The Temper Trap
It took Sookie a moment to comprehend Roman’s last statement. It couldn’t have been what she thought she’d heard. There was no way her cousin… No, Hunter hadn’t been seen. That wasn’t possible, but as she stared at the Guardian, she realized that was exactly what he’d said.
“Where?” She asked, blurting out the single word question.
“Downtown Shreveport,” Roman replied. “Obviously he was meant to be seen. He was seen outside at a Starbucks.”
“Warlow will no doubt be close by,” Nora said as she rose from her chair and walked around her desk.
Eric leaned against the doorframe, ankles crossed with a contemplative look upon his face. What would Warlow gain from using Hunter other than an obvious trap?
“So it’s a trap,” Sookie said, voicing all their thoughts.
“What do you want to do?” Eric asked Sookie. He knew she wouldn’t abandon her cousin, but his question was twofold; in part he wanted and needed to assess her strategic thinking, thus giving her the opportunity to display her skill.
“Not going is not an option,” Sookie replied after a moment’s thought. She realized, as did everyone present that it was a trap. There was no denying it, but the question that remained was, what was the trap? “It’s clear this is a trap, and it’s obvious Warlow is aware we know it. We would be fools not to, so naturally he’ll have to be planning a countermeasure, but what could it be? I’m a little outta my depth here,” she admitted without shame. “I’m not sure what to do.”
Russell looked at her knowingly, pointedly. “Try harder,” he said to her. She needed to learn to strategize under pressure. She had to be able to work and determine the best course. He knew exactly what he would do under the circumstances and he knew she could come to that conclusion.
“Setting a trap would be just as expected as the one he’s set with Hunter. So…” Sookie trailed off as she thought it over. What should they do? “He would expect me, you, and Eric, perhaps Nora and Roman as well.” she added, her brows furrowed in thought.” Could we get some of our Weres here in time to help?”
“We could,” Eric replied, pulling out his phone.
“What about me?” Fintan asked. “The boy has telepathy, does he not?” He shifted his appearance, making himself look like a young boy, someone Susie’s age. “A Were could take me to the coffee shop,” he said, his voice high-pitched with boyish youth.
“That could work,” Sookie said with a nod of her head as plans slowly began to form in her mind.
Russell caught her eyes, indicating with a simple look that he had been hoping she would have come up with the idea of telepathy more readily.
Sookie gave her Maker a tight smile telling him she understood. She was quite embarrassed she hadn’t thought of it on her own. “What are the chances Warlow will have some of the fae with him?” She asked thoughtfully. “I’m thinking it’s unlikely, given the fact that faeries are like liquid cocaine to us vampires, but from what I’ve heard Warlow doesn’t really care about collateral damage as long as he gets what he wants.”
“I’ve been informed by my sources that Warlow has injured Niall in retribution for him allowing you to be turned. Niall is unlikely to be helping him, though we cannot discount it,” the young boy Fintan replied. He continued, “I do not want Susie involved. Warlow wants her as well. I won’t risk her. She’ll remain here with Thalia and a contingent of guards.”
“I agree,” Sookie said. “Susie is still grounded due to her behavior at the ball so there will be no problem with her remaining here.”
“When are we going?” Russell questioned.
“As soon as possible,” Sookie suggested, knowing waiting wasn’t really an option.
“Which Were?” Eric prompted.
“Quinn?” Sookie asked, looking to Russell for his agreement.
Russell thought for a moment before nodding. These local Weres were unfamiliar to him. He’d feel better knowing the Were and being able to easily gut him if anything went wrong.
“Take Quinn,” Sookie said. “He’s a decent fighter and does what he’s told.”
“How quickly can he get here?” Roman asked.
“Ten minutes at the most,” Sookie replied. “Russell has him nearby at all times.” Russell had stepped out to summon the weretiger.
“Then I suggest we all get ready,” Nora said.
Eric went to gather his broadsword and a lighter iron companion. While in the bedroom, he retrieved Sookie’s weapons and brought them to her.
“Thank you,” Sookie whispered, taking her weapons.
“Are you ready for this?” he asked her.
“I am,” Sookie answered, her voice coming out stronger as she hid an iron dagger on her body.
Eric didn’t plan on being highly visible unless he was needed so his sword was strapped to his back, a sight not often seen in Shreveport.
Taking an unneeded breath, Sookie shook away any nerves and prepared herself for what was to come. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but she was determined to get Hunter away from Warlow at all costs. A knock reverberated against the office doors as Nora’s current assistant led Quinn in.
Quinn offered all the vampires a nod of respect as he stopped in front of Russell. He fought the urge to cast his eyes over Sookie as he waited for his orders. “You will escort this boy to Starbucks. You will defend him with your life. That’s all you need to know.”
Quinn flicked his eyes over to the boy but said nothing. He, unlike some of the Weres who came before him, knew his place. He wouldn’t question Russell or Sookie, and, after his last punishment, he wouldn’t even look at her without permission.
“Let’s go,” Russell said, nodding to Roman, but his eyes flicked to Sookie as he pulled her aside before they went to the field.
“Well, this is clearly a trap,” Nora snorted as she laid eyes on Sookie’s cousin standing idly in the middle of the park.
“Quick, are you?” Eric said, teasing.
“John, I want a hot cocoa!” screeched the young-looking Fintan, pulling Quinn along with him into Starbucks.
“Quicker than you, brother,” Nora replied, fighting back a smile as she watched Fintan drag Quinn away. “Or have you forgotten about Venice in the 1780’s?”
“No, but I also haven’t forgotten about Spain in 1836.”
Nora’s eyes widened at the mention of Spain. “Yeah, we don’t need to mention that,” she faux coughed.
“I think I’m gonna wanna hear about both Venice and Spain later,” Sookie said with an amused smile.
Eric winced slightly before wrapping his long arms around her shoulders. “I’m sure there’s much more satisfying things to do besides talking about the past.”
“I wanna sit outside!” Fintan screeched. He sat down with the hot cup, sipping it slowly. He was able to see Hunter and speak with him mentally while dragging the clueless Quinn around. His short legs were kicking in the air, but he was enjoying tormenting the weretiger who had looked at Sookie a bit too long.
“I’ll get the story outta you one day,” Sookie said, her tone taking on a teasing quality. She smiled up at Eric as she wrapped her arm around his waist. “I suppose we should go and talk to Hunter.”
“That’s not the plan, Sookie,” Eric said softly. “I’m sure your grandfather is speaking with him.”
“He is,” Sookie replied, burrowing closer to Eric. “Hunter is also screaming in my head,” she added in barely a whisper. “He’s torn, Eric.”
“What’s going on?” he asked quickly.
“He feels guilty about something,” Sookie answered. “I can’t see what as he’s not making much sense. He’s… he’s torn…”
“Yet you want to go over there?” Eric replied harshly. “No.”
“He doesn’t want to be here,” Sookie continued, ignoring Eric’s tone.
“He was promised something…” Eric was typically a patient vampire, but the pressure of needing to be ready for an attack, protecting his Sookie, and saving the damn vampire race was making him snippy.
“What was he promised?” Nora asked calmly.
“I don’t know,” Sookie admitted frustratingly.
Eric was eyeing Fintan and Quinn, wondering if he was getting any more progress.
“He’s…” Sookie started and then trailed off as she felt an unfamiliar buzz in her head. She cocked her head to the side as she tried to tune into it, her brow furrowing in confusion.
“What’s wrong?” Eric asked, noting her expression.
“I’m getting something like static in my head,” Sookie replied, trying to describe what she was hearing. “It’s like trying to tune in a radio, but getting nothing but crackling.”
“Demons?” Russell questioned from where he had been standing quietly.
“No,” Sookie shook her head. “They hum. It’s almost like a fairy, but with a little twist.” Everyone tensed, ready to encounter the unknown being and fight if necessary. “It’s… It’s…”
DANANN!! Hunter screamed in her head in warning. Fintan’s eyes snapped open and turned to Sookie’s a moment too late.
Both Eric and Russell felt panic flare through Sookie’s blood as her eyes darted around the park, searching out for any visual sign of Warlow and his people.
“What?” they both questioned at the same time, glancing around.
“Danann,” Sookie said in explanation.
“Where?” Eric asked, knowing she could sense where a brain was, even if she couldn’t read its thoughts.
“Everywhere. They’re all around us,” Sookie cried, feeling them draw nearer. Eric drew his sword as he stood beside her. He knew she could hold her own in a fight so his focus would be on the battle if it came to it.
One by one a dozen Danann shimmed into view, their bodies covered in armor as they were surrounded the vampires. By the looks on their faces and the way they were wielding their weapons, they were not there to talk.
“This is going to be painful,” Nora moaned, eyeing a six-foot, black haired woman in front of her.
“For them,” Eric replied, crying out a battle call. Roman, Dieter, Molly, and other guards were stationed on the other side of the park. They heard the cry and began to swiftly approaching the surrounded vampires.
I’m sorry, Aunt Sookie, Hunter said telepathically before moving back out of view as the Danann stepped forward.
The other vampires were crossing the field, but still had a little ways to go when Eric chose that moment to act. He went for the closest one to him, ignoring that the Danann was taller and broader than him.
“Fuck!” Sookie swore as she pulled out her sword and leapt at the Danann to her right, leaving Nora with the six-foot Amazon.
Russell was fighting two at once as the others arrived. They were still outnumbered, but no longer being surrounded made their situation a little lighter.
The sound of steel on steel filled the air as blades clashed together. The scent of blood travelled on the wind, riling up the approaching guards as they dove into battle. They were a blur of movement, the Danann moving almost as fast as the vampires as they eliminated a few of the Were guards. The roar of the battle grew louder as bloodlust spread throughout the fighters.
Eric watched Sookie expertly using her light weapons, tearing at the Danann as they came after her, one after another. Eric couldn’t spend too much attention on her beyond reassuring himself that she was able to hold her own against her opponent.
The scent of death hung in the air and blood soaked into the earth as one Were after another fell to the blade of a Danann. For all their skill, the Weres were no match for Warlow’s people and they were easily slaughtered. Battle cries echoed through the night skies disturbing much of the wildlife in the trees as warriors on each side danced in the skirmish that was occurring unseen to the human eye.
The Danann moved with one single purpose; to destroy as many of the vampires who stood in the way of their leader. Warlow’s goals were their goals. He was their leader, their teacher, their warrior. They owed their lives to him.
Sookie moved with a skill far beyond someone her age. Her feet were light against the ground as she spun in a circle with her blades extended, cutting any Danann who got close to her. She used the surrounding light to conceal herself from view as she battled. Thirteen years ago, she hadn’t been able to fight to defend herself, but now she could. Now she was stronger and faster, now she could defend herself and those she loved.
As the battle raged, a sweet and tantalizing fragrance filled the air, captivating the vampires, and drawing their attention away from the Danann.
Sookie’s eyes widened in shock as the air shimmered around the park and faeries dressed in full battle armor appeared.
“Oh fuck!” Nora cursed as she saw the same thing.
The scent of the faeries carried on the wind tempted vampires and Weres alike. Eyes strayed from the Danann to the faeries as some of the lesser in control vampires inched forward, stalking the fae.
“This is not good,” Sookie moaned, shaking her head and trying to ward off the temptation that the fae provided. Her fangs throbbed painfully in her mouth and her eyes dilated as she eyed the fae. Just a taste, she thought, inching towards one of the fae warriors.
Warlow smirked as he watched the combat rage from the edge of the park. His eyes took in the carnage as he assessed his enemy. The Weres were of no consequence, and they fell quickly as they were no match for him and his people. The vampires, however, were slightly… slightly… more impressive. His mate had been taught well and she would do fine as his queen when he won her hand. Her Maker and the Norseman were well-trained warriors, he realized and he would enjoy clashing steel with them. They would be formidable opponents, but, in the end, they would fall to his blade. The Norseman’s sister held some skill, and she was easy on the eyes… I might spare her. After all, in addition to a queen, every king needs a concubine. She would do well as a royal whore. He wouldn’t have to hold back with either Sookie or Nora; he’d be able to sate his lust in all the ways he desired, the ways that even the Danann women couldn’t handle.
Yes, he realized, these vampires will be worthy adversaries. Yet, as all creatures, they held a weakness, and it wasn’t a stake or silver; those weaknesses could be avoided if they were skilled enough. This weakness was something they hadn’t realized or been prepared for, and it was one that would cost them their lives.
Pulling a dagger from a sheath on his thigh, Warlow strolled onto the battlefield, ignoring the fighting around him and walked up behind a fairy. Before anyone knew what was happening, Warlow pressed the blade of his dagger to the fairy’s neck and dragged it against his throat, slitting it in one smooth motion.
The reaction to the scent of fairy blood hitting the air was instantaneous. As soon as the first drop of fae blood was spilled, all vampire eyes snapped to the fae who was sliding out of Warlow’s arms. All rational thought left the minds of the vampires as their bloodlust amped up. They were consumed by their need for the intoxicating blood of the fairy.
Molly was the first one to act as she raced across the park in a blur, her body being driven by the undeniable desire to tear into the flesh of the fairy and sate her need. Her fangs were buried in the neck of the fairy before he even hit the ground. She was so consumed by her need she didn’t even notice the surrounding danger.
Warlow grinned down at the vampire as she tore into the dying fairy before lifting his gaze and casting it over the park. The vampires were in various states of bloodlust. Nora and Roman had trapped a fairy against a tree and were tearing it apart with their bare hands. Russell was fighting the pull of fairy blood better than any of them; he was shouting obscenities at the drunken vampires while he continued to battle the Danann.
A worthy adversary indeed.
As for his mate… Where are you my sweet Sookie? Warlow asked himself as he let his eyes roam over the spacious park. White hot anger shot through him as he set his sights on his mate and his eyes darkened in anger as they took in the sight of Sookie, wrapped half naked around an equally undressed Eric. Fairy dust lay at their feet and blood covered their bodies. Even under the deepest thrall of bloodlust, they were drawn to the other.
A terrifying roar was ripped from Warlow’s throat as he saw his mate offer herself so freely to the Viking in front of everyone. She was his; his mate, his woman. She was promised to him before she was even born. He owned every part of her and he would claim her for him alone. He would make her pay for whoring herself to the Viking. She would nourish him for centuries, seeing to his every need.
Reaching for the sword strapped to his back, Warlow pulled it from his sheath and gripped it tight in his hand. His eyes shone with murderous intent as he stared down at Molly who was still oblivious to the danger. A sick smile curled his lips as he raised his sword… Her blood would be the first to spill onto his blade tonight.