LATE Chapter 066

Hot. Vampire. Sex.

 

 

“Sookie? Sookie? Time for you to get up, dear.” Sookie had barely stirred for her earlier RMs and she was used to sleeping late, but Eric had left instructions that they were to tour the villas a 11 am and Sookie needed to be down at the Grand Ballroom in the convention center by noon to approve the set up, so Alicia was there with breakfast at 9:30.

Sookie finally stirred a bit, stretching like a cat – a very pregnant cat, but a cat nonetheless. “‘Morning, Alicia. What time is it?”

“It’s 9:30, dear. We have a tour of the private villa the King engaged at 11 and you’re due down at the ballroom at noon.”

“I am?”

“Yes, Mr. Northman said you were asleep last night so he didn’t have a chance to tell you but they need you down there from noon until possibly about 4 o’clock.”

“What will I be doing?”

“Making sure things are to your liking – the décor, the seating, all of that.”

“I guess I have to because it’s technically my party, right?”

“Right. Mr. Northman left you a note,” Alicia handed her a folded piece of paper, “See if you can eat these gorgeous Belgian waffles they brought you – look at the size of those strawberry slices.”

“Oh, wow, they’re huge. Yeah, I think I can definitely get into this,” Sookie laughed. She cut herself a big bite and then opened Eric’s note.

My Beautiful Queen Sookie,

I’m sorry you have to wake so early but you have important things to do today. First, I engaged a private villa as we had discussed beginning in September and they are going to give you and Alicia a tour of it at 11 am so you’ll know what to expect when we move there.

Janet Stevens needs you for final approval on details for the ballroom at noon until about 4. I saw the convention center on our tour last night and it’s very large – please make sure you use the wheel chair today. Don’t give Bobbie, Bjorn or Alicia a hard time about it – it would be a lot of walking for anyone, and in your condition walking is simply out of the question. 

I know this will be a long and busy day for you. Rest when you can, be sure to eat well and I will see you this evening. I know you will be the prettiest girl at the Ball. 

I love you,

Your badass husband,

King Eric

Sookie cracked up and almost choked on a waffle but recovered quickly.

“What’s so funny?” Alicia asked.

“Eric left me a silly note, but some serious orders. I’m supposed to use the wheel chair today and not give you all a hard time about it. He says the convention center is huge and me walking is out of the question.”

“You know he’s right, don’t you?”

“Yes, I suppose I do. I just hate feeling helpless.”

“You aren’t helpless dear, you’re pregnant – very pregnant – and this is for your own good as well as the baby’s. You don’t want to go into labor too early, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

“Every day the baby spends in the womb is valuable. It’s another day he has to use your bodily resources to grow and thrive. Over-exertion right now could bring on early labor and his lungs might not be ready for that yet. You don’t want him to end up on a respirator, do you?”

“No, of course not!”

“OK, then, you be protective of him and take it as easy as you can. We have a long day today. Every little bit of rest you can get is important.”

“OK, so what am I wearing today?”

“I thought just your little green sun dress, sandals and a pony tail would suffice since you’ll want to shower before they do your hair for tonight. ”

“OK, sounds good. Do you know who we’re meeting this morning?”

“I have the information written down. We’ll head downstairs at 10:30. Bjorn will be coming with us, I think, but I think Bobbie is taking the afternoon off since you and I will be working together. She said she’ll do your massage late this afternoon.”

“OK, let me finish this up.”

At 10:30 sharp, Alicia locked the suite door behind them as Bjorn rolled Sookie down the hall to the elevator. They were in the office to meet the manager guiding their tour by 11:00 and they all proceeded to the Villas, which were very far back on the property. They took a limousine back to theirs so they could see the private entrance.

The villa was stunning. It was its own little estate, with a pool in a private back yard, limo service and the aforementioned private entrance – they’d never have to see the hotel proper if they didn’t want to. It was very luxurious – lush upholstery, a living room, entertainment center, a bar, a dining room, 3 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, and private salons for beauty and barber services. The woman leading their tour, Kate Michaels, was a medium-tall, slim brunette who was a little bit tense. She was young to have such an important position and she tried to make up for it by being very serious. She took pride in her job, though, and she had been told that she was dealing with Vampire royalty and she knew the company policy was to bring in old Vamp money, so she was going out of her way to impress Sookie.

Sookie was overwhelmed as  she looked at the list of services and facilities included with the villa:

* 24-hour butler service

* Bellagio- themed art décor

* Spacious welcome marble foyer with glass chandelier

* Residential living room with fire place, 40-inch plasma and home theatre entertainment system with Surround Sound

* Full service bar with water features

* Formal dining room for eight separated by a private entrance

* Lavish his and hers marble bathrooms with whirlpool therapeutic bath,

rainforest Swiss steam showers, terry warmer, cedar closets and 15-inch LCD

* Private salon, barber and massage room

* Personal workout room with entertainment

* Dry and steam sauna

* Private courtyard with fireplace, pool, spa and manicured gardens

* Private work station with high-speed Wireless Internet access, fax, multi-line

telephone and speaker

* Automatic drapery and sheer controls

She understood completely why Eric had gone ahead and made the arrangements. There was absolutely nothing not to like. It would cost a lot of money, but nothing compared to the current residence and it was private but still in the heart of everything. There was room to live, to entertain, to conduct business – it was perfect for their needs and they wouldn’t have to worry about upkeep, cleaning or furnishings. It was fabulous.

Sookie thanked Kate profusely and Kate gave her business cards and all the information Sookie might need about living there. Kate was amazed at how young and sweet Sookie was but she knew Sookie’s husband was old, wealthy and powerful. The main office had investigated them and found them to their liking – they were very picky about who used the villas and this young Vampire family was just the sort they wanted – very wealthy, attractive, bright and on their way up. Meeting Eric had only cemented their opinion and Sookie was so sweet that any reservations they might have had were easily overlooked.

Kate had the limousine take them all around to the convention center and they went in the entrance most of the guests for the ball would use. Kate walked back with them and introduced Sookie to the events coordinator and they found Janet Stevens over-seeing the set up of Sookie’s little receiving area. They had brought some of the red velvet furniture from the mansion and were setting up a little parlor for her in one corner opposite the stage. There were even red velvet ropes that people would have to navigate to get to her. Bjorn talked to the head of security about Sookie’s defense through the night and they coordinated whose guards would be stationed where. Bjorn insisted that the guards traveling with them stay closest to Sookie since Bjorn had checked all their backgrounds.

Sookie couldn’t believe the size of the Grand Ballroom. Janet Stevens showed her the floor plan she had seen before that showed that it could be split into 9 separate event rooms but for the ball they would use the whole 45,000 plus square feet of it and the Grand Patio would be open so people could step out for fresh air or a sip of their escorts’ blood. There would be an army of Vampire and Were guards in addition to the guests so this would be Supe Central for the country that night. 3 plots by the FOTS had already been foiled and they were pretty sure their numbers had been well warned off interfering with the event. Ms. Stevens said they were expecting at least 3,000 people.

Sookie was overwhelmed pretty quickly, so Alicia asked Janet to let her sit a few minutes and drink a blood. Bjorn held her arm to help her out of the wheelchair so she could sit on the velvet sofa and be more comfortable for a few minutes. Alicia pulled an RM out of her tote and let Sookie drink and relax. When Sookie had rested a bit, she got back into the chair and had Bjorn take her over to see the buffet that would be across one wall. There were hundreds of round tables around the room that would seat four to six people and the dance floor in front of the stage was to be left open. The orchestra that would accompany Harry Connick Jr. and play the rest of the time was setting up for a rehearsal. The room was decorated in ivory and gold colors with red accents that had been added in the Vampires’ honor. The familiar RM/blood fountain was being set up and the caterers were bringing in boxes of food – huge tins of caviar, meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, and some beautiful American wines that Janet Stevens pointed out to Sookie proudly. Janet even gave Sookie a compliment, saying that it was a wonderful gesture that she chose to highlight American products

Janet showed Sookie a few more details and introduced her to a Were representative from Special Events who was apparently Quinn’s replacement. Sookie tried not to think about that. He showed Sookie that they were setting up a bank of chairs on the same side of the room as her receiving area that would be used by willing donors or anyone who just wanted to sit and talk.

By 2 o’clock Sookie had pretty much done everything Janet wanted so she took her suggestion that she go on back to the suite and relax before her hairstylist arrived. She gave Sookie a program for tonight and a script for her parts of the evening. Sookie was more than happy with the idea of taking a nap before she had to get dressed. She, Alicia and Bjorn took the most direct route back to the room and Sookie found herself grateful that Eric had insisted on the chair for this trip. Sookie knew there was no way she could have done it without stopping to rest several times.

Sookie was hungry, so they all stopped for lunch at the buffet. Bjorn couldn’t believe how much food Sookie put away – fried chicken, baked potato, lo mein, crab legs, a huge salad full of shrimp and broccoli soup. She ate more than he did. Alicia enjoyed the buffet, but she was the type that would take one little scoop of everything so you couldn’t really say she ate any one thing – she ate nearly everything. Bjorn went for grilled meat and black coffee but he did allow himself one indulgence – mashed potatoes.

“No butter on your potatoes, Bjorn?”

“In a place like this, I know these potatoes are full of fat. I shouldn’t eat them at all, but I’m treating myself. Besides, while you take a nap, I’m going to hit the gym.”

“You are?”

“Yes, I want to be pumped tonight.”

“It won’t make you tired?”

“No, it will give me energy.”

“Exercise never did that for me.”

“You never did it seriously with a good plan. If it makes you tired, you are doing it wrong.”

“I never knew that,” Alicia said.

“Yes, once you have your machine in shape, it works better when you exercise it. Most people are so out of shape it takes them forever to get in shape and the vast majority just give up before that happens. When you’re firing on all cylinders, exercise keeps you moving.”

“Wow. Well, do you want to go now? You don’t have to wait for me and Alicia.”

“Yes, your majesty, I do. I’ll go once you’re safe in your suite with guards I know at the door. Until then, I’m your shadow.”

“You’re gonna be sick of me by the end of tonight.”

“It will never happen. I like my job. And besides, you’ll need someone to talk to while the King is being King.”

“Yeah, nobody works a room like Eric.”

“Really?” Alicia was amazed.

“Oh, yeah – you’ve never seen him in full bullshit mode, have you? He’s impressive. He loves playing host, being lord of the manor – this is his kind of gig. He gets to be the center of attention, to make people happy, to impress the shit out of men and women alike. He’s going to have a great time tonight.”

“Are you?” Bjorn asked.

“Not as much as if I weren’t pregnant, but, yeah, I like getting dressed up and hopefully I’ll get a dance or two out of Eric. I love dancing with him. He swings me around so my hair flies out and I feel like I’m flying.”

“Oh, that’s so romantic – but then, he’s good at the romantic stuff.”

“Yeah, he is.” Sookie flushed and beamed a little thinking about how good Eric was at the “romantic stuff.”

“He’s too good at it. He makes the rest of us look like bums,” Bjorn laughed.

“Present company excepted, of course, but most men ARE bums. They lie, they cheat, they take women for granted or treat them badly…”

“Eric is loaded – it’s easy for him…”

“It’s not about money. If Eric never spent another dime on me, I wouldn’t care. He cares about me, he talks to me, he listens to me, he tells me I’m beautiful and he loves me, he tells me he’s lucky to have me. None of that costs money. He gives me his attention and his loyalty and his time. That’s what makes him good at romantic stuff. He genuinely likes women in general and me in particular.”

“So he’s never been a hound dog?”

“Sure he has, but that was more about giving people what they expect of him. When he decided he wanted me, he was relentless. He listened to me and he did things for me that mattered. I needed a new drive way. Did Bill buy it for me? No. Eric complained about it one time and I told him I couldn’t afford to get it fixed because Vamps were always making me take off work and Eric had a contractor out there before I woke up the next day.”

“That takes money…”

“Bill had plenty of money – it’s not the money. It’s the fact that he listened. He looked at me and saw me, not just “a girl,” he saw ME and what I needed and he gave it to me. He still does. I don’t have to ask Eric for anything because he knows what I need before I do. It’s his attention that makes the difference.”

“So it’s not his looks or his size or his money….”

“Look, that stuff is all great but if he had all that and didn’t pay attention to me, I’d still be single.”

“Are you buying this, Alicia?”

“Yep, I am.”

“You ARE?”

“Yes – he does pay attention to her. That’s why he hired me. He knew she needed certain things and he thought about how to make that happen and decided to hire me. Most men would have let Sookie flounder around and try to adjust to a new lifestyle and new roles and she’d struggle and occasionally be embarrassed or stressed by not knowing what to do or having what she needed. Sookie is always prepared because Eric anticipated her needs and met them. My whole job is helping her do what she needs to do as well as it needs to be done and she would never have hired me herself.”

“No, as a matter of fact, I was mad when he hired you because I thought it was a waste, or elitist or something, but you’ve saved my ass many times, Alicia, and I’m so glad he knew what I needed better than I did. Our lives are much richer for it.”

“Attention, huh?”

“Attention.” Sookie and Alicia spoke in unison and in complete agreement.

“OK, I’m done – are we ready to go upstairs?” Sookie was getting tired.

As soon as they got back to the suite, Sookie went to bed and Alicia began to gather her wardrobe for the evening, then Eric’s. She made arrangements for Sookie’s dinner to arrive at 6:30, which would give her several hours sleep and she’d be fed and awake by the time the stylists arrived. She’d also be able to have dinner with Eric that way, which she loved to do.

Alicia had the option of going to the Ball but she thought that many Vampires might be a lot to take. She did want to be available if Sookie needed her, though, so she planned to have room service in her room, which was very nice, and relax for a change. She had been going non-stop for a while now and it would be nice to just put her feet up and read a book. Sunday she would go sight seeing and Monday she needed to take Sookie shopping and she had things being held in several stores for her to try on. She also wanted to take Sookie to Fred Leighton to look at jewelry.

Bobbie came wandering in at almost 5 pm carrying two big bags of clothes and accessories she had bought wandering around downstairs. “What time is Sookie getting up?”

“Well, her dinner will be here at 6:30 but she could wake up at 6 PM if you need her.” Alicia didn’t want to wake her sooner than necessary.

“I want to massage her legs since she’ll be sitting down so much tonight.”

“Does she need to be awake for that?”

“Not really…”

“Then do it now. I doubt she’ll wake up.”

“OK, I’ll put this stuff away and get started.”

Sookie didn’t even wake up as Bobbie worked on her – she barely reacted. Bobbie and Alicia were both worried that tonight would be too much for her, but they knew she could leave early if she needed to. At almost 6 o’clock, Bobbie heard Eric opening the locks on his travel box so she left the room and closed the door.

“I think Eric is up, Alicia.”

“We’d better close the curtains just in case – there might be enough light in that sunset to hurt him.” Alicia and Bobbie made sure all the windows were closed completely so no light came through the curtains.

Consciously Eric was fighting the urge to drink from Sookie and fuck her, but he was losing. She looked too lovely lying there asleep – she smelled too good – and she was so ripe and vulnerable. He quietly moved to the bed, moving like an animal stalking its prey, and he spread her legs wide. He pushed the skirt of her sundress up and snapped the panties she was wearing, then began to lick her all over where they had been. He nuzzled her leg, licking it a couple of times, then bit hard, making her gasp and she began to buck as he sucked hard. When he had had his fill he got up on his knees and held her hips up so he could enter her and he did so with very little preparation. Sookie’s eyes popped open as he thrust into her so hard she would swear she could feel it in her throat. He was trying to hold back but failing in the thrall of Fae blood and Sookie grabbed the headboard above her to brace herself.

She could see Eric was struggling so she decided to use a tried and true method for making them both come. She reached for his head, pulled him toward her, stretched her neck and said “mark me.” Eric drove his fangs into her throat before the words were out of her mouth. He was coming, and he ripped his wrist open and pressed it to Sookie’s lips. In no time at all their orgasms synchronized as they moved together as if they were one body. For a few minutes they were both out of their bodies and felt as if there was no separation between them at all. As the peak of the mutual orgasm subsided, they were aware of being three beings in one – Eric Alexander was there with them but there weren’t three of them, there was only one, and a brilliant golden light exploded. Neither of them knew another thing until they heard a soft knock on the door.

“Mrs. Northman, your dinner is getting cold.” Alicia thought that whatever had been going on was done by now since it had gone quiet for quite a while.

“Thanks, Alicia, I’ll be right there.”

Eric had collapsed next to her and she stroked his face, smoothing back his hair and they kissed softly. “I can’t go out there yet. You go eat, Angel, and I’ll be out soon.”

She kissed him again and stood up, smoothing her dress down, slipping into the bathroom to clean up with a tissue before she went out.

“I’m so sorry if I interrupted you…”

‘No, no, Alicia, this is fine – I need to eat and start getting ready for our big entrance.” Sookie dug straight into the rare steak and baked potato, knowing she might not make it to the buffet that night. There was an entire pitcher of sweet tea and a bowl of lemons. “Will you throw these lemons away, please? I can’t eat them because of the baby.”

“Lemons? Really? Is that why you never want them at home?”

“Yes, it’s sort of a family trait. He might be deathly allergic to them.”

“Oh, I certainly hope not – no lemonade, ever?”

“I’m afraid not. We can’t take the risk to even try.” Sookie finished her meal just as Alicia pointed out that it was almost 7 o’clock and the stylists would be there at 7:30. Eric was already in the shower so Sookie walked in with him instead of going to her own shower. They didn’t have time for sex but they made out a little as they washed each other off.

Eric was nearly dressed, except for his pants and jacket, by the time Sookie finished shaving her legs and they could both hear the stylists arriving out front. Sookie put on her bra and panties then wrapped herself in her little pink robe and went out to the dining room where they could have lots of room to work on her. Alicia already had them setting up their tools and Sookie took a seat as the butler walked through to the bedroom with Eric’s perfectly pressed tux.

The barber and his assistant arrived to give Eric his shave and massage, tucking a towel in around his collar to protect his shirt. As he shaved Eric’s face, the assistant trimmed and buffed Eric’s nails. After the shave, the barber, who had been told he didn’t dare go near Eric’s long blond locks with a pair of scissors, used a brush and a blow dryer to make it full and perfectly shiny. It flowed over his shoulders like spun gold, and Eric smiled when he saw it, knowing Sookie would love it.

The butler helped Eric finish dressing and was attentive to every detail. He tied Eric’s blood red bow tie as perfectly as he had ever seen it done. He made sure the fingerprints were buffed off of Eric’s expensive Italian shoes. He helped Eric with his pants, the blood red cummerbund and finally his jacket. He folded the red pocket square for his jacket and put it perfectly into place.

Bill already in his tux and was watching the news in the living area when Eric came out looking perfect. “You may want to see this, Eric. They just said something about the video of the interview with the Vampire Queen.”

“On the news? From a morning show?”

“That’s what they said.”  Both men stood waiting in front of the television as Sookie’s hair was being rolled and curled with a curling iron.

[“Good Morning, Las Vegas scored the number one spot on YouTube today with its video of Toni Terry interviewing beautiful Vampire Queen Sookie. The shortened clip of the last 35 seconds has already received 3 million hits on the popular video-sharing site. Here’s what all the fuss is about:

So, what’s it like having sex with a Vampire?”

Better than you can possibly imagine. My husband is 6’5″ of solid muscle. He’s big and beautiful with long blonde hair and bright blue eyes and he never gets tired, won’t age and won’t die. Frankly, I’m completely spoiled for other men.”

How did he get the name Eric the Untouchable?”

I’m not sure – I guess because he’s not afraid of anything.”

Why is that?”

He’s a Vampire King – he’s the most feared creature on this earth. Everyone and everything else is afraid of him… and should be.

The video, titled Hot Vampire Sex, crashed YouTube’s servers this afternoon and is estimated to be embedded on thousands of websites already. The Vampire in question, King Eric Northman, and his wife, Sookie – that’s her speaking in the video – are hosting the Sheriff’s Ball tonight at the Bellagio’s Grand Ballroom and the paparazzi are already warming up to see who will be the first to photograph the elusive and sexy six foot five inch undead royal.]

“Good lord!” Bill exclaimed.

“Unbelievable.” Eric said and he meant it.

There was a knock at the door and Bjorn came in just after. “Eric, did you see…”

“The news? Yes, we did.”

“It’s going to be a madhouse tonight. The head of security just called me – LVPD will be out there, FOTS protesters are across the street, and the press is pulling every string they can find to try and get in. There’s a one million dollar bounty on the first photograph of you.”

“What…?” Eric started, but was interrupted.

“Excuse me, Andersen?” A guard looked in the door,

Bjorn looked at Eric who said “go,” and Bjorn stepped outside for a minute, then came back. “Your majesty, there are some very important visitors waiting for you in the conference room. I believe one of them is a relative of the Queen.”

Sookie looked up as they pinned her curls up on her head and added her tiara, but Eric, Bill and Bjorn were through the door to the conference room instantly. They all stopped short when they saw who was waiting there. Niall was there as expected, along with the Ancient Pythoness herself. Loup-Garou, the oldest living Were, was with them as was Penelope, one of the original Vestal Virgins and the beautiful Tonantzin, the powerful Aztec Mother Goddess still worshipped as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Bjorn was the first to kneel, then Bill, and Eric bowed low.

“You may stand.” The Ancient Pythoness said formally.

“We are most honored by your visit, members of the Council and the Living Pantheon.” Eric began.

“Yes, you are. I gather Sookie is still being coiffed?” Niall asked.

“Yes, would you like me to interrupt her?”

“Not necessary, my son,” Niall continued. Eric thought to himself that Niall must be pleased about something if he was claiming him as family in front of a group as illustrious as this. “Though my companions will wait to meet Sookie before we leave. We wanted to commend her performance on television this morning.”

“Yes, she was most satisfactory,” said the Ancient Pythoness, “she struck a perfect note between making us seem open and friendly and yet she added to the Vampire mystique – we want to both fascinate humans and lull them into a sense of acceptance. You will be sure that you allow photographs of your family dressed in your finery tonight so they may be published in the human gossip papers.”

“Of course, my Lady.” Eric didn’t dare say ‘no’ to this group. “We will be happy to oblige.”

“Humans are very impressed by fashion – such an attractive couple will certainly gain their good favor.” Penelope spoke in a voice that was nearly song. “Your bride was lovely in her white dress and diamond crown.”

“Honored Lady Penelope, I thank you for your compliment and for your confidence in us.” Eric said as he bowed his head. “Bill, would you see if Sookie is ready for an audience?”

“Of course,” he turned to the visitors “excuse me,” and he bowed and backed out the door.

“Sookie, how long until you can see visitors?” Bill asked

“We’re almost done with her makeup.” The stylist said,

“Bobbie, get Sookie’s dress and shoes ready. Sookie, do you have your underwear under that robe?”

“Yes, I just need to step into the dress and shoes. Who’s in there, Bill?”

Bill nodded to the stylists and shook his head. Sookie knew this was major Supe business so she didn’t push. Bobbie came out with the dress and shoes. Sookie stepped into the red stiletto shoes with the random cut out circles and she turned her back to Bill, who also turned around, so she could take off her robe. Bobbie and the stylists helped Sookie step into the strapless dress and pulled it up into place. The elastic top clung to her just above her ample bust and the skirt was full and flowing, leaving ample room for the baby without making her look too big. The hairstylist put Sookie’s ruby and diamond necklace on her and the makeup artist put in her earrings. Bobbie added the Marie Antoinette ring to Sookie’s right hand. They had already decided to forego any bracelets so Sookie was done.

She stood back and turned as Bobbie said “Wow.”

Bill turned around to see her. “Lovely. Sookie you look absolutely lovely. Come with me.”

Bobbie took care of paying and tipping the stylists and Bill ushered Sookie into the conference room, knocking softly first. Bjorn opened the door and Sookie stepped in.

“Que Linda!” Tonantzin said when she saw Sookie.

Eric gently led Sookie up next to him and addressed the group, “Allow me to introduce my wife, Queen Sookie Northman. Sookie, this is the Goddess Tonantzin, Penelope, Priestess of Vesta, Loup-Garou, the oldest living Were, and of course you know Our Lady, the Ancient Pythoness and Niall.”

Niall stepped around the conference table to kiss Sookie on the cheek. “Hello, my dear. We are all very proud of your performance today. You look very pretty tonight.”

“Oh, thank you, Niall,” Sookie gave him a big smile. “I’m very pleased to meet you all.” Sookie tried to use her best manners to make Eric and Niall proud.”

“Sookie,” Tonantzin spoke with a strange accent, “May I read the baby?” She stepped around the table and held out her hand and let the Goddess touch her belly. “He is Freyja’s, yes?”

Sookie looked at Eric, who said, “Yes, Lady, he is.”

“He is very happy, your little warrior.” Tonantzin said to Eric, then to Sookie, “Such a pretty mama he has – he will be a happy boy.” She stroked Sookie’s cheek softly and a sense of wellbeing Sookie had never experienced before washed over her.

“I brought you a gift, Sookie,” The Roman Priestess said, as she stepped forward and produced two twigs of laurel leaves, which she gently arranged on each side of Sookie’s tiara. “When he is born, put these in the little one’s bed to help him grow strong and have good luck. When he is older, sew them into his pillow. Bay Laurel is his friend.”

“Oh, thank you so much!” Sookie gushed.

Loup-Garou, the old French Werewolf, stepped forward. “He will have special powers in the light of the moon, but only in its direct light. In the light of the moon he can see the future as clearly as if he were there. Teach him to talk to the moon and She will help him know what to do next. The most dangerous night of the month for him is the dark of the moon. Bjorn Andersen?”

Bjorn looked up, stunned. “Yes, Elder?”

“You are charged with a great task to keep this woman and her pup safe. Many lives depend upon his growing strong and true. Never forget why you are here – nothing must interfere with the child’s best interests.”

“I will remember, Elder.” Bjorn bowed deeply.

“Well, we don’t want to make you late for your own party,” Niall said as he stood. He handed Eric a scroll with a seal. “Northman, you received an offer from a local Coven to hold a Wiccaning for the child, did you not?”

“I did.”

“Freyja says Lughnasadh looks favorable for the event. When you return home, you’ll want to let them know the date so they can prepare.”

“Will the child be born before then – the due date was after August 1st?” Eric was confused.

“Oh, he’ll be more than ready by the Sabbat. You’ll need to start marking the sabbats you know, with a Witch child. His first will be Lammas Night.” And with that, they were gone.

Eric, Sookie, Bjorn and Bill were all stunned. Bill pulled out a chair and sat at the table. Sookie wrapped her arms around Eric and Bjorn joined Bill at that table.

“Eric were they really…”

“A Goddess, a Priestess and Elder – oh my.” Eric made a wry joke, opening the scroll.

“Such important people…”

“Not people, my Angel, immortals. Penelope goes back to Ancient Rome. The Ancient Pythoness is older still. Tonantzin – probably to the beginning of time. She is so powerful she even managed to survive the shift to Christianity as the Virgin of Guadalupe.”

“You mean She was THE…”

“Yes, the Indian depiction of Mary is actually Tonantzin and She still appears to Her people.”

“Why was She here?”

“The event tonight is for North America – She’s an American Goddess.” Bill explained, coming out of his shock. “There are huge, huge forces at work here.”

“Yes there are.” Eric agreed, handing the scroll to Bill, “The territories have been redrawn. I am now King of the single largest territory on the continent.”

“Should I be scared?” Sookie asked.

“No, my Queen, you should be honored.” He squeezed her shoulders. “And we should be going. They want us to enter at 9:30.”

“The little shuttle is waiting for you down stairs.” Bjorn added.

Bobbie was all ready when they went back out and they all prepared to leave. “Wow, everyone looks gorgeous!” she said when she saw them all together and she reached up absent mindedly and adjusted Bjorn’s bow tie. “You look like James Bond.” She laughed.

Bill frowned and offered her his arm. Sookie took Eric’s arm and Bjorn stayed right behind her as they went to the elevator, the other guards falling in behind.

“Where is Pam? And Amelia and Octavia?” Eric asked.

“They’re already at the Ball. They didn’t want to wait because you two will be making your grand entrance.”

“Ah, yes, well… are you ready, Sookie?”

“No, but I will be by the time we get there.”

They reached the bottom floor where the shuttle cart was waiting. Two of the guards already had the wheel chair on the cart so they could keep it handy in case Sookie needed it. There was room for 7 people including the driver. The rest of the Were and Vampire guards followed behind. The driver was in front of Bobbie and Bill, Eric and Sookie behind them and Bjorn behind Sookie. It took them a while to get to the Ball Room so it was nearly 10 by the time Eric lifted Sookie down off the cart. Bill and Bobbie went on into the Party.

Sandy was standing outside the door they were to enter wearing a headphone and carrying a walkie-talkie. There were a couple of attendants who fussed around Eric and Sookie making sure they looked as perfect as possible and Sandy sounded a cue that had the sound of heraldic trumpets begin playing. Eric and Sookie began to walk forward as the announcement sounded, “Please stand for your hosts, His Royal Majesty Eric Northman and his beautiful wife, Queen Sookie!”

Sookie plastered on the emergency smile and stood as straight as she could as Eric escorted her out onto the dance floor, cameras flashing everywhere. There were easily over 3000 people there and most of them were watching Eric and Sookie. The orchestra started playing “I Could Have Danced All Night” and cameras were still going off furiously as Eric twirled Sookie on the dance floor then picked her up and twirled around with her the way she loved and everyone applauded. Her long dress flowed outward as he did and she felt like she was flying, smiling brilliantly and laughing, focused on nothing other than her beautiful Eric and his arms around her. Others gradually moved onto the dance floor with them and when the song ended Eric held Sookie’s hand aloft and bowed to her and she curtsied to him just out of instinct.

The crowd parted as Eric led Sookie to the back of the room where her little receiving area was set up. Since she had been there they had added two large red velvet… well, “thrones” was the only way to describe them. Eric sat in the larger one and Sookie in the smaller one, Bjorn moving into place directly behind Sookie.

“I think we looked very good on the dance floor, my Angel, what do you think?”

“I don’t know how we looked but it was fun, even if I am a little queasy,” Sookie joked and Eric cracked up. A line formed almost immediately to say hello to them, and Eric motioned to the first person to approach. Sookie was just as sweet as ever even though the line was so long she couldn’t see the end of it. Russell Eddington and Carolina from the New York Territories came up and Eric invited them to sit on one of the velvet couches. They chatted in between saying hello to other attendees, who continued to move through slowly.

“How are you feeling, my dear?” the elegant Carolina asked her.

“Oh, I’m doing well. I’m looking forward to the birth, though.” Sookie laughed.

“I can imagine you are – you must be uncomfortable to be so big, but you positively glow with health. We’re all so anxious to see little Eric Alexander. He’s going to be one of a kind in many ways.”

“Yes, he already seems that way to me. I swear I already know his personality through the bond.”

“The bond?” Carolina was curious and Russell’s ears perked up, too.

“Yes, the blood bond between Eric and me – the baby is a part of it.”

“Really? That’s fascinating – this is probably the first baby ever born to anyone with a blood bond!”

“I have Sookie writing things down now because there are so many unique aspects of the pregnancy and the baby. No one can find any record of it happening before,” Eric explained.

“That’s a wonderful idea. Everyone is trying desperately to make it happen for them, you know?” Carolina hinted.

“Oh, I didn’t know that…” Sookie looked at Eric.

“Well, we wish them luck. It has been such a blessing to us that I cannot imagine how I lived my life before the child. It has changed everything in the very best ways.” Eric smiled and kissed Sookie’s hand.

“Well, I think we should go dance, Russell, and let them continue with their reception line. Best of luck to you both.” Carolina and Russell excused themselves.

Sabrina was nervous about being able to get into the door. She had a fake ID made with the long blonde wig she was wearing, but she had been a Sheriff and it wouldn’t be out of the question for someone at the Ball to recognize her. She didn’t have a specific plan, but she had a few tricks up her sleeve, especially if the rumors about Sookie being Fae were true. One way or another, Queen Sookie was going to be out of Eric’s life for good tonight.

Sookie was getting tired, but she kept smiling and graciously accepting the gifts, flowers and invitations that were accumulating on the table next to her. Eric could feel through the bond that she was getting tired and hungry, so he called an attendant to bring her a plate of salmon and caviar with trimmings plus a glass of sweet tea or champagne. When people saw the Queen was being served food, they dispersed for a bit so she could eat in peace. Eric kissed her and went to mingle, while Sookie had a snack and relaxed for a minute. She chatted with Bjorn a little as he straightened up the stack of gifts and invitations and she savored the caviar which was quickly becoming one of her favorite things. Baby E seemed to agree because he was doing his happy dance. Bobbie, Amelia and Octavia came and sat with Sookie for a few minutes and told her how gorgeous everything was and telling her little bits of gossip they had picked up and what people were saying about her and Eric.

Eric was bopping around the room schmoozing all the other regents and a random Council member here or there, plus saying hello to all of his own sheriffs. He chatted with Bill for a minute and then he had the strangest feeling something was wrong. He asked Bill if he had noticed any problems of any sort but Bill assured him everything seemed to be fine. Eric continued chatting, but there was a nagging feeling he was missing something – that he had seen something but it didn’t register at the time. Something was wrong.

Russell Eddington was taking the stage to thank all of his Sheriffs by name when Sookie said she needed to go to the bathroom. Octavia and Amelia were going to wait at the couches, but Bobbie went with Sookie so she wouldn’t be alone in the ladies’ room. Bjorn escorted them, having Bobbie go in to see how many women were in there. Two women were on their way out, but otherwise the bathroom was empty so Sookie was allowed to enter and Bjorn stationed himself at the door. People were still roaming around the halls, arriving and going out to the patio or wandering down to the shops at the hotel so there was plenty of traffic. Bjorn thought he smelled a familiar perfume but he couldn’t place it and he didn’t see any women that he knew.

When they returned to the couches, Octavia and Amelia were both dancing with distinguished-looking Were gentlemen, but Bobbie sat down because Bill was schmoozing with the sheriffs from the Nevadas, Eric telling them all about the redrawing of the territories. There were cameras on Eric everywhere he went all night, but the million dollars was earned within three minutes of his first entrance with Sookie.

Sookie was pleased to see that her snack had been replenished, and took a big drink of sweet tea which she immediately spit back out, alarming Bjorn and Bobbie.

“Sookie what happened?” Bjorn asked.

“It’s full of lemon.”

“Oh my Goddess – the baby! There are no lemons on the buffet, Sookie, everyone was commenting on it.” Bobbie said,

“That’s because I can’t have them so Eric gave an order that no lemon was to be used or served tonight.”

“Bobbie, are you sure there are no lemons here anywhere?” Bjorn needed her to be sure.

“Yes, I even asked someone about it – they said it was by order of the King.”

Bjorn called Sandy on his earpiece and she came to the receiving area. Having confirmed that there were no lemons on the buffet or anywhere in the kitchens or pantries, Bjorn motioned to Eric who came back immediately.

“What’s going on?”

“Someone filled Sookie’s drink with lemon.”

“What? Lemons were strictly forbidden here.”

“Exactly.”

“You think this was…”

“An assassination attempt. Somebody just tried to kill your baby.”

Sookie’s eyes grew big, “You think someone was deliberately trying to kill the baby? Who would do something like that?”

“Good question.” Eric said, “I’ve had a feeling for the last half hour that something was wrong – like I saw something I didn’t catch.”

“I swore I smelled something familiar out in the hallway but I couldn’t place it. It’s bugging me, too.”

“Where did you pick up that scent?”

“Outside the ladies room – out the door down to the corner.”

Eric went out the door to the area Bjorn indicated and came back in a rush. “Sabrina – you smelled Sabrina. I’ll bet anything I saw her and it didn’t register – that’s what’s wrong, she’s here.”

“Sabrina?” Sookie asked, “You think she tried to kill me?”

“She tried to kill my son.” Eric said, furious. He had had all of Sabrina’s shit he intended to take. Being jealous of Sookie was one thing. Trying to kill his son was reason to die.

Bjorn summoned all of his troops to meet him in the corridor and Eric went with them. He told Sookie to act as if nothing was wrong, so she had Bobbie throw the food away and get her a fresh plate while Sandy stayed with her.

“How are things going, Sandy?”

“It’s a great success. Everyone is talking about how pretty and sweet you are, and how handsome Eric is. Everyone is in love with you both. You wouldn’t believe the calls we’ve had from the press. Everyone wants him to be on their shows.”

“Is he going to do TV, then?”

“No, he’s not. He said it’s better to let them wonder. He wants you to do appearances because you are so sweet, but he thinks being elusive will add to his mystique.”

“Oh, brother,” Sookie rolled her eyes and Sandy laughed, then Sookie realized she shouldn’t have done that.

“Don’t worry, your majesty, I won’t tell on you.” Sandy said when she saw the look of fear on Sookie’s face. “It will be our secret.”

Eric came back and sat down, thanking Sandy and dismissing her so she could return to work. “I’ll be staying with you until Bjorn comes back.”

“Where is he?”

“He’s looking at security tapes to see if he can see Sabrina coming in. It shouldn’t take him long.”

As the fourth regent took the stage to acknowledge his Sheriffs, the line formed again and Eric and Sookie greeted people for a bit, while Octavia came back and sat with Sookie. Sookie smiled at Octavia, and Octavia picked up that she was worried.

“Trouble?”

“I think so.”

“They got it under control?”

“Not yet.”

“You listen to your instincts, Sookie, and you’ll be OK.”

“I hope you’re right. I hope that’s true when somebody is actively out to get you.”

“Give me your hand, girl, and concentrate. Picture the person that’s after you being exposed – being found out. Everyone can see him…”

“Her.”

“Ok, everyone can see her – she stands out. You see her before she can hurt you. See it in your mind. Feel it in your bones.”

Sookie concentrated even as she smiled and said hello to person after person. At one point, Sookie felt as if the walls of her mind fell away and she could see Bjorn, looking at a TV screen, saying “got her.”

“He’s got her.” Eric and Octavia looked at her. “Bjorn – he saw her on the tape.”

Octavia nodded, proud of Sookie for zeroing in so quickly.

In less than a minute, Bjorn came back in, “Eric, she’s wearing a long blonde wig and a straight black gown.”

“Everybody is wearing a black gown, but blonde hair should be easy to spot.” Eric said.

“I need air.” Sookie said.

“What?” Eric was taken aback.

“I need air, Eric, I can’t breathe. I feel sick.”

“Bjorn, you and Octavia take her out to the Grand Patio. I’ll tell Bill and Bobbie what to look for and then I’ll join you. You did tell your guards what to look for?”

“Yes, of course,”

“Ok, go on out and I’ll be there.”

Sabrina was in the hallway directly out from where Bjorn was talking to Eric and she saw Sookie and the others moving toward the door to go out of the room on the other wall. She slipped around the corner and saw them take Sookie to the patio, where a few people were sitting at tables and talking.

“It’s gorgeous out here!” Sookie said, instantly feeling better, getting a surge of energy that made her tingle. Octavia took a seat and Bjorn kept watch on the people moving in and out.

Octavia had her back to the inside of the building and Sookie was leaning back on a banister that looked out over an area below filled with shrubs and plants. The other people on the patio wandered back into the corridor and into the Ball as Harry Connick Jr. took the stage. Bjorn got a call on his headphone and turned his back for a second to get a better signal. Out of nowhere a dark streak flew at Sookie but a flash of light exploded in front of her and stopped it dead in the air just before it hit her. Sabrina landed on the ground, dazed from the force that came from Sookie or the baby or both. Eric felt Sookie panic and flew back to the patio where a fight too fast for the human eye to see broke out. Sookie was bumped in the tussle between two streaks of black and she nearly fell backwards, but Bjorn caught her arm and steadied her as streak one, Sabrina, was getting the hell beaten out of her by streak two, Eric, who squeezed her neck so hard it broke and then he flew over the banister with her before she could move. Eric Alexander was kicking like crazy sending Fight! Fight!, causing Sookie to double over for a minute. Sookie, Bjorn and Octavia heard a shriek that no one inside could hear because of the music, and in a minute Eric flew back up on the patio. Bjorn and Octavia were a little shocked at seeing Eric fly, but it passed quickly as Sookie threw her arms around him and hugged him tight.

Bjorn looked at Eric, “She’s dead?”

“Yes, I staked her with a branch. There’s nothing but ash, a black dress and a wig down there. Call off the alert and get rid of what’s left.” Eric brushed off his sleeve as Sookie straightened his tie, “I’m going to dance with my wife. Walk in with us, Octavia.” Eric offered each woman an arm and was sending a clear signal that they were all to act as if nothing had happened, so that’s what they did. Bjorn took a garbage bag out of a trash can in the men’s room and used it to scoop up the clothes and wig – there was nothing left of Sabrina to pick up and he figured the sprinklers would just wash her into the ground so he kicked the clumps around a little so there were no big ones anywhere, all the time trying not to think about this being what was left of a woman he’d bedded many times. He wondered what would have happened if Eric hadn’t been there. Could he have handled Sabrina, as strong as she was? Would he have been able to bring himself to kill her?

By the time Bjorn got into the Ball, Eric was twirling Sookie around the floor again and everyone was watching them. Women were absolutely swooning over Eric and everyone was talking about how sweet Sookie had been to them and how happy she looked with him. There were whispers about what Sookie had said about sex with Vampires, which ALL the Vampires took as a compliment and the male Vamps were swooning over Sookie even though… or maybe especially because…. she was pregnant. More than one Vamp had noticed Sookie’s extra sweet scent, too, and that fueled the flames of the Fae rumor.

Harry dedicated a song called “We Make a Lot of Love” to hosts Eric and Sookie and everyone cheered. After, he thanked them for the upcoming fundraiser in New Orleans and gave it a great plug, reminding people it was only 6 days away and saying he already had his tickets. He also said he’d ask “pretty Queen Sookie” to dance, but he was afraid of King Eric and everyone laughed and cheered.

Eric and Sookie took the stage next, Eric holding awards to give each of his twelve Sheriffs. Sookie called their names and Eric shook hands with them as they came forward. He started with the Nevada territories and when it came to the Louisiana territories he saved Pam for last. When Sookie reached Pam’s name, she read “King Eric’s special childe, Sheriff Pamela Ravenscroft of Shreveport,” which got huge applause and Eric gave Pam a kiss on each cheek instead of shaking her hand. Finally, Eric called Bill Compton, his “second in command” to the stage and Sandy, giving her special recognition for creating “this marvelous event.” He thanked everyone for attending and then introduced the next regent, Carolina, to give her Sheriffs’ awards.

As Eric and Sookie left the stage, he saw some of the European regents standing together and took Sookie over to introduce her to them.

“Northman! Very nice presentation!” The attractive man with light brown hair and blue eyes was wearing gold medals and a blue sash and was obviously important.

“Thank you, King Stefan! May I introduce my lovely wife, Sookie? Stefan is the King of Germany, sweetheart.”

“Lovely – she is lovely!” Stefan kissed Sookie’s hand. “Allow me to introduce Antoine, King of France and Giselle, Queen of Austria.”

Giselle shook Sookie’s hand lightly and Antoine, not to be outdone by a German, kissed her hand enthusiastically.

“I’m very pleased to meet you all.” Sookie wanted to make a good impression because these were three of the classiest people she had ever met. Everything about them was polished and groomed and cultured in a way that she had only seen in old black and white movies.

“Ven ees the bebe due?” Giselle, a petite woman with raven hair and alabaster skin, asked.

“Sometime before August 1st.” Sookie answered.

“You vweel bring the leetle Prince to veesit us, yah? Ven he ees big enough to vwalk. I haf not had a bebe in my home in 500 years.” Giselle stroked Sookie’s tummy lovingly, but it creeped Sookie out just a little. She kept smiling, though, like a good Queen. She knew she had to be as gracious as possible to other regents in general but these people were obviously the crème de la crème of Vamp society.

“Oh, that’s very kind of you…” Sookie looked at Eric.

“We would be honored, of course, Giselle, when he’s old enough to travel.”

“You’re the envy of the Vampire world, you know, Northman. Everyone wants to know your secret,” Stefan said.

“There was magick involved, but I am not at liberty to give details.” Eric explained.

“The Fae did it for the girl, yes?” Antoine asked. “I would pay 10 million Euros to have a child. If your magician is interested, send him to me.”

“I will pass the message along, but I doubt it would be possible. I’ll certainly ask, though, Antoine.” Eric assured him. “One never knows what a magician is willing to do.”

“Yes, and Fae are fond of treasure, which I can provide in abundance,” Antoine laughed and everyone laughed with him. “I might be persuaded to sign over a chateau in the Loire Valley as well.”

“That’s very generous. The Chateau region is beautiful.” Eric said.

“Have you been to the Loire Valley, my dear?” Antoine asked Sookie.

“Oh, no, I haven’t…”

“Sookie and I haven’t had a chance to travel since we got together, but I plan to take her on an extensive trip through Scandinavia and Europe when the child is old enough.”

“Be sure to call me when you do. I’ll make a chateau available for you – how would you like to wake up in a castle, my dear?”

“Oh, that would be amazing! I’d love that,” she assured him.

“The gardens alone are worth the trip. It is beautiful country.”

“Yes, it is,” Stefan agreed. “You must bring your lovely Queen to Germany as well, Northman. The people would adore her. She is such a beauty!”

“Thank you, Stefan. I agree with you. She is the most beautiful girl in the world to me.”

“Vwery Sveet, he is, eh, my dear?” Giselle was actually making a bit of girl talk with Sookie, who couldn’t believe his woman would even speak to a girl like her unless she planned to make a meal out of her – and she knew that wasn’t necessarily out of the question in this case. “So handsome. The two of you vwere stunning on the dance floor.”

“Oh, thank you. Have you danced tonight? That’s always my favorite part of the evening.”

“Yes, Stefan und I danced und I entertained a vwilling donor. Vwery young und sveet.”

“Oh, good. We want you to have a good time.”

“Sweetheart, Sandy is summoning us – we need to receive more guests. It was lovely seeing you all – I hope you will forgive us…”

“Not at all, Northman, we all have our duties, do we not! We’ll talk soon,” Stefan handed Eric his card and while Eric pulled some of his from his pocket, Antoine and Giselle produced their own.

“Thank you so much, all of you,” Eric said.

“It was lovely meeting you all.” Sookie said as she took Eric’s arm and went with him back to the receiving area. The line formed immediately when people saw Eric and Sookie going in that direction and the process of greeting, introducing, thanking, hundreds of people started all over again, Bjorn at his station by her shoulder.

Eric noticed a grimace or two from Sookie when she thought no one was looking, and realized she was having cramps or twinges or something. “What is wrong, my Angel?”

“I think the… excitement… earlier has me cramping a bit. I’m getting these deep, hard twinges.”

“Bjorn – find Bobbie, please, Sookie may be unwell.” Eric ordered softly. Sookie kept smiling as much as she could, but she was squirming a little as the cramps moved into her back.

Bjorn and Bobbie headed back toward Sookie and Octavia left the buffet table to follow them, knowing something was wrong. Amelia was dancing with Pam, so she didn’t bother her, since they seemed to be having fun.

Bobbie knelt next to Sookie’s throne. “What’s going on, Sweetie?”

“I’m having cramps in my lower back and my lower abdomen.”

“How often?”

“I get little ones often, but I get a really bad one about every ten minutes.”

“Any idea what it is, Bobbie?” Eric was very concerned.

“Well, it would be best to ask her doctor, but my guess would be Braxton-Hicks contractions – false labor. The thing is, it could also be real labor, but I hope not because it is way too early.”

“Alright, I want you and Bjorn to take Sookie up to our room and call Dr. Ludwig. I’ll follow as quickly as I can, but it might be a while. I have my cell if you need to call me.”

When people realized that Sookie would be leaving, they slowly walked up in front of her and left their gifts at her feet. Sookie smiled and thanked them all as Bjorn helped her stand, and they applauded softly. Everybody wanted Sookie to take care of herself and the baby, so no one would begrudge her needing to leave early. Vampires didn’t know a lot about pregnancies, but you only had to look at Sookie to know that her little body was going through a lot. As Sookie began to leave they called “We love you, Sookie!” “Feel better, Sookie,” and things of that sort and she smiled and waved as Bjorn and Bobbie ushered her out the door to the waiting shuttle cart.

Bill came over to Eric, who was accepting well wishes for Sookie and the baby.

“Is there a problem, Eric?”

“Sookie is having cramps. Probably false labor pains, but they’re going to call Dr. Ludwig just to be safe. Bobbie went upstairs with her and Bjorn.”

“Alright, well, I assume you’d like me to stay and keep representing the Kingdom?”

“Yes, for a while, especially if I have to leave. I’m planning to stay a while and work the room, but if they call my cell, of course, I’ll go to Sookie.”

Pam came over to sit on one of the couches. “Problem, boys?”

“Sookie’s having cramps,” Eric explained

“Someone going to call the doctor?”

“Yes, they will.”

“Good. Want to dance, Bill?” Pam purred at him.

Eric raised an eyebrow, but Bill said ‘yes’ and he and Pam went to the dance floor. Eric figured Bill was just being defiant, or maybe he was trying to act as if he didn’t care that Bobbie and Bjorn were together at the moment. He didn’t think about it long because he was more concerned about Sookie. He finished with the receiving line that was there now and when it thinned out, he went to look for Sandy.

“Sandy…”

“I heard, your majesty, if you need to go, feel free. Things will be winding down soon and we can handle it from here. All of your official duties are done.”

“Alright, then, I’ll go – I really should be with Sookie, anyway.”

“Yes – the Prince must come first. He needs to be everyone’s priority now.”

“I agree. I will talk to you later.” Eric left at great speed wanting to catch up to Sookie. When he finally got up to the room they were still getting her settled into bed. “Have you called Ludwig yet?”

“She’s going to be here in half an hour,” Bjorn told him. “She thinks it’s false labor, too, but she’ll know more when she gets here. She said she might give Sookie something to stop the contractions, just in case. She really wants to delay the birth another couple of weeks if she can. ”

“What if she can’t?”

“Then his lungs might be unable to handle it and he’d need to be on a respirator. The longer he’s in the womb, the better.”

“A respirator. So he will need to breathe?”

“Probably, but we won’t know for sure until he’s born. There are so many unknowns in this case, it’s hard to say.”

Eric went into the bedroom. “How are you feeling, Sookie?”

“I’m still having cramps, but they’re not coming any faster and they seem to be not as intense.” Sookie had her nightgown on and Bobbie was rubbing her back.

“OK, good. The doctor is coming.”

“Yeah, Bjorn told us. I’m so sorry I had to leave early. You can go back if you want to…”

“Don’t be silly, Sookie. Everything that is important to me is here in this room. The rest of it is nothing compared to you and Eric Alexander.” He sat on the bed next to her and took her hand in his, kissing it and holding it.

The doctor appeared then, carrying her giant carpet bag and obviously in a hurry. “Well, little girl, we’re having cramps are we?”

“Yes, doctor.”

“They were coming at steady intervals for a while, so we were concerned it might be labor or Braxton-Hicks.”

“Well, let’s see here.” The little doctor put her hand on Sookie’s tummy and pressed around a little. “The good news is I think this is just false labor. I’m going to give you a shot to stop the contractions and you are going to stay in bed until you absolutely have to get out of it. Northman, do you have an itinerary?”

“Yes, doctor, I do.”

“Well, let’s see it.”

Eric went to his suitcase and pulled out the itinerary for the trip and handed it to her.

“You know I don’t like this traveling this late…”

“Yes, doctor.” Sookie said.

“All right, you travel Tuesday the 30th, have your fundraiser the 3rd and travel home on the 5th? Fine. When you travel, you’re in a wheel chair. The rest of the time you are in bed. If you absolutely must go out you are in the wheel chair. It’s time to start taking it easy with the sex, too. You can still have it gently, orgasms are still good, but nothing wild until after the baby comes. It won’t be that long, neither one of you will explode.”

“Yes, doctor.” Sookie was not pleased with that news.

The little doctor took a bottle and syringe out of her bag and gave Sookie an injection, then asked to speak to Eric privately so they went to the conference room.

“Alright, Northman, now pay attention. She’s going to need more and more attention from you as the due date approaches. I hope we can hold the birth off until you get back home, but it’s looking iffy. He’s anxious to get out but we don’t know the state of his lungs and won’t until he’s born. You pay her lots of attention – her instincts are going to start telling her to cling to you and to stay close to home. She may become very homesick. She’s not to be alone at any time. I want another adult with a cell phone with her every minute. I don’t want her in very hot or very cold water. If she gets cramps again give her ibuprofen and if that doesn’t help in 30 minutes, you call me. She’s going to fight about staying in bed so make her use the wheel chair and make her rest as much as you can. Rare or raw meat as long as it’s not ground meat – steak tartare is great if she can eat it. No caffeine, nothing that stimulates. Lots of RM. Lots of massage. Lots of organic milk – she’s not drinking enough of it. Send someone to the store and keep it here in the room. Chocolate milk is fine, and so it dark chocolate candy – it will help her heart and give her a feeling of wellbeing. If she craves salt or seafood, let her have it. Alright – call if you need me,” and she was gone.

Eric came out of the conference room to find Bjorn talking to another guard. “Bjorn, come on in when you’re done.” He walked into the bedroom. “Bobbie, call the kitchen and see if they have organic milk. If so, have them send up a good amount, and order Sookie some steak tartare and check our supply of RMs, please. Thanks.”

“Be right back.” Bobbie went to call the kitchen, squeezing past Bjorn as he came through the door, deliberately rubbing up against him, of which Bjorn and Eric both took note.

“I’ll wait until Bobbie gets back to go over it all with you both at the same time,” Eric said.

Bjorn nodded, “Where’s Bill?” he asked, trying to sound casual about it.

“He’s still at the Ball representing the kingdom supposedly, but he was dancing with Pam when I left.”

“Is there a history with them?” It was out of Bjorn’s mouth before he realized it.

“Bill and Pam? I thought before now that they hated each other. Apparently there was some underlying attraction to all the sniping they used to do at each other.”

“Wait,” Sookie said, “Bill and Pam do hate each other. Why would you think anything else?”

Bjorn and Eric looked at each other. What should they tell Sookie?

“They were on the plane together last night.”

“That was just a coincidence though, right?”

“As far as I know.”

“Well, what’s the big deal? It’s not like they had sex on the… NO, HE DIDN’T!” Sookie knew he did, though, and it didn’t surprise her a bit. As much as she wanted to think of Bill as a great guy, the truth was that he was as much a slave to his impulses as any man she had ever known. Pam didn’t think in terms of loyalty where sex was concerned – she was all about sensation. If it felt good – or even if it hurt – Pam would do it. That was a major part of Sookie’s attraction to Pam. It was actually possible to have no strings sex with her, and that’s not really possible with most people no matter what they say. “Don’t say anything,” Sookie whispered.

“You don’t think she should know?” Eric asked.

“I don’t know – let me think about it a while. Maybe he’ll tell her himself.”

Eric and Bjorn both laughed, knowing that would never happen.

“Yeah, you’re right, he won’t.” Sookie resigned herself to the fact that Bill wouldn’t come clean of his own volition.

“Maybe there’s nothing to tell – it is Pam…” Eric said.

“Eric – she’s your childe! Don’t make her sound like a public utility.”

“I’m not saying she’s a whore, Sookie, but she doesn’t attach feelings to sex as most people do. It won’t have meant anything to her. She judges relationships by the quality of the orgasm, not the person she’s with.”

“And whose fault is that?” Sookie already knew the answer.

“It’s no one’s fault but it is partially an effect of my training.”

“Really?” Bjorn asked. He didn’t know Pam’s history with Eric.

“Yes, I made her because I wanted a sex partner and I chose her and trained her to be just what I wanted at the time. I did a spectacular job of teaching her about all aspects of sex. She was an enthusiastic and creative student. She’s quite exceptional in bed.”

“Yes, she is…” Sookie and Bjorn spoke in unison and looked at each other, hesitated, then laughed.

“You created a monster, Eric.” Sookie laughed.

“She thinks the same thing about you, Sookie.”

“Yeah, she does.” Sookie laughed.

“Damn….” Bjorn said, laughing. “Eric, can I be you for a while?”

“It’s not completely out of the question…”

Bobbie came back in. “They’re on their way up with steak tartare, organic milk and RMs.”

“Alright – you can get Sookie some dark chocolate tomorrow, the doctor said it will make her feel better. If she has anymore contractions, give her ibuprofen and if it doesn’t help in 30 minutes, call Dr. Ludwig. Sookie is to be accompanied by, and I quote, “an adult with a cell phone” every minute. If she moves out of this bed she’s to use the wheel chair. She’s not to be in extremely hot or cold water. Lots of organic milk, lots of rare or raw meat, RMs, lots of massage and only gentle sex. If she craves salt or seafood, let her have it. Ludwig really wants to put the birth off until we get home if at all possible so the baby’s lungs have time to mature.”

“She really thinks it’s immanent then…” Bobbie said.  

“Yes, she does.”

“But every minute?” Sookie said.

“Every minute. I will be with you at night, and Bjorn, Bobbie and Alicia will take turns with you in the daytime, and Amelia and Octavia may help, too. I want a woman in the bathroom with you if you shower or bathe, Sookie, and let them help you so you don’t fall.”

“Alright…” Sookie was annoyed.

“Sookie, it’s really best – a fall right now could send you into labor,” Bobbie said.

“We should check her blood pressure, too, while we’re in here,” Bjorn said. “I’ll get the cuff.”

“Are we sure we don’t just want to go ahead and birth this baby already?” Sookie was annoyed now.

“Sookie, yesterday was only 3 ½ months.” Eric reminded her.

“What? It feels like it’s been years…”

“Yesterday marked 3 ½ months, my Angel, I’m tracking it in my calendar.”

“Oh my Goddess!” Bobbie said, “And she’s this big?”

“They were expecting 5 ½ months but it’s looking as if she’ll be lucky to make it to 4 months.” Eric explained

“Sookie, we really need to stretch this out as long as we can then.” Bobbie was adamant now. “I know he’s advanced but his lungs and heart might not be as advanced as his brain.”

“OK, question – everybody has tomorrow off. Who’s going to stay with me?”

“I’ll ask Amelia and Octavia and if they can’t, I’ll stay with you, honey.” Bobbie said. “We won’t leave you alone.” Bobbie patted her hand.

“Thanks. I hate that you all have to babysit me.”

“That’s OK, Sookie. Soon we all get to babysit the baby! That’s going to be fun.”

“Yeah, I can’t wait.” Sookie’s mood brightened immediately.

“But please do.” Eric quipped and the girls cracked up.

Bjorn came back with the blood pressure cuff and it was actually pretty good, so they all relaxed a bit. Bobbie and Bjorn left Sookie and Eric alone once Sookie had her steak and her milk, and went out to the living room where they sat and chatted for two hours until Bill finally came upstairs. When Bill came in, he was surprised to see Bobbie and Bjorn sitting in the living room having what appeared to be an intimate chat.

“How is Sookie doing?” He remembered himself and tried to focus on something else.

“She’s on complete bed rest. The doctor is afraid she’s going to go into labor too early.”

“Was it labor earlier tonight?”

“Probably false labor but she gave her something to stop the contractions anyway. She’s only 3 ½ months, you know.”

“Good lord! Is that all?”

“I know, it seems longer but that’s all. They knew it would be short because it’s a Fae baby and Vamp blood and all that but this is still way too soon.”

“Nothing must happen to that child. The entire community is counting on having a young Prince. People are beside themselves with it. There are already Prince Eric Alexander t-shirts being sold in the parking lot tonight.” Bill pulled a shirt out of his jacket pocket and threw it to Bobbie. She and Bjorn cracked up.

“Hey, what’s going on out there?” Sookie yelled, as Eric fed her toast points with bits of tartare on them.

Bobbie knocked and came in when Sookie called, and she held up the Prince Eric Alexander shirt. Eric was confused, but Sookie’s mouth fell open. Finally, Sookie managed a “NO!” and Bobbie replied, “Yes, they were selling them in the parking lot.”

“They’re selling t-shirts with our baby’s name on them? Are we getting a cut of these? BILL!” Eric called.

Bill came in. “Yes, Eric.”

“They are selling these?”

“Yes.”

“Are we getting a cut?”

“They’re bootlegged. We confiscated two cases of them.”

“Good. We’ll sell them at Fangtasia.”

Sookie cracked up.

“He is our son, Sookie. If someone is going to wear a shirt with his name on it, we are going to get paid.”

“You want to market our baby?”

“Not at all, but if a profit is to be made, should it not go to him, in a trust fund?”

“Well, if you put it that way, yeah, I guess it should.”

“We think they sold 4 cases worth tonight. All anyone could talk about was Sookie leaving early. They’re all so invested in this child’s birth – I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a kind of Prince Eric Alexander Mania.”

Eric cracked up at that. He loved the idea that people were so fascinated with his son – he was, so it seemed perfectly logical to him that others would be, too. “Not even born yet and he’s already a star,” Eric laughed.

“He has a fan club.” Bill said.

“What?” Sookie said, and Eric laughed even louder.

“Yes, he has a fan club. They’re trying to use astrology to predict when he will be born, and there’s a website.”

Eric howled with laughter.

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