I woke up wondering if Sookie would still be in the house. I listened for noises, but came up with a blank. I felt at sting to my undead heart.
To be sure she wasn`t there, I checked if her car was still in the driveway. It wasn`t.
I wanted to destroy something and I roared in anger and disappointment. What was it with this woman? Hadn`t I asked her to stay? Wouldn`t most people stay if a vampire told them to?
Sookie wasn`t `most people`. She was…. her smell, her body, her humor and how she cared for vampires even if she claimed the opposite. How she cared for me.
Her blushing, her independence, her strength, the little sadness in her that I wanted to blow away. Last, but definitely not least, the sex. THE SEX!
She was indeed mine. My Sookie. Now I just needed her to know it too.
Never shying away from a challenge, I got dressed, grabbed a quick bottle of blood and took to the air. As I had no car, I had to fly to Sookie`s farm.
If the mountain won`t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain. I never quote any of the monotheistic religious books. Those books mean nothing to me as my religious beliefs were formed ages before those religions came to Scandinavia. But the quote was fitting. Sookie was like a mountain. A stubborn mountain. A sweet, stubborn mountain.
There was a car outside Sookie`s farm. It smelled of witch and I figured Sookie was having a friend over. I knocked on the door, bracing myself for whatever mood Sookie might be in. I was determined to sweep her off her feet if she was mad, sad or happy to see me. I knew I had it in me. I knew Sookie had it in her. It could take an hour or it could take a year. I wanted her and I was going to have her.
It wasn`t Sookie who opened the door, but a dark-haired witch with a troubled look in her eyes. I didn`t like that. Had Sookie said something about me to make her look this worried? Unfortunately her worries were much more serious than Sookie being mad at me.
“Hi, you must be that Viking Sookie spent last night with. I`m Amalie, Sookie`s friend.”
I remembered Amalie from the phone conversation in the car yesterday. Her boldness had made me caress Sookie`s thigh and laid the ground for some extraordinary sex. I immediately liked Amalie and I usually didn`t like witches.
“And you must be Sookie`s witchy friend. I`m Erik, Sookie`s lover and future mate.”
She looked surprised, but had more pressing matters to discuss.
“I`m so glad you came because Sookie`s gone. I was supposed to meet her here, but when I came, the door was slightly open and her bath was still lukewarm. Her car is here and I`ve checked the farm and the surroundings. I even asked the neighbors. When I called her cell phone, it was ringing in her purse. Something must have happened to her and I`m worried.”
Vampires don`t get worried, they get even.
“Do you know if someone could have taken her?”
“No, not really. I did see a truck that looked very much like Quinn`s pull out from her road when I came over.”
“Well, he`s a polar bear working for vampires. He`s also someone Sookie dated some a few years ago. It never came to anything, because Sookie didn`t want it to. I guess he never really agreed on her decision. But I can`t imagine why he would abduct her now, several years after they dating. You can`t really hold a grudge that long, can you?”
It would certainly take me more than a couple of years to forget Sookie, but to force her? That sounded strange even for one of the animals among us.
Now was the time to call in old favors. I found Krak, the Danish site that has all addresses and phone numbers, on my phone. When I had retrieved the number I was looking for, I pressed the call-button and waited.
This was taking the bull by the horns, which is what I prefer to do.
“For crying out loud, Quinn. Where are you taking me?” I asked for the umpteenth time. I had my coat and boots on, but I didn`t exactly enjoy sitting in my bathrobe in a car with an unknown destination.
“I`m sorry, Sookie. I had to bring you in since you wouldn`t tell me where that god-damned vamp is hiding out.”
I kept quiet for a while and concentrated on reading Quinn`s mind. It wasn`t easy, but I could make out that he was desperate about his mother because of… I couldn`t read why.
Quinn`s mother was one of the reasons I broke up with him. The other one was his sister. It may sound harsh and unfair, but those two women were causing so much trouble for Quinn that I figured there wasn`t room for one more woman in his life. Apparently I was right because concern for his mother had made him abduct me. I stared at Quinn.
“So how is your mother these days?”
Quinn almost jumped through the roof. He calmed himself down and I could hear him contemplate telling me the whole story, or at least most of it.
“Sookie, I have to tell you that my mother is much of the reason why I`m doing this to you. I hate to say it, because I know you didn`t want to see me anymore because of her. But my mother is held captive by some American vamps and they demand Eric Northman`s head on a platter. You are my only lead and I just can`t let you go. You know I won`t hurt you, babe, but I will keep you with me until you tell me where he is. And as much as I love your company, I hope it will be sooner rather than later, for my mother`s and for your sake.”
He looked at me with almost begging eyes.
Would I give up Erik to save Quinn`s mother and myself? Erik who had almost killed me, Erik who was wanted for murder, Erik who hadn`t really told me anything about the trouble he was in.
Of course not.
I was half way done with my Blood when Rasmus turned up. We were in a roadside café close to the bridge between Lolland and Sealand. Copenhagen being on Sealand and me coming from Sookie`s farm on Lolland, made this place an obvious choice. I had borrowed Sookie`s sorry excuse for a car and made a solemn promise to myself to get a set of decent wheels soon. Preferably something red and fast.
A few truck-drivers were nursing a coffee or eating their dinner. I figured I would be fairly safe here with humans around me. I wanted to trust Rasmus, but one can never be too careful. Luckily Rasmus and the whole Danish vampire court were mainstreaming even more than I had ever been. Rasmus wouldn`t risk the safety of innocent bystanders.
Rasmus` face lit up when he saw me. He seemed genuinely happy and he was a sight for sore eyes. He had been my closest friend for centuries and I hoped we could get back on that level again.
“So what`s up with you? I hear you go around slaughtering both people and vampires?” Rasmus never was one to beat around the bush.
“Yeah, you know me. Give me a sword and heads are rolling left and right.” I laughed hard and so did Rasmus. Humans would probably have been appalled if they had listened in on us, but that is the way vampires bond. Blood and killing have been our trade for centuries. Of course we joke about it.
“No, honestly, I was just trying to live my life and run my club. I`ve never been ambitious and never wanted to be king – you know that. I was happy as a sheriff and I found the queen`s ruling fair and just… or, as fair and just as it is in our world.” Rasmus smiled and I continued.
“When the Nevada-vampires moved into her territory, I never got a chance to defend her and had to pledge alliance to a king I didn`t trust. It worked out fine for some years and then… well, then it didn`t work out so fine anymore. It`s true I killed some FotS and also one of the Nevada-vampires, but then I started to suspect that it was all just a set up to kill the king. Someone wanted me to revenge myself on first the FotS and then King Felipe de Castro. It wouldn`t exactly have been a loss to this world if he had met his final death, and I did run on a blood-thirst that might easily have caused me to kill him, but I never got to him.”
“And now he`s dead and you are blamed for it?” Rasmus asked.
“I might just as well have killed him. I started killing FotS after my child had been murdered and Fangtasia burned down. I can`t say I regret ridding the world of that scum, but after having killed everyone at the local FotS headquarters, I found papers suggesting that the king had paid them to destroy my business and I went on a rampage. I`m just surprised that I only got to kill one vampire on my way.”
“You went on a rampage and only managed to kill one vampire? I`ve never seen you stop before you reached your goal – and we have gone berserk a few times together, you know.” Rasmus smiled at the memories. As I said, this conversation was not fit for human ears.
“I started to suspect foul play. Something about the way the king`s guards were not where they were supposed to be, made me stop almost before I started. I never got to the king, but someone else apparently did and they are blaming me. I`m not sure if it`s all connected, if Fangtasia was burned down and Pam killed to get me in the mood to kill the king, or if the FotS actually planned the attack on me all by themselves. I came to Denmark to give myself some breathing space while figuring out what had happened.” I drank a little more blood.
“I would have contacted you sooner or later, but I wanted to know more before I did. Now I couldn`t postpone it anymore because I really need your help and I hope I can count on getting it.” I didn`t want to ask it as a question, but I wasn`t entirely sure I would get what I needed from Rasmus. It had been so long and I hadn`t exactly kept in touch.
“Erik, you are my friend and you have helped the queen on a number of occasions. You can count on our help. It would have to be confidential, though. The queen can`t be seen helping a vampire accused of killing a king – not in an election year, anyway. But we can help hide you and provide you with the information about what`s happening in Louisiana and Nevada……..”
I held my hand up to indicate that I wanted to say something.
“Thank you, Rasmus, I appreciate it, but the kind of help I wanted to ask of you now, concerns Sookie Stakhus. Someone has taken her…” I never got to say anything else because Rasmus started laughing hard.
“So Sookie was hiding you. She really is good at lying. I actually believed her when she said she didn`t know you. I even told her a few lies about you to scare her into giving you up. Apparently you had already made an impression on her.” He said, wiggling his eyebrows.
“What lies did you tell her?” It was music to my ears to hear that Sookie had lied to protect me. And that she had been successful. Lying to a vampire is no easy task.
” Well, I did exaggerate what you had done, calling you a rogue and stuff. I figured that if I made you into a big, bad vampire, she would forget all about any loyalty to her tenants and give you up. I hope that didn`t cause you any trouble?”
I sighed. “Whatever trouble there might be between me and Sookie right now, is all my own doing.”
Rasmus looked surprised. “You really like this one? Is she yours? I understand that she has turned all other vampires down.”
“Oh, yes. She`s mine.” I said flashing just a little fang to make a statement. I didn`t want there to be any doubt. I looked Rasmus straight in the eyes. He nodded.
“OK, you said someone had taken her. Do you know who and why?”
“I have no idea why, unless it`s connected to me. Sookie`s friend said she saw a car belonging to a were named Quinn just before her abduction. Do you know him?” I looked at Rasmus.
“Oh no, not that stupid polar bear.” Rasmus shook his head. “He`s actually a party fixer, of sorts, and we`ve used him a couple of times. But he has a troubled family and can`t really be trusted because of that. It`s been some time since we`ve used his services and rumors had it that he worked for vampires from other countries. He might very well be working for the ones looking for you. In that case, Sookie could be in danger. Let me make some calls and get you all the information we have on him.”
“I would appreciate that very much.” I was relieved.
“Of course, we can`t help you go after him. If we have proof that he is guilty in abduction, we could turn him over to the authorities for you, but for now, you are on your own.”
When Rasmus got off the phone, there was just one thing I needed to know.
“How did you know I was at Sookie`s place?”
Rasmus looked at me. “We got an official request from your government. They asked us to retrieve you and told us where you might be.”
“Who had signed that request?”
“It was someone called Victor Madden? Do you know him?” Rasmus asked.
I knew Victor Madden.