LATE Chapter o23

A Lick & A Promise

 

Eric was laughing softly to himself as he sat down at the computer in his 3rd floor office. His little Sookie interviewed trainers and actually hired one without checking with him AND she found a beautiful designer wedding dress. Not bad for a bar maid from Bon Temps. She was adapting beautifully to being his bonded, and she was finally letting him do things he had wanted to do for her since he first saw her at Fangtasia. If he could protect them from outside influences, his life was going to be better than he had imagined it could in a very short time. Those outside influences, though, were many and profound. He was going to have to deal with the worst of them to get through this – Felipe de Castro.

Eric had liked Sophie Ann and he hated the way de Castro used her vulnerability to kill her and take over her kingdom. Now he was in a position where he would have to trust the bastard in hopes that he could garner his protection for the baby as well as Sookie. This was going to take some serious ass-kissing, a lot of luck and faith in the gods that they had plans for his son that would keep him from being harmed.

Faith wasn’t something Eric had in abundance, but he did tend to be lucky. De Castro was the X factor and he didn’t like the way that felt at all. He might be jealous of Eric’s relationship with Sookie, or the fact that he was able to reproduce. He might like the idea of having such a unique nest in his kingdom – if he could see it as something that brought him prestige, that would be best. Hopefully he wouldn’t use Sookie or the child against him, but that would always be a danger. Getting his pledge of protection was still the best bet he had for keeping his family – his family! — safe.

When it came down to it, the biggest threat was from Victor Madden, not Felipe. Felipe just needed to keep power. Victor wanted to seize power and that made him far more dangerous. He wasn’t that worried about Sandy – she was what humans would call a “company girl” – she wanted to maintain her position by being good at it, and she didn’t aspire to more than she had.

Eric was also thinking about what would happen when news of the baby did come out. He had survived as long as he had by staying off the radar. Word of a vampire siring a child – a child of magick, no less – could put him and his family in the spotlight within the Supe community. If that were the case, having Felipe on their side would be of great help, indeed, so ass-kissing was his best bet.

He replied to a few business emails, forwarded a few items to Pam for follow-up, and had then found the message from Sandy. OK, here we go. She left a number for him to call ASAP. He steeled himself, then picked up the phone.

“This is Sandy.”

“Sandy, this is Eric Northman.”

“Ah, Sheriff – we had wondered if we would hear from you this evening. Do you still need an audience with the king?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Can you tell me what this is about?”

“Actually, there are 2 personal matters I must discuss. One could be accomplished by teleconference, but the other must be in person.”

Sandy was a little perturbed, but she didn’t argue with him. “The king is visiting Louisiana as we speak. Can you be at the Horseshoe Hotel in Bossier city by 10 pm tonight?”

“We can…”

“Who is we?”

“Myself and Sookie Stackhouse, the telepath.”

“Ah, well, at least his majesty will enjoy seeing her.”

Bitch.

“Yes, well, 10 pm then.”

“The presidential suite. Don’t be late. We’re doing you a favor.”

“Yes, I appreciate that. I will see you then.”

Eric had the “in” that he needed. Now he had to make this look good. He could have done this on his own, but he needed to garner favor with Felipe and Sookie had saved his life, in addition to being beautiful. Using her to tempt Felipe was a dangerous game, but he had to use all the tools at his disposal. He just had to hope Felipe didn’t want to keep her for himself. The idea that she was with child might be enough to squelch that, and if not her Fae parentage should. He didn’t need to tell her to turn on the charm – that just naturally poured out of her. He did need her looking as good as possible, though, so he headed back to the bedroom.

Sookie was just finishing up her dinner, and Alicia had come up for the dishes.

“How are you feeling tonight, my lover?” he said hopefully.

“I haven’t been sick today, but I didn’t really have time to think about it.”

“Alicia, wait a moment – Sookie are you up to going to Bossier City with me?”

“I guess so – what’s going on?”

“I’ll explain that in a bit. Alicia, does she have any cocktail dresses? Something that would look right in a fancy hotel or high roller room in a casino?”

“I got her a couple of LBDs the other day …” and she moved to the closet, pulling out 2 dresses on hangers and covered in plastic.”

“What’s an LBD?” Sookie asked

“A Little Black Dress.”

“Let’s see them,” he said.

“This one,” Alicia began, “has a jewel neckline and mesh insert above the bust, with a straight skirt. This one has a low, sweetheart neckline and a full skirt with some very pretty beading on the skirt.”

“The second one shows the most cleavage?”

“Uh – yes, sir.”

“She’ll wear that one. If she’s got a push up bra to go with it, put that our for her, too.”

“Very well, sir.” Alicia set about getting Sookie an outfit together – thigh-high stockings, low heeled strappy black sandals, black push up bra and black thong. She even pulled an evening purse out of the drawer and started moving Sookie’s essentials into it.

Sookie was trying not to get pissed off. Why were they deciding how to dress her? What was she, a Barbie Doll? She knew better than to yell at Eric in front of the help, but, boy, was he going to get an earful when Alicia left.

“This would look very nice with an up-do. Would you like help with your hair, Miss?”

“Yes, she would. Leave part of it down, though, and curl it a bit. She needs to sparkle tonight.” He didn’t even give Sookie time to respond on her own! WTF?!

Alicia motioned for Sookie to sit in one of the chairs beside the window and plugged in a curling iron. She was trying not to let her anger show because she knew Eric would be upset if she embarrassed him, but she’d better find out what was going on soon or she was gonna blow. While Alicia was styling Sookie’s hair, Eric went into the bathroom and showered.

When Alicia was done with Sookie’s hair, she helped her into the foundation garments and dress, and put the shoes on her. He came in and out at vampire speed once, apparently to get his clothes because he came out of the bathroom dressed. Wow – he looked amazing. A silk shirt in a sort of impressionist pattern, dark slacks, socks and he was putting on his dress boots. As Alicia helped Sookie with her makeup, he flashed a brilliant smile at Sookie.

“My lover, you are glowing! Perfect!”

“Perfect for what?”

Eric glanced toward Alicia and shook his head slightly to indicate that it was not for outsiders to know.

‘Vamp business,’ she thought. ‘He can’t talk about it in front of a human.’

“For our date,” he said, giving her a look that let her know this was only part of the story. “We are going to the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City to meet a… business associate of mine.”

‘Ok,’ she thought, ‘who the hell could be in Bossier City?’

“You must remember him, dear one – Felipe”

Sookie’s eyes got big – that’s why Eric was being cagey. They were going to see the King of Nevada. “Oh, yes, I do remember him.”

‘Yes, you made quite an Impression on him, so I thought having you there looking as perfect as you do might make our transactions more pleasant.”

‘Translation,’ she thought, ‘you’re going to flash your cleavage at Felipe and hopefully he’ll give us what we want.’

Alicia made a few little adjustments to Sookie’s make up and clothing, handed her a black wrap from the back of the closet, then excused herself for the evening.

“I’ve really got to look through that closet some time…” she said as Eric laughed. “Seriously, Eric, how does she always know what I’m going to need?”

“She does not know exactly but she knows certain things about you.” He was ushering her downstairs to the garage.

“What kind of things?”

“Well, she knows you are engaged to a man of means, so you will need dressy casual clothes like the dress you wore today. I own a nightclub, so you would naturally need cocktail dresses for entertaining clients. I’m sure she’ll put a couple of formal dresses in there in case we have a special occasion and she’ll get you some simple things to wear around the house or running errands. The one thing you’ll probably have to buy for yourself would be anything really sexy – I doubt she’ll think to buy you clothes to go clubbing in or any teddies or corsets, though I did notice she bought you quite a few thongs – probably because she’s seen them in your laundry.”

He opened the door of his corvette for her.

“Yeah, this push-up bra is new, too. Is that weird?”

“What, dear one?’ He folded himself into the driver’s seat.

“Her buying sexy lingerie for me – does she think I’m a bimbo?” she asked as he pulled out of the garage.

“Have you listened to her thoughts?”

“No – as a matter of fact, it’s been really easy not to hear people when I don’t want to.”

“That might be because you are drinking my blood daily. There’s no reason to think she thinks ill of you is there?”

“I guess not. It’s just – you know how I feel about being kept.”

“You’re not being kept, dear one, we are to be married. That’s why we’re going to Bossier City.”

“So are we asking permission?”

“Not exactly. I’ve thought about this a great deal, my lover, and I think we must tell Felipe about Niall.”

“What?! Are you sure?”

“I can’t see any way around it.”

“Will Niall be angry?”

“Not as long as you are not upset. He only insisted on secrecy to spare your feelings and those of your brother.”

“Will Felipe use it against us?”

“It’s possible, but I think it more likely he will do as I ask and extend your protection to the child. His blessing over the marriage will work in our favor. He’ll be far less likely to interfere with us if he understands Niall is an interested party. I also think that if he announces the child, it will be more widely accepted that I am actually his father.”

“Are you worried about that?”

“Not terribly, but the more people understand that he is actually my child and protected by his king, the less likely anyone is to try to harm him or use him against us.”

“This is scary.”

He looked over at her and smiled, He stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers. “Yes, my lover, it is scary. But it is our best option.”

“Are you afraid of Felipe?”

“I would be a fool not to be wary of him, but honestly, I am far more concerned about Victor Madden, and he is the main reason I want to be sure that the King’s protection is extended to the child as soon as possible. Victor is ruthless and hungry for power. He already had reason to resent me. This may make him more so.”

“They expect you to turn me, you know…”

“Yes, most people do.”

“I couldn’t even consider that until after the baby is born.”

“Not even until after he is weaned, would be my guess.”

“So two years, minimum.”

Eric looked at her a couple of times between watching the road ahead.

“My lover, are you thinking you would like to become vampire?” he said quietly and cautiously – he didn’t want to scare her into a retreat.

“I don’t know. The idea never appealed to me before, but if my child is going to be “an immortal” maybe I should be, too.”

“It is something to think about, dear one.”

“Oh, I am thinking about it. Don’t get your hopes up, but let’s just say I’m not dead set against it anymore.”

Eric smiled to himself. They were quiet on the rest of the drive, but it didn’t take long to get there.

Eric knew where Felipe was quartered so they took the elevator from the garage straight to the room. He held her hand in the elevator and she was trying to breathe slowly so she didn’t hyperventilate. She hated vampire politics and she would never get used to the idea of royalty in America, but this was Eric’s life and if she loved him she had to accept that.

He kissed her cheek as the door opened and he let her exit the elevator first, though he got in front of her to knock on the door. Her job was to stay behind him, be charming, and never make him look weak in front of them. She was glad she wouldn’t need to speak.

“Northman. Come in.” Sandy answered the door. That was strange – no entourage?

“The King will be with you shortly. Nice to see you, Miss Stackhouse.” Sandy looked at Sookie strangely. Sookie felt like a t-bone in front of a starving dog. She’d had that feeling around vamps before, but this was pretty intense.

The inner door opened and they were ushered through to the main part of the suite. Felipe stood with his back to them, looking out the window into the night. Sandy came in behind them and closed the door, apparently intending to stay.

Felipe spoke, “Sheriff – I understand you have personal business to discuss with me?”

“Yes, your majesty, but it is of an acutely personal nature. It would be best for us to be alone, sire.”

Felipe turned to look at them. Sookie had forgotten how gorgeous he was – like an Hispanic Johnny Depp. He smiled at Sookie, fangs down a bit, “How lovely you look tonight Miss Stackhouse.” He took her hand. “Sandy, wait outside please.”

Sandy was not happy about this development but she exited quietly.

Felipe raised Sookie’s hand to his lips and kissed it. Then he turned her wrist over and kissed her there, inhaling her scent. “Miss Stackhouse, your scent has changed. You’ve always been sweet…” he kissed the crook of her elbow, “but tonight you are intoxicating.”

Eric was fighting not to growl and attack. Sookie was freaked out, but plastered the panic smile on her face and tried not to cringe.

“Your majesty is very observant.” Eric managed to say. “It is this change we have come to discuss.”

“Please, proceed.” Felipe said, still holding Sookie’s hand and looking at her very intently.

“Your majesty are you acquainted with Niall Brigant?”

“The fairy – of course- “

“Your majesty, I must place in you a great trust. Few beings alive or dead know that Brigant is Sookie’s great grandfather.”

That got Felipe’s attention. Now he looked at Sookie with surprise, but he didn’t let go of her hand.

“You are Fae, my dear? I’m sure I would have known…”

“She only found out herself very recently, sire.”

“During the skirmish at her house, you told Madden that forces beyond comprehension would be called into play if she were harmed.

“Yes your majesty.”

“If she had been harmed….”

“It could have touched off another war with the Fae.” If Felipe had had any color in his face, it would have drained just then. He was scared but he tried not to show it.

“Brigant wished to give his great granddaughter a gift like no other, something only he could provide.”

Felipe stared at him, still holding Sookie’s hand. Her palm was starting to sweat.

“Yes, and…”

“He worked magick so that I could impregnate Sookie. She is with child, your majesty – my child.”

“Sheriff, you are telling me that you, a vampire, have sired a child with a fairy?
“She is only ¼ fae, your majesty. It is a child of magick.”

Felipe stepped closer to Sookie, still holding her hand.

“My, my, Miss Stackhouse, you are full of surprises…”

Eric was biting his tongue so hard it bled. He wanted to kill Felipe for touching his bonded this way.

“Your majesty,” Eric continued slowly, “Sookie and I wish to marry. I owe you fealty, and Sookie has been offered protection by you for her heroism when she saved our lives from Siegbert, and we are here to beg of you to extend your protection to our child.”

Felipe’s mind was whirring like a top. Sookie thought she could hear the machinery between his ears making calculations.

“You will have a most unique nest, Sheriff.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“And you will be the first Sheriff in the Americas to wed a human. Maybe the first in the world.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“A child – and a wedding. How unique. No other regent has hosted such an event. What plans do you have for the ceremony? When is the child due?”

“The child is due in early August, sire, but we wish to be married before then. We had thought about a small ceremony in Las Vegas, perhaps the Bellagio or…”

“Nonsense, Sheriff. This is a most unusual occasion. You and your lovely fiancé will stay at my residence in Las Vegas and spend some time there. Your wedding will be my gift to the happy couple. How would a week from Sunday be?” Now he was holding Sookie’s palm open and stroking it, like he was a demented palm reader.

“A week from Sunday would be fine your majesty – we wish to be wed before the child comes and in another month or so Sookie will be unable to fly.”

Still holding Sookie’s hand, de Castro stretched his hand over Sookie’s abdomen, feeling the baby bump. “Yes, indeed, my dear – bursting with life.” His hand stayed there several seconds then drifted south, where he pressed in just a little over her clit and she jumped a bit. Eric was having visions of decapitating the king.

“Have we covered all of your personal matters, Sheriff?” he never took his eyes off Sookie.

“Yes, sire.”

“Very well. SANDY!”

Sandy was in the door so fast it was obvious she had been listening at the door, though with vampire senses she’d hardly need to.

“Sandy, we are going to host a wedding at my home in Nevada. You will make arrangements for the Sheriff, Miss Stackhouse and a party of…” he looked at Eric

“Four, your majesty.” He looked back at Sookie.

“…party of four to arrive in Nevada one week from Friday. We will hold a small cocktail party of about 50 on Saturday to introduce the Sheriff to the Sheriffs and important residents of our kingdom. Sunday we will hold the Wedding at 10 pm., followed by a small formal dinner. Their guests will leave during the day Monday, and the newly weds will stay until the following Friday. You will make a car and driver available to them, and you will coordinate the decorations and other details with Miss Stackhouse according to her desires. Spare no expense. We have much to celebrate. Are these arrangements satisfactory, Sheriff?”

He was still holding on to Sookie.

“More than we could have hoped for, your majesty.”

“I will make the announcement to extend protection to the child at the party. In the mean time, know that you have it as long as it is in its mother’s body.”

“Thank you, your majesty.”

De Castro turned Sookie’s palm upward and licked it. She fainted.

When Sookie woke up, they were in Eric’s car and headed home. She asked him to pull over to the side of the road and she leaned out and threw up. He didn’t ask her if she needed anything – he knew what she was feeling and he knew why she was sick. They stopped twice more for the same reason.

“Don’t hate me,” she finally said.

“I could never hate you, dear one.”

“I could never hate you, either.”

For the first time in a long time, he couldn’t think of anything to say.

 

 

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