**A/N: Grab a drink, it’s a long one…**
Still growling and with fangs still lowered from the threat to his beloved, Godric paced the unsatisfyingly-short length of the small living area as he fought to keep from killing the disgusting maggot. Something was definitely wrong with this situation but he hadn’t been able to determine exactly what yet. That mere minutes had passed since he had lifted his fangs from the trifling idiot’s neck didn’t stop his self-recriminations – he needed to think faster!
His instincts were telling him that things were not exactly as they appeared, and that his Cara was in danger because of it.
All vampires had enhanced senses, and most would ‘inherit’ from their Maker one, perhaps but more rarely two, specific individual gifts. As was normal for vampires, both his senses and his gifts had strengthened exponentially as he had aged through the centuries. But, somehow along the way, he had developed several other new gifts as well. One of those gifts was the ability to sense when something or someone wasn’t right. If there happened to be a dangerous or questionable aspect to a situation or person, he would often sense that deception.
That ability was now screaming incessantly.
Cara’s cousin was up to something, but what?
While she had perhaps wisely prevented the man’s death, Cara had stopped his bleeding only to save from defiling her home and not invited the cousin to sit down, he noticed, and she was keeping something of a distance between herself and the relative, but not nearly enough for his peace of mind. Regardless of his relationship status, obviously he was suspect in her opinion as well.
After two more paces through the small room, it finally occurred to Godric what had been tickling at the back of his mind – the man carried an odd set of odors about his being.
Faster than the human’s eyes could track, he vamped over to the cousin, now huddled on the floor and leaning back against the wall. He smirked – the maggot was also still holding the wet towel to his neck. He stood over the man and inhaled deeply.
“Raise your hand,” he commanded strongly, his voice sharp and angry.
Nat hesitated a moment before obediently raising his hand after getting a good look at the angry vampire’s face. He jumped when Godric seized his wrist in his vice-like grip and held it to his nose. Two short sniffs and Godric’s growl thundered through the small apartment.
After hissing a few words to Eric who immediately came over to clamp a hard restraining hand down on Nat’s shoulder, the ancient vampire flashed out the front door with a very curious Pam on his heels.
Not knowing what was going on but trusting Godric to deal with whatever it was, Cara popped two more Advil and wrapped the large throw around her now-chilled body. She had no idea what Nat was up to or what Godric was looking for or how Pam and that guy Eric actually knew to come to her place when they did, and while she did care some, she was really more interested in just taking a nap.
The evening had actually been going pretty good until he had to show up for whatever godforsaken reason. With a petulant sound she leaned over sideways to rest her head on the sofa’s armrest and closed her weary eyes.
She didn’t see the curious look Eric gave her, surprised that the woman was so comfortable with strange vampires roaming around her place. Eric would freely admit, though, that he was much more surprised that this small woman had somehow managed to stop his Maker from draining the fool who was now emitting the mildly tasty stench of fear from the floor.
Through the bond with his Maker, Eric could tell that the elder vampire was still very much in kill mode, and he knew well that when Godric was in a killing rage, nothing to his former knowledge would have stopped him. It was an unfortunate experience suffered by several villages in the past…luckily, they were able to blame such large-scale human destruction on various plagues at the time. He would have to ask this Cara how she had managed a feat he had not thought possible until this night.
Godric and Pam zoned in on Nat’s old pick-up truck oddly parked too far from the front of Cara’s apartment to make sense. Why would he have parked so far away? When they reached the vehicle, Godric stilled himself and inhaled deeply for a long moment, then suddenly removed the door from the driver’s side. After one more whiff, at vamp speed he grabbed a cloth bag barely tucked beneath the driver’s seat. When upended into the seat, duct tape, a long coil of rope, a gag, and a syringe filled with some sort of liquid fell from the bag.
Pam inhaled sharply at the meaning behind such a collection of gear, and met her grandMaker’s enraged eyes.
Body quivering in anger, it was all he could do to not break the man’s bones and smear his marrow over his body in delight at killing this obvious threat to his Cara. However, even through the blood rage sweeping through his body, he knew he could not. This threat must be larger than one ugly, inept spineless coward.
The cousin was minion, not Master. Someone else must be involved, and he forced his mind away from the delights of rending the man’s flesh from his bones. Was someone after his Cara specifically?
Sensing the unsettling rise in his Maker’s rage, Eric steadied himself then thought to warn the woman.
“Cara,” he called softly, not wanting to startle her from her rest but needing to gain her attention.
“Humm,” she replied, already half-asleep. The night had just kept going, and all she wanted was some sleep. And Godric’s lap, she decided. He had a nice lap, and she missed it.
“You might want to sit up. I think Godric has found something.”
With a ‘hrumph’ Cara righted herself, and as she was reaching for her drink glass, Godric and Pam stormed back through the open doorway. The ancient vampire blurred over to the man now cowering on the floor, and threw the refilled bag at his feet.
“Explain this,” he snarled, squatting over the man, his fangs now even more pronounced mere inches from the man’s face.
“I…I don’t…,” Nat stuttered, terrified of having to deal with the infuriated vampire hovering so close that he could see his reflection in eyes gone completely black.
Alarmed by Godric’s actions, Cara stood up and unwrapped herself, but held back from moving closer at Eric’s hand raised in caution. What didn’t surprise her was that Nat was involved in something that she’d consider trouble. He’d always been the black sheep of the family but not the fun kind. Instead he seemed to make it his life’s mission to find or create trouble wherever he happened to be. Trouble didn’t find him – it seemed to breed under his always-filthy fingernails.
Having captured the filth’s gaze, Godric immediately glamoured the man to remain still and speak only the truth.
“What were you going to do with this? Why did you come to see Cara this night?” He leaned back, grabbed the bag, and shoved it into the man’s face as he growled the questions.
“I wanted to borrow some money from her. If she wouldn’t give me any, I was going to sell her to these guys I know,” came his monotone reply.
All three vampires stiffened and snarled at the man’s words. At Cara’s gasp, shockingly enough it was Pam who walked over and put her hand on the woman’s shoulder. The blonde vampire wasn’t exactly sure how to comfort humans any more – it had been more years than she cared to remember since she’d last bothered to try, but she wanted to provide some sort of support for her grandMaker’s chosen. She was pleased when she sensed her beloved Maker’s approval of the effort.
Cara couldn’t believe it! She knew her cousin was a massive fuck-up, but he’d never acted like he hated her or anything. And he was going to sell her if she didn’t give the bastard money?? Fuck that!
Hands tightening into claws, Godric growled louder through his next words. “And what were these men going to do with her?”
“They’d buy her and I think they sell girls to these vamper guys for blood and sex or something. I don’t know; I just heard about them but I ain’t never met them or nothing.”
Before they thought to stop her, as if they would have anyway, Cara stomped over to her now-disowned cousin and planted three hard kicks in rapid succession into his ribs, and heard a satisfying crack with the third strike of her foot. Pam casually sauntered over and wrapped an arm around her shoulders to gently pull her away before she could do more damage.
She wouldn’t have interfered with the brunette’s actions but she knew that Godric had more questions and didn’t want the fucker prematurely dead before he could provide more information. The ancient vampire had a tenuous enough hold on his anger as it was – one wrong look from the bloodbag and he’d be smeared all over the apartment, that would be a hell of a mess to clean. She was surprised, and slightly gratified, when Cara, arms now folded protectively across her middle and without having spilled one drop from the glass she still held, leaned into her cool shoulder with a sniff.
With the bottom of her foot still stinging a little from kicking the bastard in the ribs, Cara gladly let herself lean into Pam. While they weren’t best buddies or anything, she had the feeling that the female vampire wouldn’t mind. Although certainly not the reason behind Cara’s actions earlier, it seemed her vocal approval of Pam’s ‘food shopping’ efforts may have earned her a friend, and one could never have too many friends. Regardless, women have to work together instead of allowing some need for male approval to drive them apart.
It was hard for Cara to think that she was so important to Godric that he could value her opinions so highly, but if her good words about Pam brought peace between the two, she was glad to use her “powers” for good. She sipped from her glass as she subtly wiggled her foot and hoped the latest Advils helped make the sole stop stinging. Fucking Nat…
With an approving smirk and a nod of his head, Godric appreciated both women’s actions. His pride in his beloved grew even more with her irate display; she was glorious in her anger – and was certainly no fading flower. He hid his surprise at his grandprogeny’s attempt at comforting his human and sent his approval through their bond. As a reward, he decided he would allow both women to take a few shots at the soon-to-be-dead fucker once his questions had been thoroughly answered and the asshole no longer had need of his life.
He grabbed the front of the man’s collar and brought him up with him as he stood, then slammed him against the wall.
“You would willingly sell your cousin into blood and sex slavery with vampires? Why?” Such an act was incomprehensible to the ancient vampire. Family was family; even if you didn’t like or get along easily with some of them, they were…family.
“Yeah. I heard they pay a lot for pretty girls and I need the money.”
For a long moment it appeared as if Godric was finally going to lose control of his temper. His face and body, even his hands, hardened as he fought to control himself, knowing he needed to discover all he could before ending this trash.
“What are the names of these men who buy and sell women?” Eric had rarely heard his Maker’s voice sound so guttural. Already he was mentally deciding which cell to use to hold the vermin, and which cleaning crew to call if Godric’s control…slipped.
“I don’t know.” Nat’s voice was still monotone under the strong glamour.
“What are the names of the men who know of them?”
“Junior, Brand, Lars, and maybe Sal, but I’m not sure about him.”
“Where do you meet with these men,” the vampire hissed.
“Cob’s over on Third, on Tuesday and Thursday nights.” Cara didn’t know the place, but the vampires knew this Cob’s was a low-class dive where just such deals would not be uncommon.
Satisfied that he had gotten all the relevant information he could out of the man for now, and needing to see to his Cara, Godric removed his glamour as he wanted this cousin to know of the suffering to come, then nodded to Eric. Somehow managing to have both a distasteful look and an evil grin on his face, Eric promptly, and none too gently, slung the man over his broad shoulder and zipped out the open door.
The second Eric exited the apartment, Godric had Cara in his arms. After a very long hug and several drawn-out sniffs along her neck, he finally drew back to look down into her face.
“Are you well?” There was no mistaking the worry in his darkened eyes. The black of anger had receded, allowing the deep, worried blue to shine through as he visually inspected his Mate.
Before she could nod, he began running his hands all over her body, down her arms, across her back, and she sent a questioning look to Pam. The blonde vampire only smirked and inclined her head as she, too, exited the room to give the couple some privacy. The damn hardware store idiots should be on their way already.
When Godric’s roaming hands reached the curve of her ass, Cara took a small step back.
“Hey, now, what cha doing down there?” She couldn’t help but giggle a tiny bit as the stress of the evening broke through, and placed her hand on his chest. She took the last sip from her glass to soothe her itchy throat and realized she’d need a refill.
“I’m checking to make sure you are well. It is an instinctual response for a vampire to check his Mate for injury after…” his voice trailed off as he realized what he had said.
Shocked at his words and at the look on his face, Cara’s hand involuntarily let go of the glass, and she didn’t even look away from him when she heard it crash to the floor.
“Mate?” She thought she’d heard him right, but…Mate? Huh? “Like, what, soul mates?”
With a stranger look on his face than she’d ever seen before, Godric stared down into her wide brown eyes, and simply nodded. He swallowed hard, sighed, then continued.
He cursed his slip of the tongue.
Too soon! It was too soon!
There was no way she could…
But he had…
Much too soon…
Despair seized his heart, but he made himself continue. His Cara deserved nothing less than the truth, although he would have much preferred it be spoken many nights, if not weeks…months…in the future. Still, his lips had let loose the truth, and so he must pay.
“I had not meant to tell you so soon, Cara mia. It is just…too soon for you, I know. I had wanted to give you time to know me, to become more familiar with me and my world before telling you about this so that you would in no way feel compelled to be with me unless it is your wish. In some ways I value your free will perhaps even more than you do.”
She could see the deep sincerity on his face and hear it in his voice. Mates? But…she was human! And…and she really didn’t want to be involved with a vampire…to be some vampire’s pet!
But…this was Godric, always a plus… But still – Mate?
“I don’t…I don’t understand,” she finally said with an honest shrug of her shoulders. She needed a minute to adjust to the strange direction her night had taken. “But I do know that I’ve got to get this glass up, so… Yeah, um, after I get this cleaned up,” she said over her shoulder as she went to the kitchen for the broom and dustpan, “we can talk about this, ok?” The distressed, forlorn expression on his ancient face tugged at her heart, and she sent him a small smile of encouragement.
This whole Mate thing had thrown her for a loop, but maybe it didn’t mean exactly what she thought it did? Hell if she knew… Well, knowledge was power, and right now she didn’t feel either knowledgeable or powerful, so it’d make sense to listen to the vamp who did know about this stuff. Plus, maybe if she let him talk, then maybe he wouldn’t look so fucking miserable…
When she didn’t flee out the open doorway in terror, and in fact graced him with a sweet if slightly confused smile, his courage grew, and he nodded. As he watched her sweeping up the shattered glass, he quickly thought through several scenarios trying to decide on a plan that would keep her in his life without overwhelming her. This night had already been bad enough with her being sick, and then the incident with her cousin. Now this? He shook his head as his mind continued grasping at straws.
His heart was still in his feet, though, knowing that his own tongue had betrayed him, that he would now have to lay his heart bare for her, and let her decide. He moved to the open doorway and glanced up into the night sky searching for hope of any kind. Pam was pacing the sidewalk waiting for the hardware company and giving them their privacy. She was also undoubtedly keeping an eye out just in case Nat had backup.
A few moments later, his attention was caught by Cara’s sharp gasp.
Quicker than human eyes could follow, he was suddenly at her side where she stood over the trashcan in the kitchen.
“I was wiping off the dustpan with this paper towel when the glass must have poked through it,” she said as she wiped a few drops of blood off her bleeding finger.
He gently grasped her hand in his, and asked, “May I? I can heal your finger in but a moment.”
Not liking pain of any sort and curious as to what he would do, Cara nodded her head. Ever the pragmatist, while she was stunned at his revelation, she also was not about to look that particular gift horse in his sharply fang’d mouth. Cuts hurt!
With a clean and neatly trimmed fingernail Godric flicked a minute sliver of glass from her finger into the trashcan, then, catching her gaze with his now brighter blue eyes, he slowly licked the trail of blood from the pad of her finger up to the short but deep cut. Her gaze still locked with his, he closed his lips around the small wound and allowed himself to take a short but deep draw, then laved it repeatedly with his tongue to work his healing saliva into the already-closing injury.
Shivering from the intimacy of the moment and the sensuality of his ministrations, Cara closed her eyes briefly to gain control of herself before she absolutely jumped his ancient bones.
Looking back up into and then quickly away from his hooded gaze, she realized that he was feeling the same burning need as her own, and cleared her throat.
“Thank…thank you, Godric.” She cleared her throat again, then looked at her now-healed cut and marveled at the medicinal properties of what was basically vampire spit. “Wow! I didn’t know that you could do that!” With a huge grin she looked back up at the vampire calling himself her Mate, and repeated, “Thank you!”
Godric’s head was reeling from the sublime taste of his Mate’s blood, and desire was pumping like fire through his body in preparation of a much needed mating with his beloved whose aroused scent was in no way helping his current situation.
Although the wound was thankfully minute, the most primal part of his inner beast was crowing in elated satisfaction from having been able to heal his Mate, and he looked down to be sure he wasn’t floating with the force of his joy. Her acceptance of his help combined with the sweet grin on her face, not to mention her fragrant arousal from his touch, had his heart rising in relief and hope.
Determinedly tamping down his needs, he put his arm around her waist and drew her close, and was gratified down to the soles of his feet when she automatically wrapped her arms around his waist.
“We need to talk without being disturbed,” he said as he nuzzled his nose into her neck. After placing a chaste kiss beneath her jaw, he continued, “They should be here soon to replace your door. Is there another room where we may talk?” Reluctantly he raised his head, and wondered at the blush reddening her cheeks.
“Well, we could go to my bedroom,” she said as her cheeks grew even darker, “but would that be the wisest choice?” Her shy grin deepened her dimples as she gazed up at him through her dark lashes.
Bright, shining mahogany eyes met his gaze, the light in her own dancing with humor as she bluntly acknowledged their current situation.
Finally feeling the last of his despair easing, he exhaled gustily, then laughed freely. With a kiss to her forehead, he replied, “Perhaps not, Cara mia, but it would provide the privacy we will need. If I promise to be on my best behavior, will that work?”
Cara quirked her brow. ‘Best behavior’ could cover so much territory.
At her look, his eyes changed to a bright burning blue and his face shifted to display the true depths of his desire and need for this woman, and Cara felt her breath catch in her throat.
Raising his hands to cup her face, he bent his head to growl deeply into her ear, “Make no mistake, my love. When I take you, it will be with your consent, and because you are ready for me.” He nipped at her ear then soothed her lobe with his tongue before continuing, “And yes, I want you. My need for you burns with the heat of a thousand suns, but I will continue waiting until you are ready. You mean that much to me.”
He then trailed his lips down her jaw, then claimed her mouth in a searing kiss that she couldn’t help but return. Long minutes later he raised his head and with a final oddly-chaste peck to her swollen lips, he stepped firmly back.
Cara shook her head to try to clear it, gave up, and let the way to her bedroom.
Once inside, he shut the door, and led Cara to the hastily made bed, kicked off his shoes, and sat down so that he was leaning against the headboard.
He drew her over to him and then arranged her in his lap so that he could look into her face. After leaning his forehead down against hers for a long minute to steady his nerves and his thoughts, he raised his head to speak.
“When I first saw you…,” he paused, clearly searching for the right words, his tone dreamy and soft as his hands wound around her waist. “When I first saw you, you were the music I had to follow, the dream I had to chase, the beauty I ached to behold. Without guile, without trying, without even knowing you did so, you enthralled me. You mesmerized me and captivated me and wove me into your spell and I hope to never be free.”
Godric gazed into her eyes as he thought of his next words, then spoke again, his voice low, soft, and urgent with his need to convey to her the words in his heart.
“I realize that to your human years not enough time has passed, but with the lifetimes I have lived, I have learned that time…the feeling of the passage of time, is subjective. I knew the moment I saw you that…that I knew you, that I have known you forever and will know you until the end of time. I knew in that second that I would kill for you, that I would die for you…and that I will live for you.”
His hands had been resting on her waist, but he raised them to cup the sides of her face as he continued gazing deep into her eyes.
“Cara, I am sorry if my words frighten you, but please, all I ask is that you give me a chance to show you the profound, fundamental joy you bring into the darkness of my life, and that you give me the chance to bring the same for you.”
Stunned, enchanted, mesmerized by the sound of his voice and his words and the look in his eyes, Cara felt that she was living in a dream that she didn’t understand but desperately needed.
She raised her hands to cover his still cupping her face as a tear drifted down her cheek.
“You’re right; I don’t understand this. I don’t understand where such passion, such intensity comes from or what it will all mean later, but…” Her voice trailed off and she bit her still-swollen lip as she paused, a thin veil of tears gathered in her eyes. “But I want to?” she finally concluded, her voice rising as if in question as she gazed into his eyes, blue and vulnerable but made strong by the intensity of his passion.
With a slight smile gracing her lips, she said softly, “There’s something about you, something that I can’t place but that I…I know, too. Somehow you seem familiar to me, too. It’s like you’re like a dream I can’t remember but that I lay awake at night desperately trying to recall. “
She lowered his hands from her face and clasped them in her lap.
“There is a strength in you that a part of me knows that I should fear, but I don’t. For some reason, that strength comforts me. I do fear the passion you seem to have for me, but only because I’m not exactly sure what to do with it or about it…,” her voice trailed off as she looked away for a long moment.
He held immobile, certain his heart was about to be shattered into irreparable pieces, until she turned her face to him once more, a light shining and dancing brightly in the mahogany depths.
Trying to find the words to express how she was feeling, especially when that feeling seemed to change every ten minutes, was annoying, but she had to make the attempt. “But I can’t bear the thought of not trying, you know? I’m scared of you, of the possibility of us, but I know you’ll be the one who keeps me safe. I know, that doesn’t make any sense, but there it is.” She shrugged and hoped he got the point.
“Yes,” he asked, needing to be certain he had heard her correctly, that he wasn’t imagining her saying what he so badly needed to hear.
With a tremulous smile, she repeated firmly, “Yes.”
Instantly he gathered her into his strong embrace and held her close. With a quiet but joyful laugh, she wound her arms around him as best she could and rested her head on his shoulder.
Heart surely soaring above the clouds, Godric could not remember a time when he had been happier, and instinctively started purring his pleasure.
A little while later, heads side-by-side one of her pillows as they had melted into an almost-chaste embrace in her bed, Cara stated with a smile in her voice, “I wish I could do that.”
“What,” he asked, wondering what she meant.
He laughed and hoped his arrogant male self-satisfaction didn’t come through too strongly. “All vampire males can purr in pleasure and contentment, or to comfort their Mate.” He lowered his face to her neck and lightly trailed his nose up and down her throat. “I am not sure if female vampires can,” he said, his breath cool against her neck, “but I assume it’s possible.”
Cara giggled as he ran his nose across a ticklish spot, and pulled away from him a little. Wanting to slow things down a bit, she changed the subject.
“So, where did Eric take Nat?”
Godric cringed for a moment, truly hoping in vain that she wouldn’t ask that specific question, but answered her quickly.
“He took him to one of the cells beneath TSO for safekeeping.”
Cara jerked back in surprise – that was not what she’d expected to hear.
“Cells? There are cells under TSO? Why?”
She drew back even farther to look at him, and Godric was vastly relieved to see only understandable curiosity in her lovely, slightly flushed face. That she placed her palm on his pec didn’t hurt, either.
“Eric is what is known in the vampire world as a Sheriff of this area. It is his duty to control and assist local vampires. Sometimes vampires must be punished for breaking the rules, and sometimes that punishment is to spend time in a cell. You know about drainers, yes?”
She nodded, and tried not to watch his tempting lips as he spoke.
Slightly smirking as he realized what she was doing, he continued.
“Well, many times vampires will come upon drainers before your human authorities do, and we will house them in cells until they can be picked up. Eric will keep him in there until we have no further need to question him.”
“I thought you were going to drain him earlier,” she said quietly, still not sure how she felt about that. Nat was her cousin, but he was also snake shit. At this point he’d be most useful as dinner for the vampire holding her. Speaking of…
“So, did my cousin taste good?”
Godric gave her a strange look at the change in subject, but went with it anyway.
“He tasted vile, but he is also not your relative,” he stated firmly. When he had tasted her blood, he could immediately tell that she was in no way related to the asshole, but that information had been shoved to the back of his mind as he had been inundated with her delicious flavor.
“Yeah, he is – he’s my dad’s older sister’s son.”
“No, Cara, I’m sorry but he is not of your blood.”
**A/N: Sorry it’s so long, but…there ya have it – a little action, a wee bit of humor, some romance… Whatja think?**