I Could Have Danced All Night
I tore into my office as if Pam wouldn’t enjoy redecorating it with my money. I attacked what sat atop the desk first: paperwork, computer, calendar, pens, stapler, and mail were swept crashing to the floor. The desk itself followed immediately afterwards, flipping end over end as it smashed to a stop hitting the black leather sofa. Black lacquered filing cabinet, followed by the floor lamp, the bookshelves holding our employee files, the mini-fridge stocked with True Blood that was tossed into the adjacent wall shattering the plaster to bits and breaking two of the studs in the process. All of it in pieces and I didn’t care. I was consumed with rage and I had nothing to fight. No one to kill or torture or maim. Just an empty aching feeling where the bond with Sookie used to reside. I ripped the flat screen off the wall and hurled it against the metal shelving containing the liquor, which wobbled and fell, and exploding shards of brown, clear, and blue glass flew in every direction, several propelled into my body, I felt none of it.
I knew the bar would empty out quickly with my destruction and I could only hope that Pam had the wherewithal to get them out before I turned my anger on them. I had come here to feed, but the brunette fangbanger I had chosen, moaned with exaggeration hoping to entice me to fuck her and had the temerity to call me baby. It was not what I wanted her for, I only wanted her blood and I came near to shredding her despite my normal control. Luckily I’d had enough conscious thought left to scream at her to get out. I had no idea why I was feeling this way. Yes, realizing I loved Sookie was huge for me, but I shouldn’t be reacting in this manner. I couldn’t even remember the time we spent together, so why was I here tearing apart my office unable to rid myself of the venom that coursed through my body?
When there was nothing left to break I stood in the center of the wreckage just as livid as I was five minutes before. I was at a loss for what to do next or how to handle the emotions that were now wreaking havoc on my body. I sat down heavily on the couch, which was the only piece left untouched during my frenzy, mostly because it wouldn’t have done any good. Short of tossing it through a wall, the piece was too well-made and wouldn’t splinter into tiny pieces, and I didn’t want to have to have a wall rebuilt.
Pam strode into what was left of the room. “Eric?” She asked tentatively and prepared to duck. “May I ask what the hell is going on in here? You’ve scared off everyone including the staff and you know how I hate to clean up after the vermin.”
“So you said on the phone. I’m not sure why this calls for the wholesale annihilation of the office.” She was still standing on the edge of the debris field unwilling to risk her stilettos.
I sighed unnecessarily. “Neither am I. I just know something’s wrong and that I need to find her. I don’t know how or why, but something broke inside of me when I realized tonight that she was missing. The bond is gone, simply vanished without a trace, just like her.” My head fell heavily into my hands and frantically scrubbed at my already disheveled hair. “I have no idea what’s going on. I shouldn’t be this screwed up over one human woman.”
“Maybe you just need to fuck her out of your system. I’m sure I could find you a blonde…” She never finished her sentence because in an instant I had her throttled, her body shoved a foot into the wall to the left of the door.
“I love her Pam and no amount of pussy will make me forget her, so either shut your trap or get the fuck away from me.”
She held up her hands in a gesture of surrender and I released my hold on her. She brushed bits of plaster out of her hair and off her black lace outfit, now accessorized with gaping, ragged holes. I flopped back down onto the couch. I needed to think clearly and attacking Pam would not help.
“Call everyone. Divide up the state and have them start searching at once. I don’t care what it costs, I want her found.”
She crossed over to me and perched on the edge of the couch. Gently she said, “Eric if the bond is gone, have you considered…” she left the phrase hanging in the air, as unwilling to say the words as I was to hear them.
“I won’t accept that. Not until I find proof. Now, make the phone calls…please.”
It must have been the please that did it. It wasn’t a word she was used to hearing from me.
Her hand lingered on my shoulder for a moment before she stood and said, “Don’t worry, one way or the other, we’ll find her. I promise.”
With that she walked out, leaving me alone with my ruin.
Edinburgh, Scotland 1603
The black, white, and grey mosaic floor swirled spiraling around me. The sconces on the wall blurred into one long flame and I never let my gaze falter from the oceanic blue of Eric’s eyes. I loved dancing with him, the strength of his grip on my waist, the proud line of his shoulders, the kilt. Lord have mercy, the kilt that gave me glimpses of his thighs as we spun around the dance floor. I had no idea how well he could dance, but now that I did, it was my new favorite thing. When I returned to my proper time I would make Eric take me dancing, proper dancing.
I never wanted to leave Eric’s arms, but the corset wouldn’t allow it. I needed to sit down every so often to take tiny gasps of air. The good thing was that he never left my side except to grab me glasses of water and wine. If I were Elizabeth Bennett, I’d say he was doting on me, but I was still a few centuries and a country off for that, so I restrained myself from calling him Mr. Darcy. I was also a good girl and restrained my hands as well. A few times they wanted to wander and I had to sit on them, but I had plenty of practice not touching Eric in the future, which was just an odd sentence to think.
“Princess, your face is priceless. What I wouldn’t give to know what thoughts are scrolling across your mind.”
Considering there was no way I could tell him, I stayed silent, letting him draw his own conclusions from the teasing smile that played across my lips.
Seeing that I wasn’t going to answer him he changed tactics. “Would you care to join me for a stroll on the terrace?”
His outstretched hand beckoned me and I slipped my warmer one in his, the long sleeves of my dress covering most of it, happy for every single moment in his presence. He guided me into the cool night air, which actually felt good with the layers of heavy clothing that swayed around my hips. I lifted my face to stare up into the sky, once again amazed by the sheer amount of stars. I doubted that there was anywhere in the world I actually resided in where so many could be seen. Maybe Antarctica.
“You gaze at the stars as if you have never seen them before.” Eric stared at me intently.
I shook myself of the shivers that were racing up and down my spine and settling in my belly at the deep rumble of his voice. “No, they are just beautiful and I enjoy admiring them.”
“The stars have nothing on you Princess Adeline. I find that I am taken by you and I know not why. Something about you calls to me.”
I blushed to the roots of my hair and furiously considered the situation. Could it be that he remembers? I would have to play it cool, while simultaneously keeping a firm hold on my urge to drag him into a darkened corner. It seemed that no matter what version of Eric I met, I would always be at the mercy of his charm.
“Is that so?” I responded coyly. “I bet you say that to all the ladies.”
A flicker of discontent passed over his features. “There have been women in the past, I will not deny that, but of ladies…” His voice trailed off and a searching expression took over. “I do not remember ever being so taken by someone.”
“I see,” I said quietly, knowing that there was a growing list of questions I would ask my Eric when I returned to my proper time. “So tell me, what brings you to Scotland, Mr. Northman?”
“How do you know I am not from this place?” He asked suspicious.
“Your accent, silly man.” I knew he wasn’t from here because I knew his history, but that was neither here nor there.
He chuckled. “You have a keen ear.”
“Well you sound different than Mac, it’s as simple as that.”
“So I am not the only man here who has piqued your interest tonight?” He appeared as if my words had wounded him.
Laying a hand over his arm as we leaned on the railing of the terrace, I replied, “Not at all, there are many men who intrigue me,” I paused to see him squirm. Having the upper hand was not something I was used to with Eric. “You are the only one I care to know better though,” I assured him.
His devastating smile broke out, which drew my attention once again to his ice blue eyes, visible even in firelight, which danced with mischief. He took my hand and raised it to his lips, kissing the knuckles of my right hand softly.
“You have not answered my question Mr. Northman.” I responded playfully.
“Please, call me Eric.”
There was that warm fluttering in my belly again threatening my not so iron-clad hold on my desire. “Eric, please answer the question.” See there…I was talking not finding us a room. Resisting, that’s what I was doing, not imagining anything involving a lifted kilt.
He gestured to a bench that allowed us to watch the dancing couples through the open doors. “The Scottish cause intrigues me. They are a proud and noble people, strong in their beliefs and when challenged they fight for those beliefs.”
“You say people, not men specifically.” I asked enjoying this bit of insight into Eric.
“Their women are just as determined and have the ability to defend that which is theirs. The Scottish people, specifically those from the Highlands, are a sturdy lot. They would have to be to survive living where they do.”
I could see why Eric admired them and told him so and just then the Doctor and Mac joined us.
The Doctor, having heard the end of our conversation and never one to let a question pass, asked, “Speaking of the Scottish, which we were not, but they were…Mac, you spoke of the possibility of your clan being outlawed. May I ask what has happened to bring this about? I find myself curious considering since it seems that this is an extreme reaction.”
“It is not fit discussion for a lass Doctor, perhaps we should adjourn to a more private place and leave the two of them to their discussion?” Mac glanced sidelong at me evidently worried about my delicate female constitution.
I gave the Doctor a look that spoke volumes, namely the fact that if he walked one step away from me that there would be hell to pay.
He raised an eyebrow in my direction. “Oh don’t worry about her Mac, I find that she is quite unusual in her ability to understand things that women of her position would usually faint at. She has an uncommon interest in history.”
The look on Eric’s face told me that he was pleased, but not surprised, with this development.
Mac looked dubious, but he began his story anyway. “Did you notice the man who followed us out here?” He nudged his head in the direction of a tall, dark-haired, broad shouldered man in blue and green plaid who stood off to the side trying not to appear as if he were eavesdropping, but I knew better. We all nodded. “That is the Laird of Clan Colquhoun. A few months back two of my men were traveling through the countryside and he refused them food and shelter, which is a grave insult in the Highlands, Princess,” He explained in an aside to me. “The men eventually found haven for the evening near Loch Lomond in an abandoned hut and killed one of Colquhoun’s sheep for sustenance. When Colquhoun discovered this the next day, he had them captured and executed though they offered payment for their theft. We retaliated in the Highland manner by raiding and redistributing the animals which we took in recompense. Two of his men were killed in the raid and he went before the King, parading several fake widows of men we did not kill and the King took their part without finding out the truth of the situation.”
He went on to tell us how the King gave the Clan Colquhoun the right of Fire and Sword, which Eric was kind enough to explain meant that they could kill the MacGregors on sight without worry of a Royal backlash. He explained that he had devised a plan to put the condemnation of the King to rights and attacked the much larger Colquhoun force at the Battle of Glen Fruin, killing many men. I wondered silently how many of the Clan MacGregor were vampires, which would explain how the smaller force could win against a much larger one, but I refocused my attention on the conversation. It was another question to add to the ones I would ask my Eric. There was definitely no way I could ask this Eric about it. I wasn’t supposed to know about him, let alone vampires.
“It is how these things are done in the Highlands and the Colquhouns were embarrassed by their loss to my clan whose men numbered several hundred less than his. The King is still involving himself in our affairs and we simply wait for the sword to fall.”
“But if you have truth on your side…” I started and began listening in on the enemy clan Chief’s thoughts. I could tell that The Colquhoun could sense that Mac was speaking of him and his thoughts reflected that. Noticing his interest, Mac and Eric steered us back into the party. Surrounded by the gathering of people, I thought that we would be safe, but Laird Colquhoun followed us in and walked right up to the group.
“Spreading your foul lies again MacGregor?” The enemy clan Chief asked caustically. “And in the presence of the King no less. Have you no shame?”
“It would be better if you would walk away now Colquhoun if you do not wish to be embarrassed yet again. I have nothing to lose here, whereas you, on the other hand, have much to lose. You wouldn’t want the truth to be revealed in front of those you wish to ingratiate yourself with, would you? I don’t believe the King would be very happy to know that you spoke falsely to him.” Mac and Eric were both vibrating with anger and only barely restraining the violence of which I knew they were capable.
“The King will not believe your false tales of my clan, MacGregor, and it would only harm what little honor you have left.”
At that Mac started towards him and Eric settled a cool hand over his forearm to subdue him.
I decided, what would end up being very foolishly on my part, to intercede. “Gentlemen, is this any way to act around a lady? I am ashamed and embarrassed by your behavior.”
“Who gave you leave to speak? You are a woman and it would do to remember your place.” Eric bristled at the way he spoke to me, but being from the 21st century I was unused to holding my tongue.
The Doctor put his hand on my shoulder in warning, but I shook it off and took a step forward, letting down my mental shields, and channeling a bit of Eric’s highhanded demeanor. “I am a Princess and have honor, and because of this I will speak as I wish. I wonder if the King would like to hear how you paid off your fake widows with promises of wealth and MacGregor lands? How you threatened their families if they did not go along with your plan? There was a child, was there not, a girl who’s neck you held a knife to, and only upon threatening the death of her only child would her mother join your dishonest cause. And then there were also the students that you had slaughtered and had their deaths also blamed on the Clan MacGregor. Would he be pleased at your deception, I wonder?” Unbeknownst to me, my voice had risen and Eric, the Doctor, and Mac took up positions surrounding me. At the finish of my statement I saw the Doctor drop his head, shaking it fiercely.
His slender fingers reached for my wrist. “Princess, I believe that it is time for us to leave.” Eric and Mac were going for swords that they were not wearing since they were in the presence of the King. Because of the declaration against the Clan the celebration was the only thing keeping the King from having them killed and the only reason they were allowed in his presence this evening at all. And I was about to go and make things worse, though I didn’t know it yet.
It was Colquhoun who got to me first, tugging me so that my body was flush against his. “How do you know these things Princess?” His voice hissed out.
Still not realizing how much real trouble I was in, I continued. “I know a great many things, sir, including what started this whole feud.” I didn’t have to see them to know that three pairs of eyebrows rose at my statement. Despite the fact that I could hear the Doctor behind me begging me to keep quiet, and arrogantly thinking I was helping, I opened my mouth and sealed my fate. “Laird MacGregor, Colquhoun here believes that one of your men,” I squinted my eyes as I tried to pry the name from his brain, “Duncan, slept with his wife.”
Laird Colquhoun shoved me away from his body, but kept an iron grip on my wrist. I tried to free myself, but froze when he yelled, “Witch!”
“Wait! What?” Oh fuck, what had I done? “No, that’s not…I’m not…”
Colquhoun began dragging me forward and my other arm was grabbed by Eric who tried to pull me back, but the crowd interfered as they parted for us to walk through and closed immediately behind us. I whipped my head around to find Eric, the Doctor, and Mac, to see them trying to shove through the crowd to get to me. I wished that Eric could use his vamp powers to pull me free and fly me out of here, but that would cause a whole other level of problems. I was just going to have to figure a way out of this. The Doctor would surely be able to jibber jabber his way into King James’ good graces, right? What’s the worst that could happen?
I was thrown to the floor in front of the throne containing King James. I braced myself with my hands to break my fall and stared at the beautiful mosaic floor that I had admired earlier in the evening before everything had gone to hell in a hand basket. Dusting myself off, I made myself stand and face the King. Thankfully my men soon circled around me in protection, though I wasn’t sure what they could do frankly. Surely Colquhoun wouldn’t reveal the truth I had thrown in his face. It would out him as a liar to the King. There was no way they’d believe I was a witch right? I was a telepath, besides I had dealt with witches and I knew for sure I wasn’t one.
“Your Majesty,” Colquhoun began, “this woman is a witch and I bring her before you for judgment.”
“I cannot believe that one so beautiful is a witch, Alasdair, have you any proof?” The King asked, way more entertained than I was at that moment.
“She read my mind your Majesty and knew things that I have never revealed to another living soul.”
“Is that so?” The King asked suspiciously. “What is it that she revealed then?”
“With all due respect, I would prefer not to speak of it as it is a private matter.”
Colquhoun looked askance at me and I thought that because he wouldn’t speak of specifics that I was in the clear, but the King just commanded him to come and whisper it in his ear. I watched as James’ face took on a look of fear and anger. Oh crap. Hadn’t I read somewhere long ago that James was big on the anti-witch brigade? I remembered brushing it off at the time, because, you know, witch-hunts, so several centuries ago.
The Doctor stepped forward coming up flush with me. “Your Majesty, it seems there has been some misunderstanding. This woman is not a witch, but I would be happy to remove her from your sight and country immediately.” He didn’t look hopeful, but he had to try.
“Do you think, Doctor, that I cannot make judgments for myself?”
“No, of course not your Majesty.” The Doctor bowed his head in deference to the King, but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this portion of my adventure was not going to end well.
“I am unhappy to see that such a beautiful woman is caught up with such rogues such as the two who stand behind her and they are lucky I’m not killing them where they stand.” He nodded his head towards Eric and Mac, who bristled at the King’s condemnation. “But I am feeling kind and will let her speak.” He turned his cold eyes to me. “Are you a witch Princess?”
“No your Majesty,” I said, dipping into the best curtsey that I could manage. Was it too much to hope that he would simply believe me?
Apparently not, since the King replied. “Then how were you aware of the information you used against Laird Colquhoun?”
Double crap. What could I say? I didn’t know anyone besides the three men standing around me so I couldn’t even make up a story about someone else telling me. I was stuck telling the truth and praying to God and any number of saints that he would let it go. It was a party after all. Maybe his kind mood would extend to letting me go. Maybe he didn’t want to start an international incident since I was supposed to be a Princess from France. I was living on maybe time.
I cleared my throat, terrified, but standing tall. “I am a telepath your Majesty.”
The Doctor’s shoulders fell, Eric and Mac stood mouths gaping in surprise while the rest of the court erupted in shouting. I wasn’t one for swearing, but all I could think was fuckity fuck fuck fuck. What had I done? James held up a hand to silence the room and with the other gestured for the guards to surround me, which they did, quicker than I thought possible, which meant only one thing, vampires. Several more four letter words slipped through my brain as the King made his proclamation.
“From this woman’s own mouth she is an admitted witch. I proclaim that, like all of her other ill-conceived sisters, tomorrow evening she shall burned at the stake until dead.”
Eric, Mac, and the Doctor tried to get to me, but it was too late. Before I knew what had happened, the King’s vampires were dragging me away and through a concealed door behind the throne. I was kicking and clawing and screaming for Eric and the Doctor, despite the fact that I knew it was a hopeless cause. The guards’ vice-like grips only tightened further, leaving what I was sure would be fierce bruises tomorrow all over my arms. Why couldn’t I keep my mouth shut? Why could I not just enjoy Eric’s kilted presence in my life? No I had to go defending their honor when they were more than capable of defending it themselves. Stupid 21st century belief system. Now tomorrow night I was going to die: in a century with no electricity or microwave popcorn. Without ever telling my Eric how much I had only recently realized he meant to me.
I gave up my struggling and was hauled, feet dangling behind me, through the halls of the castle. I would have loved to look at the paintings or the tapestries that were passing me by, but I found that I could only stare at the passing floor and cry. I searched my brain, at least, trying to figure a way out of this, but nothing was coming to mind. The guards opened a rusted iron door with an ancient skeleton key and a waft of fetid air blew into my face. My beautiful dress was dragged through the filth and slime that coated the stairs as we descended into a dungeon. I may never have seen one before, but seeing it now, I knew every horrible image I had every conjured up when imagining what they looked like wasn’t even close to the nightmare that assaulted my senses.
There was grime everywhere and all I could smell was excrement, urine, and unwashed bodies. Hoarse screams of the other prisoners echoed bouncing around, attacking my ears and filling my soul with a deeper level of dread. There were no windows and the only light came from dim torches that lined the grunge caked walls infrequently, filling the air with a choking smoke. They stopped in front of a thankfully empty cell and another key was used, opening the cage with a rusty screech. They threw me to the floor where I was immediately covered in dirt and other disgusting things that I refused to consider. The only thing I could see in the cell was a bare, grey mattress that was, I was certain, filled with fleas and spiders and a sundry of other unmentionable fluids. I wanted to bury my face in my hands, but I didn’t dare touch my skin for fear of what horrendous disease I might contract.
I stayed piled in a heap on the floor until I had cried myself out. Standing, I went and wrapped my fingers around the bars praying that I had enough of my Eric’s blood still in my system to pry them apart, or at least far enough so that I could slip though. I didn’t care if I had to strip down to my skivvies to do so, I wanted out of this horrible place where I was simply waiting around to die. Then I considered that the Doctor had told me that I was a fairy, like Claudine. Maybe I had powers that I wasn’t aware of, maybe I could just pop myself into the clean, fresh, night air by thinking it. I scrunched up my face several times, envisioning the courtyard where the commoners had stood watching the party-goers. I didn’t have to open my eyes to know I was still locked in the cell below the party that I was sure still went on. I paced the tiny cell, twirling the braided ring that human Eric had given me that I wore on my left ring finger.
What would Eric be doing right now? Would he try to rescue me? We had only spent a few hours together, not near long enough for him to care one way or the other. But I had been defending his honor, trying to make things better for him and Mac. That would count for something right? And the Doctor…he could talk anyone into anything. Surely he would have a plan. As I paced the room, my thoughts pelted my brain, trying to figure a way out of the situation. I was exhausted by the time I realized that there was absolutely nothing for me to do, at least until I was taken to be burned at the stake. I would never let that happen though. No way, no how. I would leave my detached and lifeless arms hanging from the vampire guards’ hands before I was going to be burned alive.
I had no idea what time it was, but it had been hours since I’d been brought down here, surely enough time for Eric to have ripped apart however many guards stood between him and me. My hopes of rescue got slimmer with every passing moment and I crawled defeated onto the flea-ridden mattress. I didn’t want to sleep there, but I could barely keep my eyes open and it was better than the floor. My grandmother had always said, things looked better after a good night’s sleep, and though I knew whatever sleep I got wouldn’t be good, I prayed that things indeed would look better when I woke. Or at least maybe I would dream up some amazing escape plan. I fell into a disturbed sleep worrying about how my Eric would react if I never returned to him and dreaming of a handsome vampire in a kilt killing his way to my rescue.