My head was still spinning from the touch of the Norns` hands. I could feel their voices going through my head, whispering “are you a telepath? Are you a telepath? Tell us the truth!”.
I stood next to Quinn who looked focused on something. Vladimir turned his head back to me, smiled and winked. I looked the other way. What I wanted to do was to stick my tongue out at him, but I was not seven years old anymore. Unfortunately.
Soon everyone`s attention was on the Norns and Erik.
“Who is accusing this vampire?” The Norns asked.
“I am.” Victor Madden stepped forward again.
“Eric Northman has killed his own king. He killed Felipe de Castro in a rage after the death of his child.” He shouted.
“What do you base those accusations on?” The three Norns asked in one voice.
“My two associates, Sandy Sechrest and Bill Compton are now going to present sworn statements from both vampires and humans who saw Erik Northman`s wild rampage at King de Castro`s castle. Eric Northman was seen killing a guard to get in to the castle.”
The Civil War vampire and the female vampire with glasses, came up to stand close to the Norns. It looked a bit strange because one would think they would stand behind their king when they were going to support his accusations.
That`s when I saw it, a very tiny smile on Erik`s lips. I could also see him hold his sword a little bit tighter.
“I have here a sworn statement from Felipe de Castro`s personal secretary..” the woman who was introduced as Sandy Sechrest started. “It says that the murderer of Felipe de Castro was….” She looked down at the paper as if to read out loud what it said. Victor Madden smiled expectantly until she yelled.
“The murderer was Victor Madden!”
Fifty naked girls running through the crowd couldn`t have stirred a bigger commotion. People and vampires were yelling, threats were being shouted out and in all of the commotion, one could hear Victor Madden`s loud “NOOOO”.
The Norns raised their hands and the crowd went silent again. I imagined what they could have achieved in my old class in high school. Getting people to be quiet was so much less of a problem for the Norns than for my poor teachers.
“Explain!” They said to Sandy Sechrest.
She cleared her throat. It was obvious that she was not used to taking the center stage.
“It seems that Eric Northman did indeed go on a killing spree and he might also have intended to kill the king. But he stopped before he got that far because he realized that he was set up. According to the information I managed to gather, with help from Bill Compton.” The dark-haired vampire nodded. “Victor Madden was the one who set up Eric Northman with the sole purpose of getting rid of both him and King de Castro.”
There was a slight mumbling among the spectators, but they went silent again with just a look from the Norns.
“I glamored Victor Madden`s day man.” There was a gasp from a young man and Victor Madden stared at him. “He revealed that Victor Madden had been highly frustrated because Eric Northman hadn`t made the final kill. It seems Victor Madden took care of it himself.”
Everyone stared at Victor Madden as the air was filled with anticipation. Fangs came down and swords were held a little tighter.
“You traitor!” Victor Madden shouted and jumped towards Sandy Sechrest with his sword drawn. She was taken by surprise, but a tall, blond Viking vampire wasn`t. In a jump Erik was between Sandy Sechrest and Victor Madden, sword drawn.
“I`ll kill the both of you!” Victor Madden yelled. “I`ll kill all three of you!” He nodded at Bill Compton.
“Good luck, Victor. You know I`m a much better fighter than you so if you hold your undead life dear, you might as well lay down your sword. But nothing would please me more than if you wish to meet you final death by my sword.” Eric said with a very calm voice. He even smiled – with fangs.
Victor Madden looked around with desperation in his eyes. Then they fell on me and he smiled.
“Get the fucking bitch!” He yelled to someone close to me. I couldn`t see who, but I saw Vladimir turn around and move closer to me.
“Oh shit!” I mumbled and moved away from Vladimir only to crash into Quinn. That was when I heard his voice.
“I`m sorry, Sookie. Victor Madden still has my mother.” He whispered in my ear and I felt something cold and sharp against my throat and Quinn`s hand around my waist.
Everything was going according to the plans Sandy, Bill and I had made over the phone. Victor had suspected absolutely nothing and had been cocky enough to walk right into our trap.
I was just about to engage in a sword fight I knew I would win when Victor Madden pulled out an ace from his sleeve. Quinn was still under his control and he had his sword on Sookie`s throat.
I gasped and Victor Madden almost succeeded in slicing me in two because I worried about Sookie. Luckily my body has been in an endless number of swordfights and can react even if my brain is elsewhere.
I kicked Victor Madden`s arm and his sword fell to the ground when he yelled to Quinn.
“Kill the bitch. Kill her now!”
Before I even had time to be afraid for my life I felt the knife be taken away from my neck and someone was pulling at my arm with extraordinary force. I looked around and saw Vladimir getting me away from Quinn.
Unfortunately we were standing right on the edge of the deep canyon Icelandic men enjoyed jumping over, according to Erik. I could definitely not jump that canyon and stood behind Vladimir, watching Quinn come closer with a sword held high.
Vladimir was in fighting pose, holding me with one hand around my waist to protect me from falling down in the canyon. I instantly regretted all my suspicions towards Vladimir. I even forgave him for spying against Queen Thyra. Without him I would have been one dead Sookie.
It seemed I could still be a dead Sookie because Quinn came at us with his sword and suddenly I had the terrible feeling in my stomach you get when you are falling down. Fast.
Falling down the canyon, I still had Vladimir`s arm and hand on me. Unfortunately that was the only part of Vladimir I had. The arm had been chopped off by the shoulder.
I screamed a scream actresses in splatter movies would be envious of.
Sookie`s scream chilled my blood even more than the normal temperature of vampire blood. It had all happened so fast. Quinn had held Sookie, Vladimir, of all vampires, had freed her only to lose his arm by Quinn`s sword. And now Sookie was going downwards in the canyon.
Victor Madden laughed, but the laughter ended quickly when my sword separated his head from his body on my way to Sookie. It was an easy kill. I had looked forward to a good long fight and instead I just chopped off his head in a swift motion on my way to more important business.
Victor Madden never had a chance. His sword was still on the ground, his attention towards Quinn and Sookie. It is said that men can`t multitask, but that does not apply to Vikings. I could kill Victor Madden and still save Sookie.
In vampire speed I was airborne and by the canyon. Sookie was almost at the bottom of when I had her by her shoulders. She was still screaming when I pulled her upwards and she was still screaming when we landed on the ground.
She was in panic. I enveloped her with my body, pushing all I had of calm into her. She buried her head in my chest and cried silently. I stroked my hand over her head.
I cupped her face and looked her deep in the eyes.
“Sookie, it`s over now. I have you. Victor Madden is dead and so is Quinn.”
“Quinn is dead?” She said looking towards where she had seen him last.
“Don`t look at his body, Sookie. It`s nothing for you to see. Vladimir had you in one arm and his sword in the other. Quinn apparently cut off the wrong arm because Vladimir used his sword to kill Quinn.”
“Vladimir protected me. I thought he was a spy. I was so wrong about Vladimir.” Sookie said shaking her head.
“Oh, Vladimir is still a spy. Only not for Victor Madden. Vladimir holds you very highly, Sookie. He was faster than both Rasmus and the rest of Queen Thyra`s court in his efforts to save you. I am going to speak to Rasmus about that.”
“What about Vladimir`s arm?” Her voice quivered.
“It`ll grow out again. Don’t worry, Sooke.” I bent down and gave her a kiss, then flew us back to where the Norns, Sandy and Bill were standing.
The trial wasn`t over even if Victor Madden was dead.
It had all happened too fast for me to understand so I pushed it away. The night wasn`t over and I couldn`t think about my close brush with death when Erik was still in danger.
Everyone stared at the Norns when they opened their mouths to speak again.
“It seems we have had proof of Eric Northman`s innocence and Victor Madden`s guilt and we sentence Victor Madden to death. As it happens, the sentence has already been implemented and we can move on.”
They looked at me and started speaking again.
“It seems we still have the business of the brother of the telepath.”
Sandy Sechrest made a signal to be allowed to speak.
“As soon as I learned about his disappearance, I started looking for him. It seems he was invited on a free trip to Las Vegas by a voluptuous brunette in Victor Madden`s service. He is losing Victor Madden`s money at the roulette-tables as we speak.” She couldn`t help smiling a narrow smile. I wanted to run over and give her a hug, but I settled for giving Erik`s hand a squeeze.
The Norns spoke again.
“You have proved yourself very efficient, Ms. Sechrest.” Sandy Sechrest blushed.
The Norns looked satisfied and everyone felt the trial was at its end when Bill Compton coughed slightly.
“Yes, Mr. Compton. Do you have anything to add?”
“Forgive me, but there is still the business of three kingdoms without a king.” Bill Compton said.
“I have a letter from all the sheriffs in Louisiana and most sheriffs in Nevada and Arkansas where they pledge their allegiance to Eric Northman and denounce Victor Madden.” Bill Compton said in a deep voice and with what sounded like a Southern drawl to my inexperienced ears. I didn`t know American accents apart from what I have heard in movies and on television – and most of the actors playing Southern are British or Australian anyway.
The Norns looked at him.
“Mr. Compton, you know very well that we can only judge on crimes done by vampires against vampires. We cannot award kingdoms to anyone.”
“Forgive me, I know this. But your word carries weight and if you were to say that Eric Northman is the rightful heir to the throne, no one would question you.” Bill Compton said with forced strength in his voice. He seemed uncomfortable.
“It does seem that Eric Northman would be a worthy king anywhere and definitely in the country he has chosen as his.” The Norns said, all three of them making a gesture in Eric`s direction.
I could feel ambition and joy, but also hesitation through the bond. He let go of me to speak.
I had tears in my eyes. I didn`t lose Erik in the fight, but now I was losing him to his new kingdom. He would go home to his own country and he would most certainly forget the boring little bar owner from Denmark that he had had a short fling with.
I swallowed heavily when Erik started speaking.
“It is a great honor to be pointed out as a potential king to three rich and powerful states.” He started and my heart fell down in my stomach.
“But I can`t accept that great honor.” WHAT??? Erik said no to becoming a king?
Apparently my reaction was the same everyone else had. Even the Norns looked taken aback.
“I have never had any ambitions of becoming a king. I have come home to the country that I once again define as my own and I want to stay there. I have pledged allegiance to my Queen and I want to stay with my bonded, my lover….” He said and pulled me into him again. “… my love.”
Did he just call me `my love`? I looked up into his face and saw him smile to me and he deliberately sent me love through the bond. Who was this vampire and what had he done with Erik?
“And I also like the Scandinavian climate much better than the humidity in Louisiana. I missed the snow.” He said with a laugh.
Ok, Erik was back.
I had not expected Bill to have contacted all the sheriffs and I couldn`t help being tempted by the honor. But I was truthful when I said I had never had any ambitions to become a king.
The other part, the part where I apparently declared my love to Sookie, that was something new. Did I really love her?
I would have to think more about it later.
“But I would like to make a suggestion as to who should take over.” I said.
“It seems both Sandy Sechrest and Bill Compton have proved their worth and it is not healthy for more states to have the same king, I think. I would suggest that Ms. Sechrest is made queen of Nevada and Mr. Compton is made king of Louisiana. As to Arkansas…” I made a little pause.
“It seems that Vladimir has ambitions and would want to run his own kingdom. He has done me a valuable service by saving my bonded. I suggest he has a try at Arkansas.” She smiled.
Oh, I was a devious one. I managed to pay Vladimir for sacrificing his arm to save Sookie and to get him out of my hair at the same time. I also saved Queen Thyra from the ungrateful task it would be to punish Vladimr for his spying right after his tremendous self-sacrifice. I was pleased with myself, but I wanted to put icing on the cake.
“To make sure Vladimir won`t feel alone Arkansas, I suggest that he is allowed to take his entourage with him.” I said with a smile, knowing that I personally would make sure that Queen Thyra`s competition would be in that entourage.
The Norns seemed to agree that everything was settled for the best and so did the American contingent at the trial. Victor had apparently ruled by fear only and that will only get you so far. No one misses a leader they have been afraid of.
Erik looked very pleased with himself and I was pleased with him being alive, me being alive and him staying in Denmark. Actually `pleased` was a too mild a word. I was overjoyed, thrilled and in ecstasy.
I couldn`t help lean into him and whisper “Erik”. I was worn out by all the excitement. Luckily the trial was declared over.
Eric went over to Bill Compton and Sandy Sechrest holding my hand. They nodded and smiled.
“So you said no to a kingdom for a human. That`s a first.” Bill Compton said. I was a little offended. I thought these Southern gentlemen were supposed to be all about manners and politeness. Apparently not when they grew fangs.
“Sookie is not `a human`, Bill. She is… Well, all I can say is that if you ever were to meet her like, refursing a kingdom is going to seem like a small price. But knowing you, you would probably lose her before you realized what you had.” Erik smiled. There was obviously something between Erik and this Bill that I didn`t know about.
Erik found out, a little belatedly, that he had forgotten the formal introduction.
“Sookie, this is Sandy Sechrest of Nevada and Bill Compton of Louisiana. Bill is the maker of the database you use…” He started to say when Bill interrupted. Bill was really ruining my thoughts about Southern charm and hospitality.
“She is using MY database?! She is human!”
“Yes, Bill. Sookie is indeed a human, but she was granted access to the database to help her in her extensive work for vampires. And she is probably not the only one. So get down from your high horse. And while you`re climbing down, maybe you can explain how it is that Victor Madden knew where I was solely because of Sookie`s search after me on the database?” Eric asked.
Bill looked down. “Victor took over the server.” He whispered. “There was nothing I could do.”
“Well, you could have warned me.” Erik shouted. “That might have saved Sookie from being beaten up, kidnapped and her brother from being abducted.”
Bill looked away. He didn`t exactly look like a future king.
Now I had no more strength, but before I could find a place to sit down, Eric had me in the air and soon I was sitting in the front seat of the car.
Sookie was fast asleep and that gave me time to think. It wasn`t the fight or even Sookie`s near death I was thinking about. My thoughts circled the fact that I had called her `my love` in front of everyone.
I had never loved anyone. Well, I had loved my parents and my children when I was human, of course, but that was another kind of love.
I almost wished Sookie would wake up because all of these thoughts were making me queasy. I`m a fighter, not a philosopher. As if she felt me wanting her awake, she opened her eyes.
“Where are we?” She asked.
We were in the middle of nowhere, with no streetlights and only the stars and moon to light up the countryside. She looked out.
“It`s beautiful here.” She whispered.
“Yes, it is.” What else could I say? The landscapes made from lava made everything look like another world. And in the moonlight, one would almost expect a star-ship to land. No wonder the Americans had their basic training for the moonlanding on Iceland back in the Sixties.
We arrived at where I was taking Sookie. The sign said “The Blue Lagoon” and Sookie apparently knew what that was.
“We`re going to The Blue Lagoon?” She asked with joy in her voice. I couldn`t help smiling. I was so pleased I had arranged this in advance. The Blue Lagoon was closed for the night, but I had made them open up just for us. Some Icelandic kroners and my appealing to the romantic side of the owner had made it happen.
“I have always wanted to go to The Blue Lagoon.” Sookie said looking at me.
“And I have always wanted to go to The Blue Lagoon with my wife.” That was a mild exaggeration because I had never wanted a wife before I met Sookie.
I took Sookie out of the car and flew her over the wall.
“Aren`t we going to use the locker rooms and change?” She asked.
“Change into what?” I asked waggling my eyebrows. “We are going to enjoy The Blue Lagoon without any contraptions covering us. I have never understood the need for bathing suits.”
“But what will everyone else think?” Sookie blushed just a little. We landed and she could see that there wasn`t anyone else. A little “oh” escaped her lips.
A lot of candles were lit and two bathrobes were laid out for us. There was also some fruit and champagne for Sookie and some Blood for me.
I was so excited. The Blue Lagoon with all the candles looked out of this world. The air was cold, but I knew the water would be hot. The Blue Lagoon was heated by the volcanic power just under the surface of Iceland.
I was nibbling on some of the fruit when I felt Erik pulling on my clothes. I just couldn`t imagine getting undressed in this cold and I told Erik. Before I knew what had happened I was naked and in the hot water, still with a grape between my fingers. I laughed. Vampire speed was very handy.
Soon Erik was naked too. He wasn`t as busy to get in the water. He stretched his body a little on the shore, giving me ample opportunity to enjoy his magnificent body. Cold weather certainly didn`t have the same effect on Erik as it had on most men. He was definitely looking forward to something.
Well, so was I.
“Erik, am I supposed to make love to you only with my eyes, or what?” I laughed at him urging him to get in with me.
Erik didn`t need to be asked twice and with a big splash he was out in the water with me. I splashed water at him with my hands. Big mistake. Let`s just put it this way: you can never win a water fight with a vampire.
I changed my tactics and went in close to get a kiss. Just as I was licking his lips, I let my leg pull his, while pushing on his chest. To my joy, I actually made him go under. Of course, I could never be sure if he just let me win this little battle to please me. But I still laughed so much I had tears running down my cheeks.
After a while I noticed that he wasn`t coming up from under the water. I looked everywhere for him, but the water at The Blue Lagoon is filled with all sorts of minerals which makes it impossible to see anything under-water.
Then I felt his hands on my thighs and his head between them. I know vampires don`t breathe, but it was still a strange feeling to have someone lick you under-water. Strange, but definitely something I could get used to.
I laid back in the water and looked up at the stars. With the way Erik was going under water, I knew I would soon see my own stars. He licked and sucked and if it wasn`t for his steady hand on my thigh and the other one at the small of my back, I would probably have drowned without noticing.
I had been pushed over the edge of a canyon earlier today. This was another kind of canyon I was standing on the edge of. It was the canyon of pure pleasure. I made little waves in the water when I came and on Erik`s way up from beneath the water, I pulled my legs around his waist and myself onto his body.
I kissed him with all the emotions that had been in my body this night. I kissed away all the fear, all the anxiety, all the insecurity and I kissed him remembering that he had called me `my love`.
Erik made his way over to some sort of sunbeds, only they were under-water, just allowing the head to be above. I hung onto him.
He laid me back on one of the beds and himself on top of me.
I looked down into Sookie`s eyes when I situated myself at her entrance. She was so beautiful in the moonlight. She moved her hips, allowing me entrance. I met her movement and in one thrust I was deep inside her. We both moaned, our sounds coming out with small clouds from the cold.
It was warm and tender. We kissed and deep emotions were going back and forth in the bond. This was not just sexual and it felt like it wasn`t just our bodies that made love.
I felt Sookie getting close and bent down to her neck. I licked and nibbled a little before I bit down. That made us both come, this time without the loud screams and growls, but with the bond carrying silent growls back and forth.
I even felt a small tear of blood going down my cheek and when I had licked the wound on Sookie`s neck I could see that she had shed a few tears herself.
I turned us around and pulled her onto my chest.
I looked at the stars for guidance because I wanted to tell her something important.
I could feel insecurities running through the bond. Erik – insecure?
Then he cleared his throat. “Sookie, I want to tell you something I have never told anyone before.” He stopped a little. “Well, I have never told anyone this before without lying and as you know, I don`t lie to you.”
I lifted my head to look at him. He pulled me closer.
“Sookie, I love you!”
I was almost knocked over by all the love that came through the bond.
“Oh, Erik. I love you too!” I started to cry.
“Then why are you crying?” He asked with a smile.
“Tears of joy, sweetheart. Tears of joy.”
We kissed passionately. Then we looked up at the stars. Who would have thought that I would proclaim my love to a man, a vampire, a Viking? I knew that I would be with Erik until I died – and perhaps after.