I spent my first day since we’d run off in vampire-sanctioned sunshine. I had my own little bedroom. With a bed. With a bathroom. With a little refrigerator full of hotel snacks. With a floor to ceiling window that overlooked the overgrown, but eerily beautiful ruins of Central Park.
If I had been a regular human, I’d never have guessed that the rooms could accommodate vampires. The windows on this floor had a special tint feature that would release a retractable opaque plasma between two panes of unbreakable glass, effectively blotting all sunlight as the UV rays hit it and turned it into a solid mass. When the sun went down, the plasma unfroze and could be removed with a voice command that was set by the user.
Apparently, my tutor coming to me was some clear indicator that we should throw caution to the wind. Maybe Eric figured if they tried anything again, he’d just take them out. Maybe he figured since this was a secret vampire hotel, security would be more reliable. In any case, he made sure I had a bottle of lemon juice on the table beside me as I sat by the window and read on the holo-mini that was a room amenity. I knew whatever I did was easily traceable with such an insecure connection, but I couldn’t help doing just a tiny bit of research while I could and I didn’t have vampires hissing at me that I was being reckless.
I wasn’t being obvious, not really. I kept my searches varied and broad to make it look like a bored human or child messing around. Unicorns (although, I had actually seen one of those, but they didn’t exist on this plane), cute cats, fairies, Halloween, candy, past alteration and the butterfly effect (oh, what? ugh, don’t read anymore of that, Nan!), birthday wishes, cake, vampires, etc. My vamps would never know I had done it anyway.
I was taking a leaf from Eric’s notes.
I said I wanted to read to pass the time so the mini had been allowed. I didn’t say what I wanted to read. HA!
I was ignoring the guilt, and indulging in a little needed childish rebellion. Hey, I’d never really done it before. It felt… really good… exerting my will.
As a matter of fact, prior to Eric in my life, I was meek as you please. I’d always assumed that the people surrounding me were so much more powerful and capable than myself. What could I do but defer to their greater wisdom? After all, I was just a shut-in, telepathic librarian with no friends outside my family and its retinue. And they were so kind to me, humoring me with their presence, and encouraging me to satisfy my needs for a real life with works of fiction. No risks, no worries, no need to feel incomplete even though I had.
It wasn’t that being with the vampires brought out the worst in me, only that I’d made a huge leap. I was still in free-fall with the whole “I am challenging your authority” thing, and I was finding I still had a lot further I could go.
And I knew that Eric wouldn’t just decide I wasn’t worth it after all, or that I wasn’t special enough.
I’d awoken here in the hotel. I wasn’t sure how we’d gotten here, the last I remembered, I was still trying to figure out if my great-plotting-gran had left me even a whisper of a clue, but I had risen just before the sunrise to sing my Aubade and get some last minute instructions from Eric.
Apparently, I had been smuggled in. I imagined myself being poured out of some newly purchased Louis Vuitton suitcase that Pam would abandon immediately and giggled. I was not to leave this bedroom, however (pfft, did they really think I believed I would be allowed?), as they weren’t supposed to have a human with them. Pam was meant to be dead for the day in the room I had taken. She was in with Eric so I could have a sunny room.
To be honest, I was a little jealous thinking of Pam curled up next to him. I missed being able to just look at him, or touch him. I wondered if he too felt the separation even in his rest.
He was expecting some delivery today. I gathered this was the main reason I wasn’t allowed to roam the suite, and the holo-mini was my consolation.
Eventually, I tired of my fruitless searches that pulled up some funny misrepresentations, and settled into re-reading some Elizabeth Gaskell, which only led to tears and more yearning to just touch Eric. Though I was fully aware of the awful sappiness of the thought, John and Margaret mirrored us. Me, the sheltered idealist getting a serious taste of reality and needing to evolve quickly, and Eric the imposing, worldly pragmatist with a living heart under the cold exterior, who acts like an ass but… I really needed to stop.
I waited until the sun had dipped low on the horizon, hidden by buildings, before I sang my childlike Serenade. In terms of comfort, today had been a holiday, but I was ready to leave the room. I was ready for Eric to be up.
“That is very pleasant to hear upon waking,” said the glorious bass I’d been waiting to hear as the last traces of sunset dissipated, leaving only soft twilight in the sky. Still, I didn’t turn to look at him (stupid, Nan, stupid! you just wanted him more than anything! what are you doing?)
“Thanks. I made it up as a little girl.”
“You made it up? In Sylvan? What does it mean?”
“Yeah, weird. That’s me. It’s hard to translate, but it means:
I keep your light within me
Until we meet again.
My… Cuîlcalad… That one’s hard to translate… It literally means life-light, but that doesn’t quite get it right… anyway…
My Life-light, I will miss you
When Day is at its end.
Please return to me when I wake,
And I’ll sing to you, my friend.
Sleep soundly in a bed of clouds,
Whilst all my love I send.
It made me sad when the sun went down as a kid. I didn’t understand why the sun always shone when I was in Fae, but not when I was home. I couldn’t really grasp the whole separate dimension means different laws of nature concept, so when I came home, I thought it went away because it didn’t like looking at that part of the world anymore. I was afraid it would like some other place better and decide to stay. I wanted to make sure it knew I loved it and would always want it to return. Siobhan helped me write it.”
Eric was directly behind me now as I gazed out the window. He tentatively touched the back of my arm, but I still didn’t move into him. Instead, I turned to face him.
He really was just too beautiful to be allowed.
“Your eyes are brighter. They almost cast light of their own.”
“My eyes are the reason people run away from me. Too ‘other,’ I suppose. And that’s before I have the pleasure of trying not to answer their thoughts.”
He reached up and stroked my cheek with the back of a finger. “Humans are fools. They are given a gift like you with unparalleled beauty, grace, charm, and talent, and discard it for being extraordinary. I myself have never cared for mediocrity.”
“You think I’m beautiful?” I smiled then. Every girl likes to hear it. Especially when we’re not trying to be.
He chuckled and waggled his eyebrows. I rolled my eyes. He reached out in earnest this time and pulled me to his chest. I had come to enjoy the still silent comfort of that spot. One hand traced circles up and down my back, as if he were soothing a dejected child. I wiggled away, and sighed. I didn’t feel like being belittled or mollycoddled. I faced the window again. I wanted him to go… and I really wanted him to pull me to him again.
He stood quietly for a while longer before turning to go about business for the night. It felt like I was breaking inside as he was going and I called to him. I reached my hand behind me and immediately I was tucked back into his chest.
I swear I only lifted my head to say I was sorry, but he was looking at me with those enthralling eyes all pained and lost. I must have been a great big puzzle because, next thing I knew, I had stood on my toes and pulled him down to me and just kissed like I knew what I was doing, wrapping my arms around his neck.
He stiffened momentarily, but relaxed and kissed me back with a slow intensity that was the most delicious feeling I’d ever experienced. How could a kiss be so blissfully intoxicating? It began to build as my body arched to be even closer to his, and I could feel his (oh, good lord!) need pressing against me. I let my tongue twirl and dance with his and explored every millimeter of his mouth, caressing his fully extended fangs. His hands traveled up and down first my back then they were in my hair, finally they came to my legs and I felt like I’d begin floating when he lifted one to circle his waist. He was kissing me like I was the only thing that existed in the world; like I was an oasis and he a man dying of thirst.
He disengaged first. I couldn’t help feeling loss and a bit rejected, even if I knew it was practical (or imperative, whatever, I didn’t like it), but tried not to pout.
His eyes were black pools with no hint of the jewel-bright blue as he tried to shake it off. “Not wise,” he stated simply and kissed me in a much more chaste manner, though still on the lips.
I nodded reluctantly, noticing my own skin glowing a bit brighter, and disentangled myself.
He went to retrieve his package, which turned out to be small and simply wrapped in brown paper. He tore the paper and box to reveal a velvet pouch that held a robin’s egg sized pendant made of amber on a simple, long gold chain. Apparently, he was satisfied with whatever it was and pocketed it.
I didn’t ask. It seemed like a waste of breath, instead I went in search of Pam.
“Eric, where’s Pam? I didn’t hear her go out.” Such a stupid statement. Thank goodness he ignored it.
“She has left on an errand in Louisiana. She will join us in Oklahoma soon.”
“She left without a goodbye? I really wanted to talk to her about the Sookie-Book again.”
He chuckled and gave me a cocked brow. “Dear Heart, this is not goodbye.”
I sighed. I was really upset I hadn’t seen Pam off. What if she got tied up with something? What if something or someone tied her up, literally? Or worse than tied her up? Or what if she simply didn’t make it in time? I hated to think like that so I tried to let it go, but I still didn’t like it.
“We’re going to Oklahoma?”
I took in one long, deep breath and let it out slowly. “Basements?”
“No, we will be on a charter flight.”
That was a definite mood enhancer.
“Is this part of Niall avoidance, or Northman business?” I asked.
“I believe you informed me that the prince was missing?”
“So we’re not avoiding him?”
“Not any longer.”
“Why not? What if he’s found?”
“You do not wish to avoid ground travel and dank resting places?”
“Don’t supe me, please.”
“When Niall is found we will re-address the issue.”
That was good enough for me.
We had boarded the jet with our meagre luggage in the overhead cubby and were seated next to each other within the hour preparing for take off.
Something was bothering Eric. He kept looking out the window with his cool mask of calm and vamp-staring at me when he thought I wasn’t looking. When I’d look up he was back to looking outside where they were loading metal crates into the cargo hold, but it made me uncomfortable, so I wanted to catch him at it. Didn’t work. Sneaky vampire.
He relaxed after a few minutes as if he had completely examined the wing for gremlins and was satisfied we were safe, and gave me an inviting smile. He held up his arms in mute entreaty, and I couldn’t help falling into them, his hands stroking my hair. It always felt like the most natural spot in the world.
“I love you,” I blurted. Crap! I held my breath, willing the traitorous words to be glossed over. Had I actually said it before? Directly? I was panicking, but he just slid one heavily muscled arm around my shoulders, leaned me further into him, and kissed my hair. I let the air out in a little hiss of relief. I then realized I might have days left only so I didn’t care anymore and mumbled, “I do, though. Deal with it, Eric Northman.”