he’d rode in on.
I would still save him from the devil’s clutches, when he arrived.
I had made a vow, after all.
After a minute of staring at his paper spoils, he looked up and said seemingly to himself, “We’re in Rome.”
Then it’s a good thing we’re both in denim.
I’m sure his child will be pleased we’d been dressed in the appropriate attire.
Turning his eyes my way, he said, “Sookie.”
Oh! So sorry.
I’m afraid Sookie isn’t available at the moment.
So when I refused to look at him, I could feel his eyes boring into my skull. However it had been accused of being thick on more than one occasion and I’d been taught to use every available resource to my advantage.
Now would be no different.
“Susannah!” he finally hissed, when I hadn’t acknowledged him in the least.
Well, well…I guessed the human saying was false because it would appear you could teach an old dog new tricks.
Turning my emotionless eyes toward him, I theatrically bowed down and drawled out, “Yes, my Liege?”
I knew my actions angered him when his fury rose up in our blood tie.
But I’d been punished by far worse than he.
So I smothered his anger with my own.
His level of frustration matched my own too and he growled, turning to snatch a cap of some sort from the vehicle he’d just broken into and placed it on top of his head. And then stomping towards me, he removed the sheath from his body and held his sword out to me ordering, “Magic away our swords. We’re going to do a little reconnaissance and they’ll only draw unwanted attention.”
Was he suicidal in addition to being a jackass?
Our place was back at his estate. While I was confident I could keep him alive, wandering around enemy lands without any backup wasn’t wise. The thought had crossed my mind on more than one occasion that there may come a time when he would give me an order that I wouldn’t want to obey. And I’d wondered then what I would do when that time came, knowing if I chose to disobey him, my actions had the potential to do detrimental harm to the trust he had in me.
But I was wise enough to know I would have to pick my battles with him. And feeling his determination, and knowing I could pop us away at a moment’s notice, I decided this wouldn’t be one of them.
So I took the sword from his hand and strapped it across my back with my own.
And then cloaked myself from view.
“I know you are there,” he said, with his agitation coming through. “I can feel your presence.”
Heerrrre fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck…
It still wasn’t coming to me.
So I let him know by calling on every ounce of frustration I had and shoving it at him through our blood tie.
Can you feel me now?
Now glaring in my direction – either taking a guess I hadn’t moved or because he could feel my presence at his side – his scathing voice hissed out, “I don’t have time to deal with your attitude right now.”
Nor do you have time to explain our reason for being here at all, it would seem.
He only made the time to besmirch my family’s honor.
But instead of provoking me further, he once again made me question his own telepathic abilities by closing the minute distance between us and explaining, “Isabel Beaumont is the second to Stan Davis of Zeus. He disappeared four nights ago and their tracker followed his scent to this town. This same town is where Madden’s last known residence was located. This same town is where my child was kidnapped to and you rescued her from. Rome, Oklahoma.”
He wasn’t the only king with a bull’s eye on his back?
That our current location was the common denominator for all three events didn’t bother me as much as the fact it would seem his monarchy wasn’t the only one under attack. It didn’t sit very well with me and my mind strayed back to the unknown fairy conspiring against him. And while I knew the assailant wasn’t of my own blood – and I would have to see my family’s betrayal with my own eyes to believe it – that didn’t mean I would not use deadly force against any of them if needed.
Even if it would kill me to do so.
His voice pulled me from those cold and dark thoughts, warming me with his warm, but rueful expression as he added, “It was not my intention to keep you in the dark. My only excuse is that you so often react as a vampire would that I sometimes forget not all of your senses are enhanced.”
He had just paid me a great compliment – several, actually – but I still wanted to know why he was distrustful of my kin.
But I also knew now wasn’t the time.
And that was more of a question for Sookie to ask.
She was still unavailable at the moment.
Uncloaking myself – because I wanted anyone who laid eyes on him to know they would have to go through me to get to him – I hid only the swords on my back and surmised aloud, “That is the reason you wish for us to do surveillance of the surrounding area.”
When he met my eyes and nodded in response, I glanced over at his burgled vehicle and asked, “Will I be aiding and abetting you in stealing that this evening, or did you have another idea in mind?”
He rolled his eyes, with the last of his anger evaporating from our bond, and said, “Don’t be ridiculous. We’ll be doing this the old fashioned way.”
Reaching down, he took my hand in his own and tugged me with him as he began walking down the sidewalk.
“What are we doing?” I asked, confused.
I could only teleport us somewhere I had been to before, but he could fly. And I had been fortuitous enough to have learned firsthand he had no problem lifting me.
And then throwing us both to the ground.
Also a fortuitous lesson.
Not only sometimes a jackass, he proved he was sometimes wise as well.
Some of my just recently departed agitation returned, so he gripped my hand a little tighter – as though by doing so it would keep my mouth shut – and explained, “I just want to get a look at the neighborhood. They may have only chosen that house because it had been abandoned, but you should be able to sense any Supes in the vicinity with your gift and I’ll be able to smell any rotting Weres. My hope is that whoever cleaned up your mess is nearby because of how quickly it had been discovered.”
That answered part of my confusion.
So I voiced the other half by asking, “And why are we holding hands?”
It would slow down my reaction time if we were to come under attack. By only a split second, but sometimes that split second was the deciding factor in determining the victor.
Something the other Victor learned right before he turned into a pile of ash.
“Isn’t that what other couples exclusive to one another do? Hold hands while taking a leisurely stroll?” he smiled.
I wouldn’t know.
And available or not, neither would Sookie.
But then, I gathered, neither did he. I doubted, however, they did so under the guise of appearing lost in their coupledom, while in actuality looking for assassins.
But that was likely as close to a normal couple as we would ever be. So I didn’t question him any further and walked on.
Holding his hand.
Neither of us said anything for a while, each concentrating on using our particular skillsets to locate potential targets, when he broke the silence by saying, “I hurt you earlier.”
I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about.
Because apparently I was the only one focusing on our mission.
And because I didn’t respond, he elaborated with, “In the basement when I accused your Fae kin of being behind Madden’s death.”
“I wouldn’t say that you hurt me,” I denied.
But it had definitely stung.
But Sookie wasn’t here to get bogged down in the minutiae of it, so I only offered, “It makes no difference. I know it wasn’t them and I would defend you from them regardless.”
His overwhelming disbelief caused his feet to stop – and my anger to return tenfold – as he asked incredulously, “You would?”
What else could I do?
What else could I say?
So rather than break my vow and slay him myself, I said nothing at all.
“You’re pissed,” he evenly stated.
“Your sun rises in the east and sets in the west,” I countered.
The confusion on his face cleared up quickly, when I flippantly answered his responding silence with, “Oh. I thought we were taking turns stating the obvious.”
It would seem he was pissed as well because he started moving again, tugging on my hand in the process, and snidely remarked, “Forgive me for having doubts you would choose me over your Fae kin in a fight to the death.”
“Forgive me for believing you could understand the simple concept of my vow to protect your life against all others,” I sarcastically replied, only leaving my hand in his so I could pop us away if the need arose.
Like his lust was.
Like Sookie, that option wasn’t available to him at the moment either.
That he could so callously disregard my sole purpose – and my own honor – by doubting my pledge to him pissed me off.
And stung worse than when he’d doubted the honor of just my Fae kin.
And recalling the affection he had for the Stackhouses only angered me more. However I was related to them, they’d had no part in raising me. If they had, I certainly wouldn’t now be prepared – nor capable of – defending his life.
I would probably be working at the Shifter’s bar.
I shuddered at just the thought.
And glared at him when he began chuckling at my side.
Sure that he too had pictured me in the awful Merlotte’s t-shirt, I nearly wrenched my hand free from his, so I could either cloak myself from his eyes or bring my dagger to his throat.
I wasn’t sure which.
But then he brought my hand to his lips, placing a soft kiss to the back, and then smiled at me saying, “We’re fighting. Just like a normal couple.”
Did normal couples contemplate teleporting their mate back home against their wishes and making sure the other reappeared inside of the small pantry they knew would be a tight fit because he was a giant?
I doubted it.
But then, I wouldn’t know.
However I was contemplating it just the same.
Instead all I did was glare at him, to which he replied, “I take it there will be no makeup sex then.”
That fuck wasn’t coming to me either.
His smile slowly faded, with a sigh leaving his lips in its wake, when he offered, “I am sorry for offending you. That was not my intention.”
“You questioned my honor,” I hissed.
“And I question my sanity for not sending you away.”
Instead of reacting as I had once before and becoming frightened of the thought, I only got angrier.
He could go ahead and try. Our blood exchange would last for a long while before it faded. I would remain with him regardless of his wishes.
I may be cloaked, but I would remain.
And the telepathy question rose up in my mind once more when he touched on my thoughts by saying, “If your Fae kin can find you anywhere and you’ll always be with me, then they can find me anywhere as well. As much as it angers you, I do not trust your great-grandfather. It’s as simple as that and I won’t apologize for it. I have my reasons. Just as I have my reasons for trusting you in spite of that fact. So instead of arguing the faults or merits of your Fae kin, I will just say I hope I am never proven right about them or wrong about you.”
As much as a part of me wanted to rail against his words, I couldn’t fault him for his mistrust. He hadn’t survived for a thousand years by easily placing his faith in others. I had been the gullible one on the night that we’d met, believing he would understand the magnitude of the gesture my great-grandfather had made by giving me to him.
Being fluent in every language wouldn’t help me explain it any better either.
But he had placed his faith in me by exposing his true feelings.
And I respected that.
So I would have faith in him that one day he would have no doubts as to my unwavering allegiance to him.
But telling him so would have to wait because there was another matter more important to address.
Putting my body in his path to halt his steps, I nodded towards the house further up the street and said, “Half a block down. The blue house on the right.”
And bringing my eyes to his, I added, “There are a group of humans inside and from what I can tell, they’re keeping watch over a vampire.”
But what I couldn’t figure out was why he would be wearing eyeglasses.