LATE Chapter 046

Wizards and Witches and Weres, Oh Hell!

“You didn’t answer my question, Eric.”

“You are doing fine.”

“So you ARE training me?”

“There is some mild training going on between us. Nothing official yet.”

“What kind of training?”

“I have been teaching you what I like sexually, and learning what you respond to.”

“Isn’t that just being in a relationship?”

“Yes, of course.”

“So what do you mean “nothing official?””

“I mean we occasionally play games but we haven’t established a formal Dominant/submissive relationship in our day to day life. I am dominant when we have sex, but not necessarily at other times.”

“Isn’t that what you want? To be that all the time?”

“Yes, but I don’t expect it.”

“What would it involve that we aren’t already doing?”

“Stricter training, specific rewards and punishments. Mostly reward. You respond to stern looks and firm orders but I have never really punished you, even when I should.”

“When should you have punished me?”

“When you didn’t tell me that Janet Stevens had been in the hotel room the first time.”

“Why should you punish me… for forgetting?”

“For putting us all in danger by not telling me something I needed to know to keep us all safe.”

“But I didn’t do it on purpose.”

“No, but you did it, and I did nothing to assure that you will not do it again. It doesn’t matter, Sookie, I would not have done anything with Bobbie and Bill there.”

“If they hadn’t been there, what should you have done?”

“I wouldn’t have done it anyway, Sookie, not while you are pregnant.”

“OK, Bobbie and Bill aren’t there and I’m not pregnant, but I forgot to tell you something that put our family in danger and you want me not to do it again.“

“There is no point in dealing in hypothetical situations, my angel.”

“This is not some press conference in Washington, Eric. What should you have done?”

“I should have spanked you.”

“Isn’t that just sex play?”

“It can be, but it would not have been that kind of spanking.”

“What kind would it have been.”

He looked her right in the eye, and was absolutely serious. “The kind that really hurts, and makes you cry, so that you want very much never to earn another one.”

“See, most people would see that as abuse.”

“Most people are not a vampire and a Fae telepath with a magickal baby who might  be attacked, raped or killed by rival factions or jealous vampire kings. We were in serious danger, and you didn’t tell me something very important.”

“I never thought of it that way.”

“I have to think of it that way. It’s my job to keep us all alive. It’s also my job to teach you to think that way so you do the right thing in dangerous situations. I failed to teach you an important lesson.”

“But you weren’t angry with me…”

“It has nothing to do with anger, Sookie. It has to do with discipline, with knowing what to do in a dangerous situation. If we were human, those measures would be extreme, though there are still those who function that way willingly because they find it gratifying or fun. The circles we travel in not only expect that dynamic in our relationship, they require it.”

“So do you want to spank me?”

“Not while you are pregnant.”

“Do you ever spank just a little, just for fun?”

“Of course, but again, not while you are pregnant.”

“Who was the last person you spanked?”

“For fun – I don’t remember her name – some girl at Fangtasia. For discipline, Pam.”

“You spanked Pam until she cried?” Sookie was incredulous.

“The spanking – well, whipping, really – didn’t hurt her as much as the situation did. There were others present and she was humiliated.”

“But you love Pam.”

“Yes, but Pam defied me in front of my superiors. Not punishing her would make it look as if I could not control my own child and that could have been deadly for both of us. She left me no choice, so I pulled her over my lap and used a riding crop on her bare bottom in front of the Queen and her party. She has not defied me since.”

“I guess not.” Sookie couldn’t believe it. “Is that why she calls you ‘Master?’”

“Yes, among vampires, the maker is always Master of the child. That is a physical reality, not just a role that we play.  When you make a vampire child, you take on the responsibility of her training and obedience and she is bound physically to heed your call. Pam is literally not able to say ‘no’ to me in certain respects.”

“So if I go over, this is going to be the way it is, anyway?”

“To a degree, yes. At that point I doubt that you will need much training.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because that will be at least 2 years from now, and by that time you will know what I expect and you will be disciplined enough to do it.”

“You sound sure of that.”

“I am sure. I will do what I have to do to keep you and my son safe. Part of that will involve teaching you what you need to know, even if the methods are occasionally harsh. “

“But you didn’t this time.”

“I was wrong not to, but Bobbie told Bill and Bill told me, so I got the information anyway.” He looked straight at her again. “Sookie, I have told you what I expect now. You will not neglect to tell me such a thing again, or there will be a punishment, agreed?”

Sookie hesitated and he looked at her sternly, raising an eyebrow.

“Agreed,” she said softly. “How would Niall feel about this?”

“He would think me weak because I give you a choice.”

“And Freyja?”

“Life was much harsher in the past my lover. Your life will never include some of the hardships that Freyja would consider normal. You do understand, Sookie, that Freyja is trying to teach you about your own power, right?”

“No – what power?”

“Freyja seems to be encouraging you to embrace your own power as a woman and as a Witch.”

“Can I be powerful and submissive?”

“A good submissive always knows her own strength, my lover. It takes strength to submit to someone older or wiser. A weak person puts the needs of her ego above needs like safety or security or sometimes even common sense. It takes strength to turn away from your ego enough to accept discipline and bend your will to someone else’s demands. People in the military do it every day and it doesn’t make them weak, it makes them strong.

Think of it this way, Sookie. If you had married one of your brother’s friends from Merlotte’s, your ages would be very close – within two or three years probably – and you would have relatively similar life experiences and education, yes? There would be no reason for you to assume that he had any more wisdom or knowledge than you do, so you would be equally capable. Does that sound reasonable?”

“Yes, it does…”

“I am over 1000 years old. I have lived a long life in many places and many cultures and I have learned not only to adapt and survive, but to become wealthy and successful. Everything we have is the result of my learning and skill, is it not?”

“Yes, it is…”

“If one of us has a millennium more experience and one of us is very young and inexperienced…”

“Yeah, yeah, you should be calling the shots – but I have a say in things, too, right?”

“Of course, Sookie, you always have the freedom to say ‘no.’”

“But you don’t want me to have it…”

“I want you to have it but to choose not to use it.”

Sookie thought for a minute.

“Because it means more if I have it and don’t use it than if I didn’t have it at all.”

“Yes.”

“And I would choose not to use it because I trust you to know the right thing for me to do, and to know what I need.”

“Yes.” He made her look directly into his eyes. “And it is my job to meet all of your needs because nothing is more precious to me than you are. If caring for you means an occasional punishment to help you learn what you must not do, then it is my job to provide it.”

“And my job to accept it.”

“Yes.”

“Where does feminism fit in with all of this?”

“Well, in a sexual context, it doesn’t because it’s just sex. In a lifestyle context, there doesn’t have to be any conflict. If you had to work you should be paid fairly. If you want to start a business or go to school, you would be able to. I’ll never abuse you or hit you in anger. I’ve told you that you can do whatever you want. We can live where you want and how you want. You have complete freedom.”

“Because it’s my choice.”

“Yes.”

“And I chose you.”

“You did.”

“And you chose me…”

“I did.”

“So that means you care enough about me to take the time to train me.”

“If you are willing to be trained, yes, it does.”

“I’m willing.”

He looked at her for a long time.

“Go to sleep, Sookie. We will talk about this another time, alright?”

He spooned up behind her as she settled down and went to sleep. If they were human, this would be a great gift she just gave him, but they were not human. He wondered how long it would be before she realized that she really didn’t have a choice. Their lives made her obedience to him a necessity but she would accept it more readily if she thought she was choosing it. She was turning out to have quite a taste for being dominated anyway and that was good. It made it much easier to explain to her if she could see that she had chosen it. She HAD chosen it when she chose him, but when Niall arranged her pregnancy, that sealed the deal, so to speak.

He hoped Sookie never put together the fact that she had more or less been bartered by Niall to get what he wanted. Niall would say it was what everyone needed and it was for the good of Felipe’s subjects or he made Sookie’s dream come true or something like that, but the bottom line was he found a way to achieve a political goal and he used Sookie to do it. He was using all of them – Sookie, Eric, Bill, even Felipe – to… what?  Was Niall working for the Council? With the Council? Trying to get a spot on the Council? That made the most sense. Maybe Niall was trying to get his family line into the Council? If he got in, and Sookie was married to a King, she could conceivably inherit Niall’s position. No, he realized, Sookie could inherit, but her child, a male heir, born of a King and Queen, with Niall in his lineage – he WOULD inherit Niall’s place if he were to attain a position on the Council. Somebody had to be backing Niall’s move, though and there was still a matter of figuring out what Felipe did that made the Council turn against him.

Victor Madden. Eric was sure that there was something Victor would know about why Felipe had fallen out of favor. He might even have been behind it if he were the one that exposed Felipe’s treachery, whatever it was. Now, how to get the information from him?

Sookie was sleeping soundly and Eric took his papers into his office across the hall. He stood in the hallway for a few minutes, thinking about the storage room next to their room. He turned on the light and looked at the room. That would be the logical place for a nursery. He’d have to point that out to Sookie. It was time to start getting that together since they had a maximum of 3 months to put it together, though Eric had a feeling it would be sooner than that. The baby was too advanced for it to be that much longer. Bobbie and Alicia would be great help to Sookie in feathering her nest, and he was glad they’d be there for her. They’d make good surrogates for the mother, sisters and friends most girls would have in her condition. He thought sadly about Sookie being so alone in the world. A tomcat of a brother and a manipulative old Fae, plus a couple of Fae cousins didn’t amount to much of a family. His angel was almost as alone as he was, since he really only had Pam and now Sookie. It was a terrible thing to outlive the ones you love, but once you become vampire, that’s your only choice if you love a human.

He checked his email and his messages. There were messages from Pam and from Sandy.  Sandy was coming to the reception Monday to deliver the wedding pictures. Pam said Calvin Norris and Alcide Herveux were going to stop by Fangtasia at 10 o’clock tomorrow evening with a lady named Robin Prentiss and a man named Merlin White, 2 packmasters and either 2 Witches or a Witch and a Wizard, judging by those names. It was starting. He heard someone moving on the 2nd floor and thought it had to be Bill so he zipped down silently to see if he was still up.

“Bill?”

Bill looked up from the refrigerator. “Eric- I was just getting a blood –would you like one?”

“No, thanks, I fed tonight.”

“You’re lucky you can get enough nutrition from one source that way.”

“Yes, I’m very lucky in that respect. Do you have plans tomorrow night?”

“No, why?”

“Two Were pack masters and a couple of Witches or Wizards or whatever are coming to Fangtasia at 10 and I’d like you to go with me, and leave Bobbie here with Sookie.”

“It’s starting.” Bill was resigned to the fact that they were likely facing war.

“Yes, and if you and I are going to work together, I think you should be there to hear what they have to say.”

“Yes, you are probably right. We also need to discuss a strategy for handling Victor Madden Monday night.”

“Monday night should be interesting. Sandy left me a message that she’ll be there with our wedding photos. She wanted to drop them off personally.”

“She wants to see if you know anything about Felipe.”

“Exactly.”

“Do you think Victor knows Felipe is missing yet?”

“I think so – Dr. Ludwig said he smells blood in the water.”

“I can’t believe Ludwig is involved in all this.”

“That’s one of the reasons I believe the Council really is involved. That’s the only way she’d bother with any of this.”

“What did she say, exactly?”

“She told me there were two disappearances lately – Felipe and Quinn the Tiger – though she said she couldn’t imagine what the two of them could have had in common. “

“What they had in common is asleep in your bed.”

“Yes, but let’s hope very few people know that.”

“So, Eric, are they ever going to find Quinn?” Bill already knew the answer, but he asked anyway.

“My guess would be that they have a better chance of finding Felipe in the Las Vegas sewer system.”

“Fire?”

“Alligators.”

Bill shuddered. “Please tell me he was dead first…”

“I’m not a barbarian, Bill.”

“You must be mellowing with age.” Bill said wryly.

Eric laughed and smacked Bill on the back, and Bill just shook his head. He also knew that he could easily wind up like Felipe and Quinn if Eric ever even suspected that he had crossed him, and so would anybody that looked at Sookie twice from this point forward. He was pretty sure he’d be dead already if it weren’t for Sookie. Eric had a perfect opportunity to kill him when he attacked her but he didn’t and he was sure it was because Sookie was there. Bill didn’t have to get involved in this war, but he needed to get on Eric’s good side and stay there.

He couldn’t count on Sookie’s wishes taking precedence now that they were married. Eric had her and she wasn’t going anywhere, especially with a baby on the way, so he didn’t have to worry about keeping her happy by letting Bill live. Sam Merlotte and Alcide Herveaux better watch their backs, too. They never slept with Sookie, but they got close enough for Eric to see them as threats and that was no way to stay alive. Alcide even made the stupid move of telling his bitch fiancé that he had had sex with Sookie and he did it where Eric could hear him. Eric might kill him just for saying the words.

Up until now, he had thought Sookie had had a positive effect on Eric and maybe he wasn’t as ruthless as he used to be, but knowing he fed Quinn to alligators let him know this was the same old Eric and worse – once Eric had a son, retribution would be swift. He wouldn’t let enemies walk around unharmed. He figured the only reason Eric told him about Quinn was to let him know that he’d better not cross him. He was quite sure there would never be a trace of Quinn found and he knew they had successfully erased any sign of Felipe. That was typical of Eric. As much as he loved hand-to-hand combat, he was pragmatic enough to handle his business privately and leave no evidence and no witnesses. And the worst part of it was that Eric would actually make a good king. He always treated the people under him fairly, even to the point that his superiors sometimes thought he was too lax. He wasn’t, he just knew that fairness gets him more of what he wants with less effort. Anyone stupid enough to think they could cheat Eric was already dead. Where Sookie and the baby were concerned, he’d show no mercy at all. Threaten Eric’s nest and die – Bill knew it was as simple as that.

It was approaching sunrise so they went their separate ways, Eric to his secret spot and Bill to a converted closet in one of the bedrooms on the 2nd floor.  Since Bobbie was going to be here so much, Bill was going to have a simple but secure box installed on the 4th  floor. He’d be here most nights with Bobbie, Monday night being the exception because Fangtasia was closed that night and Eric and Sookie would want some privacy. Eric would want to mark his territory by fucking her in every room in the house, Bill thought bitterly to himself, so there would be no escaping the scent. He fully expected to come back a week from Tuesday and find their scent on     Be.  Vv     the 4th floor – that was Eric’s style. Might as well be prepared for it.

Eric had a lot on his mind as he went to rest. The biggest problem he had right now was Victor Madden. He knew Sandy would be looking for Felipe but he needed to know what she had said to Madden and how Sandy felt about Madden. He’d have several pairs of eyes watching them through the reception – Sookie, Pam, Bobbie, Bill, and his own. That many people should be able to glean some kind of information. His meeting with the Weres was probably going to put more eyes on his side since he knew that at least some representatives from all the packs would attend the reception. This reception was a huge event. That’s why Felipe had made such a big deal about the wedding and he was sure it was why they wanted to make sure they talked to him Saturday. Monday might be the time to strike, depending on what they had to say.

The last thing he thought about before he went to sleep, as usual, was Sookie. Every day she surprised him in some way, or delighted him. Now she was asking to be trained as a submissive. Oh, he was going to enjoy that. He really loved that girl more every day. “My angel” he thought to himself as he closed his eyes and slept.

Sookie stretched and heard some footsteps upstairs. She wondered what was going on but she knew Alicia and Margaret had it under control, whatever it was. She looked at Eric’s clock as she moved over to his pillow – almost noon. She was awake early today. Somebody else was awake, too.

“Good morning, Baby E. Mommy loves you.”

Love. Warm. Happy. Want.

“You’re hungry aren’t you, Sweetie. Let me see if I can get us some food and some blood. Hang on.”

She looked at her nightstand and saw that Alicia had already put her monitor there. She rolled back over and pushed the button.

“Yes, Mrs. Northman?” Alicia answered.

“Hi, Alicia – any chance I could get some breakfast?”

“Of course – I have it all ready. I’ll be right up. “

“Hang on, Baby E, food is on the way. Did you sleep well?”

Love. Funny.

He was laughing at her again. Just like Daddy.

“You’re just like your daddy, you know that Baby E?” She said as she patted the big bump.

Happy. Love. Fight.

Sookie laughed out loud. Yes, he and his daddy both loved a good fight. She couldn’t wait to meet Baby E face to face. She wondered if she’d still feel what he was feeling when he wasn’t inside her anymore. If not, she’d really miss this. She liked being able to put her hand on her tummy and check in with him. Eric liked it, too. She got a picture in her mind of Eric playing with the baby and melted. Eric was going to be a great daddy. She had no doubt of that at this point, considering the way he already talked to the baby and was so intense about taking care of both of them.

“Good morning, Mrs. Northman” Alicia came in with Sookie’s tray.

“Hi, Alicia – what’s for breakfast?”

“Well, I hope you aren’t getting tired of it, but it’s Salmon and bagels.”

“Yay! We love that stuff!”

“We?”

“The baby and me.”

“Ah – of course. How are the two of you feeling today?” Alicia took the note from the dresser and handed it to Sookie.

“So far, so good. No cramps this morning.”

“That’s good. You’ve got some ibuprofen on your tray there, so hopefully we’ll head them off today before they get started. Is there anything else I can get for you?”

“Could you hand me a couple of bloods from the little fridge? Thanks. Oh – what’s the noise I hear upstairs? It can’t be just Bobbie can it?”

“Actually it’s the movers helping her get settled. When she called them this morning they had a cancellation so they were able to meet her at her apartment, pack her up and bring her stuff on over. She didn’t have a lot so they’re almost done. “

“That’s great! After I eat I’ll go up and see if she needs any help.”

“Just remember, Mrs. Northman – you’re to stay off your feet and you aren’t to lift anything heavy.”

“I’ll remember. Thanks.”

“I’ll be downstairs if you need me. Enjoy your breakfast.”

Sookie dug into the salmon, noticing that Alicia brought her a lot of it the first time now because she always ate so much of it, and that was fine with her. Baby E was doing a happy dance because she was eating salmon again and drinking bloods. She thought he might really like fish when he grew up and then smiled to herself at the picture of a blond, blue-eyed three or four year old chowing down on salmon. Baby E was sending Happy and Funny, and she wondered if he could read her mind.

She turned her attention to the note from Eric.

My Wife –

I love you very much. I felt I needed to say that first for some reason, though you probably already know that. You are the best thing that ever happened to me.

Tonight I will need Bill to come to Fangtasia with me, and I would prefer that you and Bobbie stay home because we will be meeting with some people about matters of great importance.  Since I’d prefer that you stay in anyway, Bill and I will take your car. I don’t know how late we will be, so if you get sleepy, don’t wait up and I’ll wake you when I get home so we can spend time together.

Take good care of my son, my angel.

Your Husband,

 Eric

Sookie was able to read between the lines. This was about war against Felipe and Victor Madden and he wanted her and Bobbie to be safe in case anything happened.  There was nothing she could do to help right now, so she’d try not to think about it after she asked Freyja to please protect them all and let this be over quickly with as few casualties as possible. She noticed a different feeling when she prayed this time, like her head opened up and she knew she was being heard. She didn’t think much about it at the time, but she would think about it a lot in days to come.

Sookie finished and set her tray on the dresser, brushed her hair and threw on a little pink knit dress so she could see how Bobbie was doing.  She went up to the 4th floor and found several boxes in the hall way but Bobbie’s door closed. She knocked quietly, calling to her.

“Bobbie, are you awake?”

The door opened and a smiling, very happy Bobbie opened the door. There was some kind of strange music playing in the background.

“Good morning, Sunshine! How are you and the little Viking today?”

“We’re good. I wanted to see if you needed any help.”

“Nope, I’m doing fine. You’re welcome to keep me company while I put things in place if you want to.”

“I wouldn’t be intruding, would I?”

“Of course not. It’ll go much faster if we’re gabbing while I work.”

Sookie went in and Bobbie cleared a spot on the bed for her to sit down. She noticed there was already a stack of empty boxes, and figured Bobbie still had about 2/3 of her stuff to unpack. She was opening a big box that said “wardrobe” on it.

“That’s a big box.”

“Yes, it has my stuff hung up in it.”

“Hung up? Like there’s a bar in there?”

“Yep, see?” She pulled the panel down that allowed access to the clothes and Sookie could see it was like a little closet in a box.

“Wow – I never saw anything like that before.”

“You’ve never moved before, have you, Sugar?”

“No, not officially. Just moving a few carloads when I went to live with Gran and about the same when I moved here.”

“Moving companies use these so all you have to do is put your things from your closet on the rod in the box, then when you get there, you reverse the process.” Bobbie was laughing and obviously in a great mood. She started pulling stuff out of the box – beautiful prints and full skirts, things in bright colors and a little sparkle here and there.

“Wow, you’ve got really pretty gypsy-looking clothes. I always wanted clothes like that.”

“Yeah, they’re pretty and they’re comfortable, and most of my stuff didn’t cost much. If you like them so much, why don’t you wear clothes like that?”

“Everybody was already afraid of me when I was growing up because of my disability. The last thing I wanted to do was wear anything that looked mystical or Witchy. That would just add fuel to the fire. It was better to let them think I was crazy than to think I was a Witch or something.”

“Sookie, I’m so sorry that you grew up in a place where you couldn’t be yourself. I hate that you call it a disability. Telepathy is a great gift, and you should be proud of it.”

“It makes me a target with the Supes, though. They all want to control me and make me work for them.”

“Well, you’ve got Eric to protect you from that. From what I understand, he was a really good choice in terms of protection.” Bobbie continued to empty the box into her closet.

“Yeah, of the available options, he was the very best choice. That’s not why I’m with him, of course, I love him, but I do know that he was my best option for protection, too. It’s like we were made for each other.” Sookie was playing with a little stuffed lamb Bobbie had on her bed. Bobbie liked stuffed animals – how cute!

“Yes, it is. You two are charmed, you know. There’s magick all around you. Goddesses and Supes and lots of love. The Universe is taking care of you, Sookie.”

“I never thought of it that way.”

“There’s a saying – ‘Trust the Universe and She will provide.’ I think that’s especially true of you. You’ve had larger forces looking out for you your whole life.”

“I don’t know about that. I know they definitely are now. Like when I talk to Freyja, I can really feel Her listening.”

“That’s good. Enjoy that and be grateful for it and make the most of it. Whenever you are worried or in need, call on Her.”

“Like when I had those cramps the other morning. I’m sure She made that guy knock on the wrong door to wake you up.”

“So am I and I was very glad She did. I’m not sure I would have heard you calling me, but that loud knock got my attention because I was sort of listening for it.”

“So, this might be rude to ask, but is Eric paying you enough for all of this? Should I ask him for more money for you?”

“Eric was extremely generous – more than I would have dared hope for. Don’t you worry about that, Sweetie. Getting this job was like winning the lottery for me in a lot of ways.”

“Really? I didn’t know that but that’s good, huh?”

“That’s great. Your little family is making history and I get to be right here with you as it happens. That’s going to look great on my resume. I’m crazy about you and Eric, and of course I’m completely gone on Bill.”

Sookie smiled at that – she was happy for Bill and Bobbie.

“I’m making a ton of money and I don’t even have to pay for rent or food. I’m living in this beautiful house, I get to take care of you and eventually a baby, and I just love kids. I can use the meditation room, the sauna, the swimming pool. I just got to stay in a penthouse suite at the Bellagio – how many people ever get to do that? I love this job.” She was laughing again.

“OK, good. If you need anything at all, like furniture or something, just tell me and I’ll tell Eric or you can tell Alicia.”

“Don’t you worry, Honey, I’m as happy right now as I’ve ever been. This is my dream job.” Having emptied the wardrobe box, Bobbie moved it out into the hallway.

“Oh, good – I’m glad. I was so glad you took it!  I’m so much more comfortable with you than most people. You’re easy to talk to and you know so much about everything.”

“Thank you, Sookie.  Did Eric tell you about he and Bill going to Fangtasia tonight?”

She opened another box and started putting clothes into dresser drawers.

“Yeah, he left me a note. It’s just you and me tonight. They’re taking my car or we’d go somewhere or do something.”

“There will be plenty of time for that later on. I think he wants you to stick close to home until he knows what’s going on. There are apparently big things brewing.”

“There’s always drama with Vampires – Supes of any kind, really. The power struggles just go on and on.”

“It keeps life from getting boring though.”

“I could use a little boring. You’ve never been in a war with them, Bobbie, with heads and blood flying everywhere. I was never in the hospital until I met Bill and I’ve been in several since. I could live without getting beaten up, blown up, shot at…”

“Eric’s not going to allow anything to happen to you while you’re pregnant. Anyone who looks crossways at you is going to be finally, irrevocably dead. Bill already prepared me for that. He said not to be freaked out because it will definitely happen. Where you and the baby are concerned, Eric will kill first and not bother with the questions.”

“I’m glad Bill told you that. I was afraid something would happen and you’d freak out. When you’re around Supes for any length of time, you’ll see violence.”

“Yeah, I figured that out when we had to get rid of that body when he tried to stake Eric and you stabbed him.”

“Yes, and odds are you’ll have to do something like that, too. There are huge advantages to dating a vampire, but there are costs, too. As ugly as it can get, though, I can’t see myself living with a normal guy after this. I can’t see myself with anyone but Eric.”

“As far as I’m concerned the sexual advantages are worth the risk.”

“Really? I’ve never had sex with a human guy…”

“You aren’t missing much, believe me. Now and then you’ll find one who knows what he’s doing and cares about what you’re feeling, but I’ve never met one who was as skilled as the vampires I’ve dated or as generous. Most guys can’t go on for hours the way a vamp can, and vamps are always ready. Some of the things you do to them are less messy, too.”

“Less messy?”

“Yeah, you know – like that they don’t go to the bathroom. It saves a lot of clean-up, especially considering how much Bill likes p-spotting.”

“What’s that?”

“What? P-spotting? You know what that is, right? Bill loves it – you must have…”

“I never heard of it. It’s a sex thing?”

“Yes, it’s what you do to them sometimes while you’re blowing them.”

Sookie was lost. “I don’t think I know what that is. I mean, I know what a blow job is, obviously, but I don’t think I ever did anything extra.”

“Really? Eric never taught you, either?”

“I guess not. I’m always asking if there’s anything else I should be doing.”

“Maybe he doesn’t like it – though that would really surprise me. I know Bill loves it and wants it every time.”

“I know this is a little embarrassing, but can you tell me how it’s done?”

“Sure – you can surprise Eric with something new.”

“That would be awesome! So what do I do?” Sookie was stoked – she was going to have something new to do for Eric!

“Well, you need lubricant…”

“Got that, and…”

“When you’re going down on them, you put a couple of fingers in their rectum…”

“What?! Seriously?” Sookie was more than a little freaked out.

“Uh-huh – that’s why I said it’s better to do it with a vampire.”

“And they like that?”

“Yes, but there’s more….”

“OK, after your fingers are… in…”

“Right, you curl them forward a little and you’ll feel a little lump. That’s the prostate gland, and you sort of stroke it. It drives them wild.”

“Huh – I wonder why Eric didn’t teach me that? Or Bill, even.”

“Maybe they were afraid it would scare you or gross you out? Aren’t you sort of… still learning?”

“Yeah, there are a few things he has only been doing to me a little while…”

“Anal stuff?” Bobbie was pretty sure that was what she meant.

Sookie blushed. “Yeah, that.”

“He probably planned to show you, he just hadn’t gotten that far yet.”

“He did something the other night that really shocked me – I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to do that…”

“What’s that, Hon…?”

“He… licked me…. back there….”

Bobbie laughed a little. “That’s called ‘rimming’. Some people really love it.”

“Doing it or getting it done to them?”

“Either, both, whatever.”

“I don’t know if I could ever…”

“Just take it one step at a time, Sookie. Try the trick with your fingers first and see if he likes it. My guess is he’ll be thrilled. You’ll like it, too.”

“I will?”

“Yes – it gives you a little power over them. He’ll be at your mercy.” Bobbie wiggled her eyebrows and Sookie laughed.

“OK, that sounds good. Maybe it’s something I can do when he’s in ‘virtuoso mode’”

  • “You mean playing you like a violin?” Bobbie smiled.

“Exactly. I can’t believe how he can make me feel sometimes.”

“Like I said, the sex alone is worth the risk. Add in their beauty, their charm, their great manners, the fact that they can and will dance in public, they’re well educated, the lifestyle is lavish and exciting…”

“They’re fantasy guys, like from a romance novel…”

“Exactly. I’d do just about anything to have that in my life.” Bobbie had thought about this a lot.

“Yeah – me too. We’re really lucky, huh?”

“Yes, we are.” They both laughed.  Bobbie put another empty box in the hallway, and brought in a heavy box that she sort of dropped on the bed.

“What’s that?” Sookie was curious what would be so heavy.

“Books. I’m glad there’s an empty shelf in here.”

“You have a lot of books?”

“Not a huge amount, but some that I need around to consult or enjoy. Don’t you have books?”

“Not many. I get most of mine from the library. Eric has books in his first floor study, but I’ve only read –or I’m reading – one so far.”

“Which one?”

“It’s called Rebecca…”

“By Daphne du Maurier?”

“Yeah, have you read it?”

‘Yes, and I’ve seen the movie many times, of course.”

“I’ve never seen it – is it good?”

“Yes, very – it won Best Picture way back when. Alfred Hitchcock directed it. We should rent it if you’re reading the book. The movie is a little different than the book, but you’ll love it. “

“That sounds cool. Alfred Hitchcock – he did The Birds?”

“Yes, and as a matter of fact, the same woman that wrote Rebecca wrote The Birds.”

There was a knock at the door and Bobbie opened it. It was Alicia.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Northman, I ‘m getting ready to run some errands. Is there anything you’d like me to bring you from town?”

“Do I have a garter belt and stockings I could wear under my dress Monday night?”

“No, you’d need a beige one for that – I’ll add that to my list.” She wrote it on her list.

“Also, this is weird and if it’s too much trouble, don’t bother, but you know that book I’m reading – Rebecca?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Would you get me a copy of that movie? Are they expensive to buy, or can we rent it or something?”

“It’s easier just to buy it and add it to Mr. Northman’s collection if he doesn’t have it. OK, I’ll put that on the list and see if I can find it. I’ll check the video cabinet before I leave. Anything else?”

“Caesar salad…?” Sookie said apologetically.

“With lots of anchovies – no problem. Bobbie do you like anchovies? Should I make enough for both of you?”

“Yes, that would be great, thank you.”

“Thank you so much, Alicia. I really appreciate it.”

“No trouble at all, Mrs. Northman. Margaret is here if you need something to eat and we’ve already taken the massage table down for your session today. I’ll see you in a few hours.”

“Thanks – bye!”

“Thank you, Alicia” Bobbie chimed in.

“Cool – we can watch that tonight while the boys are being big wheels.” Sookie laughed.

“That’s great, I can watch that movie any time.”

“So what kind of books do you have?” Sookie was peering into the copier paper box marked WK BK.

“You can look through them if you want. I have quite a few on massage and aromatherapy, of course, some books about the Goddess, Wicce, Herstory books…”

“Wicce is the Witches’ religion, right?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“Is that mostly women?”

“Mostly, but not exclusively. There are women only groups, but there are also mixed groups and even a few male only or gay men only groups. It is sometimes referred to as The Women’s Religion, though.”
“And what was that other thing you said?”

“Herstory? It’s a type of book where feminists and/or female researchers are trying to find the truth under the patriarchal structure that was imposed on culture, religion and literature starting about 6,000 years ago.”
“Patriarchal structure?”

“Yes – it’s the Abrahamic concept that the father rules. For example, Supe culture is, for some reason I don’t understand, extremely patriarchal – they care a lot about hierarchy, men sort of “own” females they date, all the traits we consider old fashioned are patriarchal elements. Most Witches – not all, but most – advocate a Matriarchal system where everyone would be more or less equal and people would live in peace instead of having their economies rely on war.”

“War, so rich people can stay rich? Bill said that one time.”

“Exactly. Only the rich benefit from war. They make money no matter who wins in most cases. They use things like religion and patriotism to get people to do things out of a sense of honor that they would normally never consider doing to another human being.”

“I never thought about it that way. I don’t know a lot about politics.”

“It’s all tied in together – religion, politics, science, education, art and culture. They have all been manipulated over the centuries to keep women from having their fair share of power all because they wanted to establish a patriarchal system of inheritance.”

“Were there people that lived the other way? The Matriarchal way?”

“Were and still are. At one point, all people started out that way, but the evidence of that has been destroyed or deliberately hidden. The Mosuo of China are still matrifocal and have no concept of marriage. Many Native American tribes still have functioning matriarchies. There have even been conferences here in America where matriarchies from all over the world were represented.”

“Wow – I never heard of that.”

“A lot of people never heard of that – but more are hearing about it every day. The Goddess is reawakening in us, and She’s speaking more directly to people every day. It’s an exciting time to be a Witch or a Goddessite.”

“They’re mostly the same thing, though, right?”

“Mostly – some will use one label but not the other, but most are comfortable with either descriptor.”

“How do you know if you’re a Witch.”

“No one has to tell you, Sookie. If you are, you know.”

“You think I am, don’t you.”

“Goddesses speaking in your dreams is a pretty direct sign, Sweetheart.”

“Yeah, I know. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. They’re a lot more real than regular dreams, you know.”

“No, I didn’t know but it’s not surprising that they would feel differently. Just as it feels different when you remember a dream or you remember a fantasy. They’re both forms of thought, but you can tell the difference.”

“Yeah. If you were going to read a starter book, what book would you read?”

“Well, there are a few good ones, but there is a good one – hang on…”

Bobbie brought in another copier paper box from the hallway that was marked with a star inside a circle. She set it down next to Sookie and took the lid off. Sookie looked at the books as she took them out – The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion, The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, When God was a Woman, The Living Goddesses, The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, Women’s Rites – Women’s Mysteries, Goddesses in Every Woman, Goddess Alive, The Return of the Goddess, The Once and Future Goddess. The Great Cosmic Mother

“Wow – I didn’t know there were so many.”

“This is just a fraction of what’s available, Sookie. There are millions of Goddess worshippers all over the world and more every day.” Bobbie was still pulling books out of the box. “Naturally the one I wanted was on the bottom,” she laughed. She handed Sookie a book.

Ariadne’s Thread: A Workbook of Goddess Magic by Shekhinah Mountainwater…” Sookie read aloud. “

“I studied with Shekhinah many years ago. She passed away last year, but she managed to get the basis of her teachings into book form. They were just Xeroxes when I studied with her. She was a gentle soul, and a good teacher. You’ll like this book.”

“OK, can I borrow this?”

“Sure you can…”

“I have a question. Eric believes in Goddesses and gods – why isn’t he a Witch?”“Well, from what I have seen, Eric is a Norse Pagan. Most of their groups are post-patriarchal, and they consider magick to be a woman’s thing. They even believed that a man who practiced magick would become a woman once every 8 days because the Goddess wouldn’t work through a person who was male all the time.”

“Then why would Eric be so close to a Goddess like Freyja?” 

“Freyja was a special Goddess where warriors were concerned. She leads the Valkyries into battle where they’re Shield Maidens standing behind the warriors to protect them. Freya chooses half of the best slain warriors to live with Her and the other half are taken by the Valkyries to Odin’s place, Valhalla, where the Valkyries make a feast for them. The advantage of being chosen by Freya is that your lover or wife can go with you to her house, where Odin’s was men only.”

“I guess that’s good then – She cares about babies, too…”

“Yes, and I’d say She has quite an interest in your little Viking. He’s already a scrapper, I’ll bet.”

“He is. I’m telling you Bobbie, this is not just my imagination, he can’t wait to be able to fight. He’s just like Eric. He worships Eric, too. I can feel such pride flowing between them.”

“That’s sweet, though I doubt Eric would want it described that way. He can communicate with the baby, too, right?”

“Yes and now he can even do it when he isn’t touching me. He can be on another floor and communicate with him. Pretty soon I’ll bet he can feel him at a distance the way he can me.”

“At a distance?”

“Yeah, like if he’s at Fangtasia and I’m here, or when I worked at Merlotte’s, he’ll know how I’m feeling and if he doesn’t like what he’s getting from me, he’ll come home or come to where I am. I was kidnapped once and the bond led him straight to me.”

“Wow – that’s handy! That’s from the blood bond?”

“Well, if you take in a significant amount of a vamp’s blood, they can track you. Have you fed from Bill yet?”

“Yes, I have. It was wonderful.”

“It took me a long time to admit that I liked it, but honestly, sometimes the feedings are the best part of sex. Anyway, now Bill knows things about you.”

“He does?”

“Yeah, if you were in trouble, he could probably find you, and he’ll know if you’re scared or sad or especially if you’re horny.”

“That could REALLY come in handy,” Bobbie laughed.

“Yeah, you can’t hide how you feel from them once you’ve tasted them.”

“You can’t walk away from them either, can you?”

“After a certain point, no. I’m probably very close to that point with Eric, and he’s happy about it. He wants me to be so I can’t ever leave him.”

“He does?”

“Yes, and he never said this, but I’m pretty sure that’s because he can’t leave me.”

“He wouldn’t want to, would he?”

“No, but he couldn’t if he did. I think he wants to make sure that works both ways.”

“Is he insecure?”

“No, but he’s possessive and jealous. I’m getting used to that though. Aw, who am I kidding, I’m starting to love that.” Sookie laughed. “He can be such a cave man.”

Bobbie laughed, too.  Bill didn’t really do caveman, but he could do crazy intense and she liked it.  She looked at the clock on her nightstand.

“Sookie, you know it’s almost 3 o’clock. Why don’t we go down to the pool and do your session. You need to exercise and I want to make sure you get a thorough massage today.  You could probably use another dose of ibuprofen, too.”

“Good idea. I’ll meet you at the pool.” 

Sookie stood and shook her legs out a little, taking the book with her and heading down to her room. Bobbie changed into her suit and a terry cover up, and took a beach towel with her though she knew they would have towels downstairs.  She took a minute to empty a couple more boxes of books that she just stacked in the floor next to the shelf so she could leave the empty boxes in the hallway to be cleared away.

By the time Bobbie got downstairs, Sookie was floating in the pool.

“You look comfortable!” Bobbie called to Sookie.

“Grab a mattress over there and join me. We can hang out for a while before we work out.” Sookie was in the mood for some sun, and it was the best time of the day for that as far as she was concerned.

Bobbie did exactly that, and soon they were both floating around, chatting and giggling like school girls. Sookie loved this. She never had a really close friend and certainly never one she got to hang around in the pool with. She didn’t feel like Bobbie was an employee at all. She felt almost like she was a sister, even though she hadn’t known her that long.

“Ohhhhhhh- it’s so nice out here!” Sookie said. “I love floating in the water. Even Baby E is liking it today, though I think he’s actually asleep,” she laughed.

“Doesn’t he always like it?”

“He gets a little sea sick, sometimes, I think.”

“A Viking that gets sea sick? Don’t tell Big Daddy. He’d never live that down,” Bobbie joked and Sookie laughed with her. They floated around that way for about an hour, then Bobbie insisted they get to work. She put Sookie through a pretty thorough workout in the water, and Sookie was relieved when it was time for her massage.

Sookie got completely undressed this time without thinking anything about it. She was glad they were doing this on her side now, because the bump just kept getting bigger.

“I can’t believe how big this bump is getting. I know I say that every day, but seriously, have you ever seen anything grow so fast?”

“No sweetie, I have to admit, you’ve got almost a volley ball there.”

“Nothing will hide it anymore. I’m just going to have to deal with being pregnant,” she laughed. “Saying it is one thing, but being it, where it’s this visible, is something I just haven’t processed yet. I hope my dress looks OK Monday night.”

“You’ll look like a Goddess in that dress, especially because you’re pregnant. It’s going to get even bigger, Sweetie, so just accept it. You’re going to get big and round so you can have a fat little Viking baby with blond hair and blue eyes whose first word is going to be “fight.” Bobbie laughed and Sookie did, too.

“Ain’t that the truth?! Fight, Daddy, Sword, Blood. I just know Eric will give him a little plastic sword in the crib.”

“Speaking of cribs, have you thought about a nursery yet? You’ve only got a couple of months. You want to have it ready well before you go into labor so you have a place to take him.”

“Yeah, we’ll have to look for stuff like that. Alicia will help some. She probably knows where to shop for stuff like that.”

“You’ve got a laptop, right? We can use that to look at stuff on line and see what’s available. That way you know what to look for, what you like, what you don’t, what prices are like, all of that.”

“Good idea. I was going to ask Eric if we could use the storage room next to our room. If he says yes, I guess the first thing to do is get it painted.”

“Any ideas about that?”

“Yeah, I want a really pretty robin’s egg blue to match his eyes.”

“I hope his eyes really do turn out to be blue…”

“Eric says they will. He saw him and he had blue eyes.”

“He saw him?”

“Yeah, the minute he was convinced it was his son, he said he saw him very clearly.”

“You know, Eric is a bit of a Witch himself, but I’m sure he wouldn’t admit that.”

“Because they think magick is a woman’s thing?”

“Exactly.”

“He’d think that made him a sissy, right?”

“Basically.”

“That’s silly.”

“Yes, but that’s the way it is.”

Margaret came out the door, “Hello, girls, what time would you like to have dinner?”

“Any time – the guys will be up soon so maybe we can have family dinner?” Sookie looked at Margaret and Bobbie.

“Works for me,” Bobbie said.

“Alright then, I’ll start dinner now. “

“Margaret, what are we having?”

“Well, I was thinking rare steak unless there’s something else you’d like.”

“Can I have steak tartare instead?”

“Of course, Mrs. Northman. I’ll get right on that. Bobbie what would you like?”

“I could take a rare steak if that’s not too much trouble.”

“Not at all, dear. Ok, It will be about an hour.”

Bobbie and Sookie each went to their rooms to take showers and change into some regular clothes. Sookie drank a blood and lay down for a few minutes after she got out of the shower and promptly fell asleep.

“Wake up, my beautiful wife,” Eric was leaning over her, smiling at her.

“I fell asleep.”

“Yes, apparently you did.”

“Did I miss dinner?”

“No, my angel, we are waiting for you to come and eat. Can I help you get dressed?”

 

“Yeah, I guess.” He helped Sookie sit up because she was groggy, and picked up the pink dress folded on her side chair.

 

“Here, my lover, let’s slip this over your head.” It took a little effort but they got her into it, and he picked her up and carried her downstairs.

“Sleeping Beauty has decided to join us.” Eric joked.

“It’s about time,” Bobbie teased her.

“I’m sorry – I just lay down on the bed for a minute and I guess I passed out.” Eric set Sookie gently in her chair.

“That’s understandable, Sookie. Babies take a lot out of a pregnant mother.” Bill chimed in.

“Yes, and my son will need a lot of energy from you to grow big and strong, so we will feed you and you will go back to bed.”

“I can’t – Bobbie and I are going to watch a movie.”

“We can do that in your room, Sookie and then if you get sleepy, you just go with it and don’t worry about it. “

“Yes, the TV has a DVD player built in.” Eric reminded her.

Margaret served Bobbie’s steak and Sookie’s steak tartare with some of the Caesar salad that Alicia made for them on the side, and went back for the bloods for Bill and Eric.

“So this is a nightly tradition here?” Bill asked.

“Yes,” Eric replied, “Sookie asked if we could have family dinner every day.”

“The baby wakes up when I do and when Eric does right now, so I figure he’ll be here in a high chair sometime soon. Families should eat together when they can.”

“Makes sense to me,” Bobbie said.

“I think it’s a pleasant idea,” Eric says “even if I don’t technically eat, I like to keep Sookie company while she has her dinner.”

“I think it’s a very nice idea. I can see us all here with a little baby throwing food at us,” Bill teased. Eric laughed and Sookie pretended to be offended.

“Hey, now, my baby will not throw food at people.”

“No, but he might enjoy tracking it down and clubbing it himself,” Eric added. Everyone laughed.

“I just got this picture of Bam Bam sitting here with a club,” Sookie laughed.

“Who is Bam Bam?” Bill asked and Eric shrugged.

“Bobbie, can you explain it?” Sookie just wanted to eat.

“There was a cartoon in the 60’s called The Flintstones and two of the characters had this little towheaded baby boy named Bam Bam and he was unusually strong. He’d yell “Bam! Bam!” and slam this club that he played with down and everything in the house would shake.”

“Blond and unusually strong – that sounds like my son.” Eric said smugly.

“Oh, boy – here he goes with the “my son” stuff,” Sookie teased.

“Sookie, I have told you many times that when a man sires an extraordinary child, he is entitled to crow a bit.”

“We’ll see if you’re still crowing when you get to change your first diaper.” Bill said.

“Do you think I will be unable to do something so simple?” Eric asked.

“Not unable – unwilling. I think you’ll hand him off to Sookie or Bobbie or Margaret or Alicia…”

“And this is a problem because…?” Eric asked

“Well, Eric, you know, a father really should be involved with his child and do things like that, too.” Sookie said hopefully.

“My wife, I am sure that, while it will not be my favorite thing to do, I will be able to do that for my son when it is necessary. I will need to be able to do that when he and I are alone.”

“When would that be?” Sookie asked.

“If, for example, I take him to Fangtasia with me, or we travel together, or you are asleep and he needs to be changed.”

“Would you really change a dirty diaper rather than wake me up?” Sookie asked doubtfully.

Bobbie was impressed.

“I am sure you will be very tired, my angel, and I do not get tired. I do not expect to do it that often, but I would certainly take the initiative to allow you to rest.”

“And you would actually take a baby into Fangtasia? A FAE baby?”

“We’ll see if he’s actually Fae when he is born.”

“Eric, he’s going to be Fae.”

“We will see. I think he will be vampire.”

“Eric, don’t get your heart set on that – you know he’ll be Fae.”

“Did you not hear the doctor say that he is a vampire at heart?”

“I don’t think she meant…”

“I do. Look at the way he demands blood even now and you’ve been told he needs more. I think he will be able to eat food, but he will be vampire first of all.”

“What if he’s Fae?”

“I will love him no matter what he is, Sookie, but I believe he will be vampire. I think Niall tried so hard to make him resemble me that he resembles me more than he’d probably like.”

“So you won’t be angry or disappointed…?” Sookie was a little concerned.

“I wouldn’t be disappointed even if he were human, though we know very well he is not. What was the first thing he sent to you after Love, Warm, Happy?”

“What?” Sookie wasn’t sure what he meant.

“Fight,” Eric said proudly.

Bobbie laughed.

“Yeah, we were talking about that today,” Sookie said.

“He will be just like me.” Eric said proudly.

“I said that to him this morning.”

“You did? Why – what happened?” Eric was excited. Bill was amazed at how important this child was to Eric. Maybe there was some feeling in him after all.

“He was happy because I drank some blood and ate some salmon, and I said ‘you’re just like your daddy, you know that?’ and he sent Love. Happy. Fight. He associates “Daddy” with “Fight” already.”

Eric beamed with pride and Bill and Bobbie laughed.

“You’re right, Sookie, he’s already like his daddy.” Bobbie laughed as Bill shook his head. “Which reminds me – we were talking about a nursery today.”

“I thought you might want to use the storage room next to ours, Sookie. I can put those things elsewhere and then the baby will be near us. “

“Oh, good, that’s what I was hoping we could do.”

“When do you want it cleared out?” Eric asked.

“Soon. We need to paint it and I need to start getting it set up.”

“We need to be careful about the paint you use, Sookie.” Bobbie mentioned.

“Why?” Eric couldn’t imagine why it would matter.

“Well, paint can have toxic fumes or even lead in it. We want one that won’t affect Sookie or the baby.”

“Can you take charge of that, Bobbie and assure a safe paint is used? We’ll engage painters as soon as you know what you need to use. I’ll give you Bobby Burnham’s number and you can work it out, if that’s alright.”

“That’s fine. I think I spoke to Mr. Burnham about this job early in the process?”

“Yes, that’s right. He takes care of anything I need done in the daytime. I’ll have some of the gardener’s men move the things in that room to the basement, you find the paint and then have him arrange the painters. Then Sookie will have a place to acquire all the baby equipment she will need. I understand that is a major project for women.”

“Yes, it’s a big deal.” Sookie said.

“Yes, and a great joy, I gather. Modern American women celebrate everything with shopping.”

“Since when did you have a problem with me shopping?”

“I don’t have a problem, I just find it funny that women today need so much for a baby. We had next to nothing where I lived my human life and yet our children thrived.”

“Thrived?” Bobbie called him on that.

“Some of them, anyway.”

“A lot of them died in those days because they didn’t have the kind of things Sookie will have.”

“Yes, but Bobbie you will admit that women take great pleasure in feathering their nests, will you not?”

“Yes, I will admit that.”

“That’s all I am saying. You two enjoy the process, get whatever you want and I have no doubt my son will have the finest nest available in the 21st century.”

“Eric, we should be getting ready to go,” Bill reminded him.

“Yes, Bill, you are right. I need about 20 minutes.”

“I can be ready then.”

“Alright,” Eric stood and kissed Sookie then zipped up the stairs. Bill kissed Bobbie and followed after shortly while Bobbie and Sookie finished their meals with a piece of German chocolate cake. Sookie was very happy to see that Margaret had been baking and thanked her profusely so she’d keep it up. Bobbie shook her head and smiled as Sookie ate a second HUGE piece of cake with such enthusiasm it made Bobbie wonder what she was like in bed. She knew from the Vegas trip she could be a little loud, but she also seemed to be very responsive to any kind of stimuli – almost like a vampire. She wondered if that was natural or if it was from drinking so much of Eric’s blood.

Bill was the first one to come back into the kitchen and he looked around for Margaret since Alicia had already gone home. He went back and they heard a door open, a car trunk slam and then the guys came back in and kissed Bobbie and Sookie good bye.

“What was that about?” Sookie asked Eric very softly.

“Swords.” Eric said, and she understood. He didn’t want Margaret to see him loading swords in the car and they thought they might need them tonight.

“Please be careful” Sookie pleaded with him.

“Always, my angel. Go to bed and watch your movie. I will come home as early as I can, but it may be very late.”

Bobbie grabbed the movie and she and Sookie took the elevator upstairs after the guys left. Sookie also grabbed the large container of Caesar salad and two forks. They went up to Eric’s bed and Sookie raised the TV out of the cabinet as Bobbie opened the movie and put it into the slot on the side of the TV.

“Do you think anyone saw you put the swords in the trunk?” Bill asked.

“No, I’m sure no one did. Have you ever used a Katana?”

“I’m more familiar with sabers, of course, but I have used one once or twice. I’m surprised you use one.”

“I prefer a broadsword but they are hard to move around without arousing suspicion. I have one in my office and one in the house, though. I’m bringing these more for you and Pam. She’s good with a sword.”

“Where did she learn that?”

“From me, just as Sookie will.”

“You’re going to teach Sookie to use a sword?”

“Yes, I want her to be able to protect herself. She’ll probably never be able to attack with one, but I want her to be able to defend against an attack.”

“Do you think that’s necessary?” Bill didn’t like the idea of Sookie fighting.

“Yes, I do. We may be under constant threat if I’m put in power.”

“Is she strong enough?”

“She has had so much of my blood at this point that she’s very strong and she’s getting quick, too. The yoga and other exercises Bobbie has been doing with her are making her more graceful and limber. I’m going to teach Bobbie to use a sword, too.”

Bill didn’t say anything. He didn’t like the idea of either girl using a sword, but he knew that it was the practical thing to do. He hoped he didn’t get Bobbie into something that was going to get her hurt. It was up to Eric to protect Sookie now, but Bobbie was Bill’s responsibility. Eric would protect her because she worked for him, but Bill was the one who should really be looking out for her.

“Bill, are you alright?” Eric asked, knowing he had something on his mind.

“I was just thinking about Bobbie. I hope she doesn’t get hurt in all of this.”

“I hope not, either. She’s a nice woman and she’s becoming a good friend to Sookie. By the time the baby gets here, Sookie will consider her part of the family if she doesn’t already. She deserves a long and happy life.”

“Eric, you almost sound as if you care.”

“I do, if only for selfish reasons. She is good for Sookie and she’ll be good for my son. I want her around because of what she can do.’

“That I can believe. I can’t believe she hasn’t run yet.”

“She’s not going to run, Bill. She loves everything about you, including… or maybe especially… that you are vampire. She’s old enough to know what she wants. She already helped dispose of two bodies without even blinking. She’s exactly where she wants to be. And if you are going to insist on dating a human woman, you’d hardly find one better suited to dating a vampire.”

“I suppose so.”

“The first thing we do when we get inside is look for listening devices in my office.”

They pulled into the back lot at Fangtasia, looked around the area and took the swords out of the trunk. They went into the club, which was already unlocked.

“Pam” Eric nodded to her.

“Master” she nodded back, “Hello, Bill. Is that a sword or are you just happy to see me.”

“Hello, Pam. I don’t know that I’ve ever been happy to see you.”

Pam cracked up and walked away.

Bill and Eric went through his office thoroughly twice and found no bugs of any kind. Eric sat at his desk and Bill sat at the chair facing it.

“So what are we going to tell these people?” Bill asked.

“I expect we’ll do very little telling and a lot of listening. I need to know what they’ve been told and by whom. There’s a huge shift of power going on here and I’m not sure why.”

“Eric, do you think any of this could be connected to Sookie seeing Freyja? Or to her being pregnant?”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a connection to the pregnancy and that Niall is it, but I don’t know how he could pull all of this off. I’m not sure about Freyja’s part in it all, if there is one, but I do think She’s a part of it.”

“Have you figured out yet what de Castro did to bring all of this on himself?”

“No, but I have a theory that part of what is going on is that Niall wants to get himself on the Council.”

“Really? What would that accomplish?”

“Eventually, it would mean my son would inherit his seat on the Council when he was grown.”

“And what would that do?”

“I don’t know. It’s frustrating. It’s like a giant chess game and I can only see part of the board. I’m playing blind without more information.”

They drank some bloods and considered different scenarios – should they go to New Orleans and track Madden to his nest? Lure him into a trap? Wait for the perfect opportunity to strike? No obvious solution presented itself and Eric grew more frustrated. He was used to seeing a clear way forward. In the past he had always concluded quickly what the best course of action would be. This situation had too many unknowns and variables. Without more information, there was no way to account for all contingencies.

He knew Niall had said he had a decade to drive Felipe’s forces out of the Louisiana Territories, but he felt as if things were moving into place much faster than that. It was as if larger forces wanted him gone from both territories now. It almost seemed too fast.

At 10 o’clock Pam brought the Pack Masters and their associates back to Eric’s office. Eric and Bill stood up as they entered.

“Norris. Herveaux.” Eric nodded to them “You know Bill Compton, of course.”

“Yes, Hello, Compton, Northman,” Alcide Herveaux took the lead. “Allow me to introduce Robin Prentiss from the Southern Alliance of Covens and Merlin White of the Union of Magickal Practitioners.

Hellos and nods were exchanged all around, and Alicide continued to take the lead in speaking for the group.

“We’re here to tell you that we’re behind you. As soon as we have the word, you have our backing. We understand that Monday night is the next step.”

Eric couldn’t let them know that he didn’t know what the plan, if there was such a thing, was.

“What preparations have you made for Monday?” Eric thought he might piece it together if he knew what they had planned.

“We’ll be here with small forces inside the club and larger ones throughout the neighborhood in case Madden makes it out of the club. All of the Louisiana Territory Packs are on alert, though they don’t really expect trouble here. Most residents weren’t happy with Felipe’s coup against Sophie Ann, so most will just see this as Madden’s chickens coming home to roost.”

“We are preparing the scene and have been working on it for a week or so,” Robin Prentiss explained. “One of our readers felt that your Norse heritage might be a factor and she felt that we should call on Freyja for assistance. Is that consistent with your own works?”

‘Freja,’ Eric thought, ‘so She is in on this somehow?’

“Yes, that is consistent. My family has strong ties to the Goddess.”

“We think She’ll help clear the way to an easy victory. Once Madden is gone, we assume Las Vegas operatives will be given 30 days to leave our territories and we understand that you will be the new regent. This is acceptable to us, and we will make ourselves available if you need us.”

The Wizard spoke next. “We know this process has two parts. We are willing to help with the first phase in clearing the Vegas forces from our territories. If the Council wants you to take over Las Vegas Territories as well, that will be up to them to clear your way.”

“Have you communicated directly with the Council?” Bill asked.

“Yes,” the Wizard replied,”the Ancient Pythoness came to us personally and explained that de Castro had broken trust with the Council in killing Sophie Ann. She said they looked at all available leaders in both territories and found you to be the best choice to move their interests forward. She also predicted you would have family on the Council at some time in the near future, but she didn’t tell us more than that. She said you were known to be fair with your subordinates and would make a good king. While we don’t know you that well, we do trust the Pythoness implicitly.”

“Thank you,” Eric began, “I’m not ambitious – you should know that. I’m doing this because it was asked of me. I know that fairness gets the best results in dealing subjects. I will not hesitate to strike against those who defy me or threaten my realm in any way. You should know that, too.”

“We all know what you are capable of, Northman.” Alcide interjected “I see you’re wearing a wedding ring. I guess the rumors are true?”

“Yes, Sookie and I were wed last Sunday and she is carrying my child.”

“How is that possible?”

“Magick,” Prentiss interjected, trying to quell her excitement. “There are rumors about the kind of magick, but no one has any doubt that magick made it happen. The child will be touched by the Goddess.”

“That is our primary interest here,” the Wizard added. “Vampire politics rarely affects us, but such a child in our midst must be protected no matter who his parents are. Our loyalty will be to your child, Northman. We will do anything in our power to protect him.”

“As will I,” Eric said, “I’m happy to have your support for him. He promises to be a remarkable boy.”

“May I ask, is he to be dedicated to a deity?” Prentiss asked.

“Yes, he will be dedicated to Freyja. That was established some time back. Your Seer is good at her craft.”

“Wonderful. We would like to make an offer of our services, when he is born, to host his Wiccaning at a nearby grove. Our High Priestess would be proud to officiate if you’d like.”

“That is very gracious of you. His mother and I would be very proud to accept your offer.”

“When is he to be born?”

“We were told mid-to late August, but I believe it will be earlier than that.”

“Our readers and scryers agree that he will be a Lughnasadh baby. We expect him around the first of August.”

“That would be my estimation, too. He is very advanced for his time in the womb.”

“Really? Would you share with us?” Priestess Robin was about to jump out of her skin bursting with questions.

“My wife and I are blood bonded. The child is a part of the bond. He can communicate with us both through the bond by sending emotions. He can let us know when he is hungry, happy, what he likes to eat, and he cannot wait to be old enough to fight.”

“A tiny Viking, like his father!” The Witch was obviously enchanted at the idea.

Eric was beaming at the thought of his son. “Yes, he is already very special to us. He will be an amazing son – he already is.”

Everyone relaxed a little when they heard Eric speak of the baby. The ruthless Eric Northman was getting almost misty at the thought of his son. They had no doubt that he would be a good father and a good father would be a good king. Even Alcide had to admit that it was obvious Eric was touched by the baby. Maybe he would be a good husband to Sookie, too.

“Well, then, you know we will be here Monday night. If trouble breaks out, we will be prepared to act. Let’s all hope that Victor Madden shows up and that he doesn’t leave the reception alive.”

Everyone nodded and voiced their agreement. Eric saw them all to the door, offered them drinks, which they all declined and said goodnight. He returned to his office where Bill was heating another blood.

“They expect you to kill Madden tomorrow night.”

“Yes, it would appear that they do.” Eric sat behind his desk and leaned back.

“Are you prepared for that?”

Eric was looking at the ceiling. “Honestly, Bill, I’m not prepared for any of this, but no one asked my opinion. I’d best steel myself to the idea that I may have to execute Victor Madden in the middle of my wedding reception. They made it clear that they don’t expect him to leave alive.”

“I don’t understand why they’re moving so quickly and I don’t understand why they didn’t tell you all of this stuff directly. Why didn’t they just come to you and say “do a, b, and c and then you will be king.”

“I have no idea – unless they knew that if they told me up front, I’d tell them to go to hell. I never wanted any of this. I wanted to rule area 5, run my businesses, enjoy my wife, and then later on, enjoy my son. All of this intrigue goes back to Niall somehow. Niall is ready to move into the Council for some unknown reason and he’s dragging me and Sookie upward behind him. That damned old Fairy had this planned from the beginning. The baby was his way of dragging me into all of this.”

“Unless someone else planned the whole thing and made Niall do his part in it. Maybe his position on the Council is his payment for doing what he was told to do.”

“That’s possible, but I think it’s more likely Niall cooked up this scheme and took it to the Council and offered to make it happen in exchange for a seat. He was the one with intimate knowledge of Sookie and my relationship with her. He played that part of it perfectly. By the time he dropped the bombshell about me being regent, he knew we would be so attached to the idea of the baby that we would do anything to keep it.”

“He didn’t actually threaten the baby?” Bill was horrified.

“Yes, he did, and at that point, there was nothing I wouldn’t do to have my son. When I said I never wanted this, I wasn’t kidding. All I wanted was Sookie. Once we found out about the baby, all I wanted was the two of them. When it came down to the risk of losing either of them, I didn’t even have to think about it. I’d have done anything – and apparently I’m going to.”

“I had no idea that was how it went down.”

“Believe me, all I want to do is run my businesses and spend as much of my nights at home with my family as I possibly can. I even considered selling Fangtasia so I wouldn’t have to leave Sookie and the baby at all. Now it looks like I’ll be managing two kingdoms. I’m going to have to figure out a way to do it and still have them with me. I won’t give them up. My son is not going to grow up with a father who just drops in once in a while. My family will always come first with me.”

“Maybe that’s why they chose you, Eric. They knew that. You won’t be out micromanaging the areas. You’ll look at the big picture and you’ll delegate authority, then if someone gets out of line, you’ll handle it swiftly. That’s a recipe for a good king.”

“Maybe. It’s too late to worry about it now. It’s almost one o’clock. Let me say good bye to Pam and we’ll head home.”

“Sounds good to me.” Bill would be more than happy to get back to the house and to Bobbie.

It was just after 1:30 when they both quietly entered Eric’s and Sookie’s room. Bobbie looked up and waved at Bill with a big smile then put her fingers to her lips because Sookie was asleep. Bill helped her up quietly, and put the empty container from the salad on the dresser. As they started out of the room, Bobbie turned to Eric and said “she needs to eat something.” And then waved good night. Eric looked in the little fridge – blood, nutritional supplements, strawberry yogurt and apples.

He opened a chocolate nutritional supplement and put a straw in it that he got from a basket on top of the fridge that held straws, spoons and napkins.

“Sookie, my beautiful wife, can you wake up enough to drink?”

She opened her eyes and smiled at Eric, who was looking at her lovingly as he held the straw to her. She drank a little and had to rest and catch her breath, then drank some more. She finished it pretty quickly and said “blood,” so he stuck the straw in a bottle of synth blood and held it up to her. She went through it very quickly, partly because she and the baby craved it and partly because she really still didn’t like the taste. When she finished, she let out a deep sigh and Eric stroked her cheek.

“Want some more, my angel?”

“No, not right now. Maybe later, though.”

“Alright, then” he said as he threw the empties in the wastebasket.

“Come to bed and hold me, please?”

“Of course, my angel, just let me get undressed.”

“Mmmm – I want to watch.” She teased as she turned to follow him as he walked over to his closet. He stood facing her, slowly unbuttoning his shirt so she could enjoy the show. He was SO beautiful, she thought at she watched him unbutton his cuffs and slip his shirt off, blinking lazily because she was still half asleep.

The soft lighting in the room showed off his muscular torso and the wonderful curves of his biceps. He unbuttoned his jeans and slipped them off his hips, kicking them off with his boots. He posed a little in his boxers, turning slowly to let her get a good look, then turned his back and slowly slipped them down over what he knew was her favorite part of him. Once they were past his award-worthy butt he let them drop and looked over his shoulder at her and wiggled his brows. She giggled a little and he slid into bed next to her, wrapping his arms around her and hugging her close to him then helping her slip off her dress. It was such a relief to feel her naked body against him.

He was so glad to be home he felt as if he would burst. She was so warm and smelled so enticing and sweet – how did he ever manage to leave her even for a few hours?

“So, you gonna fuck me or what?” she said as she yawned.

He laughed softly into her hair. “Wouldn’t you rather sleep, little one? You sound like you need more rest.”

“You’re kidding, right?” She looked up at him. She obviously wasn’t kidding.

“How about if I do it very gently and you let yourself drift off to sleep?” He was smoothing her hair back away from her face.

“OK, as long as I get to feel you inside me. I feel lonely when you’re not here.”

“I know you do, my angel. I feel lonely when I’m away from you, too. Roll over so your back is to me.”

She turned toward the window and pressed his bleeding wrist to her mouth. She fed from him hungrily, then he took her very gently, twice before she fell asleep. It amazed him how she loved to have sex even when she was nearly asleep. Even the orgasms he brought her to at these times were quiet and gentle and he loved the way it felt when she tensed a little in his arms and made those soft whimpering noises. It made him feel good that the feel of him inside her seemed to make her feel safe. As she was sleeping he ran his hands over her – her skin was so soft and warm – and he nuzzled her neck.

His hand came to rest on the luscious round bump that held his son, and he closed his eyes, feeling and hearing his tiny heartbeat as he slept. He sent love and pride to him, even though he knew he was sleeping, just in case he could still feel it. He thought about how important the baby had become to him. He was changing his whole life for this tiny being, in many ways. He didn’t care about anything anymore beside Sookie and the baby. He would do whatever he had to to keep them with him and safe. Moments like this, where he had them next to him asleep, would be far too rare in the coming years. He knew he’d better savor them while he could.

Eventually, reluctantly, he went to his office to check his messages and email. He ordered 2 sets of silk sheets, one black and one purple, and he returned an email to his accountant who had paperwork for Sookie to sign, including her name change, now that they were married. He told Alicia to have the stuff in the storage room moved elsewhere and said he wanted to come up with something more substantial for Sookie to eat at night. He left Pam a message that he needed to speak to everyone Sunday night who was scheduled to work security on Monday night, and that she should “confirm the performance by Dark Star.” Only Pam would know what that meant.

He took one last look at Sookie and the baby, and went to rest for the day, praying to Freyja that they be safe when and if he killed Dark Star at their wedding reception.

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