“Eric, are you seriously…”
“Sookie, stop. You need a Witch to explain this to you. Tomorrow, call Amelia, or wait until tomorrow night and talk to Bobbie. They will know the right words. I have experienced the phenomenon, and know it to be true, but I do not know how to teach about it. I’m a warrior not a shaman. You need a specialist for this.”
“You’re not making fun of me?”
“No, my Angel, I would not do that to you – not about this and certainly not about Freyja. I know better than to anger a Goddess… that one, in particular.”
“Have you “angered” Her before?”
“I have seen what happens to those who did. I loved Her, in a way, and I think She loved me but We lost each other a long time ago in a time of war. She promised She would return to me somehow but that was centuries ago. I thought She had forgotten me.”
“Are you wanting Her back now?”
“That is not the right way to explain this. It is not that Freyja is there and I want to be there with Her. It is that I am here, in love with a wonderful woman, having a child, and I have realized that She is Freyja come back to me, giving me everything I have ever wanted. It is as if the stars have aligned and the pieces are finally falling into place after the centuries it took to put them in proper position. I am not wishing you were Freyja, I believe you are. You are the one I love, but you are Freyja.”
“That sounds crazy, Eric!”
“Crazier than Fae Vampire babies? Than Werewolves and Witches? Sookie, have you not seen enough of the Supe world to know that things are almost never what they appear to be? That there is always another layer to be uncovered?”
“OK, intellectually, you are making sense and I should wait and talk to a Witch, but something inside of me feels as if I should be jealous.”
“You would be jealous of yourself, my Angel. I love YOU.”
“What if you are wrong and I’m not Freyja?”
“You are still my Sookie, my wife, my bonded and I will still love you forever.”
“My Lover, I have promised and I will promise you every day for the rest of our lives if I must. You have cell numbers for Bobbie or Amelia? Call one of them now. Call them both.”
“Will you be mad if I do? If I waste our time together on the phone when I could call them tomorrow in the day?”
“I want you to be at peace, Sookie. If you are going to be upset, then call them now. I don’t want any misunderstanding between us.”
Sookie hesitated, then she reached across Eric for the phone. She wasn’t sure where Bobbie was, but she was pretty sure Amelia would be at home so she called there first.
“Amelia? Hi, it’s Sookie.”
“Hey, Sweetie, what’s up?”
“I need some information about magick and Goddesses and stuff.”
“Is it possible for a human to be a direct manifestation of a god or Goddess?”
“Absolutely. We all are to some degree.”
“Part of this gets into quantum mechanics, so try to follow me. On a subatomic level, nothing actually IS, it only has the potential to BE. In quantum physics, a particle doesn’t have a location until you try to measure it – it only has potential locations. The person who measures it chooses the location by the act of measuring.”
“On one level, everything that is, was, ever will be, ever might have been or ever might be co-exists in one Macrocosm known as Goddess, or the Dragon. Everything that exists is a microcosm within Her body. Every thing that is, is a part of Her. You are Goddess, I am Goddess, the chair I’m sitting in is Goddess, the phone you are speaking into and the electricity that transmits your voice is Goddess. OK, you with me?”
“I think so.”
“Ok, as She approaches physicality, the Goddess can be perceived as fragments of the whole, or aspects of the larger reality. As the fragments take shape they have potential, but they are not omnipotent in the way the Whole is. The Goddess is omnipotent and omnipresent, but the aspect of her known as Diana responds best to the moon and the god known as Apollo responds best to the sun. They have individual qualities that are ultimately part of the whole, but are temporarily concentrated and limited to an aspect that has personality and limitations and preferences just as some particles are have a negative charge and some have a positive charge and some won’t have any charge until something else creates it.”
“OK, so the fragments are part of the whole, but for some reason they’re going to be fragments for a while and have some limitations.”
“Right. When we speak of Goddess, we say that all gods are Goddesses and all Goddesses are one Goddess. You have to be able to accept that there is no ‘either/or,’ there is only ‘and.'” One Goddess, many gods and Goddesses, many beings and varieties of life, but all part of the original, whole Goddess. Look at the diamond on your hand. It has facets, small flat surfaces that are part of the larger stone. The whole stone might be The whole Goddess, but one facet is Diana, Another is Isis, etc. and our vision may only allow us to see a particular facet from our perspective in the Universe.
“OK, so say one of these fragments is Freyja.”
“Could Freyja still be the Goddess that She is, but let part of Herself be human for a while?”
“Absolutely. Some believe that we are all aspects of larger deities that are themselves aspects of the whole. Ultimately we are all cells in the same body.”
“OK, is it possible that person wouldn’t know she was the…”
“…manifestation of Freyja?”
“It would be very rare for that person to know that she was. Most people never tap into that energy or even know they have the potential for it. The ones who do are usually Witches or shamans or god-touched in some way… it’s why we call them “god-touched” to begin with.”
“OK, now, say this woman had visions of Freyja and has heard Freyja’s voice speaking to her for her whole life…”
“Sookie, let’s cut to the chase. Someone, probably Eric, has told you that they believe you are a manifestation of the Goddess Freyja and you want me to tell you he’s not crazy or making fun of you?”
“Listen very carefully to me, Sookie. He’s right. I have known you were a Goddess of some sort manifest ever since I met you. I might not have come up with the name Freyja, but that makes perfect sense considering your looks and your life. Yes, you are part of Freyja. Yes, you are a Witch. No, Eric is not crazy. No, you should not be jealous of his relationship with Freyja and I’ll bet money he knows Her personally, am I right?”
“Eric loves YOU, YOU just happen to be Freyja. Well, you don’t just happen to be, She obviously chose you. It’s up to you to figure out why She chose you, but my guess would be it’s that big undead Viking sitting next to you. I always said you two were made for each other. It would have been more accurate to say you were made for him – tailor made by a divine hand. Freyja found a way to be his wife, have his baby, make him King and give him everything he ever wanted. She’s been working on this for centuries I’ll bet, and everything all of a sudden is just falling into place for him.”
“Relax and enjoy your life, kid. It’s you that gets to live it and She’s right there to help you with whatever you need. We should all be so lucky.”
“Are you a Goddess manifest, Amelia?”
“Probably, but I’m more of a Crone Goddess – Hecate would be my guess because She’s both Crone and Maiden, but I’m still looking for those answers for myself. You’re lucky – yours walked right up to you and put a 10 carat diamond on your hand.”
“Yeah…” she said softly.
“Don’t let it overwhelm you, Sookie. Just live with it a while and soon it will make sense to you. You need to put more trust in Eric, you know. He made you call because you were being insecure, didn’t he?”
“He loves you, Sookie. No one but you has any doubt of that. Cut yourself and him some slack. How’s that bun in your oven?”
“Amazing. Telepathic. Really fucking smart and wanting to kick ass like his old man.”
“Awesome. You should come into Merlotte’s some night and see everybody. Sam would feel a lot better if he could see you and just know you’re OK.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that. I’ll do that real soon. It’s just been crazy busy for us lately,”
“No shit! Everybody is buzzing about badass King Eric and sweet Queen Sookie. They’re calling you Princess Diana, you know?”
“I thought Eric was kidding about that!”
“Nope, everybody in the Supe world knows about it. The best part about it is that they all think Eric is damned near untouchable so they aren’t likely to mess with him or you.”
“Really? That’s good!”
“Yes, it is. Everything around you right now is really, really good, so have fun with it. It might not last forever, so make hay while the sun shines.”
“OK, Amelia, thanks.”
“Good night, sugar, give the gorgeous hunk a big kiss on the lips for me.”
“OK,” Sookie laughed, “I’ll do that. ‘Bye!”
Eric was looking at her waiting for her to admit that he was right. Sookie was somewhat chagrined but she finally said it.
“Alright Eric, you’re not crazy and I’m not jealous, there’s every possibility that you are….”
He leaned forward…
He laughed because it so pained her to say it. He took the phone from her and snuggled her up against him, planting kisses all over her face and neck.
“Are we done with work for tonight?” Sookie asked hopefully.
“You are. I will work after you sleep, but first…”
“Ye-es…” He acted like he would kiss her but instead he tickled her and she squealed and kicked. They were laughing and acting like kids again, not really aware that they had an audience now, especially because the bedroom window was open because of lingering paint fumes. He wrestled her out of her dress and she was tugging his shirt over his head. They giggled and tickled and Sookie let out an occasional scream as they gradually got naked and got busy.
Eric was kneeling beside the bed, Sookie’s knees on either side of his head. She was moaning and yelling as he drove her mad with his long, long fingers, his tongue and his teeth. She intended to put on a show for Eric because he liked it when she was loud. She wasn’t aware of the rest of the audience, who was getting as turned on by it as Eric was, which was plenty. She came like gangbusters and let him know it in no uncertain terms as her audience gaped at each other in awe of the new King’s prowess.
As soon as she finished he was up and in her, she still on her back and he still kneeling by the bed. Her tummy was big enough now that this position was their safest alternative, and Eric had no complaints. He was slamming her hard enough to make her cry out with each stroke and she screamed when he bit her saw breast hard in that good way. He tore his wrist open and put it to her lips and let out a loud growl as he came. She followed soon after and yelled his name in between “Oh – Oh – OH – Oh!” which went up gradually in pitch until they became a long squeal ending in ‘OH. MY. GOD!” When it was done he crawled up on the bed next to her, both of them laughing, They had no idea they were creating the legend of King Eric and his mighty “broadsword.” Queen Sookie’s talents became legendary that night as she treated Eric to her new trick for a second time, being bolder and more controlling as she gained confidence in doing it, sending his moans, cries, growls, and her name soaring out into the warm spring night, also while the windows were still open.
News of Eric’s ascendance in Fangtasia by such spectacular means had spread like wildfire through the entire Supe community and the new guards at Eric’s house were adding to the furor with tales of their sex life that didn’t need much embellishing, though details were added through imagination that only happened coincidently to be true. Between killing Victor in public with the sword presented by the Council to the wild sex everyone knew they were having, Eric wasn’t just feared as a King normally is, he was revered. People loved Sookie too much to think badly of her and she was so sweet, it made Eric look good that she was so smitten with him. He became known very quickly as Eric the Untouchable because the rumors said he was chosen by the gods as human Kings were in the distant past. Every Vampire or Were warrior from Mexico to Canada wanted to work for this spectacular new King who was handsome and generous, but merciless and swift. Vampires joked amongst themselves that no one dared touch King Eric but Queen Sookie, but she wasn’t afraid of anything, yet there was awe behind the laughter. Sookie and Eric were completely unaware of all of this, of course, so they were amazed at the receptions they would receive in weeks to come.
Sookie woke up Friday morning with a headache, but she knew she had a few notes to write, faxes to answer and a dinner with Niall tonight that had to be perfect. Around noon once she finished her steak and eggs, she started on the fourth floor and looked through each room, taking a notepad with her to write down anything she thought needed to be done. She didn’t open Bobbie’s door because she felt that would be an invasion of privacy and she hoped Niall would not insist on seeing inside it.
She wanted the large room dusted again and particular attention paid to Eric’s swords, which she wanted to shine. On the third floor, Eric’s office was reasonably neat, and the nursery was shaping up but she’d put some time in there this afternoon. The bedroom would be fine once the maids had done their thing in there for the day. She went down to the second floor. The kitchenette was neat, the pink room was perfect and the more masculine room that would be used for the birth looked fine because the supplies Alicia was accumulating were stored neatly in a box in the closet out of sight. After this dinner with Niall was over, Alicia and Bobbie would get serious about setting up for the birth. Everyone expected this baby to come soon, no matter how early it was. Sookie’s belly was growing rapidly and the baby was extremely active and aware.
The yellow room was covered with the items Sookie had received at the reception, the jewelry neatly laid out on the dresser in the room, the boxes of clothing and baby gifts arranged neatly on the bed. The bathroom on the second floor was spotless, as always. Sookie’s new office was neat except for the stack of papers waiting for her, and the living room had been cleaned to within an inch of its life.
The entire dining room had been polished and everything in it was gleaming and dust-free. This would be the first time this room had ever been used since Eric bought the house, and the first guest Sookie ever had besides Bill and Bobbie, Pam and Jason and they were basically family. Niall might have a blood relation, but he never made Sookie feel like family, though she wanted that desperately. Part of her felt resentful that he was coming to inspect her home. It wasn’t only disrespectful to Eric it was disrespectful of her. She was able to say for herself whether her home was adequate or not. Niall didn’t even know who she was, let alone what she needed. Eric seemed fine with it all, though, which mystified her. She would expect him to tell Niall to go to hell, but he seemed perfectly content to have Niall treat him like… like what, exactly? A suitor? An applicant? A supplicant?
The table in the dining room had a perfect white cloth on it and was already set for 5, with just chargers and goblets for Eric and Bill. Eric would sit at the head of the table, Niall next to him, then Sookie. Bill and Bobbie would sit opposite them and Sookie was counting on them to help get her through this. Sookie passed on her notes to the staff and was working on returning faxes and writing thank you notes by 1 o’clock.
The mail came in at two o’clock with four more packages delivered by Jerry Kerik, and there were more boxes at 4:15 that turned out to be the glider and ottoman, which were unpacked and put together by Leroy, again. Sookie made a note that he should get an extra reward for the help he was giving her in the nursery. He had really gone out of his way to help her and even organized some things in there and got the room ready because he knew she was having company. The packages turned out to be:
a blue and grey baby cashmere blanket and a Michael Kors Women’s Ranger Carry All Baby Bag with a $500 Savings bond;
a Gund Boys’ My First Blue Teddy Bear and Bvlgari Petits et Mamans Deluxe fragrance set;
a Gund Boys’ Comfy Cozy Teddy Blanket and a diamond tennis bracelet;
Bubu 4 Piece Dinner Set in Round Gift Box and $250 gift certificate to .
Baby E made out like a bandit again, but mama got a tennis bracelet! Sookie knew she had more expensive pieces but she always wanted a tennis bracelet and had bought dozens of the rhinestone kind that turn your arm green when she was in school. Sookie particularly liked the two different blue Gund items because they were so soft, and she thought it was funny she received both at the same time from two different people. Alicia took it all up to the yellow room to add to the pile of booty to show Niall.
Margaret tried to get Sookie to eat at 4 o’clock, but she just picked at her food. She was really nervous about Niall coming to her house and kept asking questions about dinner, which was lobsters that were crawling around in the sink. Sookie answered a couple of new faxes and was feeling crampy and antsy as hell so she wound up going to her room to take a shower at 5:00. She was done in 20 minutes and lay down on the bed, still not feeling well and her headache a little worse. Alicia came up to check on her at 6 and started working on her hair and getting her outfit together. Alicia had picked a pretty lavender silk dress with a full skirt, scoop neck and no sleeves. She pulled the sides of Sookie’s hair back in a pretty barrette and helped her pick out her jewelry, which had to impress Niall. The van carrying Bobbie and Bill arrived just after 7, and Sookie was never so happy to see anyone as she was Bobbie. The van stayed parked outside the house until after dark, because Bill was in a box in the back.
Bill came in the house at about 7:45 and Eric came up and was showering quickly and dressing up a bit to impress Niall. Sookie was a wreck, and was holding Bobbie’s hand tightly as they waited in the living room. Bobbie stroked her back a little, realizing that Sookie was so uptight her muscles were rigid. Eric was dressed by exactly 8 and the four of them sat in the living room waiting as Alicia said good night and left for the day, wishing Sookie luck. Margaret had an extra helper in the kitchen with her to make sure everything went well. Sookie was up and pacing the floor, and Eric went over to her and stood behind her with his arms around her. He hated that Niall was making her this nervous and he could feel through the bond that she wasn’t well at all. If it were up to Eric, he’d make her go to bed and relax. This wasn’t good for her or the baby, though he seemed to be sleeping just now.
At 8:30, the doorbell rang and it was Niall. He came in very politely, going straight to Sookie and kissing her on the cheek, but it was obvious she was only trying to look happy. She couldn’t remember the last time she was this miserable and she felt like she wanted to cry. She suggested they all go into the dining room, and they did.
Niall chatted pleasantly with Eric and Bill once they were all seated, but Bobbie was keeping an eye on Sookie, who looked a little green. She had a bad feeling about this.
Niall didn’t beat around the bush. “Compton, how did you find the affairs of the Louisiana Territories when you arrived in New Orleans?”
They all looked at each other. No one had told him anything pertaining to that. They hadn’t even mentioned that Bobbie and Bill just got back.
“Madden was a thief,” Bill said, “and not a very careful one. Even his second set of books was sloppy. He was apparently not worried at all about being caught or even suspected.”
“Madden thought de Castro was a fool, and forgot that de Castro wasn’t the only one watching him.” Niall informed them. “I trust that the reconstruction of New Orleans will be a priority for the new regent, will it not, Northman?” He wasn’t waiting for them to tell him the news, but then they knew everyone had already heard about it anyway.
“Yes, we intend to move very quickly on that front. Sookie and I will be attending a fundraiser there soon. Sweetheart, do you remember the date?”
She was startled anyone spoke to her. “Oh, yes, it’s July 3rd. They thought they would raise more money if Eric and I were there, though I don’t know why.” That wasn’t true and Eric couldn’t understand why she said that.
“Attractive young royals always draw attention, particularly when they are as charming as you, my dear,” Niall sad with a sly smile. Eric noticed Niall was excessively pleased with himself. “You are already quite popular among the Vampire community. You will be in a position to do a lot of good for many people in need, so do your best for them, Sookie, and be happy you are able to help.”
Margaret served dinner and the conversation continued, but Sookie barely touched her lobster, which was odd because she loved it, and Eric, Bill and Bobbie were all aware that she was not eating and that her hands were shaking. Niall admired Sookie’s jewelry, and she tried to tell him where she got it and how she and Bobbie had gone on a shopping spree, but she was really shaky and everyone could see it.
Bobbie chimed in and helped explain that Sookie was wearing the Elsa Peretti Diamonds By the Yard necklace and matching earrings, and pointed out the diamond art deco style bracelet from Tiffany’s that would knock anyone’s eyes out. Altogether, though she didn’t know it, Sookie was wearing over $275,000 worth of diamonds plus her one and a quarter of a million dollar engagement ring. Niall knew almost to the penny what they were worth, and knew she had received other stuff that was elsewhere, so he was more than satisfied, but as he looked closely at the bracelet Sookie fainted.
Eric was around Niall’s chair and had her up in his arms immediately and asked Niall to excuse them for a minute and nodded to Bill and Bobbie to continue the conversation while they were gone. He carried Sookie into the den and sat her down, sitting next to her with his arm around her.
“Sookie, can you hear me?”
She tried to respond but couldn’t quite do it. He cradled her head with his hand and held her next to him for a minute. “Sookie, can you hear me?” He noticed that her breathing had changed a bit and her heart was slowing down a little, so he held her and kissed her forehead, speaking gently to her and telling her everything would be alright, He was trying to send comfort through the bond which was difficult because he wanted to throttle Niall right now. Sookie didn’t need this extra stress and he was pretty sure this was Sookie making herself sick over wanting Niall’s approval.
Bobbie tried to distract Niall by asking him if he had been to New Orleans lately, but he wasn’t biting. “Do you know how to use a blood pressure cuff, my dear?”
“Yes, I do.”
“You’ll find one in a box in the closet of the blue room on the second floor. It would be a good idea to get it and check Sookie’s blood pressure. Pregnant women often have spikes that can cause fainting. If it’s very high, you’ll want to call Dr. Ludwig.”
Bill zipped out of the room at Vampire speed and was back with the cuff almost instantly. Bobbie excused herself and went into the den, asking Margaret to bring a bowl of ice when she could.
Eric was still holding her and talking to her as Bobbie put the cuff on her arm and checked it. It was high, but not dangerously so. Still, a young girl like Sookie should have a much lower reading than that. Margaret came in with the ice then and Bobbie rubbed it on Sookie’s wrists and she started to come around.
“Here she comes,” Bobbie smiled at her as she opened her eyes.
“Sookie, can you hear me?” Eric was still trying to send calm to her and he had his hand protectively on her stomach so he could feel what was happening with the baby.
“Mm-hmm.” She responded. “What happened?”
“You fainted on us, Sweetie” Bobbie was trying to draw her out more by stroking her chin. She knew Eric wanted to kill Niall right now, and it was hard for him to see Sookie this way.
“Are we in the den?” Sookie was becoming aware of her surroundings now.
“Yes, my Angel, we came in here so you could get sick if you needed to. How are you feeling now?”
“My head still hurts.”
“How long has your head been hurting, Sookie?” Bobbie asked.
“Since I woke up today.”
“Did you eat today?”
“I ate a big breakfast, but I wasn’t really hungry when Margaret gave me lunch.”
“Do you feel nauseous?”
“No, just dizzy and my head hurts.”
“Have you had any RM today?”
“Not since around noon.”
“I think maybe we should call Dr. Ludwig, just in case.” Bobbie said. Eric nodded and pulled his cell out of his pocket. Dr. Ludwig was in the room with them in just a minute.
“Well, now, little girl, I hear you fainted on us.”
“I guess so.”
“Let’s try that blood pressure again.” Dr. Ludwig put it on her again and it was slightly lower this time.
“I hear there was quite a ruckus at Fangtasia Monday night, Northman.”
“Yes, but I’m sure you and Niall know all about that.”
“Is Niall here?”
“Right here, doctor. How is my granddaughter?” He was standing behind the couch directly behind Sookie. Bill was standing in the doorway between the dining room and den.
“All things considered, she’s alright, but I’d like her to go to bed now. She’s got herself worked to a frazzle. Tell her everything is fine so she’ll relax, you old buzzard. You’ve got this child scared to death.”
Niall patted Sookie’s shoulder. “Sookie, my dear, everything is fine. You have a lovely home here, and a good provider in Northman. You two will be fine royals and fine parents. We’ve got everything in place now, dearest, so you relax and enjoy the next few years. I can’t promise they’ll be trouble free, but you’ve got all the resources you need now to do whatever you want. The rest is up to you, my girl.” He bent and kissed her forehead and she exhaled as if a weight had been lifted off of her. “If you need anything at all, Sookie, you call me. I’m on the Council now and you’ll get an invitation to my induction ceremony, but my powers are already active. The same goes for you, Northman, though I’m quite sure you are ready to handle your position – you wouldn’t be in it if we didn’t think you could handle it.”
“Speaking of the Council, Niall, are they going to redraw the territories or assign another regent?”
“No, my boy, under further reflection they’ve decided things are fine as they are. They’ve got a glamorous new pair of royals with good sense, good taste and a sense of honor, plus they’re anticipating the first Vampire Prince in recorded history. We’ve all voted to let things stay as they are for a few years and see where we end up.”
“Who put all this in motion, Niall?”
“You know very well who it was, Northman. She has always been here. Now, don’t over estimate Sandy – she’s honest but not terribly creative. Don’t underestimate Sabrina, she’s insane. There are snakes in every garden my boy, no matter how well manicured it may appear. Dr. Ludwig, would you agree that Sookie’s blood pressure needs to be closely monitored?”
“Yes, I would, no less than twice a day. And Bobbie, I want you to get back to her massages as soon as possible. She’s going through crazy stress right now, and she needs you here.”
“I won’t leave her alone again any time soon.” Bobbie assured her.
Ludwig felt around Sookie’s abdomen a little and frowned. “I want you to have an ultrasound, Sookie. I spoke to a Were who works at the hospital in Monroe. His name is Dale Sears and he’s going to do the test for you. You be there next Friday night at 10 pm. That should be late enough that Northman can be with you. You’ll want to see the baby, I assume, Northman?”
“See him?” Eric didn’t know that was an option, and the prospect thrilled him.
“Yes and you’ll probably come home with a little CD of him after. How is the RM working out?”
“I love it and so does Baby E.”
“You know what the baby likes?”
“Yes, he lets me know through the bond, plus he kicks.”
“Does he respond when you speak to him?”
“Yes and I think he’s telepathic, too. He can react to my thoughts. He can also distinguish between people. He has different feelings for me, for Eric and today he had a different one for Bobbie.”
“For me? Really?” Bobbie was thrilled at that.
“Yes, he associates you with being soothed. He knows Bobbie does the massages. He missed you, too.”
“Aw – I’ll work on you guys tonight if you want.”
“We’d like that.”
“Yes, I think a massage is exactly what Sookie needs. Exactly how does he communicate with you, Sookie?” Dr. Ludwig asked and Niall was mighty intent on hearing the answer.
“He sends feelings through the bond. Eric can feel it, too. For me he sends LOVE. HAPPY. WARM. Sometimes he sends COMFORT, especially if I’m lonely or upset. For Eric he sends LOVE. PROUD. FIGHT.”
“Fight?” Ludwig and Niall both perked up at that.
“Yes, he associates Daddy with FIGHT. He can’t wait to kick ass like his Daddy does,” Sookie laughed.
“And Northman, you can communicate with him, too?”
“Yes, and it no longer requires that I touch Sookie’s abdomen. She can be on a completely different floor and he and I can send feelings to one another. He’s completely tied into our blood bond.”
Niall never looked more smug. “Have you settled on a name for him yet, Northman?”
“Yes, we agreed to call him Eric Alexander Northman.”
“That’s a good, Kingly name. Teach him well so he doesn’t disappoint us. He’ll be a handful, but the effort to control him will pay off eventually.” Niall was very sure.
“You’ve both said that before – is this going to be some kind of baby from hell?” Sookie was exasperated and just wanted them to spit it out if there was more they weren’t telling them.
“Niall, you want to take that one?” Ludwig said as she mixed up a shot she intended to give Sookie.
“He’s going to be energetic and bright which will probably make him willful and stubborn, but he’ll be enjoyable for the most part and quite beautiful. He may have a few talents that are inconvenient until he’s old enough to temper his use of them. Nothing you two can’t handle with good help and a lot of patience.
Ludwig gave Sookie the injection she’d been mixing.
“What’s that?” Sookie asked.
“Something to calm you down. I’m still thinking about putting you on a muscle relaxer, not just for the cramps but to numb you out a little while you adjust to all these radical changes.”
“Won’t that hurt the baby?”
“Not that baby and not at this late stage in his development. It will make both of you sleep more, which is the best thing for you. I want you eating more, too. Why aren’t you gaining weight?”
“I have a theory about that,” Bobbie said, “I think it was the lack of real blood. She’s only been drinking the RM’s since Monday night, and she’s drinking a lot of them now, so I expect her weight to go up in the next week or two to a healthier level.”
“How many is she drinking per day?” Ludwig looked at Eric.
“About 10 of them.”
“In addition to three meals or instead of?”
“In addition to. She usually drinks at least two at a time.” Eric said, “I’ve been drinking them, too. They’re much more satisfying than True Blood.”
“Naturally. And you say the baby likes them, too?”
“Yes, and while I’m thinking of it, Doctor, any idea why I might be able to eat a little food now?”
“Food? What have you eaten?”
“Watermelon once, and chicken once.”
“And you didn’t get sick?”
“No and I enjoyed it. And isn’t it strange that Sookie likes drinking RM? Are we exchanging capabilities?”
“To an extent, yes, but in your case, Northman, I think your age is a factor. I’ve heard of cases where very old Vampires are able to take in food after a point. As you get older, your need for blood decreases and your attraction to food can make it tolerable in small amounts. It used to come in handy when an old Vampire needed to appear to be human by eating. Not many live long enough to reach that stage, though. There used to be a legend that said if a Vampire lived long enough he could eat like a human. You’ll probably be able to drink human beverages, too, though alcohol won’t make you drunk. It will still take Fae blood to do that.”
“Ahem.” Niall cleared his throat and frowned at the mention of Vampires drinking from Fairies. Eric considered telling him his granddaughter didn’t seem to mind, but he managed to restrain himself. It would make him feel better but that wouldn’t do anything to help Sookie’s nerves.
“Sookie’s ability to drink RM may be connected to your age, too. She’s drinking a lot of your Super old, Super strong blood and she may develop some Vampiric tendencies at some point, if she isn’t already. It’s possible she could begin to associate it with sex to the point that drinking from you could bring her to orgasm.”
“Uh,” Sookie said, “we’re there.” She blushed because Niall was still there.
“Well, that will keep things interesting.” Ludwig laughed. “Alright, between now and Friday, you get as much sleep as you can. Let your maid bring your mail and faxes up to your room for a few days. Eat a lot, drink a lot of RM, sex and massages every day. Am I to assume you have some travel coming up soon?”
“Yes, we’ll be going to Las Vegas for a week beginning the 22nd and then go almost immediately to New Orleans for a benefit on the 3rd.” Eric explained. “They’re important events and we really need to be there if at all possible.”
“OK, then I want her in bed until then. No climbing stairs, let Northman carry you or use an elevator. Bobbie, you’re living here now?”
“Keep her company when she’s awake so she’s not tempted to go downstairs, make sure she eats. I want some meat on those bones.”
“What about her workouts and using the swimming pool?” Bobbie needed some clarification. She couldn’t possibly mean Sookie had to stay in bed 24 hours a day?
“No more than 2 hours in the pool and the exercises need to be gentle. Focus on stretching, especially where her hips are concerned. A little sun and activity is good for her but rest is the number 1 priority. If she can sleep she should be asleep. Is the nursery on the same floor as your bedroom?”
“Yes, it’s right next door,” Sookie said.
“You can putter around a bit as long as you don’t lift anything heavy and you stay off your feet as much as possible. I know you are going to want to play with your new baby items. No point in fighting that nesting instinct. You’ve had so much blood from Northman already that you’re getting stronger in your primal aspects, and the nesting instinct is a part of that. Anybody that messes with your maternal side from this point forward is going to be dealing with a mama tiger. As you get closer to delivery, you’ll start to get very protective of yourself and that’s good. Follow your instincts and don’t worry about being rude to people. Your baby will and should come first. Now, have you thought about a birthing room?”
“I think Sookie’s maid has been acquiring the supplies and we’re going to get it set up so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. We’ll have that done by the end of next week, probably.” Bobbie said, “We expect her to go early.”
The doorbell rang then, and they could hear the Margaret head for the door. Bill went back through the dining room to see what was going on, and keep Margaret from coming back where Dr. Ludwig was.
“Good. What do you have in mind for the set up?”
“Plastic covering the floor under and around the bed, waterproof cover on the mattress, Everything draped with clean white cotton sheets. Alcohol and betadine for sterilizing, twine and scissors for the cord, ice chips for Sookie in between contractions. Clean white receiving blankets for the baby and a small bathing unit to use in the bathroom to clean him up. Anything else you’d suggest?”
“Make sure you’ve got one of those little syringes to clear the mucus and a small scale and measuring tape so we can weigh and measure him. Anything else I need, I’ll bring with me.”
“Do you still think he’ll be Fae?” Sookie asked.
“I’m not sure at this point. He seems to have a strong need for blood. I have no idea what qualities a Vampire-Faerie hybrid would have. I’ve never seen one before. I don’t know that anyone has. All I can say for sure is that he seems to need real blood.”
“He will be Vampire.” Eric said with absolute certainty.
“You may be right, Northman. We’ll just have to wait and see.” Dr. Ludwig said, looking at Niall, who shrugged and seemed unconcerned.
Bill came back in with a package. “It’s for you, Eric – Anubis special delivery from Las Vegas.”
“That’s the list of the Kingdom’s properties. Were you able to get the information for Louisiana?”
“Yes, it’s in my briefcase.”
“Good, when things settle down later, we’ll go over these and see where we are. I want to get Sookie settled for the night first.”
“Well, we’re about done here.” Dr. Ludwig said.
“I’m going to be leaving as well,” Niall said, “Thank you for dinner. Sorry for any inconvenience.” And with that he vanished.
“I’ll be going as well. Call if you need me. Put her to bed and let Bobbie work on her there until she falls asleep – that won’t take long as that shot kicks in. Good bye.” And she was gone, too.
“Eric, why don’t you take Sookie up to bed and we’ll get Margaret to take the meat out of her lobster so she can eat it. I know she’s hungry and won’t want to waste it. Once they clear the table, you and Bill will probably want to spread out your paperwork there and go over it.” Bobbie had already thought out what they all needed to do, and Eric and Bill realized that she was right – the dining room was the most comfortable place for them to do what they needed to do.
Eric carried Sookie up to the bedroom and Bobbie went into the dining room and asked Margaret to shell Sookie’s lobster for her. She said she had made 2 extra for Sookie to eat later, so she’d shell all three and bring them up with a bowl of butter. The other girl cleared the table very quickly and Bill started getting out his paperwork and got out the report from Las Vegas that Eric had asked him to open.
Eric pulled down the covers and put Sookie into the bed.
“Does this mean no sex tonight?” Sookie asked unhappily.
“We’ll see. That shot will put you to sleep for a while, but you might wake up later. I have a lot of work to do, so I’ll try to get as much of that done as I can while you sleep and I’ll check on you later. I’m worried about you. Sookie, so please try to rest.”
“There’s nothing to be worried about. I’m fine,” she protested.
“‘Fine’ does not lose consciousness for several minutes, my Angel.” He sat on the bed next to her and smoothed her hair away from her face.
“I was just nervous.”
“Yes, and I know Niall was the cause of it. I hate that you care so much what he thinks, Sookie. I know you want family desperately, but it’s not good to put your faith in a Faerie. They have motivations that are very different from humans or even Vampires. They twist situations to their advantage in ways that can be harsh and inconvenient for others and they don’t care about how much hurt they cause. They’re tricky and devious and twisted.”
“As opposed to Vampires, who are always straightforward and considerate…?”
“I’m not trying to hurt you, Sookie…”
“I know that. I just…” she was struggling for the words.
“You just want to be loved.”
“Yeah – how come I don’t get that in my life.”
“You do, Sookie, just not from the people you might expect it from. Niall is doing the best he can for you in his own way. He helped to make you Queen – in his mind, that is taking care of you. He helped to make you my wife so I would care for you and he made you a mother because he knew you would want that. Many human grandparents do far less for their grandchildren.”
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“I love you, Sookie, does that not matter?” he was actually hurt and he was showing it – Sookie remembered Eric being angry but she never remembered him being hurt or vulnerable before and it took her by surprise.
“Eric, of course it matters – you’re the most important thing in the world to me. I didn’t mean…”
“Everything I am doing, Sookie, I am doing for you, to be with you.”
“I know that and I didn’t mean to seem ungrateful. I was just feeling sorry for myself. It’s hard to explain, but when somebody who is supposed to love you doesn’t, you wonder what you did wrong. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings – you know I would never want to do that, right?”
“Yes, my Lover, I suppose I do.”
“Well thank heaven somebody knows it!” Sookie laughed and Eric brightened up, too, rubbing her belly and bending to plant a kiss there. “That’s one smart son you’ve got there King Eric” she teased him.
“Yes, he is very smart. Smarter than we are, perhaps… or at least more secure. He never doubts that he is loved.”
“No, he’ll never have a reason to doubt that. We’ll make sure of that.”
“Yes we will.” He bent to kiss her and lingered a long time. “Sleep my Angel and I will come be with you later.”
“OK, as long as you promise to come back later.”
Bobbie came through the door with a bowl of lobster and butter, some bottles and oils in her hands. “Am I interrupting?”
“No, I was just telling her to sleep and promising I will be back before dawn.”
“Sure – she’ll just take a little nap and then she’ll be more up to whatever you all have planned for later.” She wiggled her eyebrow and made them both laugh. Eric kissed Sookie’s hand and went back downstairs.
“I think I hurt his feelings, Bobbie, and I never meant to do that.”
Bobbie gave her the bowl of lobster, which she devoured, and Bobbie brought her two RMs from the little fridge.
“He knows that, Sweetie. He was beside himself when you fainted. It makes him angry that Niall has that effect on you. He doesn’t trust Niall to begin with, and that’s for good reason from what I hear. Sometime when you’re in a quiet mood, picture what it was like to be Eric, trying to get you to admit that you loved him, only to have Niall come into your life and knowing he would be one more person that would disappoint you. Here, let’s get this dress off you.”
“I know I gave Eric a hard time at first. Part of it was because I didn’t really understand the rules that Supes live by, and part of it was because I was afraid of my feelings for him and wondering how I’d ever be able to fit into his life.”
“And here you are, doing just fine, Queen Sookie. Here, roll on your side. You know they’re calling you…”
“Princess Diana. Let’s hope Queen Sookie lives a much longer, happier life than that poor girl did.”
“Amen, sister! You should have heard the people in the New Orleans office asking Bill all about you. They were more interested in you than they were in Eric.” Bobbie laughed.
“They’ve had Kings before, Hon, but a sweet young human Queen is a first for most of them. They asked if you were really as beautiful as people say and were you really that sweet to people you didn’t even know and they wanted to know where you got the blue gown they all heard about that made you look like a Goddess…”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“No, you may be the first celebrity Vampire King and Queen. You’ve heard what they’re calling Eric, right?”
“Eric the Untouchable. They think he was chosen by the gods because the Pythoness gifted him that sword from the Council. I noticed at the time that it was very Arthurian, but apparently that’s because those tales are partially Vampire and Fae in origin. Plus, they’re in awe that he executed Victor in public like that and didn’t care who saw. They think you’re both fearless.”
“I can see that with Eric – he kind of IS fearless, but me?”
“Apparently you were a big deal during the bombing of the Pyramid of Gizeh?”
“Yeah, well, I just did what I could to help…”
“Did you hold a bomb in your hand until the bomb squad arrived?”
“Did you go back in to get Eric and Pam?”
“And you and Eric rode a coffin down the side of the exploding building?”
“And you and some other guy dug through the rubble all day with the fire fighters getting humans and Vampires out?”
“And you saved Felipe and Eric from Siegbert…”
“FEARLESS. Some of the girls in the New Orleans office asked me if it was true you had Super-human strength.”
“You said no, of course…”
“I told them the truth – you’re stronger than most humans because you feed from Eric and he’s so old. There’s a rumor that Eric is so old that it made him fertile again and that’s how you got pregnant.”
“He’ll like getting the credit for it,” Sookie laughed.
“Yeah, that’s what I said. They asked why a beautiful young human would be with such an old King and I told them he was gorgeous, so they’re all buzzing about you two coming to the fundraiser. They were getting calls from all over the Americas and Europe asking if tickets were still available because people want to see you and Eric. I guess the same thing is going on in Las Vegas, but that’s a lot harder to get into.”
“Yeah, the Sheriff’s Ball is strictly for the power structure – it’s the Royals thanking the Sheriffs for what they do for them. It just happened to be Nevada’s turn to host it this time. The fundraiser is a lot bigger and there will be Hollywood celebrities there and they’ll be asking people to make donations so they’ll take as many people as they can get there. ”
“I’m looking forward to both of them. Eric already made arrangements for me to be in both places with you and Bill will join us in Vegas at the end of the week then we’ll all go to New Orleans together.”
“I’m sorry you have to be away from Bill, but I’m glad you’ll be in Vegas with me. You can help me go through the residence and decide what to keep and what to sell.”
“That big castle, you mean? Awesome. That will be like the world’s greatest fleamarket. So you’re definitely going to sell it?”
“Yes, it’s too much and it was a burden on the kingdom’s finances. Sandy is looking into moving our headquarters to the Bellagio. Apparently they have Super exclusive villas and all we need is one of those for us to live in and a commercial suite for the offices.”
“Wow – how amazing would that be?”
“I know – I wouldn’t mind living there part time. The shopping, the food, the spa. I’ll bet they’ve even got baby facilities I don’t know about yet. It would cut way down on the number of servants we’d have to keep, too, because the hotel would be in charge of cleaning, butler service, stuff like that. AHHHhhhhhhh!” Sookie let out a big yawn and Bobbie knew she would be out soon.
“Hey, Bobbie, the baby knows your back. Put your hand here.” She put Bobbie’s hand over the spot where the baby was moving and she could feel him.
“Hi, Baby E. I can’t wait to meet you!” She smiled and he kicked as if he was responding to her.
“He sent Soothing again – he likes it when you massage me.” She said softly with her eyes closed.
“Well, when I get done with your back I’ll give him a few very light strokes.”
“Mm-hmm” Sookie was becoming more relaxed and her eyes were slowly opening and closing. Bobbie used a lighter and lighter touch and soon she could tell by her breathing that Sookie was asleep. Bobbie turned off the light in the headboard and quietly left the room, softly closing the door behind her.
Bobbie went down to the dining room where Bill and Eric had papers all over the place. Eric looked up. “She is asleep?”
“Yes, she is. Just make sure you go up later. She’ll be disappointed if you don’t. She was worried that she hurt your feelings.”
“I will see her before I rest. I just know the doctor wants her to sleep. Bill and I have another couple of hours work here.”
“Do you guys need me down here? I could unpack and sleep a little if you don’t.”
“That’s fine, Bobbie, thank you for your help with her.” Eric said. “I know she is very glad to have you back.”
“I’m glad to be back. I missed her.” Bobbie said. She kissed Bill and went to take the service elevator up to the fourth floor. Once she got to her room, unpacking took a back seat to snuggling into her soft lavender duvet and sleeping.
Bill and Eric were going through the list of properties owned by the kingdom.
“What do you think, Bill?”
“I think we need to sell a lot of this. I don’t know what the hell Felipe was doing but it’s pretty clear Victor Madden wasn’t doing even the most basic maintenance and no rebuilding.”
“The Nevada properties are in pretty good shape. I think selling the residence will put their books back into the black by the end of the year if we can find a buyer. I’ll take the funds that were used to maintain the residence and send them to the reconstruction fund. That will more than double what’s going in there, and now that Victor won’t be bleeding that pool dry, we should have enough to do some significant work by the end of the year. I’d say we can get our interests in the Quarter back to earning money by next Mardi Gras and the income from that should make the New Orleans office solvent again. I’m starting to understand why the Council got rid of Victor and Felipe. They couldn’t possibly have been paying their tribute regularly, and they were tired of the excuses and the lies. How did you like Madden’s home?”
“It was overly ornate, but the building was beautiful and had a lot of potential. It was convenient to the offices and the Quarter.”
“How would you like it? If you’ll agree to take over the New Orleans office, I’ll sign all of Victor’s property over to you and we’ll pay you the same salary Sandy gets in Vegas.”
“Do I have to live in New Orleans full time?”
“No, half time at the most, I’d think. With telephones, computers and fax machines, you should be able to administer the offices from here or from your home. You’ll still be able to see Bobbie, and of course, we’ll all come to New Orleans often, too.”
“Alright. I think I’d like working on the reconstruction for a while. If Victor weren’t already dead, I’d hunt him down and kill him myself for what he allowed to happen to the Quarter. He was lucky he lived as long as he did.”
“Are things in place for the fundraiser in July?”
“Yes, and there has been a surge of interest since your ascendance. If you and Sookie let it be known that you’ll attend, we’ll make a fortune that night.”
“Why would our attendance matter? I thought it was a Hollywood thing?”
“It is, but you and Sookie are all the rage in New Orleans already. Everyone, even the humans, are talking about the way you killed Victor in front of all your subjects and how you sired a son even though you’re Vampire. They’re calling Sookie the new Princess Diana.”
Eric laughed. “Sandy mentioned that, too. Are people really saying that?”
“Yes, they are, and you are known as “Eric the Untouchable.” They think you were chosen by the gods and that you are fearless, generous, merciless and swift.” Bill was obviously aggravated and not a little jealous at Eric’s new popularity.
Eric laughed out loud, then caught himself because he didn’t want to wake Sookie. “Well, then, I guess it’s a good thing we decided to attend. We wouldn’t want to disappoint our public.” He shook his head, then he and Bill spent the next few hours going over the repairs needed line by line and looked at contractor’s bids, which made it obvious that contractors were chosen by how much they kicked back to Victor rather than whether they could actually do the job. It was after 3 am when when Eric went back up to the room and crawled into bed with Sookie.
Eric pulled Sookie close to him, but didn’t say anything or wake her. He held her for a while and listened to her heartbeat, and the baby’s, thinking about the ultrasound that would let him see his son for the first time. He couldn’t wait for that moment.
Eric laughed softly and put his hand over his son, feeling him move within his mother’s body, obviously awake and aware of him. Eric wondered if the baby could read his mind, so he thought “KICK” and the baby kicked. He thought “Daddy” and the baby sent FIGHT! The baby could read Eric’s thoughts, something he didn’t think Sookie had ever been able to do. Eric wondered if that was an effect of the bond or is his son’s telepathy would extend to Vampires. If it did, that would have to be well hidden to protect him. Vampires wouldn’t be happy about the existence of a telepath who could read their thoughts – every Vampire walking the earth had something to hide.
Eric was lost in thought, not even aware that he was stroking Sookie’s tummy, when she woke up and kissed him.
“Hey.” She said sleepily.
“Hey.” He smiled down at her and kissed her forehead.
“Make love to me.”
“You need to sleep, my Angel.”
“Come on, you know how this works by now. You do it gently and I’ll fall asleep during.”
“Do you really enjoy that?”
“Yeah, I love it. Don’t you? If you don’t like it…”
“I always like being with you, Sookie, no matter what we are doing.”
“I hope you still feel that way when I can’t have sex, like right before and after the baby.”
“I will always feel that way, my Lover. A few weeks, or even a few months is nothing in the span of my long life. I could go without feeding for longer than that. I have gone years without sex. Even if we could never have sex again, I would be with you. I will always be with you, no matter what.”
“I’ll always be with you, too, Eric, as long as I possibly can.”
“Yes, my Angel. We are stuck with each other.” He kissed her forehead again.
“Help me roll over.” He pushed her hip and shoulder toward the window, and put his hand under her, helping her shift her weight to her other side. This was the first time she asked for help with that. The weight of the baby was beginning to affect the way she moved. His arms encircled her, pulling her back against his chest and nuzzling her ear as he entered her gently as she liked him to do. As much as he loved their wilder sexual adventures, sometimes he liked this the best, gently holding her, the scent of her filling his nostrils, the feel of being inside her, being next to her. Even though she was half asleep, this was when they were closest, and he loved the warmth and the love that radiated gently between them.