LATE Chapter 085

Sookie Takes a Trip…

 

“Eric Northman, you are NOT going to punish me just for wearing a sexy dress!”

Eric shrugged, “Alright. Alex, tell Mommy what you’ve been doing.”

“Me an Peesha dantheen.”

“Huh?”

“He asked Felicia to dance and she twirled him around the floor. He loved it!”

“That’s nice, Sweetie.” Sookie stroked the baby’s head. “So, you’re not mad at me?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It doesn’t? Since when?”

“Sookie, you are the one who requested training. You obviously aren’t into it and you aren’t doing well anyway, so let’s forget it. Maybe when Alex is older…”

“Wait a minute – I never said I wasn’t into it.”

“Your actions say it, Sookie. It doesn’t matter. I haven’t been consistent with you, so we’ll forget about it for a bit.”

“I don’t WANT to forget about it, Eric! And what do you mean I’m not doing very well?”

“Your reaction just now was the polar opposite of submissive. If you don’t want to do it, we won’t.”

“But I DO want to do it…”

“Then you need to learn not to defend yourself from me. If I say you need to be punished you should accept that without a fuss.”

“Can we talk about this for a minute?”

“We are talking, my Angel – what did you want to say?”

“I’m not doing well because of my reaction?”

“Among other things. You have a lot going on, Sookie, so let’s just let things go for a while.”

“NO! I don’t want to give this up – it’s something special between us. What aren’t you doing consistently?”

“Punishing you enough to prevent events like this from happening. If I were doing my part, you’d never have considered trying to entice me to break your doctor’s orders.”

“Because I’d be afraid of you?”

“NO, because you’d know better, or you’d have matured beyond this behavior.”

“I’m being immature?”

“Very, and in an area that brooks no compromise – your physical well-being and your ability to care for Alex. A mature woman, a well-trained submissive, and certainly a budding Goddess, would be responsible enough to do exactly as she’s told by her doctor because her family and her kingdom depend on her being up to meeting her obligations.”

“And instead, I’m…”

“Being a brat, and there’s only one effective way to teach a brat to curb her childish impulses.”

“But if I don’t think I deserve punishment…”

“Questioning whether you do or not is not being submissive. We’re either going to do it or not, and you aren’t committed to it, so we’ll forget it.”

“OK, one more question?”

“You don’t have to restrict it to one question, Sookie. What did you want to ask?”

“How does playing submissive fit in with being a Goddess?”

“That depends on you. You could consider them completely separate, since it’s sex play and doesn’t have to affect the rest of our lives, or you could embrace it and let it make you a better Goddess.”

“Oh, so, you’ve got experience training Goddesses?” That came out a lot snottier than she intended it.

He looked her right in the eye, “yes, Sookie, I have.”

Yikes! Sookie had to think about that for a minute. She had a sudden urge to talk to Freyja and tried to think of where she could do that. She realized the single bathroom by the back door of the club had a mirror on the wall and a lock on the door.

“I need to go to the ladies’ room – can we continue this discussion in a bit?”

“Of course, Sookie,” he assured her as he took the baby from her. Sookie gave them both a peck on the cheek and made her way quickly to the hallway, snagging a salt shaker from Felicia on the way. Two of the guards followed her and took posts outside the bathroom door.

Once in there, Sookie twisted the top off the shaker and poured the salt in her hand. She faced the direction she thought was east, then spread the salt around in a clockwise circle right in front of the mirror. She stood facing it, closed her eyes, and took a slow, deep breath in, then slowly let it out and got herself grounded. She opened her eyes and meditated on her reflection. The rest of the mirror had fog or mist rolling around it and the image of Sookie herself began to shimmer and flicker. Soon it was morphing from Sookie to Freyja and back again, and it was making her dizzy, but she knew not to look away.

“Freyja, my Goddess, this is making me dizzy,” Sookie told the reflection.

“Touch the mirror with both hands, My Angel.”

Sookie touched the mirror on each side of her reflection and the image stabilized, though it still looked as much like Sookie as it did Freyja.

“Thank you. I need your advice.”

“Ask your question.”

“It’s about Eric – He likes to dominate, and I like to be dominated, but is that what You want from me? Is that appropriate for a Goddess?”

“A Witch bows to no man, but a woman can always make an exception to please her husband and her king. Don’t move, Sookie – close your eyes and try to remember…”

Sookie closed her eyes and saw a barrage of images – thatched huts, caves, medieval fortresses and castles. All of these images showed Eric and a blonde woman in various sexual acts, some of which were very extreme, all of which were hot as hell and it took a minute for Sookie to realize that she was each of these women. There was a flash of orange light and heat and suddenly Sookie was in the images as they rushed by, feeling what those women – what SHE- was feeling in them, all at once – the intensity, the lust, the pleasure, the pain, and the ecstasy of both, the feeling of freedom, of having no limits but the ones She chose for Herself.

Eric was still talking to Alex and letting him suck on his bottle though he kept getting distracted and looking around. Eric smiled knowing that Alex was trying to take it all in, and he could feel that the baby was fascinated by it all. He could also clearly feel that Alex knew this was Daddy’s world. Bjorn, Bobbie, Amelia and Jerry joined him on the stage and were all chatting about nothing in particular when Eric felt an overwhelming rush of heat and lust that he knew was emanating from Sookie. It was brief, then it was gone. Everything was gone – not just the feeling – he didn’t feel Sookie there anymore, either.

Alex looked up at him, “ware di Mamee do?”

“That’s a good question, Alex. Bjorn, can you come with me, please?” Eric quickly got up and walked to the bathroom across from his office, Bjorn trying to keep up with him and the baby. He could smell that Sookie had been here, but her scent wasn’t as strong as it should be. He knocked on the door and called out to her. “Sookie? Sookie are you still in there?”

No answer.

“Are you sure she came here, Eric?”

“Yes, and she was here just a minute ago.” He turned to the guards on either side of the door, “did the Queen come out of here yet?”

“No, your Majesty,” they said in unison.

He tried the door, and found it locked. “I’ve got a key to unlock this door in case of emergencies. Hold Alex while I get it,” he told Bjorn as he handed him the baby.

Bjorn could tell Eric was really on edge, but he wasn’t sure why, but he took the baby from him and waited by the door. Eric was back instantly with the key and unlocked the door. No one was there, but Sookie’s purse was sitting on the sink. Eric stepped into the room and noticed that the floor was grainy or sandy. Looking closely at the black tile, he could see the circle of salt.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking…” Bjorn said cautiously.

“Yes – she cast a circle for some reason and she’s gone. The question is where, why and when she’ll be back.”

“What do we do now?”

“I have no idea.”

Alex, still in Bjorn’s arms, pointed to Sookie’s purse and said, “Mamee.”

“Yes, my son,” Eric said as he took him from Bjorn, “that is Mamee’s bag.”

“Daygid om!”

“Take it home?”

“Eeah, por Mamee.”

“Alex, do you know where Mommy is?”

“Eh, Freyja.”

“Mommy is with Freyja?”

“Eeah.”

“Bjorn…”

“I’ll get Amelia…”

“Thank you.” As Bjorn moved quickly back toward the front of the club, Eric stepped into the bathroom, outside the circle, and before he could say anything, Alex pointed and said “thirco, Dadee!”

“Yes, Mommy drew a circle, didn’t she?’

“Eeah, Daddee an me ina thirco!”

“You want us to be in the circle?”

“Eeah!”

Eric wasn’t too sure about this, but he trusted Alex so he stepped into the circle as Alex requested. Alex held his hands out, palms up like a statue of an Indian deity, and said, “ware di Mommy do?”

Eric suddenly got a flash of Sookie being at home in bed. Bjorn knocked on the door and came back with Amelia as Eric was looking through his address book on his cell.

“Eric, what happened?” Amelia asked.

“Amelia, I don’t have Octavia’s cell number in my phone – do you have it?”

“She doesn’t have a cell phone.”

“I’ll have to get her one. Let me see if Alicia is still awake.” He pushed the number for Alicia, who answered very quickly.

“Mr. Northman?”

“Yes, Alicia, can you do me a favor? Can you look in my bedroom and see if Sookie is there by any chance?”

“Of course I can. Just a moment.”

Eric could hear her set the phone down and pull on a robe, then pick up the phone and he heard her slippers on the steps as she quickly climbed the stairs.

“Mr. Northman?”

“Yes?”

“She’s asleep, but she still has her pretty dress and shoes on. Do you want me to wake her or undress her?”

“No, I’ll be home in a few minutes. Thank you for checking.”

“Of course.” Alicia was wondering what the fuss was, but she also knew with the Northman’s it could be almost anything so she wouldn’t worry about it.

“Well?” Amelia was busting at the seams.

“She’s there, fully dressed, and apparently asleep.”

“How did that happen?” Amelia asked.

“I’m not sure, but this is a circle she cast in salt.”

“Why are you standing in it?”

“Alex suggested it, then he asked where she was and I got a picture of her in our bed.”

“OK, I have a suggestion – leave the circle intact until we can talk to Octavia. Lock this door and put an “Out of Order” sign on the door, and tell Pam no one is to come in here, including the cleaners.” Amelia was talking fast because she was excited.

“Alright. I’m going to take Alex home, but the rest of you can stay if you want,” he said anxiously.

“Hang on – are you taking the corvette?” Bjorn asked.

“Yes, I’ll leave Sookie’s car for you.”

“You’ll need a car seat for Alex, so I’ll have someone move it from her car to yours. I’m going to send two cars of guards with you, too. I also need to make the guards at the house aware that the Queen is inside.”

“Alright, Bjorn, Alex and I will be in my office. Let me know when we can leave. Amelia, thank you for your help.”

At that point, Pam came back to see what was going on and Amelia explained about the salt on the floor and the sign that was needed, so Pam locked the door and found a sign in the office.

Eric lay down on the black leather couch in the office and sat Alex up on his stomach the way Sookie showed him. Now that he knew Sookie was safe in their bed, he relaxed a little and decided it was a good time to play with Alex. He held Alex up in the air, “whooshing” as he moved him around, and Pam, who was behind the desk, shook her head and wondered which one of them was having more fun. The baby was giggling wildly, but Pam could feel Eric was beside himself with love and joy. Eric did the drop-kiss move a few times, then he sat Alex up on his tummy and asked Pam “Do you know any songs, Pam?”

“Songs, Master?”

“Yes, songs. Sookie does this with Alex and has him dance as she sings but I can’t think of any songs.”

“Try this,” Pam said as she turned on a monitor that let them hear the music from the front of the club.

“Mudik, Dadee!” Alex giggled and waved his arms, and Eric helped him “dance” as he’d seen Sookie do, which delighted Alex. “Dantheen, Dadee!”

“Yes, you are dancing to the music.”

“Ah wyg dantheen!” He giggled and drooled a little and Eric beamed at him. “Mamee om?”

“Yes, Mamee is at home. Bjorn is putting your seat in Daddy’s car and we’ll go home and see Mommy, OK?”

“Oday! Mamee seepeen.”

“Yes, she is. Maybe she’ll wake up when we get there and give us kisses before we go to rest.”

“Eh, kithesth?”

“You know – kisses. Mommy calls it something else… SUGAR. Mommy will give us sugar.”

“Kithesth?”

“This is a kiss,” Eric pulled Alex toward him and kissed him on the mouth. “See, Alex? Kiss.” And he kissed him again.

“Ah wyg kithesth!”

Eric laughed out loud. “Yes, I like kisses, too.”

“Dadee wyg kithesth Mamee.”

“Yes, Daddy likes to kiss Mommy. Mommy’s kisses are the best.”

“Eeah!” Alex giggled and bounced up and down as Eric moved his little arms in time to the music.

Eric sensed a familiar feeling from Alex and knew he needed a new diaper, so he laid him on the couch and reached for the diaper bag that was in the chair opposite them. Eric laughed to himself about the diaper bag being designed for daddies. He knew that this was a new cultural development, and a good one as far as he was concerned.

Eric kept talking to Alex as he changed his diaper, which was difficult because this was a bad one. Eric told himself this was a natural result of Alex eating so much food, but knowing that didn’t make the task any more pleasant. Normally when Eric encountered human waste, there was blood along with it to make it less putrid, but in this case, there was nothing to distract from it.

Eric was kicking himself for not summoning Bobbie to do this, but he got through it and had Alex cleaned, powdered and diapered very quickly, then he wrapped the diaper in a plastic garbage bag and threw it out back in the dumpster as the guards stood by.

“You didn’t?” Bjorn laughed as he came from the cars.

“I did. There is nothing in the world that makes a man more appreciative of women.”

“Yeah, I can see that. We’ve got the car seat all ready for you.”

“Alright, we’ll be going then.” Eric took Alex to the car and put him in his seat. “Look, Alex, this is your car seat. You’ll get to ride in Daddy’s car now! Just me and you – won’t that be fun?”

“Dadeesth gar?”

“Yes, Daddy’s car. You’re used to riding in Mommy’s car. This is the first time you and I will ride in my car alone.”

Bjorn called the guards that would accompany them home and they were at their cars quickly. One of the black four wheel drives pulled out in front of Eric and Alex and the other followed behind. Eric turned on the radio and found a station playing Sookie’s favorite band, which tickled Alex. “Mudik, Dadee!”

“Yes, that’s good music, isn’t it?”

“EEah!” Alex was waving his arms and kicking his feet almost in time to the music.

“Are you dancing, my son?”

“Eeah, Aweg dantheen.”

“You got to dance with your first girl tonight, didn’t you?”

“Peesha!”

“Yes, Felicia was very sweet to you. You’ve got good taste in women.”

“Mamee tasth dood.”

Eric laughed out loud. “Yes, Mommy tastes better than anybody. We are very lucky to have Mommy, aren’t we?”

“We wuggy!”

“Yes, we’re lucky.” Eric drove with one hand, his other on Alex’s tummy. He hoped he’d never forget this first drive alone with Alex. He was so cute at this stage and Eric was shocked at himself being able to love anyone or anything as much as he did Alex.

Alex was tired when they got home and he laid his head on Eric’s shoulder as soon as he had him out of the car. Eric floated slowly and gently to the stairs and up to the bedroom. As he turned the light on, he saw Sookie lying there and it shocked him for a minute. She almost looked dead. She was lying on her back in the middle of their bed, her dress arranged perfectly, still in her Marc Jacobs shoes, every hair in place. He thought of Faerie tales – Show White in her glass coffin, Sleeping Beauty in her tower covered with roses and thorns. This was more than sleep.

He was standing there, stroking Alex’s back, wondering what to do next when Doctor Ludwig popped into the room.

“Northman,” she nodded.

“Doctor Ludwig – this is a surprise.”

“Yes, well, I was studying on things and thought I’d check in on you and your little wife. I thought maybe it might put your mind at ease if I looked at her just to be sure she’s alright.”

“Yes, Doctor, it would. I know she’s going through extreme changes…”

“The three of you are going through changes. Sookie’s are the most extreme, though, and they might go on for quite a while. You’ll have to take part in the process at some point in the future…”

“What do you mean?”

“When the time is right, you’ll need to turn her.”

“But I thought she was not going to be Vampire…”

“She’s not, but the final transition is almost the same. To become immortal, one has to die. The process will be identical to what you would do to make her Vampire, but the end result will be different if she’s properly prepared. I don’t want her to know about this yet. I’m telling you to give you something to look forward to that will make this all seem worthwhile.”

“Anything that benefits Sookie, especially if it extends her life with me, is worthwhile.”

“Good, good. Tuck that little one in, and let me show you how to tell if she’s alright when she is in this state.”

Eric walked around the bed and put Alex gently into the co-sleeper, covering him with his blue blanket.

As he came back around, she said, “alright, now I want you to check her pulse in her throat in the little notch there. You’ll pick up a pulse there when you can’t get one in the extremities. I know you can hear her blood circulate, but the others will need to know to check this before they panic. Also, look at her fingernails and toenails. As long as they aren’t blue, she’s fine.”

“Alright, so she’s fine right now.”

“Good. Now, get the bottle I left this morning. It’s in that little refrigerator in the corner. There’s a golden cup there with it.”

Eric went back to the corner and retrieved the bottle and the cup. He looked at the obviously old and very ornate label, which did, indeed, say “Ambrosia” on it.

“So this is…”

“Yes. She’s not all the way there yet, but she’s close enough that she’ll need regular doses of this to function. It will make the transition easier and it will make her feel better. It might make her sleepy for a few days, but when she has the right amount of it in her, she’ll feel better than she’s ever felt before.”

“That’s good!”

“Yes. Now, I want you to fill that cup as close to the top as you can without spilling it and hold her up and give it to her. She’ll drink it even if she’s asleep. Now, she’s probably going to like it more than she should at first, so it’s important that she not sneak into it during the day. I want her only to take a bit before she’s going to sleep.”

“What would happen if she drank it in the daytime?”

“There’s no way to anticipate it, but it could cause energy… eruptions.”

“Eruptions?”

“Yes, little misfires of her powers or her magick – probably harmless, but potentially embarrassing or inconvenient, certainly unpredictable. It’s just better for her to sleep right after she doses.”

“Alright, that makes sense.”

The doctor ran through everything she had told Bjorn that morning and added a few things as Eric filled the cup, sat it on his night stand and pulled Sookie up to drink. She never offered to wake but her eyes opened wide for a second when the liquid touched her tongue and she practically licked the inside of the cup and asked for more.

“No, no, my Angel, that’s enough for tonight. More tomorrow,” Eric told her as he kissed her forehead and let her settle back down.

“I told you – it tastes better than you can imagine and it IS addictive by its very nature, so follow the instructions strictly. It will have effects on you and the baby, too as you feed from her, but they should be generally pleasant. It could be harmful to a human, so don’t let her share it with anyone. I know it looks like a standard wine bottle, but it will last much, much longer than you expect it to, and it’s supposed to. Never skip a dose and only you must give it to her.”

“When she changes, will she still consume food?”

“If she wants to, but she won’t have to. You’ll probably be able to as well. Bodily functions will be more about pleasure than necessity. She’ll enjoy sleep and benefit from it but she won’t need it. Same with food, sex, touch – as with many things, she’ll have to unlearn her expectations.”

“What do you mean?”

“If she expects to need to sleep, she will. If she doesn’t expect it, it’s up to her whether she sleeps or not.”

“When will that begin?”

“We aren’t sure yet. It could be weeks, months or years. For now, she needs sleep and it’s still the priority for her other than feeding the baby. She’ll likely sleep through tomorrow so tell your staff. I hope she expressed some milk?”

“Yes, she did.”

“Good. Use that, leave her undisturbed and she’ll awake on Friday fresh as a daisy.”

“Doctor – will this affect the girl?”

“The girl child you’re supposedly going to have?”

“Yes.”

“Only in positive ways. It won’t prevent it from happening. If anything, it makes it more likely. You may not even need Niall’s intervention that time, but we’ll have to see. As the process unfolds, it is surprising us all. I think we’re doing well so far, though, don’t you?”

“Yes, Doctor, we are. I’ll be very glad when she no longer has physical vulnerabilities.”

“Even the gods have a few of those, but you’re right – your lives will be easier when hers are fewer. Now, one more thing…”

“What is that?”

“Keep the idea of the daughter as quiet as you can. If any of your staff knows of it, swear them to secrecy until the child is actually born.”

“Why?”

“Do you know… the nature of that child?”

“You mean about Freyja becoming tripartite?”

“Exactly. There are those who will not be pleased about the prospect. It’s a huge power play on Her part. She wants to be returned to Her former position as the head of the Pantheon and there are those who will violently oppose Her. No one has any idea where She’s going with this yet. Even the idea of Sookie being elevated has some of the male gods worried. A third aspect will set them off, so we want to delay that as long as we can.”

“Why now, after all these years?”

“She was finally able to get you all in place. She told you She’d find a way for the two of you to be together forever. This is how She worked it out.”

“Was this the only way?”

“To be with you, no. To move back up in the Pantheon AND be with you, yes.”

“What if Sookie doesn’t want it?”

“It’s too late for that.”

“That’s what I thought. Doctor – the other twin…”

“Is making remarkable strides now that she is feeding him. The Ambrosia will increase the benefit of that, too.”

“Was this a part of the calculation?”

“Only Freyja could answer that. It has occurred to me that in order to make one twin ideal, the other had to take its weaknesses. If I were you, I wouldn’t question Her.”

“I won’t but Sookie might at some point.”

“You need to train her out of that tendency to challenge everything and everyone as quickly as you can. You’re going to be interacting with beings more powerful than she can imagine right now. I worry that she might provoke the wrong power before her powers are fully formed.”

“Yes, I see that, but how does one train a Goddess?”

“If the Goddess is smart, she’ll want the training. It could save all your lives. Make her understand that, Northman. Her actions now can have far reaching consequences. She wouldn’t just be endangering your little family – the repercussions could reach your staff, your guards, your subjects, even Niall and I could be at risk. Don’t forget who performed your wedding, either. The Ancient Pythoness put Herself in your corner at your wedding and your reception. You owe it to Her not to put Her at risk.”

“Yes, I see that. Thank you, doctor.”

“One last thing – when you find yourself awake on rainy days, drink from Sookie right away. You’ll perk right up now that she’s on Ambrosia.”

“Alright – thank you!”

“Have a good night, and don’t forget to tell your staff that she’s not to be disturbed tomorrow.”

Once the doctor left, Eric decided the first thing to do was to get Sookie out of her clothing. He wondered how and why she wound up back here at home, and what possessed her to try to cast a circle at Fangtasia? He took the shoes off of her and put them in the empty box that was sitting on the floor next to the closet. He unzipped the lovely pink dress and put it on the hanger that was on the hook by the closet door and put it back in the bag it had with it. He pulled her thong off and threw it into the bathroom, then he turned the bed down and tucked her in.

He lay next to her for a while, looking at her face. Was it possible she was getting prettier? Her skin was flawless, and there was no sign of any kind of line – even the little laugh lines almost everyone has around their eyes were gone. Her lips were full and dark and her eyelashes so long, dark and thick that he checked to see if she was wearing false eyelashes, but she wasn’t. In fact, she didn’t even seem to be wearing mascara. She had on that smudged black eyeliner she had started to iwear that he loved, though he hadn’t told her that yet. Her skin was creamy white but her cheeks were rosy and it occurred to him that she wouldn’t be happy because her tan seemed to be completely gone. He pulled down the covers and noticed that her tan lines were no longer visible. Can a Goddess suntan?

Eric looked in her tote bag and found her journal and made notes of his observations and tried to approximate the time she must have cast her circle. He thought about their brief conversation earlier in the night. Was she so confused about the D/s concept that she ran to ask the Goddess what to do? If so, he thought, then he had to do a better job of explaining things to her. She was going through so many changes that it was only natural that she’d have a lot of questions and it was his responsibility to help her grow into her new roles. On one hand, it was great that she thought of using magick on the fly. On the other hand, he was going to take it as an indication that he needed to pay more attention to her feelings. Between managing his kingdom and focusing so much on Alex, maybe he was neglecting Sookie? It was far too easy for him to forget how young she was and how much was demanded of her. Just being his wife was a lot. Being Alex’s mother was more than three women should have to do. Add in being Queen, and becoming a Goddess… the more he thought about it, the more he thought the sex should take a back seat to simply spending time talking to her. They had centuries to explore each other. There were other ways to teach discipline. It was time to get Sookie back into the gym and get her used to using a sword. The changes her body was going through might include changes to her musculature. This might be the best, or even only, possible time to build up her forearms and thighs.

It was still an hour and a half before sunrise, so Eric wrote a note to Bjorn, turned out the lights and headed to the basement with Sookie’s journal. He went into Sookie’s ritual room and lit a pink candle, then knelt in the circle.

“Freyja, min Vackra Gudinna, speak to me.”

The shimmering image of the Goddess appeared before him, and he was shocked with how much she looked like Sookie tonight.

“My Lover – you have summoned me?”

“Yes, my Lady, I need to ask You – am I neglecting Sookie?”

“No, my Lover, but you might be underestimating her.”

“How so?”

“She’s much stronger than you think. She’s stronger than she thinks she is, too. Wait and ask her where she went tonight. She’s got a story to tell you when she wakes up.”

“But she’ll sleep through the day?”

“Yes, but she’ll be wide awake on My Day, my Lover. Take her for a midnight swim, just the two of you,” Freyja gave him a smoldering look and was gone.

Eric smiled, knowing that She was right – he was underestimating Sookie. Maybe they all were. When you come right down to it, Sookie always rises to the occasion, even if she has a little fit about things first.

Eric scribbled a few notes in Sookie’s journal, then he got the sense that Alex was awake and zipped back up the stairs. Alex was lying there patiently, chewing on his little fingers, when Eric got to him. He pointed to his mouth and Eric realized his gums were hurting and got one of the teething rings and a bottle from the little fridge before they headed into the nursery. He grabbed the diaper bag as he passed by it, too.

“Ware di Freyja do, Dadee?”

“Freyja went… wherever She goes.”

“Mamee seepeen?”

“Yes, Mommy is asleep. She sleeps a lot these days, doesn’t she?” He chattered with the baby as he put the bottle in the warmer.

“Nah.”

“You don’t think so?”

“Nah nah, Mamee mo seepeen.”

“Mommy needs to sleep more?”

“Eeah.”

“How do you know that?”

“Freyja!” Alex said, looking at Eric with surprise. Alex figured if he knew why, Eric should know, too.

“Mamee won’t be awake to dance with you later, but she will tomorrow.”

“Oday. Poo?”

“Pool? I don’t know. If it’s supposed to be sunny, I guess Bobbie and Amelia could take you in the pool. I’ll leave Bjorn a note and tell him you want to swim, alright?”

“Eeah – sthimmeen ina poo!”

“Would you like to read a book?”

“Nah, baddow.”

“You just want your bottle, tonight, eh?”

“Eeah, an appo!”

“Apples? Let’s see…”

He set the diaper bag up on the changing table and rummaged through it, finding a jar of turkey with gravy and a jar of apples in a bag with a baby spoon. “Looks like the women anticipated your wants, my son. Which do you want first, apples or bottle?”

“Appo.”

Eric sat in the glider with Alex and got him in a comfortable position, then he twisted the lid on the jar of apples and began to feed him. Alex fed voraciously, so much so that Eric took the turkey concoction out and fed that to him, too. Then Alex was ready for his bottle, which he drank with equal enthusiasm. When he was done, Eric put him up to his shoulder, putting a diaper under his chin in case he spit up, and Alex snuggled there, twining his fingers in Eric’s hair the way he liked to. They sat quietly together, Eric holding Alex long after the baby had gone back to sleep, only tucking him in when the sun was actually coming up and he could put it off no longer.

Thursday was a quiet day. Eric had left Bjorn instructions that Sookie was to be left undisturbed and he left him a message on his phone that Alex had requested to play in the pool if the weather was good enough. Alicia checked on Sookie every hour and left the monitor in the room with her in case she woke up, but she never did.

Bjorn fed Alex a big breakfast of some kind of warm baby cereal, apples and pears at the kitchen table, then Bobbie, Amelia and Octavia took turns playing with the baby in the pool. He was in his glory being the center of everyone’s attention. It was noisy out back from all the construction on the two little houses and at one point, Alex asked to see the “ewwo dwugs.” The adults finally figured out what he wanted, so Bjorn wrapped him in a towel and took him to see the trucks, then fed him a bottle and put him down for a nap in the playpen. The women drifted in and out of the pool, and Octavia took a nap by the pool, too. Bobbie kept a close eye on Alex to see that he didn’t get over heated and she made sure he was in the shade.

When Alex woke up, Bobbie had a little bottle of cold apple juice ready for him and he loved it. He sucked it down happily as she changed his diaper, then she took him back into the pool and pulled him around in his inflatable yellow ducky until dinner time. Alicia and Margaret had food on the grill for everyone, laborers included, so Bjorn stayed very close to Alex the whole time and was in the den playing on the floor with him when Eric got up.

“Having fun, you two?” Eric asked, laughing.

Bjorn looked up at him, “Yeah, we’ve had a blast today, haven’t we, buddy?”

“OMBA! Sthimmeen ina poo an ewwo dwugs and ewwo duggy an Bosth!”

Eric sat down on the floor beside the big blue dinosaur. “How is Sookie today?”

“She hasn’t been awake at all. Alicia checks on her at least every hour and the monitor is up there if she needs us.”

“Alright. Alex, you have had a very busy day, I take it?”

“Eeah!” he patted the dino on the head, “Bosth!”

Eric looked at Bjorn. “He’s telling you the dinosaur’s name is Boss.”

“Oh, I see. He loves playing in all these balls, doesn’t he?”

“Yeah, I guess to a baby, this is a blast. He’s been practicing his magick with it today, too.”

“Throwing the balls and calling them back?”

“Yep. I didn’t scold him for it, or anything.”

“I think it’s fine if he does that when it’s just family here. Sookie gets a little nervous I realize, but I honestly think Alex would know not to do that in public.”

“I do, too. He’s always very well behaved when he’s out – as long as women don’t try to kiss Daddy,” Bjorn laughed.

“Yes, that caught me by surprise, too. It never occurred to me that he would react that way.”

“I’d seen him do that to Sookie when he was still in the womb. That guy Merlotte tried to hug her and he kicked her hard every time he touched her.”

“Well, I don’t want Sookie hurt, of course, but it’s good to know my son is protective of his mother.”

“Yeah, anyone that ever tried to mess with her was sorry for it.”

“That’s the way we want it, isn’t it, Alex?”

“Eric, do you know what Sookie has planned for tomorrow?”

“Is that lunch and shopping with the girls?”

“Yes, they’re meeting up with Sookie’s cousin, I think?”

“Ah yes – the Faerie.”

“She has a Fae cousin? Full Fae?”

“Oh, yes, in training to be an Angel, I think.”

“I don’t know how all of that works.”

“Neither do I, but I know Sookie is brimming with questions for her. How much she will tell, or whether it can be believed, is another matter entirely.”

Bjorn laughed. “You don’t like Fae much, do you?”

“I take it you’ve never been around them?”

“No, not that I know of…”

“Never turn your back on one. Their values and motivations are very different from humans or even other Supes. They’re sneaky and manipulative and there’s always a subtext or another agenda, or something going on that comes back to bite everyone in the ass. They’re greedy, scheming and vindictive as hell. They’re deadly vicious warriors, too, and they’re always at war with someone.”

“I heard about some epic battle with the Vampires…”

“The carnage was beyond belief, even by Supe standards. They’re long-lived and hard to kill. Vampires still have not replenished our numbers to where we were before it. Felipe de Castro damn near started it up again when he surrounded Sookie’s house in his coup against Sophie Ann.”

“He threatened Niall’s granddaughter?”

“He didn’t know who she was at that point. He only knew her then as a human in my retinue. Then Bill let him know there was a conflict between us over her by saying he’d die for her and challenging me to do the same.”

“Shit! You can’t tell a thing like that to a guy like de Castro!”

“Exactly. He risked all of our lives just to gain a few points with Sookie.”

“Why would he do something like that?”

“She has that effect on Supes. We do stupid things for her. If I had been my normal self when I met her, I would have killed her on the spot – or at least once I realized I cared about her. But I couldn’t do it. I love her too much, and I did the first time I saw her.”

“Aren’t you glad, though? Now you’ve not only got her, you’ve got Alex. You’ve got everything a man could dream of.”

Eric smiled softly as he stroked Alex’s hair. “Yes, I suppose I do. She’s a miracle, and so is he.”

“Ba, Dadee!” Alex threw a ball to Eric, and Eric gently tossed it back, Alex giggling as he tried to catch it, then picking up another and throwing it to him. Eric and Alex became engrossed in their game together and Bjorn quietly left the room to let them have some time alone.

Eric played with the baby a long time, and Alex finally asked for “tatosth” so they went into the kitchen where Margaret was cleaning the kitchen.

“I’m afraid he’s hungry, Margaret. He’s asking for potatoes again,” Eric said almost apologetically.

“Not to worry, sir, I’ve made enough to last several days. All I have to do is warm them up for him.”

“Good thinking,” he laughed and sat at the table with Bjorn, Octavia, Bobbie and Amelia who were drinking coffee and chatting.

“So, Eric, is Sookie going to be able to go to lunch with Claudine tomorrow?” Amelia had her doubts.

“I was told she’ll wake up fine. She just needed this rest now, I suppose. We should all be prepared that this might happen now and then. If she doesn’t wake up, one of you will have to find Claudine’s number and let her know that Sookie is indisposed, but the doctor didn’t think it would be a problem.” Eric had Alex in one arm and brought the high chair in with the other.

“The doctor? When did she see Sookie?” Bobbie asked.

“Last night when we got home, she popped in to set my mind at ease and clarify the instructions she’d given yesterday. I’m very glad she did – I was worried after Sookie disappeared from the club that way.”

“I’ve been studying on your little problem there.” Octavia said, “I think you need to take her back to Fangtasia to close that circle and you should do it as soon as possible.”

“Why don’t you go by there tomorrow afternoon before you go out to lunch? I’ll leave you my key, though I’m sure some of the girls will be there,” Eric suggested.

“We could do that,” Amelia agreed.

“Good. I want that portal closed properly ASAP,” Octavia said.

“It’s not something someone else could do?” Eric asked as he settled Alex into his chair.

“Best not experiment with powers like hers. Too much can go wrong, and until SHE closes it, it’s probably still there. I don’t know what would happen if someone untrained happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“You think it could send them somewhere else?” Eric wanted to be sure what she was concerned about. Margaret handed him a plastic container full of Cheerios so he could give a few to Alex.

“Maybe, depending on how she called it and why. You don’t have any idea why she cast it at that particular moment?”

“We were having a conversation about something and I’m not sure, but I think she was asking Freyja something about me…” he danced around the subject as he sprinkled cereal on Alex’s tray.

“That would make sense.”

“Freyja tells me I’ve been underestimating her. At the very least, I’ve been confusing her or not explaining things clearly enough. I’ve always said she would be my first priority but I’ve let my focus on running the kingdom and paying attention to Alex cause me to lose sight of what she is going through.”

“Don’t beat yourself up, Eric,” Amelia advised.

“Right – just consider it a wake-up call and get your priorities in line again. The best way to take care of Alex is to keep his Mama healthy and happy,” Octavia advised.

“Of course, you are right. She’s the key to his well-being. She’s the center of his universe,” Eric mused.

“And will be for a long time. That’s as it should be,” Octavia wanted to reinforce this with him.

“I suppose I’ve been worried…” Eric hesitated. Was he really going to say this out loud?

“I know you’re worried about the other one,” Octavia finished his thought, “Don’t. She’s a mother. Whether she has one, two or 22, she’s got enough love to make each one of them think he’s special.”

“Do I?”

“Now you’re underestimating yourself, Mr. You’ll love them each in a special way, just like any parent.”

“Alex….” Eric tried to distract Alex by playing with the cereal with him, and it seemed to work.

“Doesn’t want any competition,” Octavia finished that thought, too. “That’s natural for a baby to want to be an only child, but most of them don’t get that luxury and they do just fine. With all the advantages that little one has, you don’t need to worry about him having to learn to share.”

“But he’s Fae…”

“Is he? Says who?” Octavia challenged him.

“What do you mean?”

“I never heard of a Fae baby being sensitive to sunlight, did you? Or silver?”

“But they said he couldn’t leave the Faerie realm…”

“They said he didn’t make it through when Alex did. Nobody has tried to bring him through now. My guess is, Dr. Ludwig is waiting for him to feed from Sookie for a while before they try.”

“What are you basing this on?”

“I’ve been throwing the cards about your little family. Ludwig and Niall are giving you information on a need to know basis, and I think it’s to cover Niall’s ass. If you think about it, Alex and Freyja have been going around them to tell you things.”

“You saw this in a Tarot reading?”

“Several over the past few days.”

“Did they tell you why the baby didn’t get through?”

“Are you sure you want to know?”

“Absolutely.”

Everyone in the kitchen was barely breathing, waiting to hear.

“Alex wouldn’t let him.”

“What?”

“Alex wouldn’t let him come through.”

“That’s not possible is it?” Eric was horrified, not because of the other baby, but because of how Sookie might take it.

“It’s not only possible, it’s the only thing that makes sense. Alex,” she addressed the baby, “want to visit Eric Auberon?”

“NAH NAH!” He slammed his hand down on his tray sending cereal flying.

“He’s the reason that one’s not here. Whether he was capable of preventing it himself, or it was part of his negotiation with Freyja, he’s the reason,” Octavia was convinced of this.

“So Freyja may or may not have agreed to it?”

“Yes, I’m not clear yet on Her involvement. You should ask Her.”

“Niall said he did exactly what Freyja told him to do…” Eric recalled.

“Right, so either She gave him a ritual designed for that result, or someone or something was powerful enough to keep one spirit from crossing over.”

“Dadee! Deeweeohsth!”

“Alright, Alex, just a second.” Eric went to the cupboard to get the container again and put some on Alex’s tray as Margaret was sweeping the others off the floor. Eric sat back down looking at Alex closely. “OK, Alex, happy now?”

“Eeah. Ma Dadee nah dat beebee,” Alex said with a pout.

“You got that, right?” Octavia asked him.

“Yes – he said I’m his daddy, not that baby’s.”

“NAH NAH!” Alex yelled and burst out crying. Eric quickly took him out of the high chair and hugged him close, rubbing his back and whispering, “shhh, Daddy loves Alex,” to him.

Margaret sat the bowl of warm potatoes in front of them and Eric said, “look Alex – ‘tatoes” and fed him a spoonful. Alex quickly forgot that he was upset and focused on chowing down on his favorite food.

Eric’s mind was spinning. He didn’t know how to process this information. What Octavia said made sense, and Alex’s behavior certainly fit her assessment. Freyja might agree to such an arrangement if She had to to coax Alex to cooperate. Alex would obviously make the demand or cause the failure if he could based on his reactions. What would Sookie think when she knew this? Eric wasn’t even sure what he thought about it. He knew he’d have to tell Sookie – they were far past keeping secrets from each other. Even if he tried to conceal it, she’d hear his thoughts. He was barely conscious of speaking when he said, “how do I tell Sookie?”

“Don’t underestimate her, Eric,” Octavia was very serious. “She’ll handle it better than you are.”

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