LATE Chapter 079

 

A Walk Between Worlds

 

Alicia came into the bedroom to make sure Sookie and Alex were all right. Neither had been up yet and it was nearly 1 in the afternoon. She saw that Sookie was breathing normally and the baby was sucking his thumb so she knew he was probably fine. Maybe they had a busy night?

She picked up the clothing strewn about the room and was about to leave when Alex softly called “Mamee!” so she rushed over to him. She looked into those deep blue eyes and smiled. “Good morning, Baby E.”

“Ah, Eesh!”

“Will you drink a bottle for me today?”

“Nah, Eesh, Mamee ee.”

“Alright, then,” she picked him up and helped him get settled with Sookie, who stirred a bit when Alex began to suckle, wrapping her arms around him. “Good morning, Mrs. Northman.”

“Hey – I missed you yesterday!”

“I missed you both, too. I managed to get all my packing done, though, so I’ll be living here as of tomorrow.”

“YAY! Do you need help moving?”

“I’ve got that all worked out. I should have it all under roof before you even wake up.”

“Cool!”

“Ready for some breakfast?”

“I should go down and eat with the others…”

“Nobody’s eating, hon. Bobbie and Octavia are shopping and Bjorn is seeing to the work outside and the clearing of a room for you in the basement, I think?”

“Oh, yeah. OK, well…”

“You lie still. I was told you’re supposed to sleep late, eat well, play with the baby and read your book, so get comfy and I’ll be back with some salmon and bagels before you know it.”

“YAY!”

Alex gave a muffled giggle when Sookie said that, but he was feeding intensely and didn’t stop.

“Oh, you think that’s funny, do you? Well go ahead and laugh but Mommy loves that stuff. Come to think of it, you used to get awfully happy when I ate it, too. Maybe I’ll mash some up and let you try a taste.”

Sookie played with Alex’s little fingers, closing her eyes and relaxing, listening to the noises outside. She could hear men yelling and bulldozers pushing things around and another sound that she was pretty sure had to do with digging for the new fences.

“I wonder if Bjorn will let us go outside and see what’s going on, Alex? He might not want us out with strange people around, but I’d sure like for you to see the big trucks. You’ve never seen anything like that before! Would you like to see the big trucks, Pookie?”

“Dwudt?”

“Yeah, truck. There are big old trucks and bulldozers out there working for Daddy.”

“Daddy seepeen?”

“Yeah, Daddy’s sleeping, but Bjorn is making sure they do what they’re supposed to.”

“Oday.”

He had apparently finished eating so Sookie sat him up on her ribcage the way she liked to and sang “Let’s Twist Again” while she helped him dance. Alex loved this, because this is when it was just he and his Mommy and all of her attention was on him. He already knew that if other people were around, Mommy paid attention to them, too, and that wasn’t as much fun as this was. He loved it when Mommy was smiling just for him. She would tickle him, and kiss him and hug him and it made him feel warm all over. He giggled and squealed and when she pulled him forward and hugged him he said “ma Mamee.”

“Aw – yeah, Pookie, I’m your Mommy, and you’re my sweet boy.” She scratched his back a little and he hugged her back as she kissed him and cuddled him until Alicia came back with breakfast. Sookie had him on Eric’s side of the bed, blowing raspberries on his belly when Alicia came in. “Oh, boy! Breakfast time!” she teased him. “Thank you, Alicia.”

“Day-oo, Eesh!” Alex said, which made the women laugh and he loved getting that reaction. He was already learning how to play cute for people, and he loved the positive reactions it got him.

“You’re welcome, Alex. I made a little sort of salmon mousse just for you, too.”

“Oh, wow, lookie, Sweetie – Alicia brought you your own little dish!”

“You want me to feed him while you eat?”

“Sure, I’ll bet he’d like that.”

Alicia picked Alex up, giving him a snuggle and a kiss and she took him to the side table. Sookie handed her the little dish and she fed him little bites with his baby spoon as she held him in her lap.

“Mmmm!’ Alex said, looking in the dish trying to figure out what it was.

“You like that, Pookie?” Sookie asked him as she piled up a bagel with cream cheese and salmon. “That’s salmon.”

“Sthama?”

“Yeah, salmon. Is it good?”

“Ee-ah, dood!” He was waving his arms, and opening his mouth for another bite. Alicia was getting the biggest kick out of him being so enthusiastic. He was such a doll when he was excited, and food got him very excited.

“He’s loving that, Alicia – thank you for making that for him!”

“Oh, it was no big deal – I just put some salmon, a little cream cheese and milk in a food processor. Most babies wouldn’t eat something like this but I had a feeling Alex might like it since you ate it so often when you were carrying him.”

“Well, he’s definitely liking it. Eric will like that. He says fish is brain food.”

“It is and it’s good quality protein for building muscle, too.”

Alex patted Alicia on the arm, “bi!”

“Oops, you need another bite, Baby E?” She teased him and scrunched her nose at him, which he tried to copy in a completely adorable way.

“Do you think Bjorn will let me take him outside to see the big trucks? He’s never seen anything like that.”

“He might insist on being with you, but I think he’d let you go out for a few minutes anyway. Alex will get a kick out of those big bulldozers.”

“Cool. I want to take a quick shower when I get done.”

“Do you want me to help you with him in the shower?”

“If you don’t mind, yeah. He loves it and so do I.”

“Sure, no problem. Did I mention that Amelia might come back with Bobbie and Octavia?”

“No, cool! Did she call?”

“Bobbie talked to her – she was going to meet them at the health food store and shop with them, then she’ll follow them back in her car. She said she’s got the night off so she wanted to come see the baby.”

“Oh, good!”

“I thought since it’s a little cloudy, but not supposed to rain, you might want to have a cookout and we’ll make burgers for the guards and everyone working on the construction.”

“Oh, I love that idea! Yeah, let’s do that. Eric would like that, too, I’m sure.”

Alicia gave the baby back to Sookie while she laid out a nice navy short set that had a nautical style to it with a square collar and little anchors, then helped her take a quick shower with the baby. She diapered Alex while Sookie got dressed, then Sookie and Alex headed downstairs while Alicia made her bed and cleared away her dishes.

Sookie poked her head out the front door to see if she could see Bjorn. “Good morning, your majesty!” Harold was out front.

“Hi, Harold. Is Bjorn around? Is he really busy?”

“Hang on, I’ll ask him.” Harold called Bjorn on what Sookie figured was a type of walkie-talkie and Bjorn said he’d be right there.

“Hey, Sookie!” Bjorn greeted her with a big smile as he came around the house.

“Good morning!”

“Dood mona, Borhd!”

“Hey, Alex!” Bjorn tickled Alex and made him giggle.

“I was wondering if it was OK if I took Alex out to see the big trucks?”

“Sure, it should be OK – let me walk out with you, though, alright?”

“OK, I just don’t want to take you away from your work.”

“No problem at all. If they need me, they’ll buzz me,” he indicated the little phone or whatever it was.

Bjorn and Sookie walked out toward the front of the lot where the bulldozers were tearing up the ground inside the fence line that was going up. “Wow – the lot’s going to be huge!” Sookie could see where the surveyors had staked off the boundaries of the property and there were guards stationed periodically along the perimeter.

“Yeah,” Bjorn agreed, “there will be plenty of room between us and the road. Eric may do some brick work out toward the back to make it even safer, but just getting these fences up will help enormously.

It took a while, but eventually they got to where the bulldozers were running.

“Lookie, Alex! Aren’t they big?”

“OMBA, BID! Ewwo, Mommy!” He was waving his little arms and pointing, his eyes huge as they watched the huge machines tear up the ground.

“Ewwo? You mean yellow? Yeah, they are yellow! That’s really good!”

“When did he learn colors?” Bjorn asked.

“I have no idea – I’ve never worked on colors with him. Maybe from those books Eric reads to him?”

“Ee-ah, Dadee ewwo bood.”

“Daddy showed you yellow in a book?”

“Ee-ah!”

“Is he trying to say “yeah?”‘ Bjorn asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Sookie laughed.

“Hey, do you know these guys?” Bjorn indicated some men on some of the dozers waving at Sookie, yelling her name.

“I don’t know – do I?”

One man jumped off his dozer and ran in Sookie’s direction.

“Jason!”

“Your brother?”

“Yes! I wonder what he’s doing here? He’ll get to see Alex! Lookie, Alex, that’s your Uncle Jason running toward us.”

“Una Dastha?

“Yeah, he’s my brother, your uncle,” she explained as Jason reached the three of them.

“Hey, Sookie! Hey, Bjorn!” He shook Bjorn’s hand.

“Hey, yourself! What are you doing here?’ Sookie was tickled to death.

“A guy Catfish knew was offering big bucks for a job that had to get done this week end, so me, him and Hoyt took a vacation day today and we’re going to work all weekend. Is this for your husband?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“I told those guys I thought we were real close to your new house. So what’d he do, buy up all this land around you?”

“Yeah, that’s what he did. He wants fences all around the outside of it. He thinks it will be safer for us.”

“That got somethin’ to do with him bein’ King now?”

“Yeah, exactly. He wants to make sure it’s safe for Alex to play outside and stuff.”

“Yeah, hey, is this my little nephew?’

“Yep, this is Eric Alexander, but we call him Alex. Alex, this is your Uncle Jason!”

“Ah!” Alex waved at him.

“Hi, little fella! Wow – he already knows to wave and say ‘hi,’ huh?”

“Yes, he’s very smart, if I do say so myself!”

“Cool! Look at all that blonde hair! Reminds me of my hair when I was little. He looks just like Eric, don’t he?”

“Yeah, he does. Hey, what time do you guys stop working?”

“Around 6 o’clock, I think.”

“Why don’t you, and Hoyt and Catfish eat with us? We’re going to make burgers on the grill after while.”

“You sure it’s no trouble?”

“Not at all – we’re going to do it anyway, we’ll just make enough for you all, too. That’ll give you a little time to visit with Alex. When you all get done for the day, come on up to the house. You can park out back if you need to.”

“Oh, yeah, the extra garage. OK, we’ll see you then!”

“Great! Say “bye-bye” Alex!”

“Ba-ba!” Alex waved and smiled.

Jason ran back to his dozer and Hoyt and Catfish waved and yelled “hey” to Sookie and she waved back.

“Hey, Y’all! Oh, that’s so cool! I’ve been wanting Alex to meet Jason!”

“You sure Eric will be OK with that?”

“Yeah, he said I could invite him for a cook-out at the end of my vacation. We’ll just do it a little early this way. Hoyt and Catfish are really nice guys, so that won’t be a problem, I’m sure.”

“OK, would you consider heading back now?”

“Yeah, I just wanted Alex to see the trucks, and he did, so we’ll head back.”

“Good, let’s go,” Bjorn smiled but he’d feel a lot better when the two of them were back in the house.

Bjorn walked them back and once he knew they were safely in the house he went to check on the installation of the fences. He would be very happy when they were all behind these kick-ass wrought iron fences Eric and Vincent had agreed on. They looked really nice, but they would stop a tank or a Mack truck if they had to because they were reinforced and being set in concrete. A flier could still get over them, of course, but the electronic surveillance would let them know about that. Only a Vampire as old as Eric could bend them, and there were none that he knew of, though he supposed there might be somewhere. It occurred to Bjorn that there wasn’t much a person could do to protect against an attack by Eric. He was in a class by himself, and Bjorn liked that, too.

“Hey!” Sookie walked into the kitchen where Margaret and Alicia were chatting over coffee as Margaret made preparations for dinner.

“Back already?” Alicia was really surprised.

“Yeah, and guess what? My brother, Jason, and his two best friends are working the bulldozers! I invited them for burgers later – that won’t be a problem will it?”

“Not at all, Missus. So did your brother get to meet Alex?”

“Yeah, he did. Those rats took a vacation day so they could take this job – I’ll bet they’re getting paid under the table!” Sookie laughed. “Eric must be paying a fortune for them to do something like that.”

“By the way, Mrs. Northman, I put your book and your journal in the den for you. I know you wanted to play with the baby in there and then read when he naps.”

“You’re a mind reader!” Sookie laughed. “I really do need to make a dent in that book. And I’ll bet Pookie would like to play with Boss, wouldn’t you, Sweetie?”

“Omba! Bid dwadon!”

“Yeah, Boss is a big dragon!” Sookie laughed and so did the other women. “OK, let’s go!” Sookie said to Alex and took him into the den after she grabbed an RM from the fridge.

The bouncer was still in the floor and the blue dragon was tucked into the corner, so Sookie pulled it out to the middle of the floor, unzipped the back and dropped Alex right in the middle of it where he wanted to be. He made his happy sound, and Sookie laughed as she flopped on the big brown couch and turned on the TV. She was just going to let him do what he wanted for a while, even if he decided to fly, and she was going to enjoy watching him. She knew that was being inconsistent, but she wanted him to enjoy himself and he was so little she figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. She was very pleased to see that the digital camera was still on the end table where she left it, so she turned it on and clicked lots of pictures of Alex doing his thing diving into the balls. She even got a good shot of him hovering over them, which she knew Eric would love. She knew he was busting with pride that his baby boy could already fly.

Her mood darkened just a little as she thought about the fact that Freyja had designed the most perfect son possible for Eric, and may have gone to some unfair extremes to do it. Well, she was happy that Eric had his perfect son, but he had another son, too and that baby was going to be with them as soon as Mommy figured out how to fix things. Sookie lay back on the couch as Alex continued to play and she thought about how the second baby might impact her family.

She didn’t have to be a genius to know that Eric would have reservations about a Fae child, especially one with all those weaknesses. She also knew there would be the issue of how to explain him. Alex was known all over the world as the first and only Vampire Prince. A Faerie twin wouldn’t do anything to help his image and might actually reflect badly on Eric as King. Plus, that baby was really a baby, just like any other 11 day-old baby. Alex was at least a year ahead of him developmentally, maybe more, and if it took Sookie a long time to work this out, it would mean that they spent their formative years apart. At most, they might be brothers, but never true twins. Could they fake a second pregnancy? What if he were a cousin? It would be a lot easier to explain a little Cousin Aubie who looked a lot like Alex, but was smaller and had different abilities. But would that be fair to the child?

“Mamee!” Alex was getting fussy and making his ‘come here’ motion so Sookie scooped him up and grabbed Do-ee from the bouncer as she sat down with him. Alex hugged the purple dragon to him and sucked his thumb as Sookie cuddled him and talked to him for a long time while he looked up at her with big, tear-filled eyes. She finally got a smile out of him and he let out a big sigh and went to sleep. She held him for a bit, wondering if he got fussy because she was thinking of the other baby. He had done this before, hadn’t he? Sookie decided to watch and see if this was a pattern. It didn’t seem possible that Alex could be jealous, but who knew? Alex did a whole lot of things that didn’t seem possible. Impossible was Alex’s best thing, she laughed to herself. She held him for a while and watched him sleep, then when her arm started to fall asleep she put him in the little bouncer and got out her journal.

The first thing Sookie did was write that she suspected Alex cried whenever she thought about… Cousin Aubie. She thought that would be safe enough code to put in the journal for now. She got out the book and decided to read as much as she could.

Sookie liked the book, especially the philosophy of it, but some of the particulars didn’t appeal to her. She remembered, though, that Octavia told her she should use what works for her, so she took it all more as theory than a cookbook. She just skimmed over most of the life rituals but her attention was caught by a Self-Blessing Ritual (Budapest, pp. 107-112) which was long, but seemed like a good place to start. She knew she couldn’t use lemon in a ritual bath as suggested, but she was confident that Octavia would tell her something else that would work.

She decided to take a break and write in her journal when she read the lines:

There is nothing rigid in Goddess worship. Rituals can be researched and symbolism relearned and applied by any group of like-minded women who are inspired by the Goddess. These deeds will be equally valid. The important thing to remember is that beyond a certain structure upon which we all agree, creativity is the order of the night.

Therefore, read all of the pages, absorb what we communicate, and then create your own rituals, your own tradition. (Budapest, pg. 115)

Sookie loved that idea and it was consistent with what Octavia, Bobbie and Amelia were telling her. She didn’t have to learn to say words she wasn’t comfortable with.

She made notes for the Self Blessing: 

Ritual Bath, submerge completely, (ask Octavia what to use)

Use imagination, fantasy

Prepare the altar before the bath?

Goddess-image,

candles,

incense,

a small bowl of salt

a chalice containing half water, half wine.

“Arrange your altar in a creative manner, with a white cloth,

two white candles on the sides, and

a rose or other Goddess-image in the center.

Place your chalice in front.”

salt on the floor in front of the altar and stand on it.

(symbolizes wisdom, the Salt of the Earth, so you are standing on your own wisdom.)

Contemplate the wine-water mixture in the chalice as symbolic of the Life Force.

represents Aphrodite – no life without water

wine brings ecstasy – represents joy

mixing = temperance, which is important in women’s Wisdom.

Drink 

Meditate = altar /psychic space you are creating for yourself.

completely naked

Light the incense now to awaken the brain cells

Light white candles, “Blessed be, thou creature of fire,”

Dip first two fingers into chalice touch forehead 

Bless me, Mother, for I am Your child.”

Dip touch nose, “Bless my nose to smell Your essence.”

Dip touch lipsBless my lips to speak of You.”

Dip touch breastsBless my breasts, formed in strength and beauty.”

Dip touch genitalsBless my genitals that bring forth life as You have 

brought forth the Universe.”

Dip touch feetBless my feet to walk in Your paths.”

stand a while allow energies to flow through you.

extinguish candlesBlessed be, thou creature of fire. Thank you for your presence.”

REMEMBER!

Pleasure is worship because it replenishes the soul.

“All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.”

Revolution begins as a thought-form.

“Very strong witches have been known to say very little, to very great effect. That’s part of having your mouth connected to your brain.” Speak softly.

As your own Goddess you have created what you wanted.

“As below, so above.” ripple effect of consequences. “Like” affects “like”

The small eventually affects the larger. That’s why spells work!

‘Whew!’ she thought, ‘that’s a lot of writing, but it’s a really simple ritual. I’ll ask Octavia if I can start with this one.” She popped the top on the RM she brought with her, laughing that it seemed strange that it still tasted good to her, but it really did. She expected not to like it any more after she had Alex. Maybe because he was still breast-feeding? She needed to tell Octavia about her experience last night and ask if breast-feeding two babies was a problem. Actually, she needed to talk to Dr. Ludwig about it, too. She looked in the tote bag Alicia brought downstairs for her and found her iPhone in it.

Sookie figured she was entitled to talk to Dr. Ludwig since they’d been keeping a secret from her, so she dialed her up and hoped for the best.

“Sookie?”

“Yes, Dr. Ludwig, I was wondering if I could ask a couple of questions?”

“You’ve talked to your husband, I suppose?”

“Yes, I know all about him now.”

“Alright, sit tight and I’ll come to you.”

**POP**

Ludwig was sitting next to her on the couch. “Well, little girl, what sort of questions do you have?”

“Well, I got to feed him last night…”

“You what?”

“Yeah, Freyja showed me how to go there. I thought I was dreaming, but Eric said I was actually gone, so I must have been there, and I breast fed him.”

“Well, well – that’s unexpected. How did he respond to you?”

“He was very sweet. I looked in his eyes and talked to him and rocked him until the 33 minutes was up, then I tucked him in and I was back in my own bed, but I was crying.”

“And he took your milk and wasn’t afraid or anything?”

“Not at all. Listen, Dr., I really want to know who has him. Is he being treated well? Is he safe?”

“I can’t tell you her name, but I can tell you that the Faerie woman who has him is a young widow. Her husband and little girl were killed tragically and she was still breastfeeding, so she’s able to wet-nurse him. She’s very kind to him, and she’ll protect him with her life, you can be sure of that. As far as I know, no one even knows she has him. I’ve seen him several times and he seems strong and healthy.”

“Oh, good. That makes me feel better. I want you to know, though, Doctor, that I fully intend to figure out a way to bring him here so Eric and I can raise him.”

“Well, I’m not sure that’s possible, but I know you’ll try no matter what I say, so I will just request that you be careful.”

“Oh, I will. I wanted to ask you, would calling him the way I can Alex work?”

“Well, if you were going to try that, I’d want to be in the room with him first to be sure he transferred safely. It’s not likely to work, but there’s some possibility. Are you able to go to him again?”

“Yes, Freyja said I could do it “once in three, but no more,” so I guess that’s once every three days?”

“Yes, that sounds right. She probably doesn’t want you to exhaust yourself. Half an hour every three days is enough to establish a connection with him, but not enough to wear you down. You’ll build your magickal muscles that way. How did you happen to see Freyja?”

“I said a short invocation I got from the Internet and re-wrote. Bobbie told me to say it three times before I went to sleep and it worked.”

“Did you write it down?”

“Yes, it’s right here.” Sookie opened her journal to the invocation and showed it to the doctor.

“You said this three times and Freyja showed up and taught you to travel to Faery? That’s all you did?”

“Yeah.”

“OK, can you tell me what She had you do to get there?”

Sookie described seeing Freyja on the shore and the simple process of drawing a circle thrice around, clockwise.

“That’s all she gave you?”

“Yeah. I was going to wait until Sunday night and try it again and see if it works.”

“Oh, it will work. If the Goddess handed it to you personally, it will most definitely work. What’s of more interest to me is the simplicity of it. Have you ever practiced magick before?”

“No, but I have a teacher I’m starting to work with. She’s out buying stuff to set up a room to practice in for me right now. She had dinner with us the other night – Octavia.”

“Oh, yes – I know of her. Her reputation is good in circles I’d say she’s not even aware of. She’s strong and smart. That’s a good choice. She won’t waste your time with nonsense, which is good, because Freyja is not including any bells or whistles, either, it would seem.”

“Is that good or bad?”

“It’s telling – it tells me you’re already a force to be reckoned with, you just don’t know it yet. Have you and Northman done any sex magick, even accidentally?”

“Yeah, we have these energy swirls or sparkles and stuff and I’m learning how to give them direction.”

“You’re keeping a journal now? Have you thought about a Book of Shadows – a formal one?”

“I think Octavia is going to help me get one or start one, or whatever you do.”

“Good. I want you keeping notes on these energy occurrences. Have you ever experienced anything like them with anyone else?”

“No, only with Eric. I feel a lot of things with Eric I only ever felt with him. I didn’t even know some stuff I feel with him was possible,” she laughed.

“He’d probably say the same thing about you. I’ll tell you what, you breastfeed the other one several more times and we’ll think about letting you try to call him. I’ll help you when it’s time, so we’re sure he’s not harmed, alright.”

“Alright. Is it possible that Alex could already be jealous of him?”

“More is possible with Alex than you’ll ever know, my dear.”

“He learned how to call things to him now, you know?”

“Already? Sookie, I want you to think very carefully about whether it’s really in anyone’s best interest for you to have that other baby. He might be better off where he is, and your family might be better off, too.”

“I know it might not be easy, but I can’t know I have a child and not be there to raise him. I want him to know that he’s loved and wanted.”

“Well, you think about it over these next few weeks as you visit him. Remember, he’s got a good woman caring for him who loves him and wants him, too. Consider her feelings as well as you consider the ramifications of making so drastic a change.”

“I never thought about that… but I still want my baby.”

“Alright, then – just think about it. If you’re going to be practicing magick, I want you getting lots of sleep. I hear you’re going to be very busy this fall and winter.”

“Yeah, we’ve got lots of King & Queen things we have to do, and a lot that I have to do on my own as Queen.”

“OK, then, make the most of your vacation. Call me if you need me.” And she was gone.

Sookie suddenly felt exhausted, so she lay back on the couch. The next thing she knew, Eric was smiling at her.

“Wake up, my Angel.”

“Hey, you’re up already!”

“Yes, and we have company. Your brother and his friends are having dinner with us.”

“Oh, yeah. Is everybody waiting on me?”

“The burgers are on the grill as we speak.”

“Oh – help me up,” Sookie said, still a little groggy, and Eric walked her out to the back yard where people were chatting and Alicia and Margaret were serving burgers and hot dogs to lots of men Sookie didn’t know.

Alex was the center of attention, sitting in his highchair, chattering and playing with Jason, Catfish, Hoyt, and Bjorn, showing them his “dwadon.” Bjorn was interpreting.

“Sleeping Beauty has decided to join us,” Eric teased as they joined the group outside.

“Hey, guys! Sorry, I fell asleep…”

“Sleeping is what you’re supposed to be doing, Sookie,” Bjorn laughed.

“How long has Alex been up?”

“About an hour,” Bjorn told her, “I came in to check on you and he was awake, so I brought him out to let you rest.”

“Thanks for dinner, Sookie!” Hoyt gave her a big smile.

“Yeah, thank you!” Catfish added.

“Oh, I’m glad you guys could join us. I was tickled to death when I saw you all out there earlier. I’d been wanting Jason to see Alex so badly!”

“He’s been trying to talk to us. He’s extra-smart, huh?” Jason asked.

“Yes, he’s very advanced for his age, probably from Eric being his daddy.”

“That’s cool. He’s a cute kid. I wish Gran could see him. She’d be over the moon about such a smart baby.”

“Yeah, I wish so, too.” Sookie said wistfully.

“You know, Sam Merlotte would love to see you and the baby?” Hoyt told her.

“I’d love for Sam to see him, too, but we had some trouble the last time we tried that.”

“Andy Bellefleur said something about a hate crime or something, but he said you didn’t get hurt and didn’t want to press charges?” Jason barely remembered the story even though it wasn’t that long ago.

“Some of Arlene’s crazy FOTS friends got smart with Bjorn, and tried to swing a pool cue at him and then grabbed at me and called me all kinds of nasty names.”

“Wow – what’d you do, Bjorn?” Jason loved hearing about a good fight.

“I punched him in the chest and broke his sternum.” Bjorn sort of demonstrated the punch.

Catfish whistled and Hoyt said, “oh, man!” They had no doubts that a big guy like Bjorn could do that without blinking. They had been blown away when Jason told them Sookie had a big bodyguard, and it was obvious this guy was lethal when he wanted to be, though he was being nice to them.

“How did the pool table get busted up, Sookie?” Jason asked, “Arlene had some crazy story about you putting a hex on her friend or something…”

“He had some kind of fit or something…” Sookie lied, “I don’t know what his problem was but they both got carried out in an ambulance.”

“Sam don’t want you to be afraid to come in there, though,” Hoyt assured her.

“I’d prefer that she didn’t,” Eric said from the other end of the table, “and I certainly don’t want my son in there if there’s a possibility of any threat to him. That waitress said some very disturbing things about him to Sookie. I think it unwise to underestimate fanatics of that sort.”

“Yeah, she was saying he was some kind of devil-baby. She’s off the deep end. I mean, this is the sweetest kid I ever saw, and I’m not just saying that ’cause he’s my nephew. That’s a handsome kid by anybody’s standard,” Jason said proudly and Hoyt and Catfish agreed. “He looks like an Angel with that blonde hair and those bright blue eyes. I wish the b-i-t-c-h could see him and see how wrong she is about him.”

“Aw – thank you, Jason. Did you get to hold him yet?” Sookie hoped he’d want to.

“Oh – no, he’s just been in his chair there.”

“Alex, you want to go to your Uncle Jason for a minute?”

“OMBA!” Alex loved the opportunity for more attention.

“What’s that mean?” Jason asked.

“That’s him trying to say “oh, yes” the way Eric does,” Sookie said proudly. Eric was beaming when she said that.

Jason loved that Eric was taking such good care of them and making sure they were safe. For a Vampire, he wasn’t a bad guy, in spite of what people said about him. He sure as hell paid well. He was a little nervous as Sookie handed him the baby, but the baby put one arm around his neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek, which made all the women say “awwww!”

“He’s giving you sugar, Jason! He likes you!”

“I like him, too. It’s so hard for me to think about my baby sister having a baby, you know, but he suits you, you know, you two fit good together. I saw that when you carried him out front. You could just tell that you’re a good mommy and he’s a happy baby.”

“Thank you, Jason.” It wouldn’t take much for Sookie to cry at that. Jason had never said anything so nice to her before. He really did like being an Uncle.

Alicia brought Sookie’s camera out and let Sookie snap some photos of Jason and Alex, then them with Hoyt and Catfish, then Alicia took a picture of Jason, Sookie and Alex, then some of them with Eric. She kept the camera and snapped a few more of the whole group of people who were out back eating. Alex loved mugging for the camera.

“I’ll get you copies of those pictures, Jason, especially the one of you and Alex together.” Sookie promised.

“That’d be cool. I’d like to have a picture of him to show people how cute he is, especially when Arlene is running her mouth.”

“We’ll tell everybody how cute and smart he is, too.” Hoyt promised, “We can say we seen him for ourselves and you couldn’t imagine a nicer baby than him. What she’s been saying about him is just ridiculous. It ain’t right to act that way and claim to be a Christian, especially when you’re talking about a little baby!”

“Thank you, Hoyt, I really appreciate that.”

“Yes, we both do,” Eric agreed. “Are you men going to be working the whole weekend?”

“Yeah, all three days,” Jason answered.

“Well, I want you to feel free to have dinner with us every night. I know Sookie enjoys the company and it is good for Alex to know her family and friends. We appreciate your help with this project,” Eric was trying to be very gracious for Sookie’s sake.

“What all are you plannin’ to do, Eric?”

“Once the fences are up and the ground is cleared, we’ll put down sod grass until Sookie and the landscaper decide what they want. Then there will be two Chalets that will go back there, behind the Summer Kitchen over toward the garage.”

“Chalets – those triangle looking houses?”

“Yes, they’re manufactured kits that go up very quickly.”

“Cool – who are they for?”

“Servants, family or friends who need or want to stay or visit. You’re welcome to stay there if you like, or in the house as you did before.”

“Wow – that’s cool.”

“Yes, we had planned to have a compound near New Orleans, but Sookie and I are too attached to this house. We’re going to keep this as our base of operations and then we’ll still have our houses in New Orleans and Las Vegas for when we need them.”

“Wow – so you got businesses and stuff all over?” Hoyt asked.

“Yes, I’ll be in on a large construction project on the strip in Las Vegas and I have several properties in New Orleans that are in need of repair, so we’ll be traveling a lot.”

“S’at true what they say on TV about you being a King?” Hoyt was dying to ask so he just did.

“In the Vampire community, yes, it is.”

“I saw some interviews with Sookie on TV. She done a good job.”

“Yes,” Eric smiled, “I’m always very proud of her when she represents us on TV.”

“Hey,” Jason asked, still holding Alex and looking at him, “has he really got fangs?”

“Yeah,” Sookie laughed, “you want to see them?”

“Sure!”

Sookie went over next to Jason and Alex and tickled his gums, so down popped the little fangs.

“Holy smoke! Those look sharp!”

“They are sharp,” Sookie assured him. “His Daddy is very proud of those fangs, aren’t you, Sweetie?”

“Yes, that’s one of the few things about his appearance that is distinctly Vampire.”

“Ee, Mamee!”

“Are you hungry, Punkin’?” Sookie took him from Jason and sat back down and he tried to crawl up on the table. “Alex, what are you doing?”

“Ee!” he pointed to the burgers.

“That’s not for babies, Sweetheart! You want a bottle?”

“Ee!” He pointed to the potato salad.

“What do you think, Alicia, should I mash some up and let him try it?”

“Well, he ate salmon this morning, so why not?”

“He did?” Eric was excited to hear that.

“Yeah, he loved it,” Sookie confirmed.

“Sthama?”

“Do you want some salmon, Baby E?” Alicia offered

“OMBA, Eesh!”

“I’ve still got some of the mousse I made for him – I’ll get it.”

“So he eats unusual stuff for a baby, huh?” Jason asked

“Yeah, he’s kind of… adventurous, I guess? He always wants to taste what I eat,” Sookie laughed. “He’s sneaky, too. If I’m not careful, he’ll grab a handful and stuff it in his mouth before I catch him.”

“My sister’s one kid did that,” Catfish said, “even before he had teeth, she had to really watch him so he didn’t get choked.”

“Yeah, so far, with Alex, he’s only managed to get hold of soft stuff – cheese cake and mashed potatoes – but man, is he fast! He has stuff in his mouth before I know he’s moved. I’m trying to teach him to ask first, but it might be a while before he really understands.”

Everybody laughed at that and Alicia came out with a bowl and a little spoon for Alex.

“Do you want me to feed him, Sookie, so you can eat?” Eric offered

“Could you, Sweetie? I’m pretty hungry.”

“Of course, my Angel.” Eric went to the end of the bench where Sookie was sitting and brought Alex and his dish back to his seat.

“You feed him sometimes, Eric?” That really surprised Jason.

“Oh, yes, I feed him and sit with him when Sookie needs to sleep, and we have a lot of playtime together, don’t we, my son?”

“OMBA, Dadee!” Alex said with a mouthful of mousse.

“Wow – that’s good. I never really pictured you playing with him,” Jason said

“Oh, yes, we have lots of fun, don’t we, Alex.”

“Ee-ah, Dadee!”

“That means “yeah”” Sookie said, “he’s just started trying to say it. Which reminds me – Eric, he knows colors?”

“He knows one color – he was picking out everything yellow in his book the other night.”

“I had no idea. He told me this morning that the bulldozers were yellow and I was shocked,” she laughed.

“Yes, he just picked that up on his own as I was looking at that picture book with him the other night. He started pointing to things and I told him they were yellow, then he tried to say it and we went through all the pages and he correctly identified all the pictures that had anything yellow in it.”

“Wow – he’s really, really smart!” Jason was proud of that.

“Yes,” Eric said proudly, “he’s very special. He is everything a father could dream of.” Eric gave Alex a big kiss and Alex hugged him back, then asked for more “Sthama, Dadee.”

Jason really liked hearing that. He was really starting to be happy for Sookie. He had been really worried about Sookie’s baby having a Vampire for a daddy, but it was obvious that Eric was crazy about that kid and with good reason. Eric was right, Alex was as cute and smart as a baby could be. Between the money and the lifestyle and the way Eric was with Alex, Jason realized that Sookie had everything she could possibly want. No wonder she looked so happy.

Alicia and Margaret spread a table with newspaper and had the gardener’s two helpers carry out some watermelons. Everyone had some, and Alicia even put a small piece in front of Eric, who took a bite and immediately had Alex wanting a taste. Sookie passed him a fork and he cut some of it to bits, then fed it to Alex with his spoon.

“Mmmmm!” Alex loved it, and Sookie was pleased to see that he seemed able to “gum” the little pieces Eric was giving him.

“Hey, I thought Vamps couldn’t eat?” Jason asked

“Most can’t. Most would get sick from just a bite of any kind of food, but Eric is actually able to eat a little now and then,” Sookie explained.

“That’s really cool.”

“Yes, I enjoy watermelon especially. It has a sweetness to it that reminds me of Sookie,” he smiled at her.

“I smell extra sweet to Vampires,” Sookie explained.

“Is that why they like you so much, Sookie?” Hoyt asked

“It’s part of it, yeah.”

“There are more reasons to be attracted to Sookie than I could possibly count, but I must confess, her scent is at the top of the list. She’s intoxicating.” He gave Sookie a look that would melt butter and she blushed, but she loved it.

As the melons were disappearing, the workers began to wander off into the night.

“Well, I should get going. We gotta be here early in the morning to work on your yard,” Catfish said.

“Oh, well – I’m glad you could have dinner with us, Catfish. We’ll see you tomorrow evening I hope?” Sookie wanted to be a good hostess.

“Yeah, I can probably stay for dinner if the other guys are going to…”

“Me, too,” Hoyt said.

“Yeah, why not?” Jason said, “this was fun.” He started to get up and Sookie popped up to get Alex so he could say goodbye.

“You all be careful driving home now!” Sookie kissed Jason on the cheek and then she said “Tell Uncle Jason bye-bye, Alex.”

Alex leaned forward wanting a hug, which Jason happily gave him, and he said, “good night, little buddy. I’ll see you tomorrow, OK?”

“Oday!” Alex said happily and the guys all laughed at how cute it was. Alex giggled and chewed on his finger, leaning his head against Sookie’s and she talked to him.

Alicia rushed out with a couple of photos she printed for Jason and he thanked her profusely. He couldn’t wait to get to Merlotte’s and show them off. Arlene was nuts. His nephew was a great kid! He and Catfish and Hoyt had already agreed to meet there after they left Sookie’s house. They were just pulling out of the extra garage when Bobbie, Octavia and Amelia came out the back door.

“Hey, you guys! You missed Jason and his friends!” Sookie greeted them all with hugs.

“So we hear,” Bobbie said. “We’ve been power shopping, Sookie.”

“Yeah, we hooked you up good, girl!” Amelia said. “Wait until you see all the cool stuff we got you! We bought a bunch of books for Alex, too.”

“We went to about three stores and just told them to give us one of everything,” Octavia laughed. “We got the soap to use to scrub down the room. Eric did you make arrangements for that?”

“Yes, ma’am, I did. Margaret’s two younger helpers are coming in early tomorrow just for this. It would help if you’d write down exactly what you want them to do, and then you won’t have to get up for it. It can be done before you and Sookie even wake up. Did you get paint?”

“Yes, we did – bubble gum pink, just like Sookie likes,” Bobbie laughed.

“Oh, goodie!” Sookie was excited about this, which surprised her.

“Leroy?” Eric called over to the other table.

“Yes sir?” Leroy hurried over to Eric.

“Are you going to be able to paint that room for me tomorrow afternoon?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll start on it as soon as the girls get done scrubbing it down.”

“Good, I’ll leave cash for Alicia to pay you with when you’re done.”

“Cool, thanks a lot, Mr. Northman!”

“Thank you for helping Sookie. You’ve gone out of your way for her more than once and I really appreciate it.”

“I’m glad to do it, sir. She’s a nice lady.”

“Yes, she is. Did you get enough to eat?”

“I was thinkin’ about having another burger.”

“Margaret, can you fix Leroy another?”

“Of course I can, you come right this way, dear!”

“I could eat another burger, too.” Sookie popped up and gave Alex to Eric so she could get more to eat.

“Bjorn, when you have a minute, I need to show you something about the set up downstairs.”

“I’m done eating, so I’m ready when you are.”

“Let’s go on down, then. Sookie, we’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“Oh, OK,”

“I’ve got Alex, Sookie,” Bobbie told her, “How are you, Sweetness?” Bobbie kissed and tickled the baby when she took him from Eric. It was good to be Alex Northman today – he was getting all kinds of attention from all kinds of people!

Eric closed the door to the basement as he and Bjorn went down the stairs.

“Alright, you are the only other living soul beside Sookie who will know this and no one, not even Bobbie, is to know about it. I need to tell you so you can insure that no one gets curious.”

He took Bjorn into the back room. “That door there,” he pointed to the back and to the left, “is the room being prepared for Sookie. This,” he bent down and popped the top of his cache, “is where I rest. No one even knows I stay in the house and I want to keep it that way. This rug should suffice to keep it hidden, but I need you to make sure no one discovers it.”

“Wow – that’s like a whole little oasis down there.”

“Yes, it’s very cozy. It sleeps at least four, though only Sookie and Pam know of it and have been in it.”

“Does Sookie ever stay in it with you?”

“One glorious evening I awoke to find Sookie naked, sleeping beside me. It was one of the most erotic, primal experiences of my life. Any other woman would have been scared to death – I nearly savaged her and she laughed. The woman actually awoke being fucked by a hungry Vampire and she laughed about it.”

“Holy shit!”

“Even if I were not bonded to her, at that moment, I would have had to ask her to marry me, if I had not already. I’ve never known a woman that brave or that lusty in my long life,” Eric was speaking with awe in his voice and Bjorn understood why. Sookie was in a class by herself if she could get off on a scene like that. Hungry Vamps were no joke no matter who they are or what you mean to them.

“She really knows how to make the most of adrenaline, doesn’t she?”

“Oh, yes. In a thousand years I have slept with thousands of women, but never have I seen such strength or passion. I tell you, Bjorn, when I realized she was a Goddess, it all made such sense that I had no trouble at all believing it. No human woman could match her. No three human women could match her, nor would they want to try. That she did not run screaming from me after that was miraculous. When I came to my senses I asked her if she was crying but she said she was laughing, I was dumbfounded. I asked her if she was scared and she actually said it was “good scary.””

“Good scary?”

“She described it as riding a roller coaster on which you knew someone had been killed.”

Bjorn was speechless. After his mind processed it for a few minutes, he said, “she couldn’t have married anyone but you, could she?”

“No, I think not. I think anyone else would bore her very quickly. If she’d be perfectly honest about it, Bill Compton was beginning to bore her at the point that they broke up.”

“OK, this is rude, but, is it true that Vamps don’t have any “down time?””

“You mean between erections?”

“Yes.”

“I can’t speak for all Vamps, but I don’t. I really only stop to enjoy an orgasm because I want to. I could go on indefinitely if I needed to, as long as it was dark.”

“Damn.”

“I’ve joked about taking Sookie to a country where the sun doesn’t rise for months at a time to see how long we could actually go,” he laughed, “and I just might some day, when Alex is grown.”

“Is she going to age normally?”

“No. Drinking so much of my blood has all but stopped that process in her and if she moves up as seems to be the plan, she will be an immortal of some sort eventually.”

“Like a Vampire?”

“Possibly, or something else, which I’m beginning to think is more likely.”

“What else is there?”

“She could become pure Fae, or an Angel, or some similar being, or she might be accepted in the Living Pantheon, as I told you, which brings with it immortality.”

“They’re waiting for her to learn magick?”

“Yes, and the need to breastfeed Alex may enter into it. That is why I have not yet turned her. I don’t know if Angels or fully formed Goddesses can breastfeed a Vampire baby or not. I don’t know that anyone knows that or whether I will still be able to feed on her. I know something will change, though.”

“How do you know?”

“I had a dream as I rested today that Sookie and Alex and I were together and we were flying.”

“So you think…”

“That she will soon be able to fly.” Eric pushed the door of his hideaway down and stepped on it to lock it.

“Is that a good thing?”

“If Alex and I can still feed from her and I can still have sex with her, then it is a wonderful thing. If not, then, I will accept it if it is her destiny.”

“Can a Vamp feed on a Goddess?”

“I have before, though I have no idea if that is something individual to Freyja or not.”

“If you could feed on Freyja, I’d bet you’ll still be able to feed on Sookie.”

“I think you are probably correct, but it is never good to assume in these matters. It is better to get all the details from a reliable source. I’m planning to have a long, private consultation with Doctor Ludwig very soon. She’s the best resource I know for such things.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Bjorn said as they walked over to the room Sookie would be using. “Nice room, for a basement.”

“Yes, it was finished nicely, but I never had any use for it other than storage. I don’t really even remember what was in here. There are so many corners of this house I never paid any attention to until now,” he laughed.

“Why did you buy this big place if you didn’t need it?”

“Hope, I guess. The location was perfect and it was a lot more than I needed but I hoped at some point maybe I’d share it with someone. I always like to give my self options and possibilities.”

“It sure worked out for you this time.”

“Yes, it did. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when Sookie agreed to visit me here, and then when she decided to move in, it was a dream come true. This is all like a dream.”

“That’s what Freyja wanted, right? To make your dreams come true?”

“That appears to have been the intent, yes. I need to find a way to thank Her, but I haven’t come up with anything that adequately expresses the depth of my gratitude to Her.”

“What does She like?”

“Well, She did go to some extraordinary lengths for Brisingamen – Her magickal necklace of rubies and amber.”

“Maybe something made of rubies, then?”

“Perhaps. Jewelry seems so… I don’t know, it doesn’t seem enough, but I wanted to present it to Her at Alex’s Wiccaning, if She attends…”

“I’d bet money on Her being there, Eric. She’ll want to see the results of Her magick.”

“That is my hope. I need to make a decision and move on this – it will be here before we know it.”

“You’ll come up with the perfect solution, Eric, so just do your best and trust it will be right.”

“That’s all I can do, really. So you will be here early tomorrow when the maids begin, yes?”

“Yes – don’t worry. Nobody will know you’re there…”

“Knock, Knock!” Sookie called from the stairs.

“Yes, my Angel?”

“Is it safe for us to come down there?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Is there a table or something down here we can put this stuff on until the room is ready to use? This seems like the logical place to unpack it all.” Sookie asked as Amelia, Bobbie and Octavia carried packages behind her.

“Yes, there’s a folding table in the other room…”

“In the corner, right?” Bjorn said, starting in there.

“Yes, thank you, Bjorn.”

Sookie reached up and kissed Eric, “Thanks, Sweetie! I can’t wait to see what all they got me!”

“Do you mind if we stay and see, too?”

“Of course you can stay!”

“Where is Alex?” Eric asked as Bjorn brought a long folding table in and set it up along the wall opposite from Sookie’s room.

“Alicia and Margaret are watching him for a few minutes. He was chowing down on more salmon when we left,” Sookie laughed. “He likes that stuff as much as I do!”

All the women were chatting as they piled bags on the table and started unpacking them. There were candles, herbs, gravel-y looking stuff in little plastic baggies, little bottles of oil and stuff Sookie didn’t know the names of – bowls and what she thought were incense burners and a tiny little cauldron, a weird little broom, some kind of knife in a sheath and a fan…? Yep, it was a pretty black fan with pink roses and black lace!

“Hey, what’s the fan for?”

“That’s one of my techniques.” Octavia told her, “Some people use feathers or bird wings, and wands made out of wood, but I use a fan for all that because nobody is going to think it’s all that weird if a lady in the South has a fan in her purse. It’s a way to have a multi-purpose tool with you all the time. In a pinch, it can even substitute for an athame.”

“So I use it to do magick? That’s so cool! I love pretty fans like this!” Sookie opened and closed the fan with pink roses and black lace, showing she could do it one-handed.

“That’s very Scarlett O’Hara,” Bobbie laughed, and the others did, too. Sookie opened the fan and held it in front of her face, batting her eyelashes at Eric in an overtly flirtatious way and she instantly felt his desire flood the bond. This fan was already useful, she laughed to herself. She knew Eric loved the Southern Belle image it represented.

“OK, back-up – what’s an athame?” Sookie remembered hearing the word but forgot what it meant.

“It’s a black handled knife or dagger used for ritual purposes. Let’s see,” Octavia looked over all the stuff on the table and picked up the sheathed knife, “this is the one I got for you.” She pulled the curved blade out of the cover.

Sookie nearly fainted. “Oh, my Goddess! That’s the knife from last night!”

“Last night?” Bobbie exclaimed, “did the invocation work? I told them you said it before you went to sleep!”

“UH…” Sookie panicked. She wasn’t supposed to tell them about the other baby yet…

“Go ahead and tell them, Sookie,” Eric said, “They’ll need to know so they can help you. Ladies, what Sookie is about to tell you is extremely confidential. It doesn’t leave this room, agreed?”

Bobbie and Amelia quickly agreed, realizing this was something serious.

“Alright, Girl,” Octavia said, “take a deep breath and tell them your problem.”

“The magick that created Alex was intended to create twins. There’s another baby trapped in the world of Faery.”

Everyone was in shock. “What?” “Oh my Goddess!”

“Right, and I’m determined that I’m going to bring him home somehow. That’s why I’m learning magick. And last night, I said the invocation Bobbie told you all about and Freyja taught me how to visit him. I breastfed him for 33 minutes last night.”

Bobbie and Amelia were dumbfounded.

Octavia was impressed. “She tell you if or when you could do it again?”

“She said, “once in three, but no more,” which I figure means three days, so I’m going to try it again Sunday night at midnight.”

“Alright, so we got a lot of work to do tomorrow for you to be ready.”

“Good – like what?” Sookie couldn’t imagine where to begin.

“I gotta teach you how to cast a circle and consecrate these tools, particularly that athame if it’s the one you were usin’ in your visit with Freya.”

“I made notes about a ritual in that book I’m reading that I wanted to try. It’s called a Self-Blessing Ritual.”

“Where you start at your head and work down to your feet?”

“Right.”

“That’s a good place for you to start. That’s as close to an initiation as you’ll ever need. We can add on the consecration part to that, too, if you want. Unless you want to be formal about it and call the Watch Towers.”

“I’d rather keep it simple to start.”

“OK, that’s fine. Most of this stuff is just filler for you, anyway. You’re already so plugged in it’s not even funny. Teaching you ritual is just a formality so you know what’s happening if you end up having to work with someone else. Eric, you got a big magnet around here anywhere?”

“Yes, there’s one in the tool box. I’ll get it.” Eric went into the other room into a closet under the stairs and came out with a big, flat, square magnet with a hole in the middle and a piece of cord tied through the center around the edge.

“What do you have that for, Eric?”

“Picking up nails, mostly.”

“OK, Sookie, take this athame, and stroke the blade over this magnet, toward you, and do it until it’s got a good magnetic charge to it.”

“OK…” Sookie took the knife and began to slowly pull it across the magnet.

“That’s good, now visualize the power from you and from the magnet charging up the blade of that knife so it’s full of life and just ready for you to give it direction. Really focus on it.”

The others were chatting a little, Sookie focused her intention on the blade and for a minute, everything else melted away. Her breathing began to synchronize with the stroking of the blade and she imagined she could see a glow around it – it was faint at first, but it grew stronger, and brighter, taking on a yellow tone like bright sunshine. Finally, sparks began to fall from the blade, each spark exploding into a flash of light as it fell and hit something.

“Sookie…. Sookie. Sookie, can you hear me?” Eric was talking to her but he sounded as if he was in a tunnel. She shook her head and blinked, and realized that the others were all watching her with their mouths open.

“What?” She blinked, confused.

“You were making sparks again, darlin'” Bobbie told her, half laughing and half … scared or impressed or something she couldn’t even put a label on.

“That’s becoming a habit with you,” Octavia laughed. She was only beginning to understand what a privilege it was to be Sookie’s teacher. She didn’t know yet that the gods were smiling on her, too.

“Damn, girl, what are you going to be like when you’re trained and in a circle?” Amelia was excited to see what all Sookie would be able to do.

“But how can I already be making sparks? Shouldn’t this take practice?”

“Apparently, all it needs is for you to try it. Looks like my job is just to teach you what to try and when.” Octavia said. “And even that might be a formality. I think if you really needed something to happen, something in you would work it out.”

“OK. So I’m learning what is possible…?”

“Yes – what’s possible for you is a lot more than is possible for anyone else, but you grew up thinking you had human limitations. You don’t. You might be able to defy gravity if you didn’t expect not to.”

“You think I could levitate?”

“Yep, and I want you to try it first thing tomorrow when your room is set up.”

“Wow – do you think I might be able to fly some day?”

“Do you want to?” Octavia was surprised if she did.

“Yeah – Eric and Alex both can, and it would be nice if I could fly with them.”

“We’d like that, too, my Angel.” Eric smiled at her and Bjorn nodded to him, letting him know he thought Eric was right – she’d be able to fly soon. Nothing Sookie did would surprise Bjorn at this point. If she was already walking between the worlds, and with so little effort, she was powerful, period. “Speaking of flying, I’d like to take Alex for a flight while you ladies are doing this. Bjorn, will you let the guards know so they don’t shoot at us, please?” Eric laughed but he was quite serious.

“Yes, your majesty, right away.”

“You’re taking him out?” Sookie was surprised. “Just be careful – he’s just a baby and we don’t know how much is too much.”

“I’ll mostly keep him here over the property, Sweetheart, and I’ll monitor the bond very carefully. I won’t let him go fast, this time, we’ll just go up so he can feel what being in the sky is like.”

“OK…” Sookie wasn’t sure about this, but she trusted Eric so she took a deep breath and went back to asking questions about all her new stuff.

Eric smiled and he and Bjorn went upstairs, knowing Sookie had many questions and she might feel inhibited at first if he and Bjorn were there.

They came up around through the pantry and could both hear Alex talking to Alicia and Margaret. As soon as they walked into the room, Alex was bouncing up in his highchair, calling him. “DADEE! DADEE! FYEEN!”

“Flying? Would you like to go flying, my boy?”

“OMBA!”

Margaret and Alicia looked at each other but didn’t say anything and Eric and Bjorn were both so focused on the baby that it didn’t occur to them that Margaret and Alicia hadn’t really been briefed on Eric’s, let alone Alex’s, ability to fly. They had talked many times recently about the fact that they thought there was still a lot they didn’t know about the Northmans’ capabilities, so they had agreed to just take it in stride and roll with the changes. They both found the whole thing so fascinating, that they considered each new revelation as a treat.

Bjorn pulled out his cell phone and used the push-to-talk function to warn the other guards that Eric was going “X99-2” which was their code for flying with the baby. X99 was the code for Eric flying by himself.

“Alright, my boy, let’s go for your first real flight!” Eric pulled Alex up out of his high chair and Alex was about to burst, he was so excited.

“EE-AH, Dadee!” He was almost squealing as Eric took him out the back door near the pool.

“Ready to go?”

“Do, do!”

“OK, go, Alex!” Alex flew out of his arms, giggling and flying around the pool. Eric took to the air and followed him, getting right next to him. “Alright, Alex, let’s go higher,” and pointed upward with his thumb, moving higher himself as Alex looked up and followed him, his eyes wide as they flew out over the yard.

After they made two circles, Eric said, “Higher, Alex!” and moved upward, the baby following him effortlessly, thrilled that they were so high off the ground. Bjorn had followed them out back, and he was sitting on a lounge chair watching them, while Margaret and Alicia stood just outside the door, amazed. They could hear Alex giggling, and Bjorn was getting a kick out of how much Alex was loving this. They made a couple of circles then Alex said, “‘Eye-er, Dadee!” and flew quite a bit higher than they had been. Eric calmly moved up to match Alex, smiling to himself at how cute it was to see a baby in a t-shirt and diaper gliding through the air as if it was the most natural thing in the world. They made a few more circles, then Alex suddenly flew down and landed in the pool.

Bjorn jumped up, worried at first, until he realized Alex was swimming and giggling. Eric went into the pool in his clothes, grateful he had been barefoot when he came outside. A couple of guards had started running toward the pool, but Bjorn waved to them that it was OK. He was glad to see they were paying attention, though.

“Wada, Dadee!”

“Yes, now we are in the water, my son.” Eric was cracking up and so was Bjorn. Eric scooped Alex up out of the water and kissed him, “You know you made Daddy get his clothes wet?”

Alex cracked up, “Dadee ina wada!”

Eric was cracking up, too, knowing Alex thought it was funny he came into the pool in his clothes. “You want to swim more?”

“Sthim?”

“Swim, Alex,” Eric put him back in the water. “Good Alex – you’re swimming!”

Alex was paddling his little arms and legs, yelling, “ahm sthimmeen, Dadee!”

Eric knew Alex was having fun, but he was getting tired, too, so he scooped him up again and said, “that’s enough for tonight. Let’s get dried off and go see Mommy, alright?” He kissed him again as he walked out of the pool with him.

“Oday, Mamee,” he said as he wrapped his arms around Eric’s neck. He was very tired so he was fine with stopping now, and he liked being held by his Daddy. Bjorn patted him on the back and said, “Good job, Alex!” and he loved that. Eric took them back in the house and said, “we’ll be back” then zipped through the living room and flew them upstairs. “We’re all wet, Alex! I’ve got to get us dried off.” He took the baby into his bathroom and sat him in the tub. “Baf, Dadee!”

“Well, I wasn’t planning to take a bath, but it’s not a bad idea. I wonder if Mommy is done downstairs?” Eric was considering the possibility as he took off his wet clothes and threw them in the shower floor.

“Ware di Mamee do?”

“Mommy is downstairs with Octavia, Amelia and Bobbie,” he told him as he pulled the little t-shirt and wet diaper off of him and threw them in the shower, too.

“Witches,” Alex said clearly, smiling up at Eric as he lay on his back in the tub.

“What did you say, Alex?” Eric couldn’t believe what he was hearing – had they ever used that term in front of him?”

“Babee, Ayvbe, Me-ah, Mamee, Witches.”

“Alex, where did you hear that word?”

“Freyja Mamee Witch.”

“Freyja told you that Mommy was a Witch?”

“Ee-ah!”

Eric was frozen for a minute. What did he want to do next? He and the baby were naked – should he dress them or call Sookie for a bath? He wanted to question Alex about Freyja, but Alex didn’t know words about time like “when?” Why couldn’t he figure out what to do?

“Eric?” Sookie came in the bedroom door.

“Sookie – I’m in here.”

She reached the bathroom door. “What’s going on? I had the weirdest feeling in the bond.”

“Alex…”

“Ah, Mamee!”

“Hi, Sweetie! What are you doing in the tub?”

“Baf!”

“Did you want us to take a bath, Eric?”

“I considered it…”

“Eric, what is wrong with you?”

“Alex just told me that Freyja told him you are a Witch.”

“Ee-ah!” Alex giggled.

“Alex, you’ve seen Freyja?” Sookie asked him with a big smile on her face. She knew Eric was freaking out just a little so she wanted to make sure Alex didn’t focus on that too much.

“Omba!”

“Alex, where is Freyja?” Eric asked him.

Alex pointed at Sookie. “Mamee Freyja.”

“You’ve seen Her when you are with Mommy?”

“Nah, MAMEE Freyja,” he tugged on his little ear like it was no big deal.

“Mommy IS Freyja?” Eric asked

“Ee-ah!”

“Alex, do you ever see Freyja when I’m not here?” Sookie asked him.

“Omba, Freyja!”

“When do you see Her, Alex?” Sookie asked him.

“Ahm seepeen.”

“You see Freyja when you are sleeping?”

“Omba! Ware di Witches do?”

Now Sookie was shocked. “Hey, where did you learn that word?”

“Freyja!” Eric and Sookie got the distinct impression that Alex was thinking they were dumb or something like that – that they should already know this stuff.

“Did you feel that?” Sookie asked Eric

“Yes, I did. He knows so he expects us to know.”

“Sookie, everything alright?” Bobbie wondered because Sookie told them she felt something weird in the bond before she came upstairs.

“Yeah, just a minute, Bobbie. Eric, do you want to take a bath now?”

“If you do, then yes, I’d like some family time.”

Sookie stepped out to the bedroom and told Bobbie that they were going to take a bath and go to bed. Bobbie told them to have a good time and left her with a wink and a sly smile, dropping Alex’s new books off in the nursery before she went back down stairs.

Sookie went back into the bathroom and started to take her clothes off. “So I guess we’ve been expecting this, right?”

“Yes, I guess we have. It just took me by surprise when he called you all Witches. He says it so clearly – more clearly than he says anything else.” Eric didn’t know why it bothered him so much, but it did. “He even pronounces Freyja with a Swedish accent!”

“Yeah, it does sound like he’s very familiar with the words, doesn’t it?” Sookie laughed.

“Yes, it does,” Eric said as he picked Alex up so he could start running the bath.

“Wada, Dadee, wada!”

Eric laughed and his mood lightened. “Tell Mommy what we did tonight, Alex.”

“Mamee, Dadee an Awesth fyeen an sthimmeen.”

“OK, I got flying and then…”

“Swimming. He landed in the pool and scared everyone half to death, but he just wanted to swim,” Eric laughed. “That’s why we came upstairs – he and I were both soaked. I went in with my clothes on, afraid he was in danger, but then we laughed about it, didn’t we Alex?”

“OMBA!”

“Did you have fun flying with Daddy, Pookie?”

“OMba – fyeen eye-er an eye-er!” he told her with big eyes, pointing upward.

“Higher and higher?” Sookie wasn’t crazy about the sound of that.

“Yes, we went well above the house and did several trips around the back yard. I was about to suggest that we rest when he dived into the pool,” Eric laughed.

“He just suddenly decided to swim?” She said as Eric helped her into the bath then handed Alex to her.

“Yes, but I think he was tired, too.” Eric said as he stepped in behind her. “As I said, I was getting ready to suggest that we stop when he went into the water. I could tell he was tiring.”

Sookie moved back between Eric’s legs and turned to the side so she and Alex could both snuggle up to his chest. “Mmmm – now all is right with the world,” Eric laughed as he wrapped his arms around them both.

“You were a little freaked out before, huh?” Sookie thought they should talk about this again to help with Eric’s comfort level, so she approached it gently as she played with Alex’s little hand while he snuggled against Eric.

“Yes, a little.”

“You’re OK with me doing magick, right?” She looked up at him, trying to project calm and comfort to him.

“Yes, of course, Sookie. It’s what you are meant to do.”

“What about Alex?”

“Yes, I am trying to come to grips with that.”

“OK, because I think he already knows all about it.”

“Yes, I think he probably knows a lot, too.”

“You know She’s teaching him, right?”

“That would be the logical conclusion since She is talking to him about you and your Witches.”

“Witches!” Alex giggled, as if it was his favorite word.

“You like Witches, Pookie?”

“OMba, Mamee. Majik!”

Eric immediately tensed up, and Sookie looked up at him. “Hey, no tensing up, now. You want me to rub your shoulders?”

“No, just snuggle a while longer then we’ll wash everybody’s hair. He’s going to be hungry, and then sleepy, very soon.”

“Yep, I can feel it coming, too,” Sookie laughed, “Alex is about to get hungry and sleepy,” she looked the baby in the eyes and teased him.

“Dadee wath ma ayr?” Alex looked up at Eric and rubbed his hair with his little hands, which made Eric melt and forget about anything except how cute his baby boy was.

“You want Daddy to wash your hair, my son?”

“Ee-ah!”

“Aww!” Sookie thought that was so sweet. She could tell that Alex considered that Daddy’s job if he was around, and she thought it was precious. Eric turned on the handheld and Sookie held Alex so Eric could wash and rinse his hair. As soon as he was done, Alex told him “wath Mamee ayr” so he did while Alex watched, sitting on Sookie’s knees. “Mamee, wath Dadee ayr.”

“That’s so cute, Eric he sort of knows the drill already,” Sookie said as she moved behind Eric to do his hair.

“Yes, he is very smart, this son of ours,” Eric looked at Alex with love and curiosity. How much did he know? How much was possible for him at this point? He looked in Alex’s eyes and sometimes there was a hint of something so old and powerful, even Eric was a little intimidated by it.

Sookie could tell that Eric was looking at Alex very closely and he wasn’t saying anything. “He’s beautiful, isn’t he?”

“Yes, he is. He is the most perfect thing I have ever seen, Sookie. Sometimes I look at him and I cannot believe that this is my son, this beautiful, smart baby that isn’t like anyone else on this Earth.”

Sookie knew what Eric wasn’t saying, too, but she would think about that later.

Once they were all soaped and washed, Eric made it rain over them and Alex made his “haaaa!” sound as he held his hands up to feel the water better. Eric got a big towel and wrapped Alex in it, holding Sookie’s hand to steady her as she stepped out of the tub. Sookie combed out Eric’s hair then he took the baby into the nursery for a fresh diaper while she combed her hair, wrapped herself in a towel and turned the bed down. Eric came back with the baby who, just as they expected, said “ee, Mamee,” as soon as he saw Sookie.

“Eric, can you get the nursing pillow for me?” Sookie asked as she took Alex from him.

“Of course – where is it?”

“I don’t see it in here, so I guess it’s in the nursery.”

Eric came back with the big pink pillow, noticing for the first time that it was embroidered with Sookie’s name. “My Angel, I never noticed you had this personalized.”

“Yeah, it looked so comfy I figured I’d want to use it even after I wasn’t feeding Alex anymore, so I splurged,” she laughed as Eric helped her get settled with the pillow and the baby. Alex was happy when he finally got to feed, and he grabbed Sookie’s thumb in his little hand, which she noticed was becoming a habit with him. Eric sat on the bed beside them, wrapping his arm around Sookie’s shoulders. He always wanted to be as close to them as possible when Sookie was feeding Alex. There was something about it that made him feel warm and comfortable in a way nothing else did.

“I haven’t had a chance to tell you about Alex’s reaction when he saw my swords upstairs, my Angel.”

“Uh-oh – what did he do?”

“He flew straight toward them, very excited, yelling ‘vig,’ but he didn’t touch them. I told him they were swords for fighting and he told Bjorn and then later Bobbie about them. He was beside himself when I went through a routine with my Tachi. Bjorn was holding him and said the look on his face was priceless, and he was waving his little arms as he does when he is excited.”

Alex pulled away for a second, looking at Sookie, saying “sthords por FIDEEN!” then eagerly going back to feed.

Sookie laughed in spite of herself. “You’re such a little Viking, just like your Daddy!” she said to him, and his eyes sparkled because Mommy compared him to Daddy.

“I never expected to have such love or pride for another being as I do Alex,” Eric said, getting a little misty as he caressed Alex in his Mommy’s arms. “He could not be more perfect in my eyes. I am so proud of him when he shows off for others as he did your brother and his friends earlier. They were quite taken with him, I believe.”

“Yeah, Jason was really impressed with him. I was so happy they finally got to see each other. I know Jason will be in touch more now so he can see Alex. He’s probably at Merlotte’s right now, showing everybody those pictures and bragging on how cute and smart he is,” Sookie imagined, and she was right.

Jason, Hoyt and Catfish had gone straight from their house to Merlotte’s and Jason showed the pictures to everyone who would look at them. Sam looked heartbroken as he bragged about how smart and cute he was and how Eric was expanding his property to see to his safety. Hoyt and Catfish backed Jason up when Arlene called Alex “the spawn of Satan” and Hoyt told her she ought to try reading her bible sometimes instead of always thumping on it. Jason suggested she try shoving it up her ass – he wasn’t going to tolerate any negative remarks about his nephew, period. One of the girls in the bar that had driven down from Arkansas was so impressed with the way Jason was bragging about his nephew that she wound up going home with him.

Alex was dozing off when Sookie tucked him into the co-sleeper, and she and Eric slid down in the bed and rolled into each other’s arms.

“Wow, we’re in bed early again,” Sookie said as she yawned.

“Yes, but this is what we talked about yesterday. You are tired, so let yourself drift off and I will come back after I work.”

“You wouldn’t consider the gently-while-I-go-to-sleep method, would you?”

“We haven’t done that in a while – if you promise to let yourself drift off, I will and then I’ll try to wake you later.”

“Oh, goodie!” Sookie said as she turned her back to him.

Eric took her twice, as amazed as ever that she enjoyed this, but pleased to know that having him near, and feeling him inside her made her feel comfortable and safe.

Eric went to his office to check his messages, and found that Sandy had news about the residence in Las Vegas, so he called her right back.

“Your majesty?”

“Yes, Sandy – you have news?”

“Yes, your majesty, we’ve had a very generous offer if we can move very quickly. A wealthy gentleman from Dubai will take it off our hands for 137 Million if we can close on it this week.”

“Do I need to come to Las Vegas?”

“No, I believe we can put the paperwork through and messenger it through Anubis for your signature if the price is acceptable to you.”

“Take it and get the papers to me as soon as possible. The artwork and the furniture Sookie tagged has been moved to New Orleans, has it not?”

“Yes, your highness and we can move the offices into a suite in the Bellagio until the commercial suite is available. We can move into it on August first if we want to.”

“Alright, then, move in that direction as quickly as you can. Don’t let this one get away.”

“Yes, your majesty, you can expect the papers no later than Wednesday.”

“Wonderful. Keep me informed. Good night, Sandy.”

“Good night, Sire.”

That was very good news. Eric would have that albatross off his back and off the kingdom’s books, plus the income from the sale of it. That meant Las Vegas would be back in the black by December first at the latest. He called Bill immediately in case he hadn’t heard the good news.

“Eric?”

“Yes, Bill – have you heard from Sandy?”

“No – did she get an offer on the residence, I hope? I know there had been some interest.”

“Yes, she did – 137 million, and they want to close on it this week.”

“That’s some offer – from whom?”

“All she told me is that he is a wealthy gentleman from Dubai. I don’t care if he’s from Mars, frankly, that’s a fair offer and I’ll be happy to be rid of it.”

“Yes, that will put Las Vegas in good order before the end of the year. What will Sandy do for offices?”

“They’re going to take a suite at the Bellagio until the commercial suite becomes available on August first. I told her to move on it quickly. I am very anxious to have it off our hands as soon as possible.”

“Yes, so am I. I was looking at the books for both offices and that was one of our major problems. It was draining our resources there.”

“It wasn’t doing the New Orleans office any good, either. Felipe had redirected funds to the maintenance of it that should have gone to the reconstruction. Between that and Victor’s theft, there was next to nothing going where it was most needed.”

“Well, I’ve got good news on that front. Of the 7 properties with the greatest damage, 3 are well underway, and the first will be complete at the end of this coming week. They’re already advertising for staff to re-open it.”

“Excellent.”

“Yes, and we expect at least one more complete and two others begun by the first of August. Your goal of being operational again by the New Year is beginning to look possible.”

“I was hoping that would be the case. So you found three contractors to work for us?”

“Actually, if you’ll agree to it, I found two and I’d like for us to purchase the third one. They’re fast and they’re good, but their owner has some personal problems that might make him amenable to selling his interest and staying on as manager.”

“It would be convenient to have a contractor we can call on when needed. Make him and offer and see if you can work it out.”

“Thank you. How is the construction at your place coming?”

“Very well. It happened that the men hired to work this weekend are Sookie’s brother and two of his friends and they’re very good. They made a good deal of progress and Sookie was beside herself that Stackhouse finally got to meet Alex.”

“How did he seem with the baby?”

“He was very complimentary. I think he genuinely cared about him and the others seemed pleased with him as well.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear it. Of course, he’s so cute, it’s impossible not to love him.”

Eric laughed out loud at that. “Yes, I quite agree. Anything else going on there I should know about?”

“I spoke to Ms. Antoine-de Broux at your house on Prytania St. earlier this evening. They delivered the furniture from Las Vegas tonight, so I thought I’d see how things were going and make sure nothing was damaged. Things are moving along there very nicely.”

“Already?”

“Yes, she’s already had all the rooms painted, stored some of the furniture, and the bathroom in your bedroom has been gutted and new fixtures will be put in this week. Some of the furniture for the nursery arrived as well, but they won’t open that until the construction is complete and they have the place cleaned up. She’s taking great care to keep the velvet furniture covered so it doesn’t get dusty. She took a minute and showed me some of the plans. I think Sookie will be thrilled when she sees it.”

“Good, I’m glad to hear it. We’ll be there a lot and I want her to feel at home.”

“She’ll love it. Everything here is going very well. I did get a call from Area 3 – Marcel DuPont let me know that he seized all of Sabrina’s assets and he’s dividing it up amongst the people she charged double tribute. There should be enough to cover what she owed them and then the rest will go into the kingdom’s treasury.”

“Good. Are we still getting a lot of requests for audiences?”

“Yes, you’ll need to make some trips through the territories in August. We can’t put people off much longer than that.”

“Alright, arrange a small tour for us with stops in each area between August 3 through the 8th. We’ll be heading back to New Orleans on the 10th and we’ll stay a while, then come back here. The first week in September we’ll move into the Villa at the Bellagio and I’ll hold audiences for that territory then and get some work done. You might need to be there for part of that week.”

“I’ll put that on my calendar.”

“Good. Anything else I need to know about?”

“No, things are quiet except for the construction. Have you heard from Carolina?”

“No, but I’m confident things are moving on that front. Are you still interviewing soldiers?”

“Yes, I am. We’ve got some good new people starting in August, including some Weres who are former military and we’re bringing in some fliers from overseas.”

“Everything on schedule with our little resort?” That was the code Eric and Bill had agreed on for the new training camps.

“Yes, everything is on schedule. We’ll be ready when we need to, I hope.”

“Alright, then I’ll say good night.”

“Good night, Eric.”

This would be the first time that a Vampire territory had a standing army, but given the type of organized opposition that might be forming against them, Eric knew they had better be ready. He had a mound of paperwork to get through, and it took a lot longer than he anticipated. He knew Sookie would be disappointed if he didn’t wake her, but he’d rather get this done so they could have uninterrupted time the next night. He was even considering taking Sookie to Fangtasia for a bit, though he had planned to let her rest quite a bit longer before they did anything strenuous. Still, a little change of scenery might be nice, and it might take her mind off of things for a bit. It didn’t have to be a huge deal this time around. Just a little roll around the big round bed… with bondage and a blindfold, of course, he laughed to himself.

He didn’t have the monitor with him, but he could feel Alex was awake so he went back into the bedroom and found him sucking his thumb, waiting for him. He grabbed an RM from the fridge and brought him out, closing the door behind them, then took Alex into the nursery for some quiet time. He saw the new stack of books and picked up one called My Big Animal Book that seemed to be made just like First 100 Words. Since Alex remembered “yellow” that day, he wanted to see if he could teach him any other colors. He was looking at the board book when he turned to the third page and Alex said “PISH!”

“Yes, those are fish – many different colored fish.”

“Ewwo, Dadee!”

“Yes, that is a big yellow fish. What color is this fish?” He pointed at a red one to the far right of the picture. Alex didn’t say anything but he pointed to a square on the opposite page with a Dalmatian in it. “Very good, Alex – that color is red.”

“Wed?”

“Yes, red. Is there any more red on these pages?”

“Ah!” he pointed at a red square with a chinchilla in it.

“Alex say, ‘there!’ There’s red. Or ‘this one is red.'”

“Diz wondisth wed.”

“Very good! Let’s find some more red, OK?”

“Oday,” Alex was very interested in the pictures and you could just tell he loved looking at the book. Eric could feel Alex’s interest and a strong sense of comfort and happiness. He smiled to himself that Alex liked their quiet time as much as Eric did. He turned the next page and Alex pointed to a square with a duck in it and said, “Mamee.”

Eric laughed, “Yes, that is Mommy’s favorite color, pink.”

“Peek! Dere’sth wed!” he pointed to a red square with a goat in it.

“Very good! Now what color is this, Alex?” He pointed to a blue square and Alex looked at him, then said “Wat dolor iz disth?”

“It’s blue. Can you say “blue?””

“Boo!”

“Very good, now let’s find more squares. What color is this?” Eric started pointing to different squares so Alex could answer.

“Ewwo. Boo. Ewwo. Boo. Peek. Wed. Wat dolor iz disth, Dadee?” Alex pointed to a picture of an owl in a purple square.

“That is purple. Say ‘purple.'”

“Puppo!” Alex repeated cheerfully, very impressed with himself. “Wat dolor iz disth, Dadee?” He pointed to a green square showing a kookaburra.

“That is green.”

“Dween.”

“Good Alex! Let’s try some more.” Eric turned the page and went through most of the squares, with Alex naming every color correctly. “Excellent!”

“Ee, Dadee?”

“OK, let’s just warm this up.” Eric popped the bottle into the warmer for just a minute then checked the temperature, talking to Alex the whole time. “Would you like to hear a story, my son?”

“Ee-ah!”

“Alright then, when I was 12, there was a bear – see the big bear on the back of the book? Well this big bear was eating our animals at night and my father and the other men were away at sea, so it was up to me to stop the bear.” Alex was sucking hard on the bottle watching Eric with big eyes, understanding even more than Eric thought he might, “I was already very tall, but I was skinny and young and I had only been on a hunt with many other men and boys. One night, I waited for him, hiding out by the fields where the animals passed the night. I was a fool – I could have been killed, but I was determined to stop that bear. My mother and my brothers and sisters depended on those animals to live and to trade for things that we needed. I should have dug a pit, but I was too lazy to do that. I thought I could stop him with a spear, a knife and one of my father’s swords…”

“Excuse me, Eric?”

“Yes, Bjorn?”

“There’s some suspicious movement out around the perimeter of the property. Everyone is on alert – I thought you should know.”

“Alright – I’ll be right down. What time is it?”

“Almost 5 am.”

“The sun rises at 5:20 this morning. Is it cloudy, by any chance?”

“Yes, it is – are you going to try to stay up?”

“I’m going to see what’s going on first. Let me put Alex back with his mother.” Eric slipped silently back into the bedroom, telling the baby, “shhh – don’t wake Mommy. Go to sleep.” He slipped back out to the hallway. “Is Kerik on tonight?”

“Yes, he is, he’ll be here any minute now.”

“Alright, let’s assess the situation then I’ll probably want you in the room with Sookie and Alex, just in case.”

The two of them went downstairs and consulted with the Vampire guards who were going off duty. Some of the Were guards were scheduled in an overlapping shift so they had been briefed as to what was going on. Kerik pulled up to the back lot just as the Vamps were leaving and they told him there was a problem so he hurried into the house just as Eric and Bjorn got to the kitchen where they were all meeting.

“Are the surveillance cameras working yet?” Eric asked.

“Yes, they went up earlier in the week. Christiansen is watching the monitors in the old servants’ quarters now and he’s keeping us updated,” Bjorn explained. “Jansen, Lane and Roosevelt are at the back of the property now, seeing what’s going on. Everybody else is at their post – the whole property is covered.”

“Alright, check with Christiansen and see if there’s any update.” Eric said, then he turned to Kerik. “You’ll need to take charge today, because I’ll want Bjorn with Sookie and Alex. Have you been briefed yet?”

“Yes, suspicious activity at the back of the property, strange cars down the side of the property for two hours last night. We’ll stay on alert all day. Nobody will get past us.”

“Alright, I’m going to stay up as long as I can. It may be cloudy enough that I won’t have to rest, but if not, I need to know that you are all prepared for anything.”

Bjorn came back into the kitchen from outside. “They’re pretty sure it was just some kids messing around out back, but we’ll stay focused. There’s no one out there now, and we know the people who are going to be working today. You don’t need to worry, Eric, they’ll be safe.”

“Are you positive?”

“Yes, I am. I looked at the screens myself, and there’s nothing visible. We’ve got three men out in those woods and they’ve found nothing. We have extra guards on today because of the construction. Jansen called and they found scents from three young males, but too young to be soldiers and there was grease on the ground and beer cans thrown around.”

“What about the cars at the side of the property?”

“We’re not positive but they believe they were visiting one of your neighbors and just parked there because it was out of the way.”

“That’s not enough – did they run the plates?”

“Yes, they were registered to an elderly lady from Monroe, and that’s consistent with the two women who were seen near the car.”

“Alright – Kerik, take your post and stay on top of things.” Eric waited until he went out front. “I’m going to rest, but I’m taking my cell with me – wake me if anything bad happens. In the mean time, get up there with Alex and Sookie and stick close to them today, alright?”

“Absolutely. They’ll be safe.”

Eric went to rest reluctantly, worried about his family. He would not take them away from the property tonight – he wouldn’t want them unguarded for a second until he was sure they were safe. He went to sleep praying to Freyja to watch over them.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s