LATE Chapter 083

 

Prince Alex goes to Walmart 

 

“So what can I do to help?”

“Use your telepathy whenever we have new guards on the property or when we are out in public. That may be our greatest tool. If you can zero in on someone thinking about what they’re about to do and we can stop them before they actually do it, that’s a huge advantage. Scan the air throughout the day and see if you pick up on anything that seems off. Remember when we were attacked by the FOTS terrorists in that house in Texas – you could have heard them if you were scanning for it, couldn’t you?”

“Yeah, they snuck up on us. So you want me to scan often and see what I hear?”

“Right. Pay attention to Alex, too. He has your telepathy and I’m not sure but I think his works on Vampires. If he has a bad reaction to anyone, let me or Bjorn know instantly.”

“I’m pretty sure if I concentrate, I can read Vamps now. The volume is still really low, but it’s there.”

“Try every chance you get, but most importantly, listen to unknown humans. Anyone who isn’t family is suspect. Garner will try to get a mole inside our organization just as we’re sending one into his.”

“We are?”

“That’s the plan. I’ve got to get somebody on the inside to feed me intelligence and Bjorn has a contact with the right experience and a hopefully untraceable connection to the Vampire world.”

“So he’ll help you know what they’re planning?”

“Yes, and hopefully, once we understand the structure of the organization, he can kill Garner. If we can get rid of him before he gets a movement behind him, it’s less likely that anyone will step into his position of leadership. Right now, New Centurion’s interest in us looks more like his pet project than a true anti-Vampire movement, but that can change rapidly. I’m especially worried about the remnants of the FOTS floating into his sphere of influence.”

“You aren’t going to take Garner out by yourself?”

“He’d be very hard to get to. His security is as good as mine. I’ll watch for an opportunity, of course, but he won’t leave himself open anymore than I would.”

“Would they ever try an actual war against us? Like lobbing bombs over the fences?”

“Or using a grenade launcher? I don’t know, but I have to act as if that is a very real possibility. I’m pretty sure Louisiana law enforcement would look the other way if there were a terrorist attack on us. We can’t count on them for help. We must help ourselves.”

“Do you ever feel like it’s us against the whole world?”

“Yes, my Angel, I do, but that is common in all times and places.”

“It is?”

“Yes, it is, especially from the perspective of a warrior.”

“That’s a drag.”

Eric laughed, “yes, it can be. Most warriors look at it as job security.”

“So how to you protect against a grenade launcher?”

“You don’t let them get close enough to hit anything.”

We aren’t that far from the fences, are we?”

“Not quite, but the fences are not our perimeter. They merely appear to be our perimeter. Our property line extends quite a bit further in every direction.”

“It does?”

“Yes, so that if anyone tries to approach the fences, they’re already on our property. You come on my property with a weapon, I am allowed to defend my home.”

“You really think the law would care about that?”

“The law will latch onto that to keep from having to deal with the Vampire power structure. They’re doing everything they can to pretend that we don’t exist.”

“OK, do we have bomb making materials here?”

“No, but we do have explosives.”

“Do you have permits and stuff like that for them?”

“No, Sweetheart, we are operating under the law in that respect.”

“Do other Vampire Kings and Queens have to do this?”

“To an extent, yes, but not on the scale we will be doing it.”

“Why are we going so far with it?”

“We have a larger territory and a higher profile. Our family is in the tabloids almost daily. That has good points and bad points.”

“Can I ask a question you don’t want to answer?”

Eric laughed. “What might that be, my Angel.”

“What’s Sang Riche?”

Eric stopped smiling then. “Sang Riche?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen it in paperwork around here and I’ve seen some ads for it in magazines and on line. I know it’s one of your businesses you’re keeping on the QT, and I know you don’t want me to know what it is, but just suck it up and tell me.”

“They are very, very exclusive clubs for the Vampire elite. 1 million dollars a year to join, by invitation only, locations in 13 major cities.”

“Uh-huh. They’re more than that, Eric. What’s the part you don’t want me to know? We aren’t supposed to keep secrets, remember.”

“Yes, of course, you are right. They are… brothels.”

“Brothels? Like, whore houses?”

“Nothing so crude, I assure you. There is no force involved or coercion. The most attractive men and women in the world work for a designated period of time for very great amounts of money to provide blood and sex for those used to the very best of everything.”

“Isn’t that illegal?”

“Many things we do are illegal, my Angel. We have no choice but to operate outside the law in certain areas.”

“Isn’t it immoral?”

“That is a value judgment, Sookie. Each individual must decide that for themselves.”

“You don’t believe it’s immoral, then?”

“No, I believe it is good business. You see a demand for a commodity, you provide the commodity for a premium, everybody is happy.”

“Isn’t the commodity boys and girls, though?”

“No, my Angel, they are subcontractors providing their skills for our customers.”

“Fucking is a skill?”

“Yes, of course.”

“And blood is…?”

“A commodity. People sell their blood every day, my Angel, even before we came out. These people will be providing an exclusive delivery system for a premium product and they will be paid very well to do so.”

“OK, so how is it different than a girl standing on a street corner?”

“That girl is a virtual slave. She often cannot leave her job, she may be beaten, sold, traded, she is probably a drug addict and often spreads disease. She is not paid fairly for her work if she’s paid at all.”

“And your subcontractors don’t have any of those problems?”

“They work for us only when they want and do only what they want. They make 6 figures a year, they have the best medical care, the most luxurious accommodations, strict security, no drugs are allowed, and they will not be harmed beyond the extent of somewhat exotic sexual activity and feeding.”

“Would you want me to work at one?”

“No, my Angel, you are married.”

“If I had worked at one and you met me, would you still marry me?”

“If you were you and I was me, absolutely. We are destined to be together, Sookie, you know this.”

“Does this make you a pimp?”

“Sookie, you know I don’t like you using coarse language.”

“OK, procurer, then?”

“In the broadest sense, I suppose.”

“And me and Alex?”

“No, my Angel, it doesn’t touch either of you.”

“How doesn’t it?”

“This is the business of the kingdom. You are supported by my own private funds.”

“Alex is the Prince. I’m the Queen.”

“Yes, but no one would hold you responsible for our business dealings.”

“Why get into this at all?”

“This is not us getting into prostitution, Sookie, this is us getting out of it.”

“Huh?”

“Felipe was hip deep into the white slavery type of prostitution. I got us out of it. Drug trafficking, too.”

“But you’re starting these?”

“To replace that lost income. I have a duty to the kingdom to maintain our income.”

“So this isn’t greed?”

“No, greed would be if I allowed those other activities to continue and profited from them. Eventually, I might be able to close the Sang Riche chain as well, but if I’m going to stop the other, I must replace that lost income with something. No one gets hurt in this situation. This is the best compromise I can come up with. People are flocking to it, Sookie. It’s like a much more exclusive Playboy Club.”

“Everything you’re saying is completely logical, but part of me still has a problem with it.”

“Your two week vacation technically ends on the 24th of this month. Sang Riche Dallas opens on the 25th. Go to the opening with me and you can see for yourself what the club is like. You’ll see people you know, and you’ll have a clear picture in your mind when we discuss it.”

“You really want to take me there?”

“There is no reason not to go, Sookie. It will be a very elegant party.”

“OK, I guess, we’ll check it out. That’s only fair.”

“Thank you, Sookie, I was hoping you would agree to go.”

“People will know you own these places right?”

“Not technically, no.”

“No?”

“My involvement is more… covert.”

“But you do own them?”

“Yes.”

“But you’re ashamed of them?”

“No, I’m not ashamed of them.”

“So why is your involvement “covert?””

“Because the American tax system isn’t set up to interact with a Vampire kingdom.”

“Are you cheating on your taxes?”

“No, not at all. If anything, I’m probably paying too much in taxes.”

“Because the tax codes are not in synch with the way Vamps function.”

“Correct.”

“So what happens if you get audited?”

“I hand them a gorgeous set of books carefully crafted to cover all of our activities.”

“Wow – you have tons of stuff to take care of, don’t you?”

“Yes, being Regent is a lot of work. Fortunately, so far, I have good people to whom I can delegate authority and things are getting into shape. Our accounts were horrid under Felipe and Victor, but I’ve almost got things in the shape they ought to be in. I hope to have us turning a profit by the first of the year, and we should be up to date with our tribute to the Council since they’re trading off that debt for pictures of us.”

“Did they set the date for that yet?”

“Not that I’m aware – they’ll call us at some point and let us know what to do.”

“I guess it won’t hurt anything since we’re apparently in the tabloids all the time anyway.”

“True. Have you read any of the pieces?”

“No, and I think Bobbie and Alicia try to keep it all off my radar so I don’t freak out.”

“I’m sure that’s best. You have enough to contend with – you don’t need nonsense to distract you.”

“Yeah, true. By the way,” she gave him a big kiss. “Thank you!”

“What is that for?”

“Everything. I just don’t say thank you enough for everything you do to make my life better. You’re a perfect husband, all things considered.”

“I hope that is so, my Angel, because you are most definitely the perfect wife. I could not ask for more.”

“Aww, you’re a Sweetie!” Sookie let out a big yawn, so Eric insisted that she turn over and Eric rubbed her back for a while. “Eric?”

“Yes, my Angel?”

“Tell me a story about what it’s like to sail to China, please?”

Eric laughed. “Alright, well, travel by sea has some extreme conditions for a Vampire. You have to travel as cargo and feed from the scurvy crew…”

Sookie cracked up. “The scurvy crew, huh? Does a vitamin deficiency in a human affect the Vampire that feeds on them?”

“You can sustain yourself on a deficient human, but you don’t really thrive. It’s almost as bad as feeding on animals.”

“Can you feed on animals?”

“In a pinch, it will keep you alive. It doesn’t taste good as human blood does, but if it’s that or starve, it beats starving.”

“Has the taste of humans changed over the years?” She yawned and was clearly slowing down, so Eric knew she’d soon be asleep, so he kept rubbing her back and talking softly.

“Yes, through the last few centuries and especially since the Industrial Age, they’ve become a bit metallic and a lot of them have a sickly-sweet after taste.”

“Like mine?”

“No, your sweetness is very natural, like watermelon is sweet. Humans taste like the way they describe saccharine. It’s a chemical taste, not a natural one.”

“I taste like watermelon?”

“A little bit, yes. I’ve heard others say cantaloupe, but it’s definitely closer to watermelon. There’s no tart undertone as with cantaloupe. It’s pure sweetness.”

Eric continued talking about his first trip to China, and Sookie fell asleep. He was hoping she’d sleep some more. Sex would have been nice, of course, but he wanted her to rest a lot while she could. She wasn’t really up to par yet, and he knew they were overdoing it. Her little body still needed to catch up from the birth and from what he understood about breast-feeding, that burned a lot of calories, too. He and Bobbie agreed that Sookie still needed to gain some weight.

Eric was less than thrilled to hear that Sookie was starting to work out already. He understood that she wanted to have tight abs, and that was fine, but Eric felt it was too soon and he planned to tell Sookie that when he could approach the subject gently. He reminded himself that he needed to talk to Dr. Ludwig about Sookie’s human weaknesses. He’d be very happy when they were no longer a problem. He did agree with Sookie’s idea to get into prime condition before being turned, but he was going to insist that she do it slowly so that she didn’t get sick. He didn’t see a thing wrong with Sookie’s body right now, and he had told Bobbie that she was only to work out if she was well rested first.

Bobbie had thought that Eric would be as happy about it as Sookie was, but he explained that he thought women today were ridiculously thin and he didn’t want Sookie trying to look like a boy. He was quite happy with a few curves, but mainly he thought Sookie still needed more rest. He wanted his bouncy, sweet Sookie back and the bounce just wasn’t quite there yet. He was tempted to try to pay Dr. Ludwig to order her to stay in bed for a few days. He had noticed that any time she sat still for a few minutes she started to doze off and he knew that meant she was still very tired.

Eric was about to go back to work when Alex woke up cranky, so they spent some time walking and talking as he gave him a bottle. He gradually got him calmed back down and he had a distinct impression that Alex had had a bad dream that woke him up but he couldn’t get a clear picture what it was about.

“Were you scared, Alex? You know you’re safe, right? Daddy is here and everything is alright.”

“Dadee ear?”

“Yes, Daddy’s here.”

“Ware di Mamee doe?

“Mommy is in bed sleeping. Did you have a bad dream about Mommy?”

He pointed to the wall, mumbled a little and said, “Mamee?” so Eric took him back into the bedroom and turned on the soft light in the headboard.

“There, see Mommy?”

Alex leaned down and insisted on touching Sookie and he looked at Eric with tears in his eyes and said “Mamee seepeen?”

“Yes, Alex, she’s just sleeping. You want to lie down with Mommy?”

“Eeah, Mamee,” he gave that exaggerated nod and Eric lay down with Alex between him and Sookie. Alex kept touching Sookie’s face to make sure she was warm, Eric assumed, and at one point, Sookie opened her eyes and said, “Hey, Pookie!” with a big smile then went back to sleep. Eric noticed that Alex seemed to relax all over once she did that, like he knew Mommy was alright now.

It never occurred to Eric that a baby might have a nightmare. Dreams, yes, and he certainly expected Alex to have visions but Sookie was fine so that didn’t seem to be the case. He was pretty sure that Alex was just remembering a bad dream. Eric didn’t want to leave Alex alone if he was scared so he turned the lights off and stayed with Alex until it was very nearly dawn and when he got to his cache, he sent Bjorn a text message telling him he thought Alex had a bad dream about Sookie so he should keep an eye on them both, just to be safe.

Alex woke up at 7 and Alicia was there with a bottle so he didn’t wake Sookie. Eric had re-emphasized to all the staff that Sookie was to rest over and above anything else she did these two weeks. He felt that was falling too far down the list of priorities. Alicia had moved the appointment with the landscaper later in the day, too, because Eric felt that a noon appointment was too early. He wanted her back on her sleep-until-2 PM schedule for the remainder of her holiday.

Alex woke again at 9:40 and 11:15 and he didn’t want to sleep at all after that second bottle, so Bobbie took him into the nursery and they sat on the floor and played with toys for over an hour. He especially liked a little blue rocking horse that she put him on and moved him back and forth. He even managed to sort of hold onto the handles.

Alex insisted on “Mamee ee” at 1:30 so they let him wake Sookie and she fed him as she dozed. By 2 they were having their breakfasts in bed. Alex had oatmeal and apples, served up by Bjorn, and Sookie had oatmeal, eggs and toast. After they ate, Sookie and Alex did their dancing and Alicia encouraged Sookie to stay in bed a while longer because the landscaper wasn’t coming until 4:30. Sookie and Alex stayed in bed and played with Elmo until 3:30 when Bobbie helped her take a shower with Alex. Sookie made up her mind that tonight, come hell or high water, she, Eric and Alex were going to find time to soak in the tub. She was missing that way too often for her liking, night before last notwithstanding.

Sookie wore a little yellow terry dress with a zipper in front and her Birkies to meet with the landscaper, James Reeves, and the old gardener, Howard. They used the dining room since he had large drawings to show her and this way he could spread out his art supplies and make drawings on a blank he brought with him. Sookie liked all of the sketches she was shown and she saw how certain aspects of the layout were fixed – the drive that went around the inside of the perimeter of the fences inside the trees, and the large space between the front gate and the house. Sookie chose a fairly formal water feature for the front of the house, a rectangular pool with one large and two small fountains. There would be colorful beds of flowers all around it, with some swan sculptures and a statue of Aphrodite to the left of the central pool because Eric had specified he wanted Goddess statuary.

An informal walking path would run from the house to a pair of benches that would sit behind it facing the road. When asked if she wanted any form of statuary in the large fountain in front, she didn’t even have to think about it before she said she wanted a mermaid of some sort in the center. The area between the house and the formal pool in front would be marked with amorphous shapes of pink and dark blue ground cover and small shrubbery with pink quartz gravel marking paths in between. The house was to be repainted an eggshell color and also at Sookie’s request the window shutters and facings would be changed from dark blue to burgundy. The Goddess fountain would remain in front of the living room window, but a flowering cherry would be added to the front yard out to the left of the rose bushes at the dining room windows and another to the right of the garage.
Mr. Reeves showed Sookie two possible places for a gazebo and she liked the one between the Servant’s Quarters and the back garage. She wanted a huge hammock put in it that would hold her, Eric and Alex all at the same time. She chose flowering shrubs to go around the perimeter of the fences where the trees that were being moved outward didn’t fill in. At her request, some large weeping willows would be placed at the back of the property toward the woods where the ground became swampy.

More flowering cherry trees would be added between the summer kitchen and the site of the new chalets and Sookie asked for more pink, dark blue and lavender flowers in the beds between the pool and the other buildings out back. It was going to take miles of sod to fill in the rest of the yard, but the landscaper promised that would all be in place by Friday and the rest of the decoration finished within a week.

Sookie was pretty stoked about the new design.

“Did you hear all that, Alicia? Did I do OK?”

“You did very well. The yard will be lovely with all those flowers and those flowering cherry trees will be spectacular in the spring.”

“Yeah, I love flowering trees and shrubs – flowers of any kind, really. What else is going on tonight?”

“You mentioned something about calling a cousin, I think?”

“Yeah, Claudine. I want to see if she can meet me and my girls for lunch,” Sookie laughed.

“Yes and Mr. Northman said something about a trip to Wal-Mart? Plus, you need to approve some items for Ms. Antoine de Broux:”

“OK, cool. Let’s do the decorator thing first, then I’ll call Claudine, then it should be dinnertime and we’ll talk about whether we want to try to take Alex out in public.”

They went into Sookie’s office and Sookie picked which paintings she wanted in the bedroom an in the baby’s room. She never considered putting real art in a kid’s room but there was a cute Matisse that would fit right in there between the Dr. Seuss bedding and the red curtains so Sookie agreed with the decorator that it was the good idea. She saw a couple of shots of the downstairs and loved the way it looked.

“I’m looking forward to going back, Alicia. I want to see what all she did to it.”

“I’m pretty happy with the pictures I’ve seen of mine and Margaret’s apartment. I think it’s going to be very comfortable.”

“Yeah, I hope so. We’re going to be there a lot while Eric has all the construction going on in the Quarter. I know he’s leaving more to Bill than he really wants to so I can rest. There are tons of parties and things when we go back this time.”

“Yes, I’ve been thinking about that. I’m going to have to make sure you have a selection of day and evening clothes, though we’ll certainly do some shopping while we’re there.”

“Yeah, when we go back I have to be Queen Sookie.”

“That’s not so bad, is it?”

“No, it’s really kind of wonderful, but I like sleeping in and playing with the baby more than I’ll like any of that.”

“You’ll still sleep in most days and you’ll still have your morning time with Alex. Mr. Northman won’t let you get so busy that you don’t have time for the baby. I’m sure of that – he won’t let you get overloaded.”

“Yeah. We’re going to be there for the holidays – are you going to be able to see your kids while we’re there?”

“Yes, Mr. Northman has already given those of us with family time off then and he’s going to have a big party for the single men and women in his employ. We all get our bonuses 2 weeks before Christmas, too, so we have money to shop and travel with.”

“Oh, good! I want everybody to have a good holiday. I’m already getting psyched for it. I want Alex to have awesome Christmases.”

“You seem like a person who would love the holidays.”

“Definitely. Let’s see… I guess I need my address book to get Claudine’s number….”

“Actually, it’s in your address book on the computer there.”

“It is?”

“Yes, I transferred all your information for you some time ago. The book is up in your room, but I believe all the information is right here.” Alicia opened the address book on the Mac and Sookie found her cousin’s number quickly. Alicia went out to give Sookie some privacy as Sookie dialed the number and wrote a note to herself to put Claudine’s number in her iPhone, too.

“Ciao, darling!”

“Claudine?”

“Yes, Sookie,” she laughed, “How’s everything? I hear my new little cousin is quite a pistol!”

“Yes, he’s something alright. Would you like to meet him?”

“Sure! What did you have in mind?”

“I have a lot of questions about the Fae and stuff around my life and my pregnancy and I was hoping you’d meet me and my Witches for lunch and we could chat.”

“Your Witches – this is the older African-American woman Niall told me about?”

“Yes, and my friend Amelia, who lives in my old house, and my doula Bobbie. Bobbie knows Claude, by the way.”

“Bobbie… she’s a masseuse, right?”

“Right. I was hoping you might be available Friday afternoon? Say, 2:00 at Hannigans in Shreveport?”

“Sounds good, Sweetie! I’ll see you and the royal entourage there!”

“OK, cool!” Sookie hung up suddenly excited about the idea of going out to lunch

“Hey, Alicia are you out there?”

“Yes, dear, what did you need?”

“This might sound a little weird, but do I need to make reservations at Hannigan’s since there will be so many of us there for lunch?”

“It might not be a bad idea. Are you going to feed the guards that go with you, too?”

“Yes, I wouldn’t feel right having them there and not letting them eat.”

“Alright, let me ask Bjorn how many there will be and then I’ll call the restaurant. Bobbie has the baby in the den, by the way.”

“Oh, cool!” Sookie went bouncing off into the den where Alex was sitting in the middle of the ball pit, throwing balls for Bobbie to catch. “Is he keeping you busy, Bobbie?”

“And how,” Bobbie was out of breath, “I think he’s making me fetch,” she laughed.

Alex extended his arm toward Sookie and waved his hand from side to side, trying to get Sookie’s attention. “Da, Mamee?”

“What, Sweetie?”

“Dat wed?”

Sookie looked where he was pointing and saw the little house-shaped sorting set with a red roof, so she picked it up. “Is this what you want?”

“Ee-ah!” he nodded and made his “come here” motion with both hands.

“Has he ever played with that before?” Bobbie asked.

“Not that I know of. I figured he’d play with the stuff in it even if he was too young to put the blocks in the right shaped holes.”

“Bring him up to the couch and let’s see if he can do it?”

“OK,” Sookie laughed, picking up Alex and the toy set. She set Alex on the big couch next to Bobbie and sat on the other side of Alex. The seat of the couch was so big that there was plenty of room to spread the toys out for Alex. “See, Alex? This block is a triangle and it goes in here. This one is a square, and it goes here…” she continued, showing him where each block went into its same shaped hole on the roof, then she dumped the blocks in front of him and sat the house where he could probably reach it.

Alex picked up a block and put it in his mouth for a minute, then looked it over very closely. Sookie and Bobbie figured that was all he was going to do, so they started talking about what Margaret was fixing for dinner. Alex had the triangle block in his hand and reached for the house. Sookie was still talking, but she held the little house over to him so he didn’t have to stretch. He tried the block at the different holes, pounding a little here or there, then he managed to line it up with the triangular hole and said “dat!”

“Oh my Goddess, did he just…?” Bobbie started as Sookie opened the roof of the house.

“Yep, there’s a block in there. That had to be an accident, right?”

“Give him another block and let’s see.”

“Here you go, Alex, can you get this one into the box?”

Alex lifted the roof of the little house as he’d seen Sookie do and threw the block in, making Sookie and Bobbie crack up. “That’s good, Sweetie, but I meant to find the hole that’s shaped like it on the roof!” She tapped on the roof of the house to show him.

“Oday,” Alex said as she handed the circular block back to him. He tried a couple of different holes before settling on the circle and pushing it through. “Dat!”

“Yeah, I see that!” Sookie said with delight as Bobbie applauded. Alex giggled and smacked his hands together, very pleased with himself. He reached for a square block and slid it around the roof of the toy house, slipping the block into the square hole and yelling, “dat!” and giggling again.

“You think you’re smart, dontcha, Pookie?” Sookie teased him and tickled him and he said “ee-aah!” He grabbed the plastic star-shaped block and quickly found the hole it went into then he reached for some larger stuffed shapes that came with the set, saying “ba!” as he pulled back the round one.

“Yes, that’s a ball. It’s also a circle.” Sookie told him.

“Thirco?”

“Yep, and this is a cube or a square.”

He just blinked at her. Those were hard words.

“And this is a triangle or a pyramid.”

“Pywamid! Isthisth!”

“What, Sweetie?”

“Did he just say Isis?” Bobbie perked right up at that possibility.

“Ee-ah, Babee, Isthisth!”

“Is that…?”

“Hang on a minute, Sookie. Alex, who is Isis?” Bobbie wanted to explore this a little.

“Goddesth!”

Bobbie and Sookie looked at each other. How did Alex know the name of an Egyptian Goddess?

“Do you know any other Goddesses, Alex? More Goddess?”

“Diana,” he said, clear as a bell. “Freyja!” he said with a perfect Swedish accent. “Wee-annah.”

Sookie looked at Bobbie. “Rhiannon?” Bobbie guessed

“Ee-ah,” he giggled. “Ama, Achera, Tdiamadt”

“Ama, Ashera, Tiamat?” Bobbie repeated

“Eckaday, da Mohrdiga, Ap-prodydee.”

“Hecate, the Morrigan, Aphrodite? Do you know any American Goddesses?”

Alex stared at her.

“Goddesses from here – near here,” Bobbie tried to clarify.

“Donanthin, Ersthulee, Wy Buffo Caff Omah, An-Nanthee.”

“Tonantzin, Erzulie, White Buffalo Calf Woman, Ananzi?”

“Ee-ah.”

“Wait,” Sookie said, “he knows them but can’t pronounce them?”

“There are certain sounds his brain can’t figure out how to make yet. He hears himself saying them correctly.”

“OK, and is that him or is it Freyja?”

Alex was dumping the things out of the house to play again.

“I don’t know that there’s a difference, Hon, anymore than there’s a difference when something is either you or Freyja.”

“So he’s Freyja, too?”

“Maybe, or maybe not directly – he’s at least a really clear channel for Her.”

“Is that what I am?”

“Dat!”

“No, you’re a manifestation – a channel is like a radio that plays the music, you’re the chorus of the song itself.”

“The chorus – so a part of it, but not all of it, but part of the whole.”

“Right. And I say chorus deliberately because there might be many of you in the chorus at once, or overlapping or singing different parts that don’t touch each other.”

“OK, that’s sort of making sense to me. So Alex could be the chorus, or he could be the radio.”

“Right, but as the radio, theoretically, he can play the whole song. You’re the chorus, but not the whole song.”

“Dat!”

“OK, so who controls the volume? Can he change channels, control the volume, and all that?”

“He’s at the controls, but I’m pretty sure it’s his higher self rather than being limited to his literal self.”

“OK, what’s a higher self?”

“Dat!”

“There’s a part of a person that is eternal, that knows everything you’ve ever been or ever will be. It’s your direct channel to Goddess. Some people hear it speaking to them when they’re a kid, or even as an adult, as an older, wiser version of themselves.”

“I thought I did that, but then I realized that voice was Freyja.”

“That’s because you’re a Goddess, not human. If a human does it, it’s their higher self. Your higher self is the Goddess Freyja.”

“OK, where do the Fae fit into all of this?”

“I have no idea. I don’t know that any human does, though it’s possible. It would probably take a Faerie to explain it and they’d have to trust a human a lot to do that I’d imagine.”

“Woogie, Mamee!” Alex held his hands up to the sides, “ah gahn.”

“You did that really fast, Pookie!” Sookie scooped him up and tickled him, then covered him with kisses.

“We’re having lunch with Claudine on Friday, by the way,” Sookie laughed as she wrestled Alex around, making him squeal and giggle.

“Cool! I hope she doesn’t mind me taking notes, because I’m taking my journal. Claude never wants to talk about the Fae.”

“I hope Claudine does – I told her what I wanted, but she might just be coming to meet Alex. He was the first thing she asked about.”

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”

“Yeah, me, too!” Alex was wailing with laughter as Sookie blew raspberries on his tummy.

“Someone is having a good time,” Eric said from the doorway.

“Hey, Sweetie! You’re up early again – I guess it’s cloudy out, huh?”

“Apparently. I’m avoiding the windows, just in case.”

“Guess what Pookie can do? Show him, Alex!” Sookie dumped the blocks out of the little house and Eric knelt in front of Alex on the couch, reaching over to kiss Sookie, then kissing Alex on the head. Alex held a block up to show it to Eric and then he slid it around the lid and put it through its hole, “Dat!”

“Very good, Alex!” Eric was thrilled.

Alex continued with the other three shapes and Eric made a big deal of it each time, telling him Daddy was very proud of him when he finished with the fourth one.

“OK, now watch this,” Sookie added, holding up the stuffed triangle shape to Alex, “What’s this, Pookie?”

“Pywamid! Isthisth!”

Eric was shocked. “Did he just say…?”

“Oh, yeah, listen – name some more Goddesses, Alex.”

Alex reeled off most of the names he had listed for Sookie and Bobbie.

Eric sat back on his heel, amazed at his son. “How is he doing that? Can he know so many?”

Sookie looked at Bobbie, who said, “my guess is that he’s channeling it from Freyja.”

“Sookie, can you do anything like that?”

“I’ve never tried.”

“Try now,” Eric wanted to see if this was unique to Alex. If Sookie could do it, it might come in very handy.

Sookie started slow, then got faster and faster. “Ok, well, Freyja, of course, and Isis or Au Set, and Diana, Elli, Frigga, Hella, Urd, Indunn, Sunna, Astarte, Istar, Ashtoreth, Ama, Rhiannon, Morgan, Aphrodite or Venus, Ariadne, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kore, Juno, Athena, Hera, Arachne, Erzulie, Yemaya, Oya, Tiamat, Bast, Hathor, Sekhmet, Kali, Kwan Yin, Amaterasu, Arianrhod, Astarte, Artemis, Brigid, Ceres, Flora, Fortuna, Hestia or Vesta, Pomena, Minerva, Innana, Lilith, Maat, Nephtys, Nuit, Persephone, Selene, Cailleach Bheur, Cally Berry, Coventina, Cerridwen, Danu, Epona, Habondia, Macha, Olwen, Scathach, Belisama, Aine, Baka, Heket, Kauket, Menhit, Meskhent, Mut, Neith, Nekhbet, Nut, Renenet, Satet, Selkis, Seshet, Tawaret, Tefnut, Unut, Wadjet, Wosyet, Gaia, Eurynome, Rhea, Iris, Nike, Themis, Chasca, Copacati, Mama Allp, Mamacocha, Mama Kuka, Mama Oello, Mama Quillya, Mama Zara, Pachamamam Ashnan, Damkina, Ereshkigal, Guia, Ki, Nammu, Nanshe, Ningal, Sarapanit, Sirtir, Asase Yaa, Annis, Badb, Baubo, Baba Yaga, Grandmother Spiderwoman, Ananzi or Aunt Nancy, Inaria, Kalma, Lara, Libintina, Mother Holle, Nicneven, Sedna, XochiQuetzal, Aveta, Bendis, Bona Dea, Corn Mother, Cybele, Mastor-Ava, Rainbow Snake, Tlalteutli, Aditi, Al-Lat, Anumati, Caireen, Cuba, Edusa, Iyatiku, Levana, Modron, Rumina, Tatsu Ta Hime, Ostara, Seshat, Aega, Anahita, Andromeda, Anunit, Arawa, Athenesic, Auchimalgen, Britomartis, Stella Maris, Mary, Candi, Chang-0, Coyolxauhqui, Dae-Soon, Gnatoo, Gwaten, Hanwi, Hina Hine, Hina-Ika, Huitaco, Ix Chel, Izanami, Jezanna, Juna, Komorkis, Lasya, Lucina, Luna, Mama Quilla, Mawu, Metzli, Yolkai Estsan, Zirna, Medusa, Pattini, Saule, Shapash, Sointse, Uelanuhi, Wajo, Wurusemu…”

“Stop Sookie,” Eric laughed.

“Wow – I guess I can, huh?”

“Apparently. I wonder how long you could have continued?”

“I don’t know, but I didn’t feel it slowing down at all.”

“We need to come up with things for you to try. Did you try to land on the ceiling yet?”

“Eric – I don’t really see that happening, do you?”

“I don’t know and neither do you.”

“I’d tell you to try it, Sookie, but I have no idea how you’d start.” Bobbie laughed.

“Here, let’s do this,” Eric went to Boss and threw the few scattered balls back in the middle of him and zipped it up, then pulled it toward the closet door. “Come stand here, Sookie.”

“Um, Ok,” She was hesitant, but she left Alex with Bobbie and went over to Eric. “Now what?”

“Float.”

“Float?”

“Yes, float, fly, leave the ground. Picture it happening.”

Sookie closed her eyes and in a second she didn’t feel floor beneath her feet. She opened her eyes and was looking down at Eric.

“Mamee fyeen!” Alex was thrilled.

“Yes, she is,” Eric was delighted, too. “Will yourself to go up, Sookie and land on the ceiling,”

Sookie took a deep breath and managed to float her body so she was face to ceiling, then suddenly, she was clinging to it.

“Awesome!” Bobbie was amazed.

“Crawl down the wall there, Sookie,” Eric had no doubt at this point that she could do it.

Sookie crawled toward the wall and did manage to crawl down a bit but then she felt like she was falling, but she landed above the floor.

“You stopped believing you could do it, didn’t you?” Eric asked her

“Yeah, I got panicked that I would fall.”

“If you can fly, you cannot fall, my Angel. This is a very great advantage!”

“Fy me, Mamee!” Alex flew toward Sookie, reaching out to her. She took his hand and floated up into the air. “Fy me, Dadee!” Alex reached for Eric with his other and and Eric floated up and turned to face the same direction Alex and Sookie were.

“Bobbie, see if it’s dark out and if so, open the door to the back yard,” Eric suggested. “Run and tell Bjorn what we are doing so the guards don’t panic.”

“Sure thing!

“Uh, is that a good idea?” Sookie really didn’t want to do this.

“Just for a minute, Sookie, so you can see what it feels like. Come on,” Eric encouraged her and she followed him and Alex out the back door, and they headed out toward the back of the yard. “Go up higher, Sookie, so you can see what they’re doing to the property.”

“I don’t know, Eric…”

“Fy, Mamee!” Alex pulled Sookie upward and she went with him whether she wanted to or not. Eric circled around and took Sookie’s other hand.

“Do not be afraid, my Angel. You can do this. Come up with me.” Eric led them all way up above the house so that the entire perimeter of the fences was visible. “See what we are doing, Sookie? See there where the sites for the chalets are marked out beneath the light there? And the new guard house at the back of the property?”

“Yeah, that’s cool. I saw the landscaper today, you know,” Sookie actually forgot she was flying for a few minutes.

“What did you decide for the front of the house? Go that way,” Eric pointed and the three of them went up over the house.

“I picked a rectangular pool with two small fountains and one big one with a mermaid, and there will be little sculptures of swans and of Aphrodite on one side and some benches with a little walkway with flowers that comes back toward the house. We’re going to add flowering cherry trees on each side of the house and between the back and the chalets and they’re going to put some weeping willows back towards the woods because I love them. They’re going to put a gazebo between the servants’ quarters and the back garage and I want a big hammock in it that will hold the three of us.”

“That sounds very nice, my Angel. So you were pleased with his designs?”

“Yeah, he left a lot of room for me to ask for what I wanted. They’re going to add a lot of pink, blue and purple flowers all around the front pool and the yard out back, too, because I really like them.”

“Wonderful. I knew you would have a sense of what you wanted when you saw the plans. You have marvelous taste, so I’m not worried at all with how it will look.”

“Wow – I’m glad they’re doing the sod this week. It looks kind of crappy out front here right now.”

“Yes, but they’ll move very quickly now that your plans are set. See the guard stand at the front entrance?”

“Is that the only way in or out of the property?”

“No, there’s a side gate next to the back garage to make it easier for workmen to get in and out but it will be locked most of the time. There’s also a hidden break in the fence at the guard house in back so we can get into the woods when we need to.”

“How many guards are on each shift right now?”

“10 on duty and 6 on stand by, day and night.”

“What’s stand by?”

“They are on the property but not standing a post. They spend time in the front office sleeping, eating, taking turns watching the surveillance cameras.”

“Isn’t that a waste?’

“Not if we are attacked. It might be too little.”

“They sleep in there, too?”

“Yes, and some of the Vampires spend the day in there as well. There are 6 secure, comfortable light-free closets there and several cots in one of the rooms.”

“It’s a little wet up here, don’t you think?”

“Yes, it is ready to rain. Let’s head back to the house.”

“Are we going to Wal-Mart tonight?” Sookie asked as they passed back over the house.

“When are you planning your luncheon?”

“Friday.”

“Yes, I think we’d best test Alex in a public environment before you take him into a restaurant. We need to see if he will mind and how he reacts to things on shelves and such.”

“OK, I don’t need to change for that, do I?” she asked as they landed in the back by the pool.

“No, what you are wearing is very sweet. Wal-Mart does have toys, yes?”

“Yep, several aisles of them.”

“Good. That and the food areas are where we want to test him.” Eric held the back door open for Sookie, and took Alex into his arms. Margaret was serving up dinner as they came into the kitchen.”

“So how was it, Sookie?” Bobbie couldn’t wait to hear, and she had been telling Octavia what they were doing.

“A little damp, but after I stopped thinking about it, it wasn’t bad at all.” Sookie felt a little flushed and excited, much to her surprise.

“Movin’ right along there with your abilities, eh, girl?” Octavia said proudly.

“Yeah, I guess so. I just have to think to try different things.”

“Good. What’s on the agenda tonight?”

“Well, we were going to go to Wal-Mart and see how Alex behaves in public now,” Sookie explained as Margaret put a plate with half a baked chicken, stuffing and mashed potatoes in front of her.

“Tatosth!” Alex got excited when he saw Sookie’s plate and made everyone laugh.

“Here you go, Sweetheart!” Margaret put his little The Prince Eats bowl in front of him and Eric with some shredded chicken, potatoes, stuffing and a bit of gravy.

“Dayoo, Mahdwid! Ee, Dadee!” Alex wanted Eric to get on with the feeding.

“Alright, my son, let’s see what we have here. Sookie, what is this brown mixture?”

“Stuffing, or dressing. They call it either one, though technically, it’s only stuffing if you cook it inside the bird. If you don’t, it’s dressing.”

“Alright, let’s try some dressing, my boy.” Eric took a spoonful from the bowl and gave it to Alex.

“Mmmm! Dood dwestheen!”

“Well, that’s a hit,” Bjorn laughed as he sat next to Bobbie. “Your majesty, we are going to Wal-Mart tonight?”

“Yes, I think it’s a good idea.” He gave Alex a big bite of potatoes which made him purr with contentment.

“How many are going?”

“Octavia, will you join us?” Eric asked to Octavia’s delight, but she tried not to show it.

“Will I be in the way?”

“Not at all, and you don’t need to feel obligated to stay with us, either. You can take your time and shop for yourself. You are always welcome.”

“Where’s Amelia? She hasn’t been here all day,” Sookie observed.

“She spent the day with Jerry since he was off. She’ll probably be back for supper tomorrow,” Bobbie told her.

“Oh, cool. I love that they’re getting along. It’s good for both of them,” Sookie announced to no one in particular.

Eric was giving Alex a bite of chicken, which he loved, and he asked, “Margaret, are you and Alicia going?”

“I’m going to turn in early if you don’t mind, sir, but I think Alicia did want to go. She needs a few things for the nursery, I think.”

“Alright, and Bobbie, you are going I assume?”

“Yep, if you don’t mind.”

“Alright, Bjorn how many is that?”

That’s six of us, plus we’ll need 2 guards to go into the store and we’ll take a van of 6 who’ll be stationed outside.

“Wow – maybe we should buy a bus like the Partridge Family,” Sookie quipped and most everyone laughed. “Eric – you actually know who they are?”

“Yes, I actually knew the male singer for that group for a year or so. I worked for him.”

“You mean David Cassidy? You worked for David Cassidy?” Bobbie couldn’t believe it.

“Yes, why? Is that a big deal?”

“What did you do for him?” Sookie was stoked, too, though she was really too young to be into him.

“Security at some of his concerts where all the little human girls mobbed the stage screaming. It was worse than being in battle. You never heard such wailing,” he laughed.

“Hey, I was one of those girls – one of the really small ones,” Bobbie laughed. “I was almost too young, but I was there, screaming my head off.”

“Why do women do that?” Bjorn laughed.

“Dionysus,” Octavia said.

“Yes, if they only knew!” Eric laughed as Alex played with the tiny spoon. Eric was holding it down in front of him to see what Alex would do, and he was trying to grip it. Eric was watching to see if Alex would figure it out for himself.

“Dionysus? The god of wine?” Sookie knew that one, she thought.

“The god of orgiastic revelry, too,” Octavia explained. “He’s been driving women wild since the beginning of time. He was only associated with wine later on. He speaks to the part of women that goes back before civilization, and lets them throw off their responsibilities for a while and just be lusty and ravenous.”

“So he’s like a party god?” Sookie liked that idea.

“In a way, yes. Many rock stars are manifestations of him, and a rock concert is a pure Dionysian rite. All that’s missing are the animals for the girls to tear to pieces.”

“OK, what responsibilities?” Sookie asked.

“Raising kids, running a household, working in fields, harvesting and grinding grain, commerce, planning. Women created most of the wealth and sustenance then as they do now, but then they were respected for it. Every once in a while, a girl needs to throw all that off and have a good time – run wild for a bit so she doesn’t get bogged down and depressed. We don’t have those rituals in this culture, except concerts like that for young girls, so women go too far one way or the other. Honor Dionysus and you’ve got pleasant memories to think about while you’re keeping house and conducting business. Neglect Dionysus and he’ll drive you mad – you end up in rehab, or dead, or worse.”

“What’s worse than dead?” Sookie asked.

“Some believed that Dionysus would make women kill their children. Some think that was a reference to the commonality of abortions in those days, but some think it was literally true. His madness would cause a child’s death either through neglect, abuse or infanticide.”

“What do you think, Octavia?” Bobbie asked

“I think he needs to be given his due, because he’s not going away. As the other gods have begun to fade, he’s only growing stronger and he’s relatively unrestrained because people don’t believe in him.”

“What did he look like?” Sookie wondered

“Jim Morrison,” Bobbie replied. “He claimed he was Dionysus.”

“He was, among many others. He was just more aware of it than most,” Octavia said.

“Octavia, were you into The Doors?” Sookie was trying to picture it.

“I haven’t always been this old, Sweetie. I’ve had me some wild times, and many of them were in the company of Dionysus, at least energetically.”

“Wow!” was all Sookie could say.

“Dionysus is eternally young, so his manifestations usually die young, of an overdose or some other form of excess like driving too fast or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s specifically a very pretty god, as opposed to a rougher, more masculine type. Think about rock stars – pretty men, long hair, black eyeliner and other makeup, they tend to wear leather and furs, as in animal skins, they over do it with alcohol and drugs. That’s the Dionysian archetype through and through. It’s why Vampires are so attractive to humans, too. They’re Dionysian creatures. Eric, you must have worn an animal skin or two in your time, am I right?”

“Yes, you are right. I’ve worn a bit of kohl on my eyes here or there, too.”

“Thought so,” Octavia laughed.

“Really, Eric?” Bobbie wanted to know more about this.

“Oh, yes, rock concerts are like smorgasbords for a Vampire. All those young bodies jammed together, most of them stoned or tripping. Fine pickings for a guy like me. Believe me, sex isn’t the only thing going on in the restrooms or in the woods. There’s plenty of feeding no one remembers but the Vampire himself.”

“You told me another time you wore an animal skin, didn’t you?” Sookie didn’t know how much to say in front of the others.

“That was the common thing to wear to an orgy in certain parts of the world at certain times.”

“How many of those have you been to, Eric?”

“More than I can remember – literally. Some of them I cannot remember. Too much Faerie blood on those occasions, or feeding from humans using drugs that affect Vampires, too.”

“Are there such things?” Bobbie didn’t know this.

“There are a few hallucinogens that will affect a Vampire if ingested by a human he feeds on. The strange thing is, ingesting the substances themselves do not alter the Vampire. They have to be taken through feeding on a human to have an effect.”

“Wow – what are some of them?” Sookie was thinking of a treat for Eric.

“Amanita Muscaria is one, and peyote is another. I can’t think of any others at the moment.”

“What’s amanita whatever?” Sookie asked

“Magic mushrooms,” Bobbie explained. “The kind hippies chew or make tea out of. Peyote is an American cactus with hallucinogenic properties.”

“Yes, Vampires originate in the Eastern European countries so there are certain substances, like peyote, that were unknown for most of our existence. When Vampires came to the New World, we found that it was unwise to prey on Native Americans found alone in the desert because they were often on spiritual journeys assisted by peyote, which makes us a bit mad for a while.”

“Mad, like angry?”

“No, mad like crazy. We trip on it – see things that aren’t there, have all kinds of sensory disturbances. Some find it pleasant, though, as with any drug.”

“Have you tripped on peyote, Eric?” Bjorn asked

“Yes, many times when I lived in San Francisco in the 60s. For a time, I actually sought out young girls who were experimenting with it.”

“Were there a lot?” Sookie tried not to sound jealous.

“Oh, yes, and they were delicious, all of them. People didn’t have that metallic taste to them yet. Between the blood and the cactus and the wild sex, it was a most enjoyable period of time. There was only one other time I had more sex than I did then.”

“Oh, really?” Sookie didn’t like the sound of that.

“Yes, when I was a mercenary in China.”

“Is that when you used to get paid in women, Eric?” Bjorn loved that story.

“Yes, it was. I had sex 63 times in one night, once, and over 50 times on many occasions.”

“Holy shit!” Bjorn hadn’t heard that. Bobbie and Octavia were reacting nearly as strongly as he did. Margaret didn’t show an outward reaction, but she absolutely believed he was telling the truth. Wait until she could tell Alicia!

“How is that possible?” Sookie couldn’t believe that.

“It takes a lot of women who cannot say no to you, and you have to be a Vampire. It helps if it’s winter time, too, so the nights are long,” Eric said as if it was no big deal.

“What’s your personal best with one woman?” Sookie really wanted to know this.

“You cannot judge by that, Sookie, it was in a country where it stayed dark for months at a time…”

“Like you said you wanted to take me to some time?”

“Yes, exactly. I think you and I could break my old record easily.”

Sookie didn’t know whether to be flattered or insulted.

“Mr. Northman, there’s a call for you on the house phone. I think you’ll want to take it in Mrs. Northman’s office.” Alicia said as she came into the room.

Eric took Alex and went swiftly out to the office while everybody else was still trying to picture Eric’s history. Sookie was speechless.

“So, Sookie, if you and Eric ever go to that country, Bobbie and I are available to go with you,” Bjorn offered, cracking up. Bobbie laughed in a dirty, sexy way, and Octavia just laughed and shook her head.

“Why not,” Sookie quipped, “he’s fucked everybody else in the world. Holy Goddess.”

“You knew that, though, Sookie, right?” Bobbie wasn’t going to let her get bummed about it.

“Yes and no. I mean, I know he’s a thousand years old and he’s been everywhere and done everything but when you start putting numbers to it, holy shit!”

“You don’t care though, right? He married you,” Bobbie reminded her.

“Yeah, that’s true, he did. It just makes me wonder how I compare, you know?”

“I can tell you that, Sookie,” Bjorn offered, “He’s told me many times that 3 human women could not match you, and few if any Vampiresses. He’s not kidding about you two breaking his record.”

“But we don’t go like 10 or 20 times a night or anything like that…”

“Yes, but I guarantee none of those others made it rain pink sparkles,” Octavia pointed out to her. “Quality always trumps quantity in those situations. What you two get up to together goes way beyond just sex. I guarantee he’s felt things with you that are entirely unique to you.”

“For real?”

“Absolutely,” Bjorn agreed. ‘Don’t be jealous of his past, Sookie, he was just learning what he needed to know to keep up with you.” He gave her a wink and she laughed.

Eric came back into the kitchen with Alex. “So, when do we invade Wal-Mart?”

“I need about 15 minutes to get ready,” Sookie said.

“Me, too,” Bobbie agreed as she cleared her place.

“I’ll round up the troops,” Bjorn said, heading out to the front office.

“I just need to get my list,” Alicia said, “Margaret, did you have a list for me?”

“Yes, back in the pantry,” she said as she went to get it.

Sookie, Alex and Bobbie took the elevator up to their floors, and Sookie looked around for her purse. Alicia had packed a cute little yellow flowered purse for her and Sookie just ran a brush through her hair, put on some pink lip gloss and went into the nursery to get Alex a fresh nappy, teasing him and making him giggle the whole time. She took the diaper bag and the blue Gund teddy bear downstairs with them, knowing Wal-Mart wouldn’t carry them and thinking she might need it to distract Alex.

The cars were out front in a line – a car with two guards, Sookie’s car with Bjorn and Eric in front, Sookie, Alex and Bobbie in back, another car with a driver, another guard riding shotgun, and Octavia and Alicia, who were becoming good friends. Finally, a van with four heavily armed guards brought up the rear.

“Unbelievable,” Sookie said out loud, unable to fathom that it took all of this to go to Wal-Mart. “Seems like only about 7 or 8 weeks ago, I could throw my purse in the passenger’s seat and do this all by my lonesome.”

“Much has happened in those 8 weeks, my Angel.” Eric looked back at her and smiled.

“Yeah, you ain’t kiddin’!” Sookie laughed. “I didn’t have you back then, did I, Pookie? The last time you went to Wal-Mart with me, you were just a tiny thing inside Mommy’s tummy and I couldn’t wait to see you! I even bought you a little blue suit that day!”

Alex had no idea what she was talking about but he giggled and kicked his feet as she tickled him.

“We’re going shopping, Alex. Women like me and Bobbie love to shop. Men like Daddy and Bjorn do not. You stick with Mommy and I’ll teach you how much fun it can be! Yes, I will! I will!” Sookie was being silly, just chattering about nothing to the baby and Eric couldn’t stop smiling. He would never get tired of seeing her coo at Alex that way. He and Bjorn exchanged a look and Bjorn said, too softly for anyone but Eric to hear him, “luckiest kid in the world.” Eric nodded and just beamed with pride. Alex was entertaining Bobbie and Sookie so the trip seemed like it lasted no time at all.

“Wow – are we here already?” Sookie looked up.

“Yep, we’re here,” Bjorn confirmed.

Octavia and Alicia had specific things they were looking for, so they went off with two guards who could help them if need be. Eric let Sookie handle Alex, and he and Bjorn walked behind Bobbie and them, while two guards followed at a distance. Sookie grabbed a shopping cart and settled Alex into the basket, which fascinated him to no end. He kept looking over and around, amazed by all the new sights and sounds and smells. Eric was just beside himself watching Alex discover all these new things, and they headed straight back to the toy section. There was one of those big cages with big, colorful plastic balls and Alex looked up at it with his mouth hanging open.

“Woogie, Dadee! Bahs!” He pointed to them and looked up and down, taking them all in.

“Yes, my son, there are lots of balls there, aren’t there?”

“Wotha bahs,” he tried to imitate what Eric had said. There was a big display full of stuffed animals of every description, and Alex’s eyes got huge. “Woogie, Dadee, do-eesth!”

“Yes, many toys.”

“Ma do-eesth?”

“No, my son, those toys belong to the store. Would you like for me to buy you a toy to take home?”

“OMBA!”

“Alright, pick one toy, and I will pay for it and we’ll take it home.”

“Oday!” Alex was looking at all the toys and you could tell he was just overwhelmed at how many there were.

Eric stepped forward and took him out of the basket, saying, “here, Alex, let’s look at these toys. This white one is a bunny…”

“Bundy.”

“This pink one is an elephant.”

“Ehment?”

“This blue one is a giraffe, the grey one is a raccoon, the red one is a fox,” and he named several toys and held them up so he could see and touch them. “Which one do you want, Alex?”

“Peek wohnd.”

“You want the pink elephant?”

“Omba, Dadee, peek.”

Bjorn was trying not to laugh, but Eric was secure enough to know it didn’t matter at this stage. He picked up the pink elephant and handed it to Alex, and Alex held it out to Sookie and said, “peek, Mamee.”

“What have you got, Pookie? Are you going to take that home with you?”

“Nah, Mamee peek.”

“He wants you to have it, Sookie. He knows you like pink,” Eric said proudly.

“That’s really nice, Sweetie! You should pick one for you!”

He pointed to them and said, “bundy, Dadee!”

“Do you like the bunny?”

“Omba, bundy sopf!”

“Yes, the bunny is very soft, isn’t it? Do you want me to buy that one for you?”

“Ee-ah.”

“OK, you keep it right here and we’ll pay for it and take it home, alright?” Eric sat him and the bunny in the basket.

“Ee-ah!” he nodded, Eric put the elephant back on the display and they started to move on but Alex didn’t want that. “Nah, nah, Dadee, PEEK!”

“Would you rather have the elephant?”

“Nah, MAMEE peek.”

“Do you want me to buy this one for Mommy?”

“Ee-ah, por Mamee.”

“He wants you to have a pink elephant, Sookie,”

“Aw, that’s so sweet!”

Alex let go of the bunny and made his come here motion for the elephant. Eric handed it to him and he tucked it into the basket next to the bunny and looked at Sookie, “peek, Mamee,” patting it to show her it was right there.

“OK, Sweetie, you hang onto it and we’ll go pay for it, OK?”

“Oday.”

They went up and down the toy aisles slowly and Alex pointed at some things but he didn’t indicate that he wanted anything. He was more interested in the basket he was sitting in and how Mommy was pushing him around.

“Well, no crisis in the toy aisle,” Eric was happy about that. “Now, let’s go up where they have the food ready for take-out. I want to see how he does there.”

They were going past a table of mostly junk toys when Alex said, “Woogie, Dadee, sthordsth por FIDEEN!”

Eric laughed when he saw what Alex was pointing to. “The Sword of Justice!” Eric read, laughing with delight. Alex had pointed out a toy sword!

“Like father, like son,” Sookie laughed and Bobbie and Bjorn did, too.

“I wonder what this button is for?” Eric pressed the button on the handle.

Bjorn looked at it, “Pull that little tab out there – it’s saving the battery.”

Eric pulled it out then pushed the button and the sound of swords clashing played loudly.

“FIDEEN, DADEE!”

“How much is that thing?” Sookie asked

“One dollar, apparently,” Eric said.

“Put it in the basket, Eric, you know you want to,” Sookie knew neither he nor Alex would leave the store without that sword. Eric put the sword in the basket behind Alex and Alex said, “daygid om?”

“Yes, we’re going to buy it and take it home,” Eric assured him.

“Oday!” Alex stuck his thumb in his mouth, quite content to know it was going home with them.

They reached the deli section and the smell of chicken and other good things was wafting through the air. Alex looked around. “Ware di Mahdwid doe?”

“Margaret is at home, Alex. They make food here in the store so people can buy some and take it home,” Eric explained.

“Pem pwy?”

“French fries? Do you smell them cooking French fries?” Sookie asked him

“Ee-ah, daygid om, Dadee?”

“Do you want some French fries to take home and eat?” Eric asked him.

“Ee-ah, pem pwy.”

“You all want anything?” Sookie offered Bobbie and Bjorn, but they politely refused. “OK, Alex, watch this,” Sookie pushed him over to the deli.

“Can I help you, ma’am?”

“Can I get an order of French fries to go, please?”

“Fries, Margie,” she called back, then rang up the order, “That’s a dollar, thirty-five, ma’am.”

“OK, watch me, Alex,” Sookie put her purse on the handle of the cart and found her wallet in it. She took out a dollar, a quarter and a dime. “See, Sweetie, that’s a dollar, thirty-five. Now I give it to her, and she rings it up…” she handed the girl the money and Alex watched her put it in the drawer. “OK, now we wait a minute, and she’ll bring us some French fries, OK?”

“Oday.”

Alex was looking all around still fascinated by the bright lights and all the colors. The four adults were chatting about nothing in particular when the lady came back with the fries and put them in a bag. “Here you go, ma’am.”

“Thank you!” Sookie smiled

“Dayoo!” Alex said with a big smile.

“He’s so cute!” The girl at the counter said.

“Oh, thank you. This is his first time at the grocery store.”

“Aw, that’s cute. You come back and see us again sometime, OK?” She spoke to Alex

“Oday!” he said with a big smile.

Bjorn got a call on his push-to-talk and was told that Margaret and Alicia were in line.

“Alright, then, let’s pay for our toys and we’ll go.” Eric said. Sookie led them all to an open cashier, and Bjorn and Bobbie walked on through. “Alright, Alex, now we put the toys on this belt like this, and she’s going to make it go forward.” Alex was watching everything with wide eyes.

“Well, hi, there!” The older lady with salt and pepper hair spoke to Alex, who waved at her and said “ah!” She continued as she scanned the tags on the toys, “Are you getting some new toys?”

“Nu do-eesth!”

“That means new toys,” Eric interpreted as he handed the lady a twenty and a ten as Alex watched.

She rang up his order and handed him a dollar and seventy-six cents, then handed him the toys in a bag and his receipt. “Thank you, your majesty, come see us again!” she said cheerfully.

“Thank you, Madame, I’m sure we will.” Eric went into royal mode and Sookie just laughed and said, “Thanks!”

   “Thank you, Queen Sookie! Bye-bye, little Prince!”

“Ba-ba!” Alex waved with a smile. People sort of gathered around the check out counters to get a last good look at the Vampire King and his family and they noticed how many guards were with them. A couple of the customers were on their cell phones, calling family or friends to tell them who was just in Wal-Mart.

Eric took the baby out of the cart and let Bobbie put it with the others on the way out, wanting to hang onto Alex since they’d been recognized. Bjorn hustled them into their car and insisted they get inside while the other guards were helping Alicia and Octavia. Eric got in the back this time at Bjorn’s insistence. Eric put Alex in his seat, and set the bag of animals on his tummy while Bjorn put the sword in the trunk.

Alex said, “pem pwy, Mamee.”

“Oh, I almost forgot!” Sookie laughed and opened the little bag with the fries. She waved at them a bit, trying to get them a little cooler before she gave them to him. “Hang on just a minute, Sweetie, they’re still too warm, OK?”

“Oday,” Alex waited patiently, looking around at all the other cars and people, and finally trying to figure out how to open the bag with the toys. He found the top of the bag and reached in, taking the elephant out first, “Woogie, Mamee!” he handed Sookie the toy, then he pulled the soft white rabbit out by one ear. He hugged it to him, saying, “bundy sopf,” and stroking it.

Eric smiled and watched him, reaching over and stroking Alex’s cheek with his fingers.

“Alex, did you thank Daddy for buying you a new toy?” Sookie reminded him.

“Dayoo, Dadee, bundy sopf!”

“You’re welcome, Alex. You were a very good boy tonight. Daddy was very proud of you.”

“Hey, Sookie,” Bobbie said from the front seat, “did you see your picture on the cover of the Enquirer?”

“I was trying to pretend I didn’t. It’s no wonder they recognized us. Our picture was on every checkout line!”

“At least we were not bothered,” Eric observed.

“Yeah, but nobody is going to approach you and Bjorn, Eric, not to mention the uniformed guards shadowing us through the store.

“True, and yet, my son was able to charm everyone he came into contact with,” Eric bragged.

Bjorn got in the car then and the caravan started up. “So, Prince Alex goes to Wal-Mart. I can see it in the papers now. How much you want to bet the security tapes show up on some entertainment show?”

“Nuh-uh!” Sookie laughed.

“I don’t know, Sookie, he’s right. There’s a good chance of it,” Bobbie agreed.

“It’s the price you pay for being so beautiful, my Angel.”

“If I’d known I was meeting the public I’d have dressed up more. I’d have put clothes on Alex, too. He’s just in a diaper and a t-shirt.”

“No one will think less of him, Sookie,” Bjorn teased her.

“But what if they think I’m not taking care of him. It’s rainy tonight.”

“It’s also 80 degrees out, Sookie, he’s fine. Everybody thought he was a doll,” Bobbie assured her.

“I guess. Did you like going to the store, Alex?”

“OMBA! Nu do-eeths!”

“See, I told you I’d teach you to like shopping!” Sookie teased and tickled him. “OK, Pookie, these fries are cool enough for you to eat.” She set the little envelope of fries on Alex’s leg and he grabbed one right up, happily gnawing on it as they drove. “Wow – look at him go!” Sookie laughed.

“I told you he would have a big appetite.”

“Yep, he’s just like his Daddy – fighting, feeding, and … uh..”

“We get the idea,” Bobbie laughed.

They arrived at the house and Eric helped Sookie get the baby, his toys, his fries and her purse together so they could go in. The guards were helping Alicia and Octavia, bringing their groceries in, and Bjorn went to the front office to get a status report. Eric sat at the kitchen table with Alex and let him finish his fries, which he did with great gusto. Sookie came in and cruised through the kitchen, nearly jumping up and down when she found what she was hoping for – Margaret baked a German chocolate cake!

“Yay! Cake!”

“Did someone say ‘cake’?” Bobbie said as she came in.

“Yep, I’ll cut the cake, you get the milk,” Sookie laughed.

Bjorn came back in, and Eric looked up expectantly.

“All secure, your Majesty. No one followed us, either.”

“Good. I was a little concerned when we were recognized,” Eric said, smoothing Alex’s hair a bit.

“Yeah, we’re hard to miss,” Bjorn laughed. “The royal entourage goes to Wal-Mart. I’ll bet that’s never happened at a Wal-Mart before.”

“You want a piece of cake, Bjorn?” Sookie asked

“No thank you, your majesty.”

“Hey, none of that in the house!” Sookie shook the cake server at him.

Eric and Bjorn just looked at each other and laughed. Sookie was never going to get used to being called “your majesty,” especially not at home.

Bobbie brought two big glasses of milk to the table and Sookie brought two big pieces of cake and two forks. They got settled with their snack and dug in. Alex finished his fries, and began to look at what Sookie was eating. When no one was looking, he grabbed a handful.

“Alex!” Sookie tried to catch his hand but it was in his mouth before she could react. “Eric, keep an eye on him. This has nuts in it and he doesn’t have any teeth. He could choke.”

“I’ll watch him, my Angel, do not fear.” Eric was pretty sure Alex couldn’t choke but he did plan to keep an eye on him, just in case. Alex was enjoying the cake immensely, licking the frosting off his fingers and holding it up to look at it.

“Dat, Mamee?” He pointed at the cake and looked at Sookie.

“What? Cake? This is cake, Alex.”

“Dayt.”

“Do you want some more cake, Sweetie?”

“Ee-ah!”

“OK, hang on,” Sookie popped up and got him a small piece and gave Eric the spoon. “Here, baby, Daddy will feed you.”

Alex started to stick his fingers in the cake, but Eric stopped him. “No, Alex, use the spoon.”

“Oday,” he said with a mouthful of cake.

“I didn’t know Vikings were big on table manners,” Sookie teased him.

“This Viking is into many things with which the original people were not concerned. There is always something new to learn, my Angel, no matter where you are or when.”

“Your life must have been so amazing, Eric. Have you ever considered writing a book?” Bobbie asked him.

“Maybe some day, if I ‘m ever not so busy. Modern life leaves little time for things like that. All this technology just makes people busier and busier.”

“Did you prefer living before technology?” Bobbie asked.

“I wouldn’t say I preferred it. I certainly love modern plumbing, and lights and heat, but life was much slower in earlier times and you had more time to enjoy your life, though there was, perhaps, less to enjoy. People take so many things for granted that we would have considered luxurious and fantastic. Much of it still feels that way to me, but the things that matter are unchanged. Women are still women, sex is still sex, blood is still blood, the rest is just details. Travel and communication are much better, of course. I’m more than happy not to have to rely on ships to get from country to country when I want.”

“What was it like to travel that way?”

“I know – you had to travel as cargo and feed on the scurvy crew!” Sookie laughed and the others cracked up. “That’s so funny, we were just talking about that last night. I guess we won’t be going on any cruises, huh?”

“We can go on a cruise if you like, my Angel. We can do anything you want.”

“Maybe February or March we could go someplace sunny?” Sookie asked apologetically.

“Yes, of course. Where would you like to go?”

“Mexico?”

“Very well, we’ll add that to the calendar and I’ll see what accommodations are available for my kind. I could enjoy some moonlight walks by the ocean with my beautiful wife.”

“Cool!”

“Bobbie and Bjorn, you’ll need to go as well, of course, unless you’d prefer not to?”

“I could force myself to go to Mexico…” Bobbie teased.

“Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to conflict with our plans, Eric.” Bjorn laughed. That kind of perk was why he ever considered this job in the first place. You travel with Vampire royalty, you get the best of everything just being near them.

“Are there any other plans for tonight, Eric?” Bjorn was wondering if he needed to stay around.

“No, not that I know of. I was going to spend some time with Sookie and Alex and then do some paperwork, so you and Bobbie feel free to do as you please.”

“I was thinking about taking Bobbie to a movie. There’s a midnight show at one of the theatres in town.”

“Oh, that sounds nice!” Sookie said.

“Did you want to go out, Sookie?” Eric asked

“Nope, I want us to soak in the tub.”

“Alright, Bjorn, why don’t you take my corvette? The keys are in it.”

“Wow!” Bobbie said before she knew what she was saying.

“Eric, are you sure you trust me with your car?” Bjorn couldn’t believe it.

“Yes, of course. Go enjoy it. If you want to go for a drive, check the GPS – there are directions to a nice lake where you can park under the stars and have some privacy. It’s very romantic.”

“Alright, thanks. Bobbie do you want to change clothes?”

“Yeah, let me freshen up a bit.”

“OK, I’m going to make sure you’ve got adequate cover on duty. Thanks a lot, Eric.”

“Enjoy yourselves. I take it we are headed upstairs now, my darling wife?”

“Yep, soon as I put this in the dishwasher and wash the frosting off Alex’s hand,” Sookie laughed.

“Are you ready for a bath, my son?”

“Omba, baff ina wada! Ware di Mahdwid doe?”

“Margaret has gone to bed. What did you want, Sweetie?” Sookie said as she came back toward the table.

“Gode, Mamee.”

“Cold? You want a teething ring?”

“Ee-ah.” He pointed to his gum and Sookie looked closely.

“I’ll bet he bit down on a nut and aggravated his gums. Let me grab one of those. You think I should take two and put one in the little freezer in the mini-fridge?”

“Good idea. He might need a new one later on,” Eric agreed as he stood up and swung Alex up into the air a bit, causing him to make his happy sound. The way he was holding Alex made his little t-shirt ride up and expose his belly so Eric blew raspberries on it and Alex squealed and giggled.

Sookie laughed as she grabbed the Wal-Mart bag and said, “Daddy got you, Pookie!”

“Dadee god me!” He giggled like crazy as Eric brought him down and hugged him as the three of them headed to the elevator. As they went down the hall to the bedroom, Eric put Alex across his shoulder and held his hands out front making noises like an airplane. Once in their room, Eric laid him down on the bed and blew on his tummy again, making him squeal and giggle more. Sookie was laughing at them, putting one teether in the little fridge and giving the other to Eric who teased Alex with it, lowering it, then pulling it back, over and over, to Alex’s great amusement. “Nah, Dadee!” he’d giggle and Eric would do it again. Eventually, Eric let him have it then tickled and kissed Alex’s feet while he gnawed on it kicking, laughing and smiling. Sookie was running the bath and taking her clothes off while they played, then she stood in the bathroom door and watched them a few minutes. When they seemed to be winding down a little, Sookie asked Eric if Alex needed a new diaper.

“He’s just wet, so no, he’ll be fine for the bath.”

“OK, you’re both over dressed,” Sookie laughed as she took Alex into the nursery to drop his wet diaper in the pail and his dirty t-shirt in his little laundry basket. Eric was settling into the water when they got back and had lit a few candles and put some music on.

“Oh, nice!” Sookie laughed.

“Hit the lights before you get in and we’ll have a family bath by candle light.”

Sookie closed the door and handed the baby to Eric, then turned off the lights and got into the tub.

“What’s that band called again?” She indicated the speaker that was piping music into the room.

“Tabitha’s Secret?”

“Yeah, I found out that singer is the same guy who sings my ringtone on my phone.”

“Really? What is it called?”

How Far We’ve Come by Matchbox 20. It’s no wonder I like this music, Matchbox 20 is one of my favorite bands. He’s a good singer.”

“Yes, I agree.”

Alex was looking around trying to figure out where the music was coming from. He pointed toward the speaker and said, “Dat?”

“What is he saying?” Eric hadn’t noticed this before.

“I think he’s trying to ask what that is. He’s been saying that when he wants to know something.”

Alex was still mumbling and motioning to the speaker.

“Alex, say, “what is that?” Sookie looked straight at him and spoke slowly.

“Wa-diz-dadt?”

“Pretty good. That’s a speaker playing music.”

“Mudik! OMBA!”

Eric laughed. “He loves anything that makes noise. When he is a teenager he will drive us crazy with his music.”

“Yeah, that’s true of most kids, but boys especially. Jason used to drive us nuts with his heavy metal stuff. ”

“Maybe he will play an instrument?” Alex was splashing the water sort of in time with the music with one hand and gnawing on the yellow teething ring with the other.

“Maybe. He does everything else early, maybe we should get him a little key board to bang on. He loves those toys that play music.”

“Good idea. See what is available that’s safe for a baby.”

“OK, I will. You gonna be a musician, Pookie?” She turned sideways to face him and Eric and kissed Alex on the cheek, then she laid her head on Eric’s chest.

“Mudik!” he said as he happily splashed in the water. Eric and Sookie just snuggled and watched him play for a bit, enjoying the closeness and the warmth of the water.

Alex splashed and played a good ten minutes then he splashed himself and felt his hair which reminded him of where they were. “Dadee, wath ma ayr!”

“Alex, say “Daddy, wash my hair, please.” Sookie instructed him.

“Dadee, wath ma ayr, pweeth!”

“That’s very good, my son. Mommy will have to sit up a bit.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m moving,” she laughed.

Eric took the hand-held and set it for a gentle spray and washed Alex’s hair, much to his delight, then he washed Sookie’s as Alex watched intently.

“Are you watching Daddy, Pookie?”

“Ee-ah, wath Mamee ayr.”

“Yeah, he’s washing my hair, isn’t he? Daddy’s good at washing hair,” Sookie was talking to Alex with her eyes closed, enjoying the feel of Eric’s fingers massaging her scalp.

Alex, who was leaning back against Sookie’s upper thigh facing her, reached up and rubbed Sookie’s soapy head, too, making Eric laugh. “Are you washing Mommy’s hair, too, my son?”

“Ee-ah, watheen Mamee ayr.”

“Thank you for helping me. We want to do a good job on Mommy’s pretty hair, don’t we?”

“Ee-ah, watheen dood.”

“Yes, Mommy has glorious blonde hair that shines and sparkles in the light like an Angel.”

“Mamee Andel?”

“Yes, Mommy’s like an Angel.”

“Nah, nah, Dadee, Mamee GODDESTH!”

Sookie opened her eyes wide and looked at Alex.

“Alex,” Eric said slowly, “who told you Mommy was a Goddess?”

“Mamee Freyja!”

“Why can he say Freyja so clearly and he can hardly say anything else?” Sookie asked.

“I have no idea, and I don’t understand why he says that word with a Swedish accent, but I don’t hear any sign of Swedish in his other speech. When he was naming Goddesses today, did he name any Norse Goddesses?”

“I think so – is Frigga Norse? And Urd? No, wait a minute – that was me. Freyja is the only one he named that I know of, but I don’t normally know who goes where.”

“Alex, who are the Goddesses from Scandinavia, like Freyja?

“Sweden?” Alex said with a Swedish accent

Eric and Sookie were both surprised at that. “Yes, Alex, the Goddesses of Sweden.”

“Elli, Frigga, Hella, Urd, Indunn, Sunna, Freyja, bahkewees.”

“You mean Valkyries?” Eric asked him

“Ee-ah, bahkewees.”

“So the Goddesses he can say perfectly, but not the Valkyries? What’s the difference?” This made no sense to Sookie.

“The Valkyries are not technically Goddesses. They are magickal beings but not quite on the level of a deity. Did he say every Goddess name perfectly?”

“Earlier? No, only Freyja – I guess he can say the Norse Goddesses, then?”

“Apparently.”

“Can he speak Swedish?”

“Let’s see – Vad heter du?”

“Pwinzth Awegsth” Alex giggled, knowing it was a silly question.

“Var bor du?”

“Här.”

“Var är här”

“Jag vet inte – med min Dadee och min Mamee!”

“Is he answering?”

“Yes. I asked his name and he said ‘Prince Alex.’ I asked where he lived and he said ‘here.’ I asked where is here and he said “I don’t know – with my Daddy and my Mommy!”

“So he’s speaking Swedish, and I can hear for myself that he’s making sounds he isn’t normally able to pronounce…”

“Yes, apparently. Alex, where is Freyja?”

“Ma Mamee!” He giggled and patted Sookie’s face.

“It occurs to me, Sookie that you have always been near when he has channeled Freyja.”

“Well, yeah, he’s hardly ever away from me. We’re only even in different rooms every few days.”

“I am wondering if he could do these things if you were separated. Maybe you are a sort of antenna for him?”

“Maybe? How do we test it? Let me wash your hair, the water is getting cold.” She gave the baby to Eric and moved behind him.

“I’m thinking I should take him somewhere without you and test him.”

“Where would you take him?”

“I think Bjorn and I should take him to Fangtasia.”

“You want to take my baby to Fangtasia? Without me?”

“Just to experiment. He hasn’t been there except for the photo shoot. I could test him and take him around and introduce him. I know people would be wild to know that he might show up now and then. I’ll take Bjorn and a couple of other guards and we’ll just say hello to a few people, then I’ll take him in my office and try to talk to him in Swedish.”

“And you’re going to leave me sitting home?” She smoothed his long hair back as she wet it with the handheld.

“Only for a few hours, my Angel. It’s the safest place to take him, if you think about it. We do need to know if he has these abilities when you are not with him.”

“Alright, but on one condition!”

“Such as?”

“You and me, downstairs in Fangtasia, before my two week vacation is up.”

“That is a promise, my Angel. I had planned that anyway, as soon as you seem rested. If it bothers you so much, give us a few hours, then you and Bobbie come and join us.”

“Let me think about that. I might agree to that.”

“Alright, you think about it. I’d suggest doing it tomorrow night.”

“Why tomorrow?”

“That’s the third day…”

“Oh, yeah – I forgot for a minute…”

“You’ll be away anyway. It might be a good way to keep Alex from knowing you’re gone. You know it unsettles him. You do your Fae thing, then I’ll have guards bring you and Bobbie to the club after. Invite Jerry and Amelia, too, if you want. A night of drinking and dancing, socializing, might do us all good. Alex will be able to charm the masses for a while, we all get out of the house… Yes, I like this idea very much.”

“You don’t think taking a baby to a bar is a bad idea?”

A baby to A bar, perhaps, but not MY baby to MY bar. We are not a normal family, Sookie.”

“What if the bar gets raided?”

“We remind the cops that he’s a Vampire and therefore alcohol would have no effect on him.”

“I thought Dr. Ludwig said he’d like alcohol a little too much?”

“The cops don’t need to know that. As far as they’re concerned, he is my son and therefore impervious to the effects of alcohol. There are no laws that govern Vampire babies.”

“He’s theoretically half-human – what if they say the laws apply to him just like anyone else.”

“Sookie, do you really think a cop is going to piss me off?”

“Good point. Alright, we’ll consider it a big date night and I’ll bring my Witches after my trip to wherever it is that I go.”

“When are you going to find out more about that?”

“Friday – Claudine is going to meet me and my Witches for lunch so we can talk about the Fae.”

“Good. I’ll feel much better when we know what you are or becoming or whatever. I have a sinking suspicion you’re never going to be Vampire.”

“Will you still love me if I’m not?”

“I will always love you, Sookie. I’ll be more than content if you become immortal, no matter how it happens. That is the important thing. I will be disappointed not to get to turn you, but as long as it happens and we can be a family forever, I will not complain.”

“Thanks, Sweetie.” She kissed his ear as she began to rinse the shampoo from his hair. “Pookie is falling asleep,” she said softly.

“Yes, when you finish my hair, I’ll take him to his bed and come back for some Mommy and Daddy time.”

“I like the sound of that!” She finished rinsing his hair, and put some conditioner in it, then massaged his scalp a bit, making him purr. She rinsed his hair completely, then reheated the tub while Eric levitated out of it with the baby still in his arms, and managed to get him into the co-sleeper without getting a huge amount of water on the floor or waking him up. He came back to the tub quickly, already hard, and leapt in slow motion over into it in front of Sookie, landing gently in the water and quickly pulling her up and impaling her slowly on his cock.

“Oh, Goddess – how do you do that?”

“Do what?” he asked as he kissed her neck and squeezed her lower cheeks, moving her up and down.

“All these moves that are right out of a movie – slo-mo and ev –everything.” She had a tight grip on his shoulders and was riding him as hard as she could, even though they were splashing water on the floor.

“It comes naturally because I am with you, my Angel.”

“Yeah, ri-right, you never did this with anyone else…”

“Most of it, no. I couldn’t let human women see me do some of the things I do with you. Even if they could handle it, I had to keep my identity as a Vampire secret.”

“You’ve been with Goddesses, though, and what else – uh, uh, uh?”

He sort of punctuated each answer with a thrust. “One Goddess, Fae of a few kinds, Undines, Vampiresses, of course, several Angels and various daemons, a couple of Witches, a sorceress, a mermaid once, but the vast majority were humans – actresses, models, slaves, scullery maids, prostitutes, courtesans and Queens – all kinds of women.”

“You fucked a mermaid?” Sookie never slowed down, but she wanted to know.

“Yes, once, I was in service at the Siwa Temple, and we attended the same celebration. You don’t see many mermaids in the desert, but she was there, somehow. You never know how his parties are going to go but they’re always wild.”

“Whose parties?”

“Dionysus. He built the temple in the desert when he was dying of thirst, supposedly, but I think the tale has been altered or exaggerated.”

“How does a… a god… die of th-thirst?”

“Exactly. OHHHH! OH! OH!”

Sookie cracked up. “You’re going to wake the baby!”

“I can’t help it, it feels so good, Sookie, I swear, even in water it’s like you’re on fire!”

Sookie got very intent on what she was doing now, still holding onto Eric’s shoulder and neck with an iron grip, pressing her forehead into his then quickly biting his neck down to his shoulder, where she really latched on and drew blood. She lapped at his bleeding shoulder as the two of them reached a massive orgasm that filled the room with red energy that contracted to an electric blue and exploded in orange… something. They looked like flames but nothing was burned.

They didn’t stop to think about it, though. Eric scooped Sookie up out of the water and threw her on top of the bed, entering her again as she wrapped her legs around him and they rolled, bedspread and all into the floor. Eric forced her head to the side and bit her neck harder than he ever had and hit an artery, which covered him in her sweet blood. They were beyond speaking at the moment but they both laughed and Eric made sure her blood clotted just before the Faerie blood… was that Faerie he tasted? … hit him hard.

He was out of his mind, but she was worse, suddenly bucking her hips and pushing him over, straddling him and riding him so hard he was crying out at the same time she did. The guards that were at the front of the house were cracking up and held a push-to-talk phone open so the guys in the guardhouses could hear what was going on. Sookie was literally howling and it was clear that it was her, and not Eric, who was in a completely animalistic fucking frenzy. Eric was higher than he’d ever been on her blood and Sookie was raving, pounding away on him and reaching to the top of his chest and raking her nails hard down the length of his torso. He bled a lot and she lapped it up, coming again and again until his skin closed back up. What happened in the next 45 minutes or so, neither of them ever figured out, but at the end of it, Eric was a quivering mass on the floor, and Sookie was sucking his cock slowly and deeply as if in a trance. He slowly drifted back down from her blood, finally noting the state of the room.

“Sookie,”

“Um-mm?”

“Sookie…”

“Mmmm.”

He wanted to tell her to stop but he was too close to another orgasm so went with it and then pulled her up beside him to stop her. She was writhing a bit, moaning softly, still about out of her head but obviously enjoying the feeling. Eric went into the bathroom and checked the walls for fire damage but found none, then he threw towels on the floor to sop up all that water. He zipped down to see if there was water damage on the second floor, and there actually was some dampness on the walls in the kitchenette and the stairway. He dried the wettest parts with some paper towels and decided to worry about it later. A little ceiling repair was a small price to pay for sex like that.

The bedroom looked like a cyclone hit it – clothes, towels, bed linens, books, and toys were strewn about the room – and yet Alex was sleeping soundly as ever, sucking his thumb and, based on the fluttering of his eyelids, apparently dreaming.

Sookie was still writhing just a bit, so Eric picked her up and put her on her side of the bed, laughing to himself that maybe silk sheets weren’t such a good idea for them, since that’s how they ended up on the floor.

He pulled the top sheet and comforter back up into place and then lay down next to Sookie and checked her pulse and breathing. He also checked to see if she was bleeding, but there was no sign of anything like that.

“Sookie, my Angel, are you all right.”

“Oh, yeah,” she said in a deep, sexy voice and then giggled but never opened her eyes.

“No pain?”

She cracked up, but still didn’t open her eyes. “I feel drunk!” she giggled. “I dreamed you said you fucked a mermaid.”

“I did…”

“But they don’t have a hootchie!”

Eric had to bury his face in his pillow to keep from waking the whole house with his laughter. When he could speak he said, “They do, my Angel, but it is hidden by a flap of scales that move out of the way when they are aroused. They have sex just like whales and dolphins and people do. That’s how they reproduce.”

Sookie was high as a kite. “Fish-fucking!” she giggled. “I’ll have to try that sometime,” she cracked up again. “I’ll never be able to eat another can of tuna!”

Eric was amazed. She actually seemed drunk or stoned. “Sookie, do you think you can sleep now?”

“Yeah, I think so. I don’t see me managing to stand up any time soon.”

“Alright, Sweetheart, you drift off, and I’ll check on you later.”

“Mmm-hhm, g’nite, you fish-fucker,” and she cracked up again but did drift off to sleep in a few minutes.

Eric didn’t know whether to be amused or concerned. She seemed happy and unharmed, but he couldn’t remember what all they did. He did know that there was time missing from the time he saw on the alarm clock when he threw her on the bed, to the time he woke up just now. Why was she acting drunk? She was able to converse with him, but couldn’t quite awake, but she might just be tired. They had been very active and generated a lot of energy. He felt her scalp but there was no sign of a head injury and she didn’t register any pain. He was feeling pure happiness and contentment in the bond.

He set up the monitor and took it to his office, and he wrote notes to Sookie and Bjorn for tomorrow. He didn’t think Sookie was sick or hurt, but he wanted Bjorn, Bobbie and Alicia to keep a close eye on her just in case. He also told Bjorn about his plans to go to Fangtasia with the baby.

He took a steno pad from his desk and started making a list of questions he wanted answers to regarding Sookie and her Fae parentage or legacy or destiny or whatever the hell it was now. He’d have Sookie ask them of Claudine, and if she couldn’t answer them, perhaps Ludwig or Freyja could. Eric had a feeling that Sookie wasn’t anything near human any more, and that whatever part of her might still be human had something to do with nursing Alex, but he wasn’t sure of anything at this point except that she was getting stronger, bolder and wilder than anything he could remember – except maybe Freyja, who was like riding a whirlwind. Even Freyja never generated pink sparkles or orange flames that didn’t burn anything.

Alex awoke at his usual time, and Eric took him into the nursery for his favorite part of the day. He told Alex about Fangtasia and that he was going to take him there just the two of them, plus Bjorn and some guards, and he could see a bunch of Daddy’s employees. Alex didn’t understand much of it, but his eyes twinkled because he knew it was about him and Daddy and that’s all he needed to know. Eric tucked him in with a kiss, said good night to Sookie again, and went to rest for the day with many questions running through his mind, making notes on the steno pad as he waited for sleep.

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