**A/N: Since it’s been a while, here’s a bit from the last chapter to get us back on course. After that, there’s a bit of a time jump, but it’s not much. We wouldn’t have missed anything important, lol.**
“Will you Pledge with me, and rule by my side as my Bonded and Pledged?”
Emma, heart pounding and vision blurred with tears of joy and the effects of Andre’s own near euphoria surging through the bond, nodded. She hurriedly dashed the tears away and announced with a trembling voice, “Yes!”
Andre rose and cupped her face with his hands, and slowly, reverently, kissed his now formally pre-Pledged love. Long moments later he leaned his forehead against hers, and sighed.
It was done; she had agreed.
He had given her a choice, and she had chosen him.
Suddenly impatient for her to wear the gift from his heart, he raised her left hand and removed the ring for protection from her finger and, ignoring her gasp, immediately placed it upon the ring finger of her right hand.
Quickly he opened the old leather pouch and poured the slightly more ornate ring into the palm of his hand. He realized that he would probably have to have it fitted to her finger, but he could wait no longer to give it to her as a symbol of their promise to Bond and Pledge.
This ring was also crafted of diamonds, gold, and a large ruby. The diamonds, flanking each side of a ruby larger than the nail of the finger that would soon wear it, sparkled while the old gold of the band provided the perfect muted background. The fine, clean lines of the ring from his heart gleamed as if in appreciation of its impending service. Long ago and far away, in a trade route village in the Caucasus Mountains considered ancient even then, the ring had caught his eye one night, and on impulse he had purchased it for what he had thought a fair price.
At the time he hadn’t known why he had felt the need to acquire such a thing, but now he did.
He lifted her left hand again and smoothed his thumb across the currently bare area on her finger, then after a moment he lifted her hand to his lips, and kissed where his ring would rest.
With sure movements he gladly slid his gift home. Somehow, just as with the other ring, it fit perfectly. Their bond sang between them with love, adoration, and a deep satisfaction.
He looked up into her beaming, tear-streaked face, then frowned.
“You’re not going to, um, swoon, are you?”
*cue time jump*
The blackness surrounding Emma slowly gave way to gray, then faded as the pain in her head hit with the sudden force of a sledgehammer. Something tickled the side of her face but when she tried to raise her hand, she couldn’t immediately move it. That was odd…it was as though her hands were…
Instinctively she stilled her efforts and concentrated on her surroundings.
According to the unforgiving hardness and the smell, she was lying on the floor, and the floor was dank and moldy. Small furtive movements proved that both her hands and her ankles were bound. She wasn’t sure, but a slight wiggle made her think that her attackers might have used duct tape. She fervently hoped that’s what they had used because several months ago she had been aimlessly scrolling through a video site and had stumbled upon an instructional piece detailing how someone could potentially break the binding of duct tape in just this type of situation. She doubted it would work, but at least it was a vague hope.
Further investigation proved that her mouth wasn’t taped, which struck her as odd. While she was grateful for that small mercy, it stood to reason that perhaps her captors hadn’t bothered because they knew no one would be around to hear her calling for help.
Before she risked opening her eyes much less trying to move, however, she needed more information, even if the pounding in her head was making rational thought frustratingly difficult. Rising fear and other aches and pains were making themselves uncomfortably known, too, which wasn’t helping her concentration.
Emma inhaled and exhaled slowly and lightly, and tried to force herself to relax as best she could, before concentrating on listening to her current environment. When she heard no obvious noises, she strained to hear what she could detect, but other than the faint, slow drip of what she assumed must be water and the low hum of what could be a fan, there were no other sounds.
That lack of sounds pricked her logic. New Orleans was in no way a quiet city, so she had to have either been taken a good distance away, been placed in a sound-proof room, or was in some sort of space below ground level.
New Orleans was also a very wet city with a high water table and a proclivity toward flooding…basements were extremely rare, but the dank fustiness of the air made her wonder.
When further concentration proved that all seemed still and quiet, she dared to barely open her eyes, and sighed. Naturally the room was pitch black.
She blinked her eyes a few times as if that would magically enable her to see better, then stared in a bit of shock when it actually seemed to work. Several feet away lay a faintly glowing form…a human form tossed on the floor in the same careless way she was.
The longer Emma stared, the more she could identify, and she gasped when she realized she had been looking at Sookie. The blonde was on her back and judging by the dark lines interrupting that faint glow around her hands on her chest and her feet from what she could see, she was also bound.
While the room was dark, the faint glowing from her friend allowed her to see by the lack of dark outlines between them that the space separating their bodies was clear. Emma debated trying to move over to be closer to Sookie. Her hands and feet were bound, true, but only to each other. Despite the worsening pain, if she straightened out completely, with her core body strength and some momentum she should be able to roll and shuffle over to her.
However, if the kidnappers returned and saw that she had moved, they would know that she’d woke up, and it might be better to play dead, as it were, for now.
Despite her need for the comfort of being near her bestie, she would wait. The barely noticeable rise and fall of her hands on her chest proved that Sookie was at least alive, and that reassurance would have to do for the moment.
The aching in her head seemed to be getting worse, but before she gave into it, she located that ‘different’ place in her mind where the bond was, and concentrated on calling Andre as hard as she could. When all she received was a muted sense of nothingness, she had to conclude that it was still mid-afternoon.
Well, it wasn’t as though he could rush out into the sunshine and save her ass, but at least it hadn’t been all that long since she and Sookie had been kidnapped. While that knowledge didn’t help much, it did help her to calm the edges of the panic that threatened to rise.
Even better, she tried to convince herself, if it was still the same day, it shouldn’t be too long until Andre rose…a definite plus. The last time-check she could remember was at around 2:30 pm, just after she and Sookie had entered their favorite cafe and a little while before they had gone to the restroom to freshen up after placing their orders.
Moreover…if it really was still the same day and if Andre was still in his dayrest, then they couldn’t have been taken too far given the lack of travel time.
As Emma eased around trying to find a slightly less uncomfortable position, she wondered what the guards were doing. Andre was going to be pissed as fuck, but she hoped he didn’t take it out on them. It wasn’t their fault that the restroom section of the cafe wasn’t safe.
Thinking back, all she could remember was coming out of the Ladies’ Restroom into the short hallway that lead from the main dining area to the facilities and to a door at the end of the hall that, she guessed, led to the back of the cafe…and then nothing until she woke up. From the pounding in her head, someone must have hit her hard enough to knock her out and cart her off through the back of the cafe, and from the aches and pains in her body, they hadn’t handled her very carefully afterward, either. She just hoped they’d been easier on Sookie.
Andre and Eric are going to be so pissed.
The whole thing was quite exasperating, she thought with a grimace. She and Sookie had been being so damn careful, never going anywhere without their guards, always checking twice and three times before entering or leaving anywhere, always so cautious…
And now this.
Fuckin’ A, she thought as she squirmed around trying to find that elusive less-uncomfortable position. The pledging and coronation are in a week – there’s simply no time to deal with being kidnapped!
Then her stomach grumbled sickeningly. Naturally they would be taken before having a chance to eat, but at least that meant her bladder wasn’t screaming yet. Some food on her stomach might have made the roiling nausea from the headache less severe.
Instead of giving into the need for a good cry, she searched beyond the increasing headache for her bond with her vampire, and called him again with as much force as she could muster. Her thoughts were growing hazy but for some reason she decided to try calling to Eric on behalf of Sookie who couldn’t. Emma had no idea if it would work or if Sookie would mind, but in her desperation she had to try.
Her last thoughts as the darkness returned was that she was sad that Sookie couldn’t contact Eric herself, and she wondered whether the sun had set yet. There’s no telling how long we’ve been here. Andre is going to be so pissed…
Andre wasn’t pissed. He wasn’t livid. He was volcanic.
Emma hadn’t realized it but the first time she had nudged him through the bond she had disturbed his downtime enough to fully waken him with her second, more assertive, call.
Upon his unexpected return to consciousness, Andre was aware of three things at once: it was earlier in the day than he normally rose; the bond with his Emma revealed that she wasn’t in the Palace; and she had been terrified when she had reached out to him.
He concentrated with all his strength on sensing her, and he could only tell that she lived, that she hurt, and that she was to the west of the Palace.
The familial bond between himself, his Maker, and his Brothers-by-Turning was flooded with such rage that all three rose in shock from their dayrest.
Within seconds Andre was dressed and en route to the main security center, his phone to his ear as he called the guards who were meant to prevent exactly this sort of thing.
If they weren’t dead already, they soon would be.
When he was joined by a similarly furious Northman, the pit of his stomach fell a bit further.
“None of the fucking guards are answering,” he snarled to the tall blond as they strode in tandem. Andre ignored the bond-sent queries from Sophie-Anne as he kept calling numbers for different guards.
As he slammed open the door to Security, he asked the Viking, “”Sookie called you?” Andre hated to admit it, but he hoped that Sookie was with Emma so that she wouldn’t be alone wherever the fuck she was. Plus if she was conscious, she would be able to protect and tend to Emma who obviously wasn’t.
The fucking sun was still fucking shining so there was no fucking way he could fucking look for his fucking woman! The frustration was eating him alive.
He dialed the were-maid’s number. She could…
“No,” Eric replied, his own snarls growing in intensity with worry and confusion. “Emma did.”
Andre, poised to stand before a large bank of monitors, whipped around to face the slightly older vampire.
“I can’t sense Sookie beyond feeling that she still lives. Your Emma was the one who woke me.” Even through the vampire’s fury and fear over his missing mate, Andre could hear and see Eric’s shock over such an unprecedented event.
His heart sank even farther with the knowledge that Sookie couldn’t be tending to Emma even as the truth behind Eric’s words fired through his brain.
Only one’s bonded could access a bond.
Emma was in no way bonded with Eric, yet she had somehow…
Still holding the Northman’s intense gaze, Andre barked into the phone as Tracy answered, “Security. Now.”
**AN: Ok, so, what did you think? /ducks/ Hope you liked it!**