Chapter 24: It’s Too Late to Change the Time
This time when I woke up, I was prepared to unwrap Eric’s body from my own. I had fallen asleep on my back with the side of Eric’s head pressed to my stomach. He didn’t appear to have moved at all by the time I woke up. My bladder was once again uncomfortably full, but I stayed where I was, savoring the feeling of Eric’s cool skin pressed to my stomach. For several minutes, I laid on my back running my fingers through Eric’s tangled locks. I carefully ran my fingers through his hair until all of the tangles I had created the night before were free from his hair.
The weight of his head on my stomach surprisingly didn’t feel too heavy. It felt comforting. The added weight was a reminder that I was no longer alone. Not that my swelling stomach wasn’t a reminder in and of itself that I would never be alone again. But Eric’s presence was a reminder that I would no longer be alone in taking on the world for our children. We would face it all together. I knew letting myself love Eric was a risk, but the comfort of knowing I was no longer alone was worth the risk to my heart.
I gathered myself and began the process of slowly pushing Eric’s weight off of me so I could begin my day. Strike that. Evening. The clock on the bedside table showed that it was now early evening. Factoring in that it was winter, I knew the sun would be setting before too long so Eric would be waking soon.
After dressing for the night, I ordered some food and made my way to the main room of the suite to soak up the last bit of sun that would be left for the day. There were a few important phone calls I need to make and return, so I spent a little time following up on those as well. I knew we were most likely going to make our move to steal Barry back tonight, and I wanted to make sure I was prepared for anything that could happen. In my stomach, something told me that everything was coming to a head tonight. I had to be ready for when it did.
I knew there was another vampire-safe bedroom in the suite and I assumed it was being used by Pam. It surprised me how much it eased a knot in my stomach the night before to see Pam. It had really upset me to know that I had come between Eric and his child. I wasn’t sure if they had completely mended fences yet, but I considered it a great step in the right direction that she was here and they were apparently talking. I hated coming between them.
Still, I felt the need to check and ensure myself that Pam was indeed in her room. After opening the double set of doors to the other room, I couldn’t help but stand and gape. Pam wasn’t alone.
I had been sure that Robert would be spending the day in another room in the hotel since he valued his privacy, but here he was. The sight would have been comical if I hadn’t been so shocked. Pam was wrapped around Robert, spooning him from behind. The sheet was only pulled up to their waists and it was abundantly obvious that neither of them were wearing anything. Pam was shorter than I was, and Robert was even taller than Eric was, so the differences in their heights made the sight of Pam wrapped around Robert quite strange.
“Were you hoping to join us, lígo mitéra?” Robert’s voice asked, thick and gravely from sleep though he hadn’t even opened his eyes.
“I’m sorry. I just-I was-I mean-I was just checking on Pam. I didn’t know you would be here. I’m sorry,” I stammered quickly.
Robert didn’t move, but opened one eye to glance over at me where I still stood by the door. He reached up with one hand and gently caressed the arm Pam had flung over his chest and said, “You are more than welcome to join us when Pamela wakes, darling.”
I could feel my face flush with heat as I spun around and fled as quickly as possible, throwing over my shoulder, “No thanks.” I could hear Robert’s soft chuckles as I left.
Feeling unsettled, I decided to retreat to the safety of Eric’s room. I was completely baffled by the sight of Pam and Robert sharing a bed. I knew they were both avid batters for the other team, but maybe batting for the other team held some form of mutual attraction for them.
I entered Eric’s room and crawled back into bed with him. Almost instantly, he stirred and pulled me into his still naked body. I laid my head on his chest as he lowered his head to mine and inhaled. “What has you so disturbed, my lover?” Eric’s voice rumbled in a gravelly purr.
I leaned up on my elbows, pressing on Eric’s chest to look down at him. “Did you know that Robert spent the day in Pam’s room?” I asked.
Eric gave me an amused smirk. “I heard them come in. This hotel may advertise soundproof rooms, but it is difficult to actually make anything soundproof to vampire hearing,” he answered.
“You knew he stayed here? You don’t even like Robert.”
Eric laughed as he began to curl a strand of my hair around his fingers. “I do not care for him myself, but I was not the one sharing his bed. Normally I quite approve of my child’s bedmates, but even she chooses poorly from time to time,” he said, fighting the smirk that was tugging at his lips.
“But I thought they both played for the other team?” I asked, unable to hide my curiousness.
“You misunderstand the nature of vampires, my love. It is true that some prefer their lovers in one physical form or another, but it is more their particular nature that is appealing.” Eric saw my confusion and continued. “Pam for example prefers bedmates of the feminine persuasion, but she is also drawn to those who share her tastes in fashion and she has always been drawn to the strength of warriors and to power. I would guess your friend, Robert, is also drawn to a sense of fashion, but also to the strength in warrior traits as well. A sense in fashion may be perceived as feminine to humans and aggression and strength may in turn be seen as masculine, but to vampires, we are drawn to these qualities no matter what form they come in. Some might believe that Pam has masculine qualities and that Robert has feminine qualities, but most vampires do not make that distinction.”
“But I thought Pam usually takes woman as her, uh, partners?” I asked, still not quite sure I was grasping what Eric was explaining.
“Yes, when Pam is taking human bedmates simply for food and sex she prefers the allure and soft curves of the fairer sex,” he said with a smirk as he ran his hand up my side. “As do I—but when vampires do choose to have dalliances with one another they choose their bedmates on deeper attractions than simply physical ones. Some will still have a preference for male or female, but to most, those lines blur and hold little meaning.”
Eric let me think in silence for a while, considering what he’d told me. “But Pam and Robert? It’s just weird,” I protested. “I didn’t expect it.”
Eric shrugged as he pulled me closer, “Did you really wish to talk about Robert and Pam? I can think of other things we could be doing,” he purred as he kissed my neck and his hands began to roam, slowly pushing my shirt up so he could cup my breasts.
“Eric, we should get up and see what Pam and Robert found out. I don’t like leaving Barry in that place any longer than we have to,” I reminded Eric as I pushed him away. He made a disgruntled noise but let me get up.
Once again, Eric dressed in his normal t-shirt, jeans, and boots combo. I smiled faintly, remembering Pam’s comment from the night before, but I had to admit, I liked the casual way Eric dressed. Not that he couldn’t pull off a well cut suit when it was called for too. He usually looked good in anything. Or nothing at all.
“What are you thinking about, lover?” Eric asked with a raised brow as he strode towards me.
I felt myself blush, realizing I’d been caught daydreaming about Eric in various clothes and even without them and that he’d felt my rising lust. “Stupid hormones,” I mumbled. I finally allow myself to have sex with Eric again and now my mind wanted nothing more than to remind me of it.
Eric chuckled, but simply took my hand and led me into the main room. Pam and Robert were lounging in the sitting area when we came out, and I could help but blush again.
Pam grinned and said, “Really Sookie, you should have stayed. You’re always welcome to join us. Eric would never agree to share you with me, but maybe I can talk you into being shared with Robert.”
Eric raised his brow and gave a slight growl. I decided the best thing to do was to ignore the comment and figure out what our next move would be. I accepted Robert’s outstretched hand and sat beside him, ignoring his unashamed, playful grin. “So what did you guys find out last night?” I asked.
Robert handed me the bottle of TrueBlood he had just started on as he answered. “There appears to be a network of guards around the basement of the hotel, but no further away than that. They are also only humans, so they should not prove too much trouble to get past.”
I quickly drank the bottle of blood and handed the empty bottle back to Robert as he stood and went to the fridge to heat more. He knew I was likely going to need at least one more blood to prepare for the evening, but what caught my attention was Pam’s shocked face.
She jumped to her feet exclaiming, “Why are you drinking blood, Sookie?”
I was surprised that she didn’t seem to know and I gave Eric with a questioning look. I had assumed he would have already told Pam the news by now. Eric took the hint and answered for me. “Sookie requires blood to replace what our children take,” he answered simply.
Pam stared at me. I had wanted to tell her the truth when I tracked her down in Minnesota, but wasn’t sure if it was safe for her to know then.
Pam looked back to Eric in astonishment. “You fathered the children?” she said in wonder.
Eric took Robert’s seat and threw his arm around my shoulder. With a grin he said, “Yes, they are my children.”
Robert returned and handed me another bottle of blood. He took a seat next to Pam and pulled her down next to him. “Let us focus on how we will rescue the telepath so we can get out of this city before we are discovered, Pamela,” Robert said.
Several hours later, I was once again wearing my wig and another flowered maternity dress as I walked through the hotel lobby. I had let Barry know that we were on our way and to hang in there. He “sounded” even worse tonight than he had the night before.
Eric hadn’t been pleased with the idea of me going into the hotel, but grudgingly admitted that I would be needed since I was the only one who could communicate with Barry and my telepathy made me an excellent lookout. Since Pam looked like an innocent soccer mom anyway, she was escorting me through the main part of the hotel towards the basement so she could glamor the guards there. Robert and Eric were coming from different directions to the basement since their height and appearances made them stand out too much.
I was impressed at the quick work Pam made of glamoring the two guards at the bottom of the stairwell and we made our way towards the room that held Barry. He had told me the FBI had been pumping drugs into him, hoping to break his shields and I could hear his thoughts fading in and out of lucidness as the drugs began affecting him more and more.
Eric and Robert met us at the door where Barry was being kept, both were grinning like little boys on their first trip to the candy store.
“What are you two grinning about? You didn’t kill anyone did you?” I hissed in a low voice. To Barry I thought, Just hold on Barry, we’ll be there in just a second. Keep your head down.
I don’t know how much more I can take! Hurry up! Barry’s strained voice said.
“Of course not. We glamored the guards into going for a walk—as we discussed. But there is some satisfaction to be had in sneaking into an enemy’s territory,” Eric replied, still grinning. He gave me a hard kiss, and then said, “Stay here with Pam. Robert and I will clear the room.” With that he spun away and my two vampires blurred into the room.
I wanted to step forward to see what was going on, but Pam held me back with an arm around my shoulder. “Just wait,” she whispered.
There was some muffled noises in the room, and then Eric called out, “Sookie, come in here.”
Pam and I walked into the room to see Eric and Robert tying up and gagging the various humans in the room. Two of them were convicts that were already handcuffed to their chairs, and three were FBI agents. I was somewhat surprised to see that one of the agents was even Lattesta. I felt my jaw tighten, and I really wanted to kick him, but instead I went to Barry who was still handcuffed to a chair himself.
Barry was swaying unsteadily in his chair and blinking like he could barely keep his eyes open. “Barry, are you okay?” I asked as I knelt beside him.
I want to—to get out of here, Barry thought to me. Even his thoughts seemed disjointed, but they were loud and overpowering. I could barely hear anything else, and I had to fight the urge to put my hands over my ears in a futile attempt to block his loud thoughts out. Whatever they had done to Barry had really done a number on him. I had never felt such strong and loud thoughts coming from anyone, but especially not Barry.
“We’ll get you out of here,” I assured Barry.
I looked up as Eric called my name, and caught the handcuff keys he tossed me as the three vampires finished tying up the FBI agents. I started uncuffing Barry and tried to help him get to his feet, but Barry swayed unsteadily and fell back into the chair.
“Come on, Barry. You’ve got to get up,” I told him.
Eric came over to us. “What is wrong with him?” he asked, gesturing to Barry.
“They’ve drugged him with something and haven’t let him sleep in days. I don’t think he’ll be much good in helping us get out of here,” I told Eric as I once again tried to lift Barry out of his chair. He was almost boneless and it smelled that he hadn’t showered in days. His dirty rumpled clothes seemed to support this. His thoughts were erratic and I was struggling to pull away from his mind and focus on the hotel around us. Something about the drugs they had been feeding to Barry were making his thoughts loud and overwhelming to me even though I hadn’t been the one to take the drugs.
“Pam, take the telepath,” Eric directed as his arm came around me to guide me away from Barry. I let Eric walk with me out of the room as Pam slung Barry over her shoulder in a fireman’s carry. Robert went ahead of Eric and I to make sure the hallway was still clear.
Our plan was a relatively simple snatch and grab, but something in the back of my mind said nothing was ever simple.
We made it up the stairs and were making our way around the backside of the banquet room when I managed to fully shield myself from Barry’s loud disjointed thoughts.
I grabbed Eric’s arm and whispered, “Something’s wrong!”
“What?” Eric whispered back as he spun around to face me.
I closed my eyes and focused. “This floor of the hotel has emptied of humans, the rest of the hotel is emptying quickly, and there’s a bunch of vampires closing in!”
Eric grabbed Barry from Pam’s shoulder. “Take Sookie and get out of here,” Eric commanded, pointing across the banquet hall towards the main lobby. “We’ll take the telepath out the back and rendezvous later.” His eyes bore into mine, and though he didn’t say it, I could see the words he’d left unspoken. If we can.
Pam grabbed my arm and started hustling me through the empty room. We had only gotten to the middle of the room along one of the walls when several vampires walked into the room from the door we had been running to.
Victor and several vampires I recognized as being part of his group stood just inside the doorway. They were all dressed in expensive looking suits, as if they were going to a party rather than trying to capture a human and some vampires. They all either carried swords and knives in their hands or had them strapped to their backs or waists.
So—we had walked right into Victor’s trap.
Victor took the time to look me over curiously, and then he slowly grinned when he recognized me. “Why, we’ve finally found the delightful Miss Stackhouse.” He looked me over again, his eyes lingering on my belly. “I can see now why Northman wasn’t putting any effort into finding you,” he sneered.
I heard Eric growl and looked over my shoulder to see that he and Robert had been partway towards coming into the room after Pam and I. They must have heard the other vampires before we did and were coming after us. Or maybe they’d heard the vampires that were now coming into the room behind them.
Victor looked Eric and Robert over and I could see his visible shock when he recognized Robert. “Caras,” he said with an almost respectful nod of his head. “It appears you’ve chosen to back the wrong side. What a shame,” he finished with a smirk.
Robert gave an elegant shrug of his shoulder. “I have never backed a losing side yet,” he said, his voice strong and nonchalant.
“There’s a first for everything,” Victor laughed.
Pam was still close to me and she whispered in my ear, “When I say go, you run through the side doors and don’t look back.”
I looked towards the doors on the side of the room where we were standing. The banquet room was long and somewhat narrow, and we were very close to the side doors that went towards the hotel rooms. We had already decided that I would only use my magic to teleport as a last resort and that if anything went wrong—no matter what—I was to flee and make sure I kept the babies safe. The fewer vampires who knew I could do any kind of magic the better.
“How did you know we were here, Madden?” Eric’s calm voice rang out.
Victor grinned wider and said in his usual oily voice, “Why, by working with the FBI. The surveillance cameras those humans have come up with these days are wonderful things. And virtually undetectable.” We had of course looked for cameras, so Victor must have been right about them being undetectable.
“Run,” Pam whispered as Victor and his men were focusing their attention on Eric. She gave me a hard push, propelling me through the door. I gave one final look over my shoulder to see Eric dropping Barry on the floor near a wall and turning to face the vampires that charged after him and Robert. I was heartsick at the thought of leaving all three of my vampires behind, but knew they were all warriors and could at least hold out for a while.
As I ran down the hallway, I grabbed the phone out of my bra and hit speed dial. “Get to the hotel now!” I shouted quickly, before I was grabbed from behind and shoved hard against the wall.
Victor grabbed the phone from my hand and threw it against the floor, shattering it to bits. I saw over his shoulder that the little Asian looking vampire, Jonathan, was watching his back.
“You know, I figured your disappearance was part of some elaborate plan on Eric’s part, but I can see now why he sent you away,” he said with a grin as he let the back of his hand graze my belly, then he pushed my shoulders roughly against the wall. “I waited and waited for him to make his move, and then I decided to draw you out. Worked splendidly, didn’t it?” he said with a grin.
“What do you want with me, Victor?” I couldn’t help but ask. It wasn’t the first time he’d come after me, and I figured I had the right to know. I could hear shouts and snarling from the banquet room, and figured that as long as I was still hearing noise, it was good news. I knew I also needed to buy time. No matter what, I wouldn’t abandon my vampires if I could help it.
He reached one hand up and fingered the wig I was wearing, then roughly tore it away and flung it to the ground as well. He even reached around and quickly pulled the bobby pins out, causing my blond hair to tumble down around my shoulders.
“That’s better. It’s nothing personal, my dear. If I could, I would use you for my own benefit. But as it is, since you pledged yourself to Eric, you’re virtually useless to me. Eric doesn’t fool me, he loves you and as long as he lives, he’ll never allow another vampire to take you from him. And as long as he’s alive, no one else can claim you. Either I kill him and take you—quite difficult. Or I kill you, making him vulnerable and easier to kill. As I said, it’s nothing personal, but I know which choice I will make.” He shrugged. “I need Eric out of the way if I’m going to take over this state. And what is the old saying? If I can’t have you, nobody can.” He laughed at his own turn of phrase and I couldn’t help the petulant act of kicking his shin with all my might. It only caused him to grin at me more.
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye just as Victor started bending his head towards my neck; his fangs were already out. Victor jerked his head up to see what was happening and was just as shocked as I was to see the fairy with the long slender sword coming towards Jonathan. The Asian vampire drew a sword as well and stepped towards Dermot. As the sound of their swords rang out, I couldn’t believe that I was seeing my uncle. I hadn’t seen him since the night I left, but here he was.
Victor turned back towards me, anger bright in his eyes and all thoughts of the appearance of my uncle vanished. I knew that Victor wasn’t going to waste another minute. The look in his eyes said he was going to tear my throat out instead of slowly draining me. I thought about trying to teleport, but since Victor had a good grip on my arms, I knew I would only succeed in bringing him with me. I couldn’t count on anyone else coming to my rescue and Dermot was still busy trying to get past Jonathan. I needed to take care of Victor myself. For my children’s sake. For Eric’s sake. And for everyone else I loved and cared about.
I was terrified of the thought of losing my children. And I was terrified at the thought of anything happening to any of my vampires. I knew I had to do something. And quick.
I closed my eyes, listening to my heavily beating heart, and prayed with all of my might that my magic would work this time.
It had to. There was no other choice.
A/N: Sorry this one was a while coming. Works been hectic again, and I honestly just had a really hard time writing this chapter. I just haven’t been able to get it just right, but I need to move on and get to the rest of the story. Hope this chapter is at least all right.
Anyway, thanks so much to everyone for their reviews they keep me going.
Let me know what you thought!
Also, if any body is at all artistically/graphically inclined, I’m still hoping that someone can make a banner for this story. I have no talent in the graphic design area. 😉