**A/N: Yeah, so NOW they’re both being little chatter-boxes… *sigh* Children…**
Two afternoons later, Emma had had enough. Andre had not only continued avoiding the talk, he had started treating her even more like a delicate flower on the verge of breaking.
The previous night had also made the fifth in a row where he hadn’t ‘touched’ her. Cuddling was nice; cuddling was sweet and wonderful; cuddling was necessary to a deeply binding emotional commitment; cuddling, however, was not always…enough.
Emma paced and pondered inside their bedroom as she waited for him to rise. She knew something strange was going on with him, and with Eric, too.
During the previous evening while ‘the boys’ were off doing whatever it was they did while Eric and Sookie visited the Palace, which was much more often these days, she had made a point to speak with Sophie-Anne privately. Maybe she knew something?
Come to find out, the Queen, her Andre’s own Maker, didn’t know what was going on, either. At first she had been her own flippant self and simply accredited his actions to being busy getting ready to take over his new Kingdom should he ever give in and let her crown him.
Somehow Emma knew that wasn’t the root of all the problems, and after she took the time to describe her observations, how he was treating her as if she were made of spun glass, Sophie-Anne realized that something really was going on, but still didn’t have any idea as to the cause. She did relay one telling piece of information, something that truly shocked Emma: Andre had given Sigebert a large vial of his blood before he had left to end BeauChamps.
The Queen had scented the blood of her Child on the huge blond mountain that night, but had held her peace. The next evening, however, she had cornered him to find out what was going on just as any good Maker would do. The reasoning behind Andre and Sigebert’s safety measures had brought a proud mother’s tears to her eyes. Of course she had been a bit miffed at first that Andre hadn’t chosen her to Turn Emma should anything go wrong, but in the end had to agree with Sigebert’s stilted logic. After all, baby vamps did require so much time and attention…
She had laughed at the brunette’s shock upon hearing of Andre’s precautions, and her words still rang in Emma’s mind: “Ah, ma petite, did you really think he’d let you get away from him so easily? Whether he has realized it or not, he has searched for one such as you his entire life – both of them. Now that you are in his arms, why would he risk losing you to something as silly as death?” After delivering that bomb, the sophisticated red-head had fluttered away as though she hadn’t just disrupted her friend’s entire world view.
At first Emma hadn’t known exactly what to think. Naturally she had thought about “the whole vampire thing” since she was involved with one, but those ponderings had been brief and far between. So much had been going on at that time and he had so quickly become such a part of her life that the standard rules of becoming involved had no longer applied.
Even after Sookie had secretly told her about the conversation between Eric and Andre during that mission, she had decided to wait for Andre to bring it up before giving it too much time in her brain. She had mentally started a list of questions of course, but really, that was as far as she’d gotten. Lately she had been more concerned about the vampires’ odd over-protectiveness, not to mention Sigebert’s sad funk and Wybert’s sweetly blooming relationship with what’s-her-name, and then there was Tracy’s relationship with Rasul, and of course the Queen’s over-planned party, and then there was her own theoretically upcoming Queenship… Combine all that with all the other things going on and her mental “wondering about other things” time had been sorely limited.
But now…now she knew that she had to give the idea some serious thought, and then she had to corner the male in question.
On a whim she texted Sookie to let the blonde know that the situation was being investigated that night, and was certain her friend would get a laugh out of the three-word message: “Bull, horns, tonight”.
Then she decided that she should eat before taking said bull by said horns, and called Tracy for a meal. After taking a nice if noticeably quiet late lunch with her in the living room, she released her friend for the night. Tracy’s face had fallen, showing both her confusion and her sorrow at being told to leave so early, but Emma politely held firm.
The day before she had courteously if bluntly asked Tracy if she knew why “the guys” – including her own Rasul – had been increasingly over-protective even after BeauChamps’ death, and Tracy had shook her head…but Emma hadn’t been entirely convinced by her negation.
Tracy herself had been being more ‘security conscious’.
It saddened her that she suddenly felt as though she couldn’t completely trust someone she’d thought of as a good friend, but then she called herself a fool for thinking in those terms. No matter how well she and Tracy got along, Tracy was still an employee and had to follow her employer’s orders first no matter what her own personal wishes might be. Emma tried a little harder to subdue that lurking feeling of betrayal.
If something was going on, and judging by all the clues something was definitely up, why was the truth being purposefully kept from her?
It made no sense. She wasn’t stupid or foolish; she wasn’t flighty or prone to over dramatizing anything; she wasn’t weak or some sort of wilting flower needing to be shielded. It made no sense to exclude her.
It especially made no sense to exclude a certain blonde telepath.
Well, she was going to get some answers tonight, and she was also going to burst his little ‘plausible deniability’ bubble, too.
She returned to the bedroom a few minutes before she knew Andre would rise, sat in a chair turned to face the bed, and waited.
A couple of minutes later her big blond vampire rose as normal – suddenly and with no humanesque yawning or stretching, or even blinking. He changed from being literally dead to the world to awake and ready for action in the blink of an eye.
Although she couldn’t be sure, she had always suspected that immediately after “coming to” he would pause for a moment to take in his surroundings for survival reasons before letting it be known that he was awake.
This afternoon, however, he sat up immediately and looked around until he spotted her.
The one “waking up” sign that he had was his ‘morning voice’. It was always a little husky from disuse, a little rough, infinitely sexy. She was glad to be sitting down.
“Why are you sitting over there? Why aren’t you in bed?”
Andre was confused, and he never liked being confused. He was now accustomed to rising with Emma at least by his side if not actually in his arms, and today she wasn’t. He really didn’t like that – she was supposed to be with him.
He moved to sit on the side of the bed and immediately scanned her face and body, and while he neither saw nor scented anything out of the ordinary, her usually mobile features were placid.
He tensed, sensing that despite his and the Northman’s best efforts, the ‘game’ was up. Only, it wasn’t a game.
“It appears we need to have a little talk, and while our bed is now colder than it used to be, I still think some physical distance between us is for the best.”
He shivered minutely. Her voice was sweet, polite, and dripping with ire.
Not a good combination.
What the hell was he supposed to tell her, the truth?
He resigned himself to becoming stoic in hopes that she would first reveal the extent of her knowledge, or at least the degree of her speculation. Once he knew that, he would then know where to start and how much, if anything, he had to reveal to satisfy her need to know.
The problem, however, was that he wasn’t sure what exactly she was on about, and there were several things he truly needed to tell her.
Andre was torn. She had a right to know what was going on, but he just didn’t want to have these conversations. He didn’t want her to worry – he never wanted to see fear in her eyes again.
He also didn’t want her to look at him that way.
“Now,” she said, appearing perfectly at ease even though her brown eyes appeared to flash with fire. “What is going on with all the over-protection, security over-kill crap? Something is definitely going on because you’re not one to mess around. And,” she said a little louder when he started to shake his head, “don’t even bother shaking your head at me, big guy. I know something’s up. Why would you leave me defenseless by not telling me what I need to know?”
Affronted shock crossed his features.
“I’m not leaving you defenseless, Emma, I’ve doubled your guards.”
Bingo, she thought.
“And why would you double my guards if there’s nothing going on?”
Irritated that he’d been caught by his own words, Andre rose and dressed in a flash as he tried to think of a way to diffuse the situation.
When he finished, he looked around for her and saw her leaning back against the door leading to the living room, her arms folded but with a sweet smile teasing at her lips.
He was silently, sweetly, and devilishly trapped. He could move her out of the way and leave, of course, but at what cost?
With a bit of an inadvertent snarl he began pacing. He didn’t want to worry her, but…
If he was going to be having these conversations, he was going to damn well do it with her in his arms where she fucking belonged.
Emma wasn’t surprised when he headed toward her and scooped her up in his arms, but when he all-but stomped back over to the bed and settled down with her in his lap, she was definitely pleased. She had figured that tears, chisels, hammers, and fireworks would be needed, but this was infinitely better, and slid an arm around his waist and savored being held firmly in his strong arms.
She wiggled around a little to better see him, then asked softly, “Andre…sweetheart, what’s going on?”
A long minute passed before he replied, “That’s just the thing. We don’t know. We’ve heard vague whispers from several trusted sources, but so far we have nothing concrete.”
“Whispers about what? Does this have to do with someone wanting revenge for BeauChamps?” Somehow, according to the way he was acting, it was more than just that, but she couldn’t think of anything else.
“Yes,” he agreed, his voice almost certain.
“There’s more, though, right?” She reached over with her free hand to tuck some hair behind his ear.
He ducked his head and rested his forehead on her shoulder.
Emma was starting to feel more fear and dread than irritation at being left in the dark. She took a deep breath, then exhaled gustily.
“I don’t know about other people, but to me at least not knowing will always be worse than knowing. You get that about me, right? If I’m kept in the dark then I have no idea how to prepare for whatever the problem is. But, if you tell me, well, not only will I be able to help prepare for whatever it is, but honey, worries shared are worries halved. Talk to me, Andre. Let me in.”
He raised his head and kissed her temple, his lips lingering for a long moment, before he straightened up. His entire demeanor changed. He didn’t want to frighten her, or make her feel forced into making any sort of decision based on the upcoming information, but she deserved to know so that she could face the night with strength and knowledge.
“You know I’m to become King of Arkansas,” he stated, and waited for her nod. “And you know that you are to become my Queen.”
Emma nodded again, still confused as to why these facts were relevant, but listened closely.
“Vampires are the worst gossips, therefore everyone already knows about both of these upcoming events. Vampires,” his voice lowered in derision, “can also be the most bigoted, narcissistic, egotistical species on this planet.”
Andre’s fangs descended with a low, rumbling growl. “These same sources have brought to my attention the fact that there are several factions who vehemently object to having a human queen.”
**A/N: Thoughts? Comments? Spare pizza cause, you know, I could eat…?*