LATE Chapter 076

Company’s Coming

 

The cars pulled up in front of the house and stopped. Bjorn stopped Sookie’s car in front of the garage, but he told them not to hang around out front in case they were followed. Sookie bounced up to the front steps.

“Hey, Margaret!” Sookie hugged her. “I didn’t know you’d be here this late. How have you been?”

“Oh, I’m fine – it will be nice to have the house full and busy again, though. I’m very glad you’re all home!”

“Hello, Margaret!” Eric came up behind Sookie, the baby in his arms looking around with big eyes. “Alex, do you remember Margaret?”

“Mahdwid?”

“Yes, Margaret – she helps take care of you like Alicia does.”

“Oday, Eesh.” He pointed back to where Alicia was bringing things out of the car she rode in.

“Let’s all move inside where it’s safer, alright?” Eric tried to usher Sookie and Margaret indoors, just in case.

“Yes, yes, Missus, come in. I’ve got some supper ready for you all,” she said as she led them toward the kitchen.

The guards were moving luggage into the house with Jerry’s close Supervision, just in case, and most of the crew – Eric, Sookie, Alex, Octavia, Amelia, Bobbie, Bjorn, and Alicia – gathered around the kitchen table for coffee, sweet tea, shrimp étouffée, and strawberry pie.

Eric was watching Sookie, and she was just glowing at having her whole family together again. Alex, who was sitting on Sookie’s lap kept smacking the top of the table and trying to crawl up onto it and at one point he stuck his finger in Sookie’s étouffée.

“Oh, no, Sweetie that’s too spicy for a baby!” Sookie tried to keep him from putting it in his mouth but he did with no ill effects. He reached for it again but she caught him. “Alex – not for babies!”

“Nah por beebees,” he repeated.

“What a little Angel he is – I can’t believe he’s already talking! He’s just brilliant!” Margaret was just gushing over the baby and Eric was loving it.

“Alicia – did you bring any Cheerios, by any chance? Maybe that would keep him busy?” Sookie suggested.

“Yes, there are some small boxes in my tote bag. Just a minute and I’ll get them. ” Alicia went out to the living room. Margaret stepped into the pantry and brought out the high chair she had put together and brought down in case they needed it.

“Lookie, Alex, Margaret’s got your high chair ready for you!” Sookie said as she sat the chair between Sookie and Eric.

“Yes, that’s what he needs,” Eric agreed, standing up and taking the baby from Sookie, then settling him into the chair. “say ‘thank you, Margaret.'”

“Day-oo, Mahdwid!” The baby leaned over so he could look at her, giving her a big smile.

“Oh, what a Sweetheart!”

“That’s my good boy, Alex,” Eric said proudly.

Alicia tore open the little box of Cheerios and poured some on the tray to Alex’s delight.

“What is this?” Eric asked as Alex put one in his mouth and played with the others.

“It’s a breakfast cereal,” Sookie explained, “they give it to teething babies. It’s easy for them to pick up and they like to nibble on them, and it basically melts in their mouths. He had some this afternoon.”

“Alright – you’re sure it won’t hurt him?”

“He should be fine with it, but we keep an eye on him, just in case.”

“Why would a baby like these? Do they taste good?”

“Sort of, but mostly it feels good to bite on something when they’re teething. He’s already showing signs that his teeth are coming in, so he wants to put everything in his mouth and he drools on everything.”

“Octavia – is this early for him to get teeth?”

“Yeah, they usually don’t start to come in until 8 months or so, but if you think about it, it’s pretty much in line with his other capabilities – rolling over, crawling, even a bit of talking wouldn’t be that unusual for 8 – 12 months. His abilities are advanced, but his size isn’t – that’s the interesting part of it. He’s still as small as you’d expect him to be.”

“I’m glad about that – I want him to stay small as long as he’s supposed to. I don’t want him to grow up too fast. Talking is OK, but that’s it. I don’t want him growing superfast at this stage.”

“It looks like he will grow normally, so far at least,” Octavia said.

“He may be walking soon, though,” Eric reminded her.

“Walking is OK, too, though I worry about keeping up with him,” Sookie laughed. “I just want him to stay cuddly.”

“He will always be cuddly, Sookie.” Bobbie was trying to reassure her.

“Yeah, but not like he is now. I want all of this I can get,” she said wistfully as she stroked his cheek, smiling at him.

“Dee-ohs, Mamee.”

“Yeah, you’re eating Cheerios, aren’t you? Do you like Cheerios, Alex?”

“Omba!” He was having a fine time and stuck a new one in his mouth, gumming it enthusiastically.

Eric was drinking an RM, which caught the baby’s attention. “Ee, Dadee.”

Margaret was there in a flash with a little bottle that Eric poured a little RM into.

“Here you go, Alex.” Eric said as he handed him the bottle. Alex picked it up and put it in his mouth, sucking hard and humming.

“Is that good, Alex?” Eric was teasing him a little.

“Omba, dood!”

“Dood?” Eric asked

“Nah dood, DOOD!”

“He thinks he’s saying “good,”” Octavia told him. “His mouth hasn’t caught up with his brain yet. His brain thinks he’s saying the word correctly because it hasn’t developed the ability to distinguish the sounds he’s making. He can tell the difference when you say dood and good, but he can’t tell the difference when he says it. That will change as his brain develops. He also can’t say gutteral sounds yet, but that will develop in time, too.”

“What’s a gutteral sound?” Sookie asked

“That’s a sound made in the back of the mouth or throat. He can’t say G’s, K’s, NG’s. It’s not a gutteral, but the letter L gives him trouble because that requires a greater control of the tongue than he has now, so L’s become W’s and so do R’s. Notice that “sleeping” becomes “seepeen,” and he has trouble ending words with T’s so they become D’s. As he matures, he’ll hear what he’s saying more accurately and he’ll have better control of his tongue, plus he’ll have teeth then,” Octavia explained.

“So he says “dood” but he hears himself saying “good?” Sookie asked.

“Exactly. As he gets older you’ll want to correct him and help him learn to say the words correctly, but if you did that now, it would just frustrate him. He wouldn’t understand what you wanted him to do and even if he did, he wouldn’t have the capacity to do it.”

“Wow – I didn’t know it was that complicated!”

“Speech is very complex – it takes a combination of special neural connections in the brain and the motor skills to control his tongue and his breathing. It won’t take long with that one – his neural highways are coming together at break-neck speed.”

“Cool. So he’s doing really well, then,” Sookie said, almost to herself.

“As you said, Sookie, he’s already getting to the fun part where he can play and talk,” Eric said softly. This child was perfect as far as Eric was concerned, and he was happy to see Sookie starting to embrace his accelerated development and appreciate it for the gift that it was. Eric knew it was vital to his survival. He also just liked the fact that his son was so smart.

Margaret was gathering up dishes and it occurred to Sookie that it was very late. “Margaret, are you going to be OK driving home tonight?”

“I’m already home, Missus. Mr. Northman got me out of my lease and I’m living here now until we go to New Orleans.”

“You live here now? Awesome!”

“Yes, and I’m moving up to Bobbie’s room on the fourth floor so there’s still room for Octavia and Amelia, or later this week, Octavia and Alicia.”

“Alicia, you’re moving in, too?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Cool! I had no idea!”

“Which reminds me, Margaret, did we hear from Mr. Burnham today?”

“Yes, we did, sir and all systems are ‘go’ as of the 15th of this month. Nearly everything is in place.”

“‘Go’ for what?” Sookie was realizing something was up.

“I didn’t want to tell you until it was sure, Sookie, but we’re going to expand our property here. I’ve bought additional land in every direction. The fence will be extended to the new boundaries, a guesthouse will be built out back, the servants quarters are already being renovated and this street will be closed off at the far border of our land. The next street over will become the entrance to our property. ”

“What?”

“Yes, my dear, this will be our secure compound. We’ll still stay in New Orleans a lot and we’ll have our villa in Las Vegas, but this will be the base of operations.”

“But I thought your time here was wasted?”

“Only in terms of the construction in New Orleans, and that will be well underway by the time we return there. Bill has everything in hand, and we’ll be there through the fall as the construction takes place here. In the mean time, the new property lets the front of our house become the middle of the larger lot, and we’ll have plenty of room between the house and the fence line, plus there will be guard stands that will make things more convenient for the soldiers.”

“How long have you known about this?” Sookie was in shock.

“I had the idea some time ago, but I didn’t want to get your hopes up until I owned the property and had the zoning issues resolved. Apparently, we’ll be able to start construction on the 15th.”

“So we’re staying here?”

“My plan is to spend 2 weeks of every month here, 1 week or less in Las Vegas and 1 in New Orleans. Of course that’s an ideal situation and we’ll have to vary it according to any functions we need to attend. I’m pretty sure we’ll need to spend the holidays in New Orleans, but you won’t mind that, will you?”

“No way! Wow – this is fantastic! And Margaret and Alicia will be living here?”

“Yes, for a while at least. Once we get the guest house done, I may elect to go ahead and build a small house for them out back, too, but they both wanted to go ahead and take the 2nd floor.”

“Did everybody know about this except me?”

“Not everyone – Bobbie didn’t know, or Amelia, though I did confirm a couple of things with her. Octavia knew and Alicia and Margaret had to be in on the planning. Bjorn found out last week when he decided to move in with Bobbie, and he has been coordinating with Vincent as they set up our local security teams.”

“So I don’t have to look at more properties? And we’ll be here at least half the time? That ROCKS!” Sookie was beside herself. This was the best possible thing as far as she was concerned. She pulled Alex’s highchair back so she could get to Eric, then threw her arms around his neck, sat on his lap and kissed him.

“It will mean splitting time between three houses instead of just New Orleans and Las Vegas, you know…?”

“Hey, I can put up with anything if I know we can spend half our time here. This is so cool! That means Alex gets to think of this as home, too.”

Alex was happily gumming Cheerios and he heard his name, but he had no idea what they were talking about. Sookie was going on about the new plan when he said, “Do-ee, Mamee.”

“What, Sweetie?”

“Do-ee!”

“He wants his purple dragon – has anybody seen it?” Sookie asked.

“I think it’s in the living room,” Bobbie said as she went out to look for it.

“So when can we go to bed?” Sookie asked hopefully.

“Uh – I need to meet with Eric for a bit first,” Bjorn said.

“Alright, Sookie, you can take the baby on up and I’ll be there in a bit. Bjorn, let’s use Sookie’s office,”

“I’m going to bed, so I’ll see you all tomorrow,” Octavia said.

“You’re in the pink room on the second floor, Octavia. Do you need me to show you where it is?” Alicia offered.

“No, I’ve stayed there before. Thanks for dinner, ladies.”

Everybody called ‘good night’ to her and Alicia showed her where the elevator was hidden. Eric and Bjorn went into Sookie’s office as Alicia and Margaret closed up the kitchen. Bobbie and Sookie were chatting over the baby and Amelia called to say she made it home safely. Bobbie helped Sookie gather up her baby stuff, including a couple of bottles of RM Margaret made up for him, and they headed up to Sookie’s room with the baby.

“Haaa!” Alex said as they entered Sookie’s bedroom.

“That’s exactly how Mommy feels, Alex! It’s nice to be home, isn’t it?”

“OMba!”

Bobbie and Sookie cracked up.

“Do you want a massage before Eric comes up, Sookie?”

“Yeah, actually, that would rock. I can’t wait to get out of these clothes,” Sookie said as she turned down her bed and put Alex in the middle of it. He was giggling and playing with his toes as the two women chatted and Sookie got undressed. Bobbie took a bottle of oil out of Sookie’s train case, which had been brought up by a guard earlier, and started to rub Sookie’s back as Alex watched, fascinated.

“Alright, Bjorn, what do we know so far?” Eric asked him as he closed the office door.

“Well, the cars were registered to Allen and Associates in Houston, Texas, which turns out to be a dummy corporation used to obscure the activities of the real organization which is New Centurion, Ltd.”

“I’ve never heard of them.”

“Unfortunately, I have. They normally take defense contracts or work outside the US. They’re mercenaries, linked to the illegal diamond trade in Africa and several South American juntas.”

“Paid soldiers?”

“Yes, and the guy who owns it, Jubal Garner, is bad news. They’ve been keeping their names out of the papers so far, but they’re providing a substantial number of the troops in the Middle East, but they don’t answer to anyone. They’ve been connected to several massacres of civilians and they aren’t subject to any law, anywhere, so far.”

“So far?”

“The guy who runs it was big with the last administration because he considers their work over there a literal Christian crusade. He basically intends to spread Christianity to the whole world, by force, if necessary, so conservative forces are trying to keep them out of the media and keeping Congress from investigating their activities while under US employ.”

“Why would they be following us?”

“That’s what has me worried. If they’ve set their sites against Vampires, it could mean serious trouble, especially if their involvement overseas ends. All those paid killers with nothing to do could make things very bad for Vamps, or any kind of Supe, here in the States.”

“This is a serious threat.”

“Yes.”

“Long-term?”

“Yes.”

“Recommendations?”

“Yes – increase the guard, contact other Regents and see if they’re being followed, too, prepare for war. Get the fences up here ASAP.”

“How good are these mercenaries?”

“The best – they recruit heavily among Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, SEER School graduates. These are very dangerous people.”

“Have you ever worked for them?”

“That’s how I came to be in New Orleans. I came down to see about a job, but I decided not to take it. I took a job with Victor Madden instead.”

“Why?”

“I trusted him more.”

Eric raised an eyebrow and looked at Bjorn.

“Exactly,” Bjorn said. “This is bad. They favor extremists, too, of the radical Christian variety.”

“Are there so many?”

“A lot more than you might think, and they’ve infiltrated military academies, every branch of service, intelligence agencies of all kinds, and their connections go to the top of the government and beyond to big, old money groups that don’t answer to anyone at all.”

“At least a few of those groups are Vampire-controlled.”

“Yeah, but not enough of them, and the ones that aren’t would be happy to see the Vamp groups destroyed.”

“Alright, what’s the immediate plan?”

“Vincent is doubling the guard and looking for better soldiers who have a stake in keeping the Vampire power structure in place. He and two guys will be here tomorrow afternoon with equipment and we’ll sweep the place for bugs and check the phone lines for taps. I think you should invest in a small detector for us to take when we travel since bugs will be a continuous concern.”

“Alright. You’ll be here, so you can get whatever you need from Sookie or the staff, right?”

“Right – it shouldn’t take us long. We need that fence up the minute it’s legal to do it, even before the bull dozers come in to set up the new drive.”

“Have Alicia call my day man tomorrow and get the particulars from him. Vincent is arranging the fences, so he can go ahead and set that up for the legal date. If you need money for anything, Alicia has all the information for my accounts. I don’t want Sookie scared about this any sooner than necessary, though she’s going to know something is up. We need to consider if other security arrangements are necessary in New Orleans or Las Vegas. I thought the FOTS was bad – that’s nothing compared to this.”

“Right – though there might be some connection.”

“Yes, well, the Newlin problem will be addressed very soon. Anything else we need to cover?”

“No, your majesty, that’s it.”

“Bjorn, when we’re at home, you can call me Eric, alright?”

“Alright – thanks.”

“Have a good night. I’m sure Bobbie is waiting for you.”

“I guess so. I need to call Vincent first and he’ll probably call you.”

“I need to apprise Bill and Sandy of what is going on, then I’ll talk to Niall tomorrow night. Are the Weres and Shifters still planning to come out?”

“Last I heard, Monday, July 13 is the date. They wanted to do it at the beginning of the week so people would have to work and they’d handle it, we hope, by the weekend.”

“I haven’t received any notice through official channels – I hope they’re going to warn other Supes?”

“You’ll probably get notice by Friday.”

“Right. Good night, then.”

“G’nite, Eric.”

Bjorn headed upstairs, and Eric called Bill.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Bill. You heard about our shadows tonight?”

“Yes, I did. Is it what you suspected?”

“Yes, it is, so that tip was correct. You know what to do?”

“Yes – effective immediately?”

“Absolutely. Have you told Sandy?”

“Yes, I did. You want me to call her?”

“Yes, I want to spend some time with my family.”

“Good night, then.”

“Good night, Bill.”

Eric dialed his phone.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Carolina. Your source was correct. I’m in.”

“Excellent. I’ll be in touch.”

“Good. Talk to you soon.”

“Very soon.” She hung up the phone.

Bjorn stopped halfway up the steps to the third floor. “Everybody decent in there?”

“Just a second,” Bobbie called. She wiped Sookie’s back with a towel then pulled the sheet up over her. “OK, you can come up!”

“I hope I didn’t wake anybody?”

“No, Sookie was just having her massage and the baby has been entertaining us.”

“Oh, yeah – what’s he doing?”

“We’re saying words and he’s trying to copy us. It’s really cute.”

“Ah, Borhd!”

“Hi, Alex! Are you ready to go up, Bobbie?”

“Yeah, I am, unless Sookie needs me for something?”

“No, we’re fine. Have a good night!”

Bjorn and Bobbie headed upstairs and Sookie blew raspberries on Alex’s tummy so he was giggling like crazy when Eric came in.

“I hear somebody having fun!” Eric teased as he knelt down beside the bed and tickled Alex. The baby rolled on his side toward Eric and Eric’s hand crawled across the bed toward Alex, who was grinning like crazy. “I’m going to get you, Alex…” his hand crawled forward quickly, then pulled back, then shot forward and tickled him and the baby went nuts laughing. Eric picked him up and lay on his back, “whooshing” him through the air, bringing him down for a kiss, whooshing again, over and over, then suddenly, instead of a kiss he blew raspberries on Alex’s belly and Alex and Sookie both cracked up.

“Oh, Mommy thinks that’s funny, Alex! Maybe Mommy needs some?”

Alex was cracking up as Eric put him on Sookie’s chest, then pulled down the covers and blew raspberries on her tummy. Sookie let out a small shriek and the baby was loving it, then Eric blew raspberries on his belly again and then pulled him back down for a kiss and held him on his chest and hugged him, still laughing.

“Funny Daddy, huh, Alex? Is Daddy being funny?”

“Pundy Dadee!” Alex pushed up against Eric’s chest so he could look him in the eye. Eric kissed him on the lips and stroked his back and the baby lay back down and rested his cheek on Eric’s chest.

“You two are so sweet together,” Sookie sighed.

“I need you both to just snuggle up next to me for a while,” Eric said a little sadly.

Sookie didn’t have to ask – she knew he found out who was following them and it wasn’t good news. He raised his arm and she snuggled up against his side, her hand on the baby’s back, and the three of them grew quiet and relaxed for a while as he hugged her tight to him. After a while, Eric bit his wrist and fed Sookie because she was dozing off. It was only about an hour until sunrise when Sookie fell asleep completely. After a little while, he sat up, and the baby said “ee, Dadee,” so he took the baby and one of the bottles into the nursery.

“This is your room, Alex. Did you know you have your own room?” Eric spoke to him softly, “This is your very own room and someday you’ll be sleeping in here, but not for a while. For now, Mommy needs to keep you close and I like keeping you close, too.” Eric sat in the glider and began to give Alex the bottle, the two of them looking into each other’s eyes and Eric continuing to talk to him about nothing in particular.

The baby finished the bottle and Eric hugged him up to his shoulder, patting his back until he burped. He pulled the baby back and looked him in the eye. “Are you full now, my son?”

Alex let out a huge yawn.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Eric laughed quietly, rocking him until he fell asleep then tucking him into the co-sleeper next to Sookie. She opened her eyes briefly saying “hey!” and he kissed her, telling her “I’ll see you at sunset, my Angel.” He wrote her a quick note and headed for his cache in the basement.

Sookie woke up feeling something crawling on her. “Alex – what are you doing?” she laughed.

“Nah nah, Mamee.”

“Don’t tell me “nah nah” – what are you doing?” she tickled him.

“Ee, Mamee,” he giggled.

“OK, eat. Bjorn are you here?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Don’t start that ma’am stuff this early in the morning. What time is it?” She got the baby settled at her breast.

“Almost 11.” 

“Has Alex been eating?”

“Yes, Alicia gave him a bottle at seven, nine and about 10 minutes ago.”

“Wow – and he’s hungry already?”

“I’ll be surprised if he eats much. I think he just wanted to wake you up. I think he likes doing that.”

“Cool. I like it when he wakes me up. I’m surprised I didn’t hear him earlier.”

“He didn’t have a chance to wake you. Alicia is trying to get you both back on schedule. She figured you’d sleep until about 1, but Alex had other ideas,” he laughed.

Sookie yawned, “Ahh-hhh. It’s nice to be wanted, though,” she laughed. “I think we’ll try to sleep some more when he gets done.”

“Nah seepy, Mamee,” Alex said, then returned to suckling.

Sookie and Bjorn both laughed.

“Hey, is there a party in here?” Bobbie came up the stairs.

“We’re just laughing at Alex,” Sookie said, “he’s giving me a hard time about being sleepy again.”

“Nah seepy, Mamee!” Alex repeated, then went back to feeding.

“See what I mean?” Sookie said, “He can be yawning and dozing off, and he’ll still say he’s not sleepy.”

“That’s kind of normal, though, isn’t it?” Bobbie asked.

“I don’t know – is that something kids do?”

“Ask Alicia to be sure, but I think that’s a normal thing for kids not to want to go to sleep. They’re afraid they’ll miss something.”

“That makes sense, I guess. I know when they’re older they never want to go to bed. I just didn’t know it started this early,” Sookie laughed. Alex released and moved as if he wanted to go to the other breast, so Sookie shifted him so he could reach it.

“He even knows when to switch sides, doesn’t he?” Bobbie marveled at Alex.

“Yeah, he seems to know he’s supposed to feed from both each time, and he even seems to know to do it the same amount on both sides.” Sookie let out another big yawn. “What’s the weather like today?”

“Sunny but cloudy. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” Bobbie told her.

“I think I want to go down to the pool for a bit.”

“Poo!” Alex said.

“Yeah, pool! Do you want to play in the water, Alex?”

“Omba, wada!”

“OK, throw me a robe and then see if you can find his plastic pants – you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, the cover he wore in the pool the other day. Does he need a fresh diaper?”

“Yeah, now that you mention it, he’s wet.”

“OK, you get into your suit, I’ll change the baby, then I’ll put my suit on and meet you guys down there. Here, you’ve got a note from Eric.”

“Thanks – hey do you happen to have any, um, edible massage oil?”

“Yeah, I’ve got some nice vanilla stuff. You want it?”

“Could you bring it back down so I can use it tonight?

“Sure, no problem. I’ll bring it back after I change.”

“Awesome. You want to swim, Bjorn?”

“I’d better not – not today.” Bjorn said, “I’ll be close by though, so we can all chat if you want. I can watch Alex, too.”V 

“It’s OK for us to go outside, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, you might as well. Vincent and his eletronics guy will be going all through the house and this way they won’t bother you. I think we’ve got enough guards on today to let us know if trouble is coming.”

“Vincent is the big dude from Fangtasia?” Sookie was looking at the note, which was about Vincent coming to the house.

“Yeah – we all call him Duncan MacLeod. I swear whoever wrote that show had to know him,” Bjorn laughed.

Bobbie brought the baby back and headed for her room. Sookie passed him over to Bjorn. “You’ll watch him while I get dressed, right?”

“Yep. Come on, buddy,”

“VBEE!” Alex threw his arm up as Bjorn took him from Sookie.

“Víg!”

Alex cracked up. Bjorn held him with both hands and tilted his head downward as he lifted him over his head. He lifted him up and down, making silly noises, and Alex loved it.

“Fyid, Borhd!”

“Yeah, this is almost like flying. I can’t fly like your Daddy though. Wait until you see how he can fly.”

“Eh, Dadee?” Alex looked around the room.

“Dadee is sleeping, remember?”

“Seepeen?” Alex was looking around and beginning to get upset – he was used to Eric being in a box in Mommy’s room. He wasn’t old enough to interpret the feeling of Daddy being in the basement. “DADEE!” He began to cry.

Sookie came out of the bathroom in her bathing suit. “What’s going on – you guys were having so much fun…”

“He asked about Eric and I told him he was sleeping then he looked around and started getting upset.”

“He’s used to Eric being in a box in the bedroom – he doesn’t remember this room, I’ll bet. Tell you what, Bjorn, meet me downstairs. I’m going to take him so he can see where Eric rests.

“DAHHHH-DEEEE!”

“Alex, Alex – listen – I’m going to take you to see Daddy, OK?”

“Oday,” he snuffled but he was still pouting and had pink tears streaming from his eyes.

“You want me to go with you?” Bjorn offered.

“No, I better go alone. I’m the only one who knows where it is and I don’t want to be the one to tell someone else without his permission.”

“OK, I’ll go downstairs.”

“Thanks, Bjorn.” She bounced the baby a little and tried to soothe him, “OK, darlin’ we’ll go see Daddy so you know where he is, OK?”

“Oday, Dadee.”

Sookie carried him to the service elevator and they took it to the basement. She stopped and listened to make sure no one was down there. When she was sure it was clear, she went into the back room and closed the door, then kicked the rug away from the lid to Eric’s cache. She was able to pop the latch with one hand and the door/lid raised itself, the light coming on automatically.

“Lookie, Alex, there’s Daddy.”

“Dadee?” The baby was chewing on his finger, looking down into the cache where Eric was laying wearing only a pair of jeans.

“Yeah, see. He’s in his safe place, OK?”

“Oday.”

“OK, Daddy is sleeping, so let’s you and me go play in the pool, OK?”

“Oday.”

Sookie pushed the door down, which was harder than letting it up, but she got it down to where she could step on it and it latched automatically. She put the rug back in place, wondering to herself why she always moved the rug when it was in a spot where it would just go up and down with the lid, but she realized it was a habit from Bill’s house so she didn’t want to dwell on that. They took the elevator to the first floor and they came around through the kitchen.

“Well, look who’s up! Good morning, Alex!” Alicia greeted him.

“Mo-na, Eesh!”

“Good morning, Master Alex!” Margaret beamed at him.

“Mo-na, Mahdwid.” He smiled and hid his face in Sookie’s neck, peeking out and gnawing on his finger.

“Oh, are you gonna be shy now?” Sookie teased him.

Alex giggled and sat up in Sookie’s arms and said “Ah!”

“That’s more like it,” Sookie teased him again and he giggled. “Tell Margaret and Alicia where you’re going?”

“POO! Wada!”

“Yeah, he’s going to go in the pool and play in the water,” Sookie interpreted for them.

“That’s just amazing that tiny thing can speak so well!” Margaret was just blown away by him.

“I’m glad it’s not freaking you guys out.” Sookie said a bit apologetically.

“Oh, no, Missus – he’s just a miracle. And what a doll! He looks more like Mr. Northman every day!”

“Ain’t that the truth!” Sookie laughed. “Acts just like him, too, and they’re just crazy about each other.”

“Any father would love such a special child, but Mr. Northman is especially grateful and I think it’s marvelous.”

“Thank you. I….”

“Poo, Mamee.” Alex wanted to get on with it.

“Alright, we’ll see you all in a bit,” Sookie laughed and took him out the door.

Bobbie had the video camera set up on the tripod, pointed at the pool. “Hey, Sookie – you guys get in, then I’ll get it focused on the area you’re in.”

“OK, here we go, Alex!” Sookie waded into the pool with him and he was waving his arms up and down, he was so excited. “OK, Alex, look at Bobbie and wave,” she waved his hand a little and he took it from there. Sookie sat down on the steps and helped him stand up between her legs. He was pumping his legs up and down and splashing the water, squealing with delight.

Bjorn cracked up, “that kid needs to cheer up, Sookie. He’s too somber. Hey, Alex – are you splashing Mommy?”

“’Pasheen, Mamee… Ah, Babee! Babee!” he was making his ‘come here’ motion.

“Bobbie, I think he wants you to come into the pool.”

“I’m not going in that pool, that Alex will splash me!”

Alex squealed, and made the motion again, saying “’Pasheen! Umma, Babee!”

“Alright, Alex, but you better not splash me.”

“Nah ‘pash, Babee.” He shook his head, trying to convince her he wasn’t going to splash her.

“You better not…” she teased him as she threw her terry cover on a chair and waded into the water next to them.

“Nah!” He shook his head and most of the rest of him, too. He waited until she sat down on the step next to them, then he motioned for her to come here, which she did and he kissed her cheek.

“Aw – Sweet Boy!” Bobbie said.

Alex pointed his finger into the water. “Wada.”

“Yeah, that’s water.”

Suddenly Alex was trying to splash her like crazy. She pretended to be complaining, but she and Sookie were cracking up.

“Listen you little sneak!” She tickled him and he went nuts. “You little sneak!”

“OO wido need!”

“You little sneak!”

“OO wido NEED!” He was beside himself, so proud that he tricked Bobbie.

“You know what I’m going to do, Alex?” Bobbie asked him, her face right up in his.

“Eh?”

“I’m going to SPLASH YOU!” and she pelted him with quick, gently splashes making him shriek with laughter, smacking both hands into the water at the same time.

“Hey, Bjorn, make sure the camera can see us,” Sookie said as she walked deeper into the pool with him.

Bjorn looked through the viewfinder, “You’re dead center.”

“Good because Alex is going to get wet – WHOO!” She bent her knees so he went down up to his chest then she stood right up. He made the face with the big eyes and his mouth wide open and squealed. “Uh-oh, Alex, here we go again. WHOO!”

He was wild with laughter, flailing his arms like crazy.

“OK, Alex, what do we say?”

“Oo-hoo!” he tried to make the sound and she dunked him again, provoking more squealing.

Sookie noticed that Margaret was standing outside the sliding door watching Alex as she set a glass and a plate on one of the picnic tables and Alicia was unfolding a play pen next to Bjorn, moving one of the table umbrellas so it covered the area inside. Sookie swished Alex around a few times and began to notice he was shivering. “Oops, I think he’s about ready to get out. He’s cold.” Sookie said, walking toward the side of the pool where Alicia was waiting with a towel.

“Hi, Baby E. Let’s take a little break, OK?” Alicia said, hugging him and rubbing his little arms through the towel.

“Oday!” he said breathlessly, giggling.

“How about you talk to Bjorn for a bit, OK?”

“Oday.”

Alicia gave him to Bjorn, and he talked to the baby, who was laughing, but not as wildly as before, and if he had teeth, they’d be chattering. After a minute, he let out a huge yawn, and Bjorn talked to him more quietly for a few minutes until Alex went to sleep, then he put him on his back in the play pen. Alicia brought out some of the teethers, rattles and his purple dragon, putting them in the playpen next to him.

“We’ll keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t overheat, Mrs. Northman, so you relax and enjoy the pool. If he gets too warm, we’ll take him into the den in front of the sliding door so you can see each other. And I want you to eat this BLT since you didn’t have breakfast and here’s a glass of sweet tea.”

“Thanks so much, Alicia,” Sookie said sincerely as Alicia set her sandwich and drink beside the pool and threw her an air mattress, then threw one to Bobbie.

Both the girls got up on their air mattresses, and Sookie said, “Wow, Bobbie, it feels like forever since we did this!’

“We did this a couple of days ago, didn’t we?”

“That wasn’t the same. It feels different out here than it does there.”

“That’s true.”

“I mean, neither feels bad, of course, but it feels more intimate or private or something here.” Sookie had paddled over to the side of the pool and had the plate with the sandwich on her tummy.

“Maybe just more familiar? You’ve spent a lot of time out here, and that was your first time at the other place.”

“True.”

“So, Bjorn, when are they sweeping the house for bugs?”

“They’re in there right now.”

“Which parts of the house are they checking?”

“Everything but the basement, since no one goes down there. They’ll check the phone lines and cell phones, too, and your car.”

“And you don’t think it’s the FOTS? Or another Vampire kingdom?”

“No, ma’am, we’re sure it’s not.”

“How serious is it?”

“Very.”

“Great.”

“We’ll handle it.”

“Yeah… yeah,” she said almost to herself.

“Sookie, any idea what we’re having for dinner?” Bobbie decided to distract her.

“No, I don’t have any idea. I never think to ask because anything Margaret fixes is really good. She’ll probably come out and ask us what we want in the next hour or two.”

“Yeah, that’s right – she usually has a couple of options. I wonder when you’ll hear from the decorator?”

“I don’t know but I can’t wait to see what she does with the place. I can’t wait to try out the giant bed!”

“The what?” Bjorn asked

“The giant bed. Eric and I are getting a new bed for the New Orleans house that’s 12 x 15.”

“Holy shit! Are you planning to entertain guests?” he teased her

“Well, if we ever wanted to, there would be plenty of room!” she laughed

“Maybe Brad and Angelina will come over for a play date,” Bobbie teased her.

“Oh my Goddess, can you imagine?” Sookie laughed

“I have – many times,” Bjorn laughed.

“Oh, really, Bjorn? And exactly what is it that you’ve imagined?”

“Every combination you can think of – you and Angie, you, Angie and Eric, All of you with Brad, you Angie and Bobbie…”

“I don’t hear your name in there,” Sookie teased

“Oh, I’m there sometimes, especially when it’s you three girls,” he laughed.

“What about you and Brad? Or you and Eric?” Sookie teased

“Brad’s not my type. I can’t see myself with a guy, honestly, but if I was going to, it would have to be a guy like Eric that I really respected, but don’t you EVER tell him I said that,” Bjorn laughed.

“So you’ve never done a three-way?” Sookie was in the mood to talk dirty, so what the hell.

“I didn’t say that – I just said I couldn’t see myself with a guy.”

“OK, so did you do it with 2 other girls or a guy and a girl.”

“A guy and a girl once, 2 girls several times, a few groups in different situations.”

“Oh, really? I don’t know those stories,” Bobbie joked.

“You’ll hear some of them eventually if you want to, but then you have to tell me some of YOUR stories,” he laughed.

“What makes you think I’ve got stories?” Bobbie batted her eyes, feigning innocence.

“Don’t even try it, Sweetheart. I KNOW you’ve got some stories.”

Sookie cracked up at that as she sat her plate on the cement and brushed the crumbs from her sandwich off her chest and tummy.

“You think that’s funny, huh?” Bobbie splashed her.

“Not funny, just… true!” she giggled, “Nothing wrong with that – I’ll probably have some stories some day.”

“You’ve got at least one story that I know of,” Bjorn said slyly.

“Does it count as a story if it’s just me and my husband?” Sookie asked, half-serious.

“What about Pam?”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot about that.”

“Wait, what? I don’t know this story – dish it up, kid!” Bobbie was all ears now.

“My first time in the basement at Fangtasia, Pam was there, too.”

“Watching or participating?”

“Participating – Eric watched most of the time, but he joined in at the end, then Pam left and it was just me and him.”

“Damn, Sookie – she’s hot!” Bobbie said with some admiration.

“Yeah, it was really fun. I got to do anything I wanted.”

“What – to Pam?” Bjorn asked. He was going to see how much he could get Sookie to tell.

“Yeah, she was tied up so she could feed from me, because I’m bleeding Faerie blood and it makes Vamps crazy, so she fed from me and then I just did whatever I wanted.”

“Was Eric giving you any ideas?”

“No, I didn’t need any ideas, I just tried everything I could think of, but he did show me how to keep her from squirming away from me.”

Bjorn was speechless and Bobbie was cracking up.

Alicia came out of the kitchen and asked if everyone was OK with catfish and fries for lunch, and everyone was, then she checked on the baby, who was sleeping soundly in the shade.

“What exactly is a catfish?” Bjorn asked.

“It’s a big fish with whiskers – they’re really good. It’s got a mild taste and nice white meat. You’ll like it,” Sookie told him, “everybody does. Even people who aren’t crazy about fish sometimes like catfish.”

“So there’s no actual cat involved?” Bjorn was half-kidding

“Nope, just a fish. She said fries, too, right? I wonder if Margaret will make hushpuppies?”

“What’s a hushpuppy? Bjorn asked

“It’s sort of a fritter – a little blob of cornmeal dough with chopped onions in it. You’ll probably like those, too. You’ve never heard of them, huh?”

“No – is it a Southern thing?”

“Yeah, it is,” Bobbie said.

“Is it? Doesn’t everybody eat catfish? I know they sell hushpuppies at those Long John Silver’s places, though homemade is much better.”

“I’ve seen those places but I’ve never eaten in one.” Bjorn said, “I don’t eat a lot of fried food.”

“Do you want me to ask Margaret to make you something else for lunch? I don’t want you to eat something that’s bad for you,” Sookie offered.

“No, one time won’t hurt me. I want to see what it tastes like. And I’ll work it off in the gym tonight.”

“Have you been using the gym?” Sookie asked.

“I did last night and I plan to every night that I can.”

“Do you have everything you need up there? We can order other stuff if you need it.”

“I was thinking about asking Eric about getting a Bowflex machine.”

“I’ve seen those on TV – are they good?”

“They’re affordable is the main thing. There’s better stuff available, but I figure I could afford the Bowflex if Eric would let me put it up there.”

“You wouldn’t have to buy it yourself – I’ll ask Eric to get it for you. I’m sure he’ll want stuff like that eventually anyway – it will last a long time, right?”

“Yeah, that kind of equipment lasts for years.”

“I’ll tell him you need more equipment and I know he’ll hook you up with whatever you need.”

“Ah, Mamee!” Alex was on all fours, looking through the side of the playpen.

“Hi, Pookie. Can you play in there for a while?”

“Omba,” he sat back on his haunches and managed to move into a sitting position, then quickly became focused on one of the rattles.

Alicia came back out. “Sookie – do we know for sure how many guests for dinner tonight?”

“Um – Niall and my doctor, and Octavia, then Bjorn and Bobbie, me and Eric. The baby will need his high chair in the dining room, I guess. Hey, where’s Octavia today?”

“She’s relaxing in her room. I told her I’d take a tray up to her for lunch at about 3 pm. With all the traveling we’ve been doing, she’s worn out, so she’s just taking a day off, but she’ll be down for dinner.”

“She’s not sick, I hope?”

“No, just tired. She said she was going to be lazy and enjoy that big TV in her room. I go up and check on her every once in a while.”

“Should I check on her since it’s my house?” Sookie asked.

“It wouldn’t hurt if you looked in on her and asked if she needs anything, but you don’t really have to. Maybe when you get out for lunch you can go up and say ‘hi’.”

“OK, I’ll do that. How long until lunch?”

“It’s just after 2 now – we’ll serve lunch at 3 and after we’ll move the playpen into the den so the baby can take his nap before dinner.” She walked over to the playpen and checked on the baby.

“Ah, Eesh!”

“Hi, Baby E. Are you having fun?”

He held the rattle up to show her and then shook it and stuck it in his mouth.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Alicia laughed.

“Hey, Alicia, let me have him for a while,” Sookie sat up on the mattress, straddling it like a horse. “We’ll float around for a while.”

“Alright, come on, Baby E,” Alicia picked him up, “You want to float with Mommy?”

“Omba, Mamee!”

She handed the baby down to Sookie, and she hugged him to her, his back against the front of the mattress. “Hey, Pookie. We’ll float for a while, OK?”

“Oday, Mamee,” he hugged her and laid his head on her shoulder as she floated and bounced them gently through the water. “Ah, Babee!” Alex pointed to Bobbie on her mattress.

“Hey, Alex! Are you floating with Mommy?”

“Fodeen?”

“Yeah, we’re floating, aren’t we, Pookie? Say “I’m floating with my Mommy,”

“Ahm fodeen wif ma Mamee, Babee.”

“Wow! Good job, Alex! You said that really well!” Bobbie was genuinely impressed. That was a big mouthful for a tiny baby.

“Hey, Alex,” Bjorn called to him, so Sookie turned the baby so he was facing away from her, leaning on the front of the mattress, looking at him. “What are you doing?” Bjorn wanted to see if they could get him to repeat the sentence.

“Ahm fodeen wif ma Mamee, Borhd,” he giggled, proud of himself because he knew he was being smart.

“Wow – are you having fun?”

“Omba! Poo!”

“You like floating in the pool?”

“Omba fodeen ina poo!”

“Alex – where’s Bobbie?” Bjorn was going to see if he could keep him talking.

Alex looked back behind them and pointed at Bobbie.

“Alex, say “there’s Bobbie.”” Sookie told him.

“Dares Babee.”

“Good. Where’s Bjorn?”

Alex pointed, “dares Borhd.”

“Where’s Alex?”

He pointed to his chest and said “dares Aweth.”

“Say, “I’m Alex.”

“Ahm Aweth.”

Sookie kissed him three times quickly. “You’re so smart! Mommy can’t believe how smart you are!”

“Ahm thmard!”

All of them laughed at that. “Yeah, you’re smart!” Sookie tickled him and he giggled.

Alicia and Margaret were putting lunch on the table.

“Dares Eesh, Mamee, dares Mahdwid.”

“Yeah, there’s Alicia AND Margaret.”

“Eesh an Mahdwid.”

“Right – that’s really good, Alex. We’re going to go eat lunch now, OK?”

“Oday.”

“Here, I’ll take him,” Bjorn bent down and took Alex from Sookie, wrapping him in the towel he used earlier. Alicia had his highchair outside so Bjorn put him there with a rattle as Sookie and Bobbie made their way out of the pool. Alicia brought Sookie a terry cover because the gardener’s men were coming out to eat, too, and Sookie offered to take Octavia’s lunch up to her so she could say hello and see if she needed anything.

Alex reached for Bjorn –”Borhd?”

“What’s up, buddy?”

“Eh Mamee?” He pointed to the house.

“You mean ‘where did Mommy go?'” Bjorn said it very clearly so Alex could copy him.

“Ware di Mamee do?”

“Mommy went up to see Octavia, but she’ll be right back, OK?” Alicia told him.

“Oday.” Alex was happy with that answer because he was proud of himself for saying what Bjorn told him. He turned his attention back to the round rattle/teether and chewed on it like he meant it.

Sookie came right back and Alicia already had a plate ready for her.

“Alicia, can I talk to you for a minute in there?”

“Sure,”

They stepped into the den and Sookie closed the door so the others couldn’t hear.

“This might sound a little weird, but I need a couple of big flat sheets or maybe a flat flannel sheet or thin quilt – something I can throw over the bed and keep from getting massage oil or whatever on it… You know what I mean?”

Alicia smiled, “yes, I have an idea what you mean. Do you need it tonight?”

“Is that possible?”

“I should be able to find something suitable for you here in the house. I’ll leave it on your bed for you.”

“Thanks.” OK, that felt weird but Sookie was proud of herself for getting through it without dying of embarrassment. She knew Alicia knew she wanted this for sex, but she just wasn’t going to think about that.

She went back out and kissed Alex as she sat down and began to eat. Bjorn turned out to love catfish, especially once he pulled the breading off. Sookie was just finishing up when Alex said, “ee, Mamee.”

“OK, Pookie, tell you what – let’s go into the den so I can lean back while you eat, OK?”

“Oday,” he said, though he didn’t know what she meant. He just knew he was going to get to eat, and that made him happy.

Sookie took him into the den and turned on the TV. She sat back in the recliner and opened the terry wrap so she could feed him and he suckled happily while she dozed off. Alicia kept a close eye on them in case Alex decided to move around and she helped him move when he wanted to go to the other breast. Sookie was sleeping soundly, and when Alex was done eating he just laid his head on her chest and he went to sleep, too. Alicia just moved the sides of the terry wrap to cover Sookie’s breasts and left the two of them to nap together.

When Bjorn was done eating he went into the den and sat on the couch, knowing Eric wanted him to stay close to Sookie and the baby. Bobbie went into the kitchen to chat with Margaret and Alicia and after a bit Octavia carried her tray down and sat in the kitchen with them drinking iced tea and talking about dinner later that night. They all ooh’d and ahh’d over the lobsters that were delivered for Margaret to fix for dinner and her helper Carrie came in to help her prepare, though Alicia was going to stay to help, because she knew these were unusual visitors. Now that she was comfortable with the Northmans, Alicia was fascinated with the idea of “Supes” and was wide open to learning what was out in the world that most people didn’t know about.

It was 6 o’clock before anyone knew it and Eric came into the kitchen.

“Hello, ladies.”

“Mr. Northman – we were gabbing and had no idea it was time for you yet,” Alicia laughed.

“Where are Sookie and the baby?”

“Sleeping in the den – I just checked on them a few minutes ago.”

“Alright, I’ll go see if they’re still sleeping,” Eric said as he headed into the den. He found Sookie sleeping soundly, but Alex opened his eyes as he came into the room and whispered, “Dadee!” Eric gently picked him up, letting Sookie continue to sleep as he took the baby back into the kitchen, nodding to Bjorn, who was still on the couch, reading a book as he watched over Sookie.

Alex rubbed his eyes as Eric snuggled him and kissed his forehead.

“He’s awake!” Margaret was surprised the baby was with Eric when he came back.

“Yes, his eyes were open and he whispered to me, so I thought we’d come away and let Mommy continue to sleep as long as she can.”

“Would you like an RM, Mr. Northman?” Margaret offered

“Yes, actually, I would.”

“Ee, Dadee.” Alex said quietly as he rested his head against Eric’s chest.

“I think Alex would like one, too,” Eric laughed as he took his usual seat at the table. “Has Sookie been sleeping long?”

“Since about 4:30,” Alicia told him, “she got up a bit early today and they played in the pool for quite a while, then after they ate she came in to feed the baby and they both went to sleep.”

“Did Alex get enough to eat?”

“Yes, I’m sure he did because he continued even after Sookie was asleep.”

“Alright, and we are having guests at 8 o’clock, so let’s let her sleep until 7. That should give her plenty of time to shower and dress for company,” Eric said, thinking aloud.

“Poo, Dadee.”

“Pool? Did you play in the pool today, my son?”

“Omba, fodeen ina poo wif Mamee.”

“He was floating in the pool with Mommy,” Bobbie interpreted for him.

Eric laughed and the baby said “ooh-hoo!”

‘That means Mommy dunked him. We got video of that so you’ll be able to see the expression on his face. It’s the cutest thing in the world.” Bobbie bragged on him.

“How long was he out there?” Eric asked as Margaret delivered both his and Alex’s RMs

“Maybe a total of an hour. He was in about half an hour, then he took a nap in his playpen, then when he woke up Sookie floated around with him and he was talking for us for about half an hour, then we had lunch.”

“He enjoys the water, then.”

“Omba, Dadee, wada!” Alex said as he put the bottle in his mouth.

“Maybe we’ll play in the pool some night, then. Would you like to play in the pool with Daddy, Alex?”

“Omba, Dadee ina poo!”

Everybody cracked up at that.

“Hey, what’s going on in there?” Sookie called from the other room.

Eric was up like a shot, heading into the den to see her. “Did we wake you, my Angel?” He bent to kiss her, then held the baby down to give her a kiss, too. Bjorn headed into the kitchen so they could talk.

“I think I was sort of awake and then I heard y’all laughing. What’s going on?”

“We were just chatting until it was time to wake you to get ready for our guests.”

“Oh, yeah – do I have time to take a shower?”

“Plenty of time. In fact, if we didn’t dawdle we could probably squeeze in a family bath.”

“Yeah, let’s do that. I need a glass of tea, first, though.”

Eric helped her stand once she pulled the recliner upright and guided her back into the kitchen, his free arm around her. Alex was leaning on his shoulder, still not quite awake himself, still holding his bottle of blood.

“Hey, everybody – sorry I conked out on you all,’ Sookie apologized as they entered the kitchen.

“Nonsense, Sookie – the whole idea is for you to rest up for a while so you’ll be ready for all your activities this fall and winter,” Eric reminded her.

“Yeah, I guess. Margaret, can I get a glass of iced tea?”

“Of course, Missus,” Margaret got a glass out of the cupboard and poured her a glass from one of the pitchers on the counter. Sookie took a huge drink, took a breath, then finished the glass in one draw, then let Margaret refill it.

As Sookie drank her second glass, Eric told Alicia that they were going to bathe and that Sookie would need her help dressing in about 45 minutes, then they headed upstairs. Sookie was moving a little slow, but Eric took charge of running the bath and getting Alex’s diaper off and cleaning him up so he could get into the bath.

Sookie managed to struggle out of her suit, and Eric held her hand to steady her as she climbed into the tub, then he and the baby climbed in behind her. Eric brought the baby around and sat him on Sookie’s leg and he was fascinated with the running water. He reached out and stuck his finger in it, pulled it back, did it again, then stuck his whole hand in it, making his happy sound.

“What is that, Alex?” Sookie asked him

“Wada, Mamee.”

“Do you like the water, Pookie?”

“Omba, wada. Dadee –wada!” He was looking back at Eric and pointing to the water, wanting to show Dadee the running water.

“Yes, my son, that is water – running water. Where are you, Alex?”

“Ina poo?”

“No, Sweetie, the pool is outside. This is the bathtub,” Sookie told him.

“Nah poo?”

“Not pool, this is the bathtub.”

“Bafdub?”

“Right, bathtub! We’re taking a bath.”

“Baf!”

“Yeah, a bath – it’s like a shower, but sitting down.”

“Sthowa?”

“Yeah, see, we’re going to wash with soap,” she took the soap and washed him with it, “washing, see? Eric, do my hair so we can show him.”

“Of course, Dear One,” he kissed her hair as he reached for the hand-held shower. The baby was fascinated as he sprayed Sookie’s hair, wetting it thoroughly then squeezed some shampoo in his hand and showed it to Alex. “Shampoo, Alex. We use shampoo to wash our hair.” He soaped Sookie’s hair up, massaging her scalp. She closed her eyes and focused on how good it felt, the baby in her arms fascinated watching Dadee wash Mamee’s hair.

“Wathing Mamee?”

“Yes, I’m washing Mommy’s hair.”

Alex reached up to his own head and felt his hair. “Yeah, Alex,” Sookie said, “that’s your hair. I’m going to wash your hair next.”

“Nah, Dadee wath.”

“You want Daddy to wash your hair?”

“Omba, Dadee.”

“OK, Daddy can wash it.”

“Oday, Dadee wath it.”

Eric rinsed Sookie’s hair with conditioner, and when it was clean he twisted it up and clipped it so he could wash her back later. When he was done he asked, “Are you ready to have your hair washed, Alex?”

“Omba,” and he patted his head as he’d seen Eric do to Sookie. Eric turned the flow on the shower down a little and Sookie held the baby closer to her so it was easy for Eric to reach him. Alex closed his eyes as Eric wet his hair then held really still as Eric put baby shampoo in it and gently rubbed it in and rinsed it.

“OK, all done, Alex.” Eric put the hand-held back and then washed Sookie’s back, arms, and the rest of her as she shifted as necessary so he could reach everywhere. When he was done, he took the baby and let Sookie move behind him. When she wet Eric’s hair the baby said “Mamee wath Dadee!”

“Yes, my son, Mommy is washing Daddy’s hair.”

“Wathing Dadee’th air.”

“Right.”

Sookie finished quickly and then washed Eric’s back, arms and chest as the baby watched, then she washed the rest of him as Eric held him up so she could move around and reach him. When she was done, Eric started the tub draining, then took the hand-held and put it on a wide, gentle spray then held it upward to create a gentle shower over all of them. Alex made his happy sound and Eric and Sookie laughed. “Doesn’t that feel good, Pookie?”

“Omba, sthowa!” Alex giggled, loving the gentle rain-like effect. Eric got out of the tub first, wrapping a towel around his waist, then he took the baby and helped Sookie out. She wrapped a towel around her, then Eric combed out her hair, still holding the baby, and he knelt down so she could comb his, then she gently combed Alex’s hair. “I’m combing your pretty hair, Pookie!”

“Ma air!”

“Yeah, your hair!”

“I’ll diaper him, my Angel, so you can get ready for Alicia to help you dress.” Eric bent to kiss her then took the baby into the nursery as Sookie put on her pink robe.

Alicia came up and began to dry Sookie’s hair, while they were gone. Eric diapered Alex and looked through his clothes, choosing a black romper that said “too cute for words” on it and putting it on him. “Do you know what this says, Alex? It says “too cute for words.” I’m guessing your Mommy bought that for you, but I agree so you can wear it to show your great great grandfather, OK?”

“Oday!”

“You’re going to be a good boy for our company, yes?”

The baby just blinked at him.

“Well, we’ll just hope for the best in that respect,” Eric laughed and held him above his head, making him giggle, then brought him down for a kiss and a tickle. Eric picked up a little brush in one of the storage cubbies and gently ran it through Alex’s hair. “You want to be beautiful for our company, OK?”

“Oday!”

“Good, let’s go see how Mommy is doing.”

“Ware di Mamee do?”

Eric was shocked to hear him say a full sentence. “Mommy is in our bedroom, see?” He took him into the room where Sookie was being styled and made up by Alicia.

“There she is, Alex! Mommy is getting her hair and makeup done,” he pointed to Sookie as they entered the room. Alicia was using the dryer on Sookie’s hair and Alex said “wathing Mamee’th air?”

“No, now she is drying Mommy’s hair.”

“Dwyeen Mamee’th air?”

“That’s right, ” Eric said as he laid the baby on the bed, “now you wait here while Daddy gets dressed, OK?”

“Oday.”

Eric took the outfit Sookie laid out for him into the bathroom and dressed quickly, coming back out to find Alex crawling toward the end of the bed. “Where are you going, my son?”

“Dadee baf!”

“Yes, Daddy was in the bathroom, but now I am back.” He picked him up and kissed him on each cheek. “Sookie, should we wait for you or go on down?”

“You two can go downstairs if you want – I’ll be a few more minutes and you might want to show him the living room and dining room since he’s never really been in there.”

“That’s a very good idea. He is going to be around unfamiliar people in an unfamiliar space. Might as well minimize that as much as possible.”

Eric took the baby and flew down the stairs, Alex making his happy sound as they went. “Fyid, Dadee!”

“Yes, that was flying. You and I will go flying together soon, alright?”

“Omba! Fyid!”

Eric held him parallel to the floor and took him around the whole living room, making him giggle wildly, feeling like he was flying. He made two more turns around the room, then he held him up and took him into the dining room.

“This is the dining room, Alex. We are having company tonight and we will all eat in here together. See? Here’s your high chair from the kitchen. You will sit here and I will sit here and Mommy will be over there beside you. Your great, great grandfather and your doctor will sit there and Octavia and Bobbie and Bjorn will be there, and we’ll all have a pleasant dinner, then the doctor is going to look you over and see if you are healthy, OK?”

“Oday.”

“Hey, you guys, what’s up?” Bobbie came in carrying a large box that contained gold tableware and began to set the table.

“I was just letting Alex see the room and trying to tell him what we are doing. I hope he can handle an evening such as this.”

“He’ll be fine, I’m sure. He’s usually well behaved.”

“True, but he’s rarely around anyone but us.”

“Honestly, I wonder how he’ll react to Niall, but other than that, I think it will be an uneventful evening.”

“Why do you anticipate problems with Niall?”

“It’s just a feeling I have – probably nothing.”

“There’s more to it than that – tell me.”

“Well, he’s very much a Vampire, and I don’t see a lot of Fae influence in him at all. I think Niall knows all about the 2 problem, whatever it is, and I think Alex will know that.” Bobbie continued to set the table as they talked.

“Well, I will tell you this much – I know that Niall knows what the 2 problem is because I could hear it in his voice and whatever it is, Alex is as likely to connect Niall to it as he was to exhibit the problem in the first place, so you may be right. Alex knows things he couldn’t logically know – though in this case, it is nearly logical that he will know what Niall’s involvement is.”

“Right. Well – just be prepared when he gets close to Niall.”

“Eric, is there anything I can do to help?” Bjorn looked into the dining room.

“Now that you mention it, Bjorn, did we bring the blocks with the numbers that Alex used in New Orleans?”

“Yeah, I think they’re in the trunk of the car, actually – I’ll go see if I can find them.”

“Alright, Bobbie, I’ll let you finish your work. Thank you for telling me about your intuitions.”

Eric and Alex went into the living room where Octavia was sitting on the couch with a cup of hot tea, and Eric sat in the large rose chair next to it.

“Good evening, Octavia – thank you for joining us tonight. I know Sookie will feel better having you here.”

“Oh, I’m always available for a nice dinner,” she joked. “I want to see how their tests of the baby turn out. I got a feeling we don’t know the half of what he can do yet.”

“I could easily believe that. He is growing so quickly and learning so much every day, I can’t keep up with it just being gone during the daylight.”

Bobbie came in and joined them. “Hey, Alex!” she tickled him as Eric held him and started to sit down.

“Babee!” He made his “come here” gesture, so she went back over and said, “whatcha need, buddy?”

“Do-ee?”

“You want your dragon?”

“Omba, dwadon.”

“Say please, Alex,” Eric instructed him.

“Pweez?”

“Say, Bobbie, I’d like my dragon, please.”

“Babee, ahd wyd my dwadon, pweez.”

“Sure, Sweetie, I’ll get it for you.”

Eric kissed him on the head, “that was very good, my son. Very polite.”

Octavia laughed to herself and shook her head at that smart little thing being able to say that.

Sookie came downstairs in a pretty blue sundress, and made a beeline to the baby.

“Hi, Pookie!” she kissed him as Eric held him.

“Ah, Mamee!” Alex gave her a huge toothless smile and patted her cheek with both hands,

Bobbie came right back in with the purple dragon, which had been in the playpen that was now in the den. “Here you go, Alex.”

Alex made his happy sound and hugged the dragon to him.

“Alex, say “thank you, Bobbie,”” Eric said softly to him.

“Day-oo, Babee.”

“You’re very welcome, darlin’.”

“That’s a good boy, Alex.” Eric kissed him on the head again.

Bjorn came through the kitchen with the blocks as the doorbell rang. Margaret ran to the door, and Sookie braced herself as Eric stood up beside her. Sookie suddenly had a feeling she was going to find out some things she didn’t want to know.

“Dr. Ludwig and Mr. Brigant,” Margaret introduced them and went back to the kitchen.

Eric took the lead, “Dr. Ludwig, Niall, welcome. Can we get you something to drink?”

“No, we can wait until dinner,” Niall responded, “You have other guests?”

“Oh, no, let me make the introductions – this is Octavia, a close friend of the family, and I think you both know Bobbie, Sookie’s masseuse, and this is Bjorn, Sookie’s bodyguard. They’ll be joining us for dinner.”

“Lovely to meet you all or to see you again, as the case may be,” Niall nodded and looked around the room. Dr. Ludwig said, “Hello, everyone, nice to see you all in good health. Northman, can that possibly be the baby I just delivered?”

“Yes, Dr., this is he – he has changed, has he not? Alex, say ‘hi.'”

“Ah!” Alex said and waved to the doctor. Niall approached him and suddenly Alex dropped his fangs and hissed.

“Alex!” Sookie couldn’t believe he did that.

“That’s quite alright, my dear – I expected as much. He’s very much the little Vampire. That must please you, Northman?”

“Very much, indeed.” Eric said smugly, knowing that this was NOT a part of the plan. Niall had intended for this child to be Fae, but he had very little Fae about him except for the Witchy parts.

“But I want him to be sweet to you!” Sookie hugged Niall and kissed him on the cheek as Alex yelled “nah nah, Mamee!” and a light flashed between Sookie and Niall. No one was hurt this time, but everyone was surprised.

Doctor Ludwig was cracking up, “well, I guess we know who zapped Felipe de Castro. Niall, it’s a good thing you listened to me and protected yourself. I had a feeling he wouldn’t like you getting close to Sookie.”

“But that’s terrible!” Sookie was really upset about it.

“Not to worry, my dear, it could have been worse – at least I wasn’t attacked by the falcon. We took precautions against that, too,” Niall laughed.

“What kind of precautions?” Sookie asked.

“I warned Freyja that we were coming for a visit, so She gave me a little shield that will last until sunrise. Not to worry, though – if he were threatened by anyone else, rest assured that the falcon would heed his call.”

“So the falcon is Freyja?”

“It emanates from Her, yes. It’s one of his gifts. You could probably call it, too, if you tried, Sookie, but Alex has always known the falcon and can already control it.”

“So this is a good thing?”

“How many times has the falcon saved your life, Sookie? My sources say 3.”

“Yes, I guess it was – there was Felipe, then two FOTS at Merlotte’s and then Sabrina.”

“She’s just waiting for you to call on Her, Sookie. When you’ve worked through your ambivalence, and call on her with pure intent so She knows you mean it, you’ll manifest your full power. In the mean time, the child is watching out for you.”

Alicia opened the doors to the dining room, signaling that dinner was served. They all went into the dining room, where dinner was already waiting for them. Eric took his place at the head of the table, and Dr. Ludwig was seated at the opposite end. Eric put Alex in his seat between him and Sookie, and Octavia sat to Sookie’s right. Niall sat across from Sookie and Bobbie and Bjorn sat to his left.

Everyone except Eric and Alex had a lobster on their plate, along with a baked potato and a dish of green beans almondine. Eric had a goblet of RM, Alex had a small bottle of the same and some Cheerios on his tray, along with his dragon. Everyone ate as they talked and actually had pleasant conversation.

“What do you normally call the child?” Niall asked, studying the baby carefully.

“Alex, usually, or Eric Alexander. Mostly Alex, though,” Sookie told him.

“Alex – what is that?” Niall pointed at the dragon.

“Do-ee.”

“Toy,” Eric translated.

“Ah. What kind of toy, Alex?”

“Ma dwadon” Alex told him as he gnawed on a Cheerio.

“My dragon,” Eric laughed

“Alex, what are you eating?” Niall asked

“Dee-ohs.” Alex said as he put another one in his mouth.

Eric looked to Sookie, who said, “Cheerios. It’s a breakfast cereal.

“He eats solid food?” Niall was surprised.

“Not really,” Sookie explained, “These are for teething babies – we think his teeth are starting to come in.”

“Has he had other food?” The doctor asked

“He’s had cheesecake, and a taste of Shrimp Étouffée by accident, and Cheerios – it’s not an all the time thing,” Sookie explained.

“You might want to try a bit of apple sauce for him, or other baby foods that are soft enough to swallow without chewing, in addition to breast feeding and RMs. Is he still feeding well?”

“Yes, he is – he even pops out of his crib when he wants to eat.”

“Teleporting, you mean?” asked the Doctor.

“Yeah, I guess that’s what it’s called. Isn’t that dangerous? What am I supposed to do with a baby that won’t stay in his crib when I put him down? I’m afraid he’s going to get hurt.”

“Doctor did you bring them?” Niall asked.

“Yes, I did. Here, pass these down to Sookie, please, but keep them on this side of her.” She handed a small manila envelope to Octavia. “These are Faerie crosses, Sookie. They’re not to be used all the time, or any time other than when he’s supposed to be asleep and there’s no one awake to watch him. Otherwise, keep them in a box full of salt where he can’t get to them. Use only one at a time, but there are several there so you can keep at least one in each house. I don’t recommend you carrying them – they can affect you, too.”

Sookie poured the stones on the tablecloth and looked at them. “Are these carvings?”

“No, they’re a naturally-occurring crystal, called staurolite. that just happens to form a cross. There are stories about the Fairies hearing of the death of Jesus and crying tears that formed crosses, but that isn’t the origin of the name. Crosses stop energy – they hold it static. Faerie crosses can dampen the power of a Fae. That’s why you don’t carry them, it’s why you keep them locked away, and it’s why you only use them when you must to keep the baby safe. Remember that sometimes being able to teleport might save his life so you don’t want to interfere with it unless you must. A few hours a night shouldn’t hurt, as long as they don’t touch him. I’d hang it in a leather pouch at the foot of his bed when you decide to use it.”

“Are they that dangerous?”

“We aren’t sure how they’ll affect that baby. I’m pretty sure it will stop him from teleporting, but I can’t say whether they’d have lasting effects, especially while he’s growing. You don’t want to take a chance on him swallowing them, either.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want that with anything this size, though, right?”

“Right, but these could be toxic. I’m not sure of that, but let’s not test that theory, OK?”

“Oday!” Alex said, which made everyone, even Niall, laugh and he giggled knowing he was the center of attention. He was swinging his leg up and down, munching cereal and hugging his dragon as the conversation continued.

“You have other help with him in that respect, too, Sookie, you just haven’t seen it yet,” Niall told her. “That started the night of the parade, but they weren’t needed.

“Shouldn’t I know what it is?”

“He has a couple of Pixies watching out for him. Most of the time they’re invisible, though you might be able to see a little light or two floating around him when they’re active. They watch out for him the way Claudine watches out for you, but they’re around a lot more because he’s so small.”

“So they’ll only be visible if they’re actually helping him in some way?”

“Yes.”

“Do I need to thank them or feed them or anything?”

“They’re being well-compensated, my dear, do not worry about that, though a small saucer of milk in his nursery or wherever he sleeps now and then would be appreciated, I’m sure, just as an occasional treat.”

“Oh, OK, we’ll do that for them. Can Alex see them?”

“Yes, he can. He can see most spirit beings – at this stage, any baby could – but of course, Alex will retain the ability as he grows. He’ll need to learn to distinguish between them and corporeal beings and you’ll have to teach him not to acknowledge them in front of unenlightened humans.”

“What are their names?”

“Eddy and Freddy.”

“You’re kidding?”

“No, those are their names. They’re twins.”

“What do I do if Alex learns how to fly? What if he flies up on the roof?”

“Didn’t Freyja teach you to call things to you?” Niall was surprised she didn’t know what to do for this.

“Yeah – wait, can I do that with the baby?”

“Yes, of course. That’s the main purpose of it.”

“Does he have to let me call him, though? Freyja said sometimes people won’t want my help.”

“That only applies to others. Alex is your baby, so your wishes are paramount. They have to be so you can keep him safe. You could call him to you even if you couldn’t see him or didn’t know where he was. You should practice that so you both know how it feels.”

“Put these on the baby’s tray – one at a time – and see if he reacts to them.” The doctor passed a silver chain and a piece of iron shaped like a cross through Octavia to Sookie. Sookie put the iron piece on his tray and the baby looked at it, picked it up and stuck it in his mouth, but Sookie pulled it away quickly.

“No, no, Sweetie, don’t put that in your mouth.”

The little doctor laughed, “I think we can safely say he’s got no aversion to iron. Try that silver chain.”

Sookie put the silver chain on his tray as Eric reflexively moved back from it. Alex looked at it, picked it up and played with it, then wrapped it around his dragon’s neck.

“It’s not burning him!” Eric was amazed.

“Sookie, wrap it around his arm just for a minute,” the doctor suggested.

“Oh… OK,” she wrapped the chain around Alex’s wrist and all he did was watch her.

“No effect. I’m amazed,” Niall said, “He appears to be a Vampire with no Vampire weaknesses. He has been in the sun, yes?”

“Yeah, he was outside today,” Sookie said as she passed the chain back to the doctor.

Eric felt like showing off a little. “Alex, what did you do today?”

“Fodeen ina poo wif ma Mamee.”

“He was floating in the pool with his Mommy,” Eric translated.

“‘Pasheen Babee!”

“He was splashing Bobbie,” Sookie explained.

“Dadee wath ma air.” He rubbed his little head with both hands.

“Daddy washed my hair,” Sookie translated.

Alex was enjoying the attention so he stretched out the dragon’s wing toward Niall and said, “weens por FYID!”

“Wings for flying,” Eric said proudly.

“Dadee FY!”

“Yeah, Daddy can fly, can’t he, Pookie?” Sookie was beaming at him.

Niall leaned forward and looked the baby right in the eye. “You’re a very smart boy, Alex. Very smart, indeed. A lot of people are going to be very pleased with you if you stay so smart and grow up to be big and strong and clever like your Daddy. Don’t you agree, doctor?”

“Yes, he’s certainly already exceeded expectations in some quarters. Now, what’s this about the number 2?”

“I’ll get the blocks,” Bjorn said. Alicia helped Margaret clear the dinner dishes away and told everyone there was still desert if they wanted it. Everyone agreed that cake and ice cream would be nice, so Margaret went to cut cake and scoop ice cream while Sookie took the baby from the highchair and Bjorn set the blocks in front of her. Sookie pulled them apart, asking him, “Do you remember this, Pookie?”

The baby reached for the 3, 4 and 5 blocks and lined them up – “fee, fo, fie.”

Niall and the doctor both sat forward, transfixed. Sookie put the blocks in 1 through 5 order and Alex pushed the two off the table. Eric picked it up and started to put it back in place, but Alex said, “nah, nah, Dadee!” and put his hand in the way. Niall and Ludwig were very intent now. Eric moved the baby’s hand and put the block in place, saying “leave it,” when Alex reached for it.

Sookie said, “Alex, show me 3?” and he did, then she called out 1, 5, 3, 4, 1, 5, and he correctly identified them all but when she said 2 he put his hand over he mouth and said, “nah, nah, Mamee.”

Ludwig and Niall looked at each other, and while Sookie was saying, “we have no idea why he won’t say two,” Alex reached the block, picked it up, said “uh-oh” and threw it at Niall, but Eric caught it before it hit him.

“Alex – no!” Eric said, “I’m sorry, Niall – that’s not about you, it’s about 2, whatever that means to him.”

Niall was a bit shaken because that baby obviously knew… something. He looked to doctor Ludwig.

“Why don’t we all relax and have some dessert,” the doctor suggested as Margaret rolled a tray of cake and ice cream into the room. She served everyone around the table, giving Eric a small bowl to feed Alex. Eric took Alex and held him on his lap to feed him, and Alex made the cutest surprised face when he tasted cake and ice cream for the first time. Everybody ohh’d and aah’d over him, saying how sweet he was, though Niall was trying to figure out how Alex knew about the second and what he could possibly know.

They were being subtle about it, but Bobbie and Octavia were both watching Niall closely. He was obviously hiding something and he was studying Alex very closely. There was light conversation going on around the table, mostly talk of changes Eric had planned for the grounds in the Shreveport estate and the decorations in the New Orleans house and how good the cake was when Ludwig nodded to Niall and Naill spoke to Eric.

“Northman, if you have a few minutes, I have some Council business I’d like to discuss with you privately.”

“Alright, then, we can step into Sookie’s office. Sookie, we’ll be back in a few minutes, so talk to the doctor – you had some questions for her, did you not?”

“Oh, yeah, I did – I mean, I do.”

Eric led Niall into the downstairs office and Sookie kept the conversation going, asking about what exercises she should be doing and whether there were herbs or vitamins she could take to be sure she was producing enough milk.

Eric closed the door behind them as they entered the room, and he said, “I know this is not about the Council, so just get to the point.”

“Patience, Vampire, I’m going to explain. First, you need to know that the doctor and I agree that Sookie must know none of this, for her own well-being.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, we are afraid she would be damaged, mentally and emotionally, if she knows what I am about to tell you.”

“Alright, let’s hear it.”

“The magick that created your child was not entirely successful. Because we had planned to put you in charge of two kingdoms, we had planned… ” he stopped.

“Yes?”

“There were supposed to be two children, so that they could each take one kingdom when they grew up. We knew you were not ambitious and that you’d be happy to relinquish control when they were ready.”

“Alright, so there should have been two, but only one was created. What’s the problem?”

“No, two were created. One of them… was not able to cross over. He is trapped in our world, the world of the Fae, and might never be able to leave it.”

“What?”

“Your child has a Fae twin – pure Fae, but with your and Sookie’s genetic material. Your child will be aware of him as he grows up, and may be already, from what I just saw. The other will never be able to rule a kingdom in this world, but he might challenge your son’s inheritance of my seat on the council if he finds out who he is.”

“He is in Faery? Who is raising him?”

“I’ve fostered him to a family who does not know his origins, only that he is not able to leave our realm. I will keep watch over him as he grows and see that he has what he needs.”

“They are identical in every way?” Eric couldn’t wrap his mind around the idea.

“No, they are not. They are identical genetically, but your child has had the advantage of being in Sookie’s womb, and her feeding from you. He is far more advanced than the Fae baby. The Fae child is unremarkable in size and development – he looks like any other Faerie baby of comparable age. The Fae child is sensitive to iron, silver and sunlight. They do look alike, though, and would recognize each other immediately if they ever met, though we suspect he will be much smaller than Alex.”

“Who bore the Fae child?”

“Well, this will seem odd to you, but he was born of an egg – a part of the magick. He has no true parent, only your genetic donation.”

“Is there any chance of Sookie finding out about this on her own?”

“Only if Freyja tells her in a dream or in person. Only She, Ludwig and I know of the other child.”

“She might already have tried.”

“That would not surprise me. Freyja is not happy with the situation – She is not happy with me. That is one of the reasons we think you should not tell Sookie about the twin. If she knew that she had another child that she could never see, could not raise, or care for…”

Eric understood immediately. “You’re afraid it will drive her mad.”

“Yes, and Freyja would be furious if She thought Sookie was suffering that way.”

“Yes, she would suffer, wouldn’t she?” Eric said to himself. “What is the child’s name?”

“Eric Auberon Brigant. I thought I could at least give him that.”

“You gave him my name…”‘

“Freyja insisted on the first and middle names, but She relented in giving him your last name. With my surname, he will inherit certain wealth and position in our world that he could not otherwise.”

“Is there any way you can assure Alex’s place on the Council?” ‘Might as well be practical about the situation,’ Eric thought.

“I’m trying to do that now. I might be able to see that it passes directly to him, with you in his stead if he inherits before he is grown.”

“Not to Sookie?”

“Sookie is under consideration for eventual elevation to the Living Pantheon. That would be very far in the future, of course, but they feel the Council would be a distraction from that goal.”

“What if she doesn’t want it?”

“There is no such thing as ‘want’ at these levels. There is destiny, and there is blessing or cursing, but there is very little choice in any of it from this point forward. Each of us has a destiny we must fulfill. Sookie is chosen. When her powers are sufficiently developed, Freyja will see to her ascension. The Council is all politics, at which you excel. The Pantheon is about magick, and Sookie will fit in there nicely when she accepts herself for what she is. Your job is to help her get there.” He became very serious now. “Our Lady did all of this for you, Viking. Endeavor to deserve it.” Niall left the office without another word.

Eric’s head was spinning. Another child! Another son! He had promised to tell Sookie everything about this when he knew – but how could he? Niall was right, this would eat at Sookie, and there was nothing they could do to change it. He wasn’t even sure he could live with the knowledge of it – he almost wished Niall had never told him. Every time he looked at Alex, he would think of the other child, a child with no parents, his son that he would probably never see… FUCK! Fucking Fae magick – always a problem, a trick, an unintended consequence or some karmic kick in the ass.

On one hand, he could spare Sookie this pain. On the other hand, if Freyja was trying to tell her… if Freyja succeeded and she found out Eric knew, she would feel betrayed and he swore he would never do that to her. There was no good solution to this so he decided to think about it later – he needed to get back out there.

Everybody was laughing and applauding Alex because he was catching and throwing a little green Nerf ball that Niall gave him back and forth with Bjorn. Eric went back to his seat, and Alex said, “ba, Dadee!” and held it up so he could see it.

“Ball? Where did you get a ball, Alex?” Eric asked, trying to sound happy.

The baby pointed at Niall.

“Alex – say “Papaw gave it to me,” Sookie said, proud that Niall had given him a toy.

“Papaw dave id do me.”

“Good Alex – where’s Papaw?” Sookie asked him

“Papaw,” he said and pointed at Niall.

“And where’s the Doctor?” she asked

“Dodor,” he pointed to Ludwig.

“Who’s that, Sweetie?”

“Borhd.”

“And who’s that?”

“Babee!” he laughed and giggled because he loved Bobbie – she always tickled him and he liked it.

“Alex, who is this?”

“Ayvbee!”

“Who am I?”

“Ma Mamee!” he said sweetly and leaned toward her so she kissed his head and tried not to cry, he was so sweet!

Margaret came in to gather dishes and offer coffee, so Sookie asked, “who is that, Pookie?’

“Mahdwid! Ah, Mahdwid – BA!” Alex waved at her with one hand and held the ball up with the other.

“Did you get a new ball, Master Alex?” Margaret was so pleased he called her attention.

“Omba, ba!”

“We’ll take our coffee and tea in the living room, if that’s alright, Margaret,” Eric told her.

“Alright, sir, I’ll bring the cart right out. Alicia is leaving for the evening if you need to speak to her.”

“I’ll leave a message for her if need be. Bjorn is that little tunnel around?” Eric asked

“Yes, it’s in the den in the box – you want it in the living room?”

“Yes, it doesn’t take long to set up, does it?”

“No, it’s real quick – I’ll get it.”

“Niall, I want you and the doctor to see Alex in this little tunnel. It’s a little play environment that helps demonstrate some of his skills.”

“Alright, that sounds intriguing.”

“Shall we adjourn to the living room, everyone?” Eric was playing host now.

Everyone migrated to the living room, Eric carrying the baby and Sookie bringing his ball and his dragon. Bjorn was setting up the tunnel, putting the little supports into the slots to hold it up.

“Dunna, Dadee!” Alex got excited and pointed to the tunnel.

“Tunnel? Yes, that’s your tunnel, isn’t it?” Eric didn’t know he knew that word.

“Omba! Fyid!”

“Yes, sometimes we fly when we play with the tunnel, don’t we? Sookie can you take a place at that end or would you like Bjorn to do it since you are wearing a dress?”

“Bjorn, would you mind?”

“Not at all, your majesty.” He stayed toward the middle of the living room and let Eric get at the end near the door with the baby.

“The body guard plays with the baby?” Niall was surprised.

“Oh, yeah, we all do,” Bobbie said, “he gets tons of attention.”

The little doctor pulled an ottoman over to sit on and watch what the baby was doing. Niall had taken the side chair closest to the tunnel so he could see what the baby would do, too.

Eric set the baby at the entrance and Alex looked into the tunnel, saying “ah, Borhd!”

Bjorn looked back at him and said, “hey, Alex! Come here, buddy!”

Alex crawled toward him at regular baby speed and then came out of the end and turned around as Bjorn tickled him and made him giggle.

“Alex, come to Daddy.” Eric said and the baby was back to him instantly, at Vampire speed.

“My word!” Niall said

“Well, well – he’s got his Vampire speed already! That is unexpected!” The doctor was apparently thrilled.

“Fyid, Dadee!” Alex was patting Eric’s face, wanting to fly.

“Want me to watch for humans, Eric?” Bjorn offered.

“Yes, we’ll give him a little flying.” Eric picked Alex up and levitated up toward the ceiling, holding Alex at arms length, then turned a complete rotation and Alex squealed with delight.

“Margaret’s coming,” Bjorn said and Eric quickly landed on the floor, the baby above him, but he did the move where he sort of drops him, then kisses him, several times while Margaret brought in the beverage cart and served cups of hot coffee and both hot and iced tea. Margaret was just beaming at Eric playing with the baby.

Niall was plenty impressed, too and the doctor was pleased as punch to see the Vampire playing with his baby that way. They knew he would be a strict father, but they weren’t so sure he would be able to be a daddy, yet he seemed to be excelling in that as he did everything else.

Eric moved the baby around in the air, saying “whoosh!” as he did, and when Margaret went back to the kitchen, the doctor said, “hold him up there and let him go.”

Before Sookie could object, Eric put the baby directly above him and let him go – and he hung there, suspended in the air.

“Oh, my Goddess!” Sookie said, not believing what she was seeing.

The baby giggled like crazy, “ah, Dadee!”

“Hi, Alex. You know what you are doing?”

“Ahm fyid, Dadee!”

“Yes, you are! Can you fly to Mommy?”

“Ware di Mamee do?”

“I’m over here, Pookie!” Sookie was standing behind Niall’s chair.

The baby turned toward her voice and slipped through the air in her direction, but flew up over her head and waved down at her, “Ah, Mamee!”

“Hi, Pookie – you be careful and don’t get hurt, OK?”

“Oday!”

“Come to Daddy, Alex.” Eric called him and he slowly went back to Eric, going lower so he landed in Eric’s hands. Eric hugged him to his chest and sat up with him, kissing him and rubbing his back, just thrilled that his son could fly. “OK, my son, one more thing.” He sat the baby on the floor in front of him and held his fingers up so Alex could pull himself up on them. “Stand up, Alex” and that’s exactly what he did, pulling up with just a little struggle, giggling with glee as he did. “That’s Daddy’s good boy!” Eric said, thrilled, as he let him down gently on his bottom, then scooped him back up in his arms for more hugs and kisses and tickles and growls.

“Amazing!” the doctor was very pleased.

“Yes, indeed. He’s his father’s son, alright.” Niall said proudly. At least he managed to get that part of the spell right. He was still racking his brain to figure out how things happened as they did. Instead of two Vampire/Fae hybrids, he seemed to come out with a Fae baby with Vampire weaknesses and a Vampire baby with no weaknesses at all. He did exactly what Freyja had told him to do – was this a part of Her plan?

“So, he can fly now?” Sookie was less than thrilled. She was never going to keep up with this kid.

“Call him, Sookie, the way Freyja taught you,” Niall suggested.

She stretched out her arms. “Alex, come to me.” Whoosh! went a gust of air through the room and Alex was instantly in her arms. “It worked!” Sookie was thrilled and she covered Alex with kisses as he giggled, apparently tickled by the sensation of being “called.”

“Does he always laugh so much?” Niall asked.

“Yes!” everybody in the room responded and laughed.

“He is a very happy baby,” Eric said proudly as he stood up. Alex reached for Eric and flew to him, throwing his arms around his neck and Eric hugged him tight and kissed him again.

“Well, on that note, I think we should take our leave,” the doctor said, “as for the 2 issue, don’t press it with him, and take special note of any unusual behavior he might show on the second, twentieth and twenty-second of the month and let me know if you notice anything. He seems to be thriving, so let’s not worry about it at this point.”

“Yes, I think we should all be very pleased with these results. Keep doing what you’re doing because the baby is strong, healthy, brilliant and happy – we could not ask for more.” Niall agreed.

Sookie was thrilled that they were so impressed by the baby and so was Eric.

“Our guests are leaving, Alex, say “bye-bye,” Eric urged him.

“Ba-ba!” Alex waved to them and giggled, laying his head on Eric’s shoulder.

“Good bye, little Vampire. Papaw loves you,” Niall said, looking directly into his eyes.

“And I’ll see you for a check up when you’re one month old, little one. Be good!” the doctor said, then the two of them disappeared.

“Well, that was nice…?” Sookie said, not quite sure.

“Yes, it was. I’m glad to know they are so happy with him. And now he knows how to fly!” Eric was beside himself about that. He was trying not to think about the other…

“Excuse me, Mr. Northman?”

“Yes, Margaret?”

“The kitchen is all done – if you don’t mind, I’d like to turn in now.”

“Of course, Margaret, thank you so much for your help tonight! Have a nice night!”

“YES, Margaret, thanks so much!” Sookie went over and hugged her shoulders and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Margaret gave her a huge smile, “my pleasure, Missus. Good night, everyone!”

“Thanks, Margaret – I’ll put everything in the dishwasher.”

“Thank you, Bobbie!” Margaret headed for the second floor.

“I’m gonna turn in, too!” Octavia spoke up, “Thanks for dinner – you put those stones in salt before you go to bed, girl.”

“I will, Octavia, thank you.” Sookie hugged her and the old lady squeezed Eric’s arm as she walked past him. “Good night, Mr. Good night, little Vampire.”

“Ba-ba!” Alex waved to Octavia, sending her off to bed with a smile.

“So, Eric, did Niall tell you what the 2 thing is?” Sookie asked.

Fuck. “He said something about a Fae tradition and magick and secrets – it was very complex, apparently, but he felt it was a good sign for the baby to be so intent or aware or whatever. He assured me it was not an unusual thing for magickal child to have unusual likes or dislikes.”

“Oh, OK. Well, that’s cool about the Pixies, right? That’s such a neat concept – Faerie twins.”

Ouch! “Yes, we’ll be sure to leave some milk for them now and then. I understand Fae are very fond of milk.” Eric would give anything to get her off this topic.

“There used to be a superstition about Fairies causing milk to spoil if they didn’t get their offerings,” Bobbie told her. “I wonder if that was true?”

“I wonder. I should have asked if I could speak to them. I hope they let me see them some day. They’re sort of like family, right?”

Eric was deep in thought.

“Eric?”

“Yes, my Angel?”

“You weren’t listening to me. What’s wrong?”

“I just have a lot on my mind, Dear One. It’s nearly midnight. Do you want to do something? We could all swim if you want.”

“All – like us and Alex and Bobbie and Bjorn?”

“If everyone wanted to, yes, why not? It’s a very warm night and an hour or two in the pool might be fun. What do you think, Bobbie? You’re under no obligation, of course, it’s just an idea.”

“I think that sounds like fun. Where did Bjorn go?”

“He rolled the cart into the kitchen,” Sookie reminded her. “Hey, Bjorn! You want to go swimming with us?”

Bjorn came back in the room, “who’s going swimming?”

“All of us – me, Eric, Alex, Bobbie and you if you want to. It was Eric’s idea.”

“Really? Bobbie, are you into it?”

“Yeah, definitely.”

“Yeah, I could go for a swim. There are plenty of guards on tonight. Eric you should check your messages first, but yeah, let’s all take a dip.”

“Good idea, Bjorn. I’ll do that, and then put some trunks on, and Sookie, you and the baby get ready while I’m on the phone.”

Everybody went in different directions. Bjorn told the guard what they were doing so no one would be surprised, Bobbie went to load the dishwasher, Sookie took the baby upstairs and Eric went into Sookie’s office, just out of habit, to check his messages.

Eric had a call from Vincent, which he was sure is what Bjorn wanted him to hear. No bugs in the house, but Sookie’s car and the phone line in the house were both wired for surveillance. Eric was especially unhappy about the car because that could mean someone following Sookie and Alex in the daytime as well as following him at night.

The good news was that the permits and ordinances were all set so the fencing company could work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus the bull dozing could be done now if Eric wanted to pay for it – otherwise, after the 15th, the city would pay. Eric called him back and told him to get everyone working on it now – he’d gladly pay to get this done. They both agreed that in this circumstance, days mattered.

He also told Eric that there were two chalet-style modular home kits available locally that could be put out behind the old summer kitchen, perpendicular to the old servant’s quarters, and they would only take a week to set up, including the plumbing, if they did it before August 1st. The permits for the plumbing were not in effect until the 15th, so Eric gave him orders to go ahead and buy the home kits and set up the plumbing work to start on the 15tn. At this rate, the compound would be taking shape before they returned to New Orleans. Eric happened to own a construction company in Ruston, so he had them make this first priority and they knew not to give him any bullshit. Just show up on time and do what he wants and you make top dollar, and don’t even think about cutting corners or trying to rip him off.

He would call Bill and Sandy later when Sookie was asleep, so Eric was ready to go up and get his suit on. Sookie was in her suit and getting Alex ready when Eric zipped upstairs for his trunks and when they were dressed, they all flew down the steps together, Eric holding one of them in each arm. Bobbie and Bjorn were already in the pool when they came out, and the back yard lights were on. Alex’s playpen was back out by the pool in case he needed it. The cart of pool toys was out and Sookie took an air mattress and jumped in, which made Alex squeal with delight.

“Did you see Mommy jump in the pool, Alex?” Eric laughed.

“Mamee dump ina poo!”

“Come on in, Pookie!”

“You want to jump in the pool, Alex?” Eric was teasing him, acting like he was going to jump.

“Ee-aah, Dadee dump in, dump in!” Alex was bopping up and down, waving his little arms

The second time he said it, Eric jumped into the pool, Alex still in his arms, and Alex squealed and shrieked and giggled like crazy as Eric landed on his feet, just far enough into the pool that Alex was up to his chest in water as he held him.

Sookie, Bobbie and Bjorn were applauding and yelling “yay, Alex!” “Good Job”

“You go, Pookie!” and Alex was beside himself, slapping at the water with both hands, yelling “WADA, DADEE, WADA!”

Eric was cracking up so while everyone was laughing, he let go of Alex and backed up just a little and Alex just automatically swam toward him. He did it again and Alex swam toward him again. He stepped further back and said, “come to Daddy,” and Alex swam toward him, his little hands and feet flailing like crazy, grinning from ear to ear.

“Hey,” Sookie said, “is he…?”

“Yes, he is! Come on, Alex!” Eric would back up a little further each time, eventually moving back as Alex moved toward him, and Alex was swimming like a fish to catch up to him.

“Oh, that’s so cool! If you start him at this age, it will never be a big deal to him.” Bobbie said, “you know they have classes for human babies that start them really young because they naturally know how to hold their breath and paddle.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen films of these little naked babies holding their breath and paddling back to the surface – it’s so cute. It’s one of the reasons I believe in the Aquatic Ape Theory.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, you know the Theory of Evolution, right?”

“Yeah, we learned a little about it in school.”

“OK, well, the Aquatic Ape Theory says that at some point, people or our ancestors at some point lived in water. See there are all these anomalies in the way humans are made – why do our breasts get so big, why is the pattern of hair on our bodies more like a sea mammal than a land mammal, why does the hair on our head grow long, why are our brains so big, why did the human head grow faster than the human pelvis that has to birth it, etc.”

“And the Aquatic Ape thing answers all of that?” Sookie floated her mattress over to Bobbie’s so they could chat. Bjorn and Eric were playing with Alex while they girls talked.

“Yeah, it does.”

“Have we talked about this before?”

“I don’t know – do you remember it?”

“Not really.”

“OK, then, this lady, Elaine Morgan, spent her whole life writing about the hypothesis – she really championed it. Scientists mostly don’t take her seriously, but it’s only because they’re so stuck in their thinking. Like ArdiArdipithecus is the full name, I thinkthat new hominid skeleton they just did a special on – it’s the oldest probable human ancestor they’ve ever found, but it’s totally unexpected – it stood upright, but it had feet that grip and they can’t quite figure out how an upright animal with those feet would walk, but then, they also found out that the area they’ve always theorized was a flat hot savanna was probably more like a rain forest 5 million years ago. See, they come up with these theories, then they fight for them in spite of evidence to the contrary. It will be a couple of generations before the Aquatic Ape Hypothesis gets any serious consideration. That’s the way scientific history goes – first someone has an idea, then people ridicule it, then the next generation considers it, then the next generation accepts it as fact. The old guard has to sort of die off before new ideas get a fair shake.”

“So this lady – she’s a scientist?”

“No, that’s part of the problem – she’s a television writer. She just happens to be the one person who has written the most about this theory of evolutionary biology. I’ll get you a copy of her book, The Descent of Woman – every woman, especially a Witch, should read that book.”

“OK, cool.”

“Sookie, call Alex!” Eric called to her from a few feet behind her.

Sookie turned around and said, “are you sure this is a good idea?”

“Absolutely, call him.” Eric was smiling from ear to ear now.

“Come to Mommy, Pookie,”

Alex swam right to her over a pretty good stretch. It was far enough to know that the little scamp could actually swim on his own.

“That’s unbelievable!” Sookie was amazed that he didn’t really even need to be taught. “Good boy, Alex! Are you getting cold?”

“Nah dode”

“Are you getting sleepy?”

“Nah seepy.”

“Are you getting hungry?”

“Ee?”

“Yeah, do you want to eat?”

“Ee-ah, ee.”

“OK, Sweetie, come here,” Sookie moved one side of her top aside and Alex latched on eagerly. “Eric, I think I’m going to get out and sit down while he’s feeding.”

“Alright, Lover, do whatever you want. I’m going to swim a little while you do that.”

“OK, cool.” Sookie walked out of the pool slowly because the bottoms of the suit she was wearing had a tendency to want to fall down when she got out of the water too fast. She grabbed a towel and wrapped it around Alex, then sat on one of the chaise lounges at the end of the pool, next to where Bjorn usually sat to watch her. It was a really warm night and it was humid because it was cloudy. You couldn’t even see any stars tonight. “Has anybody heard a weather report?”

“It’s supposed to be stormy tomorrow,” Bobbie told her, moving toward the end of the pool on her air mattress.

“Yeah, there are no stars out at all tonight. No pool tomorrow I guess.”

“Nope, you can just sleep late and read if you want.”

“That’s going to seem weird, reading with all these people around.”

“All these people are around for your convenience, darlin’, not for you to entertain. Just go in the den and lean back when you want, or stay in your room or the baby’s room.”

“You know what I really dream of doing – and this is so lame – I dream of just turning on the big TV in the den, putting Alex on a blanket and playing with him until he falls asleep and then reading while he naps. How boring is that?”

“There’s nothing wrong with just wanting a day to be you, Sweetie. Just do that tomorrow. You want some of us to leave so you don’t feel pressured?”

“I don’t want to order people out of the house!”

“Give them a day off! Send them on errands! Give yourself some space.”

“Y’all don’t get many days off, do you?”

“That’s just until you get used to dealing with the baby. Eventually, we’ll all get one week-end day and one weekday off.”

“Sookie, is something wrong?” Eric asked her – he heard what they were saying and figured it was time for him to step in.

“We were just talking about days off and stuff.”

“Is there something you need to do, Bobbie?”

“It’s not so much for me, but Sookie is feeling pressure about having people around all the time. She needs some quiet time with just her and the baby.”

“What’s wrong?” Bjorn stopped doing laps and came over.

“Nothing wrong, so much as Sookie needing some space.” Eric explained, “You know, Sookie, technically, tomorrow is the first day of your vacation. What do you most want to do?”

“Well, it’s supposed to rain, so I just want to watch TV, play with the baby and read.”

“Alright – no need to dress up for that and I need Bjorn here Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so how about I give Bobbie, Bjorn, and Alicia the day off and you can just do as you want. Margaret will still be here to cook for you, and as long as you check your email for anything urgent, anything Alicia could do for you could be done Friday.”

“You’ll have to show me how to check my email – I only know my hotmail account, not the official one you made for me for Queen stuff.”

“Alright, we’ll do that tonight. I’ll call Alicia and tell her to take the day off, and you two just enjoy the day tomorrow and Sookie will fend for herself, agreed?”

“Agreed.” Sookie said.

“Works for me,” Bobbie said

“Yeah, Kerik is on tomorrow so he can cover for me as necessary. There might be a surveyor coming tomorrow, but he can handle the background check on that – Vincent already started it today.”

“Why do you need Bjorn this weekend? I’m just curious…”

“The bulldozers are coming to clear the new property and the fence lines will be going up. The place will be torn up for a bit, I’m afraid, but it will start to take shape in a few weeks.”

“So it’s really going to be a whole compound?”

“Yes, it is. There will be two chalet-style houses right back there, the fences will move out to the new perimeters of the property and we’ll have a new drive down to the next street, then we’ll let the landscaper to finish the design. You’ll love it.”

“Oh, OK…”

“You’re going to have final approval of the design, Sookie.”

“I will?”

“Of course, Sweetheart. Once the area is defended properly, you can work with the landscaper and have things exactly the way you want them. You might want to add a pond or gazebo or something like that. I’ll have Alicia get you some magazines so you can get some ideas.”

“Oh, you’ll love that, Sookie! It’s like decorating with flowers and trees,” Bobbie reassured her.

“Hmm – if you say so… Alex is asleep. Should we swim some more or go inside?”

“I’m ready to go in if you are,” Eric said, “though Bjorn and Bobbie, feel free to stay longer if you want.”

“I’d like to swim some more if that’s OK?” Bobbie said.

“Yeah, I’d like to do some more laps,” Bjorn agreed.

“OK, well, we’ll go up then. You guys have fun tomorrow.” Sookie stood up and walked over to Eric as he came out of the pool.

“You, too, Sweetie. We’ll see you tomorrow night.”

“I’ll turn the lights off for you,” Eric smiled at Bjorn

“Thanks, boss. See you tomorrow night.”

Sookie and Eric went back inside and Eric switched off the outside light. “They’re going to swim in the dark?”

“Not exactly, Sookie. Think – what do you and I do when we’re alone in the pool in the dark?”

“Are they gonna…?”

“Of course they are. Would you like to join them?” He asked as he picked up the video camera in the den and took out the DVD.

“Eric!”

“It’s going to happen eventually, Sookie – why not start now?”

“It is? Huh?”

“Eventually, of course – but not tonight. Tonight we need to go to bed and have family time.” He wrapped his arm around her and guided her toward the living room, laughing to himself.

When they reached the bottom of the steps, he told her, “hold the baby tightly,” and scooped them up, flying the three of them up the stairs to their room. Sookie giggled quietly when they got there. “What are you laughing at, Dear One?”

“Sometimes that feels like when an elevator drops too fast and your stomach flips – or like a carnival ride or something – I don’t know… stop laughing at me,” she punched him in the arm playfully and he laughed, too.

“You’re in a silly mood, my Angel.”

“I don’t know why – maybe it’s just relief that I get a day off tomorrow.” She tucked the sleeping baby into the co-sleeper and started to take off her suit.

“Do you not like having people around?”

“Don’t get me wrong, I love our family of helpers and all, but it’s going to be nice to have some time to be Sookie and not Mrs. Northman.”

“Are you unhappy with your life, Sookie?”

“NO, Eric, I’m crazy happy with you, I just need some time off – you know that, that’s why you scheduled this vacation for me.”

“I’m sorry if I ruined it by making all these plans for construction, but it’s a matter of safety.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she said as she slipped his swim trunks down off of him. “Be naked and be happy,” she laughed.

“You should follow that advice, too.”

“I agree – can I make a request?” she asked as she wrapped her arms around his waist and looked up at him.

“Yes, you may…”

“Let’s take a quick shower and then you can rub vanilla massage oil all over me…”

“Intriguing request – is that the end of it?”

“No, sugar, that’s just the beginning of it.”

“Sugar?” he laughed at being called that, but he loved the way her accent made it sound.

“Um-hm, you heard me. Very quick shower though, so the baby isn’t alone long. We’ll leave the door open and go fast and then we can come back out here for the oil and the games.”

“Games? Now I AM intrigued, Mrs. Northman…”

“So let’s get wet,” she laughed and pulled him toward the bathroom by his “gracious plenty,” whose attention she had, entirely.

He laughed, delighted, and let her lead him quickly to the shower, which he turned on while she continued to stroke him. He could tell she was taking charge tonight and he was more than willing to let her have her way because she could be a tigress when she was in this sort of mood.

The water was the perfect temperature when they stepped under the spray and let it rinse them off. There was a big bottle of baby shampoo in there and Sookie used it on Eric’s hair as he bent down, then she washed the rest of him off with it and let him do the same to her, from her hair to her toes. She touched him just enough to keep him hard the whole time, then they quickly combed their hair and Sookie told him not to dry off as she clipped her hair up. She spread the empty blue cotton duvet cover Alicia had left for her on the bed, threw Eric the bottle of vanilla massage oil Bobbie had left for her and moved to the middle of the bed.

Eric squeezed some oil into his hand and covered her with broad, quick strokes of his big hands, kneading her muscles firmly as she rolled around letting him reach every part of her. She was giggling, trying to be quiet so they didn’t wake the baby, and when she was completely covered she grabbed the bottle and covered him with the same sort of broad strokes, pushing him on his back as she finished with his incredibly stiff cock. He moaned in spite of trying to be quiet as Sookie mounted him quickly, the two of them holding hands, fingers entwined, as she rode him with great relish. It didn’t take long for him to come, but he encouraged her to keep going and before she knew it, he rolled them so she was under him and he focused all of his energy on bringing her along, which didn’t take much because she was right THERE.

They were both oily and giggling at the way they were slipping against each other as they wrestled around, kissing and nipping each other’s neck and shoulders.

“OK, you big sexy Viking, lie back – I’m in charge,” she laughed as she straddled his waist and pushed him back. He let her take over again and leaned back as she moved down between his legs. She grabbed the bottle of oil and sprinkled some on her first two fingers and Eric smiled from ear to ear, knowing what she had in mind. One hand worked on his cock while the other went under him, two oily fingers finding the entrance and slipping inside him as he moaned softly.

This was heaven. Moments like this were why he called her his Angel – she was like a dream come true when she was controlling him this way, stroking just the right spot and giggling as he squirmed and tried not to cry out, doing it over and over, making him come twice in just a little while. He was a quivering mass by the time she was done with him, but when she told him to move down the bed, he was able to do it, though he was still shaky and fell backwards when he was done.

Sookie had never done this before, but she was pretty sure Eric would go for it. She moved up to his shoulders, putting a knee on each side of his head, sort of sitting on his face. He was in heaven again as he ate her while she braced herself on the headboard, squirming, moaning and giggling. This was one of those situations where a Vampire had an advantage in not needing to breathe. He held her lower cheeks in his hands, kneading them and controlling her movement a bit. It didn’t take long before she was begging him to stop, and he let her move off of him and lie back, then he brought her to her release with his tongue and fingers.

As she lay catching her breath, he moved up and wrapped her in his arms, whispering to her and rubbing her back.

“I love you so much, Sookie. That was so much fun – I can’t believe how sweet you are!”

“Sweet? I was trying to be sexy and merciless,” she laughed.

“Oh, but you were – you are sweetest when you are being wicked,” he brushed her hair back away from her face.

“Wicked? OK, I like that,” she giggled as she snuggled tighter against him.

“Mmmmm- my wicked little Witch,” he laughed.

“Ye-ah – that’s what I want to be!”

“Not to change the subject, but what are we lying on?”

“I asked Alicia for something I could throw over the bed to keep from getting oil and stuff on it and this is what she left for me.”

“I’m surprised you would ask her for that.” Eric was impressed.

“Yeah, me too. It was a little embarrassing, because I knew she knew what I wanted it for, but I really wanted it,” she laughed. “I asked Bobbie for edible massage oil, too, but that wasn’t that big a deal, ’cause Bobbie knows how we are, anyway.”

“Why does it have buttons on it?”

“I think this is a duvet cover – it’s made like a pocket so you put a down comforter inside it and button it closed. I asked for like, two sheets or something thicker than just a sheet. This is actually a good idea – it’s easily washed. We can mess it up and then the sheets are clean for sleeping.”

“Very pragmatic, my Angel,” he teased her as he nibbled her ear.

“When I catch my breath a little, could we try something?”

“Such as?”

“Well, we need to exchange blood, right? I want to try sitting facing each other and drinking from each other’s wrists at the same time. I want to see if it raises that “circuit” of energy.”

“Like the flashes of light we have sometimes?”

“Right. I want to figure out what it takes to raise that.”

“We can try it.”

“Cool. I just want to rest a little longer. I’m getting cold.”

“Want me to get a towel and wipe off some of the oil so we can get under the covers?”

“Yeah – is that OK?”

“Of course, Sookie, whatever you want.” He kissed her hair and got a towel, wiping her down and then wiping himself off. He scooped her up, pulling the blue coverlet off the bed, then turning it down and putting her in place on her side of the bed, crawling in beside her and pulling the covers up over them.

“Take the clip out of my hair, please?”

“Of course, my Angel.” Eric smiled to himself, knowing she would be asleep in a minute. He would do the blood exchange later if need be and he’d let her know that they could try the “circuit” exercise she had suggested any time she wanted. He thought the fact that she wanted to experiment with that was a good sign that she was becoming more accepting of her powers. He fluffed her hair up and she smiled up at him, whispering “thank you, Sweetie.”

“Mamee,” the baby rolled onto his side facing them, his eyes still closed.

“Oops –” she started to turn then Eric said, “Lie still, Sookie, he is dreaming.”

“Really?”

“Yes, his eyes are moving, but closed. He is dreaming about you.”

“Awww- he’s so sweet.”

“Yes, he is – just like his Mommy.” He hugged her tight and kissed her forehead as she snuggled into his chest and fell asleep. He lay there for a while, listening to her breathe, watching the baby sleep, then he decided to make some phone calls and do some work, then check back in on them later.

He went first into the nursery and got the baby monitors, putting the listening part on Sookie’s nightstand so he could hear either one of them if they called him, then he kept the other end with him. He checked the settings so they were “open” rather than needing a button to be pushed to let him hear. He turned off the light in the headboard.

He went into his office. First he called Bill and told him about the new construction that would be going on at his house and asked about the new recruits he had interviewed. Bill gave him an update on the reconstruction projects, one of which had already started. He called Sandy and made some notes to follow-up on some items she asked him about, and other than that, he only had some email to respond to and some bills to take care of. He was finishing up his last task when the monitor sounded with a small voice saying “Dadee?”

Eric was by the little crib in a flash, picking the baby up and taking him into the nursery at Vampire speed and popping a bottle into the warmer.

“Ah, Dadee,” he smiled,

“Hi, Alex. Are you hungry, my son?”

“Omba, ee.”

“Alright, it’s warming.”

“Oday. Ware di Mamee do?”

“Mommy is in bed sleeping. You and I will have some quiet time, OK?”

“Oday, bood?”

“Book? Yes, after you eat we can read a book.”

“Oday.”

Eric took the bottle from the warmer, shook it, and tested it on his wrist. He and the baby settled into the glider, and Alex suckled eagerly.

“Is that good blood, my son?” Eric beamed at him.

“Dood bud!” he giggled, then went back to feeding, resting his little hand on Eric’s wrist as he held the bottle for him.

“You like to be funny, don’t you, Alex.”

“Ee-aaah” he giggled, then went back to his bottle.

When he was about half way through the bottle, he stopped drinking and said, “bood, Dadee.”

“You want to read now?”

“Pish!”

“Fish? Well, let’s see…” he looked around the room and saw the fish book on top of the book shelf with some other things from the diaper bag. “OK, my boy, you’re in luck! It looks like somebody thought to bring your book from New Orleans.”

As they settled back into the glider, Alex played with the fish on top of the book, saying “fee, fo, fie pish.”

“Yes, that’s very good Alex. Now, let’s begin – One fish, two fish…” Eric went slowly through the book with him, letting him count the fish in the pictures as they went and pointing out the colors of the fish. Alex particularly liked the last page this time, with the picture of the fish in the car. “This one has a car to drive.”

“uh?” Alex pointed to the car.

“What is that?”

“Uh?” He looked at Eric expectantly.

“That’s a car, Alex. You like to ride in the car?”

“Dar?”

“Yes, you know the car, where you ride in your little seat, between Mommy and Daddy?”

Eric had an idea and looked back at the pile of stuff he got the fish book from and the First 100 Words book was there, too. Eric opened it to the first pages, and pointed to the picture of a car. “What is that, Alex?”

“Dar!”

“Right, that’s a car.”

“Woodie, Dadee.” Alex was pointing from the car to a square on the facing page, which was yellow with a picture of a duckling and the words, “Yellow Duckling.”

“Lookie? You learned that word from your Mommy,” he laughed. “Yes, the car is yellow and the duck is yellow.”

Alex pointed to the boat on the same page as the car.

“Yes, the boat is in a yellow square.”

Alex tried to turn the page, so Eric helped him, and he pointed to a picture of a lamp. “Uh-oh!”

“Yes, that’s a lamp like the one you broke. It’s in a yellow square, too.”

Alex looked at the pages closely and pointed to a picture of a baby in a bath, “bafdub!”

“Yes, bathtub. It’s in a yellow box, too. See, Alex, yellow?”

“ewwo?” He looked at the top of the page, “Ewwo, Dadee,” he pointed to a picture of a hair brush that was yellow.

“Good, Alex, the brush is yellow.”

“Pish ewwo!”

“Yes, the fish has yellow fins. Good, Alex!”

The baby made him turn another page, and pointed to all the blocks and pictures with yellow in them – a highchair, tomato, banana, cheese and an orange.

“Very good, Alex!”

The next pages had a clock, chair and table with yellow and a baby laughing in a yellow square. Alex pointed to them all and said “ewwo.” Eric went through the entire book with him, and he correctly identified the color yellow in all of them.

“You’re a very smart boy, Alex!” Eric was thrilled that he seemed to learn this on his own,

“Ahm smahrd.”

“Yes, you are!” Eric hugged him and kissed him, putting the book on the floor. Alex hugged him back and laid his little head on Eric’s shoulder. Eric could feel that he was falling asleep, so he rocked him quietly, then tucked him back in next to Sookie.

He tore open his wrist and pressed it to Sookie’s lips, and bit hers while she was feeding from him. The air around them shimmered with tiny pink sparkles, and he made a note of that in her journal. Before he went to rest, Eric went to the second floor and got a small bowl full of Sookie’s organic milk and left it on her nightstand, then called Alicia, and he took the DVD from the video camera to his resting space and watched it on his laptop as he waited for sleep.

He was completely enthralled watching Alex splash Bobbie and trying to say “whoo!” as Sookie dunked him. They were right – the look on Alex’s face was priceless. Eric laughed that they had forgotten about the camera when they talked about group sex and he smirked to himself when Bjorn made the comment about him being the kind of guy he’d be with, and not to tell him. He melted watching Sookie and Alex bobbing around on the air mattress, and Alex talking to Bjorn. He fell asleep thinking of how much he loved his little boy.

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