Sookie was dreaming. There was a collie running on the shore that was washed away in the waves. Sookie started to run out to help the dog, but Freyja appeared and held her back.
“What are you doing? Help him!” Sookie struggled in Her arms.
“You help him, Sookie, but do it from here.”
“Yes, you can. Picture the dog on the shore, stretch out your hands and say ‘come to me.'”
Sookie looked at the poor dog drowning, and she closed her eyes, stretched out her hands and said “COME TO ME!”
Instantly, the dog was sitting at her feet, wet but not even out of breath.
“He wanted to be saved, Sookie. You were able to save him because he wanted to be saved. You may offer your gifts, but others may refuse. Remember, and trust yourself to know what to do.”
I believe the world is burning to the ground
Oh well I guess we’re gonna find out
Let’s see how far we’ve come
Let’s see how far we’ve come
Well I believe it all is coming to an end
Oh well, I guess, we’re gonna pretend,
Let’s see how far we’ve come
Let’s see how far we’ve come
Sookie’s phone was buzzing its way across her nightstand, her Matchbox 20 ringtone singing in her face. Ugh. She picked up the phone and saw her Bon Temps number on the display – it must be Amelia.
“Hey, Sookie, do you have plans today?”
“Not really. What’s up?”
“Octavia is coming for a visit and she’s going to have lunch with me at Merlotte’s. I think you and Bobbie should join us and you can pick Octavia’s brain about what’s going on around you. She knows more about Wicce than anybody in Louisiana.”
“Just grab Bobbie and come meet us a 1:00, and bring a notebook or a journal or something – Bobbie, too, because ‘Vi might consider reading cards for us.”
“Uh – Bjorn will probably have to come with me. Is that OK?”
“Who’s Bjorn – a new body guard?”
“Yes – he’s sort of the daytime Eric.”
“This I’ve gotta see. Bring whoever you want, but you and Bobbie be there.”
“OK, let me round them all up.”
It was 10 am – a little early for Sookie but at least she was awake and didn’t feel groggy. She might actually be able to function on this new medication. Cool. She threw on her pink robe and went downstairs. She saw Alicia and Margaret first in the kitchen and they were shocked to see her up.
“Mrs. Northman!” Margaret hadn’t seen her in days.
“Well, early bird!” Alicia thought she looked well rested for a change.
“Hi, Margaret, hi, Alicia – are Bobbie and Bjorn around?”
“Yes, they’re having breakfast by the pool.”
“Can I get some breakfast and join them?”
“Of course you can, Missus – would you like a steak or salmon?”
“Alright, go on out and I’ll have it for you in just a few minutes.”
“Thanks.” Sookie headed for the back door and saw Bjorn and Bobbie sitting at the picnic table talking and drinking coffee. “Hey, guys!”
“Sookie! What are you doing up?” Bobbie was excited to see her out of bed, even if it wasn’t strictly what the doctor ordered.
“Amelia called me. Did she ever mention her teacher, Octavia, to you?”
“Yeah, she’s supposed to be the freaking uber-Witch, isn’t she?”
“Exactly. She’s coming to have lunch at Merlotte’s with Amelia today and they want us to join them so she can talk to me about the Freyja stuff and she might even read cards for us!”
Margaret put a huge plate of salmon, cream cheese and bagels in front of Sookie and she dug in.
“Sookie, you’re supposed to be in bed.” Bjorn reminded her.
“Bjorn, I have to get out of this house. I’m going stir crazy, even if I am asleep most of the time. All we’re going to do is eat lunch and talk.”
“Then I’m going to take your blood pressure every hour while we’re there.”
“We’re?” Bobbie didn’t know Bjorn would go.
“We’re. She goes nowhere without me, and since you’re going I’ll take another guard with us, too.”
“You do know you’re going to be sitting with 4 Witches, right?” Bobbie told him.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a Witch…” Sookie started.
“I would” – Bobbie and Bjorn spoke together. Bobbie continued, “that’s the least of what you are, darlin’ – deal with it. What time do we need to be there?”
“1 o’clock. I need to shower after I eat.”
“OK, I want to change clothes.” Bobbie was trying to decide what to wear.
“And I need to get coverage from another guard. Everybody be in the kitchen ready to go at Noon.”
“OK, cool. Thanks, Bjorn.”
Bobbie laughed. “Queen Sookie and her Coven go to Merlotte’s. That’s going to be so funny. You know, I went there one night with Bill?”
“No – you did?”
“Yeah and everybody wanted to know if you were really pregnant with Eric’s baby and how it happened and what were you going to do and how was your wedding…”
“Oh, man – I’m sorry they bugged you.”
“Oh, it was no problem. Bill was a little put off by some of the questions, especially from the neon red-head….”
“Arlene. She’s FOTS and she’s a bitch now. She used to be my friend but she turned on me because of my Vampires.”
“Right, and the owner was not happy to hear that you were so happy. He had a thing for you, I guess? Anyway, he had convinced himself that the rumors about the baby couldn’t be true. When Bill and I confirmed that you were pregnant and that it really was Eric’s baby, he locked himself in his office.”
“Oh. I hope Sam isn’t angry with me. I know he’s disappointed. Maybe this is not a good idea…”
“Listen, Sookie, it’s a public bar and he’s a big boy. You’ll have so many people around you he won’t be able to give you a hard time. ”
“I just don’t want him to be hurt. He was a good friend to me.”
“Sookie, the guy had a thing for you. He’s going to be disappointed. That’s not your responsibility.”
“Yeah, I guess. Anyway – what are you wearing today?”
“Just a sundress, and I’ll take a sweater in case the air conditioning is too much.”
“That’s not likely in Merlotte’s. Go for comfort. I guess I’ll wear one of my new sundresses. I wonder if Alicia would do my makeup?”
“To go to a road house? Sookie…”
“I’d just like to look nice. None of them has seen me pregnant and I want to look healthy.”
“You wouldn’t want to make sure that your boss still misses you?”
“No… NO, Bobbie. I just don’t want to give Arlene anything to gossip to the FOTS about.”
“That’s unavoidable, Sweetheart, especially after you spend the afternoon with a bunch of Witches and surrounded by body guards.”
“Sookie, those people don’t mean anything to your life now. You have moved so far beyond them it’s not even funny. Going there today is going to be “slumming it” for you. Let them be petty – you’re married, pregnant, happy, wealthy and a Queen.”
“Seriously, Sookie, fuck ’em.”
“Stop thinking of yourself as “Crazy Sookie, poor little barmaid” – you are Queen Sookie Northman, Goddess and mother of an immortal.” Bobbie laughed and Sookie laughed with her. “Seriously, Sookie, you’re above it.”
“OK, OK. You’re right – I get it. I’m getting ready to host the Sheriff’s Ball in Las Vegas wearing Marie Antoinette’s ring and they’re still going to be in Bon Temps serving pitchers of cheap beer.”
“Yeah… want a bagel?”
“Where are you getting bagels in Louisiana?”
“I have no idea but I love this stuff. I guess the salmon is a Swedish thing and Eric says fish is brain food, and blah blah…”
“He’s trying to turn you into a Swede?”
“Something like that. He wants the baby to know about Swedish culture and stuff.”
“Is he going to raise the baby to speak Swedish?”
“I don’t know? I wish he’d teach me a little.”
“He tends to speak Swedish when he’s… uh…”
“Ah – gotcha. Why don’t you learn a little and surprise him?”
“You think I could?”
“Just learn a few phrases. Fuck me, you stallion, or something like that.” Both of them cracked up.
“So if I wanted to do that, how would I go about it?”
“That’s what the laptop is for, Sweetie – we’ll do a little research and give His Majesty a big surprise.”
Sookie laughed and nodded as she finished up her salmon. She and Bobbie headed up to change and shower, and Sookie saw that Alicia had already put out the red Juicy Couture maternity dress with the big white flowers and some red sandals and matching bag. There was also a Diamonds by the Yard bracelet, earrings and necklace laying with them. Sookie was going to go back into Merlotte’s wearing more in diamonds than she used to make in a year and that didn’t count her humongous engagement ring. She knew she could choose not to wear them, but she decided they did look good with the outfit and why the hell not?
Alicia was in the room when she came out of the shower. “I heard you want help with your makeup?” She had the big makeup case – Sookie thought to herself that she really needed to find out where she kept it and what was in it.
“Yeah, Alicia, if you don’t mind. I really want to look good today. Casual, but good.”
“We can do that. Have a seat and I’ll get the hair dryer. Did you hear the door bell a few minutes ago?”
“No – who was it?”
“UPS Saturday delivery. The living room is full of boxes – some of the things you’ve been ordering, I think.”
“Did Kerik check through them? Is he here today?”
“Yes, and he opened them all, but we didn’t unpack them. He wanted to make sure about the contents. It’s mostly clothes and toys, looks like. I’ll go through it all while you’re at your lunch and we can decide what to do with it when you get home. I assume you’re going to want to take some of the clothes on your trip?”
“Yeah, I ordered stuff from Nordstrom’s express shipping so I’d have some nice casual stuff. I think you’ll like what I got.”
“That’s great – you’re all set for your formal evenings but things were a little sparse when I was trying to find stuff for you to wear during the days. You have nice things but they’re all getting too tight.”
“I know, right? I can’t believe how fast my tummy is growing. I hope some of the stuff I got for my belly arrives soon.”
“Stuff for your belly? Like to prevent stretch marks?’
“Yeah, I ordered a bunch of things like that because I’m worried that he’s growing so fast.”
“I thought you had been using that massage oil in the bathroom for that?”
“What massage oil?”
“The almond scented massage oil by the bath – that would be great for keeping your belly in shape. It’s a very good quality natural product.”
No way Sookie was going to tell Alicia what they WERE using it for! “Maybe when my makeup is done I should rub some on my tummy?”
“I think that would be a good idea. Right now is when those stretch marks you’re worried about could form. If you really want to prevent them you should probably use something three or four times a day from this point forward. Just be careful to let it soak in so you don’t get oil on your pretty dress.”
“OK, I will.” Alicia finished Sookie’s makeup and Sookie checked it in the mirror. Very nice, as usual. She was a little pale, but Alicia kind of played that up and made her look kind of like a porcelain doll with the delicate pinks she used on her.
By the time Sookie came back down stairs, everyone was ready to go so they headed for Sookie’s car. The other guard, Lewis, whistled when he saw the BMW. Bjorn laughed and said “you have no idea – it’s a tank. The whole thing is bullet-proof!”
“Yeah, help the ladies with their doors.”
Bjorn opened the door for Sookie and Lewis held the door for Bobbie, then the men got in front and Bjorn reminded the girls to buckle up. As they were pulling out Sookie noticed Lewis take a gun out of his coat and lay it between him and Bjorn.
“You guys are carrying guns?”
“Yes, your majesty,” Bjorn answered her, looking at her in the rearview mirror.
“Is that a normal thing?”
“For the Queen’s personal bodyguard, yes ma’am.”
“I guess I better get used to that, huh?”
Bobbie reached over and squeezed Sookie’s hand, nodding and mouthing “it’s OK.” Sookie nodded and sighed. ‘It’s part of being Queen,’ Sookie told herself, ‘and if you want to be with Eric, you have to accept it. He’s worth it – he’s worth all of it.’
Bjorn was watching Sookie as much as he was watching the road. He knew the guns made her nervous and he knew his more professional demeanor in front of the other guard didn’t help her feel any more comfortable. He could tell she was a little nervous about going to this place, Merlotte’s, too. Maybe he could distract her?
“Yes, Bjorn?” She sounded hopeful, like she wanted him to make it better.
“This bar we’re going to – how do you know it?”
“I used to work there.”
“You did? This is the place where you waited tables?”
Lewis looked at him surprised to find out the Queen was a barmaid and Bjorn gave him a look that said he better fucking keep his thoughts to himself.
“And the owner had a thing for you?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“How long since you’ve been there?”
“I don’t know – over a month I guess but it feels like forever. I didn’t know I was pregnant last time I was there and I haven’t been back since Eric quit for me.”
“Eric quit for you?”
“Yeah, I didn’t know what to say to Sam so Eric called him and told him my doctor said I couldn’t work there anymore. He never liked me working there in the first place.”
“I can imagine.”
“Yeah, I know – you think I should have been home with Gran.”
“Not just that – you’re his Bonded. It makes him look cheap. I’ll bet he jumped at the chance to make you quit.”
“Yeah, he did. I didn’t understand what the bond meant at the beginning and I sort of made him look bad until he explained things. I was trying to be all independent and I didn’t realize that what I did reflected on him.”
“Well, it all worked out, right? Things are great now. You’ll get to see some old friends and you get out of the house a bit – though by the time we roll into New Orleans, I’ll bet you’re dying to get back to your own bed.”
Sookie laughed. “Yeah, you’re probably right. 2 weeks is a long time to be away from home.”
Bobbie chimed in with a joke about shopping in Vegas and they all started chatting. Sookie forgot about the guns and how nervous she was going back. The time passed so quickly that she was shocked when Bjorn put the signal on to turn into Merlotte’s parking lot. They were a little early, but they went on in, Bjorn in front and Lewis in back of Sookie and Bobbie.
“Hey, girls!” Amelia already had a table staked out in a corner. Lewis and Bjorn looked around the bar, made note of the exits and scoped out the other patrons. Lewis took a station by the entrance and Bjorn sat in a booth behind Sookie, sideways so he could watch the room, tucking the black case he was carrying behind him in the booth.
Sookie looked back over her shoulder. “My shadow, huh?”
“Yes, ma’am” Bjorn nudged her a little and she laughed. That was really the only thing to do – laugh about it and have fun. Sookie hadn’t even noticed that Bobbie and Amelia were chatting away. She was very aware of Lewis and Bjorn and that Arlene and the new waitress were whispering about her. She also knew that the rednecks on the other side of the bar had to be FOTS because Arlene went over to them and then she saw them checking her out.
“Bjorn… in the corner.”
“I see them. Lewis sees them, too. You relax and have fun. I’ve got your back, hon.”
“WHAT? WHERE?” Sookie heard Sam’s voice and he came rushing out to the front of the bar and looked around. He smiled when he saw her and she smiled back.
“Sookie! It’s so good to see you!” Sam was all smiles as he headed toward her. She stood up to give him a hug and he saw her baby bump and stopped cold. His eyes were huge.
“Oh my god.”
She realized he was staring at her stomach. “Oh, yeah, it’s growing pretty fast.”
“Well, how are you, darlin’,” he leaned forward and hugged her as she patted his back.
“I’m good. OW!” Baby E kicked her HARD.
“Sookie, are you OK?” Sam was scared to death and had his hand on her shoulder.
“Oh, yeah, he just – OW!” He kicked her again, just as hard.
“He’s just a little agitated, I guess. He’s really smart, though and sweet.” She knew she was lying. The little Viking wanted to kick Sam’s ass for touching his Mommy. Only Daddy was allowed to do that.
Bjorn was watching Sookie very intently, and so were Bobbie and Amelia. They had an idea what was going on, but they wanted to let Sookie deal with it if she could.
“Well, you look really good…” Sam said, and he meant it. Sookie had never looked better. She must be really happy. Damn. “So you’re married now?”
“Yeah,” she absent-mindedly pointed to her ring and Sam’s eyes bugged out.
“That’s some ring…”
“Is Eric that rich?”
“Um, yeah, he is…”
“Is he treating you well, Sookie?”
“He treats me like a Queen.” It was out of her mouth before she realized what she was saying.
Sam got a pained look on his face. “Well, you deserve it, Sookie. You look like you’re doing really well.”
“I am, thanks.”
“These big guys are your guards, I guess?”
“Um, yeah … I have to…”
“It’s OK, darlin’, I know.” He turned to Bjorn “You might want to keep an eye on the guys in the corner.”
“We saw them. Thanks.” Bjorn replied.
“Well, I’ll let you get back to your friends, Sookie.”
“OK, Sam, thanks. It’s really nice to see you.”
He nodded and went back behind the bar and straight to his office.
Sookie sat back in the booth.
“Are you OK, hon?” Bobbie was really worried.
“Yeah, the little Viking just had a fit because somebody who wasn’t Daddy touched Mommy.”
Bjorn laughed. Sookie looked back at him. “You think that’s funny, huh?”
“He’s a Swedish warrior, alright. Nobody touches his women!” Bjorn laughed.
Sookie was going to make a smart remark but just then Octavia walked through the door.
“Octavia!” Amelia jumped up and went to hug her. Bobbie was practically jumping in her seat because she couldn’t wait to meet her. Sookie smiled and waved as she approached them.
“Octavia, you remember Sookie…”
“Yes, I do – how are you, girl?”
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“You’re better than fine from what I hear, Queenie.” The older lady winked at her and seemed to be genuinely happy for her. Just then it hit Sookie who Octavia had always reminded her of – The Oracle in the Matrix! The older African American lady who baked cookies and gave Neo the prophecy.
“Octavia, this is Bobbie James. She’s Sookie’s masseuse but she’s a Practitioner, too.”
“Hello, Bobbie. You work with herbs?”
“I do aromatherapy, mostly and mix my own oils.”
“Who’s this big blond fellow – the Queen’s guard?”
“Yes, ma’am, I’m Bjorn”
“Well, Bjorn, I know you’ve got a job to do, but so have I. We’re going to be talking about some stuff that stays in this group, alright? You don’t go talking about what you hear between us, agreed?”
‘Yes, ma’am, agreed.”
“OK, good.” Octavia slid into the booth and Amelia sat on the outside so she could jump up when she wanted too. Amelia was way too bouncy for an inside seat.
Octavia had a big shoulder bag with her and she pulled out a journal and a pen and slid it over to Sookie.
“What’s this?” Sookie was confused.
“You forgot to bring one, didn’t you? A journal to write things down in?”
“Oh – yeah, I guess I did.”
“I brought one – is it OK if I take notes?” Bobbie asked.
“Sure you can.”
“Octavia, how did you know I forgot to bring something?” Sookie was amazed.
“I’ve been studying on you, and you got a stubborn streak in you that don’t want to know. You think you can make it go away if you just ignore it. It ain’t goin’ away so you better learn not to hurt anyone with it, yourself included. Somebody’s gotta teach that baby as he grows.”
Sookie looked at the book. It was a really nice one, with a leather-like cover and a ribbon to mark your place in it. She opened the pen.
“Start with the date and time – always date what you write down. You may need to go back and do astrology or look for moon phases or patterns and you got to have date and time to do it.”
“OK, thanks…” Sookie wrote the date and Bjorn told her it was 1:13 pm so she added that.
“Now, we’re gonna talk about energy. Too many new Witches want to worry about spells and correspondences and herbs and incense. There’s a time and place for that stuff, but it ain’t every time and place. You gotta know how to work energy, or the rest of it is just props. If you work energy well enough, you don’t need help from anything else.”
“You mean spells don’t work?”
“Oh, they work, but they’re usually unnecessary. The more you understand magick, the less you’re going to want to do it. Most of the time, the Universe knows what She’s doing better than you do. You let Her work Her will, and most times things will be fine. Problem is, other people want to dabble, and sometimes you gotta send some shit back to them. The Universe will find a way to let you know when you need to work and you’ll have a good idea what to do. Now, who is your Goddess?”
“She’s from the Norse pantheon? I don’t know Her personally, but some things about the Goddess are universal. When did you see her last?”
Sookie looked puzzled for a minute. “I think I dreamt about Her this morning!”
“What did She do?”
“There was a collie… ” Sookie suddenly thought about Sam…
“He got caught in the waves and I started to go get him, but She held me back and She said I could help him but I had to do it from where I was. She said to stretch out my arms and say “come to me” and picture the dog on the shore. He was drowning so I did it and suddenly he was at my feet. She said I saved him because he let me. Sometimes I would offer my gifts but people would refuse them, and I should trust myself to know what to do.”
“Did you write that down?”
“Write it in that book right now. We’ll wait.”
Sookie hesitated but Octavia had an expectant look on her face, so Sookie started writing about her dream.
“Ok, I’m done.”
“Alright now,” Octavia picked up a pepper shaker and put it in front of her. “Put your hands on the table.”
Sookie put her hands face down and Octavia arranged them so the thumbs were touching and fingers to the side so there was an open space in between the two “L’ shapes of thumb and forefinger.
“Now, you relax and picture this pepper shaker sitting between your hands in that little basket formed by your fingers. I want you to really see it in your mind, picture it as if it were real.”
Sookie stared at her hands and nodded that she had the picture.
“Come to me” The pepper shaker moved toward her about 3 inches and everybody except Octavia jumped. Octavia pulled it back and said “do it again.”
“Come to me.” it moved about an inch.
“Pay attention to what you’re doing. Stop wondering if you can do it. A Goddess told you that you could do it. She’s not going to go out of Her way to lie to you. If She says you can, you can. Now picture this thing between your hands and get on with it – act like you mean it.”
“Come to me.” The pepper shaker was between Sookie’s hands instantly and there was a little yelp from behind the bar. Fuck – Arlene saw that.
“Never mind that nosey bitch.” Octavia told her. “World is full of them. You do what you’re here to do and don’t worry about the sheeple.” Octavia was pulling no punches.
“People who want to be led around like sheep and told what to do. You know how they end up? Mutton. Flocks get fleeced and sheep get led to slaughter. You are a completely different animal. Feel sorry for them if you want, but don’t try to be like them, don’t pay attention to what they think of you, don’t live by their rules and don’t let them keep you from doing your work.”
“What is my work?”
“Being mother to that special baby, for one thing, ruling with your King, being a wife to a Vampire King, learning to use your gifts for the good and teaching that little one to do the same – you got plenty of work. Nothing in your job description says you are supposed to try to be normal. Nothing normal about you, kid, and that’s by divine design. You’ve been given everything you need – every talent, every concept, every feeling, every connection, every resource – you need to lead your very special life. You go trying to be normal and things will go to hell pretty fast. The energy running through you is strong. You gotta give it a proper channel or it will go haywire and any damned thing could happen.”
“So I really am a Witch?”
“Yes, you are and maybe more. You might actually be a Goddess manifest. Start by accepting the Witch in you, though. That’s more than a lot of people could handle.”
“Is my baby a Witch?”
“You know he is – don’t waste my time asking what you already know.”
“I’m sorry… Eric is a little wary of that part of it.”
“Look, his Daddy will appreciate his gifts when he sees what they are. He’s not going to be a sissy in any way – that’s a big strappin’ boy you’re about to give birth to. He’s smart, he’s tough and he’s willful. It’s going to take a big tough Vampire to handle him. From what I’ve seen, that kid couldn’t have been fathered by anyone else. It’s going to take the daddy he’s got – old, tough and smart – to reign him in.”
“From what you’ve seen?”
“Yes, when Amelia told me about your situation, I threw the cards about it to see what we’re working with. Huge, Universal forces are at work around you. Don’t fight them and don’t ignore them. Learn to make the most of what you’ve got. You’ve been touched by the Goddess – that’s a special gift and a special responsibility. Being that baby’s mama is a privilege. He needs you for that just as much as he needs his particular daddy. You were both chosen.”
“Was I… I mean…”
“Don’t be shy, hon, just spit it out.”
“Was I born just for Eric, to be with him?”
“Yes and you know it. You knew it the first time you saw him.”
“So do I have free will?”
“Everyone does. You had to agree to take the role for you to have it. Somewhere, somehow, you chose him, too. You could walk away from it right now if you want, but you won’t be happy with the result.”
“Eric said it might be dangerous to question a gift like the baby…”
“He’s what? A thousand years old? I’d learn to listen to him, if I were you. You don’t get to be that old if you don’t know how the world works.”
“Is he right about everything, though, all the time?”
“Not all the time, but most of it. He knows what you need to do to stay alive so you don’t give him a hard time when he tries to protect you. He’s got nothing but love for you and this baby. When he tells you to do something in a life or death situation, you do it without thinking.”
“OK, so I’m…a Witch. What does that mean?”
“It means you are intimately connected to Nature and the Living Goddess. The religion of Witches is called Wicce, capital w-i-c-c-e. If you see someone spelling it with an ‘a’ be cautious because a lot of them are dualists. Their rites are heavily influenced by patriarchal contamination and they divide energy in artificial ways. They turn everything into a polarity, and that creates conflict and division instead of reintegrating our energies to the Prime Source that is Goddess. They think that the Universe is equally male and female, and this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of Goddess. Wicce is a women’s religion and focuses on the one Living Goddess of which we are all a part. She has many facets and functions and names and faces, but you need to always keep the whole in mind no matter which part you are dealing with. Modern people have lost their connection to the Whole, so they’re only partially alive.”
“What is it that they…’fundamentally misunderstand?'”
“That life is Female. That the female is always the larger part in Nature, and always evolves first. That female existed before male developed and maleness is a variation of the female. That simple misunderstanding, thinking that things are 50-50, or should be, has people all over this planet thinking women are less than they are, keeping women enslaved for the profit of a few men in power. Science backs this up, but it gets buried, denigrated, shouted down. Ask your Viking about his view of the Goddess some time. My guess is you’ll find a much more positive view than you’d expect. He’s got to have a healthy relationship with the Goddess for any of this to happen.”
“He kind of thinks magick is ‘women’s work.'”
“It is – it’s a women’s religion. Men can try, but they’ll never be as connected to it as directly as women are. The changes that make them men instead of women make their connections less efficient, their perceptions are altered because the brain works differently, they’re an extra step away from the Whole. They’re still a part of the whole, but a weaker part with a more unreliable connection. It’s like a first cousin and a first cousin once removed. Men are removed from Her an extra step by the process that makes them men.”
“That’s so backwards from everything I was ever taught.”
“Yep, and that’s no accident. Part of controlling women is keeping them out of touch with their own power and with each other. Western culture was specifically manipulated to keep women out of power, under control of husbands, churches, and governments. We call the Greeks and Romans ancient and we’re taught that Christianity, or at least Judaism, was the beginning of civilization, when it was really the end of it. Amelia will give you a list of books to read, but write these few down now: The First Sex, by Elizabeth Gould Davis; When God was a Woman by Merlin Stone; The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G. Walker. Get those books and read them first. That first book is out of print – a lot of our books are, that’s another way to keep us down – and there’s a different book with the same name but a different author so make sure you get the right one. These books are about the history of women and the violent rise of patriarchy – some call it Herstory, and that word is in the dictionary now. That’s a lot of reading but just those three books have a lot of valuable information in them.”
“OK, see that red head over there by the pool table? She told me Wicca was only 50 years old…”
“That’s bullshit. A man published a book using the word about 50 years ago and started a modern movement, but it was full of mistakes mixed in with ancient truths and it was heavily influenced by the ceremonial magick that was popularized by Aleister Crowley and a few others. That stuff is Hebrew at it’s source, and so is patriarchy. Wicce is older than people, if you understand what it is. Don’t get the religion confused with the fashion. Goddess has always been here, but we weren’t all smart enough to see Her or work with Her. The Oppressors did a good job of cutting us off from our Source. Indigenous people held onto the old ways in some pockets, and each culture has a different word for it. Some groups like African slaves managed to put together a bastardized form of magick using the symbols and materials available to them, but if you could go back far enough, no matter where you are, you get back to the Great Mother Goddess. 6,000 years of propaganda by a radical patriarchal death cult has created the mess we’re in, and the only solution left for us is Goddess. Your Vampire was there to see the shift away from Goddess toward the war god. Have you ever talked to him about what he saw? What was lost? How things changed?”
“No, I never have. He doesn’t talk much about the past, though I remember him saying something about wanting to tell stories of his long life to our son.”
“Ask him to tell you the stories, too. He probably wants to tell you but if you’ve never shown an interest he doesn’t want to bore you. He’s awfully focused on making you happy.”
“Sorry to interrupt, ladies, but have any of you noticed no one has taken your order yet.” Bjorn finally found a place to interrupt. He had been watching Arlene riling up the FOTS in the corner and noticed she was keeping the other girl from covering them, too.
“Hey – that’s right! We’ve been talking a long time and no waitress has been over to us.” Sookie looked around and saw Sam at the cooler. “Hey, Sam?”
Sam nodded at her and walked over to the table. “What can I do for you ladies?’
“You know, nobody took our order yet.”
“What? You’ve been here all this time and no one waited on you?”
“Well, this is Arlene’s table, so I guess that’s not surprising. Let me tell Sheila to get over here and take your orders. I’m really sorry about this, ladies.”
“Sheila – you want to wait on these people, please? Arlene, I’d like to see you in my office.”
Sheila looked scared, but she got her order pad out and put a fake smile on her face.
“Hi, what can I get you all?” Octavia had a cheeseburger, Amelia a big chef salad, Bobbie the shrimp basket and Sookie ordered two fish sandwiches without the bun and they got a pitcher of tea for the table. Bjorn ordered an iced tea, too.
“Brain food, Sookie?” Amelia smiled at her.
“Yeah, the menu doesn’t have much on it that I’m supposed to eat but I figure a couple of fish fillets were the closest thing I could get. Eric wants me to eat a lot of fish.”
“Your Vampire knows about nutrition?” Octavia asked. “That’s unusual.”
“He’s been doing research on the Internet about babies and pregnancy. He has me eating a lot of salmon and the doctor wants me eating red meat but not ground beef.”
Bjorn’s watch buzzed. “Sorry your majesty, it’s time for a drink and a BP check.”
“Oh, OK, I guess.” Bjorn opened his black case and handed Sookie an RM which she drank as he unwound the blood pressure cuff. He was pumping it up when Sheila came back with the pitcher of sweet tea and five glasses.
“You feeling ok, Miss?” Sheila asked. She didn’t know Sookie and Arlene had only said bad things about her, but she seemed really sweet and she just couldn’t believe she was as depraved as Arlene made her out to be.
“I’m having some blood pressure issues since I’m pregnant, and I have to have special nutritional supplements. That’s what this is,” she pointed to the bottle of RM.
“Oh, yeah, my cousin had blood pressure problems when she was pregnant. Her mother died from that.”
That got Sookie’s attention. “Died? From high blood pressure?”
“Yeah, her and the baby both. It was really sad. Pre-eclampsia they called it.”
“Bjorn, have you heard of that?” Maybe they finally had Sookie’s attention.
“Yes, ma’am, I have. That’s why we’re all giving you such a hard time about this.”
“Sookie, you didn’t tell me you were having problems,” Amelia said, surprised.
“It’s been really high and they’re trying to get her to stay in bed until her trip and giving her sedatives but she’s fighting the doctor on it.” Bobbie explained.
“You supposed to be in bed, girl?” Octavia was not happy about this.
“Well, yeah, but I needed to get out of the house.”
“She’s going on a trip to Las Vegas and New Orleans for over 2 weeks where she’s hosting 2 major events and the doctor wants her to rest up, but she won’t listen.” Bjorn told on her. Ratfink!
“Now you listen to me, girl. Things can still go wrong.” Octavia wasn’t going to hear any nonsense about needing to get out of the house. “You need to be smart about things. You know who’s working for you, but you don’t know who might be working against you. You owe it to that baby to give him he best care you possibly can and if that means staying in bed, then that’s what you do.”
“I have an idea about that for when we travel.” Bobbie started very cautiously because she knew Sookie wouldn’t like the idea she was about to propose. “I think that when Sookie is not at one of the formal events, she should use a wheel chair to keep her off her feet.”
“I agree.” Bjorn said. What a surprise, Sookie thought.
“I’m not an invalid. I’m taking my medication. Other than getting from place to place and the two formal events. I don’t have that much I have to do.”
“Aren’t we planning to go through that whole palace and decide what to keep and what to sell?” Bobbie reminded her.
“That sounds like a lot of work to me, girl. A wheelchair so you spend most of the time off your feet is a good idea.” Octavia agreed with Bobbie and Bjorn.
“It seems extreme to me…” Sookie began.
“Why don’t we ask Dr. Ludwig about it? If it’s too much, she’ll say so, if it’s not, we’ll roll with it.” Bjorn liked the wheelchair idea and he was pretty confidant Ludwig would agree with him. “Sookie, let me use your phone and I’ll call her.”
“Well…” Sookie was trying to come up with a way out of this, but the others encouraged her to give Bjorn her phone so she did.
Bjorn found Ludwig’s number and called her. Sheila came with their order while he was on the phone. He had to concentrate on what Ludwig was saying, but he and Lewis were also very aware of the rednecks in the corner, who were milling around the pool table but not actually playing. The two of them did pick up pool cues, though.
Ludwig agreed with the wheel chair idea and told them to use one while they traveled, too, so she’d stay off her feet. Bjorn thanked her and handed Sookie her phone, then stood beside her and crossed his arms. Lewis crossed his arms, too, the two of them sending a not so subtle message that if anyone even looks the wrong way at Sookie they’re going to fuck them up royally. Arlene was over whispering to the men, and Bjorn looked at Sam, got his attention and nodded toward Arlene and the rednecks. Bjorn had picked up that Sam was a Shifter and he knew Sam probably knew he and Lewis were Weres because human guards wouldn’t be strong enough to defend a Vampire Queen adequately even against human attackers.
“Arlene – can I see you in back for a minute?” Sam did not want to see his bar get busted up and he certainly wouldn’t tolerate any threat to Sookie.
“I was just seeing if they wanted anything else…”
She made a motion for them to cool it and she went behind the bar. Sam took her in the back and made his position crystal clear: “If there’s any trouble for Sookie or anyone with her on these premises, you’re fired. If you want to keep your job here, you’d better send your friends on their way. I guarantee they’ll be dead if they try to take on those guards she has with her. They won’t just bust your guys up, they’ll kill them. Sookie’s new husband is a powerful man and people who cross him die.”
Unfortunately, while Sam was talking to Arlene, her friends made the mistake of confronting Bjorn. Distinguishable only by the color of their flannel shirts, two men in John Deere hats walked over to Bjorn with pool cues in their hands.
“You with these ladies?”
“Yes.” Bjorn wasn’t going to bait them, but he was definitely going to enjoy kicking their asses when they crossed the line.
“Are you sure they’re ladies? Somebody said that little blonde is some Vampire’s whore and that baby she’s carrying ain’t human.”
“Neither Mrs. Northman nor her baby are of any concern to you, but you might want to remember her husband’s name. Eric Northman is not a man to take threats lightly and he’ll kill anyone who threatens his family.”
Bobbie was holding Sookie’s hand, Sookie was praying to Freyja and Amelia and Octavia reached across the table and put their hands on top of Sookie’s. They were only asking to be left in peace so they could finish their lunch and their talk. The fifth member of their little circle/circuit had different ideas.
“Are you Eric Northman?”
“No, I just work for him. If he were here, you would already be dead for approaching his new wife.” Lewis was slowly moving into place behind the men.
“Why ain’t he here? Is he afraid of the sunlight?” The two idiots laughed as if that was the funniest thing they’d ever said.
Sam came back out. “Hey, boys, now we don’t want no trouble in here.” Sookie looked at Sam and shook her head – she didn’t want him to get hurt. Sam called the police because he knew this was going to be bad.
“He’s not afraid of anything, and neither am I.” Bjorn smiled at them.
“Is that little bitch married to a Vampire or not?”
“You will NOT refer to her in that manner – do you understand me?”
Redneck number two started to swing his cue stick, but he used the little end of the stick so it broke against Bjorn’s arm and he was off balance when Bjorn’s fist broke his sternum. The first redneck reached for Sookie as his buddy went down but before Lewis or Bjorn could touch him he was blasted across the room and landed on the pool table, breaking one of the supports so that it dumped him on the floor.
“AAHHHH – wings! Help Ahhhhhhhhhhh!” Number one was screaming about wings, and Sookie knew what that meant. She looked Octavia and nodded – they all knew the baby and/or Freyja caused this. The second man was still where he fell, struggling for breath. Arlene went back to help the guy who broke the pool table. Apparently he was the one she was sweet on this week.
Lewis walked over to Bjorn. “What the hell hit that guy?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Is the Queen a Witch?”
“Maybe, but that wasn’t her – it was her baby.”
“Her baby did that? You’re shittin’ me?”
“No, he’s special – he’s touched by a Goddess.”
“That’s why a Vamp was able to have a baby….” He looked at Sookie with wide eyes. He knew there had to be a strange story behind all of this but he didn’t expect it to include a divine child.
“Right.” They both looked up as they heard sirens getting close.
Andy Bellefleur came through the door with his gun drawn. “What in hell is going on in here?”
Sam stepped forward, “these two morons were harassing my customers and one of them swung a cue stick at this man and he defended himself.”
‘What’s wrong with the one back there?”
“He fell and broke the pool table – seems to be having some kind of fit. I already called an ambulance for both of them.” Sam was good at lying about bar fights – he’d had lots of practice.
“They were bothering these ladies?” Andy was slow to catch on, as usual.
“Yes, you know Amelia and Sookie, and this is Octavia – I don’t know the other lady.”
“I’m Bobbie James, I’m Sookie’s doula.”
“I’m sort of a Mother’s helper.”
“Mother? Sookie?” Sookie stood up and he saw for the first time that she was pregnant. “What did you do?”
“I got married and I’m having a baby, Andy.”
“She’s having some kind of demon! You bitch!” Arlene came out of the corner like a bat out of hell headed straight for Sookie, but Bjorn caught her around the waist and held her back.
“Arlene! Calm down, now! What’s the matter with you?” Andy really didn’t need this today.
“She’s married to a big old Vampire and having some kind of devil baby!”
“Did you marry Vampire Bill, Sookie?”
“Oh, no, he’s seeing Bobbie. I married Eric Northman.”
“Northman – owns a club in Shreveport?”
“Among other things, yeah.”
“These guys didn’t hurt you, did they, Sookie?” Andy was more worried about Sookie than about these two yahoos.
“They would have, but…”
“I stepped in between them when they approached the table. One of them swung a pool cue at me without provocation, and I defended myself.” Arlene was kicking and cussing, trying to get away from him and at Sookie.
“You devil bitch! You’ll burn in hell!”
“You pathetic bigot!” Sookie was getting sick of Arlene. “If I weren’t pregnant I’d send you to hell right now!” Sookie started to get up but Bobbie stopped her.
“Arlene, shut up! And who are you?” Andy wasn’t going to have a cat fight on top of everything else!
“I’m Mrs. Northman’s driver and body guard.”
“Body guard? Why would Sookie need a body guard?”
“Her husband is a wealthy and powerful Vampire. He has many rivals and enemies. He wants to be sure that his wife and his son are safe from people like this.” Bjorn pointed to the guy on the floor.
“How do I know you and your friend here didn’t beat these guys half to death?”
“Andy, we all saw what happened. These guys were listening to Arlene’s nonsense about Sookie’s new husband and they tried to start trouble. You can’t blame a guy for defending himself. All he did was stand there – they walked up to him and started insulting Sookie, then that one there swung a pool cue at him. ” At this point, Sam just wanted them all to leave.
“Somebody call an ambulance?” An EMT was at the door.
“Over here,” Andy called them, “There are two of them”
The EMT called behind him, “this is the place. We got 2 down.”
“So everybody here agrees that they approached Sookie and they swung first?” Sounded good to Andy – no paperwork that way.
“Yes.” everyone nodded in unison.
“Sookie, you want to file charges against them for a hate crime? Vampires are protected now by law, and so are their families.”
“No, Andy, I think they learned their lesson. As long as they can’t bother us again, I’m fine.”
The guy with the cracked sternum was taken out on a stretcher, then they helped the other guy, who was still babbling about wings, walk out to the ambulance.
“Arlene, you can go with your friends if you want – I’m sending you home and docking your pay for today anyway.”
“Fine!” Arlene huffed into Sam’s office and came out with her orange purse and her pink sunglasses. She didn’t speak to anyone as she was on her way out.
Sam was picking up some chairs that were knocked over then he went over to look at the damage to the pool table.
“Sam?” Sookie walked up behind him, “do you want me to buy you a new pool table?”
“Oh, no, darlin’, my insurance will cover that. If I make anybody pay for it, it will be Arlene and her friends. None of this was your fault. I don’t want you to feel like you can’t come in here and relax whenever you want. I’m so sorry about what Arlene did – there’s no excuse for her behavior.”
“Sam,” Amelia came over, too, “do you want me to finish up Arlene’s shift. I hate to leave Sheila covering the whole bar by herself.”
“I don’t want to ruin your visit with your friends, Amelia.”
“It won’t ruin anything. It’s quiet today and I can visit in between tables. I don’t mind a bit. Octavia and Sookie will still be able to visit and that was the main objective today.”
“Well, then, go ahead and clock in and you can finish up for Arlene. Thanks, Amelia.”
“No problem, Sam. Sookie, you and Octavia finish your visit. I think she’ll have a few more things to say given what just happened.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.” Sookie turned and went back to the booth while Amelia went to the back with Sam to lock up her wallet and put her on the schedule. Sam was seriously considering if he wanted Arlene to work there anymore. She was a fair waitress but she was bigoted against Supes and she had started drawing in these FOTS terrorists – and that’s exactly what they were.
Sookie sat back in the booth and Bjorn broke out the blood pressure cuff again. It was high – higher than it was earlier. Bjorn made her go ahead and take her sedative now. When Sookie, Bobbie and Octavia were all settled again, and Bjorn and Lewis were back at their posts, Octavia got serious.
“So how long you known that baby had that kind of power, girl?”
“Well, he did something like that in Las Vegas to Felipe de Castro when he touched me and I was bleeding. Freyja told me then it was the baby working blood magick and I could, too. I’m not bleeding this time, though.”
“Then he’s getting stronger. Any idea what the deal was with that guy seeing wings?”
“Felipe said the same thing – it drove him insane. Freyja is known for having a cape of feathers that turns Her into a falcon – a bird of prey. The baby seems to be able to sic some kind of falcon on people who try to harm me, or him, or something.”
“Well, we won’t know for sure what’s up until you give birth – some of this magick might be coming from you, some from him, some from the Goddess, or it might all be that baby. For right now, you and the baby constitute a clear and direct channel for Freyja’s power. Anybody that messes with you is in serious trouble. That’s good, as long as the baby knows what’s trouble and what ain’t. How does he react when you have sex – sometimes babies think mommy is being hurt…’
“Oh, he practically cheers Eric on. He loves it when we tickle each other or have wild sex. He thought it was funny when Eric threw me in the pool the other night. Eric is his hero.”
“He can tell Eric from other people?”
“Oh, yeah – if Eric is around he starts sending Fight! Fight! He sends other stuff like Love and Proud – Eric spends time every night sending Love and Pride to him – but mostly, Daddy equals kicking ass to him. When he killed Victor Madden, Baby E practically kicked my insides to hamburger. I bit my lip until it bled trying to keep from screaming because so much was going on and I didn’t want to distract Eric.”
“Can he recognize anybody else?”
“Bobbie – he associates her with Soothing because she gives us massages.” Bobbie smiled at that. She considered it an honor that the baby knew her already.
“OK, so we got a baby, ain’t even born yet, that can call down the wrath of the Goddess, knows his Daddy and his masseuse, and let’s mommy know it when he thinks somebody is touching her inappropriately?”
“Right, and he tells me when he needs to eat and what he likes for me to eat.”
“Tell me more about that.”
“Well, he can send WANT when he wants me to drink a True Blood, or now an RM. He likes it when I eat Salmon and Steak Tartare. He doesn’t like orange juice and I think he gets a little seasick when I float in the pool.”
“I can’t wait to see this boy. He’s going to start talking early, I bet and he’s going to be walking and running in no time. We’re going to have to test you two separately after he’s born. That telekinesis you did earlier might be your gift or might be his, or you might both have it. What is Eric’s special Vampire gift?”
“Well, he can fly…”
“What are you going to do with a baby that can fly?”
“You don’t really think the baby will be able to do that, do you? At least not until he’s older?”
“I don’t know, and neither do you. I’ve done some research and I can’t find any record anywhere of a Vampire baby or a Vampire/Faerie hybrid. There must have been one at some point, but there’s nothing written anywhere. You’re seeing Dr. Ludwig, though? She’s good. What does she say about him?”
“That he’ll be a handful, have some qualities from Eric and some from me, but they don’t know much else.
“Does she say if he’s going to be Vampire or Fae?”
“She’s not sure. Eric is convinced he’ll be a Vampire. My great grandfather thinks he’ll be a Fae with a taste for blood. Of course, they all say it’s possible he’ll be human with no powers at all.”
“You can cross that last one off your list, sweetheart. That baby’s got powers. We just need to know which ones. My money says Daddy knows that baby pretty well already – I’ll be surprised if he’s not a Vamp. Did they warn you to avoid iron?”
“Yes, they even make sure the supplements I drink don’t have iron in them, just in case.”
“You said Eric sends to the baby – do you?”
“Oh, yeah, we’re in pretty much constant contact when he’s awake now. He’s asleep right now. He was pretty excited when the fight went down but then he got really tired.”
“All of us are going to be tired. He took energy from the four of us – you, me, Bobbie and Amelia – and he threw that man across the room. That was big magick for a little fellow like him. I wonder what he could do if we hadn’t been holding hands, though. You said last time you were bleeding? Between your legs?”
“And Felipe touched your blood?”
“Right and it threw him across the room, but not as far. The falcon attack went on until he di…” Sookie caught herself, but Octavia caught it.
“Don’t worry, girl, I already got a good idea what happened to Felipe and the Council must, too, since they were so quick to pronounce him dead. They couldn’t wait to get your Vampire into place – they moved their schedule on that way up once they found out you actually got pregnant.”
“You know about the Council’s involvement?”
“We keep abreast of these things. Witches rarely participate actively, though there is occasionally an High Priestess who will mediate informally for Covens and Solitaries. Pagans don’t really organize, but we will occasionally cooperate for the greater good.”
“Why don’t you… I guess I mean ‘we’… organize?”
“It’s just not who we are. We don’t like being told what to do, and as long as you ain’t stepping on our toes, we don’t care how the Cowans live their lives.”
“Non-Pagans, Christians, patriarchists – non-practitioners of any kind. We’re Craft. They’re Cowans.”
“Don’t I have to be initiated?”
“Only if you want to. Initiations last through multiple lifetimes. You been a Witch before, so you don’t need a ceremony unless you want one.”
“Like with the bond? Eric said the bond was more than being married, but we got married because I wanted to for the baby.”
“So all Witches are Pagans?”
“There are as many kinds of Witch as there are Witches. Sociology departments in human Universities have tried to study us but it’s impossible. There’s not a single precept that all Pagans will agree on. The only thing they can say for sure is that Pagans tend to read more than most people, which makes sense, because that’s been almost the only way to find the Craft over the years. You allowed to drink red wine, girl?”
“Yes, she is…” Bobbie chimed in. She was hanging on Octavia’s every word.
“Amelia?” Octavia called her.
“What can I get you, hon?”
“Bring the four of us women a glass of red wine.”
“So as I was saying, there are all kinds of Witches, all kinds of Pagans, I’ve heard people claim to be Christian Witches which is an oxymoron – you might be a follower of Jesus and be Pagan, but you can’t be what passes for Christian and be Pagan. It just don’t work that way. There are Druids and Wizards, and Wiccans and Asatru and Heathens… so many ways but they all lead back to the Goddess. Even Judaism, Christianity and Islam got Goddesses at their root but they try to deny it. If you’re human, at some point, you go back to Goddess, no matter what you call Her, how you define Her, or even if you get Her gender wrong. She knows a good person from their works, and we are a part of Her so She knows what’s in our hearts because they’re Her hearts, too.”
“Pagans don’t believe in hell, or sin, right?” Sookie was trying to piece everything she’d heard about this all together, but it wasn’t easy when there were no absolutes.
“Right. Nowadays they use the word Karma, but it’s really the Three-fold Law of Return. You get back what you send out. It might not always be obvious that that’s what is happening because it can play out through multiple lifetimes. A lot of initiations include a specific request that the Witch be able to see the results of her magick, though, so you know if you’re on track or if your energy is doing what you’ve directed it to. That creates what I call “instant Karma” and it affects everyone around the Witch, too.”
“What do you mean?” Sookie was lost now.
“You know that what goes around comes around – the Three-fold Law, right? Well, when a Witch is involved and she has asked for her magick to be visible to her, any energy sent toward her gets accelerated and amplified, so that energy comes around harder and faster. Witches can sometimes tell who’s working against them just by seeing what happens to them. Witches have strong connections to the basic energies of life and they do work that makes that energy flow freely. Witches are only dangerous if you are dangerous to them. Endanger a Witch, endanger yourself. The Witch didn’t do it – you just made the mistake of getting up against her energy with intent to harm.”
“Does it work the other way? Like if you have good intentions toward a Witch, that good comes back to you, too?”
“Yeah, of course. Energy just is – works the same way no matter how you decide to define it.”
Amelia came over with four glasses of wine and sat next to Octavia. “Here you go, girls.”
“Now, you all repeat after me: Merry Met”
“Now Merry Part,”
“Now Merry Part,”
“’til Merry Meet Again.”
“”til Merry Meet Again.”
“OK, that’s the end of this meeting. I don’t know if we want to be a Coven exactly, but the four of us are going to do work together around this baby. Drink up!”
They all clinked glasses and drank the wine down. Sookie’s phone rang.
“Holy shit – it’s Eric! What time is it?”
“Almost 7 – we’ve been here for hours, hon.” Bobbie hadn’t noticed the time, either.
Sookie opened her phone. “Hi, Sweetie.”
“Sookie, where are you? Why are you not in bed?”
“Amelia called and invited me and Bobbie to have lunch with her and Octavia and talk about Witch stuff.”
“Where ARE you, Sookie?”
“We’re at Merlotte’s.”
“And why does a Detective Bellefleur want you to know that you can still press charges about a hate crime for the next 48 hours.”
“Well, there was a little dust up with some FOTS guys…”
“Is Anderson there?”
“Put him on, please.”
“He wants to talk to you, Bjorn.” She mouthed SORRY as she handed him the phone.
“Yes, your majesty?”
“My wife was attacked?”
“Not exactly, your highness. One of the waitresses had two friends here who were apparently FOTS. They tried to approach the Queen, but I stepped in. One of them swung a pool cue at me, and I’m pretty sure I broke his sternum. The other tried to grab her, but the baby shocked him across the room.”
“The baby threw an FOTS across the room?”
“Apparently. The four Witch-… I mean, women… were holding hands and asking for peace and we think that your son used their combined energy on the man when he touched the Queen.”
“Were there not two guards there?”
“Yes, sire, Lewis Cantor was with me.”
“Yet a member of the FOTS was able to touch my wife?”
“I’ll need to speak to Vincent about this. He should have been in place before they got that close to her.”
“Yes, your majesty, I agree.”
“Has she concluded her visit?”
“They’re just wrapping up, sire.”
“I want her home immediately. I’m not going to leave for Fangtasia until I see her.”
“Yes, sire, we are on our way.”
CLICK. Eric hung up. Bjorn closed the phone and handed it back to Sookie.
“He didn’t want to say goodbye?”
“He wants you home a.s.a.p.”
“He’s not mad at me, is he?”
“I think he’s concerned. That detective called the house and scared the shit out of him and he wants to see for himself that you are unharmed.”
“Amelia and I will be coming for a visit when you get back from your trip, girl. Read those books and learn about energy. You’ll need to know how to work it since the little one already can.” Octavia stood up and hugged Sookie, “You take care of that baby now – the world must need him bad to go to all this trouble to get him here.”
“I will. Thank you.”
Amelia hugged Sookie and Bobbie told Octavia it was nice to meet her. Amelia and Bobbie hugged and Sookie waved goodbye to Sam and Sheila, thanking them for everything. Sookie paid for everyone’s lunch, leaving Sheila a huge tip and Bjorn and Lewis put Sookie and Bobbie in the car and headed out.
“Bjorn, you’re driving faster than you did earlier.” Sookie was a little nervous that he was driving too fast.
“Yes, ma’am. Not so fast as to be dangerous, of course, but the King won’t leave for Fangtasia until he sees you.”
“I don’t know why he didn’t just go and I’d be home when he got there.”
“I think he had reason to be upset, your highness. You were supposed to be safe in bed and instead you’re out, he doesn’t know where and the police call him about a hate crime against you. We’re lucky he didn’t come here and kick all our asses.”
“Well, I guess if you put it that way…” Sookie laughed, and so did Bobbie. Bjorn couldn’t really laugh about it because he was pretty sure Lewis would get fired for letting those guys get too close to Sookie, but he did smile. He was sure Eric had been frantic – he would have been – and he knew if it were his pregnant wife he’d need to see her for himself before he could even consider getting on with his night. Sookie and Bobbie talked about the books Octavia recommended, and Bobbie knew she had at least one of them so she would find it and let Sookie get started on it.
Eric was trying not to freak out in front of Margaret and Alicia, but they knew he was tense because there had been some sort of incident while Sookie was out – Alicia had answered the phone when Detective Bellefleur called – and they saw genuine panic in Eric’s face for the first time. They could tell by his tone when he was speaking to Bjorn that he was not happy with what had happened. He paced back and forth by the pool for a while, then he wondered if Sookie had eaten, so he called her.
“Sookie, I forgot to ask if you have eaten dinner yet?”
“Uh, no, we had a little lunch a couple of hours ago but I should have something when I get home, I guess.”
“What would you like? Margaret is still here – I’m sure she’ll make whatever you want.”
“I could really get into a rare steak and a baked potato and a salad. Bobbie what do you want to eat?”
“That sounds good to me.”
“Sounds good to me, too.”
“OK, Eric, I guess all three of us would like that. Eric?”
“Yes, my Lover?”
“Are you mad at me?”
“No, my Angel, I am not mad at you, but I will feel better when I know you are safely home and you can tell me yourself what happened.”
“OK, well, we should be there pretty soon.”
“Yes, I’ll have Margaret start on your dinner. I think Alicia is waiting for you to go through some packages in the living room, too.”
“Oh, I totally forgot about that! OK, yeah, when I get there… can I eat first or does Alicia need to go home?”
Eric spoke to Alicia then came back “She needs to make preparations for our trip, so she will go through the packages with you in the morning if that is alright?”
“Oh, OK – tell her I’m sorry and I’ll see her tomorrow then.”
“Alright, my Angel, we will be waiting for you.”
“Bye, Sweetie.” Sookie turned her attention to Bobbie, “He’s trying not to sound angry, but he’s freaking out, I can tell.”
“Well, honey, we did kind of dodge a bullet today. What if those guys had been armed with something other than pool cues? Or there had been more of them? That would have gotten much uglier if Baby E hadn’t shocked that guy’s ass across the room.” Bobbie laughed but she was serious, too.
“That’s true, I guess. This will just reinforce it to Eric that I shouldn’t be out alone.”
“I hope it reinforces that to you, Sookie,” Bjorn spoke up. “What if you and Bobbie had been alone? If they were brave enough to walk up to me knowing you had two guards there, I hate to think what they’d have done if it was just you and Bobbie. I think we’re going to double your guard for this trip. Too much can go wrong while you’re pregnant. I know how Eric feels – I’d be losing my mind if my pregnant wife had been threatened by a couple of hate-mongering rednecks and I didn’t even know she was out of the house. He’s got every right to be mad at me, too. I should have insisted you be home before he got up, especially after what happened.”
“He’s probably going to fire me.” Lewis added.
“Why would he do that? I’m OK?” Sookie still didn’t get it.
“They actually got close enough to touch you, Sookie. That should never have happened.” Bjorn wasn’t too impressed with Lewis either. He needed to make damned sure they had better help on this trip.
“Yeah, but it worked out OK.”
“This time – what if the baby had been asleep? We don’t know if he could have done that if the 4 of you weren’t holding hands, either. I should have run those guys out of there when I saw that redhead riling them up. What the fuck was up her ass, anyway?”
“She used to be my friend but she decided Vampires were scary and unnatural and against god and then she got hooked up with the FOTS. I should know better, too, because I’ve had other run-ins with the FOTS and nearly got killed more than once.”
“That’s right – I knew that, damn it! No wonder Eric is out of his mind.”
Eric went back into the kitchen. “Margaret, could you fix dinner for Sookie, Bjorn and Bobbie? Sookie asked for steak, baked potato and salad.”
“Of course, Mr. Northman, I’ll be happy to. The Mrs. is alright, isn’t she?”
“Yes, she’s fine, she just had a little scare. It’s good that Bjorn was with her.”
“Was there really trouble?” Alicia had to ask – it was making her crazy.
“Some men from the FOTS apparently tried to start trouble but they were stopped. I believe they are both in the hospital.”
“Oh my!” “Oh, no!” Margaret and Alicia reacted together.
“Sookie was not hurt, fortunately, but one of the guards didn’t do his job and one of them was actually able to grab at her. That simply cannot happen, especially while she is pregnant.”
“No, of course not.”
“And, this time they were not armed. I need to have confidence that the guards can handle these situations when Sookie is out in New Orleans or Las Vegas. This was just a couple of local rednecks who happened to be in the same place at the same time. People know that Sookie and I will be in Vegas and New Orleans and that could bring better trained and more determined threats.”
“Threats to what?” Bill was finally up and dressed.
“To Sookie and my child. She and Bobbie met Amelia and her teacher at Merlotte’s today and were accosted by two FOTS members.”
Now Bill was panicked. “Was anyone hurt?”
“The two FOTS members are hospitalized, but one of them got close enough to Sookie to actually touch her.”
“That’s absolutely unacceptable.” Bill wasn’t happy about this either, both for Sookie and Bobbie’s sake.
“Yes, it is. These men were only armed with pool cues. What if…”
“Eric, are you sure you don’t want to double your guard for this trip?”
“I was just thinking about that. I think until we see what we’re dealing with in terms of crowds, we should err on the side of caution. They’re home.” Eric could hear the car pulling into the driveway and he and Bill were out front immediately. Bjorn stopped in front of the garage and let the girls get out before he pulled into the garage.
Eric had Sookie in his arms immediately. Bill was holding Bobbie soon after.
“Eric, I’m OK, really.”
He didn’t say anything, he just held onto her hard. She could feel through the bond that he was terrified and relieved.
Sookie laughed and Eric leaned back enough to put his hand on her belly. “At least someone was looking out for his Mother. Good job, my boy, Daddy is very proud of you.” Feeling the baby kick under his hand grounded him immediately. His mood was lightening a little now that they were home. His family was safe now and he could relax.
“Your dinner is probably ready, my Angel, let’s go inside.”
Eric and Sookie led the way back into the house, Bobbie, Bill and Bjorn right behind them. Lewis thought he’d make himself scarce. If he was going to get fired, they could do it over the phone. He wasn’t going to face that big fucking Vampire if he didn’t have to.
Margaret was serving up dinner when they all got into the kitchen. “Nice to see you all home, Missus!”
“Thanks, Margaret. This all looks yummy!”
“You just get comfortable and I’ll bring some salad dressing and butter. Do you want steak sauce?”
“No, just steak for me – I don’t know about Bobbie or Bjorn.”
“I like steak sauce if it’s not too much trouble,” Bjorn said.
Bobbie was so focused on Bill she didn’t hear the question, but the sauce was on the table if she wanted it.
Sookie was cutting into her steak as Margaret served Bill and Eric their bloods. Alicia came in to say good night.
“Mrs. Northman, do you need me to stay for anything tonight?”
“Oh, no, Alicia, I’m sorry you had to stay so late. Thanks for opening those boxes for me.”
“That’s no trouble. It’s all out in the living room so you can see what you got and tomorrow we’ll get you packed for our trip. I’ll see you at 7 am.”
Eric’s phone rang. “I should take this. I’ll be right back.”
Eric walked into the den. “Pam? Why are you home so soon?”
“Ugh – I got a little bored with Sookie’s big brother so we came home a day early.”
“You didn’t enjoy your trip?”
“Oh, we had a fine time, but it was just enough at one point. I wanted to be back here. I don’t know why, I just did.”
“Alright. What are your plans tonight?”
“Jason and I are going to Fangtasia, and he’ll go home from there. Are you still coming in?”
“I’d like to come in just for a bit to see you, but I’d rather not stay long. Sookie had a little problem today and I don’t want to be away from her too long.”
“I’ll tell you all about it when I get there. See you in an hour. I am glad you are back, Pam.”
“Yes, Master. Me, too.”
Eric came back into the kitchen where everyone was eating and talking. Margaret was getting ready to leave and Bobbie promised to put the dishes in the dishwasher.
“Good night, Margaret – thank you for everything.”
“My pleasure, sir – and don’t let them forget that there’s German Chocolate Cake for dessert.”
“Ooohhh! There is!” Sookie was happy to hear that. “Thanks, Margaret.”
Once Margaret was gone, Eric got serious. “Now, I want a detailed account of what happened today before anyone does anything else.”
Sookie barely took a breath as she recounted the day’s events: “OK, Amelia called me this morning and said that Octavia was coming for a visit and Bobbie and I should meet them for lunch at Merlotte’s. Bjorn drove and Lewis rode with us – they had guns, by the way – and we got to Merlotte’s about one o’clock. We started talking and it was about 2 o’clock when Bjorn pointed out that no one had waited on us because Arlene wouldn’t and she was scaring the other waitress, too. There were two rednecks in the corner who I figured were FOTS because Arlene kept going over and talking to them about us.
We got waited on, we were eating, and the guys started hanging around the pool table looking at us. Sam called Arlene back to yell at her about riling up her idiot friends but while they were gone, the guys came over carrying pool cues. Bjorn stood in front of me. They asked if he was with these ladies and he said yes. They said are you sure they’re ladies because they heard that bitch, meaning me, was married to a Vampire and her/my baby wasn’t human. Bjorn said it was none of their business. One of them asked if I was married to a Vampire or not and then the other one took a swing at Bjorn, but the pool cue broke on his arm and his fist hit the guy in the chest and there was an awful cracking sound.
As he went down, the other one reached for me, but Bobbie, Octavia, Amelia and I were holding hands asking Freyja to let us get out of there in peace and when he touched me apparently the baby used all our energies and shocked the guy up into the air, across the room and he landed on Sam’s pool table and broke it and was screaming about “wings” just like Felipe. Andy Bellefleur decided that it was self-defense and the guys went to the hospital and Arlene went with them and I said I didn’t want to press charges and then we talked about what the baby did, and we were done and had a glass of wine and then you called.”
Bill shook his head, Bjorn was trying not to laugh and Eric tried not to yell at them when he continued. “So, both went to the hospital?”
“Yeah,” she told him, “one guy had a broken…” she looked at Bjorn.
“…sternum” he said.
“Yeah, sternum, and Sam told them the other guy had a fit or a seizure or something.”
“But he was talking about wings?”
“Yeah, just like Felipe. The little Viking likes to sic that falcon on people, I guess.”
“How did they get close enough to you to touch you?”
She looked at Bjorn.
“Lewis was behind them, and when I punched the one guy, the other one grabbed at her before Lewis could get to him.”
“You know that’s bullshit, right? That this absolutely can not happen again where my wife and child are concerned?”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“No guns were drawn?”
“No and no one there seemed to know we were armed.”
“What should you have done differently?” Eric knew what he thought, but he wanted to see what Bjorn thought.
“I should have run them out of the bar when I saw the redhead egging them on.”
“That would have helped. What else could you have done?”
“We could have brandished our weapons and scared the piss out of them.”
“Yes. Anything else?”
“Lewis should have been shoulder to shoulder with me in front of them.”
“Good. We got lucky this time. No one gets that close to her again.”
“Yes, sire, no one.”
“Alright. Sookie did they know your name?”
“Yes, and yours.”
“Alright, then. Pam is back from vacation and I need to see her. Bjorn, I want you to go to Fangtasia with me to relay this story to Vincent and we’ll see what we have to do to be ready to travel Monday night.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Bill, I would feel better if you stayed with the girls tonight, but not if you and Bobbie are going to be in her room.”
“We can all watch a movie and have the guard on alert.”
“Good. I’ll try to be home by 12:30, and I’ll call if I’m going to be later.”
Bjorn finished his steak. “I’m ready when you are, your majesty.”
“You may have dessert if you want.”
“I don’t eat a lot of sugar.”
“Alright then, we will go.” He smiled softly at Sookie, “I love you. Get some rest and I will be home as early as I can, alright?”
“Alright! I love you, too.”
He kissed her and he and Bjorn went out to the car. Eric wanted to do what he had to do and get back to Sookie. When she heard the car leave the garage, Sookie looked at Bill and Bobbie.
“I’m sorry you guys have to babysit me.”
“Don’t be silly, Sookie, we love being with you,” Bobbie said.
“And frankly, I feel better staying here with you girls tonight considering the day’s events. You never know if those idiots have friends that might follow you home.
“So, we’re watching a movie?” Bobbie liked the idea, actually. “What does Eric have?”
“I don’t know – a couple of hundred movies he’s never watched. They’re all in alphabetical order if you want to look for something in particular.”
Bobbie was loading the dishwasher. “How about something Witchy?”
“Like what? I don’t know any Witchy movies.”
“Aw, come on, Sookie – Bell, Book and Candle, Practical Magic, The Craft?”
“I’ll see what I can find.” Bill volunteered and went into the den.
“Never seen any of them. I told you, I always avoided everything like that because I was weird enough and the last thing I wanted was people thinking I was a Witch in addition to being crazy.”
“Sweetie, I hate that you grew up in an environment that didn’t teach you to appreciate your gifts. At least now you are in a situation where you can be anybody you want to be.”
“Sure, you can. Eric loves you so much that you could do just about anything and he’d support you in it.”
“I never thought of that – I mean, he sort of told me that, but I didn’t really think of it as being true.”
“Think about it, Sweetie. Let your imagination run wild and see where it takes you.”
“I’m kind of stuck being Queen, though.”
“A Queen can run a business or get a degree or learn to paint or start a magazine or build an amazing house or library, or do charity work or help the poor or make a movie or write a book, or…”
“Yeah, OK, I get it. I just never…”
“Never thought you had any options?”
“Yeah. I always thought I’d live with Gran and work at Merlotte’s or some place like it. Going to school was a nightmare for me.”
“I can imagine, hearing all those crazy kids’ fantasies…”
“Yeah, there was no way for me to concentrate on anything. Gran basically taught me how to read and that was how I got by – just reading everything I could.”
Bobbie finished with the dishes and the girls grabbed sodas and went into the den.
“What’d you find, Sweetie?” Bobbie wondered when she saw Bill putting a DVD in the player.
“Bell, Book and Candle. It’s an old one – I’ve seen it several times – but it’s one of the best to my way of thinking.”
“Well, it’s definitely got the best wardrobe in it – wait ’til you see some of the clothes Kim Novak wears in this, Sookie! They’re amazing!”
“Is it realistic at all?”
“No, it’s not – there aren’t any really accurate ones, though Practical Magic did a fair job of specifying that there was no devil in the Craft and showing them being more into herbs and such, though they always have to cross the line to make it entertaining.”
“How come nobody does realistic movies about Witches?”
“Real Witches aren’t scary and real magick is subtle, so it’s not what they consider entertaining. I’ve always wished they’d do a show about a Witch who solved mysteries or handled weirdness like Kolchak did.”
“Kolchak: The Night Stalker? I LOVED that show – my dad and I used to watch the reruns of it all the time. They still show them sometimes.”
“Yeah, and you know how they have all these reality shows about hunting ghosts or monsters? Why is there never a Witch in the crew? And what really pisses me off are the political shows where they’ll claim to have a diversity of religions represented and they’re all patriarchal – they’ll have two kinds of Christians and a Jew, or maybe on a rare occasion a Muslim or a Hindu, but they never include Goddess worshippers.”
“Really, Bobbie, there aren’t that many of you at this point…” Bill wasn’t completely comfortable with the Witch thing yet.
“There would be a lot more if people knew about it and they won’t know about it if the news doesn’t tell them. One article every Hallowe’en is pretty pitiful for the fastest growing religion in America – there are more people turning to some form of Paganism every year than any of the monotheistic groups.”
“Wait – monotheistic is “one god” right? If it’s all one Goddess…”
“Feminists and Matriarchists use the spelling m-o-n-o-t-h-e-A-s-t-i-c, with an ‘a’ to mean believing in one Goddess. It also differentiates us because we believe in one Goddess but many Goddesses and gods…”
“All gods are Goddesses and all Goddesses are one Goddess?”
“Right – it’s monotheastic and polytheistic at the same time. We don’t have to nail things down to an absolute extreme the way the either-good-or-evil-crowd does. Life is too complex to just try to split it into two categories, but no matter how many categories you have, they’re all part of one Whole.”
“OK, why is she barefoot?” Sookie was talking about the movie now – Kim Novak was running around in black crop pants, a black sweater and no shoes.
“That’s supposed to tell you that she’s Bohemian… a non-conformist.” Bill explained.
“And that cat is her familiar?”
“Freyja favors cats,” Sookie mused.
“Yeah, I read that on the internet. I’d like to have a cat, but it’s not a good idea with a baby.”
“How does Eric feel about cats?”
“I don’t know – Bill?”
“I have never seen Eric around an animal other than a Were or a Shifter. You’ll have to ask him.”
“If he doesn’t mind them, he might let you get one when the baby is older. Cats are good pets for kids when they’re a little older.”
“Yeah, maybe. I miss my cat. I always had one growing up. So, is she actually supposed to be attracted to James Stewart?”
“Yeah, if only because she hates his bitchy girlfriend. Oh, they’re headed for the Zodiac club. Watch this cape she’s wearing…”
“Wow – that red lining is gorgeous!”
“When she gets into the club, she’s wearing a red backless dress and red shoes. Just gorgeous. Actually, you could wear about everything she wears in this film – you could pull off all of these outfits.”
“I could? I don’t know…”
“You could, Sookie,” Bill agreed, “I know you think of yourself as a little girl but you tend to rise to your level of dress. When you’ve got on a gorgeous gown, you carry it well.”
“Oh, thanks…” When Gillian’s brother, Nicki, as played by Jack Lemmon, started playing the bongos, Sookie objected. “Ew – that music sucks.”
“In that time period, though, that would have been the equivalent of rock and roll today.” Bill always had a comment about music.
‘Really? I like our music now better.”
“Watch what she does here, Sookie…” Bobbie wanted her to pay attention because Gillian made the lights above them go off like lightening while the jazz musicians played a frenetic version of “Stormy Weather” and the evil girlfriend, who had a fear of thunderstorms and had gotten Gillian in trouble in college for going barefoot, freaked out and ran out of the club.
Sookie laughed. “I wish I could do something like that to Arlene.”
“You could, Sookie. You scared the crap out of her today with that little bit of telekinesis you did.”
“She did what?” Bill hadn’t heard about this.
“I had a dream that Freyja told me I could move things by imagining them and saying “come to me” and Octavia made me try it today.”
“And she DID IT.”
“Really? Did you tell Eric about this?” Bill knew Eric needed to know this.
“Um… no. I forgot.”
Bill took his phone out and dialed Eric, but it went to voice mail. “That’s strange?”
“What?” Bobbie asked though she and Sookie were more interested in the movie.
“Eric isn’t answering his phone.”
“He isn’t? That’s weird…” Sookie thought for a minute. “You’re sure it’s the right number?”
“Yes, Sookie, I got his voicemail.”
Sookie frowned. “Something’s wrong.”
“Don’t get upset, Sookie, it’s probably nothing.” Bobbie didn’t want her to freak out over nothing.
“No, I know it – I can feel it in the bond. Something is wrong.”
The house phone rang and Bill picked it up. “Sookie – it’s Amelia for you.”
“Sookie, somebody just blasted your front door with a shot gun.”
“Oh my god – are you alright?”
“Octavia and I are OK, but you need to have your door fixed. We’re a little freaked out.”
“Well, you can’t stay there. Pack up your stuff and come here to my house.”
“What happened?” Bill knew this had to be bad. “Is anyone hurt?”
“No, but somebody shot my front door with a shot gun.”
“Let me talk to her.” Bill took the phone. “Amelia, did you call the police?”
“Yeah, Andy Bellefleur is on his way here.”
“As soon as he gets there and you’re done with his report, get in the car and come here to Eric’s house. Do you know the way here?”
“Yeah, we can find it with no trouble.”
“OK, call us before you leave so we can let the guard know to watch for you.
“OK, Bill, thanks.” Amelia hung up and went to wait for Andy.
“Do you think this has something to do with Eric not answering his phone?”
“That’s exactly what I think. Sookie, get your phone and keep trying to call Eric. I’m going to tell the guards to be aware that there might be a problem. Bobbie, make sure that back door is locked. ”
Sookie was trying to get a hold of Eric, and she left him a message in case he checked his messages. Bill told the guards out front there might be a problem and one of them got a call from Vincent as he was talking to them. They told Bill to turn on the news to Channel 3.
Bill went back into the den and stopped the movie, turning the TV to channel 3. There was a breaking story about a nightclub being bombed – it was Fangtasia!
“Oh, my god, ERIC!”
“Sookie is he hurt? You would feel that.” Bill needed to keep her calm.
“No, but he’s angry – really, really angry.”
The news was showing the club which had some smoke and a few flames on one side of it but they said it was mostly under control and there had only been minor damages, but there were a couple of injuries and it appeared there had been an altercation at the door and some explosives had gone off in the skirmish.
“Ow! Calm down, Baby E!”
“Sookie, are you OK?” Bobbie didn’t like the sound of that.
“The baby is going crazy sending FIGHT! FIGHT! and he’s kicking me like crazy.”
“Here, honey, lie down and send comfort and calm to him.” Bobbie put Sookie in the recliner and tried to get her comfortable. She could see the movement in Sookie’s belly – he was really kicking up a storm.
“Do you think he’s reacting to something here?” Bill asked.
“No, but wherever Eric is, there’s going to be blood. I can feel it – rage, bloodlust, revenge. Ow!”
Mother Fuckers. Eric was not going to let these bastards get away this time. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was retaliation for the damage Bjorn and the baby did at Merlotte’s that day. Two men had tried to come through the front door with explosives on their persons and the doorman had smelled it. One makeshift bomb went off in the scuffle that ensued, and one went off in the Ladies’ Room shortly after. One bomb was retrieved by the Security guards and they told Eric they saw three men running east from the club that they were sure were connected to it. Once help was on the scene and he was sure Pam was OK and Vincent was doing triage, Eric took a sword from his office, threw on his long black coat to conceal it and took to the sky.
He made large circles like a huge bird of prey, scanning the streets below him for the runners. He saw some strange movement in an alley and saw three men, two running scared, one trying to get a car started. Failing to start the car, the third man then got out and the three were fighting about what to do now. One of them had been caught. Eric knew it was them. He landed lightly and silently on the roof of the building they were parked behind and listened.
“Get the fucking car started, George!”
“It’s dead. Shit, we’ve got to get the fuck out of here. They’re talking about it on the radio already!”
“They caught Ed, you know and I think the bomb went off in Lowell’s coat! Connie got that one into the ladies’ room but I didn’t see her get out.”
“You mean she’s not right behind you?”
“We completely lost her.”
“We ain’t goin’ anywhere without her, John.”
“We have to get out of here, George, those fucking bloodsuckers will be after us.”
“We gotta find Connie! I mean it, Harold – JOHN – we ain’t leavin’ without her. ”
“Shit – fine, I’ll go over to the side street and see if I can see her. Hold on.” Harold ran to the end of the alley and went around the corner. The other two men raised the hood on the car and tried to figure out why it wouldn’t start.
“Hell, George, you fuckin’ flooded it. Now what do we do?”
Thunk! They heard something hit the roof of the car. They put the hood down – it was Harold’s head!
“Fuck, what the fuck is that?” George turned and ran down the alley but suddenly a tall dark figure dropped in front of him, and moving faster than the human eye could see, he cut the man in half. 2 down, John to go… Eric walked toward the man slowly swinging his sword in a circle, as he tried to get the car started. The streetlight made Eric look huge and wild, and he was obviously covered in blood. John got out of the car and raised a silver cross at Eric. Eric’s fangs were down and he hissed and growled at the man, who was spouting bible verses and trying to exorcise him like he was a demon. Eric started to back up, pretending that the man’s words were sending him away. Just as the man began to believe it was working, Eric leapt over the car and cut him in half.
Eric took their keys and put his sword in their trunk. Nuts like this might have any kind of weapon with them and this had their DNA on it so he wouldn’t take it with him. Well, well – more explosives in the trunk. That was handy. Moving fast, he gathered the pieces of the men and arranged them in the car, gorging on their blood as he put them in place. He flew back up to the top of the building and got the bomb he had brought with him from Fangtasia. He put it in the front seat of the car and added a detonator to it. He flew back up to the building top, and pressed the button in his pocket. The car went up like fireworks. When the police found it, they assumed that the men had accidentally blown themselves up and there was no evidence of the clean slices from the sword among the mess that was left.
Eric went back to Fangtasia. The fire was completely out now, with just a little smoldering. Vincent was dealing with the fire chief, so Eric kicked around inside until he found his phone, which looked fine but wouldn’t work. He was on his way back out when he saw Pam in the crowd watching from the sidewalk surrounding the club.
“Are you going to be able to handle the repairs while I’m gone?”
“Of course, Master, we’ll have it looking good as new by the time you get back.”
Eric whispered to her, “There’s one more in the crowd somewhere – a woman named Connie. The others are dead.”
They split up and Pam wandered through the crowd. Eric stood out too much to do this particular job, but Pam, a girl in black, blended right in and was able to sniff out the one woman that smelled of explosives.
“Connie, honey, is that you?”
“Huh? I – uh, well…”
“You don’t remember me? Pam? We went to high school together.”
“Oh, yeah, how’ve you been?”
“Oh, I’m fine. Were you inside?”
“I was just there to meet a friend. I can’t seem to find him now.”
“There were some men around back in the parking lot – maybe your friend is around there?”
“Yeah, maybe. Thanks – I’ll check it out.”
“I’ll walk with you. If you can’t find him, I can always give you a ride.”
Connie was never heard from again, and the police theorized that she had died in the car with the men, but couldn’t be identified based on finding her singed wallet near by. They were sure she had been the one to smuggle in the bomb that went off in the Ladies’ Room because the doorman identified her from a photo line-up.
Eric found Bjorn, who had held the terrorist named Ed for the police, coming back to the entrance of the club.
“Are you hurt?”
“No, sire, I’m fine. They took the terrorist to the police station. Vincent said to tell you he sent extra guards to your house.”
“Since he’s got it under control, let’s go home. I’ll feel better knowing Sookie is safe and that we’re all there in case of trouble. My phone isn’t working.”
“Do you want to use mine?”
“I doubt they know what is happening. They were supposed to be watching a movie. I doubt they’d be watching the TV even if they were covering this.”
Extra guards were arriving at the house. Bill confirmed that the captain of the guard knew the people who were arriving – he didn’t want any unknowns on the property tonight – and he was giving orders that the entire property was to be sealed and the only people in or out would be Eric, Bjorn, Amelia and Octavia.
“Sookie, did you get hold of Eric yet?” Bill was getting worried.
“No, his phone is still going straight to voicemail, but I think he’s OK – I can feel in the bond that he’s relieved and I think he’s on his way home. I feel him getting closer.”
“That’s amazing.” Bobbie was in awe of the bond concept. “That must be so comforting.” Bobbie didn’t look at Bill, but he turned and left the room anyway. He cared about Bobbie, but he wasn’t ready for that yet, nor did he know if he ever would be.
“Yeah, I’d be freaking out if I weren’t sure he was almost here. He’s about half way here now.”
Eric closed his eyes as Bjorn took the turn off to go to the house. “Sookie must know about the club – she is feeling relief, and the baby has been kicking her but he’s calm now.”
“You can tell all that through the bond?”
“Yes. She can feel us coming home. She’s sending me comfort.” He smiled.
Lights flashed outside the house, and Bill went out front. It was Amelia and Octavia. Bill waved them on in. One of the guards took their bags in the house and another took their car around to the garage in back.
“Sookie, you lie still – we’ll get them in and settled. Try to stay calm so the baby will relax.”
Bobbie want to the living room as Amelia and Octavia came in and she ran over to hug them both. “Thank Goddess you are alright! Was there much damage to the house?”
“Just the door. The police put up some boards and police tape. I’ll get someone to come out and fix it tomorrow.”
“I think we should let Jason do that, and you stay here a couple of days,” Bill didn’t like the idea of them being there alone, and he was getting ready to leave for New Orleans. “Eric might want to put a guard on your house, too. He’s already got two around the clock at my place.”
“You think that’s necessary?”
“We’ll see what Eric and his head of security say, but I think we need to let this die down a little before you try staying there alone again.”
“Oh, no, I forgot it’s a mess in here.” Sookie saw everything in the living room covered with stuff. “I’m so sorry, you guys!”
“Don’t you worry about us, Sweetie.” Amelia was always upbeat. “Bjorn is in he yellow room, right? So Octavia can have the pink room and I’ll mess up your birthing room for a few days, but we’ll keep it so it will be ready if you need it.
“Sookie are you sure you shouldn’t be lying down?” Bobbie wasn’t sure she should be up.
“Are you sick, Sookie?” Amelia didn’t want to intrude if Sookie was sick, though they didn’t really have many options.
“Baby E just got a little rambunctious – Fangtasia was bombed and Eric… well, I don’t know what Eric did, but Baby E wanted to get in on the fight, too.”
“Oh, my god!” Amelia was shocked.
“He’s gonna be a pistol” Octavia smiled at her proudly. That baby was going to be something else and she had already decided she was going to make sure she was around to see him raised right. Not that Sookie and Eric couldn’t do it on their own, but she wanted to see this little critter grow up.
“Why don’t I make us some coffee? There’s some sweet tea in the fridge, too, I think?” Bobbie would take over so Sookie could sit and relax.
“Good idea – let’s sit in the kitchen,” Bill agreed.
“Ow! Eric is almost here – the baby feels him, too. You all go in and sit down – I want to meet Eric outside.”
“Sookie, you really should stay indoors. He’ll come in through the kitchen door.” Bill knew better than to let her go outside – Eric would be furious under these circumstances.
“Oh, OK, I guess…”
Bill steered Sookie back toward the kitchen where Bobbie and Amelia were getting drinks and snacks together. Octavia was sitting at the table and Bill joined her, introducing himself. Octavia thought he looked like a movie star, but she just smiled and said she was glad to meet him. Sookie took her usual place at the table and Octavia noticed she was running her hand over the spot where Eric would sit – she was anxious to see him. They heard the garage door, and then heard the car doors and Eric came through the door. Sookie was up and in his arms in a heartbeat and Eric took her upstairs without a word to anyone.
“Damn.” Octavia laughed.
“He must have been in some kind of fight.” Bill knew exactly what that was about and figured they’d be back when they were done. “They’ll be back down in a bit, I’d say.”
Amelia came back in from the den. “They just said on TV they think the guys who bombed the club blew themselves up in their car. They said the trunk had to be full of explosives and they found a sword in the wreckage, too.”
“A sword? That explains Eric’s… mood.” Bill laughed to himself.
“What do you mean?” Bobbie didn’t quite get it yet.
“He means that Eric killed them then put their bodies in their car and blew it up with his sword in it. He couldn’t keep it because of the DNA. Nobody would think it was strange that a bunch of religious zealots who make bombs would have a sword with them, especially if they were after Vampires.” Octavia had this figured out as quickly as Bill did.
“How many were killed?” Bobbie had trouble picturing Eric doing that, but she knew his reputation and Bill assured her later that it would be nothing for Eric to kill those people and laugh about it.
“They said there were three in the car, and one woman may be missing. One was killed when the bomb went off trying to get into the club and one guy is in custody.”
“I caught him and held him until the cops got there.” Bjorn said as he came in.
“Coffee or tea, Bjorn?” Bobbie was still playing hostess.
“How many hurt at Fangtasia?”
“4 went to the hospital. No one was in the Ladies’ Room when the bomb went off and two Were bouncers and some guy from out of town were hurt at the front door.”
“Was Sookie’s brother there with Pam?” Bobbie remembered Jason was going there with Pam and leaving from there.
“Jason left about 45 minutes before the bombs – I shook his hand as he was leaving and I saw him get into his truck so I know he got out fine. Sookie should call him and let him know we’re all OK.”
“Pam alright?” Bill had a love/hate thing with Pam but he certainly wouldn’t want her hurt.
“She’s fine and she and Vincent had things under control so Eric wanted to get back to Sookie in case something happened here.”
“Sure, he did.” Amelia said and they all laughed.
“This is a shitty time for all of this to happen.” Amelia said as she came back in from the living room with a small calendar in her hand. “You guys are leaving for Vegas Monday night, right?”
“All except me – I’m going to New Orleans and I’ll be in Vegas on Friday.” Bill said. He didn’t like the idea of being away from Bobbie right now, though she would have lots of guards around her.
“Sookie needs to spend tomorrow in bed – she’s had way too much excitement today.” Bobbie insisted and the rest of them agreed. “That baby really let her have it tonight. I wonder if she can handle carrying him much longer.”
“How much longer do you think it will be?” Bjorn asked.
“It was supposed to be mid-August, then we adjusted it to early August, but I don’t see her making it through July now without giving birth. He’s too advanced and she’s growing like crazy. That’s why I want her to use a wheel chair during this trip. It’s just too much for her at this stage in the pregnancy.”
“She doesn’t have the option of not attending these two events, but nothing says she can’t stay in bed the rest of the time.” Bill suggested. “Who suggested a wheel chair?”
“I did,’ Bobbie said, “then Bjorn agreed with me and called Dr. Ludwig and she agreed. She’d have a fit about this trip if she saw Sookie right now.”
“Why?” Bill didn’t see anything wrong.
“She’s about 20 pounds under-weight and the baby is getting big enough to give her problems in getting around. I’m really worried about him kicking her.”
“He can’t really hurt her, can he?”
“I’ve heard of babies breaking their mother’s ribs and things like that. I almost think she needs to be on the Soma to keep him calm.”
“Nothin’ is going to keep that baby calm when there’s a fight around him. He’s too much like his Daddy.” Octavia said. “You need to keep the two of them out of trouble until she delivers that boy.”
Eric flew them up the stairs so fast Sookie lost her breath and was already panting by the time he tore her thong off and he was in her before it hit the floor. He was wild with bloodlust and fucked her hard, growling loudly. Sookie was yelling out with every stroke, and she kept her palms flat against his chest in case he forgot about not putting pressure on the baby. It didn’t take long before he came with a howl and suddenly he was on his knees beside the bed between her legs, licking her aggressively as she moaned then without warning he bit her thigh, not to feed but to make her come, and she came hard. Wow – it was fast, it was intense and it was over. Sookie never remembered having a “quickie” with Eric but if this is what it’s like, bring it on!
Eric crawled up on the bed beside her and kissed her all over her face. Sookie was still trying to catch her breath.
“Wow – that was something!”
“I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
“No, I knew what was coming. I could feel it in the bond. I wanted to meet you outside but Bill wouldn’t let me.”
“I would have killed him if he let you outdoors tonight and he knows it. So, we have company?”
“Somebody blasted the front door of my house with a shotgun so we told Amelia and Octavia to come here tonight.”
“Shit. Fucking religious zealots – every age has some fucked up wave of religious zealotry that feels entitled to go around killing people they don’t like. Humans are so predictable it’s pathetic.”
“You’ve seen it all before, huh?”
“Exactly. I should go down and talk to Bill.” He smoothed her hair away from her face. “Can you come down or do you want to wait for me here.”
“I’ll come with you, but you have to carry me because I’m tired and your son kicked the crap out of me again when you went on whatever rampage you went on.”
“Are you hurt?” Now he was focused only on Sookie. “Did I make it worse?”
“I’m a little tender, but not from you. It’s inside where he is. I’m used to a good hard Vampire fuck but I’m not used to having a little Viking dance on my uterus.”
“Shall we go?”
“I should wash up first.”
“Lie still, I’ll take care of it.”
He got a warm washcloth and wiped her face and arms first, then her legs and up to her center, paying particular attention where she’d want him to. “How is that, my Angel?”
“Much better – very refreshing. Now let’s go talk to our war council,” she laughed.
He scooped her up and they flew gently down the steps, then went back into the kitchen.
“Hi, kids!” Amelia though it was funny as hell that they had to fuck before they could do anything else.
“Hello, everyone. You are Octavia, I presume?”
“Yes, and you’re the famous Viking I keep hearing about. You’re a mountain of a man, aren’t you?”
“So, Bill where are we.”
“Well, tomorrow is Sunday and you are leaving Monday night for Las Vegas and I am leaving for New Orleans. I don’t think it’s safe for Amelia and Octavia to go back to Sookie’s house for a few days and I think they need a guard such as I have at my house thereafter. Please tell me that you doubled your guard for this trip?”
“Yes, Bjorn, Vincent and I worked that out tonight. We’ll have a small army with us, especially now.”
“I think Octavia and Amelia should stay here until Vincent gets them a full time guard set up.”
“They’ve all talked to Dr. Ludwig and everyone seems to agree that Sookie needs to use a wheel chair on this trip and stay in bed whenever possible.”
“The doctor agrees? Who talked to her?”
“I did.” Bjorn said, “Bobbie mentioned it today and we called her. I think it’s a good idea. They said he worked her over pretty good earlier.”
“So I hear.”
“By the way, Eric, you do know you’re covered in blood?” Bill pointed out.
“Well, as long as the police don’t show up, I’m fine. I’ll bathe when we all know what we are doing.”
“Amelia will stay in the birthing room, Octavia in the pink room and they’ll be here with Margaret until their security is in place, and the rest of us do as we had originally planned, but with twice as many guards.” Bill had worked it all out while he was waiting for Eric.
“Alright, then, I’ll leave a message for Alicia that there will be extra for breakfast tomorrow.
“I think Bobbie, Amelia, Sookie and I should get our heads together and throw up some protection around all of us.”
“That’s a good idea,” Eric agreed. “Do you want to do it tonight or tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow. Sookie’s already exhausted. You need to get her in bed and spend some time with her. She tried to pretend she wasn’t upset earlier but she was wound pretty tight when we got here. The family has to come first – tonight and every night. Now, Amelia, show me to my room so I can plan what we need to do.” Octavia was tired and needed time to think.
“Bobbie and I will stay up a while in case anything happens. You take Sookie upstairs and get her settled,” Bill suggested.
“Alright. Bjorn – get some sleep. You’ll need to stick close to Sookie tomorrow, just in case. Even if she stays in bed, I want you up there sitting with her.”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Can we take our bath now, please?” Sookie wanted Eric all to herself now that everybody knew the plan.
“Yes, my Angel, we can. Good night, Bill, Bobbie.”
Good nights were exchanged all around and Eric carried Sookie back upstairs, more slowly this time. He sat her down and went to run the bath while she stripped off her dress.
“Eric, look!” She was standing in the doorway naked, pointing to her tummy – the baby’s movement was clearly visible.
“That is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.” He took her face in his hands and kissed her tenderly, then knelt down to kiss the bump. It jiggled in response and they both laughed.
Eric took his bloody clothes off while Sookie got into the bath.
“Where’s the almond massage oil,” she said, searching around.
“It’s in the shower. Are you up to that tonight?”
“Not really. I’m sorry. Alicia said that was good to rub on my belly to prevent stretch marks.”
“Well,” he said as he got in behind her, “that’s a pleasant prospect, too. After I bathe you, I’ll rub it in for you.”
“You don’t mind?”
“Sookie, as long as you are with me I don’t care what we do.”
“You weren’t saying that a little while ago…”
“That was bloodlust, Sookie, you can’t hold that against me…”
“I know, I’m teasing you.” She turned around to face him. “You’ve got blood in your hair, Sweetie. Let me wash it for you.”
“You do not find it… upsetting?”
She was up on her knees wetting his hair with the hand-held shower.
“I figure it belongs to somebody who tried to kill you tonight so, no, it doesn’t upset me, it makes me damned glad I’m married to a bad ass Vampire who doesn’t take shit from anybody.”
“Not quite the reaction I expected, my Angel,” he laughed.
“I’m married to a warrior. If I’m going to love you, I have to love this about you, too, and I do. I know you did what you did because they tried to hurt us and would have tried again if you hadn’t stopped them. I wanted you to stop them. I wish you’d been at Merlotte’s today – though I must admit, your son did a damned good job in your place,” she laughed.
“I wish I had been there, too. People like that are cowards. They’ll threaten a pregnant woman but they won’t stand up to me face to face. Instead they sneak explosives into my bar around innocent people.”
“Hmmm – I never thought of the crowd at Fangtasia as “innocent” before,” she laughed.
“I love you, Sookie. If anything had happened to you…”
“Nothing did. Bjorn was with me and that was because you were taking care of me. I just thank Goddess you weren’t hurt tonight and the damage at Fangtasia wasn’t any worse than it was.”
“Yes, the only deaths tonight were those who brought the bombs in the first place.”
“One of them was arrested – is that going to be a big mess when he goes to trial?”
“He will never live to stand trial, Sookie. He may not make it out of the jail alive tonight.”
“Do I want to know how you know that?”
“You do not.”
“Right, well, good.” She was ready to change gears, so she switched to a little baby talk, “Will you rub my shoulders, please.”
“Of course, my Angel. Touching you is…”
“I … no, can’t say that. Too corny.”
“Corny? YOU, Eric Northman, were about to be CORNY? Well, now you HAVE to tell me – I can’t live without knowing what you almost said.”
“I started to say…”
“That touching you…”
He sighed, knowing she wouldn’t let this go. “…is like praying for me.”
She was speechless.
“Pretty bad, huh?” He said.
“That’s the sweetest thing anyone ever said to me.”
“I’m not just saying it, Sookie, I mean it. It’s true.”
She kissed him long and hard. He softened the kisses, drew them out so they became long, languid caresses that made her nearly weak all over.
“Mmmmm – you keep kissing me like that, I’m going to melt and you’ll rinse me down the drain.”
He laughed and kissed her on the nose. “Let’s wash your hair, and get washed off, then I will rub you very gently and very slowly with oil, and before you know it, we will be in our bed spooning while I whisper in your ear.”
“Mmm- but the oil is in the shower,” She reminded him as she leaned back against him.
“I can get out and get it…”
“No, wait” She held her hands up in front of her, pictured the bottle of oil and said “Come to me” and the oil was in her hand as a breeze swept through the room with a Whoosh! “Here you go.”
Eric was stunned. “Sookie, what did you do?”
“Freyja told me in a dream I could do that, and Octavia had me practice it today and it turns out, I really can.”
“Freyja told you how to do this, and you can do it? And Amelia, Octavia, Bobbie, Bjorn… they all know you can do this?”
“Yeah, and bitchy Arlene saw me move a pepper shaker.”
“No wonder they were afraid of you. Sookie, this is remarkable!”
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I need to practice and see how far it works and stuff.”
“I need to think about this. In the mean time, don’t do it in front of anyone that doesn’t know.”
“Now, you are going to relax and I am going to finish your bath, you magickal little Goddess, you,” he laughed.
She closed her eyes, as he kissed her forehead, and she stopped talking and just let him do everything he promised. She even fell asleep a bit while he massaged her moist skin with the oil, dried her and tucked her in bed.
When they were spooned together in bed, he began to whisper to her, and she asked him, “Eric?”
“Yes, my Angel?”
“How come you never tell me stories about your life?”
“What do you mean?”
“You always say you look forward to telling our son stories about your life, but you don’t tell them to me.”
“I did not want to bore you.”
“Nothing about you is boring, Eric. I’d love to know more about the places you’ve been and the changes you’ve seen.”
“Alright, my Angel, I will tell you about my long life… until you get sick of hearing about it, and then you will tell me and I’ll stop.”
“That will never happen.”
“Not for years and years, anyway.”
“Ah, so where shall we begin?”
“What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever been?”
“Come on – you must have been in an opium den in the Orient or been on a safari or sailed around the world…”
“Your blood does more for me than opium would, and nothing compares to the softness of your skin or the luxury of these sheets. However, if you want to know about tales of the Far East, I have a few I can tell you. When I was a young Vampire, several hundred years old, I hopped on a ship leaving Scotland…”
…and he whispered to her until she fell asleep. He spent his time sending to the baby. He spent his time in the nursery, he went downstairs to meet with Bill. When he went to his rest for the day, he smiled to himself. He never expected Sookie to care about his long history. He fell asleep smiling, thinking of all the things he wanted to share with her – he would think about her new ability tomorrow.