Chapter 11: Change Don’t Come Easy
“Suzy! Suzy!” the vampire said frantically as he shook me. My eyes rolled open slowly and I saw his arm hovering over my mouth as more blood dripped between my open lips. “You must stay with me, little one! What is wrong? What can I do?” He shifted and I saw him bring a phone out of his pocket. “I shall send for a healer, little one, but do not slip away,” he begged.
I felt my mind clear ever so slightly, but as my mind returned to me, I began to panic more. I knew something was very wrong with me and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing my children after I had lost everything else. My mind started racing. I knew a regular doctor probably wouldn’t be able to do me any good. I immediately thought of the strange hobbit-like creature that had treated me in the past. “Dr. Ludwig,” I whispered, my voice feeling rough and hoarse.
The vampire shook his head. “I do not know this doctor. Where does she practice?” he asked. He sounded slightly calmer now that I was responding somewhat to him. I could feel his blood giving me some strength, but I knew I was fading quickly.
“Shreveport, Louisiana,” I said with an effort.
The vampire shook his head sadly. “That is much too far out of my reach. I will call and have the finest human doctor here as quickly as possible,” he said, opening his phone again.
I felt a single tear roll down my cheek. “It has to be Dr. Ludwig; she’s the only one who can help me.” The effort of speaking was taking its toll, but the thought of losing my children spurred me on. I closed my eyes and wished with all of my might that the strange little doctor could be here to help me.
I actually felt the vampire who had gathered me in his arms jump. I opened my eyes again to see Dr. Ludwig standing and looking down at me with her mouth wide open and a shocked look on her face.
“Help me, Dr. Ludwig,” I whispered.
She shook her head and asked, “Just what kind of mess have you gotten yourself into now, girlie? And just how in the world did you manage to bring me here?” she looked around, “Wherever here is.” I swallowed and tried to answer, but Dr. Ludwig took charge and decided not to wait for me to answer. “You. Vampire. What’s wrong with the girl now?”
The vampire’s face was still drawn in confusion, but he wisely forwent the questions and answered. “When I came into the room she appeared to have hit her head and was bleeding from a cut on her forehead. I closed and healed the wound and gave her my blood to bring her from unconsciousness, but she has been drifting in and out. My blood should have healed her by now,” he said quickly.
Dr. Ludwig knelt beside me and looked pointedly at the vampire, but he didn’t move me from his arms. She felt my face and neck, and took my pulse.
As she was working, I murmured, “I’m pregnant.”
Dr. Ludwig raised an eyebrow at that and asked in a flat voice, “Who and what is the father?”
“They’re Eric’s,” I said softly as another tear rolled down my cheek.
“The vampire’s? Can’t be,” Dr. Ludwig said quickly and looked skeptical for a moment before she said, “I really wish you’d brought my instrument bag when you summoned me, or whatever you did.”
I’d never been able to read the little doctor before, nor had I ever really tried, but I weakly grasped her hand and held it. As I probed her mind, I saw in her mind what her bag looked like and where it had been sitting in her clinic. With the last bit of strength I had, I concentrated and focused on trying to bring her medical bag here.
“Well, that’s handy,” the little doctor said gruffly as I slipped into blackness again.
I came to wondering where I was. The last few moments that I’d been conscious came back to me, and I tried to sit up with a start.
“Easy, little one,” a deep voice said, as someone pushed me back down. My eyes started to focus again and I realized that I was lying on the massive bed in Marci’s hotel suite. I lifted my arms and saw several tubes coming out of them.
“You needed a rather large blood transfusion,” Dr. Ludwig said, gruffly, but I noticed a smile on her face. That shocked me even more; I don’t think I’d ever seen her smile before. “I’ve got you hooked up to an IV with fluids as well. You’re lucky the vampire was here. Though you brought me my instruments, I didn’t have any bagged blood or fluids. The vampire was able to round up the supplies I needed very quickly. You should be feeling much better in a few hours, though you should take it easy for a while,” the little doctor advised, still smiling.
“What happened?” I asked, already feeling much stronger, though quite thirsty. I did recognize the foul taste of TrueBlood in my mouth from my awful experience in Jackson. The vampire—Robert, I corrected myself—seemed to sense this and helped me sit up and handed me a bottle of water.
Dr. Ludwig answered as I drank. “You were quite anemic. I would recommend drinking a steady diet of TrueBlood throughout your pregnancy, and if you are more active, or the babes take too much, you should have another transfusion,” she explained.
“What?” I asked ineloquently.
“It appears you were quite correct. The babes do seem to have vampiric qualities. They’ve been taking blood from you as they develop and your body has not been replacing it quickly enough. Perhaps once your morning sickness passes and you’re eating properly, your body will be able to replenish your blood supply more adequately, but my guess is that you’ll still need to take in extra blood. My guess is that you hit and cut your head after becoming dizzy due to the blood loss. The vampire,” here she nodded towards Robert, who was watching me intently, “giving you his blood helped to heal the physical wound and brought you around a bit, but you still were to the point of nearly being drained so you needed your blood supply refilled.”
“Isn’t that dangerous? Couldn’t I be turned? Are the babies ok?” I rattled off, feeling anxious.
“The babes are fine. No harm done that I could tell, course they are half vampire, so it’s likely that they could heal from nearly anything. As for being turned,” her eyebrow cocked as she considered me, “well, after all this time and as much ancient vampire blood as you’ve had, and factoring in that you are much further from human than any of us realized … heck, at this point I highly doubt you could be turned. Maybe if you were completely drained of all of your blood to the point of death and then fed vampire blood—maybe. All things considered, I’m beginning to think that such a thing couldn’t happen unless you willed it. Accidental turning though? No, I highly doubt it,” she carefully explained.
I knew I’d have to carefully consider what she said, so I just nodded.
“Is this the reason the Viking has gone on a rampage,” Dr. Ludwig asked, gesturing towards me.
I tensed at her words, but Robert spoke before I could. “The Norseman?” he asked, clearly surprised.
I tensed even more and felt fear grip me. If he knew Eric, would he tell Eric where I was and hand me back over to him. For a fleeting moment, I saw visions of my children being taken from me by other vampires as Eric was bound in silver, helpless to stop it or help us. Visions of them being used for their abilities before they even had a chance to experience childhood flashed through my mind. Somehow, I knew these visions could come true, that if I didn’t choose the right paths that they could come to pass. I didn’t have time to question how or why I saw and knew these things; I just knew that they were true. My muscles bunched together as I started to gather myself. I knew I couldn’t go back to Louisiana now. It wasn’t safe there. Eric couldn’t protect me as only a sheriff. I wouldn’t let this vampire send me back. I started gathering my magic, readying myself to teleport away or fight if necessary. I knew I would do whatever it took to protect my children.
“Easy, little one,” Robert said soothingly as he raised his hands in surrender. “There is no need for fear. You have my word that I shall never harm you or your babes,” he said sincerely.
I looked deeply into his eyes, wanting so desperately to believe and trust someone. “You won’t—send me back to Eric?” I asked haltingly.
“Is that what you are afraid of, Suzy? I do not know what is happening between you and the Norseman, but if you desire to stay here, you have my word that you will be safe in California for the rest of your days. You and your babes. I give you my solemn vow,” he said earnestly as he took a knee on the floor beside the bed and pressed his fist over his still heart. “I pledge myself and all that I have to protecting you and the babes. I owe you this and more for bringing me back to this life.”
I relaxed back onto the bed a little at his absolute sincerity, but covered my face and said in despair, “But how can you promise me that I’ll be safe in this state, that someone else won’t come along and try to take me. How can anyone protect me?” I felt several tears slip out of my closed eyes and through my clenched fingers.
The bed depressed a little as Robert sat beside me and gently pulled my hands away from my face, being very careful of the IVs in them. I opened my eyes to see his gentle smile. “This is my state. None would dare harm you in the state of California,” he said gently.
His words sank in, and I pulled my hands away from him. “You’re the k-king,” I stuttered.
“At your service,” he said with a flourish and slight bow.
“You’d be safer here than you’d be with most vampires,” Dr. Ludwig added gruffly. “Course they’re mostly untrustworthy,” she said as Robert turned to her and narrowed his eyes with a warning growl. She simply waved him off. “But you’re gonna need help from their kind. From the havoc Northman is wreaking, I’d say you’re probably safer here, at least for now.” I started to ask her what she meant but she continued on. “Now, I’ve got other patients at my own clinic I need seeing to. Seeing as there’s never been a pregnancy like yours before, I’d recommend me coming to check on you at least once a week. I left my number on the nightstand so I’d appreciate it if you’d call me before you summoned me here each week or if it’s an emergency so that I can bring with me what I need.” She looked pointedly at me, but I was speechless by her no-nonsense matter.
“You won’t tell Eric where I am?” I whispered.
“Nope. I’m your doctor, so confidentiality is binding,” she assured.
“I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to pay you,” I said, for the first time realizing that someone else had always taken care of paying her.
“I’ll—” Robert started to say before the little doctor held her hand up and cut him off.
“Not necessary. My services have already been engaged for the girl for the rest of her life for anything that might come up.” She looked at me and continued, “You’re great-grandfather paid me very generously before he left. Although,” she said with that wide smile again, “I’d probably pay you for this opportunity if he hadn’t. Just the chance of being part of something that is supposed to be impossible,” she shook her head. “Anyway,” she gave me that pointed look again, like she wanted me to do something, “like I said, I’ve got patients to get to. So if you could send me back, I would appreciate it. Make sure you call me next week for your check-up or if you feel anything is amiss, and you can remove those IVs when the bags are empty.”
“Oh. Sorry. Right,” I stammered. I closed my eyes and focused on reversing the power I’d used earlier to bring Dr. Ludwig here. It had been relatively easy to summon the little doctor, but I’d heard all sorts of stories about mother’s doing amazing things to save their children. I wondered if it was a little like that. It took more concentration to send the little doctor back, but still less effort than I was afraid it might. I remembered Dermot telling me that it would be easier to do things once I had learned them and “stretched those muscles” so to speak.
“Astonishing. Truly remarkable,” Robert said in awe, still sitting on the bed beside me.
I opened my eyes to see that the little doctor was gone, leaving me alone with the King of California. I felt a little self-conscious about him being a king, but oddly, I didn’t feel an ounce of fear for him anymore. When I’d looked into his eyes earlier, I’d read in them how utterly sincere he was.
“What are you?” he asked, gently taking my hand in his. I was a little surprised at the action; most vampires weren’t the kind to do affectionate gestures.
I shrugged, not really sure how to answer him.
“I smelled from the first that you are part fairy, just as I smelled the vampire blood in you,” he explained. He closed his eyes and gently inhaled. “You smell so strongly of vampire that you could almost pass for one, but overlaying that smell is the most alluring combination of sunlight, fairy, and something else. It appears the vampire smell can be attributed to the Norseman and your children, but what of the others?”
“My great-grandfather was a fairy,” I admitted, though I didn’t think it was wise to say who he was yet. “As for anything else,” I shrugged again, “I don’t know.”
“You are only one-eighth fairy?” I nodded. “The strength of your magic is astounding. I have seen fairies teleport before, but never have I seen one bring another being through space as you did. I did not know such a thing could be done,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
“I didn’t know it was possible either. I was just desperate to protect my children,” I admitted.
Robert looked at my belly. “Yes, it would seem you are able to do much that is considered impossible.”
We both sat in silent contemplation for a while. When the IVs emptied, I carefully removed the needles and Robert licked the tiny wounds to seal them. I could see his eyes roll back in pleasure at tasting my blood, but I didn’t begrudge him that. He’d probably saved my life and my children’s lives by finding me when he did.
I slowly slipped out of bed, despite Robert’s protests that I should remain, and walked out to sit on the patio. I wanted to get some fresh air as I thought about things.
Sitting down on a lounge chair, I asked, “Why were you in my room anyway?”
Robert had been leaning against the open patio door watching me, but at my question, he came forward, hopped up on the railing, and sat facing me. I might have been worried about someone else sitting on the railing with nothing between them and the ocean below, but I knew that as a vampire he was perfectly fine. In the bright moonlight, I finally took the time to study him. He’s dark hair was gathered in a loose ponytail at the base of his neck and he was wearing a black suit with a black shirt that was partially open, exposing his pale, lean chest. He was taller even than my Viking, but thinner and leaner, though still well muscled.
I looked down for the first time and realized that there was dried blood on the shoulder of the tracksuit jacket I was wearing. I knew from experience I would never be able to get the blood out and vowed to replace it for Marci when I could.
“I asked at the front desk for your room number this evening when I woke so that I could come and properly thank you for helping me. I was told you were staying in the Dell’s suite and came to see you. As I came to the door, I heard a loud thud in the room. As I was knocking, I began to smell the scent of blood. You would not answer, so I broke in and found you on the floor,” he explained.
“But how could you enter the room?” I wondered.
“This is a hotel, not a mortal’s private residence. Regardless, not only do I own most of this hotel, I have been invited into the Dell’s suite before.”
“Oh,” was my only reply. After I thought for a moment I said, “I guess I was really lucky that you were at my door when you were. I’d probably be dead otherwise.”
Robert gave a sad smile. “And had you not been on the roof last night when you were, I would be finally dead. It appears we were both where we needed to be at just the right moment. Perhaps the gods brought you here for some fate,” he said as he looked me over.
Robert continued to study me as I looked down at the floor. “You obviously have had much blood from the Norseman, are you bonded as well?” he asked, gently changing the subject.
“Yes,” I said apprehensively, looking back up at him.
“It would be better if you were not. By vampire law, you belong to him. But I have given you my word, and I will not take it back.” He looked at me curiously. “It is because of your magic that the Norseman bonded to you?”
I shook my head. “No, my magic has been pretty recent.”
“It will only be a matter of time until the Norseman is able to find you through your bond. We will have to decide how best to handle his arrival. You technically belong to him, but perhaps I can barter with him to keep you here,” he said thoughtfully as he crossed his arms over his chest and rested his chin on one hand.
I shook my head again. “I blocked him from being able to feel me, so he can’t use it to find me,” I told him.
Robert’s eyebrows shot up at that. “Truly remarkable. He does not know where you went?” he asked in surprise. I shook my head. “Still, he is resourceful. He will still look for you.” It sounded more like a question than a statement.
“No, he despises me. He-he wants nothing to do with me. He hates me,” I said, bringing my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around them. Robert looked puzzled, so I went on. “I can still feel him, even though he can’t feel me. I don’t know why, although, I don’t feel him as much as I did before. Maybe it’s because you gave me your blood,” I said with a shrug.
“I am very sorry, Suzy. I can feel your sadness in talking about him. I shall not press further. We will deal with him if and when the matter comes up. So long as we keep quiet about your presence here, perhaps he will not know.” I thought about trying to block Robert from feeling my emotions, but oddly, I felt so alone, that it was somewhat comforting that he could sense at least some of my feelings.
“My name isn’t Suzy. I’ve been telling people that so no one finds me.” Robert tilted his head and motioned for me to continue. After everything he had done, I knew I couldn’t keep it from him. “My real name is Sookie.”
Robert’s eyes widened. “Sookie Stackhouse!” Almost instantly, he was kneeling in front of me on the lounge, staring at me in wonder. I was surprised by his reaction. “You are the telepath from Rhodes! It is little wonder the Norseman bonded you,” he marveled. Then his eyebrows knitted together. “De Castro will be looking for you as well I’m sure. He will not accept losing such an asset from his kingdom.” He moved to sit on the foot of the lounge, swinging his feet over the side of it as he stared off into space.
A sly smile graced his handsome face as he turned to me and said, “Of course, who would think to look for his lost asset in his own backyard, as it were? He will undoubtedly believe that you would want to get as far from Louisiana and Nevada as possible. And I will do nothing to dissuade such a thought. You will remain Suzy, and we will be very careful to only allow my most trusted vampires near you.”
“I still don’t understand why you and Marci are doing so much for me,” I told him quietly.
He smiled. “Yes, I heard Mrs. Dell gave you a job assisting our concierge. Although, as a telepath, that is a rather poor use of your skills. You need not work if you do not wish to. In fact, I would prefer if you didn’t.”
“I can’t not work. I need to do something. I’ll go crazy just sitting around. At least helping out Jeremy I’m being useful.”
Robert sighed. “I can feel your determination. Very well, you can continue helping the human for now. I would prefer that you only work a few hours in the afternoon however.” I started to object. “You and your babes must remain healthy. You and they cannot be put in jeopardy again, as you were tonight.”
I thought about how dizzy I had gotten and how quickly I passed out. I knew I was extremely lucky Robert was there when he was to save me. I couldn’t put my children at that kind of risk again. “Okay,” I agreed quietly. I had been thinking all afternoon about working with Jeremy and how much my telepathy could actually help me out for once at a job. “But I do want to be useful. I can use my telepathy to read humans and know what potential clients want. Jeremy explained that a lot of times when you’re trying to get groups to hold conferences and meetings in your hotel instead of another at another one, you have to try to figure out what things they want so that you can offer it to them and make your bid better than your competition. I can read potential clients and know exactly what they want,” I told him.
“A rather simple use of your talents,” Robert chuckled, “but if that is your wish, I will allow it. Mrs. Dell will likely be very happy for you to continue helping the concierge. We will discuss this again if the work is too much. I will not risk your health.”
“I can’t believe Marci was so nice that she brought me here and gave me the chance at a job. Maybe she has a stray dog complex, and she thinks since I followed her home that she needs to protect me?” I wondered.
Robert laughed at that, and I was surprised at the deep, almost musical quality of it. “Whatever the reason, I find that I am very glad I went into business with her and her husband on this hotel. If not for her bringing you here, I would never have been saved from my misery of guilt and self-loathing,” he said as he unwrapped one of my hands from my around my knees and brought the back of it to his lips to softly kiss it. I blushed, and it turned into a yawn.
“Come, you are tired and in need of rest,” he told me as he pulled me to my feet. He never let go of my hand as he led me back into the suite and into the bedroom. He seemed so kind for a vampire, but I was still surprised at how gentle he was as he helped me into bed. “Good night, little one,” he told me as he kissed my forehead. “I will make arrangements for more Weres to be guarding the hotel. I will have several assigned to discreetly watch you throughout the day. This in not negotiable,” he said when I started to object. “We will discuss more of your security arrangements tomorrow night. Sleep, little mother.”
He started to let go of my hand to leave, but I held on and tugged him closer. Since I had come to, I didn’t feel Eric’s emotions as strongly as I did before, and while I was holding Robert’s hand, I was able block them out almost completely. “Will you please stay until I fall asleep,” I asked. As much as he helped me block Eric’s emotions, I also didn’t want to be alone.
Robert nodded and settled on the bed on top of the covers as he leaned against the headboard. I rolled onto my side facing Robert, and once again fell asleep holding hands with a vampire.
A/N: Let me know what you guys thought.
Also, go to youtube and watch the trailer for Vampires Suck if you haven’t already. It’s a new movie that spoofs Twilight, and it’s hilarious! I laughed my butt off! I can’t wait to see it!
Thanks to everyone for your reviews!