LATE Chapter 078

The Faerie Twin

 

Eric pulled his shirt on as Sookie gathered the baby up so they could go downstairs to meet the others for dinner. Eric was a little apprehensive, but he knew Sookie wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize getting to the other baby, so he figured she’d be careful what she said or did. He had never seen her this determined and he was relieved and proud. As usual, she was going to rise to the occasion, and do what had to be done. He had no idea if there was a remedy to the situation, but he knew if there were, she would move heaven and earth to find it.

As he saw the situation, his job was to give her all the support he could – physical, emotional, mental, financial, whatever she needed, and he would do his best to provide it. He had one other job, though, and that was to see that Alex didn’t suffer because Sookie was preoccupied with the other child. In the end, there might really be nothing they could do for the Faerie twin, but Alex was here right now and he wanted to be sure he got all the attention and love he needed. He would watch Sookie closely and be sure that she kept the situation in perspective. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her judgment – he did, probably more than anyone’s – it was that it would be normal for a mother to focus on the child most in need. Whatever happened, Alex must not suffer because of this.

“Don’t worry, Eric, I’ll keep it in perspective,” Sookie told him as she cradled Alex in her arms. “I can handle this. I would never neglect Alex – you know that.”

“Yes, Sweetheart, I do.” He put his arms around her as she held the baby between them. “Our family is strong, and we’ll stay strong. There has to be a reason for all of this – who knows – maybe something good will come from it all.”

“Trust the Goddess and She will provide. That’s what Octavia will tell me. I’ll trust but I need to DO something, too. I’m going to do whatever I have to do to learn how to fix this. I know I can do it, Eric – I KNOW with everything in me, that’s why Freyja was trying to tell me. She’s trying to tell me because I’m the one who has to fix it.”

“Alright. Let’s get you something to eat. I know enough about magick to know that you need to be strong to work it.” He kissed her on the head and guided her down the stairs.

Margaret had the kitchen smelling heavenly by the time they got downstairs. Eric went in to get the bouncer to put the sleeping baby in as Sookie sat at her place and rocked him. Octavia was already seated and drinking an iced tea, working a crossword puzzle.

“Hi, Octavia – did you rest well today?”

“Oh, yes – I hope you don’t mind me sleeping in. It’s been a while since I’ve had a room that comfortable and it’s nice to rest and know I don’t need to worry about anything for a bit. I don’t want to take advantage, though…”

“Don’t be silly,” Sookie said as Eric took the baby from her, “we want you to relax and feel at home.”

“Absolutely, Octavia. This is your home as long as you want it, and I want you to relax and do as you please,” Eric agreed. “You are very important to our family. Sleep in every day if you want to, and if you want the maids to bring your lunch or breakfast at a certain time, just let them know. And don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything. In fact, I was thinking it might be a good idea to put you on my payroll.”

“You gonna put me to work?” she laughed.

“Not exactly, but you are a teacher for Sookie and hopefully later for Alex and I thought a consulting fee might be appropriate. I can even pay you under the table if you want, so you don’t have to pay taxes on it.”

“I won’t tell if you won’t…” the old lady laughed, glad he thought of this without her having to ask. It was appropriate for a student of magick to pay for the upkeep of an elder, but the elder isn’t supposed to ask. The student should know to offer. She had been counting her room and board as payment, but a little green in her pocket would be helpful, too.

“Alright, then, I’ll have Alicia pay you the first of every month through the household account, in cash, retroactive to the first of this month, so let’s see,” Eric pulled out his wallet, “is $1500.00 too little? That’s what I’ve got on me right now. On the 1st of the month Alicia will give you another fifteen hundred.”

Octavia was shocked – she was expecting a hundred bucks or so. “No, that’s not too little – are you sure it’s not too much?”

“No, of course not. If you decide you need more, just let Sookie or me know and I’ll increase it on the first of next month, alright?” He handed her 15 hundred-dollar bills, which she took gladly. Except for the gift card he gave her in Las Vegas, it had been a long, long time since Octavia had had that much money of her own that didn’t need to go for rent or groceries.

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything. Just be there when Sookie and the baby need you. That’s worth more than anything to me.” He smiled at her and patted her arm. He knew he was paying her a lot more than she expected, but she was worth every penny and more as far as he was concerned, and he knew Sookie needed her now more than ever.

“Well, thank you,” she said as she tucked the bills into the pocket of her sweater.

“And if you ever need or want to go shopping, or out to lunch, or a movie, or something, just let Alicia or Bjorn know and they’ll arrange a driver and car for you. Plus, of course, you know if there’s anything you want you can just ask Alicia or Margaret and they’ll pick it up with their shopping.”

“Yeah, they’re good about asking me if I need anything when they shop. They’ve gotten things for me a few times.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear it.”

She looked around – Margaret was in the pantry, Bobbie and Bjorn hadn’t come down yet, it was just the four of them – “You all can tell me what Niall told you whenever you’re ready. I already got an idea what it was about.”

“You do?” Sookie didn’t think that was possible.

“Yep – about the number two. There was supposed to be a twin, wasn’t there?”

Sookie and Eric were stunned. “How did you know?” Sookie asked.

“I had an idea when we were in New Orleans that what was missing was another baby and that this one here” she nodded to Alex in the bouncer, “didn’t like the idea of that at all. I came down earlier and went to look something up on your computer and saw all those links for Faerie twins, so that tells me you know something.”

“I just found out – Eric’s known since last night – there’s another baby, trapped in Faerie Land or whatever it is.”

“Interesting – so half the magick worked, half didn’t. What did they tell you to do about,” Margaret came back in, “it?”

“They want us to pretend it isn’t there,” Sookie said in a way that let her know that that was absolutely not going to happen.

“Ready to fight for it, are you?” Octavia liked that. Sookie wasn’t just hurt she was pissed off and that’s when magick gets done. What all the little hippie pretend –Wiccans and New Agers never understood was that “airy-Faerie” only gets you so far. A real Witch has exactly as much power as she has passion and anger. It’s the hard, dark energies that make things happen. That’s why Witches don’t play around with magick. If you aren’t interested in the outcome enough to be intense about it, you’re wasting everybody’s time. You gotta NEED that outcome to work your will. Magick is not for sissies or dabblers or those afraid of real power.

“Absolutely,” Sookie said in a way that gave Eric chills. Damn, she was sexy when she was riled up, and no, he didn’t feel a bit guilty for being happy to know that if they had sex later, she’d be a wildcat. He knew exactly what he was doing when he married a Goddess.

“All right, then me and you gotta get serious about your training. Is there a place in this house where you could set up an altar that no one would bother – a place where you can be alone and not have people knocking on your door?”

“The basement,” Eric suggested, “there’s a junk room at the back next to the room you’re familiar with, Sookie, that closes off from the main part of the larger room.

“Yeah, I think I know where you mean,” Sookie was picturing it in her head – the door to it was back behind Eric’s hidey-hole.

“Would you like me to have it cleaned out?” Eric offered.

“Yes, if you’ve got a place to store what’s in there.” Octavia said.

“Not a problem. I’ll have it carried out to the summer kitchen that no one uses right now. Do you want it painted?”

“I’ll leave the decoration to Sookie – she might want to do something like that herself, to make it really hers.”

“Can I paint it pink?”

“If that’s what will make it feel like it’s yours, sure. In the mean time, Eric, you should have some of your workers scrub it, walls, floors and ceilings, with castile soap and rinse it with vinegar and water. None of the books will tell you to do that, but it’s a good way to get a clean canvas. Once that’s done, Sookie, I’ll teach you how to smudge it with sage and I’ll show you a HooDoo way to really clear out a workspace that makes it inviting to helpful spirits.

“Now, read all the books you want so you get a solid foundation, but I’m going to show you some techniques that aren’t in the books. Every practitioner finds her own ways. I’ll show you some of mine, and before long, you’ll be coming up with your own. The main thing to remember is that Wicce is pragmatic – you do what works, the rest you forget about. What works for you might not work for the Witch next to you – you follow what your inner voice tells you. If it don’t feel right, don’t do it, even if it’s me or another practitioner or even a Goddess telling you – you know in your soul if something is right for you. ALWAYS listen to your inner voice.”

“OK, I will.”

“Now, we’re going to need some supplies – is there a health food store in these parts?”

“Bobbie might know…” Sookie said.

“What might I know?” Bobbie came in with Bjorn close behind. “Hey, everybody!”

Everyone said their hellos as Bobbie sat down and Bjorn went to the counter for a cup of coffee.

“If there’s a health food store in Shreveport,” Sookie explained.

“Yep, Sunshine Health Foods – whatcha need?”

“Some Dr. Bronner’s soap, apple cider vinegar, sage for smudging, a natural, or at least a brand new, broom, sea salt, charcoal disks and/or incense and something to burn it in, a good range of beeswax candles and holders, then we’re going to need a table, some cakes, an altar cloth, regular matchsticks, an athame, a magnet, a jug of sweet red wine, a chalice, a bottle of anisette, and some little cakes but we’ll have to round that stuff up elsewhere.”

“Wow – getting serious, huh?” Bobbie laughed – it was about time! “OK, I could go get that stuff tomorrow if you want, or I could take you there. I think I know a place to get a real broom, too. You want a pentacle or an image of the Goddess?”

“If you know a place to get them around here, yes. I figured we might have to order those over the Internet. I don’t want to wait until we go back to New Orleans. There are some other tools I’ll want her to have, too – a Connolly tarot deck and a scrying mirror, a pendulum, a nice big quartz crystal point, some little points, some gris-gris bags, some rose quartz and/or bloodstone, some tumbled hematite – loose stones or a bracelet or necklace will do. Some Florida Water, four thieves vinegar and a good anointing oil would be good, too.”

“OK, let me get a piece of paper and make a list.” Bobbie went into the pantry where she knew Margaret kept a pad of paper for making shopping lists.

“Should I go with you guys?” Sookie asked.

“No, not unless you really want to, or if you’d rather pick your own tools.” Octavia told her, “It might be better for you to just rest and play with the baby while we set things up, and read as much as you can. I know you wanted some days where you didn’t have to go anywhere.”

“OK, if it’s cool, I’ll let you guys set me up. I really do need some days where I don’t have to go anywhere.”

“I’ll get Kerik to drive you ladies tomorrow, since I need to be here,” Bjorn assured them.

Margaret was serving steaks and mashed potatoes with a gorgeous green salad, and everyone got focused on food. When she brought Eric’s RM she asked, “excuse me for asking, Missus, but are you supposed to be drinking these, too? I haven’t seen you have one since you’ve been home and I thought that might be why you’re so thin right now? You seem very washed out…”

“Huh – you know, now that you mention it, I haven’t had one in a while – I don’t have a baby inside me kicking me to drink them!” she laughed, “I am supposed to be drinking them, though.”

“I didn’t think of that, either, but it could be why you’re so tired. You’ve got two Vamps feeding on you and you aren’t putting anything back,” Bobbie agreed.

“OK, then, I’ll have a cold one in addition to my sweet tea. Thanks for noticing, Margaret!”

“I failed to notice that, too, my Angel. I’m sorry about that. We need to be careful not to neglect your diet.” Eric couldn’t believe he hadn’t noticed she wasn’t drinking them.

“Yeah, I just haven’t thought about it.”

“You’re focused on that baby, which is good, but you gotta take care of Mama, too, girl.” Octavia warned her, “you won’t be any help to anybody if you let yourself get run down. It’s good that it will be cloudy tomorrow. You make sure you sleep in and spend your time resting and reading.”

“I’ll leave instructions for that room to be cleared out, and we’ll have it cleaned when you have what you need for it, Octavia,” Eric promised.

“Good. Are there any windows in it?” Octavia asked

“Just one small one that faces the back of the house,” Eric told her.

“OK, we’ll need to cover it – either paint it so no one can see in or put a curtain up. She’ll need privacy for what she wants to do. The fewer distractions, the better, and that will also keep the guards from knowing what she’s doing. Eventually, she’ll be able to cast anywhere, but when she starts out, this will help her focus, especially if she decides to work naked.”

“Naked?”

“Yes – some practitioners do, and you might find that you’re able to channel energy better that way.”

“Is that why…?” Sookie hesitated.

“Why you generate sparks when you’re having sex? It helps. Have you learned to generate that energy on purpose yet?”

“No, but we were talking about it…”

“Experiment – that’s a powerful force. Use it – give it direction.”

“I’ve tried that and I think it works.”

“I’m more than happy to experiment any time she wants,” Eric smiled and the rest of them laughed.

“Do that, with intention. That’s real power so learn to make the most of it. Bobbie, do you have a copy of The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries?”

“Z’s book? Yeah, of course!”

“Get that to Sookie tonight so she can start learning the basics of casting. We’ll need to start her a Book of Shadows. I’m also thinking, since she can afford it, maybe we should get her one of those fancy, ready made ones on the web?”

“That’s a Witches’ book, right, like on Charmed? They sell those?” Sookie never knew you could buy something like that.

“Yeah, they’re mostly collections of stuff you can find other places but it will save you a lot of time looking for things. It’s a luxury, but in your case, it might be a good investment.”

“Are they expensive?”

“The basic ones are around $400.00, but the kind I’m thinking of is closer to $3,000.00. I know it’s a lot, but these are hand bound and you can pass it down through generations.”

“Go ahead and get it. Don’t worry about the cost,” Eric reminded them.

“OK, might as well get a good book stand, too, and an altar table. Might as well set the scene as well as we can.”

“Set the scene?”

“Yes, see, part of the point of using tools is that they speak to your subconscious in a way that language can’t. The oldest, deepest parts of you know what these things are for and what they mean, and having them wakes those parts up and energizes them.”

“Do the items have power themselves?”

“Some, depending on how they’re created. Herbs certainly have their own energies, and stones do. Mostly, though, you put the energy in them when you charge them.”

“How do I do that?”

“You cast a circle and dedicate them. That’s what you’ll learn from Z. Budapest’s book. She gives a pretty thorough introduction to getting started. While I’m thinking of it, Bobbie, put a paint marker on the list – we’ll mark out a circle on the floor down there and mark the directions, maybe go ahead and put a pentagram in it.”

“Wow – good idea!”

“Does everybody do that?” Sookie asked.

“Most people don’t, because they don’t have a place to do it. Sometimes people have a circle of stones or something like that to mark their borders, or they’ll use chalk or sand to mark their boundaries, but most just mark it off with energy. Since you’ve got a private room to use just for this, we might as well go whole hog and set up the ideal space.”

“Yes, absolutely – make it as ideal as possible.” Eric agreed.

“I thought you didn’t like magick?” Sookie said to him.

“I never said that, Sookie. Norse men don’t DO magick but we respect the power of it. We just think it is best left to our women.”

“I can’t say I disagree with that. This is very non-PC, and most Pagans would disapprove of me saying this, but I don’t trust most men who do magick.” Octavia said. “There are some who are good and ethical, but they’re rare creatures. Men tend to play power games, and get their egos involved. Too many use it as a con or a way to get sex or money.”

“We were always told that only women were able to do it – that men couldn’t do it because they weren’t women. It wasn’t that we looked down on it. It’s more that we were… afraid of it, or maybe in awe of it. It’s like childbirth – we were happy to leave that to women because only women could handle it,” Eric said in all seriousness, “they’re so much closer to Nature.”

“Yeah, exactly – like they’re a part of the earth itself in a way we can’t be,” Bjorn agreed.

“Childbirth IS magick – red magick,” Octavia explained. “and that’s a pretty good description of woman’s relationship to Nature.”

“But Alex won’t feel that way – he likes to do magick already,” Sookie pointed out.

“There are always exceptions, of course – shamans or Witches or seers. Besides, Alex might change as he gets older. Right now, he is still more a part of you,” Eric said

“I don’t know why you think that – he’s already just like you!” Sookie said, exasperated.

“Yeah, but it’s different for him, Sookie – he’s touched by the Goddess. That’s very rare, so it’s alright for him. It’s what he’s meant to do. Everyone knows that,” Bjorn explained.

“Everybody knows he’s magick?” Sookie didn’t like the sound of that.

“Yes.” Bjorn, Bobbie and Octavia all agreed.

“They know about the Goddess?”

“Most don’t know which Goddess, but yeah, they know he’s sacred,” Bjorn assured her.

“Humans, too?”

“Not necessarily – but all Supes know.” Bjorn said.

“When Bill and I met with the Weres and Witch, and Wizard who came to Fangtasia before my ascension, they knew all about him. That’s why the coven offered to perform his Wiccaning,” Eric told her.

“Yes, it’s an honor for them to do it and it’s an honor to have them offer it. They see it as serving the Goddess,” Bjorn explained.

“Yes, and they told me in no uncertain terms that their loyalty is to him. They couldn’t care less about Vampire politics, but they believe such a special child should be protected,” Eric recalled. “If we ever needed their help for him, they would gladly give it.”

“I had no idea about that. I thought all the fuss was about the first Vampire Prince…” Sookie said.

“They know he was created by magick and word got around that a Goddess was involved,” Bjorn explained.

“Yep,” Octavia agreed, “even the Solitaries know about him. People are excited to see how he grows up.”

“Wow – I didn’t realize that was so well known. If we can, let’s not make him aware of that as he grows up. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a child,” Sookie said with serious concern.

“Don’t worry about that, girl,” Octavia told her, “that kid already knows who he is and at least a part of him knows what he’s here to do. He’ll be fine.”

“Yeah – he does know who he is. He came out of me yelling “Víg!”” Sookie laughed.

“That’s my boy!” Eric laughed and everyone laughed with him.

“Dadee!”

“And now he is awake,” Eric laughed as he got up and went to the bouncer, picking the baby up, kissing and cradling him as he brought him back to the table. Eric bent too low as he sat down and Alex snatched a handful of Sookie’s mashed potatoes and had them in his mouth before she had time to react.

“Alex! Don’t do that!” Sookie reached for his hand but most of the potatoes were gone.

“Ee, Mamee.”

“Alright, you ask first from now on, OK?”

“Oday. Ee!”

“Margaret…” Sookie started, but Margaret was right there with a little bowl of potatoes for the baby and a little spoon.

“Here you go, sir.”

“Thank you, Margaret. Alright, Alex, what do you say?” Eric asked him.

“Dayoo, Mahdwid.”

“That’s my good boy. You must always remember to thank people for serving you, right, Mommy?”

“Right. I didn’t realize you had him doing that yet!” Sookie was tickled that Eric was teaching him manners.

“Oh, yes, his Queen is quite the stickler for saying “thank you,” Eric teased her and the others laughed. Eric fed the baby bites of the potatoes, and the baby hummed with delight.

“Yeah, I have gotten him to say it a couple of times. I’m glad you’re teaching him, too. Even a Viking warrior can be polite when it’s called for,” She laughed.

Everyone finished their meals and migrated into the den after dinner. Bobbie got her copy of The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries for Sookie, then she and Bjorn decided to watch a movie in the den since he had to be up to work with the contractors in the morning. Octavia said she really just wanted to rest some more since she and Bobbie were going shopping the next day, so she said good night, borrowing a DVD of Bell, Book and Candle to watch on the TV in her bedroom.

Sookie stayed in the den talking to Bobbie and Bjorn while Eric checked his email and messages in her office. After about 20 minutes, Eric was back to talk to Bjorn.

“Bjorn, can you meet with me, the contractor’s engineer and Vincent at 9 o’clock?”

“Sure. Where?”

“Vincent is bringing him here so he can see at least some of the property. They want to go over the plans one more time to be sure we all know what they’re doing. We’ll use the dining room so we can spread the blue prints out, and I’ll need to give them copies of the permits and such that Burnham had delivered.”

“Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll feel a lot better knowing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing,” Bjorn said.

“Good. I’ll feel better knowing we’re all on the same page.”

“Do I need to be there?” Sookie asked, hoping he’d say no.

“Only if you want to be, my Angel. This is mostly  about the fences and changing the borders of the property.”

“Good. I don’t want to get dressed,” Sookie laughed.

“If you’re interested at all, I can show you the plans before they get here.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing that.”

“Could I see, too?” Bobbie asked

“Of course, I’ll get them. Meet me in the dining room,” Eric said as he went back to the office.

Sookie, Bobbie and Bjorn went into the dining room, Sookie hitting the switch on the wall. Alex was content in the bouncer with his dragon.

“This really is a gorgeous room,” Bobbie said, looking around. “I’ve never been in here except to eat. Is that a real Monet over the fireplace?”

“Yep, it is. It’s really pretty, isn’t it? I guess the decorator chose it. It’s probably worth a lot of money, huh?”

Bjorn just laughed and shook his head. He wondered if Sookie was ever going to wrap her mind around how rich she was now. It’s like it never occurred to her that that painting, along with everything else in the house, the businesses or the many banks Eric dealt with, were as much hers as Eric’s now. As incredible as it was that Eric was willing to share all that with her, it was even more incredible to him that she didn’t really understand it. It wasn’t that she was unappreciative because he knew she was grateful for everything he did for her, it was just that she didn’t understand the magnitude of his generosity. She knew he gave her half of everything but she had no idea how huge the ‘everything’ was.

Eric came back with the plans and spread them out on the table. First, he showed them the drawing of how things were at the moment – the boundaries of the property, which went just to the next lot about 1/8 of a mile away, the street that dead-ended in front of their house, the big back yard that was lined with trees and a low iron fence surrounded by undeveloped fields and woods. They were able to see how the old servants quarters the gardeners and now the guards used ran down the right side of the lot from the house out to a small flower garden and the extra garage that ran perpendicular to it.

The other side of the lot was the old summer kitchen, used now for storage and pool supplies, that stretched to the left of the property at an angle that matched that of the pool. There was a total of about 6 square acres, so there was a large, unused portion of yard that stretched out behind the summer kitchen way down past it and wrapped around the big lot in back of the extra garage, then that lot was lined with pretty fruit and ornamental trees, which were represented by a grey shaded area on the plans.

Eric then spread out the new plans. “You see this line to the right of the house will now be extended all the way down to the neighbors yard, encompassing the empty lot.” He pointed to the spot on the plans, “The street will now end at their property line and our address will change. The empty lot we face will be bulldozed and it will become our front yard, then that will let out onto the next street over. Our property line on the left will extend down to the highway, making that edge of it very visible to the public, but keeping us far away from them. I’ve purchased a large, L-shaped lot that goes down from the new road, along the side of the current property, all the way back into the woods. That will make this an almost perfectly square lot of about 24 acres, with the house toward the center of it. Tall, wrought iron fences are going up around the perimeter, three feet inside the property line. The bulldozers are going to dig up the whole lot of new land and make it flat, then we’ll landscape it. As soon as the fences are up and the surveillance cameras are in place, very tall trees will be planted all around the back half of the square, and ornamental shrubs will go up around the front.”

He pointed to the field in front of the house. “This will be the entrance to the property, so this is where I thought you might want a pond or fountain of some sort, Sookie, and some flowerbeds. You can make it very formal if you want, or we could have a winding drive to show off the house better.”

“OK. So it’s going to be big fences around empty stuff and then us?”

“Only at the beginning. As we go, we’ll fill things in so it won’t seem bare. We’ll have the two chalets out here,” he indicated the large area behind the summer kitchen to the left of the garage and servant’s quarters, “and we’ll put some nice winding walkways from them to the house and have some flower borders there.”

“Chalets? Those are sort of triangle shapes, right?”

“Right – there will be two of them, each with three bedrooms, and they’ll be up within a month.”

“Wow – that’s really ambitious…” Sookie couldn’t believe all of this.

“The main thing is to get the fences up and some trees so people can’t see in.”

“And they’re paving the drive next week?” Bjorn asked

“The part that goes around back in the perimeter. We’ll get the landscaping done in front before we pave out there.”

“OK, the landscaping gets done when?” Sookie asked.

“I’m going to have someone come in and look at it next week and then he’ll provide sketches and you’ll decide what you like. Use your imagination, my Lover, and dream big – fountains, statues, a small pond with koi or a large one with swans and ducks. You can have a gazebo where you can sit and talk to your girlfriends, if you want, or put a hammock in it for you and the baby to nap in. I was also thinking about putting a porch swing on the porch of the summer kitchen.”

“Ooh – I love that idea. I love porch swings.” Sookie finally heard something she liked. The rest was overwhelming. “I’m sorry you have to go to all this trouble, Sweetie.”

“This is not trouble, Sookie, this is doing what I must to keep my family safe and happy. Is this not what you want, Sookie? I can put a stop to it all if you want.”

“NO, no, not at all. I think it will be great. I just feel so bad about all this money and construction…”

“It’s being done very inexpensively once the land was purchased and the zoning resolved. That wasn’t easy, but it’s done now. The two houses are pre-fabricated kits. They’ll be very nice, but they’re very easy to put up.”

“Oh, OK. Will they have to be decorated and all?”

“Yes, but we’ll deal with that later. They’ll be suitable for living and then we’ll have Giselle finish them up for whomever decides to use them.”

“Who is that going to be?”

“We had talked about Margaret and Alicia taking one, then the other can be used by Octavia and Amelia or we can leave it for Bill or Pam, or Jason, or other guests and servants. We might want Jerry Kerik to live in, or even Vincent.”

“What about Bjorn and Bobbie?”

Bobbie took that one, saying “we talked about it, Sweetie, but Bjorn and I need to stay in the house. He’s got to stay close to keep you and Alex safe and I need to be close to help you with Alex or do your massages at night.”

“Oh, yeah – you don’t mind it, though?”

“Not at all. I love our room upstairs.”

“I like it, too. I’m right there with the gym and the sauna,” Bjorn agreed.

“OH, I forgot! Eric, can we get Bjorn some more equipment to work out with?” Sookie asked.

“Of course, Bjorn, whatever you need. I’m sure the girls could use it, too, and it would last long enough for Eric Alexander to use it, yes?”

“Yeah, that stuff lasts for years.”

“Find what you want, and have Alicia order it. Just make sure it’s good quality and will last for Alex.”

“OK, no problem. Thanks.”

“I want a kick ass treadmill, too, both here and in New Orleans,” Sookie said, bouncing up and down.

Eric laughed and kissed her on the nose, “then you shall have one,” he teased her.

“Thank you!” she kissed him on the lips quickly and hugged him around the waist.

The doorbell rang and Margaret answered the door while Bobbie and Sookie went back into the den to play with Alex, closing the door behind them. Sookie pulled the dinosaur out of the corner and let Alex see it, and he was nearly jumping in his seat when he saw it. “Bohth, Mamee!”

“Yeah, that’s Boss. Bobbie hasn’t seen him yet, have you, Bobbie?” She was unbuckling the harness on the bouncer.

“No – is that your dinosaur, Alex?”

“Omba, mmmy Bohth,” he said as Sookie put him on his belly so he could crawl to the dinosaur. Bobbie and Sookie sat on the floor next to Alex and his big blue buddy. Alex sort of crawled up on its head and gave it a kiss then he started smacking at the back of it saying “ba, Mamee!”

“Watch this, Bobbie,” Sookie unzipped the dino’s back to show the balls inside and Alex made his “Hhaaaaaa!” sound that made them both laugh as he dived into the ball pit, giggling and throwing them everywhere. Bobbie and Sookie stayed busy retrieving the balls for him and occasionally getting him to catch one. He would sit up a while, then fall forward or lie back in them and squeal with delight as they fell on him and around him. At one point he floated up above them and dropped into them, and Sookie said, “Alex! I told you – only with Daddy!”

“Dadee!” he pointed to the dining room.

“Yes, I know Daddy is up, but I mean you don’t do that unless he is right here with you! It’s not safe! You only…” she whispered “fly” then continued “with Daddy, OK?”

“Oday!”

Sookie sat back and looked at Bobbie, “yeah, he says that, but I don’t believe for a minute that he’s going to do it.”

“He’ll learn, Sookie. He’s just flexing his muscles, seeing what he can do. It’s amazing that he can do it at all, let alone control it as well as he just did.”

“Yeah, that’s true. He can do it when he wants to. He loves that when he lands in all those balls,” Sookie laughed.

“That’s every little boy’s dream, hon – he’s going to be able to do all kinds of things most boys only dream about and not get hurt. I’ll bet he hardly ever gets hurt, if at all.”

“I hope so. He’s never been hurt so we don’t know if he heals quickly or not yet.”

“I’d be very surprised if he didn’t. He seems to have every possible advantage he could have.”

“Yeah, I wonder about that…”

“Wonder what?”

“If he wasn’t designed that way. I mean, what if they put all his weaknesses somewhere else?”

“I guess that’s possible. I don’t know where they’d put them, but theoretically, if you had a second target of some sort, you could probably put all the weaknesses in one and all the strengths in the other.”

“Just speaking hypothetically, let’s say all his weaknesses went to, say a sheep or some other… animal, or something. Would that be ethical?” Sookie needed to be a little cagey but she really wanted to know about this.

“Hmmm – good question. On the surface of it, I’d say ‘no’ but it would depend. If a Goddess did it, She might have worked it out with the souls ahead of time so that both entities agreed to it.”

“A Goddess could do that – but could Niall?”

“I doubt it, Sweetie. He’s got significant limits of some sort, short of what a deity has.”

“So if Niall did it…?”

“Like I said, to me, no, it wouldn’t be ethical. It would be pretty shitty to do that to the poor animal that got all the weaknesses. Why – do you know how Niall did it?”

“No, I’m just thinking of all kinds of possibilities. I don’t trust him, Bobbie, and I need to learn enough about magick to know when he’s lying to me.”

“OK, that’s a definite goal. That’s good. You can actually do work that addresses that.”

“I can?”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s impossible to know everything about magick, but it’s totally possible to put something between him and you to make his lies more obvious to you.”

“Huh – I never thought of that.”

“That’s part of what magick is – figuring out how to approach a problem. You figure out what it is you’re really after, then you give it to the Universe and let Her work out the details.”

“So instead of trying to know everything possible… just make his lies more obvious.”

“Right. See, in that case, you wouldn’t do magick so that you’d know everything, because that isn’t really what you want. What you want is to know if he’s lying to you, so you address that specifically. Knowing everything is one way to do that, but it’s not the only, or most efficient, way to do it.”

“That’s why you guys are always saying Witches are pragmatic.”

“Right. There was a guy, Isaac Bonewits, who created the modern Druid movement in America, and he defined magick as “the art of getting results.” You decide on an outcome and you make it happen.”

“OK, so, say I wanted my yard cleared of leaves but I couldn’t rake it, so I asked the Universe to help me, then my brother came over and raked them…”

“Then your magick worked.”

“Or if the wind kicked up and blew most of them away…”

“It worked. See, Sookie, there will always be a way to explain what happens – the variable was you using your will to set it in motion. You can pray for good crops but you’re still going to have to plant the corn.”

“So casting the spell is planting the corn?”

“Right. Maybe your brother wouldn’t have been available to rake that day, or maybe it wouldn’t have been windy. Most times, you won’t know how your magick came about, so you never explain your magick away. That undermines your sense of mastery. You want it, you work it, you get it, that’s magick. Like with atomic particles – they don’t have a location until you try to measure them. The act of measuring reduces the possibilities in that instant to just one result, but the minute you stop measuring, all the potential comes back.”

“So why do scientists sneer at magick?”

“They don’t understand it, and if you try to explain it to them, they assume you don’t know what you’re talking about, even if their calculations are telling them the same thing you do. Some people get really pissy if you challenge their assumptions, even if there’s evidence to the contrary right in front of them.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen that happen plenty of times. I’ve even seen people get mad when I could read in their thoughts that they knew the other person was right!”

Bobbie cracked up at that.

“Mamee!”

“Whatcha want, Pookie?”

“Ware di Dadee do?’

“He’s still doing work, Sweetie. He’ll be in when he’s finished, OK?”

“Nah. Dadee!” He yelled and motioned for the door, opening and closing his hand in his “come here” sign.

“Alex, Daddy is busy…” Sookie was trying to be firm but before she got a chance to do or say anything else the side door from the dining room opened.

“Here, Alex, come with Daddy.” Eric swooped down and took the baby back into the dining room with him.

“I’m glad he did that,” Sookie said, “because he was getting ready to cry. Eric must have felt it.”

“That’s so cool that you guys are so tapped into him that way.”

“Yeah, it’s amazing to know what your baby is feeling all the time. It would suck if you knew they were sad and you couldn’t get to them, though,” Sookie would give anything right then to be able to tell Bobbie about the other baby. She knew she could talk to Eric about it later, but it would be nice to talk to her friend, too. It was just so big!

They could hear the men talking in the living room and soon they heard the door close. Eric, carrying Alex, and Bjorn came back into the den.

“How did it go, Sweetie?” Sookie asked Eric.

“Very well. I think we all know what we are doing. He thinks the bull dozing can be done completely this weekend with some additional workers he’s hired and the fence company coordinated with him and they’ll be done in just a day or two.”

“Wow – that’s fast!”

“Yeah, you can get things like that done when you own the construction company,” Bjorn laughed.

“What? Eric, you do?” This was news to Sookie.

“Yes, so they’re doing this before they start their next job. The fence company was a different matter, but we were able to meet their fee to expedite, so they’re being cooperative, too.”

“I’m sorry you had to come get Alex…”

“It’s fine, Sookie, I knew he was about to cry so I just took him with me since we were almost done. The engineer thought he was adorable,” Eric beamed at his little boy.

“Yeah, you guys have been really lucky so far. Whenever he’s around other people, he’s a perfect Angel,” Bjorn laughed. “And you girls should have seen his face when he looked at Vincent!”

“Yes, he took one look at him, threw his arm up and said, “víg,”” Eric told them proudly.

“Is that what you guys were laughing at?” Sookie asked.

“Yes. Vincent even pledged fealty to him before he left. He said he’s sure he’s going to be quite the warrior when he’s older,” Eric was beaming at Alex again.

“So what’s this trick he does with these balls? Eric said something about it earlier,” Bjorn asked.

“Here, we’ll show you,” Eric said as he knelt next to the ball pit. Sookie and Bobbie sat down to watch the demonstration and Bjorn perched on the arm of the recliner to get a good view. Eric laid Alex face down on the pit and he immediately floated upward, hung there a second, then fell into the pit, laughing hysterically, flailing and knocking most of the balls on the floor. Eric and Bjorn cracked up and all of the adults applauded.

“That’s pretty cool, Alex!” Bjorn was almost as proud of him as Eric was.

Alex sat up in the pit and made his come here motion, “Bhord! Woodie”

“That means “lookie,” Eric laughed.

The baby threw a ball and said “uh oh!” then said “BA!” and the ball was instantly back in his hand.

“Holy shit!” Bjorn said, “when did he learn that?”

“Sookie?” Eric asked.

“As far as I know, today when we were playing with this thing. I guess it’s just an extension of getting his own blood out of the fridge,” Sookie answered.

“Wow – that could be… inconvenient,” Bjorn tried not to laugh but failed.

“Yes, we’ll have to keep a close eye on him, especially if he’s out around people,” Eric agreed.

“Yeah, we’re all going to have to be on our toes with him doing things like that, at least until he’s old enough to know when not to do it,” Bobbie agreed.

“How many people know of this, Sookie?” Eric asked.

“Well, Amelia and Octavia know about him getting his own bloods, but I haven’t mentioned this to either of them, so as of right now, just the four of us.”

“Well, they should probably know so they can help us run interference. Let’s try to keep this from the staff if at all possible, but I know that will be difficult.”

“DO-EE!” Suddenly the purple dragon, which had been next to the bouncer, was in Alex’s hand as a little breeze blew.

“Oh, man,” was all Sookie could say.

“Well, you won’t have to worry about him losing his toys,” Bobbie laughed.

“No, and remember, Sookie, your ability to do that will keep you from losing him,” Bjorn added, trying to be helpful.

“Yeah, I guess so…” Sookie was wondering if that would work for Aubie, and made a mental note to mention it when she talked to Dr. Ludwig. She wouldn’t try it until she asked about it because she couldn’t risk hurting him. While she was thinking about it, she let out a huge yawn. “OOOhhhh-ooh! Excuse me!”

“Sookie are you sleepy already?” Bobbie asked her.

“I shouldn’t be – we took a nap today.”

“Yes, but you were up very early today, Dear One,” Eric reminded her.

“Yeah, I guess I was. You’ve got work to do, right, Eric?”

“Yes, I do.”

“OK, then, I’ll sleep, and you wake me later and we’ll have a bath and some time together, right?”

“Right.”

“And you will, without fail, even if I’m asleep, make sure you feed me.”

“Yes, I will.”

“And I guess Alex will stay with you?”

“Yes, and I’ll give him a bottle when he gets hungry in about an hour and I’ll tuck him in next to you, then after we have our time later, I’ll have quiet time with him before I rest.”

“Huh – so I guess this is our new schedule?”

“At least for these two weeks, so you get plenty of rest.”

“OK… good night, everybody!” Sookie kissed Alex and headed out the door, when Bobbie said called to her, “Hey, Sookie – here, take your book with you, and I’ll be up in a few minutes and give you a massage.”

“You were going to watch a movie, though…”

“No, that’s cool – I’ll hit the gym while she does that…”

“Bjorn – would you mind if we joined you?” Eric said, picking up the baby.

“Not at all – are you guys going to work out?”

“I want to see what a good workout consists of, and we can talk about the new equipment you need.”

“OK, Sure.

“Eric – when you wake Sookie later, she should eat something. She’s only had two meals today,” Bobbie reminded him.

“True. Margaret is in the kitchen…”

“I’ll see what she’s got for her and take it up and leave it on the dresser or in the fridge,” she kissed Bjorn on the cheek, “I’ll see you in a bit, Sweetie.” Then she tickled Alex, “I’ll see you later, cutie-pie!”

“Ba-ba, Babee!” he giggled, as Eric and Bjorn headed upstairs and Bobbie went into the kitchen.

Sookie wasn’t even to her room yet when the boys came up the steps behind her. “Hey, where’s everybody going?”

“We’re going to the gym,” Eric told her.

“Oh, male bonding time, huh? The Swedish he-man warrior club?” she laughed.

“Exactly,” Bjorn said, and he, Eric and Alex all laughed as they continued past her.

Sookie just went ahead and got naked because she knew Bobbie wouldn’t care, and she turned the bed down, wondering to herself who came up and made it after their nap. She flopped onto Eric’s side of the bed and wiggled to the middle, rolling face down but up on her elbows to look at the book.

Sookie remembered her Gran using the bible where she’d flip through it and let her finger land on a spot that had something to say to her, so she flipped through the book, closed her eyes and read:

This means there is no division between body and soul. One is not despised and the other glorified. There is no division of the sexes; both come from the same source, the Mother. There is no division of spiritual and profane; all is related in the universe, and none stands apart from nature. All is Nature. ( Zsuzsanna Budapest, Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, Pg.21)

‘Sounds just like Octavia!’ she thought, ‘try it again…’ which she did and landed on:

And you who think to seek for me

Know your seeking and yearning shall avail you not 

Unless you know the Mystery:

That if that which you seek you find not within you, 

You will never find it without.

For behold, I have been with you from the beginning

And I am that which is attained At the end of desire.

‘OK, that’s from the Charge of the Goddess. “Seeking and yearning will avail you not…” so I shouldn’t have to look for the Goddess, She’s already here.’

“Hey, Sweetie!” Bobbie came in carrying a huge turkey sandwich.

“What’s that?”

“That’s for you to eat after while. We’re trying to make sure you get three meals a day, minimum.” She left the sandwich on the dresser.

“Oh, yeah. Bobbie, I’m looking at this book…”

“And…” She grabbed the bottle of massage oil from Eric’s nightstand and warmed some in her hands.

“I happened to open it to the Charge of the Goddess and I’m thinking about how you don’t need to seek for the Goddess because She’s already with you?”

“Uh-huh?” She was already rubbing Sookie’s back, really digging in to relax her.

“So, I should just be able to speak to Her directly, right, and She’ll hear me?”

“Right.”

“So what’s the point of the ritual?”

“Have you ever moved a TV antennae to get better reception?”

“Yeah, of course,”

“That’s what ritual does. It tunes you in so you get better reception and a clearer picture.”

“So it’s for me, not for the Goddess?”

“Well, sometimes we call the Goddess to praise Her and thank Her, but when we do work, we’re usually trying to perfect our own connection to Her so Her power flows more smoothly and powerfully to help us. Ritual changes the magician, first and foremost. Change yourself and you change everything.”

“Niall said that the Goddess is waiting for me to call on Her and mean it.”

“Right. I mean, you could say that about anybody, but it’s specifically true of you right now.”

“I didn’t tell anybody, but I was looking at invocations to Freyja on the web yesterday, among other things. They all look so complicated and I’d feel weird saying some of that stuff.”

“Did they feel like they have any power for you at all?”

“No, most of it I couldn’t relate to. It wouldn’t make me feel powerful to say some of that stuff, it would bore me.”

“OK, so write your own.”

“Can I do that?”

“Yeah, some of the best stuff is stuff that comes from you.”

“Isn’t there more power in something old, though?”

“No, not necessarily. Wicce is a living tradition, which means that we are constantly evolving new ways to practice it, rather than having a static text that no longer has significance in our world. You could write the most powerful spell ever, right this minute. Or I could. Anyone might, or could, but the thing is, do it. See if it works for you. Take stuff from things other people have written and put them together so they flow for you, or start from scratch.”

“Do they have to rhyme?”

“Well, it depends on you. Generally, if they have a good sing-song rhyme to them, they flow better and they’re easier to remember. That’s especially good for short ones you’re going to repeat.”

“OK, like, there was one that was really long, and I think some group uses it on a regular basis, but there was one verse that kind of stuck with me but I changed it a little.”

“Do you remember it?”

“Yeah, it was:

BY THE SACRED EARTH WE CALL THEE

BY THE MOON AND STARS AND SUN!

THOU ART THE ONE THAT WE ADORE

O COME UPON US SHINING ONE!

Which I changed in my head to:

BY THE SACRED EARTH I CALL YOU

BY THE MOON AND STARS AND SUN!

FREYJA, I IMPLORE YOU,

COME TO ME, O SHINING ONE!

Is there any chance at all that could work?”

“Actually, Sookie, there’s a very good chance that could work. Why don’t you say it three times before you go to sleep and see if you dream of Her? Make sure you write it in your journal, too, and then write if you got any result.”

“Why three times?”

“Three is a magickal number. It represents the Trinity of Maiden, Mother and Crone. It’s also a prime number, sacred to the Goddess. You might also want to say it 9 times, which is three times three, or 27 times, which is three times three times three.”

“I’d lose count on the 27.”

“Which is why they invented rosaries and Witches’ Ladders.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a string with knots in it. You tie the knots as you say your verse, then you can use the knots to count repetitions when you do it later. Then you wear the string in your clothes until your spell works.”

Sookie yawned again.

“You’re fading, Darlin’. Just say your spell and let yourself go,” Bobbie encouraged her.

Sookie started saying the spell, and did actually manage to get through it three times before she fell asleep.

Bobbie washed her hands and turned out the lights, closing the door so Sookie could sleep undisturbed. She decided to go up to the gym and see what the boys were doing.

As Eric, Bjorn and the baby arrived in the gym, Alex looked around with big eyes, zeroing in immediately on the swords on the wall. Before even Eric could react, Alex flew toward the swords on the wall, yelling “Vbee, Dadee, Vbee!” but fortunately, he didn’t touch them. As Eric got to him, he was hovering in front of them yelling, “Woodie, Dadee! VBEE!” and pointing. Eric wrapped his arms around him and said, “Yes, my son, those are swords for fighting.” He had panicked a little that the baby might get hurt, but once he knew he was safe, he was bursting with pride that Alex knew what they were for.

All of this happened so quickly that Bjorn barely saw them move, but when he saw Alex floating and heard him get excited about the swords, he cracked up. “That is definitely your kid, Eric!”

“Yes, he is spoiling for a fight,” Eric laughed, kissing Alex.

“Sthorhds por fideen! Woodie, Borhd, sthorhds por FIDEEN!”

“Yeah, those are for fighting. Wait ’til you see your Daddy swing one of those swords!

“Ee-aah! Sthorhds, Dadee, sthorhds!” Alex was clearly asking Eric to show him the swords.

“Hold him tightly, Bjorn, and I’ll go through some paces.” Eric handed him the baby. “Alex – you stay with Bjorn, OK?”

“Oday, Dadee, Borhd,” Alex put one arm around Bjorn’s neck and patted his cheek with the other.

Bjorn took the baby and sat on the weight bench toward the end of the room as Eric took down the expensive Tachi. Eric stood facing the mirror, taking a few good swings to loosen up, then he went through an impressive routine as Bjorn and the excited infant watched. Alex was waving his arms, watching Eric with huge eyes, giggling and squealing, completely enthralled watching his Daddy show off his expertise with a blade. Bjorn was enjoying watching Alex’s reaction even more than watching Eric. He didn’t blame the kid – if he had a Daddy like that, he’d have been proud of him, too. Hell, he was only Bjorn’s boss and that made him proud.

Bobbie came in as Eric was going through his routine and she walked back toward Bjorn and Alex.

“Babee! Sthorhds por FIDEEN!”

“Swords for fighting?” She looked at Bjorn to see if she was interpreting that right.

“Yep – he went crazy when he saw them. Eric’s showing us how it’s done.”

“That’s amazing that he can move like that,” she said and then “WOW!” when Eric kicked into Vampire speed and moved almost too quickly to see. Alex squealed and clapped his hands and messed his pants.

“Uh-oh. Somebody needs a new diaper,” Bjorn laughed.

“Let me take him,” Bobbie laughed.

Eric finished as he saw her head for the door. “Time for a new diaper?”

“Yep! Tell Daddy, ‘be right back!” she said to Alex.

“Bee wide bad, Dadee!”

“Alright, my son. Get cleaned up and we will watch Bjorn, OK?”

“ODAY!” Alex waved to him as they headed down the hall.

“You should have seen his face, Eric. Talk about excited!” Bjorn laughed.

“Yes, I look forward to the day I can teach him to use a sword, but I must confess, I enjoy him so much now that I’m happy to wait.”

“He’s a cool kid. He’s so small but he’s got such personality. He knows what he likes.”

“Yes, even before he was born he would let Sookie know what he wanted her to eat. He knows his own mind, and is already decisive,” Eric laughed. “I was so proud watching him hover over the balls downstairs and then fall into them laughing. I know Sookie was aghast, but I am very pleased to see him showing such abilities already.”

“He did scare you a little just now though, right?”

“Yes, very briefly, but I feel better knowing that he had the good sense to stop and not touch the swords. He is enthusiastic, but not reckless. That gives me hope that he won’t hurt himself.”

“Honestly, I don’t think hurting himself is going to be a problem. Hurting someone else is more likely.”

“Really?”

“Yes, see, he’s got Vampire speed, at least and maybe even Vampire strength. He might not understand that everybody can’t do what he can do. That’s a common problem even with human teenagers, projecting their own abilities onto others.”

“I never thought of that. I’ll have to be sure to teach him early on to be careful with Sookie and the other women. Now, your work out – what do you normally do?”

Bjorn showed Eric how he warmed up with martial arts and jumping rope, then he showed him how he used the free weights to isolate various muscles. Eric asked him about the new equipment, what the machines would do, and how big Alex would have to be before he could use them. Bobbie came back with Alex as Eric and Bjorn were talking and Alex flew out of her hands and over to Eric like a shot.

“Ahm fyeen, Dadee!”

“Yes, I see you flying. This is a nice big room – do you want to fly around it for a bit?”

“OMBA!”

“Alright then, fly!” Eric encouraged him and he took to the air, flying through the air near the ceiling, occasionally dipping down and then going back up. At one point, he noticed the mirror and went to hover in front of it. Eric walked over to him, saying, “What do you see, Alex?”

“Aweths?”

“Yes, that’s Alex. That’s you, and that’s me.”

Alex looked at the mirror image of Eric and then up at his Daddy beside him. He hovered up a bit and Eric wrapped his arms around him. Alex looked at them both in the mirror and Alex said, “Dadee an beebee.”

“Daddy and a baby – yes, Alex is a baby.”

Alex put his hand on Eric’s cheek and said, “Nah, Dadee, beebee nah Aweths.”

Eric was shocked because he knew exactly what Alex was telling him – that there was a baby that wasn’t him. Eric looked him straight in the eye, “Alex, you are my baby. I love you always. Understand? Alex is Daddy’s baby, OK?”

“Oday, Dadee.” Alex laid his little head on Eric’s shoulder, content that Eric was HIS daddy and not that other baby’s daddy. That’s exactly the way Alex wanted it.

Sookie was dreaming. She was on the shore again, climbing on rocks, wearing a long white robe and nothing else, but the rocks didn’t hurt her feet.

“Come, my Angel!” Freyja beckoned to her and Sookie was instantly in front of her, but she felt strange – was this a dream? Was she awake? Or was this that “lucid dreaming” Bobbie told her about? Freyja kissed Sookie on the lips and she felt a tingle of energy run through her. The Goddess stood behind Sookie facing the rocks and said “East, Sookie, follow the sun.” Then She took her hand, which was suddenly holding a knife with a curved blade, pointing the tip of the knife out to the ground and said, “thrice around,” then She and Sookie moved together in a circle, tracing a visible circle of energy in the sand. “Look, Sookie!”

Sookie looked up and she was in a strange, small room with a crib, and she instantly recognized Eric Auberon. The baby smiled up at her, and without thinking twice, Sookie put him to her breast, feeding him. Freyja, still behind her, said “33” and pointed at a clock that was only light shining on the wall. “Once in 3, my Angel, no more.” Sookie was alone with her baby, and sat in a wooden rocking chair next to the crib, playing with his fingers and smiling at him, speaking softly to him as he fed.

“Ware di Mamee do?” Alex asked Eric, and Eric wondered that himself. Something in the bond felt strange, so Eric excused himself and took Alex downstairs to check on Sookie. He looked into the bedroom, but she wasn’t there. He thought she must have gone downstairs, but he couldn’t feel her anywhere in the house.

“Ee, Dadee!”

“Alright, Alex, we’ll take a bottle into the nursery. Mommy will be back in a minute.” He took a bottle of RM into the nursery and heated it, as Alex began to fuss. “Mamee ee!”

“Alex, relax, Mommy will be back in a minute. Let’s have some RM while we wait.”

Sookie was careful to feed Aubie from each breast, and he fell asleep as the light marking time on the wall began to pulsate and glow. Sookie gently tucked the baby back into his crib and before she knew it she was lying in her bed, in her house, awake and crying.

“MA-MEE!” Alex started wailing though Eric was trying to feed him an RM. He had only seen Alex this upset once, when he left him to go to the office. Eric thought to himself that he was acting like Sookie was gone. Suddenly, Eric felt Sookie in the bond and she was feeling very sad, so he took Alex, who was still wailing, back into the bedroom.

“Sookie?”

“Eric? What’s going on?” Sookie squinted at the light from the hall.

“Where have you been, Sookie?” Eric brought the baby in and let Sookie take him.

“Huh? I was asleep,” she said as she put Alex to her breast. She and Alex both had tears streaming from their eyes as Eric turned on the soft light in the headboard.

“Sookie, we came in about 10 minutes ago and you weren’t here.” He reached across her to her nightstand and got a tissue, wiping Sookie’s eyes, then Alex’s.

“Eric, I’ve been right here. I was dreaming until you came in, so I had to be here.”

“What did you dream?”

“I dreamt I was with Freyja and then I was feeding…” she stopped.

“Alex?”

“No, Eric, it was…” she didn’t know if she should say it in front of Alex, “the other… you know?”

“What?”

“Freyja showed me how to get there, but I could only stay 33 minutes and then I was back here.”

“You were there for 33 minutes?’

“Yes, and She said I could only do it once in three, and no more.”

“Three what?”

“Days, I guess?”

“Where is your journal, Sookie?”

“I don’t know – maybe in my tote bag. I had it downstairs today but I didn’t see it when we were down there before.”

Eric looked around the room. “Here it is.” He went to the side chair near the bathroom. “Margaret must have brought it back up for you.”

“OK, why do we need it?”

“I want you to write every detail you can remember of that dream. I mean everything, Sookie – what you were wearing, what you saw, what you felt, every word She said, the way She said it.”

“You don’t really think…”

“Yes, Sookie, I think you were actually there. I want you to remember what She told you and try it again – when did She say you could do it again?”

“Once in three… days, I guess, so what day is this?”

“This is Thursday – so you should be able to try it again Sunday night. What did you do there?”

“I breastfed him and talked to him, then when the light started flashing I tucked him back in, then the next thing I knew, I was lying here crying and then you came in.”

“Alright, it’s about 20 minutes to one – you must have gone there just after midnight.”

“You’re sure I wasn’t here?”

“No, Sookie, you weren’t, and I couldn’t feel you in the bond, either. I think that’s why Alex started crying. You simply weren’t there, then suddenly, I felt you, so we came back and here you are.”

Sookie just shook her head like she was trying to clear it, then she smiled down at the baby and said, “I love you, Pookie!”

Alex reached up and patted Sookie’s face, looking her in the eye. He let out a big sigh and said, “Ma Mamee,” as he went to sleep.

Sookie tucked him into the co-sleeper and Eric got undressed and got in bed. He hugged Sookie tightly then insisted she write the dream in her book. It took her a while to write about it, because she remembered it vividly and put a lot of detail in her description of everything.

“All She had me do was point the knife at the ground and trace a circle around me three times and I was there. It can’t be that simple, can it?”

“There was no other instruction?”

“She started me facing East, and She said “follow the sun.””

“So you start in the East and turn three times clockwise.”

“Is that what she meant by “following the sun?”

“Yes – the Witches might call it “deosil” but that’s what it means.”

“OK, is there a word for counter-clockwise?”

“Widdershins.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Good word! So I guess my Invocation I said earlier tonight works.”

“You said an invocation and it worked?”

“Yeah, I found a thing on the web and I rewrote it and Bobbie told me to say it three times before I went to sleep and it worked.”

“Did you write it down?”

“No, I forgot.”

“Write it, and then say if for me.”

She scribbled in her journal for a minute then she read it to him:

BY THE SACRED EARTH I CALL YOU

BY THE MOON AND STARS AND SUN!

FREYJA, I IMPLORE YOU,

COME TO ME, O SHINING ONE!”

“Short, direct and, apparently, effective.”

“Seems too easy, doesn’t it?”

“I think for an average Witch it probably is, but you are already much more powerful than you know. Niall said She’s waiting for you to make up your mind, and the minute you did, you called Her up and She taught you a spell. Octavia will tell you if this is correct, but I believe the more you use that spell, the stronger it will become.”

“Really?”

“Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.”

“That makes sense. Bobbie told me you use what works and forget the rest. Speaking of which…” she suddenly got up and straddled his legs, giving him a wicked look.

“Yes?” He said slyly.

“Let’s make it rain sparkles,” she said as she stroked him. He was hard instantly and she mounted him carefully, but quickly got focused on fucking him. Eric sat up and grabbed her lower cheeks, helping her move up and down as she wrapped her arms around his neck and they pressed their foreheads together. It didn’t take long before he came with a growl, but he kept going as Sookie continued to grind on him wildly. Eric reached into his drawer for his dagger, then came right back to her, forehead to forehead. Sookie was starting to moan and he knew she was close, so he pushed himself to meet her and leaned back, cutting himself on his shoulder. She latched onto the wound and he bit her opposite shoulder, which wasn’t easy but they managed to make a complete circuit and just instinctively began to suck in unison. For some reason, Sookie found herself counting how many draws they took and when they hit 9, the world exploded in pink light and they were coming together in a whirlwind, light spinning around them as they both leaned back and gave into the sensation. When Sookie was able to speak she said “Freyja, help me know how to get my other baby,” and the light exploded in sparkles as the two of them went wild.

Eric flipped her on her knees and she grabbed the headboard, but that didn’t last long – there was too much movement on the bed, so he lifted her from behind and put her on the floor on her hands and knees, slamming her like never before. They were both gone – both high from each other’s blood, from the magick, from the sex, from their anger at Niall, from their love for each other and their children. They had no idea how long it lasted but it felt like hours before Sookie let out a growl that Eric would have sworn came from a Vampiress, reaching another peak just before he finished, crying out with each hard thrust. She crumpled on the floor and Eric fell back on his ankles then lost his balance completely and fell backward. He flashed through his mind that Vampires who could fly usually didn’t fall and that made him laugh out loud.

When he remembered where he was he immediately became concerned about Sookie. No, no sign of bleeding, but she was out of breath and out of her head. He picked her up and put her back in the bed, lying beside her, talking to her and stroking her face. Finally, she took a big breath and let it out completely and she seemed to snap back into herself.

“Wow!” was all she could say, and Eric laughed.

“How do you feel, Sookie? Are you in pain?”

“No, not at all. I do feel like I’m vibrating all over, though.”

“Is it unpleasant? Should I get Bobbie or Octavia?”

“No, that’s not necessary, it’s just a strange feeling. Like my whole body fell asleep, even my face and scalp and the circulation is just starting up again. That feels good when you stroke my cheek that way.”

“Like this?” He stroked her cheek, then her shoulder.”

“Yeah, do that all over me.” She rolled on her back and stretched out, her hands reaching above her head, as Eric gently stroked and kissed her arms, breasts, stomach, down her legs to her feet, then he moved slowly back up. “Mmmm – that’s perfect,” she purred.

Eric smiled and kept caressing her as he lay back beside her. Finally, she moved into his arms and he held her until she fell asleep. He set up the monitor and then went to work, trying the whole time not to think about the Faerie twin.

Eric was not convinced that there would be a solution and he wouldn’t allow himself to think that he might not really want one. Eric had been very relieved when Alex had been born Vampire. This other child was definitely Fae. He wouldn’t let himself think those thoughts and he tried to ignore those feelings. Of course, he would want his son, he tried to tell himself, and Sookie was going to benefit from this process – he had already seen that. And she had already managed to be with him, to touch him. This would drive Sookie to explore her gifts in a way nothing else could have. Eric wondered if that were not part of the plan all along. If that were the case, there probably would be a solution at some point to reward Sookie’s hard work.

How would they explain a second child? Everyone knew when Alex was born. Could that child be around Vampires at all? Would it be in danger from its own father? Alex’s development was spectacular – this other would always seem younger, be smaller, have many weaknesses. Would he have the heart of a warrior, as Alex clearly did? Would it matter in a child with so many weaknesses?

Most importantly, would the second child reduce the resources available for Alex? Money was not an issue, of course, but Sookie’s time and attention were finite, and so was his, particularly while they were King and Queen. There was also the matter of Niall’s position on the Council – Eric was determined to see that it passed down to Alex, no matter what. Niall was very old. If he didn’t become immortal soon, the seat would have to be filled, and frankly, Eric would be quite pleased to hold the office until Alex was grown. Eric was not particularly ambitious, but if his goal was to have as much time as possible for his family, the Council was much preferable to administering a kingdom.

It occurred to Eric that he had no one to talk to about this, and to his great surprise, he wanted someone. He didn’t want Sookie to think that he wouldn’t love his own son. He prayed that he would, if he were given the opportunity. This was probably a baseless fear, so he was not going to burden her with it. She needed clear focus to do her work.

If he were going to talk about this, there were only two possibilities. Bill was the most obvious, but that might give Bill a wedge to use against him with Sookie so that was no good. Eric knew he probably had nothing to fear from Bill since they were married, but there was no point in tempting fate… or Bill, for that matter.

The second possibility was Bjorn. He was becoming a good friend, in spite of being a Were, and he knew without a doubt that Bjorn was fond of Alex. He also knew that if Bjorn ever touched Sookie, it would only be when and if Eric allowed it. There was also a very real possibility that they would have to tell Bjorn about the situation anyway, because this sort of magick could impact Sookie’s physical safety in several ways. He might have to have Bjorn stand guard when Sookie was in her altar room, and Bjorn needed to know any time Sookie left the premises as she had done tonight. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that Bjorn had to know what was going on.

Eric could hear someone in the second floor kitchen and decided to see who it was. He zipped down the stairs and found Bjorn getting a bowl of Special K and some organic milk before he went to sleep.

“Hey, Eric – everything alright? It was a little loud on your floor for a while, then it got really quiet,” he laughed.

“Yes, we were very active earlier,” Eric laughed, “but Sookie is asleep now. Do you have a few minutes to talk, Bjorn, or do you need to get back right away?”

“No, I can talk.”

“Alright, bring your cereal and let’s go down to the den where we can have some privacy.”

They moved quietly down to the den, and Bjorn knew this was serious because Eric was making sure no one was able to hear them.

“There is a matter concerning my family that you must know about. You know that Niall’s magick enabled Sookie to have Alex, yes?”

“Yes, and I know you don’t trust Niall.”

“With good reason. It seems that the magick he performed was not entirely successful. There were two children created, but the other is trapped in the world of the Fae.”

“Oh my god – does Sookie know about this?”

“I told her today. I only found out myself last night.”

“How is she taking the news?”

“She is furious with Niall and determined to learn enough about magick to set the situation aright.”

“OK, that’s the best possible reaction you could have hoped for…”

“Yes, and I’m very proud of her. You heard that Octavia is going to be training her in magick very actively – I’m wondering if you should stand guard when Sookie is in the altar room they’re going to set up?”

“Yeah, probably, if only to make sure she isn’t disturbed.”

“I should warn you that I believe she will be moving between the worlds as she works.”

“Wow – you think she’ll be that good at it?”

“I think she already is. I’m pretty sure she went to Faerie earlier tonight.”

“Damn – that’s big magick, Eric. I know she’s anointed or chosen or whatever, but do you know what they have planned for her?”

“Niall claims that they intend for her to eventually join the Living Pantheon.”

“In addition to Freyja?”

“Yes.”

“You realize that some people will not want that to happen…”

“Yes, I’m quite aware that it could make her a target for some very powerful forces.”

“When do they think this will happen?”

“Niall said many years from now, but he told me it would take a decade or so to become king.”

“And it took…”

“About 12 days.”

“Damn.”

“Indeed.”

“I don’t suppose you know how she managed to travel to Faery tonight?”

“Yes, she saw something on the web, rewrote it to suit her, and said it three times before she went to sleep.”

“She wrote a spell?”

“Basically. It was only four lines.”

“She mumbled a few lines and transported herself to Faery?”

“Well, the spell invoked Freyja and Freyja taught her the spell.”

Bjorn whistled. “That is one magickal little Queen you’ve got there.”

“Yes, she is.”

“This other baby – it’s Faerie, right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“If Sookie succeeds in getting that baby, are you going to be able to raise it?”

“I hope so, because I believe Freyja will eventually tell her how to do it.”

“Is he identical to Alex?”

“Only genetically. He is aging normally, has several weaknesses, and he will probably always seem younger and be smaller.”

“So no chance of having two little Vikings?”

“Not likely, no.”

“You can’t be too thrilled about that?”

“I am ambivalent. I assume that, if he is my child, I will love him, but I admit, I am worried. I will never speak of this to Sookie…”

“No, I wouldn’t expect you to. She’s a mother – she’d never understand it. It’s different with fathers… and Kings.”

Alex cried then and Eric responded instantly, zipping up the stairs to keep him from waking Sookie. He scooped him up and took a bottle from the little fridge, then they went into the nursery for their quiet time together.

Alex seemed very tired tonight, which Eric attributed to all the flying and playing he had done that day. He rocked him and talked to him as he fed from the bottle eagerly, holding onto Eric’s wrist with both hands, watching him with his big bright eyes. When he finished the bottle, Eric brought him up to his shoulder, and Alex laid his head down, twirling Eric’s long hair in his fingers as he snuggled into his Daddy’s neck.

Alex fell asleep quickly but Eric held the baby as long as he possibly could, only tucking him into the co-sleeper when the sun was nearly up so he had to rush down to his cache before light came in the windows. Eric was a little sad and a little hopeful as he waited for sleep, thinking about his two sons.

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