LATE Chapter 080

The Goddess is Alive and…

 

Sookie actually woke up before Alex, having a sense of purpose in what she needed to do today. Alex seemed to be sleeping quietly, so she tried to slip out of bed without any noise to check her tote bag, which someone had put on the chair by the table. Just as she hoped, her book was in it. She took it and slowly crawled back into bed, hoping to get some reading done before Alex woke up.

It didn’t occur to her until later, but she was reading really fast this morning and she got through the sections on the seasonal celebrations, various rituals and she was in the middle of a section on Tarot before Alex stirred. Sookie was particularly pleased with the section that talked about mothers and sons in the Matriarchal tradition. Eric was from a post-patriarchal society and she could see how that and being a Supe shaped his attitudes toward Alex, but she hoped she could balance that out and maintain a close relationship with him even after he reached puberty. The book said Matriarchal society is based on the relationship between mothers and sons and Sookie loved that idea. As she picked Alex up to feed him she thought about the fact that Alex was a natural Witch and she hoped that would always give them a special connection to each other. If he already knew Freyja and what Witches were, she knew this would be very important in his life. She was determined to learn enough to be able to guide him to use his gifts for the good.

“Dood, Mamee,” Alex said, then went back to feeding.

“Are you reading Mommy’s mind, Pookie?” She smiled at him.

Alex giggled against her and his eyes twinkled as she gently stroked his cheek.

“You know Mommy loves you a lot, and wants to you grow up to be strong and help people, right? You can be tough and be strong and a warrior and still do good for people.” Sookie grimaced a little and wiggled a little trying to get comfortable but she needed the big pink nursing pillow… and there it was.

“Alex, did you call this pillow for me?”

More twinkling in those wise blue eyes.

“Thanks, but you know, I could have done that.”

Amusement. He was laughing at her again. She was absolutely sure that some part of him was thinking “yeah, you could do it but you wouldn’t have…” She thought about that a minute. He was right. She had the ability to do it, but it wouldn’t occur to her because it was new. To Alex, it’s just the logical thing to do – he doesn’t have to think about it, he just does it. He doesn’t understand that there are times not to do it. Then again, Sookie hadn’t really grasped the fact that there were plenty of times when there was no reason not to.

This was a perfect example. Her back was hurting trying to get comfy with Alex, and it DID make sense at that moment to call this pillow rather than be uncomfortable.

She realized this was a mental shift she had to make so that she could show Alex when to use his gift and when not to. If she never used it, he wouldn’t take her seriously. For the first time, she understood that she had a responsibility to use her gifts frequently and well so that Alex would learn how to make those decisions from her example.

“OMba, Mamee!” Alex said as he moved to the other breast.

“Ahhhha-ooooh!” Sookie let out a big yawn. She could stand to sleep a little more, but she wanted to get on with the magick today. The room wouldn’t be ready this early, though – she didn’t think they’d start working on it until 8 or 9 o’clock and it was only 11:30 now. She figured scrubbing it would take a few hours, then Leroy would paint it. The acrylic paint would dry quickly, especially with the fans going and the basement windows open all around. It was a small room and she heard Leroy tell Eric he didn’t expect it to take long with the equipment he was using. She hadn’t heard exactly what new gizmo he was going to use, but it was supposed to make fast work of this kind of room. The walls were perfectly flat and there weren’t any nooks or crannies, and just the one little window up top.

She noticed for the first time that her bedroom door was closed, which was unusual. And where was Bjorn?

At 8 am, Carrie and her cousin Lena, a plump, but very pretty Creole girl, took buckets, mops and sponges down to the basement and Bjorn showed them which room to work in. He read the written instructions Octavia had left for them, and gave them the soap and vinegar she left for them to use. They were weird instructions, but Carrie had told Lena ahead of time to just do as they asked and do it well and Mr. Northman would pay them a lot of money for the work.

Lena didn’t get a good look at the stuff piled on the folding table as they came into the back of the basement, but she recognized enough to know there was some kind of magick gonna happen here. Her grandma had been a local Mambo for a group made up mostly of sisters, aunts and cousins, so she knew that bottle of anisette and new broom meant a practitioner was moving into this room. She remembered her mama buying a new broom, sprinkling anisette on it and beating the walls with it whenever they moved into a new house or when her Aunt opened that roots and herbs shop. She wondered to herself if some of those packets of herbs out there didn’t pass through Aunt Mimee’s hands at some point. She probably knew which shop they bought those beeswax candles in, too, because there weren’t many places that carried those colors.

There were plenty of places to buy 7-day or jar candles and a skull or a black cat candle here or there, but those were hand dipped, pure beeswax in blues, pinks and purples that most people wouldn’t need or buy because the beeswax dampened the hues a bit. At least they were positive colors. She heard something about the room being painted pink, which she figured meant a lady was going to use the room. She knew the big Vampire that owned this fancy house just got married, so she figured the new Mrs. must be a Witch of some sort. Most practitioners she knew were afraid of Vampires and wore a lot of silver to ward them off. Damn near every house in her neighborhood had a string of garlic in the kitchen, too, and not just for their cookin’. It wasn’t news to them when the Vamps came out of the coffin, but that didn’t mean they were anxious to get friendly with them.

Of course, there were people, like Carrie, who weren’t squeamish enough to let it stop them from taking their money and Vamps had a lot of it. This old Vamp did pay well – he was going to give the two of them $200 a piece, in cash, for washing down this room and a big one on the top floor. It would take her two weeks at her other job to walk away with that much cash, free and clear. She’d gladly scrub floors all day long for that kind of money. They were even going to give them lunch and dinner. Carrie told her one time that the cooking alone was reason to keep this job. Margaret always sent her home with leftovers so she hardly even had to buy groceries, and it was good food. She brought home some Étouffée one time that was near as good as Granny Lou’s.

The two of them kept their heads down and worked hard, so the room only took two hours to scrub with soap, then they went over it quickly with some vinegar in clean water and put the fans in to dry it. By then it was lunch time, so they went up to the kitchen where Margaret had fried chicken and all the trimmings you could possibly want ready for the crew inside and out. Lena especially didn’t mind working here while all this construction was going on because she figured nothing scary would happen with all these extra people around.

Carrie offered to help Margaret serve, but she told her she and Alicia had it under control, so just rest while she could because the fourth floor was big and needed a good scrubbing and dusting. They got to sit in the kitchen and eat, which surprised Lena, and she figured out from the conversation that the real good lookin’ white boy was the new Missus’ brother. She also figured out for the first time that this was the Vampire with the first baby Vampire in history. She’d skin Carrie later for not telling her she worked for the Vampire king! She didn’t know she was that far into Vampire territory – Jesus, Mary and Joseph! She wondered if she’d at least get a look at that baby?

She didn’t have to wonder long, because the lady of the house walked in wearing a pink top, daisy dukes and carrying the baby on her hip.

“Mrs. Northman!” Margaret and Alicia were surprised to see her.

“Hey, Sookie!” “Mornin’ Sookie!” “Hey, Sis!” calls came from the table.

“Hey, y’all! Smells good in here!”

“Mrs. Northman, you’ve met Carrie, I believe and this is her cousin Lena. They’re helping us with the cleaning on the basement and the gym today,” Margaret introduced them.

“Hey, Carrie! Nice to meet you, Lena,” Sookie gave them a big smile, “thanks so much for helping us out today!”

“No problem, ma’am, we’re glad to do it,” Carrie knew Sookie was a nice girl – everybody said so – so she didn’t scare her a bit.

“What would you like for breakfast, Mrs. Northman?” Alicia asked.

“Actually, if you’ve got enough, that chicken smells fantastic!”

“Would you like us to make you a tray, or serve you outside?” Margaret offered.

“Have you all got room here for me?”

“Sure, Sookie, it’s your house,” Jason laughed, teasing her.

“I don’t want to be in the way, though.”

“You sit right down, Missus, and I’ll bring you a plate. Let me get Master Alex’s high chair for you.” Margaret hurried into the pantry to get the chair.

Lena was amazed. Was the lady of the house actually gonna eat with the help? It sure looked that way. And that was the Vampire Prince? He looked so normal! He was really white, of course, but he was sucking his little thumb and looking around just like any baby. She watched Sookie put the baby in his high chair and pour some Cheerios Alicia handed her on his tray.

Alex looked around the table as Sookie sat down. He didn’t know some of these people, but they were looking at him so he liked that. He pointed to Jason.

“Unah Dastha!”

“Yeah, that’s your Uncle Jason!” Sookie was excited that Alex remembered him.

“Hey, little buddy! ‘Bout time you woke up!” Jason teased him, and Alex giggled and bounced his leg just from the attention, then he picked up a piece of cereal and held it out to him. “Whatcha got there, Alex?” Jason asked him.

“Dee-os!”

“He’s trying to say Cheerios. Alex, look at Mommy – say ‘cheer-ee-ohs'”

“Dee-wee-osth.”

“That’s pretty good!” Sookie told him proudly, and Jason and his friends agreed.

Sookie got busy filling her plate from the bowls and platters on the tables and tried to include the girls in the conversation. “So, Carrie and Lena, you’re working on my room downstairs? How’s that coming along?”

“Just fine, ma’am. Our part is finished and Leroy is going to start painting right after lunch,” Carrie smiled and answered her.

“Oh, well, thank you so much! I really appreciate your help. And you’re working on the gym later?”

“Yes, ma’am if that’s the big room on the fourth floor.”

“Yep, that’s it. It is kind of dusty up there. Thanks for doin’ that, too!”

“We don’t mind at all,” Carrie said. You coulda knocked Lena over with a feather. This girl was so sweet – was she a Witch? And married to a Vampire – KING of the Vampires?

“Mmm – Margaret – this chicken is out of this world!” Sookie said when she bit into a big, juicy piece with a perfect crust on it.

“Ee, Mamee!” Alex was pointing at the chicken.

“You don’t have teeth for this, darlin’, but how about some mashed potatoes? You liked those the other night.” Margaret was there with a bowl and a spoon before Sookie could even ask for one. She put a big serving of potatoes in it and a few green beans, which she mushed up, and then she gave him a bite and he loved it.

“Ap-po?” Alex said,

“No, Sweetie, that’s potatoes.”

“Tay-tosth?”

“Yeah, potatoes, and this,” she took a spoonful of green bean mush, “is green beans.”

“Nah dween, Mamee.”

“They’re not green?”

“Nah – dere’s dween,” he pointed at Hoyt’s green t-shirt.

“That’s right! Good Alex! Did Daddy teach you green?”

“Ee-ah, dween, an,” he pointed to Sookie’s shirt, “peek, an wed an boo” he pointed to Lena’s red top and Jason’s blue t-shirt.

“Lord almighty!” Lena let that slip out but she couldn’t believe how smart this tiny baby was.

“Good job, Alex!” Sookie was tickled to death and everybody at the table said “atta-boys” at Alex and he clapped his little hands.

“Wow, you two are up early!” Bobbie said as she came into the kitchen. “What did he do now?”

“Watch this – Alex, what color is Bobbie’s dress?”

“Boo!” he giggled – he loved Bobbie.

“He learned more colors! Good job, Alex! Here, Sookie, let me feed him while you eat your lunch. Your food is getting cold,” Bobbie offered, taking the bowl of potatoes. Alicia pulled a chair around for her and she fed the baby, teasing him and talking to him, making him giggle.

“Bobbie, aren’t you going to eat?” Sookie asked

“I’ll have a little something in a bit. I’m not usually hungry when I first get up.”

“You sure?”

“Absolutely – we’re fine, aren’t we Alex?”

“Omba! Tatosth!”

“He likes potatoes, Sookie,” Bobbie joked.

“Yeah, I got that when he grabbed a handful the other night,” Sookie laughed.

“He eats food?” Lena couldn’t stand it – she had to ask. Was this kid a Vampire or not?’

“Yes, but he takes blood, too,” Sookie said with a smile, “and he’s got the cutest little fangs.”

“Eric can eat tiny amounts of food, though, too,” Bobbie pointed out.

“Yeah, that’s true,” Sookie said.

“Is he really old? I heard that really old Vampires could eat some food sometimes,” Lena remembered.

“Yes, he’s very, very old,” Sookie confirmed.

“Folks call it an ‘old wives’ tale.’ My Granny will be happy to know it’s true,” Lena said, not meaning to be funny, but Sookie and Bobbie laughed anyway.

“Does your Granny know any Vamps?” Sookie asked, genuinely interested.

“Not that I know of, but it wouldn’t surprise me. She works roots and such.”

“Oh, really? Cool! I’m learning to do something along that line.”

“You’re lucky you got a good place to do it. Most people just got a cabinet in a corner of their room.” Lena said, getting a lot more comfortable after seeing how nice Sookie was.

“Yeah, I’m very lucky in a lot of ways,” Sookie agreed. “I’ve got good teachers all around me and everything I need or want to learn what I need to learn.”

Bjorn came in from outside with Jerry Kerik right behind him. Sookie didn’t say anything, but she had a feeling something was up because they were both tense, and when they saw her, they left as quickly as they could – they just got coffee and left, barely even speaking. Bobbie and Sookie looked at each other, Bobbie shrugging her shoulders and Sookie could tell from her thoughts that she really didn’t know what was up. She didn’t have a chance to zero in on Bjorn and Jerry because they were purposely thinking “coffee, coffee, coffee” over and over to keep her out of their heads. Sookie could also see through the door that there were guards much closer to the house than usual.

She was tempted to go outside and ask what was up, but she knew Eric would be furious if there was danger around and she went out to bother the guards. He’d want her to stay in where it’s safe and let the guys do the job he paid them to do. Bjorn came back with Leroy, carrying two small cans of paint each, and he took him down the stairs in the pantry, showing him which room to paint. She expected Bjorn to stay down there, but he came back up in a hurry and went outside. She and Bobbie were both worried, but didn’t let on to the others that something might be seriously wrong.

Jason, Hoyt and Catfish thanked Sookie, Margaret and Alicia for lunch and went back to work out in front of the house, since that was nearly done and it was the biggest part of the job. The sides and back would go quickly so they’d do them all tomorrow if they could, because Bjorn had told them it wasn’t a good day to work the back of the lot, whatever that meant.

Alex finished eating before Sookie did and he insisted that Bobbie take him out of his chair and hold him, which she didn’t mind doing at all. He liked it when she held him because she always tickled him and made him laugh and gave him kisses. She was just plain fun to be around if you were a baby. Alicia was upstairs showing Carrie and Lena what to do next and then straightening in Sookie’s room, and Margaret had to do some organizing in the pantry and make a grocery list, so when she left the room, Bobbie and Sookie talked about how weird the guards were acting.

“Do you know what’s going on, Bobbie?”

“No, it’s weird – Bjorn told me earlier he was supposed to stick close to you and Alex, but then he’s been outside all morning, except when he was checking on the girls in the basement.

“Something’s up – I heard Hoyt say Bjorn told them it wasn’t a good day to work out back, so they’re trying to keep them away from the woods for some reason. You don’t suppose somebody tried to get on the property, do you? I hate to think what they’d do to anybody that posed a threat…”

“Don’t think about it, Sookie. They’ll do what needs to be done, but no more. There are new soldiers working today, so they might be doing some kind of training or briefing or something back there.”

“Soldiers…” Sookie said to herself, but she said it out loud.

“What are you thinking, Sookie?”

“Something changed in New Orleans. Until then these were just bodyguards, but now they’re soldiers. Eric hasn’t told me what’s going on because he knows I don’t really want to know the grisly details, but there’s some new threat or something and he’s changed his tactics.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t think Eric is playing defense anymore. I think he’s on offense now, whatever that means. That’s why he moved so fast on getting these fences up. He wants a serious barrier between us and whoever he’s identified as a problem. I don’t have any illusions about Eric playing nice with enemies. Nothing and nobody is going to threaten his son.”

“You think it was the silver-tipped arrows?”

“The what?”

“The arrows that hit the float in New Orleans – they were tipped in silver. They wanted to make sure…” Bobbie stopped herself.

“What? That it would K-I-L-L a Vampire B-A-B-Y?” Sookie didn’t want Alex to understand her.

Bobbie nodded.

“Yep, that would do it. We’re at war, we just don’t know it yet. Watch people start disappearing.”

“Disappearing?”

“Yeah, Eric’s not rash enough to pull a frontal assault. They’ll never see him coming and there’ll be no evidence left to find. And if they’re stupid enough to try a frontal attack on us, there’s gonna be blood and lots of it. Be prepared for that, Bobbie – Eric is not going to let an enemy walk around alive.”

“Yeah, Bjorn told me something to that effect.”

“What did he say?”

“Nobody is going to get to try twice, and there will be no more protest groups at any of Eric’s functions.”

“That means anybody who shows up is never going to make it home.”

“Right, or if they do, they’ll have been glamoured.”

“Glamour is good. I’ll take glamour whenever we can get it. It beats the hell out of straight up carnage. This is bigger than some radical FOTS rednecks, isn’t it?”

“That I don’t know. I just know that what Bill said once is true – threaten Eric’s nest and die.”

“Yep. I should be horrified at that prospect, but I’ve been through enough of these Supe wars to know that he can’t do anything less than that. If somebody wants us dead, I want them dead first.”

“You sound awfully serious in here,” Octavia said as she came into the room.

“‘Morning, Octavia!”

“You talkin’ about war?”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“That’s the cost of bein’ the boss, girls – comes with the territory. Just relax and trust your Viking to know what to do. Whoever is stupid enough to go up against him ain’t gonna stay there long. Nobody with a brain would even think of tryin.'”

“True.” Bobbie and Sookie both agreed.

“So what brought all this up now?”

“The guards are acting a little funny. We don’t know for sure but we suspect they caught somebody at the back of the property.”

“Well, then, just say inside and give them space to do what they gotta do.”

“This doesn’t scare you at all, Octavia?” Bobbie couldn’t believe she was so laid back about it all.

“Bobbie, I’ve been through everything from drunk, abusive boyfriends to hurricanes in my life, and I know without a doubt that I am safer in this house than living in a bad neighborhood in New Orleans, or probably anywhere else I could end up. That’s why I’m stayin’ here instead of with Amelia at Sookie’s old place. This is the safest spot in three states as long as Eric and his family are here. Team Viking is the catbird seat when it comes to safety.”

Sookie and Bobbie laughed at that, and relaxed because they knew it was true, and Alex laughed just because they were laughing.

“You know your Daddy’s got it under control, don’t you, little Vampire?” Octavia tickled Alex and he made his come here motion. Octavia took him in her arms and gave him a hug and a kiss, which is exactly what he wanted. “Yeah, you know that big, bad Daddy of yours is 10 steps ahead of everybody else, don’tcha? Say, “my Daddy is an army all by himself!””

Sookie and Bobbie cracked up at that and were still laughing when Leroy came up the stairs in the pantry.

“Hey, Leroy, how’s it going down there?” Sookie asked

“I got the first coat done, ma’am, and the fans are on, but I’ll do a second. I just wanted to get a drink first, if that’s OK?”

“Here, Leroy, what can I get for you?” Bobbie got up to help him.

“You got a Pepsi anywhere?”

Bobbie looked in the huge refrigerator. “Yep, here you go. You want a glass and some ice?”

“No, thank you, ma’am, I like it straight from the can when it’s cold like that. Thanks.”

“You want to sit down a few minutes, Leroy?” Sookie wanted him to feel free to rest if he needed to.

“No, thanks, Missus, I’ll just take this with me. That paint dries fast so I should be able to go back where I started and do a second coat.”

“Alright, then. Take another with you, if you want.”

“Oh, OK, yeah, that’d be good.”

Bobbie handed him a second can and he bounced back down the stairs happy as a clam.

“I just realized who he reminds me of – he’s like Jason when he was that age!” Sookie laughed. “He’s a lot shyer, of course, but that football player build and the way he walks is just like Jason. No wonder I like him so much!”

“He’s a good kid.” Bobbie agreed.

“He helped me so much with the nursery, you wouldn’t believe it. He went way out of his way to help set up all the furniture and stuff,” Sookie recalled. “He even helped me straighten it up once when Niall was coming for dinner.”

“There’s a young black man that works here, too, right?” Octavia asked

“Yeah, Lonnie – he’s taking summer classes, but he’s around as much as he can be. Eric is paying part of his tuition or something,” Sookie said proudly. “He works around his class schedule. I think he’s going to be in tomorrow, but he had something to do today.”

“It’s just them and the old gardener?” Octavia was trying to work out who all kept this place running.

“Yeah, he’s a nice man. He’s been with Eric since he bought this house.”

“It takes a lot of people to keep a place like this runnin’ as well as it does,” Octavia said with admiration.

“Yeah, we’ve got really good help. Eric seems to have a knack for hiring just the right people.”

“That’s that intuition of his. He can feel when somebody fits and when they don’t.”

“That’s true. The only person here he didn’t hire is Bobbie,” Sookie laughed.

“Sookie hired me, but I think she made an excellent choice there, too,” Bobbie laughed.

“I thought you two were old friends or somethin’, the way you get along.”

“We just sort of clicked. I was really glad she agreed to stay on after I had the baby. I was afraid she’d leave me!” Sookie said, only half kidding.

“Not a chance, Sweetie, I want to see your little bambino grow up and rule the world.” Bobbie was only half-kidding, too. She expected great things from Alex.

“Yep, this is gonna be a special soul, this one is,” Octavia said affectionately as she held Alex in her lap.

Margaret came back in the room then. “Miss Octavia, I didn’t know you were up! Would you like some fried chicken?”

“If it’s not too much trouble, I sure would.”

“Coming right up, Miss.” Margaret started dishing up a lunch for her and Sookie took the baby so she could eat.

“Mamee, dee-wee-ohs.”

“I’ll get them for him,” Bobbie jumped up to get the little box and sprinkled some on the table in front of Alex and Sookie. He was chomping on them happily as they talked, Sookie bouncing him on her knee.

“Hey, everybody!” Amelia came into the kitchen.

“Miss Amelia, can I get you a plate of fried chicken or would you prefer eggs for breakfast?” Margaret asked her.

“Chicken must be what smells so good,” she laughed as she sat down. “That’ll be fine for me, thanks.”

“Coming right up.”

“You all are up early today – what’d I miss?” Amelia asked.

“We met Carrie’s cousin, who is helping her scrub the room downstairs and the gym today. I had my breakfast with them and Jason and the boys.” Sookie looked around as Margaret stepped into the pantry, then whispered, “we think there’s something up with the guards, security-wise, but we don’t know what.”

“You think it’s serious?”

“We don’t know, but Bjorn and Jerry are really tense about it, so maybe.”

Margaret came back in so Amelia changed the subject. “So what’s the progress on your little room?”

“Leroy is doing the second coat of paint, then he’ll set the fans up and then it’s all mine.”

“Are you excited, hon?”

“Yeah, actually, I am. I kind of… woke up to something this morning.”

“What was that?” Octavia wanted to know.

“Well, I realized that if I have a talent and don’t use it when I should, Alex will be less likely to take me seriously when I try to advise him on how to use his abilities. I need to make a shift of consciousness where I actually consider doing… things… when there’s no reason not to.”

“That’s pretty good. You can’t tell him what to do – you have to show him,” Octavia agreed.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Northman – I’ll be leaving for the market now, if that’s alright?” Margaret was folding her apron and putting on her coat.

“Oh, yeah, of course, thanks!”

“Alright then, back in a bit!”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you all. Alex told Eric last night that Freyja told him we’re Witches, and he pronounces Freyja with a Swedish accent.”

Everybody was blown away by that, saying “wow” “holy smoke” “oh, my Goddess” all at once.

“I was wondering when he’d start talking about Freyja. I knew he knew Her,” Octavia said.

Alex had been concentrating on his Cheerios until now, but he heard Freyja’s name and spoke up. “Freyja – Witches!” he giggled.

“Watch this,” Sookie told them, “Alex, when do you see Freyja?”

“Ahm seepeen.”

“He sees Freyja in his sleep, just like you do?” Bobbie wanted to make sure she understood him.

“Apparently, and my hunch is that She’s already teaching him magick, so I’ve got to get ahead of him if I can so I can guide him.”

“Well, we can sure try,” Octavia assured her, “you do any more reading?”

“Yeah, this morning. I got through the part of the book about the Sabbats and some of the rituals she describes. I read a really cool part that talked about mothers and sons in matriarchal societies.”

“OK, good. Now I want you to skip to a new book. One of your new books I got you is called Natural Witchery by Ellen Dugan. It’s got a section like a mini-book in the back of it called the Book of Witchery that has some very simple charts of correspondence in it. They’re enough to get you started. I got you some very basic oils and herbs to go with it. Now call down your Journal and let’s go over some basics.”

Sookie looked at her hands and said, “Journal, come to me!” and there it was, pen still in the loop.

“Alright, now we’re going to start with the Moon. The Goddess of the Moon for your purposes will be Diana, the virgin huntress. That doesn’t mean She never had sex, it means She chose not to marry for religious reasons. That’s true of any of the women with Virgin in their titles, like the Vestal Virgins. They were Priestesses of the Goddess Vesta, the Goddess of the hearth, so they lived in a temple for women only by choice. Vesta was so much an integral part of the family home that She traditionally was not represented by statuary of any kind.”

Sookie was writing fast to keep up and Bobbie and Amelia were hanging on every word, even though they knew this stuff. It was just inspiring to hear Octavia teach because she was so passionate about it.

“Now, back to the Moon. She’s got three main phases – waxing, full and waning – which correspond to the triple, or tripartite, Goddess who appears as Maiden, Mother, Crone. Occasionally people will divide the lunar month into 5 phases which include those three plus the Dark Moon and the New Moon.”

“The Dark Moon is the most dangerous night of the month for Alex,” Sookie recalled.

“Then you best always know what day it is, so you can take precautions. Most people avoid doing magick on that night, too, because the energies are so dark. Now, almost every culture has its triad of Goddesses to play those parts. In The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries, Z. specifies Diana, Isis and Hecate. Now I vibrate strongly to the image of Isis, but you probably want to stick to Freya – it’s up to you. Do what feels right. Isis is considered the favorite name of the Goddess, who is known as the Lady of 10,000 names. Ultimately, no matter who you go through, you’re talking to Isis as the all-encompassing Mother Goddess.”

“That’s the monotheast – polytheist thing, right?”

“Right. Many realities co-existing without conflict, but all part of one whole.”

“OK, you said you got me that book?”

“It’s downstairs – call it up.”

Natural Witchery, come to me!” and she had it in her hands.

“Hey, Sookie, while you’re at it, would you call down my journal?” Bobbie asked.

“OK – Bobbie’s journal, come to me!” Sookie found herself with an armful of books falling all around her and she almost dropped Alex, but didn’t. “Whoa!”

“Oops – guess I should have been more specific, huh?” Bobbie said sheepishly as they all had a good laugh about it.

“That’s a good lesson to learn up front, girl,” Octavia continued. “You don’t get what you want, you get exactly what you ask for. Bobbie’s got about 10 books there that she considers her journals, so you got them all. You gotta think about it before you cast a spell and weed out the ways it can go wrong. That’s been a theme throughout myth, legends, jokes and even TV and movies, but people never learn.”

“Tell her that one joke, Octavia!” Amelia asked.

“You tell it – you’re the one who wants her to hear it!” Octavia kidded her.

“OK, Sookie, one time, there was this guy who found this funky lamp at a junk shop and he just had to have it. He took it home and he was polishing it up when a puff of smoke came out and suddenly there was a Jinn…”

“What’s a Jinn?”

“A male Genie… anyway, he offers the guy one wish. The man says, I don’t even have to think about this because I’ve always dreamed of this and know exactly what I want – I want my cock to reach the floor. The Jinn asks him if he’s sure that’s what the wants, he says yes and POOF! There he was with no legs.”

“Oooohh!” Bobbie and Sookie cracked up.

“It’s a bad joke, but it gets the point across – don’t leave yourself open like that. I remember reading where a girl asked that abundance rain down upon her, then she ran into a friend who had a big bag of beans and offered her some. When he went to put the bag down, it came open and she got a shower of beans on the subway.”

The girls cracked up.

“There’s another story I read on the web where a girl tried Dragon magick and asked that her living situation change, and her house was destroyed by a flood or a tornado or somethin’ – you get my point.”

“Yeah, be careful what you cast for. That’s like when Alex was born and he disappeared.”

“He what?”

“Oh, yeah, that was intense!” Bobbie remembered.

“See, I was in heavy labor and the shoulders were about to come out and I panicked and called on Freyja to keep us both safe, and he disappeared from my womb!”

“Holy shit!” Amelia could just imagine the reaction. “Where did he go? How did you find him?”

“He teleported to Eric’s and my bed. Eric heard and smelled him immediately and he zipped up and brought him back. Before I had a chance to freak out he was back with this squirming, crying, bloody little thing. It was amazing.”

“OK, and why do you think he went there?” Octavia wanted to make sure she knew.

“Eric said because I always say I feel safer in our bed than anywhere else in the world, so he went where I associated “safety.””

“Eric would make a good Witch himself,” Amelia laughed.

“Yeah, but he would freak out if you told him that,” Sookie reminded her.

“True,” Amelia agreed and they all laughed, which made Alex laugh.

Leroy came up the stairs again and came into the kitchen. “Excuse me, ma’am?”

“Yes, Leroy?” Sookie responded

“Is there a rest room around here?”

“Sure, it’s right through the den there to the left.”

“Thanks, ma’am. I’m all done painting, by the way, and the fans are running. I just gotta clean the brushes and you’re good to go.” He said as he passed them heading for the bathroom.

“Oh, great! Thank you so much!”

Leroy liked the Missus a lot but he was more than happy to be done working in that basement. It kind of gave him the creeps being down there alone, especially when he saw all those Witch books and he swore they moved themselves or something while he was down there because stuff fell on the floor that wasn’t that close to the edge of the table. You just never knew what was going to happen around this place, though the Northmans were really good to him and he’d never complain. He hoped the Missus didn’t mind him using those fancy little towels when he dried his hands on them, too, because he didn’t see any others. Boy, this was a really nice house inside it!

Leroy came back out to the den and started outside, but Sookie called him back. “Yes, ma’am?”

“Do you need another drink or anything?”

“No, ma’am I should be OK until dinner time now. I’m just gonna go mow the lawn now.”

“OK, well, thanks again!”

“Speaking of drinks, I could use some more iced tea…” Sookie said.

“I think there’s a pitcher already made up in the fridge – Margaret just put it in before she left,” Bobbie said, getting up to get it.

Once they had drinks settled, Octavia gave Sookie more notes.

“OK, you dress candles with oil before you burn them, using two fingers moving from the middle to the top, then middle to the bottom. Which oil you use depends on your spell, but when in doubt use sandalwood, especially for spells involving protection or safety. Rose oil is for love, lemon or sage are purification, vanilla is lust, bay laurel is money and success, honeysuckle is intuition, jasmine is sensuality, clove is for courage, cinnamon is firey, and gives your magick a jolt, camphor is for cleansing and healing. Incenses follow pretty much the same guidelines, but there are many oils and incenses and special blends. Follow your intuition and use what speaks to you.”

“Can I mix my own?”

“Absolutely, that’s best.”

“Remember, too, Sookie, I have almost any oil you can think of. If you want something special, just let me know.” Bobbie reminded her.

“OK, now colors – white is for everything, for peace, for the Maiden Goddess. Red is for the Mother Goddess, passion, anything about sex, birth, the body, Black is for the Crone Goddess – she’s hard core, so you call on her when you need dramatic results and you be very specific with her. Purple is for prophecy and psychic work, Indigo is for visualization, Blue is trust, honesty and calm, pink is love or comfort, green is money or healing, silver is the moon and intuition, gold is the sun and success.”

“OK, if I just really liked pink candles, could I use them for everything?”

“You could, but you’ll get better results if you use things with the right vibe for what you want to do. The whole idea is to create a strong draw or release of energy and the more things correspond to the purpose, the time, and the day, the stronger your spell. Now, some people will use 2 white candles on their altar all the time no matter what else is going on with their altar, and some will use one white and one black, but that’s more for the dualists.”

“OK, so could I use white candles for the waxing moon and red candles for the full moon?”

“Yep, good choices.”

“Do I need to know about planets?”

“Sun is success, Moon is intuition and illusion, Mercury is speed and communication, Venus is love, Mars is anger, Jupiter is luck, Saturn is restriction and obstacles, Pluto is psychic work.”

“There’s some missing?”

“Don’t worry about it. Sunday is the Sun, Monday is the Moon, Tuesday is Mars, Wednesday is Mercury, Thursday is Jupiter, Friday is Venus, Saturday is Saturn.”

“Oh, so they only focus on the seven?”

“For your purposes, yes. If you decide to study astrology one day, or you want to get more complicated, you can, but I’m giving you the instant Witch kit. You need to know this stuff I’m telling you so you can work when you need to. Now your big day will be Friday, or Freyja’s day, which is where the word comes from. Friday loves pink candles, and roses and strawberries and and rose quartz, all things I got for you. I suspect this is why you like pink so much – you manifest Her energy.”

“OK, rose quartz is a crystal, right?”

“It’s one of the gemstones, yes. I got you a few of those. I got you a good, big quartz crystal because that’s an amplifier – it makes everything stronger, turns up the volume. Don’t keep it in a room where you sleep unless it’s covered or in salt or sand to ground it. Amethyst is for healing emotions and sobriety. Bloodstone is for healing. Hematite is fantastic – it can absorb and hold pain and negative energy, but you got to clean it often or it will overflow and back up on you like a psychic toilet,” Octavia laughed at that.

“How do I clean it?”

“Sunlight, or moonlight, or running water or salt water. You’ll learn to keep a little salt packet handy for instant rituals because it purifies anything.”

“You mean like a salt packet from a restaurant?”

“In a pinch, yeah. Salt is powerful. You can scrub the back of your neck with it to make spirits leave you alone, you can completely clean out your energy by rinsing with salt water in the shower.”

“Hang on, let me catch up,” Sookie was writing furiously.

“If you’re worried about negativity or negative spirits, leave a glass of salt water on your nightstand then flush it in the morning. You can put salt in the four corners of a room all night, then sweep it up and flush it in the morning. You can mark out a circle with salt and you can purify any space with some sprinkles of salt water. Now, in voodoo circles, they don’t use salt on their altar because they think it offends the spirits. Wiccans almost always use salt and salt is big with indigenous groups. I use salt. You got sea salt and black salt downstairs.”

“Black salt?”

“Yes, it’s black from volcano ash. Good for Crone magick, dragon magick, the element of fire.”

“So, almost everything has more than one use and there’s more than one way to do everything?”

“Right, it’s just that some things work better than others and at different times. And keep in mind that different Witches have different ways. Some will disagree with what I tell you. You may find things work differently for you.”

“You tell me that a lot,” Sookie laughed.

“That’s because your natural tendency will be to forget it and get stuck in a rut. I’m trying to reduce that tendency in you.”

“OK, cool.”

“Bobbie, did you girls get a paint marker?”

“Yeah, we did, while you were in that health food store.”

“OK, well, when we’re all done eating, we’ll go downstairs and look at what we’ve got to work with.”

“I’m ready!” Sookie said

“Me, too!” Bobbie was raring to go.

“Just let me put my dish in the sink,” Amelia said. “Here, Octavia, I’ll take yours, too.”

“Should we take the baby with us?” Sookie asked

“Yeah, why not? He knows more about this than we do,” Octavia laughed.

Everyone agreed with that so the five of them headed downstairs, Bobbie and Amelia carrying the books with them.

The fans were turned on high so the basement seemed loud when they went down and there were some lingering paint fumes, which was to be expected. “Ok, we won’t be lighting any matches down here just yet, but we can mark out the circle on the floor and go over the tools. First, we’re going to make Sookie’s cord. Now there are two ways to do this, but we’re going to use the easy way, which is to stretch out pieces of this cord, braid them and measure the braid to 9 feet.”

“We can do that, while you two go over tools, if you want,” Amelia volunteered.

“OK, good. Now this…”

“Sookie?”

“Yeah, Bjorn, we’re down here.”

Bjorn came bouncing down the stairs. “You scared me!”

“I’m sorry – we should have told you we were coming down here.”

“It’s good to let somebody know – if I’m not around, tell one of the other guys, or at least Alicia – she didn’t know where you were, either. You going to be down here for a while?”

Sookie looked at Octavia who said, “Yes”

“OK, they’re still planning to do burgers on the grill, but it would be better not to go out until dinner. If you decide to go back upstairs, let me know, OK?”

“Yeah, I will. I’m really sorry.”

“Not a problem, just keep me informed. I’ll check back with you in a bit.”

“Thanks, Bjorn.”

“Yep, somethin’s goin’ on,” Octavia confirmed. “He wouldn’t be that tense over a suspicion. I’d say they caught somebody in the act.”

“What do you mean?”

“He doesn’t want people outside because there’s somebody out there who isn’t supposed to be there, but he’s going to handle it by dinner time.”

“You think they’ve got, like, a prisoner?” Sookie asked.

“I’d bet money on it,” Octavia said, “so everybody stay inside until he says otherwise. My guess is he’s waiting for Eric to rise, so be prepared for him to be occupied tonight. Now, this is…”

“Athame!” Alex said. Amelia’s and Bobbie’s jaws were on the floor.

“Yes, it is,” Octavia said, amazed. “Alex, what’s this?”

“Gwystal.”

“Right, it’s a crystal. What’s this?”

“Gando.”

“Right, candle.” Octavia was more interested in this than Sookie right now. She wanted to see how much Alex already knew because it might be important for Sookie and Eric to know that now. “What’s this?”

“Pendago.”

“Pentacle, right. What’s this?”

“Wan”

“Wand, right, and this is…?”

“Sald.”

“Salt, good.” She picked up a small image of a Goddess with a spiral shape in her womb, intended for use as the center piece on Sookie’s altar, “what’s this?”

“Freyja!” he giggled, delighted.

“You like Freyja?”

“Ah WUV ma Mamee!” He kissed Sookie on the lips.

“Oh, yeah, he says I’m Freyja.”

“You forgot to mention that.” Octavia knew she skipped that part because it made her uncomfortable, and she wanted her to KNOW that she knew it.

“I just thought he got confused.”

“Don’t stand there and lie to me, girl. Words have power. You want to make your words accurate so when you speak your spells, there’s power in them. Don’t waste energy on words you don’t mean.”

“OK, yeah, I didn’t tell you on purpose.”

“Own it, Sookie. It doesn’t make you an egomaniac. It makes you accurate.” If she accomplished nothing else with Sookie, she was going to drill this into her so she didn’t fritter away her power. “There’s a line between confidence and conceit. Stand on it.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Sookie wasn’t being smart, she knew Octavia meant business.

“Inthen, Mamee!”

“What?”

“I think he’s saying incense. You like incense, Alex?”

“OMBA!”

Octavia held it up to his face and he snuffed a couple of times and said “mmmm!”

“Smells good, doesn’t it?” She tickled his little chin and he said, “ee-ah! Wosthesth,” he pointed.

“Roses, right,” Octavia picked up a bag of dried roses.

“Oi-ah.”

“Oil.”

“Mang-ed.”

“Magnet.”

“Ee-ah.”

“Wow – I don’t even know what to say about you, kid,” Amelia said to Alex. “Octavia, we’re going to start marking off her circle.”

“Make sure you start in the east and go clockwise – that’s what Freya told her.”

“Right – we’ll use pencil first,” Bobbie assured her.

“Good. Take this compass and mark the directions inside the edge of the circle.”

“Wow – you got me a compass, too?”

“Yeah, you need to make sure you’re using accurate directions with that energy of yours. It’s too big to be careless with it.”

“Woogie, Mamee, tawo cahdsth!”

“Yeah, Tarot cards. Mommy’s got lot to learn, huh?”

“Nah.”

“I don’t?”

“Nah, Tho-mode-id-be,” he pointed out with his finger and said it like he meant it, which reminded Sookie of Shirley Temple pouting out the “you’ll awake with a tummy ache.”

“What?”

“So mote it be,” Octavia translated. “That’s the way you wrap up a spell. He’s telling you all you need to do is do it. Ask and it shall be done.”

“Ee-ah, Mamee.”

“Alex, did Freyja teach you any spells?” Sookie already knew the answer to that.

“Wada, erf, eh-a, fya, bwing do me wad ah dezyah,” he said, then stuck his thumb in his mouth.

“Holy Mother Goddess,” that one even blew Octavia away.

“What did he say?”

“It’s a manifestation chant – “Water, earth, air, fire, bring to me what I desire.”

“Alex, have you ever used that spell?” Sookie asked him.

“Nah.”

“Why not?”

“BA!” He held out his hands and his little green Nerf ball Niall had given him was in them.

“He knows an easier way to do it. He’s past incantations, at least as far as calling things goes.” It wouldn’t take much more for Octavia to be scared of Alex. What could Freyja be thinking, teaching all of that to such a tiny baby? Or maybe…?

“OK, is it just me or is that way freakier even than him being able to talk at all?” Sookie asked.

“Well, it depends. If he actually remembers that, it’s pretty far out there. I’ve got a feeling that’s not all coming from him, though.”

“Where’s it coming from? Freyja?”

“That would make more sense at this point. He can call things, he can sic that falcon on people – maybe he’s just able to channel whatever he wants from Her?”

“You aren’t sure?” Sookie couldn’t believe Octavia didn’t know.

“I’m gonna have to study on this. You gotta remember, girl, we’re all learnin’ as we go with this one. There’s never been one like him before.”

“So our working theory is that he can channel what he wants or needs from Freyja… does that mean I can, too?”

“I’d guess yes, maybe even more easily than he can if you gave yourself permission. He doesn’t need anybody’s permission. He just does it.”

“Gave myself permission?”

“Yeah, see, humans have much greater capabilities then most of them ever explore because culture and religion have been designed to make them deny their power so they’re easier to control. Robert Anton Wilson said, “We are all giants, raised by pygmies, who have learned to walk with a perpetual mental crouch.” That’s from Prometheus Rising, another book you have to read.”

“It’s by a man? Is it Wicce?”

“No, it’s about thinking, using your brain. There’s some sexist crap in it, of course, but like with any book, you take what you can use and leave the rest. If I could make every person on the planet read one book, that would be it.”

“It’s that good?”

“The concept is that important. See, each of us has what he calls a “reality tunnel” that’s made up of how we were raised and what we’ve learned or internalized, so we’re all looking at a small part of a big picture. If we all knew at least that, we’d try a lot harder to get along. We’d use our brains a lot better. Most people never grow past the moral and ethical reasoning of a 15 year old. There is literally a world full of people walking around, making decisions, with no more depth of insight than a young teenager. We all have the capacity to grow past it from about the age of 16 forward, but most never do. People who go through some additional schooling are more likely to, but with colleges becoming more like vocational schools, even that isn’t a guarantee anymore.”

“I don’t know what you mean about colleges and vocational schools.”

“A vocational school is a place you go to learn a job – you learn the jargon, the processes, the functions, and that’s your sole focus. Colleges are becoming like that, where you study mostly one subject, even in spite of the Liberal Arts requirements.”

“Isn’t that what college is for?”

“It’s not supposed to be. It used to be a place where you went to learn how to learn. You learned how to think, explored philosophies and sciences and read literature that opened up your mind and your heart. That’s an education.”

“Do people still get that?”

“Some, but most employers want drones who don’t or can’t think for themselves. Independence is a pain in the ass on an assembly line. The smartest people are not necessarily the most successful.”

“My Gran used to say that decisions weren’t made by the ones who show up, they were made by the ones who could stand the stupidity you have to deal with to get into a position of power.”

“She’s right. Look at the 500 plus people in our Congress. Are they the wisest people we can produce? Nowhere near it. They’re the ones who fought their way through corrupt local politics and kissed enough ass to raise enough money to get where they are. Anybody able to get elected to office is usually the very last person you’d want in office. Oh, well – the point is, most people aren’t very bright, so you don’t want to limit yourself by what most people think is possible. Get out there and find out what is possible for yourself.”

“OK, so what are some rookie mistakes people make when they start doing magick?”

“The classic mistake, after careless wording, is that they clear things out without filling them back up. Every tom, dick and harry can do a clearing ritual to get the negativity out of a space or a thing or a person, but they forget to put back in what they do want. Remember this phrase – “Nature abhors a vacuum.” If you don’t fill the space you just emptied out with something positive, any damn thing might slide into that empty space. I’ve seen people have to battle with some nasty spirits because they didn’t do proper clearing and filling, or they opened themselves up without proper precautions.”

“Is that like being possessed?”

“Not Linda Blair possessed, but there are bad spirits just as there are bad people and you need to be reasonable in how you approach them. If you live in a bad neighborhood, you learn to lock your doors, that’s all.”

“Are there demons?”

“Of a type – think of them as Daemons, which just means a kind of spirit without making assumptions about their origin or intent. Angels and Fae are daemons, too.”

“Have you ever seen an Angel?”

“Several kinds, actually. I saw a big archangel after the funeral of a young man who committed suicide, or overdosed, but I think suicide. I’ve seen little healing Angels in pastel dresses flying around the head of a woman who was about to have surgery to restore her eyesight, which worked, thanks to those Angels. And I’ve seen Angels who are sort of a better class of Faerie, which is something you might end up learning a whole lot about.”

“Why would I learn about them?”

“Because I’m pretty sure you’ll have to become one before you move up to the Pantheon.”

“HUH?”

“Don’t panic. It’s just a theory at this point.”

“How would that work with me being turned Vampire?”

“Good question. Luckily, I don’t think we have to have those answers while you’re breast-feeding that little Angel there.” She nodded at Alex, who was paying attention to everything as if he knew what they were saying.

“Me doe, Mamee,” Alex said as he flew out of Sookie’s arms and into the altar room where Bobbie and Amelia were working. Sookie started to call him back, but Octavia stopped her and said, “let’s see what he does.”

Once he was in the room he just gently floated around the circle in a clockwise direction, as Bobbie and Amelia were drawing it. He made slow circles several times then made his “come here” motion to Sookie and said, “ina thirco, Mamee.”

“He wants you in the circle with him, Sookie. Go ahead and see what he does.”

“Sorry, guys, I’m just following the baby,” Sookie said as she stepped around the girls still working on the circle.

“No problem, Sweetie, just let us know if we should get out of the way.”

“Nah, nah, Babee, thirco” Alex made it clear that he wanted them to finish what they were doing, so they kept going. Alex reached out his hand to Sookie and she took it, immediately floating up into the air. “Fyeen, Mamee!”

“Holy shit!” Amelia said. Bobbie was speechless. Octavia was tickled to death.

“Octavia, will I fall if I let go of his hand?”

“I don’t know, darlin’ – try it and see.”

Sookie tried to get herself as upright as possible, took a deep breath and let go of Alex’s hand – and stayed right where she was.

“OK, Sookie, try coming out of the circle toward me,” Octavia told her and she did, finding that she slowly got closer to the ground the further away from the circle she got, so she went back in and went right back up.

“OK, what does that mean?”

“One of two things. Either you float easier in the circle because you expect to, or you need the circle to amp up your energy to fly.”

“Any idea which one it might be?”

“I think it’s easier when you’re in the circle, which is why Alex called you in there. He wanted to show you that you could do it.”

“OK, so now what?”

“Float back out here and see if you can get up the stairs without touching the ground.”

“Ee-ah, Mamee, fyeen!” Alex flew out of the room toward the main room and Sookie willed herself to follow him and she did. Alex easily zipped up the steps, but Sookie only made it half way then she found herself on her feet. Alex came back down, took her hand they floated back into the back room and into the circle.

“Well?”

“I got half way up and landed on my feet, then Alex took my hand and brought me back here.”

“OK, looks like you’ve got to build your muscles.”

“I need to practice, you mean?’

“Yep.”

“Should that be necessary?”

“Probably not, but something in you thinks you ought to have to work for it, so you’re going to have to work for it.”

“Oops – there’s a drop of moisture on the floor here, Sookie. I think Peter Pan up there needs a dry nappy,” Amelia laughed.

“It’s almost dinner time, anyway. Why don’t we all head upstairs,” Octavia suggested, not wanting to overwhelm Sookie and knowing she was almost there.

“I want to neaten this up a little,” Amelia said.

“I’ll change the bambino for you, Sookie. Come on, Alex,” she held her arms up and he landed gently in them, giving her a hug. She gave him a kiss and a tickle and took him back to the service elevator so they could go up to the nursery.

“You guys go on up,” Amelia said, “I’ll be right behind you when I get this evened out.”

“OK, we’ll see you upstairs,” Octavia motioned to Sookie to come on and she followed her upstairs.

Alicia and Margaret were getting burgers ready for the grill and had barbecue chicken and barbecue ribs, too.

“Wow, what a spread!” Sookie said, pleased that everyone would have so many choices.

“We figured it was Saturday night so we’d party a little,” Alicia laughed.

“Good idea! It all smells so good!”

“We’re ready for your brother and his friends tonight, too – I got them some beer.” Margaret said proudly.

“Oh, they’ll love that. They’re gonna love these ribs, too! Jason will be beside himself,” Sookie laughed.

Octavia was proud of Sookie. The flying thing was a big deal, but she was taking it in stride, at least for the moment. This was all a lot for anyone to process, and even just being in the house with it was intense. She couldn’t imagine what kind of stress Sookie was under with all these changes that were washing over her, but between the girls, the baby and Eric, they were keeping her well grounded. Octavia was glad she could be there to see all this happen. Sookie had a solid support system, and Octavia knew that was by design, too, and she was glad she was a part of it.

Bjorn came in from the back yard, and said, “You guys can sit outside if you want. It’s really nice out.”

Sookie and Octavia went out to the picnic tables and Sookie noticed that the vans that the guards used were all the way back at the edge of the woods. If they had somebody detained, they probably stowed him in there waiting for Eric. Octavia noticed her looking out that way, and told her “just trust him, Sookie. He’s got you covered.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s one of the hazards of the occupation as they say,” she           tried to laugh it off, but she knew whoever was in those vans was dead before sunrise. She didn’t think she’d ever get used to that aspect of Eric’s world, but she also knew that she didn’t want to. She wanted to retain enough of her humanity to feel bad when someone dies, even if they richly deserve it.

Carrie and Lena came out next, and Jason walked in from the extra garage. Leroy and the old gardener came in for dinner and Hoyt and Catfish came in from the side of the property. Some of the guards came in to eat, including Bjorn and Jerry, and just as everyone was getting settled, Eric was up.

“Hey, Sweetie! I didn’t realize it was time for you.”

“Apparently not, since Amelia was still in the room downstairs,” he whispered to her.

“Oh, no – did she…?”

“No, I waited and she came up a few minutes ago. I think she’s in the bathroom in the den. Things are moving along on that front apparently?”

“Yeah, great – wait ’til I tell you, but later. You need to talk to Bjorn before you do anything else.”

“Yes, I do. I’ll be back, my Angel,” he kissed her and followed Bjorn and Jerry back to the servant’s quarters.

Amelia came out closely followed by Bobbie and Alex, who got put into his highchair at the end of the picnic table Sookie always sat on.

“Are you all fresh now, Pookie?”

“OMBA!”

“Yeah, he got washed and powdered and all kinds of good stuff, didn’t you, buddy?” Bobbie teased him.

“Ee-ah!”

Jason came to the table with a huge plate of ribs. “There’s my little buddy! How you doin’, Alex?”

“Dood!”

“That means ‘good'” Sookie explained, and Jason laughed and nodded.

Lena was busting with questions after seeing Eric. Why hadn’t Carrie told her she worked for a big gorgeous Vampire king? He was so pretty it was unreal and he was huge! She noticed he was really romantic to his wife, though, which was sweet, but she had a feeling there wasn’t a whole lot about him you’d call sweet if he was a king.

“Ee!” Alex pointed at Jason’s plate.

“Alex, you can’t eat ribs…”

“They’re falling off the bone, Sookie, he could probably handle a little bite,” Bobbie speculated.

“You want to try a bite, Alex?” Jason offered

“Ee-aah!”

Jason took a fork and flaked some meat off the bone, making sure it was mashed up, then fed him a bite and he went wild for it!

“Bi! Bi! Mamee, Bi!”

“OK, Alex, hang on and Alicia will bring you some of you own, OK?”

“Oday. EESH!”

“What do you want, Baby E?” Alicia teased him.

“Bi!”

“He wants some ribs, Alicia. He needs really tender ones.”

“OK, Alex, hang on.” Alicia grabbed a little Styrofoam dish and filled it with meat and sauce, mashing it up really well. While she was doing that, Sookie noticed Bjorn and Jerry heading to the woods and Eric came back up to the back yard.

“DADEE!”

“There’s my boy!” Eric said, smiling and scooping him out of his highchair for a hug and a kiss. Alicia sat the bowl on the tray for the highchair and left it for him. Eric pulled up a side chair next to Sookie and sat down with Alex, taking the bowl off the tray. “Are you going to eat this, my son?”

“OMba, Dadee! Dood!”

“It is?”

“Bi!”

“That means, “Daddy what are you waiting for? Feed me!”” Sookie laughed.

Eric gave the baby a bite of meat and he purred, it was so good, “Mmmmm!”

“He loves this, Sookie,” Eric thought it was cute how excited Alex was, “what animal is this?”

“It’s beef ribs.”

“Cattle?”

“Yes, in barbecue sauce, which I’m surprised is not too spicy for him.”

Eric sniffed the meat and took a bite, Lena watching him with big eyes to see a Vampire actually eat. “Mmm, I have to agree with my son – this is quite tasty.”

Lena couldn’t wait to get home and tell her Granny Lou!

Eric continued to feed Alex until he was finished, then snuggled him up under his chin for a few minutes, kissed him on the head and said, “stay with Mommy, alright, Alex?”

“Oday.”

“Good boy.” He put Alex back in the high chair and said, “I might be a while, Dear One.”

“Yeah, I know. Do what you have to do – we’ll be here when you’re done.”

He kissed her on the forehead again, and headed back toward the woods at a pretty good clip, but not at Vampire speed so he didn’t alarm anyone. Sookie kept herself busy talking to everyone and entertaining Alex, and she ate nearly an entire barbecued chicken.

“Sookie didn’t you have chicken for lunch?” Bobbie asked her

“Yeah, I did.”

“That’s a lot of chicken…”

“Yeah, it is, but is was so good!” She laughed at herself. “Everybody wants me to gain weight, so I’m doing my part,” she laughed and everyone around her did, too.

Jason whispered to Bobbie, who was sitting sort of between him and Alex, “why do they want her to gain weight?”

“She’s a little too thin for a breast feeding Mommy. We’re afraid she’s going to get run down. She didn’t gain nearly enough weight with the pregnancy.”

“She’s not sick, is she?”

“No, but she needs about 15 pounds on her, to make sure she doesn’t get sick.”

“Oh, OK. I noticed she’s lost weight, but I didn’t know it was a problem.”

“It’s not, yet, but we want to make sure it doesn’t become one.”

“Oh, yeah, well, good. I’m glad you all are watching out for her.”

“Yeah, she’s got lots of people looking out for her. We won’t let her get sick – don’t worry.”

Jason was satisfied with that. He thought she looked pretty good, but if they were taking care of her, he figured that was a good thing.

Hoyt and Catfish got to talking to Carrie and Lena and figured out that their Granny knew Hoyt’s Mama from her church group, so that kept the conversation going and nobody but Bobbie was noticing that Sookie kept looking out back to the woods.

” VBEE! VBEE! Dadee FIDEEN! VBEE!” Alex started yelling and bouncing in his seat, and Sookie tried to laugh it off, but she made excuses that he wanted ice cream and took him in the house because it flashed through her mind that he might try to fly back there. She couldn’t decide what to do and he was still going crazy so she went to the service elevator and took it up to their bedroom. Alex tried to fly out of her arms as she approached the door to the room so she held him tight and locked the door once they were in the room.

“Alex, Sweetie, calm down. Daddy will be back in a little bit.”

“Dadee FIDEEN!”

“Yeah, I know he’s fighting, but he won’t want everybody to know that. It’s a secret, shhhh!

“Nah, Nah, Mamee! FIDEEN!” He popped his fangs and was hissing like a snake, his little hands clawing at the air.

‘Well,’ Sookie thought to herself, ‘this is better than having him inside me kicking.’

She put him down on the bed but he was instantly in the air looking for a way out of the room. “Alex, no. You stay here. Daddy will be angry if you go out there. Be good for Daddy. Remember Daddy told you to stay with me?”

Suddenly, Alex stopped flying all over the room. He hesitated for minute, then he flew back into Sookie’s arms. “Are you going to calm down now?”

“Dadee nah fideen.”

“The fight is over?” Sookie said gratefully, feeling through the bond that Alex was right.

“Ee-ah!”

“OK, that was a little intense for Mommy. How about we lie down for a bit and wait for Daddy?”

“Oday.”

Sookie held onto Alex and walked on her knees across the bed to her side, then put him down on Eric’s pillow. “There, you’re in Daddy’s spot. We’ll wait right here and he’ll come see us, OK?”

“Oday. DO-EE!” Alex opened his hands and called his toy dragon to him.

“Wow – I didn’t even think about Toy today.”

“Ma dwadon.”

“Yeah, he’s your dragon.” She smiled at him and petted the soft toy he was snuggling in his arms. He laid his head back on Eric’s pillow, and she could tell that if she was very quiet, he’d drop off to sleep in a minute, so she leaned back and waited. Sure enough, in just a minute or two, he was asleep. She picked her book up off of her nightstand and decided to read, but that lasted about 2 pages before she was asleep, too.

“Wake up, my sweet Angel…” Eric was speaking softly to her as she opened her eyes and stretched.

“Hey, Daddy! Where’s Alex?”

“Right behind you in the co-sleeper. I moved him so I could snuggle up with you.”

“Good, hold me.” She raised up so he could get his arm under her head and she wrapped her arm across his side. “So, we had an intruder?”

“Two, actually.”

“FOTS?”

“No, this is a new group.”

“Even worse, huh?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“They’re never going to report back, right?”

“Right.”

“Won’t people know what happened to them?”

“They might suspect, but there will be no proof. There is nothing left to find.”

“OK. Your son went berserk, you know.”

Eric laughed out loud. “Do you know where that word comes from?”

“No – why? Is it a Viking thing?”

“Yes, there were fierce warriors that transformed themselves into bears in the frenzy of battle. They were called the Berserkers.”

“Well, your little “bear-sarker” wanted to fly back there and help you kick ass. I had to lock us in here to keep him from joining you. He kept yelling “Dadee fideen, vbee! I’m just glad he didn’t think to teleport back there!”

“We’ll have to keep in mind that he naturally goes toward conflict. We don’t want him to endanger himself or anyone else.”

“You better have a talk with him, Eric. He’ll listen to you.”

“He listens to you, Sookie…”

“He laughs at me. He loves me, but he thinks I’m funny. It has to come from you or he won’t take it seriously.”

“Alright, when he is awake later, I will talk to him. A warrior needs to know when not to fight as well as when to charge forth.”

“Good. Thank you. Do you know he knows a whole magick spell? He told it to me and Octavia today. I couldn’t believe it!”

“Really – a whole one?”

“Yeah, it was short, but he said it. I asked him if he had ever used it and he said ‘no’ and I asked him why and he called his ball that Niall gave him. He knows it, but he knows an easier way so he doesn’t need it.”

“What did Octavia say about it?”

“She thinks he channeled it from Freyja, rather than remembering it himself. She thinks he can pretty much access whatever he needs from Her.”

“That is a great thing, Sookie. She won’t let him abuse Her gifts. You and She will guide him and he will be honorable.”

“Yeah – and, also, he had me flying today.”

“YOU FLEW?” Eric was elated at this news.

“For a bit, yeah. Bobbie and Amelia were painting that circle on the floor in my room downstairs and he went in, flew a few circles, then called me in. He reached out and I took his hand and immediately floated up in the air. Octavia had me try to go upstairs but I only got half way before I was on my feet. Alex took my hand again and flew me back to Octavia. She says I may need to sort of build my muscles.”

“How did you like flying?”

“It was kind of nice, but I don’t know how I’ll like it if I’m able to go up in the air. I’m afraid of heights.”

“If you can fly, you cannot fall. If you can get up there, you can stay there, or let yourself down gently. Do not fear it, Sookie, it is a great advantage. Imagine if you and I could have flown out of the Pyramid.”

“We wouldn’t go without Pam…”

“If you could have flown yourself, I could have carried Pam.”

“Yeah, I guess so, huh? So, I’ll practice it. Did you look at my room?”

“Yes, it looks very good.”

“I need to figure out when it’s safe to light a candle down there.”

“It’s probably fine now. I’ll check it for you to be sure.”

“Thank you.”

“Did you have enough dinner?”

“Yeah, I ate a ton.”

“Good. I was afraid you had to come in before you finished.”

“Nope, I ate. I wonder if there’s any watermelon left, though?”

“There is – Margaret told me to tell you she saved some for you. Your brother and his friends said to tell you good night and they will see you tomorrow.”

“I forgot all about them! I hope they don’t think I was rude…”

“I don’t think so – they knew you had to tend to the baby. That was explanation enough. They had a good dinner and a few beers and went to Merlotte’s.”

“OK, good. I had to get Alex indoors so quickly I didn’t have time to really explain. I just said he wanted ice cream and brought him in.”

“I told them you were probably putting him down for a nap and that satisfied them.”

“OK, well, that was kind of true after you got finished. We both dozed off.”

“You were reading, I see?”

“Yeah, Octavia has tons of stuff for me to read, but I seem to be getting through it pretty quickly.”

“Good, focus on that while you have lots of time.”

“She gave me notes today she called the “Instant Witch Kit,” that she said should be enough to get me started. I still don’t know how to do a full ritual, though.”

“I believe she said that is your next step, as soon as the room is aired out a bit. She and your other Witches were discussing it amongst themselves.”

“Cool. So do you have to work tonight?”

“No, tonight, I am all yours.”

“Goodie!”

“I had considered taking you to Fangtasia, but I’m afraid it would be unwise given the problem we had today. It’s best to stay inside the fences.”

“They aren’t done yet, though, are they?”

“Yes, the perimeter fences are in place, though the concrete is still setting. Tomorrow your brother and company will grade the back of our lot and then we’ll be ready for sod grass to cover it all until you decide on your landscaping.”

“Wow, that was fast.”

“Yes, and I feel much better now that it is done. Did you notice the little guard buildings in back?”

“No, the only thing I noticed today was the vans all the way at the back of the lot.”

“Ah, well, behind that is a small guard stand that will have access to the surveillance equipment and communications with the front office and the house.”

“The front office?”

“Yes, they have a sort of headquarters in the old Servant’s Quarters that was remodeled. It looks unassuming, but it is full of state of the art surveillance equipment. Every part of the grounds can be monitored from there. There’s another guard stand in place out by the entrance to our property, too, so all who enter must pass by armed guards.”

“OK, that’s good, I guess?”

“It’s very good – it’s much safer this way. The landscaper will be here Monday to show you his ideas. Alicia will advise you on that, if you need her.”

“OK, cool. You want final approval, though, yes?”

“Yes, Bjorn and I both need to check the final design for safety.”

“OK, that’s good.”

“What would you like to do tonight?”

“Later, I want to show you some of my new stuff, which Alex somehow already knows the names of better than I do, but for right now, can we just snuggle?”

“Absolutely, my Angel.”

“Do you think I should cut my hair short?”

“Absolutely not.”

“You don’t like short hair?”

“I do not. Also, your hair is glorious – I love the way it reflects the light when we dance. I wouldn’t stop you if it was what you really wanted, but I’d be sad if you changed your hair.”

“OK, good.”

“Good? Didn’t you want to change it?”

“No, I just wanted to offer in case you were getting bored with me.”

“Sookie, you are never boring. We will be married a thousand years and I will never bore of you. You fascinate me.”

“Mmm – good answer. Let’s get naked.”

“Oh, yes, now that is a good idea,” he started undoing her shorts. “Since I saw you in those shorts earlier, I’ve thought of nothing else but getting you out of them.”

She giggled and let him completely undress her, then she pulled his shirt over his head and started on his jeans. His fangs were already down and his eyes were sparkling with excitement. “By the Goddess, Sookie, I have never smelled sweeter perfume in all my long life.” He was kissing her all over, then, so quickly she didn’t know it was happening, he was on his side, hand under her head, biting her neck. She didn’t know how it was possible, but she was coming before she realized he had moved. She could tell from the way he was sucking the wound that he was trying to draw it out as long as he could. He was savoring her and it was the most erotic thing she could remember.

It was the oddest sensation, but the way his tongue and his lips were caressing her neck, the way he was bearing down with his teeth, felt as if he was doing that to another part of her, too, and she was responding as if he were. Just from the way he was drinking her, she felt another orgasm washing over her and as she reached the peak of it he began to stroke her between her legs, his fingers somehow emphasizing what he was doing to her throat. She couldn’t feel the bed underneath her anymore – she was writhing, but she was in a void where nothing existed but Eric’s scent, his lips and teeth at her throat, his hand between her legs, his fingers inside her. She felt cool, blue-white air flowing over her skin, then the movement drew quickly in to her nipples and they felt as if they received a quick little electric shock. Her eyes flew open but she didn’t see anything, all she could do in the blue-whiteness of it all was feel. She felt Eric’s cock pushing inside her and everywhere his skin met hers was bright violet light, cold and hot at the same time. Was this what it felt like to die?

Why that thought flashed through her mind then, she’d never know but it was there in a flash and then gone as the bright violet pressed against her flesh, leaving handprints in her mind, everywhere he touched her and he touched her everywhere. She convulsed and wrapped her legs around him, digging her nails into his back, making electric orange trails on his skin. She could no longer tell where she ended and he began, and she could no longer tell if she was having many successive orgasms or one infinite crescendo that pulsed and continued for hours and hours. If you told her they were in this place for a week, she would have believed you. There wasn’t anything like time, or day or night here. There was just his body singing against hers, violet bursts of pleasure against her skin as they floated in space. ‘This is new,’ she thought to herself, ‘he’s never done this to me before.’ She didn’t know what “this” was but she was coming again, or still coming, she wasn’t sure which, and he was speaking that language he spoke when he was out of his head.

There was a flash of bright orange, then they were tangled up with each other, but fully in their bodies, but something was different. Sookie opened her eyes as he drove into her over and over and she realized they were floating above the bed. Fear shot through her and she started to fall, but he growled “no!” and held her up. She threw her arms around his neck and held on, sure she would fall to the bed if she let him go. He moaned and rolled her around in the air, taking her faster and faster, then raring back and biting her breast savagely. He lowered them slowly to the bed as her last orgasm faded and they lay in each others arms, both seeming out of breath, though she knew he didn’t breathe.

They were both facing upward, neither able to speak, but Eric was quietly laughing. When Sookie could form words again she asked him, “did we just fuck in space?”

“That’s as good an explanation as any.”

“You were doing something new…?”

“Yes, but that went places I’ve never been before.”

“And we were having sex in the air at the end…?”

“Oh, yes, my darling Angel, we were,” he was still laughing.

She shook her head side to side, trying to clear it, “I feel like I don’t have any bones again. How do you make me feel like I’m jelly?”

“Shhh – Sookie. Stop trying to make sense of it. Just let yourself ride the wave of it and enjoy that we are together.” He entwined her fingers in his and squeezed them to reassure her. She let out a big yawn, and he rolled on his side, taking her face in his hands and gently kissing her lips, her cheek, her eyes and then she knew nothing but sleep.

Eric lay there and looked at her pretty face a long time. There were no words for what he felt for her. They were moving into places where there were no words now, places humans never knew while they inhabited living bodies. It occurred to him that she was never going to lose her special scent – she was either all Fae now, or something beyond Fae, whatever that might be. She was a butterfly coming out of her cocoon – she had just been waiting for him to awaken her. Whatever she was, wherever she was going, he prayed to Freyja that he and Alex be able to go with her. He couldn’t live without her now, and he would never try. Bloody tears flowed from his eyes as he looked at her. If anything ever happened to her, he would not want to live. He would live with her or he would not live at all.

“Shhh, my golden warrior, we will always be together now.”

He froze. That was Freyja’s name for him, Her golden warrior – She was speaking through Sookie again as she slept.

“Freyja, Min Vackra Gudinna, I must speak to You.”

“Come to Her rose-colored room and I will meet you in the circle there, my Lover.”

Eric moved as swiftly as he ever had in his long life, closing the door to the room behind him and moving so quickly that no one in the house could see him pass them. He flew down the stairs and into the pink room, closing the doors and falling on his knees in the circle. “Come to me, my Goddess. Speak to me, I beg You.”

He was bathed in golden light and he looked up as She stood before him in a fine red gown and her cape of feathers. He stayed on his knees and straightened up before her, and he felt her soft hands on his cheeks and her lips, like the petals of a rose, soft against his lips.

“Have faith in Me, Erik, and have faith in Her. We are only at the beginning. There are wars to be fought and destinies to unfold, but you will do it together, the three as one.”

“The other child… ”

“Have faith in Her. Her Mother’s heart will tell Her what to do when it needs to be done. All that is has a time and a place. It will be when it must be and not one second before. Rise to your challenges, and all will be well.”

“What are my challenges?”

“Keeping them alive…” and She was gone.

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