I did not answer her. I could not return the statement truthfully. I could insult her and say I cared for her, or worse, that I liked her very much or I enjoyed her. Yet none of these things quite described the…what I was experiencing.
I was only very recently began seeing her as a woman and not a child I felt affection toward. She was, after all, older physically than Pamela, but that had been a hard concession not long ago. My body’s physical desires had betrayed me often enough now that I could no longer delude myself.
I had not stopped thinking about her words to me the night before. That I should endeavor to deserve her. I stifled a growl. I had been to swept in the events of the night to pay much attention then. Now, however, it smarted. Even Pamela rarely addressed me in such a manner. I could not deny the desire to rise to the challenge presented, but was irked by the implication that I did not currently.
Sookie often spoke to me that way. I actually grinned at the thought.
All I could currently want would soon be taken care of. My prisoner was safely cocooned within an iron box down in the cargo hold and my enemies, those who had wronged me, would be taken in one fell swoop. It was almost disappointing in its simplicity. I would not need Anabelle to accomplish my goals. The self sufficiency was gratifying.
I did not want to need Anabelle. I was troubled by her comment about no longer existing. Did she believe that, once her purpose was served and she was no longer necessary, she would fade away? Or was it that the magic would consume her? Was this innate instinct? I would much prefer to keep her safe and as the proverbial card up my sleeve. The stability of her magic was an issue.
Perhaps she had been right that more clarity surrounding the circumstances of her making were in order.
I was nearly certain we would have time enough after my most pressing operations were complete.
By far the largest weight on my mind was the imprisoned fairy prince. Niall was a wily old bastard, and if I made one move that afforded him the slightest opportunity, I was a finally dead Viking. I had the amulet Freyda desired, or rather a very good imitation, safely stowed in my pocket, but needed to plant it on Niall before planting him for her. His possession of the stone would lend it all the credibility it needed, and give Freyda false confidence. I could not lose focus. I could not relax. I was very close.
“Anabelle, after we reach our safe house in Tulsa, I will need to leave you for a time.”
My words met only silence.
“I do not want you wandering.”
“Yeah, I figured.”
“Are you upset?”
“Tired of the secrecy, but I know I can’t make you tell me anything,” she heaved a sigh and looked up from her resting place on my shoulder.
“I simply do not want to involve you in any danger. The less you know, the safer you are.”
“I think I’m involved just being with you, but my opinion doesn’t matter much.”
“Do not be petulant, Dear Heart.”
“If you were me, you’d be.”
Perhaps I had spent too much time in the last century in the company of my kind. We did not share. We did not expect to be shared with. Viewing the situation from her perspective was difficult, after all I had only spent a short time trying to put this into practice with Sookie and even then with varying degrees of success despite a blood bond, yet I could not help trying. What was this endeavor? Sympathy. The placing of one’s self in another’s situation to better understand their stance. What did it elicit? Remorse? No. Only the desire for… fairness?
“I would like to assuage your feelings.”
She looked at me appraisingly. “Really? Who are you and where is Eric Northman?”
“You cut me, My Darling.”
“I’m sorry, Eric. It’s been a long, confusing week. I want to hear whatever you are willing to share.”
“I am going to kill the vampires responsible for keeping me from Sookie. I must proceed with stealth and caution to avoid repercussion and suspicion. Our laws were not broken to entrap me, and I have no legal right to vengeance, but I cannot forgive so I must do this.”
“I don’t get why it matters.”
“You are not a vampire.”
“You have plenty of options, you know.”
“Anabelle, do you believe I wish to go back to Sookie?”
“Of course. She was your great love. Why wouldn’t you? It’s why I’m here, right?”
I was stunned. Was she really so foolish? “I do not wish to take away Sookie’s happiness. I did not press my right to her then, and I will not use magic to do so now.”
Her whole countenance shifted. Her eyes brightened into twin stars dancing as they met mine, and her skin took on a more intense golden aura. If I had breath, she would have stolen it. “Oh… I guess I see why you’ve put me off now. What are you going to do, then? I mean with me. Not the people you want to… take care of.”
“I have not given much thought to that. I am very content having you with me. I feel… peaceful when you are near.” I brought my cheek close to hers without touching, just soaking in the warmth that radiated from her.
“So, I get to just, what, live my life and be around you? ‘Cause I’m not gonna lie, that’s the best news I’ve ever had.”
I chuckled, “Tell me, is it relief from existential crisis, or are my charms to blame?” I waggled my brows at her.
“I am not vain, only self aware.”
She pulled away from me slightly. “So what happens now? I just wool gather and wait for you to finish killing people?” She grimaced.
“Essentially. After, we will return to Bon Temps and resume our inquiries into your power.”
“Bon Temps? You’re not worried? There’s kinda this portal to Fae nearby that Niall opened when I was little, you know.”
“I am not concerned with Brigant and I am capable of protecting you from any lesser of your kin as well.”
“I’m not disputing that, but that’s an awfully fast shift from panicked vamp to cocky bastard.”
I laughed and kissed her nose.
“Seriously, why is my grandfather not a problem?” We were both silent for a moment. “You killed him?”
She let out the breath she had been holding unconsciously. “Oh, thank God! I gotta say as mad as I am at the fairies, I don’t want them dead or hurt. Especially not because of me.” She moved herself onto my lap and began playing with my hair. I took in the her intoxicating bouquet and molded my body around her. I felt… Guilt? I pushed it away, and focused on her warmth, the feeling of familiarity in her silkiness, and the sense of well being she bestowed.
Our location in Tulsa was as secure as I could make it. With Pamela in Louisiana, I faced a new dilemma; ensuring Anabelle’s safety while I enacted my plans. I had decided to call in a favor with a local lone Were that had been caught roaming without permission on Freyda’s land on a full moon. I had smoothed it over without the local pack master or the queen discovering his trespass. Not the protector I would have hand picked, but the best to be had under the circumstances.
The home I brought her to was one of Freyda’s; one that the queen had no knowledge of buying many years before, nor had she paid attention to the improvement expenditures when I ordered them over the last twenty. I itched to check my cache in the basement. All the time spent planning and stockpiling, it was very satisfying to see carefully laid plans coming to fruition.
I settled Anabelle into bed in a light tight bedroom as she had slept through most of the trip here, but I knew dawn was approaching and she would rouse shortly.
I expected the Were soon. Perhaps I would ask her to refrain from her song this morning. I would be sure to make it clear that touching her for any reason outside imminent danger was also forbidden. She was mine.
I took the opportunity while she remained asleep to move my other guest to a more inconspicuous part of the house.
“What the heck is in there? Jeez, take it easy there, buddy! Did I startle you? I didn’t know you could, you know, startle vamps.”
“Anabelle, I thought you were resting.”
“I woke up when you were leaving the room. Nice house. Is it safe?”
“More so than we were in Manhattan.”
“So what’s in the big metal crate?”
She heaved a sigh. “I’m not a little girl…” she mumbled, then changed her mind, “That’s right! I’m not a little girl, my life is on the line too, and all I want is to help. You really should tell me what y’all have going on!”
“Anabelle, I only wish to keep you safe and happy.”
“Bless your heart, you keep saying that like it’s the answer to everything, but it’s really not an answer at all.”
“Nan,” I pinched the bridge of my nose, if vampires had been capable of headaches these Stackhouse women would surely cause them, “I told you my intentions on the plane.”
“Well, can’t you just satisfy my plain ol’ curiosity. What tools are big and dangerous enough to need shipping in something like that?”
“The kind that require the utmost secrecy in transport.”
“Oh.” She looked slightly confused but the doorbell interrupted her next question.
She started to go to answer it and I chuckled as she thought the better of it, rolled her eyes, and went to sit on the sheet-covered couch instead.
The Were came in and I briefed him on his duties. Anabelle watched us, silently waiting for me to remember my manners and make proper introductions. She began to fidget. I knew the sunrise was coming.
“Anabelle, I do not think it is wise today,” I answered her shifting eyes and tapping foot. “This is Dante MacNamara. He will be keeping watch while I rest.”
“Hi, Dante, I’m Nan,” she smiled warmly at the wolf and extended a hand. I nearly growled. Fortunately the Were had the sense to just nod. “Eric…”
“This house has never been inhabited, Anabelle. Going out and loudly singing to the sun is an uncommon thing for humans to do and neighbors may take notice. If you must, please do so quietly and inside at the window. I must rest.” I strode over to her and scooped her into my arms. She remained still for only moments before wiggling away and motioning for me to retreat to safety so she could open the blacked out windows to the impending daylight.
“Wolf,” I said, too low for her ears. He gave me a slight nod. “Keep her inside, and away from the crate,” with that I adjourned, wishing I had tried to entice Anabelle into lying with me until I died for the day.
Tomorrow night, I would put to rest all the heaviness and pain of the last century. Tomorrow night, I would have the freedom to move forward.