LATE Chapter 064

 

Sookie’s Seafood Feast

 

“ENTER!” Eric called to the knock at he door as he leaned on his elbow talking to Sookie. He quickly covered her up as she moved into her place on the wedge pillow.

“Excuse us, your majesty, we have the Queen’s supper.” The maid was a young Native American woman and a Vampire. Eric was somewhat surprised to see a Vampire servant here. She was accompanied by two boys in their late teens whom he assumed were part-time help.

“You may serve her here in bed.” Eric indicated Sookie and she brought Sookie’s tray to settle it over her lap. The boys had several RMs for them and one of them restocked the little fridge while the other hung up Eric’s and Sookie’s travel clothes which had been cleaned and pressed.

“Thank you!” Sookie thanked the girl and smiled sweetly, “This looks really good. Tell the chef I said thanks, OK?”

“Yes, your majesty. If you’d like dessert, there’s a beautiful chocolate cake and and the cook said she could make you homemade ice cream very easily since she’s practicing for your cook out tomorrow.”

“Oh, that sounds yummy! I’d love some cake and ice cream, it it’s not too much trouble.”

“Not at all, your majesty, we’ll be back with it in about 30 minutes.” The girl curtsied and shooed the boys, who were in awe of how big Eric was and how beautiful and sweet Sookie was, out of the room. They would talk for days about the fact that the Queen was naked under the covers and the King had obviously just enjoyed her.

“You don’t mind if I have some cake, do you, Sweetie?”

“Of course not, Sookie. I know you need to put on some weight and I discovered that cake contains eggs and milk that are good for the baby. And, it turns out that chocolate is actually very good for you as long as there is a lot of cocoa and not too much fat.”

“Huh? I didn’t know chocolate was good for you. I just knew it makes your brain release the same chemicals it does when you’re in love or you have an orgasm or something like that.”

“That I did not know – now I understand why women love it so much. Most women in this culture are starved for orgasms. Americans think of themselves as progressive but they’re really very puritanical.”

“I never really thought about it – I was raised kind of strict I guess and Bon Temps is pretty conservative.”

Eric was watching her closely as he pursued the subject of her childhood. He had a feeling there was something about Sookie’s past that he needed to know that would explain her clinginess the night before. “You know, Lover, all I know of your childhood is that your parents died when you were young and your grandmother raised you.”

“There’s not really much to tell. I spent a lot of time alone because of my disability. People were a little bit afraid of me. School was a nightmare – all those chaotic voices in my head. It was impossible to concentrate. Gran taught me how to read and I sort of educated myself.”

“Sookie, did anything… traumatic… ever happen when you were a little girl?”

Sookie bit her lip and looked down at her tray. He could see in her face something was there, and whatever it was, it was big. Her whole demeanor changed almost the instant the question left his lips – it was almost like she was closing in on herself.

“Sookie, you know you can tell me anything, don’t you?” He spoke softly and stroked her cheek.

“Yeah, it’s just… it’s hard to talk about.” She was staring at her glass of milk, tipping it back and forth, avoiding his gaze.

“How old were you when this thing happened, Dear One?”

“It started when I was 5.”

“You were very small. It started then – so this happened more than once?”

“Yeah, several times over a couple of years.” She was sort of stabbing at her chicken as she looked down.

He reached over and took her hand. “Sookie, whatever it is, it’s alright now. It’s never going to happen again. Please tell me what happened so I can share it with you. You don’t have to carry it alone anymore, Lover. I need to know about something this important.”

She was chewing on her lower lip and it was obvious she wasn’t going to eat anymore, so he set the tray on the floor beside the bed and pulled her into his arms. “Sookie, did I do anything that reminded you of what happened to you then?”

“No, I don’t think so.” She snuggled her cheek against his chest.

He kissed her forehead and squeezed her tight. “Tell me what happened, my Angel,” he whispered very softly to her.

“My Gran’s brother, Uncle Bartlett… he…molested me. He told me if I ever told anyone what he was doing that my parents would die. When I was seven, I told my Gran and she ran him off and then right around that time, my parents died in a flash flood.”

“And because you were small, you thought that you made it happen?”

“Sort of… I mean, I know better now, but…”

“But you associate punishment with abandonment and loss.”

“I don’t know,” she looked up at him, “do I?”

“I think that may be what happened. That may be why you were afraid for me to leave you yesterday. I couldn’t understand it at the time, but I knew you were in a complete panic when you were asking me to stay. It wasn’t rational and I didn’t know of any emotional trauma to account for it – but I do now, and I’m sorry I triggered that for you, sweetheart. I would never have done that if I had known.”

“I’m sorry I never told you. I just… I want to forget it, but it never really goes away.”

“What happened to this Uncle? Is he alive?”

“No, I told Bill about this when we… had sex the first time, and he killed him.”

“If Bill had not done so, I would have.” He smoothed her hair back from her face and stroked her cheek. “No one will ever harm you again, my Angel.”

“I never intended for Bill to do that. I just… when my brother invited Uncle Bartlett to my Gran’s funeral, it stirred everything up and I had to talk about it. I was so relieved I was even able to have sex – I always thought I wouldn’t be able to stand it. I haven’t spoken about it at all since he died. I just try not to think about it.”

“Your brother invited him to the funeral? Did he know what he had done to you?”

“I thought he did, but he either didn’t believe it or he forgot.”

“Your brother is not an evil person, Sookie, but he has never been a proper brother to you. He should be the first person to protect you from a person like that, not the one who brings him back into your life.”

“It caused a lot of hard feelings between us as far as I was concerned. I didn’t think I’d ever forgive him.”

There was as knock at the door. “Enter”

“The Queen’s dessert, your majesty.”

“Yes, thank you!” He knew she would love this.

“Oh, it looks so good! Thank you so much!” Sookie was like a little girl sometimes when it came to food and he loved to watch her indulge herself. It was on a full size dinner plate, and in addition to a giant piece of dark chocolate cake and fresh ice cream, there were whipped cream, nuts and a cherry on top. Eric sat up next to her, looking at the dessert with great interest. He pointed to the cake.

“That is the chocolate?”

“Yes, it’s chocolate cake. Want to try a bite? You haven’t tried eating anything for a while.”

“Yes, I think I would like a taste.”

Sookie scooped up a huge bite of cake and swirled it in the ice cream and whipped cream. She fed it to him and his eyes got big. “Mmm- this is wonderful. It’s almost as sweet as you are, Sookie!” and he was completely serious.”

“And you don’t feel sick?”

“Not at all. May I have another bite?”

“Sure,” she fed him another big bite and he lay back, savoring it. “Mmm, I can see why women like this. It has a richness to it and it is very creamy. Children like such things, too, yes?”

“Yeah, that’s every kid’s dream to get a big plate of cake and ice cream.”

“If our son eats food, I only want him to have such things occasionally. I don’t want him to be fat.”

“Well, neither one of us is fat, so he probably won’t be. And if he’s as active as everyone thinks he will be, he’ll be able to eat a lot and stay thin. I know you talked to Bjorn about nutrition and all, and that’s fine up to a point, but I want him to have fun, too. He’ll be a better warrior if he gets to be a kid sometimes.”

“Yes, of course, Sookie. We don’t need to be extreme. Even Bjorn said there should be some moderation so he is well-rounded and has a variety of abilities and experiences.”

“OK, good. As long as he gets to have some fun.”

“Sookie, think of the little boys you have known. How many of them would have given anything to be able to fight with swords?”

“OK, good point, but remember there’s a reason people don’t let little boys play with swords.”

“Of course, Sookie. I don’t want him to get hurt, either.”

“OK, ’cause the Goddess picked us BOTH to be his parents so he needs some of my influence, too.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, my Angel. He will most definitely need all the love and adoration you have for him and a boy should know that his mother loves him above all else and will spoil him rotten,” he assured her.

“OK, just so we’re clear on that. He might be YOUR SON but he’s always going to be MY BABY.”

Eric laughed and kissed her shoulder. “The lioness defending her cub. I love it when you put your foot down, my beautiful Goddess.”

“You love me when I’m strong, you love me when I’m submissive… what don’t you love?” She teased him.

“I love every aspect of you, Sookie. You have great strength and goodness in you. Sex play is meant to be exotic and extreme as well as fun and romantic. I like to think our relationship is bigger than most – we reach farther in every direction than most people do. We are big personalities, both of us, and we live a big life. I would never want you to be just one way or another and if you were honest with yourself, you would not want me to be less than I am, either. You like the extremes of my personality – the cruel and intense as well as the romantic and playful.” He said as he nuzzled her ear.

“Yes, I admit it, I do. You’re never boring.” She laughed as she took another huge bite of cake. “I like it when you push my boundaries, even if it hurts or it’s embarrassing for a little while. Honestly, I know I was supposed to grow up and be a good girl and marry a guy who would go to church with me on Sundays and raise some kids but that was never going to be me. Even if guys like that had liked me, I’d have been bored in no time. I’d hear the other waitresses at Merlotte’s talking about their husbands or boyfriends cheating on them or just lying on the couch swilling beer, and the lousy sex and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a damned thing.”

Eric laughed at that.

“Let’s face it – it’s true,” she said. “I was made for you and you were made for me. We belong together. Nobody else would be able to keep up with either one of us.” She laughed and he dipped a finger in the whipped cream and touched it to her nose.

“Exactly. Three normal women could not satisfy me as you do and you would never be satisfied with a human man or even a much younger Vampire or a Were.”

Sookie handed him the plate and he put it over on the dresser then came back, dropped his robe and lay down on his side of the bed. As soon as he was settled, Sookie straddled him and ran her hands over his chest. “I love the feel of your skin, and your muscles, and your arms,” she was going slowly, touching and teasing him and he was loving it. “And I love your abs and your hipbones och din kuk är så stor, och jag älskar den.”

“Sookie!”

“What?”

“What did you just say?”

“I said your cock is so big and I love it.”

“Yes, but you said it in Swedish.”

“What?”

“You spoke perfect Swedish!”

“Eric, I don’t speak a word of Swedish. I wish I could since you always speak it during sex. Bobbie and I were going to look some stuff up on the Internet but we never did it.”

“Sookie, I know what I heard. You spoke Swedish.”

“Yeah, right. Now come on and knulla mig, din hingst.”

“You did it again!”

“I did not speak Swedish, Eric I said “knulla mig, din hingst.””

Eric had the strangest look on his face and Sookie thought he was teasing her. “Eric, are you making fun of me?”

“Sookie, is this a joke? Did you and Bobbie plan a practical joke?”

“No, Eric I told you we never got around to it.”

“Sookie, what does ‘knulla mig, din hingst’ mean?”

“Eric – ‘fuck me, you stallion’ means ‘fuck me, you stallion’ – so why aren’t you?”

“Say it to me one more time, Lover. Say it as if you mean it.” He wiggled his eyebrows but he was testing her.

“Knulla mig, din hingst,” she purred at him, exactly as he thought she would. He rolled her on her back and began kissing her, knowing that she had no idea she was occasionally lapsing into Svenska. This was Freyja within her, but he wasn’t sure why she wasn’t conscious of the difference in words. He knew he needed to write this down in Sookie’s journal. Maybe this would serve some function in the near future, though he couldn’t see what… unless Sookie could understand him when he spoke Swedish? Maybe they would be in a situation where he would need to communicate something no one else could understand?

He nibbled on her neck and whispered in her ear.

“Min vackra Gudinna.”

“That’s twice in the last few minutes you’ve called me your beautiful Goddess,” she giggled, “not that I’m complaining.”

“Du är så vacker.”

“Yes, you said I was beautiful three times now… Are you alright?”

“Jag älskar dig, min Sookie.”

“Jag älskar dig, min make,” Sookie said softly, thinking she had said “I love you, my husband.”

Eric would think about this later. He wanted to take her once more so she would sleep well, then he would work the rest of the night. He was slow and gentle this time, and she followed his lead. By the time he pressed his bleeding wrist to her lips, she was dozing in the afterglow, and the release they both reached was soothing and quiet. He held her until her breathing slowed, watching her and thinking of how long he had known her without realizing she was carrying such pain from her childhood.

He couldn’t believe he never put it together before – her masochistic leanings, her eagerness to please, her tendency to run away from intense situations and feelings. It was more than simple immaturity or insecurity, it was a reaction to pain and betrayal. And then she had to meet Bill and Quinn who both betrayed her. Well, Eric had no intention of betraying her. He wanted to give her everything she ever wanted and more. He meant his vows to her, and he fully intended to be with her forever. This would change the way he handled her sexually and romantically. It would soften him a bit – but not too much. He would always keep in the back of his mind that there were certain boundaries that were better left untested, but there were others that were wide open. He kissed her forehead gently, then dressed and turned off the lights as he went to work.

As he went into the outer rooms of the suite, he found that the rest of the “family” was getting in from the casinos.

“Eric – surprised to see you tonight!” Amelia laughed.

“Sookie is asleep, so I thought I’d get some work done. How are you all this evening? Did you enjoy your show tonight?”

“It was amazing. We saw Celine Dion – what a voice!” Bobbie was floating.

“It was fancy, boy,” Ocatavia said, “not exactly my taste, but it was something to see! And I hit a $50. Jackpot on one of the nickel slot machines!”

“Wonderful!” Eric was pleased Octavia enjoyed herself, most of all. “Alicia did you enjoy yourself?”

“Oh, it was wonderful! Thanks so much for the tickets. It was fabulous, and we used our gift cards to buy some souvenirs and to play slots, plus we had a late dinner. It was very nice.”

“Is Bjorn with you ladies?”

“He stayed behind to gamble a bit – the driver went back to wait for him. He said he’d be back before sun up.”

“Yes, I would imagine a young man might find other amusements on the strip more suited to his tastes than Celine.” Eric wiggled his eyebrows and they all laughed. “Would you ladies like me to call the kitchen and have something brought up for you?”

“Oh, that’s sweet, but we ate right before we came back.” Amelia said.

“Well, if you change your minds, don’t hesitate to call down there. I’ll be down in the offices for a bit. Bobbie, I would like to speak to you before you retire.”

“Oh, sure, Eric, let’s step back into the living area.”

“Alright – the rest of you ladies enjoy the rest of your night.”

“Good night,” “Thanks” “See you tomorrow”

Bobbie and Eric stepped back into the living area of the main suite.

“I wanted to tell you that Sookie’s back is all healed up, so you needn’t worry about that. She’s fine now. I think she’s asleep, but I’d appreciate it if you’d check in on her and rub her back if she wants.”

“Sure, Eric, I’d be glad to. I’m glad you healed her up.”

“So am I. That was a… miscalculation on my part. I won’t make that mistake again. We had a good talk tonight and I learned some things about her I didn’t know but should have.”

“What do you mean?”

“She confided in me – something I should have picked up on but missed. I have a much clearer picture of who she is now and her more unusual attitudes and quirks make sense to me, finally. I thought I knew everything about her but it seems I didn’t know much at all. I thought I had studied her carefully the years I have known her. She’s much stronger than I ever realized, and much more vulnerable, too. I find myself questioning every interaction I’ve ever had with her and am chagrinned that I might have failed her…”

“Eric, you’re being too hard on yourself. I don’t know what you’re talking about, of course, but I know Sookie would never think you failed her in any way. You saved her life in more ways than one. You’re a dream come true for her and she feels very lucky to have you. Nothing is more important to her than you and that baby. She wants very much for you to be proud of her.”

“And I am – even more so now that my eyes are open. I need to let her know it more. I want to do something special for her – something romantic.”

“Eric – her whole life is romantic. She’s living a dream life with you.”

“There must be something I can do – did she like the spa when you two went to the one at the Bellagio?”

“Sure – she loved it. Any woman would.”

“Do you think she would enjoy a day at the spa with all of her girlfriends? You, Amelia, Octavia, Alicia – what if I arranged for you all to have a full day of anything you want there?”

“Well, I know I would love that – who wouldn’t? It might be fun for her to get to play hostess for a girl’s day at the spa.”

“The available days for that would be Friday, Sunday or Monday. Will you call them tomorrow, please, and make arrangements for one of those days for you all? Friday would be preferable so you can all get ready for the ball, but it is short notice. See what you can work out – money is no object. I want this to be a very special treat for her. Use this card to make the arrangements.” He handed her a black American Express card. “If they can’t do Friday, at least make arrangements for manicures and pedicures for you all so you’ll be ready for Saturday night.”

“Will do. I’ll have Alicia put this back in your wallet when I’m done.”

“Wonderful. Check on her now, and then have a nice evening. I will see you tomorrow night if you aren’t up later.”

Eric had another idea for a surprise for Sookie that he would arrange through Sandy for the move to the Bellagio on Friday. He was looking forward to seeing the Villa they were going to tour while they were there. They’d be in the Presidential Suite this time around, Bjorn, Alicia and Pam would stay in the servants rooms on the same floor, Amelia and Octavia would have private tower rooms and Bobbie and Bill would have the other bed in the Presidential Suite.

Eric opened the door to the offices and everyone in the room was on their knees before him instantly. He liked that.

“Good evening, everyone. You may rise. Where is Sandy?”

“She’s in your office, your majesty.”

“Very well, return to your work.”

He opened the door to find Sandy sitting in front of the desk, his chair empty and waiting for him.

“Good evening, Sandy.”

“Good evening, your majesty. I have the records of all of the Nevada business holdings. No doubt you’ll want to see them before you look at the rest of the territories.”

“Very good. I hope you included their net profits for last year?”

“Yes, your majesty.”

“Alright. We’re going to be expanding our holdings on the strip and I want to eliminate some of his junk. Felipe liked to own things just to own them, I think.”

“Yes, your majesty. He loved to buy properties and businesses but he hated the administration of them. I tried to keep things from falling into disrepair, but there was too much.”

“Well, we’re going to streamline our holdings so they can be administered properly with the staff you already have. For example, I see no need for us to own a chain of grocery stores. I want those holdings put up for sale immediately. I want every nightclub and strip club that nets less than a million dollars a year sold. Now, you mentioned that there were movie theatres available that could fit in with the chain we already own? As long as they are in the black, buy them, and then we’re going to consolidate and rename the chain, and expand it to cover major cities in every state in my territories. I want to double our R&D investments in cloned blood and make sure their patent applications are current. Get that British research team on that project now – give the head man whatever he wants. We need to be first to get that to market. Sell that damned baseball team. Sell all our restaurant franchises in other cities outside our territories and expand them within our territories so that we have one in each of the 3 biggest cities in each state. Between the restaurants and the theatres that should be enough to let us move our money around as we need to. I want us completely out prostitution everywhere except for our Vampire only clubs in Vegas, New Orleans, L.A. Chicago, New York and Miami. I want those clubs to be state of the art, and 5 star luxury from the décor to the hostesses – they should be the first and only clubs preferred by Vampire elites. We need to make sure we have plenty of old Vamp money circulating through our coffers.”

Sandy was writing as quickly as she could, trying to keep up with Eric’s mind, which was quick and remembered details better than anyone she had known. Apparently, perfect recall was one of Eric’s Vampire gifts. He was good at seeing the big picture.

This was a lot of work, but the sales of all the smaller properties would bring in some much needed cash and the expansions were something that should have been started a year ago if Felipe had been paying attention to the market. Neither he nor Victor either one ever set up adequate resources for laundering Vampire money that was generated under human radar. That would be important if the human government became aware of the Vampire power structure, and that revelation seemed immanent now that the new King and Queen were all the rage in the tabloids.

Bobbie went in to check on Sookie, who seemed to be asleep, but as she turned go leave the room Sookie called her back.

“Bobbie?”

“Hey, Sweetie – I hope I didn’t wake you. Eric wanted me to check in on you.”

“You wouldn’t consider rubbing my back, would you?”

“Of course I will, darlin’! Let me go grab some lotion and I’ll be right back.”

Bobbie was back with a new lotion and towels very quickly and she helped Sookie turn on her side toward Eric’s side of the bed.

“I’m glad you came in, Bobbie. My back is getting tender, even though I’ve been in bed. Though I have to admit, Eric and I have been very active IN bed – not to mention that huge bathtub,” she laughed.

“That’s good – it keeps your blood circulating. He said you two had a pretty deep talk tonight.” Bobbie pushed the towel under Sookie’s side to protect the sheets.

“Yeah, I guess we did. I hope he doesn’t change toward me now.”

“I think he felt like he might have let you down because he didn’t figure whatever it was out sooner.” She didn’t have to tell Bobbie that it was some form of sexual abuse. That was so common among women that Bobbie usually assumed her clients had been abused whether they told her so or not. 2 out of 3 women experience some form of it at some point in their lives so Bobbie took that into account.

“Well, that’s just silly. There was no way for him to know without me telling him. I just hope he doesn’t start looking at me as damaged, because I’m not.”

“He doesn’t think you’re damaged, Sookie. He’s amazed at your strength. He’s just afraid he might have done something wrong.”

“He didn’t. I know I got a little nutty and clingy last night, but that wasn’t his fault. He’s not psychic. He knew through the bond that what I was feeling was serious and he did what I needed him to do at the time. It won’t happen again. I don’t want him to start treating me with kid gloves. I want my Viking to be the Viking, if you know what I mean.”

“Yeah – let Eric be Eric.”

“Right. I want all of him, not some Eric-lite version of him. He won’t dish out anything I can’t handle. If he starts treating me like “poor little Sookie,” I’m going tp be seriously pissed off.”

“I don’t think you need to worry about Eric suddenly being less than he is. He’s not the type to hold back. He just thought he had you all figured out and found out he didn’t. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

“You think?”

“Yeah, I think it’s good for him to realize that there are more layers to you that he hasn’t uncovered yet. He hasn’t known you long enough to think he’s got you all figured out. Keep him guessing for the next couple of decades – it’ll be good for him,” Bobbie laughed and Sookie laughed too.

“See, though, it was always like he knew me better than I knew myself, and I loved that. I loved that he was so confident about me and would push me. I wouldn’t go back and change one minute of anything we’ve done since we worked things out between us. I don’t want him to think yesterday was wrong in any way – it wasn’t. I liked it. I liked the pain. I want him to be strict with me. I like it when he makes me do things I think I can’t do. It shows me how strong I am and it shows me how much he loves me.”

“He won’t change, Sookie. He’ll always be Master – it’s just who he is. And he’ll always be obsessed with you. That’s who he is, too. He couldn’t give up his sex life with you any more than he could give up drinking blood.”

“He always says he’d be with me even if we couldn’t have sex.”

“And I’m sure he’s serious about that. Sookie, I’ve never seen anyone so in love. He’s not just in love with you, he’s fascinated by you. He wants to make you happy. You should see how he lights up when he manages to please you with something.”

“OK, good. I know he’s obsessed with me and I’m obsessed with him, too. I never thought I’d care about another person as much as I care about him. This is going to sound weird, but I think I wouldn’t be as crazy about this baby as I am if it weren’t Eric’s baby. The idea of having a part of Eric growing inside me, and being able to give him a son – it’s the biggest high in the world. When I see him hold his son, I’ll always know that I was able to do that for him.”

“He’s not going to forget that, either. I’ve never seen a father so tapped into a pregnancy. I guess that’s from your bond. He’s just so invested in every aspect of it. Most men are proud of their babies, of course, but it’s like he can feel it so much more intensely.”

“He can. He can feel everything the baby feels and everything I feel and we can feel him. That’s how the little Viking knows when Eric is in a fight.”

“Like the other night when he went nuts. I can’t picture Eric doing what they said he did, but everybody else seemed to take it in stride.”

“What did they say he did?”

“He killed 4 or 5 of the terrorists with a sword, put the sword in their car with the bodies and blew it up.”

“Yeah, that sounds about right. That’s why he had blood all over him – he probably cut them in half or decapitated them. Blood sprays like you wouldn’t believe.”

Bobbie couldn’t believe how calm Sookie was about it – she was almost blasé at the idea of Eric killing 5 people. “How… doesn’t that bother you?”

“No. They tried to kill us first. That’s a blood offense. Any Supe would have done the same thing, though most of them would need help to handle that many people. Eric is an army all by himself. You have to stop thinking like a human to be around Vampires, Bobbie. Thinking like a human will keep you wracked with guilt.”

“So you’ve just learned to let it go?”

“Not completely, but mostly. It’s about survival. If Eric didn’t kill them, they would have tried again. In the Supe world, you don’t leave an enemy alive to come back and get you once they’ve tried to kill you. If they tried once, they’ll try again, so you take them out before they take you out. It’s kill or be killed. If I want Eric to stay alive, I have to accept that he’ll have to kill to do it, and I might, too.”

“Wow. See, I’m good at appreciating the sexual freedom from Western morality that Vampires have but I’ve never understood the violence of their world.”

“Most of them have to kill to live, at least in the beginning. Young Weres have to change and hunt. Young Vamps tend to kill until they develop some control. It becomes second nature to them. Then when they get involved in the politics of it, there’s always someone scheming or trying to muscle in on someone. They all want to be the best, have the best, whatever, and they do what it takes to get that and keep that.”

“They could exist nowadays without killing though, right?”

“Probably not a young one, unless there was an older one there to control him. Like Bill, for example – he’s able not to kill in most circumstances, but he’s very driven by his instincts. There were times when the bloodlust over came him and he left me unprotected. Eric was always there, though, looking out for me, whether I wanted him to or not.”

“Bill left you unprotected? When?”

“We were in a house once that was attacked by the FOTS. Bill ran off trying to get revenge, but Eric stayed with me. That was the time he tricked me into ingesting some of his blood.”

“Why would he trick you?”

“Well, aside from the fact that he always wanted to fuck me and said so in exactly those words, he wanted to be able to track me. I was kidnapped once and Bill wasn’t able to zero in on me. After Eric was in me, I was kidnapped and he came right to me.”

“How many times have you been kidnapped, Sookie?”

“Well, just twice but there have been other incidents where Bill ran off and Eric was there, like when Sophie Ann was attacked and Bill went to fight but Eric made sure I was safe first. Or when Bill attacked me at my house and Eric had to knock him out – that’s why he has to get those shots from Dr. Ludwig.”

“He never told me exactly what happened with that.”

“Because he doesn’t remember it. He smelled the baby and his instincts told him to kill it, but he’d have to kill me to do it, so he attacked me. Eric was there, fortunately, and he fought him off and managed to knock him out and put him back in his house, then he flew back and got me as far away as fast as he could. If it were anyone but Bill, Eric would have staked him.”

“Why didn’t he?”

“He knew I’d be upset.”

“So he only reason Bill is alive…?”

“… is Eric wants him that way. By Vampire standards, Eric is within his rights to kill Bill at any time, but he won’t because of me.”

“Why could he kill him?”

“Other than attacking me, Bill was sent to Bon Temps to seduce me and get me to work for Sophie Ann. He took my virginity under false pretenses, so my great grandfather Niall or Eric either one would be entitled to kill him.”

“That’s what Niall was talking about at the wedding?”

“Yep, that’s the code Supes live by.”

“So Bill pretty much has to do whatever Eric says?”

“Not really – Eric would let him choose not to work for him. Bill is doing it for Sophie Ann. She favored him and he loved her, so he feels like taking care of her territory is a way to honor her memory.”

“He never talks about his past.”

“Yeah, he’s got some painful memories. He was turned against his will and he still has a lot of anger about it.”

“What happened to the one who turned him?”

“I staked her.”

“What?”

“She was keeping him prisoner and torturing him and she attacked me when I tried to free him so I staked the bitch. I had asked Eric to do it if I couldn’t, but it turned out I got to anyway.”

“You were going to have Eric kill her?”

“Yes. We weren’t together then, but Bill was in his area so it was Eric’s responsibility to help him. He asked for my help even though Lorena was going to make Bill leave me. But anyway, she betrayed him and tortured him and I saved his ass even though I had been staked the night before.”

“Oh my Goddess!”

“Oh, yeah, we’ve had some wild times, me and my Vampires. It’s never boring around Supes. There’s always a coup or a conspiracy or a conflict of some kind.”

“Wow – I’m amazed you’d have anything to do with them.”

“They treat me like I’m worth something. They aren’t afraid of me. A few of them even care about me. It’s where I belong, especially now that I’m having the baby.”

“Yeah, you’re all the way in now.” Bobbie laughed.

SOOTHING!

“Oops, Bobbie – your little buddy is awake. He’s sending Soothing.”

“He likes it when I rub you guys at night, doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, I think it makes him feel good. He loves it when he knows you’re around rubbing,” Sookie laughed.

“Are you ready to roll on your back and I’ll rub him a little?”

“Yes, if you’ll help me.” Sookie offered her arm and Bobbie helped her pull back and then get into position on the wedge. “Whew – that gets harder and harder. I wonder how much of this big belly is baby?”

“A lot of it, because I can feel him. His head is in the wrong spot at the moment – we might have to move him around if he doesn’t flip himself.”

“Is that hard to do?”

“It takes a while with an average baby, but with him, I think he’d know what we wanted and do it anyway.”

“Is it dangerous the way he is now?”

“Not unless you go into labor. Ideally, he’ll have his head down at your cervix before that happens. Have you ever felt him turn over?”

“Oh, yeah, Eric watched him the other night, remember?”

“Yeah, that’s right, so he may flip several times between now and delivery. Maybe he’ll be a gymnast.”

“He’s probably going to be able to fly,” Sookie laughed.

“That’s right – they don’t have Vampires in the Olympics yet, do they?”

“Not yet, but I’ve seen a few Fairies.”

“Have you really?”

“Look very closely at some of the little girls who compete in gymnastics sometime. Some of them are a lot older than they look.” Sookie had figured this out ages ago, before she really knew what a Faerie was – she could look at the girls and know some of them were “different.” Some of them seemed to defy gravity as if they could fly – because they could.

“Wow – if they ever come out, that will really mess up the record books,” Bobbie laughed.

“Yeah, but they never will. They usually keep to themselves and that’s probably for the best.”

“Are they all as proud of themselves as my friend Claude?”

“Yeah, they think they’re better than people. He’s my cousin, but I know he’s totally full of himself.”

“Oops!” Sookie and Bobbie both laughed as Eric Alexander kicked under her hands to say ‘hi’ to Bobbie. “He says “hi, Bobbie!””

“Hey, Baby E! I can’t wait to meet you!”

More kicks. SOOTHING! LOVE!

“Aw – he’s sending you love, Bobbie. I don’t think he knows you can’t feel what he’s sending.”

“I wish I could, but it’s nice to know he’s sending it. He’s gonna be a Sweetie.”

“Yeah, but everybody keeps warning me that he’s going to be a handful. They think only Eric will be able to manage him.”

“Don’t worry about that, Sookie. You’re his mommy. He’ll listen to you. He might have some extra powers or be stronger or more energetic than a normal baby, but he’s still gonna love his mommy more than anything.”

“I hope so…” Sookie let out a huge yawn. “Sorry about that!”

“That’s exactly what I want you to do, Sookie – relax and go to sleep.”

“Yeah, I think I’m getting there.”

“Ok, let’s drink an RM real quick and then you can doze off.” Bobbie brought her a bottle and a straw and Sookie drank it straight down.

“Ok, honey, you go to sleep then and I’ll see you in the morning. We’ll be having a cook out when you get up!”

“Yeah!” Sookie laughed and closed her eyes. Bobbie turned out the lights and went to her own room where she did some yoga, called Bill then went to sleep herself.

“Sookie, my Lover, wake up and drink.” Eric was stroking her cheek and she opened her eyes sleepily and smiled at him. “There’s my beautiful Goddess,” he smiled softly at her. He was holding the straw for her and she drank it straight down.

“Can I have another one?”

“Of course, Dear One – I’ll get it.”

Sookie watched him bend over to the little fridge.

“I know you’re looking at my back side, Lover.”

“I can’t help it – it’s so pretty.”

“Pretty?” He laughed as he straightened up.

“Yeah, it’s nice and round and tight.”

“I need to work harder to get you to appreciate another part of me.”

“I appreciate that Gracious Plenty a lot, believe me, but I love butts and yours is awesome.” She laughed as he held the drink for her. “You have to go to rest soon, huh?”

“Yes, my Lover, I have to. You will be so busy today, though, that you will hardly miss me. Save me a piece of watermelon and I will join you as soon as it is dark.”

“Oh, I’ll miss you, but I am going to have fun. I’m going to eat a ton of clams and lobsters and corn on the cob and all that stuff.”

“Yes, and they will be swimming in butter. Maybe that will fatten you up a bit.”

“Do you think I’m too thin?” She laughed.

“Honestly, Sookie, we are getting worried that you aren’t gaining weight, so I want you to indulge yourself. Eat as much protein as you can and then have lots of cake and ice cream, alright? You and Eric Alexander can – what is that expression? “Chow down.” He laughed and she laughed with him.

“Oh, we will.”

He placed his hand on her tummy and Baby E kicked a little letting him know he was aware of his touch. Eric smiled and sent love and pride to him.

“Bobbie says he’s in the wrong position, but it won’t be a problem unless I go into labor. She says he should turn over himself, but if he doesn’t we might have to get him to.”

“What would happen if he stayed as he is?”

“I think that’s what they call a breach birth – it’s very dangerous to both of us.”

“But she thinks he will move on his own?”

“She says they usually do. We just need to be aware of where he is as we get closer to his due date.”

“Well, he turned the other night, so let’s hope he has another flip in him.” Eric didn’t want her to know he was worried about this, but he would speak to Bobbie about it the next night.”

“As active as he is, he’ll probably flip a few times before then. Guess what he did?”

“What is that?”

“He sent LOVE to Bobbie and kicked her hands to say hi to her. I don’t think he knows she can’t feel him.”

“Interesting. Maybe he can feel her? You believe he is telepathic, yes?”

“Yes – I never thought of that. Maybe he does know what she’s thinking and he was responding to that?”

“I think that’s likely.” Eric bent and kissed her tummy, resting his cheek there for a minute. He kissed her lips, and said good night as she went to sleep and he closed himself in the room with the coffins.

“Sookie, wake up, dear!” Alicia was there with the 7 am bottle. Sookie drank and passed back out. The 9 o’clock feeding was more of the same, but at 11 Sookie asked what time it was and wanted to get up. Alicia helped her into the bathroom, then helped her into an orange maternity tankini swim suit that looked very cute on her and would let her get sun on her shoulders for her strapless ball gown and had sheer panels that would let her move them to the side and get sun on her belly. Alicia already had a tote bag packed for her with her ipod, suntan lotion, a small towel, Dior sunglasses Sookie didn’t even know she had, one of the books Sookie brought with her and a comb, though they put her hair in a pony tail.

“I can’t wait to see what they’ve got for us,” Sookie was really looking forward to getting out of that room and into that gorgeous pool.

“I went down earlier. You won’t believe how many lobsters and clams there are, and all the other stuff. It’s fabulous.”

“Oh, yum, I can’t wait. Where is everybody?”

Hanging out in the living area, they were hoping you might get up this time around.”

“Oh, goodie! You’re wearing your suit under that dress, right?”

“Right and we even got Octavia into a bathing suit. Amelia and Bobbie and Bjorn are all set, and between you and me, I think Amelia and Bobbie can’t wait for Bjorn to take his t-shirt off,” Alicia was in a good mood “but then, neither can I.”

Sookie laughed at that. “I’m looking forward to that myself. Are we ready?”

“We’re ready.”

They headed down the hallway to where the others were gathered.

“Hey, sleepy head!” Amelia saw her first.

“Sookie, that’s the cutest swim suit!” Bobbie had never seen this one before.

“Thanks – it’s one of the new ones I got from Nordstrom’s, so technically, it’s a wedding present,” she laughed.

“Somebody is in a good mood today!” Bjorn laughed.

“That’s right, so let’s head for the pool, people!” Sookie was almost bouncy she was so eager to go.

“Right this way,” Bjorn pointed her to the wheel chair.

“Do I have to?” Sookie forgot about that condition.

“It’s just to get there and back. You’ll be in the pool the rest of the time.”

“Well, OK, I guess.” She settled into the wheel chair and Bjorn pushed her toward the door as everyone else fell in behind them.

There was an elevator so they were down on the first floor very quickly and had only to head back toward the kitchen. Amelia and Bobbie directed them since they had been there before. Sookie didn’t remember much because she’d had so much on her mind when they were there for the wedding. The huge kitchen was buzzing with activity and there was a huge tank full of lobsters and bushels of clams waiting to be grilled.

“Good morning, your majesty, I’m Consuela.” An older, smiling Latina stepped forward. “I’m in charge of the kitchen so I’ll be making sure everything is to your liking. We thought we should probably start he first batches at 12 o’clock and then you’d be ready to eat around 1 o’clock, then we’ll cook more through the day as you and your friends want them.”

“Oh, that sounds wonderful! Thank you so much!” Sookie gave her a brilliant smile that caught Consuela by surprise. She had never known anyone associated with Vampire royalty who was nice or appreciative. Maybe the Princess Diana rumors were true?

Bjorn maneuvered Sookie’s chair over the outside door threshold and into the pool area.

“Wow – it’s gorgeous out here!” Sookie was thrilled it was a nearly cloudless day, bright, sunny and warm but not oppressively hot. There were lots of tables with umbrellas and chairs, and the big tubs of soft drinks and a few beers, but not as many as when Jason was with them. The Pool sparkled pale blue and it had obviously been cleaned and everything scrubbed down so it looked perfect. Alicia helped Sookie get her stuff situated at one of the large wooden lounge chairs with a little side table, and Alicia covered it with a beach towel while Sookie headed for the pool.

“Everybody get anything you want to drink. Bjorn, you can have a beer if you want,” Sookie said, “I’m getting in the pool and you all join me whenever you want to.”

Sookie grabbed an air mattress and waded into the clear, cool water and tried to balance herself on the mattress. She was having a little trouble, so Bjorn pulled off his t- shirt and went in to help her as the other women all fell silent at the sight of Bjorn’s perfect 6-pack. They all exchanged bug-eyed looks and began to fight off giggling.

“Let me help you, your majesty.” He said and Sookie turned and noticed him for the first time, suddenly face to face with his massive chest. Damn!

“Hey, Bjorn – my center of gravity ain’t what it used to be,” she laughed, trying not to stare at him and praying he didn’t notice her face was burning red. Bobbie and Amelia waded in, and Bobbie went to hold the mattress so Bjorn could help Sookie up and they both helped her lean back and find her balance. “Thanks, guys,” Sookie said as she floated off on her own.

Alicia waded in with Sookie’s sunglasses and took them to her, and Octavia followed her into the pool, too, with a mattress of her own that she used to float around on sideways the way Sookie liked to do. Bobbie and Amelia decided to float a while, too, so they accepted mattresses offered by one of the pool attendants that were there to see to their comfort. Once Sookie was set, Bjorn went to the diving board and impressed all the women with a beautiful dive, then did laps back and forth a few times, before he grabbed a mattress, too. He used his hands to paddle over beside Sookie.

“Remember, if you need anything, to let me know. Don’t hesitate to ask because I’m out here. I’m still working and still watching out for you.”

“Thanks, Bjorn. I’m so glad you’re going to float a while though. You work so hard for me and you have to do so much boring stuff.”

“That’s what I get paid to do. I love my job, Sookie, so don’t worry about me.”

“Ok – hey what did you do in town last night?”

“Uh, I had a… date.”

“A date? You don’t mean…!”

“Yeah, Sookie, a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do, sometimes. I didn’t pay her, I just picked her up in one of the hotel bars. She was a dancer in one of the shows. She even gave me her phone number.”

“Are you going to see her again?”

“Probably not, but I don’t know. I might call her on my afternoon off over the weekend. She was a nice girl and really built. Her legs were so long – they were amazing.”

“Oh, yeah, I guess guys like tall girls with long legs.” Sookie was always a little self-conscious around women like that and the idea of Bjorn with a girl like that was intimidating for some reason.

“You’ve got long legs in comparison to the rest of your body even though you’re petite. That’s the first thing I noticed about you.”

“My legs?”

“Yeah, they’re gorgeous. I even mentioned it to someone else.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, like before I knew you and Eric and how you are with each other. I told one of the other guards he should check out your legs. That’s one of the reasons I decided to keep the job after I met you – I figured I’d have something nice to look at while I worked.

Sookie blushed and giggled. She couldn’t believe he just said that to her but she was glad he did. It made her feel good. She didn’t know why the picture of Bjorn with some showgirl bothered her, but it did. It really, really did.

“Hey, Sookie – look up there!” Bobbie pointed to the huge grill, where the kitchen staff was chopping lobsters in half, brushing them with butter and laying them on the grill, cut side down. A kind of flat square basket was put on the other side of the grill and a bag of what had to be at least a hundred clams were dropped into it and spread around. One of the cooks stayed next to the grill.

“How long does it take for them to cook?” Sookie asked Bobbie.

“Not long – the clams mostly just have to get hot. As soon as they’re open, she’ll pull them out so they don’t get rubbery. It won’t take long before they’re serving them up.”

“Oh, I can’t wait. Eric told me to eat a lot because I’m not gaining enough weight and I plan to do exactly that,” Sookie laughed.

“Me, too!” Bjorn said as he rolled off his mattress with a splash and made everyone laugh. He came up shaking his head, slinging water on everyone and kidding around. They’d never seen Bjorn cut up like that and it was so nice to see that amazing smile. He grabbed the edge of Bobbie’s air mattress, “Jump in, Bobbie.”

“Uh, no,” she laughed.

“You can jump in the water willingly, or I can dump you in. Your choice.” Bjorn arched his eyebrow and gave her a wicked grin.

“NO, you won’t!” Bobbie was objecting, but she was laughing, too and everyone was laughing along. Bjorn pulled her around and tipped her just enough to make her scream and flail. He laughed like crazy but he let her get settled a bit then did it again. “Bjorn! Stop it!” She was laughing like crazy. She didn’t particularly want to get dumped, but she was enjoying the attention from Bjorn, who she swore got hotter every day. She couldn’t stop looking at his muscles.

“Last chance, Bobbie. Do it or there goes the hair style.” He was really teasing her. She stuck her tongue out at him and he jumped up on the side of her mattress so she fell between it and him. He brought her up in his arms, laughing like crazy as she flailed and yelled at him. All the other women were cracking up. She was playing at fighting with him, though she loved being in his arms that way. Bjorn was enjoying it, too. Bobbie was round but firm and he pretended to drop her again so he could cop a feel of her breast without anyone noticing. Bobbie noticed, of course, but she didn’t mind being groped a bit – Bjorn could do a whole lot more than that if he wanted to.

Consuela was helping set the table and there was a platter of lobster and a huge bowl of clams going on the table. “Excuse me, your majesty – You can eat any time you want now.”

“Thanks so much, Consuela!” Sookie started paddling toward the shallow end of the pool. Bjorn had put Bobbie down, both of them still laughing, and Bjorn turned to help Sookie get off of her mattress. He helped her stand and as she started to walk on her own he absent-mindedly patted her bottom, which gave her a little thrill. That wasn’t exactly a throb. She would tell Eric about it just to be honest with him, but she was sure it wasn’t anything she’d be punished for. She would just say it was from him helping her off the mattress – he didn’t need to know about the pat, because it was no big deal and she knew Bjorn didn’t mean anything by it.

Everyone made their way eventually up to the table, some of them stopping to dry off or put on a cover up. Sookie was the first one to sit down and the attendants, Rosa and Caroline, both probably in their early twenties, buzzed around her. They were attentive to everyone, but it was obvious that Sookie was their main priority. Caroline, a slender girl with short blonde hair, would smile and nearly jump up and down when Sookie would smile and thank her for something she did. She had worked at the residence for two summers in a row and no one had ever thanked her for anything she did. Rosa had reddish brown shoulder length hair and was wearing a traditional maid’s uniform. She was a little shy, but she beamed whenever Sookie thanked her. She was in awe of Sookie, and she was sure there was something special about her baby since the other servants said it was some sort of miracle that Eric had fathered a child, but everyone was convinced it was definitely his child.

Sookie finished her fifth half of a lobster and had a huge bowl of empty clam shells when she decided to return to the pool. Everyone else continued eating for a bit, so she floated around alone holding her air mattress sideways. Octavia was the first one to join her and she did the same with another air mattress.

“Did you eat all you want, Octavia?” Sookie wanted her to really dig in.

“Yes, ma’am – I ate about 3 lobsters altogether! Don’t you worry, I’ll be going back for more in a bit.”

“Oh, good – I’m glad you’re having a good time.”

“Yeah, I just wanted to spend some more time in the water. It helps me stay clear on how energy works.”

“What do you mean?”

“Imagine the water in this pool is the energy of the whole Universe. Everything in it is connected by the water, so when something moves on one end of the pool, eventually a ripple reaches everything else in it. You can give the water a direction and it will follow your movements, at least for a while, but your movements create other movement you don’t control – they’re just the natural response of the water to what you did, but you don’t control them and you couldn’t have accurately predicted them all because it’s too complex for your mind as it is to comprehend.

You can’t splash anybody else without getting wet yourself. You can’t help but be affected at least a little bit by what anybody else in the pool does. The water is the same as the 90 percent of you that is water. Some things in the water are more porous and take the water into them, while some things bounce around inside it or on top of it, but only take a drop or two with them if you take them out.

The water has definable properties – you know, for example, that anything that displaces more water than its own weight floats. Some things will dissolve in the water. Some things absorb the water, some will repel it. If you drain this pool, the water will run down the pipe clockwise. If you drained a pool just like it in Australia or South America, it would drain counterclockwise, and that’s always true, unless some thing dramatic happens to it. The water naturally moves with the sun. When the moon is closer to the Earth, the tides are higher, your body retains more water but gravity has slightly less effect on it and this pool would be just a little bit fuller than it would be on a night when the moon is further away from the Earth. The day of the full moon, three days before it and three days after, people have more water in their brains and they act more emotionally or irrationally. Water can be a solid when it’s frozen, or a liquid, or a vapor. A single drop of water might not do much but a million drops of water on the same spot will wear a hole in solid stone. It can nourish a plant when it falls gently from the sky and it can wipe away entire cities when it comes in a hurricane. That’s power. That’s energy.”

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