“Motherfucking perverted…ass end of a pig’s…cock sucking son of a…”
“Andre? You ok over there?” Eric finally asked the question knowing full well that he wasn’t anywhere near ok. The blond vampire was pacing at a dizzying speed within the confines of the safe house. Judging by the increasingly foul curses he’d been muttering under his breath for the past twenty minutes, Andre had a problem.
“Fuck no. I want to torture and kill that disgustingly repulsive bastard now so I can savor his blood spilling over my hands then spit on his remains so I can get the fuck back to my Mate.”
Ah, that’s right, he’s a newly-Mated vampire…Eric thought to himself. And this must be the first parting he’s had to endure for any length of time since their joining. Sucks ass doesn’t it, buddy, he thought to himself with the tiniest bit of schadenfreude, but replied aloud, “First night apart?”
He bore the Second’s withering glare with barely a smirk of his lips. Because of his somewhat more advanced age, Eric had risen almost fifteen minutes earlier than Andre and had taken the opportunity to find comfort in the Bond with his own Mate. Due to the distance between them it was lessened, of course, but it was still easily detected. Apparently Andre had not completed a third and binding Bond with his Emma as of yet, and was suffering the loss of that assurance. Remembering the other needs that one’s own Mate could satisfy, the Bond was most likely not the only thing he was missing.
Despite Eric’s attempt to retain an impassive façade, Andre did catch that smirky little slip, but chose to let it pass even as he glared at the elder vampire. He knew he was in the process of settling a fraction of the debt he undoubtedly owed Madame Karma, but that didn’t mean he had to enjoy it. This excruciating separation from his Mate was much more disconcerting than he had anticipated; it was almost physically painful. He wasn’t accustomed to feeling that strange emptiness in his chest, and he wasn’t planning to get used to it, either.
During their flight over and then the drive to the safe house, he had felt the Bond becoming increasingly fainter, but sunrise was approaching so quickly that he didn’t have much time to contemplate the growing hole in his chest. He and the rest of the team had secured one of the monarchy’s lightproof safe houses in that section of the state, set up as best they could in preparation for the coming night’s activity, and had gone to rest. The weakness of the Bond hadn’t been quite as obvious during all the hustle and bustle.
When he had risen that evening, he felt as he were missing an unfathomably large part of himself. He knew instinctively that it was his Emma’s presence – he was too far apart from her and his body and his psyche were aching to return to her side. How could he protect her, defend her and comfort her, when he was so far away?
Logically he knew that between Sigebert, his Maker’s own guards, the Were guards assigned to her door, and her own Were maid that her protection was adequate, but her protection was his honor and duty. His. It was his honor and duty to see to her health and comfort, too. And he was too far away to be of any use. What if something happened and she got hurt? While he trusted his brother-by-Maker to hold to his word and change her if it came to that, the thought of any other being her Maker, even in potential, galled him deeply. She was his and he wasn’t even there. Fucking BeauChamps and his fucking perversions and his fucking arrogant asse’d attitude!
He sighed. He could sense her enough to know she was alive, and that she seemed to be comfortable. Well, he comforted himself, there were no strong spikes of fear or pain, at any rate.
Granted he had become quite happily accustomed to rising in more ways than one near her, usually curled around her warm, sleeping body, but this loss… It irritated him that he missed just knowing that she was there, whether she was in his bed or in the room she called a den or wherever, still, she was…there.
He wondered if she felt as lost as he did.
He kicked an annoying chair out of his way as he continued pacing. He had never expected to feel this way toward anyone, ever, much less such a fragile, breakable human. But he did, more deeply than he could easily comprehend, and it galled the ever-loving shit out of him that he had to leave her for anything longer than a couple of hours.
BeauFuckingChamps was going to pay for more than his committed and intended crimes against his Mate this night. The fucking bastard was going to pay for making him have to leave his Emma.
He heated himself another disgusting True Blood that was too near its “dispose by” date for his taste, mentally plotted appropriate punishments for the so-called caretaker of this house for not replenishing the stock more frequently, and slumped back down onto the hard, cold cot that was supposed to have been a bed. The fucking mattress was barely ten inches thick for fuck’s sake! His back at home was…
“How do you handle it,” he blurted out to Eric before he could stop himself. He then intently studied the bottle in his hand.
“I cannot say it gets any easier, because it doesn’t, but you do become less surprised by the discomfort,” was his blunt answer.
“Can you still feel yours?” He brushed invisible dust from his tight black leather pants then retied the leather cord securing his blond hair away from his face.
“Yes, not as strongly as I would like, but I can still feel her life force and the strongest of her emotions.” Eric shook his head when Andre huffed a short growl then jumped up from the cot. He began pacing once again, but with a slightly ill look marring his refined features.
Eric found that, oddly, he felt somewhat badly for the vampire currently raising dust as he pounded his black leather boots along the floor. As a “Master Torturer” he wasn’t used to having to practice any sort of patience; as a Mate, he would need to learn. He could hear the other team members starting to stir around in other parts of the house and wanted to provide at least some measure of assurance before it came time for the night’s purpose to begin.
“Once you are fully and completely Bonded,” he added, “you will be able to sense both her life force and her emotions much farther away than you can now. Can you sense anything?”
Andre paused to concentrate on what he could feel, and Eric’s face involuntarily softened for an instant as the Viking noted, and understood, the fleetingly peaceful expression that crossed Andre’s face.
“I sense that she lives, and that she is experiencing no strong emotions. I can tell that she is awake, but nothing more.”
Eric raised his brows. “I’m surprised you could sense that much without having completed the third and final Bond.”
“It makes that much of a difference?” Andre didn’t know that much about bonds; mainly he knew that if you ended one Mate you had best end the other as a Mate in the throes of grief could be damnably annoying.
“Yes, it makes all the difference,” came Eric’s solemn response. Then, to lighten the atmosphere, he added with a smirk, “And it makes the joinings that much more…satisfying.”
The wolfish look of anticipation that settled on Andre’s face put Eric’s mind somewhat at ease. At least the “Master Torturer” was no longer pacing. Just one last thing…
“Did you check your phone for messages? Your Emma wanted you to know that she is fine.”
He barely managed to control his laugh as the younger vampire immediately grabbed his muted phone. After he had risen and immediately felt for his Bonded that afternoon, Eric had then checked his phone and had been very pleased to find several messages from his Sookie. Thankfully they were mostly inanities designed to put to rest any worries he might have had over her in his absence – separations such as these weighed heavily on both of them, and each had ways of easing the other’s discomfort – but one message was specifically to ask him to tell Andre that Emma was doing fine.
Andre was mentally kicking himself for not thinking to check for any messages from Emma even as he pushed the appropriate buttons with barely-controlled impatience. He had stressed to her the importance of not placing any actual calls because they had no way of knowing what kind or strength of detection devices fucking BeauChamps might have. And, while they had brought their own jamming equipment, it could not be activated until they were at the house in question. To disrupt their outside communications beforehand would risk alerting them to their presence.
Even he was surprised by how very deeply pleased he was to find so many messages waiting for him. It seemed his Emma had missed him as well.
“I lied – 1 more: I love you. Be careful. Kick his ass hard. Come home. ♥”
“Last msg, I promise (for now): Good luck tonight & I hope you come on home. Warning: If you don’t, there’ll be more msgs!”
“Early dinner b/c I’m bored. Tracy brought us 10 lbs of bbq ribs. A mess will be made – a delicious, delicious mess…”
“SA and Sigebert hung out with me, Sookie, & Tracy last night. We played Yatzy. I hate that stupid game. YOU OWE ME!”
“Lunchtime! B/c you needed to know that…”
“Hey babe, just want to wish you luck for tonight. Couldn’t sleep well w/o you so I got up. Sookie and Tracy are here.”
“This bed feels wrong w/o you in it. It’s too warm. & big. I miss you, dammit. Hope this is all over tomorrow night.”
“I can barely feel you.”
“How far away ARE you? You feel so far away.”
“You’re probably asleep for the day by now. I’m getting ready to go to bed. It feels weird w/o you here. Good-day, honey. I miss you.”
“Oops, realized 2 late that you might not like txt-spk what w/ English being your 9th? 12th? language, so I’ll resend the msg.”
“Ur prolly asl’p 4 day by now. I’m get’n rdy 2go2 bed. Felz weird w/o u here. Gd-day, hon. I miss u.”
Eric watched in silent commiseration as Andre’s normally stoic expression slowly fell from relieved delight to wretched misery. The scent of bloody tears didn’t escape his notice as the tall vampire suddenly stalked off to the bathroom.
Standing at the sink after cleaning his face, Andre re-read each precious message, savoring them one by one as he committed them to memory. The silly ones made him smile; the more poignant ones brought forth another tear. He hadn’t realized what they were at first until he felt one tickle his cheek; that was when he had headed to the bathroom to endure his misery in private.
Never before had he come so close to breaking his own radio silence rule. He ached to call her, to hear her voice, to know she fared well at that exact moment, but, fists and jaws clenched as he bowed over the sink, he tempered the urge. Better to suffer now than possibly risk the mission and therefore her life.
Eventually he heard the slight noises indicating that everyone was gathering in the large room, and fought to pull himself together. He washed his face one last time, and let the anticipation of ending his enemies in excruciatingly painful ways straighten his spine and heat his blood.
Ahh, there it is, he thought with satisfaction as he felt that old familiar fire tingle through his blood and muscles. He caught his reflection in the mirror for a brief second, and approved of his stone cold visage.
As the sun sank below the horizon, a different vampire entered the main room to find the team gathered in preparation. This vampire stood tall, his broad shoulders were squared, and a cold blaze was burning bright in his now dark green eyes. He was ready to eviscerate all who would threaten his Mate.
Eric nodded in approval. This was the Andre he expected, the proud, intensely focused, vicious Andre of world renown. He knew they were going home bloody and victorious this night.
**A/N: A short chapter, but I wanted to set the emotional scene before the upcoming fight. How did you like the conversation between Andre and Eric?
Also, don’t forget to vote for your favorite writers (and me!!) and fics (and mine!!) in the Fanatic Fanfics Awards – voting ends April 14th, 2014!
Finally, I have about two-thirds of the next/(last?) chapter of Valentine’s Night written…but am considering trashing it and starting over…again. I’m going to blame the Muse even though it’s really my allergies making my brain fog up and stall out.