The second Eric stepped into The Gersemi he knew something was wrong. The atmosphere was tense, and his most trusted child was waiting by the reception desk, not seeing to the extra security as she said she would. Laelia was a stickler for duty, and she would never just blow it off for a chat with the receptionist in the way she was doing at present. His eldest was nothing like Pam, she took her duties and role as the King’s second seriously.
Skimming his eyes over the hotel lobby, Eric noted the presences of the extra guards as well as a vampire with whom he was not familiar. The vampire in question wasn’t a resident of New York and his presence in the hotel gave Eric pause. There was something about him that was off, perhaps it was merely his instinct falsely misleading him, but The King knew without a doubt, the vampire wasn’t there to simply enjoy the amenities of the hotel. Eric was on high alert even as he adopted an expression of nonchalance. Moving his gaze to his driver, Felicia, Eric gave her a once over, eye-fucking her before jerking his head toward the elevators. He grinned when he watched her put an extra swing in her hips as she walked toward the elevators.
To the unassuming eye, it looked as if the King’s driver was just about ready to enjoy the pleasure of his much reputed and impressive sexual skills. While Felicia was no stranger to those well-rumored skills, their little act hid what they were truly planning. In addition to being his driver, Felicia was well-skilled at diversions, she could draw the attention of anyone when she put her mind to it.
Out of the corner of his eye, Eric noticed while Laelia made her way into the offices behind the reception area, and he waited until she closed the door behind her before following Felicia to the elevators. He could feel the eyes of the unknown vampire on his back watching his every move, so he fell into the role of playboy King with ease. Stepping up beside Felicia, Eric placed his hand low on her back before dropping it lower and grabbing her ass. He smirked as he listened to her let out a girlish giggle. The sound wasn’t something the dark-haired beauty usually made, being more of the husky screamer type.
“Your Majesty,” Felicia simpered as she moved in front of Eric and turned to face him. She licked her lips while she peered up at him through darkened lashes. She oozed sexuality while she gave him her most lusty smile. Despite her often simple approach to things, Felicia was as devious and deadly as they came. In addition to being the King’s personal chauffeur, the exotic-looking beauty also doubled as one of his guards. Felicia could kill a man a dozen different ways before he even took a step, a skill she had learned from her Maker, Salome.
Still, as deadly as she was, Felicia preferred the more cerebral forms of combat. Her skills leaned more toward spying and divergence than physical combat. She feigned a jolt of surprise when the elevator dinged, signaling its arrival. Tossing her hair over her shoulder, Felicia retreated slowly into the elevator. From her vantage point, she could see the strange vampire watching them intently, and she smiled at Eric while she hooked her fingers into the thin material of her dress, pulled the strips covering her breasts to the side, exposing them to both Eric and the vampire who continued to watch them.
A growl built in Eric’s chest and he stalked forward, pushing the button to close the doors while he backed Felicia up against the wall of the elevator. His hands flew to Felicia’s bare breasts, and he squeezed them, hard, plucking at her nipples while he waited for the doors to close. The second the doors slid shut, Eric pulled away and fished his keycard out of his pocket, sliding it into the slot on the control panel, and pressed the button for the penthouse.
Felicia covered herself up and straightened her dress while she waited for the elevator to take them to the Eric’s penthouse suite. She knew better than to say anything in the elevator as any of the vampires in the hotel could overhear them.
They rode up to the penthouse in silence, both of them on high alert, preparing for any possible attack. Once the elevator reached the penthouse, Felicia stepped out first, checking to make sure all was secure even though the elevator opened directly into the penthouse. “The room is clear,” she said her voice low and even. She took up position behind Eric while he strolled out into the living area.
“We had an early arrival,” Laelia said while she seated herself opposite her Maker. “Queen Cale arrived a short time ago. She’s traveling light, only two others with her. A woman, I believe to be her day person, and a vampire…”
“The one in the lobby,” Eric guessed, interrupting her while he leaned back on the sofa. He couldn’t say he was surprised that Virginia had shown up early. He had suspected she would show up before everyone else, but he had wrongly assumed she would make more of a song and dance about it. He had been expecting a larger party, not just a human and vampire. Eric wasn’t sure if her small party screamed confidence or stupidity. She was a quarter his age, barely three-hundred years old, and she was no threat to him physically. Showing up in his territory with only two guards, one of them a human, screamed stupidity. However, due to Pam’s interference and betrayal, Virginia wasn’t flying blind. She had information, the full scope of that information was yet unknown to Eric, therefore, it was entirely possible for her to have knowledge of things that could damage him.
Laelia nodded her head. “I believe he was instructed to stay in the lobby and wait for your arrival.” She had been observing the vampire from the second he sat down in the lobby, and, although he gave no outward sign of his job, Laelia could see that he was waiting for someone’s arrival. Given what she had uncovered regarding Pam and Katherine earlier that night, it didn’t take a genius to realize for whom he was waiting. “He hasn’t moved from the lobby, yet shortly after you got on the elevator, I watched him send a message on his phone,” Laelia continued. “I can’t be sure, but I believe it’s safe to assume that message was sent to Virginia informing her of your arrival. I arranged for a guard to remain in the lobby to keep an eye on him as well as the guards in the Security room.”
The King’s second had seen to the Security personally before she had taken the secret set of stairs leading to the penthouse. The stairs were known only to her and Eric, and were located in Eric’s private office inside the hotel.
“What of Katherine?” Eric asked, wanting to know what his child had done to monitor the Virginia Queen. He knew her well enough to know she hadn’t left the Queen unmonitored.
“I had Cale put in room 904 on the 20th floor,” Laelia replied, leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees. “It’s one of our more luxurious suites. It’s also bugged…”
“Something I’ve no doubt she suspects,” Eric countered, hoping she wasn’t relying on simple listening devices in the suite. He would be sorely disappointed if that was the case. He had taught her much better than that. “Katherine may be young, but she is not stupid. She will find and disable the bugs.”
“She already has,” Laelia replied with a smirk that screamed, ‘I know something you don’t.’ “Cale found the bugs planted in the lighting fixtures, the headboard, and telephone. She destroyed them as I suspected she would. However, those weren’t the only bugs in the room. Molly and Dante designed a new surveillance device that is virtually undetectable…”
“Virtually?” Felicia questioned from her spot behind Eric.
“Yes, it gives off a very low humming sound that is even difficult for vampire hearing to pick up,” Laelia explained. She had tested the device numerous times both personally and on other vampires. Only a few had been able to pick up the sound. She hadn’t been able to hear it herself, but the Head of Security had as well as the Kingdom’s accountant. “I employed Calithea to place a dampening field around the devices. Although they’re only temporary and expensive, they will hold over the next week.”
“Where did you place the devices?” Eric inquired, proud of his child for her ingenuity.
“I had them designed into mirrors,” Laelia answered smugly, knowing how vain vampires were. They would think nothing of preening in front of the large mirror. “The mirrors house small cameras that will record both sight and sound. Due to how expensive they are to both create and conceal, I only had a dozen made. I made sure they were placed in the suites where the more…” she paused while she searched for the right word, “troublesome vampires will be staying. Nevada/Louisiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Illinois as well as some of the rooms where the Council members will be staying.” It was a risk, bugging the rooms of the Council members, but given their less than stellar support on behalf of vampires since the Great Revelation, Laelia believed it was a risk worth taking.
Rising to her feet, Laelia walked over to the sideboard on the wall behind the sofa and pulled open the top drawer. She removed a laptop before moving back to Eric, placing it on the table before them and taking a seat beside him. “You can access the camera in Cale’s room on this,” she said as she powered up the laptop and logged onto the security feed.
Eric moved his gaze to the laptop screen to where the Queen of Virginia appeared. She was prettier than he remembered, with long brown hair curled into loose waves, pale flawless skin, and a body that was lithe, yet all-woman. It was obvious to him what Pam saw in her, but that didn’t mean it was acceptable for her to fail to remember her loyalty while she was between the Queen’s firm-looking thighs. Eric watched the security feed for a few minutes, trying to see if he could discern just what her plan was. It was evident by the way she was behaving that she knew he was in the hotel. She was planning on trying to corner him prior to the rest of the monarch’s arrivals the following night. She was desperate for a private audience with him, but she didn’t want to go through normal channels. Eric was uncertain what her full plan was, but there was one definite way to find out. He was never one to sit back and allow others to try to manipulate him or his people. If Queen Katherine Cale thought she could manipulate him into a pledging to her, she would soon discover her error in judgement. It was time he paid the Queen a visit.
“Laelia, return to your office, and disable the cameras in the elevator as well as the ones on the 20th floor,” Eric ordered, flicking his eyes from the laptop screen to his child. “Be certain that everyone is kept away from that floor, and, most importantly, do not watch the feed from Virginia’s suite.”
Laelia grinned at her Maker before standing up and making her way to the secret staircase leading straight to Eric’s office. She was sorry she wouldn’t get to see what Eric would do live, but the feed was recorded onto a hard drive so she could always watch it later.
Eric smirked while he watched his child disappear. He knew she thought she would be able to watch the footage later, but she would be sorely disappointed because he had no intention of dealing with Virginia in her hotel room, not when he was aware of the fact that there was a camera recording everything. “Felicia,” he said, instructing his driver to come around the sofa to face him. “I want you to collect Virginia from her suite, glamour her human to remain there and do nothing, and then bring Virginia to me,” he handed her the key card to the elevator. “Once you have done that, return to the lobby and distract her vampire. Keep him occupied until I tell you otherwise.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Felicia replied with a grin. She would be more than happy to distract the strange vampire while her Master took care of the Virginia Queen.
Eric waited until Laelia messaged him that she had disabled the security cameras as instructed before sending Felicia to invite Queen Katherine Cale to join him for a little chat.
In an undisclosed location far away from the prying eyes of Big Brother, a group of six hooded figures stood around a large round table looking into an ebony black oval bowl. A ghostly colored liquid shimmered within the bowl and silvery figures appeared just beneath the surface. Their faces were faint, but easily recognizable. The six of them watched while Felicia collected Katherine Cale from her hotel room and escorted her to the penthouse of The Gersemi. A low muttering of annoyance spread through the room when her image disappeared from the bowl as she stepped off the elevator and into the King of New York’s penthouse suite. They cursed the voodoo priestess Calithea Vale for the wards she had placed around the penthouse, making it impossible for them to continue spying on what might be happening behind the closed door.
“Are you sure this will work?” One of the hooded figures questioned, the voice low and gruff, identifying the individual as male.
“It will work,” a croaky voice replied just as a withered hand became visible and a single finger tapped on the bowl they were all watching. “It works already. The Norse Man’s child has already foolishly given the Virginia Queen all she will need to secure him as her pledged. He will put up a token fight, but he will eventually see the light and realize that pledging to Virginia will be to his benefit. Virginia can be quite convincing, and The Norse Man is nothing if not an opportunist.”
“He is nothing but trouble,” a harsh voice countered. “He should have been eliminated years ago. He is nothing but a threat to all our plans.”
“He is only a threat as long as we allow it,” Croaky-voiced replied. The mystery figure stroked an aged finger over the edge of the bowl while they all watched Felicia return to the lobby and catch the attention of the Virginia vampire. “Virginia will keep him distracted until it is too late for him to interfere to threaten our ultimate goal.”
“Then what of Virginia?” Asked another mysterious person. The voice was soft and feminine. “She will be most unhappy to learn that she has been manipulated. She has no idea that it is we who have pushed her toward The Norse Man.”
“Katherine will never discover that she was a part of our plan,” A suave sounding voice said. “My child is naïve. She believes she is far more intelligent than everyone around her, but she is, as Northman said, a child playing grown up.” Raising his hands, the vampire pulled the hood off his head, revealing a set of dark penetrating eyes. There was something sinister, a darkness, within him that would chill the blood of anyone, yet it was concealed under a personality of charm and great wit. He was as handsome as he was deadly, a true predator. “All my Katherine knows is that I strongly encouraged her to seek a husband to strengthen her Queendom, a Queendom with which I gifted her,” Richard Wilkes, the Queen of Virginia’s Maker, stated. “She had no clue that all other options were eliminated by us in order to influence her to look at The Norse Man. She thinks it was her own idea, just as she believes her seduction of The Norse Man’s child was her own plan. Katherine is young and foolish, she never looks past today, never giving a thought to tomorrow.”
“Virginia will not be a problem,” Croaky-voice reiterated. “She will never learn of our interference. She will distract The Norse Man long enough for us to complete our goal.”
“There is still so much that could go wrong,” the fourth speaker replied, a hint of worry leaking through her tone. She kept her hood secured tightly around her head, keeping her identity concealed even though she knew everyone was aware of her identity. Despite their cloak and dagger approach to things, they all knew who the others were. There was no secrecy when it came to the secret coalition members. “We are relying on second-hand information,” she added. “The information cannot be relied upon. We have not received any visual proof that what our spy claims is the truth. We do not know for certain that…”
“The information is good,” Croaky-voice said firmly, refusing to allow it to be questioned. “I have no need of visual confirmation to know what is truth. Sookie Stackhouse is alive!”
“What’s more, she will be attending The Summit. She seeks revenge for all that she has suffered,” Richard said with a smirk, thinking of the blonde-haired spitfire. He had never had the pleasure of meeting her personally, but he had seen videos of her. Sophie-Anne had quite the collection and he had spent many a happy hour watching them. He particularly enjoyed the ones from when Sophie-Anne would throw a private party, and she would have the woman lying naked and spread out on a table so her guests could feed from her whenever they wanted. His favorite one included his vampire brother and his brother’s youngest child. That one was a thing of beauty.
“Will she get her revenge?” the fourth speaker asked curiously. There had been no talk as to whether or not to allow the girl to strike down those who had abused her.
“She will,” Richard said with a nod. He thought the girl deserved to get at least a little payback for all that she had suffered, plus, it would distract her. Sookie would be so focused on making Sophie-Anne, de Castro, and Victor pay for what they had done to her, she wouldn’t be aware of any other dangers. “Although it will mean the loss of some of our brothers and sisters, it will only aid us in the long run. The deaths of several monarchs at The Summit held in the heart of The Norse Man’s territory will cause the eyes of the vampire world to turn to New York. Many of his old friends will turn their backs on him, believing he had a hand in the slaying of fellow monarchs…”
“The chaos will weaken The Norse Man temporarily,” Croaky-voice cut in. “The more ambitious monarchs will scent blood in the water and plot to seize New York for themselves. The alliance that Virginia proposed will be even more appealing to The Norse Man. He will pledge to her to strengthen his Kingdom, and, in doing so, he will eliminate his chance to have the fairy for his own. The union between them will never happen…”
“Thus, Sookie Stackhouse will be ours as she was originally meant to be,” Richard said once he took control of the conversation again. “There will be no fuck ups this time! She will not be gifted to another by foolhardy vampires too stupid to see her worth. The half-breed bastard Warlow and his fairy whore will not rescue her again,” and his voice rose in volume as he spoke, his anger clear as he listed off a few things that prevented them from having taken Sookie once before. “The telepath will be ours. She will serve us throughout eternity.” A devilish smile curled his lips as he took his gaze to Croaky. “The Ancient One has foreseen it.”
Milky white eyes peered out from under the heavy cloak “It is Fate. The girl will be ours!”