We obviously came to the room where the party was, because I could hear music coming out to us. I turned to Rasmus.
“I need a few words with my bonded. We`ll meet you inside.” Rasmus opened the doors and music from a string quartet filled the air. The doors closed after Rasmus.
“Sookie, I need you to have this.” I gave her the ceremonial knife. “When the Queen asks you to, I want you to present it to me. It`s part of the bonding ceremony.” Sookie nodded and I gave her a kiss on the cheek. I could feel that she was a little nervous, so I whispered in her ear.
I opened the doors and we entered a huge ballroom. Queen Thyra sat on her throne looking out over the crowd. She nodded to us and bent over to talk to Vladimir who was at her side.
Sookie held her breath and I could feel through the bond that she wasn`t comfortable. I put my hand at the small of her back to make her relax, but before I could ask her for a dance, Vladimir came over to us, smiling his ugly smile. OK, I`m biased. I don`t like the guy.
“Sookie, Erik. So nice to see you here.” He only looked at Sookie.
“Erik, the Queen needs to see you.” I started to guide Sookie in the direction of the Queen, when Vladimir stopped us. “No, she only wanted to see you. I can keep Sookie company until you`re back.” Now I officially hated Vladimir. I tried to kill him with my eyes. Unfortunately they are not lethal.
I didn`t feel entirely comfortable with Vladimir and I certainly had no desire to small-talk with him. Especially not when he started questioning me about Erik and his background.
“You have to ask Erik those questions, Vladimir, ” I cut him off.
“Of course. I need to know so that we can build a good defense for the queen.” He nodded.
“Yes, the queen is taking an awfully big chance helping out a mur….” He stopped when he saw the look in my face. “Well, Erik is wanted.” He ended up saying.
When I didn`t respond, he changed subjects.
“So you ended up with a vampire after all, Sookie. I would never have thought it.” He smiled, but it was not a nice smile.
“Had I only know back then…” His hand went for my hand, but a big Viking beat him to it.
“Had you only known back then, what?” Erik had steel in his voice. His hand was wrapped around my waist. You didn`t need to be an expert in body language to read what he was saying. It could be summed up in one word: MINE!
There was contempt in Vladimir`s face for just a nanosecond and then his smile was on his lips again.
“You can`t blame a vampire from dreaming, Erik!”
“Oh yes, I can. She is MY bonded and only I can dream of her.”
Vladimir apparently knew a lost battle when he saw it, made some lame excuses and left me with one over-possessive vampire. I would have to talk to him about that. Like when it got really cold in Hell and pigs grew wings. I sighed.
I heard Sookie`s sigh and figured a kiss would divert her attention from the sleazebag of a vampire. There should have been a law against turning someone like him. I let my tongue play with her lips, but she apparently didn`t want my deepest kiss. Not here, anyway.
Then everyone went silent and I looked at Queen Thyra who was now standing up. I knew what was coming and looked at Sookie with anticipation. She was still holding on to the ceremonial knife.
Queen Thyra`s voice boomed over the ball-room. “I would like to welcome you all to this celebration of our beloved Erik and his sweet Sookie`s bonding.”
I heard a gasp from Sookie. I held her free hand tight.
“Erik and Sookie, please come closer to me.” Queen Thyra waved her hand at us and I led Sookie to the throne.
“Sookie, in your hand you hold the next step in the bonding ceremony.” Queen Thyra smiled to Sookie and Sookie took the ceremonial knife in both hands and gave it to me with a little nod of her head. I took it and smiled to my bonded. She looked so sweet.
There was a silence for a few minutes and then Queen Thyra said with her most authoritative voice.
“I now declare you bonded husband and wife.” Sookie couldn`t have looked more confused if she had tried.
“Excuse me?” I could hear Sookie say, but it drowned in all the cheering and applauds from everyone gathered. She looked at the crowd and I could hear her heart race.
“Erik, you may put your ring on your bonded`s finger to symbolize the bond you have entered together.”
Sookie was a turmoil of emotions and I did my best to send her some calm without being too obvious. I took out the box with the ring and opened the box so she could see the ring. Then all of her emotions were gathered into just one. I got a big mental “No” and then I got a verbal one too. It was very loud and clear.
Sookie was saying no to me?
This was too much, too fast. I had developed strong emotions towards Erik and I didn`t want to reject him. I certainly didn`t want to do that. But I usually took little mouse steps when things got serious – not a gigantic leap like this. I stomached it all because I like Erik and it felt right to do this, even if it didn`t feel right to do it so fast.
But then he presented me with the ring. It was a beautiful ring in white gold, I assumed it was white gold because it looked just like silver and I knew Erik wouldn`t give me that. I don`t know the first thing about jewelry, but I do have a sense of logic.
The ring had a huge sapphire, or I assumed it was a sapphire, that matched the dress. It was light blue, very beautiful and even I knew that it must have been extremely expensive.
I couldn`t take this. I know that some girls wanted as expensive a ring as possible, but I was definitely not `some girls` in that department.
“Erik, I`m sorry. I can`t take that ring.” I whispered, trying not to hear the gasp going through the room.
“Why not?” Erik`s jaw looked very stiff. I could feel that he was hurt.
“Erik, I`m not rejecting you, sweetheart. It`s just this ring….” Relief flowed from him to me. He smiled tentatively.
“What`s wrong with the ring? It`s a great color with your blue eyes.”
“I know. It is a beautiful ring, but I cannot accept something that expensive. It`s just too much. What if I get mugged or it`s stolen from me?” I pleaded.
“Anyone mugging my bonded must have a deathwish.” Erik grabbed my hand. “Don`t worry, Lover.”
“But what if I lose it? I can`t wear a ring like that. I`m sorry. It is truly a fantastic ring and I can see how it`s color would fit me, but I can`t accept it. I will be your bonded, but I can`t…” My voice broke.
Then I heard well-known laughter. Deep and rumbling. It was apparently contagious because soon the queen also laughed and then the whole room.
I was looking for a hole to crawl into.
When the laughter had died down a little, Queen Thyra looked at me with a stern face.
“So the price of the ring is your only objection to this bond, Sookie?” She asked.
“Mmm, yes. I am so sorry and I hope I`m not causing any problems.” I felt tears forming in my eyes. I really didn`t want to cry now so I bit my lip. As if biting lips would stop anyone from having tears roll down her face.
I felt like a teenager when I thought Sookie was rejecting me. Rejecting ME! But then it turned out to be the cutest rejection I had ever heard. She was rejecting the ring because it was too expensive. I had to smile. It was just too sweet.
“Don`t worry, my bonded. We can go out tomorrow and buy a ring just as cheap as you`d like. Well, perhaps not as cheap as you`d like. You are my bonded and I don`t want people to think I`m not giving you the best. But we can go down a price range or two. We`ll find something we can both agree on.”
I gave her a deep kiss and people applauded again. I got mixed feelings over the bond. Joy, confusion, embarrassment, lust. The last one made me pleased I had healed Sookie. I was planning on a night she would never forget. Hell, I was planning on a night I would never forget.
The quartet played a beautiful waltz and I grabbed Sookie`s hand and led her to the dance floor. It didn`t bother me that we would be the only ones dancing. I was a great dancer, why not show it off?
“I can`t dance, Erik. Not like this, anyway. I grew up in the Eighties and Nineties where everyone danced alone on the dancefloor and I never learned how to waltz.” She blushed a little.
“No, problem. Just relax and let me lead you. The waltz is the one place where you`ll have to give up your independence and leave all control to me.” I couldn`t help a smirk. Sookie huffed, but smiled a little too.
“OK, in the waltz I`ll leave all decisions to you, but nowhere else.” She stuck the tip of her tongue out at me and made me laugh. With vampire speed, I had her tongue between my lips and let my tongue play with it.
We were just about to take the first waltzing steps when the doors opened and two serious looking men came in. They bowed to the queen, not looking like bearers of good news.
“Your Majesty, we are representatives from the American embassy. We are in charge of vampire and were affairs and we bring you a protest from the vampire king of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas. He claims you are giving shelter to the murderer of the former king of those three states.” It was dead quiet in the room. You could have heard a fang drop.
“The king of Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas demands that you turn over this murderer immediately as he has already requested.”
The two representatives from the American embassy had thoughts going all over the place. They were definitely not comfortable doing this as they had never delivered a demand to a queen before.
Then I suddenly heard one of them think `Jason Stakhus` and I stiffened. I probed into his brain.
`How do we bring in the name Jason Stakhus into the conversation? I don`t even know who this Jason Stakhus is, but we were told to mention him and it would give us leverage in the negotiations, but how can we bring him into this?`
Erik looked at me. He could probably feel my fear through the bond. He pulled me to the corner of the room, far from everyone else.
“What`s wrong, Lover?” He whispered.
“I think they might have my brother.” I answered with a big lump in my throat. I worked hard at keeping my tears back. There was murderous anger flowing through the bond and I looked up in his face. I wouldn`t need any bond to know that this was one mad vampire. Somehow that comforted me.
“This charade needs to end here and now.” Erik went back to the queen and the American representatives, with me in tow.
“I am the vampire you are looking for.” He said.
I was shocked. Was he giving himself up to save my brother?
“And I am wondering why you have abducted the brother of my bonded. Why have you abducted Jason Stakhus?”
The two American representatives looked shocked and even 10 years of diplomacy school couldn`t hide it. The name Jason Stakhus triggered something that convinced me that they had indeed taken Sookie`s brother.
I would never have known about the abduction if Sookie hadn`t been able to read it from their brains. My new bonded was not only sweet, fun, sexy and lovely in every way, she was also going to be very useful to me. I looked at her and she nodded back. Apparently the thoughts of these two men of diplomacy had, confirmed Sookie`s suspicion.
I turned around and looked at the queen. I could almost hear all the wheels turn in her brain and she didn`t miss a beat when she stood up and said in her firm tone of voice:
“Victor Madden, who has so wrongly accused one of my citizens of the murder on his king, has apparently abducted the brother of a woman who is protected by me. This makes his abduction my business. Furthermore, he has abducted the mother of another person protected by me, the mother of the were polar bear John Quinn. Last, but certainly not least, he has placed a human spy at my court.”
Queen Thyra stood up in all her might – and her might is quite a lot when she wants to. She could intimidate anybody and the two embassy-people were definitely blinking a few extra times. I could also hear them swallow heavily.
Sookie looked very focused on reading their minds, but her emotions didn`t reveal anything apart from some anger and anxiousness, which could be explained by her brother`s abduction.
“I demand a trial. According to international vampire law, a trial shall be held if a royal accuses another royal. I want a trial held by the Norns on Iceland in no less than two days.” Queen Thyra`s voice boomed.
The representatives were sweating. This was not what they had expected and it was obvious that they knew someone wouldn`t be pleased with the development. One of them cleared his throat.
“Two days is way too fast.” He said.
“It`s my right to call for a speedy trial.” The queen stared at the representative.
“But, eeeeh, not on Iceland. Victor Madden does not have the same persuasion as Your Majesty. The Norns, or Fates as we call them, are not part of his beliefs. Furthermore, Iceland was part of Denmark up until recently and would not be an impartial place to meet.”
Queen Thyra laughed and it was not a small girlish giggle.
“Iceland won her independence during World War II and the Norns are accepted judges among vampires of any belief. Furthermore, Iceland is where the tectonic plate Denmark is on meets the tectonic plate USA is on. It only seems fair that we meet there, where our two worlds meet – or collide if you will.”
She looked at them before she continued.
“You are of course aware of the fact that the Norns can judge in absentia?” She asked.
The representative, who had spoken, paled, but seemed determined.
“We came here for Eric Northman. All of this is just smoke and mirrors. We will accept your demand for a trial on one condition: Eric Northman is to be tried too. For the murder of Felipe de Castro.”
There was a gasp from the audience, but Queen Thyra just laughed. So did I. A trial would not be a problem as long as it was fair. The Norns had never been unfair.
“Erik Northman will join me on Iceland if you can guarantee Victor Madden`s presence.”
I did not like this. Erik was going to Iceland and he would be on trial.
I had to search my memory for information on what the Norns were. I just remembered they were three ladies in Åsabelief – the belief in the Viking gods like Odin and Thor. The three ladies represented the past, the present and the future and they were twining the life threads of every man and woman.
Had the Norns really existed? And were they still alive? I know I shouldn`t be surprised. After all vampires, werewolves and witches were not only in the fairytales, but the Norns? Did this mean that Odin, Thor and Freja were also real? It felt like my eyes would pop out of my head from pure excitement.
The two men from the American embassy left the room and one could suddenly feel how quiet everyone had been. Vampires can be very quiet. They can stand still and they don`t breathe. But when the men had gone, a lot of nervous small talk started as a contrast to the stillness minutes ago.
Erik looked at me and wondered if I was hungry. He must have heard the low rumbling from my stomach. It`s so easy to forget nutrition when you are in the company of creatures that don`t eat. Well, food at least.
Erik nodded to the nearest servant and ordered some food to our room. He said his goodbyes to the queen and Rasmus and turned around to leave with his hand around my waist.
My brain was one big center of emotions. I was worried about Jason. I was even more worried about Erik. I was confused over everything I had heard tonight and it seemed like my thoughts were dogs at a race and the little rabbit was going way too fast round and round the track.
My hand flew to my forehead to stop the thoughts which made Eric hold me closer while kissing my hair.
When we came to the room, he stood before me, cupping my face with his large hands.
“I want to carry you over the threshold, Sookie. I assume this is still what husbands do to their wives when they are married?”
I nodded and soon I was in Erik`s arms and he carried me to the room. He kissed me all the way.
This did not help with the amount of emotions I was having. I really cared for Erik, but I was insecure about everything too.
“Sookie, now is a time where you can benefit from the bond. I can feel your distress and confusion and if you let me, I can send you calm. It will make you feel better.” He looked me deep in the eyes.
“But I`m not really comfortable with you controlling my emotions.” I wanted him to understand without feeling rejected. “It`s not…..” But I had no words to describe how I felt.
“Shh, Sookie. Please let me. If you get uncomfortable, just tell me and I`ll stop immediately.”
I nodded slightly and with the growing smile on his face, I felt all the anxiety leave my body and be replaced by joy and calm. I didn`t feel uncomfortable. It was nice to let go of the worrying.
With my arms behind his neck, I pulled him down for a kiss. A passionate kiss. I could feel his hand on the zipper of my dress and pulled back.
“No, Erik. I want to be in charge now.”
I bent down on my knees in front of him.
“I am not being submissive when I am on my knees for you, Erik. I am in control.” I looked up the full length of his body and saw him nod. I also saw his eyes glitter with anticipation.
I unbuttoned and unzipped his pants and let my hands move to his glorious behind, while pulling his pants to the floor, accompanied by his boxers. Erik took of his jacket, bowtie and shirt.
The Gracious Plenty seemed to want to live up to its name because it was indeed a glorious plenty I had right in front of my eyes. I let one hand stay on Erik`s butt and let the other one grab at the root of his throbbing member.
With a deep moan from Erik, I took Gracious Plenty, or GP between friends, in my mouth, sucking and licking it. Then I started moving my head back and forth in a rhythm accompanied by my hand. I used my tongue on the tip and got some very rewarding sounds from Erik.
Apparently he got very excited because he soon had his hands in my hair and was moving his hips in counter-rhythm with my head. I would have none of that. If I`m in charge, I`m in charge, so I gave him a little slap with the hand I had resting on his butt.
Erik apparently needed two slaps to get the message, but me slapping him also brought him closer to the edge. I enhanced my rhythm and was rewarded with some guttural sounds from Erik and him releasing in my mouth. He took a step back so as to gather his balance and came down on his knees to me.
“You can be in charge anytime you want, Sookie.” He whispered and started kissing me.
Then there was a knock on the door.