It was eerily quiet while we made our way to Dallas as everyone’s thoughts were on the missing vampire we were headed to find. What would normally take three hours took us a little less than two and we may have arrived there more quickly if Charlie didn’t almost have a heart attack in the back seat due to Eric’s driving.
I had only been in a car with Eric, Pam, and Charlie and both Eric and Pam drove the same way, like a bat out of hell, according to Charlie, so I was accustomed to it. I guess it’s not normal to go quite that fast.
I watched as we entered the new city and I was in awe of how stunning it was with all of its tall, colorful buildings that reflected off the water.
“It’s beautiful,” I uttered as I watched out my window.
“Have you never been before?” Charlie asked, speaking up from the backseat.
I shrugged my shoulders before looking over at Eric. “Have I ever been here before?” I asked him.
“Yes, a few times in fact. The last time we were here was last summer,” he replied before he brought our clasped hands up to his mouth and laid feather light kisses along my knuckles.
“I’ve never been so we’ll have to explore the city to find some good places to eat… and shop,” Charlie stated, the last part reluctantly.
“Until Sookie and I have cleared the Tiger, I want the two of you to eat at the restaurants that are in the hotel or get room service unless Hauk or I am with you,” Eric said, looking into the rearview mirror at Charlie.
“I get it,” Charlie replied with his hands up as if he was surrendering. “You don’t want anything to happen to your wife. I’m sure everyone in this car will agree that we all feel the same way. You’ve got nothing to worry about; I won’t put her in any danger, and I’ll do anything in my power to keep her safe.”
Turning around in my seat, I smiled back at Charlie. “Thank you, Charlie. That’s really sweet.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Eric shaking his head slightly with a small smile on his face and felt his amusement.
“You’re sweet too,” I whispered against his cheek before I kissed him.
“I’m not sweet,” he quietly said back to me. He knew he was sweet to me and I thought it was funny how he tried to deny it, but I could feel that he secretly loved it when I called him out on it. We could both hear Hauk chuckling lightly in the backseat. There was no way for us to say anything without him hearing it and it said a lot that Eric trusted him to see this playful side.
Before I knew it, we were pulling up in front of our hotel and from what I could see the first floor was all glass. Before I even had a chance to unbuckle my seatbelt the valet had opened my door and a bellboy was taking all of our bags out of the back of the car.
The valet held his hand out to help me out of the car, but Eric quickly sidestepped him, holding his hand out for me to take. Placing my hand in his, I smiled up at him in thanks as I stepped out into the hot, humid night.
“Welcome to the Hotel Palomar,” the bellboy said as he held open the lobby door for us.
As Eric checked all of us in, I quietly took in my surroundings and read the minds of the woman at the front desk and the bellboy.
Neither thought anything about a missing a vampire or had any ill-will against vampires. The woman who was checking us in was thinking quite the opposite as she dealt with my husband. My anger flared at her thoughts causing Eric to look back at me with a questionable eyebrow. I shook my head letting him know that there was nothing to be alarmed about. The only danger was to the dark headed woman who had better stop thinking about how she wanted to unzip Eric’s pants with her teeth.
“Sookie, are you alright?” Hauk asked stepping in front of me.
“Are you reading her thoughts?” I whispered yelled, pointing around him toward the woman.
“No. I stepped out of her head once I recognized that she wasn’t a threat. Maybe you should do the same.”
“I’m no longer in her head, but I didn’t like what I heard or saw when I was in there,” I continued to whisper-yell with my hands on my hips.
It wasn’t until I felt a spike of amusement and lust that I turned and glanced at Eric and I was taken aback with the look he gave me. His blue eyes burned with intense desire and never left mine as he took three long predatory strides toward me. My heart beat wildly in my chest, and I gasped with delight when he threaded one hand in my hair and wrapped his other arm around my waist, pulling my body flush against his.
“Wife,” he growled before hungrily devouring my lips. His hand traveled up my back until both his hands cradled the back of my head and I moaned into his mouth.
“Ready to go to our room?” He asked with a sly grin once he released me.
I nodded breathlessly and chuckled. Leave it to Eric to take over the situation and make it better.
He handed Hauk and Charlie each a room key as we made our way to the elevators hand in hand.
“We are all on the same floor,” he said. “I got the best rooms I could get on such short notice, but we will not be staying here for the duration of the trip. Once we figure out who kidnapped Godric and how I will access the security of his home. It is one of the most secure homes that I know,” he shook his head. “I do not know how anyone managed to get inside. It either had to have been someone he knows, or someone gave out his security information, and there are very few who know the codes to get in.”
Once we stepped out of the elevator, Eric took my hand and started to guide us to the right toward our room. Speaking over his shoulder, he kept moving. “Your rooms are at the other end of the hall. Call us if you need anything.”
“We’ll see you later,” Charlie said as he turned to walk to his room.
“Later,” I called back.
We stepped into our room that had a living area and bedroom with a seating area. It was nice and simple with a couch, chair, desk and television, but I didn’t really care about what the room looked like; I was starting to get worried about what could happen while we were in Dallas.
“I got the only suite that was available so that you can leave the bedroom without any worry of sunlight breaking in.”
Eric smiled at me as he walked into the bedroom signaling me to follow. I watched as he checked the light tight shudders for the room and set new codes for them.
“I knew you probably would not mind, but it’s summer and the nights are too short,” he said from the window. “You do not want to be stuck inside a small room all day. Plus, Quinn will arrive tomorrow, and you’re to meet and read him. If his intentions are what you believe to be innocent, then get him a room with one of your cards.”
He looked out the window for a moment before he turned back to me.
“I need to talk to Hauk about being there with you when you meet Quinn. I’m unsure if he wants the tiger to know about his day walking skills. If not, then you can question him in Charlie’s room since he’ll be next door. If anything goes wrong, he will be able to help you.”
“Maybe I should wait for you. I’m not sure about all this, and I’d feel safer if I was with you.”
“There is no need for you to be nervous. I’m only being cautious. I trust your judgment and instincts,” he replied. He grasped my hand and took us over to the bed to sit. “It’s very hard for me to trust anyone else with your safety, but I know that in most cases that if something happened to you during the day, I wouldn’t be able to help you. You have no idea how much I hate that.”
Eric caressed the side of my face with the back of his fingers as he looked at me. Once again he was showing me how vulnerable he felt, and I knew how much he disliked feeling that way. He’d already been in a situation where I could have died during the day, and there was nothing he could do. I knew without reading his mind that he was thinking of that day.
I looked up into his deep, soulful cerulean eyes and smiled. Just by looking into his eyes I could see how precious I was to him. I never needed words or the bond to know how much I meant to him although he never had any trouble telling how he felt.
I leaned over the slight distance between us and gave him a soft, sweet lingering kiss.
“Don’t worry about it. You’re providing me with the best daytime security that you can,” I said with a bright smile. “I love that you worry about me and how you take care of me.” I look around the room before settling back on Eric. “So what are we supposed to do next?”
“I need to go over to Godric’s and see if I can find any clues as to what happened. I want you to stay here and maybe you and Charlie can get something to eat from room service while I’m gone.”
“You don’t want me to come with you?” I asked, feeling slightly rejected. I thought he would have wanted me to come with him.
“It would be safer if you stayed here tonight. I don’t know what I’ll find when I get there, but we should hopefully know more after we visit Godric’s house, and I ascertain how someone managed to break in and kidnapped him. Once we’ve found him, it’s most likely that we’ll be staying there. When we’ve come to visit him in the past, he always demands that we stay at his home with him.”
The worry coming off of Eric and my own worry for him was making for a very emotional night. For some unknown reason, I didn’t want to be away from him. I knew that there was nothing I could do to keep him safe, but at least if I was with him I’d know he was okay. I couldn’t help the tears that sprung up at the corners of my eyes or that my nose had started to tingle. Looking down at my hands in my lap, I tried to get my emotions under control. Eric didn’t need this right now. I closed my eyes and took a couple of deep breathes to rein myself in, trying to think logically.
Eric’s large cool hand was soon lifting up my chin until I would have been looking him in the eye if my eyes were open. He was quiet, giving me the time I needed. When I opened my eyes, I could see the worry and concern reflecting back at me in his own eyes as he knelt down in front of me.
“Kära en, I don’t understand why you are upset. Is this because I want you to stay here? If it is, it’s only because I worry for your safety. You know I will always do anything within my power to keep you safe. Explain… please.” He finished flustered but still concerned.
“I don’t know if I can explain it since I’m not sure I understand it much myself,” I took a deep breath before I continued. “I’m worried about you and what’s going to happen here, and I can also feel your worry which is not helping my own.”
“Do you want me to decrease the bond or shut it down?” Eric asked causing a slight twinge of pain in my chest. I couldn’t stand the thought of him shutting down the bond; I truly loved feeling him even if it was his worry.
“No!” I practically shouted. “No, I don’t want you to do anything to the bond,” I said more quietly this time. “I’m just trying to tell you how I feel.”
“I understand,” he said nodding, rising from the ground. He scooped me off the bed and into his arms before he sat down and placed me in his lap. As soon as I laid my head on his shoulder, he started to run his fingers through my hair.
“Finish telling me how you feel.” I felt his chest vibrate with his rumbling voice.
“It’s like I have a bad feeling that something’s going to happen to you and I don’t want to let you out of my sight,” I wrapped my arms around him and buried my face into the crook of his neck. “I know I can’t protect you, but at least if I’m with you, I’ll know you’re safe. Maybe I would read whoever’s mind before they could do anything. I don’t know.”
“Sookie,” he replied with his arms wrapping around me even tighter and rocking us slightly from side to side. “I understand the need to know that you are safe and seeing with your own eyes helps relieve yourself of that worry. I too feel that way, but I also know that I’m going to a situation that could be hostile and I would feel much better knowing that you are here and safe. I can do my job more quickly and efficiently if I’m not looking out for you. We will have to rely on our bond to let the other know that we are okay.”
His words made me feel as if I was a burden. My body was human and fragile, and he always had to look out for me and make sure that I was safe.
Feeling my mood plummet he let out a sigh before kissing the top of my head. “I want you with me all the time, never doubt that, but sometimes like this case, for example, I must push aside our wants and do what needs to be done. I do not know how I would live with myself if you ever got hurt because of my selfish desires.” He paused and rocked us back and forth some more before he broke the silence with his voice almost pleading with me. “Please understand. I only do this for your safety not because I do not want you there.”
I could feel the truth of his words and his absolute love for me that had me nodding into his neck. He only wanted my safety, and it was possible that if I was there he could miss something important and he was worried about what could happen to me.
“Thank you for understanding,” he replied, placing another kiss on the top of my head, but this time his lips lingered there as he took me in. “You haven’t had many chances to see it, but I am a warrior, and I have lived for over a thousand years; I know how to keep myself safe. I promise. You and Charlie can eat and watch a movie, and I’ll be back before you know it.”
“I don’t know why I have this bad feeling. Maybe it’s because we’re both worried; I don’t know. Have I ever told you I had this kind of feeling before?”
Feeling his head shake no, I tried to dismiss my anxiety and give into the incredible sensation of his arms wrapped around me, the feel of his love for me, and the waves of calm and assurance he was sending me.
“If you’re naked you better get your clothes on. We’re on our way to your room.” Hauk’s voice sounded in my head.
I let out a deep breath that I didn’t know I was holding before I placed a kiss against Eric’s neck and sat up straight on his lap. “Hauk and Charlie are on their way. Are you taking Hauk with you?” I asked as I got up off his lap.
Eric stood up and looked down at me with a small smile on his handsome face. “I will to appease you, my beautiful wife. Hopefully, it will help you relax.”
“You already promised me that you’d take him with you,” I said giving him a mock glare. He knew I wasn’t serious. I was only worried, and I had every right to be worried. Someone knew how to bypass security systems and take down ancient vampires in their homes.
Cupping the right side of my face with one of his large hands, his thumb rubbed across my cheekbone. “ l will never promise you anything if I don’t think I’ll be able to keep my word. Come, let us greet your friends.” His hand dropped from my face to quickly take my hand in his before we walked to the door.
Eric didn’t wait for anyone to knock, he went straight to the door and opened it before walking off to grab his leather jacket. Charlie and Hauk came inside but had barely moved before Eric was back by my side.
“We’ll be back as soon as possible,” he said wrapping his arms around me giving me a big hug. He squeezed and lifted me off the ground causing me to giggle before he sat me back down. Turning toward Charlie, his attitude did a complete one-eighty, as he told him in a no-nonsense voice. “I’d like you both to stay upstairs and get room service. Once Quinn has been approved, then he will go out with you, but until then I want you two to stay in this room or your room.”
“Sure thing, boss man,” Charlie replied.
Shaking his head with a slight smile, Eric turned back to me. “I’ll be back soon. Relax and eat your dinner.” He placed a feather light kiss upon my lips before he took a step back and headed out the door.
“Eric,” I called out to him from the doorway as he made his way down the hallway. Both, he and Hauk, turned around. “Be safe.”
“I will,” he replied and started to turn around, but my voice called to him once again.
“I love you,” I whispered.
Before I could take in the change, Eric was standing right in front of me with his lips curled up at the corners. He leaned down and kissed me deep and long until I was dizzy. Pulling back until our noses were touching he tucked my hair behind my ear.
“I love you too,” he replied. He kissed me once more before he vamped down the hallway and into the elevator where Hauk had just stepped in.
“Come back inside,” Charlie called to me, “and let’s look at the room service menu because I’m starved. Do you think the foods any good here?” he asked as I closed the door behind me.
“I don’t know, but I hope so since it looks like we’ll be eating a few meals here.”
“I would think they’d want to make a vampire’s companion happy and with the price it costs to stay at vampire hotel’s they’d better,” Charlie stated absent-mindedly while looking at the menu. “How often do you feed Eric?” he asked looking up at me.
“Um… he takes a little bit normally when we’re intimate, but he never just feeds. He’s old, so he doesn’t need much. Why are you asking?” I thought it was strange that he was asking since he’d been working for us for over six months and had never asked before.
“Just wondering if you need anything high in iron to eat,” he said with a shrug as he continued to peruse the menu. “Let’s get the steaks anyway. Nothing’s better than a good steak. Does that sound okay?” he asked as he made his way over to the phone.
“Sounds fine. I’ll try and find a movie for us to watch while we eat.”
After finding the remote and nothing on, I went in search of the Pay Per View movies. Charlie had come to sit on the other end of the couch from me as we browsed our options.
“Are you sure you want to buy a twenty-dollar movie?” he asked me.
“There’s nothing else on, and I can’t sit around thinking about what could possibly happen to Eric. I need some kind of distraction. What else are we going to do since we can’t leave the room?”
Charlie chuckled, “Do you know how ridiculous it is that you’re worried about a vampire who’s over a thousand years old?”
“I can’t help it. First of all, I love him, and there’s nothing wrong with me being worried about my husband. Plus, I have this weird feeling that something bad is going to happen and I can’t shake it no matter how many times I’ve been told that he’ll be fine and there’s nothing to worry about. There’s obviously something to worry about when a vampire as old as Godric has been taken from his own home.”
“They’ll figure out how and who got into his house, but you’re right, it isn’t good that someone or someone’s managed to get into his house. You know you’ll probably be getting an updated security system at your house now.”
“Eric can install anything he wants, and I won’t care as long as no one can get in and hurt him.”
“And so no one can hurt you,” Charlie finished. After a few minutes of silence and me staring at the TV, Charlie’s voice broke me out of my daze. “Have you decided on a movie yet, the food should be here soon?”
“No, I can’t get my mind off of Eric. Do you see any that interest you?”
“We can watch Thor: The Dark World. It’s the sequel to Thor, and I think you need to have watched The Avengers, but we’ve already watched them so you should be all set. What do you think?”
“It’s fine,” I responded flatly. I didn’t care what we watched. I knew I probably wouldn’t’ be able to pay that much attention to it until Eric got back.”
The next thing I knew we had both eaten our dinners, the movie credits were rolling, and Eric still wasn’t back.
“Charlie, do you mind if I go lay down until Eric’s back? I’m sorry I’m not better company. I’ll try and be better tomorrow.”
“Sure thing. Call me when you get up, and we’ll get breakfast. They’ve got a pool on the rooftop so maybe we can visit tomorrow after Quinn gets here.”
“That sounds like fun. I’ll see you tomorrow. Thanks for coming, Charlie, and for hanging out with me even though I’ve been less than entertaining.”
“I’m happy to be here, and it’s no problem. Good night,” he replied before giving me a brief hug and heading off to his room down the hall.
I decided to get ready for bed and wait in the bedroom for Eric. I quickly found our suitcase and pulled out one of Eric’s t-shirts. After stripping off my clothes, washing my face, and brushing my teeth, I pulled his shirt over my head and inhaled Eric’s unique smell. Closing my eyes, I smiled at how even his t-shirt could calm me down slightly. I wasn’t sure what it was but the way that Eric smelled always made me feel safe and calm.
Feeling that Eric was getting closer, I turned off the lights and lay down to wait for him. I knew that he was fine so I could finally relax. I was so relaxed that I had fallen asleep by the time he had gotten back. It was his cool skin and his arms wrapping around me that woke me up. I slowly turned around to face him and lay my head against his chest, wrapping my arm around him.
“Hey,” I whispered and placed a kiss on his hard, strong chest.
“Hey, yourself,” he replied, placing his own to the top of my head. “Go back to sleep, Lover. You’ve been too stressed tonight.” He lay his head against the top of mine and wrapped me tighter in his arms.
“I’m fine now that I know that you’re okay. What did you find? Any clues?” I asked as I yawned against him.
“There was a struggle, so he was definitely taken against his will. There was a blood trail leading from the door that came from his resting place out to the garage, and there was also the smell of burnt flesh.”
“Anything else? What has you so frustrated?” I asked, rubbing his back with the hand that I had draped over his waist. This was one emotion that I had never felt from him before. Well maybe I felt it a little when he tried to cook me dinner on Valentine’s Day, but it was nothing compared to this.
“From what we could tell there were four different humans and one vampire there besides Godric. It was hard to pick up the scents with the smell of burned flesh being so prevalent and it has also been a few days, so they were not as strong. It’s the vampire’s scent though that has me… I don’t know who it is, but I know that I’ve encountered him or her before. It was so faint but so familiar.”
“So what does it all mean?” I asked. I placed my hands against his chest and pressed a little letting him know that I wanted him to lay on his back. There was no way I could push him if he didn’t want me to, but he didn’t resist. He simply rolled onto his back waiting for me to make my next move. I made my way to sit on top of him; I rubbed my hands over his arms, chest, and tight stomach and kept repeating the circuit. Slowly his frustration was leaving him and being replaced by lust. His hands came to rest on my hips for a few moments before they started to make their own way up my sides and lightly caress the sides of my breasts before heading back down and along my legs.
“You’re getting very good at distracting me,” Eric stated huskily.
“You’ve always been good at distracting me; I just didn’t want you feeling so frustrated right before you went to sleep.”
My body bounced up and down at Eric’s silent chuckle. “Don’t laugh at me,” I said with a fake pout.
“Only you would be worried about what I felt before I ‘go to sleep.’ It’s not like I’m going to have dreams about it. It’s like a blink of an eye, one minute I’m dead to the world and the next I’m back, but I do prefer going to sleep with you in my arms and a smile on my face.”
“Me too.” I grabbed his hands and laced our fingers together, holding them out in front of me for balance. “What does the evidence you found mean?”
“There was no sign of a break-in which suggests that someone knew how to get into his home. We need to be vigilant about our safety while we’re here. Trust no one and read everyone you encounter. Hauk has agreed to be with you when you meet Quinn tomorrow.”
“He doesn’t mind that he’ll know he can be awake during the day?” I asked.
“If Quinn is to be your guard during the day then he will encounter him at some point. He’s read his mind on numerous occasions and believes that the Tiger will be a good guard to you and will be honorable in keeping his secret. I trust his judgment as this is his secret that he’s choosing to let be known to someone who cannot be glamoured. Quinn will be a good guard for you when I cannot be there, and I have a feeling we might need him.”
“Why?” I knew it was serious since I knew he would rather be with me then let my security fall to anyone else.
“I’m afraid that whoever has taken Godric is someone I know. Someone has betrayed Godric and could very well betray any of us.”