I sat on Eric’s bed waiting for him to wake up. He looked peaceful while he slept, his hair falling softly over his shoulders. He was sleeping on his belly, naked. It had surprised me that he almost always assumed a comfortable position before dying for the day. He preferred sleeping on his stomach and I preferred a fetal position, which worked for us when I fell asleep with him. I always found him wrapped around me: arms, legs, face buried in my hair, hand on my breast.
I smiled as he stirred. Today was the day we would meet with Mr. Cataliades, so I was both nervous and excited. I was excited because the demon lawyer should be able to help me, nervous because I wasn’t sure if he would. His job would be at stake. The situation wasn’t ideal but it was the last resort. Eric hesitated to tell me what would be the next step if Mr. Cataliades couldn’t or wouldn’t help. He was hoping there was no need to think of Plan B – or C or D by now, one would think.
Eric greeted me with a sleepy smile of his own, reaching for my hips and dragging his body to put his head on my thigh. I caressed his hair. It wasn’t yet time for him to wake up. The sun was still out, technically, but it was a dark, gloomy, rainy day, so he could cheat and wake up early. In another hour or so he would be fully awake. For now I enjoyed his sleepy expression of contentment, and the odd yawn which I seldom got to see.
“You’re wearing too many clothes,” he mumbled, his speech slurred.
“That’s because I know better than to take advantage of you while you’re still half asleep,” I said, kissing my fingers then transferring my kiss to his cheek.
“Lover, please take advantage of me,” he begged and stretched, turning to show me his whole naked front. He was quite ready for me. He ran a hand over his length, his face turning to surprise at feeling how hard he was, then he turned to me with a smug smile. “Come here, lover,” he purred.
“I’m too nervous,” I said, but I was already half convinced to take off my clothes at least.
“Take off your clothes. I have a remedy for your nerves. Make love with me and I will get you nice and relaxed,” he said and groaned, still running his hand over himself, and giving me a sleepy but hungry look.
Thinking he had made a valid enough argument, I stripped quickly and lay beside him. He had watched me through half-lidded eyes, taking it all in. When I joined him in bed he rolled on top of me, kissing me softly while settling between my legs. Maybe having sex with half-asleep Eric wasn’t going to be so bad… not bad at all. Good, actually. Very, very good.
Eric loved monkey, primal sex for sure… not that I didn’t enjoy it too. But now that we got to be with each other nightly, those wild bouts of sex were not the standard but the exception. We made love more times than not. At that moment, as sleepy as he was and as nervous as I was about tonight, we took it easy, slowly, kissing and caressing, taking what we needed from the other at the same time that we gave. This was new to me, although it came close to what we had done while Eric had lost his memories. I felt cared for, loved, cherished.
We both came during a natural rhythm, and we kissed slowly at the end, prolonging that intimate feeling that can only be experienced with someone who loves you. It was like my heart was completely open, showing me how full it truly was. Eric gathered me close, the way he liked to do, as much of him touching as much of me as it was possible without crushing me.
“I told you I would relieve your stress,” he said and smiled, kissed my shoulder, lingered. Then blinked. “I forgot to feed.”
I frowned. “You’ve skipped it before,” I pointed out.
“On purpose, yes, to let you recover. I’m thirsty tonight and I forgot.” His face went from confused to something else, his feelings cycling too fast for me to decipher. When they finally settled, he bit his wrist and put it to my mouth, like he had done so many times before. The blood ran thickly, the consistency of honey, the color darker than the bright red of “live” blood. The taste still said “blood,” but lately I’d found myself craving it, if only for the pleasure I associated with drinking Eric’s blood.
“Are you sure?” I asked, not wanting to sound too eager. He nodded, his eyes losing whatever bit of sleep he still might have felt. He was waiting to feel the draw on his wrist before biting me.
I licked a droplet then wrapped my lips around the wound, sucking his magic into me. Eric groaned and moved his hips against my leg. “I need you,” he said thickly, shifting to position himself between my legs again and waiting for my frantic nod before burying all of him inside me.
His arm was draped in a way to enable me to keep sucking on his wrist. He took one of my hands and bit my wrist. I cried out as the pain was quickly followed by bliss, the magic of a vampire’s bite. Our second climax overtook us hard and fast. I cried out again, this time from ecstasy.
“Better now?” I asked Eric, trying to catch my breath.
“Incredible,” he declared and started rubbing his cheek on my arm. “You were out in the sun today. The scent is strongest on your arms.”
“I had a thong on. You wanna do that to my butt?” I asked and giggled. He turned me over like a pancake and scooted down the bed to rub his cheek on my… other cheeks, holding me down to stop me from wiggling too much. I felt his teeth tickling my skin. “Please stop, please. Uncle! Uncle!” I yelled between laughs.
“That’s better,” he said, lightly spanking me before letting me go.
We got ready for our night. Mr. Cataliades would meet us at Fangtasia about half an hour after first dark. Considering it was already November, that would be a little after six in the afternoon. Pam was not invited, which I thought had been a mistake. I felt like I needed her with me, although I wasn’t sure why. Maybe I just needed as many players on my side of the court as possible.
Fangtasia was still closed for business when we arrived. The bar didn’t open until seven, and the staff wouldn’t arrive for another half hour. As soon as Eric opened the back door we saw a car pull into the parking lot. It was a large black Lincoln Continental. Out of the driver side stepped Diantha, with her wild hair and colorful clothes. She stepped around the car and opened the door for… I never thought I would see her alive. Gladiola exited the car, looking around and nodding at Mr. Cataliades.
Eric nodded at the demon lawyer after he got out of the car and approached us, but I didn’t. I didn’t care if that would be rude or whatever. I just wanted some answers. Pleasantries done (on everybody’s part but mine), we all followed Eric into his office. Diantha remained with the car, and Gladiola stayed guarding Eric’s door.
We all took strategic positions inside the office. Eric sat in his usual executive chair behind the desk; Mr. Cataliades chose a chair in front of the desk, facing Eric; and I stood next to Eric. I wanted to see Mr. Cataliades’ face when I said what I had to say.
“Thank you for coming to see us,” Eric said and nodded again. He gave me a quick look, no doubt wondering why I hadn’t sat down, but I ignored it and he didn’t say anything.
“You said it was a matter of the highest importance. The Queen allowed my absence in order to keep her sheriff happy. I must say, the fact that your area is the most prolific works in your favor,” Mr. Cataliades said and leaned back in his chair, making himself comfortable.
“Actually, your business tonight is with Miss Stackhouse, not me,” Eric said. That was my cue to begin my speech.
I dug into the pocket of my jeans and retrieved one of my grandmother’s handkerchiefs. Wrapped inside it was the cluviel dor. Instead of opening it, I simply handed the small bundle to Mr. Cataliades. He opened it gingerly and stared. His expression changed from confusion, to understanding, to horror. He was a smart man. I was sure he’d added everything up and came up with the right answer. 2 + 2 = A heck of a mess.
“You did use it,” he mumbled, turning the little box this way and that. “I thought you might have when talk of your psychic powers then time travel surfaced within the Queen’s compound.”
“It’s more complicated than that. As my sponsor, you should know.” I was seeing red and started pacing within the small space behind Eric’s desk. “This curse,” I pointed at my temple, “that your blood gave me, will it go away if I am turned into a vampire?”
Mr. Cataliades was beyond surprised now. He knew that I knew, but he didn’t know how I knew it, and I wasn’t inclined to tell him. However, he did take my question seriously and began thinking about it.
“Since I’ve never heard of a demon being turned, I cannot say for sure,” he began, eyeing me carefully before he continued. “Vampires are another type of demon, so perhaps your gift,” he emphasized the word, “would remain after turning.”
I scoffed at the word gift. “Does the Queen know that you possess the same gift? Can you read vampire minds? Because I can’t, but you’re a stronger creature than I am. Maybe I’ll let the Queen know that she’s had a telepath within her compound this whole time,” I threatened in a low voice. I was past the point of being polite or courteous.
Eric’s hand circled my arm holding me back and sending me a silent warning. I was playing with fire, literally. Mr. Cataliades took it all in before answering me. I honestly think he was reading both our minds, Eric’s and mine. God only knows how he could stand to read vampire minds. The few times I’d accidentally done it, it hadn’t been all that pleasant. Then again, he was a half demon.
“I see that you are upset,” Mr. Cataliades began slowly, “and I know the Queen wants you to do some psychic work. Tell me what you know. Perhaps I might be able to persuade her that you are not what she thinks.”
“The only things that are, so far, set in stone are deaths. Everything else, from the events I witnessed to the manner of death can change,” I said, remembering that even my latest warning – to Lafayette who I had called and got nothing but skepticism – had failed and he had ultimately died in a one-person car accident. There simply was no escaping death.
Mr. Cataliades nodded. “Alright, tell me those, then.”
I told him the sequence of events that led to Peter Threadgill’s death, which included Gladiola’s death, Hadley’s and Waldo’s, and Wybert’s, then Andre’s and finally the Queen’s death itself. The whole tale started to take too long at the beginning, so sometime after I shocked Mr. Cataliades by revealing Gladiola’s death, I told him to just read my mind. If he wouldn’t believe my words, he would believe my thoughts. I had no way to fake those.
The room was deathly quiet as I finished. Eric hadn’t even moved, but I knew he hadn’t gone into downtime. Mr. Cataliades had been making faces at everything he read in my mind, for which I didn’t blame him. I’d been making faces too, remembering. Mr. Cataliades seemed especially disturbed at my thoughts of the bombing in Rhodes, and how I’d seen him about to jump from the building, the Queen over his shoulder. But I made it clear that she had died at the hands of Felipe De Castro and Victor Madden.
“Do you think we can kill them before their time? Do you think we will be successful?” Mr. Cataliades asked me, seeing the images of the two vampires from Nevada in my head.
“I honestly don’t know, but the world will be better to rid itself from them,” I answered.
There was a long pause while Mr. Cataliades’ brain buzzed with activity. One would think I’d be able to read it, but that wasn’t the case. Finally a frown appeared on his face and I knew he would not help us.
“I have to tell the Queen, to help her. It is my duty as her lawyer. She will know the information came from you even if I omit that fact,” he said and looked almost apologetic.
“Then don’t do it,” I said, feeling tears smarting my eyes. They were tears of complete and utter frustration. There was no way out, no one to help, not even my so-called sponsor would help. “Duty as her lawyer” my ass! What about his duty to me as the granddaughter of his friend? I knew he could read it all in my mind, so I decided to stay silent. Fangtasia was open and nobody should be privy to this particular conversation.
Instead of arguing with me, Mr. Cataliades turned to Eric. “Turn her and hope she loses her telepathy, or take her far away from here. The Queen will not honor the blood bond you have entered into because she didn’t give you her permission to do so.”
“No, she gave it to Compton,” Eric said and sneered as he said Bill’s name.
Mr. Cataliades ignored Eric’s remark and continued. “She has not punished you for it yet, but wanting Sookie in New Orleans is a test. If you deny her majesty…” he shrugged, letting the silence speak for itself.
That night I curled up on the sofa in the den and listened to Eric in his office while he typed furiously and talked to someone on the phone in a foreign language. I guessed it was Spanish. I didn’t have to know it, though, to get the gist of it. He was making preparations to leave. The email I’d read from him to Meg Moon cemented that thought for me, as well as her reply.
Pam appeared and sat at my feet, taking in whatever was going on in Eric’s office and then looking at me. “Were you watching TV?”
“No,” I said despondently. My life was out of my control. Going back in time did not have the effect I’d hoped for. In fact, I’d made things worse.
“I’m supposed to order some clothes for you, but first I have to see what you already have. Care to join me in your closet?” Pam eyed me carefully, gauging my mood.
I had nothing better to do, so I sat up and led the way to my bedroom. I let Pam rummage through the contents of my closet. I was sure she was making mental lists.
“What are you supposed to buy me?” I asked and sat on my bed, looking down at my feet as they dangled over the side. It was a tall bed.
“Warm clothes for cold weather. We are going somewhere colder than Louisiana, and it will be a cold winter. I have more experience with winter clothes than you do, I daresay.” Pam was completely immersed in my clothes, so her voice had come out muffled.
“I thought you didn’t need to dress in layers,” I piped up. I remembered she had been living in the north before joining Eric down here in Shreveport… Minnesota or Wisconsin or Illinois. Somewhere with cold and dreary winter months.
“As cold-blooded creatures, it behooves us to keep whatever warmth we acquire while indoors or we become sluggish. Therefore layers are essential. Of course, cold doesn’t start to bother us until it dips below zero.” Pam came out of my closet with her hands on her hips. “I don’t expect you have a passport.”
I scrunched my nose. “No, I don’t have one. Are we going to Canada?” It was the only country I could imagine where it would be cold.
“Too close,” she waived her hand. “You have to go tomorrow and get your pictures taken and apply for an expedited one. Bring your checkbook and pay any amount of money they ask you for. You will need your birth certificate, do you have that?”
I nodded. Since I had moved (twice within a month) I knew where all my important paperwork was. “So where are we going? Are you coming with us?”
“I have no choice but to go with you. When the Queen finds out that Eric has taken you away, she will look to me for answers. I have to remain safe as well.”
I made a face, feeling sorry for dragging her into the mess as well. Pam sat next to me and made her best effort to comfort me: she patted my head. I wasn’t sure whether to be angry or laugh at the gesture.
“Don’t worry,” Pam said. “I haven’t been to Spain in a long time.”
It was hard to argue with Eric when he was so determined and angry with the world. Last time he’d been that way he’d gotten into a fight with Pam. I only wanted peace. Make that safety and peace.
It was not the first time that I thought about how tired I felt. It wasn’t even a physical thing: I made it a point to keep active and do things outdoors, to make sure I got my vitamin D. On days when it got warm enough I put on my bathing suit, but those days were numbered in the Louisiana fall.
My weariness felt deeper, like my soul was tired. Grief would do that to a person, I supposed. I moved about my days like a robot. My routine was set and easy enough to follow, and I was glad. We had to pretend that I was about to go to New Orleans, so I continued doing everything that I would usually do while we waited for my passport to arrive.
In only a matter of a couple of weeks I would get my passport in the mail, and then we were all leaving in the middle of the day on a chartered plane… with two coffins, and tons of luggage. By the time anybody found we were missing, we would be over the Atlantic on our way to Spain.
I didn’t ask many questions, but I deduced that we would be safe with Eric’s other child, Meg Moon. How that would be accomplished was beyond me. For all we knew the vampire King or Queen of Spain (or however they divided their monarchies) was going to want my services once they found out I was in residence, and the cycle would begin all over again. It wasn’t going to be a secret that I was entering the country, since my passport would be a real one.
But, as the date of our departure approached, Eric began relaxing… not that he wasn’t wound up tighter than an eight-day clock, spending his nights in endless activity, some of which included lovemaking — thankfully. Still, I could tell he was feeling hopeful that soon we would all be safer. As a result he began smiling more, and some of his feeling was actual excitement.
The day before our flight, Tray took me to Bon Temps so I could say goodbye to my brother. It did pass through my mind that the best way to make me return to Louisiana was for anybody to threaten my brother’s life… which is why, after much debating and watching him from the safety of Tray’s car – with its dark-tinted windows and almost silent engine – I decided to not even talk to Jason, and told Tray that I would pay him to keep an eye on my brother.
“In return you can use his land on full moon nights. He will never know, and there are several acres back there, it’s very extensive,” I said, trying to sweeten the deal for the lone Were. “I’ll pay you.”
Tray turned to me with a worried look. “I will do it, Miss Sookie, but I gotta tell you that he will need more safeguarding than I can offer.”
I nodded. He was right, but I could only do so much. “Do what you can.” It was all I could ask for.
The next morning, at nearly dawn, Eric and Pam got inside their respective travel coffins as I watched. They were both sleek, made for their individual heights and girths and propped on something that looked like sawhorses inside the garage, compliments of Anubis Air and their charter service. At ten in the morning a van would arrive to pick up my vampires and our luggage, as well as me, and take us to a private airfield in western Shreveport.
I stood beside Eric as he settled inside his long coffin and checked the locks he would have to engage once the lid was closed. He looked up and gave me a smile, reaching for my hand. I bit my lip. I was nervous and excited, something that was happening to me a lot lately.
“You will like it in Spain,” he said, thinking that my apprehension was because I was leaving my home behind. Actually, that had been the exciting part. I’d never imagined I would travel to Europe.
“I have no doubt about that,” I said and forced a smile.
He pulled me down to ask for a kiss. I gave him soft, lingering kisses, because I loved him. There were a heap of reasons why I loved him, but the one that trumped so many was what he was doing at that very moment: getting inside a coffin and traveling to Spain, to keep me safe.
“I love you,” he said first as I started to pull away.
“I know, baby,” I said, caressing his face. “I love you too.”
“I will see you in Spain.” He smiled widely. He was very happy very suddenly. I supposed the prospect of seeing his other child after so many years was something he was looking forward to.
Afterwards I tried to take a short nap, but it was a wasted effort. So I ate breakfast and got ready, and then waited until the van showed up at ten in the morning. Tray would escort the whole entourage, and the Anubis people knew this. I was glad to see a familiar face. It kept me centered… although reading the Anubis people’s thoughts was keeping me busy. So far, no funny business. The charter plane people were paid big bucks to do what they did. As well they should. The charter plane itself had cost a pretty penny. Thank goodness Eric was footing this particular bill.
I did realize that Eric and Pam were leaving many things behind: their businesses, their people, many of their non-mobile belongings like their houses (Eric has shipped his beloved Corvette, though). I, too, was disappearing from my life, if I could have called it a life.
What kind of life was I really leaving behind? I pondered the question during the daylight hours of the flight. I found myself reading and rereading a line in a book because I hadn’t been paying attention to my novel. Instead I was thinking of my life before and after the cluviel dor. Agreeing to leave everything behind and disappear to Spain went against my grain. Anyone who knew me would know this was not something I would have readily agree to. But, and here was the catch, could it possibly be worse than the nightmares I had been through?
At first when Eric made the announcement – to hell with suggesting, right? – I went along with every intention of backing out. After all, he wouldn’t find out I wasn’t on the airplane until it was too late. I could take my money and disappear on my own. But for how long? There isn’t much that can be done anonymously in the United States anymore. You need to use your Social Security number and your real ID to secure a job, otherwise you can steal another person’s identity and end up in jail. I didn’t want jail, nor was I going to steal anything from anybody… bad karma and all.
So that left me with not very many options. I couldn’t be sure of how far the news of my existence had reached inside the vampire community. What was more, my fairy family already knew of my whereabouts. I wasn’t deluding myself into thinking they couldn’t find me in Spain, but I hoped that it would take them slightly longer to do so. Who would equate Sookie Stackhouse with Spain?
And finally, my breakdown and the memory of it had brought to light the fact that remaining in a place full of so many horrible memories was probably not very healthy. It was downright toxic, and I was suffering mentally for it. That feeling I’d had, that strange sensation that my soul was being drained slowly out through my feet, THAT was all Louisiana’s fault. Obviously, not the state per se, but everything and everyone I lived with.
In the end I’d opted for the lesser of two evils. I didn’t think moving to a foreign country was evil at all. The wonders I would see! I could go sightseeing every day. I had enough money invested that I could live off the interest and become a professional traveler. My first item of business: learning Spanish. I had the perfect opportunity through immersion. Just the thought of seeing and exploring had lifted my spirits enough that my psychical lethargy had begun to lift within the past few days. It was like a breath of fresh air.
I put away my mystery novel and retrieved my travel book about Segovia. A whole book dedicated to the city where we would be staying, at least in the beginning. I began reading it voraciously, thinking of all the places that I wanted to see. I had even bought my very own digital camera! It was pink. Pam had helped.
Eric’s coffin began opening on its own, which startled me to no end. I hadn’t even noticed that it was night outside. My watch still read four in the afternoon. I had spent four hours thinking and reading about Segovia.
Eric left the confines of his coffin and joined me. His first item of business: kissing me passionately. I wondered if he wanted us to join the “Several Miles High Club,” and asked him. He laughed heartily at the same time that Pam slithered out of her smaller coffin, stretching like someone who needed it.
“Good morning, lovebirds,” she chimed, and walked to the mini fridge near us.
“Hi, Pam,” I said, since Eric’s attention was otherwise occupied with my neck.
“Did everything go okay? We’re in the air, so I have to assume we’re alright,” she said, and got a bottle of blood. It wasn’t True Blood. It was something different. Whatever its name, she smiled at it and held it out to Eric, who gave it a quick glance and laughed again.
“Everything went by the book. The Anubis people were very professional, and Tray stayed with me as long as he could,” I reported and glanced at the label on the bottle of blood. It read Sangre Verdadera, which – I learned later – was Spanish for True Blood. Duh.
“What are you reading, dear one?” Eric asked nuzzling my ear. He was both hungry and horny. I wondered what the facilities looked like and if we could use them to satisfy him. Yeah… ‘cause I wasn’t looking forward to having sex on a plane… no! Who was I kidding? As much of Eric’s blood as I had inside my body, I was a walking libido stick. Every time he touched me I would light up like a pinball machine.
I showed Eric my book and the page I was reading. I was still absorbed in the history of the city, and honestly excited for the things I’d get to see. “Is this castle for real?” I asked, pointing my finger at a beautiful Medieval masterpiece that seem to grow out of pure rock.
“That is the Alcázar, and you will get to see all of it, inside and out, I promise.” Eric kissed my cheek in a tender gesture. It was amazing how he could be plain horny one second, and caring and amorous the next.
“Is there anything good to watch? Unless I could partake in the, um, festivities,” Pam said pointing at us. Nothing escaped her notice.
She put a movie on the TV. I was beginning to really enjoy chartered flights. It was above and beyond anything that a regular flight could offer. Pam got to choose the movie she wanted; I had spent the greatest four hours (so far) nestled in a large soft leather chair that reclined just enough; the bathroom…
Eric pulled me into the bathroom, which I hadn’t had the pleasure to visit yet. It was larger than a regular plane’s bathroom, which made our short escapade that much more comfortable. He did something, though, which he tended not to do very often: he took blood from my neck, and only sealed the wounds with his saliva. They would still be noticeable after we arrived.
“They will expect them,” he said, eyeing my neck with a sad look on his face. He didn’t like to see bites on it, and usually healed them with blood instead of saliva.
“Who are ‘they’?” I asked, more than a little apprehensive.
“The people we’re staying with. I will only do it in the beginning, for a week or so, no more.”
“I don’t understand,” I shook my head in confusion. Vampires could take blood from hidden places as well, not just the neck. I wasn’t going around advertising his teeth marks on my inner thighs!
“It’s a different culture,” he tried to explain. It made a little bit of sense, but not much. Perhaps I would learn more the longer we remained.
I took a couple of Benadryl and went to sleep. I needed to rest if I was going to be any kind of coherent when we arrived in Madrid. It would again be daytime, almost seven in the morning to be exact, by the time we landed. From there the Anubis people would take us to Segovia, which was northwest of Madrid and took about an hour to get to, or so I’d been told.
Eric woke me up when it was time for him and Pam to get inside their coffins. I had actually slept a few hours, but even so I knew that I would be hideously jetlagged. Thankfully Eric and Pam had both assured me that there were people waiting for us at our destination who would show us immediately to our rooms and let us rest… not that Eric and Pam would need to rest, necessarily. My main source of stress would be to make sure both coffins stayed within my sight at all times. I had a gun in my carry-on, and I was not afraid to use it. The wonders of traveling and being able to skip TSA.
We arrived in Madrid at another private airfield, and the Anubis people were just as attentive. They spoke English to me and were very courteous. Their van was different but still bore the Anubis logo. We had to pass through a modified customs, in which the officer came to meet the plane, not the other way around. I had to declare what the vampires were doing in Spain as well as myself, and where we were staying. I had written down the address, which was impossible for me to pronounce. I produced the piece of paper with the address and handed it to the officer. He looked surprised for a split second, and unfortunately he wasn’t a clear broadcaster and thought mostly in words. Spanish words. After his brief surprised he stamped all three passports and welcomed us to his country with a smile.
Not ten minutes in a new country and I was already enjoying it!
The next item for me to get excited were the posted speed limits measured in kilometers! Well, I never! I was trying to do math in my head, but it was impossible. One kilometer is not half a mile. I took in the rest of the scenery as we left busy Madrid, which looked like any other busy city to me – with cooler cars – and proceeded to enjoy the plains and vast valleys that made central Spain.
We arrived in Segovia, which looked to me like the quintessential European small city. I watched amazed as we passed by the Roman aqueduct and began a slow climb through the narrow streets. The town was waking up, and it looked more than pleasant. I could barely wait to explore it at leisure one day… or a whole week. Or month.
The buildings weren’t very tall, but in the narrow streets they were towering skyscrapers. We passed the cathedral, which I had every intention of exploring. The humongous building just kept going and going. I’d already read that it was the last Gothic cathedral built in all of Spain. I wondered how many art treasures it housed.
Finally we arrived at a large gate manned by shifters of some kind. They weren’t werewolves, though. Wherever we were being admitted into had a lot of security. One of the guards read the paperwork that our driver handed over, the other guard circled the van slowly. He seemed to be sniffing, probably for a bomb or drugs, I would imagine. Whoever owned this place was big on taking precautions.
Once we were admitted, the van circled around a large parking lot full of all manner of cars, and then stopped in front of a large entrance. I couldn’t see much from my vantage point, but when I got out of the van and looked up, I knew where I was immediately. We were at the Alcázar of Segovia. My mind boggled. How could we be staying in this place? I thought it was a museum!
Someone exited the house, a tall round woman wearing a long tailored skirt and a white blouse. She had kind eyes and a soft smile for me, then a scowl for the Anubis people. I liked her immediately. She barked orders in Spanish to the Anubis guys and then turned to me.
“Miss Stackhouse, what a pleasure! I am Laura, the housekeeper. Welcome to the Alcázar,” she said. I noticed her accent, but most of all I noticed how she over-pronounced the letter S, and made a TH sound when she pronounced the Z in Alcázar.
“Thank you so much,” I said, feeling like I could finally relax. I read her mind, and it was full of purpose. She saw our rooms, my food, she even envisioned me taking a nap. Did I say I liked her? Scratch that: I loved her. I wanted food and sleep more than anything else… except maybe a shower. Flying always made me feel gritty.
“I have your rooms ready to go, and your breakfast. Do you think you will be having lunch?” she asked, already a step ahead of me. A couple of strapping shifters came out of the castle with something that looked like carts for the coffins, and helped the Anubis people put my vampires on the carts. Vamp carts. It was too hilarious!
“I’m sorry, Miss Laura. I don’t think I’ll eat any lunch today. I’m exhausted, but thank you for asking.”
“It’s my job,” she smiled pleasantly. What a relief to be with nice people! Nice people who had your room ready and offered you food!
“Follow me this way, we will follow them,” she said, pointing at the men carting my vampires in front of us.
We reached an elevator that looked like those you see in hospitals, large enough for a gurney or bed, except it was beautiful, like the elevator inside the building where I used to work in Shreveport. This was my life now. One hour and no regrets.
“I’m sorry to not offer to give you the tour, but you did say you were tired,” Laura said as the elevator took us up a few floors to the fourth level. I was going to try to remember that.
I nodded and gave her a smile. It was all I could muster. She patted my shoulder lightly to tell me she understood. We followed the two men down a large hall padded with thick red carpeting. The only thing I could hear was our clothes swishing and the wheels on the carts rolling. Nothing else. Laura stopped at a large wooden door and opened it with a card key like you see in hotels. I wondered if this wasn’t a hotel for vampires.
“This is Miss Ravenscroft’s room,” she said and let the one man enter so he could leave Pam inside. “I will leave one key with her and one with you.” She handed me a little sleeve containing the card and entered the room, leaving the second key on a dresser. I couldn’t see much other than the room looked like it belonged… in a castle! I wondered what mine would look like.
“Your room is right next door. They connect,” she said, and opened my room for me, then handed me the card key.
It was gorgeous. I would call it the yellow room. The carpeting was thick white and a soft buttery yellow, yellow curtains over light-tight shutters, a white comforter with yellow flowers, the furniture was white, and the walls were covered in white silk scrollwork. I’d never seen anything like it. I even had a yellow rose bouquet on the vanity!
Laura showed me the door that connected the two rooms, and advised me to lock Pam’s door from the inside as well as mine. She would come up with my food in just a few minutes. While I waited for my food, I locked Pam’s door and took a look at her room. It was a bit smaller than Eric’s and mine, but just as lovely. It had more pink, definitely a “Pam room.” She would love it.
Despite the fact that we were inside a medieval castle, the bathroom was very 21st century. As soon as Laura appeared with my food, I set it aside in favor of taking a well-deserved shower in the most luxurious stall I’d ever seen. Once clean and comfortable in my thick terry robe, I sat in front of the gas fireplace and ate my breakfast with relish. It was simple: a piece of fresh bread with real butter and strawberry preserves, hot chocolate (Laura was smart and didn’t give me coffee or tea), fresh fruit, and… a pastry. I really loved that woman, and I’d just met her.
I went to bed still wearing the robe. The room was warm and cozy and so was I. I didn’t even miss the sun inside the dark room. I turned off all the lights and left the fireplace on low. I burrowed into the covers and glanced at the clock. Two hours and no regrets. I slept the whole day away.