Over Her Head
Eric spent the whole evening in the nursery with Alex, reading books – well, one book, actually, over and over. He went slowly through Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks three times, teasing Alex and letting him try to copy the words he was saying. Now Eric knew exactly what Sookie meant about the rhyming, repetitive words helping them learn to speak and was amazed at how Alex wanted to hear it over and over. While they were reading, Alex would point at an illustration and say “dat?” wanting to know the name of it, and Eric had a blast seeing how his mind worked and what caught his attention. Alex always pointed out anything “ewwo” and Eric started to wonder if that wasn’t Alex’s favorite color. He named other colors, too, if Eric pointed them out to him, but he really gravitated to yellow. Eric had as much fun as Alex did, and was very proud of his little boy. Alex was inquisitive and tried hard to copy the words. Eric was particularly impressed by such a small baby having such an impressive attention span. Alex was just fascinated with the book and the pictures, and he’d watch Eric’s mouth very carefully when he repeated the little rhymes.
Once Alex went down for his next nap, Eric got a bit of work done, checking in with Sandy and Bill, following up on some information from Carolina, and getting a status update on the guards’ schedule from Bjorn.
When Alex woke for his last feeding of the night, Eric was ready for him, having had Margaret prepare several things for him ahead of time. Alex asked the name of broccoli, which he loved, and he managed to get “bwogy” out for it. Turkey was “duhgy” and peaches were “beejes.” Eric was about to burst at how cute Alex was when he ate food that he liked. Even after eating all of that, he drank a large bottle of RM and he fell asleep chewing on a teething ring as he rested his head on Dadee’s shoulder and played with his long hair. Even when Alex was older he could remember how it felt when Daddy held him and he twirled his long hair in his fingers. It’s why Alex never cut his own hair when he was grown.
Eric tucked the baby in next to Mommy and gave Sookie a kiss on the lips, which actually made her open her eyes and smile. Eric gave her a dose of Ambrosia and she asked for more again, but quickly went to sleep when he told her ‘no, my Angel, sleep now’ and kissed her goodnight.
“Ah, Mamee!” A tiny finger pushed Sookie’s eyelid upward and she laughed at the toothless grin facing her from Eric’s side of the bed.
“Hi, Pookie! Are you ready to eat?”
Sookie laughed and pulled him to herself and Alex latched on with a vengeance. “Wow, Pookie, have they been feeding you? What time is it?” she wondered as she looked at the clock on Eric’s nightstand. 8:30 AM. Wow. Sookie remembered some really wild dreams but she didn’t remember coming home last night and going to bed. She hoped Eric wasn’t upset with her.
“Come on in, Bjorn, we’re up,” she laughed.
“Good morning, sleepyhead!” Bjorn came in with that big book and sat in his usual spot.
“Yeah, right? I can’t even remember going to bed last night!”
“Because you didn’t. You went to bed night before last, sort of.”
“What does that mean?”
“Do you remember being at Fangtasia?”
“Yeah, of course.”
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“Well, Eric and I were having a discussion or argument or something and I decided I needed input from Freyja so I went to the bathroom. I remember seeing Her and talking to Her and then….” Sookie hesitated but then the images of where she had been washed over her in a wave and all she managed to get out was “guh!”
“Nothing, I just… I need to write in my journal. Is it over there?”
“Yep, right here. There’s a pen with it, too.” Bjorn handed her the black book and Sookie opened to the last page with writing. She saw that Eric had written 4 pages since her last entry so she paged back and read what he had written.
“Eric has been talking to Freyja, too, I see.”
“She told him he was underestimating me.”
“Yeah, Octavia told him that, too. The general consensus is that you are stronger than you or Eric either one think you are.”
“You agree with that?”
“Yes, I think you’re a powerhouse, you just aren’t owning it yet.”
Sookie leaned back and thought about that for a minute as she watched Alex suckle. She gently stroked his little head and smiled at him, looking him right in the eye for a bit. She picked the book up again and asked Bjorn, “why does this say I disappeared?”
“You did. Don’t you remember?”
“It was real…” she said, mostly to herself.
“What was real?”
“If it really happened, I went on this sort of sexual Odyssey through at least, like, 5 or 6 lifetimes where I was having the hottest, raunchiest, most extreme sex imaginable with Eric. I’ve known him so many times before!”
“You mean like in past lives?”
“Yeah, exactly, and maybe some future ones, too. Freyja told me to try to remember and boy, did I! I wish Eric was up – I want to know if he remembers me from all those times.”
“I think that’s going to be a big yes. I remember him saying a couple of times that he’s known you before.”
“Why don’t I know this?”
“He probably didn’t think you’d believe him. Or, maybe he wanted you to remember it on your own?”
“When Alex is done, I need to write down everything I can remember. I didn’t even know some of that stuff could be sexual, but it definitely was…”
Bjorn was praying that Sookie was in a talkative mood now. “What kind of stuff?”
“Piercing, tattooing, branding, whips and chains, wild orgies with some kind of Fairies – I think there was even a ritual sacrifice of an animal in there.”
“Were there mostly women there for that?”
“Yeah, actually, there were very few men.”
“Dionysus. Eric has talked about him a few times.”
“Why didn’t he say anything to me when we encountered the Maenad?”
“He said you’d have freaked out if you’d been compared to her. He was pretty sure that the reason she went after you to begin with is that she recognized you. I take it that was a pretty ugly scene?”
“Definitely. Dr. Ludwig never said anything, either…”
“Wasn’t she mostly focused on saving your life?”
“And Eric was still trying to get you to leave Bill?”
“I can see why he wouldn’t tell you until you remembered. To be fair, though, he might not have known then. He said you had been having sex a while before he was sure who you were.”
“You mean Freyja?”
“No, that was the last piece of the puzzle. He told you about that as soon as he put it together. He said that the night you met, he felt as if you were supposed to be with him, and over the months or years or whatever, he’d get little flashes of the two of you together in other times and places, but he was never sure if they were fantasies or memories and he didn’t have anyone to ask. That’s why he likes having Octavia and Amelia around. He needed magickal info to help him with you for years and once he found the two of them, he’s keeping them around.”
“That makes me sound like a project,” she laughed.
“You’re the most important thing in his life, Sookie. He’s told me more than once that you and Alex ARE his life. Naturally, he’ll take all the help he can get to keep that.”
“Aw – that’s sweet,” she laughed softly as she helped Alex switch to the other breast. “So what day is it?”
“It’s Friday. You’ve got a busy day today.”
“Refresh my memory?”
“First, you’re going to Fangtasia to close the portal you opened the other night…”
“I didn’t close it then?”
“No, you disappeared from the club and wound up back here in bed.”
“Huh – ” she considered that for a minute, “ok, what else?”
“Then you and your retinue are having lunch with Claudine, I think her name is?”
“OH YEAH! I’m psyched about that. I have so many questions!”
“Eric left a list of questions, too, and after that, you and the girls will shop a while, and tonight we’re all going to learn a bit about swords. And I understand you have a date with Eric for a midnight swim.”
“Yes, Freyja arranged it.”
“OK. I learned one thing from my Odyssey – the gods can kick your ass!”
“That’s a good thing to learn.”
“Yeah, I don’t know where my head has been. It’s like, I know to call Freyja and talk to Her but on some level, a part of me didn’t really believe it.”
“I’m a believer, boy, I get it now. Eric should have been kicking my ass for months to get through to me and he didn’t do it. That’s not good for any of us.”
Sookie thought about that and licked her lips. She got a rush from the taste of Ambrosia on them, but she didn’t say anything to Bjorn. That stuff tasted better than anything, ever! Now that she was thinking about it, she wouldn’t mind taking a swig right now. Maybe if she could get everyone out of the room for a minute…
“Well, good morning!” Alicia came in with laundry for Sookie.
“Hey! I guess I haven’t seen you in a while?”
“Well, I checked on you every hour yesterday, but it’s not really the same as having you awake and aware,” she laughed.
“Yeah, I guess not. I feel great today, though. What should I wear today?”
“For your luncheon? I was thinking your black sundress with the lavender and yellow flowers. It looks so nice on you and you’ve got a perfect sweater to throw over it if the air conditioning in the restaurant is too much for you.”
“Oh, yeah, I like that one. I can wear my Birkies with that, too, and they’re best for shopping. What should Alex wear? I think I should dress him up a bit since he’s meeting family for the first time.”
“Well, he hasn’t worn the little romper that says “Party in My Crib” yet – it would be awfully cute with those little skull and cross bone shoes he has.”
“Oh, yeah! Good, we’ll put him in that. Let’s see, it’s going on 9, so can I get some breakfast, then Alex and I will shower, then we’ll head out around 12, we can stop at Fangtasia and then meet Claudine at the restaurant. Does that work for everybody?”
“Works for me,” Bjorn laughed
“I’ll be right back with your breakfast, dear.”
“Anybody up yet?” Amelia called from the steps.
“Come on up, Amelia!”
“What time are we leaving today?”
“Since we have to go by Fangtasia, I thought Noon?”
“Good deal, I’ll tell Bobbie and Octavia.”
“Are you done eating, Pookie?”
“Eeah – dantheen!”
“Oh, you’re still going to dance with Mommy after you’ve been hitting on other girls?” she teased him as she put him up on her tummy.
“Eeah!” Alex giggled, and Sookie started in with Surf City USA. Bjorn loved this part of the day as much as Alex did. Sookie and Alex were just too cute together not to love them both.
When Sookie got to the chorus that said “two girls for every boy” she held Alex up over her head and Alex was giggling so hard he drooled all over her and she and Bjorn cracked up “Oooh!” which the baby just loved.
“Alright, Alex, fly!” she let him go and he flew up to the ceiling, then came half-way down and turned circles in the air, giggling like crazy. Bjorn handed Sookie a tissue from the box on the table so she could wipe off the drool.
“I can’t right now, Sweetie, I don’t have any clothes on,” she said as she cleaned herself off.
Alex cracked up but Sookie figured he couldn’t possibly know what she meant, could he? Sometimes she really wondered if Alex didn’t understand a lot more than they realized.
Alex landed on the ceiling and said, “nah fyeen, Mamee!” and giggled wildly as he made a circle around the room.
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve been over that, buddy, and you know perfectly well that counts as flying, now, don’t you?” Sookie said to him in a mock-threatening voice.
“Eeah!” he giggled. “Bwogy, Mamee!”
“What’s bwogy, Sweetie – Mommy doesn’t know that word?”
“It’s something Margaret made for you?”
“Did Bjorn feed it to you?”
“Dadee fed it to you? When, last night?”
Sookie reached for the baby monitor. “Hello?”
“Yes, Mrs. Northman?” Alicia answered
“Do you have any idea what Eric fed Alex last night? He’s asking for food but I can’t tell what he wants.”
“Margaret’s right here, hold on.”
“Missus? Last night he had potatoes, then later he had turkey, peaches and broccoli.”
“BWOGY, MAHDWID!” Alex yelled down from the ceiling.
“Alex, are you saying “broccoli?” Sookie asked him.
“Did you hear that, Margaret?”
“Yes, I did, Missus. I’ll include that with his breakfast.”
“Wow,” Bjorn said, “I never saw a kid that liked broccoli before.”
“Me, either, but it’s really good for him, so I’m glad he does.”
Alex floated down and landed on Sookie’s lap and reached up for a hug, so she snuggled him for a few minutes and chattered with him for about 10 minutes until Alicia came up with their breakfasts on a tray.
“Yay!” Sookie said as she came in and Alex tried to copy her “eeay!” which made everyone laugh.
“Mmm, Alex, I’ve got steak! What did you get?”
“He’s got shredded beef, pureed broccoli and pears,” Alicia told her as she put the dish in front of Bjorn and brought Alex to him.
“Ooh, Alex, that sounds yummy!” Sookie teased him.
“Wow – this steak is so tender, I can cut it with a fork!”
“Yeah, I had one earlier,” Bjorn told her. “She got some really good organic meats this week.”
“Mmm- ah wyg bwogy, Mamee!”
“You do? Well, good, ’cause Mommy wants you to eat a lot of it so you can grow big and strong like Daddy, OK?”
“Good boy!” She beamed at him; She thought it was sweet how Bjorn would give him breakfast every morning.
By the time they finished eating and got their showers, it was nearly 11:30. Alicia helped Sookie dress, then put diapers, bottles and some jars of food in the diaper bag for Sookie while Sookie dressed Alex. As they started out of the nursery, Sookie saw an opportunity.
“Hey, Alicia, I forgot something – would you take him on down and I’ll be there in a minute?”
“Sure, I will. Come on, Baby E.”
Alex went to her happily and Sookie waited until she heard them hit the second floor before she went quickly into her room, opened the little fridge and took a big swig from the ancient bottle. It was so good she let it roll around on her tongue and really savored it. It was hard to stop with just one, but she could still taste it on her lips, so she’d have to be satisfied with that this time. A feeling of wellbeing rushed over her and she felt bouncier and happier than she had for a long time.
Everybody congregated in the kitchen and Bjorn got everyone moving to the cars. Alicia and Margaret opted to stay home and get some work done, so it was just Sookie and her Witches plus Bjorn and the guards. They rolled into Fangtasia at about 12:45 and Bjorn made everyone stay in their vehicles behind the club until he and one of the other guards did a walk through and made sure it was secure. Dana, one of the newer bartenders, was there to receive a shipment and had been told to expect them, and other than she, only Sookie’s people were there. Sookie and the girls headed for the bathroom and Bjorn got the key where Eric told him it would be, letting them in so Octavia could look the scene over before Sookie did anything.
“You girls all come in,” Octavia directed. “Bjorn, we’ll be out in a minute.”
“Alright, now, girls, spread out along the edges here. Good, now put your hands up and slowly move them forward and see if you feel anything.”
Amelia, Bobbie and Sookie did that and they all reacted with surprise.
“You can feel the edge of it, right?”
“Yeah – cool!” Bobbie said. There was a spongy feeling to the air giving just a little resistance at the perimeter of the circle.
“That’s pretty strong to last two days there, isn’t it?” Amelia asked
“For no more than she must have done to create it, it’s remarkable. Those powers of yours are no joke, Queenie.”
“What do I do now?”
“OK, put your hands together, palm to palm, and reach through that wall then push the energy to the side so you can step in.”
Sookie did that and there was actually a small puff of air where the energy sealed the circle back up behind her.
“OK, now face the direction you started, go counter clockwise kicking the salt out of formation as you say “the circle is open, but never broken. Blessed is the Lady, Our Mother and Our World.””
The energy in the room changed noticeably as Sookie finished the circle. Sookie could have sworn that she felt little sparks when she kicked the salt aside, but decided it was her imagination. Everything felt a little surreal just then, anyway, like the world was more 3-D than usual today. Next Octavia had Sookie take a broom from the hallway, sweep up the salt and flush it. Finally, she handed Sookie a small spray bottle of sage essence and had her spray the bathroom with it.
“OK, that should cover you, girl. I think we’ve returned this room to normal space.”
“Thanks for your help, Octavia. I wouldn’t have known what to do!”
“The way you made a hole and entered there? You do that if you’re ever in a circle and need to go out, too, or if you’re in circle and someone needs to come in. Respect that perimeter and it will protect you.”
“OK, I’ll remember.”
Bobbie was furiously scribbling notes in her journal as they said goodbye to Dana and headed back for the cars.
They got to the restaurant about 45 minutes before Claudine was due because they knew it would take a while to get everyone situated. It was a good thing that they did, because just as they were being seated, a lunch rush hit and if they hadn’t been there, they’d have lost their reservations to the overflow.
They were in a back section that was elevated from the rest of the floor and it was a good setting for what they needed. Guards were seated all around the perimeter of the space in tables of two, then the Witches, Bjorn and the baby in a borrowed high chair sat at a long table right in the middle. Bobbie sat on the other side of Alex so she could help with him as Sookie visited, and the seat on the other side of Sookie was saved for Claudine. Sookie was jumping in her seat, she was so excited. It felt like she was tingling all over, like a weak electrical current was caressing her skin. She couldn’t remember the last time she was this “hyper.” Her left leg was shaking like crazy, and she hoped no one noticed. Everyone was looking at menus and chatting when there was an audible reaction on the other side of the room.
“Oh, Sweetie, I’m sure I’ll find them!” Claudine came sweeping in wearing a hot pink and orange floral wrap dress with glitter and sequins in strategic places. Every time she took a step, her long leg was exposed and she looked amazing. You could see her a mile away and the other patrons were checking her out and commenting on her.
“Does she always dress like a drag Queen?” Amelia asked from behind her menu.
“Yes, actually, she does,” Sookie giggled. The guards’ eyes were popping out of their heads. Claudine was impressive by any standard, with her long legs and raven hair, but she looked really good today.
Sookie stood up as she came around the table. “Hey, Sweetie!” She threw her arms around her – she was so tickled to see her!
“Hey, yourself! You look good, darling girl! And before I sit down, I need to hug that little cousin of mine!”
Sookie pulled Alex up out of the high chair and held him forward, telling him, “Alex, this is our cousin Claudine. She’s almost the only family we’ve got along with her brother and Papaw.”
Claudine tickled Alex’s chin and he giggled, but his fangs popped down.
“Oh, my!” Sookie said when she saw him drop his fangs, but Claudine told her, “not to worry, Hon, that’s the Vampire in him. I’ve got enough cover today that he won’t try to bite me, but a small reaction like that is to be expected.”
“Oh, I hope so. I don’t want him to be rude to you!”
“Nonsense, Sookie, he’s already my boyfriend, aren’t you, Alex?” She gave him a big hug and a kiss.
“Eeah!” he giggled as she tickled his tummy. Sookie let her hold him and bounce him a bit and then settled him back into the high chair where Bobbie sprinkled a few Cheerios to keep him occupied. The waitress came over and they all ordered. Sookie had Bjorn tell all the guards to have anything they wanted because she was paying, and she and Bobbie decided to get fish and chips to mash up for Alex. Once the orders were in, Sookie introduced everyone at the table, then got down to business.
“Claudine, you know I’ve only known about my Fae ancestry for a little while now, and you know it’s becoming more and more important in my life.”
“And how, Sweetie.” Claudine knew Sookie had no clue just how important.
“Can you tell me a little bit about Fae? What the culture is like, the customs and stuff?”
“OK, well the first thing you need to know is that there’s a pretty strict caste system among our peoples.”
“OK, so that’s like a hierarchy?”
“Right. We – you, me, Niall, Claude, and (she nodded and raised a brow and Sookie knew she meant Eric. too) are the highest caste of Fae, known as the Sidhe, spelled SIDHE and pronounced “Shee.” We’re pretty much the ruling class. Now, at the bottom rung we have minor sorts of Fae types, like goblins, ogres, trolls, minor daemons. They’re generally troublesome and they keep to themselves unless they’re causing mischief.
Above them are the little people – leprechauns, pixies, imps, elves, brownies, nixes and pillywiggins, garden Fairies, mountain Fairies, plus the Elementals or Devas, which are salamanders, sylphs, undines and gnomes and they correspond to fire, air, water and earth.”
“OK, hang on, I want to write this down,” Sookie was fumbling for her book when Bobbie suggested, “Sookie, I’ll take notes and you can get them from me later.”
“Oh, good, thank you!”
Claudine continued, “then you move up to Selkies, Seelies, Sirens, Nyads, Dryads, Bean Sidhe – that’s what people call banshees- Milloraines, Fantis, Apsaras, White Harts, White Does, White Horses, Mari-Morgans, Mermaids and some demi-gods with animal parts like minotaurs or centaurs or satyrs.”
She paused a minute and spelled some words for Bobbie, then continued:
“Then you move into the aristocracy – White Ladies, Red Ladies, Gray Ladies, Black Ladies, Blue Ladies, Blue Fairies, Spring Ladies, Swan Mistresses and Masters, etc.
Then you reach the Sidhe, then you go to Angels and Arch Angels on the way to the rest of the demigods then gods and Goddesses.”
“Wow – so many!” Sookie was overwhelmed.
“Those are just the main ones, Hon. We are many and varied people, the Tuatha Dé Danann.”
“Children of Dana?” Bobbie asked.
“Or Danu or Diana – those are just a few of the 10,000 names, you know.”
“I’ve met beings that called themselves demons…” Sookie recalled.
“Technically, they’re daemons. They’re sort of a parallel to us – they have their own caste system that progresses to Angels as well. There are some creatures that claim to be both, so there’s a bit of overlap, but mostly we keep to our own kinds unless there’s war. Of course, there’s almost always war.”
“Where do you live?” Sookie asked, hanging on every word.
“Well, some are location specific – mountain Fairies and garden Fairies, Spring ladies live in natural springs, Mermaids, undines, selkies live in the water, Nyads and Dryads are forest spirits, etc. A lot of us live out among other humans and Supes as Claude and I do. In the Faerie realm, there are a few hot spots – Elfyria is the best known, plus the Isle of Avalon, the Fortunate Isles, and the physical gateway from the human world is the Glastonbury Tor in the Old Country. That opens to Avalon and Tir Na Nog but it’s not as easily accessed as it used to be.”
“Where does Niall live?”
“Elfyria – he’s the head honcho, you know, since his wife died. Titles normally pass from mother to daughter, but the line of succession was interrupted.”
“What interrupted it?”
“Oh, a little skirmish of sorts – an assassination, a coup, a couple of revolutions.” Claudine wanted to gloss over it for now because Sookie didn’t need the grisly details just yet.
“Who moves into his place if he….” Sookie nodded because she couldn’t bring herself to say it. She just found Niall and as mad at him as she might be, she couldn’t bear the thought of losing him.
“Well, that’s the 64 thousand dollar question, isn’t it? It will probably take a war or two to work that out if it happens in less than 20 years.”
“What happens at 20 years?”
“His successor will be old enough to rule. There are others in line but they probably wouldn’t want it, which will leave it open to whomever can take it if they refuse the seat.” Claudine was thinking very quickly about whether Sookie should know whom the heir apparent was, since she was his mother – not to mention her being rightful heir – but decided against it. Niall would have to be the one to break that news.
“I don’t know how to ask this…”
“He’s in Elfyria, Sweetheart, where Niall can watch over him. Only a handful of trustworthy souls know of him. Believe me, that’s the least of your worries…”
Three servers came over then with huge trays of food and everyone became preoccupied with getting their food and chowing down. Everyone chatted pleasantly and Claudine had Alex showing off for her and being a ham.
Alex cracked everybody up when he caught Bobbie concentrating on getting him a bottle and grabbed a piece of fish and gnawed on it.
“Alex, Sweetie, hold on!” Sookie laughed. “You don’t have any teeth, Pookie! Yeah, you need teeth for that!” She teased him. “Let Aunt Bobbie mash it up for you, OK?”
“You won’t have to mash his food up long, honey,” Claudine joked, “that one will be out hunting and clubbing his own dinner before you know it.”
“Ain’t that the truth? You know he asked a bartender at Fangtasia to dance with him the other night? Yeah, you’re already hitting on the pretty girls, aren’t you, Pookie?” Sookie rubbed his cheek and he giggled.
“He takes after that big, gorgeous Daddy of his,” Claudine agreed, “what a lucky boy, huh, to have such a beautiful Mommy and a fearsome Daddy as you’ve got! Born of the gods to walk among men. Couldn’t have designed it better yourself, could you, Alex?” Claudine looked right at him when she said that and Octavia caught it. Claudine knew a hell of a lot more than she was telling.
Octavia was starting to wonder exactly who this kid was. He was obviously intended to be a hero, but she was sure there was more to it than that. Freyja was fulfilling her promise to Eric, that was clear, and She was taking back some of Her own power, but there was more. Octavia was beginning to think that Alex, not Freyja, was the driving force in this deal. It wouldn’t be the first time a powerful ruler or magician had designed his own reincarnation. You couldn’t design a more ideal set of parents for a great ruler than Eric and Sookie. Even their faults were advantages in many ways.
Sookie had just finished her onion soup with Gruyere cheese and was digging into a chicken Caesar salad when Alex began to make his “come here” motion.
“You want me to hold him, Sookie?” Bobbie offered, but Alex said, “Nah, Mamee,” so Sookie just laughed and shook her head. Alex sat on her lap and flirted with Claudine as Sookie finished her salad, declaring it nowhere near as good as Alicia’s.
“Claudine, are you still trying to become an Angel?”
“Yes, I am – I’m making headway, too. It might be as little as two years now.”
“How do they decide who’s an Angel and who’s a Goddess and all that?”
“Ultimate decisions usually come from the Global Council with the approval of the Living Pantheon in normal successions like mine from Sidhe to Angel. Some people, like you, made your choices in other places and times and are fulfilling an individual destiny or some higher purpose.”
“Did I have to agree to it?”
“Probably.” Claudine knew Sookie could never know that Niall made a bargain that made the decision for her.
“Can I change my mind?”
“Not without hurting a lot of people in your wake. Just relax and enjoy it, Sookie. For all the trouble you may encounter, you’re going to have a lot of joy in your life. It’s worth any price to have what you have.”
“You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
Claudine was shocked. She wasn’t showing at all yet. “What gave you that idea, Sookie?”
“I can see it in you. I can’t explain it, but there are two souls with you now.”
“Yes, I’m supposed to have twins – that’s quite common with Fae, you know.”
“No, I didn’t. When are they due?”
“Four months hence.”
Sookie hugged her tightly. “I’m so happy for you. You won’t believe how wonderful it can be!”
“Yes, well, I won’t be having any young gods, but I’ll love them just the same,” Claudine cracked, only half-kidding.
“So what kind of magick can Fae do?” Sookie asked next.
“You name it. You can find someone who can do almost anything, but not everyone can do everything. Most common are flying, teleporting, and shape shifting.”
“And bending time?”
“Oh, yes, some can tie time-space like a pretzel. It’s one of Niall’s specialties.”
Suddenly, it felt as if the whole world shifted. Sookie lost her bearings for a minute and Claudine caught Alex as she nearly let him go.
“Sookie, are you alright?” Bobbie jumped up and was beside her immediately. Only Claudine noticed Sookie’s fork levitating before Sookie pushed it back down to the table.
“My head’s just swimming a little. I think I need to go to the ladies’ room.” As she stood, Bjorn motioned and four guards surrounded her as Bjorn took the baby from her. Bobbie walked back with them and left Claudine to make small talk with Amelia and Octavia, which pleased Octavia to no end. It wasn’t every day you get to sit down to lunch with a Faerie, and Octavia had a few questions Sookie wouldn’t know to ask.
The ladies’ room was just big enough for two people with a little anteroom for the sinks and mirrors. Bjorn stood in the anteroom with Bobbie and the baby while Sookie went into the little room with the two stalls. Sookie was gone a good long while before Bobbie and Bjorn, who were talking to the baby, noticed.
“I’ll see what’s keeping her.” Bobbie said and stepped through the door.
Bobbie looked around then suddenly looked upward. Sookie was in the corner pressed up against the ceiling, pushing down to keep from being plastered against it.
“Sookie – what the hell!””
“I don’t know – I can’t get down.”
“Can’t get down?”
“No, see?” she released the pressure of her arms and was splayed flat against the ceiling. “Don’t tell anybody, but have Bjorn send one of the guards out to get Octavia, please?”
“OK…” Bobbie was stunned. Surely if she could get up there she could get down? “Bjorn, Sweetie, have one of the guards run and fetch Octavia.”
“Just do, please? It’s… girl stuff.” She asked very sweetly. Bjorn stepped out and spoke to one of the guards, then came back. Bobbie had gone back in so Bjorn decided just to barge in, girl stuff or not.
“Holy hell, Sookie!”
“Shit. I was hoping you wouldn’t find out,” Sookie said as she tried to push away from the ceiling.
“How did this happen?” He couldn’t believe it.
“I don’t know – I felt woozy at the table and I thought if I came back here for a minute it would pass. Next thing I know, I’m up here and my panties are down there.”
“You floated up out of your panties?”
“Sort of, yeah.”
Bobbie was biting her lip not daring to laugh but Bjorn didn’t even try to hold it in. There was a knock at the door and Bjorn opened it to let Octavia in.
Octavia just shook her head. “OK, so what have you been doing that you knew you shouldn’t do that put you in this awkward position?” Octavia knew there would be an obvious answer.
“Spill it, Queenie, what’d you do?”
“I might have…uh…”
“Taken a swig from that old bottle in my room?” Sookie said apologetically
“The bottle that Eric is to give you from before he goes to rest and no one is supposed to touch any other time?”
“Yeah, that one. I only took a swig….”
“Did you know what that would do to you?”
“I didn’t think it could hurt anything…”
“You aren’t hurt, that’s true.”
“Yeah, but, how am I going to get out of here?”
“Well, odds are, it will wear off eventually.”
“But we’re ready to leave, almost…”
“Yes, quite the predicament you’re in, Queenie.”
“So, how do I get down?”
“I don’t know. Alex, can you bring Mommy down to the floor?”
“Nah nah,” he giggled, loving this.
“Woo hoo?” Claudine looked through the door and then up. “Oh, dear. Sookie, you haven’t been nipping at that bottle Ludwig gave you, have you?”
“Yes, definitely!” Octavia said, aggravated that Sookie was trying to minimize her responsibility again.
“OK, so how do I get down?”
“Give me your hand, Sweetie.” Claudine reached up, “Bjorn, put those big muscles to work and grab her other hand.”
Bobbie took Alex into the anteroom and Octavia stepped out to give them room to work. It took all the strength Claudine and Bjorn had to pull Sookie off the ceiling, and they managed to get her most, but not all, the way down. Her feet were sill dangling about 4 inches above the floor, and that was with Claudine and Bjorn holding onto her.
“Ms. Octavia,” Claudine said with some strain in her voice, “please reach into my bag there and see if there’s an enchanted necklace of hematite beads.”
“Oh – good idea,” Octavia agreed and looked in the bag where the beads were laying right on top. She took the beads and reached up to put the necklace over Sookie’s head. Gradually, Bjorn and Claudine were able to ease up their hold on Sookie and after about five minutes, Sookie touched ground.
“Alright, doll, I don’t know how long that’s going to work, so have somebody pay the bill and you get out to your car. You need to report this little incident to Dr. Ludwig, so she knows how much you’ve taken. From now on, take it exactly as instructed, please?” Claudine was trying not to laugh, because this could have been serious, but it was too funny.
“I will, I promise.”
Bobbie retrieved Sookie’s undies and put them in her bag, then took Sookie’s credit card and paid the bill as the guards hustled Sookie and the baby out to the car. Claudine bent in through the open door and gave her a kiss, telling her not to worry about returning the necklace. She recommended keeping it nearby for a while and Octavia agreed that was a good idea. Octavia rode back in Sookie’s car with her, the baby, Bjorn and Jerry and Sookie got an earful about not messing around with powers she didn’t understand as they sped home. Sookie went straight upstairs and took the necklace off. She floated up off the ground a bit and went to lie down, but was floating three inches or so above the mattress. Octavia came in to check on her and sat at the side table.
“Damn it – I really wanted to go shopping.” Sookie berated herself.
“Go tomorrow,” Octavia told her. “It’s not the end of the world. It could have been much worse.”
Sookie looked at her with disbelief.
“Hey, you could have floated out of your panties out in the main room. This way, only family knows what happened. Imagine if the tabloids got word of Queen Sookie kissing the ceiling in the middle of a restaurant.”
“Oh, lord – can you imagine? What would Eric say?”
“You’ll know in a few hours when you tell him what happened.”
“Yeah, I guess I do have to tell him, don’t I?”
“Yes, you do. He’d skin every one of us if he found out we kept something like this from him.”
“Yeah, and he’d have every right to.”
“Yes, he would. You got lucky this time, girl. Any damned thing could have happened. What if the kitchen exploded? Or the car? What if something happened to the baby? Or you disappeared again and we had no clue how to find you? You got lucky the other night that Alex knew how to figure out where you were. Eric would have been a wreck.”
“I know. I’ve got all kinds of nightmare scenarios running through my brain. Eric said I was being a brat the other night.”
“Imagine that!” Octavia said as she sat in the chair next to Sookie. “What do you think?”
“I thought, when I woke up this morning, that I finally got it. I thought I understood the gravity of the situation. Then I go and do something like this! What was I thinking?”
“You weren’t thinking, kid, you were reacting. You have a habit of reacting first and thinking later. You’ve got to develop some discipline, Sookie, especially at these levels. You’re in touch with literal, Universal forces. One small mistake can have sweeping repercussions. What happened today is what I call “a Universal kick in the ass out of Grandmotherly kindness.” The Goddess teaches us lessons, and when we don’t learn our lessons, She gets more definite about it. Right now, you think everything is no big deal – you’re used to having no consequence to those around you. You aren’t that unfettered girl anymore. You have great importance and are of great consequence to everyone around you – your husband, your baby, your extended family and friends, your kingdom and everybody who ever stuck their neck out for you is counting on you. Didn’t the Ancient Pythoness stand up for you twice?”
“Yes, She did.”
“Do you have any idea what that means?”
“Honestly – probably not.”
“It means that She chose a side – YOUR side – and if your side loses, you take Her down with you and everyone between.”
“I never thought of it that way.”
“You’d better think about this stuff and quick. Eric said he thinks he needs to explain things more clearly to you and I’m thinking that’s exactly right. You two need to spend more time talking about what’s going on in every aspect of your lives. Your vacation ends a week from today. What are you going to do this week?”
“I’m going to talk to Eric as much as I can, sleep as much as I can, follow my doctor’s orders to the letter, enjoy my baby while I can and really start getting my head ready to be Queen Sookie when I go back to New Orleans.”
“Sounds like a good plan.”
“Knock, knock?” Bobbie was on the steps outside.
“Hey, Bobbie, come on in.”
“Your little buddy is on his afternoon nap so I thought I’d bring him up to you. How are you feeling?”
“Still a little “high,” as it were, but getting better.”
“Bring him over and tuck him in, Bobbie, and we’ll go let these two take a nap so they’re fresh when Daddy gets up,” Octavia suggested.
“Thanks, guys,” Sookie smiled as Bobbie put the baby in the co-sleeper, and she and Octavia closed the door behind them.
Sookie watched Alex sleep and fell asleep after only a few minutes, still above her mattress.
“Wake up, my lovely wife,” Eric said softly to her, stroking her cheek and smiling at her.
“Hey – I thought you were going shopping today – where are all the packages?”
“They didn’t tell you?”
“No, everyone seemed to think you should tell me about your afternoon.”
“Yeah, I should. I’m so stupid.”
“Sookie, look at me,” He made her look him in the eye. “You are not stupid. You’ve got some bad habits and you don’t understand how important you are, but that’s going to change.”
“You and I are going to talk about things a lot more. Between fucking and playing with the baby, we’ve lost sight of how all this change is affecting you. As of right now, we stop and regroup, and we come back stronger than ever, OK?”
“Now,” he said as he sat up against the headboard, “you snuggle up here with me, and tell me what happened today.”
“Alright, well, I’m going to go backwards because I want to end with what happened after I cast that circle.”
“Interesting. OK, so what was the last thing that happened?”
“I was at lunch with Claudine and the girls and I felt woozy, so I went to the ladies’ room – you wouldn’t believe what a production that is with all the guards – then I got in there and pulled my panties down and suddenly I’m up against the ceiling and they’re down on the floor.”
“You were on the ceiling?”
“No, I couldn’t get down. I think it was what you’d call a side-effect.”
“A side-effect of what, Sookie?” he was getting concerned now.
“Of taking a swig out of the bottle before I left the house.”
“Oh, Sookie,” he sounded sad, rather than angry, and that shocked Sookie. “Are you hurt? How do you feel now?”
“I’m fine now. Claudine and Bjorn had to literally pull me down and she had a string of hematite that grounded me until they could get me home. When I first lay down here, I was three inches off the mattress.”
“But you are unharmed?”
“Yeah, just embarrassed. Octavia pointed out that it could have been much more embarrassing if I hadn’t gone to the ladies’ room when I did.”
“Yes – it could have been quite a problem for us all if humans had seen this.”
“Believe me, I am never going to do it again. I’m going to follow instructions, follow doctor’s orders, and keep in mind that what I do affects a lot of other people.”
“Good. I hope that you do.” He kissed her on the head and squeezed her tight.
“Are you angry with me?”
“No, Sookie, I am worried about you.”
“You could have been injured, my Angel, and I see this pattern of you dismissing your own needs at every whim. I have no doubt that you love me, or that you love Alex, or even your subjects, but I begin to wonder if you love yourself.”
“Do you love yourself, Sookie?”
“I never really thought about it. I don’t think I have low self-esteem…”
“Really? Because I love my wife very much and she’s very important to me. Alex loves his Mommy very much and he needs the very best she can give him. Yet you aren’t taking care of my wife or his mother. If you care about us, you must care about you. You are not crazy little Sookie Stackhouse, a bar maid from Bon Temps. You are Sookie Northman – a Vampire’s bonded and wife, a Queen, the mother of a Prince, wife of a King, and that doesn’t even approach how important your status as Goddess will be. You matter. It matters if you take an overdose of a magickal substance about which we know nothing. It matters if you run yourself into the ground for lack of sleep. It matters if you eat the right foods, know when not to pitch a fit and when to cast a circle, or travel to another realm.”
“Bjorn said we have a date tonight for a midnight swim.” What the hell, she couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Yes, that’s what Freyja suggested. She said you have a story to tell me.”
“Yeah, I do.”
Without speaking, both of them scooted down in the bed so they were face to face. They just lay together for a long while, entwining hands between them, perfectly content until Alex woke up later on.
Eric and Sookie laughed and Eric sat up and brought the baby over, kissed him and laid him between them.
“Hey, Pookie,” Sookie kissed his forehead.
“Mamee nah fyeen?”
“No, Mommy’s not flying anymore.”
“Were you there when Mommy was flying, Alex?”
“Eeah – pundy Mamee!”
“Oh, you thought that was funny, huh?” Sookie teased and tickled him.
“I swear sometimes I think he thinks I’m the funniest thing in the world.”
“You must admit, my Angel, you can be very entertaining.” Eric teased her and kissed her forehead.
“I guess it’s dinnertime, huh? We should go down.”
“Actually, Alicia will be bringing a tray up to you. I want you to stay in bed for a while. We’ll do the sword lessons tomorrow night.”
“What about our swim?”
“That’s hours from now. Between now and then you will rest, alright?”
“Yeah. Claudine said that I need to tell Dr. Ludwig what happened.”
“That’s probably a good idea. Part of it is my fault, too. I should have left you a note with explicit instructions, but it never occurred to me that you would get into it before I saw you tonight.”
“You have no idea how good it is!”
“I suppose I don’t. Ludwig said that it is addictive by nature, so I should have erred on the side of caution. I won’t make this mistake again.”
“I won’t experiment with that any more. I’ve learned my lesson.”
“Good,” he smiled sweetly at her. He knew he didn’t need to hammer the point with her. He could feel that she was a little panicked that she had such a close call in a public place. “Why did you cast that circle at Fangtasia?”
“I just needed some clarification about the dominance thing and how it relates to being a Goddess.”
“What did Freyja tell you?”
“She showed me, rather than telling me. It’s my choice and if I choose it, I do it for pleasure, mine and yours. There’s no force in it, and there’s no shame. It’s an expression of my own strength.”
“That’s a good, clear explanation, so when we eventually try it again…”
“No, Sookie, we are taking a break from it. There’s too much going on for you to process right now. Sex games are our last priority, and we have many years for them in the future. For now, I need to get you mentally focused as soon as I can.”
“Doesn’t discipline help that, though?”
“It can, but we don’t have that kind of time right now. The fact that they are already giving you Ambrosia tells me we are years ahead of where I thought we were.”
“Things are still speeding up?”
“Yes, I’m afraid so. Plus, there is some new information that we need to discuss, but that has to be when Alex is asleep.”
“Is it about…” she nodded side to side and Eric nodded in the affirmative.
“We’re awake, Alicia, come in,” Eric called back.
“I have your dinner tray, dear.”
“OK, cool!” Sookie sat up and Eric took Alex in his arms and sat up next to her. “I hope the others don’t think I’m rude for not coming downstairs.”
“Not at all, dear. We all know you need some rest. The blue dish is for Alex. I’ll be back in a bit for your tray. Enjoy!”
“Thank you, Alicia,” Eric thanked her as she left the room with a big smile.
Alex was looking intently at Sookie’s tray. “Are you hungry, Pookie?”
“Alright, my son, let’s see what we have here.” Eric took the blue dish and the little spoon.
“Oh, goodie, I’ve got lobster!”
“I think Alex has, too, and isn’t this corn?”
“Yeah, looks like. He’ll like that.”
Sookie almost spit out her milk laughing at Alex speaking to Eric that way.
“Mind your manners, now, Alex,” Eric told him firmly, “here you go.”
“What was that he just ate?” Sookie asked.
“Yeah, Mommy likes that, too, Alex! Good Lobster.”
Eric and Sookie both laughed at how cute that was. Alex liked the corn a lot, too, so he was a happy camper. When Sookie finished her dinner, Eric put the tray in the hall way and they stripped and lay down together, just whispering softly and playing with the baby between them. Sookie dozed off again at about 8:30, which gave Eric time to meet with Vincent and Bjorn at 9. Vincent had just returned from New Orleans and the new training camp and had a report about their new troops for Eric.
Sookie woke up at 11:25, pulled on a t-shirt dress and went looking for Eric. She found him on the couch in the den giving Alex a bottle and chatting softly with him. Alicia, Octavia and Margaret were in their rooms and Bjorn, Bobbie, Jerry and Amelia had gone on a double date.
She came into the room quietly, hoping Alex was about to go to sleep. “How are my boys?”
“Ah, Mamee,” Alex mumbled, rubbing his eyes and yawning.
“Hi, Mommy,” Eric said and kissed her as she sat next to them. Sookie laid her cheek on Eric’s shoulder and just enjoyed being quiet with the two of them. Alex soon fell asleep and Sookie set up the playpen so Eric could put him in it while they swam. They knew if they put it just inside the door that they’d know if he woke up, but he wouldn’t be right there to be disturbed.
Sookie took Eric by the hand and led him to the end of the pool.
“So what is this story you have to tell me, my Angel?” He pulled her into an embrace and kissed her neck.
“Well, first I have to show you something, then I can tell you. Stay right here until I say move, OK?”
Eric laughed – what was she up to? “Yes, I promise.”
“OK!” Sookie said as she pulled off her dress, slipped off her thong and jumped in the pool. Eric was in shock for a minute that Sookie would strip in plain sight that way, then he noticed she was moving through the water very quickly. On her third trip to the far end of the pool, she flipped, jumped out of the water toward the middle, dove deep, coming up at the deep end right in front of Eric and splashing him with her tail fin.
WHAT THE HELL?
Eric shook his head and rubbed his eyes. Was he hallucinating?
He watched with his mouth hanging open as Sookie made quick laps up and down the length of the pool, doing jumps and flips like a dolphin, and after a minute, Eric had to accept the fact that Sookie had a tail.
She did a Flipper-style tail walk and motioned to Eric, “Come in, Sweetie!” then she dove deep again. Eric was still in shock, but he quickly shucked his clothing, dove into the water and met Sookie in the middle of the pool.
“Sookie, what is going on?” He pulled her to him and ran his hands over her bottom to see if it was true.
“It won’t last long – I have to practice before I can stay this way any length of time.”
“Shape-shifting.” She threw her arms around his neck and he wrapped his arms around her waist.
“You can become any animal you want?”
“Not yet, but eventually, yeah.”
“When did this happen?”
“It’s a carry-over from a previous life-time. When I cast the circle the other night, I asked Freyja if I was neglecting you and how the domination stuff fit in with my being a Goddess and She told me to close my eyes and try to remember. The next thing I knew I was on this sexual Odyssey, flashing through all of these lifetimes where I was having extreme, wild sex with you. We’ve known each other so many times! Did you know?”
“Yes, I began to remember after we bonded,” he smiled sweetly at her. He was so relieved that she finally remembered! It wasn’t just his imagination.
“No wonder you were so impatient with me! Anyway, it turns out, I’m going to be able to do a special kind of temporary shape shifting. Right now, aquatic animals only, because they’re easier or less complex or whatever, but eventually, I’ll be able to do anything. I can already change my looks – I can be pale and white like a Vampire or I can make myself look golden and tan. I can even change my hair color. The changes only last until I sleep, though.”
“Sookie, this is amazing!”
“Yeah, but like I said, it’s just aquatic animals right now, so there’s not a lot of use for it. Mermaid is the easiest transition because it’s part human. I’m supposed to practice every night and She said I’ll know when it’s time to try other animals.”
“Are there rules or anything?”
“Not rules, but guidelines. She wants me to practice when the moon is out, so on the dark moon or cloudy nights, I won’t do it. It will always be easier for me to do it at night, but by the time I can do land animals, I should be able to shift easily whenever I want. The best part is that there’s no compulsion to change on the full moon. It’s completely my choice when and if I do it.”
“It’s so funny that we were just talking about mermaids…”
“Yeah, well, when she asked me what I wanted to turn into first, that was the first thing I thought of. I guess it was in the front of my mind because we were talking about it, but I used to daydream about being one when I was little. Freyja actually took me out into the ocean and I met others. They thought I was real, too, they had no idea it was a shift!”
“Can you breathe under water?”
“Yep! I can do anything any other Mer can do, including communicate the way they do. Most of them don’t speak human language, you know.”
“Yes, I do know – the only ones that normally do are Sirens and they’re quite dangerous.”
“Exactly. I swam with a huge group of dolphins while I was at sea, too, along with some other Mers. Dolphins love us, apparently.”
“What’s not to love?” Eric joked.
“Yeah, I guess. That mermaid you fucked in the desert – what was her name?”
“OK, she’s not one of the ones I met. How did she let you know that she wanted to, you know?”
“Well, everyone was swimming naked so she simply took hold of my cock and pulled me to her – there wasn’t much doubt what she wanted;” Eric laughed.
“Like this?” Sookie gave him a sultry smile and began to stroke him as he bent to kiss her softly. Soon he was purring and hard, beginning to lose himself in the sensation, when without warning, Sookie bared fangs of the sort that Mers use to bite through lobster shells and bit his shoulder hard. Eric howled and plunged into her, dragging them both underwater as they began a frenzied rut that churned the water and drove them both mad. It was Eric’s turn to just try to hold on as Sookie changed form several times as they fucked. Her Mer shape gave way to legs wrapped around him and locks of her hair became writhing snakes like Medusa, then she was something more like a panther that made Eric think of the movie Cat People. She became a lioness, like Sekhmet, then she was lupine and growling and bit him again on his arm. As she sucked on his wound he bit her shoulder, drinking deeply. Intoxicated with each other’s blood, they sunk writhing to the bottom of the pool, then Sookie somehow propelled them upward and into the air.
Eric’s howl had drawn the attention of the guards and they were standing back behind the construction, trying to be sure everything was alright. When Eric and Sookie took to the sky, they were amazed.
They spun and rolled in the air, growling, scratching, biting, then Eric was the first to howl as he came. Sookie had come each time she changed shape, but now she had a massive release that made her howl and scream in a shower of orange sparkles. Eric had the presence of mind to move them over the grass and let them down on the ground, where they lay in each other’s arms, exhausted.
The guards were stunned – the frenzy had gone on for nearly two hours and they weren’t sure what they saw, but they knew it was wild and bizarre. They were debating whether they should check on them, they had been still so long, but then Eric stood up and carried Sookie indoors and closed the curtain. Eric zipped up stairs with Sookie at maximum Vamp speed, then came back for Alex. Sookie was in that sleep that’s deeper than sleep, so Eric tucked her in and wrote in her journal, trying to remember every form that she took.
Alex woke up once more for his final bottle with daddy, so Eric took him into the nursery with a bottle of breast milk and one of RM. Alex seemed to want to talk as much as eat, so Eric let him chatter, especially when he laughed and said, “Mamee dood pish!”
“Mommy is a good fish?”
“Eeah! Mamee pish ina wada!”
“Yes, she was. Did you see her?”
“Then how do you know Mamee’s a fish?”
“Freyja! Mamee bi Dadee!”
“Yes, Mommy bit daddy. Daddy didn’t know Mommy had fangs!”
“Eeah, ee bud.”
“She ate blood? Yes, she did.”
“Mamee seepeen dood.”
“I hope she’s sleeping well.”
“Eeah, mo seepeen an mo seepeen.” Alex let out a huge yawn and Eric helped him finish his second bottle, then put him on his shoulder and rocked him until dawn. He tucked Alex in next to Sookie, gave Sookie a cupful of Ambrosia and kissed her good night.
Eric had a lot to process as he went to sleep this day, and he wondered if he even remembered it all. Was there missing time between them again?