“What do you want?”
It was a simple question; the answer to it, however, was anything but. There were a thousand different things she wanted, things she couldn’t even admit to herself. Things she longed for; things she knew she would never have. What did she want? She wanted to go home, but she knew that wasn’t an option anymore; too much had happened for her to ever return there. What’s more, she knew even if she could go home, she wouldn’t. She may have wanted to return home, but it was a childish want. It was the desire of a young girl who didn’t exist anymore. She wasn’t the girl she once was, and her family would never be able to understand, not that she thought they would care. They had given up on her a long time ago. They were just as much to blame for what happened to her as everyone else.
“What do you want?”
She wanted to be able to go back in time and change everything. She wanted to trust her instincts and not ignore them like she had; she wanted to ignore everyone else when they said she was crazy, only to believe in herself. She wanted to erase the memories of the last seven years and just forget. She wanted the pain to go away and be whole again. She wanted her life back. Unfortunately, she never got what she wanted. All she got was pain and suffering.
“What do you want?”
For the thousand different things she wanted, there was one thing that stood out more than the rest. There was one thing that consumed her mind and she craved above even freedom. There was one thing she needed more than anything else. It was the reason she survived as long as she had. It was the reason she refused to die when at times that was all she wanted.
“Revenge!” Her voice hinted at the strength hidden for so many years as she exclaimed the word aloud. Part of her was expecting to feel the lash of a belt against her skin for daring to speak it, but they had asked and she had told them her one truth. “I want revenge!”
It was the one thing she had clung to for so long. The thought that she would one day be able to gain retribution for the pain she had suffered at the hands of others was all that had kept her going. For seven long years she had dreamed of the day she would finally be free to seek revenge against all those who sinned against her. She had a list stored away in her mind of the names and faces of those who had corrupted her and made her what and who she was. As she stared into the eyes of the person who had freed her, she swore she would not stop until vengeance was hers.
“Are you sure that is what you want? Once you start down that path it’s almost impossible to turn and walk away. The desire for revenge will fuel your body and drive you on, but it will also consume you. There is a strong chance you will cease to be who you are, and become someone you don’t even recognize…”
“Who am I now?” She replied, her tone lacking all emotion as she asked the question for which she didn’t even have an answer. “I haven’t been my own person in seven years. I was what and who they wanted me to be. They even stripped me of my name and gave me a new one.” She had ceased to be Sookie Stackhouse seven years ago and had become Giselle. “I have no real identity. So what am I?”
“You are a survivor. Who and what else you are is entirely your choice. You are no longer a slave to the will and whims of another. Your life is your own again…”
“Just like that? After seven years of Hell you’re just gonna walk in here, kill the bastards who enslaved me, and set me free?” Sookie questioned skeptically. There was no way it would be that easy; she wasn’t that lucky. He had to be fucking with her, or there had to be a catch.
“Just like that,” he replied as he lowered himself to the floor in front of her and took a seat. “I will not lie to you and say it is easy. There are many of my kind who would not think twice about killing you due to the things you know regarding us. Vampires are on the precipice of revealing ourselves to the humans and the world in general. The knowledge you possess could damage that revelation. You have seen us at our worst. You have seen the monsters that exist within us. Your inability to be glamoured makes you a danger to us, a threat that many of my kind would argue should be destroyed. Killing you would be the easiest solution, but not the right one.”
“Why not?” Sookie asked genuinely curious. If the roles had been reversed, she couldn’t say for a fact she wouldn’t kill him to ensure his silence. In the last seven years she had witnessed the worst the vampire world had to offer. She had seen the darkness that lived in them all; even the kindest of vampires was still a predator at heart.
“You were a victim to all you saw,” he replied softly. “You had no choice in what you observed, those images that I am sure are etched in your mind were forced upon you. I am sure that if you had the choice you would not have witnessed any of them, you would have rather been at home with your family. I will not punish you for things that were far beyond your control. You were dragged into our world against your will and suffered because of it, I will not reinforce the notion that vampires are monsters and take your life, a life that you have not ever truly lived.”
“Why are you doing this?” Sookie questioned. “Why did you kill everyone here?” She waved her hand around the bloody room as she spoke; pointing out the remains of several vampires he had killed. “Why did you free me? Why do you care?”
A smile tugged at his lips at her inquisitive nature. He was pleased to see she hadn’t been completely broken. He had encountered many mortals who had spent less time than the small blonde who had broken under the care of vampires. Not this one, though, no, this one was strong; she had fire inside her. “Because a long, long time ago, I was in your position,” he answered truthfully. “I was a slave to the whims of those stronger than me. I suffered much as you did. I was saved from a fate worse than death and given a second chance. Now, thousands of years later, I am giving you the same chance.”
“I don’t want to be a vampire,” Sookie stated firmly, backing up slightly. That was the last thing she wanted. She wanted revenge, but she didn’t need to be a vampire to get it. Being a vampire might make her stronger and faster, but it would also limit her movements.
“Nor do I want you to be one,” he assured her. “This life is not for everyone, and after all you have seen, I believe you would rebel against it. There might come a time when you decide you want to be a vampire, and if that is the case, I will arrange it for you, but it will always be your choice. That is the true gift I am giving to you, the right to choose.”
“And if I chose to walk out that door, will you allow me?” Sookie asked, expecting him to say no. No one had cared what she wanted in seven years, hell, it was longer than that. Nobody had given a damn about her long before she was kidnapped and sold to a vampire. The only person who had ever cared about her was her mother, and she had been dead for almost eleven years.
“I will,” he replied sincerely. He had no desire to keep someone against their will. He had done his share of unspeakable things. He hadn’t always been good, not that he would describe himself in such a way. Like every other vampire, he was a predator by nature, but unlike many of his race, he didn’t use that as an excuse to inflict horror on others. He may have been a vampire, but he also had a conscience, he had a heart and soul. “I will even go as far as to make sure you are safe for the rest of your life. I will do everything in my power to make sure you live a happy, vampire-free life.”
“And if I chose to stay and seek revenge against all those who have hurt me?” Sookie asked, needing to know if he would try and stop her. She wasn’t sure why, but she trusted that he would be honest with her. There was something about him that told her he wasn’t there to hurt or betray her. He could have easily killed her when he entered the room, but he hadn’t. He had killed everyone in the room, except her.
“I will help you,” he said, keeping his eyes on hers and letting her see his honesty. He wasn’t lying when he said he was once in her place. He had suffered untold horrors for much longer than her. He had been nothing but a toy at one point in his long life. “If it is truly vengeance you seek then I will help you achieve it. As much as I am sure you would like to cut out the hearts of all those who have wronged you and make them pay, it will not be that easy. At the moment you are no threat to anyone, they would easily overpower and kill you. However, I am more than willing to teach you everything you will need to accomplish your goals. I can teach you to fight; I can teach you how to kill. It will not be easy; it will be arduous, time-consuming, and painful. I can teach you the skills you will require, but it must be what you truly want…”
“It is,” Sookie replied her tone filled with conviction. She didn’t care about the pain, she had grown accustomed to it over the years, and her former masters weren’t exactly kind to her. They took pleasure in punishing her when she was bad. “I want this. Teach me, train me!”
He stared at her intently, trying to see if she really meant what she was saying. It wasn’t uncommon for people to want revenge when the pain was still fresh and the wounds raw, but once they healed and cleared their heads they changed their minds. However, as he stared into her blue eyes, he could see she meant everything she said. She wasn’t speaking in anger, she was beyond that emotion, and she was speaking the truth, her truth. She wanted revenge, and he would help her get it.
“I will train you,” he promised. Rising to his feet, he cast his gaze over the blood spattered room and let out a chuckle. The place was an absolute mess, and not because of the blood. The room was filled with tacky furnishings and gaudy baubles. Whoever decorated it was clearly an idiot; they had none of the flair that his wife possessed. It was true what they said, money couldn’t buy taste. “Do you wish to salvage anything before I destroy the building?”
“No,” Sookie answered quickly. There was nothing she wanted, not that she owned anything. “I want nothing from this place.”
He nodded and held out his hand, offering it to her. He waited to see if she would take it, if she would let herself accept help. He smiled when he felt Sookie slip her dainty hand into his larger one. “We will be leaving the State tonight,” he told her as he pulled her to her feet.
“Where are we going?”
“Ireland,” he replied as he guided her out of the room. “You will be able to heal and regain your strength before your training begins.” His wife would help with Sookie’s training as would those he trusted. He would help Sookie regain control of her own life; she would never be a victim again if he could help it.
Sookie wanted to argue that she didn’t need time to heal, but she knew deep down inside that she did. Part of her wondered if she was crazy. She was going away with a man, a vampire, she didn’t really know, but a bigger part didn’t care. He was giving her what she wanted; that was all she cared to know.
He gave Sookie a reassuring smile as he led her outside. He was sure she was weary and in need of rest. She had been on vampire hours for so long and the sun was only a few short hours away from rising. Soon she would be able to rest; she would be able to choose her own schedule. “Wait here,” he instructed as they reached the edge of the property. He didn’t wait to see if she would do as he asked before vamping back to the building.
“I guess rudeness really is a vampire trait,” Sookie snorted. A blast of orange flashed before her eyes and a look of shock spread across her face as she watched the house become engulfed in flames. She stood transfixed as fire ravaged the old house. As she watched, she felt as if the fire was burning away the yoke around her neck that tied her to the place. Silent tears trickled down her cheek. She was free.
She was wiping the tears away when her vampire rescuer returned. She wanted to thank him, but she couldn’t find the words. No words could truly express what she was feeling.
“Are you ready?” He asked. He could see the emotion written all over her face, but he wouldn’t push her to talk.
Sookie nodded and swallowed down the lump in her throat. “I am,” she said her voice rough with emotion.
“Then we should leave before anyone shows up.”
Sookie took one last look at the burning house before turning her gaze to her dark-haired savior. As she stared at him she realized she had no idea who he was. “Who are you?” She asked. “What’s your name?”
He had been wondering when she was going to ask. Given everything that had transpired that night, he couldn’t blame her for forgetting. “Warlow…”