LATE Chapter 053

Baby Face

 

 

Compared to the weeks before, the next week passed quietly. The big project around the house was setting up the birthing room, which was stripped down, cleaned thoroughly, and all the new white sheets were washed and bleached. All the new instruments were soaked in alcohol, Alicia having bought a case of bottles. The gardener’s men helped lift the bed so the drop cloths could be stretched all underneath it and the plastic extended out into the room where it would hopefully protect the hardwood floor from blood. The baby bath basin was set in the bathtub, and the scale and measuring tape were arranged on the counter in the bathroom along with some pristine receiving blankets. A tray sat beside the bed holding a box of plastic gloves, new scissors, a roll of twine, a large bottle of Betadine, a bottle of alcohol, a box of cotton wool and clean cloths. Three “scrub” aprons and a hospital gown were folded on the bed which was draped with several king size white sheets. Another stack of white sheets was on the dresser along with towels, a box of diapers for newborns, a CD player with soothing music that Sookie liked, a video camera, and a couple of tiny t-shirts that snapped at the shoulder. The door was kept closed to keep the dust down and so that Sookie wouldn’t be reminded of the impending event because she was getting scared as time went by.

On Sunday Ludwig arranged for a doctor to call in a prescription for Sookie for Soma, and Alicia filled it, starting her on it that afternoon. It knocked her out for a couple of days, so they skipped her dose Tuesday morning so she could wake up enough to try on dresses that were brought to the house so she could choose what to wear to the Sheriff’s ball. Fortunately, the representative from the store brought more than Alicia had asked her to, including items that she just included because they were new and pretty, and Sookie wound up buying 8 dresses – the one for the Sheriff’s Ball, 2 that were possibilities for the fundraiser, and 4 short, cute, post-baby dresses and another long really pretty dress that should be wearable after the pregnancy. She didn’t want to be extravagant but Bobbie pointed out that there may be many events coming up that she’d have to attend, so if she saw things she liked, it would be better to have them in her closet in case she didn’t have time later and Alicia agreed.

The social calendar for the kingdom was filling up rapidly with invitations for the new King and Queen. They didn’t accept them all, of course, because there were so many, but they were still going to be very busy, especially in the fall and winter which was prime time for Vamps because the days were so much longer. Vampires didn’t hold a lot of events in the summer because of the short days, so Sookie would have some time to recuperate after the birth and adjust to having an infant that needed her care.

Alicia and Sookie developed a routine where they would sit in Sookie’s room after she ate lunch and review the day’s mail, writing thank you notes for the various gifts that were still trickling in, answering questions from Sookie’s liaisons in both offices, updating Sookie’s calendar which was synchronized with Eric’s right after dinner, which they had in the kitchen after Eric carried her down. Sookie wouldn’t give up on family dinner no matter how sleepy she was. After a week or so, she adjusted to the Soma and it didn’t make her so sleepy, but Dr. Ludwig was very happy she spent most of that week sleeping in between meals and bottles of RM. The Soma went a long way toward helping Sookie deal with the cramping, which was becoming almost constant. As she adjusted to the Soma, she was able to be functional even though there was some cramping and she went quite a while without any severe cramps that knocked her out.

The storage unit for the nursery finally arrived on Wednesday and they were able to start putting things into the little cubbies, which they were eventually going to order baskets for to help keep stuff in place and make them hold more. Sookie noticed more was done in that room every time she went in there, assuming Alicia or Bobbie were making little changes and improvements, but she woke up in the wee hours Thursday night and noticed the light from the room shining into the hallway. She went out to the hall and saw Eric moving things around in the nursery, then opening a box that held a portable play pen and setting it up to see how it worked. When he had it up he acknowledged her presence, knowing that she knew he’d know she was watching.

“Hello, my Angel, what are you doing out of bed?”

“I saw a light on in the hallway and wanted to see if I could catch the elves that have been working in here while I’m asleep,” She teased him, tickled to death that he was doing things in the nursery.

“No elves, I’m afraid, only one Vampire who wants to make sure he can operate all of these things before they are needed. What is this, exactly? It looks like a cage.”

“It’s called a play pen or a play yard. It’s a safe place to put the baby where he can move around and play with toys, but you don’t have to watch him every second. Once he starts crawling, it will be important to keep him from getting into things or getting hurt.”

“And this goes in this bag so we can take it with us when we travel?”

“Exactly.”

“Very clever. No matter where we are, he will have a familiar place to play.”

“Right. If we’re in a hotel or something like that, the rooms won’t be baby proofed, but if he’s in his playpen, it won’t matter. There’s a portable high chair in there, too.”

“That is what he sits in at the table so we can feed him?”

“Yes, a lot of places won’t have them, but this way we’ll always have one with us that we know how to use and that will feel familiar to him.”

“Babies like things that are familiar,” he said, sort of talking to himself.

“Hey, I just noticed the curtains are up!” Sookie was delighted at the way the bright red color looked with the pretty blue of the walls.

“Yes, Alicia did that. She arranged the crib, too.”

“Arranged it?” Sookie looked over there. “Oh, cool! She put the Dr. Seuss bedding on it! Isn’t it sweet?”

“Who is Dr. Seuss?”

“He was a man who wrote wonderful rhyming stories for kids and did his own illustrations. They’re very sweet and very smart. You’ll get to know them by heart, I’m sure.”

“I will?”

“Yes, from reading to the baby. Kids love Dr. Seuss. I did.”

“At what age do you begin to do that?”

“Right from the start. You hold them in your lap and read them a story and they get used to you holding them and they learn to speak from hearing you read the repetitive words. A lot of times if a kid is upset about something, you can distract them with a book. It also makes them love reading later on.”

“Is that what this chair is for?” He tried out the glider.

“Yes, for reading to him and rocking him when he’s fussy or can’t sleep, or sick or has colic.”

“This chair doesn’t rock.”

“Well, it’s technically a glider, but it’s the fact that it moves that is important. Babies like the movement.”

“Yes, I read about that. It reminds them of being inside their mother – but too much movement can make them throw up.”

“Yeah, you have to learn how much is enough. I think we might have an advantage there, though.”

“The bond?”

“Yes – I think we’ll know he’s sick as soon as he feels it. That will come in very handy. So how often do you come in here?”

“Every night since the cradle was assembled. I come in and I look at the tiny clothes and the furnishings and the little toys and I send love and pride to him through the bond, and he sends LOVE, PROUD, and FIGHT back to me. I picture how soon I will come in and he will be here, and I will hold to him and tell him stories of my long life. I am looking forward to tomorrow night when I will see him for the first time, and know that soon I will hold him in my arms. It seems like a dream sometimes so I come in here to make it real.”

“Yeah, it’s hard for me to believe sometimes and he’s inside me kicking me,” she laughed.

He picked her up and carried her into their room, putting her down gently on the bed and lying down with her. “The bond tells me how you are feeling too, my Angel, and that comes in handy, too,” he said as he put his arm under her head and she snuggled against him.

“I hate that I’m sleeping so much.”

“The doctor wants you to get a lot of rest so you will be up to our trips. Just relax and enjoy the vacation,” he teased her. “It’s good to see you and the baby sleeping so soundly. I come in every night and lie down with you for while, even when you don’t know I’m here.”

“I miss you, though.”

“I miss you, too, but we will have time together soon. We will be together when we travel and we will be going to wonderful events where you will be the center of attention and I will be able to enjoy showing you off.”

“I’m fat, you know. I had to go up another dress size to get into the gown I wanted for the Sheriff’s Ball and the dresses that I might use for New Orleans have lots of room to them.”

“You are not fat, Sookie, you are with child. You are glowing and ripe. Everyone will envy me having such a beautiful Queen who is giving me a son.”

“Bobbie said that the rumor is that you’re so old that you are fertile again. They think you impregnated me without magickal intervention.”

“No need to correct them – they can think I did it on my own,” he beamed at her.

“Yeah, Bobbie and I both knew you’d like that idea.”

“It is a very flattering concept. Of course I would like it. The more virile their King the more they will respect me.”

“Oh, they respect you, from what Bobbie said – Eric the Untouchable,” she laughed.

“Yes and you are Princess Diana,” he teased her back.

“I hope I don’t end up like that poor woman.”

“You won’t. They are making the comparison because you are young and blonde and very sweet as she was. You will be beloved like she was and still is, but your King will not treat you as badly as hers did to her.”

“You know about that?”

“Yes, I looked her up when I was told you were being compared to her. It is a very sad story that the Prince married that innocent young girl when he was in love with someone else. Very dishonorable. A Vampire regent would never get away with something like that and keep his throne.”

“Felipe got away with killing Sophie Ann.”

“Where is Felipe now?”

“Good point.”

“No one would have bothered him if he hadn’t killed her. Between the coup and then Felipe’s extravagance and Madden’s thievery, it’s no wonder the Council decided to eliminate them.”

“Victor was stealing from Felipe?”

“From the entire kingdom. He was siphoning off the money that was intended for the reconstruction and he did almost nothing to repair our properties, especially in the French Quarter.”

“I thought that was the first thing they would do? You said every day that was undone was lost revenue.”

“Exactly. The money was there to do it, but Madden stole it and didn’t do the reconstruction.”

“Felipe didn’t know?”

“I don’t know. Sandy definitely knew and that’s probably why Madden is dead. She had to play some part in getting rid of him, and probably Felipe, too.”

“You think she set all of this up?”

“She could not have done it alone, but she had to be in on the decision by the council. I’m not sure if she went to them or they went to her, but there was a deliberate move against both of them, and to put me in their place. I don’t know how or where Niall got involved, but his new seat on the Council was apparently part of the deal.”

“They paid Niall to do all of this?”

“Not exactly. I think – I’m not sure – that Niall approached the Council with a proposal that would give them a new King, a Prince, an attractive young Queen, and eliminate the excesses of de Castro and Madden. The big question is whether Niall came up with the scheme on his own, or if Freyja told him what to do.”

“Which is more likely?”

“Well, I’d say Freyja’s help was integral in enabling me to impregnate you. My guess would be that Niall started out with a plan to get you pregnant so I would marry you, and She presented the idea to the Council as a way to solve their problem. Niall would have had no choice but to play it the way they wanted it, but he’s a clever negotiator and probably got them to give him a seat on the Council for his trouble. Either that or the whole thing originated with Freyja and She was pulling Niall’s strings in exchange for his seat.”

Sookie was quiet for a few minutes and Eric knew she was trying to process the whole thing. On some level, he knew that she was beginning to realize that Niall had bartered her for his own advancement, even though he made sure she was provided for in the deal. It would still take a while for her to admit it to herself, but the knowledge was around the edges of her consciousness and he knew it was only a matter of time before the weight of it hit her. He prayed that the fact that there would be no baby without the deal would ease the pain for her. He hoped that by the time it hit her, she would be occupied with diapers and breastfeeding and it wouldn’t matter anymore. He decided it was best to distract her.

“So, my Angel, is there more shopping to do for the baby?”

“Yes, I’ve got several gift certificates to spend. Somebody just sent me one to Nordstrom’s, and there’s a huge one from Amazon.com and a couple of baby websites. Bobbie and I are going to do some shopping while you’re at Fangtasia next week because of Pam’s vacation. I know you won’t abandon the whole thing to Vincent so soon.”

“True, and I need to make myself available sometimes. People who have requested audiences were directed to meet with me there during the week. You are welcome to come with me if you feel up to it, but it would be better for you to rest and shop. There is still a little space in the baby’s room,” he teased her and kissed her.

“Hey, I’ve got the gift certificates, it would be dumb not to use them.”

“This is true,” he laughed. He knew she was enjoying the baby shopping more than she would ever admit because she would be afraid of being perceived as greedy even though it was a natural mothering instinct that was behind it. He loved to see how excited she got with the new things for the nursery and the little baby clothes and toys. He could just imagine how she would be when she was playing with the baby, dressing him in those little clothes in the cubbies of the new storage unit.

He didn’t have to ask her if she wanted sex because it had been a few days and he could feel it through the bond. He didn’t want her exerting herself, though, so he undressed and took control of the situation, very gently taking her twice, making her very happy but not getting her too riled up. There would be plenty of time for that later. He wasn’t sure why the doctor had ordered this test she was going to have and he wasn’t going to take any chances right now.

He got her a couple of RMs from the little fridge and she took a Soma. She was very close to falling asleep again, her medicine beginning to kick in, and she asked him not to leave until she did. He assured her that he had no intention of leaving her while she was awake.

“Listen, if this test turns out OK tomorrow, and now that I’m adjusting to the medication, I want us back on schedule together.”

“What kind of schedule?”

“I want us to take a bath together every night when you get home from Fangtasia and have sex like we did before all the wedding and coup and stuff happened. I need time alone with you or I’m going to get depressed. I feel like I could cry all the time, lately.”

“That’s mostly from the pregnancy, but we will get back to our baths and our time at night. After tomorrow we have 10 days before we have to travel. No doubt we will have lots of sex while we are in Las Vegas and New Orleans. We did last time.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her and she laughed softly.

“Yeah, but I’m getting really pregnant now. Are you sure you aren’t losing interest in me?”

“Sookie, my Angel, that will never happen. Just be patient. If the doctor tells you that everything is fine tomorrow night, you will see exactly how much I am still interested in you. Are you ready to feed from me?”

“Yes, help me turn over.” He helped her turn her back to him and he pulled her close. He bit his wrist and put it to her mouth and she drew hard on the wound, bringing them both to a strong release almost simultaneously, which was happening every time she fed from him now. His hands roamed over her, and he was stroking her belly and kissing her shoulder when he heard her breathing and heartbeat slow and he knew she was falling asleep. He could feel the baby was asleep, too and he closed his eyes, enjoying the sounds of both their hearts, of Sookie’s breathing. This was becoming a favorite part of the night for him, having them close and warm, knowing they were safe in his arms and nothing could touch them.

He was always a little apprehensive leaving them in the daytime. No matter how good the guards they hired might be, Eric knew no one could protect them the way he would. He hated being unreachable for so much of the day. It was the worst part of being Vampire to be so helpless for half of the day.

He finally made himself get up and go into his office. He had a lot to do, though he had been working more than usual because Sookie had been sleeping a lot. He would be as glad as she when she didn’t have to stay in bed just because his life was so much more fun when she was awake. He didn’t miss the sex as much as he just missed her – her sense of humor, her excitement about the baby, her sweetness and especially that smile. It made him feel good that she wanted their old habit of bathing together back. He missed that, too. There was a closeness that came with washing each other’s hair and soaping and rinsing each other that nothing else matched. It seemed like months since they had done that, but it had really only been a week or so, though they didn’t do it nearly as much after the wedding as they had before.

So much had changed so quickly – he was amazed Sookie could handle it as well as she did. Even he felt a little overwhelmed at times. Only a month ago, they’d been dating but not living together; they had no thoughts of ever having a child; they had no ambitions to be anything but a barmaid and a Sheriff, though he did want Sookie not to work at Merlotte’s anymore back then. Now they were living together as husband and wife, they were to be parents and they were King and Queen. It seemed impossible all of that had happened in so little time. He was adapting to running more than just Area 5 reasonably well but that was largely thanks to Sandy and Bill helping him out. He was very relieved Bill agreed to take the New Orleans office for him. Pam didn’t want it and he didn’t trust anyone else to work that closely with him. Compton was essentially honest and had a conscience, which rarely survived a person’s transformation to Vampire.

Pam was going on vacation at an inconvenient time, but Eric had made a promise and he would not break a promise to Pam if he didn’t have to. She was adapting very well to running Fangtasia and being Sheriff, and Vincent was coming along as her second. He would spend at least part of the night at the club next week every night Pam was away to make sure Vincent was catching on, and it would give Vincent and him a chance to talk about security on the upcoming trips.

It looked as if they’d have 7 guards traveling with them, 2 Vampires and 5 Weres, one of them being Bjorn since he was officially the Queen’s bodyguard. The others would protect them all generally, Eric not necessarily needing a personal guard as Sookie did. Sookie and Bobbie would have Bjorn to drive and guard them, Bjorn being awake whenever Sookie was, and of 2 daytime guards, 1 would accompany the girls and Bjorn if they went out and and 1 would guard Eric. There would be 4 of them at night for the parties, the Weres taking 12 hour shifts so they could each get enough sleep while the Vampires would work from 8 pm to 5 am.

The Nevada territories would pay the guards from the 22nd thru the 30th, then the Louisiana Territories would pay them from the 30th to the 5th of July. When Eric looked at the logistics, he started to wonder if he shouldn’t combine the two kingdoms so that here was one set of books instead of two. He needed to think seriously about that if they were going to leave him in charge of both. He might add a layer to the hierarchy so that he had an administrator directly below him that also dealt with the money for both Kingdoms. It was one of many things he would have to think about now that he was King, and it was a pain in the ass.

He handled some paperwork, answered questions Burnham had concerning Eric’s new income and the need to meet with his accountant. He confirmed Pam’s reservations at the exclusive hotel he booked her into and tried not to think about the fact that she was taking Sookie’s brother with her. At least they wouldn’t be right in his face as they were in Las Vegas. He didn’t know why it bothered him, but it did. Pam could do much better.

He made his nightly call to Sandy and she told him the travel arrangements were made and on the way to him. She had a few issues regarding their properties in Nevada that couldn’t wait, one of which was an offer to buy a bar that was located off the strip and which was only marginally profitable, so he told her to go ahead and accept the offer. He planned to only keep the prime real estate and businesses and maximize their potential. He didn’t like to bother with things that were too mediocre.

He had the distinct sense that Felipe liked to own things, the more the better, and quality didn’t matter where businesses were concerned. Eric was just the opposite – he wanted a few very fine things that were of exceptional quality, both in business and in his personal life. That was the way he would run both kingdoms and it would reduce the need for administrative staff and allow them to focus on their really profitable businesses that were apparently often pushed to the side while lesser properties demanded attention. He was finding that everything associated with Felipe was marked by excess. No wonder Madden was able to steal from him so blatantly – there was so much going on that there was no way Felipe could keep track of it all. He could tell when he spoke to her that Sandy was very relieved to see some of these issues being resolved after so long. She was a person who wanted to do a good job, and Felipe made that damned near impossible. No wonder she had been so frustrated.

Eric finally felt like he had things under control, and went back to watch Sookie sleep for a few minutes before he went to rest. When he woke this night, he would get to see his son for the first time. He couldn’t remember the last time he had looked forward to anything so much. He went to sleep smiling, thinking of his son.

Friday afternoon Sookie woke up at one and she refused to take a Soma because she wanted to be really awake for the test that night. She and Bobbie went out to the pool for the first time in a while and it felt good to be in the sun and the water again, even if she was fat. Margaret’s good cooking was beginning to show in Sookie’s hips, though Bobbie insisted that was just her body preparing for the birth, and the cleavage Eric loved so much was still increasing. At 3:00, Eric’s accountant came over with some updated papers and credit cards, and he needed Sookie to sign some papers so she went in wearing her suit and cover up. He didn’t think anything about it, but when she walked him to the front door, she picked up some surprisingly impure thoughts from the guards. They couldn’t possibly think she looked good, could they?

When she went back, Bobbie had the massage table set up and she tried to get on it for the first time in a little while and found that it was becoming difficult. Tomorrow they would use the new massage chair Alicia had ordered. They didn’t want to use it until they had to, but considering the struggle it took to get Sookie on the table now, they had to. She was just a little too short to get leverage with that much weight.

“Am I fat enough now?” She laughed to Bobbie when she was finally settled.

“Actually, Sweetie, you still need 10 to 15 pounds, minimum, but I think the bambino will take care of that now that you’re drinking the RMs.”

“You think that’s what’s putting the weight on?”

“I’m pretty sure, yeah. Only a little of the new weight is in your hips or bust – most of it is baby. He was just waiting to get some real nourishment.”

“I hope he doesn’t get dangerously big.” Sookie was worried about that. Really worried.

“He’s nowhere near that point yet, Sookie. I’ll let you know when it’s time to panic.” Bobbie was teasing her so she wouldn’t dwell on it. She finally relaxed and Bobbie was able to get the knots out of her

She was still in her suit when Eric came up for family dinner and he was surprised to see her so awake.

“Hello, my Angel – you are not in bed?” He bent down to kiss her.

“No, I wanted to be awake for the test tonight so I didn’t take any medicine and I even went out to the pool and had a proper massage, though I won’t be able to get up on the table after this.”

“She’s a little too heavy to get up on it, so we’re going to start using the chair.” Bobbie explained.

“That is good – you needed more weight for the baby!”

“Eric, I’m fat.”

“Sookie, you are not. I told you how beautiful I think you are. You are ripe and luscious – you’ve never been more beautiful to me.”

“He’s not just saying that, Sookie. You have that glow pregnant women get and you look amazing, even with your baby bump. I’ve never seen a prettier mommy.”

“See that, my Angel – she agrees. Don’t you agree, Margaret?”

“I think she’s just lovely and we still need to fatten her up, so I made her a treat.” Margaret put a bowl of crawfish gumbo in front of Sookie and her eyes got big.

“Is that?”

“Crawfish gumbo. I believe you said it was one of your favorites?” Margaret said proudly as she set a dish in front of Bobbie.

“Oh, yeah!” Sookie dug in and Eric and Bobbie exchanged smiles because Sookie had forgotten all about being “fat” when she saw that bowl of gumbo.

Bill came into the kitchen then, going over to Bobbie and kissing her. “Hello, sweetheart.”

“Hi.” Bobbie beamed at him.

“Good evening, Bill.” Eric said.

“Eric. Sookie. I slept very late, it seems.”

“Actually I think I woke up early. I was very anxious about our trip to the hospital tonight.”

“You don’t anticipate any problems, do you?” Bill asked

“No, not really, but I am very anxious to see the baby.” Eric smiled. He was obviously excited. Margaret smiled proudly at him as she sat an RM in front of him then in front of Bill.

“Yes, I can imagine you would be. I was thinking I might go to my house for the weekend to catch up on some things and come back on Tuesday.”

“You may take Bobbie with you if you like – we’ll call you if we need you, and this might be your best time to go since we’ll be traveling. ” Eric was trying to be very generous.

“How about if I follow him in my car, then if I need to hurry back I won’t need to wait for Bill?”

“That seems reasonable.” Eric said.

“Sookie, would you mind?” Bobbie asked her

“No, I don’t mind. Like he said, you won’t be able to later. It’s just a couple of days.”

“Bill, do you want to take guards with you?” Eric was a little worried about this now that he thought about it. Bill could easily be a target, too.

“I don’t think that will be necessary. I doubt anyone will try anything at my house. I don’t have any enemies that I know of.”

“If you change your mind, call Vincent and tell him I ordered it. I think you should have a least a couple of men outside your house, but it’s up to you.”

“Thank you, Eric. I appreciate the offer.”

“Margaret? May I have some more gumbo, please? And another bottle of the new stuff? ” Sookie had already cleaned her plate. Eric smiled, knowing she was eating for the baby, and that it would just make her rounder and more beautiful. He couldn’t believe she didn’t know how lovely she was this way. Her skin was rosy and her body was even warmer than usual. She smelled like heaven and tasted even better.

“When you finish this dish, we should be on our way, Sookie.” Eric didn’t want to take a chance on being late. He was busting at the seams to see this baby. Apparently this place they were going could give him a 3D image and he couldn’t wait. He knew what to expect from seeing such pictures on the internet, so he knew it wouldn’t look like a baby looks after it’s born, but still – it was his son!

Sookie and Eric were ready to head out as soon as they were dressed and they took a quick shower together, which was fun even though they didn’t have time to fool around. They’d do that later if everything was OK.

Bjorn drove to the hospital in Sookie’s car, Sookie and Eric in the back. Sookie was chattering about baby stuff but Eric kept getting lost in his thoughts about the baby. She knew he was too excited to listen to her, but she kept talking anyway. She missed him so much, even in her sleep, though that didn’t make any sense. She picked up his wrist and put his arm around her, snuggling into him. He smiled at her and pulled her into him, kissing her on the forehead.

“I’m sorry if I’m not keeping up my end of the conversation, my Angel.”

“It’s OK, I know you’re excited. I’m excited, too, but I’m just the opposite of you – you get quiet and I can’t shut up.” She laughed and he laughed with her, reaching his other hand across to intertwine his fingers with hers and inclining his head to rest on hers.

Bjorn was having trouble keeping his eyes on the road. How could she let that big Vamp touch her that way? He knew what he had heard about their sex life and from the way they looked at each other, he knew it was true, but she was so sweet and he was so big and … something. He didn’t know what he word was, but he was it. Scary, maybe, or just old and creepy? No, the word was DEAD. He was a big old dead Viking touching that sweet young warm… girl? Was she a human girl or a Witch or was she Fae? He couldn’t tell. She didn’t smell exactly like a Faerie, but she didn’t smell completely human, either. She smelled better than human, sweeter. She made his mouth water. Sometimes she smelled like food, sometimes she smelled like sex. He never met anyone like that before.

They pulled up at the hospital and Bjorn went in with them, standing outside the only door of the room the Ultrasound was in. Dale Sears was a tall skinny were with brown hair and pale skin. He wore glasses, but Eric said later they were probably just clear glass since Weres usually had perfect vision. They were probably part of his cover as a mild mannered hospital technician.

Eric lifted Sookie onto the table once she was in the gown he gave her, and he pulled a sheet over her lower body, rolling it down below the bump. She was nervous and he told her to just relax, because this wouldn’t hurt her or the baby. Eric held her hand, fascinated at the machinery and the little image on the screen. He could see a faint outline of a baby, but it was hard for Sookie to see. Sears explained that this was a 2D ultrasound that was normally used for diagnostic purposes, but that they could do a 3D image for an extra charge. Eric wanted that very much, no matter how much it cost. They were in the middle of taking the 3D image when Doctor Ludwig popped in.

“How are we doing, Sears?”

“Just fine, doctor. Everything looks good. Hang on one second.” He came out of his little office with 4 images, one set of two for Eric and one for the doctor, plus a CD for Eric. One of the images was of the 2D scan and the other image was the 3D “photo.” Eric was beside himself and he couldn’t stop looking at it. Sookie thought it looked a little weird, and thought to herself that she was a terrible mom, but Eric was flooding the bond with so much happiness, love and pride that there was no room for her to feel anything but positive feelings. He couldn’t take his eyes off the pictures. She had never seen him look so happy or so beautiful.

“Yes, yes, this looks very good. He’s in a good position, he’s well developed and he’s well along in his growth. I see you’re gaining a little weight finally, little girl. That’s good – that RM is working well for him then?”

“It’s either that or my maid’s cooking.” Sookie laughed.

“I think it’s the RM. He was taking his blood from you and keeping you puny. Now that there’s an external source, you’re filling out and so is he. Now don’t you go getting vain and trying to keep your weight down. You might need a little extra reserve to get you through this delivery. How many RMs are you drinking in a day?”

“About 10.”

“OK, I want you to increase that to 12 minimum. I know it’s a lot, but you need to drink it before he lets you know he needs it. Northman, can you arrange for someone to give her at least one bottle every two hours – more if she can drink them?”

“Of course, doctor, whatever she needs.”

“That sounds like a feeding schedule for a baby.” Sookie said.

“It is, my dear. I don’t want the little one going more than 2 hours without a feeding. Start this schedule now and he’ll be used to it by the time he’s born. He won’t drink as much as a whole bottle then, but he’ll want to feed at least that frequently. Have you thought about how to get to him that often or is he going to sleep in your bed?”

“She bought a kind of crib called a co-sleeper,” Eric explained, “that keeps the baby right next to her but protects him from being crushed or suffocated. It attaches to the side of the bed. It’s a very clever design.”

“Good, good. That will keep her from having to get up and down all night. Getting out of bed will be hard for her for a while and that will be right when he needs to feed most often. I know you’ll have lots of help, but it still ends up being an effort for the mother. Sears, do you think she’ll need another one of these?”

“Only if there’s a problem between now and delivery, and it doesn’t look like delivery is that far off.”

“We’re expecting him in August, aren’t we?” Sookie said

“That’s an awfully optimistic view. I’ll be shocked if it goes that long.” Sears said. “I think you’re farther along than you realized. Mid- to late July is my estimation.”

“Oh, god – will he be big enough then?” Sookie thought he couldn’t possibly be ready by then. She knew approximately when she got pregnant.

“If you and he keep growing at the rate you are now, yes.” Doctor Ludwig was a lot surer about this than Sookie was. “Well, I’m off. Sleep, eat, have sex, have massages, and stay off your feet. Call if you need me,” and she was gone.

“Ok, Mrs. Northman, you can get dressed now.” He gave Eric a washcloth to clean the gel off of her belly, then Eric picked her up and carried her behind the screen where her clothing was. She only wore a thong and one of the Indian cotton dresses, so she was dressed very quickly.

Eric thanked the technician and paid him per Dr. Ludwig’s instruction and took Sookie outside where Bjorn was waiting.

“Bjorn – would you like the see the first photo of the Prince?” Eric was beaming and had to show someone, even if the someone was Bjorn.

“Wow – that’s a very nice picture. I didn’t know they could do that.”

“It’s a new technology. It is amazing, is it not?” Eric handed the photos and CDs to Sookie, then picked her up and carried her to the car.

“I don’t mean to pry, your majesty, but I was wondering if the Queen is alright. She hasn’t been out at all this week and some of us were worried. If there’s anything we can do…”

“Thank you, Bjorn. The doctor wants her to sleep as much as she can and prescribed a new medicine that made her very sleepy for a while. She’s adjusting to it now, so she’ll be around more in the daytime, but she still needs rest. Has Vincent informed you of the travel plans yet?”

“Yes, your majesty, he scheduled me to go to Las Vegas and New Orleans with you along with the other 6 guards.”

“Good. I know the Queen will want to shop and go out during the day and I want to be sure she’s protected.”

“Hey, the Queen is right here, ya know…”

“Yes, my Angel, but I was informing your bodyguard of your plans. I was not ignoring you. You know I would never do that.”

“OK,” she relaxed and leaned into him.

“As I was saying, her Doula will be with her to help if she has medical needs, but I still want armed guards with the two of them.”

“I believe Vincent has us scheduled so that when the two of them go out, one of the other guards will accompany us, and one will stay where you rest, your majesty.”

“That should be fine. If you need additional guards, the Las Vegas or New Orleans offices can provide locals, too.”

“I believe there are to be two local guards outside the door at the Bellagio, and of course the usual guard will be at the residence.”

“Good.”

They reached the car and Bjorn held the door open as Eric settled Sookie into the car then he walked around to the other side to get the door for Eric. They managed to be civil to each other, but it was clear they still didn’t like each other. Sookie couldn’t figure out why Eric got so serious around Bjorn. He seemed like a nice guy to her.

Eric took the 3D picture from Sookie when they got in the car and studied it, though he could barely see it in the dark.

“You can’t really tell what he’s going to look like yet.” Sookie said

“No, my Lover, but you can see him. He has a face, and hands and he moves. He will be strong and beautiful, just like you.”

“Just like you is more like it. Does he have a sword in there yet?” she teased him.

“He will have a sword very soon, I promise you, Sookie.”

“I have no doubt of that, Eric. That’s the world’s tiniest Viking in that picture,” she laughed.

“That is my son’s face.” He said softly. “My son’s face…” he repeated with awe in his voice.

LOVE. PROUD. FIGHT!

They both laughed out loud. Bjorn looked in the rearview mirror, wondering what they were laughing at.

“Guess who’s awake, Daddy?” Sookie laughed.

“Yes, so he is.” Eric put his hand on the bump and felt the baby moving around. “That is the most amazing thing in the world, my Angel. To see him, to see his face and to feel him move. I never want to forget this. Bjorn, do you have children?”

“No, your highness. I am not married.”

“Take my advice. I have lived over a thousand years. There is no pleasure greater than the feel of your child moving in the body of a woman you love. People take this gift for granted or treat it as a burden, but I tell you, along with fighting and fucking, it is one of life’s greatest joys. Find a fertile woman and have a child. You will never regret it.”

“Yes, your majesty.” Bjorn had to laugh along with him. He believed Eric was every bit the badass his reputation made him out to be, and he just admitted he was every bit as old as people said, but there was no doubt he was sincere in his love for that child and probably even for Sookie. Heaven help anyone who threatened his family, because he had no doubt any threat to them would be rent to small pieces. So, probably, would any guard that let harm come to them. He’d better stay on his toes and keep his eyes off Sookie, though that wasn’t going to be easy. How the hell can a pregnant chick be that hot? Why does she smell so damned good?

Bjorn said good night to them once they were out of the car and walked across the road to where his own car was parked. He needed to get her scent out of his head. He had met women with an unusually attractive scent before but this was unbelievable. Some people smelled like food and made you hungry for flesh, and some women smelled like sex and made you want them that way, but this chick smelled like both, but better than either, and it was messing with his head. He had no doubt that big Vamp would kill anybody who messed with her. Who would risk losing that? If she tasted as good to a Vampire as she smelled to him, he was surprised there hadn’t been war over her yet. This was like a damned drug. His cell phone rang – it was Sabrina. Now what?

“Hello, Sabrina. What can I do for you?”

“I was just wondering if you’d like to come over for a drink?” She purred. She sounded like she was in a “friendly” mood.

“Yeah, why not. I’ll be there in about 40 minutes.” Why the hell not? At least he’d probably get laid, and that sounded pretty good right now, even if it was with the wrong woman. Psycho Sabrina could be a lot of fun when she wanted to be. The trick was to get away from her before she got close enough to do any damage to the rest of your life. That’s why he wouldn’t work for her. He’d take some work under the table but there was no way he was letting that bitch have his Social Security number. He was glad he knew about her before she had offered to hire him. Vincent had filled him in on her when he called around to check her out. He had done some slimy things for her when the price was right, but never to anyone that didn’t deserve what they got.

Eric and Sookie went into the kitchen and found a note from Margaret that there was more gumbo in the fridge, so Sookie decided to have a bowl before they went upstairs. Eric put turned the TV in the den on and got the quilt from the closet, asking Sookie to bring her snack in there so they could watch a movie. Sookie told Eric to pick something and she’d be right in. Eric put a movie in the player and took his shirt and boots off. Sookie came in stirring a big bowl of gumbo.

“Mmmmm – nice view!” she said as he removed his shirt.

“It could get better…” he teased her.

“Well, don’t just stand there, turn around and drop ’em” she laughed.

Eric turned his back to her and slowly pulled his jeans down, revealing that he was wearing no underwear.

“Mmmmm, I don’t know which looks tastier, this gumbo or those buns.” She laughed.

He took a tray out of the closet and set her dish on it. “I’m waiting.”

“Waiting for what” She looked up and batted her eyelashes, playing innocent.

“Sookie, my Angel, I thought you liked that dress.”

“I love it, why?”

“If it’s not off your body in 10 seconds, I’ll shred it.”

“No you won’t”

“One…”

“Eric…”

“Two”

“come on”

“Three…”

“Alright hang on,” she started trying to get her dress over her head but she was tangled in it.

“Four”

“Eric, hang on!”

“Five”

“Ahh!”

“Six…”

Finally she got it over her head and off. Before she could do or say anything else, he hooked a finger into each side of her thong and snapped them into pieces.

“There’s another one I have to replace.”

“Poor baby. Now,” he scooped her up in his arms, “you eat and we watch a movie. It might be a while before we get to have the house to ourselves.” He sat on the couch with her on his lap and handed her the dish, then pulled the quilt over them, under her arms.

He clicked the remote and the movie started.

Nine and a half weeks? Isn’t this kind of old?”

“Not nearly as old as the movies you choose.”

“True”

“Have you ever seen it?”

“No, is it good?”

“Parts of it are very good.”

“OK, what’s it about?”

“It’s about a relationship between a beautiful woman who works in an art gallery and a mysterious man she meets while buying a chicken.”

“What?”

“You’ll see.”

Sookie settled in, more interested in the bowl of gumbo than what was happening on the screen. She liked the part where he surprised her with the shawl. She threatened Eric when she saw the part where he leaves her stranded on the ferris wheel but he reminded her that he could fly. At the point where Kim Basinger’s character pleasures herself while sitting on the control for the slides, the movie had captured Sookie’s attention which quickly became refocused on Eric because she was sitting on his lap and the ever-ready gracious plenty was begging for attention, which she was more than happy to provide.

Sookie slipped off Eric’s lap so she was kneeling between his legs and took him in her mouth as if she were starving. Between what was happening on the screen and what was happening in his lap, Eric was moaning loudly and lost in sensation, neither of them aware that the curtains to the back yard were open and there were guards patrolling all around the perimeter of the property. Eric noticed Sookie was looking around as she sucked him, and he asked her what she was looking for. She said “lubricant” breathlessly and continued her attentions to him, as he reached to the side and pulled a locked box out of a drawer in a side table. He flipped the combination on it, and lo and behold there was, among other things, a tube of lubricant in it. Sookie stopped for a minute.

“I thought I was the only girl you ever had here.”

“You are.”

“So what’s with that being in that drawer all handy and everything.”

“My Lover, there are little surprises all over this house you will discover in time.”

“Oh, really” she was being sassy, but she was also squirting lube on her fingers.

“Really.” Goddess he was beautiful when he was smug like that. She went back to work on his cock eagerly, moving with him as he slid forward so she could do that little trick they were both becoming so fond of. Eric loved it for obvious reasons, but Sookie loved it because it gave her an odd sense of power and control that she could do something that produced such an intense reaction in him. She was merciless with him this time around, making him writhe and cry out as she giggled wickedly, which only added to his pleasure.

He swore to himself he was going to give Bobbie a raise for creating this sexy, sadistic little monster between his legs. He came and the two of them slipped to the floor, but Sookie didn’t stop. Being a Vampire, he didn’t really have a “down time” so Sookie made him come, always in her mouth, three more times, howling and growling each time he did, she sliding her fingers out, then in and rubbing a few times, before she would stop. He could easily have stopped her, of course, but this was too good. He never thought his sweet little Southern Belle would be brave enough to be that dominating and it was the sexiest thing he could ever remember. By the time she was done with him, he was a quivering mass of jellied bliss.

He laughed loudly, “Oh, Sookie, I love you…. I love you more than anything. There is nothing I would not do for you.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yes, and when I stop shaking, I’m going to return the favor you just did for me.”

“You think you can do that to me?”

“Not exactly but I can get the same effect and have you begging for more… or begging me to stop… whichever I choose.”

“I’d like to see you try, your majesty.” Oh, she was being sassy and he was loving it. He grabbed the quilt off the couch and spread it on the floor.

“Are you still able to lie on your back?”

“Give me a pillow under my shoulder to prop me up a bit.”

He took a cushion from the couch and helped her get into a comfortable position on her back, but not completely flat. “Comfortable?”

“Yep – now show me what you’ve got, you big Viking.” They both laughed as he settled into a position between her legs, licking, sucking, nibbling, working her with his fingers so that she came very quickly. While she was catching her breath, he got the tube of lubricant and put it on his fingers. He resumed his position, sliding his fingers into her back entrance, his thumb into the front and his tongue and teeth on her clit, and she was writhing again in no time. She was very animated and turned on and he looked up at her as she was approaching another release to see her playing with her breasts. The sounds she made were sweet and hungry and they got louder when he continued with his hand, but moved up her body to suck on her nipples. When he bit them a little, the sensation went right down to her center and she cried out in absolute bliss. She came hard, seizing and twisting but he didn’t let her get away from him.

“Eric, please…”

“Please, what, Sookie.”

“Please fuck me.”

He pulled her forward and helped her to her knees facing the couch, her arms resting on it, her back arched and her legs spread wide for him. He took her hard from behind and she cried out at feeling the fullness of him in her, finally, and she was in that headspace where all she wanted to do was hold on and stay in there with him, He was moving quickly, going deep and she began to come again, her legs slipping under her but he held her hips so she didn’t fall. He reached another release and reached for the lubricant and she looked back and nodded yes to him. She reset herself into position in front of the couch, pushing her backside toward him, feeling the familiar cold jelly and the pressure that always created a little panic, then she relaxed and let him take her, completely, as he nipped at her shoulders and back with his fangs, making her cry out in that bright exquisite pain that she loved.

“Come to me, Sookie” he said as he pulled her shoulder back so she took him in deeply and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her back against his chest, feeling her tremble against him. One arm held her tight against him as the other pulled her hair to the side away from her shoulder. He held her tightly as he sank his fangs hard into her shoulder and she moaned with pleasure. He fed deeply from her, then he bit his own wrist and held it to her mouth as she was still against him, him inside her. She drew as hard as she could, and both of them climaxed in unison from it. He felt Sookie go limp in his arms so he slowly, gently helped her lie down on her side, whispered “I love you, my beautiful wife,” and went into the little bathroom to clean up.

She was exhausted, out of breath and completely blissed out as he washed her up a little, turned things off and carried her up to their bed. He settled her gently on the new purple silk sheets and got 2 bottles of RM out of the little fridge and held them for her with a straw in the bottle. She drank them down hungrily and he gave her a strawberry supplement, too, to make sure she was getting enough calories.

As he was putting the bottles in the trash she said “don’t you even think about leaving us while I’m awake.”

He laughed “No, my Angel, I wouldn’t miss out on this part of the day for anything.”

“What part of the day?”

He slipped into bed behind her, turning off the lights. “The part where I listen to you breathe, I feel the baby’s heartbeat, and I send you both love as you drift away.”

“Do you do that every night?” She yawned.

“Yes, even if you are already asleep, I get into bed with you and spend time with you and the baby.”

“Aww – that’s nice.” She smiled and turned her head back toward him a little and he kissed her cheek.”

“Are you happy, my Angel?” He already knew the answer as he stroked her hair and kissed her shoulder.

“I am very happy, my husband and so is our son, though I think he’s already asleep.”

Bjorn was getting dressed as Sabrina finished up in the shower. She was full of questions tonight and he was getting suspicious. She was awfully interested in his new job, and yes, he did notice that she was pumping him for information as she scratched the hell out of his back. He had to figure out what she was up to before she got him into something he couldn’t get out of. There was always an angle if Sabrina was concerned.

Eric listened to the sound of Eric Alexander’s heart, and his wife’s breathing. There was no peace on this Earth greater than this. He said a prayer of thanks to Freyja, in Swedish, grateful with every fiber in his being for the gifts She had given him.

When Sookie was asleep, he pulled back the covers and took a few more pictures. He wished she could see herself through his eyes, how luscious and juicy and ripe she was, how he loved her this way so much that he hoped he could remember every curve of her body, heavy with his child. He moved silently around the bed, the only sound the soft clicking of the camera.

He went out to make his nightly call to Sandy, who had things under control. Bill had left a message that there were things moving along in New Orleans and they’d get a complete report on Monday, including information about one of Victor’s possible hiding places for the disappearing reconstruction funds. He scanned and made a copy of 3D image of the baby.

He kissed Sookie one last time, leaving a picture of the baby on her nightstand, and went to rest, leaving Alicia a note that Sookie was to drink at least one RM every 2 hours. He went to sleep with the picture of the baby on his chest.

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