Vampire Pride Parade
Alex slept for about an hour before he woke up fussy, but Alicia never heard him cry because the second he made a sound, Sookie reached for him and put him to her breast. Alicia came in with laundry and found Sookie feeding him.
“Well, good morning! I thought you were asleep.”
“I slept really well – I don’t remember anything except maybe Eric bringing the baby in at some point?”
“Yes, he said he knew he was hungry and he didn’t want RM.”
“OK, that’s cool. Eric must have stayed with us because I barely remember it.”
“He did. He also said the baby was a little sick at one point last night, but he handled it.”
“No, just a little spit up. Mr. Northman seemed to take it in stride. I think he enjoyed having so much time alone with him. He said it was very peaceful, even when he fussed a little. I gather he was able to work and make phone calls, then he spent quite a bit of time rocking and walking with him. They were very sweet together when he brought him downstairs earlier. The baby was looking at him with those big blue eyes and he was just beaming at his little boy.”
“OK, cool, then I don’t need to worry about leaving them alone together if I’m tired. I swear, I felt like I had run a marathon yesterday.”
“Giving birth is hard on a body, dear, even if you’ve had some sort of healing done and breastfeeding burns a lot of energy. You’ll be a little tired for a bit.”
“Yeah, I guess – ahhhh-hhhh.” Sookie let out a huge yawn.
“You’re still sleepy, so when he finishes up you try to go back to sleep and I’ll check on you both. If he fusses I’ll try giving him a bottle next time so you can sleep longer. It’s going to be a long day today, so sleep as long as you can. I have to change your outfit for today since you’re having your picture made on your way to New Orleans.”
“All of you are. Apparently when we leave the house we’re going by Fangtasia first so you, Mr. Northman and the baby can be photographed, then we’ll continue from there.”
“I didn’t know anything about this…”
“It was just decided last night. I gather there’s a bounty out for the first picture of the baby, so Mr. Northman is being paid by one publication who’ll get the first picture and then it will be on the wire services before we get to New Orleans and the paparazzi won’t be so crazed to get to you. It’s actually a clever solution – I think it was Mr. Compton’s idea.”
“Oh – OK. Is Pam here?”
“No, Mr. Northman said she’ll meet us at Fangtasia.”
“Huh… OK, well, I guess all I’m supposed to do is show up with my baby and look good?”
“Basically. Just sleep and I’ll make sure you’re up by 3 pm so you’ll have plenty of time to get dressed.”
“Ahhhh –hhhhh… Amelia and Octavia will be here at 4. OK, back to sleep.” Sookie tried to sleep but couldn’t quite get comfortable with the baby when she moved him to the other breast so Alicia brought the pink nursing pillow in and set Sookie up that way. She fell asleep while the baby was feeding, so Alicia kept an eye on them to make sure he wasn’t being smothered. When he pulled away and yawned Alicia took him to the nursery to put a little t-shirt on him. She laughed to herself that Eric hadn’t put a shirt on him, but then she realized that in his culture babies would be diapered and swaddled. A Viking might not know about little t-shirts that snap on the shoulder. She knew that Eric hadn’t really been around children in a millennium, and in spite of his Internet research, there were bound to be little details that he missed. Once she had the t-shirt on him, she checked his diaper and it was time for a new one, so she took care of that. He watched her with big eyes the whole time as she talked to him, and she had the strangest feeling that he was trying to figure out who she was.
The baby yawned again as Alicia took him back into the room and tucked him into the co-sleeper. He gurgled happily when she put him down and if she didn’t know he was too young for it to be possible, she would have sworn he was happy to be back in his own bed. She tucked the little blue blanket around him though his legs were in the air and he was kicking a little and she noticed he was looking to the side and reaching out with one arm, but she told herself he couldn’t possibly be watching Sookie sleep or reaching for her. Alicia finished her work with Sookie’s clothes and gathered the laundry from the bathroom, and saw that he had gone back to sleep. She double checked the monitor and then took the laundry downstairs. By the time she and Margaret had gone over the schedule, had a cup of coffee and finished the laundry needed to finish Sookie’s and Eric’s packing, it had been about 2 and a half hours, so Alicia went up to check on the baby.
Alicia was surprised to find the baby on Sookie’s chest, but not in position to feed. It didn’t look as if Sookie had moved, but she knew she must have started to feed him and fallen asleep before he was in place. Alicia moved the baby into position and pulled Sookie’s gown down so he could reach her breast. She was concerned that Sookie was too tired for this trip if she fell asleep before she could even get the baby in place to feed and then she barely moved when Alicia pulled her arms under the baby and he latched on to her nipple. She sat at the side table for a few minutes and thought about this.
They were expected at a photo shoot, a parade, they were going to look at properties and there was a TV appearance and a fundraiser. Sookie had to be there for all of it. Alicia really hoped the baby would drink RM most of the time so she could get some uninterrupted sleep. After about 15 minutes, she moved the baby to Sookie’s other breast and decided to see if there was a small pillow and blanket they could take in the car – maybe Sookie could sleep a little on the way, though it would be crowded back there with Big E and Little E.
Alicia smiled to herself as she went into the nursery and threw the red curtains open – she loved those names for them. Sookie only used them occasionally, but Alicia always thought of them by those nicknames in her own mind. She thought they really lived up to them when Eric brought the baby downstairs that morning – two peas in a pod already, both completely content with each other. It was only their first night together, but they just seemed perfectly natural. She always had to remind herself that Big E – and now Little E, too – was a Vampire. She laughed at herself because if you had told her a year ago she’d be helping care for a baby Vampire and his mother she’d have thought you were insane. And Big E was so gorgeous that all you thought of were his looks – the hair, the eyes, the smile, the huge shoulders – and not the fact that he wasn’t human. Sookie was a lucky young woman, but this lifestyle was a lot for anyone to handle. At least she wasn’t pregnant now – all of this would be easier to do having just given birth than if Sookie were still in the final stages of a pregnancy. This way, someone else can carry the baby or feed it when need be.
Alicia had a blanket and pillow and a well-stocked diaper bag all ready to go and went back to check on the baby. She was surprised to see him back in the little co-sleeper, but Sookie was not only in the same position, her arms were still curled as if they were wrapped around him and her gown was still down. She walked over to the tiny crib – the baby looked up at her, chewing on his little fingers, and she put the little blanket over him. She covered Sookie up, too, and felt like she was being silly – it had to be Sookie that was moving him – there was no way for the baby to get back and forth by himself. He couldn’t even roll over yet!
Alicia had Leroy carry the bags she had packed downstairs and laid out the travel outfits for Eric and Sookie. The baby had been asleep for about an hour and a half when she heard him on the monitor and she went back up with a bottle of RM. He looked at her with those big eyes as she picked him up and took him into the nursery. She settled into the glider and gave him the bottle, which he took eagerly. She hummed and talked to him a bit and she had that odd feeling again that he knew what she was saying. Those ice blue eyes had such presence to them – they were almost “wise” if you could say that about a baby. He was also already doing that thing babies do with their fingers when they discover them, sort of drumming them in the air over and over just because he could. It was way too soon for that, wasn’t it?
He yawned as she pulled the empty bottle away and she rocked him until he went to sleep. She quietly took him back to Sookie’s room and settled him in and three hours passed before he woke Sookie up crying.
“Shh, Alex, it’s OK, Mommy’s here.” Sookie said as she brought him over to her breast. She looked at the clock. “Wow – Mommy’s been asleep a long time! I hope they’ve been feeding you, Sweetie. Have they been feeding you? Huh?” She was just cooing at him now and he watched her intently as he fed. She kept talking to him, looking him right in the eye and smiling at him. She was so happy she could finally do this!
Alicia came in a minute later. “Oh, good, you’re up this time. I was afraid you might fall asleep before you got him in place again.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“Earlier, you managed to get him over on your chest, but you didn’t get him into place before you fell back to sleep.”
“You were in here with me the last time I fed him, remember? I’ve been asleep for hours since then.”
“You probably just don’t remember. I came in the time after that and he was on your chest, but not in the right position, so I put him right, and then later when I came back he was back in the little crib next to you. Then the next time he woke up, I fed him a bottle and rocked him, then put him back here.”
“So he fed twice while I was asleep? That’s good. I wouldn’t want him to go without.”
“Oh, we won’t let that happen. I’ve been keeping a close eye on both of you. I’ve got your packing all done and your bags downstairs, and your clothes are ready for you any time you want to get dressed, but you can sleep a little longer if you want to.”
“No, that’s OK, I think I’ll get up. Anything for breakfast, today?”
“I’ve got some home fries cooked and I can throw you a couple of eggs on toast real quick if you’d like.”
“That sounds good – and some orange juice, please, since I haven’t had much in a while.”
Alicia went to get Sookie’s breakfast and she continued to feed the baby. She wondered to herself if she could have tried to feed him and fallen asleep the way Alicia said, but she had a feeling that wasn’t what happened. Alicia was forgetting that this baby could teleport. She really hoped it wasn’t true, but she had a feeling he had put himself on her chest when he got hungry and went back to his crib when he was done. That sounded absolutely insane, and she knew it, but she looked into those blue eyes and knew he was capable of doing it. “Alex, have you been popping in and out of your crib?”
“No, Alex, it’s not funny. You could get hurt! And you could scare the heck out of Alicia. You stay put when you’re supposed to and let us move you when you need to be moved.”
Not only was he still laughing, Sookie could swear she saw a mischievous twinkle in his little eyes. “Please, Alex, or Mommy will be worried about you and won’t be able to sleep!”
“OK, that’s more like it. We’re going on a trip today, and I need to be sure you stay close to Mommy, OK? You need to stay with me and Daddy when you can, except when somebody else like Bobbie or Alicia needs to feed you, OK?”
“Right, Bobbie – speaking of Bobbie, I wonder where she is this morning? And where is Bjorn? He should have been here hours ago, though I don’t really think it’s necessary for him to watch us sleep. Have you seen either one of them today, Sweetie?”
Nothing. Well, Sookie figured, he really didn’t know who Bjorn was yet. Bobbie, on the other hand, could give Mommy and baby both a massage if she’d show up about now. Suddenly, Sookie wrinkled her nose.
“Uh-oh, Alex – I’ve got a feeling you need a new diaper. Let’s go to the nursery, OK?”
She managed to get out of bed with some difficulty since she had to exit on Eric’s side, but she did it without having to disturb the baby too much. She took him into the changing table and was shocked to see that the curtains in the nursery were open. Light hit the baby full on and he didn’t do anything but blink. Was he able to be in sunlight? She was watching him carefully as she changed his diaper, half afraid that he would start to burn, but he didn’t, even when he stretched his little leg directly into a beam of light. Sookie was getting hopeful – it would make life a lot easier if he could go out in the light. When she finished with his diaper, she took a little blanket just in case and took the baby downstairs, not even thinking to put on a robe. As she passed the second floor she called “Hey, Alicia, I want to eat downstairs today, OK?”
“Alright, dear, I’ll be right there with it.”
Sookie walked into the kitchen to find Bjorn eating breakfast. “Hey, Bjorn – did you oversleep?”
“Uh, yes, your majesty, I’m afraid I did. I’m very sorry.”
“No problem, I don’t see the point in you sitting there watching us sleep anyway. Here, say hi to the baby. See Alex, this is Bjorn. He takes care of us, so be nice to him, OK? He’s big and strong and he stays with us when Daddy has to rest.”
FIGHT! Up went the arm and the baby made that noise and Sookie laughed. “Yes, Sweetie, he likes to fight just like Daddy, and he’s from Sweden just like Daddy, too. He makes sure you and me are safe.”
“Good morning, Alex.” Bjorn said with a laugh, tickling the baby’s chin. He was rewarded with a big smile and gurgle, and a little drool.
Bjorn started to pull out a chair for Sookie but she told him to hang on, she’d be right back. Sookie went through the kitchen into the den and toward the back door. When she got there, she put the blanket over the baby and walked out side. He didn’t whimper or act uncomfortable. She uncovered his little foot. Nothing. This was risky and she knew it but she also knew it would be OK – she took the blanket completely off of him and he was fine. All he did was gurgle and yawn. Apparently, this little Vampire was immune to the sun’s rays. Sookie was over the moon, though she knew Eric would be a little disappointed about it.
Sookie took the baby back inside and sat where Bjorn had pulled out her chair.
“You took him outside?”
“Yep, and no harm at all – he’s apparently immune to the sun.”
“You took a big risk, Sookie – I’m not sure Eric would approve.”
“I walked into his nursery not knowing the curtains were open and he got hit full on with sun before I knew what was happening. I checked him up there before I came down, so I was pretty sure that he’d be fine.”
“How is Eric going to feel about this?”
“He might be a little disappointed, but it’s going to make life a lot easier for all of us. We won’t have to keep him shrouded all the time if we go out in the daylight. He’ll be able to play outside like normal little kids. This is a good thing!”
“Yes, it will make him blend in more. And the fewer sensitivities he has the better. You don’t want him to have any weak spots at all if possible.”
“Exactly. I mean, we know for sure he’s a Vamp with the fangs and the drinking blood and he’s cold and pale, so he’s just sort of a better kind of Vamp, aren’t you, Sweetie?”
Margaret came in from the den with one of the many baby carriers scattered around the house. “Good morning, Missus. I thought you might want to put the little one in his little rocker and give your arms a break while you eat.”
“Good idea,” Sookie said as she let Margaret take the baby. The baby looked strangely at Margaret and watched her every move as she set him into the little red carrier/rocker and put him on the table so he was next to Sookie and looking toward Bjorn. Once he was settled, Sookie tickled his foot so he looked at her. “Hey, Sweetie. You gonna talk to me and Bjorn? Huh? You gonna talk to us?”
He gave her a smile and stuck his one thumb in his mouth as his other hand played with his toes. Alicia was setting Sookie’s breakfast in front of her when Bobbie came down stairs in a wild, blue and purple gypsy print dress.
“Oh, lookie who’s up!” Bobbie said when she saw the baby. She went right over to the table. “You up for a massage today, Alex?” she asked him and he looked at her as if he was really checking her out.
“Alex, this is Bobbie. You know Bobbie, don’t you sweetheart?” The baby gurgled and sent SOOTHING. “Oh, good, he knows you, Bobbie.”
“Sure he knows me. I’m Aunt Bobbie. We’re going to be good buddies, aren’t we, Alex?” and she tickled his chin which made him laugh silently and kick his feet, his little arms waving about, not knowing what to grab next with his busy fingers. Bobbie tickled the palm of his hand and he tried to grip her finger but didn’t quite manage it.
Bobbie got herself a cup of coffee and Sookie tried to pretend she couldn’t hear a few X-rated thoughts flying back and forth between Bobbie and Bjorn. ‘Oh, hell,’ Sookie thought, ‘they’re grown people and Bill hasn’t exactly been faithful so let them have fun.’
“Sookie,” Alicia came into the room, “when you get done you’ll probably want to get in the shower so you’ll be dressed by the time Amelia and Octavia get here.”
“Um, wow, yeah, look at the time. Uh…” She looked at the baby, not sure what to do.
“We’ll watch him, Sookie, go ahead. You’ll be OK with us, won’t you, Alex?” Bobbie tickled his foot and he gurgled.
“Actually, I should go up and stay near Sookie,” Bjorn started to stand, but Sookie interrupted him. “No, Bjorn, I want you to stay near the baby. I can take care of myself. He should be your first priority.”
Sookie headed upstairs and Alicia told Bjorn, “I”ll keep an eye on Sookie and make sure she doesn’t fall,” and followed Sookie upstairs.
“Actually, Sweet… I mean, Bjorn, I think we should take the baby upstairs and I’ll give him a massage on Sookie’s bed. He’ll be most comfortable there.”
“OK, let’s do that.”
Bobbie took the baby out of the little seat and carried him upstairs with Bjorn in tow. Alicia was setting up to do Sookie’s hair and makeup, and was surprised to see them all.
“We decided to follow you, Alicia,” Bobbie laughed. Bjorn sat in his usual seat and Bobbie went into the bathroom for a towel. “Hey, Sookie, I’m just grabbing a towel for the baby.”
“OK,” Sookie responded then poked her head out, “hey, Bobbie, maybe I should take him in here and bathe him while I’m here? Eric did it.”
“Are you steady on your feet? And able to hold onto him?”
“Yeah, he won’t wiggle much. I’ll just wash him quick and you can diaper him, OK?
“OK, just a minute.” Bobbie laid the baby on the vanity counter and removed his t-shirt and diaper, then carried him over to the shower, “ready for him, Hon?”
“Yep,” Sookie slid the door open and took the baby, talking to him the whole time. She managed to wash him off pretty quickly, covering head to toe with a little baby shampoo and paying attention to his diaper area with a bar of special baby soap Eric left in the shower. “Ready, Bobbie?”
“Yep, ” Sookie opened the door and Bobbie collected him in a towel, Sookie kissing his little head and saying, “See you in a few minutes, Sweetie.”
Bobbie dried the baby, took him to the nursery for a new diaper and had him lying on the towel on Sookie’s bed giving him his first massage when Sookie came our of the bathroom in a towel. “Oh, he’s a happy boy! Yes, he is! He loves that, Bobbie.”
“Yeah, he’s been waiting a long time to get his own massage, haven’t you, sweet boy?” Bobbie laughed. “I’ll have to teach you and Eric to do this, too, Sookie, because it can really help them sleep and calms them when they get tense.”
“That’d be great. I know Eric will want to learn, too, though he’s pretty good at massage as it is.”
“Yeah, but there are some specifics he should know about massaging a baby – Eric’s used to massaging women.”
“True,” Sookie laughed and the baby threw his arm up and made his Daddy sound. “I wonder what he’s trying to say when he does that?” Sookie said.
“What does he send when he does it?” Bobbie asked.
“FIGHT!” Sookie laughed.
“He’s trying to say “víg“” Bjorn said.
“What?” Alicia asked as she combed out Sookie’s hair.
“”Víg” – old Swedish word for “fight.”” Bjorn said.
“How would he know a Swedish word?” Sookie asked.
“Eric knows it.” Bjorn said.
“You think…” Sookie stopped. She knew what Bjorn was suggesting and if it was true she didn’t want to say it out loud. If this baby could read Vampire minds… that was too terrifying to think about. “Whatever… we’ll find out eventually. Alicia did I get any mail of any importance today?”
“You got some things you need to respond to from both Las Vegas and New Orleans, but I put it in your bag and we’ll go over it tomorrow. There was nothing that won’t wait a day. Mr. Compton said you’ll have access to an office in the New Orleans residence plus you’ll be going into the New Orleans Headquarters.”
“Oh, OK. This is going to be a busy week….”
“Yes, it is. I hope you manage to get some rest in between all these activities.”
“I’m a little tired, but I can handle it. I’ve got all of you to help with the baby and that’s the main thing. I can nap when there’s nothing going on. Lots of women have to keep working when they have a baby.”
“That’s true,” Alicia agreed, “and you do have lots of reliable help.”
The doorbell rang then and Bobbie said, “I’ll bet that’s Amelia and Octavia. Want me to go down and entertain them until you’re dressed, Sookie?”
“That’s a good idea. Maybe get them a cup of coffee or something? Thanks. Bobbie.”
“See you in a bit, Sweetie.” Bobbie said to the baby with a little tickle that made him laugh, and she left him in the middle of the bed on the towel.
Sookie was amazed that the baby fell asleep while Alicia was drying her hair, and they did only a little makeup, though she went a little heavy on the mascara and would take a touch up kit for the photos.
While Sookie dressed in the bathroom, Bjorn went down to find the ladies in the kitchen drinking coffee and eating a pecan coffee cake Margaret had baked. “Hello, Ladies,” he greeted them, “Sookie will be down with the baby soon. She’s putting her clothes on now.”
“That little one been up to any high-jinx yet?” Octavia asked.
“Not since he tried to get his own RM, I don’t think.” Bjorn laughed, “but you should ask Sookie. Oh, and he can go out in the sun!”
“HE CAN?” Octavia and Amelia spoke together, obviously shocked.
Sookie came in with the baby strapped to her with a baby sling, “He who? Can what?”
“I told them the baby can go in the sun.” Bjorn explained.
“Oh, yeah, we just found out! I walked into the nursery and the windows were open and he got hit full on with sun and no effect, so then I brought him down here and took him outside. It doesn’t affect him at all! Isn’t that great!”
“Yes, and unexpected for a fanger.” Octavia said with admiration. “He been up to anything else?”
Sookie looked around – Margaret was in the laundry room and Alicia was still up stairs – “Maybe…”
“Such as…?” Octavia didn’t feel like beating around the bush.
Sookie said softly “Alicia came into the room and he was on my chest but not in position to feed, then later he was back in his co-sleeper. She assumed I moved him, but I think he did it. I think he moved onto me, then Alicia found him and helped him feed, and when he was done he popped back to his little bed.”
“Uh-oh. That could be trouble…” Octavia said.
“You’re telling me! I talked to him and told him I want him to stay put when he’s supposed to. He thought it was funny, but you’re gonna stay put now, aren’t you, Alex?” The baby looked at her as if he was listening, tugging on his little ear.
“You think he understands you?” Amelia asked.
“Yeah, I think he understands a lot. Speaking of which…” she held the baby up so he could see them and walked to the table, “Alex, this is Octavia – she’s going to be sort of a teacher for you, and so is Amelia. OK? Octavia…. Amelia. I want you to know them because they’ll be around a lot and might help take care of you, OK?”
The baby kicked and gurgled and Sookie knew that was a ‘yes.’ He then surprised everyone by reaching his hand toward Octavia, which she shook a little and said “Hey, there, little Vampire,” and the baby laughed the cutest little baby laugh. Octavia was tickled pink that he had a positive reaction to her. “Yes, sir, that is going to be some special boy there.”
“Yeah, he’s advanced, huh? He’s doing things an older baby would do, right?”
“Yes, he is. He’s more like a 3 month old than a 2 day old, and even at that, he has a very advanced understanding.” Octavia was being serious now. “You talk to him a lot and always tell him what’s going on and what you need him to do. He’s gonna be talkin’ back pretty soon, but you talk to him now and help him learn.”
“I talk to him most of the time I’m awake. He looks me right in the eye and pays attention – even that’s advanced at this age, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it sure is. He knows we’re talking about him, too – look at those icy blue eyes, all wide and just taking everything in. He’s smart, alright, just like his daddy.”
The baby threw his arm up and made the “hee” sound he always made for Eric.
“See,” Bjorn said, “I told you, he’s trying to say “víg.”” Octavia looked at him and he explained, “It’s an old Swedish word for “fight” – I’m sure that’s what he tries to say when anyone mentions Eric. It’s baby talk, but I can hear it.”
The baby gurgled and kicked at the mention of Eric’s name.
“Yeah, you get excited when somebody mentions your daddy, don’t you, boy?” Octavia asked him. He waved his arms around and giggled again.
“I told you – he’s Eric’s tiniest fan.” Sookie laughed. The baby started wiggling and shifting and Sookie realized he was trying to turn towards her. “I think he’s hungry, excuse me.” She shifted him in her arms and opened the dress so he could reach her and he latched on enthusiastically.
“He’s a fan of Mama, too, child, and don’t you forget that. You’re always gonna be the center of his world, even if he does make over Daddy.” Octavia assured her and Sookie smiled at the baby who was looking up at her the way he did when she fed him.
“Yeah, I told Eric he might be HIS SON but he was ALWAYS going to be MY BABY.” Sookie laughed and everyone laughed with her. Octavia reached into her pocket and took out a little red leather bag.
“This is to protect him. It’s got your hair and Eric’s braided together, along with some roots and herbs. You keep it near him or where he sleeps. Tuck it in there with him now and keep it on him tonight.”
“Alright, Octavia, I will.”
The doorbell rang and Margaret headed for the front door. The cars had arrived and it was time to begin loading everyone’s luggage. Bjorn directed the men in what went with which vehicle and he was informed by one of the guards that one of the vans had 4 Vampire guards who would be out as soon as the sun went down. The vehicles were lined up along the road in front of the house and Bjorn backed Sookie’s car out of the garage and put it into the middle of the procession. He confirmed that the other drivers knew they would be stopping at Fangtasia first and he went back in the house just as the sun began to set.
“Hello, everyone!” Eric came into the kitchen where everyone was talking. He had already showered and dressed so his hair was wet.
“Hi, Sweetie!” Sookie gave him a dazzling smile and he gave her a long, deep kiss.
He pressed his forehead to Sookie’s, “Hello, my lovely wife. Have you had a good day today?”
“I slept late and just got dressed, so yeah, I guess I have,” she laughed. The baby started wiggling and fussing,”Oops, somebody else wants to say “hi,” Daddy!” She pulled the baby up out of the sling and let Eric take him, as she held the charm in her hand. “This is the charm Octavia made for him.”
“Thank you for doing that, Octavia.” Eric gave Octavia a big smile. He held the baby high and looked him right in the eye, smiling. “Hello, my son! Have you been a good boy for your mother today?”
“We’ll need to talk about that…” Sookie said.
“What did he do?” Eric could tell there was something up as he brought him to his chest and snuggled and kissed him.
She whispered to Eric, “I think he teleported twice today.”
“You think? You are not sure?”
“Alicia found him on my chest when I was asleep. She helped him get into position to feed and then later when she came back to check on him he was back in his little crib. She thought I moved him in my sleep but I’m pretty sure it was him.”
“We’ll have to watch him very carefully.” Eric said, knowing he was stating the obvious.
“I told him he needed to stay put and that we were going on a trip and he needed to be sure he stayed right next to me or Daddy.”
“That is right, Eric Alexander, you must stick close to me and to Mommy to be safe, alright? If Mommy puts you to bed, you must stay there until she or Alicia or Bobbie comes for you.”
“Sookie, you are forgetting something…” Bjorn interjected.
“Oh, yeah, he’s immune to sunlight.”
“What?” Eric was shocked – shocked that he was immune but also shocked that she knew this already. He looked from the baby, to her, then back to the baby, staring at him.
“I found out by accident, but then I took him outside and it’s true – sunlight has no effect on him.”
“That’s… That’s…” Eric didn’t know what he wanted to say. Was he happy or not?
“He’s still a Vampire, Eric, he still has fangs and drinks blood, he just has one less weakness than most Vamps do.” Bjorn put it into perspective for him.
Eric considered this and then nodded, “yes, that’s true. A Vampire without that weakness is a very good thing. He can move about in the sun. I don’t want this widely known, though – keep this among our group as much as possible. People will know him as a Vampire and assume he cannot be in the light. That could give him an advantage at some point.”
“Well, he’ll be out with me tomorrow…”
“Just don’t advertise it. Keep him in your sling and shield him a little as if it concerns you, alright?”
“We should all load into the vehicles and be on our way. We’re on a tight schedule.” Bjorn ushered them all outside and settled them into their vehicles. Alicia helped Sookie get into the car and gave her the diaper bag, showing her where the bottles and all were located in case she needed them. She gave Eric his sling to use with the baby later on and showed them how the latch on the car seat worked.
Once they were all in their vehicles, Bjorn got into the driver’s seat of Sookie’s car and another guard got in on the passenger side. Sookie recognized him as the bomb screener.
“You’re Jerry, right?”
“Yes, your majesty, Jerry Kerik.”
“Well, it’s nice to see you. You’ll be going with us, too? That’s great. I like having people I know around us.”
“Yes, ma’am it’s good to have people you can depend on.” He smiled back at her. He really liked this Queen. She was such a doll.
“I thought you just did bombs?” Sookie continued.
“I can handle all aspects of protection, but explosives are my specialty. They wanted me to stick close and make sure there are no problems this trip.”
“Kerik is a good man,” Bjorn looked at Eric in the rearview mirror, “He’ll check the float out before take your family near it and he’s already been over this car.”
“Good planning.” Eric nodded, he was pleased that they were thinking ahead this way. “I understand there’s some concern about FOTS interference. Those cowards like to blow things up.” Eric was remembering the night at Fangtasia when he killed all those terrorists.
“That’s because they don’t dare take you on directly, your majesty, they know they would lose.” Bjorn agreed with him. “Nobody gets near your family while we’re on the job, right, Jerry?” He turned on the car and the procession started slowly down the street.
“That’s right. We’ve got you all covered.”
Sookie settled in, her hand on the baby, her shoulder against Eric’s as they both leaned in over the baby in his seat between them. He sucked his thumb and watched them with big eyes.
“He’s so gorgeous – do all mothers think their babies are this gorgeous?” Sookie wondered aloud.
“Probably, but in our case, it happens to be true. He is an exceptionally beautiful baby.” Eric laughed and Sookie joined him. The baby wiggled and laughed when they did, and Sookie cleaned some drool off his cute little chin, just beaming at him. Eric looked at her as she watched the baby. They both fascinated him. Nothing had captured his imagination in all his long life the way Sookie had, and now she had given him this miraculous son, this beautiful little creature with his sharp little fangs and big blue eyes. Eric thought that he needed to make an offering of thanks to Freya for creating this life for him. She had given him things he would have never dared dream of and he needed to express his appreciation.
Sookie felt the wave of love and gratitude in the bond, and looked up at Eric. She smiled at him and stretched her face up so he could kiss her, and he did, for a long, long time. The baby kicked and giggled, and Sookie and Eric laughed and Eric turned toward the window so Sookie wouldn’t see bloody tears in his eyes, but she knew what he was feeling. He knew what she was feeling, too – huge, warm, unconditional love for him as well as for the baby and that only made him want to cry even more.
He decided to change the topic so he called the New Orleans office to confirm that payment for the photographs had been received.
“How much did they pay for this?” Sookie asked.
“$500,000. That will go into Eric Alexander’s trust fund.”
“OK, cool. Hear that, baby boy? You’re already rich!’ Sookie laughed.
In no time at all the caravan pulled into the back lot at Fangtasia, and Pam met them all at the back door. There was one car in the lot that Sookie figured must belong to the photographer.
“Hey, Pam!” Sookie said, Eric following her with the baby in his sling. Alicia followed him so she could touch up Sookie’s makeup.
“Hello, Sookie. Master – you have strapped him to yourself?”
“This is a baby carrier. It keeps them close and helps them feel loved.”
“I thought maybe you were afraid you would forget it.” She said in an absolute dead-pan and Sookie wasn’t sure if she was kidding or not.
Alicia’s eyes got big when she saw Pam. “Alicia, this is my business partner, Pam. Pam, this is Sookie’s maid.” Eric said, silently enjoying the idea of a human walking into this part of his world for the first time.
“Hello.” Pam purred at her. Alicia managed to respond but she was a bit overwhelmed by the ambiance of this place – the red walls, the macabre decorations. They all went into the main room of the club where Pam had the photographer set up to photograph them in Eric’s chair. The lights were already in place and the photographer was glad to see some other humans. Pam introduced the man as Alan Smith. He and Alicia exchanged a “what the hell” sort of look of sympathy with each other and Alicia touched up Sookie’s makeup after she saw how the light reflected her look. She decided to darken her lipstick a lot and add a little eyeliner and she did that while Eric used Sookie’s brush on his hair and laid the baby carrier on one of the tables. Pam held the baby rather uneasily as Eric brushed his hair and was relieved when he took him back.
Once Eric and Sookie were coiffed and painted, Eric sat in his throne-like chair and Sookie sat on his lap, the two of them holding the baby in front of them. They looked the perfect little Vampire family – Sookie in a dark red dress and red lipstick, Eric in a blood red silk shirt, the baby in a little red onesie Alicia had chosen for him to match Eric and Sookie’s clothes. The photographer took at least a dozen shots with minor adjustments in between and he showed them to Eric on his laptop. Eric had final approval on which shot to use, and the photographer agreed with him on which shot was the best.
“I don’t know how to ask you this, sir… I mean, your majesty… but… does the baby have… fangs?” The man was obviously scared to death of Eric.
“Yes, he has tiny little ones – very sharp. Would you like to see them?” Eric relished every chance to show them off.
“Could I… would you consider letting me photograph them?”
Eric was delighted at the idea. “Yes – splendid idea! I’d love to have a picture of them!”
“I was thinking maybe one close-up and then one of you and he together – like father, like son, both showing your fangs…”
Eric laughed loudly and patted the man on the back. He loved this idea. He took the baby from Sookie and headed back to his chair. The photographer moved in close and Eric held the baby up and stuck his finger in the baby’s mouth and the little fangs popped down. Then he tickled his chin to make him laugh and Smith quickly snapped the shot. Then Eric popped his fangs and held the baby up close to his face. Almost on cue the baby bared his fangs and the photographer got an outstanding shot of the two of them.
Eric was beside himself when he saw them and took the man’s business card. They reached an agreement on a few prints for Eric’s own collection and the photographer was invited back to Fangtasia for a free drink some night and Eric gave him a couple of free passes so he could bring a date. Before they were even out in the car, the photos were electronically transmitted to the magazine and subsequently to the wire services. By the time they arrived in New Orleans, all of the press would know that the coveted shots had already been taken.
As they pulled out of the parking lot, Sookie asked Eric, “Sweetie, were the fang shots a good idea? I thought we were supposed to represent a new face for the Vampire community?”
“That face is still going to have fangs in it, my dear. Did you not like the photos?”
“I loved them – they were really cute, but some people will find them scary. I don’t want you in any trouble with the Council…”
“We’ll be fine, my Angel. How could anyone expect a Vampire father not to take pride in his son’s fangs?”
Sookie cracked up. “Good point – no pun intended,” and she kept laughing.
Eric didn’t really see what was so funny, but he didn’t think much about it because Sookie’s laughing got the baby started laughing and that enthralled both of them. They were beside themselves watching him giggle and play with his feet and chew on his fist. Sookie let out a big yawn and Eric remembered Alicia saying she should sleep if she could so Eric insisted that she sit back with the little pillow under her head and cover up with the blanket. She was asleep in no time, and the men in the car talked softly so as not to disturb her.
It was after 11 when they rolled into New Orleans and they went straight to the address Bill had given them in the Quarter. The cars were taken around the corner for parking and Bjorn and Kerik accompanied Sookie and Eric, who had the baby back in the Baby Bjorn carrier, into a small trailer where Sookie would change for the parade. Eric told Bjorn that they needed Alicia because she had Sookie’s crown and Alicia was escorted into the trailer where Eric had to sit on the couch because he couldn’t stand up in the tiny vehicle.
“Oh. My. Goddess.” Eric heard Sookie say in the back where Alicia was helping her dress. He also heard Alicia laughing. “This has got to be a joke?” Sookie yelled.
There was a knock at the door and Bill came in. “Good evening, Eric. Is Sookie almost ready?”
“I don’t know. Sookie! Are you almost ready, my Angel? Bill is here.”
“Bill, is this a joke?”
“Is what a joke?”
“This dress – you really want me to wear this in public?”
“What’s wrong with it? You should look like a mermaid.”
Sookie came out of the back and Eric let out a loud wolf whistle. The dress was tighter than anything she had ever worn and her breasts were spilling over the pink sequined push up cups of it. The rest of it was in various patterns of blue, green and aqua sequins and it was split up to her hip. It was nearly backless except for two pink chiffon straps that crossed in the back and tied in a large bow over her backside.
“I look like a saloon girl in Hell’s version of a Wild West bar.”
“Yes, exactly, Sookie – it’s supposed to be over the top sexy – it’s a Mardi Gras costume.” Bill didn’t understand her objections.
“It’s not Mardi Gras, Bill. I look like a… like a tart.”
Eric was trying not to laugh out loud.
“You actually look very sexy, dear…” Alicia tried to make her feel better.
“What the hell do mermaids have to do with Vampires, anyway?” Sookie whined, “Isn’t this a Vampire parade?”
“It’s sort of a Vampire pride event, yes, but it’s still New Orleans – mermaids are sexy.” Bill was still not getting it.
“Eric – do you really want people to see your wife this way?” Sookie asked incredulously.
“I not only want people to see you that way, I want you to take it home so you can wear it for me privately.” Eric wiggled his eyebrows and laughed.
“You won’t be the only one in costume, Sookie – there’s a whole parade of people in over the top costumes.” Bill still wasn’t getting it, and he handed a dry cleaning bag with a hanger in it to Eric.
“What is this, Bill?” Eric asked.
“Well, they thought you would want to wear a matching shirt.”
“Please, Goddess, let it be covered in sequins…” Sookie said wryly.
Eric pulled out the shirt – a gorgeous aqua silk shirt that would look amazing on him. It matched some of the sequins in Sookie’s dress perfectly, but it was very nice and would make Eric look amazing.
“Oh, great. I’m gonna look like a tramp and you’re going to look like dessert.”
“Now, Sookie, it’s really not that bad. Let Alicia put your crown in your hair and let’s get going. You’ll smile beautifully, wave at the people, and we’ll be home in bed before you know it. At least it’s not very hot tonight so you won’t be sweaty.”
“That’s good because this thing weighs about a hundred pounds.”
“Sookie, really…” Bill started, but Alicia spoke up.
“It is a VERY heavy dress. Does she at least get to sit down?” Alicia defended her.
“Yes, you’ll be sitting in a clam shell and Eric will be standing beside you with the baby.
“That’s assuming I CAN sit down in this thing – didn’t they know I was pregnant, Bill?”
“Yes, but they took it in because you had the baby and made it sexier.”
“Well, I’m glad I had the baby because pregnant I’d look like a whale in all these sequins.”
“That was one of the reasons they put so much emphasis on your breasts – they thought they’d distract people with your abundance of cleavage.”
Sookie just glared at Bill but she let Alicia put her crown on and then relented to letting her add some false eyelashes and fresh lipstick.
Bill was listening to the headset he was wearing. “Alright the parade has begun. They say Bourbon Street is teeming with humans and Vampires and Shifters. We need to get you in place soon so your float can go in turn.”
Bjorn knocked on the door then and looked in “We’ve been over the float – it’s clean. Kerik is watching it until I get you there.”
“What are you going to do in the parade, Bjorn?” Sookie asked from behind Alicia.
“I’m wearing all black so I won’t show up and I’ll be sort of under it but where I can get to you if I need to. I’ll be right there with you guys.”
“Oh, good. I hate the idea of being out there with no protection.”
“There’s protection everywhere, Sookie. We have flyers on half a dozen rooftops and snipers on two. There’s Vampire security moving through the crowd and none of these Vamps is going to let anybody mess with their new royal family. Anyone who causes trouble tonight is already dead, they just don’t know it.” Bjorn assured her.
“Is there any FOTS presence?” Eric asked as he changed his shirt and put the baby back into place.
“Yes, there’s a small demonstration along the parade route and they’re all being watched closely. It’s not likely they’ll try anything but if they do, we’re ready.”
“Alright, I’m ready – let’s get this parade over with.” Sookie said.
“My Angel, you look stunning.”
“Don’t try to make me feel better about this, Eric.”
“DAMN!” Bjorn saw Sookie for the first time as she stood up.
“See that, Sookie? Bjorn’s jaw is on the floor. I’m not humoring you, you look amazing.” Eric assured her.
“Really? I don’t look stupid, Bjorn?”
“No ma’am, you don’t look stupid at all.” Bjorn said, trying to regain his composure. He was glad he and Eric had reached an understanding because if they hadn’t, he was sure Eric would have torn his throat out just then. What the fuck was wrong with him, reacting that way? She’s a MOTHER for Freyja’s sake! He was going to be seeing those huge – and they were huge now – breasts in his dreams for days now, not to mention that perfect leg that was bare up to her hip.
Bill and Bjorn led the way to the float and Bobbie, Amelia, Octavia and Pam were waiting there for them. Alicia joined the group as they all bragged on how sexy Sookie looked.
“What are you all going to do?” Sookie asked.
“We’re going to take a couple of guards with us and get a spot on the parade route to watch, then we’ll meet you back here after the parade.”
“Pam, you have the address for the residence in case anything goes wrong?” Eric wanted to be sure.
“Yes, Master, I’ll be sure they’re safe and if anything goes wrong, I’ll get them there safely.”
“I knew I could count on you,” Eric smiled and winked at her.
The float was a drag Queen’s wet dream, covered with flowers both real and fake glued to every inch of it. The seashell Sookie would be sitting in was made almost entirely of pink roses and she had a little swing that she managed to sit on after she hiked the dress up a little, exposing her entire leg. Eric whistled again and wiggled his eyebrows at her and she just laughed, because there was nothing else she could do. This was part of her job as Queen and she made a commitment to do what he needed her to do.
“What’s up with the swing?” She asked Eric as Bjorn took his place in front of and below them.
“Girls on swings are sexy,” Eric explained.
“They are?” She looked at him and he nodded. She looked to Bjorn and he nodded deeply and slowly to show his emphatic agreement.
“This is a dick thing, isn’t it?” She said to them.
Bjorn cracked up, but Eric said, half-joking “Sookie, I asked you never to use that phrase again, but yes, my love, it is.”
“OK, just checking. Men are like a completely different species sometimes, ya know?”
“We feel the same way about women,” Bjorn said and Eric laughed and agreed.
“What do we do if the baby gets hungry?” Sookie asked.
“I’ve got the diaper bag right here,” Bjorn said, “Eric can give him a bottle.”
“Cool. I mean, I don’t have a lot of hang-ups about breast feeding but I’d rather not haul them out in front of the entire French Quarter. I’m going to be taking enough chances waving in this dress – I’ll be lucky if I don’t end up flashing you, Bjorn.”
Bjorn closed his eyes and shook his head and made himself promise not to think about the idea of Sookie popping out of her dress. Eric knew what Bjorn was thinking and was amused by it. He liked knowing that his wife had that effect on other men, as long as he was in control of who touched her and when. Anyone who challenged his ownership, of course, was a dead man. This went without saying. The float started moving and they began to hear the music and the cheering of the crowd. The baby got a little fussy but Eric talked to him and he calmed down, staring up at him with complete trust.
It was about 10 minutes before they turned onto Bourbon Street for the long drive down. They had been told it would take about 30 minutes and there was a huge carnival atmosphere going on all around them. Sookie kind of enjoyed waving at people and seeing the marching bands and the clowns and acrobats that were dancing around the float in the street. People were screaming their names: “Queen Sookie, over here!” Girls were screaming “King Eric!” and there were people chanting “Hail to the Prince!” It was thrilling
About 15 minutes into the drive, in the epicenter of the parade, Eric spoke.
“Yes, my husband?” She was being sassy – Eric loved that.
“You are enjoying this.”
“Yeah, I have to admit, it’s kind of fun.”
They were still laughing when all hell broke loose.
The first Molotov cocktail hit a float about 50 yards in front of them and the second one hit right behind where Bjorn was kneeling. At almost the same moment, three arrows hit the float where Eric had been standing with the baby, but he had grabbed Sookie on his way down to his back on the floor, keeping Sookie and the Baby above him until they hit, then Bjorn grabbed Sookie and the float stopped as the four of them abandoned ship. Guards surrounded them as they ran back toward the area they came from, but then took them down a side street to a strategically placed van.
There was bedlam in the streets – Vampires were swooping down on would-be assassins on tops of buildings and in the street, there was shooting, people were running and screaming, the fire department was desperately trying to get to the floats before they exploded. Only the presence of so many Vampires in the crowd kept people from being trampled. Enough of them moved quickly enough to keep people from falling underneath the crowds.
Alicia and Octavia both yelled “OH, NO!” when the bomb hit the float in front of Sookie and they couldn’t tell if they got off the float or not. The security assigned to them surrounded them and tried to move them down a side street, though they all wanted to go back to see if Sookie and the baby made it off the float. One of the guards yelled “Short cut!” and they understood that he was taking them back to the beginning but not the obvious way. As they reached an alley, the women saw the van the guards had traveled in parked with a driver already in place and the motor running. They helped the women into the van, two of them got into the front of the van and the other 5 ran back to join in the fight if there was one.
“You all know what to do?” Pam asked.
“Yes, Sheriff, we have a contingency plan.” The van peeled out and down a side street.
“Good. Everybody relax. Eric is alright and if he’s alright, that means Sookie and the baby are alright.” Pam assured them.
Amelia nodded to Bobbie, Alicia and Octavia that Pam would know whether Eric was OK or not, just as the driver spoke up. “The royal family is secure, ladies, so breathe easily.”
‘Thank god!” Alicia said. “They’re sure of that?”
“Yes, ma’am, that’s our number one priority – they’re already a mile away from here. We’re going to meet them at a spot away from the residence, then our team will scout the residence to be sure it’s safe. We have people watching there anyway, but it’s just to make sure there aren’t more teams.”
“Teams?” Amelia asked.
“Yes, ma’am, attack teams of terrorists. We’ve counted 5 teams so far, so they’ll make sure there aren’t back-ups at the residence before we take any of you there.”
“Five teams? How could they get so many?”
“FOTS probably brought people in from all over the country. This was a well-publicized event, so we were prepared for trouble. There was a ton of security out there. We brought people in from all over the country, too.” He said and the other guards laughed and confirmed that they did.
After driving a few minutes, the van pulled into a parking lot and around behind a bar called CrawDaddy’s Swamp according to the neon sign but there was a large CLOSED FOR BUSINESS sign on the front door. There were other vehicles they recognized, including Sookie’s car. Everyone piled into the back of the bar, except for two guards who took sentry duty out back.
Bobbie was first in line as they filed through the back hallway of the bar and when they entered the main room she suddenly heard her name in stereo and realized that Bjorn and Bill both called her name and started toward her at the same time. She panicked and said “Where’s the ladies’ room?” and Sookie, who was sitting on the bar feeding the baby in her sequined dress, pointed the way, knowing Bobbie just needed not to deal with the two men in her life right now. Bill and Bjorn looked at each other but neither said anything, the tension between them palpable.
Eric knew exactly what was going on and shrugged as Bill looked at him, biting his tongue to keep from saying “I told you so” to Bill. Eric heard every detail of the activity in Bobbie’s room the past couple of nights and he figured Bill had created that mess himself. Eric had learned centuries ago that stringing a woman along for your own convenience didn’t last long – they’d always find someone who’d give them the attention they deserved if you didn’t. If you cared about them at all, you’d better make damned sure they knew it. If you didn’t care about them, it didn’t matter, of course, but if you did, you’d better figure it out early enough to make sure they didn’t find someone more attentive. You were much better off starting out with a woman who can’t stand you but is attracted to you, as he did with Sookie, than a woman who started out in love with you and then found you unwilling to commit when she felt it was time. Love could turn to contempt pretty quickly if a woman felt unappreciated and Eric didn’t consider Bill appreciative enough of what he had with Bobbie. He had known she was in love with him and took her for granted – a classic mistake a Vamp, even one as young as Bill, should know better than to make, especially when Eric warned him what was happening. Eric liked Bobbie and she was important to Sookie, so whatever made Bobbie happy was going to be important to Eric. He liked working with Bill, but Bobbie was becoming family to Sookie, and so was Bjorn. Sookie’s happiness was Eric’s number one priority, even with the baby in the picture.
“I’m so relieved to see you’re all alright!” Alicia said to Eric, who actually gave her a brief hug then let her make a beeline to Sookie and the baby. Alicia’s protective instincts were in full force and she wanted to see for herself that Sookie and the baby were unharmed.
“Come in, everyone, sit down.” Eric said, “Have a drink, on the house. I own this establishment, which is why it is closed tonight. We had thought we might need it for just this purpose.”
Bjorn headed around the bar and got a beer, and asked the others what they wanted. He had been a bar back/bouncer just long enough to know his way around a bar. Another van of soldiers arrived – these were more than guards, Sookie realized when they were whisking them away from the parade – and their leader approached Eric to show him the 3 arrows they had retrieved from the float.
Eric motioned to Bjorn and he followed them into the office of the bar.
“I don’t want Sookie to know too much of this,” Eric began, “She’ll worry herself sick over it. What do you have to report?”
“I thought you would want to see these arrows your majesty.”
“They’re tipped with silver. They weren’t sure wood would be enough to kill a Vampire/human hybrid baby.”
“They were trying to kill my son?”
“Both of you, actually. Did you see the signs some of them had?”
“I saw many signs.”
“The ones that said “Spawn of Satan?”
“Well, they’re not really exaggerating, at least not in their minds. They’ve decided that there’s something sinister that has allowed you to reproduce and they’re on a mission to make sure he doesn’t grow up and you don’t produce another.”
“You got this from one of the attackers?”
“Three of them by different sets of our teams. Along the route, there were three teams of two with crossbows, they were all killed by our flyers. Our snipers got the two bombers and the seconds of those teams were apprehended trying to escape.”
“So five teams of two?”
“That’s all we have so far, but we have our teams following their trails back to hotels and such to see what else we can find out.”
“They’re all dead?”
“Of course, your majesty, once we were sure we had all the information we could get from them. They don’t last long under real torture, these humans.”
“No, they don’t. When will we be cleared to go to the residence?”
“I’d suggest we wait here for at least two hours in case we’re being followed. By that time, trails will have been followed and our entire force can concentrate on protecting the residence once we get you there.”
“Alright – any collateral damage?”
“A few injuries from the stampede, minor burns, and the crowd turned on that group of FOTS carrying signs.”
“Turned on them?”
“Yes, but there’s no evidence of it to be found. They’ll never be heard from again, but there’s no physical evidence anyone can find to connect it to Vampires. We destroyed all the surveillance tapes that were operational along the route from the point that the bombs hit forward. There’s evidence of what they did, but none of what we did. We made sure of it.”
“What about the police?”
“They won’t find anything and if they did, it would disappear. Our men on the inside will see to that. The news has already announced this as an anti-Vampire terrorist attack by radical FOTS members. It won’t make them any friends in this city. They need Vampire money here too much for the city to let them get away with this kind of stuff. They’ll be lucky if FOTS isn’t run completely out of Louisiana.”
“I’m getting fed up with these radicals.” Eric said with a kind of resolve.
“Yes, your majesty.”
“We might have to consider more pro-active measures in the future.” He continued.
“Yes, your majesty.”
“I’ll expect a plan by next week as to what you suggest our next step should be.”
“Yes, your majesty. I’ll go check on my men and see if there’s any further progress.”
The officer left Eric and Bjorn in the office. “Eric, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“I’m saying we aren’t going to wait for them to come to us any more. We’re going to stop them in the planning stages. There won’t be any more picketers at our events. They’ll be dealt with much more directly.”
“The fundraiser Friday night. No picketers of any kind. They disappear as soon as they show up. They can all be glamoured. Our Vampire soldiers will move amongst them and take them out one by one.”
“You’re declaring war?”
“Not war – think of it as more of a CIA-style program targeted to take out key players. They show up, they never make it back home. A leader steps forward, like a Steve Newlin, we take him out immediately in a way that can’t be traced back to us. We’ve been too tolerant too long. Now we take the fight to them. Someone stands up and identifies themselves as an enemy of Vampires, that’s exactly how we treat them.”
“Are you going to tell Sookie about this new policy?”
“No, of course not. Hopefully it will never touch her. I’ve said from the beginning I won’t tolerate any threat to my family. FOTS has become a significant threat. We’ve let humans live as if our rules don’t matter or even exist. Well, they exist. If a Supe tried to kill me or my son, I’d kill them. Now the same applies to humans. No second chances.”
“The ones who tried to kill you are dead.”
“They had to have help.”
“Eric, think about this for a while before you move forward. I have experience with this kind of thing. You shouldn’t go into it right after an assassination attempt. Get some distance and let’s talk about it in a week or so.”
“There will be NO protesters Friday night.”
“Alright, that’s doable, but consider carefully before going after Newlin.”
“Alright. Let’s get through this week end, then we’ll revisit the idea.”
“Good. I’m not saying I disagree with it, I’m just saying there needs to be some distance before you act on this.”
“Alright. I need to get back to my wife and my baby.”
When they went back out to the bar, Sookie was putting the top of her dress back in place as Alicia held the baby. Eric lifted Sookie down off the bar where he had put her earlier and then he took the baby from Alicia, hugging him to his chest and kissing his head. Sookie didn’t have to ask – she could feel what Eric was feeling in the bond and she knew it meant that the terrorists had been aiming at the baby. She wouldn’t question Eric about it because she knew he wouldn’t want to worry her. There was no point in putting him in a position where he might have to lie to her. She knew enough about Vampires to know that if Eric knew the baby had been a target, this wasn’t over – not by a long shot. She was surprised that the prospect didn’t bother her at all. If someone wanted to harm her child, she wanted them dead. She didn’t put it together, but she had had enough of Eric’s blood to make her maternal instinct her strongest drive. Her human training would take a back seat to her instinct to protect her child at all costs. Just as Eric was taking on some of her human traits, she was taking on some Vampire traits. She wasn’t being turned, just intensified. Eric’s blood was turning up the volume on Sookie’s primal nature and that would be a distinct advantage in years to come.
Sookie, Amelia, Bobbie, Alicia and Octavia sat around chatting while the guards moved in and out and Eric, Bill. Pam and Bjorn consulted with them. A cook was on duty so the humans and Shifters were served hot wings and fries and a few other things while they waited for the clearance to go to the residence. Bobbie reminded Bjorn that he should eat while he could, too, which was good because he wouldn’t have thought about it.
Once they were given the all clear, they piled back into the vehicles and were taken to the residence in the Garden District of the city. Bill had the cars stop in front of the house so Sookie and her friends could go in the front door and get the full effect. All the lights were on so they could see inside and outside.
The front door was modest except for the two Greek columns on either side and a lovely front porch, but when they stepped through the front door, Sookie couldn’t believe her eyes. The front room was huge – there was a seating area to the left and farther back a fancy, full-sized pool table. To the right was a huge formal dining area with the longest table Sookie had ever seen, surrounded by cream-colored upholstered chairs that would look good in a sitting room. Sookie had never seen such chairs at a dining table. There was a huge curving staircase that went up to the back, and the landing on the stairs had real stained glass in the window.
“Holy smoke!” was all Sookie managed to say.
“It’s an historical landmark,” Bill explained, “and it used to be a Catholic church. Victor acquired it from an authoress who made her money writing Vampire novels back before the Great Revelation. Come through the kitchen and look out back.” Bill led the ladies through a huge, state of the art kitchen and out onto the porches that stretched around back of the house. “There’s a formal, French garden here and if you come down here, there’s the swimming pool. The garage is out back there.”
Sookie couldn’t believe how beautiful it was back there. There were even tea lights floating in the pool so she could see better. She had never seen anything like this. The pool was a long rectangular one that fit into the L shape of the house.
“Are there balconies upstairs, too?” she asked.
“Yes, every bedroom has a balcony and there’s a sitting area upstairs that leads to a balcony out front.” Bill explained, “There are 6 bedrooms, a parlor with a fireplace and piano, and the third floor is its own little apartment with two bedrooms. There’s an elevator up to the second floor or you can access these bedrooms from these steps here from the outside. Bobbie, that far room on the top is our room. Bjorn is in the room above and to the right. I thought Alicia would take the downstairs bedroom and Octavia and Amelia, you’ll be in the little apartment upstairs and there’s a place for Pam there as well. I’ll have one of the guards show you the way up there. It’s fully stocked and you’ll each have your own room.”
“We’re going to turn in – you say there’s food up there?” Octavia asked.
“Yes, you should have everything you need.” Bill motioned to a guard to show them to the third floor.
“We’ll see you tomorrow, Sookie!” Amelia called.
“‘K, good night! This is not a house, it’s a mansion! I can’t wait to see it in daylight!” Sookie ran up the outside stairs to the balconies and cut through so she could see the upstairs. Eric was hanging back, holding the baby in his carrier and thinking intently about Sookie’s reaction to the house. He had never seen her so excited. Bill followed her up to the second floor and showed her the bedroom she and Eric would be in with the fancy closet and huge bathroom. She ran down the winding staircase and went back through the house to find the parlor, which was done in shades of burgundy and pink with beautiful over-stuffed leather furnishings. Bill could hardly keep up with her. He showed her the spa on the first floor with its huge tub surrounded by Greek columns and she was blown away.
Eric was thinking intently about this. He hadn’t anticipated such a positive reaction in Sookie. He was sitting at the dining table, talking to the baby and thinking when Bill came back down.
“What do you think, Eric?” Bill pulled out a chair next to him at the dining table.
“About what, Bill?”
“Well, I know you offered this property to me, but the reason I never agreed to take it is I wanted Sookie to see it first. Bobbie and I both felt that this would be a place Sookie would enjoy, much more than I ever would. Security would be a bit difficult, but I thought even if you buy an estate outside of New Orleans, you might want to keep this place for staying in town. It’s a Southern girl’s dream. You see how excited she is. She’ll only be more so when she sees it in the day light and gets the full effect of the gardens, the fountain and especially that swimming pool.”
“It is impressive. And I have never seen her react this way to anything material. She’s like a little girl,” he said, almost to himself, looking directly into the baby’s eyes.
“Don’t you want to see the rest of the house?”
“I’ve seen everything I need to see. I saw it in her face when we came up the steps into the front door. She obviously belongs in this house.”
“You’re still going to look at other properties, though?”
“Yes, I am, but I have a feeling that even if we buy something outside of town, she’ll want to be here. I won’t even consider selling it out from under her. I finally have a way to give her something that she always wanted.”
“I thought you might feel that way. I’m glad we agree. This house is Sookie all over.”
Sookie ran back into the kitchen and looked in the freezer and refrigerator and found it stocked with RMs, so she took three back out to Eric and Bill.
“Hey, Sweetie, look what I found. Let’s all have one!” She kissed Eric and kissed the baby on the head.
“You’re still drinking these, Sookie?” Bill was surprised.
“Yep, to keep up with what Eric and the baby take.”
Eric pulled a chair out so Sookie could sit by him. “Don’t you want to see the upstairs, Eric?”
“I’ll see it when we go up, my Angel. Bill and I have been talking about the disposition of this property.”
“Disposition? Are you going to sell it?” She tried not to look disappointed.
“No, Sweetheart, Bill and I were just saying this should be your house. Would you like to live here, my Angel?”
“REALLY? I mean, is it big enough? It’s really gorgeous. But… but…”
“It’s not going to be easy to defend, is it?”
“We were just discussing that. We’re still going to look at other properties, and see if we can find one outside of town that will meet all of our needs, but this can still be our house and we can stay here whenever we want. We’ll be traveling a lot to manage our territories. This can easily be one of our homes. We already own it.” He stroked her cheek. “I don’t think I could bear to sell it after seeing your face when you walked through the door. Bill and I both agree that this is your house, my Angel.”
“Oh, thank you!” She kissed him hard then kissed him all over his face half a dozen times. The baby laughed and wiggled. “You like it here, too, don’t you, Alex?”
The baby gurgled and chewed on his fingers.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Sookie laughed.
“Sookie, I think the baby needs you…”
“Fresh diaper?” She laughed. She knew it was about that time.
“Yes, take him, please?” Eric pulled him up out of the harness and Sookie went to find the diaper bag.
“Have you changed a diaper yet, Eric?” Bill asked, knowing the answer.
“It’s only been a couple of days but so far I have managed to avoid the bad ones. Between Sookie, Bobbie and Alicia, they’ve had him covered. I’m sure he’ll catch me alone with him soon, if we spend many nights together.”
“Did you really spend the whole night with him already?”
“Yes, and we got along quite well. He let me call you and Sandy, I got some work done, we spent some time talking and rocking…”
“You actually sat in a chair and rocked him?” Bill couldn’t imagine Eric rocking a baby.
“Yes, when I gave him a baby bottle full of RM and when he fussed a little. He’s not hard to care for at this stage. He sleeps a lot and he doesn’t cry as much as I’ve always heard they do.”
“Wait until his teeth start coming in… that’s when they wail all night. Mine were nearly inconsolable at that stage.”
“Yours? You had children, Bill?”
“Yes, I did. I loved being a father, though by today’s standards I wasn’t much of a husband. Things were different in those days. I worked the farm and my wife tended the children and did all the house work, and that’s back when it was real work.”
“I was always away on a raiding party or fighting. I had children but I barely knew them. None of them was ever old enough to fight and none of the girls were old enough to marry so I had no interest in them before I was turned,” Eric remembered, “so it’s almost as if I never had them at all. That’s the way life was in those days. I like this way much better. I will know my son and he will know me. I will be here to watch him grow. I will be able to focus on him in a way that wasn’t possible when I was human. I can’t tell you what a relief it is, after a thousand years, to have something different and wonderful to look forward to…”
“Hey, Daddy, we’re all fresh now!” Sookie brought the baby back to Eric. “What are you looking forward to?”
“To watching this son of mine grow up and learn to be a Vampire. Bill, you never really met Eric Alexander earlier, did you?”
“Uh… no… I…” Bill had been trying to avoid being anywhere near the baby.
Eric turned the baby toward Bill and pointed to Bill. “Eric Alexander, this is Bill. He works with Daddy and he is a Vampire as we are. Here, show Bill your fangs, son.” Eric stuck a finger in to tickle his upper gums and the little fangs shot down and pierced his finger, which he then displayed proudly.
“That’s remarkable!” Bill said. “I can’t believe he already has fangs.”
“No one expected it, but it makes sense because he needs both blood and milk.” Eric explained as his finger healed up.
“Excuse me, Sookie?” Alicia was coming from the kitchen with a glass of milk and a plate. “I’m going to be turning in soon, but I thought you should have something else to eat. I put the baby’s things up in your room and the little baby bed is all set up next to your side of the bed. There are two bottles of RM up there and the bottle warmer is on the dresser. Your clothes are in the closet and your things are in the bathroom for the morning.”
“Oh, wow – thank you for doing all that, Alicia.”
“My pleasure dear. I’m going to get some sleep now so I can be up to help with the baby in a few hours.”
“I know this is really late for you – sleep in if you need to. I’ll take care of feeding the baby. I can handle it.”
“I’ll see you in the morning, dear. Good night, Baby E. Good night, everyone!”
“Thank you for your help, Alicia.” Eric said very sincerely. Alicia was worth every penny of her considerable salary as far as Eric was concerned. He didn’t want to think of how Sookie would manage without her. Not that he doubted her ability to do it, but she would be under considerably more stress and that wouldn’t be good for any of them.
“I should go check on Bobbie – if you don’t mind, I’ll say good night, now.” Bill excused himself and headed up the stairs as Bjorn came in through the kitchen. Eric could smell Bobbie on him, but didn’t say anything.
“Eric, all the guards are in place and the new shift will be on at 5:30. I’m going to turn in, if you don’t mind, since I have to drive Sookie and Alicia around tomorrow.”
“Bill gave you the information on the properties they’re going to look at?”
“Yes, I’ve got the list and the name of the real estate agent, and Kerik will be here to go with us.”
“Very good. Thank you for your help tonight, Bjorn. Good night.”
“Good night, Bjorn – thanks for everything!” Sookie said, looking up from her turkey sandwich, chips and milk. “We need to turn in pretty soon, Eric – this stuff is going to make me sleepy.”
“My Angel, as soon as you are done, I plan to whisk you upstairs, tuck the baby into his little bed and make love to you as I have never done before.”
“With the baby in the room? Eric…”
“He will be asleep and we will be very quiet – or at least we’ll try. We don’t have a lot of time before I have to go to rest.”
“Well, I’m done, so let’s go to bed. I need some skin-to-skin time with you, too. It’s been days since we even cuddled.”
“You’ve been busy giving birth,” Eric laughed.
“Yeah, well, you know what else we haven’t done in a few days?”
“Blood exchange – we need to make sure we do that. Let me put this in the sink.”
“Leave it and let’s go up. Alicia will get it in the morning.”
The three of them made their way up the winding staircase, Eric and Sookie holding hands. Sookie felt like she was in a movie going up those grand stairs with this beautiful man. She showed Eric into the room which had a huge bed and a really fancy coffin big enough for two off to the side. Eric was glad to see a heavy door and thick walls, so sound wouldn’t travel to well if they got a little loud, though he didn’t intend to do a lot tonight – tomorrow night, however, was a different story. He pulled the baby out of the carrier and gave him a snuggle and a kiss then passed him to Sookie who kissed him and cooed at him a little and tucked him into the portable crib. Eric was stripped and in bed waiting for her before she had the baby in the bed, and she laughed at him.
“In a hurry, are we?”
“Yes, we are – dawn approaches. I’m surprised you aren’t in a bigger hurry to get out of that dress.”
“I had considered doing a little strip tease, but if you’re in a hurry…”
“No, no, that’s alright – tease away, my Angel.”
Sookie laughed and started singing a tune and doing a little bump and grind on her way around to his side of the bed, flashing a little cleavage one minute, and her entire leg the next. When she reached him, she turned her back, flipped her hair and thrust her backside out to him, and right on cue he untied the pink straps of the dress. She kept singing and wiggling as he slowly pulled down the zipper at the back of the dress, then she turned and did a little tease about dropping the top of the dress, finally dropping her top and wiggling the dress down off her body, taking her panties with it so it was one smooth movement from dressed to bare. Eric let out a low growl of pleasure as she pulled the covers back off of him and before she knew what was happening he had grabbed her by the waist, swung her over him to her side of the bed, then he was on top of her in the blink of an eye, kissing her so hard and so long she gasped for breath when he pulled back to let her breathe.
He was using all 1,000 years of skill on these kisses tonight and his hands were everywhere. A question flashed through her mind – can hands be hungry? Because if they can, his were starving as they stroked and explored every inch of her. His fingers found her center as he continued to take her breath with his kisses. She was writhing beneath him as he began to nip at her shoulders and breasts, fucking her with his fingers, stretching her wide and circling her clit with is thumb. She was shaking all over.
“Are you cold, my Lover?”
“No,” she managed to say breathlessly,
“Mmmmm – then you are aroused,” he purred into her ear and then ran his tongue around her ear. She couldn’t keep from moaning now and he quickly but smoothly replaced his fingers with another, much larger part of himself and she gasped as he filled her, then slowly stroked in and out, giving her the full measure of him with each stroke, hooking his hand behind one of her knees and pulling her leg up so he could take her more deeply. She was trying so hard not to make any noise, but she just couldn’t help it. It was too deep, and too good and she felt as if she could feel him in her throat. He began to take her very aggressively and Sookie didn’t know how she would keep from screaming. It was building, and building and she was just trying not to cry out every time he hit home. She reached up and grabbed the headboard shaking her head wildly back and forth. She didn’t want to scream so she started talking: “Eric, oh, god, I love you, oh, ERIC!” And then her words just melted into “Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah” as he was spurred on by what she had said. When he could tell she was RIGHT THERE he bit her breast savagely and she had an orgasm that was like an explosion in her brain. She wondered if you could die from an orgasm, though who would care, this was totally worth the risk. Waves of it rolled through her and she was so limp that she flopped like a rag doll when he flipped her over and entered her from behind, then tore his wrist and held it to her lips, pressing her back into him. His blood almost instantly started another orgasm in her and he was obviously about to reach his release but he managed to hold it off until she was in the throes so they came together in a shimmer of cool blue light, then collapsed together, unable to speak for a good ten minutes. As she was starting to come around she realized that he was very gently kissing her along her shoulders. He smoothed the hair away from her ear and whispered “I love you, my beautiful wife” and she smiled but found she couldn’t lift her head.
“I love you, too, Eric. The baby…?”
“Slept through the whole thing, my Angel.” He had shifted off of her and was gently stroking her back. “I think it soothes him when we are together. Remember he always slept when he was inside you and we made love? It calms him.”
“He’s tied into our bond – he probably gets as blissed out as we do,” she laughed softly. Eric gently pulled the covers up over her and turned the light off. “You have to go to rest now?”
“Soon, but you will be asleep before I go. I’ll lie with you until the sun comes up. You drift off now, Lover, and I will see you at sundown.”
“Ok” was all she managed to say before sleep took her. Eric lay with her listening to her breathe as long as he could, then went to rest in the large box in the room.