LATE Chapter 062

 

The Entourage

 

Eric set Sookie down when they got to their room and he kissed her.

“How is your arm, Sweetie?”

“It’s getting better. I’ll take the tourniquet off in a few minutes and it should be fine.”

“You’d better lie down until you’re sure the silver isn’t in your system. Let me help you out of what’s left of your shirt.” She smiled up at him and unbuttoned his blue shirt. The sleeve was destroyed, so she threw it in the wastebasket when she got it off of him.

She started to undo his jeans and he purred at her “Mmmm. Now that makes me feel better.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her and she laughed while she pulled his pants down. He was standing naked, looking absolutely magnificent even with the gash on his arm that was healing more slowly than normal, but still pretty fast. “You are over dressed, my Angel.” He slipped her robe off her shoulders and reached for the hem of her nightgown, pulling it straight up and off of her. He grabbed her shoulders and kissed her hard.

“Wow – what was that for?”

“Did you not notice that I nearly lost you just now?”

“Yeah – I was trying not to think about that. I was trying to just focus on you being hurt. That’s another bullet you took that was meant for me.”

“I’d take a thousand bullets to keep you safe, Sookie.”

“Let’s not think about that now. Come on.” She took his hand and pulled him along onto the bed, though he had to catch her as she lost her balance on the bed. “I’m getting so clumsy. I fell this morning, too and Bjorn had to catch me.”

“Is that why you smell of him?”

“I told Bobbie she should tell you it’s because she insisted that he carry me downstairs. I could have walked.” She settled back on her side of the bed.

“Better that he carried you. I don’t want you falling on the stairs and you are having trouble adjusting to your new… center of gravity.”

She laughed. “Oh is that the problem? My center of gravity? It’s not having a little Viking dancing on my uterus?”

He laughed and lay down beside her. “Untie that for me.” He indicated the tourniquet on his arm. She untied it as gently as she could, and threw it in the wastebasket on top of the rest of his ruined shirt. She turned back to him and kissed his arm where it was hurt.

“You had a crowd in here today, Sookie. I smell Alicia, of course, and Bobbie and Bjorn.”

“Yeah, you told him to watch me, remember? And Bobbie kept him company while I slept.”

“Does it bother you to have a man in our room who isn’t me?”

“Well… I don’t know. I guess it’s a little weird.”

“Do you find him attractive?”

“I don’t want him, if that’s what you mean.”

“But you find him attractive?”

“Anyone would, Eric. The only things I find attractive about him are the things that remind me of you.”

“Oh, really? And what things would those be?”

“You’re both blond and built and you both have that hint of a Swedish accent and … I don’t know you’re just similar – but I like you better. Especially your hair.”

“You like my hair more?”

“I like your everything more, but yeah, I love your long hair.” She reached over and ran her fingers through it as he smiled at her.

“Do you remember what I told you to do for your training?”

“Uh….yeah.”

“And in the two days since you have felt no sexual stirring at all when you are not with me?”

“Uh…well…”

“What did Bjorn do to make your loins stir, my Angel?”

“I never said it was Bjorn.”

“You have not said it wasn’t.”

“It was no big deal.”

“You tell me what happened and I will decide if it is a big deal or not. You are my wife and I will be the judge of what is a big deal where you are concerned.”

“They were all teasing me and we were laughing and he just…”

“Yes?”

“… he sort of…”

“I’m listening.”

“He kind of winked and I felt … it… ”

“…throb?”

“It was no big deal, Eric, that happens all the time…”

“Bjorn causes this reaction in you all the time?”

“NO! No, I mean IT throbs all the time and you can’t hold that against me.”

“All the time?”

“Yeah, a lot, it just does, like if I think of you or smell your pillow or…”

“Make eye contact with Bjorn?” He didn’t sound angry at all – he might almost have been joking, but not quite.

“Don’t be jealous and don’t take it out on him. It’s not his fault I’m conditioned to throb when I’m around blond Swedish warriors with big guns.”

“Big guns?”

“Yeah, you know, arms – muscles – GUNS.” She patted his big arm.

“Ah – you like his arms…”

“No… I mean… I like your arms more but he’s got nice arms, too.”

“Well, well… what should I do about this, Sookie?”

“Do? Why do you have to do anything – it’s just something that happened.”

“If it had happened while I was near I could have punished you but this happened early in the day, yes?”

“Yes…”

“So punishment would have little effect at this point. Besides you are pregnant so there’s not a lot I can do.”

“What would you do if I wasn’t pregnant.”

“Well, this was just one throb, yes?”

“Yes.”

“I’d give you a choice – either 10 swats of my open hand or one stripe from a riding crop on you bare bottom.”

“guh” she inhaled sharply at the thought.

“Throbbing again are we, Sookie?”

“Uh…”

He slipped his hand between her legs and found she was wet. “Hmm – very warm and wet, Dear One. Is that for me” he slipped two fingers into her then pulled them out “or for Bjorn” in and out of her again, “or for the riding crop?” He continued sliding his fingers in and out of her.

She closed her eyes as he continued to slip his fingers in and out of her. She felt dizzy.

“Answer me, Sookie.” His voice was sterner now.

“It’s for you, Eric.”

“For me or for me punishing you?”

“I… there’s no difference.”

“Have you ever fantasized about having two men, Sookie?”

“Well, yeah, I mean.. I…” His hand was relentless and it was hard for her to think.

“You are stammering. Look me in the eye and tell me what two men you have fantasized about taking you at the same time.”

She tried to look him in the eye but she kept looking back down.

“You will answer me when I ask you a question, do you understand?”

“Yes, Eric. Ah, ah.”

“Which two men?”

“A long time ago, I thought about you and B…Bill.”

“And more recently?”

“You and … Bjorn, I guess.”

“Convenient that both of your fantasy men are under this very roof, my Angel.”

“It’s no big deal… everybody does it. OH!” He added a third finger.

“Everybody is not my wife, nor am I every man. Maybe I should offer you to them and satisfy your cravings.”

“What?”

“It would have to be both of us, of course, at the same time, one in each entrance…”

“ERIC!”

“I’d enter you first in the back and then ….”

“Eric, stop!”

“You know, that’s something you rarely say to me, Sookie. I can’t remember the last time you told me to stop.”

She was moaning and he added the last finger. He stretched her and curled his fingers under and she cried out as he opened her wide. She loved this when he stretched her this way, even when it hurt some because it hurt in a really good way. He was doing it, whatever it was, more and deeper than he had ever done before. Sookie was writhing on his fist and moaning and he shifted his weight toward her and without warning bit her breast hard.

Sookie shrieked and came hard, Eric pushing her as far as he could, to the point of tears, only stopping when she was sobbing and shaking all over. He put his arm under her head and pulled her to him, letting her curl up into his body. He kissed her hair and stroked her back and her bottom, whispering to her.

“Shh, Sookie, give yourself over to it.”

“Hold me.”

“I’m holding you.”

“Tighter. Hold me tight.”

He tightened his grip on her. “It’s ok, Sookie, I’ve got you. You’re safe, my Angel.”

He loved it when she got vulnerable and clingy after an intense orgasm. Suddenly she reached up for him and he leaned into her so she could get her arms around his neck.

She whispered in his ear, “You have to punish me.”

“What? Sookie I told you I can’t while you are pregnant and it should have been right when it happened anyway.”

“You’re a Vampire – you can’t be there in the day. You have to wait to punish me at night.”

“Sookie –”

“I asked you to train me. You have to punish me, Eric, that’s what I want. There has to be something you can do besides hitting me that you can do until I have the baby.”

“There is but it will hurt.”

“I want you to.”

He smoothed her hair away from her face. “Alright, catch your breath and relax and we’ll take care of your punishment.” He was trying to stay calm because he was afraid she’d know from the bond that he really wanted this and was going to enjoy it immensely. He had to keep her pliable and that was less likely to happen if she realized he would enjoy causing her pain. It would be better if she saw it as him molding her to be what he wants, which it was, of course, but he did have an atavistic streak of sadism that liked the feeling of control he had over her.

In a human, that would be reason to stay away from a Dom and Eric was well aware of that, but he was not human. It was his very nature to enjoy playing with his meal and even torturing it, like a cat toying with a mouse it had caught. He flashed back in his mind on a few times in his much earlier, darker days when he had amused himself with a voluptuous meal or two for days or even weeks before he finished with them. Vampires were possessive and domineering and primal. The animal in him would enjoy this – the same part of him that would feel ecstasy in draining her would be inflamed by her suffering, however mild it might be. He would know that she endured it for him – that she submitted to his will – and that would be thrilling in a way most humans would never understand. This was the part of him she should be afraid of, but he hoped it was a long time before she realized it even existed.

Sookie wiped her eyes and face and said “OK, what do you want me to do?”

“Kneel beside the bed, facing it.” He helped her up and helped her get into position. “Sit up straight and wait here. No talking, no moving.”

He went to his closet. He had been getting prepared for this for a while and had some equipment he brought from the love nest in Fangtasia. He knelt behind her, taking her left wrist and pulling it behind her back he fastened a leather cuff around it. Attached to it by a couple of links was an identical cuff into which he fastened her right wrist. This already forced her to sit up straighter. He ran his fingers under her hair then ran them down the backs of her arms and felt goose pimples rise on her flesh. He slipped a long, wide, soft leather strap between the cuffs and began to wind it up her arms, forcing them together, crisscrossing and wrapping them up above her elbows. Her back was forced to arch and this thrust her breasts forward. She was trying not to whimper but failing. Eric licked her shoulders a few times and ran his hands around to grip her breasts and squeezed them hard. She gasped in spite of trying to make no sound and cried out when he pinched her nipples briefly but fiercely.

“I said be quiet,” he whispered in her ear. He got up and moved in front of her, sitting on the bed with his legs spread, inches from her. He lifted her chin and made her look in his eyes. “Does it hurt, Sookie?”

“Yes, Eric.” Her breathing was already rough.

“Good. It’s supposed to hurt. Now, I’m going to give you a safe word. If it hurts so much that you can’t stand anymore, you say “alligator” and I’ll untie you. I expect you to only use the safe word if you are really in extreme pain and can’t take anymore. Only that word will make me stop before I choose to. Tears won’t stop it, because you’ll be crying in another minute or two but you can take more than that. Do you trust me to know how much you can take?”

“Yes, Eric.”

“That’s my girl.” He stood for a minute and pressed on her skin between the straps. It went yellow, but then the color returned quickly so he knew her circulation wasn’t compromised.

Sookie was trying not to cry – she wanted Eric to be proud of her – but she was beginning to lose that battle. Her breath was almost sobs and her eyes were beginning to release an occasional tear. Eric had never seen anything more beautiful.

Sookie sat back on her heels. Eric gave her a minute to rest there, then asked her “Did I give you permission to sit back, Sookie?”‘

“No, Eric.”

“Back up on your knees, little one.”

Sookie tried to push herself back up and Eric helped her back up into position. He wasn’t going to stretch it out too much longer, but he wanted her to struggle with herself a bit more.

She had her eyes closed and her head down, sobbing as quietly as she could.

“Look at me, Lover,” he ordered and he lifted her chin again, making her raise her head by stroking her under her chin. The look on her face was indescribably sweet to him. She was losing the fight not to cry and he reached for a tissue from her nightstand, wiping her nose. He stared into her eyes and she began to sob uncontrollably, not from the pain but from knowing she had disobeyed him, no matter how unconscious the reaction might have been. He quickly untied the strap, and began to massage her arms, then he unhooked the cuffs and swept her up onto the bed.

He pulled her to him, kissing her face all over. “I love you so much, Sookie. I could never have imagined loving anything as much as I love you.”

“Hold me tight,” she sniffled. “Did I do ok?”

“You were magnificent. Very brave, my Angel, and very strong.” Eric sent comfort through the bond and the baby, who had apparently been asleep, joined in sending her love and comfort, too.

“I’m sorry…”

“Shhh, little one, all is forgiven and forgotten. You’re my good girl, and I love you.”

“Ok, good.” She was baby talking now and smiling as her tears cleared away. “Wow!” she suddenly noticed the incredible hard on Eric had and took it in her hand. He shifted her on her back on the wedge as she continued to stroke him. He was beginning to growl softly and his fangs were down as he moved between her legs, lifting her knees. She grabbed his face with both hands and pulled him toward her, looking him in the eye, “Fuck me, bite me and rub yourself all over me.” He was in her before the words were out of her mouth.

He fucked her hard, holding her hips up as he was up on his knees slamming into her. She was loving it and was loud about it, reaching over her head to grab the head board. He was wild, shifting to Vampire speed and she was out of her head. In the back of her mind she was aware that the baby was cheering Eric on like it was a fight or something but that was just a flash of realization as she began to come and Eric, moving faster than she could see, bit her inner thigh hard, making her come and he was up and back in her, howling as he came with her, both of them loud enough for the whole house and the guards outside to hear clearly. As they both peaked there was an explosion of sparkling pink lights not only around them but, they would find out later, in and around the whole house. Eric had collapsed on his side of the bed and Sookie was starting to peel her fingers from their iron grip on the headboard. They were both stunned.

“Eric?”

“Yes, my Angel?”

“Do you think anybody heard that?”

“Sookie,” he laughed a little, “I think everyone probably heard that, my darling.”

“That was intense.” She was gasping for breath.

“That is an understatement. I think we might have hit a personal best with that one,” he laughed, every bit as surprised as she was.

“Holy smoke!” Sookie looked at her belly, which was moving like something in a horror movie. “Eric, look!”

He put his hand on her stomach which was moving vigorously. “What is he doing? Does it hurt?”

“No, I think… I think he’s rolling over!” she laughed and Eric did, too. He pulled himself up and straddled Sookie’s legs, placing both hands gently over the tumult in her tummy. He was fascinated that he could feel the baby inside her.

“I think this must be his shoulder…” Eric observed, “and this movement here must be his feet kicking. Is he kicking hard?”

“No, not bad, really, I can just really feel him moving and I feel like I really need to go to the bathroom.”

Eric quickly got up and scooped her up, depositing her on the toilet as she giggled. “Glad you move so fast, this giggling would have made me ruin the sheets,” she laughed and he did, too.

“Do not worry about ruining sheets, Dear One. They can be washed or replaced – anything can. The only things I care about are you and the baby. The rest is only convenience. Alicia even has a new bedspread and pillows in the linen closet in case ours get ruined, and she had protective covers put on our mattresses the last time they changed our sheets. We are all set for our blessed event,” he laughed.

“I’m glad you and Alicia think ahead like that. It takes a lot of pressure off of me,” she said as she finished up and they headed back for bed.

“Yes, it is good having women in the house who have given birth. They have the experience to know what your needs are. I almost…”

“What are you thinking?” she asked as she settled onto her side of the bed with his help.

“I almost think they should live in now that there are so many of us in the house. How would you feel about that, Dear One?” He said as he walked to his side of the bed and sat down. He scooted back so he was sitting next to her.

“Well, a lot of weirdness goes on at night here. This place isn’t really big enough to insulate them from it.”

“What would you think about a larger place, Sookie?”

“You mean a new house?” She turned a little more toward him with his help so they could talk face to face.

“I mean a compound of houses on a large, well-situated estate that would be big enough to house all of our servants and friends.”

“Are you really thinking of moving?”

“Only if it would please you, Sookie. It’s just an idea, but there would be room for Amelia and Octavia to live with us if you wished, plus Bjorn, Bobbie, Bill, maids, gardeners, maybe a daemon nanny…”

“We could afford that, right?”

“Easily, especially now that I have the King’s income as well as my own, and I was thinking it might be good if it were in New Orleans.”

“You want to take all of us to New Orleans? To live?”

“I know we said we would stay in this house, Sookie, but our needs are going to be more than we expected with this child. He needs to be able to play outside without worry about snipers getting so close. You like having everyone close and you need the support of them being here. Honestly, I think you and I both would enjoy being more involved in the reconstruction efforts in New Orleans.”

“What about Fangtasia?”

“Pam and Vincent can run Fangtasia without me. Pam is Sheriff of this area now, and it would be more convenient for me to be in New Orleans where the bulk of our business interests are.”

“It would be safer, wouldn’t it, if we had more room between us and the road?”

“Yes, it would. And we could have servants around the clock. It would have been nice last night to have a maid to serve everyone, would it not?”

“Yeah – Bobbie and Amelia kind of took over that role for me, but it would have been great to have someone who could have made food and stuff.”

“And when the baby is older, if the place is large enough, he might want to learn to ride a horse. That’s a good skill for a warrior to have, even one who can fly.”

“Have you thought about this a lot?”

“Not at any great length, but since your friends have been here and I see how much it would mean to you to have your Witches near, and we need Bobbie and Bjorn, plus Bill would stay with Bobbie, and I think we are going to have to face the fact that you will need help if this baby can fly and call things to him…”

“That would be quite an unusual nest, your majesty,” she teased him.

“Yes, well, if that’s what I need to do to support my family, that’s what I will do.”

“How long do I have to think about it?”

“As long as you want, Sookie – we would only do this if you want it. My only goal is the safety and happiness of you and the baby. This is just an idea to think about. You might want to keep it in mind as we travel, and we could start exploring whether the others would be interested in such an arrangement. Amelia has a home in New Orleans, but I gather Octavia has none at all. I think having her to guide you would be invaluable. I’d be happy if they would go on this trip with us.”

“Really? I know it’s short notice, but if I asked them and they wanted to, could they come with us?”

“Yes, the arrangements with the airline are fluid because of our shifting security needs and they will not deny me anything I request along those lines. They’ve told me repeatedly that they’ll make any accommodations necessary. Mention it to them in the morning. If they want to go, we will send them with guards in your car and retrieve their luggage in time to leave with us, or they may come later in the week if they prefer. I will have arrangements made for whatever they need.”

“Aww – you’re sweet. You like Octavia, don’t you?”

“I think there is much you can learn from her. She’s very wise – she knew what do about the bullet and she knew instantly what sort of sniper we were looking for. In fact…” He jumped up and threw Sookie her gown. “put that on – they are awake.”

Sookie put her gown on, then grabbed an RM out of the fridge and Eric put his jeans on then carried her to the second floor where Octavia and Amelia were drinking cocoa in the little kitchen. Bjorn came out of his room just as Eric and Sookie came downstairs.

“Well, here comes Sparky, now!” Octavia laughed

“Sparky?” Sookie asked

“Those pink sparkles all over the place a little bit ago that just happened to correspond with the jungle noises coming from your room,” Octavia laughed and everyone else joined in.

Sookie turned three shades of pink and Eric cracked up as he opened the RM for Sookie.

“You all saw that, huh?” She laughed as she tried to drink the blood without spitting.

“Saw it, heard it, damn near had a front row seat.” Amelia said and everyone laughed again.

“What’s so funny?” Bill asked as he and Bobbie came down the stairs. “I heard everyone down here and thought you might need us.”

“Actually, I wanted to ask Amelia and Octavia if they’d like to travel with us these two weeks.”

“Us? You want us to go?” Amelia said, surprised.

“Yes, I thought you would be good company for Sookie. There’s safety in numbers and I think she has much to learn from her Witch sisters. I know it is short notice but I thought I would ask in case you were willing.”

“Well, that sounds mighty nice but I don’t have a lot of money…” Octavia started.

“You would be my guests – I will cover all your expenses. All you would need is to show up. If you are interested I can notify our security tonight that you will be with us. We can send you in the morning with two guards in Sookie’s car to retrieve your luggage and you’ll go with us at 8 o’clock, or if you prefer to join us later in the week, I will arrange that.”

“That’s very generous, Eric.” Amelia said as she looked at Octavia and shrugged. “I’ll have to tell Sam I can’t make my shifts, but I’m always up for Vegas or New Orleans.”

“I’ve got no reason not to go – I’m on my own schedule.” Octavia said. “If Amelia is going, I’ll go. I’d like a chance to stay close to Sookie and that baby.”

“I’d like that, too.” Sookie smiled at her and gave her a little hug around her shoulders.

“I’d like it very much as well. I think you probably have a closer idea of what his capabilities are than anyone,” Eric said, “I’d consider it a great favor if you would stick close to them.”

“Oh, that’s so cool!” Bobbie said. “It’s going to be so much fun with all of us together!”

“It’s a good idea. I like it.” Bjorn added. He agreed that Octavia should be around to deal with the baby. They’d all breathe a little easier, he thought, having someone who was well versed in magick in the entourage.

“Eric, do you want me to make the arrangements? It’s still early enough to contact them at the airlines.”

“Yes, Bill, I’d appreciate that. Let Sandy know they’ll need rooms at the residence and we’ll deal with the Bellagio once we’re there. You can use my office – we have paperwork to go over, anyway.”

“Alright, ” Bill kissed Bobbie on the cheek, “I’ll see you in a bit, darlin’.”

“OK.” She smiled, as he headed up the stairs to Eric’s office.

“Sookie, I should join Bill so we can make final preparations to travel.” Eric said, squeezing her shoulders.

“Alright, Sweetie, just stop back and kiss me before you go to rest.”

“Always, my Angel.” He kissed her forehead and went up the stairs as well.

“Sookie, we never did your massage today, do you want me to rub your back and help you sleep?”

“Is that a lot to ask? I’d really like it but…”

“Don’t be silly. Come on, and I’ll help you get settled, and you can tell me how to make it rain pink sparkles.”

Everyone cracked up. Amelia and Octavia were going to finish their cocoa and Amelia got Bjorn a cup of sugar-free cocoa.

Eric came back very quickly and carried Sookie up the stairs as Bobbie followed them up.

“Thank you, Bobbie.” Eric smiled as she followed them into the room.

“My pleasure,” Bobbie replied, thinking of how much money she was making for doing little things like this – she’d do this all day and night for that kind of money!

“Bobbie, do you mind if I just take my gown off?” Sookie asked

“That’s probably the best thing to do anyway.”

“Good, I’m getting to where I hate sleeping in clothes, though I know I’m going to have to once the baby is born.” Sookie threw the gown on the floor and lay facing Eric’s side of the bed as Bobbie moved a chair right next to the bed so she could reach her.

“Not unless you want to, Sweetie. It will probably just be you, Eric, me, Alicia and maybe a nanny around at night – you wouldn’t need to wear clothes for any of us. Alicia sees you naked all the time, doesn’t she?’ Bobbie went into Sookie’s bathroom and got the bottle of massage oil and a towel.

“Yeah, I guess, and you pretty much do, too. You think I’m going to need a nanny?”

“Well, Sweetie, it might help you in certain situations.” Bobbie spread the towel behind Sookie and pressed the edge of it underneath her. “For example, there will be times like this Sheriff’s Ball, for example, when people will probably want to see him. A nanny would be an extra pair of hands if you need to do something or pay attention to someone else for any reason. The main thing, though, is if he has powers you don’t have, it might be necessary to have someone with you who can keep up with him, especially in the daytime when Eric is asleep. If he flies up on the roof, somebody has to be able to fly up and get him.”

“Good Goddess – do you think that’s a possibility?”

“It might be. There’s never been a Vampire baby that anyone knows of. I don’t know when he might start to fly, if that’s one of his abilities. He can already shock people across the room and get his own blood out of the refrigerator…” the both of them laughed at that. “… who knows what the little scamp can do once he’s out here running around.”

“Running is right – I’ll bet he does start walking and running early because he’s so active.”

“There’s a lot we don’t know. Actually, you should be writing these occurrences in your journal Octavia gave you. Like the thing today with the RM – you should write the date and time and that Bjorn saw it, and then whenever he does something weird you have a record of it. You might want to write a book some day.”

“Me, write a book? That’s silly.”

“No, it’s not, Sookie. You’re going to be the only mother in the world to raise a Vampire from a whelp. That’s got to be a best seller! Think how much better women will feel about their own babies.” Bobbie laughed and Sookie did, too.

“Mmmm – that feels so good!” Sookie sighed.

Soothing!

“Bobbie, the baby knows you’re here.”

“He does?” She was excited that he knew her. “How can you tell?”

“He’s sending “Soothing” but it’s more of a feeling than a description and he’s happy about it. Like he’s saying “Yeah, that’s the one that rubs us!”

“Aw, that’s sweet.”

“He turned over earlier and Eric got to put his hands on my tummy and feel it as it happened. He was like ‘there, that’s a shoulder, and this must be his foot…’ it was so sweet. He’s fascinated by it.”

“Anybody would be, but I imagine it’s so much more so to him. Imagine going for so long with no hope of ever having a child and then after a thousand years, finding out you’re going to be a father. It gives me chills to think of it.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty amazing. You want to know what’s funny? I was thinking about Octavia telling me to ask him about his life, and last night I asked him what was the most exotic place he’d ever been was, and he said this bed.”

“Really? He said that?”

“I said bullshit, that he had to have been in an opium den in the Orient or on safari or something and he said that my blood did more for him than opium ever would and that nothing matched the softness of my skin or the luxury of these sheets.”

“And did you melt all over yourself?”

“Well, yeah, who wouldn’t?”

“He’s like something from a romance novel.”

“I know – sometimes I can’t believe he really wants me as much as he does, but he does…” Sookie’s voice was soft and Bobbie could tell she really didn’t understand why he wanted her but that she was grateful that he did.

Bobbie blotted her back with a towel. “You want me to rub your tummy with some oil, hon? If I do it very gently it won’t hurt the baby.”

“Yeah, he loves that.” Sookie reached her arm back so Bobbie could help her roll onto her back with the wedge propping her up. Bobbie sat on the bed beside her and warmed the oil between her hands and gently spread it over the baby who kicked a little and sent Soothing again and Sookie laughed and said he liked it.

“You just wait, little guy, after you’re born I’ll give you a massage every day and teach your mommy how to massage you, too.” Bobbie spoke to him and felt him kick gently.

“Aw, he says “LOVE!”” Sookie told her. “You already know your Aunt Bobbie, don’t you, sweetheart?” The baby kicked and both women laughed.

“Who’s having all this fun in here?” Eric said as he quickly swooped down and grabbed Sookie’s robe and spread it over her since Bill was right behind him.

“We’re just talking to your son,” Sookie said as he kissed her. “He says he can’t wait ’til Aunt Bobbie can give him a massage all on his own.”

“Oh, he said that?” Eric asked

“Pretty much,” the girls laughed.

“I know exactly how he feels,” Bill said from the doorway.

“Go on, Bobbie, have a good night,” Sookie said. “Thanks for letting me borrow her, Bill.”

“I was just going to say the same thing to you, Sookie. Good night, you two… or, I should say, you three.”

“Thank you, Bill.” Eric said, paying more attention to Sookie’s belly than anything else.

“Thanks, Bill, g’nite, you guys.”

Eric zipped over and shut the door then zipped right back to Sookie.

“We can do without this now,” he said as he threw her robe aside. He kissed her belly almost reverently and rested his forehead on it.

“Whatcha thinkin’?” Sookie asked him playfully.

“I can’t wait, Sookie. It is so hard to wait – he’s becoming so real to me. I feel that I know him already and I cannot wait to hold him in my arms.”

“Awww,” she stroked his hair, “that’s sweet. He can’t wait to meet you, either, you know?”

“Yes, actually, I do know that.” He laughed and kissed her belly again then sat up beside her. He put his arm around her and just held her.

“Are you alright, Eric?”

“I am… overjoyed, I think. I feel such overwhelming happiness, I don’t know what to do with it. It feels impossible.”

She laughed a little and reached up to lick his neck.

“Are you trying to seduce me, Sookie?”

“No, I just wanted a taste. I love how you taste.”

“I wish I could taste even a tenth as good to you as you taste to me, my Angel. If I could bottle your essence I’d have every Vampire’s allegiance instantly and they’d all be so addicted they’d hand over all their fortunes to me, just for a little taste.” he laughed. Speaking of taste, I have tasted you tonight, but you have not tasted me.”

“Mmm- let’s have it,” she purred.

He bit his wrist and held it to her and she drank as deeply as she could, bringing them both to a quick orgasm.

“Wow, that doesn’t take any time at all now, does it?” She said, trying to catch her breath.

He was trembling a bit, “no, that is becoming almost automatic when either of us feeds from the other.”

“Have you ever known of anyone that came that quickly just from feeding?”

“No, my Angel, our circumstance is unique as far as I know. I’ve never known anyone who shared blood as often as we do.”

“Bobbie thinks I should be writing all the unique stuff about us and the baby in my journal and write a book some day.”

“That might not be a bad idea, Sookie. It would help to have a record if this ever happens again. It must have happened at some point before, but there are no records of it that anyone can find. An historic event should be recorded.”

“An historic event, huh?”

“Yes, of course. Very historic. I think Bobbie’s idea is a good one. I don’t know why I did not think of it before. Of course you should be writing this down. Make sure you note the date of his first evidence of telekinesis. Do you need a journal? I’ll order one for you if you don’t have one.”

“Actually, Octavia….” She let out a big yawn, “….gave me a really nice one yesterday.”

“Where is it?”

“Um – I don’t know. Let me see.” She opened her nightstand to find her journal and a pen. “Alicia put it away for me. She even put a pen with it.”

“Good. Make some notes quickly before you fall asleep. It’s almost time for you to have another RM, and one of the milder sedatives. I’ll get those while you do that.”

Sookie wrote down the date and estimated the time that Bjorn had seen the baby call the blood out of the mini fridge. She noted that the baby had responded to both Eric and Bobbie that day and night, and noted that he sent Fight, Fight! whenever Eric was near.

“Sweetie, do you remember the date the Falcon attacked Felipe?”

“The day before our wedding, Dear One – May 23.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right. And then there was the falcon attack yesterday. Boy, nobody better mess with this kid at school!”

Eric laughed loudly at that and she giggled, too. After she finished her notes, she drank 2 RM’s and took her medicine and Eric spooned with her while she fell asleep, whispering to her about a monastery in China and gently rubbing the baby bump. Once her breathing slowed and deepened, he spent his time with Eric Alexander bouncing love and pride back and forth and the baby seemed to be amused about something. That was the first time Eric noticed that so he made a note in Sookie’s Journal, which was still laying on her nightstand, before he went to rest.

“Mrs. Northman? Wake up, Missus! Mrs. Northman?”

Sookie finally opened her eyes. “Good morning, Margaret.”

“Good morning, dear, here’s that supplement you’re supposed to drink.” She held the bottle with the straw so Sookie could drink it down.

“Ah – that was good. Thanks.”

“My pleasure, Missus. You go on back to sleep now and Bobbie or I will be back in 2 hours.”

Sookie gave her a sleepy but warm smile. “Thanks for taking care of me.”

“My pleasure, dear. Sleep tight.”

Sookie didn’t know another thing until Amelia woke her with her 9 o’clock bottle, and told her they were going to get their luggage and if they weren’t back in 2 hours that Margaret would be in with the next one. Sookie said good morning to Bjorn, who was sitting next to her, then conked back out and two of the guards took Sookie’s bullet-proof car and drove Octavia and Amelia to her house in Bon Temps to pack their luggage. Amelia called Sam, apologizing profusely but saying Sookie really needed her, knowing that would soften him a little to her being away for so long.

By the time they got back, it was almost 1 o’clock. Margaret had given Sookie the 11 o’clock, so Amelia took her 1 o’clock feeding up and held it for her while she drank.

“Are you guys all packed?”

“Yep, we’re set to go. Alicia will be here in a bit to feed you breakfast and you’ll finish your packing and at 8 o’clock tonight, Las Vegas, here we come!”

Bobbie got up around 1:30 and was sitting in the kitchen with Amelia when Alicia arrived at 2. Margaret had a tray of home fries, eggs, texas toast and a small rare steak ready for Sookie, plus another one of the same for Bjorn, and Bobbie helped Alicia get them upstairs while Amelia sat with Octavia, who had just gotten up and dressed, because she slept late knowing it would be a long night of travel. Margaret had her breakfast ready, too and Amelia ate with her.

“Sookie, can you wake up, dear?” Alicia tapped her shoulder gently as Bobbie got Bjorn set with his tray and sat in the opposite chair.

Sookie opened her eyes, “Hey, Alicia,” looking to the side, “hey, guys.”

“Good morning, Sunshine!” Bobbie beamed at her.

“Good morning, sleepy head,” Bjorn teased her.

Alicia was getting Sookie settled with her tray. “Bjorn why don’t you have the TV on? You have to be bored sitting there watching me sleep.”

“I was reading a book, actually, so I’m fine. You’ll be up and about soon, anyway.”

“Yeah, I guess I will. Alicia, after I eat, I want to soak in the tub a bit, OK? Bobbie can you help me get in and out of the tub?”

“Sure, Sweetie.”

“Thanks. I usually have Eric for that,” she laughed, “but I better not wait until he gets up to take my bath. I should have things ready for him when he gets up. The transport will be here at 8 o’clock, Alicia?”

Alicia was getting a couple of things from Sookie’s drawer. “Yes, dear, we’ll be all set by then. Which of these night gowns do you want to take with you?”

“I like that gauzy pink one, and that one with the little blue flowers. Is that gown and robe I wore yesterday dirty?”

“It’s in the laundry – did you want to take it?”

“Is it too much trouble? I really like it.”

“No trouble at all. I’ll see to that after I take your tray down. It’s going to be warm tonight, so how about this little green and yellow sundress to travel, with your Birkies and your large tote bag? And I think you might want to wear some of these new maternity panties for comfort.”

“Yeah, I guess I should.”

“I’ll take this little black sweater for you in case it gets cold on you, too. It will look nice with this dress and match your shoes and bag.”

“Ok, thanks, Alicia.”

“There are some things in your office you might want to take with you, and I bought you this nice computer bag so you can take your laptop. I’m sure you’ll want it at some point over the next two weeks.”

“Wow, you thought of everything as usual,” Sookie laughed.

Bobbie and Alicia gathered up the cords for the laptop and packed the new pink computer bag with it.

“Hey, I need to keep this journal with me – should I put it in the tote bag or the laptop bag?”

“You’ll want to get to it quickly at times, Sookie.” Bobbie suggested.

“Let’s put it in your tote, then so you’ll have it on the plane with you.” Alicia smiled and packed the journal and pen in the black leather tote.

“Are you looking forward to our trip, Alicia?” Sookie asked.

“Actually, yes, I’m very excited. I can’t wait to see this fabulous “residence” everyone keeps talking about.”

“Wait ’til you see it,” Bobbie said, “it’s HUGE. It’s like a castle.”

“Yeah, it’s big – too big.” Sookie said.

“You don’t like it?” Alicia asked her.

“There’s nothing not to like, but it’s just … pretentious, I guess. Felipe, the king who bought it, over did everything. It’s way too expensive. We’re going to sell it and see about having our headquarters in the Bellagio. Eric says they have little villas available there and commercial suites that would be more convenient for us and won’t put such a financial strain on the kingdom.”

“Is the kingdom in trouble?” Alicia asked.

“Well, there was a lot of extravagance and some stealing going on. That’s why they were so anxious to get Eric in there to clean it up. He’ll have them making a profit again by the first of the year, if not sooner. He’s a really good business man.”

“He really is, isn’t he?” Bobbie asked.

“Yeah, he’s smart and he’s honest,” Sookie said, “and unlike his predecessors, he cares about the people under him. As far as I’ve heard, the powers that be are pretty happy with him.”

“Oh, that’s good!” Alicia said as she did some final additions to Sookie’s train case.

“Have any of you all ever thought about living in or near New Orleans?” Sookie asked.

“I did for a while – not too bad there.” Bjorn said.

“I’d love to be able to live there, even now,” Bobbie said.

“I always dreamed of living there some day, but it’s probably not in the cards, as they say.” Alicia said.

“What if it were?” Sookie asked, “I mean, we’re just talking at this point, of course, but Eric and I were talking last night and he had the idea that maybe we’d all be better off on a big compound of houses around New Orleans. A place where Alicia, you and Margaret could live in if you wanted and some other help and there’d be room for Bjorn and Bobbie and Bill and Amelia and Octavia and a nanny and whoever else we needed. It’s just an idea, there’s nothing set, of course, but what would you all think about that?”

“I’ll go wherever you guys go. I can’t make this kind of money anywhere else and I like this job.” Bjorn said.

“Same with me, Sookie. I’m with you all.” Bobbie said. “I think that would be fun being near all the action.”

“Well, I would actually be closer to my children there, but it just never seemed to be the right time to move. I’m not particularly attached to the apartment complex I live in now – it’s nice enough, but I would certainly consider living in if there were room for me.”

“A larger compound would be safer for everyone, too.” Bjorn added, “Something further away from the road, with an iron fence all around it would be good.”

“That’s what Eric said. He said the baby will need to be able to play outside and when he gets older he might want to learn to ride horses,”

Oh! Ooh! Yeah! Everyone reacted at once.

“Horses would be wonderful!” Alicia said.

“So none of you would have a problem with it if we moved you all down there? For real?”

“No, it would be better for me.” Alicia said, “I was saving money to be able to move near my kids anyway. Living in would save me a lot of money, too, and I’d be there whenever you needed me.”

“I’m ready to go any time!” Bobbie laughed.

“And I’m your shadow so you know I’m going to follow you,” Bjorn laughed.

“Well, cool, I’ll tell Eric that you guys would be OK with it. Alicia, do you think Margaret would consider it?”

“I’ll talk to her about it, but my guess is that she’ll want to stay with Mr. Northman. She’s very fond of him and she’s looking so forward to the baby that I think she’ll be happy to make the change to see him grow up.”

“Wow – this is great. I thought people would complain or want to quit,” Sookie laughed. “Eric thinks he and I would like being more involved with the reconstruction efforts, too. I’m not sure if he sees it as a business opportunity or part of his job as King, or what, but he thought it would interest me, too.”

“There are probably a lots of functions people would like you to be able to attend, Sookie.” Bobbie said.

“That would be my guess, too. You could be a good daytime representative of Vampire culture. I imagine a lot of the society ladies would love to have you at their teas and luncheons.” Alicia said.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I’m not. The tabloids are buzzing about you two already.”

“The tabloids?”

“Oh, yeah, Sookie – you didn’t think having the first Vampire baby in history was going to be a secret did you,” Bobbie laughed.

“You mean people know?”

“Yes, they do. It’s just rumors right now because you and Eric have only made that one appearance when he… what did he do?” Alicia asked

“His ascension…” Bobbie helped out.

“Right, but your appearances at these two upcoming events are highly anticipated.” Alicia said.

“Even among humans? They know about us?”

“Yes, they do.” Alicia assured her.

“Why don’t I know about all this?” Sookie asked.

“You’re fairly insulated here, Sookie. You rarely go out other than to go to Fangtasia, and you haven’t been in a grocery store in ages. You don’t watch much TV. We don’t bring it in, because we don’t think you need to deal with the nonsense.” Alicia explained. “We figure you have enough on your mind.” She leaned past Bjorn to hand Sookie an RM.

“Oh… yeah, I guess you’re right. I am kind of isolated and I would probably freak out if I knew everyone was talking about us.”

“So don’t worry about it, Sweetie. Just be prepared for the crowds tonight.” Bobbie said.

“Crowds? What crowds?”

“There will probably be crowds at least at the airports, Sookie, wanting to see you and Eric.”

“Nuh-uh!”

“She’s right, Sookie,” Bjorn chimed in, “that’s why we added so much security. There will be … what would you call them?” He looked at Bobbie and Alicia for help.

“Fans,” Bobbie said, “Admirers.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it.” Sookie was skeptical though she didn’t think they’d deliberately lie to her.

“Are you finished, hon?” Alicia motioned to Sookie’s tray.

“Oh, yeah – I guess I should get in the tub now.”

Bobbie went in and started running a bath for Sookie.

“Yes, it’s almost three-thirty. By the time you soak a bit and get dressed, and get hair and makeup done, then do the final check on your luggage, it will be dinner time and then time to leave. Mr. Northman will be up before you know it.” Alicia had her day all planned out.

“Hair and makeup today?” Sookie asked.

“Definitely. And we’ll touch it up again before you leave and before arriving at each airport if necessary. I’ll have your sweater and a touch up kit in my tote.” Alicia intended for Sookie to look good in case there were photographers.

“OK, Bobbie can you help me in the tub?”

“Sure, Sweetie and I’ll stay in case you need help.”

“I’ll be out here, don’t forget.” Bjorn said. He was trying not to think about Sookie naked in the tub, or Sookie in nothing but a towel.

“OK, well, I’ll get undressed in there and then I can wear a towel or a robe while Alicia works on me.”

Alicia took Sookie’s tray downstairs and Bobbie threw her a towel to wrap around her as Bjorn stood and looked toward the window so he wouldn’t see her get out of bed naked. She tiptoed quickly into the bathroom and Bobbie closed the door behind them. Sookie dropped her towel and Bobbie helped her step into the big tub and sit down, then got her razor and soap out of the shower.

“You want help shaving your legs, Sweetie?”

“That would be asking too much, wouldn’t it?” Sookie was unsure about asking, but she was sure she wasn’t going to be able to shave her legs.

“You’re pregnant, Sookie, it’s normal to need help with things like this. I’ll be glad to help you.”

“Thanks. Eric offered to help me before but I was afraid to let him.”

“You don’t trust him to do a good job?”

“I do, I guess – I don’t know, it seems weird doing that in front of a guy, let alone having him do it.”

“Lots of men help their wives with that, especially when they’re pregnant.”

“Really? Huh. Well, there’s also the fact that he wants to… uh…”

“…shave somewhere else, too?”

“Yeah.” Sookie turned side ways in the tub so Bobbie could reach her legs.

“You can let him do one without letting him do the other.” Bobbie sat on the edge of the tub and soaped Sookie’s legs up to a good lather.

“It’s not really a big deal to him, though. He lived so many years when women didn’t shave at all that it still feels weird to him. I think that’s why he thinks my skin is so soft.”

“That might be part of it, but you do have exceptionally soft skin. I think drinking his blood so often has a lot to do with it, too.” Bobbie was gliding the razor along her leg very smoothly and carefully.

“My skin is a lot better since the pregnancy so you’re probably right.”

“Yeah, a lot of women get blotchy or break out, but yours is like porcelain.”

“You think I’m too pale?”

“Not at all, though I know you like to be tan. We’ll hang at the pool at the residence and get you some sun so you show your dress off well.”

“Yeah, I am looking forward to that. I hope they’ll fix dinner for us poolside like they did when we were there for the wedding.”

“Yeah, that was nice.” She switched to Sookie’s other leg. “They’ll make whatever you want, you know – you should have them do grilled lobster and clams one night. They can get them really fresh from California and it would be lots of fun.”

“Ooh, good idea. I’ll tell Alicia and she’ll arrange it, I’m sure. We could do that here, too, we just don’t very often.”

“It’s because you’re in bed most of the time now. Once the baby is born you’ll be up and about and we’ll party a lot more.” Bobbie laughed and Sookie did, too.

“I wonder if he’ll be able to eat?”

“That will be interesting to find out. There are so many things about him we still don’t know.”

“Tell me about it. When I first found out I was pregnant, I had a couple of nightmares I never told Eric about where I was having some kind of Damien devil baby.”

“I don’t think he’ll be that bad.” Bobbie laughed.

“No, but it really freaked me out when Arlene was yelling that at Merlotte’s because it’s a fear of mine.”

“Did you know that a lot of pregnant mothers feel that way even when they know their babies are perfectly human?”

“They do?”

“Yeah, it’s a common thing for women to be apprehensive about their babies – perfectly normal.”

“That makes me feel better. Whew, I swear, Bobbie, I’m so glad you and Alicia are here for me. I’d be losing my mind if I didn’t have some women around me telling me what’s normal and what isn’t.”

“Well, you do have us, and more, and we’ve all got your back, kid, so you relax. This is an adventure you’re on and you’ve got all of us along for the ride.”

“Cool.”

“Ok, you’re all done, nice and smooth!” Bobbie ran her hand over Sookie’s leg to demonstrated and she laughed. Sookie took the razor to do her underarms.

‘Thank you so much, Bobbie. Hey, did I ever tell you about what Eric said when you taught me that little trick to do… to a guy, you know…?”

“No, what did he say?”

“He said he needed to give you a bonus, he was so grateful. You should hear how I can make him yell,” Sookie laughed.

“Is that what you did to him around the night of Eric’s ascension?”

“Uh… yeah, I think I did, now that you mention it, why?”

“You’re famous for doing something to him one night that had him screaming your name.”

“Yeah, he was,” she laughed,” wait… what do you mean, ‘famous’?”

“The guards heard it and it’s legendary that you did something to him that caused it, though they don’t know exactly what.”

“The guards talk about it?” Sookie was aghast.

“Yeah, it’s part of the Eric the Untouchable and Queen Sookie myth.”

“I’m gonna die.”

“Oh, ease up, Sookie, if you hadn’t given them something to gossip about they’d be making things up. At least this is complimentary to you.”

“People thinking I’m a sex maniac is a compliment?”

“Yeah – look at your husband, Sookie.”

“He is kind of ‘sex on legs,’ isn’t he?” Sookie laughed.

“Right – you wouldn’t want women thinking all that’s wasted on you – they’d be too anxious to take it away from you. If they think you give as good as you get, they’re less likely to think they can do better.”

“OK, guess that makes sense. Eric would like that reputation, for sure. I’m not sure, but I think one night he got me to have sex in the pool where the guards could see. I was having a crazy good time so I didn’t complain, but I kind of felt like he was…”

“… showing you off?”

“Yeah,”

“He was, honey, and everybody loved it. You apparently have the most magnificent breasts in two Kingdoms.” Bobbie cracked up.

“Ack!” Sookie shrieked and cracked up, too.

“Ok, you want me to scrub your back or wash your hair?”

“I know I’m being a baby but I’m used to having Eric do that for me,”

“OK, come here.” Bobbie took a bath brush and a bar of soap and moved Sookie’s hair to the side so she could scrub her back. She rinsed her back with the hand-held shower and wet her hair down good, then shampooed her hair and conditioned it, rinse and combed it.

“Ok, you want a washcloth, Sweetie?”

“Yeah, just to finish up with.”

Bobbie handed Sookie a cloth that she used to scrub and wash her face then her arms, legs and between them and back, then Bobbie pulled the plug on the drain and helped Sookie go sideways onto her knees then stand carefully. She put a towel on the floor and helped Sookie step out, then wrapped another towel around her and patted her down, then dried her legs, arms and back. She grabbed one of the larger towels and wrapped Sookie in it and folded the edge under in front so it made a little gown she could wear for her hair and makeup.

They went back out to the bedroom, where Alicia had things set up to work on Sookie’s hair and Bobbie helped her lower herself into the chair.

“Have a nice bath, dear?”

“Yeah, Bobbie did some of the stuff Eric usually helps me with,” Sookie laughed.

“I figured you were talking about Eric and/or about sex.” Bjorn said

“Oh, really?” Sookie said indignantly but kidding, “And how, pray tell, did you know that?”

“I heard that dirty laugh of yours.”

Bobbie and Alicia cracked up as Sookie’s mouth dropped open. “What ‘dirty laugh?”

“You have a very particular laugh you use whenever you talk about Eric or about sex. It’s really sexy and dirty.” Bjorn teased her. Bobbie sat on the bed, which had been made up, and laughed along. Alicia tried not to laugh at all but failed.

“He’s right, Sookie, you do. Ask Eric sometime. I know he knows the sound of it.” Bobbie stuck up for Bjorn.

“You guys are just picking on me.”

“True, but you do have a dirty laugh.” Bjorn said.

“Alright….” she said, laughing along.

“Did I just hear the doorbell?” Alicia asked

“I think so – let me check.” Bobbie walked to the top of the stairs and heard Margaret at the door. “Sounds like UPS. Margaret got it.”

“Good. This is going to be loud for a few minutes.” Alicia turned the hair dryer on and got Sookie’s hair nicely straight. As she was working on that, Amelia came up with some envelopes and an open box.

“Hey, kids! Sookie got some important looking mail and some pregnant mommy stuff so I thought I’d bring it up.”

“Hey, Amelia, if we all moved to a big compound of houses on an estate in or near New Orleans would you and Octavia live with us?” Bobbie asked.

“Wow – are you all moving?” Amelia sat on the far side of the bed.

“Eric and I were just talking about some possibilities, and he was thinking it would be good to have room for everybody, you and Octavia included.” Sookie said.

“Are you serious? He’d really want us to live with you guys?”

“Yeah, he calls you “my Witches” and he thinks it would be good for all of us to stick together for the baby.”

“I might be a part-timer in a deal like that but it would solve a big problem for Octavia.” Amelia speculated.

“That’s what we were thinking. Eric likes her, which is really rare, and he likes the idea of her being around the baby because of his powers. He was thinking that a bigger place would allow for more servants, a nanny, and it would be a lot safer for everyone.”

“Wow – I would definitely consider it and I’m pretty sure Octavia will jump at the chance to be near the baby. I’ll talk to her about it. Any idea when he’d want to do this?”

“No, it would probably depend on finding the right property. If he knows everybody is interested, though, he and Bill can start looking for properties when we’re there next week.”

“Wow – he’s being really generous.” Amelia said.

“He usually is, believe it or not. He told me he considered it a way to keep his family safe and happy. I think he’s worried about the security here.”

“That bullet last night got his attention, didn’t it?” Bobbie asked.

“Yeah, I think it did, and then the fact that only Octavia knew what to do for him got him thinking, too. Then with the other thing with the baby, he’s pretty sure we’re going to need a special nanny. Plus he thinks it’s good support for me to have everyone around because I want everybody to live with us.” Sookie laughed.

“You’re creating the family you wish you had,” Alicia said as she slipped a black plastic headband on Sookie.

“Yeah, I guess I am.” Sookie said a bit absently.

“Sookie, how would you feel about being so far from Jason? Or your house?” Amelia wondered.

“I don’t know – Jason and I aren’t really that close and I’m here all the time anyway so I guess I could close the house up for a while if no one is using it.” Alicia started putting a primer on Sookie’s face, followed by a light powder base.

“Will Eric be OK being so far from Pam?” Amelia asked.

“Yeah, they’ve lived apart before. He thinks she and Vincent can handle Fangtasia alright by themselves. They did a great job night before last under such bad circumstances. And I’m sure they’ll visit often. We didn’t talk about it, but I’m pretty sure we’d keep this house because Eric has business interests in Shreveport. I think Eric has other houses in the area, too, but I’m not sure.”

“He has other houses you don’t know about?” Bjorn asked.

“He’s got a lot of stuff I don’t know about, even though I’ve got a folder full of information on most of his stuff. It all goes over my head. He has all kinds of businesses and properties. I’m sure he knows everything he’s got, but probably no one else does, even his accountant. He’s even got accounts and things in other countries. He gave me access to all of it, but the only thing I’ve ever touched is one of the credit cards he gave me.”

Alicia swept a little blush on Sookie’s cheekbones, then penciled her brows lightly and handed her the eyelash curler and mirror.

Bjorn whistled, then laughed and shook his head.

“What’s that about, Bjorn?” Sookie challenged him as she curled her lashes.

“I’m sure he gave you access to everything because he knew you wouldn’t touch it, which is sweet, but I want to know where to find a girl that is so not into money that she can be trusted that way. I don’t know that I’ve ever dated a girl that didn’t take money out of my wallet when I slept,” he laughed.

“You’re just dating the wrong kind of girl,” Sookie said as Alicia put mascara on her lashes.

“I think you might be in a class by yourself, Sookie,” he laughed and everyone agreed.

“I spend his money all the time now. I’ve spent a ton of money on the baby already.”

Alicia put a little eye shadow on her lids and in the crease of her eyes.

“Yeah, but that’s nesting. Even you aren’t immune to woman things like that. I don’t see you buying clothes and jewelry all the time,” Bjorn said.

“He has to make her do that. When we were in Vegas for their wedding he told her to go shopping and not come home until she spent forty thousand dollars.” Bobbie laughed.

“Come on, now I spent a fortune on maternity and nursing clothes.” Alicia lined her lips with a soft pink pencil.

“You did spend some money on that, you’re right,” Bobbie agreed.

“And remember when they brought dresses for me to try on for these events, I bought several I won’t be able to wear until long after the baby.”

“Ok, you did buy some really pretty little dresses.”

“And we’re going shopping in Las Vegas and New Orleans, aren’t we, Alicia?”

“That’s the plan.” Alicia said as she put a very pretty, pure pink lipstick on Sookie.

“See, I spend money. Oh, that reminds me, Alicia, you know that cobalt blue chandelier somebody gave us for our reception?”

“Uh-huh, it’s very nice…”

“I want that put up in the baby’s room.”

“You want to put a chandelier in the baby’s room? Alicia asked as she sprayed Sookie’s face with Model in a Bottle.

“Yeah, it’s blue and that’s the only room in the house it would work in and it’s too pretty not to use and I do need lighting in there.”

“Yes, you do need lighting in there. Do you want me to have the men put it up while we’re gone? Margaret can Supervise.”

“Yeah, that’d be good.”

Everybody laughed. Alicia shook her head a little as she put a sealer over Sookie’s lipstick.

“What? I think it will look cool. It doesn’t have to be some typical nursery – It’s not a typical baby.”

Everybody agreed with that.

“I left poor Octavia downstairs alone,” Amelia said, getting up, “I’m gonna go see what’s for dinner.”

“Good question.” Bjorn said.

“Are you hungry, Bjorn? You haven’t done much.” Sookie teased him.

“I can definitely eat something pretty soon. All this laughing is hard work.’

All the women teased him with “oh’s” and “aw’s” about that and he cracked up.

“OK, Sookie you’re ready to put your dress on.” Alicia said.

“Bjorn, would you stand outside the door for a minute, please?” Sookie asked apologetically.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said as he got up and went out to the hall, closing the door behind him.

“OK, now, let’s see if we can get this dress on her without ruining her hair or makeup.” Alicia said to Bobbie. Sookie stood with her arms up and Bobbie and Alicia, both a little taller than she, held the dress over her and lowered it down slowly, keeping it from messing up her hair or touching her face. Bobbie helped Sookie keep her balance as she stepped into the maternity bikini panties as Alicia helped her into them. She slipped into her Birkenstock sandals and then they looked in the box Amelia brought up.

“Oh, cool, it’s the stuff for my tummy and all.”

“Oh, yes, this is good stuff. Some of it you won’t need quite yet, but I’ll put this and this in your train case,” Alicia said.

“I’ll head downstairs and tell Bjorn he can come back in.” Bobbie said.

Sookie looked in Eric’s closet. “Did you have anything out for Eric to wear as we travel, Alicia?”

“He didn’t give me any specifics, so I was waiting to see if you wanted him in jeans or something dressier.”

“I think something a little dressy slash casual, you know?”

“How about these black slacks and one of his silk shirts.”

“There’s one that looks like an impressionist painting, with shades of blue… here it is. I’d like him to wear this. So he’ll need boxers, dark socks, dress boots and a black belt. He should have a black blazer with him, too.”

She and Alicia pulled his outfit together and laid it out on the bed for him as Bjorn stood in the doorway and watched.

“I know you’re laughing at me, Bjorn, but it’s my job to make sure he looks good.”

“I’m not laughing. He likes it when you do wife things for him. I wish I had somebody to lay out my underwear and tell me which boots to wear,” he laughed.

“Whatever – let’s go downstairs and I’ll come back to close up our luggage after Eric gives it a final check.”

Bjorn picked Sookie up and carried her downstairs while Alicia made some final preparations. He carried her into the kitchen where Amelia, Bobbie and Octavia were sitting and talking with Margaret as dinner was being prepared and he kicked her chair out from the table and put her down in it.

“Well, look who got outta bed finally,” Octavia teased her.

“I know, right? I’m a bum!” Sookie laughed.

“That’s OK, Sookie, we all want you and that baby to get all the rest you can.” Amelia told her. “I was just telling the girls about the New Orleans deal.”

“What did you all think? I know it’s a big change…”

“I think it’s a good idea for me to stay close to that baby.” Octavia said as Amelia smiled to say “I told you so.”

“Cool! Margaret, what do you think?”

“Well, I’d like to stay with Mr. Northman, of course, and I’d hate missing the baby so if you’re willing to have me, I’d love to go along.”

“Really? This is so great!”

“I’ll have to get out of my lease somehow is my only problem.” Margaret said.

“Yes, I’d have to work that out, too,” Alicia said.

“Oh, don’t worry about that, Eric or his lawyers or somebody will take care of those things,” Sookie reassured them. “He wants us all to stay together if possible, and bring in some more help, and be in a safer situation. Eric will be so pleased!”

“Why will I be pleased?” Eric asked as he entered the kitchen.

“Hey, Sweetie!” Sookie reached up and he bent to kiss her.

“How are you today, my Angel?” he asked as he sat down at the head of the table.

“I’m great. I was telling them what we talked about last night and everybody says it’s cool with them.”

“About the compound in New Orleans?” He was surprised she had even mentioned it yet.

“I told everybody it’s just something we’re talking about but they all said they’ll go with us if we do.” She grabbed his hand enthusiastically and he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it.

“So you could keep your little family together if we decide we need more space? That is very good to know, Dear One, because the more I think about it, the more I think we may have no choice. Our needs are expanding more rapidly than this small house can accommodate. If we stayed here I would have to restore the old servants quarters and probably add at least another small house. We would still have the security issue, though, with the house being too hard to protect.”

“You’re speaking of this house, I gather?” Bill came in the door and straight over to kiss Bobbie.

“Yes, Bill, we were talking about the idea you and I discussed in my office last night.”

“A secure compound in New Orleans?”

“Yes, Sookie tells me everyone is amenable to the idea.”

“Really? I think everyone would be much more comfortable and it would certainly be a great deal safer and easier to defend. I know you don’t want to worry about gunfire with a baby in the house and he’ll need to be able to play outside.”

“Bill, this would include you, right, honey?” Bobbie asked.

“Yes, I thought we’d hire a security firm to keep an eye on Sookie’s and my properties and I’d spend time between the compound and Victor’s residence in New Orleans which Eric and Sookie could use as well if they wanted to spend the night in town. Eric and I agree that there are business opportunities that would benefit us personally as well as the kingdom in general that would require our presence more often than living here would afford us. Between New Orleans and Las Vegas, Eric’s time in Shreveport is wasted as far as his office is concerned, as is my time in Bon Temps when so much needs to be done in the Quarter.”

“And Octavia, Amelia, you would be willing to join us?” Eric asked.

“I certainly will. Amelia has a property in town, though.” Octavia said.

“I thought I’d do like Bill and split my time between them.” Amelia said.

Eric nodded as Alicia came in the kitchen. “Margaret and Alicia, you would be willing to relocate with us if I paid your expenses and provided room and board for you both?”

“Yes, I’d love that.” Alicia said.

“I can’t imagine not watching your little one grow up, Mr. Northman, of course I’ll be happy to go. I don’t have anything to keep me here, really.”

“Bobbie, you are agreed?”

“Yes.”

“And Bjorn?”

“Absolutely. I go where you go.”

“Alright then, Compton, when you reach New Orleans you begin the search for a suitable property and we’ll proceed from there. We’ll need room for everyone here, a nanny, gardeners, maybe security. It should be fenced off, well away from the road, guard stations, excellent security, garages, a swimming pool and if possible a small stable for a few horses and grooms to care for them but that’s negotiable. The swimming pool is not, right, Sookie?”

“Right, it’s not. I’m too spoiled now to live without one,” she laughed.

Margaret served up fried chicken for everyone with real whipped potatoes, green beans and cornbread while Alicia got RMs for Bill, Eric and Sookie, giving Sookie a sedative to take with her meal.

“Alicia, aren’t you eating?” Sookie asked.

“I was going to take my meal in back,” Alicia said.

“Don’t be silly, pull up a chair and sit down. You’re going to have to eat with us on this trip anyway, might as well start now.”

“Alright, dear, if you insist.”

“Margaret, this is the most amazing dinner! Baby E is doing a happy dance. I think he likes fried chicken.”

Everybody laughed and there was conversation all around the table as the humans ate. Sookie was watching everyone get along so well and beaming at her family, unaware that Eric was watching her. He knew this was what she wanted and he was happy to give it to her, this little family of Witches, Weres, Vampires and Fairies. This was the family she always dreamed of when she was a little girl, or as close to it as he could create. She was happy and that was all that mattered. The personal sun in his universe was shining and that was worth any price.

“OK, everyone it’s almost seven thirty, we have half an hour to pull ourselves together,” Alicia pointed out as the meal was dying down. Eric zipped upstairs to take his shower and Sookie and Alicia took the elevator up to the third floor. Guards went up to take bags downstairs for everyone on the second floor and Bill brought Bobbie’s and his own bags downstairs. He was going to see them off then head for his house, and leave for New Orleans the next night.

Eric came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and looked over the luggage that Sookie and Alicia were ready to close up. He was too busy looking at the clothes to notice that Sookie and Alicia were both flushed at the sight of his magnificent form in nothing but a towel. He approved the contents and complimented Sookie on the outfit she chose for him to travel in, dressed and he carried all the luggage downstairs to the living room. He came back for Sookie and Alicia followed them downstairs carrying Sookie’s computer bag, tote and sweater as well as Eric’s black jacket.

Alicia checked to see that her luggage was included in the stuff being loaded on the vans, and made one last check to be sure all of Sookie’s and Eric’s luggage was accounted for.

“Holy smoke!’ Sookie said when they stepped outside. There were 9 vehicles parked in the street, all of them part of their entourage. In addition to a courtesy car that would lead the entourage, there were 2 cars of guards, the luggage car, another car of guards, the huge fancy bus that would have the “royal entourage” in it, and 3 vans of guards behind them. “Eric, this can’t be real?”

“Yes, my Angel, it is real. This is the number we were advised to take with us.”

“It’s quite necessary, Sookie, I assure you,” Bill said.

“You two shouldn’t stand around out here,” Bjorn said and he ushered them onto the luxurious bus. He was in full security mode now, and he wasn’t going to listen to any arguments. His job was to get them from point A to point B in one piece and he had every intention of doing just that. He insisted that Eric and Sookie sit about half way back in the bus, one on each side of the aisle so neither was near a window. He got the rest of the party – Bobbie, Alicia, Amelia and Octavia – onto the bus and brought 2 guards in to man the rear of the bus while another two sat in front. All were armed. Bjorn sat in the seat immediately behind Sookie.

Sookie looked back. “My shadow, huh?”

“Yes, ma’am, every minute of the day for the next two weeks.”

Sookie looked at Eric, who smiled and nodded. He was taking no chances with her and the baby, and he had already told Bjorn not to compromise with her when it came to her safety. “Remember, Sookie, that your security is my job, and I have engaged Bjorn to see to you when I cannot. I want you to do what he says in matters of security, just as you would do as I say if I were with you. He will not compromise with you in these matters, by my order, so do not give the man a hard time.”

“Yes, Eric.” She looked at him with a little smile knowing it would remind him of their little games and he smiled and leaned back, holding her hand across the aisle.

Bjorn tapped the button on his Bluetooth headpiece. “Svenska 1 and 2 green.”

Sookie figured that must be she and Eric and green must mean they were secured and ready to roll, because all of the vehicles started up.

The trip to the Shreveport Regional airport wasn’t long, and Sookie heard Bjorn’s earpiece beep as they took the turn off to the airport.

“How many? Alright.”

Eric turned to him. “About 300, your majesty. We’re going to take you around to the private entrance.”

“Alright.”

“300 what?” Sookie asked.

“Fans.” Bjorn said.

“What? You’re telling me that there are 300 people at the airport waiting for us?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Sookie, sweetheart, as we go in, you get between me and Bjorn and you stay between us and keep your head down.” Eric was absolutely serious and it scared Sookie a little bit. “Everyone, listen to me. There are about 300 people gathered. We’re going to try to avoid them, but just in case, get in the center of the guards as they surround us and stay together.”

“Anderson.” Bjorn answered his head piece. “Yes. Yes, that would be best. Alright. Your majesty, they’re going to take us straight onto the tarmac and we’ll get your party on the plane before we take the luggage or load the guards”

“Good. I’d rather we keep Sookie away from the crowds altogether.”

“They’re moving what they call a tunnel to obscure sight of the stairs to the plane so we won’t be out in the open.”

“OK, good.”

The guard vehicles lead the way around and underneath a parking area and a locked gate was opened to let them onto the airfield. The bus the royal party was in pulled right up to the tunnel, which shielded them from sight as they went up the stairs of the plane. Eric picked Sookie up at the bottom of the stairs and carried her onto the plane as Bjorn boarded first, making sure everything on the plane was clear.

The stewardess stepped forward once Bjorn nodded, and Eric came up the steps and set Sookie down. “Welcome aboard, your majesty. Thank you for flying Anubis Airlines! If you’ll follow me,” she led the way to the front of the plane, Eric taking the lead and Sookie following him. They were seated in a group of very large, roomy seats and their party was seated with them. Sookie assumed the closer, smaller seats they walked past were for the guards traveling with them, and that turned out to be correct.

“Your majesty?”

A tall man in a uniform offered Eric his hand and Eric shook it. “You are King Eric Northman? I’m Captain Perkins. I’ll be your pilot today. I just wanted to welcome you and your lovely Queen,” he nodded to Sookie and she smiled at him, “and let you know it’s a fine clear night and we don’t anticipate any problems.”

“Alright, thank you, Captain.” Eric was being a bit formal but Sookie figured that was called for under the circumstances. Eric sat down, and pointed to the window, “Sookie, look out there.”

She looked and there were hundreds of people up against a fence screaming and waving, trying to get on the tarmac, some of them with signs that said Eric or Sookie or other things.

“No way!” She said, her mouth falling open.

“There will be more in Las Vegas at the airport and at the residence, your majesty.” Bjorn added from his seat right behind Sookie.

“What’s wrong with those people?” Sookie asked no one in particular and Eric and Bjorn, Amelia, Alicia and Bobbie, the ones who heard her, cracked up. Octavia was already leaning back in her seat relaxing. The luggage was loaded so the back of the plane was filling up with security guards.

Alicia leaned forward with an RM and a tranquilizer for Sookie. “It might be best if you lean back a while, dear, and rest.”

“She’s right, Sookie, you should,” Bobbie agreed.

“We haven’t taken her blood pressure today – think I should check it before we take off?” Bjorn asked Bobbie and Alicia.

“No, you should not.” Sookie said, “You can take it when we get to the residence. We’ll be there in less than three hours. I’ll be fine until then.”

Everyone laughed at Sookie being so adamant, and Eric put his arm around her and kissed her on the head. Once they were in the air, she did lean back and was asleep in no time.

“Sookie, Dear One, wake up.” Eric had his arm around her and was speaking to her softly.

“Hm?”

“Wake up, my Angel, we are in Las Vegas.”

“Already?”

“Yes, my Angel, you slept through the entire trip.”

“Oh, OK. How long till we’re at the residence?”

“About 45 minutes.”

“Are we staying in the same rooms?”

“No, Sookie, we own it now, remember? We will stay in the Master Suite. Wake up, Lover, we need to go to the cars now.”

“No more Creepy Felipe.”

“Sookie? Sookie?” He shook her but she wasn’t waking up. “Alicia, what did you give her earlier?”

“One of the milder sedatives.”

“I can’t seem to wake her. I don’t know if she’s just tired or if something is wrong.” Eric said. “Are you sure it was not a Soma?”

“Absolutely sure.”

“Bjorn, check her blood pressure,” Bobbie suggested.

Bjorn got the blood pressure cuff out of his bag and put it on her. “It’s low – low enough to make her feel faint. It’s only 90/60.” He bent down and looked at her legs, “Her legs are swollen. She’s pooling blood in her legs and probably dehydrated.”

“What do we do?” Eric was really worried now.

“Well, first, know that this is not as dangerous as high blood pressure, and it’s not likely to give her serious complications as long as we get her blood moving.”

“Alright, then what?”

“I think Bobbie should come in the limo with us and rub her legs while we drive the 45 minutes. That may help with the swelling and get her blood pumping. We need to get her to drink some water and if we can’t we might have to call Dr. Ludwig when we get to the residence so she can give her an IV.”

“Alright, water.” Eric looked at the stewardess who came to see if there was a problem. She returned with it quickly, opening it and putting a straw in it. Eric took it and shook Sookie again. “Sookie, listen to me. I want you to drink some water.”

“Um-hm.”

He held the straw to her lips and she managed to drink some through the straw. She put her head on his shoulder and he gently shook her again, “Sookie, drink more for me, sweetheart.” He put the straw to her lips and she drank more this time and began to sit up a little straighter. “That’s my good girl, try to drink more, Sookie.” She managed to drain the bottle that time, and said “More.”

The stewardess quickly got another bottle and while she was drinking that she got a cup of ice and a wet washcloth. “Rub a little ice on her wrists and try a cool cloth on her face. I think she’ll come around then. Does she have a doctor she can see when you get to your destination?” Bjorn took the ice and rubbed Sookie’s wrists

“Yes, thank you, we’ll talk to her doctor when we get her home tonight.” Eric patted her face lightly with the washcloth and she was opening her eyes.

“What’s going on?” Sookie asked.

“We’ve been trying to wake you, Sookie, but you wouldn’t open your eyes. How are you feeling?”

“I’m OK – tired, maybe.”

“Alright, try to finish this bottle of water.” Eric kissed her head and rested his cheek against it as he held the water bottle for her.

“Your majesty? We’re about to land,” The stewardess said.

“Alright then, thank you for your help. Bjorn you can sit down and we’ll have Bobbie work on her legs in the car.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

They landed easily and the Vegas airport was larger than the one in Shreveport so there was a walkway that attached to the door of the plane. They were led into the airport by a representative, surrounded by their guards, who led them all to a VIP lounge where they waited as their cars were brought to an entrance away from the front of the building. Eric, Sookie, Bjorn and Bobbie got into a huge limousine, while Amelia, Octavia and Alicia got into another right behind it. The other guards were piled into a series of town cars that were arranged on all sides of the limos, plus there were additional guards from the Las Vegas kingdom assigned to the caravan. As they started to pull away from the building the largest limo was mobbed by fans who apparently figured out what was going on.

“Eric, what’s happening?” Sookie was scared, hearing people knock on the windows and scream her name as well as Eric’s.

“They found us. Driver, keep these vehicles moving.”

“Yes, your majesty.”

The car moved slowly at first, but it moved and eventually some of the guards in the back cars were able to clear the mob so the limo could move. Amelia, Octavia and Alicia were amazed at the frenzy.

“Your majesty?” The driver spoke to Eric.

“Yes?”

“They just sent word that there are around a thousand people outside the gates of the residence, so be prepared for that. There are guards on site and more on the way, and some of the guards with us are going to pull ahead and try to get them under control so we can get through the gates.”

“Alright, thank you.”

“Wow,” Bobbie laughed, sitting opposite the back seat as she rubbed Sookie’s legs. Bjorn was beside her, scanning traffic all around them.

“Bjorn,” Eric asked, “do you think our security is adequate?”

“Probably, but that’s all it is. I’m glad we decided to double it. We couldn’t have handled that mob at the airport with fewer than we have now. We may need to have extra for New Orleans, considering how they are about Vampires.

“I can’t believe that all of that was for Eric?” Sookie was amazed.

“For both of you, your majesty. You are the most popular royal couple in Vampire history.” Bjorn said. “Everybody wants to see the two of you and they’re wild about the prospect of a Vampire Prince.

“Those weren’t all Vampires, though?” Sookie couldn’t wrap her mind around this.

“No, actually very few of them were. Most of them were human. Vampires are as interested as anyone, but they won’t show it the way a human will. Plus, most of the Vampires will see you at the Sheriff’s Ball Saturday night. They say that’s the hottest ticket in town right now. Celebrities, politicians, even some human royals are scrambling to find tickets. Someone had a pair on eBay for forty-five thousand dollars.” Bjorn explained. “I hope the Las Vegas office was able to find at least one female guard for you for Saturday night. New Orleans is trying to find a couple, too, for that event. Otherwise, I’ll be throwing ladies out of the ladies’ rooms whenever you need to go,” he laughed, “And before you argue, Sookie, yes, it is absolutely necessary. Even the well-wishers can be dangerous to you in your condition if they get over-excited. We can’t take any chances.”

She looked helplessly at Eric.

“That is the price you pay for being such a beautiful and gracious Queen, my Angel.” He kissed her, “Everyone wants to meet you. I expect you to get a lot of sleep this week so you are up to handling Saturday night. Many will want to pledge fealty as they did at our reception. There may be presents as well, so that’s something to look forward to.”

“There’s an explosives expert out of Reno that is going to be there to check the packages. They’ve already been screening the ones sent in advance and they expect many more the night of the event,” Bjorn added.

“Wow, Sookie, more presents. I’ll bet you get tons of stuff for the baby,” Bobbie laughed.

“Great, more presents.”

“Oh, come on, Sookie, you had a blast seeing what you got the last time.”

“Yeah, that’s true. I hope the baby gets some stuffed animals. He’s only got a few so far and I want him to have a whole plushy jungle,” Sookie laughed.

“Plushy?” Eric was amused at that word.

“Yeah, you know, plush – they’re really soft and cuddly. Babies love them.”

“Sounds like mommy likes them, too, little one.”

“Yeah, I do. I didn’t have a lot of them when I was little and I always swore to myself that my kids would have a room full of soft animals to roll around in.”

Bjorn laughed and shook his head.

“What’s so funny, Bjorn?” Sookie teased him.

“It’s hard to think of you as somebody’s mother when you’re such a little girl yourself. I know you can be a badass when you need to, but no one would ever guess that from your demeanor.”

Eric laughed at that and Sookie looked at him with an exaggerated expression of exasperation. “My little Angel,” Eric said, “badass Queen Sookie.” He laughed and everyone else did, too. He put his arm around her and kissed her sweetly. “We are almost home, my dear,” he told her as he smoothed her hair back.

“Home?” She said.

“Technically, yes, this is our home now. You own it, and everyone here works at your pleasure so you don’t be intimidated by any of them, and you tell them to do whatever you want, the way you want it done, when you want it done, alright?”

“I guess.”

“I mean that, Sookie. If you want furniture moved or something purchased, or any little thing that suits you, then you have it done, alright? You don’t need to wait for my permission. I want you to promise me though that you won’t get out of bed tomorrow except to go to the bathroom. Everything else can wait a day while you rest. I’m afraid this trip has been too much for you and you must rest.”

“I can’t hang around the pool?”

“Not tomorrow, my sweet. You can play in the pool Wednesday after you’ve had a day in bed.”

“Remember what we talked about, Sookie? Have them do that Wednesday as a treat, then you’ll have something to look forward to.” Bobbie suggested.

“Yeah, let’s do that. And Eric, I want Bjorn to be allowed to play in the pool with us.”

Eric laughed. “Bjorn, on Wednesday you can wear your swim trunks and play in the swimming pool with the girls as long as you keep your eyes open. Alright, Sookie?”

“Alright, thank you. You did bring some swimming trunks, right, Bjorn?”

“Yes, your majesty, I did. What exactly do you two have cooked up for Wednesday?”

“A cook-out by the pool – grilled lobsters and clams, corn on the cob, and all that.” Sookie was almost baby talking because she was excited about it. “You like lobster, right?”

“Yes, ma’am, I do,” Bjorn smiled at her.

“Cool, and I want them swimming in butter. When we were here for the wedding, they cooked outside for us a couple of times when we spent all day in the pool. It was really fun. It’s a gorgeous pool. They had big tubs of drinks for us and tables with umbrellas.”

“Don’t you have all that at home?” he asked.

“Yeah, but I’ve been in bed all the time and we haven’t had as much fun as I wanted. I want to have fun this week since we won’t have the residence long. It’s like having a huge hotel all to ourselves.”

“I’m sorry you feel you aren’t having enough fun, Sookie,” Eric said, “but there will be plenty of summer left after the baby is born and then you will be out in the pool all you want, alright?”

“Alright. I know it’s all for the good of the baby. I just hate missing so much of the summer. I barely even have a tan this year.”

“You’ll make up for that this week, I’m sure – as long as you use the wheel chair to get around the residence.”

“You won’t need to worry about that, Eric.” Bobbie assured him, “Between me, Alicia, Bjorn and especially Octavia, she won’t get away with much. Octavia won’t take any bullshit when it comes to the health of that baby.”

“One of the reasons I like having her around,” Eric agreed. “I think she has a better idea of what he needs than any of us.”

“I think you’re probably right about that. You can tell she knows a lot about everything.” Bjorn laughed. “You’d never know it to look at her – she looks like someone’s grandmother, but she’s a grandmother that could kick all our asses if she felt like it.”

Everyone laughed and pretty much agreed.

“Here we are, your majesty.” The driver said. The gates to the residence had rope lines and lines of guards holding crowds of people back from the roads. There was a paddy wagon and there were four LVPD cars with lights spinning and a TV crew talking to people in the crowd.

Sookie helped Eric slip into the black blazer Alicia had brought for him, but she wasn’t sure why he’d put it on now.

“Holy shit! There’s a news crew out there! And Las Vegas PD!” Bobbie told them. Bjorn wanted Eric and Sookie to stay in the middle of the seat as far away from the windows as possible. The crowd started screaming as the limousine came into view and people were jumping up and down, waving signs, screaming for Eric and Sookie.

“I want to watch the news tomorrow to see if they say anything about this.” Sookie said.

“I’ll find the Vegas news on your laptop. That says KVBC News 3. We’ll look for them when we get inside.” Bobbie told her.

“I can’t believe there are so many people out there at this time of night!” Sookie said.

“It looks like Fangtasia threw up – almost all of them are wearing black, in the middle of the desert!” Bobbie laughed.

Bjorn was very tense, watching everything around them as the limo pulled through the gates. Once all the vehicles were through, the crowd broke through the lines and crowded up against the closed gates, hoping to get a glimpse of Eric and Sookie. The front door was open and Eric zipped out, pulling Sookie out of the car and carrying her inside at Vampire speed as Bjorn followed watching all around them as he backed into the front entrance. Bobbie got out once Bjorn was in the door, then that limo drove away and guards helped Amelia, Octavia and Alicia out of their car and into the house. Sandy and the night staff were waiting in the huge entry hall, all lined up and ready for inspection, or something like that, Sookie thought.

“Your majesty” Sandy nodded.

“Hello, Sandy. This is the night crew, I take it?” Eric was being formal again, and Sookie realized he put the jacket on to look more business-like when he was introduced to the staff. There were about 50 of them in various uniforms and a dozen in business attire.

“Yes, sire. I wanted them all to see you and the Queen so they would know you on sight.”

“Good, good. I would speak to them?”

“Of course, your majesty.”

The staff all stood up very straight, in awe of this huge, powerful and handsome Vampire. They would speak later amongst themselves of how commanding and beautiful he was and how quiet and sweet his Queen.

“Hello, everyone, I am Eric Northman, your new master. I’m pleased to meet you all. I’d like to introduce my wife to you,” he put his arm around Sookie and she gave them a little wave. “This is Sookie Northman, your new Queen. No doubt some of you remember her from our wedding in May. She’s a little shy, so she may hesitate to ask for what she wants, so you make sure you try to anticipate her needs and go the extra mile for her since she won’t want to ask too much of you. When I am at rest, her word is law. When I am awake only I may overrule anything she says, and I trust her implicitly. When you speak to her, you are speaking to me. When you serve her, you are serving me.

These are her friends, Amelia and Octavia. They are to be treated as members of the royal family. This is Sookie’s maid Alicia, and you are to cooperate with her completely since her sole responsibility is Sookie’s care. This is the Queen’s doula, Bobbie and the Queen’s Personal Body Guard, Bjorn. They will be with her most of the time and they are to have your full cooperation as well. I’ll be evaluating all your salaries and positions while I am here. I will tell you now – I pay very well and expect excellent service. Fail to meet my expectations and I will pay someone else very well to do what you would not. Any questions?”

No one dared speak to him, and Sandy was proud that they were making a good show for him. Northman was doing a fantastic job establishing his authority. She knew they would speak of this for weeks. Having his support would only enhance her own influence with them.

“Very well, then. You are dismissed, all except those of you needed to get us settled into our rooms. I’d like a light meal made available as soon as possible for our guests and staff, and my wife will need a nourishing supper so begin this immediately. Thank you.”

The staff bowed and curtsied in unison then scampered away to do whatever they were supposed to do. The kitchen staff already had a light meal ready at Sandy’s instruction and the captain of the guard was seeing to their feeding and lodging. Luggage was rapidly being taken in via the utility elevator. Eric carried Sookie up the large stairs as the rest of his group followed him, Bjorn staying right at his side. Sandy led them to the left this time, since they were staying in the Master Suite. She opened a set of double doors, and two of Eric’s guards stationed themselves outside of them. They were in a huge living area upholstered in rich red velvet and black leather upholstery. There were 2 big screen TVs couches and chairs, a huge fireplace and a formal dining room off to the side. Sandy led them down a hallway. There was a large suite on the left first that Octavia and Amelia were directed to. It was actually a large suite of rooms with its own living area, dining area, kitchenette and three separate bedrooms. Octavia and Amelia each had a private bedroom and a luxurious private bath within it.

Further down the hallway were four servant’s rooms. One was assigned to Bobbie and the two closest, which faced each other, were assigned to Bjorn and Alicia. Even the servant’s rooms were large and extravagant, every room having a full private bath, sitting and sleeping areas, and a mini kitchen in one wall with a table and chairs for four people.

At the end of the hall was the master suite, which Sookie calculated was bigger than her house in Bon Temps. There was a large living room here, a full dining room and kitchen, a huge bedroom with a king-sized or bigger canopy bed and two luxurious coffins on marble stands behind red velvet curtains. The bathroom was the size of a living room and the tub would easily hold 8 people. Eric wiggled his eyebrows at Sookie when he saw the tub and made her giggle.

“You can put me down any time now, Eric,” she teased him.

“But I like the feel of you in my arms,” he purred as she kissed him and laughed.

Sandy pointed out the intercom on the night stands and in the bathroom and explained that there were buttons for Bjorn, Alicia, Bobbie, Sandy’s office and the kitchen, all labeled for them and operable and she assured them that someone would be in the office and the kitchen any time of the day or night and they shouldn’t hesitate to call for anything they wanted.

“Thank you, Sandy. I think we’ll try to get settled now.”

“Yes, your majesty,” Sandy bowed and left the room.

Eric put Sookie gently down on the bed and kissed her. “Wow, this bed seems bigger than ours.”

“Maybe it is? I thought mine was the largest made, but I almost think we could bring a few friends into this one.” He wiggled his eyebrows again and Sookie laughed.

“I should go see if everyone is happy with their rooms,” Sookie said, wanting to play hostess.

“No, you should stay in this bed. I’m going to have your dinner brought in on a tray.

There was a knock at the door. “Come in!” Sookie called.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Northman, would you like us to put your wardrobe in place?” Alicia asked, standing there with two of the housemaids.

Sookie looked at Eric and he nodded, “Yes, Alicia, go ahead and get her things settled. Sookie is to stay in this bed, though, until I get back. I’m going to go check on the others so she won’t feel she needs to.”

“Yes, sir,” she smiled at him, loving the way he cared for Sookie so thoughtfully.

Eric went out to the hallway and checked in on Bjorn first, “All is well?”

“Yes, your majesty, very nice accommodations.”

“Did they warn you about the intercom?”

“Yes, your majesty, you tell the Queen not to hesitate to call me anytime she needs me.”

“Alright, thank you. They should be bringing food for you all soon. I still want you to stay close to Sookie tomorrow.”

“Yes, sir.”

He knocked on Bobbie’s door.

“Come in!” Bobbie called.

“Hello, Bobbie?” Eric replied opening the door.

“Oh, hi – I didn’t expect you!”

“Sookie wanted to check on everyone but I wouldn’t let her so I’m making sure you are all satisfied with your accommodations. Are you satisfied?”

“Very – there’s even a massage chair in here I can use for Sookie. This is a very nice room.”

“Alright, remember there will be food for you soon. Good night,”

“Thanks, Eric.”

Eric went down to the guest suite and looked into the living area. No one was there so he walked in and called “Hello?”

Amelia looked out the door first. “Hey, Eric. What’s up?”

“Sookie wanted to make sure everyone is satisfied with their rooms. Are you?” he laughed.

“I’m great. This suite is amazing. It’s like a house, within a house, within a house.”

“Alright, I’m glad to know you are pleased. Remember there will be food soon.”

“Well, hello, Mr.!” Octavia was surprised to see Eric. He bowed to her.

“Octavia – is everything to your satisfaction?”

“Yes, this is a beautiful room. Thank you so much!”

“Alright, now if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask. I told them to treat you and Amelia as family and that’s exactly what I expect from them, so please feel at home and be comfortable. There will be servants nearby most of the time and you feel free to use them, alright?”

“Alright, I will.”

“Good. There will be food you all soon, and if I don’t see you until tomorrow night, have a pleasant day tomorrow, ladies!”

“Thank you, Eric!” Amelia called

“Yes, thank you so much!” Octavia couldn’t believe she was staying in a room like this, let alone a house like this. This was some good company she was keeping these days, even if he was a Vampire.

Eric found his way back to Sookie, who was already in her nightgown, finishing her dinner and drinking an RM while Alicia and the maids finished with her clothing, jewels, makeup, toiletries and accessories. Eric’s things had been unpacked and put away as well.

“Excellent! I thought you would insist on eating with your friends.”

“I could put on a robe…?” she said pleadingly.

“Nice try. No. You are exactly where you will be for the next 24 hours. The only reason you get off that bed is to use the bathroom and then right back you go.” Eric said as he took off his jacket and Alicia hung it up for him. “Tomorrow night we’ll try out that gigantic bathtub and you’ll go to sleep early, then you can have your little cook out Wednesday and we’ll see how that goes. Did you tell Alicia what you wanted for Wednesday?”

“No, I forgot.”

“What do you need, dear?”

“She would like a cook-out by the pool Wednesday with grilled lobsters, clams, corn on the cob and other summery treats and the lobsters should be swimming in butter. Is that it, Sookie?”

“OH, watermelon!”

“And watermelon. She will be playing in the pool all day and you are welcome to join her, if you’d like, Alicia – you can let the household staff handle this for you. Wednesday will be a break for you if you want.”

“Oh, well, that might be fun.”

“Oh, yay! I hope Octavia will swim, too.” Sookie was overjoyed at the idea of Alicia swimming with them.

“Well, I have an extra suit if she needs one and we’ll see if we can get her to join us, OK?” Alicia loved the idea of loafing for a day by the pool. She was hoping Eric would give her some time off during the week.

“Sookie will need you to dress her on Thursday night and Saturday night, but other than that, you can take your evenings off, Alicia. You feel free to have one of the cars take you into town if there’s anything you want to do. We’ll all probably move to the Bellagio on Friday and be there for the ball.”

“Oh, that sounds nice. If you don’t mind, I might try to go to a show Wednesday and Friday.”

“Alright, if you need tickets, tell the office here and I’ll make sure you have lots of money to spend and gamble with.” Eric winked at her and smiled.

“Oh, thank you!”

“Hey, I thought we were having dinner with the Mayor tomorrow night?” Sookie asked.

“We changed that to Thursday because it was too close to travel. I wanted you to have this time to spend in bed. We’ll take it easy Wednesday night, go out Thursday, move to the Bellagio Friday since you’ll be up early that day, and have dinner there, then the Ball is Saturday, you’ll have Sunday off and Monday to shop and then Tuesday we go to New Orleans.”

Alicia was listening carefully so she’d know what the plan was, though she did have a printed itinerary.

“Where are we staying in New Orleans?” Sookie asked.

“Victor’s residence. I offered it to Bill, but he thinks for this trip it’s the best place for us to stay. It’s not nearly as luxurious as this, of course, but there’s room for all of us and it’s near the Quarter. By the way, Sookie, there’s a Vampire parade in our honor Wednesday night in the Quarter.”

“Oohh!” Alicia loved the idea of that.

“You’re kidding! For us?”

“For us. Imagine all those people outside the gate lining the streets in the Quarter waiting to see us. We’ll be riding a float and Bill said they’re making a special gown for you.”

“Yes, we’ll have to check it first thing Tuesday night in case it needs altering.” Alicia said.

“You knew about this, Alicia?”

“Yes, dear, I had to give Bill your measurements for the dress. He said you’ll look like a beautiful mermaid, covered in sequins.”

“Oh my Goddess.”

“Exactly, Sookie,” Eric laughed.

“What time is on Wednesday?”

“Midnight.”

“People have to work though so it won’t be big, right?”

“It won’t be as big as Mardi Gras, but Star Magazine did a story about it so it will be pretty big. All the news stations are covering it.”

“I’m so glad I brought that new camera you bought me,” Alicia said to Eric.

“You bought Alicia a camera?”

“Yes, the same time I bought yours, but yours is on backorder so I didn’t tell you about it yet,” he laughed.

“Whoops!” Alicia said.

“No big deal.” Eric assured her. “I told her a while ago I’d get her one before the baby comes.”

“Oh, good, I thought I spoiled the surprise.”

“Not at all.”

“And we agreed to be in this parade why?” Sookie said

“Because it will generate interest in the fundraiser for the reconstruction. We’ll have security everywhere, sweetheart, and the New Orleans PD will be working with us.”

“Somebody just took a shot at us, Eric.”

“True, but we’ll have snipers on the rooftops and air cover from Vampire guards. It’s going to be a positive thing, Sookie – it’s turning into a sort of Vampire Pride parade. The community is buzzing about it. I know it will be a little effort for you getting up so early on those two Fridays, but…”

“Whoa, wait – why am I getting up early on these two Fridays,”

“For Good Morning Las Vegas and then Good Morning New Orleans” he said as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Alicia turned her back trying not to laugh.

“I’m doing what?” Sookie was aghast.

“You are going on their Good Morning programs to talk about the events. The Sheriff’s Ball here and then the fundraiser in New Orleans.”

“You want me to go on TV, BY MYSELF, without you? To talk about Vampire events?”

“Yes, my Angel, you are the hostess of both events, so who better to talk about them?” He was being careful not to laugh. He knew he was springing this on her sort of last minute but not so last minute that she wouldn’t have time to prepare.

“Eric Northman!”

“Yes, my Angel”

“If you…. If I …. You could not possibly have done this to me!”

“No one has done anything to you, sweetheart, you simply have a couple of early appointments to keep in your office as Queen.” It was taking everything in him not to laugh at her indignance. He knew very well that she would pitch a small fit and then she’d come to terms with it and then she would rise to the occasion and charm the hell out of everyone. He had no doubt of this.

“What if I say something stupid? Or I let some Vampire secret slip out? Or they ask me something I don’t know?”

“You will be sweet and charming as you always are. Ms. Stevens will work with you this week in helping you prepare. By the time you go on TV you will know more about these events than any other living soul. She’ll begin working with you tomorrow while you are in bed with nothing to do, and Alicia will help you, won’t you. Alicia?”

“Oh, of course I will.”

“What the hell am I going to wear?”

“Language, Sookie, language. Alicia will take a car into town tomorrow and find something charming and regal and feminine. You can bring several outfits Alicia and let her try them on and we’ll have the staff here return the ones she doesn’t like, She’ll need at least two, but you might want to have an extra in case she gets a daytime invitation in New Orleans. Bill seems to think some of the ladies’ clubs might be interested in having her attend a tea or card party, whatever those are.”

“They’re things Southern society ladies do. I’ll have to teach Sookie about debutants and cotillions so she’ll understand what they’re talking about. We’ll need to go over a little etiquette, too.”

“Better go ahead and do that, just in case.”

“Ok, big shot,” Sookie started and Eric raised an eyebrow at her tone. “What if they ask me how a Vampire managed to knock me up?”

Eric was not at all pleased now. “Alicia, that will be all for tonight. You have a lot to do tomorrow.”

“Yes, sir, goodnight.” Alicia got the hell out because she knew Eric was angry.

Eric’s voice was soft, but very stern as he sat on her side of the bed and looked her right in the eye. “Is this the way a good wife speaks to her husband in front of the help? Is this how a Queen speaks to her King?”

Sookie swallowed hard. She crossed the line and she knew it. “No, Eric, I’m sorry.”

“I thought you wanted me to be proud of you?” He wasn’t blinking at all.

“I do, Eric, I just…”

“You just think cursing and sassing me in front of your servant is going to make me proud?”

“No, I’m just freaked out.”

“I understand that, and I understand that I am expecting you to do something you have never done before. If I did not think you could handle it, I would never have agreed. You are perfectly capable of doing this and doing it very well. I have shown faith in you to do what your position as Queen requires, and you have answered me with disrespect. Is that what you intended?”

“No, Eric.”

“Shall I punish you for the second night in a row?”

She was crying silently but she didn’t say anything.

“Answer me.”

“No, Eric, I won’t do it again.”

“I’m not convinced. Lie down and go to sleep. I have work to do. I’ll see you at 4:00 and tell you if and how you are to be punished.” He turned the light off and walked out of the room without another word.

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