LATE Chapter 058

 

Eric & the Goddess

 

Eric was watching Sookie sleep. . He was glad they’d stopped in the middle so she could drink two bloods because he’d hate to have to wake her now. He laughed to himself that in human couples, the man falls asleep after he comes, but in his relationship, the woman falls asleep when she’s had her fill. She was so lovely when she slept. She had still been sideways in the bed when she passed out and he had moved her to his side of the bed, turned her side down, put the wedge and her pillow in place, moved her back over to her side and she never even offered to wake up. Eric thought to himself that a human would have to have a very clear conscience to sleep so soundly, and Sookie was a living Angel so there was no guilt to torment her sleep. She had had plenty of bad experiences, but they didn’t mark her the way they might have. She managed to move forward and continue to see the good in everything and everyone.

What a little Goddess she was – especially now, with those plump breasts and that round tummy, and those hips that were growing wider and fuller. This was why ancient cultures made thousands of little Goddess figurines out of clay – to capture this miracle, this beauty that a growing baby in a fecund womb surrounded itself with. Even now, with all people knew about the birth process, it was glorious. In the old days, it was such a mystery and it struck awe into the men who witnessed it. If there had been no Goddess, men would have invented Her just because of this amazing process of life renewing itself. Of course, there was no need for invention because women were part of the Goddess in an intimate and special way that men could only look upon and envy or fall before and worship. He knew better than anyone that the advent of patriarchy was about fear of women’s connection to Nature and man’s desire to control what he did not understand. He was there to see it happen, and it grieved him still.

Eric was most definitely a Goddess worshipper – everything in the world that was worthy of worship was female. He watched over the centuries as the religions of indigenous peoples were destroyed and rewritten to put the dying god In place of all others and he never understood how humans could find inspiration in anything that didn’t include sex and birth in the real, literal, non-virginal context. People had no concept of what they had lost when fanaticism swept from the Middle East through Europe and the Goddess was driven underground. When the Inquisitions began, he had taken a job on a ship going to the Orient and stayed there studying swordcraft and working as a guard or mercenary for a succession of noblemen who knew of his secret and found it useful. By the time he returned to Europe, it had been thoroughly Christianized, and few signs of the Old Ways remained. In this last century there were signs all over that the Goddess was coming back and it couldn’t happen soon enough to suit him. He missed the sense of joy women had when they were valued in society, and contrary to what people were taught these days, Vikings did value their women and enjoy them in ways modern Americans lacked the capacity to understand.

For lack of a better way to say it, Americans had small spirits and big egos. They were the result of wave after wave of religious oppression and though they made incredible use of technological advances, they were spiritually alienated from LIFE. Even an undead Vampire like Eric was more connected to the energies of the Living Universe than an average American. There were pockets of Nature worshippers growing in the States and he hoped that in the next century they would spread and grow rapidly. Now that Vampires were “out,” Witches didn’t seem quite so unusual and with modern communications, surely people would see the sense of living in harmony with Mother Nature – even if they lived in huge cities, they were hungry for Her. He knew that hunger too well, and it had only been relieved by finding and knowing Sookie. She was his Goddess now.

In a way, he was secretly glad Sookie had no family because they’d never understand the way that he loved her. He might have been forced to steal her or make her turn her back on them to have her and that would hurt her too much. He was so relieved when she finally agreed to be his because he had been at the end of his rope and he was determined to have her no matter what extremes he had to go to. He knew the minute he saw her that she belonged to him, though he had no idea how right he was. He was glad he had given her room to come to him of her own accord.

There were times in the past he’d simply have taken her and turned her the way he did Pam and a few others who came before her and died along the way. What they had now was so precious and so much better than what they’d have between them if he’d simply taken her willingly or not. He was glad his instincts made him be patient, and let the Universe work Her will. Now he had not only Sookie but a son as well and for that he was truly grateful. He needed to find a way to give some sort of offering to Freyja, but he hadn’t come up with just the right way to go about it yet. Maybe a burnt offering or something at the Wiccaning – he’d have to see if the Witches allowed that, though, because covens didn’t do sacrifice, only offerings of food and wine. He’d come up with something, somehow – all he knew was that Sookie should be there when he did it. He wondered if that would scare her, but since she is Freyja, it was only right she be there.

Eric could see movement in Sookie’s round tummy and he put his hand over it, feeling little kicks right to the middle of his palm – not too hard, but enough to show that Eric Alexander knew he was there. What a brilliant child this would be, if he was so conscious already. Even if he learned to talk at normal rates, his understanding was advanced. He might have to consider teaching him sign language as he’d read some people do because the ability to form words comes later than the understanding of what the words mean. This was one of those nights when it would grieve Eric to go to his resting place. What he wouldn’t give to be able to stay here with the two of them, to wake up next to Sookie and feel her warmth next to him.

He finally made himself get out of bed but he consoled himself by taking a few pictures. The wedge put Sookie into a lovely, relaxed pose that reminded him of a painting of an Odalisque he had seen once. After he pulled back the covers, she shifted just a little so she was to the side a bit and it gave a lovely line that flowed from her breasts down through her waist, over the curves of her hip, thigh, and calf leading gracefully down to her foot and he hoped that the light would let the image look on film the way it looked to him right now. He was getting pretty good with the aperture settings on the camera and he considered his pictures as fine as any you might see in an upscale magazine, and his subject was infinitely more pleasing because she was HIS.

She was flawless in his eyes and he would never trade her for ten of the most sought after fashion models in the world. He’d had most of the top models over the last 40 years or so and he’d take Sookie’s curves over those bags of bones any day – they all reeked of cigarettes, coffee and crystal meth and that diet did nothing to improve their dispositions. He laughed at men wanting women who looked like them – what fools they were! If they didn’t have such a woman they made their woman miserable because she couldn’t be that, and if they did, by some quirk of fate, have a woman like that, she made them miserable. He had known a model here or there who was nice – in the 90s there was a brunette named Cindy that wasn’t bad, or overly skinny either – but for the most part, that profession ruined them psychologically as well as physically.

As he was putting his camera away, he considered the books stacked under it in the hidden drawers. Sookie knew where this was now and he hadn’t discouraged her from going back in here. Did he want her to find the pictures, or did he need a new hiding place? If she found out and didn’t care, no harm done, but If she found out and was upset, that’s the end of his memory project. No, he’d better not risk it. He would take the books to his resting place where she was much less likely to go. He smiled to himself then because it occurred to him that an easy way to keep her out of the closet was to give her a steady diet of what was in it. Sookie liked The Story of O – maybe she’d enjoy some Victorian smut, so he pulled out a book and slipped it into the bottom drawer of her nightstand and took the other book away.

He wondered how long it would take her to find it. She hadn’t mentioned the other book in a few days, but they’d been having a lot of sex, so it’s possible she had continued to read and he was reaping the benefits. She had certainly been tireless and easy to please lately, which amazed him considering the pregnancy. Well, if the erotica was fueling her fire, he was going to keep it stoked until they simply couldn’t have sex, which might not be too far away.

She had grown so in the last week that he wondered if she’d still be able to wear the dress she had planned to wear to the Sheriff’s Ball. He needed to remind Alicia to have her try it on again, just to be sure. He didn’t want her finding out at the last minute that she was unprepared. She would be under pressure during this trip, and under constant scrutiny, so he wanted to make things as easy and stress free for her as possible. He was also going to talk to Alicia about whether she’d like to travel with them. She was aware of the royalty situation now, maybe she wouldn’t freak out too much and she would be invaluable to Sookie. Bobbie could do a lot of what Alicia did but now that Alicia was also doing secretarial work, too, he doubted Bobbie could do all that she did.

Eric left a message for Alicia mentioning the idea of going with them to Vegas and New Orleans, reminding her that Bobbie and Bill would be back tonight and that Bjorn would be moving in. He asked her to make sure Sookie’s dresses still fit, and to check that again later in the week if they did. He answered some emails, including one to Bobby Burnham and his accountant about the new income. The American tax system didn’t have a provision for a guy suddenly becoming royalty, and the paperwork necessary to hide what was happening was unreal. Eric was coming into ownership of all Felipe’s personal property and the property of the Kingdom at large and the numbers of properties were mind-numbing because Felipe over-did everything. He couldn’t wait to get to Nevada and get rid of some crap. At least that wasn’t a problem in New Orleans. He’d rather rebuild something that was lost than have to dispose of what was foolishly acquired.

When he finished in his office, he went to spend his time in the nursery. He knew the baby would come sooner than expected, but he was so anxious for it – he couldn’t remember the last time he anticipated something so much, unless it was what it would be like when Sookie finally yielded to his advances. That was sublime when it finally happened, even though he didn’t know who he was, and he was grateful he had finally remembered it. This would be better. He pictured the infant fighting his way out to the world, covered in slime, red and angry and he knew it would be the proudest moment of his life. He pulled out the playpen to work with it. He had the high chair under control – he could set it up with one hand while holding the teddy bear in his arm as if it were a baby. Now he needed to find the trick to doing that with the playpen. Vampire speed was a definite advantage, but he had to keep in mind that the baby might have Vampire speed, too. As he finished setting up the playpen, he felt FIGHT! and he knew that the baby was awake and aware of him. He sent him love and pride and went back into the bedroom, kneeling down next to Sookie and pulling back the covers, laying his head on her warm, round tummy and feeling the movement of the baby beneath his cheek. Sookie stirred a little and smiled at him, saying “hey” and stroking his hair before falling back to sleep. It was just long enough to send love all around them and Eric wiped away a bloody tear as he covered her back up and went to rest for the day.

“Sookie, can you wake up and drink?” Alicia had taken over for the day and was starting the bi-hourly feedings, since it was 7 AM. Sookie struggled to open her eyes, and managed to raise up and sip on the straw, emptying the bottle and falling right back to sleep. Alicia laughed to herself. That girl slept so soundly, she rarely even moved when Alicia came in to put her laundry away and put new clothing in her closet.

Sookie was getting quite a nice wardrobe at this point and Alicia had decided she was going to go to Las Vegas and New Orleans with them to make sure Sookie was OK and to do some shopping with her at some upscale stores. Sookie was good at picking out evening clothes, but her day-to-day stuff still needed work and the shops at the Bellagio would be just the ticket for filling in what she still needed. She knew she might see some weirdness, but that might be exciting, and she wouldn’t have to attend any of the formal events, so she’d have time to do things on her own in the evenings, which sounded just great to her. Alicia loved to play slot machines and see shows and she was going to go online and see what was in town. She knew all she had to do to get tickets to anything in town was to tell Mr. Northman and he would see to it. He was a wonderful guy to work for – very grateful for what you did for him, very generous with pay, praise and bonuses.

She was a little hesitant when she first took the job – playing nursemaid to a Vampire’s mistress – but it had evolved into a wonderful position. She adored Sookie and couldn’t wait for the baby to arrive. She loved the way Sookie and Eric were with each other and she had seen him change in the short time she had been there to become happier and more open as Sookie and the baby became his central focus. She barely saw him as a Vampire anymore, and he was certainly easy on the eyes and very gallant. He reminded her of the men on the covers of romance novels and he behaved about like one, too. It was fun seeing how sweet he was to Sookie and Alicia couldn’t wait to see that big man holding a tiny baby. The fact that it meant so much more to him than a normal man was thrilling.

The new duties with Sookie being a Vampire Queen were exciting and fun and it let her use skills that might otherwise get rusty. Clerical skills hadn’t been why she was hired, but it turned out that her combination of skills were ideal for what this family needed from her. The fact that Eric was paying her a small fortune didn’t hurt, either. She was making three or four times what any other “ladies’ maid” would make even in New York or L.A. Taking care of Sookie’s needs reminded her of raising her own kids and she was happy to do things for such a sweet young thing. Having a baby, even an unusual baby like this one, was going to be fun and there would be plenty of help with him so no one should get too worn out. It was an ideal situation for a young mother.

Alicia was doing a sort of inventory this morning, seeing what Sookie still needed for her trip and for the baby because she knew the plan was to shop online and spend gift certificates while Eric was at his nightclub. She’d leave the list with Sookie and Bobbie would help her with it in the evenings while she waited for Eric to get home. That would leave her days free for Queen responsibilities and time in the swimming pool and Alicia was very glad Sookie would be getting some exercise again. She really didn’t like the fact that Bobbie had taken off right after being told by the doctor that Sookie needed exercise and massage, as well as her blood pressure monitored. She couldn’t blame Bobbie for wanting to be with Bill – he was so handsome and considerate – but Sookie needed her right now. At least Sookie was sleeping on that wedge this morning and breathing better.

At 9 am Alicia took Sookie another blood and this time she asked for an extra one. That was good. It meant the baby was getting lots of nutrition, even if whatever was in this thing looked disgusting. It was what the baby needed, so that was fine with Alicia. She wasn’t the one who had to drink it, and Sookie didn’t seem to mind at all. When she went back in at 11 am, Sookie asked for breakfast, so Alicia went down to put together a tray of salmon and bagels, which she knew Sookie would love.

Sookie didn’t feel like going back to sleep, but she didn’t feel like getting up, either. She remembered the book in her nightstand, and turned over to open the drawer. What was this? The book she had been almost finished with was gone, and there was a book called A Man with a Maid by Anonymous and some other stories. Eric was the only one who knew about the other book, so he must have put this here for her. Was this a dirty book, too?

Holy smoke, was this a dirty book! It started straight off with a guy plotting to take the virginity of a woman who had refused to marry him. It was written in an old fashioned style, but it went into a lot of detail about this guy renting rooms that had what used to be a “quiet room” in a mental asylum included and his process of turning it into a sound-proof trap for the girl, filled with all kinds of special furniture that could be used to tie her up or control her. It didn’t take him long to get her in there, and he took great pleasure in violating her. “O” had been a willing participant in her harsh treatment, but this book was about completely non-consensual stuff. Sookie berated herself for not being so disgusted that she stopped reading, but once again, she couldn’t put it down, and the heat and throbbing between her legs was out of control.

She was trying to figure out what to do about it when she heard Alicia on the stairs and she hid the book under the covers, just in case Alicia might know what it was. She couldn’t imagine Alicia knowing about a book like this, but you never knew, and Sookie sure didn’t want to be the one to introduce her to it if she didn’t. She just hoped Alicia didn’t notice the scent that was emanating from her. If Eric were awake, she bet he’d be able to smell it all the way in his resting place. She hoped she managed to get into the pool before she bumped into any of the Were guards, because they would definitely smell it.

Alicia set her up with her tray and didn’t show any signs of noticing anything out of the ordinary. Sookie dug straight into the salmon, which tasted extra good today. Something about the mixture of heat, guilt, embarrassment and arousal was making her hungry as well as horny. Damn, she wished Eric were awake. She knew he would explain to her why this was so hot. She tried to imagine what he would say – women fantasized about rape, so this was a woman’s fantasy as well as a man’s? That the fact it was a forbidden subject made it more exciting? She started picturing herself as the girl, Alice, and Eric as the man, Jack, and that alone nearly sent her over the edge. She knew from her own few experiences that she loved being tied up. A shudder ran through her as she thought about how exciting it was to be completely under Eric’s control.

She LIKED being at his mercy, even when he didn’t show any… maybe especially when he didn’t show any. She loved it when he pushed her until she was almost crying. After the baby was born she was going to insist that he “train” her because that idea had been running through her mind and even the idea of not so mild punishment began to appeal to her. She knew she would never want to be whipped with a real whip, but spanking, even a hard spanking that hurt, had a certain appeal. She remembered seeing a riding crop – or riding whip as they called it in the book – in Eric’s secret stash in the closet and wondered how much that would hurt. She guessed it would depend on how hard he hit her and she knew Eric would just make it uncomfortable but not torturous.

She tried to figure out how long it would be before they could do things like that – it was the middle of June now, the baby would probably be born in August then 6 weeks – maybe October? That was a long way away! She heard someone on the stairs, thinking it was Alicia she didn’t jump to cover her breasts but it was Bjorn and Margaret – she was giving him a tour of the house since he was moving in. Margaret couldn’t see her but Bjorn made eye contact with her briefly and his eyes fell to her bare breast and she could tell he smelled her, too. They didn’t come in or acknowledge her, Margaret just pointed out the rooms and they continued to the 4th floor.

Shit. Sookie slid down and pulled the covers over her head. She just flashed Bjorn and he smelled her arousal. She’d be seeing him in less than an hour down in the pool and she’d know that he saw her and he’d know that he saw her and Oh. Shit. She saw the look on his face, too – the look of hunger, wanting – and it had caused an instant unconscious reaction that stabbed right down there to her center. She was absolutely not going to… not going to be attracted to Bjorn. That could NOT happen. She loved Eric, she thought Eric was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. It was normal to find Bjorn attractive, of course, but she couldn’t be attracted to him. Fuck! She hoped the water in the pool was on the cool side today. She wouldn’t say anything about what just happened if he didn’t, and the water would cool her down and wash away the scent. She might as well get up and head down there now – maybe she’d be in the water before he finished his tour and all.

Alicia had already put her suit out and her stuff in her tote bag, even the iPod, so she threw the suit on and headed down stairs. No Bjorn yet – good. She grabbed an air mattress and headed into the pool, ducking under the water to get the scent damp and gone. The water was cool and she was relieved that it cooled her down all over. Eric had started something he wasn’t there to finish! Oh, but she was going to make him finish it tonight – but she had this whole long day to get through first. She took her sunglasses out of the tote that she had left on the concrete beside the pool and put them on, hoping that would help her deal with her embarrassment when Bjorn finally did come out.

“You’re up early today!” It was Bjorn. OK, Sookie, hold it together and act as if nothing happened.

“Yeah, I felt like getting in the pool early today and getting some sun. I can sleep tonight while I’m waiting for Eric to get home. That will make the time go faster.”

“You could go with him, couldn’t you?”

“I’m supposed to rest up for our trips. They’re afraid I’m over-doing it and I passed out the other day, though I was under crazy stress. Eric got upset because I was out for so long.”

“How long were you out?”

“About 10 minutes, I guess. They’re supposed to be checking my blood pressure several times a day, but Bobbie hasn’t been here to do it.”

“Do you have a blood pressure cuff here?”

“Yeah, but only Bobbie knows how to use it.”

“I know how to use one. I have some emergency medical training. That’s one of the reasons they assigned me to you.”

Alicia came out with a glass of sweet tea for each of them.

“Alicia, did you know Bjorn knows how to take blood pressure?”

“No, I didn’t – I wish I had known. If I bring you the cuff, Bjorn, will you check her blood pressure? It’s been several days since it was done and we really should know what’s going on with it. High blood pressure in a pregnant woman can be very dangerous.”

“Sure, bring it out and I’ll check her.”

“Wonderful, I’ll be right back.”

“Sookie, you should come up here and relax a few minutes before I do it.”

Alicia went into the den, which was where the cuff had been since it was used when Sookie fainted, and came back out with it. Sookie came out of the pool and wrapped a towel around her waist and sat in the chair opposite Bjorn.

“Just relax, Sookie, and try to breathe normally,” he said to her softly, smiling. She took off her sunglasses and laid them on the table. She was blushing but he was trying to put her at ease and he was being very careful to keep his eyes everywhere but on her chest. She couldn’t look him in the eye, though, and she could tell from the way he was smiling that he was suppressing a laugh because Alicia was there. After a few minutes, he put the cuff around her arm and listened with the stethoscope that was with it, then pumped up the cuff. He listened and watched as the air went out and he frowned.

“It’s too high, isn’t it?” Alicia asked

“Yes, it is – this is way too high for a girl your age. How do you feel right now?”

“I’m OK, I guess – a little headache-y, maybe.”

“Who’s your doctor?” he asked.

“Um… Dr. Ludwig…”

“Ah – yes, I know her. Do you have her number?”

“It’s in my phone.”

“Give me your phone and let me talk to her, OK? I know what to say to her.”

“OK…” Alicia was bringing Sookie’s tote bag over to her and she took her phone out of it. Sookie found the number, hit the button and handed her phone to Bjorn.

“Hello, Dr. Ludwig. This is Bjorn Anderson – do you remember me? Yes, ma’am, I’m Queen Sookie’s personal body guard now, and we just checked her blood pressure and I thought you should know it’s 160/120. Yes, there are. Uh-huh. Let me see… Sookie, are you taking your Soma?”

“No, I didn’t like the way it made me feel. I adjusted to it but then I just stopped taking it.”

“Did you hear that? Yes –well, Bobbie hasn’t been here much since I’ve worked here. Uh, I think she’s at Bill Compton’s house, but she’ll be back here tonight. No, she’s down here by the pool. Uh-huh, hang on – Sookie she wants to talk to you.”

“Uh-oh. OK… Hi, doctor. Yes, but…. Well, yeah, but…. Can’t I just float in the pool for a while? What if I took a Soma and floated in the pool? That relaxes me a lot. Bjorn sits right here and watches me every minute – he’ll know if I fall asleep. If I get that tired, I’ll go into the den and lie down, OK? Yes – I will. OK, thank you, doctor. Yes, I’ll have her call you tomorrow afternoon. Thank you. Oh – no, I didn’t know that – that’s great! I’ll see you in Las Vegas, then. OK, bye.”

“Well…?” Alicia was being very maternal right now and Sookie knew it.

“She said I can stay in the pool a maximum of two hours but she wants me back on the Soma this minute. Damn.”

“I take it she wants to talk to Bobbie, too?” Alicia was feeling vindicated.

“Yeah, she’s not happy that nobody has been checking my blood pressure and she said it is ridiculously, dangerously high right now.”

“I’m going to go get you a Soma. Bjorn you’ll need to keep an eye on her, because they knock her out. If she gets too sleepy, get her out of the pool and bring her into the den, OK?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Eric is not going to be happy.” Sookie was bummed. She thought she was going to get away with not taking her medicine.

“I’m not happy about this, either. I had no idea you had a blood pressure problem. I need to know something like that – I need to know everything about your physical being – allergies, weaknesses, if you don’t feel well, if you need medicine, if you have a special diet.”

“I thought you were just supposed to be here if someone attacks me.”

“I’m supposed to make sure that you are alive and healthy. Like I said, part of why they picked me for this was because I have an emergency medical background. Knowing you’re pregnant is one thing, but knowing you’re pregnant and having complications is another thing entirely. I’m going to be checking your blood pressure every half hour for the rest of the day.”

“That’s a lot.”

“That’s probably too little. I should probably check it every 15 minutes, but I know you’re going to fight me on this anyway. If it gets any higher we’ll have to get a doctor here. She said you can’t go to an emergency room.”

“Yeah, I can’t. Too many things they do might be toxic to the baby.”

“So it’s even more important that I know what’s going on with you.”

“I’m not really having complications…” Sookie was trying to downplay the problem.

“Yes, Sookie, you are – blood pressure that high is always a complication but for a pregnant woman it could be deadly.”

“It could?”

“Yes, it could.”

Alicia came back out with a Soma and a glass of water. She handed it to Sookie who took it but wasn’t happy about it.

“Are you getting through to her, Bjorn?”

“Probably not, but we’ll keep trying. I’m going to check her pressure every half hour for the rest of the day.”

“Good. I’ve been worried that we weren’t keeping on top of this.”

“I feel fine, though, honest.” Sookie was wading back into the pool.

“That’s bullshit, Sookie. You have to be either light headed or have a headache with that blood pressure.” Bjorn wasn’t going to let her snow him the way she apparently did everyone else.

“Well, yeah, but I kind of always am since I’m pregnant.”

“That’s probably because of your blood pressure, instead of the pregnancy itself. I should have known something was up. The first week I worked here we barely saw you at all, then all of a sudden you’re in the pool every day – that was when you stopped taking the Soma, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, I thought I could get by without them. They numb me out too much.”

“Isn’t that what she wants them to do?”

“Yeah, but I don’t see how spending all my time in bed can be healthy. I’m not going to be able to do that when we’re traveling.”

“That’s why she wants you well-rested before your trip. The next 6 days you are going to do nothing strenuous, you hear me? And I want to see you taking your Soma. How many are you supposed to take in a day?”

“3.”

“OK, every 8 hours. I’ll make sure you take morning and evening and Eric can make sure you take the one at night. It’s twelve hundred hours right now. Your next one should be at 20, then the next one a O-four hundred.”

“Huh?”

“8 pm and 4 am. I’ll make sure you take the ones at noon and 8 and I’ll tell Eric to make sure he sees you take your third one at 4 am – you two are almost always together at that time, right?”

“Right.” She stuck her tongue out at him briefly and he caught her.

“Get as pissy as you want, missy – you and that baby are not going to have a problem on my watch. I can’t believe I didn’t know about you passing out and you having a blood pressure problem. We’re lucky you haven’t had a stroke with it that high.”

“I’d feel a lot worse if I were that sick, wouldn’t I?”

“Not necessarily – that’s why high blood pressure is called “the silent killer.”

“Oh – I didn’t know that.”

“Well, now you do. Is there anything else about your health you forgot to tell me?”

“Um – I’m not supposed to have anything with iron in it in case the baby is sensitive to it. They want me drinking a minimum of 1 RM every two hours. I think that’s it.”

“Alright. I’ll be working with Bobbie and Alicia to see that those things are observed. I can’t believe Eric hasn’t been on you about this.”

“I think maybe he doesn’t really understand blood pressure. I know I don’t.”

“I never thought of that, but you are probably right. I’ll explain to him how important this is. It’s good Bobbie and I will be living in. If he suspects anything is wrong, one of us will be right here to check you out and call Dr. Ludwig. She’s very good, you know, very respected in the Supe community.”

“Yeah, so I’ve heard. She was the only one I knew to ask about having this baby and Eric liked the idea. I think she has something to do with it being possible, but I’m not sure. She had something to do with Eric’s… promotion.”

“If she was involved in that, then it came right from the top. She is normally neutral in all things. Only the Council’s wishes would induce her to take a side in such a matter.”

“So I gather, but she’s been all around this from the beginning.”

“That just confirms to me Freyja’s involvement. This baby will be very special.”

“I know I’m probably biased, but he already is – he’s very aware and he can tell people apart already.”

“That’s what I mean. He’s going to be very smart.”

“He’s supposed to be a handful, too – they said it will take Eric to keep control of him.”

“That makes sense, especially if he has powers of any kind. He’ll be as strong as a young Vampire would be my guess, but willful as a child. And when he’s a teenager – you’ll have to keep girls locked away from him, probably, if he takes after his father.”

“Which he will. I can’t imagine it was easy to raise Eric, even as a human. A Vamp or Fae baby with his personality will be tough.”

“That’s why Eric is his father and I am here in the daytime. He will have a strong hand to watch over him all the time. OK, it’s been half an hour. Come to the side of the pool and I’ll check your pressure.”

He checked her and it had gone down a bit, but it was still high. He suggested they wait and check it again in another half hour, so the medicine would be at full effect. Alicia brought Sookie two RMs which she drank straight down, then in another 20 minutes or so Bjorn noticed she was slowing down and nodding off a bit.

“Sookie, come out of the pool.”

“Why?”

“You are falling asleep. If you don’t come out now, you will fall asleep and I’ll have to dive in with my clothes on to get you.”

“Oh, alright.”

He took one of the really large towels and wrapped it around her and took another one with them. He spread the second towel out on the couch in the den, and she lay down on it, and he put the TV on for her, though she was asleep by the time he got it to the channel she wanted. Bjorn checked her BP again and it had gone down even more, so he went out front to where the other guards were, but he came back every half hour and checked her blood pressure as she slept. Sookie was able to wake up enough to drink her RMs every two hours but she couldn’t wake up enough to eat dinner when Eric tried to wake her but she did manage to drink one of the chocolate supplements and she took her 8 o’clock Soma.

Bjorn explained to Eric how important it was to watch her blood pressure and taught him how to use the cuff. Eric had just gotten Sookie settled into their bed when Bobbie and Bill arrived. Bobbie sat on the bed next to Sookie and put the TV up and on, while Bill and Eric headed to Fangtasia and Bjorn went over to Felicia’s house. When Sookie woke up at midnight, Bobbie was sitting next to her.

“Hey, Sweetie – are you waking up a little?” Bobbie was smiling at her, smoothing her hair back from her face.

“Bobbie – what time is it? Last I remember, I was in the swimming pool.”

“It’s around midnight, hon. Eric brought you up here when you couldn’t eat dinner and I’ve been here with you since Eric and Bill went to Fangtasia and Bjorn went to his girlfriend’s house. Quite a hunk, that new body guard of yours,” she laughed.

Sookie smiled. “Bjorn? Yeah, Freyja wanted a Swedish warrior with me day and night.”

“Very pragmatic of Her. Nice of Her to make sure they’re both blonde and gorgeous, too.” The two of them laughed together. “So do you think you could eat something? Eric has been calling every hour to ask if you’ve eaten.”

“What is there to eat?”

“If you can sit up, there’s a container of gumbo. If not, I’ve got a chicken salad sandwich you can eat. Either way, you’ve got to get some food into you, and I want you to drink one of these strawberry things.”

“Have I had an RM lately?”

“About an hour ago. I was pretty sure you drank it in your sleep. I held the straw for you and you conked right back out when the bottle was empty.”

Sookie struggled to sit up and Bobbie helped her, though she was almost upright to begin with because of the wedge. Bobbie got the container of gumbo and rice, which was still a little warm because it was in an insulated bag on the dresser, and a spoon and Sookie dug in. She wasn’t really hungry but she knew she needed to eat for the baby. She suspected the pills were killing her appetite on top of knocking her out.

“So, did you have a good time at Bill’s house?”

“Yes, we had a great time. It was very quiet, though, and I missed you.”

“Sure you did…’ Sookie teased her.

“I did during the day, at least. I almost drove over one afternoon because his place is a little dull when he’s asleep. Instead I walked over to your old house to see if Amelia was home and she was so we spent an afternoon talking about you.”

“About me? Why?”

“Freyja, mostly, and what that means, and what we think you should do with it.”

“Come to any conclusions? Because, I’m lost…”

“Maybe. Have you had any unusual energy occurrences?”

“Yeah, mostly during sex.”

“Really? What kind?”

“Exploding light. Sometimes it’s hot and white and sometimes it a purple whirlpool of sparkles.”

“Does Eric experience it, too?”

“Oh, yeah, and sometimes it’s like he, the baby and I are all one being for a second. It’s pretty cool for that brief moment and then Eric and I are just blown away and exhausted.”

“Has Eric ever experienced it before?”

“No, he’s as mystified by it as I am. He keeps saying he’s a warrior, not a shaman and this is something a Witch should handle and Norse men…”

“…don’t do magick.”

“Exactly. You know about that?”

“Yes. Norse men are afraid of women’s power, which is basically what magick is. Even if a man performs magick, he’s drawing on his connection to the Feminine Divine. That’s why they’re all a little wary of Odin – he learned about magick from Freyja, and that seems a little…”

“…gay?”

“Exactly.”

“Yeah, that’s what he said. He’s not thrilled with the idea of our son being a Witch.”

“Well, there are male Witches, though not nearly as many as women, of course.”

“Are they called warlocks?”

“No, that’s mostly from people growing up watching Bewitched. The word “warlock” is from a Scots dialect and it means “trucebreaker.” It’s used to describe someone who uses magick unethically, a traitor.”

“So, technically, Hallow and her crew were warlocks, not Witches?”

“Exactly. Witches by definition follow the Wiccan Rede – ‘An’ it harm none, do what ye will.” A real Witch won’t do harm or use manipulative magick. They’re safer to be around than a normal person.”

“They are?”

“Yes, see, a normal person works magick all the time, but it’s undisciplined. They constantly throw out chaotic impulses without regard to where their energy goes or what it does. Like when a woman walks by a pretty girl and thinks “bitch” or they wish bad things toward someone they don’t like – all of that manifests somewhere on some level, if not for the other people they’re focused on, for the people thinking the negativity. Witches are careful not to send negative energy around because they know it will come back to them. They do good works because that comes back to them, too. If everyone understood how the Universe works, and how energy flows, this world would be a much more pleasant place to be.”

“Native peoples knew about this, though, didn’t they?”

“Yes, and many still do.”

“Then why did the world get to be the way it is?”

“Because a fanatical following of a minor Semitic war deity was willing to kill everyone who wouldn’t do things their way. As they grew in power, some of them discovered that you could amass great wealth and power by keeping people in a constant state of war, so they defined their religion in such a way that everyone who wasn’t with them was their enemy and it was their duty to slaughter them and take what they had. Denial, poverty and sexual repression create violent people, and the religious authority taught these violent people to think of everyone else as a demon that had to be destroyed before it destroyed them. Gradually, they were able to replace the idea of demons with abstracts like patriotism and honor, and you wound up with exploitative cultures full of people with no spiritual connection or awareness at all. A spiritually connected, indigenous culture would never have created the level of pollution, deforestation, poverty or sickness that our world has produced. They were set up to prevent it.”

“So what do we do now that we’re at this point?”

“We educate people. We get back to the Goddess and take as many people as we can with us. Everybody thinks humans are destroying the Earth, but Gaia is a self-healing organism. We’ll either get back in harmony with Her body or Her immune system will slough us off like an illness. We aren’t endangering Her, we’re making Her dangerous to us because we’re out of control.”

“But people now aren’t that religious, are they?”

“But the culture is. Some night when you’re watching TV, count how many times you hear references to Biblical or Christian imagery. You’re barraged with it constantly and popular media assumes you know all its buzzwords. Notice who supports the wars in the Middle East? It’s always the active, practicing Christians, even though Jesus was anti-war. They support the Republican party, the party of rich people and greed and anti-welfare, when Jesus said to give everything you have to the poor. They use Jesus’ name, but their beliefs are strictly Old Testament, Semitic war deity in origin. Jesus would be appalled at what has happened in his name.”

“And all of this, over 2,000 years, has been about money?”

“More like 6,000. Violence on a massive scale was virtually unknown until about 4,000 B.C.E.”

“What’s “B.C.E.””

“Before the Common Era. People use that now instead of B.C. and A.D. because those are Christian terms. See, when they realized the potential to make money with war, they became very interested in making sure their money and their property stayed in their own family line, so it became necessary to strictly control women’s sexuality in a way it never had been before. You can’t have a patriarchy if you don’t know who the daddies are, and there were no DNA tests in those days, so women became virtual prisoners, and women and children were considered property.”

“Like what happens with the Taliban or some other theocracy takes over in the Middle East…”

“Right – it’s still going on. The Middle East is more blatant about it, but the same dynamic can be found all through Western Culture. Americans don’t make women wear burkas, but they consider women who enjoy sex to be whores, women are still beaten and raped with very little help or protection from authorities, women are routinely paid less than men for the same work, we’ve never had a female president even though women are 54% of the population. Did you know that since women have been given fair access to college education they are the majority in schools now and making the top grades? Whenever they’re given a fair shot, they out do men in almost any field except the ones that favor brute strength. There’s nothing inferior about women – that was always lies used to justify treating women as chattel. Look at any culture – who works the fields, prepares the food, cares for the children – the world is built on the backs of women.”

“My Gran always said that a big job needed 3 good men or one woman.”

“Exactly.”

“If women are the majority, why don’t we run things?”

“Good question. It’s because we’re taught to compete with each other rather than work together. If we ever get together, we’ll take over, so anything that brings us together is denigrated. Feminism is just basic fairness, but if you use the word you start hearing slurs about dykes or man-hating or not shaving your legs – anything they think will scare a woman away from such things for fear of alienating their husbands or Lovers or sons or brothers. They use the media to keep women obsessed with things that don’t matter – weight, fashion, how you smell, how you look. You don’t see them putting young boys in bathing suits and parading them around a stage grading them, do you?”

“I never thought about that. It’s very rare to see a boy in a pageant, isn’t it?”

“Right – it’s hard to have a Sisterhood if you’re constantly comparing yourself to the woman next to you.”

“OK, so I’m a part of Freyja…”

‘Right.”

“Does that give me special powers?”

“Maybe – it might be the source of your telepathy. You might be able to do amazing magick if you tried. Those energy blasts you and Eric generate probably ought to be given form and direction.”

“Form and direction? Like telling it what to do?”

“Exactly. As it is, it probably just builds and dissipates, like a river ebbing and flowing. If you give it a purpose and send it out with intention, there’s no telling what you could do with it.”

“But isn’t there a sort of blowback?”

“Well, what goes out comes back, so you want it to be positive and creative. You could create impenetrable protection around the three of you, to start with, and send the energy to do things you want done, like to rebuild New Orleans or something like that.”

“Is it possible we’ve already used it and didn’t know it?”

“It’s possible – why?”

“The way Eric moved upward so quickly – I wonder if we didn’t wish Madden out of the way quickly…”

“I don’t think you’ve got any blowback coming from that, if that’s what you’re worried about. From what I know of it, that went down according to the Council’s plan. That may have come straight from Freyja.”

“But if I’m Freyja…”

“Don’t take all of that on, Sookie. There are limits to your ability and limits to your responsibility. Try to see this as a positive thing – be grateful for it and ask for guidance in using it wisely and for the good of all.”

“For the good of all. That was in that book you lent me.”

“Right – according to Free Will and for the good of all. That’s how you do magick that is not harmful or manipulative. Everyone has to consent to the outcome and no one must be harmed. That doesn’t mean that people might not be harmed as the magick unfolds – rapists gets caught and punished, criminals go to jail, Karma comes back to bite people in the ass, but you didn’t do it – they did it to themselves.”

“Trust the Universe and She will provide?”

“Yes – She really will, Sookie. Look at all She has given you already.”

“Yeah – so many things I thought I could never have – Eric’s baby, Eric, wealth, protection. The only thing really wrong right now is that I have to stay knocked out this way.”

‘That’s only for a week. I talked to Dr. Ludwig while you were sleeping. She’s going to give you something much milder for the trip, and you can start taking it on Friday so you have a couple of days to see how it works for you.”

“What about getting ready for the trip, though?”

“Alicia has that all under control – she’s going with us, you know?”

“She is?”

“Yep – Eric thought it best that she be there to help with all the things she does for you – your hair, makeup, clothes, clerical stuff you might need. I’m supposed to look after you physically – massages, exercise, monitoring your blood pressure, which Bjorn and I will both do. He taught Eric how to read your BP, too.”

“He did?”

“Yes, he explained to Eric how important it was – he had no concept of what it meant which was why he hadn’t been worried about it – then he taught him how to use the cuff so we can all keep an eye on you.”

“Will Alicia be able to handle all the Supe stuff?”

“She won’t be around that much, really. She’ll have her evenings off to go to shows and such after she gets you out the door. She can’t wait to take you shopping in the Bellagio.”

“Are you OK with that?”

“Of course – why wouldn’t I be?”

“I don’t know – that was kind of ‘our thing’ wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, but this will be cool, too. It’ll just give me more time to look around while she fusses over you. She’s got a great eye, Sookie and she knows better than anyone what you still need.”

“That’s true. It will be nice to have her with me to get ready for the Ball and the fundraiser.”

“Yeah, Eric was worried that you might be under a lot of stress those nights, so he thought having her there might be calming for you.”

“It will – he takes good care of me.”

“Yes, he does.”

Sookie let out a huge yawn as Bobbie took away the empty gumbo container, and she settled back, going back to sleep. When she woke next, Eric was smiling at her, and he kissed her.

“Hey,” she said

“Hey – how are you feeling, my Angel?”

“I’m fine. Have a good night at Fangtasia?”

“Bill and I got a lot done. I met some subjects who had requested audiences. It was quiet and I missed you terribly.”

“I miss you, too.”

“Are you up to a bath?”

“I think I can do that.”

“You relax and I’ll get us clean and comfortable.”

He ran a bath and undressed as she smiled at him, then settled her gently into the tub, climbing in behind her. He was determined not to get her worked up so he kept the vibe very quiet and gentle, with candlelight and he put some soft music on in the background. She had never heard of the band before and he said they were called Tabitha’s Secret? and their singer had gone on to be very popular in another band. Eric liked his voice and Sookie found she did, too. It was soft alternative music with catchy tunes and good lyrics, and she settled back into Eric’s chest and just melted for a little bit and he hummed the tunes to her. He could actually carry a tune and she asked him if he’d ever done any singing and he laughed and said something about a band in the late 60s. She asked if there were pictures and he said he’d dig them out sometime for her.

“Wow – I didn’t know I was living with a rock god…” she teased him as she turned to snuggle up under his chin.

“You knew about half of it – you just didn’t know I could sing,”

“Oh, but I knew you were a god?”

“Nothing but the best for my little Goddess. Would you like a massage?”

“Yes, I’d like that a lot. One of these days I should massage you.”

“Maybe sometime. I get as much pleasure massaging you as I’d get from that, though – maybe more. I love touching your soft skin.” He picked up a bottle of rose scented lotion and spread it on his hand, smoothing a lot of it on her back as she turned more toward him. He was so good at this – he used just the right pressure – enough to really feel him working the muscles, but no pain or discomfort at all, just a gentle kneading that made her feel so loved she couldn’t believe it. He whispered in her ear as he stroked her back. “You’re so warm, especially right now. I can feel your soft flesh yield to my fingers and feel the rush of your blood through your veins. I feel your heart beat and hear the baby’s heartbeat, too. I’ve never felt anything like it. Your pulse is as hypnotic to me as your scent and taste is sweet.”

He began licking her neck as his hands worked their way down to her bottom cheeks. She felt like she couldn’t get close enough to him and he felt the same way about her. She started to speak, but he shushed her.

“Relax, my Angel. Everything soft and slow tonight, alright? Let me do all the work.”

That was fine with Sookie – she was too tired to do much else, anyway. He lifted her onto his erection, moving toward the middle of the tub and letting her get her legs around him. She sighed with relief as he lowered her onto him and for some reason she felt like crying and she couldn’t hold it in. She tried to hide her face in his hair so he wouldn’t notice, but he put his hand on her cheek and made her look at him, and he kissed her cheeks and eyelids.

Very quietly, he asked “are you in pain, little one?”

“No – I don’t know why I’m crying.”

“Well, there must be a reason, so let it all out. I’ve got you and you’re safe, so let it all go. You know you don’t have to hide from me, don’t you? I know you were trying not to let me see.”

“Everything is so perfect right now that it hurts.”

“I know what you mean.”

“You do?”

“Yes, I do. It feels too good to be real. I keep expecting to wake from a dream and find myself alone again.”

“Yeah, like that. I didn’t know how lonely I used to be, but now that I’ve had this, I don’t know if I could ever face going back to that.”

“You’ll never have to, Sookie, I promise. Freyja didn’t bring us together just to tear us apart. We’re going to be together forever.”

She put her arms tight around his neck and they were both quiet except for soft moans as they moved a little faster and a little more deliberately and she reached a quiet but deep release. His followed soon after and he held her tight as she hugged his neck, tears streaming down her face. He knew that most of this was hormonal upheaval, and she was under a lot of pressure being Queen. She was so well suited for everything she was going through, but there was still a part of her that was a lonely little girl and it broke his heart. Gradually, he turned her with her back to his chest and bit his wrist. He pressed his bleeding arm to her lips and as she drew deeply and hard from his arm he sank his teeth into her neck, which wasn’t really easy but it was amazing – the white hot light was with them as they both came like the snap of a string – Eric couldn’t speak, but Sookie was saying “please Freyja, protect us. Let us be together always.” As the last word left her lips there was a WHOOSH of wind that put the candles out, leaving them in the dark.

“Sookie, what did you do?”

“Bobbie said she and Amelia thought we should use that energy when we raise it. I was giving it direction. I think it worked.”

“I’d say so. How do you feel?

“Happy, tired, – safe.”

“Good. Would you like for me to wash your hair?”

“Don’t we need light?”

“I can see fine. All you need to do is close your eyes and let me do the work.”

“OK, that might be kind of cool. I’m looking forward to being in bed with you. I just want to be tucked in with your arms around me.”

It wasn’t long until she got just what she wanted. He helped her drink a couple of RMs and take a Soma, then crawled in next to her. They spooned and he whispered to her for a while as his hand rested over the baby and soon she drifted off to sleep. He lay in the dark with her until near dawn. He wasn’t ready to let her go until he had to. Work could wait. Everything could wait. He was with his Sookie and that was all he cared about. He gave her another blood which she practically drank in her sleep. He kissed her softly on the forehead for a long time. He didn’t want to leave them but the sun was coming up and he needed to be in his hiding place before the servants arrived. He went to rest with two pictures on his chest under his hand – the picture of the baby and a beautiful picture of Sookie sleeping. It was the closest thing he could get to what he really wanted.

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