Hello, World, this is ALEX
Bjorn woke up first, taking a minute to realize he was in Bobbie’s bed, she cuddled up next to him. He smiled to himself – this was a good night. He figured Eric would know what had gone on because Vamps heard everything, but he thought it best not to tell Sookie or anyone else in their little circle. He didn’t want to piss Bill off, and he wasn’t sure this was anything but sex… though, he was surprised to realize, he wouldn’t mind if it were more. He looked down at Bobbie, who looked very young and sweet as she slept, and he took a deep breath, enjoying her scent. He rolled her gently on her back, nuzzling her neck, and she stirred a little as he kissed her lips and stroked her hip and upper thigh.
She was awake enough to kiss back now, and sleepily stretched, opening her legs beneath him as he moved over her, between her legs, entering her slowly and gently, enjoying the soft moan she let out as she enveloped him. He took her much more slowly than he had a few hours ago, but he did it with relish. He didn’t have to work to get Bobbie “in the mood” – she started out that way, and he already knew she liked for him to take charge and take what he wanted. He also took pleasure in knowing this was something Bill couldn’t do – he couldn’t be there for her in the morning after a night of hot sex, ready for one more go before they had to get up and get on with their day.
He was also surprised that he didn’t rush this process to its conclusion as he would most mornings. He wasn’t anxious to “get off and go home.” If they both didn’t have to work today, he wouldn’t get out of bed at all, and that was a rare impulse in him. He was unusually content this morning, taking long, slow, luxurious strokes in and out of her, taking great care to bring her along with him. Bobby didn’t look athletic, but she was physically oriented – she worked out intently when he was training her, she was good at sex, came easily and she was very sensual. He found that she had a firm build under those apparently soft curves and he was loving the feel of her, soft and warm beneath him.
Bobbie’s hands stroked Bjorn’s muscular back as he moved slowly but intensely on top of her. Now this was the way to wake up in the morning! She reached down and grabbed two hands full of those muscular bottom cheeks of his and moved to meet his every stroke. She was surprised how long he lasted – most guys would have grabbed a morning quickie at most and then been out the door. Bjorn seemed to like being where he was and he was stretching it out in the most delicious way. After a long while Bobbie nipped at the muscles in his neck and he responded enthusiastically, speeding up as she began to come and he seemed to follow her almost on cue. She thought about that later – he had done it twice in the night. Was Bjorn able to come on cue? She had known one very young guy who could do that, but that was ages ago. She’d certainly never met a guy Bjorn’s age with that kind of control. He was very disciplined in other ways, though, so maybe he could? DAMN!
Bjorn and Bobbie both laughed quietly as they lay there recovering.
“Oh – h, I wish we didn’t have to work today.” Bjorn was half-joking, half-serious.
“Yeah, me too, but it’s kind of hard to call in sick when your boss is asleep downstairs,” Bobbie laughed.
“You’re right.” Bjorn kissed her. “We can do this again, right? Soon?”
Bobbie couldn’t believe he said that – she expected him to act weird and pretend nothing had happened. “Yeah, of course. I’d like that.”
“Me, too.” He gave her another kiss, then jumped up and pulled on his pants and t-shirt, quietly slipping out the door and heading for the stairs, carrying his shoes, socks and underwear. He stopped at the top of the stairs to make sure no one was stirring below, then quietly sneaked down to the second floor so he could shower and get to work guarding Sookie and the baby. He would be tired, but it was going to be a good day.
Bobbie knew she could sleep longer if she wanted to. Even if she was going to do massage or exercise with Sookie, it would probably be later in the day, since Sookie would sleep late. She figured Bjorn would be in the shower, so she decided she would wait until he had a chance to shower, dress and go downstairs before she got up.
Sookie had had a long morning. Eric went to rest at about 5:30, and the baby cried every half hour since then. He didn’t always feed when she picked him up and those times he kept crying no matter what she or Alicia did. They’d finally get him settled, he’d sleep for 5 or 10 minutes and then off he would go again. Sookie wondered to herself if he was crying because the sun was out. Their bedroom was darkened with special panels at the window, but just knowing the sun was out might affect a Vampire baby. Then again, he might be missing Eric. He might have gas. Or he might just be a baby. He wasn’t sending Sookie any readable emotions, either. He was simply not happy, but she couldn’t tell why. Bjorn showed up around 9 am and Sookie was walking back and forth with little Alex, obviously in need of sleep.
“He’s fussy, huh?” Bjorn observed.
“Yes, and I can’t tell why. He’s got a fresh diaper on, I’ve tried to feed him, but that isn’t what he wants. I can’t figure out why he’s squirming this way.” The baby stretched and twisted his back, his arms flailing.
“It’s like he’s reaching for something.” Bjorn said.
“Huh – yeah, could be, but I don’t know what.”
“Good morning, Bjorn,” Alicia came in, “Here, try this” Alicia showed a pacifier in her hand.
“OK, it’s worth a shot. Lookie, Alex! Alicia brought you a binky! Here, Sweetie, take the binky…” The baby resisted a little, then accepted the pacifier and seemed alright for the moment.
“Here, Sookie, let me take him, and you try to sleep. You need more than a couple of hours and you’re having company later today and tonight.”
“Yes, Octavia and Amelia will be here around 3 PM, Niall Brigant is coming at 8 and your brother is supposed to show up at some point.”
“Great. OK, yeah, I guess I better try to sleep some more. I hope the binky keeps him happy for a while.” Sookie got back in bed and closed her eyes. Alicia took the baby into the next room and Bjorn was sitting at the side table, watching Sookie try to sleep when it happened.
“Not again!” Bjorn said.
Sookie opened her eyes and saw a bottle of RM floating through the air. Sookie snatched it out of the air and called out, “Alicia?”
“Could you put a little RM in a baby bottle for me and I’ll see if that’s what he wants?”
“I think Margaret actually made up a couple of bottles down stairs. I’ll go get one if you think it will help.”
“Yeah, I think we’d better try that. Let me have him.” Alicia gave Sookie the baby and went to get a bottle from the kitchen. “Now listen, Alex, Mommy is going to give you some RM and you’re going to stop making things float in the air, OK? You don’t want to freak Alicia and Margaret out, do you?”
The baby stretched and sent Funny. She knew he was laughing at her. “Eric Alexander, I know you think Mommy is funny but I’m being serious…”
“Sookie, are you losing it? You’re talking like he can understand you.” Bjorn laughed.
“He understands enough to be laughing at me for worrying that the maids will figure out what he can do.”
“How do you know that?”
“He sort of sends the emotions to me. He gets amused when he gives me a hard time, and apparently that’s how he sees this situation. He…”
WAHH! Eric Alexander spit out the binky and wailed, stretching and reaching again and the door of the mini-fridge flew open. Bjorn slammed it shut just before Alicia came back with a bottle of RM. “Sorry it took so long, we warmed it a little the way Mr. Northman drinks it.”
“Good thinking. Let’s see.” Sookie laid the baby in her lap so she could check the temperature of the blood on her wrist. It was only a little warm so she picked Alex back up and gave him the bottle. He purred, sucking hard. He was doing fine then he sputtered a little and Sookie realized he had pierced the nipple with his fangs and was choking a bit. Alicia handed her a cloth diaper and Sookie held him up with it under his chin so he could dribble. “Well, that’s what he wants, but we’re going to be spending a lot of money on nipples for a while.”
“My, those little fangs are sharp if they cut through that thick rubber.” Alicia wasn’t sure if she was scared or impressed.
“Yep, they’re sharp, alright. We’ll have to remember to hold him sort of upright like this when we give him a bottle so it doesn’t pour into his mouth if he pierces it this way.”
“He does seem to have calmed down now, doesn’t he? I thought you hadn’t tried giving him any yet?”
“Well, he didn’t want to feed from me and it’s time for me to drink one of these if I was still pregnant, so he knew he wanted whatever it was time for, I guess?” Sookie was talking fast and knew she’d have to get used to it because raising a child with these special powers was going to take some fast talking where humans were concerned. As cool as Alicia was with things so far, it was a little soon for her to know how “interactive” the baby was, let alone that he had telekinesis. She was still getting used to the idea of baby fangs.
Alicia looked at the cloth Sookie was holding. “They really make that RM stuff look like the real thing, don’t they?” She grimaced a bit, and it took Sookie a minute to remember that Alicia didn’t know it was real blood.
“Oh, yeah, well, that’s why it’s so expensive – it’s as close as they can buy to the real thing.”
The little bottle was almost empty when the baby released it and rubbed his little face as he yawned. Sookie and Alicia both “Aww’ed” over him and it was obvious he was ready to sleep now. Sookie settled him into the co-sleeper and he was asleep before she had the tiny blue blanket over him. Sookie lay down next to him and put her hand on his little tummy, and before long, she was asleep, too. Alicia went back to getting Sookie’s wardrobe sorted out, her laundry put away and her packing done while Bjorn sat there thinking about last night with Bobbie once he was sure Sookie was asleep and wouldn’t be listening in on him.
After about 20 minutes, Bobbie came up from having breakfast and they played cards while Sookie slept, exchanging an occasional heated look, but not talking about what they were both thinking. The baby let Sookie get three solid hours sleep before he woke up crying at almost 1:30. Bobbie helped Sookie get him into position to feed and kept an eye on them both as Sookie dozed a little while the baby fed.
“Sookie, do you want me to call Amelia and Octavia and tell them you aren’t up to company today?” Bobbie offered.
“No, I’ll be OK. What time is it?”
“About 1:30. They’ll be here at 3 if I don’t call them.”
“Well, I guess…” she was interrupted by the ring of Bobbie’s phone. It was Amelia calling to see if Sookie was really up to company or if they should try it another time. Bobbie suggested they come at 4:30 and then Sookie could sleep a little more, so they all agreed that would be best and Sookie went back to sleep until about 3:30, when little Alex woke her up again. After she fed him this time she got up and took a shower, Bobbie keeping an ear open to make sure she was OK in there on her own. She came out in her pink robe and Bobbie moved to the bed so she could sit in her side chair and Alicia could do her hair and a little make-up. Niall would be coming later so Sookie decided she might as well dress up a little and try to look healthy and happy – not that she wasn’t, but she was more tired than she wanted anyone to know. She was glad she had Alicia to do her hair because she knew she was too tired to handle blowing it dry.
“Am I always going to be this tired?” Sookie wondered out loud.
“Not always,” Alicia assured her. “You’ll adjust and the baby will eventually sleep regular hours. We’re all going to try to run interference for you so you can get some sleep. Later in the week when your milk is flowing well, you can express some so we can give him a bottle now and then instead of waking you up.”
“Eric won’t be crazy about that. I know he wants me to breastfeed as much as possible.”
“You should let Eric spend a few nights taking care of him alone and he’ll be more cooperative,” Bobbie laughed.
“Yeah, that won’t happen. I know he said he would but I really don’t expect him to. He’ll spend time with the baby but when it comes to feeding or diapers, he’s going to hand him off to me.”
“I’ll bet he doesn’t,” Bjorn said.
“What?” Sookie said incredulously as Bobbie and Alicia laughed.
“I’ll bet he doesn’t hand him off to you. I mean, if there’s a woman around, yeah, he’s not going to change a diaper, but if you’re asleep, Sookie, I’ll bet he won’t wake you up – he’ll deal with it on his own. He’d consider it a point of pride.”
“What’s a “point of pride?” Sookie asked.
“Something a man has to do because he’s a man. Eric would consider it his duty to care for his son – he won’t let him go without what he needs, not on his watch. Eric has done much worse things in his life than handle a dirty diaper or feed a baby. He would consider it a weakness not to be able to do something any woman he knows could handle. When the baby needs him, even for small things, Eric will be there.”
“Are you telling me that if I told Eric that, say, I’m really tired and because we’re going to New Orleans, I need a full night’s sleep, that Eric would take care of the baby all night without waking me?”
“Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. If you don’t believe me, do it.” Bjorn challenged her.
“You really could use the sleep, Sookie. Even with Eric’s blood, you’re tired and this trip is a lot for you so soon after giving birth.” Bobbie said. “I say go for it. Let Daddy be daddy.”
“I couldn’t do that…”
“I don’t see why not,” Alicia chimed in. “I think it’s a great idea. If he wakes you, you’ve lost nothing, if he doesn’t, you’ve got a good night’s sleep. You know he’s not going to neglect the baby, right?”
“Right…” Sookie said cautiously.
“So you get some sleep, and let him take care of the baby. You’ll have to trust him to do it sooner or later.” Alicia was going to push this idea because she thought Sookie was overdoing it with this trip.
“Should l let him do it so soon? Will the baby be able to bond to me if I let other people take care of him so soon?”
“Don’t worry about that, Sookie,” Alicia assured her, “You’re his Mommy and always will be. He’s always going to want you first. A lot of men don’t bond with their babies, you know. The more Eric handles him early on, the closer they’ll be later. If it were up to me, we wouldn’t be going to New Orleans at all, but since we are going, you should get all the rest you can. I think as soon as Mr. Brigant leaves tonight, you should go to bed and let Big Eric care for Baby Eric.”
“Don’t I need to pack for the trip?”
“No, dear, I’ll have that done before I go home tonight. All you’ll have to do tomorrow is get up and get dressed. I’ll have all the baby equipment and such in the living room tonight so we don’t forget anything. Margaret is making up bottles as we speak, since the baby will drink those RM things, and we’ll have those in a cooler. I’m going through your new things and putting some nursing clothes together for the trip so you can feed the baby easily when you want – which reminds me, I want you to try on a pair of jeans I’ve laid out and see if you want to take them with you. I’ve got you some cute pajamas, some of your little knit gowns. Do you want to take a pair of sweat pants?”
“No sweatpants. I don’t know about jeans, either. Eric likes me in dresses. If I have anything that fits, I’d prefer that.”
“You’ve got several very cute little nursing dresses – I just thought you might want to take it easy while you travel.”
“Not that easy. Dresses will be fine, especially if any of them are kind of young and sexy.”
“That’s all you bought, Sookie.” Bobbie reminded her, laughing,
“Good. I am NOT going to get frumpy. I intend to be the hottest mama in Louisiana and then some.”
“Good girl, Sookie.” Bjorn approved. “Eric will appreciate that.”
“Yeah, he says he won’t care if I don’t lose my baby weight, but I don’t intend to find out if he means it or not. Bobbie, I want to start working out as soon as you say it’s time.”
“I’d like to see you rest a couple of days, and then we’ll start back. You’ll be able to work out pretty intensely if you want right from the start. You’ll have your shape back in no time. You barely gained any weight – it was all fluid and baby.”
“Good. I’m going to be back in my bikini by the end of the summer, mark my words.”
“Oh, that reminds me – I’d better pack a least one swim suit for you in case there’s a pool where we are staying.”
“I’ll bet there’s a pool. Victor didn’t do anything small.”
“Who is Victor?” Alicia asked.
Sookie froze – whoops. Maybe she shouldn’t have mentioned him? “Um, he was in charge of the New Orleans office before Bill, before Eric was promoted. He passed away and we’re going to be staying in his old place. It’s supposed to be pretty spectacular, though it won’t be anything like the Las Vegas residence. It will be just a super nice house.”
“That sounds interesting. Is it furnished and everything?”
“Yes, it’s ready to live in. Bill has been staying there, but he wants us to all use it this trip.”
“And we’re looking at properties on Thursday?” Alicia wanted to make sure she had that right.
“Yeah, Eric wants us to look at them in the day time, then we’ll go back to the ones I like with him at night.”
“He puts a lot of trust in you, then.” Alicia observed.
“You think?” Sookie never thought of it that way.
“Yes, if he’s going to let you reject things he hasn’t seen. It means he has no intention of over-ruling you – he’ll probably pick your favorite.”
“I just hope we find something we like. He and Bill are looking forward to concentrating on the rebuilding effort. They have some kind of idea about combining the New Orleans and Las Vegas operations.”
“Ooh, that sounds exciting,” Alicia said as she worked on Sookie’s makeup.
“Yeah, I don’t know a lot about it, but they think it’s a great idea. I dread the idea of moving, though.”
“You won’t do any of it, Sookie – Eric will hire Safe Passage to do that.” Bjorn told her.
“What’s Safe Passage?” Sookie had never heard of … it? Them?
“It’s an exclusive moving service that caters to the Vampire elite. They’ll move this house room by room, you won’t even have to carry your purse if you don’t want to.” Bjorn explained, “You won’t carry anything but a baby or a diaper bag.”
“I’ll have to do some of it, though, won’t I?”
“Probably not, Sookie. Once they’ve got stuff packed and moved to the new place, I’ll do most of the putting away.” Alicia told her. “Royals rarely pack their own dishes.”
“Royals. Yeah, I forgot for a minute,” Sookie said and everybody laughed. “Hey, Alicia, I guess I should wear a nursing dress today, huh?”
“It will make things more convenient, if you want, but a lot of the little knit things you wear are easy to pull down anyway.”
“Yeah, but with company, I think I’ll wear something made for this. There’s a dark pink tank dress, right? I’d like to wear that one if it’s OK.”
“That’s a good choice. It’ll be comfortable and still look polished. What kind of jewelry do you want to wear? I know Mr. Brigant looks at that sort of thing…”
“I think just some nice diamond earrings. I don’t want anything that might scratch the baby as I handle him. I’m used to my ring being there, of course, but no bracelet or anything extra. Niall will just have to understand that the baby has to come first this time around.”
“I’m sure he’ll be so concerned with the Prince that he won’t pay any attention to your jewelry, Sookie. He’s going to be beside himself with pride.” Bjorn predicted. “He already knows Eric has plenty of money and spends it on you. His main thing tonight will be to see his royal progeny.”
“Royal progeny – that sounds like a disease or something,” Sookie laughed.
“Niall went to a lot of trouble to get you and Eric where you are – he’s definitely going to be most concerned with the baby.” Bobbie agreed as she picked the baby up out of the co-sleeper and took him into his room for a fresh diaper.
“Yeah, this is a big deal for him – which reminds me, Alicia…”
“Yep, he has to be wearing that. I’m not going to dress him up, otherwise – a little t-shirt and a diaper is more than enough in this heat and humidity. I mean, it’s comfortable in here, but I don’t see any point in confining him in clothes just yet. We’ll wait until the Ball to dress him up.”
“What does a baby Prince wear to a ball?” Bjorn asked jokingly.
“He has a white satin baby tuxedo – we should make sure it will fit him, Alicia…”
“I did – it will be fine, I’m sure, but I packed a Christening gown in case you change your mind about it. I think it will be adorable, though.”
“Yeah, he’ll be looking pretty sweet. I’m just glad he smells like a Vampire so they won’t all be wanting a taste of him,” Sookie said.
“Who told you that?” Bjorn asked.
“Pam – she said he smells sweet and he’ll stand out because of it, but it’s definitely a Vampire smell.”
“Yeah, I agree with the sweet part – he smells almost like fruit to me sometimes – like cantaloupe.” Bjorn said.
“Does he smell like food to you?” Sookie asked.
“Sometimes – you do, too, sometimes.”
“I do? When?”
“I don’t know– it comes and goes but I haven’t noticed a pattern. I just know sometimes you smell like sex… I mean, like a woman… and sometimes you smell like food. I’ve never met anyone else like that.”
“If you didn’t know him, would you get “Vampire” from his scent?” Sookie was a little worried now.
“Probably – he does have a sort of Vamp essence, but it’s not the main thing – the sweetness stands out most. I don’t think it endangers him in any way, though. To a Vamp he’ll smell like a Vamp. They might just write the sweetness off to the fact that he’s a baby and they’ve never seen one before. ”
Alicia didn’t say anything but she had been getting the idea for a while that Bjorn wasn’t strictly human and now she was sure of it, though she had no idea what there might be besides humans and Vampires. It had already occurred to her that if Vampires were real, other things might be, too. She had noticed the guards around the house had a tendency to sniff the air, or sniff packages Sookie received so apparently there were a lot of them in the security force, whatever they were, and they had very acute senses. At some point, she’d ask Bobbie or Sookie when the time was right exactly what they were, but she’d wait until the right time. Whatever they were, she knew they were the best available if Mr. Northman had them watching his wife and child, so she took comfort in that. A little Super human protection was just fine with her.
Bobbie came back with the baby and a baby sling while Sookie was in the bathroom putting on her dress. “Alicia, will this match what she’s wearing today?”
“Yes, that should be fine. It’s one of the 0-2 months sizes, right?”
“Right. She’s got a bunch of them in all kinds of fabrics. I can’t wait to see Eric use one of his,” Bobbie laughed.
“I think he’s planning on using one for the Parade tomorrow night so he’ll have control of the baby for safety,” Bjorn told her.
“He is?” Alicia was surprised.
“Yes, the baby will be safest in Eric’s hands,” Bjorn explained, “so he will hold him during the Parade. He wants to show Sookie off, too, so he doesn’t want her covered up with a sling. They had a special dress made for her to wear that will make her look kind of like a mermaid from what Bill said. Some Mardi Gras kind of thing.”
“Does Sookie know about this?” Bobbie couldn’t picture Sookie going along with the mermaid idea.
“I think she does, but she’s not necessarily happy about it. I don’t think they’re giving her a choice. I’m sure it will look good – if it doesn’t, Eric won’t let her wear it – he said so.” Bjorn assured them.
Alicia and Bobbie put the bracelet Niall had sent on the baby’s little wrist. “I hope that stays put. There’s room to grow in it, so it’s possible it could slip off at this stage.” Alicia worried.
“We’ll have to keep an eye on it – I know he has to be wearing it when Niall sees him.” Bobbie said.
When Sookie was dressed, Alicia and Bobbie headed downstairs and Bjorn carried the baby down as Sookie followed him. At the bottom of the stairs he handed the baby to Sookie, who put him into the baby sling that wrapped around her body and held the baby to her but left her free to use her hands if necessary.
They all congregated in the kitchen. “Bobbie, I don’t remember buying this sling – do you?”
“I think I bought that particular one,” Alicia said, “I thought you’d like that pink color in spite of the octagon design on it.”
“Yeah, I do – it matches this dress pretty well. I tried to get a variety so they could be matched most of the time.”
Bjorn rolled his eyes as he got a cup of coffee from the pot on the counter. Margaret smiled at him and handed him the skim milk he liked in his coffee.
“How is our little Angel this morning,” Margaret said as Sookie moved so she could see his face. “What a little lamb he is!”
“He’s doing pretty well. We had a rough morning but he’s calmed down a lot now. He was wanting an RM…”
“So I hear! I made up some bottles for the next couple of days. When you go back up tonight, we’ll put a couple of little bottles into your mini-fridge so you can get them for him.”
“Thank you so much, Margaret – I’m so glad I have you here to do things like that for me.”
“So am I, dear.” Margaret winked at her and patted her arm. The doorbell rang then and Margaret rushed to get it. Sookie could hear that it was Amelia and Octavia and went into the living room toward the door as they came in.
“Hey, you made it!”
“Yep, we did – let’s see that amazing little Viking you’ve got there!” Amelia was really excited. “Look at all that blonde hair!”
“Yep, just like his daddy,” Octavia said, “Look at those clear blue eyes. Nobody’s gonna doubt that’s Eric’s baby. He looks just like him.”
“Yeah, people keep saying he looks like both of us, but he’s all Eric from what I see,” Sookie said as she took the baby out of the sling and passed him to Octavia.
“Yes siree – look at that chin! That’s your Viking through and through. You gonna be a big bad ass like your daddy?”
The baby threw his arm up and made his “Eric” sound.
“I think that’s a ‘yes,'” Sookie laughed, “He makes that gesture and that sound when he sees Eric. I think it’s baby-speak for “FIGHT!”” Sookie motioned to the living room couch and Amelia and Octavia sat down while she took the large rose side chair.
“He can already recognize Eric?” Amelia was amazed.
“Oh, yeah, and he almost got his own RM this morning. Bjorn was watching me in my room and the baby had a bottle floating through the air toward me.”
“Have you tried giving that to him yet?” Octavia was curious to see if he’d take blood other than Sookie’s.
“Yeah, we gave him one of the small bottles earlier. He liked it, but he pierced the nipple with his fangs and almost choked. We have to remember to hold him up when he feeds so that doesn’t happen.”
“So he breathes?” Amelia was surprised at that.
“I’m not sure if he does or not. I do know he coughed when he got too much RM too fast, though.”
“It’s going to be interesting watching him grow, seeing how his body matures. I suspect he’ll become more Vampire as he ages. He’ll probably go through a dramatic change when he reaches puberty and gets his full growth.” Octavia told them.
“Is that just a guess…?” Sookie asked.
“I’ve been doing some research about Vampires, Fairies and Fae magick. Fae don’t come into their full power until they reach adulthood. I’d say his full power means being all Vampire. He’ll probably already have enough powers to be a challenge – he’s probably going to be able to move at accelerated speeds, and he might be hard to handle when he starts teething and wanting to bite everything and everybody. You say he’s already got fangs?”
“Yeah, if you don’t mind getting your finger stabbed, you can see them if you put your finger in his mouth and touch his upper gums.”
Octavia held the baby so Amelia could see and rubbed his little gums with a finger, causing his two sharp little fangs to shoot downward as the baby instinctively bit down.
“Holy Goddess!” Amelia nearly shrieked.
Octavia laughed. “Ooh-ee, this little fellow does take after his daddy! Sharp little things, aren’t they? You havin’ any trouble breast feeding him?”
“No, I thought I would, but so far so good.”
Almost as if he knew what they were talking about, the baby started fussing. “Speaking of feeding, Mama, I think somebody is hungry!”
“Yeah, it’s been a little while since he ate. Come here, sweetheart.” Sookie took him back, settling him into the sling and opening the dress so he could reach her breast and feed. He purred happily, taking both blood and milk this time.
“You do that like an old pro already, Sookie,” Amelia told her.
“He’s less than a day old, but he has fed quite a few times. This is the first time I’ve used a sling, though. They call this “baby wearing.”
“I never heard it called that, but that’s the way women have been carrying babies since the beginning of civilization, all over the world. It’s good to keep him close to Mama’s body – makes them feel secure.” Octavia said.
“I can’t wait to see Eric use one with him,” Sookie laughed.
“That will be funny – that huge man with a little baby strapped to him,” Amelia agreed.
“He says he’s going to carry him that way in the Parade tomorrow night. Are you guys going to New Orleans with us?”
“We were talking about that – do you think we would be in the way?” Amelia asked.
“Not at all – You should come with us and see the parade. I’m sure there’s room at Victor’s house for you and you can still go shopping. It would be great to have you with me on Friday when I do the morning show, too.”
“Well, then, I guess we’ll go. What time are we leaving tomorrow night?”
“6 PM – maybe you all could get here at around 4 PM to give us time to pack your stuff up and all. I think the cars will be here by then. We’ll be traveling in a caravan. Pam is going, too, and Alicia, of course. Bjorn will be driving Eric and me and we’ll have a second guard with us. Every car will have guards, of course, and drivers.”
“Vamps don’t do anything small.” Octavia shook her head and laughed.
“Are you ready for all the paparazzi? You know the tabloids that had your pictures from the Ball set records for sales.” Amelia told her.
“Huh?” Sookie had no clue about this.
“Remember at the Sheriff’s Ball when you and Eric made your entrance and he twirled and swung you around the dance floor? It was an iconic moment – a perfect romantic image. There were pictures of it in the tabloids and they sold out – every 13 year-old girl in the country has it on her bedroom wall. They all want to grow up to be a Vampire Queen like Queen Sookie and meet a handsome Vampire like King Eric. You two looked fabulous. There’s a bounty out for the first pictures of Prince Eric, too, so they’ll be everywhere tomorrow night. People are mad for the romance of the whole thing.” Amelia told her almost breathlessly, loving the whole thing herself. She was a big Princess Di fan back in the day, too.
“You didn’t know you were famous?” Octavia laughed.
“Uh – no… is it really that bad?”
“Yes, it’s really that good.” Amelia assured her.
“I hope we’re able to function in New Orleans.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that. Once they get their pictures of the Prince, it will ease up. ” Amelia assured her. “BrAngelina don’t have any problems living in New Orleans. People just let them do their thing. They’ll be that way with you once they get to see Eric Alexander. What are you calling him, by the way?”
“Alex, mostly, so we don’t have Big Eric/little Eric confusion – though I notice Eric usually calls him by his full name or “my son,”” she said in a deep voice imitating Eric.
“I’ll bet he can’t get his head through the door,” Octavia laughed. “I want to see those two together.”
“So do I – I’m busting to see the mighty warrior going gooey over a little bitty baby,” Amelia thought the image was just too funny.
“You know, it’s funny – Eric doesn’t seem gooey, really. He talks to the baby like a person. He doesn’t baby talk, or at least, he hasn’t yet. Of course, I do enough of that for both of us,” Sookie laughed. “You know, though, he’s so proud of him, and I noticed he can’t take his eyes off of him. Maybe just because it’s so new, but last night, it was almost like Eric was trying to remember every little detail about him. He was talking about his tiny hands and nails and how soft his skin was. He said he was the most perfect thing he had ever seen.”
“Awww. That’s so sweet. You sure he doesn’t get gooey?” Amelia teased her.
“Yeah, I guess that is a little gooey, isn’t it?” Sookie laughed.
“Excuse me, Missus,” Margaret came into the living room, “will your guests be staying for dinner?”
“Ooh, that’s a good idea – you guys want to stay and have family dinner?”
“Well, we don’t want to intrude…” Amelia said.
“No way! What are we having, Margaret?”
“Fried shrimp, onion rings, and coleslaw – things you couldn’t eat while you were pregnant – plus, strawberry shortcake. ”
“YUM! They’re staying, Margaret, thanks!” Turning back to her guests, “Oh, good, this way you can see Eric. He likes you two and I know he’ll be glad that you’re going with us. He’ll want to know what you think of the baby, Octavia. He values your opinion.”
“Not much to tell except that he’s a fine looking boy. We won’t know much about his powers until he’s a couple of months old, though I think he’s going to start everything really early. You know, I knew somebody once who started talking at 3 months old? The way he’s throwin’ that arm up and yellin’ out when somebody mentions his daddy, I’ll bet he’s like that.”
“Three months old? Really?”
“Her mama told me it was scary to see a baby that small talking. She couldn’t sit up, but she’d push herself up on her arms and yell “Mama” at her mother to try to wake her up. Her grandfather was the first to see her do it and they thought he was drunk when he told them about it. The mother was so freaked out, she wrote in the baby book that she started talking at 7 months so people wouldn’t know she was a freak, but she confirmed several times that she started at three months.”
“And this was a normal baby?”
“No, she was gifted – really smart, tested really high in school when they gave them those IQ tests and such – and she was a natural born Witch…”
“Alex is supposed to be a born Witch…” Sookie said, almost to herself.
“Right, but she had emotional problems your baby isn’t likely to have. He’s already got some physical advantages she didn’t have. If he’s as smart as I think he is, though, he’ll be talking in no time.”
“I didn’t think that was possible…”
“It just depends on which part of the brain develops first. Some kids learn to read at 3 or 4, some aren’t neurologically ready to read until 9. Some babies learn sign language – they know the meanings of the words, but the part of their brains that enables them to form words hasn’t caught up enough to let them speak – it forms late in a lot of normal kids. Einstein didn’t speak until he was 3 or 5 or somethin’ like that. The girl I knew, she was gifted in languages – really good in English and liked learning foreign languages, so that part of her brain just developed early and well. Your boy there already knows people, and already knows things – he knows the RMs are in the ‘fridge, right? So he could at least learn sign language real early. I think he’ll start speaking, though, because of the noise he makes for Daddy. That’s him tryin’ to talk now. The more he tries, the more likely that part of the brain is to develop.”
“Octavia – sometimes you sound like you’ve studied psychology,” Sookie observed.
“Yeah, I took some classes, and I got a degree, eventually. I did well in school, but it’s like anything else – you get out of it what you put into it. I spent time in a classroom but I educated myself. Having access to the college library did more for me than sitting in a room listening to a grad student regurgitate crap his professors had regurgitated for him. You don’t need to go to school to be smart – you need to read and you need to remember what you read and apply it in your life.”
“I sort of do that…”
“Read a lot?”
“Yeah, all kinds of things, and I’m pretty good at remembering things later when I need them.”
“There’s a word for that – autodidact. That’s a person who educates themselves with or without help from a school. One autodidact is worth a dozen educated fools, as far as I’m concerned. Some schools give out degrees to people that can barely read, or they graduate people who can write a paper to please a teacher but who can’t think a problem through for themselves. I think education is a fine thing, but ultimately, the individual makes the difference, not the teachers. A good teacher is worth their weight in gold, though, I’m not knockin’ the good ones. And a bad one can get in the way of learnin’, especially early on. You keep readin’ everything you can, and teach that youngster to love reading, too.”
“Oh, I hope he does – I’m going to read to him a lot. I was telling Eric we have to read lots of Dr. Seuss and stuff like that to him.”
“You think he’ll read to him?” Amelia asked.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure he will. Anything I tell him is good for the baby, he’s likely to do, and he’s been doing all kinds of research on the internet about babies and child rearing and things. He wants him to have every advantage among humans as well as Supes…”
Suddenly laughter broke out in the kitchen and all three women looked that way.
“Hey, y’all, what’s going on in there?” Sookie called, jokingly.
“We’re just being silly. Bjorn is entertaining us,” Bobbie answered.
“You all want to go in there? Supper will probably be ready soon – it’s smelling good in there!” Sookie invited them and they all went into the kitchen.
“We’re gonna join this party since you all are having such a good time. We won’t be in your way, will we, Margaret? We can wait if you want…” Sookie offered.
“You come right in and sit down, Missus. I’ve got all of this under control.”
“Sure does smell good in here,” Octavia told Margaret.
“Why, thank you – I remember you like shrimp, right? When they told me you were coming to see the baby today I made sure that we had it for dinner.”
“That’s mighty nice – we appreciate it.”
“Yes, we do,” Amelia agreed, “your cooking is the best.”
“Anything we can do to help?” Octavia offered.
“Oh, no ma’am, you just have a seat.”
“Can I get everyone something to drink?” Alicia came in to help Margaret.
Everybody told her what they wanted and Bobbie got up to help Alicia with the drinks as Margaret passed out plates and put a big bowl of fresh purple coleslaw on the table. Margaret’s helper, a young African-American woman named Carrie, passed out small bowls for the coleslaw and gave everyone silverware, and Margaret came back with a huge platter of onion rings. The helper brought a huge plate of fried shrimp that she had been working on.
“You get started on this, and we’ll keep frying. Eat all you want – I already sent dinner out to the guards and gardeners.”
“Wow, you feed all those people?” Amelia asked.
“Yes, Mr. Northman likes to make sure his employees are eating well, and it’s another form of compensation, you know.”
“Everybody dig in,” Sookie said.
“Should we wait for Eric?” Amelia asked.
“No, go ahead and eat while it’s warm. Margaret, do you have enough help feeding all these new people?” Sookie was concerned, since the guards more than doubled her workload.
“Oh, yes, Mr. Northman let me increase the hours for my helpers and we’re going to have a new woman come in just for laundry now that the baby is here. You won’t have to deal with dirty diapers because she’ll wash every day.”
“Wow – I didn’t know that. I thought we’d just use disposables.”
“Mr. Northman did some research and decided he wants the baby to wear cotton diapers when possible – disposables are only for travel, like tomorrow evening.”
“I’ll be washing diapers while we’re in New Orleans. Mr. Compton assured me there are adequate facilities in the house,” Alicia added.
“I’m sorry you have to do that…” Sookie said apologetically.
“Not at all, dear – it’s part of taking care of a baby. We knew what we were getting into, didn’t we, Margaret?”
“Absolutely, Missus, don’t you worry about that. We’re happy to help.”
Sookie was suddenly distracted by the baby wiggle in and making a noise, so she covered her breast and raised him up. He threw is arm up and made his Daddy sound. “Eric must be here…”
“Did I hear my name?” Eric said as he came into the kitchen.
The baby wiggled and squealed, then threw his arm up and made the noise again.
“Somebody’s calling you, Daddy,” Sookie said as she pulled the baby out of the sling so Eric could take him.
Eric raised the baby to his lips and kissed him, then held him so he could see his face. “Hello, Eric Alexander. How are you, my son?”
The baby threw his arm up and made the noise and everyone laughed.
“That’s my little warrior. No fight, tonight, though, we have guests to entertain. Hello, Octavia. Amelia.” Eric bowed his head slightly, “I assume you have met my son?”
“Yes, we have. That’s some boy you’ve got there. He’s the spit and image of you.” Octavia said.
“Yes, I think he does look like me.” Eric said proudly, beaming at the baby.
“Nobody will doubt that you are his daddy. That’s good – that’s really good.” Octavia assured him.
“Yes, it is.” He kissed the baby’s forehead then brought him up to his shoulder. Alicia handed him a cloth diaper to put over his shoulder for dribble, and he handled it as if he had been doing it forever. Sookie pulled his chair out for him and Eric sat at the head of the table, the baby’s head on his shoulder, stroking his little back.
“When are you going to tell him, Sookie?” Bjorn asked.
“Tell me? What did you have to tell me, Sookie?”
“Oh, well, we were just thinking… um…”
“Sookie needs sleep – the baby kept her up today.” Alicia interjected. “We were thinking that as soon as Mr. Brigant leaves tonight, she should go to bed and you should watch the baby tonight. He drank RM today so you could give him a bottle if he got hungry, and she could get some uninterrupted sleep tonight.”
“All of us – me, Bobbie, Alicia, Sookie. This trip is a lot for a woman who just gave birth, even with the Vamp blood,” Bjorn helped out, “so we all thought that Sookie needs a good night’s sleep to make this trip.”
Eric smiled. “That makes sense. You do seem tired, my Angel, but I didn’t want to say anything. Of course I will take care of my son. We will be fine together, will we not, Eric Alexander?”
The baby rubbed his little face and yawned.
“He’ll probably sleep most of the time, anyway,” Sookie said, “but if you have things you need to do…”
“Nonsense, Sookie. I’ll put him in a baby carrier and keep him with me as I work tonight. You have one of those,” he indicated the sling, ” that will fit me?”
“Yes, there are several in your size.” Alicia assured him.
Eric was gazing at the baby snuggled up to his big shoulder, playing with his little hand, which seemed to be trying to squeeze his finger again. “Very good – he will get used to the way it feels so he will not be afraid of it tomorrow night at the parade. He will learn to trust that he is safe with Daddy as well as Mommy. I like this idea very much.”
Margaret set a bottle of RM in front of Eric and the baby wailed as he took a drink. “Margaret, can you put some of this in a bottle for my son?”
“There’s one already made up. Just let me warm it.” She popped a bottle into the bottle warmer for a minute and then shook it up.
“Do you know how to test it, Sweetie?” Sookie asked him.
“I shake it on my wrist, I think? Show me…”
“Like this” Sookie shook a little on the inside of his wrist. “You want to make sure it isn’t hot so he doesn’t get burned. How does it feel?”
“Barely warm,” he shook the bottle a little to make sure there were no “hot spots” in it and tested it again. “It should be fine.”
Sookie put a little on her own wrist and agreed and Eric cradled the baby in his arm to feed him. Before he put the bottle in the baby’s mouth Sookie stopped him. “I almost forgot – when you give him a bottle, sort of hold him upright.”
“Alright – why is that?” he asked as he shifted he baby upward a bit.
“He pierced the nipple with his fangs earlier and almost choked because it poured into his mouth. If you hold him upright, he won’t get choked if he bites a hole in it again.”
Eric laughed and looked very proud. “Already doing damage with those fangs, eh, my boy? Good for you. Eat hearty.” He offered the bottle and the baby took it eagerly.
“Look at him go – he breast fed for almost an hour while we talked in the living room! How can he be that hungry?” Sookie exclaimed.
“Of course, he has a big appetite, Sookie.” Eric reminded her. “And your blood compared to this… bottle… has a very different taste to it. He had one, but now he wants the other.” (He almost slipped and said ‘this blood’ but he remembered just in time that the others didn’t know it was real blood.)
“He’s a day old, and he’s already picky about his food?” Sookie couldn’t believe it, but she knew he was right.
“He’s very advanced. He will be a very discriminating Vampire.” Eric laughed and everyone at the table joined him. Sookie just shook her head, but eventually she laughed, too.
The dinner conversation continued about the trip and various things, but Sookie was watching Eric with the baby. Octavia was watching them, too, and liked what she saw. Eric was very comfortable with the baby – maybe more so than Sookie – and the baby was comfortable with him. They had similar energy already, and Octavia could tell the baby was going to be a lot for Sookie to handle, but she knew Sookie would be a good mother – just a mother that has to stay on her toes. Eric would understand the baby so well, he would almost be able to read his mind. Sookie would always have to be on guard, especially when the baby could get around on his own. Octavia was wondering what they were going to do when he was a toddler. Sookie, Bobbie, Alicia and Bjorn might be outmatched by a Vampire toddler, so Octavia was going to think on this and do some research as to who might be available that could help rear such a child.
Sookie was melting watching Eric with the baby. It was so… intense watching them together! It had to be because it was new, right? It was the first day. Eventually, she would be able to watch them together without wanting to melt at Eric’s feet, right?
As the meal proceeded Alicia came back down with the sling for Eric and she and Sookie helped him learn how to put the baby in it and showed him a few positions in which the baby could be held. It was twenty minutes to eight when Margaret asked if anyone wanted dessert and Eric suggested they wait for Niall and have it with coffee and such in the living room. Margaret put a rolling tray together with servings of strawberry shortcake as the others adjourned to the living room and Carrie got coffee ready to move out for them, too.
Eric was standing beside the fireplace, still feeding Alex, while Sookie settled into the rose velvet chair. Bjorn and Bobbie each took one of the rose floral chairs and Amelia and Octavia took their places back on the couch. They were barely settled and Margaret was serving shortcake and coffee as the doorbell rang. Alicia answered the door, and directed Niall into the room. Sookie jumped up and went to him, kissing him on the cheek.
“Hi, Grandpa Niall.”
“Hello, Dear One, you are looking very well.”
“Thanks. Well, there he is…” She pointed to Eric and the baby.
Eric held the baby forward a little and pulled the bottle away so Niall could get a good look at him. “Well, well, hello, little Viking. He certainly does favor you, Vampire. Are you pleased with him?”
“Yes, very much. I think he is perfect.” Eric said without missing a beat.
“No one will doubt that he is your son – that’s exactly as we had hoped. Are you still making notes of his progress?”
“Yes, I am…”
“You are?” Sookie was surprised.
“Yes, my Angel, I know you have not been keeping notes, but I have continued to make comments in your journal so we can remember these details.”
“That bottle has an unusual look to it – has he started taking RM already?”
“Yes, he demands it, alternately with the breast, of course. He has very sharp little fangs.” Eric was beaming again.
“Yes, would you like to see?” Eric offered.
“Yes, I would. Very much.”
Eric set the bottle on the mantle and held the baby up facing Niall, then put his finger into his mouth causing him to bite. Niall’s eyes grew large. “My word – he does have fangs already. We had not anticipated that! Sookie – you are able to feed him adequately?”
“Well, it’s only been a day, but so far so good.”
“No excess pain? We had thought you would have a few months to adjust to breastfeeding before fangs came into play.”
“No, it hurts a little but not in a bad way… I mean, it’s kind of pleasurable in a weird, intense way.”
“Hmm – you have apparently adapted to being bitten. I suppose I have you to thank for that, Vampire.” Niall said with a little disgust, which Eric chose to ignore, but Sookie clearly picked up on. “And you, Sookie, are you pleased with him?”
“Of course I am! He’s perfect!”
“He came very early,” Niall continued, “that was a surprise, too. We had thought he might come late in July at the earliest. He developed very quickly.” Niall caressed the baby’s little hand, taking note that he was wearing the bracelet with the royal seal on it.
“Will that continue?” Sookie asked, “I hope he’s going to be a baby as long as he’s supposed to be…”
“Have no fear, my dear, he will age relatively normally until adulthood.” Niall never took his eyes off the baby. He seemed fascinated with him, too. “He will tend to do things earlier than most of his contemporaries, but not freakishly so. We are very anxious to see how his abilities develop. I’ll be coming for a visit in about 3 months with Dr. Ludwig and we’ll test him and see what his strengths and weaknesses are. We should get an idea of what he’s starting out with that way. He will develop more as he grows, of course, and will develop rather spectacularly at puberty, but by 3 months many of his traits will be set. Be sure to keep him out of the sun between now and then, just in case, and of course, avoid silver and iron. And lemons!”
“Yes, we know about the lemons. We had an… incident with lemons recently, but managed to avoid a problem.” Eric told him.
“Yes, I heard news of this incident of which you speak. I trust that little problem was resolved.”
“With finality.” Eric assured him.
“Good, good. Very good. We’ve come too far to tolerate any opposition. I expect finality in all such cases.”
“Nothing less where my son is concerned.”
“Very good. Your subordinate, Compton, will be presenting an offer to you later tonight regarding the first picture of our little Prince. I think you’ll find it will save you a lot of trouble tomorrow night. Take no short cuts with security. My sources tell me there will be radical anti-Vampire groups of humans there. No harm must come to this child.”
“None will – I will have him secured to me with this device or one like it, and I will be more vigilant than I have been in the whole of my long life. No threat to my son will be tolerated.”
“Good – you will have help from my end as well.”
“In what form?”
“Don’t worry about it – you won’t see it unless you need it, and let’s hope you don’t need it. It’s my gift to the baby. Just know that there is someone watching out for him.” Niall turned to Octavia, “You are a practitioner?”
“Yes, I am.”
“They will need a charm of protection to keep over the child’s bed, made of both parents’ hair. You know of such a charm?”
“If you would please create that at your earliest convenience, we will all be most grateful.”
“Of course, it will be my pleasure.”
Sookie let out a huge yawn. Embarrassed, she said “excuse me!” and blushed.
“Sookie my dear, you are exhausted. Are you sure you want to make this trip to New Orleans?” Niall asked.
“Everybody is counting on the baby making his big debut, so, yeah, I’m sure. We have a system worked out.”
“System? Of what sort.”
“As soon as you conclude your visit, Niall, Sookie will go to bed and I will tend the baby for the night. She’ll be well-rested for tomorrow evening.” Eric explained.
Niall gave a sly smile. “Doing your best to be a good daddy, eh, Vampire. I’m very glad to hear it. My visit is drawing to a close even now.” He turned to Sookie. “You take care of yourself, my dear. You have all these good people to help you, and many more watching out for you. This child needs two healthy parents, so do not neglect your rest. You go to bed now, and I’ll call you soon and see how you are doing.” He kissed Sookie’s forehead, bowed to the group, walked out the door and disappeared.
“OK, we’re out of here, too,” Amelia said, standing up.
“I’ll just need a lock of hair from each of you and I’ll work your charm tonight. That way you’ll have it for the trip.” Octavia said. Alicia brought scissors out of Eric’s office and handed them to Octavia, then helped Margaret and Carrie finish gathering up dishes and serving the last of the coffee. Octavia took a small lock from the underside of Eric’s hair, then Sookie’s, putting them each into a pair of zip lock bags Margaret brought from the kitchen, and she and Amelia said their good nights. Bjorn shocked everyone by finishing up the last of the shortcake, and Bobbie went up with Sookie to rub her back and help her sleep. Margaret and Carrie finished up in the kitchen and went home, while Alicia showed Eric how to change a diaper and what to do with the used ones, then showed him where the bottle warmer was upstairs and a few other things she thought he should know.
Sookie and Bobbie could hear Alicia directing Eric in the next room and were trying to suppress their giggles, but Eric busted them. “I can hear you, ladies.”
“Sorry, Sweetie, it’s just really cute.”
“Uh-huh,” he said as he continued his lesson. “Laugh all you want, but I can do this. By the way, has he had a bath today?”
“No, he hasn’t yet – why?”
“I was thinking I would bathe him before I start working. He could use a little wash, I think.”
“OK, Sweetie, just be careful the water is not too warm…”
“Trust me, Sookie, I will not hurt my son.” He thanked Alicia and said good night to her. He took the baby into their bathroom, turning on the shower at a low rain-like setting. When it was at the right temperature, he removed the baby’s diaper and his own clothes, and they took a shower, Eric gently washing the baby with special soap he had brought from the nursery. He managed to wash his own hair with one hand, and then gently washed the baby’s hair with very gentle shampoo. Sookie and Bobbie were listening intently, Bobbie absent-mindedly rubbing Sookie’s back so she didn’t do much good.
Eric came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and one wrapped around the baby, causing Sookie and Bobbie to nearly swallow their tongues as he took the baby into the nursery for a new nappy. He rubbed baby lotion on him and sprinkled him with baby powder, then fastened the diaper the way Alicia had shown him. He came back with a freshly diapered baby, pleased with himself and preening a little because he knew the women were drooling over him.
“Alright, my boy, talk to mommy for a minute while daddy gets dressed.” He said as he laid the baby next to Sookie and went back into the bathroom. He dropped his towel before the door closed, giving both women a glimpse of his butt. He came back in nothing but jeans, still aware that the women were melting and drooling. He pulled a black tank on and then the baby sling, which soon had the baby safely nestled inside. He held the baby up a little and waved his little hand at Sookie, “Say ‘good night, Mommy!'” Then he turned and walked out of the room, pleased with himself for being a good daddy and a hot one, too.
Once the floor show was over, Sookie fell asleep quickly and Bobbie went upstairs to call Bill, leaning into Eric’s office first to tell him to call her if he needed help. He thanked her but assured her that he and his son would manage, and he told her to have a good night. He could hear Sookie breathing slowly and knew she was asleep, so he slipped out to the hallway and closed the bedroom door so the lights wouldn’t disturb her. He settled back into his chair at his computer, one arm around the baby in the sling and one hand on the mouse. He worked on his email for over an hour, then turned to some financial work that took about an hour and 45 minutes. The baby slept most of that time, soothed by the bath and the movement of Eric rocking him a little as he worked. When the financial stuff was done and Eric was ready to call Bill, the baby woke up fussing a little. Eric silently got a bottle from the mini-fridge without waking Sookie and warmed it in the warmer in the nursery, He checked the temp and gave it to the baby, who didn’t seem to want it at first, but finally agreed to it and relaxed.
“I know it is not Mommy, my son, but try to enjoy it. You will have Mommy in the morning. Tonight you and I will make due with RM, alright?” He sat in the chair in the nursery and gently rocked the baby while he drank the bottle. Eric never felt such contentment. The baby wasn’t warm as a human would be, but he had that sweet smell that reminded Eric so much of Sookie, he’d have to concentrate to tell them apart. Only the undercurrent of Vampire in the scent would distinguish them, but he was grateful for that undercurrent because it was strong enough for a Vampire to recognize him as one of their own. The baby finished and yawned, then fell asleep almost immediately as Eric rocked him and talked to him softly. When he was clearly sleeping soundly, Eric took him back into the office and called Bill.
“Yes, Bill. How are things in the Big Easy?”
“Busy – we’re swamped fielding requests about this fundraiser. Have you been contacted by any of the press?”
“No, but none of my numbers is listed anywhere.”
“Well. Somehow people have this number and they’re using it. One made a proposal I thought you should know about.”
Eric knew instantly this was what Niall had been talking about. “What might that be?”
“One of the tabloids offered you $500,000 for the first picture of the baby. I thought you might consider it for this reason – if it’s known before the Parade that the first picture has hit the wire services, there will be less incentive for the paparazzi to bother you at the parade.”
“Good point. How do they propose doing this?”
“They will wire the money tomorrow. They meet you at Fangtasia tomorrow at 6 PM before you head out. You, Sookie and the Baby pose for one good shot, and we’re done. They send it via Internet to all their venues, and it’s all over the globe before the Parade starts – before you even leave Shreveport. All the reporters will get updates on their BlackBerries and iPhones before the parade starts that the bounty has been earned. Then they won’t be so crazed to get pictures of their own.”
“That sounds like a plan. You have this all set up?”
“Yes, I was quite sure you would agree. Security will be difficult enough tomorrow night without the added stress of paparazzi losing their minds.”
“Why do you think it will be difficult?”
“There are rumblings that some radical Christian groups – FOTS and a few others – are going to mount a huge counter protest to the parade.”
“We think they may have several hundred protestors – enough to get out of hand and embolden them to do something stupid and aggressive.”
“What kind of security have you set up?”
“I’ve tripled the guard and I hired a lot of specialty soldiers who fly so they can watch from the roof tops and swoop down if we need them.”
“We risk letting the breathers know that some of us can fly that way.”
“Yes, but I think we have to risk it. You have no idea what that child means to our community, Eric. He may be the beginning of a whole new era for us. Nothing must happen to him. How is he, by the way?”
“Safely asleep in my arms at the moment and doing very well. Niall was here to see him tonight.”
“What did he think of his handy work?”
“He was quite impressed, I think. He was shocked that he already has fangs…”
“Yes, lovely little sharp ones. I’m wondering if Niall didn’t put more Vampire into his magick than he intended. I told them all along that this baby was Vampire. They’re finding out I was right.” He was being smug and laying it on a little thick for Bill’s benefit.
“Do you have any other indications that he’s Vampire?”
“Yes, his scent. It’s very sweet, like Sookie’s, but it has a definite undercurrent of Vampire. Pam says it’s unmistakable. They might want to lick him but they won’t want to drink from him.”
“That’s good. I know Sookie was worried about that.”
“Yes, I was afraid he’d be distinctly Fae and that would have been a disaster – I’d never be able to have him around Vampires. I’m quite relieved that he’s one of us.”
“Does he have any Fae tendencies?”
“Not tendencies so much as talents. He can teleport, he has telekinesis, he can read at least some minds the way Sookie can, I suspect he’s going to have Vampire speed and strength at some point soon and he’s supposedly going to be able to do magick when he’s older. Plus, we think he’s already trying to talk.”
“No, he does this thing when I’m around or someone mentions me – he throws up his arm and makes this noise at the same time he sends “FIGHT!” Sookie is convinced he’s trying to say ‘fight.’ It’s really quite… precious.”
“I can imagine.” Bill said wryly. Naturally, or unnaturally, he told himself, Eric couldn’t just have a normal baby. Eric couldn’t just have the first Vampire baby in recorded history. Eric had to have the most magickal, talented baby, ever. It was almost enough to make one stay up and meet the sun. “That’s a lot of information you’ve gleaned in just one day. Are you sure some of it isn’t just wishful thinking?”
“Time will tell, I suppose, but he does seem to already be establishing certain patterns of behavior. The way he sleeps and wakes, it’s as if he has many short little days within one.”
“Sookie is well?”
“Yes, she’s asleep right now. Her maid is concerned that she’s not up to this trip so we’re giving her a night to catch up on her sleep.”
“So are you alone with the infant?”
“Yes – I can always call Bobbie if I really need to, but so far, we are fine, he and I.”
“How long has Sookie been asleep?”
“Maybe 3 ½ hours.”
“We’ll see how you feel about this at 5:30 – he could still give you a very hard time.”
“Yes, but I don’t think he will. I think he’s going to be fine. We’ve had a shower and he’s had a fresh diaper and a bottle. I’m so glad Sookie went to sleep so she didn’t have time to notice who didn’t show up today.”
“What do you mean?”
“Sookie’s worthless brother was supposed to come see his nephew today, but as far as I know, he didn’t even call to check on them.”
“She expected him and he didn’t even call?”
“Yes, she did and no, he didn’t. If I could keep him out of her life completely, I would do it. He has never been a proper brother to her.”
“I have to agree with you there. I never liked the way he treated her. When he struck her…”
“I don’t know why you didn’t kill him then. I told him when we told him about the baby that if he ever did it again, Sookie would be an only child and I meant it. If he ever threatens either of them in any way at all, I’ll do away with him and I’ve told him and Sookie that in no uncertain terms.”
“I’m sure neither of them believes you would actually do it.”
“They’d better not test me on it – I’m quite serious. He’s not going to hurt her again. He’s treading thin ice even now. If he upsets her I might pay him a visit.”
“You wouldn’t kill him just for hurting her feelings…”
“No, but a beating to teach him some manners is not out of the question. I tell you, Bill, I hesitate to allow him to be around the child. Goddess forbid that the child take a liking to him and be hurt by his thoughtlessness or endangered by his stupidity. Sookie has visions of him playing Uncle to him but I really doubt that is going to happen.”
“Well, it’s natural that you don’t want to see them hurt. You might as well prepare for it, though, because I’m afraid with Stackhouse the question is not whether he will hurt one of them, but when.”
“Yes, I’m afraid you are right. I need to think about this seriously. At any rate, we will see you tomorrow night. Thank you for your help with the fundraiser, Bill, and the deal with the photographer.”
“My pleasure. Travel safely.”
Eric hung up the phone and watched the baby for a few minutes. He decided he was sleeping deeply enough to try a call to Sandy now.
“Yes, your majesty?”
“Hello, Sandy, how are things in Las Vegas?”
“Well, we are swamped with requests for pictures of the Prince, but other than that, things are going smoothly. We closed on the sale of two properties, the consolidation of the chain of theatres is on schedule and I’m putting together information about the elite clubs you wanted to create.”
“Good – I’ll look forward to seeing that. I’d like to have some movement in that direction this fall.”
“So soon, your majesty?”
“Yes, of course. I’ll be coming back to Las Vegas at the end of August and I hope we’ll be accepting bids from contractors by then.”
“I didn’t realize you wanted to move so quickly. I’ll move this up to the top of my list.”
“Very good. We’ll have an extended teleconference with Bill Compton soon to do some serious planning. I just have to get us past this fundraiser and then I’ll be able to focus on these projects more effectively. Even if we move, I’ll be able to concentrate more now that the baby is born and we can get into a routine with him.”
“How is the Prince, your majesty?”
“Sleeping soundly in my arms right now, and doing quite well so far. We’ll bring him for a visit as soon as he is old enough to travel.”
“That would be most welcome, your majesty. Everyone here is dying to see him. No one has ever seen a baby Vampire.”
“Yes, he’s very special. You’ll see him before the end of summer, I am sure.” The baby stretched and began to cry. “And now he is awake. If there’s nothing further, I’ll say good night.”
“Yes, your majesty, good night.”
Eric pulled the baby up and put him on his shoulder, heading to the nursery with him where half a bottle still awaited them, though he was pretty sure the baby wasn’t hungry. When he got into the baby’s room he got the diaper for his shoulder and put it under Alex’s chin. The baby was sending something Eric perceived as discomfort but it wasn’t specific enough for him to tell what it meant. He was becoming more insistent, though, and beginning to really fuss, so Eric put him on the changing table and checked his diaper. Yes, he needed to be changed. Eric talked softly to him as he changed the diaper, the baby watching him with big eyes in between whimpers, chewing on his fingers as he was wiped and sprinkled and diapered. He calmed down briefly, then started to wail a bit so Eric put him on his shoulder again and walked back and forth with him, patting his back gently and telling him a story about his first raid on a settlement when he sailed on his first dragon ship. The baby would calm for a minute, then cry again. Eric held the baby so he could look in his eyes.
“Try to tell me what is hurting you, my son. It is not your diaper. I do not think you feel hungry. Is it your stomach?” He rubbed the baby’s tummy and he cried louder. Eric was sure it was gas, so back on the shoulder he went and Eric walked and patted his back gently but firmly. Eric was glad he put the diaper back on his shoulder because it was soon dripping with RM. At least the baby stopped crying after he spit up.
Eric put the soaked diaper in the diaper pail and got a fresh one for his shoulder, wiping the baby’s mouth and still talking to him softly. “Is your stomach better now, my son?” he whispered to him, “Are you feeling better?” The baby yawned and drooled on his shoulder. Eric smiled and walked back and forth with him a while longer, then sat in the chair and moved gently back and forth for an hour or so while the baby slept. The next time he woke up, he was hungry and Eric felt that clearly, so he warmed the bottle gently and gave it to him. It wasn’t what the baby wanted and he fought the nipple. The baby whimpered, then took the nipple for a minute but then wouldn’t take any more and started crying. Eric knew he wanted Sookie – he could clearly feel WANT and he felt that sense of comfort the baby felt when he was with Sookie. Eric tried one more time with the bottle, but it just wasn’t what the baby wanted.
He hated to admit defeat, but Eric wasn’t going to let his son go hungry. He took the baby quietly into the bedroom and rolled Sookie gently on her back so she was propped up on the wedge pillow she was still using. He pulled her nightgown down and put the baby in position. Sookie grimaced but didn’t really even wake up. Her hands went instinctively to the baby’s back and head, and Eric lay down next to them and watched the baby feed. He went into down time for a bit, and then moved the baby to the other breast. When the baby withdrew Eric was surprised to see that it had been almost 45 minutes before the baby was done feeding. Eric picked him back up and took him to the nursery to sit with him a while.
The baby slept a few minutes, then woke for about ten minutes and was awake and looking at Eric who was playing with his hands as they tried to wrap around his big fingers. He fell back to sleep a few minutes later and slept until Alicia arrived at 5:30. Eric and Alex met Alicia on the second floor, and Eric described the baby’s night to her, mentioning that he spit up. She assured Eric that was not uncommon. Eric took the baby back up to the co-sleeper next to Sookie and tucked him in, setting the baby monitor on Sookie’s nightstand so Alicia could hear the baby if he cried. He went to rest for the day feeling fairly successful after his first night with his son.