I took a quick shower and thanked my lucky stars that I had actually bought a dress from Sara. It was a nice burgundy dress and it looked great with my blond hair. Erik apparently found it appealing too, judging from the look in his face when he came out of the shower and found me ready to go.
I`m not the kind of girl who spends hours in front of the mirror, but I had managed to dry my hair into quite a nice hairdo and to apply some mascara and a little gloss.
Eric`s eyes said: “I want to rip that dress off you and make love to you all night,” but his mouth said: “We need to go.”
Neither of us spoke before we were well past the exit to Køge, which is half way to Copenhagen. I was the one to break the silence.
“Why are we going to see the queen?”
“Rasmus called and told us to be there.” Erik answered.
“Did he tell us to be there or only you?”
“He did ask for me, but I`m not leaving you unguarded if I can help it, so you`re coming with me.”
For the first time since I was about nine years old or so, I pouted. Erik put his hand on my thigh.
“I don`t want anything to happen to you. You know that.”
I knew I couldn`t win that one so I changed the subject.
“How do you know the queen and Rasmus?” I asked.
“Rasmus has been a good friend since… well, it seems like forever. He had already pledged allegiance to Queen Thyra when I met him and I was impressed with her as well, so it wasn`t hard for me to live under her rule. You of course know that Queen Thyra was Thyra Danebod, the first queen in a united Denmark?”
Of course I knew Thyra Danebod. Thyra Danebod had been one of my heroines, what with all the myths about her uniting Denmark, leading an army against Germany and building fortresses, and it had always felt weird to meet with the vampire Queen Thyra, since they were the one and same person.
Thyra Danebod was married to Gorm the Old and had been turned around 950. Of course no one knew she had become a vampire and Gorm the Old had made an impressive headstone with runes for her – one of the few runes written about a woman.
She was the mother of King Harald I Bluetooth, who was later made famous by some Danish inventors who used his name for an open, wireless protocol. The logo for Bluetooth was runes for H.B.; Harald Bluetooth. I had always found that a bit funny – and I had wondered if Queen Thyra had used any glamour to get this honor for her beloved son.
I was in my own thoughts about Danish history, when Erik continued.
“She was a heroine in her time and with good reason. She has always had the perfect mixture of empathy and ruthlessness. And her cause, looking after her descendants, seemed as good as any cause, so I fought by her side for centuries.”
I was all ears.
“It was Rasmus that drew me to her. I met him when I came back to Denmark after having been years abroad with my master. We instantly made friends. I enjoyed having a male friend who was only a friend. With my master it was more complicated. He wanted something other than friendship.”
I looked at him. Did he just tell me that his master was also his lover?
“Vampires try not to have too deep emotions because emotions tend to get us killed. We try not to hate or bear grudges. I know some vampires can hate each other over decades or centuries, but it will usually end in death and destruction. We don`t lov….” He looked at me.
“Well, we try not to love anyone because if we start putting other people`s safety before our own, we are destined to die. We rarely have deep friendships. We live in nests together and we sometimes stay with our masters for a period of time, but we rarely have friends. This is why my friendship with Rasmus was so special.”
This is probably where any sane woman would ask about the `we don`t love`-thing, but I let it go. Instead it gnawed on my heart.
I could feel something eating up Sookie and I knew what it was. We had never declared our love to each other and frankly, that`s just not something vampires do. I had declared her mine and she had declared it too. To me, that was stronger than if she had said `I love you`. I had lived long enough to have heard that sentence being misused a zillion times. But for her to say `Erik, I`m yours`……I felt a stir in my pants just thinking about it.
It took quite some time to get to Copenhagen. I would have to speak to Rasmus about getting me a car. A real car. The paperwork was just so extensive when you buy a car in this bureaucratic country, that I didn`t want to buy one myself. Not in person, anyway.
We got to the Rosenborg castle and after parking the car, we entered the castle. Rasmus went to pick us up and greeted me warmly. He looked at Sookie.
“So you have been holding out on us? I`m not sure if I should be angry or impressed with your ability to lie to me, but since you did it to protect my good friend Erik, I choose impressed.”
He looked at Sookie with hunger in his eyes, but looked away when he heard my low growl. He knew she was mine and wasn`t going to challenge that.
Rasmus asked us to wait in a room. Queen Thyra would see us shortly, he said and then he was off.
After a short while a young woman entered the room. She wore a uniform and came over to us with a smile and asked if we wanted anything. Sookie`s stomach made a small noise that only she and I heard, and she asked the woman if they had any sandwiches or something else to eat. I mentally kicked myself for having dragged Sookie off without dinner.
I asked for a Blood even if I wasn`t very hungry.
Soon the lady was back. She gave Sookie two smørrebrød, the Danish open-faced sandwiches. Sookie also had some water and a pot of tea. I had my Blood.
The woman took her time in the room and I started to wonder if she was also here to keep an eye on us, when Sookie`s eyes widened and her heartbeat increased. I looked at her with a question in my eyes, but she made a silent “no” with her head so I didn`t ask her.
I was on full alert, though. Something had scared Sookie and I wanted to know what. I also wanted to make sure I could defend us against it if I had to.
After a while the woman couldn`t make up any more excuses to stay in the room with us and she left. Immediately I whispered to Sookie:
I wasn`t really sure what to say. The thoughts this lady had didn`t feel right. She was just too interested in Erik. I was afraid Erik might think I was jealous, but that wasn`t the case.
“That woman was way too interested in you – and before you give me any of your sly grins, it wasn`t your great body she was interested in.”
“So you think I have a great body?” I got the sly grin anyway.
“Erik. Be serious for a second here. I had a feeling the woman knew who you were and that she was glad to finally see you. That it would be to her advantage somehow that you were here.”
Erik looked at me.
I ate my smørrebrød and Erik drank his Blood in silence.
After a while Rasmus came back and he made us follow him to a huge room where the Queen was sitting on a throne. The image of her as a supreme ruler was a bit destroyed by her reading Billedbladet – the Danish gossip magazine that entitles itself “The Royal Weekly”.
Billedbladet is well known for always putting the royal family, and by royal family, I mean the human royal family, in the best light. Drinking binges, infidelity and divorces were always toned down in favor of pictures of happy families and big smiles.
She laid Billedbladet down when we entered the room.
I had met the Queen before, but she always made me uneasy. She looked a few years older than me, had long thick blond hair and eyes that showed as if she was used to having things her way.
I bowed my head, as I always do when I meet her, and was surprised to see Erik go down on his knees in front of her. She looked pleased at his submission and waved her hand to tell him to rise.
“So nice to see you again, my dear Erik. I wish the circumstances had been more favorable, but I am glad you chose to return to your birth country.”
She looked at me.
“And you have captured one of the true jewels in this country, I see. I always did wonder why no vampire had taken her, but I guess it would have to be someone of your capacity before she would yield.” She laughed.
If there had been a fire, I`m sure someone would have confused my face with a fire truck. At least we were the same color.
“Sookie. So good to finally see you again. I was devastated when you stopped visiting the court. You were always such a nice addition to all the boring humans I`m usually surrounded by. I am pleased to see that Erik has talked you into coming back.”
I didn`t know what to say so I kept quiet. Erik hadn`t `talked me into coming back`, he hadn`t given me a choice.
“Unfortunately, you are not going to like the reason for me summoning you, Erik.” The Queen looked at Erik again.
I already knew the reason for her summons. Victor Madden had probably made some formal complaint and I was waiting for the Queen`s decision. If she were to send me back, it would be my certain death. Of course, I would never let her send me back, but I still would prefer to have her support.
What happened next was not what I had expected. The fucking polar bear entered the room. Not only did he have a huge smile on his face, but he went straight over and gave Sookie a hug.
Sookie looked very uncomfortable in his arms and after a few seconds, she pushed him away. I couldn`t help smiling a little.
“I`m so sorry, Sookie. I didn`t mean to hurt you. I was desperate, but I should have found another way rather than kidnapping you. I hope you can forgive me.” He was begging her with his eyes, but she looked down.
The Queen coughed slightly and we all turned around and looked at her.
“Quinn, leave poor Sookie alone. You have all the time in the world to make her forgive you and you can also make it up to both her and Erik by helping them.” I was amazed by the Queen`s voice. How did she manage to sound helpful and punishing at the same time?
The woman from before, the woman Sookie had read the thoughts of, entered the room. She brought a glass of Blood for the Queen and stayed by the door as if to wait for new orders.
The Queen drank a sip of her Blood and turned to me.
“Quinn has agreed to go to Victor Madden and pretend to still be on his side. He is going to get as much information on Victor Madden`s plans for you, as he can. In return I am going to make a formal complaint about Victor Madden having kidnapped Quinn`s mother – after Quinn returns with information, of course. I am also going to use my connections in Alaska where Quinn`s mother is held, to see if I can get her out in some more informal way.”
I smiled. The Queen was as cunning now as I remembered her. She was using Quinn to help me. If vampires had hugged each other, I would have given her a bear hug she would never forget.
I looked over at Sookie and expected her to be happy too. She wasn`t. She was staring at the woman and her face was the face of quiet terror. When she saw me staring at her, she made a silent sign and I immediately knew what she meant.
In one jump I was at the woman, had her by the neck and threw her before the Queen.
“She is a spy.” I shouted, fangs out and all.
All I could hear was Sookie whispering: