Two weeks later, Roderick knew he would soon get the answer to Helmut's question.
He understood and agreed with the vampire Pavoni's reasons for wanting to be able to run his region by his own laws. As he had said, "The King is too old; his laws are archaic, based on times so long past they are lost in the mists of antiquity. You and I may be old, Roderick, but I believe we have kept up with the times. My subjects, many of them, are young, relatively speaking. I cannot expect them to live by laws that I myself find too restrictive." He had outlined the ones he meant and Roderick had to agree he was correct in his assessment that they were outmoded in today's society.
Pavoni had suggested that Roderick talk to a few of the other regional kings, giving him the names of some who he knew agreed with him. Therefore, before returning to report in to the King, Roderick had taken a whirlwind tour of the world after sending Piers and the others back to the estate.
Because his own attitude had changed, Roderick now heard what he had loath to listen to on other visits with the vampires in question. They were all chomping at the bit, wanting to break free of the King's despotic rule but afraid of the consequences. The King might be a despot, but he was a powerful one with equally powerful subordinates unwilling to give up the benefits that came with standing with him as he ruled with an iron hand.
After his visits with the kings, Roderick returned to the estate. There were things he needed to do before reporting to the King. The most important one was ensuring the safety of everyone he cared about, from Piers on down to the least of the servants. To that end, he summarily dismissed the guardian vampires, replacing them with ones he trusted not to betray him to the King. Something he realized he should have done years ago.
Then, with Helmut's assistance, he came up with a safe place to send Piers and Linden if the shit hit the fan. Actually, it was Helmut's suggestion. As a shifter he had access to a few well-hidden areas that no one but another shifter could get to, and only if they knew of their existence. One of them was his secret, one he had never revealed to anyone.
With everything that he could think of in place, Roderick was ready to leave the estate.
"Keep them safe, my friend," he said to Helmut before gently kissing Piers yet again, whispering, "I love you. I'll be back soon, I promise."
"And I'll be here, waiting for you." Wrapping his arms around Roderick's neck, Piers kissed him, pouring all his love into it, knowing the kiss more than any words would tell him how he felt. Then he watched as Roderick walked swiftly from the room and out to the waiting limousine.